WASHINGTON — Public school teachers in the nation's wealthiest communities continue to be more qualified than those in the poorest despite a federal law designed to provide all children equal educational opportunity.
Preliminary data released by the Department of Education show that in 39 states, the chance of finding teachers who know their subjects are better in elementary schools where parents' incomes are highest. The data show that's also the case among middle and high schools in 43 states.
"Obviously we have a long way to go," said Rene Islas, who monitors teacher quality for the Department of Education. "Even if you have high numbers (of certified instructors) in the aggregate, there are pockets where students are being taught by teachers that are not highly qualified."
Under the No Child Left Behind law President Bush signed in 2002, states are supposed to have "highly qualified teachers" for all of their core academic courses, such as math, English and science, by the end of this school year. States that don't face a loss of federal funding.
As of the 2004-05 school year, nearly 91% of schools nationwide reported having highly qualified teachers for those courses, up from 86% the year before. Montana reported the highest compliance rate at 99.4%. Several, including Hawaii, California and South Carolina, were below 80%.
The numbers are improving at a slightly faster rate for schools in the poorest neighborhoods, where nearly 87% of classes had a qualified teacher last year compared to 93% for those in the most affluent areas. . . .
Of course, the problem extends beyond the problem of mere certifying that teachers are "highly qualified." Remember, this is the same U.S. ED that recommended ABCTE, the fraudulent (and still under GAO investigation) online testing miracle (before they even had a test) as an option to accredited teacher certification programs. Too, which teachers besides the ones who have a secret desire to be prison guards would choose to "teach" in one the urban test prep chain gang schools already labeled a failure by NCLB, where their professional competence is measured by how well they learn the lines to a script written by some poor hack at McGraw-Hill or Harcourt?
Anyone who still believes this this high-stakes testing madness if anything but a tool to continue the institionalized inequality that our "democratic" pride will not allow us to acknowledge has already stopped reading by now. If you're still reading, reading is not enough. It is time to act.