Congressman Fattah Applauds Dept. of Education Report: Lower Teacher Salaries = Less Opportunity for African American, Latino Students

Sep 27, 2011, 17:56 ET from Office of Congressman Chaka Fattah

WASHINGTON, Sept. 27, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Congressman Chaka Fattah (D-PA-02), a Congressional leader in education reform and fairness, says a new report today by the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights provides the hard facts for something educators have always known: students of color are taught by teachers who earn lower salaries, and that leaves them at a disadvantage.


"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. "Given that salary expenditures make up the largest share of school district budgets, these disparities have the potential to seriously impact students' educational opportunity."

Specifically, this data explores differences in teacher salaries between schools of different racial compositions. The finding is drawn from a survey of nearly 7,000 school districts in the 2009-2010 Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC), the largest sample ever included in the CRDC. The analysis of teacher pay (one of several new data categories in the 2009-2010 survey) comes from results reported from 2,217 diverse districts – those with greater than 20 percent and less than 80 percent Latino and African American enrollment.

"The future of American democracy and economic vitality requires a well educated citizenry," Fattah continued. "This report shows that 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 report as a call to arms. Our system simply is not working for far too many of our students."

Fattah is the author of two pieces of legislation pending in Congress seeking to remedy these inequities. The Student Bill of Rights Act (H.R. 1295) seeks to ensure students have access to equitable educational resources, including highly effective teachers, across school districts.  The ESEA Fiscal Fairness Act (H.R. 1294) provides that schools have access to comparable dollars within school districts.  

The Philadelphia Congressman is also the lead sponsor, along with Congressman Mike Honda (CA-15) of the Department of Education's Equity and Excellence Commission.  That commission, which is expected to release a report at the end of the year, will detail the current state of school finance equity and recommend policies to ensure a meaningful opportunity to learn for all students.

SOURCE Office of Congressman Chaka Fattah