Will America find enough good teachers to staff its public schools? How can we ensure that all our children will be taught by skilled professionals? The policies that determine who teaches today are a confusing and often conflicting array that includes tougher licensing requirements, higher salaries, mandatory master’s degrees, merit pay, and alternative routes to certification. Who Will Teach? examines these policies and separates those that work from those that backfire.
The authors present an intriguing portrait of America’s teachers and reveal who they are, who they have been, and who they will be. Using innovative statistical methods to track the professional lives of more than 50,000 college graduates, the book describes, in many cases for the first time, just how prospective, current, and former teachers respond to the incentives and disincentives they face. The authors, a group of noted educators, economists, and statisticians, find cause for serious concern. Few academically talented college graduates even try teaching, and many of those who do leave quickly, never to return. Current licensing requirements stifle innovation in training and dissuade many potentially talented teachers at the outset.
But Who Will Teach? shows that we can reverse these trends if we get the incentives right. Although better salaries are essential, especially for new teachers, money is not enough. Potential teachers should be offered alternative paths into the classroom. School districts should improve their recruiting strategies. Licensing criteria should assess teaching skills, not just academic achievement and number of courses completed. The authors offer a promising strategy based on high standards and substantial rewards.