Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Stop Dancing Around the Issue: We Need to Hire More Teachers, and Cut Classroom Hours

Linda Darling-Hammond:

Along with these challenges, U.S. teachers must cope with larger class sizes (27 versus the TALIS average of 24). They also spend many more hours than teachers in any other country directly instructing children each week (27 versus the TALIS average of 19). And they work more hours in total each week than their global counterparts (45 versus the TALIS average of 38), with much less time in their schedules for planning, collaboration, and professional development. This schedule — a leftover of factory-model school designs of the early 1900s — makes it harder for our teachers to find time to work with their colleagues on creating great curriculum and learning new methods, to mark papers, to work individually with students, and to reach out to parents.

LDH follows this up with some sound policy prescriptions, but when it comes to the question of workload and staffing, flinches:

The TALIS data show that U.S. schools generally hire many fewer teachers and many other non-teaching personnel than schools in other countries. We need to rethink how we invest in and organize schools, so that time for extended professional learning and collaboration become the norm rather than the exception.

If we can't yet even bring ourselves to say out loud that we need to hire a lot more teachers, it ain't gonna happen. Look how quickly a specific demand for a $15 minimum wage moved the conversation.

Given that we have an employment crisis in this country, and generally depressed demand stretching out into the indefinite future, hiring more teachers is sound economic policy as well.

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