Education News Briefing 8-14

Education News Briefing 8-14

Your Education Briefing

By Danielle Bonnici

It’s been an eventful week in education news:

Teacher Shortage

A teacher shortage is putting a damper on “back to school”: The New York Times reports that there is a nationwide shortage of teachers, especially in math, science, special ed, and English as a second language.

The reasons are twofold: some blame the layoffs that occurred during the recession, others blame that the “image” of teaching is not enough to attract new teachers. Nationwide, there has been an over 30% decrease in enrollment in teaching programs; in some states that number is as high as 50%. The situation is so dire that some schools are hiring teachers who have not yet completed training. One teacher, who is still in graduate school, got hired after a brief phone call. 

In an Op-Ed, Frank Bruni says that teaching can’t compete with tech, finance, and other careers that offer more respect, autonomy, and salary.  Bruni points out that not only is there a decrease in those becoming teachers, there is the issue that 40% of those who do become teachers leave within five years.

The Washington Post shared an editorial from a former teacher, Stephanie, who feels she was driven from public education by a lack of autonomy, standardized tests, and the Common Core. Bruni proposes a not-so-novel solution: pay teachers more, listen to teacher voices about educational policy, and afford them the respect that they deserve. 

NYS Licensing Exam News

Look to the test: A federal judge ruled that the NYS teacher licensing exam, the ALST, is not discriminatory. In her ruling, Judge Kimba Wood states that the exam tests the skills necessary to be a good teacher. Elizabeth Harris reports that this judgment comes at a pivotal moment in teacher education: the drive to make certification more difficult, and the need to increase diversity in the profession. The ruling is the result of a lawsuit filed on behalf of teachers who failed the exam, a large percentage of whom are black and Hispanic. The defendants claimed the test was discriminatory because it “measures how eloquent a person is in the English language,” a skill that they argue is not necessary for being a good teacher.

However, many believe that Judge Wood’s decision is positive. Dennis Tompkins of the State Department says that the “decision reflects the efforts made by the department to demonstrate the validity of the ALST. Our students need and deserve the best qualified teachers possible, and the ALST helps make sure they get those teachers.” Whichever side you’re on, the safety net is in effect until June 30, 2016.

Start School at 7!

On a lighter note, imagine this: A world where children don’t begin school until they are seven years old, classes are less than six hours a day, there are no gifted programs, and no high-stakes testing- this is education in Finland. Krista Kiuru, the country’s education minister, says that education in Finland focuses on the whole child. In addition to academics, Finnish schools offer vocational classes, sports, and creative pursuits. Kiuri says that Finland views human capital as its most valuable resource, and schooling should focus on developing the potential of each and every student.

Finnish schools don’t just focus on subjects, but on life skills, building community, developing a positive self-image, and a sensitivity to others. Sounds like a great model to me- maybe US teachers should bring this up at the next policy meeting!

Danielle Bonnici is a program coordinator at CITE. Danielle is a certified teacher with nine years of experience teaching high school in New York City and abroad. She also loves yoga.

CITE is the Center for Integrated Training and Education . For over 25 years, CITE has and continues to train TEACHERS (Early Childhood, Literacy, Special Ed, Grad Courses, DASA); COUNSELORS (School, Mental Health Masters, Advanced Certificate); and ADMINISTRATORS (SBL, SDL, Public Admin, Online PhD) in all five boroughs of NYC, Yonkers, and Long Island.

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