“No Child Left Behind’s highly qualified teachers provision deserves to die,” writes Mike Petrilli on Education Gadfly.
In a ruling last week, the Ninth Circuit said Teach For America teachers and others with alternative certification should not be considered “highly qualified” while they work toward state certification. A public-interest law firm had challenged the practice, complaining that low-income, minority students are more likely to be taught by uncertified “interns.”
The law’s wording is ambiguous, Petrilli writes, though Congress signaled its intent by supporting alternative certification in the same bill. Instead of appealing to the Supreme Court or waiting for NCLB to be reauthorized, Congress should kill the “highly qualified teachers” provision, Petrilli argues.
Everyone knows it’s a meaningless designation. Nobody will defend its focus on paper credentials. The conversation has moved on to teacher “effectiveness” as measured by student learning and other meaningful indicators. Yet in the real world of real schools, HQT is still the law of the land, wreaking havoc every day. It continues to make teachers jump through unnecessary hoops. It continues to tie the hands of charter schools that have to demonstrate that their teachers have requisite “subject matter knowledge”—never mind the autonomy charters are supposed to receive. And now it’s causing material harm to Teach For America, one of the best things our education system has going.
Don’t count alternative certification out just yet, writes Teacher Beat.