Monday, December 27, 2010

So TFA Got Its Way

Apparently the appropriations bill made its way through the Congress with the "highly qualified teacher" part intact. Appalling. It is only good for two years but by then I'm sure Teach for America will have churned out even more minions (more on this at the end).

Here's what the bill says:

‘‘SEC. 163. (a) A ‘highly qualified teacher’ includes a teacher who meets the requirements in 34 C.F.R. 15 200.56(a)(2)(ii), as published in the Federal Register on 16 December 2, 2002.
‘‘(b) This provision is effective on the date of enactment of this provision through the end of the 2012–2013 academic year.

Here's 34 C.F.R. 15 200.56(a)(2)(ii): (This Rules/Regulations notice has a huge amount of info on what NCLB has to do.)

Alternate Certification: The NPRM specified that one of the requirements of being a "highly qualified teacher" is having obtained full State certification as a teacher--which may include certification obtained through alternative routes to certification. The final regulation adds language that requires teachers who are enrolled in alternative route programs to receive high-quality professional development before and while teaching, to participate in a program of intensive supervision or a teacher mentoring program, to assume the functions of a teacher while in the alternative route program only for a specified period of time not to exceed three years, and to demonstrate satisfactory progress toward full certification as prescribed by the State. The regulations have been further amended by requiring the State to ensure, through its certification and licensure process, that these provisions are met.

This is interesting (bold mine):

Waiver of Rulemaking

In response to comments, the Secretary has added Sec. 200.61 in these final regulations regarding parents' right to know the qualifications of their child's teachers.

This section merely incorporates statutory requirements in section 1111(h)(6) of Title I. The Secretary has included it, however, to emphasize the important responsibility of LEAs to notify parents of students in Title I schools that they have a right to request information regarding the professional qualifications of their child's teachers. Under the Administrative Procedure Act (5 U.S.C. 553), the Department generally offers interested parties the opportunity to comment on proposed regulations. However, these regulations merely reflect statutory provisions and do not establish or affect substantive policy Therefore, under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B), the Secretary has determined that proposed regulations are unnecessary.

Yes, I, too, think it a good idea that parents -not some but all parents - know if they have a TFA recruit as a teacher.

Costs? (Because yes, there are always costs despite what Director Maier seems to think.)

Based on our assessment of the regulatory burden on States, LEAs, and schools, we estimate that the total cost of administering these regulations is $52 million. In deriving this cost estimate, we calculated the burden hours at the SEA level to be 55,952 hours. Using a cost rate of $25 per hour at the SEA level, we estimated the administrative burden cost to States to be $1.4 million. At the LEA and school levels, we calculated the burden hours to be 2,530,476 hours. Based on a cost rate of $20 per hour, the estimated administrative burden cost at the local level is $50.6 million. The section of this preamble on the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 discusses the burden that the statutory requirements of the NCLB Act impose on States, LEAs, and schools in more detail. The fiscal year (FY) 2002 appropriation for Title I, part A provided a $1.6 billion (18 percent) increase in funds. This increase in funding will enable States, LEAs, and schools to meet the administrative costs associated with the requirements of the NCLB Act at the State, LEA, and school levels.

I'd like to see a definition for this:

" participate in a program of intensive supervision or a teacher mentoring program.." simply because I'd like to know who is paying for the supervision.

So I went to the TFA website to see if Seattle was on their map yet. Nope and, in fact, none of the Northwest is represented (not Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, or Montana).

What's funny is that TFA has a "Parents" section which I thought (silly me) was for parents whose children were in TFA classrooms. Nope, apparently these "best and brightest" need a section at the website....for their own parents. It's topics like:

"Why should my child join TFA?", "What Kind of Training Will My Child Receive?", etc. (If you can find me one graduate school in the U.S. that has a section for parents, I'll do a cartwheel down the aisle of the auditorium at SPS. )

The machine rolls on.

In BusinessWeek's fourth annual ranking of the top U.S. employers for young professionals entering the workforce, Teach For America holds the No. 7 spot and is the only nonprofit on the list.

And why?

» Salary ranging from $30,000-$51,500 a year (depending on location), comprehensive health insurance, and retirement benefits.
Corps members are paid by their school districts and salaries vary on a cost-of-living basis.
» $10,700 in AmeriCorps education awards that can be used to pay back student loans or towards future educational costs.
» $1,000-$6,000 in grants and no-interest loans for relocation.
» Alumni are eligible for up to $50,000 in grad school scholarships and application fee waivers.

So yes, I know my TFA friends are reading this and thinking I'm being very hard on them. I guess that's because it seems like TFA is more interested in what it can do for its recruits than the students they teach. Or maybe the website just comes off that way.


StopTfA said...

Here's more info on the OSPI site re: HQT requirements. Read through some of the links. There's alot of $$$s associated with these interns' on-the-job training.

Interesting you bring up the notice requirements. In this piece in WAPO, the writer ends with this statement.

What this will mean is that parents won't have to be told that their child's teacher is still being trained, and that teachers in training can still be inequitably placed in high-poverty schools.

I didn't read that in the seven little lines that gut protections for our most vulnerable students. Let's hope she's wrong. I urge EVERY parent to request the qualifications of the teachers and aides providing instruction and services to their children.

StopTfA said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
emeraldkity said...

I say EVERY SPS parent should request information on the qualfications of the teachers and instructional assistants providing instruction and services to their children.

I agree- but I also feel we shouldn't have to.

I give a cursory investigation into the qualifications of health care providers that my family uses perhaps a few times a year- even though children are at school everyday- I feel the state & the city as well as licensing boards should be able to keep criminals out of schools that should be designed for education as well as assure taxpayers that the employees of the district are well qualified & that the buildings are safe.

I can choose another physician, only limited by my ins & willingness to pay- but the only way I would have that much control over what teacher my child is assigned- or even what school they are assigned to, is by bypassing the public school system.

Melissa Westbrook said...

What you say is true but you do have the right to ask for your child to have another teacher. They can say no but I feel, particularly in elementary, that a fit with a teacher is important. What is also important is that parents, if they are not happy with a TFA recruit, go on record with the principal and the Board as opposing your child's placement.

I know that, in general, the SEA doesn't like parents questioning teacher credentials but I think in TFAs case, they would support an exception.

In the end, I believe parents have the right to know if their child's teacher is there with fewer credentials than the average teacher and under an "emergency" qualification. That this is not the wish of the district or TFA is no concern.

SeattleSped said...

I believe this is especially true for special needs children with minimal supports in ICS. The district's mantra for all things ELL and SpecEd is "differentiated instruction" (that way everything's vanilla, apples are apples, and MAP can measure everybody's "growth"). Takes more than five weeks training to know how to do that effectively.

StopTfA said...

The quiet is deceptive. The war isn't over.

Thought I'd pass this along:

"Highly qualified" is highly misleading

dan dempsey said...

Don't miss this one on TfA:

"Highly-Qualified" Temporary School Missionaries for Children Who Need Experienced Teachers

an excerpt:

Arne and the Disruptors (great name for a bad band) are always talking about edu-reform taking us beyond the status quo. Well, they are at it again, and the resulting changes this time are like most of the rest, taking the status quo backward, rather than forward.

The arrogant corporate fools in charge of federal education policy have slid language into a continuing resolution that will allow alternate route "certification" programs like TFA to claim that their candidates are "highly qualified" for NCLB purposes after four weeks of preparation.

With these clueless, well-meaning 2-year missionaries of TFA serving only in poor, brown, and black schools that desperately need teachers, rather than trainees, this has to be a solid basis for a civil rights lawsuit.

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