By Lauren E. Williams, Special to the AFRO
A quarter of the District of Columbia Public School (DCPS) educators lack the proper certification required to teach the district’s students. This discovery was reported by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) last winter.
Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large), chairperson of the Committee on Education, issued a statement on the unlicensed teachers saying, “I am again frustrated with D.C. Public Schools over this most recent failure to properly follow established laws and regulations. These licensing requirements were put in place to ensure that our students are safe and that we have quality educators in our schools.”
While D.C.’s teachers all have college degrees and have undergone criminal background checks and drug tests, teachers do not need a license to apply for DCPS according to the school district’s website. Teachers only must be “eligible for a DC teaching license in subject area before working in DCPS.”
In an interview with The Washington Post, interim chancellor of D.C. Public Schools, Amanda Alexander said, “we do believe in the value of licensure. Licensure is just one of many components when we look at whether our teachers are meeting a high standard of excellence. Before they receive an offer, we do a background check. Our selection process is rigorous.”
The Every Student Succeeds Act, signed into law in 2015 by President Barack Obama, removed federal requirements on professional teaching certification. Since this time, jurisdiction has been given to the states.
Details on next steps Alexander, Grasso, and others are taking to ensure all students in the nation’s capital are taught by licensed teachers are forthcoming.