Wednesday, June 27, 2007

TFA and Teacher Retention

Barnett Barry who runs the Center for Teaching Quality has a thoughtful post at his blog about Teach for America and the tendency of TFA teachers to leave teaching as soon as their two-year commitment is up:
Finding a Better Way to Recruit, Prepare, and Retain Good Teachers

This past week both the Washington Post and CNN posted stories on Teach for America (TFA). Since its inception in 1990, TFA has done a great deal of important work to recruit elite universities’ graduates, entice them to teach in the most underserved communities, and encourage them to bring energy and commitment to school reform. Last year, 17,000 college graduates applied for the program, including 12 percent of Yale’s graduating seniors. Only one in eight TFA applicants was selected for the program. With our nation’s public schools needing to hire 200,000 new teachers annually, why not TFA?

However, TFA’s five-week crash preparation program and its two-year enlistment commitment do not work in the long-term interest of the children. Because of its truncated training regime, TFA recruits do not learn much about teaching literacy, developing and using new assessments, and working with students whose first language is not English.

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Teacher Shortage?

Here's a piece from The Washington Post about teacher shortages. It seems as though we've been hearing the same story for years, but my sense is that the supply of teachers varies widely by region, grade level, and subject matter. What's the job market like in your area?

Schools Pinched In Hiring

Teacher Shortage Looms As Law Raises Bar and Boomer Women Retire

Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 24, 2007; Page A01

As hundreds of thousands of baby boomers retire and the No Child Left Behind law raises standards for new teachers, school systems across the country are facing a growing scarcity of qualified recruits.

A labor force that for generations cushioned teacher shortages and kept salaries relatively low is disappearing. Three-quarters of the nation's more than 3 million public school teachers are women, a figure that has changed little over four decades. But in that time, women have become more educated, with more career choices than ever. So far, schools are not faring well on the open market.

More here.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Support for Teacher Education?

This could be important, provided it gets funded at a meaningful level and doesn't have too many strings attached.

From Education Week, June 20, 2007
Senate Panel OKs Higher Education Bills Aimed at Boosting Teacher Preparation, College Access
By Alyson Klein

The Senate education committee today approved sweeping bills aimed at encouraging colleges to partner with struggling school districts to provide extensive classroom experience for prospective teachers, and boosting college access for disadvantaged students.

The teacher-training provision, part of a broad, long-awaited measure reauthorizing the Higher Education Act, would combine the three current grant programs that help states and universities prepare and recruit K-12 teachers into a single initiative that would enable colleges to collaborate with high-need districts.

Under the legislation, which the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee approved on a bipartisan vote of 20-0, colleges and districts would receive grants to enable master’s degree students to spend one year working alongside effective mentor teachers in high-need schools while the students took their graduate-level education courses.

More here.

Thursday, June 21, 2007


From the Associated Press:
2,300 schools face 'No Child' overhaul

By NANCY ZUCKERBROD, AP Education Writer Wed Jun 20

NEW YORK - The scarlet letter in education these days is an "R." It stands for restructuring — the purgatory that schools are pushed into if they fail to meet testing goals for six straight years under the No Child Left Behind law.

Nationwide, about 2,300 schools are either in restructuring or are a year away and planning for such drastic action as firing the principal and moving many of the teachers, according to a database provided to The Associated Press by the Education Department. Those schools are being warily eyed by educators elsewhere as the law's consequences begin to hit home.

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Report on NCLB Assessment and Accountability

The Forum on Educational Accountability (of which NCTE is a member) has released a report on "Assessment and Accountability for Improving Schools and Learning." It argues that changes must be made to NCLB's assessment and accountability system to make it more inclusive and fair. You can download the executive summary or the entire report. You can also read Margaret Spellings' response.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

CEE Election Results

The results are in!


CEE Executive Committee (four-year terms)
Gina DeBlase, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan
Marshall A. George, Fordham University, New York, New York
Alleen Pace Nilsen, Arizona State University, Tempe

2007-2008 CEE Nominating Committee
Ken Lindblom, State University of New York Stony Brook
Lisa Schade Eckert, Montana State University, Bozeman
Crag Hill, Moscow High School, Moscow, Idaho
Melanie Shoffner, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana
Sharilyn Steadman, Florida State University, Tallahassee

Congratulations to all.

Urban Legend?

Half of all new teachers leave in the first five years? According to Bess Keller of Education Week, maybe not.

NCATE and Social Justice

This month's Rethinking Schools has the most detailed account I've seen so far about the NCATE/"social justice" controversy:

Do Ask, Do Tell

What's professional about taking social justice and sexual orientation out of classrooms?

By Therese Quinn and Erica Meiners

In the fall of 2006, the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) solicited feedback on proposed revisions to its "Professional Standards, 2002 Edition." The organization responsible for accrediting colleges and programs for teacher education wanted to erase the phrase "social justice" and facilitate the de facto elimination of sexual orientation through the addition of various phrases and qualifiers.

While NCATE's deletion of social justice was clear and outright, the way it has marginalized sexual orientation is more complicated, or perhaps just really sneaky. Sexual orientation is included in the Standards' glossary definition of diversity, but the 2006 revisions added this text to the definition: "The types of diversity necessary for addressing the elements on candidate interactions with diverse faculty, candidates, and pre-K–12 students are stated in the rubrics for those elements."

Read the rest here.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Reading First Budget Cut

From Education Week:
House Panel Votes to Slash 'Reading First' Aid

By David J. Hoff

House Democrats want to
put their own stamp on federal education spending by increasing Title I and other programs they favor and slashing Reading First and other priorities set by President Bush.

In the $56 billion fiscal 2008 spending bill for the Department of Education unveiled by the Democrats, No Child Left Behind Act programs would receive a $2 billion increase, with the Title I program for disadvantaged students receiving $1.5 billion of that.

But the $1.03 billion Reading First program—which the Bush administration points to as one of its biggest accomplishments under the NCLB law—would take a cut of $630 million, or 61 percent. What’s more, the administration’s latest proposals for private school vouchers and new mathematics programs would not be funded at all.

Read the rest here (registration required).

NCLB Potpourri

There are several items about NCLB making the rounds this week. The one that's getting the most notice is the report from the Center on Education Policy ("Answering the Question that Matters Most: Has Student Achievement Increased Since No Child Left Behind?"). What the report actually says is that it's hard to tell, but with reports like this, the headlines may matter more than the substance: "Scores Up Since 'No Child' Was Signed" (Washington Post) and "New Study Finds Gains Since No Child Left Behind" (NY Times). There's also a report from NCES that focuses on how widely the proficiency levels on state tests vary (using NAEP as a benchmark). But the most important piece in the long run may be James Crawford's in Education Week, "A Diminished Vision of Civil Rights" (registration required). In it, Crawford discusses the shift from the term "equal educational opportunity" to "achievement gap":

What’s the significance of this shift in terminology? Achievement gap is all about measurable “outputs”—standardized-test scores—and not about equalizing resources, addressing poverty, combating segregation, or guaranteeing children an opportunity to learn. The No Child Left Behind Act is silent on such matters. Dropping equal educational opportunity, which highlights the role of inputs, has a subtle but powerful effect on how we think about accountability. It shifts the entire burden of reform from legislators and policymakers to teachers and kids and schools.

By implication, educators are the obstacle to change. Every mandate of No Child Left Behind—and there are hundreds—is designed to force the people who run our schools to shape up, work harder, raise expectations, and stop “making excuses” for low test scores, or face the consequences. Despite the law’s oft-stated reverence for “scientifically based research,” this narrow approach is contradicted by numerous studies documenting the importance of social and economic factors in children’s academic progress. Yet it has the advantage of enabling politicians to ignore the difficult issues and avoid costly remedies. If educators are the obstacle, there’s no need to address what Jonathan Kozol calls the “savage inequalities” of our educational system and our society.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

At the CEE Summit

Thanks to Les Burns for this photo of Friday's panel (Peter Smagorinsky, Cathy Fleischer, David Stewart, and Ernest Morrell) seated beneath a sunlit dove at the Summit. I'll send a free book to whoever comes up with the best (funniest, cleverest) caption.

Monday, June 04, 2007

What's in a Name?

One issue that came up near the end of the CEE Summit is our name, the "Conference on English Education." Is that the name that will carry us into the future? I know from discussions I've had with members over the years that some think it doesn't adequately reflect our focus on teacher education, some think it's not inviting to those who work at the elementary level (where the term "language arts" is more common), some think the word "English" carries with it a tinge of "English-only," and some think to lose "English" would be to lose our connection to English departments. A few years ago NCTE had a discussion about changing the NCTE name. They/we ended up leaving the name the same--National Council of Teachers of English--but the tag line that now follows--"A Professional Association of Educators in English Studies, Literacy, and Language Arts"--was added. (At least I think that's how it happened.)

So what do you think about CEE as a name for the organization? Change it or keep it the same or . . . ?

CEE Summit

If you want to know what happened at the CEE Summit, you needn't wait for me because Troy Hicks has it covered over at Digital Writing, Digital Teaching.