To the Editor:
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is proposing to eliminate nearly 30 data points from the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC), including data pertaining to teacher experience, school finance, and advanced coursework (“Clashing Views On Civil Rights Data Proposal,” Nov. 27, 2019). Should these data points disappear, so, too, does the transparency families and communities want and need to be better informed about the quality of schools they desire and support. Research has underscored the importance of teacher experience to student success. Without the CRDC data, we would not know that the percentage of teachers in their first year of teaching is twice as high in school districts with the highest concentrations of Black and Latino students compared to school districts with the lowest percentages of Black or Latino students.
Research also shows that school funding influences student achievement, yet the U.S. Department of Education is proposing to eliminate all data collection related to school finance. Without the CRDC data, we would not know that a salary gap of at least $5,000 exists in nearly one quarter of school districts between educators working in high schools serving the highest and lowest percentages of Black and Latino students. We measure what matters. This proposal from the Department of Education sends an unfortunate message regarding the interest and intention of the federal government to maintain its historic role of ensuring all students have access to a high-quality education. It would hide troubling disparities in access to experienced teachers, necessary resources, rigorous coursework, and other inputs necessary for all students to graduate from high school with the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in whatever comes next.
I urge Secretary DeVos to reconsider this proposal and restore these and other data elements proposed for elimination.
Deborah S. Delisle
Alliance for Excellent Education
A version of this article appeared in the January 22, 2020 edition of Education Week as Proposed Changes to CRDC Would Hide Troubling Disparities