Louis V. Gerstner, Jr., Former Head of IBM, Launches "The Teaching Commission"

Establishes National Taskforce To Focus Exclusively on U.S. Teaching Crisis

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NEW YORK, N.Y. - 22 Jan 2003: Louis V. Gerstner,Jr., the former chairman and CEO of IBM, today announced that he will extend his long-standing commitment to U.S. education reform by leading a new national effort focused exclusively on improving the quality of teaching in America's public schools.

Gerstner announced the creation of The Teaching Commission -- a cross section of national leaders from business, education and government -- that will closely examine all aspects of teacher quality, including recruitment, retention, training, preparation, compensation and evaluation.

"If we want all our students to achieve at world-class levels, we must recruit and retain the best teachers," said Mr.Gerstner. "In order to do so, we need a detailed plan and the political will to act. That is the objective of The Teaching Commission."

The initial members of The Teaching Commission include:

Gaynor McCown, a former teacher, special assistant to the secretary of education, and White House advisor, will serve as executive director of The Commission and will drive the execution of the group's strategic direction.

According to Ms. McCown, "We're going to deliver a set of specific recommendations and measure our success based on their implementation."

The Teaching Commission will immediately undertake a detailed analysis of issues related to the recruitment and retention of high-quality teachers in the United States. The analysis, which will also include looking at teaching in other countries as well as other professions in this country, will serve as a baseline for The Teaching Commission to issue a set of concrete policy recommendations early in 2004. The Commission will then focus on getting these recommendations implemented at the federal, state and local levels.

"Teachers are the most important point of contact with students, and research confirms that teaching is the strongest single determinant in academic achievement," said Vartan Gregorian, president of the Carnegie Corporation. "Yet many of our schools, particularly in poor areas, are filled with teachers who are ill prepared to lead our children to levels of performance needed to succeed in this fast changing world."

The system in place today for preparing and supporting American teachers has not gone through a transformation in decades. As a result, students now facing higher academic standards and more rigorous testing demands, are struggling more than ever.

Consider that:

The Teaching Commission, a multi-year effort, will be funded by private donations and headquartered in New York City at the CUNY Graduate Center in Manhattan.

For additional information on The Teaching Commission, please visit www.theteachingcommission.org.

Louis V. Gerstner, Jr. and Public Education

In 1968, while a rising young executive at McKinsey, Lou Gerstner was asked by Managing Director Marvin Bower - who was also his mentor - how he planned to use his skills for the greater good of the community. Bower suggested that Lou join him at a committee meeting to improve public schools.

"So I went to the meeting, and now thirty-five years later, I'm still working on it." Louis V. Gerstner, Jr.




"We are here because we are Americans. And because we are mothers and fathers. Our country has a crisis. It's hurting our kids and it will rob them of their future. It's time to stop pointing fingers and assigning blame. It's time to stop debating. It's time to stop making excuses. It's time to set standards and achieve them. That's the way to improve our schools. It's the right thing for America. It's the right thing for our economy. Most of all, it's the right thing for our kids." Gerstner, The 1996 National Education Summit

"This work will be extremely difficult. At every turn, the barriers to change are held in place by an entrenched bureaucracy with strong incentives to maintain the comfort of the status quo. You're all going to face the predictable sniping, charges of discrimination and allegations that we're hurting people because they can't earn passing grades because of the new standards. Look, people are getting hurt right now. Every day. They're being sentenced to enter the workforce with diplomas that have all the value of a Russian Ruble. We can't delay until some ill-defined point in time when we think the kids will be ready. We can't cut and run when some students can't meet the standards. We have to redouble our efforts and provide the help they need. We have to have some faith in our children and our teachers. They'll deliver. It's up to us to give them the chance." Gerstner, The 1999 National Education Summit



"Once and for all it's time to stop talking about making the teaching profession more attractive, and do it. We can hang our heads, we can moan about teachers' pay. We can say it's too low, call it unfair, or we can leave here with a commitment to fix the problem: Competitive salaries, pay tied to performance, and pay for expertise. Teaching is a profession. Let's treat it like one. In addition to fixing the compensation issues, we have to provide the kinds of assets that are taken for granted in other professions, access to high-quality teaching materials, tools and professional development." Gerstner, The 2001 National Education Summit


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