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Author Topic: Fixing education
LetterRip
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Here are some of the ideas I've had for fixing education. This is far from all ideas, but these ones fit well in a soundbite and are easy to conceptualize.

Education - start classes later in the day for better performance
Studies have found that by starting classes just a half an hour later that students greatly increase their ability to pay attention during class, and have much better scholastic performance. Also by starting and ending classes later students will have less time to 'get in trouble' while unsupervised.

Education - provide better chairs and tables to improve performance
As adults we are well aware that having hard uncomfortable and cramped chairs distracts our attention from the task at hand. It has been suggested that by changing to more comfortable chairs we could see significant improvements in students ability to focus on school, especially for those students that are easily distracted and need it most.

Education - reduce or eliminate the teaching bureaucracy
The greatest barrier to teacher effectiveness is the enormous amount of bureaucracy. Eliminate the bureaucracy and give teachers greater control over their teaching approaches in exchange for increased accountability.

Education - Motivate students by giving them some control over funds

Students should be given some decision making over funding allocation based on how well they do in school. For instance if a student is heavily into a sport such as basketball, allow the student to use part of his education funds to pay for better basketball instruction if he shows a lot of improvement in core skills like math, reading, and science.

Education - Reduce wasted time

The time of instructors, students, and parents gets wasted. Lets stop wasting everyone's time by 1) Getting rid of unneeded busywork homework 2) use technology to save instructors time correcting and reviewing homework 3) eliminate redundant testing.

[ October 29, 2010, 05:49 PM: Message edited by: LetterRip ]

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philnotfil
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quote:
Originally posted by LetterRip:
Education - start classes later in the day for better performance
Studies have found that by starting classes just a half an hour later that students greatly increase their ability to pay attention during class, and have much better scholastic performance. Also by starting and ending classes later students will have less time to 'get in trouble' while unsupervised.

A lot of school systems already do this. The two biggest obstacles are buses, buying enough buses to move all of the students is expensive, so the do elementary, then middle then high, or the other way around, and the unfortunate situation we are in where most students don't have a parent at home and are either getting themselves ready to go to school or coming home to an empty house, or both.

But yes, having students go to school at a time when they are better ready to learn would be a positive.

quote:
Education - provide better chairs and tables to improve performance
As adults we are well aware that having hard uncomfortable and cramped chairs distracts our attention from the task at hand. It has been suggested that by changing to more comfortable chairs we could see significant improvements in students ability to focus on school, especially for those students that are easily distracted and need it most.

This would be an interesting research project, but I don't see this making a big difference.

quote:
Education - reduce or eliminate the teaching bureaucracy
The greatest barrier to teacher effectiveness is the enormous amount of bureaucracy. Eliminate the bureaucracy and give teachers greater control over their teaching approaches in exchange for increased accountability.

I see this more as friction which reduces the amount of money being spent on the students. Within the classroom most teachers have an incredible amount of autonomy. Interestingly enough, increased accountability is usually accompanied by decreased autonomy.

Do you have any specific examples of bureaucracy which keeps teachers from teaching the way they want to? The things that I can think of are pretty basic aspects of institutional education or have to do with money being spent at the district level which could be spent at the school level.

One thing I would like to see is the disappearance of district offices. Keep a depository for books, furniture, and technology, but put all the rest of the district stuff in the schools. With modern technology they don't all have to be in the same building and putting them in the schools will make it harder for them to forget about the students and parents.

quote:
Education - Motivate students by giving them some control over funds

Students should be given some decision making over funding allocation based on how well they do in school. For instance if a student is heavily into a sport such as basketball, allow the student to use part of his education funds to pay for better basketball instruction if he shows a lot of improvement in core skills like math, reading, and science.

Could you expand on this? I'm not sure if this is a good idea, it seems like the students who are only coming to school to play sports aren't the ones who would get a voice in this system.

quote:
Education - Reduce wasted time

The time of instructors, students, and parents gets wasted. Lets stop wasting everyone's time by 1) Getting rid of unneeded busywork homework 2) use technology to save instructors time correcting and reviewing homework 3) eliminate redundant testing.

Define unneeded [Smile]
Technology can only grade simple assignments, and the simple completion of those assignments.
Do you have any examples of redundant testing?

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Gaoics79
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Fareed Zakaria was interviewing some CEOs yesterday asking them questions about how to go about restoring American jobs.

One CEO (can't recall which one) made a pretty good point. He said that 50 years ago the USA had one of the best education systems in the world. Not co-incidentally, it had a captive labour force to work that system, namely women. Back then you could draw from the cream of the crop of female talent and pay them next to nothing and they'd do the work, because that was really one of the few outlets for educated women.

Now we still pay teachers crap, but educated talented women can enter any field they choose. Why would a brilliant student ever choose to enter the teaching profession except out of idealism or some genuine love of teaching?

After all, teachers are paid crap, the standards are low, and they are unionized like garbage collectors and factory drones. No self-respecting professional belongs to a union.

If I could propose the end solution (without commenting on the means to achieve this end) I would suggest that the teachers' unions should be broken and teachers' salaries should be doubled.

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JWatts
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quote:
Originally posted by jasonr:
Now we still pay teachers crap, but educated talented women can enter any field they choose. Why would a brilliant student ever choose to enter the teaching profession except out of idealism or some genuine love of teaching?

What gives with this constant meme that teachers are paid like crap? It's not remotely true, but I hear it repeated all the time.

When you add up salary with generous benefits, teachers are at or above the average pay level.


Average teacher pay by type:

Chart (in the 40K's)

Average US pay: $42K

Not to say that teachers couldn't/shouldn't be paid according to their abilities, but that's a Union issue. Teachers pay level is strictly proportional to time in service and education level obtained. And clearly since the teachers control the union and put in place the current system, it's not too objectionable to the majority of teachers.


If you want to gripe about salaries look at wait staff ($2.13/hr + tips) and agriculture ($5.15/hr & no overtime). Those are crap wages.

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philnotfil
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For a job requiring a college degree, teacher pay is incredibly low.

Despite that, teacher pay usually comes in third or fourth (behind respect, parent involvement, and administration support/student discipline) when teachers are asked what they would like to see changed about their jobs.

[ November 01, 2010, 10:21 AM: Message edited by: philnotfil ]

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JWatts
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quote:
Originally posted by philnotfil:
For a job requiring a college degree, teacher pay is incredibly low.

It's completely hyperbole to call it "incredibly low."

Average earnings for the US:
Bachelor's Degree $52,200

It's somewhat lower and probably above average when you factor in teacher's average level of benefits, security and working hours.

quote:
Originally posted by philnotfil:
Despite that, teacher pay usually comes in third or fourth (behind respect, parent involvement, and administration support/student discipline) when teachers are asked what they would like to see changed about their jobs.

Which is pretty much iron clad evidence that pay is not a critical issue.

Parents using the school system as day care is far more of a critical issue than teacher pay. Parents backing their kids vs the teacher in a dispute is also a far worse issue, at least if you are worried about the state of education in the US.

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philnotfil
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48% of American teachers have a masters degree.

I agree that pay is not a critical issue for teachers who are currently in the system.

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edgmatt
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It should be pointed out that teachers are paid this much to work 9 months out of the year. So if you take the $42,000 number, divided it by 9 and multiply by 12 you get $56,000, which is above average.

No, they are not getting that much, but what they are getting for the amount of time they work is above average.

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philnotfil
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If they could get paid at the same rate over the summer. State employees were complaining about getting furloughed for a couple of days a year. Teachers get furloughed three months a year.

[edit]Teacher pay is one of the biggest obstacles to year round school (something we desperately need). As tight as school budgets are now, imagine what would happen if we had to pay all the teachers 30% more.[/edit]

The irony of teacher pay is that the worst teachers get paid the most. No matter how good or bad the teacher is, no matter how much extra time they spend preparing lessons or sponsoring clubs, they all get paid the same. From an economic perspective it makes more sense to put in the minimum amount of time.

[ November 01, 2010, 12:04 PM: Message edited by: philnotfil ]

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Gaoics79
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quote:
Despite that, teacher pay usually comes in third or fourth (behind respect, parent involvement, and administration support/student discipline) when teachers are asked what they would like to see changed about their jobs.

Which is pretty much iron clad evidence that pay is not a critical issue.

Nonsense. First off, it is irrelevant what teachers perceive to be the problem with their profession. What we care about is not what current teachers complain about, but what is deterring top-tier talent from ever considering teaching as a profession in the first place.

This goes to the next point, which is you cannot cannot separate concepts like "respect" from pay, or separate those concepts from overall quality. They are all interrelated.

Teachers get little respect because the standards to become a teacher are low, and everyone recognizes that. No one seriously compares what it takes to become a mechanical engineer or a doctor to what it takes to become a teacher. They're not in the same ballpark.

This is in turn related to low pay and lack of prestiege. Which goes again back to my point about self-respect. You can't be a self-respecting professional but be unionized like a garbage collector. The two things are incongruous. The professions like medicine and law are pretigious because workers rely on their own inherent market value and the relative rarity of their skills to secure high pay, which in turn creates an aura of prestiege around these professions. If doctors relied on unions and collective bargaining to secure their pay, then they would be no more respected than assembly workers.

If you could get into med school with the same grades required to get into teacher's college, then quality would deteriorate accordingly.

One further point on the salary issue. It's true that the average teacher salary is within the ballpark for similar professionals, but that doesn't tell the whole story. The average lawyer may not make much more than the average teacher, but everyone who goes into law school knows that with hard work, ingenuity and talent, the law profession provides enormous opportunity for profit. As a lawyer, if you have the talent, you can triple or quadruple the salary of the highest paid teacher. If you're willing to take the risk of starting your own firm, there is no limit to how much you can make. The same is true in other high-prestiege professions like law, medicine, accounting and engineering.

Teachers may average the same as others, but your talent is essentially wasted as a teacher, where the opportunity to increase your earnings is essentially nil. Teachers, like garbage collectors, are paid based on seniority, not talent. Another reason why they can never be accorded the same respect of other professions. And another reason why I will dissuade my future children from considering teaching as a career.

I am not suggesting that teacher quality is the only issue re: education quality or even the most important issue. But it is an issue.

[ November 01, 2010, 12:08 PM: Message edited by: jasonr ]

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JWatts
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jasonr, you seem to be arguing that we should attempt to improve the quality of teachers in the US and that would require higher pay.

I think that is a good point and concur that higher pay would be required. Indeed, that's a much better point than a blanket "teacher's are underpaid" statement. However, most tax payers aren't going to agree to pay teachers more, unless the teachers agree to higher standards first.

Tennessee attempted (with limited success) to provide bonuses to teachers for high performance. The teachers union fought tooth and nail against the bonuses and instead demanded that the extra money just be used to supplement existing salaries, because "teachers are underpaid".

quote:
Teachers may average the same as others, but your talent is essentially wasted as a teacher, where the opportunity to increase your earnings is essentially nil. Teachers, like garbage collectors, are paid based on seniority, not talent
This is entirely a self-inflicted injury. If any group of teachers wants to fight off the union mentality, I support them, but essentially they have to help themselves.
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G2
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quote:
Originally posted by JWatts:
[QB] Average teacher pay by type:

Chart (in the 40K's)

Average US pay: $42K

I think you're a little low.
quote:
Teachers in the Virginia Beach/Norfolk/Newport News metropolitan area brought home wages slightly above the national average in 2009, according to data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The average secondary level teacher earned $55,340, close to the national average of $55,150. The region's middle school teachers did somewhat better, earning $56,470 compared with the national average of $53,550. And the region's elementary teachers also were paid above the national average, earning $54,380 compared with a national average of $53,150.

So according to the BLS, the national average for teacher pay runs in the mid-50K's. How does that rank them?
quote:
The real median earnings of men who worked full time, year-round climbed between 2006 and 2007, from $43,460 to $45,113 (about 3.6 time minimum wage in 2006 to 3.7 time minimum wage in 2007). For women, the corresponding increase was from $33,437 to $35,102 (2.8 and 2.9 times minimum wage respectively).
That means that teachers are among he top 50% of wage earners when looking at their paychecks only, they rank above the average even for Bachelor's degree holders. Teachers are very well paid.

But that's not all we should look at, there's something called "total compensation" that tells us just how much money is spent on an employee. For teacher's (like many state employees) this can be significant:
quote:
The salary figures generally do not include the considerable amounts that are spent for a variety of employee benefits, both required and optional. These typically include professional development, health and life insurance, and retirement. Health benefits alone can be as much as 15% of salaries. California law requires each district to contribute to, among other things, the State Teachers Retirement System (STRS). The district contributes about 11.5% of the average teacher’s total compensation toward these benefits.
15% more to health care and another 11.5% to the retirement fund - how many of you get the equivalent of 11.5% of your pay in your 401k? Most people are getting a matching 3% or 6%. So take that average mid-50K salary and add on another 20-25%, that put's their total compensation well into the 60K range approaching $70K.

Then, figure in the benefit of taking 3 months vacation every summer and all the time off for holidays. How many of you get to take 12-14 weeks of vacation every year?

When you look at the total package, teachers got a pretty cushy deal.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
they rank above the average even for Bachelor's degree holders
The majority of teachers have at least a Master's degree. And they work a huge amount of uncompensated time.

Note that I'm not saying that I think the solution here is to pay teachers more. It's to get the hell off their backs and let them teach instead of trying to administrate them to death.

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G2
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quote:
Originally posted by jasonr:
It's true that the average teacher salary is within the ballpark for similar professionals, but that doesn't tell the whole story. The average lawyer may not make much more than the average teacher, but everyone who goes into law school knows that with hard work, ingenuity and talent, the law profession provides enormous opportunity for profit. As a lawyer, if you have the talent, you can triple or quadruple the salary of the highest paid teacher. If you're willing to take the risk of starting your own firm, there is no limit to how much you can make. The same is true in other high-prestiege professions like law, medicine, accounting and engineering.

The flip side of that is the risk that exists in the other professions that does not exist to the same degree in education today. Education jobs may be a little risky right now but teachers are a little more insulated, especially with tenure. If you're a teacher with tenure, it's pretty damn hard to lose your job. If you've been teaching for a long time, those newer than you are at risk before you are. These kinds of things are not as prevalent in private companies.
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G2
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
they rank above the average even for Bachelor's degree holders
The majority of teachers have at least a Master's degree. And they work a huge amount of uncompensated time.
Median income for those that hold a master's degree:

Men: $61,698
Women: $41,334
Both: $52,390

So it seems teachers rank right up there with the master's degree people.

The idea that they work "a huge amount of uncompensated time" is not really valid. Just about any salaried professional does the same. I would think, with an entire summer off and holidays off, teachers have less "uncompensated time" than the average salaried professional.

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Gaoics79
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quote:
The flip side of that is the risk that exists in the other professions that does not exist to the same degree in education today. Education jobs may be a little risky right now but teachers are a little more insulated, especially with tenure. If you're a teacher with tenure, it's pretty damn hard to lose your job. If you've been teaching for a long time, those newer than you are at risk before you are. These kinds of things are not as prevalent in private companies.
Which is why my comment that we should double teacher salaries was also accompanied with the proviso that at the same time, the union needs to be broken. Implied in that, in my view, is that we also get rid of concepts like "tenure" for elementary and high school level educators.

If teachers want to be accorded the same respect, prestiege and potential for earning that other professions have, unionism and tenure have to go.

quote:
This is entirely a self-inflicted injury. If any group of teachers wants to fight off the union mentality, I support them, but essentially they have to help themselves.
I don't think that's really fair. You can't, as a teacher, opt out of the union in most cases. Moreover, if I'm a teacher and I'm paying those union dues whether I like it or not, you're damned right I'm going to milk the system for every ounce of benefit I can. Individual teachers can't make the changes necessary. The teachers' union will never let go of its deathgrip on education willingly. It makes no difference what individual teachers think. Only the government has the power to really change the system.
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philnotfil
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quote:
Originally posted by G2:
Median income for those that hold a master's degree:

Men: $61,698
Women: $41,334
Both: $52,390


So who is right, you or JWatts?
quote:
Average earnings for the US:
Bachelor's Degree $52,200

Unless you are saying that a masters degree is only worth $190 a year?

quote:
The idea that they work "a huge amount of uncompensated time" is not really valid. Just about any salaried professional does the same. I would think, with an entire summer off and holidays off, teachers have less "uncompensated time" than the average salaried professional.
But those salaried professionals make much more than teachers. Which is kind of the whole point of the discussion.
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JWatts
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quote:
Originally posted by jasonr:
quote:
This is entirely a self-inflicted injury. If any group of teachers wants to fight off the union mentality, I support them, but essentially they have to help themselves.
I don't think that's really fair. You can't, as a teacher, opt out of the union in most cases. ... The teachers' union will never let go of its deathgrip on education willingly. It makes no difference what individual teachers think. Only the government has the power to really change the system.
I don't think it's the governments position to come in and break up the teachers' unions. Particularly since I don't get the feeling that large numbers of teachers have even tried to vote out the union.

I suspect that the union contracts are organized by area and that a given group of teachers could vote out the union that covers them. I don't know if that area would have to be state wide or if the coverage is on a smaller level. When groups of teachers are actively fighting the current setup, I'll be more than happy to lend my support.

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Gaoics79
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quote:
I don't think it's the governments position to come in and break up the teachers' unions. Particularly since I don't get the feeling that large numbers of teachers have even tried to vote out the union.
My wife works as a teacher at an adult school. She pays union dues, but gets almost no benefit from this as the government basically disenfranchised the adult school teachers years ago. She doesn't even get a health plan. I couldn't tell you what, if any, benefit she derives from being a union member. I doubt her colleagues have any more use for the union as she does.

What do you propose she do to "vote out" the union? I wasn't aware such things were even up for a "vote".

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LetterRip
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jasonr,

quote:
He said that 50 years ago the USA had one of the best education systems in the world. Not co-incidentally, it had a captive labour force to work that system, namely women. Back then you could draw from the cream of the crop of female talent and pay them next to nothing and they'd do the work, because that was really one of the few outlets for educated women.
I've made that point numerous times over my time at ornery, not exactly a novel revelation.

quote:
No self-respecting professional belongs to a union.
Professionals around the world belong in unions, it is only the US that has such an aversion to them or views them with such disrespect.

Regarding teacher pay - first realize that the inflation adjusted per student spending has doubled since 1970. So where has that gone?

a) smaller class sizes - we've nearly halved the class sizes, which means double the teachers required. However, there hasn't been any improved outcomes for students - one possible reason for this is that to double the number of teachers you have to lower your standards - so any potential benefit from class size decrease was eaten up by reduced standards.

b) bureaucratic overhead - we have increased the number of middle men at a drastic pace.

So to increase teacher pay - we could shrink class sizes and reduce beuracracy.

Another issue is that teacher pay is back heavy, and benefits heavy. The reason for this is that things were structured for teacher retention not teacher recruitment. We could restructure a reduction in benefits for increased pay.

philnotfil,

quote:
A lot of school systems already do this. The two biggest obstacles are buses, buying enough buses to move all of the students is expensive, so they do elementary, then middle then high, or the other way around,
I don't see how shifting start times x hours later for all grades would change anything here.

quote:
and the unfortunate situation we are in where most students don't have a parent at home and are either getting themselves ready to go to school or coming home to an empty house, or both.
Well this could alleviate the 'getting home to an empty house'. All I've heard from places where the time shift has happened has been happier parents, students, administrators and instructors.

quote:

This would be an interesting research project, but I don't see this making a big difference.

I suspect a huge difference for those students most easily distracted. Don't have any research offhand that sheds any light though.

quote:
Could you expand on this? I'm not sure if this is a good idea, it seems like the students who are only coming to school to play sports aren't the ones who would get a voice in this system.
Showing improvement, not absolute performance. I was thinking particularly in Alaska, a large number of the students in the Bush villages are motivated to go to school solely to play basketball.

http://alaskabushteacher.blogspot.com/2009/03/point-hope-basketball-tournament.html

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G2
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quote:
Originally posted by philnotfil:
quote:
Originally posted by G2:
Median income for those that hold a master's degree:

Men: $61,698
Women: $41,334
Both: $52,390


So who is right, you or JWatts?
quote:
Average earnings for the US:
Bachelor's Degree $52,200

Unless you are saying that a masters degree is only worth $190 a year?

J is relying on a different source so I don't think we can really compare them directly like that. I looked at wikipedia which is quoting the 2003 US Census Bureau. There, the average income for Bachelor's degree holders is $43,143 so a master's is worth about $10K a year give or take.

quote:
Originally posted by philnotfil:
quote:
The idea that they work "a huge amount of uncompensated time" is not really valid. Just about any salaried professional does the same. I would think, with an entire summer off and holidays off, teachers have less "uncompensated time" than the average salaried professional.
But those salaried professionals make much more than teachers. Which is kind of the whole point of the discussion.
The reality teachers receive equivalent pay, especially when total compensation is accounted for, which contradicts the point being made. The numbers show that teachers are right on the median for their education level when compared to other professions with similar education.
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Gaoics79
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quote:
Professionals around the world belong in unions, it is only the US that has such an aversion to them or views them with such disrespect.
Any organization that prioritizes seniority as the sole or main criterium for advancement and pay is not worthy of respect.

Unions are fine for miners in third world countries where occupational health and safety regulations and minimum wage laws are still absent.

In developed countries unions are a parasitic force.

For an educated professional to be unionized is a black mark on the profession.

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LetterRip
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jasonr,

quote:
Any organization that prioritizes seniority as the sole or main criterium for advancement and pay is not worthy of respect.
There are many aspects of unions I'm not fond of. There are many aspects of non union employment I'm not fond of also. Both are 'a mixed bag'.

quote:
Unions are fine for miners in third world countries where occupational health and safety regulations and minimum wage laws are still absent.

In developed countries unions are a parasitic force.

For an educated professional to be unionized is a black mark on the profession.

Unions address the imbalance of power that is inherent in a employer, employee negotiation. They have in some cases used that power abusively. Just as businesses have used their power abusively.

If we could magically move to a world where businesses didn't try and screw over employees then there wouldn't be any point to unions.

Just because we have adequate regulation that addresses some of the worst excesses of historical business practice, doesn't mean that businesses don't engage in abusive practices towards employees.

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vegimo
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Another (not so original) idea:

Year-round school

Keep the same number of days, just position them differently. Nine weeks in session out of every 13, with 3 weeks off between sessions and 1 week off at some time in the middle of each session (or 2 - and - 2).

One of the things this would help to change is the amount of time that teachers currently spend re-educating the cherubs after a 2 1/2 month break every year.

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Gaoics79
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quote:
Unions address the imbalance of power that is inherent in a employer, employee negotiation. They have in some cases used that power abusively. Just as businesses have used their power abusively.

If we could magically move to a world where businesses didn't try and screw over employees then there wouldn't be any point to unions.

Just because we have adequate regulation that addresses some of the worst excesses of historical business practice, doesn't mean that businesses don't engage in abusive practices towards employees.

I think most of the benefit of unionization came about with respect to occupational health and safety. The traditional exploitation of workers arose in the context of industries like manufacturing and mining where workers were being injured or killed on the job.

Today most jurisdictions in the 1st world have clear occupational health and safety rules legislated by government. Unions in those industries are an anachronism.

In the context of white collar jobs like teachers or in the context of retail clerks and other sedentary type jobs, unionization is, a priori, a bad thing. In such instances, unions kille jobs, stifle efficiency, and ruin industries. I see almost no redeeming value to a union in such areas, and in the public sector unions are a scourge on developed societies.

Unions have pros and cons, but in the 1st world and particularly in professions like teaching, the pros are vastly outweighed by the cons.

quote:
There are many aspects of unions I'm not fond of. There are many aspects of non union employment I'm not fond of also. Both are 'a mixed bag'.
In this case, the seniority over competance problem is the biggest marble in the bag. In industries like mining where there is little to distinguish one employee from another, seniority makes sense as a primary criterium for salary and advancement. In a profession like teaching, seniority over competance is toxic to the public standing of the profession, and toxic to employee morale. Where the crap teacher with 7 years of experience makes more money and has more benefits than the brilliant teacher of 5 years of experience, then the system is bankrupt from the get-go. If you become a teacher, the bottom line is it makes no difference how good you are. Your personal talent means nothing. The only way to make more money is to gain seniority. That's just tragic.
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JWatts
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quote:
Originally posted by jasonr:
What do you propose she do to "vote out" the union? I wasn't aware such things were even up for a "vote".

Surely that information was in the packet the union sent to your wife. [Wink]

De-unionizing, in theory, is very simple process, but the various national unions usually pour in the outside resources to prevent it from happening at the local level.

quote:

Employment Labor Law
How do you de-unionize a workplace?
You and your co-workers in your bargaining unit must petition the National Labor Relations Board to conduct a de-certification election. Each worker on an individual basis must also resign in writing.

Link

The last part is a little vague, but according to this link the de-unionize process is identical to the unionize process.

So 30% of members must petition to initiate a vote to de-unionize and then 50% must vote to de-unionize.


I'm sure the details vary from state to state.

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LetterRip
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jasonr,

quote:
n the context of white collar jobs like teachers or in the context of retail clerks and other sedentary type jobs, unionization is, a priori, a bad thing. In such instances, unions kille jobs, stifle efficiency, and ruin industries. I see almost no redeeming value to a union in such areas, and in the public sector unions are a scourge on developed societies.
Actually programmers and IT workers in the US are getting screwed over right now and likely would benefit from unionization. Health workers have also benefited from unionization. I think unions would benefit from reform of practices.

I'm familiar with efficiency of union and non union shops. In my experience similar levels of incompetence and inefficiency exist, and you are about equally likely to have an incompetent boss.

quote:
Unions have pros and cons, but in the 1st world and particularly in professions like teaching, the pros are vastly outweighed by the cons.
Given your argument I think you swapped the pro and con in your sentence.

quote:
In this case, the seniority over competance problem is the biggest marble in the bag.
The issue is that it isn't 'strict meritorcracy vs seniority' it is 'cronyism, favoritism, and some merit vs seniority'.

Seniority is no more toxic, than any other non merit based system. Being the best at your job is much less likely to get you a raise or promotion than kissing the right butts in most businesses.

I agree that seniority is crap, but equally crap methods exist outside of unions.

[ November 01, 2010, 04:58 PM: Message edited by: LetterRip ]

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philnotfil
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quote:
Originally posted by jasonr:
Any organization that prioritizes seniority as the sole or main criterium for advancement and pay is not worthy of respect.

Seniority of the teacher is one of the best teacher quality predictors of student success that we have.
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JWatts
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quote:
Originally posted by philnotfil:
quote:
Originally posted by jasonr:
Any organization that prioritizes seniority as the sole or main criterium for advancement and pay is not worthy of respect.

Seniority of the teacher is one of the best teacher quality predictors of student success that we have.
Do you have a source for that?
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philnotfil
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Here are a couple (pdfs):
The Impact of Individual Teachers on Student Achievement:
Evidence from Panel Data

quote:
I find that teaching experience significantly raises student test scores in
reading subject areas. Reading test scores differ by approximately .20 standard deviations
on average between beginning teachers and teachers with ten or more years of experience.

quote:
Students’ test scores are not significantly higher on average with teachers who have masters degrees, and on Reading Comprehension tests they are significantly lower by about .02 standard deviations
Experimental Estimates of Education Production Functions
quote:
Teacher education—as proxied by a dummy indicating whether the teacher has a master’s degree—does not have a systematic effect. Hardly any of the teachers are male, so the gender results are not very meaningful. Teacher experience has a small, positive effect.
CAN TEACHER QUALITY BE EFFECTIVELY ASSESSED? NATIONAL
BOARD CERTIFICATION AS A SIGNAL OF EFFECTIVE TEACHING


quote:
Variables identifying years of teaching experience and having a full teaching license from the state (as opposed to a provisional or temporary license, or one that only meets the state’s initial teaching license requirements) are generally positive and significant.
quote:
For example, in some model specifications we find that a teacher’s having an advanced degree is detrimental to student achievement and that students benefit from being in either larger classes or larger schools.
Teacher characteristics and student achievement:
evidence from teacher surveys

quote:
When lagged peer test scores are included in the model (columns (3) and (6)), teacher experience is positively associated with classroom effectiveness, with an effect of 0.02 standard deviations for each year of experience. For mathematics, the returns to experience are decreasing, as the experience squared term is negative and significant. The overall effect13 of a one-standard deviation increase in teacher experience (roughly nine years) corresponds with an increase in classroom effectiveness of 13 percentage points in mathematics and 8 percentage points in reading.

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JWatts
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Actually the first link provides mixed evidence with regard to the original contention that "Seniority of the teacher is one of the best teacher quality predictors of student success that we have."

Look at the Math Computation graph. Looking at that data it appears that young teachers should be teaching math and after 6 years they should be retired to the reading department.


quote:
A one standard
deviation increase in teacher quality raises test scores by approximately .20 standard deviations
in reading and .24 standard deviations in math on nationally standardized distributions
of achievement. I find that teaching experience significantly raises student test scores in
reading subject areas. Reading test scores differ by approximately .20 standard deviations
on average between beginning teachers and teachers with ten or more years of experience

Interestingly enough, this seems to indicate that increasing teacher quality does little to increase teaching effectiveness.
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philnotfil
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Thank you for actually reading them [Smile]

quote:
Originally posted by JWatts:
Interestingly enough, this seems to indicate that increasing teacher quality does little to increase teaching effectiveness. [/QB]

Which is very true. 60-75% of the variation in student achievement is related to factors outside of school. Only 3-10% of the variation in student achievement is related to identifiable characteristics of the teacher. Being the best predictor of student achievement among teacher characteristics is kind of like winning the special olympics (or an argument on the internet). Which is why doing anything related to the actual teachers is very low on my list of things to do when I become Secretary of Education.

[ November 01, 2010, 07:53 PM: Message edited by: philnotfil ]

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LetterRip
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philnotfil,

quote:
Which is very true. 60-75% of the variation in student achievement is related to factors outside of school. Only 3-10% of the variation in student achievement is related to the teacher.
Actually that is incorrect. The actual correct formulation is that 'for typical students and teachers, and schools the variation in student achievement correlated to teacher and school attributes is between 40 and 35%'.

You could take that same student with same socioeconomic background and have the outcome almost entirely dependent on teacher quality.

The teacher and school environment impact could be multiple standard deviations of positive or negative impact but the average is what that number is talking about.

Most parents, students, and teachers don't care too much about outcomes (it isn't that they 'don't care at all' but the marginal caring is not great).

Some parents care enormously
Some students care enormously
Some teachers care enormously

Any one of the three can move a student from mediocre to extraordinary. Of course other factors (personal resources in terms of knowledge, abilties, or seeking out resources) can reduce the impact of 'caring'.

Similarly an actively hostile parent, student or teacher can result in significantly below average performance.

Since the majority of parents, students, and teachers are average - a slight variation in one factor such as a 'good teacher' might have little or no impact.

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LetterRip
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A good analogy might be a chemical reactions.

High motivation by parents, teachers or students can act as a catalyst, but slight differences tend to only act as a shift in reagent ratios.

Some things can also act to 'posion' the reaction (organic factors such as brain damage).

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philnotfil
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quote:
Originally posted by LetterRip:
[QB] philnotfil,

quote:
Which is very true. 60-75% of the variation in student achievement is related to factors outside of school. Only 3-10% of the variation in student achievement is related to the teacher.
Actually that is incorrect. The actual correct formulation is that 'for typical students and teachers, and schools the variation in student achievement correlated to teacher and school attributes is between 40 and 35%'.
The 60-75% number comes from analysis of NAEP data. What does the 40-35% number come from?
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LetterRip
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100-60 = 40
100-75 = 25

So should have said 40 to 25%

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philnotfil
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Ah, now I see. The 60-75% outside of school factors and the 3-10% teacher factors are not the entirety of the factors (and are arrived at in different studies). A large part of the remnant is peer effects and most of the rest after that is school related factors outside the classroom.
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Star Pilot 111
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quote jasonr
I see almost no redeeming value to a union in such areas, and in the public sector unions are a scourge on developed societies.
__________________________________________________________

What's your problem ?
Nothing is perfect especially employers who continually screw their employees. Nothing is perfect. If businesses were left to self regulate we would still have 4 year olds working for pennies an hour. The banks and brokers were left to self regulate and we all know what happened. The employee needs some kind of advocate. Just because you don't like unions doesn't mean they're not needed in some cases. The real problems are the corporate lawyers who find loop holes so some corporations can manipulate their help. In the public sector the real scourge on developed societies are those lawyers.

Also if you've never been a teacher you don't have a clue what you're talking about. [Big Grin]
Try to walk in their shoes if you can. I'm of the feeling your feet are way too small.

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philnotfil
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I thought I had replied to these, but apparently I hadn't.
quote:
Originally posted by LetterRip:

philnotfil,

quote:
A lot of school systems already do this. The two biggest obstacles are buses, buying enough buses to move all of the students is expensive, so they do elementary, then middle then high, or the other way around,
I don't see how shifting start times x hours later for all grades would change anything here.
I don't either, but this is what the schools usually bring up. A part of it is inertia, a part of it is that from the school's perspective it doesn't really change the problem below.

quote:
and the unfortunate situation we are in where most students don't have a parent at home and are either getting themselves ready to go to school or coming home to an empty house, or both.
Well this could alleviate the 'getting home to an empty house'. All I've heard from places where the time shift has happened has been happier parents, students, administrators and instructors.[/quote]
I agree that starting school later in the day is better for the students. From the parent's perspective it doesn't change how long their kids are unsupervised, just when. From the school's perspective it takes away time from after school activities, the parents still get off of work at the same time.

quote:

This would be an interesting research project, but I don't see this making a big difference.

I suspect a huge difference for those students most easily distracted. Don't have any research offhand that sheds any light though.[/quote] My experience has been that the distracted students are distracted by external stimuli, not by how comfortable, or uncomfortable, their seats where. The ones who need to stay busy are just fine as long as they have something interesting to do. The ones who don't care seem to have no problems sleeping. But it would be interesting to get some actual facts on. Let's write a grant [Smile]

quote:
Could you expand on this? I'm not sure if this is a good idea, it seems like the students who are only coming to school to play sports aren't the ones who would get a voice in this system.
Showing improvement, not absolute performance. I was thinking particularly in Alaska, a large number of the students in the Bush villages are motivated to go to school solely to play basketball.
[/QUOTE]
My kneejerk reaction is NO:) My second reaction is still no, but without the caps. In an institutional setting, letting the students decide where the money is to be spent will leave you without running water or working HVAC. Giving them enough control to be meaningful means you will have budget problems (as if you didn't already). Giving them little enough control that you don't have budget problems means that it isn't meaningful enough to matter to them.

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LetterRip
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philnotfil,

quote:

I agree that starting school later in the day is better for the students. From the parent's perspective it doesn't change how long their kids are unsupervised, just when.

What happens is that children sleep in, getting the sleep that they need. Also the seeking of mischief to alleviate boredom is not something that happens in the morning. It has a huge impact on behaviour. Also kids don't really visit each other in the morning (there are a number of things that affect this dynamic).

quote:
From the school's perspective it takes away time from after school activities, the parents still get off of work at the same time.
With later start, students can do extra cirriculars before hand if they want. (Many schools have band and swimming practice before the start of school already).

quote:
My experience has been that the distracted students are distracted by external stimuli, not by how comfortable, or uncomfortable, their seats where.
Physical discomfort heightens our reaction to stimuli. Those external stimuli would be less distracting if there is less discomfort. (This is like high heat lowers the anger threshold).

Also anything that your brain is actively suppressing lowers your cognitive ability, the more noxious the stimulus the greater the cognitive load to suppress it.

Have you ever compared yourself reading in an uncomfortable chair versus a comfortable chair? In the uncomfortable chair you will

1) squirm around a lot as your body trys to find a comfortable position

2) pause much more frequently

3) will retain less of what you've read


quote:
The ones who need to stay busy are just fine as long as they have something interesting to do. The ones who don't care seem to have no problems sleeping.
The sleeping is pretty much entirely related to not getting enough sleep the night before. Most teens are chronically sleep deprived. That is one of the major benefits of delaying start times. (Sleep physiology and sociology set the time to fall asleep at about the same time regardless of what time school starts, but with a later start, the kids sleep the extra time and get the sleep they need).

quote:
My kneejerk reaction is NO:) My second reaction is still no, but without the caps. In an institutional setting, letting the students decide where the money is to be spent will leave you without running water or working HVAC. Giving them enough control to be meaningful means you will have budget problems (as if you didn't already). Giving them little enough control that you don't have budget problems means that it isn't meaningful enough to matter to them.
So do you oppose giving children an allowance as well, since the obvious implication is that you'd have to let them decide on paying all bills, and you and your family would lose your home as they decided to spend the rent money on junk food and fair rides?

Or perhaps you realize that even a modest amount of decision over spending power can have work as a strong motivator for your kids, even thought that modest control has almost zero impact on the family finances.

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