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I recently wrote a story for voiceofsandiego.org, to be posted in the near future, about teacher staffing issues in San Diego County and the state. Remember when “teacher shortage” was a popular term used in the media? Now, it seems, there are more teachers to go around, but that some are working under less-than-complete credentials.

Something I stumbled upon while researching the story was a public database maintained by California Commission on Teacher Credentialing that allows users to search for specific teachers by first and last name. All their credential information is there for the perusing. For instance, you can type in “Robert Smith” (there are 66 of them teaching in California according to the database), and find that Mr. Smith (in this example, whose middle name is Alexander) has a single-subject credential to teach English, and has been certified as competently bilingual in Spanish.

It got me thinking about all the other professions where background information such as credentials, certifications, licenses, authorizations, and memberships are publicly available on the web.

Doctors‘ and contractors‘ licensing info is online, and you can even check a local company’s standing with the San Diego Better Business Bureau on the web.

Are there other professions that could stand to be more transparent? Would you choose which professionals you do business with differently if you could know who went to San Diego State and who went to Yale? How would you feel if your professional background were maintained in a publicly accessible Internet database?

JENNIFER McENTEE

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