Friday, January 12, 2007

Darling-Hammond on Teacher Quality

From Education Week, January 10, 2007:

A Marshall Plan for Teaching
What It Will Really Take to Leave No Child Behind

By Linda Darling-Hammond

Views about the No Child Left Behind Act are currently as divided as Berlin before the wall came down. But whatever one thinks about the 5-year-old federal law, it’s clear that developing more-skillful teaching is a sine qua non for attaining higher and more equitable achievement for students in the United States. Without teachers who have sophisticated skills for teaching challenging content to diverse learners, there is no way that children from all racial and ethnic, language, and socioeconomic backgrounds will reach the high academic standards envisioned by the law. For this reason, one of the most important aspects of the No Child Left Behind legislation is its demand for a “highly qualified” teacher for every child.

Research indicates that expert teachers are the most important—and the most inequitably distributed—school resource. In the United States, however, schools serving more than 1 million of our highest-need students are staffed by a parade of underprepared and inexperienced teachers who know little about effective instruction, and even less about teaching English-language learners and students with disabilities. Many of these teachers enter the classroom with little training and leave soon after, creating greater instability in their wake. Meanwhile, affluent students receive teachers who are typically better prepared than their predecessors, further widening the achievement gap.

Read the rest here.


Leah Zuidema said...

Don, I like the juxtaposition of this article with the last post! Thanks for the blog; I appreciate it and hope, too, that many will take advantage of the comments feature.

Merridy said...

You know, I'm really not pleased with the manner in which teachers who work in underpriviledged schools are represented. I am not poorly prepared and never have been. I have worked very hard throughout my career to maintain a high level of competency, and now, in retirement, I am pursuing a Ph.D. in Education. I am commited to teaching children from impoverished backgrounds because that was me many years ago. When I see comments such as the one made by Linda Darling-Hammond concerning under prepared teachers working in the less desireable districts, I become a bit agitatted because I know how difficult it is to remain in such a district, and I feel that others should realize how much more meaningful the challenge to work with such students can be.
When I retired I decided to try working in a suburban school district. It was "a piece of cake" compared to what I dealt with during my career. However, I feel that the difficult times I experienced and the wonderful kids I encountered during my 34 years were well worth the time and effort. I also feel that I was a better teacher for having experienced the situation. There are some highly qualified teachers who choose to work where they are needed.