Oct 31, 2016
Back in the beginning of the month, I began talking about a document I reviewed in one of my Professional Developments last spring 'Select Excerpts from the notice of Proposed Requirements – Race to the Top Provisions Related to Principals and School Leaders.' At one point I said:
. . . I'm still formulating ideas about 'redistribution of teachers,' 'achieving equity in teacher distribution' and the differing nature of what Federal, State, & Local education agencies consider 'Highly Qualified Teachers.' I might save that for later.
This is what this part of document has to say about the redistribution of teachers:
Ensuring equitable distribution of effective teachers and principals:
States must provide information about the extent to which the state has a high-quality plan and ambitious yet achievable annual targets to increase the number and percentage of highly effective teachers and principals in high-poverty schools, and to increase the number and percentage of effective teachers teaching hard-to-staff subjects including mathematics, science, special education, English language proficiency, and other hard-to-staff subjects identified by the state or LEA. Plans may include, but are not limited to, the implementation of incentives and strategies in areas such as recruitment, compensation, career development, and human resources practices and processes.
I think that the developers of this plan fail to understand the situation in High-Poverty schools and the failure of recruitment & compensation incentives for 'hard-to-staff subjects.' First, let's look at Highly-Effective Teachers. The federal government has different qualifications than the states and their districts do. I had a rude awakening when I, considered an HQT by the federal government, was laughed at the first day in my South Florida school district and denied as an HQT incentive because only my principal could deem me 'Highly Qualified.' It's difficult to draw teachers on that incentive if there's no guarantee that they'll receive they'll receive it.
Secondly, statistically speaking, it's more likely that a brand new teacher, fresh out of university, will be going on to these High-Poverty schools, especially STEM, SPED/ESE, and ESL teachers hoping to receive financial incentives to pay off crippling student loans and educator fees. What these new teachers often find are unwilling students who, at Eighth Grade, may or may not be reading ar pre-primer level and who these new teacher are expected to miraculously have ready for High School or College. These new teachers also find Administration unwilling to help – I know one Reading Coach who was begged by a First Year Teacher for help in a Pro-D, only to be told to Google an answer. Also, they may find Administrators unwilling to maintain order because they fear it will attract negative attention from the District. How long do you think these new, fresh teachers are going to stay in the profession? Within three-to-five years, most new teachers that start off in one of these High-Poverty, Low-Performing schools burn out and leave teaching entirely, robbing us of those Highly-Effective Teachers that we're so desperately trying to court, recruit, & retain.
The start we need to make is to reevaluate our school environment. I know many balk at 'too much order in schools,' and I realize for some students such an environment would be detrimental. However, for many High-Poverty, Low-Performing schools, a well-ordered school is the only order in many students' lives, and that can do more to turn around a school than throwing good teachers into a meat grinder. I'm not proposing that every school be a police state, but I am suggesting that there is no one 'cure-all' for every school. What we need to do is take each school as an individual and solving their specific problems. After all, you don't cure a heart condition by amputating a leg, do you?
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