Accuracy in Media

Salon is both factually incorrect here and also missing the point in a piece saying Arizona doesn’t require teachers to have college degrees.

“Last week, just days after the Arizona legislature passed the most expansive school voucher law anywhere in the nation, Gov. Doug Ducey signed into law another education measure decreeing that public school teachers are no longer required to have a college degree of any kind before being hired. Instead of requiring a master’s degree — which has long been the norm in the profession — Arizona teachers will only have to be enrolled in college in order to begin teaching the state’s public school students.”

A master’s degree is not the norm in teaching at all, not in Arizona or elsewhere. A bachelor’s degree plus a teaching certificate is the usual requirement, and even then, the requirement is to be enrolled in a class leading to the certificate. Being enrolled in a class leading to a bachelor’s degree isn’t that much of a relaxation in policy.

But this isn’t quite the point, either. What the teachers’ unions are complaining about is the relaxation of licensure. This is the process by which if the academic, or experience, or training requirements for a job are increased, this reduces the number of people willing to do the job. This then raises the pay for all those who currently do the job – at the cost of all those folk who can’t get someone to perform the service for them, or have to pay the higher prices. It’s exactly the same thing that makes people do 1200-hour cosmetology licenses in order to do hair braiding.

This is why there’s propaganda from the teachers’ unions against the idea:

“Along with its bills supporting minimum wage repeal, living wage repeal, prevailing wage repeal,” Peters and Fischer wrote, “the ‘alternative certification’ bill and ALEC’s union-busting portfolio can be viewed as part of ALEC’s ongoing effort to undermine an educated and well-paid workforce and promote a race to the bottom in wages and benefits for American workers.”

By relaxing the training requirements, there will be an increase in the number of people willing to take up teaching. This both reduces the teacher shortage and also, over time, reduces the wage premium teaching gains. No wonder the unions are against it. That is, Salon misses that this is actually the point of the process. The one slight correction needed is that it’s a reduction in the privileges gained by teachers through that licensure process, that union-backed choking off of the supply of teachers.

Salon is definitely at the progressive, union-supporting, end of the media spectrum. It ranks around No. 60 in the usual listings for sites on law and government and gains some 8.5 million visits a month.

Salon also, inadvertently, tells us of the likely success of the move:

“Charters and private schools for years have not needed certified folks running schools or teaching kids — as long as the voucher for the kids shows up.”




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