Compromise Protects “Intern” Teachers – For Now
Samantha Oltman | March 11, 2013
The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) voted Thursday to revamp training requirements for roughly 2,200 alternative or “intern” certificated teachers who teach English language learners — but did not disqualify these teachers immediately as some had feared.
This decision came as a relief to hundreds of teachers in LA, including the 300 Teach for America (TFA) teachers currently in LAUSD classrooms.
“We’re cautiously optimistic about the rule-making process moving forward in a way that allows TFA to thrive and serve kids, and to improve the overall the profession of teaching,” said Teach for America’s Vice President, Shannon Blankenship.
But they’re not out of the woods yet. The CTC’s final recommendations on alternative certifications could have a big impact on Los Angeles schools.
The effectiveness and legality of alternative certification teachers have been debated in the courts and the US Congress on and off since 2002, when the Bush Administration determined that they were considered “highly qualified.” (For a history of the debate, read this recent history by LA School Report editor Alexander Russo.)
The majority of Teach for America’s teachers receive their credentials through intern credentialing programs, so the CTC’s decision could have blocked many TFA teachers from teaching.
Concerns about the decision the CTC might make were heightened because its head, Stanford University education professor Linda Darling-Hammond, is one of the most consistent critics of alternative certification programs like TFA.
In the weeks leading up to the Thursday meeting, LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy signed onto a letter opposing restrictions on the use of intern teachers. The California Federation of teachers and some civil rights groups signed a letter urging the CTC to end the practice. A Thursday LA Times editorial came out against eliminating the alternative credential option.
One of those who testified against allowing alternative certification candidates to teach ELLs was a TFA alumna Rigel Massaro (pictured, courtesy EdSource Today).