Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Degree = Qualified?

One thing that constantly bothers me in education is the fact that experience means nothing. Jobs in education are solely based on a Degree. In the business world it is the opposite. You can climb the corporate ladder based on how well you work, your experience. For the most part, the best employees get the promotions. It makes sense.

What about education? Is it the best teachers that get to be a principal? Nope, not at all. All you need is an online degree in Administration. Your prior experience, good or bad, means nothing. Once you have that piece of paper, you are principal material.

The same is true for teacher assistants. Within the last 5 years, teacher assistants in North Carolina were made to go back to school for an Associates of Arts degree. Even those who have 25 years of experience were made to go back. Again, they weren't qualified until they jumped through the right hoops and got that piece of paper.

The same is coming true for preschool teachers. Policy makers are increasing requirements that all preschool teachers have at least a BA degree in early childhood education. This sounds great on paper.


College degrees DO NOT EQUAL better teachers.

College degrees DO NOT EQUAL better principals.


So how do we start hiring based on the best person for the job and not the pieces of paper they have?


Donna said...

It all comes back to accountability standards. Back to NCLB and "highly-qualified". Back to having some easily measurable qualification. (Much like EOG's for the kids, isn't it?) Thus, degrees and certifications. I add this to your comments: National Board Certification DOES NOT equal better teachers.
And as I'm sure we both agree that there are great teachers and administrators out there, great NBCT out there also, I agree that we are missing the boat if we think the degree makes the person a better educator. I wish I had an answer for how to change this system for the BETTERMENT OF THE CHILDREN.

david said...

A degree does not make a good teacher or principal, and experience alone does not prepare a person for the classroom. We want our doctors to have a degree, we even want our auto mechanics to be certified in the latest test and computer analysis devices. How can we put people into classrooms and not prepare them for all aspects of education? Being in front of the class is only one part of the job. Unfortunately in my 35 years of teaching it seems to have become a smaller part of the job. I am a technology integrator in my district, and I see technology as the first thing that is actually changing how students learn and how teachers teach. However, experience with computers would not prepare me for the various special needs of students that I need to address legally. Over simplifying the job of educator by saying that anyone with experience can do a better job, is like picking your doctor because he or she is a really nice person. Both lines of reasoning are absurd.

Aaron said...

Wow thanks for the comment. We are all just started getting into blogging and getting comments really makes my day.

I do agree that we do need degrees, the problem is I have seen a degree mean you are well qualified. I have seen poor teachers with just a couple of years in the classroom start to get an Administrators degree and as soon as they get close to finishing they are an AP. They are not getting these jobs because they excelled at teaching.

I totally agree with your technology statements and I truly believe technology can be an equalizer in education. You said “experience with computers would not prepare me for the various special needs of students that I need to address legally.” Which is true, but I feel your years in education, and teaching those kids, does help.

My goal was not to over simplify a teacher’s job and I don’t feel anyone with experience will do a better job. Just because you have experience doesn’t mean you were good at the job and just because you have a degree doesn’t mean you will be good at the job. I think colleges know this. This is why we have student teachers.

My point is, we need to hire based on the person who best for the position. I just don’t see it happening right now nor can I blame it on the people doing the hiring. With a teacher/admin shortage, we don’t have this luxury.

Again, thanks for reading.