Schoolteachers of America: ‘Your homework is due’

What would we do if there were not enough engineers, we needed to attract more people into engineering AND we felt that too many of the engineers we had were not “highly qualified” to be engineers? Well according to Linda Chavez of the Dallas News we would raise the standards for people trying to enter engineering programs, test them more before allowing them into the program and that would take care of the problem of providing more “highly qualified” engineers. Does this make sense to you? I mean if you are short engineers and students taking engineering, and you get pickier about whom you take into the program that will solve the problem of not having enough good engineers?

In reality Ms. Chavez says in her article, Schoolteachers of America: Your Homework is Due, that we need to test teachers more and that will solve the problem of obtaining “highly qualified” candidates for teacher programs. She bemoans the teacher certification programs in most states:

“It shouldn’t be a surprise that teachers aren’t measuring up. Teacher certification in most states has been a joke for years. In the District of Columbia, for example, teachers can be certified by scoring barely above the 20th percentile on the Praxis test, an exam used by 29 states to test who is fit to teach. The other states aren’t much better, granting certification to teachers so long as they score above the bottom third of all test takers.”

She doesn’t seem to get it that maybe when working conditions are abysmal and pay is poor you can’t set very high standards for employment.

Beyond that, using my engineering student analogy, won’t you just end up with even fewer engineering students (although better candidates) when you really need MORE “highly qualified” applicants? Let me think … in the REAL WORLD how do they usually increase the number of people willing to apply to a program and go into a specific field when there is a shortage? …. Test them more and get pickier about who you take? …  No, you’ll end up with FEWER applicants not more, … um … increase salaries and benefits and scholarships in that area? Yes, that’s it! They throw money at it. They whet peoples’ appetite and get their attention by making their salaries and benefits much more competitive and that attracts more applicants to pick from and then you have a much better chance of getting those “highly qualified” teachers Ms. Chavez is looking for.

We seem to be able to afford $400,000,000 bonuses to retiring CEO’s that were already paid more than $30,000,000 dollars a year. This would be chickenfeed by comparison. I know … I know … I’m being silly. We only TALK about investing in education and using common sense to attract people into the field, it’s not something we really do.

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2 Responses to Schoolteachers of America: ‘Your homework is due’

  1. Doug Noon says:

    In our case, they raise the bar so we can go around picking up bars that keep getting knocked down. On second thought, they don’t really raise any bars, they use slogans about jumping over them to make people think bars have something to do with teaching.

  2. Liz says:

    Sorry, this is a bit of a topic hijack, but I thought you’d like to be included in the conversation:

    Help Us Save 122 Middle School Students

    Three years ago today, I was named National Teacher of the Year. As I reflect on that day and what it meant for me to represent the teachers of America for a year, it all seems like a fantastic dream. The sense of pride I felt for the teaching profession was overwhelming.

    Brighton kids care about each other and what a wonderful example they are to us as adults. I just wish the adults making decisions about their futures cared as much.

    In previous blogs, I have been very outspoken about the needs of our middle school students. This past week in reviewing mid-nine weeks progress reports, it was discovered that 30 out of the 42 students in eight grade are failing English for this last nine weeks of school. My heart breaks for our students, as I know we have failed them. I look in the faces of our kindergarten students who have made so much progress this year and know we have very little to offer them for the future. Unless things change, one day they will be eighth graders in a school that is not equipped to prepare them for high school.

    I’ve mentioned in past blogs that because of our campus set-up and our district staffing and resourcing rules, being a K-8 school puts us at a serious disadvantage as we try to improve. This past week it was announced to my principal that our school would remain K-8, even if we are given a new building in the future. When she first told me this news I wanted to wave a white flag and say, “I am defeated, I am done, I have lost all hope.” However, I cannot look in the faces of the Brighton children and give up. In the next breath, I asked my principal if I could move to our middle school building next year.

    Middle school is not my area of experience or expertise, so I need responses from any of you who are middle school experts. Where do you start to create a school for 122 students in grades 6-8, many of whom have poor reading skills and weak foundations in math?

    This is what we have to offer:

    • Student teacher ratio of 1-10,
    • Good reading resources,
    • A computer lab
    • Outstanding art and music programs
    • Girls and boys basketball

    This is what we do not have:

    • Honors classes
    • School clubs
    • Extracurricular activities
    • Sufficient staffing

    My question is, how do you get them ready for high school?

    I would so appreciate any and all responses to help these students. I know there are some in my district who wish I would quit talking about this situation at Brighton. After all, in the second largest school system in the state, 122 kids in one small school do not deserve this much attention, so I am told.

    However, I cannot remain silent on this issue. The only hope for these students lies in the time they spend at school. They deserve our best effort. We cannot continue to fail them.

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