Friday, January 27, 2017
The DOE Sees Nothing Wrong With Large Class Sizes And Fair Student Funding.
This week the NYC Council's Education Committee held hearings on teacher recruitment and retention at City Hall. Appearing for the DOE was Amy Way at the DOE's Office of Teacher Recruitment and Quality and Anna Commitante, Senior Executive Director of the Office of Curriculum. Both DOE Bureaucrats faithfully echoed Chancellor Carmen Farina's famous statements that "80 hours of rigorous professional development weekly" and "high-quality curricula" is the best strategy to attract and retain teachers. Of course, most school-based professional development has been a colossal waste of time and the disconnect between the graduation rate and the "college and career readiness" rates show that students are graduating unprepared for college or the job market.
When asked by committee members what other strategies the DOE was implementing to stop high teacher turnover, especially in the high poverty schools, the DOE response was to push for "professional learning communities". A non-starter to the committee members. At no point did either DOE official mention lower class sizes despite the many studies that show that lower class sizes stems he flight of teachers from schools. In fact, when asked about any policy to lower class sizes, the two DOE officials simply did not respond.
Another committee member wanted to know how can the DOE expect academic improvement at Renewal schools when classes have 30 or more students and cannot attract veteran teachers to mentor the largely inexperienced teaching staff? The best line was if you child was sick, would you take him or her to a Renewal Hospital to be treated? The DOE response was silence.
The chairman of the Education Committee Danny Dromm, a former middle school teacher, correctly pointed out that lower class sizes and clear student discipline rules that are strictly enforced are needed to keep teachers from fleeing the NYC classroom. However, the DOE seems to ignore these proven strategies and their failure to listen and respond to teacher complaints is the primary factor of teacher dissatisfaction and the cause for the teacher retention problem.
For Mr Dromm, the most disturbing DOE response was about "Fair Student Funding" and how it hurts the schools. He even suggested that the City Council may pass a resolution to eliminate the Fair Student Funding from school budgets. Mr. Dromm stated that the Fair Student Funding incentives principals to hire inexpensive "newbie" teachers while trying to offload veterans from their budget. The DOE response, was that they see no problem with the school-based Fair Student Funding.
A more through analysis of the hearing can be found at the New York City Public School Parents blog.