Press Release

Statement by Edward J. McElroy, Secretary-Treasurer of the American Federation of Teachers on New No Child Left Behind Guidelines for Highly Qualified Teachers

For Release: 

Monday, March 15, 2004


Celia Lose

The U.S. Department of Education today released new policies regarding the highly qualified teacher provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).


Washington, D.C.— The department has announced steps to help rural teachers seeking to demonstrate that they are highly qualified under NCLB. But for every teacher helped by these new policies, many more are left in NCLB’s tangle of illogical obstacles.

Rural teachers undoubtedly will welcome the much-needed time and flexibility the new provisions offer, but the department is wrong to overlook their urban and suburban colleagues. Secretary Paige says he listened to educators from across the country in formulating these changes, but this appears to be a case of selective hearing. The concerns of urban, middle school, and special education teachers have gone largely unheeded.

The department’s backtracking, coupled with incremental and often conflicting guidance make it difficult for states, districts, schools, and teachers to meet NCLB requirements. Provisions that could correct some of the law’s deficiencies already exist, such as the alternative evaluation method for teachers known as HOUSSE (High, Objective, Uniform State Standard of Evaluation). We call on the department to require states to develop this route, as specified in the law, for teachers to meet the highly qualified teacher provisions.

Every child deserves a high quality education. The department must do more to move us closer to that goal.

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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.