Federal Education Report Finds Shortage of Qualified Teachers
Byline: George Archibald, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
A shortage of qualified teachers for many years has forced public elementary and secondary schools to have about half their English, science, mathematics, history and foreign-language classes taught by teachers who majored in other subjects, Education Secretary Rod Paige told Congress in a report issued yesterday.
In releasing the report, Mr. Paige said teacher colleges must align their programs with requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, to meet the mandate for highly qualified teachers in all classrooms by 2006. He also said states must take greater advantage of alternate teacher-licensing programs.
"The first thing we have to do is win the people over who are going to implement the act, the people who are going to make it work," the secretary told reporters invited to his office to discuss the report.
"It's a decentralized system. Every state has their own authority to do what they want to do ... We're not going to be the 800-pound gorilla in Washington, D.C. We're going to be the partners with the states," Mr. Paige said.
"We're going to have that level of personalization that knows people in the states personally, talks to them directly eyeball-to-eyeball," he added.
The report is titled "Meeting the Highly Qualified Teachers Challenge: The Secretary's Second Annual Report on Teacher Quality." It states:
c "Only 54 percent of our nation's secondary teachers were highly qualified during the 1999-2000 school year," the latest year for complete data from all the states. "These data suggest that out-of-field teaching is a serious problem across the country."
The report says the term "highly qualified" means having at least a bachelor's degree, state teacher certification and a major in all fields taught.
c In core subject areas, just 50 percent of English teachers were highly qualified; 47 percent of mathematics teachers; and 55 percent of science and social-studies teachers.
c "Seven states report having more than 10 percent of their teachers on waivers (teaching with emergency, temporary or provisional licenses.)" Maryland had 15 percent of its teacher work force on waivers. Virginia had 8 percent. The report said the District did not report the number of teachers on waivers.
c "The traditional teacher training and state licensure system has been under-producing highly qualified teachers for so long that several states implemented alternative routes to teaching years ago. …