Discusses proposals to ensure there are excellent teachers in every classroom and that every high school is an excellent school
Manchester, NH – Today, during a visit to the Oyster River High School high school in Durham, New Hampshire, Senator John Edwards discussed his plans ensure that every child in America gets the quality education they deserve. Edwards highlighted his proposals to ensure that there are excellent teachers in every classroom and that every high school is an excellent school.
"Education is an issue that's very personal for me," said Edwards. "I grew up in a small, rural town and my parents didn't have a lot of money. But I was lucky to have public school teachers who taught me to believe that somebody from a little town in North Carolina could do just about anything if he worked hard and played by the rules.
"I believe that every child deserves to have the same chances I had, and I know a great education starts with a great teacher," Edwards continued. "Study after study shows that no single factor has a greater impact on the quality of a child's education than his or her teacher. Yet too often, teachers are not paid or treated like the professionals they are. Students in poor urban and rural schools are more likely to have less experienced and effective teachers. While pay for CEOs and other highly paid workers skyrocketed in recent years, teachers earn a fraction of the salaries paid to other educated professionals."
During his speech today, Edwards emphasized his specific plans to ensure that every classroom has an excellent teacher. Edwards called for reducing classroom sizes and increasing pay for teachers in successful high-poverty schools. He also proposed giving extra support to teachers in the first years of their careers and stepping up efforts to recruit and train new teachers.
Building on his proposals for recruiting and training more high quality teachers, Edwards also outlined his plan to promote excellence at high schools across America. Edwards called for launching a "Great Schools" initiative to build and expand on 1,000 successful school across the country and establishing stronger academic and career curricula. Edwards also highlighted his plans to raise graduation rates by creating multiple paths to graduation such as Second Chance schools for former dropouts and smaller alternative schools for at-risk students. Finally, Edwards called for the creation of a Community Corps program for high school students to engage more students in well-integrated and high quality service activities.
In our schools, nothing is more important than the relationship between a teacher and a child. Excellent, experienced high school teachers have been shown to lower dropout rates, increase college-going rates, and boost students' long-term achievement in college and beyond. The positive impact of high quality high school teachers is most pronounced in the science and math courses that are critical to America's continued competitiveness in the global economy. [CFPE, 2007; Carey, 2007]
An Excellent Teacher in Every Classroom
"A great education starts with a great teacher. Study after study shows that no school factor has a larger impact on the quality of a child's education than his or her teacher." -- John Edwards
Yet too often, teachers are not paid or treated like the professionals they are. Students in poor urban and rural schools are more likely to have less experienced and effective teachers. Though pay for CEOs and other highly paid workers has skyrocketed in recent years, teachers earn a fraction of the salaries paid to other educated professionals. John Edwards believes we need to invest more in training and paying our teachers to help every child learn at high levels. He has outlined specific steps to improve our schools, starting with overhauling the No Child Left Behind Act. Today, he emphasized his specific plans to respect and reward teachers. As president, he will:
For further details, please see Edwards' "An Excellent Teacher in Every Classroom" and "Excellent High Schools Across America" papers included below.
Raise Pay by Up to $15,000 More for Teachers in High-Poverty Schools
Edwards will fundamentally change teachers' incentives by helping states pay teachers in successful high-poverty schools as much as $15,000 more a year. The $15,000 raise includes $5,000 for all teachers in successful high poverty schools, $5,000 for teachers with national certification for excellence, and $5,000 for veteran teachers who serve as mentors. [NCTAF, 1996 and 2002; Sanders and Rivers, 1996]
Create a National Teacher University
Great teachers are a national priority, so Edwards will create a West Point for teachers to recruit and train 1,000 top college students a year. Students will pay no tuition and go on to teach in areas such as special education, math and science, where New Hampshire has faced persistent critical shortages. [NHDoEd, 2007]
Help Teachers in Their Early Years
A third of all new teachers leave the profession within three years. Edwards will encourage a transition year for rookie teachers with smaller classes and reduced teaching loads. He will also support structured mentoring programs like the successful program at the Greater Manchester Professional Development Center. [Ingersoll, 2003; Ed Trust, 2007; Levine, 2006; NCATF, 2006]
Reduce Class Sizes
The benefits of smaller classes, especially in early grades, are well established. One study found that students in small classes are less likely to drop out of school and more likely to graduate on time. Edwards will increase federal resources for reducing class sizes. [Krueger and Whitmore, 2001, 2002; Smith, Molnar, and Zahorik, 2003; U.S. Department of Education, 2000]
Excellent High Schools Across America
"There is nothing more important to our future than our country's schools. We all pay a price when young people who could someday find the cure for AIDS or build a new fuel cell end up sitting on a stoop because they didn't get the education they needed." -- John Edwards
High schools like Oyster River High can be the springboards that propel students into college and careers and prepare them to compete in the global economy. But on the latest international assessment, American high school students finished in the bottom half of all nations in math, and they ranked 18th out of 40 countries in reading. [OECD, 2004]
John Edwards believes we can meet these challenges. Building on his proposals for recruiting and training more high quality teachers, making college affordable for everyone, and radically overhauling No Child Left Behind, today Senator Edwards outlined his plan to promote excellence at high schools across America.
Launch a "Great Schools" Initiative to Build and Expand 1,000 Successful Schools
Throughout the United States, there are public schools that are helping children from all backgrounds succeed, including traditional public schools, public charter schools, small schools, and other models. Edwards will help 250 schools a year expand or start new branches with federal funds to support new buildings, excellent teachers, and other needs. Among the proven school models he will support are small schools, early college high schools, and economically integrated schools.
Establish Stronger Academic and Career Curricula
High school class rigor is the number-one predictor of college success. Even students who do not go to college need strong math and reading skills in the workplace. Edwards believes that all schools should have access to Advanced Placement courses and he will support partnerships between high schools and community colleges to help train students for the good jobs where skilled workers are in short supply today. [US Department of Education, 1997; ACT, 2006; ED in 08, 2007]
Raise Graduation Rates
Almost a third of all students drop out of school before earning a high school diploma, and rates among children of color or from low-income families are higher. Edwards will create multiple paths to graduation, such as Second Chance schools for former dropouts and smaller alternative schools for at-risk students. He will focus on identifying at-risk students and support the Striving Readers literacy program and one-on-one tutoring to keep them in school. [Baron, 2005; Alliance for Excellent Education, 2007; Balfranz and Legters, 2004; NCES, 2004]
Support High School Service Programs
High school students have the energy and enthusiasm to make their community and their country better places to live. Edwards will create a Community Corps service programs for high school students. It will provide resources to high schools that choose to make community service a graduation requirement, helping them raise the quality of service opportunities and integrate them into the curriculum.