The Huffington Post has a new education editor, Rebecca Klein. She is clear-thinking and apparently sees through the reform narrative. Welcome, Rebecca.

In her latest post, she gives a recipe for “How to Create a Teacher Shortage,” using Kansas as an example. The ingredients of her recipe will not surprise readers of this blog. The same tactics have been adopted in most states.

Read the entire post. Here is the recipe:

The How To Create A Teacher Shortage Recipe


1 cup of rhetoric against teachers

2 pounds of bills and programs that attempt to de-professionalize teaching (specifically, a proposed bill that would make it easier to jail teachers for teaching materials deemed offensive and a new program that lifts teacher licensure requirements in certain districts)

3 tablespoons of a lack of due process rights for teachers

½ cup of finely diced repeated budget cuts amid a state revenue crisis

1 stalk of a new school funding system that is currently being challenged in state court

2 grinds of growing child poverty throughout the state

3 tablespoons of low teacher pay

1/3 cup of large numbers of teacher retirements

Within a day, the most important newspaper in the nation, The Néw York Times, published a story by Motoko Rich about a national teacher shortage.

She writes:

“ROHNERT PARK, Calif. — In a stark about-face from just a few years ago, school districts have gone from handing out pink slips to scrambling to hire teachers.

“Across the country, districts are struggling with shortages of teachers, particularly in math, science and special education — a result of the layoffs of the recession years combined with an improving economy in which fewer people are training to be teachers.

“At the same time, a growing number of English-language learners are entering public schools, yet it is increasingly difficult to find bilingual teachers. So schools are looking for applicants everywhere they can — whether out of state or out of country — and wooing candidates earlier and quicker.

“Some are even asking prospective teachers to train on the job, hiring novices still studying for their teaching credentials, with little, if any, classroom experience.”

According to the latter story, the shortage is a matter of supply and demand, with barely a nod to the rhetoric of Michelle Rhee, Campbell Brown, and Bill Gates about our “bad teachers” and “broken system.” Nothing about the states that banned collective bargaining. Nothing about the campaign to eliminate due process rights. Nothing about teachers’ disdain for test-based accountability. Nothing about the profound disrespect that reformers have showered on teachers, the false accusations of greed and laziness.

It is hard not to see the demoralization that has caused many veteran teachers to resign and caused a sharp decline in new enrollments in teacher prep programs.

Motoko Rich is a smart reporter. I am hoping she will talk to teachers who are leaving.

Here are some more views, from teacher bloggers. See Chaz here;

And see PerdidoStreetSchool blogger, who correctly says that the Times’ story says there is a teacher shortage without explaining why.

Perdido writes:

Yes, it’s true that a rebounding economy leads fewer people to go into teaching – there are more opportunities available for other kinds of work with “better pay and a more glamorous image.”

But unexplored in the Motoko Rich Times piece is one big reason why teaching isn’t a job with a glamorous image. – the consequences of 10+ years of corporate education reforms.

Every day you open the newspaper or turn on the TV, you see or hear some teacher-bashing crap, some politician like Christie saying he wants to punch teachers in the face, some rag like the Post blaming teachers for destroying the lives of children by using the Three Little Pigs as a DO NOW exercise to teach POV and bias.

Then there are the new “accountability rules” – the constant observations, the evaluation ratings tied to test scores (as high as 50%), the increased work load and stress for the same (or less) money, the decreased benefits, gutted pensions, and diminished work protections like tenure (Kansas is an emblem of this, but it’s happening nationwide too.)

I’d say if kids are looking around at the job landscape and saying “Hell, I can do better than be a teacher!”, they’re right – and smart for saying it.

I teach seniors and I tell the ones who say they want to be teachers to think twice about the major – that teacher bashing and odious accountability measures (most of which simply add more work to a teacher’s load without making them better teachers) make the job miserable these days.

I also tell them that teaching isn’t really a career anymore, that the politicians and educrats and oligarchs who fund education reform see it as a McJob that can be filled by untrained temps who do it for a couple of years and move on (or get moved on by accountability measures) to something else.

And this too:

Mission accomplished for education reformers – a cheap untrained temp workforce is soon going to be commonplace in schools, this will lead to an even bigger “teaching quality crisis” and allow reformers to promote privatization as the answer to the “education crisis.”