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Campaign for Fiscal Equity

Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond

Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond, Charles E. Ducommun Professor at Stanford University and Executive Director of National Commission on Teaching & America’s Future, testified this week on teacher qualifications, accountability, and preparing students for their civic responsibilities.

In response to a specific inquiry posed by Judge DeGrasse, Dr. Darling-Hammond analyzed the skills students need to be able to vote and serve on a jury. In its 1995 preliminary ruling in CFE v. State, New York’s highest court issued a preliminary definition of a “sound basic education” that emphasized these skills. She described in detail how both voting and serving as a juror are key responsibilities of citizens in a democracy. Both require the ability to sort out different opinions, reason about evidence, and analyze various kinds of data. She showed specifically how the Regents’ Learning Standards develop each of these skills in students.

Dr. Darling-Hammond went on to address the concept of accountability. She testified:

Accountability is a system that establishes responsibilities for the state, for the school district, for the school, for the teacher and then for students and parents. The notion is that the state is responsible to its citizens for providing an education that will enable those citizens, particularly young ones, to acquire certain skills. And that meets -- the accountability is just not to measure learning, but to put in place the conditions and resources that are necessary to enable learning. And that parents have the right to expect that their children will be taught by fully prepared teachers, that states have the obligation to provide the resources that are necessary to districts, districts have obligations to allocate those resources in an equitable way, to take it on themselves to ensure that personnel are adequately trained and supported in their work, that the resources are in place. Schools have an obligation as well to be sure that teachers are supported in their work, that parents’ voices are heard. And then teachers have specific professional accountability to use the best known practices to support the learning of students. So everybody has a role in that accountability.

Dr. Darling-Hammond also discussed the qualifications teachers need to properly educate students. She detailed the correlation between teacher quality and student performance, and analyzed the findings of the Lankford report, in addition to other studies that illustrate that unqualified teachers result in lower achievement for students. She called the number of uncertified teachers in NYC -- 14 percent -- “shockingly high,” especially compared with the national average of 95% certification. “Those kids who have skills deficits are going to need the teachers who have the most sophisticated training, and they are obviously not getting them,” she said.

Testimony given on December 14 & 15, 1999

Parents from across the state march on the Capitol in Albany to show support for CFE.
CFE Litigation CFE v. State of New York
In 2006, after 13 years in the Courts, the New York State Court of Appeals affirmed the right of every public school student in New York to the opportunity for a sound basic education and the state’s responsibility to adequately fund this right, but deferred to the Governor and the Legislature to determine the appropriate amount. more >