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Obama, Emanuel Introduce Bills to Establish Teacher Residency Program

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Obama, Emanuel Introduce Bills to Establish Teacher Residency Program

U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) and U.S. Representative Emanuel (D-IL) today announced the introduction of the Teaching Residency Act and the Preparing Excellent Teachers Act. These bills, introduced separately in the Senate and the House would establish an innovative framework for prospective teachers to partner with mentor teachers for an academic year, receive master's level coursework and certification, and gain hands on classroom experience, similar to medical residency programs for training health professionals. The Teaching Residency Programs would adequately prepare teachers before they enter the profession, increase teacher supply in high-needs school districts, and provide ongoing training and support during their first years of teaching.

"America's teachers face enormous responsibilities and challenges in today's schools, but too often we treat them like second-class professionals." said Senator Obama. "Even before new teachers enter our classrooms, we must provide them with the skills and support they need to serve children in high-needs school districts. Teaching Residency Programs would not only strengthen our teachers and schools, but would bolster our nation's competitiveness by providing the best possible training to our next generation of leaders."

"The shortage of qualified teachers in our country has reached critical levels. Some predict that over the next decade, we will need more than 2 million new teachers," said Emanuel. "There is no better investment in our future than in educating our children."

Each year, high-needs schools often lose nearly one-fifth of their teaching staffs. This constant turnover of inexperienced, under-prepared teachers undercuts efforts at school improvement and costs the nation over $2 billion annually. Typically, teachers leave the profession much sooner if they are inadequately prepared and lack mentoring support when they arrive. It is critical that prospective teachers observe expert practices modeled and then practice them with ongoing support. Student teaching is too often conducted in classrooms that do not model expert practice, or in classrooms that do not serve high-need students, and the lessons learned do not generalize to effective teaching in high-need schools.

A successful model for this proposal is the Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL) in Chicago, which has been in existence for several years. One of the schools run by AUSL, the Chicago Academy, located in Chicago's 5th district, was the first in the nation and has provided hundreds of Chicago students with quality public education. Other successful models include the Boston Teacher Residency and the Boettcher Teachers Program in Colorado.

The Teaching Residency Programs (TRPs) and the Preparing Excellent Teachers Act would:

* Launch a competitive partnership grant program to support Teaching Residency Programs.

* Fund programs in high-needs school districts, which would recruit, prepare, and provide ongoing mentoring and induction support through a partnership between a college or university, a school district, non-profit community partners, and other partners.

* Provide a stipend for teachers during their year of preparation, and require them to work in the district upon completion of the program.

Emanuel's Preparing Excellent Teachers Act provides grants through Title II of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Obama's Teaching Residency Act provides grants through Title II of the Higher Education Act.

Teaching Residency Programs are not only necessary for training and support, but also to increase the number of teachers since recruitment usually occurs in the districts that sponsor them. These programs have demonstrated the capacity to recruit, prepare, retain, and provide effective support for teachers in high-need schools.

Senator Obama is a member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee who first proposed this legislation in 2004. Emanuel has been working on this issue since he first came to Congress.

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