CNN repports that schools are not meeting the standards set for meeting the highly qualified tag of NCLB. It seems that the poor and minority schools do not have the correct percentage of teachers who are specifically trained.
There are a few issues that come up when discussing the highly qualified teacher. The first is who is a highly qualified teacher:
Highly Qualified Teachers: To be deemed highly qualified, teachers must have: 1) a bachelor's degree, 2) full state certification or licensure, and 3) prove that they know each subject they teach (here).
Interestingly, a teacher who is certified with an English endorsement, is not highly qualified to teach reading. That requires its own endorsement. This makes sense. Teaching a student to decode or employ basic comprehension skills is a much different task than teaching a student to evaluate or respond to a novel or play.
But a bigger problem exists. Convincing teachers, especially young teachers, to leave the suburbs for the poor or minority schools is that bigger problem. And, it becomes a difficult subject to approach without running the risk of being labled an elitist or a racist.
If we are honest with ourselves, we must be willing to admit that the poor and minority schools often have challenges not faced in the affluent suburbs. Those challenges range from run down school facilities to students who can't stay awake because they were up all night babysitting their brothers because mom had to work.
It isn't so much that schools aren't employing highly qualified teachers because their school is poor or minority filled. It is more an issue of teachers not wanting to fill those positions. In terms of job satisfaction, would you choose to teach at a school with a recent remodel, active parents, and engaged students, or would you choose to teach at a school with not enough desks, uninvolved parents, and students with other priorities?
The harsh reality is that teachers are just like everyone else. We aren't saints or missionaries. Most of us would rather teach at the easiest location. That is why I have the greatest respect for teachers that willingly accept these positions. It is hard.