The Great Migration: Educators Leaving the Profession & the Impact it has on Students

Alternative Entrepreneurship Education Choices. Protohack.org

With the pandemic forcing schools online over the past two years, an already dwindling education workforce is seeing a dramatic increase in teachers leaving the profession. Top reasons for this mass exodus include burnout and lack of appropriate compensation, as well as fears related to contracting covid in an in-person setting particularly for those teachers who are in high-risk categories. This is exacerbated by the fact that many teachers are no longer able to cultivate meaningful relationships with their students over this new online format.

The National Education Association poll conducted in January 2022, reported that 90% of its members say that feeling burned out is a serious problem; 86% say they have seen more educators leaving the profession or retiring early since the start of the pandemic; and 80% report that unfilled job openings have led to more work obligations for those left. These rates are even higher among Black and Hispanic/Latino educators.[1] Similar research from the RAND Corporation 2021 State of the U.S. Teacher Survey found nearly one in four teachers said that they were likely to leave their jobs by the end of the 2020–2021 school year, compared with one in six teachers who were likely to leave, on average, prior to the pandemic. [2] In particular, Black or African American teachers were more likely to leave.[3]

 

The result of teachers leaving their positions for new and more prosperous positions outside of the field is devastating for students. This is particularly true for students of color and those with disabilities. Studies show educators leaving the profession has a direct correlation to a decline in students’ success. “Research shows that high teacher turnover rates in schools negatively impact student achievement for all students in a school, not just those in a new teacher’s classroom.”[4] Further, “these rates are highest in schools serving low-income and students and students of color.”[5]

 

Class sizes are ballooning as remaining teachers are forced to consolidate classes. Students’ schedules are being changed to accommodate for this lack of educators. Some students are forced into classes that they may have no interest in or are being switched mid-school year into an entirely new class with new faces and new material.

 

Further complicating matters is the fact that the pool of applicants to fill these vacant positions is scarce, and those who are available may be grossly underqualified.

 

So, what gives? The National Education Association (NEA) says money should be top of mind. NEA supports raising salaries and hiring more people.[6] Specifically, they are pushing that American Rescue Plan money should be used to increase pay and establish new positions.[7] Their message is clear: if we don’t act now, we may be doing irreparable harm.

[1] https://www.nea.org/about-nea/media-center/press-releases/nea-survey-massive-staff-shortages-schools-leading-educator

[2] https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RRA1108-1.html.

[3] https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RRA1108-1.html.

[4] https://learningpolicyinstitute.org/blog/why-addressing-teacher-turnover-matters#:~:text=High%20turnover%20undermines%20student%20achievement&text=Research%20shows%20that%20high%20teacher,students%20and%20students%20of%20color

[5] https://learningpolicyinstitute.org/blog/why-addressing-teacher-turnover-matters#:~:text=High%20turnover%20undermines%20student%20achievement&text=Research%20shows%20that%20high%20teacher,students%20and%20students%20of%20color

[6] https://www.npr.org/2022/02/01/1076943883/teachers-quitting-burnout.

[7] https://www.npr.org/2022/02/01/1076943883/teachers-quitting-burnout.

Teaching Intro to Juvenile Law in Street Law

 

Being a Street Law instructor involves teaching teenage youth. This is a group of people whose laws if charged as a juvenile is separate from adult law. Many may not know, where some may. Regardless of the importance of teaching the youth about the processes and procedures of their “separate” laws, typically based on policy or precedent, can be important to developing their advocacy skills.

An important aspect to teach the students in Street Law is about representation by a lawyer for a juvenile defender. First and foremost, if ever questioned by a police officer when being detained for a possible crime or suspect to one ask for representation. Typically, when telling the students about asking for a lawyer in the street law course many students are curious to know when to know to ask for a lawyer when being questioned by an officer. The response to this, is the person who is being questioned needs to ask the officer, “am I free to leave?” If the officer responds no, then that is when you may ask for a lawyer.

This typically leads to Miranda Warnings and students’ rights at school. To be able to teach Miranda is very important in knowing one’s rights when being questioned by law enforcement. When teaching the students about Miranda Warnings, usually the lesson will involve the difference between casual conversation, reasonable suspicion, and probable cause. There are many activities done with the students during this lesson to understand the actions that lead to custody and know when Miranda Warnings should be read to them.

When discussing how to get representation, an important policy to bring up with the students from Texas is the Fair Defense Act which “requires each county’s juvenile board to adopt a plan for the appointment of counsel to youth whose families are unable to afford counsel and sets out basic guidelines for the appointment process.” To know that there is a strong possibility of help when coming from a low-income or socioeconomic background can be reassuring with getting representation.

Another important aspect of juvenile defense that can be taught in Street Law is about representation when it comes to mental health disorders. The importance has to do with the rehabilitation of the juvenile towards their actions if they are the culprit of their alleged crime. It is important that the juvenile defense lawyer gets this information and if the juvenile defender fails to ask, it is important for the juvenile to tell the lawyer. This may be a step that is possibly forgotten from time to time and is imperative to help the charged juvenile. When there is a possibility that the charged juvenile has a mental health disorder, once it is told to the lawyer then it may be important to get an evaluation. The outcome of this evaluation will help the court make a better decision towards the charged juveniles’ well-being and the juvenile’s rehabilitation efforts if convicted of the crime.

Juvenile Law is very broad and can be applicable in many situations for teenagers and youth. For them to understand their basic constitutional rights can help in many different situations. Teaching this lesson will empower youth to advocate for themselves in many situations.

U.S. Secretary of Education: Children with Disabilities Held to Same Standards

From Joy Resmovits at the Huffington Post:

Should students with disabilities be held to the same academic standards as their peers? And should schools and teachers be held accountable for their progress?

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan answered that question with a resounding yes, proposing a seemingly wonky regulatory change that could have profound effects on some of the nation’s most vulnerable learners.

Since President Barack Obama came into office, his administration has upheld and advanced policies that have increased the stakes of standardized testing, arguing that student progress ultimately matters above all other concerns. Policies such as the Race to the Top competition derive from the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act, which tied federal school aid to standardized test results. A subsequent 2003 regulation allowed states to use “alternate achievement standards” for up to 1 percent of students with the most challenging cognitive disabilities.

In 2007, the Education Department tweaked the law to allow 2 percent of students per state to learn a curriculum based on “modified” objectives and be measured on an aligned test. The feds based that number on the “percent of students who may not reach grade-level achievement standards within the same time frame as other students, even after receiving the best-designed instructional interventions from highly trained teachers,” the department wrote in the Federal Register. States could use the modified tests to measure student performance of these 2 percent under No Child Left Behind.

Since then, a consortium of advocacy groups representing special education students, such as the Easter Seals and the National Center for Learning Disabilities, have pushed to end the allowance. “The expectation should be that students presently taking the … [alternate exams] will participate in the general assessment, with appropriate accommodations as needed,” the group wrote in July.

Now the Secretary of Education is responding to those pleas. On Friday, the administration posted a proposal to roll back the rule, which would let states already administering alternate tests use them for the last time this school year. The administration can act on its own accord and is gathering feedback from the public until Oct. 7 before making a final decision.

“We have to expect the very best from our students and tell the truth about student performance, to prepare them for college and career,” Duncan said in a statement. “That means no longer allowing the achievement of students with disabilities to be measured by these alternate assessments aligned to modified achievement standards. This prevents these students from reaching their full potential, and prevents our country from benefitting [sic] from that potential.”

Shortly after Duncan released the proposal, he garnered praise from Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who chairs the Senate education committee, and groups representing student disabilities.

“The 2 percent rule was bad in 2007 because it was basically a punt that allowed the academic progress of a million kids with disabilities to not matter,” said Katy Neas, who leads government relations for Easter Seals. “It was bad from the beginning. It needs to end.”

Others were less sure. “WTF?” tweeted columnist Sarah Littman in response to the news. “HAS @ARNEDUNCAN EVER TALKED TO SPED [special education] KIDS? IS HE [EFFING] SERIOUS?!!!”

The government is aware of these concerns, said Michael Yudin, acting assistant secretary for special education and rehabilitative services, in an interview. “This is not going to be easy … I do talk to parents of kids with disabilities every day — my staff does, my team does,” he said in response to the tweet. “Whether a kid is two or three grade levels down, whether the kid has an [individualized education plan] or not, you still have the kind of challenges: How would you provide the right types of support and instruction to make sure that kid accesses grade-level content? This is definitely going to be hard but we also firmly believe this is doable.”

He added that states would still be able to count 1 percent of kids, those with the most severe disabilities, as proficient on alternate assessments even under the new regulations (the 1 percent rule is a different regulation that the administration isn’t proposing to tweak).

The National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers union, plans to submit public comments in opposition to the proposal, according to the group’s policy analyst John Riley. “We’ve always opposed these arbitrary percentage caps when it comes to assessing students with disabilities,” Riley said. “Who makes up this 1 percent, this 2 percent number?” Schools should make these determinations on their own, he said.

For the NEA, the question comes down to aspiration versus reality. “We’re talking about students with disabilities who have documented life-impacting issues, that if they could do everything else the other students were doing, they’d be doing that,” Riley said. “We have to take an individualized look at how we’re assessing them … Some students don’t fall on the normal bell curve.”

The administration wants to reverse the rule now because tests are evolving, Yudin said. “When this policy was originally developed in 2007, we were in a different world,” he said. “General assessments were difficult for struggling students with disabilities to access.” New standardized tests aligned to the Common Core State Standards, he said, “were required to be designed in a way that is accessible to all” and are more promising.

“It’s time,” Yudin said. “We’re all moving to college- and career-ready standards.”

Since 2007, only 16 states have used alternative standards and assessments, Yudin said. Next year, only 14 states have plans to use such exams.

Still, said NCLD’s Lindsay Jones, “We agree that they need to be eradicated.” Jones said she’s seen many examples of districts that placed many more students into alternate exams “than we would think need to be there” in order to mask low performance on standardized tests.

“That had a real negative effect on these students,” she said.

The direction the Secretary of Education wants to take is going to have great consequences. Children that have disabilities that have been pushed through grades because of the old standardized testing could be stalled in the same grade now because of the new rule. However, the administration has a good point in that we need to be honest with our children so that they can have a realistic world view. That being said, schools being so college/career centric may not be the best policy for every child. It will be interesting to see how this rule is implemented and if many schools refuse to follow it.

Photo courtesy of A Game of Roles.