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Federal Mandate May Cause Problems For N.C. Teachers

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The federal government's

No Child Left Behind

sets tough standards to make sure every teacher is highly qualified in the field they teach. For a state that needs to hire 100,000 new teachers over the next decade, some believe the mandate could make that number grow.

"I think it would be fair to say the consensus is this will be cumbersome. This will be [a lot of] work. It is not something they really look forward to doing," said Kathy Sullivan, of the state Department of Public Instruction.

The state school board is wrestling with a plan to keep experienced teachers who do not meet the new federal guidelines. Those teachers will either have to take a test or fill out a form and go through an interview to prove they are "highly qualified."

"I believe there will be a few teachers that will feel that frustration, but on many occasions, it will be a lack of information or understanding about what's really involved in the process," teacher Carmen Wilson said.

Incoming teachers will also have to meet new standards. Every year, North Carolina hires about 10,000 new teachers. But under the new federal guidelines, about 6,000 of those teachers are not highly qualified, which means the state's teacher shortage could get even worse.

"This may really bring the teaching shortage to a crisis," Sullivan said.

To be highly qualified, new teachers must have a license and a degree in the specific area they teach.

"What we're hoping is that we can make this as painless as possible, but it's been imposed upon us by the federal government. The only option we would have is to say we're not going to take your money, and that's not an option," Sullivan said.

About one-half of the schools in North Carolina are already mandated to comply with the federal standards. In those schools if your child is taught by a teacher who is not "highly qualified" for four weeks or more, a letter must go home to parents alerting them to the situation.

School administrators estimate the changes could affect 30,000 of the state's 85,000 teachers.


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