Notable quote by Hilary McLean: "Some of the students who need the most experienced teachers have the least access to them," McLean said. "We need to take steps to ensure they have access. This ruling may be a factor."
I'm curious how California intends to move beyond symbolic statements to actions and investment in efforts that prepare politically aware teachers for our high-needs schools. Might be kinda hard when billion dollar cuts are starving the state's education system.
Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
(09-28) 14:45 PDT SAN FRANCISCO -- California has violated federal law by classifying thousands of inexperienced, noncredentialed teachers as "highly qualified" and assigning them to schools with heavily low-income and minority enrollments, a federal appeals court ruled Monday.
The ruling by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco was a victory for impoverished families in Richmond, Hayward and Los Angeles who filed suit in 2007. They claimed their schools were saddled with disproportionate numbers of untrained interns because of federal and state regulations that flouted federal law.
The appeals court ruled 2-1 against the families in July 2009, saying the federal No Child Left Behind Act leaves such decisions largely up to the states. On Monday, after reviewing further arguments, the same panel reversed itself, reinterpreted the law and ruled 2-1 against the government.
The ruling doesn't require school districts to fire interns or bar them from teaching core subjects. But it requires districts in California - and potentially other states - to change their assignment policies so that the least-prepared teachers are not routinely placed in the neediest schools, said John Affeldt, a lawyer for the families.
Hilary McLean, spokeswoman for state schools Superintendent Jack O'Connell, said the ruling might help to narrow the achievement gap in California schools.
"Some of the students who need the most experienced teachers have the least access to them," McLean said. "We need to take steps to ensure they have access. This ruling may be a factor."
She said California had about 5,000 interns among its 306,000 teachers in 2008-09, a 27 percent decrease from the previous year.
According to evidence provided by the plaintiffs and cited by the court, 62 percent of the interns teach in the poorest half of California schools, and 41 percent teach in the 25 percent of the state's schools with the highest concentration of minority students.
The dispute involved a provision of No Child Left Behind that allows only "highly qualified" teachers to instruct students in core academic subjects. The law says a teacher must obtain "full state certification" to be highly qualified.
Rules adopted by the Bush administration in 2002, and replicated two years later by the California Board of Education, allowed interns to be considered highly qualified if they were in state-approved programs and were making progress toward certification.
Affeldt, the plaintiffs' lawyer, said the Obama administration has endorsed those rules in the current lawsuit.
But the appeals court said the regulations conflict with the law by putting interns who are making progress toward certification in the same category as teachers who have obtained full credentials.
Federal and state regulation "impermissibly expands the definition of 'highly qualified teacher,' " said Judge William Fletcher in the majority opinion. He acknowledged that the law allows California to redefine "full state certification" to include interns but said there was no evidence that the state would do so.
Judge Dorothy Nelson, author of the July 2009 ruling that upheld the regulations, changed her position and joined Fletcher's opinion. Judge Richard Tallman dissented.
The ruling can be viewed at links.sfgate.com/ZKIX.
Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/09/27/BALM1FKJOB.DTL#ixzz120ktogiu