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(March 22, 2013, Washington, D.C.) – The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) today celebrated Rep. Judy Chu's (D-CA) and Rep. Rubén Hinojosa’s (D-Texas) reintroduction of H.R. 1334, “The Equal Access to Quality Education Act.” The bill, originally introduced in September 2011, would establish a competitive grant program to ensure that students in high-need PK-12 schools have equal access to a quality education delivered by an effective, diverse teaching workforce. AACTE has been working collaboratively with both representatives’ offices on the reintroduction.
“Every student, no matter his or her background, deserves a fully prepared and qualified teacher,” said Congresswoman Chu. “And, half of new teachers leave the profession within 5 years, often because they don’t get the support they need to succeed. That’s why this bill is so critical – it will strengthen the expertise of teachers, allowing them to better serve all students. I am thrilled to be joined by Congressman Hinojosa in ensuring teachers are prepared to provide students with a pathway to a better life.”
Specifically, the bill seeks to reduce the rate of teacher turnover in high-need schools and close the achievement gap for all students by supporting the recruitment, preparation and retention of effective teachers. The proposal calls for partnerships between high-need local education agencies and institutions of higher education that develop and strengthen high-quality pathways for educators. Among other requirements, educator preparation programs would institute a one-year residency in a high-need school of the partnering district and require participants to teach in that school district for three years after graduation.
“By reintroducing this important legislation, Representatives Chu and Hinojosa have exhibited impressive leadership and commitment to educational excellence and equality," said Sharon P. Robinson, Ed.D., president and CEO of AACTE. “Creating and strengthening partnerships between educator preparation programs and high-need PK-12 school districts is critical to ensuring our teacher workforce is prepared for the realities of diverse classrooms. This bill helps us prioritize the need to produce teachers who are adequately equipped to provide high-quality, relevant instruction to all students.”
The bill also seeks to increase the number of minority teachers who have the training, mentorship and resources to succeed in diverse classrooms. AACTE recently issued a report on the state of teacher preparation and found that teacher candidates do not reflect the demographic makeup of PK-12 students. At the nearly 750 institutions surveyed, 82 percent of bachelor’s degrees in education were awarded to white candidates. Under “The Equal Access to Quality Education Act,” funding priority would be given to applicants that include a minority-serving institution and/or that offers a plan to recruit local teachers of color or individuals with disabilities.
To learn more about “The Equal Access to Quality Education Act,” visit www.aacte.org.
AACTE: Serving Learners
The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education is a national alliance of educator preparation programs dedicated to the highest quality professional development of teachers and school leaders in order to enhance PK-12 student learning. The 800 institutions holding AACTE membership represent public and private colleges and universities in every state, the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Guam. AACTE’s reach and influence fuel its mission of serving learners by providing all school personnel with superior training and continuing education.