March 7, 2005
East Valley professionals thinking about a career in teaching could find themselves leading a secondary school classroom as early as August through a pilot program the state will launch this summer.
Or, if aspiring teachers prefer, they could enroll in a fasttrack program at Arizona State University’s College of Education and receive a teaching certificate in time for the 2006-07 school year.
Professionals who follow the ASU path into the classroom would simultaneously earn significant credit toward a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction.
Both certification programs, which seek applicants who already have bachelor’s degrees, come in response to a teacher shortage in Arizona.
"From what I’ve heard, you can write your own ticket if you have a background in math, science or special education," ASU recruitment specialist Brent Sebold said. "You can pretty much choose your school district."
The ASU program for secondary and elementary school teachers involves 18 weeks of evening and weekend classes designed to fit into the schedule of a working professional. Program participants would then have to complete an 18-week studentteaching assignment.
Total tuition for both semesters would be $5,000. But graduates would also finish with a head start toward a master’s degree, which results in higher pay for teachers.
Sebold said the ASU approach is rigorous but does a better job preparing teachers for the classroom than the experimental summer program the state Department of Education is preparing to launch.
"ASU wouldn’t touch that with a 10-foot pole," he said. "The faculty at ASU do not agree at all with that approach, and neither do the school districts."
Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne disagreed. He said qualified professionals who already have full-time jobs and families to support would find it difficult to go back to school for two semesters before switching to a teaching career.
The pilot program he has spearheaded would involve one summer of intense training followed by a paid teaching position with close mentoring. Costs associated with mentoring would come out of each program participant’s salary.
Horne’s goal is to certify 400 secondary teachers through the program during the next two years. Gilbert and Mesa unified school districts are among those across the state that have expressed interest in participating.
"I think both the ASU program and our program will increase the number of highly qualified teachers in the classroom," Horne said. "I welcome the ASU program."
Horne said he worked closely with state universities in developing his program and was surprised at Sebold’s criticism.
Pilot program: For information on the Department of Education pilot program this summer, call (602) 542-3626.
For information on post-baccalaureate programs at Arizona State University, call (480) 965-5555