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Back On The Hill, Talking About Teacher Retention

It was great to be back on the Hill yesterday moderating a New Teacher Center event in Dirksen. Some of the faces have changed, but not much else (the abundance of Diet Coke, the abundance of cheap suits, the hidden bathrooms, etc.). Miller Title II guru Alice Cain and I reminisced about being newbies on the Senate side all those years ago when she was with Simon and I was with Feinstein. (Then she doused me with coffee -- a welcome back blessing, I like to think.)

I also met some newer folks I knew by name or email -- Steve Robinson from Sen. Obama's office, Seth Gerson from Reed, Adam Ezring from Miller, Missy Rohrbach from Kennedy. Lots of folks came up and said hi (Crystal Rosario from CCCR, for example), or to talk about the blog or about back in the day when Rena Subotnik and I were trying to hold the ed schools' feet to the fire (and failing).

On the substantive side, I learned that not only are Reed, Kennedy, and Miller (among others) interested in stemming the dropout rate of new teachers that causes so much trouble, but that there is already some Title I language in the Miller draft that would make teacher retention efforts required for schools that don't make AYP. There's been so much attention on revamping AYP and the measures used to determine it, but much less (by me, at least) on the new set of required activities for schools that fail. And until now at least it seems that retention has been much less of a front-burner TQ issue than recruitment or evaluation, despite an estimated $7.3 billion in turnover costs.

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