To the Editor:
In response to your coverage of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation’s announcement last month of a new program designed to attract strong teacher-candidates to math and science teaching in Indiana, as well as to serve as a national model for teacher education (“Philanthropies Launch Teacher-Training Fellowships,” Dec. 19, 2007):
Each year, 80 teacher fellows will receive a $30,000 stipend to attend one of four universities—Ball State University, Purdue University, the University of Indianapolis, and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis—for a yearlong master’s program. Collaboration by Indiana’s leaders of higher education, government, business, and local schools made possible the state’s selection as a demonstration site for the teacher-fellows program.
The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation’s ability to bring together powerful individuals and organizations in the state and nationally who are willing to make significant investments in the preparation of math and science teachers is indeed impressive. Moreover, such collaboration is essential for sustainable school reform.
As Arthur E. Levine, the president of the foundation, has said, “Research shows that providing excellent teachers is the single most important way to improve student achievement.”
The teacher-fellows program is a significant step in that direction and will help bring the best and the brightest to a profession that is so desperately needed to achieve the states’ economic-development goals and improve America’s global competitiveness.
But ultimately, societal attitudes and willingness to invest in teacher preparation and teachers must change if we hope to keep these students in teaching. In America, no other profession is expected to do so much for so little. I hope the fellowship program becomes part of a sustained national commitment to preparing great teachers for our nation’s schools and keeping them there.
Gerardo M. Gonzalez
School of Education
A version of this article appeared in the January 16, 2008 edition of Education Week as Teacher Fellowships: Only a Partial Solution