I’ve Got a Bad Feeling About This…

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

Remember when I told you about Clark County (LV) Nevada packing thousands of kids into trailers with long-term substitute teachers some of whom even had BA degrees? Hmmm….well, in addition to explosive population growth and the ongoing retirement of the Baby Boom generation, this might have something to do with it as well:

ed majors (1)

So apparently college freshmen have started to listen to the large number of people who have been through an Ed School and found the experience profoundly unsatisfying. Or perhaps they are looking past that at a public school system that treats you like a 19th Century factory worker rather than a professional. Maybe both things are true. In any case, especially for states with booming K-12 populations, it is time for fresh thinking not on how we train teachers, but also about the deeper issues surrounding undesirability of the profession which goes well beyond compensation issues.

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6 Responses to I’ve Got a Bad Feeling About This…

  1. pdexiii says:

    When you graduate with an undergraduate degree in Education, can you teach Algebra II, Physics, or Literature?
    To earn a competent Education degree does not guarantee a teaching position, as every state has a subsequent credentialing process that may often be obtained along with your b.a., but also requires more time (and $$) to earn.
    College students party too much today; by the time they figure out they ‘want to teach’, it would take longer to acquire the credits to earn the degree, and the payoff isn’t that great especially if you paid a king’s ransom at an Ivy or top-tier school for your degree and want to teach in NYC or San Francisco and end up below the poverty line.
    Having taught this generation of college students when they’re in middle school, I suspect also too many of them look at an Ed. degree and say, “that’s too much work,” coupled with not starting at $65,000+/year as an engineer. The undergraduates of this generation who are striving to prosper are open about “I could never teach students; I’d put hands on someone as disrespectful as these students are.”
    If I were a school administrator I’m searching the Math, Natural Sciences, Literature, and Language graduates for those folks with the CONTENT KNOWLEDGE who have the desire to teach. As you mentioned, I do believe there are too many folks lamenting about how their education degree did not prepare them for the reality of teaching, and indeed they are scaring folks away.
    Ed schools must accept some blame for this, as should state credentialing boards.

  2. matthewladner says:

    pdexiii-

    Totally agree with you about content knowledge. The South Koreans have an expression “you cannot give what you do not have” that rings very true with me. A broad revamp of human capital development in schools seems inevitable.

    • pdexiii says:

      ‘Human capital development’ is a phrase associated with enterprises who must profit or die; government agencies are always behind the wave when it comes to business innovation, unless it’s the military developing weapons whose technology ends up cheap enough to trickle down into civilian use.
      After hearing Peter Diamandis’ (XPrize founder) staggering presentation on the explosion of technology at the California Charter School Conference, immediately I realized how woefully unprepared the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing is authorizing teachers in public schools that can teach coding and similar fields, let alone authorizing Natural Science/Math teachers (which my former students are suffering from right now).

  3. Greg Forster says:

    Worth noting that the research has consistently found no relationship between an education degree and teacher quality as measured by student outcomes, but he found a relationship between a subject degree and student outcomes.

    Also worth noting: the rise of charter schools and school choice has increased the prospects for getting a teaching job without the useless credential.

    • matthewladner says:

      Indeed- here in AZ charter schools have had the ability to hire teachers without certification for 20 years, we are starting to see the first signs of Las Vegas style teacher shortages, and the AZ DoE has a report showing that 24% of AZ public school employees will become eligible for retirement in a few years. Don’t however suggest that we give district school leaders the same freedom to hire instructors as charter school leaders hold unless you are willing to put up with (incoherent) opposition.

  4. momof4 says:

    One of my kid’s teammates was the son of the headmaster of a local private school with a well-deserved reputation for academic excellence and his hiring philosophy was to avoid those with education degrees, either undergrad or grad. He wanted academic degrees in the subject area and didn’t care about any ed courses and said that that was the policy of most of the local independent private schools (not including parish/diocese-run Catholic schools but including other Catholic schools).

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