On Common Ground: Number 9, Fall 2001

A Welcome to Houston Teachers

Remarks by Arthur K. Smith

Today's teachers face challenges unknown to teachers of one, two, or three generations ago. Many students today come from single parent homes where education is not a priority. They come from diverse cultural and economic backgrounds, and it is not unu sual for Houston teachers to have extreme degrees of multi-lingualism in their classrooms.

High-tech demands increase faster than the ability to provide the teacher training and resources needed to cope with them. Administrators and parents want to see higher test scores. And, there are the other concerns of teachers that include compensatio n and working conditions.

So, tell me again why you are teachers?

I know why. It's the same reason you are here today as Fellows of the Houston Teachers Institute. You have a profound desire to teach and a love for the profession. And you want to continue your education and to develop your skills so that you can obta in that educational edge that will help you provide the vital margin of excellence for your students.

The University of Houston is proud to be a partner with the Houston Independent School District in this program, which is just one example of our commitment to education. Our College of Education, under the leadership of new Dean Robert Wimpelberg, is actively involved in seeking ways to reform education and to improve the way our teachers are taught. We here at the University of Houston send our best wishes to Secretary Rod Paige, who was the University's Commencement Speaker and an honorary degree recipient last May. But all the work that's done in Washington and in Austin, and in our universities and public schools, will not matter if our teachers are not prepared for the classroom of the 21st century. You are taking a big step in that direction in the work of this Institute.

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