The AFT recently requested more time from the Department of Ed for paraprofessionals to become highly qualified. It's a perfectly sensible request given the fact that teachers were granted an extension--not that the issue of paraprofessionals has gotten the attention it merits amidst the hubbub over regular teachers.
Speaking of teachers: unfortunately, the "let's get it right" agenda from the AFT also includes nixing the original plan to mostly sunset the HOUSSE provisions. The related blog entry states: "Teachers move from state to state, and take time off for parenting or other reasons. Teachers who can adapt their teaching areas and take on different assignments should continue to be provided a way to demonstrate their subject matter competency. In establishing the HOUSSE option, Congress recognized the need for flexibility for veteran teachers. In the spirit of good faith, ED should continue to allow that option."
The first sentence is clearly true. The second sentence is also clearly true. Where we part ways is at the implication that states' HOUSSE plans actually tend to represent adequate ways for veteran teachers to demonstrate their content knowledge. The final sentence pleads for the Feds to be flexible in "the spirit of good faith"--but good faith is exactly what's been lacking in far too many states' HOUSSE plans.
Permanent flexibility doesn't have to mean a permanent loophole--if the Feds don't tear down the HOUSSE, they should give it a stronger foundation by requiring teachers to complete a minor in content coursework. You can read our own letter to the DOE here.