Monday Q&A: Retired Ceres educator helps state certify tomorrow’s teachers, administrators

naustin@modbee.comMarch 2, 2014 

NA Mary Jones 2

Mary Jones, retired Ceres Unified administrator, sits on the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. Taken in Denair, Calif., on Feb. 27, 2014.

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    Name: California Commission on Teacher Credentialing

    Members: Volunteer commissioners are appointed by the governor for a range of terms. There are four nonvoting members representing colleges and 15 regular members: six teacher representatives; an administrator; service credential holder (like a school counselor); school board member; professor of teacher education; four public representatives; and a superintendent of public instruction designate.

    Credentials and permits: In 2012-13, the commission processed 224,620 applications for teachers, administrators, preschool teachers, school nurses, special education teachers, substitute teachers and others. New applications accounted for 35 percent of those; the rest were renewals.

    Discipline cases: In January, there were 2,440 open cases before the commission, including 337 involving charges serious enough to warrant mandatory loss of credentials upon conviction. Those charges are: sex crimes against children (98), other crimes against children (45), sex crimes against adults (19), use of drugs (67), alcohol offenses (13) and other felonies (95). Credentials will automatically be revoked if a court finds the person insane. Short of revocation, offenders of lesser crimes can be publicly reproved or a credential suspended. All teachers and administrators must be fingerprinted and pass a background check.

    Fees charged: Initial or renewal credentials and permits $70; certificates, $35 to $45

    Source: California Commission on Teacher Credentialing

Mary Jones charted the way for student instruction in the Ceres Unified School District, helping lead the district to national attention for its high rates of Latino graduations before retiring as deputy superintendent last year.

Now, she is helping raise the bar for training school leaders as a member of the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. Gov. Jerry Brown appointed Jones in July to a two-year seat as the administrative services credential representative. Her volunteer duties include two days of meetings every other month and a whole lot of reading in between, Jones said.

The commission accredits credential preparation programs for teachers and administrators, issues credentials and permits to teach or lead in public schools, and pulls those credentials when necessary.

Jones started as an elementary school teacher and for the next 41 years taught in classrooms and special assignments for poor kids, gifted students and English learners before moving to school and district administrative posts. She holds a master’s degree in school administration from California State University, Stanislaus, and a doctorate in organization and leadership from the University of San Francisco.

With so much changing in what’s required of teachers in the classroom next year, The Modesto Bee checked in with Jones on what is required for teacher credentialing and what might be changing.

Q. What are the requirements to get a teacher’s credential?

Candidates must first earn a (bachelor’s degree) from an accredited college or university. They must then take an additional year, usually 30 units, of additional courses, which include student teaching. At the Feb. 13 CTC meeting, the commission voted to allow two years to complete this requirement. Candidates can either earn multiple-subject (elementary) or single-subject (for junior high and high school courses) credentials. There are also specialized credentials for areas such as special education, adult ed and career and technical ed. Credentials expire and require renewal each time. They are usually good for a period of five years.

Q. Are there moves afoot to change teacher credentialing requirements or create additional categories or specialties?

The new Common Core State Standards are compelling California’s teacher preparation programs to change. The commission addresses the CCSS competence through the various subject matter competencies teacher candidates are required to take.

Q. Your seat is focused on administrative credentials, the further training needed to advance to principal or district administrative jobs. What would you like to see change in that credential process?

The change I would like to see is that more performance-based assessments are applied within the administrative services credentialing programs as well as on the exam candidates are allowed to take instead of going through a program. Currently, that exam, the California Preliminary Administrative Credential exam, will sunset in June 2014. Another exam is on the horizon that will include performance-based assessments.

Q. What do you enjoy about being on the commission?

I enjoy the opportunity to work on credentialing programs and having input on the decisions and changes that will improve learning for all students.

Q. What would you like to accomplish on the commission?

I would like to help maintain as well as develop the best teacher and administrator programs in the country. My goal is to have a positive impact building the capacity of teachers, administrators, public schools and communities so that they are ready and able meet the educational needs of California’s diverse student body.

Bee education reporter Nan Austin can be reached at or (209) 578-2339. Follow her on Twitter @NanAustin.

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