Academic journal article Education

Raising Teacher Salaries: The Funds Are There

Academic journal article Education

Raising Teacher Salaries: The Funds Are There

Article excerpt

The operational definition of a "fully qualified" new teacher is one who will not apply to teach where s/he is most needed and who will fail or quit if s/he does. Fifty eight percent of those who have been graduated from state approved teacher education programs and who have passed the required tests for licensure never take jobs. In my state this number has reached as high as 70 percent in a given year. And this is a gross under estimate in many states. In New York State for example, the SUNY system graduates between 16,000 and 17,000 teachers a year and none apply to work in New York City. The most frequently cited misquote in American education is, "Half of the beginning teachers quit or fail in their first five years." Wrong! If as many as half of those the colleges dub "fully qualified" actually deigned to take jobs in urban schools it would be a highly significant improvement. The number of "fully qualified" graduates who actually take teaching positions in the 120 largest urban districts serving diverse children in poverty is approximately 15 percent of the total number the colleges and universities turn out each year. This means that when half of this number quit or fail in five years or less, the colleges and universities are providing the 120 largest urban school districts with between seven and eight percent of the total annual output they prepare and pronounce "fully qualified" to teach all children. Imagine a factory producing television sets that had over 93 percent of them fall off the assembly line or not turn on when they were plugged in. Imagine further that the factory was able to keep doing this for half a century because it was supported with public funds. Might it be time to consider a new producer or should the same old factory receive hundreds of millions in federal grants annually to work harder and faster? So long as we continue to look to the colleges and universities running the same old assembly lines producing late adolescent and young adult females with little or no life or work experiences the outcome is highly predictable. "When you do what you always did, you get what you always got. 'Brains' are when you fail in a new way."

The turnover of failure/quitter teachers costs the public schools $2.6 billion every year. As mind boggling as this figure is, $2.6 billion is a substantial underestimate since it does not take into account the full costs to the school districts of their teacher turnover. In addition, this figure does not include the costs to these failure/quitters themselves (and to their families) of going to college to become teachers, or the costs to the public of supporting over 700 institutions of higher education which train these "fully qualified" individuals. Since each urban school district adds to the amounts they invest in teacher education beyond the funds that go directly for recruitment, selection and hiring, it is likely that the $2.6 billion is significantly less (perhaps as little as half) of the actual amount being spent by the school districts on maintaining a revolving door for quitter/failure teachers.

Taking funds intended for the teaching and learning of children and youth and using them for the recruitment, selection and education of teachers reaches the level of a monumental misappropriation when one considers specific urban districts. For example, the New York City Schools hire approximately 8,000 interns each year and pays $12,000 in tuition to local colleges for each of them to complete masters degrees in education. This $96 million dollars annually is not only a windfall to local universities but a misappropriation of tax-payer funds which were intended for the education of children and youth. I have recently visited NYC classrooms in which children have no writing paper let alone online computers. Paying for interns' masters degrees does not produce more effective teachers whose children learn more, nor any assurance that those completing these free masters degrees will remain as teachers in the district or in teaching. …

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