Time for a veteran teacher corps?

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Are you a high-performing veteran teacher? Are you looking for a new challenge? A career legacy? Is your district trying to push you to retire because you've made it to the top of the salary schedule—and let's face it—you're expensive? Come work in a high-need district!

That's the premise behind a recent op-ed in the New York Times SchoolBook blog. Teacher Rami Vamos reflects on how, as a first year teacher in a tough school, he could have used more access to veteran wisdom. Pairing that widespread need with budget cuts that are leading some districts to offer veteran teachers early retirements, Vamos envisions a rather inspired workaround.

Why not create a pipeline where strong veteran teachers can serve their remaining work years in tough assignments. The soon-to-officially retire teacher will make a comparable salary thanks to the combined pension check from the original district and newbie salary from the transfer district, and have two added perks: 1) making the end of their career meaningful and impactful and 2) bringing their experience where it is most needed. Vamos proposes what essentially amounts to a veteran teacher corps, similar in concept to TFA for recent grads or TNTP for career changers.

Some of the online comments in response to Vamos' idea expressed concerns about set-in-their-ways teachers with only suburban experiences coming into high-need schools. Surely this wouldn't be a program for everyone. It would require finding teachers with a heavy dose of grit and high expectations, and a proven track record of impact on student learning. Making sure this program recruits the right kind of teacher is key to making such a program reach its goal: getting excellent teachers into the schools that need them most.

Any edu-preneurs out there willing to take on the idea?

Emily Cohen and Laura Johnson