The Obama administration—which has clashed with some in the teaching profession over issues such as merit pay and evaluations—is launching a national teacher-recruitment campaign, complete with a website that offers information on how to enter the field.
President Barack Obama spoke about the effort on NBC’s “Today” show last week, telling Matt Lauer that the administration would, in particular, like to recruit 10,000 new mathematics and science teachers over the next two years.
“We have to boost performance in that area,” the president said. The nation “used to rank at the top; we are now 21st in science, 25th in math. That is a sign of long-term decline that has to be reversed.”
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan picked up that recruitment theme on MSNBC later the same day, in a conversation with journalist Tom Brokaw and college students interested in the education field.
Mr. Brokaw pointed out that teachers nationwide are being hit with layoffs, and wondered if the career prospects are really that great for new college graduates.
“It’s a little bit tough short-term,” Secretary Duncan acknowledged. But he said that, as the economy bounces back, teachers are going to be in demand. “This is going to be a booming sector of the economy,” he said.
Mr. Brokaw wanted to know why a college student would want to get tangled up in the debate between teachers’ unions and “reformers”—to which the secretary responded that the differences aren’t as pronounced as people might think.
The administration also is interested in getting new teachers to work in high-need schools, and in subjects with shortages of qualified instructors, including science, technology, engineering, and math, as well as to serve English-language learners and students in special education. In addition, the department hopes to attract a more diverse workforce, particularly minority males.
And it is partnering with Facebook to create an interactive section on its Teach Facebook page that would link current teachers with those interested in working in the profession.
A version of this article appeared in the October 06, 2010 edition of Education Week as Obama Seeking Teacher Recruits