If you grew up in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, you might be familiar with a landmark television show called Northern Exposure which aired on CBS on Mondays during the 10 PM time slot.
It was about a quirky, eccentric small Alaskan town called Cicely who had literally secured the services of an Ivy-League trained physician from New York named Joel by funding his medical school costs.
The culture shock experienced by this Jewish guy from the East coast among his new peers fueled enough plot lines to make this show one of the best-written of the day.
One of the characters was Chris Stevens, who lived in a trailer by a lake, read literature, thought transcendentally, and hosted the local morning radio show spouting philosophical musings to a sparse, but loyal following.
He also was the only “ordained” minister in the town. Only he could perform certain ceremonies. He had answered an advertisement for the “Worldwide Church of Truth and Beauty” in the back of a Rolling Stone magazine.
Boom! He’s a holy man.
Now jump ahead a few decades and there appears this bill by another “ordained” man in the North Carolina General Assembly that would fast track teachers into the public school system here in the Old North State.
Sen. Chad Barefoot is the sole sponsor of Senate Bill 599. Alex Granados of EdNC.org talks about it in “Senate passes bill expanding teacher preparation options” (https://www.ednc.org/2017/06/13/senate-passes-bill-expanding-teacher-preparation-options/). Granados states,
SB 599,”Excellent Educators for Every Classroom,” would let organizations outside of colleges or universities offer educator preparation programs…
The bill’s primary sponsor, Sen. Chad Barefoot, R-Wake, said in an e-mail that the bill was far more stringent than Robinson said and “clearly lays out” the “paths” necessary to offer a teacher preparation program.
The bill creates the Professional Educator Preparation and Standards Commission, a body comprised of teachers and administrators. They would make recommendations on educator preparations programs to the State Board of Education, which would have the final say on the standards for programs and if programs meet them.
“What this bill does is, rather than say that the traditional educator preparation programs in North Carolina…are the only way you can be prepared to be a teacher, it says ‘no’ to that,” Barefoot said on the Senate floor. “You can come up with any way that you can dream of, but we are going to hold you accountable to a set of standards that are rigorous.”
Forget that we already have lateral entry. Forget that even today there is another report by Granados that might connect Barefoot with a financial incentive for introducing the bill. In “Campaign contribution by teacher preparation organization complicates expansion bill,” Granados reports,
In the fourth quarter of 2016, the Committee to Elect Chad Barefoot received $5,000 from Texas Teachers of Tomorrow, an organization that could stand to benefit from the bill (https://www.ednc.org/2017/06/21/campaign-funds-complicate-teacher-prep-expansion-bill/).
Ethics aside, Barefoot should have gone further and taken a lesson from Rolling Stone and combined it with the power of the internet.
Maybe he would be open to an amendment although open-mindedness is something that many in the NCGA lack: becoming an Ordained Teacher online.
It’s not traditional and it sure as hell says “NO!” to the established educator preparation programs that Barefoot and his cronies are already trying to weaken.
And by saying it’s “ordained” gives it that “holier-than-thou” feeling.
Just take a look at this website for the Universal Life Church at https://www.themonastery.org/landing/get-ordained?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIsM2Yv4bP1AIVgTaBCh0wiwv2EAAYAiAAEgL9OPD_BwE.
In fact, this is a perfect template!
Think about it.
And the state could reap the benefits. We get more teachers. We make a profit from the certification process.
You don’t even have to subscribe to Rolling Stone.
Sen. Barefoot, what do you think?