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Topic: Stanford Leaders: Raise the status of schoolteachers
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Jerry P. Becker

Posts: 16,576
Registered: 12/3/04
Stanford Leaders: Raise the status of schoolteachers
Posted: Dec 7, 2013 7:58 PM
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From the GSE Intelligencer, Stanford Graduate School of Education,
Wednesday, October 30, 2013.
Raise the status of schoolteachers, Stanford leaders say

President John Hennessy and Dean Claude Steele offer insights on how
to encourage more high-achieving students to seek education careers.

By Brooke Donald

Society needs to place more value on teaching and schools need to
help revamp the teaching career as part of an effort to attract the
most talented students to the field, concluded a panel of experts,
including Stanford President John Hennessy, during a discussion on
jobs in education.

"I think we have to re-professionalize the teaching corps," Hennessy
said. "We have to train great people. I think we, as a society, need
to change as well. We have to put more value on it."

Hennessy joined Claude Steele, dean of Stanford Graduate School of
Education (GSE); Michael Kirst, president of the California State
Board of Education and Stanford professor emeritus of business
administration and of education; and Professor Rachel Lotan, director
of the Stanford Teacher Education Program, for a discussion organized
by the Stanford Pre-Education Society, or SPREES.

Julia Quintero, the founder and president of SPREES, a new club to
encourage and support students interested in education, moderated the
event, which included a roundtable discussion and questions from the

"We understand that careers in education are often overlooked by
students at elite institutions like Stanford," Quintero said. "We are
here to change that. And the first step to change is sparking a

The panelists agreed that low pay and low prestige discourage many
high-achieving students from going into careers in education,
particularly teaching.

Other formidable obstacles include how poorly funded some schools
are, Steele said, which leads to difficult teaching experiences.

"We talk about teachers as if they're supposed to be heroes,
sacrifice themselves," he said. "I think as citizens we need to make
[teaching] a much more attractive situation, a much more
likely-to-succeed situation."

Raising standards for aspiring teachers, evaluating their performance
on the job more effectively and paying them more would certainly help
raise the status of teaching, the panelists said.

Teaching is complex, intellectual work, Lotan said, that "should be
high status, should be paid well."

Having high-quality teachers, Lotan said, is part of creating a
stronger workforce.

"Teaching is the profession that makes all professions possible," she said.

The key to having good teachers is having good preparation programs,
she said. Aspiring teachers who attend highly competitive programs
are better prepared and more satisfied with their careers.

Lotan noted, for example, that teachers from rigorous programs tend
to stay in the profession longer, which ultimately is better for
students. A recent study showed that after five years, when
nationally only about 50 to 60 percent of teachers are still in their
jobs, 75 percent of graduates from the Stanford Teacher Education
Program are still teaching.

Lotan said teaching should be thought of as a political and moral act.

"When we decide why we teach, we are making a political decision,"
Lotan said. "We are expressing our vision and our goal for the future
of society."

And the future of society depends on good teachers, Hennessy argued.

"If we really want to make sure the next generation has the kinds of
opportunities that I think this country can offer, if the ladder that
enables somebody to go from a very poor beginning in a family up to
real achievement in the U.S. is going to be maintained, it's going to
begin in K-12," he said.

"We as a society owe all our young people a decent start at education."

Hennessy noted that many U.S. teachers come from the lower one-third
of their college class compared to teachers in other countries, who
come from the top third.

Getting more undergraduates from schools like Stanford into teaching
could have a profound effect, particularly for lower-resourced
schools that often can't attract the best trained teachers.

However, the panelists noted that teaching is only one of many
possible careers in education for highly talented students.

Kirst listed dozens of companies, nonprofits, think tanks and other
institutions where GSE graduates now work, including the Rand Corp.,
Mozilla Foundation, Apple Inc. and UNESCO. And he mentioned programs
at the school that cater to students interested in careers in policy,
technology and business.

"Education is a gigantic industry," Kirst said.

Steele also emphasized opportunities in research - both as a career
choice but also to help boost the status of education professions. As
in the case of medicine or law, education should be rooted in
research, Steele said.

Research "can revolutionize the approach we take in schools," he said.

The GSE and the Education and Society Theme House at Stanford
co-sponsored the panel.

Quintero said SPREES plans to hold more events throughout the year.

"My classmates so deeply admire you and respect you," she said while
thanking the panelists for their participation in this debut event.
"So to hear you encourage us to pursue careers in education is no
small thing."
SIDEBAR PHOTO: John Hennessy and Claude Steele (Photo: Christopher Wesselman)
SIDEBAR PHOTO: Claude Steele, Michael Kirst, Rachel Lotan (Photo:
Christopher Wesselman)
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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