Obama on Teacher Quality

May 29, 2008 | Blog

While teacher quality didn’t make into much of the media coverage of Senator Obama, the topic was featured prominently in yesterday’s speech on education. He discusses teacher residency programs, mentoring programs, differentiated compensation, and career ladders.

It would be nice to have a president in the White House who understands that it takes more than just accountability and testing to improve schools. It requires preparing teachers better throughout their careers, recruiting more qualified candidates into the profession, providing leadership opportunities, increasing and reforming teacher compensation, and stripping away classroom isolation by supporting teachers during their initial years in the profession.

Here’s an excerpt:

To prepare our teachers, I will create more Teacher Residency Programs to train 30,000 high-quality teachers a year. We know these programs work, and they especially help attract talented individuals who decide to become teachers midway through their careers. Right here in [Mapleton Expeditionary School of the Arts], you have excellent teachers like Ike Ogbuike, who became a math teacher after working as an auto-engineer at Ford and completing a one-year, teacher-residency program.

“To support our teachers, we will expand mentoring programs that pair experienced, successful teachers with new recruits — one of the most effective ways to retain teachers. We’ll also make sure that teachers work in conditions which help them and our children succeed. For example, here at MESA, teachers have scheduled common planning time each week and an extra hour every Tuesday and Thursday for mentoring and tutoring students that need additional help.

“And when our teachers do succeed in making a real difference in our children’s lives, I believe it’s time we rewarded them for it. I realize that the teachers in Denver are in the middle of tough negotiations right now, but what they’ve already proven is that it’s possible to find new ways to increase teacher pay that are developed with teachers, not imposed on them.

“My plan would provide resources to try these innovative programs in school districts all across America. Under my Career Ladder Initiative, these districts will be able to design programs that reward accomplished educators who serve as mentors to new teachers with the salary increase they deserve. They can reward those who teach in underserved areas or teachers who take on added responsibilities, like you do right here at MESA. And if teachers acquire additional knowledge and skills to serve students better — if they consistently excel in the classroom — that work can be valued and rewarded as well.

It would be nice to have a president in the White House who understands that it takes more than just accountability and testing to improve schools. It requires preparing teachers better throughout their careers, recruiting more qualified candidates into the profession, providing leadership opportunities, increasing and reforming teacher compensation, and stripping away classroom isolation by supporting teachers during their initial years in the profession.

1 Comment

  1. Reply

    Linda Foster

    June 7, 2008

    Hello Liam,

    I serve Washington State as Teacher Assistance Program Coordinator for the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. We met earlier this year at the NTC Symposium during your policy presentation.

    During your presentation, you provided a CD of slides that proved very helpful in making the case for high quality induction. I am hoping you will be able to forward those slides to me for a policy proposal I am working on this weekend.

    I've just applied for consideration for NORTI, but don't think that route can be approved in time for my needs.

    I am looking specifically for the slide you shared which contrasted the increase in effectiveness (in terms of student achievement gains) of beginning teachers who had the benefit of comprehensive induction versus teachers who hadn't. This information was communicated in a graph of the first few years of these teachers' careers.

    Thank you, in advance, for any assistance you are able to provide.

    Linda Foster
    linda.foster@k12.wa.us


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