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Highly Qualified Teachers - Previous Revision

August 29, 2012

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, D.C. 20502

RE:     Ending Section 163 of Continuing Resolution (H.R. 3082), which Negatively Changed the Definition of a "Highly Qualified" Teacher under the No Child Left Behind Act

Dear President Obama:

The Coalition for Teaching Quality remains deeply concerned that the Administration and Congress have yet to fix a serious flaw in federal policy that prevents all students from having equal access to fully-prepared and effective teachers.  That flaw is Section 163, a provision inserted in the December 2010 Continuing Resolution (H.R. 3082) making it lawful for teachers who are still in training to be labeled as “highly qualified” under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).  We urge you to close this harmful policy gap by requesting that Congress not extend this provision during the upcoming September 30th Continuing Resolution vote, thereby allowing the amendment to sunset by June 30, 2013.

This harmful provision, which should not be extended, allows teachers who have not yet completed their training to be labeled “highly qualified teachers” through June 30, 2013.  Allowing this temporary provision to expire on June 30, 2013, would be an important positive step forward in providing high need students and families across the country equal access to fully-prepared and high quality teachers.  This is critical as research shows that teachers who are still in training  are less effective than those who have attained certification.  These same under-prepared teachers have also been found to be disproportionately concentrated in schools and classrooms filled with our most vulnerable students -- the very students who need and deserve the most highly-qualified teachers.  

Section 163 -- the only amendment to NCLB in the decade long history of the law -- was inserted into the Continuing Resolution without notice to concerned public stakeholders and without public debate.  Notwithstanding the urgent need to fix NCLB and reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the best place to craft these critical education policies is the reauthorization process with input from all stakeholders, not a stealthily executed temporary budget bill.  To aid with the reauthorization process, The Coalition for Teaching Quality, comprised of 89 local, state, and national organizations representing civil rights, disability, parent, student, community, and education groups, has developed a new, comprehensive framework for teaching quality which addresses the inequitable distribution of fully-prepared and effective teachers.  

The nation’s growth and the strength of our democracy are dependent on the educational success of all of our students.  Fully-prepared and effective teachers are a prerequisite for assuring that success.  Unfortunately, many of our students, especially those with the highest needs, have little-to-no access to such teachers.  The Coalition for Teaching Quality remains committed to working in partnership with Congress and the Administration to ensure all students have equal access to excellent, genuinely highly-qualified teachers.  

Sincerely,

Members of the Coalition for Teaching Quality (list attached)

cc:             Members, U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce
                  Members, U.S. House Appropriations Committee on Labor, Health and Human
                          Services, Education & Related Agencies
                  Members, U.S. House Committee on Appropriations
                  Members, U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions
                  Members, U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee on Labor, Health and Human
                          Services and Education
                   Members, U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations
                   U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan
 
Coalition for Teaching Quality (89 Organizations)

National Organizations  

Alliance for Multilingual Multicultural Education
American Council on Education
American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education
American Association of State Colleges and Universities
American Council for School Social Work
Association of University Centers on Disabilities
ASPIRA Association
Autistic Self Advocacy Network
Autism National Committee
Center for Teaching Quality
Citizens for Effective Schools
Communities for Excellent Public Schools
Council for Exceptional Children
Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates
Disability Policy Collaboration, A Partnership of The Arc and UCP
Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund Inc
Easter Seals
Education Law Center
FairTest, The National Center for Fair & Open Testing
First Focus Campaign for Children
Gamaliel Foundation  
Helen Keller National Center  
Higher Education Consortium for Special Education
Latino Elected and Appointed Officials National Task Force on Education
Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
League of United Latin American Citizens
Learning Disabilities Association of America
Movement Strategy Center
NAACP
NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
National Alliance of Black School Educators
National Association of Elementary School Principals
National Association of Secondary School Principals
National Association of State Directors of Special Education
National Center for Learning Disabilities
National Consortium on Deaf-Blindness
National Council for Educating Black Children
National Council of Teachers of English
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics
National Disability Rights Network
National Down Syndrome Congress
National Down Syndrome Society
National Education Association
National Indian Education Association
National Latino Education Research & Policy Project
National Opportunity to Learn Campaign Action Fund
National PTA
National Urban League
Parents Across America
Partnership for 21st Century Skills
Public Advocates Inc.
Public Education Network
Rural School and Community Trust
School Social Work Association of America
SEDL
South East Asia Resource Action Center  
TASH - Equity, Opportunity, and Inclusion for People with Disabilities
Teacher Education Division of the Council for  Exceptional Children
TESOL International Association
United Church of Christ Justice & Witness Ministries
 

State and Local Organizations

Action Now – Illinois
Action Now – North Carolina
ACTION United
Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE)
Arkansas Community Organizations
Bay Area Parent Leadership Action Network
Brighton Park Neighborhood Council – Chicago
California Association for Bilingual Education
Californians for Justice
Californians Together
California Latino School Boards Association
Campaign for Quality Education
Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning Coalition for Educational Justice
Delawareans for Social and Economic Justice
Educate Our State
Grow Your Own Illinois                                                                                                                                                 
Inner City Struggle
Justice Matters
Legal Advocates for Children and Youth
Parent-U-Turn
Parents for Unity
RYSE Center
San Francisco Teacher Residency
Texas Association of Chicanos in Higher Education
Youth On Board – Somerville, MA
Youth Together

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