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Topic: Attracting 'best and brightest' to teaching
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Jerry P. Becker

Posts: 16,576
Registered: 12/3/04
Attracting 'best and brightest' to teaching
Posted: Dec 7, 2013 7:53 PM
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From The Palo Alto online (Weekly), Monday, October 28, 2013. See
Attracting 'best and brightest' to teaching

Stanford's Hennessy headlines panel on boosting K-12 teaching careers

By Chris Kenrick

SIDEBAR PHOTO: Stanford University junior Julia Quintero, pursuing
majors in history and human biology, formed a campus club for
undergraduates who aspire to careers in K-12 education, particularly
teaching. Photo by Chris Kenrick.
Stanford University President John Hennessy will discuss ways to
attract the nation's brightest students to careers in teaching in a
public panel discussion Tuesday, Oct. 29.

Joining Hennessy on the panel will be California State Board of
Education President Michael Kirst, Dean of Stanford's Graduate School
of Education Claude Steele and Director of the Stanford Teacher
Education Program Rachel Lotan.

The event was organized by Stanford junior Julia Quintero, an
aspiring teacher who formed an undergraduate pre-teaching club on
campus last year.

Quintero, who is pursuing majors in both history and human biology,
said, "I was in the human bio core, which is mostly pre-meds, and
everything was pre-med this and pre-med that and I thought, 'Why not

She said her organization is "trying to spark a national movement
towards drawing the most talented college graduates into careers in
education, particularly teaching."

When she advertised leadership positions in her new club, the
Stanford Pre-Education Society, last winter, Quintero said she was
surprised to get 70 requests for information, and ultimately 20

She approached Hennessy over the summer for help with her idea.

"We wanted someone who has a lot of status and respect to give
legitimacy to the idea that, yeah, Stanford students should totally
go into teaching," she said in an interview on campus Saturday.

She labored over composing just the right email to Hennessy. "Twelve
hours later he replied and he said yes and I said, 'What?' Someone
had told me to think more realistically, but he answered right away."

Quintero said she initially dismissed the idea of teaching when Jared
Friebel, her English teacher at Hinsdale (Ill.) Central High School,
suggested she consider it as a career.

"He helped me realize that the reasons I was brushing it aside
weren't good reasons, like: 'Why should I go to Stanford just to
become a teacher?' 'Why would I waste this degree to become a

"It just comes from pressure from society. You go to an elite school
and teaching just doesn't have any prestige," she said.

"If I say I study public policy in education, that sounds really
prestigious, like, 'Wow, you're making a huge difference.' And it's
true. Policymakers do make a big difference, but I've come to alter
my views on that.

"It's teachers that really make the biggest difference. Studies show
that, and any student could tell you that. What matters most in a
successful class, hands down, is the teacher. It's not technology,
and funding's important, but at the end of the day it's really the
teacher that matters most."

Quintero hopes the Stanford Pre-Education Society will help gain
practical tools and support for aspiring teachers that Stanford
already offers to pre-medical and pre-law students.

"There are a lot of service opportunities and policy talks, but no
one there to give you advice on what should I major in, or which of
the hundreds of service opportunities should I pursue," she said.

Quintero said she hopes to "start a conversation" on ways to
encourage bright students to pursue K-12 teaching careers.

She said she's frustrated over the public debate about ways to assess
teachers so as to identify and remove the bad ones.

"I agree that we should remove bad teachers, but I'm baffled that
most of the conversation in education reform is addressing the
symptom and not addressing the cause of who's going into education in
the first place," she said.

"Why not just attract the best students into teaching careers in the
first place?"

Tuesday's panel discussion, free and open to the public, will be from
6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in CEMEX Auditorium at the Graduate School of
Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
625 Wham Drive
Mail Code 4610
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610
Phone: (618) 453-4241 [O]
(618) 457-8903 [H]
Fax: (618) 453-4244

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