Louis Gerstner, the former chairman of IBM, recently announced the creation of a national task force that will focus on improving the quality of teaching in America’s schools. The commission reads like a “Who’s Who” in the worlds of education reform and business, and includes former-first lady Barbara Bush, former governors James B. Hunt of North Carolina and Roy E. Barnes of Georgia, former U.S. Department of Education Secretary Richard W. Riley, and chief executives Kenneth L. Chenault of American Express and Philip M. Condit of Boeing. It will closely examine all aspects of teacher quality, including recruitment, retention, training, preparation, compensation, and evaluation.
The Teaching Commission will begin its work by studying current research, both inside and outside of the United States. Then it will use this body of knowledge as a foundation to make concrete policy recommendations within the next year. The Commission will focus on getting these recommendations implemented at the federal, state, and local levels. To this end, Gerstner has “packed the panel withpeople chosen as much for their political insight as their education expertise,” says the New York Times.
In an op-ed for USA Today, Gerstner underscores the importance of great teachers in raising the achievement of students:
Teaching is a profession, so we have to get serious about treating it like one. That means competitive salaries, pay tied to performance and pay for expertise. It means we recruit the best talent-and keep it. We provide our teachers with assets taken for granted in other professions: high-quality teaching materials, tools and professional development.
Gerstner has pledged that this task force will not become another think tank, but will “create an agenda for action and change.” Judging by the makeup of the task force, it shouldn’t have any trouble generating press coverage. But as to the larger question of whether it can gain national support for real solutions, only time will tell.
Learn more about The Teaching Commission at: http://www.theteachingcommission.org/