Do weaker math students end up with weaker teachers?

math (Medium)We’ve spent a lot of time on this blog discussing the under performance of Georgia students in math.

We’ve debated the controversial and now abandoned math reforms introduced by former state school chief Kathy Cox, which stumbled in part because teachers were not adequately trained. We’ve talked about whether the problem owes to what’s being taught or who’s teaching it

Here’s some fodder to further our debate. Education Week has an interesting piece on new research on math instruction and teacher assignments. Please read the full piece in Ed Week before commenting.

An excerpt:

In many schools in the United States, students struggling the most in mathematics at the start of high school have the worst odds of getting a qualified teacher in the subject, new research finds. Succeeding in freshman-level mathematics is critical for students to stay on track to high school graduation, with students who make poor grades in math in 8th and 9th grades more likely to leave school entirely.

Yet two new studies presented at the Association for Education Finance and Policy meeting here last month suggest that students who enter high school performing below average in math have a lower chance of getting a teacher who is well-qualified to teach math than do higher-achieving students.

In one study, Cara Jackson, a research assistant at the University of Maryland College Park, analyzed the math course taking and achievement of 12,900 9th graders at 730 high schools nationwide who were linked with their high school math teachers as part of the federal High School Longitudinal Study of 2009. Ms. Jackson calculated the odds of different students’ learning math in 9th grade from a “qualified” teacher, defined as one who: had earned at least a bachelor’s degree, with seven or more different courses taken in mathematics; was certified by the state to teach high school math; and had been teaching at least five years.

Ms. Jackson found that in schools considered high-performing on the basis of state math and language arts test scores, students in special education and those enrolled in low-level math classes are slightly more likely to get a qualified teacher than students in higher-level math classes. By contrast, in average and low-performing schools, it is the reverse. In low-achieving schools, special education students and those in low-level math classes are a third less likely to have a qualified math teacher than their higher-achieving peers.

In 9th grade, Ms. Jackson found, high-performing math students in average or low-performing schools had about 10 percent “higher odds of getting a qualified math teacher, even after controlling for the level of math they are taking,” she said. “If you have limited resources, you might put your teachers with the strongest content knowledge with the students in the highest-level math classes,” Ms. Jackson said, adding, “or it might just be a way to reward your best teachers. But that certainly makes it harder for low-achieving students to catch up to their peers.”

Similarly, in a separate report, researchers from the American Institutes of Research’s Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research, or CALDER, probed the differences in the value, as measured by assessment results, that teachers added at high-poverty and wealthy schools in Florida and North Carolina from 2000 to 2005.

At schools with more than 70 percent of their students in poverty, the researchers found, teachers were, on average, less effective than those at schools with less concentrated poverty. Specifically, while highly effective teachers performed at about the same level in both high- and low-poverty schools, there was a much greater range of effectiveness among lower-performing teachers in high-poverty schools than in richer ones. Teachers in high-poverty schools were also generally less likely to have a graduate degree, or to be certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

47 comments Add your comment

Political Mongrel

April 12th, 2013
12:13 am


April 12th, 2013
12:23 am

Very few elementary school teachers know math – much less can teach it.

William Casey

April 12th, 2013
1:06 am

My son is graduating in May with a degree in Mathematics (3.75 GPA.) He’s been employed by the University as a Math tutor since his sophomore year. I’m not a Math guy myself but I know that there is a 0% chance that he would teach in the public school environment of 2013. Good math people won’t tolerate being treated as serfs. They have other options. That’s just the way it is.


April 12th, 2013
1:48 am

I agree with William Casey. I have a degree in Mathematics and a Master’s degree in Education. All through college I wanted to be a high school teacher. I had a wonderful yearlong student teaching assignment during the Master’s and Certification program I attended. Then the nightmare started. My first teaching assignment was horrible. To add insult to injury, my fellow math degree graduates were out-earning me and liking their jobs. I loved being a teacher, so I looked for a better teaching environment. I was lucky enough to find one. That is the only reason I have been teaching for 17 years. When there are other less stressful and more lucrative options out there, why would a person agree to take a job where being mistreated is a given?

Truth in Moderation

April 12th, 2013
1:58 am

Avoid poor public school math teachers altogether; just use Khan Academy. It’s free!
This interview with Khan has a teacher describing how she uses his Academy in her class with great success!
ht tp://


April 12th, 2013
2:57 am

In other breaking news, studies have found that the most highly qualified and trained mechanics work on Indy 500 race cars while cars down at the local dirt track have lesser qualified mechanics.

The bigger question is “What do the lower level students, who don’t have a chance in hell of going to college, need with regards to mathmatics?”

I would say they need to be able to do basic math (add, subtract, multiply, divide), they need to be able to balance a checkbook, they need to be able to understand compound interest, you know, the stuff they might actually use in real life.

Whenever I read an article like the above, I wonder if anyone conducting “education research” has a clue. Or, as my dad would describe them, “smart as a whip but doesn’t have the sense God gave a billy goat.”


April 12th, 2013
5:37 am

Several of the commenters have made very good, very credible arguments.

In a nutshell: It isn’t the teachers, it’s the environment.

To put it more bluntly, the pernicious effects of high poverty are not easily overcome.

But don’t we already know that, and haven’t we known it for a long time?


April 12th, 2013
6:08 am

I was saved from taking Latin in high school because our teacher was drafted for WW2. In those days you either had to have latin or French to graduaete. I learned later that the idea was to teach the student to accept new worlds of learning. Learning difficult subjects is also a great confidence builder. In my eighty plus years, I have never known anyone who used calculus in their work or play but I still recommend that students take if if they the opportunity.

mountain man

April 12th, 2013
6:45 am

“I would say they need to be able to do basic math (add, subtract, multiply, divide), they need to be able to balance a checkbook, they need to be able to understand compound interest, you know, the stuff they might actually use in real life.”

I would agree with Lee here – leave the calculus classes to future engineers. Make sure our high school graduates can do the above. Also add be able to multiply numbers without pulling out their cell phone. And be able to understand that when they work at McDonald’s and tell me my total is $4.20 and I pull up to the window and hand them a five dollar bill and a quarter, that the change is a dollar bill and a nickel – without having to punch it into a cash register. Be able to do fractions (know that a 9/16 wrench has a bigger opening than a 1/2). Real life mathematics. How to calculate miles per gallon in your car.

HS Math Teacher

April 12th, 2013
6:58 am

Interesting research, but no big surprise. While the focus here is on the quality of teaching 9th grade math to struggling students in a high poverty school, maybe it should also be on the quality of the student’s math knowledge prior to entering the 9th grade.

The way the current system works for most elementary & middle schools of high poverty, kids are allowed to progress without earned merit. We’re just setting these struggling kids up for failure. We have one set of rules for progression in the lower grades, and then we snatch the rug out from under them in high school.


April 12th, 2013
6:59 am

In our school , it is a tossup. The teachers decide among themselves who will teach what level. Some grades rotate it, others have “specialists” in the lower performing kids.

I push into 2 math classes, both with significant numbers of EIP kids. The third grade one is taught by a highly competent teacher, and with a couple of exceptions, the kids have done wonders. The other is a second grade class, taught by a less experienced teacher (this is her second year in this grade, after quite a few in a lower grade). We have worked very hard, and many of the children have come very, very far. But, in this class as well, we have several who remain clueless, despite her efforts and mine.

Attentive Parent/Invisible Serfs Collar

April 12th, 2013
7:14 am


It is not factually true to say we have rejected the math standards we adopted under Kathy Cox. We have stated that but I heard Susan Patrick of Inacol announce in a meeting a few years ago that the Common Core math standards and the planned assessments were based on the Georgia math performance standards. GPS. Georgia’s Race to the Top application states the same thing. I have since read it other places and it fits with what I have seen of the Common Core actual math curriculum developed by the Shell Centre in the UK. With Gates funding and Georgia listed as one of the piloting states.

Those may be inconvenient facts with all the hype surrounding the Common Core. But little about the actual implementation matches the rhetoric. But the trail from the math integrated GPS to the national Common Core is too well documented to just airily say it’s been disregarded.

No it’s been nationalized. Especially the aspects of constructivism. Those are all the way through the Model Teaching Standards. Off to an early morning meeting. On education and the Common Core.

Van Jones

April 12th, 2013
7:47 am

Do weaker math students end up with weaker teachers?
I certainly hope so! Why waste the best teaching talent just bringing some up to average? Apply that teaching talent where the best and brightest can really excel!

old teach

April 12th, 2013
7:54 am

In my high school and before Math 123, math subjects were divvied up among the teachers so that everyone received some lower-level math classes. Therefore, a newbie didn’t wind up teaching all lower-level ninth graders. With 123, it isn’t germane, because you have more levels within the same class.


April 12th, 2013
7:55 am

Here’s another question — do the weaker math students end up as weak math teachers? “A” and “B” students get better paying jobs outside of the field of education… leaving our children with…

As the saying goes — you get what you pay (with some notable exceptions).

A reader

April 12th, 2013
7:59 am

There are no good math teachers in k-12. As other have pointed out, if you have a STEM degree then why teach when there are much more lucrative and satisfying careers available.

A Nonimus

April 12th, 2013
8:14 am

A reader- generalizations are always wrong.

Edumacate That

April 12th, 2013
8:30 am

I concur with Attentive Parent. The Common Core crap incorporates much of Georgia’s math smoothie. It was a failure here and now it will go viral. They can PR it however they want, and they can even change the course names, but there are some of us out here that actually read the standards and know nothing has really changed. Consequently, my kids all get mommy-math at home. This is in addition to their regular math assignments. I know it is “paying off” in our case as our 14 yo scored an 800 on the SAT Math section.


April 12th, 2013
8:34 am

Common sense tells us that the higher qualified math teachers would teach higher level math courses (Algebra II, trigonometry, calculus), and especially the AP/Honors versions. But this is as it should be. The better coaches move up to the Varsity from JV, college professors typically have more academic credentials than high school teachers, trunk airlines have more experienced pilots than the feeders, brain surgeons have more medical schooling than general practitioners, etc.

We are not (yet) in a purely socialistic society where everything is forced to be made equal.


April 12th, 2013
8:36 am

We have been living for some time now in the age of Science.

With every passing year more and more jobs are requiring math skills that go beyond arithmetic. The increasing demand for and use of comuputer technology by Business is the main drive behind this constant need for math savvy employees. This will only increase in the years to come.

Unfortunately, most of us do not have the necessary apptitude to master the needed higher math skills needed for these jobs.

As evidence, consider all the recent college grads who majored in English, Geography, Literature, History and Philosophy who are back home now living with Mom and Dad because they can’t find work.

In contrast, most college graduates in Math, Computer Science, Computer Engineering and other related degrees are having little trouble finding employment.

Also, consider that while high schools are constantly complaining about the lack of qualified math and science teachers, you never hear them complaining about a lack of History, English, Social Studies, or Geography teachers.

The net result of this will be an increasing problem of too many unqualified people for jobs requiring high math skills.

concerned educator

April 12th, 2013
8:44 am

We need to look at how backwards thinking the class size limits are in the state of Georgia. Why do gifted classes have smaller limits than general level classes? The general level students need smaller student to teacher ratios than gifted students. There are more discipline problems with general level students due to their frustration levels in learning while many gifted students welcome difficulty in learning a new concept as a challenge to overcome.


April 12th, 2013
8:46 am

A lot of success is simply motivation. If you want to learn, you will work hard at it.

Most of those stuck in poverty are told over and over that it is someone else’s fault. Your being denied a good education because of skin color or your economic status. This simply breeds a less motivated student (I cannot get ahead, so why work for it). (It is being handed to others..)

To me the main problem with public education is the “education degree”. They learn a lot of theory and terminology, but little about teaching a struggling student.

what's best for kids?

April 12th, 2013
8:50 am

Yes. The same holds true for all subjects. The best teachers should be with the neediest students. Unfortunately, that is not the case. The best teachers shoul dbe paid more to work with the neediest students.


April 12th, 2013
8:50 am

and the best coaches get the best talent…..because they can make the most positive difference with that talent. The issue is why bad teachers are allowed to continue teaching.


April 12th, 2013
8:52 am

I wonder if math “skills” are required to be a computer technician, perhaps an engineer, but a technician?. Perhaps the computer has replaced the need to have extensive math skills,perhaps. Then again with the APS rehiring prinicipals implicated in the cheating…….???? Who would want to teach at APS anyway, math competent or not?


April 12th, 2013
9:01 am

As a head at a college-prep I found two things that impact this question. First, the definition of a “best” teacher is a slippery slope. Some of the “best” teachers of the gifted were sad with slower learners. And some of the so-called “weaker teachers” were best with those not gifted in math. So I question the mantra that says one definition of “best” fits all. And second, often in the hierarchy of both public and private schools, the heads of departments or teachers with seniority are the ones who get to pick which classes they want to teach. Most will pick the classes with the most gifted students – after all, they usually are more motivated, easier to teach, and with the best results. The teachers I always loved were the ones who gained the most satisfaction from seeing results from those students who needed the extra attention and encouragement most. And fortunately I worked with many of them – all who earned my respect and greatest appreciation.


April 12th, 2013
9:06 am

@ indigo, I agree and disagree….the world isn’t completely run by STEMs….my daughter is a high school senior who has taken Math 1-4. That means she has gotten to pre-calculus….she will enter college as a Business major…who has never had a basic business math class! She doesn’t NEED pre-Calc! HIgh schools complain about unqualified or underqualified STEM teachers because they can make much more money outside education right now.

p.s. there are STEM graduates back home with mom and dad too – some of them lack the skills and motivation to present themselves intelligently to employers


April 12th, 2013
9:39 am

Intra-school: the higher achieving kids in the tougher classes are plums for the more experienced math teachers. Calculus, trig, analytic geometry, ap statistics will ALWAYS be taught by long service veterans, department heads, etc. even if there’s a new college graduate with a BS in Mathematics (not math ed) with 4 recent semesters of calculus under his/her belt. Not saying what should be, but what is.

Inter-school: Like other teachers, math teachers will, given time, vote with their feet to gravitate towards the student populations that are harder working, more respectful and more studious. Since math is consistently an area with a mild shortage of qualified teachers, this effect will tend to be somewhat stronger in math than in other subjects.

On a meta level: the only way for students to learn math is to do it. To the extent that the lower-performing students are differentiated, scaffolded, coddled, etc. and protected from the harmful effects of devoting, say, 20 minutes a night into doing math homework, to that same extent those students will be left behind by their more dedicated, harder-working peers.


April 12th, 2013
9:42 am

Again–all you can do is shoot down the very people who have dedicated their lives to teaching children. You ALL are pitiful and need to run out immediately and purchase a mirror!!!


April 12th, 2013
9:47 am

“I wonder if math “skills” are required to be a computer technician, perhaps an engineer, but a technician?.”

The ability to do differential and integral calculus, ordinary differential equations, combinatorics, and statistical analysis – nope, I don’t think so.

The ability to solve problems in a rigorous, detail-oriented environment and understand the interrelationships between different complex systems? Yeah, probably so.


April 12th, 2013
9:51 am

@A Nonimus:
You a funny guy.


April 12th, 2013
10:31 am

I know that every student cannot be a math wiz, but some have potential to be better at math when they have a good learning foundation. Some teachers have ways of explaining things better than others. Could it be that the students who are weak in math had a weak math teacher at one point or was in a school with curriculm that did not measure up that put them so far behind that they could not catch up when they were faced with something more advanced?

Another Math Teacher

April 12th, 2013
10:45 am

“Ms. Jackson calculated the odds of different students’ learning math in 9th grade from a “qualified” teacher, defined as one who: had earned at least a bachelor’s degree, with seven or more different courses taken in mathematics; was certified by the state to teach high school math; and had been teaching at least five years.”

This is why education ‘research’ is not taken seriously. Someone with a PhD in Math with two years experience is unqualified while an education major with 7 ‘math for teachers’ classes and 10 years of handing out worksheet experience is qualified.

Who teaches what? The only way my school could keep higher seniority people, before the severe downturn in the economy, was to have the carrot of higher level classes. The A.P. Calculus teacher, when I got there, had over 10 years of experience. She did virtually nothing but hand out worksheets. Once you got to the top 3-4 people in the department, based on seniority, your schedule was pretty much A.P./Honors with no discipline problems.

The new teachers (not the ‘unqualified’,) got which classes? Algebra. Algebra (repeater class.) Geometry. Geometry (repeater class.)

Who would stay to be trapped teaching only those classes forever? At 2-4 years of experience people either left teaching or moved to a better school. (Better to teach 9th graders at Starrs Mill than in my old district…)

So what do the less desirable schools have? 3-4 teachers insulated from the discipline problem classes and a rotating crew of new people. (Not ‘unqualified.’)

I pointed out that they would have less turnover if they would give every teacher one of the less desirable classes and gave a break to the new teachers. They (the department head and administration,) told me that they knew what they were doing and their way was working. I just looked at the school website – they have 1 Math teacher left from when I started there. By the ‘research’ definition, only 1 Math teacher in that school is qualified.

bootney farnsworth

April 12th, 2013
11:18 am

almost certainly


April 12th, 2013
12:00 pm

math is introduced to young people by people who are elementary school teachers, many of whom do not have a love of math, to say the least. it’s not rocket science (ha ha!).
So if you’re being taught a subject by someone who doesn’t like it, well, needless to say, with all the bias against math out there, that would be another thing to fuel the fire of ‘i hate math’ people.


April 12th, 2013
4:56 pm

As an early elementary teacher, let me share some of the difficulties we face. First, as everyone news, young children move from the concrete to the abstract. So, every decent teacher starts with hands on activities. Combine that with a class of 25+ students, and you can see some of the difficulties. If I try and do a whole class lesson with manipulatives, there are always 6 or 7 who have no idea what we’re doing, and they are holding the whole class back. So, let’s try small groups! Great, except for the fact that I have only about 45 minutes for math, so if I do three groups, I get, at the most, 15 minutes with each group. Then, there’s the problem of figuring out what to do,with the other students. Wile they have independent activities to complete, they aren’t always doing them well. Is that because they don’t understand, or that they are just rushing? And when do I find the time to re-teach those skills while also pushing through the curriculum (benchmark tests are coming!). I do have a support teacher who is supposed to come, but most of the time I get an e-mail (usually right before math) that says she can’t come because she has “paperwork” to do. So, even when I’ve planned an activity so everyone could get some quality teaching in a small group, it ends up falling by the wayside because, once again, I’m trying to teach 25+ students, 6 or 7 of whom take twice as long to grasp a concept as the rest of the class.

So, it’s not that all elementary teachers are worthless at teaching math. Sometimes, it just that we have many of the same pressures that high school teachers face. (BTW, while I’m not a math lover, I don’t hate it. Took AP Calculus my senior year with all of the kids going to college for engineering and chemistry. I was the future elementary Ed major in the group. Stuck out quite a bit. :) )


April 12th, 2013
5:28 pm

irish eyes: in the end, with what you describe, is one of the problems in microcosm for much of public schools. :(

Another comment

April 12th, 2013
5:57 pm

Teacher’s please stop telling us you hate Math or are not good at Math. If you hate Math or are not good at Math, you simply put should not be an Elementary Teacher. Math is one of the basics of Elementary School. If you don’t love and have a passion for one of the 3 basics of Elementary School you should not have been an Elementary School Teacher. Then please shut up about it. Think about all the damage you do. Think of the damage you do, telling girls like my babysitter Kaylin that “Girls aren’t any good at Math”. I am a female Engineer. I wanted to come down and punch the Sutton Middle School Teacher who told Kaylin, who is now a nurse, I helped her with her Math. Then my daughter’s 5th grade Cobb County teacher, who stated, at Open House night that “I hate Math”. She sent her daughter’s to Lovett. I guarantee a Lovett teacher would be fired for saying that at Open house.

Please, I beg you teachers. If you don’t love Math and have a passion for it. Do not become an Elementary School teacher. If you aren’t good enough to love K-5 Math with a passion then you should not be a teacher.


April 12th, 2013
10:21 pm

@AC, when I said I didn’t love math, that certainly doesn’t mean I hate it. What it simply means is that I enjoy literacy more. If a person asks me what my favorite time of the day it, I’ll answer that it’s our literacy block. It doesn’t mean that math doesn’t get my full effort and time. Just because I don’t “love” something, doesn’t mean it doesn’t get my best effort. Writing is probably my hardest subject to teach which means that it actually gets MORE of my time and effort to find great ideas to teach writing. Honestly, teaching a subject you DON’T like means that you will work even harder to be a good teacher at it because it’s not something you are comfortable with.

Not PC and a HS teacher

April 13th, 2013
8:28 am

Seniority as such in a high school’s math department alone does not guarantee the longer serving teachers will teach gifted, AP, or “Honors” level courses. Certificate requirements and field endorsement add-ons determine who teaches these course in public schools in the state of Georgia.

I am in my 18th year as a HS math teacher with 17 years as department head. I have taught so called low (and repeater groups) and gifted (and other high ability groups) every year. Each teacher at this school has a range of grade levels in their teaching schedule. When I became department head, this was the only directive that my then-principal required that I follow when making out the schedule. This policy is not so easy to follow with new administration.

My observation is that teacher weakness has as much to do with self-confidence as education in math, at least in the beginning of a teacher’s career. Those new teachers who are coachable will dramatically improve in their effectiveness by the end of the 2nd year. Those who lack that confidence in their skills or simply cannot take constructive input from any source either leave teaching or become the open secret in the community as the teacher to avoid.


April 13th, 2013
9:23 am

I have a BS in math, Master’s in LD and Specialists in interrelated sped. I have been teaching spec ed for 19 years. I absolutely adore working with the “regular” kids who get it. It is so refreshing to explain/show once or twice and they run with it, however, that is not where my heart lies. Having an LD child of my own I know what those kids go through trying to get through the math and be able to graduate from hs. I’ve worked at three different schools over the past 19 years and what I’ve noticed is that the “sucky” teachers tend to get the higher performing students because they can’t handle the lower performing students. Those teachers get to work on their online degrees while the kids are completing their assignments. They also have free time before/after school because no one is coming to them for help. There is a special place in heaven for the teachers that get the low performers year after year and I don’t mean just the sped teachers. I referring to the collab teachers and the recovery teachers, etc….you know who you are. Please know that you are appreciated.

Pride and Joy

April 13th, 2013
9:06 pm

The REAL problem is WHY do we haev UNqualfied teachers?
RE “…have the worst odds of getting a qualified teacher in the subject (math).”
WHY in the world do we allow UNqualified teachers to be teachers?
EVERY kid needs a qualified teacher.
Who are the people that hire the UNqualified teachers and WHY do we allow these UNqualified teachers to remain in the school?

Pride and Joy

April 13th, 2013
9:09 pm

“Teacher’s please stop telling us you hate Math or are not good at Math. If you hate Math or are not good at Math, you simply put should not be an Elementary Teacher.”
Very Well Said!


April 14th, 2013
7:23 am

My background in English. I have a BA in English and an MAT in 2nd English. I started teaching math when I found myself in a self-contained classroom teaching all subjects. I discovered that I love teaching math! Although I would not be considered highly qualified under the outlined criteria (I did not take 7 college math courses), my students learn more from me in math than any other subject. When you really understand a math concept, you find it’s simple to teach lower level students because it’s visual and manipulable. However, most higher level teachers teach math at the abstract level because they are at such a high level of understanding that they have a hard time breaking down simpler concepts. For example, I teach division three different ways. I begin by having students sort small blocks (divide 52 blocks among 5 notecards, as equally as you can. How many blocks do you have left over). We move on to pictorial representation (draw 5 circles and make 52 dots equally among 5 circles. How many dots are in each circle? Five circles times 10 dots equals what?). Finally we move to abstract, (52/5), but I do it a little differently. I ask my students, can you think of a number times five that will get you close to 50? Teaching this way is not complicated and the students catch on…but it’s time consuming and many teachers at a higher math level feel their talents are being wasted moving at such a slow pace.

Ole Guy

April 15th, 2013
5:13 pm

I am growing just a bit weary reading these (supposedly) teacher comments about the added difficulties on students from impoverished backgrounds. I completely agree that living within a lower socioeconomic environment presents difficulties; impediments to optimal learning, however, these kids do not need to be reminded of their collective plight; to be offered a (justifiable) reason for anything less than success.

What the hell’s wrong with you people…presumably…experts…in education; in educational thought and philosophy. I taught some pretty dim-witted folks, back in the 60s, on some of the intricacies of rotary wing flight. While some were college grads, many were, like yours truly (at the time) lucky to have “gradiated ha scho”. Nonetheless, EVERYONE, regardless of socioeconomic origins, color, religion, prefered brand of poison, or any other superflous criteria, had to meet a common STANDARD of performance.

If you…experts…stop reminding these kids of their supposed impediments and simply start establishing common standards, maybe, just maybe…we’ll start seeing a few kids with the guts to step up to the plate. Those who make it…great! Those who don’t/can’t/won’t…no matter…we’ll always need unskilled low-wage labor.


April 15th, 2013
9:06 pm

@ Ole Guy. But wasn’t there a rather severe penalty for failing rotary wing flight, like crashing the plane? I would imagine that your students were pretty motivated to learn what you had to teach. Sorry to say, I don’t think that’s the situation in public education today, especially for “students from impoverished backgrounds.”

southside teacher

April 15th, 2013
10:57 pm

A. there’s a difference between knowing the math and explaining it effectively.
B. the ‘better’ teachers don’t usually want to work with all of the stuggling students.
C. struggling students tend to also be trickier in terms of behavior, and so get handed off to the low man on the totem pole.
D. yes, absolutely, our weaker math students deserve better teachers than they often get. I know my students deserved a more talented math teacher this year. But that was the decision of my principal to put me in this assignment instead of hiring a different teacher. Before you tell me about the tight economy, there were 3 new teachers this year. I am certified to do two of those jobs, but new folks were hired from outside.