Massachusetts teacher preparation programs lack diversity - The Boston Globe

There is a critical question unanswered in this reporter’s story on teacher diversity. Namely,how does the racial diversity of students enrolled in other academic programs at local Massachusetts colleges compare to those enrolled in teacher preparation programs?

We need to stop comparing the diversity of new teachers to that of K-12 students as a way to think about policy problems and solutions. We cannot solve problems of teacher diversity by ignoring the fact that college students are not as diverse as we’d like to begin with. It’s just not a “public relations” problem about the teaching profession- it’s a problem with the larger pool. For example, according to Peterson’s, Bridgewater State University, a large provider of teachers cited in the article, is 80% white overall. Framingham State is 75% and Salem State is 70%. 

More college success policies and programs will help diversify the teacher workforce.

Also, why were there no new teachers on the educator diversity taskforce who could better inform why people like them make the decisions they do about careers? 

I have other comments on the report for another time.

“'We must focus on getting the right people in the right positions, measure their performance through fair and accurate evaluations, and support them so that they continuously grow and develop, and make data-driven performance decisions so that we have our staff positively impacting student achievement,' said Robert Gaskin, chief of human resources, during a Nov. 21 report to the school board.”

Do they REALLY think that is true or that the quote sounds good to teachers in the district or considering it? 

Apparently the Prince George’s school district in Maryland had almost double the expected teacher attrition last year. Teachers reported they left because they were dissatisfied with compensation and growth. This response quote sounds like…

1. They are blaming recruitment and selection for why these teachers left. It is too easy to go there, esp for anyone had been there for more than 6 months and was doing well. If that is case, look at systems and leadership for change.

2. It sounds like they believe that the teachers were incorrect in feeling they wanted more opportunity because their evaluations didn’t call for it. Dismissive, not good.

3. In the end, there will still not be any easy way for a teacher in this district who wants more opportunities to get more opportunities, leaving the only option to leave. 

I am beyond bummed by this quote. The market is telling the district what they are doing is not working. This is a great chance for this district to do something extraordinary around teacher recruitment and development and not the status-quo. They still have time to figure it out.

Source: 

Prince George’s school system to make improvements to hiring, retention

Should principals hire their own teachers? Duh.

This article makes me beyond crazy. I can’t think of another industry where senior managers are treated like babies.

There has to be some checks and balances, because any teacher a principal hires is a hire for an entire school system under most collective bargaining agreements. But the real issue is that principals don’t get training on how to hire, and districts don’t create systems to help it. That’s all highly solvable.

The article lists potential school board members in Worcester, MA sharing their opinions on whether principals should hire their own teachers. Can you imagine a board member of a major tech companies saying that it’s okay to base hiring on a degree or limit a hiring manager’s role?

Dianna L. Biancheria: “They as teachers haven’t brought this up as an issue. … I have not heard that from principals… We talk about that we want qualified people, so I would say that (seniority and degrees) is part of being qualified. … It seems satisfactory at this point. … We certainly have a system. I have not heard from anyone to say that it’s not working.”

Robert J. Cohane: “We should at least open it up for conversation and look at giving principals a larger role in that. I’m not sure how far I would go on that. … I think it’s important that we work with the union and not against the union and that we have an open conversation about the best way to get there, but … we need a cohesive group teaching at that school.” 

So I think this is awesome. Awesomesauce, in fact. But this quote from Tulane is a little over the top. Really, 10 free slots for well-deserving students and some teacher training is the MOST comprehensive thing that any college/K-12 partnership has ever done in education reform? Really (said as much like Seth Meyers/Amy Poehler as possible)?
Officials on both sides are calling it a first-of-its-kind arrangement. “No one has done anything as comprehensive as what we’re thinking,” Tulane University President Scott Cowen said. “This is one more part of the puzzle of how we can improve education here in our community and for low-income students across the country.” 
More in love the with quote at the end from one of my education heroes, Mike Feinberg. He’s a hero because he understands that education is really about what happens to students AFTER they leave us.
"The ultimate goal for our kids is not to have them pass a state accountability test," said Mike Feinberg, one of KIPP’s co-founders. "Nor is it getting them in or even through college. It’s that they have the freedom to do what it is in this world that they want to do. College is a ticket to be able to do those things." 

So I think this is awesome. Awesomesauce, in fact. But this quote from Tulane is a little over the top. Really, 10 free slots for well-deserving students and some teacher training is the MOST comprehensive thing that any college/K-12 partnership has ever done in education reform? Really (said as much like Seth Meyers/Amy Poehler as possible)?

Officials on both sides are calling it a first-of-its-kind arrangement. “No one has done anything as comprehensive as what we’re thinking,” Tulane University President Scott Cowen said. “This is one more part of the puzzle of how we can improve education here in our community and for low-income students across the country.” 

More in love the with quote at the end from one of my education heroes, Mike Feinberg. He’s a hero because he understands that education is really about what happens to students AFTER they leave us.

"The ultimate goal for our kids is not to have them pass a state accountability test," said Mike Feinberg, one of KIPP’s co-founders. "Nor is it getting them in or even through college. It’s that they have the freedom to do what it is in this world that they want to do. College is a ticket to be able to do those things." 

Bold (or silly) Teacher Quality Suggestions

I read this post on Eduwonk a few times. On the teacher quality bandwagon, but I fail to understand how this is “bold.” It seems like it’s bold because it mentions DFER. Here are my big problems with it.

"The only way to accomplish that is to put excellent teachers, the top 20 to 25 percent who achieve well over today’s “year of learning progress,” in charge of every child’s learning—consistently.”

Problem One: The numbers don’t add up. I don’t always agree with Diane Ravitch, but ignore her at your own peril. She has consistently noted that we hire millions of teachers and statistically, there is no way they can all be the top achievers in our country, even if you increased class size. Value-added data is too unstable to create this 20-25% group and what would we do with all the unserved students? Would we never hire new teachers? 

I would entertain a solution that had concrete ideas on how to improve performance for middle-of-the road teachers, the ones who are not only ignored by policy folks, but also leaders because their problems are complex. 

"Limit who can teach to top high school graduates, with further screening for behavioral competencies of excellent teachers"

Problem Two: This is just silly. Very few teachers come straight out of an undergrad program. I’m too busy (and lazy) to find the actual stat nationwide, but I can tell you that in NYC that the average age of new teachers is 29. That’s 12 years to grow and become knowledgable and skillful in lots of ways. Maybe it’s from my career coaching, but I see great potential in adults, not just students.

Changes in Newark Teacher Hiring

Article in today’s Wall Street Journal. My team has been actively helping Barringer get high quality teachers the last two weeks to support these changes.