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Inequality and the Right to Learn: Access to Qualified Teachers in California's Public Schools


by Linda Darling-Hammond — 2004

As new standards for students are taking effect, large disparities continue to exist in the educational opportunities available to rich and poor students in most states. These disparities are especially pronounced in California, where thousands of students attend school in dilapidated buildings, without textbooks, materials, or qualified teachers. This article focuses on inequalities in children's access to qualified teachers, documenting the disproportionate assignment of untrained and uncredentialed teachers to students in high-minority, low-income schools and the effects that large concentrations of such teachers have on students' opportunities to learn. Given the importance of teacher expertise to student achievement, and the existence of new standards to which students are held accountable, these inequalities threaten students' basic rights to an education. The article outlines the legal rationale for insisting on access to qualified teachers for all students, analyzes the reasons for the current shortfalls in California, and proposes a set of remedies based on research and policy outcomes elsewhere.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 106 Number 10, 2004, p. 1936-1966
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 11677, Date Accessed: 9/2/2014 10:06:57 PM

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About the Author
  • Linda Darling-Hammond
    Stanford University
    E-mail Author
    LINDA DARLING-HAMMOND is Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education at Stanford University. She also served as executive director of the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, which produced the 1996 widely cited blueprint for education reform: What Matters Most: Teaching for America’s Future. Darling-Hammond’s research, teaching, and policy work focus on educational policy, teaching and teacher education, school restructuring, and educational equity. Among her more than 200 publications is The Right To Learn, recipient of the 1998 Outstanding Book Award from the American Educational Research Association, and Teaching as the Learning Profession, awarded the National Staff Development Council’s Outstanding Book Award in 2000.
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