Saturday, May 5, 2007

The Quest to Stay Certified

Thinking about the hoops you have to jump through...I'm in graduate school - at least at the moment. When I first entered the public school classroom a couple of years ago as a teacher I already had a Masters Degree in Education - but it was in adult education and did not include any type of certification. The state of West Virginia certified me, provisionally, in special education. That Master’s Degree was actually my second graduate level degree.

Part of the reason I'm in school is that I change careers - twice now, actually. I went from working for a volunteer service organization overseas (a "missions agency" - 1983-1993) to working in higher education in a variety of semi-administrative student services roles (1997-2004) to teaching in the classroom. While I can understand some retraining being necessary, I had begun to suspect that the "high qualified" provisions of No Child Left Behind would keep me in college for the rest of my adult life.

Of course the colleges eat this up. My need to stay certified subsidizes their existence. I get credit for the classes I've taken (and paid for). No one much cares what I actually know or can do.

I make a joke out of the cost of going to college. If you look at my face you can see that my left nostril is somewhat bigger than the right. That’s because there’s a man at the Bursar’s Office at Marshall University who sticks his right forearm up my left nostril all the way to his elbow to retrieve tuition. Yes, I pay through the nose for going to Marshall…

Since I started teaching I've taken forty or so additional hours of graduate work, and because I live in Virginia and work in West Virginia, I've paid out-of-state tuition to take my classes. I have over 100 graduate hours altogether and while the coursework keeps me certified, it provides me not further pay advantage (I have a "Masters plus 45" now). I'm tired of it.

Georgia seems to have solved my problem for me. I've recently discovered that Georgia will certify me based on testing - without any additional college work. They'll do that provided I'm already a teacher someplace else (which I am). So after a review of my transcripts they've told me three tests I need to pass to be fully certified in special education (learning disabilities, emotional and behavior disturbances, autism, mentally impaired, etc.) And by the end of August I expect to have passed those tests, be certified, and be in the process of transferring that information back to West Virginia. Then I can take other tests and add additional certifications to my license - early childhood education, middle school social studies, high school English, whatever...

It saves me $4,000 in tuition this summer.

When NCLB is reauthorized next year, hopefully one of the things that will change is that the Federal government will mandate a "test out" option for many of the specialized certifications teachers need today. College was nice; but the best training I've gotten has consistently been professional development in-services and workshops provided by my school system.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Happy Birthday to Hannah

My daughter, HannahHappy birthday to Hannah. She's 22 today.

Hannah lives in the Asheville, NC area. I see her occasionally (not often enough) and talk to her on the phone every couple of weeks. I remember her fine, blond hair as a child (it's gotten slowly darker). She had a quiet disposition and developed a love for books at an early age.

Hannah was born in Saipan when I worked out there - a Pacific Islander with blond hair. She loved the ocean. I think she still does.

Under Stars, by HannahOne day I expect Hannah to be a successful art person - perhaps a painter, perhaps a photographer. She painted the mascot in the front stairway for War Elementary School' annex building. I worked at the school at the time. The life sized Indian chief will be abandoned I suppose next year when that school is closed...

A different kind of painting...Hannah also painted a rooster for her step-mother, Cheryl. Cheryl loves roosters. We have it hanging in our kitchen.

If you read this, Hannah, happy birthday.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

The GOP Debates

I'm a Democrat. I haven't always been. But 10 years or so ago I became active in local politics and joined the Democratic Party because I found it best fit my values and world view.

GregThe quote of the night probably came out of Giuliani's mouth a few minutes ago: "Neither party has a monopoly or either virtue or vice." Until recently that was an amazing revelation for many Republicans.

My least favorite GOP candidate? So far it's Jim Gilmore. He should be in jail for the way he raped local government in Virginia during his tenure as governor. His "No More Car Tax" campaign took pretty much every penny of tax savings out of local government coffers instead of state accounts. For Arlington and Alexandria, maybe they coped alright. But in rural Virginia Gilmore is occasionally burnt in effigy. And rightfully so...

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

An introduction

Greg CrueyIf you've found this at all, I'm surprised. It's not like there's any profound reason to be interested in me. But since you're here I'll give a brief introduction of myself...

I live in Central Appalachia, in coal country. My family is from here, but I was raised in the Army. I moved here for the first time in 1996 at the age of 36.

I've lived in Augusta, Georgia longer than any other single place. But in a year or two that will change if I stay here in Appalachia. I've also lived in

  • Stuttgart, Germany
  • Canbera, Australia
  • Singapore
  • Guam
  • Saipan, in the Northern Mariana Islands
  • Hawaii, on the Big Island
  • Penang, Malaysia
  • Bangkok, Thailand

Disappointed when the cup runs dry...In college I studied social science the first time - psychology, sociology, a little anthropology. The next time I studied linguistics and earned a graduate degree from the Australian National University. I have a Master's of Science from Marshall University in Education.

I write. I've been writing since, well, as long as I can remember. I became interested in journalism in high school, edited a high school paper, edited my college paper, wrote for a small weekly or two, and spent a couple of years as a beat reporter for a rural daily paper. About 10 years ago I stated writing for the Internet; I've done a couple of short stints at the Suite and spent eight years as part of About Dot Com's Travel Channel (a New York Times Company).