Train Teachers Like Doctors

Shael Polakow-Suransky, Josh Thomases, and Karen DeMoss

The New York Times

July 8, 2016

America is facing a wave of teacher shortages that threatens our ability to deliver on the promise of quality education. Baby boomer retirements and high rates of teacher turnover, coupled with steep drops in enrollment in teacher-preparation programs, have contributed to this growing crisis. Some states, like California, now have shortages in nearly every subject area, affecting students across the state.

State legislatures and school districts have responded with shortsighted policies that lower the bar for new teachers, making it easier to enter the profession, which has paved the way for more people with little or no training to become teachers. As has been the case for decades, these policies will hit children in poverty hardest because they are disproportionately assigned teachers with the weakest preparation.

While a number of these teachers will find their way and go on to transform the lives of the children they teach, we know that teachers with little preparation have the hardest time helping students learn. They also leave the profession faster, which creates a revolving door in precisely the schools that need stability. We subsidize these systemic failures with public dollars, spending $2.2 billion annually to replace teachers who leave their jobs.