Education, Must Reads, Recommended

The Public School Teacher Attrition Crisis

In spring of 2019, I finished a semester of student teaching, completed my Master of Arts in Teaching, and accepted a full-time job offer to teach high school English at a public school just outside of Salt Lake City. A couple of weeks ago, after teaching only one full semester, I quit.

Although I loved teaching English and engaging with students, the current working conditions at my school—and in schools across America—are so poor that teachers are leaving in alarming numbers, causing a vast teacher shortage that has escalated to a crisis in many states. Considering that enrollment in teacher training programs is drying up and the teacher shortage is only set to increase, it is important to understand why teachers are leaving the profession. I can only speak for myself, but recent research and an internet full of anecdotal evidence support the idea that I am not alone.

It goes without saying that we need talented, passionate teachers who can impact students positively, especially because teacher turnover harms student achievement and is expensive for schools to resolve. But nationwide, issues like administrative lack of support and incompetence, overwhelming class size, burdensome paperwork, and disciplinary issues overshadow the joys of teaching and make public schools intolerable places to build a career. Teachers, especially those in their first years, have to ask themselves: “Do I really want to commit the next 30 years to working in this kind of environment?” Increasingly, the answer is no.

A study done by Utah Leading through Effective, Actionable, and Dynamic Education (ULEAD) reports that nearly four in 10 teachers leave the profession in the first five years, and research by the University of Pennsylvania suggests that the numbers are similar nationwide. Annually, the Learning Policy Institute cites a nationwide annual attrition rate of eight percent. The effects of this shortage are even worse in urban schools that serve poor and minority students, which experience even higher turnover rates and have up to four times the number of uncertified teachers that well-funded schools do.

Task forces trying to stem the hemorrhage of teachers leaving the profession tend to focus mostly on pay raises, while ignoring what teachers are actually saying about why they’re leaving. A promised pay raise sounds good, but it is a dishonest and ineffective way of solving the problem because the reasons for the teacher exodus are actually well-studied and understood. This isn’t to say that pay doesn’t matter. But teachers know going into the profession how much they’ll be paid, and they decide to become teachers anyway. Indeed, polls support the idea that while a low salary might keep people out of the teacher profession, it factors minimally into the reasons that current teachers leave. So why do they leave?

Lack of administrative support is perhaps the most crucial issue that contributes to a poor working environment, particularly when it comes to the importance of principal effectiveness. In my own school, our principal seemed to be driven primarily by statistics. Rather than focusing on academic rigor, respectful student behavior, and supporting teachers, he seemed to be focused on an inscrutable combination of bad policy and wishful thinking. Warnings to teachers about suboptimal graduation rates and poor percentages of students with Fs were presented along with a desire to model our school atmosphere on a book he read about Disneyland—that is, making school about the user experience. What, he asked, could we teachers be doing to motivate students better so they didn’t get Fs? What could we do to make every day magical? We were even encouraged to go back retroactively and “make deals” with students to turn in work from past quarters, negotiating the earned “F” to a more mild “Incomplete.” When students failed, the principal blamed the teachers.

The vice principals at our school were just as problematic. More concerned with placating upset students and parents than backing up teachers, they would accept absurd excuses and tolerate unacceptable behavior. In my first quarter of teaching, I had a student who publicly posted a picture on her Snapchat account (a social media platform where people can post pictures that disappear after a set time limit) in which she offered to pay someone to do a project in my class. When other students who had worked hard on the project showed me this Snapchat post, I felt the most appropriate consequence was for her to fail the assignment. When I confronted her about the cheating and failing grade, this student threw her homework at me, called her mother to come “yell at me,” and then got back on Snapchat and threatened that whoever snitched was going to “catch the smoke”—a euphemism for retaliatory violence, particularly shooting.

There are always students who behave disruptively, and this student was appropriately expelled by the district for making the threat. The situation was deeply unpleasant, but by itself it wasn’t intolerable. What made things so difficult was the administration’s attitude: “But do you have proof of the post?” asked one vice principal, despite the student admitting to it. “If not, you’re going to be the bad guy here.” Later, after meeting with the mother of this child, the same vice principal said, “The mother told me to tell you to stop using other students’ phones to get her daughter in trouble—just for what it’s worth.” Upon the student’s expulsion and transfer, this vice principal came to me and asked if I would give this student a passing grade to take to her new school. “If all this hadn’t happened, would she have passed?” he wanted to know. I almost quit right then.

That situation got worse. This student had a reputation for hanging out with a group of kids who beat other kids up. When several students independently warned me that the offending student’s mother was “scary,” and if she showed up to “leave and get help right away,” I expressed concern for my safety and asked administration to have someone walk me to my car after school for a few days. This request was met with a scoff and dismissed as unnecessary. The entire experience made it painfully clear that, given the choice between supporting teachers or supporting parents and students—no matter how badly they behaved—the administration would not side with teachers.

This wasn’t my only bad experience with administration, it was just the worst. I was encouraged by one vice principal to bring in writing from another class to give credit to a failing student who hadn’t turned anything in. A different vice principal expressed concern that, by discussing LGBT topics in class, a parent might complain that I, the teacher, “turned their child gay,” and so I should know my audience and behave more circumspectly. I realize that this is anecdotal, but if you ask any teacher about administrative issues, they will provide an arsenal of stories in which they were actively undermined by administration—forced to change grades, forced to switch failing students to new classes so they could avoid doing difficult work, asked to rework their curriculum because the academic rigor was simply too much for students to pass… It goes on and on.

Naturally, you might wonder, if administrators are such a problem, why not just fire the bad ones? That would seem sensible, but reality tells a different story. Criticism of public schools often focuses on the difficulty of firing bad public employees, including administrators, and rightly so. In 2013, the New York Post reported that just two out of 14 principals in New York City reported for misconduct over the course of three years had been fired. A good friend of mine who also teaches was regularly harassed by her principal, who had an unfortunate tendency to rub teachers on their lower back or ask if they enjoyed anal sex. After years of complaints of sexual harassment, this principal was removed—only to be placed in another school. This is not uncommon. Ineffective principals are often reprimanded and then shuffled around to another school or promoted in a real-life manifestation of the Dilbert Principle. Why? Because there aren’t enough qualified people to step in. So bad administrators stay in place and teachers and students suffer the consequences.

Enormous class sizes are another challenge teachers face. In my school, classes typically held 37 – 40 students. Some elective classes were smaller, but only a few. While the state officially lists its average secondary class size as 29, in most schools class sizes are far higher, sometimes reaching nearly 50. Teaching and grading homework for classes of this size borders on the impossible, to say nothing of daily classroom management. If only one in 10 kids are disruptive and wild, it’s sufficient enough to derail the entire class, and teachers certainly cannot take the time to give quality feedback on each of 250 student assignments if they hope to sleep or see their families.

Frustratingly, the good teachers who manage despite all this are rarely recognized or rewarded. In my case, within only one semester of teaching, I achieved the “Highly Effective” level of teaching that is expected after three years of experience. My students consistently told me they loved my classes and “actually learned.” The quality of their work reflected this. But a great yearly review and positive student interactions don’t yield a raise. Instead, a raise is granted each year, to each teacher, regardless of competence.

The ironic truth is that good teachers end up working even harder with little in the way of recognition or compensation. The consequence of having a reputation for being a good teacher is that the students of disliked, unmotivated teachers transferred into my classes and the classes of other teachers who were competent and friendly, yielding even higher class sizes and more time spent grading. Good teachers are also asked to pick up more leadership, committee, and advisory activities, many of which are not compensated. It’s hard to understand why anyone would spend hours outside the classroom scouring materials and preparing rigorous, engaging lessons, when teachers who turn off the lights every class and flash PowerPoints while they shop on Amazon are compensated exactly the same.

This is because somehow, in an age of burdensome standards and regulations, there is not sufficient monitoring to ensure that teachers who don’t actually teach are reprimanded and removed. Insofar as data is collected, it serves primarily as a preventative measure against litigious parents, rather than as a standard for measuring teacher efficacy. Standards that purportedly measure a teacher’s effectiveness are specious and easily worked around by pushing paperwork at exhausted administrators who are all too happy to check off a box and call it a day.

Unfortunately, paper pushing and working around endless policies and meetings are just more problems driving teachers out of the profession. Rather than giving teachers as much contract time as possible to prepare their lessons and materials, hours upon hours are wasted sitting through endless meetings with material that could be covered in one well-written email. Any open time is seized as an opportunity for professional development, and school districts spend tens of thousands of dollars bringing in the latest and greatest presenters of educational trends that will be quickly dispensed with as soon as the next fad emerges. The sheer amount of paperwork, especially for special education teachers, is truly mind-boggling, and is almost entirely collected in an effort to prevent parents from suing the school. During my time teaching, I had to pass out anonymous quizzes gauging student interest in sports because our district was getting sued for not funding a girls’ tackle football team.

Angry parents, who are increasingly entitled by administrators who refuse to set limits, can also make life miserable for teachers. And their children, who are also increasingly entitled and poorly behaved, are empowered by district and school policies hesitant to discipline students for fear of appearing racist or ableist and getting sued. A recent article in Quillette detailed the tendency of schools to coddle the worst-behaving students, rather than support the learning of the students who are engaged and well behaved. California has implemented a ban on suspending students for “willful defiance,” and other states are set to follow suit. In large part, these bans are coming into effect because a disproportionate number of students who are suspended are black or Hispanic, which is used as incontrovertible proof of racism on the part of teachers. But when the suspensions are compared to the demographics of student misbehavior, racism as an explanation for who gets suspended and for how long is very small. California bureaucrats might not like it, but by their own admission, black and Hispanic students tend to misbehave more often, both inside and outside of the classroom. Ignoring their behavior in favor of a politically correct disciplinary agenda removes teachers’ and administrators’ ability to deal with disruptive students effectively.

Teachers, therefore, are stuck when it comes to student discipline. Do you let a rowdy student disrupt the learning process, or get chastised by administration and possibly have to confront angry parents? I only kicked students out of class twice: One for suffocating my classroom with the reek of marijuana, and another for refusal to follow rules and confrontational insubordination. On both occasions, I was admonished. I had one administrator tell me that when I kick a kid out of class, I “lose all my power” as a teacher. How do they believe this, rather than the opposite? How has this reached such a point? When did we decide that the soft bigotry of low expectations was the appropriate alternative to boundaries, discipline, and academic achievement?

And, more importantly, how could these problems exist and still possibly foster an environment of excellent behavior and academic learning? Why would a bright, capable young professional build a career in a setting such as this? Unfortunately, more and more teachers are facing the sad reality of the problems of the public school system and choosing alternative career paths. Veteran teachers at my school who truly loved teaching talked about how much things had changed, how bad things had gotten, and how they wished they could leave. I loved teaching, too, and I was good at it. But I’m not the type to martyr my sanity for the good of everyone else. So I left.

All this paints a fairly stark picture of the public schooling system. Throwing more money at the problem and crushing alternatives to public school, as some Democrats suggest, is not going to make things better. Neither is being as stingy as possible on education or letting charter schools run amok, as many Republicans would do if they had their way. Regardless of the quality of charter and private schools, we will always need a public alternative.

The solution doesn’t have to be so complicated. The basics of great education have been around for thousands of years; it simply doesn’t take tremendous amounts of money to teach well. In an English classroom, we rarely need more than a pen and paper and a book or an essay to get the job done. Small class sizes, high expectations for student academic performance and behavior, and diligent, invested, highly respected educators backed up by an administration who supports teachers over parents and students would fix so many of these problems. But until it starts getting better, fewer and fewer ambitious and competent youngsters will see teaching as an attractive profession. And so the teacher shortage problem is going to continue to get worse.

 

Elizabeth Emery has a Master of Arts in Teaching and is currently living in Chicago, IL. She has been published in Cracked, the Utah Statesman, and has an article forthcoming in Heterodox Academy. You can follow her on Twitter @NewLizardBrain

Comments

  1. It’s hardly a crisis that so many people find it intolerable to participate in government propaganda mills.

  2. When I was young, a lot of organizations operated like there was an infinite number of people. The military was a good example – enlisted members of the military were used for a variety of menial and demeaning jobs. Once the military became voluntary, things changed. Many services were farmed out to vendors leaving the interesting mililtary jobs to the volunteers. One did not join the Marines or the Army to peel potatoes or pick up trash.

    The teaching profession still acts like there are an infinite number of applicants in the hiring pool. Why nurture young talent if ten more are willilng to step into the same job. Young teachers get absolutely the worst assignments and no help or nuturing. Teaching takes 4 or 5 years to get comfortable and competent. Most young teachers have flown the coop by then, particularly if they have the skills to do other, more satisfying work, they are gone, The administrators are jokes. My wife had a science background and decided she would rather work with kids than do blood samples. Her princiipal ad a physical Ed. background, got enough educational credits to get a Ph.D. and was the principal. She knew nothing about teaching and this was true of many administrators she had.

    What is needed are competent teachers to act as mentors. None of the sink or swim that is the current system of training. Good teachers should be paid more than poor ones, administrators should have enough of a background to actually tell who are good teachers, and teachers should be rewarded if they have a needed skill set. With unions and seniority, I don’t see this happening!

  3. It was thirty years ago following a school function that we decided to pull our children from public schools and put them in a private school. Yes it was a significant financial burden but the cost was much less than the public schools were getting per pupil. From those days I can still recall the impressions were as between night and day. The private school respected us as parents while the words from the public school teachers and administrators often betrayed an attitude the children belonged to the state and we were of little importance. In the public school our eldest was often abused by other students and grew to loath attending, whereas in the private school all our kids flourished in an environment that was under control. At our last public school assembly for parents we were locked outside waiting in the rain till just before the event and then when inside were treated to a political diatribe wholly inappropriate to the event.

    In the years preceding our decision we weighed the responsibility of remaining and fighting the battle but decided on the change because we had a greater responsibility to our children. Leading up to that decision we were often confronted with an institution that wanted to be a power unto its own, free of community and parental influence, and instead it become a battleground ruled by the noisiest and most belligerent.

    Since that time the disruptions and danger in schools has reportedly increased and yet the “solutions” were to add more administrators and further centralize the bureaucracy to more remote reaches of government. Frankly it is tragic but it is my opinion the schools brought this on themselves as they chased away the people who were the most likely to be their advocates and the ones to effect positive outcomes.

  4. In the writer’s defence, she never demanded an increase in the budget, or that money be thrown at the problem. All she asked for was better standards and greater support for teachers. Which costs nothing.

  5. This problem is not new. I recall 22 years ago my son’s mid-term report card showed a 4% in science. I went to the parent-teacher conference and asked 1. How a child can get 4% in science (showing up to the class breathing warrants something of a grade) and 2. Why I wasn’t informed of the issue until the mid-term report?

    The teacher had a myriad of excuses, including coaching the volleyball team and, well, there was the teacher’s strike…

    It was at that point I insisted that he have the educational assessment that the school had resisted doing for years, promising to have supports in place for him, but never following through.

    The school assessor was flabbergasted. He said he’d never assessed a child with such a high IQ! Yet for years my son was shuffled along to become someone else’s problem.

    That really is the core of the problem - a system that insists on pushing students along, “for their self-esteem”, instead of taking the steps to help them succeed.

    The die was cast for my son - any inclination to apply himself was ground out of him by Grade 3.

    However, today he is a happy and successful chef, with certainly no credit to the educational system.

  6. Instead, a raise is granted each year, to each teacher, regardless of competence.

    That is a rule negotiated by the teacher’s unions. The administration can be blamed for a lot of things, but not that one. Money is finite. If the union demands constant raises for seniority, then administration’s hands are tied: they cannot reward good teachers with better pay if the entire payroll budget is already allocated.

  7. One of the factors that goes into this dystopian model of education, is Unions- in New York, Union negotiated contracts have resulted in Principals being limited in the number of times that they can observe a teacher teaching, and include the requirement to give advance notice. Given that many teacher education degrees and courses around the Western world are heavy on bad theory and ideology, and light on classroom practice, this is the exact opposite of what is required to get public education functioning again. Teachers should be given significant opportunities for on-the-job training, and be exposed to a continuous improvement environment. This doesn’t necessarily mean applying pressure to get them to perform, it’s more about providing high levels of support.

    In one company, I purchased a set of whiteboards, which were used to write down firefighting issues, as well as long term strategic goals. Pay always made it onto the board, but always in the bottom right hand corner of the board- because pay is always the issue you deal with last, once you have a bundle of achievements with which to negotiate from a position of strength. It seems to me that this is as true of education, as much as it is true of any business or public institution. How many teachers would trade in a modest pay raise for Principals and administrators that had their back, parents who understood that all the unjustified complaining in the world won’t get them anywhere, and a reprieve from overzealous external bureaucracies?

    “In large part, these bans are coming into effect because a disproportionate number of students who are suspended are black or Hispanic, which is used as incontrovertible proof of racism on the part of teachers.”

    Other than incorrectly diagnosing the problem with America’s Criminal Justice System as a problem of structurally racist policing, instead of accurately placing the blame on a court system that has had many of its checks and balances removed over time, and was derailed from it’s original mission by successive historical legislation, this was perhaps the worst domestic error of the Obama Administration. For kids who often come from poor and single parent backgrounds, live in high crime communities with few male role models, and often have unreliable, aggressive males cycling through the home, discipline is far more likely to be exactly what is required. This doesn’t necessarily mean zero tolerance, but rather strict enforcement of low-level discipline (such as detentions) from the outset, with a contract of behaviour signed by the pupil or student, on day one. Unfortunately, the liberal mindset tends to be deeply suspicious of authority and somewhat allergic to discipline.

    Perhaps the best thing that could happen for American public education would be for States to be given the right to opt-out of management by Department of Education bureaucracies, receive their share of the taxpayer funded resource that supports it, disband the state-based administration that implements it’s mandate and recruit their own innovative educational experts and cognitive scientists to redesign public education. The Department of Education was formed on 17 October 1979. It’s original mandate was to improve American Public Education across the board. It is a task that it has failed spectacularly at, with no improvement evidenced over the past 40 years. If anything, it has been responsible for providing extraordinarily bad advice to successive administrations, and implementing policies that have been hugely disruptive and harmful to kids.

    Of course, devolving power to the State, has the potential to generate a bureaucracy that is just as bureaucratic and untethered from educational realities, but with 20 or 30 experiments running at the same time, then there is at least a fair chance that one or two of the systems might come up positive innovations of a sort similar to those pioneered by E. D. Hirsch with his Core Knowledge Curriculum and Cultural Literacy. Anything would be better than the disaster that is the current system, with its blind reliance on theories produced in Educational Academia, which have no empirical evidence supporting them.

    This YouTube seminar by Jonathan Haidt, details just how messed up the Obama Administration’s approach to racial disparities in school discipline was, in implementing policies which actually reinforced the school-to-prison pipeline (relaxing low-level discipline almost always leads to worse behaviour, requiring suspension or expulsion):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQNaT52QYYA
  8. “Regardless of the quality of charter and private schools, we will always need a public alternative.”

    I’m sure Ms. Emery believes this, but it isn’t substantiated. Why, exactly, will we always “need” a public alternative? We will need a publicly-funded alternative, sure, since there will always be parents too poor to pay for education, and we want their children to be educated. Charter schools are publicly funded. If they outperform public schools, then maybe government-run schooling is just a bad idea.

  9. Government administrators have different incentives than private sector administrators. Government administrators need only to maintain the appearance of effective leadership. The “objective” measures of their performance are statistics which are easy enough to manipulate. My point is, this is a story about what it’s like to work for the government, about how the government is inefficient and ineffective. It’s a story about how the soul-crushing gears of bureaucracy are managed by dull and self-interested zombies. We know this. Everyone knows this. The genius of the pro-public-school narrative is how when discussing this topic, people focus on funding or the putative lack thereof. As if the remedy for a train wreck is to add more trains. If teachers unions could manage public education as efficiently as they manage the campaign arm of the Democratic party, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

  10. I wouldn’t tout China as a model all that much, given I teach its rejects…

    Regardless, welcome to the matriarchy, where the child knows best. At a recent faculty meeting, our guest speaker was the director of student health services. Not physical health. Mental health. Some exceptions we’re expected to deal with: students with special permission to use laptops while others are not (I asked what justifies use of a laptop, thinking of the past when they did not exist…and got: dyslexia? I still need more info in order to understand why); students allowed to text in class, students with special permission to flee class, eat in class…in other words, exert their special needs over the collective best interests of the class. And the teacher is somehow expected to master handling one person being allowed to behave in ways the rest of the students are not.

    There seems to be no good reason to enable a student to text in class unless, of course, the aim is to ENABLE mental ill health and attention-deficit-disorder.

    Add to this prior experience in enabling racism by supporting students accusing teachers of racism due to the grades they were given.

    I teach at college level, yet increasingly feel compelled by the administration to treat adults like children.

    I wanted to ask, at this meeting, how it is that I – the teacher – who also suffers from PTSD etc, somehow can make it through teaching a classroom full of all manner of lackluster characters without a) fleeing the room b) texting c) eating d) using a laptop

    In other words, how will those with these ‘special needs’ learn to function in the workplace? Or will they take their special needs with them?

  11. May I suggest a modest proposal?

    Let’s pay each Chicago teacher $170,000 a year and reduce class size to ten students.

    This is actually doable. The Chicago schools budget is $6.1 Billion and there are approximately 355,000 students in the system.

    Simple math suggests a class of 10 would yield a $170,000 income per teacher.

    For that income, the teacher would be responsible for transporting the students, feeding them breakfast and lunch and providing a classroom. A basement would do just fine.

    The teacher would be free to expel any student at any time as would the parents be free to move their children from teacher to teacher as they desired.

    May I suggest that at that rate of pay and that freedom of discipline attracting great teachers would not be a problem.

    Okay, I suppose some degree of oversight, testing and administration would be in order. 10% of salary would do nicely.

    As for the school buildings and administrative offices, perhaps some could be rented out to independent teachers - or turned into condos.

  12. The problem with this is that this is very much a blanket statement. The charter school system is a good idea, if run rigorously and ruthlessly. Will it fix the problem? I doubt it, but it will at least allow students to escape the problem, if the individual charter school is better than the rest.

    I started out teaching at a charter school, and I know other teachers who have, as well as some administrators who have. It is interesting to note some commonalities of the experience.

    1. Charter Schools work you extremely hard. For a novice teacher who doesn’t have a family or whatever this is bearable, but people wear out after regular 14 hour days.

    2. They can accomplish something very meaningful in the community, but they can also absolutely be disasters. What this depends on is a combination of the Board, the administrators they hire, and the resources that they have available.

    In my case, the Board was composed mostly of non-education types, many of whom were very suspicious of teachers and administration because they were trying to build something new and the schools in the area were failing. They blamed this on poor teaching and administration when the problems were frankly much more Global than that.

    Thus, when the teachers en masse were trying to tell them about what’s the problems in the school were that we were seeing, we were ignored, and the administration was severely doubted. This did not help, since we knew fairly well what the problems were, and they were all related to discipline. The code of conduct was not backed up by the board , and expulsion level offenses were not respected. They expected us to make every student succeed to a very high level, which is great when you get to pick the students in the school, but when you are accepting anyone who’s willing to show up , you have to expect varied outcomes from a varied pool of students, and you have to be able to deal with the discipline problems who will show up. They were not willing to do so, and so retained students in the school who were willing and able to fight at the drop of a hat. Once the school becomes an unsafe place, where fights are entertainment, education ceases.

    I observed a lot of problems in the inner-city culture I was teaching, problems of Lifestyle, problems of resources, problems around ethics and gang culture, but I can tell you that the root cause of a lot of the problems we saw with students was very very simple.

    Fatherlessness

    Half of our students had no fathers listed, and you could tell the ones who had active fathers versus the ones who had none. It was easy. They were the ones who cared about being in school as more than a place to get food and horse around. One girl was pretty much parentless, at least as far as I could tell. I think her only parent was her cell phone, and if it wasn’t her parent it was certainly her blankie. She refused to let go of it or stop looking at it. She also came to the ninth grade with an STI, either chlamydia or gonorrhea, no way to tell which the information the school was given, and it took the nurse something like 2 months to bully her mother into taking her to the ER. Mother in name only, as far as I was concerned.

    Our school could not have fixed some of these problems, no school can. There are things that can be done at the legislative level, considering that some of these things were caused at the legislative level. Thank you LBJ. However, creating a strong and very rigid disciplinary structure would have made the kids feel safe, made them understand that there were rules and consequences, and expelled those who absolutely could not follow the rules. Once that happened, learning could have taken place.

    That is what a charter school needs to have in order to succeed. Once the school has that, and administrators who are able and willing to follow it, support it, and correctly administer it, even at the cost of standing up to the parents, and the board understands it and is able to support it, then learning becomes much easier. It doesn’t matter how high your expectations are, without that, you never can reach them. And scarily enough, you can’t even reach low expectations without proper discipline!

  13. Ideologically-possessed teachers, yellow-bellied administrators, and permissive parents: how’s a student supposed to get a decent education?

    My amateur suggestion is cutting out 75 % of the administration, stratify students and curricula sharply by ability, reduce class sizes for the lower-performing levels, and discipline misbehaving students strictly from the moment they enter school. Schools can’t make up for bad parenting, but they can protect the good students from the bad ones and provide some structure to the lives of disadvantaged students.

  14. There are many problems in public education, but this gross misuse of data to support an ideological position that is so far from the truth (disproportionality laws) has done unbelievable amounts of damage.

    The kind of behavior that I am being asked to tolerate in my classroom is not only unconscionable, it is immoral.

  15. YES.

    I am certain if you look at the data, the outcomes for impaired students are improved by inclusion policies, but the data no one is looking is the impact this inclusion has on the other learners.

    As for the socialization argument - wanting students to form relationships with their peers - in my experience, this is the greatest lie of all. The impaired students I have worked with are not forming normal peer relationships. The other kids don’t treat these students poorly in my building, but they treat them like a class pet - not like a normal peer. I would also argue that while socialization is a noble goal, that is the primary responsibility of the family, not the school.

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