The following article appeared in the Chicago Sun Times. We have a problem in Illinois with teachers who are not highly qualified to teach. School districts and unions insist we must pay more to get qualified teachers. This is absurd, because tenure and the unions refuse to let go of under-qualified teachers to hire more qualified teachers.
Anyone doubt this is happening? Crain's Chicago Business reported that "city schools this year got 18,000 résumés for 1,500 positions - a 12:1 ratio that any employer
would covet". Schools could hire more qualified teachers but unions
prefer protecting union members to serving the very children they are pledged to educate. The city of Chicago employed 25,501 in 2005, only 31.7% of students met or exceeded state goals. 41.7% of students met or exceeded state goals in reading. A humiliating 27.5% of students met or exceeded state goals in math. These teachers and the district are clearly failing to educate these children. There is no doubt that weeding out poor teachers and hiring new teachers from the pool of 18,000 resumes received could improve student performance. Heck even the threat teachers losing their jobs if they do not educate our children would improve performance. But Chicago teachers once tenured are nearly impossible to remove from the district. They have no motivation to improve their performance because their job and pay increases have nothing to do with how they perform in the classroom.
Will legislators change this so school boards can hire the most qualified teachers to teach our children? No way! They receive too much money from the unions, they are more interested in retaining their office and pandering to the unions. For more information on how unions influence legislators we direct you to Scott Reeder's Teacher unions' clout keeps tenure strong.
Illinois not identifying weak teachers well enough: feds
August 17, 2006
BY KATE N. GROSSMAN Education Reporter
Most states, including Illinois, don't do a good job of highlighting concentrations of the weakest teachers in the neediest schools and aren't doing enough to direct highly qualified teachers to those schools, federal education officials said Wednesday.
Each state gave the feds plans for ensuring a "highly qualified teacher" for every student by next June and, for the first time, "teacher equity plans" to ensure that poor and minority students don't get an unfair share of unqualified and inexperienced teachers.
These are elements of the 2002 No Child Left Behind law.
Federal officials said most states put forth a good faith effort but "the message we want to send to states is that the work is not done," said Rene Islas, chief of staff in the office of elementary and secondary education.
Just nine states produced good data and plans. Four missed the boat completely. Another 39 partly met federal requirements, including Illinois. All but nine must resubmit plans by Sept. 29 or face intense scrutiny, and, eventually, potential loss of federal funds. Plans were reviewed by 31 experts.
The feds cited Illinois for failing to document courses not taught by qualified teachers. Illinois also failed to identify schools with significant numbers of teachers who were not highly qualified, except in Chicago.
High marks for data system
Illinois also failed to specify when its professional development programs helped teachers in general versus helping teachers who lack the credentials to rank as highly qualified, the evaluators said.
But the feds noted a new data collection system in the works that will remedy many of these problems. It also said Illinois' plans to help direct highly qualified teachers to needy schools had "sufficient input and research involved to expect some success."
Elements include a "Grow Your Own Teacher" program, which supports residents and parents in becoming teachers in hard-to-staff schools and an "Administrator's Academy" targeted for high-poverty, low-performing schools.
"We are pleased that the U.S. Department of Education has recognized the work we have done so far to accomplish this mandate, and we look forward to working with them as we move closer to achieving the goal of a highly qualified teacher in every classroom," Illinois Board of Education Assistant Supt. Ginger Reynolds said in a statement.
The Education Trust, a Washington-based advocacy group, said most state plans fell short. It chastised the Education Department for failing to gives enough guidance.
"This is a move in the right direction," said Heather Peske, an Education Trust expert on teacher quality. "The department has been way too lax on the teacher-quality front for the last four years. Our hope is that they use this opportunity to take teacher quality seriously. The educational future of poor and minority students depends on it."