Teacher Quality Vs. Diversity

Teacher Quality Vs. Diversity

The big story of the week so far seems to be complaints expressed by the IEA at a recent ISBE meeting about the new(ish) TAP test for teacher candidates, which is much higher and whose adoption has led to a decrease in overall and race-specific pass rates.

The WBEZ story about the new test's impact focuses largely on the impact of the test on teacher diversity, and about the emotional plight of minority candidates who want to teach but can't pass the test.

There's much less attention on the reality that teachers can take the test multiple times, or submit ACT or other scores, and that the WBEZ reporter who took the test appeared to have no problem passing it.

"Do we need teachers who look like our students?" asks CPS teacher and blogger Ray Salazar.  "Only if they know their content, only if they can teach and engage students, only if they have the social skills to maneuver through class and generational differences, only if they’re focused on students and not on themselves. Being brown and college-degreed and passionate is not enough."


Push for teacher quality in Illinois takes toll on minority candidates WBEZ:  Sixty percent of African-Americans used to pass the TAP; now it’s 17 percent. For Hispanics, the pass rate has dropped from 70 percent, to 22 percent.

Testing teachers causes unexpected racial division WBEZ:  We discuss how entrance exams for teachers is sparking a debate about whether or not these exams are ruining diversity among teachers.

Why I discourage Latino students from becoming teachers Ray Salazar:  Do we need teachers who look like our students? Only if they know their content, only if they can teach and engage students, only if they have the social skills to maneuver through class and generational differences, only if they’re focused on students and not on themselves. Being brown and college-degreed and passionate is not enough.
9 of 10 Louisiana teachers are rated effective or highly effective in new evaluations NOLA.com: Nine of every 10 Louisiana public school teachers were rated effective or highly effective in the first such evaluation in state history, the Education Department announced Tuesday. Of 43,000 teachers in 1,400 schools, 4 percent were rated ineffective. via Politico.


Developer gets $10 million TIF, now Whole Foods must sell Englewood on store Sun Times: With a $10 million city subsidy for site preparation and a three-year construction schedule, Whole Foods on Wednesday began the formidable task of convincing Englewood residents that the upscale grocer can serve their needs at affordable prices.

Emanuel promotes new Whole Foods in Englewood Tribune: Mayor Rahm Emanuel sought Wednesday to reshape the debate over his efforts to shrink the city's so-called food deserts by announcing plans to open a Whole Foods Market in the impoverished Englewood neighborhood three years from now.

Untangling TIFs WBEZ: Many Chicagoans have heard the word TIF, but few people understand how they work, and they may even have trouble untangling all the threads related to this complicated economic development tool. Armed with our experts and some Sharpies (and inspired by RSA Animates videos), we made a whiteboard explainer ... sans the whiteboard.


Public hearings begin for CPS master plan Tribune: Chicago Public Schools has started a series of public hearings to get input from parents, educators and community members on a 10-year facilities master plan mandated by a new state law. A draft version of the plan was released in May and a final plan..

I'm Sticking with Chicago Public Schools ChicagoNow: I made the decision to short sell my place in part because of theChicago Public Schools' elementary school assigned to my address. After all, West Rogers Park is a bit…. economically challenged.

Chicago's Next Education Crisis Isn't Limited to Chicago -- Here's Why Huffington Post: This time last year, my hometown of Chicago was poised to make headlines across the country as Chicago Public Schools (CPS) was on the verge of one of its ...


Readin', Writin' And The Rhythm Method: CPS To Teach Sex Ed In ...Chicagoist: The Chicago Public Schools just aren't getting enough press these days -- what with the closing of 50 schools this past spring, the Safe Passage Zones ...

Study: Poverty increases fast in Chicago suburbs WBEZ: Chicago’s suburbs have nearly as many poor people as the city does, according to a report out Thursday. The number of suburbanites living in poverty had grown to 629,564 by 2011, according to a review of U.S. Census Bureau data by the Heartland Alliance, a nonprofit group that fights poverty.

Duncan: Later Start in School Day Could Help Teens AP: A later start to the school day could help teenagers get the most from their classroom time and local districts should consider delaying the first bell ...

Oakland Schools Work to Transform Experience for African-American Boys PBS: We start our series with a report from Oakland, Calif., on a different approach to the dropout problem, where young black men are more likely to miss school, get suspended, or end up in jail than other students, statistics that have alarmed school officials.


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  • That was the best essay by Ray Salazar I have ever read that Alexander linked to. Ray might not want to recommend having Latino students go to law school as opposed to a college of education. I work with many young law school graduates, graduates of top law schools. Many unfortunately are interning for free even after having passed the bar exam because of the current glut in the legal field. These young lawyers also tell me that at some big firms paralegals have been cut and replaced with young lawyers who have passed the bar exam because they can be hired just as cheaply.

    A career in the military as an enlisted person without a college education isn't a cake walk either and I share with Ray his caution on recommending that career choice. I totally agree with Ray's perspective that students are looking for careers with authority and power. At one point in time many people thought teachers had some authority, power, and respect - in a way Ray questions that. I do think that the skill sets that prospective teachers need may be relative to the job of teaching. After all I don't think your average high school math teacher needs to be able to function at the level of a university trained electrical engineer or physicist.

    The question I think is how high does the bar need to be raised and what are the societal costs of having teachers who are much more academically qualified than in the past? I don't think I have an answer to that question, but we all must agree that the dramatic decline in African American and Latinos able to enter teacher preparation programs could have an impact on the social economic structure of America. There is really no evidence that more pathways to white collar college educated jobs will be opened up to minorities that can't make the academic standards of the teaching profession.
    While there are some relatively high skill non-white collar jobs available these jobs can also take a real physical toll on workers and by their late 40s unless they move into supervisory positions they are in real trouble in terms of keeping up with productivity standards regardless of their intelligence and vocational training. The world we are living in is not a simple one and I appreciate Ray's very thoughtful essay.

    Rod Estvan

  • Ray's probably just bummed because summer vacation is over. Ray really doesn't support his argument as to why teaching is a bad choice. There are few easy professions anymore. The young teachers in my family seem happy with their choices. I wonder if Ray has every faced working in a cubicle day after day?

    A teaching career isn't limited to a choice between a two year TFA stint or retiring at 62 from the classroom. The median Chicago teacher today ( a young white woman) probably doesn't expect to be a short timer or a full career teacher. Nothing wrong with teaching 5-10 years and then changing careers.

    I agree with Ron's point about the limited employment prospects for a prospective teacher who can't pass the TAP tests. Being able to perform well on ACT-like tests is important and will probably become more important for access to many career fields.

  • From WBEZ
    “Testing teachers causes unexpected racial division”
    Really?! ‘unexpected’?!

    Not only was a diminution of African Americans pass rates for the TAP (59% to 17%), expected; it was predicted back in 2010.

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