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Author Topic: Fixable Frustrations
Richard Dey
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Now Boston drivers are worse than drivers in Mexico City, Manila, and Marseilles; but I would argue that nothing can be done about deliberate indifference and intentional stupidity. On the other hand, what annoys you in the public realm that, perhaps ..., could be fixed (i.e., with enough cash thrown at it, by just bombing it, or, say, by requiring some educational level in licensure ... or something like that ...?).

I'll give an example ...

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kenmeer livermaile
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"nothing can be done about deliberate indifference and intentional stupidity"

How stupidly indifferent of you to say that. Of course something can be done about it. But it won't work... [Wink]

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drewmie
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Social Security

Create mandatory private accounts (basically a mandatory 401k) where you must invest the minimum contribution in relatively conservative things. Upon retirement, the government GUARANTEES (much like your bank deposits) the greater of:

(A) the current value of your mandatory 401k account,

OR

(B) the total of your mandatory 401k contributions, NO MATTER WHAT happened to the investment, plus a small return,

OR

(C) whatever the old Social Security program would have been paid out to you if the mandatory 401k system had never replaced the old system, UNLESS you never paid taxes under the old system (in which case you would get the maximum of A or B).

Require this system for ALL people, since everyone is guaranteed the "promised" Social Security return. Use up the trust fund for the transition, and combine the currently separated Social Security taxes into the general taxes and budget.

Eventually, government Social Security payouts WON'T EXIST and the choice will just be between A and B, except in those situations where the stocks tanked. Wealth and ownership would be better spread out over society (but without the negative effects of government wealth redistribution), supporting a stronger middle class and thereby supporting democracy itself. The economy would be far more stable, savings would increase, debt would decrease, etc, etc.

The only possible downside is in the transition, which is merely a choice between chugging a whole glass of nasty medicine once, versus having to take regular sips of an unending supply of the nasty stuff forever.

And of course, the accounts would be transferrable on death, to be used just as if the person had retired (max of "A" or "B"), helping family survivors among even the poorest workers.

It would be so simple. Too bad it won't happen. (sigh)

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Richard Dey
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Real Estate Agents who don't know house styles and blatantly misrepresent their products because they obviously have no interest in 'houses' and only interest in 'money'. Examples:

"Garrison Colonial", dated 1962.

"Real Federal Colonial", or what did the United Colonies really effect ... if anything ... [Mad] ?
A house labeled "French Tudor". Now I ask ... [Confused]

There are thousands of real Federal houses on the Yankee coast -- and many more imitations, but here's a little classic:

A house in Dedham marked "Federal", quite obviously late Georgian in style, dated 1802 and therefore Georgian-style Federal, in which both George Washington and Abraham Lincoln slept. Well, George was dead at least two years by the time this cellar was built, so I'd call that [FootInMouth] disease. That, yet, from The Boston Globe Magazine 'Special Features' section, not from a 'real' ad!

A "New Colonial Manse" for sale, Dallas area, that has never had a previous occupant, let alone a minister.

"Greek Revival with Egyptian Columns!" perfect for Cleopatra! The house was obviously a one-off Italianate.

A "Double 3 Decker, $990,000. Flower Boxes" (i.e., 1 porch), "perfect for B&B". In Dorchester ... [Roll Eyes] ? How about Watts or a cozy B&B in Jersey City? I did wonder if the flower boxes came "free" [Wink] !

"Colonial Manor House". Hey! The United Netherlands had manors in Rensselaerswyck, et al., in the colonial era, but never Illinois!

"62-room Tudor Mansion" blatantly Queen Ann Revival.

"Georgian House with Garage", built 1946. Are we talking George VI [Big Grin] ? and, from the very same agency in Bristol UK ...: "Elizabethan House, Pool, View", 1950s. I don't think that's Elizabeth the First and a manorage that anybody's going to be buying!

"Converted Manor Stables Close to Transit". I love that one. The 1927 house to which the 'stables' belonged is still standing next to it, and there are 5 paved drives to a 5-car garage in the same Georgianesque style, sharing all trim right down to clover holes in the shutters!

"Rebuilt Ranch with Richardson Porch" [Confused] again. Anything made of 'stone' or 'apparent stone' is labeled Richardson in the East or Sullivan in the Midwest, or Frank Lloyd Wright in the West these days!

"Pembroke. Ocean View." There's only one view of any ocean from Halifax, and that's sitting atop the meeting house steeple with an umbrella and a telescope looking completely over another town.

"Falmouth! 32-room Queen Ann mansion. $3,850,000." I just happened to recognize this house. It is not a 'mansion', it was never winterized, it's a Shingle Style summer house with gigantic rooms rambling slipshod along the rocks, and it got ruined when some dingbat had it painted. I will never sell for $3,850,000 when you have the equivalent of half a dozen houses to reshingle -- then wait 35 years for them to weather!

"Danvers. Haunted House with Friendly Ghosts". How can one have a 'haunted house' with no cellar and no attic? But then, I suppose one could say, Danvers itself is haunted -- by high taxes.

A Reality Bluebook with 29 tables, hundreds of pages on Financing, and not one doodle of a house 'type'.

Even Caldwell Banker can be duped. Here's one in reverse! A mid-Georgian brickender (~1740-1750), walk-in restored being sold for death taxes, is listed as "quaint colonial" and listed without the premium anyone hunting for a real colonial with 12/12 original casements and original shutters would be happy to pay! I quickly called a young couple who saved themselves at least $150,000, which they were offered they day they signed papers, and half again that in hot market! Not that's match-making!

How much money are agents saving their customers by abbreviating Richardsonesque to Richardson? or Neo-Romanesque to Romanesque? How much does it cost to add 'style of' or '-style' to an ad? And when will they comprehend that we haven't been a 'colony' since The Declaration of Independence and don't intend to be?

I would oblige every real-estate agent to take a bloody serious course in historical architecture before they were even allowed to show a house, and if they misrepresented it to pay their prospective clients for the time they've lost looking at a Pseudo-Colonial Ranch.

Endlessly confusing gambrel and hip roofs ... why? because a gambrel is a type of hip? They haven't a clue.

"Beautiful carved moulding" (sic), with a photograph of machined yellow pine ball-top which appears in at least 25,000,000 US homes. There are people, after all, who think they're getting royalty because they've got "crown molding" [Wink] .

Every single house on the following page, a reference from Wikipedia yet, is wrong; two of them are home-grown workin'-man houses, and one of them is up-your-nose Italianate! http://www.oldhouses.com/cf/archivelist.cfm?q_styleid=18&searchname=Georgian%20Colonial%20Style

It is actually difficult to find an honest house description with any agent these days except the very oldest names in the business. Eventually the fakes get weeded out, I guess.

Does it matter? Sure. It screws up prices. Real colonials, real federal-era houses, have a premium on them -- and special responsibilities. The irony around here is that "Federal" (which I've seen applied to brand new houses!!!) has a premium over "Colonial" even when they date before the Revolution!

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Richard Dey
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I like Drewmie's SS suggestion.
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Richard Dey
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This one from back stage, a law to read:

Employees of the Registry of Motor Vehicles shall have a valid driver's license which has never been revoked; and, shall it be revoked, he or she shall be fired without benefits.

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drewmie
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K-12 PUBLIC EDUCATION.

PURPOSE: It's about the kids, stupid. Not creating teaching jobs (especially for crappy teachers).

PROPOSAL: A federal subsidy of K-12 school teacher salaries, offering an additional 25% over the state's current teacher salaries. To qualify for the money, the states would be required to:

(1) Keep current teacher salaries at or greater than current levels, plus inflation.

AND

(2) pass state legislation abolishing all contractual, tenure, and union agreements K-12. The teachers must be "at will" employees, able to be fired, laid off, replaced, and transferred without cause or limitation.

States who refuse to pass the legislation are not punished. They simply don't "opt in" to the program, and don't get the federal funds. Teachers with agreements which cannot be legally voided will not be eligible for the federal increase unless they willingly opt out of such agreement.

This doesn't impose federal standards or tell states how to teach, since states should freely be "test tubes for democracy" and learning from one another. It merely incentivizes a reasonable framework for (1) making the students the priority; and (2) getting, keeping, and rewarding quality teachers.

[ September 18, 2006, 07:59 PM: Message edited by: drewmie ]

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Everard
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Hrm. You'd lose a LOT of teachers with that proposal, drewmie. And, frankly, thats probably a proposal i'd be willing to fight over. And law that bans union agreements... the only word I can find thats appropriate is evil. Union agreements are what keep positions, especially highly undervalued positions, liveable. There's a LOT in my union contract with the new school that would simply not be there had the union not negotiated the contract, and that makes the teaching job workable for me, as a human being.

The situation for workers prior to unions was downright intolerable. There's no reason to expect that your law wouldn't make conditions intolerable for teachers.

If you included that there must be a 200% hike in pay for teachers, then we can start talking. But teachers are WAY underpaid for the job that we do, for us to be willign to sacrifice our union contracts in order to satisfy the misguided belief that unions hinder education, when its really the stupid political processes that are the biggest problem.

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Richard Dey
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Drewmie:

I do not disagree that current K-12 teachers are grossly overpaid, but one cannot ban unions in public schools. That's how incompetent teachers have the public by the ballocks.

The teachers must be "at will" employees, able to be fired, laid off, replaced, and transferred without cause or limitation. That would mean that teachers would be female or gay -- which is exactly what we have the most of! I even agree with PaH on the issue of not having enough male teachers in the schools -- and far-too-high a ratio of female teachers to male students.

There is one solution to the public-school crisis and that is private schooling, whether it be traditional boarding schools, home school, religious schooling, or what I call webucation, approved programs on the net. These have already eliminated the need for public schools, cost 1/3-1/4 what public-schooling costs, and would allow teachers to go out in the real world and find out why their educational experimentatios on our children didn't work.

At some critical mass, we could brand public education what it is: child molestation, and sell all school structures to alleviate the housing crisis.

I can see it now! "Colonial Condominiums in Academic Setting. Nurse on Duty! Perfect for the Elderly and Former Teachers!"

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Clark
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Some K-12 teachers are grossly overpaid!!!

I'll draw your attention to Mr. Tapia, my 8th and 9th grade Spanish teacher. A typical week in his class would go like this:
Monday: Watch "Fivel Goes West" in Spanish.
Tuesday: Finish "Fivel Goes West"
Wednesday: Start "Escape to Witch Mountain" in Spanish
Thursday: Finish "Witch Mountain"
Friday: About 20 minutes of Spanish instruction, followed by a weird karate video.

Mr. Tapia made how much money for this per year? Anything over minimum wage would be more than he deserved. (Yet he teaches at the school to this day.) There are some grossly overpaid teachers.

That said, I believe that the vast majority of teachers are underpaid.

The purpose of a teacher is to teach students. So why not make their pay and employment dependent on how effective they are as a teacher, rather than on how many years they have taught and what sort of degrees they have?

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LetterRip
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Regarding Drewmies investment/SS proposal - a significant reason the stock market has done well over the last 40-50 years has been constant investment by pension funds and retirement accounts coupled with a low number of retirees removing those funds from the market. Once the baby boomers retire instead of a garunteed source for annual inflows of hundereds of billions to the market, that much (or more) is drawn out how do you think that will impact the market? We are talking about the reversal of something that would inexorably drive the market upward independent of economic conditions, to something that should constantly drive the market down regardless of economic conditions.

(US pension fund assets are around 7 or 8 trillion + 401ks about 1.6 trillion - US stock market is about $15 trillion according to fast company. While all of the US pensions plus 401k assets are not in the US stock market a huge chunk of it is... and what percentage of that is boomers pensions and 401ks? I suspect half or more.)

Also see this info on pensions...

http://money.cnn.com/2006/01/13/news/economy/pension_fortune/index.htm

LetterRip

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drewmie
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quote:
Everard wrote: Union agreements are what keep positions, especially highly undervalued positions, liveable.
I absolutely agree. Which is precisely why the only alternative is to make them well-paying jobs.
quote:
The situation for workers prior to unions was downright intolerable. There's no reason to expect that your law wouldn't make conditions intolerable for teachers.
Oh, yes there is. There is a HUGE difference between public and private sectors when it comes to how unions work. In the private sector, unions should NEVER be "banned," since this would lead to the kind of exploitation which used to be far too common.

Public sector unions are a completely different story. Yes, they serve to protect the jobs of civil servants. But why? The purpose of a public sector organization is NOT to maximize profits. As such, they have few of the exploitation incentives that private companies do.

The purpose of unions within the public sector consequently becomes (1) to protect and maximize wages and benefits, (2) to protect job security, and (3) to fight changes in job duties that do not help the employee.

If we really care about our kids' education, the first is reasonable, the second is debateable, and the third is downright useless.
quote:
If you included that there must be a 200% hike in pay for teachers, then we can start talking. But teachers are WAY underpaid for the job that we do, for us to be willign to sacrifice our union contracts in order to satisfy the misguided belief that unions hinder education, when its really the stupid political processes that are the biggest problem.
Nice try, but you've been drinking the Kool-Aid. Come on, Ev. I'm sure you must know better than this. I gave a perfect example right over here. And it's a story I've seen far more than once, and in more than one state.

P.S.- Ev, do you honestly support TENURE in K-12 education?

[ September 19, 2006, 12:31 PM: Message edited by: drewmie ]

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Richard Dey
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Drewmie:

Yes, I remember reading your comments about Chatanooga; my contention would have been that eliminating all parents from the equation, and turning it over to professional educators is the only way around the problem.

But, what is a professional educator? It's somebody who knows his subject -- and who can apply his subject.

The fact that somebody has to belong to a union to keep his job is a clear indication to me that, while he may or may not know his subject, he cannot apply it -- and that not merely because he isn't obliged to apply it but for the fact that he is not applying it.

Now, does the public sector have a motivation to exploit teachers? None. They're objections to the teachers' unions are that the teachers are not delivering the goods. The teachers have every right to unionize -- and the public has every right to fight that unionization.

Teachers are not cops, firefighters, or sewermen, with whom the public is willing to cut a deal for 366-day nonstop service. The public doesn't need that kind of teacher ... and those who want that kind of service have to be willing to pay for private education. Unionized public education merely removes that option from the public arena; it is a detraction and a distraction from the primary purpose of educating children.

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Richard Dey
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Here are some of the simple solutions public education -- and the means of eradicating it:

Peter Drucker at Forbes was promoting adult webucation way back in 2000:

www.forbes.com/forbes/2000/0515/6511092a.html

Education is already grabbing a major chunk of America’s gross national product. I believe that the U.S. now spends around $1 trillion on education and training. This number will increase rapidly, but the growth won’t be in traditional schools, which currently take about 10% of the GNP (kindergarten through high school, 6%; colleges and universities, 4%).

The big growth will be in continuing adult education. Online delivery is the trigger for this growth, but the demand for lifetime education stems from profound changes in society. In simplest terms, people who are already highly educated and high achievers increasingly sense that they are not keeping up. They’ve come back to school because they want and need new ways of looking at things outside of their competencies. They want to learn to see things whole. Many of them are there to reflect on their experiences, to see them in a broader perspective. They need this perspective to cope with today’s bewildering technological and economic changes.The market for continuing education is already much bigger than most people realize. A good guess is that it already accounts for 6% of GNP in the U.S. and is rapidly getting there in other developed countries. It is going to get a lot higher.

Why this explosion of demand? We live in an economy where knowledge, not buildings and machinery, is the chief resource and where knowledge-workers make up the biggest part of the work force. Until well into the 20th century, most workers were manual workers. Today in the U.S., only about 20% do manual work. Of the remainder, nearly half, 40% of our total work force, are knowledge-workers. Again, the proportions are roughly similar for other developed countries. Workers have always had to gain skills, but knowledge is different from skill. Skills change very slowly. My Dutch ancestors- drucker means "printer" in Dutch- ran a print shop in Amsterdam from 1517 until around 1730. In all those centuries none of them had to learn a new skill. It was the same in most industries. In dress-making there hasn’t been a new skill required since a Hungarian invented the buttonhole in the 11th century.

For most of human history a skilled worker had learned what he needed to learn by the time his apprenticeship was finished at 18 or 19. Not so with the modern knowledge-worker. Physicians, medical technicians in the pathology lab, computer-repair people, lawyers and human resource managers can scarcely keep up with developments in their fields. This is why so many professional associations put continuing education among their highest priorities.

Keeping up with knowledge and seeing the world whole mattered less in the days of lifetime employment. When young people took a job at Metropolitan Life or the telephone company or General Motors or Royal Dutch / Shell or Mitsubishi, they often expected to remain there until retirement.

As giant companies spin off manufacturing operations in favor of outsourcing, job turnover mounts. A young person entering the work force in 2000, with a possible working life of 50 years, has little expectation and almost no chance of working for the same company even a decade hence. In this world people must take responsibility for their own futures. They cannot simply count on ascending a career ladder.

A great thing about knowledge is that it is mobile and transferable. It belongs to you, not to your employer or the state. And it is highly marketable today.

With a potential market for continuing adult education thus embracing at least 40% of the typical developed-country’s work force, conventional institutions no longer suffice. They are too expensive and insufficiently accessible in a physical sense. In southern California, where I teach, the highways are clogged. People who have families and are already working a full day can ill afford the commuting time to get to a traditional school. They need accessible and flexible ways of learning.
Already colleges and universities are putting some of their best teachers and their best sources on the Internet. I myself just produced ten teaching programs to be marketed on the web. Students can access this sort of material from their homes at their own convenience.

People in the developing countries will be able to use the Internet to access the developed-world’s best brains and valuable data, without the expense of building and staffing great universities. Bright and ambitious young men and women of the emerging-market countries will get first-class educations without leaving home—thereby addressing the brain-drain problem that has helped to widen the gap between rich and poor nations.

Online teaching, however, is more than just time-efficient and cost-efficient. It is more flexible than the classroom in that the student not getting the point right away can replay the material. The interactivity of online education, its facility for blending graphics and pictures with the spoken word, give it an advantage over the typical classroom. With the interactivity of the Internet, we get the equivalent of a one-to-one teacher-student ratio.

Judging by historical experience, the new online continuing education of the already well-educated will not replace traditional education. New channels of distribution are typically additions and complements rather than replacements. Television, for example, did not kill radio or magazines or books. The new medium, TV, walked off with much of the growth, but the other media continued to thrive and grow, too.

Online continuing education is creating a new and distinct educational realm, and it is the future of education. There is a global market here that is potentially worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

But today webucation is replacing private-school education as an affordable alterntive to our declining public schools. Today it is the primary means of home schooling, and extremely popular in Europe and in rural areas of the former Soviet Union. Webucatio is not only saving billions in tax dollars, it is providing a better education than public schools.

_____________________

Problem solved. Dump public education. Tell the teachers they're needed on the competitive market.

http://www.webucation.org/

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Colin JM0397
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I'd love to get hold of one of them beautiful French Tutors.
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drewmie
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quote:
Richard Dey wrote: Yes, I remember reading your comments about Chatanooga; my contention would have been that eliminating all parents from the equation, and turning it over to professional educators is the only way around the problem.
Richard, this has got to be the most blindly ideological thing you've ever said, since the one factor that most consistently determines whether or not kids are well educated is PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT. To pretend "eliminating all parents from the equation" is a better way -- even when all the data disputes you -- is just silly. Many things are not cut and dry in education. But this aspect is. Am I reading you wrong? If I am, sorry, and please clarify.
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hobsen
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A lot of upper class American families still send their children to boarding schools for their education, in the English manner, because they think family centered child rearing is inferior. That also frees the parents to devote more time to professional and social responsibilities.

For those who send their children to public schools, I quite agree parental involvement is essential, for public schools are not designed to replace families altogether. But both systems can produce very fine adults.

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drewmie
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Naturally, completely different times, cultures, and nations makes a big difference on such things. But for modern American K thru 12 education, it's one of the few dependable and consistent truths that parental involvement makes a bigger difference than any other factor.
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Everard
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"Oh, yes there is."

I fundamentally disagree.

Teaching is not a valued job in this country. If you don't agree with me, then I don't think its worth discussing this any further, so I'll assume you agree with that statement for the time being. If the position isn't valued by the community, then the community isn't going to want to pay public servants to do the job. We already see this with teachers. The unions, because they have concentrated power, are able to negotiate to make teaching be a worthwile career choice for their members. I see no reason to expect that the public perception of teaching wouldn't re-exert itself to make teaching a, essentially, economically unfeasible career path.

"Nice try, but you've been drinking the Kool-Aid. Come on, Ev. I'm sure you must know better than this. I gave a perfect example right over here. And it's a story I've seen far more than once, and in more than one state."

Yup, there are problems that result from union contracts. Not NEARLY as many as result from
1) Lack of resources
2) Politicians who know nothing about education enacting policy that actually hinders learning.

I agree that tenure should go, but its not the tenure aspect of my union negotiated contract that is fundamentally important. Its the insurance, the pay hikes that come from better education and more experience (both of which correlate REALLY WELL with teaching ability to the best of our ability to measure teaching skill, and the education is required in most states), the processes that are put in place to protect us, for example from students who make up stories of sexual harrassment, the detailing of what is and is not part of our job, the ability to actually have days where we can go to the doctor or take care of a sick family member (which no, is not a given... I've worked non-union jobs where I couldn't get a day off from work for a doctor's appointment I had scheduled four weeks in advance), and, well, another 30 pages of stuff that makes the job workable.

Yeah, unions cause some problems. I agree. But they don't cause enough problems for me to agree that essentially making them illegal is a proper solution. Unions prevent far more problems then they cause. Largely by making people who are qualified to teach, want to teach.

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drewmie
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Ev, of course you're right. Teachers are not valued nor paid NEARLY enough, which is why I liked my solution as a "two birds with one stone" solution. However, I must admit that my solution only addresses the economic part of your concerns. The health care and time off issues would definitely need to be included if we didn't want to lose out on some positive effects of teacher unions.

Do you feel like such aspects couldn't be covered without union shop agreements? I mean, even if my proposal only insisted on no tenure and open shop unions, I think it might have the same positive results.

By the way, Ev, why don't good teachers WANT the crappy teachers kicked out? For some reason, the union dynamic makes everybody far more silent about unqualified teachers than they should be. Is it really that difficult to be honestly critical of the people doing a substandard job? I'd say about 1 out of every 4 teachers in my schools shouldn't have been allowed to teach, and wasted our time. What do other teachers and administrators think (and do) about those teachers? Shouldn't they be replaced, and quickly?

[ September 21, 2006, 07:17 PM: Message edited by: drewmie ]

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Everard
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"By the way, Ev, why don't good teachers WANT the crappy teachers kicked out?"

Mostly because educators, and non-educators, disagree on who is a crappy teacher. Its not that we don't want the bad teachers kicked out... its that some of the people who are viewed as bad teachers are actually really good educators in bad situations. Its also that, if we kick out the crappy teachers who really ARE crappy, it puts a heavier burden on the good teachers, because the crappy teachers aren't likely to be replaced by BETTER teachers, because there aren't enough people who want to teach to fill all the vacancies.

I was hired, in a good school district, over 16 applicants, many of whom said something like "I lost my job in the dot.com burst, and I still haven't found anything better then teaching, so I figure I'd teach until I get a good job again."

Those teachers got jobs in lesser school districts, because there was no one else available to fill those positions. THere were about 50 openings for physics teachers in MA this year, and about 40 qualified applicants. So 10 unqualified people are teaching. Remove those people, and you over-burden between 25-50 teachers in the state who have to fill the load.

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drewmie
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Ugh! That is so sad! When are we going to get a clue and start making teaching a well-paying job? Only market forces will allow us to pick and choose the better ones! Does anyone think teachers SHOULDN'T be paid more? For heaven's sake, it isn't about what teachers DESERVE to be paid. It's about the kinds of teachers our kids DESERVE to have!

P.S.- I know, I'm preaching to the converted. [Smile]

[ September 22, 2006, 04:56 PM: Message edited by: drewmie ]

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Everard
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Well, the problem with your proposal, drewmie, is that market forces would reduce the number of qualified applicants, if you remove unions from the equation [Smile]

Go read a teacher's union contract sometime. It might open your eyes a bit.

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Jesse
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[quote]By the way, Ev, why don't good teachers WANT the crappy teachers kicked out? For some reason, the union dynamic makes everybody far more silent about unqualified teachers than they should be. Is it really that difficult to be honestly critical of the people doing a substandard job? I'd say about 1 out of every 4 teachers in my schools shouldn't have been allowed to teach, and wasted our time. What do other teachers and administrators think (and do) about those teachers? Shouldn't they be replaced, and quickly[quote/]


Obviously addressed to Ev...but...

Why do Good Cops so often cover for bad ones or fail to speak out against them? Why do good people in our armed forces often do the same?

If not for the bad teachers, or at least the high percentage of them, teachers would be more respected and I think more people would be willing to pay more in taxes to raise their compensation.

Personally, I agree that about as many teachers are underpaid as are overpaid. It still comes down to one simple fact : People who are there for the money don't belong there.

I fully understand that a great many people who would make fine teachers are turned off by the low status of the job, and the fact that the pay doesn't really provide for a very comfortable standard of living for a person trying to raise a family (well, in many areas).

I still don't think that starting salaries of 200,000 a year would bring better teachers into the profession than starting salaries of 45,000 a year (yes, Ev, I know it's a lot less than that [Big Grin] It is, however, what I think it should be in most of Urban America at least.)

Teachers simply can't do a good job unless they are passionate about what they do. If we tripled the pay for firefighters, would we get better fire protection? We only have so many people in our society with the fairly rare combination of talents, abilities, and character to do either job well.

Higher wages simply won't make those people more common, although they may encourage some of those people to persue the field.

_________________________________________________


Now, for something completely different, on to the premise of the thread [Big Grin]

I disagree Richard. We could make a difference in the insane behavior of motorists, but it would an actual commitment to safety and Law Enforcement willing to deal with the complaints.

All we have to do is make fines proportionate to income like they do in Germany, and give people 60 days in County lock up if they drive without a license.

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Everard
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"I still don't think that starting salaries of 200,000 a year would bring better teachers into the profession than starting salaries of 45,000 a year"

Do you believe in market forces?
If so, this statement is dead on arrival.

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Jesse
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Everard, no matter how much you are willing to pay for real diamonds, the number of them in the ground isn't going to magically increase.

Did the number of trees on Easter Island dramatically increase in response to Market Forces?

Market Forces aren't Magical. I know that more than a few people argue as if they are, but history has shown time and again that human beings do not have an unlimited ability to increase supply in response to a demand.

Half the population is right out due to intelligence. Easily another quarter are out due to substance abuse and a varity of other emotional and psychological problems. Then, we knock out those with felony records, those who simply dislike children, and recognize that the temperment required to be an effective teacher is rare to begin with, let alone the temperment and demeanor required to maintian order in a class full of kids.

I'd be interested to know how mere financial reward is going to increase our supply of people who have what it takes.

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Everard
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It doesn't increase the supply. It increases the percentage of the supply who are willing to chase the jobs.
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Jesse
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Ev, a decent standard of living does. I agree.

However, one of the prime qualifications for being a good teacher is a desire to teach.

People who have that drive and desire aren't going to walk away from teaching just because it doesn't make them filthy rich, although I'm sure that many *do* walk away from it when it doesn't provide at least a moderately comfortable lifestyle for themselves or their families.

You're a capable and highly intelligent person, Everard, (you know, aside from being wrong all the time [Big Grin] ) so why persue teaching?

I can only assume it's because you have a passion for it and want to make a difference in the lives of children. I hope no one reports me for speculating about your motives. [Wink]

I'm NOT saying that if we started paying teachers 12k a year the good ones would show up anyway, but I am saying that the prime motivation of the sort of person who has the potential to make a good teacher is not financial reward.

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Everard
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But a lot of people who have the potential to make good teachers are ALSO motivated by financial rewards.
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Jesse
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I don't disagree Ev, but there's a cost benefit here.

Is it possible that there are a handfull of people who would make excellent teachers, would love to teach, but just wouldn't be satisfied with an income of say, 60k after 10 years senority?

Sure, it's possible, but for the most part, if we had to get into the six figures to attract someone, we'd be dealing with someone whose greed far outweighed their desire to serve their community.

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Everard
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In EVERY OTHER industry, we assume that greater financial rewards attract a better quality of people. I think its a myth that if we raised teacher salaries, we wouldn't get significantly more people applying for jobs, and many of those people would be more qualified then the people who are currently applying.

Granted, people go into teaching because they have a passion for education. But MORE people would have a passion for education if it were an economically rewarding career, rather then a career that often doesn't pay enough for you to raise a family in the community you teach in.

The pay with 10 years seniority is not bad at all. But with ten years seniority, if you go into law, and you're a smart person who works hard, you're usually making a quarter million per year. If you want to have a comfortable life and raise children and be able to afford to send them to a good college, 250,000 is a lot better then 60,000.

We shouldn't be paying teachers by fulfilling their desire to serve the community. Thats simply not how the economy works. There are a lot of people out there with a desire to serve the community, intelligence, and passion...who become doctors or lawyers or bankers or work as scientists or engineers in industry because they also want a nice house where they can raise two kids safely, and take trips to europe or the carribean on their vacations.

I'm not saying we should pay starting teachers 100,000 a year. But a 20% bump across the board would probably start attracting 50% more applicants for each opening, and a good chunk of those NEW applicants would be people who would make good teachers, because we're attracting people who would otherwise not apply because the economic benefit is currently less then their earning potential elsewhere, meaning they are smart and work hard.

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Jesse
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"We" do?

There's a lot more to picking a job than financial reward. If I wanted to go run a honey pumper I could get a four dollar an hour raise [Smile]

I'm not talking about exploiting a persons desire to teach, but rather pointing out that finite resources just don't magically expand in response to demand.

Firefighting pays about the same as teaching, yet it is extrordinarily competetive. Why? Largely because of the high regard in which the public holds firefighters, but also because so many people crave the job satisfaction.

I don't disagree that something around a 20% bump would have positive results. In a great many districts, teaching doesn't afford the same lifestyle it did 30 years ago. The challenges have also increased.

We once led the world in education, and we didn't do it by paying salaries that placed teachers in the top 10%. We provided them with respect, and expected them to repay it.

If we look at countries that routinely outperform us in education, we don't find that their teachers receive substantialy higher financial rewards than ours.

To me, this says that teacher pay is not the crux of the problem.

Personally, I was instructed by enough idiots drawn to persue Gifted education by the increase in salary they would recieve to put less than total faith in the idea that the highest pay draws the best teachers.

[ September 24, 2006, 01:00 PM: Message edited by: Jesse ]

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hobsen
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Taxpayers do not care a whole lot about educating other people's children, especially in poor areas. For one thing, they know a lot of them will move away as adults, so they will reap no benefit. And those who really care about education move to suburbs where the public schools are outstanding, or perhaps pay to send their children to private schools.

Nor will spending ten times as much money necessarily improve things where it matters. A black district near me used to have about ten times the money available compared to the white suburbs, because of a tax base supported by heavy industry. But they still could not get good teachers on the whole because working conditions in the schools remained dangerous and uncomfortable. Exceptions occurred, as when a graduate went on to become an excellent newspaper columnist, probably because the extra money created better opportunities. But taxpayers can end by spending a whole lot more money for very little improvement, and they naturally hesitate to do so.

Such projects run into the same problems as the no child left behind nonsense. The children who get left behind now learn with difficulty for the most part: recent immigrants, the mentally retarded and the emotionally disturbed. Some can be helped by good teaching, but others will never succeed using any approach. Also parents do matter; it is unrealistic to expect the schools to turn a child into a model citizen when a couple of alcoholics are beating and starving him regularly. Or when he is being abused in foster care. And helping one such problem student tends to cost as much money as sending an outstanding scholar to an Ivy League college. So teaching all children to be good citizens remains a worthwhile goal, but actually trying to do it runs into the law of diminuishing returns in a hurry. A 20% bump across the board would help a lot, but it certainly would not cure everything.

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Loki
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If we all agree a 20% bump would be beneficial, who are the education wizards who think it won't?

Teachers are not respected in the community it's said, maybe it's because in our society we respect the wealthy, teachers are poor. College Professors are respected and many do very well, so what is the difference? Looks like pay to me.

[ September 24, 2006, 09:26 PM: Message edited by: Loki ]

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Richard Dey
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The problem in Massachusetts, where most of its teachers come from the teachers' college system, is very simple. Teachers are taught how to teach, not what to teach -- and the school systems hire those who have been taught how to teach (badly). After that, they can hardly be fired.

Private schools tend to hire teachers for what they know, not necessarily how they impart it. If they can't impart it, they're fired.

Most states are not serious about improving their educational systems; the best way around it for those who cannot afford private schools is webucation. The solution is in our face -- and the public ignores it at its own peril.

Hobsen, the real difference between high-school teachers and college teachers is that those in private colleges are almost always self-employed and maintain residencies in colleges. Most high-school teachers just have a 2nd job. I only know a handful of MIT professors who don't own their own companies outside the institute. A huge number of Harvard professors work on the side for consulting firms. The average public-school teacher doesn't know anything they'd be paid for outside the public-school system -- except maybe selling used cars.

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hobsen
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While the federal government was trying to standardize what children learn, they might have standardized teacher qualifications at the same time. I agree at least a bachelor's degree in the major subject area would be nice; California demands a master's, which strikes me as excessive. But Massachusetts demands education courses, which do not actually guarantee any ability to teach. And even that is an improvement, as a couple of my grade school teachers had no education beyond high school.

Frankly I had never thought about how university professors made their money, so I am glad Loki brought up the point. The ones I have met in California, at state universities, probably had fewer such opportunities. They also taught very well on the whole; but the California state university system - as opposed to the University of California - resembles a much improved high school. The classes I attended also benefitted from having perhaps a quarter of the students working adults, who would probably not tolerate poor teachers.

[ September 25, 2006, 11:42 AM: Message edited by: hobsen ]

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Richard Dey
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Raising salaries doesn't get rid of people unless they're gold parachutes; and what public-school administrator or teacher or coach is deserving of such largesse at public expense?

Right now we have the equations Unions = Bad Schools.

We need a separation of Schools and State just as we have a separation of Church and State. I would even recommend a separation of Church and Schools, but we haven't proven that church schools are bad; we have proven that state schools are bad -- Berkeley included [Big Grin] .

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Colin JM0397
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Jesse I don't think you're following the point Ev's making.

For example, I'd like to teach. I have a BA in English and 2+ years teaching in the Army.

Regardless of which state I'm in, I'd have to get "certified". Depending on the state I'm in - no, not denial - that certification could be easy to come by or a royal pain in the arse.

Usually I'd have to go back to school and get another degree, or substitute long enough to get grandfathered in. If I go back to school, I might as well go for a masters. If I get a masters, I'd rather teach at a university than secondary.

I work full time now and can't afford to not work - NJ cost of living sucks.

Even if I did those things and got that handy certification, I'd probably start somewhere in the 35-45k a year range, which is 1/2 to 1/3 less than I make in the private sector.

That's 2 huge strikes against me going and teaching right now.

It's not only salary pushing the supply down, it's the hoops a person with a degree but no certification needs to jump through to even get a foot in the door.

Of course, some training on teaching theory and such is necessary, but 2 years back in school (as was the case in Ohio) is just asinine.

So while the pool of potential teachers is probably quite high, both the pay and the bureaucratic requirements start knocking that pool way down.

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Richard Dey
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jm:

"That's 2 huge strikes against me going and teaching right now."

No, that's 3 [Wink] ! The gerunds take the genitive or possessive case.

Your complaint is utterly valid, but just who is it who has created this Catch 22 if not the teachers' unions, their lobbyists and spokesfolk, and their whipmistresses at the Harvard School of Education creating (I love this one)

"novel and innovative information programs in terms of informing children K-12" ...?

At one point, idiots at Harvard had decided to give up teaching altogether [Mad] ! They'd taken up creative writing using the breath-line found-poem Philip Glass method! Children weren't going to be taught anymore; they'd be informed! and here it was they who had turned teaching into a dirty word!

Any research paper containing the prepositional phrase "in terms of" should be instantly incinerated; it could contaminate a whole generation again.

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LetterRip
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Richard Dey,

except private schools which generally are non union don't fare particularly better than public schools and private schools get to skim the student base (ie they can exclude 'trouble makers' or others that raise the cost of dealing with students and drag down student performance averages).

LetterRip

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