Court Rejects Alternative Teacher Certification

     (CN) – The 9th Circuit struck down a federal regulation allowing California teachers who aren’t fully certified by the state to be considered “highly qualified” if they participate in alternative teacher training programs.

     The 2-1 majority said the regulation, adopted under the No Child Left Behind Act, results in certified teachers landing jobs in wealthier districts, leaving a disproportionate number of interns in minority and low-income school districts.
     The parents of children who attend schools in low-income areas throughout California challenged the Department of Education’s practice of characterizing teachers who are not state-certified as highly qualified.
     A federal judge sided with the DOE, but a 2-1 panel in Stanford, Calif., reversed.
     The majority found that the regulation put the “highly qualified” label on teachers who are simply making “progress” toward becoming highly qualified.
     “The difference between having obtained something and merely making satisfactory progress toward that thing is patent,” Judge William Fletcher wrote for the majority.
     Dissenting Judge Richard Tallman pointed out that invalidating the regulation won’t help.
     “Striking down the federal regulation at issue will have no positive practical impact on Appellants’ alleged injury because that injury is caused by the actions of a third party not before us-the State of California,” Tallman wrote. “Because invalidating the challenged federal regulation will not redress Appellants’ alleged injury, I would hold they have no standing to challenge the regulation in the first place. This appeal should be dismissed for that reason.”
     According to the ruling, 41 percent of interns in California teach in the 25 percent of schools with the highest concentrations of minority students. By contrast, 2 percent of interns in California teach in the 10 percent of schools with the lowest concentration of minority students. Interns are similarly concentrated in schools serving low-income communities, with 62 percent of interns teaching in the poorest half of California’s schools.

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