I know… we’re a bit focused on education lately. Our teaching licensure bureaucracies are being leveraged as an instrument of the Left to indoctrinate and propagate that indoctrination. They have very little to do with the quality of teaching.
Meanwhile, researchers have found no difference in performance between certified and noncertified teachers. Supervisors also don’t seem to think licenses mean much: The Aspen Institute has found that just 7 percent of superintendents and 13 percent of principals think certification guarantees that a teacher “has what it takes” to be effective in the classroom.
Indeed, preparation programs frequently seem more focused on insisting that would-be teachers embrace an ideological deluge of “anti-racist” and “social justice” dogma. The American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education champions the “integral role educator preparation programs play in advancing scholarly work on Critical Race Theory” and urges them to “resist recent federal attacks.” Accreditation standards for teacher preparation call for candidates to inventory “their personal biases” so as to promote “equity, diversity, and inclusion.” At the nation’s largest teacher-preparation programs, two in five faculty say that their area of study includes equity, race, or diversity — and about a third of these scholars employ a critical-race-theory perspective.
While alternative licensure programs may seem a promising workaround, the vast majority of them are owned and operated by schools of education. The schedule and structure of the programs may look different, but the culture, curriculum, and cost of the training don’t meaningfully change. Even programs such as Teach for America, which is inevitably depicted as an “alternative” route into the profession, typically partner with schools of education to license their teachers.
Proponents of teacher licensure frequently offer analogies to medicine or engineering, arguing that professionals in each field need certain essential knowledge and skills. They have it partly right. Those fields do require licenses. But what they ignore is that licensure in those professions signals only a baseline grasp of the requisite knowledge and skills — not that someone will be a “good” physician or civil engineer. Likewise, teacher licensure is a poor proxy for ensuring that someone will be a good teacher. Perversely, though, even as the ed-school professoriate preaches that good teaching is largely a matter of relationships and emotional intelligence, they defend bureaucratic, rigid licensure systems that just aren’t capable of accounting for these traits.