Secretary of Education William J. Bennett’s plan for a $75-million program “to improve the quality of the teaching profession” marks an apparent change of thinking for him on the appropriate federal role in teacher education.
In an August 1985 interview with Education Week, he indicated that federal initiatives to alleviate the expected teacher shortage were unlikely.
Questions of teacher quality and quantity, while a nationwide problem, he said in the interview, remain “largely, almost exclusively, a local situation,” best confronted by state and local governments.
But an Education Department budget document calls the aims of the proposal, one of the few new initiatives in its $15.2-billion fiscal 1987 budget request, an “appropriate” federal activity.
The goal of the “teacher training and improvement act” is “to help teachers in all disciplines gain additional expertise, to encourage and recognize outstanding teachers, and to encourage qualified persons from other professions to enter teaching,” Mr. Bennett said at a press conference last week.
The proposal would provide $60- million in state grants to finance in-service training for teachers and administrators, retraining for teachers in new subjects, and programs for professionals in other fields who wish to become teachers.
If these needs are being met, states could use the funds to improve preservice teacher-education programs; that is a “secondary objective” of the proposal, says a department budget document.
The Secretary would reserve $15-million in discretionary money.
Technically, the proposal would amend the Education for Economic Security Act, which requires the department to target $43.1 million in teacher-training funds for mathematics and science. Mr. Bennett’s proposal, for which legislation must be introduced and enacted, would involve teachers from all disciplines.
Mr. Bennett’s proposal would also consolidate the new $7.2-million Leadership in Educational Administration program for school administrators and $1.9 million for teacher training in U.S. territories.
A version of this article appeared in the February 12, 1986 edition of Education Week as Budget Proposals: Bennett Asks $75 Million for New Teacher-Training Bill