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Embarrassment of Riches

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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.

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There is no chance for any school district to ever have all of their teachers highly qualified. Especially not with the hoops that teachers of special education students must jump through in order to obtain those 3 oh-so-desirable initials: HQT. As a teacher of students with mental retardation, I not only have to be fully certified in special education in my state (and that now requires a master's degree!), I must also be highly qualified in all core subjects at the elementary school level for students working on alternative curriculum, and at the high school level for students who are able to earn credits. Remember, mental retardation does not exclude a student from the ability to LEARN material!
If I'm not HQT in a core area, my students must go to a REGULAR EDUCATION TEACHER who is HQT in that core subject to take the class. But those regular ed teachers aren't required to have any knowledge or background in special education!
And the credits that the states will or won't take for HQT is silly also. No methods classes, and most other liberal arts classes aren't permitted. None of my social science classes were accepted for the social studies areas, and most of my journalism & writing classes were disallowed as well.
It looks like, in order to teach my students, the federal government wants to require me to have TWO bachelor's degrees (since I need to be HQT in all 4 core subjects, at the 24-credit hours per core subject, that is over the number required for a bachelor's degree!), plus a master's degree in special education...
What a joke! I have as much education as a lawyer or doctor (I have 15 credits toward a post-master's degree!), and get paid far less than those professions. I work more than 8 hours a day, and also work over the summer.
I have less time off than the President that passed this bill! And more education than him!

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