The discourse about the state of America’s education system involves parents, educators, community leaders and members of local communities. Almost every American has strong opinions about falling scores, cheating scandals, standardized testing and teacher attrition that has combined to create a system in crisis. Recently, the Rand Corporation, an education think tank, released its latest studies about American education in the 21st century. The studies paint a worrying overview of America’s schools. The research highlights a number of issues including key findings that show that teachers with a higher measured teaching ability are more likely to leave their positions for other better-paying, more prestigious jobs.
This has created a situation, the Rand Corporation’s study summarizes, in which less-experienced, less-effective teachers are remaining in the classrooms. This impacts negatively on the entire educational system and is one of the main reasons for the failing school system.
The educational system must contend with the question of how to retain high-performing, experienced teachers in the classrooms. This dilemma has been occupying professionals and lay leaders for almost 50 years. Suggestions for addressing this issue include creating better teacher training programs, introducing teacher mentoring programs, raising teachers’ pay and creating programs that will improve teacher-administrator relations.
School districts differ in the extent to which their high-performing teachers leave the profession but the Rand Corporation’s study indicates that the problem of teacher attrition affects all schools nationwide.
Lowell Milken from Milken Family Foundation (MFF) has created a special award which is specifically designed to address the issue of how the nation’s educational leadership can hope to keep America’s best teachers in the classroom. The award is based on the idea that the most important school-based factor in a child’s education involves having an effective teacher as an educator and as a role-model. The Award was created to promote the premise that, when a highly successful teacher is recognized for his or her achievements, s/he is more likely to remain in the classroom.
MFF recognizes that the goal of a public school education should be one of preparing the students for their life in the real world, whether that may include joining the work force or advancing on to a higher educational institution. Toward that goal MFF annually presents theMilken Educator Award to deserving teachers — “unsung heroes” — who harness their vision and creativity to shape their students’ successful integration into their post-school lives. Recognition of outstanding educators via the Milken Educator Awards provides an opportunity to encourage these outstanding teachers while arousing enthusiasm other educators which may motivate them to emulate the Award winners.
The Milken Educator Awards aim to inspire excellence in the field of education by honoring highly effective K-12 teachers who teach in the public school system. Award recipients generally include early- to mid-career educators who live and work in the United States. Many of the Milken Educator Award recipients receive grants which they are then free to apply towards furthering their classroom objectives.
As of 2013 the Milken Family Foundation has invested over 135 million dollars in the Milken Education Award project.