Skip to content

Teach Strong: More of the Same, But with a Game Board

November 9, 2015

A group of 40 organizations, including many that are chiefly test-score-driven, corporate-reform- bent, is launching an effort to prompt the 2016 presidential contenders who are saying little about educational issues (as though they all met together and agreed, “Let’s just not talk much at all about American public education”) to agree to a nine-point plan to supposedly improve the teaching profession.

The campaign is called Teach Strong (#teachstrong) and is led by Center for American Progress (CAP). Amazingly, the teacher temp agency, Teach for America (TFA), is also in on this nine-point push, even though TFA president Elisa Villanueva Beard told Washington Post that TFA has no plans to modify its instant-oatmeal, five-week “great, very rigorous pretraining” of its turnstile teachers.

This coalition is a real corporate reform nest (e.g., Education Trust, Council of Chief State School Officers, National Council on Teacher Quality, Relay Graduate School of Education, The New Teacher Project, Education Post) plus education groups that have origins outside of corporate reform but who want (ahem) “a seat at the table” bad enough to go along with corporate reform, including both national teachers unions. (Click image to enlarge):

teachstrong

So, what is focus of the Teach Strong campaign? Why, its that same global competitiveness that gave us untested Common Core, but instead of focusing on *higher standards and next generation assessments,* this repackaged solution for Solving the International Test Score Lag is to reinvent the American Teacher and to do so with a catchy new corporate reform word: modernize:

We believe that all students, especially those from low-income families, deserve to be taught by great teachers. To accomplish this goal, we must modernize and elevate the teaching profession. This effort will require transforming the systems and policies that support teachers throughout all stages of their careers.

The Campaign.

Our students are falling behind internationally. In an effort to catch up, we are asking more from our teachers than ever before. Yet we continue to provide our teachers with inadequate preparation, training, and pay.

Teacher preparation programs lack rigor and selectivity. Two-thirds of teacher preparation programs accept more candidates than they reject, and one-quarter accept almost every candidate who applies. Education majors are 50 percent more likely to graduate with honors than undergraduates in other majors.

Only five percent of teacher preparation programs in this country include the basic components of a quality student teaching experience.

The average starting teacher salary is $36,141, and average overall salary is $56,383. U.S. teacher salaries are only 60% of those of other college-educated workers in the country.

But there is a way to improve the system and achieve better outcomes for our teachers and our students. By establishing the conditions for success, we can create a virtuous cycle, making the teaching profession more attractive to talented new entrants and further elevating the profession.

Our goal is to make modernizing and elevating the teaching profession the top education policy issue of our time.

See, it’s all about *great teachers.* That’s why corporate reform outcast Michelle Rhee celebrated the Vergara ruling. Gotta have great teachers.

So, how will Teach Strong take us there?

Via nine nebulous steps that could easily accommodate heightened bureaucratic, test-score-driven-reform demands, including VAM and merit pay, even as it does nothing new for teacher due process rights:

  1. Identify and recruit more diverse teacher candidates with great potential to succeed, with a deliberate emphasis on diversifying the teacher workforce.
  2. Reimagine teacher preparation to make it more rooted in classroom practice and a professional knowledge base, with universal high standards for all candidates.
  3. Raise the bar for licensure so it is a meaningful measure of readiness to teach.
  4. Increase compensation in order to attract and reward teachers as professionals.
  5. Provide support for new teachers through induction or residency programs.
  6. Ensure tenure is a meaningful signal of professional accomplishment.
  7. Provide significantly more time, tools, and support for teachers to succeed, including through planning, collaboration, and development.
  8. Design professional learning to better address student and teacher needs, and to foster feedback and improvement.
  9. Create career pathways that give teachers opportunities to lead and grow professionally.

Most of the above is clouded enough for even TFA to fit. After all, TFAers are already “highly qualified.”

In case one needs a picture regarding putting these nine points into action, Teach Strong offers this game board infographic (click to enlarge):

teach-strong-infographic

CAP VP Carmel Martin believes the above will “get strong (not great?) teachers in every classroom,” and “should be the next big reform in education.”

Note that Martin did not call Teach Strong the next successful reform in education. Just big.

Martin made the above comment in the November 08, 2015, Washington Post article linked above. The article was written by Lyndsey Layton, who ends with this been-here-before observation:

Martin… said the [Teach Strong] campaign will include events in early presidential primary states and important swing states, as well as Twitter town halls, online events and social media outreach. The think tank expects to spend $1 million, she said. …

In 2008, three foundations launched “Ed in ’08,” a $60 million attempt to make education a top priority and get presidential hopefuls to address three issues: agreeing on national education standards, giving students more time and help to learn, and providing effective teachers in every classroom. After spending $24 million, with little result, they pulled the plug.

Perhaps what the Ed in ’08 campaign needed was a cool game board infographic.

We’ll see where this Teach Strong campaign takes us. I’m thinking, not far.

revolving door

______________________________________________________________

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of the ed reform whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education (April 2014, Information Age Publishing).

She also has a second book, Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools? (June 2015, TC Press).

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

13 Comments
  1. As always, dibs on the Scotty Dog …

  2. “Elevate Teaching” —

    When it comes to hoisting, it’s good to know whose petard is providing the lift.

  3. Jake J permalink

    TRANSLATED:

    Identify and recruit more diverse teacher candidates with great potential to succeed, with a deliberate emphasis on diversifying the teacher workforce.

    (Translation: Redouble efforts to find more teachers of color willing to accept federal control, privatization and test-based accountability).

    Reimagine teacher preparation to make it more rooted in classroom practice and a professional knowledge base, with universal high standards for all candidates.

    (Translation: make sure acceptance of Common Core is a foregone conclusion in upcoming elections.)

    Raise the bar for licensure so it is a meaningful measure of readiness to teach.

    (Translation: use funding blackmail to make sure teacher prep programs accept Core and VAM.)

    Increase compensation in order to attract and reward teachers as professionals.

    (Translation: recruit teachers who are in it for the money, despite all surveys showing committed teachers prefer improved working conditions).

    Provide support for new teachers through induction or residency programs.

    (Translation: hire our consultants to make sure older teachers cannot explain to recruits how they are being exploited).

    Ensure tenure is a meaningful signal of professional accomplishment.

    (Translation: Bastardize tenure so it encourages compliance instead of autonomy).

    Provide significantly more time, tools, and support for teachers to succeed, including through planning, collaboration, and development.
    Design professional learning to better address student and teacher needs, and to foster feedback and improvement.

    (Translation: pay privatized corporate reformsters for PD on an ongoing basis)

    Create career pathways that give teachers opportunities to lead and grow professionally.

    (Translation: use this program to promote compliant teachers into the revolving door to perpetuate the government/corporate partnerships that profit as local control of schools diminishes.)

    • Jill Reifschneider permalink

      Gag me with a spoon. Thank you for keeping us abreast of the latest in attack tactics on the profession and our public school system.

    • There are plenty of “diverse teacher candidates” available in New Orleans and Washington DC. Many of this same group made sure they lost their jobs after hurricanes Katrina and Rhee.

  4. Jill Reifschneider permalink

    Gag me with a spoon. Thank you for keeping us abreast of the latest in attack tactics on the profession and our public school system.

  5. ira shor permalink

    Center for American Progress is a Hillary think-tank. The continuing anger of so many educators at the private war on public schools and the forced endorsement of Hillary by the two renegade teacher union presidents is causing concern in Hillary’s camp. This ridiculous “Teach Strong” campaign is another spin-doctor campaign gambit to make believe Hillary has a program for public schools, disguised as a privatization initiative.

  6. Will it ever end??? If we could just go back to real, developmentally appropriate teaching… things would be ok. Heaven help us.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. What Is Jack Markell Up To Today? Teachers Beware! | Exceptional Delaware
  2. Professional Teachers—Click, Click! Poof! You’re Gone!
  3. NEA: Acting Against Its Own Interest | Live Long and Prosper
  4. An Interesting Plan from a New Organization | School Building

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: