The Johns Hopkins Gazette: September 20, 1999
September 20, 1999
VOL. 29, NO. 4


Addressing Needs of Urban Classrooms

SPSBE receives federal grant of $12.6 million to recruit, train teachers

By Neil A. Grauer
School of Professional Studies

Johns Hopkins Gazette Online Edition

In a dramatic effort to address the chronic urban teacher shortage in the areas where it is most acute, the Graduate Division of Education in the School of Professional Studies in Business and Education has been awarded a $12.6 million federal grant to form a partnership with the University of Maryland Baltimore County, Morgan State University and the Baltimore City schools to recruit the best prospective teachers, prepare them in innovative teacher-training programs and send them to the urban classrooms in Maryland most in need of their services.

"This is a tremendous opportunity to make a significant impact on urban education, where there now is a critical shortage of teachers," said Ralph Fessler, director of the Graduate Division of Education and interim dean of the school. "Over the next five years, we expect to put nearly 1,400 high-quality teachers into Maryland schools--some 1,100 in Baltimore City alone."

Approximately 345 new teachers will be prepared for placement in other increasingly urbanized areas of Prince George's, Montgomery, Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties, Fessler said.

The $12.6 million, five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education--believed to be the largest such allocation in the 90-year history of the Hopkins Graduate Division of Education--is part of a new federal program awarding $33 million to 25 universities that have devised plans to partner with urban school districts and other universities to prepare new teachers to meet the demands of modern classrooms. The grant to Hopkins is the only one in Maryland, and its first installment of $2,357,370 is the fourth largest in the country.

"We are extremely pleased that Maryland was selected to receive one of the highest grant awards," said state superintendent of schools Nancy S. Grasmick. "I want to congratulate Hopkins and the other partner institutions for their outstanding work. This grant will support statewide efforts to improve student achievement, including in Baltimore City, by helping school systems recruit, retain and provide the highest quality teachers in our schools."

The Baltimore City public school system already has pledged $6 million of its own funds to cover tuition costs of the students recruited to the teacher-training programs at Hopkins, UMBC and Morgan, provided that these graduates continue to teach in the system for five years.

"I am thrilled that through this grant we will improve and upgrade the quality of instruction in our schools by increasing the pool of excellent, urban-oriented teachers available to us to hire," said Betty Morgan, chief academic officer of the Baltimore City schools.

"I believe this was a well-done grant proposal that reflects how good something can be when different agencies and entities collaborate closely with the school system," Morgan added.

In addition to the city's financial commitment, approximately $800,000 in cash and in-kind contributions has been pledged by businesses to support the new program, Fessler noted.

"This network of school-university-community-business partnerships to recruit, prepare, support and retain a new generation of teachers will mark a fundamental change in the way Hopkins, Morgan and UMBC prepare today's and tomorrow's teachers," Fessler said.

Of particular importance in the new teacher-training plan, Fessler noted, is a "close collaboration" that will be formed between the education divisions at Hopkins, UMBC and Morgan and their respective arts and sciences faculties. Such collaboration will ensure that newly trained teachers are fully versed in whatever discipline they plan to pursue, be it mathematics, science, history or English.

The programs also will establish an "electronic learning community" to facilitate continuous contact between teacher candidates and their instructors and mentors.

"We will be creating a model for preparing teachers that will be of tremendous interest nationwide," Fessler said.

"For too long, the educational needs of students in high-need schools have been neglected," said John Y. Lee, director of Urban Teacher Education at UMBC. "Our school-university partnership will break from that tradition of neglect by recruiting, preparing, mentoring and retaining the highest quality teachers necessary to improve student learning and achievement so that the needs of all students, especially those in high-need schools, will be met."

Patricia Morris, dean of Education at Morgan, said the grant "will provide a golden opportunity for Morgan State, Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland Baltimore County to enhance our relationship with the Baltimore City public schools and to recruit the best and brightest young people from around the country to consider going into teaching, while at the same time providing ongoing support for beginning teachers.

"Another amazing thing about this grant is that it will permit us to provide support for veteran teachers in Baltimore, enabling them to be even more effective," Morris added. "Baltimore is making quite an investment in this program, and we are going to be helping Baltimore to get a good return on that investment."

The future teachers recruited and trained under this grant will be required to spend at least five years in high-need schools under a contract that will provide prorated loan forgiveness for tuition and, in some cases, stipends.