Tuesday, July 11, 2006

A Quality Teacher In Every Classroom? - You Get What You Pay For

A nonpartisan organization called the Education Trust has found that students in urban, high-povety high schools were twice as likely to meet State standards when taught by highly rated teachers. This conclusion was not based upon a limited study but from a comprehensive study rating 140,000 teachers in Illinois. Further, teacher experience made a profound difference in student performance. Therefore, to maximize student achievement in the urban high schools it is important to have an experienced, highly rated teacher in the classroom. The question is how does New York City achieve the goal of providing such teachers in their urban high schools?

First, you need to pay a competitive salary. Why would a highly-rated, experienced teacher teach in a school system that pays 15% less than the surrounding suburbs?

Second, you need manageable class sizes. In the New York City high schools the average class size is 32 students compared to 23 students in the surrounding suburbs. Thats 39% more students and less attention given to the needy students.

Third, teacher control of the classroom. In the New York City schools teachers have very little control of the classroom and many of the classrooms have safety problems. DOE student discipline regulations gives classroom teachers little say in removing disruptive and dangerous students.

Fourth, a continuing practical and informative professional development program, led by these very teachers to make other, less experienced teachers better. Instead of ideological (i.e. Columbia Teachers College) mindless professional development that has little if any classroom application.

Finally, the lack of strong and classroom-based administrators. Unlike the suburbs where most administrators were once those highly-qualifed, experienced teachers, many New York City administrators have little classroom experience and come out of a business-based "Leadership Program". These administrators were not master teachers and their experience with dealing with the teaching staff is not collaborative.

How does New York City attract teachers to work in their schools? They have job fairs, out-of-state-recruitment, and yes a global recruitment outreach program! I kid you not.
If they ever found life in space they would probably have a intergalactic job fair, that's how desperate the City is to attract teachers. Furthermore, many of the teachers hired by the City are not really certified as the highly-rated teachers are. In New York City (with State approval), many of the newer teachers come from the NYC fellows program, Teach For America, and other alternate certification programs. In my high school (like most) besides having teachers with alternate certification, we have had teachers from Jamaica, Slovokia, Austria, Nigeria, Germany, Hati, and the Phillipines. Most of the foreign teachers left after their two year commitment was finished . In all cases the reason they left was the culture shock of student disrespect and the tepid backing of the administrators. Very few of the alternate certification teachers last in the profession as the teaching job is found to be too tough to handle. By contrast the suburbs pick and choose among the many applications from quality teachers. Why? because the provide competitive salaries, low class sizes, teacher control of the classroom, and enforceable student discipline codes. The very things a highly-rated teacher looks for.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that to attract highly qualified, experienced teachers you most make the job professionally satisfying, and less emotionally exhausting. Things the New York City school system has failed to do.

8 comments:

happychyck said...

Wow. These are almost exactly like the same points in how we could attract teachers to Clark County (Las Vegas), except we are in competition with other states, not the suburbs since there aren't any. Agressive recruiting (stateside and overseas) and alternative programs has mostly produced a revolving door. People come here for the experience they need to be hired in their home states or they realize it's a hard gig and leave the field entirely.

no_slappz said...

Chaz, you wrote:

"By contrast the suburbs pick and choose among the many applications from quality teachers. Why? because the provide competitive salaries, low class sizes, teacher control of the classroom, and enforceable student discipline codes. The very things a highly-rated teacher looks for."

Your claims, while true, are disingenuous. Teachers in the suburbs -- several are friends of mine -- deal with kids who are civilized.

The most meaningful difference between the city and the suburbs is the quality of socialization of students. Far too many city kids are effectively unsocialized.

Though some kids in the suburbs are occasionally unruly, the two settings are worlds apart.

I'm sure city teachers would opt for the suburban students even if they came with no changes in class size, salary or administrative support.

Chaz said...

no slappz:

Point well taken. However, if the DOE discipline codes were more stringent and the other issues satisfied, more quality teachers would teach in the New York City schools. The social attraction of the city would negate the more civilized student of the suburbs.

no_slappz said...

chaz,

NYC teachers aren't going to remanufacture troublesome NYC students into well behaved recipients of knowledge because teachers must devote yoo much of their energy to managing the warehousing of kids during the week.

Since only a relatively small number of teachers are needed to teach the willing students throughout the public school system, it seems wiser to find a school -- a private school -- that serves a reasonable bunch of kids and work there.

On a larger scale, if it were possible to found many more private schools that limited enrollment to kids who weren't discipline problems, teachers would have a range of venues at which to practice their trade.

If the education market were truly competitive, working conditions for teachers would show immediate improvement.

no_slappz said...

chaz,

Based on what you wrote in this commentary, you hold yourself and your fellow NYC teachers in low regard.

You wrote:
First, you need to pay a competitive salary. Why would a highly-rated, experienced teacher teach in a school system that pays 15% less than the surrounding suburbs?"

You've stated that good teachers do not work in NYC because doing so would require a 15% decrease in paychecks.

So then. What level of quality have NYC teachers reached?

Next. Since you think all NYC teachers are subpar, why would giving all of them a raise improve anything? According to you, they're working at their capacity because your pay-vs-quality measurement says so.

Why should those sub-par teachers receive a raise? If you want them to receive the same pay as highly-rated teachers, you obviously don't value the superior skills of the better teachers.

Since you want to attract more highly-rated teachers, wouldn't you want to offer those individual teachers higher paychecks while with-holding the increase from the entrenched sub-par teachers?

Or do you believe sub-par teachers would blossom into highly-rated teachers if their paychecks increased?

If so, that capacity to blossom would suggest all teachers are pretty much equal. But if they're all pretty much equal, what's to be gained from raising their pay?

Chaz said...

no slappz:

pay is only part of the equation. If I was a 25 year old teacher, I would have went to the burbs long ago. However, I am a second career 40+ year old teacher and going to the suburbs is not a realistic option.

no_slappz said...

chaz, you wrote:

"pay is only part of the equation. If I was a 25 year old teacher, I would have went to the burbs long ago."

Maybe yes, maybe no. As you've noted, there are many applicants for every suburban teaching position. Who knows how you would have fared.

You wrote:
"However, I am a second career 40+ year old teacher and going to the suburbs is not a realistic option."

It seems you are claiming suburban school systems practice age discrimination.

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