An initiative that’s changing the teaching profession across Texas
By Thea Ulrich Lewis, Director of Raising Texas Teachers
Part of our strategy at the Charles Butt Foundation is to identify persistent system-level problems facing the field of education and to pilot solutions that can be sustained without philanthropic investment.
Back in 2016, our team (formerly the Raise Your Hand Texas Foundation) conducted an analysis of the pressing problems in the field of education in Texas.
We saw an impending crisis when it came to our teacher workforce. The number of teachers who were approaching retirement age was steadily increasing, while at the same time, the number of new teachers entering the field steadily declined. These factors contributed to persistent shortages in critical subject areas, such as special education, math, science, and bilingual / English as a second language.
An initiative is born
In 2017, we launched the Raising Texas Teachers initiative as a response to these needs. At the Foundation, we believe every student in every classroom across Texas must have an effective teacher every year.
Our colleague, Erik Mein, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies & Educator Preparation at the University of Texas at El Paso, put it well, “It’s a matter of equity that every child in every classroom has access to high-quality learning experiences … It just is of utmost importance that every teacher who enters the classroom has the high-quality preparation that kids deserve them to have.”
Raising Texas Teachers is a three-pronged teacher workforce strategy that aims to: diversify and deepen the talent pool through the Charles Butt Scholarship for Aspiring Teachers, raise the quality of teacher preparation statewide through University Partnerships, and elevate the status of the teaching profession through a state-wide campaign.
It’s not enough to incentivize more young people to enter the field of teaching, but is essential to change the public perception of the profession to ensure it is elevated to a level of respect and admiration that is deserving of a career that requires such high skills.
Reflecting on and celebrating five years of work
Since launching the Raising Texas Teachers initiative in 2017, we’ve provided over $10 million in scholarships to almost 700 future teachers and partnered with 29 university-based teacher preparation programs to improve the quality of teacher preparation statewide. Over 63% of new teachers certified through university undergraduate programs in Texas are trained by these universities.
invested to date
university-based teacher preparation programs across the state supported through Raising Texas Teachers
total scholarships awarded
of new teachers certified through university undergraduate programs are trained by these universities
We have also done polling, focus groups, and storytelling to amplify the voices and experiences of teachers. And we’ve worked with a consortium of business, associations, agencies, and chambers of commerce across the state on concerted campaigns to celebrate, honor, and affirm Texas teachers.
In this new Raising Texas Teachers video, you can learn more about the initiative through the voices of those most intimately involved. Our grantees and partners at all levels are professionals committed to communal learning, being vulnerable, and pushing themselves and their systems forward to ensure all students in Texas have the excellent teachers and educational opportunities they deserve.
I like the idea of being part of a community of people who see teaching as a profession that can have a significant impact. I wanted to have that support and hopefully be part of that support for others.Staffannie Alter, English Language Arts Teacher
Charles Butt Scholar Alum, Rice University
The beautiful thing about being part of this group is realizing that there are other university preparation programs that were struggling with the exact same problems that we were, one. Then we have a place to talk about those problems and get better together faster, because we can build off of one another’s work.Dr. Amy Richards, Clinical Associate Professor
University Partner, Southern Methodist University
While the state’s challenges in hiring and retaining exceptional teachers have only deepened, the participants featured in this video are at the forefront of working together to improve teaching in Texas.
We hope you’ll take the time to watch the video and celebrate the hard work of Raising Texas Teachers participants. The video includes the voices of teacher educators, future teachers, and Foundation staff members who have worked together over the past five years. In that time, we’ve made lasting relationships, learned together, and worked hard to reach our common goal – to support the teachers and students of Texas.