As a reminder that Teach for America, Inc. recruits should not be teaching our children, it is illegal under the law to have unqualified individuals hired as “teachers” in public schools.

From Public Advocates:

A federal appeals panel yesterday re-affirmed its September 2010 ruling that the U.S. Department of Education unlawfully diluted the standard of teacher owed every student in the country under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) when it issued a 2002 regulation classifying teachers in training as “highly qualified.”

The court proceeded to dismiss the Renee v. Duncan case, however, on the grounds that Congress passed a measure in December 2010 temporarily qualifying the country’s approximately 100,000 teachers-in-training in alternate route programs as “highly qualified” through the 2012-13 school year. The court found that there was no relief presently owed to plaintiffs but held the issue was not moot and that, absent further Congressional action, alternate route trainees must once again be deemed not “highly qualified” after June of next year.

The decision is an acknowledgment that the Department wrongly allowed teachers in training to be concentrated in poor and minority schools across the country for the eight years between the Act’s passage and the temporary measure in 2010. It also makes clear that next year, absent additional Congressional action, these less-than-fully-prepared teachers must again be fairly spread across classrooms and that parents must be notified when their children receive instruction from these teachers.

“We think it was premature for the court to dismiss the case since the controlling law will render the Department’s regulation unlawful again in just a little over a year,” said plaintiffs’ lead counsel John Affeldt of civil rights law firm and advocacy organization Public Advocates Inc.. “Nonetheless, it’s very important to have the courts acknowledge that the Department acted unlawfully in treating these underprepared teachers as if they were fully prepared. We look forward to enforcing this precedent next year and to using it to inform the policy discussions in Congress going forward.”

Whether and how NCLB and its teacher quality provisions will be modified anytime soon is an open question. The Act was due to be revised by Congress in 2007 but the reauthorization process has been stalled. In the meantime, outrage over the December 2010 temporary measure — which was slipped into a midnight budget resolution with no public debate —led to formation of the nation’s largest teacher quality coalition, the Coalition for Teaching Quality (CTQ). Made up of 86 national and local civil rights, grassroots, educator and disability organizations, The CTQ is actively pursuing policies in the reauthorization to help ensure every child has a fully-prepared and effective teacher.