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Is there a “Teacher Shortage” in Seattle?

The Seattle Times and the teachers union agree there is.  But is there a shortage of people who want to teach, or a shortage of people who the rules will let teach? This figure show the real problem  … in a tight and challenging job market no one wants to go to “teacher school.”

Why is this?

Salary?  No.  Beginning salaries in Seattle are now at $70,000. That is higher than all but the most competitive jobs .. e.g. in high tech.  Graduates with degrees in math, English, Spanish, literature, history are working for minimum wage at Starbucks or driving for Uber.

Education? Well, there’s the rub.  The union rules require an ed degree or an ed certificate.  The course work in ed schools is heavy on “pedagogy.”  What is that?  “Pedagogy refers more broadly to the theory and practice of education, and how this influences the growth of learners. Pedagogy, taken as an academic discipline, is the study of how knowledge and skills are exchanged in an educational context, and it considers the interactions that take place during learning.” Wikipedia

Funny thing, degrees in pedagogy are not sought after by business or academia or outside the public schools.  Why?  Because the evidence that these theories are useful is about at the level of alchemy or acupuncture.  Meanwhile the certificated teacher responsible for teaching the new math has no idea what set theory is, and the social sciences teacher has almost certainly never read Marx’s Das Kapital or Sandburg’s Lincoln.

Career Advancement? Guess how most teachers get career advances?  Do they get points for classroom achievements?  Usually no.  Do they take subject matter courses and earn advanced degrees?  Rarely.  What they do is get more ed degrees.  That “PhD” after their names is almost always from another ed school.

Race?  Ethnicity?  The schools are serious about these issues and that is good.  But ask yourself why an immigrant from Somalia would choose this job when, if she has the talent and drive that got her here, Ms. Omar will be recruited by Amazon for the same reasons.

Meanwhile, Seattle’s great private schools, usually paying lower salaries, have long lines of applicants.


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