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Seize This Moment: 5 Ways to Improve Teacher Quality


This following excerpt is from an article that originally appeared in the Chicago Tribune on July 9, 2018.

By Stephanie Banchero, Director, Education Program

I've spent most of my adult life working as an education reporter, including 11 years at the Chicago Tribune. I visited hundreds of classrooms and learned valuable lessons about inequities in our system. But the lesson that most endured in my mind is the power of high-caliber teachers and principals.

As a reporter, I saw veteran teacher Judy Fromm coax Rayola Carwell out of her shell and re-energize the third-grader’s love of learning. Diminutive and indomitable, Fromm peppered her lessons with “sweetie” and “honey.” But she always demanded that her children at Stockton Elementary School perform to their full potential.

I watched novice teacher Montie Apostolos change the life trajectory of 34 eighth-graders at Sherman Elementary on the city’s South Side. A veteran of civil rights battles in Mississippi, she talked of fighting off water cannons, captivating her students and pushing them to greater achievement gains.

And I was awed by Principal Joan Crisler, a lightning bolt of energy who reigned over Dixon Elementary with warmth and resolve. She built a culture of literacy that motivated teachers and propelled students to excellence.

There are thousands of similar stories out there. Unfortunately, the public conversation about teachers has been dominated over the past year by talk of shortages, strikes and how the Supreme Court’s Janus v. AFSCME decision will affect teachers unions.

These are important topics that need to be discussed. But we should use these events — and the energy they’ve generated — to jump-start a conversation about elevating and modernizing the teaching profession and ensuring that our most vulnerable students have excellent educators.

Read the full article here.