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2 Foundations Create National Panel on Teaching

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Two foundations with strong track records in supporting education reform last week announced a new national commission for improving teaching and teacher development.

The National Commission on Teaching and America's Future is chaired by Gov. James B. Hunt Jr. of North Carolina. Its 26 members include officials from higher education, business, labor, and state government, as well as teachers and administrators.

The two foundations--the Rockefeller Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation of New York--contributed $1.2 million and $400,000, respectively, to underwrite the panel's work.

The commission began its work last week with a full-day conference in New York City, the first in a series of meetings to be held over the next 18 months. By fall 1996, the panel expects to publish a report on improving teaching and teacher development.

"So much is happening in the field, but it's really time to start pulling it all together," said Linda Darling-Hammond, a professor of education at Teachers College, Columbia University, who is the panel's executive director.

A new report by Ms. Darling-Hammond on the status of teaching in the United States was the basis for the group's first discussions. The study found that many newly hired teachers are underprepared in teaching theory and subject matter--and that the lack of training is most obvious in urban schools.

Those piecemeal teaching reforms have not been linked across the stages of a teacher's career, the report also notes.

The panel will explore ways of doing that and, in the process, try to convince policymakers and the public that better preparation of teachers is critical to lasting success in education reform.

"The commission will draw from the best ideas and models that have been created around the country to develop a blueprint for recruiting, training, and supporting excellent teachers," David Hamburg, the president of the Carnegie Corporation, said in a statement last week.

The commission is expected to generate concrete ideas, "not a laundry list of things to do," Ms. Darling-Hammond said.

It is expected to:

  • Make a case for teacher development as the key to improving schools;
  • Suggest ways to recruit, prepare, induct, and support teachers that will meet new standards and reflect new knowledge about teaching and learning;
  • Develop an agenda for connecting reforms in teacher education, licensing, certification, and accreditation with local, state, and federal school reforms; and
  • Prepare a strategy for enlisting policymakers and others in efforts to improve teaching.

Panel members pointed to the creation of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards--a private effort to certify expert teachers--as an inspiration for their work. (See Education Week, 11/09/94.)

That board was established in 1987, following recommendations by a task force convened by the Carnegie Corporation. That panel suggested that rigorous standards for teaching would result in greater professionalism.

The teaching commission draws on some of the forces that shaped the earlier effort. Governor Hunt is also the chairman of the teaching-standards board. James Kelly, the standards board's president, is a commission member.

'The Timing Is Right'

"We're trying to bring wider public awareness to these developments," said Arthur Wise, the president of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.

A projected boom in teacher hiring over the next decade provides a dramatic backdrop for the commission's efforts.

The "graying" of the teacher workforce will require districts to hire some 200,000 teachers a year in the near future, according to Ms. Darling-Hammond's study.

Ms. Darling-Hammond, a critic of some alternative-certification programs, said urban and poor rural school systems are the most likely to hire underprepared teachers. (See Education Week, 11/09/94.)

"The timing is right for this work, and the commission is ready to focus on the issues where it really counts," she said.

Commission Members:

  • David Boren, president, University of Oklahoma
  • Ivy H. Chan, elementary school teacher, Olympia, Wash.
  • James Comer, Maurice Falk Professor of Child Psychiatry, Child Study Center, Yale University
  • Ernesto Cortes Jr., president, the Industrial Areas Foundation
  • Ramon C. Cortines, chancellor, New York City public schools
  • William Demmert, education professor, Western Washington University
  • Jim Edgar, Governor of Illinois
  • Delores Escobar, dean, college of education, San Jose (Calif.) State University
  • Norman Francis, president, Xavier University of Louisiana
  • Keith Geiger, president, National Education Association
  • Christine Gutierrez, high school teacher, Los Angeles
  • James B. Hunt Jr., Governor of North Carolina
  • James Kelly, president, National Board for Professional Teaching Standards
  • Juanita McDonald, assemblywoman, California
  • Lynne Miller, director, Southern Maine partnership, University of Southern Maine
  • Damon Moore, coordinator, Chapter 1, Richmond, Ind.
  • Annette N. Morgan, chairwoman, education committee, Missouri House of Representatives
  • J. Richard Munro, chairman, executive committee, Time Warner Inc., American Television and Communication Corporation
  • Hugh B. Price, president, National Urban League Inc.
  • David Rockefeller Jr., chairman, Rockefeller Financial Services
  • Ted Sanders, state superintendent of public instruction, Ohio
  • Albert Shanker, president, American Federation of Teachers
  • Lynn Stuart, principal, Cambridge, Mass., public schools
  • Robert Wehling, senior vice president, Procter & Gamble Company
  • Arthur E. Wise, president, National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education
  • Richard Wisniewski, dean, school of education, University of Tennessee

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