More and more United States schools are having to import international teachers to fill faculty vacancies.
First of all, I have no objections to Filipino teachers coming to USA to teach in American schools. One of the best professors I know is my colleague Aida from the Philippines. She gives 120% of herself to her teaching and students. Smart, smart educator and with a law degree, too!
What I do have an objection to is that no one has listened enough to act on what the current high-stakes testing trends are doing to the profession of teaching. Superintendent of Casa Grande High School in Arizona had 19 teacher openings and not a single applicant. The state has 527 unfilled positions 25% into the year and is listed at ‘the crisis level’ officially. Superintendent Goodsell had to troll Skype to find teachers in the Phillipines, finally hiring 11 new teachers willing to move to the US on 3 year visas to help fill openings. Arizona is showing the strain because they pay their teachers like some states pay aides, yet expect more.
[Start: Quote from District Administrator periodical: Submitted by Ariana Fine Thursday, October 2, 2014, The Arizona Republic newspaper]
“Observers like Deb Duvall, executive director of the school administrators association, and Mari Koerner, dean of Arizona State University’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, say that because the economy has improved, many are leaving teaching for jobs that pay more and are less stressful.
“You can do almost anything else for $30,000,” Koerner said. “Your salary is a sign of how much you are valued. A low salary means you are not valued, that you are easily replaceable.”
In 2012, the most-recent year for which numbers were available, the average starting salary for an Arizona public-school teacher was $31,874, according to the Arizona Education Association, the state’s branch of the National Education Association.
Duvall said increasing pressure on teachers to spend time collecting student-performance data and drilling students to perform well on standardized tests also is driving some from the profession.
“Many people go into teaching because they want to interact with students,” she said. “But there is less time for that.””
A graduate student of mine, an active teacher, recently told me that in her Wisconsin school they spend six-weeks drilling for state tests. “Plus every teacher’s professional day is about increasing test scores. Every parent-teacher conference is about increasing test scores,” she states.
Test scores are becoming God in education.
Ever wonder if it is all worthwhile? Ever wonder if a single test score truly measures learning about how to be successful at life – the real purpose of education? How did this happen? Do you think it was astute, intelligent educators who decided for our kids that testing on common core standards was the answer to low school performance? No, it was not. It was politicians’ anxious posturing and corporate America’s greed – seeing education as the last cash cow in the USA – that has driven us to this supposed “accountability movement” in our country. A LOT of money is being made by setting up education as a game to be won.
So, what is wrong with that? Some cramming and testing and we find out who the crappy teachers are and weed them out! Right? Let us examine this for a moment.
Tell me: What makes up a race? How do you define a race, whether a 1000 meter foot race in track or a 500 mile car race on a track, or any competitive sport like that? What is a race composed of? Correct! A winner and a bunch of losers. Those are the components of a race. One winner, but mostly losers. When Arne Duncan announced that instead of No Child Left Behind we would have ‘A Race to the Top’ my heart dropped. He had just created a playing field REQUIRING a bunch of losers. The game was a set up to make more losers than winners. Nice thoughtless move, Mr. Duncan.
To make it worse, any ed. researcher will tell you that all that work to crank out a minority of winners is worth – well, not much even if it is valid (measuring what you want it to measure) and reliable (consistent in that measurement). While you are struggling to get a high mark on a standardized test, whose value is highly questionable, what else are you missing out on? What could you be learning that would support you in having a successful life?
And think on this: All statistics in anything, including education, rests on distance from the average. We measure to see if things are better, worse or stayed the same and by how much compared to the average score. Now, assuming that a test score contributes anything towards a student’s life of possible success, we average the scores and measure how far junior is from the average. Stop right there: As soon as you designate the “average score” know that 50% of the scores (representing people) MUST be designated as “below average”. That is what the average is. The average IQ is 100: Half of the population has an IQ below average. Half of anything is below average. Half the drivers are below average. Half the lovers are below average. Half the population is shorter than average. We set the playing field to deliberately create that shockingly (yet highly predictable) inferior group labeled “below average.” Shudder, shame, shudder.
We are not THINKING! Education is supposed to make us better THINKERS.
Oh, but I forgot for a second: Half of us are below average thinkers…don’t expect anything from us until we put on those thinking caps we crammed for!
Anthony Dallmann-Jones – Editor
*Arizona starts teachers with a take home pay of about $26,000 a year. How do you live, as a college graduate professional, on $500 a week – usually with college loans to pay on, car payments, rent and living expenses? Not very well. After about 15 years of teaching you reach the average top level in Arizona teacher pay: About $100 a week higher from your take home pay as a starting teacher a decade and a half earlier. Meanwhile, the cost of living has gone up 10 – 15%. It is not difficult to understand why many smart teachers are flocking away from the educational profession, is it? No respect, low pay, and lots of drilling with discouraged, bored students for tests no one enjoys preparing for or taking and whose results are fairly useless.
NOTE: Special Recognition goes out to ZAK, popular comic/cartoonist, for his contribution in this months Editorial to this website’s cause to bring sanity to education.