Monday, October 21, 2013

More Problems with Teach-NJ

As I mentioned in my last posting, the Law of Unintended Consequences will prevail with Teach-NJ, an honest attempt to improve teacher accountability- not performance- by introducing evaluative metrics into the profession. However, the onerous nature of these metrics is going to have a collateral effect that is far worse than the benefits being gained by the current system in place.

New Jersey has a real and profound need to recruit a new corps of teachers with expertise in fields other than education. Getting college graduates with degrees in biology, computer science, economics, accounting, and any number of "specialized fields" is going to require some serious incentives to dissuade these people from taking jobs in the corporate world.

We have already seen the horrible track record in education with retaining STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) teachers; more than 60% leave teaching within a year. Well, the problem I foresee is that the current metrics are so ridiculously heavy in paperwork and online that it will be a complete turnoff to these graduates, who by nature are much more entrepreneurial in outlook and will shy away from this top-heavy form of work management. It's not that the business world doesn't have similar demands, but these graduates would be earning far more money to compensate them for this work.

The need for these teachers, especially in the inner city, is far more immediate than the need to bury teachers in piles of paperwork. I sincerely hope that the State will revisit the Teach-NJ program and find a way to reduce the heavy demands it is placing on teachers; we need to reduce the emphasis on accountability and balance it with a program to improve teacher performance; they are NOT the same thing.

By modifying Teach-NJ to emphasize performance, these college graduates will also see that the education profession is committed to having a program in place to help these new teachers, most if not all of whom will be in the Alternate Route. This commitment to better training will serve as another incentive to persuade these graduates to choose teaching rather than the lab or office.

I implore our State officials and politicians to begin an evaluation of Teach-NJ immediately, bearing in mind its potential impact on recruiting new teachers. Our inner cities need these new teachers, and our current teachers need some relief. We can do better; we must do better; but will we do better?

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