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Author Topic: How we view our Education system- why?
vulture
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quote:
Originally posted by simplybiological:
Going back to my original post, I wasn't intending to focus on salary, nor to stipulate that teachers are the only undervalued workers. Ev and I have both stated that we did not expect to make big bucks going into teaching- no one does. I make about the same as I did when I was in a lab identifying macroinvertebrates under a microscope... and that's ok. But I do think the job I do now is much harder, more time consuming, and of a much greater value than being a lab tech. But it's not. What I want is that acknowledgment.

Firefighters are definitely respected for what they do, and for excellent reason. However, I do not feel that my profession earns the same respect. My question was, how do I change that?



Not sure that you can (the voice of optimism strikes again). Most people's perceptions of the quality of teaching comes from when they were kids at school, and lets face it, school kids are never going to have a terribly high opinion of their teachers in the vast majority of cases. Teachers are the enemy.

And people have no idea how hard it is to teach in schools. They are comparing real-world results with the mental image of a teacher with a class of twenty or so well-behaved, intelligent and motivated students (rather than 35 howler monkeys, one or two of whom might have a passing interest in the subject you are teaching, and most of whom will spend 60 minutes of serious effort to get out of doing 30 minutes of school work).

quote:

Oh, and for the record G2- I am a relatively new teacher, but it will take me 16 years of teaching in my district to reach this alleged "average" salary.

Averages are never much use in the pyramid-like structure of salaries. Median or modal salary would be more informative (and somewhat lower I suspect).
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Everard
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"I don't understand why "lack of respect for the teaching of the profession" and "teachers are underpaid" are always correlated."

Many teachers go into the profession for reasons other then money. When you do that, you're hoping to get something else out of doing your job... for many teachers its providing opportunity, or doing something we believe is necessary. "Thank you," is one of the major payoffs for doing a dirty job that needs to be done, and too few teachers hear that from the community. More often its quite the opposite.

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simplybiological
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quote:
And people have no idea how hard it is to teach in schools. They are comparing real-world results with the mental image of a teacher with a class of twenty or so well-behaved, intelligent and motivated students (rather than 35 howler monkeys, one or two of whom might have a passing interest in the subject you are teaching, and most of whom will spend 60 minutes of serious effort to get out of doing 30 minutes of school work).
Haha. I will say that I am in the unique position of being somewhere in between-- I have 20 howler monkeys, most of whom are more engaged than they otherwise would be, because the projects I write are more interesting than say, taking notes from a book.

I think the thing that's the hardest for me is that when I am done with my official work day, I'm really only about halfway done with my work... I tutor kids afterschool, then go home and frantically write more curriculum and grade. I can't leave work at work, and I'm NEVER done. It's exhausting to feel that way all the time- I'm certain some of you have the same deal at your jobs.

I guess the thing that always gets my goat (aside from people saying I'm paid what I earn) is when people assume teaching is easy.

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G2
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quote:
Originally posted by simplybiological:
Just FYI, I teach just outside Austin, and I make 38,000/yr before taxes.

I take home $2,700 a month. I work between 50 and 70 hours a week. I have to go to professional development weekly at my school, monthly in my district. I'm generally not paid for this time. Over the summer, I will run orientations for freshman, present at conferences, and write curriculum.

I'm trying to put this in some kind of perspective. At $38K per year, assuming the average work year of 2000 hours per year, you would make $19/hour. Now everard has assured us that on average you would work 10% more hours per year so that would drop to $17.27 per hour. I do realize that during the school year your work more than 10% more hours but I'm thinking the breaks you get (summer, Christmas, spring break, etc) you work less than 40 hours per week so I assume it averages out to about the 10% more. The average number of school days in America is 180 so I think that assumption is pretty good if not generous since that would mean you get 75 days off per year not including weekends (most professionals do well to achieve 15 days).
From here we can see that the average entry level pay for education in Austin, TX is $10.02/hour and the average is $19.54/hour. You're obviously a well above average teacher and it shows in your compensation since you're basically at the entry level and earning about 70% more than the entry level average and are very close to the overall average for education related careers.

That hourly comparison is not your *total* compensation though. I believe you get some pretty good health care benefits, a retirement package of some kind, etc that many hourly wage employees do not get. It varies wildly from business to business but, in my experience, total compensation can be anywhere from 10%-40% higher than actual paychecks depending on the benefits offered and how aggressively people take advantage of them.

Don't think I'm trying to minimize the challenge of teaching or trying to make the case you're paid appropriately, I'm just trying to get a handle on what you're really getting for compensation. I think it's more than has been stated once we add all the things you get into the mix.

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simplybiological
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Salary is not where I intended to go with this, but OK.

The starting salary for teachers and librarians in
Austin ISD is 39,710 (+ 900 for master's).
Pflugerville ISD is 40,000 (+500 for master's).
Leander ISD is 40,200 (+1000 for master's).
Round Rock ISD is 40,000 (+1000 for master's).
Hays ISD is 38,000 (+1500 for master's).
Mine, Manor ISD, is upping starting pay to 39,000 next year, +1000 for masters (woo raise).

The difference between these is negligible for me; I chose Manor because my school is very cool, and we serve a population that has a socioeconomic profile that I am interesting in working with (primarily lower income, minority students, many with citizenship issues themselves or in their family).

The about.com link bundles together "education, training, and library" which includes god knows what- certainly the starting salary for anyone doing my job in the Austin area is at or above mine at my level of experience.

I am paid for 187 days of work. My district requires a ton of Professional development over the summer- I'll be getting my ESL certification, gifted and talented hours, presenting at two conferences, doing a two week freshman orientation camp, and present for all-staff work days before my pay starts.

Texas is crap for teacher benefits-- it's the worst insurance and benefits I've ever had for the price, including when being a lab tech for the state and a lab instructor at the University.

Again, when I started this whole thing, Salary was not my angle... it was respect.

[ April 16, 2008, 11:04 AM: Message edited by: simplybiological ]

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msquared
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We respect you SB.

We are also glad you are back.

msquared

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G2
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quote:
Originally posted by simplybiological:
Again, when I started this whole thing, Salary was not my angle... it was respect.

I think salary is a part of the respect 'package'. If you were offered 100K per year, you'd know the people within the education community have a great deal of respect for your contributions and were compensating you accordingly. Salary is not the only way of measuring these things but I do think it's a player. For the community at large, it may not be that big a player though - and I think that's where you were going. I just think both need to be a part of this respect equation since some are trying to equate teaching to babysitting based on pay scales and the issue of long hours vs. compensation has been brought so heavily into the mix.
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OpsanusTau
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Let's not disrespect the babysitters.

<ahem>

[Wink]

It has been repeatedly shown that inputs in early childhood have a huge impact on outcomes in later life.
I get paid a lot, and I earn every bit of it.
Moreover, I in general feel like I get approximately as much respect as I deserve from that job, from most people.

If you want to talk about disrespect at approximately the same payscale, talk about cleaning houses and doing landscaping maintenance.

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kenmeer livermaile
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"Not sure that you can (the voice of optimism strikes again). Most people's perceptions of the quality of teaching comes from when they were kids at school, and lets face it, school kids are never going to have a terribly high opinion of their teachers in the vast majority of cases. Teachers are the enemy."

If this is true, then I think it means that far too few parents get involved with their children's schooltime. Not everyone has the opportunity I had a few years back, being an at home Dad living across the street from my boy's elementary school, but then, I made the most of that opportunity (before I started bleeding on kids).

But even a half-day a month at the school makes kids very happy and teaches grown-ups a new respect for those hard-working teachers.

They leave happy to return to their desk job and deal with irate customers and pukehead bosses. (But sad to leave all those beaming little ones.)

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drewmie
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On the one hand, teachers are horribly paid. I don't care if they only work nine months of the year. The "Friday Night Lights" mentality is still too common of an attitude, and it's embarrassing.

The root of the problem is parents. I interviewed a local school board president a few years ago, and she says something like, "If we removed the math curriculum completely from the district, we'd get a few angry parents showing up at the next meeting. But if we moved one bus route, we'd fill the room with a lynch mob." And this is an upper-middle-class district! The message from parents is clear: Babysit my kids, and leave me alone.

We went so far as to change schools for our oldest girl's 2st grade year. During 1st grade, we volunteered and offered help. And we tried to get information on her needs and performance. But we kept getting vague "don't worry, she's fine" answers, even when we pressed for detail on where we should be helping her. The school was too used to parents who simply wanted to be told that their kid is wonderful, but don't actually give a crap about the details. We can only blame teachers up to a certain point for this, since it would change quite drastically if more parents expected real information and involvement.

On the other hand, I was speaking to another teacher at that same school about the private school voucher referendum that recently failed in Utah. It gave money based on need toward private tuition. Naturally, this guy thought it was a bad idea, and actually had the stones to say, "Well sure, it may be good for parents, but it's not so good for teachers." WTH??!! I just stood their slack-jawed. Since when do we make public education decisions based on anything but what best educates the children?

I don't care if you're for or against a voucher program, but let's at least agree that parental convenience and teacher salaries and job security don't matter except insofar as they educate children better. They are means, not ends.

Lastly, let's at least do the obvious thing and get rid of K-12 teacher tenure. It's stupid, and it serves no purpose for the kids. Live in the real freakin' world where people have to perform day-to-day to keep their job.

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Jesse
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I've never claimed to believe teaching is easy, just that too many of the people doing it are bad at it.

The reasons I would never teach kids have nothing to do with pay. They have everything to do with bureaucracy and the quality of co-workers.

A simple (or not so simple) question, SB. Would you leave teaching if your pay dropped 5k a year?

Ken

Had it been an actual e-mail, I wouldn't have posted it.

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kenmeer livermaile
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"Had it been an actual e-mail, I wouldn't have posted it."

Ah. I'm thoroughly confused, but never mind. BTW, I was speaking more to Daruma, who interjected martyr complexes and such, than you.

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KidB
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quote:
The school was too used to parents who simply wanted to be told that their kid is wonderful, but don't actually give a crap about the details. We can only blame teachers up to a certain point for this, since it would change quite drastically if more parents expected real information and involvement.

Yes, and I think this speaks to a root problem on our culture - the cult of "self-esteem."
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Jesse
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I think it goes a bit more to the two-income family, 50 hour work weeks, and long commutes.

Many folks who get to see their kids two hours a day would rather not be spending that time in a parent-teacher conference, or making sure their kid does worksheets.

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KidB
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Jesse,

That too, but only as a comparatively minor contributing factor. Or, more accurately, a problem for families who work long hours. However, I've known plenty of kids, and teens, and adults, from very comfortable home situations who are turned to mush by America's uniquely appalling mixture of feel-good-ism and ruthless competition. "You are incredibly special, and you should be proud of yourself no matter what you do" and bumperstickers that boast "My kid is an honor student at Stuffed Shirt Academy" are all part of the same egoistic, narcissistic malaise. Humility, patience, and respect are lost arts.

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simplybiological
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quote:
A simple (or not so simple) question, SB. Would you leave teaching if your pay dropped 5k a year?
It would reeeeally affect my ability to pay my mortgage and bills, etc. I doubt I would leave teaching, but I might leave my district.

quote:
Yes, and I think this speaks to a root problem on our culture - the cult of "self-esteem."
I like to call it the, "Not MY Angel Syndrome," where parents act as though it is simply not possible that their sweet adorable angel could be doing things wrong, and what did YOU the teacher do to provoke such horrible actions? Every time I call a parent for the first time, I get all steeled for an onslaught of blame.

Thankfully, the parents of our students are coming around to the idea that the teachers at our school are hyper-involved and try many, many things before resorting to traditional management.

I have a terrible time getting a hold of parents- many kids in this community have working single parent homes, homes where one or both parents work two jobs or night shifts, and financial difficulties. Many times when I try to call a parent, I get disconnected number messages. We also have issues with parents who do not speak English feeling as though they cannot be involved, even though many of our staff are fluent, and a number of us are learning. Most of my messages are not returned, and some parents simply don't pick up when they see it's the school.

There's no easy solution, but the biggest difference I see in success is between students with support and boundaries at home, and those without. One way I see education getting better is when parents expect good things, and take that to the schoolboard and the teachers.

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Everard
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I'm puzzled how that was not an "actual email."

Would I leave teaching if I were paid 5k less per year? I don't know where the cutoff comes, but I'd certainly leave if pay dropped below my ability to meet basic needs for myself.

I recently bought a new bed for myself. I had to, my old one was ancient, and it was breaking my back. This wasn't a luxury purchase, but one that was needed for my health. Its the first large expense I've had in my two years teaching, and it means I basically have no "entertainment" budget until the end of august.

How far would my pay have to drop before I left? I don't know. But I'm not exactly a long distance away from that line right now. Part of that is, of course, living in massachusetts, where cost of living is ridiculously high. On the other hand, schooling in massachusetts is typically much stronger then in most states, and I like being in this educational environment, its part of why I want to teach.

Finally, even someone doing a mediocre job at teaching is, on average, horribly underpaid based on a variety of different comparative measures. If you compare a mediocre teacher to a mediocre anything else earning the same pay, the teacher is more educated, spends more time actually working, and has met more requirements in order to hold the job. If you compare a mediocre teacher to a mediocre anything else with the same education, the teacher earns less pay. And across the board it goes.

And based on objective measures, rather then "did I hate going to school when I was a kid?" most teachers in this country are pretty good at what they do, and pretty dedicated to their job.

perception is not always the reality, and one of those places where this is extremely true is the quality of education in the united states.

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drewmie
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quote:
simplybiological wrote: There's no easy solution, but the biggest difference I see in success is between students with support and boundaries at home, and those without. One way I see education getting better is when parents expect good things, and take that to the schoolboard and the teachers.
Exactly! Thank you! By the way, would you support getting rid of K-12 tenure?

50 hrs/wk 2-person income? Single working parent? I can sum it up in one word: Priorities. I'm not being flippant, because it can be very difficult. But it is still possible to make your child's education a top priority. No single, simple formula will work for every family and situation. It takes diligence and sacrifice (for some much more than others).

In my school district, there's rarely any excuse. Plenty of stay-at-home parent situations, an okay (or very nice) salary, safe neighborhoods, etc. In short, our district just doesn't care. They want day care and an untampered schedule.

Welcome to Utah, a state full of Mormon Paris Hiltons within a decade. (shudder)

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Everard
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"By the way, would you support getting rid of K-12 tenure?"

Depends. How are you compensating me for the loss of my job security?

Tenure basically means that you can only be fired for cause, and that in terms of educational ability, the cause has to be documented, and the school has to help you improve and no improvement be shown, before the school can fire you.

I'm not sure this isn't a reasonable perk in a field that pays such a low salary.

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Viking_Longship
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From my experience teacheing I would say that if you reduced the stress level by making it possible for teachers to actually teach and not manage three times as many students as should be in a class room it would help. 10 students should be max class size, not 30.

We could also start highschool at 9am so that teenagers aren't as tired and sleep deprived, AND don't get to have 3 or 4 unsupervised hours to smoke up or have sex.

While I appreciate that teachers aren't paid enough neither are a lot of people from garbage men to firefighters and cops.

Personally I find out of the 13 or so diffeent jobs i have done in my life teaching is one of the best. Most people spend most of their waking hours at jobs that they hate. I don't.

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KidB
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Teachers should be paid more, without question. It's a no brainer. Higher pay would attract more qualified people to what is, by any measure, a very tough job. I don't know what's so controversial about this idea - it just seems like common sense to me.

And yes, it is an especially tough job. Anyone who thinks otherwise really lacks imagination. Tough, stressful, demanding, the works.

All these complaints against tenure, and "producing results" for higher pay are deeply misguided. Competition in education, especially among teachers, is completely counter-productive. It just leads to grade-inflation and and other forms of numbers-fraud. Parents have so internalized the corporate mentality that they think of themselves as consumers, and schoolteachers as waiters or clerks or something. Numbers on a ledger won't tell you jack. You need teachers who you know to be good and capable in the classical sense, and then trust them. Teachers can only do their job if they are recognized as having a special responsibility in society, and hence a certain authority, a knowledge of why and how and what children need to learn, and what problems they may be having, that some a-hole pencil-neck in NCLB node #627 who's compiling spreadsheets can't possibly know.

People talk about teaching as if it's just another job. That's the problem. Go ahead and keep telling everyone it's just another everyday job, and that it's only worth an everyday paycheck, and - go figure! - you'll get a lot of mediocre results.

My first cousin (closest I have to a brother) is a fireman, incidentally. It's a tough job, no doubt. He's run into plenty of burning buildings, which takes guts (he's a beast and a half, that guy). But you get a LOT of free down-time if you're a fireman. A teacher? Hell, no.

I can't believe the extent to which people think they can squeeze water out of a stone by taking already over-worked, underpaid people, and making their lives even more difficult, and asking them to teach to some centrally-devised multi-choice test, some form of educational spam, and ask them to compete with other districts with other needs, and then complain that teachers really have it all cozy and lovely with their summer vacations. They need those effing vacations! Are you kidding? What's wrong with people? Think of a classroom, the raging hormones, animosities, one person keeping order over them, and educating, and inspiring. And these people go home to creaky beds and tiny houses and mounds of homework to be corrected. Paid well? For this? And no respect from parents? Pity as a form of admiration? Education is the basis of our entire culture and society. Does that matter any more?

We must have a lot of private-schooled people on Ornery. Or people who hate being able to read, and add numbers, and stuff.

Gee-imminy.

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TCB
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To address the original question, I think the main reason that some people disdain teachers is that familiarity breeds contempt. Since everyone goes to school, some people are bound to have negative experiences, and to correlate those experiences with poor teaching.

No one disrespects firemen. But if everyone in America spent eight hours a day between the ages of 5 and 18 in a fire station working with firemen, you'd probably see a lot of people who hate and disparage them.

I'd add that most teachers I know have borderline disrespect for at least aspects of our education system in that they disagree with the amount of standardized testing we do.

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KidB
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quote:
To address the original question, I think the main reason that some people disdain teachers is that familiarity breeds contempt. Since everyone goes to school, some people are bound to have negative experiences, and to correlate those experiences with poor teaching.
Maybe. And yet, looking back, I see those people so differently than I did at the time. Then, there were many I disliked, and a few I hated. Now, I have very high respect for 90% of them.

In my entire k-12 education, there were only two or three who really sucked. And boy, did they suck. Vile human beings.

The rest were great, but tough, which I appreciated later, and the others were good but not inspiring. But not eveyone can inspire. They did their job quite well, with dedication.

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Everard
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KidB-
One of the differences between liberalism, and libertarianism, is that the liberal wants to provide opportunity to make as many choices to as many people as possible, while the libertarian wants people to make an unrestricted choice from the options available to that person.

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KidB
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quote:
One of the differences between liberalism, and libertarianism, is that the liberal wants to provide opportunity to make as many choices to as many people as possible, while the libertarian wants people to make an unrestricted choice from the options available to that person
Very well put. [Smile]
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Daruma28
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Or not.

The liberal wants to empower the government to provide opportunities for select groups of people (whatever the rationale) by taking the means from another group of people and redistributing it to the chosen group.

Libertarians contend that the government needs to be kept from doing so because such actions always result in a government that abuses it's power at the expense of human rights for all.

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kenmeer livermaile
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If you replaced the word government with the word 'business' (free enterprise exists in both realms, after all, so is not really a meaningful distinction) in Daruma's post above, you could then reverse position of "liberal" with "libertarian" and still be pretty accurate.
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Daruma28
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Not really Ken...because every injustice perpetrated by evil corporations for the express purpose of profitting at the expense of humanity has been accomplished, aided and abetted by the very government being in bed with the business interests you speak of.

Without the means provided by an empowered, centralized government, the corporate influences that have corrupted so much of society today would not have had the means to do what they have done.

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kenmeer livermaile
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"Not really Ken...because every injustice perpetrated by evil corporations for the express purpose of profitting at the expense of humanity has been accomplished, aided and abetted by the very government being in bed with the business interests you speak of."

Are you getting too old to do vice-versas, Daruma? [Wink]

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Jesse
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edited by OrneryMod because "not on the board" means exactly that.

[ April 16, 2008, 11:03 PM: Message edited by: OrneryMod ]

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cherrypoptart
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I get a kick outta people complaining that they now have to teach to the standardized tests. We had standardized tests back when I graduated as a condition of graduation and getting to some of the next grades, and none of my teachers ever taught to the test. They just taught the same way as usual, and I passed just fine. Pleny of other students who paid any attention at all in class and showed even this least bit of diligence with homework did fine too. It's not that hard. These tests are the bare minimum. If teachers find it necessary to focus in on this material and this material only, they really are doing their students a disservice. Just teach the material. If the students aren't sniffing glue, if they aren't out partying all night, they'll do fine. And if they are using drugs and binge drinking, not paying attention, then trying to teach to the standardized tests isn't going to accomplish very much anyway.

I don't view the problems with the educational system as the fault of the teachers at all. It's the students! The worst thing is when a few bad ones succeed in spoiling it for everyone else trying to learn. These danged kids nowadays... I'm not sure exactly what their major malfunction is, but something is wrong with a lot of them. Maybe it's those plastic baby bottles, or the vaccines, hormones in the beef, or pollution, or drug use or drinking or whatever, perhaps the old "something in the water", but some of these kids just aren't right in the head. Maybe it's not even their fault. Don't get me wrong, plenty are just fine. And I don't know how to fix the ones that have something wrong with them... maybe more focus on cleaner living or something. Maybe they do need some special accommodations, like the autistic people in "The Speed of Dark" by Elizabeth Moon (yes, I'm plugging it and recommending it as a great book to read, and that proves how nice a guy I can be, sometimes...). It almost seems like a lot of kids these days have very mild, but nevertheless behavior affecting, mental disorders.

[ April 16, 2008, 10:57 PM: Message edited by: cherrypoptart ]

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KnightEnder
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Damn censors! [Mad]

Jess, whom were you talking about? Ken? (So I know who to worry about. [Smile] )

KE

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kenmeer livermaile
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Nah, not me. When I piss him off, it makes him downright alexithymiac.
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cherrypoptart
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Just thinking about how if teachers deserve respect, and if the teachers who turn out the best students perhaps have earned just a little bit more respect, then maybe, just maybe, many of these homeschooling parents who are teaching their children, and by all indications are turning out a very fine product, deserve some respect too.

Sure I can see the difference between teaching one to just a few of your own well behaved little darlings and trying to crowd control a horde of unruly howler monkeys, but the fact is that homeschooling teachers are by and large doing a very fine job as well as taking some of the burden off the public school system. But the way you sometimes hear the system talk about it, homeschoolers are taking money and the brightest kids away from the public schools. But maybe if those little darlings were in the public schools, they'd get lycanthroped into howler monkey kids just like so many of the rest of them.

Any way you slice it, parents who stay home and home school some of the finest minds of the next generation deserve a little respect too. Instead they get the back of the hand from many in government respeonsible for education.

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kenmeer livermaile
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"Just thinking about how if teachers deserve respect, and if the teachers who turn out the best students perhaps have earned just a little bit more respect, then maybe, just maybe, many of these homeschooling parents who are teaching their children, and by all indications are turning out a very fine product, deserve some respect too."

But of course. It's a bit of work. And yes, the results are often dramatically superior.

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philnotfil
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quote:
Originally posted by cherrypoptart:
I get a kick outta people complaining that they now have to teach to the standardized tests. We had standardized tests back when I graduated as a condition of graduation and getting to some of the next grades, and none of my teachers ever taught to the test. They just taught the same way as usual, and I passed just fine. Pleny of other students who paid any attention at all in class and showed even this least bit of diligence with homework did fine too. It's not that hard. These tests are the bare minimum. If teachers find it necessary to focus in on this material and this material only, they really are doing their students a disservice. Just teach the material. If the students aren't sniffing glue, if they aren't out partying all night, they'll do fine. And if they are using drugs and binge drinking, not paying attention, then trying to teach to the standardized tests isn't going to accomplish very much anyway.

I don't view the problems with the educational system as the fault of the teachers at all. It's the students! The worst thing is when a few bad ones succeed in spoiling it for everyone else trying to learn. These danged kids nowadays... I'm not sure exactly what their major malfunction is, but something is wrong with a lot of them. Maybe it's those plastic baby bottles, or the vaccines, hormones in the beef, or pollution, or drug use or drinking or whatever, perhaps the old "something in the water", but some of these kids just aren't right in the head. Maybe it's not even their fault. Don't get me wrong, plenty are just fine. And I don't know how to fix the ones that have something wrong with them... maybe more focus on cleaner living or something. Maybe they do need some special accommodations, like the autistic people in "The Speed of Dark" by Elizabeth Moon (yes, I'm plugging it and recommending it as a great book to read, and that proves how nice a guy I can be, sometimes...). It almost seems like a lot of kids these days have very mild, but nevertheless behavior affecting, mental disorders.

Back in the day, there weren't millions of dollars tied to student passing rates on those tests (and many states did not have them). Now that they have become a big money issue schools are taking them a little more seriously. The bad news is that schools are run by people and people are notorious for doing things completely backwards.

All across Florida average to failing schools have stopped worrying about 80% of the children and are only worried about the students who have a chance of raising their failing score to a passing score or who are at risk of having their barely passing score slip back to a failing score. The normal and advanced kids don't matter, the seriously defunct kids don't matter. Sure, they get to sit in class with the kids that matter, but all the instruction is geared to those kids on the border.

Researchers at Arizona State did some cool research trying to quantify what affects student learning and achievement. Over 60% of a students learning and achievement is related to factors outside of school. Another 30% is related to factors at school, but not related to any actual instruction (friends, food, clothing, that kind of stuff). NCLB doesn't care about any of that. They still punish (and sometimes reward) teachers as if they were the sole reason for the students' success or failure.

Another ridiculous thing about how testing works nowadays is that this year's fourth grade is getting compared to last year's fourth grade. WTF?!?! How is that a valid comparison?

While we're at it. In the state of Florida you can track the FCAT scores longitudinally and watch the scores go lower and lower and lower until they suddenly jump way up when it is time for the kids to graduate. I haven't looked at this year's numbers, but last year when I checked that year's seniors had about a 85% passing rate on the FCAT, but in 10th grade (when they were supposed to take it for the last time) they only had about a 30% passing rate. When they took it in 3rd grade they had about a 60% passing rate.

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drewmie
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quote:
drewmie wrote: By the way, would you support getting rid of K-12 tenure?

Everard wrote: Depends. How are you compensating me for the loss of my job security?

Personally, I'd give all K-12 teachers a 50% raise instantly with automatic annual increases for both cost-of-living and performance, but only if they're willing to get rid of tenure and union shop agreements. Such a deal would go a long way to improving K-12 education.

By the way, tenure is not for the "firing for cause" purpose you're stating. If it were so, it would apply to all teachers as part of their union contracts. Many unions in many industries have negotiated such firing requirements and restrictions, with some even considering length of employment. But they don't have tenure.

Tenure's real purpose is to preserve independence for research, publishing, and the free flow of ideas in a university setting. But some corrupt idiot snuck it into the K-12 system. It doesn't belong.

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Daruma28
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Education is the basis of our entire culture and society. Does that matter any more?

We must have a lot of private-schooled people on Ornery. Or people who hate being able to read, and add numbers, and stuff.


Oh good lord...how did this country ever manage to get founded, since compulsory public education has only been the norm for the past century or so...I mean, how did George Washington, Ben Franklin et al ever learn how to read, write and work with arithmetic, since they were so deprived of the wonders of compulsory public education... [Eek!]

I take it that not a single person bothered to click on my link I provided a few posts back.

The Underground History of American Education

John Taylor Gatto wrote this book. He was an award winning public school teacher for 30 years from New York. After trying fruitlessly for years to try and get reforms made in public schooling, the man realized it was impossible to reform the system and he quit teaching and researched why the system is the way it is, and why it can never be "fixed."

quote:
The Business of Schooling

If modern schooling has a “Fourth Purpose,” there must be an earlier three.

Traditional forms of instruction in America, even before the Revolution, had three specific purposes:

1. To make good people
2. To make good citizens
3. And to make each student find some particular talents to develop to the maximum.

The new mass schooling which came about slowly but continuously after 1890, had a different purpose, a "fourth" purpose.

The fourth purpose steadily squeezed the traditional three to the margins of schooling; in the fourth purpose, school in America became like school in Germany, a servant of corporate and political management.

We should reveal the mechanism of mind control training, habits, and attitudes.

Children were literally trained in bad habits and bad attitudes!

Teachers and principals, “scientifically”certified in teachers college practices, were made unaware of the invisible curriculum they really taught.

The secret of commerce, that kids drive purchases, meant that schools had to become psychological laboratories where training in consumerism was the central pursuit.

The Business of Schooling

Since bored people are the best consumers, school had to be a boring place, and since childish people are the easiest customers to convince, the manufacture of childishness, extended into adulthood, had to be the first priority of factory schools. Naturally, teachers and administrators weren't let in on this plan; they didn't need to be. If they didn't conform to instructions passed down from increasingly centralized school offices, they didn't last long.

In the new system, schools were gradually re-formed to meet the pressing need of big businesses to have standardized customers and employees, standardized because such people are predictable in certain crucial ways by mathematical formulae. Business (and government) can only be efficient if human beings are redesigned to meet simplified specifications. As the century wore on, school spaces themselves were opened bit by bit to commercialization.

These processes didn't advance evenly. Some localities resisted more than others, some decades were more propitious for the plan than others. Especially during and just after national emergencies like WWI, the Depression, WWII, and the Sputnik crisis, the scheme rocketed forward; in quieter moments it was becalmed or even forced to give up some ground.

But even in moments of greatest resistance, the institutions controlling the fourth purpose—great corporations, great universities, government bureaus with vast powers to reward or punish, and corporate journalism—increasingly centralized in fewer and fewer hands throughout the twentieth century, kept a steady hand on the tiller. They had ample resources to wear down and outwait the competition.

The prize was of inestimable value--control of the minds of the young.

Public schooling is not broken. It's doing exactly what intended to do...dumb down the masses to create corporate automatons and mindless consumers.
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simplybiological
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Heh... I was one of the "test classes" for the FCAT in my tenth grade year, then I actually had to take it my eleventh grade year.

You know why those scores go down down down? It's because the kids realize it doesn't count for anything so far as their grades, etc are concerned, so they don't waste their time. THEN, the year they must take it to graduate, they amp it up. Also, they have likely spent most of that year in intervention classes where they hand-hold them through all the content.

This subject is near and dear to my little heart, since week after next is TAKS testing (Texas assessment of knowledge and skills) for us. My 10th graders have to take the science, so we've been doing preparation interventions for the past 5 weeks. And yes, we have to focus on the ones that are riiiiight on the line of passing. On the upside, the ones who are already excelling do not have to suffer through interventions.

All teachers should be teaching to the set of state objectives for their course- otherwise, saying that a student "took Biology" is meaningless. If the standardized test is aligned to those objectives, then we are all in some sense teaching to the test. This is not a bad thing. I

My curriculum is tightly, tightly aligned to the TEKS, the objectives that the TAKS test is supposed to cover. Biology TEKS are freakishly vague about exactly what they mean, but that's another story.

A teacher should always know what state standards they are addressing, and they should have daily measurable objectives. I can't say, "Today I'm going to teach them about bacteria." That's not measurable, nor is it a good daily goal. I should say, "At the end of the day, my students should be able to list three things that bacteria do besides cause disease, and discuss the consequences of using antibiotics too often or improperly." My lesson or activity should address those topics, and at the end of class I can give them a short wrap-up where I can tell if they got those things.

A "good" state standardized test would address the things it says it does, and "teaching to" it shouldn't really require a major shift.

However, this ridiculously high stakes stuff where the future of your school hinges on their performance... that's no good. That's not good for LEARNING. Schools need to have accountability, but high stakes tests are not the way.

Beyond the obvious, I take issue with the fact that they no longer allow students to test in Spanish in high school. Now, if you're taking an English test, that makes sense. However, if you are taking a science test, there is no reason you shouldn't be allowed to take it in Spanish (or any other language). Some of my students do poorly on tests not because they don't know the Biology vocabulary, but because they don't know the rest. So now my test is not testing, "Do my students understand Ecology?" it's "Do my students understand Ecology AND can they read in English?" The results of those tests are not informative about Science, because there is no way to tease apart science skill and second language skills.

And I'm rambling.

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drewmie
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quote:
Viking_Longship wrote: From my experience teaching I would say that if you reduced the stress level by making it possible for teachers to actually teach and not manage three times as many students as should be in a class room it would help. 10 students should be max class size, not 30.
Actually, the critical class size is 17 for K through 3. Long-term student performance skyrockets if you keep classes in those four grades under that number. Funny enough, it doesn't make near as much difference to reduce class sizes in grades 4-12, nor to reduce class sizes in grades K-3 from 30 to 25 (for example). For some reason, that magic number of 17 in only K-3 makes a big difference.

I wouldn't mind smaller class sizes across the board, but first let's do it where it makes the biggest bang for the buck.

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