The Cost of a Job That Can’t Be Done

It is certainly worth reminding ourselves that parents, as a group, bear some of the blame — most of it — for children doing poorly in school. But inasmuch as parents don’t draw government salaries, receive paid days off, or claim retirement benefits for their efforts, the public rightly makes schools an area of particular concern.
The problem that teachers’ advocates face in attempting to redirect attention toward parents is that two obvious questions emerge: If the job is undoable, why do we pay so much for it? And what can we do to maximize the benefit of the dollars that we spend? Not surprisingly, folks at Anchor Rising would tend to suggest that the best solution is to increase opportunities for teachers, students, and parents who desire success, and to increase consequences for those who do not. (Ah, there’s the rub.)
A school choice program, combined with merit-based teacher compensation, would accomplish both.

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Greg
Greg
14 years ago

INSERT STANDARD CLAP-TRAP FROM PAT CROWLEY HERE

Bob Walsh
Bob Walsh
14 years ago

I’ll pinch hit for Pat. Justin, I think it is fair to ask exactly how these ideas would work, because a serious discussion of the issue has to answer these concerns. In a school choice program, how do you prevent re-segregation? How do you balance parental involvement (presuming only involved parents will “play” the school choice game)? How do you deal with transportation efficiency? How do you deal with unequal infrastructure (even with all factors being otherwise equal, the buildings and facilities certainly are not)? How do you deal with the “false choice” of team building (the heck with education, School X’s football team is the best, and I want my kid to play on that team)? How do you deal with the parental expectation regarding a specific teacher (I want my kid to have Miss Smith for grade X, but so does everyone else, so I will choose that school if and only if . . .)? Finally – on what criteria do you advise parents to make their choice? Is it test scores? (If so, they are choosing schools with students whose family socioeconomic status and parental education levels are higher, at least at first.) Is it extracurricular activities? (Sports, band, chess club, whatever – these are all important if they motivate the student, but are not core academics.) On merit pay, besides asking for the particulars of a fair program that is devoid of politics, I often wonder why people believe that the only motivating factor is money. When Don Carcieri decided he wanted to make more money, he got out of education – and even merit pay would not have made the the difference in the type of compensation he was seeking. We have merit pay now with objective criteria – generally, compensation is increased if… Read more »

Greg
Greg
14 years ago

Bob,
As far as improving public education, would you be willing to agree that our generation got a superior education to that of today’s children? I know I would.
And if you would agree to that, what would you say are the reasons for that?

Frank
Frank
14 years ago

Bob,
I completely disagree with your assertion that we have merit pay now for teachers. None of the items you listed have anything to do with actual performance. They are all forms of preparation for teaching, not measures of teaching ability. If we were talking about athletes it would be similiar to saying “if you practice 1 hour extra in the offseason, put on 20 lbs. of muscle, and demonstrate a thourough knowledge of your postion (weren’t they already supposed to know that?) for 2 or 3 years then we will increase your pay 10-20% regardless of how you perform in the field, for the rest of your entire career”. Wow, I know I’d do it! Similarly, there are “naturals” in any field. Individuals who just have the knack. The best teacher in a school system may never have gone thru any extra preparation (because they didn’t require it, and they knew it) and are simply extremely proficient, they ARE a great teacher. Unfortunately they we be paid the least, except for seniority of course. The current system simply does not reward teachers based on their teaching ability, though it seems to do just about everything else.
The way the teacher contracts are written these items all just seem like reasons for teachers to pad their salaries, nothing more. Why is it that the school systems that offer the most lucrative incentives, or merit as you would say, do not perform any better than the ones that offer the fewest?

msteven
msteven
14 years ago

I’m all for merit-based teacher compensation. But I don’t think that the basis for success should be defined by the students test scores. I think it should be done the old-fashioned way – by people, such as the administrators or principles, viewing the teachers, talking with students & parents and making a judgment on their performance. It’s not as easy as comparing two numbers, but it’s the way most workers are judged in academic fields.
I completely agree with Frank on merit pay. Merit pay should performance based, not based on classes or extra-cirriculars.
School choice is a great theory but a more complicated concept in today’s reality. If I were dictator, I would unilaterally eliminate the teachers union, and change the way public schools are funded. If the public schools were able to compete with private schools on a close-to-level playing field, then school choice could work. The way it is now, I think school choice or vouchers would result in harming the public school system and turn the smaller private school systems into large school systems. I think the primary attractiveness of alternative schools is based on size – where less is more. This is one of the distinctions between the business of education and other ‘for-profit’ businesses where there is no doubt would be better off privatized.

johnpaycheck
johnpaycheck
14 years ago

hey walsh,
toss out all the rhetoric and just look at the statistics.. just a few basic ones like.
like we have soem of the worst performing schools around..like some schools have drop out rates of 50%
the system has failed a generation of people.
and i know, its not the schools, its the poverty, right. ri poverty is different from other poverty bc it affects your ability to learn.it doesnt affect kids in other states.
if you didnt have a voting block of teachers you would be on the same level as bob healy

Alex Fanning
Alex Fanning
14 years ago

Bob Walsh,
You ask these questions like they only apply to education. They don’t. In fact, every rhetorical question you ask is one faced with selections we make in many aspects of life – what youth sports organization, what dance class, what musical group, what college, what industry to go into, what company to work for.
You simply attempt to justify the status quo with this lame line of questioning. You insinuate that the present system has the answers to all you rhetorical nonsense. In fact, the present system has failed us for over 40 years – right about the time when unions began to hijack the public education system.
Who are you kidding about “removing the politics?” Welcome to the real word Bob. Your union knows nothing but politics. That is your sanctimonious ruse to to distract from the important work of improving public education.
The only way an honest discussion begins is by figuring how to take the control away from the unions that have destroyed public education. Until that enters the discussion, we are pissing into the wind.

Bob Walsh
Bob Walsh
14 years ago

Actually, the statistics prove that Rhode Island public schools are competitive in our suburban, rural and urban ring districts, and that our urban core districts face great challenges primarily related to deep poverty, parental education levels, and language barriers. With our urban core representing a higher percentage of our total student population, our state averages take a hit (easy to visualize -some of “our suburbs” are in Massachusetts, and Narragansett Bay just isn’t conducive to building houses.) Many of these posts reaffirm why even our most cynical members are pleased to have a union, so thanks for that at least. While much more can (and will) be said, I leave you this thought on merit pay – do you really want a system of public education that encourages teachers to look out over the classroom and decide which students will make them money, or give them a financial disincentive to share new ideas and otherwise cooperate with colleagues that they are now “competing” with? And no, Alex, I am not justifying the status quo at all – if public education does not continue to evolve, it will not fulfill its mission. I just point out that many proposed solutions (such as merit pay, school choice, or even getting rid of the union) that are glibly suggested do no stand up to scrutiny. Frank, it seems that some of the districts that were the first to emphasize additional compensation for advanced degrees or National Board Certification are among the best performing in the state, so I am not sure what statistics you are using. Greg – I hope the education system today is better than yesterday – superior is an interesting concept though. I think that kids today have a lot more distractions that educaiton has had to try to adapt… Read more »

Pat
Pat
14 years ago

“As far as improving public education, would you be willing to agree that our generation got a superior education to that of today’s children? I know I would.” No, I wouldn’t agree with that. The amount of improvements that have been made in the last 15 years have been amazing. Reading coaches, literacy experts, curriculum specialists, full day kindergarten, improvements in math focus, computer drafting and programming, longer school days, longer school years, better student/teacher ratios. Better schools, safer transportation, healthier food can be added to the list. And even the much maligned special ed costs never talk about the extraordinary improvements for our most neediest students. When I was in school, the kids with special needs were stuck in the corner and left on their own, now there are real efforts to get them into the main stream. All that being said, there are myriad problems with the status quo. There is not enough time spent on instruction and too much time spent on testing. There is not enough time spent on pushing real achievement. There is too much emphasis on the “college bound” track and not enough realization that not every kid is going to college – but still every kid needs a great education to prepare them for adulthood and that blue collar jobs are respectable and honorable (right Justin?) There are way too many administrators taking up space. And no matter how hard you try Greg, or Justin, the facts don’t support your arguments. Teacher salaries have risen slower than nearly all other professions in the last 15 years. Benefit levels have been cut, and then cut again. The number of consultants and paid “experts” that leech off the system has grown exponentially. Rhode Island has refused to make the Statewide commitment funding education (hello, Democratic… Read more »

SusanD
SusanD
14 years ago

Let us hark back to the report below, discussed by Justin in March, and then decide if Bob Walsh and Pat Crowley are correct.
A couple of highlights:
Rhode Island received an “F” for return on education investment, “F” for flexibility in management and “F” for academic achievement of low-income and minority students.
http://www.uschamber.com/icw/reportcard/default

Bobby Oliveira
14 years ago

Dear SusanD,
The US Chamber of Commerce is noted ly anti-teacher. They are also anti a lot of other things that can be embarassing.
Really good on networking, so so on trade issues, a total failure in other places. Quoting them, in short, will get you no where.
Please try to quote sources, even negative ones if necessary, who have a clue. Union haters and anti-teacher types need not apply.

chuckR
chuckR
14 years ago

Bobby O
Being able to cut and paste URLs is convenient. You should try it sometime.
Love teachers or hate them, the Chamber report card graded from A to F. If your argument held water, that grade would have been from D to F. A few minutes review shows that states such as MA and MN are top rated in teacher capabilities and in return on investment – the latter despite high education costs in both states.

Bobby Oliveira
14 years ago

Dear ChuckR,
If your “teaching trends” are slighted towards where the Chamber wants you to be, they grade you highly. This has nothing to do with overall education quality. Rather, it is a response to what teachers have done lately and how they are compensated.
If Massachusetts and Minnesota teachers don’t “behave” next year, the grade will drop regardless of what may or may be not happening in the classroom.
Again, there are places where the Chamber’s opinion is valued. There aren’t many, but they exist. Education, due to the skew of its opinion, is not one of them.

Greg
Greg
14 years ago

Bobby’s M.O.: “Your facts are from bad sources. Watch as I fail to link to any evidence supporting MY side of the argument…”

Frank
Frank
14 years ago

Bob,
There is no correlation between the school districts offering the most lucrative pay/extra incentives and district performance. I am using the RIASC data for teacher pay (all forms of it) and RIDE data on school performance. For example Coventry seems to top the list in nearly all forms of “extra” pay and yet is a mediocre performer by RI standards. East Greenwich and Barrington, two top performers, and in the low to mid range for offering ‘extra” pay. AND I’m sure that you could not demonstrate that there ever has been a spike in student performance as this supposed merit pay came into effect. Which would indicate that there was no benefit to the students, only for the teachers.
One more thought, I don’t believe for a moment that a capable and caring teacher will look out over their classrooms to decide which students they should help the most to enhance their own pay and would no longer cooperate with each other due to competition over pay (though this may be a good reason to do away with tenure). That would be unprofessional and mean spirited. This is nothing but a scare tactic and no excuse for supporting the status quo.

Bobby Oliveira
14 years ago

Dear Greg,
As usual, you intentionally misstate the premise in a weak attempt to make a point. I learned not to try that as a Freshmen in High School on the debate team.
The question is not whether what Susan posted was true; the question was whether you can use US Commerce statistics as evidence that it is true.
She is obviously more than welcome to come back with somebody else’s data supporting the same point. However, she would do well to make that sure that “somebody else” does not have a history of skewing their observations based on an anti union/teacher bias.

Tom W
Tom W
14 years ago

>>The US Chamber of Commerce is noted ly anti-teacher.
First, teachers unions and teachers are entirely distinct. One can oppose teachers unions and be pro-teacher … indeed one cannot be pro-teachers union and pro-teacher, for the union model harms GOOD teachers.
Just ask the “educator of the year” in Middletown who is losing her job because she doesn’t have more seniority than lesser teachers.
As for dismissing the U.S. Chamber of Commerce study, fine. Then please provide cites to studies that show U.S. public education is amongst the top in the world, and that RI is amongst the top in the U.S.
Every study I’ve seen (Chamber, OECD, “A Nation At Risk” etc. etc. etc.) has shown that U.S. public education has been declining in quality since the 1960’s (i.e., concurrent with the widespread introduction of teachers unions into U.S. public education).
Today U.S. public education ranks poorly in comparison to other industrialized countries (OECD) … and RI in below average in the U.S.
To be sure, teachers unions aren’t the only reason for the precipitous decline in U.S. public education, but they are a MAJOR factor behind it and, more importantly, in no way are part of the solution.
They should be eliminated, and teaching restored to being a profession. Yes, compensate the teachers very, very well, because their role is critical – and we can’t expect to get high quality people and high performance “on the cheap.” But in return for that competitive and attractive compensation, we should expect in return high levels of competence, diligence and performance. Fair for both sides.
The union industrial model only interferes with that – benefiting slacker teachers and union officials who live off the dues steam.

johnpaycheck
johnpaycheck
14 years ago

i assume the chamber of commerce study is only anti ri teacher…becasue massachusetts got almost all a’s.many other states did very well
go figure

Justin Katz
14 years ago

Why, Bobby, should Susan have to produce additional data when you’ve produced absolutely nothing by way of evidence to disqualify that which she’s already offered? Or are we just supposed to take your pro-union opinion at face value?
I can’t help but feel that questions arise based on the possible directions of cause and effect. Perhaps, for example, those who are “anti-union,” in your lexicon, are so because they have a reason to be…

SusanD
SusanD
14 years ago

BobbyO, if the Chamber of Commerce hates teachers and unions, why did other states get “A’s” in many of these categories? For example, out of nine grades, our neighbor, Massachusetts, got seven “A’s”.
What spurred the Chamber to commission this report is the fact that private businesses across the United States spend $1 billion annually on remedial teaching of new employees. Teaching of skills that employees should have possessed as a function of the education they received.
The Chamber wanted to identify why this was, who was doing good, who was doing bad and what could be done to fix it. This strikes me something that could only benefit everyone, including especially students. Possibly, however, there is some down side which I missed; if so, please point it out.
As to the report itself, every state got an “Education Report Card” and was graded in nine areas. Rhode Island got one “B” (truth in advertising about student proficiency), one “C”, three “D’s” and four “F’s”.
Three “D’s” and four “F’s” out of nine “subjects”. Rhode Island’s education system is failing miserably. If there is some weakness or failing in the methodology of the report, BobbyO, please state them. Otherwise, the report stands and your comment will be taken simply as petulant annoyance about the results.
Let’s be clear. Ultimate responsibility for the unacceptable state of Rhode Island’s education system rests with our elected officials, who put our children a distant second to buying the votes of public union members by refusing to set sufficiently high standards for teachers and student results.
http://www.uschamber.com/icw/reportcard/default

Bobby Oliveira
14 years ago

Let’s go over this again because some of you aren’t getting it:
The US Chamber has in the past ranked other things. By the end of tomorrow, I will post some examples for you (I’m at work now).
In some cases, these rankings did not even reflect their own position but were rather a “reward/consequence” system for different types of behavior.
Therefore, their rankings, regardless who they ranked where, cannot be trusted because we do not know what criteria they used. They have strayed from their stated criteria in the past.
Imagine for a moment that the DailyKos, something I would never use but it makes the example, did a “Governor’s ranking”. You would immediately have the same problems with anything it said. Take it a step further: imagine it said that Carcieri gets an “F” even though Romney gets an “A”. It would be just as bad.
Again, being that you are in the minority, your job should be to draw people to your opinion. Using biased sources is not a way to do that. Then again, maybe you like the idea of never getting a bill out of Committee next session.

SusanD
SusanD
14 years ago

BobbyO, you’re the one not getting the point. In order for there to be bias, there must be an underlying motive.
The US Chamber of Commerce commissioned this report BECAUSE ITS MEMBERS ARE TIRED OF PAYING FOR THE INADEQUACIES OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS. One billion dollars a year of inadequacies. What does the Chamber want? They want better educated children.
Here’s a newsflash. THAT’S WHAT WE ALL WANT. Better educated children get better jobs and have a better life. Even our bad politicians win – successful people pay more taxes.
To the charge that money is driving this desire of the Chamber, I say bravo. Not only do they have the same goal as we do, they are driven by a great motivator – money – to identify the problems and find real (unbiased) solutions to the demonstrated weaknesses in our education system.
As Tom W pointed out, reports from a variety of sources, not just the US Chamber of Commerce, concur that there are real problems with Rhode Island’s education system and that it is our children who are paying the price. Why are you denying this, BobbyO, and defending the status quo?
One more thing. If your planned research about the Chamber Report Card does anything other than demonstrate flaws about the methodology of the report, save yourself the time. You will only be confirming that the results of the report are accurate. Satan himself could have commissioned this report but if he used proper procedures and data, its conclusions would still be perfectly valid.

Bobby Oliveira
14 years ago

Dear SusanD,
When did I say there was nothing wrong??
Go back and look at the newsclips from my 2004 race for School Committee.
However, when any organization looks at the same thing and always wants to pin the problems on the same people, you instinctively should know that there is another agenda at work.
In fact, it can be stated clearly that many on this Blog are more interested in breaking up unions then they are in fixing schools. There are key issues that are left out of every single one of these conversations. Because those issues are never discussed, the conclusion is simply arrived at.
If folks really were interested in fixing schools, there are at least 3 issues that would be discussed long before unions. Until they are, there is no reason to take anyone at their word.

Tom W
Tom W
14 years ago

Bob & Pat: First, Bob W’s first post seems to be premised on school choice only within the “public” school system. That is analogous to Henry Ford’s “you can have any color you want, so long as it is black.” Without choice between “public” and “private” schools, even (gasp!) for profit schools, then there is no choice. Both can co-exist, and the competition would benefit all, most importantly the children. This occurs in higher education – we have “public” and “private” colleges. We also have it in delivery services – there is the USPS and UPS and FedEx (and does anyone believe that the presence of UPS / FedEx has not caused the USPS to improve service and mitigate its price increases)? It’s long past time to let urban and middle class children not be “segregated” and be able embrace the same opportunities for educational choice that was enjoyed by Patrick Kennedy, Sheldon Whitehouse and Chelsea Clinton. Yes there will be problems (e.g., parents picking “football schools”) – there is no panacea – but there is no question that competition improves the breed. >>Actually, the statistics prove that Rhode Island public schools are competitive in our suburban, rural and urban ring districts, and that our urban core districts face great challenges primarily related to deep poverty, parental education levels, and language barriers. With our urban core representing a higher percentage of our total student population, our state averages take a hit (easy to visualize -some of “our suburbs” are in Massachusetts, and Narragansett Bay just isn’t conducive to building houses.). The same old excuses. Teachers unions are quick to assert that skilled and dedication teachers are THE crucial element. Fair enough – we all agree – and “Stand and Deliver” type educators show that teaching urban kids and overcoming those… Read more »

Bob Walsh
Bob Walsh
14 years ago

Frank says: “One more thought, I don’t believe for a moment that a capable and caring teacher will look out over their classrooms to decide which students they should help the most to enhance their own pay and would no longer cooperate with each other due to competition over pay (though this may be a good reason to do away with tenure). That would be unprofessional and mean spirited.”
Frank, other than your shot at tenure, exactly my point. Your merit pay system would benefit any teacher who would put competition above cooperation – it would actually compensate unprofessional and mean spirited behavior.
If funds were available for merit pay, the vast majority of teachers would like to see them applied to system wide improvements such as lower class size.
And tenure, by the way, simply means that after three full years of employment, dismissal must be for cause. The whole world should be on that standard!

Pat Crowley
14 years ago

“ACHIEVEMENT has been in decline since the mid-1960’s (see.,e.g., “A Nation at Risk”)”
— another discredited report. Great source.

Justin Katz
14 years ago

… and another unsubstantiated declaration of invalidity.
I ask half honestly: Y’all do understand that the fact that some folks with whom you agree (mainly with financial incentive to minimize negative reports) have said bad things about a data source does not of itself constitute discreditment, right?

mikeinRI
mikeinRI
13 years ago

Bob Walsh wrote: “Your merit pay system would benefit any teacher who would put competition above cooperation – it would actually compensate unprofessional and mean spirited behavior.”
As a public school teacher I find these comments to be most offensive. Merit pay does not need to pit one teacher against another. In fact, “unprofessional and mean spirited” teachers would not do well under a merit pay system. Merit pay would allow teachers’ salaries to be based on how well the job is performed, rather than how long the employee has been in the classroom.
We all know there are teachers who put in more time than others, more of themselves, more of a commitment to each individual student. They come to school events, support families, and most importantly, stay current on research and best practice to ensure the needs of their students are met.
When we grade students we use a scale…rubrics are most common today. On a 1-4 scale, 3 is passing. But the 4 exists to reward those students who go above and beyond what’s expected. And students who earn the highest score don’t have to be competitive with the other students, don’t have to be mean-spirited. They have to work hard and show they are capable of more.
What’s wrong with rewarding those teachers who excel? Your opposition to merit pay actually prevents many teachers from being paid what they deserve.

Tom W
Tom W
13 years ago

>>Your opposition to merit pay actually prevents many teachers from being paid what they deserve.
Thank you mikeinRI – for what you said, for the work you do, and the attitude of PROFESSIONALISM that you are displaying.
The teachers unions want “us” and teachers both to believe that the union is the teachers, and the teachers the union – one amorphous, collective mass individually distinguishable only by seniority. Thus the unions play the “criticism of the teachers unions is ‘teacher bashing'” game.
Teachers like you, who remain professional notwithstanding the union culture and contractual minimums, give lie to this charade of “teacher bashing.”
To repeat what I said in an previous post: “They [teachers unions] should be eliminated, and teaching restored to being a profession. Yes, compensate the teachers very, very well, because their role is critical – and we can’t expect to get high quality people and high performance ‘on the cheap.’ But in return for that competitive and attractive compensation, we should expect in return high levels of competence, diligence and performance. Fair for both sides.”
Fair for both sides doesn’t appear on the teachers union label.

Pat Crowley
13 years ago

“The fundamental tenets of teachers unions, such as seniority and tenure, are inherently incompatible with achieving the best possible performance – WITNESS MIDDLETOWN’S “EDUCATOR OF THE YEAR” BEING CANNED DUE TO LACK OF SENIORITY. If this doesn’t demonstrate the bass-ackward priorities of unionized public education, I don’t know what does.”
This is such a crock. Believe me. If this were true, why hasn’t the Superintendent brought this teacher back yet and why is she fiddling around with the job of the husband of one of her “administrators” to keep the “teacher of the year” out?
Never mind that the lay offs never would have been needed if Middletown was so top heavy with administration, more than many schools. Nor would it have happened if Paiva-Weed kept her promise to give us a funding formula.
See, the REAL story is so much deeper. But that OK Tom W. keep making things up…. it has worked so far

SusanD
SusanD
13 years ago

“If funds were available for merit pay,”
Actually, they are available. They are presently going to the bad and mediocre teachers. This is one of our objections. Why should bad and mediocre teachers receive the same compensation as good ones?
Pardon me as I anticipate the response that has been made in the past: “it is very difficult to establish a merit system”.
That’s fine. Until we come up with one, all teachers receive the same pay that bad or mediocre teachers should receive. That way, it’s fair and everyone is in the same boat. Isn’t that the justification for the present compensation?

Tom W
Tom W
13 years ago

>>See, the REAL story is so much deeper. But that OK Tom W. keep making things up…. it has worked so far
Yeah, I made it up – right from the front page of the Newport Daily News.
>>Never mind that the lay offs never would have been needed if Middletown was so top heavy with administration, more than many schools. Nor would it have happened if Paiva-Weed kept her promise to give us a funding formula.
The whole public education system is featherbedded: administrators, teachers, teachers aides, reading specialist (to make up for the deficiencies of the classroom teacher?), special ed personnel to “serve” the approximately TWENTY PERCENT classified as “special needs.”
Since administrators don’t pay union dues you focus on that featherbedding – as for the rest, that’s all the more dues revenue to fund the union staff, bosses and the UNISERVE political commissars.
>>Nor would it have happened if Paiva-Weed kept her promise to give us a funding formula.
Gee, you got screwed by the General Assembly? Welcome to the club that the rest of us have been in for decades!
Look at the trendline of educational expenditures in Rhode Island for the past forty years, per pupil, adjust for inflation … and then try to tell us that you’re underfunded – then you won’t be able to deny “this is such a crock.”

mikeinRI
mikeinRI
13 years ago

Pat, your attempts to blame administration and a legislator only add fodder to the cases presented by others on this thread. Is administration a problem? You bet it is. There’s too many and their budgets too large, bad at the municipal level and worse at the state level. How about calling for the elimination of the biggest bureaucratic waste, the US department of education? And what Rep. Paiva-Weed proposed was an acknowledgement of the taxpayers. The well can run dry, and with the amount of taxes paid by RIers, a drought is pretty close to a reality. I love my job Pat. Not only do I love what I do, I get paid fairly, have great benefits, and enough time off to stay energetic and motivated. I appreciate that the teachers before me unionized as a way to ensure this. But we are professionals, and we must look at our students as doctors look at patients. We need to resupply our shelves with books, repair the decaying infrastructure, and invest in significant professional development. We need to lower class size, particularly in urban schools and at lower grade levels. All of this will take money, and commitment. Let’s look at ways to save money. Does administration really need its own building or can space be found within the schools? Do teachers really need 2 personal days a year? Are there administrators or assistants we absolutely don’t need? Do smaller towns really need full time therapists on staff (OT, PT, Speech) or are there more cost efficient ways to offer these services? Is switching health care providers who offer similar coverage too much to ask if it saves a lot of money? It’s not us against them. Everything is not a fight. We need to stop blaming everyone else, but rather,… Read more »

Greg
Greg
13 years ago

I’ve read every comment in this post and I’ve yet to see a SINGLE piece of evidence from the union whores supporting their cause. I’ve seen LOTS of “Your data sucks because somebody I know doesn’t like it” but I haven’t even seen anything to support that OUR data is flawed.
Just more proof that when liberals can’t support their argument with facts they go after the messengers.

Pat Crowley
13 years ago

more from Rand:
Impact of Title I supplemental educational services on student achievement. On
average, across seven districts,2 participation in supplemental educational services had a
statistically significant, positive effect on students’ achievement in reading and math.
Students participating for multiple years experienced larger gains.

Pat Crowley
13 years ago

from a different Rand report:
“Our results from California show that charter schools generally perform
on par with traditional public schools on achievement tests, but they have not closed the
achievement gaps for minorities and have not had the expected competitive effects on traditional
public schools. Charters have achieved comparable test score results with fewer public
resources than traditional schools, and many have emphasized non-core subjects”

Greg
Greg
13 years ago

So Pat, from your quotes there it looks like there’s no DOWNSIDE to school choice.
And citing an OPINION piece as a factual defense for your position is sloppy and of zero value.

Jason Grant
Jason Grant
13 years ago

The union slouches have a favorite tactic that we saw in Cranston with the firefighters.
Whenever a study is done that accurately depicts the excessive cost along with the inferior performance of the union operation, they claim that you can’t compare us to them for whatever dumb reason. In other words, you need to compare us to another bunch of losers so that we don’t look bad.
What a pathetic lot.
People need to stop kidding themselves; no improvement in public education will come about until the union grip is removed. Despite the union mouthpieces claims , the statistics show that the introduction of unions into public education was the catalyst for the demise.

iggy
iggy
13 years ago

“It’s the reading, Stupid!” The attention focused on the union angle of education reform is absurdly overblown. What is of greater consequence is the weakness in our teacher education system. If a teacher is not well educated for the job, it doesn’t matter if she is a union member or teacher at a charter school. The children will not learn. If just a third of the caloric heat directed at the union issue was lit under Rhode Island College instead, we just might get some where. RIC is failing us badly. Two recent reports by the National Council on Teacher Quality are must-reads for local education reform. They detail two critical weaknesses: first and most important, the science of reading instruction is not taught to candidates for elementary level certification at RIC; second, the same candidates are not getting an adequate liberal arts education to equip them to most effectively teach in each of the various content areas. And yet, RIC seems to enjoy a free pass in our media. No questions at all, no criticism. What you get at RIC is the threadbare, century old “Progressive” view from above the clouds, a belief system untouched by the findings of cognitive science and disdainful of the liberal arts. In fact, the only place you can get effective reading science instruction in RI is in those few districts organized by the American Federation of Teachers where administration cooperates and allows the AFT to provide reading professional development to their elementary faculties—Cranston, for example: look up the “Value Added’ performance of Cranston elementary schools since the inception of “Informationworks!” in ’98. Pull on that thread hard. Then go to the AFT’s website and have a look at their reading instruction program, “Teaching Reading is Rocket Science.” By reflexively bashing “unions” you would-be… Read more »

chuckR
chuckR
13 years ago

Union greed, along with such issues as teacher aide and administrator featherbedding, may explain the costs, but wave a magic wand and get rid of these and you still may not achieve a quality education. Administrators and school committees need to grow spines in dealing with not only the unions, but also the parents. Parents who regard schools as free day care may be incorrigible. Litigious parents should be resisted at whatever the cost, as in the long run, it will be cheaper. Your little knucklehead slept though the grading period? Well then, “F” it is. Cutting up in class? Detention, followed if necessary by suspension/expulsion. Do it early enough to instill some discipline before the age when hormones take over. Parochial schools seem to get this right more often than other private schools or public schools. Attending public school is a privilege, not some God-granted right.

Pat Crowley
13 years ago

Greg: Maybe if my other post with a number of other links was up…..
And talk about only reading what you want to. The folks who claim school choice is a panacea simply have no evidence to back the claim.

Greg
Greg
13 years ago

Pat, the palpable fear you union whores have of school choice only reinforces for me that it’s a good idea.

Thomas
Thomas
13 years ago

MikeinRI- Thank you for this: “It’s not us against them. Everything is not a fight. We need to stop blaming everyone else, but rather, look to see how we can be part of the solution.”
SusanD said, “Until we come up with [a merit pay system], all teachers receive the same pay that bad or mediocre teachers should receive.” I generally believe people when they say they are anti-union, not anti teacher, but underpaying good teachers seems pretty harsh to me.
Iggy- I think you’re right to focus on to teacher training. I’d include certification standards. Did you notice in the Chamber report that RI was the ONLY state to receive an F in teacher , largely because it requires neither basic skill nor subject matter examinations. I wonder if the NEA opposes these.
Did anyone notice that, of the 10 states that receive an “F” from the Chamber on student achievement, 7 are also in the bottom (worst) quintile for percent of children in poverty. Of the 10 states which received an A on achievement, six (including MA) are in the top (best) quintile for child poverty. RI is in the 4th (=D) quintile for child poverty, at 33rd in a best-to-worst ranking (US Census Bureau figures from 2005).
The Chamber’s F rating for RI on “return on investment” does control for this, and recognizes that it’s more costly to educate these kids, but their description of their sprecise method of doing this is unclear, at least to me.

Bob Walsh
Bob Walsh
13 years ago

MikeinRI – 1) I agree with you that not everything is a fight, and that we can be part of many solutions. 2) on merit pay, do you believe that your views are those of a majority of your colleagues? If so, it is simple enough for the union to which you belong to advance those proposals in bargaining – in 15 years in this business in RI, I have never seen a management proposal on the topic, and never had a teacher request that it be proposed either.
I would be interested in your personal view on how a merit pay system could work in an effective manner.
SusanD – please tell me you are not suggesting that we accept “bad teachers” as long as we pay tham less. We have enough issues to address without adding that problem to the list.
ChuckR – actaully, attending public school is a right, as decided by the Courts and in most cases, state law (in fact, attending some sort of school is technically a requirement in most states).
Greg – your immature language has earned you a timeout. You sometimes make salient points, which often get lost when you use terms like “union whores.” This is an interesting Blog, with the downside that the threaded discussions often get buried with silly comments like yours. If you think we truly hold all the power, why make it easy for us to ignore you with comments like that?

Thomas
Thomas
13 years ago

Dear Mr. Walsh,
I would be grateful if you would state the position of your organization on testing prospective (and possibly current) teachers. I refer to content examinations for high school (and possibly middle school) teachers, and basic skills tests for elementary (possibly middle school) teachers.
I have had significant experience with the college graduates who become RI teachers, and I believe a fair number of them simply do not know enough to be qualified teachers. Where the fault for this lies is another question, but I think everyone agrees that our teachers ought to have, and be able to demonstrate, the substantive knowledge, as well as the teaching skills, to help our children learn.

greg
greg
13 years ago

It’s meaningless crap exactly like ‘time outs’ that brought up the entitled, disrespectful pieces of garbage your teachers are failing to teach before sending them out into the world confident in the knowledge that they are the most important person in the universe.
You’re a joke.

Thomas
Thomas
13 years ago

psssst…. Greg. You just proved Bob Walsh’s point for him. You might not want to do that.

chuckR
chuckR
13 years ago

Greg – ‘whore’ is not a useful term in the debate on schools
Bob – I know that schools started for the common good of the community and then became institutionalized as you describe. But its not a God-given right and, IIRC, for about 50 years after the Constitution was ratified, any government aid was catch as catch can, so not a Constitutional right either. School should not be day care and further, disruptive kids should be given the boot, either temporarily or permanently. If they come to their senses, there is always adult ed and a GED, if not, we need people who can say – Need any fries with that?
When our 6th grade daughter talked to us about private school, it was because each of her class periods involved settling down the class (10 min), followed by a recapitulation of the the previous days work (15 min) followed by 15 min of new stuff followed by keeping the lid on before the bell (5 min). She was bored to tears. Her main teacher actually recommended the same school we were considering and where she got her secondary ed. If we want to make progress, we need to get tougher. As do the school boards with the unions, the teachers, the kids and the parents. We are at least a half dozen school strikes short of what we needed in the 1990s.
Only slightly OT, one of the first easy things to do is cell phone jamming throughout all schools (currently illegal). The telecom industry wouldn’t approve, would they?

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