Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Scapegoating Of The Teaching Profession Will Result In A Future Teacher Shortage.

There is no secret that the education reform movement, hijacked by the hedge fund managers, billionaires, and the corporate elite (the 1%), has successfully blamed teachers for poor student academic achievement. The education reformers ignore the effects of poverty, the family, lack of resources for school, and the large class sizes that are associated with poor student academic achievement.  Instead the education reform groups have attacked teacher "due process rights" and if they had their way, the teaching profession would be an "at will" employee, subject to termination at the wish of the administrator and school district.  In other words, the teaching profession would be a temporary position with a low salary and few benefits, for recent college graduates who want to get their first job similar to the Teach for America model which sees over 85% of them leaving their classroom after five years of service.  This instability and high teacher turnover destabilizes the schools and only hurts student academic outcomes.

How successful has the education reformers been in their campaign to demonize the teaching profession?  Just pick up your daily newspaper and there would be a story about bad teachers or why teacher tenure is bad for students.   .These same media outlets fail to see the connection between poverty and the social economic problems associated with the students that studies have shown contribute over 80% of the student's development.  Unfortunately, the connection between zip codes and student academic achievement is a reality and not an excuse that the education reform groups want to ignore.

An example of what lengths the education reformers and their political and media allies will go is the bungled Common Core roll-out by New York State. Under parent and school district pressure, the State decided not to use the Common Core based tests to determine student scores since the curriculum was not available for teachers to receive the proper training in.  However, the education reformers demanded that the scores still count for the teachers, even when the few available field tests showed large errors in the scores and the "value added measures" were considered "junk science".  The hypocrisy that exempted students from being penalized by these poorly planned tests but still hold teachers accountable for the same tests shows the power that the education reform groups hold over the State.  It was only last week that the Governor relented to a two year freeze.  The reason for the resistance to the two year freeze was obvious.  The test scores would have allowed administrators to get around tenure by using the flawed test scores to show the teacher was "ineffective" and fire them after two years. 

Recently, a California judge has ruled that the State's teacher tenure law is "unconstitutional" and allows poor preforming teachers to stay in the classroom and hurts minority students.   According to the judge it's a civil rights issue.  I believe the judge's flawed ruling will be overturned on appeal.  However, the California decision will set in motion similar lawsuits throughout the nation.  Already the .clueless Campbell Brown has taken her anti-teacher rhetoric in that direction and is spearheading a similar lawsuit in New York State.

The education reform movement claims they want "quality teachers" in every classroom.  However,where they have attained authority over the schools like New Orleans, Newark, Detroit, and Houston, the teachers hired were recent college graduates that required these municipalities to seek a waiver under No Child Left Behind since they are not considered "highly qualified" according to the law.  In fact, many of the recent college graduates were not even certified educators and were mostly white while instructing an almost 100% minority student population. Moreover, the education reform groups support the continued expansion of charter schools with teachers as an "at will" employee.  Meaning that teachers can be hired and fired at will.  The result is a high teacher turnover rate with few teachers lasting beyond three years at these schools.  The charter schools will claim they have better results then the public schools but that's because they remove struggling and behaviorally challenged students from their school.  Just take a look at the Eva Moskowitz Success Academy school as an example. Of the 72 students who started only 32 graduated from the school that means 56% of the students left the school and since the school does not back fill, the school is left with an incomparable cohort when it comes to the public schools. For the education reform organizations the future would be no teacher tenure, no pension or retiree health benefits, and deprofessionalizing the teaching profession by making it a stepping stone to a real professional occupation.

Already, across the nation scattered teacher shortages are becoming evident. This disturbing trend will accelerate as the nation's economic condition slowly improves.  Many collges are complaining that they have seen a decrease in education majors.  One college professor said that his class on classroom teaching techniques aare only half filled and he suspects a good quarter of his students have no intention of ever teaching in the classroom. This is the fallout for the constant media and political demonetization of teachers and their profession. With the elimination of teacher tenure you can expect a rise in ageism,  cronyism, nepotism, and favoritism, the very reason teacher tenure laws were necessary in the first place.

Teaching was once considered a noble and highly respected occupation and that's still the case in much of the world.  However, thanks to the education reform groups and their political and media allies, supported by deep pocketed benefactors, the teaching profession is anything but respected.  Teachers and the unions are blamed for all the problems of the school system while the other issues that are beyond the control of the classroom teachers are ignored.  Is it any wonder, that in five years we will see a deepening shortage of teachers as nobody in there right mind will even consider a profession that is constantly under attack and blamed for all society's ills.


Anonymous said...

Outstanding blog piece Chaz. I agree 100% that we will be facing a massive teacher shortage soon. However, I believe it will not take 5 years. My elementary school in NYC has about 4 or 5 openings and is having a hard time getting people to fill the positions. College grads and career changers realize that the teaching "profession" is not a happy or inviting calling anymore.

Anonymous said...

Eva Moskowitz had the unique opportunity to prepare black and hispanic kids - incredibly underrepresented in the specialized high schools - to gain admission to these prized schools and start academic careers that would integrate them into successful professional careers in our society.

Instead, not only did she fail to get even one of her graduates into these high schools, her Success Academies could not graduate even half of the cohort.

What a scam being played on the NYC tax payer!

Anonymous said...

Hi Chaz,
I was fortunate to get a great elementary and hs education(thanks to a my mother's sacrifices). Even with that I suffered economically. Can you imagine what this generation of public hs grads and non-grads will have suffer? They have absolutely no chance of getting a decent job or going on to secondary education.Even if they take remedial classes, they are just too deficient to dig out of that hole. They lack basic education, common sense and interpersonal skills. The teacher bashers may feel they are hurting us, but they are destroying this generation by not focusing on individual,family and poverty(of the spirit). Eventually technology will fill that future shortage of teachers, which may be part of the long term plan.

Anonymous said...

I would only tell people I hate to go to into teaching at this point. I was warned not to do it almost 20 years ago and I didn't listen and boy do I regret it now. I love summer vacation but I will be giving it up soon to find a job that doesn't suck the life out of me every day. What a disaster these idiots have created , I am so sad and so angry that it has come to this.

Anonymous said...

The constant stress and abusive working conditions are sucking the life out of teachers. The paperwork is completely out of control. The union should have handled the reformers differently (like speaking up and defending our hard work everyday). The coming teacher shortage is not a surprise whatsoever. Thanks Chaz for writing a good article on this topic.

Bronx ATR said...

I just spent a year in schools watching 25 year olds read out of books for entire periods. I sent out 15 resumes via the open market and didn't get one interview. Did I mention I've been teaching 24 years (I wouldn't count the last one), have 2 masters, numerous awards, never U rated or brought up on charges? Why isn't the media and our union screaming about this? Not for us, but for the students. This is a big reason why our schools are continuing to fail. I will not quit or retire.

Anonymous said...

As educators, my wife and I have made it our mission to dissuade both of our children from ever remotely considering a career in education. The simple reason being that as bad as the climate that exists for educators is right now, God only knows what the future has in store for future educators. All of the factions that Chaz mentions in his piece have declared all out war on the teacher, and have raised the level of scapegoating to a sad and despicable extreme. My wife and I have our fingers crossed that we can escape to our retirement, and leave this nightmare behind. It is sad that the careers we have worked so hard at, and take pride in, has left us counting the days, months, and years until we hand in our papers. What's even sadder is that we could never in good conscience ever promote and encourage the idea of our beloved children going into this career, for fear of heartache they would encounter in the face of what some very evil people are trying to do public education and it's dedicated professionals.

Anonymous said...

The only three safe positions in the NYC DOE is that of a social worker, psychologist or guidance counselor. Those are safe, low stress positions that still afford all the perks like summers off while earning a good living.

I have 2 cousins about to enter college who wanted to major in ed to become teachers. I persuaded both of them to avoid becoming classroom teachers, and instead focus on an "out of classroom" position such as the 3 mentioned above.

Yes, those three jobs can be difficult and stressful at times, but they will NEVER compare to the DANGERS of being a classroom teacher.

Anonymous said...

I'm 12 years into teaching and have no idea what to expect. Excuse my french, but am I screwed?It's so hard to stay motivated in a profession that is being gutted in front of our eyes.Is there a chance this can change for the better anytime soon?If not,might be time to jump ship!

Anonymous said...

What school do you work in? I am trying to transfer by open market. Any help is appreciated!