Embarrassment of Riches
Surprise, surprise: Preliminary data from the U.S. Department of Education reveals that wealthier areas tend to have an easier time attracting qualified teachers. For the 2004-05 school year, 93 percent of core-subject classes in affluent schools were headed by a teacher who met the definition of “highly qualified” under the No Child Left Behind Act, compared to 87 percent of classes in low-income schools. On the other hand, the numbers have improved at a slightly quicker pace for low-income schools than for schools as a whole. Under NCLB, all teachers in core subjects are supposed to be “highly qualified”—generally meaning they have state certification and have demonstrated subject-area mastery—by the end of this school year. However, the education department says it will grant extensions to states that have made a “good faith effort.” Some see the 100 percent goal as pie in the sky. “We’ll never catch up,” lamented Nevada Schools Superintendent Keith Rheault. “When you hire 3,000 new teachers a year, you can’t get them all highly qualified.’’ Sixty-eight percent of teachers in Nevada met the requirements last year.