Teachers Column

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One in eight teachers hired by the New York City school system quits within months, according to a new report by the city comptroller.

The annual report on attrition among all city employees found that more than 5,000 teachers resigned their jobs in fiscal 1986. Of those, 660 had served less than a year.

Attrition among newly hired teachers had been at a low of 9.6 percent in fiscal 1985, but it leaped to 13.2 percent last year, the comptroller's office found.

That figure is more than double the overall attrition rate of 6 percent that the U.S. Education Department usually cites in its national estimates of teacher vacancies.

"We can ill afford such high teacher turnover at a time of increasing enrollment, especially given the city's policy of trying to reduce class size,'' said Harrison J. Goldin, the city comptroller.

He urged that "strenuous efforts'' be made to reduce the problem.

The number of teacher strikes in Pennsylvania could be lessened by improving day-to-day relationships between teachers' unions and local school managers, according to a study of collective bargaining.

Ben Fischer and Otto Davis, professors with the center for labor studies at Carnegie-Mellon University, conducted the two-year study.

The authors offer several recommendations for improving labor relations: allow local as well as state courts to intervene in collective-bargaining disputes; have school administrators, rather than school boards, act as bargaining agents; and create a comprehensive state data base that would enable unions and administrators to work from a common set of facts.

They also suggest that the governor have the authority to designate special "citizen panels'' to investigate the issues in troublesome disputes, seek agreement between the parties, and make recommendations. The panels would also be authorized to seek intervention by the courts, if necessary.

Teachers who entered California's public schools through an alternative-route program created in 1983 are at least as effective as other second-year teachers who are teaching the same subjects in the same schools, according to a report to the the state legislature.

The state commission on teacher credentials, which has responsibility for teacher licensure in the state, prepared the report, "The Effectiveness of the Teacher Trainee Program: An Alternate Route Into Teaching in California.''

Lawmakers required the program evaluation when they passed the legislation establishing the alternative route four years ago.

According to the report, a total of 438 trainees entered the public schools through the program during its first two and a half years. Of those, 96 percent were employed in a large metropolitan district in Southern California. [The district was not specified.]

The new program was designed, in part, to attract members of other professions to teaching. But the report found that teaching was the prior occupation of the largest number of people who entered the program in 1984-85. Many other trainees reported that they had previously been full-time students.

The study also found that one of the "weakest elements'' in the program was the evaluation that school districts conducted of the new teachers.

"Information provided by 148 beginning teachers and 54 evaluators suggests that the formally adopted evaluation policies of school districts are often not implemented in practice,'' according to the report.

In addition, it states, many districts evaluated beginning teachers using criteria and procedures that were more appropriate for experienced educators.

The president of the Delaware State Education Association has challenged a proposal that would mandate a seven-and-a-half-hour workday for all public-school teachers.

In testimony last month before the state board of education, Mary Anne Galloway, president of the D.S.E.A.--an affiliate of the National Education Association--questioned the board's proposal to lengthen the workday for teachers by 30 minutes.

She said the policy would "enhance neither public perception of the profession nor teacher effectiveness in the classroom.''

"Teachers already work additional hours beyond the current time mandated by local contracts,'' Ms. Galloway said.

The proposed policy, she suggested, "could have a negative impact by implying that, when this time requirement is fulfilled, the workday is finished, and no more work need be done.''

The board is expected to vote on the policy at its regular meeting on June 25. Local school boards now negotiate teachers' hours as part of collective bargaining.

Public-school teachers in Cincinnati support many of the reforms proposed by the Carnegie Forum on Education and the Economy, with nearly 60 percent endorsing the creation of a national board to certify teachers, a new survey has found.

The poll, commissioned by the Cincinnati Federation of Teachers, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, also found that 92 percent of those surveyed agreed or strongly agreed with the idea of creating career ladders for teachers.

Conducted by the Tri-Sector Research Group in Cincinnati, the survey was mailed to the city's 3,200 public-school teachers. One-third of them completed the form.

The study also found that the teachers would support an expansion of peer evaluation; a requirement that teacher educators return periodically to K-12 teaching; and teacher involvement in reviewing the performance of principals.

At least 64 percent of the respondents also agreed or strongly agreed that prospective teachers should major in an academic subject and then complete a master's degree in education with a focus on clinical work.--L.O. & B.R.

Vol. 06, Issue 36

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