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.
The challenge of ensuring that schools have equal numbers of good teachers will involve huge changes in the way schools recruit, train, prepare and compensate teachers, said Scott Emerick, a policy expert for the Center for Teacher Quality, a research organization based in Chapel Hill, N.C. “There’s no silver-bullet solution to do this on the cheap,” he said.
A recent Education Trust report [PDF] 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.