TeachPlus is one of those Gates-funded teacher organizations that is supposed to provide a different perspective on teaching than the teachers’ unions. It can be counted on to advocate for the interests of new teachers who allegedly want merit pay, don’t care about job protections, and want to be judged by the test scores of their students. The teachers for whom it seems to speak are part of the New American Economy, where jobs are short-term, not seen as part of a career.
TeachPlus has just conducted a survey of teachers. Its first startling discovery is that “For the first time in almost a half-century, teachers with ten or fewer years experience comprise over 50% of the teaching force. We refer to these teachers as the New Majority.” This “new generation” of teachers–unlike, we may suppose, the older generation of veterans–have “high expectations for their students and a strong desire to build a profession based on high standards.”
The “new generation” wants student growth to be part of teacher evaluations (the veterans do not); the new generation wants students growth to count for at least 20 percent of their evaluation (the veterans do not); the new generation wants to change compensation and tenure so younger teachers (themselves) can get higher salaries (the veterans do not). The veterans want licensure tests to cover the skills needed in the classroom (the new generation does not).
Both generations agree they need more time to collaborate with their peers. Both agree on the importance of clear and measurable standards.
And here is the interesting part:
Both agree that current evaluations are not helpful in improving practice (what are current evaluation? Using test scores to measure teacher quality.)
Both agree that a longer school day would not be helpful “to support students more effectively.”
Both agree that increasing class size to pay some teachers more would be a mistake.
The takeaway: Teachers, young and old, agree and disagree on various “reform” proposals.
On two issues they are united: They do not see the value of a longer school day, and they do not want larger class sizes in exchange for higher pay.
But a matter that should concern us all: Current “reform” policies are driving experienced teachers out of the nation’s classrooms. This cannot be good for anyone. It is certainly not good for the young teachers, who need senior teachers to help them improve.
How can a profession become “great” by demoralizing and ousting those who know the most?
Who would go to a hospital in an emergency and insist on being treated by an intern, not a senior physician?
Who would want their legal affairs to be handled by a lawyer who just graduated law school if they could get a senior partner instead?
When will President Obama, Secretary Duncan, Bill Gates, Eli Broad, and all the other people driving current policy realize that they are inflicting harm on the nation’s education system?