Monday, August 14, 2006

Highly Qualified

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.


At 6:32 PM , Blogger Janet said...

I don't teach in the worst area, but it's a far cry from the best. If I had to do it all over again though I would still choose the disadvantaged kids over the spoiled ones. There's more of a chance to make a difference if you can stick it out.

At 5:26 AM , Blogger School Master P said...

Same here - my school is rural, but only about 30 miles from some pretty nice suburban school districts. It is not a minority school, but the building is 50 years old (with a few additions since then) and there is just slight population growth (that being mostly due to kids of migrant workers), meaning a new building is unlikely. The students as a whole take little pride in it, partially for that reason.

This school gave me my break before I was fully certified, so I have a sense of loyalty to it, and I really like the fact that it is small, and I get to see and teach a lot of the same kids more than once over their four years. However, as you were saying, I wonder what it would be like at a spanking new school with really involved parents and a more ambitious student body.


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