Credit: Alison Yin for EdSource Today

A report out this week urges California school districts to take a more assertive role in producing new teachers. A new half-billion-dollar appropriation to districts to improve teacher effectiveness presents the opening to do this, although more state encouragement and incentives would help, the study said.

“Districts must take increasing responsibility for recruiting and developing their own future teachers, rather than leave it up to teacher preparation programs to provide the teachers they need,” concluded “Rethinking Teacher Preparation,” by the Washington-based education consulting and research nonprofit Bellwether Education Partners.

Bellwether isn’t the first to criticize the state’s “fragmented” approach to teacher preparation. With few exceptions, future teachers get their subject knowledge as college undergraduates and their initial teacher credential in a one-year graduate school program crammed with theory and, in many cases, a minimum of classroom practice. Districts run training and induction programs like Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment, or BTSA, for inexperienced teachers after they’re on the job.

“Many districts see teacher preparation as someone else’s responsibility, and fail to recognize the crucial role they can play in cultivating teacher supply,” the Bellwether Education Partners report said.

The state doesn’t collect follow-up data on new teacher performance to measure how well graduate schools prepare teachers; in 2011, Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed the creation of a teacher database that would have compiled this information. “Neither candidates applying to teacher preparation programs, nor school leaders considering hiring their graduates, have reliable information about the quality of different preparation programs or the performance of their graduates in the classroom,” the report said.

Bellwether acknowledged recent efforts by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, which oversees teacher preparation programs, to streamline the standards for preparation programs and to focus on measuring how well programs are graduating teachers ready for the classroom. The commission is requiring that all prospective teachers take a performance exam measuring classroom mastery. It is creating a “data dashboard” of program outcomes, including completion and employment rates. And it has loosened regulations on “blended programs” that give undergraduates a head start on teacher training. While the commission “is moving in the right direction, however, it may not go far enough,” the report said.

And these steps will not address predictions of a teacher shortage (see EdSource article), citing evidence of unfilled teaching jobs in some districts, the sharp decline in enrollment in and completion of credentialing programs over the past eight years, and state projections of increased hiring. The state has no strategy to deal with a shortage, the report noted.

“Many districts see teacher preparation as someone else’s responsibility, and fail to recognize the crucial role they can play in cultivating teacher supply,” the report said.

Bellwether cites examples where district initiatives and partnerships can serve as models:

  • Long Beach Unified, Long Beach City College and CSU Long Beach have created a pipeline that produces 70 percent of the district’s new teachers, who graduate understanding the district’s expectations and approach. The colleges and the district work together to design teacher prep coursework with Long Beach Unified teachers and administrators teaching courses at the college of education. The teacher attrition rate at Long Beach Unified, the state’s third-largest district, is half the national average, according to the report.
  • With federal funding and a grant from the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, Fresno Unified, the state’s fourth-largest district, has established two year-long teacher residency programs focusing on producing hundreds of new science and math teachers in the next five years. In a partnership with CSU Fresno, teacher candidates will work as full-time apprentices alongside mentor teachers in Fresno Unified as they earn their teaching credential and master’s degree. (See recent EdSource article on Aspire Public Schools’ residency program.)
  • Fresno and Long Beach are among districts that identify potential teachers among teachers’ aides and other paraprofessionals. Long Beach’s Career Ladder Program uses federal dollars allocated for low-income students and teacher development to underwrite the costs of teacher credentials and bachelor’s degrees, in exchange for a commitment to teach in the district. A number of districts offer education academies among their career education pathways for high school students. Bellwether suggests that the state make this option a higher priority in allocating the $500 million in the Career Pathways Trust establishing career education programs linking schools, businesses and community colleges.

Bellwether recommends that districts strengthen partnerships with credentialing programs through data-sharing agreements, supplying university programs with information on how their graduates did as teachers. The state credentialing commission, in turn, could require data sharing and include more feedback from K-12 districts in re-accrediting credentialing programs. Districts also should be more selective in assigning the best teachers to work with student teachers – a selection process that often is “haphazard,” Bellwether said.

Spending money differently

Districts have the power, under local control, and now the money to take a more innovative, active approach to recruiting and training new teachers, even though there’s no state impetus prompting them to do so, the report said. The Local Control Funding Formula, the new system for funding schools that reasserts local control over spending decisions, does not make teacher quality a priority that districts must address in their yearly spending and goal-setting document, the Local Control and Accountability Plan.

Bellwether recommends that the state and county offices of education “leverage the LCAP process to encourage districts to develop comprehensive talent strategies,” including partnerships with preparation programs, hiring, training, evaluating and retaining teachers. The State Board of Education and perhaps the Legislature would have to amend regulations or the funding formula law to add this degree of oversight – which is unlikely as long as Gov. Jerry Brown, who opposes tinkering with the law, is in office.

Bellwether also encourages districts to use their share of funding from the one-time $500 million teacher effectiveness allocation that the Legislature included in the 2015-16 budget to bolster recruitment and teacher development in new ways – options that the state budget bill permits but doesn’t actively encourage.

The Bellwether report was funded by the California branch of Teach For America, which recruits high-achieving college graduates to teach primarily in low-income urban classrooms for a minimum of two years after only a summer of teacher training. Teach For America teachers are hired with an intern credential, reflecting their learn-on-the-job status. Some districts seek out Teach For America interns, who must earn their standard, preliminary teaching credential within two years, while other districts view intern teachers as an option of last resort.

The report took TFA’s side in the contentious debate, citing that studies that showed that intern and other teachers trained through alternative credentialing programs were just as effective as other first-year teachers. It also warned against equating teachers hired through emergency permits and waivers with intern teachers. “Policies that equate these emergency credentials with the intern credential are unsupported by evidence – and potentially harmful,” the report said.


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  1. John Dewey 10 months ago10 months ago

    Shortages greatest in Sacramento and San Joaquin Valley areas. Does Bellwether talk about that? Does it talk about the surplus of teacher applications seen in Los Angeles USD or in San Luis Obispo County? And the number of applications that flood job positions in SLO county coming from Bakersfield and Fresno? And the number of teachers in SLO County who transferred from Bakersfield and Fresno? And how newcomers to the field who are on a … Read More

    Shortages greatest in Sacramento and San Joaquin Valley areas. Does Bellwether talk about that? Does it talk about the surplus of teacher applications seen in Los Angeles USD or in San Luis Obispo County? And the number of applications that flood job positions in SLO county coming from Bakersfield and Fresno? And the number of teachers in SLO County who transferred from Bakersfield and Fresno? And how newcomers to the field who are on a second career (i.e, retired engineers and scientists who have been told that the teaching profession needs them) can’t even get an interview in these areas? Just curious.

    Replies

    • Parent Opinion News 10 months ago10 months ago

      Thank you John Dewey for showing the data I spoke of with regard to many many fully credentialed teachers are being turned away from teaching jobs and the districts may be getting some kind of federal money kickback if they work with non profit groups such as Teach For America, not sure, can anyone speak to this, or if there is some kind of school district kickback to hire Teach For America emergency credentialed, non … Read More

      Thank you John Dewey for showing the data I spoke of with regard to many many fully credentialed teachers are being turned away from teaching jobs and the districts may be getting some kind of federal money kickback if they work with non profit groups such as Teach For America, not sure, can anyone speak to this, or if there is some kind of school district kickback to hire Teach For America emergency credentialed, non teacher credentialed, teachers who may have only a summer to brush up on how to teach before they are launched into their own classroom.

      I say, let us stop issuing any emergency credential intern program workers unless there are no qualified credentialed teachers to do the job. I know there are, but I think that school districts may try to save monies to hire a brand spanking new first year emergency credentialed teacher instead of a teacher with say 5 years experience or less or more, who will need to be paid at a higher pay scale.

      How about anyone speak to this who is in the know.

  2. Parents News Opinion 10 months ago10 months ago

    No. No. NO. . . I as a parent am opposed to the strategy that school districts are to be in the business of getting college graduates the knowledge to become teachers. School districts must specialize on other very important oversight roles, traditional oversight roles, or the quality of all school districts will rust and the respect of districts and individual schools will decrease. Look at what the California Department of Education is now doing... The C.D.E. is … Read More

    No. No. NO.
    .
    .
    I as a parent am opposed to the strategy that school districts are to be in the business of getting college graduates the knowledge to become teachers. School districts must specialize on other very important oversight roles, traditional oversight roles, or the quality of all school districts will rust and the respect of districts and individual schools will decrease.

    Look at what the California Department of Education is now doing… The C.D.E. is no longer helping school districts and instead is throwing back all oversight and work to the individual school districts in a more “HANDS OFF” approach. So, the school districts need not be new colleges, instead it is crystal clear that the teacher colleges need to teach and prepare teachers better!

    What a complete mess this teaching field is in. The unions for teachers should disallow any teaching program such as teach for America to allow any person to close the door and teach a class of children unless a full year, a full year, get it, a full year of student teaching with class work is done. No two week summer class prep and jam the non credentialed teacher into a classroom.

    Does the U.S. government offer school districts a tax discount to hire such intern , emergency credentialed people?

    Do parents know that the school district liked to hire the special emergency teacher program teacher to save money instead of interviewing the fully credentialed teachers who processed an application with the school district.

    The study, paid for with Teach for America is biased. It is a promotional tool in my opinion as a parent.

    The unions should mandate that no emergency credential teacher from any teacher program can teach with a teaching contract unless one full year of classes with student teaching took place.

    No,no,NO, school districts should not be teaching new student teachers how to teach, instead, colleges must do better to cut back on teaching THEORY things and instead ensure that the students have a solid real world apprenticeship.

    The teacher union needs to speak out more and VOICE things for the welfare of children rather than remain quiet. The unions could have all fully credentialed teachers be mandated to be offered all teaching jobs instead of the use of cabal teaching groups and fly by night low price savings for school districts , called emergency credential interns, who have no teaching experience step in long term or the whole year teach.

    What is good for the wealthy must also be mandated for low income areas, the wealthy school districts don’t want emergency credentialed teachers in cheap paid teaching positions, with maybe the school district getting some kind of tax break to hire experimental, not sure if they can teach it, lack of coursework emergency credentialed teachers.

    Request all stakeholders mandate only the hire of fully credentialed teachers , and any non-fully credential led teacher never be offered a job so long as a fully credentialed teacher has applied to the position, and all teacher unions have monitoring that no job for non fully credentialed teacher,
    .
    .
    .
    Unless it is an emergency for that IS WHY IT IS DEFINED AS AN EMERGENCY CREDENTIAL.

  3. navigio 10 months ago10 months ago

    John, within the very first sentences, the report implies that the quality of current teachers is lacking. In fact, the first two paragraphs to open the report could be read as an indictment of the entire current teaching model in CA. Its existence also leads to the question of how and why a teacher shortage exists for traditional public schools. It should not be surprising that comments then head in the direction of the political … Read More

    John, within the very first sentences, the report implies that the quality of current teachers is lacking. In fact, the first two paragraphs to open the report could be read as an indictment of the entire current teaching model in CA.
    Its existence also leads to the question of how and why a teacher shortage exists for traditional public schools.
    It should not be surprising that comments then head in the direction of the political divisions (and supposed solutions) that surround that issue. 🙂
    I do have to admit at being surprised at the recommendation to use targeted and restricted funds for teacher preparation programs instead of for the students currently in schools. Note that the paper suggests that districts should literally shift money away from class size reduction (as well as pd) and instead use it to fund teacher preparation programs. 🙂

  4. Cindy Friday Beeman 10 months ago10 months ago

    The sentence about who funded this should have been woven into the second paragraph.

    Replies

    • John Fensterwald 10 months ago10 months ago

      Cindy: Thanks for the suggestion, but let me tell you why I put it where I did. Who funds a study and the potential influence on a finding, based on reality or appearance of influence -- in this case, the role of intern teachers in preparing new teachers -- are obviously important and deserve inclusion. But all but a small section of the report by Bellwether raised issues and made recommendations that were either Teach … Read More

      Cindy: Thanks for the suggestion, but let me tell you why I put it where I did. Who funds a study and the potential influence on a finding, based on reality or appearance of influence — in this case, the role of intern teachers in preparing new teachers — are obviously important and deserve inclusion. But all but a small section of the report by Bellwether raised issues and made recommendations that were either Teach For America-neutral or have run contrary to its approach to teacher preparation.

      I personally have felt that TFA could make a big impact on K-12 education if it had adopted the residency model — an approach advocated in the report — instead of the intern teacher model. Requiring a three-year commitment of college graduates and then investing tens of millions of dollars of donor money to underwrite the costs to districts of the apprenticeship year would attract fewer, but more serious college graduates to teaching and would produce fewer TFA fellows. But those entering teaching would be far better prepared after a year of mentoring, their impact on student achievement would be more dramatic, and TFA would finally be showcasing a model of teacher preparation that elevates the profession — instead of throwing smart and energetic but underprepared new teachers into the most needy schools. I am encouraged that the new CEO of TFA is doing a pilot residency program and hope the results warrant a shift in its approach.

      The Bellwether report’s call to districts to use the LCAP and a piece of its teacher development money to create teacher pathways (as Fresno and Long Beach have done) is interesting. I am a bit disappointed that commenters have used the space to continue the union/charter debate instead of commenting more on the report itself.

      • Andrew 10 months ago10 months ago

        Helpful points and perspective, thank you. The report in question begins by acknowledging the backdrop of cuts and layoffs in past years. The report purports to highlight solutions to the resultant looming shortage of new teachers. The solutions highlighted by the report focus on recruitment and training variations and responsibilities and processes. Why are there relatively few quality teacher candidates in the pipeline presently? I posit that there … Read More

        Helpful points and perspective, thank you.

        The report in question begins by acknowledging the backdrop of cuts and layoffs in past years. The report purports to highlight solutions to the resultant looming shortage of new teachers. The solutions highlighted by the report focus on recruitment and training variations and responsibilities and processes.

        Why are there relatively few quality teacher candidates in the pipeline presently? I posit that there are two primary reasons:

        1. Because California abused the last round of teacher candidates in the pipeline. The candidates expended lots of time and money and could not get jobs. They saw newer teachers laid off, unemployed, burdened with student loans, unable to clear their credentials, and in some cases destitute. What reliable assurances and efforts are we offering any new prospective teachers that they will not find themselves similarly abused? In the absence of such assurances, isn’t avoiding a teaching career the smart thing to do?

        2. Word is out that being a newer teacher is an undesirable job, culminating after an undesirable process. Starting salaries are low relative to the candidates’ investments and the cost of living. California student to teacher ratios are worst in the nation. Every time the aspiring teacher turns around, he or she is writing another check or jumping through another bothersome hoop in a convoluted process toward getting a real (clear) credential.. BTSA may be helpful for certain new teachers in certain districts, but for others it is unnecessary, unhelpful and annoying and even expensive when they are forced to pay for it themselves out of what little is left of their starting pay after union dues, benefit caps, and all the deductions that come out of public paychecks. A few months back a new teacher commenter abandoning the profession posted a recap of the expensive gauntlet, death by a thousand cuts, that he had to run to try to get a clear credential. It would daunt anyone.

        The reports and commentaries addressing the impending teacher shortage seem to deal with everything but the primary problems which I posit above. The TFA model seems calculated to enable and foster the root problems rather than resolving them. Instead of requiring sustainable, desirable, humane, long term careers for its candidates, TFA treats teaching as something temporary, akin to using youthful energy after hasty preparation to endure a stint of a year or two of military combat service along the way of life.

        • Gary Ravani 10 months ago10 months ago

          Andrew: Being a new teacher is very stressful at times, but it is not analogous to a "year of combat service." Trust me on that one. And, once again (I assume you are getting as tired of read it as I am of writing it) what "abused" new teachers was the double whammy of CA's long term underfunding of education (see the "States in Motion" report on this site) and the impacts of the financial sector driven … Read More

          Andrew:

          Being a new teacher is very stressful at times, but it is not analogous to a “year of combat service.” Trust me on that one.

          And, once again (I assume you are getting as tired of read it as I am of writing it) what “abused” new teachers was the double whammy of CA’s long term underfunding of education (see the “States in Motion” report on this site) and the impacts of the financial sector driven recession. You can throw the “hoarding” of funds done by many districts who ran 10%-20% and 30% or more “contingency reserves” into the mix as well. The layoffs were considerably worse because of over-cautious (shall we say) decision making in a number of districts.

          There is little I have read to suggest large numbers of TFA folks are going to want to commit to longer terms. Reports indicate many don’t even fulfill the two years they originally commit to. Many also believe, likely with some accuracy, that TFA looks good on their resume. But the resume is to look for a job in the private sector, or in school management after a full [sic] year or two in the classroom. I can’t say, with only a farcical five weeks of training behind them, that I blame them too much for bailing. You can find plenty of personal statements from former TFAers to substantiate all of this.

  5. jo gold 10 months ago10 months ago

    Here is a good idea that may work. But first I must say that I am sick to death of the daily newest idea on education reform. The proponents are not making 43,000 during their initial year and on the job. We will never attract quality applicants when the salary schedule is pathetically low. I have been a teacher for 13 years and only now, due to extra pay contracts do … Read More

    Here is a good idea that may work. But first I must say that I am sick to death of the daily newest idea on education reform. The proponents are not making 43,000 during their initial year and on the job. We will never attract quality applicants when the salary schedule is pathetically low. I have been a teacher for 13 years and only now, due to extra pay contracts do I have no money worries.

    Pay better – we will reform education.

  6. Parent 10 months ago10 months ago

    Have they bothered to ask new teachers what they are looking for? Many new teachers down want to join a district and be forced to join a union that takes a big chunkof their salary, dictates that they be laid off first, and protects the “due process” of the likes of Mark “tasting game” Berndt.

    New teachers like charter schools, and districts should open more charter schools to attract new teachers to their city.

    Replies

    • FloydThursby1941 10 months ago10 months ago

      Very true. The priorities of the union are out of wack. Pay should be based on productivity, not seniority, value. I would not want to join a profession whose operating dictate was we’re all the same. It’s like joining a commune, not good for those who want to push hard, work hard and make a mark, good for those who want to do the bare minimum.

    • Gary Ravani 10 months ago10 months ago

      Parent: Couple of things--unions have nothing to do with who is laid off and why. Layoff procedures are "dictated" by state law. CA recently had a layoff crisis entirely driven by two factors: 1) CA's endless history of abysmally low school funding, often cited as being last or near last in the nation. That situation has been resolved somewhat by Prop 30. Prop 30 means more taxes. I'm certain you will be in full support of … Read More

      Parent:

      Couple of things–unions have nothing to do with who is laid off and why. Layoff procedures are “dictated” by state law.

      CA recently had a layoff crisis entirely driven by two factors:

      1) CA’s endless history of abysmally low school funding, often cited as being last or near last in the nation. That situation has been resolved somewhat by Prop 30. Prop 30 means more taxes. I’m certain you will be in full support of initiatives to increase taxes to support schools and head off layoffs. Won’t you?

      And

      2) A state budget crisis driven by a national budget crisis entirely cause by misfeasance and malfeasance in the nation’s financial sector. Heard about all the hedge fund guys and Wall Street denizens who’ve been held accountable for all of that? You do support “accountability” don’t you?

      There are two sectors in CA’s school system where you find the most teacher churn and turnover: 1( charter schools (teachers bail as soon as they can get a job in a regular public school and can join the union); and, 2) those who come into the profession via Teach for America (hence the nickname-Teach for Awhile). The TFA folks like to move into school management after a year or two of classroom experience when they “know everything about education they need to know [sic].” Or, even better, they move on to Wall Street where they can have a very lucrative career selling toxic investment instruments.

      There are also turnover issues in disadvantaged schools. When “asked,” as you suggested, newer teachers leaving those schools give two reasons for their actions: 1) poor leadership; and, 2) lack of resources to do their jobs. Re the latter: Under CA’s previous school finding system disadvantaged districts and schools often received considerably less funding per child than schools in more affluent areas.

      • FloydThursby1941 10 months ago10 months ago

        This simply isn't true. The union controls nearly all educational policy. In recent years several times the State Legislature was about to make it easier to fire bad teachers, a less onerous process, and each time the union made calls, donations, and lobbying moves to pressure them and nothing happened. The union in SF even prevented a measure from passing which would have let kids go to their neighborhood schools, simply because … Read More

        This simply isn’t true. The union controls nearly all educational policy. In recent years several times the State Legislature was about to make it easier to fire bad teachers, a less onerous process, and each time the union made calls, donations, and lobbying moves to pressure them and nothing happened. The union in SF even prevented a measure from passing which would have let kids go to their neighborhood schools, simply because it wasn’t their idea so they saw it as a threat. SF is the only City in California where you can live across the street from a district Elementary School and have to drive past 5-10 schools to go to another you get stuck with in a lottery, and the union is fine with this everywhere else but not in SF because it wasn’t their idea and they weren’t consulted. The union has fought every reform proposed. They have huge amounts of money as it adds up if you can require donations from a large group. They use those donations to control policy.

        Most of the general public believes in education and opportunity but votes against more funding because they fear that despite all the talk, money would go to across the board raises and we’d see no change. In fact, when we’ve had increases in funding before, we have seen no change, and even huge funding in DC and Baltimore has led to no change in the achievement gap. The fear is we could spend way more and see no change. That is a legitimate fear. The fear is once the money is approved, the union will spend it not on making each dollar benefit kids the most, but on making each dollar benefit union members most. The big money isn’t coming from billionaires. It’s coming from the union. The union controls everything. That’s why I am wary of them saying we just want our opinion hears, because every time they say that they take over and ruin good ideas. We just want our opinion heard on announcing teacher ratings and we just want a delay to figure something out, then they squash it happening at all.

      • Parent 10 months ago10 months ago

        I have never heard of charter schools not being able to find good teachers, this so called “shortage” does not exist. And there is no problem with teachers coming and going. The problem is too much stagnation at districts with their job for life teachers. I have seen good teachers come from district schools to charter schools. The one that went from charter to district, I was glad to see him go.

        • Gary Ravani 10 months ago10 months ago

          Parent;

          There are obviously many things going on in education you “haven’t heard of.” High rates of teacher turnover have a detrimental effect on the instructional program. You may have to do a little homework and research to get with the program.

          • Parent 10 months ago10 months ago

            Ok - can you point me to a story that any single charter school in California reports that they can't find qualified credentialed teachers? Help me with my "homework" here. Even if a teacher leaves after 5 years, isn't it better to get 5 years of 110% effort than just 20 years of "union effort" from a teacher? Read More

            Ok – can you point me to a story that any single charter school in California reports that they can’t find qualified credentialed teachers? Help me with my “homework” here.
            Even if a teacher leaves after 5 years, isn’t it better to get 5 years of 110% effort than just 20 years of “union effort” from a teacher?

            • Gary Ravani 10 months ago10 months ago

              Parent: Let's trade. I'll do the simple task of finding an article re the troublesome issue of high teacher turnover on charter schools and even add articles on the law suits filed to prevent high teacher turnover rates in some schools because those schools tend to have teachers with fewer years of experience. You can try and find an article from legitimate education sources (not right-wing propaganda mills) that suggest that unionized teachers exert less effort, … Read More

              Parent:

              Let’s trade. I’ll do the simple task of finding an article re the troublesome issue of high teacher turnover on charter schools and even add articles on the law suits filed to prevent high teacher turnover rates in some schools because those schools tend to have teachers with fewer years of experience. You can try and find an article from legitimate education sources (not right-wing propaganda mills) that suggest that unionized teachers exert less effort, or are less effective, than non-unionized teachers.

              Let me forewarn you that, if you were more aware of the facts, you’d understand that the US has only one “national test” called the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). You will find a couple of major categories of states and how their schools score on the NAEP. There are the very high scoring states, mostly located in the northeastern quadrant of the US, and those states tend to be the highest scoring states, the highest spending (per child) states, and the most highly (teacher) unionized states. Then there are the lowest scoring states, found in the southeast quadrant of the US. These states are the lowest scoring, have the lowest spending per child, and have (for the most part) made it illegal for teachers to form unions and engage in collective bargaining.

              BTW. The only state to challenge the southern states for being the bottom-feeder for low education-spending-per-child is CA, which for decades has ranked among the lowest states in education spending in dollars adjusted for cost-of-living. This situation has improved somewhat in the last year or so in large part because of Prop 30 which was an initiative driven by the teachers’ unions, the Governor, and allied community groups.

              Perhaps you’d like to use some other measure of “effectiveness” than NAEP scores. I’m open to suggestions.

              Good luck.

            • Parent 10 months ago10 months ago

              So, you are unable to find me an article about “any single charter school in California reports that they can’t find qualified credentialed teachers”.

            • Andrew 10 months ago10 months ago

              Gary and Parent, you are probably both right about charter school staffing depending on the years on which you focus. A widely publicized 2011 Berkeley study of teacher turnover in the LA area reflected that at the secondary level, charter schools averaged around 50% annual teacher turnover, about four times higher than conventional public schools. But the data for the study was drawn from the six year span from 2002 to 2008. Around 2009, of course, … Read More

              Gary and Parent, you are probably both right about charter school staffing depending on the years on which you focus.

              A widely publicized 2011 Berkeley study of teacher turnover in the LA area reflected that at the secondary level, charter schools averaged around 50% annual teacher turnover, about four times higher than conventional public schools. But the data for the study was drawn from the six year span from 2002 to 2008.

              Around 2009, of course, the deep recession took hold and California public school districts laid off 30,000 newer teachers under the union promoted LIFO seniority rules. While teachers were being laid off, teacher credentialing programs continued to produce new provisionally credentialed teachers, a huge proportion of which could not find jobs in conventional public schools. With this glut of laid off and newly credentialed teachers relative to conventional job opportunities, California charter schools were in hog heaven, from 2009 until nearly the present. Once employed during the recession, teachers tended to cling to jobs for dear life during this bleak employment period, even at charters notorious for charter teacher churn and burn.

              This is all shifting again now, apparently back toward the per-recession norm that existed 2002 to 2008. I expect that many dissatisfied charter teachers will jump ship and take jobs with conventional public schools and charters will struggle to find and retain suitable teachers in the coming years.

              It is important to be aware that charters tend to be highly self promoting, with propaganda machinery in operation. It was humorous to see the response of the charter school propaganda machine to the 2011 study mentioned. The charter industry tried to make it look like a 50% annual turnover of secondary charter teachers was somehow a good thing, weeding out less capable teachers. In practice, the teachers who remained in charters during such times tended to be those who were relatively unemployable in conventional public schools. Highly employable teachers who could bolt charters tended to do so. From time to time I see newspaper advertisements promoting a local charter and touting its academic excellence to draw parents and students. A review of that school’s last stats for API and STAR testing shows only 14% of those charter students scored proficient or above in math. Doesn’t stop the propaganda and of course without published scores for accountability, parents are running relatively blind now.

            • Gary Ravani 10 months ago10 months ago

              Andrew: One of those rare times when we can agree on at least your general point: teacher turnover at charters is typically alarmingly high. Parent's point seems to be that charters didn't have trouble finding "qualified teachers." That is true to the extent you have outlined. Teachers looking for a job will accept a job at a charter, as they will accept a job at a private school, but will bail in both circumstances to take … Read More

              Andrew:

              One of those rare times when we can agree on at least your general point: teacher turnover at charters is typically alarmingly high. Parent’s point seems to be that charters didn’t have trouble finding “qualified teachers.” That is true to the extent you have outlined. Teachers looking for a job will accept a job at a charter, as they will accept a job at a private school, but will bail in both circumstances to take a job at a public school where their professional and working conditions are protected by both statute and contract enforcement.

              Charter schools are frequently managed by private sector, albeit “non-profit,” management companies who are unconstrained in what they claim about their charter’s performance. It’s called advertising and, per the usual, caveat emptor. As disclosure documents recently revealed the CEO of CA’s “largest charter management group,” was making near 3/4 of a million $$ a year prior to taking a job with Arne Duncan. Not bad for “non-profit.”

              We disagree re the layoff situation created by the recession. LIFO had nothing to do with it. CA’s historic fragile funding for schools, and then the impacts of the recession, led to layoffs. Without those two factors the layoffs would not have occurred at such a scale. LIFO itself, is a misnomer and a good use of propagandistic language to distort the reality. School boards have every right, and one they exercise, to “skip over” teachers in layoffs when the skill sets of those teachers are declared, by an official board process and specified in a document to be found in the official minutes, to be vital to district interests and to protect program. In many cases teachers with seniority rights are laid off while teachers with less seniority are retained in their jobs. Districts also have the ability to offer senior teachers, which many districts do, retirement incentives to open FTE space in the district. There is also considerable evidence that many (and that means many) districts up and down the state went way overboard on the layoff situation, and padded their contingency reserves in ways that make district budget managers happy, but had negative effects on teachers’ jobs and class sizes. There is a political fight in Sacramento right now over this issue.

              I sent “Parent” off on a (possible) journey to do a little research on the realities of education with the hope that discovering some facts, before pounding the keyboard, might be an epiphany of sorts. Who knows? Always the Pollyanna-ish and Don Quixote-ish tendencies, may they live long!

            • FloydThursby1941 10 months ago10 months ago

              Gary, retirement incentives cost money. Principals have no power to decide. LIFO prevented what would have been a culling of the deadwood which would have helped the schools spend more efficiently, which happens at companies. Older teachers who are lower performing are damaging because they take more resources to do a worse job and take more days off, which has to be paid for. If older teachers are better they're worth … Read More

              Gary, retirement incentives cost money. Principals have no power to decide. LIFO prevented what would have been a culling of the deadwood which would have helped the schools spend more efficiently, which happens at companies. Older teachers who are lower performing are damaging because they take more resources to do a worse job and take more days off, which has to be paid for. If older teachers are better they’re worth every penny, but using LIFO prevented allowing principals to use lay offs to get rid of the teachers who are hurting the school in favor of less expensive ones who are better. I’m not saying this is the case with each teacher, but principals should decide. If you could get 3 hard working young teachers willing to show up every day, with good ratings, instead of 2 older teachers who take the max number of days off a year because it’s in the contract, you would do that every day of the week and twice on Sunday, and the remaining teachers would try harder to impress management and think twice before missing a day, so you would get a better work ethic and more value for your dollar which would benefit the children.

            • Gary Ravani 10 months ago10 months ago

              Parent:

              The points can they find and keep good teachers?

            • Don 10 months ago10 months ago

              Yes, Gary, charter schools have a difficult time of it keeping the revolving door from spinning. Oh, wait, that’s the same problem traditional schools have for teachers in their first five years.

            • Parent 10 months ago10 months ago

              Yes, charter schools can find and keep good teachers. And when good teachers migrate from charter school to charter school that is even better as good ideas and best practices are spread around, and schools must pay more and provide a better working environment to their top teachers. Compare this with what the unions offer, pay based upon years, can't get fired even if your students learn nothing, pulling the weight of other teachers who … Read More

              Yes, charter schools can find and keep good teachers. And when good teachers migrate from charter school to charter school that is even better as good ideas and best practices are spread around, and schools must pay more and provide a better working environment to their top teachers.

              Compare this with what the unions offer, pay based upon years, can’t get fired even if your students learn nothing, pulling the weight of other teachers who don’t teach, stagnation because no one moves around and even if you did you are still subject to the 6 inch education code, and the promise that even if you get caught feeding your kids spoonfuls of semen that the union will get you a nice settlement.

              Different teachers will be attracted to different offers, thank goodness we have choice. We need more choice.

            • Gary Ravani 10 months ago10 months ago

              Parent: Again you are a bit out of your league here. If you did the most limited search you will find that staff stability is a major contributor to a solid instructional program at a school. High turnover undermines that fact. If you search charter schools and teacher turnover you'd find charters have about twice the rate of turnover, during normal economic times, as regular public schools. Search, get it? The uniform salary schedule is a matter of … Read More

              Parent:

              Again you are a bit out of your league here.

              If you did the most limited search you will find that staff stability is a major contributor to a solid instructional program at a school. High turnover undermines that fact.

              If you search charter schools and teacher turnover you’d find charters have about twice the rate of turnover, during normal economic times, as regular public schools.

              Search, get it?

              The uniform salary schedule is a matter of statute, not collective bargaining. Most are configured with more at the ‘top” (and over several columns) because there is solid evidence that more experienced and better educated teachers, on average, have better skills than less experienced less educated teachers, on average. Then there is the very real problem that CA does not provide enough money to have salaries as high as they should be, prevent class sizes from getting even larger, provide for specialists, counselors, nurses, librarians, etc. (Hint: check out “States in Motion,” found above and to your right on this page.)

              There are several references on this site to preparing teachers in places like Long Beach. If district management is effective and hires the right teachers, as is done, then firing becomes moot. Also, when dismissing a teacher is necessary, effective administrators have no problem getting it done. The law is on their side.

              The repellent case in LA the critics seem to dwell on, for whatever strange reason that might be, has nothing to do with unions. Dismissal is not a collective bargaining issue, it is a matter of statute. The teacher in equation was charged a number of times by parents over the years and the LA district investigated and dropped the ball. On at least one other occasion the LA Sheriff investigated and dropped the ball. The school in question was huge and understaffed by administrators, meaning supervision was inadequate.This as a consequence of LAUSD’s poor management decision-making. The “settlement” you talk about occurred because, at the time of dismissal proceedings, the district had gathered no evidence against the teacher. The union was not directly involved. What we are left with is a long line of instances when the district or law enforcement could have intervened but didn’t.

              And the fact that “choice” was the rationale of…choice…for segregationists should slow you down in admiration for it not one bit. Why would it?

      • Don 10 months ago10 months ago

        Gary's right. - in a way " ...unions have nothing to do with who is laid off and why." If unions held their own members to high standards those teachers who can't up their game would be counseled out of the profession. But they just won't do it, even with such supposed internal oversight on the books. Instead they fight tooth and nail to protect every last bad teacher from being fired and … Read More

        Gary’s right. – in a way ” …unions have nothing to do with who is laid off and why.” If unions held their own members to high standards those teachers who can’t up their game would be counseled out of the profession. But they just won’t do it, even with such supposed internal oversight on the books. Instead they fight tooth and nail to protect every last bad teacher from being fired and force the districts to either spend money that could go to kids for lawyers or to acquiesce to the status quo.

        • FloydThursby1941 10 months ago10 months ago

          That's true. If unions are really against bad teachers who damage education, then it is not enough to just say there is a way and make sure it's difficult. If unions would be proactive and try to cull the bottom 5% and pressure all members to work harder, I think the public would support a lot more money for schools. The vast majority of teachers would benefit financially from such a strategy, … Read More

          That’s true. If unions are really against bad teachers who damage education, then it is not enough to just say there is a way and make sure it’s difficult. If unions would be proactive and try to cull the bottom 5% and pressure all members to work harder, I think the public would support a lot more money for schools. The vast majority of teachers would benefit financially from such a strategy, but they let the lowest bring them down. Big mistake. Vergara would have never happened had they taken this approach. Old school hardliners feel that if horrible teachers are fired, eventually many good teachers will be fired. I don’t understand why they feel this way, but they do.

          • navigio 10 months ago10 months ago

            One reason is that about a quarter of all state general fund expenditures is spent on teacher compensation. That's a lot of money to 'give up' to a socialist-leaning organization, especially when all they do is 'merely' spend time trying to help kids who don't even want an education and who, at the fault of their parents, are already a lost cause by the time they enter kindergarten. Let alone when as many as 40% … Read More

            One reason is that about a quarter of all state general fund expenditures is spent on teacher compensation. That’s a lot of money to ‘give up’ to a socialist-leaning organization, especially when all they do is ‘merely’ spend time trying to help kids who don’t even want an education and who, at the fault of their parents, are already a lost cause by the time they enter kindergarten. Let alone when as many as 40% of them shouldn’t be in the system anyway. There are other reasons, but that’s a primary one. (messenger not to be confused with the message)

  7. CarolineSF 10 months ago10 months ago

    A report funded by Teach for America took Teash for America’s side? Stop the presses.

    Replies

    • Gary Ravani 10 months ago10 months ago

      Caroline:

      LOL!

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