A New Era for Teacher Policy?

By Stephen Sawchuk — January 23, 2009 1 min read

Maybe it’s a little early to read the tea leaves, but we here at Teacher Beat think there might be a lot more attention at the federal level to teacher quality. Why? Well, the confirmation hearing for Arne Duncan focused nearly exclusively on teaching, while the economic-stimulus package has oodles of new funding for teachers.

The last seven years have been mostly a punching bag for the “highly qualified” teacher requirements of the No Child law. Few people would argue those provisions were perfect, but from a conceptual standpoint, Congress made a monumental decision to set a federal teaching standard. Up until that point teacher quality had pretty much been seen as the purview of states and districts.

Now, the teacher-quality discussion is focusing on much more meaty and controversial topics: performance-based pay, tenure reforms, ways of determining effective teaching and improving evaluations. So why the shift?

“Now that there is accountability in education, the attention is turning to how can you help teachers do better,” Jack Jennings, the president of the Center on Education Policy, told me when I called him for some reaction to all this. “The next logical question is whether teachers are being helped to meet the demands of accountability. ... Teacher quality is the next logical addition to the debate.”

What do you think?

A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.