Has the US Department of Education fired its first shot? Seems so, as Department officials traveled to North Dakota last week and laid down the law, literally. Reportedly they told state ed officials that their criteria for anointing teachers with highly qualified teacher status aren't up to snuff--or at least not up to NCLB requirements. The state had decided that its current process for certifying elementary teachers (which in North Dakota means earning a degree in elementary ed) could also serve double duty for highly qualified teacher status. Not so fast, said the Feds, directing the state to also address these teachers' subject matter knowledge.
Several state officials are feeling a bit bruised by the reprimand, claiming that the department has been mum up until now, despite being long aware, they say, of North Dakota's plans. They are thinking about investigating the legal implications of a challenge to the US ED ruling. At the same time they'll also look into improving the elementary standards which is smart thinking.
We called it before; this will be US ED's chosen path for enforcing NCLB teacher quality provisions. Look for other states to be made examples of what not to do.