Over the next four years, more than a third of the nation’s 3.2 million teachers could retire, leaving schools bereft of experienced instructors. The problem is aggravated by high attrition among novice teachers, with one of every three new teachers leaving the profession within five years, a loss of talent that costs school districts millions in recruiting and training expenses, according to a 2009 report by the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, a nonprofit research advocacy group. To help counter this predicament, the Obama administration is proposing competitive grants for teachers to recruit, train and evaluate teacher performance relative to student success. I applaud this emphasis for three main reasons:
1) Competition is valuable. When teachers have incentives to be and do their best work, they are incented to grow, to keep learning and keep their knowledge on the
cutting edge–all of which our students need to be competitive in the global world.
2) Change. A lot has changed among students in the last eight years since No Child Left Behind
was created. The teachers who understand the impact and usefulness of technology in addition to their subject areas will drive the future of facilitated learning–active learning where students discover the learning through their own curiosity, initiative and leadership. Students who learn like this in class will have the inspiration and the motivation to make a difference outside of school–in their careers and personal lives–with the applications of what they have learned.
3) Staying Ahead. Right now, American students after fifth grade are not toe to toe with their foreign counterparts in developed nations. The more that the best teachers are encouraged within our current system and new teachers are brought in from different walks of life which provide the experience through which students can value their learning, the more we will have purposeful,
self-directed and inspired graduates.
The focus on raising the bar for teachers comes at a time when the administration is calling for more parents to set up a culture of learning in their homes–through turning off the TV, modeling reading and and doing homework with their children. Other frontiers are: exploring what it
takes for principals and school districts to be effective as leaders and analyzing how the community, AARP and other organizations from the community can support school performance and outcomes.
In its fiscal 2011 budget request , the Obama administration has laid out its intention of carrying forward key teacher-effectiveness policies within the economic-stimulus law into the next edition of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
In doing so, the budget proposal would invest heavily in competitive grants for new ways of recruiting, training, evaluating, and compensating teachers and principals, dramatically shrink the amount of teacher-quality funding doled out by formula, and consolidate a handful of smaller teacher programs that have fierce congressional defenders.
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