Teacher quality series conversation

Last week, the Daily Journal ran a six-day package of stories on the issue of teacher quality and the need for Mississippi to attract more of its best and brightest residents to be classroom teachers. The package is part of the “State of Our Schools” a year-long look at Mississippi’s education system and its challenges in the hopes of better informing a more comprehensive debate. The entire series is available here.

Let’s continue the conversation. What stood out to you from the series? What questions do you have? What elements do think are the most important in Mississippi’s attempts to attract more great teachers? How important do you believe this issue is?

Leave your questions and comments below, and I will respond throughout the day.

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  • http://djournal.com/ DJournal.com

    Hey Chris enjoyed the series. Curious what are the two biggest things or maybe more that you took away that Mississippi can do to attract the best teachers/ Thanks – Todd Vinyard, Online Editor

  • http://twitter.com/chriskieffer Chris Kieffer

    Thank you, Todd. I think two things that would make the profession more attractive are some combination of pay and prestige.

    Pay is not everything and there are obviously bright people who chose to work lower-paying jobs if they feel they are getting some intrinsic benefit from it. That is where prestige can make a difference. I think Mississippi, and the nation as a whole, needs to emphasize the impact that really bright people can make by being educators. That mission-driven approach is already attracting bright people into the profession and it needs to be further harnessed to draw more.

    However, people feel pressure to provide for their families (and in our culture, salary provides prestige) so the closer teacher pay can be brought in line with other professions, the more attractive it will be to people.

    I think another key issue to consider is ways to get the best teachers into the neediest districts. Because of high poverty (and high educational poverty), those schools often do not receive as much community and parental support and can be a greater challenge for a teacher. Those schools also likely pay less money (because of a smaller tax base) and those communities may have fewer amenities that make them an attractive place to live. Yet those are areas where great teachers can have the largest impact on reversing generational poverty. There is not an easy answer for how to attract top teachers into those areas, but I believe it is an important subject to ponder and explore.

  • B B C

    I appreciate the fact someone is addressing the issue, no matter where the problem lies. However, I know you don’t have to have a 21 ACT, A average ect…to be an exceptional teacher. At some point there has to be some straight forward look at how the college level instructors are teaching teachers. I had an excellent methods instructor, that I could only truly appreciate, after seeing how poorly our college students come out of college unprepared. The college level is meeting quoto’s to bring in the money thru the Federal Grant programs. There is enough blame for every level from home all the way thru to the professional level. And if there needs to be an overhaul, the first place is at the MDE level. I truly believe there are a few great people there, but I would say at least 50% of those individuals are taking tax payer $’s and doing nothing but breathing good air. When you call and two indiviuduals are in the same office, and you ask a question and are told, they will have to put that on paper, and then get it to the in box of the other person to follow up. And who ever follows the money trail for the ADM staff who are behind the scenes of private contracts that are written so that there is no way any other company can compete. You don’t live in the Jackson area, live the lifestyle some do, and make the money that they make, and not have a clue about the rest of the state. It is a shame you have to be dependent on people who need jobs in one central location, to fill those positions. But on the upside. There are some great upcoming people who recognize the state of our schools, and are working every day to try to make a difference. If we will just work to keep the politics and good ole boy system out of what influences out school system, there will be “change.” I will sit down and read the series. And I do appreciate that someone is addressing issues in out MS Education System. Thanks you!