The U.S. Education Department (ED) is handing control of its online platform for teacher recruitment and retention, www.teach.gov, to software giant Microsoft Corp., the two organizations announced earlier this month.
ED officials launched the TEACH campaign and website in September 2010 to promote the teaching profession and bring a new generation of educators into the classroom.
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. Its website connects aspiring teachers with information about the pathways to teaching, including preparation, certification, training, and mentoring, and it helps currently licensed teachers find jobs in districts nationwide.
With a looming teacher shortage creating a “pressing need” to recruit and retain more U.S. teachers, according to a former ED official, this development raises the question: Why turn over such an important campaign to a private company?
In a blog post explaining the move, TEACH Project Director Taryn Benarroch suggested that ED was overwhelmed by the public response to the campaign and was looking for a partner who could help the project continue to expand.
“Interest in the campaign flooded the department from diverse stakeholders within and outside the education sector,” Benarroch wrote. “…It soon became obvious that the potential power of TEACH was great, and that the movement to elevate the teaching profession and recruit the next generation of great teachers could flourish under the management of a private organization.”
ED held a competition in April, inviting both public and private entities to step to the plate and oversee the project. Microsoft, through its Partners in Learning division, won the competition to take over the TEACH campaign and website.
Partners in Learning will be responsible not only for maintaining the TEACH website and its marketing efforts, but for improving and expanding the teacher recruitment campaign going forward. Though ED is an official partner in these efforts, the Microsoft division now will be the sole owner and operator of the project, ED said.