Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Do the Math: New Teacher Project Doesn't Add Up

What if you got paid to fail? And the S.C. legislature helps to pay you? Sounds like Alice in Wonderland, doesn't it? Well, how about the New Teacher Project (NTP), contracted by CCSD to provide about 100 teachers per year for two years for the sum of $1.1 million.

Okay, that's $1.1 million divided by 200, which equals approximately $5500 per teacher.

Now, if the organization finds and trains teachers for failing schools that have difficulty recruiting and, especially, retaining teachers, and those recruits effectively teach for, say, at least five years each, that works out as a pretty good, if somewhat expensive, deal for students in failing schools.

But, what if NTP doesn't reach its target? Why, the NTP must pay CCSD $1500 for each position it falls short of the minimum of 90 per year that the contract requires. That means the NTP earns $4000 for each teacher IT DOESN'T FIND!

Right now, according to today's P & C, the project has signed nine teachers, "only 10 percent of the goal," and has 14 "potential hires" more in the works, for a potential total of 23. School begins in about six weeks. The seven middle and high schools in question have about 50 vacancies. The article does not clarify if 50 is the norm for them.

While the site manager for NTP says that she "believes Teach Charleston will meet its goal," let's assume just for argument's sake that instead of signing 90 it signs 50. NTP will then pay CCSD $60,000 for the shortfall, but NTP will have received $550,000 as the contract requires, for a cost to the district of $11,000 per teacher. A bit stiff, don't you think? What if NTP signs only 25?

One would hope that these teachers not only must sign but also must teach for a minimum number of months in order to count as fulfilling the obligation. Who knows?

And where does the state legislature come into play, you ask? In order to pay for Teach Charleston, CCSD "wanted to" pay half and get the community to pay the other half. Right now the community has contributed $27,600, or about 10 percent of its share.


"The community" apparently includes the state legislature, which in its wisdom has granted $100,000 to the Coastal Community Foundation to give to Teach Charleston as part of the pork [read "earmarks"] doled out from its Competitive Grants Committee made up of former state legislators. So in effect the state legislature has given CCSD another $100,000.

No, don't get me wrong. I hope NTP succeeds with these schools that desperately need effective and stable teaching staffs. There are other ways in which the legislature could help, however--even if the State Department of Education, Jim Rex, and the education lobby would blow a collective gasket if it did:

  • South Carolina should accept out-of-state certificates in good standing as qualifying those who hold them to teach in SC public schools, and those attempting to change careers through alternative certification should have their process smoothed and made less expensive.

  • A hefty proportion of non-need-based lottery scholarships should be awarded to those pledging to teach for at least three years.

  • Teachers who take advantage of state funding to get National Board Certification should be required to teach and/or mentor for at least three years in failing schools in order to get the salary bonus.

And individual school districts, such as CCSD, must revamp their support of "newbies" by mentors and principals as well as their discipline programs to prevent the huge percentage of certified teachers who leave the profession prematurely. Stop blaming that drain on low salaries alone.


Anonymous said...

Just like Edison, CEP and whatever the private bus service is called that took over from First Student, New Teacher now seems to be nothing more than an attempt to line the pockets of others through outsourcing. I recall that both Goodloe and some board members spent a lot of time on this contract last fall saying how good it would be. Hiring outside contractors is fine if they can do it better, cheaper and while improving things in general for CCSD students and employees. Goodloe's administration and the county board have been big supporters of outsourcing. Who's really checking to see if they are meeting their goals. Good for McGinley for pulling the curtain back on some of these programs. Isn't it getting to be time for an outside audit?

Anonymous said...

Do you guys ever have any positive information about CCSD. And I know there are good things going on in CCSD!

Anonymous said...

Well 11:46 post, why don't you go back and initiate the Schoolmovement blog site. They put a positive spin on everything the district did and the "Yes Ma'am" board members. They constantly ran down the Engelman's, Ray and Lurline. Did you complain about that? They must have done "something positive" when they were on the board. This blog site doesn't run down everything. They just uncover the way the "Yes Ma'am" board members hide things in the agenda and then vote it through

memminger1945 said...

Try this. We still have a public school system with 79 schools operating in Charleston County where 42,000 students were enrolled at the end of the last school year and haven't yet abandoned. That's a starting point and it's positive.

As the Channel 4 reporter pointed out, Charleston is the 3rd most integrated community in the US. The US Supreme Court has said that race is a consideration (not an objective), that placing resources and giving support for excellent public schools where the need is greatest. We have a lot of diverse neighborhoods and a relatively rich community. This is good information and we now know it.

Charleston County taxpayers have made nearly half a billion dollars available annually to support those objectives. We have it within our reach to have excellent public schools available to most and we believe we deserve it sooner rather than later. Is this positive enough?

Anonymous said...

Citizens have a civic responsibility in a free society to stay informed. They have a right to know why the people running the local public school system aren't doing a very good job (actually in some important areas they mat be doing a very bad job). In light of all the positive things going for public schools here, some of citizens want to know why so many local schools keep missing the “very good” and “excellent” mark while so many in comparable communities (some located in SC) are doing a very good job at providing an education for their students. It's good to know that Charleston has individuals and groups that are working to inform each other about local schools and the system that runs them. They are sharing data and whatever else they know. That’s a good thing, too.

The CCSD system is huge and often difficult for individual parents to negotiate under normal circumstances. It is made more difficult when the system is discovered to work against parents who are not politically connected or who have been pigeon-holed because of biased assumptions that discriminate against them. Parents are discovering this because they are sharing information. It should be a shock that within such a huge system, there are those who make bad assumptions that hurt students and parents on a daily basis. Many now feel that CCSD as a large institution in a defensive mode has for years attempted to make parents feel that they are alone on an issue, isolated, going against the grain and are "the only ones who feel that way". Goodloe-Johnson's entire leadership style embodied this type of bias in order to advance “the system”.

It's a very positive thing when parents are able to compare their experiences in order to raise the right questions. This is often the only way they can feel empowered in the face of such a large bureaucracy and support more effectively the local schools they know best. Genuine support sometimes involves constructive criticism or making formal complaints with watchdog agencies that are supposed to protect the public interests.

It's been said that with elected leaders and those in authority, the public should "Trust 'em, but check 'em." We have and we are. That's positive.

Anonymous said...

I see that a lot of the problems with CCSD as stated by most where cause by Goodloe Johnson. That my people are not true, we have problems in CCSD that were covered up since I started working there, some 25 years ago. So stop pointing your finger at one person and start recognizing that everyone must take some responsibility

Babbie said...

I couldn't agree more that CCSD's problems have not been caused by one person, not even by the last half dozen superintendents. I'm trying to take that cover OFF, since the P & C is disinclined to do so.

Anonymous said...

You wouldn't be writing about this if the paper hadn't already done so. I don't see how that makes the paper "disinclined to do so."

You react to what other people say or do. You bring nothing to the table of your own.

Tell us something that the paper hasn't written about. Otherwise, put you heads back up your butts.

it's de ja vu all over again said...

You want someone to spell it out for you...then alright. One, two, three, four bad management decisions (some posted here for the first time), it's starting to look like CCSD has major new problems developing on the horizon. How much of a budget problem to we have that are tied to contracts that appear to be golden parachutes for every party except CCSD? With so many management decisions in question it's starting to look like a runaway train with no engineers to take responsibility or apply the breaks. I feel for the new superintendent who at least appears to have been open to discuss these issues. For years board members have avoided any such discussions, even among themselves...and with credit due the few in the minority who vainly tried. Unfortunately for the new superintendent it is her board's majority (and its cheering section) that are the ones with their heads in the sand (or wherever you'd have them put their heads).

Anonymous said...

Some claim they want new ideas, but can't recognized the ones now directly in front of them. Look, we've got 2 minutes to speak at CCSD meetings and out board members don't return phone calls or respond to e-mails. That should be news. With an election coming up in less than 16 months that will determine the future of the board's leadership, it should be news to the P&C that school board members are so unreachable to their constituents. If it was suggested that only a heated public discussion would get their attention, the old superintendent would say she interpreted this as an implied threat to start a fire. No heated discussions allowed involving CCSD.

If a superintendent (or one of the cheering sycophants on the sidelines) can’t stand the heat then they should get out of the kitchen. It is unfortunate that until now, we have seen few who could stand the heat. CCSD board members claim the superintendent is the CEO and calls all the shots. If that’s so, then the CEO shouldn’t mind regularly fielding tough questions from stockholders (the public). But if that’s not acceptable to the Board, then maybe the stockholders’ wrath should be turned on them since they are CCSD’s real power brokers.

G-J is history, sad as CCSD’s entire history has been preserving a vast and corrupt system designed only to protect jobs and lucrative contracts. Now it’s McGinley’s turn to see if she will be just as ineffective as virtually all of her predecessors have been. I’d like to believe she’ll be different but Goodloe’s performance has dashed what little hope remained for that to ever be possibly under the current consolidated system.

Unless there is a fundamental change to how it is organized or possibly dismantled altogether, the ultimate spoiler continues to be the collective incompetence of the county school board. Who carries the title of superintendent is of little consequence. The chairman and the majority of the county board who elect him or her (Nancy Cook in this case) is where all the blame should be placed for 40 years of presiding over the unforgivable mess that has been made of our county’s public schools.

Sorry, but there's nothing positive to be said about it. It’s too late to play Pollyanna.

Anonymous said...

I am a highly qualified teacher attempting to "come back" to CCSD and I can't get through the HR red tape. I think I may just keep my job in retail (it pays just as well without the CCSD headaches).
Maybe if we could get HR at 75 Calhoun Street treating teachers like they should, we wouldn't have to look elsewhere for help recruiting them.

Anonymous said...

Well, maybe you left on bad terms. When did you left CCSD, the highly qualifed is a new thing maybe less than 5 years and current teachers are still trying to meet that with class and other training.

We need great teachers in CCSD, not disguntled individuals

Anonymous said...

Naw, the word is that the new system that HR is using is not working. It's too big and too centralized a process, especially since they seem to be making all the assignments from Calhoun St. Principals may even have less of a say who gets assigned to them. It's doubtful that CCSD will have less teacher vacancies when schools open next month. It may very well have as many or more unfilled positions as in the past.

Anonymous said...

Actually, for teachers the district office issue "employment clearance" and the applicant contracts the school(s) with the vanancy and interviews witht he principal. The ultimate decision for teachers is the principal. Principals conduct teacher interviews and they decide. I would contact the school or principal that you wish to work for and schedule and interview with them, make sure you have clearance from the district. Good luck

Anonymous said...

There was an article in sunday's paper about CCSD and it was a positive article about special education placement. Why don't you put articles like that. You are just looking for negative things about CCSD?

Anonymous said...

It's the teacher again. The poster below me wrote, "...when did you LEFT CCSD?"
Poster, please tell me you don't work for our schools. It's sad to think you use such poor grammar, but even more sad to realize how rude some people are. That was my first posting and I was simply trying to offer an opinion shared by myself and teachers I know.
No wonder we're losing all of the good ones. You should identify yourself so we can show the new Superintendent where the REAL problems lie. Maybe when I'm a little less disgusted, I'll take the time to tell you my story.

Anonymous said...

Actually, the problems are people like you who are out to destroy our schools in Charleston. Maybe you need to work in our schools and you will see how it is, however I think you should stay on the sidelines and complain like everyone else.

We need more people to complain about CCSD. I am sure that will benefit our children.
Please stop complaining, it's apparent that you are uneducated on this subject area.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I'm back...
You frighten me.

Anonymous said...

A charleston resident/teacher that is passionate about education. And you?