Many of our minority students attend schools that lack the resources and staff to provide them with equal educational opportunities. Schools 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. According to the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights, schools with mostly African-American students are twice as likely to have teachers with only one or two years of experience as compared to predominately-white schools in the very same district. Moreover, California schools with the highest enrollment of minority students and the lowest academic achievement scores have teachers with the least years of experience. It is unconscionable for Congress to continue to let these inequities exist when one of the most influential factors on student achievement is having a great teacher.
That is why I introduced the Equal Access to Education Act. This bill creates a solution for high-need schools to recruit, induct and retain the best teachers to close the achievement gap for all students. It seeks to invest in programs that meet the demands of high-need schools by:
* Increasing the number of teachers from minority communities who have the training, mentorship and resources to succeed;
* Decreasing the high-turnover rates for educators in high-need schools;
* Creating residency programs that induct teachers into the first years of teaching;
* Providing educators with the knowledge base and skills to meet the needs of diverse learners including English language learners and students with disabilities; and
* Ensuring that students of all races and income levels get access to teachers who are fully prepared to meet their needs.