TIME Education

White House Announces Plan to Improve Schools For Poor

Arne Duncan
Education Secretary Arne Duncan listens as President Barack Obama speaks about education during a lunch meeting with teachers, Monday, July 7, 2014. Jacquelyn Martin—AP

Unable to move new legislation through Congress, the White House continued its unilateral efforts to change the country with a new education plan

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan sat down Monday with ten teachers and principals from across the country to discuss the continued problem of high-poverty, high-minority schools that still lack the resources they need to support their students. The event was meant to highlight a new initiative to help high-poverty, high-minority schools to attract and retain the quality teachers.

The three-part initiative will ask schools to create equity plans, which will be bolstered by a $4.2 million technical assistance network and educator equity profiles. The profiles will illustrate gaps in teacher equity between high- and low-poverty schools and high- and low-minority schools, with data on student achievement, school expenditures, teacher experience and certification, and student access to preschool and advanced course work. States will be required to submit plans by April 2015.

Although the Department of Education’s efforts were well received by attendees, including the American Federation of Teachers, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and the Council of Chief State School Officers, this is not the first time that such an initiative has been attempted. The No Child Left Behind Act requested the each state have such an equity plan on file, but the Education Department’s website shows that fewer than half the states have such plans on file, and most have not been updated since 2006. Duncan said he is hopeful that this time will be different and that states will comply.

“The vast majority of states want to get better together,” Duncan said. “Frankly the solutions aren’t going to come from any of us based here in Washington. It’s going to look very different state by state.”

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