Re "State, U.S. Feud Over Teachers," Aug. 6: For anyone to think that California is going to be able to staff all its schools with "highly qualified" teachers by the government deadline is pure fantasy. At a time when all school districts are feeling the pinch of the economic downturn, when our own L.A. Unified School District has been considering health benefit cuts for its employees, when class sizes are increasing in all secondary grades, when there is talk of pay cuts (not pay raises) and when state prison guards are better paid and compensated than teachers, could anyone explain to me exactly where you expect to find all these "highly qualified" teachers?
I do believe it's time for our politicians to take one big reality check.
California has no reason to dilute the definition of "highly qualified" teachers. There are more than enough college juniors and seniors in the pipeline who could earn their graduate certification for the 2006-07 school year.
All it takes is for starting teacher salaries to be raised to a level comparable to what a person with essentially a graduate degree plus on-the-job training could expect in business.
In addition, there are plenty of people in business who would earn their graduate teaching credential and enter teaching if only they didn't have to give up a large percentage of their already-earned Social Security benefits upon becoming a teacher. It's shameful that our state leaders would even suggest watering down teacher qualifications more than they already have.
Children are the ultimate victims.
As a credentialed teacher serving inner-city children on the battlefront on a daily basis, I read this article with great interest. School districts pay large salaries and create cushy nonclassroom jobs for many "highly experienced" teachers (we call these promotions). Why not take these veterans and put them back in the classroom for half a year each? (We call this job sharing.)
They could be placed at the lowest-ranking schools, where their expertise would be of service to low-income children and to other less experienced teachers. But wait--then these teachers would actually have to teach.
How are low-performing schools in California supposed to hire credentialed teachers if there aren't any? The idea of hiring only "highly qualified" teachers sounds great, but what is a school principal or district supposed to do if no qualified teachers apply? Drag them in off the streets?
Rancho Santa Margarita