Oregon may be opening the door for Teach for America, the recruiting service that places non-licensed college graduates in the classrooms of mostly poor, minority children after only five weeks of “training” to serve in place of professional teachers. Maybe or maybe not. This bill is so ambiguous and poorly written that it’s difficult to figure out its purpose. One thing is certain. It calls for Oregonians to trust non-licensed employees to teach their children.
Here’s what the bill means in plain English, section by sub-section:
77th OREGON LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY–2013 Regular Session
House Bill 2878
Sponsored by Representative PARRISH
Not surprisingly, Julie Parrish, District 37 — Tualitin and West Linn — is supported by Stand for Children, an astroturf organization that has been successful in passing this type of legislation nationwide. Oregon is the only state where SFC operates that does not allow non-licensed teachers in schools. Parrish also pushed for legislation favoring charter schools and tying teacher evaluations to standardized test results.
Parrish on Twitter:
Thank you Oregonian for calling out the thuggish behavior of the OEA. Love my kids’ teachers, their union, not… http://t.co/guPJWc6o2h 02:10:04 PM March 14, 2013
Parrish is definitely anti-union.
The following summary is not prepared by the sponsors of the measure and is not a part of the body thereof subject to consideration by the Legislative Assembly. It is an editor’s brief statement of the essential features of the measure as introduced.
Allows person to teach certain courses in schools without being licensed by or registered with Teacher Standards and Practices Commission if certain requirements are met. Specifies restrictions to employment.
Non-licensed people can teach if they meet certain requirements.
A BILL FOR AN ACT
Relating to teacher qualifications.
Be It Enacted by the People of the State of Oregon:
SECTION 1. (1) Notwithstanding ORS 338.135 and 342.173, a person employed by a school district or a public charter school may teach without being licensed by or registered with the
Teacher Standards and Practices Commission (TSPC) if:
Notwithstanding ORS 338.135 and 342.173 — Notwithstanding means forget about these laws. Not usually a good thing. What laws should we ignore? ORS 338.135 defines among other things employees licensure and registration requirements and collective bargaining rights. ORS 342.173 states the effect of employing unlicensed teacher or administrator by certain districts including penalties and fines for hiring non-licensed teachers. A person employed by a school district or a public charter school may teach without being licensed by or registered with the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission if:
(a) The person is teaching only courses for which the State Board of Education has not adopted academic content standards as required by ORS 329.045;
ORS 329.045 is a revision of common curriculum goals, performance indicators, diploma requirements, essential learning skills and academic content standards. This includes rigorous academic content standards in mathematics, science, English, history, geography, economics, civics, physical education, health, the arts and second languages. This list seems to be fairly inclusive. What courses would the non-licensed teacher be able to teach? Is there a shortage of certified teachers in some courses? What are they? Why not name them in the bill?
I contacted TSPC and asked this question. The response:
I cannot tell you exactly which courses would be allowed to be taught by a non-licensed teacher; but they would be courses for which the Department has not adopted content standards. I can tell you that it will certainly cause confusion unless regulations were clear following passage of the bill.
I highly recommend that you contact the legislative representatives for teachers at the Oregon Education Association regarding this bill.
I’m currently waiting for a response from OEA.
(b) The school district or public charter school follows the instructor appraisal committee procedures adopted by the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission; and
Follows the instructor appraisal committee procedures? Does this mean that the non-certified teacher will be evaluated like every other teacher? This is vague.
(c) The person meets the other training or experience requirements established by the State Board of Education and by the district school board of the school district or the public charter school governing body.
Other training or experience requirements? What are the training and experience requirement? Why would we pass a law to allow non-certified people to teach with out even know what the requirements are?
(2) A person who is employed to teach as provided by this section:
(a) Is not eligible to become a member of the Public Employees Retirement System as a result of the employment; and
No PERS for non-licensed employees posing as teachers. Will the employee have any type of retirement plan?
(b) May not become a member of a collective bargaining unit that represents licensed or registered teachers.
Non-licensed employees posing as teachers can not join a union.
(3) No more than 40 percent of the total classroom teaching time at a school may be provided by persons who are teaching as provided by this section.
Whoa! Allows person to teach certain courses in schools without being licensed is a far cry from 40 percent of classroom teaching time provided by non-licensed employees. Does this mean that nearly half of any school faculty may be non-licensed employees posing as teachers.
There are red flags all over this bill. Even if it isn’t a pretext to welcome TFA into Oregon, it is a frightening precedent in regard to retirement restrictions, collective bargaining rights, and faculty composition. This bill is slated for a hearing March 25th. Let your representatives hear from you.