Elementary Ed. Certification

Accept All Qualified

A group of UB students is now discovering their career plans were squashed last January when the New York State Board of Regents barred them from admission to graduate teaching certification programs. In an attempt to raise the quality of teaching in public schools, the Board of Regents short-sightedly prohibited a significant number of potentially qualified future educators from admission to the programs. Additionally, UB failed to notify many of its students that they no longer qualify for admittance into its graduate school of education.

It is reasonable to require future high school teachers to hold degrees in the subjects they will teach, but the move to abate admission of psychology and communication B.S. holders from elementary school teaching certification programs is illogical.

An understanding of child psychology and well-developed communication skills are the two of the most valuable abilities an elementary school teacher can have. A teacher's greatest challenge is often working with students' short attention spans, high energy levels, emotional turbulence and unpredictable behavior - hurdles that are best overcome by expertise in psychology and communication.

In contrast to the recently barred fields of study, approved degrees such as political science, Russian and physics are seldom - if ever - utilized in educating young children. Even subjects taught elementarily, such as mathematics, do not require the level of specialization obtained in baccalaureate study. An in-depth understanding of differential equations and knot theory is absolutely unnecessary to teach arithmetic.

UB's failure to notify the large body of psychology and communication students planning to undertake graduate studies in education is disappointing. A student formerly pursuing a career in elementary education reports she was advised upon enrolling at UB to study psychology because the GSE regularly admits psychology and communication graduates into its program.

When the Board of Regents passed the resolution nearly a year ago, the psychology and communication departments should have notified their students of the restriction, even if only via a simple e-mail. Failure to do so crushed the career goals of many seniors. These students are now forced to delay graduation to pursue a new major, choose a new career path or move to another state where they can obtain teaching certification.

This attempt to increase the quality of New York's education further degrades our schools. It refuses teaching certification to otherwise qualified teachers, thereby contributing to a growing shortage of elementary and secondary educators. Cities such as New York are so desperate for teachers that they have begun lofty advertising campaigns and are hiring under-qualified, uncertified teachers at unnecessarily high pay rates.

The Board of Regents is defeating the state's education system with its decision to prevent qualified psychology and communication degree holders from pursuing elementary education certification.