Democrats for Education Reform released Ticket to Teach today “for the next generation of educators—an “all hands on deck” effort between government, higher education, and the private sector—to create a new social contract with teachers that couples higher expectations and professionalization with commensurate pay, support, and prestige.”

A good first step would be to take seriously what Secretary of Education Arne Duncan calls “The New Normal” and make a serious and determined effort to better deploy dozens of programs already on the books,i which are incredibly—frankly, embarrassingly—unknown, underutilized, or ineffective:

• hundreds of millions of dollars in available federal loan forgiveness for teachers who serve in high-need schools, specialties (e.g., bilingual and special education) and subject areas (math and science). This is voluntary differential pay that does not require changes in contracts;

• federal tuition scholarships of up to $4,000 per year (i.e., “TEACH”)—3 years old and still not fully implemented—to recruit the best and brightest to hard-to-staff schools and disciplines;

• income-contingent loan repayment for teachers, with smaller monthly payments and a complete write-off of any existing balances after 10 years of service for all teachers.

• un-enforced and underdeveloped accountability provisions under the Higher Education Act that require states to identify low-performing schools of education and take appropriate corrective action, including ultimately shutting down the poorest performers.

Under “Ticket to Teach,” the White House and the U.S, Department of Education would “focus, repackage and systematize existing resources to recruit, train, and support prospective and existing teachers.”

This is a pragmatic forward leaning proposal that warrants bipartisan support.

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Tom Vander Ark is author of Difference Making at the Heart of Learning, The Power of Place, Better Together, Smart Parents, Smart Cities and Getting Smart. He is co-founder of Getting Smart and serves on the boards of Education Board Partners, 4.0 Schools, Digital Learning Institute, Latinx Education Collaborative, Mastery Transcript Consortium and eduInnovation. Follow Tom on Twitter, @tvanderark.



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