Many teachers raised concerns about age discrimination relating to the current teacher shortage after a recent post. I gathered what I had learned and I have added additional information. I also provide links at the bottom to other important articles about this topic.
It is important to state that older teachers want to encourage young people to go into teaching as a long-term career. Children and teens need teachers of all ages leading their classrooms.
But there is no doubt a serious effort underway to make teaching into a short term service job—one could liken it to young people who join the Peace Corps.
Teaching should be a profession, and long-term experience valued. It should not be seen as a stepping-stone to build one’s career and enter another profession.
Here is a list of condensed comments concerns and also added information I found on this topic.
- NOLA Firings. After Katrina, not only were older teachers pushed out of New Orleans, but many were African American, teachers who understood the difficulties facing the children living there. Consider too, those teachers had their lives uprooted by the disaster. They will never get back the ten years of their careers where they could have made a meaningful difference in their students’ lives. HERE.
- Best and Brightest? In Florida they are considering $10,000 bonuses to new teachers who have high SAT/ACT scores from high school. The name “Best and Brightest” discriminates in and of itself. There is no proof high ACT or SAT scores mean a teacher will be better. HERE.
- The Term “Veteran Teachers.” Some expressed concern that overusing the term veteran teachers is meant to discriminate.
- Tenure is Under Attack. With tenure comes the freedom for a teacher to speak out against harmful policies that are not in the best interest of children. Tenure is under attack.
- Age Discrimination is Illegal. Many wonder how older teachers can be discriminated against so boldly when age discrimination is illegal.
- Inability to Advance into School Administration. Teachers used to be able to move into school administration. This is now often prevented due to corporate programs that recruit non-educators. Examples are New Leaders and the Broad Superintendents Academy. Now many school administrators have never worked with students or studied how they learn.
- Teacher Shortage? Many connect the current teacher shortage to the loss or firing of older teachers and the transitory nature of young teachers who don’t see teaching as their real career.
- Cannot Change Schools Within School District. Older teachers are not always able to move to other teaching positions in their school district.
- Can’t Get Hired After a Move. Sometimes teachers can’t get hired after moving to another city. If you leave your job, you might be leaving it for good!
- Young, Inexperienced Administrators. Many teachers noted their concern about having young, inexperienced administrators in charge of their teaching and their career futures.
- African-American Teachers. One serious issue is the loss of African-American teachers especially in urban centers where there is a high number of African-American students. This is aside from the loss of older African American teachers in New Orleans.
- Disparaging Comments. There was mention of a few school leaders who made disparaging comments about teacher age to teachers in front of others.
- Everyone Grows Older. Younger career teachers expressed concern about their future. They recognize someday they will be older too.
- NCLB & RTTT Effect. Older teachers wonder if younger teachers understand the kind of schools we had before NCLB and RTTT. They weren’t perfect, but they were different.
- Teachers’ Unions. As far as the teachers’ unions, there were teachers who supported their unions and teachers who expressed disappointment that unions did not speak out more on the issue of age discrimination.
- Lack of Professional Freedom. Many teachers exhibit frustration due to the lack of freedom to teach. They question the standards and scripted programs imposed on their classes.
- Teacher Regret. Teachers might regret needing to work, when they see that what they are being told to do is not in the best interest of their students.
Here are a few positives to leave you with:
- Some Older Teachers Still Teach! There were some older teachers still teaching and doing what they love! And some of those teachers said they intended on sticking with it as long as they could.
- Younger & Older. In a few places, older teachers were working closely and congenially with young teachers. Most saw the beauty of older and younger teachers supporting one another. Older teachers can be great mentors to younger teachers, and younger teachers can provide fresh ideas and new approaches.
- NOLA Lawsuit. Teachers arbitrarily fired after Katrina filed a lawsuit and won! It has taken ten years but at least the truth about what happened there is coming to light.
Here are some interesting articles that have to do with the teacher shortage and teacher age discrimination. I may add more as time goes on.
An especially good read is a chapter presented from Vanessa Rodriguez’s book The Teaching Brain titled: “Great Teachers Are Not Built Overnight.” You can read it HERE.
Diane Ravitch mentioned my previous post about teacher age discrimination. I found the comments interesting. HERE.
“‘The Teacher Shortage’ Is No Accident–It’s the Result of Corporate Education Reform Policies.” by Kevin Prosin. HERE.
Paul Chavez says
Every wise and successful culture and civilization through the history of mankind has always respected and highly valued the wisdom and experience of the elders! This seems to have been lost on my school’s administration (Denver Public Schools) and the so called “education reformers” in general! They prefer youthful, obedient, enthusiastic, idealistic (naïve) employees that can be bullied, manipulated and placed above experienced workers/teachers to create a resentful and hostile work atmosphere! This business model preferred by the reformsters is designed to have teachers leave within five years, therefore never obtaining tenure/protection, never become vested in the pension and never working their way up on the pay scale. This is all by evil, greedy design! Who gets hurt: the experienced teachers who are pushed out early, the youthful teachers that are not given a real chance to learn from the master veteran teachers, the communities who never have a stable workforce of teachers in their neighborhood schools and most of all the students!
I, as a very rare early elementary, special education, male, Latino, mature (58 years old) teacher, in a school district of approximately 60-65% Latino student population, am likely to be pushed out at the end of this school year, due to a Developing (non-Effective) rating very likely at the end of this year. After 16 years of faithful service for my beloved students, I see the writing on the wall! We live in a sick country, in a sick time!!!
Nancy Bailey says
Thank you, Paul. I am sorry and I hope you can avoid being pushed out. I keep hearing about the 5 year maximum and it is ludicrous!. I think many teachers are beginning to get secure footing at that point. The business model does not work well in education because we are not dealing with products but living breathing children! Take care and stay in touch.
in North Carolina: skewing of pay scale to favor younger teachers such that once teacher attains 25 years NO more raises.
Nancy Bailey says
Thanks, Doug. I think NC is a reflection of what goes wrong when corporations take over. Schools were doing well there and bringing folks together. The state should have been a model. Instead it was broken apart, and now it’s a mess with the teachers bearing the brunt of draconian reform.. Very sad indeed.