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Public Statements

Sportsmen's Act of 2012--Motion to Proceed

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, I rise today to discuss an important provision included in the continuing resolution. As parents sent their children off to school this fall, many were uncertain whether their child would be taught by teachers in training who are enrolled in alternative route programs. That is why I am pleased this legislation requires the Department of Education to provide Congress, and the parents of Washington State and the country, information on how frequently this is occurring. The data and report should be made public and available to parents and other interested parties. As a former teacher, a Parent Teacher Association member, a school board president, and most important a mom who actively participated in my two children's journey through the education system, I firmly believe that every parent deserves to know the qualifications of their child's teacher.

Specifically, the provision requires the Secretary of Education to report to Congress no later than December 31, 2013, on the extent to which students with disabilities, English learners, students in rural areas, and students from low-income families are being taught by alternative route teachers in training who are deemed highly qualified according to title 34 section 200.56(a)(2)(ii) of the Code of Federal Regulations. This regulation allows individuals who have not yet obtained regular State teacher certification but are participating in alternative route programs to be labeled ``highly qualified.'' The provision included in this continuing resolution will require the Department of Education to gather and report the extent to which our most vulnerable students and those with the highest needs are being taught by teachers with the least amount of preparation. While we know many students are being taught by these teachers in training, we do not know if these teachers are equitably distributed among high need schools, in which States they are concentrated, or which student subgroups they are teaching. The report will provide this information and will be vital for developing policies to ensure every child in America receives a high-quality education.

The report should include data on the professional qualifications of teachers. In particular the number of teachers who have not met State qualification and licensing criteria for the grade levels and subjects areas in which the teacher provides instruction. Also, the report should include the number teaching under emergency or other provisional status through which State qualification or licensing criteria have been waived, the baccalaureate degree major of the teacher and any other graduate certification or degree held by the teacher, and the field of discipline of the teacher's certification or degree. States and local education agencies are already required to collect this data according to the Parents' Right to Know provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.

I look forward to receiving this important report. Throughout my political career, from the school board to the Senate, I have been committed to doing everything I can to ensure every student has an opportunity to learn, and to succeed, to the best of his or her ability. This report will help us craft policy that supports this goal. Parents deserve to know who is teaching their child and it is our responsibility to ensure this information is provided.


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