The Heart of the Matter: Around the Country

Preamble to Master Teacher Corps Bill

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Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences

Excerpted below is the preamble to a bill introduced in October 2014 by Representative Rush Holt (D-New Jersey), based on a recommendation from The Heart of the Matter for a K–12 Master Teacher Program that would encompass all disciplines, expanding President Obama’s 2012 proposal for a stem Master Teacher Corps. Much of the bill’s opening section is a direct quote of the introduction of The Heart of the Matter.

H. R. 5704

To amend title II of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to establish a Master Teacher Corp program.

Congress finds:

(1) As stated in The Heart of the Matter, a report published by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, our need for a broadly literate population is more urgent than ever.

(2) As citizens, we need to absorb an ever-growing body of information and to assess the sources of that information.

(3) As workers, we need to adapt to an ever-accelerating rate of technological change and to reflect on the implications of these changes.

(4) As members of a global community, we need to look beyond our borders to communicate and interact with individuals from societies and cultures different from our own.

(5) As a nation, we need to provide an educational foundation for our future stability and prosperity—drawing on all areas of knowledge.

(6) Good teachers matter. Students with highly skilled teachers can gain an additional year’s worth of learning compared to their peers in other classrooms. Moreover, having an effective teacher for three to four years in a row can erase the income-based achievement gap.

(7) Attrition among new teachers is exceptionally high. As many as 50 percent of new teachers leave within their first five years teaching. Moreover, many of those leaving are the highly performing new teachers.

(8) Short-term, in-service professional development has not been found to be effective. Rather, successful professional development is extensive, sustained, focused on content, and embedded in the day to day work of teachers.

(9) Teacher induction and mentoring programs increase job satisfaction and retention among new teachers. Furthermore, research shows that additional young people would consider teaching if the profession offered more opportunities for advancement and collaboration.

(10) Programs that provide teachers with opportunities to lead and grow, and to be recognized and compensated for their leadership, are key to keeping talented teachers in the classroom.

(11) A Master Teacher Corps will provide schools a way to use their human capital to improve student achievement by providing their best teachers with an opportunity to share best practices and support other teachers.