The following letter is to a friend who contemplated undergoing the teacher credential training process.

          Dear Heather,

          With respect to getting your credential in a year, I really can't tell you since I have never been a student at CSUN or any of the Cal State schools. My instincts, however, strongly tell me you will have at least mild difficulties. This whole process does not move quickly, to say the least. Besides applying to the program, getting accepted, and passing your classes you have to take and pass tests. I have been working for almost two years now on an emergency credential and I am just on the point now of having everything taken care of. I have been going to school at Mt. St. Mary's College at night to earn my credential and I have one more semester left. In addition to the CBEST, I passed the Praxis in English and Social Studies. For elementary school, you will have to pass the Multiple Subject Praxis test. I hear it is not that difficult.

          If I were you, I would think about starting teaching somehow while waiting for the process to drag on. Credential classes are mostly (in my opinion and that of many others) fluff and rhetoric that have little to do with what it means to be a teacher. So many times the other students in these classes and me would look each at each other and say, "What the hell does that have to do with my situation day in and day out?" or "Do you believe this crap?" Many of these education professors are totally out of touch with what it is like to teach outside of the university, or maybe they out of respect for the system play lip-service to the party line. I think a lot of time it is their job to mouth the slogans and current woolyminded ideas handed down to them by the California Department of Education. It is the classic problem of too many chiefs and not enough Indians, but all these credential people have their wagons hitched to the gravy train and don't want to change the status quo. Personally, I thought they were nice people, but I hardly learned a damn thing in their classes - and at least part of the time I thought they were totally full of it.

          In my opinion, if you wiped out the entire whole California Dept. of Education and took that money and hired more teachers and reduced class sizes public education would be the better. I think the general public senses this and so there is so much pressure today on the "education establishment." What is needed are many fewer Ph.D'ed education "experts" and much more common sense. I have by now gotten a good glimpse of the rotten core of the current "progressive" educational philosophy and I am not surprised the whole system is in crisis. Supposedly the educational system is "in crisis" because of uncredentialed and pedagogically ill prepared teachers in classrooms. I think the question has more to do with teachers poorly educated in their own specialties they teach. I suspect learing to "teach" has less to do with fromal "education" classes and more to do with gobs of hands-on experience with veteran teachers and the support of administrators and functioning school environments. This, in my opinion, is why so many private schools do so well, even as so many of their classroom teachers do not have teaching credentials or "education" classes under their belts. The teacher education departments are all too often a well-meaning scam and self-perpetuating bureaucracy, in my opinon.

          Yet I feel perhaps we have certain cultural traits in our disfavor as U.S. educators in the late twentieth century. All too often America today to some degree glorifies arrogance and narcissism; it is a great place to be a rock star, professional athlete, or fighter pilot - a difficult place to be a teacher. We idolize freedom perhaps too much at the expense of responsibility, and so of course are young people run amok - especially in the inner cities. One of the Mexican fathers of one of my students once asked me (an American) during a parent conference, "How can this country let teenagers with guns rule the streets?" I had no answer to that question.

          At any rate, if you want to just get your credential as soon as possible and move back to the Bay Area that is one thing. However, I think you are going to have a lot of free time on your hands in the next year. If you are gung-ho to make your bones as a teacher, I would suggest somehow actually doing some teaching while the credential process drags on. I doubt a full load of Education classes will tax you intellectually. Conversely, student teaching will be a full-time thing.

          Bottom line to your question: I think you will not start working as a public school teacher with your freshly minted credential in hand anytime soon.

          Hope it Helps,



          P.S. Don't let my cynicism towards the system affect you unduly; I still believe in the nobility of teaching. In truth, you will be doing God's work in helping young people to grow up straight and true. I bet you will just love teaching in an elementary school once you have jumped through all the prerequisite hoops. :-)


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