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Schools Starts Short of Teachers, Higher Ed Leadership Turnover, Must Read on Student Engagement

Schools Start the Year Short of Teachers

In Connecticut and across the country, teacher shortages continue to dominate the headlines at the start of the 2023-24 school year. Bridgeport’s new superintendent, Carmela Levy-David, told the CT Post that the district began the school year 67 teachers short. The Monday article covers the extensive efforts by the district’s administrators to fill these positions over the past year—including hiring about 200 new teachers and dozens of long-term substitutes, dealing with resignations, and losing teachers to districts with higher pay. Connecticut Public Radio likewise reported on the efforts of New Haven Public Schools, where the district is short 91 teachers, having hired 24 new teachers and lost 20 just within the same week.

But WTNH's coverage this week observes that the shortages don’t only impact urban districts; they’re also found in the suburbs. The CT State Department of Education says that special ed, math, science, and bilingual education are the most significant areas of shortage.

Higher Ed Leadership Turnover

On Thursday, Yale President Peter Salovey announced that he will step down at the end of this academic year, after serving in his role for eleven years. Under his tenure, the university roughly doubled its endowment and its voluntary, annual contributions to the city of New Haven. (The contributions partially cover for the fact that, as a non-profit, Yale is exempt from taxes related to properties it owns all over the city). The New York Times also observes that, under Salovey’s leadership, Yale has increased its diversity—growing in the percentages of low-income and first-gen students—and weathered a storm of criticism on student mental health policies. When he steps down, Salovey will return to teaching in the university's psychology department.

The transition is part of a generational shift in presidencies at elite universities—including Columbia, Harvard, Dartmouth, the University of Pennsylvania, M.I.T., and others. These schools face a new era of admissions challenges in the wake of the Supreme Court's ban on race-conscious admissions, and with growing pressure from students and advocates to eliminate legacy preferences.

The turnover trend is also reaching the country’s historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). The Washington Post notes this week that nearly a quarter of the roughly 100 HBCUs have had presidential openings since 2022. “College presidents are under pressure to lead their institutions through the uncertainty of a post-affirmative action era, the lingering impact of the pandemic and the growing politicization of higher education while competing for an ever-shrinking pool of students,” the article explains. Other demands of the job, like fundraising and financial management, might be even more difficult at HBCUs, due to historic underfunding.

Must Read: "Why the Racial Achievement Gap Persists in D.C. and How to Fix It"

Yesterday, the Washington Post captured the perspective of Washington D.C.'s former schools chancellor, Kaya Henderson, and her strategy of using student engagement to address racial achievement gaps. Rather than seeking to "catch Black kids up with White kids," she aimed to help all kids meet their fullest potential. And she did this by giving students the opportunity to solve concrete, real-life problems for their communities, instead of only learning about concepts abstractly. It's a fascinating article about project-based learning and the philosophy of educational equity. Must read.

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