Archive for Friday, June 15, 2012

Teachers are key to education success

June 15, 2012


Every day, week and month we celebrate various groups and occasions. For example, last month was Correct Posture Month, National Artisan Gelato Month and Uranus Awareness Month.

One May recognition touched a common chord: Teacher Appreciation Week. Those in that demanding and critical profession deserve all the accolades we give them. But kind words and pats on the back are not enough. It’s time they received the full range of support they need to do an even better job.

Providing these resources should be a no-brainer because when we support teachers, we support our families and our communities. It’s pretty simple: School success rests on teacher success. This isn’t a matter of conjecture. Research has shown that teachers are the single most important school-based factor in student learning.

Now we have a report that tells us that the impact of a great teacher extends beyond the classroom.

The researchers — faculty from Harvard and Columbia — tracked the post-high school impact of excellent teachers on 2.5 million students. In describing the findings, one author said, “If an elementary school student has an excellent teacher even for a single year, it boosts their income by an average of about 2 percent per year.” His co-author said that students with excellent teachers “for even a single year, not only earned more as an adult, but also were more likely to go to college or to go to a higher ranked college, and to live in a better neighborhood. They were also less likely to become a teen parent.” 

The good news is that much of the national debate on school reform is teacher-focused. But those conversations are mostly limited to evaluation, promotion and pay. Teachers also lack support in such basic areas as adequate classroom supplies, working technology, and clearly defined career ladders. 

Teachers are understandably discouraged. The most recent Met Life Survey of the American Teacher tells us that there have been significant shifts in attitude over the last few years. In 2009, 59 percent of teachers were very satisfied with their job.  That number has dropped to 44 percent. In 2009, 17 percent said they were likely to leave the profession. That number has climbed to 29 percent.   

So what do we do? The College Board recently sponsored conversations with deans of education to get their opinions on ways to improve education. This is a smart, knowledgeable and caring group. Here are two ideas they gave about ways to ensure that the best teachers come, stay and succeed in the classroom. 

One: Develop and implement a powerful loan forgiveness program that would wipe out college debt for those who remained in teaching, entered hard-to-fill disciplines or worked in schools in tough neighborhoods. This would send a clear and financially compelling signal to our young people that we want them in our teacher corps.

Two: Create a single, consistent and strong curriculum in all 2,000 teacher training programs. Right now, there is no consistency in how we train teachers. A strong common curriculum would ensure that all teachers receive the training they need. It would also allow the public to understand and scrutinize this important area. 

The deans know that their suggestions are not cure-alls. But they also know that we need to make changes and make them fast to give teachers the support they need. The current situation is untenable.   

Gaston Caperton, president of the College Board, hit it on the nose when he said, “No group is more important to the future of this country than teachers and until we accept this, progress in many fields will be held up.” 

Like Caperton, most of us admire teachers. The annual Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup poll on what Americans say about public schools tells us more than 70 percent of the public has confidence in our teachers and a comparable percentage would like to have one of their children enter the profession. But teachers need more than a vote of confidence. They need all of us to beg, cajole, and demand that they get the kinds of support they need.

Gene Budig, who taught at Princeton University, is a former chancellor/ president of three major state universities, including Kansas University, and past president of Major League Baseball’s American League. Alan Heaps is a vice president of the College Board in New York City.


toe 1 year, 10 months ago

Teachers will soon be obsolete. We will use automated systems, accessed from "learning centers". Curriculum and tests well be designed, administered, and graded by computers. Children will be monitored with face recognition systems. Smart desks will keep students attention and schedule. One "teacher" will have hundreds of students. The search to automated education is relentless.


Mike Ford 1 year, 10 months ago

hey dumb dumb baby, you have a set work day for hours due to unions,,,, there isn't rampant child labor due to unions....there are lots of workplace pluses due to late mother's NEA gave a larger death benefit than KPERS did after dumblican Lynn Jenkins ran in it into the ground. What a koch brothers bend one over troll you are must've been home schooled.....


FalseHopeNoChange 1 year, 10 months ago

There ain't no bad Union player. They work as a 'team'. They 'look out' for one another. They be the best of the best.

The New America country is 'what it is today' because of the Union player teamwork.

Fist in the air! Union power! Spread the wealth!


ThePilgrim 1 year, 10 months ago

That is the problem with these kinds of studies - how can you come up with causation from the numbers? There are 20-30 kids in a classroom. Will each child likely have an increase in salary - not likely. If they average each other out then the numbers are meaningless anyway. To make matters worse is the way that we grade teachers or determine whether teachers are "good" - by testing outcomes of students. This has been shown to be skewed, sometimes on purpose, by overlaying race and income. Almost every metro high school in Kansas has failed to make AIP - Annual Improvement according to No Teacher Left Behind. Until last year Lawrence high schools were also on the list. Wichita has been on the list for so long that they are required by law to reorg and flush admin and teachers top to bottom at all of the high schools, but obviously that doesn't happen.


jmadison 1 year, 10 months ago

So would a bad teacher for a year decrease earnings by 2 per cent?


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