January 07, 2006

And This Time They REALLY Mean It!

I frankly do not understand how the Washington, DC public schools can even be taken seriously after reading this story.

D.C. School Superintendent Clifford B. Janey has notified 1,100 uncertified teachers -- about 25 percent of the system's teaching force -- that they will lose their jobs if they do not obtain proper credentials by June 30.

Most of those teachers have expired provisional licenses or have not submitted proof of a valid D.C. teaching license. Janey said yesterday that he took the action because the teachers had been warned repeatedly that they were in danger of being dismissed if they did not comply.

He also cited teacher standards in the federal No Child Left Behind law. But Janey acknowledged that his dismissal plan goes well beyond what that law requires. According to that law, school districts must demonstrate by June that they are making a good-faith effort to put only "highly qualified" teachers in their classrooms, a standard that includes full state certification.

"The question for us is how long can we wait for individuals who have known about the expectation to become fully certified but fail to meet it, irrespective" of the No Child law, Janey said. "We want to send an unambiguous message about the importance of becoming fully certified. This recognizes the kind of impact a good teacher has on the quality of life of children. We are putting a premium on teacher quality."

Now I understand that there are folks on various and sundry temporary certificates in classrooms. When I moved to Texas from Illinois, I was put on such a certificate until I passed the state certification test down here. I have colleagues who are on such certificates as they go through intesively monitored alternative certification programs. But none of us would have ever been allowed to stay in the classroom past the expiration of such a certificate unless we could produce a valid permanent certificate! How is it that so many folks in Washington have been allowed to do so?

It is not clear how many of the 1,100 can meet Janey's deadline. School and teachers union officials said some of the teachers simply need to pass the District's licensing exam, while others need more college credit hours in the subject they are teaching and might have trouble getting them in time. Officials could not say how many teachers are in each of those categories.

Janey said that according to school system records, 545 of the teachers have never had a valid D.C. license. Union officials dispute that figure, saying that the system has a history of poor record-keeping and has likely lost some files.

Half of these teachers have never had a valid certificate in the District of Columbia? How did that happen? I cannot believe the union's explanation, because any teacher in such a situation should be able to easily produc their original certificate or their test scores or other evidence of certification.

But the union goes furhter.

George Parker, president of the Washington Teachers' Union, agreed that the number of uncertified teachers likely will drop by June. But he questioned whether the system will be able to recruit enough certified teachers to fill vacancies.

Parker said that exceeding the federal requirements is "a good objective" but that school officials "have the responsibility to put in place professional development and training to help teachers become certified."

Like many states, the District uses the Praxis teacher licensing exam, which assesses general competency in reading, math and English as well as knowledge in the area of expertise. Some English teachers, for example, might need tutoring to pass the math section, Parker said.

I disagree with you, George. The school district does not have a responsibility to operate such a program. If anything, the union does -- after all, you extort hndreds of dollars out of the paychecks of teachers each year under color of law. Shouldn't you be doing someting to help them maintain their employment?

How bad is teh situation in Washington? This little bit at the end of the article tells a lot of the story. Look at the little detail (I've put it in bold) that doesn't show up until the last line of the article.

Janey also said 58 uncertified teachers were notified yesterday that they will be laid off at the end of this month because enrollment has fallen. Enrollment dropped from about 62,700 last year to 59,600 this year, continuing a steady decline.

The District routinely adjusts staffing levels during the school year when official enrollment figures are released, but individual schools normally decide which positions to cut. Janey said he targeted the uncertified teachers as part of the system's effort to raise teacher standards. All 58 have been working with three-year provisional certifications that expired between 1999 and 2002, he said. To keep working, they must produce a credential by the end of next week.

Excuse me -- certificate between three and six years out of date and they are STILL employed in Washington classrooms? There needs to be some serious housecleaning in that district if sucha situation has been allowed to fester.

» The COLOSSUS OF RHODEY links with: More public ed. black eye

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» The COLOSSUS OF RHODEY links with: More public ed. black eye, on January 08, 2006, 07:35 AM
Excerpt: Rhymes With Right notes the ridiculous situation in the Washington DC public schools: D.C. School Superintendent Clifford B. Janey has notified 1,100 uncertified teachers -- about 25 percent of the system's teaching force -- that they will lose their j...

Comments on And This Time They REALLY Mean It!

Dang, that really is ridiculous. In my days of teaching, there was no way I could get away with teaching without a certification. How the heck do they allow this to continue? They really need to do a serious clean-up, not just of uncertified instructors, from the looks of it.

|| Posted by Angel, January 14, 2006 02:24 PM ||
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