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Nancy Bailey's Education Website: Who’s Teaching America’s Students?

Teachers, I believe, are the most responsible and important members of society because their professional efforts affect the fate of the earth. 

~Helen Caldicott, Australian physician, author, and anti-nuclear advocate.

Students need professional teachers with subject degrees if they’re to graduate and gain acceptance to universities or enter the workforce capable of a trade. With teachers leaving due to poor treatment, who’s teaching America’s students?

There has been a concerted effort to push teachers out for years, to end teachers unions, decrease pay, let anyone teach, and replace teachers with screens.

Here are some of what students may face.

Chromebooks

Cyber schools like Rocketship get state funding, despite concerns about how they are run and poor results. Students in public schools may face computer screens with programs like iReady and Amplify for most of their learning, despite a lack of positive solid longitudinal studies.

Some parents homeschool and choose Connections Academy, operated by Pearson Online & Blended Learning K-12. Or they might resort to Stride K12, previously K12 Inc. then K12. Despite poor records, these online programs continue to be state-funded, with money that should go to actual public schools.

In 2018, during the Trump administration, the  United States Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement gave Waterford UpStart, a program promising kindergarten readiness, a grant of $14.2 million to launch pilot programs in various states. How many school districts today purchase this online program to sit preschoolers and kindergartners in front of computer screens at home and school?

Online schooling is about student data. Who’s profiting from children’s online information? How are students tracked? As teachers leave, watch more unproven technology take over.

Horizons National

Are nonprofits replacing teachers?

Education Secretary Dr. Miguel Cardona and Dr. Jill Biden have recently cheered Horizons National, which recruits workers from AmeriCorps VISTA, supporters of Teach for America, for summer school. Those working with children likely meant well but were they, real teachers? Teachers used to teach summer school.

Why were they hired by a nonprofit, not the school district’s personnel department? Why didn’t America’s Rescue funds pay for teachers and resources to innovate and address student needs this summer and in the fall instead of a nonprofit?

Will this kind of privatization be the future of schooling in America?

The Military

Instead of working to bring real teachers back to the classroom, on June 9, the Florida Legislature passed a bill that approved military members who haven’t yet earned a college degree to teach.

Republican Governor Ron DeSantis doesn’t trust public education or teachers. So hiring military personnel who haven’t earned a college degree may seem like a solution to him. But how will students learn if teachers lack qualifications?

From the Florida Department of Education:

Effective July 1, 2022, Florida issues a 5-year Temporary Certificate for military veterans who have not yet earned their bachelor’s degrees and meet the following eligibility:

  • Minimum of 48 months of active duty military service with an honorable/medical discharge
  • Minimum of 60 college credits with a 2.5 grade point average
  • Passing score on a Florida subject area examination for bachelor’s level subjects which demonstrate mastery of subject area knowledge
  • Employment in a Florida school district, including charter schools

Before applying for this pathway, complete a waiver request for the Military Certification Fees Waiver (MCFW).

Teach Plus

Blogger Steven Singer critiqued Teach Plus. It’s a longtime nonprofit that selects and trains teachers and is unfavorable towards traditional teachers. According to The New York Times, they were funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and in 2011 teacher union activists called them an astroturf organization.

Sourcewatch lists Teach Plus leaders and team members called teachers despite coming from groups like Teach for America.

The Obama administration favored Teach Plus, and so does President Biden, who hired the CEO of Teach Plus, Roberto Rodriguez, to lead the U.S. Education Department’s Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development (OPEPD), one of the most important offices in the department. He advises the education secretary on policy development, implementation, and review.

OPEPD is home to the Grants Policy Office, the Office of the Chief Data Officer, the Office of Educational Technology, the Student Privacy Policy Office, and the Office of Budget Service.

Why would they support an organization with a history of not backing professional teachers?

What to Look For in a Teacher

Whether it involves the groups above, tutors, Teach for America, or those from fast-track residency programs, parents shouldn’t have to wonder about the background of their student’s teachers.

Here are four conditions that parents should look for:

  1. Preparation from a Quality University. Teachers should have several years of study from a reputable university resulting in a bachelor’s and preferably a master’s degree in education. Be cautious of backgrounds listing for-profit universities, nonprofits that train teachers, and other fly-by-night fast-track programs.
  2. Student Teaching. Every teacher should have practicums and student teaching with reputable teachers in accredited public schools for at least a semester during and after they obtain a bona fide degree.
  3. In-Field Preparation. Teachers should have university backgrounds and classes in the areas that they teach. For example, special education teachers should have prepared to work with students in the designated disability or gifted areas and have students in the area they will teach. Math teachers should have studied mathematics and be prepared to work with students in that area.
  4. Alternative Teachers. Teachers from outside the field should have had coursework from a legitimate university to understand child development and psychology and the area where they will teach, teaching methods, and more.

School districts used to enforce teaching regulations involving certification. Corporate school reformers and No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, and the Every Student Succeeds Act changed this.

Americans must demand that students have qualified teachers. They should do this for the students and the future of our country!

Reference

Dillon, S. (2011, May 21) Behind Grassroots School Advocacy, Bill Gates. The New York Times. Retrieved from  https://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/22/education/22gates.html?pagewanted=all

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Nancy Bailey

Nancy Bailey was a teacher in the area of special education for many years, and has a PhD in educational leadership from Florida State University. She has a...