Conservative Index Add

Tuesday, October 15th, 2019Last Update: Wednesday, August 7th, 2019 12:21:15 PM

Teacher Certification

By: Steve Byas

The teacher strike of last spring has brought the issue of public education to the forefront in Oklahoma politics. This column is not going to even attempt to tackle some of the issues concerning public schools in our state that have been floating around out there for several years, such as district consolidation, merit pay, and education vouchers, euphemistically known as “school choice.”

What I want to address is the idea that “certification” molds better teachers. Certification, like all forms of licensing, is very effective in achieving certain objectives, to be sure, including keeping some really good people out of the profession and indoctrinating new teachers into the progressive philosophy of education.

Lamentations about the “teacher shortage” is pretty much crocodile tears, when coming from educationists who put aspiring teachers through a gauntlet of requirements to get certified that have little to do with producing qualified classroom teachers. On the contrary, much of the certification process is designed to produce teachers who are to think alike and talk alike.

Bluntly put, a great teacher is a person who is creative, yet what prospective teachers go through to get certified is to learn that you are to think inside the box. Don’t question the latest educational theory – be it mastery teaching, outcome-based education, school-to-work, whatever.

Another aspect of this certification mantra is to nationalize education, with every teacher to follow certain “standards.” I recently read about “education” in France, in which one of its advocates expressed pleasure that he could look at his watch on a given day and know what was being taught in that grade level or subject area in every classroom in the country. Before you think that is just the French, you should know that multitudes of educationists in this country would like the same thing here.

National testing means a national curriculum. And who writes these test questions? It is not some supporter of limited government and conservative social standards, I can promise you that.

But nothing irritates me more than the slanderous remarks made against those teachers known as “emergency certified.” They are pictured as unqualified, at best, and potential criminals, at worst. Think I am exaggerating? We hear, from time to time, of a teacher who is fooling around with a student or embezzling funds, or what have you. That makes more news, obviously, than the many teachers who try really hard, are honest, are moral, and so on. And it is grossly unfair to tar the vast majority of teachers for the sins of the few.

However, when these stories hit the newspapers, and the rest of the mass media, never are these teachers identified routinely as, “Mary Jones, a certified teacher, was having an affair with her 12-year-old student.” And it would be ludicrous to do, because her being a “certified teacher” has no bearing on her being a moral and honest person.

Yet, if a person is “emergency certified” who also does something criminal or immoral and makes the news, then that piece of information (being “emergency certified”) is slipped into the story, as though being emergency certified makes a person more likely to be a child molester.

What a despicable slander on all these men and women who simply want to be a teacher.

When State School Superintendent Joy Hofmeister was asked if there is any evidence that having an “emergency” certified teacher in the classroom, rather than a standard certified teacher in the classroom, improves educational outcomes, she replied, “Unfortunately, there is a dearth of evidence on that topic.”

Robert Maranto, professor of education at the University of Arkansas, confirmed Hofmeister’s admission. “There doesn’t seem to be much evidence that non-traditionally certified teachers are better or worse.” Maranto added, “I don’t think having a lot of emergency certified teachers is a bad thing. Traditional teacher certification is not a guarantee of quality.”

When you get down to it, what makes a person a good teacher is knowledge of the subject matter, and a burning desire to convey that knowledge to others – a person who gets a “thrill” out of leaving school for the day with the knowledge that he or she has told someone something that did not previously know, or that he or she has conveyed some new skill to another person. Some individuals have the aptitude, temperament, and “knack” for teaching – and some just do not.

All certification accomplishes is that it keeps out many individuals who would make great teachers, if only they did not have to go through a certification process designed to produce a card board cut-out robot.

Steve Byas is editor of the Oklahoma Constitution newspaper. He may be contacted at:

Other Stories From Fall 2018 Issue

Meekness in Exchange for the Exhausting Burden of Winning.

Andrew K. Boyle
Politics is a strange pursuit. Granted, self government is one of the highest and most burdensome...

Conservative Christians Unwelcome at OU

David Deming
The nation was transfixed by the smear campaign launched against judge Brett Kavanaugh. In a...

Pharaoh, Pro-Life Politician

John Michener
When should we abolish abortion, now or later? Pro-life politicians tell us we must support...

Schoolyard Bullies Want Your Lunch Money

Richard Engle
In the recent GOP primaries and runoffs we heard much about teachers, apples, school kids and all...

Stitt vs. Edmondson: A Comparison of Candidates

Tim Bakamjian
Oklahomas two main gubernatorial candidates are sharply different in background and approach to...

YES on State Questions 793, 794 and NO on 798, 800 and 801

Charlie Meadows
Here is my evaluation of the five State Questions that will be on the November 6 General Election...

THE FEDERAL PAGE for Fall 2018

Theodore King
November 2nd Feast Day of All Souls,Happy Birthday to Paddy Joe and My DadHappy 80th birthday ...

Teacher Certification

Steve Byas
The teacher strike of last spring has brought the issue of public education to the forefront in...

Do us a Favor - Don't Vote

Steve Byas
Every election we hear the same blather bemoaning the fact that we have a low voter turn-out. In...

Letters to the Editor for Fall 2018

Constitution Staff
Mid-term Election ProspectsThe 2018 Mid-Term Election, November 6, many have stated is the mo...

TIDBITS for Fall 2018

Constitution Staff
Moodys Improves Oklahomas Bond RatingMoodys Investor Services announced it revised Okl...

Oklahoma Legislative Seats to be Decided

Constitution Staff
The Runoff Primary on August 28 was a disappointment for a number of Oklahoma legislators running...

Appellate Court Judges Up for Retention

Constitution Staff
On November 6, Oklahoma voters will find four Supreme Court justices, three Court of Criminal...

Congressional Seats Up for Election

Constitution Staff
The U.S. Congress is composed of two chambers. Senators serve six-year terms with only a third of...

Races for Statewide Secondary Offices

Constitution Staff
In addition to the governors office, a host of secondary statewide offices, and one seat for the...

In The News

Constitution Staff

Fiscal Year Gross Receipts to the State Treasury
Gross Receipts to the Treasury for both the month of June and Fiscal Year 2019 indicate ongoing...

Constitution Staff

EPIC Charter Schools Under Attack
This summer there was great attention focused on EPIC Charter Schools in Oklahoma. The mostly online...

Constitution Staff

Signature Gathering on Medicaid Initiative Petition Begins
On July 31, Oklahomans Decide Healthcare began gathering signatures on an initiative petition to...

Constitution Staff

Oklahoma Legislature Vote to Diminish Columbus
Senate Bill 111, passed by the Oklahoma Legislature and was signed by the governor, is a great...

Constitution Staff

Legislators Rated
The Oklahoma Constitution presents the 41st annual Oklahoma Conservative Index, rating our state...

Constitution Columnists

Theodore King

The Federal Page for Summer 2019
Equality Act of 2019Elections have consequences. The midterms last fall brought Democrats into...

Tim Bakamjian

Hamilton Is Coming, But Im Not Going
Hamilton the smash-hit Broadway musical is coming to Oklahoma. A whopping 48 shows are scheduled...

Steve Byas

The Lesson of David Boren
I remember when David Boren first emerged on the political scene in Oklahoma, running a long-shot...

© 2001 - 2009 The Oklahoma Constitution, all rights reserved.
Contact the Oklahoma Constitution by calling 405-366-1125 or emailing
Content Management System (CMS) provided by WebTeks CMS.