Since WWII, the federal government has given over a billion dollars to schools and colleges of education to improve the teacher workforce with nothing to show for it. These grants go directly into the pockets of education faculty and university administrators of research who pursue lucrative careers getting even more federal grants which benefit nothing and no one but themselves. . . . Where there is zero accountability there is less than zero accomplished; that is, there are negative effects such as the exploitation of failing school districts and teachers’ and childrens’ time for the generation of misleading “findings.” Teacher educators do not offer programs based on data. Like schoolfolk, their programs reflect custom, tradition and the convenience of faculty.
We in teacher education quack about the need for making policy based on evidence but we act in ways which are not only baseless but frequently in contradition to the evidence. For example, as we speak, the folks in Las Vegas and in several other urban school districts are hiring new teachers with signing bonuses in the hope of getting better teachers who will stay. This is an example of policy based on delusion not fact. And it takes precious funds from very tight school budgets. N.Y.C. spends 12 million dollars per year for tuition for its teacher interns to complete masters degrees in education at local universities when the evidence indicates that completing these programs are not in any way related to increasing student achievement and that as teachers earn more advanced degrees they are more likely to leave the classroom.
Studies of teacher shortages ignore the economy, Haberman says.
In periods such as the present, where jobs with any career potential are scarce and disappearing, substantial numbers come into and remain in teaching because they have no other options. This increases the number of teachers in the poorest schools who are strong insensitives and who have no commitment to the children. They are also not likely to burn out. They can resist the debilitating conditions of work because they don’t care. They are in teaching for the job and the benefits. In my city, the benefits package is 63%.
Haberman argues the best teachers are mature adults with real-world experience and knowledge of subject matter, not recent college graduates with education degrees.