Red tape reprise

Remember those halcyon days of the late 1990s? Back when Americans enjoyed peace and prosperity, our political system could frivolously obsess about the meaning of "is," and charter schools were freed from bureaucratic red tape? Then along came the No Child Left Behind Act and its mandate that all teachers--including those at charter schools--be "highly qualified." Enter the International Community (charter) School in Atlanta, where a host of international teachers have found their jobs at risk because of this very provision. Even though these teachers, from such varied places as Rwanda and Bangladesh, are doing a bang-up job helping immigrant children who themselves just arrived in the U.S., the school's authorizer, DeKalb County, is now pushing for all staff to receive full teaching credentials in order to comply with the federal law. That's easier said than done. One teacher, herself a refugee, is struggling to get the local college to recognize her Burmese bachelor's degree. About her beloved charter school, the teacher says, "It's like my home. That's why I don't want to hear 'quit,' 'fire.'" DeKalb County: leave this school alone.

"'No Child' leaving charter school behind?," by Mary Wiltenburg, Christian Science Monitor, October 23, 2008