As 2004 began, long-dreamed-of efforts to open K-12 teaching to knowledgeable people who did not go through the certification mill controlled by schools of education and allied agencies were beginning to bear fruit. Two states, Pennsylvania and Idaho, already have accepted the new American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence (ABCTE) Passport to Teaching as an alternative way for teachers to earn full certification based primarily on being able to show they know their subjects. About a dozen other states are reviewing their codes and regulations with an eye to approving ABCTE, which uses computer simulations, among other techniques, to evaluate candidates.
The education establishment and its apologists are not happy about this emergence of competition in ed-biz. People for the American Way charged that the U.S. Department of Education’s approval of a five-year $35 million grant for ABCTE was part of a right-wing plot to funnel aid to supporters of school vouchers and privatization. And last spring a lobbyist for the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education publicly released items that were to be used in ABCTE’s first field test, a breach of confidentiality that scuttled the test. At the request of House Education Committee Chairman John Boehner, the Education Department’s Inspector General is investigating whether this was a deliberate act of sabotage.
Despite this rear-guard resistance, prospects are good for continued reform of teacher preparation and certification, encouraged by bipartisan support in Washington. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and the Higher Education Act (last reauthorized in 1998 and up for another reauthorization this year) share a commitment to the support of alternative teacher certification. Although the presidential politics of 2004 may challenge the NCLB consensus, it seems likely that reform of teacher hiring will continue to enjoy broad support on Capitol Hill. Details follow.
Find Archived Articles: