To the Editor:
We have been reading about the new admissions standards—higher sat scores and high school grade point averages—recently adopted by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation, or CAEP (“Teacher-Prep Accreditor Adopts Outcomes Standards,” Sept. 11, 2013), but very little about their consequences. Specifically, by the year 2020, there will be a serious teacher shortage, especially in the more demanding subject areas of mathematics and science.
Fortunately, there is time to take the necessary steps to turn this shortage into a meaningful education reform that will improve the quality and broaden the racial demographics of the individuals who enter the teaching profession.
There is little doubt that the pool of future “qualified” applicants will shrink significantly unless the federal and state governments step in with incentives to encourage the entrance of high school graduates who previously shunned teaching because of the cost of four to six years of college and graduate school and the prospect of low career earnings.
But here is where government can do something: It can implement a policy to forgive student loans for those college students who attend programs that meet all of CAEP’s more rigorous admission standards, graduate in no more than five years, pass state certification examinations, and are employed by schools that agree to meet another of the council’s new standards, namely showing the “value added” in student learning.
It is generally accepted that the teacher is the key (controllable) element in a student’s success, as compared with the role of parents and a student’s poverty level. Since few disagree that education is the best vehicle for reducing income inequality and promoting opportunity—factors which contribute mightily to our country’s future—forgiving student loans for the most-qualified Americans to encourage them to enter the field of education seems a very small national investment, especially since loan forgiveness is contingent upon individuals’ fulfillment of their responsibilities.
Marc F. Bernstein
New York, N.Y.
The writer is an adjunct faculty member at Fordham University’s graduate school of education in New York City. He is also a retired district superintendent.
A version of this article appeared in the October 09, 2013 edition of Education Week as To Expand Pool of Good Teachers, Tie Loan Breaks to New Standards