A Conversation About Education: Recap

Dr. Thelma Melendez de Santa Ana

On November 11th, Dr. Karen Symms Gallagher, the Dean of USC’s Rossier School of Education, and Dr. Thelma Melendez de Santa Ana, a USC Rossier Alumnae and President Obama’s Assistant Secretary of Elementary and Secondary Education, hosted “A Conversation About Education” in Washington D.C. MAT@USC faculty, staff, students and prospective students, all of whom share a passion for educational reform, joined these two women for what was an engaging event on the future of education.

One major educational concern that Dr. Gallagher and Dr. Melendez de Santa Ana focused on is teacher retention. Eyes widened as the audience heard the statistic that one third of current teachers are retiring, leading to a huge shortage of experienced and well-trained educators in districts across the country. Both Drs. Gallagher and Melendez de Santa Ana support the idea of compensating deserving teachers and discussed ideas on teacher compensation alternatives. Compensating effective educators is a reasonable way to help lessen the severity of the issue of teacher retention. The country as a whole is struggling to retain teachers, especially qualified teachers, but this is becoming a particularly difficult issue in districts in low socioeconomic areas. In response to this concern, the Federal Government is in the process of identifying low-performing schools around the U.S. and formulating plans to help implement positive reforms within these districts.

Dr. Karen Symms Gallagher

“The Rossier School of Education is focusing on making changes in all the right places, whether it is minimizing the achievement gap, holding teachers to a higher standard, or pinpointing problems of practice to help solve the problem of teacher retention,” explained one member of the audience, MAT@USC Admissions Counselor Feather De La Mata. Audience members left the presentation with a shared understanding that teachers are vital in the process of helping students succeed. Current and prospective students with USC’s MAT@USC online Masters in Teaching program commented on having gained a greater understanding of the importance of educational reform.

The team of administrators, faculty, students and alumni of the University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education and the MAT@USC are determined to make a positive impact in the world of education. There is an extremely high demand for more great teachers in this country and together we are determined to help solve this shortage and make a difference in our country’s educational system.