Credentialed vs. 'qualified'

Htwe Htwe earned a math degree at Rangoon University. Now she works as a teacher’s aide at International Community School, a Georgia charter school that educates native-born and immigrant students. Many of the newcomers, like Htwe, are refugees.  With up to 40 languages spoken by its students, ICS employs staff from Burma, Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia, Bosnia, Cuba, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Iraq and France. All go through training to teach the demanding International Baccalaureate program. But are they “highly qualified” under No Child Left Behind?

By summer of 2009, DeKalb County will require that all ICS teachers be state certified and all aides “pass a rigorous exam or complete two years of college,” reports the Christian Science Monitor, which has been following the school and its students. (The excellent series, which includes a blog, focuses on a Congolese-American boy named Bill Clinton Hadam.) Only half of ICS teachers have met Georgia’s certification requirements; no assistants have state credentials.

International staff make ICS what it is, they insisted – but members need time to get credentialed. Some of their educational records are irretrievable from war-torn homelands. Others hold credentials that satisfied countries around the globe, but count for nothing in Georgia. Still others are working toward English fluency and preparing to take qualification exams.

Htwe, who’s helped a Burmese student become an academic success, hasn’t been able to get the local community college to accept her high school diploma, much less her college degree, and fears her English won’t be good enough to pass the exam.

Via Education Gadfly.

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Comments

  1. Margo/Mom says:

    I am not entirely certain what state requirements Georgia has put in place in order to comply with HQT. Certainly in the cases cited there should be extra attention–as there is in similar cases of medical personnel who come here from other countries.

    But the concern that I have is that frequently HQT has provided something of a back door to certification, or a lower level credential. Teachers who were not certified in a content area that they were teaching have often been given HQT status based on experience plus professional development. So–many teachers with Special Education certification have now become “highly qualified” to teach subjects like Algebra, Biology and Chemistry. I have experienced this–but I cannot say that I consider them to be minimally qualified in these subject areas–nor has their practice changed as a result of standards and their summer courses. They are still pushing the same worksheets that have only a dim connection to the content. Their kids aren’t passing the tests–but then, that’s because the are students with disabilities who can’t “get it.”

  2. Fifty years ago who would have thought that a school in the state of Georgia would have a student body that speaks up to forty different languages? America is no longer a country really. It’s a destination. Or perhaps an economic choice. If diversity is our strength, we must be getting stronger by the day. Nevertheless, I find myself remembering the loveliest things about my childhood: my community, my school, the holiday celebrations, the traditions, the things that make a culture. And as I remember them, I see that they are gone and that my children don’t have them. In the multicultural wonderland in which we live, sacrifices must be made.

  3. ICS "Grandma" says:

    One of the most beautiful traditions that my grandchild at ICS gets to experience with her community is United Nations Childrens Day, when everyone in the school comes together and they have a Parade of Nations (with the children all wearing costumes representing their heritage)…then they have a pot-luck lunch where they get to experience foods from each of these cultures. True, this is so different from what I experienced in my community as a child at my non-diverse school….but, oh, so much richer….hardly a sacrifice….

  4. You say “non-diverse school” like it was a dirty word, but to immigrants it’s not a dirty word. That’s why they establish ethnic enclaves and live among people just like themselves. It’s only a dirty word to enlightened white folks such as yourself.

    In your “non-diverse school” I suppose there was a common culture and concomitant sense of community, along with a feeling of oneness among the student body. What’s worse is that they probably celebrated distinctly American holidays and pledged allegiance to Old Glory. How sad.

    At ICS do they pledge allegiance to the UN flag? It would be “oh, so much richer” if they did.

  5. Margo/Mom says:

    At my daughter’s school they pledged allegiance to the US flag. In Spanish.

  6. If memory serves, the U.S. is the only industrialized nation that doesn’t have an official language – at the federal level. But most of the 50 States (and D.C. and the 5 territories) have their own official language(s).

    I’m all for a United Nations day and a Parade of Nations at K-12 schools; they help teach World History and World Geography, where the U.S. fits into the big picture, and even gives the school an excuse to have a party for a day.

    I just don’t like it when learning about the rest of the world comes at the *cost* of learning about the U.S., or your home State/Territory. What’s the point of knowing about the world around you if you’re ignorant – or even hostile – towards your own country?

  7. Margo/Mom says:

    Cap:

    A number of industrialized nations have more than one official language. In Singapore the official language is Malay. The primary language of instruction in schools is English and students are expected to be bilingual–generally English and Mandarin.

    In Finland the two official languages are Finnish and Swedish. To the greateste extent possible, students are instructed in their “mother tongue” (which might include Finnish, Swedish, Romany, Sami, Russian or Somali) with the very early addition of a second “national” (Finnish or Swedish) language in elementary and a language at the secondary level.

    Hong Kong has an official language–Mandarin. Historically education was in English, however they have shifted to a “mother tongue” orientation and provide initial instruction in Mandarin, with English as a Second Language (sometimes used as the language of instruction, especially in the upper grades).

    Canada has two languages–English and French. New Zealand provides instruction in multiple languages, as does Australia.

    The US is actually way behind many industrialized nations with regard to the study of languages. Many expect bilingualism as a goal of public education–frequently with the expectation of exposure to a third. We limit our expectation to some students “taking” a language in high school.

  8. I happened to visit Hong Kong with an education group just as schools were making the transition from teaching in Cantonese, the home language of most residents, to Mandarin, the official language of China.

    Swedish-speaking Finns have the right to be taught in Swedish, which is one of the two official languages of the country. Swedish speakers make up only about 5 percent of the population but tend to be concentrated in a few areas.

    You can see a “language of instruction round-up here.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Credentialed vs. ‘qualified’With up to 40 languages spoken by its students, ICS employs staff from Burma, Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia, Bosnia, Cuba, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Iraq and France. All go through training to teach the demanding International Baccalaureate … […]

  2. […] Credentialed vs. ‘qualified’With up to 40 languages spoken by its students, ICS employs staff from Burma, Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia, Bosnia, Cuba, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Iraq and France. All go through training to teach the demanding International Baccalaureate … […]

  3. […] Credentialed vs. ‘qualified’ Htwe, who’s helped a Burmese student become an academic success, hasn’t been able to get the local community college to accept her high school diploma, much less her college degree, and fears her English won’t be good enough to pass the … […]