For six years, Prince George's County Public Schools, a Maryland district just outside our nation's capital, has aggressively recruited foreign teachers (predominantly from the Philippines) to teach in PG County in order to help the district address its desperate need of Highly Qualified teachers (NCLB-style) in difficult-to-staff areas like science, math, and special education. And the recruiting paid off: Hundreds of foreign national teachers answered the call, in a large part because of the opportunity (heavily underlined by PGCPS recruiters) that a H1-B visa (or ?work visa?) could lead in the long term to a permanent resident status (or ?green card?). Put aside for a moment the problem with attracting teachers via the lure of a potential ?green card? (something the district can in no way ensure). The biggest issue with the program?and why it fell under investigation by the Department of Labor?is that it charged would-be teachers thousands of dollars in illegal fees (for visa processing, placement, attorneys fees, etc.). The Department of Labor called the practice a ?violations of willful nature.?
This DOL investigation (which wrapped up yesterday when PGCPS dropped its appeal) found quite the rat's nest at the program's core. To start, the overseas hiring practices of PG County, while well-intentioned, were completely ill-managed. More importantly, though, PGCPS has effectively condemned hundred of teachers to not only lose their
The following blog post was written by Penelope Placide, a ninth grader who works for Fordham one day a week through her school's Corporate Work Study Program. Not only is Penelope a wonderful asset on a daily basis, she possesses invaluable insider knowledge as a current student immersed in the everyday realities of American schooling. With her bubbly personality (which is certainly reflected in this blog post), Penelope consistently shared stories of the many positive experiences she has had with teachers throughout her educational experience. In light of the current teacher-quality debates, Penelope realized her potential, as someone who is best able to speak to what really matters to students. What started out as a casual discussion about the creation of a blog post that would express her point of view quickly evolved into the development of a mini-survey of Penelope's classmates. As she describes in her blog post below, Penelope was not satisfied with simply reiterating her own beliefs about the qualities that a good teacher possesses; she wanted to explore a sample of student perspectives on the topic and share them with the education policy realm. Penelope's hard work and initiative allowed her to produce this compelling blog post.
Hi! I am a 9th grade student who has
The Times' Room for Debate blog tackles teacher evaluations today, in particular the news that New York City plans to introduce a dozen new tests in order to gather data for said evaluations. Participants include Linda Darling-Hammond, Kevin Carey, Marcus Winters, and yours truly, among others. Here's my submission; read the whole package here. [quote]
Improving teacher evaluations is one of the most important reforms encouraged by the federal ?Race to the Top? initiative ? and one of the central components to making our schools better. No one can defend today's evaluation systems which, by and large, find every teacher to be above average (if not superior) even as our student achievement results lag our international competitors.
If pay and employment decisions are to be based on teacher performance, at least in part, we need evaluations that can stand up to scrutiny (and to lawsuits). Simply put, we won't make much progress in terminating our least effective teachers (either for cause or because of budget pressures) until we have evaluation systems that are fair, trustworthy and rigorous. And it's only common sense that one element of those evaluations should be an assessment of how much students are learning under the teacher's charge.
However, there's a real downside in moving to centralized, rules-based, bureaucratic evaluation models, as indicated by New York City's decision to add a
Fordham Institute President Chester Finn, has an interesting op-ed in the NY Daily News today. He writes about the prospect of teacher layoffs in NYC due to budget woes. I'll highlight a few of his points here.
Finn says no one likes to see teachers lose their jobs, since most are ?hardworking, committed, decent individuals who care about kids.? He notes, however, that salaries and benefits constitute at least 70% of every school system budget, and most of those paychecks go to teachers, so it's nearly impossible to attempt serious budget cuts without looking in that direction.
If layoffs do have to happen, much hinges on which teachers are let go, Finn warns. Classroom effectiveness ?should be the main criterion,? he writes.
He also writes that when it comes to the issue of class size, ?there is no persuasive evidence that smaller classes yield higher student achievement. Class size doesn't begin to compare with teacher effectiveness.?
Finn says much more. Get the full picture by reading the piece here.
About the Editor
Michael J. Petrilli
Executive Vice President
Mike Petrilli is one of the nation's foremost education analysts. As executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, he oversees the organization's research projects and publications and contributes to the Flypaper blog and weekly Education Gadfly newsletter.
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