Lower Teacher Salaries Results in Fewer Opportunities For Students

September 28, 2011  |  

By Charlotte Young

Congressman Chaka Fattah knows the concerns that educators and community leaders have shared for so long: minority students taught by teachers who earn lower salaries are left disadvantaged. He has been fighting to secure equal education for all students for a long time and now he finally has back up. A report conducted by the US Department of Education Office for Civil Rights is adding weight and gravity to the debates revolving around education equity.

PR Newswire states that the data Fattah obtained came from the 2009-2010 Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) survey. The research explored the differences in teacher salaries between schools with different racial make-ups. The survey, which consisted of almost 7,000 school districts, is the largest CRDC sample to date.

“This data shows that schools with higher concentrations of African American and Latino students receive less funding – in terms of teachers’ salaries – than do schools with fewer of these students,” Fattah said.

Fattah also acknowledges that faculty salaries are the largest component of school district budgets. As better quality teachers are more likely to run to schools that offer higher salaries, this leaves many minority students with under-qualified teachers.  In addition, if the teachers in poorer school districts aren’t making much money, then the students also do not have the resources of their peers in richer school districts across the nation to compete competitively. In addition,

The Pennsylvanian representative has two pending pieces of legislation in Congress to address the issue. His Student Bill of Rights Act (H.R. 1295) is a bill that strives to secure access to “equitable educational resources,” for students in all districts, this includes effective teachers. His second piece of legislation, the ESEA Fiscal Fairness Act (H.R. 1294) would ensure that schools have access to comparable funding within school districts.

In collaboration with Congressman Mike Honda, Fattah is also a lead sponsor of the Department of Education’s Equity and Excellence Commission. The Commission is expected to issue a report later in the year to provide details on school finance equity in its current state as well as offer recommendations to ensure equal opportunities for all students.

“The future of American democracy and economic vitality requires a well educated citizenry,” Fattah said. “We’re shooting ourselves in the foot by laying such an unlevel foundation. I urge my Congressional colleagues and those in State legislatures to see this new [CRDC] report as a call to arms. Our system simply is not working for far too many of our students.”

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