Excellent Teachers, Equitable Distribution, Real Results

Last week, the New York Times’ Eduardo Porter had an interesting commentary looking at whether educators are really the ones who should be tasked with fixing all that ails our society. In tackling the discussion of whether American students are really lagging or whether, when we adjust for all sorts of outside factors, they are doing just fine, Porter concludes by noting, “Teachers are paid poorly, compared to those working in other occupations. And the best of them are not deployed to the most challenging schools.”

That last point, one of how we get our best teachers in front of the classrooms and the kids who need them the most, is one of the most pressing issues facing public education today. Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Education requested a report from each of the state departments of education, explaining how they were addressing the equitable distribution of effective teachers. But those reports still doing get exemplary teachers where they are most needed.

In response to Porter’s piece, Stephanie Hull, EVP and COO of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, offered some valuable insights. On the pages of the NYT, Dr. Hull wrote:

Getting excellent teachers into all classrooms is a national imperative. To meet this challenge, we must also improve teacher education, producing more and better prepared teachers, especially in shortage areas like STEM and special education. This is the only way to ensure a strong pipeline of teachers who know how to meet the needs of all students.

In states like Georgia, Indiana and New Jersey, we are seeing how programs specifically intended to recruit, prepare and support exemplary teachers for high-need classrooms can have a positive effect on the community and on the student.

She knows of what she writes. The work she mentions in places like GA, IN, and NJ is exactly what she is doing through the Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship. And when you find a way to recruit, prepare, and support exemplary beginning educators to teach STEM in high-need schools, and you get those teachers to stay in those schools and classrooms well beyond their obligations, you must be doing something right.

Is Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship THE answer to the equity problem? Of course not. There is no one way to solve the issue or to improve access to great teachers for all kids. But programs like WWTF are definitely a part of the solution. It’s one of the reasons I’m so committed to helping that program, and others like it to succeed. Instead of just talking about what it can do or making promises of what is possible, programs like Teaching Fellowship are actually building pipelines of STEM teachers committed to careers in the schools that need them the most. How novel …

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