Where are the teachers?

From the Teacher Quality Bulletin:

New York City is so short of math and science teachers that even a science magnet started the school year without enough science teachers.

Some 30 city schools have “science” in their names, but, like Kaitlin’s academy, many can’t back up the promise with instruction.

. . . Education Department officials said they’ve hired two new science teachers for Kaitlin’s school, including one for her grade, who will start this week. In the meantime, Kaitlin was learning, “How to Be a Class Leader,” taught by a substitute teacher in health class, she said.

“To be a neurosurgeon, I need a good science degree and I need good science teachers,” said Kaitlin, whose grandparents drive her from her Ozone Park home to the Brooklyn middle school each morning. “I joined this school to learn about the body and all different kinds of stuff. The first year was great, and there were after-school clubs that dealt with science. But there isn’t any of that this year.”

In New Jersey, teachers are waiting up to nine months for certification paperwork to clear. They’re hired as substitutes at half the normal pay.

Still more ludicrous, these “substitute” teachers could only spend 20 days at a stretch in a single classroom by New Jersey law, so principals who didn’t manage to secure waivers had to swap teachers among classrooms or tell these teachers to stay home for a few days.

Gov. McGreevey has extended the maximum time for substitutes to 50 days, ordered districts to pay teachers their full salaries and told state education officials to clear the backlog.

About Joanne


  1. Bluemount says:

    The use of substitutes is a landmind of corruption. Our colleges sell parents a promise of a professional position for every drama major, artist and chior specialist, because this helps the ‘kids’. I have seen substitutes bounce 100’s of miles in multiple districts on ‘year long’ teaching assignments. They are often approached and pressured to support the administration in garnering support for programs. They are rewarded with jobs based on their value to the administration.

    It defies logic that high school math teachers are hard to produce. It ignores the fact the text books are so bad and the discipline required to excell is so lacking. There certainly are plenty of warm bodies standing around. If the job isn’t defined as work that can be performed by the masses, you can’t provide the resource to the masses. I hope I retire before someone discovers I would fail being recertified, but it has nothing to do with my job.

  2. Science teachers have to understand the science they teach. For most sciences, that also means they have to understand mathematics, which means they have to have started back in grade school doing more work than most public schools will ask for. Nor are public schools often teaching enough science to form a proper background for any science major in college.

    And the few that get past these hurdles are mostly too intellectually curious to be happy teaching the dumbed-down version to highschool students for 40 years.

  3. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Time for a teacher draft, Bush. 4 years in the classroom and then 6 years substituting.

  4. Bluemount says:

    Nor are public schools often teaching enough science to form a proper background for any science major in college.
    I looked at the major’s available to college students at PrincetonReview.Com. Under the science categories are a ton of technical areas that would have been taught at the Votech. Big surprise, the work’s preformed in Field Replacable Units (FRU’s) that is far, far, simpler than the diagnostic skills expected from technicians in the past. My point is there is a lot of work that needs to be done on this planet and the need is to make people functional.
    The most pathetic feature of academia is the number of people who believe they are teching science and math when they aren’t. In the past they didn’t think they were science or math majors, they thought they were technicians. The reality is there aren’t enough people to actually prepare the number of capable kids for truely advanced science. It’s much easier to tell people they are brilliant than it is to teach them.
    There are enough smart people around for the genuine academically passionate person to find. I think that’s as good as it gets.

  5. Richard Brandshaft says:

    Additional point: we are talking about New York City. I grew up there. If you have a profession in demand all over the country, why would you want to move to New York?