NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

How Important is Teacher Certification?

December 28, 1999

While regulation is often associated with the business world, one of the most heavily regulated "industries" is teaching. Critics have long complained that the heavy regulations keep talented, interested people out of the field, and that we can create a larger supply of teachers by easing licensing rules. Now, some states have decided to dispense with the old regulations, and sign up new teachers instead. In Massachusetts, for example, potential teachers are being lured into teaching with a $20,000 signing bonus as long as they meet other criteria:

  • They must have graduated in the top 10 percent of their college class.
  • They must have majored in the subject they want to teach (as opposed to having majored in "education") and earned a 3.5 grade average while doing so.
  • They must show how their work experience will make them good teachers.

This year the state will hand out 125 bonuses, pay for another 125 prospects to attend an intensive six-week summer school for would-be teachers, and allow another 250 to attend but pay their own way. As a result, people will be able to teach without bearing the time and expense it takes to earn an education degree.

Similar programs in Connecticut and New Jersey have called into question the need for an education degree as opposed to specific academic training and work experience. As one former former education professor notes, "What is taught in ed schools is, by and large, not what teachers need to know to be effective in the classroom. Teachers report that they really develop competence to teach by doing it."

Source: Tyce Palmaffy, "Do Teachers Need To Be 'Certified'?" Investor's Business Daily, December 28, 1999.


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