Those in charge of public schools and politicians are hypocrites when it comes to the rhetoric surrounding a teacher shortage!
School districts around the country are describing hundreds of classrooms they can’t seem to fill with qualified teachers. This has been a manipulated ploy to get rid of veteran teachers and employ alternative, revolving door unqualified teachers who will settle for smaller salaries.
For example, in Orlando they are crying that they are short 300 teachers. It is a similar story in the rest of the state. Yet, Orlando signed on to Teach for America in 2015, instead of trying to address the problem of teacher retention.
The State of Florida began courting TFA in 2010. They were not alone, following the lead of the U.S. Department of Education which chipped in with a competitive $50 million grant. This was part of a larger piece of the privatization pie.
From the New York Times:
The $650 million was given out in awards of three levels. The four largest awards of nearly $50 million each went to groups proposing to greatly expand programs, like Teach for America and the KIPP charters, that the department viewed has having been proved successful.
It isn’t like school administrators and politicians don’t know they have a problem retaining teachers in Florida or around the rest of the country. The State treats teachers poorly and everyone knows it. They have just willfully decided not to invest in public schools and public school teachers.
If school districts really wanted to attract well-prepared, credentialed teachers, they would make teaching appealing and elevate the status of teachers and teaching professionalism. Does anyone see that happening? No.
They would also try to keep older teachers in the classroom. The love of teaching doesn’t leave you at age 29!
I have consolidated several posts from the past to describe what drives good teachers to leave the classroom. Feel free to add to this list if so desired.
- Lack of control. Teachers are told what and how to teach without being given input. Many schools have signed on to draconian reforms in structured teaching that ignores the needs of the developing student.
- High-Stakes Testing. Teachers understand that high-stakes testing is bad for children. They don’t want to be a part of it. They also don’t want their teaching judged by it.
- A Limited Curriculum. The curriculum is too narrow. Many teachers (e.g. art and music) have not been hired for years.
- Large class sizes. The research is clear that lowering class size especially in k-3rd grade helps students. So why aren’t they working harder to do this?
- Non-supportive school administrators. This could be the school principal or school district administrators who look down on teachers and do as they are told by the outside corporate school reformers. Many of these individuals aren’t even educators!
- The loss of a good library. Many schools no longer have libraries, and if they do, they are often inadequate. Here is a map showing the loss of school libraries in this country. Yet, we know that good school libraries improve test scores and help children thrive.
- The loss of support staff. Many school counselors are now relegated to mundane tasks having to do with testing and data collection instead of helping troubled students. A good school relies on a variety of support staff—school psychologists, librarians/media specialists, nurses, school counselors and more.
- Data Collection. Teachers who care about teaching find micromanaging useless school data on a child maddening.
- Common Core State Standards (CCSS). These un-scientific standards were foisted on all teachers and students removing a teacher’s decision-making power. Many teachers distrust CCSS. The Common Core State Standards are such a volatile issue, it was reported yesterday, that WikiLeaks caught the DNC warning they should not be mentioned in the campaign–calling CCSS a “political third rail.” (A third rail is the electrified rail on a subway). HERE. Donald Trump also seems to be dropping the discussion of Common Core.
- Standards in general. The high emphasis on standards started with No Child Left Behind, even earlier, and has done nothing to improve schools.
- Lousy school conditions and poor teaching resources.
- Lacking respect. All of the above lead to a pervasive disrespect of teachers that lacks professionalism.
- Disregard for poverty and a child’s difficulties outside of school. Teachers are caring individuals. They recognize problematic outside circumstances that affect how students learn.
- Lacking special education and ELL support for general education teachers.
- Professional development that is uninspiring.
- An Overemphasis on digital instruction. Teachers are slowly being replaced by competency-based, personalized, individualized–online instruction.
School administrators and politicians know what would keep teachers in the classroom.
They could also work with universities to market an increase in teacher recruitment to quality teacher preparation (not fast-track unproven online programs) that include teachers of color and cultural diversity.
Instead, they are bemoaning the loss of teachers while simultaneously signing on to programs like Teach for America.
That’s why I see the teacher shortage as manufactured.
Or, the older one. HERE.