New Jersey Debates Charter School Teacher Qualifications

by E. Cohen

A proposal in New Jersey would give high performing charter schools more lee way in concern to the hiring of teachers and principals for the school who don’t have a traditional background in concern to teaching. Various opponents arguments state that it would hurt the quality of the instruction that children would achieve. They also argue that public and charter schools should be held to the same standards. Supporters argue that there is a shortage of teachers in key subjects and that the regulations prevent the hiring of for example scientists, from being brought in to teach the specific specialty subject. It would be the idea of having professionals in the industry be the teachers of those subjects to the charter school students.

The conflict that has emerged according to the article, is the debate over how much freedom the charter schools should have from state mandates. The State board of education in New Jersey is expected to discuss the proposal on Wednesday to decide on the next steps. The five year program if approved would work as follows: The charter schools could hire teacher candidates with bachelor’s degrees who also satisfy two criteria from a menu of four choices: having at least a 3.0 grade point average in college, passing a basic skills test, passing a test of subject matter, and having relevant experience in work or education. The traditional path to becoming a teacher faces higher standards than this with hours of certification needed.

There are many various different arguments to whether the charter schools in New Jersey should face different standards than the public ones, with various political education leaders taking different stances on the issue.

Article by Leslie Brody, “Charter Schools Seek More Leeway in Hiring Teachers.” Wall Street Journal,  January 29, 2017. 

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2 thoughts on “New Jersey Debates Charter School Teacher Qualifications

  1. I think one of the most important things to remember is how difficult it is for charter schools to fill these positions. Many people in the STEM field have received at least a 3.0 in college, can pass a basic skills test, pass a test on the subject matter, and have relevant experience in work or education (These are the four requirements they must meet). There is not a shortage of STEM professionals/academics that meet these four requirements. Introducing this standard into charter schools would fill he void that currently exists when charter schools are looking for applicants to teach in these fields. It is not common for someone in the STEM field to ALSO have completed the traditional path of becoming a teacher regarding higher standards and hours of certification.

    The question essentially boils down to two points:

    1) are STEM professionals who have completed the four requirements capable of teaching, and

    2) should charter schools be allowed to have different standards for hiring STEM professionals than public schools?

    The first question is easy to answer, if they pass the four requirements then they are most likely capable of teaching the material. However, there would need to be an evaluation process during the course of their teaching that confirms that they are actually good at teaching the material (this can be accomplished through having other teachers sit in on classes, surveying the students, and other traditional methods of collecting data; both qualitative and quantitative). If the teacher is able to successfully teach during this trial then they should be treated as if they are a teacher who has gone the traditional route (and if they do not, they should be released from the position).

    The second question is more difficult to answer and I feel that it is not possible to answer until we have more data available (that is; we must be able to observe some of these trial periods and confirm or reject their reliability). After we observe a series of trials then we will have a better understanding on whether or not these professionals can teach at the level of a teacher who went the traditional route. IF there are enough teachers who can accomplish this then the charter schools should be able to hire teachers through the four requirement/trial method and if there are not enough teachers who succeed at this method then charter schools should not be able to hire through this method (assuming all other amendments to the process have been exhausted).

    Philip Erdman

  2. As a charter school teacher, I had to go through the same qualification process that public school teachers did. I originally went to college for education and therefore had to follow the same process of becoming a teacher as public school teachers follow. I never intended to work in a charter school and “stay” in a charter school, but I know all of the teachers I work with are completely certified in their subject area. I have never worked with a teacher that did not have a degree in education and/or was not certified.
    As a teacher, I feel it is the responsibility of both public and charter schools to hire certified teachers. It should not matter if they do not necessarily have a background in education. If they are certified, pass their clearances, interview well, who is to say they are not qualified to work in a classroom?
    Did going to college necessarily prepare me to work with children? Not necessarily. My education provided a great background to refine my craft as a teacher, but my experiences with children have helped to shape me as a teacher.
    Both public and charter schools should be held to the same standards when it comes to hiring qualified teachers. A background in education may not make you a great teacher, your experiences may make you a better, more qualified teacher as long as you pass/meet the requirements or criteria for working in a school system.

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