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NEA Seeks Corporate Support for Teacher Recruitment Campaign
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The National Education Association (NEA) is talking with at least one major business about supporting a nationwide teacher-recruitment campaign. The multi-faceted approach to recruitment and retention also would include efforts to raise teachers' salaries and improve alternate certification programs. Included: Descriptions of short- and long-term teacher recruitment programs.


The National Education Association (NEA) is laying the groundwork for a national teacher recruitment campaign, which would be developed in partnership with at least one major U.S. corporation.

One part of the program likely would involve direct advertising to teachers, similar to the U.S. Army recruitment campaign of "Be All You Can Be," according to John I. Wilson, executive director of the NEA. Another long-term effort could involve introducing middle- and high-school students to teaching careers through school curriculums.

The nation already has a teacher shortage and, in the next six years, will see a large exodus of teachers, mostly due to retirement, Wilson told Education World. The NEA wants to start working now to fill those gaps. Corporations are a natural choice to help, he said.

"The business community understands that quality education is a major factor in quality economic development," Wilson said. "One thing I've learned in working with businesses is that you have to be very exact about what you need. When it comes to what programs really work, they don't know. But they are willing to invest in good ideas. So what we want to do is partner with business to implement some good ideas for teacher recruitment and for preparing the next generation of teachers," Wilson added.

NEA staff also may approach theAmerican Federation of Teachers (AFT), to see if that organization would like to participate in the recruitment program. The AFT has worked with the business community in the past, and is interested in the NEA recruitment proposal, Jamie Horwitz, an AFT spokesman, told Education World.

HOME-GROWING TEACHERS

The plan NEA officials are discussing would include corporate funding for exploratory education courses starting in middle school, and for high school education courses that students could receive college credit for. Studies have shown that sixth and seventh grade is a critical time in terms of career decisions, Wilson said. "One of the things we know about kids is that at the middle-school level, they decide what they are not going to be."

The NEA can provide curriculum for these programs, technical assistance, support, and training, but the organization does not have the personnel or financial resources to pay people to teach them, according to Wilson. Corporate funding could help school systems cover the cost of teaching the courses, he said. Negotiations for corporate support are ongoing.

Although the teacher curriculum programs are a long-term solution to the teacher shortage, it is critical that school systems try to grow their own teachers, because most teachers work within 75 miles of where they grew up, according to Wilson.

The NEA also plans to work with the Community Teachers Institute, a privately funded organization whose goal is to recruit and retain teachers for urban school districts. Among the approaches planned by that organization are working with teacher education programs, developing professional development programs to help teachers deal with issues in urban school systems, and establishing a clearinghouse for organizations that are "home-growing" teachers, Community Teachers Institute executive director Segun Eubanks told Education World.

RETENTION, ALTERNATE PROGRAMS NEED WORK TOO

Another facet of the NEA recruitment effort is a campaign for higher salaries that would attract and retain quality teachers. "A lot of teachers who are licensed to teach choose not to," Wilson said. "They will come back if we pay them well, treat them as professionals, and provide supportive leadership."

Strengthening alternate certification programs also is on the agenda; the retention rate for those who choose teaching as a second career is about 30 percent. "They need much more help in preparation," according to Wilson.