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
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

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
Budget & Finance Webinar
The ABCs of ESSER: How to Make the Most of Relief Funds Before They Expire
Join a diverse group of K-12 experts to learn how to leverage federal funds before they expire and improve student learning environments.
Content provided by Johnson Controls
Science K-12 Essentials Forum How To Teach STEM Problem Solving Skills to All K-12 Students
Join experts for a look at how experts are integrating the teaching of problem solving and entrepreneurial thinking into STEM instruction.
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
Modernizing Principal Support: The Road to More Connected and Effective Leaders
When principals are better equipped to lead, support, and maintain high levels of teaching and learning, outcomes for students are improved.
Content provided by BetterLesson

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated: April 27, 2022
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read
Education Briefly Stated: April 6, 2022
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: March 30, 2022
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
6 min read
Education Briefly Stated: March 16, 2022
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
7 min read