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Congressional Black Caucus Pushes for Teacher Equity

Remember those "teacher equity" provisions in No Child Left Behind? If your answer is no, you're probably not alone.

The law requires states to put plans into place to ensure that poor and minority students aren't disproportionally taught by out-of-field, unqualified, or inexperienced teachers. The states all submitted the required plans in 2006. But there's been precious little news about their implementation since then.

In the economic-stimulus legislation, Congress took another whack at the issue by requiring states receiving recovery dollars to comply with the teacher-equity provisions.

Now, nine lawmakers on the Congressional Black Caucus are taking EdSec Arne Duncan to task for what they say are oversights in his agency's implementation of that language.

In this letter, they outline two areas of "serious concern." First, ED's guidelines for Phase II of the state-stabilization funds only reference poor children, not poor and minority children. Second, the regulations only require states to distribute "highly qualified" teachers and don't mention the other two statutory indicators, teacher experience and field.

The letter sounds awfully similar to recommendations the Center for American Progress, Education Trust, Democrats for Education Reform, and the Education Equality Project made in their comments on state-stabilization and Race to the Top criteria. (Draw your own conclusions.)

Those groups also say that, for states to qualify for the discretionary RTTT funding, they should actually have evidence that they have made good on these provisions, not that they plan to do so.

"It would be a huge disappointment if the Obama administration continued the Bush administration's neglect of [these provisions]," Education Trust VP for Government Relations, Amy Wilkins, told me during a recent chat on teacher equity.

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