How Can I Help Teachers Being Pushed Out by New Law?
attorney writes: "I have been approached by highly qualified
teachers who are being pushed out of their positions by law changes.
I am looking for guidance about how these caring teachers can continue
The law that requires states to upgrade teacher qualifications is
a federal law, the No
Child Left Behind Act of 2001. This law requires all teachers
to be "highly qualified" (to demonstrate competence in the
subjects they teach) by the end of the 2005-2006 school year.
When the law was passed, many people hoped that exceptions would be
carved out for various groups so they would not have to become highly
qualified. This did not happen.
In fact, when Congress reauthorized
the Individuals with Disabilities Act in December 2004, they clarified
that the highly
qualified teacher requirements apply to special education teachers
too. The only exception that I am aware of is that teachers in
rural areas (who often teach several subjects) were given one additional
year to become highly qualified - that's it.
The law required states to establish standards that aligned teacher
certification to knowledge of core academic subjects. The term core
academic subjects" means English, reading or language arts, mathematics,
science, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, arts,
history, and geography (Title IX, Section 9101(11)).
In exchange for federal funds, states had to develop academic standards,
align student testing to the standards, and align teacher certification
to these standards. As this was accomplished, school districts had
to ensure that their teachers meet these standards.
Federal funds flow from the state to school districts. School districts
can use funds for professional development and training to ensure
that their teachers meet these requirements. Teachers in all states
need to find out what they need to do to meet their state standards.
Since teachers have to be highly qualified by the end of the 2005-2006
school year, the teachers you represent don't have any more time to
There are several ways teachers can meet these standards - they can
have a major in the subject(s) they teach or they can take an exam
to demonstrate their competence.
If you are representing the interests of teachers who do not meet
these requirements, you need to be knowledgeable about the No Child
Left Behind Act, the purpose of the law, and the teacher quality requirements.
You may want to get a copy of Wrightslaw:
No Child Left Behind - it contains the full text of the NLCB
statute with commentary and analyses. It also includes separate chapters
that address the interests of different groups - teachers, school
administrators, parents, academics, school leaders, and attorneys.
The book includes a NCLB
CD-ROM of publications and resources about the law.
In addition, we built a NCLB
site on Wrightslaw that includes these sections:
You can help the teachers you represent by encouraging them to learn
about this law - it will have a huge impact on their lives.
Good luck to you,