Monday, July 02, 2007

Latest on Teacher Licensing Fiasco

I took and passed the four NY State Teacher Certification Examinations that a certification specialist at the New York State Education Department told me I needed to pass. I'm applying for a teaching license in Students with Disabilities, Birth-Grade 2. I passed the Students with Disabilities Content Specialty Test, the Elementary Assessment of Teaching Skills Test, the Liberal Arts and Sciences Test, and the Elementary Education Content Specialty Test.

I took the Elementary Education Content Specialty Test (CST) in 2003. Education schools generally recommend that teachers take this test in the first or second year of their teacher education programs, which I did. Since then, however, a new test replaced the test I took. The new test is called the Multi-Subject CST and, based on study guides, it is basically the same test under a new name. At most, it's a slightly different version of the old test. The state certification specialist I spoke with six months ago specifically told me that my passing score on the Elementary Education test would “be sufficient” for licensing requirements. Not so.

Rather than do the logical and fair thing (accept the Elementary Education CST for people who took and passed that test before the Multi-Subject CST became the new requirement), NYSED is of course making teachers jump through hoops again. The state is requiring people who already took and passed the Elementary Education CST to pay another $88-$150 and waste another Saturday morning taking the Multi-Subject CST (again, basically the same test). Not only is this a waste of money and time, it will also add at least another two months to the time teachers have to wait to get their licenses processed, potentially keeping many teachers out of the classroom come September.

How much more ridiculous can it get? Seriously. What’s sad is that this is just a drop in the bucket of ridiculous red tape roadblocks I’ve come across during the teacher licensing process, and I have many teaching friends and colleagues going through the same thing. I usually try my best to have a sense of humor about it (it's not hard to make fun of NY educrats), but I'm too exhausted now to be funny.

I learned of this new testing requirement after spending several hours on the phone today (mainly waiting on hold) with both city and state bureaucrats, trying convince them to speed up the processing of my license application. Instead, I learned I have to take another joke of a NY State teacher test. (The tests are all complete jokes, by the way.) I can take the test on July 21, but I have to pay $88 plus a $70 emergency registration fee. Then I have to wait until August 20th to get my score. Then I can call city and state bureaucrats all over again to try to get my license application expedited in time to begin working in early September.

Meanwhile, until this is resolved. I have no guarantee of a teaching job for next school year, despite having glowing references from parents, preschool directors, and co-teachers. One dad, who was referred to me by a preschool director and wants me to be his son’s special ed teacher for next school year, is talking with his attorney on my behalf. We’ll see if anything comes of that.

Oh, and by the way, for some reason, this testing requirement was waived for people applying for a license in Students with Disabilities Grades 1-6, but not for people applying for licenses in Students with Disabilities Grades 5-9, or Students with Disabilities Birth to Grade 2. This is what a New York City Dept of Ed “Certification Hotline Supervisor” told me. Sheer brilliance.

When I asked for this policy in writing, I got “shushed.” The supervisor literally said, “ssssshhhhh” to try to get me to stop asking questions about the policy. Then she said that this was “verbal information” she’d been given by “someone” at the state. I swear these people aren’t even sure of what their own policies are. Who even knows if this is actually the policy. But it’s easier at this point to just pay for and take the new test than spend a week of afternoons calling and emailing pinheads and getting frustrated, and then still probably having to take the test in the end.

Well, all in all, it's just another chapter in my book exposing how the inefficient and laughable city and state bureaucracies are crippling New York City’s public schools and convincing talented teachers to either change careers or teach elsewhere. I've learned that public exposure is the only thing that motivates some people to change.