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Topic: New NCLB: Performance Pay Included
Replies: 2   Last Post: Aug 28, 2007 1:17 PM

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Dave L. Renfro

Posts: 4,792
Registered: 12/3/04
Re: New NCLB: Performance Pay Included
Posted: Aug 28, 2007 1:17 PM
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Richard Strausz posted:

> August 27, 2007
> With Turnover High, Schools Fight for Teachers


> "But most of the urban districts have no coherent
> hiring strategy", he said. Many receive thousands
> of teacher applications in the spring but leave them
> unprocessed until principals return from August
> vacations, when more organized suburban districts
> have already hired the most-qualified teachers, he said.

This suggests an obvious local solution to the problem,
although not a global solution. By "local solution", I
mean something a particular go-getter Principal can do
that would make a huge difference for his school, although
not if every (or even just enough) Principal(s) did it.
What I'm talking about is using some common sense in
looking for candidates. If they're in short supply,
then you need to appropriately covet the applicants.

I'm reminded of the time I was looking for a teaching
position in Spring 1988 as a candidate in South Carolina's
alternative certification "Critical Needs Program". While
I got a couple of interviews in the Columbia, SC area
(where I was living at the time), I basically heard
nothing from the several dozen applications and inquirers
I made throughout the state. Then, I think it was mid
to late May 1988, I got a phone call from a Principal
who got my name off a job bank list, asking if I'd
be interested in driving down (about 100 miles away)
for an interview. Given that I was pretty desperate by
then, I said yes, and we arranged for me to visit
within the next two or three days.

The Principal pretty much sold me on the position.
After asking about the extent of my tennis background
(mentioned on my SC State Teacher applicant data
sheet), he said I was welcome to coach tennis if
I wanted, especially since last year's coach
had left the school for a position elsewhere.
Because housing in this extremely poor area of
the state was almost non-existent (this county
was first in the state in virtually every poverty
demographic), he offered to rent a trailer he
owned for me to live in. Because of my math
background, he offered me geometry and the highest
level "general math" (i.e. pre-algebra) to teach.
He couldn't give me algebra 2 or precalculus because
a long-time teacher (who was also considered among
the top 2 or 3 teachers at the school) had a lock
on those courses, and the school didn't offer calculus.

I was virtually broke at the time, with no savings,
no credit cards, and my parents were just getting
by so it would have been very difficult for them to
lend me a few hundred dollars, so by staying in the
Principal's trailer I didn't have to come up with
a deposit and first month's rent when I moved -- he
said I could pay him gradually as my first few paychecks
came in. To save on moving expenses, he also let me
borrow his pick-up truck for things I couldn't fit
into my car, and he even got one of the school's
janitors to help me move. He paid the janitor out
of his own pocket, the janitor working as a private
individual and not as a school employee.

If this Principal had not contacted me first,
I probably would not have known about the opening
(this was before the internet), since the school
was well off my radar at the time. At the time my
radar was focused on a position where I could teach
at least one or two honors level algebra classes
or upper level classes (e.g. precalculus), maybe
calculus if the moon turned blue. However, I was too
inexperienced to realize that these positions are
extremely rare and the few that existed were
essentially unattainable for a beginning teacher,
at least at that time in South Carolina. (It may
be different now and it may have been different
elsewhere back then.)

This Principal didn't have "thousands of teacher
applications", or even a handful from what I seem
to recall, and yet he managed to get the job done,
year after year. Unfortunately, despite his efforts
and despite his ability as a Principal (a few years
before I arrived, he was brought in, at the state
level I think, in an attempt to turn the school
around [1]), many of these new teachers only stayed
a year or two. Nevertheless, he always managed to
fill the positions, going "out of the box" when
necessary. For example, a couple of years before
I was there he managed to bring in a provisionally
certified teacher with a Ph.D. in math, who I believe
was able to use the experience to get a position teaching
advanced high school mathematics at one of the better
suburban districts in the state.

[1] Due to circumstances I don't know the details about,
he wound up leaving a few years after I left and, within
a few years after that, the school district became the
first (and only that I'm aware of) to be taken over
by the SC Department of Education.

Dave L. Renfro

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