Monday, January 20, 2014

National Board Certification is a Terrible Idea

Part time job, only in it for the money...

National Board Certification for teachers is an idea that blows.

I say so because you can't read an article about it anywhere without reading the following sentiments expressed -- be they subtle or not so subtle, you can't escape the message. In a Buffalo News article blustering about the high standards and high ideals of such a certification we hear from  School #19 Principal Linda Brancatella while speaking of a teacher in her school who has completed the program: 

 “This is objective proof that she has the qualifications, and she was willing to work for it,” she said of Sullivan. “We can change some of that perception that we have teachers who don’t care, or aren’t qualified or able to reach our children.”


Am I to proceed on a course of time consuming hoop jumping culminating in a nifty certificate for my wall in an attempt to appease teacher haters with all the usual half assed criticisms of our art ? Namely, it's a part time job, they get summers off, they don't care about the kids, they are only in it for the money, blah blah fucking blah.  Funny I asked my friend the Ironworker what would motivate him to participate in any kind of extra training for his craft and his answers were unapologetically to the point : I'd want to get paid a little more for it. I'd do it if it helped me extend my career -- in a field where a bad step can lead to a dirt nap, never mind a bad evaluation. The 4" highway has its own harsh performance reviews. Would you do it to quiet people who think you aren't any good at your job, that you don't really care about your work or that you are only in it for the money? You mean like bosses or company owners? he asks incredulously. No I mean like the general public who have a low opinion of you. At this he laughs loudly. Well if they wanna lace up their boots and roll up their jeans they are welcome to come out and spend a day connecting with me before they tell me what a cakewalk my job is. So in short you wouldn't do it for that reason then? Shakes head side to side laughing. That's so stupid it's funny he says with a wide grin. 

In the past week I have read about a Psychiatrist whose property has turned up the corpse of a missing man along with a stash of crack. Yesterday I read about an MD who was involved in a fatal DWI crash, the same guy's wife was killed not too long ago by a drunk driver. Who hasn't heard of the hit and run killer MD Corsanti who plowed over a teen age skateboarder drunk, tried to hide his car and walked thanks to some clever legal wrangling from a scumbag lawyer?  And how many doctors this year were rounded up in prescription drug scandals? Not to mention the guy who was molesting his patients while they were under anesthesia. Which one ? you ask. Exactly, I say. Yet in spite of these numerous PR black eyes the medical profession has suffered I have yet to witness any movement that promotes higher standards for doctoring that will douse some of these flames and convince the general public that most doctors care deeply about their profession and live for the good of their patients. Somehow, in spite of the contumely that has been heaped upon their fellows the members of the medical community soldier on firm in the belief that a few bad apples do not a profession make. I strikes me that doctors simply do their job secure in the knowledge that it takes all kinds and unfortunately some of those kinds need to be weeded out. 

Teachers on the other hand seem afflicted with a toxic people pleasing gene one that has left the profession dangerously vulnerable to the attacks of the ed reform movement. Witness our national union leadership locked in a loving embrace with The Gates Foundation as Gates et al do everything in their power to destroy public education.  Rather than mushing ahead teachers stop and give credence to the slings and arrows of malingerers and haters. Teachers have an uncanny ability to self annihilate with only the tiniest nudge from their enemies. Instead of shaking off this ridiculous criticism of the uninformed we hear of teachers willingly subjecting themselves to an enormous regimen of time and work, in part because someone accused them of not caring, being in it for the money, having summers off etc. I am not one to belittle achievements of my colleagues and I admire and respect anyone who engages in further studies for their own edification and for the benefit it will bring to their students. Any idiot knows this is a desirable ambition. But when I hear the balls on the chalkboard voice of someone like the person above trying to change the perception that teachers don't care or aren't qualified I want to find an ed reformer and put him in a full nelson until he screams I take Fem-iron. (That's what the bad kids used to do to Kenny Kencell at the playground but he got them all back by going to Georgetown for Law.) 

The argument that a federal certification seems to line up odiously with national standards like Common Core is one for another day but it's another one that causes me to pause and give the stank eye to this National Board Certification. And finally the notion smacks of Weingarten's wholly ridiculous proposition that teachers need a Bar Exam so we can be more like lawyers and once again to quiet our critics who think we have it too easy. What bullshit. If I wanted to be a lawyer I'd get a prescription for adderall and I'd disappear into a cave with a stack of LSAT prep books for 6 months. But I don't want to be a lawyer nor do I want to be perceived as more like a lawyer. My best teachers were one of a kind characters. They weren't worried about how anyone perceived them or their benefit package. They brought their expertise, their experience and themselves to that great meeting place of teacher student and material. And when they were done I had no doubt my life was richer for their company. It takes all kinds in teaching and if some of us, like some doctors are the kind who need to get the boot then so be it. It won't be very many and in my own career the handful who couldn't cut it are dwarfed by the amazing number of teachers who could not only cut it but thrive in the cutting. Don't go back to school to make people like you. Come to school in a way that allows you to like yourself. 


  1. I am so tired of PD and being improved. The people improving me do not know jack shit. The zillions of courses I have taken have taught me next to nothing about teaching, but I did learn the word salient. Most of what I know I learned on the job from my students and my colleagues.

  2. I am thinking that teachers who go for this National Board certification just do it for themselves. No one tells them to do it and there is no benefit to be gotten from getting the certification. They are of the 'achiever' variety of human. If they were dishwashers instead of teachers, they would enter the 'National Fastest Best Dishwasher' contest as a way of getting that feeling of 'achievement'. Different strokes? I don't have a problem with it, and I am actually glad that there are some folks made that way. If the News reported hadn't written the article, no one, probably not even their Principals (heads so far up the APPR butt) would have even known or cared. That is how it should be. I see a problem when this type of 'achievement' activity is held up as something more grand and noble than it actually is. Like, maybe, paying teachers more money to jump through this type of hoop. I fear that is where the 'ed deformers' would take it. To a VAM situation. As of now, it is a particular activity, suited to a particular type, for no particular end except a personal endeavor. Currently benign. If it becomes anything more than that, I would call it bullshit.

  3. Egotistic....masochistic....narcissistic.... compulsive....CPD ? Nothing better to do....
    Nice to have if you need to cover a hole in a wall.
    It sounds like a lot of work and a lot of money for the "trip".
    London, Rome or Yellowstone sound like more fun...and learning.

  4. Anonymous, yes, indeed, we are all so so tired of being 'improved'. If the public knew how much money is wasted on the incessant inservicing, how much time is wasted on the preparation of the inservices, and how useless the inservices are, it would cause mass investigation. BUT, we as teachers just go and go to inservices
    and never speak up. Ever wonder how many people give this garbage a good
    rating in the PGS system. Many teacher actually give good feedback on those ridiculous post-inservice surveys! Here is my idea of a fun job action. Everybody rates every inservice as low as possible, every time. Then, we get the union to back a job action that says teachers should not attend any inservice during the school day. Or no grade levels, since they are just inservices these days. In fact, attend nothing that takes you out of the classroom during the day. It is amazing the number of wasted hours during the school day spent on inservicing and data nonsense.

  5. ...and no more "all-calls", honors assemblies, IEP and parent conferences during class teaching times.
    ...and no more sending misbehaving kids right back to the classroom, no more long write up for the misbehaving kid to take to the office...just a short check-off until there is a time to back up the short note.

    How about Art, P.E., music, chorus, foreign language , speech, resource room teachers start at 11:00 o'clock and finish at 5:00 so that there are no "specials " during the first two hours of teaching time.
    I used to color the schedule time when all of my students were in the classroom at the same time. It showed me that during only twelve classroom hours per week were all of us in the room at the same time.
    With the "evaluation"crap now in use, it will be really a travesty to judge a teacher when that is a pretty accurate number.
    Besides all the meetings, conferences, visitors , assemblies, absenteeism, misbehavior.... There are speech, hearing, OT, PT, resource, Remedial Reading, Remedial Math, ESL, band, chorus, counseling, nurse visits, Junior participants, /Student teachers....all important activities and support services. Those services take time away from regular class time, and out of the classroom teachers lessons which will be "tested" and used for the teacher evaluations.
    I would love to see the teacher bashes take a classroom teaching job for a year before they get a job in administration, and every sixth year thereafter in order to keep their administrative credentials....