A recently introduced piece of legislation (House Bill 21) would qualify Teach For America alums for a professional educator license in Ohio. (The bill contains many other important provisions regarding virtual charters, use of Ohio's value-added metrics in grades 4-8 for teacher evaluations, etc. ? so expect a fuller analysis of the bill from us later.)
In fact, the details of HB 21 are strongly reminiscent of last fall's SB 180, for which Terry and teachers from a Fordham-sponsored charter school provided testimony.
We thought SB 180's provision to grant professional licensure to TFA alums who had a track record of excellence serving poor students (but in another state) was an excellent idea then, and we think it's a good idea now. HB 21 would open up a pathway for TFA alums struggling to get licensed in Ohio to be put directly on the path to licensure; they would no longer be placed on long-term substitute licenses and fight with rigid licensure requirements just to teach in the Buckeye State. This is a promising way to keep TFA alums?from going the way of Ohio's insidious?brain drain?(many leave, expressing frustration that the state doesn't want them here).
The new legislative cycle for Ohio's 129th General Assembly has barely started, and as far as alternative teacher preparation programs such as TFA go ? this is a promising beginning. Here's to hoping that 2011 is not only the year for alums to get licensed, but for the Teach For America program itself to finally come to the Buckeye State!
- Jamie Davies O'Leary