Sunday, November 22, 2009

Surprise Letter To Superintendents Says Teachers Not Qualified

By Megan Moore | NewsChannel 10
Oct 23, 2009

Amarillo, Texas - Despite meeting all the requirements, some local teachers have been slapped with an ugly "not highly qualified" title after a letter from the federal government.

Apparently the federal government has a new interpretation for an old law, and that is why, now, some teachers' qualifications are in limbo.

Superintendents across Texas found a letter on their desks earlier this week from the Texas Education Agency per the US Department of Education. It says despite meeting state requirements, specific content certifications for new teachers in 4th through 8th grades now mean nothing.

AISD Assistant Superintendent Daniel Coward says, "because they are certified in Texas, fully certified and qualified in the state of Texas in that content to teach that content, the federal government says they are not highly qualified."

In fact, the federal government says about 15 AISD teachers are not highly qualified, which Coward finds absurd, especially now.

He says, "it's very frustrating. The timing of it. For them to tell us at the beginning of October that people we hired in April, May, June don't meet the's very frustrating."

Issues like this are why Kasey Wood is going ahead with generalist certification anyway. She says, "if I went this route I'd have a lot more opportunities and I'd be more likely to get a job than if I had a certain specialty."

As for the teachers who already have special certification, they may have to start over.

Coward says, "we will take these teachers who we have hired, who meet those conditions and help them work toward a generalist certificate so that they're highly qualified."

Across the state, an estimated 30,000 teachers may have to do the same.

But this is not over. Coward says the Texas Education Agency is still talking with the US Department of Education to see if this can be resolved next year instead of the middle of this year.

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