Introduction: Teacher Quality

By Catherine Capellaro

Illustrator: Barbara Miner

Photo by Barbara Miner

No matter where we fall on the political spectrum, one point of agreement is that children deserve quality teachers.

What becomes more contentious is how society defines “quality” teachers and how to keep them in the classroom.

In this special edition of Rethinking Schools we take a hard look at these matters. We ask how teacher educators, unions, and classroom teachers are working to improve teaching. We look at the ways social justice teacher organizations are connecting teachers, parents, and teacher educators to communities. And we interview scholars and activists to get their takes.

We sent reporter Barbara Miner to Los Angeles where UCLA’s Center X has launched a groundbreaking effort to improve Los Angeles schools. She also examines Cincinnati’s union-led effort to evaluate and improve teaching. In “Teachers Teaching Teachers,” Linda Christensen describes programs where teachers play a central role in developing and sharing curriculum. In an era when high-stakes tests and standardized, scripted curricula dominate the landscape, these types of efforts bode well for the future of the profession.

Teacher quality is a complex issue. Not everyone agrees on what we need to do to achieve “quality.” And in these pages, we attempt to present a variety of voices and opinions on the subject.

One thing is certain: Unless this country addresses the vast racial and economic inequities that plague our schools, no one’s definition of quality will be reached.

We would like to thank the Joyce Foundation for their generous support of our efforts. We would also like to acknowledge the educators who attended our teacher quality writing retreat in Madison, Wis., last April. We invite our readers to continue this conversation through letters to the editor (send them to rscath@ or by submitting articles on the topic.