DESE Bulletin

Missouri Recognized for Plan to Improve Access to Excellent Teachers

Missouri is being recognized for its plan to recruit, prepare and retain effective teachers for all public schoolchildren in the state, especially in high-poverty, high-minority or rural districts. The U.S. Department of Education is highlighting Missouri’s educator equity plan in three areas:

·         Preparing educators: Missouri’s plan includes long-term strategies to recruit highly skilled, diverse individuals into the teaching pipeline and to work with higher education institutions to ensure effective and relevant preparation in content and performance.
·         Identifying critical shortages: The Department’s plan includes a shortage predictor model to identify educator shortages in content areas, grades and regional locations that present recruiting challenges.
·         Supporting principals and school leaders: Missouri’s plan highlights its leadership development system to support school leaders through their preparation, their induction into schools, and throughout their careers.

Missouri’s plan also earned praise for stakeholder engagement. Department staff met with education association representatives from around the state to determine the plan’s timeline, root causes of inequity, and innovative strategies to address the problem. Department staff organized regional focus groups to provide feedback on proposed strategies for improving educator equity.

“We are eager to move forward to improve equal access to quality education for Missouri students,” said Paul Katnik, assistant commissioner in the Office of Educator Quality. “All kids deserve to have qualified, effective teachers and school leaders no matter where they live or how big or small their school may be.”

Missouri is among 16 states earning first-round approval for efforts to achieve educator equity. All 50 states were required to submit educator equity plans earlier this year to the U.S. Department of Education.

Preparing, developing and supporting effective educators is one of the ways Missouri is working to ensure that all Missouri students reach the Top 10 by 20 goal of college and career readiness.

Thank you,
Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

This report was mentioned at the August 11, 2015 State Board of Education meeting after more than an hour’s worth of discussion about the results of the latest teacher certification exams and the areas of teacher shortages in our state. Many Board members had offered several suggestions for how the state could address the expected shortages, none of which were written down by DESE representatives because, as they said at that meeting, many of those recommendations were included in DESE’s plan submitted to the US Department of Education and they were just waiting to hear whether or not the plan had been approved.

Got that? Our State Board of Ed did not have a say in what plan the state would move forward with. They didn’t even know what was in our submission. We would just have to wait to see if we got the green light from the feds, who are in no way directing education in the states. The states are in charge of education.  Riiiiiight.

Lucky for us the USDoED approved our plan and even patted us on the back for it.

I can’t help but think about the 50 CENTCOM analysts complaining that higher ups were doctoring reports to follow the political narrative, to the detriment of national security.

According to The Daily Beast, “The analysts have accused senior-level leaders, including the director of intelligence and his deputy in CENTCOM, of changing their analyses to be more in line with the Obama administration’s public contention that the fight against ISIS and al Qaeda is making progress…  Some felt it was a product of commanders protecting their career advancement by putting the best spin on the war.”

Far from being reassuring that USDoED gave our submission a big thumbs up, I wonder whether Missouri wrote the report primarily to meet the objectives of Washington. Is there a similar focus on career advancement by Missouri officials seeking to score points with DC instead of Missouri? Though we were singled out for our stakeholder involvement, which I must once again point out did not include parents, but rather teacher professional organizations, we have still readily adopted the concept that there will be central control of how many teachers we have in each discipline and eventually, control over where those people are directed to teach. I can already hear the promises to the local districts, “If you like your teachers, you can keep your teachers.” When did local school districts agree to be part of this plan? They didn’t because it wasn’t necessary for this mandatory submission by our state to the federal government.

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“Missouri’s plan highlights its leadership development system to support school leaders through their preparation, their induction into schools, and throughout their careers.” Are we not heading in the same direction as CENTCOM, focusing training on principals to support their career advancement, instead of allowing the more organic process of promoting those who truly understand teaching into those positions so we don’t have the insanity of today?

The Daily Beast reported, “One person who knows the contents of the written complaint sent to the inspector general said it used the word ‘Stalinist’ to describe the tone set by officials overseeing CENTCOM’s analysis.”

Stalin was most know for his efforts at and belief in centralization, top down management. Could a similar case be made for education today? Putting the state in charge of guaranteeing the production of the right number of teachers in each of the various disciplines, and devising rules to direct where those teachers must go geographically, through a plan that had to be approved by the federal Department sure sounds like centralization. We all got a say in that, right?

Anne Gassel

Anne has been writing on MEW since 2012 and has been a citizen lobbyist on Common Core since 2013. Some day she would like to see a national Hippocratic oath for educators “I will remember that there is an art to teaching as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy and understanding are sometimes more important than policy or what the data say. My first priority is to do no harm to the children entrusted to my temporary care.”

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