September 20, 2010
AFT Media Affairs
Statement by Randi Weingarten,
President, American Federation of Teachers,
On McKinsey Report on Teacher Recruitment and Retention
WASHINGTON—The McKinsey report reaches a conclusion we have known for a long time: We need to do a better job of recruiting and retaining great teachers for the profession of teaching and, in particular, for hard-to-staff schools. Of course, better compensation is important, but reading between the report’s lines speaks volumes about what else is necessary. A comprehensive and systemic approach is urgently needed, an approach like those used by the countries that outperform the United States. Such an approach includes developing and supporting teachers throughout their careers, creating working conditions that are conducive to teaching and learning, and giving teachers the tools and resources they need to succeed—alongside increased teacher compensation.
What we see from countries that outperform us is that it isn’t enough to simply shift compensation strategies. The report looks at Finland, Singapore and South Korea, and finds that they use a combination of tools to attract great teachers, including working to ensure there are many qualified teachers in the supply pipeline, offering competitive compensation packages and presenting robust opportunities for career advancement. Taken alone, each of these could be beneficial in recruiting teachers, but they are much more powerful when offered together as part of a systemic approach. Likewise, training, assistance and support must be embedded into teaching and the teaching profession in order for the brightest stars in college and in other careers to become teachers and stay in the classroom.
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The AFT represents 1.5 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.