How To Encourage Life-Long Educators?

This has been on my mind a lot lately as I recently spoke to Ari’s first grade teacher, who just wrote a book and does not want to return to teaching. He is a phenomenal teacher, human being and was beloved by his colleagues and students, including my son, who misses seeing him at the school.

He is also a trilingual Latino male with decades of teaching experience, a rarity that is so needed in our schools!

All of this was fresh on my mind as I waded through a cesspool of anti-teacher comments in a USA Today story co-authored by the leaders of the National Education Association and Teach for America. There were gems like this one:

Best way to imporve the quality of teachers…fire about 1/3 to 1/2 of them because they are terrible teachers….Many of the teachers now employed as teachers would have a difficult time finding another job elsewhere.

Really, dude? From what I have seen, many people don’t stick with the profession because they can get more money and respect elsewhere. See Ari’s teacher as an example.

There were a lot of issues with the USA Today article, which was about how teacher preparation was key for exceptional teacher performance in the classroom. As Teacherken at Daily Kos pointed out, Teach for America certainly has no legs to stand on as it invests only five weeks of preparation for new teachers, and usually, these folks are out and in the private sector after two years on the job. Why invest in new teachers if they aren’t going to stick with the profession? This seems like a bad investment, and also bad for our kids who get attached to teachers to only see them leave a year or two later.

From what I have seen at our now six-year-old school, teacher — and staff! — stability is essential for the stability of a school, but also creates a sense of permanence and community at the school. I would hate for this teacher-bashing to scare away some of the best members of our community.

How important is teacher stability to you?


Tuesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

This week is American Education Week. And National Education Association Vice President Lily Eskelsen had tips on how parents can aid their children’s education. Do you volunteer at your child’s school? is collecting blog posts and stories urging Congress to extended unemployment benefits. I helped collect stories, including from my mom, Elisanta Batista, and childhood friend in Florida, Teresa Rey. Surely, they are not the only ones feeling the heat this recession. If you, or anyone you know, would like to submit a story please let me know: elisa at mothertalkers dot com. Let’s not leave folks in the cold this Thanksgiving. Thanks!

The Center for Health, Environment & Justice just put Toys R Us on notice for failing to phase out toxic PVC-laden plastic toys. The website is helpful in that it features many of the popular toys with the synthetic chemical.

In celebrity gossip break: two of the 6-year-old Gosselin sextuplets have allegedly been expelled from their private school in Pennsylvania and are now being homeschooled, according to the New York Post.

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?


Teachers Union on Education Under Republican Leadership

The National Education Association released a statement on what the American public can expect of public schools under the leadership of House Republicans. Read on:

The congressional election results will impact education-related issues. In the House, the change in Party leadership means that new Chairs will step into leadership roles on key Committees, with different priorities and policies on education than the previous leadership. In the Senate, while Democrats will retain Committee control, tighter vote margins will impact the ability to pass legislation.

On education specifically, Congress will have to tackle two main issues: —revising No Child Left Behind and setting spending priorities for critical programs and services affecting students and working families, programs such as early childhood education, Head Start, college loans for deserving students, and many others. Students woke up Wednesday morning still deserving the best our nation can offer them. Regardless of the outcome of the elections, every student still needs a great public school to fulfill his or her greatest dreams. NEA stands ready to work with the new Congress to put students first and ensure that education is the engine that moves America forward.

Education policy/ESEA Reauthorization:

The new Speaker of the House is expected to be Representative John Boehner (R-OH) and Representative John Kline (R-MN) is expected to serve as the Chair of the House Education and Labor Committee. Under their leadership, Republicans are likely to be more focused on local control of school systems and local decision making. This week, Representative Kline outlined broad-based priorities for education and employment policy, including “pursuing education reform that restores local control, empowers parents, lets teachers teach, and protects taxpayers.“ Representative Kline has also been a supporter of full funding for special education. Areas that NEA will be watching closely will include proposals for private school vouchers and increased support for charter schools.

Education Funding:

RepresentativePaul Ryan (R-WI), a rising star in GOP who has burnished his credentials as a fiscal hawk is likely to serve as Chair of the House Budget Committee, while either Representative Hal Rogers (R-KY) or Representative Jerry Lewis (R-CA), past chairman of the Appropriations Committee, could serve as Appropriations Chair. Republicans are expected to push hard on spending and are likely to propose dramatic cuts to education and other domestic priorities. Already, would-be Speaker of the House John Boehner has proposed cutting all non-defense federal spending to FY2008 levels.

I have heard that some school districts had braced themselves for a change in leadership or loss of funding for schools. What’s been the reaction of your school district to the elections?


Wednesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

We are always talking education here, so I thought I’d let you know of a cool education blog — actually, a series of cool education blogs — started by the George Lucas Educational Foundation. It’s called Edutopia.

Since we are on the topic, why not open it up? What other cool education blogs do you read? Another one that I know of is Lily’s Blackboard, which was started by National Education Association Vice President Lily Eskelsen.

In non-education news, the Census has found that the United States claims the largest gap between the richest and poorest Americans in its history, and the largest gap among Western industrialized nations.

From the Associated Press:

The top-earning 20 percent of Americans — those making more than $100,000 each year — received 49.4 percent of all income generated in the U.S., compared with the 3.4 percent earned by those below the poverty line, according to newly released census figures.

That ratio of 14.5 was an increase from 13.6 in 2008 and nearly double a low of 7.69 in 1968.

A different measure, the international Gini index, found U.S. income inequality at its highest level since the Census Bureau began tracking household income in 1967.

The U.S. also has the greatest disparity among Western industrialized nations.

At the top, the wealthiest 5 percent of Americans who earn more than $180,000 added slightly to their annual incomes last year, census data show.

Families at the $50,000 median level slipped lower….

“More than other countries, we have a very unequal income distribution where compensation goes to the top in a winner-takes-all economy.” Lower-skilled adults ages 18 to 34 had the largest jumps in poverty last year as employers kept or hired older workers for the dwindling jobs available, Smeeding said.

The declining economic fortunes have caused many unemployed young Americans to double-up in housing with parents, friends and loved ones, with potential problems for the labor market if they don’t get needed training for future jobs, he said.

Something I learned at the Coffee Party Convention this weekend is that work is taxed at 35 percent, and capital gains (wealth) at 15 percent. Sounds like Reaganomics isn’t working too well for us here…

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?