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I want to give you some statistics from a new report from my union, the American Federation of Teachers. In 2005 the inflation rate was 3.4 percent.  A worker would need an increase in pay of that much in order to have the same buying power as the year before. The average increase in teacher pay in America in 2005 was 2.2 percent. Beginning teacher salary lagged inflation as well. The whole profession lost buying power.  And data from the 50 largest cities in America for 2006 doesn’t look much better. Teachers, like many other American workers, aren’t sharing in the so-called economic recovery

Teaching was never the highest paid job, but over the last several years growth in pay has lagged when compared to other professions. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics keeps track of a set of jobs that require a similar level of higher education. In 2000, teachers were paid less than the average for these professions. And over the five years 2000-2005 teachers had a real increase in buying power of 1 percent. The average increase in the other professions was more than 6 percent.

When compared to private sector pay generally, teacher pay again is coming up short. In 1995, the average teacher salary was worth 35 percent more than the average salary in the private sector (that’s the salary of everyone who qualifies for unemployment insurance, from lawyers to fry cooks). In 2005 it was just 18 percent higher. At this rate, teaching won’t just be a low paid profession; it will be low paid work.  We’ve got a post up about this at our blog Let’s Get It Right, (note the name of our blog is a critique of No Child Left Behind rather than a call to conservatism).  We hope you’ll check it out. In addition to more stats, we asked some teachers who blog to address the question of how the state of teacher pay has affected their life. The statistics matter, but blogs let you make it personal and real. One quick taste (courtesy of the blogger Dr. Homeslice):

...I understand that teaching is my calling, even if it won' t make me a millionaire. Like I said, I'm not here for the money. Truly dedicated teachers know that they're not walking into a wad of cash when they become a teacher, but our raises should keep pace with inflation, not lose ground to it. We need to be able to attract quality teachers who understand that while they won't be on Mtv's Cribs, they won't have to start going on food stamps and the like while they're teaching.

And from a teacher who goes by the handle The Rain:

I can't help but wonder why I have to leave my daughter early and get home late so that we can stay even.

We’ve read Daily Kos for a long time and we checked out YKos  in Vegas. But it’s only in the last couple of months, when  Teacher Ken helped us with a project on school contstruction, that we’ve really seen what this community can do. We hope to be seeing at least some of you in Chicago.

For those of you who don’t know us, the American Federation of Teachers is a union that represents 1.3 million workers in education, healthcare and other public services.  We’re a part of the AFL-CIO. Our blog has been around for a bit more than a year, and in addition to covering No Child Left Behind specifically, it looks at education and labor issues generally. Come visit, and if you are a teacher or school employee who blogs, plesae do what you can to keep this conversation going.  

Also, my fellow bogger Ed, who helped write this year's report will be checking out the comment section.

Originally posted to John at AFT on Fri Mar 30, 2007 at 06:43 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  My son wanted to be a teacher (14+ / 0-)

    He is wonderful with kids, especially inner-city youth and he loves the work. He has worked in summer programs and after-school programs, but he just decided to go to law school because he says he would never make enough money to support himself. Talented young people are turning away from a profession they would love because of the low pay.

  •  Hi Everyone (10+ / 0-)

    I'm John's colleage Ed. I'm one of the authors of this report, and I also do some AFT blogging.

  •  As with everything else this administration does (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Athena, usedmeat, historys mysteries

    Americans who actually DO the hard work of making this country run are getting shafted in favor of those who contribute nothing but lies and deception to the national treasure.

    "Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding." - Albert Einstein

    by scoff0165 on Fri Mar 30, 2007 at 06:49:32 AM PDT

  •  Pre-School and (6+ / 0-)

    Infant/Toddler teachers (who have degrees and are certified) make LESS than public school teachers.  The agency I work for has not given us a COLA raise in the past 2 years.  Most of the teachers I work with have another job just to make ends meet.

    Sunlight is the best disinfectant

    by historys mysteries on Fri Mar 30, 2007 at 06:51:37 AM PDT

  •  thanks for putting this together (4+ / 0-)

    I am a former teacher and currently teach teachers at the Univeristy of Alabama in Huntsville.

    I am against merit pay based on test scores, but i support merit pay based on...merit.

    At my university, I must present a portfolio every year detailing my activities. Based on that portfolio, student evaluations, and discussions with my colleagues, I am either rehired (with a small raise) or  I am let go.

    When I have my five year review, I will get a significant raise and tenure.

    Why can't we do this with teachers?

    Save public education from corporatisation: Educator Roundtable

    by DeweyCounts on Fri Mar 30, 2007 at 06:55:42 AM PDT

    •  This is a good point (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      zenbowl, DeweyCounts, TexasTwister

      In the report we're calling for a 30 percent increase in teacher pay. But I don't think anyone believes that the powers that be will just simply give it to us. And one of the trade-offs -- if we should get that far -- is how to show that we're in fact accountable for the work we do.

      I'm becoming more interested in the idea of teacher assessment based on a professional development portfolio. Its something that New Mexico has been using now for a couple of years.  The system has a lot of the same characteristics you are talking about.

      •  let's change the frame (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Athena, Mi Corazon, bluebrain, ed at aft

        from accountability to transparency and responsibility.

        Accountability will never lead to democratic citizens or the innovation that industry leaders claim to support.

        I propose a ban on the following 3 terms:

        accountability, performance, standardization

        In thier place: innovation, experimentation, risk-taking, development, growth, responsibility, and transparency.

        Save public education from corporatisation: Educator Roundtable

        by DeweyCounts on Fri Mar 30, 2007 at 07:03:27 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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

          you'd just said abandon them, I would have said it was the wrong move. But transparency and responsibility are excellent goals.

          •  not abandon, change (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Athena, Mi Corazon, bluebrain

            why should we expect a democracy to manifest out of a society that holds all citizens under constant watch?

            also, accountability is an easy way for elected officials to ignore the nitty gritty of education.

            let's take away the spreadsheets and force them into the actual schools! such a visit would undoubtedly be an eye-opening experience for many and would certainly help those who blame teachers for poor student development and growth understand the multiple factors affecting "learning."

            Save public education from corporatisation: Educator Roundtable

            by DeweyCounts on Fri Mar 30, 2007 at 07:27:05 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  hell yes (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Melody Townsel, slothlax, ed at aft

    The other side to this--I think--is some people are now overpaid to the point of absurdity, driving up the price of everthing.  

    What liberals fail to recognize is that regime change in Iraq is not some distraction from the war on Al Qaeda. That is a bogus argument. -- Thomas Friedman

    by markymarx on Fri Mar 30, 2007 at 06:57:38 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for putting this up (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Elise, TexasTwister, ed at aft

    My wife's a teacher in Montgomery County, Maryland. What do you guys know about the County Council's decision to reject the County BOE's plan to give the teachers COLA raises? As two people who don't work in the for-profit sector, we depend on her annual salary increases. I think it's outrageous that a so-called "liberal" council rejects teacher pay increases in one of the most expensive places to live in the US.

    Zenbowl, the blog, is your one-stop source for all things progressive, buddhist and basketball.

    by zenbowl on Fri Mar 30, 2007 at 07:01:58 AM PDT

    •  I didn't know anything about this (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      zenbowl, Elise, DeweyCounts

      And I live in Montgomery County. The teachers there are represented by an affiliate of the National Education Association -- which is the other big teacher union.  Yes they are the "competition", but MCEA has always struck me as a pretty good union. As for the council, I have no idea, but now I want to know more.

      •  It's just breaking among the teachers themselves (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ed at aft

        it could get ugly, keep your eye out for more news about it.

        Zenbowl, the blog, is your one-stop source for all things progressive, buddhist and basketball.

        by zenbowl on Fri Mar 30, 2007 at 07:40:53 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  locals seem to be run by great people (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Elise

        it's NEA national that troubles me...us...

        Save public education from corporatisation: Educator Roundtable

        by DeweyCounts on Fri Mar 30, 2007 at 07:47:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Well...NEA screwed us in our recent (0+ / 0-)

        negotiations. They were pretty much zero help. Our local rep has nearly 40 schools to manage so it seems to me like she really discourages any action by the local unions that might prolong the end of negotiations. I'm actually leaving teaching...and hoping to get into politics on some level. Actually, I've applied at a few Unions and non-profits as well. I feel taught out at this point and I've only been doing it 7 years. Always teaching overload, always adding summer classes, and I definitely take my work home with me.

        Our local has been looking at the AFT and considering a switch. As the Secretary of our local I've been doing some of the research and stuff despite the fact that I'll be leaving at the end of this year. I wish the NEA was stronger...

  •  I work as IT tech for one Catholic School (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Elise, cfk, slothlax, Mae, LAMaestra

    My company sends me there one day a week.  they can barely afford technical services but require them the same as any office or business or school.

    These people do not have hardly any money to buy things.  So many items are donated by parents and the community.  I see the look on the teacher's/principal faces when I start to talk about solutions that cost money.  My partner and I always use this weord phrase, "in the real world"... we would:
    junk it
    get new software
    find a better device, printer, whatever

    However, in their world we have to cobble together Windows 98 machines and 10 year old printers just so they can print out their report cards.

    If this is the state of education in many other places I am deeply worried that our children will not have the skills, and emotional development to compete in the fully globalised environment these raging rethuglican corporatists have designed for them.

    •  That's almost as big as compensation for me (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cfk, TexasTwister

      Just having the tools to do my job would be a big boost!  When you make low wages and still have to buy the supplies and materials for your own classroom to do the kind of job you'd be proud of, it eats away at what little you get!

      "The test of the morality of a society is what it does for its children." Bonhoeffer

      by LAMaestra on Fri Mar 30, 2007 at 08:27:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Mom was a teacher for 35 years (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        LAMaestra

        She had a closet full of markers, glue, crayons, craft stuff that neighbors and family woudl give her and it would make it's way to the kids.  These teachers spend their time and money to bring supplies that the schools should be giving.

  •  Teachers Deserve Respect (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Elise, philimus, ed at aft

    I come from a family of teachers--my mother and aunts have spent many years in the classroom.  The continuing lack of support for compensating teachers appropriately for their work amazes me.  What parent doesn't understand the difference that an outstanding teacher can make to his or her child?

    My son's public school, located in an area that has a very high cost of living, is having a terrible time recruiting and retaining teachers for its flagship Spanish immersion program.  Increased difficulty in obtaining visas post-9/11 has only compounded the problem of finding housing on a teacher's salary.

  •  glad to see John (and Ed) here (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Elise, cfk, bluebrain, philimus, ed at aft

    Ed is part of our planning group for Yearlykos  Education Uprising / Educating for Democracy.

    There is no need for thanks directly to me - I was a vehicle to communicate with the dkos community, which has always shown a real interest in matters of school, teaching, education.

    We need to do some serious rethinking about schools  in general.  But whatever else we may decide, we must remember this - if teaching cannot be viewed as a profession in which (a) one can make a decent living, and (b) have some respect for the work which one does, you will start an inevitable downward spiral.  The quality teachers you want to keep will leave and you will increasingly be forced to staff schools with whatever is left.

    If you demoralize the teaching force, how can you expect them to put in the effort that can make a difference?

    And remember - we are looking at a large number of teachers who will be eligible to retire.  In the past many would keep teaching, but the lack of respect for teachers shown in much of our educational policy making discourages them from hanging on for one extra year.

    And if there is a constant bashing of teachers in the media, believe me it makes a difference in attempting to maintain appropriate discipline in schools - it is one reason (among others to be sure)that we have disciplinary problems.  Our young people are not idiots.  The same way they know their education does not matter when we have them attend in buildings falling apart, they pick up the attitudes of the larger society towards teachers.

    I hope this diary gets good visibility.

    PEACE

    Those who can, do. Those who can do more, TEACH!

    by teacherken on Fri Mar 30, 2007 at 07:08:28 AM PDT

    •  Except (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Elise

      That we'd be learning much harder lessons right now about how to interact here without your help.

    •  You are absolutely right, teacherken ... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Elise, grog, ed at aft

      ... especially when you said:

      "... whatever else we may decide, we must remember this - if teaching cannot be viewed as a profession in which (a) one can make a decent living, and (b) have some respect for the work which one does, you will start an inevitable downward spiral."

      And with this:

      "In the past many would keep teaching, but the lack of respect for teachers shown in much of our educational policy making discourages them from hanging on for one extra year."

      IMHO, nurses, reporters (not self-important "journalists"), and teachers are three of the most underpaid and, perhaps more importantly, under-respected professions in the country. All three occupations require a tremendous amount of hard work, people skills, and information-processing ability to do well, and yet nobody is second-guessed more than those in these fields.

      We do need to invest more in our schools and pay teachers a decent, living wage. However, most of the teachers I talked to, when I covered the education beat, said that the lack of support they got from their administrators (principals) and parents made their jobs much harder to do than even the low salaries they were paid. Good, dedicated teachers don't go into the profession for the money, but at the same time they deserve far more than what they're getting.

      Why is it that our society doesn't think twice about putting up bond issues to raise the funds for building a new sports arena, but constantly struggles to pass local property tax increases that pay teachers what they are worth? It really is sick to see how our priorities are so misguided.

      "The time has come
      For closing books and long last looks must end,
      And as I leave,
      I know that I am leaving my best friend,
      A friend who taught me right from wrong,
      And weak from strong,
      That's a lot to learn,
      What, what can I give you in return?"

      • Lulu, 1967

  •  Excellent Diary (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teacherken, Elise, ed at aft

    The student loan crater really can be a deterrent.

    What I've found interesting is the diference between teaching in major metro areas (regardless of racial makeup) and rural areas.  I've know many teachers in the DC suburbs who all quit after 7-10 years not only because of money but simply because of burnout.  They two were somewhat interrelated but in some instances, there was no amount of money that would have sucked them back into teaching.

    Flash forward to where I live now (rural Missouri) and teachers never quit and the school districts don't seem to have any trouble finding new teachers.  Why?  Because so many of the youngsters here never want to leave, plus, there's still enough gender stereotyping that goes on that teaching is considered one of the few "worthwhile" roles for women to go to college for.  Thus, typically a young woman will go to college within a 50 mile radius of here (because if they actually leave, it's like Brigadoon, they'd wither and die).  She gets her teaching certificate, then begins to teach locally.  She typically marries a self-employed (read truck driver, lawn mowerer, aka "landscaper", or construction worker) bubba she dated in high school.

    Oops, I'm digressing into the social issues here.  But, it highlights in one way how in areas you might think are really wanting for teachers, are not.

    Anyway, great diary.

    Their reality has lapped our satire.

    by grog on Fri Mar 30, 2007 at 07:10:00 AM PDT

  •  I Have Recently Been Accepted (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Elise, cfk, Mae, ed at aft

    Into the School of Education at a local university, and in a few years, I intend to be a middle/high school social studies/history teacher.  Although I am not going into it for the money, I do have concerns about making ends meet when I hear things like this, and when I look at the student loans as well.



    You can have your "Under God" back when I get my "Liberty and Justice For All" back.

    by karateexplosions on Fri Mar 30, 2007 at 07:11:10 AM PDT

    •  But the other point is (6+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Athena, Elise, cfk, bluebrain, Mae, LAMaestra

      That once you are holding the chalk it can consume you. But its never boring, When I accomplished something real with a kid, the satisfaction was greater than anything I've ever done, including election work and union organizing. Learning to handle the defeats is trickier. But if you can do it, you know you are making a difference.

  •  A question (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ed at aft

    Why are teacher salaries so low?  I'd always thought that local taxes of various sorts, typically property taxes and perhaps other combination of direct taxation to support schools, were the primary source of funding.  Perhaps with something at the state level trickling down.

    So, while everybody talks about the crisis in public education, it appears to me that in many cases, the reality of how people feel is directly related to how much taxes their willing to pay to support teachers salaries.  And since they're so low, I think there's a disconnect between what people say in public and how they vote with their pocketbook.

    If that's true, then what can we do to help change voters' minds?

    Their reality has lapped our satire.

    by grog on Fri Mar 30, 2007 at 07:15:03 AM PDT

    •  A not so easy question (0+ / 0-)

      Local propert taxes were, in the 1990's a shrinking part of the pie. THe state was starting to pick up more of the tab. That's generally a good thing because funding based on how valuable the property is leads to rich kids getting more services and poor kids getting less. We've changed that in recent years - with rising property values giving states an opportunity to disinvest on the sly.  The overall share of funding is something like 46% local, 45% state and 9% federal.

      One of the things the report tells us is that salaries have remained pretty much flat over the last decade or so, while the economy and wages have grown. Some of it is that we've chosen to use our new money on programs like special education, or on remeditation programs. SOme of it is that we don't have as much funding as we should.  I could also point to some instances of waste and excessive administrative spending. But I think that this is a relatively minor part of the pie, and is used politically by people who want to burn thing down.

    •  In Massachusetts (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ed at aft

      we have prop 2 1/2 that says property taxes cannot be raised more than 2.5%. Most of school funding comes from property taxes. If a community wants to build a new school, hire more teachers, etc. they have to pass an override. Some communities like the one I live in pass the overrides, but many don't. In Randolph, for example, an override has NEVER passed. I'm glad our public schools are good, but it is also clearly an example of how the difference between rich and poor grows bigger and bigger.

      •  That was a blow (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mae, TexasTwister

        We've spent a lot of time fighting similar effort across the country. If you haven't checked out Sandlapper's diaries here about the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights there worth looking at.  2 1/2 is a prime example of the national anti-tax anti-public service movement's agenda

    •  low taxes (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Athena, ed at aft

      no services. It's simple. It's life under conservatism.

      The Republicans don't want to raise taxes on the wealthy, instead they want to borrow money to pay for a war. To hell with everyone else.

  •  Funding (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mae, TexasTwister, ed at aft

    The problems won't go away until congress comes up with a way to fund education that dosen't include or drasticly reduces property taxes.
    The constitutional model of locally funded schools went out with the one room school in an agrarian society.
    Too bad that there is a faction working to make sure this doesn't happen. Christians have been working to destroy the public school system ever since mandatory religion was expelled.

    Windows: The G. W. Bush of operating systems.

    by usedmeat on Fri Mar 30, 2007 at 07:16:41 AM PDT

  •  Let me add one more thing (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mae, ed at aft

    This diary really should be in the recommended list.  Alas, given the cold cold world that is DK Diary Popularity, chances are, it won't.

    So, have you given some thought to perhaps cross-posting it over at Steve Gilliard's blog?  They're eager for good content (Steve's a hard act to follow) while he recovers from his surgery and this piece would be excellent over there.

    Just a thought.  You can email Jen thru The News Blog's site.

    Their reality has lapped our satire.

    by grog on Fri Mar 30, 2007 at 07:18:00 AM PDT

    •  I will do so (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cfk

      Steve and Jen picked up on some blogging that we were doing about a teacher in a non union charter school who was fired simply because she shared the salary data from the neighboring unionized school district with her colleagues.

  •  Teaching (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cfk, Mae, ed at aft

    My daughter is changing her major to education.  She struggled with this her freshman year due to the worry of a low income.  She finally has decided that she would rather have a life of doing what she feels called for.

    Hope, Pride, and Survival.... Let's get going...Today is the first day of the rest of your life.

    by triciawrites on Fri Mar 30, 2007 at 07:23:14 AM PDT

  •  Welcome AFT (4+ / 0-)

    I'm glad you are posting here at Dkos.  And welcome.  The cynic in me wants to say:  "What took you so long?"  But, I will try to quash that...

    I think Ed understands that as a lifetime member of the AFT  (Osseo Federation of Teachers, MN), my heart has been broken by our leadership's recommendation not to take a stronger stand against NCLB.

    I understand the reasons for it, but I fundamentally believe that the lack of a more radical stand by teacher unions have created a vaccum and allowed Ted Kennedy to go all the way out on the NCLB limb without having to really think through what this law has done to teaching and schools.

    Question:  What can be done at this point to get AFT leadership to take a stronger, more radical stand against NCLB?

    Everyone needs to understand that right now teachers and teacher unions have a giant target on their backs.  There are powerful forces arrayed in this country trying to privatize our schools and move out teachers unions from the business of education.  Witness the Gates and Broad Foundations, vouchers, private charters, Oakland and St. Louis school takeovers...

    I do not think that "playing nice" and "getting a seat at the table" are the ways to resist and counteract this inherently reactionary force in our society.  The way to fight it is TO FIGHT BACK.

    The fact that NEA, in particular, has chosen to play nice, is IMHO, exactly the wrong move.

    Imagine if, right now, we have a million teachers signed up on the petition to end NCLB...  Don't the leaders understand how much more leverage that would give us to negotiate changes?

    Education? Teaching? NCLB? Read my book _Becoming Mr. Henry_

    by Mi Corazon on Fri Mar 30, 2007 at 07:34:31 AM PDT

    •  hear! hear! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Elise

      We are, essentially, doing the work that the unions should be doing...i'm just happy that locals in California are acting on their own.

      big meeting in CA this weekend for CTA and NEA, should reveal a great deal about where we are going next. if we can get a number of locals on our side, we should be able to push this...really push this...

      Save public education from corporatisation: Educator Roundtable

      by DeweyCounts on Fri Mar 30, 2007 at 07:40:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The shill print and broadcast media (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mi Corazon, cfk

      will work to ensure that that target is even bigger.  Destroying public schools is a part of the republican agenda to return to a two class society.

      Windows: The G. W. Bush of operating systems.

      by usedmeat on Fri Mar 30, 2007 at 07:43:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Exactly! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ed at aft

        So why don't the Unions go back and take up the job of FIGHTING for their members?

        Guys?

        I'm saying asking for increased pay is necessary but not sufficient.

        You won't get anyone to be a teacher if the job becomes being a functionary of the state.

        Will the Union stand with us on that?

        And yes, I am on the agenda at my local union meetin in April.  

        Give us liberty or give us death!

        Education? Teaching? NCLB? Read my book _Becoming Mr. Henry_

        by Mi Corazon on Fri Mar 30, 2007 at 07:49:02 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Wow (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mi Corazon, Elise

      I didn't know you came out of Osseo.  I do a great deal of work with Education Minnesota.

      I'm going to give you an on the one hand/on the other response on NCLB: It is the latest iteration of one of the most important federal programs we have (the Elementary and Secondary Education Act). The money that comes from it is the one source of public dollars for education that is consistently targeted so that more resources are given to those who need them the most. In places like Philly and New Orleans, where the state's neglect of urban education is the most manifest the schools couldn't open without this money. Doing anything that puts these resources at risk is something that we're going to be very cautious about. And yes, that may give our foes a lot of power. I'll also say there are some things in the law that are worth fixing rather than getting rid of all together.

      On the other hand, don't for a moment think that your voice on this isn't being heard by us. We well know the burden that has been put on teachers and kids, the narrowing of the curriculum, the diversion of funds to unproven ideas like "supplemental education services" and the increase in testing. The fact that we even have a blog at all is a reflection of that.

  •  Flash back (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LAMaestra, ed at aft

    A friend of mine, we used to scrounge junk yards looking for parts to keep our Mopars running in the time before they were collectible, went into teaching. This was in the early 1970's when teachers started to unionize in the Lancaster, York, Harrisburg area. He taught in Levittown-Neshamminy and was a member of the AFT. His mom, also a teacher, was distraught at the thought of joining the local education association and going on strike.  He was quite militant and used to chide her about joining such a wimpy organization. She was one of a generation of teachers that looked on the profession as a religios vocation with the attendant vow of poverty. The local townfolk were outraged, how dare teachers ask fo a living wage.

    Windows: The G. W. Bush of operating systems.

    by usedmeat on Fri Mar 30, 2007 at 07:57:45 AM PDT

  •  Ok, pet peeve time. (0+ / 0-)

    I am a lawyer from a family of teachers.  We are all ostensibly "professionals."

    One huge difference exists, however.  Myself, and almost all lawyers I know, are "at will" employees.  We have no contract and no real job security.  We can be fired for any reason at any time as long as it is not for an illegal cause (racism, ect.).

    My family members, however, have some ridiculous 200 page "Master Agreement" which specifically allocates the precise amount of time they are required to be in the class room, down to the minute.  They cannot be fired for anything short of hitting students, particularly if they have "tenure" (a useless concept in K-12 where no protection for academic freedom is needed as no research is going on and the curriculum is mandated), without going through a huge, drawn out process.  It is functionally impossible to fire a teacher for poor performance after tenure.

    This is my peeve.  Teachers, in my opinion, should be treated like professionals and paid like professionals.  The trade off needs to be, however, that they should be required to work like professionals (aka, no contractual arrival and release times)  and should be able to be terminated for poor performance, like professionals.

    I agree with the above posts about merit pay.  Merit pay is a good idea.  The flipside of merit pay, however, is the need for the ability to terminated poor performers, as in every other profession in the world.

    I know this concept will get little play from the folks writing this Diary (as AFT lawyers make serious cash negotiating those 200 page "Master Agreements") but it needs to be said that teacher should be professionals, and treated like them, in every sense of that term.

    Sometimes I think that I'm bigger than the sound . . .

    by TastyCurry on Fri Mar 30, 2007 at 08:30:07 AM PDT

    •  Let me get this straight ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cfk, LAMaestra

      ... you are an attorney in a profession where the average salaries are as follows (according to www.payscale.com):

      $65,000 for 1 to 4 year(s) of experience;
      $90,000 for 5 to 9 years of experience;
      $107,000 for 10 to 19 years of experience; and
      $120,000 for 20 or more years of experience ...

      and yet you want to complain about the "Master Agreement" contracts for secondary school teachers whose average salaries are (from the same source):

      $35,000 for 1 to 4 year(s) of experience;
      $41,000 for 5 to 9 years of experience;
      $48,000 for 10 to 19 years of experience; and
      $56,000 for 20 or more years of experience.

      Are you cereal? Oh no, that's right, you are a lawyer. Well, good luck with getting any sympathy for your position around here. I'll spare you the jokes about your occupation, and will even give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you are an excellent attorney, but please do not whine to me about how YOU don't have the same job security or "tenure" as the best teachers get. And as for the crucial matter of basic respect, I really don't think you want to try to argue that teachers are treated with anywhere near as much esteem as lawyers. I'll bet you dollars to donuts that there are a helluva lot more attorneys in Congress (and politics) than teachers.

      As always, flame away ... and have a great day.

      "Yes, as through this world I've wandered,
      I've seen lots of funny men;
      Some will rob you with a six-gun,
      And some with a fountain pen." - Woody Guthrie

    •  That's really not true (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cfk, ed at aft

      For one thing, the idea of tenure is that teachers have established that they are good teachers.  Yes, it is difficult to fire a tenured teacher, but it is possible (at least in TN it is).  There are actually five ways a tenured teacher can get fired here: incompetence, inefficiency, neglect of duty, unprofessional conduct, and insubordination.  It is of course difficult to PROVE any of these, but they are on the books, anyway (TCA title 49 chapter 5).

      You're right, though, teachers should be treated like professionals and paid like professionals.  Instead, teachers are paid and treated like crap.  Neither parents nor the federal government should be able to tell a teacher how to do his or her job.  I hear parents say they pay property taxes, so they pay for public education, so they deserve some sort of customer satisfaction.  I think if parents cared more about what their kids were doing at home than what their teachers were doing at school we'd all be better off.

      Rather than focus on the inequality of teachers' pay compared to teachers' performance, consider that professional entertainers (I mean movie starts and athletes) can work 6-7 months a year and get paid tens of millions of dollars.  There's a place where professionals aren't required to work as professionals but still get paid plenty.  Try barking up that tree.

      /rant

      Ask me (-7.88, -6.46) about Lamar Alexander.

      by Sidof79 on Fri Mar 30, 2007 at 01:13:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  ain't that the truth (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cfk

    i heard the local right wingnut radio dj's talking about the bad teachers yesterday..

    as if..  

    i know what they really want.. they want to take down the education system.  they don't want to pay taxes so all kids can go to school.

    they want their kids studying the bible at school.

    Don't fight it son. Confess quickly! If you hold out too long you could jeopardize your credit rating. --Brazil (1985)

    by hypersphere01 on Fri Mar 30, 2007 at 08:52:14 AM PDT

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