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New Obama Initiative Stresses Equal Access to Good Teachers

Education obama 300x219 New Obama Initiative Stresses Equal Access to Good Teachers

President Barack Obama

The Obama administration will announce plans to enforce a long-ignored federal mandate: a decade-old requirement that states give students of all ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds equal access to good teachers.

The new initiative, called “Excellent Educators for All,” aims to bring states into compliance with a teacher equity mandate in the No Child Left Behind Act, the George W. Bush-era law that requires states to reward and punish schools based on standardized test scores.

There are three parts to the effort: By April 2015, states must submit “comprehensive educator equity plans” that detail how they plan to put “effective educators” in front of poor and minority kids. To help states write the plans, the Education Department will create a $4.2 million “Education Equity Support Network.” And this fall, the Education Department will publish “Educator Equity profiles” that highlight which states and districts fare well or poorly on teacher equity.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will announce the changes at a roundtable with teachers and President Barack Obama. The White House is framing the initiative as the latest of Obama’s executive actions to circumvent congressional gridlock.

It’s not yet clear, though, exactly how the department will hold states accountable for all this planning — and ultimately produce changes in classrooms. When asked about this issue at a White House press briefing, Duncan said, “We’ll look at this as a piece of many things.”

The department’s initial press release on the effort also did not specify how it will define “effective” teachers.

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