This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Rachael Gerendasy.
The nation’s top education leader urged teachers across the country to embrace the growth of alternative training programs like Teach for America and strive toward a common strategy of high-quality instruction.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said Monday in the Marvin Center that graduate degree-holding educators must abandon an “us vs. them” mentality to focus on preparing a generation of students that can compete in a global workforce.
“We have one common enemy, and it is academic failure,” Duncan said. “Not everyone may agree, but I am for different routes into teaching, whether it be traditional schools of education like GW or alternative routes that bring great talent in from other walks of life.”
The secretary, speaking with Graduate School of Education and Human Development Dean Michael Feuer and other experts, has made similar appeals at GW in the past.
Duncan and the other members of the panel aimed to recruit students for teaching jobs as part of a nationwide Department of Education campaign, which will visit 21 college campuses to encourage high-achieving students to become educators after graduation.
Duncan said public education was the only way to shrink the nation’s income gap, calling the system an instrument of “social justice.”
“Right now, we are dealing with very significant, sad bit of data that we have allowed income inequality in this country to go way out of control,” he said. “Education is one of the areas that is suffering the most from this, and also the area where we have the best chance of trying to address it and maybe even reverse it.”
GW sent the fifth-most graduates to Teach For America out of any medium-sized school this year. More than 300 graduates have entered the program over the last two decades.
Education reformers have criticized the program for sending 20-somethings with five weeks of training into the classroom. But Duncan said hard work and effective teaching outweigh a teacher’s background.
He called on GW students to give back to communities by becoming teachers.
“If you want to strengthen families and communities, if you want to transform the lives of children, there is no place better to do that than in our nation’s classrooms,” Duncan said.