A good first step effort, but as always, the D.E.V.I.L. (Distraction; Evasion; Vacuity; Incompleteness; and (intellectual and moral) Laziness); is in the details, and will in the end weaken this effort, and guarantee that it maintains a diminished and limited capacity for success. It will also leave our “two-tiered” intellectual apartheid system in place. One can only wonder how many children will be lost in this creeping and slow journey to get to what we know must be done to insure that all children have a chance at a quality education? The AFT “sign-off” suggest that this will be a dog that barks loudly, but in reality lacks even the potential teeth to bite. As long as “unqualified” does not really have a quality of practice definition attached to it; as long as we avoid the defining of: “what is good teaching?”; and then separate new, or veteran folks who don’t practice it, away from the children; we will continue to see the same sad and bad results for targeted segments of the U.S. school population. Once we identify our best practitioners, we must pay them (like we mean what we say about the importance of education) well; and provide them with safe, productive and inspiring learning environments; schools with encouraging and fulfilling cultural habits. To really do this job right, we must insure that every American child has access to a rich and inspiring educational experience; which means we cannot guarantee a “tenured” job for everyone who believes that education is the best field for them. The focus should be on recruiting, retaining and professionally developing good practitioners, regardless of “time on the job”. And here I agree with The New Teacher Project spokesperson who says: “There are going to be inexperienced teachers who are quite effective,”… “And there are going to be some experienced teachers who are quite ineffective.” Certification in the areas of content and teaching methodology is absolutely critical; but certification (like any professional license); speaks to exposure (course and test taking) and not the spirit, heart and mind that produces competence, professional ethics and, more important an interest in being excellent. This initiative with all of its positives continues the terrible trend in public education of avoiding the obvious, the easy, but morally difficult thing to do. As long as: The children of the politically and/or financially endowed; the parent-educated and resource rich children, who “picked” the right parents; the student for whom zip-code has determined a promise of a positive future; have an advantage of a decision made in their behalf, somewhere by some persons of power; and that decision is that: The educational well-being of their children will not be subordinated to the employment interest of any adult. In the end that is the most important initiative Presidential or otherwise that can be introduced; and as long as the children of disenfranchisement, poverty and color, don’t have powerful people, who can make that decision in their behalf, we will continue to work on the politically safe edges of the problem.
“The Obama administration is directing states to show how they will ensure that all students have equal access to high-quality teachers, with a sharp focus on schools with a high proportion of the poor and racial minorities.
In a letter to state superintendents released Monday, Deborah S. Delisle, an assistant secretary at the Department of Education, said states must develop plans by next June that make sure that public schools comply with existing federal law requiring that “poor and minority children are not taught at higher rates than other children by inexperienced, unqualified or out-of-field teachers.”
States last submitted plans to address such inequities in 2006, but data shows that large disparities persist.
“It is important to remind our states that one step in front of the other is the way to begin to deliver for all our students,” said Catherine Lhamon, assistant secretary for civil rights, in a conference call with reporters. “We are all dismayed by the lack of compliance and lack of satisfaction and delivery on this point.”
The Education Department will send each state data collected by the department’s Office for Civil Rights showing rates of teacher experience, certification, absenteeism and salary by school as well as student access to taxpayer-funded preschool and advanced courses in math and science.
The administration is also urging states to look at teacher evaluations to determine whether those who receive lower ratings are disproportionately assigned to schools with high proportions of racial minorities and students in poverty.
But the only requirement of states is that they ensure that teachers are equitably distributed based on experience and credentials.
Education advocates said such measures could limit improvements in the quality of instruction in struggling schools.
“There are going to be inexperienced teachers who are quite effective,” said Timothy Daly, the president of TNTP, formerly the New Teacher Project, a nonprofit that recruits teachers, “and there are going to be some experienced teachers who are quite ineffective.”
In an increasingly rare show of agreement with the Obama administration, Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, the country’s second largest teachers’ union, welcomed the guidance.
“We’re supporting this process because the rhetoric around this process has changed from ‘Just come up with the data and we will sanction you if the data doesn’t look right,’ ” Ms. Weingarten said in a telephone interview, “to ‘What’s the plan to attract and support and retain qualified and well-prepared teachers for the kids who need it most.’ ”
But other education advocates said they were concerned that the guidance could lack teeth. “The very real risk is that this just becomes a big compliance paperwork exercise,” said Daria Hall, K-12 policy director at the Education Trust, a nonprofit group that advocates for racial minority students and low-income children, “and nothing actually happens on behalf of kids.”
Terry Holliday, Kentucky’s commissioner of education, said states could set policies that would make some federal funding contingent on districts complying with the guidance. “The feds, kind of between the lines, are saying, ‘States, we want you to take more action’ ” and “ ‘You can certainly utilize all of these federal funding streams to incentivize or penalize.’ ”
School administrators said that given union contracts and other factors, simply looking at how teachers are placed is not sufficient.
It is not enough to “just find the best teachers and best principals and put them where they need to be,” said Joshua Starr, superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland. He said districts needed to think about creating supportive school cultures.
“A teacher works in an ecosystem,” he said.”