Find your next job fast at the Jan. 28 Virtual Career Fair. Register now.
Opinion
Education Letter to the Editor

We Must Make Teaching a First Choice, Not a Fallback Plan for New Graduates

December 08, 2008 1 min read

To the Editor:

Barbara Beatty is dead-on in her Commentary “How the Bad Economy Could Produce Better Teachers” (Nov. 12, 2008). Tough economic times usually see an increased interest in teaching, not only by professionals who need other options, but also, from the start, among undergraduates considering career possibilities. This has always been true. The Great Depression was the first time in U.S. history when a majority of the nation’s teachers held bachelor’s degrees because many college graduates back then suddenly “discovered” teaching as other doors closed.

Ms. Beatty is also quite right that one of the hurdles for teacher recruitment is the perceived low status of the profession. Until we raise its prestige, we will not make real progress in getting candidates of all ages and levels of experience to see teaching as a first choice, and not a fallback plan or a brief stint of service before the “real thing” comes along.

This may be the very moment to mount a concerted campaign to elevate teaching. The job market is leading many who might not otherwise have thought about it to consider teaching. At the same time, programs that promote teaching as a valued and lasting career are expanding. Teaching fellowships that include a stipend, innovative preparation, and ongoing mentoring—available to both college students and career-changers—are already being launched by my organization, other foundations, and many individual universities. President-elect Barack Obama, constrained though his national resources currently may be, outlined a similar teaching-fellowship approach in the education platform of his campaign.

This is an important time to showcase teaching as a genuinely valued first choice for talented college students and second-career professionals alike. The question will be whether the institutions still most responsible for preparing the nation’s teachers—education schools and the universities that house them—are willing to make teacher preparation a priority and raise funds for the kind of groundbreaking merit scholarships Ms. Beatty describes.

James W. Fraser

New York, N.Y.

The writer is the senior vice president for programs at the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, in Princeton, N.J., and a professor of history and education at New York University.

A version of this article appeared in the December 10, 2008 edition of Education Week as We Must Make Teaching a First Choice, Not a Fallback Plan for New Graduates

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Branding Matters. Learn From the Pros Why and How
Learn directly from the pros why K-12 branding and marketing matters, and how to do it effectively.
Content provided by EdWeek Top School Jobs
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
How to Make Learning More Interactive From Anywhere
Join experts from Samsung and Boxlight to learn how to make learning more interactive from anywhere.
Content provided by Samsung
Teaching Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table With Education Week: How Educators Can Respond to a Post-Truth Era
How do educators break through the noise of disinformation to teach lessons grounded in objective truth? Join to find out.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

BASE Program Site Director
Thornton, CO, US
Adams 12 Five Star Schools
Director of Information Technology
Montpelier, Vermont
Washington Central UUSD
Great Oaks AmeriCorps Fellow August 2021 - June 2022
New York City, New York (US)
Great Oaks Charter Schools
Director of Athletics
Farmington, Connecticut
Farmington Public Schools

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: January 13, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Obituary In Memory of Michele Molnar, EdWeek Market Brief Writer and Editor
EdWeek Market Brief Associate Editor Michele Molnar, who was instrumental in launching the publication, succumbed to cancer.
5 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: December 9, 2020
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of articles from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read