Obama calls for more STEM teachers, longer school year

“With more than a million teachers expected to retire in the coming years, we have a historic opportunity to transform public education in America by calling on a new generation to join those already in the classroom,” Duncan said. “We are working with the broader education community to strengthen and elevate the entire teaching profession so that every teacher has the support and training they need to succeed.”

The campaign aims to boost the number, quality, and diversity of people seeking to become teachers, particularly in high-need schools and subject areas in greatest demand, such as STEM, English-language learners, and special education. To do this, it will help connect aspiring teachers with information about the pathways to teaching, including preparation, certification, training, and mentoring, and it also will celebrate and honor the teaching profession.

The Education Department will be working with Facebook to launch an interactive application on the TEACH Facebook page that will connect current teachers with young people. The application is designed to let students engage directly with an experienced teacher and ask questions.

In response to the TEACH campaign, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said: “We welcome the U.S. Department of Education’s campaign to recruit, support, and celebrate teachers. Millions of teachers work hard every day to make a difference in their students’ lives, and each year many thousands more are needed to join this important profession.”

She added: “These new teachers—like all teachers—must be supported. As rewarding as teaching is, it is extremely complex, difficult work. Research shows that students benefit from having teachers with three to five years of experience, but many teachers lack the support to make it to that point. Mentoring, coaching, time to collaborate with colleagues, and feedback on classroom performance all can help new and struggling teachers thrive in their profession.”

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