Future teachers of America

Forty-two percent of college-educated 24- to 60-year-olds would consider teaching as a second career, reports a Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation survey.

These potential teachers are more likely than others to have a postgraduate degree, to have attended selective colleges, and to report having higher-than-average grades than other college graduates, the report finds.

That’s good news, notes the Christian Science Monitor:

Because of retirements, teacher turnover, and enrollment growth, schools will need to hire somewhere between 2.9 million and 5.1 million teachers between now and 2020, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago estimates.

Money is an object: More than 60 percent of those interested in teaching say they’d need a starting salary of $50,000 or more; average starting pay is $31,753, according to the American Federation of Teachers.

Thirty percent expressed interest in teaching children from disadvantaged backgrounds or in a low-performing school; a similar percentage are interested in teaching in a charter school.

Currently, close to 20 percent of new teachers enter the profession through an alternate path rather than going through education school.

About Joanne

Comments

  1. Not if they live in Pennsylvania. I considered this, and checked it out. Despite three decades of teaching experience, despite teaching awards and stellar evaluations, despite two decades of teacher training experience (and we’ll just ignore all of the grad school), I cannot teach in this state until I take some 40 hours of education school classes — not, mind, actual content courses, you know, like math, but “Teaching Diversity in your Classroom” and “Being Sensitive to the Needs of Three-Toed Lesbian Conjoined Twin Students” classes. Thank the teachers union.

    Oh, and that 40 hours of classes ain’t gonna happen. I couldn’t tolerate the first day of one of them.

  2. I’ve been teaching for 10 years and have a master’s degree, and I’m still not making $50,000. Good luck attracting these people.

    My district rarely considers hiring someone with alternative credentials (our rep usually allows us to be very choosy), but I have really enjoyed working with the career changers. They tend to be less idealistic right off the bat, even when classroom management is eating them alive the first year.

    My student teachers have all been career changers (men, even) and two have gone into very difficult schools and are thriving (I’m quite proud of them). But they each spent a year (about 300 hours) with me in my classroom first.

  3. Geez, RWP, at my university in Illinois you can get a secondary certificate with as few as ten hours of education classes, seven of which involve observation and teaching hours (the long track is sixteen hours, which includes a class in diversity and a class in the history of US education). That doesn’t include student teaching.

    “Thank the teachers union”? Maybe, but you also have to thank the legislature, which made it law.

  4. Mike said, “Geez, RWP, at my university in Illinois you can get a secondary certificate with as few as ten hours of education classes, seven of which involve observation and teaching hours (the long track is sixteen hours, which includes a class in diversity and a class in the history of US education). That doesn’t include student teaching.”

    In my state, it takes a minimum of 34 credit hours. But even if it’s 10 hours, that’s too many hours if they are typical ed school classes.

  5. Typical ed school classes? Nah. Not even close. There’s a one-hour intro class that requires observation, and is designed to get students thinking about whether they want to be teachers, a multi-cultural class (not sure of the content, but don’t assume it fits your prejudices), and two classes that cover planning, testing, reading,writing, and include significant classroom experience. There’s also a content-specific class taught in the academic department that brings all math teachers together, all foreign language teachers, and so on. Then student teaching.

    BTW, “typical” in this context generally means “stereotypical.” The stereotype certainly exists, but assuming that’s the way it is everywhere is just contempt prior to investigation.

  6. I did make the change of switching to teaching as a second career. I did it because I’ve always wanted to take my “real world knowledge” and teach kids.

    In order to get credentialed, I had to take an ENTIRE year OFF work and live on savings to complete the necessary observation classes and unpaid student teaching. Then after getting a job, I had to jump through BTSA hoops for two years to clear that credential. Which also meant two years of not having a life and neglecting my family because I was doing busy work and attending MORE classes when I finished teaching each day.

    My twenty years of professional experience was rewarded with the exact same pay rate as my 21-year-old colleague next door, who’d never held a full-time job in her life. I make roughly 1/3 of what I used to make for less work.

    I am a really good teacher, if I do say so myself. I love my work. Yes, it was my choice, and maybe I shouldn’t complain about the pay and the obstacles to becoming a teacher later in life. But would I do it again, given the opportunity? Hell no.

    If we want to attract good teachers who didn’t choose to enter the field as 18-yr-old college freshmen, there’s got to be a better way.

  7. A quick P.S.– RWP–Thank the teachers’ unions? No. Thank legislators and bureaucrats (think Margaret Spellings) with little to no educational experience who pass down pronouncements from on high as to what constitutes a “highly qualified teacher” and what test items kids need to bubble correctly for NCLB. It’s interesting how everyone wants to blame teachers for all that is wrong with education–and even with the process of becoming a teacher. The biggest part of the problem rests with the decision-makers, non-teachers who refuse to listen to teachers regarding what works in the classroom.

  8. California makes it harder and harder to change careers and become a teacher. I did it 21 years ago, and I too had to take two years off to get that clear credential. It was almost 60 additional units.

    I have been fortunate to work in a district that has a superb union so my salary and benefits rival any other job in THIS city. Now, if I lived in the bay area, or LA, I don’t think my salary would compare with a job in the corporate world. I teach marketing to high school students, and in two years I plan to return to the corporate world and see if I can still make it out there.

  9. Mike Curtis says:

    In private industry, when there is a large demand for, but a small supply of talent, the industry offers higher salaries and/or increased benefits to attract what it needs. In contrast, public education demands talent, but instead of incentives, lowers standards to increase the number of qualified applicants.

    The “education” curriculum I endured in the nineties prepared me for teaching as much as a few courses in the history of baseball would prepare me to play for the Boston Red Sox.

    All things being equal, I have been teaching high school math in a trouble free rural school for 9 years. I truly love the work; but, I would not recommend anyone to enter public education as a career. Instead, learn how to make a living, then, use your teacher’s salary to supplement your retirement from your day job.

  10. I’m currently attending Stanford and paying a small fortune to get a master’s and a credential in a year, rather than the two-plus years it would take at a Cal State.

    On the other hand, with two master’s degrees and well over 90 credits, my starting salary will be very high if I stay in the Bay Area, and I doubt I’m unusual for a second careerist. Average starting salary is irrelevant. What matters is how much posteducation you have after your bachelor’s degree–then you get another $1500-2K per Master’s (and you get money for each master’s).

    I pretty much disagree with everything they teach, although certainly the caliber of instructors and fellow students is amazing. I can’t believe I have to spend this kind of money and time to become a teacher. It’s absurd. I have five years of teaching experience already, including working with low income kids. It is practically impossible to get alternative certification in California.

    Anyone who says that money is the major barrier for a second career teacher has an agenda. It’s not money. It’s the bullsh** you have to go through in a profession with a required test that any suburban sixth grader could pass.

  11. Routes to certification vary by state, and it’s an error to make generalizations based on experience in only one. The biggest barrier I see to older students getting a teaching certificate at my university is their lack of subject matter courses. YMMV.

  12. “Geez, RWP, at my university in Illinois you can get a secondary certificate with as few as ten hours of education classes”

    Indiana too, but that’s a right to work state.

    As for the naifs who are trying to divert the responsibility for this idiocy away from the teachers unions, who, exactly, do you think owns the legislators in union states? Who, exactly, do you think draws up these “requirements”? It’s not Margaret Spellings or the feds, and it’s not the legislators. What’s most maddening is that the teachers unions and ed schools couldn’t care less about being able to teach the topic. All they care about is leftist propoganda.

  13. RWP, Illinois has strong and active unions, but they’re mostly involved with pay, job conditions, ensuring due process, and the like (they certainly try to bring political pressure, but that’s largely because our legislature is nuts and our governor–in keeping with a fine Illinois tradition–is an egocentric crook, so school funding is problematic at best). The ones with real political influence are the superintendents and principals, and given that there are over 900 school districts here, the superintendents have a lot of clout.

    As to your statement about unions and ed schools not caring about being able to teach, it depends on the unions and ed schools you’re talking about. In my experience (twenty years teaching, ten training teachers at the university level, and occasional experience reviewing subject specific programs for the state board of higher ed), that’s simply not true. But then, I don’t live in California. 😉

  14. Mike said, “BTW, “typical” in this context generally means “stereotypical.” The stereotype certainly exists, but assuming that’s the way it is everywhere is just contempt prior to investigation.”

    Mike, those “investigations” have been done for many years. The evidence shows that teachers who are certified through an ed school do not produce students with higher achievement than teachers without certification through an ed school, e.g., see “Photo Finish” in Education Next, Winter, 2007. Further, ed schools are the greatest hindrance in attempting to teach how children learn to read and how to teach reading, e.g., see http://www.nctq.org, “What education schools aren’t teaching about reading and what elementary teachers aren’t learning.” The extraordinarily poor quality of ed schools is one reason why private foundations, e.g., Fordham Foundation, have become so involved in teacher education both outside of ed schools. In my city, my wife and I consult with two private foundations and conduct teacher training programs in reading. My wide also consults for a private foundation and travels around the country doing teacher training in reading.

    When a school district wants assistance with something, e.g., how to teach reading, by and large they don’t call an ed school because they know they will have someone come to the school who will espouse more whole language, learning styles, differentiated instruction, or constructivist nonsense. To improve teacher ed, the state monopoly on teacher certification will have to be taken away from ed schools, who will then have to compete for students or go out of business.

  15. What school districts need to do to improve the quality of performance is to hire fewer crappy consultants Who Think They Know It All Because They’ve Never Been Near Ed School as well as fewer Ed School Consultants and look to the successful and talented pros in their own ranks who spend more time actually working and succeeding with kids than cooking up glitzy Power Point presentations that are rehashes of ideas that came around 10, 15, 20 and even 30 years ago (the beauty of working with old-timers is that they can spot the rehabbed fads in an inservice at 100 yards, and tell you the good and bad points of it and whether the rehab actually addressed the problems with the original fad or not. Problem with most of these consultants is that they don’t address what was wrong with the idea in the first place).

    Too damned many consultants do it for the cash. They come up with a schtick and sell it to districts with a big soft-shoe performance. My colleagues and I occasionally mutter that we should do the same for retirement income. Usually, though, we’re too damned busy actually working with the kids to do it.

  16. Who, exactly, do you think draws up these “requirements”?

    Oh, I agree completely. The goal is to make the requirements onerous for a well-qualified person, but simple for a person who doesn’t have a whole lot of options.

    The biggest barrier I see to older students getting a teaching certificate at my university is their lack of subject matter courses.

    I don’t know what state you live in, but most states allow to demonstrate subject matter expertise with a test. I’ve passed all the subject matter tests for two credentials, and the third (English) I’ll pass this year, once I get ambitious enough to sign up for the test.

    No, it’s not the knowledge. It’s the annoyance and the time spent in nonsensical courses.

  17. When I finished my bachelors many years ago, I started working on my elementary teaching certificate. Everyone told me, “Awesome!” I got that response because I was a male veteran, and all my ed class teachers (five women) told me that that’s what elementary schools need (the male part more so than the veteran part).

    The day I brought home the 8 1/2 x 11 inch reproductin penny, that I had to make out of construction paper for one of my teaching methods courses finally broke the camel’s back. There I was paying plenty of money for all these ed credits (elementary at my U required 36 hours NOT INCLUDING the student teaching semester), and I’m cutting and pasting. Not to mention the day I learned how to teach kids to count using M&Ms. I could have learned that from reading a book! And finally, the time I spent in the classroom, which was great (because of the kids–5th grade), was soured when I met the other teachers. None of them spent any time teaching. They spent all their time explaining to the kids why they need to recycle (without explaining the science behind it), how to use the internet (okay, but these kids couldn’t spell), and other subjects that weren’t math, reading or writing.

    I was so fed up that I went to my local Air Force recruiter and re-enlisted into the active duty.

  18. I looked into what it would take for me to get a state teaching credential maybe a year and a half ago. Out of the 12 required courses, only 3 were subject-specific pedagogy. The remaining 9 were politically correct nonsense such as “Multicultural Foundations of a Diverse Classroom”. I can understand wanting teachers to be sensitive to the needs of students from a wide variety of backgrounds at a time where almost half the public school students are non-white. But that multicultural training should be incorporated into regular coursework. For example, having a unit on minority authors as part of a course on teaching literature. The focus should be on teaching academics, not all this social justice B.S.

  19. I find it fascinating that people who are not teachers know all about what is necessary for teachers to know. I wouldn’t presume to dictate the training for accountants, managers, and dentists. Of course, since you’ve all been students, you know exactly what the job of teacher entails.

    I am not going to defend ed schools — I’m too tired of being their cash cow for that. Many of the courses are poorly executed. But sensitivity to minorities is more than a unit with a couple of black authors or teaching House on Mango Street. Closing the achievement gap is not “social justice bullshit” — it is vitally necessary. A GOOD course in the issues inherent in being the OWL full of a class of non-white students would be invaluable. Oh, and a course on dealing with ED kids (and their insane parents) would save your bacon in too many ways to count. I wish I knew years ago what I know now about how to teach bipolar kids (I get several every year).

    And I’m sorry, you can be a SuperGenius in your field, but you will have no idea how to structure a class to effectively meet the needs of the future doctor, the child with autism, the three kids with learning disabilities in semantics, a couple of pot heads, one or two who don’t come to school on a regular basis, and about a dozen “regular” kids — all in the same classroom.

  20. Dick Eagleson says:

    And I’m sorry, you can be a SuperGenius in your field, but you will have no idea how to structure a class to effectively meet the needs of the future doctor, the child with autism, the three kids with learning disabilities in semantics, a couple of pot heads, one or two who don’t come to school on a regular basis, and about a dozen “regular” kids — all in the same classroom.

    It’s quite true that “real world” experience in business and industry won’t prepare one especially well for such challenges, but I see no one making such a claim. Ed schools, on the other hand, do assert an alleged expertise in training teachers how to teach. As the spouse of a teacher, I can categorically state that there is nothing in the now-typical ed shool curriculum that usefully adresses any of the items on the above laundry list.

    A GOOD course in the issues inherent in being the OWL full of a class of non-white students would be invaluable.

    Yes, it would. Of course, in order to be useful, certain truths would have to be frankly addressed. The current atmosphere of oppressive political correctness and endless excuse-making for minority dysfunctions renders that a non-starter.

    Closing the achievement gap is not “social justice bullshit” — it is vitally necessary.

    As American society has managed to muddle through these last three generations without closing the achievement gap, I’d have to say that, objectively, doing so has not proven to be “vitally necessary.” It is, certainly, desireable. I, personally, would argue that the attempts to remake American public education along left-wing ideological lines that have been ongoing these past 50 years in the name of “social justice” and other ill-defined liberal tropes may be quite fairly categorized as “social justice bullshit” and are, more than any other root cause, the main basis for the perssistence of the achievement gap mentioned.

  21. I am not arguing that ed schools do any of these things particularly well, Dick (you didn’t choose to quote that part). In fact, since I am a traditionally licensed teacher, you can go ahead and assume — correctly — that I sat through my fair share of crappy courses with good sounding titles (one on school law, which one would think could be an especially practical tutorial in how not to get sued, was among the worst).

    Some classes, like philosophy of education, seem like bullshit at the time, but actually become a bit more useful as one becomes a reflective practitioner.

    What I AM arguing is that teaching effectively in today’s public schools requires special knowledge outside of the subject matter.

    I think the Urban Teacher Residencies being implemented in Chicago and Boston are particularly promising as models for getting career changers into the classroom *with the training they need* to be successful.

    The causes of the achievement gap are complex, and I won’t argue for or against any one root problem, although I’ve done extensive reading on the subject and could probably hazard a top ten. FWIW, the achievement gap had narrowed greatly in the 60’s – 80’s before exploding to its current proportions. In the past 10 years, minority scores have taken a dive. So, I’d point out that whether or not it was a vital problem three generations ago vs. now is apples::oranges.

  22. Reality Czech says:

    FWIW, the achievement gap had narrowed greatly in the 60’s – 80’s before exploding to its current proportions. In the past 10 years, minority scores have taken a dive.

    Note also that immigration from countries with low education levels has exploded in the same way. If you want better academic achievement, you have to stop importing problems.

  23. Note also that immigration from countries with low education levels has exploded in the same way. If you want better academic achievement, you have to stop importing problems.

    Note also that the achievement gap doesn’t correlate with immigrant populations. Native-born kids get left behind with a democratic indifference to their citizenship status.

  24. “I find it fascinating that people who are not teachers know all about what is necessary for teachers to know. I wouldn’t presume to dictate the training for accountants, managers, and dentists.”

    Lightly Seasoned, I am a taxpayer and parent. That alone means that my opinion on what a teacher needs to know is relevant. The problem with your analogy above is that if I didn’t agree with a particular accountant’s, manager’s or dentist’s training, I could go to a different accountant, manager or dentist. The american public school system, as currently structured, does not allow parents that same freedom.

    Remember, the teachers are beholden to us, the parents who send our kids to the schools. For that reason, our desires with respect to how our teachers are trained is of relevance.

    “Oh, and a course on dealing with ED kids (and their insane parents) would save your bacon in too many ways to count. I wish I knew years ago what I know now about how to teach bipolar kids (I get several every year).”

    My point while I was going to ed school was why not conduct continuing education seminars in these things? And how about on-the-job training? Many of these things you list can be taught by a senior teacher in the school. I’ve spent my life in the military, and it is unbelievable what can be taught with OJT and short seminars. My problem with my ed school was the amount of money and time I wasted (yes, wasted!) on classes that were simply relaying information to me that I could have read myself. Hell, this info should (if it’s not already) be part of the Praxis exam. And this info could be reviewed every few years if teachers were required to retest to show their continuing competence in their areas.

    Looking at all the alternative routes to certification, it seems plausible that good teachers could come from these supergeniuses the NEA seems afraid of. It made me laugh when one of my ed professors told me that a history professor from our school wasn’t qualified to teach in the city’s secondary schools because of his lack of ED classes. What a pity…but if you had a PhD in American History and wanted to teach high school as a second career, why would you want to go through the time and expense to take 30-odd semester hours of ED classes?!?!

  25. Lightly Seasoned said, “What I AM arguing is that teaching effectively in today’s public schools requires special knowledge outside of the subject matter.”

    If so (and I don’t accept the premise), liberal politics, liberal policies and liberal judges (who have taken away the power of schools to discipline) have done this to schools. Teaching in ANY school doesn’t require knowledge of cultural diversity, constructivist, and social justice nonsense. All a good teacher needs is strong content knowledge and common sense. Unfortunately, common sense has been in short supply for some time among those who set the policies and train the teachers for schools.

  26. I don’t know about you all, but I personally would be extremely concerned about going to a dental hygienist whose training consisted of 3 courses on cleaning teeth & gums and 9 courses on being sensitive to the needs of different populations…

    As for all this worry about the so-called “achievement gap”, it’s not as if the white & Asian kids are doing so wonderfully, either. I’d like to see a lot less worry about the relative achievement between different groups, and a whole lot more focus on raising achievement levels for *EVERYONE*.

  27. Lightly Seasoned says:

    Crimson Wife: test scores, for whatever they are worth, are rising across the board, but the gap is remaining constant or in some cases widening as the score improvement for white and asian students outpaces that of of the subgroups. This information is widely publicized.

    IronMike: Continuing education is required by most states, I believe (certainly mine). I attend professional development regularly on these topics and my subject matter. Probably cold comfort for the kids in my classroom in the years before I got to that particular PD. A little frontloading is not a bad thing. Again, I don’t think ed schools do this well, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done well. And again, I think the Urban Teaching Residencies are a very good model. I’m sorry you wasted your money on a career that you were ultimately not cut out for. And, FWIW, my kid has never done a project on recycling or environmentalism. She does science in her public school. You folks in California are just way weird, and there’s nothin’ we midwesterners can do about it except shake our heads and stay far away.

    As for your status as a taxpayer and parent: the sex offender up the street is a taxpayer and parent, but nobody is going to suggest he should determine educational policy, now are they? BTW, I’m all for school choice if it can be done in such a way as to improve the dumping ground schools.

    What I find interesting about all these debates is that administrator quality is never called into question. When Lehman Bros. goes under, it isn’t the brokers’ fault.

  28. You folks in California are just way weird, and there’s nothin’ we midwesterners can do about it except shake our heads and stay far away.

    Oh, well said, my midwestern sister!

  29. Test scores have indeed improved modestly for elementary and middle school students but they have been flat for high schoolers. And even for white students, the NAEP averages for grades 4 & 8 are still below grade-level proficiency for both reading & math. If we could raise achievement by a significant amount for all groups, then everyone would be better off even if the gap between different groups remained unchanged. A rising tide lifting all boats, so to speak…

  30. Sadly, if the sex offender up the street has kids in the local schools, s/he has a say in teacher quality. That’s how public schools work.

    As for us, we homeschool. We’ve “chosen” better education over potentially (and sometimes actually) shoddy, as we move every two years on average. It works for us.

    One way to improve dumping ground schools is to give EVERY parent a choice. If the dumping ground school can’t compete, it should be closed. If the teachers are the problem, the principal should be able to fire them, tenure be damned.

    I wouldn’t say I wasn’t cut out to be a teacher, I would just say that I found more intelligent, interesting, dedicated and friendly people in the ranks of the military than in the teacher ranks of the Anchorage Independent School district (sadly). If my grades in my 30-odd semester hours of ed school classes were any measure (and some insist they are), then I was especially “cut out” to be a teacher. After all, you can’t get any higher than a 4.0. 😉

    I’m going to look up the Urban Teaching Residencies, those sound interesting. And I certainly have no problem with front-loading. In fact, I love the alternative teacher certification programs that some states have. They don’t require as many credits as my elementary cert did, yet they cover the same subject matter. My point: one class discussing inclusion, special needs and legal issues of teaching in the state, then methods (which for elementary, of course, are more time consuming than secondary), then student teaching, then probation for a year or two under the mentorship of a senior teacher. But why did I have to take 30-odd hours (I think it was 33, it was over 12 years ago) before I even got to my year-long methods courses (a 30-hour sequence itself), then a semester of student teaching. Yikes!