Sharon P. Robinson: Chart a Course From What Is Working (Response to “A Little RESPECT for Teachers”)

From National Journal
By Sharon Robinson

The demographics of the education workforce are sobering. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, significant increases are expected in new public school teacher hires and new private school teacher hires each year between 2008 and 2020. For example, there were approximately 313,000 new teachers hired in public schools in 2008, a 41 percent increase from 1999. By 2020, that number is expected to increase to 350,000. Thus, there is no time to waste.

The Department of Education is right to turn attention to the issue of highly qualified and effective teachers and other educators. Fortunately, some of the stated objectives of the RESPECT proposal are already being addressed in programs that are authorized and funded. One of those programs is the federal TEACH grants are attracting highly qualified teacher candidates who will be go on to teach a minimum of four years in high-need disciplines (STEM, special education, English language learners, etc.) in high-need schools. Candidates for TEACH grants are some of the best and brightest, required to have scored in the top quartile of admissions tests or maintain a GPA of 3.25. After just three and a half years, TEACH grants have produced more than 2,300 such teachers with thousands more lined up to enter the workforce in the coming year.

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