The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation launched a $17 million effort yesterday to improve teacher education and steer highly qualified teachers to high-poverty and struggling schools. The Princeton, N.J.-based foundation announced plans to award hundreds of future teachers a $30,000 stipend, starting in 2009, to attend graduate school. In return, the fellows will agree to teach for three years at high-needs schools, including some in Virginia. Partnering universities will focus on math, science and other content areas, and provide mentoring and support for teachers when they enter the classroom. Arthur E. Levine, foundation president and former president of Teachers College at Columbia University, has been critical of the nation’s teacher preparation programs, arguing that many have watered-down curricula and low standards. He said he’s hopeful the fellowship program will help strengthen teacher training, attract strong candidates to the profession and keep them in the classrooms once they start. “What we’re really trying to do is to dignify the teaching profession and give it status,” Levine said. The first fellowships will be awarded in spring 2009, and recipients will begin working as teachers the following year. The effort will target recent graduates who have bachelor’s degrees in arts and sciences as well as people pursuing teaching as a second career. The foundation’s efforts come amid a nationwide push by educators, advocacy groups and the business community to better prepare teachers, especially in math and science. The National Math and Science Initiative is giving grants to 10 colleges and universities to replicate a University of Texas at Austin program that encourages math and science majors to become teachers.
To Draw Top Teachers to Troubled Schools, Foundation Will Offer $30,000 Stipends