The print edition of this story included a headline that incorrectly suggested that the D.C. school system had reviewed the performance of the system's principals and found that 25 to 40 percent of them were not up to caliber. D.C. School Superintendent Clifford B. Janey provided those figures in response to a question about what percentage of the principals he thought were not performing adequately. This version has been corrected.
25% of City Teachers Short on Credentials, Janey Says
Tuesday, April 5, 2005
More than a quarter of D.C. school system teachers lack required certification, and 25 to 40 percent of its principals "are not the caliber they need to be," School Superintendent Clifford B. Janey said yesterday.
During a meeting with Washington Post reporters and editors, Janey said a school system review has found that more than 1,400 teachers are not properly credentialed. Of that total, about half have never obtained a license in the subject they are teaching, and the other half have licenses that have expired, Janey said, although he added that some of the cases might involve lost or misplaced paperwork.
Under the federal No Child Left Behind law, school systems can lose federal funds if they do not maintain a teacher force that is 100 percent certified by the end of the 2005-06 school year.
Discussing the caliber of D.C. school principals, Janey said that some are talented but that others are not performing adequately. In particular, he cited their failure to curb litigation by parents of special-needs students and referrals of such students to facilities outside the school system, both of which drive up special education costs. He said he expects that some principals will improve through "rigorous development" but that others will have be replaced through "an involuntary separation."
Janey also discussed his efforts to provide teachers with the training they will need to implement an academic program in classrooms throughout the 61,710-student system this fall, including new learning standards, textbooks and curriculums. He said the success of those efforts will be determined in part by contract negotiations that school officials are conducting with the Washington Teachers' Union.
Negotiations "are going slowly," Janey said. "I would have hoped to have seen it move more quickly."
Janey, while declining to comment on specific aspects of the negotiations, said issues include accountability, professional development and length of the school year.
Nathan A. Saunders, vice president of the union, declined to comment on the progress of the talks.
"Teachers deserve fair compensation while we attempt to right this system," Saunders said. "We are in a tough negotiating process and are attempting to respect the confidentiality of the process."
School officials also are negotiating a new contract with principals. Bernard C. Lucas Sr., president of the Council of School Officers, the principals union, said he was surprised by Janey's remarks on the quality of that workforce. Lucas said the central administration did not respond to the union's request last fall to offer more training for principals and has made no progress in contract talks.
"In each case, principals were selected through an approved process under the Board of Education rules," Lucas said. "What are the standards [Janey] is using to arrive at his conclusions?"
Janey said he wants to introduce a program soon that would reward successful principals with a credit card account allowing them to purchase supplies without having to go through central administration.
"I think there's a case for flexibility, but I think it should be earned," Janey said.
"Now it takes 30 to 40 days to get those supplies," he added. The new system would "allow them to get them in three to five days."
On another matter, Janey said it was at his suggestion that the school board canceled a special meeting scheduled for last night at which it was to discuss the possibility of asking Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) for more money for the school construction program.
The board last week approved Janey's $640.8 million proposal to rebuild seven high schools and provide new roofs, windows and heating systems to numerous other schools. His plan scaled back an ambitious program, initially approved in 2000, to rebuild dozens of schools over 20 years. Janey argued that the original plan was unrealistic because city officials were not providing the money.
Janey said he convinced board members that, instead of holding their own, they should meet with Williams and D.C. Council members. "I thought it would be best to bring that group back together to think through a collaborative approach," he said.