Fri, Jan 28, 2011
CFE JOINS DOZENS OF GROUPS WHO PROTEST THE LOWERING OF TEACHER STANDARDS
EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION UNTIL JANUARY 28, 2011 at 12:01am EST
DOZENS OF GROUPS PROTEST LOWERING OF TEACHER STANDARDS
Washington, D.C. â In an urgent letter sent Thursday to President Obama and key Congressional leaders, more than fifty organizations from across the country -- including civil rights, disability, parent, student, community and education groups -- criticized a provision signed into law last month lowering teaching standards required under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). The provision allows thousands of underprepared and inexperienced teachers to continue to be assigned disproportionately to low-income, minority, special education, and English language learner students and denies parents notification of the teachersâ underprepared status.
Intended to overturn a recent civil rights ruling won by low-income students and parents of color in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (Renee v. Duncan), the provision was quietly added by key Congressional leaders into the Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the government the day before the CR was passed on December 21, 2010.
In Renee v. Duncan, the Ninth Circuit struck down a Bush-era regulation that labeled teachers who have not met the standards for full state credentials as âhighly qualifiedâ from the first moment they begin training in alternative route preparation programs. The court ruled that the regulation patently conflicted with the unambiguously expressed intent of Congress in NCLB that only teachers âwho have obtainedâ full credentials be deemed âhighly qualified.â The designation is important under NCLB as all non-highly qualified teachers must be reported to parents and the public and cannot be concentrated in low-income, high-minority schools.
Urging the President and Congress to reverse course, the letter notes that the CR provision âdisproportionately impacts our most vulnerable populations: low-income students and students of color, English language learners, and students with disabilities who are most often assigned such underprepared teachers.â Further, the provision âhides this disparate reality from parents and the public by disingenuously labeling teachers-in-training as âhighly qualifiedâ and hindering advocacy for better prepared teachers.â
Evidence in Renee shows that two-thirds of alternate route trainees in California teach in schools with 75 percent or greater minority students, while around half teach special education students.
âI donât understand why Congress and the Administration are interfering with the victory we won in court,â said Maribel Heredia, a parent plaintiff in the Renee case. âI thought they supported equal access to experienced and fully-prepared teachers for the neediest students. We deserve at least the same quality of teachers as affluent communities.â
âItâs unacceptable that parents arenât required to be notified when their childâs teacher is not qualified to teach school,â added Mark Halpert, parent leader with The National Center for Learning Disabilities. âWe know that the academic needs of children with disabilities cannot be met by someone who is working to become a qualified teacher, but not there yet. When our children are not being taught by the highly qualified teachers they deserve, parents have a right to be told exactly why this is happening and when the situation will be rectified.â
League of United Latin American Citizens National President Margaret Moran echoed that sentiment with respect to English language learners. âThese people have not yet been fully trained on how best to convey the subject matter, much less on how best to teach English and academic content to students who are still becoming proficient in English. Why are we continuing the status quo of allowing districts and states to send our students underprepared teachers while calling them âhighly qualified?ââ
âThe civil rights community is highly disturbed by this effort to overturn a court victory won by community groups and low-income parents of color,â said Tanya Clay House, public policy director of the National Lawyersâ Committee for Civil Rights in Washington, D.C.. âMoreover, the fact that a major amendment of a primary federal education law being slipped into an appropriations bill at the eleventh hour is not how critical policies impacting our communities should be made."
The groups are calling for repeal of the CR provision and development of a transparent definition of teacher quality, along with a set of policies that will allow the nation to put a well-prepared and effective teacher in every classroom.
The following are available for comment:
John Affeldt, Managing Attorney, Public Advocates Inc., lead counsel in Renee v. Duncan,
Iris Chavez, Education Policy Coordinator, League of United Latin American Citizens,
Maribel Heredia, parent plaintiff in Renee v. Duncan, 510-342-6570
Tanya Clay House, Public Policy Director, National Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under
Candice Johnson, student plaintiff in Renee v. Duncan, 323-244-1306
Laura Kaloi, Public Policy Director, National Center for Learning Disabilities, 703-476-4894
For more information see the following blog posts.
Latino Elected and Appointed Officials
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