* Although I agree with making sure applicants are qualified to teach (editorial, April 17), it needs to be pointed out that some very qualified applicants are being turned away by the unrealistic financial burden that it takes to become a credentialed teacher. As a seventh-year teacher I am mentoring my friend, a single mother of four, as she attempts to become an elementary teacher. She has put herself through school for many years, scraping by on loans and scholarships. Now, as she nears the finish line, she appears to be hitting quicksand.
How can someone in her situation student-teach during the day for free, go to school at night while supporting four school-aged children and still be able to come up with all the extra fees to pay for the qualifying exams, fingerprinting process and a credential application fee? If we have a teacher shortage coming, it seems this mess is only going to get worse.
To meet an urgent need for teachers, your April 17 editorial speaks of finding incentives to attract midcareer professionals who already have the expertise. Midcareer professionals who turn to teaching have already accumulated some Social Security entitlement and probably have higher degrees--hence the expertise.
As an incentive, the LAUSD offers a bonus of $200 and $300 a year for someone with a master's and a doctorate degree. Social Security's contribution is to reduce the entitlement the professional has already earned if he/she goes into public school teaching instead of just retiring early. We need to rethink the incentives.
While I agree with the suggestion that we need to make sure the teachers who are teaching our children are qualified to teach, I would like to extend the idea to make sure the school administrators can administrate. Another step would be to make sure that school board members are qualified. How can we do that, I wonder?
Current "double-dipping" laws greatly penalize those who wish to finish their working years as teachers after a military, federal or Social Security-covered career. People who love kids, love learning and have "real world" knowledge and skills are an invaluable resource in this profession; unfortunately, we take a huge (60% or more) cut in cumulative retirement benefits if we make this transfer.
I would never have made my personal choice to become a teacher after my retirement from a career as a fighter pilot 18 years ago had the 1986 "double-dipping" laws been in place when I retired from the Air Force.