Fewer college students want to be teachers, and why it matters (searchable database)

Empty desks in education classes

Nearly every teacher-prep program in Michigan is enrolling fewer students today than just a few years ago. Search for an individual school, or click the arrows on the columns to sort accordingly. 

College Enrollment % Change
2010-11 2014-15
Wayne State University 2,499 1,648 -34.1%
Eastern Michigan University 2,329 1,480 -36.5%
Michigan State University 1,659 911 -45.1%
Western Michigan University 1,549 587 -62.1%
Central Michigan University 1,258 1,335 6.1%
Baker College 1,172 113 -90.4%
Oakland University 827 512 -38.1%
Grand Valley State University 751 248 -67%
Northern Michigan University 731 506 -30.8%
Spring Arbor University 568 309 -45.6%
University of Michigan - Flint 567 344 -39.3%
Ferris State University 548 837 52.7%
Saginaw Valley State University 523 216 -58.7%
University of Michigan - Ann Arbor 392 228 -41.8%
University of Michigan - Dearborn 390 543 39.2%
Aquinas College 350 238 -32%
Hope College 325 181 -44.3%
Cornerstone University 292 202 -30.8%
Alma College 222 67 -69.8%
Calvin College 220 175 -20.5%
Madonna University 204 51 -75%
Lake Superior State University 195 28 -85.6%
University of Detroit Mercy 119 17 -85.7%
Siena Heights University 100 95 -5%
Olivet College 90 9 -90%
Adrian College 88 19 -78.4%
Marygrove College 69 18 -73.9%
Robert B. Miller College 54 16 -70.4%
Concordia University 53 58 9.4%
Albion College 51 9 -82.4%
Andrews University 47 28 -40.4%
Michigan Tech. University 43 28 -34.9%
Rochester College 39 12 -69.2%
Hillsdale College 36   -100%
College for Creative Studies 33 16 -51.5%
Finlandia University 9   -100%

By any measure, Isaac Frank is a very lucky young teacher.

Just 25, he graduated from Michigan State University and landed his first job at Birmingham Seaholm High School, in an affluent district outside Detroit, with a starting salary of just over $40,000 to teach math and earth science. He has an official mentor for the first three years of his employment, and has found an unofficial one, too. He describes his colleagues as “awesome. I can’t think of anyone I don’t like.” His students, Frank says, are “very good people who are growing into respectable adults.”

But there’s a nagging voice in his head that tells him not to plan on growing old in the job. He’s concerned about what the Michigan Legislature might do to his livelihood in the future, after legislation that changed teacher retirement benefits was signed into law this summer. He’s also worried about a general erosion of respect for the teaching profession. And he’s coming to realize there’s an upper limit to his salary, no matter how good he becomes at his job.

In this, he checks several of the boxes most often cited by teachers leaving the schoolhouse behind. And enrollment in teacher-prep programs is starting to show the new attitudes.

The latest data from the U.S. Department of Education’s Title II program, which supports teacher training and professional development, show enrollment in teacher prep at the college level is falling, sharply in some states. In Michigan, 11,099 students were enrolled in the state’s 39 teacher-prep programs in 2014-15, the most recent data available. That is a 3,273-student decline from just two years previous, in 2012-13. Since 2008, the total number of Michigan college students studying to become a teacher is down more than 50 percent.

Michigan State University saw its teacher-prep enrollment fall 45 percent between 2010 and 2014, from 1,659 to 911. Grand Valley State University’s tumbled by 67 percent, from 751 to 248 in the same period. Only the University of Michigan-Dearborn and Central Michigan University saw increases, of 39 percent and 6 percent, respectively.

Whether these numbers portend a coming teacher shortage is unclear. But it does reflect a trend that has been ongoing for some time, said Abbie Groff-Blaszak, director of the Office of Educator Talent with the state Department of Education. Not only are fewer aspiring teachers entering programs, but fewer are completing them, and there’s been a decrease in teaching certificates issued by the DOE.

“We can’t identify causation,” Groff-Blaszak said. “And we don’t know yet if it’s a good thing, or not.”

She and others point to a variety of factors that are discouraging young people from pursuing teaching careers, both in Michigan and elsewhere. Among them:

Market correction

Teaching has cycles like other careers, and Michigan’s overall student enrollment is at its lowest point since the 1950s, with 1.47 million enrolled in public schools (which includes charter and cyber schools) statewide. Fewer students require fewer teachers, although shortages remain in selected subject areas, said Dan Quinn, director of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice, a policy think tank in East Lansing. Those shortages are primarily in math, science and special education, along with world languages.

“This (trend) doesn’t immediately portend a teacher shortage,” Quinn said. “But it will have an impact later on, in the pipeline of potential workers.”

Shortages ahead?

Enrollment is falling sharply across all areas of teacher prep, suggesting some subject areas may see shortages of qualified teachers in the future.

Top program areas Enrollment % Change
2010-11 2014-15
Elementary education 4,272 1,906 -55.4%
Secondary education 2,385 1,460 -38.8%
English, language arts 2,120 1,173 -44.7%
Mathematics 1,256 693 -44.8%
Special education 1,226 488 -60.2%
Social studies 1,165 557 -52.2%

Accountability and consequences

The push to improve student test scores, particularly among low-income students, has led to a number of changes that put more accountability on teachers. Groff-Blaszak said the decline in enrollment has tracked with Race to the Top reforms, which in addition to rewarding excellent educators, also provides for the removal of ineffective ones. Such reforms have not been universally embraced, for fear that they are a cover for sapping the power of unions, or holding teachers accountable, via testing, for factors they say they have little control over.

And before they even become teachers, teacher prep students must pass the state’s Professional Readiness Exam, which was toughened in recent years in an effort to raise teaching standards. In 2013-14, its first year, fewer than a third of students attempting it passed on their first try. At Western Michigan University, education students must pass the PRE and maintain a 3.0 average, said Marcia Fetters, the school’s associate dean and director of teacher education.

“When I entered teaching in 1982, there was no GPA requirement,” Fetters said, who described the current PRE, which tests math skills, reading and writing, as “infamous.”

“I don’t know how valid the test is to serve as a predictor of student performance in a teacher-ed program,” said Fetters. “On the one hand, we only want the qualified, but at the same time, if the test itself is not valid? We have had complaints.”

isaac frank

Isaac Frank knows he was lucky to be hired as a teacher by Birmingham Public Schools as a fresh college graduate. He still doesn’t know if he’ll stay in the field. (Courtesy photo)

Professional support and advancement

Few rookies, in any field, are at the top of their game from the beginning, and support and mentorship is an important part of early professional development.

“Brand-new teachers should get support and coaching, ideally, but resources are short,” said Groff-Blaszak. In surveys of teachers leaving the field, “the most-often cited reason for leaving is they haven’t received the support they need to improve.”

Going along with that is the way the field is structured. Even outstanding teachers may find themselves frustrated, a few years into their career, when they’ve arrived at or can see the top of the salary scale and realize there are few options to capitalize on their success other than going into administration.

“There’s a general lack of opportunity for professional growth in teaching,” said Groff-Blaszak. Becoming a mentor or sharing success with colleagues is not necessarily enough for driven, excellent professionals, “and not everyone wants to be a principal.”

Salary, prestige and history

“Incentives matter,” said Quinn, the policy analyst. “Teaching is not seen as a highly valued profession right now.” While veteran teachers in some districts can earn middle-class wages, younger ones can find themselves stuck at the bottom for years.

“I have a niece who’s stuck on step zero and is still living with her parents,” said Quinn.

Frank, the Birmingham math teacher, said he has classmates in similar straits, still earning well below $40,000.

“The stepping stones to the middle class, with regular raises and a secure retirement, are going away,” said Quinn.

Ming Li, dean of the College of Education at Western Michigan University, said that in the past, teaching was appealing to first-generation college students, particularly women, who wanted white-collar careers. But with college costing more and other career fields opening, “the return on investment isn’t very high, compared to the cost of the degree.”

Fetters, his colleague, said “we hear parents (on college tours) telling their (high-school) children, ‘I’ll pay for any degree you want, except teaching.’”

And as the public discussion about low achievement by Michigan students compared with the rest of the country continues, blame falls increasingly on teachers, said Quinn.

“Everybody’s an expert because everybody’s been to school,” said Quinn. “The profession itself has lost stature.”

Meanwhile, in one classroom...

All these factors converge in a 41-year-old teacher at a Detroit charter school, who asked to remain anonymous to speak frankly. Her work challenges are very different from Isaac Frank’s.

“I love teaching,” she said. “If all I had to do was teach, it would be great.”

But administration and teaching personnel change frequently at her school, with each new school leader bringing a new set of expectations and rules, and new colleagues on their own learning curve.

Many of her students are low-income and troubled, making discipline a regular part of her day. As a rookie who entered the field in a career change, she could use some mentoring, and certainly more support. None has been forthcoming. And unlike in most traditional public-school districts, her master’s degree is not rewarded with more money.

“I have made great connections and relationships with my students,” she said. “They have my cell-phone number and text me all the time.”

But, she added, inconsistency and staff turnover at the school have made learning and teaching a daily struggle.

“The kids see it, and it’s a free-for-all,” she said.

This woman isn’t quite ready to leave the field; she’d like to take a shot at working in a traditional public school with a more stable environment. And she’s actively job hunting, after signing her last contract with her current employer.

After four years of experience and a master’s, her salary is less than Isaac Frank’s was fresh out of MSU.

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Kevin Grand
Thu, 08/03/2017 - 3:41pm

"Whether these numbers portend a coming teacher shortage is unclear. But it does reflect a trend that has been ongoing for some time, said Abbie Groff-Blaszak, director of the Office of Educator Talent with the state Department of Education. Not only are fewer aspiring teachers entering programs, but fewer are completing them, and there’s been a decrease in teaching certificates issued by the DOE.

“We can’t identify causation,” Groff-Blaszak said. “And we don’t know yet if it’s a good thing, or not.”

Does anyone really buy that load of bunk they are trying to peddle???

Let me throw out two plainly obvious problems right off the bat. The pay is an insult. Especially when you have school administrators earning six-figure salaries and school budgets focus on athletics over academics, is it any wonder the money isn't there for instructor salaries?

Also, the state imposes too many hurdles on someone who is willing to go into the classroom (which they are required to renew and pay for on a regular basis). From what I've read about substitutes, it's even worse.

This is nothing more than a self-inflicted problem created by bureaucrats who will not prioritize what is important.

R.L.
Thu, 08/03/2017 - 4:16pm

The cartoon Homer just showed a cartoon with a person wearing a dunce cap. He said I don"t want a job that pays a living wage I want to teach. In Alpena they start at approx. $33000 and pay 20% of their med. insurance and an increase into the pension system after three years ago taking a 10% pay cut for ALL employees. No pay raises for 3 years. I had 35 years there with no complaints. As long as the public sees you as a 9 month employee it will never change. Almost 5 years to finish ,then 15 more credits in the next five years to maintain your certifications. Most of the ills of society are the fault of the teachers. Look at starting salaries for other professions. Need I say more? Love to hear from you. R.L.

William C. Plumpe
Sat, 08/05/2017 - 7:36pm

I agree that as long as teachers are seen as having a three month "vacation" even if that is not necessarily true teachers will always be seen as part time employees. The three month vacation is a hold over from the days farming was really big in Michigan and school students were needed to bring in the harvest. Make school 11 months out of the year with two weeks paid holidays and two weeks regular vacation and increase salaries appropriately and add performance bonuses on a State level and you might get more takers. Just a suggestion.

James Thornton
Mon, 08/07/2017 - 2:01pm

It is stupid to lay the root of all ills at the feet of teachers. No body blames the children or the children's parents.

Bob Balwinski
Thu, 08/03/2017 - 6:56pm

Let's see.......declining enrollment in teacher prep programs, declining number of teacher certificates being passed out by the MDE, and a record number of teachers dropping out of education within first five years on the job. Can you say crisis?
By the by, at a meeting with Teacher Certification Office at MDE in my first year at Office of Field Services at MDE, I asked if there was follow up from teacher prep colleges and universities with their graduated teachers to see if they remained in the profession and, if not, why. I was wondering if these new working teachers could pinpoint what these teacher prep places were doing well and where these new teachers felt they could have used some extra training or even training in areas that were neglected. I was told that was a good idea. This was 1999 and I wonder if this "idea" ever went anywhere. Then, again, I only spent 40 years in education so what do I know.

R.L.
Thu, 08/03/2017 - 7:32pm

Thank you Kevin. You can not continue to pay Acct. grads$ 50 plus,Phy.Therapists$75,000. pharmacist $100,000 ( Engineers, $55,000 plus and expect teachers to flock to teaching. Yes some of those are 6 and 7 year programs but you still have to feed your self and family. Teachers salaries will never catch up. Yes with multiple years in the field they will continue to go up but that takes years. No field takes more abuse that those in education. How much do these other careers spend on supplies for their job. Peace R.L.

MN
Sun, 08/06/2017 - 12:20am

In contrast, in may European countries
teachers earn solid salaries and have much
respect.

James Thornton
Mon, 08/07/2017 - 2:08pm

Look at the support the teachers get in Europe. I will bet America is doing a bad job in comparison. People forget that the USSR's first satellite launch made people realize that people needed to be taught things to counter the "Threat'. To get the trained people you needed trained teachers that were well compensated to train people in the skills to counter the threat. People are in to the short term over the long term. Any body that says otherwise is running in the dark with no flashlight.

Jeff
Thu, 08/03/2017 - 8:12pm

Being a substitute, I can tell you the pay does not entice anyone to sub. Pay is equivalent to a person working in the fast food industry after a raise or two. Something else I did not see mentioned. There is now been a generation of kids who have went through primary school and witnessed what teachers have to endure, regardless of the district. Truth be told, when seeing what is involved in teaching for 12 years and the compensation, almost any other job is more attractive.

Victor
Tue, 08/08/2017 - 10:54am

If you're already a working adult interested in teaching, subbing really isn't a good option unless you're wealthy or have a spouse who makes enough to cover the uncertainty. Throwing yourself out there with no promise of steady work (although many make it work eventually) and never knowing when you'll be needed again is asking a lot of people.

K Mulvenna
Thu, 08/03/2017 - 8:35pm

Is it any wonder. Teachers have been a target in our legislature since Proposal A passed in 1994 which gave control of funding to the State. They have demonized teachers as being a money hungry group because they did not like their union, the MEA. When 85% of school funding goes towards salaries, Any cuts to education funding is a cut to their salaries or benefits. Yet, they are constantly expected to get additional certifications to keep their license out of pocket and are expected to bring all students performance up to par regardless of their socioeconomic backgrounds. MEAP, M-Step, requirements always changing. So who does the capital blame? Teachers! It is insane.

Max
Thu, 08/03/2017 - 9:16pm

Letting Dan Quinn comment on education is more hypocritical than letting tRump comment about being honest.

DeVos and the GOP have villainized, demeaned, devalued and demoralized educators state wide then act surprised that no one is pursuing it as a profession.

Those enrollment drops are only part of the story because it leaves out the fact that about 50% of teachers leave after 5 years or less, finding the stress too high (factors are many) and pay too low.

Wow....just wow.

John Darling
Fri, 08/04/2017 - 10:36am

Well said.

John Gorentz
Thu, 08/03/2017 - 10:20pm

It's amazing how little substantive information this article presents outside the enrollment numbers. This article gave us a few anecdotes from within the profession, but is there no body of ongoing research on this topic? Are there no ongoing longitudinal studies on career choices, starting prior to students' college years?

LH
Thu, 08/03/2017 - 11:33pm

Well, RL, for starters, most jobs these days require employees to contribute towards their health insurance, if you are lucky enough to land a job that offers decent insurance. Over my and my husband's careers as professionals (I have a bachelor's degree, he a master's) we would have been happy to have jobs that only asked for a 20% contribution for the kind of coverage most teachers enjoy. Also, many, many jobs require some type of continuing education and/or certification; sometimes employers pay for it, sometimes not. Our local district reimburses teachers for continuing ed costs. And no, I do not think teachers only work nine months, but the summer months do offer opportunities to deal with continuing ed when the workload is diminished. For other professions, continuing ed often must occur while still putting in 40 or more hours per week. Having breaks from work at the same time as your kids is an added bonus, and a savings on child care as well. Many parents pay additional child care expenses during breaks from school, since often we cannot align our vacation times with our kids' school schedules. Finally, I'm not sure the decrease in the number of students majoring in education is entirely a bad thing. I have seen many young people over the years head off to college to get a teaching degree with the attitude of, "well, I like kids and I don't know what else to do, so I guess I'll become a teacher." Fortunately many of them realize quickly that teaching is a tough and often thankless job, and that it isn't for everyone, but as with any other major, there are those who spend four or five years attaining a degree in a field that they are not suited for. The PRE may not be perfect, but if it helps weed out those who are not suited to becoming teachers early on, then I think it has value.

Professional Ed...
Tue, 08/08/2017 - 9:03am

The shortage is certainly a bad thing if you view a bigger picture. The shortage allows the legislators and governor to recognize a need to prepare more teachers, so they turn to lessening the hoops to become a teacher including encouraging alternative programs for teacher prep. These alternative routes, in turn, remove the requirements that help to ensure that the field of teaching is a profession. As individuals bypass the rigorous preparation through alternative means, they begin teaching being less prepared . . . and less professional. And, when traditional public schools avoid hiring ill prepared teachers, perhaps they end up in charter school settings where they now even get lower pay. I understand our politicians want to kill unions, which is a political goal, but another goal is to destroy the teaching profession because that all leads to saving the State more money when you no longer have to pay teachers like they're professionals. So yeah, the shortage can largely be attributed to the attacks on the profession, but these attacks are also leading to a solution for the shortages that will circumvent the normal steps towards helping teachers become respected professionals.

Victor
Tue, 08/08/2017 - 10:57am

I posted another comment about alternative routes, but basically it's too expensive to be a reasonable route to teaching. On top of the $10,000+ tuition for a post-bacc certificate you have to work full-time for free as a student teacher for an entire semester. And then struggle to find work after. It's asking a lot from people.

I agree we need highly qualified people to teach, but as in many professions I'm not sure it's a good idea to expect people to foot the entire cost of becoming professionals and expecting them to be perfect on Day One. Maybe it'd make sense (though it would never happen) to have a paid internship-style program that encourages people from all walks of life to try teaching. They could gain experience and be mentored without spending so much money they have to leave the profession in order to pay it all back.

duane
Fri, 08/04/2017 - 12:23am

What is the question, is it simply more teacher candidates, is it better pay for teachers, what is the teacher's role [disciplinarian, student learning , class test score, graduation rates, mentor, coach, etc.?]? Maybe what we need is a clear description of the role and responsibilities of a teacher and of each other role in the education system. I think we need a description of the role and responsibilities of the student in their learning.

One we have a clear and standard description of each role we can then start putting a value on the role and develop metric to demonstrate the values. And anyone that say they are teacher and nothing more need be said is a good reason why teachers are undervalue. The vast majority of people have to demonstrate their value weekly if not daily [even doctors] so why should the teachers be aloof from the rest of us.

The world has changed from when teachers we held above the rest of us, not there are more people with college degrees that know there isn't anything magical about a degree, it is simply a tool, and it is the application of that tool the generates the value.

In my town the fire risks have declined sufficiently over the generations, the government is restructuring the department and reducing the staffing without an outcry from the community with concerns with added risk. If the firefighters are feeling that desire for value then why shouldn't the teachers?

The world has changed and the teachers need to rethink their role and responsibilities and share it with the public. They need to develop metric to help the teacher demonstrate the effectiveness of their work.

As for pay, those of in private industry know there is a consistent pay structure across all employers so why should we be dismayed the certain districts pay more then others?

Mike
Fri, 08/04/2017 - 9:57am

Why all the concentration on the 'kids' in college? I think that they are missing out on a potentially successful pipeline for teachers . As a 46 year old male veteran with a bachelors and masters degree, working for over 20 years in the same career field (non-education), I would love to be able to change careers at this time. Even though I currently make good money, I would gladly take the huge pay cut necessary to be a teacher. I have yet to find a program to allow those looking at a second career to take just the necessary classes to obtain their teaching certificates without starting over in college. There has to be others out there willing to teach, but the thought of spending another 4-5 years in college is daunting. Why not a one or two year program for 'adult' learners to get the required certification(s)?

duane
Fri, 08/04/2017 - 2:03pm

Mike,

I agree, bring proven subject matter experts in can make it easier to develop teaching skills by focusing on that all important knowledge and skills without the distraction of trying to learn the subject.
I think recruiting teacher from other profession can bring a different perspective to learning, it engage students in a different way by drawing on daily experience outside of education system the show the importance of learning.

They could build on your idea, including part-time subject focused teachers, for middle or high school subjects. If STEM is an important topic and want more engaged , having a chemistry teacher that was a chemist or chemical engineer that could describe how each of the lessons have real application in the commercial world, or have an engineer teach physics or calculus using practical application of the subject. How much simpler to recruit a person for a couple hours a day allowing them to focus on the subject rather then having them do all of the non-teaching activities. For a budget, part-time would reduce the benefits burden.

duane
Sun, 08/06/2017 - 10:31pm

Anonymous,

That is only valid if the schools want the people experienced in other fields, or if they are willing to consider part-time special subject teachers.

In my county, of 13 public schools, there is no visible effort to recruit candidates from other professions, which is a discouragement for anyone who might be interested.
All that I see and hear is that no one in the education profession has any interest in part-time specialized subject matter teachers and neglect is the surest way to kill interest in those who could and would invest in qualifying and doing the teaching.

How much interest has their been in your district to recruit people from other professions to enter the field? How many open house's have the schools held for people that might be interested in changing career, being certified and teaching? How much outreach for STEM professionals with a recruitment path of doing special presentations, become a subject coach, discussion of what would need to be done to qualify, what would be responsibilities, etc.

Victor
Tue, 08/08/2017 - 10:58am

I'm not sure I take your meaning. Post-bacc programs allow you to become certified like a "normal" teacher. It's not intended to be part-time or specialized. You still take the tests to be certified in your subject areas and can work as any other teacher.

duane
Wed, 08/09/2017 - 12:03am

Why do the teachers have to be 'normal' teacher, why can't they be specialized part-time? With the current interest ins STEM classes why not experienced subject matter 'experts' that have a years of practical application of the subject?

The idea of part-time is to draw in people that have the financial resources but want more control of their time. As an example in our district, smaller, there are one or two advanced chemistry, physics, etc. classes. Recruiting an experienced degree professional currently working or retired for a couple of class a day could be doable while getting a full time teacher for those classes and trying to fill the rest of the day could be more challenging. Or even using a team approach for such subjects could work both for the part-timers and the students by giving a wide range of actual application of the topics in the class.

A part-timer would be less costly [likely no benefits, no tenure issues] and they would be more focused on topic because having taken on the role as a part-timer and have already address career related issues.

***
Sat, 08/12/2017 - 12:54pm

There was a program during the Engler administration to make it possible for people that had expertise in other professions to become a teacher, it was a total flop with not a single person taking advantage of it if I remember right.

MN
Sun, 08/06/2017 - 12:22am

Great suggestion.

John Darling
Fri, 08/04/2017 - 10:42am

Another factor is diminished support within the school system. MANY districts have (as budgets were hacked by the state) cut away at the teacher support structures. Few librarians remain, aides have been cut severely. Same goes for much of the support from social workers etc. These cuts effectively increase the workload on the classroom teacher as well.

DR. NORMA LENT ...
Fri, 08/04/2017 - 8:53pm

YEARS AGO WHEN THERE WEREN'T OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOUNG WOMEN WITH AN EDUCATION TO ADVANCE INTO THE PROFESSIONAL WORLD, THOSE WHO GRADUATED FROM HIGH SCHOOL AND COLLEGE COULD EITHER WORK AS SECRETARIES, NURSES, OR TEACHERS. NOW THAT CAREERS IN MEDICINE, SCIENCE, BUSINESS, ETC. HAVE OPENED UP, WOMEN HAVE OTHER ACADEMIC CHOICES. MOREOVER, MEN HAVE NOT FLOCKED IN TO BECOMING TEACHERS EVEN AS SALARIES HAVE INCREASED BECAUSE WORKING WITH CHILDREN IS STILL REGARDED AS "WOMAN'S WORK."

AT ONE TIME IT WAS HOPED THAT HIGHER SALARIES WOULD DRAW PEOPLE IN TO TEACHING, HOWEVER, MONEY ITSELF IS NOT GOING TO BE THE ANSWER TO TEACHER RETENTION. UPGRADING TEACHER TRAINING INSTITUTIONS WAS ALSO LOOKED UPON AS A PANACEA.

PUBLIC EDUCATION IS NO LONGER A SAFE PLACE TO WORK AND LEARN. AS LONG AS DISRUPTIVE STUDENTS ARE ALLOWED TO REMAIN IN THE CLASSROOM AND STUDENTS WHO ARE SO FAR ACADEMICALLY BEHIND THEIR PEERS ARE PLACED IN CLASSROOMS BASED UPON THEIR CHRONOLOGICAL AGE, ETC. ...NO AMOUNT OF CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT AND PSYCHOLOGY COURSES LET ALONE SUBJECT CONTENT COURSE WILL PROVIDE THE TEACHERS WITH THE INGREDIENTS THEY NEED TO BE SUCCESSFUL IN THE CLASSROOM.

ON TOP OF IT ALL, CHARTER SCHOOLS, PRIVATE SCHOOLS, AND PAROCHIAL SCHOOLS HAVE DRAINED OFF THE STUDENTS WHO ARE INTERESTED IN LEARNING AND WANT TO SUCCEED FROM THE PUBLIC SCHOOL, ALONG WITH THOSE TEACHERS WHO ARE WILLING TO WORK IN THEM DESPITE LOWER SALARIES.

ADD TO THIS IS THE BELIEF THAT ALL CHILDREN SHOULD BE PREPARED FOR COLLEGE AND WHEN THE STATE AND LOCAL DEPARTMENTS OF EDUCATION FIND OUT THAT STUDENTS AREN'T ACHIEVING HIGH ENOUGH GRADES IN COMMON CORE TESTS LET ALONE STATE EXAMS, THE ANSWER OUT OF THAT DILEMMA IS TO LOWER THE STANDARDS OF THE TESTS AS WELL AS LOWER THE TEST SCORES NEEDED TO BE CONSIDERED AS "MEETING STANDARDS."

ONE CAN GO ON AND ON DOCUMENTING THE MYRIAD PROBLEMS FACING EDUCATION THESE DAYS, BUT UNFORTUNATELY NO ONE IS WILLING TO BUCK
"POLITICAL CORRECTNESS" TO OFFER SOLUTIONS. ONE THING FOR SURE, THERE IS NO "ONE SIZE FITS ALL" MEASURE THAT WOULD GET OUR NATION OUT OF THE CONTINUING DOWNWARD SPIRAL FACING PUBLIC EDUCATION.

WE ALSO NEED TO EXAMINE ATTENDANCE PATTERNS OF STUDENTS BECAUSE BY THE THIRD GRADE THESE PATTERNS CAN GIVE US AN IDEA WHICH STUDENTS WILL DROP OUT OF SCHOOL BY THE TIME THEY HAVE REACHED THE LEGAL LIMIT AND/OR BECOME TRUANT WHEN THEY REALIZE SCHOOL IS NO LONGER A PLACE FOR THEM TO FEEL SUCCESSFUL. PARENTS ALSO NEED TO GET INVOLVED IN THEIR CHILD'S EDUCATION. WE ALSO NEED TO LOOK AT EACH SCHOOL SYSTEM INDIVIDUALLY, ANALYZE IT, AND TRY DIFFERENT APPROACHES AND BE WILLING TO THROW OUT ANY APPROACH THAT DOESN'T WORK. THROWING MONEY AFTER EDUCATION IS NOT THE ANSWER BECAUSE IT INVARIABLY ENDS UP IN THE WRONG POCKETS AND THE CHILDREN CONTINUE GETTING SHORT-CHANGED.

Debra Robertson...
Sat, 08/05/2017 - 10:42am

Thank for addressing the many facets contributing to the struggle-- you have stated them well. The frightening element is that once a crisis is commonly acknowledged-- there is no 6-12 month solution and several years of schooling for this state's children will be at stake.

duane
Mon, 08/07/2017 - 12:52pm

Dr. Lent,
You speak of history, which is something to learn from but not something to control our future. What is needed is a conversation about the future, what it can look like and what we can do to make it happen. Such a conversation needs to involve a diversity of perspectives, that is not limited to the educational profession.

As for bucking the 'political correctness', the best place to start is with a disciplines public conversation, one where people can focus on individual and be a public think tank to understand the causes and develop new/innovative ways to address them in a setting the prevents the invoking of PC and where the ideas and plans are open for public scrutiny and can share with those who in the community can take the first steps. We are in a bottom up society and even education can be changed from the bottom up. But it can wait for the exactly right situation, it needs to already be developing so when a small or great opportunity presents itself the answer is in hand.

As for you concerns about parochial school [have existed longer than any of us, but have been hidden by volume of students], and charter school [though new are simply a desire for a more responsive system]. Both are defining opportunities and testing grounds for innovative approaches to learning.

Hannah
Mon, 08/07/2017 - 8:40am

I wanted to be a teacher for the longest time, but as I got older, I was discouraged from going into it. Teachers told me I had too much "potential" in other fields to limit myself to teaching. I was also constantly told that my pay potential was so much higher than what I could make as a teacher. There are some days I wish I would have ignored it and gone into it, but I feel like today, students look for a stable future after college, especially with the cost of secondary education going up.

***
Mon, 08/07/2017 - 8:41am

My sister who was a teacher for many years in Michigan and then Massachusetts retired early years ago, I think she was getting burned out and said she saw the changes coming in the way education was being handled at the state level and didn't like the direction the profession was headed in.

James Thornton
Mon, 08/07/2017 - 1:57pm

What do you expect when all the inputs to being a teacher are pushing people away from teaching as a profession. The people doing all the executive decisions are in for their short term gain. I would not want these legislatures and school directors applying the same work ethic to a boat or airplane I was going to use, Sail on/Fly on.

Jack
Mon, 08/07/2017 - 2:21pm

When you have the republicans and AM radio entertainers constantly attacking teachers and public education, this is not surprising.

Chris Heaton
Mon, 08/28/2017 - 1:47pm

Meanwhile police and firemen are relatively well protected financially by the political right. And the Republican legislators who seek to eviscerate teachers and public education are, for the most part, people with college degrees who by way of their politically motivated actions repudiate the systems from which they themselves benefited. Bizarre!

John Gorentz
Mon, 08/07/2017 - 10:15pm

Everybody has an opinion, it seems, but nobody has the data about why students choose what they choose.

Victor
Tue, 08/08/2017 - 10:51am

I'd like to throw in a niche point. While everyone is focused on traditional avenues to teaching, I'd just like to point out that there are also insane barriers to career switchers who want to become teachers, unless they're going to teach a high-demand/shortage subject.
We're talking $10,000+ of extra schooling on top of student loan debt and five months of full-time, UNPAID student teaching to get certified through a post-bacc program. Then entering the job market with few guarantees and a negative job outlook. It just doesn't make sense, unless someone is young enough to work for free or wealthy enough to take that leap, and is a great barrier to people like me who would love to become teachers but simply can't afford to make the switch.

I feel that people with real life experiences would do better at teaching, at least when it comes to contextualizing and maintaining classroom discipline, which is a big part of teaching. But only the wealthy or those without significant student debt can go that route.