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which is becoming more and more of an issue.  It affects a lot of teachers in my district.  It is increasingly an issue that comes up when teachers in my building speak to me as union rep.   And as I struggle to pay my own bills, it begins to hit home. Hard.

What is really painful for many of us is that it looks to only be getting worse.

Let me explain briefly, so that before you make comments about greedy teachers, or attack them and their unions, or anything else not particularly constructive, you have some sense of what many of us face.

I teach in Prince George's County (MD) Public Schools.   Those of us who are National Board Certified are supposed to receive $5,000 additional in pay from the school system, with $2,000 of that being matched by the state.  

Last Spring we knew that the school system was in financial difficulties.  We were originally told that most of us would be furloughed without pay for 5 days (later reduced to 4).  One reason our union signed on to Race to the Top was the hope to get additional funds into the district to help us.

What was not clear, although some are claiming the possibility was mentioned, was that a series of stipends for additional qualifications might be eliminated.  Thus when the first paycheck was received, not only were people missing the local stipend for National Board Certification - which calculated over the normal 21 regular pay cycles for those on 10th month contracts is a gross amount of $238.00 -  some were minus the stipend for having a doctorate or the stipend for being qualified for special education or in a few cases both.

Not having had this clearly communicated meant many teachers found themselves somewhat strapped:  too many of us really have no margin for error in paying our bills.  Some had made commitments budgeting on what they thought they were going to receive, and now are not getting, which makes it worse.

Further, we have had no cost of living increases, and all movements on step for longevity are also frozen.  Meanwhile our expenses continue to rise - health insurance premiums deducted from our pay are increasing.  Everyday expenses go up -  has anyone paid attention to the increasing costs of both gasoline and food?  

Teachers are required to continue their education in order to maintain certification. At this point there basically is no reimbursement for such expenses, and one has to hope that one reaches the 2% of adjusted gross income for misc. expenses in order to be able to deduct at least part of that for taxable income.

But now, at least in our district, looking ahead to next year - if we as teachers can financially get through this year - is downright scary.  

We did not have layoffs this school year, in part because the County shifted funds as a result of the stimulus money it received to help us pay our bills.   That was over $70 million, which will not be there next year.

The state is trying to shift the employer's portion of our pensions on to the school districts, and to change the ratio of match - the first puts further stress on the district for funds it does not have, and the second could mean more deducted from our paychecks.  And as of right now our district just at current rates of expenditures is looking at a possible shortfall of $80 million.   Since a large portion of our costs are personnel related, there is the very real possibility this will lead to elimination of positions, including teacher slots.   Some of this will come about as the normal number of retirements and resignations occurs without replacing  people.  The new County Executive has publicly committed to do all he can to avoid actually having to lay off or further furlough employees.

Yet the reality is that property values in the County continue to decline at the same time as our student population looks to be increasing as parents can no longer afford tuition for non-public schools.  We worry that beyond our individual financial difficulties, our class sizes will increase signicantly next year, with all that means for  being less effective in instruction and for students in learning.

For myself?  I find I am not alone among some of the older teachers.  I am having to cash out my 403B to stay even -  since I am over 59.5 I do not pay a penalty, merely the taxes on the money I receive.   But what about when that is gone, the expenses continue to go up, and our pay remains frozen?  Some families have two teachers, with the impact that has.  My wife is a federal employee, whose pay is frozen for two years - no COLA, no step increases.

Life becomes more and more circumscribed by financial difficulties.  The actual reduction of my gross pay this school year is around 8,000.  As one of the higher paid teachers that hits me less heavily than national board teachers with much less service, where that alone could well equal 15% of their pay.  Compared to what I should have been making, with COLAs and steps, the difference is well over 10K, which I assure is substantially more than 10%.  

I know.  I should not complain.  As an experienced teacher with a good record I am not in danger of having no job.  I am aware of members of this community who have been unemployed for substantial periods of time, some exceeding any time limit on Unemployment Compensation.  

But it is hard as one struggles with bills each month, as one looks at what else can be cut, to remind oneself how much worse it could be.

Do I apply to do a panel for NN11?  I have had people ask me.  But even if as a panelist the registration fee were waived, how can I justify the transportation, lodging and food expenses?  

There are things I'd like to do during the summer.  But might not I again have to teach summer school - if we have it - because I desperately need the extra income just to get through?

I understand there are many good movies.  How do I justify that expense, or going to a concert?

We just had our 25th anniversary.  The best we could afford to do was a meal at a moderate family restaurant.

Yesterday was shopping day.  A local supermarket gives me 5% discount (except on alcohol) because I am a senior citizen (over 62).  We have to buy bargain brands, and even with discounts and bargain prices we are beginning to see our diet become more restricted -  food is getting too expensive.

I look at my own situation, our situation, and I worry.  There is not much left we can eliminate, yet things we must have continue to increase in price.

Then I look around me, in my communities, physical and virtual, and I wonder when as a society we are going to recognize that we are in a real crisis, that real people are being crushed, yet some debate philosophical points rather than meeting the needs of people.

I will be attached because I am a greedy teacher.  Trust me, I get emails attacking me on a regular basis - it comes with the territory of being as visible as I am in writing online.  

All public employees will be attacked, for our supposedly "gold-plated" pensions, even though such pensions were part of the agreement for being willing to work for less compensation than many could have gotten doing other things.

I am not a good example.  We spent too much when we could have had better control, and some of our financial stress is therefore our own fault.

But what about the younger people?  What about those gifted and dedicated teachers who will find themselves forced out by the financial realities of the life of a teacher, in our district, where we have worked hard to upgrade the quality of our teaching staff?  What then happens to our students?

It is not quite 7 AM.  It is the last day of the school week.   I will pack a lunch - some fruit and some hard-boiled eggs, cheap, relatively healthy and definitely inexpensive.  I will get into my paid-off hybrid Honda which is approaching 100K miles, "hyper-miling" when I drive to save expenses.  Not ordinary pleasures like stopping at a Starbucks - their prices just went up.  I will make some changes to my deductions to better have a bit more cash in each paycheck.  The bills that have to be paid are paid, the projected cash flow seems sufficient to get us through the end of the month, providing we do not encounter an unexpected emergency.  Because we no longer have any reserves.

I know, we are better off than many.  But I also know this.  I love teaching.  But if someone were to offer me employment that is not distasteful that would pay near what I make as a teacher, it would be hard not to accept and also increase my cash flow by retiring at the end of this year.  That pension is not large, but doing that might well reduce our financial strain.  No job could give me as much satisfaction as I obtain from teaching, even with the hours and energy it takes.

Yes, I find I now have to consider the possibility of leaving teaching, for financial reasons.  

This is my 16th year.  Those who read my posts know how important teaching is to me.

If I am considering leaving teaching, think how many others, with less time committed to the career, might be.  Think how many who might otherwise want to teach who look at the prospects for the next few years and decide they are not willing to take that on.

We will spend billions on testing, which will not show meaningful improvement, because class sizes will continue to grow, because quality teachers will decide that between the stress, the abuse directed in our direction and the financial strains, it is simply not worth killing oneself.

The country will suffer, because the children will suffer.

How's that for some pleasant thoughts with which to approach the weekend?

Peace.

Originally posted to teacherken on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 04:02 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (124+ / 0-)

    "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

    by teacherken on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 04:02:35 AM PST

    •  now in transit to school (29+ / 0-)

      almost an hour later than normal.  I paid bills this morning.  That made me reflective so I wrote this.  

      I know what I will be doing today.  I have no copying to do.  I have a bit of a margin for traffic problems.

      How I wish the only thing I had to worry about was what I had to do in my classroom to help my kids.  

      It is also the concern for public education as a whole, and what it means for the future of this country, for their future.  The money problems are only a part of it, but they are a critical problem.

      peace.

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 04:27:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Thanks for the thoughts. (9+ / 0-)

      Part of Maryland's problem is the "big counties" versus the "little counties" or put another way, suburban plus Baltimore vs rural Maryland.

      Maybe there should be standard scale wages across the state for teachers, admins, etc., while doing away with the "standardized product" idea. Musicians have scale wages, for example, as the baseline. It does vary some by location and of course people are free to get paid more. BUt how do you make this work for classrooms?

      I don't know, I'm just throwing this out as a place to start talking. What is clear is that the Maryland piecemeal system doesn't work very efficiently.

      I don't think education is necessarily "efficient." But on the other hand, the further up the admin ladder you go the more streamlined it should be. It seems to me Maryland's very much the other way around right now.

      My interactions with state level admins at MSDE have left me unimpressed with the intellectual capabilities of the officeholders. Maybe I'll diary a couple things sometime.

      I think it's comical that one fella I've talked to loves t put "M.Ed., Ph.D." after his name. Like the world cares. I could put "M.B.A." after mine (and from a very, very good school) but I'm not insecure.

      Thump! Bang. Whack-boing. It's dub!

      by dadadata on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 05:28:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Your students are lucky to have you, ken. (31+ / 0-)

    Consider me a Tea Party Democrat, but it's not my "country" I want back:
    The Corporations stole the People's party -- I want my party back!

    by Jimdotz on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 04:07:45 AM PST

  •  Look at Texas to see what lies ahead (13+ / 0-)

    Practice tolerance, kindness and charity.

    by LWelsch on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 04:15:02 AM PST

    •  or try New Jersey under Christie (19+ / 0-)

      or Florida under Scott, or - sad to say - what will happen in NY under Cuomo.

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 04:21:31 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Or Maine under LePage. (14+ / 0-)

        Teachers here ALREADY eke out a meager existence; the pay-to-cost-of-living ratio is one of the lowest in the country, if I'm not mistaken.

        And I suspect there are many layoffs and benefit cullings to come. He couldn't even let his inauguration day go by, without mentioning his concern about the Maine employee's retirement system.

        Regards,
        Corporate Dog

        -----
        We didn't elect Obama to be an expedient president. We elected him to be a great one. -- Eugene Robinson

        by Corporate Dog on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 04:36:26 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  They're trying to make us all Lucky Duckies. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Corporate Dog

          All of the incoming Repub govs are finding ways to hurt union employees.

          That's what is so irritating about the reporting. The NYTimes had its own bullshit headline:
          Strained States Turning to Laws to Curb Labor Unions

          When the real story is that this is yet another instance of the Republicans using the economy as an opportunity to promote an agenda that they'd have difficulty implementing in more prosperous times.

          It doesn't help that the Times comes pretty close to equating Jerry Brown's review of worker pay, and Cuomo's one-year pay freeze, with the Republican tactics that are designed to structurally undermine and destroy unions.

          We must use what we have
          to build what we need. -Adrienne Rich

          by Xapulin on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 07:58:09 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  The difference is (12+ / 0-)

        Texas has been under republican rule much longer than most states, has falsely claimed their policies are successful, and the problems are worse.

        Practice tolerance, kindness and charity.

        by LWelsch on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 04:40:38 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I was very upset (7+ / 0-)

          that Perry managed to bluff the ignorant once more and get re-elected. I have since resigned to consider that maybe it was a blessing in disguise as there is no one and nothing to blame for what happens next except the republicans that have had the power and created this mess.   The upcoming austerity measures may wake up the populace. It's sad that it has come to this and I fear for the future.

          Be the change you want to see in the world. -Gandhi

          by DRo on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 04:48:13 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  ...has already happened in some parts of NY (18+ / 0-)

        My school district laid off over 90 teachers last summer -- I was one; although I've taught for almost 30 years, I was relatively new to the district and not "senior" enough to be retained.  I'm concerned that our new Governor will cut even more, and make it impossible for my district to call back the laid-off teachers.  To further cut back the education of disadvantaged students in a somewhat rough urban school district is tragic.  
        I'll get by -- barely -- but what about the kids in the schools who don't have a full schedule because the teachers aren't there?  What about the lost opportunities for these students, who frankly already have the deck stacked against them?

        •  Sad - Even sadder (10+ / 0-)

          all public servants are under attack

          Practice tolerance, kindness and charity.

          by LWelsch on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 05:15:36 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  You said "P****C"! n/t (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            northsylvania, Dirtandiron

            (-9,-9) pragmatic incrementalist :-P

            by Enterik on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 06:17:13 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Staff at the University of California too (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            StateofEuphoria
            My bargaining unit is coming off of a furlough year, where we were paid 4% less than our 2007 pay rate. Why were furloughs calculated based on 2007 pay? Because that's the last year the University gave us a pay increase.

            Meanwhile, while I feel sorry for myself and my union sisters and brothers, I feel just as bad for the students (and their parents) who were socked with a 32% fee increase (the University of California is legally prohibited from charging "tuition," so it refers to everything as a "fee") this academic year and an 8% increase already approved for next year.

        •  I expect to see many long-time teachers (0+ / 0-)

          encouraged to go. My husband retired a few years ago after teaching 38 years in California. His pension is good, if it lasts. We don't know for sure what will happen if California declares bankruptcy. We're living very frugally now trying to save a few months cushion in case "something bad" happens. Living in the SF Bay area never left much of a teacher's salary to accumulate a savings account. But, I digress....

          My point is that I'm already seeing a growing movement to reject raising the retirement age in favor of LOWERING it to make way for young families and kids just coming out of college who can't find jobs at all. I expect to see a lot more of this in the coming months and years. If a lot of people take early Social Security retirement at age 62, it could save SS some money in the long run.

          Save all you can, Ken, and pay off debt. You may feel increasing pressure to retire whether you want to or not.

          Tax cuts for everybody, but no EXTRA tax cuts for the rich.

          by RJDixon74135 on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 07:17:08 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Heh--you forgot California. (3+ / 0-)

        California under Schwarzenegger, or, now, under Brown. This early in his tenure Brown has already hit on an idea to close the gaping budget shortfall--something, ahem, brand-new and ingenious: he'll bleed public education in this state! You gotta hand it to an old politician who doesn't want to make the rich pay their fair share of taxes, he sure is inventive :)

        It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

        by karmsy on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 06:16:06 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  He announced the other day (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          paxpdx, karmsy

          that schools were his highest priority and an exception to his budget policy of cutting.

          Schools have some of the same problems as other occupations with those at the time sucking the system dry.  See this  and your blood will boil

          The University of California’s top two officials have issued a statement elaborating on their position that the system’s highest paid executives are not entitled to enhanced pension benefits.

          Thirty-six of those executives, including five who work at UCSD, have threatened a lawsuit against the university unless they receive the benefits they believe were promised to them in 1999.

          SNIP

          For the purposes of the university’s pension calculations, an employee’s highest salary is capped at $245,000, regardless of what he or she is actually paid. Thus, the maximum annual pension for 30-year employees is $183,750, whether they earned $245,000 or $700,000 annually.

          Under the same formula without a cap, a $700,000 salary could entitle an employee to an annual pension of $525,000.

          The signers of the letter contend the regents agreed in 1999 to lift the cap so long as the Internal Revenue Service allowed them to do so. In 2007, the IRS ruled that the cap could be lifted.

          SNIP

          Nearly 1,000 UC faculty and staff have signed a petition in recent days condemning the executives’ threatened lawsuit. And the UC Academic Senate has been on record against the proposed pension increase since March 2009. They contend the enhanced pensions would exacerbate the university’s existing budget challenges.

          •  I was basing my assertion above (0+ / 0-)

            (Brown's intention to cut education further) on a story I read in the newspaper. Frustratingly, I can't find it to link to it.

            It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

            by karmsy on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 07:00:52 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  What I saw was a clip on TV (0+ / 0-)

              I coud be wrong, but I don't think Brown will go after schools.  I lived in the state the first time he was governor, and he frequently does the unexpected--for better or worse.  He has nothing to lose now.  Not hankering for another office.  This is it for him.  Let's see what he does--or tries to do, given the recalcitrance of the California legislature.

      •  Christie is ruining this state (0+ / 0-)

        This state does have excellent schools. Most kids graduate and many go to college. One of the reasons people stay here despite the high cost of living is that if your kids want to go to college, if they apply themselves they should be ready when they graduate high school. Why fix what isn't broken? He doesn't give a shit because he sends his kids to private school.

        Where are all the jobs, Boenher?

        by Dirtandiron on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 07:46:42 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Or Michigan (10+ / 0-)

      Last year, all school employees (including clerical and maintenance, but not private schools receiving per pupil money) got a 3% pay reduction, supposedly to fund our pensions.  However, when we sought a guarantee that, consistent with the spirit of ERISA, our pensions would not be reduced, we got nothing.

      And in the meantime, legislation is kicking around to take away our right to collectively bargain our health benefits with the district; instead, we (and all other public employees, school, state, municipal) will all get the same coverage as chosen by the state.  And yes, there are more proposals to cut ALL public employees' pay.

      Good thing education is so critical to our state and its recovery from the ongoing economic crisis/depression.

      "Unseen, in the background, Fate was quietly slipping the lead into the boxing glove." P.G. Wodehouse

      by gsbadj on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 04:37:05 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Same Headline from Blue CT (4+ / 0-)

      On Wednesday, CT inaugurated its first Democratic governor in 20 years, Dan Malloy.   I like Dan, I really do (I didn't think he could win, but I was proven wrong by about 6k votes).  I believe he is genuinely progressive in his beliefs.  And even here, we see this on his first full day in office:

      After pledging during the campaign that he would maintain state funding for local education, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy backed off a bit Thursday, saying that is "a goal" that he will "try and accommodate."

      Republicans just try to block anything Democrats and science have to say.

      by Russells 10 on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 05:38:16 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I live in CT too, (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        4Freedom, Dirtandiron, tardis10

        as saw the same thing.  I am a certified teacher and a parent of two boys.  I live in Eastern CT, certainly not the bastion of wealth.  We did a few years in public school then went to private school.  We were not impressed with the private school and for what we were paying I wanted to be REALLY impressed.  Also, it being a boarding/day school the kids were there from 7:30 - 5:00 Monday - Friday and then 2-3 hours of homework a night.  There was no time for anything else, but school.  

        So, now we are home schooling.  I was terrified when we started, but we got our "groove on" and we really are able to accomplish so much in one day!  The kids also have many opportunities for social interaction, which is one of the concerns I had.

        I am really hoping that public education turns around and that teachers are treated with the respect they deserve.    

    •  or Delaware (0+ / 0-)

      We're so tiny that many don't know that all state employees were furloughed last year for three says. Our health insurance contribution was raised by 50% (I can't complain; it's still a pretty good deal). Steps, clusters and new NBCT stipends were cut. (We just barely stopped them from taking existing ones) And although we "won" RTTT funds, Markell is beginning the "We gotta cut" talk again.

      "If they give you ruled paper, write the other way" Juan Ramon Jimnez

      by Teiresias70 on Wed Jan 12, 2011 at 02:09:39 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  All of that money (22+ / 0-)

    we waste on those tests while our teachers are struggling to get by. Our priorities are really messed up.

    It has been said that man is a rational animal. All my life I have been searching for evidence which could support this.--- Bertrand Russell

    by triv33 on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 04:22:19 AM PST

  •  In Illinois (22+ / 0-)

    there are forces gathering to attack not only the teachers unions (and essentially dismantle them) but all public sector unions.  It is the next logical step.  Having destroyed the manufacturing and "blue collar" unions, this is the logical target.  

    In my town, the firefighters pensions came under attack.  These are people who run into burning buildings while everyone else is running out, and they are being criticized over their pensions.  Teachers, nurses, firefighters, government employees - the last real bastions of union organization that has any tangible strength or meaning in US culture, so they are the low hanging fruit.

    As other working people eye the pension plans and salaries - which are obviously not in any way exhorbitant unless you compare them with the unfortunate private sector in this race to the bottom - you have a new, and powerful, wedge issue.

    "never trust a rich man when he offers you a truce"

    by KibbutzAmiad on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 04:30:32 AM PST

    •  Public employees (16+ / 0-)

      In MI, there are proposals to cut ALL government employees' pay (state, county, city) by some percentage.

      It's incredible to me how government pays such fawning lip service to "heroes" like policemen and firefighters... and then lambastes them as greedy pigs who resort to unionizing to bleed the government dry.

      Firemen, policemen and teachers all hear how hard their job is.  As a teacher, the week doesn't go by where someone doesn't tell me tht they'd never want to teach at a high school nowadays, much less as a special ed teacher.

      But there is no concept of paying people in these professions well in order to attract good candidates.  As I said elsewhere, that only applies to Wall Street or CEO jobs.

      "Unseen, in the background, Fate was quietly slipping the lead into the boxing glove." P.G. Wodehouse

      by gsbadj on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 04:53:19 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  In San Diego, CA (0+ / 0-)

      the firefighters pensions are close to bankrupting the city.  Many will make a pension of over $100k per year, but current fire houses are being closed on a rolling basis, like electricity brown outs, due to budget shortfalls.

      Another problem in California are the prison guard unions.  California now spends more on prisons than education San Francisco Chronicle.

    •  Referenda on Pensions (0+ / 0-)

      I know Illinois doesn't have binding referenda like California (thank god), but I've been thinking recently that it'd be nice to get at least one relating to pensions in there:

      * The legislature may not cut negotiated benefits in state-run pensions without making a equivalent or greater cuts to legislative pensions. (possibly apply the same to state executive pensions, e.g. governor & elected/appointed positions). Want to cut public service pensions by 15% because you've been underfunding them for years? Prepare to cut legislator pensions as well. My feel is that this would be mostly symbolic since getting to the legislature is frequently tied to significant personal wealth, but even a symbolic gesture might be good. (Note: I believe IL significantly reduced pensions for future legislators and judges in March-April 2010).

      A possibly more controversial one would be to limit pension payouts to no more than six or seven times the state minimum wage for a full-time employee (in IL, 8.25 * 2000 * 6 = $99,000/year) with perhaps another 2x that ($33k) for further benefits (e.g. healthcare, etc.), but I'm not sure exactly where a lot of pensions fall.

  •  Here's how they should calculate teacher wages (23+ / 0-)

    How much would you pay to have your student tutored?
    $10/hr? $20/hr? $50/hr ....

    The average teacher in public schools is teaching 120-150 students a term (4 or 5 classes a day with an average of 30 students).  Some are handling as many as 180.

    What is the value of the student?  What would you pay to replace them if they were lost?  Can't calculate that one, can you?

    So a teacher is worth somewhere between $10/hr and incalculable -- per student.

    So let's make it simple.  They should get paid $10/student.   But if you argue they are not getting individual instruction -- I would point out at $10/hr that is what you pay for standard group extracurricular activities like karate, or football, or soccer, or horseback riding, if you are lucky.

    But because they are public employees and we love to beat them up... let's cut their pay to $5/student.  That comes to about $600-$750 a day X 180 days or about 108K- 135K.   Pretty good return for someone who is going to impact your kids lives for the next 50 years.

    "They really don't want to 'win' the war; they just want to have one."
    -- DelicateMonster

    by 8ackgr0und N015e on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 04:32:51 AM PST

    •  Wow--I like the way you think! (7+ / 0-)

      Great counter-arguments.  Turning it around from the usual "how much does the town pay per student" which comes out to thousands of dollars, although much of that goes to administration and building overhead, etc. to how much does each teacher get paid per student really brings home the disparity.

      Run with it.

    •  You nailed it (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      deepfish

      Alas now if only there was a passionate, net roots effort for education reform - a complete no brainer - teachers with criminal records, who lie on their applications, should be fired immediately. I applaud efforts to hold teachers accountable but test scores are not cutting it. My son's principal and his teachers are awesome, I wish only the best for them...what me and mom cannot understand, the teachers complaining about their salaries when they only teach 9 months out of the year, have a plethora of holidays, etc. Many teachers deserve this. However, school boards need to clean house - if the people teaching our children are held to a high moral standard not reflected in test scores they might have an argument...however I feel too many tax payers are exposed to the other side - corrupt teachers and school boards. We are sick of hearing about it and no one doing anything to stop it.

    •  I am not sure that makes sense. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mostel26

      Tutors make more because they are teaching my kid one on one.

      Also, lets be real, for every good teacher like teacherken there is a teacher who shouldn't be teaching anyone.  Teaching, right now, is a place for the idealistic and for people who are hiding out from the real world.  We need the former and a new set of people who are driven professionals.  The latter need to go.

      •  For every? (6+ / 0-)

        Post some support for that just so assertion.

        And even if it is true, for arguement's sake, why do you suppose school's must make do with C level English majors who decided to get a Teaching certificate...just in case?

        Because the job is hard, it precludes certain personality types, it is relatively low paying, high tedium, relatively low respect job with substantial after hours committments of ones time.

        If we as a nation, or even individuals, are serious about the future, we need to put the emphasis on education that is required to create an educated high tech population but we can't even keep the promise of job security and forseeable retirement for these low paying jobs that are so essential for our Nation.

        (-9,-9) pragmatic incrementalist :-P

        by Enterik on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 06:26:17 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Part of the reason it is tedious, (0+ / 0-)
          Our schools are failing, year after year, to teach our children adequately.  The places where our kids are failed the most frequently spend the most dollars per kid.  Further more, teachers unions fight tooth and nail against any attempt to measure teacher achievement, and fight to reward things that do not improve teacher quality, like master's in teaching.

          Low paying, and low respect is because that is what it has been designed to be by the teachers themselves.   The union protects current members, and they would not have their jobs in many cases if teaching was a higher paying, higher respect position, assuming they weren't simply grandfathered in and had their jobs protected.  Which of course the public won't pay for.  So we are stuck.

          Obviously it is more complicated than this, but the fact is we still teach kids the same way we did a hundred years ago, with the same types of people, at similar pay scale and respect level, but educating our youth is much more important now and requires them to learn very different things.  Dramatic change is necessary, and the major opponent to change in the system now is the teacher's unions.  More money is needed, but it alone will do nothing.  For parts of the left, and the unions, it is the only answer that is ever put forward, along with odes to the magical self sacrifice of teachers.

          •  You have the anti-teacher spiel down (8+ / 0-)

            The low pay and respect are leftovers from the time that we thought that anyone could be a teacher and that unmarried women were eminently suited for the role until they got married.

            As long as your anti-teacher attitude holds sway, no reform is possible.

            Time to strip citizenship from treacherous immigrants like Rupert Murdoch

            by freelunch on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 06:51:42 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I completely agree! (0+ / 0-)

              The problem is now anybody HAS become a teacher.  And anybody can't do it!  We need to pay teachers a lot more, but we also need to get rid of a lot of problem teachers!

              •  No, that was the problem... (0+ / 0-)

                ...before normal schools.

                Now the problem is that the career of teaching is so professionally unatrractive in some places schools have to take anyone they can get even if they aren't certified.

                It's a chicken and egg scenario.

                (-9,-9) pragmatic incrementalist :-P

                by Enterik on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 09:25:10 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

          •  It's not possible to evaluate teachers (7+ / 0-)

            by their product because students are not widgets and their competence, being cumulative, doesn't ripen until much later.  Besides, learning is an individual endeavor.  Teachers provide the tools and the environment.

            But, many of our public elected officials, who see themselves as rulers, rather than servants of the people, perceive themselves in conflict with teachers when it comes to telling people what to believe and how to behave.  Rather than tending to their own business and managing our public assets (natural and man-made), they prefer to focus on dictating to those they are supposed to serve.  And when the public doesn't obey, it must be the fault of the teachers, 'cause the media are certainly on the right side.

            The conservative mind relies mainly on what is plain to see.

            by hannah on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 07:06:33 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  If you can't evaluate people (0+ / 0-)

              you are guaranteed to get a substandard product.  The rest of the public and most of the private sector does not operate that way, and where it does operate that way (witness parts of Wall Street in the last couple of years) there are huge problems.  We can't have perfect metrics, sure, but if you are telling me we can't evaluate teachers, we are doomed.  Fortunately, the rest of the world's education system isn't run this way, so we know we can do better and we can evaluate effectively.

              •  Build your evaluation scheme then... (0+ / 0-)

                ...it's so much easier to tear something down than construct something useful.

                Before you do, you might give Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers a gander, it has a lot to say on the issue of student "variability".

                (-9,-9) pragmatic incrementalist :-P

                by Enterik on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 09:28:04 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  People are not products. At least not ideally. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Mostel26

                That said, it's logically inappropriate to evaluate a person by how someone else behaves.  At least, not if every person is considered to enjoy autonomy, self-direction and liberty.

                American society has developed a bad habit of judging people in terms of personal characteristics, relationships, socio-economic status, etc -- everything but what they actually do.  In part that's because judging action and performance requires close attention and patience, leaving little opportunity for the short-hand that is prejudice.
                American high society, the people who think they're in charge, is lazy.  We do have a leisure class.  They exist by extorting the labor of the majority.  They're like a hive of queen bees.
                Our mistake is in, in addition to catering to their freeloading existence, letting them dictate how the things we all need to survive are to be collected and produced.  It's like the queen bee in the middle of the hive doing the waggle dance to direct the worker bees.

                The conservative mind relies mainly on what is plain to see.

                by hannah on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 01:19:48 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

          •  So (5+ / 0-)

            Leaving individual teachers subject to the tender mercies of elected officials is somehow better?  Tell us, assuming there were no teacher unions, how are you going to attract those genius teachers that you seem so sure will flock to the profession if only we removed the artificial barrier of the unions?  Let's see . . . at will employment with no job security, constant mandated standardized knowledge testing for students which will determine your "performance" (and thanks to NCLB, with a requirement that there be continuous improvement every year forever and ever), and lets not kid ourselves, low salaries and benefits because taxpayers and the officials they elect just don't like taxes.  Sounds like a recipe for attracting those smart kids that would otherwise go to Wall Street to me!

            The real problem with inner city schools (and that's mainly what we are talking about when we say public schools are "failing") is chronic, crushing, poverty.  And until we do something about that, schools serving that population, whether they be public, private, or magical charter schools, will continue to fail, regardless of how many penalties we pile on them, how much money we throw at them, how many wonderous new educational methods we impose, how many teachers we fire, or anything else.  

            •  I would leave them to elected officials or other (0+ / 0-)

              public officials to be evaluated.  That's how public administration works.  Lots of public services work well.  The employees who work for them don't whine about being at the mercy of elected officials.  I've been one of those people.  And you attract them by paying more.  The unions right.  
              We need more money.  They are just wrong that that is all we need.  Also, the kids going to "Wall Street" aren't attracted to job security.  They don't want one job or one career forever.  The people looking for that security, rather than looking for success or have a fire in their belly for teaching, are the exact wrong people to have be teachers.  It is a horrible, perverse incentive to create a system that attracts people looking for security and stability in a field that is best served by dynamic change, especially in the 21st century.

              •  Apples and Oranges... (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                ByTor, Mostel26

                ...students are not employees. You cannot fire them. Whether they try or not they get the scores they get. You might as well evaluate the teacher on the random numbers they pick that match the lottery drawing.

                Also, the Teacher versus Wall Street is a false dichotomy regarding a decision that is never made. As is your security versus success, the two things are not mutually exclusive. You could have said low risk high security versus high risk low security.

                What's perverse about security and stability? what is so ever changing about teaching? Education is best served by patience and structure, at least before high school.

                The reason to raise teacher compensation is to attract those nurturing people on the brink of selecting other careers and stay with them.

                (-9,-9) pragmatic incrementalist :-P

                by Enterik on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 01:37:18 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  Schools Work! (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              SingleVoter, ByTor

              You know what the difference between inner city schools and rich suburban schools are?

              "Natural Development" during the summer. What does that mean?

              During the school year rich kids and poor kids learn at the same rates making similar gains on standardized achievement tests.

              However, every summer the poor kids lose ground as they are allowed to develop naturally, which generally means run free and entertain themselves. In contrast, children from wealthy or more educated families live in an relatively intellectually enriched existence, with activities and active parenting that help them maintain more of the gains they made the previous school year.

              Now compound this over 1o years and what results is a dramatic achievement gap over the course of an educational career.

              This sort of "Natural development" style of parenting also has consequences during the school year. Think about after school in any poor neighborhood and I'm sure visions of intent students focussed on homework is not what comes to mind. The fact is that the sort of do as you please idleness that occurs after school presents a tremendous opportunity for a student to be "distracted" by nonproductive pursuits like skateboarding, videogaming, recreational drugs, you name it. Be it a single parent home, two job family or disengaged guardian students drift away from education into social promotion with devastating consequences. No longer engaged the student longer realizes the achievement I asserted at the beginning of this comment.

              (-9,-9) pragmatic incrementalist :-P

              by Enterik on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 12:22:20 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Not entirely (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Enterik

                While I agree regression during the summer is one factor, I don't think it is the most important for the inner city schools I know about.

                My wife is a teacher in an inner city middle school in Minneapolis.  Many of her students are so poor they do not have a winter coat and come to school in basically summer clothes (it is about 10F here right now).  For some of them, the only decent meal they get each day is the free lunch they get at school.  Many of them have chaotic home lives, with parents that are working multiple jobs to try and make ends meet, parents that have substance abuse problems, or are even essentially homeless with no fixed address.  These kids are often hungry and tired when they come to school.  They have all the emotional issues you might expect from the chaos in their lives, and are anything but engaged when they get to school.  It is not hard to understand why.  And while not every kid in the class has these problems, enough of them do that it is very difficult to maintain an orderly environment so the others can learn at the pace they should.

                I suspect these conditions are the case in many inner city schools all over the country.  

                If we want these kids to learn, we need to find a way to get them security and stability so they can come to school ready to learn.  That means a safe place to live, enough food to eat, decent clothes to wear, and parents that have access to the ability to make a living without working 24/7, so they can provide the adult supervision the school will never be able to provide outside of school hours.

                Unfortunately, our society seems to be moving in exactly the opposite direction.  Every one for themselves, and to hell with those, including the kids, that can't pull themselves up by their own bootstraps.  

                •  We're feeling up the same elephant... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  ByTor

                  ...my main point was that when everything goes right for a poverty stricken kid in an inner city school they can make gains as well as anyone.

                  I tried to touch on some of what you so eloquently emphasized when speaking about after school issues.

                  As a graduate of the school lunch program myself I can only say that a hot dog, mac and cheese and green beans were godsends. I remember lining up for my ticket every morning.

                  Back to present reality, I agree that every day we as a nation suffer from the pernicious effects of anarcho-libertarian idealogy that has been foisted

                  (-9,-9) pragmatic incrementalist :-P

                  by Enterik on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 04:53:08 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

          •  Repition is tedious... (0+ / 0-)

            ...teachers have to teach the same things over and over again and if you can't find some sort of reward during that process, god help you. I am speaking of the practical reality of actually doing that job day after day. I teach post-graduates introductory genetics and I'm already tired of reteaching the same lectures from last year but the demands remains the same. being a teacher requires infinite patience to endure the tedium born of repitition. This fact has nothing to do with the political postuing around education.

            The low pay and low respect that teachers experience in the public conscience predates the recent critiques of Union politics. They are the cultural heritage of America's agrarian and industrial history the begrudged learning as necessary means to ends for a rapidly modernizing nation. Teaching wasn't the career goal of an educated person and standards for teachers were almost non-existant until Horace Mann's 2 year Normal Schools (1840s) started training teachers for that expressed purpose and basically remained as high school plus until the started morphing into State Colleges in the 1940s. These remained distinct from the Ivy League and Land Grant Universities which were perceived as true higher education for technically challenging and white collar jobs. This bias remains, despite increasing sophistication in such pursuits.

            Today's teachers have far better training than those of the past and realize far greater gains than even when I was a child. They have the benefit of decades of research and do not tach the same way today as when I was a child.

            Are there suboptimal teachers? Indeed some are better than others. Why they persist is a complex question with many contributing factors that are not addressed by union bashing. Many of these factors are beyond the teachers control but invariably influence the educational outcomes of their charges the common standard by which teacher bashers usually propose using as the measure of competence.

            We need to get past this point of putting all the focus on dangling the sword of Damocles over teachers and take a holistic look at the problem. But if one insists on accountability as a primary solution one has to be a little less offensive to teachers, a little less idealogical, and a little more persuasive.

            As an active PTA member, I know this for a fact, all of the teachers my child could have had thusfar are more than up to the task, they are upbeat, enthusiastic and they keep current. I have yet to see one of those teachers you talk about.

            I may post on the subject of contributing factors and solutions in another response to your comment, so maybe look back later

            (-9,-9) pragmatic incrementalist :-P

            by Enterik on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 09:22:26 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Where will we get the professionals from? (5+ / 0-)

        You want professionals but don't appear to think we should pay for them. Aside from a small pool of idealists where will the people come from.

        Time to strip citizenship from treacherous immigrants like Rupert Murdoch

        by freelunch on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 06:49:22 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  We need to pay for them (0+ / 0-)

          or the Chinese and Indians will eat our lunch.  Period.  Also, there is nothing saying that all teachers need to be teachers for a lifetime.  It can be a step in peoples career, not a career itself.  Most people, in the modern economy, change careers multiple times.  The education system should make this a feature of its system.

      •  "Driven professionals" at 40 grand a year (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ByTor, Dirtandiron, altius2020

        who won't have anything near the salary increases that driven professionals in other fields do?  

      •  Hiding out from the real world? (0+ / 0-)

        That is flat out wrong. Of what real world are you speaking?

  •  Even college profs are in dire straights (15+ / 0-)

    Those who can get a job, which is a fast shrinking number of doctoral graduates, are faced with lower starting incomes.  My husband's school pays summer tuition based on "enrollment generation" which sounds reasonable, except summer classes already tend to be smaller, and he only teaches one class at a time.  So he basically has to act as a marketer and recruiter for his own classes, passing out flyers and trying to convince at least 14 students to sign up for each session, or else his paychecks will be missing a lot of money.

    It's a terrible idea, and while the local big university pays more and on a straight up "per class" lump sum, they haven't needed any outside adjuncts for years because their own professors are so strapped for cash and take all the summer classes.

    We looked at the state salaries, and professors at his school are the lowest paid in the state. There will be no raises and no cost of living adjustments next year, and up to ten furlough days too.

    And with Nathan Deal as governor now, I think it's only going to get worse for everyone, K-12 and college, in our state.  We're quite worried.

    Conservatives: They love America. They hate actual Americans.

    by catwho on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 04:36:16 AM PST

  •  Watch what is happening in Ohio. (18+ / 0-)

    Of all the new governors, John Kasich, Republican of Ohio, appears to be planning the most comprehensive assault against unions. He is proposing to take away the right of 14,000 state-financed child care and home care workers to unionize. He also wants to ban strikes by teachers, much the way some states bar strikes by the police and firefighters.http://www.nytimes.com/...

        If teachers lose the right to strike they will no longer be able to settle a contract. My wife is a retired teacher and former union rep and from Illinois, and from personal experience I know that strikes or the threat of them is the only thing that enables teachers to bargain with most school boards.

    "Education is dangerous - Every educated person is a future enemy" Hermann Goering (NRSC?)

    by irate on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 04:38:21 AM PST

    •  We can't strike in Michigan (8+ / 0-)

      ... and we've had to work without a contract for a few years now.  It sucks.

      "Unseen, in the background, Fate was quietly slipping the lead into the boxing glove." P.G. Wodehouse

      by gsbadj on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 04:42:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Work-to-rule (7+ / 0-)

      is what we've done in Mass. where it is illegal to go on strike. Basically that means that you only do what you are contractually obligated to do and no more.  You do your job--teaching classes, holding office hours, sitting on committees, etc.  This works because, as most of know (or maybe not), teachers actually do a lot of extra work, which is uncompensated.  When they stop doing that work, it does get noticed.

      Also, you can hold "informational" pickets, by standing out on the street and holding signs, waving at cars, etc.  You can speak to the press and tell the community what you are doing and why.   This is not a strike because you are still doing your job, as well as standing out.

      You can stand as a group outside a meeting of decision-makers, administrators, for example, chanting and singing, jangling keys and stomping your feet.  This is not a strike, because you are still doing your job, while sending a message of displeasure.

      But you have to be organized about it.  

    •  cause home care and child care (7+ / 0-)

      workers are so overpaid right now...like some are making more than the minimum wage.

      The problem is that the market doesn't put a dollar value on what is truly valuable (care and education of our next generation and our aged and ill)

      and puts a high dollar value on things that truly damage our society (hedge fund managers, stock brokers, corporate CEOs, corporate lawyers).

      Skepticism of all the elite institutions, not trust, is what required for successful leadership in this era. Digby

      by coral on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 06:28:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Rich and Powerful (17+ / 0-)

    Are hunting for new ground for wealth extraction.  Public employees are next.  They've already decimated blue collar and white collar private workers.

    The promise of Social Security is not negotiable.

    by bink on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 04:44:32 AM PST

  •  I'm guessing the timbre of the comments... (19+ / 0-)

    ... in this diary should take a turn for the worse around 9:30AM EST, give or take.

    By then, office drones like me will be seated at our desks, cups of coffee in hand.

    Office drones that are decidedly UNLIKE me, will then bitch about the cost of benefits that unions successfully won for their members, utterly missing the whole point of unions in the process.

    Because it's far more exedient to bring everybody down to the same, miserable, substandard level of living, than it is to try and emulate the successes of unions in places where they don't currently exist.

    Regards,
    Corporate Dog

    -----
    We didn't elect Obama to be an expedient president. We elected him to be a great one. -- Eugene Robinson

    by Corporate Dog on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 04:47:13 AM PST

    •  As one such office drone (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Wham Bam

      my concern is that the teachers unions have created an environment where teachers face little incentives to improve or consequences for failure, and fight creating adequate metrics for success or failure.  The unions protect teachers, but they do it in a way that hurts kids by making being a teacher similiar to working at the BMV, and it is to important for that.  Just because it is a union doesn't mean it is perfect or wonderful.  Unions are large powerful organizations organized around maximize wealth for their stakeholders, and should be questioned like any other large organization of that type.

      •  Adequate metrics... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ByTor, virginwoolf, Mostel26

        .. don't come from a canned test.

        It doesn't even work that way in the private sector. I've worked for several companies over the course of my career, and every one of them has had some sort of ridiculous system for rating employees. They say these ratings are what your bonuses typically hinge on.

        But every year, I hear the same story: "We're only allowed to give out X ratings at this tier, and almost nobody ever gets the highest tier, so we're sticking you in the middle tier. If it were up to me, I'd rank you one higher. Really. I would. But it's just not in the budget."

        If a rating system is on a scale of 1 to 5 (as most of these systems are) then let's be honest: who's ever going to get a 1? If your performance is that bad, you're going to be shown the door in short order, not as a result of your annual rating, but as a result of the behaviors you're engaging in, on the job.

        If you can make the boss believe that you're working hard, and you can schmooze the right people, actual performance has very little to do with this rating.

        I'm lucky if I see my manager once a month. He's not keeping any sort of measurable results on my work. When the time comes to hand out bonuses, he goes to the project manager and asks, "Are you happy with Corporate Dog's work?"

        And the project manager isn't really analyzing my work either, in any sort of numeric, statistically measurable fashion. He's thinking about all of his experiences with me over the last year, and maybe he gets a certain impression one way or another. Have I been a difficult co-worker? Am I consistently late? Do I shun paperwork? Do I play the game of office politics well? Am I one of his golfing buddies?

        Should teachers be held to a higher standard? I don't know. The programming work that I do could (indirectly) save sailor's lives, so I guess that's important.

        But let's assume, "Yes. They should be held to a higher standard." Because metrics of this sort in the corporate world are INCREDIBLY fucked up.

        My next question is, "Are test scores an accurate measure of a teacher's performance in the classroom?" And the answer is a resounding, 'no'.

        If you want to deal in any sort of accurate analysis of a teacher's job, it's going to take people, time, and money. You're going to need to hire independent classroom observers. You're going to need folks who can look at the coursework of individual students, and see if they show signs of improvement over the course of a year. And there's a certain bit of 'je ne sais quois' involved as well.

        There's no easy solution, despite what what testing proponents say. If teachers are important enough to be graded, they're important enough to have the grading done RIGHT.

        Regards,
        Corporate Dog

        -----
        We didn't elect Obama to be an expedient president. We elected him to be a great one. -- Eugene Robinson

        by Corporate Dog on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 08:05:04 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Testing isn't a great metric alone, (0+ / 0-)

          and is way to focused on.  However, you acknowledge that the corporate process you outline, which is basically bad management, is bad, right?  If we wouldn't want to invest or work for that company, why would we want our schools managed that way?  Its crazy.  We want to manage our schools the best way possible.  Other private and public sector failings don't change that fact, and the fact the every other venture, public or private, at least tries to adequately measure the results of what they are doing, in the public sector by metrics, the private by profitability, that should tell you something.  Teaching is not the one unique thing that doesn't need it.

          •  The corporate process is a farce... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ByTor, Mostel26

            ... used to justify limiting employee payouts. If it were treated as something more than a budgeting tool where the tail wags the dog, it could have some value to it.

            Where the rubber meets the road, is the process that occurs day in, day out. Not with any sort of measurable statistics, but with simple daily observations about my work.

            I'm a software developer. Statistically, how would you grade my performance?

            Would you grade it on the number of programs I pump out? Sometimes (often) I don't write full programs. Sometimes I just add additional functionality to existing programs. Do those count?

            Do you base my output on the lines of code I've written? Good luck measuring that.

            Perhaps, you could base it on the number of bugs that are found in my software after it goes into production? That's not particularly fair, given that bugs can stem from many things that aren't the developers' fault (poor data, poor QA processes, system incompatibilities, etc.) And even the BEST software developers aren't going to produce bug-free software.

            Actually, this last one sounds A LOT like basing a teacher's performance on standardized testing. And it's just as insane.

            Regards,
            Corporate Dog

            -----
            We didn't elect Obama to be an expedient president. We elected him to be a great one. -- Eugene Robinson

            by Corporate Dog on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 08:54:19 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  The best metrics I have seen for (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        teacherken, ByTor, virginwoolf

        evaluating both teachers and students all come from teachers. The idea that the teachers and their scary unions don't want to improve outcomes in education is ill-informed at best. Perhaps you need to learn a bit more about what is going on in education?

        Consider reading Diane Ravitch, The Death and Life of the Great American School System, & Vollmer's Schools Cannot Do It Alone and following the conversations at http://blogs.edweek.org/... Of course,teacherken here is a wonderful resource,too.

        Btw,my local HS has all union teachers!! Very strong union,I hear. They also have a graduation rate around 99% & a very high success rate regarding all testing. Guess the union hasn't prevented them from doing a great job.  

        "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

        by tardis10 on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 08:06:46 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Frankly good teachers (0+ / 0-)

          only matter when travel down the economic scale, sadly.  Middle class and upper middle class, not to mention rich, kids get carried by their parents across the finish line if the teachers can't help.  People working to jobs or physically demanding ones often lack the ability to do that, and the education system often failed them too.  Poverty is an important element to this discussion, and part of the solution to.

          I tend to think Ravitch fails because she puts so much emphasis on community.  Community is frequently part of the problem.  Strengthening, sick, broken, and homogeneous communities can't be done by further reinforcing their homogeneity.  We should be using the school system to foster a broader, more cosmopolitan understanding of the world in children, not the tribal loyalties of neighborhood and community.  No where is this truer than in rural and inner city school, where the horizons can be far, far to small for kids.

          Ravitch's own work frequently bolsters my arguments.

          I think teacher based colleague evaluations are an excellent COMPONENT of teacher evaluations.  But just as my work isn't evaluated only by what my coworkers think of me its crazy to think education would be well served by that alone.

          •  wrong again (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            tardis10

            I teach largely middle class kids with professional parents.  And my parents will tell you the teachers at our school make a huge difference in the lives of their kids.

            "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

            by teacherken on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 02:34:50 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Crabs in a bucket n/t (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Corporate Dog, Dirtandiron, tardis10

      (-9,-9) pragmatic incrementalist :-P

      by Enterik on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 06:28:38 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  You put your finger on something. (4+ / 0-)

      There is an awful lot of union-bashing out there, and you even run across plenty of it in this venue. There are good-faith criticisms to be made of unions and their influence, sure. But the anti-union vitriol is basically a "macho" form of whining, abetted by the RW noise machine, a recourse by individuals who feel pinched and compromised economically and who don't want to look at the real reasons why.

      Great comment, I wish I could tip it 1,000 times.

      It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

      by karmsy on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 06:36:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's ironic (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Corporate Dog

      office drones like me will be seated at our desks, cups of coffee in hand.

      Office drones that are decidedly UNLIKE me, will then bitch about the cost of benefits that unions successfully won for their members, utterly missing the whole point of unions in the process.

      People writing whiny criticisms of others not working hard enough, while they themselves are supposed to be working. But that's okay because they are not in a union?

      Where are all the jobs, Boenher?

      by Dirtandiron on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 07:22:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  action plan anyone? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    4Freedom, jjellin, karmsy, Dirtandiron

    It's not a fake orgasm; it's a real yawn.

    by sayitaintso on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 04:47:21 AM PST

  •  Two things (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    4Freedom, karmsy, Dirtandiron
    1. It's hard to get into this topic without looking at what someone actually makes.  That's not something to be asked or answered in a public website, though.
    1. You're in one of the two classic-conundrum places when it comes to teacher (and other public sector) salaries.  One (yours) is the high-cost, high-wage (private wages, that is) region, and the other is the low-cost, low-wage region.  If teachers get a uniform salary, they'll be underpaid in one place and overpaid in the other.  If salaries are adjusted to the region, you'll always have political problems in wealthy regions (because taxpayers selfishly want to pay the lower salaries prevailing in poorer regions), and recruitment-and-retention problems in poorer regions (because young teachers, like young people generally, don't embrace the notion of purchasing power vs. nominal salary).

    "George Washington said I was beautiful"--Sarah Palin on Barbara Bush, as imagined by Mark Sumner

    by Rich in PA on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 04:47:35 AM PST

    •  In some states public employee pay is public (6+ / 0-)

      It seems only fair that the pay of everyone be public. Sure public employee benefits are generally better (for the very bad reason that many governments were allowed not to properly fund deferred benefits without counting it as debt), but pay is generally worse.

      97% of everyone in this country should be completely opposed to the cult of capital, yet even Democrats in Congress seem far too willing to bow to Wall Street and billion dollar 'small businesses'.

      If we need jobs and the private sector doesn't hire, the government needs to and at a living wage.

      Time to strip citizenship from treacherous immigrants like Rupert Murdoch

      by freelunch on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 05:06:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Here you go (7+ / 0-)

      This link will likely anger some people because it shows how much teachers in nyc public schools (not private or charter) get paid. I'm pretty sure we get paid much more than in most other locations in the country.

      http://www.uft.org/...

      Going to the right on the chart has to do with your degrees / credits and going down has to do with years of experience. When I start out I will already have 2 Masters so in my first year I will get 57,320. This is a lot of $$, but understand that in order to get those 2 Master's I had to pay for them and also spent a lot of years making 30K or less.

      I don't agree with the way that the salary steps and differentials are arranged but it is what it is.

      Not many people would get into teaching if they thought that they would make less than $50K for the rest of their careers.

      "I'm a hopeless romantic...you're just hopeless." -Bouncing Souls

      by AndrewOG on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 05:22:46 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Ken, it's my understanding step increases are NOT (3+ / 0-)

    ended by the federal pay freeze - like your wife, I work for Uncle Sam.  Am I mistaken?  Of course, once you reach Step 7, I think, they only come every three years anyway, under the GS system.  My predicament is that my wife & I split and I have to pay the mortgage on a house purchased on the strength of two salaries, by myself.  I have 1 1/2 years ago to reach that 59 1/2 no-penalty withdrawal age.  I was making up some of the difference with OT that was available, but for now it's not and, with this Congress, may not be again.

  •  Thanks for posting this Ken (9+ / 0-)

    I'll be starting to look for a teaching job soon to start in the Fall, and I cringe about having to worry about the unions, tenure, pay freezes, etc. I'm lucky enough that I can fall back on my engineering degree if need be. But it will be sad if I can't make a decent salary doing what I love to do. This is in NYC where the cost of living is higher than most places.

    There was an article today about how Bloomberg just stopped paying 4M in fees to 10 computer consultants for the schools. Idiocy. How much do you pay someone in hourly wages (at $225/hr) before you realize it makes more sense to just hire them full-time!?

    http://www.nydailynews.com/...

    "I'm a hopeless romantic...you're just hopeless." -Bouncing Souls

    by AndrewOG on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 04:48:32 AM PST

    •  Reagan defamed government workers and it stuck (19+ / 0-)

      Many states have hired consultants to do projects that cost far more than if they were done in-house and the results have not been better, but the governors and their appointees seem to have learned nothing at all.

      Time to strip citizenship from treacherous immigrants like Rupert Murdoch

      by freelunch on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 05:08:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The Damage That Idiot Reagan Did to This Country (8+ / 0-)

        is almost incomprehensible.  And you are right, it all began with that vile beast.

      •  This is something I don't understand (4+ / 0-)

        There's been years of evidence of how consultants do crappy jobs and cost more yet governments still hire them rather than full-time employees.

        Unless its just all about corruption and cronyism.  That I can understand.  

        "I'm a hopeless romantic...you're just hopeless." -Bouncing Souls

        by AndrewOG on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 05:40:02 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Businesses are victimized by that belief as well (2+ / 0-)

          It's not as if consultants do an intentionally crappy job for governments and then shine when they are doing a consulting gig for a business. Consulting can be useful in the context of added a specialist who is needed for a particular short-term project, but companies need to have people who understand the company and those people are employees.

          The headcount fetish that allows executives to get away with such short-term thinking is absurd in all situations and harms corporate profits as much as it hurts taxpayers.

          Most companies have managed to get a good balance in one of the oldest areas where consultants are regularly hired: law. People don't normally call outside counsel consultants, but they are. The companies that do best with this are the ones with a corporation counsel office that knows when to do it in-house and when to hire a local outsider.

          Time to strip citizenship from treacherous immigrants like Rupert Murdoch

          by freelunch on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 06:15:16 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  but the private sector (9+ / 0-)

        is always more efficient than the public sector, right?  That's why our health care is so much better than the rest of the world's, and so much cheaper--because the profit motive makes everything cheaper and better.

        /snark

        When my right-wing (wrote teabagging, but erased it because, eewww) FIL spouts that crap, I ask him (retired military) why we don't just get rid of the military and let Blackwater/Xe take over.  Or I ask him what he has against NASA when he opines that the government does absolutely nothing.  And he does make that claim, frequently.

        There is no snooze button on a cat who wants breakfast.

        by puzzled on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 05:42:12 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm curious when NASA started having problems (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Dirtandiron

          If it was because of massive budget cuts or they started relying too heavily on contractors?
          NASA is a weird animal in that a lot of research/development at universities falls under its budget.

          "I'm a hopeless romantic...you're just hopeless." -Bouncing Souls

          by AndrewOG on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 06:01:08 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Can we split the difference on that? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Heart of the Rockies

          I accept that MOST government employees (be they federal or state) earn their paychecks. My wife is a teacher. And she typically has a MUCH rougher day than I do, sitting here at my desk.

          I also agree that there's a mind-boggling amount of wasteful spending tied up in government contractors, that just shouldn't be there. There's no reason why government employees COULDN'T do a lot of the work that these contractors do, cheaper, better, and faster, ESPECIALLY when it comes to the military.

          But I work for a large corporation with a much smaller government contracting arm. My desk is at one of the Navy's shipyards, and I interact with civilian employees of the Navy on a daily basis.

          And many of the horror stories about waste, and slack, and nepotism that seem to inform the Republican mythos about government employees, is sadly, very real here. I attribute it to a sort of "trickle-down" attitude from the Pentagon, which suggets that its budget is untouchable, and its work, unasailable.

          It's one thing to get rid of government contracts, but I think if you do that, you should ALSO be raising the pay of federal employees in a significant fashion, AND tightening up hiring/firing rules, to ensure that you're getting the best and the brightest workers.

          Because right now, the existence of my job is due ENTIRELY to the fact that the federal software developers in my office are NOT up to the task. Their work ethic isn't great, their skills are poor, stagnant, or non-existant, and office politics tends to take precidence over good ideas, nine times out of ten.

          Regards,
          Corporate Dog

          -----
          We didn't elect Obama to be an expedient president. We elected him to be a great one. -- Eugene Robinson

          by Corporate Dog on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 06:24:55 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  of course (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Corporate Dog

            there's waste and corruption in government--why should it be immune.

            I work for a large non-profit health care system.  I can't begin to tell you the number of people at the managerial level who were hired because they have a parent on the board, or some such thing.  Not because they have any particular skill set, but because someone owed someone else a favor.

            There is no way to cut all the waste in government, and one bad teacher will give an entire school district a bad reputation, but we're at a point where if we don't stand up for public sector workers and their unions, that we risk rolling back all the worker protections that have been gained in the last 80 years.

            There is no snooze button on a cat who wants breakfast.

            by puzzled on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 07:50:49 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Don't even get me started on that shit (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        virginwoolf

        I have worked in state government for a quarter of a century and we have to hire fucking consultants to tell the administration and executive what we could have told them for free.  They just don't "believe" it until and "expert" that that pay over $100 per hour says it.

        Repubs - the people in power are not secretly plotting against you. They don't need to. They already beat you in public. (Bill Maher)

        by Sychotic1 on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 07:40:51 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Private companies do the same thing (0+ / 0-)

          They get no more out of it. One even used an Andersen Consulting guy as their temporary CIO until they eventually hired the guy to be the permanent one (no idea how much they paid AC to take him away). A couple of years later, they reorganized again and broke up the centralized IT department.

          Bureaucracies have a lot in common with each other, so I never trust anyone who is telling me that government needs to be more like the private sector. It's already too much like it.

          Time to strip citizenship from treacherous immigrants like Rupert Murdoch

          by freelunch on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 11:01:31 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  This is so important! (16+ / 0-)

    Thank you for sharing, these are the stories that need to be told!  I am not an educator, I am a parent and an ardent defender of teachers. Last year before our school budget vote there was a palpable anger aimed towards our teachers(who btw had agreed to a wage freeze). I stood up against the anger and explained that teachers were given good compensation packages because NJ did not want to give them high salaries.  At the time these benefits were cheap, so it was a good deal for our state and nobody complained.  When Sparta residents were using their bonuses to upgrade their homes, install paver patios and take their families on elaborate vacations, nobody complained about teacher benefits.  It was a scary moment to stand up in front of about 150 people and speak out, but things changed  that day. After the meeting so many came to me to thank me for my courage. There were so many parents who agreed with what I was saying but had been shouted down by the angry and vocal residents of our town. Our town remains divided but the opposing side is no longer intimidated into silence. We owe it to our children to defend the people who are such an integral part of their lives.

    " The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams"-Eleanor Roosevelt

    by Lh1695 on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 04:50:20 AM PST

    •  Good for you, but such courage is rare (0+ / 0-)

      That took courage.  Good for you.  However, the courage to stand against the crowd, particularly a crowd that might include one's employer, is increasingly rare.  

      •  Fighting for your children's education (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        salmo

        Should not require courage, it should just be the right thing to do. Many in my community have black balled me and say because I stood with teachers that day I am nothing more than an arm of the NJEA. I don't care what they say I will continue to fight for what is right and nobody can convince me defending the teachers is the wrong thing to do.

        " The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams"-Eleanor Roosevelt

        by Lh1695 on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 10:22:42 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, it should not (0+ / 0-)

          Yes, it should not be necessary to be courageous to advocate for your children.  But, many people are afraid, and with good reason.  For example, twenty years ago, I employed a woman who, in a matter unrelated to work, stood up to a city manager with whom my firm had a contract.  I defended her rights, and in the long run she was OK.  It cost me, though.  Free speech isn't free.

          •  I am truly sorry for the costs you suffered (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            salmo

            I am concerned about my kids because they participate in town activities and do fear that they may be forced to suffer for my outspoken beliefs. I hope I am sending them a strong message about the courage of your convictions. My older child(9 years old) wrote a letter to our local paper pleading with voters to pass our budget to save her favorite teacher from being fired. Tears rolled down her face as she wrote what her teacher meant to her. The newspaper wouldn't publish it and her teacher was laid off. A very hard pill to swallow for a fourth grader. These are the realities we are being forced to deal with, as tax cuts are given to millionaires.

            " The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams"-Eleanor Roosevelt

            by Lh1695 on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 11:38:18 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  It is a troubling time not only for teachers... (16+ / 0-)

    ...but for all public servants, and for workers in general.  Federal retirees have had their pensions frozen for a couple of years now.  Meanwhile, my property taxes rise, despite the property values declining.  

    It seems that each trip to the grocery store is more expensive than the previous one. And utilities? They keep increasing also.  

    And underlying it all, with the promises of "Austerity Measures" there is the real possibility that pensions could decrease or even disappear. The job prospects for older people, many with health issues are few to non-existent.  

    This situation--the consequences of budget evisceration--is, disturbingly, one that in one form or another many Americans will likely be facing, if the GOP's solutions of tax breaks paid for by cutting social programs and service cuts continues to prevail.

  •  Frogs in a slowly boiling pot (10+ / 0-)

    I feel like we need to energize a social movement akin to what is inFrance and the UK. We need people in the streets. The Koch brothers agenda to kill public education and make this a broken uneducated 3rd World Nation is well under way. What is it going to take to wake people up?

    The tea is not strong in the West.

    by Stumptown Dave on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 04:55:13 AM PST

  •  If you think education is expensive, (17+ / 0-)

    try ignorance, Derek Bok said. It seems the offer's being  taken up.

    All this austerity crap is just class warfare, a grotesque tax on the future by disinvestment in the present.

    Perhaps the Republicans will be kind enough to repeal child labor laws and the little nippers can be put to work. What better education for the entrepreneurial class could there be?

    "He who does not want to talk of capitalism should also remain silent about Fascism". Max Horkheimer, 1939

    by absolute beginner on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 04:55:51 AM PST

    •  Yes, it worked for Thomas Edison, lol! (4+ / 0-)

      Until he had to compete against A.C., that is. He didn't have the math background to understand it. Good thing he had saved some money for his old age. Also a good thing nobody talked about replacing the incandescent light bulb for another 125 years, too.

      Moderation in most things. Except Reactors. IFR forever!

      by billmosby on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 05:22:03 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Our High School's Accreditation Debate (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      absolute beginner

      In the mid-80's I resided in a town whose high school lost its accreditation.  To make a long story short, the school board eventually began to debate whether or not it should apply to be re-accredited.  Believe it or not, this was contentious.  Eventually, the side that valued education won, but in the interim it was shocking to hear arguments for ignorance and watch voters respond positively.  The strongest pro-ignorance argument was, "If we give the kids too good an education, they will leave!"   40% voted to keep the kids stupid, poor, and home.  That almost exactly matched the percentage of the town that were registered Republicans.

  •  Add Michigan to the list, especially Detroit (9+ / 0-)

    Detroit schools are in free fall, matching what you describe and much, much, more. In spite of  having a high-powered financial manager brought in, the debt of the district has more than doubled under his watch-care.

    That's not due to the teachers:  salaries have been frozen here for more than 2 years.  A "temporary" loan by teachers to the district takes out $250 per month, an additional 3% taken out to pay into the retirement system, huge increase in health care costs. . . . all paycuts under another name.

    And disrespect of teachers continues to grow:  Today, one of the columnists of our local newspaper implied that the Detroit schools are responsible for the actions of an 18-year-old who raped a 90  year old woman!  The schools failed him, she says

    As has been the case for the past 3 years, my spouse, who has taught for 13  years in the district, expects to be laid off at the end of this school year, not knowing whether he will be called back, as he has been, the day before school starts, and sent to a different school.  4 years, 4 schools, 5 principals. He is not alone in this "fruit-basket turnover" shuffling of staff:  3500 teachers were laid off last year, and almost all brought back for the start of school, very many to a new assignment. yes, that's the way to have really good schools.

  •  Govt employee here (11+ / 0-)

    Non-union civil servant here.

    No COLA or merit increases for us for 2 years. State pension people keep changing the rules for new hires. No layoffs or furloughs yet, but even depts that have some discretionary money are discouraged from spending it because "everyone's watching".

    Not to mention we're understaffed due to an unofficial
    hiring freeze, and expectations remain very high. Maybe even higher, to prove to TPTB that we can be efficient in adverse times.

    I laugh when people talk about our pensions - I assume it won't be there when I "retire". I'm fortysomething and started my career late after raising my kids. There won't be anything there if I slog it out. I'm sure of it.

    We have good insurance, but its costs keep rising and what it covers keeps changing.

    My husband and I both live within walking distance of our jobs and our kid's school, but I know that's not the case for many of my co-workers. Gas going up, for them, has been a bummer.

    I'm pretty sure there are rules where I work about employees moonlighting, too. I know I have opportunities to consult, but haven't taken them. I'll have to look further into it, because it's getting wiggy.

    Grateful to have a job (and to enjoy my work), sad that totally working my ass off, the way my parents did (and my mom still does), doesn't mean the same thing for me that it did for them.

  •  NO (7+ / 0-)

    We spent too much when we could have had better control, and some of our financial stress is therefore our own fault.

    The powers that be just want you to think it's your own fault.  

    •  But there is a huge industry demanding "Spend" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dirtandiron

      Most people are not adequately informed about personal finance. Some believed that their house would be a good investment, even if it sucked up half of their income. Some don't pay attention to carrying charges on their credit cards.

      Some are impulsive. If there were no impulsive people, the job of salesman would not exist (at least not as a commissioned job that).

      The best we can do is make some of the edges less sharp by making it harder for financial organizations to exploit the bad decisions that people make.

      Time to strip citizenship from treacherous immigrants like Rupert Murdoch

      by freelunch on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 06:21:30 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I feel your pain. (9+ / 0-)

    In Mass., community college teachers have had no increase in a long time, and we were told that the "payroll" tax reduction Obama's been touting doesn't apply to us because we don't get (or pay into) social security.  My paycheck has been going down in past couple years because of rising health insurance premiums, co-pays and deductibles.  One of my new year's resolutions is to find a cheaper health insurance alternative if possible.

    Don't forget some of us are using part of our income such as it is to help family members who are having a harder time.  So that cuts down overall money available to pay those ever increasing bills.  

    Hang in there.  I appreciate your posting here.

    •  MA teachers (6+ / 0-)

      in the poorer parts of the state are not well paid. Specialists, like art and music and gym teachers, are often only 2 or 3 days a week jobs. It is really tough to plan from one year to the next if you don't know how many days you will be working.

      So many teachers work a second job...if they can find one. No one I know is making anything near what NYC teachers get, and pensions are more and more at risk.

      Most teachers in our local schools are top notch professionals, really dedicated to educating kids.

      I hate the way the right wing and the corporate types keep bashing teachers. The propaganda has really hurt the profession.

      Skepticism of all the elite institutions, not trust, is what required for successful leadership in this era. Digby

      by coral on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 06:46:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Ken, this is a good diary... (0+ / 0-)

    ...and it is factual, indeed. But I am beginning to see a pattern of "doomsday" in your posts. Don't take me wrong. I agree with you, but is there nothing "positive" you can write about? Things are scary, no doubt. But I think we need to focus on some positives once in a while?

    Peace

    •  I often write about positive things (13+ / 0-)

      especially when I talk about what my students do

      but let's be realistic -  there is a heck a of lot wrong that is more than troubling.  Is it not our job to focus attention on it in hopes we won't simply ignore it?

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 05:26:44 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  A member of our local school board was in my (12+ / 0-)

        health food store last week before attending a board meeting. She's a bookkeeper and was lamenting that the union wouldn't give back pay and benefit increases. She said she worked 360 days a year, while a teacher worked 180. And she added that she thought the 15 sick days a year the union had won for teachers was excessive.

        I live in Vermont, and she was exclaiming at the $40,000/year teachers could earn. It must be more than she is able to earn as a bookkeeper.

        I remarked to her that teachers' salaries are an investment in the future of our society, and I very mildly asserted that I thought teachers were under, rather than overpaid. She responded something to the effect that the unions rewarded longevity at teaching, rather than merit.

        This was dismaying to me that a school board member, who has input into teacher contracts and school budgets has such a negative view of teachers. teacherken, I couldn't agree more with your perspective and, as I know the head of the school board, we are going to have a discussion about this and see what can be done about the board's attitude.

        If we don't have competent, qualified, well-paid teachers, I am even more concerned about our country's future than I was. I found this conversation very unsettling.

        •  What gets me is people attacking (13+ / 0-)

          teachers for making 40,000 per year, don't get rile up about millionaires and billionaires paying very little in taxes ... or at the outrageous incomes of, say, hedge fund managers.

          Instead they take out their class anger and resentment on public employees making moderate incomes.

          Skepticism of all the elite institutions, not trust, is what required for successful leadership in this era. Digby

          by coral on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 06:49:08 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I think part of this is the 'vision thing'. Many (5+ / 0-)

            lack it. A teacher is middle class, hence more like other middle class people. This makes them more available targets for discontent with the status quo. Many people don't have any perspective on the rich and how they earn or got their money, so they don't consider them as targets for their anger as much.

            Teachers' responsibility level in our society is great. They are helping to create our future by their work with our children. Maybe it should be a Democratic initiative to help Americans learn to value their public servants more.

    •  I don't even know what to say (0+ / 0-)

      Hey, there are some more bankers in the white house, that should fix things!!!  How is that for positive?

      "Play it LOUD Robbie, Play it fucking loud" Dylan

      by NearlyNormal on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 07:13:15 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Seems to me as a fellow senior (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bwintx, salmo, JanL, Oh Mary Oh

    that you are getting some good conditioning for the future, sad to say. And I'm not normally a pessimistic type, more like realistic, I hope.

    Moderation in most things. Except Reactors. IFR forever!

    by billmosby on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 05:19:44 AM PST

  •  hmmm... (5+ / 0-)

    Remember when Rahm famously said "we can't let a good crisis go to waste". Why is it that the Repubs are the ones that have advanced their agenda during the economic crisis. UNION BUSTING is the goal and it's looking like it's going to be successful at this point. One can only conclude that the Democrats are completely ineffectual or in lock step with the opposition!

    " The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams"-Eleanor Roosevelt

    by Lh1695 on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 05:22:51 AM PST

  •  Numbers? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wham Bam, The Uncola

    Meanwhile our expenses continue to rise - health insurance premiums deducted from our pay are increasing.

    So what percentage contribution do you currently have to make?  Perhaps a lot of us out in the private sector are asking that question as well.  Or maybe some are even asking why they have to pay for their entire premium?  

    Frankly, I am tired of the whining from certain segments that have a pretty rich package of benefits relative to a majority of the private populace.  

    John McCain - 894/899 of his graduating class at Annapolis.

    by sedrunsic on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 05:23:28 AM PST

    •  Why parrot RW memes? (8+ / 0-)

      Are you organizing in your workplace to get a better deal,salary or benefit-wise? Or is every working person's effort so little valued by you that each of us deserves only a teeny piece of the pie? When will each get little enough?

      "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

      by tardis10 on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 05:36:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  taxpayers don't have to foot my bill! (0+ / 0-)

        John McCain - 894/899 of his graduating class at Annapolis.

        by sedrunsic on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 09:16:36 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  BS. Yes, taxpayers do. (0+ / 0-)

          When some craptastic employer does not pay enough to keep his employees from qualifying for SNAP or kids' free lunches;when an employer doesn't offer health insurance and their employee winds up in the ER;when low wages keep that earner from saving a dime for a crisis or retirement,we all as taxpayers end up paying. Just like we pay for prisons.

          Wake up. We have watched capital fly to the top at an alarming rate,creating a level of income inequality in this country unseen since the Gilded Age. The concern that the few left in the "middle" are over-paid is both sad & maddening.  

          Which side are you on boys? Which side are you on?  

           

          "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

          by tardis10 on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 03:01:58 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Point Understood (7+ / 0-)

      But cutting teacher salaries and benefits isn't going to help private sector wages and benefits go up.

      The opposite will occur.

      "It's always been a class war, Frodo."

      by bink on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 05:39:45 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  unfortunately, we now reside in a global economy (0+ / 0-)

        and also, unfortunately, people vote with their wallets, and they tend to buy cheap, imported crap from large exporting countries whose labor forces compete (albeit unfairly) with ours.  that is just a plain fact and it is also why unions will ultimately go the way of the Dodo.  welcome to the open economy, folks.  

        John McCain - 894/899 of his graduating class at Annapolis.

        by sedrunsic on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 09:22:40 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Should I complain about private employee salaries (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DianeNYS, 4Freedom, Dirtandiron, tardis10

      Public employees got better benefits because for many years many governments were willing to ignore the legal commitments they was making for deferred compensation and failing to properly fund those programs.

      The trade was lower salaries. Except at the bottom of the scale where all pay is too low, state and local employees routinely get lower salaries. Total compensation varies but is generally lower than that of comparable private jobs.

      Time to strip citizenship from treacherous immigrants like Rupert Murdoch

      by freelunch on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 06:30:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Sympathy? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Oh Mary Oh, Sand Hill Crane

    Sorry to hear you are suffering.

  •  As a retired teacher (11+ / 0-)

    I am doing OK.  Sure my COLA has been frozen for two years; the many years I put into Social Security were reduced (in payoff to me) 60% because I have a state pension.  And yet people, even some in my own family, "resent" teachers' pay as too much.

    Of course the fact that I got a Master's degree early on increased my pay. I had to take a student loan to get it.  And since we need to renew our license every six years with college credits (paid for by us) I have nearly 100 credits above my MA.    In the meantime, many of my peers, with less than a college degree who went into the private sector, made a salary equal to mine and their retirement is quite good.  Any coursework they needed for their jobs was paid for by the company.  

    Now, every time I hear folks b*tching about teachers, firefighters, police, I get frightened that I will lose my retirement.  And that's all I have.  I am old enough that teachers putting money into 401K etc was a new thing that happened well after half of my career was over.  I had some saved that I had to use for unexpected bills related to health when our insurance co pays became so high......and for the years between my retirement and Medicare.  

    Except for some unique areas, teachers are not paid even close to what the screeching right says.  Maybe in NY city (but living there and working there certainly is a lot more expensive for everyone); or a few other urban areas.  
    I wish I did not feel so negative but I am sick of the narrative of "overpaid public employees" being pushed by the right and bought by too many on the left.

  •  It is all part and parcel (7+ / 0-)

    of a process by which the middle class is being made insecure or busted down to poor status in order that they are deprived of the tools to resist the plutocracy. Asssault teachers economically because they are educators, and you get even more bang for your lower paid buck.

    It would be different if the 2%'ers and the FIRE industry leaders would also share the pain, but they aren't.

    Sustainable landscaping in the Kos Katalogue

    by NoMoreLies on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 05:29:42 AM PST

  •  It's not exclusive for teachers (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    phrogge prince, The Uncola

    don't take my comment negatively but what you and teachers face is what most face - if not worse for those in the private sector.

    What is even scarier is that so many just talk about raising taxes like it's no big deal....well, raising taxes so the town, state or Fed can balance their budget really screws up everyone elses.  

    If you're on the edge - food and energy costs have gone way up - no raises in a few years and now you face getting whacked another $500 for property taxes - state income tax raises and fees - where do people think this money comes from?

    I'm pretty good at finding deals - and living within my means but I'm getting tired of working so hard and then I keep getting squeezed - I feel for you but keep in mind that most of us are in the same or worse positions.

    The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government. - Thomas Jefferson

    by ctexrep on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 05:35:04 AM PST

    •  Taxes are at historic lows (11+ / 0-)

      Tax bills in 2009 at lowest level since 1950

      There are all sorts of revenue sources that would target the upper 1%, financial speculation, resource extraction, inheritance that aren't being considered.

      This story isn't about greedy teachers demanding everyone else sacrifice in hard times.

      This story is about how decades of shifting wealth upward and refusing to tax the superrich and corporations at appropriate levels has decimated the public sphere.

      The top 1% of income earners, who average over $1 million a year, actually pay a smaller percentage of their incomes to taxes than the 9% just below them. These findings are discussed in detail near the end of this document

      It shouldn't be a big deal to tax the wealthiest among is, but it is.

      "He who does not want to talk of capitalism should also remain silent about Fascism". Max Horkheimer, 1939

      by absolute beginner on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 05:54:21 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thank you (5+ / 0-)

        I forgot to mention that in my rebuttal.  
        LOW taxes have been the right wing's answer to everything.  And the truth is this...they are lower than ever and the economy stinks.    There is a connection.  Too bad so many on the left buy this silliness.

      •  Few people paid homeowner association fees (0+ / 0-)

        in the 1950s.

        In Florida, the developers were basically coerced into building private roads.

        There arre also impact FEES. In California, they can cost really big money. In Naples, Fl about $31,000/unit during the boom. In my county, ~$18,000/unit.

      •  There are third parties (0+ / 0-)

        that are free of regulation to charge a lot and share their good fortune with a government.

        Think cable TV, that's a minimum of $60/household/year to the government.

        In 1950, TV was free off the air.

        Think health insurance and about $364,100 for age 0 to Medicare coverage. It will be mandated in 2014 and thereafter, the government's cut is about $180,000/person.

        Stiffing divorcing women to encourage them to work and making it fashionable almost doubled the tax paying work force. So sure the tax rates don't have to be high as Reagan's buddies knew.

    •  And scapegoating public employees (5+ / 0-)

      seems to be the meme from the right and those of you who buy that meme obviously buy the "taxes are the problem" silliness.    

      Perhaps if the mentality opened up a little, some would get it.  More taxes could open up the way for more infrastructure repair/renew which means more jobs.  More people working means they need and can buy more stuff which increases the work in the private sector.

      The right mentality that low taxes fixes all is an old canard that too many people buy.  I don't understand how people can keep being duped by this since this nonsense started back in Reagan's era with the "trickle down" mentality.  It did not work then; it does not work now.

      •  Who's blaming teachers here? (0+ / 0-)

        My comment that was we ALL face problems - we're all living on the edge - so don't blow my budget to fix someone elses - that's what I'm saying.

        When my local property taxes go up - they don't go up for just "rich" people - they go up for EVERYONE.

        Great - my town balances it's budget and can afford to give their employees some BS raise - for me - I have to cancel my phone service and get Magic Jack to save enough to pay the extra money.

        I'm lucky enough to have a job and health insurance but my co-pay went up $20 per week this year.

        We're not going to get raises because although things are better, they're not good.

        I can handle most of this but I have a problem giving up more of my money and sacrificing further so others can get a raise.

        Sorry.

        The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government. - Thomas Jefferson

        by ctexrep on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 06:50:11 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  You really have the Fox talking points (0+ / 0-)

          memorized.

          Where are all the jobs, Boenher?

          by Dirtandiron on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 07:38:55 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  no, I live in the real world (0+ / 0-)

            where money doesn't grow on trees and I can't wave a magic wand to get more.

            You must be a trust fund child.

            The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government. - Thomas Jefferson

            by ctexrep on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 08:22:16 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Police, firefighters, teachers (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          blueoasis

          folks who work at the courthouse, all of those who chose that work; who took lower average wages, and when needed paid for our own advanced degrees, had choices.  So when I was paying for my classes, I did not b*tch because my friends in the private sector were getting classes provided, and raises.  

          Again, you are simply refusing to get real.  Lowering taxes is not the fix and never has been.  But people like you buy into it why?  Resentment?   Where's the resentment for the health care upper management or any private sector upper management who have been screwing their workers for years.

          My getting raises were based on my getting more credits and degrees.  Yes, for a limited time, seniority pitched in but then you hit a ceiling.  It cost me over $5000 to get an MA (and this was back in the 80s.  And I got a one year raise of $800 when I finished.  Do the math.  I had thought about getting a PhD but it would have cost me over $20000 and at that point, when the stipend when up to a whole $1000, it would have taken me 20 years to get back the money.

          The blame game is being directed at all public employees because taxes pay the salaries.  And people like you resent it.  As another said, you've got the FOX talking points down pat.

    •  Well, the GOP solution is borrow, borrow, borrow (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sychotic1, Dirtandiron

      Keep government services and cut taxes and then ask why the debt it higher.

      Time to strip citizenship from treacherous immigrants like Rupert Murdoch

      by freelunch on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 06:32:43 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Welcome to life under the bus.. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eXtina

    .. teachers aren't the only people being hung out to dry in this Nation. There are MILLIONS of us out here that have NO income at all. Nothing. Zero.  

    Does that make crappy treatment of teachers ok? Certainly not, but hey.. gotta send a couple more Trillion$ over to the Banksters for round of well deserved BONUSES, right?  

    Why do they only call it "class warfare" when we are fighting their unquenchable greed?

    by The Uncola on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 05:49:46 AM PST

  •  I don't know how the hell you guys do (12+ / 0-)

    it.  I live in a 'wealthy' school district, and each parent donates about $20-$40 in school supplies at the start of the year (glue, pencils, folders, binders, markers, etc.).  Total parent out-of-pocket extra fees is easily $100.  We also rely heavily on parent volunteers, which only works when you have single-income dual-parent households.  I'm not complaining about the money, I just don't see how people in lower-income areas can cover all this, and I assume they don't - which means our equal-opportunity education isn't so equal opportunity.  Now a bunch of grouchy douche-bags bitterly jealous that their businesses are failing or their stocks are worthless of they are under-water on their mortgages are whining about the cushy life of a librarian / gym teacher / policeman!?

    We're a nation of people who like to feel strong by finding someone weak to pee all over, and public servants are now in the line of fire.  It's the national equivalent of "I had a bad day at work so I'm going home and kicking the dog".

    •  In a not-as-wealthy school district...? (3+ / 0-)

      Let's just say that, when it's available in a given tax year, my wife's job entitles us to the $250 educator tax deduction, which is for out-of-pocket expenses she accrues in a given school year.

      It doesn't even come close to making up for what she typically spends.

      Fortunately, the school PTO helps close the gap somewhat.

      Regards,
      Corporate Dog

      -----
      We didn't elect Obama to be an expedient president. We elected him to be a great one. -- Eugene Robinson

      by Corporate Dog on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 06:03:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  They don't..... (5+ / 0-)

      Worked in a low income area school for the last 15 years of my career (before that I was in what would be considered a mixed neighborhood of middle, upper and lower (due to busing).  

      On average every teacher in our building spent a couple of hundred dollars of our own money.  A few "rich" neighborhood schools occasionally donated stuff.  Then we had a fire, our library was destroyed and insurance bought us new books and technology.  

      Volunteers?  I had a few "community service" folks assigned to help me in the library ( I was the media center educator and ran the library and the technology for the building).  Most did not even know Dewey Decimal so they ended up being more work than help to me.  But sister schools a few miles away where the doctors, lawyers, college professors lived and sent their kids to school, was bursting with volunteers.  

      So yea, the notion of equal education is not real.   Most schools have a huge amount to spend on paper, pencils, printer ink, etc.   That money runs out fast.  I used to go out in August when the stores ran sales and I would buy over 100 notebooks, hoping to always have at least four per child to give.  
      Most of us brought a ream or two of printer paper.  And cartridges for the printers in our rooms.  

      But blaming public employees is "in" now.  In some ways, it's not so new since most people never consider the hours teachers spend doing stuff outside the school day as "work."  I guess they think papers are magically grades or that lessons are magically prepared.

  •  Amen, Brother (7+ / 0-)

    I know what you mean about retiring and taking another job. I retired early and now teach in China. It's working out pretty good for me financially as long as I can continue to work here (they may not let me stay when I get older). But it also left a job open in my district for someone who is not in a position to work overseas like I am, so it's worked out well all around.

    I read a statistic somewhere (sorry no source) that teacher's salaries are about 20% lower than they were in the 1970's.  

    The thing is, though, probably most people these days are working jobs where their salary is more than 20% less that the job they could have gotten in the 1970's, so to them, teaching looks relatively good.

    But, if things go the way they have been, the public schools will soon be dismantled, and teacher's salaries will drop to poverty wages in most of the remaining private schools. Then we won't have to worry about teacher's salaries looking relatively good compared to anything.

    I feel very, very lucky to have grown up at the time that I did, when the USA was so much richer over a broad swathe of the population. One of my neighbors was a science teacher back in the 1970's. He raised eight children on his one salary. Those days sure ain't coming back again soon.

    None of this makes a bit of difference if they don't count your vote.

    by Toddlerbob on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 05:57:33 AM PST

    •  depends on where you are in China (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dirtandiron, tardis10

      I'll be 55 in a weeks, and no one has told me to pack my bags yet. My co-workers from Nebraska are both 59, and I know another couple about the same age teaching at a different school here, too. We work in western Hunan, where foreign teachers are either very young (20ish) and stay one year at most, or over 45 and stay longer. Foreign teachers on the ESL websites claim 60 is the cutoff point for new hires, but if you're in good health and a school needs you, you can still find work. China is that desperate for English teachers.

      The gentleman values harmony, not uniformity; the small man values uniformity, not harmony. -- Confucius (early pundit)

      by wheatdogg on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 06:36:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  when I was working in my trade... (7+ / 0-)

    ...as an electric motor rewinder/industrial machinery mechanic, our company(which was only a family-owned company with three tradesmen and one apprentice helper) had a $650,000 Norfolk, VA School Board service contract for maintaining "anything that ran on an electric motor", all the boiler feed and circ pumps, all the hvac, everything. (And this was in addition to the hundreds of other customers, shipyards, elevator companies, bakeries, uniform companies, etc. we had to service "with a smile" on a daily basis.) This contract included 24/7/365 "immediate response" emergency service for 67 schools times 10 years!

    By the inherent nature of the contract we signed with the School Board we were in constant daily contact interacting with the teachers and adminstrators in each one of those schools. The teachers are caught between a rock and a hard place. So I know what I'm talking about when I say, whatever teachers are getting paid these days for their services -- that include more often than not, mommy, daddy, babysitter, counsellor, psychiatrist, referee, field trips, teaching to a test students whose intellect runs from the top wrung to the bottom of the ladder, and all within the constraints of space, time, and limited funds that many times teachers have to pay for out of their own pockets with no compensation -- it's definitely not enough! I wouldn't jump in that briar patch for all the contaminated oysters in China! Ken, my hat goes off to you and to all your fellow comrades in arms, hand salute!

    "I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast, for I intend to go in harm's way." John Paul Jones

    by ImpeachKingBushII on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 06:07:48 AM PST

  •  I feel so much better about that gift now... (5+ / 0-)

    ...we gave our sons teacher (OVER here in MCPS) a substantial gift card as part of the giving season.

    invariably bring those "extra" supplies our class and school always seem to need but haven't been provided.

    I raise these issues to highlight the fact you did not mention...you and your colleagues have out of pocket expenses that accumulate just so you can have the materials you need to do your job.

    (-9,-9) pragmatic incrementalist :-P

    by Enterik on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 06:14:58 AM PST

  •  in Fairfax county (VA) my wife has been (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    salmo, 4Freedom, Sand Hill Crane, tardis10

    experiencing similar things. there hasn't been a cost of living increase for something like 3 years now.

    she is one of these 'young/promising/dedicated' teachers and we are doing OK, but i know that the school system's financial situation is taking a toll on her ability to educate (as well as our financial situation).

  •  Reagan said, and it has now become a perfect (4+ / 0-)

    example of him and his damage, "Any jackass can kick down a barn; but it takes a carpenter to build one."

  •  I only know that when I taught in Florida (5+ / 0-)

    I was paid 28800 a year. From that 28800 I paid for all my classroom supplies, including notebooks, folders, crayons, pencils for my students. I worked in a school that over 80% of the students were free lunch so it was hard on parents to pay for such stuff. On top of that, I was a special needs resource teacher so I bought special need teaching tools and took "how to teach special needs" courses. In the end of each month I averaged spending 500 a month for my classroom. More experienced teachers spent less because they had built up resources over the years. I would raid their closets so I could copy some of their resources (copy write issues). That was 10 years ago.

    I don't care what you do in your beds, just keep your hand out of my pocket.

    by the mom in the middle on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 06:33:16 AM PST

  •  The overarching structural problem.. (3+ / 0-)

    ....when it comes to public employees is that Society has a selfish interest in paying them badly.  

    "George Washington said I was beautiful"--Sarah Palin on Barbara Bush, as imagined by Mark Sumner

    by Rich in PA on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 06:34:22 AM PST

  •  After teaching for 34 years... (8+ / 0-)

    ...I still can't afford to purchase a house or a car.  Fortunately we have a car from when Debbie's mom died...plus a part interest in a condo in Los Angeles, which we may be able to move in to when we retire.

    But if I had had to pay for this surgery I just had out of pocket, we'd be broke for the rest of our lives.

  •  I am baffled by the attacks on teachers that are (9+ / 0-)

    going on in Washington. I don't get all this talk about supposed "bad teachers" and this being the reason our kids lag behind. Honestly, I don't get it. I went to public schools in the '70s and '80s. My family moved around a lot and so I went to many school districts. I never had a "bad" teacher. Some were better than others, some I did not like, some had flaws, but I learned from all of them. Has there been such a great change since the old days? If anything, I would think that now that jobs are more competitive, teachers are even better. I was a good student and attribute this in part to the fact that my dad is an immigrant and passed on to me the respect for teachers that existed in the old country. Many of the students (especially the ones who did not succeed) had no respect for teachers. I wonder how all this teacher bashing will affect that. (I just want to note that I realize that not all teachers are good, just as in every single profession there are bad apples. But I am baffled as to why teachers are being singled out.)

    "We Don't Pay Taxes. Only The Little People Pay Taxes." -- Leona Helmsley

    by MaizeandBlue on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 06:43:01 AM PST

    •  Teachers are being blamed for society's neglect (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dirtandiron

      and for the growing pressures on children, the lower middle and working classes.

      So many of the problems teachers deal with are caused by difficult home lives and poverty among children. Add that to constant pressure to teach to test and you have a formula for the collapse of public education and the common good.

      Skepticism of all the elite institutions, not trust, is what required for successful leadership in this era. Digby

      by coral on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 06:58:09 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I expect it from DC Repubs (0+ / 0-)

      But I don't expect it from people on the "left."  I especially get annoyed when we see it from "progressives" on here who bash teachers as:

      1. dumb
      1. hiding from the real world
      1. overpaid

      Ken's writings have a real way of bringing out the wolves in sheeps clothing around here.

  •  i know some of the young people entering (6+ / 0-)

    the field and it is impossible. my daughters best friend, the best she can do is get a temporary (aka no benefits) position for 20-25 hours a week as a class aid. my daughter, who is at least frugal and also has side income babysitting and selling her own jewelry, makes $12 an hour at a montessori school. that's tough to live on. shameful. positively shameful.

    no one should attack your views Ken. why is it so tough to understand that our public employees would like to be able to afford to live in the communities they dedicate their professional careers too.

    our priorities are screwed up. period.

    "You've got to stop this war in Afghanistan." final words of R Holbrooke

    by UTvoter on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 06:48:06 AM PST

  •  It is hard for people to comprehend and (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NearlyNormal, Dirtandiron

    yet they must, if we are to call a halt, that depriving people of their rights, physical and spiritual (life and peace of mind) is the intent of people who lust for power.  Power, to be felt, has to hurt.  The cheerful, inventive slave intimidates his incompetent owner and has to be whipped to compensate.

    Those who lust for power have to be stopped -- there has to be an intervention -- because obsessive lust will never be satisfied.  

    The conservative mind relies mainly on what is plain to see.

    by hannah on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 06:55:55 AM PST

  •  Chickens - maybe we should pay teachers (4+ / 0-)

    in chickens.
    Oh no, that's just for doctors.
    What kind of messed up culture do we live in?
    We pay millions of dollars to steroid treated overgrown men to perform live and throw a stuffed leather ball around while they tackle each other or throw the ball through a hoop.

    But the people who teach our next generation - forgetaboutthem.

    The American Century is over - the future belongs to the Chinese and the Indians who value education and support their teachers.

    •  Ballplayers (0+ / 0-)

      were paid comparable to teachers in the early 1960s.

      McCormack was an American lawyer who spotted the potential for athletes to make large incomes from endorsement in the television age, and signed golfer Arnold Palmer as his first client.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/...

      He was the founder and chairman of International Management Group, now IMG, an international management organization that handles the commercial affairs for sports figures and celebrities.

      Bibliography

      What They Don't Teach You at Harvard Business School: Notes From A Street-Smart Executive, New York: Bantam, (1984)
      The Terrible Truth About Lawyers: How Lawyers Really Work and How to Deal With Them Successfully, Harper Collins, 1987 (also published in another edition as What They Didn't Teach Me at Yale Law School, Fontana Press 1988)
      What They Still Don't Teach You at Harvard Business School, New York: Bantam Books, 1989 (also published in another edition as Success Secrets, HarperCollins, 1989)
      The 110% Solution , Villard Books, (1990)
      Hit the Ground Running: Executive Guide to Insider's Travel, Orion, 1993 (published in softcover edition as What They Don't Teach You at Harvard Business School
      About Executive Travel: Hit the Ground Running, Dove Books, 1996)
      McCormack on Negotiating, Random House (June, 1995)
      McCormack on Selling, Random House Business Books (June 15, 1995)
      McCormack on Managing, Random House Business Books (October 1995)
      McCormack on Communicating, Dove Entertainment (February 1996)
      Getting Results for Dummies: Get Organized, Stay Focused, and Get Things Done!, IDG Books, (1999)
      Staying Street Smart in the Internet Age, Penguin Putnam, 2000 (also published in another edition as What You'll Never Learn on the Internet, HarperCollins Business, 2001, as well as Never Wrestle with a Pig and Ninety Other Ideas to Build Your Business and Career, Penguin, 2002)

      He was featured as one of the Forbes 400 Richest Americans in 1995, 1998, 2001.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/...

  •  If I had my way, teachers would make 4x... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    boofdah, Dirtandiron

    what they currently make. Or thereabouts.

    I'm gonna go eat a steak. And fuck my wife. And pray to GOD - hatemailapalooza, 052210

    by punditician on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 07:11:54 AM PST

  •  As a teacher IN financial distress . . . (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dirtandiron, Sand Hill Crane

    . . . thank you.

    School starts up for me again on Monday. Probably I'll make it through the school year.

  •  Reimbursements for required continuing (0+ / 0-)

    ed? What a concept! I would never have dreamed of requiring that from my employer, I think I will try that.

    "I've taken up sculpting recently. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

    by eXtina on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 07:38:51 AM PST

    •  You should! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sayitaintso, Dirtandiron, virginwoolf

      After a long career in both education and high tech, it is more the case that private enterprises pay for continuing ed than do public ones.

      If you work for a company that requires you to get upschooled but won't shell out for it, you work for a crummy company.  Work for someone else.

      But if you work for a school district, that's not an option.  Treating your employees like that is systematic.

      •  Part of the problem... (0+ / 0-)

        ...is that in the private sector there is (comparatively) a lot of job mobility for skilled workers. In the public sector there is a lot less, it's comparatively harder to "just quit and get a new job".

        (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
        Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

        by Sparhawk on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 08:43:28 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I would get laughed out of the office (0+ / 0-)

        and then the profession

        "I've taken up sculpting recently. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

        by eXtina on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 09:23:57 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  a book for you (0+ / 0-)

          Slack, by management consultant Tom DeMarco, especially the chapter on the "Culture of Fear."  DeMarco lists 7 marks of such an organization:
          1, It is not safe to say certain things

          1. In fact, being right in your doubts proves you must be the reason the fondest wishes of those above you did not come true
          1. Goals are set so aggressively that there is virtually no chance of achieving them
          1. Power is allowed to trump common sense
          1. Anyone can be abused and abased for a failure to knuckle under
          1. The people who are fired are, on average, more competent than the people who aren't
          1. The surviving managers are a particularly angry lot.

          He concludes the list with this: "If the portrait I've drawn does not seem extreme to you, you have my sympathies."

  •  Anybody else notice that Republicans seem to (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    deepfish, tardis10

    hate smart people? Teachers, "intellectuals", college students(except for their own kids). Anybody else see a pattern there?

    Where are all the jobs, Boenher?

    by Dirtandiron on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 07:42:50 AM PST

  •  I can guess how bad it is for the teachers (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    deepfish, Dirtandiron

    It was pretty awful when I was in college and worked as an aide in elementary schools for college credits. The whole view of the classroom had changed since I was in school. The teachers I worked with/for were already being treated with disrespect and abused by parents and children alike.

    The children I worked with are today's tax payers and the parents of today's kids which is a really scary thought for me. If a child grew up seeing & hearing their parents disrepect and blame teachers for everything, what kind of adult will the kid become?

    Ken, I wish you all the best and hope you can find some way to stay in teaching.

    "During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act" - George Orwell

    by Sand Hill Crane on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 07:47:39 AM PST

  •  Canadian Perspective (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dirtandiron

    Up here it varies by province, but I think a few things hold true for all constituencies.

    The majority of funding is done provincially (you would say state wide) from a general source, calculated on a per-student in seat formula (with a few finagle factors for ESL/Special Needs/Remote Communities). Other funds are raised at the school district level by a property tax. I would be surprised if the revenue from property tax exceeded 15% of the total school district budget.

    So funding is pretty level and flat. I did my student teaching placements (way back before the Earth cooled) in an inner city Montreal school, and a school in the suburban West Island.

    While the physical plants differed, textbooks, resources, extra curriculars and every thing else was comparable. Even though the inner city school was in a depressed neighborhood, the difference in revenue was not really a factor in school resources available.

    I now teach for the highest paying school district in my province, when it comes to teacher salary. I qualify as A4 on qualifications (the highest grade) due to the number of post grad and AQ certifications I've taken. When I started at this board 9 or so years ago the government helped me document my years of teaching experience elsewhere, and assigned me years of experience on this pay scale.

    School Boards get to negotiate contracts with local unions for minutiae such as planning times, duties, and salary, but the Board funding is decided provincially. Other boards pay teachers lesss salary, but give more fringe benefits etc.

    I've always wondered why schools in the States have to meet State curriculum while relying so much on local funding. It seems obvious that this gives an unfair advanatage to kids in richer school districts.

    I could, if I wished, switch back to an urban school (I've had tempting offers) without worrying about salary and funding level differences, or the solvency of different school districts...

    I can't imagine any other way...

    •  Inequality is the goal (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      deepfish

      "I've always wondered why schools in the States have to meet State curriculum while relying so much on local funding. It seems obvious that this gives an unfair advanatage to kids in richer school districts."  I take your phrasing to mean that you see that as a bug, not a feature.  Expressions of that sort of morality would be seen as a disqualification in our state legislature.

  •  stop paying out of pocket (0+ / 0-)

    ...teachers of the world.

    and send a shopping list to Jeff Zuckerberg instead

    It's not a fake orgasm; it's a real yawn.

    by sayitaintso on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 09:16:36 AM PST

  •  Selecting for Institutional Failure (0+ / 0-)

    A young friend who is still teaching, but very frustrated, stopped by the other night.  He had attended his district's school board meeting where they were finalizing next year's budget.  The board members had all campaigned on cutting the budget, and were trying to figure out which 10% of the staff should go.  They do this every other year (with minor variations), and it's a little like the game where you start with a block structure and every player's turn involves selecting a block to pull out without precipitating collapse.  We can see collapse in the game, but how does a voter know when the schools are nearing or at collapse and would that make a difference in their choices?

    It got me to thinking about measures of institutional strength.  It might be useful to include in these member's campaigns some ongoing metrics about the students and the staff - such as staff turnover.  I thought of this because every one of the 10 young teachers from his high school I hired for summer work 5 years ago is now out of the profession or actively setting up their next career so they can get out.  I selected those people because I saw them as the most motivated, best and brightest of those, mostly teachers, who applied for what are fairly high wage, fun jobs.  Those with whom I have remained friends have all said they were or are frustrated by the unprofessional environment and poor pay the school offers.  It seems to me that just as the voters are selecting for representatives who will flirt with institutional failure, their school district's personnel policies are selecting for just the opposite characteristics that I used to choose the people on whom I relied to make my business successful.  

    The turnover in those jobs are or will be filled mostly with fresh recruits to the profession - schools are graduating new teachers all the time.  Seemingly, those voters and school board members expect that their policies will be rescued by the inexperienced, or those whose idealism blinds them to what would otherwise be unacceptable.  I can think of no other profession where the selection and retention criteria are as backwards.  From a systems perspective, the inevitable conclusion is that this will not end well.

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