Teachers Column

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A number of participants in the federal government's Teacher Corps program of the late 1960's and 1970's are forming a national network of program alumni to help stimulate the recruitment and retention of minority teachers.

The Institute for Educational Leadership in Washington is coordinating the effort, which last November received a $30,000 start-up grant from the Hazen Foundation.

The idea is to "mobilize" Teacher Corps alumni, encourage them to develop local projects specifically designed to recruit minority-group members into teaching, and establish a system to disseminate ideas and tactics that have worked, said James P. Steffensen, director of the project, known as the Teacher Corps Alumni Network.

"The general goal," he said, "is to create a network of a couple thousand people who will share through a number of vehicles what they are doing and what they would like to do to get more minority kids into and through college, and into the teaching profession."

Already, 400 Teacher Corps alumni have said they want to participate. "We think we can find at least 2,000 who want to be involved," said Mr. Steffensen, who was associate director of the Teachers Corps program from 1970 to 1983, when it was discontinued.

The federally funded program sought to involve universities, school districts, and local communities in efforts to improve public education in areas with concentrations of "at risk" students. The participating universities prepared Teacher Corps interns and sent them into the schools.

More than 240 universities, 480 school systems, and 10,155 interns participated in the program during its 15-year life.

Governors can act now to prepare for the voluntary, national certification of teachers, according to a booklet written by Gov. Thomas H. Kean of New Jersey and scheduled to be released this month by the National Governors' Association.

In it, Mr. Kean advises his fellow governors:

Not to make board certification a prerequisite for a state license to teach. The "forward-looking" teacher certificate would not pass court standards, he said.

Demand teacher licensing that is based on performance in the classroom.

Offer to deregulate teacher education, but insist on greater quality in return.

Make sure alternate-route teachers are equipped to earn national-board certification, if needed, by providing opportunities for continued study.

Anticipate the equity problems that may result if wealthy districts are able to recruit large numbers of board-certified teachers, while poor districts cannot.--lo & br

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