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TFA Letter to House and Senate

TFA Letter to House and Senate

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Published by: huffpost on Jul 18, 2012
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July16,2012TheHonorableHaroldRogersChairmanCommitteeonAppropriationsUnitedStatesHouseofRepresentativesTheHonorableNormDicksRankingMemberCommitteeonAppropriationsUnitedStatesHouseofRepresentativesTheHonorableDennyRehbergChairmanAppropriationsSubcommitteeonLabor,HealthandHumanServices,Education,andRelatedAgenciesUnitedStatesHouseofRepresentativesTheHonorableRosaDeLauroRankingMemberAppropriationsSubcommitteeonLabor,HealthandHumanServices,Education,andRelatedAgenciesUnitedStatesHouseofRepresentativesTheHonorableJohnBoehnerSpeakeroftheHouseUnitedStatesHouseofRepresentativesTheHonorableNancyPelosiMinorityLeaderUnitedStatesHouseofRepresentativesDearChairmanRogers,CongressmanDick,ChairmanRehberg,CongresswomanDeLauro,SpeakerBoehner,andMinorityLeaderPelosi,We,theundersignedorganizations,requestthatthecurrentlegaldefinitionofahighlyqualifiedteacher(HQT)asdefinedinSection163ofPublicLaw111-322beincorporatedintothenextmust-passlegislationunderyourjurisdiction.Failuretodosocouldresultinhundredsofthousandsofteacherslosingtheirjobs,leavingmorethan1.5millionstudents,themajorityhighriskorlowincome,withoutcertifiedteachers.Rigorousstudieshaveconsistentlyshownthatalternativelycertifiedteachers,asawhole,areaseffective,ifnotmoreeffective,thantraditionallycertifiedteachers.Forexample,a2009nationalrandomizedstudycommissionedbytheU.S.DepartmentofEducationfoundthatthereisnostatisticallysignificantdifferenceinperformancebetweenstudentstaughtbyteacherscertifiedthroughalternativeasopposedtotraditionalroutes.Similarly,acomprehensivestudyofteachereducationresearchpublishedbytheAmericanEducationalResearchAssociationfoundtherewerenodifferencesinteacherefficacyorteachingcompetence,asmeasuredbyclassroomobservations,betweenalternativelyandtraditionallycertifiedteachers.
Twoofthenation'smostwidelyrespectedteacherrecruitmentandtrainingorganizations,TeachForAmericaandTNTP(formerlyTheNewTeacherProject)havebroughtmorethan50,000alternativelycertifiedteacherstothenation'shighest-needschools.ThemostrigorousindependentstudieshavedemonstratedthatTeachForAmericacorpsmembersoutperformnon-TeachForAmericateachers(includingveteranteachers)inmultiplesubjectsandgradelevels.Researchalsoshowsthatyearafteryear,alternativelycertifiedteacherstrainedbyTNTParemoreeffectivethanbothnewandexperiencedteachersinadvancingstudentgrowthincoresubjectareaslikemath,English/languagearts,andscience.
Basedonthesefacts,participatinginanalternativeroutetocertificationdoesnotprecludeateacherfrombeinghighlyeffective,andthusshouldneverpreventthatteacherfrom
 
beingconsidered"highlyqualified."Thatsaid,werealizethatwiththereauthorizationoftheElementaryandSecondaryEducationAct,aneffortmustbemadetomoreaccuratelydefinehighlyeffectiveteachers.Untilthen,itisimportantthatallhighlyeffectiveteachers,includingthosepursuingalternativecertification,remainintheirclassrooms.TeachForAmericaandTNTParejusttwoofmanyprogramswithanexcellenttrackrecordofproducinghigh-performing,alternativelycertifiedteachers.Nationally,aboutone-thirdofallnewteachersarehiredthroughalternativerouteseachyear.Thisnumberisonlyexpectedtogrow,asmorecurrentteachersreachretirement.Inmanystates,alternativeroutesareprovidingacriticalmassofteachersannually,including:FloridaandTexas:Morethan50%ofteachers;California,GeorgiaandNewJersey:Morethan40%ofteachers;Mississippi:Morethanonethirdofteachers.Aftera2010NinthCircuitCourtofAppealsrulinginvalidateda2002DepartmentofEducationregulationandalteredadecadeofpractice,CongressactedquicklytoreaffirmTitle20ofNoChildLeftBehind,recognizingthatteachersmeetingcertainbenchmarkswhileenrolledinhighqualityalternativecertificationprogramsarehighlyqualified.Atthattime,theexpectationwasthattheElementaryandSecondaryEducationAct(ESEA)wouldbereauthorizedshortly,andtheprovisionwassettoexpireattheendofthe2012schoolyear.AsESEAhasnotbeenreauthorized,allowingtheprovisiontoexpirewouldhaveadevastatingeffectonjobs,schoolsystems,andchildrenandfamiliesacrossthecountry.
It
iscurrentlaw,andextendingitwouldservetomaintainthestatusquo.Therehavebeenconversationsaboutalteringoreliminatingtheprovision;however,inthespiritofnotdisruptingthelongstandingapproachtoHQTonwhichstatesandlocaldistrictshaverelied,westronglysuggestthatanymodificationstothefederal,state,andlocalregulationsregardingwhofallsundertheHQTumbrellabemadeaspartofabroaderESEAreauthorization.
It
isvitaltoallowallrelevantpartiesthechancetodeliberateandweighinonthiscriticalprovision.RadicallyshiftingthecurrentHQTapproachwillhaveasignificantinfluenceonthecurrentsystem,andthepotentialtocauseturmoilinschoolsnextyear.Therewillbeparticularlydamagingeffectsforstatesanddistrictsandcharterschoolsthatrelyheavilyonalternativeroutestoprovidenewteachers,withanoverwhelminganddisproportionateimpactonmanyhighpovertycommunities.
In
aneraoffiscalrestraint,itisimportanttonotethatincludingthisprovisionwillnotrequireanyfunding,andwillnotaffecttheCongressionalbudget.However,ifthecurrentHQTlawisnotextended,hundredsofthousandsoftremendouslygiftedteacherswhohaveasignificantpositiveimpactonstudentswillnotbeabletocontinuetoteach.Thatisacostthiscountrysimplycannotaffordtobear.Everychildinthiscountrydeservestobetaughtbyoutstandingteachers.Bytakingalternativelycertifiedteachersoutoftheequation,ourabilitytoprovidethemwiththehighcaliberteacherstheydeservebecomesmuchmoredifficult.EnactmentoflegislationwhichextendscurrentlawregardingHQTisessentialifwewanttocontinuemovingforwardtothis
 
promise.Wethankyouforyoursupporttodate,andofferourunqualifiedsupporttohelpyoupassthislegislation.Sincerely,50CAN:The50-StateCampaignforAchievementNowAchieveHartford!AchievementFirstAspirePublicSchoolsEliBroad,Founder,TheBroadFoundationsBuildingExcellentSchoolsCynthiaBrown,VicePresidentforEducationPolicy,CenterforAmericanProgressActionFundChiefsforChange:JanetBarresi,OklahomaStateSuperintendentofPublicInstructionTonyBennett,IndianaSuperintendentofPublicInstruction
&
ChairofChiefsforChangeStephenBowen,MaineCommissionerofEducationChrisCerf,NewJerseyCommissionerofEducationDeborah
A.
Gist,RhodeIslandCommissionerofElementaryandSecondaryEducationKevinHuffman,TennesseeCommissionerofEducationPaulPastorek,FormerLouisianaStateSuperintendentofEducation
&
MemberEmeritusGerardRobinson,FloridaCommissionerofEducationHannaSkandera,NewMexicoPublicEducationDepartmentSecretary-Designate
&
ViceChairofChiefsforChangeEricSmith,FormerFloridaCommissionerofEducation
&
MemberEmeritusJohnWhite,LouisianaStateSuperintendentofEducationChicagoPublicSchoolsConnCAN:TheConnecticutCoalitionforAchievementNowConnecticutCouncilforEducationReformDemocracyPrepPublicSchoolsE.L.HaynesPublicCharterSchoolExcelBridgeportGreenDotPublicSchoolsDr.JaneHannawayTheThomasB.FordhamInstituteIDEAPublicSchoolsJasonKamras,2005NationalTeacheroftheYear,ChiefofHumanCapital,DCPublicSchoolsKIPPPublicCharterSchoolsMarylandCAN:TheMarylandCampaignforAchievementNowMatchTeacherResidencyMinnCAN:TheMinnesotaCampaignforAchievementNowNationalAllianceforPublicCharterSchoolsNationalCenterforAlternativeCertificationNationalCouncilonTeacherQualityNewLeadersNewSchoolsforNewOrleans

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