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An Excerpt from President Linwood Rose's Remarks at the Greater Madison Fall Banquet
October 12, 2000

I believe that it is now imperative that we focus our effort on responding to another critical need. In Virginia and around the country we now find ourselves facing a tremendous shortage of k-12 school teachers - particularly in the sciences, but in all other academic areas as well. Are there going to be enough teachers to handle the demands of the high technology the 21st Century is bringing?

When asked who had the greatest impact on your life. Other than our parents, we invariably answer by citing the name of a particularly inspiring, or challenging teacher. Certainly a teacher who knew the subject matter, but beyond that, someone who made learning come alive. At some level in our educational experience - in grade school, high school or college - each of us had that one very special teacher . . . the person whose guidance and knowledge made a profound and lasting impression on our lives.

John Woody of the JMU School of Media Arts and Design has put together a short video that features testimonials from six members of Greater Madison who reflect on their memories of that very special teacher.

While you are watching, take a moment and think back - think back about the one teacher who made the big difference in your life. I am confident that you will identify with their memories and their comments.

Could we have the video please.

Can I make a more compelling case for good teachers than that?

Put plainly, We are facing the largest teacher shortage in history. More than a million veteran teachers are nearing retirement. Half the teachers who will be needed in public school classrooms 10 years from now have not yet been hired.

Nationwide, some 2.4 million teachers will be needed in the next decade because of teacher attrition and retirement and increased student enrollment. I have heard our senatorial and presidential candidates talk about the number of teacher positions they either created or will create, but we are now at a point where the greater problem is creating the teachers, not establishing the positions. These candidates should be talking about what is needed to restore to the teaching profession those ingredients essential to attracting some our best young minds to the profession.

By 2008, public school enrollment will exceed 54 million, an increase of nearly two million children over today. Enrollment in elementary schools is expected to increase by 17 percent and in high school by 26 percent.

In addition to the pending retirements of veteran teachers, there is tremendous turnover among young teachers. Twenty percent of all new hires leave teaching within three years. In urban districts, close to 50 percent of newcomers flee the profession during their first five years of teaching.

Virginia is far from immune from the teacher shortage problem. Already many school districts in the state are unable to fill openings with qualified teachers. The approximate 3,500 graduates of teacher education programs within Virginia are not nearly sufficient to meet the demand of about 8,000 new teachers per year.

There are obviously a multitude of reasons for the less-than-adequate numbers of students entering the teaching profession and the high turnover of those already in the classroom. The one overriding reason, however, is clearly salary.

On the average, the beginning teacher makes in the mid to upper 20 thousand dollar range. New engineering graduates and computer scientists start with salaries well into the 40s and higher.

While starting salaries are a problem, clearly a bigger problem is the salary for an experienced teacher. Teachers aged in their mid-40s to 50s earn approximately $30,000 less per year than their peers with similar educations.

We are committed at JMU to do everything within our powers as educators to help provide a steady flow of qualified teachers for our nation's youth.

At James Madison University, our roots as an educational institution are in the preparation of teachers. This was our reason for coming into existence in 1908 and I can assure you that teacher preparation is just as important to Linwood Rose at James Madison University in the year 2000 as it was to Julian Burruss at the State Normal and Industrial School for Women at Harrisonburg when it opened its doors in the fall of 1909.

President Burruss was here before the institution proudly bore the name of James Madison, but I am sure he would agree fully with the words of Madison on the need for education.

To quote Mr. Madison: "Learned institutions ought to be favorite objects with every free people . . . it is universally admitted that a well-instructed people alone can be permanently a free people."

James Madison University exists because the Commonwealth of Virginia wanted an institution of higher learning in the Valley of Virginia that would specialize in training skilled and erudite teachers for the public schools.

We remain true to the directive set forth by the Commonwealth 92 years ago.

Many things have changed at JMU in those years. The academic offerings have expanded enormously - into the liberal arts, the fine arts and performing arts, the sciences, communications, technology, business and health and human services.

But at the traditional heart of JMU's program has always been the teacher education program. We have always been, and continue to be committed to preparing the finest teachers possible.

Our teacher education program has been the standard for quality in the Commonwealth for nearly a century and the program continues to play a major role in the overall mission of the University.

Nearly 1,400 students are involved in teacher programs at JMU - about 10 percent of the student body. JMU annually leads the state in the number of teachers receiving their initial licensure to teach.

There are a multitude of superlative programs in teacher education. To mention a few:
  • Our early childhood education program has been a model for Virginia for a half-century or more.
  • The middle education program has done a superb job of moving the emphasis of its programs to the concept of middle-school philosophy from the older junior high school approach.
  • We clearly have the premier music education program in the state. Look around the high schools in Virginia and I suspect that you will find that more band directors and music teachers are from JMU than any other college or university.
  • Our programs meet the needs of society. Our education administrators and faculty are constantly in touch with school superintendents to make certain that our programs are meeting current needs of the schools. A good example is a new program on teaching English as a second language. With the changing demographics of Virginia, this has become an important element of many Virginia school districts.

James Madison University is poised not only to continue its tradition of providing our state and nation with outstanding teachers, but also to play a leading role in emphasizing the importance of the teaching profession. I intend to assist our faculty in championing the key role of the teacher in our society. We will seek out funding to support efforts to enhance student interest in the teaching profession. We will continue our work with school districts in providing in-service training for practicing teachers, and we will work with community leaders, people like yourselves, to help restore the prominence to the teaching profession that it deserves.

Our society must place a higher value on the role that our teachers play. The future of our communities and our nation depends on an educated and enlightened population.

We need the influence of outstanding teachers - not average teachers, not mediocre teachers, but outstanding teachers - to prepare our children and grandchildren for the future. None of this can be accomplished without cost, but the cost of not doing what must be done will be far greater. As Jefferson said, an ignorant and free nation cannot exist. An educated populous is a prerequisite of a democratic society.

In closing tonight, I would like to share a television commercial with you. It was produced by the Bank of America. Some of you may have seen it. It conveys a powerful message about the need for teachers in our society, and it illustrates the kind of leadership one business is willing to take to make it more desirable to be a teacher. I commend them on their action and hope that others will follow their lead.

Just as they might be doctors, lawyers or financiers children need to be encouraged to be teachers. Our society depends upon it! Thank you for your continued support of JMU and God bless you.

I would now like to ask our six movie stars; Lois Forbes, Alex Gabbin, Mickey Mathews, Chip McIntyre, Gail O'Donnell, and Audrey Smith to stand and be recognized.

Two of the teachers mentioned in the video are also with us tonight and I would like them to stand and be recognized: John Wood, a retired member of the JMU faculty and Mr. Henry Buhl, a teacher at Harrisonburg High School.

I would also like all the teachers in the audience, active or retired to stand and let us recognize you. Finally, I would like to introduce John Woody to you. John is an Associate Professor of Media Arts and Design and he spends countless late nights on projects like the one you have seen tonight. Thank you."

Linwood H. Rose
President, James Madison University
Greater Madison Fall Banquet
October 12, 2000