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Teaching/education In The Us


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#1 kamikaze

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Posted 26 February 2006 - 01:05 PM

Hi Daniel,I read your blog all the time, and I love it. I don't often post here, but since you invited it...I am a lecturer at a state college in California. I agree with sentiments that education in the US is inferior and inadequate, but you should know that the 20/20 piece is part of a long line of inaccurate, inflammatory rhetoric.RE: teachers unions. Everybody loves to blame teachers unions for all the woes of the educational system. What is always left out of the picture is why the unions exist. Teachers are seriously underpaid and not respected at all. I appreciate the notion of competition, but the answer is not to make the same teachers who are underpaid, overworked, have too many students, and so on have to take on MORE.What if the system looked like this: teachers are paid good salaries for their very important job, are treated with respect, and because they are adquately compensated and people respect them, so many people want to become teachers that it becomes competitive to GET a teaching job...I identify with your friend. I am an excellent teacher, but I have no job security and get paid less than minimum wage (with no benefits) to educate the future of our society. Basically it is volunteer work, and I am struggling, because I love it, but I can't afford to pay my rent. Seriously, without the occasional supplement to my income from poker winnings, I'd be out on the street.I am a member of teachers unions because, without them, we'd be even more exploited than we already ridiculously are. The fact is that there is not enough money being put into the educational system, and that in turn drives out people who would otherwise be happily content, fabulous teachers. Witness the dramatic decline in the quality of California public schools since the 70s when the guaranteed tax base was taken away by voters in the form of Proposition 13. California schools went from being at the top in the nation to the bottom. Private schools, charter schools, and school choice are just distractions from the lack of commitment to insuring everyone gets a quality education.

#2 DanielNegreanu

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Posted 26 February 2006 - 02:42 PM

Thanks for your post. I'm curious, just thinking about how things work, don't you feel that the GOOD teachers who are VASTLY underpaid suffer because of the teacher's who don't do a good job? I agree with you 100% that teacher's don't make enough money at all. What I'd like to see, is a system where if teachers like yourself, who DO work hard, have an opportunity to move up the pay scale. Maybe, this is just a thought, start teachers out at a lower yearly income and then give them significant raises as they prove themselves? For those that don't qualify for the raises, great. They'll be forced out of the profession since they won't be making enough money, and thus the weeding process begins. I just think it is a HORRIBLE mistake in this country for teachers to have no financial interest in doing a good job. It's just not the "American Way."
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#3 malfunktron

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Posted 26 February 2006 - 03:17 PM

View PostDanielNegreanu, on Sunday, February 26th, 2006, 2:42 PM, said:

Thanks for your post. I'm curious, just thinking about how things work, don't you feel that the GOOD teachers who are VASTLY underpaid suffer because of the teacher's who don't do a good job? I agree with you 100% that teacher's don't make enough money at all. What I'd like to see, is a system where if teachers like yourself, who DO work hard, have an opportunity to move up the pay scale. Maybe, this is just a thought, start teachers out at a lower yearly income and then give them significant raises as they prove themselves? For those that don't qualify for the raises, great. They'll be forced out of the profession since they won't be making enough money, and thus the weeding process begins. I just think it is a HORRIBLE mistake in this country for teachers to have no financial interest in doing a good job. It's just not the "American Way."
Hi, Another fellow teacher from the D.C. area here who wanted to chime in. I also consider myself a very hardworker who is dedicated to the students I teach and definitely feel underpaid for the amount of hours I put in. I definitely like the idea of some type of "merit system" in teaching, but how would you measure good teaching? There's just so many variables. You could measure it by "objective" test scores but I'm still not sure that would be fair. For example, I work in a very affluent area and had a 100% pass rate for my students on the state exams. Although I definitely worked hard to prepare my kids for the tests and think I should be rewarded for this, if I worked in a lower socio-economic region (like inner-city D.C.) my test scores wouldnt have been as high. So if you based performance on test scores, teachers working in inner city schools (the toughest jobs) would get the least raises and no one would want to work in those schools (who need it the most). There are just so many variables to a school that make it different from a business. Just thought I'd add my 2 cents and see what ideas people had for how we could offer some type of fair incentive system for schools because I'd be all for it! Without a doubt an increase in pay for teachers would increase the supply of quality people willing to teach.

#4 nutzbuster

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Posted 26 February 2006 - 03:25 PM

My father is a retired CPA and often substitute teaches. And my co-workers sister teaches so I hear about this situation frequently. What a noble profession. The pay is so bad in their cases that you just know it is truly a labor of love for them. How sad the financial conditions under which most teachers work. In my co-workers sisters case that family is just barely scraping by. And she is sooooo dediacted and loves her kids so much that I dare say she would probably do it for free. Often times the school is without certain supplies and what not but they always find a way.It would be fantastic if someday this whole structure changes. I am not totally opposed to a teachers Union, but maybe modifying it to provide for pay per performance incentives. Anyway, I hope this all changes. Wish I could offer some fantastic solution instead of a comment, but to all the teachers out there, I am rooting for you.A large part of our kids futures are in your hands. And thanks! :club:



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#5 jefrock21

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Posted 26 February 2006 - 03:46 PM

I currently am a teacher and have taught for about 12 years counting the years I was an aide and substitute. I love what I do and agree with you that the educational system is in bad shape. The main reason is the state of our society. When I was in school teachers got more respect and got support from the parents. Now the parents aren't wanting to take as much responsibility for the way their children act and perform. Another problem is the government funding schools. They send more money to schools in larger cities. They also could fund education better if they do what they say they are going to do. For example, when they started lotteries in some states they said they would use that money to help better fund education. They use the lottery money for education, but they took the money they used for education to other departments. So education still had the same amount of money but the state ddn't have to put as much in.I would love for teachers to be paid based on performance but the schools can't afford it. If "No Child Left Behind" and the way government funds schools they will get their wish of having huge schools eliminating many smaller schools so there will be less schools to fund.As for why there is not more good teachers is because of pay. Many people leave teaching because they find better paying jobs. I make $30,000 a year, which isn't bad, but for having a "professional" job is not that much. I didn't stay in teaching for the money though. I see it as being able to reach kids. If I wanted to I could probably get a different job and make more money but I wouldn't be as happy. Unfortunately not only do teachers have to teach but they have to be so much more. In my case (since I teach in an elementary school), I get to be some kids only male influence in their life because there are more single parent families. Kids also have so much more stuff do deal with then when we were kids. It blows my mind how many things they know or have dealt with it at such an early age.I wish there was a way teachers could get paid by performance but unless the government changes there way things will not change and get worse.I think I have ran on enough. Thank you for doing your blog. I know people attack you on it but I really do enjoy reading it and this one was really well written.
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#6 kamikaze

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Posted 26 February 2006 - 08:46 PM

View PostDanielNegreanu, on Sunday, February 26th, 2006, 2:42 PM, said:

Thanks for your post. I'm curious, just thinking about how things work, don't you feel that the GOOD teachers who are VASTLY underpaid suffer because of the teacher's who don't do a good job?
Honestly, I really don't. I don't blame other teachers. Being a part of the system, I feel how draining it is to show up and do my best when I am not sustained by my job. I know I won't last long like this, and I don't know how anyone does. As much as I try not to let it, low pay affects my job performance. I still do a great job overall, but it is impossible not to feel debilitated sometimes (or even a lot) in this context.I blame a system, state, and society that doesn't prioritize education. I have 100 grand in debt from my education. I am a highly trained, highly skilled professional who just wants a decent job and decent pay so I can repay my debt, make my rent, and have a little leftover to help build a poker bankroll! I don't really care if my colleagues are as good as me or not.Now, I am in the University system, which is very different from the K-12 system. There are actually way too many Ph.D.'s for far too few jobs, and thus I think it is actually impossible these days to get a bad college education. Even the "worst" schools have immensely qualified professors and lecturers working at them. In K-12 it is the opposite: there is a huge shortage. Teacher bashing, low pay, high workloads, and union busting sure doesn't encourage smart, dedicated, professionals to join the field. In this way, it is exactly the opposite of a "corporate" structure, which would be forced to dramatically raise salaries and benefits to attract people to the workforce. It's ironic that after literally decades of this situation, which only gets worse, that people still propose the opposite: slashing pay, destroying unions, and moving to merit pay. There are reasons it is difficult to fire teachers, and they have nothing to do with protecting bad teachers (they have to do with protecting great teachers like myself who are queer or for other reasons might be targeted for reasons having nothing to do with teaching... it has happened and continues to happen all the time).I am fully willing to admit that I may be niave, as I actually believe that *everyone* deserves a great education, from pre-school through college. No two teachers are the same, and I do think each one can bring amazing things to the classroom. Not every teacher is going to be the "best," and if everyone is going to get educated, there is nothing wrong with that as we need every teacher we can get. When I teach, I focus on doing my best and teaching my students all I can-- and I honestly think most teachers are like me in this respect (again, perhaps my niaviete is showing!). I would like to see a system that expects and encourages this from it's respected professionals, not one that discourages anyone with a half a brain from entering the field in the first place!Oh man, I could talk about this for hours! If you are ever in San Francisco, we should have a drink or two...

#7 ColeSLaw

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Posted 27 February 2006 - 02:33 AM

As has been mentioned, the difficulty in a performance-based pay scale is measuring performance (objective versus subjective criteria, test score versus improvement, the nature of standardized testing, yadda yadda).Also, the difficulty with your suggestion to make a market for enrolment is that education has different characteristics than say goods we subject to a competitive market. Education is viewed by many as a public good with positive externalities and/or as a right to which a government has a duty to provide.Further, simply introducting a competitive feature, allowing choice in location attended, into a public system would in my opinion just create more problems. I believe you assume that "better" schools would take more students, and this would create incentives for "worse" schools or teachers to leave the market or improve but would that happen? How many students could be added without effecting the quality of the "better"? Are there barriers to entry or exit that would cause some students to receive a worse education? Is it fair to allow some students to receive "worse" teaching if they are unable or unwilling to move? Again, how are the evaluations made and are we assuming that students would move or be moved based on these quality evaluations versus other reasons such as location of friends, or whatever other variable? The more rigorous you play this thought experiment, the worse it sounds.The least problematic and fairest solutions I can think of are systemic ones such as increasing salaries across the board, decreasing class size, improving training, improving the financial and social conditions of students and so on. None of these are easy, but looking for Smith's invisible hand to pat you on the back is not the solution.

#8 RndTblKnght

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Posted 27 February 2006 - 06:50 AM

My wife is a teacher and I agree that the No Child Left Behind is junk!! And I HATE POLITICS!!!! I believe our entire country is becoming a bunch of soft, politically correct, "let's not hurt anyone's feelings." kind of place. I understand the concept of giving every child the best education possible, but the No Child Left Behind Act just teaches a test and measures a teacher's success based on a test when there are otherwise bright students who just do not test well. The system also "pushes" students through so they are not left behind when they should be held back. The sad fact is that all children are not equally smart, and they never will be in some cases and all you can do is help them reach their personal best potential. Pushing them through to make them feel good is a bad plan. My wife's students do better than most in the school system and she is considered Highly Qualified, which she also feels is a joke because it is too easy in her opinion to get that qualification. Also, this system creates even more of a workload on teachers who already go above and beyond in my opinion. I also do not like Unions. My wife is in the teacher's Union for one reason, the insurance they provide if a parent decided to try and sue. Otherwise I think Unions are a waste and they provide job security for people who in some cases do not deserve job security. I believe personally that a Union representative doesn't care about my salary or benefits as much as I do, so I would prefer to negotiate them on my own behalf. I do have a high amount of respect for teachers. I believe they are professionals; and to be a good teacher, I believe it has to be a calling on your life. How many people can go get a 4 year college degree to be paid $25,000 a year and put up with all the parents and other frustrations that come with the job? I suppose for us it isn't all bad; one of our benefits is that we get to hand pick our sons' teachers each year, so we insure that they are getting quality teachers each year and therefore get a quality public education.Best Wishes,RTK
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#9 wvapoker

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Posted 27 February 2006 - 07:26 AM

Well, I don't know where to start. I am in the K-12 system and was shaking my head in agreement with Daniel.There is not incentive for teachers to do excellent work. It is a noble profession, but in the end it is just another job. A 7A to 3:30P grind. I listen to "admin can't put that many kids in your class...call the union rep." I truly believe that if there was no teacher unions that school would improve, because teachers would have to excel to make living.Teachers are underpaid??? They are getting paid for 10 months work and typically have great benefits. Now I know things are different in other areas of the country, but my state is usually ranked in about 43rd out of 50 states in pay. WV teachers do OK for the cost of living in this state.What is a true shame is that since educators educate educators they make it extremely easy to get a Masters in Education. That way they can get the pay increase "that they deserve" (sw). Again, in WV the masters thesis at Marshall University is "fill in the blank"!If people want to make a six figure income they need to take some risks. Start your own business or go back school for a professional degree (MD, JD, etc.) I think that half of the people select teaching as a career, because that is there calling. The other half do it because it was the easy way out. They did not want to be challenged.

#10 sniper

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Posted 27 February 2006 - 10:52 AM

A couple of comments from a dad with two kids in elementary school...Thank God for John Stossel and the piece he did on the current state of education in America. Very rare for the liberal media to present a story such as this.We all scratch our heads and say there is no easy fix, when in fact the easy fix was used as an example in the story. Adopt the policies that are used at the school that spends $3000 per child, and you have your answer.Lastly, I'm in favor of public education, and certainly appreciate everything teachers do for our kids, however, in an era of 1-2 percent inflation, why is it that schools need 8-10 percent budget increases every year? The rest of us get by on cost of living increases, heck, pilots are taking 40 percent pay CUTS to keep airlines afloat, yet teachers always whine that they are underpaid.The Superintendant in my school district gets over $150K per year, plus health club memberships, huge car allowances, etc. etc. etc...Yes, it's an important job, but that's more than the Governor of my state gets.You knew the deal when you signed up, so THANK YOU to the teachers out there who love their jobs and feel adequetely compensated!
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#11 Trail Boss Mitch

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Posted 27 February 2006 - 11:17 AM

I've always thought that competition would solve many problems in the public schools. Make the local school boards compete and see how fast they improve. The rise in home schooling is directly related to poor public education, as is the rise in charter schools. When it comes to educating children, nothing should be left open to chance...you do whatever is best for your child.
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#12 MaxKare

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Posted 27 February 2006 - 11:25 AM

For the poster who asked how could you measure teacher performance. I am a corporate trainer. A few times a year I have an unannounced visit from my supervisor. He will show up in my class to observe me, how well prepared I am, etc. He then turns in a report which affects my job status, pay etc. To much of our tax dollars go to overhead, administration, etc. Each county has a super, a staff, etc. Much of this overhead could be reduced and more money could flow into the classroom.If the same amount of tax dollars we pay for government schools were put into the private education system and students given vouchers, we have much better educated children. Imagine if there were only government grocery stores. I dare say we would pay higher prices and get less selction and quality than we get today. The federal governemnt needs to worry about national defense, some oversight and regulation of the private sector and then get out of the way of private business and we would see massive improvements in many areas. As you might be able to tell, I am a Libetarian.

#13 Jonbonwolf

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Posted 27 February 2006 - 12:35 PM

As for why there is not more good teachers is because of pay. Many people leave teaching because they find better paying jobs. I make $30,000 a year, which isn't bad, but for having a "professional" job is not that much. I didn't stay in teaching for the money though. I see it as being able to reach kids. If I wanted to I could probably get a different job and make more money but I wouldn't be as happy. WV teachers do OK for the cost of livingYou knew the deal when you signed up, so THANK YOU to the teachers out there who love their jobs and feel adequetely compensated!Do OK!??? Who wants to do "ok", Not me!!! Some perspective. I'm "not" a teacher. Why because of the pay. I had thought of becoming a teacher at one point. (I even was an assistant teacher for a short while) But I thought about the money, Judge me if you wish, but its true. I even tried to tell myself that I had summers off, extra vacation ect. But the pay was so low.I since have been in Sales Management. I have excelled in my chosen career. I would have, (and in a since am) been a great teacher. Money is a problem when you donít have enough, however itís not going to fix all the problems. As far as the unions go. There are pros, and cons. Yes some lazy people are harder to get rid of, and yes, as our gay friend said above, it protects some peopleís rights. Hereís an idea..... Lets pay a guy who throws a football 5 million a year, then talk about 40k as being an "ok" amount of money, for a teacher. Its simple, our way isnít working. More pay by its self isnít going to fix the problem, however itís a start in the right direction.For the poster who asked how could you measure teacher performance. I am a corporate trainer. A few times a year I have an unannounced visit from my supervisor. He will show up in my class to observe me, how well prepared I am, etc. He then turns in a report which affects my job status, pay etc. I agree! How about getting the parents involved here. Set up a training program for parents, so they could be the "unannounced visitor". now that might get some results. :club:
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#14 blueodum

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Posted 27 February 2006 - 03:01 PM

If the same amount of tax dollars we pay for government schools were put into the private education system and students given vouchers, we have much better educated children. Imagine if there were only government grocery stores. I dare say we would pay higher prices and get less selction and quality than we get today. The federal governemnt needs to worry about national defense, some oversight and regulation of the private sector and then get out of the way of private business and we would see massive improvements in many areas.As you might be able to tell, I am a Libetarian.Libertarian = Hopelessly naive idealist.Education has significant positive externalities and that means that an efficient market for education can't exist because of the free-rider phenomenon (we as a society benefit from a highly educated workforce, but given the choice, we prefer someone else to foot the bill). That's why government steps in and collects taxes from EVERYBODY in order to fund something which is of benefit to EVERYONE. People without kids still have to pay taxes that go for schools, as do people that will never set foot in a university. This is the way it should be and this is the way it is in every developed country. In fact, countries with an extremely strong state-sector education system like France, Germany, Scandinavia and Japan have among the best-educated populaces. That isn't a fluke. In those countries teaching might be the most respected profession there is.Education is a public good and is the backbone of all the material prosperity we have in the West. And it was the advent of universal public education that allowed the wealth to spread to the majority of the population, whereas previously education and wealth was restricted to the priveleged classes.You can't treat education as if it were a medium-sized dry good and try to create a "free" market for it. If that were to happen it would result in even greater polarization between educated and non-educated and rich and poor in the US.The answer to your woes is to increase recruitment into teacher's colleges and double the salaries of teachers, while making teachers' colleges as challenging to graduate from as law school. Stop spending money on extravangances like swimming pools and high-school football teams. Then people will actually WANT to become teachers and be financially compensated adequately for what is a very very difficult job.This is the crux of the matter: North American society simply doesn't care enough about education and that is why it is deteriorating.
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#15 jefrock21

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Posted 27 February 2006 - 03:24 PM

Since the government and the taxpayers pay for schools the only way you could pay teachers more for doing a "better job" would be for people to have to pay tuition or raise each local cities property tax. Unfortunately schools are at the mercy of government on how much they get. I agree with some of the others that the voucher system is a bad idea. People will use it for the wrong reasons i.e. an athlete moving schools to go to a better sports school because the school he is at is a "bad school."Another bad thing that could result from deciding which schools get money based on performance could be that schools get rid of their bad testers by finding ways to get rid of the bad students. How many schools are going to want to add the poorer students to their school because it hurts their national/state average. I agree that students need to know more but they don't learn as much now because they are too busy getting ready for standardized tests.Another dumb thing, for example, is that, in my state, teachers have to pick up 15 hours of professional development to improve their skills to help their students. The only problem is that most of the hours you can pick up are during the school day, which means, in order to help students you have to leave them with a substitute teacher.And as for the guy that said teachers only have to work 10 months and they get great benefits he is only partially right. Administrators get paid huge salaries and get good benefits. In my case to get health insurance for my family would cost me half of my pay check.(Maybe we need to something with the outrageous prices hospitals and doctors charge) Many teachers work second jobs to get by. I have umpired during the summer and teach summer school(which the stae funds better for summer school then the regular school year)and I know many other teachers that work weekends to get by. Unless the teachers spouse has a good job they need to find other sources of income or realise that other jobs pay more and leave teaching.
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#16 blueodum

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Posted 27 February 2006 - 03:32 PM

In my case to get health insurance for my family would cost me half of my pay check.Move to Canada. Basic health care is covered out of your taxes and teachers (at least in Ontario) have a great health benefit and pension plans.
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#17 TheMathProf

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Posted 27 February 2006 - 07:34 PM

I just wanted to chime in on this debate.I see a couple of fundamental problems with education right now. One of them is the problem with a merit system, in my opinion, is the question of how you decide what merit is.(a) Is merit what you get when 100% of your students pass a given test or meet certain criteria? An earlier poster mentioned the idea of inner-city schools being a potential problem here, but I'd like to cite another: even within a given school, who teaches the lowest of the low?I tend to periodically teach the lowest level course we offer at the high school. I really enjoy teaching these kids. A lot of them have it in their heads that they are wretched mathematicians. There may be some truth to what some of them say, but on the other hand, a lot of them have absolutely shattered confidence. Restoring their confidence and getting them to a good spot mathematically is something I really look forward to every time I teach that course.But I will tell you those kids, as a whole, will still score lower on the standardized tests than any other group in the school. They were far behind to start, and while they've made good progress, they're still well behind their peers.Would I teach that group given the choice, if I knew there was likely a pay cut in it for me? I'd have to be pretty darned dedicated to take on that group. I don't know that I could afford to do it.(b) Is merit what you get when your kids show the most improvement? This, in my mind, has the opposite problem.© Ultimately, the process of education is a long one, and not something that happens overnight. Therefore, the idea of impromptu visits being the best measure of how well someone teaches is laughable.Daniel talks about the teachers who put a drain on the system because of union protections. I've seen two such teachers in my teaching tenure.The first of these teachers was affectionately called the "Blockbuster Lady". She got by by showing Blockbuster videos. She used to grade kids based on how attentive they were to the movies (which incidentally, had nothing to do with the subject matter). After awhile, her department got ticked that a lot of her kids didn't know the prerequisite skills, and demanded that she at least give the course level final exam. She did, the kids all failed it (every single one of them, which is a talent), and that finally terminated her position. She was six months of retirement, and reportedly had been doing this for over nine years.The second was a tougher case. He talked the talk. He could even walk the walk with administrators present. But without administrators present, this teacher would feed students answers, he would teach them how to do all of their work in the calculator without thought by transferring programs to calculate slope, distance formula, and the like to their calculators. And while everybody knew that this guy was a big problem, it took them 12 years to finally move him down to the middle school level, as they still didn't have grounds to fire the guy.Are there bad teachers out there? Absolutely! But are unions the problem? I'm not so sure.I'm also in a school that has had 140% turnover in our department in the last four years. I am the second most experienced teacher out of eleven, and I am in my fourth year at the school. I am the co-department chair in a department that has exactly two teachers over the age of 35. I've seen teachers hired for our school who don't speak English fluently, teachers hired for our school who don't have a degree, teachers hired for our school who aren't old enough to drink, teachers hired for our school who party with the students on weekends, teachers hired for our school who teach the math incorrectly, teachers hired for our school who leave their classes unattended during exams and whose students post record high exam scores, teachers hired for our school who don't know how to speak to students effectively, and teachers hired for our school who are unable to inspire. Most of these have been lucky to last a few weeks, or even a semester.And why do we hire these teachers? Because in math, they're the best available. You should see the people that we refused to hire.And this is at a school that routinely ranks in the top 50 in Newsweek magazine due to the number of students who take AP exams. They even do well.I really think a major problem at the schools is recruitment of teachers. I think if you were able to recruit higher quality teachers, then a lot of the need for union protections would go down. I think if you were able to convince people to join the educational field who were of high quality, you would see a lot of the problems reduced.One of the things that I believe will have to happen is a change between the amount of money teachers are paid based on subject matter. As it is now, a lot of math and science teachers can make significantly better money elsewhere, and the disparity is getting to the point where it makes it harder and harder to pass up. (I recently got a job offer for three times my current salary, and probably only turned it down because they wanted me to start within two weeks, during the middle of the school year.)They say that over half of our teachers quit during the first five years, and a lot of it is because it's hard. The expectations don't change much for a first year teacher versus a wily veteran, and I think a lot of first year teachers lack the experience and educational know-how to match the veteran's saavy. It takes time to develop the kind of skills that make you top-notch.Let me suggest that one way you could get more teachers to stay for longer periods of time would be to be willing to pay off student loans or college tuitions for teachers who have a certain amount of service in the classroom (I would propose five years). I think it does run the potential risk of teachers doing their time, but if you also guarantee that teachers don't get tenure until five years have elapsed, I think it would prevent some teachers from mailing it in. It's difficult for me to suggest this, though: two years ago, I received evaluations that were extremely negative and almost to the point of being blatantly false. That administrator very well could have had me fired, and if it weren't for our department chair who recognized the quality of my teaching, it's very likely that I would no longer be teaching today. Ironically, the administrator herself was coming under fire; she was nearly fired for her inability to evaluate teachers! She ended up leaving on her own, but not before she nearly ended my career.Let me suggest that merit pay in and of itself isn't the answer, unless merit pay also means more pay for the teachers who do well. This means more money into the system. Even if you allocated your merit pay similar to the distributions that you have now, your top paid teachers are only going to be grossing somewhere in the vicinity of $50,000 - $60,000 in this part of the country. Let me further suggest that the unions would never allow it, even if it were to work.Let me suggest that student products are a little different from your typical manufacturing style products, in that the students have a mind of their own. Let me suggest that these students are further different from a corporate trainer, in that the employees in a corporate training system have the paycheck as their motivation, and a certain code of conduct that is to be upheld by the company, lest the students be fired. On the other hand, excuses are now running rampant in our public schools for why Johnny Doe is behaving the way he does, and the solution to Johnny's problems is to medicate and provide him with self-esteem.We certainly wouldn't be asked to build a car out of defective materials; why do we sometimes ask ourselves to build a model perfect student when all of the parts aren't there to do it with?Let me suggest that most private schools are successful, in part because they have a say into the students that are admitted. Even some charter schools have this; the first school that I taught at was a charter school, and we rid ourselves of a lot of ne'er-do-well's as soon as we possibly could. Suddenly, our grades had improved and our number of suspensions/detentions decreased dramatically? Coincidence? I think not.Even when most public schools kick a student out, that student still usually gets recycled within the district to other schools. It nearly takes incarceration in our district to get a student out for good. What would a private or charter school do with this child?I think sometimes we also need to take a look at education and realize that the problems are deeper than we give them credit for. We're all so keen on sound bite solutions that sound good, but that often do nothing, and we're not trying to fix the actual problems. That's what "No Child Left Behind Is", that's what the new "65% Spending in the Classroom" group is, that's what a lot of things are.And, oh, by the way, a lot of high school football programs are self-sustaining from their revenue. Not all of the, but ours is. It also pays for six other sports at the school. Not bad for something that's sucking away the funding for the classroom.I've talked way too much here. But I guess I had a lot to say.Time to get back to grading.

#18 princeof56k

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Posted 27 February 2006 - 08:57 PM

I read some of the replies and I agree that our scchool system here does have its faults. The competence of some teachers, the school system in general, and money all shoulder some of the blame, but I dont think any of those things are the main problem.The main problem is the majority parents and kids who take absolutely no responsibility towards education. They basically dont care or believe its not their problem.If the kids fail, well then its the fault of the edcuation system. After all its not the parents job to teach their kids anything, its the schools job. Besides the parents are too busy trying to pay the rent today. They have no time to care about their childs education and what will happen 15 years from now. As long as the school babysits their kid while their working, everything is cool.That may sound strange, but a lot of parents either feel or act that way. And with attitudes like that, its no wonder the kids dont give a crap about school. Once the parents actually start caring and get involved with their childs education, only then will things change.And that's the biggest reason that kids of home schooling and private schools are doing so well. Sure the money and improved teachers helps, but these kids have parents that actually care. And they care enough to do something about it. They realize that education is the key to the kingdom. I promise you that when the kid leaves school the learning process continues at home, and the parents let it be known that education is important.The government can put in any fancy system it wants and throw as much money at it as they can, but its not going to do anything until the parents decide to get more involved with their childs education.

#19 zimmer4141

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Posted 27 February 2006 - 09:38 PM

OK, as a student, I think I can offer a slightly different perspective on this. The current system in Michigan is preposterous. All public education is state funded. However, we get $6600 per child, while the schools in surburban Detroit get $8900 per child. How that makes sense I have no idea. Our school district has had to cut teachers every year for the past 3 years, and many of them were good teachers too, while some of the worst teachers remain here because of tenure.As one of the brightest minds in my school (not trying to be arrogant or aloof, but it is the truth) I have no desire to go into teaching. I see what they do, how much work they put in, to earn $40,000 or less per year. I couldn't deal with teenagers all day either. Just some of the crap teachers have to put up with just boggles my mind sometimes. The current system seems to set kids up for failure, and it isn't getting better with No Child Left Behind. Education is severly underfunded in all of America, which is sad when that is the main way to build a better future.
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#20 PrtyPSux

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Posted 28 February 2006 - 02:45 AM

I agree with most of what is being said. So I will just tell my quick story of experiencing schooling in two different countries.I did most of my "learnig" (2nd grade and up) in the U.S. I never had any problems with school even though I am an overall "poor" student. I never did my homework I never EVER studied, and I always passed my classes with C's and B's. When I was 14 years old my cousin from Mexico City came to live with me for one year so that he could study in the U.S. He comes from a very rich family who only really wanted him to learn english. Well when my cousin finally got to school (he was 15) they put him straight into the regular classes without even knowing that he didn't know english. His English level was probably a 3 out of 10. Not only that, but in Mexico he was considered a poor student compared to the rest of his classmates. Anyway, By the time the year ended his English level had improved VERY slightly, yet he had passed with straight A's...WITHOUT KNOWING THE LANGUAGE!.....He was in awe of how easy school was here in the US, and well I was just wondering how he could get better grades than me without knowing the language.The next year, when I turned 15, I found out why he was a much better student than I was. I moved back to Mexico my first year in highschool. Lets just say that it was a COMPLETELY different school system than the one they have here in the states. I was used to having 6 or 7 classes per year here in U.S. 4 "core" classes (math, science,english, history) and 3 "electives" (art,yearbook,Soccer). Now when I got to Mexico I was completely overwhelmed with the 14 subjects I took each year (not to mention extracurricular activities such as United Nations Simulations). I had come from a lifetime of horrible study habits and now I didnt know what to do. My first semester I failed most of my classes and by my second semester I had a tutor for every subject and I started doing quite well. The teachers I had in Mexico expected MUCH more from their students than the teachers I had in the US, that in itself makes a HUGE difference.Well after being in Mexico for a while I came back to High School in the US and basically cruised all the way to graduation.. I only failed one class, and thats because half way through it I realized that I didnt need it in order to graduate so I just stopped showing up. just to give you a comparison on the different types of schooling, here are the websites to my two Highschools:My HS in MexicoSchool in the USI think they speak for themselves.Well, I just wanted to share simply because Ive experienced two different school systems and it made it very clear to me that the US school system is horrible. I just dont understand how a country with so much power/money can disregard something as important as education.




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