Monday, March 28, 2011

How Do We Raise the Status of Teachers?

New York Times “Room for Debate” question of the week is “How to Raise the Status of Teachers?” First steps, according to most of the respondents: increase the rigor of teacher preparation programs and increase salaries. Here’s a sampling:

Kati Haycock of Education Trust on how we must “ratchet up the standards at teachers colleges and weed out weak candidates":
Every year, we hire talented summer interns who share our passion for improving America’s schools. Most had originally planned to pursue careers in teaching, but found their colleges’ teacher preparation programs to be so mindless that they couldn’t transfer out of them fast enough. Their experiences are confirmed by considerable research, which suggests that college teacher education programs do not, on average, produce graduates who are any more effective than teachers who have had only a few weeks of pre-service training...Teaching is difficult, intellectual work. Neither teacher educators nor school administrators can afford to shy away from making hard decisions about those who aren’t up to the challenges of a real live classroom.
Mike Petrelli of the Fordham Institute:
Today’s teacher compensation system is perfectly designed to repel ambitious individuals. We offer mediocre starting salaries, provide meager raises even after hard-earned skills have been gained on the job and backload the most generous benefits (in terms of pensions) toward the end of 30 years of service. More fundamentally, for decades we’ve prioritized smaller classes over higher teacher pay. If we had kept class sizes constant over the past 50 years, the average teacher today would be making $100,000.
Cynthia G. Brown of the Center for American Progress:
We must improve teacher preparation. Many of the highest performing education systems in the world are very selective about who gets into their teacher training programs. In the U.S., almost anyone can get into and complete a preparation program. Colleges should study the newer alternative training programs like Teach for America and the New Teacher Project, which have designed rigorous selection criteria and produce teachers ready for the classroom.


Nicholas said...

Where are the Teach for America corpmembers who complete the training and feel, or are, ready for the classroom? I've yet to meet a single one of them.

Please feel free to email me if you'd like to discuss this!

kallikak said...

In the wake of our ratcheting and weeding, will we not face a much better educated, likely more skilled--and hence more financially demanding--group of teachers?

How do you reconcile this outcome with the blatant attempts by Governor Christie to slash teachers' compensation?

In the real world, more professionalism = higher costs.

Lefty said...

But wait, why not single out Vern Williams, who teaches honors math at Longfellow Middle School in Fairfax County, Va, and was named to the National Mathematics Advisory Panel in 2006, and wrote:

...At the moment, our profession seems to be in the hands of politicians, researchers, special interest groups, school system bureaucracies, unions, technology companies and textbook publishers...

-and he left out pundits

NJ Left Behind said...

Hi, Nicholas. I don't believe any first-year teacher is really ready for the classroom, TFA or otherwise. Research shows that proficiency increases over the first three or four years and then plateaus. See this link for a report from educators including Linda Darling-Hammond: