Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Equity isn't all about money

Equity in schools is not just about money. Yes, it has a lot to do with money, but there's also the question of teacher quality: Is it fair that suburban schools typically hire away the best teachers from urban and rural schools leaving those schools with inexperienced teachers?

But if the poorer schools had more money they could keep those teacher, right? Wrong. Teachers leave urban and rural schools for many reasons and money is rarely at the very top of the list. Working conditions prove time and time again to be the most important factor. The bottom line is equity is impossible if the wealthier districts get the lion's share of experienced, effective teachers.

This problem must be addressed. It's absolutely vital to the enterprise of improving public education and ensuring equity.

So who's working on the problem? The good people at the Southeast Center for Teaching Quality (SECTQ). They wrote a letter to the President on the occasion of his inaugural to lay out a program for ensuring teacher quality in the poorest schools. It takes about 10 minutes to read but has decades' worth of good ideas.

Most impressive about SECTQ is that they rely heavily on teachers to craft their policy proposals. It sounds obvious but policymakers rarely do it. The network of teachers they founded has an absolutely fantastic website. I've added it to the blogroll at right; I highly recommend you check it out, but only when you've got some time. There's a lot there.

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