Over dinner the other night a teacher friend asked if I knew of a P.E. teacher who was looking for a position. Her Chicago school doesn’t have one and can’t find one.
More than 1,400 teaching positions went vacant last school year, half of them in bilingual or special education. Forty percent of all vacancies were in Chicago Public Schools, but rural downstate districts also struggled to find teachers, according to a new report by the Illinois State Board of Education.
This was all so predictable.
Combine falling competitive compensation, phony teacher accountability measures that evaluate teachers on how well their individual students perform on a high-stakes test and blaming teacher unions for everything under the sun and this is what you get.
And the hand wringing and crocodile tears over the failure to recruit teachers of color?
Steans rejects the idea that raising teacher standards must come at the cost of diversity. She says colleges of education should do more to recruit talented minorities.
“Raising teacher standards,” has been an empty catch phrase, created by corporate reformers and school privatizers to go after pubic education, neighborhood schools and teacher unions.
Illinois (and, amazingly, the state teacher unions too) caved to this nonsense when it passed the Performance Evaluation Reform Act (PERA) and weakened tenure and seniority rights.
How can you expect to successfully recruit teachers when you offer so little in the way of salary, professional respect and voice and then take away any fairness in the way of job protection?
The Illinois legislature passed the Act, drafted by IEA Executive Director Audrey Soglin, after Secretary of Education Arne Duncan demanded it in exchange for his disastrous Race to the Top.
The Illinois State Board of Education, with funding from corporate foundations like the Joyce Foundation, have come up with a plan to stop the teacher shortage crisis.
Read the recommendations and it is just more of the same old same old.
As for the failure to place teachers of color in front of students of color? There is a total lack of urgency coming from the state board, reflecting the lack of urgency from those like Steans.