LDF commends the U.S. Senate HELP Committee for advancing reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Passed on the heels of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, ESEA is the largest federal education funding bill. Since its expiration in 2007, Congress has yet to agree on a bill to reauthorize ESEA. LDF encourages a truly bipartisan and thoughtful reauthorization process. As the organization that litigated Brown v. Board of Education, LDF continues to advocate for equal educational opportunity for all of America’s public school students.
Today’s hearing, which can be accessed here is focused on teachers and school leadership. The federal government plays an influential role in providing federal support to states that will strategically advance the development, recruitment, and retention of qualified teaching professionals for all students. Recent data show that students of color are disproportionately taught by inexperienced teachers; nearly 7 percent of the nation’s African American students (over half a million students) attend schools where more than 20 percent of the teachers have not met state licensure or certification requirements.
To improve educational outcomes and opportunity for all students, LDF urges the Committee to consider:
The importance of equitable distribution of qualified teachers and school leaders in schools attended by high percentages of students of color and low-income students;
The importance of promoting federal policies that support the development of a coherent professional continuum for teachers and school leaders;
Federal support for teacher residencies, mentoring opportunities, and professional development opportunities to help improve teacher preparation and ongoing education. This includes support for programs like the Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF), Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grants, and amendments to the Higher Education Act (HEA); and
The importance of supporting and promoting a diverse teacher workforce equipped with the cultural competency skills needed to work with an increasingly diverse student population.
LDF looks forward to continuing to work with the Senate HELP Committee to advance a strong and inclusive ESEA reauthorization bill.