Friday, July 3, 2009
This step belongs in the top five most annoying things one must do to get a teaching credential in California. But it must be done, there is no other way around it.
Fingerprinting can be done through multiple outlets, but I've found the cheapest and most reliable place is your country office of education. Be aware that not all COEs accept cash or personal checks to pay for these things. The total cost is about $55. Out of your own pocket usually, unless you are doing it through an employer. But even then, sometimes the employer will only reimburse a partial fee.
There are two parts to the fingerprinting process. First is what is called "LiveScan" which basically puts your fingerprints on record, plus a background check by both the Department of Justice and the FBI. Because nobody wants a convicted child molester or something working in schools. Well, maybe the child molester would want to, but that's a whole different story.
Another whole different story is the fact that people get cleared to work in schools and then later turn out to be child molesters. Mary Kay Letourneau anyone? There was a case in Lodi not too long ago of a teacher-student affair too. It's pretty scary stuff, although many other things are more likely to happen to a student at school than this. Just teach your kid what is appropriate teacher/student relationships and what is not, and they'll be fine.
The second part is called the "Certificate of Clearance" which is done through the almighty California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. To be honest, even though I've read all the fine print and explanations, I'm still not 100% certain what this second part is all about. My thoughts: it's a heads up to the CCTC on who is applying for a teacher credential (because, yes, you have to officially apply later near the end of the program), and giving them proof that you've been through the LiveScan process. There may be more to it than this, of course.
Or perhaps there is less and it's all just a conspiracy to make you pay more money to the Golden State. Whatevs.
Now I come to the annoying part. For every single separate contributing agency (i.e. teaching program school, elementary school you are looking to work for, after-school program job, any other job/volunteer work involving working with children in an official status) you must get fingerprinted again. For each agency. Each time. No joke.
I've been through LiveScan about half a dozen times, paying the fees each time of course. The Certificate of Clearance only needed to be done for CSUS, so there's that at least. But the COC expires, and I did a little timing misstep in deciding to go to China to teach English after I had applied and been accepted to a teacher preparation program. So I had to do it again when I came back from China. w00t.
The reason LiveScans are done so often is that the state doesn't share FBI or DOJ information to anyone else other than the contributing agency that is requesting this information. The lack of communication between everyone and everybody else gets on my nerves a little, but I must remind myself that it is set up this way to protect my privacy. I think.