Cheaper by the dozen
The new alternative certification program (which turns mid-career professionals into public school teachers) in Pinellas County, Florida, has hit some bumpy patches. In this year, the program's first, it had a 25 percent attrition rate. District superintendent Clayton Wilcox admirably took responsibility, saying that administrative commitment to the program was lacking. The local teachers union certainly isn't committed to alternative certification: "It doesn't cost us a nickel to hire someone from a college of education," said the union rep. "If the district is paying for this, we ought to be getting something better than what we're getting for free." Teachers with greater maturity and stronger academic credentials - such as those recruited by good alternate route programs - are better than what districts get "for free." Unfortunately, as long as they lack the funding streams available to schools of education (e.g. state-subsidized tuitions, student loans), and as long as their participants find themselves in unsupportive, mind-numbingly inefficient surroundings, alternate route programs will struggle to expand, even if they and their teachers are an excellent investment in the long run.
"Teacher plan has dropout issue," by Donna Winchester, St. Petersburg Times, January 8, 2006