Archives for category: Teachers

Valerie Strauss wrote a delightful article about parents who have a new-found respect for teacher’s, now that the pandemic has forced them to become home teachers.

They have discovered that teaching is not easy. They have realized how hard it is teach two or three children and are amazed that teachers can handle classes of 24 or more at the same time.

Plenty of parents around the country — and, presumably, around the world — are finding new appreciation for their children’s teachers as they sit at home with their kids during the coronavirus pandemic and take over the role of educator.
Some 1.5 billion students around the world have been affected by school closures during the crisis, and parents whose jobs are not deemed “essential” to keep the country functioning are at home taking over as impromptu teachers. It’s a lot harder than many of them realized, as you can see from the following tweets.





One parent, Shonda Rhimes, tweeted:

Been homeschooling a 6-year-old and 8-year-old for one hour and 11 minutes. Teachers deserve to make a billion dollars a year. Or a week.”
16 March 2020.

In communities across the country, teachers are organizing “teacher parades,” where they drive slowly through the neighborhoods where their students live, honking and waving as their students jump up and down with excitement.

Where did it start? This one was in Springfield, but I have heard that the first one was in Lawrence, Kansas.

Do you know?

Mercedes Schneider posts a letter from Louisiana’steacher of the year, Chris Dier, to the class of 2020, which is unlikely to have a senior prom or graduation ceremony.

The teacher is a personal friend of Mercedes’.

This letter from a teacher to his students is very moving. It begins like this:

Dear High School Senior,

On Friday afternoon a few seniors came into my classroom after the last bell rang. They were concerned about prom and their senior trip. It broke my teacher heart to listen. As you’re reading this, you most likely have similar concerns.

This is supposed to be your year. The year for your senior prom, sporting events, cheer competitions, senior trips, clubs, and the rest of what senior year has to offer. You were supposed to be the captain of that team, the officer of that club, or that student who wanted to be with their friends one last year before venturing into the unknown. This was THE year that your entire schooling was building up to. But it was robbed from you because of this global pandemic.

Let’s be abundantly clear – you were robbed, and it’s unfair. If you’re upset, then you should embrace those feelings. Commiserate with one another. Some folks will downplay the situation because they won’t know what it feels like to have their senior year stripped at the last moment.

I, for one, will not downplay it as it happened to me. Hurricane Katrina devastated my community when I was a high school senior. I remember leaving my school on a Friday afternoon with my buddies only to never return to that school. I was supposed to be the captain of my soccer team, go to prom with my longtime crush, and finish the year with my lifelong friends. But it was all canceled. Instead, I stayed in a shelter and finished my high school in a different state. It was tough, and I had to find solace in places I never envisioned. It was hard, but we made it through. And I’m reliving that pain as I think of your disruption to your senior year.

Most do not need to experience Katrina to know that this is tough on you. Those of us who work in schools do so because we care above all else. That caring does not stop once you leave those school walls. In situations like these, we worry more about you. There is a lot of uncertainty, but rest assured, districts across the nation are working in creative ways, from potentially abbreviated school years to organizing social events when this subsides, to make this situation the best they possibly can for you. Some educators are working endlessly to transfer to virtual learning and accompany those without the internet. Administrators are working to get those meals together for those who need them. We are all in crisis mode but know that we are all doing everything we can to help during this tumultuous time. You are not forgotten. We are thinking about you. We are here for you. We care.

There’s nothing I, or anyone, can say to make up for that time you are losing in what is supposed to be one of the best years of your life.

Please read to the end.

This is one of the best articles I have ever read in Education Week. It is not an opinion piece. It is a news article by veteran journalist Stephen Sawchuk.

He begins:

This was the week that American schools across the country closed their doors.

It was the week that our public schools—often dismissed as mediocre, inequitable, or bureaucratic—showed just how much they mean to American society by their very absence.

The unprecedented shutdown public and private schools in dozens of states last week has illuminated one easily forgotten truism about schools: They are an absolute necessity for the functioning of civic culture, and even more fundamentally than that, daily life.

Schools are the centers of communities. They provide indispensible student-welfare services, like free meals, health care, and even dentistry. They care for children while parents work. And all those services do much to check the effects of America’s economically stratified systems of employment and health care on young students.

These insights came into focus last week as the nation’s governors, in the absence of a coherent message from federal officials, took charge and shuttered tens of thousands of American schools, affecting tens of millions of students, in an effort to curb the menacing spread of the new coronavirus,or COVID-19.

Education historians and researchers struggled to come up with a historical precedent to this brave new school-less world. The only certainty, they said, is that the long-term impacts for students will be severe, and most likely long lasting.

Student learning will suffer in general—and longstanding gaps in performance between advantaged and vulnerable students will widen, they predicted, a combination both of weakened instruction and the other social consequences of the pandemic.

With tax revenues in free fall, schools and other public services will suffer when they eventually re-open.

With annual testing wiped away, at least for this year, accountability hawks are weeping, but teachers and students can dream of schools that prioritize teaching, not testing.

Parents are finding out how difficult it is to teach, even when they are in charge of only one, two, or three children. They marvel that teachers can do what they do with classes of 25 or 30 children. And they long for a resumption of school. Students miss their friends, their teachers, their teams, the rhythm of daily life in school.

For a few brief weeks, maybe longer, Americans have been reminded of the importance of their community’s public schools and their professional teachers.

This came from a friend in Illinois:

Been homeschooling a 6-year old and 8-year old for one hour and 11 minutes. Teachers deserve to make a billion dollars a year. Or a week.

Nancy Bailey wisely explains the lesson of the current emergency and boils it down to this fact:

Online learning can never replace human teachers and support staff.

Parents who are staying home with their children have taken to Twitter to express their admiration for teachers. “How do teachers do this all day with 30 children,” they wonder.

Be sure to open her post and check out the links as well as the stuff I did not include here.

Bailey worries that the Ed-tech industry is zooming in to search for profits.

“While Covid-19 is of utmost concern, parents and educators, who’ve worried about the replacement of brick-and-mortar schools and teachers with anytime, anyplace, online instruction, wonder what this pandemic will mean to public education long term. Will this disaster be used to end public schools, replacing instruction with online competency-based learning?

”We’re reminded of disaster capitalism, a concept highlighted by Naomi Klein in The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, how Katrina was used in New Orleans to convert traditional public schools to charter schools. Within nineteen months, with most of the city’s poor residents still in exile, New Orleans’ public school system had been almost completely replaced by privately run charter schools. (p. 5-6). Who thought that could happen?

”The transitioning of technology into public schools, not simply as a supplemental tool for teachers to use at their discretion, but as a transformative means to remove teachers from the equation, has been highlighted with groups like Digital Promise and KnowledgeWorks. Both promote online learning and it’s difficult to find teachers in the mix.

”Combining this with the intentional defunding of public schools, shoddy treatment of teachers including the unwillingness to pay them appropriate salaries, inadequate resources and support staff, crumbling buildings, and the destruction of public schooling in America, should we not question what placing students online at this strange time will mean in the future to our schools?

The pandemic has demonstrated the importance of brick-and-mortar public schools, she writes.

“In “Coronavirus Has Shown Us the Vital Role Schools Play, But Will America Listen?” Glenda Cohen outlines how parents and the nation need public schools for survival. I have added some additional services and citations.

“Public schools are on the frontline fighting against childhood hunger. According to a CNBC report: Each day, the National School Lunch Program serves over 30 million children. The fact that many children will go hungry without their public school should give us pause.

“Students rely on school counseling. Students rely on school counselors for support.

“Parents need childcare so they can work. Working parents need schools to take care of their children so they can work. When schools close, parents are unable to do their jobs. This has a negative effect on the overall economy.

“Schools provide homeless children with stability. As Cohen points out, many homeless children rely on public schools. U.S. News and World Report claims 1.36 million students in the 2016-17 school year were homeless.

“Students with disabilities need accommodations and services. Most guidelines indicate that during the Covid-19 crisis, students with disabilities must have access to the same services as students without disabilities, but this leaves out accommodations that address the differences. Here are questions and answers from the Department of Education. How will students with autism, ADHD, and many other disabilities get the services they need?

“Shortcomings of Online Instruction

“Many children don’t have access to Broadband. Nearly 12 million children, many living in rural settings, lack access to an Internet connections. While ed-tech enthusiasts will claim it’s a matter of time before everyone has Broadband, looking for funding to do so indicates it will take time for this to occur.

“What happens with student privacy and information? Parents already worry about their child’s online personal identifiable information when they work online at school. How is a student’s online information protected when they work online at home during a public heath crisis? Here’s information about Covid-19 and FERPA.

“Socialization is missing. Speaking to someone on a screen is better than nothing, but it’s still isolating.

“Students work online alone. Many students need guidance and might not be able to focus on screens.
Children enjoy social gatherings that schools provide. The Covid-19 virus has left students agonizing over the field trips and school social events that they will miss, that cannot take place online.
How good is the instruction? There’s no research to show that working only online is better than teacher instruction.

“Parents have to supervise their children. Usually parents have to monitor their student’s work and make sure they stay on task.

“Teachers Are Loved and Respected.

“A college student whose classes were cancelled and switched to online stated they would miss their teacher who had provided extra help and whose class everyone enjoyed.

“Teachers have been the unsung heroes during this Covid-19 crisis. They have struggled the last few weeks to take care of their students, cleaning and disinfecting their classes due to an overwhelmed custodial staff, along with keeping students calm, comforting confused children and teens.

Now they struggle to go online to provide lessons from home. As blogger Nancy Flanagan notes in “Once Again Teachers are First Responders:”

“Keeping a functional learning community together is job #1. Meaning: every child, K-12, who is out of school involuntarily, knows for sure that the adults who have been his/her teachers, playground supervisors or joke-around buddies in the hallway, still care. Staying connected and checking in matter much more than reviewing fractions or watching a dissection video.

“Online learning can never adequately replace public schools and teachers. In such a desperate time, closing public schools due to this pandemic is showing Americans how reliant we are upon those schools to fulfill, not just an educational purpose, but the real social and emotional needs of children and families.

“We’re left with stark revelations about this country’s shortcomings, while at the same time we witness the heroism of teachers and staff who care for all children at this dark time. It is that caring and love that have always been the hallmark of what teaching and public schools have been all about. It is and will continue to be what saves public education and the teaching profession.

“This crisis will not throw students into a future of nothing but online learning. It will instead remind parents and students of how much their public schools and teachers mean to them.

“Or, as American television producer, television and film writer, and author @shondarhimes lamented on Twitter: been homeschooling a 6-year old and 8-year old for one hour and 11 minutes. Teachers deserve to make a billion dollars a year. Or a week.

“We must have hope for the future, hope for our democracy, and the great and enduring role of teachers and brick-and-mortar schools, which are temporarily closed.”

Peter Greene writes here about the forgotten role of the principal and superintendent. It is not to promote misguided and harmful policies such as those that were central to No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top, but to fight against them and to protect their staff as best they can against misguided mandates. For most of the past two decades, however, the folks at the top blew with the wind and went along with what they surely knew were very bad ideas.

He writes:

A manager’s job– and not just the management of a school, but any manager– is to create the system, environment and supports that get his people to do their very best work. When it rains, it’s the manager’s job to hold an umbrella over his people. When the wind starts blowing tree limbs across the landscape, it’s the manager’s job to stand before the storm and bat the debris away. And when the Folks at the Top start sending down stupid directives, it’s a manager’s job to protect his people the best he possibly can.

NCLB, Race to the Top, Common Core, the high stakes Big Standardized Tests– each of these bad policies is bad for many reason, but the biggest one is this: instead of helping teachers do their jobs, these policies interfere with teachers doing their jobs, even mandate doing their jobs badly. In each case a bunch of educational amateurs pushed their way into schools and said, “You’re doing it all wrong from now on, you have to do it like this,” like medically untrained non-doctors barging into a surgical procedure to say, “Stop using that sterile scalpel and use this rusty shovel instead.”

That was bad. But it is base betrayal when, in that situation, management turns to its trained, professional workers and says, “Well, you heard the man. Pick up that rusty shovel.”

(FORGIVE MY SENIOR MOMENT–BEING SO UPSET WITH THE DAY’S NEWS, I MISTAKENLY PLACED ST. PAUL IN THE WRONG STATE, WHEN I KNOW IT IS ONE OF THE TWIN CITIES OF MINNESOTA. I HAVE LEARNED TO OWN MY MISTAKES.)

The teachers of St. Paul, Minnesota, are on strike. Their number one demand is the expansion of mental health services and counseling for their students. The #Red4Ed movement continues, as teachers become first-line protectors of their students.

Teachers and support staff in Saint Paul, Minnesota, are on strike for the first time since 1946.

The union says students need more counseling and mental health support than the district and current staff can provide.

The strikers are demanding a mental health team at every school. The team would include social workers, psychologists, nurses, and behavior intervention specialists, in numbers proportional to the number of students in the school.

Despite marathon bargaining sessions over the weekend, the district made no real movement on the core issues. The union rejected the district’s last-minute offer to call off the strike and take the contract dispute to arbitration instead.

“There are so many kids with so many issues,” said middle school teacher Leah Van Dassor. “Kids are depressed because they have problems at home. They don’t have anyone to talk to.”

St. Paul Federation of Educators (SPFE) Vice President Erica Schatzlein sees a wide range of needs in her work as an elementary teacher with English language learners.

“A students that had a parent pass away, instead of acting out, becomes completely withdrawn,” she said. A newly homeless student “has a meltdown, and I have to evacuate the classroom.”

In addition to its mental health demands, the union is asking for more bilingual teacher’s aides and limits on class size for special education.

“It’s too bad that all these important social services fall on the shoulder of the schools, but they do,” said Van Dassor, who is also on the bargaining team. “We have to try to figure out a way to help.”

John Ogozalek teaches in rural upstate New York.

He writes:

Let’s hope we dodge this bullet as a nation.

But it sounds like the COVID-19 pandemic is starting to go sideways.

What if schools close for weeks -if not months?

What will teachers do during this time off? (Assuming we’re not taking care of family in our own homes.)

And, let’s face it, the idea of teaching online just isn’t going to last long if at all for many K-12 schools. Seriously.

Here’s the thing…

Teachers represent an already organized, very locally based force -across the entire nation.

Instead of waiting for the federal government’s response to get organized (which under Trump’s leadership seems like a disaster in the making as valuable time slips by) perhaps our unions and school districts can get moving on this challenge right now.

Hopefully, we won’t be needed. But why not get ready to help?

I do not want to sit around my house if school is closed.

Could I volunteer with a local doctor? Check on shut ins?

At the minimum, schools can have meetings right now to make sure teachers and staff have accurate contact information including alternate means to communicate in case the internet is stressed. What happens to families who are lacking child care? And, those kids who rely on school lunch?

We can start to organize and at least offer our volunteer assistance to the government. A sort of “Teacher Force” at the ready for those of us who can lend a hand.

By moving forward without fear and working together maybe we can create a model for other groups? And, most importantly, offer some help to the children in our communities.

You have contact with people in charge of things in this country, especially union leaders.

I think this idea might get off the ground pretty quickly if an organization like NYSUT, for example, gets local presidents on it. Of course, we’d include administrators and anyone else in the school who wants to pitch in. We’d need a thoughtful template to respond effectively…a plan informed by public health experts. A package of possible options that local schools can consider and perhaps choose from.

Just an idea, Diane. Maybe the higher ups somewhere are already thinking in this direction?

If not, maybe we should….

Say this for Eric Hanushek: He never gives up on his obsession with paying teachers more if their students get higher test scores. Arne Duncan built this concept into the requirements of his disastrous Race to the Top” program, which caused almost every state to adopt a teacher evaluation plan in which student test scores played a significant role. Harvard economist Raj Chetty wtote a highly-publicized paper with two colleagues, claiming that one good teacher (who raised test scores in the early grades) would raise lifetime incomes (by about $5 a week), reduce pregnancies, and be a life-changer. President Obama cited Chetty in his 2012 State of the Union address, but efforts to turn the theory into reality fell flat. (Read more about this catastrophe in SLAYING GOLIATH.) In fact, every state that imposed value-added measurement learned that it discouraged teachers from teaching in high-needs schools, where their chance of getting a big test score gain was reduced. It did not produce any of the promised benefits.

But forget about reality! Let’s stand by the theory. Hanushek’s new venture at the conservative Hoover Institution is joined by Christopher Ruszkowski, who served as Commissioner of Education in New Mexico after the resignation of Hanna Skandera (who previously worked for the Hoover Institution, Jeb Bush and Arnold Schwarzenegger). After eights years of “reform” leadership, New Mexico remained mired at the bottom of NAEP. The state had a harsh, test-based teacher evaluation plan, but the union fought it in court, it was enjoined by a judge, and the New Democratic Governor scrapped it as one of her first executive actions. New Mexico has one of the highest proportions of students living in poverty, but Republican state leaders ignored that inconvenient fact. After a decade of consistent failure, we can safely put test-based teacher evaluation into the category of a Zombie idea. Dead but still stalking the land.

 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:

Hoover Institution, Jeff Marschner, (202) 760-3200

NEWLY FORMED HOOVER EDUCATION SUCCESS INITIATIVE RELEASES PAPER ON TRANSFORMING TEACHER COMPENSATION

Four education policy papers to be released in 2020—addressing how states should consider transforming education in the decade ahead.

STANFORD, CA. (January 30th) – As state legislative sessions begin around the country, the Hoover Education Success Initiative (HESI), a new research program at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, has released “The Unavoidable: Tomorrow’s Teacher Compensation”—a policy briefing on the important connections between teacher compensation systems and student achievement outcomes. The research-based policy paper includes both a summary of findings and practical recommendations for policymakers.

The paper highlights often overlooked areas for attention including shifting overall compensation from retirement into salaries, ending the practice of paying for advanced degrees that do not yield changes in student outcomes, addressing teacher shortages in a targeted fashion instead of generally, and paying teachers more when they are effective in higher-need schools.  The paper concludes that teachers’ salaries should be significantly increased, but that students will not make achievement gains unless salaries are also linked to teacher quality.

“We need to pay teachers competitively, which we are not doing now,” said Dr. Eric Hanushek, author of the policy synthesis. “But just increasing compensation without recognizing teacher effectiveness is unlikely to lead to improved student outcomes. We should bundle together better pay with a serious recognition of just how important effective teachers are when it comes to influencing student achievement.”

“While we have spent much of the last year reviewing and synthesizing the research, the next phase of our work turns to helping states implement the policy ideas,” said Christopher N. Ruszkowski, executive director of HESI. “There is overwhelming evidence that nothing matters more than teacher quality, and state legislatures and governors should take strong action. Neglecting this responsibility causes harm to our students that may not be immediately visible today but will certainly be reflected in our students’ lives and in our economy tomorrow.  It’s a tough issue and it may feel like something we can avoid, but it will catch up with us.”

Click here to read the policy analysis brief.

About the Hoover Education Success Initiative

With passage in 2015 of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), states are again in charge of American education policy. To support them in this undertaking, the Hoover Education Success Initiative (HESI), launched in 2019, seeks to provide state education leaders with policy recommendations that are based upon sound research and analysis.  HESI hosts workshops and policy symposia on high-impact areas related to the improvement and reinvention of the US education system. The findings and recommendations in each area are outlined in concise topical papers.

The leadership team at HESI engages with its Practitioner Council, formed of national policy leaders, and with interested state government leaders. HESI’s ultimate goal is to spark innovation and contribute to the ongoing transformation of the nation’s K-12 education landscape, thus improving outcomes for our nation’s children.

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Jeff Marschner
Director of Media Relations