NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Demands For Qualified Teachers Run Up Against Teacher Shortages

June 18, 2001

The education bill heading for a House-Senate conference sets minimum federal standards for teachers in Title I schools -- those in high-poverty areas that cater to educationally disadvantaged students. But some critics fear the quality standards will only make things worse at a time when teachers are in short supply in many urban areas.

"One day they're going to wake up and find there's no one teaching in their schools," warns Miami teacher Shawn DeNight.

  • Both the House and Senate versions of the bill require Title I teachers to earn a Bachelor's degree, have a license or be certified under state law, have an academic major in what they teach -- or pass a test in their subject area if they teach in high schools.
  • Current federal law has no requirements for teacher certification except for teachers hired with class-size reduction funds.
  • The House version of the bill requires that schools send a note home to parents informing them if their child is being taught by a teacher who isn't fully qualified -- a provision not present in the Senate version.
  • Getting new teachers to commit to teaching in inner-city schools is becoming increasingly difficult, experts say.

In the past, new teachers would start their careers in rural or inner-city schools and then transfer to suburban schools as positions opened up. Now, new graduates can find places in the suburbs immediately or in private schools.

Sources: Tamara Henry, "Pushing to Make Schools Better: Linking Funding to Teacher Credentials..." and Tracey Wong Briggs, "Pushing to Make Schools Better: ... Could Hurt the Neediest Most, Some Say," USA Today, June 18, 2001.

 

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