Your Opinion: Steps to hire, retain qualified teachers

Dear Editor:

Every profession has some poorly qualified members. The teaching profession is no exception. Admittedly this is a serious problem in need of a solution. Some think that because tenure makes it difficult to fire teachers with inadequate teaching skills, tenure should be abolished for all teachers.

Since beginning teachers do not have tenure, they must complete three or four years in the classroom demonstrating satisfactory performance before they qualify. Because tenure is also designed to protect good teachers, I believe rescinding tenure would be “throwing out the baby with the bathwater.” So how do poorly qualified teachers get into the system and how can we solve the problem?

It seems to me that the first step would be to insist that colleges of education hire better qualified teachers to teach their students and to require those students (who would be teachers) to meet higher standards.

Secondly, our state should refuse to certify teachers based solely on their graduation from colleges of education. Before giving them certification, perhaps, the state should require teachers to take a test similar to the SAT. In addition, background checks should also become standard procedure in order to provide better protection for our children.

Finally, local school boards and administrators who hire classroom teachers should have access to the information acquired by the state. They also should require some meaningful recommendations along with the teacher’s professional credentials. Applicants should be interviewed by several experienced educators with first-hand knowledge of the skills required of a well-qualified teacher.

Beyond that, all administrators assigned to work directly with and who evaluate teachers must see themselves first and foremost as part of an educational team. They should not think of themselves as the teacher’s superior but as an important part of the team who will be paying close attention to the needs and performance of the beginning teacher. These professional educators can give much-needed assistance to a teacher who still has much to learn. If after two years the teacher has not proved to be adequately qualified, the teacher should not be retained.

My suggestions are based on my experience as a classroom teacher. However, I retired years ago and situations change. So I do not claim to be an expert, and some of what I have said may already be in place. However, I offer my thoughts for what they may be worth.

Issue-oriented letters to the editor in response to this or about other local topics are welcome. All letters should be limited to 400 words. The author's name must appear with the letter, and the name, address and phone number provided for verification. Letters that cannot be verified by telephone will not be published. Send letters for publication to


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