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Narrowing The Teacher Achievement Gap In Chicago & NYC

Vintage_pringles_can On the same day that ed schools are being castigated for not teaching teachers how to do math, ed schools and district officials in Chicago are being praised in a new report (IERC_Report PDF) for narrowing the teacher achievement gap:

'Remarkable progress' in CPS teacher caliber Sun Times
Chicago schools make gains in hiring better grade of teachers Chicago Tribune
Teacher Quality Found Improving in Chicago Schools EdWeek

A little-noted editorial in the NY Times this week (Better-Qualified Teachers) praised NYC schools for doing much the same: "A new study by the nonpartisan National Bureau of Economic Research shows that the teacher qualification gap between poor and well-to-do schools in New York City narrowed considerably between 2000 and 2005."

Nationally, as Liam Goldrick notes in a recent blog post, inequities remain despite progress (Highly Qualified Teachers).  Personally, I blame NCLB. 

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Although I realize that saying anything even slightly in favor of NCLB is like blasphemy for a teacher, I completely disagree that NCLB is to blame for the inequities between the number of highly qualified teachers (HQT) in high- and low-poverty schools. I actually think that one good thing that has come from NCLB is the necessity for HQT status. I would argue that the certification requirements for teachers should be MORE stringent in order to increase teachers' "academic capital." How can we expect our children to succeed when their teachers are below average too? (As in Chicago Public Schools, in which I am a teacher.) The bigger issue is our racist, classist society that perpetuates the aforementioned problems. Teaching is viewed as a second-class career, which is part of the reason why many high-achieving people pursue other careers. Even so, teachers are "middle class" and most of the nation's teachers are white women (including myself). Herein lies the second layer of classism (and racism??): many teachers are unwilling to work in schools and neighborhoods where poverty is rampant. Often I am asked what it's like to teach in the "inner city." (the tone of pity is implied.) Children are children and no matter what, we need to provide opportunities for all children in order for our nation to progress. Many people are afraid of those who are different from them (economically, culturally, racially...). We need a national campaign to both increase the rigor in education programs, increase the standards for teachers, and increase the professionalism of the occupation of teaching AND to address the class and race issues that still plague our country.

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