Obama on Teacher Recruitment and Retention
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The teacher shortage in the U.S. is nothing short of a crisis. According to the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence (ABCTE), America needs 240,000 teachers every year, and one in five teachers in the U.S. will retire in the next five years.
President-elect Barack Obama says he is aware of the need for high-quality teachers and has plans for "recruiting, retaining, and rewarding an army of new teachers.”
Education researchers, such as Van Dempsey, EdD, Professor and Dean of the School of Education at Fairmont State College in West Virginia, are encouraged by Obama’s focus on teacher preparation and retention. “The number one reason we’re losing teachers is the quality of work life of teachers,” Dempsey says. “In many schools and in many contexts, there’s an unfortunate equation of inadequate preparation coupled with not much being done structurally to address the challenges teachers face.”
Obama’s Pre-K-12 plan emphasizes the goal of fundamentally transforming the teaching profession “by ensuring that it offers high-quality opportunities for professional growth and career development, as other professions like law, medicine, architecture, engineering and accounting do.”
This goal resonates with many education researchers. Autumn Tooms, EdD, Professor of Pre-K-12 Educational Administration at Kent State University, is troubled that education as a profession is treated differently from other professions when it comes to accreditation. “I want our president to recognize that there are different ways to accreditate teacher leaders,” Tooms says. “I could be a teacher that says, ‘you know I really enjoy doing this after school club, so I’m going to take these weekend classes so I can become an administrator.’ That leads to individuals becoming leaders who may or may not be competent and understand curriculum to its depth.”
Obama addresses accreditation and other issues in his detailed plan for recruiting, preparing, retaining, and rewarding America’s teachers. Here’s a summary of the plan:
Recruit Teachers Obama will create new Teacher Service Scholarships that will cover four years of undergraduate or two years of graduate teacher education, including high-quality alternative programs for mid-career recruits in exchange for teaching for at least four years in a high-need field or location.
Prepare Teachers Obama will require all schools of education to be accredited. Obama will also create a voluntary national performance assessment so we can be sure that every new educator is trained and ready to walk into the classroom and start teaching effectively. Obama will also create Teacher Residency Programs that will supply 30,000 exceptionally well-prepared recruits to high-need schools.
Retain Teachers To support our teachers, the Obama plan will expand mentoring programs that pair experienced teachers with new recruits. Obama will also provide incentives to give teachers paid common planning time so they can collaborate to share best practices.
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