In CTC Attack on TFA, Kids Are Collateral Damage

Blogs, Letters & Testimonials

April 18, 2013

By Mac LeBuhn, DFER Assistant Policy Analyst

The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) decides today whether to pass new regulations that could bar many novice teachers, including any new teachers from the Teach For America program, from classrooms containing English language learners. Given California’s student demographics, this could very well impact thousands of classrooms in the state.

Teach For America, the program that introduced the founders of the KIPP and Rocketship charter networks to education, has a long history of supporting California’s students—yet the CTC may block it from reaching the students that would benefit the most. Such poor decisions are nothing new for the CTC.

On April 27, 2006, the Legislative Analyst’s Office of California released a report on the CTC that was as blistering as the subject matter was boring. “During the last several years,” the report said, “concerns have been raised with almost every aspect of CTC’s operations – including its ability to perform its core functions effectively and efficiently … The existing credentialing process is overly complex, inefficient and riddled with redundancies.”

Today’s discussion by the CTC over these new regulations shows that the organization is in no hurry to shed this characterization. At issue is a proposed document known as an English learner authorization, or ELA. Depending on how onerous the CTC decides to make the ELA requirements, teachers using an intern credential may need to pass a test or take additional coursework before working with English language learners. This regulatory change could bar future Teach For America members from most classrooms or at least put up a significant roadblock.

The CTC, which is pushing this proposal with the support of the California Federation of Teachers, is yet to make a strong case that this change would improve the quality of instruction for English language learners. In fact, the research is uncontroverted on whether CTC credentials improve student achievement: they don’t.