Teacher Shortage, More Subs

There’s a teacher shortage in America, according to the Washington Post.

The Washington Post interviewed a Pittsburgh student, who comments on how the teacher shortage effects her: “You’re looking at test scores,” she said of the school’s low performance on state standardized tests in math, science and reading. “But we didn’t have a stable teacher.”

The article delved into some noteworthy details on the severity of the shortage:

“Detroit needs 135 teachers — more than 5 percent of its teaching positions — and the city has just 90 subs, so principals or other school staffers must cover most of the remaining classes, according to a Detroit schools representative.”

This fall, she had a group of incoming freshmen who had not had a permanent math teacher in eighth grade. Eighty percent of them were not proficient in math, according to state tests, she said — because “they didn’t get instruction last year.”

All of this begs the question: Why?

The article gives an answer I hope Rheeformers can comprehend:


“They tend to employ teachers who are more inexperienced than the hires at affluent schools, and they often are not adequately trained for the intense environments they will face, making them more likely to leave, said Linda Darling-Hammond, a professor emerita at Stanford who heads the Learning Policy Institute, an education think tank. Inexperienced teachers also are often the first to be laid off in tough budget times, which means layoffs can disproportionately affect high-poverty schools.”

Teachers are leaving the profession because they are not equipped to deal with the realities of children living in poverty. The education system is not equipped for students living in poverty. Now teachers are leaving the system because they know it’s broken and the poor children are still poor. The education/equity gap widens. We need to face poverty in schools rather than ignore it.

News to Dallas School District: Students Need Recess

The Dallas Independent School District will implement at least a 20 minute recess for students in grades pre-k through 5th grade. Part of the reason for the policy change, according to ISD trustee, Dan Micciche, is that studies (surprisingly) show that recess is healthy for children.

It’s surprising that Dallas ISD didn’t think it was, well, sad for children to not have any playtime. Micchiche points out that recess throughout the disrctit varied: some schools had recess for their students, while others didn’t. Some schools used recess as part of a punishment-reward system and other schools had recess for some grades and not for others.

It’s almost 2016 and I’m not sure why some children are forced to sit in a classroom the entire day and are not given room for natural and carefree moments with the friends they’re learning with.




Penn Charter Network Systematically Cheated

After years of accusations and multiple investigations, Chester Community Charter Schools officially received confirmation that it systematically cheated on state exams. The sad part about the following expert is that the cheating coincided with the year the charter network was endanger of facing penalties for three consistent years of not meeting Race to the Top’s adequate yearly progress (AYP) requirement on state exams. The other sad issue is that Chester received more funding than its traditional counterparts, but Chester students performed just as poorly.

The Notebook, a Philadelphia newspaper, reports:

“PDE [Pennsylvania Department of Education] then spelled out strict testing protocols that the school said it would follow, including 24-hour security cameras where the tests are stored and in all classrooms in which students take them. In addition, PDE sent outside monitors to supervise all test administrations.

Through its history, CCCS [Chester Community Charter Schools] struggled to make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), the test score and performance targets under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. The school made AYP in 2004 but then fell short for four years in a row from 2005 through 2008.

A fifth year of failing to meet targets would have triggered sanctions under NCLB, including a potential change in management.

The scores climbed in 2009, and for three years in a row, through 2011, they were high enough for the school to earn Adequate Yearly Progress status, an indicator that enhanced the school’s credibility in the Chester community. The school’s enrollment saw continued growth.

After the strict test protocols were put in place in 2012, proficiency rates at CCCS plummeted by an average of 30 percentage points in every grade and subject. In letters to parents and the media, the school blamed the drop on budget cuts.

Since then, scores have remained low – similar to scores of some Chester-Upland district schools.

That district has been in dire financial straits for decades, most recently exacerbated by its huge payments to CCCS and two other charters.”

Rhee’s DC Leaves Students Failing Miserably

Michelle Rhee and Kaya Henderson’s work in DC’s schools have left students failing miserably, according to citywide tests results. Rhee’s tactics of mass firings, school closures, salary increases based on state exams and charter school openings have proven to be exceptionally unhelpful. Rhee is a huge proponent on accountability. Who will hold her accountable for all of her failed goals?

I think it’s quite Michelle’s attitude while in D.C. was disgusting. She was pompous and narrow minded in her approach. If she said, “I don’t know if what I’m doing is right, but I think we need to make some different and radical changes, in order to see a positive change in a decades-long defunct school system,” than maybe I would feel like she actually tried to genuinely make the right decision for the students of D.C.

“Student Debt in America: Lend With A Smile, Collect with a Fist”

The title of this NYT article could not be more true. It’s absurd that schools can charge absorbents amounts for tuition for fields that don’t stand to provide the kind of income that can payoff the cost of attendance in a reasonable amount of time. But, bottom line, the Department of Education must require schools to give students a detailed outline of career prospects and the schools chances of providing students who maintain, at the very least, sound grades, with the right opportunities to attain said jobs.

New SAT: Harder for Students Who Don’t Read

The College Board has come up with a new SAT that will make its debut during the March 2016 test date. One highlight of the new exam is that there will be an increase in the critical reading and vocabulary students will have to take on. The test is now more aligned with what students are learning in school, which is only fair and should have been the case shortly after the Common Core was put in place. Experts says that students who read different texts the vary in difficulty, early and often, will have a better time with the new test than students who don’t.

My questions: What will school districts do to better prepare students for this exam? How can pre-high school teachers start now.? It’s hard to make a lot of changes to college prep because most large districts are struggling to hold onto resources, teachers being the most important. I have not read/taken the exam, but it seems more practical and builds more skills than the current SAT. Students should be reading more and challenged to think critically regardless if it is for a college entry exam or not.

Elite Chicago Public School Raises Money to Save Teachers

The Walter Payton College Prep High School, an elite public school in Chicago, is attempting to raise $1.1 million to save 12 of their teachers from being removed during the February budget cycle. Chicago Public Schools are behind $480 million and stand to borrow more money in February.

I think this is a wonderful and applaudable act. If the teachers are good at their jobs, parents, teachers, the principal and students should do everything they can to keep them in their community. They certainly should continue their efforts, and I wish them the best of luck.

But as the article closes, it notes that the Payton, at no fault of its own, has more resources and teaches a select group of the cities brightest students who, for the most part, come from a better socioeconomic background than most of the city’s schools that must take in students of all learning capabilities and whose families are below the poverty line. As the article notes, more than 80% of CPS students comes from low income families. In contrast, about 30% of Payton’s students come from low-income families. It’s the parents of Payton students who are leading the effort– parents who may have more time to work with the school and who may be more educated on how to get involved. Less fortunate schools may have more critical immediate issues to deal with.

Once again, this is no fault of Payton and fighting to maintain a great community is setting a great example for their students and everyone around them. But, in an effort to understand what is going on in the CPS community as a whole, it’s important to note:

– Why the cuts are being made,
– How/Why other schools will be far more worse off than Payton,
– How Payton can start such a great and ambitious campaign  and
– Why other schools may or may not be able to replicate their efforts.

In no way should Payton  slow down this campaign because other schools are not doing so. But we should please take into consideration the limited resources and knowledge that schools have that may or may not prevent them from doing the same thing.

Discuss Syrian Refugees in Schools

Heres a great article that encourages teachers to lead positive conversations about the Syrian refugee crisis. I applaud author Jacob Stewy‘s emphasis on starting the conversation in all subjects and grades. The “us v. them” dynamic plays a huge part in school environments. We see it in the bully and bullied relationship, the nerd v. class clown, the cool kids v. “weird” kids and even the teacher v. student. Leaders of the classroom and young minds should be able to lead the conversation so that students can feel comfortable about doing just that: having a conversation. It opens the table up discussion, critical thinking, civility and morality.

Buddy Bench: A Playground Communication Technique

Read about the “Buddy Bench,” a tool that caters to shy students. Communication techniques and methods, such as the buddy tool, help students grow into themselves and lets them know that there are communication methods that are helpful and that fit who they are as a person. I’m sure the Buddy Bench will help a quiet kid become friends with someone they would have never spoken to on their own (and vice versa). It boils down to self-esteem and awareness. Students are being taught how to acknowledge and look out for other classmates.

In the long run, it’s techniques like this one that make children more comfortable in a learning community.