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Sat Aug 29, 2015, 01:32 AM

‘The Teacher Shortage’ Is No Accident—It’s the Result of Corporate Education Reform Policies

http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/18344/the_teacher_shortage_isnt_an_accidentits_the_result_of_corporate_education

“It’s a sad, alarming state of affairs, and it proves that for all our lip service about improving the education of America’s children, we’ve failed to make teaching the draw that it should be, the honor that it must be,” mused Times columnist Frank Bruni.

That Bruni would bemoan such a state of affairs is ironic, as he has used his column over the years to repeatedly argue that teaching is too easy a profession to enter and too easy to keep, and amplified the voice of reformers who want to want to make the profession more precarious. But the reality is that speaking of a “shortage” at all is a kind of ideological dodge; the word calls to mind some accident of nature or the market, when what is actually happening is the logical (if not necessarily intended) result of education reform policies.

“This is an old narrative, the idea that we aren’t producing enough teachers,” says Richard Ingersoll, an educational sociologist at University of Pennsylvania who has written extensively on the subject of teacher shortages. “As soon as you disaggregate the data, you find out claims of shortage are always overgeneralized and exaggerated. It’s always been a minority of schools, and the real factor is turnover in hard to staff schools. It may be true enrollment went down in these programs nationally, but there are so many former teachers in the reserve pool.” In other words, the problem isn’t that too few people entering the profession, but rather that too many are leaving it.

Such high turnover rates are disruptive to school culture and tend to concentrate the least experienced teachers in the poorest school districts. A 2014 paper by Ingersoll and his colleagues shows “45 percent of public school teacher turnover took place in just one quarter of the population of public schools. The data show that high-poverty, high-minority, urban and rural public schools have among the highest rates of turnover.”

“If you look at the shortage areas in terms of subject or what districts are having trouble filling jobs, it’s a shortage of people who are willing to teach for the salary and in the working conditions in certain school districts,” says Lois Weiner, an education professor at New Jersey City University and author of The Future of Our Schools. “It’s not a shortage in every district. Look at the whitest, wealthiest districts in every state and call up the personnel department, ask if they have a shortage in special ed or bilingual ed. They don’t—in fact, they are turning candidates away.”

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Reply ‘The Teacher Shortage’ Is No Accident—It’s the Result of Corporate Education Reform Policies (Original post)
eridani Aug 2015 OP
bluestateguy Aug 2015 #1
murielm99 Aug 2015 #2
Igel Aug 2015 #4
Salviati Oct 2015 #7
Scuba Aug 2015 #3
Demeter Aug 2015 #5
phantom power Aug 2015 #6

Response to eridani (Original post)

Sat Aug 29, 2015, 02:02 AM

1. A teacher shortage is a good thing, if you take the long view

That will force states and school districts to raise teacher pay and benefits. The demand for teachers is obviously there: kids must attend school.

In any other profession if there is a shortage of personnel, but a high demand, then salaries and benefits will rise accordingly.

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Response to bluestateguy (Reply #1)

Sat Aug 29, 2015, 03:50 AM

2. They don't want to pay them.

Many of the schools districts around me are not hiring math and science teachers. They complain that those teachers are going to districts that can afford to pay more. Imagine that!

They often hire retired teachers. They use two part-time retired teachers to cover one position. If they would pay, they would not have the problem. I don't think the salaries and benefits will rise as long as cheapskates sit on many school boards, and their overriding goal is to keep their taxes low.

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Response to bluestateguy (Reply #1)

Sat Aug 29, 2015, 09:21 AM

4. Yet some focus only on $.

I know a lot of teachers leaving the field.

A few have left over $. Some would stay for more money--another $3-6k per year, perhaps more.

They were okay with their pay 2, 3, 4 years ago. What's changed are the working conditions.

Rural schools have always had problems with teacher retention. Living in the boonies can be inconvenient. You don't fit in, you can't keep your lifestyle. Things can just be different.

But urban/suburban is an easy enough commute. Live where you want.

Yet urban and suburban schools have different retention rates.

All three categories of schools have the same rating system. Same standardized tests. Same standards to teach to. So that's not it, at least not in Texas.

What's left are the conditions in the schools. The working conditions in my school changed in the last 18 months. Our pay increase was above average. We lost 20% of our teachers at the end of last year. I personally know another 2-3%, just in my little bit of the school, who are looking elsewhere. And another 5% or so who would have left but wanted to wait another year before retirement or to serve out some multiyear commitment.

We have classrooms going into week 2 on Monday that have no teachers. They have substitutes.

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Response to bluestateguy (Reply #1)

Sun Oct 4, 2015, 07:33 PM

7. They won't raise teacher pay and benifits...

They will just streamline the teacher certification process, perhaps offer loan forgiveness to new teachers. Increase the throughput without worrying about retention.

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Response to eridani (Original post)

Sat Aug 29, 2015, 08:24 AM

3. Exhibit A: Wisconsin.

 

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Response to eridani (Original post)

Sat Aug 29, 2015, 10:01 AM

5. There is no good reason to work as a teacher for a govt. agency

 

Neither the pay nor the working conditions are bearable, and there is no social status.

Teaching has been reduced to the level of babysitting and the unions are paper tigers at best.

When (if) society's attitudes change (and I don't see that happening in my lifetime, what remains of it), teaching may again become a profession worthy of the name. but the teaching "industry" has been going downhill since the 60's, when I got on board in kindergarten, and it's been a steady, accelerating decline.

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Response to eridani (Original post)

Sat Aug 29, 2015, 12:48 PM

6. very much like the "STEM shortage"

"We have a shortage of people willing to do STEM work for 3rd-world wages."

Astonishing.

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