CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today told students from the University of Virginia's Curry School of Education that they are answering a call that is as important as any career available to them now and in the future. The Obama administration, said Secretary Duncan, sees elevating the teaching profession and expanding the pool of talent as critical to closing the achievement gap and promoting the nation's long-term prosperity.
"Today's teachers and aspiring teachers in our colleges of education can help transform the lives of their students by boosting student learning and helping them access higher education and new economic opportunities. We need the next generation to answer the call to teach," Secretary Duncan said. "The single most important factor influencing student learning in our nation's schools is the quality of teaching. Students who have teachers who know their content and how to teach it effectively achieve substantially more than their peers who do not."
The Department of Education estimates a national need for 1.7 million new teachers by 2017 due to anticipated retirements and attrition. Included in the president's fiscal 2010 budget request is $30 million to support a national teacher recruitment campaign. If approved by Congress, the Department of Education would support the teaching profession by launching a comprehensive effort to recruit and provide support for students and professionals from other fields to become teachers. The campaign also would support the development of training programs to help candidates become qualified to teach, and provide information on alternative routes to enter the profession for nontraditional candidates.
Secretary Duncan will speak with teachers and teacher candidates three times this month. On Oct. 20, he will convene a group of at least 50 teachers from the Washington, D.C., metro region for a nationally broadcast virtual town hall meeting on the topic of elevating the teaching profession. He will also address the needs of the nation's colleges of education during a speech at the Teachers College at Columbia University in New York on Oct. 22.