Governor Jack Markell spoke at the assembly as an expert on training the teacher. Below is is copy of what was said.… (Markell’s words are in black and the Ancient Greek Chorus is in red.)
The success of our education system depends more than anything else on great teachers. (Obviously subjective: Bill Gates thinks the most important thing is billions of donated dollars. Jeb Bush thinks Educational Corporations are what the future of education itself depends. Anyway. just note that it is subjective….)
They are the ones dedicated to understanding each student’s individual needs, who know that one is a visual learner and another learns better in group settings. They take time after the school day ends to provide extra support and before the next day begins to ensure their pupils will enter a welcoming environment. (Don’t forget to mention the huge out-of-pocket expenses required to keep education running in their classrooms because of cuts to state funding.)
They are educators like Delaware Teacher of the Year Jon Sell, who voluntarily took on additional leadership responsibilities to help his peers overcome challenges. They are also like Delaware elementary social studies instructor Jill Szymanski, who was recently named National History Teacher of the Year for creating lessons, such as her year-long “Civil War Museum” project, which bring the past to life while developing students’ critical literacy skills. (neither one is in Common Core; they could not have done what they did if restricted by the Common Core Program )
Recognizing that teacher quality is the most important school-related factor in a student’s academic success, the challenge for policymakers is to ensure educators have the resources and opportunities they need to be at their best in the classroom. (This is hard to do when classroom teaching budgets are cut to pay for corporations hardwiring Common Core into the curriculum..)
That starts with listening to our teachers. In Delaware, we have begun conducting a statewide teaching and learning conditions survey to more fully understand their views. (We have just witnessed the Markell TELL overture…)
And, we are working to ensure they have access to up-to-date technology. Preparing students for 21st century colleges and careers requires increasing our investments in computers and mobile devices, as well as in assistance for teachers to help them get the most out of these tools.
In addition, our state has established “professional learning communities” to provide interactive opportunities for educators to learn from each other. All teachers meet with a small group of their peers for 90 minutes each week to discuss student data and talk about which instructional practices are resulting in the most improvement for our young people.
We can also do more to ensure prospective teachers receive the best possible training. I’m proud of legislation we passed this year to require quality student teaching experiences and incorporate research-based reading and math instruction methods, all of which are lacking at the majority of teacher preparation programs. Furthermore, we’re setting minimum admission standards for these programs because we cannot accept that less than one quarter of our teachers graduate in the top third of their college classes. (The legiislation waters down the existing standards, which at the time were ranked by US News and World Report as the 33rd best in the nation. The standards have been reduced to achieve the requirements of the lowest community college.) (Please note: research based reading and math instruction are one-size-fits-all, and the exact opposite of what does work, which if you remember, is in the first paragraph of this piece: “who know that one is a visual learner and another learns better in group settings”).
To attract more of the top students to the profession, we must show we appreciate our teachers. That means, even in challenging fiscal environments, investing in them with quality materials for their classrooms and a compensation system that reflects our values. (Note: our values are not merit pay, based on standardized testing. Are those values yours? But seriously, more than lip service to investing more into classrooms… That is what teachers really need the most; that plus more time to just teach…)
We have made some important progress in Delaware that I look forward to sharing at the Education Nation panel on teacher quality,(make sure you share how Common Core classes pummeled your test scores statewide and were the downward drivers of those lower test score in 2013) but we have more work to do. I’m eager to hear other recommendations. (Try reading kavips) Given the importance of the subject, it should be a lively discussion (not if done in the same political drone as this speech; have you looked into getting a writer?) However, I’m sure we will all agree on one point: it takes great teachers to ensure our students can make the most of their abilities. (Agreed. Now can we leave them alone so they can TEACH?)