Education should be led by a new generation of “teacherpreneurs” who not only teach in the classroom but also set public policy and are held accountable by remaking teacher unions into a guild system.
Those were some of the prescriptions offered by Dr. Barnett Berry, founder and president of the Center for Teaching Quality, during an address Thursday at the Clinton Library.
Berry was the keynote speaker as part of the Forrest Rozell Lecture Series presented by the Clinton School of Public Service and the William Jefferson Clinton Foundation. A former high school teacher, he wrote the book “Teaching 2030” with the help of 12 practicing teachers from across the country.
Berry said a new generation of “teacherpreneurs” should blur the line between teaching and leading. They should spend less time in the classroom and more time involved in collaboration, policy research, community engagement and other activities.
“No one is going to give teachers the leadership roles they must play in the future,” he said. “You will need to take them, and you can, because many of your colleagues here in this room have already done it.”
He said the profession needs a thorough rethinking of how teachers are trained and evaluated. He said people should enter the profession from a variety of pathways. Instead of each teachers playing the same role in front of a single classroom, teachers should take on varying roles in education and be compensated differently based not on standardized test scores but on how they train other teachers. He said there are places on earth where a school’s highest-paid employee is a practicing teacher.
Unions, he said, should stop playing defense and instead create a guild structure with a peer review system that determines who enters the profession and who stays.
Berry said the changes in American society will require the teaching profession to change. For example, by 2030, four out of 10 children in American schools will be English-as-a-second-language learners. Meanwhile, the United States faces increasing competition from China, where the top 10 percent of its students are equal in number to three-fourths of all American students.
All this will require changing the profession from the one that evolved through the 19th and 20th centuries. Such a shift will require changes in societal attitudes as well, Berry said.
“The problem is not the supply of great teachers, it’s the demand for them. … Everyone wants schools to get better, but there are too many people who don’t want schools to look any different than they were when they themselves went to school,” he said.