I just read this article on So You Want to be a Science Teacher’s site about the government’s No Child Left Behind education push.
Now, I’ll admit that the No Child Left Behind program sounds great; however, as most government projects, the execution leaves much to be desired. SYWST points out that the NCLB push has taken money from the National Science Foundation’s long-term math-science partnership to develop better math and science education for the short term goals of increasing student’s aptitude test scores.
Another downfall of NCLB is that it is chasing eager and qualified teachers out of the classroom for lack of proper certifications. I took a community education writing class last fall, and the teacher worked her “day job” as a teacher at a facility for pregnant teens and new teen mothers. She had a master of fine arts, and had been teaching at the facility for two years. However, since she didn’t have her teaching certifications, she would be ineligible to teach again next school year.
I can understand wanting to ensure that teachers are “highly qualified” (NCLB words), but a mere certification does not make a teacher more qualified and should not be the deciding factor. Perhaps for inexperienced teachers coming straight out of school these certifications offer some measure of their level of qualification, but the success of an experienced teacher speakes more than some lousy certifications.
The good news is that my writing teacher found a job teaching in the MfA program at Cornell. The bad news is that she quite enjoyed teaching the teenagers and had built a rapport with them. The facility will have to find a new teacher, probably less qualified, and likely less enthusiastic to work with pregnant teens.