Online and for-profit teacher "preparation," another innovative job creating strategy from the job creators who created Rick Perry. A clip from the Hechinger Report:
iteachTEXAS, begun in 2003, is the first for-profit, non-university based alternative certification program to expand across state lines, with the newly created iteachU.S. operating programs in Louisiana and Tennessee. Additional offshoots will soon come to Michigan and at least two other states.Today the iteachU.S. website says that the NCATE site visit is planned for the Spring of 2010. Hmmm.
Diann Huber, president of iteachU.S., said the program’s goal is to provide a new career opportunity for people who have been laid off in other industries, like auto workers in Michigan, who may be able to use their knowledge to teach high-need subjects like math and science.
Texas began experimenting with alternative certification programs in the mid-1980s. Then, the state “didn’t regulate who was operating private programs, and people saw that was a way to make a fast buck,” said Rae Queen, the president of the Texas Alternative Certification Association, who also runs a for-profit alternative certification program in San Antonio. Queen said the state now has a much more rigorous application and audit process for certification programs. In 2008, the state also instituted a minimum grade-point average of 2.5 for all teaching candidates.
Still, Queen said the reputation of for-profit programs suffers. “There are some companies out there that say ‘you want to be a teacher, start today,’” she said, “and they’ve done that through their own advertising campaigns.”
Some traditional educators believe that for-profits, which typically charge around $4,000 for a program leading to certification, accept applicants with little regard for demand or how they might perform in the classroom. “The for-profits will take anyone,” said Nell Ingram, director of the Dallas Independent School District alternative certification program, adding that her program will not offer courses in subjects that are not in demand.
Principals offer mixed reviews of teachers hired from for-profit programs. Most say those teachers succeed in the classroom at the same rate as traditionally certified ones, but others report that they seem less prepared.
Bettejean Gosnell, who earned her certificate through iteachTexas about seven years ago and teaches special education in Argyle, said she was the alternative certification “poster child,” a former Nabisco employee whose busy life drew her to online teacher certification courses. But while she said the program “worked out perfect” for her, she said it did not support her once she was in the classroom.
“I remember thinking that I wanted constructive criticism,” Gosnell said, “and I wasn’t getting it.”
The state’s most recent effort to regulate the industry came in the last legislative session, when Representative Mike Villarreal, Democrat of San Antonio, offered a bill that would require potential teachers to spend at least 15 of the mandated 30 hours of practice teaching in classrooms.
The bill struggled to pass — in the end, a watered-down version made it through — because of opposition from some in the for-profit industry, who went after it, Villarreal said, because of their interest in “having as much flexibility as possible to deliver a very simple curriculum with limited time commitment” to process clients.
Vernon Reaser, president of A+ Texas Teachers, testified against the bill at a hearing in March. Reaser said it could have unforeseen practical consequences that could burden school districts and would not necessarily raise the quality of teachers in the classroom.
Reaser, who did not return further requests for comment, supported the changes to the bill that ultimately passed. . . .