From a 'not highly qualified' teacher

Letter to the editor

Posted: Thursday, October 30, 2003

I rarely get my feathers ruffled, but I was dismayed by the Empire article stating that only 16 percent of Alaska's teachers are "highly qualified" and that we fall below the national averages. I am writing this letter to caution readers to please evaluate the criteria used for this rating.

I have lived in Juneau for the past 29 years and have taught for equally as long. First as a ski and snowboard instructor at Eaglecrest, and for the past 12 years as a classroom teacher at Floyd Dryden Middle School. I have a passion for teaching, for learning and most of all for kids. I am highly motivated, totally dedicated and very determined to help students learn. I would like to think that I am also an excellent role model for kids.

I believe those qualities to be very important in a highly qualified teacher. However, they are difficult to measure. So to measure quality, we often turn to numbers and statistics. Please take a look at my numbers:

• Eleven years of classroom teaching, 10 of those teaching earth science.

• Two Alaska teaching certificates, K-8 and 7-12 (biology).

• Total university semester credit hours: 218 (most degrees require about 130).

• Bachelor of science degree in wildlife biology. Included in my coursework are the following science credits: biology, 56; geology, 20; chemistry, 10; astronomy, 3; physics, 4. In addition, I have 20 credits in mathematics. This totals 113 credits in math and science alone.

However, according to the government criteria, I am not highly qualified to teach eighth-grade earth science and must take steps to become so.

(Charlie Brown would say "ARRRRRGGGGGHHHHHHHH!")

Please, before accepting the idea that Juneau's teachers are below standards, take a close look at the way we are being measured.

Mary Grayson


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