I agree with him. It's better to have a teacher who hasn't passed their boards in a classroom then have no teacher at all. It isn't as if these people are taking jobs away from certified teachers. They are going into places that are underserved, and are working in areas that no one else wants to work. These programs should be applauded.
This cuts right to the heart of the problem: people have this misguided idea that ANYONE can stand in front of a classroom and teach kids. THAT IS A LIE. Not only can it have a negative effect on the classroom environment, but it can also have a deliterious effect on students' perception of education as a whole. Not to mention, it propogates this assumption that teaching is not a real profession.
Let me ask you this: is it okay to send an untrained surgeon into an operating room, just because you need somebody to take over? Are you fine with an ordinary guy off the street coming in to perform your root canal, because you need it done now? If I profess a desire to fly a commercial plane, are you willing to let me man the controls in the cockpit because you've got an airport full of potential passengers? Who do you want running the show when you're excavating the newest pyramid, the eager but untrained fourth grader, or the professor who's trained in collecting and analyzing those artifacts?
It's easy, isn't it? You want the one who knows what he's doing. WHY SHOULD TEACHING BE ANY DIFFERENT?
Hey, guess what: I have a degree in education. As a matter of fact, unlike most people who've graduated from a teacher prep course, my degree actually SAYS Bachelor of Science in Education. That's how much education training I got--I'm not a plain ol' B.S. grad; I have been adequately taught in the SCIENCE of EDUCATION. And guess what else: I'm not some business school dropout who suddenly decided, "If you can't, teach." No, I VOLUNTEERED to be an educator, and I continue to volunteer my services EVERY SINGLE DAY because Lord knows it's not something I would come back to if I weren't fully committed.
McCain's plan, articulated by his own education advisor in a debate that was--tragically--not broadcast on television (transcript here), is that we should offer incentives to the top 25% of graduates in EVERY area (notably, not those who graduate with education degrees) to go into the schools and, presumably, spread their excellence to impressionable students.
But the truth is, graduates in ALMOST EVERY OTHER FIELD can get entry level jobs in their FIRST CHOICE CAREERS and make twice as much as I do in my ninth year of teaching. So where do you think those kids go, to the mailroom at the company they really want to work at, or to a bureaucratic, over-govermentalized, stress-inducing, zero-status, aggregiously low-paying second- or third- or fifteenth-choice job? It doesn't take a math genius to figure out those percentages.
Plus, it completely discounts the fact that many, MANY highly motivated, high achieving graduates are actually ALREADY in the education program. Because I will tell you plainly, there are not a lot of people who make it all the way through the teacher prep programs if they don't really want to be there, and if you ever talk to a group of teachers, they will be happy to tell you all about their class standings, their ACT/SAT scores, their GPAs, and the amount of work they have done to maintain all of the above; I have seldom met a bigger group of nerds than teachers, and you can quote me on that.
What McCain does here is basically tell those people who have already chosen the teaching profession that THEY'RE NOT GOOD ENOUGH, and, in effect, that if they were smart, they wouldn't have gone to the college of education in the first place. Once again, it validates that old myth that teaching isn't a top-tier job, that it's a fallback for losers, and that the only people who chose teaching are those that failed in their first-choice professions.
My guess is that the majority of the non-teaching public thinks, "I went to school for X years; I could be a teacher." By that "logic," I could give haircuts at the local salon, because I've gotten my hair cut who-knows-how many times. I guess I could make some laws, because I've dimpled some chads in my time. I've been to a police station, so I think they should issue me a gun and let me arrest people. I've watched baseball on television, so put me in, coach! I've paid someone to alter clothes for me, so you should definitely let me make your wedding dress; I'll do a good job, I PROMISE. And, hey, I've owned stocks, so please let me take over your portfolio; I've heard some stuff about buying real estate lately.
WHAT KIND OF CRACKED UP THINKING IS THAT.
Sure, TfA and Troops to Teachers put a body in front of a class, but that's not what teaching is. It's not enough for me to stand over my students and keep them quiet and tell them to read from their textbooks; that doesn't teach them anything except that school is boring and horrible and teachers are lazy and mean. A teacher--a REAL teacher--does so much more than give lectures and worksheets and grades.