To the Editor:
Regarding the On Special Education blog post “House Extends Labeling of Trainee Teachers as ‘Highly Qualified’” (July 19, 2012): The disability advocacy community has had good reason to be worried that a provision in federal law about who is considered a highly qualified teacher could be extended into perpetuity as misguided and union-squeamish lawmakers take up new spending bills.
Just weeks earlier, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee did not take up the “highly qualified” provision in its markup of the spending bills.
What? Have an uncomfortably necessary dialogue on how to overhaul decades-old teacher-preparation standards?
That would require stalwart resolve and an unapologetic belief that every child in America has a civil right to a quality education. Nope, we’ll punt that football to the next Congress.
The House Appropriations Committee decided this was a priority, albeit a misguided one. It extended the highly-qualified provision for teacher interns and teachers who have taken shortcut alternative routes through state-driven, disingenuous highly-qualified standards.
The Coalition on Teacher Quality and parents across the United States have been tirelessly advocating against this provision. Our righteous indignation and cry? Repeal or, at a minimum, allow this provision to expire in 2013.
Lawmakers don’t have the bipartisan backbone to tackle teacher-preparation standards. They chronically forget that America’s children are not the property of their local school districts and states, and must be equally prepared for postsecondary education and a global marketplace.
For the 2012-13 school year, 46 states and the District of Columbia will roll out the Common Core State Standards for grades K-12.
How is it that we will have school-age children across the United States learning and mastering the same content standards, when there are no common standards for their teachers?
Michigan Alliance for Special Education
A version of this article appeared in the August 22, 2012 edition of Education Week as High-Quality Teacher Preparation Is Needed