Background on Recognition Accorded the Teachers Institute Model, 1980–2010
In 1980 the Rockefeller Commission on the Humanities cited the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute as a promising model of university-school collaboration that “integrates curriculum development with intellectual renewal for teachers.”
In 1982 the National Endowment for the Humanities awarded the Teachers Institute a grant for the dissemination of its model nationally, and revised NEH guidelines to encourage other communities to develop similar programs.
In School and College: Partnerships in Education, a Special Report the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching released at a Yale conference in 1983, Gene I. Maeroff wrote: “Historically, the preparation of teachers has been dominated by higher education. The schools have little to say about it and are rarely consulted. The result is endless finger-pointing about the quality of teaching in the schools.” Maeroff described the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute as one of the rare examples of cooperative school-college partnerships designed to provide “continuing education” to teachers, and in a foreword to the Report, Carnegie Foundation President Ernest L. Boyer wrote, “Every college and university should establish a partnership with one or more school districts to provide educational and cultural enrichment as determined by principals and teachers at the schools.”
In 1984 the American Association for Higher Education (AAHE), Council of Chief State School Officers, National Association of Secondary School Principals, and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching singled out the Institute as a “pioneering and nationally significant program with an exemplary approach for improving public education.”
The Teachers Institute received the 1984 Grand Award from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education as one of the best collaborative programs in the nation.
In 1985 the U.S. Department of Education cited the Teachers Institute as “exemplary” and “among the most substantial and effective” university-school partnerships in the nation.
The Teachers Institute was invited to present its program at the 1985 National Symposium on Private Sector Initiatives, sponsored by the White House.
In the same year, the Institute Director presented testimony before the Senate Subcommittee on Education, Arts, and Humanities. The Committee was considering legislation that would authorize a major national program of teachers institutes in the humanities in all the states. The sponsors of the legislation singled out the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute as a most successful example of precisely the kind of program they envisioned the legislation would establish in many communities across the country.
In 1988 in their report, An Imperiled Generation: Saving Urban Schools, the Board of Trustees of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching recommended that “colleges should have summer and year-long institutes, following the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute model which asks the teachers themselves to shape the content of the program.”
In 1989 in testimony before U.S. Senate and House committees Ernest L. Boyer, President of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, recommended the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute as a model for institutes to be established across the country.
In a speech at the AAHE-sponsored National Conference on School-College Collaboration in 1990, Donald M. Stewart, President of the College Board, said: “As we look to future support of collaborative programs, we believe, in the spirit of [Institute Director] Jim Vivian, that America’s efforts at educational change must begin in the classroom. Educational reform means enlarging the capacity of more young people to learn and achieve. A key to this goal lies in the quality of the relationships of teachers and students in schools. This relationship, in turn, is very dependent on the teachers’ effectiveness as a teacher, on the quality of instruction, on the knowledge and skills he or she brings to the classroom.”
Commenting on the Institute's initiative to establish an endowment, Ernest L. Boyer said: “This is an enormously important program that brings the resources of the University to teachers in the schools in a way that recognizes their own professional stature. The Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute is leading the way to improve teaching and education.”
Also on the occasion of the announcement of the Institute’s endowment initiative, Gordon M. Ambach, the Executive Director of the Council of Chief State School Officers, said: “The Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute is one of the most effective school-university partnerships in America. This partnership has direct impact in the classroom with school and university faculty members working together to strengthen student learning. I am delighted the Institute has support to be a permanent part of the University.”
Theodore R. Sizer, Chairman of the Coalition of Essential Schools and of the Education Department at Brown University, said: “The permanent endowment of the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute is a notable achievement for Yale and for the City of New Haven. The Institute not only signals the University’s commitment to its immediate community, but also powerfully represents the unity of academic interest among those who teach in the University and those who work with younger folk. The Institute was one of the first school-university partnerships, and its permanence gives a new target for those who follow on to reach.”
In 1992, the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute was honored as one of the nation’ s leading school-reform alliances by the Business-Higher Education Forum, a Washington-based organization of corporate and academic chief executives sponsored by the American Council on Education (ACE). ACE President Robert H. Atwell stated that projects like the Institute “illustrate the best hope of the education reform movement in the United States. By bringing together all major sectors of the community and focusing their efforts on disadvantaged minority students, it shows that dramatic educational improvements are possible. Equally important, it emphasizes the continuity of the educational system, from elementary through higher education, demonstrating to disadvantaged students that the doors to educational and economic opportunity remain open.”
In 1995, Sheldon Hackney, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, said: “The Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute is the first and foremost of its kind, serving as a model of how a university and a city school system can work together to improve the teaching in urban schools. The NEH is proud to have been part of this effort since the beginning.”
In 1997 in Creative America, its Report to the President, the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities recommended partnerships to “provide professional development for teachers; improve instruction in the arts and the humanities by encouraging colleges, universities and cultural organizations to cooperate with local school systems; and provide incentives to college and university faculty to develop collaborations with school teachers, educational administrators, and artists.” The Committee cited the Institute as an “exemplary” partnership of this type: “Teachers in the arts and the humanities need the time and resources to participate in professional development to enrich their own knowledge and to gain practical ideas for their classrooms. At the community level, innovative partnerships have formed among some universities, cultural institutions, and school districts. Yale University and the public schools of New Haven, Connecticut have worked in partnership since 1978 to strengthen teaching in the city’s schools. The Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute brings college faculty and school teachers together on an equal footing to develop new course material in the humanities and the sciences, and to discuss issues chosen by the teachers themselves.”
In 1998, Gerald N. Tirozzi, U.S. Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education, said: “The Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute has been a beacon of hope for what is possible when a significant partner and an enlightened school district commit to working closely and cooperatively together to enhance teaching and to improve the teaching-learning process.”
In 2001 in a feature article for a special issue of On Common Ground, U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige commented: “I applaud the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute for supplying models for what universities should do. Its projects are not just inspiring, they are creating an environment in which partnerships will be the norm, not the exception. Every great university should be linked to its surrounding schools by a thriving and many-tiered partnership. Observers should not ask why a few universities have partnerships, but why the rest do not.”
In 2002 in the Congressional Record U.S. Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro said, “New Haven has certainly benefited from this tremendous organization which has not only touched the lives of so many teachers, but countless numbers of our children. The Institute has earned a distinguished reputation and has been recognized at every level of government as a model for all communities.”
That year Jonathan F. Fanton, President of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, said, “Having worked in urban universities for more than thirty years, including in New York and Chicago, I have seen many attempts at partnership between institutions of higher education and their local public schools. The Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute is a remarkably effective, enduring example of such collaboration… Drawing upon the distinctive strengths and common interests of a university and an urban school district, the Teachers Institute is an instrument of great promise for other cities across the country. The ultimate aim is to support teaching and learning for students. But the collateral benefits, both for a university and for the city it calls home, are broader. As a face-to-face, intensive, sustained collective undertaking, the Institute is a model that can be adapted and implemented widely.”
In 2004, Rogers M. Smith, Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania authored a report on evaluation of the Yale New Haven Teachers Institute’s National Demonstration Project. Smith concluded: “It is clear that successful Teachers Institutes are not easily achieved. They require, especially, skilled directors committed to the Institute approach; support from top administrative officials on both sides of the partnerships between institutions of higher education and public school districts; the creation of effective mechanisms for broad teacher participation and strong teacher leadership; and solid, usually diverse funding sources. These are demanding requirements. But the National Demonstration Project has shown clearly that they can be met, and that everywhere they are met, the quality of teaching in America’s schools can be significantly improved.”
In 2004, Connecticut Senators Joseph Lieberman and Christopher Dodd introduced a bill (S. 990) to create a grants program to establish Teachers Institutes in states throughout the nation. The Senators’ plan was modeled after the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute. Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro of New Haven introduced a companion measure (H.R. 2663) in the House of Representatives. House cosponsors included Chaka Fattah, Rush D. Holt, Nancy L. Johnson, John B. Larson, Christopher Shays, and Rob Simmons.
In 2007, Connecticut Senators Joseph Lieberman and Christopher Dodd and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro of New Haven introduced similar legislation (S. 2212 and H.R. 3209), which was cosponsored in the House by Joe Courtney, John Larson, and Joe Sestak.
In 2009, Rogers M. Smith authored a report on Evaluation of Teachers Institute Experiences. He concluded: “Teachers Institutes significantly strengthen teachers in all five of the major dimensions of teacher quality. They also include all seven elements now recognized to be crucial in successful professional development programs. The study also shows that Institute participants had nearly twice the retention rate of non-participants in local teaching. Because research suggests that experience within a district is more strongly associated with teaching effectiveness than earlier experiences elsewhere, this finding is especially notable.”
Commenting on that report, New Haven Public Schools Superintendent Reginald R. Mayo said: “The Institute has made an enormous contribution to strengthening teaching and learning in the New Haven Public Schools. It has been a significant factor in school improvement by exciting teachers and sparking student interest in learning. I have seen how powerful Institute participation can be for creating a very fruitful collaboration among teachers within a school, and in stimulating them to learn more about the subjects they teach and to develop new classroom materials that excite and engage students in learning. Maintaining this kind of teacher quality in our schools has never been more important, so the Report’s finding about the retention of Institute participants is especially encouraging.”
In its 2010 Report to the President Prepare and Inspire: K-12 Education in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) for America’s Future, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology wrote: “A variety of programs attempt to bridge the gaps between public schools and the STEM professional community, but not all such programs provide teachers and schools with resources that are useful in their classrooms. Nonetheless, several programs demonstrate the potential for such connections to benefit K-12 schools. For example, Teachers Institutes, which began in 1978 in New Haven and have since expanded to cities across the country, pair universities and school districts, allowing teachers to identify the topics on which they would like to collaborate. University professors then guide these teachers through inquiry-based learning in a STEM subject area.… It is important that we find ways to harness these sources of partnership and expertise in a committed, sustained way relevant to K-12 teachers and students.”