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As my regular readers know, I am writing from China these days, and have been doing so four years so far. Sometimes the blog becomes inaccessible to me, making it impossible to post regularly. In fact, starting in late September 2014, China began interfering with many Google-owned entities of which Blogspot is one. If the blog seems to go dark for a while, please know I will be back as soon as I can get in again. I am sometimes blocked for many weeks at a time. I hope to have a new post up soon if I can gain access. Thank you for your understanding and loyalty.

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Friday, February 27, 2009

Good News for Education? Or Not?

MetLife's first survey was done in 1984. How have things changed in 25 years? If the survey is to be believed, things have significantly improved. At least the 1000 teachers they asked say so.

The percentage of teachers reporting high satisfaction with their careers has increased from 40 in 1984 to 62 in 2008, while more teachers today (66 percent) feel respected by society than did their counterparts in 1984 (47 percent).

Perhaps even more provocatively, the percentage of teachers agreeing that they can earn a “decent salary” has nearly doubled since 1984, to 66 percent, and far more teachers today (75 percent, compared to 45 percent in 1984) say they would recommend a career in teaching to a young person.

In addition, two thirds of today’s teachers affirm that they were well-prepared for the profession, compared to 46 percent in 1984. Teachers also feel better equipped today than in past years when it comes to addressing student-learning challenges such as poverty, limited English language proficiency, and lack of parental support, according to the report.
Meanwhile, the number of teachers who rate the academic standards in their schools as excellent has doubled from 26 percent in 1984 to 53 percent today, and 89 percent of teachers say their school’s curriculum is excellent or good, compared to 81 percent in 1984.
Even regarding the availability of materials and supplies in schools—a notoriously sore subject among teachers—the numbers have improved: The percentage of teachers rating their access to such resources as excellent, while still not reaching a majority, has doubled to 44 percent since 1984.

What about all that bad news we hear all the time? Well, I guess that is just the mainstream media missing the message yet again... except it is teachers themselves who report so much of the bad news. It's a conundrum...
...however, MetLife’s data does also underscore persistent disparities among schools and mounting challenges facing the country’s public education system.

If schools are a mirror of society, MetLife's data polishes the reflection. Economically, the middle class is being gutted, resulting in a growing chasm between the rich and the poor in America. The same chasm is widening in American education.

For example, teachers in urban and secondary schools, especially those with high concentrations of low-income students, are significantly less likely to rate the academic standards in their schools as excellent, according to the report. Urban teachers are also considerably less positive than their suburban counterparts on the availability of teaching materials in their schools and the degree of parental support their students receive.
Pointing to significant demographic shifts,the percentage of teachers responding that limited English proficiency hinders learning for a quarter or more of their students has doubled since 1992, from 11 to 22 percent, with the level reaching 30 percent for urban teachers. In addition, nearly half of today’s teachers (up from 41 percent in 1992) say that poverty limits the day-to-day capabilities of at least a quarter of their students.
The number of teachers saying that students’ learning abilities in their classes are so varied that they cannot teach effectively has also jumped, according to the report, from 39 percent in 1988 to 43 percent today.

There is an achievement gap between students, and there is a corresponding achievement gap between schools. More surprising, it looks like our students lose abilities as they get older.
The teachers' responses also reveal some potentially major cracks in the overall quality of U.S. students’ education. While the majority of teachers say their students’ skills in reading, writing, and math are excellent or good, for example, significantly smaller percentages of secondary school teachers than elementary-level teacher feel that way.

Of course, since Americans believe all roads lead to America, preparation for success in a global environment has low priority.
In an increasingly global economy, nearly two-thirds of teachers rate their students as only fair or poor in their knowledge of other nations and cultures, and more than half rate their students as fair or poor in foreign languages.

In fact, some schools have returned to teaching Latin, but refuse to teach languages such as Russian, Japanese, Chinese, Arabic and more. Our schools do not have language teachers, and they do not want language teachers anyway.

Furthermore, this survey echoes many other other surveys in reporting the pervasiveness of the one problem, which more than any other, drives teachers out of teaching.
The report also highlights apparent communication problems between teachers and principals and discrepancies in the groups’ views on a number of issues, including school-disciplinary policies, parent-involvement levels, and the use of teachers’ time.

An example of divergent views appeared in the comments to a previous post. A school administrator discourages teachers sending unruly students out of class because the class will see the teacher as weak. Teachers consider the ability to send out unruly students as a way to maintain effective instruction for the students who remain.

President Obama said, ”But I also know that every American who is sitting here tonight loves this country and wants it to succeed.  That must be the starting point for every debate we have in the coming months, and where we return after those debates are done.

Teachers and administrators have to stop being adversaries.

Here are the Department of Education provisions from American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Honestly, there is not much in the way of education reform in this new legislation. I am not seeing “new incentives for teacher performance; pathways for advancement, and rewards for success.” I did not expect much reform. America still has not had the wide open debate it needs on education. For example, certain groups dislike charter schools on principle; other groups dislike the teachers unions on principle. All groups need to set aside ideological rigidity, and systematically examine education from every angle. Americans need to decide whether they want a world-class education system, and what they want the education system to look like.

Educators like John Taylor Gatto argue that the system is not broken. He believes the system is doing what it was designed to do—produce compliant workers. Somewhere I read you cannot expect a Ford to be a Cadillac, and you cannot fix (read: reform) a Ford to be a Cadillac. Until Americans are ready to talk about a total overhaul, a complete redesign, it be impossible to reform.

Education for the Disadvantaged
For an additional amount for ‘Education for the Disadvantaged’ to carry out title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (‘ESEA’), $13,000,000,000: Provided, That $5,000,000,000 shall be available for targeted grants under section 1125 of the ESEA: Provided further, That $5,000,000,000 shall be available for education finance incentive grants under section 1125A of the ESEA: Provided further, That $3,000,000,000 shall be for school improvement grants under section 1003(g) of the ESEA: Provided further, That each local educational agency receiving funds available under this paragraph shall be required to file with the State educational agency, no later than December 1, 2009, a school-by-school listing of per-pupil educational expenditures from State and local sources during the 2008-2009 academic year: Provided further, That each State educational agency shall report that information to the Secretary of Education by March 31, 2010.

Impact Aid
For an additional amount for ‘Impact Aid’ to carry out section 8007 of title VIII of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, $100,000,000, which shall be expended pursuant to the requirements of section 805.

School Improvement Programs
For an additional amount for ‘School Improvement Programs’ to carry out subpart 1, part D of title II of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (‘ESEA’), and subtitle B of title VII of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, $720,000,000: Provided, That $650,000,000 shall be available for subpart 1, part D of title II of the ESEA: Provided further, That the Secretary shall allot $70,000,000 for grants under McKinney-Vento to each State in proportion to the number of homeless students identified by the State during the 2007-2008 school year relative to the number of such children identified nationally during that school year: Provided further, That State educational agencies shall subgrant the McKinney-Vento funds to local educational agencies on a competitive basis or according to a formula based on the number of homeless students identified by the local educational agencies in the State: Provided further, That the Secretary shall distribute the McKinney-Vento funds to the States not later than 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act: Provided further, That each State shall subgrant the McKinney-Vento funds to local educational agencies not later than 120 days after receiving its grant from the Secretary.

Innovation and Improvement
For an additional amount for ‘Innovation and Improvement’ to carry out subpart 1, part D of title V of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (‘ESEA’), $200,000,000: Provided, That these funds shall be expended as directed in the fifth, sixth, and seventh provisos under the heading ‘Innovation and Improvement’ in the Department of Education Appropriations Act, 2008: Provided further, That a portion of these funds shall also be used for a rigorous national evaluation by the Institute of Education Sciences, utilizing randomized controlled methodology to the extent feasible, that assesses the impact of performance-based teacher and principal compensation systems supported by the funds provided in this Act on teacher and principal recruitment and retention in high-need schools and subjects: Provided further, That the Secretary may reserve up to 1 percent of the amount made available under this heading for management and oversight of the activities supported with those funds.

Special Education
For an additional amount for ‘Special Education’ for carrying out parts B and C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (‘IDEA’), $12,200,000,000, of which $11,300,000,000 shall be available for section 611 of the IDEA: Provided, That if every State, as defined by section 602(31) of the IDEA, reaches its maximum allocation under section 611(d)(3)(B)(iii) of the IDEA, and there are remaining funds, such funds shall be proportionally allocated to each State subject to the maximum amounts contained in section 611(a)(2) of the IDEA: Provided further, That by July 1, 2009, the Secretary of Education shall reserve the amount needed for grants under section 643(e) of the IDEA, with any remaining funds to be allocated in accordance with section 643(c) of the IDEA: Provided further, That the total amount for each of sections 611(b)(2) and 643(b)(1) of the IDEA, under this and all other Acts, for fiscal year 2009, whenever enacted, shall be equal to the amounts respectively available for these activities under these sections during fiscal year 2008 increased by the amount of inflation as specified in section 619(d)(2)(B) of the IDEA: Provided further, That $400,000,000 shall be available for section 619 of the IDEA and $500,000,000 shall be available for part C of the IDEA.

Rehabilitation Services and Disability Research
For an additional amount for ‘Rehabilitation Services and Disability Research’ for providing grants to States to carry out the Vocational Rehabilitation Services program under part B of title I and parts B and C of chapter 1 and chapter 2 of title VII of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, $680,000,000: Provided, That $540,000,000 shall be available for part B of title I of the Rehabilitation Act: Provided further, That funds provided herein shall not be considered in determining the amount required to be appropriated under section 100(b)(1) of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 in any fiscal year: Provided further, That, notwithstanding section 7(14)(A), the Federal share of the costs of vocational rehabilitation services provided with the funds provided herein shall be 100 percent: Provided further, That $140,000,000 shall be available for parts B and C of chapter 1 and chapter 2 of title VII of the Rehabilitation Act: Provided further, That $18,200,000 shall be for State Grants, $87,500,000 shall be for independent living centers, and $34,300,000 shall be for services for older blind individuals.

Student Financial Assistance
For an additional amount for ‘Student Financial Assistance’ to carry out subpart 1 of part A and part C of title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (‘HEA’), $15,840,000,000, which shall remain available through September 30, 2011: Provided, That $15,640,000,000 shall be available for subpart 1 of part A of title IV of the HEA: Provided further, That $200,000,000 shall be available for part C of title IV of the HEA.

The maximum Pell Grant for which a student shall be eligible during award year 2009-2010 shall be $4,860.

Student Aid Administration
For an additional amount for ‘Student Aid Administration’ to carry out part D of title I, and subparts 1, 3, and 4 of part A, and parts B, C, D, and E of title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, $60,000,000.

Higher Education
For an additional amount for ‘Higher Education’ to carry out part A of title II of the Higher Education Act of 1965, $100,000,000.
Institute of Education Sciences
For an additional amount for ‘Institute of Education Sciences’ to carry out section 208 of the Educational Technical Assistance Act, $250,000,000, which may be used for Statewide data systems that include postsecondary and workforce information, of which up to $5,000,000 may be used for State data coordinators and for awards to public or private organizations or agencies to improve data coordination.

Departmental Management
office of the inspector general
For an additional amount for the ‘Office of the Inspector General’, $14,000,000, which shall remain available through September 30, 2012, for salaries and expenses necessary for oversight and audit of programs, grants, and projects funded in this Act.

Corporation for National and Community Service
(including transfer of funds)
For an additional amount for ‘Operating Expenses’ to carry out the Domestic Volunteer Service Act of 1973 (‘1973 Act’) and the National and Community Service Act of 1990 (‘1990 Act’), $160,000,000: Provided, That $89,000,000 of the funds made available in this paragraph shall be used to make additional awards to existing AmeriCorps grantees and may be used to provide adjustments to awards under subtitle C of title I of the 1990 Act made prior to September 30, 2010 for which the Chief Executive Officer of the Corporation for National and Community Service (‘CEO’) determines that a waiver of the Federal share limitation is warranted under section 2521.70 of title 45 of the Code of Federal Regulations: Provided further, That of the amount made available in this paragraph, not less than $6,000,000 shall be transferred to ‘Salaries and Expenses’ for necessary expenses relating to information technology upgrades, of which up to $800,000 may be used to administer the funds provided in this paragraph: Provided further, That of the amount provided in this paragraph, not less than $65,000,000 shall be for programs under title I, part A of the 1973 Act: Provided further, That funds provided in the previous proviso shall not be made available in connection with cost-share agreements authorized under section 192A(g)(10) of the 1990 Act: Provided further, That of the funds available under this heading, up to 20 percent of funds allocated to grants authorized under section 124(b) of title I, subtitle C of the 1990 Act may be used to administer, reimburse, or support any national service program under section 129(d)(2) of the 1990 Act: Provided further, That, except as provided herein and in addition to requirements identified herein, funds provided in this paragraph shall be subject to the terms and conditions under which funds were appropriated in fiscal year 2008: Provided further, That the CEO shall provide the Committees on Appropriations of the House of Representatives and the Senate a fiscal year 2009 operating plan for the funds appropriated in this paragraph prior to making any Federal obligations of such funds in fiscal year 2009, but not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act, and a fiscal year 2010 operating plan for such funds prior to making any Federal obligations of such funds in fiscal year 2010, but not later than November 1, 2009, that detail the allocation of resources and the increased number of members supported by the AmeriCorps programs: Provided further, That the CEO shall provide to the Committees on Appropriations of the House of Representatives and the Senate a report on the actual obligations, expenditures, and unobligated balances for each activity funded under this heading not later than November 1, 2009, and every 6 months thereafter as long as funding provided under this heading is available for obligation or expenditure.

Office of Inspector General
For an additional amount for the ‘Office of Inspector General’, $1,000,000, which shall remain available until September 30, 2012.

National Service Trust
(including transfer of funds)
For an additional amount for ‘National Service Trust’ established under subtitle D of title I of the National and Community Service Act of 1990 (‘1990 Act’), $40,000,000, which shall remain available until expended: Provided, That the Corporation for National and Community Service may transfer additional funds from the amount provided within ‘Operating Expenses’ for grants made under subtitle C of title I of the 1990 Act to this appropriation upon determination that such transfer is necessary to support the activities of national service participants and after notice is transmitted to the Committees on Appropriations of the House of Representatives and the Senate: Provided further, That the amount appropriated for or transferred to the National Service Trust may be invested under section 145(b) of the 1990 Act without regard to the requirement to apportion funds under.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Being a Great Teacher is Risky

Many observers wonder if the reformers know what they are doing.

Politicians and politicians' appointees regularly propose improving teacher quality by linking teacher compensation to student performance on standardized tests. Teachers may greatly influence, but they do not control, student performance. The test may actually measure lots of other variables, most of which go unidentified.

I remember a seventh grade boy taking both math and science from me. In the spring, when he took the Stanford 9, he dropped from 4.7 grade equivalency to 4.3 grade equivalency. The next year he was assigned to both of my classes again as an eighth grader. His Stanford 9 results that year put him at 7.2 grade equivalency for a one year improvement of 2.5 grade levels. Wow! Was I lousy teacher the first year and a great one the second? What about all his other teachers? Maybe it was simply the fact that his alcoholic uncle finally moved out of the house.

But for the sake of argument, let's suppose I get to take the credit for my student's splendid improvement. After all, I am the one who stayed after school with him every day. If I am a great teacher, what should the school do with me? If I were the parent of a struggling student, I would want my kid to get me. If I have more than a few struggling students, and my status as great, as well as my compensation, hangs on ever-increasing test scores, it would not be in my interest to teach struggling students. In fact, there are schools which routinely assign the most difficult students to the most novice teachers. Older teachers believe they have paid their dues and deserve less challenging students even as their competence presumably improves with experience.

Furthermore, research has consistently shown that students do not sustain higher levels of achievement motivated solely by extrinsic rewards. They need intrinsic rewards. Why would teachers, being human after all, be any different? The best teachers do not teach for the money. They teach for the joy of watching understanding spread over the faces of students, the light in the eyes, and the satisfaction of training the next generation well. Money is how society demonstrates it esteems and appreciates the work that great teachers do. Society likes its movie stars and sports heroes way more than its teachers.

So what should be on the table? Diane Ravitch says the Nicholas Kristof says (how's that for an attribution?) we should scrap certification, education degrees and SAT scores.

Since teachers uniformly diss their education degrees as worthless, since certification certifies state indoctrination more than quality, and since statistics from the colleges of education show that their students have lower SAT scores than the general college population, maybe we should rethink teacher quality. Meaningful reform means that nothing is off the table. It is a huge job, but as George Lakoff reminded us, values need to trump programs, and more importantly, values need to trump ideology. We need to talk and listen to everyone.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Alternative Certification No Better, No Worse

Oh no, Ed Week, Say it ain't so.

Students who have teachers certified through alternative-training programs do no worse in mathematics or reading achievement than students whose teachers have been certified by traditional teacher education programs, according to a study released today by Mathematica Policy Research Inc.

The study, which was commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences, also found no correlation between teacher effectiveness and the amount of coursework that teachers received as part of their alternative or traditional teacher-training programs.

But Jane Leibbrand does not agree.

Jane Leibbrand, the vice president of communications for the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, who had not yet had a chance to read the Mathematica study, said, however, that previous studies have shown otherwise. “A number of studies have shown that fully prepared and licensed teachers do make a difference with student achievement,” she said.
“Some alternate routes are of high quality, but many are mediocre to low-quality,” Ms. Leibbrand added. “Alternate-route programs often do not have to meet the same standards as traditional programs must meet.”

The study avoided the most selective programs, such as Teach For America, in order to compare more closely to typical traditional routes. Colleges of education are not very selective, so the study chose alternative programs that were also not very selective. Given the number of traditionally certified teachers who dismiss their education training as worthless, the study's conclusion is not surprising.

The number of course hours taken by teachers didn’t affect student achievement, according to the study.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Louisiana Fed Up with Unruly Students?

Gov. Bobby Jindal will push legislation to give teachers more authority to remove troublesome students from their classrooms...

Did you know that it is against the law in some places for teachers to send misbehaving students to the principal's office?

Currently, teachers can remove students only when the behavior is deemed to prevent teaching or poses an immediate safety threat. Jindal wants to add new circumstances for removal,
including unruly behavior, threats to teacher or students, inappropriate physical or verbal conduct, property destruction or harassment.

Is anyone else surprised that the idea of teachers removing unruly students from their class should be a legislative issue? It seems to me the current law is satisfactory. When students are disruptive, they are by definition preventing teaching, usually by exhibiting unruly behavior and verbal conduct. What specific disruptive behavior could possibly be acceptable under current law?

Everyone knows that teachers have little respect and esteem in American society. Many teachers are actively discouraged from sending students to the principal's office. The administration construes an office referral as prima facie evidence that the teacher is unable to maintain control in the classroom. We need to change our attitude. Education in the context of a classroom is a group activity. Education is a right and a privilege for all. If a student cannot appreciate class, even a boring class, even a class with a less than stellar teacher, simple respect and courtesy would demand that the student be somewhere else, like the principal's office. Students should not be permitted to disrupt class and interfering with their classmates' right and privilege to an education.

One tangible way school administrators could support the teachers and promote higher levels of respect is stand fully behind the teacher's decision to remove disruptive students rather than hold it against them. Teachers soon learn that their best strategy is to stay out of the administrator's radar. Teachers and students should not be punished with having to put up with misbehaving classmates.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Bill Gates: “How do You Make a Teacher Great?”

Bill Gates says we are not making teachers great. The top 20% of students who get a good education are the ones with the opportunities for innovation and success. Bill Gates says while the quality of education is declining for those top 20%, the problem is even worse for the lower 80%. He was “stunned at how bad it is.” 30% never finish high school, an alarming statistic masked by the usual way drop-outs are counted.

”How do you make education better?”

Not with smaller schools, scholarships, library programs and all that. The key, Bill Gates learned from the research, is having great teachers.

”How much variation is there within or between school” attributable to great teachers?

The variation between the top quartile teachers and the bottom quartile teachers is huge, says Bill Gates. A top quartile teacher can raise achievement levels 10% in a single year.

”What does that mean?”

If all American classroom were staffed by top quartile teachers, within two years the Asian advantage would be gone. Within four years, the US would “blow away” the whole world.

”What are the characteristics of a great teacher?”

Surprisingly, it might not be years of experience. Great teachers have figured it out within about three years. They generally stay great for the rest of their careers.

”What factor predicts teacher quality?”

Possession of a Masters degree came in dead last. Teach for America ranked just a little ahead of a Masters degree. The top predictor is past performance. Sadly, past performance has not been sufficiently studied. Clearly the observation and checklist approach used in most schools when a rare evaluation is conducted reveals almost nothing.

”Do good teachers stay and bad teachers leave?”

Unfortunately, better teachers are more likely to leave, or be driven out, than stay. Part of the problem is the good teachers are not told they are good. In fact, often just the opposite. Good teachers, unbelievably, are resented by students and other teachers, undermined by school administrators and parents, and disrespected by society.

What can we do?”

Bill Gates recommends more research, and video recorders in every classroom. He does not favor a surveillance role for the cameras. (However, once cameras are in place, the ability to watch is likely to be irresistible). He would use the cameras as device for the observation and collection of best practices.

Bill Gates' conclusion?

”Education is the most important thing to get right.”

America is not appreciating, monetarily or otherwise, its best teachers. In fact, the system and society regularly drive out members of the top quartile. Bill Gates is obliquely pointing to the same problem many others have observed: the presence of deeply entrenched mechanisms that operate to preserve the status quo.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Teachers Teach Too Much?

Do teachers teach too much? That is the question under consideration at Teacher Magazine. It would be nice if some of the respondents actually read the cited report. The discussion starter asks, “What would you do with 15-20 hours of non-teaching time per week?”

I can tell you why Japanese teachers have 15-20 non-teaching hours per week. So can Susan Sclafani, director of state services for the National Center on Education and the Economy, a Washington-based nonprofit group that promotes a tighter link between education and workforce development.

Ms. Sclafani ... noted that several of the top-performing countries have stricter front-end selection criteria for teachers, larger class sizes, and longer hours to facilitate on-site professional learning. The United States, in contrast, typically has lax entry standards and smaller classes, and the majority of teachers receive no more than 16 hours of training in their subject per year.

How does Japan stack up? Stricter front-end selection criteria for teachers—check.
Larger class sizes—check. Japanese classes average 45 students.
Longer hours—check. Japan has more calendar days in their academic year, as many as 240 compared to 180 in America.

Japanese teachers enjoy something else American teachers wish they had.

If we want professional teachers, we need to treat them like professionals...The report also found that other countries typically gave teachers more autonomy at their school sites.

America may be afraid to think about overhauling education. It is scary to think about teacher quality.

The United States, in contrast, typically has lax entry standards.

Americans do not believe their teachers deserve professional status. Neither do the employers of teachers. That is why publishers have a ready market for “teacher-proof” curriculum.

“Books Moore” (see comments in Teacher Magazine link) lays it out in a lengthy comment:

Lodging complaints about teacher contact hours during the day is a little like standing in a dilapidated building and complaining that there is a slightly crooked hanging on the wall.  The real issues are much more severe, and legions of reforms are needed to change this. 
One is...why should the best and brightest among us wish to even bother to become teachers?  What do they have to look forward to?  Sure, it can be immensely gratifying to teach, but all that goes with it--and what does not go with it--often very much more than offsets that.  Entering teaching becomes an irrational decision for many who otherwise would love to enter it. 
Two is the byzantine requirements mandated to achieve certification.  Does anyone else find it odd that an education major with a 2.5 GPA from Podunk U can be straightway certified, while someone else with a 3.9 from a rigorous program, plus a Masters degree, would first need to do an additional year of mostly irrelevant courses?  Added to that is the fact that teacher education programs are typically geared to producing compliant technicians rather than critical scholar-educators. 
Third are teacher salaries.  A single parent entering teaching would still qualify for a variety of welfare.  And the salary of the person who delivers your mail can keep up with the salary of the person who teaches your children.  Need I say more? 
Fourth is that education has transformed largely into an authoritarian regime.  The cost is the freedom required to not only be an outstanding pedagogist but the freedom required for students to become highly engaged literates... 

In short, there is a serious lack of relational trust. More and more, relational trust is becoming recognized as the overarching predictor of academic achievement.

So what do Japanese teachers do with their 15-20 non-teaching hours per week? Women work hard, plan lessons, grade papers, collaborate with colleagues, and go home at 5:00 to cook dinner and take care of children. Men can be found in the mens' teachers lounge playing Go and Shogi between classes. They make up for it by staying after school all hours planning lessons, grading papers, and collaborating with colleagues.

(I would like to correct a misperception in “Melissah's” comment: “In Asian countries--Japan specifically--teachers spend one half of their day in class, teaching students.  They spend the other half of their day grading, planning, and collaborating with colleagues.  Given half a day to grade would allow me to provide specific, more immediate feedback for students, which would lead to classroom instruction that better matched the needs of the learner.  The point of restructuring the teaching day would not be to leave students alone; rather, it would be to stop the "babysitting" that makes up much of our day. “

Japan does not do as much babysitting as we do. The teachers' desks are all located in a large teachers' room. The student's homeroom is really home. They take nearly all their classes in their homeroom. Teachers go back and forth to classes. Consequently, there is no adult supervison among the students during the ten minute break between classes. Furthermore, Japanese do not bring in a substitute teacher unless the absent teacher will be gone at least three days. For every teaching hour of an absent teacher, there is a class of 45 students completely unsupervised. Japan has a severe problem with violent bullies. Most of the the incidents take place during unsupervised time. Maybe Japanese schools could do with a little more babysitting).