When it comes to filling teaching vacancies, the Oakland school district relies heavily on “interns,” college graduates who are still working to complete their certification. About 40 percent of new OUSD hires in recent years fall into this category; they come through “alternate route” programs such as Teach for America and Oakland Teaching Fellows.
Andy Kwok, the teacher we’ve been following at EXCEL High School, is one of them. He majored in biology, the subject he teaches, but jumped straight into the classroom after a short summer preparation program. He took education classes at night.
Kwok and other intern teachers are considered “highly qualified” by the U.S. Department of Education. But Public Advocates, a civil rights law firm, challenged that definition in a lawsuit last year. They argued it violates the spirit of the No Child Left Behind law, and that it lets school systems get away with hiring less experienced teachers.
But today, a federal court in San Francisco upheld the status quo in this ruling. Public Advocates says they’ll likely appeal.
Do you think teachers without a full credential should be considered “highly qualified?” Do you think this classification system, in general, helps parents gauge whether their kid’s teacher is any good?
image from Xochiquetzal-Sil:)’s site at flickr.com/creativecommons