To the Editor:
A strong workforce of skilled, passionate teachers is critical to ensure our students are prepared for college and careers in today’s global economy. Yet, instead of encouraging our best and brightest to lead our nation’s classrooms, we’re driving them away through consistent portrayal of the profession as unappreciated and under attack.
The negativity surrounding such words as evaluations, tenure, testing, and budgets don’t give teacher-trainees like Zachary Branson, who was highlighted in the article, much confidence in their chosen occupation, nor does it entice others to consider teaching as a viable career path. We clearly have a public relations crisis on our hands.
According to the article, enrollment in teacher-preparation programs fell by about 10 percent from 2004 to 2012. Initial data from our member institutions show similar movement.
Given this troubling trend, we as a nation should be doing everything we can to publicly elevate teaching. The future strength of our education workforce depends on it.
With dwindling numbers of strong candidates entering training programs,it’s hard to see much light at the end of the tunnel. But we have the power to open the door for those interested in becoming teachers—the federal Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education, or teach, grants are one example—and to change public perceptions by shifting the narrative.
The real question, as Mary Vixie Sandy, the executive director of the California Commission on Teaching Credentials, put it in the article, is: How do we do this?
Across political lines and ideologies, I think we can all agree on one thing: Teachers are invaluable. That’s what we should be shouting through the airwaves and publishing in our newspapers if we want people to become teachers. There will always be elements of our education system we can improve, but without teachers there will be nothing left to fix.
Sharon P. Robinson
President and Chief Executive Officer
American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education
A version of this article appeared in the November 12, 2014 edition of Education Week as Negativity Clouds the Conversation About Elevating Status of Teaching