STANFORD SOCIAL INNOVATION REVIEW: Boots on the School Ground

"The federal government isn’t usually known as a hotbed of innovation, but Troops to Teachers has become a model for matching untapped resources with unmet needs. Such models have become even more important with 77 million baby boomers beginning to reach retirement age and a growing national need for teachers."

That's a passage from an article I wrote about the Troops to Teachers program, which appears in the fall issue of the Stanford Social Innovation Review.

Troops to Teachers is a Pentagon program (funded by the Department of Education) that helps retiring military personnel take up second careers as public school teachers.

The article is an adaptation of a longer paper published by Civic Ventures, "Troops to Teachers: A Model Pathway to a Second Tour of Duty."

As good an idea as Troops to Teachers is, much more could be done. The program is both under promoted and underfunded, meaning far fewer veterans are able to make the switch to teaching than might be interested. What I found most interesting was what might be called the "market price" for recruiting and retaining high-quality teachers. Troops to Teachers provides up to $10,000 in subsidies and bonuses after three years. IBM's Transition to Teachers provides up to $15,000, plus time off work. Math for America, in New York, provides a whopping $90,000 bonus, on top of a regular teaching salary, in return for a five year commitment.
Barnett Berry, of the Center for Teaching Quality in Chapel Hill, N.C., told me, "I think $30,000 is nothing if you could keep them for five years."