Like many cities, New Orleans has a teacher shortage. A $13 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education is meant to address that shortage by beefing up the city’s pipeline of qualified educators.
The money is going to teacher preparation programs at Xavier and Loyola Universities, as well as nonprofits that certify teachers, including Teach For America - Greater New Orleans, teachNOLA, and the Relay Graduate School of Education.
The first wave of post-Katrina teacher recruitment drew young, mostly-white teachers from out of state. But Xavier University education professor Renee Akbar says programs will use this grant to recruit largely from the New Orleans community.
"In our second phase of, I guess, recovery from Katrina," Akbar says, "this is what we need — we need folks that are going to stay here and build this community to the great city that it should be and will be."
These different programs haven’t always seen eye-to-eye when it comes to teacher preparation. Universities' more traditional programs emphasize research and theory, while the nonprofits focus on test scores, and classroom management techniques popular in charter schools. But, Akbar says no one program alone can solve the teacher shortage.
"We have to put aside our philosophical differences and come together under one goal and that is to provide the best qualified teacher for every student in New Orleans Public Schools," she says.
The grant will be used to train 900 new teachers over the next three years.
A spokesman for Xavier says the budgets were based on how much each organization was planning to match. Each organization is asked to provide 25 percent in matching funds.
Over three years of the grant, the allocations to each entity will roughly equal the following:
- Xavier University of Louisiana: $3 million
- Loyola University of New Orleans: $900,000
- teachNOLA: $1 million
- Teach for America - Greater New Orleans: $3 million
- Relay Graduate School of Education: $2 million
- New Schools for New Orleans: $900,000