Today I took a Praxis II exam for English Language Arts (there are several types of these purporting to test one’s knowledge of things such as composition, literature, teaching writing, etc.) as a necessary (required) step in attaining a license to teach secondary English in Indiana. (Last month I took a similar test for middle school Language Arts.) Some general observations: most of the test-takers were women both today and last month. Today there were 5 men (out of 20 total folks), 4 of us taking the secondary English exam. This prompted me to wonder, do women not want to teach English in high school? And why do men teach English in high school and not middle school (this springing from the fact that only one other male was taking the middle school test last month)? Talk amongst yourselves. But, this likely has zero to do with discipline as nationally about 3/4 of all elementary and secondary school teachers are women. So think of attacks on unions and teachers in general as likely having a strong gender bias and plausibly misogynistic animus.
Two women in front of me were taking the middle school language arts exam but were both already certified in their disciplines but explained to another woman that they were taking multiple tests in order to achieve further certifications and become “highly qualified” (just to note, the women used air quotes when saying “highly qualified”). I’ve got to be honest, this stuck in my craw; not that they would do this as a kind of job protection (why would I blame them?) but that I could imagine that they were likely operating under the advice of administrators (or simply sniffing the wind and following their noses) wherein existing labor is more readily shuffled around and used in multiple ways as budgets are cut. Plus, I imagine that if the existing shrinking pool of teachers is certified in multiple areas that leaves fewer openings for folks like me trying to “get in the door”. I also have become suspicious of that “certification” backlog at the State DOE–why certify more labor when you’ve already laid off so many? Should the state be allowed to restrict my opportunity to work in my chosen field by actively delaying my certification?
(I should note that I submitted all my other credentials to the state on May 2nd, the day their new software systems were installed, and have yet to hear from them regarding their assessment of said materials (that’s approximately 2.5 months). I have called and emailed multiple times. Initially the state office tasked with this was very helpful; now I no longer receive replies to emails. I suppose it’s likely they are trying to handle many disgruntled calls and emails at this point.)
This seems a new kind of SOP as second quarter earnings from major corporations are UP (again) as the gap widens between owners and workers. Unemployment is “stuck” at 9.2% (but most calculate “real unemployment” at double that figure) and going nowhere. The Indiana State Government (GOP style) has cut 300M from the education budget while holding 1.2B in surplus dollars. In other words, reduced our educational opportunities and destabilized those that actually do the work of educating, while holding funds in reserve. Oh, and all this while enacting a voucher law designed to funnel public dollars to private sector education primarily in the parochial markets. (My take on this: this market is unregulated and can be sold more products designed specifically to their brand of education and the church does a better job of indoctrinating herd-thinkers who will yearn for a better life to come rather than storm the Bastille to make it happen.)