WASHINGTON (AP) -- Under federal pressure, most states are close to getting teachers who are rated highly qualified in front of every math, history, language and other core class by the end of the school year. Or so they say.
Thirty-three states claim 90 percent to 99 percent of their main classes have teachers who are highly qualified. That means, based on the No Child Left Behind law, that those teachers have a bachelor's degree, a state license and proven competency in every subject they teach.
And here's the stick:
States must prove they have:
-- Set a fair definition of "highly qualified." Although the federal law sets the parameters, states have huge leeway when it comes to qualifying their veteran teachers.
-- Provided parents with a clear picture of how many classes are taught by qualified teachers. This is supposed to happen in state, district and school report cards.
-- Given complete and accurate data about their teacher corps to the Education Department, including the disparities between poor and wealthier schools.
-- Ensured that poor and minority children do not have a higher percentage of inexperienced or unqualified teachers than any other youngsters.
By May 15, states will find out where they stand and whether they will lose federal aid, which is the government's only real enforcement tool.
Weren't we hearing, just a couple years ago, about teacher shortages, especially in math and science? What happened? I haven't heard about a shortage in quite some time. Did these teachers mysteriously appear from the ether?
Apparently they did. And they appeared highly qualified, too.
What am I getting at here? Oh, I don't know. Maybe the teacher shortage was a myth. Or maybe it's not as bad as some people want the public to believe. Or maybe that's only trotted out when it's good for the teachers unions to do so.