Tuesday, September 12, 2017

If you have been sick, you could be a doctor

If you have been sick, you could be a doctor.

If you have been sick you could be a doctor.   Across our country, particularly in rural areas there is a distinct shortage of primary care providers.  So why not enlist people who have been sick to fill in for those shortages.  Particularly people with chronic illnesses who have had frequent interface with medical care providers.  That won’t happen because our society believes that physicians have a particular skill set and knowledge base that is important to the delivery of services.  It also will not happen because the American Medical Association (AMA) a professional association would not allow it.
On the other hand, there is also a shortage of teachers, particularly in the areas of math, science and special education.  Unlike medicine, our society believes that if you have gone to school you can be a teacher.  There is no sense that there is a skill set or knowledge base that is required for teaching.  And the National Education Association (NEA) the teacher union does not seem to have any issue with the shortage solution.
Governors in Oklahoma where teacher salaries are the lowest in the country, Arizona and Utah have agreed to allow districts to hire people as teachers who have no formal professional training at all.   These states are hiring teachers with 5 years of relevant experience in the field OR a bachelor’s degree or both. It is neither clear, nor defined, what relevant experience is.   That means that a person does not even need a bachelor’s degree to teach in these states.  The Vail school district in Arizona has hired 24 non-certified teachers to fill in the gap.  But not to worry, 17 of those non-certified teachers are parents of kids in elementary school.  Another 14 parents are teaching in the high schools.  Families should not be concerned.  The district provides coaching to these people twice a month.  Of course, the district is saving money because these non-certified teachers are earning less than a trained teacher would make. 
Other districts are trying to come up with different ideas.  Some districts are prevailing upon retired teachers to come back to the classroom.  In some systems, the school is providing virtual teachers.  Florida operates a “virtual school”.  And that was BEFORE the hurricane.  These virtual schools are staffed by a facilitator who is trained in the subject area.  Another solution is to use student-teachers.  School systems are hiring student teachers as students during the school year before the students have finished their degree programs.  The dean of Radford University does not think that is such a great idea.  “To retain teachers in the field, you want to make sure they’re ready.  Sling-shotting them to the classroom before they’re done with student-teaching is not the best idea.”
What is so confusing about all this is why is no one complaining?  Is our societal regard for the teaching profession so low that we really do believe anyone can walk into a classroom and deliver decent instruction?   This notion almost makes the Highly Qualified of No Child Left Behind seem sensible. 
People jump up and down about bad test scores but there does not seem to be any connect in the public mind between trained and qualified teachers and adequate instruction.   The teachers' union has been very quiet.  Must be that these unqualified people filling classrooms are paying dues and that is all the unions really care about.

So when you think about it, why go to school at all.  After all, we can all be anything we want to be, no training required.   I was sick last week.  Think I will be a doctor next week.

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