Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Sunday, August 9, 2015

NY Times Covers National Teacher Shortage, But Misses Point Of Why It's Happening

And so we've gone from "How do we fire teachers!" to "Gee, we can't find teachers!" in a pretty short period of time - even the education reporter at the NY Times noticed:

ROHNERT PARK, Calif. — In a stark about-face from just a few years ago, school districts have gone from handing out pink slips to scrambling to hire teachers.
Across the country, districts are struggling with shortages of teachers, particularly in math, science and special education — a result of the layoffs of the recession years combined with an improving economy in which fewer people are training to be teachers.


Louisville, Ky.; Nashville; Oklahoma City; and Providence, R.I., are among the large urban school districts having trouble finding teachers, according to the Council of the Great City Schools, which represents large urban districts. Just one month before the opening of classes, Charlotte, N.C., was desperately trying to fill 200 vacancies. 

But as is usual with the Times ed coverage, they screw up the story and miss why the shortage is happening:

Educators say that during the recession and its aftermath prospective teachers became wary of accumulating debt or training for jobs that might not exist. As the economy has recovered, college graduates have more employment options with better pay and a more glamorous image, like in a rebounding technology sector.

In California, the number of people entering teacher preparation programs dropped by more than 55 percent between 2008 and 2012, according to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. Nationally, the drop was 30 percent between 2010 and 2014, according to federal data. Alternative programs like Teach for America, which will place about 4,000 teachers in schools across the country this fall, have also experienced recruitment problems.

Yes, it's true that a rebounding economy leads fewer people to go into teaching - there are more opportunities available for other kinds of work with "better pay and a more glamorous image."

But unexplored in the Motiko Rich Times piece is one big reason why teaching isn't a job with a glamorous image. - the consequences of 10+ years of corporate education reforms.

Every day you open the newspaper or turn on the TV, you see or hear some teacher-bashing crap, some politician like Christie saying he wants to punch teachers in the face, some rag like the Post blaming teachers for destroying the lives of children by using the Three Little Pigs as a DO NOW exercise to teach POV and bias.

Then there are the new "accountability rules" - the constant observations, the evaluation ratings tied to test scores (as high as 50%), the increased work load and stress for the same (or less) money, the decreased benefits, gutted pensions, and diminished work protections like tenure (Kansas is an emblem of this, but it's happening nationwide too.)

I'd say if kids are looking around at the job landscape and saying "Hell, I can do better than be a teacher!", they're right - and smart for saying it.

I teach seniors and I tell the ones who say they want to be teachers to think twice about the major - that teacher bashing and odious accountability measures (most of which simply add more work to a teacher's load without making them better teachers) make the job miserable these days.

I also tell them that teaching isn't really a career anymore, that the politicians and educrats and oligarchs who fund education reform see it as a McJob that can be filled by untrained temps who do it for a couple of years and move on (or get moved on by accountability measures) to something else.

To that end, the Times again:

Ms. Cavins, 31, who once worked as a paralegal and a nanny, began a credentialing program at Sonoma State University here in Rohnert Park less than a year ago. She still has a semester to finish before she graduates. But later this month she will begin teaching third grade — in both English and Spanish — at Flowery Elementary School in Sonoma. Ms. Cavins said she would lean on mentors at her new school as well as her professors. “You are not on that island all alone,” she said.

Esmeralda Sanchez Moseley, the principal at Flowery, said she could not find a fully credentialed — let alone experienced — teacher to fill the opening. “The applicant pool was next to nothing,” she said. “It’s crazy. Six years ago, this would not have happened, but now that is the landscape we are in.”

Before taking over a classroom solo in California, a candidate typically must complete a post-baccalaureate credentialing program, including stints as a supervised student teacher. But in 2013-14, the last year for which figures are available, nearly a quarter of all new teaching credentials issued in California were for internships that allow candidates to work full time as teachers while simultaneously enrolling in training courses at night or on weekends.

In addition, the number of emergency temporary permits issued to allow non-credentialed staff members to fill teaching posts jumped by more than 36 percent between 2012 and 2013.

At California State University, Fresno, 100 of the 700 candidates enrolled in the teacher credentialing program this year will teach full time while completing their degree.

“We don’t like it,” said Paul Beare, dean of the Fresno State school of education. “But we do it.”

Mission accomplished for education reformers - a cheap untrained temp workforce is soon going to be commonplace in schools, this will lead to an even bigger "teaching quality crisis" and allow reformers to promote privatization as the answer to the "education crisis."

Shame Motiko Rich missed the part of the story about how education reform has helped bring about the national teacher shortage.

But alas, this is another example of a Times ed article that only gets half the story: the "national teaching shortage" is reformer-generated and will serve the ultimate goal of may education reformers - to destroy the public school "monopoly" and privatize the public school system.


  1. I read the article in its entirety. This is no mistake. The NYT deliberately omitted any information on teacher terminations, legal teams hired for the sole purpose of making false accusations and forced resignations, collusions with dirty politicians, teacher termination programs disguised as assistance, false observations, false witnesses, encouragement of students and parents to turn on their teachers, and the dirty business goes on.
    I also noticed that they quoted Ms. Linda Darling-Hammond from Stanford University. Her comment was very politically correct. In reality, she is one of the people that Sheri Lederman and her attorney husband (who are currently going to trial over her Ineffective rating)have gotten an affidavit from stating the flaws in the Growth Model and shortcomings in the Value Added Analysis for which they use to rate teachers.

    Here is the link.

    1. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the Darling-Hammond quote was the most innocuous sentence in a larger statement that spoke to some of the things you note in your comment but the writer went with the bland statement instead.

  2. Yes. Deliberate. Another piece in the times today about asking the poor how to help stated that charter schools always achieve better results.

    1. If it's a Motiko Rich ed story in the NY Times, it's guaranteed to be "ineffective" reporting, that's for sure.

  3. I was hired by the DOE in the mid 90's and there was a teacher shortage then. I already had my masters degree. They sent me to a district office and they handed me a paper list with 20 classroom and cluster positions that were open. They literally told me to "pick a position". That was how easy it was back then due to the shortage. Oh yeah, back then they sent recruiters to other countries to get teachers to work in NYC. Seems to me that we are headed in that direction again due to the destruction of our once great career.

    1. Yes, that was my experience in 2000 as well. Hard to believe, those days may return. So far, NY hasn't made it to any of these "teacher shortage stories" - it's the Carolinas or California or Kansas. But it'll get here too, especially with the latest iteration of APPR and the insane licensing nonsense here.

  4. The only people who will go into teaching are those who are completely desperate. There are large teaching shortages looming. They'll use it as an excuse to diminish teaching requirements, ramp up computer teaching programs/scripts and greatly cut salaries.

    1. In urban areas and rural areas perhaps. But that won't fly in Scarsdale, Great Neck, et al.

    2. You have to know someone or be related to get a teaching position in many affluent districts. The kids there basically teach themselves, I'm not sure those communities would have as much problem with it as one might assume.

    3. I taught SAT in both the communities I named - this was in 1999/2000/2001. Parents were very involved in my experience. I don't think they're going to go for computer algorithms teaching their kids considering the taxes they pay. Just my take...

  5. This is what I wrote to Rich, restraining myself as much as I possibly could. At some point, reporters who report reformista propaganda begin to believe it and so it's not propaganda to them but "the facts, folks, just the facts":

    Ms. Rich,

    Thank you for your article.

    I wonder, however, why you wouldn't mention one aspect of the coming teacher shortage that seems obvious to me? Prospective teachers read newspapers and trade journals and talk to their friends who are teachers. The morale of many teachers in the face of the changes in accountability systems and work conditions that they encounter clearly affect the willingness of new teachers to come into the field.

    People do not make decisions about what jobs they want or what fields they will go into in a vacuum. They research and consult friends and family. And many teacher friends and family, at least the ones I know, I telling prospective teachers to "run for the hills."

    This is at least part of the reason for the "shortage" and an interesting train of reporting that I'd have thought you might want to investigate.

    I guess not.

    Harris L.
    Yonkers, NY

    1. Well said, Harris. She's been under attack on twitter all day. Terrible reporting, just terrible.

  6. Harris touches on something that goes on every day -- teachers tell their friends and prospective teachers to stay away. 4 million teachers and many of them so turned off. And TFA fading too as cache is broken and no longer a hot thing as friends of teachers on campus challenge them.

  7. Hey Ms. Rich, the likable and very serious team member who took care of us at an Apple store in MA, graduated five years ago with a Masters degree in music education. He worked at the Apple store while pursuing his education degree. Married, with a young child, he has opted to continue working at Apple, instead of launching his teaching career.
    Why would anyone choose to subject themself to the lack of dignity, teacher bashing, and targeted intent to destroy both public education and teaching careers?
    Clearly, your own research is sorely lacking when you present a narrow, biased perspective on the coming national crisis.

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