Why are public schools so bad at hiring good instructors? This is what Slate's "Hot for the Wrong Teachers" wants to know.
KEEP THE PROMISES TO OUR CHILDREN (at Keyspan Park)
The article raises some interesting points. For example, a master's degree in education does not seem to be a predictor of future success as a teacher. Here, here. Yes, some classes are enriching and helpful, but that it is wholly dependent on your professors and program. Most of the time, it's just a big time suck that takes me away from planning lessons.
An apprenticeship program of considerable length is preferable to giving a new teacher 6 weeks of "training" as the Teaching Fellows and Teach for America programs do. I hear over and over again from other fellows that our training did not prepare them at all. I think that is probably the case for most people who switch careers and have no classroom experience other than their own years as a student.
Here's where the author gets it wrong. Yes, we should wonder, "What if there were a way to screen out the bad teachers before they get entrenched?" Yes, we do get our union cards the first day, but you'd have to be insane to want to go to the Rubber Room (which this author calls the "golden parachute out of teaching." Some golden parachute).
What about all the wasted potential in promising teachers who are hired to work in schools under incompetent, uninspiring, ineffectual or mismanaging administrators? Being a principal or an AP is a very hard job. That's no excuse for unintentionally (or intentionally) screwing up or derailing teaching careers. Let's get some accountability for the people at the top, some of whom are really entrenched, and I'm talking about more than just expecting them to hire good teachers.
And maybe it does take some gumption to do battle with a the teachers union. But it also takes gumption on the part of the teacher.