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Congress: "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" About Highly Qualified Teachers*

image from www.getreligion.orgOne thing Congress didn't get done during its lame duck session was to end the long-running practice of not telling low-income parents that their children aren't getting highly qualified teachers -- this despite an October court decision denouncing the practice.  To be fair, Congress has been ducking this issue since 2004, ostensibly at the behest of TFA and other alt cert providers who don't want their members unfairly stigmatized by being, well, unqualified. Changing that practice now would  "cause major and unpredictable disruptions to schools across the country," according to a George Miller press release. Sound familiar? Maybe this is why they refer to TFAers as Corps Members.   (They're like the Marine Corps.)*

News  U.S. House of Representatives 


EDUCATION & LABOR COMMITTEE 

Congressman George Miller, Chairman


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Press Office, 202-226-0853

 

 

Chairman Miller Statement on Spending Measures in the CR

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S.  Rep. George Miller (D-CA), chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, released the following statement after the House passed the Continuing Resolution (C.R.) that would allow continued government operations through March 4, 2011. Among other spending provisions, the bill will fully fund the Pell Grant scholarship and also includes language that clarifies the definition of a “highly qualified teacher” (HQT).  

 

BACKGROUND ON HQT : Current law requires teachers to have a full state license as one part of achieving a “highly qualified teacher status.” In 2004, the Department of Education issued a regulation allowing teachers pursuing alternative certifications to remain in the classroom for up to three years until their certification is complete. In October, the 9th circuit court of appeals struck down that regulation. The language included in the CR will temporarily maintain current practice with regard to highly qualified teachers for the next two school years.

 

PELL GRANT: “For millions of students, the Pell Grant scholarship makes a college degree a reality. This investment keeps our promise to America’s students and families. It’s a critical investment in our students and the future of this country that this Democratic Congress has proudly supported time and time again.”

 

HQT: “Every child in this country, including students with disabilities and English Language Learners, not only needs, but deserves, access to an outstanding teacher. Without a great teacher, students often fall behind but in a great classroom. With a dynamic teacher, students are able to grow, thrive and succeed. Unfortunately, our current measures of teacher quality are inadequate and have not been proven to be as effective. looking very closely at this issue as we work in a bipartisan way to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. I applaud the brave parents who took action to bring this issue to level where it is today.  

 

“The 9th circuit decision could cause major and unpredictable disruptions to schools across the country if it was to be implemented before Congress can fully address issues of teacher preparedness, effectiveness and access in the reauthorization of the ESEA. The language included in the CR is only the beginning of the conversation about the shift we need to make in our schools in regards to teachers and the measures of teacher quality. I look forward to continuing our efforts to rewrite ESEA in the next Congress.”

 

For more information about the Pell Grant, click here.  

 

 

* [Reposted from last week since you weren't here then] 

 

 

 

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Wear Red for Public Ed

On Tuesday, January 4, people around the country will be wearing red to show their support for public education. This event is being sponsored by the SOS Million Teacher March and is supported by people in all 50 states.

According to the SOS Million Teacher website:
The public education system--and especially teachers--has been the recipient of harsh criticism lately, with most of it being unfair and some of it being untrue. However, most of those hurling the criticism at public education have never worked in the system and don't understand the real problems that public education faces such as a lack of fair funding, the inequity that exists between school districts, and an over-emphasis on standardized tests.
While wearing red on Tuesday won't solve any of the real problems facing public education, it will show that there are plenty of us out there who support public education, have an opinion about public education, and want our voices to be heard regarding public education. Hopefully this will be the first step in the long overdue process of letting those who are actually involved first-hand in America's public education system--teachers, parents, and students--have a say in what happens to it.
To help spread the word, people are being asked to change their Facebook profile picture to the image above and are being asked to Tweet about the event with the hashtag #WearRedForEd. Of course good old-fashioned word of mouth is always acceptable too!

It is our duty to ensure that all students have access to a quality public education, regardless of where they live. We can make this happen, but only if we insist that education is made our No. 1 priority, that community-wide supports are included, and that improvement and support is available to EACH school and student on an equal basis. True reform must, above all, enhance and not harm the viability of our public educational system.

The news will be full of interview clips offering change and hope. However, I refuse to accept sound-bite-solutions or Hollywood hype. I want real answers. I need answers that can and will be applied to Middletown America and answers that put the needs of students, parents and teachers above those of corporate America.

Because I do not have these answers — real answers offering real solutions — I will wear red this Tuesday. And I will continue wearing red every Tuesday until I get the answers that I need. Eventually, others will join in and create a giant red wave crossing America. We will be seen and we will be heard.

Until then, I will wear red every Tuesday. Will you join me?

Julie Thomas
Julie_Th0mas@yahoo.com

For more information about the "Wear Red For Public Ed" campaign and some of the other work the SOS Million Teacher March is doing in support of public education, please visit their website at www.sosmtm.com or contact Chris Janotta at sosmtm2010@gmail.com

Personally, I believe there should be a stricter way on identifying and considering teachers. However, criticisms should be left aside in order to be more objective and fair in determining their capabilities. http://www.customtermpaper.org

I also belief that there should be a strict way on identifying and considering teachers

I am a retired teacher (2006) from a Seattle inner city school. The "Dont'Ask, Don't Tell About Highly Qualified Teachers" post triggered a strong reaction in me. I know what it is like to teach in a low-income, low achieving school because I taught in one for eighteen years. I found that the vast majority of teachers there were well trained, intelligent, caring, creative and hardworking. I also know that many students were on the "free and reduced" lunch program, from single parent homes where stress and crisis were constant companions, and where children were leading challenging lives many of us cannot even imagine. Acting out in class and on the playground was common. Obviously, no matter how skilled the teacher, the learning environment was compromised. The PTA was nearly non-existent. Important school functions like Curriculum Night were poorly attended. The building leadership team struggled with shrinking budget dollars to provide services that wealthier schools could raise money for. This notion of "good teachers" vs "bad teachers" is a horrible way to describe educators. Yes, like anywhere, there are a few "bad apples" but they are few compared to the many wonderful people doing a good job under difficult circumstances. A colleague who taught for several years in one of these low performing schools had low scores. Now she is in a high performing schools with high test scores. Did she use to be a "bad teacher" because of the lower scores then? Is she now a "good teacher" because of her current high scores.

I wrote about some of her views, along with information from one of our country's leading education experts who has done studies and has information we should know about. I also gave some possible strategies to help with the problem. Teacher bashing is not one of them. Perhaps the general public should step back and take advice from Joe South's "Walk a Mile in My Shoes."
"Walk a mile in my shoes, just walk a mile in my shoes. Before you abuse criticize and accuse, then walk a mile in my shoes."
Please read my blog for more details. www.teacherslogon.blogspot.com.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in This Week In Education are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.