On Monday, the Obama administration announced a new plan to make sure low-income students have access to quality teachers. While the No Child Left Behind Act previously mandated that states ensure poor and minority students receive instruction from high-caliber teachers, the mandate was never consistently enforced, and thus low-income children have continued to be taught in classrooms with less experienced and qualified teachers than their affluent peers.
President Barack Obama's new initiative, titled "Excellent Educators For All," seeks to ensure that states comply with the George W. Bush-era No Child Left Behind mandate by asking state officials to submit "comprehensive educator equity plans" that detail how states plan to put quality educators in classrooms with disadvantaged students. The Department of Education also plans to pour millions of dollars into a "Education Equity Support Network" and publish profiles of states and districts that have succeeded in promoting teacher equity.
Regardless of whether or not the new initiative succeeds, it's clear the problem it seeks to correct is real and damaging. Below is a series of charts demonstrating that low-income and minority students often receive the short end of the stick when it comes to teacher quality.
1. The more affluent the district, the more likely teachers are to have received a master's degree or higher.
According to data from the Department of Education in the 2011-2012 Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS), teachers are more likely to have higher degrees in districts where up to 34 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunches than in districts where 75 percent or more of students qualify.
2. Affluent districts tend to employ teachers with more experience.
Data from the 2011 - 2012 SASS shows that students in districts where most children qualify for free or reduced-price lunch often receive instruction from teachers who have less experience in the classroom.
3. The more white the school, the more likely teachers are to be certified in the subjects they teach.
According to information from the 2007-2008 SASS, schools with a majority of black students are less likely to have teachers who are certified in the subjects they instruct.