Highly questionable reasoning
August 22, 2007
True or false: NCLB considers teachers going through alternate routes to certification (like those employed by Teach For America) to be "highly qualified." False, charges a new lawsuit filed by "a coalition of parents, students, community groups, and legal advocates" (with some encouragement, we're sure, from the education school establishment). It alleges that a five-year-old Department of Education regulation creates a loophole for alternate route programs that "defies the will of Congress" and "harms children." Really? The law itself is ambiguous on the question, at once allowing for alternate routes, while simultaneously banning any waivers of certification on an "emergency, temporary, or provisional basis." The problem is that alternate routes, by their very nature, don't confer certification on teachers until they complete a one or two year program--meaning they have to "waive" certification on a provisional basis. So what did Congress intend? Who knows, which is why the executive branch has regulatory authority to clarify such matters. This is far from an arcane issue, of course; if the Department were to lose this lawsuit, say goodbye to TFA, whose 5,000 corps members would be banned from teaching in the very high-need Title I schools they are trained to serve. (Could that really have been Congress's intent?) True or false: This lawsuit is really about preserving the education schools' monopoly.
"U.S. sued over teacher credentials," by Joel Rubin, Los Angeles Times, August 22, 2007