Thursday, October 11, 2012
You Get What You Pay For When You Practice Education On The Cheap Policies.
It is no secret that the DOE's "fair student funding" fiasco has encouraged principals to hire on the cheap when it comes to teachers. Many of the Bloomberg small schools are populated with "newbie teachers" and at the high school level that is a real crime when it comes to the education of the students in those schools. Is it any wonder that the "college and career readiness" rates for those small schools are 10.7%, compared to the 20.7% for all New York City high schools?
An example of this problem was played out in a recently created small school that is one of the small schools replacing a closing school that was targeted by the DOE. In this school, only in it's third year of existence, the school had recently excessed an experienced Physics teacher because the teacher failed half the students and obtained poor Regents results. Was he a terrible teacher? Well, I taught with him for eight years and he always obtained good Regents grades in Physics and rarely failed students at the closing school that the new school now occupies. The real answer was the students of this new Bloomberg small school.lack the academic ability to handle the math and scientific concepts necessary for high school Physics. However, it is always easier to blame the teacher than the ill-prepared student body.
To replace the excessed Physics teacher, the school hired two "newbie science teachers", one in Chemistry and the other in Earth Science. My friend, the ATR was assigned to the school for the first five weeks and the Principal had asked him to shadow the two teachers and help them adjust to the New York City classroom. He did as he was told but found that both teachers lacked pedagogy, had poor knowledge of the curriculum, and had terrible classroom management skills. The Chemistry teacher was foreign born and had trouble with the English language and made many grammatical errors when trying to explain Chemistry.. However, what was worse that he made science errors such as telling the students that Helium is la lighter gas than Hydrogen, despite what the Periodic Tables of Chemistry shows. Moreover, his classroom was noisy and the students were distracted and not engaged. My friend felt very sorry for those Chemistry students. He believed they are in for a long and frustrating year.
The Earth Science teacher was a "wet behind the years" newbie who looked like she should be a student rather than a teacher. Worse was her apparent lack of curriculum knowledge when she incorrectly told her students that latitude were vertical lines and longitude horizontal lines. The opposite is true. In addition, she could not run the lab and screwed up a simple density experiment. Like the Chemistry teacher she had trouble controlling the classroom, seemed very frustrated, and keeping the students engaged was difficult. My friend doubts she will be teaching next year.
My friend, who is a twenty-two year Science teacher, said to the Principal why did you hire the two science teachers when there are so many good science teachers without classrooms? The Principal was blunt, she told him that her budget is very tight and she could not afford to pick up a higher salaried teacher, no matter how great the teacher may be. She felt badly that she could not hire the "best teachers" but the budget made it impossible to do so. Her parting words to my friend was that she wished she could keep him around to work with the two teachers but the DOE does not allow for it without picking up his salary which she cannot afford.
Is it any wonder why the small schools do so poorly when it comes to "college and career readiness"? When teachers are selected based upon their salary and not on their ability, the future looks bleak for those students that end up in these small schools.