Here’s the intro to an AEI discussion on teacher supply next week; it’s a good summary of the challenge:
Today’s most successful K–12 schools have a voracious appetite for talent. Indeed, successful charter school networks—like KIPP and Achievement First—are perhaps most notable for their ability to create a “no excuses” culture staffed with talented, passionate, and hard-working recruits. Given that the nation’s public schools employ more than 3.3 million teachers, reform strategies based on these successful models quickly run into questions about how many superstar teachers can be found and how long they will teach. In short, the very strategies that have fueled the success of some of America’s most admired schools may not be feasible nationwide. Such issues are particularly relevant in light of the Obama administration’s new Innovation Fund, intended to support efforts to replicate these successful ventures. Teachers may be the most important element of an effective school, but must K–12 improvement wait on the ability of schools or systems to recruit, nurture, and retain outstanding teachers? Can reformers and practitioners devise ways to increase this pool of talent or devise highly effective school models that are less reliant on standout teachers? What do these human capital challenges mean for charter schooling, district reformers, and teacher education?
Doubling state math graduation requirements in effect doubles the number of qualified math teachers we need in US high schools. Hess suggests there’s no way we’ll meet the need in a traditional way. When we discussed this last week, Rick and I agreed that we’d need to (and soon be able to) augment an improving teacher corps with engaging adaptive content (ie, World of Warcraft for science) as well as extending the reach of the best teachers (e.g., iTunes U). It should be a good discussion.