Poor, Minority Schools Get the Worst Teachers

capNew Orleans    The Center for American Progress in Washington issued a report recently on the distribution of teachers within public schools which was deeply disturbing, even if not surprising.   At the bottom line they found that public schools in high poverty areas were three times as likely to have teachers ranked as ineffective, and in public schools where there were greater percentages of minorities, teachers were two times as likely to be ineffective.   Essentially, that says that public school administrators are allowing the gaps between rich and poor, white and non-white to create great systematic, permanent gaps in our populations, particularly in our cities.

Most of CAP’s research data comes from a close examination of teacher distribution data from those states that collect such data as a requirement of the No Child Left Behind legislation dating from the Bush Administration.   All districts were required to reach a goal of having high quality teachers, or HQTs as they are called, by this point.  Sadly, the distribution of teachers still seems solidly skewed away from poor and minority schools that arguably most need the best teachers available in public schools, since the one thing that virtually all educational experts agree on is that good teachers are the single most important factor in creating the best educational outcomes.   Twenty-eight states submitted data requested, which is a poor showing, and, worse, only seven states submitted plans that were rated “acceptable” by the Department of Education.   Furthermore most of the states would be graded as “incompletes.”  The ones that fessed up did so for the most part in 2006 and though some reported modified plans in some in subsequent years, for the most part, most states just stopped coming to school on these standards.

In a poorer and more minority district, you are more likely still to have unlicensed teachers and teachers who are teaching outside their areas of expertise.  Not surprisingly teacher turnover is closer to 20% in such schools compared to single digit numbers in whiter, richer schools, all of which sentences students to poorer performance and reduced opportunity.  In this regard the CAP study builds on years of similar studies, like those that ACORN produced on educational “apartheid” in New York City and other districts, and documents the depressing lack of fundamental progress in creating educational equity in public schools.  The CAP report puts a game face on the numbers and correctly argues that there has been progress in teacher distribution, just not enough.

Part of the problem is that the federal government is essentially a lobbyist in the public school debate trying to leverage its 10% federal contribution to the great share of resources produced by local and state taxpayers.  Importantly, the report does argue that specialized programs at the federal level, like Title I, which only targets lower income students, needs to have its comparability provisions strengthened to ensure that “schools that serve low-income students receive the same share of local and state dollars, before federal funds are added, as schools that serve higher income students.”

For my money, it’s a scandal to think that lower income and minority schools continue to fall behind and that higher income schools are picking their pockets at the state and local level, by perverting the formulas for distribution of Title 1 monies from their intended sources, while saddling them with the worst teachers to boot.

How about a break?

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Debit Charges and Senate Hucksters

Dodd-Frank Bill
Dodd-Frank Bill

New Orleans The Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Act called for the Federal Reserve to put an end to the debit card surcharge padding when that retailers were paying to banks and credit card companies, usually amounting to 44 cents a transaction.  New Fed proposals would cap the amounts at 7 to 14 cents, about an 80% reduction.  Hooray!

But banks and card issuers are crying like babies at losing this opportunity to scam consumers on the swipe.  Visa lost 10% of its value on the market yesterday.  Bank of America and Wells Fargo record as much as 2.5% of their revenue from this scam, according to the Wall Street Journal.

I love this not only because it is a win for the biscuit cookers, but also given ACORN International’s Remittance Justice Campaign, this is another indication of what at least one authority – the United States Federal Reserve – believes is the actual cost-plus profit of such a transaction.  With enough indirect data, eventually we will understand real costs, not just predatory pricing strategies.

This is also a boost for citizen wealth, if it turns out right:

“A $100 transaction today, for example, means merchants currently pay banks as much as $1.30 in debit interchange fees, according to figures provided by the Nilson Report. Under the proposals, the merchant would pay no more than 12 cents, said David Balto, a fellow with the left-leaning Center for American Progress.”

Hey, let’s have that buck back!

Here’s the head scratcher though, thirteen (13) United States Senators wrote a letter to Fed Chair Bernacke complaining that the card companies and banks were getting stiffed.  I badly want to know who these 13 are, since their names probably comprise something that will be as close as we can come to a list of the Banking and Credit Senators or Anti-Consumer Senators, someone should come up with a better name.  I have to admit to having been foiled even after a half-hour of searching since I was only able to come up with 7 of the 13 names, so anyone who knows speak up:

  • Richard Shelby (R-AL) (Senate Banking Committee)
  • Mark Warner (D-VA) (home state of Capital One!) (Senate Banking)
  • Chris Coons (D-DE) (corporate registry state for many of these companies)
  • Tom Carper (D-DE) (see above)
  • David Vitter (R-LA)  (WTF?)
  • Judd Gregg (R-NH)
  • Evan Bayh (D-IN)  (looking for a goodbye present?)
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