Sunday, January 2, 2011

Interns Are Highly Qualified?

Get out your dictionaries. Here is the first new word for 2011: Highly Qualified
--a person who is breathing and also willing to work for very low wages in the poorest and lowest performing schools, without any training or support, and without any job protections.

Thousands of intern teachers in California will now be considered “Highly Qualified” under NCLB, despite their lack of experience and minimal training, thanks to a bill passed in the waning minutes of the lame duck Congress. The legislation was buried in an unrelated spending bill and was passed with little public awareness and no hearings. Curiously, special education teachers, who must undergo even more training than regular education instructors, will be considered “Not Highly Qualified” if they are teaching math or science without a special math or science credential, as many do in self-contained resource classes.

The bill was supported by Bay Area Representative George Miller (who has also supported NLCB). He said that current measures of teacher quality are inadequate and should be assessed by Congress, and not the courts. Which begs the question, “What the hell do Congress or the courts know about teacher quality?”

California currently has between 5000 and 8000 intern teachers teaching in its public schools. 62% of these are working in the poorest schools and 25% of them are in schools that are over 98% minority students.

In another related bit of newspeak, Teach For America (TFA) has claimed that refusing to call their teachers “Highly Qualified” denies schools the opportunity to implement reform measures. What they mean is that schools trying to implement idiotic “reform” measures that are untested or unlikely to work, and that force teachers to work harder and longer without compensation, are much more likely to be adopted by young, energetic and inexperienced teachers who are eager to please their bosses. Ironically (and not surprisingly), TFA teachers have a horrible track record. 69% quit after their second year and 88% quit by the end of their 3rd year, perhaps due to the stress of all that extra work they heap upon themselves.

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