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Board discusses eliminating certification for teachers

By Kyle Barnett -   Jan 24, 2013

Members of the St. Charles School Boardís legislative committee said efforts by the Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) to make it unnecessary for teachers to be certified may not be the best path for public education.

District 3 board member Dennis Naquin, the legislative committee chair, said BESEís discussion on not forcing teacher certification was puzzling.

"They donít feel that teachers need to be certified anymore," Naquin said. "It continues to open that door a little bit wider for the agenda that the state continues to push down the throats of school districts throughout the state of Louisiana."

School board president Clarence "Sonny" Savoie said he thinks the recommendation to allow uncertified teachers to work in public schools would not be a travesty.

"They are trying to say anybody can teach. It is a fallacy," Savoie said. "I just think it is travesty for a person who is a state superintendent and others to say that teachers should not have to be certified."

Savoie said the certification process helps eliminate those who likely would not be good educators.

"They are trying to keep out some quacks and kooks," Savoie said. "Unless you know the rigors of going through the certification process you have no idea of what it takes to become a teacher."

To become a certified teacher in Louisiana, those who pursue an education degree must go through specific coursework in college, as well as a teacher preparation program that puts them in the classroom for a number of months as a student teacher. Those who are in other fields and do not have an education degree, but would like to become a teacher, can receive similar alternative teacher training.

In addition, teachers must pass a standardized test to earn certification.

Savoie said taking away all of those requirements would open the door for unqualified teachers to enter the education field.

He said BESE members do not fully understand the ground level work in the education field.

"It just angers me to see the disrespect they have for these people. Pretty soon we wonít have any good teachers left and weíll have animals running the zoo," Savoie said. "These people in Baton Rouge donít come down from their high mountain and have a clue what these teachers are going through."

He said certification is the mark of a professional educator.

"You command respect when you are certified because people know youíve gone through the process. You can do the job," Savoie said. "Just throwing in somebody that has a degree doesnít mean you can be a teacher."

Savoie said it does not make sense to him that other important professions would need a certification process, but not teachers.

"I guess it never ceases to amaze me what comes out of BESE. We can certify doctors and public accountants and a lot of other professions, but we canít certify public educators," Savoie said. "Iím just wondering if anyone on BESE needs a brain surgeon because Iíve got an uncertified doctor I can send them to."

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