James Kirylo is upset that the Teach for America program allows college graduates to begin teaching with only a few weeks of instruction the summer before they are thrown into the fray of the classroom (June 10, “TFA teachers are unqualified”). Kirylo believes TFA volunteers are unqualified to teach because they are uncertified. They are uncertified because the TFA candidates somehow sidestep the hurdle of taking any courses offered by education schools (LSU, ULL etc.).
I have met a few TFA teachers, and they were all graduates from good colleges who were young, intelligent and probably naive — like many college graduates. Their desire to help solve the country’s education problem is admirable. But my focus isn’t on TFA.
If Kirylo were a bit more candid, he’d have mentioned that he is a faculty member of the education school at University of Southeastern Louisiana in Hammond. He knows that if teacher certification does not require taking useless education school courses, teachers won’t take them.
He does not want someone to ask, “Don’t we want teachers to concentrate in college mastering the content of the subject matter they are about to teach (English, math, physics, music, etc.) rather than waste time on the intellectual baby food that comprises classes taught in education schools?” Kirylo doesn’t want someone to ask, “Why do we even have education schools in the first place?”
Louisiana legislators, do the state a favor and follow the formula that is evidently allowed for TFA — don’t require any teacher to take any courses offered by education schools.
In other words, come up with criteria to teach that don’t involve education school courses. Then, eliminate those education schools altogether and pump the available resources into the other departments that are teaching something worthwhile. Voila! A good chunk of the funding problem for higher education solved until next year (when more cuts might be made).
For the record, I taught at LSU for 15 years and know that higher education faculty are not required to take those “invaluable” education school courses prior to entering the classroom. Why are K-12 instructors singled out for that misery?
Kevin W. Kelly, president
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