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Educator: Act is 'slap in the face'

April 10, 2003|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

Springfield Middle School Teacher Beth Brandenburg just gave birth to her first child, but it's the federal No Child Left Behind act that has been keeping her up at night.

The federal act, designed to close the achievement gap between schools and make sure all students, including disadvantaged groups, are academically proficient, demands teachers be considered "highly qualified" to teach their subjects - to the point where extra degrees, classes or tests are needed.

Brandenburg, 28, a seventh-grade math teacher, has an undergraduate degree in elementary education from Messiah College in Grantham, Pa. and will receive her master's degree in curriculum instruction from Frostburg State University's Hagerstown campus in May. Her certification states she's qualified to teach grades 1-8 in any subject.

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The seven-year teacher is one of about 350 teachers in the Washington County Public Schools system not considered "highly qualified" under the federal act.

"To me it's a slap in the face," said Brandenburg, who said she's never taught below the seventh grade since starting her teaching career in Baltimore City.

Brandenburg is the team leader of a group of math teachers who have different teaching backgrounds. She said her knowledge of how elementary school children build math concepts helps the team to identify students' staggered levels of math competency.

After taking about nine years to get her education and now starting a family, Brandenburg said taking a grueling exam or getting an extra degree to teach isn't at the top of her list.

"There's a lot of things I could do for the same amount of money," she said.

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