To the Editor:
Your story on the new Teacher Advancement Program Foundation (“Milken Launches New Foundation,” May 4, 2005.) noted correctly that the foundation aims to further the No Child Left Behind Act’s goal of ensuring a quality teacher for every classroom. It is worth noting, however, that TAP’s strategy for revitalizing the teaching profession was introduced by Lowell Milken in 1999, well before the law even was being debated.
The article also quotes Southeast Center for Teaching Quality President Barnett Berry’s hope that the TAP Foundation will “focus on effective, systemic change.” He needn’t worry. TAP is distinguished from piecemeal school reforms of the past precisely because it is a comprehensive, research-based, whole-school reform that integrates in one systemic program multiple career paths, continuous professional growth, instructionally focused accountability, and performance-based compensation.
Mr. Berry also expresses concern about professional development being “imposed on teachers by outside groups.” In TAP, school leadership teams made up of administrators, master teachers, and mentor teachers select and lead the professional-development activities for their school, based on the needs of their students and teachers. Any outside professional development is chosen by each TAP school’s own leadership team.
Before becoming involved with the program four years ago, I served as a principal and a teacher. In the time that I have been involved with TAP, I have observed firsthand a reduction in teacher turnover and a rise in student achievement. In short, TAP has provided the professional support that is desperately needed to make accountability work.
J. Todd White
The writer is the national training director for the Teacher Advancement Program Foundation, which has its headquarters in Santa Monica, Calif.