Opportunity to Learn and Our National Education Priorities

The U.S. Department of Education has set a national priority of turning around chronically underperforming education systems and schools.  In too many of our communities, underperforming systems are those that serve historically disadvantaged students.  We are giving those young people most at risk the lowest chances of gaining a high-quality, high-access public education.

The above figures demonstrate that a Black student has nearly three times the chance of attending a poorly resourced, low-performing school as a White student.  A Latino student or a low-income student has more than double the chance of attending an underperforming school.  If we are to reverse this trend, our education systems must be accountable for more than just AYP.  They must also develop Opportunity to Learn Resource Accountability systems to monitor and support state efforts to improve access for all students to:

  1. Early childhood education
  2. Highly effective teachers
  3. College preparatory curricula
  4. Equitable educational resources

As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and the upcoming reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), every state receiving federal funding should develop a five-year Opportunity to Learn state plan with economic forecasts beyond the two years of expected ARRA money.  By addressing both quality and access in these plans, every state can make clear to every taxpayer and every citizen what they are truly doing to improve public education for all and close the achievement gap that has long plagued this nation.

 

NOTES

* Performance for sub-groups of the Asian American populations (Hmong, Cambodian, etc.) varies drastically. Further federal and state disaggregation of data isneeded to more accurately speak to performance results of Asian Americans.