Can a $180,000 Infusion Fix Teacher Distribution and Training?

Eighteen Oregon school districts will receive $36,000 each from The Chalkboard Project. While Oregon's public school student population consists of about 34% minority students, only about 8% of public school teachers are minorities in the area, according to the Chalkboard website. The money will go toward fixing this problem as well as making sure that student teachers are allocated in proper proportion to more experienced ones.

Part of Chalkboard's strategy, their press release explains, will involve a type of buddy system. 18 public school districts will work together with 11 universities to achieve the set goals. For example, the David Douglas and North Clackamas districts will partner with Portland University.

Aimee Craig, a spokeswoman for Chalkboard, says that from what they observe, '"there isn't great collaboration between school districts and university partners" at the moment. The new grants aim to change that.

Until recently, Chalkboard focused their energy on developing "career models that are compelling and attractive to potential teachers," according to organization president Sue Hildick. For this reason, says Hildick, "it makes sense to look back earlier in the process."

According to the Oregonian, Chalkboard's program will assign different tasks to each partnership, and provide custom-tailored goals for each. The funding will augment existing state initiatives like The Portland Teachers Program, which seeks to iron out the disparity between minority students and minority teachers in the area.

Other partnerships will focus more on increasing the number of "flight hours" student teachers get in Oregon classrooms before they receive teaching credentials. Districts with higher concentrations of student teachers as a result of Chalkboard's efforts will also receive higher concentrations of veteran teachers.

Judging by comments from Craig and Hildick, it sounds as though Chalkboard is getting ready to relax their efforts on improving teacher experience and simultaneously ramp up their efforts to improve student experience. Future grants will most likely follow suit with the $180,000 one discussed here. A shift away from issues like teacher compensation, previously a popular topic at Chalkboard, to issues that impact students more directly is likely.