The Baltimore sun is reporting that a bunch of its para educators are being transferred in the middle of the year in order to comply with NCLB requirements. NCLB requires all Title I schools to be staffed by paras who are highly qualified. “Highly qualified” in this case means two years of college or passing a test. The school system in Baltimore is the only one in the state and possibly the only one in the country going through this sort of upheaval, according to an AFT representative identified as an expert on teaching assistants.
What happened is that not all of the Title I school paras have met the highly qualified requirement. So the solution the school system has implemented is to take the highly qualified paras from non-Title I schools and transfer them in to the Title I schools. Right now, as in in the middle of the school year. Imagine being a parent in one of those non-Title I schools and now your child is going to lose their HQ para which will be replaced by one who is not HQ. And sure enough, parents are pissed. Paras are pissed.
System officials, parents and paras in the system opine that they should simply wait and finish the school year instead of disrupting the whole system. The thing is, this provision was supposed to take effect in January 2006 and the feds granted an extension until June 2006 for just this reason. Baltimore is already a year overdue! We ALL knew about this since 2002. In fact, the paras knew about their HQ requirements long before special education teachers. This is gross incompetence on the part of the Baltimore school system. It perfectly illustrates the reason why law makers felt the need to write such a law and implement sanctions in the first place! If it weren’t for incompetent idiots like these clowns in Baltimore, accountability, standards, deadlines and sanctions would not be the issue they are today.
In Magnolia County, we were a little on the slow side, or it seemed like it by not getting information to the paras until 2004. The school system made the decision that all paras in the entire school district had to meet HQ requirements by June 2006. Any who did not would not be re-hired and they were not hiring any who did not meet the HQ requirement as soon as the law went into effect. This eliminated the whole shell game Baltimore is now forced to play between those schools that are Title I and those that are not.
They should have gotten all of their paras highly qualified and now the schools that did their part in Baltimore are having to take up the slack for those that didn’t in the Baltimore system as the savvy principals non-Title I schools lose their HQ paras to the bumbling Title I schools who failed to meet the requirements. Thinking about it, a body can see that a pattern of failure does exist in some schools. I’m extraordinarily angry because every school district in the nation has to pony up and pay for the outright stupidity of a few districts who can not get their act together.
If school systems had blanket parties for screw-up school systems, the Baltimore one would be a prime candidate. Every administrator, parent, student and teacher who has had to suffer under NCLB’s most burdensome provisions should get a crack at walking by the clowns in the Baltimore system and delivering a punch or kick in the place of their choice. There’s just no excuse for this sort of incompetence.