Will The Changing Education Landscape Contribute To Innovation For Teaching as a Profession

As a whole, the charter school movement has moved far away from the original idea of teacher-led laboratory schools that would encourage good teachers to stick with the profession. 

But like my teacher always told me, there is a lesson to be learned even in failure. The question is, will public schools be rendered even more irrelevant by allowing themselves to be "left behind" by ignoring a good business principle like "employee empowerment and input"? 


Schools like Avalon School in St. Paul, Minnesota, and IDEAL School in Milwaukee, WI, empower teachers by radically rethinking school governance and putting teachers in charge of administrative functions. 

Other charter schools like City Neighbors Charter School in Baltimore, Maryland, give teachers representation on the governing board. High Tech High network in San Diego includes teachers in staff hiring committees and builds time for teacher-administrator collaboration into the start of each school day.

The cost of a management-focused model for charter schools appears to be increased teacher turnover, which can in turn harm student learning (Ronfeldt, Lankford, Loeb, & Wyckoff, 2011). As of 2012-2013, annual teacher turnover in charter schools was 17% higher than in district schools: 18.4% vs. 15.7% (Goldring, Taie, & Riddles, 2014). 

A 2012 analysis suggested that a key factor in the higher turnover rates seen in charter schools may be teacher frustrations.  Among teachers who left the teaching profession, 19% of teachers from charter schools cited dissatisfaction with the school as their main reason for leaving, compared to just 7% of teachers from district schools.

 Among teachers who moved to another school at the end of the year, 13% of teachers who had been in charter schools cited a better salary or benefits package as their main reason for moving, compared to 6% of teachers from district schools (Stuit & Smith, 2012).

Some charter school networks, such as Rocketship Education, have argued that high teacher turnover is not an issue as long as their schools post strong student test scores and rely on recruitment partners such as Teach for America to bring in a steady stream of new teachers (Whitmire, 2014). But there are reasons to worry about high teacher turnover even in networks where student test scores are high and replacement teachers are plentiful.

 The easiest way to make high teacher turnover work without sacrificing student test scores is to have very prescriptive guidelines to bring first-year teachers up to speed. However, if teachers are following recipes, will they be able to teach higher-order skills such as critical thinking, collaboration, and problem solving, which are not always captured in standardized tests? 

Furthermore, constant churn weakens an organization’s culture. If teachers feel like they are highly replaceable cogs in a machine, a school network might start to lack the internal support it needs to function well.

The KIPP charter school network, where about one in three teachers left the classroom in 2012–2013, has begun offering on-site childcare for employees at some of its schools (Monahan, 2014). 

Cesar Chavez Public Charter Schools for Public Policy in Washington, D.C., which suffered roughly 50% teacher turnover in 2008–2009, has created a number of new channels for teacher input in hopes of reducing teacher turnover to 20% (Kahlenberg & Potter, 2014).

Schools like Avalon School in St. Paul, Minnesota, and IDEAL School in Milwaukee, WI, empower teachers by radically rethinking school governance and putting teachers in charge of administrative functions.

Other charter schools like City Neighbors Charter School in Baltimore, Maryland, give teachers representation on the governing board.

 High Tech High network in San Diego includes teachers in staff hiring committees and builds time for teacher-administrator collaboration into the start of each school day.

The privatization movement's lack of respect for teaching credentials and experience and its push for teacher accountability systems actually reduces effectiveness while it punishes teachers for low student test scores.  Traditional public school systems have done their part in reducing the availability of effective teachers with their top-heavy administration and heavy-handed management style.  

If any schools are expected to survive and deliver to the public their expectation for an educated society, an essential element must be the teacher.  In addition to recognizing the already changed requirements for teaching methodology in the 21st Century "classroom," policymakers and educators have to re-think teaching and respect the importance of that profession. 

Taken from: http://www.tcrecord.org/Content.asp?ContentID=17890

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