To the Editor:
The June 3, 2015, Teacher Beat blog post “Ed. Dept.: Poorest Districts Have More Trainee Teachers” brings focus to an issue we’ve known about for years, but have had little success fixing—the inequitable distribution of teachers.
Low-income students do get shortchanged when it comes to their public schools. Many of the least-prepared educators are hired to teach in the schools with the lowest levels of student achievement. It’s these schools that also struggle to find instructors who can teach subjects like algebra and biology. Once such schools do find teachers, they have a hard time getting those teachers to stay.
Improving equity necessitates a systemic focus on developing stronger channels for directing well-prepared teachers into low-income, high-need schools and subject areas. The solution begins with high-quality preservice preparation, but it hardly ends there. This is a human-resource-management challenge that requires strategic deployment of teacher talent, governed first by students’ needs.
This summer, the leaders of schools of education from across the country came together in the nation’s capital for the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education’s “Washington Week” to engage in dialogue on improving teacher preparation and the policies that influence it.
In addition to meeting with congressional leaders, participants discussed strategies for closing the student-achievement gap in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics; increasing the number of minority STEM teachers; and forging the kinds of partnerships necessary to address persistent inequities between schools.
Achieving equitable teacher distribution won’t be an easy fix. But it’s a moral imperative that teacher-educators are committed to pursuing collaboration with the rest of the education profession.
President and Chief Executive Officer
American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education
A version of this article appeared in the August 05, 2015 edition of Education Week as Mind the Gap: Deploy Teacher Talent to High-Need Schools