"If you don't have a qualified teacher, you're not going to learn."
Debbie Russell Brown, of the community organizing group Pennsylvania ACORN, made this remark early this fall to a crowd of about twenty ACORN members and supporters standing in front of FitzSimons Middle School – notable for its 70 percent teacher turnover rate last year.
ACORN was there to raise awareness about inequities in how qualified teachers are distributed in the School District of Philadelphia.
The School District of Philadelphia has expanded its teacher recruitment efforts, but will need to do more in order to meet federal requirements regarding "highly qualified" teachers.
Many school systems in large cities across the United States have a teacher hiring process that gives more control to principals and allows more interaction between schools and candidates than the process used in Philadelphia.
"Few districts across the country have a hiring and school assignment process as centralized as Philadelphia," wrote the authors of Once and For All, a report issued in September by the nonprofit group Research for Action on teacher hiring in Philadelphia.