Hi Will …
I am curious if you know much about the services provided to educators by the DOE. I am talking about licensure, MTEL, etc.
The level of service for licensure particularly has steadily dropped over the years due to budget cuts. At the moment a teacher with questions about their license can only talk to DOE between 2 and 5 on weekdays, and the hold times seem to be typically 30 minutes plus or minus. Their online system is very good, the problem comes when you need to ask a question of a real person.
I tried to talk to them today about a licensing question re moving up to the next level of licensure, and found it mostly useless — I was asking about their own rules and the rep on the phone could not answer my questions or tell me if I needed to take additional steps to qualify for the license, because they couldn’t explain what the rules mean, even though my question was fairly basic. I was told to fill out the application and send it in and “we’ll see” (this phrase was repeated more than once). But because application processing is also way behind, that takes months — they are currently processing applications received in November! And I think this would most likely be the slow season for them.
I am curious if you have heard about this from other educators or are aware of issues there and how the budget has impacted services. I am not saying it is mismanaged, it may be managed very well given the level of funding, or not — I don’t know. But the level of services certainly doesn’t give one the sense that the state is trying to assist or encourage educators.
My wife is a teacher so I’ve heard a lot about it. My sense is that the best information comes from other teachers and from administrators, although one ultimately has to work with DOE.
It is true that other teachers and administrators have the best information about this. Also the MTA folks know a lot. But that is a sad state of affairs, really. Shouldn’t we be able to get DOE to tell us what their own rules mean?
In terms of legislation it is a budget question. Would it be easy to find out these figures?
– DOE total budget (not for local districts, just statewide work, HQ operations, etc.)
– DOE teacher license administration budget (licensure operations, but not MTEL)
– Changes to each since say 5 years ago
I am guessing that services to educators have a low public profile and are therefore easier to cut than, say, MCAS, so I’m guessing those have sustained more cuts (or maybe just less growth) than the overall budget.
Sure. You are right that it is a budget issue.
We can dig this out. Give us a few days.
Tom, your guesses about this situation are on target.
My office has been in touch with Anne Goodfellow, special assistant to the Commissioner at DESE. The line item that covers Teacher Preparation and Certification is 7061-9604. Figures for the past few years are below. When the budget for this line item was greatly reduced between FY09 and FY10, they had to reduce staff by 9 positions. This has resulted in the reduced call-in hours, the delayed response to applications and other issues. Ms. Goodfellow says they are aware of these things and doing their best to devise ways to have more on-line capabilities so that teachers can get answers or take actions that way, freeing up staff for personal contact. They recognize that most state departments are in the same boat with reduced staff but are hoping to keep the level funding that the Governor has proposed for FY12. They are also working with the administration on a new form of their retained revenue account, asking that some part of the renewal fees remain with the agency to provide better service.
FY09 = $2,021,758
FY10 = $1,599,351
FY11 = $1,367,000
FY12 = $1,367,409 (Governor’s budget proposal)
Thanks so much for the details.
So that is a 33% cut in two years … no wonder service is so poor. I don’t suppose there is anything we can do about this, is there?
Are most state departments seeing 33% cuts to frontline services???
Most state departments have seen cuts in the 7-8% ballpark over the last few years — the one big exception being medicaid. State departments have taken much deeper cuts than local governments.
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