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State relaxes teacher rules, pencil makers sad again

By Matt Wood in News on Jan 20, 2006 4:09PM

2006_01_scantron.jpgJust as the makers of Black Warriors and Scantron sheets began their celebrations, the state of Illinois built some loopholes into the teacher qualification requirements of their No Child Left Behind compliance plans. On Thursday, the state Board of Education adopted a new set of rules with relaxed qualification requirements for veteran teachers, building in a system of credits that experienced teachers can accumulate in lieu of taking certification exams or going back to school. Other states have built similar credit systems for experienced teachers.

Chicagoist can see both sides of the coin here. As Julene pointed out Wednesday, many professions, like finance, nursing, insurance sales, real estate, and medicine, require continuing education. And as any corporate drone can drone can tell you, even if you don't have to carry a license to do your job, you're still expected to complete a certain amount of training each year if you want to keep a job or advance in your field. Teaching should be no different. But most licensing requirements or training plans have some teeth; we're a bit wary of the state's new system of credits for experienced teachers.

The rules don't include many strict definitions of what's counts and what doesn't. First of all, it only takes one year to become an "experienced" teacher. Teachers can earn credits for attending seminars but there is no timeframe for when it has to take place as long as they can justify its worth, meaning one could score points for watching a Stephen Covey video 10 years ago. Vague rules like this invite "creative" ways of earning training credits, like finding a way to count that trip to Tijuana as a foreign culture seminar. If this is the case, requiring continuing education just becomes a distracting exercise in bureaucracy instead of an ultimatum to do better.

Any ideas? Chicagoist is genuinely torn over this. We generally despise all these unfunded No Child Left Behind rules, but we also don't want to let teachers off the hook just because we have a soft spot for them.