Chancellor's Recent Speeches

Oakland Ed. Cabinet - 1/11/99

Thank you very much. And thank you for inviting me here today.

I want to begin by letting you know how much I support what all of you have done in putting this group together and developing this symposium.

Our education system will face many challenges ahead in the next century.

The only way we can begin to deal with those challenges is to work together in partnership and do some long-term strategic thinking, just as all of you are doing today.

Bobby Knight, the famous (or infamous) Indiana University basketball coach, had some words of wisdom about this kind of forward thinking.

One time after his team captured the NCAA national championship, a reporter asked him if the team's winning record came from a will to succeed.

"Yes, the will to succeed is important," said Coach Knight. "But what's even more important is the will to prepare. It's the will to go out there every day, training and building those muscles and sharpening those skills."

That's why I think what all of you are doing is so important. We have a real and urgent need for quality teachers all across this state.

The answer to that need is not going to be a quick-fix solution or an idealistic pie-in-the-sky vision.

It's going to require a combination of long-term planning, preparation, and just plain hard work.

It's also going to mean that each of us must ask ourselves every day -- "What we can do better to help solve this problem?"

Once again, I thank you for taking an important first step by gathering here and working to develop much-needed teacher recruitment and retention efforts.

I would like to use my time today to do two things: One, to describe the need for new teachers; and two, to describe several responses to the problem, including our plans at the CSU.

The Need for New Teachers

First - three facts:

1) Due to enrollment increases and retirements, California will need between 250,000 and 300,000 new teachers over the next 10 years.

2) In California, about 50 percent of new teachers leave the profession within the first 5 years.

3) It is traditionally harder to recruit and retain teachers in urban districts like Oakland.

Next - a sobering reality: The Education Trust in Washington D.C. recently did a study showing that the teacher is the most significant factor in student achievement.

The researchers tracked high- and low-performance teachers. Students who had the high-performance teachers did consistently better than those with low-performance teachers.

In one study, even the above-average students fell behind after they were assigned to ineffective teachers.

All of this information tells us that we need more teachers, and we need high-quality teachers.

So we need to have a comprehensive strategy of recruitment and retention for those high-quality teachers.

The First Task - Recruitment

The first thing we need to do is to make our teacher education programs more accessible, effective, and attractive. I have put together a list of seven possible approaches to this:

1) Year-Round Operations: Many of our campuses are essentially empty between June and September.

If we made full use of our resources, many prospective teachers - as well as the teachers holding emergency permits and waivers - could learn and upgrade classroom skills during the summer.

2) Offer Alternatives: Today, a person with a college degree who wants to become a credentialed teacher must devote an entire year to full-time study.

Teacher education programs need to offer innovative alternatives: weekend, evening, short-term, off-campus, or even home-based programs through new media technology.

3) Gain Accreditation: All of our teacher education programs should seek accreditation from one of the national accreditation groups. The process may take a long time, but the benefits of thoroughly examining a program always make the effort worthwhile.

4) Expand Use of Technology: The CSU has developed a partnership with the British Open University, one of Great Britain's most highly acclaimed universities, to adopt some of their distance learning technologies for use with our teacher education courses.

With the Open University, we are developing CSU TeacherNet. That program will offer an alternative to traditional teacher preparation that is field-based, learner-centered, outcomes-driven, and uses a variety of instructional technologies.

5) Help Emergency-Permit Teachers: In 1997-98, the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing issued nearly 30,000 multiple and single-subject emergency permits - mostly to teachers in urban areas. We need to help those teachers get the credentials they need to be more effective.

The CSU Institute, in cooperation with AT&T, has launched CredentialNet, which offers teaching credential courses to emergency permit teachers through videotapes, e-mail, the Internet, and other technologies.

6) Early Exposure to Teaching: The CSU also plans to offer college students earlier exposure to K-12 classroom experience.

This will give students who might not have considered teaching an opportunity to look at it. It will also give prospective teachers a chance to figure out if they even like kids and want to be in a classroom all day.

The opportunity for more and earlier classroom experience will ultimately turn out better-prepared teachers.

7) Public Announcements: The California Center for Teaching Careers, known as CalTeach, is running public service announcements designed to recruit teachers.

So far, that effort has been successful:

  • Between April and October, the 1-888-CALTEACH phone number received inquiries from more than 9,000 callers.

  • In the last 8 months, their Web site got nearly 662,000 visits.

  • In the last 6 months, they have signed up 2,395 prospective applicants.

The Second Project - Retention

High teacher turnover hurts students. Once we train high-quality teachers, we must find ways to keep them teaching. I have put together a list of four retention strategies we must consider:

1) More Support for New Teachers: Our newest teachers often get the toughest assignments and need the most help. We can start by offering an 800-number or e-mail address for them to contact when they need help. We should also support the expansion of the Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment program.

2) Guaranteeing our Product: I believe we should send out our graduates with a warranty - If they need extra help in the first two years we will offer it for free. We also need to have joint evaluations in which the university faculty and the school district both participate.

3) Support for Current Teachers: We need to work more closely with K-12 schools to offer stimulating professional development opportunities for teachers. We also need to be advocates for higher pay for classroom teachers.

4) Need for Partnerships
Creating a supportive school community in the 21st century will require more partnerships and community involvement. For instance:

  • K-12 and universities must work together in partnerships in order to learn from each other. Both university faculty and school district personnel must participate. At the CSU, our trustees have directed us to employ district personnel to work as full partners with CSU faculty.

  • Local and state government and policymakers must support education efforts.

  • The business community needs to get involved - they can help us learn more about accountability and help us identify "best practices."

Finally - A Statewide Perspective

Clearly, we have many challenges ahead, as well as ideas to meet those challenges. But do we have the statewide support we need to follow through on those ideas?

I believe we have reason to be optimistic about support for education from our policymakers and the larger California community. Recent indicators include:

  • Governor Davis declaring that his top priority is education.

  • The resounding support by voters - by 63 percent - of Proposition 1A in November.

  • The vote of confidence our legislators gave us our budget this summer.

At the same time, we face a growing demand for accountability - from our new governor, from our policymakers, and from our public.

Governor Davis renewed this emphasis on accountability when he gave his inaugural and State of the State addresses last week.

He unveiled a $444 million dollar education proposal that will hold schools, teachers, and administrators more accountable for the quality of education our children receive.

He also called for a special session of the Legislature on education, to begin on January 19.

All of this is good news for us. It means we are fortunate to be working on this problem of teacher retention and recruitment at a time when public attention to education policy is so high.

Yet it also increases the pressure on us to be accountable for everything we do. And it means we need to be sure that our actions will be effective in the long term, and not simply quick-fix remedies.

Closing

The need for new teachers is urgent - it will require a dedicated effort by groups across the spectrum of education, business, community, and government organizations.

We need to be creative and to constantly challenge ourselves to find approaches to the problem. And we need to keep our focus on quality and excellence in education.

Groups like this one will be the key to starting that process.

I thank you again for inviting me here today and I wish you an inspiring and constructive symposium.

I will be glad to take any questions you have now.


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