Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Reflecting on longevity

This post and the previous one are dedicated to the current and former, dedicated-over-time, "true" teachers that my family has experienced so far during our OUSD years. Their names are listed at the bottom.


Yesterday, I compared the teacher salaries of eleven Alameda County school districts: Alameda, Albany, Berkeley, Castro Valley, Emery (Emeryville), Fremont, Hayward, Oakland, Piedmont, San Leandro, and San Lorenzo.


Today, I compared the amount of experience of the teachers in those same eleven districts. Here are the rankings:


  • Average number of years teaching: OUSD placed 9th at 11. 4 years. The longest was Piedmont at 15.3 years. The shortest was Emery at 6.7 years.
  • Average number of years in the district: OUSD placed 10th at 7.9 years. The longest was Fremont at 11.1 years, and the shortest was Emery at 4.3 years.
  • Percentage of first year teachers: OUSD placed 3rd at 11.7%. The district with the largest percentage of first year teachers was Albany at 28.2%, followed by Emery at 27.7%. The district with the smallest percentage of first year teachers was Piedmont at 1.7%.
  • Percentage of second year teachers: OUSD placed 3rd at 8.7%. The district with the largest percentage of second year teachers was San Lorenzo at 14.5%, followed by Castro Valley at 9.7%.
  • Percentage of first and second year teachers: OUSD placed 4th at 20.4%. During the time period of the most recent public data, one out of five OUSD teachers had been teaching for less than two years.

School District

Avg. Yrs.

Teaching

Avg. Yrs.

In District

%

1st Year

%

2nd Year

Total % 1st

& 2nd Year

Oakland

11.4

7.9

11.7

8.7

20.4

Emery

6.7

4.3

27.7

2.1

29.8

San Lorenzo

10.4

8.5

9.2

14.5

23.7

Alameda

11.5

10.1

10.1

5

15.1

Albany*

11.8

9.2

28.2

4.8

33

Castro Valley

12.1

9.3

7.6

9.7

17.3

Berkeley

12.9

8.9

5.8

6.6

12.3

Hayward

12.9

10.2

10

4.6

14.6

Fremont

13

11.1

3.5

5.1

8.6

San Leandro

13.2

9.4

5.4

5.1

10.5

Piedmont

15.3

10.9

1.7

1.7

3.4



THE BOTTOM FOUR DISTRICTS

  • The least experienced teachers
  • The lowest district longevity
  • The lowest starting salary

Avg. Yrs.

Teaching

Avg. Yrs.

In District

Lowest salary

offered

Alameda

Berkeley

Berkeley

Emery

Emery

Emery

Oakland

Oakland

Oakland

San Lorenzo

San Lorenzo

San Lorenzo



THE TOP FOUR DISTRICTS

  • The most experienced teachers
  • The highest district longevity
  • The highest potential salary

Avg. Yrs.

Teaching

Avg. Yrs.

In District

Highest salary

offered

Fremont

Fremont

Fremont

Hayward

Hayward

Hayward

San Leandro

Alameda

San Leandro

Piedmont

Piedmont

San Lorenzo


The scheme now being steadily employed by inner-city school districts across the nation is to replace as many of their career teachers as possible with 22-year-old teaching “temps.” These energetic, young, recent college graduates have a do-gooder mentality and are willing to work in the worst inner-city school situations for very little pay. It is also beneficial to school districts that these fill-ins are green to the world of work and have zero family obligations. Those qualities, and being able to constantly take comfort in knowing they are short-timers, means that they don't tend to get agitated and complain (see this related link). Their lack of experience and interest in the career of teaching would be completely unacceptable to middle-class parents using either private or dominantly middle-class schools, the type of parent who these "teachers" themselves will become one day.


Although they are good people, these inexperienced short-timers
are not true teachers and should be called something like “impermanent educational technicians” or "temporary student trainers."** Nannies, who certainly function as temporary, surrogate mothers, are not exactly referred to as “mothers," are they?


Let’s all just stop pretending and call it what it is. Despite the pronouncements requiring "highly qualified" teachers in our most challenging public schools, career teachers who are well-trained and experienced are not really longer wanted in the schools that need them most. To supply them to all students would cost more than US citizens are willing to pay.


So, the ed "reformers" have come up with a cheaper product that's being promoted for them by the media. Programs to create stopgap teachers, like Teach For America and Oakland Teaching Fellows, are on the rise. Their minimal preparation time is a benefit, too. For instance, TFA training only takes five weeks; OTF training takes six, and voilĂ , zee young, totally un-experienced teacher is ready to start work in zee most difficult classroom in zee entire school district!


The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language defines stopgap as an improvised substitute for something lacking; a temporary expedient. (Except I'm not sure the idea is that they'll be temporary. I'd rather like to see these teaching corps as a supplement to the classroom, not as replacements for teachers.)


So, despite the recent educational rhetoric about civil rights and not leaving any of the children behind, it is obvious to me that our social policy is concretely demonstrating every-single-day that it doesn't consider the kids in those schools to be worth much. So as to divert our attention away from that fact, it's become commonplace, and very, very big, to blame the "true" teachers for society's failings, and (based on an obsession with test scores) to declare that they are hopelessly incompetent in order to demoralize and drive them out. Simultaneously, a set of upper-middle-class 22-year-olds is nationally glorified as stepping in to "save the day."


Like my mother occasionally reminds me, "Just follow the money."


ABOUT THE TEACHERS BELOW:


I admired and trusted these teachers and was personally able to witness their patience, wisdom, generosity, steadfastness, creativity, dependability, and dedication towards children as they toiled along with inadequate support (except at Redwood Heights where they had quite a bit in those days). These are primarily the teachers who my daughters had, and because I worked at a school for seven years and have been a very active parent, I know of many more. How much personal experience have most of the people who bad-mouth OUSD and other urban public school teachers had with them at all?


All of the "true" teachers in this country need more respect, care, and reward. And to make all the accountability folks happy, wasn't it the teachers of OUSD who gave enough of their blood, sweat and tears to recently make the District into California's "most improved urban school district?" For this, and all the other things they do, they most definitely deserve a raise.


Here are their names and I honor them:


Mr. Allen (Skyline)

Ms. Bale (Skyline)

Dr. Brown (Skyline)

Ms. Brekke-Brownell (Redwood Heights)

Ms. Ceremello (Bret Harte)

Ms. Chisholm (Bret Harte)

Ms. Cooper (Redwood Heights)

Mr. Correa (Skyline)

Ms. Dinell (Bret Harte)

Ms. Erata (Bret Harte)

Mr. Fitzsimmons (Bret Harte)

Ms. Grimes (Bret Harte)

Ms. Hamadeh (Bret Harte)

Ms. Harris (Redwood Heights)

Ms. Henrikson (Skyline)

Mr. Jollymore (Skyline)

Ms. Luzar (Redwood Heights)

Ms. MacElwain (Skyline)

Ms. Maffeo (Bret Harte)

Mr. Mates (Skyline)

Ms. McCrary-Holmes (Skyline)

Mr. Miller (Skyline)

Ms. Morici (Skyline)

Ms. Olinga (Skyline)

Ms. Ostrom (Skyline)

Ms. Ream (Redwood Heights)

Mr. Richter (Skyline)

Ms. Rodezno (Redwood Heights)

Mr. Salazar (Bret Harte)

Ms. Schneider (Bret Harte)

Ms. Smiley (Redwood Heights)

Ms. Sutton (Bret Harte)

Ms. Swayne (Bret Harte)

Ms. Toland (Redwood Heights)

Mr. Tolliver (Skyline)

Ms. Wallach (Redwood Heights)

Ms. Warner (Bret Harte)

Ms. Wilson (Bret Harte)

Mr. Worm (Bret Harte)

Ms. Wright (Redwood Heights)

Ms. Yoshimura (Bret Harte)

Mr. Zak (Skyline)


*I don't know what is going on in Albany, a lovely community which is home to a lot of professionals, but the teacher retention of their school district has plummeted in the last five years or so. Go to EdData and pull up Albany Unified, then locate the Teacher Experience table and look at the "pop-trends" pull-down graphs. If you know why this has happened, please submit a comment on this post.


** Here are other entertaining options from Roget's Thesaurus for the word "temporary": transient, transitory, provisional, impermanent, momentary, brief, fleeting, short-lived, transitional, provisional, standby, fill-in, stopgap, and substitute.





3 comments:

The Perimeter Primate said...

Someone less critical of TFA and similar programs just said, "Bottom line, if we had plenty of qualified folks who wanted these jobs, TFA wouldn't have found an opening."

"These jobs" means trying to educate extremely challenging (and sometimes hostile) children, in poorly supported schools, for not much pay.

What's unappealing about that?

tauna said...

Thank you for your depth of insight into the Big Picture. Thank you for appreciating your children's teachers and taking the time to say so.

The Perimeter Primate said...

Manny's wise comments about TFA on 4/13/09:

Negative at the end of the day and when all is said and done. That doesn't mean that there haven't been terrific people that have come out of the program. In fact, many have contributed positively to the schools in which they work. The fact of the matter is that TFA offers plenty to its alumni, from debt forgiveness, to connections to top law, business, and medical schools. The two-year commitment virtually guarantees that not a single member anywhere in the country ever achieves due process rights before they can cash in their chips and take advantage of what TFA has to offer. In other words and as a matter of convenience, they remain silent, are exploited and the icing on the cake is that they're awfully cheap up front (that said, districts spend gobs of money in constantly having to deal with recruitment and training of new teachers). It goes without saying that most new teachers and the younger generation either don't know about or are indifferent to the history and role of unions. Another plus in administrators' eyes.

The national trend is that 50% of teachers leave the profession before their 5th year. If TFA and its principal funders really wanted to make an impact on our schools they would raise their standards and ask that their members stay on for a minimum of five years. I doubt districts would pursue hiring them as aggressively as they currently do.