We finish a two-part series on the teaching profession, with a look at how we prepare our teachers. After criticism claiming credentialing standards in the U.S. are lax, many states, including New Hampshire, are trying to raise the bar and turn out more qualified teachers. Some say more in-classroom experience is key. But there are challenges to such changes, including the expense.
Today, defining a good teacher has become far more complex than we might remember from our own schooldays. Many states now rely on student test scores as a major way to assess teacher quality, while others also use classroom observations, student evaluations, and lesson plan reviews. Backers of tougher assessments argue that since U.S. students as a whole are lagging behind other industrialized nations, something needs to be done. But others worry that these data-driven judgments diminish what’s really important: teachers using their skills and creativity to engage with students .
Concerned parents, teachers, and children held a rally in Manchester Saturday to protest the state of the Manchester school district. At least 200 people showed up to the rally at Veterans Memorial Park.
The event was organized by Citizens for Manchester Schools, a group formed in response to a budget shortfall that prompted the school district to lay off close to 150 teachers.
One of the group’s chief concerns is the burgeoning average class size in Manchester, with some classes reaching over 40 students.
Students at Garfield Elementary School eat dinner as part of an after-school program in Kansas City, Mo. In the past few years, a federally subsidized school dinner program has spread from six to all 50 states.
Credit Charlie Riedel / AP
Kathleen Fiengo has worked in school cafeterias for 25 years, but only in the past year did she start cooking supper for kids at Nathan Hale Elementary in Manchester, Conn.
Not long after the start of the school year, Monique Sanders, a teacher at Nathan Hale Elementary School in Manchester, Conn., realized many of her students were going to bed hungry.
"It was very bad. I had parents calling me several times a week, asking did I know of any other way that they could get food because they had already gone to a food pantry," Sanders says. "The food pantry only allows you to go twice per month, so if you are running low on your food stamps or you didn't get what you needed and you're not able to feed your family, that's very stressful."
April Casanova-Rios (second from right) visits the school health center at Abraham Lincoln High School in Los Angeles with her family. Her son, Isaiah Casanova (to her right), is a sophomore at the school.
Under the federal health care law, money is going out around the country to help school campuses boost health services for their students.
At Abraham Lincoln High School in Los Angeles students often visit a modest trailer at the back of the sprawling campus. It's in a neighborhood near downtown L.A. where houses are missing windows and have peeling paint.
Lawmakers heard testimony Monday about a bill that would give public school students an average of $2,500 for homeschooling or private school attendance.
The funds would come from a tax credit given to businesses that donate to state-certified scholarship programs.
“In the last decade eight states have launched education tax credit programs to expand educational opportunities for hundreds of thousands of students,” said House Majority DJ Bettencourt, who sponsored the legislation.
“Education tax credit programs have saved money in other states,” said Bettencourt.