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As the president and Congress discuss how to create jobs, they seem to be circling around a lot of the usual ideas: tax cuts for businesses that hire, subsidies and incentives for green energy, and building contracts for infrastructure and the like.

What we haven't heard much about is DIRECT government action to create jobs. The problem with creating public jobs for things like renewable energy is it could conceivably compete with private sector businesses already doing the same thing. This would not be the case if education were used to both remove some workers from the job force and create additional jobs...

The quickest fix would be to change the structure of college financial aid, so more kids could go to college full time. I teach community college and most of my students have to work full time to pay their way through school, which means they will be lucky to get their bachelor degree by thirty. If those kids (and older students) got enough financial aid to go to school full time, they would free up low end jobs for others.

We could also create jobs by hiring more K-12 teachers to dramatically reduce class size, especially in poorer communities. Even a crappy teacher can do a passable job if the class is small enough, and even the best teacher will struggle if a class is too big. We could also hire more classroom aides to help teachers, and people to provide after school programs to keep kids out of trouble. That would not only creat jobs but pay more dividends in the long run than the right wing "education reform" snake oil of merit pay and privatized charter schools.

The third way to create jobs with education is less obvious. At community colleges, the vast majority of instructors are part time, have no job security, receive few or no benefits, and are paid as little as a quarter as much as their full time peers. To a lesser but still significant degree, the same thing happens at four year public universities. Consequently, two things happen that distort the academic labor market:

  1. Part time faculty teach more classes to make up for low pay or have a second job in the private sector.
  1. Full time faculty are pressured to teach more than a full time load so administrators can get the maximum value for the benefit dollars they are forced to spend on the lucky few.

     Here in California, colleges have the added incentive of being allowed to pay these full time faculty LESS than their regular pay for these extra class (the opposite of the usual overtime rules requiring "time and a half" pay)

A slight change in these labor practices would create more academic jobs:

  1.  Require that three-quarters of college faculty be full time and/or all facutly be paid on one pay scale, so part time faculty teach fewer classes (freeing some up for someone else to teach) or quit their jobs in the private sector (freeing them up so someone else can be hired).
  1.  Ban full time faculty from teaching more than a full time load, freeing up their excess classes for someone else to teach (and giving them more time to be available to students).

The federal government could cause these changes with both a carrot and stick--the carrot of funding for the extra full time positions and to equalize pay, and the stick of making federal funding contingent on adopting these labor practices.

President Obama announced a community college initiative last summer that would spend money on buildings, technology, and online curriculum, but the jobs effect of all of those would be temporary at best. The real change has to be how the instructors who show up to teach in those shiny new buildings but don't know how they will pay their rent at the end of the semester are treated.

All three of these would do our country more good than any contract to build a road or bridge, or a tax cut that will just be used to sock more money away in a Cayman Islands account.

Originally posted to Professor Smartass on Sat Dec 05, 2009 at 04:12 PM PST.


Which is the best way to create jobs?

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Comment Preferences

  •  Making loans available for small businesses (4+ / 0-)

    so they can run their businesses.  No tax cuts just loans.  It would free up our frozen business creation situation.  As far as education...I am not convinced throwing more money at education is a good idea until we figure where we went off the rails.  Education like health care is bloated with expenses.  We spend more money per student than our European counterparts and get much poorer results.  

    "When fascism comes to America, it'll be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross." Sinclair Lewis

    by lakehillsliberal on Sat Dec 05, 2009 at 04:17:40 PM PST

    •  Small biz loans are a good idea, and so is (0+ / 0-)

      more educational access.

      The concern about bloated expenses is valid, although mostly at the private colleges. Much more so than community & state colleges.

  •  I think the entire education system (5+ / 0-)

    needs an overhaul before money is tossed at it like this.

    Currently our education system is a wretched chimera of two equally deplorable beasts: the feel-good, empty-headed idealistic pap that "everybody can do anything they want (academically)" and the ridiculous hyperfocus on particular components of math, science, and communication that benefit business most and individuals least.

    This needs to be addressed before throwing good money after bad.

    •  agreed, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Food Gas Lodging

      the whole idea of group thinking with the little tables for young children, that was mandated a few years ago in NYS, seems to me to have been for the benefit of corporations, sometimes group think can be good, but sometimes, students need to put in their own time, and learn to focus and allow themselves to grow and exercise their cognitive powers.

    •  We don't have time to do one thing at a time (10+ / 0-)
      Give teachers more power (for example, what if teachers were deputized social workers and could get social safetynet resources for their needy students on their own authority, instead of having to navigate the system from the outside in their ever abundant free time.

      Yes do greatly enlarge the way we measure success.  Extra points and money for music and art programs.  Extra points and money for outdoor nature programs.  

      Spend the money to hire more teachers.  More teachers means smaller classes and better working conditions for all teachers.

      Spend more money to give teachers a raise.  Is there really more social utility in being an insurance account executive or an advertizing executive, than being a teacher?

      Spend more money to allow teachers to do professional development.  

      In general, spend less time handwringing over "bad" teachers.  There will always be a few but its one of those problems that are more effectively dealt with indirectly.  If you incentivize good teaching.....not just with money but by granting teachers the power and autonomy to act effectively to make a difference for their students, and generously subsidize teacher training and professional development for the teacher..the bad teachers can be dealt with on a case by case basis.

      I've been an adjunct instructor.  It IS just another sort of field hand, although not so much hot sun.  The point here is that community colleges can hire three or four adjuncts to teach a regular faculty member's full load and STILL save money.  If it were a temporary thing, okay, but it's not.  Those three or four courses are offered year in and year out.  Thus it's a way to cover the course offerings while avoiding paying someone full wages and benefits and in my opinion should be illegal.  

      What?  How are community colleges supposed to survive if they actually staff for the courses they teach?  See above re: money.

      This is one of those problems where throwing money at it would do a world of good.


      Political Compass: -6.88, -6.41

      by bmcphail on Sat Dec 05, 2009 at 04:46:29 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I love this idea (6+ / 0-)

        we have taken the Ford plant and imposed it onto the professions so that teachers/doctors/attorneys/etc merely become a cog in the wheel without any ability to influence the larger system.

        Similarly, I would empower pharmacists to prescribe some basic medicines/treatments for things like pinkeye, which require neither testing nor antibiotics -- relieving overwhelmed emergency rooms.

        A call for government to "simply" do something, simply means you don't get it.

        by DCJackass on Sat Dec 05, 2009 at 05:48:40 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  You want people who can not teach our kids to (0+ / 0-)

        read, write or do math -- things they have been trained to do -- to be empowered to make social work decisions -- things they are not trained to do.

        How could this not be a success????

        •  Reject the premise. (0+ / 0-)

          "can not teach?"   The point is that our schools inherit the problems of the society at large but are not given the resources to deal with those problems.  

          If a teacher "can not teach" a student to read because the student comes to school hungry, what's wrong with the teacher being able to authorize food stamps?  Presumably with the benefit of professional development so that they can correctly fulfil that role?

          Political Compass: -6.88, -6.41

          by bmcphail on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 04:15:50 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  My fiancee's a teacher. (0+ / 0-)

          She's having a lot of trouble teaching her kids (she teaches Algebra and Latin). I understand why: it's difficult to teach when a different kid in one's class is arrested every couple of weeks for raising a desk threateningly at another student, possession of a firearm on campus, assault, and so forth. The kids resent authority and laugh at punishment, so it's hard (if not impossible some days) to even get the class under control well enough to even think of teaching them. These distractions are persistent and omnipresent. It's not because she "can not teach."

          Kids have disruptive environments in schools that are ever more like prisons than institutions of learning. They're fed a load of shit from kindergarten that everybody is equally gifted, if differently, and then feel even more crappy than they otherwise would when it turns out they just can't learn certain things. They're forced to socialize, closely, with complete strangers with little regard for any kind of adjustment period or socioeconomic differentials. They're taught subjects in such a way that the genuine beauty and utility inherent in each is obscured. In the higher grades they're either forced to be in a place they have no business being (some people simply aren't going to be anything more than a laborer, and our education system needs to recognize this and help them rather than ignore it and marginalize them as it currently does) or they're forced to be held back by these same people.

          I could go on. There are many, many things wrong with our educational system. As a rule teachers are not among these.

          •  Like when Pharoah told the Israelites... (0+ / 0-)

            to make bricks without straw (the ingredient that holds the brick togehter) then punished them for making shitty bricks.

            We have let conservatives dictate education spending for decades, then blamed teachers because they couldn't control ever larger classes filled with kids less and less prepared to learn because their parents either hand them off to babysitters or simply leave them unsupervised everyday while they go to work (which is why they have no fear of punishment).

      •  art and music (0+ / 0-)

        and language study, all contribute to helping children learn reading, writing and math. these are great tools that engage the student, rather than leaving the student bored and frustrated.

    •  Problem with education /reform/ (3+ / 0-) that reform means different things to different people... and discussion of reform means the corporate state will push their failed ideas (the Christianists will want their equivalent of Madrassas).

      I don't think it gets any better than what we have structure-wise until we get a socialist government that repeals NCLB and implements structural change. Of course, we could just divert funding from the insane tax-cut bullshit and corporate welfare to actually deliver on some of what the current system is capable of.

      Make sure everyone's vote counts: Verified Voting

      by sacrelicious on Sat Dec 05, 2009 at 06:31:27 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  obviously you have trouble with math (0+ / 0-)

      ...the ridiculous hyperfocus on particular components of math, science, and communication that benefit business most and individuals least.

      This "ridiculous hyperfocus" guarantees lifetime employment in a number of high paying fields. I think a lifetime of high earning potential benefits individuals.

      Math and sciences also allow individuals to be more creative and aid in important discoveries which improve life for all of us.

      •  math and science (0+ / 0-)

        can be made fun and interesting, especially with interdisciplinary approach. for example, using art or music to highlight science. the science fair can be a fun project if a child can also use art, such as a diarama to demonstrate their project.

      •  Maybe I should've indicated I'm a physicist (0+ / 0-)

        in that comment originally, and I might have avoided such a ridiculous response. I know very well what the difference is between genuine scientific and  mathematical endeavor, and I know from first-hand experience that a vanishingly small percentage of programs in our school system actually prepare anybody for this. Instead the focus is on the rather uncreative "practical" (from the point of view of business) components of these disciplines. Hence my qualifying phrase "particular components."

  •  Also socialize daycare! (11+ / 0-)
    1. Train folks to be daycare teachers and treat it as a professional career and not grunt work. Create jobs.
    1. Build new facilities. Create jobs.
    1. Take away the burden of childcare. More people eligible to work or go to school. More money in economy.
    1. Prepare kids for school better. Create future workers.
    1. I am sure there is more.
  •  Put the money here: (4+ / 0-)

    Eisenhower Grant program

    The Shrub Has Been Uprooted. Time to plant anew.

    by Randomfactor on Sat Dec 05, 2009 at 04:32:02 PM PST

  •  i don't agree with (4+ / 0-)

    some of your diary but it's a good start at trying to think of some new and innovative ways to increase jobs and improve education.

    just some of my thoughts:

    imo, bad teachers are going to be bad teachers no matter what the class size,

    i would like to see more scholarships for male students to enter education,

    i would like to see more scholarships for Black, Asian, Native American teachers, my daughter's history teacher is not white, and uses primary sources wherever possible, this teacher is totally loved by her students btw. too many schools have not widened the net to be more inclusive of men, and of POC.

    the local community college where i live has some of the best teachers in the world, all donating part time work from their main job at top notch private colleges, this idea has been very successfull, and the community college is rated as one of the top community colleges in my state.

    •  the bit about bad teachers was hyperbole (4+ / 0-)

      but when classes are too big, you set up good teachers for failure or an uphill battle to succeed.

      And the only reason we have huge classes is because the rich don't want to pay their fair share of taxes, or worse, want public schools to fail so they can profit from privatizing them, or simply let most of us be ignorant so we can't interfere with socialism for the wealthy.

      •  some private schools (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mataliandy, ladybug53

        have classes that are too large, but they probably add in a few good teacher's aids, they can also split the class so that the teacher's aid helps with some topics, while the main teacher can give attention to a smaller class, I have seen that done in a Catholic School for younger kids, it worked really well.

      •  if students can not read, teachers must accept (0+ / 0-)

        some of the blame. You can not continue to produce students that can not read, write, do math or find the US on the map and then duck all responsibility.

        •  if students can not read (0+ / 0-)

          some kids take a little longer, and they need to be allowed the time it takes, too often they get put in special ed classes when they just need more time, it's the low expectations combined with other frustrations, in many cases, that prevent students from learning.
          also, children are expected to have reached a certain level of proficiency by the time they get to kindergarten, so free, public pre-k and head start programs are crucial in helping children have a positive experience. If everybody else in the class is already at a certain level before the beginning of kindergarten, the children who haven't had that opportunity would naturally feel embarrassed, confused, and bored.

          one other thing, are teachers trained on their own personal bias as a part of certification? i think it is probably human to favor some children over others due to personality, but this also can hinder learning and create frustration and negativity in the classroom.

  •  Give med students a free ride (5+ / 0-)

    If they qualify and make the grade, pay for medical school.  Screw student loans.  We need more doctors.  Imagine if a newly minted doctor could choose to move to a small town and provide good old fashioned personalzied medicine instead of joining a sausage factory clinic and seeing 200 patients a day to make their loan payments?

    Political Compass: -6.88, -6.41

    by bmcphail on Sat Dec 05, 2009 at 04:52:37 PM PST

    •  Didn't some high end university (4+ / 0-)

      do a study about what their graduates with loans were doing for a living versus the graduates with no student loan debt? I seem to recall the result being the students with less debt were doing exactly that: public works, generally making the world a better place, while those with astronomical debt were working for Big Whatever to pay off the loans.

      Irgendwann fällt jede Mauer!

      by CayceP on Sat Dec 05, 2009 at 05:24:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  • spending. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    akeitz, ladybug53, RosyFinch

    But if they did that, I might get a real job. Pay taxes. Buy things. The economy might recover for someone besides a few hundred CEOs.

    Naaaahh.... we can't afford that.

    Those 47 million uninsured Americans? I am one of them.

    by Immigrant Punk on Sat Dec 05, 2009 at 05:14:30 PM PST

  •  When I teach classes at the community college, (5+ / 0-)

    I get $1600 per class per semester.  No benefits.  And I'm limited to 5 classes per semester.

    Crappy wages for someone with a master's degree.

    To say that my fate is not tied to your fate is like saying, "Your end of the boat is sinking."--Hugh Downs

    by Dar Nirron on Sat Dec 05, 2009 at 05:37:34 PM PST

    •  see my blog on adjunct issues: (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      akeitz, ladybug53

      Equal Pay for Equal Work

      We need to get organized and demand better treatment.

      We are the overwhelming majority of faculty, so if we stand together, we can get it done.

    •  Sh*t I make more than that in one paycheck (3+ / 0-)

      I'm in the job I'm in because a career as a historian didn't seem viable.  I stopped at a B.A. and I'm working as a financial analyst and thinking about dipping my toe into accounting classes after resisting all these years because the marketplace is now demanding pieces of paper and boxes checked off.

      SIGH my heart and soul is in history but nobody wants to give historians a viable career.

    •  What is your MS in? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      For you, it is too late, but it is important for younger readers to know that there is a huge difference in degrees.

      Most of the humanities do not pay very well. In fact, a PhD in English makes about the same as a high school grad and less than the average college graduate.

      If you are even remotely thinking about getting your PhD in English, history, women or gender studies, dance music, family studies or anything that sounds like it is fun (e.g., recreation studies or art) -- DON'T DO IT!

      Unless you have another means of supporting yourself.

      On the other hand, a PhD in Finance starts out at $140K+ a year (assuming you didn't get your degree online). If you have the math and economics chops to pull off a PhD in Finance, go for it.

      •  humanities (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        is the heart of education, it opens and expands the mind, you don't need a degree in finance to make that kind of money.
        education without humanities with the sole idea of procuring a job is just want corporations want, little worker bees.

        •  Too many horror stories (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Dar Nirron, cognitivecontinuity

          I keep hearing horror stories from the other side, from people will no debt and overflowing bank accounts, who'd trade it all in to study what they loved.

          I appreciate the discussion about money and majors, but one scenario ends with a gun to my head and I can't accept that. Money's never been important to me and I've had shit jobs for so long now that the history ph.d I'm after will be the best paying gig I've ever had.

          Irgendwann fällt jede Mauer!

          by CayceP on Sun Dec 06, 2009 at 01:10:38 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  maybe (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Dar Nirron

            if people began to measure satisfaction levels against  the material things that they desire, we would see more healthy and innovative ways of living. education was always valued in and of itself in my family, I still love to learn new things, read, appreciate, and I make enough money to enjoy my life, I don't need or want to be rich, now that is the gun to the head, the trap to me.

      •  My M.A. is in clinical psychology, 1980. (0+ / 0-)

        B.S. 1978, Magna cum laude. General and experimental psychology, minors in human development and gerontology.

        To say that my fate is not tied to your fate is like saying, "Your end of the boat is sinking."--Hugh Downs

        by Dar Nirron on Mon Dec 07, 2009 at 08:00:46 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  An idea I liked from the campaign trail was (4+ / 0-)

    to calculate how many jobs each company add overseas and here at home.  Then multiply that company's tax credits and deductions by that ratio.  The more jobs you add overseas means the more you pay in taxes.

    A call for government to "simply" do something, simply means you don't get it.

    by DCJackass on Sat Dec 05, 2009 at 05:59:40 PM PST

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