The crucial challenges of recruiting, preparing and retaining teachers has gotten short shrift in the reform debates over the last few years, despite the fact that effective teachers will be crucial to the success of a range of reforms currently being implemented in California schools, such as the Common Core standards.

A new report from EdSource, titled Preparing World Class Teachers: Essential Reforms of Teacher Preparation and Credentialing in California, identifies seven key challenges that the state must address to ensure an effective teaching force – and the most promising strategies to address them at a local and statewide level.

Among the challenges:

  • California’s longstanding policy of separating undergraduate work from post-graduate teacher preparation programs;
  • The wide variation in the length and quality of the student teaching experience;
  • The need for more of a focus on early childhood and the middle school years in most teacher preparation programs, especially for those considering teaching those grades;
  • The absence of a state requirement that teachers engage in professional learning while working towards their permanent credential;  
  • Upgrading the preparation requirements for special education teachers, while making more intensive efforts to recruit them;
  • The elimination of targeted state funding for mentoring programs for new teachers;
  • The steady decline in the number of people wishing to teach, as indicated by the continuing decline in the number of students enrolled in teacher preparation programs.

As the report noted:

Effective preparation of teachers is an essential dimension of the education enterprise, especially with the implementation of the Common Core State Standards, along with the Next Generation Science Standards.

Yet a range of other reforms, such as linking teacher evaluations to student test scores, lengthening the time it takes for teachers to get tenure, and making it easier to fire ineffective teachers, have garnered far more attention in recent years.

The report, which was underwritten by the S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation, stressed that reforms to teacher preparation and credentialing not be carried out in isolation. “Instead, they need to be fully integrated and synchronized with the other major reforms being rolled out in California,” the report urged.

 

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  1. Saba Baptiste 2 years ago2 years ago

    There are critical needs for teachers reform as mentioned above. However, what consistently being avoided is whether teachers want to teach a diverse groups of students. Logically, all students need to be educated effectively and that is not happening in rural and urban schools around the country. Too often teacher workforce reflects the opposite of the students demographic and that is traditionally where we see the largest achievement gaps. Intensifying the training will not prevent … Read More

    There are critical needs for teachers reform as mentioned above. However, what consistently being avoided is whether teachers want to teach a diverse groups of students. Logically, all students need to be educated effectively and that is not happening in rural and urban schools around the country.

    Too often teacher workforce reflects the opposite of the students demographic and that is traditionally where we see the largest achievement gaps. Intensifying the training will not prevent teachers from exercising their biases in the classrooms, or not caring about students as a whole. I am not implying that this is something that only white teachers do; you see classism comes into question no matter what color. In addition, principals, administrators, district leadership,policy makers, and school board members are directly responsible for denying a free high quality education to every child that walk through the school doors. Unfortunately, adults cannot get it right that every child deserves a free high quality education: society has contributed to expanding poverty, deferring dreams, under educating, over policing, over reliance of out-of-school suspensions, push-outs, extremely low graduation for student of color, and arrest and incarceration can be used interchangeable at schools. So, teacher’ training will not scratch the surface of what has been the history of public education towards students of color; it will not be solved in a college classroom or an internship.

    Observe, what have happened to million of youths that sat in those desks hoping for a way out of poverty and hoping education would provide for them and their families that transformation. At one time in America it was true, that if you are not fortunate enough to be born rich, then , receive a good education because it would transfer and your families out of poverty. However, they forgot to mention how difficult it would be to find …a teacher… a school… a school district …a government that cares and wants the masses to achieve a high quality education. The education system works for a few, but not for the masses of black and brown students.

  2. Don 2 years ago2 years ago

    Considering their education level, teachers should earn significantly more at the bottom of the scale and as well as more over time like in most every other profession as experience is gained and demonstrated. What we are experiencing here is the spectacle of a fight over the scraps that society throws at public education in California.

  3. Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

    Having served on both Educator Excellence Task Force and the Teacher (Preparation) Advisory Panel referenced in the new report I have tussled with the proposal to return to having undergraduate programs in education. This kind of program would allow for more intensive work in pedagogy for prospective teachers. That being said, it's hard to ignore the politics of what occurred in the late 1950s and early 1960s that resulted in the elimination of BA degrees in … Read More

    Having served on both Educator Excellence Task Force and the Teacher (Preparation) Advisory Panel referenced in the new report I have tussled with the proposal to return to having undergraduate programs in education. This kind of program would allow for more intensive work in pedagogy for prospective teachers.

    That being said, it’s hard to ignore the politics of what occurred in the late 1950s and early 1960s that resulted in the elimination of BA degrees in education and with the emergence of Fisher Act credentials.

    This was (yet another) period of political hysteria related to public fears from the “Sputnik Crisis.” Like Mccarthyism shortly before, and then A Nation at Risk a couple of decades later, the public and some politicians were whipped into a frenzy by perceived threats to the US economy and/or national security. Threats that were not really “there,” but really had impacts none-the-less.

    In this case (yet again) the success of the Soviets in launching a basketball sized object into orbit sent waves of insecurity through the national psyche and (yet again) the easy scapegoat to the problems was the public schools. In this case it was that the schools had failed to educate students in science and technology. Yes, what we now call STEM. As Twain pointed out, history may not repeat itself, but it sure echoes.

    The new demand for academic “rigor” extended to teachers’ education, and the clarion call came for teacher preparation programs to abandon “soft” courses & programs in pedagogy and require teachers to take “hard” academic course work, earn a “real” BA degree, and have the pedagogy appended in post-graduate credential programs. And so CA got the Fisher Act, the elimination of BAs in education, and the present structure of teacher preparation.

    Many, including EdSource it seems (admirably), have come to appreciate that education and pedagogic courses have merit and rigor, that teaching is a very complex profession, and that BA programs in education would be legitimate endeavors and worthy of discussion.

    My questions about it all come from the fact that public hysteria about all kinds of issues (ISIS at out southern borders and need I mention Ebola) has not diminished. Many on this forum have mentioned that the derivation of Vergara is really a series of events traced back to LAUSD. When analyzed it can be seen that the LAUSD problems related more to problems in district management, but public hysteria has been redirected to “bad teachers.” This is much like decisions made by the President in the 1950s that led to the Soviets getting into space before the US and that hysteria was redirected to schools and teachers.

    There are still myths about the low quality of education schools and the teachers that attend them. What, exactly, has changed that would allow reconsideration of teacher preparation that won’t subject the programs and teachers to more redirected hysteria and baseless charges?

  4. navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

    The report notes that teacher prep has received short shrift among reformers. I don't think that's necessarily true and believe it's instructive to think about why it appears that way. Essentially, reformers probably do not have much to say about teacher prep because their concern is less about the adequacy of those programs and more about the adequacy of the people entering them. This argument has in fact been made by reformers, and is generally … Read More

    The report notes that teacher prep has received short shrift among reformers. I don’t think that’s necessarily true and believe it’s instructive to think about why it appears that way.

    Essentially, reformers probably do not have much to say about teacher prep because their concern is less about the adequacy of those programs and more about the adequacy of the people entering them. This argument has in fact been made by reformers, and is generally done by citing SAT or ACT or GPAs of the people entering that profession as ‘evidence’ that they are deficient.

    The very foundation of something like TFA is the assumption that anyone at the top of their bachelors class but without specific teacher training still has as much or more content knowledge (and in a teaching-relevant way) than any traditionally trained educator. (Note that this stance includes an implied statement about the quality of existing and even ‘reformed’ teacher prep programs).

    More broadly, there is a belief among reformers that the best way to improve the quality of teachers is to open the profession up to as many people as possible then cull the lower quality ones. This of course requires having the freedom to cull and it requires a measure on which to base it (ergo the attack on tenure and push toward test-based teacher evaluation).

    There is probably a parallel belief that teaching should only be a short-term job, in that youthful energy is more valuable than experience, though this is less explicitly stated and may not be as consistently supported among reformers as the other things even though this shows up as anecdotes in the tenure discussions.

    Seen from this perspective, it should be clear that the quality of traditional prep programs is considered mostly moot in the reform effort.

    It is also troubling how little mention of computers or technology there is in this report. Although the goal of my above statements was not to pass judgement, I do think the question of content knowledge is especially relevant when it comes to something like computer proficiency. Common core requires teaching computer proficiency (as does our world) and teachers who lack that competency will have a very difficult time introducing those skills to their students. If there is any major ‘hole’ that exists today this is probably it.

    Lastly, I read an article a few months ago that claimed we can never teach critical thinking to our students unless the teachers themselves possess that faculty (and more importantly, went on to claim they do not). Although I don’t want to argue that point here, I will mention that I’ve had discussions about this and that there does not appear to be consensus on to what extent that claim is true, nor to what extent critical thinking is a learned or innate trait (and this how to most appropriately ‘teach’ it). But the answers to those questions are crucial in evaluating current teacher prep and any ‘reforms’ it might undergo. I do hope someone else is discussing these kinds of things.

    Replies

    • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

      There's a myth about the reform movement as a monolithic entity (Gates, Walton, Reed and Broad) and it is apropos of teaching programs as I will go on to explain. This myth emanates from the edu-establishment that IS in fact a relatively monolithic entity as the age-old partnership between management and labor, the California edu-bureaucracy and the state and local teaching unions. Because the reformers are one way or another upsetting the apple cart, whether … Read More

      There’s a myth about the reform movement as a monolithic entity (Gates, Walton, Reed and Broad) and it is apropos of teaching programs as I will go on to explain. This myth emanates from the edu-establishment that IS in fact a relatively monolithic entity as the age-old partnership between management and labor, the California edu-bureaucracy and the state and local teaching unions. Because the reformers are one way or another upsetting the apple cart, whether they are independent charter schools or large CMO/EMOs, homeschoolers, or a burgeoning private school industry (in some localities), the monopoly sees the competition through its monocular and myopic viewpoint as another singular entity bent on dominating the current monopoly. It fails to recognize the education industry as a marketplace because it has always been the 800 pound gorilla and that marketplace has been static for decades with primarily the rich disavowing traditional public education along with some religious groups – together comprising a significant but relatively unchanged level of public school non-participation. However, as education in California becomes steadily more impoverished and schools become more and more incapable of providing different levels of instruction, the middle class too has begun to bow out of public education over the last 30 years or so. And this is the same middle class from which we acquire the talent of college-educated teacher candidates. So while there’s an anti-public school sentiment that’s taking hold due the mountain of problems facing the institution, these stresses and strains also discourage enlistment in credentialing programs as more non-elect to participate not just as public school families and students, but also as future public school teachers . Obviously, this is not a positive development in theory. However, should viable alternatives such as charters take root, they can stem the bleeding. The problem there is that wages are even lower than the monopoly. Charters can tap the idealism of young recruits at low wages,but that idealism fades with age and low wages remain for ten or 15 years.

      With trust in public education fractured as it is and the prospect for additional funding diminishing with ever greater government debt, schools need to look to innovation to keep the American middle class from its growing exodus out of public education. Districts like San Francisco Unified that are steadily chipping away at accelerated programs for the academically advanced children of middle and upper middle class families find their enrollment growing solely based upon increases in less advantaged students. This in turn drives schools to focus primarily on remedial efforts further fueling the spiral of increasing non-participation and loss of potential teaching talent.

      • navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

        You can try to impose your myth overlay on what I said, but the fact is I did not mention any of those people or even their movements in a specific way. I intentionally avoid that because those tacks don't seem productive (that's fine for the political realm but I'll let others deal with that). Instead I listed actual changes that have been championed or legislated by 'advocacy' groups and politicians. It does not really … Read More

        You can try to impose your myth overlay on what I said, but the fact is I did not mention any of those people or even their movements in a specific way. I intentionally avoid that because those tacks don’t seem productive (that’s fine for the political realm but I’ll let others deal with that). Instead I listed actual changes that have been championed or legislated by ‘advocacy’ groups and politicians. It does not really depend who they are or what they call themselves (I surely don’t care) but it does depend on what they do because those actions imply change (ie reform) and thus they qualify as reform efforts. And they are actual ones.

        So no, my comments were about issues, not about some abstract hatred of a vague monolith of evil as you’d have people believe I’m about. I agree it makes for a more appealing (though less issue-based) narrative though..

        Furthermore, although I agree the changing nature of our state demographics (including the support for public education as a function of non-elect-based apathy) will clearly impact credentialing enlistment, I would say that it’s impact will dwarf in comparison to the impact that media-based attacks on public education and the proliferation of charter schools will have on it (again due to a decline in support for public education). And there is nothing inherent about charters that implies they can stem the bleeding of credentialing programs. In fact, if anything, I would more likely expect credentialing programs to go away completely as charters begin to outnumber TPSs since there is some overlap in those political efforts.

        • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

          "Instead I listed actual changes that have been championed.." as in " there is a belief among reformers..." " reformers probably do not have much to say about teacher prep..." " There is probably a parallel belief that teaching should only be a short-term job..." Or, " youthful energy is more valuable than experience, though this is less explicitly stated and may not be as consistently supported among reformers..." and therefore "...it should be clear that the quality of … Read More

          “Instead I listed actual changes that have been championed..”

          as in

          ” there is a belief among reformers…”
          ” reformers probably do not have much to say about teacher prep…”
          ” There is probably a parallel belief that teaching should only be a short-term job…”

          Or, ” youthful energy is more valuable than experience, though this is less explicitly stated and may not be as consistently supported among reformers…” and therefore “…it should be clear that the quality of traditional prep programs is considered mostly moot in the reform effort…”

          A deduction based on a weak assumption.

          Just who is engaging in journalistic bias here as you termed it on another thread?

          Every comment copied here is an attempt to generalize ed reform as carried out by a monolithic entity – a boogie man in a pinstripe suit standing in front of a bank is the subtext of this “argument” against reform. While there are those have more formidable voices than others in the education discussion, those who mostly engage in this polemic about reform sound a lot like you – in fact exactly like you.

          So while you may want to be perceived above that fray, I think the submit button has not worked to your favor.

          • navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

            You're funny don. Now it's not gates or broad or whomever but a boogie man in a pin striped suit. Let me know when you figure out who I really hate (or even what I really think). Reformers, reform efforts, boogie man, whatever you want to call it. It was a term taken from the report. I shared my viewpoint that the issues I listed are those shared by people who the report implied are … Read More

            You’re funny don. Now it’s not gates or broad or whomever but a boogie man in a pin striped suit. Let me know when you figure out who I really hate (or even what I really think).

            Reformers, reform efforts, boogie man, whatever you want to call it. It was a term taken from the report. I shared my viewpoint that the issues I listed are those shared by people who the report implied are silent on teacher prep quality issues. They are not ‘general’ by any means but specific and targeted efforts. And they exist in contrast to the idea that teach prep can be reformed and that is why they appear ‘silent’.

            That is an important point IMHO. If you don’t agree or don’t like it or even don’t like me, I’m ok with that. Feel free to ignore me.

            Note also that i failed to indicate whether I agree with ‘them’ or not… Or whether I myself happen to own a pin striped suit… Whoops! 🙂

  5. Andrew 2 years ago2 years ago

    Recruiting candidates who are truly smart enough to be teachers who are dumb enough to become teachers will be the real challenge for California. How many astute, capable and high achieving college grads would look to enter California teaching under the prevailing conditions?: The worst student to teacher ratios in the country; near the worst per pupil funding in the US; low starting salary schedules that shortchange new teachers so the oldest teachers can … Read More

    Recruiting candidates who are truly smart enough to be teachers who are dumb enough to become teachers will be the real challenge for California.

    How many astute, capable and high achieving college grads would look to enter California teaching under the prevailing conditions?: The worst student to teacher ratios in the country; near the worst per pupil funding in the US; low starting salary schedules that shortchange new teachers so the oldest teachers can be overpaid, though all do the same work; LIFO policies so that younger teachers are always fired first no matter how good they are and no matter how poor senior teachers are; teacher layoffs expected at every recession, with waves of recessions expected indefinitely; bad funding in the absence of recessions and worse funding in recessions; constant loading with additional requirements and expectations; poor and worsening teacher morale; poor and worsening working conditions; ugly architecturally uninspired facilities and often trashy temporary classrooms; inadequate learning materials, resources and technology; inadequate administrative support with the worst student/administrator ratios in the county; inadequate librarian, psychologist, behavioral specialist, counselor, nurse support due to the worst ratios; inadequate student discipline structures; and much more . . .

    These are the burdens that exist even before those contemplated in the article are added. There are only so many hours any anyone’s day. The number of hours in a day, days in a year, years in a life has not increased as the decades have passed. But the burdens have increased and continue to do so, without compensation. Some young people actually want to have romantic relationships, have children, own and maintain homes, travel, have lives. Lets require more structured and rote “professional learning” pending a “clear credential” in addition to the huge struggles new teachers face as they begin their lives. You can’t add too many burdens, and without compensation and at the lowest salary scale. And you can’t depend on the new teachers to determine what skills they need and to acquire them.

    Regarding upgrading requirements for special ed teachers while recruiting more of them? What makes sense is to require that special education teachers become fully qualified multiple subject teachers, who know subject matter, before embarking on acquiring specialized skills for teaching special needs students. A capable special ed teacher needs to know everything a general multiple subject teacher knows, and much more. If the state wants this sort of additional competence and knowledge, it is going to have to pay more for it, something that doesn’t often happen with current union pay scales.

    Replies

    • navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

      Lots of good stuff in there so I hate to detract from it but it’s important to clarify that LIFO is not used in the firing process.

      • Andrew 2 years ago2 years ago

        While those who are laid off are probably technically "fired", I would be more precise to say that a disadvantage of entering the teaching profession as a new teacher is that newest teachers are first to be laid off under FIFO regardless of relative performance. Firing of a senior teacher for poor performance is almost non-existent in public education. I could add to the listed disadvantages of a teaching career … Read More

        While those who are laid off are probably technically “fired”, I would be more precise to say that a disadvantage of entering the teaching profession as a new teacher is that newest teachers are first to be laid off under FIFO regardless of relative performance. Firing of a senior teacher for poor performance is almost non-existent in public education. I could add to the listed disadvantages of a teaching career – having to work with senior co-workers who are immune from firing regardless of how poorly they perform.

        This summer one of my own homeschooled K-12 offspring reviewed with me her short-lived consideration of a possible career teaching high school in California. In an earlier post, Gary referred to homeschooled kids as displaying “cute puppy syndrome.” The cute puppy in question is newly minted with a STEM doctorate from UC, she just wrapped up a med school research position, backpacked across the Sierra, traveled to another state to place first in a triathlon, and stopped by before heading to Europe for some work. She is not materialistic, wants to make the world a better place, and has also taught a lot, from remedial community college to the highest university graduate levels.

        I strongly discouraged the prospects of teaching in any California high school due to the abysmal student to teacher ratios where California high school teachers are assigned twice the number of students relative to the national average. Then there are the other problems noted above.

        We looked at salaries. A teacher with a BA would start at $39,000 in one union negotiated salary schedule we considered. My daughter’s MS would add $1,000 to that and her PhD that took five rigorous years beyond the MS would add another $1,500, bringing the starting salary up to $41,500. A teacher with 25 years seniority in the system, however, would make $85,000.

        A rock in my yard gets a year older each year. If we put the rock in a school and call it a teacher, it gets a year older each year and after enough succeeding years pass to reach 25 years of rock seniority, the rock would be earning $85,000.00. We can pretend that the rock gets more valuable with time, and is worth $45,000 more than a newer STEM PhD that is only worth $1,500, but it isn’t necessarily so.

        The truth is, the pay scales reflect that the California public educational system, and the teacher’s unions, neither respect nor value higher education nor academic excellence nor subject matter competence, and consider them much less valuable than managing to get a year older as each year passes. The decision for my daughter was easy, with lots of other options, though she’d have considered high school teaching had it appeared that the system would welcome her, value her appropriately, and provide good working conditions.

        • navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

          Well, it may seem pedantic to you, but the difference between layoffs and firings is important, especially in that the latter is for cause. Saying that firings are a function of LIFO is implying that seniority actually buys you leeway in being incompetent, ie that younger teachers with cause will be focused on before older teachers with equal cause. That is not only not true, it's probable that exactly the opposite is. I think we … Read More

          Well, it may seem pedantic to you, but the difference between layoffs and firings is important, especially in that the latter is for cause. Saying that firings are a function of LIFO is implying that seniority actually buys you leeway in being incompetent, ie that younger teachers with cause will be focused on before older teachers with equal cause. That is not only not true, it’s probable that exactly the opposite is.

          I think we misunderstand the nature of salaries for teachers. First off, there is some ‘respect or value’ placed in higher education and academic excellence’ in that higher degrees still get you higher pay. Not only higher pay, but a faster and greater increase. (Note that there are many who want to remove that ‘reward’). It may not be commensurate but it’s still there.

          And then I think we need to understand why it is that teacher salaries increase in the first place. In some sense, being a teacher is the prototypical dead-end job. I don’t mean that in the sense that it’s not rewarding (on the contrary), rather that there is almost literally no advancement opportunity that still allows you to remain a teacher. How are we to treat such a position in the context of a broader labor market? Should we pay it like other dead-end yet not as ‘important’ jobs, thus turning it into a mere stepping stone or placeholder while those people prepare for a ‘real’ career? (Yes some believe this is the role teaching should play).

          In other words, I think at least part of the salary step increase is a function of nothing more than trying to retain teachers. To provide some kind of offset that prohibits them from taking advantage of opportunities elsewhere that pay more for increased experience. That is not to trivialize the importance of experience, but that is a separate issue.

          In reality, you’re probably right that those a teachers are not worth $45k difference, but I’d argue that it is not because we overpay experienced teachers, rather because we underpay inexperienced ones (and we do that because we can get away with it). Regardless of how that is eventually addressed and whether ‘performance’ is somehow folded into the salary step (something your comments seem to be implying), we can’t forget that how we pay teachers over their career will impact whether they remain teachers and I think recognizing that should be part of the discussion.

        • Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

          Actually, you've mischaracterized my position, Andrew. It wasn't homeschooled kids who demonstrated "cute puppy syndrome," it was home schooling parents. That is, over time (35 years in the classroom), I saw a number of instances where it suddenly "occurred" to parents that it was time to start their children in a regular public school and that, "coincidentally," occurred as the kids began to reach their teenage years. I think I also said they were, in general, … Read More

          Actually, you’ve mischaracterized my position, Andrew. It wasn’t homeschooled kids who demonstrated “cute puppy syndrome,” it was home schooling parents. That is, over time (35 years in the classroom), I saw a number of instances where it suddenly “occurred” to parents that it was time to start their children in a regular public school and that, “coincidentally,” occurred as the kids began to reach their teenage years.

          I think I also said they were, in general, very pleasant children to have around. Some struggled a bit socially and some academically with “holes” in their preparation. Almost all adapted and did well.

          Obviously, if the CTC is looking for some personal endorsements from parents to encourage more solid candidates to enter the profession they should not ring on your doorbell.

          Your daughter sounds like she should would have (and may still) make an excellent candidate. Your description of the pay situation is not far off the mark. However, with all of your daughters qualifications it still doesn’t mean that she would bring all the qualities to the classroom that an experienced veteran brings, even if the veteran has fewer degrees. In real life schools, even a PhD., does not an excellent teacher make (in Yoda speak). For example, if you faced a serious surgery would you prefer a bright eyed, bushy-tailed, newbie with great academic credentials but little hands-on experience or the grizzled veteran with a thousand successful surgeries under his/her scalpel? In most medical systems I’m aware of the veteran makes more than those newly out of internship.

          Navigo did a great job of summing up the basics of the system. And all of the deficits you cited re few support professionals and high class sizes are all true and all due to the insufficient funding. It would be great to start new teachers out at $85K per year, and they deserve it, but there does indeed have to be some incentive to stay with the system and build up that critical experience as well as the capacity created by a stable faculty and so the system to divide up insufficient resources has evolved. It is a kind of unwritten “standard,” that salaries will at least double over the course of a teaching career. And, the structure of the pension system being what it is, having a reasonably high salary at the top of the schedule allow for a secure (if not extravagant) retirement. Bottom line: there’s not enough money in the system to do it all much differently.

          And blaming “union pay scales” for the problems is like blaming your car for a bumpy ride when the state hasn’t paid for upkeep of the roads. (Which happens to be the case by the way). The unions do what they can with what is available in the fairest and most democratic fashion. They also use what resources they have to support increasing state support for the schools (Prop 30!) and improving the situation which puts the unions, and their overburdened members, in the cross-hairs of the oligarchs discomfited by Prop 30.

          • Andrew 2 years ago2 years ago

            Rationalizations once used to justify paying men more than women, or whites more than blacks, come to mind when I hear the rationalizations used to justify paying senior teachers twice as much as newer teachers. Teachers seem so intent on having their profession as a whole treated "fairly", yet the institutionalize archaic unfair treatment within it relative to newer teachers. Senior doctors don't get paid more per operation or procedure than younger doctors, each gets the same … Read More

            Rationalizations once used to justify paying men more than women, or whites more than blacks, come to mind when I hear the rationalizations used to justify paying senior teachers twice as much as newer teachers.

            Teachers seem so intent on having their profession as a whole treated “fairly”, yet the institutionalize archaic unfair treatment within it relative to newer teachers.

            Senior doctors don’t get paid more per operation or procedure than younger doctors, each gets the same reimbursement from insurers or Medicare. Just as each classroom gets the same ADA regardless of whether the teacher is newer or more senior. Among the professions, only in education, if you call it a profession, does a year of seniority automatically equal a lockstep increase in compensation.

            Regarding the myth that physicians with the most years of experience are the best, read the review by Stuart Green, MD, at the site of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, where he reported:

            “Of the 62 articles that were reviewed, the following results were reported:

            about half of the articles reported a decline in performance with increased experience (meaning older doctor)
            21 percent showed a decline in some, but not all, outcome criteria
            3 percent showed first an increase and then a decrease in outcomes with increasing experience
            21 percent showed no relationship between age and outcomes
            2 percent showed some improvement in outcomes with experience
            2 percent showed improvement in all outcomes with experience ”

            If pay were more equitable for newer vs. more senior teachers, I doubt that the more senior teachers would leave the profession in droves. Where would they go? What would they do? It is a brutal world out there for a mid-life career changer. I don’t think they are going anywhere.

            For my daughter in question, teaching high school is an option she could pursue. But she could also find employment with a drug company, a university, a medical school, in private industry, or as a self-employed consultant. The institutionalized unfairness in teaching relative to highly educated newer teachers helps ensure that teaching high school is not an option she will pursue.

            Most who have secured personal advantages relative to others, even unfairly, strive to retain and institutionalize those advantages and to creatively rationalize them. I can’t help but admire the creativity if not the logic in the rationalizations. But the rationalizations and what they institutionalize keep highly competent young people out of the profession, the kind I would want teaching my own kids.

          • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

            Andrew, those are all excellent points and I agree with you as I almost always do, however, if your daughter were to get, let’s say, $15,000 more as a starting teacher, (about $55,000 instead of 35) would that be the difference needed for her to decide to pursue a teaching job in a public high school knowing that her pay was more or less frozen for the next 20 years?

          • navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

            The issue you are highlighting is not the difference between experienced and inexperienced teacher pay rather between starting teacher and starting other professions. It's true the latter is somewhat a function of the former, but the latter will continue to exist for her entire career (and in some professions that gap will even increase). Put another way, if the difference in starting and later pay in other careers were actually greater than it is in … Read More

            The issue you are highlighting is not the difference between experienced and inexperienced teacher pay rather between starting teacher and starting other professions. It’s true the latter is somewhat a function of the former, but the latter will continue to exist for her entire career (and in some professions that gap will even increase). Put another way, if the difference in starting and later pay in other careers were actually greater than it is in teachers (probably actually is but that requires qualifiers) but both starting pays were as they are now she would still make the decision she does because it is starting pay she is comparing.

            It’s true that switching careers has never been easy (though I expect for people like your daughter the only barrier she ever has will be her own decision) but if we were to ‘recognize’ that by limiting ending teacher pay then people would end up complaining about the lack of prospects when evaluating teaching as a ‘career’.

            Anyway, believe it or not, I think teacher pay is somewhat of a side issue. If you look at teacher surveys increased pay is nowhere near the top in the list of things they find important for retention (of course those don’t survey prospective teachers and the context in which that exists is the current one). Instead you’ll find all the things that make schools work better. Better staffing ratios, more support positions, nurses, librarians, counselors, etc, etc. Perhaps not surprisingly, these are all the things you’ll find in UTLA’s latest bargaining proposal (along with a 10% pay increase of course 🙂 )

            (And btw, I agree that the experience issue is not so clear-cut. But I also think teaching can’t be compared to other ‘careers’ in that regard. Although I believe experience plays a huge role in a teacher’s evolution, I also agree the pay slope lags the experience slope for a portion of the career window. But as mentioned earlier, the pay slope exists for more than one reason. It is not a single-topic issue. IMO anyway.)

          • navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

            Btw, people should realize the lowest starting teacher pay at a district is invariably for ECE teachers. Starting k12 teachers earn slightly more. It’s not enough to write home about, but at least the issue should be characterized accurately.

          • Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

            Andrew: "Check on the Surgeon’s Experience Levels It’s wise to ask a surgeon how many procedures he or she performs annually. Studies show that surgeons who conduct 12 or more knee replacements per year are more likely to have a record of success." From a well known medical website. It seems odd to me that anyone would make the argument that experience doesn't count for almost any endeavor, whether it be pro-football quarterback, auto-body repair, surgeon, or teacher. However, … Read More

            Andrew:

            “Check on the Surgeon’s Experience Levels
            It’s wise to ask a surgeon how many procedures he or she performs annually. Studies show that surgeons who conduct 12 or more knee replacements per year are more likely to have a record of success.”

            From a well known medical website.

            It seems odd to me that anyone would make the argument that experience doesn’t count for almost any endeavor, whether it be pro-football quarterback, auto-body repair, surgeon, or teacher. However, you pick your surgeon and I’ll pick mine.

            You seem to be of the opinion that the only teachers who count are the ones who just entered the profession. It is absolutely inevitable that if you stay with the profession you gain years of experience (which count for effectiveness) and add seniority. I think you’ll have to agree to the logic of that statement.

            You seem to also be of the opinion that being a teacher with less seniority and more job insecurity exacerbates problems with recruiting new teachers and so the solution is to increase job insecurity for all teachers by eliminating seniority rights. I fail to follow the logic of that conclusion.

            You also seem to suggest that there is some kind of objective system in place that can routinely evaluate the true effectiveness of teachers and due a fair job of replacing seniority rights. This flies in the face of historical precedents that shows that all to often very subjective and arbitrary criteria are used to layoff/dismiss teachers lacking due process and seniority rights. The history of that has been covered numerous times on this forum.

            There are significant advantages to the entire education system (that have also been covered here or can be easily looked up) to maintain a teacher workforce that is experienced and stable. These advantages work to the betterment of both teachers and students. The opportunities provided by due process, seniority rights, escalating compensation over the course of a career, and a secure retirement are some of the incentives of staying in the profession long term and that is why teaching professionals value them and, via very democratic processes, have their unions promote them

            Junior teachers don’t stay junior teachers forever. As a young teacher I received layoff notices the first three years I worked during a recession and period of declining enrollment common to many districts in the mid-1970s. It was a very destabilizing time to be newly married and a young parent. At no time did I think the system was unfair because of its seniority based criteria. It was and remains the fairest system. Again school district programs are protected because local boards can create criteria establishing district needs that allow more “qualified” teachers (defined by specific training and credentials) to be skipped over and more senior teachers laid off. So the system is protected assuming districts proceed in a rational manner.

            If you are committed you will stick with the profession.

        • Manuel 2 years ago2 years ago

          Having a STEM PhD only demonstrates that the holder is able to conduct independent research on a very narrow subject, that of the holder's thesis. The old idea that a PhD just indicates that one is an expert on a tiny part of one's field of study is certainly true. It does not mean that the holder is wise beyond her/his years. It just means that s/he was able to jump through the hoops placed along … Read More

          Having a STEM PhD only demonstrates that the holder is able to conduct independent research on a very narrow subject, that of the holder’s thesis. The old idea that a PhD just indicates that one is an expert on a tiny part of one’s field of study is certainly true.

          It does not mean that the holder is wise beyond her/his years. It just means that s/he was able to jump through the hoops placed along the way. If anything, it just says that the holder has “grit.” But it certainly does not confer the ability to lead a class of teenagers on a subject that few of them want to learn.

          In my experience, the starting salary for a STEM holder varies with the field. Once upon a time, certain Ph.D.s were fought over by industry. Now, they can’t even find decent jobs. The “sexiness” of fields of inquiry changes, especially when the federal government agencies decide, in their infinite collective wisdom, to “go in a different direction.” And let’s not forget that the job one gets is highly dependent on the activity level of one’s adviser and the network built over the years in grad school.

          True, some people manage to get plum jobs, but it is like everywhere: you need to hustle and promote yourself to get a hold of that brass ring. Let’s not forget that salaries are commensurate to what one brings to the table. To expect the salaries paid in such highly competitive environments to be paid to beginning teachers is simply folly. Not even exclusive private schools pay those salaries (and I know someone who works in just such a place), so how could public schools even entertain that idea? This just displays a very constrained understanding of how the real world works.

          Lastly, to compare a teacher with 25 years of experience to a rock is highly disrespectful and expresses a disdain probably rooted in a life-time of grudges against teachers. I find that personally offensive and an insult to all those teachers, both in public schools and public universities, who contributed to what I am today. It is also an insult to all those teachers who helped form my three children, who were all educated by public schools and continue to be educated in our state’s premier public universities.

          • Andrew 2 years ago2 years ago

            "Having a STEM PhD only demonstrates that the holder is able to conduct independent research on a very narrow subject, that of the holder’s thesis. The old idea that a PhD just indicates that one is an expert on a tiny part of one’s field of study is certainly true." So those in the business of providing lower education don't think much of higher education and trivialize it. If we are looking primarily for glorified babysitters, mainly … Read More

            “Having a STEM PhD only demonstrates that the holder is able to conduct independent research on a very narrow subject, that of the holder’s thesis. The old idea that a PhD just indicates that one is an expert on a tiny part of one’s field of study is certainly true.”

            So those in the business of providing lower education don’t think much of higher education and trivialize it.

            If we are looking primarily for glorified babysitters, mainly tasked with trying to get unruly students to behave, then then the depth and breadth of subject matter knowledge of the teacher probably isn’t so important, and I’ll concede that a certain degree of experience is a great thing to have in a babysitter. My own 6-12 experience was a succession of teachers who with a few exceptions really didn’t have solid grasp of their own subject matter. And I’ll admit, they spent a lot of their time, and wasted an awful lot of my time, trying with little success to get unruly students to behave. Precious few modeled a love of learning themselves that might have inspired me. My first truly competent math teacher was in university calculus.

            The STEM PhD in question was chosen because it is in one of the hottest disciplines in the world, combining broadly two core STEM subjects. Only one out of ten applicants was admitted to the program and one out of every two admitted washed out thereafter. Like many real PhD’s, there was a brutal qualifying exam after a year. The “narrow” candidate scored so well enough on the math part of the GRE as to be accepted into Stanford in addition to UC in STEM, but scored even higher on the verbal. Another candidate awarded the same PhD in the same slot just ahead of her accepted an offer in private industry and started at $200,000. Someone out there in the real world values that higher education, just not those in lower education. The CA salary schedule is a sign and it says, “We don’t value you and we don’t want you.”

            Please point out to me where I said, or implied, that “all” public education teachers are rocks. My point was that even rocks get seniority by being around for years, and that the simple ability to be around for years was a poor basis for doubling a salary. A rock can get seniority. A rock can’t earn a PhD.

            I have had the opportunity to work with a lot of California high school teachers reaching retirement age and they tend to be horribly burned out from stress and overwork and unfair student loads, relative to people I see retiring from all other professions. It is wrong and unfair to the teachers and a disgrace to our state. Anecdotal, but I’ve discussed this with a few high school teachers from other states where the average student load is half of California’s and they report much greater job satisfaction. If my daughter were to teach high school, I’d urge her to do it somewhere other than California, and where salary schedules are not so linked only to seniority.

          • Manuel 2 years ago2 years ago

            Andrew, you have no idea of my life time experience, but I am not about to start oversharing. However, I am in the belly of the STEM beast and know of what I speak. Those $200k/year jobs are mostly mirages because 1) there are too few of them, 2) they tend to last one or two years, and 3) just because you are highly sought after doesn't mean you'll deliver the goods in the long … Read More

            Andrew, you have no idea of my life time experience, but I am not about to start oversharing. However, I am in the belly of the STEM beast and know of what I speak.

            Those $200k/year jobs are mostly mirages because 1) there are too few of them, 2) they tend to last one or two years, and 3) just because you are highly sought after doesn’t mean you’ll deliver the goods in the long run. Oh, and it is possible that once the candidate walks in, finds out that there really is no money in the company. (I know someone who went through that. Not pretty.)

            As for where exactly you claimed that every teacher is a rock, there is no need for that. You did the damage and it is done.

            I have to agree, though, that we will reap what we sow in regards to class ratios. But, hey, the good folks in the “reform” side claim that class size is not a factor for success and that a good teacher should be able to effectively teach the multitudes as well as score all their tests, papers, etc, with ease. They can’t be wrong, can they?