Panel Wants to Attract Students to Teaching

Article excerpt

As Missouri's public schools brace for a mass exodus of teachers retiring in the next decade, how can the state make the job of teacher more enticing to newcomers?

A panel of educators, legislators and business leaders wrestled with that question Monday. "We've got to get to kids early before they decide to be an engineer or whatever," said Celeste Ferguson, an assistant commissioner with the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. "We've got to let them get a bug for teaching."

Missouri is one of 10 states looking at a national report that pledges to ensure every student, by the year 2006, "competent, caring, and qualified teachers." In its first meeting, the Missouri Commission on the Future of Teaching talked broadly about how to strengthen the teaching profession. The 90-member panel, appointed by the state Board of Education, will meet monthly and draw up recommendations by July on everything from teacher certification to rewarding teaching skills. One small study group is tackling just the idea of recruitment. How can the state recruit teachers in needy areas? Some say forgiving a larger part of teachers' college loans is one way. How can the occupation be made more attractive? …