Monday, October 24, 2016

Vicious Cycle of Teacher Recruitment

When I started teaching, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, NYC would hire anyone. I'm sure of this, because they hired me. I hadn't ever taught in my life, and I hadn't even taken an education course. But I had a college degree, I majored in English, and I passed a basic writing test over at Court Street. That was good enough for them to give me a job and pay me something like 14K per annum.

Years later, I watched Rudy Giuliani explain on TV that he didn't want to give teachers a raise because a lot of them "stink." He didn't cite any stats or figures, but in his mind, such as it was, that was good enough. Then we had Michael Bloomberg, who degraded us on a regular basis and sought to make us at will employees. After that, of course, came the new evaluation system. I can't think of a single working teacher (excepting the shills at E4E) who supports it.

Every day teachers wonder if there's gonna be a drive-by. Will the Boy Wonder come in with his little iPad and make up things that never happened? Will he tell you face to face the lesson was wonderful and then trash you in the actual evaluation? Worse, will he walk in while you're having a bad day? Will he make it a point to observe you on a half day when only eight students are present? This is what teachers walk around thinking about. I go on Facebook and read teachers say they will pay for the education of their children unless they pursue careers in education.

So, fewer people want to go into teaching. There appears to be a shortage in NY State. Perhaps we ought not to continue draconian "gotcha" plans to rate teachers, you conclude. Maybe Cuomo is coming to his senses. Well, you conclude wrong. Sure, there is some sort of temporary moratorium on rating teachers by VAM junk science. But it only applies to certain 3-8 teachers. We high school teachers are rated by the same nonsense we've suffered through for years.

Here's what NY Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia has decided--she'll let teachers from out of state teach our children without meeting certification requirements. OK, now I'm not saying that meeting the requirements makes anyone a good teacher. Still, it's hard to see how failing to meet them makes anyone a good teacher either. It's certainly unfair that those of us who live here and know the area are held to a higher bar than those who don't.

But what's the inevitable outcome of a policy like this? Well, for one, it may keep them from having to  raise compensation to attract people. That's bad for those of us who have to work for a living, and despite the inane chatter about putting "students first," it doesn't benefit our kids to have lower-paying jobs either.

Another issue, though, is probably further opportunity to blame teachers for education failures. What if teachers from Utah are ill equipped to deal with kids from New York? Inevitably, this will lead to tinhorn politicians to keep up the chants about how public school teachers suck, how union sucks, and how taxes suck and therefore teachers shouldn't be paid. Then, instead of making the field more competitive, they can lower standards even further and hire people even less equipped to do the job.

Then the op-eds can cry for more charters, more TFA, and more McTeachers who get thrown in the trash after a single use. It's ridiculous.

We need a reasonable standard for teachers, reasonable working conditions for teachers, and reasonable compensation for teachers. If the reformies don't wish to be reasonable, this shell game will go on forever. That's no way to place children first, and in fact it's no way to treat them at all.
blog comments powered by Disqus