1) NEA Uses Old Numbers to Support Present Agenda. In order to draw
attention to National Teacher Day (which is tomorrow), the National
Education Association last week released a
lengthy press statement on "five main trends that have emerged over the
past five years." They were that public schoolteachers are the most
experienced and educated ever, that the work of teachers is being
transformed, that the number of teachers leaving the profession is
increasing, that the teaching force is not as diverse as the student body,
and that there are fewer male teachers than in the past.
NEA is to be commended for providing citations to the numerous claims it
makes in its press release, because the footnotes undermine the union's
analysis and recommendations.
Thirty-one statistics in the press release cite the same source: NEA's
Status of the American Public School Teacher, which has a load of
information, but was released in August 2003, describing the status of the
American public school teacher in 2000-01. Comprehensive education
statistics do have a significant lag in reaching the public, but
five-year-old information tells us little about where we are now, and even
less about where we're going.
Even worse, NEA cites a 1998 study on teacher shortages, and a 1996 study on
Fortunately, there is newer information on at least some of the topics NEA
addresses, in the form of
Characteristics of Schools, Districts, Teachers, Principals, and School
Libraries in the United States: 2003-04 Schools and Staffing Survey,
released on March 23, 2006 by the National Center for Education Statistics.
Here a few updates of the NEA stats:
* Today's teachers are on average 43 years old (42.5 actually) as NEA
states, but the NCES study reveals that charter school teachers are on
average 38 years old.
* NEA states that "more than half (57%) hold at least a master's degree."
But the newer data show that number is reduced to 48.1 percent in 2003-04. A
majority of teachers hold only a bachelor's degree.
* NEA states that 90 percent of the teaching profession is white. The newer
NCES numbers show that number has been reduced to 83.1 percent, helped along
considerably by charter schools. While 16.7 percent of teachers in
traditional public schools in 2003-04 were members of racial/ethnic
minorities, in charter schools that percentage was 29.8 percent. There is
also a larger percentage of males teaching in charter schools than in
regular public schools (27% vs. 25%).
* NCES is evidently still working on its teacher retention survey, which
hasn't been updated in many years, but does provide a tantalizing statistic.
The average number of teachers dismissed or non-renewed in American public
school districts in 2003-04 was 3.1. That's not a percentage, that's the
average number of teachers. Since there were 14,218 school districts in
operation that year, it comes to a national total of 44,076 non-renewed
teachers. That's out of 3,250,600 teachers, or 1.36 percent.
Four of NEA's main trends are in fact one trend: an aging population. The
average age and experience of teachers coincides with that of the American
population. Consequently, they have more advanced degrees and experience
than in the past, will retire in greater numbers, requiring replacements
from a smaller pool of eligible candidates.
But the demographics problem contains the seed of its own solution. As older
teachers retire and new ones are hired, the average age, experience, and
presence of advanced degrees will drop. The teaching profession will
necessarily reflect the racial/ethnic make-up of a more diverse population –
those who are currently students will become the new teachers.
Enrollment will slow, perhaps even drop, meaning not all of those retiring
teachers will need to be replaced. And guess what? The growth in the average
teacher salary will naturally slow, as high-paid veterans are increasingly
replaced by low-paid newcomers.
And while I have no statistics to back this up, it seems to me that teacher
retention, as currently defined, will worsen with the new generation.
Getting a job right out of school and holding it for 30 years (whatever the
field) is not valued by the younger generation to the degree it was in the
past. More and more people will teach "for awhile" and move on, perhaps
returning to it later. Still others will use alternative avenues to
teaching, after a career in a different field.
All this will require some forward thinking. Reliance on last decade's
numbers will, in the best case, only lead to answers for last decade's
2) NEA, NYSUT Approve New York Merger, Rumore Lays Out Options.
really have to admire NEA's ability to spin. By its own admission (see
last paragraph here), NEA New York was in financial free-fall, losing
members and locals to the AFT-affiliated New York State United Teachers (NYSUT).
NEA New York finally threw in the towel last year. Now, representatives of
NEA New York and NYSUT have agreed to a merger… which is a merger in the
Britain and India merged in 1757.
The NEA Executive Committee approved the merger, and sent out a press
release over the weekend proclaiming itself "the largest union in U.S.
history," with 3.2 million members. This is a pretty bold claim, since
NYSUT's half-million members will pay no dues to NEA, and will have no
representation in NEA.
Meanwhile Phil Rumore, merger opponent and president of the Buffalo Teachers
Federation (BTF), has notified his members of the situation, and presented
them with their choices.
According to a letter from Rumore to BTF members, the options are:
"1. We can join the new organization.
"2. We can become an independent local, as are the Buffalo Police and PCTEA,
and work cooperatively with other unions, as we do now.
"3. We can join with other local unions who have approached us to start a
new state organization.
"4. We can affiliate with another state and national union."
Rumore is at least convinced that BTF could make better use locally of the
$1.7 million it sends annually to NEA New York and NEA.
BTF has been given an end-of-June deadline by the new, merged NYSUT to make
up its mind, but Rumore says he will operate on his own timeline, so that
BTF members will not be hurried into a decision.
3) Union Staff Troubles in California and Indiana.
Not many details
available, but it seems the California Teachers Association is playing
hardball with its staff unions in contract negotiations.
CTA has been altering its evaluation of the union's financial condition
based on the audience. When CTA was trying to stop a
court injunction against its special assessment last October, it claimed
it was in danger of great financial harm. When word of this reached the
members, CTA reversed course and assured everyone the union was not broke.
Now union officials are claiming financial hardship while negotiating with
both professional and support employees over contracts that expire August
31, 2006. EIA will be watching this closely.
Meanwhile, the staff union of the Indiana State Teachers Association has
imposed sanctions against ISTA. The staff union claims ISTA has failed to
act on complaints of mistreatment of UniServ directors. The sanctions are
official, but mostly symbolic so far. They merely notify other union
employees that ISTA's UniServ District in Terre Haute is "an undesirable
place to work."
4) Beat the Rap, Then Endorse Me. If you missed the story that
circulated through many other education blogs, there was a small blip over
the weekend in the New York State United Teachers' endorsement of New York
Attorney General Eliot Spitzer for governor. The endorsement didn't take
place, and Spitzer didn't show up for his acceptance speech because his
office is investigating NYSUT's relationship with the ING Group.
The ING Group pays the NYSUT Member Benefit Trust $3 million in exchange for
endorsed investment services to NYSUT members. But, as a recent
Los Angeles Times story
disclosed, the investments produced sub-par returns. The
New York Post reported that Spitzer has been investigating the deal
for seven months.
5) Thai Teachers' Union Musters Its Troops… for Real. Here's an idea
from overseas I hope doesn't catch on here.
Armed Muslim separatists operate in southern Thailand and "government-run
secular schools have been targeted in the past because they were seen as
anti-Islamic by separatist militants," according to
GlobalSecurity.org. In response, some 1,300 teachers will undergo
weapons training this week before joining the "teachers' self-protection
battalion," according to the Bangkok Post. They will be trained by
the army and internal security forces, and will be able to purchase weapons
at discounted prices.
The battalion will be commanded by Sa-nguan Intharak, secretary-general of
the Federation of Narathiwat Teachers, the local teachers' union.
Meanwhile, Egitim-Sen, the Turkish teachers' union,
took the opposite position, refusing the government's request to
establish teacher committees to identify students who are being "exploited"
by the Kurdistan Workers' Party.
In a statement, union officials said that preventing terrorism was the task
of the security forces, and criticized the education minister for "causing
cultural degeneration and a loss of values through the Soros methods
[referring to international financier George Soros] and policies you
6) Last week's Intercepts. EIA's blog,
Intercepts, covered these topics from May 2-7:
UFT's Stossel Obsession. Cameras disrupt classrooms. Unless they're
Spiked? What's in the value-added survey of nationally certified
NEA Members: Here Comes the AFL-CIO Recruiter. This is for all those NEA
members who said the AFL-CIO partnership was "no big deal."
Read the Fine Print, Kids. Unions hate the commercialization of schools.
Unless they get a cut.
7) Quote of the Week #1.
"And on the panel in
question, about the future of teacher unions, it was hard and dark, what
with former Denver teachers' union activist Brad Jupp and former Seattle
teachers' union president and
leader Roger Erskine as two of the three on the panel it was clear, that as
argued last week, the views of teachers' unions or anyone sympathetic to
them would be ruthlessly suppressed at any cost.." – Andrew Rotherham, on
Eduwonk.com, poking fun at the assertion of Leo Casey of the United
Federation of Teachers that a panel on the future of teacher unionism at the
New Schools Venture Fund didn't include "teacher voice."
Quote of the Week #2.
"Enough with this myth of
democratic voice – allow vulgar, unwashed commoners to speak for themselves,
and the entire natural order of things will be overturned. Before too soon
there will be calls for a republican form of government!" – Casey's
tongue-in-cheek response on