The Imperative of Alternative Teacher Routes

teacher.jpgThe highest priority for those who care about improving public education, should be
support for programs that bring more qualified teachers into the classroom. This according to Kati Haycock, head of the Education Trust, who spoke yesterday in Manhattan to a gathering of education grantmakers convened by the Association of Small Foundations.

When asked the best way to do this, Kati said it was through alternative routes to certification, which bring gifted individuals to teaching from another profession or from programs other than education. According to Kati, traditional education programs view teaching as something “you do for life” and they “don’t tend to attract people who want to compete.” Looking to “career-switchers,” she said you find a real performance orientation. You find individuals who can answer the omnipresent question high-schoolers ask, “Why should I learn this?” She also said that such programs qualify twice as many people of color.

My partner's experience in a public high-school sponsored by the Urban Assembly in Brooklyn’s Navy Yards, may provide one exception in that a significant number of their young teachers come from Ivy League schools. As much as anything else, that experience suggests their ability to compete. Kati also spoke to the power of Teach for America, through which participants must compete for the opportunity to teach in performance-challenged urban and rural schools. According to a survey by Business Week, Teach for America now ranks as the tenth most desired employer for undergrads.

As one who was trained in an education department and taught for four years in an inner-city school, I was thrilled to hear Katie saying what became readily obvious to me as a teacher. She’s on the road preaching her passionate message every day, and was headed to North Carolina after I interviewed her for an upcoming videocast on education strategies for donors. Godspeed…

Susan Herr

Posted at 7:34 AM, May 24, 2007 in Education | Permalink | Comment