Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Impact on Teacher Diversity: Teacher Certifications Decline As NYS Uses Tougher Exams

Interesting for a lot of reasons but also in light of the teacher diversity campaign.... Harris Lirtzman
A good debate took place at MORE and ICE discussion lists over an article in the Times last week about the teacher certification issue one of the great Pearson scams.

Today at the PEP meeting, the Teacher Diversity Committee, led by Sean Ahern, will be presenting petitions to Carmen Farina. At last week's DA, MORE's Megan Moskop made a proposed resolution but it was pre-empted by the leadership, which shows that Sean's decade long campaign is bearing fruit. Farina issued statement to every teacher on how the DOE supports moves towards teacher diversity. As Sean often points out, the diversity issue is not about claiming that more teachers of color will close any learning gaps, but about making sure our students see a diverse teaching staff in front of them, unlike so many mostly white, mostly young charter school teachers. The TDC has done its research and come up with some astounding numbers for Eva Moskowitz's Success Academy charters. (See ed notes: Success Academy Charter School Teachers Sep 22, 2014-   59% of NYC DOE teachers are white. Check out the astounding numbers of white teachers in the Success Charter school chain obtained by the Teacher Diversity Committee. If this were Birmingham in 1964 there would be ...)

Back to the teacher exam and how it connects to the lower numbers of teachers of color. The newer exams in NY State are quite expensive. The NY Times article states
"In New York, some education schools say the new teaching tests are hurting minority candidates the most. While many education experts celebrated New York’s result as an important step in enhancing teacher quality, state officials conceded that the new standards were likely to have a disproportionate impact on minority applicants. They described that situation as an extension of an achievement gap that begins in elementary school and continues throughout much of postsecondary education.

Administrators said they were starting to see some evidence of this at places like Lehman College in the Bronx, where passing rates for each of the new certification tests were lower than the statewide averages last year.

“We are largely serving what I would call minority populations not only because of the color of their skin,” said Harriet R. Fayne, the dean of the Lehman School of Education. “We serve recent immigrants. We serve individuals who have had interrupted formal education. We serve individuals whose first language might not be English.”
Assailed Teacher made some crucial points:
My student-teacher last year was a former student of mine. Like most of my students, she is a minority from the inner city. Her parents are from Mexico. She talked about edTPA and all the testing and it stressed her out. I learned a few things from this.
First, these new requirements do not ensure the quality of new teachers. They are, essentially, more exams. Passing an exam does not a good teacher make. The portfolio part is full of fluff and jargon. It tests your ability to spew pedagogical platitudes. It does not assess your potential worth as a teacher.

Second, my student-teacher was stressing out about the price she had to pay for all of this. She said between all the testing and edTPA, her parents were spending upwards of a thousand dollars on this stuff. That is ludicrous. Most of that money is going into the pockets of Pearson. It is a giant barrier ensuring poor people cannot join the ranks of new teachers. Only families who are independently wealthy can sustain a student who does not pass a test the first time around.

As many of us know, one of the major shortcomings of the current teaching force is the fact that there are too many non-native New Yorkers who grew up in some suburban wonderland with a mommy and daddy to support them. These new certification requirements will ensure that this remains a permanent state of affairs, and that is a shame to say the least.

Teaching has often been a way for poor people from the city to join the ranks of the middle class. I'm an example of this, as are many of you. Pearson, King, Tisch and Cuomo have been dismantling this tradition through these new ridiculous requirements. It is the gentrification of the teaching force.

As someone who has been a dean, chapter leader and mentor, I see the difference between the way gentrifiers deal with NYC kids and native NYers deal with NYC kids. In short, we need many many more native NYers in the classroom, especially New Yorkers of color.
I added:
Lots of teachers in my school came through the para program. They often came from the schools in our neighborhood and didn't get the same kind of academic and cultural education esp in high school. The tests seem to measure that - which has little to do with teaching. I worked with many of these people and they brought certain skills to the table that their backgrounds gave them.
I believe that the picture in the minds of ed deformers like Klein and Bloomberg, were not these from the neighborhood people. It is young and white. Deformers want to break the neighborhood connection to schools to make it easier for privatization and also see that a teaching staff with too many teachers of color who are unionized may undermine the deformer attempts to create an anti-union environment in prime charter invasion neighborhoods.

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