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Sunday, January 13, 2019

This and That

Lin-Manuel Miranda hears from his 8th grade teacher via CBS News.   Miranda had turned in a play or musical for a homework assignment and the teacher, Dr. Rembert Herbert, told Miranda that he had a special talent and "to stop hibernating at the back of my class."  Miranda, a former substitute teacher, says that turned him around.

Teachers matter.

Speaking of teachers, a more conservative blog, Education Next,  had this op-ed about the teacher shortage by Chester Finn.  He says: 
There’s no mechanism for calibrating teacher supply to the demand via either the preparation pipeline or the compensation system. That’s why we face (in most places) a surfeit of generic elementary teachers but a shortage of special-ed, math, and science teachers. Most of our colleges of education encourage people to enroll in whatever they think suits them, not the fields with particular shortages, and public education’s union-enforced refusal to pay differentially means that the middle school gym teacher earns as much as the high school physics teacher. Given what’s going on in the rest of the economy, that’s certain to result in a plentitude of the former and a dearth of the latter.
This, of course, is akin to the movement to get rid of liberal arts degrees at colleges and universities.  It also is disrespectful to PE teachers.  (Finn also says that teachers work "those six-hour school days and long vacations."  I have to laugh - I know very, very few teachers who work 6-hour days during the school year.
The main culprit here, as I’ve written before, is our long-standing proclivity to hire more teachers rather than better-compensating those we’ve got. Insofar as paying more generous salaries is a way to induce people to stick with jobs, and to attract abler, better-qualified people into those jobs, American public education has made decades of bad decisions, swelling its teaching ranks—nearing four million now—instead of settling for larger classes in return for smarter, abler, longer-serving—and more generously compensated—instructors.
But he also says this:
Finally, and most obviously, we throw endless unpleasantness into the paths of teachers, starting with policies that make it impossible for them to discipline (or evict) the malefactors in their classrooms. Inconveniences such as no classroom (or desk or computer terminal or parking space) of one’s own. Parents who don’t do their part—and complain when the teacher is too strict or doesn’t give enough A’s. Politicians who meddle with curriculum. And administrators (and policymakers) whose overemphasis on test scores in reading and math squeezes out other content, even as they promote into one’s class kids who are far below grade level. 
Thoughts?

A wonky article but one about an issue with real effects - how do we count the number of low-income students?  From U.S. News & World Report:
The number of poor students enrolled in a particular school or living in a certain school district is one of the most important education data points that exists, and the stakes are high for getting the count right.
The figures are used to direct billions of dollars in federal and state aid, and they're a pillar of K-12 accountability systems that ensure disadvantaged students are keeping up with their wealthier peers.

For decades, school districts have relied on the number of students enrolled in the school lunch program in order to identify which specific schools are serving the most poor students.

Approximately 1 in every 5 schools eligible to offer free lunches to all of their students under the provision does so, research shows. And the result is startling: The share of students receiving a subsidized lunch increased from less than 35 percent in 1990 to more than 50 percent today, even though the share of children who grow up in low-income families has not changed over the same time period.

Stuck between a rock and a hard place, some states are experimenting with new measurements in an effort to more honestly capture the number of low-income students schools and districts serve, especially states currently considering new K-12 funding systems focused on more equitably funding schools with large concentrations of poor students.

That's the case playing out in Maryland right now, where a working group is in the process of adopting a new funding formula that includes a new way to count poor students – one that requires schools to obtain income data from students enrolled in districts where all students are given free meals. 
"Any method of determining a proxy for poverty will have tremendous implications," Baltimore City Public School officials, who oppose the proposed count, wrote to the chairman of the working group at the beginning of this school year. "This type of action would put vital state funding for districts at risk."

3 comments:

Carol Simmons said...

Many thanks to people who testified at the last Board meeting. Director Burke looked Presidential and did a nice job. There were interesting comments made about the "intentionality" of the Strategic Plan, however it remains that many key stakeholders were not included in the Steering committee membership. It is extremely frustrating that the continued racial imbalance at Magnolia Elementary still exists, but kudos to Chris Jackins for his comments, Melissa for student Survey concerns, Director Pinkham for his reminder about Licton Springs and Director Mack for her questions regarding the "cap" on the number of retrieval courses a student could take. Clarification still needs to be made about Competency Based Credit policies and the Pass or no pass/hardship language and the rationale for why students are not given as many times as necessary to be successful.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I guess it time to..."Get back to learning"

Still waiting

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