In 1983, a special commission organized by the U.S. Department of Education released A Nation at Risk, an unapologetic critique of America’s public schools. Its publication prompted both a firestorm of public response and a seismic shift of policy and practice reforms at every level of the education system, permanently altering the policy landscape that has shaped today’s public schools.

The report directed many pointed barbs at the teacher workforce and those tasked with preparing them. It concluded that both the quality of current teachers and the quantity of available talent to fill teaching roles in schools were sorely deficient; both dimensions needed immediate intervention to achieve educational excellence. What the report failed to do, however, was reconcile the inherent tensions in simultaneously pursuing both higher quality and quantity, or offer a strategy to systematically develop the teacher workforce that was desired.

Consequently, as A Nation at Risk unleashed a wave of education reform, the initiatives focused on teachers were both expansive and incoherent. In my essay, “Strategically prioritizing teacher quality and quantity can reinvigorate the teacher pipeline,” recently published in the Hoover Institution’s A Nation at Risk +40 series (edited by Stephen L. Bowen and Margaret E. Raymond), I recount the divergent approaches to reforming the teacher workforce that developed over time.

This post highlights some of the lessons learned from looking back at the 40 years of reform and research on the teacher pipeline since the report’s publication.

  • Teachers: Part of both the problem and the solution
  • Two approaches to reform teaching, frequently in conflict
  • Strategically deploying different strategies, based on school context
  • The state of the teacher pipeline continues to challenge schools

Read the full article about teacher workforce by Michael Hansen at The 74.