The fact that well-qualified teachers are inequitably distributed to students in the United States has received growing public attention. By every measure of qualifications—certification, subject matter background, pedagogical training, selectivity of college attended, test scores, or experience—less-qualified teachers tend to be found in schools serving greater numbers of low-income and minority students. Studies in state after state have found that students of color in low- income schools are 3 to 10 times more likely to have unqualified teachers than students in predominantly white schools.
This study examines how and why teacher quality is inequitably distributed by reviewing research and examining data from California and New York—two large states that face similar demographic diversity and educational challenges. Although New York’s schools are, on average, much better funded—at more than $17,000 per pupil in state and local funding in 2007, compared to California’s $9,700—both experience a wide range of funding across districts, as is true in most states in the country.
A new book, Global Education Reform: How Privatization and Public Investment Influence Education Outcomes, provides a powerful analysis of these different ends of an ideological spectrum – from market-based experiments to strong state investments in public education.