President Obama: Low Income Students Deserve Best Teachers!

Dear Commons Community,

President Obama yeserday took a step to ensure that schools serving low-income areas get their fair share of the nation’s best teachers.

New guidelines tell states how to equitably distribute teaching talent between affluent and low-income schools, expanding the Obama administration’s Excellent Educators for All initiative. The program, announced in July, called on states to develop plans that would give low-income students the same access to excellent teachers as wealthier schools. Monday’s guidance gives more detail on what these plans should look like and allows states until June 2015 to finish — two additional months. As reported in The Huffington Post:

“Data compiled by the U.S. Department of Education shows that teachers in wealthy districts are more likely to have received a master’s degree or higher than in districts where a majority of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. Teachers in high-minority school districts also are less likely to be certified in the subjects they teach. The question of how to separate good teachers from bad teachers has long plagued policymakers and riled teachers’ unions. The administration avoided this controversy with the new guidance. It tells states to define “excellent educators” as they see fit, although it encourages them to use teacher evaluation effectiveness ratings. Many of these ratings include measures that are based at least in part on students’ standardized test scores.

The government sent each state an educator equity profile, outlining the distribution of experienced teachers. Education Department officials said on a call with reporters that these profiles would not be made public until December. The new guidance allows states to identify root causes of inequity in teacher distribution, then develop plans for remedies. In that way, each state may develop measures best for local conditions.”

The President is providing essentially moral support. Teacher placement is a complex issue given the problems with defining “best teachers”, collective bargaining contracts, and the inequity of school district funding.


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