An obvious observation –
The last 6 or 7 years in public education policy seem to have been characterized by the following trends:
1) Tying teacher evaluation, hiring, firing, and teacher pay to student standardized test results.
2) Relatedly, using value-added measurements in making these decisions.
3) School closings and state takeovers.
4) Using VAM in making decisions about those too.
I.e. Stressing all the adults who work in schools the f*ck out.
5) Subcontracting to charter networks.
6) Direct funding cuts.
I.e. divesting from education as a public trust.
All in all, these trends, spearheaded by the US Dept. of Ed. under the leadership of Arne Duncan, but with numerous assists from other folks, representing both public and private interests (being in NYC, I’m lookin at you Mike Bloomberg), seem to me to have an obvious common theme:
Making public schools shittier places to work.
Recently, both the NYT and EdWeek have reported a national teacher shortage as enrollment in teacher training programs has dropped precipitously for several years in a row. Even TfA is having trouble recruiting.
Motherf*ckers, what did you think was gonna happen?
(Cynical voice at back of head: Ben, you are so effing naive. That’s what they wanted to happen. What better excuse to hire un-credentialed people to teach poor children? Me: No! I don’t believe it!)
Addendum (5/9/16): It came to my attention at some point that there was some debate last summer about the validity of NYT’s and EdWeek’s coverage. Is/was there really a national teacher shortage this fall, or were there certain districts with a shortage and others with a surplus? Michael Pershan had some tweets about this. So, let me just acknowledge this debate. This post was a quickly-fired-off response to seeing talk of a shortage in two major press outlets, after several years of running workshops with young teachers and feeling awe for their willingness to stay in the game even as working conditions have become shittier. If there is a shortage, I’m not surprised. If there’s not, then, let’s hope it stays that way. Go young people! That is all.