The Dallas Morning News published an article titled “Texas’ ‘wild west’ teacher prep landscape could make teacher shortage worse.” It reflects on Texas’ decades-long experiment with exposing children to underprepared classroom teachers in the name of rejuvenating the teacher pipeline. It neither served students nor addressed the pipeline. Here are some highlights:
- “It’s about getting a teacher in a classroom fast,” Walsh said, “and less so about getting teachers in a classroom ready to teach kids what they need to know or be able to do.”
- “So this idea that alternative certification pathways were going to solve this teacher shortage issue, I think [what] we’ve proven is that it’s actually a failed strategy,” Huie said.
- “If you’re tasked with teaching reading to kids in K, 1, 2 and 3 and you’ve never been trained on how to teach reading to students, it affects you,” Morath said. “Imagine if you had been recruited to be a brain surgeon and somebody threw you into an operating room without giving you any preparation. That is not going to go all that well.”
- “University-based programs continue to be “best in class” in the preparation they provide, Horn noted.”
- “We don’t want to experiment on kids.”
- “It’s having these perhaps unintended, but still real, consequences of simply exacerbating a challenging situation.”
North Carolina’s draft licensure proposal sets us on a similar path as Texas but lacks the humility that “alternative pathways” are neither “innovative” nor EFFECTIVE in filling the pipeline and providing students with a qualified educator in every classroom.
The image below from the NC Education Human Capital Roundtable facilitated by the Southern Regional Education Board shows how the NC draft licensure model was built on the same faulty assumption that teacher licensure was too “complex.”
While there’s room to discuss the need to recruit more diverse candidates to better reflect our student population, turning licensure on its head and capping retention of veteran teachers is bringing a sledgehammer instead of a scalpel.
The NC Teacher pipeline is leaking because of these policies over the last decade:
- NC education policy is dominated by non-educators and educators lacking recent classroom experience
- Longevity pay rewarding retention was eliminated (but remains other state employees)
- Removal of class size caps for grades 4-12
- Salary schedule subjected to annual political theater
- Salary schedule that freezes pay steps of teachers in years 15-24, and again 25+
- Salary schedule that doesn’t keep up with inflation, betraying the purchasing power of the schedule teachers “signed up for”
There’s an alternative pathway to addressing the NC teacher pipeline that better serves NC’s schoolchildren and prioritizes retention instead of just recruitment. Restoring previous policies and pay, and introducing additional supports isn’t complex. Read my take here.
Mississippi recently rejected a very similar teacher pipeline plan and instead offered significant across-the-board raises to retain current staff and recruit future staff with a stronger salary schedule.
Why is it that when Texas says “uh-oh” and Mississippi says “NO!” North Carolina’s education policy leaders fall head over heels for the failed and rejected strategy?
The draft proposal doesn’t make North Carolina “first,” “bold,” “innovative” or “brave.” It shows willful ignorance that the NC pipeline was broken over the last decade by leaders of the North Carolina General Assembly.