[Politics] Public-Sector Unions

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Re: [Politics] Public-Sector Unions

Postby DaCrum » Sat Feb 25, 2012 3:22 pm

RuffDraft wrote:...

This has been bothering me for a little while. Aren't you 19? That's what it says in your profile. How are you a teacher already? Don't you need a minimum of a Bachelors in Education or whatever they're calling that degree nowadays?

I know that's off topic, but it just puzzles me.

I guess the issue we're having is that a small amount of really big (or just a lot in general) of unions have raised a lot of financial concerns and in some states it's either extremely difficult or virtually impossible to fire under-performing teachers (there's a chart somewhere that outlines the process) and meanwhile, teachers fight for--and receive--more wages, better benefits and so on, and test scores do not improve.

In your case, I'm willing to accept that your heart is in the right place and you're just a victim of the system. My question then is, what's the grade point average of the students you teach? If it's low, is there some reason that your kids aren't getting good grades, or do you think you're just not doing a good enough job? I don't know what subject you teach, if you teach young children, older children, how many students are in your classroom how much you are paid, or how much your mortgage is. But none of this should be used as an excuse for poor performance. By the way, this isn't me accusing you of anything; this is me holding you to a high standard and following up with it. As an educator you should expect nothing less, wouldn't you agree? I don't feel I'm being unfair here.


In order to be a teacher, you need, at least in California, a teaching credential from an accredited college, which requires I believe, a Bachelor's in a similar subject field as the credential you're applying for. However, believe it or not, there are other stipend positions which do not require a credential, and typically hire in my age group such as tutors, certain coaching assistants, and, more what I do, captionheads, techs, and other marching band or concert personnel. Which also tend to be the first things cut, come trouble. I can go and win 1st place in every local winter guard circuit, and then still be laid off. I can go, and make my school be state recognized as one of the top marching institutions and watch in May, as another pink slip falls on (probably more my boss's) desk, and my program is threatened.

I can go, and consistently get top awards at SCSBOA competitions, have a group of my students perform in the CBDA All-state Honors band, and have my group grow from 48 to 148 members in the 12 years I was working (while simultaneously the school population dropped 12 percent), and still have someone accuse my program of not meeting standards, and say that my program isn't successful. Obviously, that wasn't me, but I helped deal with that situation. And frankly, yes, it's a two-way street. Turns out after I left my high school, the teacher's union went behind the music teacher's back, and sacrificed his jazz program. Now he doesn't get paid for the jazz class, I believe.

I think I made it readily apparent in my previous post what subject I taught, and that the program I helped run was very successful. I don't understand why you didn't catch that.
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Re: [Politics] Public-Sector Unions

Postby Whatis6times9 » Sat Feb 25, 2012 3:28 pm

You are being unfair, there are a lot of reasons that are out of the teachers hands that actually fall on the students as to why they are underperforming. Inner city school districts would probably have a turnover rate well into the double digits if you were to fire a teacher over a bad year. And where would you get replacements? Inner city districts have a hard enough time retaining and attracting teachers when they can't pay them as well as their suburban counterparts. To say that teachers don't care is flat out wrong, 99% percent of teacher actually do care whether their students can reach up to standards. But when you have students more worried about what ever problems are going on at home than their school work, you're gonna have to expect failures.
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Re: [Politics] Public-Sector Unions

Postby Jay » Sat Feb 25, 2012 5:26 pm

Yeah, honestly.

A good teacher can inspire some kids and perhaps raise performance. But that's a crap shoot because you're only with the kids for half of 10 months for at best an hour-half a day.

What did the teachers do before? What is the kid's situation at home? What is the kid's existing feelings about the subject?

A teacher isn't a factory worker. You don't just work harder on kids and suddenly have them improve. There are so many variables in the process and they're only one figure on a very massive assembly line, even if you wanted to seriously equate teaching to factory work.

It's not possible to accurately judge performance of the teacher without posting individuals to sit in on classes and appraise it (which is subjective too) and that'd create another level of bureaucracy which you clearly don't want.

That's why most discussions focus on material issues like how many children a single teacher handles at a time (classroom size) and having certain activities be counted towards work hours (since unlike most jobs, teaching comes with its own load of "homework" that's entirely uncompensated).

I won't say teacher unions can't get powerful, but it is almost always the few particular ones buttressed by powerful and active soccer-house-mothers, probably in well-to-do suburbian areas where parents have enough idle time to dedicate to making a powerful PTA.

Of course, when the government gets lobbied by the PTA for increased funding for some random crap for their dolls in super schools, you can bet the government isn't actually going to increase the budget huehuehue

It'll just be sapped out of the poorer schools where both parents work and they don't have adequate time or money to make such a powerful lobby.
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Re: [Politics] Public-Sector Unions

Postby EagleMan » Sat Feb 25, 2012 8:31 pm

A company can control its supply, a school cannot, so to apply metrics like you would in capitalism isn't exactly fair.

If you own a company, and you order premium steel, and you get a crap batch, you send it back and get a refund (or sue them). You don't just go ahead and make your product with that bad steel, because then you'd have a bad product. If you're a teacher, and get a batch of bad students, it's not possible to refund them. You have to work with what you have, no matter the quality. Any good businessman has quality control for his ingredients, but this is impossible in the educational system as we must educate everyone. We as a society do not throw out those who are bad students just so we can educate the good ones.

Teachers also aren't a well-off class of people. A teacher makes a bit above 40,000 dollars, which matches the nationwide salary average. A teacher also has to buy school supplies however (in my high school years, the budget for school supplies for a teacher had been cut to zero, and the number of paper they can print on school cost cut to 100 sheets). So a teacher pretty much had to buy all school supplies and print out all papers on their own dime, because the syllabus already takes all their paper away.
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Re: [Politics] Public-Sector Unions

Postby Rough Giraffe » Sat Feb 25, 2012 9:50 pm

@DaCrum: Oh. Music teacher. I don't know, somehow I must have skipped over the word "music" there. Weird.

Whatis6times9 wrote:You are being unfair, there are a lot of reasons that are out of the teachers hands that actually fall on the students as to why they are underperforming.
Well, I've personally heard teachers that try to make excuses for themselves, and I guess that kind of jades my perspective on the issue. However, if you are a teacher, you MUST be held to a high standard in order for there to be any incentive to improve if there is a problem. Part of the problem with being held to a high standard is the job security that many of them get either fairly or unfairly. That's more of a disincentive. And again, it doesn't happen everywhere, certainly. Just enough.

Whatis6times9 wrote:Inner city school districts would probably have a turnover rate well into the double digits if you were to fire a teacher over a bad year. And where would you get replacements? Inner city districts have a hard enough time retaining and attracting teachers when they can't pay them as well as their suburban counterparts. To say that teachers don't care is flat out wrong, 99% percent of teacher actually do care whether their students can reach up to standards. But when you have students more worried about what ever problems are going on at home than their school work, you're gonna have to expect failures.
Sure, problems at home might contribute to bad schooling, however, some ways of thinking are that bad schools are more influential to creating bad neighborhoods in the first place. If we consider that both ways of thinking are correct, then bad schooling over time creates worse and worse neighborhoods. But if only one of those is true, perhaps there's another answer.

Are you familiar with KIPP? The Knowledge Is Power Program? It's a variety of charter schools across the country. It started as a response to the idea that some kids just can't be taught (you know, poor kids vs. rich kids whose parents can afford good schooling). KIPP has managed to prove that regardless of home life, kids can be taught and that the "bad neighborhoods" don't necessarily mean that academics will be bad.

It should interest you to know that 95% of KIPP students graduate High School, and about 85% of them go on to college; about 85% of these students are from low-income families, and 95% of them are minorities.

Is it then possible that the problem isn't the children, but the schools?
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Re: [Politics] Public-Sector Unions

Postby Whatis6times9 » Sat Feb 25, 2012 11:08 pm

Kipp also gets about 13 grand a year per student in taxpayer and another 6 from donors. Thats over a grand more than public schools get in tax money and over 3 grand more than other charter schools. Also Kipp fudges their numbers because they lose 15% of students a year in middle school and guess which kids "leave" the school that's right the underperformers. source

How about maybe the underperforming schools can only hire the worst teachers because they have no other choice when the best teachers can pick to go to better schools in the district or even go to schools in the suburbs that pay better and have students who aren't carrying the same baggage. And again you are acting as if teachers enjoy having their kids fail, you're acting as if the districts enjoy struggling compared to other districts. No one gets into teaching for the money, there is no money in it especially in city districts. Also, way to blow past all of Jay's points.
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Re: [Politics] Public-Sector Unions

Postby Sentios » Sun Feb 26, 2012 12:23 am

Whatis6times9 wrote:You are being unfair, there are a lot of reasons that are out of the teachers hands that actually fall on the students as to why they are underperforming. Inner city school districts would probably have a turnover rate well into the double digits if you were to fire a teacher over a bad year. And where would you get replacements? Inner city districts have a hard enough time retaining and attracting teachers when they can't pay them as well as their suburban counterparts. To say that teachers don't care is flat out wrong, 99% percent of teacher actually do care whether their students can reach up to standards. But when you have students more worried about what ever problems are going on at home than their school work, you're gonna have to expect failures.


Doesn't explain why inner city charter schools do better than inner city public schools. It's a teacher's job to get the knowledge into the head of the troubled kids; otherwise we could just have study hall all the time and sack the teachers.

Don't get me wrong a lot of the problems are from standardization measures but don't lose track of why we need teachers at all.
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Re: [Politics] Public-Sector Unions

Postby Whatis6times9 » Sun Feb 26, 2012 1:05 am

Many charter schools have special admission requirements that aren't required of public schools or specialize in teaching methods that would probably not be approved by the district. And no matter how good of a teacher you are gonna have kids who you can't reach or parents who won't hold their kids accountable. Couple that to a district that won't allow or can't allow alternative methods because of no child left behind and you might as well just give kids their text books and work books, send them home for the rest of the year and tell them what assignments they have to mail in weekly.
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Re: [Politics] Public-Sector Unions

Postby Rough Giraffe » Sun Feb 26, 2012 6:24 am

Whatis6times9 wrote:Kipp also gets about 13 grand a year per student in taxpayer and another 6 from donors. Thats over a grand more than public schools get in tax money and over 3 grand more than other charter schools.
Well as I said before, studies have shown that there is no correlation between spending on education and test scores, so perhaps there's some reason other than money to believe the schools are doing better?

Whatis6times9 wrote:Also Kipp fudges their numbers because they lose 15% of students a year in middle school and guess which kids "leave" the school that's right the underperformers. source
Well even if that's true, isn't 85% a significantly HIGHER graduation rate than the inner-city schools that politicians have been trying to fix for years but that remain stagnant? In 2010, Mathematics Policy Research stated the following:
Using a matched comparison group design, results show that for the vast majority of KIPP schools in the evaluation, impacts on students’ state assessment scores in math and reading are positive, statistically significant, and educationally substantial.
I think this proves that, at the very least, they are doing something right.

Whatis6times9 wrote:How about maybe the underperforming schools can only hire the worst teachers because they have no other choice when the best teachers can pick to go to better schools in the district or even go to schools in the suburbs that pay better and have students who aren't carrying the same baggage.
The KIPP schools started in the worst-performing districts in Houston, TX and South Bronx, NY. Those schools started with your standard budget and systematically outperformed every school in the district. Maybe it's because they found teachers in that district who cared and separated them from schools that, as a whole, didn't. If you look in any inner-city school, you'll find teachers that care. However, you'll also find teachers who don't, or don't care enough. A few gems in a pile of turds isn't going to look pretty.

Whatis6times9 wrote:And again you are acting as if teachers enjoy having their kids fail, you're acting as if the districts enjoy struggling compared to other districts.
Under no circumstances. I merely made a simple observation. Bad schooling leads to bad neighborhoods and bad neighborhoods worsen the overall problem. I'd like to know what I said that makes you think I think that.

Whatis6times9 wrote:No one gets into teaching for the money, there is no money in it especially in city districts.
Well if that's true, then why are so many districts failing? If that were true, wouldn't more teachers put more of an effort into helping their kids succeed? As it stands, the vast majority of public school teachers only do what is required of them and hardly ever even talk to the students outside of class. In my high school, I could only name about 10% of the faculty that seemed to put in any extra effort, and one of those teachers was blind. Like, literally blind, and he still managed to do his job very well.

Whatis6times9 wrote:Also, way to blow past all of Jay's points.
Because I agreed with most of them, and didn't see any reason to argue.

@Jay: At Whatis' insistence, I agree with most of what you are saying and see no reason to argue.
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Re: [Politics] Public-Sector Unions

Postby Whatis6times9 » Sun Feb 26, 2012 11:50 am

It's pretty easy to have a high success rating when you pruned out the under performers before they can reach high school, yeah sure they accept kids no matter the background but when 60% are leaving between the start of middle school and the start of high school their is a huge numbers game being played to keep up those high numbers. Bad neighborhoods have always been around. The problem has become that the kids and parents have treated high school in particular as a daycare. And what is the point for the students to try to achieve when a degree from a bad high school is worthless, a 4.0 from one of the worst high schools is roughly equivalent to a 2.8 from the best? Also have you considered that charters have the advantage of not being stuck teaching at a pace decided by the school district with methods decided by the school district? No Child Left Behind has also been a root cause in some of the problems, many districts in a position where they all the schools have to match a pace, the problem is that pace has left the high performing schools to be at a gruelingly slow pace, but it has also left the under performers on a track that the teachers can't venture off of to better explain a concept or take some more time out of the period to address the students on a one on one basis like they used to be able to. And again you continue to treat teachers as if they are factory line workers where if the just put in a little more effort their productivity will go up. How can you teach to someone who doesn't care about what you are trying to teach them? It can't just be more effort because at the end some kids will never care how much effort you are putting in? Also if you were to ease the firing procedure how would replace all the teacher who would wind up being fired?
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Re: [Politics] Public-Sector Unions

Postby DaCrum » Sun Feb 26, 2012 3:50 pm

I know at my high school we had effectively a 100% graduation rate. If you weren't going to graduate, the semester before graduation you'd be transferred to a continuation school. :trollface:
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Re: [Politics] Public-Sector Unions

Postby Saint Soul » Tue Feb 28, 2012 3:56 pm

Sentios wrote:
Whatis6times9 wrote:You are being unfair, there are a lot of reasons that are out of the teachers hands that actually fall on the students as to why they are underperforming. Inner city school districts would probably have a turnover rate well into the double digits if you were to fire a teacher over a bad year. And where would you get replacements? Inner city districts have a hard enough time retaining and attracting teachers when they can't pay them as well as their suburban counterparts. To say that teachers don't care is flat out wrong, 99% percent of teacher actually do care whether their students can reach up to standards. But when you have students more worried about what ever problems are going on at home than their school work, you're gonna have to expect failures.


Doesn't explain why inner city charter schools do better than inner city public schools. It's a teacher's job to get the knowledge into the head of the troubled kids; otherwise we could just have study hall all the time and sack the teachers.

Don't get me wrong a lot of the problems are from standardization measures but don't lose track of why we need teachers at all.


Graduating from an inner city charter school i can attest that much of the effort lies in the student. Only a third of the effort came from my teachers. the end result 97 percent of my class graduated.
The teaches didnt do much outside of well their job and hell some kids where in and out of jail and still graduated.
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Re: [Politics] Public-Sector Unions

Postby DaCrum » Fri Mar 02, 2012 8:22 pm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U

Here's a big thing about education and education theory to help you sort of understand what's wrong with education. I hope you can sort of get what we're saying when we mean that the problems in education aren't necessarily the teachers. Nor the students. We are working with a decrepit and obsolete educational system, designed with something strange and outdated in mind, a remnant of the ancien regime.
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Re: [Politics] Public-Sector Unions

Postby Sentios » Fri Mar 02, 2012 10:36 pm

I do love RSA, they have a lot of great TEDs. While we're going off topic with this I can't pass up the opportunity to put up other education related videos. First up is one of his more recent talks.

http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/sir_ke ... ution.html

http://www.ted.com/talks/sugata_mitra_s ... elves.html

http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/conrad ... uters.html

http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_meyer_math ... eover.html
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Re: [Politics] Public-Sector Unions

Postby Jay » Sat Mar 03, 2012 12:03 am

DaCrum wrote:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U

Here's a big thing about education and education theory to help you sort of understand what's wrong with education. I hope you can sort of get what we're saying when we mean that the problems in education aren't necessarily the teachers. Nor the students. We are working with a decrepit and obsolete educational system, designed with something strange and outdated in mind, a remnant of the ancien regime.

The ancien regime would be what comes before that, really. The industrial pattern that public education follows is more a remnant of society that's economically dependent on heavy and light industries (none of this contemporary crap about economies of ideas).

So it's post-ancien regime (aristocrats and absolute monarchs have no real picture here) and more a thing of big capitalism. Like, when guys like Rockerfeller could exist, with no government regulation of industry standards at all and didn't impose any restrictions against monopolies.

Or really, it was useful right up until the US stopped becoming a primarily manufacturing economy
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Re: [Politics] Public-Sector Unions

Postby DaCrum » Sat Mar 03, 2012 1:10 am

I was using ancien regime more as a figure of speech, really. Strange use I guess. :/
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Re: [Politics] Public-Sector Unions

Postby Rival » Sat Mar 03, 2012 7:56 am

Well, it's not entirely incorrect, since the first country to introduce compulsory education, if I recall correctly, was Prussia during Frederick II's reign and then Empress Maria Theresa in Austria followed suit. And at that point the Industrial Revolution was only just starting up in the Kingdom of Great Britain.

But that's just compulsory schooling. The whole "only one right answer" and "stay focused and learn stuff, even if it bores you" education system the youtube video you've linked, talks about, is(mostly) based on the schooling system developed in II Reich Germany 1871-1914, which had a heavily industrialised, nationalized and monopolized capitalist economy focused on manufacturing.

And as Jay said, the system did work when manufacturing was most important. Case in point, one of the reasons Meiji Era Japan modernized so efficiently from a feudal state to a modern(at that time) industrialised state, was because the Iwakura Mission recommended copying the German model of the public schooling system.
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