Next week 3000 teachers new to the New York City School System will gather at the Javits Center and listen to Joel Klein’s welcoming speech.
What he should tell them is, within five years half of you will have abandoned your jobs. That’s right, each and every year half of all new teachers are fated not to survive.
Exit interviews and a Village Voice article point to “lack of supervisory support,” “poor discipline,” “a feeling of hopelessness,” … basically new teachers are “thrown to the wolves.” I used to think that new teachers were “treading water,” now I feel they are “ten feet under water watching their bubbles float to the surface.”
New York State Education Department requires that each new teacher receive a mentor. For the past few years the Department has assigned a full time mentor to seventeen teachers, … mentoring in the run. This year the Department has returned to a school-based mentoring system, however, aside from an article in the Principal’s Weekly there has been no guidance and no funding! Principals are required to assign each new teacher a mentor and Tweed has not provided any additional funding … Principals were told they have sufficient funding in their budgets!
Why are the gnomes at Tweed ignoring the absence of an effective new teacher induction program?
The total focus of Tweed is on “value-added,” measuring pupil progress per teacher. Developing a system whereby student standardized test scores can be tracked by teacher. The goal: to evaluate and rate teachers by “value-added” metrics, and, of course, pay for performance.
Joel’s newest buddy, Chris Cerf, the Deputy Superintendent for Human Resources brags about the Department position (“Why Merit Pay Matters”) in a widely read blog . We can’t forget that Chris’ last gig was the CEO of the Edison Schools – a “for profit” Educational Management Organization with a poor track record.
Imagine a school in which the staff was paid solely according to standardized test results … all test prep and screw the guy or gal in the classroom next door! Cerf references an article (work ) that claims to show that after three years of experience a teacher’s ability to approve student performance levels off … so why should we care when newer teachers leave!!
The Joel Klein/Sir Michael Barber/Chris Cerf view of schools is basically a union free business environment that treat the workers, i.e., teacher and principals, as interchangeable parts. Through a combination of the “carrot and the stick,” (merit pay and no job protection) squeeze out every last drop of blood and cast them aside. There’s always a group of eager new teachers …
So Pinocchio will look out at the thousands of eager faces at the Javits Center … massage their egos … and send them off to be chewed up by an unfeeling system.
The clock is ticking … mayoral control will sunset and parents, advocates, legislators, teachers and a host of other caring New Yorkers are looking beyond Joel to a school system that honors teacher expertise and serves the needs of children and their families.