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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Who will make the best teacher? An ex-Marine or a Middlebury grad?

Military veterans with 60 college credits can qualify for a five-year temporary teaching certificate in Florida, under a new law championed by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Some 538 vets have applied, but only seven are working as teachers, the state education department told The state certification process is holding up would-be teachers: They must pass exams or submit coursework to show they've mastered subject-matter knowledge. Once on the job, they'll have five years to complete a bachelor's degree and earn certification.

"The self-discipline, adaptability, sense of mission over self, and ability to work under highly stressful conditions that military service impresses upon soldiers" are good preparation for teaching, writes Robert Pondiscio in Commentary. "If you ask me who I’d rather have in front of my child’s classroom, a teacher fresh out of the Marine Corps or one out of Middlebury, I’ll take my chances with the jarhead."

Teachers are expected to learn on the job, he writes. Only 7 percent of district superintendents and 13 percent of principals think certification guarantees that a teacher “has what it takes” to be effective in the classroom, according to Rick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute.

DeSantis' idea insults teachers who've worked hard to obtain advanced degrees and certification, said Randi Weingarten, who heads the American Federation of Teachers. It shows “utter contempt for the teaching profession,” said Diane Ravitch.

"If anyone is insulting teachers and showing them utter contempt, it’s ed schools, which wield monopoly power over teacher licensure," responds Pondiscio. These "cash cows" have refused "to take seriously their obligation to ensure that teachers are ready to the degree humanly possible for classroom competence."

“Parents who proudly bring their children to school on the first day of kindergarten are making a big mistake: They assume that their child’s teacher has been taught how to teach reading. They haven’t,” writes Mark Seidenberg, a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in his 2017 book Language at the Speed of Sight. “The principal function of schools of education is to socialize prospective teachers into an ideology — a set of beliefs about children, the nature of education, and the teacher’s role.”
Kate Walsh, the former head of the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) and a long-time ed-school Torquemada, has described this as “not unlike the transformation of Pinocchio from puppet to real boy,” with ed schools aiming to “confront and expunge the prejudices of teacher candidates, particularly those related to race, class, language, and culture.”

Troops to Teachers, which requires a bachelor's degree, has been around for decades, though the Defense Department killed it last year and then was forced by Congress to restart it.

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