Improving teacher quality is at the heart of our national effort to achieve excellence in the classroom. This comes at a time when the very structure of education is going through a profound change. With knowledge all around us, available anytime and anywhere, the role of the teacher is going to be fundamentally transformed in the 21st century.

In the future, schools will be more fluid, teachers more adaptable and flexible, and students will be more accountable as the task of learning becomes theirs. The challenge of the modern classroom is its increasing diversity and the skills that this diversity requires of teachers. This is why we need to do some new thinking when it comes to the teaching profession.

We need a dramatic overhaul of how we recruit, prepare, induct and retain good teachers. The status quo is not good enough. And we must revamp professional development as we know it. New distance learning models can be powerful new tools to give teachers more opportunities to be better teachers.

Our efforts to improve education will rise or fall on the quality of our teaching force, and higher education has the defining role in preparing the next generation of teachers. I ask leaders in higher education across the nation to please make this their mission.

Richard Riley, U.S. Secretary of Education, 2000

Not long ago, a college chemistry professor grew angry with the way her daughter’s high school chemistry class was being taught. She made an appointment to meet with the teacher and marched with righteous indignation into the classroom—only to discover that the teacher was one of her own former students.

Yates, 1995

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