President wants needy schools to get good teachers

Action bypasses Congress for overhaul

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WASHINGTON — The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion said Mon­day that it will re­quire states to show how they will make sure that all chil­dren — par­tic­u­larly those who are poor or mi­nor­i­ties — have high-qual­ity teach­ers.

The White House said it’s an­other ex­am­ple of act­ing with­out Con­gress be­cause law­mak­ers has not moved for­ward. In this case, Ed­u­ca­tion Sec­re­tary Arne Dun­can said, Con­gress has not fixed the trou­bled No Child Left Be­hind law.

“Un­for­tu­nately, there are a lot of kids around the coun­try who are not get­ting the kind of teach­ing that they need — not be­cause there aren’t a whole lot of great po­ten­tial teach­ers out there, but be­cause we’re not do­ing enough to put a lot of our teach­ers in a po­si­tion to suc­ceed,” Pres­i­dent Barack Obama said at the White House. “Typ­i­cally, the least ex­pe­ri­enced teach­ers, the ones with the least sup­port, of­ten end up in the poor­est schools.”

The ad­min­is­tra­tion will re­quire states to sub­mit plans by April 2015 and will spend $4.2 mil­lion to launch a new net­work to pro­vide states and dis­tricts with sup­port to put the plans into ac­tion. It also will pub­lish re­sults to show where highly skilled teach­ers are work­ing in high-need schools, and where these schools have in­ex­pe­ri­enced teach­ers or those teach­ing in sit­u­a­tions they weren’t pre­pared to han­dle.

Mr. Dun­can de­clined to say what would hap­pen if a state re­fused to go along. “I’m op­ti­mis­tic the over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of states want to do this and have the heart for this work,” he said. “The solu­tions have to be lo­cal.”

Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., who chairs the House Com­mit­tee on Ed­u­ca­tion and the Work­force, said Mr. Dun­can was tak­ing the wrong ap­proach. “Every stu­dent should learn in a class­room led by an ex­cel­lent teacher, and to help make it hap­pen we have to fix a bro­ken law,” he said. “It has been al­most a year since the House passed a bill to re­vamp the na­tion’s K-12 ed­u­ca­tion law, yet the Senate has re­fused to act.

“To make mat­ters worse, the ad­min­is­tra­tion con­tin­ues to cre­ate more con­fu­sion and un­cer­tainty through uni­lat­eral ac­tions,” Mr. Kline said. “If Sec­re­tary Dun­can re­ally wants to sup­port stu­dents and teach­ers, he will work with Con­gress to en­act last­ing K-12 ed­u­ca­tion re­form.”

The ed­u­ca­tion ini­tia­tive re­quires no ap­proval or in­put from Con­gress.

Mr. Obama has used ex­ec­u­tive or­ders and ac­tions to de­lay en­act­ment of some pro­vi­sions of the Af­ford­able Care Act, raise the min­i­mum wage for fed­eral con­trac­tors and ex­pand gay rights. House Speaker John Boe­h­ner, R-Ohio, re­cently an­nounced that he plans to sue Mr. Obama over what he per­ceives as pres­i­den­tial over­reach of ex­ec­u­tive au­thor­ity.

Deb­o­rah Veney Robin­son, vice pres­i­dent for gov­ern­ment af­fairs and com­mu­ni­ca­tions at The Ed­u­ca­tion Trust, a group that ad­vo­cates clos­ing achieve­ment gaps for low-in­come and black, La­tino and Na­tive Amer­i­can stu­dents, called the Ed­u­ca­tion Depart­ment’s plan en­cour­ag­ing.

A pro­vi­sion in fed­eral law since 2006 that bans this prac­tice has mostly been ig­nored, Ms. Robin­son added. The Ed­u­ca­tion Trust said low-in­come stu­dents and stu­dents of color tend to be taught by teach­ers with less ex­pe­ri­ence and knowl­edge about their sub­ject mat­ter than those who teach white, more af­flu­ent stu­dents.

At an event later Mon­day, Chris Min­n­ich, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Coun­cil of Chief School Of­fi­cers, said states want to im­prove the qual­ity of teach­ers at high-needs schools. He said his group would work with civil rights and ad­vo­cacy groups to look for solu­tions, in­clud­ing more trans­par­ency about ed­u­ca­tion fund­ing, so money can be found for in­cen­tives for teach­ers at high-need schools, and to make sure there are ways that teach­ers can move up in their ca­reers if they con­tinue to work with stu­dents with many needs.

United States government - Barack Obama - United States Congress - John Boehner - United States House of Representatives - Arne Duncan - John Kline


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