Sections

Neighborhoods

Features

Follow Us

NHI Newsletter

Some Favorite Sites

Government/ Community Links

Pryor: Now Let’s Attract More Great Teachers

by Paul Bass | Nov 28, 2012 8:16 pm

(18) Comments | Commenting has been closed | E-mail the Author

Posted to: Schools, School Reform

Thomas MacMillan Photo School reform has to start focusing on attracting top-notch new teachers and training them better, the state’s education chief declared before hundreds of reform-minded New Haveners.

The education chief, Stefan Pryor (pictured), delivered that message to 400 people Wednesday night for the annual meeting of the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven.

A panel of local journalists—including the Register’s Angie Carter, Norma Rodriguez-Reyes of La Voz Hispana, and Coop High student and Independent reporter Ariela Martin—live-blogged the event. Readers joined in. Scroll down to the bottom of this story and click on the box to read that discussion.

Pryor was the event’s keynote speaker. He stressed the urgency of closing the state’s achievement gap: Connecticut now has the highest achievement gap of all 50 states in 7 out of 12 categories of math and reading standardized test scores broken down by income and ethnicity. Pryor ran down some of the reforms New Haven and the state of Connecticut have begun to address that gap, including launching experiments in low-performing “turnaround” schools and use test-score and classroom performance evaluations in setting teacher pay and easing out some teachers.

Then he got to his new point: Hardly any attention has been paid to getting great teachers in the classroom in the first place.

He partly blamed a perception gap. In Finland, 100 percent of schoolteachers came from the top third of their graduating class, he said. In the U.S. only 23 percent do. In low-income U.S. communities, the percentage is only 14 percent.

Top students graduating college have the mistaken idea that teachers don’t make much money. A majority believe they make the same as custodians, Pryor said.

“I think sanitation workers should be paid more,” Pryor said. But the fact is that teachers in general make double the average $30,000 custodial salary, he noted.

Pryor, the son of public-school teachers, also blamed the country’s attitude toward teachers. In places like South Korea and Finland, people revere teachers. In the U.S. they’re valued less.

He said the Malloy administration is taking first steps: A new advisory council will study the quality of current teacher preparation programs and recommend changes.

“Does this make any difference whatsoever?” Co-op student Martin asked in the live-blog when Pryor dealt with teacher pay. “It’s about the passion and skills of the teachers that make the difference, not what their graduating rank was.”

“Anonymous teacher,” a skeptic of school reform who posted on the live blog, responded: “He brings up Finland for ONE point and ignores everything else that they are doing. … In Finland there are no high stakes tests [for students in 4th and 10th grades, on which schools and teachers are ranked] … Teachers in Finland do NOT go into teaching for the pay. Teachers in America do not go into education for the pay.”

The live blog appears below. It’s closed now, but you can comment in the regular comments section.

Powered by Blyve





Tags: , ,

Share this story with others.

Share |

Post a Comment

Comments

posted by: OccupyTheClassroom on November 28, 2012  7:02pm

Ask him about corporate take overs of schools

posted by: HhE on November 28, 2012  9:45pm

I went into teaching in-spite of lack luster pay, the disrespect, administrators who did not appreciate my work nor supported me, parents who second guessed and blamed, and all that. 

When I first went in, and people would say they were thinking about becoming a teacher, I would say “great.”  After a few years, I would say, “Only if you are losing sleep because you are not in a classroom.”  Now I say, “Better you than me, Mate.” 

I am not necessarily in favor of increasing teacher pay, but only because to do so would require higher taxes (not going to happen), or higher teacher work load which I am dead set against. 

If we are really serious about improving our schools, there are three things that would make the most difference:  parents and students, administrators, and teachers.  Attracting and retaining really good teachers is going to take a sea change in how we see and treat teachers.  No more contempt.  No more second guessing.

posted by: Gauss on November 28, 2012  9:55pm

“Teachers in America do not go into education for the pay.”

Maybe not, but that does not mean they shouldn’t be compensated well for a very stressful and tiring job that requires quite a bit of education past a bachelor’s degree. Although, to be honest, you couldn’t pay me enough to teach in New Haven public schools in their current state.

posted by: Threefifths on November 28, 2012  10:17pm

posted by: OccupyTheClassroom on November 28, 2012 6:02pm

Ask him about corporate take overs of schools

You hit it out of the park.

He will be pushing this next.

Jeb Bush: Testing and Privatization Are the Right Path

November 28, 2012

http://dianeravitch.net/2012/11/28/jeb-bush-testing-and-privatization-are-the-rightath/

posted by: Brutus2011 on November 29, 2012  8:47am

Mr. Pryor’s message seems to focus on teachers, teachers, teachers.

The achievement gap is not the fault of teachers.

Teacher quality is only one, out of many, contributing factors to the achievement gap—it is NOT the causal factor that politicians and privateers want the public to believe.

The public needs to be aware of how the whole reform conversation is skewed to protecting the education management position and their salaries and pensions.

And, our teacher’s union management, local, state, and national, need join the rank and file and put a stop to this propaganda.

For the sake of the 99%.

posted by: anonymous on November 29, 2012  10:11am

“We can intellectualize the achievement gap all we want, no matter what we do there will always be “children left behind” until we deal with the basic needs of many families (food, clothing and shelter) education will not be the priority for these families.”

Absolutely.  This debate is academic, and focused on feel-good initiatives that impact fewer than 1% of students.

Unless we seriously address economic inequality, which both the fat cats like Ben Barnes and the Unions are loathe to do, we will continue on our trajectory of rapid decline.

posted by: FrontStResident on November 29, 2012  1:18pm

As a parent I would not blame the teachers, my kids are doing very good at school they have great teachers. But I help them do their homework every night and tell them to be good at school. (2nd grade Clinton Ave and 1st grade East Rock magnet) I have to blame the parents, the board of Edu should try to find a way to get to the parents. “Summer school”  should go, if a K-3rd grade student didn’t learn in 182 days, is not going to learn in 20 days. (If the student attends summer school every day, she/he gets to go to the next grade, not fear to the next year teacher and other students) What teaches the kids, the easy way out ... Sorry!!

posted by: isingiam on December 2, 2012  6:33pm

I have been meaning to ask this for ages for clarification’s sake: “Connecticut now has the highest achievement gap of all 50 states in 7 out of 12 categories of math and reading standardized test scores broken down by income and ethnicity.”

So, what does this encompass?  Does it include colleges, vocational schools, and universities?  The first idea that comes to mind is: Well duh, if Yale is there, than of course there is the “highest achievement gap”.  I am asking this not just out of my own curiosity because I have heard others who express the same (possible) confusion and/or misunderstanding.

posted by: Brutus2011 on December 2, 2012  11:15pm

to"isingiam:”

The achievement gap does not include colleges. It refers to the gap in the standardized test scores of the CMT (CT Master Test—given to 3rd thru 8th graders) and the CAPT (given to 10th graders), between the higher and lower per capita communities. I don’t believe the college entry standarized tests such as the ACT, the PSAT, and the SAT are included in this.

As you might expect, higher income towns such as Madison or West Hartford have standardized test scores that are significantly higher than New Haven or Hartford.

Of course, you may wonder why so much is being said about the quality of teachers being the causal factor in the cities and towns where the students are scoring significantly lower than in other cities and towns.

A moments reflection will show that, if that were so, then all the bad teachers in CT are in the lowest scoring school districts. Statistically, as well as one’s common-sense, would indicate that that assertion is patently false.

Then one might ask why such high profile leaders and organizations would want to perpetuate such propaganda, to put it nicely.

The simple, and most direct answer, is that they can.

Why?

The vast majority of people, well-meaning people, have no real idea of the education system and its workings.

I hope this helps.

posted by: anonymous on December 3, 2012  12:32am

isingiam, they are just talking about achievement gaps in elementary school here. I think there are 12 gaps noted by Pryor because there are 3-4 different income and ethnic groups identified, with results compared for each over 3-4 different elementary school exams (imagine a table with 4 rows and 3 columns=12 possible “gaps”).

As you point out there are many other possible “achievement gaps” if you look at later years or college - but perhaps those others aren’t even worth bothering with, given that once you get a “gap” this large in elementary school it is virtually impossible to correct it later on.

posted by: isingiam on December 3, 2012  2:37am

Brutus2011:

“The vast majority of people, well-meaning people, have no real idea of the education system and its workings.”

While I appreciate your observation, I would like to know how these well-meaning people could get a real idea and make a substantial contribution, as I am one of them. (Simply telling me I “have no real idea” gets us nowhere).

posted by: Brutus2011 on December 3, 2012  10:23am

to “isingiam:”

It took me two practicums, a math internship, a social studies student teaching assignment, and teaching in several school systems to figure out what was going on with our public schools.

My first misconception was that teaching was about erudition and learning. It is a workplace first where people earn a living. This is true for teachers and the administrators or managers. And no one wants to lose their job for obvious reasons including the very real possibility that once you do lose your job in education, it is very hard to get another one—unless you know someone.

The importance of knowing someone was my second misconception. I simply could not get my head around how it was more important to know someone than anything else except licensing and age.

My third misconception was that my administrators were there to help and back up the teachers in the mission of educating our young people. Wrong—most, not all, administrators will not do anything to jeopardize their 6 figure salaries and future 6 figure pensions. Think of being an admin as an exclusive club—once you get in you have considerable incentive to stay and you only stay by following your marching orders regardless of the power play tactics involved.

My fourth misconception was that the teacher’s unions were a real force for advocating for teacher’s workplace rights against administrative shenanigans. Again, the teacher’s union management play ball with the education managers. A startling statement I agree but consider this: It is statistically impossible for all low achieving public school districts to be the home of bad teachers relative to the higher performing school districts. Then why have the teacher’s union management been largely silent on countering the education manager’s repeated assertion that teacher quality is the causal factor in student achievement?

The education system is as much about municipal politics (as the mayor appoints the BOE and the Superintendent of Schools) as anything else. And as the Superintendent appoints his management staff, then organization politics is in play as well.

Okay, you say, that sounds really negative and very weird. Exactly. And if your reaction is similar to this, then your notion of our schools is far from reality. (I don’t mean to be snarky here) Look at the results of NHPS measured in test scores,etc.

You say, “How does one get a real idea and make a substantial contribution?”

posted by: Brutus2011 on December 3, 2012  10:34am

As to how you get a real idea, then I would suggest volunteering for lunch waves and registering for substitute teaching. This experience will allow you to see for yourself the complicated dynamics at play in our schools.

Then consider the organization of our school district and who really calls the shots and ask yourself why we have so many highly paid managers and consultants above the classroom?

Finally, consider that motivating human beings is an extraordinary undertaking and that true education is much more about lighting a fire than filling a vessel.

I don’t have space to write a book here but know one thing—teachers are not the causal factor in student achievement. Teachers are a correlating factor, among many, and the attempt to blame them is a cynical ploy to exploit the fact that most people have no real idea of what goes on in our schools.

To what end?

To keep their 6 figure salaries, reputations, and 6 figure pensions. Would you want to lose a 125K+ job, or any job for that matter, because Johnny went home and told Mommy some fiction about what some adult did to them at school?

Finally, check out Diane Ravitch’s blog online. She is a rational source of information about all this.

posted by: isingiam on December 3, 2012  4:08pm

I have to wonder what the student:teach ratio is as compared to teacher: BOE ratio.

I don’t understand: “Then why have the teacher’s union management been largely silent on countering the education manager’s repeated assertion that teacher quality is the causal factor in student achievement?”

Is this to say that there are also bad teachers in higher performing schools, but they are just more noticeable in public schools because of their reputations?

If teacher quality is determined by their ability to teach to the test, then can they even speak to their own quality of teaching if the tests have been imposed, beyond anyone’s control?

Also, if the methods of evaluating teachers are based on tests, is that a reflection of the teachers’ abilities to teach about that which they are most knowledgable? 

I have to assume that their abilities correspond to their quality of teaching.  Is this also over-looked by the unions?

posted by: Brutus2011 on December 3, 2012  7:09pm

I don’t want to appear condescending or patronizing so I will stop after I say this:

There is usually confusion between a causal factor and a correlating factor. A causal factor is like a proximate cause in law or where, in this case, teacher quality is the main reason that determines student achievement. A correlating factor is a reason that contributes, along with other reasons, to the outcome under scrutiny or investigation.

My point is that teacher quality or effectiveness is only a correlating factor, among others, that contributes to student achievement. And that teacher quality or effectiveness is NOT a causal factor that is almost solely attributable to student achievement.

If you read what Stephan Pryor, Dan Malloy, ConnCan, and many other education reformers say and write, then you see the same emphasis over and over that teacher quality or effectiveness is what has to change for our kids to learn better or have more positive learning outcomes. This is false and simply not true. However, it is a relatively easy sell because most people defer to authority and do not understand the education system or how human beings learn or appreciate the complexity of teaching and learning.

Simply put, teachers are being set up to take the fall because to have effective public school reform is politically unpalatable for most folks—it is easier to blame someone else than look in the mirror.

And those in charge don’t want to be held accountable so they blame teachers—either directly or by inference. And our kids suffer so that those whose job it is to set and implement effective policy can keep their high salaries and pensions.

And the teacher’s union management know this but they do not challenge the education administrators by pointing out management’s disingenuous blaming of the teacher corps.

Where teachers are at fault is that we continue to allow this horrendous state of affairs by not holding our unions accountable for not pointing out the false statements by education leaders and by extension, failing our students.

posted by: HhE on December 3, 2012  11:16pm

isingiam, if you wish to now more about schools, continue to read Brutus2011.  You will not the entire story in one go, but over the course of a year, you will learn a lot.  His posts are extremely insightful.  Hopefully, some day, he will write that book.  Not only will I read it, but I will buy a case of copies to pass out to my friends,

Next, by all means take up substitute teaching or volunteer inside one of our schools (there is usually more demand than supply).  Fair warning:  subbing is a very tough way to make very little money.  As a sub or volunteer, you will probably not be accepted as “one of us.”  No matter, teachers just are not going to tell you everything.

So, make friends with some teachers.  Without taking a stand, or asking questions using the structure you have hear, get them to tell you about their work.  Look past the jaded self pity that is so typical of our profession, and you can learn a lot.  Ask, does your administration support you?  Why do you think?  Do resources align with tasks?  What is the effect of standardized testing on our schools?  How strong are teacher unions? 

Ignore Hollywood.  They get it so wrong that if you believe any of it, you are worse off than not knowing anything.  The only TV show that ever came close was The Simpsons.  Fear of a Lisa Simpson inspired theft of all the teacher’s copy is why I always made my own answer key be reading the chapter and finding the answer in the text. 

I came from a family of teachers, so I knew a little.  During student teaching, I learned a little more.  As a para professional, I learned a few things.  In my first month of teaching, I learned a lot—a lot more than all that other stuff combined.

posted by: HhE on December 3, 2012  11:30pm

Direct answers to direct questions.

I have to wonder what the student:teach ratio is as compared to teacher: BOE ratio.

Not the question you ought to be asking.  Rather, is the manager to teacher ratio what it ought to be? 

I don’t understand: “Then why have the teacher’s union management been largely silent on countering the education manager’s repeated assertion that teacher quality is the causal factor in student achievement?”

Teacher unions, NEA and Federation (I have belonged to both), have consistently failed to get the right message across.  Look how badly they did making the case against teacher testing.  Now I did rather well on the NTE Core and Content, but very little of those tests had anything to with my ability as a teacher. 

Is this to say that there are also bad teachers in higher performing schools, but they are just more noticeable in public schools because of their reputations?

It is fair to say there is a range of teachers in every school.  Good schools will attract good teachers.  Bad schools may have to settle for poor teachers. 

If teacher quality is determined by their ability to teach to the test, then can they even speak to their own quality of teaching if the tests have been imposed, beyond anyone’s control?

I’m not sure what you are on about.  If teacher evaluations are driven primarily or entirely by standardized testing, they better hope for a sample skewed in their direction.  I knew one teacher who was taken to task for poor Regent Tests scores.  She was able to show that yes, this year her students did not do well, but for the past several years they did very well.  Historically, teacher evaluations have often been a lot like a popularity contest with with the boss. 

Also, if the methods of evaluating teachers are based on tests, is that a reflection of the teachers’ abilities to teach about that which they are most knowledgable?

If I understand your question, no.

I have to assume that their abilities correspond to their quality of teaching.  Is this also over-looked by the unions?

Yes.

posted by: JusticePartyCT on December 5, 2012  8:57pm

I would concur with the statement in the article about honoring one’s teachers in Asian culture. Having taught in Japanese schools for six years, this is very true. That said, the teacher in Asian cultures is more so than just a teacher but also a life guide. For example, when a student became in trouble outside school, their homeroom teacher was called! I heard it said that teachers in Norway receive the same pay as their doctors. Very interesting if true.

Events Calendar

loading…

SeeClickFix »

Tree Trimming
Aug 1, 2014 10:49 pm
Address: 215 West Rock Avenue New Haven, Connecticut
Rating: 1

Two trees at this address need to be trimmed---one is directly in front of 215. The...

more »
Storm Drain Repair
Aug 1, 2014 10:41 pm
Address: 14 Oxford St New Haven, Connecticut
Rating: 3

Resident reports a storm drain in front of 14 Oxford Street. Half of the grate is tilted...

more »

PosterWallAdd your Poster

Sponsors

N.H.I. Site Design & Development

smartpill design