"The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves." -- John Adams

"No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution." -- Indiana Constitution Article 1, Section 6.

"...no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish enlarge, or affect their civil capacities." – Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, October 31, 2019

2019 Medley #21

Retention-in-grade, Low Test Scores,
Reading wars, Charters and Choice,
Mississippi Strategy,
Vouchers and Discrimination, Poisoning Children

RETENTION HURTS CHILDREN

The Haunted Third Grade Classrooms Children Fear: Enter and… Stay Forever!

It's time again for another article dealing with retention...complete with references.

In-grade retention doesn't work. More often than not it harms students psychologically and emotionally, increases the chances of students dropping out, and doesn't improve achievement. Yet we continue to do it in order to appease the gods of "test and punish."

I've also collected dozens of articles, research articles, blog posts, and position papers on retention-in-grade, the vast majority of which document the damage done by this outdated and abusive practice.
Students who have academic struggles, but who move on, do better in the long run. Students who are retained might seem to do better at first, but they drop back to having difficulties later. Many students who are retained go on to drop out of school.


THE MYTH OF AMERICA'S FAILING SCHOOLS - LOW TEST SCORES

While I Wasn’t Paying Attention……

In a long, rambling blog post, John Merrow touches on a variety of topics. I disagree with one area he discussed in which he talks about how American students score poorly on the PISA test. Our students don't "underperform their peers in most other countries". We have a higher rate of child poverty, which lowers our average.

As I wrote in March of 2017,
American public schools accept everyone and test everyone. Not all countries do that. We don't weed out our poor and low-achieving students as they get older, so everyone gets tested...

The fact is that students who come from backgrounds of poverty don't achieve as well as students from wealthier backgrounds. And we, in the U.S. are (nearly) Number One in child poverty...

Children from American schools where less than 25% of the students qualify for free- and reduced-price lunch, score high on the PISA test. In fact, they would rank first in reading and science and third in math among OECD nations.

On the other hand, American students from schools where more than 75% of the students qualify for free- and reduced-price lunch, score much lower. Because the U.S. has a much higher percentage of students in poverty than nearly all the other OECD nations, the overall U.S. average score is below the median.
Other topics covered by Merrow are...
  • How do you teach appropriate behaviors when the current President role models bullying and vulgarity?
  • the Secretary of Education's assault on public education
  • What should we measure in our schools? We approach measurement the wrong way.
  • the value of play in education
  • the cost of testing
  • the poor quality of our standardized tests and our undemanding curriculum
A sampling...
A social studies teacher right now is a modern-day Hamlet. Should he or she embrace the chaos and encourage students to debate the morality of the flood of demonstrable lies coming from the Oval Office on a daily basis, knowing that doing so is guaranteed to incur the wrath of some parents, and perhaps some administrators as well? Or should the teacher studiously avoid controversy, knowing full well that doing that sends a powerful value-laden message? To teach, or not to teach, that is the question…..

Or suppose you were an elementary school teacher trying to model appropriate behavior for your impressionable students. How do you respond when one of your kids asks you why the President said Joe Biden was kissing Barack Obama’s ass? Or why Trump can say ‘bullshit’ but kids get punished for swearing?

...We have to learn to Measure What We Value, instead of simply Valuing What We Measure.

...Ironically, the PISA results revealed that American kids score high in ‘confidence in mathematical ability,’ despite underperforming their peers in most other countries...


NRP AND THE READING WARS

Problematic “Scientific Based” Phonics: The Flawed National Reading Panel

The "reading wars" have heated up again and the report of the National Reading Panel (NRP) is being hauled out as proof that we need to dump current methods of teaching reading (balanced literacy) and teach "systematic phonics." However, the NRP didn't actually find that "systematic phonics" worked better than other methods of teaching reading.
Metcalf mentions educational researchers who raised questions concerning the National Reading Panel.

Elaine Garan an education professor and author was one.
She believes there are wide discrepancies between what was reported to the public and what the panel actually found. Most blatantly, the summary proclaimed that “systematic phonics instruction produces significant benefits for students in kindergarten through sixth grade,” while the report itself said, “There were insufficient data to draw any conclusions about the effects of phonics instruction with normally developing readers above first grade.” [emphasis added]


CHARTER SCHOOLS AND CHOICE

Charter Schools Cherry Pick Students & Call it Choice – PART 1: The “I Didn’t Do It!” Excuse

Charter Schools Cherry Pick Students & Call it Choice – PART 2: The “EVERYONE’S DOING IT!” Excuse

An excellent summary of the problem with charter schools in two blog posts by Steven Singer.
It takes a certain kind of hypocrite to be a charter school champion.

You have to deny any wrongdoing one minute. And then admit you’re guilty but explain it away with the excuse “Everyone’s doing it!” the next.

Take cherry picking – one of the most common admonishments leveled against the school privatization industry.

Detractors claim that charter schools keep enrollment low and then out of those who apply, they pick and choose which students to accept.

Charters are run by private enterprise but funded with public tax dollars. So they are supposed to accept all comers just like the authentic public schools in the same neighborhoods.

But charter schools don’t have to follow the same rules as authentic public schools. They pretty much just have to abide by whatever was agreed upon in their charter contracts. Even then states rarely check up on them to make sure they’re in compliance.

So critics say many of these institutions are circumventing enrollment procedures. They’re welcoming the easiest kids to teach and dissuading others from enrolling – even to the extent of kicking out hard to teach children or pretending that an “unbiased” selection process just so happened to pick only the most motivated students.


WORKERS OR EDUCATED CITIZENS?

Indiana’s “Mississippi Strategy” for Education Will Bear Bitter Fruit

Should we raise and educate our children to supply the economy with workers (the Mississippi strategy) or should we teach our children to be educated citizens? Our goal should be towards citizens who think, rather than workers for a corporate state. In The demon-haunted world: science as a candle in the dark, Carl Sagan wrote,
If we can't think for ourselves, if we're unwilling to question authority, then we're just putty in the hands of those in power. But if the citizens are educated and form their own opinions, then those in power work for us. In every country, we should be teaching our children the scientific method and the reasons for a Bill of Rights. With it comes a certain decency, humility and community spirit. In the demon-haunted world that we inhabit by virtue of being human, this may be all that stands between us and the enveloping darkness.
In this post, Doug Masson agrees...
I think there is a fundamental difference between policymakers with respect to whether they see people as liabilities or assets. When we see people as liabilities, then the goal of government is to spend as few resources on them as possible, getting them from cradle to grave with as little fuss as possible. When we see people as assets, then the goal of government is to maximize their potential as efficiently as possible, knowing that the return on that investment will exceed the expenditure as the children become productive, well-rounded citizens contributing to the community. The Mississippi Strategy takes the former approach.


FREE EXERCISE VS. ESTABLISHMENT

Vouchers And Federally-Supported Discrimination

The free exercise clause of the First Amendment gives religious groups the right to hire and fire at will even if they choose to discriminate based on their religious beliefs. However, when the religious group takes government money, then they ought to follow the secular laws of the nation as required by the establishment clause.
...in Indianapolis, as in many areas around the country, the Catholic school system is now funded in part by school vouchers, a system of using public tax dollars for tuition to private schools. Indiana has been aggressive in pursuing school choice policies, particularly under then-Governor Mike Pence, who in his 2013 inaugural address said, “There’s nothing that ails our schools that can’t be fixed by giving parents more choices.” Indiana’s voucher program directs taxpayer dollars primarily to religious schools, and the majority of those are Catholic schools. Cathedral High School participates in both Indiana’s voucher and tax credit scholarship programs.

There was a time when private religious schools might have resisted taking government dollars, even indirectly, for fear of having the government push its rules on the institutions. But now we are seeing that the lever can be pushed in the other direction, and it’s the government that may have to bend to the will of private religious institutions.


POISONING OUR CHILDREN

NC got an ‘F’ for unsafe school drinking water. Activists want the lead out of schools.

North Carolina got an "F" when it comes to protecting its children against lead poisoning.
Environmental activists have launched a new campaign to protect children from drinking lead-contaminated water in schools following a national report that gave North Carolina a failing grade for safe school drinking water.

North Carolina was among 22 states that got an “F” grade for not getting rid of lead from school drinking water, according to Environment America Research & Policy Center and U.S. PIRG Education Fund. This week, Environment North Carolina released a back-to-school toolkit that gives the public information on how to get the lead out of schools.

“There is no safe level of lead for our citizens but especially for our children,” Krista Early, clean water advocate for Environment NC, said at a news conference at Moore Square. “North Carolina does not currently require testing of drinking water in our children’s schools.
Indiana also got an "F".

There is no safe level of lead for children. Lead in the environment damages children...permanently. It lowers their school achievement, causes behavior and growth problems, and can increase criminal behavior.

We're still discussing the damage that lead poisoning does to our children...and we're still blaming the low achievement of lead-damaged children on schools, teachers, and parents through our reliance on test scores and our underfunding of those schools serving children who need the most help.

Are we doing enough to eliminate lead from the environment? Not according to this article. We spend billions on testing, but apparently can't afford to keep our children safe from poisoning. The problem is that most of those who are affected by environmental toxins like lead are poor children of color. Chances are if we had lead poisoning in areas where wealthy white people lived, it would be taken care of immediately.


πŸ“–πŸšŒπŸ“š

Sunday, October 27, 2019

A Message to Leaf-Burners

AUTUMN

Ah...who doesn't love the nostalgic smell of burning leaves in the fall?


Answer: Anyone with lungs!

It's Autumn in Indiana and my wooded neighborhood is filled with fallen leaves. Many of my neighbors are recycling them by mulching them into their lawns or gardens or hiring crews to pick them up. Some others, are piling them up and setting them ablaze, and by doing so filling the air with poisonous toxins and choking ash.

BUT IT'S JUST ONE LITTLE FIRE

What damage can one little fire cause?

It's not just one little fire...it's several since we live in an addition with dozens of houses and likely thousands of leaf-dropping trees. The point is that "multiple fires in one geographic area can cause concentrations of air pollutants that exceed federal air quality standards" – at least until the current EPA decides that the right of citizens to breathe is just not a priority.

And, about those lungs...
Besides being an irritant, leaf smoke contains many hazardous chemicals, including carbon monoxide and benzo (a) pyrene. Carbon monoxide binds with hemoglobin in the bloodstream and thus reduces the amount of oxygen in the blood and lungs. So carbon monoxide can be very dangerous for young children with immature lungs, smokers, the elderly, and people with chronic heart or lung diseases. Benzo (a) pyrene is known to cause cancer in animals and is believed to be a major factor in lung cancer caused by cigarette smoke and coal tar as well as leaf smoke.
Need more?
These toxic fumes can aggravate allergies, trigger asthma attacks, corrode metal siding and paint, and release dioxin that causes cancer. A study from the American Lung Association found that a pound of burning leaves produces significantly more air pollution than a pound of coal burned in a plant.
More air pollution than coal!

Full disclosure: The above paragraphs are about me. Burning leaves make me sick. I have lung issues and, while I hate to use the term elderly when talking about myself, I'm getting up there...assuming I last through the leaf-burning season! It's also about your children and their immature lungs...and your neighborhood children...and your grandchildren...and your grandparents...and your parents. In short, everyone.

KEEP YOUR YOUNG CHILDREN INSIDE

That benzo (a) pyrene stuff is a big deal. It can negatively affect your nervous system, immune system, reproductive system, it messes with your DNA, and it's a carcinogen.

Why would anyone do that to themselves and their families...not to mention the little children who live next door or two houses down...or the old folks on the corner...or everyone else in the neighborhood?

My neighborhood (Google Earth).
Note the dark green...trees.

INSTEAD OF BURNING

If you live in the woods like I do, what do you do with all the leaves?

Some cities (such as Fort Wayne) provide curbside pickup of leaves. Pay attention and make sure you get them to the curb in time for pickup. If you live within the Fort Wayne city limits you've already paid for the service with your taxes...not to mention that there's a city ordinance against burning leaves that will result in a fine.

If you live outside of a city or town, or your municipality doesn't have curbside leaf pickup, you still shouldn't burn your leaves. Instead of setting them on fire, follow the recommendations of Rosie Lerner of the Purdue Extension Service.
You could compost those leaves yourself. Dry leaves alone will break down slowly over time, but you can speed that process by mixing the leaves with green plant materials, such as grass clippings, garden discards and produce scraps. Or you could add a source of nitrogen, such as livestock manure or commercial fertilizer. Mix (turn) the pile occasionally to keep a good supply of air in the compost. A good-sized compost pile should be a minimum of 3 cubic feet. The compost will be ready to use as a soil conditioner in several weeks to several months, depending on size and management techniques.

Shredded leaves also can be used as a mulch around garden and landscape plants. Mulches provide many benefits, including weed suppression, moisture conservation and moderation of soil temperature. Leaves can be applied to dormant plants in winter to prevent young plants from heaving out of the ground. Leaf mulch can help keep soil cooler in summer. No more than a 2- to 3-inch layer of leaves should be used around actively growing plants. Chopping or shredding the leaves first will help prevent them from matting down and preventing air from reaching roots.

Directly applying the leaves to a garden or unused area of soil is another option. Try to spread the leaves over as large an area as possible, then till or plow them under. Chopping or shredding the leaves first will help them to break down faster.

My personal favorite option is to simply shred the leaves through my lawn mower until the pieces are small enough to just leave them right there on the lawn! Dry leaves are much easier to handle through the mower than moist ones. If possible, remove the bagger so all of the leaves are deposited right back onto the lawn as they shred.

Click this image for information on how to use leaves in your garden.

My lungs thank you.

This post was first published on November 2, 2017. Some links have been added/edited/corrected.

πŸ‚πŸπŸ‚

Friday, October 18, 2019

Stop the Misuse of Tests

Chalkbeat, whose sponsors include such pro-privatization groups as the Gates Family Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation, ran this piece about Indiana's ILEARN test was.

Schools were quick to downplay ILEARN results, but experts stand by the test. Here’s why.
While school leaders and lawmakers were quick to reason away concerns over shockingly low ILEARN scores, some testing experts and state education leaders are standing by Indiana’s new exam.

Calls to shield schools and teachers from any negative consequences of the low ILEARN scores were swift, after it was revealed that only one-third of students in grades 3-8 passed both the math and English portions of the exam. But when detangled from the question of accountability, experts say the results provide a valid measure of what students know.

Low 2019 scores weren’t a sign of a faulty exam, said Ed Roeber, Michigan’s former testing director and a consultant on Indiana’s technical advisory committee for assessments, said. Rather, Roeber said, it’s a reflection of “what instruction is or is not taking place in our schools.”

“I’m not discouraged by low performance,” he said. “I think it could be a real rallying cry for Indiana schools to evaluate what they are teaching and what students are learning.”


The experts said that the test was "a valid measure of what students know." If experts said that, they were not using precise language and were promoting invalid uses of tests. Actual tests and measurements experts ought to know better.

VALIDITY: WHETHER OR NOT A TEST MEASURES WHAT IT CLAIMS TO MEASURE

What might actually be true is that ILEARN was a valid measure of how much of the test content students knew...because that's what a test measures. A test can be a valid and reliable measure of its content, but that's as far as it goes. Student standardized achievement tests don't measure everything students need to learn.

But you say the test covered Indiana's State Standards? Even if it covered all of the standards, that's still not everything children should learn in school.

Tests don't measure what managers want from their employees, such as honesty, enthusiasm, growth, or the ability to work collaboratively in a group. They don't measure creativity or loyalty or perseverance.

In fact, our standardized tests measure only a fraction of what we send our children to school for.

One important reason for not holding schools and teachers responsible for ILEARN is because ILEARN is a student achievement test, not a test of school or teacher effectiveness. Using a student achievement test to measure school or teacher effectiveness is like using a teaspoon to measure temperature. ILEARN wasn't made to measure anything other than a student's knowledge of its content. Using the test for anything else is invalid.


ACHIEVEMENT GAPS
In an op-ed for IndyStar, Brandon Brown, CEO of The Mind Trust, said the results show persistent racial gaps. While 43% of white students statewide passed both portions of ILEARN, 15% of black students did the same.
We know that poverty has an impact on student achievement and test scores. Could the fact that 42% of Indiana's black children live in poor families have anything to do with the "achievement gap?" Maybe we ought to hold legislators and policymakers (looking at you, Governors Daniels, Pence, and Holcomb) accountable for not providing equal education and employment opportunities or sufficient resources for all of the state's public schools.

A VALID USE OF TESTS

The president of the Indiana State Teachers Association said that we ought to use the test as a baseline. We ought to use the test to "plan a course" for our students.
“The results from that should be a baseline,” said Indiana State Teachers Association president Keith Gambill. “It is time now for educators to sit down with the results from that, now knowing how the test operates and how to best plan a course for students moving forward so in years to come the results are a true reflection of the growth of that student.”
That's exactly what standardized tests should be used for...to "plan a course" for students. Standardized tests should be used as instructional guides while keeping in mind that their results are skewed by student poverty and racial bias.

They should not be used to grade or punish communities, school systems, schools, teachers, and students. We ought to stop misusing standardized tests instead of just shielding "schools and teachers from negative consequences."

Until we stop the misuse and overuse of standardized tests we're throwing our tax dollars away. We're wasting student and teacher time better used for something with actual value, like recess, fine arts, and physical education.


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Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Random Numbers

October 16, 2019

POLITICAL
  • Day 1000 of the current U.S. presidential administration. Time to register to vote!

GENERAL WORLDWIDE


EDUCATION IN THE U.S. AND INDIANA

Testing

Privatization

Population
  • 56.6 million - The number of students attending elementary, middle, and high schools across the US.

Poverty
15% (168,028) of white children live in poor families.
42% (69,537) of black children live in poor families.
35% (56,560) of Hispanic children live in poor families.
17% (5,237) of Asian children live in poor families.


Homelessness

Graduation
Overall Poverty rate 20.56%
Overall Poverty rate 11.98%
Overall Poverty rate 14.56%

Lead


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Monday, October 14, 2019

Let the Children Play

Pasi Sahlberg came to the U.S. as a visiting professor at Harvard to help American educators learn how the Finnish school system became the world's best. William Doyle won a Fulbright scholarship to move to Finland to study the Finnish system. Let the Children Play: How more play will save our schools and help children thrive is the result of the collaboration they formed.


THE IMPORTANCE OF PLAY

Let the Children Play begins with a discussion of the research into play and its benefit for children. Groups such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Academy of Sciences, and the Centers for Disease Control agree that play and physical activity are of critical importance to growing children, and are beneficial to their academics, and future skills.

Despite the science, however, play is disappearing from school due to so-called "education reform."
Despite this strong medical and scientific consensus that play is a foundation of children’s lives and education, play is an increasingly endangered experience for many of the world’s children.

Why is play dying in our schools? There are many social and cultural factors, and one major political reason is “GERM,” or the “Global Education Reform Movement,” a term that co-author Pasi Sahlberg has coined to describe an intellectual school reform paradigm that places academic performance as measured by standardized tests before children’s engagement, well-being, and play in schools.
The authors discuss and analyze Finnish schools. What makes them so successful? How can we learn from them? How have they used play to help their children achieve?

FINLAND

The Finnish philosphy of education, which is based on American educational research (see Finnish Lessons, by Pasi Sahlberg), is child-centered, something we in the U.S. have learned, but rarely practice.
In Finland, the main question isn’t “Is the child ready for the school?” but “Is the school ready for every child, and ready to accommodate each child’s differences?”


The child-centered school adapts to the child, not the other way around...and play is important. The seat-work style of American education is rejected. Children aren't required to start formal instruction until they're seven years old, and there are no standardized tests until the end of high school. What assessment there is, is also child-centered. During her visit to Finnish schools, Erika Christakis, author of The Importance of Being Little: What Young Children Really Need From Grownups, said,
I’ve found it impossible to remain unmoved by the example of preschools where the learning environment is assessed, rather than the children in it.
For several years, even without regular standardized tests, Finland led the world in student achievement as measured by the PISA tests. In recent years, however, their rankings have started to slip. Since they understand the limitations of tests, they didn't panic. They didn't start teaching to the test. They didn't label and retain students as "failing." They didn't fire or punish teachers. They didn't close schools or shame them with "F" ratings. Instead, they doubled-down on child-centered education.
In many other countries, politicians and bureaucrats would have pushed the panic button and declared a state of emergency. Common remedies would most likely have included teachers being penalized more for inferior standardized test data, and more academic pressure on children. But Finland didn’t do this. Instead, educators and government officials did something almost unheard of in the world of education reform. They talked to children. They then realized that one of the big overall problems was a lack of student engagement in schools and the fact that children feel their voices are not heard when it comes to their own learning and lives in school.


Throughout it all, there is play. Children in Finland aren't sitting at desks all day listening to their teacher or doing seat-work. Recess has all but disappeared in the United States, but the successful Finns, on the other hand, give their children fifteen minutes of unstructured free play time every hour because...
...learning takes place best when children are engaged and enjoying themselves.
Academic kindergartens and virtual preschools aren't the best way to build academic success for our children. Current research supports previous research. Play is children's work. Children learn through play. Worksheets in preschool and kindergarten, whether they're made of paper or on a computer screen, are inappropriate. Cooking stations, dress-up boxes, and building toys are what we need for our littlest learners. Bring back recess, blocks, and doll buggies. Teach young children through read-aloud, finger play, and singing. Give our youngest children time to play without adult interference.

Older children also benefit from unstructured free time.
In play, children gradually develop concepts of casual relationships, the power to discriminate, to make judgments, to analyze and synthesize, to imagine and to formulate. Children become absorbed in their play, and the satisfaction of bringing it to a satisfactory conclusion fixes habits of concentration which can be transferred to other learning.
OTHER IDEAS

Other good ideas from Let the Children Play...

On preparation for school
The lesson: If you want to get your young child ready for school, read to them—and play with them!
On ed-tech in the classroom


On data
School policy should be “data informed,” not “data driven.”
On standardized tests
...standardized tests alone don’t provide the correct, complete information needed to judge school quality—because they don’t fully account for income, family background, learning history, peer effects, access to proper out-of-school nutrition and intellectual enrichment, emotional life, conditions in the home, and a host of other factors that affect a child’s learning, development, and growth.
FIVE STARS

Let the Children Play: How more play will save our schools and help children thrive is not just for teachers of primary grades. Parents, upper grade teachers, secondary teachers, administrators, and everyone else interested in American education, will benefit from the information it contains.

✭✭✭✭✭
⛹🏻‍♀️🌎🀸🏽‍♂️

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Short on teachers? Import them.

The war on America's teachers has created an opportunity for teachers from other countries to come here on work visas to teach our children.

Desperate to fill teacher shortages, US schools are hiring teachers from overseas
When Joevie Alvarado became a teacher, she never expected to teach American students 7,600 miles away.

But a dire shortage of US teachers means some schools are taking drastic measures -- like hiring teachers from half a world away.
Alverado is from the Philippines...and is teaching in Arizona on a five-year J-1 visa. She makes more money here than back home...

The J-1 Teacher Program was meant to be a cultural exchange, but now it's being used because there aren't enough American teachers to fill all the spots available.


TEACHERS SALARIES: LOWER THAN OTHER COLLEGE GRADS, HIGHER THAN IN SOME OTHER COUNTRIES

The war on American teachers has made the job of teaching less desirable and a job that Americans are turning their backs on. Experienced teachers are leaving. Young people are choosing other careers.

So some states, like Arizona, are importing teachers from other countries.

In the U.S. teachers are paid less than other college graduates. They work long hours, at least as long as those other college graduates, often with little support. But the salaries of American teachers are higher than in other countries, so foreign teachers, hoping to earn more money, are willing to come here to teach our kids for 3-5 years.
"The average starting pay (for teachers) in Arizona is about $36,300."

While that salary may seem paltry for many Americans, Filipino teachers like Noel Que say their jobs in the US are much more lucrative, allowing them to live better.

A Coming Crisis in Teaching? Teacher Supply, Demand, and Shortages in the U.S.

It's a temporary fix, however. The Learning Policy Institute estimates that by 2020 the United States will need about 300,000 new teachers per year. They estimate the 2020 supply of new teachers from teacher training programs to be under 200,000. Meanwhile, between 2009 and 2014 teacher education enrollments dropped by 35%.
Between 2009 and 2014, the most recent years of data available, teacher education enrollments dropped from 691,000 to 451,000, a 35% reduction. This amounts to a decrease of almost 240,000 professionals on their way to the classroom in the year 2014, as compared to 2009.
It's clear that we aren't going to have enough teachers. We can't import hundreds of thousands of teachers each year.


EXODUS, WALKOUT, OR SHORTAGE?

Tim Slekar, Dean Of The School Of Education At Edgewood College in Wisconsin says that there's a teacher exodus, not a shortage.
When we have a shortage, say of nurses, pay goes up, conditions get better and enrollment in nursing programs skyrockets. So if we have a teacher shortage, pay would go up. It's not. Conditions would get better. They're not. And enrollment in teacher education would go up. It's declining. That can't be a shortage then.

When you talk about the fact that nobody wants to do this job, that parents are telling their kids right in front of me in my office that they don't support their child becoming a teacher, this is a real issue that needs to be talked about quite differently and that's why exodus is much better because you have to ask why are they leaving and why aren't they coming.

Peter Greene, a retired high school teacher who blogs at Curmudgucation and Forbes, also denies that we have a teacher shortage. Instead it's a...
...slow motion walkout, an open-ended strike that's hard to see because teachers are walking off the job one at a time.

There are plenty of people who are qualified to fill the positions, plenty of people who could enter a teacher prep program and join the profession if they were so inclined. I'm surprised to see that there's no good count of all the teacher licenses sitting unused, but simple math tells us that it is the number of people who have left, plus the number of people who gave up before they got a job, plus the people who graduated with a certificate but took another job and never came back, plus all the people who just decided not to even start down that path. Undoubtedly some of those people were ill-suited for the classroom and we are better off without them. But that can't be every person whose teacher papers sit gathering dust.

What can we do about the need for teachers besides importing them from other countries? Linda Darling-Hammond and her colleagues at the Learning Policy Institute have some ideas.

First, offer teachers competitive and equitable salary packages. This must include incentives which make working at high-needs districts attractive. As long as teacher evaluations are tied to student achievement, and given the relationship between poverty and student achievement, then fewer teachers will want to teach in high-poverty districts. Giving teachers bonuses for high test scores, like we do in Indiana, isn't helpful.

Second, entice young people to become teachers. High salaries alone won't be enough. Things like housing subsidies, loan forgiveness, and student debt forgiveness will help. One of the most interesting ideas from the Learning Policy Insititute is a Grow Your Own program.
Create career pathways and “Grow Your Own” programs to prepare committed individuals from urban and rural school districts.
Third, improve teacher retention by improving working conditions including administrative support as well as a well maintained physical environment. This means that policymakers and legislatures must fully fund public education...as is required by the state Constitution...and end the drain of public funds to private (parochial) and privately run (charter) schools. We can't afford to fund three school systems.


SYSTEMIC IMPROVEMENT

Public schools need a systemic improvement in order to stem the teacher exodus and improve student learning.

The Chicago Teachers Union discusses this kind of school improvement in it's publication, The Schools Chicago Students Deserve 2.0.
The problem, as shown by decades of educational research, was not the teachers. The problems in education were the result of too-large class sizes, limited curricula, inadequate facilities, not enough support personnel, and lack of adequate funding.

All stakeholders must accept responsibility for school improvement. That includes federal, state, and local policymakers and legislators who control the flow of school resources.

Schools don't exist in a vacuum. Societal problems have an impact on our children, and our children bring those problems with them to school. Schools can't cure all of society's ills alone.


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