Need a blueprint for recruiting, developing and retaining high quality teachers in your state? Look no further than this report from CA State Superintendent Tom Torlakson's Task Force on Educator Excellence. Drawing on the expertise of educators and thought leaders like Linda Darling-Hammond, the report lays out precisely how states should invest in their teachers and their schools to ensure that every student has access to well-prepared and effective teachers.
In his forward to the report, Torlakson writes that the "sink-or-swim mentality" that dominates our education system – where test scores and accountability rule the day – has left the teaching workforce without the supports it needs:
"Sadly, ours has become a profession under siege. At the very moment the need for outstanding educators seems most urgent, talented teachers are being displaced by budget cuts and discouraged by trying working conditions. Meanwhile, some promising efforts to support teachers have fallen by the wayside. And critics with litlte or no time in a classroom themselves advocate for reducing our life's work to a dry statistical exercise."
In order to develop strong a strong teaching workforce, the report looks abroad to the types of investment that high-performing countries are making in their teachers:
"Nations that currently lead the world in international rankings of student achievement, such as Finland, South Korea and Singapore, attribute their success to substantial investments in teacher and school leader preparation and development," particularly:
- High-quality teacher education
- Mentoring for all beginner teachers
- Ongoing professional learning
- Teacher leadership opportunities
- And equitable and competitive salaries
At the same time, the report recognizes that "great teachers alone cannot guarantee the success of California's school system," or any school system in any state, for that matter. We also need involved parents, effective administrators and school employees, along with adequate resources and supports for children – both in and outside the classroom. We have to support and invest in our whole education system, not just our teachers.