WASHINGTON, D.C. – As part of its Excellent Educators for All initiative – designed to ensure that all students have equal access to a high-quality education – the U.S. Department of Education announced the approval of 16 states’ plans, including Minnesota’s, to ensure equitable access to excellent educators.
The states approved for the federal program are Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maine, Missouri, Minnesota, New York, Nevada, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Wisconsin.
“All parents understand that strong teaching is fundamental to strong opportunities for their children. We as a country should treat that opportunity as a right that every family has—regardless of race, ethnicity or national origin, zip code, wealth, or first language,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.
“Few issues in education are more important than ensuring equitable access to high-quality teachers, and the Department of Education is right to focus attention on this topic. Clear action plans are a first step, but we’ve got to make sure that these plans are actually enacted,” said Kati Haycock, president, The Education Trust.
“We know that access to great teachers makes a big difference for all students, and even more so for students facing the challenges of concentrated poverty and racial isolation. I am encouraged to see that the Department of Education is moving forward on this important equity issue,” said Wade Henderson, president and CEO, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.
According to the Department of Education, the 16 states receiving approval of their plans today are taking promising steps to eliminate the gaps some students face in access to excellent educators by implementing strategies and innovative solutions to challenging problems that meet local context and needs. Each of these states engaged a variety of stakeholder groups to ensure that these plans include strategies that will actually be effective.
The strategies that states are implementing to eliminate equity gaps include, for example, working to support, strengthen, or modify teacher preparation programs, to help ensure that all teachers are ready to provide high-quality instruction to their students, and are prepared for success in high-need schools. This work is occurring in states such as Minnesota, Delaware, Nevada, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Missouri, Connecticut, Oklahoma, Massachusetts, Arkansas, Wisconsin, South Carolina and Maine.
Additionally, states are investing in strategies related to school leaders. This work is occurring in states such as Minnesota, Nevada, Delaware, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Connecticut, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Maine and South Carolina.
Also, states are implementing strategies that provide financial incentives designed to reward teachers for exceptional work and to encourage excellent educators to remain in the highest-need schools. This work is occurring in states such as Minnesota, Delaware, Nevada, Rhode Island, Kentucky, Missouri, Wisconsin, New York, Maine and South Carolina. Minnesota has proposed providing financial support through grants to paraprofessionals seeking full teacher licensure, providing forgivable loans to teacher candidates in high-need subject areas, offering forgivable loans for already licensed teachers who want to add licenses in high-need subject areas.
In July 2014, the U.S. Department of Education announced a comprehensive Excellent Educators for All Initiative. As part of this initiative, states were asked to create new, comprehensive plans that put in place locally-developed solutions to ensure every student has equal access to effective educators. These plans are required by Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). All 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have submitted their plans for review.
The Department of Education is currently reviewing the remaining state plans to determine whether they meet all of the requirements set in ESEA, and will make determinations regarding the plans on a rolling basis.