Archives for category: Teacher Shortage

I posted a strong endorsement of Kelda Roys. She is a candidate in the Democratic candidate for Governor of Wisconsin. The leading candidate in the race is Tony Evers, who is currently State Superintendent of Education. Some people think that he would be a strong supporter of education. But, in fact, he has made teachers’ lives worse during his tenure in office. Teachers are deeply demoralized by the combination of Governor Walker and State Chief Evers’ policies.

Read what Tim Slekar wrote about Tony Evers’ record on education. It is very bad, almost as bad as Scott Walker.

From dean of education at Edgewood College and strong public education advocate Tim Slekar.

“Tony Evers has “name recognition.” He can beat Walker. Except…

I know that’s the “theory.” But on his own issue—education—there are serious problems. For me specifically (as dean of a school of education) his Leadership Group’s dismantling and deregulating of teaching licenses because of a refusal to understand the cause of the “teacher shortage” tells me that using sound research to make policy decisions will take a back seat to neoliberal market solutions that actually cause more damage.

Teachers are leaving the profession in droves. Making it easier to enter our classrooms as a “teacher” does nothing to stop the exodus. It actually adds to it by further demoralizing the teachers that are still teaching. And that’s the real reason teachers are leaving. They are demoralized.

Excessive testing, educator effectiveness bunk, continued accountability (reform word for teachers are to blame for the achievement gap), expansion of non-public charter schools, and a top down system that denies teachers professional autonomy. And a Broad Academy Fellow (Privatization) as second in command. These are all issues DPI have significant control over but for some reason remain silent or worse supportive of.

And the candidate to take on Walker will not win without the support of the teaching profession. Assuming teachers will support Tony is rejecting their moral compass. They know Walker is horrible but they are also quite aware of the fact that DPI has left them hanging.

Give me a candidate that understands “demoralization.” That candidate will fire up education voters.”

Tim Slekar is supporting Kelda Roys for the Democratic nomination for Governor. I hope you will too!

Michael DesHotels, an experienced educator in Louisiana, explains here why the Rand study concluded that the Obama-Duncan teacher evaluation program flopped.

Gates wasted $575 million. The federal and state governments wasted billions. Thousands of teachers lost their careers and reputations. Another reformer disaster.

Unfortunately, the Obama education department had convinced most of the country to implement the same defective evaluation system at the same time before we could see the results of the study. So just like implementation of Common Core, which was also pushed upon school systems by the Gates Foundation, an expensive and time consuming teacher evaluation system was implemented without knowing if it would work. All that money and effort just drove a lot of good teachers out of the profession without improving student learning.

The new teacher evaluation system sponsored by the Gates Foundation and the Obama Race to the Top grants included basing teacher evaluations on student test scores and intensive observation of teachers using a strict rubric for teaching methods. The end result would supposedly identify the highly effective teachers as well as the ineffective ones. Then, teachers could be fired or awarded merit pay based upon their ranking in the evaluation system. Some reformers had theorized that such a system would dramatically improve student academic performance. There was even a theory that low performing students could be brought up to grade level performance by being exposed to highly effective teachers for only three successive years. It was believed that socioeconomic factors affecting student performance could be ignored by just fixing the teachers. These theories have now been proven wrong. Scapegoating teachers for problems of society just does not work, but it does drive good teachers out of the profession, and discourages bright young persons from entering the profession. Result: a serious teacher shortage.

Louisiana went whole hog on VAM (basing teacher evaluations on student test scores) and highly structured teacher observation because we were told that there were findings that proved that any student could be converted into a high academic achiever after only three years of instruction by highly effective teachers. This theory developed by Hanushek and others unfortunately was not scaleable (didn’t work) even though now our entire teacher evaluation system has been revised to supposedly identify highly effective as well as ineffective teachers. Louisiana law now bases teacher job security and even merit pay on highly dubious student performance measures. It turns out that VAM scores for each teacher are extremely unstable (and dangerously irrelevant) from year to year. It turns out that very little of a teacher’s VAM score depends on her/his performance in the classroom. Socioeconomic factors and noise in the highly imprecise VAM formulas routinely outweigh the actual performance of the teacher. In addition, teachers teaching untested subjects have a major advantage over teachers of tested subjects in winning merit pay and job security.

Here is an interesting fact about Louisiana teacher evaluation reform: Did you know that the new teacher evaluation rubric was actually designed by a person (Rayne Martin) who had never taught or evaluated teachers. Before coming to the Louisiana Education Department, Martin had worked for the Housing Authority in Chicago. She had never received teacher training or evaluation training. This is typical of most of the education “deform” we have been subjected to in the last 13 years. Unfortunately, here in Louisiana, we are still stuck with VAM and the new observation matrix for the evaluation of teachers that was developed by a non-teacher who has long left Louisiana.

So what did the Rand study find in its nationwide evaluation of VAM and the accompanying high stakes evaluation of teachers? Basically it has made no difference whatsoever in student performance nationwide. Zero results! After all that money and after the gnashing of teeth by so many thousands of teachers. We have produced however a growing teacher shortage, probably because all those potentially “highly effective” teachers found that they could make more money in jobs that did not use a form of torture to rate their performance….

Read it all!

State Supreme Court Judge Debra J. Young ruled that Success Academy can’t certify its own teachers. The chain, New York City’s largest, has very high teacher turnover and wanted to bypass the normal standards and certification process to ease its teacher shortage. It gained the approval of the State University of New York charter committee, which consists of four businessmen appointed by pro-charter Governor Andrew Cuomo. The New York State Department of Education and the New York State United Teachers sued to block the lowered standards.

Judge Young rejected Success Academy and the SUNY charter committee.

“The judge’s ruling upends the plans of the city’s largest charter school network, Success Academy, and wipes out a legislative victory that New York’s charter sector thought it had won — though the decision will likely not be the end of the legal battle.

“The regulations, approved by the State University of New York in October 2017, were designed to give charter schools more discretion over how they hired teachers. They eliminated the requirement that teachers earn master’s degrees and allowed charter schools authorized by SUNY to certify their teachers with as little as a month of classroom instruction and 40 hours of practice teaching.

“Some charter networks argued their existing in-house training programs are more useful to new teachers than the training required for certification under state law.

“But the rule was quickly challenged by the State Education Department and the state teachers union, which filed separate lawsuits that were joined in April. They argued that SUNY overstepped its authority and charged that the rule change would lead to children being taught by inexperienced and unqualified teachers…

The ruling was issued Tuesday by State Supreme Court Judge Debra J. Young, who wrote that the new certification programs were illegal because they fell below the minimum requirements issued by the state….

“The state’s top education officials — Commissioner MaryEllen Elia and Board of Regents Chancellor Betty Rosa — have long seemed offended by the new regulations. On a panel last year, Elia said, “I could go into a fast food restaurant and get more training than that.””

SUNY plans to appeal.

The privatized charter sector has spawned a mutual protection society.

Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academy needs teachers. Despite the charter chain’s glorious test scores, the work environment is not good. Teachers drop like flies under the pressure of imposing rigid discipline on children of color.

So SA teamed up with The New Teachers Project, now known as TNTP, which was originally created by Michelle Rhee (although some say Wendy Kopp was the real brains behind the startup).

The two organizations need one another. SA needs teachers, TNTP has a desperate need for revenue.

A happy marriage.

It is no secret that the DeVos family controls state education policy in Michigan. As Betsy DeVos has acknowledged, when they make campaign contributions, they expect to see the changes they want.

Since DeVos took control, education in Michigan has been in decline. The state has hundreds of charter schools. Accountability is minimal. DeVos likes it that way. Michigan is the only state where 80% of charters operate for profit. That means less money for instruction because investors come first in a for-profit business.

Last year, the New York Times Magazine ran a very good article about the charter mess in Michigan. It points out that 70% of the charters are in the bottom half of state performance. So much for “saving poor kids from failing schools,” more like privatizing schools for profit without regard to the kids.

“The results have been stark. The 2016 report by the Education Trust-Midwest noted:

Michigan’s K-12 system is among the weakest in the country and getting worse. In little more than a decade, Michigan has gone from being a fairly average state in elementary reading and math achievement to the bottom 10 states. It’s a devastating fall. Indeed, new national assessment data suggest Michigan is witnessing systemic decline across the K-12 spectrum. White, black, brown, higher-income, low-income — it doesn’t matter who they are or where they live.

You will not be surprised to learn that Michigan is systematically underinvesting in its school. Choice is a replacement for adequate funding.

You will also not be surprised to learn that Michigan has a major teacher shortage.

New teachers don’t want to teach in Michigan.

This is why Betsy DeVos, when asked about her home state of Michigan, changes the subject to Florida.


Dana Goldstein has an  article in this morning’s New York Times about how some states and districts are filling teacher vacancies caused by low pay. They are hiring teachers from other nations on temporary work visas to whom an American salary looks princely.

The latest wave of foreign workers sweeping into American jobs brought Donato Soberano from the Philippines to Arizona two years ago. He had to pay thousands of dollars to a job broker and lived for a time in an apartment with five other Filipino workers. The lure is the pay — 10 times more than what he made doing the same work back home.

But Mr. Soberano is not a hospitality worker or a home health aide. He is in another line of work that increasingly pays too little to attract enough Americans: Mr. Soberano is a public school teacher.

As walkouts by teachers protesting low pay and education funding shortfalls spread across the country, the small but growing movement to recruit teachers from overseas is another sign of the difficulty some districts are having providing the basics to public school students.

Among the latest states hit by the protests is Arizona, where teacher pay is more than $10,000 below the national average of $59,000 per year. The Pendergast Elementary School District, where Mr. Soberano works, has recruited more than 50 teachers from the Philippines since 2015. They hold J-1 visas, which allow them to work temporarily in the United States, like au pairs or camp counselors, but offer no path to citizenship. More than 2,800 foreign teachers arrived on American soil last year through the J-1, according to the State Department, up from about 1,200 in 2010.

“In these times, you have to be innovative and creative in recruiting,” said Patricia Davis-Tussey, Pendergast’s head of human resources. “We embrace diversity and really gain a lot from the cultural exchange experience. Our students do as well.”

The district, which covers parts of Glendale, Avondale and north Phoenix, is a hotbed of activism in the teacher walkout movement, known as #RedforEd. Picketing educators say they have had to move in with their parents, apply for food stamps and pay out of pocket for classroom essentials like graph paper and science supplies. They argue that taxes are too low to adequately fund schools, or for teachers to secure a middle-class lifestyle.

In response to the teacher walkout, Republican lawmakers introduced a budget that provides new funding for salaries and classrooms. But leaders of the #RedForEd movement said the bill fell far short of their demands, and would restore only about a quarter of the $1.1 billion in annual cuts that they say schools have weathered since the last recession.

In Pendergast, where salaries of around $40,000 are a source of pain and protest for the district’s American educators, Mr. Soberano is thankful for the pay.

Much like other foreign workers, he went into debt to find a job in the United States. He said he used savings and a bank loan to pay $12,500, about three years’ worth of his salary in the Philippines, to Petro-Fil Manpower Services. That is a Filipino company of Ligaya Avenida, a California-based consultant who recruits and screens teachers for the J-1.

The payment covered Mr. Soberano’s airfare and rent for his first few months in Arizona, as well as a $2,500 fee for Ms. Avenida and a fee of several thousand dollars to Alliance Abroad Group, a Texas-based company that is an official State Department sponsor for J-1 visa holders. The J-1 lasts three years, with the option for two one-year extensions. For each year he works in the United States, Mr. Soberano will owe Alliance Abroad an additional $1,000 visa renewal fee.

“You have to make some sacrifices to leave your family way back home,” Mr. Soberano said. Every night, he prepares lessons for his seventh- and eighth-grade science students, and every morning, he wakes up at 4 a.m. to video chat with his wife and two teenage daughters, who are ending their day in Manila. Despite their separation, he said the experience has been rewarding, “teaching in a different culture, but also, financially.”

The school districts that recruit teachers like Mr. Soberano say that they have few other options, because they can’t find enough American educators willing to work for the pay that’s offered. They say that the foreign teachers are being given valuable opportunities, and that American students are enriched by learning from them. But critics argue the teachers are being taken advantage of in a practice that helps keep wages low and perpetuates yearslong austerity policies.

Though J-1 teachers account for only a tiny share of Arizona’s 60,000 public schoolteachers, international recruitment has spread quickly in recent years, as sponsor companies market themselves to districts facing shortages and word spreads among administrators. According to the State Department, 183 Arizona teachers were granted new J-1 visas last year, up from 17 in 2010.

Justin Parmenter, a teacher in North Carolina, explains that teachers in his state have good reasons to walk out, like teachers from West Virginia to Arizona. The state legislature has kept their pay low and failed to fund the schools adequately. At the same time that the Tea Party dominated legislature was administering cuts to schools and teachers, it was cutting taxes for corporations and expanding charter schools.

Consider the facts of the last several years:

The day of reckoning in North Carolina is May 16, when the Legislature reconvenes.

Expect to see teachers at the State Capitol on May 16.

They will be there to demand that North Carolina make good public education a priority.


A new report assessed the needs of Arizona’s schools and concluded that the state must spend an additional $2 Billion to upgrade its schools. 

Arizona ranks 49th in the nation for teachers’ salariesand dead last for per-pupil spending.

“The Grand Canyon Institute (GCI), an independent, nonpartisan think tank, conducted its analysis based on educational goals defined in the Arizona Education Progress Meter. The goals were established by Expect More Arizona and The Center for the Future of Arizona….

“It’s been nearly 30 years since Arizona’s state legislature approved a tax increase. Individual tax rates have tumbled downward, and exemptions have increased. Meanwhile, corporate tax cuts have drastically reduced the revenue collected from businesses.”

Sadly, the Republican leadership is deeply indebted to ALEC and the Koch brothers, whose gospel is low taxes and low spending on public services. Last year, the rightwing bill mill ALEC rated Arizona the top-performing state in the nation, despite its abysmal teachers’ salaries and high poverty. On its annual report card, Arizona received a B-, the highest score awarded by ALEC, mainly because of its many school choice programs.


Professor Kenneth Zeichner of the University of Washington has studied and written extensively about teacher education.

In this interview, he sharply criticizes the “independent teacher prep programs” that have sprung up in recent years to provide newly minted teachers for charter schools. The most conspicuous example of such a program is the Relay Graduate zschool of Education, which claims to be a graduate school but has none of the requisite features of a graduate school. No scholars, no studies of the foundations of education, no concern about Research. In effect, this school and others like it focus solely on discipline and test scores.

“Instead of making the status quo permanent by increasing the supply of under-prepared, inexperienced, and short-term teachers in high-poverty schools, we should seek to eliminate this situation. We should invest in a high quality college and university system of teacher education as has been done in leading education systems in the world. We should provide greater incentives for fully certified, and experienced, teachers to work for more than a few years in schools attended primarily by students living in poverty. Finally, we should make sure that the public resources in these schools and communities are comparable to those in wealthier communities.

“Relay currently promotes itself as a solution to teacher shortages, especially shortages of teachers of color. While they may have increased the percentage of teachers of color in their cohorts, they do not present retention data or evidence that they actually are contributing to solving the problem of teacher shortages or shortages of teachers of color. Most of their teachers are prepared in and for charter schools, and there is no public data as to where they teach post graduation, how long they stay, and how well they teach beyond the hand-picked testimonials they advertise.

“The teaching shortages in districts throughout the U.S. are real and very troubling, but fueling the pipeline with uncertified and underprepared teachers isn’t the solution. Most scholars who have studied these issues such as Richard Ingersoll of the University of Pennsylvania and Linda Darling Hammond of the Learning Policy Institute, conclude that the shortages result from teacher attrition more than the underproduction of teachers, and that attrition is a consequence of low teacher compensation and benefits, poor induction and working conditions, as well the general blaming and shaming of teachers for the problems of society and the accountability systems that have been developed reflecting this view.

“What we need to do is to improve teacher compensation and working conditions, including access to high quality teacher professional development. We also need to ensure that the pre-service preparation for teaching they receive is of high quality.

“The shortage of teachers of color is also a serious problem, but it won’t be solved by investing in entrepreneurial programs like Relay. Subsidizing the preparation of teachers in the public universities that prepare most of the nation’s teachers as is done in other leading educational systems in the world will create the conditions for a well-prepared, and more diverse workforce.”


John Thompson, teacher and historian in Oklahoma, writes here about the run-up to a possible teachers’ strike. Teachers’ salaries in Oklahoma are near the lowest in the nation. Coincidentally or not, supporters of school choice are massing this morning Choice advocates are rallying this morning at the State Capitol to demand more funding for charters and vouchers. The choice advocates don’t care about teachers’ salaries, teacher shortage, or the experience of those who teach their children.


John Thompson writes:

“Oklahoma gives $500 million a year in tax breaks to energy companies, but it is #1 in the nation in cutting state funding for education, reducing formula funding by 28%. We are either third from last or last in the nation in teacher pay. Teachers have not received a state pay increase for a decade; the starting salary is $31,600 for a first-year teacher. State employees have not received an across the board pay raise in 12 years.

“As the rest of the nation watches the grassroots rebellion of teachers that is likely to lead to an April 2 walkout of both teachers and state employees, outsiders should be aware that before the legislature could address our fiscal crisis, it has had to deal with more pressing priorities.

“The first priority which had to be resolved before Oklahoma could address the budget was brought up by my legislator, Rep. Jason Dunnington (D-OKC). He wanted Imad Enchassi, senior imam of the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, to serve as the House Chaplain for a Day. Enchassi is one of the state’s most thoughtful, articulate, and witty leaders. However, the Republican leadership continued to block the iman’s application They changed their rules requiring clergy participating in the House Chaplain Program “be from the representative’s own place of worship.”

“After 250 Christians, Jews, and Muslims showed up in the Capitol rotunda to hear Enchassi lead an Islamic prayer, the Republican leadership had to change the guidelines once again. After all, they needed the rules necessary for keeping political issues out of their daily prayers …

“Sure enough, a second priority emerged when the Senate leadership had to defend a Baptist minister’s 15 minute prayer/serman to that legislative body. He blamed school shootings on gay marriage.

“The pastor said:

‘Feb. 14 (a young man) went into a school and killed 17 of our people, our kids. What is going on? What is going on? … Do we really believe that we can create immorality in our laws? Do we really believe that we can redefine marriage from the word of God to something in our own mind and there not be a response? Do we really believe we can tell God to get lost from our schools and our halls of legislation and there be no response? Do we really believe that?’

“The legislative load in the wake of recent school shootings was somewhat easier because Oklahoma had already authorized teachers to carry guns at schools, but the law required 74 hours of training. So surely teachers who care about their students should agree to put their pay on the back burner until the required training was reduced …

“Then the right to carry concealed guns into churches had to be reinforced, once again. Non-Oklahomans should understand why Sen. John Bennett (R-Sallisaw) felt compelled to protect churchgoers’ right to arm themselves against “knuckleheads” and “evil people.” His new priority was legislative action for implementing Matthew 26:52, which says “those who take up the sword die by the sword.”

”But Bennett, who has called Islam a “cancer” and who said that state employees seeking a pay raise are engaging in “terrorism,” didn’t include mosques. Consequently, another Republican had to file a bill protecting guns in all houses of worship.

“Oklahoma’s refusal to accept Obamacare contributed to the enormous hole in the budget that created the education crisis. So, another priority was passing legislation and preparing Gov. Mary Fallin’s order that work requirements must be attached to Medicaid.

“As the April 2 strike deadline approaches, legislative leaders have suggested legislation allowing ad valorem taxes dedicated to capital expenditures be redirected towards salaries. That would free some rich communities to offer a raise. And the word is that equally eccentric funding ideas will be floated.

“It is tougher to raise revenue in Oklahoma than in West Virginia because a constitutional amendment requires a 75% majority to increase taxes. We should not forget, however, why that provision became law.

“In 1992, after a decade of economic collapse due to deindustrialization spurred by Reaganomics, the oil downturn, the banking and savings and loan collapse, AIDS, and the crack and gangs epidemic, HB1017 was passed. After a four-day strike, the tax was passed, saving our schools, but the backlash killed all but one tax increase since then.

“So, Oklahoma’s April tornado season is likely to be upstaged by a bottom-up teachers’ revolt. It is likely to produce a political battle royal which will be worthy of the attention of readers across the nation. Stay tuned.”