Thursday, September 15, 2011

Senate Proposal Would End "Highly Qualified" Designation

Senate Proposal Would End "Highly Qualified" Designation

Hmmm.... I have mixed feelings about ending the need to be "highly qualified" in order to teach a subject.

In my previous job teaching in a rural, hard-to-staff middle school - I saw a career engineer get turned down to teach math, because he was not considered highly qualified. I could see that he isn't highly qualified to handle things like classroom management and curriculum development, but he certainly wasn't lacking in the capabilities necessary to teach middle school level math. I think situations like this do happen and I also think that, up to about 10th grade, an all-around intelligent person has the content knowledge necessary to adequately teach all subjects. Not that the person would necessarily be a good teacher, but there should be a way to prove that you are content-competent without having to go back and take college courses. After all, we don't want to deter potential great teachers from entering the profession.

On the other hand, I don't know that it's a great idea to further lower the standards that it currently takes to become a teacher. The teaching profession should seek to become MORE professional and prestigious, not less so. And part of that comes from who is allowed to walk into a classroom and be called "teacher." Not everyone is allowed to be "doctor," "lawyer," or "accountant," even if they'd like to become one. So, if we are doing away with "highly qualified," what will replace it? How will we ensure that our teachers are more highly qualified in the ways that matter to students?

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