TEACHER PREPARATION INITIATIVES
SUBCOMMITTEE ON EARLY CHILDHOOD,
YOUTH AND FAMILIES
COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED FIFTH CONGRESS
HEARING HELD IN WASHINGTON, DC, FEBRUARY, 24, 1998
Serial No. 105-77
Printed for the use of the Committee on Education
and the Workforce
Table of Contents
Table of Contents *
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE EUGENE HICKOK, SECRETARY OF EDUCATION, COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA *
STATEMENT OF MR. E.D. HIRSCH, JR., PRESIDENT, CORE KNOWLEDGE FOUNDATION, CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA *
STATEMENT OF DR. ERIC HANUSHEK, DIRECTOR, W. ALLEN WALLIS INSTITUTE OF POLITICAL ECONOMY, UNIVERSITY OF ROCHESTER, ROCHESTER, NEW YORK *
STATEMENT OF DR. RICHARD INGERSOLL, PROFESSOR OF SOCIOLOGY, UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA, ATHENS, GEORGIA *
STATEMENT OF MS. C. EMILY FEISTRITZER, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL CENTER FOR EDUCATIONAL INFORMATION, WASHINGTON, D.C. *
STATEMENT OF DR. DALE BALLOU, PROFESSOR OF ECONOMICS, UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS, BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS *
STATEMENT OF MS. KATI HAYCOCK, PRESIDENT, THE EDUCATION TRUST, INC., WASHINGTON, D.C. *
STATEMENT OF MR. PAUL F. STEIDLER, DIRECTOR, ALEXIS DE TOQUEVILLE INSTITUTION, ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA *
STATEMENT OF MR. BARNETT BERRY, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR FOR POLICY AND STATE RELATIONS, NATIONAL COMMISSION ON TEACHING AND AMERICA'S FUTURE, COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA *
APPENDIX A- STATEMENT OF MR. RIGGS *
APPENDIX B- STATEMENT OF MR. MARTINEZ *
APPENDIX C- STATEMENT OF MR. PAYNE *
APPENDIX D- STATEMENT OF MR. HICKOK *
APPENDIX E- MR. HIRSCH *
APPENDIX F- MR. HANUSHEK *
APPENDIX G- MR. INGERSOLL *
APPENDIX H- MS. FEISTRITZER *
APPENDIX I- MR. BALLOU *
APPENDIX J- MS. HAYCOCK *
APPENDIX K- MR. STEIDLER *
APPENDIX L- MR. BERRY *
APPENDIX M- Report of the National Commission on Teaching & America’s Future- "What Matters Most: Teaching for America’s Future" *
APPENDIX N- Report of the National Commission on Teaching & America’s Future- "Doing What Matters Most: Investigating in Quality Teaching" *
TEACHER PREPARATION INITIATIVE
Tuesday, February 24, 1998
House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Early Childhood,
Youth and Families,
Committee on Education
and the Workforce,
The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 10:00 a.m., in Room 2175, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Frank Riggs [chairman of the subcommittee] presiding.
Present: Representatives Riggs, Johnson, Goodling, Peterson, Upton, Martinez, Miller, Kildee, Roemer, Scott, and Kucinich.
Staff Present: D'Arcy Philps, Majority Professional Staff Member; Denzel McGuire, Majority Professional Staff Member; Kent Talbert, Majority Professional Staff Member; Sally Lovejoy, Majority Senior Education Policy Advisor; Andrea Weiss, Majority Legislative Assistant; Alex Nock, Minority Legislative Associate; June Harris, Minority Education Policy Advisor; and Margo Huber, Minority Staff Assistant.
Chairman Riggs. Good morning. My name is Frank Riggs. I am Chairman of the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Youth and Families and I call to order this meeting of the subcommittee to hear testimony on the subject of teacher recruitment and preparation. I want to thank my good friend and the Ranking Member of the subcommittee, Congressman Martinez, for calling the subcommittee to order and I want to take the opportunity to welcome each of you to this hearing.
All children in this Nation deserve an education, which provides them with the skills and knowledge necessary to lead a productive and successful adult life. I personally believe that the keys to improving education in America are really fairly simple. The key to education quality is good teachers and an emphasis on the basics. That means a traditional curriculum that emphasizes the core academic subjects, access to and instruction in technology for every child and accountable schools. The best way to hold schools accountable is through State and local control and parental choice. Renewed attention has been given to another important aspect of ensuring a quality education for our children. I say a renewed attention. I mean back here in Washington. That is the role of that individual, the role and preparation of that individual classroom teacher. I also stipulate, as others on this panel no doubt will, that teaching is the highest calling. I have heard the Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, refer to teaching as a missionary occupation. I agree with his observation. I also recall the wonderful saying that a teacher can affect eternity because he or she never knows where his or her influence might end. Specifically, questions have been raised about the quality of our Nation's teacher work force, the quantity of qualified teachers, the adequacy of teacher preparation and the narrow issue of the impact of classroom size on the ability of teachers to teach successfully.
Over the last few months a number of bills have been introduced in Congress that attempt to address these issues. Representative Bill Paxon, a Republican from New York, has introduced legislation that would redirect the funds of several Federal programs to enable States to hire many more new teachers. I also know that some of my colleagues on this subcommittee as well as on the full committee have introduced their own initiatives, including Congressman Miller and Congressman Kildee. The President's 1999 fiscal year budget took this one step further. It took Congressman Paxon's proposal one step further by proposing a multi-billion dollar new program to reduce class size.
Before considering these proposals we must first take a closer look and carefully assess perceived problems. There is truly a shortage of teachers. Does classroom size matter? Are teachers well-qualified and if not, is it because colleges and universities fail to adequately prepare them during the traditional teacher preparation, teacher education at colleges and universities by focusing too much on how to teach while neglecting what to teach? If these in fact are problems, how best should they be addressed? Can teacher shortages be alleviated through alternative certification programs? What effect does teacher tenure have on attracting and keeping good quality teachers? Can classroom sizes be reduced at the local level by shifting administrative positions to teaching positions? Can teacher quality be improved by introducing strong accreditation requirements for teacher colleges and universities as well as tougher tests for teacher certification? And of particular importance to Congress, what is the proper role of the Federal Government, and by extension Federal taxpayers, in crafting and implementing the necessary solutions?
These are some of the questions we have the opportunity to discuss today with our witnesses who are leading experts in this field as well as with State officials, who are on the front lines addressing these issues. Hopefully, we will all come away with a much better sense of not only the problems we face in ensuring a quality education for all of our children but also how best to achieve this goal. It is my hope that we can gather this information in time to consider any action in the area of the teaching profession in the context of reauthorizing the Higher Education Act.
With that, I recognize the Ranking Member of the subcommittee, Congressman Martinez, for any opening statement he would like to make.
SEE APPENDIX A FOR STATEMENT OF MR. RIGGS
Mr. Martinez. I am pleased to join with you in welcoming the witnesses before the subcommittee today. The topic of this hearing, as you have outlined, is indeed important. I am very interested in the perspective of the witnesses.
As far as I am concerned, teachers are the cornerstone of our educational system. I think back to my own education, and I can remember teachers who made a difference. If it were not for certain teachers who made me realize my potential, they took me aside and helped me, I would not be here today.
I asked the question about public schools when we started damning public schools and how bad they are. I asked my colleagues how many of you are products of public schools? The overwhelming majority are public school products. So I guess somewhere along the way they have done something right. But clearly the training which teachers receive both in preservice and inservice is vital to the educational achievements of our Nation, especially of our Nation's students.
President Clinton has also realized the vital role of teachers through his proposal to assist local school districts in hiring 100,000 more teachers over the next few years. The brouhaha claimed that 100,000 police officers would make a difference. We found out that they have. Not only that, the local jurisdictions have all been in strong support of that. When we talk about reducing class sizes, I think we are going to realize that if we reduce class size we are going to need more teachers. Another proposal of his is to lower the class size. Of course that is the proposal of our governor in California. It seems a lot of people are jumping on the bandwagon, realizing that the more attention an individual student gets, the better he is going to do. But my hope is that this presents us today with an opportunity to ensure that this new corps of teachers have the tools necessary to positively impact our Nation's students.
In 1996, the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future restarted significant national debates on teacher training and qualifications through its release of "What Matters Most: Teaching for America's Future." This report made bold recommendations for revamping the method used to prepare new teachers and for updating the training and skills of those presently in the profession. The report contained welcome advice for many of us who have struggled with how we can best ensure a high quality, properly prepared teacher work force. We are fortunate to have witnesses from the commission on the second panel today, Mr. Barnett Berry, and I am looking forward to his testimony. I thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEE APPENDIX B FOR STATEMENT OF MR. MARTINEZ
Chairman Riggs. Thank you. The Chairman of the full committee is Bill Goodling. Mr. Chairman, do you have an opening statement you would like to make?
Mr. Goodling. Later on I will introduce our Secretary of Education. Mr. Miller and I attended a conference recently where one of the presenters said that the major problem with teacher education is that, I think I am saying this right, teacher education programs on college and university campuses are sort of stepsisters or stepbrothers to all the rest of the programs that happen there. There is not much prestige given to teacher education departments on college campuses.
Of course, when I went to elementary school we were fortunate. The brightest and best women were teachers because they had two choices, either be a teacher or a nurse, if they wanted to be professionals. That is long since gone. That luxury will never return. We have hundreds of thousands of teachers at the present time who are now clerks in department stores and at McDonald's and so on because they can't get a teaching position, primarily because they won't go where the jobs are available. In my district, in some districts there may be 100 applicants for each teaching job. So I suppose if we have any role whatsoever in relationship to teachers, it would be to find some way to encourage them to go where they are needed.
Again, I think it is time we think, as we do in everything, of quality rather than quantity. I will be the first to indicate that I am not quite sure how we go about bringing the brightest and best into the teaching profession. I am almost convinced, after many years, that the good teacher is born. I supervised student teachers. I am not sure that we made much headway in making average teachers outstanding teachers. But I was floored when we had teachers of reading before us on a panel here and they told us they didn't have any courses in how to teach reading at the college and university. One first grade teacher said the only statement made by her professor was, if you can read, you can teach anybody to read.
If that is the kind of problem we have out there, we have a lot of work to do. But again, we have to find a way to attract the brightest and best. It is not that we don't have plenty of teachers and plenty of teachers prepared. But can you turn a youngster on in science and math by the time they get to 6th or 7th grade with a science or math teacher? Yet we ask elementary teachers to teach every course, every subject and in many instances they have had a minimum number of courses in math and science in high school and in many instances none in college. We are dealing with that in the reauthorization of higher education, but we are not sure how we are dealing with it.
Having said that, I will wait to introduce our secretary from Pennsylvania.
Chairman Riggs. Maybe some of those individuals should consider moving to California, where our classroom size reduction initiative has created many openings, some being filled on an emergency or temporary basis, for classroom teachers. At this point, colleagues, I would like to move to the first panel of our witnesses.
Is there any other Member seeking recognition of the Chair at this time?
Mr. Miller. I just wanted to thank you for holding this hearing. I think it is an important hearing. I think it is a historic hearing. We come at a time when I think most people recognize that we are going to turn over our entire teaching force in the next decade. This is an opportunity to change some of the things that we now know are wrong with the existing system of attracting people, encouraging people to stay, rewarding talent, and holding people accountable. These are all opportunities that we have. Clearly the Federal Government spends a lot of money in compensatory education, and in underwriting the education of people who want to become teachers. I think we have a right to demand some excellence. I think we have a right to hold people accountable. I don't think we should be funding programs for poor children that give them poor teachers. It does not make any sense.
So we may not and we should not be here directing the States how to do all of this, but we certainly have some obligation to put some accountability into a system, which we annually spend billions of dollars on, either in preparing teachers or providing for academic programs.
I have said earlier, and this committee voted out, I think this is a consumer protection issue. I think parents have a right to know who is spending four and five and six hours a day with their children and are those people competent to teach the children and create the ability of the child to learn. There is going to be some discussion on alternative credentialing systems. I think that is quite appropriate. There are many talented people in our community that can lend a very helpful hand in teaching. I witness it every day that I am in schools in my school district. I am there every week. I am visiting with people from the Bank of America, from Chevron, from Shell Oil; I have a lot of refineries in my district. They are there teaching science, computer sciences and programming and all of the rest of it. I don't think we should use alternative credentialing as a way of somehow suggesting that we are going to set up a completely new system.
I think education is important. I think this is an opportunity at the outset of the new century, the new decade, of the new corps of teachers coming on-line to set down some markers about what we think is important. I think what parents think is important, whether they pay attention to it or not, they like their child to spend time with a good competent teacher.
I hope that this hearing will help us struggle with some of our responses. We need to recognize talented people. We need to reward them. We cannot treat all people in this profession as the same, and truly those who strive to enhance their talents and their capabilities to teach our children ought to be rewarded. So there is an awful lot on the table here, but there has never been a more appropriate time to have it on the table than right now when we recognize the kind of change that is going to take place in the teaching corps of this country. I wanted to thank you for holding this hearing.
Chairman Riggs. Congressman Scott?
Mr. Scott. I know we don't usually have opening statements. I won't trespass on the time. I would like to thank the witnesses for coming. It is an excellent topic to consider and I am looking forward to the witnesses, particularly in line of a difference between knowing, teaching and being able to teach. There is a difference. I look forward to that testimony.
SEE APPENDIX C FOR STATEMENT OF MR. PAYNE
Chairman Riggs. Chairman Goodling, would you introduce the first witness please.
Mr. Goodling. I would be happy to.
Eugene W. Hickok was nominated by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge in March of '95 to the post of Secretary of Education and confirmed by the Senate on May 2nd, 1995. He is a Carlislean. That means he comes from Carlisle, in case you didn't follow that. He has been a teacher, a scholar, an author. Since 1980, he has taught Political Science at Dickinson College, and most recently served as Director of the Clarke Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Contemporary Issues. He was an adjunct professor at the Dickinson School of Law. Widely recognized as an outstanding teacher, he was twice awarded Dickinson's prestigious Ganoe Award for Inspirational Teaching in 1985 and in 1990.
He is an expert on public policy and the U.S. Constitution. He has published scores of articles and books and has testified frequently on a wide range of issues before committees of the U.S. House and Senate and both houses of the Pennsylvania Legislature. I remember him as a school board member, since I was one, not at the same time, I think probably prior to your being a school board member.
Well known as a commentator on local and national media on the issues of government, education and politics, he has been a guest on the ABC News Nightline, C-SPAN and the MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour. Outside the classroom, as I indicated, he did serve as a school board member, and so I am very happy to introduce Secretary Hickok.
Chairman Riggs. Mr. Secretary, thank you for being with us. If you would allow me to explain for just a moment our procedural rules, we try to limit testimony by witnesses to 5 minutes. However, I understand that when you have such distinguished experts in the field, it is very, very difficult to do that. However, the lights are there in front of you to sort of guide you in terms of that five-minute time limit. If you could be as concise as possible, that will actually allow us more time for question and answers. I think the Members probably find that give-and-take is as valuable, if not more valuable than your testimony itself. Your entire statement in written form will appear in the record. Thank you for being here. Please proceed.
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE EUGENE HICKOK, SECRETARY OF EDUCATION, COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
Mr. Hickok. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Chairman Goodling, for that very kind introduction as well. I appreciate it very much. I come here today as the Secretary of Education for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; also a member of the Education Leaders Council, ELC, which is a national organization of reform-minded State education chiefs from Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Virginia and representatives from a total of 29 other States.
I consider it an honor to be here today to discuss what I consider, as you have all said, a very important issue. And that is: how do we prepare people to become teachers? The fact is teachers spend more time with our kids than we do as parents. I agree with those who argue that it is a mission. It is the highest calling. I am very proud to be a teacher, college professor.
In Pennsylvania we are engaged in an initiative under the leadership of Governor Ridge to produce teachers for the 21st century. It has four basic principles behind it. First, we want to make sure that we have more challenging admissions standards for our schools of education and entry into a teacher preparation program. Secondly, we want to make sure that we have rigorous academic and curricular standards in those teacher training programs. Third, we want to make sure that we have higher qualifying examination scores for teacher certification in Pennsylvania. And, finally, we want to make sure that there are alternative routes to becoming a teacher than traditional notions of teacher preparation.
A teacher is a student's guide to the world of learning and knowledge. It is simply common sense that a prospective teacher must demonstrate a strong commitment to academic excellence in order to help our young people achieve high standards, standards on which the future of the Commonwealth and indeed the Nation rest. When our recommendations are in place, Pennsylvania will require that candidates for teacher training programs complete at least three semesters of college level general education or liberal arts courses and attain a 3.0 grade point average to be admitted to a teacher training program. That will make Pennsylvania alone among all the States with regard to that particular requirement.
Recognizing that there will always be students of high promise who develop late, our standards will allow institutions to enroll up to 10 percent of the candidates who do not meet this GPA if exceptional circumstances justify admission. But the bottom line is that a teacher must be an example of academic excellence to teach students to achieve excellence.
Now there are those who argue that a 3.0 requirement will lead to grade inflation. We took that into consideration well into our deliberations. As we examined the problem, it was clear to us, at least in Pennsylvania, that the liberal arts programs on which the 3.0 admissions requirement will be based have generally maintained relatively strong academic standards. As we look at our State system of higher education, 14 State-owned universities in Pennsylvania, a system that produces half of our teachers in Pennsylvania, we looked at the analysis and found out that the average grade in an education course in that system is a 3.3. That is an A-minus. The average grade of humanities a 2.8; the average grade of mathematics, 2.3; natural science is 2.5. There are some institutions in which 78 percent of the grades in education classes are A's.
I am a college professor. No one is more concerned about grade inflation than I am and I have seen it my entire career. The fact is this is a national trend as well. According to data collected by the U.S. Department of Education, from '92 to '93 graduates, the average GPA awarded in education courses was 3.4 compared to 2.9 in social sciences and 2.67 in science and engineering. We think by emphasizing a 3.0 in academic disciplines, the liberal arts courses, the core academic disciplines, we will fend off what is already a problem in education schools, which is grade inflation.
Our proposed standards will require prospective secondary education teachers to fulfill the same course requirements as their classmates majoring in a specific discipline. We think this is terribly important. We need to emphasize content for secondary schoolteachers. It has always been the best practice for preparing teachers but many preparing institutions have increased their teaching methods requirements at the expense of content area courses. In the process both have gotten watered down somewhat. We don't want to de-emphasize the importance of pedagogic methods courses, but the fact is if you emphasize content, then when you look at methods you will do it in the right way.
In an analysis of the mathematics requirements at 14 teacher-education programs at public universities in Pennsylvania, we discovered that nearly all of them have less rigorous requirements for secondary education mathematics degrees than for the baccalaureate major. It may sound simplistic but sometimes the message is really simple. You can't teach what you don't know. We think it is terribly important that you emphasize content.
In addition, we are going to raise the scores to become a teacher in Pennsylvania. This is terribly important. I was talking to a colleague a few moments ago. Pennsylvania has a very high pass rate on those scores, but that is because the passing grade is so low. We are raising that as we talk right now. You can score in the bottom percentile on the general knowledge test, the bottom percentile. That means 29 percent of the people taking the test score higher than you and you can still pass it, not just in Pennsylvania but in many States. We are talking about a level of questioning which is relatively simple. To paraphrase, to give you an example, list in chronological order the following, the New Deal, the Great Society, the Korean War, the First World War. There are people who miss that question who teach our children. That is not right. We aim to raise the score.
Finally, we think it is very important, as Congressmen Miller said, that it is possible for people to enter the teaching profession who do not go through the traditional teacher preparation programs. We propose alternative certification to attract the best and the brightest from other areas and other fields to become teachers because we think they have something to offer. As long as they are qualified, it will be a rigorous alternative certification process but we think there should be alternative routes to the classroom as long as those people are qualified.
Finally, we would argue that any national attempt to look at teacher standards and teacher preparation should bear a few things in mind. One, we think it is very important to let the States take the lead in this, with the help of the Federal Government, and we also think that some of the things that are being proposed, in NCATE standards and National Board certification, have some problems. The fact is I know of no study anywhere that tells me that an NCATE-approved teacher preparation program produces better teachers. And that is what we want, better teachers. If there is going to be a Good Housekeeping seal of approval, let us make sure it means something. We are not at all convinced at this point in time that NCATE does. In any event, we think our initiative when in place will help move us in the right direction.
SEE APPENDIX D FOR STATEMENT OF MR. HICKOK
Chairman Riggs. Thank you for some provocative testimony. Our next witness is Mr. E. D. Hirsch, Jr., President of the nonprofit organization Core Knowledge Foundation in Charlottesville, Virginia as well as holding a post as university Professor of Education and Humanities at the University of Virginia. He is also the author of numerous books, including the best sellers "Cultural Literacy" and "The Schools We Need and Why We Don't Have Them," which I think should probably be required reading for anyone who wants to serve on this committee. He has also served on numerous advisory boards, including the National Council of Educational Research here. He is here today to provide us with a historical overview of how teachers are prepared to teach and why the system has largely failed.
STATEMENT OF MR. E.D. HIRSCH, JR., PRESIDENT, CORE KNOWLEDGE FOUNDATION, CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA
Mr. Hirsch. Mr. Chairman, it is a great honor to be here and to be so encouraged by what Secretary Hickok was saying is happening in Pennsylvania. I consider this commentary to be a kind of footnote to that and a support of it. I have been asked to comment on initiatives for improving teacher quality and also reducing class size, but the second is a point that I am leaving to Professor Hanushek. I know the class size issue is complicated, entails a lot of complicated trade-offs and, in my view, is most important in first and second grade, where reading is paramount. But in any case, what I am going to talk to you about is focusing on teacher quality. I think this is a difficult injunction to make. I think it would be unwise to spend any taxpayer money that finds its way into schools of education. Schools of education are currently some of the origins of our problems, not their solution. They should be encouraged to change. More generally, this is even more difficult. I think it is undesirable to channel money to administrative entities that are populated by postgraduates and professors or ex-professors of education, even though I am one myself. They tend to share a self-defeating emphasis on process, as the Secretary has said, rather than on knowledge. And unfortunately, this caveat applies to most State departments of education, most accrediting organizations like NCATE, and many grant-giving organizations like the Education Division of the National Science Foundation. I am told that you recently received good scientific advice about reading, not from the National Science Foundation, which is dominated by the education ideology, but rather from the National Institutes of Health, which sustains a strong connection with mainstream science.
The reason that powerful status quo organizations like education schools and State Departments of Education are perpetuating our problems rather than relieving them is that they are animated by guild slogans rather than by reliable science. Potential dissenters within those organizations are silenced by social pressure to ensure intellectual conformity. All this was said back in 1953 by Arthur Bestor in "Educational Wastelands." Unfortunately, the situation has deteriorated rather than improved.
So I think Congress needs to help the public break this intellectual monopoly. It is not just a structural monopoly. So when you hear slogans like "hands-on instruction" or "critical thinking skills," "rote memorization," "drill and kill," my advice is to harden your hearts and put your hands on your wallets and your purses. In "The Schools We Need," which you so kindly mentioned, I explained how this anti-intellectual monopoly arose and why it persists despite practical failures.
Basically, it persists because sentimental ideas about educating young children came to dominate American thought. Those go back to the 19th century, to romanticism; for example, the notion that children should grow like plants rather than be molded like clay. The term "kindergarten" was imported from German romanticism. It means children garden. That is a garden where children should grow like plants. This idea was contrary to the earlier conception of Jefferson and others that public education should steel children against their natural impulses and should inculcate habits of diligence and rectitude and give everybody enough factual knowledge to govern ourselves. Modern science sides with Jefferson on this. But the bad and the sentimental drove out the good Jeffersonian ideas and these romantic ideas continue to dominate. Elementary schools for many decades have stressed natural growth over so-called artificial writing, drill and kill, reading and arithmetic and so on. The stress on process over content has been a disservice to all of our children, but the gravest disservice has been to disadvantaged children who receive little academic knowledge from their homes and they fall further and further behind.
The urgency of overcoming this romantic, anti-knowledge tradition has led me to make some positive suggestions in my written testimony. Their goal is to give teachers the subject matter knowledge, which they and their students need, as Secretary Hickok pointed out. I suggest ways to encourage alternative teacher certification and what that should entail. I suggest ways to structure State block grants so that they will be controlled by subject matter specialists and citizens rather than purveyors of process. The aim is not to dismantle schools of education but to give them incentives to change. The important goal is to provide teachers with training that mainstream science has shown to work effectively. I also appended some remarks about how to ensure such scientific reliability when you authorize specific programs. Thank you very much.
SEE APPENDIX E FOR STATEMENT OF MR. HIRSCH
Chairman Riggs. Thank you, Mr. Hirsch, for even more provocative testimony. We now go to Dr. Eric Hanushek, Director of the W. Allen Wallis Institute of Political Economy at the University of Rochester in New York. Dr. Hanushek came to the University of Rochester in 1978 and has since that time served as both Director of the Public Policy Analysis Program and as Chairman of the Economics Department. Two years prior to his tenure at the University he served as Deputy Director of the Congressional Budget Office. He is here today to discuss his recent research on the shortcomings of the large-scale class size reduction initiatives such as those being proposed by the President and I am assuming the one underway in my home State of California. Thank you for being here. Please proceed.
STATEMENT OF DR. ERIC HANUSHEK, DIRECTOR, W. ALLEN WALLIS INSTITUTE OF POLITICAL ECONOMY, UNIVERSITY OF ROCHESTER, ROCHESTER, NEW YORK
Mr. Hanushek. Mr. Chairman, thank you very much for having me here. I commend you on having these hearings about this important issue. As you pointed out, Mr. Chairman, there is this wave of enthusiasm for reducing class size that is sweeping the country. I believe that this wave is terribly misguided. I want to make one simple point in my testimony today. The existing evidence, scientific evidence, that we have indicates that the achievement of a typical student will be unaffected by the reductions in class sizes of the type we have talked about. The most noticeable feature of policies to reduce overall class size will be a dramatic increase in the cost of schooling with no commensurate increase in achievement of students.
I wish to fill in the details of that. I have provided in my testimony a lot more of the evidence. This evidence is sometimes greeted with surprise, but that is a lack of recognition of the fact that we have been reducing class sizes consistently for a long period of time and getting no results from this.
Before I go on, I have to make it clear what my position is on our investment in schooling. I personally believe that it is terribly important for the Nation to invest in our youth and to improve our human capital. This is important to make us competitive internationally and for the well being of our citizens. At the same time just saying that we have to invest in our youth does not mean that we should subscribe to any program that is under the title "Investment in Human Capital" or "Improving Our Schools." That is where I put the class size initiatives that have been proposed, in the category of wasteful investments.
Let me quickly review the various sources of evidence we have on class size and make sure that you understand this. First, we have extensive experience with class size reduction and it has not worked. Between 1950 and 1995, pupil-teacher ratios fell by 35 percent in this Nation. We don't have performance information for that entire period of time. When we start getting performance information on the achievement of students in 1970, under the National Assessment of Educational Progress, we see that our students, 17-year-olds in 1996, according to our latest scores, are performing about where they did in 1970. So these dramatic reductions in class size have done nothing to improve achievement. You cannot explain this away by saying that kids have gotten worse. Even though there is increased poverty of children and fewer one-parent families, there are also more educated parents and smaller families so that this is not a simple explanation. Neither is the constant appeal to special education a way to get around this overall evidence. But there is more evidence.
Second, international evidence suggests no relationship internationally between pupil-teacher ratios and student achievement. We have looked. There are lots of reasons why countries differ, but they also have very widely differing practices of class size and pupil-teacher ratios. And they bear no relationship to international test scores.
Thirdly, there are extensive econometric investigations, which show no relationship between class size and student achievement. Class size is one of the most studied aspects of schools. There have been over 300 estimates of the effects of reduced class size on student achievement. And these studies indicate that you are just as likely to see poorer achievement as better achievement when you reduce class sizes across existing schools. This is obviously a controversial topic and it has been subject to a lot of investigation. The scrutiny that has been given to this does not change one bit the policy conclusions that come from this.
Finally, most of the current discussions of class size today are justified by appeals to Project STAR in Tennessee. The common reference is Project STAR, which was a random assignment experiment in class size reduction in the mid-1980s in Tennessee. The references suggest that they found effects of smaller classes and, therefore, justifies any policies. The STAR experiment put some students in classes of 23 students on average, with or without a teacher's aide, and compared those to students who were in class sizes of 15. The results are in my summary testimony, or in the full testimony.
In the summary testimony there is a picture that shows you what you need to know about Project STAR. It found that in kindergarten, the children in smaller classes did indeed perform better than the children in larger classes. That gap maintained at exactly the same level or almost precisely the same level as kids stayed in small classes, first, second and third grade, or stayed in large classes, first, second and third grade. If in fact class size had any effect on performance after kindergarten, you would expect these performances to diverge, the performance picture would fan out. It does not. Moreover, if you follow the same children and look at their performance through the 6th grade, when they are put back in large classes, you find that they still maintain exactly the same difference. So whether they are in small classes or large classes, any differences there are in kindergarten are maintained. What this says is that perhaps at kindergarten smaller classes are important but that later on it is not. On Project STAR, I should also note quickly that that was a massive reduction of one-third, from 23 to 15 students, which is approximately the reduction in pupil-teacher ratios between 1950 and 1995. There is no evidence that going to smaller numbers such as the 20 in California or 18 that has been proposed by the President will even yield the modest effects of Project STAR.
Let me conclude with two quick points. One is to just reiterate what Chairman Goodling and each of the other Members have said. There is nothing that is as important as quality teachers. In fact, if class size reduction policies are going to have any effect, any positive effect, it will be because we hire better than average teachers, not because of the class sizes per se. If they have a negative effect, it is because we tend to hire worse teachers on average. Unfortunately, there is nothing in the system today that guarantees that we will hire better teachers. While my colleagues will speak on teacher preparation, the current incentive structure in schools does not lead schools to systematically hire the best teachers and to retain the best teachers. This comes back to Congressman Miller's point. Really good teachers, whether they are born to be good teachers or they are trained somehow to be good teachers, we have no incentives to keep them in the classrooms and not the poorer ones.
If you wish to have a real impact on education, to put your mark on education as the U.S. Congress, I would do it in a very different way than through reductions in class size. Instead of legislating from Washington smaller class sizes across the country, I would first try to replicate Project STAR in Tennessee and find out what happens if you randomly assign people to different classes. But more importantly, I would think of experimentation, trials and evaluation of programs that radically change the incentive structures in schools. So that everybody in schools had an incentive to improve the performance of students. So that principals and superintendents had an incentive and the ability to hire better teachers and to get rid of poorer teachers. This would have a much larger impact than a general reduction in class size, which I think will have no impact on student achievement but we will see the cost for some time.
SEE APPENDIX F FOR WRITTEN STATEMENT OF MR. HANUSHEK
Chairman Riggs. Thank you. I certainly hope when we get to questions and answers that we will have an opportunity to ask you and the other panelists about this idea of incentive or merit pay for teachers and also the related question of teacher tenure.
Dr. Richard Ingersoll is an Assistant Professor with the Department of Sociology at the University of Georgia. He will discuss current issues surrounding the training and quality of our elementary and secondary teaching work force. Thank you for being here today. Please proceed with your testimony.
STATEMENT OF DR. RICHARD INGERSOLL, PROFESSOR OF SOCIOLOGY, UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA, ATHENS, GEORGIA
Mr. Ingersoll. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and Members of the committee for inviting me. Over the last few years I have been doing a great deal of research on problems with the quality and qualifications of our elementary and secondary teaching work force. Today I would like to just very briefly summarize what I have found concerning a very crucial issue, but one which, has been widely misunderstood. That is the phenomenon known as out-of-field teaching, teachers teaching subjects for which they have little education or background.
My interest in this stems from my former experience as a high school teacher. I was a social studies teacher, but it seems like there was hardly a year that went by that I wasn't, in addition to social studies, assigned to teach other subjects, math, special Ed, English, for which I had little background. Needless to say, I found it very challenging to teach things that I did not know. I began to wonder, is this a widespread thing, does this phenomenon go on in other schools? If so, why?
Ultimately, I quit high school teaching and went and got a Ph.D. and got the opportunity to answer these same questions in a large-scale research project using a new large national survey of teachers which has been recently completed by the U.S. Department of Education. My objective in my research was to figure out how many teachers at the high school level and in the core academic subjects do not have even a minimal content subject background in the subject they are assigned to teach. I define minimal as a college minor, which is not a whole lot.
My presumption was that few parents would want their teenagers taking, let us say, 11th grade trigonometry taught by a teacher that didn't have at least a minor and hopefully major in mathematics. It turns out, unfortunately, that indeed millions of our high school students are in this very predicament every year. So for instance, almost a third of high school mathematics teachers do not have a minor or a major in mathematics or related subjects, engineering, physics or even math education. Well over 50 percent of high school history teachers in the country do not have a minor or major in history. Not unexpectedly the media has widely recorded these findings over the last year and a half, but at the same time this problem has been widely misunderstood. The misunderstandings all surround the crucial question of why. Why are so many high schoolteachers teaching subjects for which they have little background?
The conventional wisdom tells us that there are one or two reasons for this problem. The first is that, well, there is a lack of training or education on the part of teachers. Of course the obvious antidote is to upgrade the education and training requirements to become a teacher. The second explanation we hear again and again is that teacher shortages are to blame here. Schools simply often cannot find qualified people to fill their positions so they have to make do. They have to reassign someone from social studies to teach math or have to hire someone underqualified. An antidote to this view usually suggests that we enhance recruitment. But the data clearly suggests that both these views are only partly correct. The data clearly shows that almost all of our teachers in this country have a basic education. Almost all of them have a four-year college degree. Almost all of them have a regular State-approved teaching certificate and indeed almost half of our teachers have a graduate degree, usually a Master's Degree. The source of out-of-field teaching does not lie in a lack of education in the training on the part of teachers. It lies in a lack of fit between what they are trained to do and what they are assigned to do. The lack of fit, the data tell us, is often the result of schools having difficulty filling their--finding suitable people to fill their positions. But these staffing problems are not due to teacher shortages in the conventional sense that there is a lack of willing and able bodies out there to fill positions. No. Rather, the data tells us that the staffing problems are more often due to too many teachers prematurely leaving the occupation. In any given year the vast majority of hiring that goes on is simply to replace people who have left their positions, and the data tells us that most teachers move from or leave their positions for one of two reasons. Either they are dissatisfied with teaching or they would like to pursue another career.
These findings have very important implications for policy. If we want to ensure that all our classrooms have adequately qualified teachers, we need to do more than simply recruit thousands of new teachers and give them all kinds of new training. In plain terms, recruiting thousands of people, giving them a lot of training, while very worthwhile things to do, will not solve the problem if then a lot of those teachers are assigned to teach things other than what they are trained in or if a lot of those teachers leave within a few years.
My main point here is that if we want to ensure that all the classrooms in the country have qualified teachers, we need to recruit, we need to train, but we also need to support adequately managed, properly managed and retain our existing teachers.
SEE APPENDIX G FOR STATEMENT OF MR. INGERSOLL
Chairman Riggs. Thank you, doctor. I would like to yield to the Chairman, Mr. Goodling, for any questions he may have. It is now time to proceed to the questions and answers. This is our opportunity to interact with the witnesses.
Mr. Goodling. I will start out with my Secretary who I didn't catch totally what you had said, but you indicated that you beefed up dramatically the general education courses for prospective teachers. Would you define what they are? I ask that question simply because I had 90 graduate courses, only one of which helped me be a better English teacher, only one of which helped me be a better history teacher. None of them helped me be a better administrator. When you talk about general education courses, what do you have in mind?
Mr. Hickok. Right now, in Pennsylvania anyway, to become a teacher or to be admitted into a teacher preparation program you have to have a C-plus average in your first three semesters of college work. That is taking any courses in any discipline or any field, those first three semesters. Our position will be that you should have a B average, a 3.0 during your first three semesters, and the courses that count in the calculation of that 3.0 should be general education or liberal arts courses. They should be discipline academic core courses as opposed to any courses, for example, in the education school or other places.
Mr. Goodling. There could be a lot of education courses.
Mr. Hickok. There could be education courses in there. They are supposed to be in the disciplines, not of the education school. So the first three semesters it should be core academic subjects. Liberal arts courses, not education courses. After you are admitted to the teacher preparation program you will be taking some education courses but if you are going to become a secondary school teacher, you still have to take the same courses as majors do in the disciplines you are going to teach.
For example, we know that most math teachers in this country are not math majors. Indeed, they are not math minors. I think Mr. Ingersoll makes a very smart observation. There are lots of reasons for that, but we would like to make sure in Pennsylvania that at least starting out in the 21st century math teachers took the same courses as math majors as well as methods courses.
Mr. Goodling. That ties into my question. I was going to ask Dr. Ingersoll, you talked a great deal about preparation as far as secondary teachers are concerned in subject matter. But what are we doing for the elementary teacher in relationship to subject matter? I am even probably more concerned about the beginning experience of students with teachers who really have been trained in mathematics and in science, and so on. Do you have any studies that relate to elementary preparation? You talked a great deal about how they are not teaching in certified areas or they do not have very much background in a subject area. How about the elementary, have you done any study on-
Mr. Ingersoll. Well, yes, the vast majority of elementary schoolteachers teach a range of subjects, all of them. There are some pull out classes. There is math and art, and there are some specialists at the elementary level but the vast-
Mr. Goodling. Music and art?
Mr. Ingersoll. Yes. But the vast majority of elementary schoolteachers, their degree is general elementary. That is what they are certified or licensed in. Of course, how much content knowledge they have in math or in English really varies depending upon the particular State, the particular program's requirements to get that general elementary major. There is a very large variation across the country.
Mr. Goodling. Dr. Hanushek, any studies on outstanding teachers with large classes, average teachers with small classes? I guess I am asking that. I have heard so many times about the sister in a parochial school who teaches 50 and does an outstanding job. I don't have any statistics to indicate that is correct, but that is what I have heard all my life.
Mr. Hanushek. There are a number of studies. First, the one overwhelming thing that comes from studies is that the quality of the teacher has by far the biggest impact on schools, what goes on. The comparisons of how good a teacher is versus what you can get from changing class size say that selecting high quality teachers is the important thing. These teachers are largely from statistical studies that find good teachers are very effective in both large and small classes. It is not the class size that is causing the difference. It is perhaps, as you say, that they are born to be good teachers. That is, class size, any impact of class size is just so much smaller than the impact of differences in teachers.
Mr. Goodling. One last question, Mr. Hirsch. Oftentimes we hear about alternative certification. We know there are a lot of outstanding mathematicians, scientists, and so on, out there. In an undisciplined classroom, if I bring that outstanding mathematician and that outstanding scientist in, how long will they stay if somehow or other something cannot be done about the discipline in the classroom? These are people who are perfectionists. These are people who are outstanding in their field.
I can give an illustration. When I was a guidance counselor, I had an outstanding math teacher in the building. I would go by that classroom. It was bedlam, but all the students up in the front row were very attentive. That is who she talked to. I said, I don't know how you could stand that. She said, I could care less. If they don't want to learn, they can sit back there and do what they want to do. I am teaching to those who want to learn. I am thinking of an outstanding scientist or mathematician that comes in. How will that go?
Mr. Hirsch. I think, in any alternative certification program, not only should there be apprentice teaching but there also should be a test. My own belief is that this test should be given to all teachers, not just to those who take the alternative route. Because all teachers should be able to qualify with the subject matter and the pedagogical knowledge they need to manage a classroom, but also to teach math and to teach reading, particularly reading in the elementary schools. And as you heard, teachers are not being given that training right now. So I do see a teacher test governing both classroom knowledge, pedagogical knowledge and subject matter knowledge, as being highly important.
But to come back to your initial question about teacher quality and class size. The best evidence about teacher quality on a large scale is the correlation with SAT scores that teachers had. That is, student outcomes, the actual competencies that students gained seemed to depend more on the average SAT scores of the teachers. SAT scores actually mean general knowledge. The SAT score is basically a vocabulary test, in the verbal anyway, and the general knowledge test. So that fits in again with the need for a general knowledge element on teacher certification tests and an emphasis on content rather than simply on process.
Mr. Goodling. Thank you. I think it is an outstanding panel.
Chairman Riggs. If I could for just a moment ask a follow-up to that, Mr. Hirsch. Are you referring to research that correlates SAT scores with the particular school districts?
Mr. Hirsch. No. I believe it was the Tennessee study, I heard this from Ronald Ferguson. I don't know whether you know it, but the highest correlations that were discovered between pupil outcomes and teacher qualifications were what the teacher made on SAT.
Chairman Riggs. Are you suggesting that that is the best barometer or measure of a teacher's effectiveness?
Mr. Hirsch. The SAT score is an achievement test. It is not an inherent ability test. It is a test of general knowledge and general vocabulary. What I am saying is to be a good elementary teacher you need to have broad general knowledge, which is what my colleagues here are saying, too.
Chairman Riggs. Go ahead.
Mr. Hanushek. If I could add on quickly, there have been a number of studies that have looked at either SAT tests of teachers or other measures of teacher achievement and abilities. This is probably a stronger correlate of student achievement than any other measured attribute, but it is still very weak and much inferior to actually observing who is good in the classroom and who is not. We do very badly at guessing beforehand who will do well.
That is what some of the problems with these various certification proposals and training proposals are. They are not very good at ensuring that we have just the best people there. We can do much better if we can observe people after they have been in the classroom and make decisions about who is doing well and who is not.
Chairman Riggs. Congressman Martinez.
Mr. Martinez. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am sorry Mr. Goodling left. I wanted him to clarify the statement about the teacher who taught the first five kids and did not care what the rest of the kids were doing. I wouldn't classify that as a good teacher. I taught in a class when the California Teachers Association challenged legislators to come into the classroom and teach to see what kind of a job it was. I attended a fourth grade class because I thought it would be easy. Ms. Anderson was the teacher there. I soon found out how difficult it really is and that some people are suited to it and other people are not. I would say Barbara Anderson taught me one thing that her role was to teach every kid in that class even though she had a large class. Her one complaint to me was, I wish I had fewer students because I can teach well, but it is hard for me to get to all of the students in that period of time. Which would lead me to my first question of Dr. Hanushek, because much of your testimony dealt with saying that reduction in class size was not necessarily a criteria for improved student learning ability. I think what you were saying is that, or I would like to believe you were saying that just reducing class size by itself may not be enough. But what the President is suggesting is that along with the smaller class size you provide good teachers. In the studies you referred to, when you reduced the class size--I understand if you reduce it by 35 percent--let us say you have a class of 40, reducing it to somewhere around 30 or 24, the fact is that that reduction in itself may not be the golden number. I don't know what is, 12, 15, in order to give a teacher time to get around to every student. And then of course if the teacher is not a good qualified teacher, if she got around to every student, she is still not going to teach them, especially if they are teaching out of field, as Dr. Ingersoll has suggested so many teachers are doing.
So let me ask you, in that study did they look at the quality of the teacher? If you just reduce the size with the same teacher and the teacher was not teaching before, she is not going to teach afterwards. Was it looked at in the class size where you say you reduced, was the teacher looked at to see if along with reducing the size you improved the quality of the teacher?
Mr. Hanushek. What I tried to do is review studies from a wide range of different sources, some of which do a fairly sophisticated job at measuring the quality of the teacher at the same time. What we find is that no matter how you cut it, the class size within the feasible ranges that we are talking about of, say, 15 to 40 do not have any systematic effect on student achievement. I think it is important to be very clear about this. My own personal belief is that there are some teachers, some groups of students and some classes for which smaller classes could be very, very beneficial. It is just that there are a large number of other teachers, other groups of students in other classes for which it has no impact and for which reducing class sizes across the board, as these general policies call for, are very inefficient and ineffective. If we could in fact reduce class size where it was important, that would be one thing. We do not know how to identify that.
Project STAR in Tennessee, this massive experiment that took class sizes from 23 students to 15, one-third reduction in class size, also looked at what teachers did in the classroom. The average teacher in Tennessee in this experiment did not do anything different with the smaller classes than the large classes. So if in some way you could insist that teachers did something different or you trained them perhaps you could do it. But alternatively, if you had a system that rewarded good performance and got principals to decide which teachers were particularly good with small groups of students and assigned them to them and let other classes be larger to compensate for the cost, I think we would be much further ahead.
Mr. Martinez. Sounds like a good idea. Let me ask the question of all of you, are any of you familiar with Jamie Escalante?
Mr. Hanushek. Yes.
Mr. Martinez. He was an alternative credentialed teacher. He was an engineer before he went to teach. His class size was about 20. He took 20 students and taught them advanced calculus in a school that nobody thought these students could achieve. But because of his personal attention with each student and the size that he could manage, he did something that was quite remarkable. Every one of these students passed the college exam for advanced calculus. Of course, it surprised so many people they accused the children of cheating. And they did not cheat and all but one retook the test and did better than the first time. And the one, on principle, did not take the test on principle because he didn't like being accused of cheating. So here is an example of a small class size with a teacher who understood the subject matter he was teaching, was successful in an area where success was not deemed possible.
Mr. Hanushek. The problem is that you have trouble distinguishing between what are the effects of smaller classes per se and what are the effects of Jamie Escalante. That is what the research has attempted to do, separate out those effects. The research has found that the separate effects of class size, when done in an overall way, which California has been doing and which the President has proposed, and which a number of States have also followed, you should not expect any average achievement gains. There will be some classes that gain, the Jamie Escalante classes, and there will be other classes that don't gain or maybe get worse.
Mr. Martinez. I think the coupling of the two is probably the key.
We may leave the record open so that we might, through written communication, get some of the answers to the other questions I have.
Mr. Peterson. [Presiding] I am Congressman Peterson, temporarily chairing for Congressman Riggs. It is my turn, so next will be Congressman Miller. I come from a retail business background for 26 years, plus State government background. But in the food business that I was in, your consumers drove change. I know we are never going to have that same competitive force. If my prices were not competitive, if my service was not good, if my products were not fresh, I lost business. They went somewhere else. We cannot bring that same competitive force, but I think we have some potential for evaluation from our customers that we totally pass by.
I want to ask you all, any one of you that want to respond, three questions. Peer review, teachers that I know in my system close to home, where my grandchildren go to school, know who the good teachers are and who the bad teachers are. Students know. Some of them, second generation, know who the good teachers are and who the bad teachers are. Maybe I shouldn't use poor teachers. Also the colleges know which schools are better preparing students for college.
So what would be wrong with saying, let us ask teachers anonymously, do a report every year, peer review, evaluating their peers and evaluating the principals and superintendents? That is done in all kinds of businesses. So now we have some, after three or four years, we would know, gee, Joe or Sue doesn't get a very good review. We need to work with them. What about student and parent review? What is wrong with that? Why can't--even if we went to the upper 50 percent or 25 percent, the best students, every student that comes in my congressional office I ask them to evaluate their education. They tell me all kinds of things. They tell me who the good teachers are and who are the ones that make class so interesting they look forward to going there. How about asking our colleges? Every time I sit down with a group of college professors, they complain to me that they are having to give more and more remedial courses for the students to meet the entrance level. That is measurable. We could have that measured and we would know which high schools have the least remedial education needed. It becomes a public record. They change. Anyone want to respond to those three issues?
Mr. Hanushek. I would certainly support the general view that we have to evaluate people more. It is also my impression, backed up by some research, not extensive research that everybody does in fact know who the good teachers are, the really good teachers and the really bad teachers, in a school. We are--currently we have no structure, no system in place to act on that knowledge. We could think of perhaps a peer review or other review processes. We know very little about how to structure those to maintain fairness, to get people to respond honestly to their review and, if it really counts, whether people change their position. That would be in line, I must say, with my general appeal to you. If you want to radically change education, think about a series of experimental contracts with things like peer review or other things akin to the experiments that the Federal Government did in the '60s and '70s in which we learned a lot. Or akin to what the practice of medicine bases most of its information on. You could in fact try to find out if we can put those systems in place. There is a lot of concern that it would not be fair, and in a lot of places it is prohibited by the contract.
Mr. Hickok. If I could comment briefly, I think your observation about coming from business and looking at education and the lack of competitiveness is a very important one. I think peer review is one of many things we should be doing. The fact is that the teaching profession is one of the last in the country where you can enter it at age 21, or whatever, and after two or three years, three years in Pennsylvania of effective teaching, you are guaranteed your job for the rest of your life. The evaluation process becomes a nonissue. People respond to incentives. If there are ways to provide incentives so you attract the best to the profession and then incentives to evaluate them in that profession and to improve their performance as they remain in that profession, then you are building a better school and a better education.
Right now most of education, I would include higher education, suffers from the lack of any kind of a bottom line. Peer review is a way to introduce that. I think you have to do other things in addition to that, but you need to find ways to hold teachers as well as students and, I would argue, professors accountable. We do not do a very good job of that in this country.
Mr. Ingersoll. I want to respond to your idea about having students evaluate teachers. As a college professor, I get evaluated by my students every course. All the professors do. And it definitely has an impact on our annual progress. I generally think it is a good idea, but sometimes I am a little uneasy. Some students could retaliate if they did not like that I gave them a D, for instance, and I think this problem could be even worse at the high school and elementary school level. A high school teacher is not just teaching content, they are also teaching behavior. These days they are doing a lot more of it. Student discipline is a real live problem. Getting evaluated by the same students that you had to discipline, that could lead to some unfairness. I would be very nervous as a high school teacher thinking that my job is on the line depending on how my students evaluated me. It may be another source of information. It certainly should not be the sole one.
I think the analogies with business may hold up. I suspect most retail businesses do not have employees evaluate management. Maybe sometimes. Do employees evaluate supervisors and could problems creep up with that? I just think that, I think it would be something that should be thought through very carefully, having students in high school, teenagers, evaluate their teachers and this having an effect on those teachers' careers.
Mr. Peterson. I would think it would be the heaviest weight, but I think there would be some average. Maybe if you went to the top 25 percent and got the privilege of evaluating their teachers, these are the brightest kids who are on their way someplace. I want to follow up one more quick point.
Teachers and students tell me in most schools that they are seldom evaluated. Years will go by where a superintendent or a principal does not sit in that classroom, years. So if you have a teacher, and I want to take back the word "bad teacher," but a teacher that is not relating to the student well. They may have the knowledge, they may have been taught to teach, but they just have not learned the skill of relating to students and exciting students. If you don't evaluate, if nobody is in a classroom for four years and a teacher has slid into a bad habit and is kind of coasting on, those students are being shortchanged.
It just seems amazing that in the majority of schools nobody is observing teachers. You could have an excellent teacher who has developed an excellent skill that could be spread throughout the school, and that is not used either. You are wasting someone who has really developed a new technique and it is wasted. The other thing was the alternative Ed. Teachers tell me when you have more than three or four troubled students it is very difficult to teach. I think that is a whole other issue.
Mr. Hirsch. Mr. Chairman, I think I forgot what I wanted to say because you changed the subject. I want to go back to the general issue of why smaller class size works in some cases and why it does not work in others and why it works in some countries who have large classes and not so much in the United States. That is because--for one thing just take the issue of social promotion, which is rampant in the United States. That means that you have a lot of children in an individual class that have greatly diverse preparation for being in that class and a great range of readiness to learn. That makes it very difficult to teach the whole class effectively in an interactive way. Yet that is the optimal way to teach that group. But if you cannot do it because of a really impossible range of preparation, then you have to have either class sizes or small groups, which means that for a large part of the time many of those students are being neglected, which is why the performance as a whole is not very good.
So it does seem to me that the whole issue is a much more complex one that relates to how we make sure that every child enters a class ready to learn what that class has to offer, which is a much more fundamental issue than the structural one of class size.
Mr. Peterson. Thank you.
Mr. Miller. I thank the panel for their testimony. I hope we will have a second round. Right now Secretary Hickok, I want to commend you for the changes that you outlined to us with respect to your schools of education and your new requirements. I think it is terribly important that we start to look at that kind of content.
One, are you considering class size reduction in Pennsylvania?
Mr. Hickok. We are talking about it like I think everybody is talking about it. I think Pennsylvania probably has some great challenges in that area. My sense of it, I would share the observations made by Dr. Hanushek. I think it is not a silver bullet. I can think of outstanding examples of teaching in large classes and some pretty poor teaching in small classes. We are looking at it, but it is going to be a debate.
Mr. Miller. I assume you would not want us to mandate it from the Federal level?
Mr. Hickok. No.
Mr. Miller. I just wanted to get that on the record, since I am not sure we should either. I am not sure that makes any sense. It is a very expensive proposition. We have done it in California and now of course politically, because it was popular in grades 1 through 3, we decided that 4 would be better and 5 may be great. I think it does raise serious questions because it does get back to the core subject that was brought up here earlier.
I think it is important, but I think you have to do these other things with it. If you just have a poor teacher spending more time with the students, that is no good. It is like lengthening the school day. If they spend more time with a bad teacher, then I am not sure we have done a great deal. But I want to come back to that on the other round. I was interested in your remarks on NCATE at the end of your statement, if you could elaborate on that. Obviously a lot of States are buying into that. A lot of local jurisdictions are providing incentives for teachers to participate in this process, but you seem to have a little bit different take on it.
Mr. Hickok. I think that there has been a lot of talk about NCATE, a lot of talk about National Board certification of teachers. As I understand, the President has talked about that. We have looked at both of those things. I am not saying they are not good things, but the fact is, I don't know where the evidence is that relates National Board certification or NCATE-accredited programming to, again, an educational bottom line producing better teachers. It is as though we think it is a good idea and we want to see the accreditation there, but we don't know why. I have asked my colleges of education that very question. I still have not received any kind of data that suggests to me that there is a relationship.
Mr. Miller. What do you think is going on there? One of the arguments for it is that it is not just certification, but a process of evaluating how you are teaching and a self-analysis of what is transpiring in your classroom, and that this is in fact a very valuable process. It seems to me a very expensive way to get that process accomplished. And then I wonder if it is not a way to get some demarcation, so you could justify paying this individual more because they have gone through this rigorous process. I don't quite know what is going on.
Mr. Hickok. I think part of it is process, the notion that you look at the curriculum, you look at the courses, you look at the placement. I am trying to figure out what the relationship is between all those processes and the substance of producing a content rich teacher. I don't see that relationship.
The other thing I would argue is that I think one of the reasons there is more and more talk about this is, and I will let others speak about this, is that it is a profession. Most professions police themselves. And hence the teaching profession should police itself. State departments of education should not do it. The Federal Government should not do it. Teachers should do it through these various organizations. I have no problem with that. But I think this is a very unique profession.
In a democracy, teachers sit at the very heart of the creation of good citizens. It is not enough for this profession to police itself. It is very important for the citizens, for the parents, for the taxpayers, for the employers to have a role in policing that profession because they are the ones who in the end have the most at stake, the parents and students and future citizens. So my concern is not that NCATE is bad. There are many NCATE institutions in Pennsylvania. It is not enough. We should always have a higher standard that reflects the particular needs we feel of the citizens of Pennsylvania.
Mr. Miller. Good answer. Let me ask another question. I alluded to it in my opening statement. That is, I think we put forth about almost $2 billion for students who are engaged in schools of education and getting a credential. And it has been testified here and is now nationally a discussion that we did not have over the past decade. These schools are pretty deplorable in terms of the product that they turn out, not that these are bad people but this is a lousy education for matching you with the classroom. Do we not have a right to insist on some minimal standards here when we are putting $2 billion into a system? You can walk through the history of mathematics as opposed to basic math or algebra, or what have you, that that suffices to make you an elementary teacher so you can teach math at third, fourth, fifth, sixth grade levels. I consider it a fraud in very harsh terms, that there is a fraud being perpetrated here. We are financing a big chunk of it.
Mr. Hickok. I have to agree with you in large part. I think that there is lots of talk in this country about higher standards for students. There is talk about a national test for students. But at the same time we are talking about that, we certainly should be talking about that for teachers, not just preparing teachers but also teachers who are in service.
Mr. Miller. This is obviously an ideological debate, the Federal Government coming in and setting some standards, but then again we are putting up $2 billion in the system. It is your system. There is the State system in California, Pennsylvania, what have you, it is the schools of education, but we are financing a big chunk of that education. How do we get those? What do we demand? Do we demand it from you as the Secretary or from the State? Is there some minimal certification that you are going to have once the system is in place? What about Pennsylvania or somebody else, who is trying to improve the system? Or do we just keep funding those States that don't want to do anything with their schools of education?
Mr. Hickok. I think the Federal Government has every right and good reason to demand the Department of Education in Pennsylvania and the counterparts in the other States that if they are involved with certifying teacher preparation programs and certifying teachers they are about quality control, and they have some rigorous standards. We owe it to our citizens to make sure we do that. I would also say that perhaps what you might want to think about doing, as opposed to just having those standards out there with Federal funds, as Dr. Hirsch mentioned, talk about alternative approaches to preparing teachers and perhaps do not drive so much money to the schools of education. Drive it directly to those young people who want to become teachers but are thinking about doing it in a different way or going through a different kind of program. Think about different models you might support to find different ways of preparing teachers. I think accountability, you have a real obligation there.
Mr. Miller. Thank you.
Mr. Peterson. Next the gentleman from Texas, Representative Johnson.
Mr. Johnson. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I was interested in your comments about teachers policing themselves. I wonder how you would accommodate that and furthermore, Mr. Miller, I am not sure that we do fund the schools very heavily. At least Texas is not getting their fair share if that is true.
Mr. Miller. I was just referring to loans and grants of students that are going through there and whether or not we are putting up the money for that.
Mr. Johnson. Well, that may be true. I don't know how we assess quality in that regard, but how do you get rid of the bad teachers? You got teachers’ unions. You have the system that protects them. You even, in most of the systems, correct me if I am wrong, upgrade them to higher administrative positions and take them out of the teaching profession but you keep them in the schools. Good teachers are done the same way. You don't keep a teacher in the classroom. You keep moving them up. Maybe you take a lot of coaches and make teachers out of them. I don't know. How do you determine whether a teacher has a skill to teach reading, for example, and make sure the kids read in the first, second and third grade?
Mr. Hickok. If I had the answer to that problem, I think I would be a wealthy man. Part of the problem is, first of all, that we have been told for generations a very interesting message. The teacher is the single most important person in the classroom. That is what we need, to pay them more, give them tenure, keep them there. Then we are told-
Mr. Johnson. But if you give them tenure you can't get rid of them if they turn bad.
Mr. Hickok. But then we are told, you can't blame a teacher if the students don't learn. Now, that does not seem to make sense to me.
Mr. Johnson. That is a dichotomy, yes.
Mr. Hickok. I think you need to be able to develop ways to evaluate the quality of teaching. You can borrow it from higher education where faculty is evaluated every two years with a variety of different instruments, peer review, student review, external review by faculty from other institutions. You can do that with secondary teachers.
Mr. Johnson. Would you favor then recertification every period of time, say four years, and not giving them tenure per se?
Mr. Hickok. Right now in Pennsylvania there is legislation being considered that would require teachers to be recertified every five years to remain in the classroom, and to be able to be recertified they would have to go through professional development activities and higher evaluation.
Mr. Johnson. How often do you do that?
Mr. Hickok. Every five years.
Mr. Johnson. Do you think that is adequate?
Mr. Hickok. Well, it is moving in the right direction. I don't know if it is going to prove to be adequate or not. I think it is a very positive step for Pennsylvania in the right direction. Pennsylvania is not alone there. A lot of States have already done that. I look at this profession and maybe I am a little different here, but I see this profession very differently in the 21st century. The model that we borrowed, I think, is the notion that someone stays in the classroom forever. But the fact is in a dynamic, changing society I could see teachers in the classroom and then going out into the workplace and people from the workplace coming into the classroom because the teacher is trying to prepare young people to be engaged citizens. That is different from a faculty person in higher education who is trying to provide discipline, course work in a discipline. I think the profession needs to open itself up to all kinds of dramatic and exciting change that is going to take place. As opposed to sticking to the notion that you get tenure and you stay in the classroom and the evaluation process is limited if not weak, if not absent.
Mr. Johnson. You mentioned that Pennsylvania may be a little behind some of the other States. Do you agree that the Federal Government ought to keep their hands out of your business?
Mr. Hickok. I am an old-fashioned Federalist in the sense that I am a very big fan of States. Education has always been primarily a State responsibility. I think all of us need to do a better job with that responsibility. But I would like to keep it there with the States.
Mr. Johnson. So you would probably agree, the funding should be block granted to the States and let you use it where you need it the most?
Mr. Hickok. I think it always depends on the details, but overall I think a block grant approach is preferable at most times.
Mr. Johnson. Which could include teacher training?
Mr. Hickok. Yes.
Mr. Johnson. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Peterson. The gentleman from Virginia, Mr. Scott.
Mr. Scott. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. As I indicated in my opening statement, I view teaching as more of an art than a science. It is very difficult to set out certain criteria to show how much a person knows and convert that into the fact that they might actually be a good teacher. We have had some testimony about out-of-field teaching. Let me ask, does it make any difference for a middle school teacher whether or not they have a Master's or a Ph.D. in mathematics in terms of their ability to teach middle school math?
Mr. Hanushek. I can tell you the overall results that look at the effects of Master's Degrees or graduate training on teacher performance, and there is nothing that has such little impact on achievement overall as graduate education for teachers.
Mr. Miller. When you say graduate education-
Mr. Hanushek. Master's Degrees or Doctorate Degree, advanced degrees. So that if you look at the variation in the education of teachers, it has nothing to do with how well students learn in a particular classroom.
Mr. Scott. How does that correlate with requiring the difference between the 2.5 or a 3.0? How is that going to translate into picking the best people to be the teachers?
Mr. Hickok. One thing we are trying to emphasize in our requirements is content-based course work, not education course work. I think you are referring to a Master's or Doctorate in Education and whether that has any relationship to improved teaching. We think that at least starting out, you need to demonstrate academic excellence. And then demonstrate that throughout your entire undergraduate career. Once you are a teacher--I tend to agree with your comments that once you are a teacher, the skills you might need in the classroom, especially in the middle school years, which are challenging years, need to reflect--the advanced work you do needs to reflect the skills you need in the classroom. Some of that will be content based, depending on what you teach, but some of that very well might be pedagogy, it might be all kinds of methods courses. It may not be graduate work. It may be other kinds of preparation.
Mr. Scott. Whether you’ve got a 2.5 or a 3.0 or a 3.5 in advanced college mathematics, is that as major a factor in your ability to teach as some teachers will have a class that is disciplined and the same children with a different teacher will be totally undisciplined? Chaos in the classroom, some teachers have it and some don't. Isn't that more of a measurement than whether you had a 2.5 or a 3.5 in college?
Mr. Hickok. We think you need both.
Mr. Hirsch. I want to support what the Secretary said. The idea that there is a dichotomy or, put it this way, the idea that you don't need the content knowledge because you have the ability to control the class is no more valid, I think, than the idea that the content alone is sufficient.
Mr. Scott. I think you have to have the content at a certain level. You have to know what you are teaching. Whether you have a B-minus or an A-plus, in my judgment, is of less value than the kind of artistic idea that you can go into a class and kids behave themselves and sit up and learn because they are interested, rather than falling asleep or the teacher teaching this great A-plus knowledge to the front row only.
Mr. Hickok. Again I guess I think both matter. One of the things we are trying to argue for, and this is I think a reason for the grade point average, is that you are trying to make sure that when a teacher enters a classroom, they are an example of academic excellence. They need to be able to instill that in the student. And a lot of A students are not A teachers and a lot of A teachers were not A students. You need to have wiggle room for both of those things. Overall we think you need to set the bar high for the profession in the next century.
Mr. Scott. This evaluation every 5 years, what will you evaluate?
Mr. Hickok. Right now the proposed legislation looks at professional development, which would be course work or in-service work or attempts on the part of a teacher now in service to maintain their knowledge of their discipline and their profession. So it is a combination of content and pedagogy. Also teaching evaluations done by the district, usually worked out with the school board through local contracts.
Mr. Scott. Did the students learn?
Mr. Hickok. That would be part of the evaluation, certainly. I should point out that the local school board, when it puts together the professional development evaluation of teachers, has to make sure that you have parents and employers from the school district as part of that team because we recognize how important it is that they have a role in professional development as well.
Mr. Scott. How much of this is selecting the right people and how much of it is preparation?
Mr. Hickok. A lot of it is selecting the right people to become teachers. As someone mentioned earlier, that is a very big issue in Pennsylvania and I think across the country. We know most outstanding teachers were good students. They are engaged in professional development, are engaging in the classroom and are delivering great results. Most of what we are talking about here is to deal with the teachers who are not doing that right now and providing incentives for them to raise their bar of achievement.
Chairman Riggs. Congressman Deal.
Mr. Deal. Gentlemen, would you outline for me the top three disincentives for potential young people not going into the teaching profession?
Mr. Ingersoll. Well, we have heard a lot about how this is a highly esteemed occupation and teachers are missionaries and they are very important. That is true. But also this is not a high status occupation in this society. For instance, my first teaching experiences were in Canada and then I moved back here to the States. I grew up in Delaware. I was really shocked, the difference between the teaching job there and here. It was like day and night. Salary was lower. It was less respect in a sense. It is not a high status occupation in society. It is not well paid. But those actually are not the worst things. The worst things and the data clearly tell us that teachers' largest gripe is student discipline problems. It is very unpleasant to work with clientele, students are clientele in a sense, who are often rude. That is a tough one. That is one of the things that drives the fact that in the first few years very high rates of teachers leave. This is an occupation that has very high, abnormally high turnover rates in the first several years and then it levels off. So I don't know if I listed three, but there are several there.
Mr. Deal. Thank you. As the husband of a sixth grade middle school teacher, I think I agree with you. I hear that every day. Lack of status. That is not as important to some of course. Salary obviously is an incentive. Lack of student discipline, I think everybody would agree, is very high on the list of disincentives for entering the profession as well as reasons for leaving the profession for those who have entered it many times.
Do you as an individual or the panel have recommendations as to what can be done with regard to student discipline? Of course, we hear complaints that many of the programs we have created at the Federal level have created problems in terms of discipline. We have attempted to reform IDEA and give some greater flexibility there. Do you have some comments on this?
I think that is probably one of the major reasons for people not wanting to enter the profession, the experiences they have had as students as well as the horror stories that they hear coming out of classrooms.
Do you have some suggestions that we should consider to deal with that problem, if it is possible to deal with it at the Federal level?
Mr. Hanushek. I would make one short comment and that is as you start to get into questions of things like classroom management and what goes on in the classroom, it appears that the Federal government is particularly ill-equipped to deal with those questions. The attempts that you make, because they are noble objectives and things that we worry about, you write regulations, which often terribly constrain schools from doing good because they have to meet a certain set of regulations. This is an example of one kind of thing that I don't think the Federal Government should be very involved with in terms of the regulatory system. It might provide various incentive mechanisms and so on, if you think that is a national problem as opposed to a State or local problem, but not in terms of regulations.
Mr. Hirsch. Just to comment about underlying causes, discipline problems, the groups, the two groups that tend to create discipline problems in a classroom are both the high achievers on one end who are bored and the low achievers who are humiliated. And one of the great important things that the Federal Government indirectly might take a hand in, is to make sure that people come into a classroom academically prepared for that next grade. That is a province of the States, too, of course, mainly of the States, but I think that strings could be attached in a general way that would reduce some of these root problems. Just as class size is a reflection of the diversity of academic preparation, so are discipline problems partly a reflection of unevenness and diversity in classroom preparation.
Mr. Deal. Could I ask you in that regard, one of the things that education departments and education instructors have said is we need to mainstream all students, the mainstreaming versus the ability to separate those two groups out and deal with them individually. Has that attitude in the education community changed any?
Mr. Hirsch. No, but I think that again you need to draw a distinction between the early grades where there is a lot of evidence through international comparisons that tracking is not needed and later grades where it appears to be desirable.
Mr. Hickok. If I could briefly mention two things: In Pennsylvania we have a variety of programs, alternative education, one of which is to get disruptive students out of the classroom. We make sure they get an education, and they are not undermining the education of everyone else. We have the safe schools initiative. But I would argue that the problem we see in this country with discipline in schools is a reflection of a lower standard of discipline generally. What I try to deal with is, and we talk about it in Pennsylvania, is empowering teachers, school boards, let them go back and take charge of that responsibility a little bit more and demand and have higher expectations for discipline in school. And have students and parents, who have to be full partners in this become partners in that expectation. We have seen it work in some surprising settings.
Mr. Deal. Thank you.
Chairman Riggs. Congressman Roemer.
Mr. Roemer. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield briefly to the gentleman from Virginia.
Mr. Scott. I just would make a comment, I would hope we don't blame the students for not learning. If they are disruptive, we want to empower the teachers to deal with disruptive students so they stop being disruptive. I would hope that we are not going to blame the victim.
Mr. Roemer. I thank the expert panelists today. This has been a fascinating hour and a half. I hope we do get a second round with you. Before I ask my three questions, I want to preface some criticism of the teaching profession by saying that as a former teacher, some of the most dedicated and talented and energetic and enthusiastic people that I have run into have been in the teaching profession. Working very hard in the teaching profession, sometimes as young people, other times for the last 25 years. Obviously we need more of those people. We need to find some way to keep those kinds of people in the education system, to train those kinds of people for the education system that we have today and for some of the problems that we encounter in our society. Given that testimony to some of the great people that we have in the education system-- as I go around to our schools, more and more of the high school students that I talk to, and I have only been in Congress 7 years now, it seems like in those 7 years that it has changed dramatically when I ask high school students who their heroes are. More and more of them are saying a teacher than they were even six or seven years ago, if they are lucky, if they have run into a teacher that has made a difference.
The statistics that we see are frightening. They are frightening in my home State of Indiana. The percent of high school classes and high minority classes taught by teachers lacking even a minor in the subject is almost 25 percent. One-quarter of the teachers in high minority schools are taught by teachers lacking even a minor in a subject. The percentage of math teachers in my home State without a minor in mathematics, 30 percent. I think that we have got some very big problems here.
I guess my three questions to our expert panelists would be, one, how do we improve the quality of the existing teaching force? What is your single or two best ideas for the existing teachers that are out there? We cannot just fire 25 percent of the teachers. Secondly, how do we produce better teachers? I see that in this report, "What Matters Most: Teaching for America's Future," on page 22 we have a continuum of learning taught at the University of Cincinnati that seems to be interesting. And in the Higher Education Bill, Title V, we are looking at some different proposals for shaking up the system. And thirdly, what is the single best way to attract the best people to go into high poverty and high minority districts to teach, where we have such a big problem today with recruiting into these areas?
Mr. Hickok. I think one thing you can do with teachers who are there is to work with the best and the brightest in the classroom, to help them develop, for others in the classroom who are not delivering at that level, ideas and programs. The fact is it is human nature. But I think people respond to a challenge. One of the reasons I think the teaching profession is viewed the way it is right now, in spite of the fact there are outstanding teachers out there, is because a lot of people look at it as a lesser profession. That has an effect on a teacher. In addition, if there is no way to provide incentives once you are in the classroom to reward outstanding performance--you always talk about trying to get the bad teachers out of the classroom. We don't do enough to reward the outstanding teachers. We need to find ways to do that.
Mr. Roemer. How do you reward them?
Mr. Hickok. I think if you talk to teachers, I should preface all this by saying that this initiative we are doing in Pennsylvania started with a conversation with teachers. It was not started by me or anybody else but a conversation with teachers. What they tell me is not necessarily merit pay, although that might be one of the ingredients, but recognition of their success through various kinds of rewards, awards, classroom assignments, for example the way they might do extra field trips. The thing that matters to good teachers is the chance to be good teachers.
Mr. Roemer. How do you attract the best teachers into some of the high minority, high poverty areas?
Mr. Hickok. I know what I think does not work as well, at least in Pennsylvania, is scholarships that have as a condition that states if you go into a poor school district or an urban city school district, then your scholarship will not have to be repaid. That has not had ant effect in Pennsylvania. We have not been able to recruit people to go into those districts based on those scholarships. What we think has a tendency to work there is, again tap human nature, let individuals recognize the unique status of providing an education in those very challenging professions. Don't be bogged down with the notion that you have to have all these certification requirements. Alternatives to certification has been able to attract a lot of good, qualified people to urban districts because they are there. They want to contribute. They want to make a difference, but they are not allowed to because they don't have certificates.
Mr. Roemer. Could I ask Mr. Hirsch to answer the same question?
Mr. Hirsch. One of the specific recommendations in my written testimony is to provide incentives for in-service training, which is the main way teachers, except in the summertime, learn alternatives, improve their knowledge and their skills, tie some strings to those financial incentives so that they are focused on subject matter. So you get the equivalent of a minor in math, if you need that knowledge, through in-service training which does not focus on process. Right now most of the in-service are called Mickey Mouse affairs by teachers. There is a whole industry of people out there who are purveying that snake oil. There are many people ready and eager to provide, these are very popular with teachers, very solid content-oriented in-service training in the subject matter. I think that would be the single most effective way of improving the knowledge base of the existing teachers.
Mr. Hanushek. Could I add quickly, I think that instead of trying to prepare the teachers more at the extremes, you just have to select good teachers and reward them highly. Right now we don't reward particularly effective teachers in the inner city schools. We treat them as if they are failing, because some of their students are achieving a low-grade level, even though they may be extraordinarily good at their job. Reward good teachers as opposed to trying to change bad teachers. I subscribe to the view that it probably has nothing to do with the training they got but with the skill the people brought to the job. You just want to keep the good ones and reroute the bad ones to other occupations.
Chairman Riggs. Dr. Hanushek, I want to compliment you on your longitudinal research. I assume that we don't have enough data yet on the California experiment in classroom size reduction to make any conclusions.
Mr. Hanushek. If I might add, we will never know anything from California. That is the unfortunate thing. We have spent a billion dollars a year and we will never be able to assess it because everybody in the State reduced class sizes at the same time. So unless you think that this year's performance can be compared to last year's performance and that the only thing that changed was class size, we will never know anything about that. That is the--what I think is the pity of the way this was done and the difference between Tennessee. Tennessee did not answer all the questions, but it set out to try to find out whether this was going to have an effect or not as opposed to just declaring it for everybody.
Chairman Riggs. I am assuming that you are saying that we will not be able to make any conclusions even though that would be the largest variable as you look at the years as classroom sizes are reduced versus past years.
Mr. Hanushek. Yes, I am saying that. Because in fact what has happened is that as California introduced its plan, it did it very suddenly without expectation by districts. There was a lot of rushing around to buy temporary classrooms and buy temporary teachers. There were some districts that were slow getting started. Is that because they were smarter or dumber in their reactions to this? And the immediate effects will not be any long run effects. If we wait five years, then a lot of things have changed, not just the class size. The way it has been done, people in some education schools will go around and they will survey teachers and the teachers will tell you uniformly that smaller classes are better and they feel they are doing a more effective job, but we will never have scientific evidence on that.
Chairman Riggs. It occurs to me that we were remiss not to invite a Department of Education official to appear with you today on this particular panel because we will have to get at the underpinnings, the theoretical or methodological underpinnings of the President's budget proposal. I don't want to believe that that is simply another poll driven initiative that has a good political sound bite.
Mr. Hirsch, you have done some tremendous work, particularly focusing on our inner city schools. Are the problems that we have talked about today with respect to finding and keeping good teachers exacerbated in the inner cities, in our urban centers? And if so, why is that?
Mr. Hirsch. Yes, but my experience in the inner city has been with the particular reform that I am associated with, which is grade by grade rich content in those schools. Certainly we see that everybody's morale tends to improve if students come into a classroom prepared for what that grade has to offer and also the parents know exactly what their children are supposed to be learning. People think that that exists in school districts now. It does not. It is pretty much the teacher closes the door and it is up to the individual teacher what goes on. So that when you introduce, when all the teachers in an urban school get on board with that kind of reform, it tends to reduce all kinds of difficulties, and that is why I mentioned there are so many, as Professor Hanushek mentioned, there are so many variables there. Our experience is a rich curriculum, well defined in urban schools, which has a tremendous invigorating effect, both on performance but also on closing the gap between disadvantaged and advantaged students, the social equity issue. I don't know whether that is the issue you wanted me to raise.
Chairman Riggs. I am glad you did. Let me ask a follow-up to that, and that is this subcommittee in field hearings and here in Washington has heard a lot of testimony about the success of parochial schools, Catholic schools in the inner cities. The data suggests that they are every bit as ethnically or racially diverse as public schools. I am wondering, from your broad perspective, why do Catholic schools succeed where so many public schools fail? How much of that can be attributed to teachers?
Mr. Hirsch. To go into a parochial school, parents have to choose to do something different so you already have a variable there, which complicates the issue, parents who are very concerned about their children. But my belief is that strong discipline and strong subject matter orientation in the parochial schools, which are very much at odds with the "let the child grow as a plant" principle that I described, which dominates in public schools, will account for a lot of the improved performance in the parochial schools.
Chairman Riggs. Mr. Secretary?
Mr. Hickok. Briefly, I could take you to a school in inner city Baltimore, a school that up until a few years ago, an elementary school, that was having a very difficult time. It was failing. The principal was bothered by that. The principal walked down the road to a private school where everyone was doing well, took that curriculum, brought it back to her elementary school. It was content driven. The performance of the students began to improve. The morale of the school began to improve. Parents became more involved. It is a model of excellence. That just backs up the point that he just made. And that is high expectations, a sense of mission. You typically find some outstanding individuals ready to take that mission and move it forward. And once you brake that cycle, good things happen. I could take you to that school today, and I think the fifth grade writing would stun most of the members of this panel.
Chairman Riggs. Let me ask you another question on that, I think it would be of interest to all my colleagues, many of those private inner city schools, granted the majority of them are religious or parochial, teachers are paid less, sometimes considerably less than what their public school counterparts earn. Have you observed that and, if so, what does that suggest to us about the correlation between compensation and quality in teaching and instruction?
Mr. Hickok. Well, let me clarify, the school I was talking about was a public school. You are right. Philadelphia, for example, has a large number of private parochial schools and on average the teachers are paid less. On average the students do better. The point, I guess, is that everyone is there because they want to be. Teachers are willing to be paid less because they feel they will get some professional fulfillment that they cannot get somewhere else. I am not saying that that is the model we can turn to or anything, but it seems to me we could learn from that.
Chairman Riggs. That also makes a pretty good argument for parental choice, but I won't go there.
I want to get to Congressman Kildee. Let me conclude by making a couple of observations. One, I think we have to require higher expectations and standards of students and teachers alike. I really believe that those standards have to be, should be, set at the State and local level. Secondly, we have another concern and I would love to have the chance to chat with you or get you to respond to this question in writing. We had a field hearing last week in southern California about a growing nationwide concern, and that is the 350 to 400,000 unfilled information technology positions in the work force. Our hearing coincided with an article in USA Today saying that this booming economy continues to create these jobs, which for the most part are high-wage, high skilled jobs. They require a certain level of technological capability and computer literacy. In fact, we heard in our hearing from a couple of employers who, even though we were there to focus on technology and education, who also were arguing for a change in our current Federal employment-based immigration policy.
I am wondering how technology is affecting our schools and whether or not we are doing a good job teaching teachers how to use technology, because there are those that suggest technology is revolutionizing the teaching profession. My question is, is there a correlation, for all four of you briefly, is there a correlation between incentive or merit pay programs and the recruitment and retention of high quality teachers? Let us start with you and go right down the panel.
Mr. Hickok. I don't know of enough merit pay programs out there that they can give me, others might have the answer, that give me any data sizable enough, that have been there long enough that I can tell you the answer to that question. To me it is a kind of common sense issue. If you know going into a position that you will be evaluated and rewarded for outstanding performance, that tends to attract a certain kind of person. If you know going into a system that after a certain number of years you have got job security, no matter how well you do, that tends to attract a certain kind of person. And I typically would like to make sure that I am attracting the best and brightest.
Mr. Hirsch. I second those comments. I don't know any data, but I do think evaluation and accountability all along the way is very important.
Mr. Hanushek. I subscribe to the Secretary's comments also, that differentiated treatment is very good. I don't think that there is any evidence that merit pay per se attracts computer specialists or any specific specialist. As we have done merit pay, we have tried it in a lot of districts around the country. It has generally failed, in part because it has been very small differentials. There has been a lot of resistance to merit pay, in part by the teachers. And it has been driven out in most school systems. So the kinds of merit pay that you might be thinking of probably have not been tried. It has been a very small differential that is not going to attract computer programmers.
The second part of your comment that has been discussed, I first saw it discussed in a 1959 publication about the shortage of math and science teachers in the country. That publication suggested that because outside opportunities for math and science teachers are considerably larger than those for other teachers in the school system, we should perhaps pay slightly different amounts to people in those fields to try to attract them from the outside. We have not done that with math and science teachers. Instead, the argument has been we should raise all teachers' salaries, because why should math and science teachers, just because they are in more demand outside, be paid more? The result is that you either pay more than you have to for teachers in general or you get bad math and science teachers. The same holds, I think, for information technology and other related jobs where there is a much stronger job market on the outside. You have to think that you are competing away from other businesses and opportunities of these people if you want good people in your schools.
Mr. Ingersoll. Well, there is kind of a contradiction here. We are talking about upgrading this work force and getting the best and brightest. This would suggest we need to bring up the generally low salaries. There is nothing wrong with trying to pay for merit and performance. That really should not be a substitute for making this a decent paying occupation in general.
The other comment I want to make on this is that there seems to be a tendency to think of teachers as the problem here. They are not doing a very good job, et cetera. Certainly there is bad teaching, but a lot of the bad teaching is a result of the environment that teachers are teaching in. You can have all the wonderful training in the world, but if you are in a situation where there are a tremendous amount of discipline problems, if you are in a situation where you are assigned to teach things out of your field, this is not going to make for quality teaching. So we not only need to address, if we want to improve teacher quality in this country, not only do we need to look at the teacher but also where they are working. And there are things we can do. A lot of this may well be out of Federal jurisdiction, but I wanted to make a plug for the "parental right to know" clause which is in a couple bills, including Representative Miller's?
The "parental right to know" clause is basically, I think, a terrific idea because it will shed light on what has always been a dirty little secret. This issue of out-of-field teaching. Parents have never known about it. If you bring it to light, it will force some accountability. It will force schools to deal with it. Perhaps it calls for greater training programs, it calls for recruitment. Perhaps it calls for better management of your human resources. I just think it is misplaced if we focus all of our attention on fixing teachers and not fixing the places in which they work.
Chairman Riggs. Thank you.
Mr. Kildee. Thank you. I appreciate this hearing today; I wish I could have attended all of it. I know the testimony given today will be very helpful also to Chairman McKeon and myself as we draft the teacher training section of the higher education bill. I do appreciate very much your testimony and I yield to the gentleman from California.
Mr. Martinez. I just wanted to respond to the idea of Catholic schools and teachers, and why the students do better there.
I think, Mr. Hirsch, in the written testimony that you submitted, you hit it right on the head when you said, for many decades now a natural process has been stressed over artificial knowledge in our elementary schools. This has been a disservice to all our children, this is the key, but most of all to disadvantaged children who receive little enabling knowledge, which they need, from their homes.
The parent that sends his kid to Catholic school is a parent that generally knows the value of education and cares about the education of their children. They send them there. The teachers that go and teach there, they know they don't have to deal with the discipline problem because in most Catholic schools if they have a discipline problem, they kick the kid out. They don't care. But in the public schools, they have to deal with those children because laws have been passed that say you have to deal with them.
I have a personal experience in my own family where my nephew was kicked out of three Catholic schools until one priest said, "no, we are going to deal with him". We finally found someone in the Catholic school system that would deal with a problem child. Do you know what that young man is today? He is a doctor because they dealt with the problem.
That is the difference. Why do Catholic schools do better? I don't think it really has that much to do with curriculum. Curriculums are pretty much alike.
I sent my five children to parochial school. Then they got their choice, whether they would continue on in parochial school or to go public school. All except one chose public school. They did as well as the one that stayed in parochial school.
So I think that we have to understand something, the problems that we are dealing with here may improve the quality of the teacher. And we may improve the quality of the school, but if we don't involve and empower the parents--and I think you alluded to this, Mr. Hirsch-- the parents have to be involved. Without that element in it, we can do all the improvement we want and the kid still is not going to learn. The parents are an important and essential part of that.
Mr. Kildee. I yield back.
Chairman Riggs. I understand that Congressman Miller wanted to propose a follow-up.
Mr. Miller. I think the points raised by Mr. Hirsch and Dr. Ingersoll really have got to become part of this debate. When we’re all done getting the well-trained and motivated teacher into a classroom, if a teacher is dealing with a range of students in terms of their abilities, they are sort of doing triage, trying to hold some kids together. And I have spent enough time with fifth and sixth grade teachers who inherit children that have no ability to read at grade level, no ability to compute at grade level, or do any tasks that would be required of them. Yet they are in a classroom with other children, as you point out, those who are highly motivated and those who are deeply frustrated. That starts your discipline problem.
The number of teachers that I encounter are so angry about teaching out of their field and doing so on short notice and doing so without any opportunity for preparation. This is really a fraud perpetrated on parents, and it is a very difficult thing because people get sick. Their spouses get transferred. You have pregnancies, illnesses. Okay, you still have got to have people who are competent to teach in those core areas. That is your mandate. When you consider the time you spend with substitutes, when you consider all of the rest of it, the numbers start to get alarming.
In terms of the time spent on tasks with a competent teacher, you are really talking about what becomes almost a de minimis period of time when you take into account the lack of discipline. And that students are not prepared to achieve the tasks that supposedly are going to be achievable in that fifth grade section. I just want to make sure that those were not glossed over in all of this discussion about individual teachers, because that is the environment that the teachers find themselves in.
I think we have got to look at education as a process. I think we look at it as a place. Every Monday I teach in a continuation high school. I have honor students who have been thrown out of schools. I have kids that come off the county farm. Yet we still insist that they are eleventh graders, twelfth graders or sophomores, and that has nothing to do with their ability.
It seems to me that somehow, if we learn from business and technology, there is a process here. You have either acquired skills and tasks and achievements and you have moved on, or you have not. We have social promotion. It is just a total lack of recognition of what the individual student has achieved at a given period of time or has not achieved.
I think we can reduce the class size, we can do all of this, but if you continue to put children in classrooms that don't have a real chance at completing the work, we are just wasting another year of their time.
As we concentrate on teachers, I think we also have to concentrate on the environment in which they are then asked to do their job. It raises much more difficult social and political questions than perhaps even the skills and thresholds for teachers.
I really appreciate this panel's spending time with us this morning, this afternoon and the rest of the day.
Chairman Riggs. That is our second panel of witnesses that you are referring to. I thank Congressman Miller and I will exercise Chairman's prerogative to have the last word.
How culpable are American teachers today in this problem of social promotion? A brief comment from each of the four of you.
Mr. Hickok. I think the problem is not to be placed at the seat of the teachers any less than the parents, any less than the taxpayers. The fact is that as a system all the different actors in that system respond to whatever incentives are available. For far too long there has been plenty of incentive to move kids through whether or not they are prepared, and every one sort of blinks and turns the other way. You cannot blame a teacher for that, if that is what the system sort of produces and provides an incentive to produce.
I think it is very, very good that we as a Nation are stopping the process of blinking and turning the other way. Recognizing that when we do that, the person who really is the victim is the student. The student who one day ends up without a good education, without a good job and, therefore, everyone else's responsibility but his own. I don't think we blame teachers. I think it is a systemic problem.
Mr. Hirsch. I was very glad to see Sandra Feldman, new President of the American Federation of Teachers, make a strong statement against social promotion. It was very welcome. Another reason not to blame teachers is that teachers have been indoctrinated with the idea that much worse than social promotion is something called retention. They are told universally in schools of education that, quote, "research has shown that retention is very bad for children". Of course in our current circumstances those are the two possibilities, retention or social promotion. Of the two, one hopes that that sentiment is shifting towards the idea that social promotion is even worse than retention. But most of all we know that retention is not necessary. At least retention is desirable perhaps in some of the procedural learnings where, like reading and writing, kids go at different paces and develop at different paces. But in most of the cognitive learnings, what the psychologists call cognitive learnings, just the facts about American history or about geography or even basic math, facts of science and math, those learnings are things that all children can learn if they are offered them in the classroom. But because we don't have these very solid schoolwide, much less districtwide determinants of what a child should learn before going to the next class, it is hard to argue that this diversity and need for promotion and retention are not already built in.
I think we are going back to the issue that Congressman Miller mentioned about the diversity of preparation coming into a class because if you are not ready to learn what is in the class, you have to be retained or socially promoted. Those are the alternatives, so it is a much more fundamental issue that neither of those two terms quite captures.
Mr. Hanushek. I would answer your question in a slightly larger context that I think includes some of the comments of Congressman Miller and many of the other Members of the committee. Virtually nothing in our schools today is organized around student achievement. Our schools are not managed to provide student achievement so that we have incentives to fill a classroom with a body as opposed to get somebody who is trained to teach the subject. We have--there are no incentives to teachers to hold back somebody and get the same person next year. There would only be incentives if we were thinking in terms of some developmental program to get the achievement of that person up. Fundamentally, teachers are responding to the incentives that they face and they are complicitous in the sense that they go along with the incentives that are there which are not to deal with these problems of social promotion or retention or management of the teacher force or what have you. Dealing with just the symptoms as opposed to the more fundamental incentive problems will not solve our problems.
Mr. Ingersoll. Yes, absolutely, teachers should not be held accountable for lax standards, whether they are behavioral or academic. Teachers do not set school policy within the building, within the district, within the State. The data is clear on this. Teachers would love to have much tougher behavioral standards and much tougher academic standards, but they do not control those issues. Whether it is governmental or larger societal, who knows but you, it is certainly wrong to hold them accountable or blame them for these issues which they do not decide and often do not like.
Chairman Riggs. I would argue that teachers many times do through their collective bargaining units influence policy. Again that is a debate perhaps for another day. I will say though that I really do support the idea of site-based decisionmaking where individual teachers can have more say in the formulation of policy.
I know we would like to continue with you gentlemen, but we have another equally august and distinguished panel waiting and I recognize it is in the lunch hour. I would like to do this, with the indulgence of our second panel of witnesses, I would like to excuse this panel of witnesses. I would like to recess the subcommittee shortly and reconvene at 1:00.
The subcommittee stands in recess.
[Whereupon, at 12:30 p.m., the subcommittee recessed, to reconvene at 1:40 p.m.]
Chairman Riggs. Our second panel of witnesses will be seated. I apologize for the delay and the inconvenience and thank you for your indulgence. I have a little bit different order here so what I would like to do is proceed by this order and our first witness of the second panel is Ms. C. Emily Feistritzer. She is President of the National Center for Education Information in Washington, D.C. She will discuss the myth of teacher shortage and highlight the potential benefits of alternative teacher certification programs.
Thank you very much for being with us and we look forward to your testimony. Please proceed.
STATEMENT OF MS. C. EMILY FEISTRITZER, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL CENTER FOR EDUCATIONAL INFORMATION, WASHINGTON, D.C.
Ms. Feistritzer. Thank you for inviting me to participate in this group this morning and afternoon. I have been asked to address the issue of the reality of teacher supply and demand. That is what I will devote most of my time to.
We have heard a lot about how the Nation will need to turn over the teaching force in the next decade. Another way it is put is we will need 2 million more teachers in the next decade. We will need 200,000 teachers per year for the next 10 years, and so on. I think it is terribly important that the administration and the Congress look at what that really means. The reality of it is in the definition of what we mean by a new teacher. New teacher to most people means somebody who has never taught before. What new teacher means in the context of these statistics actually are newly hired people in a given school year.
Data from the National Center for Education Statistics Schools and Staffing Survey showed that in 1993, for example, 139,000 newly hired people were hired in classrooms and fewer than half of those were brand new to teacher--brand new to teaching teachers, or what the department calls newly minted teachers. Surveys by other people have shown that only about 2 percent of the teaching force in any given year is a new teacher and that translates into about 45,000 people per year, not 200,000 people per year. So you can quickly come up with a 200,000 new teacher figure if you include people transferring from private schools to public schools, if you consider that a lot of people are reentering the teaching force, people who left teaching and are coming back, and if you consider people who trained to teach at some prior time and are coming back into teaching later in their life. But straight out of college, new to teaching teachers, the number even projected in the next decade is more around the figure of 45,000, and this is up against a total public school teaching force of about 2.3 million.
It is terribly important, I think, also that you consider that colleges of education that historically have the responsibility for training teachers in this country are cranking out more than 100,000 Bachelor's Degrees in Education per year. There are about 6 million people in the United States today that have at least a Bachelor's Degree in Education. Having a Bachelor's Degree in Education in this country generally means that you are fully qualified to teach because the way people are defined to be fully qualified to teach is if they go through a college-based approved teacher education program in a college or university. Of the 6 million people currently holding Bachelor's Degrees in this country, only about up 1.8 million of them are in classrooms in elementary and secondary schools in the country. So the fact of the matter is that the Nation is already turning out vastly more people who meet the definition "qualified to teach" than are currently teaching.
It is also a well-known statistic that only about--pardon me, let me put it another way--that 40 percent of the people who get fully qualified to teach in this country ever teach. So a very high percentage of people who gain the credentials and are so-called fully qualified to teach never wind up in classrooms. Why that is we don't seem to know. But the fact of the matter is that there are a lot more people getting education degrees and going through college of education programs preparing to be teachers than wind up in classrooms teaching.
I also in the written testimony go through a lot of data that supports that. If you look at people in the pipeline, people in high school and college freshmen saying that they intend to become teachers, the numbers are vast. If you just count on that alone for the future teaching force, you will have far more than enough people. There is no other occupation, much less profession, that continues to produce far more people than ever wind up in the job for which they are being prepared. One reason why that is the case, I also cite some reasons in the written testimony, is that the demand for additional teachers is not uniform across the country. It is not uniform geographically and it certainly is not uniform in terms of type of community or subject area demand. You can have national statistics, which don't match where the demand for teachers are. The demands for new teachers are greatest in inner cities and in specific subject areas such as special education and bilingual education and to a much smaller extent in math and science. Only about 4 percent of students in traditional college teacher education programs say they are interested in teaching in inner cities. This compares with about a third of people who are interested in coming into teaching through alternative teacher certification routes, by the way.
The vast majority of teacher education candidates in traditional programs want to teach in their own backyard. They want to teach near where they were born and raised and go to school. Many people who get education degrees never intend to use the degree to teach and, lastly, licensing of teachers in this country is structured in such a way that mobility across State lines is difficult if not impossible. For example, you can be fully certified to teach in Pennsylvania and want to teach in California where the demand is very great and not be qualified to teach in the State of California.
Lastly, alternative teacher certification is really my field. We have been surveying States every year since 1983 about alternative routes for bringing people into teaching. I regret that the red light is already on because I have a lot to say about that. Alternative teacher certification attracts large numbers of life experienced adults from other careers, early retirees from the military and other careers. There is a lot of data to support that the quality of the teaching force issue could more than be solved by opening doors to these populations of people who historically have been sort of rebuffed by the more traditional ways that we bring people into the teaching profession.
SEE APPENDIX H FOR STATEMENT OF MS. FEISTRITZER
Chairman Riggs. Thank you. I am sure we will have a chance to delve into that a little bit when we get to questions and answers. I am personally very interested in that.
Dr. Dale Ballou is Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. Dr. Ballou will provide a critical appraisal of the National Commission of Teaching in America's Future report entitled "What Matters Most: Teaching for America's Future." Dr. Ballou, I thank you for being here. Please proceed with your testimony.
STATEMENT OF DR. DALE BALLOU, PROFESSOR OF ECONOMICS, UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS, BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS
Mr. Ballou. Thank you. This is the first such committee I have ever come to in this capacity and I am a little bit naive. As a measure of my naivete, I actually have a five-minute presentation. When I stop at the end of 5 minutes, keep in mind it is not because I have nothing more to say.
I also will be commenting on a variety of aspects of the program that is advocated by the National Commission, recognizing that not all parts of that program have found their way into all pieces of legislation that might be considered by this committee.
Michael Podgursky of the University of Missouri and I have made a close study of recommendations of the National Commission on Teaching in America's Future. For the following reasons we are extremely skeptical of the commission's claims and would advise against many of the policies advocated in the commission's report.
One, the commission's program for improving teacher preparation is not likely to prove very effective. The commission would empower various professional organizations to accredit teacher education programs, develop licensing exams, certify master teachers, et cetera. In our analysis of the available data, we have been unable to find hard evidence that the activities of these organizations have a significant impact on student performance. The commission claims otherwise based on the research literature, but the studies on which the commission relies have only modest policy implications at best. They do not support the far-reaching reforms the commission proposes.
Two, parts of the commission's agenda could be positively harmful to student learning. For example, one of the constituent members of NCATE which would be responsible for accrediting teacher education programs is the National Council of Teachers of English, which has been a strong proponent of the whole language approach to the teaching of reading in the primary grades. Adopting the commission's plan could put such an organization in a position to insist that all reading teachers be trained in methods that much of the public has rejected and that remain controversial among educators. Simple prudence would suggest that this is not a wise policy. Granting monopoly powers to a national accrediting and licensing agency could lower teacher quality over the long term by stifling innovation and preventing competitors with superior ideas from having a chance to demonstrate their merit.
Three, by adding requirements to teacher training and preparation, the commission would increase the time and cost to teachers of acquiring licenses. This will deter some individuals from becoming teachers. Among them are liberal arts graduates who choose their majors out of love of the subject who only begin to think about teaching as they near the end of their undergraduate studies. These would appear to be the kinds of individuals we would most want to attract into teaching, and yet they reach the end of their undergraduate studies confronting an additional year or two of extra course work before they would be allowed to teach. That is a deterrent.
Teacher training requirements also deter talented undergraduates who are attempting to keep other professional options open, who find it difficult to handle extra education course work. Lengthy preservice training also discourages those who are already in the work force who are contemplating mid-career changes in order to become teachers. The cost to them of quitting their jobs to return to college for education courses is quite high.
In all of these cases, we need more flexibility, not less, to open career paths into teaching. The benefits of flexibility are apparent in the private school sector. Private schools hire many unlicensed, uncertified teachers with no prior education course work. By so doing, they have significantly increased the share of their faculties with strong academic backgrounds.
Four, the commission's proposals take education policy in the wrong direction. They continue a failed policy, one that focuses on inputs to education rather than outcomes. It is time instead to start holding public schools accountable for what students learn. We should make sure administrators know what they are expected to achieve, hold them responsible for those results and empower them to make the managerial decisions necessary to achieve those ends. This means among other things giving them more freedom to hire promising teachers whatever their prior training.
Instead, the commission's plan continues a policy of regulating teacher labor markets. This kind of regulation ultimately undercuts the goal of enhancing local accountability. Administrators who lack authority to make critical personnel decisions cannot realistically be held responsible for results.
SEE APPENDIX I FOR STATEMENT OF MR. BALLOU
Chairman Riggs. Thank you, Dr. Ballou.
Ms. Kati Haycock currently serves as Director of the Education Trust in Washington. Established in 1992, the goal of the Trust is to assist school districts and institutions of higher education simultaneously to launch reform efforts aimed at improving teaching and learning, for minority and low income students in particular. Prior to coming to the Trust Ms. Haycock severed as Executive Vice President of the Children's Defense Fund. She will discuss the important difference between teacher quality and teacher quantity.
Ms. Haycock, thank you for being here. Please proceed with your testimony.
STATEMENT OF MS. KATI HAYCOCK, PRESIDENT, THE EDUCATION TRUST, INC., WASHINGTON, D.C.
Ms. Haycock. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. A few years ago this committee set in motion a process by which communities and States all across the country are establishing new and much higher standards for what they want their students to know and be able to do. My hope this afternoon is to give you a glimpse at the progress of that effort. A look at the biggest problem that is getting in the way, and to share some ideas on some steps you might take to help States to solve those problems.
Over the past couple of years the staff of the Education Trust has spent the bulk of its time in classrooms all across the country working with teachers who are trying to improve their teaching in a way that will get larger numbers of their students to the new standards that their communities and States have set. We have come away from that experience deeply worried, but let me be clear about why. We are not worried, as some people are, that American students cannot reach the new standards. On the contrary, it is very clear from experience all around the country that our young people can achieve at much higher levels even if they are growing up poor or in difficult neighborhoods.
We are worried, though, that many of today's teachers do not have the knowledge and skills that it takes to get their kids to higher levels of achievement. As has been mentioned earlier, far too many of our teachers are drawn from amongst our least able undergraduates in colleges and universities. Further, many of them, as has been pointed out earlier, have only a very, very thin grasp of the subject matter they are teaching and get almost no support to deepen that knowledge after they get into the classroom.
Indeed, in our work with classroom teachers, teachers often turn to our staff and say, how am I supposed to get my kids to standards that even I do not meet. That in effect is the problem. As bad as that problem though is in general, the problem is much worse in schools with concentrations of poor and minority youngsters. Such children are typically taught throughout their educational careers by our least well-prepared teachers. That practice has particularly devastating effects on poor and minority children because, as you have heard earlier, the single most important ingredient in whether these children will meet high standards is a well-prepared, well-qualified teacher.
Fortunately, some recent experience that we have had in Texas has convinced us that it does not have to continue to be the way it is. Beginning back about 1992, leaders at the University of Texas-El Paso began to realize that many of the teachers that they were producing did not have the knowledge and skills they needed to get El Paso children to the standards that had been set in El Paso for student achievement. So with lots of advice from teacher leaders in the three El Paso school districts, these leaders set out to entirely remake the education of teachers at the University of Texas-El Paso. New teachers now have to take twice, in fact more than twice, as many math and science courses, for example, as they did before these changes were made. And perhaps more important, those courses are taught in very, very different ways than they were before.
Now, it is important to be honest about those changes in El Paso. Most of them were in fact attributable to incredible leadership on the part of the President, the Dean of the School of Education and, in particular, the Dean of Science. But there are several important lessons in the Texas experience for Congress. First, Texas' very tough K-12 accountability system, which demands significant growth in student achievement from every school and from every group in that school, was the real impetus behind the changes in teacher preparation. School districts that are under pressure to increase their results do in fact, it turns out, in turn place similar pressure on universities to produce better teachers.
Second, once it was clear both that the current teacher force was inadequate and that improvements like those in El Paso are possible, what happened in Texas is that the State has enacted a parallel accountability system that demands improved results from the universities that prepare teachers. This accountability system in turn is driving change in institutions of higher education all across Texas.
Left to their own devices, though, few States will actually travel that route, at least in part because they are deeply afraid that higher standards in their State will cause prospective teachers to flee to other States. You can help with that problem by using the leverage you have available to push action across the country.
There are at least four critical leverage points available to you. First, you can provide incentives for States that are willing to set higher standards to rigorously assess whether candidates meet those standards. And enforce those standards by not giving waivers except for in situations for real emergencies.
Second, you can as, Congressman Miller has suggested, make parents finally partners in this effort by insisting that schools that receive Federal funds give parents information about the qualifications of their teachers and in particular let them know when their children are being taught by unqualified teachers.
Third, by increasing accountability in higher education by withdrawing Federal support from colleges whose graduates do miserably on teacher licensure exams. And, finally, by investing in a very targeted way the new resources that you have available in the most pressing problem of all, and that is preparing and supporting teachers for high poverty urban and rural schools.
The most effective ways we think you can do that are by, number one, focused university school district partnerships that will prepare and support the best teachers for service in these schools. And, second, generous loan forgiveness for high achieving undergraduates who opt to teach in high poverty areas. In other words, by creating for the 21st century something like the Teacher Corps that we are all familiar with from the 1960s.
I want to conclude by simply telling you that I cannot reinforce enough how vitally important it is that we attend to the particular crisis that our high poverty schools are facing. Last week I spent a couple of days with school principals from throughout San Diego County, the week before that with school principals from throughout San Jose, California. These local leaders are truly desperate. They know how terribly important good teachers are. Indeed, every day they see clear evidence that good teachers can entirely compensate for the so-called effects of poverty. In other words, they can get very poor children to high levels of achievement. But they cannot find such teachers now because local universities are in fact producing only teachers who want to teach in the suburbs.
If anything, in this State the recent class size reduction legislation has actually made the problem worse, drawing fully credentialed teachers from high poverty schools into newly created positions in the suburbs and replacing those teachers with unqualified or underqualified teachers.
These local principals can in fact make a difference but if they are going to do that, they need your help. They need you to say that their problem comes first, that before you put out resources to reduce class sizes across the board or to otherwise invest in the creation of additional teachers, that you are going to use your resources in a focused effort to make sure that the very children who are most dependent on their teachers to learn are in fact taught by the best, no longer the worst.
SEE APPENDIX J FOR STATEMENT OF MS. HAYCOCK
Chairman Riggs. Thank you, Ms. Haycock.
Mr. Paul Steidler is Director of the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution Educational Forum Project. The project works to empower teachers and parents. He has published numerous articles about education in publications, including the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, Education Week and the Christian Science Monitor. I have seen several of those articles. He will discuss how to improve teacher quality and distribution through market-based solutions.
Thank you for being here. Please proceed with your testimony, sir.
STATEMENT OF MR. PAUL F. STEIDLER, DIRECTOR, ALEXIS DE TOQUEVILLE INSTITUTION, ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA
Mr. Steidler. Thank you very much. In many ways it is quite perplexing that we have to discuss a teacher shortage and, relatedly, issues of teacher pay. Over the years parents and other taxpayers have been exceedingly generous in what they are willing to spend for public education. On the whole teachers have not been motivated to enter the profession for money and are genuinely concerned with children's welfare, factors which earn them significant respect.
I submit that a core problem we face today in K to 12 education from both an economic and administrative standpoint is that there has been a significant increase in the number of blockages between teachers and parents in recent decades. Thus, solutions to the low pay of teachers and a potential shortage must focus on empowering parents and empowering teachers.
In fact, to have the best possible schools for our children, we must meet a fundamental challenge. We engineer public schools so that deserving teachers are paid more, have better working conditions and greater hegemony in the classroom. Simultaneously, administrative costs and bureaucracy need to be reduced significantly.
Teachers, particularly hard working and enthusiastic ones, will be the greatest beneficiaries of such change. Some in fact could earn over $100,000 annually without an increase in taxes. The best way to accomplish these aims is through the expanded use of market principles and practices. In fact, the degree to which our education system has diminished its focus on teachers is both troubling and striking.
Since 1959, taking inflation into account, public education has more than tripled on a per pupil basis. By comparison, teacher pay has risen barely 40 percent during the same period. Thus, teachers' raises have been less than 1/7 of the raise that the system as a whole has received. Today barely half of the personnel in the public school system are teachers. In fact, for every three teachers added to the public payroll since 1959, four nonteachers have been added.
These and related findings are more extensively discussed in a forthcoming study the de Tocqueville Institution has worked on in conjunction with the Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation.
The above trends have occurred at a time when the teacher unions, the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, have come to represent the vast majority of public school teachers and risen as political forces in the country. Thus, unions' use of monolithic contracts has restricted opportunities for teachers and driven many high caliber individuals from the profession. Today public school teachers are nearly always paid based simply on their years of service and education attained. It does not matter what subject is taught, it does not matter if the teacher comes in a mere 15 minutes before class starts or spends two extra hours a day working with students.
In fact, it doesn't even matter how large the class size is. It is easy to see how many of our best and brightest teachers can become demoralized under such a compensation and professional structure. Furthermore, the unions' opposition to merit pay and vigorous defense of tenure adds insult to injury for many of these teachers.
There are a number of encouraging developments outside the Beltway indicating how teachers and students will benefit from reengineering. Teachers have found significant employment opportunities and satisfaction in more than 700 charter schools that have opened across the country, largely free of union rules and other administrative burdens. Low-income scholarships or voucher programs have also served as the catalyst for changes in public schools.
For example, John Gardner, a school board member in Milwaukee, has noted the city's voucher program puts effective pressure on the Milwaukee public schools to expand, accelerate and improve reforms long deliberated and too long postponed.
I respectfully submit that expanding opportunities for charter schools and voucher programs are two steps that Congress can take to facilitate more innovative and deserving pay packages for teachers. In addition, the planned marriage of the NEA and AFT should be scrutinized. This recently announced merger will create a de facto teacher union monopoly in the United States. It is hard to see how the megaunion will be more responsive to teachers' needs and open to more flexible contract arrangements. As the National Education Association is chartered by Congress and as the merger will directly impact all public schools and all public school teachers in the U.S., there is compelling need for such scrutiny.
Finally, Congress should examine and have quantified the cost of Federal and State mandates on regulations on education. The array of these mandates affecting schools appears to be significant and merits further study and investigation. Each of these four actions, expansion of charter schools and vouchers, expansion of voucher programs, scrutiny of union activity, and identification and reduction in the cost of education regulations have benefits in their own right and will help the reengineering of our public schools.
I thank the subcommittee for your time and look forward to your questions.
SEE APPENDIX K FOR STATEMENT OF MR. STEIDLER
Chairman Riggs. Thank you.
Barnett Berry is the Associate Director for Policy and State Relations at the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future in Columbia, South Carolina. Mr. Berry, thank you for waiting so patiently. Please proceed with your testimony.
STATEMENT OF MR. BARNETT BERRY, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR FOR POLICY AND STATE RELATIONS, NATIONAL COMMISSION ON TEACHING AND AMERICA'S FUTURE, COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA
Mr. Berry. It is a real pleasure to be here representing the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future. Let me first say that the commission is a bipartisan blue ribbon panel of 26 policymakers, including Republican and Democratic governors, legislators and chief State school officers who issued a major report in 1996, which many of you are all familiar with, "What Matters Most."
This report raised the ante, if you will, on teacher standards in this country and also offers a blueprint, a picture, of how to totally transform the entirety of the teacher development system so that every kid in America gets the kind of education he and she deserves. This past fall we released a new report, "Doing What Matters Most," which augmented the data and recommendations of our first report, speaking directly to the relationship between teacher development, teacher knowledge and expertise, and student achievement and equality.
I will do my best to stay within the 5 minutes here, Mr. Chairman. If you don't mind, I would appreciate if these two documents could be submitted as full reports for the record.
Chairman Riggs. We will make sure they are included in the record.
Mr. Berry. Let me speak to three major points and then deal with a couple issues I think are very important relative to dispelling some myths about the work of the commission. The first point I do not need to make more loudly than what Kati Haycock has just done in saying that first of all, first and foremost, teacher expertise is the major determinant of student achievement. Class size makes a difference, but not nearly as much as teacher expertise.
Point two, one of the greatest sources of educational inequality and educational outcomes in this country is the maldistribution, the unequal distribution of well-qualified teachers. I cannot say that enough here today. And finally, the nature and quality of teacher education, while teacher education is woefully uneven in this country, and alternative certification is woefully uneven in this country, good teacher education matters greatly and there are hundreds of studies to support such an assertion. I can give you great example after great example about how good teacher Ed programs prepare the kind of teachers they need in San Diego.
First of all, let me speak to some of the most important data points in the back of my testimony. I will show you a not so modest picture. It is a picture of a study, the results from the State of Texas, that shows quite clearly that teacher expertise, teacher knowledge explained by Master's Degrees, scores on licensing exams and experience accounts more than 40 percent of the difference in students' test scores in math and reading.
Again, in this study another 8 percent of the variance is explained by small schools and classes. What this means, as Mr. Hanushek said earlier, yes, class size can be powerful if you have got good teachers in there. Other studies, done in New York, Dallas, Texas, Tennessee and the like, also found that teacher quality was the major determinant of student achievement, but again minority and white students had extremely uneven access to highly effective teachers.
Another point that is real important, and I think today, later today or maybe even as we speak, the Third International Math and Science Study Report is coming out again. What we have found in the past is that the greatest numbers of unqualified teachers in the United States--those teaching without a certificate and without a minor in their field--are at the high school level in math and physical science. Which is where we do most poorly on these international comparisons of achievement.
In addition, I would like to tell you that our research shows clearly that the States that perform best in this country on the National Assessment of Educational Progress in math and reading are also those same States with the best-prepared teachers. They have the highest standards for those teachers and they are relentless. They do not hire unqualified teachers. They also require extensive education, more education, not less.
Finally, next point I should say, almost finally, while every parent understands what research seems to confirm, that teacher expertise makes the most important difference, there is a shocking number of entrants to teaching who are being hired without meeting the basic requirements, and guess where these folks are teaching? If you look at the second viewgraph I have for you behind my testimony, in fact the third viewgraph, you will see that four times as many teachers in poor schools and schools that primarily serve kids of color are teaching without a license in their field. We ought to be ashamed. We ought to be ashamed.
Most importantly, let me tell you that data also are clear about this point, that when poor students and students of color do get access to well-prepared teachers, they do quite well. In fact, their scores almost mirror the scores of other kids. In fact, a study that was just released of high- and low-achieving schools with similar, diverse student populations in New York City found that the differences in teacher qualifications accounted for 90 percent of the differences in those kids' achievement in math and reading. That is a powerful number.
Finally, let me say that teacher Ed matters for both teacher performance and student learning. I wish Mr. Martinez was here. Yes, Jamie Escalante was a great teacher, but he wasn't very good at the very beginning. Let me tell what you made him so good, though. He not only knew his subject matter well, he knew those children, and he combined the two in very powerful ways. There are a lot of great teachers out there that have learned to do that over time, like Mr. Escalante.
However, we know how to create teachers. In fact, I will tell you that the best teacher Ed programs in this country have certain characteristics. First and foremost, they require a minimum of 40 weeks of extensive clinical experience. So a prospective teacher actually knows before he or she is licensed how Johnny, Kiesha and Carlos learn to read and what they would do next when they find those three children have difficulties in reading.
In fact, one reason the commission has put a lot of weight and leverage on the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards is because that teaching examination does just that. It requires teachers to look at student work, no matter what background they come from, no matter what kind of learning they had prior to coming to school, and figure out what went wrong, what went right and what they would do next. It is a very powerful assessment, and I will tell you right now it is very rigorous, and only 33 percent of those teachers who are sitting for that exam are actually passing.
Let me say in closing that we know what to do. In fact, in the commission report we will--we have documented that virtually everything that we want done is being done somewhere in the United States of America. There is just no State or school district that has put all the pieces of the puzzle together.
We know that other countries that prepare teachers and do quite well in international assessments prepare those teachers much more extensively than we do. Instead of just any old bachelor's degree in education, they are talking about a disciplinary degree and two to three years of teacher education, most of it under the tutelage of expert teaches.
We also in this country--this bears greatly on the class size issue--in this country we do not do nearly enough to make sure our most important resources are put closest to kids. In this country only 43 to 50 percent, depending which study you look at, of the public school educators are actual classroom teachers. In other countries with whom we compete economically, it goes from 60 to 80 percent. We use those resources differently.
Think back to that Ferguson pie chart I showed you first. It is teacher knowledge, small schools and classes. It is the use of the knowledge. If teachers do not have the opportunity to use that knowledge, then it will all go for naught.
Finally let me say that the single most important strategy for improving student achievement is to create a system that ensures that the way teachers are recruited, prepared, licensed, selected, supported and assessed and rewarded are all in sync with each other.
I will tell you that I am a little perplexed by some of the myths that are being put forward here today about the commission. Yes, we are for more extended preparation for teachers and more rigor. Yes, that does take more time, but our kids deserve that. We also want more standards for teachers, and more standards and licensing which we do not have now.
Instead of more flexibility, I will tell you we have plenty of flexibility right now. Thirty States in this country have more requirements for their cosmetologists than they do for their teachers in terms of a license to practice.
Finally, let me say that, yes, we are looking for standards that are in sync with each other. We are looking for professional accreditation to be in league with licensure and advanced certification. The reason we do so, because every other profession in America does so. That is how they ensure quality.
SEE APPENDIX L FOR STATEMENT OF MR. BERRY
Chairman Riggs. Let me assure you and the other witnesses that your written statements will, along with any related materials or documentation, will appear in their entirety in the record and transcript of today's hearing.
Let me also stipulate that I think that there are born teachers, individuals with a remarkable gift, a God-given gift and an aptitude, a natural ability to relate to children, a love of learning, a love of that interaction. That all said, it seems to me that most teachers are still made. And I am wondering as you survey the literature and you look, and if any of the other witnesses want to comment, at our traditional teacher training, traditional teacher education at colleges and universities, as well as the preservice training, if it is weak on the apprenticeship aspect, whether we need, I think you referred to it as, clinical experience?
Mr. Berry. Right.
Chairman Riggs. Whether that needs to be longer, because it seems to me that we have many problems in the teaching profession; that that might be one. Another would be, I think, inadequate classroom observation and evaluation of new teachers.
And I could only relate to my experience in my home State of California and my five years serving on the school board in my hometown, including two years as board president. We were constantly frustrated, the elected policy decision makers on the school board, that we did not have enough observation and evaluation prior to a teachers being able to achieve tenure. California has very strong tenure laws, as you may know.
So respond to that if you would like.
Mr. Berry. That is an excellent question. There are about a dozen States in the country that do not require any student teaching in order to be licensed to teach.
In this country teacher education right now is under the auspices of State Departments of Education and State Boards of Education for the most part. There are a few professional standards boards that are out there right now. But for the most part it is under the auspices of the State Departments of Education.
There are a dozen States that do not require any student teaching. We know from research that extended clinical preparation, in fact extended preparation, there are studies that show as well that those teachers are more likely to stay in the profession and are more likely to be effective with kids and are more highly rated by their supervisors.
Chairman Riggs. You found significant variance from State to State?
Mr. Berry. Absolutely.
Chairman Riggs. Ms. Feistritzer says that there is no shortage of well-educated, highly competent teachers. You say that there is a problem with many, many teachers teaching outside their subject matter, which implies that they are not knowledgeable in that matter or they haven't been credentialed or certified in that subject matter.
My question is, is there an honest difference of opinion on the panel, and who is making these decisions to hire these individuals? If there is a problem, it seems to me that the problem is at the local level and can only be rectified at the local level. A very brief response from you, and then Ms. Feistritzer, a chance to respond.
Mr. Berry. Yes and no, the typical sort of response. There are plenty of teachers out there but they clearly are not available in the areas where we need them to teach, in the subject matters and the knowledge they need to have. Even so, teachers that were prepared five years ago are not the teachers who we need tomorrow.
Talented teachers of today and tomorrow have to know a heck of a lot more about learning differences, language differences. They need to know more about peer review and teacher leadership. They need to know more about the new curriculum standards that we are implementing on a State-by-State basis across the country, these kind of things that are not anywhere close to being in a teacher Ed program five years ago.
So the issue is pretty complex. I will tell that you we are producing enough and we have enough out there but they are not of the right kind. They won't teach in the right places. I question whether they have the right knowledge that we will need for tomorrow, at least the knowledge the children need.
Chairman Riggs. But you acknowledge hiring and firing decisions are made locally. And if we have a bunch of incompetent teachers and we have teachers who should not be teaching at least in a subject matter, that is a local problem. The question then is, who impedes or prevents the local decision-makers from addressing that problem?
Mr. Berry. In rural South Carolina you cannot find a physical science teacher, so they have PE teachers teaching. That is where Richard Ingersoll's data comes in. I cannot point my finger at the local school district. They do not have the wherewithal, the money, the financial system, the recruitment apparatus to get a good physical science teacher in that district.
Chairman Riggs. Somebody said something earlier about coaches teaching.
Ms. Feistritzer. First of all, I think you have your finger right on the most critical issue, and that is the selection and hiring practices of teachers. We not only have this like 4 million people with Ed degrees who are not teaching, but we are still cranking them out at about over 100,000 a year and not hiring anywhere near that level, so it is not an ancient history collection of people. They are still being produced.
I think you all need to really seriously look at why you are going to start distributing monies to more colleges of education. Why should we keep turning out numbers of people who have the credentials, who clearly do not intend to ever teach anywhere, when the demand is in rural areas and inner cities?
The hiring practices of teachers are such in this country that local schools or school districts hire who they want to hire. They hire substitutes. They hire paraprofessionals. They hire the coach's daughter. They hire who they want to hire. And they hire for vacancies.
And as many of us on your panel today were former teachers, you get your teaching assignment about the week before you start teaching in many cases, and it may or may not be in your field. That does not mean that a fully qualified person with a degree in that field has not applied in that district for a job.
I think rural South Carolina and rural California, and rural Kentucky where I am from, many, many States have tiny little schools in them. And they are never going to hire a Physics major to teach that one physics class that they may have in that school because of its size.
So I think this out-of-field teaching issue is very much related to the size of the school, where it is located, the type of community that it is in, and not because the people are not available or you cannot find them anywhere. It is just economically not feasible to hire in these outlying rural areas of the country a Physics major for every physics class that is taught. We will have to be much more creative about hiring and sending physics teachers to teach in different schools that are maybe 10 miles apart from each other.
But hiring practices, I think, in analyzing the supply and demand issue is the key issue. It is not teacher training.
Chairman Riggs. That is the problem. The supply might be limited, indeed very limited in that local job market or in that local school district area.
My time has expired. I want to ask one other quick question of you and Dr. Ballou and that is, as a matter of public policy--forget for a moment whether we are talking Federal, State or local or some combination--as a matter of public policy, aimed at attracting and keeping experienced highly qualified, motivated teachers, what would be the better way to go? A program that focuses on younger people, for example, like the Teacher Corps idea where taxpayers subsidize or defray college tuition, college, higher education expenses? Or a student loan forgiveness program for those who enter the teaching profession, or an alternative credentialed certification type of program where you are in fact deliberately recruiting or reaching out to people interested in making a mid-career, mid-life change to enter the teaching profession?
I want to give Dr. Ballou a chance to respond first. I have some other questions if we get to a second round.
Mr. Ballou. I am not sure why you want to choose. If there is merit to both ideas, why not pursue both?
Chairman Riggs. Which one has more merit?
Mr. Ballou. I think that the alternative certification has more merit, probably. The average age of a new teacher in this country is now about 28 or 29; really remarkable that people are entering teaching actually at that point in their work lives. I am not altogether sure why that is the case, so I am trying to find out.
Mention was made earlier of the fact that the teaching profession no longer does so well on talented and capable women who now have other career opportunities. But many of those women when they decide to have children recognize that teaching is a very good fit with parenting for scheduling reasons. And some of these women may be quite interested in spending 10 to 12 years as teachers before they then go on to pursue other career interests. I think there is much merit to pursuing alternative certification programs. That is it for now.
Ms. Haycock. If I might add, I think Dr. Ballou was right where he started. The fact of the matter is, we have a major crisis in cities and in rural areas. That is that we cannot afford to be an either/or.
As I mentioned, I was in San Jose last week. The starting salary for a teacher in San Jose Unified is $27,000 a year. Math and science graduates can start at $45,000 in any of the high tech firms in that area, all of whom have positions going begging now. They have teachers in San Jose who came to teach there, who now have been asking to get out of their contracts because they cannot afford to live there.
The fact of the matter is, we cannot afford to have a single strategy here. We have to use multiple ones that will get talented people into those schools with sufficient incentives and the preparation to teach well.
Chairman Riggs. I know you want to respond, but let me go to my colleague. I want to hear more discussion about Teacher Corps and credentialing. We will give everybody a chance.
Mr. Miller. Thank you very much. Since we apparently don't have a supply problem, we are right back to where we were this morning. That is the quality of the individual that is in the classroom.
I don't quite get it. You said that this is a problem because of rural areas. We can't get qualified people in the big urban centers where the vast majority of these people live; 80 percent of the people live on the two coasts, and in almost every area they are having this same problem. I don't quite get why we should not worry about this because rural areas cannot get physics teachers. The City of LA can't get anybody.
Ms. Feistritzer. In my testimony, written and verbal, I said the biggest problems are in the inner cities and in rural areas. The reason I zeroed in on rural areas for finding a physics teacher was the number issue. It is easier from a purely numbers, economics standpoint to find a physics teacher for New York City.
Mr. Miller. We are not doing it. Out-of-field teaching is not a minor problem in suburban communities and urban communities. It is a massive problem.
Ms. Feistritzer. It is a massive problem but it is greater in the areas where you have very tiny schools.
Mr. Miller. With all due respect, if those school districts want leeway, that is fine, but we now have the general proposition starting to become the teacher who is unqualified and out of field.
Ms. Feistritzer. That goes back to another point that I made, which is that it has much more to do with the hiring practices.
Mr. Miller. Let's go to the hiring practices. We heard from the Secretary of Education for Pennsylvania. In his testimony he said, "We proposed that those who have completed their undergraduate or graduate education with academic distinction and have passed the same licensure examinations that other prospective teachers take should be allowed to find employment and teach in apprenticeship programs in eligible public schools."
Ms. Feistritzer. I think that is fine.
Mr. Miller. So what is the rub?
Ms. Feistritzer. I think that is fine.
Mr. Miller. Except that I would expect that there are a lot of people, teaching alternative or otherwise, that couldn't meet that threshold. They haven't completed their academic work with distinction and they don't have the same licenses.
Ms. Feistritzer. I would argue that the people who are hiring these teachers regardless of whether they_
Mr. Miller. This is the State of Pennsylvania.
Ms. Feistritzer. Well, Pennsylvania, Texas, California, Indiana, the hiring practices occur at the local level and they very often don't have anything to do with the credentials.
Mr. Miller. But they hire pursuant to State law in most States.
Ms. Feistritzer. They are supposed to.
Mr. Miller. So they are out of compliance with State law?
Ms. Feistritzer. It is very common in this country to have qualified people, by whatever requirements the State sets forward, and for a local school district or a local school to hire a person who does not meet those qualifications for a variety of reasons.
Mr. Miller. So we are in the position where the Federal Government puts $8 or $10 billion into the system plus all the student loans, because local officials don't care enough to hire qualified people and talented people and enforce the State laws. We should just keep plowing Federal money into the system so we can have undistinguished teachers teaching. That is what you are leaving me with, is the fact that you are saying--
Ms. Feistritzer. I don't think you should keep dumping more and more money into the system.
Mr. Miller. This is a locally run system. It is governed by the State offices. The State offices provide massive exemptions, so that what you are saying is local districts can freely hire anybody they want, qualified or unqualified.
Ms. Feistritzer. I am not saying that they should.
Mr. Miller. That is what is going on. It is not because of Federal law or Federal regulation. We are financing a big chunk of this, certainly in compensatory districts we are financing a very big chunk of it, and we get saddled with the worst unqualified teachers there are.
It seems to me that if you are going to vote for the money, I appreciate all this business about devolution and local control, but it is starting to appear here as though the local entity's acting in a very irresponsible manner. Whether it is because they don't like the union or whatever the reason is, they are not willing to upgrade the system and we continue to look the other way.
Ms. Feistritzer. I think that, I personally think, and I have been analyzing this issue now for about 25 years, that you have your finger right on the biggest problem.
Mr. Miller. The minute that we suggest that we want to tie Chapter I money to the hiring of qualified teachers for the utilization of that money that somehow is taboo and the local people won't do it.
Ms. Feistritzer. But you should do that. I think you should be tying your money to--
Mr. Miller. I will give you the rest of the year to convince my colleagues. I hope you are as persuasive as you are here. That is the problem. We are now becoming enablers of a dysfunctional system because the Federal Government continues to put money into it and doesn't ask basic questions that I would ask as a parent of my two sons or a grandparent of my two granddaughters, which is who the hell is teaching this child, and what are the results that I may be getting?
Ms. Feistritzer. That is right. And it is in the numbers. Why are we turning out vastly more people in teacher colleges, many of which are subsidized with taxpayer money, that never intend to teach whether there is a job out there for them or not? Why are we doing that?
Mr. Miller. I would answer with a question because I don't know the answer. Taking much of the work that Kati has done, it would seem to me that if you have an oversupply of people willing to engage in a practice, raising the thresholds in terms of passage rates or certification or whatever the measurements are the experts want to use, we ought to be able to raise the bar in that situation. And as you point out, maybe not really risk, the notion is if you do that, you risk not having enough teachers.
You suggested that in terms of people who display some talent, background training in the a general population, there are enough bodies. The question now is, are they the best people we can get and are they qualified for that job?
One of the avenues is schools of education, where you can just kind of wander. It is like upper middle class white guys who go to law school until they figure out what to do with the rest of their lives. Other people I guess use schools of education. And they don't go teach, they go off and do something else. And then they run for Congress.
The point being that that is a marketplace that suggests that you can raise the entry level and the entry requirement. That is not the heavy hand of the Federal Government. It is just a return on all those loans and grants we are making. We might get a qualified individual to participate, which brings us again back to teacher training and qualifications because again if it is that kind of market, we ought to be able to extract the best people out of it.
Chairman Riggs. Congressman Roemer.
Mr. Roemer. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I hate to interrupt Mr. Miller. He was on such a roll there, an interesting roll, too.
Just as George was talking about some of the problems we encounter, my staff handed me a "U.S. High School Seniors Lag In Science" article that is just off the wires from this morning when we started this hearing. And we have heard how bad it can be in some of our inner city areas, and the qualifications for and the credentials of some of our teachers.
Here is the latest study saying that even the best and the brightest of our American students, taking the toughest math and science courses, are at the lowest scores internationally in comparison with other countries. And when Secretary Riley was asked why is this, he blamed it on the dearth of qualified teachers and easy graduation requirements. He cited that about half of physics teachers have a major or minor in that subject.
Now we have got the whole spectrum here. We have the problem that Ms. Haycock has talked about in places in California and other places all around the country where we cannot get enough qualified teachers, particularly in high minority and inner city high poverty areas. And now we even have a problem with some of the best and the brightest in physics and math and so forth, where we are scoring with the Czech Republic and Australia and other countries in some of the gifted and talented courses. We have got a heck of a problem, a staggering problem here.
Ms. Haycock, you talked in your testimony about El Paso, the University of Texas and some of the things that they have set up. Can you elaborate a little bit more on how we go about setting up schools that are going to try to teach and train the next generation of teachers so that we don't continue to have the problem that we have encountered with current teachers?
Ms. Haycock. As I mentioned before, the El Paso story is primarily a story about leadership. It is what a set of people did out in advance of what a State required them to do in terms of beefing up the preparation of teachers. The lessons I think from Texas are the lessons that we are learning right now, as the State puts into place an accountability system that demands now from higher Ed institutions results that are much better than ever before. So now in the State of Texas, if your college or university does not produce teacher graduates who scored a particular level on the entrance exams into teaching, you are no longer allowed to teach or to prepare teachers.
That kind of accountability system for higher education for the first time, when coupled with a very tough accountability system in K-12, which as I mentioned earlier, sends very clear signals to schools. They have got to make gains and they have got to make gains with black kids, Latino kids, white kids, all kids. When you couple those two, you have got a powerful message to the system that says, produce better--better teachers and better students.
Now, our sense is that those kinds of efforts would be vastly sped if there were some incentive funding from the Federal Government that said, we have got a special problem in high poverty schools that we are going to allow you to get out in front of, like they have in El Paso, by providing you some dollars to beef up your program. But also by providing some loan forgiveness so that we can begin to provide real incentives for talented undergraduates who choose to teach in the high poverty areas.
Mr. Roemer. Let me stop you there. On the previous panel, and I think you were here, a couple people testified that loan forgiveness did not accomplish what we sought to accomplish, and that is getting more qualified people in inner city schools. You refute that?
Ms. Haycock. Yes, the loan forgiveness doesn't make much of a difference as loan forgiveness that forgives about $1000 per year. If you are trying--in San Jose, if you say, we will give $2,000 a year in loan forgiveness, but that same teacher could teach in the suburban district and make 34 to start, obviously you will not compete. If you have got a generous loan forgiveness program though, where you are forgiving more like $8- or $9,000 a year, then you are really providing a big-time incentive and, you are beginning to equalize these salaries with the suburbs.
Mr. Roemer. Do you feel like that would make a significant difference? You cited in your San Jose study, where people making $27,000 a year teaching cannot afford to even live in the school district. I know the real estate is a lot more expensive in San Jose, California, than it is in South Bend, Indiana. We have teachers that have some of the same problems.
Ms. Haycock. They told me a starter house in San Jose was $350,000. They basically are housing their teachers by asking retired teachers to open up their homes. Clearly, there is no single, easy answer to problems like the San Jose problems or the Los Angeles and so on. But I think my message to you is that it is real clear from these examples, like El Paso, that it is possible to make some real strides here if we focus on drawing the most talented undergraduates into programs, preparing them to teach in high poverty areas. And if we provide them with some incentives, that will make that possible.
Will they all stay in teaching for all their lives? No, they probably won't, but the point is, we have got some bright, intellectually able people into the profession, and we have given kids the chance that they need to succeed. That has to be our agenda.
Mr. Roemer. How long ago did the El Paso program start?
Ms. Haycock. '92.
Mr. Roemer. Have you been able to assess whether you are continuing to attract with the higher standards the best and brightest into that program, or are they going to other places?
Ms. Haycock. I think their sense is the same sense we have as we look at things nationally. You raise the standards, you attract more.
Mr. Roemer. And that is, absolute, you have that quantifiable research that you are still getting the best and brightest at the El Paso program?
Ms. Haycock. Yes.
Mr. Roemer. So it would make sense for us to set up something, possibly in title V, that would disseminate money as incentive grants. Not as a general block grant, but incentive grants to those schools that are currently doing these kinds of innovative things rather than just disbursing the money everywhere in kind of a cavalier fashion.
Ms. Haycock. Yes.
Mr. Roemer. Mr. Berry, you know you have been--
Mr. Berry. Your question about teacher education is critically important. Let me speak to one particular institution to give you a really concrete example of what really works.
It is actually the University of California-Berkeley elementary Ed program. They only graduate 20 a year, unlike most cash cow operations that you see on most State university campuses, only 20 a year in elementary Ed. It is a three-plus-two program. Mr. Hirsch would be very impressed about the content knowledge that these prospective teachers garner in their preparation.
But also the extensive pedagogical knowledge is combined with the content knowledge. They emerge with three minors in math, science and English. They have 4 years of clinical experiences where they actually spend time learning how children learn to read. And when children have difficulty, they are doing case study, they are doing research themselves as prospective teachers. This is not inexpensive teacher education by the way.
They also learn diverse strategies on how to teach reading, and they test them out. And they are tested on whether or not they can use those different approaches, and they use phonics and they use literature-based approaches in a greater way.
They also take a great deal of time in helping these new teachers, prospective teachers, learn how to interpret assessment data, not just standardized test scores but writing samples and the like. That takes skill well beyond what any old liberal arts major has before he or she goes to teach in the incredibly diverse schools of Indiana, California, or my home State of South Carolina. So it is a very powerful program. Principals who hire these teachers are just dying for them.
Guess what else? They stay in the profession. The reason why is because they are very knowledgeable. Not only do teachers leave because of poor working conditions and poor salaries and inadequate induction; they leave a lot of times because they never were adequately prepared. They can never meet the high expectations they have for themselves and what they want to do with the children under their charge. But these UC-Berkeley students can do it and it is paying off. We just don't have enough schools of education or the right incentives to help all schools of Ed do this approach.
Mr. Roemer. Mr. Chairman, if I could have a little bit longer time, I think that is an interesting segue into something that was in your testimony, Mr. Berry. I am not sure if I heard you right.
You said in your example of Johnny and Kiesha and Carlos that when those children have difficulty learning from the traditional teaching method, that oftentimes teachers then have an extremely difficult transition into an alternative teaching methodology to help that child. And that only 33 percent of teachers can pass an exam to teach in an alternative method.
Mr. Berry. I was speaking of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, which is a complex set of assessments to ascertain whether or not teachers are highly accomplished. The main thing that a teacher has to do to pass that exam--only 33 percent pass that exam--is that they have to look at the work of diverse students and figure out where those students are. You are judged on whether or not you can analyze that student's work, where Johnny's difficulties are or where Carlos's difficulties are, and then move that child. That is how you are judged through this national board process because we want to up the ante on standards, the national commission does. And the national board, in its 10 years of research, which attests greatly to its reliability and validity, is a linchpin, we think, for the kinds of reforms to ratchet up the whole system.
Mr. Roemer. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I hope we get to another round.
Chairman Riggs. We will, but we will have to be--do it briefly, because this hearing started at 10:00 and we are rapidly approaching 3:00 p.m.
Let me ask you, let me recognize Ms. Feistritzer. You did not get a chance to respond on the question of alternative credentialing. Please.
Ms. Feistritzer. It sort of ties in with several comments that have been made since then. First of all, I am a former Teacher Corps director in South Carolina, of all things.
I think you would be well advised to do both. I think Teacher Corps is the best program that has ever come down the pike for training people to teach in high need areas. It was a two-year on-site-based program. The tragedy of Teacher Corps is that it never really had a good data collection or evaluation of it done. But it was outstanding, and I think you really should revisit Teacher Corps.
Alternative teacher certification, I think, just makes a lot of sense. It gets everybody, I hate to be so pedantic about it, but it gets everybody sort of off the hook on whether this teacher education program is any good or not. Because alternative teacher certification, by its phrase "alternative," gives you an opportunity to look at alternatives, alternative ways to bring people into the teaching profession. And there are as many alternatives as there are people talking about them.
The really good alternative teacher certification routes and teacher preparation programs really start all over again. They look at who the population is that is available for teaching and really ask the questions, the really hard questions about, what is the best way to educate and train and license people for teaching today who come from these diverse populations such as midcareer changes and early retirees?
There are some excellent programs that have started from scratch that would meet the national board standards that would meet the national commission standards. I think that the Congress would be well advised, if you are talking about title V of the Higher Education Act, to set aside some money for developing alternative teacher preparation programs and colleges of education and teacher certification programs that might start out being district based, school district based.
One of the really outstanding things about the alternative certification program in Los Angeles Unified is that--and the best testimony you can get is from the people who have gone through these programs--is that, what they themselves report is that they do get the training that they feel has enabled them to be effective teachers. I think that you would get a lot more bang for the buck if you allowed people to start over again and develop some true alternative approaches to educating, training and licensing teachers.
Chairman Riggs. Do you think that might help us get at the problem of the need for more specialized teachers, particularly at the secondary school level? It occurs to me that perhaps alternative credentialing might lead to--and I know this is probably absolute anathema to the teachers unions--but to more part-time teachers teaching in the secondary schools, very similar to a large part of our community college instructional staff being essentially part-time instructors.
Ms. Feistritzer. Absolutely. Another thing I wanted to say about an advantage of alternative routes is that they are more tied to meeting a problem that I raised earlier, which is employment. What is the point of being trained if you don't wind up being employed? And many of the alternative certification programs that exist today are tied to that. You can't get into the alternative certification program unless you have an arrangement to be hired by that school district. Many of the district-based programs start out with the demand for the teachers in specific subject areas, as well as the regions that the demand is greatest in.
Chairman Riggs. Let me raise one other subject, because I would really be remiss in my responsibilities as chairman of the committee if I adjourned us without having a little bit of discussion about the teachers unions.
It occurs to me that the teachers unions are today a big part of the problem, but they could be a big part of the solution. It is hard to think that we are headed towards, possibly, with the merger of AFT and NEA, this one big, monolithic union. Since you represent, I think, pretty much an ideological cross-section geographically, from different parts of the country, you represent different disciplines and backgrounds, I would like each of you to respond.
I will stipulate at the beginning that teachers unions seem to be primarily concerned--some would say "preoccupied"--with the bread-and-butter collective bargaining, management-labor relations issues. I also fervently believe that by driving for strong tenure laws, which too often protect people who should be eased out of the teaching profession, this is sort of the flip side of the argument for alternative credentialing. Which too often prevents good, experienced people from getting into the teaching profession. It seems to me in striving for those tenure laws the focus on the collective bargaining issues, sometimes to the detriment or exclusion of issues about academic quality, they could be the driving force for improvement and change in this country. They could be the ones.
They could tomorrow start working on their own professional standards. They could be working with the schools of higher education. But my take on it is, they are, as I said, a big part of the problem. And it is frustrating because I think they could be a big part of the solution.
I want to go right down the panel and get your reaction to that briefly. Let us start with Dr. Ballou.
Mr. Ballou. I agree with what you said. They are a big part of the problem. I don't see any way they are going to be part of the solution. You say they could be working to develop new standards. Well, in fact, the National Council on Accreditation in Teacher Education, NCATE, which is--the idea is being advanced that that agency should have control over determining who is allowed to prepare teachers. The NEA and the AFT have about seven or eight of the positions on the executive board of NCATE; president, vice president, high officials of both unions are members of the executive board.
The NEA contributes some 300,000-400,000 a year in financial support to NCATE. They are actively involved. It is--their involvement is one of the reasons that I am so mistrustful of the activities of NCATE.
I think you have got it exactly right. The unions are a big part of the problem.
Chairman Riggs. It has been your observation that they are resistant to--
Mr. Ballou. They are resistant to this kind of change.
Mr. Steidler. I would even challenge the assertion that the unions have been that effective at getting additional pay for their members. Teachers are among the lowest paid professionals in the country today. Basically, the U.S. right now spends $117,000 for every public school teacher that is out there, whereas the current average teacher salary is just over $38,000, roughly one out of three dollars per public school teacher. In fact, among new teachers, the types of people whom we all want to attract into the public schools, there has actually been a 4 percent decline in their compensation, after inflation, from 1987 to 1994.
We have a system that is in place with these monolithic agreements that the unions have where they are driving out new people who want to enter the profession. That is because the highest amounts of compensation, the additional increases that come from their negotiations, go to teachers who have more seniority. And the first teachers to go are the new teachers who are entering. They are not protected by tenure; they are the first ones to get laid off.
I think that is a significant issue to look at here, because if we get these people and they are in a new class and very dedicated and very enthusiastic, but a year or two later are going to be out or are just going to be extremely low paid, that is not something which is in the public's best interest here.
Along the same lines, there is also a tremendous amount of political activity that both unions are involved in, by their own accounting, and this could most likely be challenged in an arbitration or some other matter. The unions will indicate that about 70 percent of their dues money right now goes to collective bargaining, contract administration and grievance procedures that are out there. When you consider that the NEA and AFT and their State and local chapters have combined revenues of 1.2 billion a year. The 30 percent of 1.2 billion which is not in collective bargaining activity and for political activity and other endeavors is, first of all, an awful lot of money that the dues-payers are--the teachers are shelling out and a lot of money that is going toward noncore activity.
I think that the unions in terms of being successful, we have to give the unions credit for one thing, and that is being effective at perpetuating agreements that are similar in focus. They have the staffing infrastructure to perpetuate agreements. And share that information with their membership and negotiate agreements that, while they are primarily going to reward or nearly exclusively reward teachers based on years of service and the degree obtained, they are nonetheless skilled negotiators with school boards and are out there getting these major agreements implemented.
Just to contrast that, the National School Boards Association, an organization that has revenues of about 17 million a year, which quite dwarfs the NEA and AFT combined, I don't think you can underestimate the impact that they are having on public education. It is something, which merits further scrutiny, particularly in light of the merger discussions.
Ms. Feistritzer. I don't purport to be an expert on the unions. The biggest problem I have with the teachers unions and have had over the years has been that they do protect the mediocre and in some cases the incompetent. I think that is unconscionable.
It is very hard to get rid of bad teachers. I think they may have a lot to do with the hiring practices problem that we raised earlier. However, I have been very encouraged that both of the teachers unions have been favorably disposed to the concept of alternative teacher certification, and I must say that sort of surprised me. But they have been on the sidelines; they have not jumped into that issue pro or con. I commend them for that.
Chairman Riggs. You are saying that by their staying neutral on that, that means they are favorably disposed?
Ms. Feistritzer. For the NEA, I think that is what that means.
Ms. Haycock. The truth is, our experience is quite mixed. In some of the local work we do around the country in Long Beach, in parts of Los Angeles and Arkansas and New York, unions are, if anything, at the head of the pack in terms of change. In other communities we are working in, including Philadelphia, unions are very, very different than that.
So there is no neat answer to your question, are unions the problem or are they part of the solution? I have been among those that have been skeptical about the efforts to reinvent the unions. But I have actually, mostly because of local experience, become a little more optimistic that those will have some effect. That these are actually sincere efforts, it would seem, to draw unions into new roles as really professional organizations. I think we could actually speed that along if collective bargaining were restricted to bread-and-butter issues, but I think we ought to be pushing it and encouraging it and helping leaders in what is obviously a very tough task.
Mr. Berry. I look forward to answering this question. Let me first say that unions are no more the problem than administrators who hire teachers, legislators who pass overprescriptive laws or researchers who do shoddy analysis of other people's work.
Yes, unions have been obstacles, but no more so than many other groups. I will tell you, as Kati has just suggested, some of the best work that is being done in this country right now is being done and led by the unions.
I would love for you to turn, as I spoke to Representative Roemer about earlier, to the case study of Cincinnati where the unions have been working with the administration and the school board for 10 years now. They have the most powerful form of peer review based upon real teaching standards which very few States and districts have in this country. And now the unions, where the best teachers involved in the review of other teachers are getting rid of bad teachers at 10 times the rate when only administrators were involved.
You show me another district, another State organized traditionally in terms of teacher evaluation and the like; you will not find, you will not give me data like those. In Cincinnati also, you will find their best teachers being paid $7,000 a year more. They are beginning to identify those teachers to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. With $7,000 a year more, they are expected to teach children, not leave the classroom part of the day and work at the University of Cincinnati in their new teacher Ed program as well as review their colleagues and new teachers.
Finally, there is good--there are good studies and good data, the Rand Corporation did a study several years ago looking at unions. We all know Maslo's theory--self-esteem, highest levels of the pyramid when you are self-actualized; if you are down at the bottom level of the pyramid, all you kind of focus on are the bases.
Guess what the study found? Unions that had the bread and butter taken care of, they do things like Cincinnati.
I would encourage you to look hard at what that means. The presence of both ATF and the NEA, which serve on the commission, have been strong proponents of peer review for the rest of the country. Tenure has not worked, primarily not because of tenure per se, but because of shoddy evaluation systems that have been driven by incompetent practices and ill-conceived plans out of State departments and school districts alike. Good teacher evaluation will get rid of bad teachers any day of the week.
Chairman Riggs. Are Cincinnati teachers affiliated with the NEA?
Mr. Berry. AFT.
Mr. Roemer. I will be brief. Mr. Berry and I were talking in between the two panels. I would just add that Chicago public school reform has also taken on, through union cooperation, reconstitution of schools, closure of schools, and firing of bad teachers. The unions are participating in solving the public school problem.
Mr. Ballou, I would like to ask you a question about alternative teacher certification, something I am very interested in. What studies are out there that indicate that the average age of the beginning teacher is now 28 or 29 years old?
Mr. Ballou. Those data come from the National Center for Education Statistics' school and staffing surveys, just a large, nationwide, representative sample of teachers; and among the things they asked them is, how old are you and when did you start teaching?
Mr. Roemer. What kinds of backgrounds? Are we finding they are coming from different kinds of backgrounds, similar backgrounds, what kinds of professions?
Mr. Ballou. I am glad you asked that question because I can't answer it. You would think that would be exactly the kind of question I ought to be able to answer. I can't because of the inadequate data collection that goes into that survey.
What you ought to do is call up the Department of Education and say, let's get some more longitudinal information about what these people have been doing before they decided to teach. We would all like to know.
Mr. Roemer. What about any kind of information that we can glean from midcareer changes or early retirement at 50 or 55 or 60 or 65 and people that want to go into teaching? Have there been studies of that phenomenon and how we could take advantage in a positive way of people coming in with great experience to help us meet the crisis that we have been hearing more and more about today?
Mr. Ballou. There may have been. I am not familiar with them. You might want to approach States that have fairly elaborate alternative certification programs and ask them what kind of internal studies they have done. New Jersey is one such State, and I know they have looked internally at their program. I am not sure they will have the answer to that question. Virginia is another State that has a fairly extensive alternative certification program.
I would just like to add one point, I think alternative certification ought to be open to anybody. You don't have to be 30 years old or out of school for 7 or 8 years. If you have ability and interest, even if you have decided one year after you got out of college, I wish I had prepared to become a teacher, why not give an individual of promise that opportunity?
It is an unfortunate feature of a lot of the current programs that there are actual time limits. You have to be out of school for five years before you can qualify for this program. You are missing people at a point in their life when they are quite mobile and moving from job to job. So there is another example of where we need more flexibility.
Mr. Roemer. None of us ever legislate around here by anecdote but there is an anecdote on this alternative certification about the man who worked with H&R Block, I think his name was Thomas Block. He brought great understanding of mathematics and accounting and all other kinds of lifetime experiences to the teaching profession. He wanted to step down from a $600,000 a year job and teach, and he couldn't go into the public school system to teach. He ended up in a private school where he is now still teaching.
And we should be able to find some ways to do those kinds of innovative things for the public school system while not tolerating teachers that cannot do the job or let that teacher that is poorly trained through an education system into the system. I think that there are some ways through the flexibility of this system to build and construct a better way of doing this. I think that the alternative teacher certification issue, while not a panacea and a silver bullet, is certainly part of an interesting way to get at the problem.
I thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Riggs. It occurred to me, as you were saying that, maybe we ought to have alternative certification for former Members of Congress.
Mr. Roemer. I am not sure anybody would want me, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Riggs. I am just going to close by asking--unfortunately, Mr. Miller is not here, but I certainly will follow up with him on this. I am intrigued by his parents right-to-know proposal, but it seems to me that if you follow that logic, it then has to lead to a parent's right to choose.
I am wondering, Mr. Steidler, if you have seen anything in your travels and studies that would indicate that parental choice might have the effect of improving teacher quality?
Mr. Steidler. Sure. I think a couple of things come to mind in that respect.
One is, when we talk about the issue of choice, we should keep in mind that, first and foremost, those children who are in horrible schools, as soon as they get an option to go to a better school, are going to be getting a better education. That is out there and that is something that for their sake is extremely important and very good in and of its own right.
I would just like to share with the committee some comments from Mr. John Gardner out of Milwaukee who is the only elected member of the school board elected on a city-wide basis and who is a liberal Democrat. He attributes a number of major improvements in the City of Milwaukee's public schools to the fact that there has been a small-scale voucher program. Specifically, the fact that seven innovative schools have been exempted from burdensome administrative and contractual requirements, the fact that the city created the highest high school graduation standards in the country, which will be starting in the year 2004, the fact that there has been a significant expansion of specialty schools, Montessori, language immersion, college bound programs in minority areas, and the fact that there have been improvements in labor contract negotiations and that the city is better able to fire incompetent teachers.
He has also observed that the choice program in Milwaukee is also being discussed in the courts right now. His sense is that when the pendulum swings against the choice program in the courts, you can almost sense amongst the school board more reticence about enacting reforms like this and common sense approaches that go forward.
I think that is some pretty telling information.
Chairman Riggs. Thank you.
I also will close just by saying that it occurs to me in looking at the research that decentralization and site-based decisionmaking is another way of empowering teachers and improving teacher morale. I hope that is a good argument for the other body, as we refer to them, for the Senate to take up our bipartisan legislation, Congressman Roemer's and my legislation, that would allow the use of Federal taxpayer funding to encourage States to create more charter schools.
I very much appreciate again your participation and your input. It has been extremely valuable. I also want to thank you for your patience in basically indulging us as this turned out to be a full day's hearing. With that, the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Youth and Families hearing on teacher reform stands adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 3:15 p.m., the subcommittee was adjourned.]