Today, Rep. Judy Chu, D-CA, introduced a bill to ensure students in our most challenging schools are taught by the best teachers. The Equal Access to Education Act creates public-private partnerships between high-need schools and schools of education to train, induct and retain teachers.
"Many of our minority students attend schools that lack the resources and staff to provide them with equal educational opportunities," Chu said. "School should be a place for these students to find a pathway to a better life, but in some cases, schools are just a reminder of the barriers to their success."
Recent data from the Office of Civil Rights in the Department of Education found that schools serving mostly African-American students are twice as likely to have teachers with one or two years of experience than schools within the same district that serve mostly White students. In California, schools with the highest minority students and lowest academic achievement scores also have teachers with the least years of experience.
"Schools without resources are new teacher training grounds that quickly overwhelm our nation's brightest professionals. New teachers with energy and hope are being thrown in to schools together with no guidance, no mentorship and no collaboration. The result is nearly fifty percent of our new teachers leave the profession within five years. The status quo fails our students and our teachers."
The Equal Access to Education Act allows schools with barriers to learning, such as poverty, partner with schools of education to create a high-quality teacher pipeline. Teachers in this program would be required to attend a residency program that inducts teachers into the first years of teaching. Schools would be required to provide continuous professional development by establishing retention initiatives that provide mentorship and guidance for new teachers to succeed. It also invests in expanding and strengthening programs that prepare special education teachers and bilingual teachers to meet the needs of diverse classrooms.
"One of the most influential factors on student achievement is having a great teacher. By providing schools with a sustainable way to invest in improving education, we can finally fulfill the promise of education for every student."