Achieving Teacher and Principal Excellence: A Guidebook for Donors

Stafford Palmieri

Andrew J. Rotherham
Philanthropy Roundtable
September 2008

This new handbook gives philanthropists practical advice on how to support initiatives to boost teacher and principal quality. "Essentially," explains author Andrew Rotherham, "today's school leaders are running a complicated small business, often with a seven- or eight-figure budget, but they are doing so without adequate training or support." Two main groups are involved in this enterprise--innovative and entrepreneurial organizations training and mentoring teachers and principals (e.g. Teach For America, New Leaders for New Schools) and policy shops providing theoretical guidance (e.g. the Progressive Policy Institute, Fordham). And all are privately funded. Enter philanthropy. Rotherham provides a list of five strategic ways in which philanthropists can noticeably affect teacher and principal quality by supporting both kinds of organizations: attracting new talent, reforming teacher and principal training, distributing educators in neediest areas, restructuring incentives to reward excellence, and investing in research and advocacy. All five strands seem straightforward and worthy, and Rotherham lists examples of leading organizations in each of these five areas. Be warned, though, that this book is truly meant for donors. The casual reader's eyes may glaze over as it discusses how and where to give in each strategic area and examples of past philanthropy and its effects. But if you stick with it, you'll eventually reach page 111, where Rotherham lists ten sensible ideas to fill holes in education policy that need further financial support. You can find the (free) pdf version here.