Recruitment & Retention

Sen. Bennet’s Mysterious Teacher Bill

By Stephen Sawchuk — June 09, 2010 1 min read
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Over at Politics K-12, Alyson Klein has a very interesting item up about Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., who recently introduced a school-turnaround bill. While some folks are poring over that, though, here in the teacher-quality universe the question on the table is: What the heck happened to Bennet’s teacher bill?

For months, the senator was said to be working on a teacher-quality bill that would no doubt have generated a lot of attention, given his closeness to the current administration on education issues. As the former superintendent in Denver, he’s also had a lot of experience working with teachers.

For now, this bill seems to be on the backburner. Alyson surmises that may be because of his precarious position in the upcoming elections and a desire to avoid tension with core constituencies like teachers’ unions.

We do, however, have a few clues as to what might be in this bill. A few months ago, at a Center for American Progress event, I asked Bennet to talk a bit more about it, and here’s what he had to say:

I think that work is principally going to revolve around how we think about Title II [of the ESEA] and whether we think that Title II is really a very effective use of resources or whether there might be other ways to use it to engage our teachers, to engage more senior teachers as master teachers to bring people into the profession.
I think we need to think very strongly about alternative licensure regimes in this country so that we're getting the benefit of all the talent that we have in the United States of America to do the most important work that we have."

That’s pretty broad stuff, but in her item Alyson notes that one proposal floating around was the idea of a national teacher license to ease teachers’ ability to work across state lines and create a larger pool of talent for hard-to-staff schools or subject areas. This sounds quite similar to the America’s Teacher Corps idea proposed by a high-powered group of scholars not long ago.

Interestingly, in a recent paper, Linda Darling-Hammond, an education professor much beloved by teachers’ colleges, also floated the idea of a national teaching license predicated on a performance-based teacher assessment. The idea apparently also has support from the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education and the National Education Association, which commissioned the paper.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.