The silent crisis in American primary education may very well be the leading threat to American global competitiveness in the coming age. In 2009, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a group of 34 of the world’s most advanced economies, ranked US students 17th in science and 25th in mathematics out of 34 in its annual Programme for International Student Achievement (PISA) index. Current US Education Secretary Arne Duncan responded by saying that ‘this is an absolute wake-up call for America [and] the results are extraordinarly challenging to us and we have to deal with the brutal truth.’
In 1980, the US Congress elevated the US Department of Education to a Cabinet level department in an effort to enhance and actively ‘promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access.’ While the Federal government has played an increasingly active role in promoting student performance with a variety of initiatives, there is still a burgeoning problem: American students are falling further and further behind.
Many of our nation’s education policy wonks have begun to question the effectiveness and impact of current national education policy standards and many of those experts have made calls for immediate action. Within the greater debate, one of the most alarming traits of the US education problem is that America’s most qualified students are choosing careers other than the noble profession of education. Whether it be the threat of job security or the financial rewards offered by the private sector, America’s best and brightest are not choosing the very profession that needs them most.
The scope of the research will be to offer a comparative analysis of education policy instruments that focus on teacher recruitment and retention. Using the past five Presidential administrations and their preferred approaches as a case study, this will prove essential to explaining individual Federal policies and their effectiveness.
A widely common-held belief by politicians and academics alike is that student performance is directly tied to teacher quality. I will use this theme in in the context of assessing and comparing the effectiveness of such policies on teacher recruitment and retention.
I will be leveraging the faculty and resources offered by both the School of Education and the School of Public & Environmental Affairs at Indiana University to help me in the undertaking of this research. I am also looking forward to working very closely with a personal mentor, Indiana’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, Dr. Tony Bennett. He will help offer a unique perspective as someone engaged in the day-to-day decision making since he serves as the chief executive of Indiana’s public school system. Lastly, I look forward to working with each of you on your own areas of interest and hearing further feedback on my own.