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Certification in Education

reviewed by William K. Selden - 1964

coverTitle: Certification in Education
Author(s): L. B. Kinney
Publisher: John Wiley, New York
ISBN: , Pages: , Year:
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"Certification in Education will be widely discussed; it is bound to shake the status quo. Perhaps out of that discussion will come higher horizons and standards for education in America." This was written by Alvin C. Eurich, Vice President of the Fund for Advancement of Education, in the foreword to the book written by Lucien B. Kinney, Professor of Education, Emeritus, at Stanford University on the subject of the certification of teachers. With the aid of a subvention from the Fund, Professor Kinney has provided a needed history of the development of certification of teachers as it has evolved in the United States.

Whether Certification in Education will be widely discussed is a question. It contains much historical information which both educators and the public need as a basis for intelligent discussion of the subject, but which has not been readily available. The book is not written in a style, however, to attract the public; and the author's conclusions are so positively in support of some of the most controversial recommendations of the NEA's New Horizons for the Teaching Profession that he will repel many of the liberal arts educators from even reading the volume, together with many others whom he would undoubtedly have wished to influence.

Kinney's thesis can be stated in this quotation: "Had the NEA and the state associations established professional standards for admission in terms of examinations, experience, or preparation, they would have been following the historical precedent of other professions that have succeeded in establishing and maintaining control of their membership and of professional standards." He is obviously striving to build a profession in the image of medicine, and to this reviewer, his commitment is so intense that he appears to overlook significant developments that may be affecting all professions.

These developments relate to the fact that the welfare of society is becoming so increasingly and directly dependent for its own well-being and protection upon the professions that society may no longer be able or willing to permit the professions to exercise as much freedom in deciding their own destinies as in the past. An example is that struggle over the question of adequate medical care for the aged and the infirm. Although the prescription of treatment for the individual patient is and will remain a professional responsibility, society is struggling to assume more collective responsibility for the manner in which and for the extent to which health care will be provided. In the light of these and other developments, it is inconsistent to expect a profession that is so intimately related to the public welfare, as is teaching in the elementary and secondary schools, to attain the independence which medicine and law have gained through their very different history, especially at a time when the decisions of the professional organizations are being subjected to greater questioning by society.

Professor Kinney would have the profession of teaching develop much more authority. "Once the profession has established a professional type of licensure, independent and prerequisite to certification, certification can revert to its proper role, and its functions can be more effectively served." He considers certification to be "a civil service process to regularize employment and remuneration from public school funds." Further, he states that "the sole function of licensure is to establish membership in the profession." These and many other statements in this book indicate the author's commitment to the building of a strong profession, but they also indicate a serious misunderstanding of the general use of some terms and of broad social developments.

Although licensure may be employed by a profession for the admission of individuals to it, it is commonly employed as a function of civil government to identify those individuals who are deemed by the state to be sufficiently competent to provide the appropriate services. In this generally accepted sense, licensure is a state function to protect the public from incompetence and malpractice. Following Professor Kinney's definition of licensure, one might ask if the graduate of a medical school who never takes the licensure board examinations and has no intention to practice medicine is thereby not a member of the profession? Or is the graduate architect who passes the state examinations and is permitted to practice not truly licensed because he does not qualify for membership in the American Institute of Architects, a national professional society that has requirements for membership differing from those for state licensure?

Despite Dr. Eurich's prediction, Certification in Education is not likely to shake the status quo. It has already been shaken. Were it otherwise, Professor Kinney's book might have exerted more influence to "rigidify" attitudes and positions than to clarify them. His historical treatment is a constructive contribution. His insistence that certification needs change and improvement is correct. His solutions are unrealistic and based on emulation of other professions without regard to the distinctive features of teaching and to the developing social forces which will in time affect all professions.

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 66 Number 2, 1964, p. 187-187
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 2552, Date Accessed: 1/25/2022 3:25:29 PM

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