The NYT ran an op-ed today (Train Teachers Like Doctors by Shael Polakow-Suransky, Josh Thomases, and Karen Demoss). Their lead paragraph says it all:
“America is facing a wave of teacher shortages that threatens our ability to deliver on the promise of quality education. Baby boomer retirements and high rates of teacher turnover, coupled with steep drops in enrollment in teacher-preparation programs, have contributed to this growing crisis. Some states, like California, now have shortages in nearly every subject area, affecting students across the state.”
So, a “wave of teacher shortages” … and the need is for better teacher training? WTF?
How about we stop demonizing teachers? How about we treat them like credentialed professionals? How about we pay them like doctors? None of these ideas occurred to the authors.
Let me make this simple with a bit of an historical outlook. Being a teacher has been attractive to intellectuals who were by and large introverts, people who didn’t want to have to go out and battle for their wages on a daily basis. They would accept less salary than people who were equivalently educated, with the promise of a better retirement program sweetening the deal. For a very long time, teaching had the social draw of being an “acceptable” profession for women. So, many of the best and brightest teachers were females otherwise denied opportunities.
When the job prospects of women opened up (finally!) there was a huge brain drain as over-qualified women left the profession for board rooms, executive suites, engineering offices, etc. This drain was met with what. . . ? Certainly no organized response was made. The well that typically produced teachers was just pumped harder. The result was inevitable, less qualified people were hired. (This is not the teacher’s fault; they were replacing people who were quite over qualified!)
Come to the present time, in a move fueled by ignorance and rapacious greed, “entrepreneurs” have discovered the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that is the vast amount of money spent by the public on education. They bolster their efforts to take over a significant portion of the education money pie by lying, these assholes (entrepreneur is too pretty a word) have drummed the beat of a false narrative—“Our schools are failing, our schools are failing!”—which is ostensibly untrue. They have used discredited arguments over and over which shows their true intent: to get to that money by hook or crook.
There had to be a reason for “our schools are failing, our schools are failing” and they picked teachers as an easy mark. Not just teachers, but “bad” teachers, a designation which allowed virtually all teachers to conclude that they weren’t talking about them. Teachers and their unions also tend to vote Liberal, which also fuels the efforts to discredit them by wealthy actors.
So, teachers have been harangued with the false narrative that “our schools are failing, our schools are failing” and the reason is “teachers.” Consequently all manner of ill-advised schemes have come in to “evaluate” teachers, to identify the bad ones and get them out. This has lead to a huge increase in standardized testing (and huge profits for testing companies, gosh) with the test scores telling us … what? Apparently nothing we didn’t already know, so that money just went down the toilet … uh, but while it was being done it demoralized both teachers and students. Well, the students can’t quit, can’t walk out, but teachers have in droves.
And now there are huge teacher shortages.
And the solution is … better training.
Ha, ha, ha, hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha….
We could accept the poor pay, but strip away the better pensions, and make our lives in the classroom and society in general miserable, well, you are going to have to pay us like doctors to get us back.