Public school educators
unqualified says study; homeschool teachers
must be 'certified'
Two reports here related to educating our
children. One is about government (f)education
facilitators not knowing their subject but
teaching it anyway and the other about the
State requiring parents to be *certified* in
order to teach their children at home.
Study Blasts Teacher
Qualifications - Says teachers are
being assigned to teach classes they're not
trained to lead
Thursday, August 22, 2002
By GREG TOPPO AP EDUCATION WRITER
WASHINGTON -- One day soon you may find that
your child's seventh-grade biology teacher
majored in economics - and that English
teacher, she may be pining to teach French.
As public middle- and high-school students
head back to class over the coming weeks, a
new report suggests that it's likely they'll
have at least one course taught by a teacher
trained in another subject. One in four
classes is taught by such a teacher, according
to The Education Trust, a Washington
organization that advocates for urban and
The group, which issued the report Wednesday,
said the problem is much worse in schools that
serve poor and minority students.
"It's clear that administrators have yet
to get the message that they have to stop
assigning teachers out of field," said
Craig Jerald, an Education Trust senior policy
analyst. "Sure, shortages make it
more difficult to tackle this problem, but
there's good evidence that a lot of this is
under our control."
The report said the problem hasn't improved
since 1993. Jerald cited
"administrative sloppiness and
carelessness" as a major cause.
"If we have widely recognized surpluses
in language arts and social studies, why are
there so many language arts and social studies
classes assigned to teachers without even a
college minor in those fields?" he said.
"It doesn't make sense and it suggests
that our actions are a part of the
Paul Houston, executive director of the
American Association of School Administrators,
said the issue is not that simple.
"It's not like people are sitting around
saying, `Let's fill these classrooms with
people who are not qualified,'" he said.
"If the people aren't there and aren't
willing to work for these (school) systems,
you're going to have a problem."
The issue will receive broad attention this
fall as the federal government, for the first
time, requires schools to tell parents when
their children are being taught by these
Part of an education plan signed in January by
President Bush requires that if an instructor
is assigned to a subject he is not qualified
to teach, the principal must send home a note
letting parents know within a month.
The report was based on a random survey of
about 55,000 teachers by the Education
Department. The Education Trust examined
responses from 16,000 secondary school
teachers in the most recent survey, from the
1999-2000 school year.
The group looked at whether classes in four
core subjects - English, math, science and
social studies - were assigned to a teacher
who lacked a college major or minor in that
field or a related field.
Nationally, 24.2 percent of classes were
taught by such teachers, but 12 states had
more than 30 percent of classes fitting that
category. Five states - Arizona,
Delaware, Louisiana, New Mexico and Tennessee
- averaged more than one-third.
In schools that serve mostly poor students,
nearly twice as many courses are taught by
out-of-field teachers as in schools with few
poor students, the analysis found. The
problem also is worse in schools that mostly
serve minority students: 29 percent compared
with 21 percent for schools that have low
Richard Ingersoll, the University of
Pennsylvania researcher who analyzed the data,
said the problem is more serious in middle
schools, which have 44 percent of classes, on
average, taught by out-of-field teachers.
That rises to 53 percent in high-poverty
--- On the Net:
Education Trust: http://www.edtrust.org
Schools and Staffing Survey: http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/sass/
August 21, 2002
California warns home schoolers
By Ellen Sorokin
School officials in
California are warning parents that they
cannot educate their children at home unless
they obtain professional teaching credentials.
Without the proper
credentials, parents no longer can file
required paperwork that would authorize them
to home school their children, states a memo
issued by the state Department of Education.
As a result, those children not attending
public schools would be considered
"truant" by local school districts.
'home schooling' — a situation where
non-credentialed parents teach their own
children, exclusively, at home whether using
correspondence courses or other types of
courses — is not an authorized exemption
from mandatory public school attendance,"
state Deputy Superintendent Joanne Mendoza
wrote in the July 16 memo to all school
parent's filing of the affidavit required of a
private school does not transform that parent
into a private school," the memo
continued. "Therefore, those parents who
home-school their children are operating
outside the law, and there is no reason for
them to file an affidavit."
home-based education say the memo is just
another ploy to frighten home-school parents
into sending their children to public schools.
Part of it has to do with money, they say, as
the state's education department is dealing
with a $23 billion deficit.
"This has to do
with money and ideology," said J. Michael
Smith, president of the Virginia-based Home
School Legal Defense Association.
"California would be the only state in
the union that would require home schoolers to
be certified teachers."
Miss Mendoza's memo
was sent to all district and county
superintendents, private-school coordinators,
school-attendance review board members, and
district and county pupil-services
administrators. Miss Mendoza is the deputy
superintendent of the department's curriculum
and instructional branch.
Her two-page memo
tells school employees of a new procedure that
private schools must follow to excuse their
students from public-school attendance.
Private schools are required to file
affidavits for that purpose between Oct. 1 and
Oct. 15 each year, and beginning this year,
they can file the paperwork via the Internet.
Nicole Winger, a
spokeswoman for the state education
department, said yesterday the memo hasn't
"This memo just
said that, 'Hey, this information is now
available on the Web site,' that we're just
making the process and paperwork more
accessible," Miss Winger said.
"There is nothing new in this memo. The
Department of Education has been consistent in
the application of the law over the years. All
parents are welcome to supplement their
children's education with home instruction,
but not substitute the education with
uncredentialed home instruction."
Defenders of the
movement say home schooling is legal under a
state statute that allows any parent to
operate a "private school," even if
the student body includes only one child.
California is one of 12 states where home
schooling is conducted under a private-school
"There is an
attempt to coerce these people to send their
children to public schools," said Gary
Kreep, founder and president of the U.S.
Justice Foundation in California. "Some
officials don't like home schoolers because
they are the last bastion of independent
thinkers, the last bastion of individuality.
If these children are not in public school,
teachers can't tell them that homosexuality is
normal and permissible, which is what's being
taught in California."
districts, including the San Diego County
Office of Education, have sent similar memos
to private-school administrators, adding that
children whose parents don't provide
appropriate documents "will be considered
apology and regrets for any inconvenience
regarding this matter," Stephen Fraire, a
coordinator with the county's pupil-services
department, wrote in the Aug. 2 memo.
"Unfortunately this situation is not in
Roy Hanson, director
of the California-based Private and Home
Educators of California, said he is telling
home-school parents to monitor the situation
without waging any kind of campaign.
"We're telling parents to be alert,"
Mr. Hanson said. "We're telling them not
to panic, not to be complacent and know what
the facts are."