September 27, 2010
AFT Media Affairs
Statement by Randi Weingarten,
President, American Federation of Teachers,
On the U.S. Department of Education’s TEACH Campaign
WASHINGTON—We welcome the U.S. Department of Education’s campaign to recruit, support and celebrate teachers. Millions of teachers work hard every day to make a difference in their students’ lives, and each year many thousands more are needed to join this important profession.
These new teachers—like all teachers—must be supported. As rewarding as teaching is, it is extremely complex, difficult work. Research shows that students benefit from having teachers with three to five years of experience, but many teachers lack the support to make it to that point. Mentoring, coaching, time to collaborate with colleagues, and feedback on classroom performance all can help new and struggling teachers thrive in their profession.
Supporting and retaining teachers not only benefits their students, it’s an economic imperative. A respected national study found that the huge rate of teacher turnover in U.S. school systems costs more than $7 billion every year.
Every child deserves to have great teachers. But achieving that takes more than simply talking about it. At a time when many critics are quick to indiscriminately demonize and demoralize teachers, we welcome this call to strengthen and elevate the entire teaching profession so that all teachers have the support and training they—and their students—need to succeed.
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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.