Thursday, October 15, 2015

"To Fix Teacher Shortages, First Understand What They are"

I have posted an excerpt below from an excellent article published in Education Week and one which would be beneficial for DeKalb School Central Office Administrators.  

Dr. Green's turn-around plan relies on the recruitment and retention of highly qualified teachers.  At this point in time, in my opinion, due to the lack of a quality DCSD human resources department and the continued unrestrained influence of the Family & Friends Network, this may be the most difficult part of Dr. Green's plan - recruiting and retaining highly-qualified teachers.

For those of you who view the DCSD BOE meetings, you will recognize the name Kirk Lunde, a parent advocate for all DCSD students.  Kirk often speaks at BOE meetings and his advocacy is always present.  Kirk wrote an article in 2013 regarding "teacher accountability" which is as relevant today as it was then. He makes similar points to the article written in Education Week.  In 2015, as in 2013, our state and our school district get a big fat "F" (in my view) in "teacher accountability".

Here is an excerpt from Kirk's article, which was published in the Patch news service:

"Make no mistake about it, education reform is a political issue.

This is exactly how I see the term "teacher accountability" when used to make teachers the scapegoats for the problems with public schools. It sounds good by itself, but when preached by organizations such as Students First, it is an abuse of the English language.
Do public schools need to change & adopt new ways of providing a high quality education to ALL students? Yes, and teachers have been asking to lead those changes.

With the new Teacher Keys, which Georgia is implementing, teachers' effectiveness will be assessed by the progress their students make during the school year. This will be directly tied to their salary. The system is setup to incentivize standardized test performance.

Where have we see that before?

Who do you think will be assessed as a more effective teacher; the 4th grade teacher with 34 students every class period of the day or the 4th grade teacher with 25 students every class period of the day?

Teachers do not control how many students are in their classes, administrators do. Teachers are not allowed to be the leaders of public schools in Georgia. I think this is wrong."
Click the following link to read Kirk's entire article:

From Education Week:

By Teaching Ahead Contributor on October 13, 2015 3:34 PM
To understand how to fix teacher shortages, we must understand what they are and what causes them.
Teacher shortages come in part from a lack of candidates interested in teaching in highly demanding settings and, even moreso, from an inability to retain teachers in those settings. We also must acknowledge the double shortage in segregated settings, where students of color are denied consistent educators and denied educators who share their race or ethnic background.
I would argue that retention must be the greater focus as, in many high-need schools, with teacher attrition greater than 50 percent over five years, getting more candidates would hardly affect the problem.
Many top-down education reforms to address teacher quality only exacerbate this situation by focusing teachers on areas that are unhelpful to their students. For every teacher who is pushed out by tougher, nonsensical evaluation systems, there are a dozen who leave due to toxic stress caused by these systems and the environment we teach in.
Once we acknowledge this, we can begin to heal toward solutions in this area. Here are a few:
1) Allow communities, students, parents, and educators the agency to self-determine our own definitions of success.

2) Build strong induction programs targeting and effectively preparing candidates who are most likely to stay in our communities.

3) Shift accountability for school climate from classroom teachers to administrators and district leadership.
Click the following link to read the entire article:


  1. Thanks for a great pair of articles. I've long been a Kirk Lunde fan.

    I think the item 1) about communities determining their own definitions of success is very interesting. Instead, all students have to excel at everything and apply to 4 year colleges. This isn't necessarily a good choice, near term or long term, for all students.

  2. One of my primary complaints about our South Dekalb school is there is a lower set of standards that applies to admin, teachers and students. It seems to be accepted there as suitable.

  3. Anonymous @ 0304, I am really disappointed to hear that. Parents should not "settle". Every child enrolled in the DeKalb County School System, no matter whether they are in North DeKalb, South DeKalb, Central DeKalb, successful school, or struggling school, deserves a high-qualified teacher. I hope, hope, hope Dr. Green can/will make the necessary changes to DCSD system in order to make this school system an attractive one for teachers. It will take a lot of change in the culture of DCSD, let's hope Dr. Green is up to the task.

  4. I wanted to thank you for this great read. Your blog is one of the finest blog . Thanks for posting this informative article.