THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
WASHINGTON - Parents have been promised that kids will get a highly
qualified teacher in every core class this year. Now it's clearer what will
happen if they don't.
Education Secretary Margaret Spellings has assured states that she won't
strip their federal money if they fail to get all teachers qualified by the
end of the school year. But that deal will be offered only to states that
show they are making a serious effort.
The terms mark the first time the Education Department has explained how it
will enforce the sweeping teacher-quality promise of President Bush's No
Child Left Behind law. Notably, states can get a full extra year to comply -
if they can prove their case to Spellings.
Specifically, states must have a legitimate definition of "highly
qualified," report accurate data about the quality of their teachers, and
try to ensure poor and minority students do not have a larger share of
unqualified teachers than other children do.
Otherwise, Spellings said in a letter to chief state school officers, she
may withhold federal money. That's significant because money is the
government's only major tool of enforcement, and enforcement is the only way
parents know whether the promise has been kept.
Nothing in the law or the new guidance forces any unqualified teacher to be
"If you acted in good faith, what we're going to say is, 'OK. We need to sit
down and talk. What is your game plan?' " said Assistant Secretary Tom Luce.
" 'What are you going to do that's new and different?' "
It will be up to Spellings' team to decide who has shown good faith and who
Under the law, teachers in all major subjects are supposed to be highly
qualified this year, which means having a bachelor's degree, state
certification and proven competence in every subject they teach. Teachers in
isolated, rural areas have an extra year to qualify.