Wednesday, May 1, 2013

DSEA proves once again that it does not speak for Delaware teachers

This post, from the DSEA Facebook page, is pretty good evidence that at the state level the teachers' union is far removed from the concerns of teachers in the classroom:
Today DSEA's Dir. of Legislation and Political Organizing Kristin Dwyer is testifying in support of what is being called the "Teacher Prep" bill, SB 51. 
This bill "... strengthens teacher preparation by raising the standards for entry into the teaching profession. More specifically, the bill requires all Delaware teacher preparation programs to set high admission and completion requirements, to provide high-quality student teaching experiences and ongoing evaluation of program participants, and to prepare prospective elementary school teachers in age-appropriate literacy and mathematics instruction. Further, the bill requires preparation programs to track and report data on the effectiveness of their programs. Finally, the bill requires new educators to pass both an approved content-readiness exam and performance assessment before receiving an initial license, and requires special education teachers to demonstrate content knowledge if they plan to teach in a secondary subject."   
It also gives DSEA a seat at the table to help develop the criteria for the exam and the assessment.
Let's take this one point by point:

 the bill requires all Delaware teacher preparation programs to set high admission and completion requirements

UD, DSU, and WU--the providers of 95% of the new teachers from DE institutions of higher learning already have high standards for entry and completion.  At UD and DSU at least 40% of the applicants do not get into the teacher preparation program (WU is open enrollment), and at all three schools a large percentage of education majors who are not cutting it are diverted into other majors.

to provide high-quality student teaching experiences and ongoing evaluation of program participants

Contrary to practices many years ago, students at all three institutions begin early field experiences in real classrooms during their Sophomore year.  By the time they qualify for student teaching, most have logged hundreds of hours of observation, and dozens of hours of actual teaching.  Student teachers are thus far better prepared to take over classrooms quickly, and therefore often log 100+ more hours of actual teaching experience than their predecessors would have a decade ago.

Ongoing evaluation?  All of these programs are evaluated on an ongoing basis by NCATE, which is the national standard for teacher education programs, and requires the schools to log not just the hours but the actual coursework of the students, so that it can be matched against what the university SAYS it is teaching.  And as Wesley College learned a couple of years ago, NCATE will pull your accreditation if you stop measuring up.  No program put together by the State is likely to equal NCATE in thoroughness or familiarity with best practice, which is why DE DOE turned over accreditation to them about 15 years ago.

NCATE accreditation is why all of those changes I spoke about above were made.

to prepare prospective elementary school teachers in age-appropriate literacy and mathematics instruction

In fact to improve age-appropriate literacy is why these universities have developed long-term working relationships with school districts throughout Delaware.  For example, DSU has a long-term agreement with Red Clay that places students in the same building (and often under the same master teacher) for most of their early field experiences and student teaching, so that the master teacher has direct input on the student's progress (or lack of it).

the bill requires preparation programs to track and report data on the effectiveness of their programs.

As noted above, the institutions ALREADY do this, via NCATE.  And it is ironic, because DE DOE knows this very well.

the bill requires new educators to pass both an approved content-readiness exam and performance assessment before receiving an initial license, and requires special education teachers to demonstrate content knowledge if they plan to teach in a secondary subject."

Uh, guys, education majors already have to pass content-approved exams (called Praxis II) before they go into a performance assessment (called "student teaching" wherein 50% of their grade is awarded by the master teacher not the university professor, meaning that current master teachers ALREADY possess a veto over the certification of new teachers).

Special Education teachers ALREADY need to pass Praxis II content tests.

This bill does nothing that is not already happening, except


It also gives DSEA a seat at the table to help develop the criteria for the exam and the assessment.
Now we see the crux of the issue.  Veteran Delaware teachers have been involved in teacher preparation programs in Delaware from the get-go, as consultants, as master teachers, and often as adjunct professors.  In fact, there is no shortage of input by Delaware teachers into these programs.  The universities would be foolish in the extreme not to seek such input because it would cripple their programs and reduce their ability to get their graduates hired.

But the key here is that DSEA--not teachers but the statewide union leadership--wants "a seat at the table" to develop new local tests to either add onto or replace nationally normed teacher preparation exams.

We know how well creating local high-stakes tests worked out in student assessment, don't we?  (Can you say DSTP, DCAS, SBA?)

And we all know how well Race to the Top and Vision 2015 have worked out for Delaware teachers with the state DSEA leadership having "a seat at the table."

We'll be a good decade recovering from that quality input.

Plus, you know that something is wrong when the leader of one of the state's largest locals (with over 1,700 members) breaks with the state leadership and does not endorse passage of this bill.





13 comments:

transparentchristina said...

Steve,

the more I watch them in action, the more I just see their true colors come out: capitulation and retreat.

They STILL don't get the difference between being at the table and on it.

Their support of this bill is TRAGICALLY misguided.

No wonder there is a grassroots effort afoot within the ranks. Based on idiocy like this post, they'll never see it coming.

transparentchristina said...

by "this post" I mean the DSEA facebook post of course. Just to be clear

transparentchristina said...

actually it does require DSU at al to gain the "assent" of the DOE to even offer your program.

So,,,good luck with that.

Steve Newton said...

It has always required DSU or UD or WU or anybody to have the State's assent.

Here's how it works. If you go through a state certified program (which currently means an NCATE certified program except for the handful of odd specialities that NCATE does not certify) and you get your degree (which includes passing Praxis I and II) you automatically qualify for certification in DE and all states that reciprocate.

DE cannot stop DSU from awarding a degree in Education (any flavor) as long as DSU is an accredited university. BUT if DSU does not enjoy State certification then your teacher certification upon graduation is not guaranteed. You have to go through an evaluation of your transcript at DOE via a process called "course counting." Depending on what current person does that, your degree program might stand up and get you certified, or you get a deficiency letter telling you that you need so many hours of this or that to be certified.

This bill actually doesn't change that relationship--it just introduces Markell machine-type politics into the internal workings of the program.

transparentchristina said...

does current language act as directly as this language?

I am unfamiliar with the current means of assent, this bill makes it appear, literally, arbitrary and possibly capricious:

http://legiscan.com/DE/text/SB51

a) Consistent with §122 of this title, no individual, public or private educational association, corporation, or institution, including any institution of post-secondary education, shall offer an educator preparation program for the training of educators to be licensed in this State without first having procured the assent of the Department for the offering of such programs

transparentchristina said...

in fact, as written, a point can be made that ALL OUT OF STATE programs are subject to DEDOE assent as well.

kavips said...

Thanks for taking this on. I saw on Delaware Liberal that EL Som posted this and said... I don't see what's not to like. Sounds good to me...

I was shocked he was so far removed from the argument. I certainly would of thought that he, of all people, would be aware of what was going on. And he doesn't even like Markell....

So thanks for posting.

kavips said...

Trans... the historian in me remembers a similar occurrence to that being followed by the DSEA, and to an extent, all union leadership, most of whom are in their seventies....

His name was Chamberlain. He was only seeking peace.

KilroysDelaware said...

Senate vote: () Passed 5/2/2013 2:15:32 PM------->

pandora said...

Kavips said: "I was shocked he was so far removed from the argument. I certainly would of thought that he, of all people, would be aware of what was going on."

Hey, I just discovered he'd never heard of Sublime! ;-)

kavips said...

Ok, so if we throw out NCATE and go with one of the Wall Street educational investment companies to do the same thing, how much does that cost us, and to which corporation, will we sell the contract?

Best guess, for $100 million?

I've seen it in corporations where a new boss comes in, and trumps up an excuse to fire a vendor who was actually pretty good, and then hire his friend to come in for the same service. Usually its a step down in service. The vendor tried really hard to keep us happy, but the friend feels he will get paid irregardless. It actually is about the friendship, more than the business. In this case, children are the ones who suffer, not employees or customers.

Dana Garrett said...

I cannot believe that this pig passed unanimously in the state senate. Do the legislators even read these bills?

Hube said...

Markell padding his resume for a future federal DOE appointment??