Archives for category: Teacher Shortage

North Carolina has critical needs that the state’s General Assembly has made worse. A court decision—called Leandro—requires the state to improve its schools. One of its recommendations is to:

provide a qualified and well-prepared, and diverse teaching staff in every school. Working conditions and staffing structures should enable all staff members to do their job effectively and grow professionally while supporting the academic, personal and social growth of all their students.

 

Highlights of Findings

#1 Teacher supply is shrinking and shortages are widespread. Budget cuts have reduced the total number of teachers employed in North Carolina by 5% from 2009 to 2018 even as student enrollments increased by 2% during that same time period.

#3 Experienced, licensed teachers have the lowest annual attrition rates. Teach for America teachers, on the other hand, had the highest attrition rates. National trends show that teachers without prior preparation leave the profession at two to three times the rate of those who are comprehensively prepared.

#4 Teacher demand is growing, and attrition increases the need for hiring. The total number of openings, including those for teachers who will need to be replaced, is expected to be 72,452 by 2026….

Recommendations:
1.Increase pipeline of diverse, well-prepared teachers who enter through high-retention pathways and meet the needs of the state’s public schools.

2. Expand the NC Teaching Fellows program. [The General Assembly cut the funding of the NC Teaching Fellows program to prepare career teachers and transferred its funding to TFA.]

3. Support high-quality teacher residency programs in high-need rural and urban districts through a state matching grants program that leverages ESSA title II funding.

4. Provide funding for Grow-Your-Own and 2+2 programs that help recruit teachers in high-poverty communities.

5. Significantly increase the racial-ethnic diversity of the North Carolina teacher workforce and ensure all teachers employ culturally responsive practices.

6. Provide high-quality comprehensive mentoring and induction support for novice teachers in their first 3 years of teaching.

7. Implement differentiated staffing models that include advanced teaching roles and
additional compensation to retain and extend the reach of high-performing teachers.

8. Develop a system to ensure that all North Carolina teachers have the opportunities they
need for continued professional learning to improve and update their knowledge and practices.

9. Increase teacher compensation and enable low-wealth districts to offer salaries and other
compensation to make them competitive with more advantaged districts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Supporting public schools through information,

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Teacher Pipeline

North Carolina’s teachers are dedicated and hardworking, and their professionalism has made our public school system a jewel among Southern states. North Carolina leads the nation in number of teachers who have earned certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Disappointingly, we do not compensate our educators accordingly. The average teacher salary was $53,975 for 2018-19, according to the NEA, $7,755 less than the national average of $61,730.

 

It is also critical to remember that this average includes the salaries of veteran teachers who receive longevity and master’s pay, which newer teachers do not. With reduced job security, low pay and no incentive to get advanced degrees, the appeal of a teaching job has been significantly reduced in North Carolina.

 

Enrollment in undergraduate education programs across the UNC system is down, negatively impacting our once vibrant teacher pipeline. There are 15 UNC system schools with teacher preparation programs, and all are reporting declines in enrollment in their degree and licensure programs. The severe shortage of math and science teachers and middle school teachers for all subjects is a critical and growing problem.

 

As the WestEd report shows, we must work to provide a qualified and well-prepared, and diverse teaching staff in every school. For our students living in poverty, with little access to educational opportunities, an effective, experienced and qualified teacher is critical to their educational success. We must all work together to make this a reality.

 

We know that teachers and students depend on and benefit from our school support staff. These hardworking, valuable, dedicated individuals have been left out of pay increases for far too long. It is imperative we press lawmakers to pay them a living wage and start showing them the respect they deserve!

 

Leandro: A Recap

If you’re just tuning in, here’s a brief summary of Leandro and the recently released WestEd report. You can find more information on our website.

 

In 1994, in Leandro v. State, parents, students and school districts in low-wealth, rural counties filed a lawsuit alleging that students in these counties were denied their right to a sound basic education under the NC constitution.

 

The case affirmed that inequitable and inadequate school funding bars access to a sound and basic public education. In 2002, the court found that there was a violation of students’ rights to a sound, basic education and ordered the State to remedy this violation.

 

On December 10, 2019, the WestEd report was finally released confirming what educators and public school advocates believe: our public school system does not meet the educational needs of all children. High poverty, high needs school districts bear the brunt of these inequities.

 

The report estimates the state will need to spendnearly $7 Billion to properly address education funding. The report detailed the following critical needs. Over the next several weeks, we will be taking a deeper dive into each one.

 

1. Revise the state funding model to provide adequate, efficient, and equitable resources.

 

2. Provide a qualified, well-prepared, and diverse teaching staff in every school.

 

3. Provide a qualified and well-prepared principal in every school.

 

4. Provide all at-risk students with the opportunity to attend high-quality early childhood programs.

 

5. Direct resources, opportunities, and initiatives to economically disadvantaged students.

 

6. Revise the student assessment system and school accountability system, and statewide system of support for the improvement of low-performing and high-poverty schools.

 

7. Build an effective regional and statewide system of support for the improvement of low-performing and high-poverty schools

 

8. Convene an expert panel to assist the Court in monitoring state policies, plans, programs, and progress.

 

What happens next? Public education advocates are waiting to see if: 1) Judge Lee will order the NCGA to fund WestEd recommendations and/or 2) Will the NCGA take action on their own to fund the recommendations? Stay tuned!

ICYMI

Highlights From Recent Education News ​

The State Board of Education is considering changes to how it approves contracts after North Carolina Superintendent Mark Johnson signed a $928,000 contract late Tuesday night without the board’s knowledge.

 

Lawmakers return Tuesday. Will they finally vote on a budget?

 

On the education front, NC can invest in early childhood education and “commit to North Carolina’s constitutional responsibility to deliver a sound, basic education.”
A Charlotte voucher school announced it would not open for the second semester, leaving 145 students in limbo. The school is a former charter school that closed and reopened as a private school.

 

State Superintendent Mark Johnson charged Wednesday that thousands of third-grade grade students have been improperly promoted to the fourth grade when they aren’t proficient in their reading skills.

 

In the 2020-21 school year, high school freshmen will be required to take an economics and personal finance course before they graduate. To accommodate this class, the State Board of Education adopted new graduation requirements Thursday that say high school students will take one U.S. history course, instead of two.

Impact of Charter Schools Webinar

Sun, Jan 19, 2020 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM EST​

Join us for an in-depth look at the impact of charter schools on the Northeast school districts in Wake County. Our panelists are the Wake Board of Education representatives for Northeast Wake County: Roxie Cash and Heather Scott. They will share data on Northeast Wake Schools and participate in a conversation about how to best balance school choice in public education without damaging the economic vitality of traditional public schools in the same geographic area.

 

REGISTRATION REQUIRED

 

Budget News

The House and Senate are scheduled to reconvene January 14. Will they finally vote on a budget?

Leandro #2nd Recommendation:  Teachers Critical to Student Success

Before winter break, WestEd released their report  on the Leandro case. The report outlined 8 critical needs the state must address in order to fulfill its constitutional obligation to deliver a sound, basic education to all children.

 

The second critical need identified by the WestEd report is to provide a qualified and well-prepared, and diverse teaching staff in every school. Working conditions and staffing structures should enable all staff members to do their job effectively and grow professionally while supporting the academic, personal and social growth of all their students.

 

Highlights of Findings

#1 Teacher supply is shrinking and shortages are widespread. Budget cuts have reduced the total number of teachers employed in North Carolina by 5% from 2009 to 2018 even as student enrollments increased by 2% during that same time period.

#3 Experienced, licensed teachers have the lowest annual attrition rates. Teach for America teachers, on the other hand, had the highest attrition rates. National trends show that teachers without prior preparation leave the profession at two to three times the rate of those who are comprehensively prepared.

 

#4 Teacher demand is growing, and attrition increases the need for hiring. The total number of openings, including those for teachers who will need to be replaced, is expected to be 72,452 by 2026.

 

#5 Salaries and working conditions influence both retention and school effectiveness.
Teacher attrition is typically predicted by the following 4 factors:

  • The extent of preparation to teach
  • Extent of mentoring and support for novices
  • The adequacy of compensation
  • Teaching and learning conditions on the job

The report explained that teacher pay, after climbing for many years, began falling in 2008. Findings also show that the amount of the local supplement paid to teachers does influence retention.

 

#6 Although there has been an increase in the number of teachers of color in teacher enrollments, the overall current teacher workforce does not reflect the student population. Many teachers of color enter through alternative routes, which have higher rates of attrition than more comprehensive paths. Additionally, teacher education enrollments dropped by more than 60% between 2011 and 2016 in minority-serving institutions.​

 

#7 Disadvantaged students in North Carolina have less access to effective and experienced teachers.

For students who come from under served populations, an effective, experienced and qualified teacher is even more critical to their educational success.

 

Recommendations:
1.Increase pipeline of diverse, well-prepared teachers who enter through high-retention pathways and meet the needs of the state’s public schools.

2.Expand the NC Teaching Fellows program.

3.Support high-quality teacher residency programs in high-need rural and urban districts through a state matching grants program that leverages ESSA title II funding.

4. Provide funding for Grow-Your-Own and 2+2 programs that help recruit teachers in high-poverty communities.

5.Significantly increase the racial-ethnic diversity of the North Carolina teacher workforce and ensure all teachers employ culturally responsive practices.

6. Provide high-quality comprehensive mentoring and induction support for novice teachers in their first 3 years of teaching.

7. Implement differentiated staffing models that include advanced teaching roles and
additional compensation to retain and extend the reach of high-performing teachers.

8. Develop a system to ensure that all North Carolina teachers have the opportunities they
need for continued professional learning to improve and update their knowledge and practices.

9. Increase teacher compensation and enable low-wealth districts to offer salaries and other
compensation to make them competitive with more advantaged districts.

 

It is anticipated the recommended actions would result in:

  • Increased number (5,000 annually) of in-state trained and credentialed teachers
  • Increase in teachers of color in the teacher workforce to better reflect the student population (from 20% to 40%)
  • Comprehensive mentoring and induction support provided for all first-, second-, and third-year teachers (approximately 15,500)
  • Competitive teaching salaries in all North Carolina LEAs
  • Teacher attrition statewide at 7% or lower
  • Increased number (annually 1,500) of Teaching Fellows awards
  • Increase in experienced, effective, and certified teachers in high-poverty schools
  • Improved teacher retention in high-poverty schools
  • Improved capacity in districts and schools to provide high-quality, job-embedded professional learning
  • Increased student achievement.

 

Read the full report here.

 

We must restore our teacher pipeline and make teaching a viable, attractive option for students considering career paths. The state must work to restore adequate teacher pay and support. It is also crucial that our teachers reflect the diversity of their classrooms. It will require lawmakers to work together to prioritize adequate funding public education.

 

This is where you can help. Talk to your community about the importance of this report! Tell your representatives in the NCGA how important it is to fully fund schools for all children. Stay tuned for more advocacy ideas from us and our partners in education advocacy!

Teacher Diversity

There has been a great deal of research in the past few years showing the many benefits of a diverse educator workforce. The benefits are both academic and socioemotional and prepare students for the world they will be working and living in.

 

An article from the New York Times states “The homogeneity of teachers is probably one of the contributors, the research suggests, to the stubborn gender and race gaps in student achievement: Over all, girls outperform boys, and white students outperform those who are black and Hispanic.”

 

Researchers from Johns Hopkins University and American University​ found black students who’d had just one black teacher by third grade were 13 percent more likely to enroll in college—and those who had two were 32 percent more likely.

 

There are increasing numbers of students of color in our public schools, but the teaching force is still comprised of mostly white women. It is crucial that our state work to make teaching an attractive, tenable option once again and work towards diversifying our teaching staff.

Early Childhood Grant

The preschool years of a young child’s life are a crucial time in their social, emotional and cognitive development. A high-quality early education program sets up children for academic success. ​

 

On January 9, Governor Roy Cooper announced that North Carolina will receive $56 million in federal funding over the next seven years to support children’s health and well-being, improve access to high-quality early learning for families across the state and invest in the state’s early childhood workforce.

 

The PDG grant invests in the people who shape young children’s healthy development – parents and early childhood professionals. It will help early childhood teachers build the skills needed to support children’s optimal development without having to leave the classroom. By providing job-embedded professional development and coaching, the grant removes barriers that make it difficult for teachers to pursue higher education.

 

In addition, the grant funds a partnership with the Smart Start network to expand access to Family Connects, a nurse home visiting program for parents of newborns; support for families as their children transition into kindergarten; and expanded access to high-quality child care for infants and toddlers. This is the state’s second PDG grant. In 2018, the NCDHHS was awarded a one-year $4.48 million PDG planning grant.

 

Read the full press release here and view the North Carolina Early Childhood Action Plan here.

Candidate Forum

Public Schools First NC, the NC Parent Teacher Association, ​the Public School Forum of North Carolina, and the NC League of Women Voters are pleased to co-sponsor a candidate’s forum for the March primary for NC Superintendent of Public Instruction. This live screening will be held on February 6th, 2020 from 7 PM – 9 PM.

 

David Crabtree, WRAL anchor/reporter, will moderate the forum. The Republican primary candidates will be presented from 7pm-8pm and the Democratic primary candidates will be presented from 8pm-9pm.

 

We will be streaming the forum LIVE (provided by WRAL). You will find the link at wral.comcloser to the event. Please note that this a livestreaming event only, NO TICKETS available to the public.

 

We look forward to a stimulating exchange of ideas about the issues facing public education and hope you’ll join us.

Webinar- Legislative Update

 

Missed our webinar? Click here to listen

 

The NC General Assembly will reconvene on January 14, 2020. In the meantime, we have an update on the public education bills that passed this session and those bills still under consideration.

 

Legislators also provided an overview of funding so far for Pre-K to 12th grade education.

 

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Thousands of teachers in Florida are rallying at the state capitol today to demand higher wages and better working conditions. The Republican-dominated legislature has been handing out public monies to charter schools and for voucher programs, but ignoring the public schools that enroll 85% of the state’s students. Several of the key legislators are related to charter operators. Conflicts of interest are not a problem in Florida. The State Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran–former Speaker of the House–is married to a charter operator.

Bernie Sanders wrote a message of support to the teachers who are speaking out. It appeared in the Sun Sentinel. 

Every Democratic candidate should heed Senator Sanders’ advice (except, of course, billionaire Michael Bloomberg, who wants more privatization, merit pay, and larger class sizes).

This week, tens of thousands of teachers from across Florida are rallying outside the state capitol to demand real support for their public schools. They are taking this action despite the outrageous threats from Republican officials to fire them just for standing up for their students. These educators are part of a massive nationwide movement, from Maine to California, that’s fighting back against years of underfunding, privatization, and draconian high-stakes testing. I am proud to stand with them in this struggle.

Florida educators have good reason to be angry. Their pay is among the lowest in the nation and far too many support staff live below the poverty line. Gov. Ron DeSantis and his fellow Republicans have refused to increase pay for veteran teachers, and yet just last year, they gave corporations half a trillion dollars in tax breaks. As a result, large numbers of teachers are leaving the profession and this year, more than 300,000 children entered classrooms without a full-time teacher.

The indignities and stresses of high stakes testing are another reason teachers are quitting in droves. Like in other states, educators are being made to teach to the test and schools are being forced to sacrifice important subjects like arts education. But in Florida, children are required to take their first standardized test within 30 days of beginning kindergarten and Governor DeSantis wants to extend harsh accountability requirements to preschoolers. That’s not only absurd, it’s also pointless given that testing such young children in this way does not yield reliable results.

Florida’s Republican leaders are also forcing children with severe cognitive disabilities to take standardized tests. This is downright abusive. In one case, the state required the teacher of a critically ill boy with cerebral palsy to regularly document his medical condition. They did not stop even when he lay in a coma on his deathbed. Sadly, the list of such horror stories in the state of Florida goes on and on.

Florida is ground zero of a school privatization movement intent on destroying public education. It has the largest private school voucher program in the country, and each year almost $1 billion in state money goes to private instead of public schools. These private schools operate with little to no accountability and in many cases their students’ math and reading skills have declined.

Moreover, almost half of the charter schools in the state are run by for-profit corporations. These schools perform no better than traditional public schools, yet they still benefit from public support. Between 2006 and 2014, more than a third of the Florida charter schools that received federal funding — almost $35 million — have either closed or never opened to begin with.

It is long past time we put an end to these attacks on public education. Under my Thurgood Marshall Plan, taxpayer money will be used to invest in our teachers and students, and not in corporate welfare. We will establish a national minimum salary of $60,000 for educators; triple funding for Title I schools; and strengthen the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) by ensuring that the federal government provides 50 percent of the support for students with special needs. We will combat privatization by eliminating school voucher programs and placing a moratorium on the expansion of charter schools. And we will put an end to high-stakes testing once and for all.

Betsy DeVos and her billionaire friends in the Walton and Koch families do not want any of this to happen. If it were up to them, we would continue to give corporations trillions of dollars in tax breaks and starve our public education system of the resources it needs to be the best in the world.

 

Since 2007, when the flamboyant Disrupter Michelle Rhee took charge of the schools of D.C. with an unlimited grant of power—no checks, no balances, no constraints—the cheerleaders for Disruption (aka “Reform”) have made bold claims about the D.C. “miracle.” This despite a major cheating scandal that Rhee swept under the rug and despite a graduation rate scandal that followed a nonsensical, false  claim by a high school that 100% of its students graduated.

Now this.

Blogger Valerie Jablow reports that the D.C. public schools face a major crisis of teacher attrition. 

In the wake of years of testimony about horrific treatment of DC teachers, SBOE last year commissioned a study by DC schools expert Mary Levy, which showed terrible attrition of teachers at our publicly funded schools, dwarfing attrition rates nationally.

An update to that 2018 study was just made available by SBOE and will be discussed at the meeting this week.

The update shows that while DCPS teacher and principal attrition rates have dropped slightly recently, they remain very high, with 70% of teachers leaving entirely by the 5-year mark (p. 32). Retention rates for DC’s charter schools are similar to those at DCPS–with the caveat that not only are they self-reported, but they are also not as complete and likely contain errors.

Perhaps the most stunning data point is that more than half of DCPS teachers leaving after 6 years are highly rated (p. 24). This suggests that the exodus of teachers from DC’s publicly funded schools is not merely a matter of weeding out poor performers (as DCPS’s response after p. 70 of this report suggests). Rather, it gives data credence to the terrifying possibility that good teachers are being relentlessly harassed until they give up and leave.

Sadly, that conclusion is the only one that makes sense to me, given that most of my kids’ teachers in my 14 years as a DCPS parent have left their schools–with only a few retiring after many years of service. Most of my kids’ teachers were both competent and caring. Perhaps not coincidentally, they almost always also lacked basic supplies that they ended up buying with their own money; were pressured to teach to tests that would be the basis of their and their principals’ evaluations; and feared reprisal for saying any of that.

(I’m hardly alone in that observation–read some teacher testimony for the SBOE meeting here, including that of a special education teacher, who notes that overwork with caseloads; lack of supplies; and increased class sizes for kids with disabilities are recurring factors at her school that directly lead to teacher burnout.)

In other words, high teacher attrition in DC’s publicly funded schools isn’t a bug but a feature.

 

The New Orleans myth continues to crumble, despite efforts by privatizers to call it a miracle.

The latest state scores (LEAP) were released, and the scores in New Orleans stalled or dipped. While the state average held steady from 2018 to 2019, the proportion of students who reached “mastery” on state tests dropped from 32% to 30%.

New Orleans scores continue to rank significantly below state averages. Louisiana is one of the lowest-performing states in the nation on NAEP.

The few high-performing private charters have selective admissions. Most of the city’s private charter schools are far below the state average. Most of the city’s charters perform far below the city’s average.

Last year, an extraordinary 30% of NOLA teachers quit. The charter promoter New Schools for New Orleans says teachers should have more professional development and higher pay.

Although the privatization lobby likes to claim that test scores and graduation rates have miraculously improved since the district’s schools were privatized, there is no valid comparison because the enrollment before and after Hurricane Katrina is very different. Enrollment was about 62,000 before the storm, and 48,000 now. It is not only much smaller, but less impoverished, with less concentrated poverty. Many of the poorest families left NOLA and never returned.

Florida has a large teacher shortage, about 10,000 at last count. Under the tutelage of Jeb Bush, the Florida Legislature has made testing and privatization the centerpiece of state education policy, while treating public schools and their teachers as enemies for almost 20 years. Florida holds public schools to strict accountability, based on test scores, but imposes no accountability for the religious schools that get vouchers, and showers state money on charters. The Legislature seems to be intent on replacing public schools with charters (half of which operate for-profit) and vouchers and replacing teachers with computers.

This teacher from Polk County has had enough. 

Shanna L. Fox writes:

Stand Up and Fight – An Open Letter of Resignation
There is no business model that can fix education. Students are not products and services that can be quantified. They are living, breathing human beings and their complexity cannot be reduced to cells on a spreadsheet.
Each child comes with their own set of needs, strengths, and abilities. Teachers must be provided the freedom to address those in the way that they professionally know is best based on their training and education.
My expertise is in a Language Arts classroom, so this is what I see most clearly. Students can analyze the hell out of a text. But testing has chipped away at the time teachers have to help their students write to inspire, write to express, write to create, write to change the world. Because what matters, in today’s education system, is one single way of writing. The thing is, our students are whole people, and this only provides them a chance to show a tiny sliver of who they are.
It’s not only Language Arts, though. This toxic testing nightmare has stripped students of the opportunity to foster their creativity in every single subject area. Children are being denied the right to express themselves in their own unique ways. They yearn for the chance to be artistic and imaginative, to be inspired and inspire others, and to innovate and build and solve. They are capable of more than simply working toward a test score. They deserve more.
And it is time for me to stand up and fight for them and the profession I love.
After twenty years, the decision to resign did not come easily. In fact, it has taken me two months to process and collect my thoughts and to muster up the courage to share them here.
Leaving my stable, secure career as a classroom teacher was risky. I was willing to risk everything because giving it all up feels like freedom in comparison to the restriction in which I was living.
My decision to walk away was not impulsive. It was years in the making. I almost walked away last year. I almost walked away two years ago. When I finally gained the courage, it wasn’t the administration, the school, or the students. And it certainly wasn’t my wonderful colleagues. None of those things drove me away. Instead, I was battle weary from years of working in a broken system. And honestly, I could not face another testing season.
I thought this transition would be more difficult than it has been. I thought I would be devastated and depressed. But I haven’t been. Now, I realize why. The truth is, I have been grieving the loss of my profession for years. I was grieving the time I used to have to foster meaningful relationships with my students. I was grieving a time when I was trusted to teach well, based on my training and knowledge. I was grieving a time when student creativity was valued over a test score.
But that simply isn’t the reality anymore. 
Over the past six years, I changed grade levels, campuses, and roles. I even returned to the school that felt like “home” with the people who I consider family. I searched tirelessly for the thing that would reignite my passion for teaching and renew my sense of hope for the future of the public school system. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t find it. 
And I’m not alone. This has been called a silent strike – teachers exiting the profession prematurely or retiring early. But I, for one, will not leave silently. Although I can no longer work within this broken system, I will stand and fight from where I am now. I will work to fix it.
I am not writing to encourage others to leave teaching. This was a personal, individual decision that I made to preserve my physical, mental, and emotional health. But if you do decide to walk away, as I did, please do not be silent. If you’ve already exited or retired early, for your very own unique reasons, please speak up. This shouldn’t be a silent strike. It should be the loudest protest of all time because speaking up for public education is speaking up for our children and, quite frankly, for the foundation of our democracy.
To my colleagues who continue to work for change within their classroom walls, I am standing by your side. I support you. I know you are doing what is best for your students, even with mounting pressures, longer task lists than ever before, and mandates upon mandates. I applaud your strength and dedication. I can’t wait to meet Bella’s amazing teachers during her upcoming journey as a public school student. I hope they are just like you.
To my former students, you are the reason I stayed for twenty years. As a teacher, I learned so much from you. And now, I marvel at your continued success, your ability to achieve your dreams, and your capacity to tackle the obstacles of life. I was proud of you then, and I am proud of you now – every single day. 
To the Polk Education Association, I thank you for your tireless efforts to quell the overwhelming tide of negativity. I know that you fight tooth and nail for every single right, benefit, and dollar that PCPS employees get. I am proud to have been a member of the union. I may not be working from the inside anymore. But I will be here, battling right alongside you. After all, you’re the ones who taught me how.
I’ll be honest. When I was a Polk County Public Schools employee, I didn’t take a stand each time there was an opportunity to do so. But I know that I did not take this career risk to sit on the sidelines and watch.
I’m standing now.
I am standing for our students.
I am standing for our teachers. 
I am standing for public education.
In solidarity,
Shanna R. Fox

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week! If you believe that teachers are important and that they change lives, become an advocate for higher pay for teachers.

The Economic Policy Institute is one of the very few think tanks in D.C. (maybe the only think tank) that is not funded by billionaires. It focuses on economic issues affecting working people and issues of economic justice.

In this post, Sylvia Allegretto and Lawrence Mishel document the wage gap between teachers and their peers with similar education.

Teachers are not paid equitably. They have good reason to strike for higher wages. In most states, teachers are unlikely to get higher wages unless they strike.

Providing teachers with a decent middle-class living commensurate with other professionals with similar education is not simply a matter of fairness. Effective teachers are the most important school-based determinant of student educational performance.1 To promote children’s success in school, schools must retain credentialed teachers and ensure that teaching remains an attractive career option for college-bound students. Pay is an important component of retention and recruitment.

The deepening teacher wage and compensation penalty over the recovery parallels a growing shortage of teachers. Every state headed into the 2017–2018 school year facing a teacher shortage (Strauss 2017). New research by García and Weiss (2019) indicates the persistence and magnitude of the teacher shortage nationwide:

The teacher shortage is real, large and growing, and worse than we thought. When indicators of teacher quality (certification, relevant training, experience, etc.) are taken into account, the shortage is even more acute than currently estimated, with high-poverty schools suffering the most from the shortage of credentialed teachers. (1)

García and Weiss explain why the teacher shortage matters:

A shortage of teachers harms students, teachers, and the public education system as a whole. Lack of sufficient, qualified teachers and staff instability threaten students’ ability to learn and reduce teachers’ effectiveness, and high teacher turnover consumes economic resources that could be better deployed elsewhere. The teacher shortage makes it more difficult to build a solid reputation for teaching and to professionalize it, which further contributes to perpetuating the shortage. In addition, the fact that the shortage is distributed so unevenly among students of different socioeconomic backgrounds challenges the U.S. education system’s goal of providing a sound education equitably to all children…

Teacher wage and compensation penalties grew over the recovery since 2010

  • The public school teacher weekly wage penalty grew from 13.5 percent to 21.4 percent between 2010 and 2018.
  • Teacher benefits improved relative to benefits for other professionals from 2010 to 2018, boosting the teacher benefits advantage from 4.8 percent to 8.4 percent. Despite this improvement, the total compensation (wage and benefit) penalty for public school teachers grew from 8.7 percent in 2010 to 13.1 percent in 2018.

The wage penalty is a result of state policy, not the recession of 2008. Legislators cut taxes and revenues.

Teacher weekly wage penalties vary across the states

  • We report teacher weekly wage penalties for each state for the period 2014–2018. State wage penalties are based on regression-adjusted analyses using a sample of college graduates in each state. Teacher penalties range from 0.2 percent to 32.6 percent.
  • Four of the seven states with the largest teacher wage penalties—Arizona, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Colorado—were, unsurprisingly, ground zero for the 2018 teacher protests, helping to draw national attention to the erosion of teacher pay. In these states, teachers earned at least 26 percent less than comparable college graduates.
  • In 21 states and D.C., the teacher wage penalties are greater than 20 percent.

Tim Slekar, dean of Edgewood College in Wisconsin and consummate education activist, is writing a book about the teacher shortage and he needs your help if you are or were a teacher.

He wrote:

Attention Teachers. According to the media we are facing a teacher shortage. I disagree. We have a teacher exodus that is the result of 30 + years of “accountability.”
I need your voices.
Can you take a moment and answer these questions and send them to me on email (timslekar@gmail.com). Anonymity is promised. But I want to tell your story.
1) Why did you go into teaching?
2) What has changed during your time as a teacher?
3) Are you being asked to do things that do not benefit kids? Name some.
4) Have you thought about leaving teaching? Have you left teaching? Why?
5) What would it take to remoralize you and stay in the profession and or make you want to get back into it?
Please respond using this survey.

We are far from perfect
But perfect as we are.
We are bruised, we are broken
But we are god damn works of art!
Rise Against

 

Despite a small uptick in the number of people enrolled in teacher preparation programs, the state still faces a large shortage of qualified teachers.

24,000 credentialed teachers are needed, but the pipeline produced only 8,000 last year.

Bill Raden and Eunice Park write in Capital & Main:

April findings by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing noted that 23,832 prospective teachers were enrolled in state teacher prep programs during the 2016-17 school year (the most recent data available) — an increase of nearly 2,500 over the previous year and 4,000 more than in 2012-13. But that’s still a trickle compared to the 77,705 enrollment over 2001-02. Last year alone the state came up short about 8,000 of the 24,000 fully credentialed teachers it needed. The result, said California’s newly appointed State Board of Education president Linda Darling-Hammond, is that “half the people coming in are not yet prepared and most likely are teaching in the highest-need communities.” The fix? Darling-Hammond said the state must restore discontinued programs, such as scholarships that cover teacher preparation program costs, or student loan forgiveness in exchange for teaching in high-needs schools or hard-to-fill subject areas.

As the new president of the State Board of Education, Darling-Hammond is well situated to push these reasonable fixes into reality.

 

Writing in Valerie Strauss’s “Answer Sheet” blog in the Washington Post, Fed Ingram explains why Florida has a massive teacher shortage. Ingram was Miami-Dade County’s Teacher of the Year in 2006 and he is now president of the Florida Education Association.

He writes that conditions for teachers are so bad that the state is experiencing a “silent strike” as teachers leave.

Halfway through this school year, more than 2,200 vacancies hobble Florida’s public schools. In 2018, the Florida Board of Education identified critical teacher shortages in English, mathematics, reading, general science, physical science and other subjects.

Recent graduates of schools of education ignore Florida recruiters at job fairs. Many educators who began teaching careers here are leaving our classrooms with no plans to return. We’re experiencing a “silent strike.”

Children living in districts that are not fully staffed are likely to wind up in with an overworked substitute in an overcrowded classroom or with a teacher untrained in the subject she or he has been hired to teach…

The Sunshine State ranks 45th in the nation in teacher pay with salaries $10,000 less than the national average. Meanwhile the cost of living here is 10 percent higher than in the rest of the United States.

Facing high costs and low pay, Florida’s teachers often work second jobs. Many teachers with advanced degrees wait tables or drive for Uber — and some teachers sell their own plasma to make ends meet.

It’s no secret that shortsighted policies have starved Florida schools of much-needed funds for years on end. Bogus schemes to use short-term bonuses to make up for long-term deficits in salaries for Florida teachers haven’t worked either.

Money isn’t the only problem. Too many politicians treat public schools and the people who work in them as punching bags. When the profession is attacked daily; when the contribution teachers make to students and communities goes unrecognized; when bureaucrats who’ve never spent a day in a classroom tell teachers how to do their job — then it becomes difficult to attract and retain dedicated and qualified education professionals.

The state’s leaders seem dimly aware of these problems but their priority right now is expanding voucher programs and increasing charter schools. In voucher schools–most of them religious–teachers do not need a college degree or certification. The current omnibus bill, SB7070, relies on bonuses not salary increases and seeks to lower standards for teachers to boost the supply of teachers. These are all incredibly bad ideas, but Florida is run by people who really don’t care about education or teachers or the future of the state. This, after all, is the state that Betsy DeVos considers a model for the nation because of its vouchers, its charter schools, its high stakes testing, its school report cards, and….its low salaries for teachers. Education on the cheap.

 

John Thompson writes from Oklahoma:

The Tulsa World’s headline nailed the big picture, “‘Staggering’: 30,000 Oklahoma Teachers Have Left Profession in the Past Six Years, Report Shows.” The World’s Michael Dekker cites State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister who explained, “The loss of 30,000 educators over the past six years is staggering — and proof that our schools must have the resources to support a growing number of students with an increasing number of needs.”

https://www.tulsaworld.com/news/local/education/staggering-oklahoma-teachers-have-left-profession-in-the-past-years/article_32479aa7-9877-55c9-959c-76f7332a7e7d.html

These huge losses occurred in a state which employed only 50,598 teachers in 2017-18.

Hofmeister addressed the immediate problem, “Steep budget cuts over the last decade have made the teaching profession in Oklahoma less attractive, resulting in a severe teacher shortage crisis and negative consequences for our schoolchildren.” The analysis, 2018 Oklahoma Educator Supply and Demand Report, by Naneida Lazarte Alcala, also touched on the ways that the lack of respect and the decline of teachers’ professional autonomy contributed to the massive exodus from the classroom.

https://sde.ok.gov/sites/default/files/documents/files/Oklahoma%20Teacher%20Supply%20and%20Demand%20Report%202018%20February%20Update.pdf

The report showed that Oklahoma’s annual attrition rate has been 10 percent during the last 6 years, which was 30 percent more than the national average. This prompted an increase from 32 emergency certifications in 2012 to 2,915 in 2018-19. As a result, the median experience of state teachers declined by 1/5th in this short period.

Given the challenges faced by the Oklahoma City Public School System, it is noteworthy that the highest turnover rate in 2017-18 (almost 25 percent) occurred in central Oklahoma. Over 11 percent of teachers in the central region are new hires.

It should also be noted that charter schools have the highest turnover rate (almost 42 percent), even higher than that of middle schools. 

I kid my colleagues in middle school. But there is a serious point. Choice advocates have had success in their political campaign to defeat traditional public schools, but their turnover rate is another sign that the oversupply of charters shows that privatization isn’t a viable, educational alternative to neighborhood schools. 

But the financial cutbacks were not the only cause of the crisis. Alcala cites a survey of teachers who have left Oklahoma schools; 2/3rds said that increased compensation would not be enough to bring them back to the classroom.  Citing reasons that were beyond the scope of the report, 78 percent said that the quality of the work environment had declined, and nearly half said it had deteriorated a great deal.

On the other hand, the report suggested aspects of teaching conditions that merit further examination. It cited research on the negative effects of teacher turnover on student achievement, especially for low-income students. This stands in contrast with research cited by accountability-driven, competition-driven school reformers who argue that turnover isn’t necessarily bad. After all, they invested heavily in trying to identify and dismiss low-performing teachers.

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/228248764_Who_Leaves_Teacher_Attrition_and_Student_Achievement

The SDE study cited the value of low student-teacher ratios in terms of raising student achievement, especially for low-income students. It also noted the national pattern where education degrees have “notoriously” declined, as well as the drop in graduates in Oklahoma teacher preparation programs.

And that brings us to the unintended results of features, as opposed to bugs, in the corporate school reform movement which peaked during this era. Reformers who lacked knowledge of realities in schools misinterpreted research on California schools which supposedly said that class size reductions don’t work, and then ignored the preponderance of evidence on why class size matters. Reformers often blamed university education departments for poor student test scores, and experimented with teacher preparation shortcuts. Some reformers even said what many others felt about wanting to undermine the institution of career teaching.

https://gspp.berkeley.edu/research/featured/the-class-size-debate-what-the-evidence-means-for-education-policy

https://www.classsizematters.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Summary-of-US-Class-Size-Reduction-Research.pdf

https://aacte.org/news-room/aacte-in-the-news/312-education-depts-reform-plan-for-teacher-training-gets-mixed-reviews

To understand the decline of working conditions for teachers, the teacher strike in Denver, as well as those in Oklahoma and other states, must be considered. Senator Michael Bennet, the former superintendent of the Denver schools, called for incentives in urban schools by twenty-somethings who would work for 7 to 9 years.  His hugely expensive and complicated incentive system provoked the recent strike.

http://www.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1105/01/sotu.01.html

It should have been obvious that teacher churn is bad for students, who need trusting relationships with educators who love them. A decade ago, however, edu-philanthropists and the federal government essentially imposed a rushed and risky experiment on schools in Oklahoma and across the nation. These noneducators praised the gambles as “disruptive innovation.” But they incentivized primitive teach-to-the-test malpractice and drove much of the joy of teaching and learning out of schools.

Evidence that excellent teachers were being “exited” by a flawed statistical model used in these teacher evaluation systems was ignored.  Since these policies incentivized the removal of highly paid veteran teachers during the budget crisis prompted by the Great Recession, Baby Boomers were often targeted.  This resulted in schools such as Upper Greystone, an elementary school with 24 certified staff,  which had 21 teacher vacancies at the beginning of the 2014-15 school year.   

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/is-teacher-churn-undermining-real-education-reform-in-dc/2012/06/15/gJQAigWcfV_story.html?utm_term=.fa0c4f7e5a2c

http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2015/04/05/cognitive-dissonance-and-segregated-oklahoma-schools/

During the 1990s, education experts frequently warned that Baby Boomers would soon be retiring, and sought ways for veteran teachers to pass on their wisdom. During the last decade, however, corporate reform made the staggeringly serious mistake of undermining teachers’ autonomy in order to force educators to comply with their technocratic mandates. Veteran teachers were rightly seen as opponents to their teach-to-the-test regimes, and often they were pushed out of the profession so they wouldn’t undercut the socializing of young teachers into opposing bubble-in accountability. 

Even if we had not made another unforced error and dramatically cut education spending, failed reforms would have wasted educators’ time and energy, damaged teachers’ professionalism, and sucked much of the joy of teaching and learning out of classrooms. When the retirement and the pushing out of Baby Boomers, funding cuts, and drill-and-kill pedagogy came together during and after the Great Recession, this staggering exodus of teachers was triggered.