When it comes to compliance with the federal No Child Left Behind Act, it's not enough to say you're trying.
Connecticut was among 37 states that recently failed to provide the U.S. Department of Education with an adequate plan for ensuring that schools in the state's poorest cities get the same type of high-quality teachers that are found in wealthier communities.
The state has until Sept. 29 to revise the plan or risk losing millions of dollars in federal education grants.
Education department officials would not approve Connecticut's plan because they said it lacked detail about how the state would accomplish its goal.
State officials simply provided general statistics showing that children in low-income areas are more likely than others to be in classrooms with poorly qualified teachers. Connecticut also sent in a list of the programs it has in place to lure and retain good teachers.
What federal officials want is an overarching strategy for securing high quality teachers at schools in low-income areas that have been identified as not making adequate yearly progress in core subjects.
Many urban schools, for example, have a 50 percent turnover in their teaching staffs every year. Often, the turnover is driven by higher salaries elsewhere.
In other cases, wealthier districts hire the better teachers long before urban school officials are even aware of how many vacancies they will have in a given school year, leaving them with no choice but to accept a constant stream of the least experienced teachers.
Connecticut should strive to produce a teacher-quality plan that passes muster the next time around. A balanced distribution of the best teachers among poor and wealthy school districts is a worthy goal, even if the federal government didn't require it.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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