New Teacher Advocate — Fall 2012
Change Language:
Then & Now A Tribute
George Mehaffy

Nearly 20 years ago, Kappa Delta Pi launched New Teacher Advocate. As President of Kappa Delta Pi at the time, I had the privilege of writing a brief introduction to the newsletter, explaining its significance. In that column, I argued for the vital importance of supporting new teachers as they enter the profession. Though, in the intervening years, some things have changed dramatically—for both the teaching profession and our nation—the need to support new teachers remains a critical obligation.

This obligation is more critical now than in 1993, because we now know, with a precision unavailable then, just how essential teachers are to student success. Teachers, it turns out, are the most important variable in student academic success, outweighing the effects of socioeconomic circumstance, neighborhood, and even family background. Factoring into this commitment today are teacher evaluation and the growing link between teacher assessment and student learning outcomes—a thorny issue that challenges policy makers and practitioners.

Volume 20 reflects 20 years of continuous publishing (four issues annually) of Kappa Delta Pi’s niche publication for beginning educators, New Teacher Advocate, first as an 8-page newsletter and then transitioning to a 16-page magazine, which is now also available in digital format. With a circulation of 16,000–18,000 copies each issue, nearly 1 million copies have been printed and distributed over the years. The impact is difficult to assess, but I am confident that a huge number of new and soon-to-be teachers have been well-served by this magnificent collection of ideas and insights.

This 20-year saga also has another story, perhaps not as well-known. The New Teacher Advocate began as a chapter project at San Diego State University, where I served as the director of the School of Teacher Education. Our local chapter, ably led by Professor Anne Nagel, developed the concept and original newsletter. Seeing the great success enjoyed by the local chapter, I suggested asking KDP to make it a national newsletter.

The rest, as they say, is history. Kappa Delta Pi’s strength always has been the synergy between local chapters and the international office, and the willingness of creative, imaginative students and chapter leaders to identify new models and approaches for service to the profession. It gives me great joy to see this project, started so long ago, continuing to flourish.