Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Shortsight is as shortsighted does

I have been trying to keep up on the stimulus dollars to see if it is really going to prevent teacher layoffs etc. First my amazing ABCTE team got word last week from Utah that there is a hiring freeze on teachers right now. After a four year pilot using our math program, we were recently approved in Utah for all ABCTE certifications because they were constantly facing teacher shortages and knew they had looming teacher retirements. One district that normally hires 300 teachers will hire less than 50 next year. Most districts are eliminating educational programs and using those teachers to backfill any new hires needed. The final blow in Utah is that the state board approved a reduction to the school year by 5 days for 2009 – 2010.

Looking bad for stimulus dollars providing a positive impact for schools – Utah is actually slipping.

Then in my own backyard in Virginia (and my daughter’s school system), the Washington Post reports that Loudoun County Supervisors, upon hearing that Loudoun schools would get $11.8 million in stimulus, promptly cut $7.3 million from the school budgets. Not painful since it keeps them whole and no teachers will lose their jobs, but it certainly doesn’t create any reforms. And since Loudoun is still growing, it still creates problems.

The main issue is that state and district budgets are worse than initially thought. So the hole is much deeper and the stimulus is going to only fill it so far. Right now that is causing some panic and to twist a phrase – shortsighted is as shortsighted does. States and districts are looking to just get by next year so the dollars are not really driving any reforms.

The problem is that all this panic will dry up our teacher pipelines are really at the same time staffing is getting exceptionally lean. In two years districts will find themselves scrambling to find the talent they need. Those districts that think long term and really look to tap into the talent out there now and get that talent into teaching programs will be those that really do right by their students.

More to come……

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