To make a long story short, it ain't gonna happen.
As with so many things, districts and states are working feverishly to change the definition to meet the qualifications of the teachers they already have. And what more can you really expect them to do? Get more qualified teachers? With what money?
And while the Bush Administration attempts to make political hay with a meaningless snazzy sound bite (i.e., "a highly qualified teacher in every classroom), many truly highly qualified teachers wonder what this is all about:
To teachers, the process is often confusing, burdensome and ill-focused. The law aims to make sure a math teacher knows math. But it does not measure a teacher's devotion or ability to connect with students.
"It has nothing to do with me as a teacher," said Terrie Tudor, a drama teacher from Wheaton, Illinois. "It's a legal definition and a document. That's what we're trying to reach."
Norma De La Rosa, a reading teacher in El Paso, Texas, said it is fine to hold teachers accountable, but the judging often is unfair and subjective.
"Whose definition of highly qualified are we looking at? From what perspective?" she said. "From somebody who has never been in the classroom? Who has never gone through the teacher preparation courses? Who has never been through the ups and downs of education?"
Teachers' unions and state leaders say they believe states have tried to strike a balance, following the law while being fair to veteran instructors. "I think states are making valiant efforts," said Raymond Simon, deputy education secretary.
It's a little bizarre that the AP writer talks about teachers' union and state leaders and then quotes the deputy education secretary in the same graf. But the point is well made. States are trying to find a middle ground so that they don't drive the very highly qualified teachers the law is supposed to ensure out of the profession.