Teacher Quality: What Parents Can Do
Here are some steps parents can take to help ensure that their children's schools employ well-qualified teachers and to promote teaching as a profession:
Take a survey
Use the National Education Association's "Teacher Quality Checklist" to see how your school's teachers measure up.
See how your state teaching standards measure up
Compare your state's teacher qualifications to those in other states. Some states allow high school teachers to earn a teaching certificate without a major or minor in the teaching subject area and with only a few courses in how to teach. Some states require as few as six weeks of student teaching compared to 15 weeks or more in other states. If you believe your state's teacher licensing requirements are weak, contact a legislator or your governor to express your concern. Lawmakers can rewrite state requirements to make them more stringent. They also can require accreditation for schools of education.
Start a future teachers club
Work with your middle and high school administrators and teachers to start a chapter of Future Educators of America, which provides information on what it takes to become a teacher, career opportunities, and other education information.
Encourage your local schools to establish partnerships with schools of education at nearby colleges and universities
Teacher input to university faculty keeps education schools focused on real-world issues that teachers face. At the same time, a connection with the university allows teachers the opportunity for reflection about the profession of teaching and feedback from teacher candidates and professors knowledgeable about education research and theory.
Demand certificated teachers in every classroom and support efforts to increase pay, professional development, and leadership opportunities
Stanford University Professor Linda Darling-Hammond, a national expert on teacher preparation featured in GLEF interview, says some states are requiring that teacher licenses be displayed, something parents could ask of their local school officials. Among the questions she says parents should ask are, "How many fully credentialed teachers are there in the school my child will be attending?" "How many are engaged in professional development?" "What does the district do to encourage (professional development)?"
"The Professional Development School Distinction." For more information on the benefits of the professional development school concept, read the paper prepared by the University of Kentucky College of Education.
Educational Resources Information Center Clearinghouse on Teaching and Teacher Education. The center offers an extensive Web library of information about teacher preparation and the status of the teaching profession.
Who Should Teach? Quality Counts 2000. This extensive Education Week magazine report provides a state-by-state analysis of teaching standards and licensure requirements as well as a grade on how well states are working to improve teacher quality.