Survey of New Teachers Yields the Desired Results

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The Public Education Network has released a report entitled "The Voice of the New Teacher," presenting their findings from surveying and interviewing 211 new teachers in five locations. The report reiterates the standard, near-tiresome laundry list of recommendations (e.g. "Organize the teaching staff in such a way that new teachers can learn from more experienced teachers"), but also a few helpful ones (e.g. splitting mentoring responsibilities among several veteran teachers). Buried in the report are more interesting facts such as the ongoing dysfunction of mentoring programs: in West Virginia mentors are required by the state to visit new teachers once a week yet the new teachers report that in actuality the visits happen once or twice a semester.

The authors stretch a bit to make some questionable assumptions. For example, on the basis of only 40 teachers and with no more evidence than some opinion, the report concludes that "non-white teachers seemed to be able to develop 'positive' and 'different' connections with students of color." They further claim inaccurately that "researchers argue that students are better served by teachers who share their cultural and social background." Neither of these statements do justice to what is a complex and multi-faceted issue; moreover, the latter is simply not a fair portrayal of a decidedly mixed body a research on the topic. Such assertions raise flags that, in places, this report precariously blends findings with a priori assumptions and leaves the reader wondering whose "voice" they are really hearing.