Thursday, September 8, 2005

No Teacher Left Behind…

A few weeks ago several hundred teachers in Miami-Dade County Public Schools were found to have gotten bogus teaching credentials through Eastern Oklahoma State University. These teachers will more than likely be fired, but where do you get replacements in the middle of the school year? Well, fate in the form of a hurricane, is lending a hand.

Hundreds of Gulf Coast teachers displaced by Hurricane Katrina could be offered temporary jobs and housing in Miami-Dade to fill existing vacancies and possibly replace hundreds of current teachers implicated in a credit-buying scandal, Superintendent Rudy Crew said Wednesday.

“Certainly we need the help,” Crew said.

At least 800 teachers, possibly far more, took continuing-education classes through a company now being investigated for selling transcripts without ever holding courses or assigning work. Crew promised to fire any who knowingly defrauded the district, saying he hoped to conclude investigations within three months.

To fill that huge void — which would impact thousands of students’ classes — Crew wants to recruit teachers left jobless and homeless by Hurricane Katrina and offer them two-year contracts.

The school year has been rattled across the Gulf Coast, and will likely be abandoned for at least a number of months in New Orleans. That city’s superintendent, Ora Watson, told the Times-Picayune last week that teachers should not wait to find new jobs.

“By working together, we can resolve many of the immediate needs of these families until they can return to their home states,” Crew wrote in a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings.

A number of South Florida developers have shown “great interest and enthusiasm” in providing free or low-cost housing that would be subsidized by donations or the teachers’ federal assistance grants, Crew said.

He wants to cluster the teachers in groups of at least 25 homes, creating communities where the families could support each other and receive assistance with both settling in Florida and recovering their Gulf Coast lives.

“I want them to be real villages,” said Rose Diamond, the district’s facilities chief.

The biggest hurdle will be working through the red tape of NCLB to make sure that these teachers can meet the qualifications of Florida’s educational standards. But I’m sure that since this is an administration that defers to local control for everything, the paths should be cleared easily. Right?