The best attainable and realistic way to improve teacher quality is simple: raise the qualifications for teachers entering the classroom.
The required grade-point average to get into a teacher education program is often much lower than the GPA requirements of other professional degree programs. Why would a young person with a 4.0 GPA want to enter a teacher education program that eagerly accepts a mere 2.5?
Many educators today are passionate overachievers, but too many are not. The environment that forces effective teachers to tolerate colleagues who don’t know their content or care to learn demoralizes us. Administrators year after year asking us to cover for the failures of less-capable or motivated educators demoralizes us.
The environment that requires some of us to spend 60-plus hours a week working to be good teachers demoralizes us. The environment that encourages people to move quickly into administration, so that they can earn high salaries and boss us around, demoralizes us.
Again, I ask why would our best and brightest ever want to enter a profession that they know fosters mediocrity? Educators who lack the verbal acuity to produce a coherent sentence or speak articulately should not be educators.
Until we raise teacher qualifications, our schools will not improve. We have to raise the bar for who gets to stand in front of the classroom before we can improve the product produced in the classroom.
Monica Dorner is an English teacher at Sandy Creek High School in Fayette County.
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