Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Call for Alternative Certification in North Dakota

From The Grand Forks Herald, in a story nominally about Teach for America, comes this call for alternative certification in the Peace Garden State.

One roadblock could be the state’s few alternative methods of teacher certification. The National Center for Alternative Certification tracks such methods, the most sweeping of which lets, say, math or physics Ph.D’s teach in a public school without studying at a teacher’s college. But clicking on North Dakota on the center’s Web site returns this result:

“North Dakota is not currently implementing any alternative teacher certification routes.”

That’s a problem where Teach for America is concerned.

“The South Dakota Department of Education has created an alternative certification program designed specifically for Teach For America corps members,” Teach for America reports. Given the success that Teach for America has had in helping to close the nation’s “achievement gap,” North Dakota’s Education Standards and Practices Board should do the same.

While I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment here, I don't see the need to marry it to TFA. As the various fellows programs out there demonstrate, we have plenty of professionals that don't fit the TFA mold who we'd be lucky to rush into our classrooms. Moreover, with the economy in its present state, we have the opportunity to bring a whole group of untraditional teachers into the profession. Whatever TFA's wishes might be, North Dakota ought to establish a route of alternative certification.


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