Thursday, May 30, 2002

Teacher Shortage?

We hear this buzz continuously that there exists this big teacher shortage.
I am reminded of an article in the Onion whose headline ran "Boomer Die Off
Happening Soon". This is satire of course but the belief is that with the
largest economic force enmass to move through American society ever is now
heading towards retirment.

This is theory it makes sense and some of it can be proven. But statstics
can be manipulated, case in point: 85 % of Americans cannot read nor write.
As a matter of fact a large portion of these in individuals do not even know
where they live. Therefore we need to fund reading literacy programs and
utilize those actions that actually teach our students. Ah, but here is the
rub as they say, those 85% are comprised mainly of children under the age
of 5. See? I manipulate your understanding here is an even simpler statement:
60% of our students are female and can read at the 5th grade level. Therefore
our reading program works.


30% of our students who are male cannot even read at the 5th grade level.
Therefore our reading program is not working. Now let me say this: I have
3 students 2 girls 1 boy and they are all in the 4th grade. Now what does
the data mean? See same information spun two different ways.

Now here is a good spin:

There exists in the nation a teacher shortage. Ah, yes this is what we are
told. There are many teachers who will be retiring in the next few years
and there are no teachers to replace them. Quantitatively this makes as much
sense as little green men from Mars - and I assist in the home SETI project!
The spin is this: if we claim that there is a teacher shortage then we can
hire none-certified teachers at a lower wage than maintaining the current
certified teachers at a higher (livable) wage.

Yes simple argument perhaps, but let us look at recent events currently MPS
is claiming some 3,000 teacher shortage for this year - but we are not told
is that many of t these "vacancies" are internal and will be filled through
cross transfer. Same amount of people just moving about. I went to a teacher
hiring fair put on by our local CESA organization. The fair was for 150 teaching
positions. There were over 500 applicants. Most of these applicants were
"older" more experienced teachers and more than once these teachers were
told point blank "We are only hiring recent graduates, w cannot afford to
hire you."

The teacher shortage takes on a different meaning under this guise - it is
not that we have a lack of good teachers it is that we lack cheap teachers.