U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced today that the department is launching a national teacher recruitment campaign, complete with a web site that offers information on how to join the profession.
The administration is particularly interested in getting new teachers to work in high-need schools, and in recruiting them for subjects where there is a shortage of qualified instructors, including science, technology, engineering, and math, as well as to serve English-Language Learners and students in special education. The department also is hoping to attract a more diverse workforce, particularly minority males.
Duncan unveiled the initiative on MSNBC today, in a conversation with Tom Brokaw, just hours after Obama announced that he wants to see more math and science teachers. Brokaw pointed out that teachers are getting laid off all around the country and wondered if the career prospects are really that great for new college graduates.
"It's a little bit tough short term," Duncan acknowledged. But he said that as the economy bounces back, teachers are going to be in demand. "This is going to be a booming sector of the economy," he said.
Brokaw also wanted to know why a college student would want to get tangled up in the debate between unions and "reformers."
Duncan said the differences aren't as pronounced as people might think. "Through Race to the Top, we've seen hundreds of unions partner with management," he said of the competitive grant program which has become the Obama administration's signature education reform effort. "All of us need to change. Unions have to do more, superintendents have to do more."
The department is partnering with Facebook to create an interactive portion of the TEACH Facebook page to link up current teachers with young people interested in working in the profession. And the department will be working with Ebony magazine to launch a series of teaching round tables around the country.