Sunday, June 11, 2006

No Child Left Behind Helps Public Education

(Please excuse the previous title. The report got me all revvved up!)

A just released report by the Education Trust states that by the end of high school, Latino and African-American 17-year-old students, on average, have been taught to the same level as White 13-year-old students.

Students in high-poverty and high minority schools also are shortchanged when it comes to getting teachers with a strong background in the subjects they are teaching.

Classes in high-poverty and high minority secondary schools are more likely
to be taught by out-of-field teacher--those without a major or minor in the subject they teach.

The report, "Teaching Inequality: How Poor and Minority Students Are Shortchanged on Teacher Quality," comes as states prepare their plans to ensure that low-income students and students of color receive their fair share of experienced, qualified teachers.

Those equity plans must be delivered to the U.S. Secretary of Education by July 7 -- and mark the first time that the federal government has demanded that states confront and fix the unfair distribution of teacher talent in their states.

The report also points out that school districts, not teacher unions, are responsible for balancing competing interests among stakeholders.
It would appear that pleasing powerful constituents has sometimes forced equity to take a back seat.

The simple truth is that public education cannot fulfill its mission if students growing up in
poverty, students of color and low-performing students continue to be disproportionately taught by
inexperienced, under-qualified teachers.

The report goes on to say that these manifestly unequal opportunities make a mockery of our commitment to equal opportunity
and undermine genuine social mobility. What we have is a caste system of public education that
metes out educational opportunity based on wealth and privilege, rather than on student or community needs.
Young people learn as much or more by watching what adults do as they learn from any classroom curriculum. Right now, they are learning that where you are born and how much money your parents make determine educational opportunity. Nowhere is this clearer -- or more destructive --than in access to effective teachers.
Education leaders and policymakers must confront this legacy more openly and honestly than ever before. If Americans truly value equality of opportunity, it is time to teach by example.

Senator Barack Obama said these students don't just score lower on tests, they are less prepared for college and the workplace as well.

What does all of this mean? (in my opinion)
If you are poor and dumb chances are you will remain poor and dumb
if you are poor and dumb you will get teachers that are poor and dumb
there is a problem with teacher retention and assignment when it comes to minority communities.

New teachers cannot stay new for long. At some point, experience is gained. Then what? Teachers who gain experience move to better situated schools?
I believe this report was mean as a wake-up call to those interested in improving public education for poor and minority students--which translates into a better society as those students grow up and take their places in the world.

No comments: