If I could go back in time and begin my stint at an SEA all over again, I’d dedicate more energy to educator-preparation policy for three reasons.
First, obviously, educator effectiveness is hugely important to student learning, and we could accomplish a much by ensuring that those entering the profession are fully prepared for the tough work awaiting them.
The second reason is that SEAs have far greater power over this issue than most people—including lots of incoming state chiefs—understand.
(The third reason comes later…)
Under nearly every state constitution, the state government is given responsibility for public schooling. Lots of this power is then devolved, via statute, to districts.
But most state-level authority is vested in the state department of education. Though legislatures pass lots of laws related to schooling, they generally know where their expertise ends; and regardless of the issue or level of government, when legislators recognize the water’s edge of their understanding, they defer to executive branch (administrative) agencies.
What this translates to is SEAs’ (and/or state boards of educations’) having huge leeway when it comes to teacher preparation and credentialing.
State law may say that each teacher must have “appropriate certification for the position held,” but determining what a person needs to do in order to earn and maintain certification is in the hands of these departments and boards.
For the uninitiated—actually, for the initiated, as well—this field can feel like a tangle of professional associations and acronyms. There’s InTASC , ISLCC, ...