Published Online:

Current Events

Article Tools
  • PrintPrinter-Friendly
  • EmailEmail Article
  • ReprintReprints
  • CommentsComments

More than two-thirds said they are "not at all'' or only "slightly'' involved in setting policies for student promotion and retention, and more than a third reported having little or no involvement in shaping the curricula at their schools.

Other Carnegie findings include the following:

The report suggests a deepening pessimism among teachers about schools' chances of improving the dropout rate. Thirty-nine percent of the teachers surveyed agreed that "the public schools cannot really expect to graduate more than about 75 percent of all students.'' In 1987, 21 percent agreed with the statement.

Teachers' attitudes toward the national movement to improve education have become significantly more critical. Only 18 percent of the teachers gave school-reform efforts a grade of A or B, down from 31 percent three years ago. Fifty-four percent of this year's respondents gave the reform movement a C; 28 percent said it deserved a D or an F.

Teachers' overriding concern centered on issues of student welfare--an emphasis also apparent in the 1987 survey. Eight out of 10 respondents to the new survey said abused or neglected children, lack of parental support, student apathy, disruptive behavior, and absenteeism were problems at their schools.

When teachers were asked how many hours a week, both inside and outside school, they spend on their jobs, 32 percent reported working between 45 and 49 hours. One-quarter said they work 50 to 59 hours, while 12 percent said they spend more than 60 hours working.

Despite the frustrations of teaching, 86 percent of the teachers said they were satisfied, overall, with their jobs. Almost half reported being more enthusiastic about teaching than when they began their careers.

Copies of The Condition of Teaching, a State-ByState Analysis 1990 are available for $12 each from Princeton University Press, 3175 Princeton Pike, Lawrenceville, NJ 08648; (609) 896-1344.

Back To Teaching
Teaching has become a revolving-door profession. That is the conclusion of education researcher C. Emily Feistritzer, who has released data showing that nearly half the "new'' teachers hired by the nation's schools since 1985 were experienced educators returning to the classroom after a hiatus from the field.

Of the 2,380 public school teachers surveyed last spring by Feistritzer's organization, the National Center for Education Information, 28 percent had been hired since 1985, and 45 percent of those had taught previously. The study, Profile of Teachers in the U.S.--1990, also revealed that it is common for teachers to take a break from teaching at some point during their career. Thirty-eight percent of all the teachers surveyed-- including 352 private school teachers--reported that they had done so at least once.

"Even though teachers may be leaving the profession,'' Feistritzer says, "there is strong evidence to suggest they are returning to the profession in relatively high numbers.''

More Bad News On SAT Scores
Verbal scores on the Scholastic Aptitude Test declined this year for the fourth straight year, to their lowest level in a decade, while math scores remained stable.

The College Board reported that the average verbal score fell 3 points, to 424 out of a possible 800-- the all-time low, last recorded in 1980 and 1981. Math scores stayed at 476 out of a possible 800, the same score recorded each year since 1987.

Although the total number of students taking the college admission test declined by 6 percent-- slightly more than the drop in the college-age population--minority students continued to take the test in increasing numbers. But unlike in past years, when minority scores showed steady improvement, the results this year were mixed. The scores of American Indians and Asians increased, while the overall scores for blacks remained the same and Hispanics' scores dropped.

Next Time, Write It Down
Teachers in New Hampshire's Sanborn Regional School District thought they had negotiated a three-year contract with their school district. The voters didn't. The dispute went all the way to the state's supreme court, which this past summer ruled in the voters' favor and ordered the teachers to renegotiate their contract.

The disagreement dates back to March 1989, when the local citizenry, at a New England-style town meeting, voted to halve the 10 percent salary increase promised to teachers in the second year of their contract. The Sanborn Regional Education Association refused to reopen salary talks, and the state labor-relations board upheld the union's claim that the teachers' three-year contract had been bargained in good faith.

The state's high court, however, found otherwise, ruling that when the citizens originally approved the pact, the town-meeting agenda had failed to note that the contract was for a three-year period.

Accord Among The Disciplines
Leaders of 20 subject-matter groups met late in August to try to reach some common understanding about what to teach in the nation's schools and how to teach it.

Several conference participants say they were surprised by the degree of harmony among the groups present. "When you sit and hear science, math, history, and social studies teachers pretty much agreeing on what a classroom ought to look like and what teachers ought to be doing, that's pretty noteworthy,'' says Phyllis Franklin, executive director of the Modern Language Association.

Organizers of the "Curriculum Congress''--which was sponsored by the Education Commission of the States and Collaboratives for Humanities and Arts Teaching, with funding from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur and the Rockefeller foundations--say they will attempt to draw other subject-matter groups into their discussions and will meet again in late November or December. They acknowledge, however, that they don't yet know what the final result of the new dialogue will be.

Many of the groups, working independently or with others in related disciplines, have released reports in recent years criticizing existing curricula in their own fields and calling for sweeping reforms.

Groups represented at the summer meeting included the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, the Council for Basic Education, the International Reading Association, the Mathematical Sciences Education Board, the Modern Language Association, the National Science Foundation, the North American Montessori Teachers Association, and the Quality Education for Minorities Network.

Shortcut To The Top
New Jersey, the state that created the nation's first alternate routes for teachers and principals, has gone one step further: an alternate route for superintendents. In September, the New Jersey Board of Education approved new regulations that will allow trained managers without prior experience in education to become certified as school superintendents.

The revised standards are modeled after the state's new certification rules for principals. They require candidates to have a master's degree in a managerial field, such as educational, business, or public administration, and to pass a written examination and an evaluation of their managerial skills at a state assessment center. The candidates must then complete an individualized "preresidency'' induction program and a supervised internship, under the guidance of mentors.

But, unlike the standards for principals, the new requirements for superintendents place no limit on the number of candidates from fields outside of education who can seek jobs as superintendents.

Studying Overtime
Students in the San Francisco public schools have a new incentive to learn. Beginning in October, the district began requiring nearly 4,000 students to give up four hours a week of their free time to attend special sessions designed to improve their reading and writing skills.

Under the new policy, announced this past summer by Superintendent of Schools Ramon Cortines, students in grades 6 through 9 who score in the bottom quarter on state standardized reading tests must attend the tutorials, which will be held four days a week after the school day ends.

The policy is an outgrowth of a Saturdayschool program launched by the district last year. Nearly 2,500 elementary school students attended the voluntary weekend classes, and school officials say their test scores rose in reading and in math.

San Francisco joins a handful of districts across the country that, in recent years, have moved to extended-day classes to help students who are having academic difficulties.

Mission (Almost) Accomplished
Teach for America, a program that recruits young graduates of top-notch colleges and universities to teach in inner-city and rural schools, has found jobs for all but six of its first 500 participants.

Los Angeles-area schools hired 230 of them, while New York City took on 170 others. The rest were placed in districts in Louisiana, North Carolina, and Georgia. Program officials expected to place the remaining six in North Carolina schools shortly.

The recruits, who did not study education in college, underwent eight weeks of training over the summer at the University of Southern California.

Money Woes Top State Agendas
State budget troubles overshadowed education funding as the chief issue facing state lawmakers this year, and the souring national economy will probably keep schools in second place in their minds in 1991, as well, according to a survey by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Although money was increasingly hard to find, education fared relatively well in state budgetary action, the survey found. State appropriations for the schools in fiscal 1991 were on average pegged at 8.4 percent above the previous year's level.

But court-ordered education-finance reforms, the swelling cost of health care and prisons, and economic downturns in many areas prompted lawmakers both to dip into reserves and to raise taxes in order to balance state budgets.

The most distressing trend, says Ronald Snell, the NCSL's fiscal director, is the widespread depletion of state budget reserves. Lawmakers usually try to stow away 5 percent of revenues in case of emergencies. But the average state balance fell to 4 percent in fiscal 1990 and is projected to dip to 2.3 percent in fiscal 1991. Moreover, more than half of the total reserves were held by 13 small states, while most large states reported the smallest fiscal cushions.

Investigation Foiled, For Now
A Houston newspaper intends to appeal a unanimous decision by a Texas appeals court barring reporters from reviewing the college transcripts of administrators employed by the local school system.

The Houston Chronicle first sought the records in 1988, when an investigation revealed that some district administrators had obtained mail-order degrees from an unaccredited California university.

Texas' First Court of Appeal ruled in August that an amendment to the state's open-records statute, passed after the Chronicle began its inquiries into administrators' credentials, shields school officials' transcripts from public inspection. The newspaper plans to appeal to the Texas Supreme Court.

Web Only

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Login | Register
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Back to Top Back to Top

Most Popular Stories

Viewed

Emailed

Recommended

Commented

MORE EDUCATION JOBS >>