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EDUCATION REPORT - Better Teachers

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This is the VOA Special English Education Report.

The Bush administration is trying to improve teaching in American public schools. The goal is to have all American teachers well prepared by the school year beginning in Two-Thousand-Five.

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Graphic Image

Officials say the nation will need more than two-million new teachers during the next ten years. But experts also say the number of possible new teachers is decreasing.

President Bush's wife, Laura, recently held a meeting about this situation. Missus Bush is a former teacher. She invited educators and policy-makers to the White House Conference on Preparing Tomorrow's Teachers.

Historian Diane Ravitch told the conference that a public school teacher once needed only to have good morals. Now, she said, a person must satisfy many governmental requirements. Mizz Ravitch said some of these rules might prevent excellent young people from becoming teachers. At the same time, she said there is a lack of teachers in many schools in large cities.

Sandra Feldman is president of the American Federation of Teachers, a labor union. She noted a report that a committee of her union prepared two years ago. The report called for changes in teacher-education programs in universities. It said students who want to become teachers should study more liberal arts and science subjects. The goal is to increase knowledge of the subjects they will teach. Currently, many college students studying to be teachers spend more time learning teaching methods than subject content.

However, Mizz Feldman also said knowing educational methods is extremely important. She asked those attending the conference to consider how they would teach children without knowing what methods succeed. She asked them how they would teach twenty-five children to read without knowing how children learn.

Mizz Feldman noted that the report called for new teachers to succeed on tests before they can begin teaching. She also urged that the best teachers supervise and support new teachers.

Laura Bush also said better preparation is very important. She said she had felt satisfied with her college education. But as a new teacher, she recognized that she needed more skills. Missus Bush said teaching was a much harder job than she had thought.

This VOA Special English Education Report was written by Jerilyn Watson.

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