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'Unqualified' Teachers

September 22, 1985

As an emergency-credentialed elementary and bilingual teacher in my second term of employment for the Los Angeles Unified School District, I must take issue with the National Education Assn.'s views as expressed in Garry Abrams' article, "Some New Teachers Are Called 'Unqualified' " (Sept. 13).

I entered teaching last year with a varied employment background. I had no teacher training. I admit that teaching is by far the most demanding and difficult occupation I've held. I had problems my first term, particularly because I began in the middle of a school year. Nonetheless, I made it through, learned a lot on the job and would even venture to say that I've become a rather good teacher.

I continue to take courses toward a bona fide credential as required by the terms of my employment. Though some of the courses I've taken have been helpful, the majority have not. Those that have been helpful have been so only because I'd gotten the practical classroom experience to which I could apply the educational theories that I was learning in the university.

The problems I had during my first term were no different than those experienced by most first-year teachers who have undergone formal teacher training.

Besides, it is not uncommon for people to undergo the formal training and find out that they're unsuited for teaching upon entering the classroom. It is the actual classroom and not the university education program that is the true test of an individual's suitability to the teaching profession.

In speaking with fully credentialed teachers, I have found almost total agreement that teacher training programs are of little if any value.

We emergency teachers are by no means "thrown to the wolves" any more than are any first-year teachers. Our problems result not from the lack of formal training, but rather from excessive workloads, swarms of required paper work and quickly having to learn the ins and outs of one of the world's most complicated and extensive bureaucracies--problems which are not covered in any formal teacher training program of which I know.

Furthermore, as emergency-credentialed teachers, we are appreciated by our administrators and have various resources and mentors to help us.

Prior to my employment with LAUSD, I was required to pass California's new basic skills test (CBEST). Since the exam's implementation, many fully credentialed teachers with years of experience have been required to take that exam and been unable to pass.

So let's get down to business. Rather than attack our district's new teachers, let us focus upon the real problems of education--class sizes that are too large, excessive teacher workloads, massive bureaucracy and the quality of education in general.



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