The foundation is airing two 30-secod spots that talk about the importance of teachers and ask viewers if they are ready to become teachers themselves. The ads will appear in Minnesota, South Dakota and North Dakota throughout May on television and also online.
The main reason for the ads is that these states are going to see a huge exodus of teachers this decade. Almost half of the teachers in the upper Midwest are going to retire or leave the profession. The Bush Foundation is investing $40 million to team up with partner universities to help these states recruit, train and support new teachers in the classroom.
The campaign is targeted at people the Bush Foundation calls ''Change Makers''. Peter Hutchinson, president of the Bush Foundation says that these are people who are driven by a desire to improve people's lives. The ads are going to target high school students and beginning college students.
The program aims to recruit at least 25,000 highly effective teachers in the next ten years. The urban areas in these states have a relatively easier time getting teachers. But the challenge is to find good teachers, or sometimes even the relevant subject matter teacher in more rural areas.
This is especially true for math and science teachers. And Buresh predicts that it will get harder as the baby boomers retire. The campaign to recruit more teachers is really aimed at people who can be teachers in the next 2-3 years.
Another major challenge is changing people's perceptions regarding the pay that teachers get. North Dakota's teachers are 49th among the 50 states in average salaries for public school teachers. The teaching profession today is also seen as been a tough field to work in.
The data is from 2008-09 from the National Education Association. Nancy Murphy, one of the top officials of Fargo Public Schools, says that the compensation offered is respectable. She also says that the job satisfaction that comes from changing the lives of young students is a big incentive.
One of the biggest challenges that the three states face is that enrollment in education programs is falling. It is no longer the case that the people with the desired aptitude are trying to be teachers. The new initiative aims to change this fact.