- WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S.
Education Secretary Richard Riley on Sunday cited ``one of the worst shortages
of qualified teachers in memory'' and said some 250,000 teachers were working
without proper preparation.
- ``It's gotten so bad that some schools have been forced
to put any warm body in front of a classroom,'' Riley told the first ever
National Conference on Teacher Quality.
- He said the movement to raise educational standards would
not succeed -- despite recent gains in standardized testing scores and
declines in high school dropout rates -- unless teachers received adequate
training and resources.
- This was particularly true given the changing nature
of teaching, a record number of pupils -- many of whom don't speak English
-- and the challenges of teaching children with disabilities and emotional
- ``Many school districts are reporting the worst shortages
of qualified teachers in memory, particularly in math, science, special
education, and bilingual education,'' Riley said.
- ``It has been estimated that 250,000 teachers are working
without proper preparation in course content, or without any kind of training
in how to teach,'' he added.
- Consequently, it was vital that teachers got the right
training to prepare the nation's students for the future.
- ``Unless we provide teachers with the right preparation,
induction, mentoring, support, professional development, and pay, the movement
to raise standards...may stumble,'' Riley said.
- He urged over 800 educators at the conference to develop
concrete action plans to improve teacher education in their communities
and recruit new teachers from diverse backgrounds.
- The conference brought together leaders from higher education,
K-12 schools, the business world and community groups.
- Riley noted that America's public schools had progress
to report, including rising SAT scores and advancing math and science achievements.
But he said the nation was still falling short of its goal to ``make sure
that there is a...dedicated teacher in every classroom.''
- One key step was to ensure that education departments
got the respect they deserved, rather than being ``university backwaters,
as some have been allowed to become,'' he said.
- He underscored the Clinton administration's commitment
to improving education and funding programs to build links between public
schools and universities, as well as ensuring that student teachers learned
to use technology in the classroom.