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      President Obama and Arne Duncan's latest foray into modern education reform contains hundreds of millions for teacher performance incentives. While well intentioned, it is misguided. Ultimately it is destructive on several fronts.

       First, incentive pay for professional workers completely and utterly misunderstands motivation. This ten minute video on what motivates professional workers is a must for any leader or policy maker. At the behest of performance pay proponents, Vanderbilt University conducted the most exhaustive study on its effects to date. The results of this pro-performance pay study? It is a colossal waste of resources with zero bang for the buck.

      Secondly, and more insidious, is the modern reform narrative this reinforces; on purpose. To assume performance pay will close the gap, you must assume teachers just are not working as hard as they can. But for a few extra bucks in the pocket, they would somehow answer more kids questions or grade a few more papers more closely. It reinforces the modern reformers claim that, "If we ignore all factors that affect student achievement except teachers, we can definitively claim that teachers are at fault."

     Recently in Michigan they completed a total takeover of the urban schools by the staunchest, most vindictive of modern reformers.  Their own evaluation scheme rated 99% of teachers as either effective or highly effective. Minnesota's top modern reformer has stated, verbatim, that 99% of teachers are fantastic. I will just have to take her word for it. If 99% of teachers are fantastic, and 99% of Michigan teachers are effective, or highly effective, why are we spending hundreds of millions on just 1% of the labor force?

     The answer is simple, and the third reason why this law is so destructive. We know for a fact that successful schools, Charter, Private, Traditional, you name it, achieve success when all teachers work together on all students. Pitting worker against worker on an assembly line race might work in the business world. A student's achievement is dependent on an entire team of teachers working together over several years. The Super Teacher works great in movies, but it is neither scalable nor sustainable.

     The Avengers is a much better metaphor for what works in education. Shamefully, that model is less appealing to a society devoted to the myth of the rugged individual. We know from research that incentive pay is not money wisely spent. So ask yourself why they are doing it. It is to divide teachers back into their isolated classroom kingdoms, when we know the best results come when we work in community.

      Teacher incentive pay is not an efficient way to use taxpayer money. That should be reason enough not to do it when we have so many pressing needs. Worse, incentive pay is counter to all we know about what works in successful schools. Finally, incentive pay forwards the B.S. meme that teachers are responsible for everything wrong with our system.

Cross Posted at MNProgressiveProject

Originally posted to AlecMN on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 05:35 PM PDT.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  If I win dinner with the President this time, I'll (26+ / 0-)

    mention education things. That and the People's Budget.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 05:50:47 PM PDT

  •  I've never worked an assembly line (28+ / 0-)

    But I'm guessing if station 3 is racing ahead of everyone else in their piece of the product, it would create a discordant situation as well.

    I don't think incentive pay will hurt anything, I don't think teachers are petty enough to not work with a teacher that gets a bonus vs. one that doesn't. What I would like to see with incentive pay is to encourage teachers to teach more difficult populations. I think a teacher teaching in an Englewood (poorer Chicago neighborhood) general neighborhood school should be offered an incentive vs. working in a selective enrollment school or a school with only 30% poverty.

    Rural schools often also have a difficult time hiring teachers because the towns tend to be isolated with litlte to draw a young teacher to want to teach there.

    •  I agree with this..... (31+ / 0-)

      Right now the most underprivileged kids get the least experienced teachers, and it is getting worse now that anyone daring to take that chance is punished, not rewarded. The job is hard enough as it is.

      I work at a 1900 student, 90% poverty school. I do it because the kids are America's best kept secret, but no one is breaking down the doors to teach at schools like this.

    •  Incentive pay has zero effect one way or the other (24+ / 0-)

      It's like tenure reform. We see many states that have no due process protections, and their districts are not miracle cures.

      In Minnesota they have had universal school choice and barely regulated charters for 20+ years and the achievement gap still sucks but racial isolation is now much, much worse.

      Incentive pay probably doesn't have a negative effect in and of itself, but it prevents money from being spent more wisely.

      Those are the three magic bullets of modern reform. Choice, tenure reform, and incentive pay. ALL are proven failures, but get all the money and all the attention.

      •  I won't comment about teachers but... (6+ / 0-)

        ... saying incentive pay doesn't work for professionals is ludicrous.  Just ask Silicon Valley if incentives work...

        •  In silicon valley (30+ / 0-)

          you see a lot of other incentives in play as well. Top notch cafeterias, foosball tables, massages, time to spend on pet projects, lots of legendary perks of various kinds.

          Teachers want to make enough money to be comfortable, but they also want to enjoy their day at work and feel successful every day. They want their kids to be successful. And so, a great school environment is a part of that. It starts with a terrific principal and good colleagues and a physical plant in good working order. It continues with reasonable class sizes and good support for any special needs.

          Teachers leave inner city schools because they don't feel successful there. I'm fine with making a more difficult assignment better paid, but we actually have many examples of this already, and it's not generally creating a critical mass of more senior teachers or of better test scores. I've seen teachers take $10k pay cuts to work in a more pleasant environment.

          Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

          by elfling on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 10:16:20 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Of course.... (0+ / 0-)
            you see a lot of other incentives in play as well.
            I did not say otherwise.  Financial incentives are ONE of those incentives that contribute to that.

            I did not try to make the case that financial incentives are appropriate for education.

            However, to say that financial incentives do not work to motivate some people is insanely idiotic and fraudulently incorrect.

        •  It isn't ludicrous. (23+ / 0-)

          Studies show that when you pay people enough so they aren't worried about money, then not only are monetary incentives not effective, they often have the opposite effect.

          What people want more than anything in work like this (teaching) is autonomy, the ability to master what you're doing, and purpose. None of these have anything to do with money, and everything to do with how your workplace is organized.

          Never be deceived that the rich will permit you to vote away their wealth. - Lucy Parsons

          by cruz on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 04:18:17 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Look at the short video link I provided (9+ / 0-)

          It makes the point pretty powerfully that you are wrong.

        •  So, are schools/kids comparable (7+ / 0-)

          to 1,000 nascent ideas for products and/or services where 999 ultimately get thrown out and a lucky few 0.1% ers (quite literally) become obscenely rich?

          Somehow (I at least hope!) you didn't fully think the comparison through very well.

          •  No, they are not comparable (11+ / 0-)

            which is precisely why trying to apply free market principles to education is destructive in the extreme. The raw materials are not the same, the distribution of those materials is not objective or even remotely consistent, and the resources available for molding students are not even remotely consistent.

            •  That would seem to be self-evident enough (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              slatsg, YucatanMan, shaharazade, caul

              that you shouldn't have to say it * anywheres * - much less at a (somewhat?) progressive website.

              But live and learn I suppose.

            •  I'm a college teacher. I've taught for 30 years. (19+ / 0-)

              Every class is different. Sometimes you get very motivated students in a class and sometimes you don't.  Some students are way more intelligent, talented and hardworking than others in the same class. I assume this is just the same as working with people anywhere, except that teachers are now supposed to  be responsible for this.  With the business model we are now functioning under (with ill effects), we are supposed to influence every student positively in the same way.  This simply does not ever happen because the business model assumes the student is a "product" like raw clay, that you can mold however you wish, if you just work hard enough.  This is ridiculous. I have students who love me and claim that I have motivated them to go into my field and that I am their favorite teacher. I have students who don't like me at all and hate the subject, put forth zero effort in the class and blame me for it.

              Then there is the whole subject of "merit pay."  The teacher gets merit pay if he/she supposedly is a "good teacher." But who decides who is a good teacher? Do you trust student evaluations?  In our school, each department makes up their own evaluation sheet because it costs too much money for the university to invest in questions that have been vetted for neutrality.   We ask our students, for instance, "is this teacher a fair grader?"  Hmmmmm..... there are many teachers who will give way more As and Bs in order for themselves to get a "good grade" from their students on questions of this type.   Those who try to grade their students fairly but honestly are at a disadvantage and, the more these evaluations are emphasized, the more grade inflation you will get.   It's already to the point where a student will get a B- and come to you and complain bitterly that you did not "give" them a better grade.  

              The other thing about merit pay is that it pits you against your colleagues and creates bitterness and low morale for all the teachers who do NOT get raises.  This is especially true because the Chair of the Department who decides on who gets what raises --NEVER ever visits your class or may have no idea what you do because their area of expertise is not the same as yours.   This introduces inevitable questions of favoritism.  Combine this with the current atmosphere of teacher bashing in the culture at large, and the constant efforts on the part of the administration to force teachers to "prove" that they are getting the material across through top down "assessment" tasks, which basically means creating endless questionnaires that the students fill out before and after you introduce some bite-sized, pre-planned subject and other paperwork which requires hours of tedious data entry on the part of the teacher outside of class and  the whole thing is a huge morale buster.  Most of my young colleagues now regret getting the teaching jobs they worked so hard for and are thinking of changing fields entirely.   This is where things are going and pretty soon the entire education structure in this country will be destroyed if it doesn't stop. I'm glad I'm able to retire because I can't take it any more.

              BTW, if teachers were highly motivated by money, they would have gone into a different field than education in the first place. Most teachers I know are extremely hard-working and responsible people and care deeply about their students.  

          •  I didn't try to refute (0+ / 0-)

            that incentives shouldn't be used in education.  I can't.  The fact is, I am not convinced either way but can see many reasons why they might be harmful.

            I refuted that financial incentives never work for "non-mechanical" processes (see diary attached, absurd, video).

        •  Incentives hurt creativity (12+ / 0-)

          From Dan Pink"  

          If you want people to perform better, you reward them, right? Bonuses, commissions, their own reality show. Incentivize them. … But that’s not happening here. You’ve got an incentive designed to sharpen thinking and accelerate creativity, and it does just the opposite. It dulls thinking and blocks creativity.
          Incentives get people to work harder but less creatively.  The research on this is broad, deep and amazingly consistent.

          If you want a good model of this, look into what Google does with its employees.  It pays them well but it also encourages collaborative work over competition.

          "Trust only those who doubt" Lu Xun

          by LookingUp on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 06:50:04 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Stock Options are NOT "incentive pay" (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          YucatanMan, elfling, shaharazade, caul

          They are just pay, same as if you were paid in lottery tickets.  You might hit the jackpot, or you might not, but it's not as if you get more as an incentive to do better.  

          •  Stock options also tie the employee to the (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            elfling

            success of the company as a whole in that all employees -- line and staff -- have a stake in the company doing well.  With Google, that means innovating and improving on product.

            Google's model is not shared by all corporations however:  More often than not, it is restricted only to the more senior executive levels, where company performance on the short term (quarter to quarter) is at a premium to meet the market's demand for a certain level of profitability.

            You can't stand up for Main Street when you're genuflecting to Wall Street

            by caul on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 07:55:35 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Paying teachers more is bad? (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Amber6541, duhban, elmo, sewaneepat, gramofsam1

        Incentive pay is not meant to make current teachers better (or at least significantly so). Its to get better people to want to become teachers.

        Now I am not a teacher and likely will never be one (at least on the primary level), but in short more than half the members of my immediate family have been teachers at least one point in their life.

        From my previous personal experience as a student and the  daily rantings of those close to me. The idea that 99% of teachers are excellent is bullshit. Id be really surprised that any teacher here could say that they do not know a handful of their co-workers who suck at their job.

        Being  a school teacher has become  a job that most people can aspire to without risking failure.

        For lack of a better phrase

        Back in the day not everyone received a basic education.
        Back in the day teachers were a respected profession.

        Eventually we decided everyone should get basic education.

        But.... We didn't decide to pay enough recruit high caliber people for the jobs.

        Its no wonder that some without good skills are now teaching.

        There is some % of the pop who are natural teachers. But in all honesty we need more teachers than that %.

        For the remaining number you get what you pay for in the long term.

        From year to year I doubt there will be much change. But returning the prestige (including pay)  to teaching should have a long term benefit.  

        Ps I am about halfway done with these comments but I will look into "Incentive pay probably doesn't have a negative effect in and of itself, but it prevents money from being spent more wisely."  Perhaps there are.

        •  You could hire 4000 teachers instead (8+ / 0-)

          This money won't improve education one iota. It probably won't hurt, other than taking precious resources from programs that might actually work.

          How the education industry works is that if you need an evaluation system, each district will hire super expensive external consultants to design the evaluation, then the system itself will cost a lot.

          I would bet at least a quarter of this money never even sees teachers. It will go to administration of the program and external "consultants".

          •  Why is more better? (0+ / 0-)

            Sorry to repeat this paradigm but why is 4000 more teachers better?

            Personally id prefer 1 good teacher to 4 bad ones.

            Why do you assume all this extra money will just simply go to consultants in an inefficient manner?  

            Again personally I would not assume this extra money would be any less efficient than in the result of the world. And the result of the world seems to be doing okish as far as bonus money goes

            Summation : yes there will be waste. So fing what? There is waste  everywhere but putting more money into a an idea 90% yields better results.

            Personal opinion buying more teachers at this point will get you nothing. The ones left to buy suck. You simply need better ones not.. more at this point.

            •  And, um, you know this because? (0+ / 0-)

              "The ones left to buy suck"?

              Presumably you know this because you've been sitting on interview committees for your local school and have been dissatisfied with the candidates... not because you just randomly made it up.

              Smaller class sizes have value. Resource teachers, like dedicated reading specialists to do pull-out work, have value. Librarians have value. Teacher's aides have value. Counselors have value.

              As it happens, given how many teachers and counselors have been laid off lately, there are quite a few very nice ones to be had. It's a pretty good time to be hiring, if you're a school, at least here in California.

              Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

              by elfling on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 03:18:34 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  People who decide to teach risk failure every day (0+ / 0-)

          Something like 50% of teachers who enter the field don't stay. Sometimes this is because they are terrible. Sometimes it is because they get better offers. Sometimes it is because they don't feel successful.

          Pay teachers a living wage. Give them good working conditions. Treat them like professionals. Remove the ones that don't work out. This isn't complicated, but it isn't cheap, either.

          There are much better ways to spend the money than to give a small lump sum to 1% of teachers.

          Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

          by elfling on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 09:13:44 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Why dont .... (0+ / 0-)

            What do you think the "drop out rate" is for other professions?

            Why dont you think this is part of paragraph 1.

            Why do you think this is going to 1% of teachers?

            Why do you think its bad if its goes to 1% of teachers?

      •  Purpose of tenure "reform"... (5+ / 0-)

        ... is part of the push to get rid of unions by making them irrelevant.

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

        by gsbadj on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 06:34:53 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Incentive pay will help students. (0+ / 0-)

        It will not make teachers teach better or work harder. I believe that they are already doing their best.

        What it will do is make them into advocates for better schools. When principals and superintendents hand down stupid rules, teachers will call them out on it.

        Right now if a teacher keeps his head down, does what he's told, and doesn't make any political enemies, he will have a nice retirement. Even if his kids learn nothing.

        This is not acceptable. We need to force teachers to become fighters for better schools.

        It will also give teachers more credibility. When teachers say, "Do XYZ, it will increase student learning", taxpayers will be more likely to believe them. Why? Because the teachers have money riding on the outcome.

        Even if teachers truly are selfless angels who care nothing for materiel trinkets, The Public will be more likely to listen to them if they can say:

        "That Creationism textbook is going to hurt my paycheck by making my kids dumber".
        It may not be rational, but that is how things work.

        If teachers had some of their pay tied to student learning, they would have a reason to fight for changes in the system. They would also have the credibility to make some of those changes stick.

        •  The nail that sticks up gets hammered down. (9+ / 0-)

          Petty administrators can make anyone's life hell.  Even if they're wrong, complain about it, and you'll find yourself doing the most painful, least appealing work in the system.  And if you haven't even been trained to do it, all the better.

          Is there any evidence that your utopian vision can come to pass?

          -7.75 -4.67

          "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

          There are no Christians in foxholes.

          by Odysseus on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 07:22:38 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Teachers have... (0+ / 0-)

            ...a powerful Union that can exert massive pressure on bureaucracies.

            We need to give this union an incentive to work in favor of Learning.

            •  They are. The "teacher's suck" meme is done (9+ / 0-)

              It is comments like these that teachers are finally fed up with. The teachers are the union and the union is the teachers. 90% of teachers voted to strike in Chicago. You can't say they are separate entities and get away with it anymore.

              •  I am not saying that... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                bobtmn

                ...they are separate entities.

                Where did I say that?

                - If teacher pay depends on student learning, teachers will want to improve school systems.

                - If teachers want to improve school systems, the Union will want to improve school systems (Because Teachers = Union)

                - If Unions fight for better schools, we will get better schools.

                Do Unions fight for better schools now? No, they do not. They fight for job security and financial benefits. (There is nothing wrong with this. We just need to be honest about it).

                I believe that teachers know how to make schools better. But they have no incentive to risk changing the status quo. Linking part of their pay to learning gives them this incentive. It only needs to be a very small part.

                •  What an amazing crock of shit. (6+ / 0-)
                  I believe that teachers know how to make schools better. But they have no incentive to risk changing the status quo.
                  Why do you think teachers go into the field? For the salary?

                  This has to be the dumbest argument you have ever come up with.

                  Teachers don't go into education for the money, although it would be nice not to be paid less than, say, vocational counselors:

                  • A comparison of teachers’ wages to those of workers with comparable skill requirements, including accountants, reporters, registered nurses, computer programmers, clergy, personnel officers, and vocational counselors and inspectors, shows that teachers earned $116 less per week in 2002, a wage disadvantage of 12.2%. Because teachers worked more hours per week, the hourly wage disadvantage was an even larger 14.1%.

                  • Teachers’ weekly wages have grown far more slowly than those for these comparable occupations; teacher wages have deteriorated about 14.8% since 1993 and by 12.0% since 1983 relative to comparable occupations.

                  • Although teachers have somewhat better health and pension benefits than do other professionals, these are offset partly by lower payroll taxes paid by employers (since some teachers are not in the Social Security system). Teachers have less premium pay (overtime and shift pay, for example), less paid leave, and fewer wage bonuses than do other professionals. Teacher benefits have not improved relative to other professionals since 1994 (the earliest data we have on benefits), so the growth in the teacher wage disadvantage has not been offset by improved benefits.

                  Teachers teach because they need to make a difference. Every study done on merit pay shows absolutely no correlation between merit pay and increased student outcomes. It's crap. Tying teacher salaries to student learning will do nothing more than accelerate the trend toward killing the profession, and you must know that.

                  Clearly, that is what you want.

                  •  Take off the rose colored glasses, DB (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    bobtmn, duhban

                    Some percentage of teachers no doubt go into it for the love and the desire to give back.  Many others go into it because there it provides a decent salary, relative job security, and summers off.  And a lot of once-good teachers have no doubt became jaded and lazy over time.

                    At the same time that government underpays teachers (a travesty), many liberals glorify their performance (e.g., the ludicrous claim that "99% are effective or highly effective").  I have a lot of teachers in my family, and I can tell you that at least half of them are barely qualified to teach.  Even if they are trying hard, there is no way in hell they are getting the most our of their students.

                    Will incentive pay make good teachers better?  I'll concede that it will not.  But I think it could make marginal teachers better and, more importantly, improve the pool of individuals that decide to become teachers in the first place.  I also think that there are a lot of good points about giving unions a direct economic incentive to fight for improved schools.

                    •  Incentive pay won't accomplish that, unless it is (4+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      shaharazade, caul, maf1029, elfling

                      out of proportion to actual salaries.

                      What you are edging toward is the thought that teaching, in the US, is an under-appreciated, underpaid profession - that is often not even recognized as an actual profession by the uninformed.

                      If you were to propose actual salary increases across the board, coupled with the recognition that teaching should be as prestigious as the medical field, lawyers, and politicians - why, then I would agree with you, and would even expect a dramatic increase in the abilities of teachers entering the profession.

                      But merit pay? Pfffft. Pointless, as every major study shows.

                    •  The layers of ignorance in your viewpoint (0+ / 0-)

                      are stunning. Please, come teach my class for a week. I'll watch and learn.

                  •  Here are just... (0+ / 0-)

                    ...two studies showing the positive effects of merit pay:

                    http://www.aeaweb.org/...

                    http://www.nber.org/...

                    I really think it's a bad strategy to make people think that teachers are angelic beings who require nothing but Love. Teachers have bills to pay just like everybody else. They are underpaid, and they deserve more money.

                    In the current political climate (this is a political site, remember) it is impossible to just hike teacher salaries. But if we tie the hikes to More Learning, we can get it thru.

                    "Tying teacher salaries to student learning will do nothing more than accelerate the trend toward killing the profession, and you must know that. "
                    No, it will change the profession. Teaching will no longer be a safe, sleepy job with no risks, and no upside except "making a difference". (Although here in NYC, not much of a difference is being made).

                    Teaching will instead be what needs to be: A dynamic, idea-driven profession that changes and adapts to the 21st century. Right now if a teacher wants to try a new idea, she can't. There are too many regulations. But if we give teachers more power, they can try new things.

                    But nobody will give teachers more power unless they accept more responsibility. That is where Merit Pay comes in.

                    •  Studies from Israel & India have relevance in the (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      caul, maf1029

                      US how, exactly?

                      Show me a US study that shows a correlation between improved student learning and teacher merit pay, and you'll have a point.

                      Unless you are now advancing the theory that the educational system in the US, the economic conditions in the US, the salary and prestige of public school teaching in the US, etc., are identical to Israel and India? No?

                      •  We can't do a US study... (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        duhban

                        ...because the Unions block every attempt to institute Merit Pay.

                        I just linked two peer-reviewed studies, one of them with a HUGE samples size and neither of them with any possible hidden political agenda. I think that they demand more than an backhand dismissal.

                        The Diarist linked a video claiming that small rewards do work as incentives.

                        You sound like a Tea-Partier rejecting Universal Healthcare because "America ain't the same as them furrin' countries...!"

                        (Unless you can empirically document some specific cultural/genetic factors that make Indians and Israelis radically different from Americans.)

                        •  Now you're just being ridiculous. (2+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          caul, maf1029

                          It's not even debatable that the US education system and economic situation is in any way similar to the two countries you are offering as evidence, and yet you are using my observation of that fact to accuse me of xenophobia.

                          Laughable.

                          Here's a link to an article that discusses some particular shortcomings in the merit pay proposal. Not that it will do any good to point you in the direction of reason...

                          (Unless you can empirically document some specific cultural/genetic factors that make Indians and Israelis radically different from Americans.)
                          Total red herring. Nobody but you even made mention of the idea that Indians and Israelis are radically different from Americans. I pointed out that some of the primary factors (the educational system in the US, the economic conditions in the US, the salary and prestige of public school teaching in the US as opposed to Israel and India) in the relevant situation are totally unalike.

                          But you are not interested in arguments made on their merits, are you?

                          •  I read the article you linked. (0+ / 0-)

                            If what that guy says is true, why does Merit Pay work in other countries?

                            Also, the author trips over some common fallacies:

                            "Factors Beyond Teachers' Control" -- That's what VAM is for.

                            "Measurement Problems" -- Measurement is not the problem, it's the solution. If you are afraid teachers will teach to the test (they will), just use a tougher test.

                            "Teaching is a complex profession, and teachers do a lot in the interest of students that really isn't measurable." -- Oh really? If it can't be measured, how do you know it gets done? Or is this like the Emperor's New Clothes?

                            "Misunderstanding Human Motivation" -- Didn't we just go through this?

                            The objections are getting thinner and thinner. But even if I can't convince you,  you still need to take reform seriously. A growing majority of voters agree that Public Education needs overhauled. Your time and mine would be best spent coming up with good reforms that work.

                            The alternative will be to have ALEC shove something down our throats. Think Privatization. Computer charter schools. Creationist Academies. I don't think either of us want that.

                            Progressives need to fix education -- or it will be fixed without us.

                          •  Hey, we agree on something. (3+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            caul, maf1029, Odysseus
                            Progressives need to fix education -- or it will be fixed without us.
                            That should, of course, read:
                            Progressives need to fix education -- or it will be 'fixed' without us.
                            The problem is, your idea of 'fixing' is worse than the disease.

                            I do like the argument, though. Let's see where an analogy might take us:

                            You're going to be executed. You have no choice about that, it's already been decided. What you can do to take part in the process is attempt to affect the method of execution! Would you prefer poison, garroting, disembowelment, or defenestration?
                            Your argument totally makes sense. I don't see how any teacher could possibly protest that there might be a better alternative to being put to death by people who don't seem to have any real motivation except profit.

                            As far as your actual, sensible question go, let's see:

                            If what that guy says is true, why does Merit Pay work in other countries?
                            Different countries work under different conditions. Every situation has a solution, but any particular solution does not fit every situation.
                            "Factors Beyond Teachers' Control" -- That's what VAM is for.
                            Here are just a few examples of how and why VAM was, is, and ever will be, utter crap:

                            EVAAS, Value-Added and Teacher Branding

                            Gary Rubinstein on VAM

                            Economic Policy Institute on VAM

                            John Ewing on VAM

                            A Teacher's View on VAM

                            And, in the theme of the Chicago strike, Richard Rothstein

                            So much for VAM. It's a crap sandwich. Stop eating it.

                            "Measurement Problems" -- Measurement is not the problem, it's the solution. If you are afraid teachers will teach to the test (they will), just use a tougher test.
                            Ha ha ha! Make the high-stakes fiasco even harder! Brilliant! That'll totally fix everything!
                            "Teaching is a complex profession, and teachers do a lot in the interest of students that really isn't measurable." -- Oh really? If it can't be measured, how do you know it gets done? Or is this like the Emperor's New Clothes?
                            Go read "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance". When you are done, give me a precise definition of "quality".

                            (Yes, it's a sophomoric exercise, but it fits.)

                            "Misunderstanding Human Motivation" -- Didn't we just go through this?
                            Well, somebody sure seems to be misunderstanding something. (Don't look now, but I think it's you...)
                          •  Throats? (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Roadbed Guy, ManhattanMan

                            Alec ramming shit down our throats? Here in Indiana, they already did and the Obama Administration was acting in collusion with them. After facilitating 6000 votes for President Obama in 2008, and working my ass off, not to mention the money I donated, the corporate wing of the Democratic Party took steps to robotize children's minds by doubling down on high stakes standardized testing.

                            Educational experience based on non-consensual behaviorism is authoritarian mind control.

                            by semioticjim on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 04:36:36 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  You have correctly stated the facts. (0+ / 0-)

                            Even Obama is in favor of these reforms.

                            Wake up -- THIS IS A DONE DEAL.

                            We need to make sure that the measurement systems, voucher programs, an Charter School regulations are applied fairly and sensibly.

                            Now is not the time to lay down in front of the bulldozer. 'Cuz you'll get run over...

                          •  Spoken like a true "I was just following orders" (0+ / 0-)

                            minion!

                            "Yes, I knew that the results would end to the extreme detriment of an entire generation of children - but our political leaders said frog, so I jumped!"

                            Not just pathetic; suicidal, in the long run.

                            Come on, MM -- you must know that the measurement systems, voucher programs, and charter schools work against the development of the individual as a fully-functioning, rational, highly cognitive intellect; that's what the data says! At best, those methods simply don't equal the average public school!

                            So why are you so desperate to help further the dumbing down of America?

                        •  Can't believe I didn't notice this earlier! (3+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          progressivist, elfling, Odysseus
                          We can't do a US study because the Unions block every attempt to institute Merit Pay.
                          But the diarist linked a major, 5-year study on merit pay in the US in the diary!

                          Guess what? It doesn't influence student outcomes!

                          •  Also, there are 23 right to work states (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            elfling, Odysseus

                            If unions were blocking merit pay, so we couldn't perform studies which is an obvious lie, what is stopping merit pay in non union states?

                          •  Excellent point. MM just keeps floating them (0+ / 0-)

                            right over the plate, doesn't he?

                            I have to admit, he does keep revising his arguments. Though one thing he never really varies is his consistent tendency to avoid completely anything he can't respond to without demonstrating his arguments are simply wrong. He's been doing that here for years now.

                    •  When was the last time... (3+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      shaharazade, caul, maf1029

                      Manhattan Man taught non consensual general education courses in an elementary school to a classroom of 37 at risk children? If students are not receptive to learning, teachers are going to have trouble....Children are not static entities.

                      Evaluating teachers for merit pay using the same mathematical formulas created by Wall Street derivatives traders to evaluate mortgage backed securities is criminal and immoral.

                      High stakes testing and it's data driven rote behaviorist learning experience counterpart perverts the educational process.

                      The President cannot speak sideways out one side of his mouth and say he is not for "teaching to the test" and then advocate for merit pay.

                      The President needs to address inequality in our schools and communities before he does something foolish like try to implement merit pay.

                      Educational experience based on non-consensual behaviorism is authoritarian mind control.

                      by semioticjim on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 03:41:42 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Oh, come on! (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        duhban

                        Don't wail that it's the kids' fault.

                        Any sensible system will control for kids being at-risk, having bad socioeconomics, etc. If you have a class of tough kids, you will have a lower threshold to meet. That's only fair.

                        There are huge stacks of studies showing the effect of every possible socioeconomic variable on learning. We can easily use a VAM-type model to account for them.

                        Also (as the Diarist notes in the video they linked) the number does not have to be large. No teacher is going to become poor because a kid has a Bad Test Day.  The rewards only need to be small.

                        •  I gave you a little too much to think about.... (3+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          shaharazade, caul, maf1029

                          Your "sensible system" does nothing to provide for democratic educational experiences...

                          Your "sensible system" is based on non consensual data driven behaviorist educational experiences where children are fundamentally left outside the decision making processes central to the learning activities they are forced to participate in.

                          The whole system is fucked up and you don't even know what the hell you are talking about because you have no clue what the system is about......

                          Educational experience based on non-consensual behaviorism is authoritarian mind control.

                          by semioticjim on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 04:26:16 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  OMG, eduspeak. (0+ / 0-)

                            I love eduspeak!

                            Let's deconstruct.

                            Your "sensible system" is based on non consensual School is mandatory. Of course it's not consensual. We are teaching, not going on a date.

                            data driven If you don't wish drive your decisions with data, what, pray tell, do you wish to use? GW Bush used to "look into people's hearts"...it didn't work, though.

                            behaviorist educational experiences Newsflash. Behaviorism works. It is the one of the few branches of Psychology that actually produces predictable results.

                            where children are fundamentally left outside the decision making processes central to the learning activities they are forced to participate in.  Why, yes. I am not permitting children to make certain decisions. They are, after all, children.

                            But all this is really beside the point. If you think that you have a better way to do it, start a Charter School and try it out! All snark aside, the Charters started by veteran teachers tend to do better.

                            The great thing about Merit Pay is that it measures how far the kids go. The teacher has wide authority on how to get there. If you want a non-behaviorist, consensual, learning process, that relies on central decision input from 2nd graders, fine. Just make sure they know how to read by the time June comes.

                            The current system pays teachers for following a method. This guarantees that all kids will get the same cookie-cutter method applied to them.  Merit pay, pays for results. This frees teachers to use different approaches in different situations.

                            Even if teachers never make their numbers, the diversity alone is valuable.

                          •  You create toxic stress filled atmospheres... (4+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            shaharazade, Mlle L, caul, maf1029

                            and expect children to thrive under a constant barrage of mind numbing fill in the blank worksheets and their digital counterparts?

                            Children are biologically hard wired to learn through multi sensory learning experiences. Your prescription is anesthetic to humans natural desire to learn.

                            The whole corporatist American education system is an authoritarian mass production assembly line test prep apparatus.

                            Teachers didn't invent that.

                            What the hell do you know about children's responses to a steady diet of data driven educational experience?

                            Children are so much more than data points.

                            Educational experience based on non-consensual behaviorism is authoritarian mind control.

                            by semioticjim on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 05:31:19 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  If you do not like... (0+ / 0-)

                            ...stress-filled atmospheres, you should not have chosen an important profession like teaching.

                            If the kids don't learn, they will be unemployed. They will be unable to feed their families and forced to rely on handouts from the Mitt Romneys of the world.

                            Our country will be less competitive and we will be forced to accept a lower standard of living. If the kids don't learn, they will be unable to appreciate our history, unable to evaluate policy, and hence, unable to vote intelligently.

                            Education is important. Very important.

                            Sometimes I think that many teachers entered the profession thinking it would be stress-free. They now act surprised when they realize that they have the most important job in America.

                            If you don't like high-stakes tests, don't enter a high-stakes profession. That 2nd-grader has exactly one chance to learn to read, or he's behind for life. Those are what I call "high-stakes".

                            If you are in a classroom and you're not stressed, then you probably don't understand the situation.  

                            I renovate houses for a living. I employ painters and plumbers. These guys aren't stressed. It is never too late to change careers...

                          •  Learning.... (4+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            shaharazade, Mlle L, caul, maf1029

                            Should be a joyful adventure...

                            MM you better stick to renovating houses...you would be a horrid teacher.

                            I've been teaching for nearly 30 years now and I think I know a little more about optimizing learning experiences for heterogeneous groups of children than you do.

                            What the hell do you know about reading instruction?

                            How many children have you taught to read and write?

                            Toxic stress in the classroom?
                            Hmmmm...it's real...so are the 26% of the American population who suffer from various mental health problems, the highest rates of mental illness in the industrialized world.

                            Educational experience based on non-consensual behaviorism is authoritarian mind control.

                            by semioticjim on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 06:29:06 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                        •  Wail it is the kids fault? (2+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          shaharazade, maf1029

                          You disrespect children and their living conditions now.

                          Educational experience based on non-consensual behaviorism is authoritarian mind control.

                          by semioticjim on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 05:19:03 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                        •  There's a study that shows that test scores go (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          Odysseus

                          down every time there's a murder within a few miles of a school. Like literally, you can test before and after a murder and see a decrease in academic performance.

                          How the heck is a teacher supposed to overcome that? And why aren't we having VAM scores on police departments. Obviously, every time there is a murder, we should fire one police officer. That will give them incentive to improve.

                          Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                          by elfling on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 09:22:47 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  You can't expect... (0+ / 0-)

                            ...a teacher to overcome a bad home environment.

                            What VAM does is adjust for these factors. If you have poor kids or ESL kids, you get extra points on your VAM.

                            It far from perfect. But it is much better than just promoting whoever the Principal has a good "gut feel" about.

                            VAM for cops? Hmmm...maybe not a bad idea...

                          •  It does not adjust for those factors (0+ / 0-)

                            at least, not in any way it has been done to date.

                            The tests we give now are not designed to evaluate teachers, and they're not useful for that purpose. They are a useful bit of information to work with, but they are only a starting point. Bad teachers have students that get great scores just as good teachers have students that get poor scores.

                            Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                            by elfling on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 10:23:00 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                    •  So? (0+ / 0-)

                      A couple teachers figured out that teaching to the test gets them more money. How very Pavlovian!
                      Got anything else? Perhaps something from the mainstream, peer-reviewed, relevant, education and sociology literature?

                      "Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction." - Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), Pensées, #894

                      by maf1029 on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 08:09:22 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  I'm reading your studies, one ? comes to mind (0+ / 0-)

                      Are the populations of Israel and India comparable homogeniously speaking to the US. Are there more diverse cultures in schools in Israel and India than the US? I tend to think that Israel is very homogeous and probably India as well compared  to the US. I have the feeling that the discipline in the schools is better there too, even though the money, especially in India isn't.

                •  Teacher satisfaction depends on student learning (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Odysseus

                  And I've seen unions fight for smaller class sizes and longer school years and such fripperies as textbooks on the first day of school.

                  Your blanket statement that all teachers' unions care only about job security and financial benefits is flat out wrong. And the idea that a thousand dollars would completely change that is frankly inexplicable.

                  Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                  by elfling on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 09:18:05 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

        •  Unfortunately, no. (10+ / 0-)

          Those who have the power to change things in education listen to everybody BUT teachers. I can't count the number of times I have tried to point out the train wreck about to occur, but those in admin who could stop it refuse to hear me. Their attitude is "You're just a teacher." As if becoming admin makes a person infallible.

          And while I'm at it. I also really despise the meme that teachers aren't smart or they would be in another profession. Talk to me and my colleagues and you would think differently. Are there mediocre teachers out there who make us wonder how they ever got through school? Absolutely. It is that way in every profession. . .Case in point: Rmoney.

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

          by Teiresias70 on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 08:06:27 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Not true. (0+ / 0-)
            "Those who have the power to change things in education listen to everybody BUT teachers."
            Not when teachers strike.

            But under the current system, teachers strike for things that make life better for teachers.

            If we tied teacher pay to student learning, they would strike to make things better for everybody.

            •  Were you even following the Chicago strike? (5+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              burlydee, shaharazade, caul, maf1029, elfling

              If your comment is truly what you believe, obviously you are not paying attention.

              Big surprise.

              •  Unfortunately knowledge of a subject (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                caul, maf1029

                isn't a prerequisite to having an opinion.  

              •  Were YOU following the strike? (0+ / 0-)

                I was.

                If you want to know what teachers care about, don't listen to what they said in the negotiations. Look at what they actually settled for.

                During the strike, they talked about computers and air-conditioning, and unicorns, but none of that made it in the final deal. That was just for the Media. Parents love the image of teachers striking so their kids can have a new playground or computer lab. Many parents actually believed it!

                But when the deal went down, they settled for more money (a 17% raise) and more job security (gutting the Merit Pay scheme and forcing principals to re-hire senior teachers before new teachers). They were forced to accept more teaching time.

                Rahm (who is no angel either) talked a lot about pay-for-performance and The Importance Of Learning, but we now know that what he really wanted was those kids off the streets for an extra 90 minutes a day.

                I want to be clear that I don't blame teachers for getting as much as they can get from negotiations. I would do the same. I just think that we sound dumb when we pretend that 294 million Americans work for money -- and 6 million teachers work for Love and Respect.

                Teachers have bills to pay just like everybody else.  Maybe if they stopped pretending to be Fairy Angels of Learning, the public wouldn't feel so sanguine about underpaying them...

                •  So what you are saying is that the system that (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  caul, maf1029

                  the teachers were striking against was so determined to make sure the kids would benefit from their policies that they could not be bothered to include those aspects that you think would benefit kids...

                  At least, I assume you think computers and air conditioning would benefit kids. I don't actually think unicorns were mentioned anywhere except in your fevered dreams.

                  I suspect that the teachers were more concerned with their future ability to not be driven arbitrarily out of their profession via mechanisms that have yet to be shown are at all accurate in what they purport to do, and when the administration refused to budge on installing air conditioning, accepted the inevitable.

                  Or are you suggesting that air conditioning and computers wouldn't have been of benefit to students? In which case, why would it be a bad thing for the teachers to have not insisted on their inclusion?

                  Or are you even trying to be consistent at all?

                  •  The air conditioning and computers... (0+ / 0-)

                    ...would have been of immense benefit to students.

                    If teachers were selfless and cared for nothing but Learning, they would have forced Rahm to install computers.

                    But they were not selfless. They were humans with families to feed. So they used their leverage to get money and job security instead. I don't blame them for this.

                    •  Uh-huh. Yet the system you are advocating for, for (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      caul, maf1029

                      the benefit of the children, obviously doesn't give a damn about something that "would have been of immense benefit to students", or they would have made certain it was part of the agreement. Or even never let it be a problem in the first place.

                      Good to have that cleared up, then.

                      Pity it doesn't help your position.

                    •  Pls read my post on the results of Chicago teacher (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      elfling, ManhattanMan
                      •  Very nice. I was unable to find specifics on (0+ / 0-)

                        the actual contract; this helps fill in the gaps.

                        And, of course, clearly demonstrates that MM is talking out of his ass again.

                        Just for the sake of completeness, can you point me to a source?

                        •  I don't see anything there... (0+ / 0-)

                          ...that is not related to job security or money (except the textbooks).

                          Even the $250 for supplies is the same as cash in their pockets because most teachers spend more than that (out out of their paychecks) for supplies.

                          •  Hard to read with your eyes shut. (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            elfling

                            Maybe these quotes will help:

                            Next, and to me this is huge, the union secured positions for 512 Art, Language, Music, and Physical Education teachers. The  leaders and kids of leaders in our country get a broad based, critical thinking curriculum. For example, the Chicago Lab High School has no less than seven Art Teachers. This is where Rahm sends his children. The last similar size CPS high school that Rahm  shuttered had zero Art Teachers. Modern reformers are not fighting for schools like their children go to, but the union is.
                            Each elementary school will now have a school counselor. In fact, the board has committed to hiring more social workers and nurses as well as counselors.
                            They also added parents to the class size monitoring team. Before,there was no enforcement of class sizes. The union wanted parents on the board so they would have access to class size data. The mayor wanted parents in the dark because he does not believe class size matters, except at the Lab School where he sends his children.
                            Research shows that identifying with a teacher can boost a student's achievement. It's also common sense. They aren't emotionless widgets to be screwed into place. With that in mind, the union fought for policies that will increase racial diversity.
                            First, the union defeated the Mayor's merit pay scheme. Merit pay is the antithesis of what works in countries with top education programs. Educators know that the way to close the achievement gap is with all teachers working in constructive collaboration for all kids. Modern reform would pit teacher against teacher in destructive competition. The most comprehensive study on merit pay illustrates what a colossal waste of resources it is. It has no effect.
                          •  In addition it's worth noting that Rahm (0+ / 0-)

                            had passed a provision that made it illegal for the Chicago teachers to strike over anything other than pay and benefits. This substantially affected their ability to bargain on the other issues they raised.

                            Why would he even think to do that if the teachers didn't care about other issues?

                            Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                            by elfling on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 10:26:04 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Because job security... (0+ / 0-)

                            ...is not a pay issue.

                            Anything that reduces accountability (such as gutting merit pay) increases job security. Mandating small class sizes, or requiring more hires also increases job security.

                            Giving parents class size data is another way to get parents to demand more hires. THIS IS A GOOD THING, but let's not pretend it was done solely"for the children".

                            I notice that parents don't get access to data such as their teachers' VAM scores. Whenever these are made public, teachers are suddenly against transparency and they howl like banshees...

                          •  No comment on all the other items? (0+ / 0-)

                            Of course not. Difficult to spin, even when spin is all you are looking for.

                            Small class sizes improves education. How, exactly, do you want to argue against that?

                            Merit pay does not work. You have yet to acknowledge that the diary itself contains a major study on merit pay in the US, which shows it does not work. Spinning it as an attempt to reduce accountability is just stupid.

                            VAM scores are crap. Again, I notice you didn't respond to my other comment linking to numerous studies on the subject.

                            What else have you got, except for lame spin?

        •  I hope you right, (0+ / 0-)

          but having taught and worked with teachers and having been involved in attempts to change school districts, I seriously doubt the the dynamic you describe will happen. It certainly is one progressive unionists like myself should try to promote to move teachers to action. I am just not sure how successful we will be.

          If we don't change, we don't grow. If we don't grow, we aren't really living. - Gail Sheehy

          by itisuptous on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 08:27:26 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Sorry, Manhattan Man, you don't know what you are (7+ / 0-)

          talking about. I teach in Michigan and we teachers already have a target on our backs.

          First of all, teachers do not get a nice pension. What pension I get is paid for with my own money. Pension benefits have been cut back and retiree health care is no longer paid for at all.

          Second, I don't have any more credibility now that I get "merit pay" of $200.00. That's just insulting. Next year, 50% of my evaluation depends on student test scores. Even if I teach my hardest and give my all, I cannot MAKE a child learn who comes from abject poverty and is more concerned with where his/her next meal comes from.  Recent studies have shown that POVERTY, not teachers, is the single most important factor contributing to lack of successful education in America today.

          Liberal (from Webster's Dictionary): tolerant of views differing from one's own; broad-minded

          by 50sbaby on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 11:52:44 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I don't know much about the situation... (0+ / 0-)

            ...in Michigan, I'll admit.

            I do know about pensions. If you have a defined-benefit pension, you have a very good deal. Every teacher I know has this (but I don't know any teachers under age 35).

            I don't know how your evaluation system works, but if it is fair, it should give you an allowance if your kids are poor or from tough backgrounds.

            I know that POVERTY is the biggest problem, but schools cannot control poverty. Schools must focus on things they can actually control. This means you.

            You need to ask yourself -- how is the Legislature able to get away with attacking teachers? Why don't the voters and parents and taxpayers rise up in their defense? The answer is that years of bad schools have caused:

            1) The well-off to flee for private schools, home-schools, and leafy suburbs

            2) The rest to have low expectations about what a school can do.

            Teachers need to show the public that schools can work. Teachers have considerable political power and they need to use it for something other than increasing salaries and job security.

            You can delay reforms if you want. But every year you delay, another few thousand families abandon the public schools for other options. And that's another few thousand voters who believe they have no stake in the schools whatsoever.

            The Chicago teachers got a 17% raise. Wonderful. But unless they figure out how to give parents a reason to support public schools, they are re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

      •  oh it has an effect alright.... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        derridog, shaharazade, maf1029

        it's a great way to get teachers to become obsessed with some silly test and completely sacrifice any semblance of a comprehensive and creative education.

      •  Hey Alec the word is "tenure DEFORM".... (0+ / 0-)

         Because it exactly DEFORMS the definition of tenure.

      •   (0+ / 0-)

         Because it exactly DEFORMS the definition of tenure.

    •  Why teacher incentive pay is bad (30+ / 0-)

      Incentive pay makes perfect sense when you're paying a teacher for extra duties - for running an afterschool project, for summer school, for mentoring other teachers, etc. Everyone understands you're being paid for extra time and extra responsibility. It works.

      The problem is when it is just awarded for, forgive me, "betterness."

      What if you have a K-5 and all six teachers are excellent? Face it, no one in these reforms envisions 100% of your teachers getting merit pay for excellence. You're supposed to pick only a couple. This is graded on a curve, not a bar to be crossed.

      But guess what? If the 5th grade teacher is brilliant, she is standing on the shoulders of the previous 5 teachers. If the kindergarten wasn't excellent, the failure will cascade into the results of every other teacher.

      And so you have 6 excellent professionals who are all underpaid, and you want to give one of them a couple thousand more. It's a recipe for bitterness when they are all struggling to save for a car or send their own kids to summer camp.

      Here is my alternate proposal: spend the money on air conditioning. It will improve the working conditions for all teachers, and the learning conditions for all students. I think everyone would be much better off.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 10:02:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  What we should incentivize (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        maf1029

        You make a great point that incentive pay shouldn't just be tied to quantitative results.  I would favor incentive pay for mentoring, staying after class to do optional study sessions, etc.  But that's a design issue, not an inherent critique of incentive pay itself.

        And I am not sure anyone here is arguing that incentive pay should come before basic infrastructure improvements such as air conditioning.

        •  Actually, they totally *are* arguing that (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          shaharazade, caul, maf1029

          incentive pay should come before basic infrastructure improvements such as air conditioning.

          My first exhibit on that point would be that air conditioning is considered a frill, not basic infrastructure, and that a substantial percentage of schools nationwide don't have it. Many schools, especially rural schools, also lack high speed internet, a critical component of the Race To The Top plan for all assessments done online in 2014. There is no national initiative to even assess how many schools need bandwidth, let alone to pay for it or ensure that it's on the calendar.

          And before many of these schools can have air conditioning or a bunch of computers... they need more electricity. Schools built in the 1960s and 1970s were not wired with the amperage needed to support even 30 laptop computers in an ordinary classroom, let alone the actual outlets or the extra amps for that air conditioning they still lack.

          So there are plans, and grants, and programs for merit pay, but not air conditioning.

          Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

          by elfling on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 05:46:16 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  You are right about inexperienced teachers (22+ / 0-)

      in poor and rural schools. But incentive pay won't tempt better teachers to teach there, because of the trend of evaluating teachers based on their students' "performance." Students in poorer schools perform worse (duh!), so even if you got incentive pay to teach there, you'd be likely to lose that benefit (or your job) because you weren't able to overcome the odds facing your students in order to get them to "perform" on standardized tests...

      Arne Duncan - Obama's worst idea.

      "The universe is made of stories, not atoms." -Muriel Rukeyser

      by tubacat on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 10:55:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Problem is.. (11+ / 0-)

      .. when the district budget stays the same, in order to free up $ for incentives, you have to cut books and supplies, not to mention teacher pay and benefits, all of which drive good people out of the profession.

      I'm a special ed teacher in an urban district and it's been 2 years since I've been given any district money for books or supplies.  Incentive pay means I'm waiting longer.

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

      by gsbadj on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 06:27:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Incentive pay does hurt (13+ / 0-)

      You might want to read Dan Ariely's "Predictably Irrational."  It turns out that in their work people can be functioning in a social interactive frame of reference or in a money frame of reference.  Many very good studies have shown that as soon as money comes to the foreground people work harder but less creatively and less collaboratively.

      I've seen it happen with teachers, and I've experienced it myself.  Once I understood this, I developed habits that keep me from thinking about what I get paid as a teacher.  Whenever I get a contract, I take a look at the money to see if it's enough to get by on, and then I forget about it till next time.  Most of the time I couldn't tell you what I get paid.  thinking about this would now and then take my mind away from helping students and working with other teachers.  

      The cumulative effect of thinking about money while trying to get that "incentive" is even more substantial than thinking about a normal salary.

      Alec is completely correct about all of this.  This is one of a very few areas in which President Obama is wrong.

      "Trust only those who doubt" Lu Xun

      by LookingUp on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 06:40:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Agree to a point. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      caul, maf1029

      It won't necessarily stop teachers from working together. But it will beat down morale even more.

      And teachers are beaten down from all corners as it is.

  •  Excellent points, thanks for helping share (10+ / 0-)

    why so many professionals are in opposition.

    See also

    Weingarten: Top down reform doesn’t work
    Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, talks about education reform and teachers unions.
    and
    Teachers and Parents NOT Voting for Obama or Romney Facebook Page

    How did Supreme Court decision ACA help the 23 million still uncovered? Ask the 18,000 Doctors of PNHP -- they're not waiting, FORWARD now to pass H.R. 676, the “Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act .

    by divineorder on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 06:23:50 PM PDT

    •  That Facebook page (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cedwyn

      looks like it's all anti-Obama, even if it does include Romney in the title. Little content is about Romney. As much as I don't like what's going on in education, I can't advocate not voting for the President when so much more rides on that.

      Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. Throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. --Mark Twain

      by Debby on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 06:13:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  M*A*S*H Analogy (16+ / 0-)

    I would compare a school's staff to the medical staff on the TV show, MASH.  Like the opening shot of the doctors and nurses running the choppers, teachers face "incoming" with no control over the war environment causing the wounds.  They are understaffed and resourced.  They must perform triage to deal with the biggest problems first.  They work best by helping each other, not competing.


    Diane Ravitch's Blog is the best place, I think, to keep up-to-date on education news from around the country.  Diane can lead you to the facts about failed merit pay programs.  She's been an Education Historian long enough to have seen most of this.

  •  Is it intellectually honest ... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BrowniesAreGood, auapplemac, bobtmn

    to believe that all teachers (or members of any other group) are identical in their abilities and talents?  Hardly.  And a system that cannot acknowledge that fact, due mostly to personal insecurity, will lose its more talented members ... to the certain detriment of students, who deserve, perhaps more than anything else, to learn how the world actually works.

    "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity, and I am not sure about the universe." -- Albert Einstein

    by Neuroptimalian on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 08:33:20 PM PDT

  •  When tagging (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Larsstephens, ban nock, Jerry J, netop

    each tag is separated by a comma. Thus, for example, you should tag

    early childhood education, education

    to get two useful tags

    rather than

    early, childhood, education

    since early isn't all that interesting as a tag.

    I fixed them for you to help people find your diary.

    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

    by elfling on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 09:54:05 PM PDT

  •  let's get him elected (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elfling, AlecMN, Debby, Cedwyn, Azazello

    then change his mind on policy

    Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable. ~JFK

    by TheUrbanRevolution on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 10:05:40 PM PDT

  •  "While well intentioned, it is misguided." (4+ / 0-)

    What's the evidence for his intentions being good on this?

    “The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just.” – Abraham Lincoln

    by Sagebrush Bob on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 10:14:10 PM PDT

    •  I've listened to Obama speak on education (8+ / 0-)

      He does know a lot on the topic, and I think he does have the interests of the kids at heart. I think he suffers a bit from private school-its, meaning that his experience (and his sister's; she's a teacher) come from private schools and he doesn't recognize certain blind spots. And I just don't get his faith in Arne Duncan.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 10:21:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  seriously? (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sewaneepat, Debby, Adam AZ, Cedwyn

      as opposed to what? Obama being out to wreck education?

      •  Seriously (17+ / 0-)

        I'm tired of giving the so-called reformers, and their supporters,  a pass. Rhee, Gates, Duncan and others are always said to have "good intentions". I have been hearing this since the days of Reagan.

        Since your answer implies only two choices - either the President has good intentions or he is out to wreck education - let me give you another either/or scenario.

        Despite the wealth of evidence indicates that charter schools, merit pay, and value-added metrics(with it's emphasis on simplistic standardized testing) do not work, the administration continues to use them as the basis for their education policy. They are either doing this because it politically expedient, or .... ??? You decide. After years of being bashed by Democtatic politicians, I am no longer willing to concede that they have good intentions.

        A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

        by slatsg on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 03:21:30 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  and I am tired of assuming (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          zeiben, Adam AZ, slatsg, Cedwyn, bobtmn

          that only their ideas are valid and anyone that dares offer anything that you deem 'bad' isn't operating in good faith

          intelligent people can see the same problem and come to different answers, if you are fundamentally unable to even agree that everyone on this side of the fence including Obama has good intentions on this then frankly I don't really know what to say.

          And by the by that wasn't an either or thing as I said, as opposed to what? If you have another answer I'm all ears

          •  "intelligent people" with different vision (9+ / 0-)

            I'm tired of this dodge.

            How can "intelligent people" look at these answers:

            Despite the wealth of evidence indicates that charter schools, merit pay, and value-added metrics(with it's emphasis on simplistic standardized testing) do not work, the administration continues to use them as the basis for their education policy.
            and come up with policies that go against the evidence?

            The evidence is clear that these policies do not work, are not effective, and elicit results that are not valid or reliable. Yet they ARE the basis for President Obama's education policy. We wouldn't accept ignoring the evidence as "good intentions" from the GOP, so why should we from Democrats?

            If you have another answer I'm all ears.

            Imagination is more important than knowledge. Albert Einstein

            by michael in chicago on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 07:05:22 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  it's not a dodge it's afact (0+ / 0-)

              and frankly I don't care if you like it or hate it, if you want to talk about objective reality then deal with it.

              If instead you want to go to the world where only you have note worthy things to say then fine but that's not reality that's an echo chamber

              •  Objective reality? (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                shaharazade, caul, maf1029, Sagebrush Bob
                Despite the wealth of evidence indicates that charter schools, merit pay, and value-added metrics(with it's emphasis on simplistic standardized testing) do not work, the administration continues to use them as the basis for their education policy.
                This seems pretty objective and is very real.

                Are you saying that the evidence supports charter schools over public schools? Are you saying research suggests merit pay is effective? Are you saying value-added metrics are valid and reliable?

                In reality, "intelligent people" do not ignore the evidence and act counter to it without motive.

                Imagination is more important than knowledge. Albert Einstein

                by michael in chicago on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 06:53:21 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  and what is this 'wealth of evidence'? (0+ / 0-)

                  that's also a very broad brush that is being used for multiple disappated things. Frankly I'm more then willing to concede that the test we currently use are useless but that doesn't mean we don't need some metric to test retention of knowledge.

                  And I would point out taht in general private schools do do better tehn public schools and I say that with first hand experience.

                  As to merit pay frankly I support it so long as it is reasonable and small.

                  Howver if you're going to keep questioning my motives and keep acting in the manner you stated in, I'm going to walk away. I'm not your punching bag and I have better things to do then to be one.

                  Your choice

                  •  Sorry, but the answer to "where is the wealth of (4+ / 0-)

                    evidence" is quite simply Google.

                    It doesn't even take a lot of searching. Even one of my comments above contains numerous examples of why VAM is crap.

                    If you can't find a wealth of evidence, you aren't looking for it.

                    As far as private schools doing better than public schools - is there a level playing field, or are you talking about expensive private schools that are only available to the privileged few? Is the successful private school model replicable to the masses? If not, why do you think it is a meaningful factor to observe?

                    •  no that's not how this works (0+ / 0-)

                      you want to convince me of your point of view then you provide the evidence. If you can not or will not then why should I do your work for you?

                      As to public vs private it is all about funding you're right but to ignore this seems rather shallow.  I'm all for pushing public over private but to do that requires a dramatic increase in funding and until that changes private will remain teh better option.

                      •  And did you look at the VAM links? No? (0+ / 0-)

                        Then why would I want to more of your work for you?

                        •  what links? (0+ / 0-)

                          I just looked at the entire chain of this conversation including the other guy and I don't see any links. If I missed them my apologies

                          •  thank you though I don't understand (0+ / 0-)

                            why you expected me to have known about this in the first place.

                            Of the 5 links 1 didn't work and I can't watch youtube right now.

                            As to the others, I think they are fair criticisms to an extent but that doesn't lead a conculsion of testing is 'bad'. Hell even your formal paper on VAM shows taht testing goes back 50 plus years.

                            The problems as your paper, the teacher's account and the other one show is the implementation not the idea. Teaching is to put it mathmatically a multivariable  linked differential system. There's the teacher, the parents, the kid, the funding, and much more. Obviously feed back is needed and frankly there also needs to be accountablity becasue no every teacher is a good teacher (either by choice or not). I am not a huge fan of tests at any level but they are the best form of feedback even with all their flaws.

                            NCLB will will luck be phased out as it should because it is a flawed law but don't think this problem is all one sided.

                          •  All five links worked for me, that's how I got (0+ / 0-)

                            them.

                            The real point is that it took me literally about three minutes to find these. If you refuse to do any research of your own, it's not due to difficulty, it's due to unwillingness.

                          •  no the real point (0+ / 0-)

                            is it is on you to be able to defend your point and to be able to call upon links if needed, not betrate someone for not seeing links in another conversation or not wanting to spend time hunting down what you think is relevant evidence on this topic.

                            I'll try the links again when I get home (which is also when I'll look at the youtube vid)

                      •  Actually that is how this works (0+ / 0-)

                        As said above, this stuff really isn't in debate.

                        Multiple large studies in some of the largest school districts has shown repeatedly that charter schools do not out perform public schools on the whole (just as often they actually lag behind), and especially when economic factors are included. It is not disputed that merit pay is not workable in a public school system as establishing what the merit that ones is being paid for is nearly impossible to do effectively or equitably in a valid and reliable fashion. And value added measures have absolutely no reliability or validity. This isn't even in doubt with the exception of those with an agenda in the "reform" industry.

                        With all due respect, if you want to discuss these things which have been debunked ad nauseum then the burden of proof falls upon you. If not what you are asking is akin to saying "Global warming is a myth. Prove that it isn't."

                        Imagination is more important than knowledge. Albert Einstein

                        by michael in chicago on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 09:56:12 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                  •  Your comment that private schools are better than (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Sagebrush Bob

                    public in general is not borne out by the evidence, which shows that they come out about the same when adjusted for socioeconomic factors.

                    I will be the first to agree that elite private schools... spending over $30,000 a child ... are nicer places to go and have more cool benefits and activities than your typical public school, where a district spends more like $10,000 a child... and that money is stretched across additional expenditures like special education and transportation.

                    Give our district $30,000 a child and we'll have class sizes of 15 and take our kids on overseas field trips too. :-)

                    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                    by elfling on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 09:34:26 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  and is your district wealthy? (0+ / 0-)

                      your experiences don't match mine in regards to public and certainly not private either.

                      And as I said else where I am all for further funding of public schools I think it's absurd they are not funded better but until they are private will simply just be better 9 times out of 10

                      •  Our district is Title 1 (0+ / 0-)

                        In the elementary we have about 80% of the kids qualifying for free or reduced lunch. (This means my daughter statistically was one of four kids in her class who didn't qualify. :-o )

                        But I'm not citing anecdote here, I'm going with studies, which include not only glorious schools like Sidwell Friends but also less glorious schools like your local catholic school and the like.

                        Here's one article:
                        http://nces.ed.gov/...

                        This study compares mean 2003 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading and mathematics scores of public and private schools in 4th and 8th grades, statistically controlling for individual student characteristics (such as gender, race/ethnicity, disability status, identification as an English language learner) and school characteristics (such as school size, location, and the composition of the student body). In grades 4 and 8, using unadjusted mean scores, students in private schools scored significantly higher than students in public schools for both reading and mathematics. But when school means were adjusted in the HLM analysis, the average for public schools was significantly higher than the average for private schools for grade 4 mathematics and not significantly different for reading. At grade 8, the average for private schools was significantly higher than the average for public schools in reading but not significantly different for mathematics. Comparisons were also carried out between types of sectarian schools. In grade 4, Catholic and Lutheran schools were compared separately to public schools. For both reading and mathematics, the results were similar to those based on all private schools. In grade 8, Catholic, Lutheran, and Conservative Christian schools were each compared to public schools. For Catholic and Lutheran schools for both reading and mathematics, the results were again similar to those based on all private schools. For Conservative Christian schools, the average adjusted school mean in reading was not significantly different from that of public schools. In mathematics, the average adjusted school mean for Conservative Christian schools was significantly lower than that of public schools.

                        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                        by elfling on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 10:33:41 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  having browsed over it quickly (0+ / 0-)

                          I still do not understand the statistical or scientific reasoning used as the basis for 'adjusting' the scores.

                          Your study says flat out the basic scores favor private education.

                          Further I am not entirely sure I understand or even agree with all the 'factors' they decided needed to be adjusted for, they seemed to assume each school has a uniform  distribution which is a rather dangerous assumption. My parents are working middle class, I went to one of the best high schools in the city not because of money but becasue of testing (and the funding that came from that testing). I also know that I was far from the only one even from just my year. Thus to assume social or economic status seems as I said at best dangerous.

                          Last the population sizes are striking, 6,000+ public schools compared to only 500-600 private schools? That's not really a great population size and is barely statistically useful for a study like this. Further what regions are we talking about? Was location factored into this at all? I can't find an answer in the study so far but that it's not stated in the opening is troubling.

                          •  What we see in general is that (0+ / 0-)

                            American public schools are the best in the world when you consider only those who have < 10% of their students in poverty.

                            The problem is that we have a lot of schools with more than 50% in poverty and that schools where 90%+ qualify for free or reduced lunch - even here in California! - are distressingly common. (Keep in mind that the poverty line and the free and reduced lunch line is the same for San Francisco, CA as for Fargo, ND or a small town in Mississippi.)

                            Private school students tend to be kids who will do well in any environment, statistically: their parents care more about education, and they have more money. You don't see a lot of homeless kids going to private school. So, it's appropriate to tease out whether those kids have higher scores than similar peers who attend public schools.

                            I attended an elite science university; very few of my classmates came from private schools. The school that sent the most students to my class was Stuyvesant High School in NYC.

                            One of the advantages that you get out of private schools isn't better teachers or better administration; it's better peers. If a child is disruptive or not ready to learn in a private school classroom, that child can be asked to leave. Obviously, all the kids have parents who care about education in one way or another. Public schools have a much larger obligation to work with any child and can only eject them in extreme situations.

                            Given that we're not going to give up the mandate and the right every child has to an appropriate education, that's not a factor easily replicated in the public school system. The best strategy is probably smaller class sizes and more aides, but that costs money that is not readily at hand.

                            Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                            by elfling on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 11:50:57 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I find it hard to believe (0+ / 0-)

                            that public education here comes even close to comparing with Germany or the rest of Europe

                            And as I said earlier frankly I favor public education but it needs reform and better funding and some of that reform is with teachers.

                          •  Schools vary quite a lot across the US (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            duhban

                            Our best schools are really very good.

                            In California alone we have over 1,000 school districts, and there are definite differences across them.

                            In Europe, there are no countries that have more than 10% of their kids below the poverty line. In the US, we have 25% of our kids below the poverty line. That's not free and reduced lunch, that's the poverty line, which is $23,050 for a family of 4. Over half of American kids qualify for free and reduced lunch.

                            If you compare PISA scores, American kids attending schools with < 10% poverty outscore every other nation, handily.

                            Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                            by elfling on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 12:26:59 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  If you want to see some of the great things (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            duhban

                            going on in public schools, just pop over to the Donors Choose site and look at all the proposals there that teachers put out for funding... proposals developed and posted on the teacher's own time, I would add.

                            There's a school a bit north of me that has a guitar making class. There's an elementary school that has all of its 3rd graders learning violin. You've never heard of these particular schools. Programs like that are out there all over the nation.

                            Check out this one:
                            http://www.kickstarter.com/...

                            For $4000 raised on Kickstarter, the kids launched a probe into the stratosphere where they took video and recorded telemetry data... all at a little rural majority-hispanic school you've never heard of. :-)

                            Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                            by elfling on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 12:32:59 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  that's really cool thank you (0+ / 0-)

                            I do think it a shame such proposals are no national as we need to expose our children to a wide variety of things to find out not only what their likes are but their talents.

                            As to European schools, I'm not just talking testing I'm talking actual school work. I'll use Germany as I'm familair with it but in general you learn 2 languages plus german. If you attend germnasium (yes I just butchered that) you'll learn a 3rd (this is basically a school for those heading to university though that implies a career largely in science).  And that's just an example.

                            Sure math and reading are important but there's so much more out there as you yourself noted that there is no national program for in the states

                        •  additionally (0+ / 0-)

                          from your own source

                          When interpreting the results from any of these analyses, it should be borne in mind that private schools constitute a heterogeneous category and may differ from one another as much as they differ from public schools. Public schools also constitute a heterogeneous category. Consequently, an overall comparison of the two types of schools is of modest utility. The more focused comparisons conducted as part of this study may be of greater value. However, interpretations of the results should take into account the variability due to the relatively small sizes of the samples drawn from each category of private school, as well as the possible bias introduced by the differential participation rates across private school categories.

                          There are a number of other caveats. First, the conclusions pertain to national estimates. Results based on a survey of schools in a particular jurisdiction may differ. Second, the data are obtained from an observational study rather than a randomized experiment, so the estimated effects should not be interpreted in terms of causal relationships. In particular, private schools are “schools of choice.” Without further information, such as measures of prior achievement, there is no way to determine how patterns of self-selection may have affected the estimates presented. That is, the estimates of the average difference in school mean scores are confounded with average differences in the student populations, which are not fully captured by the selected student characteristics employed in this analysis.
                          emphasis mine
                          •  I was responding to your generalization (0+ / 0-)

                            and in general, it's not true.

                            In specific, it certainly can be true. That is, while I choose my daughter's public school over some of my local private choices for various reasons, there's no question that she'd have benefitted dramatically more by going to a school like Sidwell Friends.

                            Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                            by elfling on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 11:59:10 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  but at best (0+ / 0-)

                            my generalization according to your study is null and void but at the same time yours is too.

                            Being honest with both myself and you, all I have on this topic is my experiences. I have not really if ever looked for any evidence on private vs public but my experiences especially in a public university then a private one was frankly jarring.

                          •  At the parent level, the individual school (0+ / 0-)

                            is what matters, not whether the particular example is public or private. And there are many factors that go into that decision. I do not fault any parent who chooses a private school for their particular child and neighborhood and situation. I do stress to people that they don't know what a school is like until and unless they go inside and meet actual people who are part of a school.

                            At the policy level, there is a theory that privatizing schools per se is an appropriate and successful strategy to make schools better without spending any additional money. This theory, when studied across populations, appears to be false. To the extent that private schools have any advantage, it is when they spend more money, choose the easiest kids to educate, and elect not to educate the the more difficult kids.

                            At the policy level, that's where the generalization is in play. And I would say it is a failure. Handing school campuses over to private operators neither saves money nor improves outcomes.

                            For our mainline education system, IMHO we are best served by schools that are controlled by community-elected boards and operate as public institutions.

                            Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                            by elfling on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 12:42:01 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  if I coudl (0+ / 0-)

                            I'd nationalize schooling and make it publically for sure but mostly I'm arguing with the system as it is, not how i wish it was

          •  My answer is political expediency (4+ / 0-)

            The President is a politician. Democratic politicians - Blanchard, Clinton, Granholm - have been pandering for years. They say one thing to educators and their organizations and quite another to the public.

            FWIW, the Republicans don't even pander to educators. Their contempt for us is quite open.

            A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

            by slatsg on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 07:18:20 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  It would seem that way (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        shaharazade

        after all, the direction the Dems have been drifting the past few decades, their electoral prospects too depend on an ill-educated electorate

  •  Good diary. (16+ / 0-)

    I think hiring more teachers and lowering the teacher/student ratio has to be the first thing done to improve education.
    Then there's probably lots we can do if we can put our heads together and do them.
    In order to do that, we have to get Wall Street out of our schools and our lives.

    You can't make this stuff up.

    by David54 on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 10:55:55 PM PDT

    •  I wish teachers had (5+ / 0-)

      more lee-way to teach. Testing is a nightmare that leads to teaching to the test. That doesn't get a child what s/he needs.

      Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. Throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. --Mark Twain

      by Debby on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 06:17:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And teaching to the test gets results (7+ / 0-)

        I taught Remedial Algebra (called Algebra 1A), basically solving and graphing linear equations. I faced a moral dilemma, because I truly believe my kids needed the problem solving skills afforded by a strong Algebra education, but did they need them more than a diploma? Without a passing FCAT score, a student cannot earn a diploma.

        Once you realize that all standardized tests are the same and that the same tricks will work on any of them, it becomes easy to work backwards and employ other tricks to eliminate wrong answers and increase the probability of selecting correct answers.

        My students passed at a rate 10% higher than that of any other class. I'm not sorry for what I did. I helped my kids move on to successful careers in many cases (HVAC technician is steady, high paying work in Florida). I helped my school earn a passing grade from the state and extra state funding. (That always struck me as foolish. They give bonus money to the high performing schools when the failing schools need it more.)

        Let me reiterate. I'm not disagreeing with you. I was way happier when I was teaching higher levels and the state tests were already out of the way. I'm just saying that linking pay to these silly tests is only going to lead to people gaming the system. Maybe I'll open a consulting firm and teach teachers for a percentage of their soon to be millions of dollars in bonuses.

        Wait, what? The bonus is 600 bucks? God, let them keep it.

        (When my school went from a D to a B, each teacher got a check for about $630.)

        •  Our "beating the odds" charter schools (8+ / 0-)

          In Minnesota, where we have had charter schools and universal choice for 20+ years, we like to beat our chest about "beating the odds" charter schools.

          The biggest most fabulous charter school does have good math and reading sores for tough, tough populations, and I give them credit. However, they literally get 0% on the science test.  What else gets sacrificed in order to improve on two areas?

          When you focus solely on financial improvement in educational goals you limit true human potential. ---Paraphrased from W.E.B. DuBois

          •  "literally 0%" ? What does that even mean? (0+ / 0-)

            What school are you talking about , and what does "0%" even mean?     None of there students got a single answer right on the science tests?    None of their students are better than anyone else anywhere?

            Your  claims sound objective, but I want to check them out.

            0% is a pretty low bar.  

            What is the name of this school, and where are these statistics shown?

            Religion gives men the strength to do what should not be done.

            by bobtmn on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 05:11:37 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  600 bucks? BullShit!! (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          progressivist

          Merit pay narrows the curriculum and forces teachers to teach to the test. Children's comprehensive educational experiences suffer as a result. Merit pay is FUBAR....

          Educational experience based on non-consensual behaviorism is authoritarian mind control.

          by semioticjim on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 08:15:15 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  The current system does NOT work (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ban nock, Jerry J, RainyDay

    Having survived dealing with the public education system through HS, and with a half dozen relatives and friends teaching, it's clear that the current system does NOT work .
    It rewards length of service and 'racking up additional credits' - which may or may not have anything to do with improving teaching and results.  Once a teacher has tenure, it is near impossible to hold them accountable for poor performance and get rid of them.

    Being told that a teacher is teaching a given class (if 'teaching' is the term for showing videos and little else) because 'It is where they can do the least amount of damage' is horrifying - and real.  MY oldest's health teacher was a waste of time and effort - showing unrelated movies to take up class - a class kids HAD to take though apparently the content was NOT mandated.

    I've seen teachers who DISCOURAGED kids from trying harder books in elem school, others who 'forgot' to teach the science and social studies components of the year.  

    I've seen dedicated and amazing younger teachers fail to get tenure or leave for better districts while older non-performing ones stay on and wait out retirement.

    Real 'professionals' do not seek refuge in rules granting them near permanent employment - I never had such protection and nobody I know in any other professional field has it.

    In one case I saw a teacher who quite obviously started doing as little as possible as soon as they got tenure.  

    When there are layoffs, seniority rules - younger talented teachers are sacrificed to keep older nones regardless of their performance.

    Being blunt, I have a sil who took up teaching BECAUSE it was 'less work' than  the fast track management program they were in.  They wanted 'summers off' and shorter hours.  

    Another friend worked in NYC - was a great teacher in a mediocre school and was a real benefit - working with various after school programs and clubs.  She was laid off and replaced with an older more senior teacher who did none of what she did.

    I do NOT believe in the focus on tests and such but there seems to be NO relationship at all to actual performance right now in teaching.  

    WORSE. schools seem to have developed layer upon layer of UNNEEDED administrative staff - at the expense of spending funds on direct instruction.

    Some department heads are great and do a good job coordinating teachers and developing curriculum but others seem to be stuck in such spots simply to get them out of a classroom.

    My oldest graduated at the top of his class IN SPITE of some teachers - ever have to go in and show a teacher that THEY were wrong and your kid was right, apparently knowing far more than they did?  

    We faced administrators who were incompetent (Scheduling is a recurring issue - with the school system dealing with the few who pay attention and DO make a fuss while too many kids are left out of classes or put in the wrong ones but their parents don't notice )   Our youngest - a junior - for the first time - has all 'good' teachers. In the past there was always ONE who was a 'joke'   And if you don't think that the kids don't know all this.....     they know who's good - and WANT those teachers (and respect them) while they know who's bad - those teachers only hurt the profession and damage its image.

    Life isn't fair but you should try to leave it fairer than you found it.

    by xrepub on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 02:25:19 AM PDT

    •  how sanctimonious (12+ / 0-)

      And condescending can you get? The teachers I've had the pleasure to work with are not only competent, but compassionate and hard working. Lately (and this has not been usual in the past) the new teachers are the ones who feel they don't need to work for their pay. You seem to take the word of your kids as gospel, most parents would take it with a grain of salt, and chalk it up to whiny kid syndrome. Anyone who thinks teaching is less work, btw, is not doing their job, and should be put in the category you so sneeringly put most teachers.

      “The genius of our ruling class is that it has kept a majority of the people from ever questioning the inequity of a system where most people drudge along paying heavy taxes for which they get nothing in return.” - Gore Vidal R.I.P

      by eashep on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 03:02:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yes, I admit it (17+ / 0-)

      I am a self-centered, selfish, lazy incompetent who cares only for money and having the summers off.

      Let's compare education with other professions.

      Health care. Rated as low as 37th in the world. We have the best health care that money an buy. Unfortunately more and more people can't afford it and are falling through the cracks.

      The justice system. We're number one - in incarceration. Consistently. The system is a game. It isn't working and yet we continue to do more of the same. Again, we provide the best justice that money can buy.

      Business. Educators are continually told that we should run education like a business. Are they referring to the system that has produced extremes in wealth, outsourced work,  created the worst economic crisis in decades, where there is little accountability, and where business leaders are rewarded despite the dismal record? That's the system we should emulate? What a joke.

      As an educator, I will be happy to put our record against the records of those three professions.

      A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

      by slatsg on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 03:47:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And you would lose (0+ / 0-)

        Health care - When half of the patients assigned to a nurse die of infection, he/she gets fired.  Half your kids do not read up to grade level, and you get a raise and guaranteed job.

        Business - any professional that still has a job in this economy is working his/her ass off just to keep it.  The successful ones are working evenings and weekends, and coming up with new ideas, methods and procedures to make their companies more efficient and profitable.  Teachers?  They go on strike like here in Chicago because how dare the public want them to be accountable.. and how dare the public not be satisfied that only 40% of their kids even graduate?

        Your record? Your record is the report card those kids are taking home.  The collective record of teachers in this country is abysmal.

      •  Preach on! (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        slatsg, ladybug53, caul

        Not to mention outside of our impoverished schools, US schools are still considered the best in the world.

        I take political action every day. I teach.

        by jbfunk on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 06:27:57 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  The places where the current system doesn't (10+ / 0-)

      work almost entirely are places in dire social economic straits.

      In places where median family income is above average it is very difficult to find a completely dysfunctional public school district.

      The point being, factors beyond the schools themselves and how they are run are largely responsible for the perceived and actual success of the schools

      •  Poverty. The cause that no one wants to address. (10+ / 0-)

        We're happy to spend millions on everything but the cause of failing schools.   Can anyone show me a failing school, hell even a below average school in a school district with <10% in living in poverty?

        Until we address that issues that poverty creates for children, all this other "reform" is just a waste of time and money simply because it will only create anecdotal success leaving room for more "reform".

        "Wall Street expertise, an industry in which anything not explicitly illegal is fair game, and the illegal things are fair game too if you think you won't get caught." — Hunter

        by Back In Blue on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 08:18:19 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Most (9+ / 0-)

      Of your complaintsare about the system and the bureacracy yet your predrawn conclusion is teachers are at fault.  You then present anecdotal evidence of select poor teachers and "people you know" to paint broad brush strokes.  Your children clearly had good teachers as well.  You do realize that no matter what system is implemented, there will be some teachers who are not as good.  That is true of every profession.  Finally I don't think you fully comprehend what has happened to education the past 10 years in regards to all of the education reform that has been applied in the classroom.  High School teachers are essentially being forced to turn our classrooms into elementary classrooms.  Elementary teachers are being forced to abandon teaching basic skills such as number facts and grammar in the name of crackpot intructional methods that do very little students.  We as teachers know these are bad for the students but are powerless to question them.  So dont lecture me or other teachers about bad teachers when I and thousands of other teachers are being forced to use poor teaching methods and faulty pedagogy.  

      I take political action every day. I teach.

      by jbfunk on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 06:26:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Complete and Utter Crap! (6+ / 0-)
      Once a teacher has tenure, it is near impossible to hold them accountable for poor performance and get rid of them.
      This is complete crap.  Any incompetent teacher can be removed from the classroom within a year (or two at most) IF the administrators do their damn job documenting and attempting to remediate the problem.

      Tenure/unions don't guarantee employment - they just guarantee due process rights, ensuring that administrators can't summarily fire you without justification.

      Show me any "bad" teacher who has been around forever, and I'll show you a whole chain of administrators who haven't done their job in improving or moving them out.

      That's what you get when admins typically move to a new school every 3-5 years as they scramble up the district ladder with no accountability for all the poor tenure and evaluation decisions they've left behind them.

      But thanks for sharing that right-wing talking point.

      •  Minor addition in your post (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        caul, maf1029, elfling

        You can either show them that chain of administrators or you can show them the bad teacher's winning record as a varsity football or boys basketball coach.

        Way more powerful than tenure in our high schools. The bad teachers I saw in 16 years of teaching were all varsity head coaches of those two marquee sports.

        One step to change is to scale back the importance of sports in our high schools.  

    •  Despite your anecdotes... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      caul, maf1029, elfling

      Many of the rest of us have matching anecdotes to show that 'the current system works just fine'... for many of us.  I had many great teachers, admins who cared, and schools that did good jobs, in spite of aging facilities.

      The reality is that there are some crappy schools and some crappy admins and some crappy teachers, just as there are crappy professionals in all fields, and crappy workplaces in all fields, and that to impose one size fits all 'reform' on everyone to try and improve the bad ones like you encountered will end up making most of the rest worse.

    •  I am sorry your experiences have been so (0+ / 0-)

      difficult.

      One thing to understand is that teachers in every district have a different contract, one negotiated by the teachers in that district, the superintendent, and the school board. All parties must consent to it. The school board is elected and is the voice of the community.

      Thus, not all districts have the difficulties and issues you describe.

      If the schools in your community are in this much distress, there are avenues to change them, starting with attendance at the local school board meetings. Board members notice when people come, and more so if they make thoughtful comments.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 09:45:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  One problem I have with "merit pay",,, (9+ / 0-)

    is that it puts a lot of power in the hands of those making the class roster. For instance, in a school with half a dozen classes of the same grade level if I can pick my students, I can guarantee results. School administrators can reward friends and punish those they don't like.

    "Remember, Republican economic policies quadrupled the debt before I took office and doubled it after I left. We simply can't afford to double-down on trickle-down." Bill Clinton

    by irate on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 04:00:17 AM PDT

    •  In the school my kids go to parents can choose (0+ / 0-)

      which teacher they go to. Maybe merit pay will help kids and parents help good teachers get more money.

      How big is your personal carbon footprint?

      by ban nock on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 04:31:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  What happens (8+ / 0-)

        When one teacher has 40 students and the other has 3?  BTW have you ever read Malcom Gladwell's study about how people rate good doctors?  He discovered that people dont actually rate doctors on merit, competence, ablity etc.  The doctors people rated as the "best" were the most friendly.  And thats with a profession that can be measured for performance.  There is no way to measure teaching yet and no way to accurately evaluate teachers.  Science cannot yet explain or quantify how people learn or how people teach.  

        I take political action every day. I teach.

        by jbfunk on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 06:35:23 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Gladwell is great on a lot of things. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          caul, maf1029

          Gladwell.com: Outliers excerpt

          I also found his discussion of age maturity, cutoff dates, and student achievement to be informative.

          -7.75 -4.67

          "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

          There are no Christians in foxholes.

          by Odysseus on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 07:34:42 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Not enough parents know or care which class their (0+ / 0-)

          kids go to. So one class has most of the kids with involved parents and the principal never lets the attendance become more than two students lopsided. Everyone knows who the good teachers are, students, principals, other teachers, parents, everyone knows, it's no secret.

          Malcom Gladwell sounds like a piece of work. No doubt he'd say I have no ability to rate his work either. When we can weed docs and teachers for things like incompetence, drug addiction, total lack of social skills, laziness, stupidity, meanness, etc., we'll have better medical care and schools.

          How big is your personal carbon footprint?

          by ban nock on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 07:58:05 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  People (5+ / 0-)

            don't always know who the good teachers are.  That's the whole point.  We've all had a bad teacher at one time or another just as we've encountered a bad dentist, incompetent lawyer, lazy carpenter, or miserable financial planner.  That's life.  Targeting and vilifying an entire profession is a witch hunt, not education reform.  BTW we don't have bad doctors in this society, we have insurance companies forcing good doctors to make bad choices in the name of profit.  And if we keep beating up the teaching profession and blaming it for our schools collapsing, we'll soon have and education system driven by corporations' quarterly reports, not good pedagogy.  The root cause of poor schools is generational poverty, and poorly funded schools.  

            I take political action every day. I teach.

            by jbfunk on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 08:21:49 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  There are many things that any parent with a (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jerry J, bobtmn, caul

    child in public schools knows, and that's why education is going through such major change.

    As a parent I reject the idea that horrid teachers are kept on at the top of the pay scale while great teachers are paid the same, or even much less. "Professional" have no more nor less reason to be incentivised with higher pay than anyone else. Until we can find a way to ease out those teachers that never should have taken up the work in the first place, and until we start seeing kids with the same basic sets of skills we need standardized testing and an end to tenure.

    My 9 year old said the other day that the worst thing about knowing his old teacher was still there was knowing that she was doing the same stuff to a whole new class of kids. Not only incentives for good work but docking pay for bad work. Ratings by parents and kids.

    How big is your personal carbon footprint?

    by ban nock on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 04:30:06 AM PDT

    •  How (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      scarvegas

      Do we ease out bad doctors, lawyers, construction workers, computer programmers, engineers...oh wait we don't.  I do agree that excellent young teachers should be rewarded with faster pay increases, but again how will the teachers be evaluated?  No current system works.  

      I take political action every day. I teach.

      by jbfunk on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 06:41:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  We fire them, that's out in the real world. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bobtmn, caul, RainyDay

        Docs also lead a protected life shielded by secrecy with no public info to compare success or costs.

        Lawyers get no business if they are bad.

        Construction workers are just run off the job. Computer programmers are never hired permanently or are the fist let go.

        Let the principals evaluate teachers, give students and parents an evaluation form at the end of the year too. Principals should make the decision though, just like with every other job. If need be jobs can be protected by doing other valuable work in janitorial, food service, or as teachers aids.

        How big is your personal carbon footprint?

        by ban nock on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 08:02:57 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Every tried to fire someone in corporate america? (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jbfunk, scarvegas, maf1029, elfling

          It only happens when someone does something egregious, like assaulting a co-worker, viewing porn on their company computer, or stealing from the company.   In all other cases you will have to build a case against someone in order to fire them.  Why is that?  Employment lawsuits.

          My wife and I together have over 40 years experience in corporate America in positions where were managed other people.  Neither of us was ever able to fire anyone even though we've had plenty of people who are far worse than any teacher I've ever encountered in 15 years of our kids in school—and our kids have gone to NYC, Stamford (city of 120,000) and Wilton CT (18,000) public schools.  I've seen a lot.

          In order to get rid of someone we had to come up with creative methods.  Most of the time, we tried to do it with the best intentions of helping the person.  I helped on of my designers realize he was on a path to misery because he just didn't want to do restricted in-house corporate design work. I encouraged him to go out and find a job at a design studio or agency.  He did and was very successful. I still see him a few times a year for coffee or whatever.

          Other times, there's nothing you can do because the person just doesn't care.  I had a person who was protected by another manager (he reported to both of us).  I was never able to do anything about it.  The other manager protected him out of loyalty, but even he knew he was doing as little as possible and it was simply unfair to the others.  In the end, sometimes lay-offs are simply ways to purge.

          The real world isn't as simple as you present it and neither is teaching.  No school is full of 100% amazing teachers anymore than any business is 100% amazing workers.  If there were enough bad teachers to ruin a child's education, then you are in a very bad school system.

          "Wall Street expertise, an industry in which anything not explicitly illegal is fair game, and the illegal things are fair game too if you think you won't get caught." — Hunter

          by Back In Blue on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 08:42:18 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Good administrators similarly (0+ / 0-)

            use the "counseling out" strategy to remove a lot of ill-fitting teachers. People will cite the low number of teachers "fired" as evidence that you can't remove a bad teacher but in fact nearly everyone who leaves a job resigns - just as is typical in the private sector. Those resignations are not always out of the blue from the employee, but are often the result of a specific effort on the part of an administrator.

            Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

            by elfling on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 09:54:38 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Let principals evaluate teachers? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          scarvegas, maf1029

          You undersatnd that far too often the worst of teachers become principals.  Try having some "real world" conversations with teachers and ask them about their administrations. From principals all the way up to superintendents, school administrations are one of the biggest problems with education, not teachers.  BTW if you have a good principal at your school you are very fortunate, and I am sincerely happy for you and your children.  

          I take political action every day. I teach.

          by jbfunk on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 09:06:26 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Inexperience, too. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            jbfunk, maf1029

            It only took four years in the classroom to match the teaching experience of every principal I worked for. Having a person who taught math for four years and became a teacher only because it was the best avenue to be a football coach evaluate how I taught writing was a complete joke.

            Administration is in deeper need of reform than teaching.

          •  Great principals and great superintendents (0+ / 0-)

            are key to strong school systems, no doubt. A good principal gets the most from the staff and attracts better staff. A sucky principal can destroy a school in no time.

            In our district, interview panels for a new staff member always try to include at least one member of the community. (When we interview for high school principals, we involve students as well. Having a few students give a prospective principal a tour of the campus with no other adults is useful too.) Don't let them settle for someone terrible.

            Get involved. Go to your school board meetings. Attend site council meetings at the school, if your school has such a thing. If your district doesn't involve the community in interviews, ask them why not. If your district is making bad hiring decisions, make your concerns known to the Board of Education. That's what they're for, to direct the school system and to ensure it is populated with high quality people.

            Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

            by elfling on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 10:00:26 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  the problem with education in the us is we (5+ / 0-)

    ignore what other countries who are more successful in educating their children do, & insist on reinventing the wheel whenever we attempt to "reform" education.

    it's like the paradoxes of zeno -- we make each step in the process so difficult, that nothing is ever achieved:  we can't do x b/c of y, & y is impossible to accomplish without z, which can't be realized until x & y are.

    it's a lot like the healthcare dilemma -- look at what works in other countries & copy that instead of wasting time & money on the flavor-of-the-month in reform ideas.

  •  Do you realize how bad it sounds for teachers (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jerry J, Adam AZ, Sparhawk

    to say, "please don't measure my performance?"  Or, "compensate me only on seniority?"

    Your references are highly selective.  (e.g., Teacher Incentives and Incentive Pay.  The tip-off on the weakness of your argument is your comment that "I'll just have to take her word for it" that 99% of teachers are effective.  Parents and taxpayers aren't willing to just take your word for it.

    I am a professional.  For years, I was managing partner of a law firm.  The idea that incentive pay doesn't motivate professionals is pure bunk.  It's one of the principal motivators.  It changes behavior, which is why we must be careful about what it is we are motivating people to do.  And that's why the evidence-based approach of the DOE is so important.

    Diaries like this one play right into the narrative that teachers don't want to be held accountable for performance, and that for them job security is more important than job effectiveness.  You are hurting your own cause, and you are fighting a losing battle.  44 states have changed their laws in response to the President's "Race to the Top" requirements (states being motivated by money, too!).  Work with the reformers or be left in the dust.

    •  Watch the short video I provided (4+ / 0-)

      You don't get human motivation. My comment on "I'll just take your word for it" was tongue in cheek because the person saying it,if you followed the link, is a teacher bashing Rheeformer trying to convince us they respect teachers.

    •  No one even implied don't evaluate me (11+ / 0-)

      That's the lying Rheeformer teacher union basher in you speaking, not teachers. Come watch me teach every day. Pop in at any moment, unnanounced. come on the fiRst day. Come on the last.  Evaluate me. Critique me. Offer me ways to get better.

      Because I don't want your destructive evaluation does not imply I am afraid of being evaluated. I welcome it. Whyndomyou say obvious lies about good teachers?

      •  I've felt the biggest mistake Teacher Unions have (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gramofsam1, Odysseus, caul, RainyDay

        made (not all have made this mistake but most have) is that we haven't offered up our own plans for comprehensive evaluations.  Instead we have crouched down defensively and attacked those who have called for them.  By doing this we have ceded the opportunity to define what comprehensive evaluations mean.  And thus, we get evals heavily (if not exclusively) based on standardized tests (ST) b/c they are the preference of politicians do to their easy of delivery and their seemingly objective and empirical nature.  There are examples of teacher unions going to the table with an eval plan of their own and getting a more balanced system (Mass is a good state wide example).  ST are still part of the equation (they will not be going away), but they are only a small part.

        •  You should read up on the PAR union program (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Adam AZ, caul, maf1029, elfling

          Pass it along to your union. It is the program we used and highly regarded. Peer Assistance and Review. Many unions are solution driven.

        •  One of the things to watch out for (0+ / 0-)

          is that some of the formalized rubrics for evaluation are so prescriptive that they are not working out well. You need a good person doing the evaluations and you need to give them the freedom to tailor them to the staff member. Evaluations really need to be set up as mentoring and professional development rather than as some sort of adversarial situation.

          I really want principals to pop in on classes unannounced all the time to get a bead on what is happening, rather than having the only source of an eval being the formal rubric that can only be done once a blue moon because of the time involved.

          Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

          by elfling on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 10:06:03 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Now that makes sense. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        caul, maf1029, elfling

        And it helps to clarify the argument, which is not about whether or not to evaluate, but how best to do it.

        I always read these education diaries with my daughter in mind.  She taught public school and is now a professor of education, and very passionate about quality in education.
        She would absolutely agree that evaluation is necessary- she saw too many bad teachers coast for too many years.  And she would applaud your system of in-class, real-life, unannounced  evaluation as being the meaningful way to do it.  

         

    •  Here we go again... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ladybug53, caul, maf1029, elfling

      You run a law firm.  Have you ever taught or worked in a school?  Do you really want your children's teachers competing with each other as lawyers do in the typical firm?  Law firms tend to be extremely stressful, isolated, competitive environments where the is a lack of cooperation, a high level of distrust between colleagues and people jokeying for bonuses, promotions and the chance at making partner.  Once a partner the single focus of every partner is bringing in money.  Is that really the environment you want for your children's education?  Do you want teachers obsessed with generating money and tryng to beat put other teachers for bonuses or focusing on educating your children?  What if your child has to teachers who are competing with each other and are actually trying to sabotage each other's classrooms in the name of a bonus or yuor child gets stuck in the class of lowered skilled students so another teacher can get a bonus at the end pf the year with the class of advanced students.  Do you really want that kind of environment in schools?  Can you imagine subjecting 5 year olds to that kind of classroom?

      I take political action every day. I teach.

      by jbfunk on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 06:55:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Re (0+ / 0-)
        Have you ever taught or worked in a school?  Do you really want your children's teachers competing with each other as lawyers do in the typical firm?  Law firms tend to be extremely stressful, isolated, competitive environments where the is a lack of cooperation, a high level of distrust between colleagues and people jokeying for bonuses, promotions and the chance at making partner.  Once a partner the single focus of every partner is bringing in money.
        Have you ever worked at a law firm?

        (-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 Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 07:27:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  My (6+ / 0-)

          girlfriend interned at one of the largest and most prestigious firms in NYC after her 2nd year of law school and was eventually offed a job. She currently works in another large prestigious firm in a major US city.  I hear about law firm life every night before bed, because of course she's still working at dinner time : )  

          Are you familiar with the book Proceed With Caution by William Keates, Esq.?  BTW are you also aware that as a profession, lawyers have the highest rate of suicide of any profession in the United States?  Not saying it is a bad profession, but to start equating how a law practice is run with education reform is, like much of education reform, misguided, and betrays a certain ignorance for what education is and what makes a classroom successful.  

          Finally as part of your "law firm model"  I expect you plan on paying teachers by the hour at a minimum of $75 per hour, and let teachers charge billable hours down to 5 minute increments to parents for any instruction provided outside of class as well any consulting that takes place through email and or phone communication. Expect in wealthier suburban schools to pay 2-3x the rate listed above.  

          In each parent contract, teachers will be compensated additional agreed upon payments for children who misbehave in class, don't do homework, or don't come to school having been fed breakfast.  

          Parents will receive monthly billing statements from every teacher their child has has in school.  Finally at anytime the teacher reserves the right to dismiss the child from class and terminate the contract if the child does not perform up to standards set by the school or demonstrate adequate progress in the curriculum.  

          The parent after all is responsible for the actions of the child and teachers, driven by financial incentives, will be working for year end bonuses and will justifiably only want students who can succeed.        

          I take political action every day. I teach.

          by jbfunk on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 08:09:24 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  And how about the clothing I stockpile in my (7+ / 0-)

            office for the children - all types, including shoes and socks for when kids come in with the bottoms falling off, not just pants and underwear for"accidents," and the coats, mittens and hats for winter.

            Or the food sacks (250+) I give out Fridays that come from the local food bank for those homes where there isn't enough to eat.

            And the glasses our school has paid for, when we just couldn't wait for the long long process for the paperwork to get through to get help from the Lions Club because glasses were needed right NOW?

            Can we factor that in somehow to the payments?

            And children not learning perfectly under the current system are the fault of the teachers HOW?

    •  Maybe money is a motivator for lawyers (7+ / 0-)
      I am a professional.  For years, I was managing partner of a law firm.  The idea that incentive pay doesn't motivate professionals is pure bunk.  It's one of the principal motivators.
      How did you evaluate your lawyers? On their wins? The amount of their settlements earned? Billable hours?

      Seems to me to play into the stereotype that lawyers are just in it for the dollars and don't really care about the law.

      See how easy it is to play this game?

      Imagination is more important than knowledge. Albert Einstein

      by michael in chicago on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 07:13:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  link (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    slatsg, caul

    You need to edit your link to http://mnprogressiveproject.com

    Cogent diary.

  •  As the recipient of such cash (9+ / 0-)

    I can say that  it had no effect one way or another on how I taught. In fact, I had no idea what I had done right since it was based on standardized tests and that particular year, my students did better than comparable groups etc. But I had not taught them any differently than those I taught in other years who did not produce cash rewards.

    There was no evaluation of teaching practices. No one visited my classroom or interviewed me or my students in any part of the process- and that's the way it 's usually done because relying on test data is a lot easier and a lot harder to challenge.

    I agree with the points made in this diary. Obama may have good intentions but these millions will have no effect other than to spread a little extra money around among teachers. He may as well give it out randomly and it will have just as much impact.

    If my soldiers were to begin to think, not one would remain in the ranks. -Frederick the Great

    by Valatius on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 06:24:34 AM PDT

    •  Re (0+ / 0-)
      There was no evaluation of teaching practices. No one visited my classroom or interviewed me or my students in any part of the process- and that's the way it 's usually done because relying on test data is a lot easier and a lot harder to challenge.
      The whole point is that teaching practices are irrelevant. What is relevant is the data that shows that your students learned from you.

      (-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 Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 07:30:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not really. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        caul, maf1029, elfling

        Since it says nothing about whether your students were interested in learning from you in the first place.

        Give me a student who wants to learn, he will.  Give me one who could care less, he won't.  I've seen those students, hell, I've been that student, depending upon the class.

        •  Re (0+ / 0-)
          Since it says nothing about whether your students were interested in learning from you in the first place.
          So, motivating your students should not be part of teacher evaluation?

          A teacher that makes students want to learn (all other things being equal) to me is a better teacher that doesn't or can't.

          (-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 Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 02:34:43 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  And how, exactly, do you quantify that? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            caul, maf1029

            Your arguments are getting rather ridiculously circular.

            •  You quantify it with test score improvement (0+ / 0-)

              (-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 Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 07:10:15 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  You're going quantify student motivation, and how (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                caul, maf1029

                a particular teacher was responsible for that motivation, via test score improvement?

                Are you high?

                •  Test scores... (0+ / 0-)

                  ..quantify whether a student understands or doesn't understand something.

                  Converting them from "doesn't understand" to "understands" might need actually teaching them the subject matter, or it might need motivating them to learn it, or maybe have other aspects that I can't think of right now.

                  (-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 Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 07:38:52 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  You're totally missing (or avoiding) the question. (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    maf1029
                    So, motivating your students should not be part of teacher evaluation?
                    You're not explaining how this evaluation of the teacher's ability to motivate the students can possibly be measured.

                    You're not even addressing the issue.

                    •  Re (0+ / 0-)
                      You're not explaining how this evaluation of the teacher's ability to motivate the students can possibly be measured.
                      Why would you bother measuring it?

                      The only metric that matters is whether the student understands the material. Motivation contributes to student learning (I think... though I could be wrong) so if teachers do a good job it will show up in test scores.

                      (-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 Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 09:17:17 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  So you'd give great scores to teachers (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Dr Erich Bloodaxe RN

                        fortunate to have kids who come in already knowing the material or whose students have parents who give excellent tutoring after the child received a confusing lesson in class.

                        Compare that to the teacher whose kids don't have a safe place to sleep at night and who have no quiet place to read, study, or do homework.

                        Obviously, teacher #1 is way better and teacher #2 should be fired.

                        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                        by elfling on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 10:16:08 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Re (0+ / 0-)
                          fortunate to have kids who come in already knowing the material or whose students have parents who give excellent tutoring after the child received a confusing lesson in class.
                          This is why you use value added analysis. Kids who already know the material don't help you, only ones who show improvement. Genius kids in your class don't really help you.
                          Compare that to the teacher whose kids don't have a safe place to sleep at night and who have no quiet place to read, study, or do homework.
                          This should all work itself out in the wash. Everyone should get a relatively even distribution of kids. Besides, for expert teachers this kind of kid might be more desirable since you can demonstrate much more progress than an average kid.
                          BTW, I am not 100% sold on value added analysis as the only method of evaluation, but certainly whether students actually learn course material or not is very important and must be be measured.

                          (-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 Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 07:29:02 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  The schools don't get an even distribution of kids (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Dr Erich Bloodaxe RN

                            so you can't expect individual teachers do.

                            Value-Added measures, as they have been done to date, do not measure the same material at the beginning and the end of the year. Typically they measure the kids' percentile at the end of one grade and compare them to the percentile at the end of the next.

                            In addition, that kind of analysis can only be used for:
                            - teachers in the classroom 5 years or more (to get a sample size of 100-125 kids)
                            - teachers in grades 3-6, where the kids have only one teacher all year but were old enough to be tested they year before.
                            - school systems where the same test has been given 5 years or more.

                            To get around these deficiencies, some school systems have reacted by evaluating kindergarteners with formalized rubrics (at the expense of instructional time with little or no benefit to the kids) and other strange contortions to try to try to come up with numeric scores to assign to every teacher. Most of these attempts to pursue numbers forget our first principle: to improve instruction and increase learning.

                            Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                            by elfling on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 10:12:00 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                      •  Your own post makes the argument that the ability (0+ / 0-)

                        to motivate students should be part of a teachers evaluation!

                        So, motivating your students should not be part of teacher evaluation?
                        A teacher that makes students want to learn (all other things being equal) to me is a better teacher that doesn't or can't.
                        If you want "motivating ability" to be part of a teacher's evaluation, you have to be able to measure it!

                        You are literally arguing against yourself!

                        What kind of credibility do you think you can possibly have at this point?

          •  Motivating students part of evaluation process? (0+ / 0-)

            How trite your response to children's lives outside the classroom. At a fundamental level,  non consensual learning experience tends to de-motivate significant numbers of children.

            Sparhawk, how many children have you taught in the public schools before?

            Vast numbers of educators spend their entire lives trying to minimize the impact of poverty or learning disabilities in children's educational experience, and you sit here and pontificate without understanding the wicked problem this poses on the educational process.

            Educational experience based on non-consensual behaviorism is authoritarian mind control.

            by semioticjim on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 05:10:55 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Re (0+ / 0-)
              Vast numbers of educators spend their entire lives trying to minimize the impact of poverty or learning disabilities in children's educational experience, and you sit here and pontificate without understanding the wicked problem this poses on the educational process.
              So is it your position that poor children cannot reasonably be taught math/reading/science/what have you, and that trying to do so or holding someone accountable for doing so is all a waste of time?

              (-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 Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 04:21:46 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  our local elementary has one class per grade (0+ / 0-)

        and a pretty steady population with relatively low turnover per class. All the teachers are veterans (and are gifted, fabulous individuals independent of their status as teachers). Thus, it's really easy to do a rough VAM-type look-see over the elementary grades.

        What do I see? Noise.

        You might expect to see a particular class always doing well on the tests, making a bump as it goes through the years. You don't, not really.

        You might expect to see a particular teacher always do well on math scores. You don't see that either.

        What you see is that one class nails the math in 3rd grade and bombs it in 5th, and another class bombs 3rd grade math and is extraordinary in 5th.

        What you see is that the little differences year to year that there might be in teaching are more influenced by a family moving in or out of the district, by when the STAR tests were given with respect to spring break, by whether any of the kids that year were disruptive, and even by the weather.

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 10:13:43 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Data driven education? WTF.... (0+ / 0-)

        Sparhawk still advocating for toxic high stakes test prep learning experiences....why do you think children disengage?

        Educational experience based on non-consensual behaviorism is authoritarian mind control.

        by semioticjim on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 05:00:52 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  IOW, why not run a school like a professional (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus, caul, maf1029

    sports team?  Load up the teacher's contracts with a gazillion bonuses for all kinds of things, and send them down to the minors (maybe an inner city school?) the moment their performance lags.

    It's worth a shot, I suppose!

  •  If a democrat isn't shooting at another democrat (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    maf1029

    this wouldn't be the country I know.

    Everyone Chill the fuck out! I got this - unknown but credited to Barack Obama

    by natedogg265 on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 06:34:54 AM PDT

  •  Great diary, thanks (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ladybug53, caul, maf1029, elfling

    I really appreciate this diary.  I could make comments all day long on the topics it touches on (many educators in my family, including me, and I have a long standing interest in educational issues and philosophy) but really what I want to say is LETS KEEP TALKING about these issues!

    Why?  Because Obama and Duncan et al don't seem to totally get what we are saying and they really, really need to be pushed into changing their policies on education.  It is people like us who can lead the way on this.  Well, everyone needs to lead the way, really... including the students!  

    Education reform -- healthy reform that makes sense and creates a better world -- is REALLY powerful and we need to become more active in this area.  

  •  Once Obama and Duncan again make wrong assumption (5+ / 0-)

    That the "product" and "group product dynamic" is all the exact same every year.

    They miss all of that. This is not assembly work. The factors and variables coming into the class any year impact the individual as well as collective group performance.

    To be penalized for so many factors out of the teachers control outside of the classroom that can and do impact test performance is just incorrect. Teachers cannot control what occurs outside of their classroom for the rest of the 17 hours their students are not in school.

    The Plutocratic States of America, the best government the top 1% and corporations can buy. We are the 99%-OWS.

    by emal on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 08:03:05 AM PDT

    •  Soundbites & scapegoats are easier than solutions (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dr Erich Bloodaxe RN, caul, maf1029, emal
      To be penalized for so many factors out of the teachers control outside of the classroom that can and do impact test performance is just incorrect. Teachers cannot control what occurs outside of their classroom for the rest of the 17 hours their students are not in school.
      Reformers love to spout off about how "teacher quality is the greatest factor in determining student success."  Of course, they conveniently leave out the fact that there are many other factors with a significantly larger impact on student achievement, such as poverty, parent education level, healthcare & nutrition, safe neighborhoods, etc.

      You say that many of those things are out of our control and can't be easily addressed?  Teachers would agree.  Every teacher I know is perfectly happy to be held accountable for regular use of effective, research-based teaching practices in their classroom.  You can even tell us what those practices are.  Just don't hold us responsible for all the factors in a child's life that we can't control by pretending that student test scores are the best measure of our teaching.

      Making my salary and even my employment dependent upon the scores of a random group of kids I get each year is demoralizing and will end up driving many good teachers from the classroom.  It is capricious and unmanageable. You're not rewarding me, you're playing Russian roulette with my career.

  •  Obama fails to think about how all children should (5+ / 0-)

    get to "play by the same rules." He always applies the yardstick about his children's own future when thinking about public policy, but not when it comes to the public's children's futures.

    Obama needs to stop imposing market values -- defund, reform, stigmatize, privatize -- on human capacity building. He and the 1% refuse to apply the same "standards" to their own children's teachers and schools for reasons they won't admit to. He and his rich cohorts don't force these so-called reform ideas on their own children, so they should stop putting "other people's children" on yet another treadmill of failure.

    Obama is feeding into states' greedy political folks who can't keep their fingers out of the tax honey pot of education money. Their excuse is teachers, but they need to LEAVE PUBLIC TEACHING PROFESSIONALS ALONE. Challenge and mastery work, coupled with larger purpose are at the core of teaching professionals -- not just in private, but in this nation's public schools.

  •  So why pay teachers anything? (5+ / 0-)

    I agree with the general thrust of the article (incentive pay is not shown to be effective) but you fall into a trap here that I grew up with.   People seem to expect teachers to want to teach just because they love kids -- other people's kids.   It is supposed to be a personal relationship so it is like your grandmother asking for money to babysit your kids.

    Teachers are professionals and should be compensated like professionals.  They do not, nor should they, love all the kids that they teach.   It is a damn hard job (my mom would leave at 7:00 and get home around 6:30 to cook dinner for her family) and teachers are not paid enough.  

    People forget that teachers have their own kids and families.   Believe it or not, teachers were once fired when they got married or pregnant (and my sister ran into that issue in teacher's college; she was well thought of until she told her advisor that she was pregnant, then it was back to the "you should stay home with the kid and let hubby be the breadwinner.)

  •  I'm on the school board in a unified district. (6+ / 0-)

    Been on it over 16 years.
    Your analysis is 100% absolutely correct.
    Our experience is that team teaching and collaboration are the most effective methods for moving students forward.

    Obama 2012, Hillary 2016, Michelle 2024

    by hideinplainsight on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 12:50:31 PM PDT

  •  Another Republican idea (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cocinero, caul, maf1029

    being promoted by Corporate Democrats.

  •  Alfie Kohn wrote a book about this (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    caul, Black Max, maf1029, elfling

    in 1993, Punished by Rewards.

    Drawing from hundreds of studies, Kohn demonstrates that people actually do inferior work when they are enticed with money, grades, or other incentives. Programs that use rewards to change people's behavior are similarly ineffective over the long run. Promising goodies to children for good behavior can never produce anything more than temporary obedience. In fact, the more we use artificial inducements to motivate people, the more they lose interest in what we're bribing them to do. Rewards turn play into work, and work into drudgery.
  •  Here we go again (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shaharazade, caul, maf1029

    Incentive pay is based on the unstated assumption that it's all about money, and everything starts and ends with the basic assumptions people use to run businesses.

    So do we really want to build a system based around the idea that teachers are only in it for the money? Because that's what it all comes down to.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 06:59:57 PM PDT

  •  "The Avengers is a much better metaphor..." (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Black Max, elfling

    I could recommend this diary just for that line.

    "Americans are 'on our knees in front of China for credit,' DeMint told the mostly conservative attendees feasting on fried rice and fortune cookies at Tony Chang's restaurant in the Chinatown section of D.C."

    by littlenomad on Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 08:01:32 PM PDT

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