Washington, DC – Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today urged President Barack Obama to include a plan to recruit and train 100,000 teachers to work in high-need schools in the budget proposal the president will send to Congress next week. In a letter to the president, Bennet outlined his Presidential Teacher Corps Proposal, to mobilize an army of 100,000 talented teachers to work in high-need schools over the next 5 years.
“While we work to recruit an army of new teachers, we must push the system to change and improve,” Bennet said. “We need to attract a new generation of talented teachers to the profession while removing the barriers to serving in our classrooms. Most importantly, we need the most talented teachers to go and stay in the classrooms where they are needed most.”
Under Bennet’s proposal, preparation programs would compete to train diverse candidates to form a teacher corps. The preparation programs and teachers in the corps would be held accountable for their results. Teachers who serve in high-need schools and demonstrate that they are highly effective based on multiple measures of student learning and instruction could get a new kind of portable license.
Bennet, a former Denver Schools superintendent, has consistently pushed for efforts to recruit new teachers. In his first speech as a senator in 2009, he spoke about the need to recruit a diverse, excellent and committed group of Americans to teach our kids, including veterans, professionals and recent graduates. Bennet believes there is not a harder job than teaching, especially in a high-need school, and that no job is more important. However, our current system for recruiting, training, supporting and retaining teachers was designed deep in the last century and is woefully inadequate for the labor market demands of the 21st Century.
The full text of the letter is included below:
Dear Mr. President,
During the State of the Union, you asked young people to consider becoming teachers because they could have an impact on their students’ lives and “make a difference in the life of our nation.” I could not agree more.
Over the last two years, I have been working with a diverse set of education groups and leaders to craft a proposal to create a Presidential Teacher Corps (PTC) to improve teacher preparation programs and mobilize an army of 100,000 talented teachers to work in high-need schools over the next 5 years.
As you prepare to release your budget, I want to encourage you to include the elements of my Presidential Teacher Corps Proposal. Under my approach, preparation programs would compete to train diverse candidates to form a teacher corps. The preparation programs and teachers in the corps would be held accountable for their results. Teachers who serve in high-need schools and demonstrate that they are highly effective based on multiple measures of student learning and instruction could get a new kind of portable license. This benefit would allow effective teachers to move between high-need schools in participating states without facing an unnecessarily arduous recertification process.
You have highlighted the need to recruit an army of teachers with an emphasis on preparing them to teach science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). We need the mathematicians and engineers of today teaching those of tomorrow in order to win the future for America. There are also other critical areas that face persistent shortages including teachers for English Language Learners and students with disabilities. It is essential that we create incentives for talented individuals to fill those critical needs as well.
Whether it is through my PTC proposal or another program, any effort to bring new teachers into the profession must focus our limited resources on high-need schools. We need to create incentives for our best teachers to work in the schools with the greatest need.
Investing in ensuring all kids have access to an effective teacher is a national priority. We must support the men and women who are central to arming our children with the skills they need to ensure this century is, once again, an American century.