"A child's learning is the funtion more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

More Soldiers and Teachers for the Crucible, Please

If I had to design a system that is more of a disincentive for good teachers dedicated to children's welfare in schools where they are needed the most, I would be hard pressed to come up with something more efficient than the failure-inspired NCLB policies we have now.

Not only are ethical teachers shying away from being recruited to guard and force feed children they would prefer to liberate and nourish, but teachers with a choice will not volunteer for duty in schools that are AYP time bombs set to blow up in their faces. There is no clearer domestic analogy to the Decider's adventurous horror in Iraq. Ask any GI or any teacher.

From the NY Times:

. . . .In June, the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, a nonprofit group that seeks to increase the retention of quality teachers, estimated from a survey of several districts that teacher turnover was costing the nation’s districts some $7 billion annually for recruiting, hiring and training.

Demographers agree that education is one of the fields hardest hit by the departure of hundreds of thousands of baby boomers from the work force, particularly because a slowdown in hiring in the 1980s and 1990s raised the average age of the teaching profession. Still, they debate how serious the attrition will turn out to be.

In New York, the wave of such retirements crested in the early years of this decade as teachers left well before they hit their 60s, without a disruptive teacher shortage, Ms. Bernstein said.

In other parts of the country, the retirement bulge is still approaching, because pension policies vary among states, said Michael Podgursky, an economist at the University of Missouri. California is projecting that it will need 100,000 new teachers over the next decade from the retirement of the baby boomers alone.

Some educators say it is the confluence of such retirements with the departure of disillusioned young teachers that is creating the challenge. In addition, higher salaries in the business world and more opportunities for women are drawing away from the field recruits who might in another era have proved to be talented teachers with strong academic backgrounds.

“The problem is not mainly with retirement,” said Thomas G. Carroll, the president of the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future. “Our teacher preparation system can accommodate the retirement rate. The problem is that our schools are like a bucket with holes in the bottom, and we keep pouring in teachers.”

The commission has calculated that these days nearly a third of all new teachers leave the profession after just three years, and that after five years almost half are gone — a higher turnover rate than in the past.

All the coming and going of young teachers is tremendously disruptive, especially to schools in poor neighborhoods where teacher turnover is highest and students’ needs are greatest. . . . .

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