Here are some of the impediments that I've heard from a number of people from a number of backgrounds:
- Can't attract good talent
- Teacher ed programs let in lower level students
- Teacher ed programs are too easy
- Teacher ed programs don't teach the right stuff
- Teacher performance pay programs actually discourage the people they are trying to attract
What if teacher ed programs became as difficult as law school? What if the certification exam became as difficult as a medical certification exam?
Let's say for starters that there were no increases in pay for teachers. One could reasonably assume the teaching pool would shrink--perhaps drastically. (Now, anyone who has read this blog before knows that I don't think much of teacher certification, but bear with me.) So, the pool of teachers shrinks drastically. Let's say the new certification applies even to teachers with current certifications and many of those can't pass the new exam.
Just for grins, let's say that the pool of teachers shrinks by 30%. There are a couple of options, but let's just say to compensate, we increase class size by 30%. That seems terrible at first, but then we have to remember that, at least in theory, we now have only the best teachers remaining. I don't know about you, but I'd gladly increase my child's class size 30% IF I knew that there was a high probability that my student would have a truly outstanding teacher.
However, in addition to this challenge, we've now freed up 30% of the resources that used to go to marginal or incompetent teachers. Because many benefits are fixed dollar amounts, we could increase teacher pay more than 30%. Teacher salaries being higher, more people would then be attracted to the profession.
I'm not sure this is the perfect solution, but given the current state of education in many sectors of the U.S., I wonder if something like this needs to happen to kick start improvement in teaching and teacher ed programs. In fact, as I think of this, I can think of a couple of ways this might help teacher ed programs get better. Perhaps that's another blog.