October 19, 2000

Recruiting Talented Teachers

CHICAGO—We are encouraged by the Chicago Board of Education’s successful recruitment of more than 2,000 new teachers for this academic year (“Chicago schools spend big bucks to lure teachers,” Page 1, Oct. 11).

It is important to note, however, that this human-resource issue represents a long-term challenge for our public schools.

Like the Board, The Chicago Public Education Fund believes we need to find innovative ways to attract new talent into our schools.

Since our establishment last March as a venture-capital fund for public education in Chicago, The Fund has already made significant investments in Teach For America and Golden Apple Teacher Education. Both programs work to recruit people who would otherwise not likely teach: mid-career professionals and recent college graduates who majored in subjects like chemistry, history and math.

As a result, 65 new teachers are in Chicago’s classrooms, and Northwestern University and National Louis University are supporting these new educators with concurrent coursework at their campuses. We see this as a short-term return on our investment.

Long-term, we hope to see all of our classrooms staffed with the best teachers we can find. In an effort to ensure that we are indeed placing talent in our schools, we are working with the Civic Committee’s FRAC program to measure these new teachers against traditionally prepared teachers.

As a venture-capital fund that continuously raises capital for education, our investors expect results.

With a current teacher shortage in high-need areas like math, science and bilingual education, we strongly encourage the Chicago Board of Education and Chicago’s universities to explore alternative ways to recruit and prepare smart and talented people to enter the field of teaching.

We hope the entire Chicago community will become our partners in promoting systemic change and openness to new ways of addressing our teaching needs. Better schools are everybody’s business.