In 2001, the federal government passed the education legislation, “No Child Left Behind.” The ‘blueprint’ of this bipartisan legislation, as President George W. Bush puts it, is to increase accountability for student performance, focusing on what works.
“Federal dollars will be spent on effective, research based programs and practices. Funds will be targeted to improve schools and enhance teacher quality,” according to the official White House website. The intent was to reduce bureaucracy, increase flexibility and empower parents. “Additional flexibility will be provided to states and school districts, and flexible funding will be increased at the local level,” the White House reported.
One important facet of this legislation has been the requirement that teachers be ‘highly qualified’ to teach. According to the No Child Left Behind website, a highly qualified teacher must have a bachelor’s degree, complete state licensing and certification, and demonstrate that they sufficiently know every subject that they teach. This prompted many high school teachers across the nation to take the classes and tests they needed to become ‘highly qualified’ for subjects they were teaching. Especially in rural high schools, it is much more economical for a teacher to be able to teach more than one subject. For instance, if the school has a small language program, it is more efficient that a teacher hired to teach French could also teach Algebra. If teachers were able to teach only their college major, a French teacher would be impractical to employ at a school for only a few classes a day, and the French program, then, would most likely be ended. For this reason, rural high school teachers have been granted an extra three years to become highly qualified in “the additional subjects they teach,” according to the No Child Left Behind website.
[whitehouse] The ‘highly qualified teacher’ requirement has worried some aspiring teachers here at Michigan State University, alarmed by rumors that No Child Left Behind meant that as they graduated and became certified to teach secondary school, they would be allowed only to teach their major subject. According to “Highly Qualified Teachers Questions & Answers,” dated November 8, 2004, “Teachers with a minor in a core academic subject,” such as math, science or English, “may teach that subject, if they have the appropriate endorsement on their Michigan Teacher Certificate and, if they have passed the appropriate Michigan Test for Teacher Certification subject area exam or have met one of Michigan’s High Objective Uniform State Standards of Evaluation (HOUSSE) requirements which defines a highly qualified teacher.”
Future teachers still studying at Michigan State University, then, need not fear a limited subject area to teach. Their minors could still be used to get certified in a second subject.

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