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  • by Blaine Helwig

The Title 1 Teacher Gold Mine – Alternative Certified Teachers!

Hiring quality teachers is an absolute must to running an academically successful urban or rural Title 1 elementary school. Of course, the same is true in non-Title 1 schools, but those classroom environment needs are much different and more forgiving than that of a Title 1 school. When I was a classroom teacher and a campus administrator at a non-Title 1 school, I thought I had a grasp of public education and its academic and social needs. I held fast to my protected world view until I worked for a decade as the principal at an urban Title 1 elementary school and that experience was a 180 degree reality check – both physically and emotionally. As the many who are reading this blog are aware based on their own experience, this country’s public school system is vastly inequitable when these two educational settings are directly compared. For that reason, it is much easier to hire non-Title 1 teachers that will be successful in the classroom than in Title 1 schools.

Why are there more Alternative Certified Teachers available?

The structural changes in the United States economy is not only affecting manufacturing jobs and other economic sectors, but it is having a dramatic effect on the public education profession. The number of university graduates with four year degrees and advanced degrees in liberal arts, communication, journalism, social sciences, and fine arts that are experiencing difficulty finding professional pathways has been a boon to filling open public education teaching jobs.

I first noticed the influx of degreed teaching candidates that were not from the College of Education around 2011 and that flow of employment applications continued until my retirement as a principal in 2016. Suddenly, starting in 2011, there were a slew of quality teaching candidates – who only lacked institutional school training.

Why hire Alternative Certified Teachers?

Frankly, as far as Title 1 schools are concerned, whether a teaching candidate attended a university based teacher program or an alternative certification teaching program matters little in my professional opinion and experience. All too often both candidates are unprepared for the Title 1 experience and its demands.

Since it is a basic ‘wash’ when hiring a traditional college of education versus an alternative certified teaching candidate, there are several reasons to consider hiring alternative certified teachers.

3 Reasons to Hire Alternative Certified Teachers

  • Maturity and life experiences – These young men and women have generally worked after college graduation in demanding service industry jobs, and they possess no desire to return to that type of work. Additionally, maturity levels and work ethic are generally soundly established.

  • Open to Praxis - Reality of the Title 1 Situation – Quite often, a lack of exposure to the College of Education coursework is beneficial. Those candidates have not been indoctrinated via educational practices that have not been viable in decades, so they are often open to creative curriculum means that are effective with children from challenging economic backgrounds.

  • Rigorous University Coursework – Alternative certified candidates often possess university degrees that focused on rigorous college content.

Caveat Emptor - Title 1 Campus Administrators

A cohesive campus staff of quality teachers does not happen by accident. They must be trained to be effective in the classroom in practices that matter. So, regardless of where entry-level teachers were certified, they generally require high administrative support in effective classroom management and both classroom pedagogy and schoolwide systems. If a Title 1 School is to experience academic success, campus administrators and master teachers must establish a viable training system to adequately support entry-level teachers to handle the unique demands of the Title 1 classroom. Establish a campus training support system and there exists a vein of gold in alternative certified teaching applications.

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