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NCLB Outrages

Education Board Approves Short-Cut Teacher Certification Rule
Angela Valenzuela comments on this atrocity:

A number of us testified against this. It’s quite unfortunate that our state board has opted to allow for on-the-job training. On the whole, folks who testified were against this measure which was a backend effort given that it had already been rejected as a bill during the last regular legislative session. One can’t help but feel that while rationalized as an attempt to alleviate the teacher shortage, that this is really a move against teachers and teacher education programs. To address our nursing shortage, we would never allow biology majors to take a multiple choice test and then learn on the job how to give shots and take blood. Why would we do to teaching what we wouldn’t do to nurses, doctors, or lawyers? More not less expertise is needed than ever before—particularly with our changing demographics and educators in our own state at a loss in terms of knowing what to do with an increasingly culturally diverse student body? Plus, research in our own state shows that teachers coming through the alternatively certified routes are more likely to leave the profession earlier. See data from the State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC), the very group that sought the change in the rule).

SBOE member Joe Bernal questioned the teacher certification justification by suggesting that our highest needs in the state are not even in math and science but in Secondary foreign language; bilingual/ESL elementary, and secondary bilingual/ESL elementary. This change in rule will hardly do anything to alleviate the crisis in these specific areas.

To address this problem, we should be looking at working conditions, increasing teacher salaries and improving benefits, as well as addressing the looming issue of teacher retention that this rule will not only not solve but exacerbate. Another justification provided by SBEC was NCLB’s demands for “highly qualified” teachers in every classroom yet they define “highly qualified as anyone with 24 college hours in a subject area.

While there was a lot of joking this week at the SBOE about teachers and teacher associations as “terrorists,” it is clear that the SBOE’s move is part of a larger campaign to demonize teachers and ultimately, to shortchange the children they teach. Is it any coincidence that these children and communities are increasingly minority and immigrant—especially in our inner-city schools? -Angela

Education Board Approves Teacher Certification Rule

College grads could teach without normal training

By Dave Harmon
Saturday, February 28, 2004

In a narrow vote Friday, the State Board of Education wasn't able to block a rule to let college graduates bypass teacher training programs and learn on the job.

The board voted 8-7 to kill the rule, but that wasn't enough, because under state law the 15-member board needed 10 votes to reject it.

Many of the board members who opposed the rule said it was poorly written and didn't set any standards for how people who receive the new temporary teacher certificate will be trained.

"If we're going to do it, let's at least do it right," said board member Bob Craig of Lubbock. "As an attorney, if you brought this contract to me, I would tell you not to sign it. There are just too many loopholes."

Board member Alma Allen of Houston added: "Poorly prepared teachers produce poorly prepared students."

None of the members who supported the rule spoke during the discussion before the vote.

The rule, which twice has failed to pass the Legislature, has been the focus of a major political battle over teacher standards. Gov. Rick Perry and new Education Commissioner Shirley Neeley have championed the idea, siding with groups representing school districts and administrators who say it will help ease a teacher shortage.

Teacher groups, universities and many educators have fought the rule, contending that it cheapens the profession, opens classrooms to unprepared teachers who are likely to quit when they find themselves in over their heads, and includes neither money nor guidance for the school districts that will be training these new teachers.

Opponents have one last shot at defeating the rule when it goes back to the State Board for Teacher Certification for a final vote on April 2. That board is dominated by Perry appointees. The certification board approved it in a 5-4 vote in November, with one member abstaining and one seat vacant.

If the certification board gives the rule final approval, it will take effect this summer, opening classroom doors to people who want to teach but don't want to go through traditional training programs, such as those offered at universities and colleges and the alternative certification program.

Hanging over the debate is the federal No Child Left Behind Act, the sweeping education reform law signed by President Bush in 2002. The law requires that teachers of core subjects such as English and math be "highly qualified" by the end of the 2005-06 school year. That means having at least a bachelor's degree, showing competence in their subject area and being certified by their state.

But states can set their own standards for certification. In this case, Texas could count people with a temporary teacher certificate as "highly qualified." That would be welcome news to many schools that have hired teachers using so-called district teaching permits, which have even fewer minimum standards and therefore can't produce "highly qualified" teachers.

About 2,000 of the more than 4,200 teachers hired with those permits since 1995 are still teaching, according to the Texas Association of School Administrators.

Last year, a teacher quality report by U.S. Education Secretary Rod Paige said the No Child Left Behind Act "gives the green light to states that want to lower barriers to the teaching profession" for college graduates and people looking to change careers. The report said research found "little compelling evidence" that teacher certification standards had any impact on student achievement -- it was careful not to say that student teaching and other training isn't valuable.

In 2002, Texas and 43 other states had alternative routes to teacher certification. Several states -- including Alabama, Colorado and California -- have programs that bypass student teaching and other typical teacher training programs.

In California, a 2001 law let applicants become teachers by passing teaching tests and entering an internship program in which they learn on the job and get evaluated by classroom observers -- a good grade from the observer means getting a preliminary credential.

"We haven't had any problem with the program," said Dale Martin of the California Teachers Association.

dharmon@statesman.com; 445-3645

How they voted on whether to reject the rule


Alma Allen, D-Houston

Linda Bauer, R-The Woodlands

Mary Helen Berlanga, D-Corpus Christi

Joe Bernal, D-San Antonio

Bob Craig, R-Lubbock

Patricia Hardy, R-Weatherford

Mavis Knight, D-Dallas

Rene Nuñez, D-El Paso


David Bradley, R-Beaumont

Terri Leo, R-Spring

Gail Lowe, R-Lampasas

Don McLeroy, R-Bryan

Geraldine Miller (chairman),


Dan Montgomery,


Cynthia Thornton, R-Round Top

— Dave Harmon


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