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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