New teachers must be trained further

Letter to the editor

Posted: Monday, March 14, 2005

Thanks to the Juneau Empire for presenting both sides to an extremely complicated issue, teacher certification. I have taught in the second largest middle school in the nation, where we would hire 15 to 20 untrained, untested teachers annually. My expertise is based on my seven years as a mentor teacher to those unfortunate souls. Alaska should consider the following hidden costs associated with hiring teachers without formal preparation before implementing this plan.

First, the toll on the untrained teacher is horrible. I have watched competent adults worn down by stress until they became chronically ill. During the first critical year of acquiring teacherly skills, these people are surviving day to day or worse hour by hour. The cost to the school is the high absenteeism due to illness.

Second, disorganized and poorly supervised students tend to "tear up" their environment. I have seen thousands of dollars worth of equipment, furniture and books destroyed by the students of untrained teachers.

Third, students from classes that lack structure and quality teaching carry their frustration with them not only from class to class, but also to the next grade level. A school that has a number of untrained teachers experiences an increase in behavioral problems. More money must then be spent on creative discipline systems such as cameras in the hallways, additional deans and a referral room.

Finally, the real losers in this system are the students. It is difficult to make up a year's worth of academics lost by students who have untrained teachers.

As a professional I find it insulting that those who have the power to make decisions think that some kind of student teaching or test of instructional competency is not required before one steps foot into a classroom. As a society we require that all other professionals have some kind of residency before they practice their professional, why not teachers?

Laura Brady Maaradji

Hawthorne, Calif.

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