We’ve heard about teachers who go out of pocket for classroom supplies, supplemental books and things like tissues for kids who forget them.
But hundreds of dollars’ worth of exams and license fees? No one ever talks about that. When I began planning to become a teacher, I did not consider how big of a dent fees for credentials would make on my credit card bill.
I know many professionals are used to paying fees in order to work. Nurses, for instance, pay around $300 in Arizona for exams and licenses. But journalists have no such requirements. So I was surprised when required fees started adding up before I even enrolled in my teacher education program.
‘It is expensive’
Tammie Pursley, president of the Mesa Education Association and an AVID teacher at Poston Junior High in Mesa, said the fees come up a lot when teachers talk about their expenses.
“It is expensive,” told me. She said she advises new teachers to budget for the costs and not run down to the Arizona Department of Education every single time they have something new to add to their certificates.
I asked ADE spokesman Charles Tack how the fees are the calculated and where the all the money goes.
“The fees are based on the average amount of time it takes for each service as well as other administrative costs – paper, computers, copiers, office supplies,” he said.
Revenues pay staff salaries and the administrative costs, he said.
Tack also said the fees have not increased in more than a decade.
Almost $400 in testing and license fees
Here are my costs so far:
- $67.00 for an Arizona Department of Public Safety fingerprint clearance card, required by ADE and Rio Salado College.
- $95.00 for a National Evaluation Series Spanish language exam, also required by ADE and Rio.
- $52.45 for a study guide and practice test for the Spanish exam. My goal was to pass the first time I took it.
- $60.00 for a substitute teaching license. Not required but useful.
- $60.00 for a provisional career and technical teaching license. Also not required but useful in case I decide to teach journalism in addition to Spanish.
- $60.00 to show I passed a Structured Language Immersion course. This is an Arizona requirement.
Should I have bought pizza instead?
Believe it or not, there is a thing called the National Pizza Index that helped me figure out what else I could have done with the money spent on teaching credentials. It shows the average cost of a pizza in various locations across America. Arizona’s average pizza costs $12.61 – a little less than the national average of $13.21.
If my calculations are correct – and I did pass algebra and arithmetic exams before being admitted to Rio – I could have bought about 31 and 1/4ths pizzas for the amount I am spending on credentials.
So did I make the right choice? So far I am saying yes.
I will revisit this issue later on, when I blog about a first-year teacher’s salary.
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