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New Panel's Goal: To Make Teaching 'True Profession'

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The Carnegie Forum on Education and the Economy this week announced the appointment of a 14-member panel to develop within the next year a "blueprint to make teaching a true profession."

Leaders of the two major teachers' unions, business leaders, and policymakers will serve on the new "Task Force on Teaching as a Profession," which will be headed by Lewis M. Branscomb, chief scientist of the International Business Machines Corporation.

Stem Decline in Quality

According to David A. Hamburg, president of the Carnegie Corporation of New York and chairman of the Carnegie Forum, the new task force will make recommendations next spring on how to prevent "a decline in the quality of education" that threatens to accompany the impending teacher shortage. And he said the foundation is prepared to provide support to help implement the recommendations.

Dr. Hamburg said in a statement that "strong consideration will be given to innovative ideas recently put forward to strengthen the teaching profession, including proposals for new teacher examinations, new approaches to teacher education, and ideas for restructuring the organization of the workforce and teacher compensation."

The Carnegie Forum--a group of educators, policymakers, scientists, and business leaders that is studying educational issues and their relationship to the U.S. economy--was established by the Carnegie Corporation early this year. A multi-million-dollar initiative, the forum is scheduled to continue its work for a decade. (See Education Week, Jan. 30, 1985.)

Teachers' 'Central Role'

The establishment of the task force on teaching closely follows two other important developments in the movement to reform the teaching profession.

In February, the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education issued a report calling for rigorous teacher-training programs. And in a major speech in January, Albert Shanker, president of the American Federation of Teachers, called for the establishment of an "American Board of Professional Education" and suggested that all new teachers be required to take a rigorous national examination. Mr. Shanker is a member of the new task force.

"The task force is being created in recognition of the central role teachers play in the quality of education," Dr. Hamburg said in the prepared statement.

The impending teacher shortage and the lowering of standards that has in the past accompanied such shortages suggest that an intensive effort to address the problems of the teaching profession must be undertaken, Dr. Hamburg said.

"The quality of teachers appointed in the next 10 years," he said, "will be a crucial factor in determining the quality of American education for decades to come."

Will Support Proposals

Dr. Hamburg said the Carnegie Corporation is prepared to provide funds for the task force's proposals that require major research or development initiatives--"for example, the creation of a new teacher examination," he said in the statement.

"We intend," said Mr. Branscomb, the chairman of the panel, "to put on the table major proposals for action to provide a blueprint for policymakers and the American people that has the potential to make teaching a true profession."

Mr. Branscomb added that the "time is ripe to rethink the basic arrangements we have for attracting top-flight people into teaching."

"Drawing people to teaching who might otherwise become doctors, lawyers, business managers, or computer scientists will require turning teaching into a profession that offers rewards comparable to those found in other professions," he said.

Examine Structure

According to Marc S. Tucker, executive director of the Carnegie Forum, the task force will examine the structure of other professions to see what aspects of education, training, certification, and licensing might be adapted to teaching.

The work of the task force may take two to three years to complete, Mr. Tucker added, but the initial set of major policy proposals will be presented in the spring of 1986 at the first annual meeting of the Carnegie Forum. Following that meeting, he said, the forum's staff will be available to provide technical assistance to states and localities as they consider implementing policies proposed by the task force.

The Task Force on Teaching as a Profession will be one of the principal activities of the Carnegie Forum and will have "a major claim on our budget resources," Mr. Tucker said. The budget for the Carnegie forum this year is $600,000.

A.F.T. 'Gratified'

Mr. Shanker said the aft "is gratified" by the establishment of the task force.

"I think the issues Carnegie has chosen--a rigorous exam for teachers that sets a high standard for entry into the profession; the restructuring of roles, responsibilities, and compensation arrangements for teachers; and new productivity and finance strategies--are the major issues in professionalizing teaching," he said.

The success of the task force, according to Mary Hatwood Futrell, president of the National Education Association and a member of the group, will depend on "whether it will be willing to deal with the cutting edge of reform, which is raising the base pay and improving working conditions."

She said that it would be "premature" for her to discuss the teacher examination mentioned in the Carnegie Forum's statement until the group has a chance to discuss it.

Ms. Futrell added that she will push this summer at the nea's annual convention for the representative assembly to adopt a stronger statement on the testing issue.

"The teachers need to determine what the criteria are going to be," she said.

David G. Imig, executive director of aacte, said he is "concerned" that there is only one representative of colleges of education on the task force, but that "our representative, Judith Lanier, is one of the best-informed people on teacher education in the country."

He added that he is optimistic about the impact the task force will have on the teaching profession.

"It is going to take a response by corporate America to change the conditions of teaching and that will lead to changes in the profession," he said.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Bill Honig of California, who was also named to the task force, commented last week that its establishment is "a very healthy move."

"We have got to come to some agreement on how teachers should be educated," he said. "If we have a more ambitious program for students, you have to transfer that into what teachers know."

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