Thursday, November 16, 2017

FL: What?! A teacher shortage??!!

Shocking news in today's Sun-Sentinel:

Almost three months into the school year, thousands of public school students in South Florida still don't have a permanent teacher —a problem expected to get worse as more educators flee the classroom and the number of those seeking teaching degrees plummets.

Okay, not shocking. Utterly predictable, given Florida's unending efforts to create the worst atmosphere for public education in the country. Here are some of the things they've done, in no particular order:

* They have tried to make it possible for parents to stamp out the teaching of science.
* They have given charters the unchecked ability to steal local tax dollars.
* They have made an absolute disastrous amateur-hour hash out of their Big Standardized Test.
* They have made successful students repeat third grade for failing to love the BST
* They have declared-- in court-- that teacher-prepared report cards are meaningless
* They have demonstrated how badly teacher merit pay can fail
* They made a dying child take the Big Standardized Test 
* They turned recess into a political football.
* They based a strategic plan based on bad retail management.
* They abolished tenure, and fired teachers for advocating for students.
* They've allowed racist underfunding of schools to flourish.
* They have provided ample proof that an A-F school rating system doesn't work.
* They host experiments in computerized avatar classrooms.
* They have charter legislation hustled through the capital by lawmakers who profit from it
* They allow more charter misbehavior than you can shake a stick at
* They have created a charter money grab law so onerous and obnoxious they have actually moved public schools to sue the state government.

All of this over and above the continued drip, drip, drip of starving public schools of resources and finding new ways to treat public school teachers with disrespect. And the pay stinks.

There is no reason to be surprised that Florida teachers are "fleeing." And the article notes just how much fleeing is going on. Broward County lost 1,000 teachers last year-- and that's not counting retirees.

The Sun-Sentinel article is brutal, noting that the drain of teachers leads to economic problems for communities, as well as becoming a self-perpetuating problem-- as the teacher pool is drained in schools, schools become less effective, which means they turn out fewer and fewer grads well-prepared for or interested in teaching. The article piles on the anecdotal evidence. A teacher who left, tired of constant testing and lack of autonomy. A teacher who left because you can't afford to be a single mom on a Florida teacher salary. A teacher who handles over thirty kids in an honors class because the state class size law only applies to "core" classes.

And of course, Florida is "solving" the problem by opening up alternative paths, because the way to get better teachers and fill teaching jobs is by making it possible to slap any warm body into a classroom. My favorite bar-lowering idea-- Florida Atlantic University will give Palm Beach Schools a list of students who flunked out of medical and science programs so that those students can be recruited to teach. And meanwhile the remaining dedicated, qualified teachers of Florida wonder how much longer they can hold on.

Of course, somehow, these champions of free market, these lovers of the invisible hand, cannot figure out that if people won't sell you a good or service under the terms you set, free market competition demands that you offer better terms and conditions. It's as simple as that. If you can't buy a Porsche for $1.98, that doesn't mean there's an automobile shortage. Even convenience stores understand that if you can't get enough quality people to work for you, you have to offer better terms of employment. Florida's leaders simply insist on pretending not to understand this, even as they try to starve pubic education so that the unregulated world of Florida charter schools will look more appealing. This is like setting fire to an apartment building so that the tenants will "choose" to move into a shifty trailer park operation, while in the meantime you "try" to hire firefighters by offering $1.00 an hour wages and a punch-in-the-face benefits.

This-- all of this-- I have to remind you, is what USED Secretary Betsy DeVos thinks is the shining light that our nation should be following. This disastrous train wreck, this state that has worked hard to destroy its public education system-- this is what DeVos thinks the nation should be emulating. Run the public system into the ground, drive the teachers away, and sell the pieces to privatizers.


  1. A while back, I found a really great education story out of Florida --- the state that Trump, Secretary Devos, Michelle Rhee, Jeb Bush, and countless others claim has the nation's most successfully *"reformed"* educational system.

    (As I recall, Meg Whitman, current California Governor Brown's right-wing Republican opponent in 2010, was asked about her plans for education, should she win. Back during the 2010 campaign, she said:,

    "We're going to do everything that they're doing now in Florida. That state's system will be our role model."*

    Uh huh. I bet you would have.)

    Here's that new Florida story:

    Apparently, having a lengthy criminal record that includes multiple convictions / prison sentences for arson(!!!), grand theft, and check fraud couldn't stop Lori Bergeron from ascending to the presidency of a prominent charter school board in Bradenton, Florida.

    Alas, Bergeron's life on the straight-and-narrow in Florida's school choice Utopia didn't last long, as she was recently caught --- and convicted of --- robbing and embezzling the charter school blind. She did so through her writing of checks to herself out of the school's bank account.

    She plead guilty after the police executed a court-approved taping of her phone conversations, where she gloated and blabbed away about all that she had gotten away with (or rather, THOUGHT that she had).

    Back to the joint for YOU, Sweetheart!

    Gee, with an extensive rap sheet such as hers, who would have EVER predicted that --- after being placed in the presidency of a charter school board, with full authority to write checks from the school's bank account as she pleased --- she would EVER do such a larcenous thing? You know... stealing from children's education and all that.

    People down there are shocked ... JUST SHOCKED at what has happened.

    Maybe it's time for Florida's leaders to enact legislation to better regulate its charters, one that includes some minimum standards or mandatory qualifications for Florida's charter school operators and board members.

    Hmmm... let's see. How would that look?

    Let's give it a whack, now, shall we?
    *Department of Public Instruction*

    *Mandatory Criteria For All Prospective Charter School
    Executives / Board Members*:

    Regulation No. 1) *Must NEVER have served time for Arson.*

    Regulation No. 2) ...

  2. I am so glad I am a retired Math teacher.


    I've been "screaming" about the teacher EXODUS! Not a shortage!

  4. NO, no, our legislative leaders will tell you that we don't have a teacher shortage; we have a teaching position surplus and they are had at work to find every way they can to eliminate it. Because, as Dick Corcoran will tell you (our modern-day Oliver Cromwell), public schools are as useless as home rule. Yep, the next greatest and latest idea is to get rid of elected mayors and city councils because, well shucks, those large cities are too gosh-darned liberal. Why, they have ideas of their own that Dick and his pals do not like. Gotta stop that. They're thinking of having appointed mayors and councils instead.

  5. BTW, charter schools in Florida are having trouble attracting teachers. ALS & CSA are still trying to fill positions for THIS school year. So the "great charters" aren't doing very well either in having quality instruction available either.

  6. I am a 20 year science teacher in Michigan. There is no doubt, teachers are leaving due to stress and poor treatment by students, parents and admin. If we loved the job we would not mind the lower pay compared to industry.