Ed Trust Statement on the U.S. Department of Education’s Teacher Equity Announcement
WASHINGTON (Sept. 10, 2015) — The Education Trust issued the following statement on teacher equity plans approved by the U.S. Department of Education.
“Few issues in education are more important than ensuring equitable access to high-quality teachers. Yet in too many schools and communities, low-income students and students of color are disproportionately assigned to inexperienced, out of field, and otherwise underperforming teachers –— contributing mightily to unequal educational outcomes for these students. We are encouraged to see the U.S. Department of Education prompting attention to this issue. But attention is just the first step. Now comes the real work of moving from attention to action.
“The Department has laid out a sensible framework for state plans. And in the coming months, The Education Trust will review those plans to identify promising trends and common pitfalls. We will also work alongside local and state-level advocates, urging states to take concrete action to fulfill their plan commitments, because even the best plan does no good if it sits unimplemented.
“To be clear, improving equitable access to strong teachers will mean doing more than continuing the strategies to raise the overall quality of the teaching profession — as many states have focused on in recent years — that occupy the lion’s share of space in these plans.
“Real change will mean taking deliberate, targeted action on behalf of vulnerable students, including steps to upend the current status hierarchy in teaching, which awards the most prestige to those who teach our most advantaged children, rather than to those who are most effective and who teach in the most challenging settings. If we have learned anything from our past experiences on this issue, it is that rising tides decidedly don’t raise all boats.
“Over the years, many states have decided that getting the strongest teachers to the students who most need them is simply too hard. However, a handful of state and local leaders have stepped up and taken ownership of this issue. Among the strategies these leaders have embraced: creating incentives and working conditions for strong teachers and leaders to go to — and stay in — high-need schools; targeting preparation and professional learning to the needs of educators in high-need schools; and ensuring policies, from accountability systems to hiring and dismissal, are aligned with the goal of equitable access. We hope their work will serve as a catalyst for others.
“We are optimistic that today’s announcement marks a first step toward achieving a more equitable system for all students. It’s far past time to finally get serious and do something to make sure all children have access to strong teachers.”
The Education Trust is a nonprofit advocacy organization that promotes high academic achievement for all students at all levels, pre-kindergarten through college. Its goal is to close the gaps in opportunity and achievement that consign far too many young people — especially those from low-income families or who are black, Latino, or American Indian — to lives on the margins of the American mainstream.