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National Conference To Address Looming Teacher Shortage, March 25-27 in Boston

Educators Grapple with National Crisis to Attract and Retain New Teachers

BOSTON (February 27, 2007) — Faced with a national crisis in attracting and retaining new teachers, hundreds of educators and policymakers from around the nation will gather in Boston March 25-27 to grapple with the problem and search for solutions.

More than 600 educational professionals from 30 states and three continents will attend the conference at the Boston Marriott Long Wharf Hotel for a rich array of presentations and "best practices" in recruiting, developing and retaining new teachers. The conference is designed to help stem the tide of what many say is a looming K-12 teacher shortage, as thousands of teachers retire and many new teachers leave the profession after only a few years. More than 50 percent of new teachers in urban areas leave within the first three years.

The conference is sponsored by the Beginning Teacher Center of Simmons College and Teachers 21,  the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future, and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

(For a complete program schedule, visit the conference website)

An overview on the national crisis in new teacher recruitment and retention, and a challenge to educators nationwide, will be delivered at 9:15 a.m. March 26 by Jonathan Saphier, founder and chairman of Teachers 21 and author of six books, including "The Skillful Teacher."

A decade ago, annual attrition among teachers was nearly 40 percent higher than average national rates of employee turnover (as reported by the Bureau of National Affairs), and annual teacher attrition has increased by almost 50 percent since that time. Common reasons cited for high turnover include professional isolation, rapidly changing curriculum, classroom management difficulties, increasingly multicultural and multilingual classrooms, diminishing parental support, and growing state and national "high stakes" testing.

In what has been described as a "national snapshot" of new teacher recruitment and retention programs that work, educators from states as geographically diverse as California, Massachusetts, Texas, and South Carolina will showcase their successful programs for attracting new teachers and keeping them in the profession over the long haul. Conference attendees include school administrators and superintendents, new and experienced teachers, union leaders, school board members and policymakers.

The conference focus, called " comprehensive induction," looks to the entire community to take responsibility for recruiting, developing and retaining their educators. Sessions include school board and community development, mentoring and administrator services, systemic assessment of district and school programs, school structure, school culture, and professional development to support beginning teachers.  

School superintendents and principals will attend workshops focused on looking at their own leadership role in supporting new and veteran teachers, including how to create "professional learning communities" with a system-wide culture of support and guidance for new teachers.

 Registration for the conference, titled "Growing the Future: Meeting the National Challenge to Recruit, Develop and Retain New Teachers," begins at 5:00 p.m. Sunday, March 25, with an introduction by Simmons College President Susan Scrimshaw.  Keynote speaker is Jonathan Kozol, an education activist and author of numerous books, including  "The Shame of the Nation," about public education and inequalities in poor urban districts.

Conference workshops and joint sessions begin Monday, March 26, with an 8:00 a.m. opening speech by Daniel Goleman, co-chair of the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence at Rutgers University and author of bestselling books on emotional intelligence.

 A series of workshops continues on March 26 and March 27, with educators from around the nation presenting their successful programs on such issues as helping urban teachers with their special challenges, key strategies for administrators to support new teachers, successful models for mentoring new teachers, programs for recruiting more teachers of color, special support for new science and math teachers, helping teachers of linguistically diverse classrooms, the latest research in managing and teaching students with attention deficits, helping improve the parent-teacher relationship, and encouraging career-changers to enter the teaching profession.

BTC Directors Susan Freedman, president of Teachers, 21 and Lyndy Johnson, assistant dean at Simmons College, and Saphier, will present conference sessions on comprehensive induction.

Guest luncheon speakers Monday, March 26 at 12:45 p.m. are Anne Lincoln Bryant, Executive Director of the National School Boards Association, and Dr. Tom Carroll, President of the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future.

Opening keynoter Tuesday, March 27 at 8:00 a.m., is Theresa Perry, Simmons College Professor of Education and Africana Studies, national expert in African American student achievement, and co-author of "To Be Young, Gifted, and Black".  Perry will speak on African American school achievement, "What We Know, What We Can Do."