Tracey Martin MP, Spokesperson for Education – Press Release
New Zealand First wants to protect the title of “teacher” and we will introduce a member’s bill to do so this week.
“The National Government, with support of the ACT Party and Maori Party, continue to amend the Education Act to allow individuals without in depth teacher training to market themselves as ‘teachers’ to parents and students.
“This is an attack on the status of our teachers and is likely to lower the standard of teaching and learning in schools.
“Parents should be 100% confident that anyone using the title of teacher has successfully completed the appropriate qualifications to support their students learning.
“This government has allowed Charter Schools to put untrained and unqualified individuals into classrooms and call themselves teachers. The new Education Amendment Bill will allow well-meaning degree graduates to market themselves as teachers, without in class supervision, after only an eight week Christmas course.
“Under the New Zealand First bill all parents can be assured that if their child has a ‘teacher’ then they are being taught by an educational specialist. By providing this simple method of identification parents truly have choice when it comes to who is leading the learning in their child’s education,” says Mrs Martin.
For those of you that think how New Zealand structures teacher training in future isn’t an issue to be concerned about, take time to read this and see how, in the UK, outstanding university courses in Teacher training have been shut down since their equivalent scheme, School Direct, started.
The Department for Education boasts that take up for the scheme is great:
…there will be 17,609 places for School Direct trainees in 2015 and 15,490 higher education postgraduate places
Proponents cite the increasing numbers of applications year on year as evidence that School Direct works. I would posit that it is evidence that would-be teachers can no longer afford to go to university and prefer to earn money while training. Who wouldn’t? But that in no way means the scheme is superior in terms of training.
There are another concern, too.
As universities shut down their teacher training programmes, there will eventually be a lack of places even for School Direct trainees to get their uni-based components:
Under School Direct, schools recruit trainees directly and link up with universities to provide out-of-classroom training. Trainees have an “expectation of employment” at their school at the end of their training.
But critics are concerned that the shift to School Direct may destabilise the teacher training system because universities cannot guarantee student numbers – and so funding – year on year.
And there’s a teacher shortage looming in the UK…
Hey, but who cares, because when push comes to shove the government will scream !!!TEACHER SHORTAGE!!! and decree that teachers don’t have to be trained at all.
You know, like they don’t in charter schools already….
See the link?
Cheap, disposable labour – seemingly the government’s goal for all employees these days.
I think the most telling part of the article is when the Department for Education spokesperson said:
“The School Direct programme is a key part of our plan for education.”
Yes. I bet it is.
Alllllll part of the bigger plan.
I’m telling you, people, we are on one hell of a slippery slope.
Sources and further reading:
The article below highlights concerns with Teach For America (TFA) and speaks to many of the concerns regarding Teach First NZ:
“Have you ever found yourself trapped in the insufferable position of having to tolerate a Teach For America true believer relentlessly bombarding you with justifications for Teach For America’s placement atop the corporate org chart of educational excellence?
Teach For America is a $300 million “non-profit” organization that executes a highly sophisticated integrated marketing communications strategy that includes traditional and digital advertising, a wide range of experiential and special event initiatives, and plenty of public and media relations.
With millions spent on corporate communications, it’s to be expected that Teach For America has crafted a concise list of focus-group tested talking points. With discipline matched only by GOP pundits, Teach For America’s “brand evangelists” (from the corporate communications team all the way down to the on-campus recruitment interns) stay “on message” by relentlessly repeating the same lines. The only problem? Many are deceptive at best, while others are downright false.
Here are some suggested replies for eight of Teach For America’s most tried arguments.
1. When a Teach For America supporter says: ”Teach For America might not be the answer, but it’s a part of the solution.”
This is how you might respond: To overcome the challenges associated with educational inequity, Teach For America’s standard of training would require it to be vastly superior to any school of education or alternative route – not less. Corps members would need the ability to deconstruct their own privilege, fully understand their own role in historically oppressed communities, and develop strong relationships with true veteran teachers (not Teach For America corps members who only taught 2 or 3 years). Unfortunately, with only a few weeks of training, and often zero student-teaching hours within the placement community or assigned grade, Teach For America corps members receive nothing close to the unparalleled training that would be required to systemically reduce educational inequity. In all likelihood, by providing the least prepared teachers to the students with the greatest needs, Teach For America corps members may be doing more harm than good.
2. When a Teach For America supporter says: “Teach For America corps members are more effective teachers. The Mathematica study shows that Teach For America corps members produce gains equal to 2.6 extra months of learning.”
This is how you might respond: This is how you might respond: First, there is no such thing as a test that measures months of learning. That would mean all students learn at the same pace. As any parent or teacher knows, that’s not true. In fact, the “gain” was just .07 standard deviations (miniscule in statistics). By comparison, reducing class size can increase learning by .20 standard deviations (3x more effective). Second, the study only included Teach For America secondary math teachers (136 of them), but claims that this is true for all Teach For America corps members regardless of whether they teach secondary math or not. In most communities, the majority of Teach For America corps members teach elementary, not secondary. Therefore, the miniscule test score gains in this study do not apply to the vast majority of Teach For America corps members. Using the Mathematica study to imply that all Teach For America corps members are more effective than other teachers is patently deceptive. (This entry was edited on 3/19/2014 to make a correction in response to a critiqued levied by Teach For America)
For more information on the Mathematica study check out:
This is how you might respond: School districts run by politicians who are pushing for the corporate takeover of public education sign contracts with Teach For America to hire Teach For America corps members each year regardless of whether there is a qualified teacher shortage in the region or not. Chicago is a perfect example. In 2013, after closing 49 schools and laying off 850 teachers and staff because of “budget concerns”, Mayor Rahm Emmanuel’s hand-picked school board authorized an increase of 325 new Teach For America corps members at a cost to Chicago taxpayers of $1.6 million in addition to the salaries that the schools will pay Teach For America corps members. Teach For America corps members are now in direct competition with displaced teachers for available jobs at district schools and charter schools. Similar situations have occurred across the country includingBoston, New Orleans, and Newark.
4. When a Teach For America supporter says: “Teach For America doesn’t take jobs from other teachers. Teach For America just provides teachers for subject areas that have teacher shortages.”
This is how you might respond: Teach For America’s school district contracts make clear that Teach For America teachers are to be considered for all open teaching positions in a district, not just hard to staff subject areas. Teach For America’s contract with Louisiana’s Jefferson Parish Public School System explicitly states, “Teach For America Teachers will be hired by School District for vacancies across the full range of grades and subject matters and not restricted or limited to so-called ‘critical’ or ‘shortage’ subjects or grade level vacancies.”
5. When a Teach For America supporter says: “One third (33%) of Teach For America corps member alumni are still teaching.”
This is how you might respond: Teach For America’s data comes from their annual alumni survey. Unfortunately, Teach For America won’t provide that survey data to outside researchers to verify their claims. However, peer-reviewed research studies show that roughly only 20% of Teach For America corps members are still teaching anywhere after five years (the national average is approximately 50%).
6. When a Teach For America supporter says: “Two-thirds of Teach For America alumni remain in education”
This is how you might respond: Teach For America’s data comes from their annual alumni survey. Unfortunately, Teach For America won’t provide that survey data to outside researchers to verify their claims. However, it is widely accepted that many Teach For America alumni, including those who only taught for two or three years, go on to become principals at privately managed charter schools and run school districts. This begs the question, “Are novice teachers with 2-3 years experience really qualified to be running schools and districts?”
This is how you might respond: In districts across the country, pro-business politicians are closing down public schools and replacing them with privately managed charter schools. Many recent court decisions have concluded that charter schools are not public schools even though they receive public money. A public entity is accountable to the public. A private enterprise is accountable to its board of directors and shareholders. Therefore, as public schools are closed and replaced by privately managed charter schools, the public school system is becoming privatized.
Teach For America’s role in this privatization agenda is by providing corps members to teach at the newly opened charter schools for wages that are often well below the first-year salary of local public school teachers. Recent documents revealed that many charter school management organizations are so dependent on Teach For America to provide them cheap labor that charter managers are reluctant to open new schools without Teach For America.
For more information on Teach For America’s connections to other agents in the privatization and corporate takeover of public education, read the report Mapping the Terrain: Teach For America, Charter School Reform, and Corporate Sponsorship by Teach For America alums, Kerry Ketchmar and Beth Sondel.
8. When a Teach For America supporter says: “Teach For America corps members will now have one year of training.”
This is how you might respond: This is a step in the right direction, but no details have emerged. Furthermore, it is being launched as a pilot program and will most likely not include all corps members. Therefore, Teach For America will still send thousands of the least prepared teachers into classrooms with children who have the greatest needs.
For all of Cloaking Inequity’s posts on Teach For America click here.
4% of Chicago’s teachers sent packing just like that.
Why? Budget cuts, they said. They can’t afford to pay the teachers.
Swap experience out for cheap labour
At the same time as this happened, Chicago’s Board of Education voted to increase its payment to Teach For America (TFA) from $600,000 to nearly $1.6 million, and to add up to 325 new TFA recruits…
So let’s get this right. They lay off over 2000 qualified teachers and aim to replace them with guys who had 6 weeks’ training and then are sent into the classroom full time. These ‘teachers’ commit only to 1 or 2 years in the classroom and almost universally leave the classroom after that and go on to more highly paid work. Indeed TFA promotes itself as a stepping stone to other, far grander careers.
Nice to know they respect the job of teaching so much.
Lifelong teachers, people committed to honing and improving their teaching skills mean nothing to reformers like this. The kids mean nothing, either. Teaching is simply a way for new grads to improve their CVs and for reformers to make $$$$$.
How does the impact Aotearoa New Zealand?
Kiwis beware – we have Teach First NZ, a similar programme.
New grads get a 6 week programme and then are sent into schools to start work. And note they are only sent into low decile schools, not into schools where children of those promoting the programme are studying. Funny that.
The argument that TFA, TFNZ and other incarnations worldwide are needed to fill gaps where there are not enough teachers doesn’t wash. In NZ we have trained teachers searching for non-existent jobs. In Chicago and elsewhere they are laying of veteran teachers to take on TFAers.
It’s not about filling a gap. It’s about undermining teaching as a profession and crippling the unions so there is no collective voice.
A long and winding but well-planned path…
Kiwi education is similarly at the hands of those determined to undermine our schools and teachers at every turn.
It’s only a matter of time until this is happening here, too. Indeed we are on track already.
Kiwis need to be aware that this is the goal of reforms that start slowly and creep, creep, creep until before you know it the unions are smashed, teachers are being laid off and replaced with short-term, expendable staff, and the reformers move in with their testing and money-making and our children have ceased to be students but have become a commodity.
It sounds dramatic, even fanciful, but if you spend even an hour looking at what is happening in the USA and England, you will see, this is a well trodden and well-planned path.
We must be committed to stopping it in its tracks before it’s too late.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2012/oct/29/social-mobility-teach-first-programme (read the comments below, too)
And the students are not always impressed, either…