Thursday, June 6, 2013

Surveys: teacher morale at record lows; when the profession "no longer exists"; 2013-2014 for NYC teachers under new evaluations

Teacher morale at record lows - Judging by test scores, an American exception - Worse respect than other profession, than teachers in other countries

The NY Times' Schoolbook reports record low in teacher morale. This appears from a national study. One would wonder how changes in teacher morale have changed in New York State in the era of governor Andrew Cuomo and education commissioner John King's tough stances on (Race to the Top-driven) teacher evaluations,such as the system that King recently imposed on New York City. --How much would indices of dejection and alienation from the teaching profession have teachers felt as the scapegoating and Gates/Walton/Broad/DeVos-driven micro-managing has intensified.
Given the pressures, is it any wonder that we are seeing plaintive "I Quit" postings on the Internet and on videos going viral? --video resignations like that of history teacher Jerry Conti of Westhill High School (see at right, and see his letter republished at Huffington Post about how testing and number crunching means that the teaching profession "no longer exists"), and the western New York state teacher that penned the "I am a teacher and I am tired" poem, published at the NYSUT blog site. Even principals are quitting over the over-emphasis on tests.

And is it any wonder that the low morale and high pressure drives teachers to quit, signaling high turnover rates. Note the above chart of the high percentage of New York City teachers working two years or less.

The March 8, 2012 NY Times article by Mary Ann Giordano began:
FIRST BELL Teachers' Morale Reaches 20-Year Low
The outpouring of reaction to the release of the teacher data reports, as well as the stream of recent articles on blogs and in other publications, has provided a pretty good sense of how many teachers in New York are feeling these days: disappointed, angry, depressed, put upon and fed up.
Now comes a new survey that shows those feelings are not just held by teachers in New York — nor by an outspoken few. The MetLife Survey of the American Teacher, an annual check on the feelings of teachers, parents and students, found that morale among teachers nationwide is the lowest in 20 years, Fernanda Santos reports in The New York Times on Thursday.
More than half of teachers expressed at least some reservation about their jobs, their highest level of dissatisfaction since 1989, the survey found. Also, roughly one in three said they were likely to leave the profession in the next five years, citing concerns over job security, as well as the effects of increased class size and deep cuts to services and programs. Just three years ago, the rate was one in four.

The Times article identifies a good source of the dissatisfaction:
Sandi Jacobs, vice president of the National Council on Teacher Quality, a nonpartisan advocacy group in Washington, said the push for evaluations, punctuated by a national movement to curb the power of unions, had fostered an unsettling cultural shift.
“It’s easy to see why teachers feel put upon, when you consider the rhetoric around the need to measure their effectiveness — just as it’s easy to see why they would internalize it as a perception that teachers are generally ineffective, even if it’s not what the debate is about at all,” Ms. Jacobs said.
Many of the teachers also report that their schools have been hit with budget cuts, often resulting in layoffs, the loss of important enrichment courses and lags in technological capability in classrooms.
The dissatisfaction was across the board, though worse in urban schools and those with large minority populations, the survey found.
It is striking how much some media outlets are recognizing that the media attacks are abusive. Note, the language that this Christian Science Monitor opinion piece uses:
"The beatings will continue until teacher morale improves"

Walt Gardner's piece at the Christian Science Monitor really gets at how punitive and nasty the "reformers"' campaign is and how teachers are subject to greater demoralizing treatment than many other professions.
It’s hard to understand what reformers expect to accomplish by their incessant attacks on what seems like all teachers in general. These reformers claim that only by holding the feet of teachers to the coals can educational quality improve. It’s this argument that led to the publication in the Los Angeles Times last August of teacher ratings in the Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation’s second largest.
Teachers are treated worse
Yet few other large organizations aimed at improving performance participate in this kind of large-scale naming and shaming, because they realize how counterproductive it is. The military, for example, has some of the strictest standards for promotion. But the details of determining who should be moved up are done behind closed doors. The top brass has long known how important it is to maintain morale among the rank and file.
Large private-sector corporations know, too, that exposing and vilifying their employees will do little to improve performance. Even companies who pride themselves on transparent, broadly shared performance reviews share them internally, not with an unscrupulous, angry national public.
Teachers, however, are denied the same kind of treatment. Their performance, which is disproportionately judged by standardized test scores of their students, is broadcast far and wide. They are pilloried on all fronts as the chief culprits behind failing schools even though decades of research has shown that out-of-school factors are responsible for two-thirds of the variation in student achievement, according to the Economic Policy Institute.
Just look at the turnover rate
The result is reflected in the turnover rate. Close to 50 percent of teachers nationwide quit the field within the first five years. The cost of replacing these teachers is conservatively estimated to be $2.2 billion a year, according to the Alliance for Excellent Education.
. . . .
The main reasons teachers cite for leaving the profession are lack of support for the work they do and bureaucratic impediments, according to a study on teacher retention from the Center for Teacher Quality at California State University. The poor teaching and learning conditions exiting teachers described included lack of planning time, professional development, supplies and books, and support from the administration. They also spoke of excessive paperwork, classroom interruptions, and other restrictions that prevented them from doing their jobs.
. . . .
Lack of respect for teaching in US
Sadly, this state of disrespect, turnover, and burnout is the antithesis of the situation of teachers in other countries. In Finland, Singapore, and South Korea, which are widely considered to have some of the best school systems in the world, teachers are held in the highest regard. That may be in part because these countries recruit their teachers from the top third of their college classes. But it’s also largely the result of the culture, which reveres learning for its own sake.
Click here for the full article in the CSM. The author, Walt Gardner, was a 18 year veteran of the Los Angeles Unified School District.

What bodes for New York City teachers with the new Education Commissioner John King-imposed teacher evaluation system: massive burn-out, particularly in the SLOs (well-explained by Gotham Schools).