Top educators in Tennessee are asking for more time to make sure the men and women teaching children are the best they can be. Schools are asking for more time to meet federal requirements, which is good news for schools in Memphis and Shelby County.
Latoya Stephens just graduated from the University of Memphis, and starts teaching 7th grade science next year. Stephens is considered "highly qualified," which means she had to show expertise in the subject she's teaching, either through extra course work or by passing a standardized test.
The No Child Left behind Act requires every single teacher in a core subject to be considered highly qualified by the start of the 2006-2007 school year. Pat Pratt-Cook, Director of Human Resources at Memphis City Schools, said the Tennessee Board of Education is asking for a one-year extension.
"An extra year would help us tremendously," she said.
In Memphis City Schools, almost 90% of teachers have their "highly qualified" documentation. Pratt-Cook said the higher bar makes it even tougher to recruit and keep teachers. MCS helps pay for exams and study materials, and provides money for college courses to teachers who have to go back to school.