Imagine a school where Colin Powell teaches the finer points of diplomacy and Meryl Streep guides the newest batch of budding actors. It doesn't exist, but if it did, that's where New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof would send his kids. Kristof usually writes about international issues, but last Sunday he devoted space to skewering the American public school system that requires so-called "qualified" teachers. He even referenced Education Gadfly Show co-host Rick Hess, who argues that while principals may prefer graduates of teaching colleges, they should have the option to hire other outstanding applicants as well. Of course, the best private schools do just that. Kristof believes that the certification process is no more likely to produce good teachers than if schools simply hired bright, ambitious people. He cites programs such as Teach for America and Troops to Teachers, which have produced innumerable successes with "uncertified" and inexperienced folks. And there's an added bonus to opening up teacher hiring: Intro to Latin Dance with Ms. Shakira.
"Opening Classroom Doors," by Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times, April 30, 2006 (subscription required)