West Virginia natives will be far more likely to remain in teaching positions past two years and are going to receive far more than a five-week crash course. Ultimately, our alternative certification programs will result in a certified teacher with a commitment to our state.
Study after study finds students perform better when taught by fully certified teachers. Teachers are trained professionals. They have gone to college to perfect their craft and have gained wisdom with experience. Lowering standards to bring in non-certified teachers is not going to improve public education in our state.
A few years ago when West Virginia experienced a shortage of physicians, we didn't look to lower standards for our doctors and allow college grads without medical degrees to practice medicine.
Instead, we made a concerted effort to entice those in the medical profession to stay. The exact opposite is true for educators. We constantly criticize teachers and blame them for all the ills of public education and then we wonder why we can't fill our teaching vacancies.
Let's be honest. Teach for America is not the answer to teacher shortages. We already have non-certified teachers in classroom positions. Simply bringing in more non-certified teachers through another program doesn't solve any of our problems.
TFA and similar programs are simply Band-Aids. Let's get serious and talk about ways to fix the problem and do what is best for students.
Lee is a special education teacher at Princeton Senior High School in Mercer County with 22 years of classroom experience, currently on leave to serve as the president of the West Virginia Education Association.