City is far short of goal on teachers, group says

Study finds 30 percent are uncertified

only 4 schools 100% certified

April 24, 2003|By Tanika White | Tanika White,SUN STAFF

Although federal legislation requires that all of Baltimore's public school classrooms be staffed with certified teachers by 2005, a community group says the city system is far from achieving that goal.

Nearly 30 percent of teachers in Baltimore's schools are uncertified, according to a study preformed by Fordham University and released yesterday by the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, an activist group.

In addition, only four of the city's schools are completely staffed by certified teachers, and in nine schools, at least 50 percent of the teachers are not certified.

"This is a year-after-year problem," said Mitch Klein, ACORN's head organizer in Baltimore. "This isn't something that has just happened."

School officials said they could not comment because they had not seen the report.

The Fordham study found that school characteristics - such as large enrollments and poorly qualified or inexperienced teachers - contribute to student failure. And in too many Baltimore public schools, those traits are prevalent, the study found.

For example, the study said, nearly 40 percent of city school teachers have fewer than five years of experience. The study also found that schools with higher numbers of poor children also had the most uncertified teachers and inexperienced teachers.

The study illustrates how far the city schools have to go to be in compliance with portions of the federal No Child Left Behind Act, which says teachers must become "highly qualified" by the 2005-2006 school year. That means teachers must have state certification, have passed a licensing examination for that state, and hold at least a bachelor's degree.

School officials "really do have a responsibility to put in better professional development programs, recruitment and teacher retention programs," Klein said.

Sonja Merchant-Jones, a parent of two children in the city school system, has seen firsthand the problems that can occur when teachers are inexperienced, or underqualified. She said her son, who attended Lake Clifton High School, suffered under a biology teacher who was uncertified, she said.

"Even with a mentor assigned to her, she still had a tendency to not be mature enough to handle that high school class," said Merchant-Jones, who is a co-chairwoman of the local ACORN chapter. "Eventually, she failed the entire class."

Her son's experience is not an isolated one, Merchant-Jones said.

"When you're inexperienced and uncertified, things like this happen," she said.

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.