Friday, June 23, 2006

The real education gap

There's always a lot of talk about gaps in education, but one gap isn't talked about enough: the gap in teacher quality between poor and rich schools.

States have two weeks to comply with the latest requirement of the federal No Child Left Behind Act and come up with a solution to what U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings calls teaching's “dirty little secret”:

The disparity in teacher quality between poor, largely minority schools and their more affluent, white counterparts.


A recent Education Trust report revealed large discrepancies in teacher qualifications in Illinois, Ohio and Wisconsin between poor and rich schools, and between mostly white schools and mostly minority ones.

In Ohio’s poorest elementary schools, for example, one of every eight teachers is not considered highly qualified, but in the state’s richest schools, that number falls to one in 67 teachers. In Wisconsin, schools with the highest minority student populations have more than twice as many novice teachers as schools with the lowest numbers of minority students.

Anyone who has read this blog regularly -- or did before my most recent sabbatical -- knows how much I deplore NCLB's high stakes testing. But -- and I have to pause here to think about how long it's been since there's been anything nice to say about anything even remotely related to the Bush Administration -- this emphasis on the gap in teacher quality is so unbelievably overdue and important. I'm ecstatic that NLCB is shining a light on this insidious problem.

Who'da thunk that the Bushies would be the cause for what could be an excellent discussion of race and class in our (apologies to John Edwards) two Americas.
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