Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The irony of high teaching standards

Interesting day in Richmond yesterday speaking with education leaders from all over the state. I keep hearing from all around the country – no one can find high school teachers and this was certainly evident in Virginia. It is rapidly reaching crisis level. The irony is that states claim that they don’t want to lower standards and try other alternative ways to recruit, prepare and certify teachers while districts continue to just ignore the current standards to fill critical positions any way they can.

One superintendent said that over 75% of his new high school teachers are coming from alternative routes – it is not what he wants at all but it is the only way to staff his schools. He has no one coming from the ed schools.

We also learned that there is a serious lack of experience in our high schools. During one discussion on mentoring, a special education teacher said that she doesn’t have anyone to be a mentor in her schools because no one has over 3 years experience! Even if they do have the experience, teachers have so many extra duties now that they do not want to take on mentoring as well. This sentiment was backed up by all the teachers in the room. They cannot even find retirees to come back and mentor.

States continue to put in place regulations that uphold what they perceive is high standards while the people who actually have to implement those standards have to go around them in order to give the students a teacher. Teacher groups continue to fight against alternative methods which in essence is degrading the teaching profession by increasing the use of long term substitutes and placing untrained “warm bodies” in the classroom.

And every year we wait to do something, this is going to get much worse.

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