Individuals in a Package Deal

In the midst of a very edifying conversation in the comments section of my “Powers and Victims” post, Tiverton teacher Ed Davis offers the following significant perspective:

You’re right, no one is forcing us to work here. Unfortunately, I saw this philosophy take hold in the school system my son attended. Many of the good young teachers, in the critical areas of math and science, left for better paying jobs. This is beginning to happen in Tiverton.

Doesn’t that just highlight the spectacularly inappropriate setting that unions create within the public school system? In order to keep well qualified and fresh teachers covering central subjects, the school must hand out raises across the board. The cost of giving a young science whiz a 5% raise (beyond steps) can turn out to be hundreds of thousands of dollars.
That is plainly insane, and plainly indicative of the detriment that unions present to our children.

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thinkaboutit
thinkaboutit
12 years ago

Why can’t we just have base scales (lower than they are now, by the way) and then add in incentives for (1) target areas such as math and science, and (2) performance bonuses based on agreed upon goals, and (3) discretionary bonuses by supervisors.
Is this one of those ideas that could never work given the contract?
Wouldn’t that solve many problems?

Ragin' Rhode Islander
Ragin' Rhode Islander
12 years ago

Would you want your surgeon selected based upon seniority rather than skill and specialization?
Of course not.
Another example of why unionized teachers claims of being a “professional” ring so hollow.
But hey, like building the “self esteem” of the illiterates that they produce, calling themselves “professionals” helps avoid having to confront the fraud.

Frank
Frank
12 years ago

Regarding Ed Davis’s comment.
The high performing moniker that the RI Dept of Ed created is very misleading. Every district with both feet out of the “urban core” is high performing according to this top notch assessment system. The assessment itself isn’t even a test of high performance, it is a pass/fail test.
Where are the facts on the lowest or highest paid teachers our in the state (ignoring for the moment the relevancy of which district has the highest paid teachers)? I would like to see them. Are there average teacher salaries for each district? Are these the facts he speaks of? Why did he not produce these facts?

Ed Davis
Ed Davis
12 years ago

Justin, A conversation started around me! Do I get one of those cool Photoshop pictures? No system is perfect! I am not going to insult your visitor’s intelligence, by denying this fact that we could improve our schools. However, I speak with a voice of experience having attended private schools until the age of 14, and being in this profession for 3 decades. You are comparing two types of learning institutions that do not follow the same rules. You constantly refer to the superiority of private schools with regards to achievement. Do these private schools have the same percentage of “at risk” students, the same number of students with special needs, or the same number with behavioral problems? I think not. If you want to boast of their superiority you should at least give mention to this critical difference. In many private schools, if you don’t shape up, you are gone. We, as public school educators, do not have that luxury. As far as test scores, not only do our students not take them seriously, but I have had many parents, tell me, “Why does my kid have to take that stupid state test, it is a waste of time.” Justin,I might not agree with your views but I know you are a consciences parent who cares about the education of your children. Not all of the parents I have encountered are like you. Frank, Thanks for making the point about urban schools. During the debate at the state level it was brought to the governor’s attention that the rural schools in our state all tested at or above the state average. It was the performance of the urban schools, that are under funded, that dragged the state average down. Maybe the DOE ranks these non urban schools as high… Read more »

Justin Katz
12 years ago

Ed,
You miss my point regarding private schools. I’m not parading them as the superior system so much as pointing out that RI public education is driving more, and less innately wealthy, parents toward that option. I’m also advocating that we leverage the existence of a private school system to introduce competition and accountability to public education writ large. In the meantime (and as part of that effort), I’m suggesting that parents who believe that a particular private school would be a superior option for their children to be enabled to some degree with the funds allocated for the education of those children.

rhody
rhody
12 years ago

Funny, I thought conservatives liked capitalism.
There’s nothing Marxist about leaving for a better-paying job. If you’re gonna get slammed on blogs and talk radio, you might as well get top dollar for it, right?

Justin Katz
12 years ago

Rhody,
I’m becoming concerned about you; your comments are increasingly head-shakers. I’ve got no problem with people leaving for better jobs. I’ve got a problem with a system that prevents school districts from competing to keep them because they have to give every teacher in the district a raise in order to do so.

thinkaboutit
thinkaboutit
12 years ago

Ed – If you could please respond to my idea about the base scales plus incentives based on target subjects, agreed goals, supervisory discretion, etc., I would appreciate your perspective. Thank you.

rhody
rhody
12 years ago

Justin, what’s there to be concerned about? You and I, with families and mortgages to worry about, both would leave our current jobs in a flash if someone down the street offered us more money.
I just don’t think we should get our self-righteous on when someone else does the same thing (unless you want science teachers removed from collective bargaining and put under contract by individual schools, in which case these people could end up getting much more than union scale).
Just think about the consequences of that happening.

Justin Katz
12 years ago

Rhody,
I’m beginning to think you’re being deliberately obtuse. I have no problems with the teachers’ actions, in that regard. I have a problem with a system that binds the hands of school districts that would like to take steps to counter any other offers on an individual basis.

Ed Davis
Ed Davis
12 years ago

Thinkaboutit, Just some thoughts, not trying to debate you! I have not thought about a lot of those ideas, but I’ll give it a try…………….. My comments are based more around the influencing factors, questions that need to be answered, not solutions. I think as we get more models to look at, you will see methods such as those, tried at in alternative/non-traditional settings. Base scales lower than they are now, with incentives: Our pay is a hotly discussed issue. I do not know all the facts regarding the future of recruitment, and what the trends are. There are a lot of conflicting opinions on this matter. As teachers become more and more under fire, will young people still choose this career? Pay effects recruitment, in any field. Some college students leave education programs because they look at the 10 year advancing scale as too long a time to reach max. A lot of people promote a state wide teacher scale. According to one of the governor’s former advisor’s, who is an acquaintance of mine, this legislation has made little progress. In his words, “Once it is considered for legislation, the more affluent communities quickly squelch it because they do not want to fund the poorer communities, and they don’t want to loose their monopoly on the teaching talent pool.” Plus, this lower pay scale would make it difficult for communities in the Western part of the state who have to compete with Connecticut’s pay scale, #1 in the country. Probably not what you want to hear, but a perspective worth consideration, when looking at this subject from all angles. Discretionary bonuses by supervisors:My perspective is biased, I admit it, but I taught in an era where supervisors pretty much called the shots, and promotions were easy to figure out;… Read more »

thinkaboutit
thinkaboutit
12 years ago

Ed – Good stuff – thank you. I will digest this. Also, just fyi, I happen to think unions are a particularly good thing for fighting arbitrary supervisory actions. I think all workers deserve such protection.

Ed Davis
Ed Davis
12 years ago

thinkaboutit
You’re welcome!
ED

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