Posted in Indiana, Koch Brothers, Mitch Daniels, REPA, TeacherShortage, Wisconsin

Kill the Teaching Profession: Indiana and Wisconsin Show How It’s Done

THE INDIANA PLAN

Indiana provides a lesson on how to destroy the teaching profession.

Beginning in 2011 the state legislature, with the help of then State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tony Bennett, and then Governor Mitch Daniels, initiated a number of school “reforms” guaranteed to damage public education and public school educators. Their reasoning was two-fold.

  1. Public education received large amounts of tax money which could be used for profit by friends, investors, and colleagues. Privatization of the public sector was and is a goal of Republican politicians.
  2. The Indiana State Teachers Association generally supports Democratic candidates for state offices because Democrats (usually) support public education.

In order to damage public education and speed up privatization, denigrate public school educators, and bust the teachers union, the following effort has been made by the Republican dominated state government since 2011.

  • (I’m sure there are more that I’ve forgotten. Let me know…and I’ll add them here – – – –)

As expected, this attack on public education had the desired (by the Republican privatizers) effect. Schools are losing money. Teachers are fleeing the classroom (see here and here), retiring early, and fewer young people are entering the teaching profession.

Indiana faces shortage of first-time teachers

Aug. 2, 2015

First-time teachers have decreased more than 18 percent in the past five years, leaving districts in a scramble.

Study: Indiana ranks among lowest for teacher recruitment, retention

Sept. 15, 2016

Indiana ranks among the lowest states for teacher recruitment and retention, according to a new nationwide study that anticipates a growing shortage of educators as fewer people enter the profession and demand grows.

In Indiana, more than a quarter of teachers say standardized testing makes them worried about job security — the highest proportion in the nation. Hoosier educators also earn starting salaries lower than the national average but face among the largest class sizes.

Those factors led to the state’s low rating for attracting professionals to the classroom in a report released this week by the Learning Policy Institute. Indiana scored a 2.17 out of a possible 5 points in a review of educator data, including teacher compensation and working conditions. Just three states, Arizona, Texas and Colorado, and the District of Columbia received lower scores.

The shortage continues…

Indiana facing teacher shortage

October 24, 2017

School districts across Indiana are dealing with teacher shortages. According to a new survey, even more districts are feeling the impact now than in 2016. So, what’s going on?

More than 130 District Superintendents in the survey said they have a teacher shortage right now.

Some Republicans claim the teacher shortage isn’t actually happening. Note that the article linked here includes licensed teachers who are not in the classroom as part of the “excess.” Why are they not teaching? Did they leave the classroom because of the deterioration of working conditions and salary?

Nevertheless, in order to offset the loss of teaching staff in the state, rules for becoming a teacher have been relaxed…

…because nothing says increased achievement more than hiring under qualified personnel.

Controversial alternative teaching permit approved by Indiana State Board of Education

Sept. 3, 2014

The Indiana State Board of Education on Wednesday approved a controversial proposal to provide another way for people without a teaching degree to teach high school students, despite outrage from teachers who said it would devalue their profession and subject kids to unprepared educators.

REPA III – Deprofessionalizing Education

SEPTEMBER 8, 2014

The final step in making our public schools as much unlike successful nations’ schools as possible, is to demoralize teachers and deprofessionalize the field of education. Instead of increasing requirements for becoming a teacher, we decrease them. Instead of doing what we need to do to attract the “best and the brightest” to our public school classrooms we make a career in the field of education so difficult and so filled with mind-numbing test-obsessed insanity that fewer and fewer students are going into teaching and older, experienced career teachers are leaving the field in greater and greater numbers.

REPA III requires training in some “related field.” Would any of the seven REPA III supporters on the Indiana State Board of Education want to be treated for an illness by say, an anatomy professor who never attended medical or nursing school, but who promised to learn how to practice medicine within a month? Would any of them go to a former police officer for legal help, for example, if the officer decided that s/he wanted to practice law and would start on her/his law degree during the first month of handling their case?

Do any of them send their own children to schools with untrained teachers?

ON WISCONSIN

Marquette University dropout and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker hates teachers (and most other public sector workers, as well) and ran his campaign on a platform of union busting. How has that worked out?

Apparently not so well for the students of Wisconsin. The “unintended” [sic] consequences of Walker’s attack on public schools, public school teachers, and public sector unions, has, believe it or not, reduced the number of people who want to become teachers in Wisconsin. Go figure…

This Is Just How Badly Scott Walker Has Decimated Public Schools in Wisconsin

“Rather than encouraging the best and the brightest to become teachers and remain in the field throughout their career,” Wisconsin state Senate Democratic Leader Jennifer Shilling said during a press call on Wednesday, “Act 10 has demonized and devalued the teaching profession and driven away many good teachers. These serious implications have left schools across Wisconsin struggling to fill teaching positions.”

That shortage is only starting. As time goes on and fewer people enter the field, the state’s school districts will struggle to find teachers to fill open slots. Already for the 2016-2017 school year, the state’s Department of Public Instruction had to relax the rules for teacher licenses so that more people could get one-year emergency approval to fill shortages.

In response, Wisconsin, like Indiana, has decided that Walker’s successful attempt to drive teachers away from Wisconsin means that they need to lower standards for teacher candidates.

Below you can read about a lobbyist for Wisconsin school boards. He doesn’t come out and say that Walker is the reason for the teacher shortage. Instead he claims that there haven’t been teacher salary raises since the Great Recession. Also, for some unexplained reason, the status of teachers isn’t as high as it once was.

DPI expanding teacher license options to address staffing shortages

Dan Rossmiller, lobbyist for the Wisconsin Association of School Boards, said the teacher shortages being felt in Wisconsin reflect a national trend of fewer high school students studying in college to become classroom teachers.

“The pipeline is definitely narrower and weaker than it used to be,” said Rossmiller.

Rossmiller said factors contributing to fewer people wanting to become teachers include a decline in the reliability of teacher pay raises since the Great Recession.

“For whatever reason, the status of teachers is not being seen as high as it once was,” said Rossmiller. He said when teachers stopped receiving pay raises to keep up with cost of living increases, the attractiveness of the profession declined.

STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE

Indiana and Wisconsin – along with other states across the nation (looking at you, Florida and North Carolina among others) – have found successful ways to weaken and destroy teachers unions, lower the quality of teachers in the classroom, and damage public education. It consists of a few simple steps.

  • First, claim that public schools are failing and that teachers are at fault.
  • Second, use the false narrative of failing public schools to pass laws which damage public education further and make the teaching profession less attractive.
  • Third, lower the qualifications for teachers in order to find enough bodies to fill classroom positions.
  • Fourth, blame the decimated and demoralized teaching force for not increasing student achievement.
  • Repeat.

Student achievement isn’t even considered except as a tool to bludgeon public schools.

I doubt that Walker (or Bennett, Daniels, and Pence in Indiana) are at all worried about the teacher shortage.

That was part of the plan all along.

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Posted in REPA, Teaching Career

There’s More to Teaching Than Telling

It’s important for teachers to have content knowledge before they try to teach. Peter Greene – Curmudgucation – wrote,

Expertise

Yes, teaching is both a skill and an art and to do a good job, you have to know the skill and the art of teaching. But just as you can’t have waves without water or air, you cannot have “teaching skills” without content knowledge– and all the teaching skills in the world will not make up for lacking knowledge. You cannot make an awesome lesson about adding two plus two if you do not know that the result is four. You cannot lead your students through an illuminating and inspiring study of Hamlet if you have never read the play yourself.

This is true, absolutely.

It’s also true for teachers of young children. Early childhood educators and elementary teachers need to understand the reading, math, social studies, and science they teach, just as much as a physics teacher needs to understand physics. Curmudgucation agrees…

Content knowledge is the foundation of everything else. You cannot be an expert at teaching without being an expert at subject matter. Yes, even teachers of the littles, who in particular need the security of knowing they are in the hands of a grownup who Knows Things.

However, what is often misunderstood by non-educators who think they know all about teaching (I’m looking at you, “reformers”) is that content knowledge is only one part of the teaching skill set.

Elementary teachers – and most educated people in general – are already experts in elementary school content. The average college graduate, for example, can already read, do basic arithmetic, and is familiar with basic science and history. This is the likely reason that non-educators think teaching elementary school is “easy.” As one parent said to me when I was explaining why his son was struggling in first grade, “Just tell him. Just tell him what he needs to know.”

Indeed, many people think that you “just tell” children information and they learn it. They don’t understand that learning is more than information. They don’t understand that teaching is more than simply teaching content. Elementary students need more than someone who “tells” them stuff.

In the early 1980s I had been teaching for about 5 years…and had started on my masters degree. I was discussing this with a group of people and someone asked, “When you get your masters, will you be able to teach high school then?” I tried to explain that teaching elementary school was more than just telling kids stuff. The misunderstanding was, and still is, pervasive.

This ignorance about learning has led to things like REPA III (Rules for Educator Preparation and Accountability) in Indiana which allows people with no education training to start teaching content areas in high school. If you have a degree in biology (and a B average), for example, you can teach biology. According to REPA III, there is no education degree required…no need for pedagogical training…no need to learn about classroom management, child development, teaching methods or student discipline. Those are things you can apparently pick up while you’re teaching.

The same sorts of rules are now in force in other states like Arizona and Utah.

But that’s wrong. Teachers need training before they can take on the sole responsibility of a classroom. That’s why legitimate educator training programs include a significant amount of time in classrooms as well as a full semester (or more) of student teaching.

Of course, content knowledge is important, but it’s only part of the teaching story…

One of the comments to Expertise contained an excellent list of what knowledge is necessary to teach…

NY Teacher June 6, 2017 at 7:39 AM

…Might I add, the importance of knowledge goes beyond subject area content:

Knowledge of pedagogy and methodologies
knowledge of child and adolescent psychology
knowledge of mob psychology (Ha!)
knowledge of cognitive learning theory and brain development (and damage)
knowledge of local community and families
knowledge of school community and happenings,
knowledge of your students – as people
knowledge of your limitations
knowledge of classroom management techniques and policies

And that’s just the knowledge side of of being a good teacher.
Work ethic, professionalism, judgement, personality and many more come into play. Maybe the clueless tweeter and all the other know-nothing reformers that came very late to this 150 year old party will begin to understand just how complex and nuanced the skill set required to a “good” teacher. It’s no wonder they don’t grow on trees.

A child is more than a test score. A teacher is more than a purveyor of information.

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Posted in REPA, Teaching Career, Utah

Put Professionals In Classrooms

RIO OLYMPICS 2016

Oklahoma Educator Rob Miller who writes the blog, A View From the Edge, caught my attention with his post, The Olympic Celebration of Diversity. What would happen, Miller pondered in his thought experiment, if the stars we have seen in the Olympics, were placed in different events?

What if Bolt and Phelps changed places in the next Olympics? Imagine Michael on the same track as the other top sprinters competing in the 200-meter race? Can you see Bolt swimming next to the world’s best in the 100-meter butterfly?

His point is, of course, that nearly no one is good at everything. He then moves the analogy over to education…

We have told skilled young artists and musicians that they are not as valuable as other students because they scored lower on a math test. We have elevated certain teachers because they teach “important” subjects like math, science, and reading while devaluing the contribution of teachers of “less important” electives like the arts, music, drama, physical education, history, or computers.

…this,

The true mission of education is to help each child identify and nurture their natural strengths, interests and passions and then work to hone those attributes into marketable skills.

…and also this,

To say a student is not college- and career-ready because he or she cannot pass an Algebra test is like saying Michael Phelps is not an athlete because he cannot complete a gymnastics floor routine.

UTAH

Both Diane Ravitch and Peter Greene commented on Utah’s new rules for teaching…which don’t require any training in pedagogy.

Here’s Ravitch

In a bold move to address the state’s teacher shortage (caused by low salaries), the state board of education removed all requirements for new teachers other than a college degree and passing a test in subject matter.

In other words, if you have a bachelors degree in English, and can pass the English test that Pearson Utah develops, then the state will award you a teachers license.

Peter Greene, with his usual biting wit, wrote,

I keep waiting to hear something from one of the proponents of free market for education.

After all– no other part of the trained labor market works like this. If a hospital can’t find enough doctors to fill its staff, nobody says, “Well, okay– let’s just let anyone with a college degree work in the operating room.”

We do something like this in Indiana, too. Due to the Republican induced teacher shortage (see here, here, and here), the State Board of Education (all appointed by Republicans except for the popularly elected State Superintendent, Glenda Ritz), decided that anyone with a college degree can teach their subject at the high school level. Elementary school would have been included if the Board hadn’t succumbed to pressure from “the people” and the “evil” teachers union.

…because you don’t need to know anything about brain development, human learning patterns, or pedagogy to explain how to do a Physics problem, expound on Julius Caesar, or teach spoken French, right? You surely don’t need any training in class management or child psychology to get a class of thirty-five 16 and 17 year olds to discuss the history of the Peloponnesian War.

This is the level of stupidity making the laws and rules for our public education systems. We’re all about blaming teachers for all our “failing” public schools, yet legislatures starve public education and divert tax revenue into the pockets of Pearson, KIPP, various churches, and Gulen. Our poorest schools have scarce resources to overcome the effects of poverty while legislators who have created the misalignment of funds blame “bad teachers” for “failing schools.”

Now Utah has followed suit, doubling down on the “create-a-teacher-shortage-then-hire-unqualified-people” plan.

Would policy makers in Utah, Indiana, or any state allow their own children to attend a school filled with untrained teachers? I doubt it.

EXTENDING THE THOUGHT EXPERIMENT

Let’s extend Rob Miller’s thought experiment to professionals. Training is important when we expect people to perform certain tasks. Because of that training certain people are better able to do certain tasks…just as Michael Phelps, Simone Biles, Usain Bolt, and all other olympians have trained. What would happen if the trained professionals we rely on were asked to perform the tasks of other professionals?

Would you want a plumber to rewire your house?

Would you let an electrical engineer perform your emergency appendectomy?

Legislators and state board of education members would likely agree that it would be nonsensical to ask an airline pilot to perform brain surgery…an accountant to defend you in court…or a chemist to do your taxes.

Why, then, is it ok to allow untrained amateurs to direct the learning and development of the nation’s most important resource…its children?

These folks are not friends of public education. Click to read about them.
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Posted in A-F Grading, Charters, Choice, Equity, Privatization, Public Ed, Quotes, REPA, SchoolFunding, Testing, Value-Added, WhyTeachersQuit

Random Quotes – June 2016

THIS DOESN’T WORK…

Johnson Academy receives charter renewal

Hypocrisy at work.

The constant barrage of disdain against public schools by the legislature and the governor has led to an increase in the investment in privatization and the contrasting defunding of public education. “Public schools are ‘failing'” the refrain goes, “so we need to divert tax money from the public schools to vouchers and charters.”

Then we read something like this…

from The Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette

Education One, a public charter school-authorizing entity based at Trine University, granted the Timothy L. Johnson Academy a two-year charter renewal.

The academy on Werling Drive in Fort Wayne now has a two-year charter effective June 30 through June 30, 2018.

The school was rated an “F” school in the A-F state accountability rating system for 2014. The two previous years, the school received a “D.”

The school, founded in 2002, lost its charter with Ball State University in 2013.

THIS DOESN’T EITHER…

Unqualified, Uncertified Teachers: Where is the Outrage?

How “reformers” have worked to destroy the teaching profession – Indiana version.

Problem: Career professional teachers, supported by professional teachers unions, demand higher wages and benefits. This stands in the way of privatization in two ways; 1) higher personnel costs results in lower corporate profits, and 2) education professionals support increased resources for their students thereby further reducing profits.

Answer: Destroy the teaching profession (and public schools along with it) through the following steps:

1. Claim that public schools are “failing” and blame it on “bad teachers.”

2. Evaluate teachers using test scores and restrict salary increases for teachers whose students score high. This reinforces the “bad teachers” myth and allows the destruction of the salary structure for all teachers. [Odd how “bad teachers” seem to congregate in schools with high levels of poverty. Oh, and deny that poverty is relevant to achievement.]

3. Threaten the livelihoods of teachers who work with hard-to-educate students, ESL students, students who live in poverty, and students with special needs, through punishments for teaching students with low test scores.

3. Attack and threaten teacher training institutions for turning out all those “bad teachers.”

4. Divert funding from public education to vouchers and charter schools providing less funding for “failing” schools. Budgets are cut. Class sizes rise. Test scores suffer. Continue to blame “bad teachers.”

5. Deny that experience matters. End seniority, salary schedules, and incentives for increased education or advanced degrees.

6. Once all these are in place and a teacher shortage develops, lower qualifications for teaching through state board of education policies.

7. Ignore all research about poverty and achievement, the effectiveness of experienced teachers, and the importance of investment in public education.

Success: Using non-professional, non-career teachers, with higher turnover rates, results in lower personnel costs and higher profits.

from Russ Walsh

I would like to see the business model of any successful company that says, “Let’s forget trying to make the job more attractive to top candidates, we can just hire someone who is unqualified for the job.”

NOR DOES THIS…

The Disconnect Between Changing Test Scores and Changing Later Life Outcomes Strikes Again

A child is more than a test score.

from Jay Greene

If we think we can know which schools of choice are good and ought to be expanded and which are bad and ought to be closed based primarily on annual test score gains, we are sadly mistaken.

WHAT WE SHOULD BE DOING

Report Demonstrates that Greater Investment, Well Distributed, Raises School Achievement

Mind the Gap: 20 Years of Progress and Retrenchment in School Funding, Staffing Resources, and Achievement Gaps

Instead of diverting funds away from public education we ought to be investing in our local public schools.

from Jan Resseger

“(A)cross states, over the past decade and a half in particular, states with lower pupil-to-teacher ratios and fairer distribution of staffing tend to have both higher outcomes among children from low-income families and smaller (economic) achievement gaps…. We also have evidence that states in which teacher wages are more competitive have smaller achievement gaps and higher scores for children from lower income families.”

Her conclusion…

…you get what you pay for, and if you want to close achievement gaps between poor children and their privileged peers, you should spend what you need to to ensure that the children living in the poorest communities get the added attention they need from highly qualified teachers.

FOLLOW THE MONEY

Across the Nation, Education is Getting Short Shrift

Tax dollars earmarked for public education are being diverted to privatization schemes such as vouchers and charters. Americans, through their legislators, bought and paid for by corporate donors, are neglecting their future.

From Jeff Bryant at The Progressive

You can place blame for the country’s education funding crisis squarely at the feet of state lawmakers and policy leaders who simply refuse to fund schools.

STUDENT DREAMS

Second graders imagine their dream school. It isn’t what you might think.

What would you have wished for when you were in second grade?

Second graders at a Boston elementary school said they wish for a school with

  • “…pencils, markers, and glue sticks…”
  • “…a shiny and new school…”
  • “…a room with soft things and people to talk to…”
  • “…a better playground…”
  • “…a class pet and field trips to far-away places…”
  • “…a whole library…”

What kind of school do your kids deserve?

from Lily Holland via Valerie Strauss

I think I’ve changed my mind. When I introduced this activity, I originally said I dreamed of a school with an outdoor garden that my students and I could use to grow healthy food. Now I think I dream of a school where 7-year-olds don’t have to just dream about the schools they deserve.

WHY TEACHERS LEAVE

Teaching, GOP lose frustrated Hoosier

Professional, career teachers are leaving education. The loss will be felt in years to come when our leaders only come from the elites who could afford quality education and our voting population consists of adults whose education was damaged by greed and shortsightedness.

From Brenda Yoder in the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette

Establishment Republicans don’t seem to care about these students or others who need caring teachers more than they need six weeks of ISTEP+. They don’t care about the rural communities where schools are fighting just to stay alive. They don’t care about excellent teachers who do their best for the students they love.

They care about the money they can get from ALEC, Pearson and from being elected by the “voucher” bandwagon. Seriously, vouchers aren’t the issue anymore. Integrity, real needs, and change are.

CHOICE HAS BRED CHAOS

We Can Recover From The School Choice Movement

The “choice” in education has always been available for those who were wealthy. “Choice” now means that privatized schools can choose their students. Parents who are confused and without a well-staffed, well funded neighborhood school to rely on, are left to struggle with the system.

from Ed Berger, Ed.D

“Choice” is a marketplace idea wrongly applied to education. The assumption that most parents have the information they need to make intelligent decisions about the education their children need, and the education children need to be effective citizens, has been proven wrong. School choice has failed to improve our schools. In fact, choice has created a chaos of confusion for parents who have risked (gambled) on moving their children out of comprehensive education programs to place them in partial education programs. The costs of these misguided experiments is evident in high dropout rates, incomplete educations, and damaged children.

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Posted in IN Gen.Assembly, REPA, Teaching Career

Indiana “reformers” are Surprised by a Teacher Shortage?

[This entry has been updated. The second part has been added]

INITIAL REACTION

Kruse and Behning can’t understand why there’s a teacher shortage?

The two people in the Indiana legislature who are responsible for more damage to the state’s public education system than anyone else…and they don’t know why there’s a teacher shortage?

Either they are even more stupid than I suspected (and that’s saying quite a bit) or they think we’re incredibly stupid.

Indiana Lawmakers Call For Study On Teacher Shortage

“Senate Education Committee Chairman Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, and House Education Chairman Robert Behning, R-Indianapolis, wrote that “given the media reports and concerns that they have generated with school districts, we think it would be wise for the Indiana General Assembly to proactively address this issue.”

“They are calling for testimony from experts and those teaching in local schools to explain why the enrollment at teacher colleges and licensures are dropping….”

For starters (please feel free to add your own)…

We have…

Attacking teachers

  • Loss of collective bargaining rights over most contract items.
  • Attacking the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, a National Board Certified Teacher, because she’s “…just a librarian.”
  • REPA-3 allowing anyone someone to teach without knowing the first thing about education (Yes, I know this was the SBOE, but my guess is that they heard about it).

And…

Attacking Public Schools

  • Diverting funds for public education to private and charter schools.
  • Using an unproven and inadequate single letter grade to grade public schools…and insisting that we use it even though the testing was screwed up.

And finally…

Overuse and Misuse of Standardized Tests

  • Using student test scores to evaluate teachers.
  • Insisting on using an untested system before it’s ready.

UPON FURTHER CONSIDERATION

My first thought was that Kruse and Behning are just stupider than I imagined…and then I started thinking about it and I have begun to suspect that they aren’t worried about the lack of teachers at all.

First…this is the perfect excuse to saturate the state with TFA temps. Think of all the money the state will save without career teachers getting higher salaries.

Second…I think it will be time for REPA-4. The new crisis is that there won’t be enough teachers so the state will have to lower even further the requirements for people to become teachers. Right now all you need is a bachelor’s degree…and the ability to pass a test in your subject area and you can teach that subject in High School…without any teaching experience or training. Perhaps REPA-4 will drop the requirements even lower…and add elementary schools. Anyone with a college degree in anything could teach elementary school…and forget the test portion of the requirement…after all, how hard can it be to get a bunch of little kids to do what you want them to do! More low paid temps…

Third…not enough teachers? Raise the class size. Think how much money we can save there!

With those three things going think how easy it will be to claim that public schools are failing and we need to send even more money to private, parochial and charter schools. Let’s just shut down the whole public education system in the state and let the Friedmanites take over…no regulation needed at all. After all, it worked well for the banks, didn’t it?

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The narrow pursuit of test results has sidelined education issues of enduring importance such as poverty, equity in school funding, school segregation, health and physical education, science, the arts, access to early childhood education, class size, and curriculum development. We have witnessed the erosion of teachers’ professional autonomy, a narrowing of curriculum, and classrooms saturated with “test score-raising” instructional practices that betray our understandings of child development and our commitment to educating for artistry and critical thinking. And so now we are faced with “a crisis of pedagogy”–teaching in a system that no longer resembles the democratic ideals or tolerates the critical thinking and critical decision-making that we hope to impart on the students we teach.

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Stop the Testing Insanity!
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Posted in Article Medleys, Public Ed, REPA, Teacher Licensing, Teaching Career, vouchers, WhyTeachersQuit

2015 Medley #16

The War Against Public Education,
Vouchers, A Public Good

THE CONTINUING WAR AGAINST TEACHERS AND PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Wisconsin may be first to license teachers without degree

The state of Wisconsin is considering a teacher licensing plan which would be even worse than Indiana’s.

In Indiana, if you recall, anyone can teach a subject in a high school if they have a college degree in the subject, a B average, and experience in the field. No training in pedagogy necessary.

Now, a legislator in Wisconsin, Rep. Mary Czaja, thinks that it’s important for schools to be able to hire completely unqualified teachers in order to ease teaching shortages…because, after all, anyone can teach anything that’s not a core subject.

At least in Indiana one must have a college degree in the subject area one wishes to teach…including those unimportant (aka non-tested) subjects. Apparently, in Wisconsin, people who might want to teach non-core subjects, like art, drama or shop, don’t need any expertise (just “relevant experience“). And no one seems to need any pedagogical training…because teaching middle and high school students doesn’t, in their mind, require any training in human development, class management, or learning theory.

This is not law yet, and if the publicity surrounding it is damaging enough, Governor Walker will reject it, rather than take a chance on ruining his already non-existent Presidential campaign possibilities.

The idea that “anyone can teach” isn’t new. The old saying, “He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches” (thank you G.B. Shaw) incorrectly implies that the profession/art/science/calling of teaching is something which takes no skill. Since “everyone has been to school” the theory goes, it stands to reason that “anyone can teach.” This popular culture concept of teaching-as-easy-part-time-job-that-anyone-can-do is pervasive. The reality, as those of us who have spent time in actual classrooms know, is much different.

Unfortunately, policy makers and “reformers” don’t have to deal with reality. They can make laws and rules based on whim and ignorance in order to achieve their goals which might include, finding jobs for their friends, finding funding for their donors, pandering to special interest groups in order to get votes, and so on. Destroying and privatizing public education is a very lucrative business right now…so closing schools and replacing them with charters, shuffling tax money to religious schools in the form of vouchers, and cutting corners to reduce costs are popular among the ALEC legislative crowd. Since the biggest cost in public education is personnel, cutting corners in that area will maximize profits. What better way to cut personnel costs than to open the field of education up to untrained workers…perhaps minimum wage is next.

Wisconsin may be the first state in the country to certify teachers who don’t have bachelor’s degrees under a provision put in the state budget, a move that has drawn widespread criticism and that Gov. Scott Walker refused to say Thursday whether he supports.

Under the change, anyone with relevant experience could be licensed to teach non-core academic subjects in grades six through 12. They would not need a bachelor’s degree and they could even be a high school dropout.

[See also ‘Breathtaking in its stupidity’: Wisconsin GOP bill would allow high school dropouts to teach high school]

Why America Demonizes Its Teachers

Why is it that the “bad teachers” and “failing schools” are only in high poverty schools?

Policy makers and politicians happily join in the “reformer” chorus blaming “bad teachers” and “failing schools” instead of accepting their share of the responsibility for struggling students and schools.

The beginning of wisdom is calling things by their right names. There is no “failed schools” problem in America, but only government’s failed policy of “benign neglect” that has blighted inner cities and their schools for generations. One has only to consider the historical reason that caused this urban blight: the decades-old urban planning of sustained and systemic neglect that simply wrote off the inner cities to die on the vine, as state and federal funding was diverted to facilitate “white flight” to the suburbs.

Shaw Friedman: Why the GOP assault on public schools?

Sadly, this is only a partisan issue when one party is in control. Before the last election the Democrats in Illinois went after the teachers and their unions. In Democratically controlled Chicago, Rahm Emanuel continues the “reform” plan of privatization. The governor of New York is determined to destroy the state’s system of public education and the teachers who serve their children. And in D.C. Arne Duncan, the nation’s Secretary of Education, presides over a national movement based on charters, privatization, and the deprofessionalization of teachers. I’m glad that Democrats in Indiana are coming out against the Republican “reform” policies, but I am wary of their motives. If the Democrats come into power…and start to bring in money from Pearson, Gates, and other anti-public donors, will they change their tune? The experience in New York, Chicago, Washington D.C., and elsewhere suggests caution.

Only a pro-public education movement, not beholden to one or the other political party, will guarantee that elected officials respond to the needs of our children, our teachers and our schools. In the meantime we have to elect people who will support public schools — no matter what the political party.

Why are we spending $2.8 million to provide scholarship tax breaks to Hoosiers earning $100,000 or more a year? How about it, Tim? Most obscene is we’re spending $100 million in Hoosier tax dollars to subsidize private schools as well as contracts with for-profit, out-of-state corporate school takeover providers. As Cathy Fuentes-Rohwer of Bloomington, chair of the Indiana Coalition for Public Education, wrote eloquently in a recent Op/Ed: “Children who are hungry or living in a car really do have a difficult time paying attention to long division. The new budget gives more dollars to the wealthiest districts while decreasing the aid to the least. Teachers are losing control over what goes on in the classroom because of test-driven “accountability” and most haven’t had a raise in years. Teachers know best how to educate kids.”

New California teaching credentials decline for 10th successive year

What happens when you cause a public education crisis by making “bad teachers” and “failing schools” the scapegoat for what is essentially a nation-wide problem of poverty? What happens when you pass laws putting pressure on teachers to “teach to the test,” and beat the constant drum-beat of public school and public school teacher failure?

Who is going to want to put themselves into a public school teaching position under those circumstances? What prospective teacher is willing to rack up $100,000 in debt for a job with no security, no chance for advancement, and none of the job aspects which promote motivation: autonomy, mastery, and purpose? Who will want to join a profession being daily bashed and attacked by politicians and the media?

It isn’t the least bit surprising that there is a significant drop in the number of students entering teacher-preparation programs. The article below is about California, but similar situations are occurring in Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Colorado, North Carolina, and elsewhere.

“Reformers” are no doubt pleased. A lack of qualified teachers opens the door to “alternative” paths to teaching such as Teach for America, lowered qualifications for teacher licensing (see above, Wisconsin May be the First… and REPA III in Indiana), and the resultant lower personnel costs…because profit is the real focus of the privatizers.

Darling-Hammond and other education experts have repeatedly expressed concerns about the potential consequences of a teacher shortage that she said was due to several factors, including major layoffs during the recession, a culture of “teacher bashing” that she said has soured young people from seeking the career, and an increasing demand for teachers that has been met by a declining supply.

The shrinking numbers of teachers receiving credentials has been paralleled by a declining interest in teaching. Enrollments in teacher preparation programs have declined by 75 percent over the past decade – from 77,700 in 2001-02 to 19,933 in the 2012-13 school year, the last year for which figures are available,

Why is it OK to defame teachers?

The editorial is built, without evidence, around the canard that all teachers with experience either are, or soon will become, “dead wood” that ought to be cleared from the forest of public schools by—in the case of Newark—administrators with virtually no (and, in some cases, just plain no) teaching experience. As if experience teaching was itself the cause of poor teaching–what naïve drivel.

How convenient it is for these non-experts to decide that the problems of urban schools are caused by a phantom band of dead wood teachers who, because they are experienced, are thereby at fault for the dismal performance of urban public schools.

VOUCHERS

Governors Push for Private School Vouchers

Mitch Daniels (R) followed by Mike Pence (R) in Indiana…and in this article, Andrew Cuomo (D) in New York (quote below), Scott Walker (R) in Wisconsin and Chris Christie (R) in New Jersey…

Cuomo makes it bipartisan.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: The “Parental Choice in Education Act,” a bill pushed by New York Governor Cuomo, would create a tuition tax credit program—which is nothing more than a backdoor voucher program that would cost the state millions of dollars. The program would cost the state millions of dollars that could otherwise go to public schools in need of money. Tuition tax credit programs have been criticized as being “welfare for the rich.” That is especially true with this program, as many of these publicly-funded private school scholarships could go to families with annual incomes up to $300,000.

THE PUBLIC GOOD

‘Public education is the foundation of a democratic society’

Here is a great letter from Wisconsin. We’ve lost sight of the public good that is American public education…

“…Our public schools are the heart and soul of our communities and serve all students and their families. Public education is the foundation of a democratic society. Previous generations made a moral commitment to us through their investments in public schools. Our generation must renew that moral commitment to our children by investing in their future and our representative democracy by funding our great public schools…” — Joyce Luedke, Wausau

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The narrow pursuit of test results has sidelined education issues of enduring importance such as poverty, equity in school funding, school segregation, health and physical education, science, the arts, access to early childhood education, class size, and curriculum development. We have witnessed the erosion of teachers’ professional autonomy, a narrowing of curriculum, and classrooms saturated with “test score-raising” instructional practices that betray our understandings of child development and our commitment to educating for artistry and critical thinking. And so now we are faced with “a crisis of pedagogy”–teaching in a system that no longer resembles the democratic ideals or tolerates the critical thinking and critical decision-making that we hope to impart on the students we teach.

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Stop the Testing Insanity!
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Posted in IN Gen.Assembly, REPA, SBOE, Teaching Career

Creating a Teacher Shortage and Making it Worse

TEACHER SHORTAGES AROUND THE NATION

Severe teacher shortages are cropping up around the nation — in Oklahoma, ArizonaNevada (and Nevada), California and elsewhere. There isn’t just one reason for the growing teacher shortages…but at least one reason is present in most locations — so-called education “Reform” is making it harder to be a career teacher.

INDIANA: SAYING ONE THING AND DOING ANOTHER

Indiana is one of those states following a path which seems guaranteed to increase teacher shortages, especially in hard to teach subjects (like special education) and areas (like urban schools). The state has hit teachers, schools and districts with the overuse and misuse of student test scores, the removal of due process, reduction of collective bargaining, loss of revenue which has been transferred to charter schools and voucher accepting private and parochial schools, and pension changes. The goals seem to be, to weaken teachers unions in the state, deprofessionalize the field of education, and privatize public education.

On the other hand, if you read what is posted on the Education Round Table web site (within the State of Indiana site) you’ll get a different picture. The Roundtable is charged with improving “educational opportunity and achievement for all Hoosier students.” Here’s what they say about the quality of Indiana teachers.

Teaching and Learning

Although the state produces a steady stream of new teachers, Indiana schools continue to experience a shortage of qualified teachers in specific content areas and specific schools. Special education constitutes over 80 percent of the shortage, followed by shortages in mathematics and science. Consistent with national trends, the percentage of teachers without full certification is highest in high-poverty districts in the state.

Indiana has made progress in improving teacher licensure. Rules for teacher licensure and renewal are aligned with the state’s academic standards and school improvement plans. Indiana ranks among the top states whose teachers are fully licensed and not teaching on waivers and has been nationally recognized for the high percentage of core academic classes taught by teachers who are fully licensed in the areas in which they are teaching. [emphasis added]

Note that Indiana is “among the top states whose teachers are fully licensed.”

How does that stack up against what has actually happened due to the activities of the state legislature and state policy makers? It doesn’t. The words of the Education Round Table and the actions of the legislature and policy makers are at odds.

In fact, the legislature and policy makers have apparently gone out of their way to make things more difficult for teachers. They have (and yes, I know I’m repeating myself)…

  • eliminated due process for teachers
  • reduced collective bargaining rights
  • demanded that schools evaluate teachers based on student test scores
  • cut funding for public education while transferring money to privately run charter schools
  • expanded the largest-in-the-nation voucher program providing state funds to private and parochial schools
  • reduced funding professional development for teachers
  • allowed salaries to stagnate

So, while the Round Table touts the high quality of teachers in the state, the policy makers are making things more difficult for those teachers to do their jobs.

The Education Round Table continues with a list of items to improve student achievement

Next Steps to Improve Student Achievement:

  • Strengthen teacher preparation and licensure through greater integration of subject matter knowledge and instructional expertise. [emphasis added]
  • Ensure that all new teachers have training in effective classroom assessment practices, analysis of student performance data, recognition of exceptional learners, and modification of curriculum and instruction to meet differentiated student needs. [emphasis added]

In order to improve student achievement we need to make sure that all new teachers are well trained in pedagogy as well as content areas.

MAKING IT WORSE

The teacher shortage will only get worse as the state makes it more and more difficult and unpleasant to be a teacher. Fewer students will choose to be teachers and the already high rate of turnover (nearly 50% of all teachers leave within their first five years) will continue. As if on cue, policy makers on the State Board of Education have come up with a way to get more bodies into the classroom…

REPA III, adopted by the State Board of Education, over the objections of the Superinendent of Public Instruction, allows anyone with a degree, a B average, and experience in a field to teach that subject in any public high school in Indiana. These novices can start teaching with no “instructional expertise” and no training in “effective classroom assessment practices, analysis of student data, recognition of exceptional learners and modification of curriculum and instruction.” Is this what the Education Round Table calls “progress in improving teacher licensure?”

The lip-service given to “fully licensed” teachers is just so much bull.

Connect the dots. When we make teaching a less attractive career we lose high quality teachers and teacher candidates. Then, in order to fill classroom teaching positions, we lower the requirements for those entering the teaching profession. How does this improve student achievement?

We’re doing it wrong…and we’re making it worse.

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All who envision a more just, progressive and fair society cannot ignore the battle for our nation’s educational future. Principals fighting for better schools, teachers fighting for better classrooms, students fighting for greater opportunities, parents fighting for a future worthy of their child’s promise: their fight is our fight. We must all join in.

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Stop the Testing Insanity!
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