Today, Representatives Judy Chu (CA-27) and Rubén Hinojosa (TX-15) reintroduced the Equal Access to Quality Education Act (H.R. 1334) to ensure students in our most challenging schools are staffed by our very best teachers. At a time when school budgets face cuts from sequestration and the Republican budget proposal, this legislation creates a much-needed grant program to develop and strengthen high-quality pathways into the teaching profession, especially in high needs schools.
"A student's ability to reach their academic potential should not be determined by the school they attend," said Congresswoman Chu. "But today, we have the most inexperienced teachers being thrown into the highest needs schools. Every student, no matter their background, deserves a fully prepared and qualified teacher. And half of new teachers leave the profession within 5 years, often because they don't get the support they need to succeed. That's why this bill is so critical -- it will strengthen the expertise of teachers, allowing them to better serve all students. I am thrilled to be joined by Congressman Hinojosa in ensuring teachers are prepared to provide students with a pathway to a better life."
Congressman Hinojosa continued, "I am honored to join my friend and colleague Rep. Judy Chu in sponsoring the Equal Access to Quality Education Act that will, among many other things, provide teachers, especially teachers of color, with the training, mentorships, resources, and high quality professional development necessary to succeed in our nation's high-need schools. We must redouble our efforts to prepare all teachers with the tools and resources they need to teach in America's increasingly diverse classrooms. As a long time supporter of Hispanic-Serving Institutions, HBCUs and Minority Serving Institutions, I believe this legislation is a step in the right direction -- a win for diverse learners, teachers, and high-need schools."
Yesterday, a report was released by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) noting that bachelor's degrees in education were awarded predominantly to white candidates (82 percent) and more than 75 percent of preparation program graduates are female. These findings further demonstrate that teacher candidates do not reflect the diversity of students in Pre-K through 12 classrooms.
Additionally, 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.
The Equal Access to Quality Education Act creates public-private partnerships between high-need schools and schools of education to train, induct and retain teachers. This will allow K-12 schools with barriers to learning, such as poverty, to 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 them 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.