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*** UPDATED x1 *** Teachers unions attack Tribune article

Thursday, Aug 7, 2014

* The same Tribune writers who penned that goofy piece about alleged legislative “interference” with the teacher licensing process (which uncovered no evidence of any unqualified teachers) are at it again

Illinois school districts have employed hundreds of educators to teach everything from science to special education even though they lacked proper credentials in those subjects, a Tribune investigation has found.

Their primary evidence

As part of an overhaul of teacher licensing in Illinois, the state has begun to close loopholes that allow educators to teach in areas in which they’re not credentialed.

Eliminated last year, one long-standing loophole let districts hire someone without the appropriate credentials in a particular subject and let them work for up to three years. Districts had to show that they tried but couldn’t find a candidate who met the state standards. And the teacher had to pursue getting fully credentialed in the subject, though records show some never did.

Educators approved under the loophole may still teach until 2016. About 200 requests for this provision have been submitted in recent years, according to the state. Several districts asserted they couldn’t find an applicant even in teaching fields with a large surplus such as language arts, the Tribune found.

Notice, they report that 200 requests have been submitted “in recent years.” They don’t say how long that time period is. Ten years? Five years?

Also notice that the “loophole” in question is being closed.

* And when they asked an expert about the dangers of teachers instructing classes that they aren’t credentialed to teach, the expert said, in part…

“What if it were your kid?”

* Part of the problem here is the Illinois State Board of Education’s cumbersome credentialing process. It takes forever just to read the agency’s 21-page explanation of the process. So, while districts wait on the ISBE, they occasionally ask for exemptions.

* But is this really an issue at all? Check out the Illinois Federation of Teachers’ response to the Tribune article

In Chicago, only 75% of teachers at a charter school must be licensed, and the school has three years to hit that bar. Where is the Tribune’s outrage?

The word “charter” is nowhere in the Trib’s story.

And neither is any mention of this point made by the IFT

The Tribune has yet to write a takedown of the “Teach for America” program that has been around since 1990 and places recent college grads in some of the neediest schools to teach for two years without a license.


The Tribune has been silent on the disconnect between state and national requirements that mean teachers who are “highly qualified” under the federal No Child Left Behind may not have their Illinois licenses. Perhaps following a few teachers through the red tape could show the public how dysfunctional the system that teachers must navigate to serve their students is

* The Illinois Education Association also jumped into the fray

It’s unfortunate that the Chicago Tribune, which employs many first rate reporters covering news and politics, has an editorial board that is committed to advancing the agenda of those who wish to privatize public education. There is supposed to be a wall between editorial and news but, at the Tribune, there are holes in that wall.

The paper’s editorial philosophy is regularly promoted in overblown front page stories that unfairly and inaccurately attack public education and education employees. Here’s the latest example.

The strategy is simple: run as many front page stories as possible talking down public schools, implying classrooms are typically staffed by under qualified and overcompensated teachers. It’s a lie, of course, but the theory is that, if public support of our public schools can be reduced, the goals of the privateers can be achieved.

* The IEA is also asking its members to sign an IFT petition.

*** UPDATE *** Thanks to commenter “Soccermom” for finding this summary of state requirements to teach in private and parochial schools

* Teacher certification is not required for teachers at recognized nonpublic schools unless the school governance chooses to require it as a condition of employment.

* The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) encourages all teachers at nonpublic schools to have at least a baccalaureate degree in the subject they are teaching. If the nonpublic teacher does not have his or her baccalaureate degree, then ISBE encourages the teacher to develop a timeline on how he or she plans to finish his or her education. If an individual with less than a baccalaureate degree is teaching, ISBE will note it in a report. This policy does not vary depending on the school‘s recognition status.

In other words, there basically are no requirements. Alert the Tribune!!!

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Diogenes in DuPage - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 10:59 am:

    The public floggings of all teachers will continue until teacher morale and public confidence improves.

  2. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 11:00 am:

    It is bad reporting.

  3. - CircularFiringSquad - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 11:06 am:

    It is bad & curious reporting….obviously some Tribbie editor had one of his/her darlings harmed and turned these two loose on ISBE data base…remember one of the Tribbies was BrickheadJoe’s off payroll p.r. person (funded by the Daily Herald) so facts are not vital to the story

  4. - OneMan - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 11:08 am:

    Speaking as a parent…

    Is the teacher good at teaching?

    Are they free of felony priors?

    After that I can really care less about what they are certified to teach.

    Back when I was at NIU we had 2 computer science profs who had PHds in phys ed and used to be Phys Ed profs who they had get their MS degrees in CS to teach CS.

    One of them could have taught anything, one of the best pure instructors I ever had.

    Me thinks if you can teach, you can teach and passing some exam or whatever is immaterial.

    Also the argument that the state licensing system is confusing and painful is very easy to believe.

  5. - Obamas Puppy - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 11:10 am:

    No doubt the Trib will respond with some union bashing and Rauner talking points, how they look themselves in the mirror must be a challenge or maybe they have someone do that for them.

  6. - RNUG - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 11:14 am:

    “The strategy is simple: run as many front page stories as possible talking down public schools, implying classrooms are typically staffed by under qualified and overcompensated teachers. It’s a lie, of course, but the theory is that, if public support of our public schools can be reduced, the goals of the privateers can be achieved.”

    Same program as attacking State employees / retirees … slightly different goal.

  7. - Anonymous - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 11:15 am:

    At this rate of attack, the only ones who will go into the profession will be people with serious deficiencies……….it has become a true witch hunt and time for those in the profession to get mad and get even.

  8. - Happy Hank - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 11:15 am:

    I never want to dog on reporters, in this day it is a really tough job. But Rado is a sad excuse for a Tribune reporter. She gets a ton of time to complete these “stories” that amount to nothing more than an attempt to savage real people who don’t have the ability to respond.

  9. - Soccermom - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 11:16 am:

    Gosh, I hope that no Tribune reporters have kids in parochial schools. I mean, wait until they see this:

    Teacher Certification
     Teacher certification is not required for teachers at recognized nonpublic schools
    unless the school governance chooses to require it as a condition of employment.
     The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) encourages all teachers at nonpublic
    schools to have at least a baccalaureate degree in the subject they are teaching. If the
    nonpublic teacher does not have his or her baccalaureate degree, then ISBE
    encourages the teacher to develop a timeline on how he or she plans to finish his or
    her education. If an individual with less than a baccalaureate degree is teaching,
    ISBE will note it in a report. This policy does not vary depending on the school‘s
    recognition status.

  10. - BigDoggie - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 11:22 am:

    All I know is that the credentialing system is really screwy. Have very good friends with a daughter that just graduated from Ball State with a teaching degree that had phenomenal grades and is the type of person you dream that your kid will grow up similar to. She basically has no shot at a public school teaching job in Illinois because of how onerous it is to get over the hurdles that have been put up in recent years to anyone that gets their degree in another state. I don’t understand all of the fine details of the process or the exact issues, but the fact that she is in this situation at all tells me that the system has some very serious problems.

  11. - Bobbysox - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 11:39 am:

    The Trib should be required to get a license to practice its First Amendment rights.

  12. - Grandson of Man - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 11:42 am:

    Thanks Soccermom for the info.

    Some people think that teaching is glorified babysitting. These are the people who are more likely to support the attacks on teachers.

    I was taught in the CPS system. The teachers were almost all fantastic. Many of us students let the teachers down, rather than vice versa.

  13. - Retired - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 11:43 am:

    I used to be a teacher certification specialist when I was working. The system has become nearly impossible for anyone who has not completed a state approved program in an Illinois college/university to obtain an Illinois teaching license. Illinois used to have virtual reciprocity with every other state but not any more. It is also nearly impossible to hire an administrator who completed an out of state administrative program. Illinois just doesn’t recognize those programs. Why anyone would want to teach in Illinois when they are constantly bombarded with negative stories about teachers is beyond my comprehension.

  14. - Jorge - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 11:45 am:

    Yellow journalism is still alive and well.

  15. - CircularFiringSquad - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 11:50 am:

    “All I know is that the credentialing system is really screwy. Have very good friends with a daughter that just graduated from Ball State with a teaching degree that had phenomenal grades and is the type of person you dream that your kid will grow up similar to…”
    Mr/Ms BigDoggie — you forget the current process is the product of one thoese “reforms” pushed by the small government wing nuts

  16. - CD - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 11:54 am:

    Next in a Tribune exclusive. “Teacher caught driving 36 MPH in a 35 zone!” “Teachers spotted jaywalking!” Go get them Rado!

  17. - wordslinger - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 12:03 pm:

    In the print edition, they bannered this incoherent mess and put the Walgreens story below the fold.

    That’s some messed-up news judgement.

  18. - Anonymous - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 12:05 pm:

    In addition, CD, no teachers should have children of their own. You know what they have to do to get those.

  19. - Obamas Puppy - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 12:07 pm:

    I can just hear the potential Trib hypocrisy now - “OH but these charter and private school teachers have years of experience that are invaluable to kids in these schools” - except when a public school teacher has experience and gets egaads should I say it? TENURE you should be able to fire them at will because of whatever reason budget, failing the football coaches kid, whatever the reason.

  20. - Anonymiss - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 12:27 pm:

    @Wordslinger - I saw that too. Don’t forget the giant photo of a licensed teacher above the fold, adjacent to the subheader of “What if it were your kid?” And we wonder why it’s hard to retain good teachers…

  21. - wordslinger - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 12:28 pm:

    Geez, these Tribbies really don’t think things through.

    As others have pointed out, by their own logic, the Tribbies should be bannering stories about charter and parochial school teachers who “lack proper credentials.”

    Somehow, I doubt they’re going to slam Catholic schools.

    How about the “proper credentials” of home schoolers? Want to take on that crew? Going to get awfully loud out in front of the Tower if you do.

  22. - Wensicia - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 12:42 pm:

    Another thing about charter school teachers, how many dropped out or were dismissed with poor evaluations during the probationary period from public schools? I know of quite a few that went to charter schools afterward. Do you want teachers not good enough to earn tenure teaching your kids?

  23. - Anonymous - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 12:48 pm:

    It is open season on teachers. Specifically public school teachers. It is a fact that 50% of new teachers leave the profession by the 5th year. I’d expect to see that figure increase. Why would anyone need to put up with this? Teach your own darlings. I question the credentials of those doing the attack reporting in our newspapers. How’d they ever get their “credentials”? There are some bitterly unhappy, angry people out there apparently. Wouldn’t it be great if every employees salary and credentials could be posted publicly. What a field day that’d be!

  24. - A guy... - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 12:54 pm:

    No one is going to win this one. The decision is who has more to lose.

  25. - olddog - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 2:07 pm:

    Nothing really new here. The Trib has been printing this kind of swill about public school teachers as long as I’ve been following education issues, and it’s part of an orchestrated campaign for corporate school reform and privatization that dates back to “A Nation at Risk” in 1983. The Colorado League of Women Voters has a pretty unbiased overview that brings it up to the present at …

    But my hat’s off to IEA, when they say “if public support of our public schools can be reduced, the goals of the privateers can be achieved.” Privateers were pirates, if I remember my history correctly, and it’s a perfect word for the charter school lobby and their shills on the Chicago Tribune.

  26. - lake county democrat - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 2:19 pm:

    The Trib article is a diversion from the real problems with Illinois teacher licensing, including the unlimited chances to take a licensing exam that is at a high school competency level. In fact, the academic background requirements for K-9 teachers are too high and discourage a lot of qualified people from entering the profession.

  27. - Buzzie - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 3:43 pm:

    Does Bruce Dold have a journalism degree?

  28. - Arthur Andersen - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 4:15 pm:

    Another case of Rado reaching a conclusion and then elaborately manipulating data to support it. Kudos to the unions for firing back.

  29. - A guy... - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 4:50 pm:

    Artie A, While I know the union doesn’t control the timing of all of this, they’re firing back “into the wind”, not with it at their backs. No one’s gonna win this one.

  30. - wordslinger - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 5:06 pm:

    –No one’s gonna win this one.–

    Win what? It’s just another pointless Tribbie “scandal” story.

    Back in the day, if you turned in something like this it would be spiked and another local story would run on Page One. Nowadays, with so fewer resources, if you invest the time in it, you have to run it or run AP on the front page.

    As someone who’s had two kids go K-12 through public school and one still in high school, I can’t say I’ve noticed a great deal of antipathy toward teachers from parents. Quite the contrary.

    They get grief from the Usual Suspects in politics and media, but face it, those guys don’t like hardly anybody.

    Emanuel thought he had a winning political strategy provoking a CTU strike, anticipating that parents and the general public would be on his side. He was profoundly wrong and got beat like a rented mule in the court of public opinion.

  31. - wordslinger - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 5:56 pm:

    You really have to wonder if we’re witnessing the endgame for the Tribune. Where do they go from here, now that they’ve been cut off from the broadcast group?

    They’ve been on the block forever and can’t find a buyer at any price. They have little cash, a ton of debt, and steadily sliding revenues.

    Tribune Publishing — Trib, LA Times, Baltimore Sun — has $50 million in cash. The NYT has $972 million.

    They launched on the NYSE this week by assuring potential investors that more staff layoffs are coming to cut costs.

    The market responded with a yawn. They launched Monday at $25.50 a share, they closed today at $20,95.

  32. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 6:12 pm:

    Wordslinger hit the nail on the head.

    Journalists need to be given not just time to investigate, but the prerogative to spike a non-story.

    Back to the premise of the story: nothing infuriated rank and file teachers more than Arne Duncan’s lack of any formal training whatsoever in education.

    A superintendent’s tenure depends much less on his credentials or his performance and much more on his political skills when it comes to the school board.

    Now THAT would be a great story: school board qualifications.

  33. - Arthur Andersen - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 6:33 pm:

    True that, YDD. If the Tribbies wanted to report out a good story, they should go out to Hinsdale, where a few right-wing yahoos have taken over the school board. Check out the intrepid Fred Klonsky’s blog for details.

  34. - Anonymous - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 6:52 pm:

    The Hinsdale situation is frightening. While the school board loves to boast about their outstanding student achievement, it would absolutely kill them to credit anyone but the children with that. They want PhD teachers, with 20 years experience but want them for $20K and reserve the right to call them overpriced babysitters. GO figure. I’d seriously like to know, in what other profession……?

  35. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 7:51 pm:

    Arthur Andersen:

    When school districts negotiate contracts via news release, they want a strike.

    Which is dumb.

  36. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 8:06 pm:

    And when a school board threatens police action against teachers for *liking* a story on Facebook that is unflattering, wasting time at a board meeting to rail about it, I have three questions:

    1) why isn’t the Tribune writing about it?
    2) am I the only one who finds it disturbing that the school board is patrolling teachers’ personal Facebook pages?
    3) How is this guy any different from the mayor of Peoria?

  37. - DuPage - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 8:12 pm:

    Too bad about Hinsdale. They used to be good, with top notch teachers. It looks like that is about to end.

  38. - Butch - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 9:13 pm:

    I quit my subscription for the Tribune last summer. When ALEC had their semi annual meeting for state politicians and national media reported, there was no report in the Tribune. As far as I am concerned, the Tribune gets its orders from ALEC.

    Check out and read the real play book developed to privatize education. Corporations looking for new ways to make money. Remember the sole purpose of a corporation is to make money for their investors.

    When you have major media outlets framing their talking points a stronger push back is necessary.

  39. - Anonymous - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 9:24 pm:

    Hinsdale….. anyone who can leave, will and anyone attracted to the dysfunctional board/community…….surely, no one with highly respected credentials would be attracted to that community.

  40. - Matthew Beverly - Friday, Aug 8, 14 @ 11:40 am:

    The Chicago Tribune is pathetic. As a public school teacher with 12 years in the classroom, a parent of two public school students, and a taxpayer who believes in supporting with tax dollars a robust public education system (just like our Founding Fathers did!), I read with disgust this Tribune story attacking teachers–yet again. It’s the same old billionaire-funded, right-wing partisan parlor game: scapegoat anyone other than the actual perpetrators of the destruction of America’s Middle Class (billionaire do-gooders and their political lapdogs, Wall Street, education “reformers” who’ve never educated anyone, etc.)all in the name of more profit (private/charter schools). Chicago Tribune…why not a story on the undisputed impact of poverty on learning and go after the austerity hawks, and leave our teachers–and our students–alone!

  41. - Estes Kefauver - Friday, Aug 8, 14 @ 3:22 pm:

    I don’t think you all should be so hard on the Trib. They have lots of experience backing the wrong side. Remember now … they used to own the CUBS.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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