Eminence as a path to credential set for review
(Calif.) A rarely-used state authority to award a teaching credential to an individual based only on the achievement or special expertise in a particular field of study in the public schools is set for revisions by the Teacher Credentialing Commission.
The Eminence Credential, created in 1976, allows the commission to issue a teaching credential to any person “who has achieved eminence in a field of endeavor commonly taught, or in a service practiced in the public schools of California,” according to a staff report to the board.
Applications for an Eminence Credential are frequently made to the CTC but few are approved. In the 40 years since the credential has been available, the CTC has granted just 30 of them, and there are only 11 individuals currently utilizing the Eminence Credential in a public school.
The last time that commission took a look at the credential and the requirements needed to qualify was in 2003.
At the CTC’s regular June meeting last week, commissioners agreed that the credential standards are in need of updating.
The question came forward now as a result of an application from a Los Angeles County charter school that wanted the special credential for one of their teachers who has won wide acclaim for his abilities in the arena of speech and debate. Although the applicant has advanced degrees in education, he does not have a teaching credential.
At a hearing in April before the commission, the applicant’s qualifications were reviewed and after a lengthy hearing, the board approved the award of the Eminence Credential.
There were, however, some who did not support the majority. Some commissioners questioned the fundamental need for the special pathway, saying it undermined the teaching profession as a whole.
Yet, as spelled out in the Education Code, the commissioners were required to make a finding for qualification using three criteria:
- The individual is recognized as eminent beyond the boundaries of his or her community—which must be beyond local geographic community.
- The individual can demonstrably show an advancement in his or her field—which must be documented by advanced degrees or distinguished employment with in the field of specialty.
- And the individual must be acknowledged by his or her peers as “beyond the norm” in the specific endeavor.