Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Department of Education, WTF?

Here I am, a critical-shortage area teacher. Not just any teacher, an experienced teacher with 5+ years of exemplary evaluations, countless volunteer/extracurricular hours, and undying love for children. Why then, NYS, do you make it so difficult for me to work for you? Here's my story.
I moved back from Georgia looking to teach science in New York. Most states have certificate reciprocity agreements- if you have a valid certificate in GA, you can somewhat seemlessly transfer to a valid, though temporary or provisional certificate in NYS. As soon as I moved back to NY, I initiated this procedure. I spent NINE MONTHS waiting to hear back from the state. I spent literally days upon days on the phone attempting to talk to a representative. I am not exaggerating when I say I called every day for months. I could never. ever. get to a person.
In fact, I waited so long for the transfer of my certificate that my then-current Georgia certificate expired.
In a fit of desperation, I started faxing the department, in a panic. It's hard enough to get the reciprocity, but with an expired license, I'd have to start from scratch in NYS. Yikes.
Eventually, they heard my cries and my NYS certificate was issued, and I successfully taught 7th grade science last year.
Now, I've just passed the final hurdle in extending my certificate for the next few years, however for some reason there's a glitch- something in the online system indicates that there is a problem I don't completely understand. So, with a heavy heart, I began calling the depart of ed again today.
The line is almost always busy. And if it isn't busy, I have to wait through 4 straight minutes of listening to the voice prompts spell out the 80+ long characters of each website you should go to instead of calling the number. I however, cannot go to a website because the website is the source of my confusion.
So, finally I can press the number 5 for a representative, which immediately puts me through to a message that there are, in fact, no representatives. It does not even give you the option to wait. Just pretty much a "go ef yourself".
As a teacher, I'm always engaged in the "what's-wrong-with-education" conversation. And though many things can be disagreed upon, this cannot. How do "we" sit and complain about the lack of highly qualified teachers and all the difficulties filling positions when so many of us sit outside the system waiting to get in. It's really really maddeningly ridiculous.
I have half a mind to post a youtube video about it. I could document my attempts every day- I just don't know if I have it in me. Maybe I'll just look for a different kind of job. That's too bad though. I'm a good teacher.


Cyrus said...

Sorry about your dilemma, Jenni. My parents are both educators, having each spent more than 30 years in secondary and elementary education.

Unfortunately, the bureaucracy of the system is just nuts, no matter where you are. This why I have to laugh every time a bureaucrat talks about reforming education, given that bureaucracies have never been known for accomplishing much.

Jenni said...

Yeah, it's hilarious. I can't even muster the energy to call back yet. It's one thing if it's just a really long wait time but eventually you'll talk to someone- then I'd just put the speakerphone on and do the house cleaning. But that there is isn't anyone to answer, that's just maddening.