The US Department of Education is being sued for violating provisions of its own centerpiece law, No Child Left Behind.
Specifically a coalition of “schools advocates and parents” say that the feds are allowing districts in California to count teachers who are not “highly qualified” in their statistical reporting.
According to NCLB, beginning this school year, all students must be taught by a “highly qualified” teacher. Of course, this revolves around how you would define that phrase.
Basically the law allows education agencies in each state decide the qualifications a person much have to fit in that category, subject to the blessings of Spellings and company.
In most states, anyone is eligible if they have a degree in the subject area they are teaching and hold a state-issued license. In some places, that piece of paper can be obtained by taking a multiple choice test, the “alternative option” at the center of this lawsuit.
However, there’s something missing from these very broad qualifications. The ability to actually teach.
Declaring someone to be “highly qualified” in a profession when they’ve never actually demonstrated their ability to do the job makes no sense. Equally bad is excluding people who have proven their teaching skills but lack some piece of the bureaucratic puzzle.
I wish these people a lot of luck with their legal actions but I doubt it will make much difference.
There is a general attitude in America that being a teacher is easy, something anyone can do as long as they have the right paperwork saying they are a subject area expert.
NCLB only compounds the problem by treating all teachers, students, classrooms, schools and neighborhoods as exactly the same, requiring exactly the same simplistic solutions.