During the hearing, witnesses and members discussed ways outdated federal policies such as “Highly Qualified Teacher” requirements can hamper schools’ ability to hire the best teachers. Instead of focusing on a teacher’s ability to keep students motivated and progressing in the classroom, these prescriptive requirements place undue emphasis on credentials and tenure, thereby limiting the pool of educators who are able to teach in our nation’s neediest schools.
As today’s witness testimony confirmed, some of the most exceptional educators did not enter the classroom through traditional certification routes. In the videos below, students from New York’s Democracy Prep Charter High School describe some of the most effective teachers they’ve had:
Because they’re… passionate in what they’re doing, [they] motivat[e] kids like me to do better in school, because when you see somebody that loves something so much, it makes you want to like it, too. – Omar Taveres, junior at Democracy Prep Charter High School
[It’s] not that certified teachers aren’t capable of teaching well, but there are also alternatively certified teachers and uncertified teachers who can also teach well. An example would be our chemistry teacher… she is a rigorous teacher. She brings passion because she is so passionate about chemistry, and she wanted to study chemistry more in depth so she brought that into the classroom and it almost makes you feel like a chemist when she’s teaching you. – Jamie McCoy, senior at Democracy Prep Charter High School
If principals were able to have the autonomy to choose what type of teachers that they allow to teach in their building and teach their students, then students would be able to benefit from that as well… My Korean teacher… went to school to be a librarian. And instead, she ended up teaching me Korean for the last two years, and so now I know Korean from someone who otherwise, if she was not able to teach, she would have been a librarian and I would not know Korean. So she is given an opportunity, I’m given an opportunity and it’s just beneficial to everyone. – Michael Cummings Jr., senior at Democracy Prep Charter High School
House Education and the Workforce Committee Republicans are advancing legislation to eliminate the antiquated “Highly Qualified Teacher” requirements and provide states and school districts more flexibility to recruit, hire, compensate, and retain the most effective teachers. To learn more about the Student Success Act and the Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act, click here.