September 13, 2006
Gadfly tries to flutter his wings on the sunny side of issues and therefore resists chiding Secretary Spellings for her recent flip-flop on "highly qualified teachers." It's true, as others have noted, that her decision to allow states to continue to determine whether their veteran teachers are up to snuff by using a portfolio approach--the "High Objective Uniform State Standard of Evaluation" (HOUSSE)--only rewards gamesmanship. To be sure, we'd be better off if all teachers, including experienced ones, had to show their stuff by passing a rigorous exam in each subject they teach. No, she's not going to press for anything like that. But we've spotted a silver lining: the current "HQT" provisions are a nightmare for charter schools, and the HOUSSE option makes their lives an ounce easier. After all, many small charters ask their teachers to instruct students in multiple subjects and passing teacher tests in each of them can be time-consuming and expensive. Plus, some charters use an integrated education approach that doesn't easily match up to the available Praxis exams. We've never believed that charters should have to follow the HQT rules anyway--remember "flexibility in return for accountability?"--so we're happy to cut them some slack. Every once in a while, unintended consequences can be good.
"Ed. Dept. Eases Teacher Quality Rule," Associated Press, September 7, 2006