Do you have your CCCs? Are you working toward getting your CCCs? Do you have your C-SLP (if you are Canadian)? Can you believe that this post is actually not about your CCCs…but another type of certification entirely?
And one that really doesn’t have anything to do with our job but many SLPs are still required to obtain?
It’s amazing how the 140 character’s we’re allowed on twitter can lead to fascinating and heated conversations. One recent conversation sparked both yesterday’s and today’s post.
Yesterday I posted “What’s in a Name” and talked about why we should follow ASHA’s guidelines and call ourselves Speech-Language Pathologists and not “Speech teachers.” In that post, I mentioned that I believed using the term “speech teacher” leads to legislative difficulties and hoops that we as SLPs have to jump through. In some cases, it leads to an inability to be gainfully employed, and at the very least, it costs us, the SLPs, money. I want to explain that post now.
I was informed, during one of my final semesters of grad school, that most school district in North Dakota require SLPs to have a “restricted teaching certificate” in order to work in the schools. When I first heard about this “requirement” I was frustrated, but I wasn’t really concerned, until I started doing a bit more research. Then I started getting angry.
I called the department of education and was informed that yes, I would need a teacher’s certificate to work in the schools. When I asked what I needed to do to get the certificate, I was informed I needed to take the Praxis I or PPST…which is a test provided by the same people who give the GRE and Praxis II for SLP. However, the PPST is a test that incoming college sophomores take to get into teacher education. What? I confirmed with the person I was speaking with that in order to get this teaching certificate, I needed to take a test that undergraduate students PRIOR to getting into the school of education are required to take. I pointed out that I had already taken the GRE (which is significantly more involved) AND the Praxis which actually pertained to my field…was it really necessary? I couldn’t work in the schools without it? Really? I was informed that yes, I really did need to take it and they didn’t care that the tests I’d already taken were harder or more pertinent. At that point, I became a bit… angry..and politely (no, really, I was polite) hung up the phone.
After that conversation, I did a bit more research and spoke with the department of licensing. What I found was that there are three routes to take and I could have 1) a teaching certificate (restricted of course, because after all we are not teachers), 2) Licensure, or 3) both. Although many districts prefer, it was not state law that I had to have a teacher certificate to work in the school. I also found out that in order for me to take this (insulting) test, I needed to register, pay my $150, and then the magic fairies would sprinkle fairy dust and I could get my teaching certificate and work in a school. Needless to say I was a bit (okay make that a lot) bitter about this whole thing and I refused to take it until absolutely necessary.
When I accepted my first position in a school setting (working for a special education cooperative), I was informed they did not require a teaching certificate. In fact, since I didn’t have a teaching certificate I was not locked into the negotiated teaching contract and I could actually be given a higher wage.
Yes, you heard me right. By refusing to take the test and not getting my teaching certificate, my salary is higher (quite a bit higher) than it would have been if I had the certificate. The only other difference I know of is that I’m not allowed to pay into the teachers retirement fund so my retirement is through the “public employees” fund instead. Also my contract is negotiated each year by me and my employer rather than every two years through the collective bargaining unit. Other than that, I receive the same sick/personal days, insurance, etc. In fact, my contract says that my contract is the same as the negotiated master contract (except for salary).
Many of the SLPs on twitter have stated they are required to hold a teaching certificate to work in the schools. My question is why? Why are SLPs required to have teacher certification but Physical Therapists or Occupational Therapists (in most cases) working in the schools are not? Is it a hold over from when SLPs were not required to have a master’s degree? Is it from before ASHA CCCs? Or is it just because no one has said anything? No one has lobbied for fair practices? Since SLPs are NOT teachers they should NOT be required to hold a teaching certificate (however restricted).
I recently had a conversation with an SLP Coordinator for one of the larger cities in the state. She was actively recruiting SLPs to come work in their district and wanted me to let new graduates know they were hiring. Being a curious individual (and not because I wanted a new job), I asked about the teacher certificate requirements. She stated that yes, a certificate was required to be hired by the district. I pointed out that it was not state mandated and not even Dept. of Public Instruction mandated. However, she remained firm. I asked if PT and OT and School Psychologists were required to have their teaching certificates…they aren’t. I asked her if that were what her employers considered fair practices…Unfortunately she didn’t answer that question and we both walked away shaking our heads. Needless to say, I won’t be receiving a job offer from that district any time soon!
Bottom line…we have to do what we have to do. If the school district won’t hire you without a teaching certificate – then by all means get one. But ask around…see if it’s a district rule or a state rule. Is it law or is it assumed? I think in many areas, district policy assumes it’s state law. This may be in part, because school districts are undereducated and see SLPs as “teachers.”
I’d love to hear if your state or district requires teaching certificates for their school-based SLPs and what hoops you had to jump through to get it. Hopefully one day this unfair practice will be abolished and we will be recognized for the specialists we are, not just as glorified “speech teachers”.
Until then…Adventure on!