Publication Date: 2005-01-14
When it comes to education policy, can you tell a neo-liberal from a neo-con?
When you are considering policy positions on education, how do you tell a neo-con from a neo-liberal? Take a look at The Progressive Priorities Series: Ensuring a High-Quality Education for Every Child by Building a Stronger Teaching Force issued by the Center for American Progress. They call themselves progressives, but you will have a hard time figuring out where it differs from rhetoric spewing forth from Education Trust and the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation.
Here?s a little background. In April, 2004, The Center for American Progress and the Institute for America's Future created a national task force "to ensure excellence in public education." It was co-chaired by Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, Philip Murphy, senior director of The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. and journalist, historian and former Washington, D.C. School Board member Roger Wilkins. I guess teachers were too busy teaching to serve on this task force. In any case, this task force immediately started bloviating that the [U. S. ]Chamber of Commerce has predicted that approximately 5 million jobs will be left unfilled at the end of this decade because our schools do not provide students the preparation they need to work in these positions.
I, for one, would like a list of those jobs. Such a claim reeks of the old Senator McCarthy names-of-communists-working-for-the-State Department-in-my-briefcase ploy. McCarthy never opened that briefcase. And the job statistics at the U. S. Department of Labor tells a different story about jobs.
The Progressive Priorities Series: Ensuring a High-Quality Education for Every Child by Building a Stronger Teaching Force is available at
Below are a few excerpts from the 24-page report. As you read the excerpts consider the way it is stuffed with bloated and deceptive rhetoric, words that hide more than than they reveal. You may be surprised to see that these same words are used by think tanks labeled conservative. I?ve listed a few terms to consider. You will find more.
most desirable candidates
skills. . .systematically developed
staged career pathways
meaningful career ladder
competitive compensation structures
reward. . .positive results
enriched career advancement structures
clinical practice profession
national standards for teacher quality with respect to content and pedagogy
The corporate push for data worship in the schools began in the late 1980ies and within the last few years Progressives are repeating the mantra. Here they announce that such data collection may demonstrate that a particular teacher is exceptionally good at teaching, say, fractions. The data will allow scholls to make her a fraction coach, and then all kids will learn fractions. The policy writers stop short of creating competition for a Fraction Teacher of the Decade. And so far they haven't mentioned apostrophes.
I?m not disparaging the importance of fractions, but the progressives' total worship of data derived from standardized test results is chilling. These were supposed to be the good guys. Why did they throw away their white hats and climb on the corporate bandwagon?
And it gets worse. The Progressives want career ladders (based on student test scores) because, they say, ?experienced teachers need incentives to remain? and ?compensation systems that recognize the value of teachers coupled with career advancement systems that more effectively reward good performance?based on results?and respond to poor performance will make larger investments in teacher salaries more politically viable and maximize the returns on such investments.? Standardized test scores to measure the value of teachers.
Think about what is being valued here. Such a scheme will destroy the profession, turning it into one more competitive scrambling for another dollar. The report excerpted below has to make you wonder that if we lament the way standardized tests rule classrooms today, what will happen if the progressives get power?
Excerpts from The Progressive Priorities Series: Ensuring a High-Quality Education for Every Child by Building a Stronger Teaching Force
Progressives have long viewed educational improvement as an important mechanism for promoting fundamental progressive social aims: economic expansion, individual opportunity, social equity, and a strong democracy. But today?s progressives can no longer afford to view strengthening education simply as a tool. They must embrace it as a necessity. . . .
American Progress supports a federal education agenda that builds the capacity of public education to teach all students to higher levels and graduate more of them ready for success in postsecondary education. Investing in our teacher workforce will be a critical component in building that capacity.. . .
The highest caliber and most desirable candidates should be vigorously recruited and effectively trained. Once they are on the job, teachers? skills should be more systematically developed through staged career pathways, with more opportunities to be trained in clinical settings, greater support and better evaluation during a residency period, greater choices to advance along a meaningful career ladder as they become more expert over time, and with better pay through competitive compensation structures for all teachers that recognize and reward different roles, responsibilities, knowledge, skills, and, most importantly, positive results. . . .
Fortunately, the time is ripe for federal education policy to focus intensively on
building the teaching profession. Strong, private efforts have coalesced around this issue,
resulting in bipartisan agreement around key principles. Federal policy already supplies a
foothold for efforts to build teacher quality. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2002 requires that states work to ensure that all teachers are highly qualified by 2005-2006. . . .
[A] new consensus about the importance of teachers has emerged among researchers and policymakers, based on results of groundbreaking research released over the past decade. Using finer-grained information based on annual growth
in individual students? test scores, such research has demonstrated that school factors play a decisive role in how much students learn. The factor that matters most is teacher quality. . . .
Federal education policy must make a focused commitment to building a highly qualified, adequately supported, and more professionalized teacher workforce for America?s schools. The long-range goal should be to maximize the return on the nation?s investment in teachers by systematically and consistently promoting practices that treat teaching as a true ?clinical practice profession? much like medicine. . . .
We consistently fail to attract and retain the brightest candidates at every point in the professional pipeline to teaching. . . .
Finally, the administration has failed to capitalize on the important power of the
bully pulpit to highlight the importance of teacher quality and rally support for making
the difficult changes necessary to improve it. Indeed, despite the prominence of teacher
quality provisions and programs in the No Child Left Behind Act, the administration has
been more zealous in publicizing and pushing for accountability, school choice, privatization, and school prayer than it has teacher quality. . . .
PROGRESSIVE POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS AND ACTION PLAN
Using Data for Better Decisionmaking
We must work to increase the amount, meaningfulness, and quality of information
about America?s teacher workforce, and encourage the use of such data for greater accountability and smarter decisionmaking. The federal government should demand better information about America?s teachers, and provide enough support to enable
school systems to provide it. Improved data with respect to teacher credentials and performance can be used to improve instruction and help rectify inequities in student opportunities for learning.
To offer some examples: in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the district uses value-added data to identify highly effective teachers and then provides them with incentives to teach in the highest need schools. This type of data analysis can also be used to identify a teacher?s weaknesses so professional development can be provided in those
areas. Conversely, a teacher?s strengths can be identified (e.g., data may demonstrate that a particular teacher is exceptionally good at teaching fractions) and that teacher can be used as a resource for teachers needing coaching in those areas. . . .
The president should
? Ensure that states are not abusing flexibility under the law in how they define teacher quality. Under a provision called ?high, objective, uniform state standard of evaluation (HOUSSE),? the No Child Left Behind Act gives states considerable flexibility in how they ensure that existing teachers are ?highly qualified,? and there is evidence that some states are taking inappropriate
advantage of this leeway in their annual reporting of teacher qualifications. The president should direct the secretary of education to conduct a study of how states take advantage of the so-called HOUSSE flexibility under section 9101(23)(C)(ii) to determine how states define and are reporting information on teacher quality
and in particular to determine whether states are watering down requirements for teachers to demonstrate subject-matter proficiency. . . .
The federal government should support the development of enriched career advancement structures that treat teaching as a clinical practice profession like medicine. . . .
The Congress should create a $1 billion program to invest in differentiated career
pathways in at least five states and twenty school districts that will serve as large-scale
demonstrations that such career structures can enhance the status of the profession,23
improve teacher performance and retention, and raise student achievement. . . .
The Congress should propose amending the Higher Education Act to strengthen accountability for teacher preparation programs?both traditional and alternative route?by requiring such accountability systems to incorporate: (1) quantitative outcomes-based data, including the passing rates of program completers on state certification exams, such as are currently required to be reported under section 207; (2) progress on teacher production goals, including the overall number of program completers, completers in
shortage areas within the state or region, completers who take jobs in hard-to-staff schools, and the number of minority and/or second-language completers; and (3) information on the actual effectiveness of graduates in improving the achievement of students after they begin teaching.30 The Higher Education Act should also require teacher preparation programs to demonstrate that they incorporate courses and measures for assessing competence in key areas, including using assessments and student
achievement data and technology to inform and enhance instruction, effective classroom
management, and instructional techniques focused on addressing special needs and diverse groups of students. . . .
The president should ensure that funds are going to support efforts to take on the
politically more challenging task of raising standards for entry to the profession. For example, funds under section 202 of the Higher Education Act should be directed toward states seeking to raise teaching licensing standards and improving licensing tests.32 In addition, the president should seek to reserve $10 million in
funding under Title II of the Higher Education Act for an independent body? such as the National Academy of Sciences?to develop national standards for teacher quality with respect to content and pedagogy. . . .
The Congress also should create a $100 million fund to support development of
instructional tools, including a uniform curriculum and standardized assessments that teachers can use to inform their instruction. States or consortia of districts and regional education agencies would be eligible. Research shows that urban districts making the greatest gains in student achievement provide a uniform
curriculum or learning benchmarks aligned with state standards and tests, aligned model lessons, aligned benchmark assessments teachers or schools may administer at regular intervals, and prompt data on student performance under those diagnostic assessments45. . . .
Finally, the president should direct the secretary of education to disseminate
information about instructional practices that use diagnostic assessments and data to improve instruction and avoid year-end cramming and teaching to the test.
Furthermore, the Department of Education should work with the Institute for Educational Studies to develop an agenda for further research in the area.
The report is 24 pages long. Although only excerpts are listed here, the complete endnotes are below. You can learn a lot by just reading the endnotes.
1 For example, Matthew Miller, a nationally syndicated columnist and senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, has proposed an ambitious $30 billion federal program to raise teacher salaries by 50 percent and create additional merit raises for successful inner city teachers who choose to remain in urban schools. See Matthew Miller, The Two Percent Solution: Fixing America's Problems in Ways Liberals and
Conservatives Can Love, Public Affairs, 2003, pp. 114-137. See also The Teaching Commission, Teachingat Risk: A Call to Action, 2004, p. 28 (proposing $30 billion investment in teacher salaries).
2 William L. Sanders & June T. Rivers, ?Cumulative and Residual Effects of Teachers on Future Student
Academic Achievement,? University of Tennessee Value-Added Research and Assessment Center, 1996, p.3.
3 Eric A. Hanushek & Steven G. Rivkin, ?How to Improve the Supply of High-Quality Teachers,?
Brookings Papers on Education Policy: 2004, Brookings Institution Press, 2004. Estimates based on research using data from Texas described in ?Teachers, Schools, and Academic Achievement,? Working Paper No. 6691, National Bureau of Economic Research, revised July 2002, p. 21.
4 National Center for Education Statistics, Revenues and Expenditures for Public Elementary and Secondary Education: School Year 2000-2001, May, 2003 (estimating salaries and benefits for
instructional staff to be $194 billion).
5 Education Week, Quality Counts 2000, Editorial Projects in Education, Jan. 13, 2000, available at
http://counts.edweek.org/sreports/qc00/templates/chart.cfm?slug=intro-c3.htm (last viewed Nov. 30, 2004).
6 Richard M. Ingersoll, Is There Really a Teacher Shortage, Center for the Study of Teaching and Policy, University of Washington, September 2003, p. 15; Richard M. Ingersoll, Why Do High Poverty Schools Have Difficulty Staffing Their Classrooms with High Quality Teachers, Center for American Progress, November, 2004, available at http://www.americanprogress.org/atf/cf/%7BE9245FE4-9A2B-43C7-A521-
5D6FF2E06E03%7D/Ingersoll-FINAL.pdf (last viewed Nov. 30, 2004).
7 Education Week, Quality Counts 2003, Editorial Projects in Education, Jan. 9, 2003, available at
http://counts.edweek.org/sreports/qc03/templates/article.cfm?slug=17divide.h22 (last viewed Nov. 30, 2004).
8 Craig D. Jerald & Richard M. Ingersoll, All Talk No Action: Putting an End to Out-of-Field Teaching, The Education Trust, August 2002, p. 7.
9 National Center for Education Statistics, Teacher Preparation and Professional Development: 2000, June 2001, p. v.
10 Kevin Cary, The Real Value of Teachers, The Education Trust, Winter 2004, p. 36-37.
11 National Center for Education Statistics, Monitoring School Quality: An Indicators Report, December 2000, pp. 13-14.
12 Eric A. Hanushek & Steven G. Rivkin, ?How to Improve the Supply of High-Quality Teachers,?
Brookings Papers on Education Policy: 2004, Brookings Institution Press, 2004, p. 16.
13 In March, the National Conference of State Legislatures reported that states faced a $29 billion tab to pay for federal mandates, of which more than half is education related. See National Conference of State Legislatures, Mandate Monitor, Volume 1, Issue 1, Mar. 31, 2004.
14 The two major programs focused on teacher quality are the Teacher Quality State Grants under the No Child Left Behind Act and the Teacher Quality Enhancement Grants under the Higher Education Act. The president also has proposed elimination of the Higher Education Act program directed at ensuring that teacher preparation programs incorporate technology into their programs, so that teacher graduates are prepared to use technology to enhance their instruction.
15 See The Education Trust, In Need of Improvement: Ten Ways the U.S. Department of Education Has Failed to Live Up to Its Teacher Quality Commitments,? August 2003; see also Telling the Whole Truth (or Not) About Teacher Quality, December 2003; Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, Leaving Teachers Behind: How a Key Requirement of the No Child Left Behind Act (Putting a Highly Qualified Teacher in Every Class) Has Been Abandoned, June 2003.
16 Kevin Cary, The Real Value of Teachers, The Education Trust, Winter 2004 20
17 Council on Graduate Medical Education, 2002 Summary Report, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, June 2002.
18 For example, section 207 of the Higher Education Act requires states and institutions of higher education to publish information about teacher preparation, including data on the percentage of education school graduates passing state licensure and certification tests; section 1111 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act requires states to issue report cards containing information on the professional qualifications
of teachers in the state as well as inequities in teacher distribution; and section 1119 requires states and districts to report on annual progress in meeting the goals the state has set for ensuring all teachers are highly qualified by 2005-2006. Recognizing the special importance of such data to parents, section 1111 requires districts to maintain data on the training and licensure of their students? classroom teachers, inform parents of their right to request such information, and actively inform parents at the beginning of the year if their child has been assigned an under-qualified teacher.
19 See e.g.,The Education Trust, Interpret With Caution: The First State Title II Reports on the Quality of Teacher Preparation, June 2002; Telling the Whole Truth (or Not) About Highly Qualified Teachers, December 2003.
20 Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, Leaving Teachers Behind: How a Key
Requirement of the No Child Left Behind Act (Putting a Highly Qualified Teacher in Every Class) Has Been Abandoned, June 2003; The Education Trust, In Need of Improvement: Ten Ways the U.S. Department of Education Has Failed to Live Up to Its Teacher Quality Commitments, August 2003.
21 The Education Trust, Telling the Whole Truth (or Not) About Highly Qualified Teachers, December
2003, pp. 7-8.
22 A small but growing number of schools and districts are already testing such models, and their experiences can provide a basis for crafting federal policy in this area. For example, more than 70 schools in eight states are in various stages of implementing the well-regarded Teacher Advancement Program (TAP) developed by the Milken Family Foundation. In September 2004, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty announced that federal dollars would be used to support TAP in several Minneapolis schools and on a districtwide basis in Waseca. See St. Paul Pioneer Press, ?Teachers Are Trying Out Performance Pay System,? Sept. 14, 2004.
23 According to polling conducted by Public Agenda for the Teaching Commission, ?almost seven out of 10 young college graduates think teachers do not have good opportunities for advancement and leadership.? See The Teaching Commission, Teaching at Risk: A Call to Action, 2004, p. 28.
24 The career ladder could have more stages. For example, in a recent article, Arthur Wise described the creation of teaching teams with a lead teacher, a senior teacher to assist with team management, novice teachers, underprepared teachers (student teachers or transitioning professionals), and part-time teaching interns. Arthur Wise, Teaching Teams: A 21st Century Paradigm for Organizing America?s Schools,
Education Week, Sept. 29, 2004, pp. 32, 44.
25 While some view compensation systems with links to student performance with some degree of
skepticism, there is evidence that sophisticated proposals such as the one advanced here are beginning to gain favor within union ranks. For example, in March 2004, Sandra Feldman, then President of the American Federation of Teachers, wrote: ?Along with significantly raising pay across the board, on top of the current schedules, we would have to find a way to reward different roles, responsibilities, knowledge, skills and, yes, results. . . . [R]ewarding teachers who significantly raise achievement, either individually or as a team, can work.? See Sandra Feldman, ?Rethinking Teacher Compensation,? American Teacher, March 2004, available at http://www.aft.org/pubs-reports/american_teacher/mar04/AT_wws.html (last viewed Nov. 30, 2004).
26 See Carnegie Corporation, New Teachers for a New Era, July 2001, for a more comprehensive discussion of the ideal design principles for such a program. For example, the report suggests that proven, experienced teachers from partner schools should receive some form of faculty appointment in the institution of higher education and be given titles such as clinical faculty, professor of practice, or adjunct professor.
27 John Merrow, ?The Teacher Shortage: Wrong Diagnosis, Phony Cures,? Education Week, October 6, 1999, p. 64 and 48. Merrow quotes Stanford University professor Linda Darling-Hammond as saying, ?If you are preparing to be a teacher, you can expect about half of the tuition money you put into the till to come back to support your preparation.? 21
28 Texas A&M University System, ?Press Release: A&M System Universities Continue Their Push to
Increase State?s Teacher Education Pipeline and Focus on Quality of Teachers Graduated,? December 18, 2002. Over a two-year period, the system increased total production of teacher candidates by 20 percent, African American candidates by 116 percent, and candidates in shortage areas such as math, science, special education, and bilingual education by significant percentages as well, all while ensuring that the pass rate on the state?s certification exam did not decline. The University of Texas also has obtained significant results from a university-wide initiative to increase the number of math and science teachers. See The Teaching Commission, Teaching at Risk: A Call to Action, 2004, p. 37.
29 U.S. Department of Education, Meeting the Highly Qualified Teachers Challenge: The Secretary?s Third Annual Report on Teacher Quality, July 2004, p. 28.
30 While very few states currently come close to including the full range of such information in teacher preparation accountability systems, these recommendations are not without precedent. For example, several years ago Louisiana began including teacher quality indicators of each kind described above, and the state recently began pilot-testing a newly developed Value-Added Teacher Preparation Program Assessment Model. See http://asa.regents.state.la.us/TE/value_added_model for a detailed description of that effort.
31 The GAO recently released a report raising concerns about the difficulty in assessing the effectiveness of Title II grants due to the wide range of activities allowed under the current program. See U.S. General Accounting Office, Activities Underway to Improve Teacher Training, but Information Collected To Assess Accountability Has Limitations, October 2002.
32 The U.S. Department of Education?s annual reports on teacher quality have found that most states set minimum passing scores for teacher licensure exams ?so low as to screen out only the lowest-performing individuals.? See U.S. Department of Education, Meeting the Highly Qualified Teachers Challenge: The Secretary?s Third Annual Report on Teacher Quality, July 2004, p. 22. See also Ruth Mitchell and Patte Barth, Not Good Enough: A Content Analysis of Teacher Licensing Exams, The Education Trust, Spring
33 Council on Graduate Medical Education, Tenth Report: Physician Distribution and Health Care
Challenges in Rural and Inner-City Areas, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, February 1998, p. 1.
34 According to Linda Darling-Hammond and Gary Sykes, $800 million would provide incentives of up to $20,000 each for the estimated 40,000 new teachers and meet the nation?s needs in shortage areas. Linda Darling-Hammond & Gary Sykes, Meeting the ?Highly Qualified Teacher? Challenge, Education Policy Analysis Archives, p. 14, available at http://epaa.asu.edu/epaa/v11n33/ (last viewed Nov. 30, 2004).
35 National Center for Education Statistics, Highlights from TIMSS: The Third International Mathematics and Science Study, March 1999.
36 Kevin Cary, The Real Value of Teachers, The Education Trust, Winter 2004.
37 Education Week, Quality Counts 2003, Editorial Projects in Education, Jan. 9, 2003, available at
http://counts.edweek.org/sreports/qc03/reports/17district-t1b.cfm (last viewed Nov. 30, 2004).
38 See Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, ?Leaving Teachers Behind: How a Key
Requirement of the No Child Left Behind Act (Putting a Highly Qualified Teacher in Every Class) Has Been Abandoned,? June 2003; see also The Education Trust, In Need of Improvement: Ten Ways the U.S. Department of Education Has Failed to Live Up to Its Teacher Quality Commitments, August 2003, pp. 5-6.
39 For research identifying these conditions, see Richard M. Ingersoll, Why Do High Poverty Schools Have Difficulty Staffing Their Classrooms with High Quality Teachers, Center for American Progress, November, 2004, available at http://www.americanprogress.org/atf/cf/%7BE9245FE4-9A2B-43C7-A521-
5D6FF2E06E03%7D/Ingersoll-FINAL.pdf (last viewed Nov. 30, 2004).
40 See Jessica Levin & Meredith Quinn, Missed Opportunities: How We Keep High-Quality Teachers Out of Urban Classrooms, The New Teacher Project, 2003; see also Moore Johnson, et al., The Support Gap: New Teachers? Early Experiences in High-Income and Low-Income Schools, Education Policy Analysis Archives, October 2004.
41 Marguerite Roza & Paul T. Hill, ?How Within-District Spending Inequities Help Some Schools to Fail,? Brookings Papers on Education Policy: 2004, Brookings Institution Press, 2004.
42 Section 1120A(c)(2)(B) currently requires that, ?in the determination of expenditures per pupil from State and local funds, or instructional salaries per pupil from State and local funds, staff differentials for years of employment shall not be included in such determinations.?
43 Education Week, Quality Counts 2003, Editorial Projects in Education, Jan. 9, 2003, p. 17. Education Week conducted a special analysis of data from the U.S. Schools and Staffing Survey, a massive federal survey of tens of thousands of teachers, which found that teachers in high-poverty schools were twice as likely as their colleagues in low-poverty schools to report problems with parent involvement, theft, physical
conflicts among students, and teacher absenteeism, among other factors. A new report commissioned by
the Center for American Progress and the Institute for America?s Future demonstrates that teachers in highpoverty schools report discipline problems as one of the top reasons for leaving their schools and the profession. Richard M. Ingersoll, Why Do High Poverty Schools Have Difficulty Staffing Their Classrooms with High Quality Teachers, Center for American Progress, November, 2004, available at
Ingersoll-FINAL.pdf (last viewed Nov. 30, 2004).
44 Susan Moore Johnson & Sarah E. Birkeland, ?The Schools That Teachers Choose,? Educational
Leadership, May 2003.
45 See Jason Snipes, Fred Doolittle, & Corinne Herlihy, Foundations for Success: Case Studies of How Urban School Systems Improve Achievement, Council of the Great City Schools, September 2002; Wendy Togneri & Stephen E. Anderson, Beyond Islands of Excellence: What Districts Can Do to Improve Instruction and Achievement in All Schools, Learning First Alliance, 2003.
46 D. Kauffman, S. M. Johnson, S. M. Kardos, E. Liu, & H. G. Peske, ??Lost at Sea?: New Teachers?
Experiences with Curriculum and Assessment,? Teachers College Record, Vol. 104 No. 2, March 2002.
These findings also are expanded on with case study examples in Susan Moore Johnson and the Project on the Next Generation of Teachers, Finders and Keepers: Helping New Teachers Survive and Thrive in Our Schools, Jossey-Bass, 2004.
47 Thomas M. Smith & Richard M. Ingersoll, ?What Are the Effects of Induction and Mentoring on
Beginning Teachers Turnover?? Draft, May 2004, p. 26 (Copy on file with the Center for American
Progress). To be published in forthcoming issue of the American Educational Research Journal.
48 The program is authorized by and described in section 2151(b) of the ESEA. In FY04, Congress
allocated $12.4 million; the Bush administration has consistently sought to eliminate funding for the program.
49 See Maria McCarthy & Ellen Guiney, Building a Professional Teaching Corps in Boston: Baseline
Study of New Teachers in Boston?s Pubic Schools, Boston Plan for Excellence, April 2004, p. 5; see also
Richard M. Ingersoll, Why Do High Poverty Schools Have Difficulty Staffing Their Classrooms with High Quality Teachers, Center for American Progress, November, 2004, available at http://www.american progress.org/atf/cf/%7BE9245FE4-9A2B-43C7-A521-5D6FF2E06E03%7D/Ingersoll-FINAL.pdf (last viewed Nov. 30, 2004).