Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Earning credentials pretty much sucks

I have one. It lets me teach most anything so long as I teach it to the same kids in concurrent sections of the day and don't teach too much of one thing to too many students. It's good for four more years, I think, even though the school district I teach in did not begin to recognize it until pretty much a month ago. I have two Modest Goals (MGs) for the near future:

1) Earn the professional "clear" that kills this particular monkey busy making a home on my back.
2) Add to it a single-subject addendum that proactively eliminates future monkeys (more on this later)

One way people in this state fulfill Modest Goal #1 (outlined above) is through a crap program called "BTSA" which stands for Boring Tedious Stupid Accredidation, I think. Through BTSA, old women who don't want to teach but don't want to retire come into your classroom, make unhelpful exclammatory remarks about what a good job you're doing and then explain they're here to support you by volunteering to model lessons in front of your class that has already begun to eye the respective old woman the way young hyenas eye a recently abandoned gazelle corpse. When you politely refuse the offer of support, they also explain that BTSA can help you fulfill Modest Goal #1, although they don't call it Modest Goal #1. When you ask how, they say they don't know, but come to meeting on a day you need to coach basketball and if you can't come to that meeting don't worry even though you have to go. Later, they send you notices asking you to come to pointless "Professional Development" sessions where these same old women "model best practices" by ringing bells and using the "quiet coyote" to get your attention. Much later, you get pulled out of one such session by a withered hag whose name reminds you of Three's Company and whose face looks like a cracked handbag that has been sandblasted with make-up, told you are not in BTSA because you didn't go to the meeting back in September, you will not receive credit for the professional development you've already attended but as a consolation, at least you benefitted professionally, right? When you scoff and look away you will be accused of having a "middle school attitude," and the blacklisting will begin.

Now it's summer, and I am enrolled in an independent study course through a university I never applied for, located roughly 8 hours driving to the South, entitled "Computers for the Educator." I am required to complete a variety of discrete tasks, such as "Make a spreadsheet," and "Make a multimedia presentation." The making is okay, the post-production "reflective statements" are soul-sucking. The only way I can justify using my remaining summer in this fashion is to remind myself that 1) this helps me in reaching MG #1, 2) I'm outflanking those BTSA hags, 3) I'm using Teach For America stipend money, and not real money, to pay for this furtherance of my education.

I think it goes without saying that credentialing education, never on tremendously solid footing, has taken a decided turn for the worst since the edicts of NCLB (pronounced "nickel-B" if you're cool) have swept the land. Because of the oppressice timeframes to get everyone credentialed both the standards of instruction and the extent of content have fallen faster than -- I was going to make reference to a dotcom stock, but that seemed cheesy, so they've just fallen fast. Most of these programs seem to have been thrown together with all the forthought and attention to detail your average soriety girl puts into her "Principles of Western Thought" midterm. Material is watered-down, irrelevant, insipid, vague, and worse, poorly presented. Without question, the bottom rung of academia is the teacher credentialing instructor, a position less desirable that the Defense Agains the Dark Arts position at Hogwarts (what a dork). A thousand monkeys typing at a thousand computer for a thousand years may never produce Hamlet, but from what I've seen they are each qualified to teach in a credentialing program. I have had ed psych instructors unable to explain the different prespectives, the difference between valid and reliable, nor pronounce Piaget's name. I have had a literacy intstructors who felt their job was complete if we could demonstrate a read aloud and turn in a list of quality children's literature I downloaded from the Internet. I have had multicultural education instructors who knew every big name in their field, but so grossly misrepresented what those big brains wrote and thought it literally hurt to listen.

So it's a hoop. Jump through it and shut-up. Really, shut-up (as my principal says with a smirk, "Nobody cares what you think. Stop talking and we can all go home.") But still it's troubling and a little sad that some will view that hoop-jumping as meaning anthing more than your willingness to traverse the banal and mundane, and a possession of baseline intellectual dexterity.


Blogger LingLing Zilla said...

Totally hated BTSA too. Completely agreed with the part about old hags who don't want to teach but don't want to retire. I suffered too. At least, you are a Ryanite which lets you complete the requirement from a college.

10:45 PM  
Blogger Angel said...

BTSA was such a freakin' waste of time at a point in my life when I *really* did not need another freakin' waste of time! You described it perfectly, BTW.

2:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Try BTSA under the SB2042 Credential...I sat through 2 years of Bull Sh-- classes to site through the same crap for two more years...As I'm in my second year teaching I have realized this simple truth...those that can't do teach, and those that can't teach run the BTSA programs!

8:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my god, I cringe every time I see my "support provider." I refer to the program as "Bits A Sh--" because of the useless nature of EVERY MOMENT SPENT WORKING ON IT.

4:53 AM  
Blogger AttuneBTSA said...

I tell my students that they can make a difference! (They can!)

Can we?

7:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

BTSA is a total waste of time and money...the BTSA people state that their program retains 80% of the teachers...well, actually it scared away 20% and the other 80% percent have invested too much time, energy, and money in "making a difference" to quit. Besides what else can you do in the real world with a history degree?

4:18 PM  
Blogger BTSA_SUCKS said...

Call Kerry Mazzoni and let her know how you feel about btsa. She wrote the law SB2042 which is stamped on your credential making you go through this shit. I challenged her to do something about the mess she has made while a State Assembly Member and she replied with a nasty email saying I am not cut out for the profession. Well, I earned a credential and cleared it through the painful, worth less btsa program. She has done neither. Here is her email and number, LET HER KNOW HOW YOU FEEL! (916) 552-2629

9:39 PM  
Blogger John said...

BTSA does exactly the opposite of what it is intended to do. As a new teacher who has taught for the last two years, I have seen the frustration among fellow teachers who are very upset and frustrated with the endless amounts of paperwork that is supposed to "support" us as educators. I taught science in an inner city school, where the turnover rate for teachers is high. The consensus among educators where I worked who were involved with the BTSA program expressed an overwhelming amount of dissatisfaction and frustration with the program.
As a BTSA participant, I have remained loyal to my students, working extremely hard to ensure they receive an exceptional curriculum. I have also received commendable evaluations from my administration, but yet, because I forgot one piece of student work to attach as evidence, I cannot clear my credential? Now, I have to repeat another year of the BTSA program at my own cost because I forgot some small piece of evidence which has hindered me from completing the BTSA program. I am now so frustrated and so upset, that I have decided to leave public education, in order to teach in a correctional facility; where, apparently crime does pay. Here, I will have more personal autonomy and less bureaucracy to deal with. It is no wonder why we have a huge teacher shortage in California. For one thing I would like to study for the CSET so I can teach chemistry as well. Unfortunately, I just don’t have much time thanks to the BTSA program. Not only do we have one of the most, if not the most, stringent Credential Program in America, but, we now have a tedious, confusing two year program to pass. I agree that beginning teachers need support, but, BTSA is not the answer. Not only is it a huge waste of tax dollars, but, a burden on our educational system. It has driven me and other teaching professionals alike out of the school system. The ironic thing is, we actually lose teachers who go to work for the BTSA program!
Sadly, another long term sub will gladly take my position, who, most likely does not hold a science degree and will administer endless amounts of mundane paperwork to the students who will no doubt copy them from each other. All of this while the long term sub sits at his desk and surfs the net and the kids learn nothing. Given the endless amounts of hoops I have had to jump through; I am officially burnt out. Why pile on more work to an already exhausted overworked teacher? BTSA has succeeded in taking time away from my students, while investing it into some ineffective program that is no doubt, hurting the profession rather helping it. Remember, the teacher shortage is not because of pay, or lack of support, but because of endless, laborious tasks that have if anything helped sustain the demand for qualified teachers.

10:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm in the second year of "bitcha" hell, and I think I was asked to leave the program after my "middle school attitude" and proud of it! And they're stuck with me- until my school sets up their own program. My principal is just as frustrated as me, the BTSA time waste always conflicts with our much more relevant school development.

8:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

John - to everything you said I say AMEN!!!

9:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

despite bits of insight like this:

"...Without question, the bottom rung of academia is the teacher credentialing instructor.."

you still support collective bargaining.

Union apologists. Every last one of you.

9:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My assigned BTSA "support" provider critiques my English lesson with her comments in barely intelligible, heavily accented and grammatically incorrect English.

Such a waste of time! A complete repeat of many activities from the credentialing program. Thank God I saved my work.

12:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kerry Mazzoni, the co-author of SB2042, which spawned BTSA just got her ass kicked in a local election. I made sure her opponents had copies of the ridiculous and condescending replies to teachers disgusted with BTSA. Keep letting her know what she's done. I can tell you that her job in politics is done-just as done as the teachers BTSA has run off. Here's a way to get in touch with her.

1:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kerry Mazzoni is now an advisor for a company called Accelify. Accelify is a Medicaid/Medi-Cal billing agent that also seeks to influence educational policy for special education students. Ever go through BTSA? You can thank Kerry Mazzoni for that mess. Now she has her nose in special education policy. Judging by her track record of lobbying for expensive failed programs and her arrogant and condescending attitude, she has no business making anymore educational policy for students, teachers, parents, and tax payers. Here is the contact information for Accelify:

Email Email:

She's run excellent teachers from the profession already with her failed BTSA program, don't let her continue to push disastrous policies on the education system anymore.

9:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I first started teaching 4 years ago, I was kicked out of the BTSA program due to my credential (Ed. specialist mod/sev). Now I find that I have been kicked back in to clear my credential, as the colleges and universities are no longer supporting the Level II coursework. I too feel overwhelmed and stressed out by all the extra useless paperwork and "professional development" I'm required to do. I cannot imagine what this must be like for a brand new teacher! I completely agree with what everyone has said - but how can we change this useless and completely UNsupportive program? I feel as though I am on the same path as John - I'm very good at what I do, based on my my evaluations, and input from my peers and parents - but I am truly ready to throw up my hands and walk away. With all the paperwork I already am required to do as a special educator - BTSA is the straw that broke it for me. And it breaks my heart... I know, I know - suck it up and SHUT UP ;>

10:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have just completed my 1st year of BTSA. I CANNOT believe it is allowed to overwork an already underpaid teacher in their 1st years which are already overwhelming enough. The exorbitant amount of paperwork built on minutia does not support beginning teachers, it overworks, stresses, and overwhelms teachers. Where is the support????? Oh, maybe this is an example of my support: My provider had me meet her at a winery to go over my work even though we lived within 5 miles of each other. The winery was 35 minutes away. It gets better guys. This meeting was 5 hours long. The meeting included my provider drinking wine and ordering lunch. This was on a Saturday, nice weekend for a beginning teacher. My lunch cost me $25.00. The amount of hours I put into this program was ridiculous. I often wondered what I could have been doing for my class and my students if I was not overwhelmed by this worthless program. I did not get support. I got more work to do. I got more hours to work. I worked endless weekends to keep up. This program needs to stop. We need to strike guys. The only supporters of BTSA are the ones getting paid for pretending they are supporting us. I think the public needs to know what we are going through and how this program actually takes valuable time away from students.

3:12 PM  

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