Missouri Teachers Fail to Measure Up with Feds
Now, the federal government is reminding public school teachers how it feels to fail.
As a part of the No Child Left Behind Act, the government graded states on how well they provide qualified teachers. An independent panel focused on three qualifications: teachers should have at least a bachelor's degree in their subject, should demonstrate knowledge of their subject, and should be certified by the state. Missouri received an F, along with Hawaii, Utah and Wisconsin. Most states met at least part of the criteria and nine states passed with flying colors.
"We think there's about 16,500 teachers in public schools out of roughly 67,000 who don't currently meet the federal definition," said Jim Morris of Missouri's Departmen of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Missouri teachers who received their state certification before 1988 don't meet the new federal standard. However, DESE said it's working to fix the problem.
"We have no disagreement with the federal government whatsoever about the principle here, about the intent of this law," Morris added, "and that is that we want to have the best teacher possible available for the child. How we document that is a matter of a mild dispute, and we are working that out."
More paperwork will solve the problem, although some teachers don't understand why DESE didn't do its homework in the first place.
"It's not a good thing," said Berry, "but we have to do what we have to do to show that we are qualified teachers."
DESE is working with districts across the state to come up with a plan on how to improve Missouri's grade. The state expects to send that plan to Washington, D.C. by Nov. 1.