Kati Haycock, director of The Education Trust, on the Supreme Court’s decision on affirmative action
(Washington, D.C.) – “Given today’s split decision from the Supreme Court on affirmative action programs at the University of Michigan, it’s more important than ever that we focus our energies on what we can do now to ensure that all students have access to a high-quality education not just some students. We know from data that children who have the least to begin with get less of everything they need in school, too. If we’re serious about providing equal access to all of America’s students, then we must do everything in our power to provide equal educational opportunities from day one.
“African American, Latino and low-income students are far less likely to have highly qualified teachers and be enrolled in a challenging curriculum. Nationally, secondary classes in majority non-white schools are over 40% more likely to be taught by an out-of-field teacher than those in mostly-white schools. Secondary classes in high-poverty schools are 77% more likely to be taught by an out-of-field teacher than classes in low-poverty schools.
“Similarly, while 62% of White and Asian students are placed in Algebra II, only 52% of African American students and 45% of Latino students are so placed. According to data from the U.S. Department of Education, placement in a rigorous high school curriculum is the single greatest indicator of college success. Clearly, the playing field is far from equal by the time students graduate from high school.
“We know from research that providing highly qualified teachers and a challenging curriculum to all students helps close the achievement gap between minority students and white students, and between low-income students and their more privileged peers. If were serious about equality, then we must get serious about providing it at all stages of a students education.
“We must ensure that all students – especially minority students and low-income students – have access to highly-qualified teachers and a challenging curriculum. This is something that we can and must do now.”