In the Grand State of California...

The year was somewhere around 1988 (I'm bad with years), and the place was some small town in West Texas (I'm sometimes bad with places, too). I was in the car with my friend Amy. In was at the end of the summer. We were at the end of a three-day drive that started at her home in New Jersey, and was about to end in Abilene, Texas. We were in Amy's blue car, and our friend Sarah was following behind us in her red Honda after we picked her up at her hometown of Monroe, Louisiana. Amy was driving, and I was in the passenger seat when suddenly we became aware of lights flashing behind us. Lo and behold, it was a highway patrolman, and not only that, he wanted to talk to us. Amy obediently pulled over and we waited nervously while this Texas highway officer slowly swaggered up to our car. He leaned over, spit out a stream of tobacco and said in his best Texas twang, "I don't know how you do it in New Jersey, but in the grand state of Texas, we stop at stop signs." I kid you not (except about the tobacco part - I made that up).

I've never been one of those super-proud "everything's-bigger-in-Texas" Texans, but I had heard that such state pride existed there. However, this was the first time that someone had said something like this to me with such a twangy combination of pride and derision.

However, despite an unfortunate ticket for Amy (who had apparently just made a rolling stop a mile or so back), this incident largely has just given us something funny to quote all of the years we have known each other in the years since.

I think of this incident today because I am currently feeling a little persecuted by the State of California. Last week I motivated myself to figure out what I had to do to switch my teaching certifications to California. Yesterday I talked to a certification person and made an appointment to have my fingerprints scanned. Today I drove downtown, had the scan done, and then sat down with someone in the Fresno Board of Education to talk about my certification.

I had two mains concerns about the transfer. One was whether I needed to take the California Basic Skills Test (which costs $105). Fortunately, I have taken enough other basic skills tests that I do not have to take this one. The second concern was whether I could have all three of my certifications here in CA (early childhood, elementary ed, and special education). I was fairly confident about the Elementary and Special Ed, but since the Early Childhood was an add-on degree, I was afraid that they wouldn't give me this one.

Well, to make an already-long story short, I was told today that in the grand state of California I will not be allowed to teach Early Childhood/Pre-K or Special Education. Because of how they give certifications, I don't have the course hours for either of those areas. I would have to go back to school to teach either of them, and to get the Early Childhood I would also need some kind of student teaching experience. It doesn't matter that I have already taught these things, of course, or that two other states have certified me in those areas. It just matters that I didn't take the right courses way back many years ago in Abilene.

So, I've lost Special Ed - the easiest position to get in a job in this county, and lost Early Childhood - which is the thing I really want to teach. I'm left with Elementary Education - the hardest job to get in this county right now as teachers are getting pink slips left and right.

So I'm a little miffed with the State of California today. Or the grand state of California, as it were.

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