Highly Unqualified?

The good folks from the state department of education visited our fair district a couple of days ago to review certification and job assignments. As a result, they have declared six of eight special education teachers to be not highly qualified according to No Child Left Behind.

I am one of them.

The declaration from the state folks has nothing to do with my education or experience. It has to do, rather, with the fact that I am the teacher of record for both sixth- and seventh-graders, who change classes throughout the day—an unforgiveable sin in the state’s eyes.

There are several steps that either the district or I can take to make me sin free:

1. I can take the state test in language arts (which I can pass easily) and the state test in math (which I will never pass) to become highly qualified in a single subject. (I could also earn a master’s degree in English—at considerable expense.) I would then teach only language arts to students with IEPs in grades 6-8. However, since there are so few students with IEPs in each grade, I would become a part-time teacher. Ever try living on less than $20,000 a year?

2. I can move from the middle school to the elementary school, where there is currently an opening. I’m not sure, however, that I’m ready to abandon my quirky middle-schoolers in favor of “ankle-biters.”

3. The district can declare that I am no longer the teacher of record and mainstream all the kids on my caseload. I would then simply “assist” the teacher of record in day-to-day instructional activities, much like a teacher’s aide. (Presumably, I’d still be compensated according to my education and experience, but in this district there are no guarantees.)

4. Or the district could (and this would be my choice) give me a self-contained class of sixth-graders and I could teach all subjects: language arts, math, science, social studies and life skills.

Our curriculum coordinator says that something must be done soon to meet the draconian requirements of NCLB. Whatever that something is, I’m sure we special ed teachers will be the last to know.

In the meantime, the good folks from the state department of education have said to our special ed director: “We would rather see students with IEPs taught by a long-term sub than by a certified special ed teacher who is not highly qualified.”


No wonder public education, at least in this place, is in such a state of disarray.

Posted on September 17, 2009, in highly qualified teachers, idiocy, NCLB. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Michelle Pfeiffer-Johnson

    I feel your pain. I’m not highly qualified, yet, and that makes it hard to get a job. But you have to have a job to get highly qualified. GRRRR!!!! And then it isn’t even guaranteed. What a …

    I hope your school figures out something quickly.

  2. Sheesh ! Its one thing after another, isn’t it ! NCLB has become a viral curse upon far too many, many public institutions of learning.

    Of my credentials, awarded by the State of California, they say I can teach Biology, Life Science, General Science and any K-12 Social Studies course. However, under NCLB, I am only “highly qualified” to teach Social Studies, because I have a BA in that subject. All my science classes were, for the most part, geared toward the middle school level of instruction. Even today, I have yet to find any US public or private University grant anyone a BS degree in General Science.

    Don’t know if you heard the news forcast regarding the California economy; nothing will improve over the year or two; in big part because of the seriously F-ed up State Government leadership in Sacramento. So, to read between the lines, more woe and cuts for public education are ahead of us here in the once “Golden State.”

    Take the language arts test. Have you found out just how soon you have to be “highly qualified” to continue in Spec. Ed ? I’d also consider moving to a lower grade level if you are qualified there, and they will make the change.

  3. Really? They said that?! oy vey

  4. That is awful. My school is way out of compliance with many issues and I hope they get caught big time. They are playing games with the lives of teachers and kids and it is not right. My class must have a certified special education teacher in it. Instead, it has a substitute math teacher with n special education credits. Nice huh!

    Actually, only one kid really needs the spec ed teacher and he was just removed. It would be really nice if the arrange ment I have now would last, but it won’t.

  5. Couple of things.

    1) In an ideal (or close) world, you would not be a glorified go-fer if you co-taught. I have one of my classes where I want it and we (teachers) effortlessly switch roles. I am working on the other. (The 2nd teacher is as old and stubborn as I. Sigh. We will compromise and make it work.

    2) What is involved in the math test? Do you have a study guide for it? Can you get a teacher to help you learn? I am tutoring an English teacher who wants to become certified in math and it is possible – even for the innumerate. education.yahoo.com – then look for the math button has a lot of help.

    My problem co-teacher is certified in everything (so am I – but she doesn’t know that) and that’s why she thinks she doesn’t need to plan with me and can dictate to me. We haven’t run into the NCLB highly qualified yet. Does it just mean having a degree in the subject you teach?

  1. Pingback: Just Call Me Alice « Magical Mystical Teacher

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