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View Diary: Arne Duncan ignores reality to embrace attacks on teachers (158 comments)

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  •  Consider my friend's dad, a Black man. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    He's old enough to have experienced Jim Crow in the south. But he lived his whole life in the north. Even though he was never actually denied service at a restaurant in Alabama, the fact that he couldn't even consider travel to Alabama was a violation of his rights.

    If you look at the pattern created by the California system, it is clear that bad teachers tend to be concentrated in poor neighborhoods.

    These are the neighborhoods that should be getting the best teachers. Not the worst.

    But there is good news for the California Teacher's Unions!  Since this is a Civil Rights case, the remedy is easy. Just allow teachers to be assigned to particular schools based on need rather than seniority.

    I won't hold my breath, though....

    •  Perhaps we could also have the best doctors (11+ / 0-)

      assigned to the least healthy areas? The best lawyers assigned to the neediest (least wealthy) communities?

      Of course, they'd have to live there, so you're also advocating that people be forced to relocate based on their relative skill set...

      Let's see - since the strongest indicator of performance is correlated with wealth, that would mean that the best teachers would have to live in the poorest areas, and logically the worst teachers would have to live in the wealthiest areas, or face enforced commuting time and costs.

      Are you sure you want to run with this idea?

      •  If a teacher... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        ...does not want to go where they are needed, they can quit.

        The needs of the students come first.

        If teachers demand "combat pay" for teaching in tough schools, that's OK. We'll talk about it at the next contract negotiation.

        But needs of the students come first.

        •  Forced relocation first, then we'll negotiate. (8+ / 0-)

          I see.

          How do you see that working, exactly? Do you think it is "politically feasible", another of your perpetual arguments?

          If not, why are you contradicting your own position that we should be working on "possible" solutions?

          •  What would *YOU* suggest? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            We need to get better teachers into the poor districts. But teachers hate teaching poor children. They like to teach rich children.

            We can't pay the best teachers special incentives because the unions block "combat pay" and "merit pay" proposals.

            I think it's politically feasible for the Union to allow teachers in tough schools who show good results to get more money.

            The political alternative is to have millions of Black and Brown voters abandon the Democratic coalition. Then the teachers' union will simply be outlawed, Wisconsin-style.

            (Not to mention the collateral political damage of a right-wing victory: Environment, equality, LGBT rights, taxation...we lose it all because the Teachers were too stubborn to give a little.)

            •  Another winning argument (11+ / 0-)
              - - - - - We need to get better teachers into the poor districts. But teachers hate teaching poor children. They like to teach rich children. - - - - -
              Around college graduatin' time no small number of my peers (1) obtained teaching certificates (2) sought and took positions in difficult schools, including very poor inner city areas.  Although a few years have passed since then I think you will find that to this day a substantial proportion of the best and brightest who become teachers head for the challenge of the most difficut areas.

              And they will meet the same fate as my peers:  utterly burned out after 2-4 years due to the unrelenting effects of poverty, lack of resources, and lack of supporting social structure.  To which is now added unrelenting hostility from the political establishment, now including the Democratic establishment right up to the White House.  They loved the kids, loved helping them make progress, loved helping the community; what they couldn't (and presumably can't) stand was the unrelenting hostility of surrounding society.  

              Sound familiar?


              •  It should sound familiar. It's what he's been (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                jbsoul, Darth Stateworker, redwagon

                advocating for for at least a decade now, via VAM, charter schools, and now forced relocation.

                Also include willful ignorance, since he deliberately refrains from responding to points substantiated by various links (a practice also going back a decade or so), and a refusal to look beyond his own territory, NYC.

                Add it all up, and I'm not sure what you've got, but it ain't pretty.

              •  SO maybe we should hate them more? (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                >They loved the kids, loved helping them make progress, >loved helping the community; what they couldn't (and >presumably can't) stand was the unrelenting hostility of >surrounding society.

                And pay them less. Also, more contempt. That seems to be the Obama policy.

          •  Forced relocation but only female domains (0+ / 0-)

            Nurses, teachers .. forced relocation.

            Bankers ... not so much.

        •  And they will and they do (7+ / 0-)

          especially since the test scores of poor, unprepared children in under-resourced schools are used to rank the teachers. In fact, quality teachers are flooding out of the profession and young people are bypassing it. So you win. They're quitting or not choosing teaching at all. What's your next bad idea?

          Ed FitzGerald for governor Of Ohio. Women's lives depend on it.

          by anastasia p on Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 05:58:46 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  You cannot empower students when (5+ / 0-)

          you give them teachers who have no respect from people like you, parents like you.....

          What you want is servants to teach what YOU think YOUR child needs.  You do not seem to care about the person in front of the children being a professional....just someone who YOU decide by some magical criteria is good or bad.

          Give me a break.

          There is no magic teacher who works well with all students all the time.   That is just ridiculous.  

          The needs of the children are met when the needs of the teachers are met:  <em>small classes; appropriate placement; autonomy and trust in the classroom; adequate supplies and materials and STRONG BACKING from administrators and parents. When parents are trashing the teachers, trashing education, why should children be any different.

          Sorry Mahattan Man but your anti teacher diatribes are getting old and repetitive.

          “We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both.” Louis D. Brandeis

          by Jjc2006 on Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 06:50:48 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Wow. Sounds like Someone Else's Program... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sethtriggs, bryduck

          Forced Relocation. Then we will negotiate the terms of your slavery.

          Excellent, Manhattan.

          Should we do that for students too? OH OOPSS! We tried that in Boston and there was a near revolution followed by White Flight in the 1970s. Thats out. SO.. just do it to the "serfs" who cannot object, because in the Corporate World, employees have no say about the management of their work. Bust the Unions, and they can move to Germany where Unions are Mandated. Yet.. the Unions were mandated for a reason... hmmmm.. remember that little historical event?

          You sir, are the Perfect totalitarian. Wrong decade, but nonetheless, perfect.

          Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

          by OregonOak on Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 07:36:18 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Students first (0+ / 0-)

          Beware of any group that adopts a motto like this. Like "right to work", it is a false slogan. Students first sets up kids against the rights of adults who teach them. This contest has no winners except those who want to weaken labor and make money off education. Kids become adults. Adults need good jobs. Vergara and the people who support it are intent on taking 4 million good middle class jobs and turning them into low wage, no security jobs. Perfect.

          •  Then give me a better idea. (0+ / 0-)

            Remember that the California lawsuit focused on the disparity between teachers at poor schools and rich schools. If we find a way to cure this, then tenure can be preserved.

            Let's figure out a way to get some of the better teachers into the worst schools. It is better if we come up with a plan, rather than to have no new ideas and cede the field to the Republicans.

            What is our plan?

            •  Still putting the cart before the horse. (0+ / 0-)

              The reason that poor districts do less well than wealthy districts has much more to do with living conditions than with the quality of the teachers, as nearly every study on the subject admits. Even PISA, when the data is compared properly on economic conditions, shows that.

              So you are merely advocating treating a symptom, rather than the disease.

              If you really want to promote something useful, try changing your focus to promoting economic equality, instead of calling for chaining teachers to their desks.

      •  well, for public employee docs that often happens (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Do you think CDC infectious disease docs get assigned to Hawaii or Baltimore?  Ireland or Uganda?

        Even at the local level, public health physicians don't get to pick which part of the city or county they get assigned to.  They  get assigned where the need is greatest.

        •  CDC docs are signing up for exactly that situation (7+ / 0-)

          as do public health physicians. It's part of the package, and they know it. And are paid accordingly:

          Physicians who work in the public health sector have a varying salary. Entry level physicians typically make about $80,000 per year. Doctors who are in the middle of their career usually will make about $150,000. Physicians who are at the senior level will make at least $200,000 a year.
          Teachers are looking at a career, with a home, a family, and a national median salary of about 40K.

          Are you really saying these situations are alike?

          •  the question was about whether they get to choose (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ManhattanMan, Justanothernyer

            where they work within the government organization who employs them (or how those determinations are made).  Of course there are other differences between physicians and teachers.   You brought doctors into it.

            I think you are using some very old data for teachers.  The avg is more like $56,000.



          •  This isn't about money. (0+ / 0-)

            If the schools improved, society would gladly pay teachers more.

            •  That explains it! (5+ / 0-)

              That explains it!  Why wealthy school districts only pay their teachers 1/3 of what schools in disadvantaged neighborhoods pay.

              For example, in my metro area the city district pays a teacher with 5 years experience ~35,000, while Wealthy Exurban District pays $85,000... wait... something doesn't seem to match your theory.


              •  No, it matches my theory exactly. (0+ / 0-)

                Those wealthy parents are willing to pay huge property taxes and housing costs because they are getting good schools.

                •  Society consists of wealthy parents? (0+ / 0-)

                  News to me. I thought society was everybody, including those with no kids, let alone kids in school.

                  That's why it is so easy to get mill levies passed in every school district, because society recognizes the need for an educated populace and gladly donates money toward educating other people's children, right?

                  By the same token, I guess those wealthy parents would be ecstatic to live in a complete shithole, rampant with drugs, crime, and decaying rubble, only provided it is a district with a good school.


            •  So vague. IF schools improved... (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Joe Hill PDX, sethtriggs, drmah

              How about teaching a year in a major High School, Manhattan? You can shadow me and I can save your arrogant butt every day from the demands of students taught to disrespect and disregard teachers by the likes of you..

              You are the problem. You are by word and deed, making teaching a devalued occupation, and the remedy is clear. You need to teach in my high school for a year.

              Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

              by OregonOak on Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 07:40:29 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  You have that exactly, 100%, backwards. (0+ / 0-)

              It is all about money. Talk to a teacher one day, because it seems obvious that you have yet to do so.

              "Lone catch of the moon, the roots of the sigh of an idea there will be the outcome may be why?"--from a spam diary entitled "The Vast World."

              by bryduck on Wed Jun 18, 2014 at 09:41:14 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Let me parse this out. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            "CDC docs are signing up for exactly that situation as do public health physicians. It's part of the package, and they know it. And are paid accordingly".
            1) It's not about money. Every time we try to offer "combat pay" to teachers in tough schools, the Unions shoot it down. Why, I have no freakin' clue. There is probably a complicated game theory negotiating reason for it. But they shoot it down.

            2) If the current crop of teachers did not "sign up for" teaching the most needy kids then I respectfully submit that we need some new teachers.

            •  It's simple: teaching is a career for life. (5+ / 0-)

              Except for certain unusual individuals, a lifetime of transient homes is not appealing.

              1) "Combat pay" doesn't help when it is tied to a requirement of giving up security. It's a bullshit argument, and you know it. As a class, career teachers are not trying to get rich; they want to teach, period. A minor pay increase in exchange for the foregone conclusion of losing their current position in the near future is just stupid, and teachers, at least, are smart enough to know it.

              2) Do you expect all professionals to be so altruistic? If so, I would suggest you start with Wall Street. If they did not sign up to improve the financial fortunes of all Americans, the we need some new financiers.

              If all doctors did not become doctors to serve the most needy, least wealthy people, then we should can them all and get new ones.

              If all lawyers did not become lawyers to bring justice to all, no matter their ability to pay, then we should revoke all their licenses and get new ones.

              See how stupid that particular argument is? It's an appeal to emotion, a classic logical fallacy -- which I suspect you know, and are simply trying out as your argument du jour.

              Better try again. Your ammunition seems to be weakening.

              •  No... (0+ / 0-)

                ...the "combat pay" is not tied to less security. The "merit pay" is, but that is a different beast.

                When I say, "we need some new teachers", I'm just talking about teachers for the tough schools. The teachers who are happy in the rich suburbs can stay put.

                We need to seek out and find teachers (new and old) who want to try tough schools. We should sweeten the deal with extra cash and privileges.

                But the Unions block these proposals.

                •  Every reform proposal I've seen that includes (0+ / 0-)

                  "combat pay", or improved salaries, also generally include provisions weakening job protections. If you have some new proposal that simply offers higher salaries for teaching in disadvantaged areas, period, with no other caveats, I'm all ears.

                  If you can provide a link to such a proposal that a union has blocked, I'd love to see it.

    •  Assigned? (7+ / 0-)

      Teachers aren't "assigned" to work at schools. Teachers are generally much more intelligent than whomever would be doing the so-called "assigning" in the first place.

      Such corporate rhetoric about education, which is a community service. Teaching isn't Silicon Valley. It's not glamorous. You're in the trenches.

      I teach at a public university in California. I am paid below minimum wage when you work it out. No one assigned me to my job. I have other skill sets too. I also work with students who are deemed "remedial." I do so because I can help these students to become more educated and more financially stable, both of which I believe are important for young Californians right now.

      Again, such strange rhetoric, as if the school system was a corporation.

      Click the ♥ to join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news & views written from a black pov - everyone is welcome.

      by mahakali overdrive on Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 02:20:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No, you're *not*... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Victor Ward

        ..."in the trenches".

        The problem is that schools in bad neighborhoods have difficulty finding teachers.

        The Seniority System in California allows the most experienced teachers to flee to the rich areas.

        This systematically denies education to poor and minority children.

        If teachers were, "in the trenches", there'd be no problem. But the trouble is they flee the trenches as soon as they get seniority!

        And it is the inner-city kids who suffer.

        •  Do not tell me where or who or what (6+ / 0-)

          I am.

          I'm quite sure I am more aware of that than you. While there is a connotation of war embedded in the phrase, it's certainly not unwarranted in terms of speaking about ones' responsibility to other human beings' lives... literally and materially because education can be the absolute difference between dire poverty and employability. Likewise, it can be the difference between being able to make critical decisions in ones' life to not being able to do so, some of which can also materially impact a person in huge ways. I, like many human beings, see education as the one thing that can truly make a difference. That is why NGO's and such worldwide prioritize literacy advocacy, for example. It may seem like a small thing to some, but many of the students I work with are profoundly disadvantaged by their language backgrounds and cannot gain employment due to it. Thus school.

          And I have no idea what you mean by fleeing the trenches once a teacher gains seniority. I'm a non-tenure track adjunct professor married to a fully tenured professor. Neither one of us holds a very different attitude toward our work. My partner has had vastly superior job offers in other places, but we cannot move because I am raising a child with another previous husband. Like all people, most teachers have life situations that dictate constraints on them.

          But all this aside, your words paint a Republican-esque caricature of teachers. Why? Where did you acquire your stock point of view? It's intriguing.

          Click the ♥ to join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news & views written from a black pov - everyone is welcome.

          by mahakali overdrive on Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 06:24:25 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  From Wall Street, is my guess. (5+ / 0-)
            But all this aside, your words paint a Republican-esque caricature of teachers. Why? Where did you acquire your stock point of view? It's intriguing.
            From his profile:
            Former Wall Streeter.

            Now works in education...some may think this implies a "vested interest" in educational policy, so it's disclosed here.

            Lives in Manhattan with wife and daughter.

            Is also a landlord.

            It's possible it's just a natural attitude with him, and helped him migrate to Wall Street. But it is certain that all his arguments lead to privatization of public education. Draw your own conclusions.
          •  The statistics say... (0+ / 0-)

            ...that teachers flee.

            Inexperienced and non-tenured teachers are concentrated in the inner-city.  Those are the numbers.

            I don't blame teachers for avoiding tough schools. Teachers are making a rational, value-maximizing, fact-based decision when they flee inner-city schools.

            What I want to know is how can we change the calculus of that decision?

        •  You dont understand, Manhattan. (5+ / 0-)

          As a teacher in a high school, you are aware that at any moment, any student can go Galt, go Postal, go Off, go Antisocial, go Teaparty, or merely go sarcastic.

          If the mood is right, it is possible, and it happens, that riots ensue with people hurt.

          Teaching is not teaching content matter. It is crowd management, politics, administration of justice, counseling, diversion, intervention, storytelling AND in between, teaching content WHILE you are doing all those things.

          Yes, it IS the trenches. I have been in both and the analogy is totally apt.

          You do not know what you are talking about.

          Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

          by OregonOak on Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 07:44:26 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I don't claim to believe... (0+ / 0-)

   is easy. I know it's not. That's why I'm not a teacher.

            But it has to get done. We need teachers for these tough schools. How should we do it? Offer money? Give awards and medals? I am a Wall Street guy, so my bias is to hand out cash.

            But there may be better ways. There have got to be.

            One thing I think we can all agree on is that the status quo doesn't work. The first step is recognizing there's a problem.

            •  I dont know where you get your atitude.. (0+ / 0-)

              "One thing I think we can all agree on is that the status quo doesn't work. The first step is recognizing there's a problem."

              There are individual teachers, and individual administrators, and individual school boards, and individual state legislatures and individual citizens.. who are a problem.

              But to then assume that you can do something about that by Setting Fire to the System is just plain wrong. This is Arne and Barack's solution, and they will lose FAR more than they gain.

              To my mind, there is a systemic improvement which will over the long term make education better.

              STOP TEACHER BASHING. The students hear it, and they act accordingly. It is self fulfilling.
              THEY PAY TEACHERS A PROFESSIONAL SALARY.. commensurate with the highest paid professionals in the country.
              EVALUATE THEM ON REAL VARIABLES. Content is the smallest part of what young people and adolescents need. They are trying to learn how to be human beings, and so rate teachers on how well they teach THAT! THat is education. Anything else is merely training.

              Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

              by OregonOak on Wed Jun 18, 2014 at 12:04:59 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  And FURTHERMORE.... (0+ / 0-)

              If you paid me 12 dollars per student per day, that is two dollars per student per hour, I would make.. $900.00 per day.

              I make less than 300 per day, at the top of the scale, after 32 years of teaching.

              And there, in a nutshell, is the problem. There never HAVE BEEN millions of talented, informed, articulate and altruistic enough people in this country to do that work for that pay.

              IF you believe in Market Solutions for punishment consequences, then you must also believe in Market Solutions for incentives. You only want it one way.. Consequences first, then talk about incentives. We know it doesnt work that way. Under your scheme, we will never get to talk at all about incentives. There is no way to bring any power to the table. Slaves have no power, remember?

              Incentives first. I want to make what the average Real Estate Broker makes in my community for tearing up the landscape and destroying the water supply... at LEAST. Then we will talk about what to evaluate on, whether mere Training or full Education.

              On second thought, make it three dollars per student per hour. Then lets talk. For my skill in diplomacy, politics, clarity of communication, systems analysis, computer and software operation, I think 3 dollars per student per hour is a good starting figure.

              Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

              by OregonOak on Wed Jun 18, 2014 at 12:18:10 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  So by your logic, the teachers in suburban Conn... (0+ / 0-)

          So by your logic, the teachers in suburban Connecticut (Newtown) were not in the trenches? All public school teachers are dedicated to serving any child who comes through their door, whether that door be in the inner city, a suburb, or rural countryside.

    •  As long as teachers are judged by (7+ / 0-)

      students' test results, which they cannot control, your idea is ludicrous, as are all your thoughts on education.  If you demand your very best teachers go into a punitive situation instead of encouraging them with resources and support, you will lose them.

      Ed FitzGerald for governor Of Ohio. Women's lives depend on it.

      by anastasia p on Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 05:57:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  What if... (0+ / 0-)

        ...we offered incentives? If we lowered the testing bar for teachers with difficult students?

        •  Interesting. You want to lower the bar for (0+ / 0-)

          teachers with difficult students.

          Doesn't that go totally against everything you've said about making sure students get the best education possible, no matter the consequences for the teachers?

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