Search results for: "teacher training"

I have been saving this lovely tribute for the right moment. It’s now, as red state legislatures rev up their attacks on teachers and on the profession. North Carolina leads the pack in its current effort to lower entry standards for teachers (only an associate degree needed to enter the field—two years of college), and pay tied to student test scores, a practice that has failed everywhere tried. In the background is the Gates Foundation, repeating its well-established practice of funding failure. Florida, too, is lowering its standards for teachers and welcoming non-professionals into the classroom. Think of it: Do you want your next air flight to be piloted by someone with six weeks training? Do you want a surgery performed by a medical student?

Dan Rather, a graduate of the Houston public schools (like me), remembers his teachers with gratitude:

One of the great sadnesses of our current age is how politics has polluted so much of our public discourse and spread into realms that once seemed free of partisanship. That this occurs at a time when much of the Republican Party has adopted the posture of a bully and is gripped by extremist ideology and attacks on truth and justice makes it all the more dangerous and dispiriting.

Perhaps nowhere is this more true than in the battlegrounds that our schools have become. We are living in an age when the number of books being banned is on the rise and the willingness to confront America’s complicated history is on the decline. We see intolerance worn as a badge of toughness, while inclusion, the great promise of what public education can be, is treated as weakness. We see a concerted effort to take over school boards, especially in deeply conservative areas, with true believers in the culture wars eager to inflict their small-mindedness, bias, and mean-spirited ideology on shaping how young minds are taught.

Teaching, already an underappreciated profession in this country, is becoming an even less appealing line of work. We have educators who have spent decades in the classroom now forced to look over their shoulders, wondering whether the books on their shelves or their carefully honed lesson plans will run afoul of the new draconian mandates. And we have young idealists with freshly minted teaching certificates wondering whether they can impart their excitement and new ideas into the students before them.

Some of these concerns are not new. When I was a student, for example, racial injustice in the form of legally segregated schools was a hallmark of public education. Schools have always been shaped by the larger societal forces that whip around them. Public education is, after all, about molding the minds and the mores of future citizens. Few institutions have more power in determining what this country will become than our schools.

But there have been decades of progress on what and how our children are taught, and today that wave of advancement is retreating in many parts of America. Sadly, there are so many examples of far-right ideology shaping curricula, on issues ranging from race to LGBTQ rights to science, that to call them all out individually is an impossible task. This is a broad movement not confined by school or district; much of the effort is being directed at the state level.

Republican politicians have learned that they can rally their base through bad-faith misrepresentations of school culture, which they depict as out of control with so-called “woke” ideology (which we wrote about in Steady here) and the bogeyman of “critical race theory,” which they totally mischaracterize — and which is taught in almost none of the schools where they have made it an issue. Nearly every parent wants good schools for their children, and Republicans are playing to fears they have carefully fanned to lure in voters even beyond their base. This was notably true in the last gubernatorial election in Virginia. Meanwhile, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has cultivated his political reputation (and a likely presidential run) by attacking professional educators — and indeed the very idea that schools should be welcoming, tolerant learning environments.

The elections that lie ahead — not only the big, marquee ones, but more importantly, those for school boards and other local offices — will do a lot to shape what will happen in our schools in the years to come. But there is another force that is even more powerful, and as we mark the beginning of a new school year, let us recognize it: teachers.

While we should grapple with the political context laid out above, let us shift the tone of this piece now to one of celebration. Writing about teachers, singing their praises, honoring them as American heroes has long been one of my favorite activities. It never gets old, and it never gets less important.

I would like to use whatever platform I have to shine a spotlight of deep respect on these invaluable public servants. And I am pleased that if you search for quotes from me online, one of the most popular is this:

“The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called ‘truth.’”

I believe every word of it. These aren’t empty sentiments. They come from my lived history. A while back here on Steady, I shared my own experiences as a student of public schools, including an emotional return to my elementary school in Houston.

For all the challenges our schools face, right now millions of children are learning about the world and themselves thanks to dedicated teachers. Teachers are going the extra mile, reaching out to kids in need, tweaking lesson plans to include new insights, passing their own inspirations to the young people before them.

The work is not easy — far from it. And it can be an incredible grind, especially when it seems that society doesn’t value it or is even outright hostile to teachers. With this as a backdrop, it is understandable that many are choosing to leave the profession. This is not a reflection on them, but rather on the nation that is allowing it to happen.

Teachers, you are our inspiration and our hope. You nurture the flames of our democracy. You literally save lives. You work miracles every day. Your resourcefulness, resilience, and creativity are boundless. We saw it during the heart of the pandemic. And we see it now. It is all the more reason you should not be taken for granted.

Dear readers, how many of you can close your eyes and be transported to a classroom from your past? Do you see a favorite teacher? Hear that word of encouragement or hard truth that shaped the course of your life? Teachers are the winds that propel our children’s sails forward. They are the North Stars that help guide us all.

I apologize if this reads as a bit trite. I can imagine red ink on the page from some of my previous English teachers marking my excesses. Sadly, those teachers are all now long gone. But in me, as in my classmates, as in all of you, the work of our teachers lives on.

We cannot thank our teachers enough. Each day the gifts they have given us are renewed. We should do everything we can to protect them and value them. A lot of this work must be done at the ballot box, but it can also be accomplished through words of encouragement and support.

To all the teachers out there: thank you.

Peter Greene writes in Forbes about an insidious, nefarious, behind-closed-door plan to sabotage teachers’ pay and evaluations, while relying on the discredited value-added test-score-based system whose main corporation just happens to be in North Carolina. Greene relies on the relentless investigations by North Carolina teacher Justin Parmenter, a National Board Certified Teacher.

Just to be clear: the proposed plan to change teachers’ pay relies on test scores and merit pay. No merit pay plan has ever successfully identified the “better” or “best” teachers. Tying teacher pay to test score increases has been tried repeatedly and has failed repeatedly. The most extensive trial of “value-added” measurement was funded by the Gates Foundation and evaluated by RAND-AIR. Gates gave $575 million to Hillsborough County in Florida, Memphis, and Pittsburgh, and to four charter chains, to evaluate teachers by test scores. The goal was to get the most highly effective teachers into the classrooms with the neediest students. The RAND-AIR report concluded that the Gates money “did not improve student achievement, did not affect graduation rates or dropout rates, and did not change the quality of teachers.” Some of the districts experienced higher teacher turnover. The neediest students did not get the most effective teachers, because teachers were afraid that their VAM scores would fall if they moved to classrooms with the neediest students. Overall, the program was a very expensive disaster. I wrote about it in my book Slaying Goliath (pp. 244-245).

So, North Carolina appears to be determined to drive its best teachers away, to increase its teacher shortage, when the solutions to their problems are obvious: increase teachers’ pay, reduce class sizes, and respect teacher voices.

Greene writes in Forbes:

North Carolina is considering a radical revamp of its teacher pay system, a framework that ties teacher pay to measures of merit, instead of years of experience. It is a bad plan, for a wide variety of reasons, not the least of which is that no teacher merit pay plan has ever proven to be a definitive success. 

This plan lowers the bar for entering the profession, while creating a ladder to higher levels of certification and higher levels of pay tied to “educational outcomes,”. Meaning, a system in which a teacher’s livelihood is tied to student test scores and a teacher training is centered on preparing students for a single high stakes test. 

The current pay scale offers little relief; a teacher with a bachelor’s degree starts at $35,000 a year, and that goes up $1,000 per year until they’ve been in the classroom for sixteen. 

Then their pay does not move for a decade, at which point they get a $2,000 raise—the last raise they’ll ever see. 

A North Carolina teacher faces the certainty that if they make a lifelong career out of teaching, they will see their pay in real dollars steadily decline.

The North Carolina Association of Educators have come out strongly against the proposal, as did working teachers on the ground. So did the North Carolina Colleges of Teacher Educators. Yet the proposal is still headed for consideration. Where did it come from, and who is pushing it?

Justin Parmenter is a veteran North Carolina teacher who has been asking those same questions. They turned out to be disturbingly difficult to answer.

The pipeline dries up

The roots go back over a decade. North Carolina had been a leading state for public education, but in 2010 the GOP established a super-majority in the legislature. What followed was a steady dismantling of public education in the state, combined with steps backward for the teaching profession.

Funding levels of public schools dropped, and the legislature has dragged its feet on implementing a court-ordered funding equity plan. At the same time, they have provided great opportunities for charter school profiteers

The GOP legislature has used school funding for Democrat-voting districts as a political football. In recent culture battles, the state has seen everything from County Commissioners holding school funding hostage to Lt. Governor Mark Robinson leading a hunt (complete with tip line) to catch teachers misbehaving.

On top of these and other measures that might make educators feel a bit beleaguered, North Carolina has had trouble offering competitive salaries to its teachers (the state sets the pay scale for all NC teachers). For years, a career teacher in North Carolina would actually take an annual pay cut in real dollars. At one point the legislature offered teachers a raise—if they would give up the due process protections commonly known as tenure. 

Mid-decade, I sat at dinner with a former student and seven other young professionals in Charlotte, North Carolina. Six were former teachers; they had each decided there were far better ways to make a living in the Tar Heel State.

The rules implemented by the legislature, says Parmenter, “made it less and less attractive for people to become teachers.” Enrollment in teacher prep programs began dropping. Faced with the problem, Parmenter says the approach was, “Instead of addressing the reason that nobody wants to go to college to become a teacher anymore, what could we do to approach it in a different way.”

The result: in 2017 the state legislature formed the Professional Educator Standards and Preparation Commission (PEPSCPSC -0.5%) to make recommendations on how to expand teacher preparation programs, create an accountability system for those programs, and to “reorganize and clarify” the licensure process.

For a year or so, PEPSC tinkered with the small edges of policy recommendations. And then in 2018, a whole bunch of other folks got interested.

At this crucial point, I am going to ask you to go to the link and open the article. One of the major players in this fiasco is SAS, a student evaluation system based in North Carolina, which stands to make a whole lot of money if the proposed system is adopted. The Gates Foundation, despite having failed in all of its previous efforts to implement a successful merit pay plan or test-based teacher evaluation program, became a player.

As you read the story unfold, you will see the strenuous efforts by the corporate actors to keep the whole nasty business secret. They encouraged their partners to speak cheerfully and positively about the changes they had in store for the state’s teachers. Justin Parmenter got his information by filing Freedom of Information suits.

Jacob Goodwin writes in The Progressive that the best solution to the teacher shortage is to strengthen teacher unions, assuring teachers of working conditions, job security, and benefits at a time when the teaching profession and public schools are under attack by rightwing nuts.

Goodwin writes:

In February, the National Education Association conducted a survey of its three million members and found that 90 percent of respondents felt that burnout was a “serious problem,” while more than half of members reported thinking about leaving the profession “earlier than planned.”

This immediate shortage of teachers is paired with long-term concerns, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicting that there will be an 8 percent increase in the number of high school teachers that are needed by 2030. But more immediately, the current teacher shortage is the product of an orchestrated attack on public spaces that, unfortunately, gained momentum during the COVID-19 pandemic.

I teach social studies to six graders at a public school in New Hampshire, which in July 2021 joined the ranks of at least five other states that have restricted classroom conversations about race and gender. Despite what their proponents claim, these laws are clear political ploys designed with the express purpose of stopping honest conversations about history in schools by intimidating teachers….

Teachers need to come together to revitalize associations from the ground up and push back on attacks on our public schools. Local teachers can find power by volunteering to participate in union actions and strengthening relationships across district boundaries. Educators who rise to this challenge will be following the work of generations past who fought to establish labor rights.

After all, unions are an iteration of the long American tradition of citizens coming together for a common civic purpose. As an essential part of each community, union members must demand democratic reforms internally as well. Challenging existing union leadership leads to increased ferment and dialogue within the union. The best ideas often bubble to the surface in spaces that embrace purposeful debate.

Unions also help to institutionalize civic norms and practices. To be leaders in the broader community, unions must demand democratic reforms internally. The practice of openness serves as a buttress against organizational rigor mortis. Creating an internal culture of openness and support will help empower members of diverse backgrounds and experiences and act as a safeguard against cliques and narrowness. This can be reinforced through adopting term limits for officers and establishing leadership development programs that increase the capacity of the next generation of labor leaders and local stewards.

Please open the link and read the rest of this excellent article.

Nancy Flanagan is a retired educator who taugh in the schools of Michigan for many years. Her post was reprinted by the Network for Public Education.

She writes:

We need more teachers.

Good teachers. Well-trained and seasoned teachers. Teachers who are in it for the long haul.

Many of the articles floating around about the teacher shortage focus on data—What percentage of teachers really quit, when the data is impenetrably murky at best? And how does that compare with other professions?

In other words, how bad is it? Really?

These articles often miss the truth: Some districts will get through the teacher shortage OK. And most districts will suffer on a sliding scale of disruption and frustration, from calling on teachers to give up their prep time to putting unqualified bodies in classrooms for a whole year, sometimes even expecting the real teachers to keep an eye on the newbies.

The shortage will look different everyplace, but one point is universal: it’s not getting better.

Teachers are not just retiring and leaving for good. They’re part of the great occupational heave happening because of the COVID pandemic—people looking for better jobs, demanding more pay, in a tight labor market.

Public schools are now competing to hire smart and dedicated young people who want to be professionally paid and supported, especially in their early careers. When you’ve got student loans, higher starting pay is a big deal. And loan forgiveness if you teach for a specified number of years might make a huge difference.

Before anybody starts telling us how to make more teachers, as fast and cheaply as possible, to prevent “learning loss,” we should think about Peter Greene’s cynical but spot-on assessment of the underlying goals of folks pushing for a New Concept of who can teach:

Once you’ve filled classrooms with untrained non-professionals, you can cut pay like a hot knife through cheap margarine. It’s really a two-fer–you both erode the power of teachers unions and your Teacher Lite staff cost you less, boosting your profit margin for the education-flavored business that you started to grab some of those sweet, sweet tax dollars. And as an added bonus, filling up public schools with a Teacher Lite staff means you can keep taxes low (why hand over your hard-earned money just to educate Those Peoples’ children).

Several states (and Florida springs to mind here) almost seem to be competing for the best ways to reduce public school teacher quality, thus reducing public school quality in the process. In addition to offering full-time, teacher-of-record jobs to folks without college degrees, they’re trying to brainwash the ones they already have by offering them $700 to be, well, voluntarily indoctrinated about another New Concept around what the Founders really meant in the Constitution.

Attention MUST turn to an overhaul of how we recruit, train and sustain a teaching force.

All three are important—and have been so for decades. We’ve been talking about improving the teacher force, from selection of candidates to effective professional learning, for decades. As Ann Lutz Fernandez notes, in an outstanding piece at the Hechinger Report, there is a surfeit of bad ideas for re-building the teacher workforce, and not enough coherent, over-time plans to put well-prepared teachers into classrooms, and keep them there.

I have worked on a number of projects to assist beginning teachers using alternative routes into teaching. And while there are problems, there’s something to be said for teaching as a second (or fourth) career,with the right candidates and pre-conceptions, and the right professional learning.

That professional learning has to include a college degree, and field experience. Many high-profile charters advertise the percentage of students who are accepted into colleges. There’s been a longtime push to mandate challenging, college-prep courses at public high schools, and send larger numbers of students to post-secondary education.

Teachers need to be credentialed to demand respect from the education community, plain and simple, no matter what Ron DeSantis says. It’s past 50 years since bachelors degrees were the required norm for teachers in all states. Backing away from that is egregiously foolish—and almost certainly politically motivated.

If we were serious about making more *good* teachers, we’d need two core resources: money and time. Money to effect a significant nationwide boost in salaries, loan forgiveness programs, student teaching stipends, scholarships, plus the development of more alternate-entry and Masters in Teaching programs that include both coursework and an authentic, mentored student teaching experience.

This would also take time—but it absolutely could be done. Would-be teachers should have to invest some skin in the game—not because traditionally trained teachers had to jump through hoops, but because teaching involves commitment to an important mission. Done well, it’s professional work. We can argue about teacher preparation programs, but nobody should be going into a classroom, alone, without training and support. It’s bad for everyone—teachers, communities and especially kids.

What are we going to do in the meantime?

Alternative routes have sprung up all over the country, some unworthy, others better. All are stopgaps, but some of those teachers will continue to grow and excel in the classroom. And I agree with Michael Rice, MI State Superintendent of Schools:

“If the question is whether we have a teacher that is certified through (an alternative route) or have Mikey from the curb teaching a child — a person who has no experience whatsoever and is simply an adult substituting in a classroom for a long period of time because there isn’t a math teacher, there isn’t a social studies teacher, there isn’t a science teacher — the teacher that is developed through an alternative route program or expedited program is going to be preferable.”

It’s worth mentioning that this shortage has been visible, coming down the road, for years. The pandemic and that great occupational upheaval have merely brought it into focus.

It’s past time to get the teacher pipeline under control. This will take good policy.

Texas is a state where anyone can carry a gun without a permit, thanks to Governor Greg Abbott.

The right to life is precious for a fetus but not for anyone else.

In recognition of the lawlessness and easy access to guns in the state, teachers of preschoolers in Houston are now getting trained on how to respond to an active shooter. This is training that would also be useful in shopping centers, movie theaters, concert venues, grocery stores, and wherever people gather.

Everyone from lunchroom staff to administrators from 31 southwest Houston preschools gathered Monday to learn about how to prepare themselves and the children for an active shooter.

About 500 staff from the nonprofit BakerRipley gathered in a cavernous conference room at the NRG Center to learn a protocol for responding to active shooters in the wake of the Uvalde school massacre. Teachers had spent much of the day on training, including how to confront an armed attacker, before returning to their classrooms later this month.

The nonprofit has been preparing “age appropriate” language and visual aids for its charges, who range in age from 6 weeks to five years, said Cimberli Darrough, BakerRipley’s senior director of Head Start programs.

“If you hear ‘pop pop,’ hide,” said Darrough, explaining how the preschoolers will be taught active shooter protocols. “When we say it is time to hide, you need to hide. You need to stay still. We are turning the lights out, barricading the door.”

Sounding practical rather than alarmist, Alvin ISD Sgt. Jermaine Jackson, instructed the preschool workers on avoidance and defense tactics he said would help them react quickly during a school shooting.

“Run, hide, fight,” he repeated, citing the basic tenets of active shooter protocols promoted by the FBI. “You want to be a moving target instead of a stationary target.”

Arming the teachers and training the students how to hide must be a whole lot easier than banning assault weapons and limiting access to deadly firearms.

David Berliner is one of the most accomplished education scholars in the nation. A list of his accomplishments would fill a couple of pages so I will say only that the Regius Professor Emeritus at Arizona State University.

Berliner shared his thoughts about the current efforts in red states to destroy the teaching profession:

My Incredibly Short Career as a Brain Surgeon and Some Thoughts About Teaching

When I was an undergraduate psychology major at UCLA I studied physiological psychology, particularly neuroanatomy. During my Masters’program at California State College at Los Angeles I landed a job as a research assistant at the UCLAbrain research center. There I did some fascinatingstudies of brain functioning. Well, more accurately, my job was to get some rats drunk and then test them. I gave the rats a little alcohol, then I had a little alcohol, then they got a bit more, and then I…. well, I am sure you get the picture. I continued to read my physiological psychology textbooks, and in addition have found the works of Oliver Sachs and A. S. Luria to be wonderful reading. In fact, it was Sachs’ engaging “The man who mistook his wife for a hat”that inspired me to write essays such as this.

I note also that I frequently buy and avidly read whatever popular science magazines come out featuring stories about the brain. I am up on CAT scans and fMRIs and the latest techniques for stroke victims, and much, much more. Just as important as all the technical knowledge I posses is the fact that I also have a flair for carving, a skill attested to by anyone who has had thanksgiving dinner with my family.

Naturally, with such interest, such knowledge, and such skills, I have always thought that I would make a great brain surgeon. My secret fantasy was to become the greatest brain cartographer in modern times, locator of Berliners’ spot, or the Berliner bundle. I secretly dreamed I could eventually locate and describe how memory works–a goal of every psychologist.

Then, out of the blue, the most wonderful opportunity arose. I discovered that there was a chance that I could get to be a brain surgeon after all. I might actually be able to practice my real vocational love. This wonderful and exciting change in my life, one that I had dreamed about for so long, was suddenly within my grasp because that day, my newspaper ran a feature story on the scarcity of surgeons at the hospitals serving the most needy members of our society. One of our largest State supported big-city hospitals complained that it was short neurosurgeons all week. Furthermore, on weekends, in the emergency rooms, they never had a specialist on whom to call.

My local newspaper, for many years, took a conservative, free market approach to the economy.So, over the years, it has often been in favor of deregulating just about everything, particularly teaching. On the day I was reading about the shortage in the emergency room my newspaper ran an editorial on socialism in the United States of America using the “inefficient public school system” as their model. They cited someone who believed that “government schools” were founded on Marxist-Leninist principles. America’s schools, the paper continued, were failures when measured against the rest of the world or against the results of private schooling. The newspapers’ solution was more free enterprise, including vouchers for children, having schools compete with each other, and the closing of the useless schools of education. They, and one of our many Arizona governors who ended up in prison, eventually argued that anyone with a bachelor’s degree could teach because teaching wasn’t all that complicated.

Our newspaper was then owned by the Pulliam family. That is the family that gave America the well-known intellectual Vice-president Dan Quayle. It was he who said, among other things, that his goal was to have as few government regulations as possible. Quayle’s views, the news from the hospital, and the editorial seemed to provide the perfect set of conditions for propelling me into the career I always wanted. I actually shivered with hope and excitement.

It was time for people with my kinds of skill to step in and serve where clear social needs had been identified. I thought, “let a thousand points of light shine!” I thought it was time to get government out of trying to do everything. What we needed was a resurgence of volunteerism to renew the spirit of America. I thought of John Kennedy and I asked not what my country could do for me but what I could do for my country. And so I went to the hospital that had reported the shortages and volunteered to take the neurosurgery rounds on weekends.

I told them I hold a doctors’ degree (well, actually, I really do have three doctorates, but I thought they would rebel if I asked them to call me Dr. Dr. Dr.). I informed them that I have a high level of knowledge about brain functioning and understood perfectly the technologies that existed to examine brains, and, with false modesty, I also told them that I really could carve quite well. While the hospital administrator was weighing my offer, I thought: “By golly, this is it, my big chance. I may be able to change careers over night and make my dear mother posthumously ecstatic, by becoming a “real” doctor.”

I sat there waiting, thinking that if computer programmers can become high school teachers of mathematics overnight; if oil company geologists can become earth science teachers overnight; if mothers of two with bachelor degrees in either home or international economics, choose to enter the classroom when their youngest goes off to school and can get a job immediately, without any training beyond their life skills; and if military personnel of all kinds can get jobs in schools, and even jobs to run schools,immediately after they serve our nation; then I, with my skills and interest in neuroanatomy, should prove to be a great catch for the field of medicine. I knew I had what it takes and now here I was getting ready to demonstrate my talents. It was so exciting!

Alas. My hopes were quickly dashed. The administrator of the hospital informed me that they had no openings at that moment, but that one of their other physicians, a psychiatrist, would like to see me. I left quickly. I could tell he did not believe that I had enough knowledge and skill for the job, and I think that I sensed correctly that I could never convince him otherwise. I was crushed.

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I don’t know why, but for some strange reason people think that medicine is hard and teaching is easy. But let’s look a little closer at that. A physician usually works with one patient at a time, while a teacher serves 25, 30 or in places like Los Angeles and other large cities, they may be serving 35 or more youngsters simultaneously. Many of these students don’t speak English well. Typically, anywhere from 5-15% will show emotional and/or cognitive disabilities. Most are poor, and many reside in single parent families. There is also another important difference in the motives of patients and students. Most patients seek out their physicians, choosing to be in their office. On the other hand, many students seek to be out-of-class, preferring the streets to classrooms thatcannot engage them, and in which they often are made to feel inadequate.

I always wonder how physicians would fare if 30 or so kids with the kinds of sociological characteristics I just described showed up for medical treatment all at once, and then left 50 minutes later, healed or not!And suppose that chaotic scene was immediately followed by thirty or more different kids, but with similar sociological backgrounds, also in need of personal attention. And they too stayed about 50 minutes, and then they also had to leave. Imagine waves of these patients hitting a physicians’ office five or six times a day!

In addition, teachers are usually away from other adults for long segments of the day, with no one helping them, which makes possession of a strong bladder one of the least recognized attributes of an effective teacher. Physicians, on the other hand, often have a nurse and secretary to do some of the work necessary to allow them to concentrate on the central elements of their one-on-one practice. Andthey actually have time to relieve their bladdersbetween patients, which helps improve their decision making skills!

That so many teachers and schools do so well under the circumstances I just described shows how undervalued the craft of teaching is, and how little respect there is for pedagogical knowledge. In fact, much of the knowledge needed for teaching and for successful medical treatment is clinical knowledge, or tacit knowledge, not easily described, and hard to teach to someone else. That’s why physicians have grand rounds and a lengthy apprenticeship. Their prolonged apprenticeship is what gets them started learning what it means to be a practicing physician—not a competent student of biology, chemistry, and pharmacology. Every clinician (psychologists, physicians, social workers, and teachers alike) knows that book learning can only teach a little slice of what it means to be a success in practice. The recognition of this fact is the quite sensible reason behind the requirement that teachers need to take teaching methods courses such as how to teach mathematics, how to teach phonics and comprehension skills, how science is learned, and so forth. Course work in mathematics, English literature, and science have no more to say about the teaching of mathematics, literature, and physics than books on organic chemistry prepare a physician for their medical practice. Lengthy residencies are needed in medicine to learn to be a physician and extensive student teaching is needed to become a competent teacher. Fields of complexity, with a strong element of art infusing their practice, and with much of their knowledge base tacit, require prolonged time for learning the minimum, and much longer for learning to be competent on a regular basis.

They won’t let me be a brain surgeon because I have none of the tacit knowledge needed to go along with my book knowledge, interest, desire to serve the public, and of course, my superb carving skills. I can accept that. But why the hell would anyone think it’s different in education?

Please—let’s keep untrained but good-hearted people out of classrooms until and unless they get some training in how to do that complex job well. Classroom teaching is hard work, noble work, and in some way, the life and death of our nation in a global economy depends on having competent people doing such work. The physician is literally, rather than figuratively dealing with life and death. This gets them higher status, respect, and remuneration then our teachers get, but it is no more complex work, no more arduous, no more important to our nation, and certainly no more noble!

Let’s be clear: Those who come into teaching from other fields have much to contribute. But not if we count their other experience as equivalent to studying about teaching methods, and not if their other experiences excuse them from anapprenticeship such as student teaching, which most regularly certified teachers have experienced. Regularly certified teachers usually take 12-16 weeks of supervised student teaching. Those coming in to teaching from non- traditional routes, say those whoenter teaching through the program called Teach for America (TFA), experience much less practice. The bright, young, highly motivated, recent college graduates who join TFA, ordinarily have 5 weeks of teaching experience with students who are not likely to be similar to those they actually end up teaching. Listen to Matt Brown one of those bright, committed TFA recruits:

“when I walked in that door to my trailer, I didn’t have a freakin’ clue. I had been a 1st grader teacher for five weeks [the training period] and …I had never taught more than two hours in a day. I didn’t know how to set up a classroom, manage racial tensions, work with co-workers who weren’t thrilled I was there, deal with parents, unit plan…really ANYTHING. I was eaten alive right from the start, and never really found my footing.

….The stresses of the constant failure of my work began to change me in ways I’m not so proud to admit. I started to find myself snapping at my students, punishing them to prove a point, or yelling more and more (in real life, I never yell…and seldom actually get angry). I used to get extremely stressed during certain parts of the day (say, when a troublemaking student would be in my room for an hour), but I gradually began to feel that way during the whole day…and then on my ride to school, and then even when I woke up on a weekday. Some days, I got to school two hours early, only to sit in the parking lot with the music on full blast, and my sunglasses on…so nobody would know I was crying. Other days, I threw up before going to school. Often, a particularly bad event at school could keep me upset for two days straight.1

My former student and colleague, Dr. BarbaraVeltri, provides much more documentation from other first year underprepared teachers, all backing up Matt’s story about the failure of so many TFA recruits in their initial year. That’s why Veltri titled her oft citedbook “Learning on other peoples’ kids.”2 These are the poor, of course, the throw away kids: the kind of kids one learns to teach with. These are the ones on whom lots of mistakes are made, before moving out of the profession or on to schools with easier to teach children. By the way, it’s really no different in medicine. Had I gotten my job as a brain surgeon I am sure that I would have been working on the poorest people, where my “mistakes” would not have mattered as much! Our society does identify “lesser” humans, mostly the poor, and therefore frequentlyracial minorities, where inexperienced physicians andteachers are allowed to develop their skills. Higher rates of mistakes are permitted to be made with poor people, so that lower rates of mistakes will occur when dealing with “people of more substance!”

Perhaps the recognition of their incompetence, and their impotence in dealing with the overwhelming problems of poverty, are what drive many, like Matt (above) to leave the profession before their two-year commitment is up. It is certainly likely that Matt didn’tknow, and his coaches didn’t either because they lacked experience and were not scholars in education, that teachers have been found to make about .7 decisions per minute during interactive teaching!X Another researcher estimated that teachers’ decisions numbered about 1,500 per day.XDecision fatigue, is among the many reasons teachers are tired after what some critics call a short work day, forgetting or ignoring the enormous amount of time needed for preparation, for grading papersand homework, and for filling out bureaucratic formsand attending school meetings.

In fact, it takes about 10 years for teachers to hit their maximum ability to produce the most learningfrom their students.X But about the time the TFA dilatant teachers start to get competent in their job, around their fourth year,

64% of the TFA recruits have left the profession, a much higher rate than among regularly certified teachers.

To be fair, however, the 36% of TFA recruits who stay longer in the field then they originally committed to, are most welcome additions to the profession. But as they gained in competency, they may have hurt a lot of poor children during their apprenticeship by fire!

Lets face it: People who want to practice medicine or education without sufficient training are ignorant, arrogant, or both. And those that would let them do so will only allow them to work with throw-away humans—the flotsam and jetsam found in many urban hospital emergency rooms, and the powerless poor in the impoverished schools of rural America, or in the the same urban neighborhoods as many of our “teaching” hospitals.

In education, we might think of legislators and accrediting bodies that allow untrained personnel to enter classrooms as traitors. Yes, a harshpronouncement, I know, but the term fits. Persons who betray their country, are correctly called traitors. The legislators, accrediting bodies, and chambers-of-commerce that endorse putting untrained or minimally trained teachers before poor children are hurting America, betraying the principles that Jefferson explicated 200 years ago. Jefferson, a slave-holder and not nearly as democratic as we might have wanted one of our founding fathers to be, did help to persuade his fellow founders of the nation that the poor have talent in equal degree as do the rich. Thus,the poor deserved the same education as the rich, in order to cultivate those talents, so they can be used in service of the nation. He believed that the best way to preserve an ever-fragile democracy was a system of free public schooling. Those who would allow unqualified teachers to enter the classrooms of the poor are traitors to Jeffersonian principles.

So for me, advocates of an “open market” in teacher certification are deliberately hurting America, and that, to me, is a traitorous act, especially since the research shows that teaching credentials do matter, and do actually lead to higher student achievement3. On top of that, most advocates for a free market in credentialing would never allow their own children to have an untrained novice, or an inadequately trained teacher, nor would they allow their children to attend schools that rely heavily on such teachers. The hypocrisy and traitorous actions of legislators, business leaders, and policy analysts whoadvocate allowing anyone to teach in a school that would have them as teachers, ensures that social class social membership will remain as it is—difficult to modify. Moreover, the children most likely to be assigned teachers who have little, or no training, are children of color. So, on top of all my other charges, we might want to raise the issue of racism with the advocates of little or no credentialing for teachers. Traitors? Preservationists of the class structure? Racists? Wow! This is tough language for describing some of America’s most noted politicians, business people, and columnists. But until they put their own children in classes whose teachers are inadequately trained, I think it is fair to charge them with deliberately harming our nation. I’ll apologize to these anti-teacher-credentialing group when they let me operate on their family either as a teacher to their children, or as a surgeon on their brain!

-End-

1. Retrieved July 22, 2010, from: ​http://relentlesspoa.wordpress.com/2010/05/18/why-i-quit-teach-for-america/

2. Veltri, B. (2010). Learning on other peoples kids. Charlotte, NC: Infromation Age Publishing.

3. Clotfelter, C. T., Ladd, H. F., & Vigdor, J. L. (2010).Teacher Credentials and Student Achievement in High School: A Cross-Subject Analysis with Student Fixed Effects. Journal of Human Resources 45 (3), 655-681. 

4. D-H.

5. *Researchers Hilda Borko and Richard Shavelson summarized studies that reported decisions perminute during interactive teaching.

6. *Researcher Philip Jackson (p. 149) said that elementary teachers have 200 to 300 exchanges with students every hour (between 1200-1500 a day), most of which are unplanned and unpredictable calling for teacher decisions, if not judgments.

 

Mercedes Schneider reports that the Ohio Legislature passed a bill allowing teachers and staff to carry guns. The Governor has promised to sign it.

Teachers have repeatedly said that don’t want to be armed. Whatever weapon they carry will be far less powerful than an AR15 or other assault weapon that school shooters favor. They worry about accidents, crossfire, killing students or other teachers.

But Ohio teachers will be able to carry weapons and to get training, though not more than 24 hours of instruction in handling a weapon.

Schneider has questions, informed by her experience as a high school teacher:

The bill does not consider that many parents may not want their children attending a school in which one or more teachers have a loaded gun in the classroom. The bill does not require school officials to identify to parents exactly which teachers have loaded guns with them in their classrooms. The bill does not require teacher-arming districts to offer wary parents any alternative, such as immediate transfer to another school or non-packing district with transportation provided.

The bill does not require notifying parents of any safety precautions regarding having a loaded weapon in a classroom full of children.

The bill fails to consider any publicized safety protocol or any training for students or anyone else who must be in the classroom, day after day, with a loaded gun in the same room.

Is the teacher carrying a concealed weapon as that teacher works in close contact with students? Is it locked in a safe in the classroom? Who has access? Are the exact teachers “packing heat” kept a secret from parents and students? What if those teachers are discovered and publicized on social media? Do they then become marks by those who see it as a challenge to confront a teacher carrying a gun? Does it become a dangerous game to some students to try to steal the teacher’s gun? Does videoing the teacher’s gun become a social media challenge?

How will districts pay for the liability insurance? What companies will insure the 24-hour-trained, gun-toting teachers in rooms full of children?

She hopes Ohio will think some more about this decision.

The state of Massachusetts appears ready to take control of the Boston Public Schools at its meeting tomorrow, despite the fact that state takeovers have failed everywhere. The state does not have a special reservoir of knowledge that is lacking at the local level, and if they did, they could provide it without taking control of the school district and ending local control.

This morning, as a seeming prelude to takeover, the state released a “blistering” report about the condition of BPS.

Boston Public Schools is largely stuck in “entrenched dysfunction” and its failure to achieve systemwide change on a number of fronts is causing thousands of students to languish in their classrooms, even as school district leaders have taken initial steps to help remedy some of the problems, according to a blistering state review released Monday.

”The district has failed to effectively serve its most vulnerable students, carry out basic operational functions, and address systemic barriers to providing an equitable, quality education,” the review states. “The problems facing BPS are abundantly clear.”

And the report makes the case that state Commissioner Jeffrey Riley and the state Board of Elementary and Education will take action, although the report doesn’t state what specific steps will be taken. The state education board is scheduled to discuss the report’s findings at its monthly meeting Tuesday...

The new review paints a devastating portrait of the state of BPS, but gives outgoing Superintendent Brenda Cassellius and the school system credit for launching several new district-wide initiatives that show promising signs for boosting student achievement.

Among them: Raising high school graduation standards to align with entry requirements to the state’s public universities, adopting a new literacy curriculum and higher-quality instructional materials, and expanding the diversity of its teaching staff. But full implementation has not been realized yet, and the report raised concerns that the efforts could be thwarted by the district’s lack of a strategic approach to training staff and setting clear expectations and deadlines for schools to embrace the changes.

Despite these improvements, takeover is on the horizon.

The Boston Teachers Union plans a rally tomorrow to protest the state takeover:

As announced last week– we are attending the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) meeting tomorrow to say NO to receivership! 

BESE just announced a location change for this meeting. The meeting will now be at 1 Ashburton Pl, Boston, MA 02108 (NOT Wellesley HS). We will meet in front of the State House at 8am and walk over to the meeting together.

You can drive and meet us there but parking is limited and expensive in that area. You can also take the T to Park Street. Or we’ll still have two buses leaving at 7:30am:

  • Boston Teachers Union in Dorchester (180 Mt. Vernon St. 02125. Be sure you go to the address in Dorchester, not downtown). Lots of free parking.
  • St. Stephen’s Youth Programs in the South End (419 Shawmut Ave, 02119). Limited parking.

If you haven’t already, RSVP here if you can join us.

If you can’t join in person, you can watch the livestream of the meeting at https://livestream.com/accounts/22459134 and take action here. Follow the conversation on Twitter by following the hashtag #OurCityOurSchools. 

Tomorrow BESE will hear from students, parents, and educators united against state takeover! 

Peter Greene describes his latest gambit. He is pressing for the adoption of his “Stop WOKE” act.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is doing his level best to wreck education in his state by politicizing every education policy. It’s a textbook illustration of fear-mongering and race-baiting. How low can he go without scraping his head on the ground?

Greene writes:

Florida owns the Number One spot on the Public Education Hostility Index, but Governor Ron DeSantis is not willing to rest on his laurels. You may have already heard about this, or you may have passed over the news because it’s Florida, but some bad news needs to be repeated, particularly when it comes from the state that launches so many of the bad trends in education.

DeSantis has borrowed from Texas, where a new abortion banhas come up with a clever way to circumvent rules about what a state can and cannot enforce. Now upheld by SCOTUS, the law makes every citizen a bounty hunter, with the right for “anyone to sue anyone” suspected of being in any way involved in an abortion (in a rare display to restraint, Texas exempts the woman getting the abortion from the civil liability). 

The idea of insulating the state is not new to education privatization efforts. Part of the reasoning behind education savings accounts is that it let’s the state say, “What? We didn’t give taxpayer dollars to a private religious institution. We just gave the money to a scholarship organization (and they gave it to the private religious school). Totally not a First Amendment violation.”

So here comes DeSantis with his “Stop WOKE Act” (as in “Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees”– some staffer was up late working on that one). This is legislation he’ll “push for” because of course a governor doesn’t propose legislation–he just orders it up from his party in the legislature. 

The proposal comes wrapped in lots of rhetoric about the evils of “critical race theory,” which DeSantis defines broadly and bluntly: Nobody wants this crap, OK? This is an elite-driven phenomenon being driven by bureaucratic elites, elites in universities and elites in corporate America and they’re trying to shove it down the throats of the American people. You’re not doing that in the state of Florida.

Along with vague rhetoric about learning to hate America, DeSantis brought in crt panic shill Christopher Rufo for his pep rally. And of course he trotted out some highly selective Martin Luther King Jr. quotage, because, hey, he’s totally not racist.

But the highlight here is creating a “private right of action” for parents, an actual alleged civil rights violation. Anyone who thinks their kid is being taught critical race theory can sue (and this will apply to workplace training as well). Parents who win even get to collect attorney’s fees, meaning they can float these damn lawsuits essentially for free– watch for Florida’s version of Edgar Snyder--attorneys advertising “there’s no charge unless we get money for you.”

Allowing parents to file lawsuits would have the effect of making the operating definition of crt even vaguer–it’s whatever Pat and Sam’s mom thinks it is. You can say that using a bad definition that loses the lawsuit would limit this vaguery, but that misses the point–the school would still have to defend itself in court, costing money and time…

Open the link and read the rest.

Greene predicts that teachers will not feel free to teach about America’s racist past. I agree with him.

A few nights ago, I watched a PBS documentary about the life of Marian Anderson, who was hailed in her lifetime as one of the greatest singers in the world. She toured the capitals of Europe to great acclaim. Yet for most of her life, she sang to racially segregated audiences in the United States. The documentary showed that Hitler admired America’s segregationist laws and practices and saw them as a model. Today, those who remember Anderson’s name know her as the black woman whom the DAR (Daughters of the Revolution) prohibited from performing in Constitution Hall in 1939, D.C.’s premier concert hall. D.C. was rigidly segregated. Instead she sang at the Lincoln Memorial to a crowd of 75,000 people. Her opening number was “My Country ‘Tis of Thee.”

I expect that no teacher in Florida would show that documentary in class. It may be factual, but some students’ parents would complain and sue the teacher for exposing their children to CRT.

As part of the Republican effort to eliminate teaching about slavery, racism, and other injustices, the state has banned “critical race theory” and requires teaching “both sides” of controversies.

In the Carroll Independent School District, teachers were told that if they teach about the Holocaust in Europe, they must teach “the other side.” Understandably, teachers were confused. Are they supposed to give equal time to the genocide of millions of men, women, and children, and those who say that the genocide never occurred? When they teach about slavery, must they give equal time to the atrocities of enslavement and to apologists who say that slavery was benign?

Teachers in a Texas city have been told that if they have a book on the Holocaust in their classroom, they should also have one that offers an “opposite” view.

A school head’s instruction to staff in Southlake, which is 26 miles northwest of Dallas, was secretly captured on an audio recording obtained by NBC News.

Gina Peddy, executive director of the Carroll Independent School District, spoke during a training session on what books teachers can keep in classroom libraries.

It came four days after the Carroll school board, in response to a parent’s complaint, voted to reprimand a teacher who had an anti-racism book in her classroom.

In the recording, Ms. Peddy told staff to “remember the concepts” of a new state law that requires teachers to present different points of view when discussing “widely debated and currently controversial” topics.

Referring specifically to the Nazi genocide of six million Jews in wartime, he said: “And make sure if you have a book on the holocaust that you have one that has an opposite, that has other perspectives. “

In response, a teacher said, “How do you oppose the Holocaust?”

Mrs. Peddy told them, “Trust me. That has come up.”

Speaking later, a teacher from Carroll told NBC News: “Teachers literally fear that we will be punished for having books in our classes.

“There are no children’s books that show the ‘opposite perspective’ of the Holocaust or the ‘opposite perspective’ of slavery.

“Are we supposed to get rid of all the books on those topics?”

Another teacher hung caution tape in front of books in a classroom after the new guidelines were distributed.

In a statement issued following Ms. Peddy’s comments, Carroll’s spokeswoman Karen Fitzgerald said the district was trying to help teachers comply with the new state law and an updated version that will take effect in December.

Subsequently, the district superintendent publicly apologized.

As the Superintendent, I express my sincere apology regarding the online article and news story. During the conversations with teachers, comments made were in no way to convey the Holocaust was anything less than a terrible event in history.

This statement does not explain how Texas teachers can teach both sides of every issue. There is no doubt that the purpose of the law is to make teachers fearful of teaching anything about racism or any other atrocities that are matters of fact.