Addressing the “Teacher Gap”

Pauline Vu:

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.

5 thoughts on “Addressing the “Teacher Gap””

  1. The Education Trust report also stated: “reducing class loads for teachers in high-need schools…as well as (sic) frequent sabaticals for teachers to recharge their batteries, is recommended!
    These are good ideas but how many voters would agree with this?

  2. Hi Marjorie:
    Thanks for your words.
    I think the voters can support new approaches as long as they are part of a larger, long term (5/10/20 year) strategy that addresses a world class curriculum, teacher and student climate and a clear understanding of where the money is going.
    Of course, I’m an optimist!
    A former Denver resident – when families were flocking to the burbs, I was astonished when I read this:
    Change is hard, but certainly possible. It also requires strong leaders.

  3. I used to teach in Mesa Public Schools in Arizona a long time ago (1987ish) and the district had a merit pay policy for teachers-if you developed a portfolio addressing certain “standards” and could demonstrate how you went “above and beyond” the normal teaching requirements, you could get quite a chunk (sorry, I forget how much now, but I think I got an extra $5,000 per year) of money. The downside was that you had to spend quite a bit of time writing and organizing the portfolio, adding to it and then resubmitting it each year-not sure if I added the hours I spent on the portfolio how much I really “made” extra. Not sure if they still do the merit pay-but I can find out, my cousin still teaches there.

  4. it would be interesting to see a breakdown of teacher’s levels of experience for each school in the MMSD and then compared that to each school’s poverty level.

  5. David:
    The information on each school included in the annual budget (look at the budget for 2005-06 on the web site, it is under School Profiles) includes information about average number of years of experience for teachers at each school as well the percent who have advanced degrees.

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