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Elite opinions on education differ some from public opinion

For more than four decades and counting, the professional organization for educators, Phi Delta Kappa, has conducted an extensive annual survey of public attitudes towards education.

Given that my "day job" is as a secondary school teacher, I always check out the PDK poll (conducted by Gallup this past June) with a great deal of interest. This year, however, that level of interest was even further piqued, given the war on teachers being waged in GOP-controlled states across the country, and (to a lesser extent) in the traditional media.

Would the relentless teacher-bashing being offered up by Republican politicos, and their enablers in the media, actually move public opinion? As I wrote in March:

The question now becomes whether the GOP assault on teachers unions will be accepted by a voting public convinced of a crisis and willing to take dramatic measures in the name of a solution (whether the policies in question offer a solution is a topic for another day). In contrast, it may well be condemned as a drastic overreach for which the Republicans will pay a dear price politically down the line.

And, as the students begin to head back to school across the country, along comes the PDK/Gallup survey to offer us some clues to answering that question.

Unambiguous conclusions, however, are frustratingly difficult to come by here. There is little question that the relentless assault on public education by the GOP (and many in the press) has softened popular esteem for our public schools. However, the public is not nearly as panicked about the state of their schools as the media and political elites would apparently like us to believe.

However, the public embraces their local public schools, implying that the slackening public esteem for the schools nationally is based more on pessimistic public conversation than actual personal experience. Furthermore, even ceaseless union bashing, while it has hurt the standing of teachers unions in the public eye, have not led voters to prefer the approaches of their local politicians.

THE PUBLIC'S REPORT CARD: WHAT I SEE vs. WHAT I HEAR

One of the annual features of the PDK/Gallup education survey is the opportunity for respondents to offer a "traditional" letter grade to a number of facets of public education. In that trove of data, a very telling discrepancy can be found. Check out how the public views the public schools attended by their children, versus how they view American schools in general. In addition, compare those numbers to the results from 2007, which can be found in parentheses.

Students are often given the grades A, B, C, D, and Fail to denote the quality of their work. Suppose the public schools themselves in your community were graded in the same way. What grade would you give the public schools here — A, B, C, D, or Fail?

A or B: 51 (45)
D or Fail: 16 (19)

How about the public schools in the nation as a whole? What grade would you give the public schools nationally — A, B, C, D, or Fail?

A or B: 17 (16)
D or Fail: 30 (23)

Using the A, B, C, D, and Fail scale again, what grade would you give the school your oldest child attends?

A or B: 79 (67)
D or Fail: 4 (8)

Stunning. The closer Americans are to their public schools, the more they embrace them. Few public institutions can match the +75 favorability spread that public schools receive from those folks that have children in public schools. That figure, incidentally, also lays waste to the oft-repeated notion that there is a critical mass of parents out there frustrated by their hideous public schools. Only one-in-25 would offer a grade of "D" or "F" to their kid's school.

But the public esteem for local schools goes beyond the "be true to your school" pride often felt by parents. When non-parents are factored in (by asking about community public education), the approval marks remained quite robust (a +35 spread).

However, check out how mediocre our perceptions of public education in general become. Parents closest to the front offer 79% approval, but when asked about education in general, that figure drops to a paltry 17%. Furthermore, the "D/F" rate explodes from 4% up to 30%.

Part of this, no doubt, can be attributed to a better working knowledge of neighborhood schools than schools in other cities and states. But a big part of the puzzle has to be the relentlessly negative ways in which American public education are portrayed in both traditional media outlets and contemporary political debate.

The public seems to understand this, to an extent. Respondents, by a 68-29 margin, reported that they were more likely to hear "bad stories" about teachers in the news media, as opposed to "good stories." However, even if the public understands the diet of pessimism being offered to them, the numbers on the public perceptions of education hint strongly that the incessant negativity is extracting its pound of flesh.

LOVE THE TEACHER, HATE THE UNION?

A dichotomy that has long proved fascinating is the chasm people are eager to forge between "teachers" and "teachers unions." During a contract dispute early in my teaching career, I had a parent assure me that she adored her child's teachers, but she simply could not stand "the teachers union." The idea that a teachers union is made up solely of...y'know...teachers was a fact that was lost on her and myriad others.

This, clearly, is a chasm shared by a nation. A total of 71% of Americans have confidence in the teachers that occupy their public schools (versus just 27% that do not). That is unchanged from last year. However, public opinions of teachers unions have endured a modest-but-clear slide. A generation ago, 38% of Americans thought teachers unions hurt the quality of American public education. Today, that number is up to 47%.

However, before Republican politicos do a Snoopy Dance and rush to strip teachers of even more rights, there is a cautionary note in the data for the right wing. The number of Americans who say that unions have helped the quality of American public education has also incrementally increased (from 22% in 1976 to 26% today).

Furthermore, the PDK/Gallup people had the foresight to ask people who they sided with in the educational wars this year between (almost uniformly Republican) governors and teachers unions. The majority of Americans (52%) sided with the unions, versus just 44% who sided with the governors.

That result is somewhat surprising, and heartening. The assault on teachers unions has never been so fierce, and come from so many corners (most recently by Steven Brill). That voters still trust educators over their political foes either confirms that voters still have a reservoir of goodwill for teaching professionals, or confirms how unbelievably unpopular Republican governors are right now. Most likely, it is a little bit of both.

By and large, while it is but a single instrument of measurement, the data from the 2011 incarnation of the PDK/Gallup poll has to be pretty heartening for America's teachers. Most folks still consider it an honorable profession (two-thirds of Americans would want their children to become teachers, little changed from previous years). More Americans than ever understand that lack of funding is the biggest crisis facing American public schools. Support for publicly funded vouchers for public schools has cratered (down to 34%).

What this means is that those politicians who should have the backs of their public school teachers can feel empowered to repel the wide array of legislative measures currently seeking to take a sledgehammer to the professional rights of public school teachers.

For now, the public remains on their side.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I Could Never Be a Republican (19+ / 0-)

    Am I my brother’s keeper?  That’s the question, isn’t it?

    Many whose labors ended at gestation hold themselves to be self-made, for they never crumbled under any of the challenges they never faced.  For others of us, the troubles had only begun at gestation, yet somehow we still feel like frauds after having turned to see that from which we have emerged tired but unbroken.

    A person who has emerged despite the tides can never be as self-righteous as the person who has arrived with the tides.  Because she will have seen the tides’ victims on her journey, and she will have the humility to say, ‘There but for …

    Article:
    I Could Never Be a Republican

    Waging a "War on Ignorance" ... http://beeryblog.wordpress.com/

    by heycoachb on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 03:04:22 PM PDT

    •   Wit and wisdom! Wow! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rainmanjr

      "Many whose labors ended at gestation hold themselves to be self-made."  That just cracked me up.  And then you go on to develop your metaphor into an accurate and touching statement.  

      Your last paragraph made me think of the birth of Venus.  I guess she arrived with the tides.  She could be pretty heartless and self-righteous, so she might have been a Republican.

      Thanks for your good words.  

  •  The war on schools is not just being conducted (13+ / 0-)

    in Republican-controlled states.  Piling Race to the Top on top of No Child Left Behind is a category of warfare all its own.

    "In any event, it is safe to assume that the ends of capitalism will be as unprecedented as everything else about it has been." -- Gopal Balakrishnan

    by Cassiodorus on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 03:12:11 PM PDT

  •  I couldnt care less (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rainmanjr

    about public opinion on education. What matters is results, and in that the united states education system is completely failing.

    For about two generations now the united states has been unable to produce enough educated  individuals to fill vital roles in our society. Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) workers even now have next to no unemployment Microsoft Google Intel IBM Apple facebook etc simply can not find Americans who are qualified to higher.

    This situation is so bad hat we literary have to import a majority of our workforce from other nations to meet the absolute minimum for number of workers.

    These are not little minimum wage jobs which are being lost to non Americans. These are starting compensation 100k + careers.  

    •  What role does society play in this anything? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      drmah, Mostel26

      Does society have a role in this or is that strictly education's fault? What role has politician's played obviously they should be held accountrable but they keep getting elected back decades at a time.

      •  Everyone is to blame (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        eleaba, rainmanjr, Dube

        Yes everyone has responsibility in this failure.

        To fix the problem you need to accept responsibility for the problem.  However every entity is always running around yelling "its not our fault its someone else's "

        Society is to blame, politicians are to blame, parents are to blame, students are to blame, school administers are to blame and yes teachers are to blame.

        Everyone in the bunch needs to step up and admit their own shortcomings and FIX THEM.

        This is one of the few instances where its not best to just play politics. Our system is really bad and it is really costing us.

        •  Bad People In All Professions (14+ / 0-)

          Agreed. There are bad people in every professions. The children's poverty rate grew by 20% from 2000-2009.

          http://www.pbs.org/...

          That's a hell of a lot of kids and the teachers didn't make them poor. If you work in a school, and have a kid living in a homeless shelter or locked up, try to impress upon them how important it is that they should study harder. It's more difficult than you think.

          •  Exactly. (8+ / 0-)

            "The teachers didn't make them poor."

            I volunteered for several years at a school in which a significant number of children were homeless.  One year only three kids who graduated from sixth grade had started  first grade at that school.  The lack of continuity and the instability of their lives made it so difficult for them to succeed.

            I can't express enough admiration for the dedicated teachers and other staff members who often were the only responsible adults in these kids' lives.  (I'm not bashing the homeless.  Some parents had severe mental health issues caused or exacerbated by homelessness.  A lot of parents in this particular area used drugs and alcohol to numb themselves to the difficulties of their situations.  There were never more than five parents involved in the PTA, and the problem was with being houseless, not the neglect of their children.)

            So many teachers spent their own money on healthy snacks for the kids mid-morning and mid-afternoon.  (Try keeping the attention of a second-grader who had three taco chips and an orange soda for breakfast.)  So many teachers spent their own money on clothes for the kids, and bought them books - the very first books most of these kids had owned.  So many teachers worked each day to the point of exhaustion, because they cared about those kids.

        •  The problem is (7+ / 0-)

          educational reform has been jacked by people with a sinister agenda.  It's too late to say "its not best to just play politics".

          Light is seen through a small hole.

          by houyhnhnm on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 03:58:51 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Students and Parents (1+ / 2-)
          Recommended by:
          3goldens
          Hidden by:
          elfling, BYw

          The reality is, lazy students with poor genetics who fail to do their homework fail.
          As long as a teacher presents the information to be learnt, sets quizzes, assignments and homework and properly grades those, they have don their job.
          It is normal for some students to fail, that's the grading curve.
          This delusion that some how teachers can get past the genetic IQ gap and infuse knowledge by their presentation genius is stupid, in fact it's right wing stupid.
          Regardless if anything the anti-intellectual right say, IQ is a measurement of learning ability, the quality of the grades a teacher gets in their class will be down largely to the IQ level of those students, disaffected high IQ students will largely still get passing grades, the dumb low IQ spawn of the right wing will get low grades and seek to blame anyone but themselves.
          The reality is, it is all just political marketing to hide what is really going on, the theft of America by the rich and greedy.
          First it was law and order and the drug war.
          Then it was terrorists and their global threat.
          Now it's bad teachers and evil liberal intellectuals trying to take over the country.
          Why are schools failing across the country, greedy right wingers and their unwillingness to fund them properly. Local communities way out of their depth in education administration (which should be done at the state level only).

          •  the phrase "poor genetics" makes me cringe. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            elfling, rainmanjr, BYw

            also... some factual quibbles:

            1.  The people on the right are just as educated on average as the people on the left.  They're also just as "smart" if you think IQ is a reasonable measure.  Just because you and I don't like what they think doesn't mean they're not capable of thinking.  

            2. Being "smart" is very poorly correlated to academic achievement.  By far and away, the best predictor for whether a student will succeed academically is whether or not they attend a school alongside high SES families.  

          •  This is a really ugly ugly comment (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Be Skeptical, rainmanjr, cpresley, BYw

            The "genetic IQ gap" - with the implication that these aren't kids with diagnosed disorders but just kids with the wrong parents - is super creepy.

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

            by elfling on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 07:20:58 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Myopic at best (17+ / 0-)

      Unless you are an expert at identifying problems and misidentifying causes, I do not know how you could have gone more wrong in this post.

      Yes, the economy of the United States has structural problems. No, the schools and teachers of America are not the cause.

      The true cause of being "unable to produce," (which I disagree with but choose not to argue for the moment) more qualified engineers, scientists and technocrats for the corporations is the perception by students that the Americans (their fathers and grandfathers) who entered these positions in the 1940's through the 1990's were used as throw-away disposable tools to be discarded when they were ready to retire, or worse, when their expertise had been pulled from them to train cheaper workers, usually overseas.

      My students do not WANT to work in the corporate world. They see it as soul-destroying and part of a machine that pollutes, hates humanity, loves money, is willing and able to act with impunity towards its workers and its own government. They see the unhappiness of their own fathers and grandfathers and want no part of a system which treats people as disposable, and their products as part of a money stream, but landfill bound nonetheless.

      And I have to say, I sympathize. I had many opportunities to work in the Corporate world, but stayed with teaching because of the horrifying experiences which Private Business subjected my grandfather's generation to. Including, but not limited to, outsourcing en masse for bigger profits at the expense of America itself.

      No, there is no loyalty of an American or International Corporation toward its most essential resource. Its labor. That is the true cause of students voting with their feet toward entepeneurship or government careers. Corporations are usurous, and everyone knows it. Don't blame schools for your own failure. You can only make the problem worse by misidentifying the cause.

      P.S. The word is "hire," not "higher." You are welcome.

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

      by OregonOak on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 03:35:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  So (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        politicalget

        your argument is that omg Americans are soo principled that they are refusing to work for these evil corporate elites because they will be taken advantage of?

        Bull shit.

        These same Americans who are not going into valuable fields with labor shortages are the same people ending up working for the same companies are janitors, fast food service rep's and other low skill low pay employees. That is if they are lucky, if they are not lucky they end up unemployed and begging, hoping and willing to any position at all for the hope they they will be able to take care of their own.

        You are right corporate america does take advantage of the engineers etc. I fight that tooth and nail. But you know what? Its fucking stupid to suggest that corporate America does not take advantage of everyone.  With a STEM background you at least get health insurance and the ability to buy your own home and put your kids in college.

        That little bit about students voting with their feet is nonsense. You do realize you need to STEM trained to go into STEM positions within government or found your own technical company? Beyond that there are also massive shortages to technically able people for government positions.  Even more massive than the shortage for private sector technical trained people.

        Out there there are hundreds of thousands if not millions of people begging for jobs. Out there, there are an equal number of GOOD jobs either waiting to be filled or filled with what is not an American worker, but could have been.  This is a major failure of our education system. A good system would have connected and prepared the people for the jobs.  Btw these jobs are here. Paying many multiples what the average american earns per year. Its NOT exporting cheap labor to other nations.

        •  The math and science classes are available in (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          OregonOak, elfling, rainmanjr, BYw

          our schools.  Our middle school students are learning chemistry and physics at a level that I didn't have until I was in high school in the 1970's.  For example, they are figuring out valance electrons in 6th grade, drawing Bohr models in 7th, and balancing equations in 8th grade.  Our 9th grade son's science syllabus includes the Krebs cycle.  I could give similar examples in the other scientific fields, as well. (BTW the school also offers STEM Enrichment classes and a pretty incredible, competitive robotics program.)

          This is a public school.  

          The question is why are not more students taking full advantage of the educational opportunities that are available?  Here's the top 5 reasons why I see some of my students having trouble giving a damn about their education:

          #1  Parents are divorcing/ are divorced and using them as pawns/ step-parent issues. (This can often resolve itself over time, but it is hell for kids in the meantime.)
          2. Parents who are not there - (in jail, a father who just took off, they got dumped with grandparents ... and both parents vanished out of their lives)
          3. Parent(s) is a substance abuser ... with all the sadness and problems that introduces
          4.  Unstable finances/ living conditions - e.g. they've been in 5 schools in 3 years as they move around -- often spending a portion of that time functionally homeless.
          5.  They are getting hit or molested.  (Out of about 150 students, I usually have about 2-3% who miss school to go to court each year about this level of abuse.)

          Their lives are depressing/ dangerous/ unstable/ scary/ lonely ... and they are hurt, confused, sad and angry.  They are just trying to emotionally and physically survive.  Try getting a kid who is frightened, angry and pre-occupied about step-dad maybe getting drunk again tonight and slapping their mom around ... try getting them excited and willing to do that Algebra homework.  Frequently, flunking in school is about their only way to issue a call for help and/ or act out and get back at the adult world that is failing them!

          They don't have parents at home who ask them, "Is the homework done?"  "Good, now show it to me."  They don't have anyone at home to explain the difference between rational and irrational numbers, with examples.  The kids who are fortunate enough to live in stable, nuturing homes sit in the same math and science classrooms as these other students who are living in these private hells.  

          There is plenty of rigor and opportunity in our public schools.  IMO, we just have a really broken society which has broken a lot of people who'd do better if they could, but unfortunately, they can't, right now.  As a result, we have far too many broken-hearted children entering our schools each day ... unable to do much more than get through the day, let alone get excited and take advantage of the education being offered.

          Plutocracy (noun) Greek ploutokratia, from ploutos wealth; 1) government by the wealthy; 2) 21st c. U.S.A.; 3) 22nd c. The World

          by bkamr on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 05:33:29 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The problems (0+ / 0-)

            you just listed seem to be correctly listed as problems due to society.

            However the examples you picked highlight just what you are arguing (kinda a bit of circular logic)

            As I stated before I would agree there are many social problems with our educational system.

            There however are many examples of educational problems due to many other sources. You personally may not find them as exciting or as interesting but they are still there any playing a significant role dragging down the system.

            •  So un-drag the system for us (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              bkamr, rainmanjr, BYw

              You've got a lot of blame to go around here, but you're not giving us any fixes.

              I'll be willing to bet any solutions you suggest will have been begged for by teachers for years.

              You want more STEM ready graduates. Give us more labs. Let us teach real science without somebody's pastor running an ambush at a school board meeting. Let us demand students learn how to do simple math facts without a calculator instead of telling us that Johnny's IEP says he can use a calculator. Let us run a candidate for office in this nation without him being labeled an "egghead." Let our government pump tax dollars into research and innovation instead of giving tax breaks to capital gains and one might actually see our nation's best and brightest choose to go into the STEM fields as opposed to working in finance.

              •  I am here (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Mostel26

                I agree with you on most of those.

                But here is one many teachers will probably hate and some will like. We have limited funding for schools and limited time for students.

                We should cut funding for/time spend on  humanities/liberal arts and increase it math science and vocational classes.

                Here is another, stop protecting the shit teachers. Every teacher I know has some story about a horrible teacher down the hall who is just not good at their job, and are letting down the kids. The teachers know who they are but nothing id done about them. This is a failure by the teachers. Hell let them police themselves.

                We need to get rid of those bad teachers.

                Another one that we get mixed preference for from teachers. Is a national standard. Some like the idea some dont.

                Pay for performance. Will this cause teachers to teach to the test? Yes so what?

                •  rec'd for answering (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  elfling, rainmanjr

                  A few points:

                  stop protecting the shit teachers. Every teacher I know has some story about a horrible teacher down the hall who is just not good at their job, and are letting down the kids. The teachers know who they are but nothing id done about them. This is a failure by the teachers. Hell let them police themselves.

                  If you want teachers to police teachers, it works. Here is an example

                  We'd all do this

                  Pay for performance. Will this cause teachers to teach to the test? Yes so what?

                  Uh, no.

                  1) It doesn't work:

                  FAIL

                  and

                  2) Teaching to tests is poor education. You bring up STEM careers. Do we judge STEM workers based on bubble sheets or how they get their work done? You want all employees to be able to produce product. If you want me to teach students how to produce product, I can do that. I just need less students so I have time to assist in product development and can manage product assessment.

                  Finally:

                  We should cut funding for/time spend on  humanities/liberal arts and increase it math science and vocational classes.

                  I'll go 50% on here. Liberal arts/humanities allow folks to be literate, agile, detailed thinkers who can apply those critical thinking skills to many fields of study. But I'll agree that all students should be forced to take 4 years of science and 4 years of math to graduate HS. Too many schools let students get away with 3 in both.

                  •  . (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Mostel26

                    1) "And here’s what it quoted U.S. Education Department spokesman Peter Cunningham as saying:

                    “We know TAP and other reforms are hard work. We can’t expect immediate results. That’s why we’re committed to evaluating programs over the long term and identifying ones that deliver the results for children.”

                    Why is it, then, that education officials can recognize that reforms take a long time even though they are pushing states to undertake reforms right now that have no research base of success?"

                    Look Ill admit it could not work for whatever reason maybe I am wrong on that one but thats not my overall point. Any way to address that one point... The crux of that article indicates that the current method of evaluating teach performance was not very good. Not that the idea is a failure.

                    but to answer the articles question. Why should they do this now because it does not appear to be hurting and with further research and implementation perhaps it can be made to help.  

                    2) The goal is not to cut . Liberal arts/humanities  but to increase education in topics which lead to jobs a higher percent of time. There has to be a balance somewhere and what I am suggesting is that we need to shift the balance away from ~50/50 to more like 33/66 .

                    •  again rec'd for answers (3+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      elfling, bkamr, BYw

                      To reply:

                      1) Performance, merit, etc. forms of pay don't work in education because we don't go into teaching to enter a competitive venture.

                      As teachers we seek to teach our students to the best of our abilities as the work day, work year, total number of students, number of students in a class, number of special education students, and number of different classes we have to teach allow.

                      I can only speak to high school students, but IF you'd like to develop a metric that includes:
                      - home life
                      - medical health
                      - dental health
                      - current dating status
                      - bullying behavior exposed to
                      - menstrual cycle
                      - number of hours worked at a part time job
                      - number of hours at extra-curricular activities  
                      - attitude towards school
                      - possible dislike of me as that student's teacher
                      - any recent or soon to occur major social events
                      - how much the student slept last night
                      - how much that student uses drugs and alcohol

                      THEN you can start to pilot a valid performance measure of teachers based on standardized tests.

                      Until that point, I'll consider using student test results to measure my performance a totally bogus metric.

                      2) I can write you a set of course requirements right now that rolls STEM 50 / Other stuff 50 as part of graduation requirements. And a lot of STEM ideals can be placed in existing curriculum. My 9th graders will be happy to share their "pleasure" with you in a few weeks when I make the design, draft, build, and calculate components of an ancient Egyptian pyramid built to scale.

                    •  Eeek. Stop trying to cut the Humanities. (4+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Mostel26, rainmanjr, NYCteach, BYw

                      Here's a fun anecdote:  

                      I have a little sister whose school is on a block schedule such that they have essentially 8 courses over a year.  Three of her eight scheduled courses for her upcoming junior year are mandatory off-blocks, study halls, or other filler.  These are required courses because they save the school from having to hire a teacher to teach something (anything!) during those times.  This is a relatively high-achieving school in an affluent university town.  

                      You really don't need to cut anything in order to have more science and math in students' lives.  There is already a huge hole in their education experience.  I think every humanities teacher would be happy to fill that hole with science and math.  Schools are just comically underfunded.  That's the only problem.

                      The only people who have ever argued to get rid of science and math are the people who don't like learning at all.

                •  Funny how one who endorses cutting the humanities (6+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Mostel26, elfling, bkamr, NYCteach, cpresley, BYw

                  doesn't know his/her history.  The humanities and the sciences come hand-in-hand.  You could even argue that the rebirth of Humanism was a necessary precursor from the Renaissance and the Scientific Revolution.  

                  When I look at Rick Perry, for example, I see someone who I didn't learn his principles of logic and reasoning in humanities class.  How could he possibly understand the science and math without that?

                  I can sympathize with the desire to provide more students with better opportunities in science and math, but why would you provide more funding by stripping education elsewhere when there are so many other aspects of society that need it less.  In fact, I'd like to call for the Paris Hilton School for the Humanities, wherein we use her inheritance as funding.

                •  Cuts in Humanities and Liberal Arts (5+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Mostel26, Va1kyrie, bkamr, NYCteach, BYw

                  Is one of those things that I find baffling.    If you're concerned about saving money in schools and putting it into the classroom and education of kids, a much faster way is to make athletics an after-school club rather then school financed.   Athletics in some schools is almost 1/2 their total budget.

                  Cutting 1 art class or eliminating band saves you very little.

                  But beyond that, a strong background in liberal arts and humanities is far more important then you give it credit.   Kids who take time to learn about History, Drama, Theater, Speech, and to try other languages develop a lot of the reasoning and deductive skills that help them perform better at Math & Sciences.

                  Broad education helps act as a motivator; kids can feel successful at something which helps them more easily accept a challenge in another field.

                  But cutting humanities and arts is the exact reverse of what we need.   I'd be in favor of offering kids far more arts and humanities then less.

                  If we start offering a barebones education experience designed solely about churning out ideal workers rather then designed to output well rounded people who can adapt, then we've totally missed the boat

                  Having Hope and using action to give people hope are different things. Make a difference for someone.

                  by Chris Reeves on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 06:54:30 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Cutting arts and other topics lowers skills (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Mostel26, BYw

                  For example, music is math.  Art is math.  Dance is math.  Gym is math.  They are all also science.  They are all English and Social Studies.  They all teach problem solving. And they are all things that create interesting, creative, thoughtful people.  When children of all ages don’t have these things, they lose so much.

                  Here is another, stop protecting the shit teachers. Every teacher I know has some story about a horrible teacher down the hall who is just not good at their job, and are letting down the kids. The teachers know who they are but nothing id done about them. This is a failure by the teachers. Hell let them police themselves.

                  We need to get rid of those bad teachers.

                  Administrators are supposed to do their job and get rid of teachers who should not be in the classroom.  Most administrators are too lazy to bother.  Or, they go after the teacher who speaks up and leaves the docile teachers alone.  My job is to teach and not to police fellow teachers.  (And, you can get rid of teachers who are tenured.  It’s a two year process, but the admins have to be motivated.  And, during the two years they are supposed to help the teacher improve.)  Some admins gave tenure to teachers who shouldn’t have gotten it.  Now in NYC, they play games and deny a lot of teachers to keep them powerless.

                  Pay for performance. Will this cause teachers to teach to the test? Yes so what?

                  Trust me.  Most teachers don’t go into teaching for the money.  I don’t work like a dog because of money, I do it because it’s my job and I want my students to have options when they get older.  The more they learn, the better they will do, or least I hope so.  Merit pay is an insult and it has been proven that it doesn’t do a damn thing.  Look at all the scandals and see who got the merit pay.  The Principals!  What did they do?  Change grades and put pressure on teachers to pass non deserving kids.  Just pay me a fair wage I promise you my kids learn and do very well on standardized test.  And, even better, they are prepared for the next course and for college.

                •  Pay for performance is counterproductive (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Mostel26

                  for creative jobs. You should look at studies on this, it might really surprise you. Performance pay works great for repetitive or simple tasks. But actually goes the other way for creative endeavors.
                  So burger flippers get an incentive and performance improves. Managers get incentives and performance worsens.
                  http://www.rand.org/...
                  http://scienceblogs.com/...

            •  I can't follow your argument. For example: (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              rainmanjr, BYw
              However the examples you picked highlight just what you are arguing (kinda a bit of circular logic)
               

              Yes, the examples I picked were indeed intended to highlight just what I was arguing.  That is how you support an argument.  Your point is?

              There however are many examples of educational problems due to many other sources. You personally may not find them as exciting or as interesting but they are still there any playing a significant role dragging down the system.

              [emphasis mine]

              If you'll provide specific examples for the assertion you're making, I'll be glad to consider your point.  

              Plutocracy (noun) Greek ploutokratia, from ploutos wealth; 1) government by the wealthy; 2) 21st c. U.S.A.; 3) 22nd c. The World

              by bkamr on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 06:12:49 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Fair enough (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Mostel26

                Political: Lack of funding.

                School administration: incorrect assignment of resources. (Too much spent on educational topics which will not get you a job, and too little spent on topics which will get you a job. )

                The students: Too much preference for cultures and individuals which have next no role model value. Who are the kids heros? Some base ball player? Some rapper? Some rock star? Why not Albert Eisenstein , Madame Curie?  These preferences are personal failures of children / students.

                The parents : Much the same as the students. Its not about being involved. Its about creating and environment where the kids wants to do well and be a success.

                Teachers : I believe that you implied that you were a teacher.  Can you tell me there is not at least 1 fellow teacher at your school who is not doing justice to the students, who is not really doing the job well? The current system, with the help of the teachers protects those teachers. Id be happy let the teachers unions police themselves but the police need a lot more teeth.  If there is no one at your school like that. Id like to send my kid there (if I ever have one)

                •  rec'd again for providing details (4+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  elfling, rainmanjr, NYCteach, BYw

                  but let me help with something

                  Can you tell me there is not at least 1 fellow teacher at your school who is not doing justice to the students, who is not really doing the job well? The current system, with the help of the teachers protects those teachers.

                  You're laying the blame for that in the wrong spot. No union teaching contract protects bad teachers from being fired WITH due process. You need to blame lazy, job-hopping, and/or over burdened with standardized test management members of administration for not moving bad teachers out of the classroom.

                  If an administrator cares to be in their job long enough to follow proper protocols, firing poor teachers is easy. The father of one of my friends quite easily fired several recalcitrant members of a HS math department. He did his observations, put folks on improvement plans, and terminated them with cause as part of a unionized due process procedure.

                •  Yes, I'm a teacher, and no teacher is asked back (6+ / 0-)

                  for a second year if they are not doing a good job, in our school.

                  BTW It's a myth that principals can't fire a teacher.  Administrators just have to follow due process to do so.  When administrators don't do a good job in their responsibilities regarding performance evaluations and staffing, some administrators like to claim that their hands are tied by the unions, yada yada.

                  If I had a division that was not operating well, I looked at the manager ... I didn't waste time bashing the rank and file.   And, I certainly wouldn't have paid any attention to a manager trying to peddle nonsense that somehow it was a union's fault.  

                  There are about 4 million teachers in the US, so I'm sure there are a % of lower performing teachers.  This is true in all professions, because we are human beings and not super-natural beings ... Which means it is absolutely ridiculous for anyone to be waiting for Superman to fill all 4 million teachers' jobs.

                  And, looking at the degree of satisfaction that parents seem to have with their childrens' actual teachers, it would seem like the vast majority of schools are filled with good teachers.  

                  Plutocracy (noun) Greek ploutokratia, from ploutos wealth; 1) government by the wealthy; 2) 21st c. U.S.A.; 3) 22nd c. The World

                  by bkamr on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 07:30:49 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I think the level of teaching is incredible. (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    bkamr, BYw

                    I never learned 1/4 of what these kids are learning today.  I read people saying parents should be looking at their kids' homework...I wouldn't know what the Hell I was looking at.  I'm glad to not have kids if only for the simple fact that what they are learning makes me look stupid.  I learned a lot about people, psychology, behaviors and politics from observation and books.  I learned more history after my school years than during.  Summer vacations and adult travels also taught me more about geography than school did.  School did give me a sense of what was possible but not how to access it.  I think kids today are incredibly lucky.

                    "Put on your high-heeled sneakers/it's Party time" - Steely Dan.

                    by rainmanjr on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 09:46:38 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  We have middle schoolers learning things we didn't (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      BYw

                      touch on until high school, back in the 1970's.  I know we didn't cover the Periodic Table until high school chem, but we're expecting 6th graders to have a good foundation in it.  And, our 8th graders know it and balance equations, as well.  We'll be doing angular momentum in 8th grade physics, this year, and we didn't do that until 11th grade physics when I was in school.

                      I hear from many parents that they feel pretty lost trying to help their kids with their homework, nowadays.  Even college grads sometimes struggle if math and science were not their major.  

                      Maybe this is why so many parents are pleased with their childrens' actual teachers?  They are seeing the real rigor that their children are experiencing in their schools.  When they hear the propaganda that "our entire school system is broken," it must be a disconnect for them.  Maybe they think that only their school is providing the enriched curriculum and every other school is broken.  

                      It certainly is an interesting set of data, isn't it?

                      Plutocracy (noun) Greek ploutokratia, from ploutos wealth; 1) government by the wealthy; 2) 21st c. U.S.A.; 3) 22nd c. The World

                      by bkamr on Mon Aug 29, 2011 at 01:47:48 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks for a great comment. (0+ / 0-)

        I've also noticed that young people seem to be more distrustful of Corp's and are resentful for the "perks" they seem to be getting from law in the past 2 decades.  This is not a minor perception and will take roost in the next decade, once young people (who are not Tpubs) start acquiring power.  Pendulums swing in both directions and this one's hit its zenith.  It's about to swing the other way and Corp's will get their due.

        "Put on your high-heeled sneakers/it's Party time" - Steely Dan.

        by rainmanjr on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 09:18:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  USA has always depended on immigrants (9+ / 0-)

      in science, engineering, mechanics... right from jump.

      We have always  "been unable to produce enough.. STEM workers"

      Slater, Roebling, Waksman, Wang, Bose, Brin,  Yang... and many more of the world's most fertile imaginations  flocked to the USA in every generation.

      That's not our weakness.  It's our strength.

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

      by sayitaintso on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 03:40:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Completly failing ! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      devtob, Mostel26, BYw

      So Arne where do you get idea that schools are completly failing ? Because companies like those you mentioned go outside the U.S. to get educated workers who will work 16 hour days without complaint or benefits or very much pay.

      It is impossible to introduce into society a greater evil than this: the conversion of the law into an instrument of plunder." Frederic Bastiat

      by california keefer on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 03:56:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Myth about STEM workers (8+ / 0-)

      The Myth: see O112358's above post.

      The truth: Microsoft Google Intel IBM Apple facebook etc simply can not find Americans who are qualified for their jobs willing to work for $10/hour.

      Students have no incentive today to go into STEM professions.  The course of study is difficult.  Once graduated, jobs are scarce, job security non-existant (indeed, most STEM jobs are now "temporary", no benefit contract jobs), and salaries are identical to that of an Assistant Manager at the local fast food restaurant.

      America needs to put its money behind its interests.  If America wants more locally trained STEM workers, then America needs to have more career type jobs waiting for the workers after training is done: stable jobs, at $50,000+ annual salary.  Otherwise, might as well become a manager at the fast food restaurant or an auto mechanic or a dental assistant.  The money is better, the training is easier, and the job is more secure.

    •  "so bad (t)hat we literaly" but, (0+ / 0-)

      who are you? ???

      "Do your best, and keep your sense of humor."--My Mom

      by mainely49 on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 04:40:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Having been a Director or VP at companies (11+ / 0-)

      such as Unisys, Motorola, Bell Labs and GE prior to choosing to become a science teacher, I can tell you that we weren't importing workers from countries like India, because there weren't Americans qualified to do the work.  We hired from overseas, because we could get a computer scientist with a MS for 60K instead of 75K.  

      That sort of thing has been going on for 30 years. It's one of the reasons I couldn't take being a part of corp. America, any longer.  It was (and is) insanely short term thinking, but shaving single digit costs is how mid-level executives make double digit bonuses.  Who cares if the 2-3 year cost is more?  It's all about showing quarter to quarter, incremental profit improvements -- then, out and up with a nice bonus in December.

      Also, Sr. Developers are starting at $80K in most places in the US (excluding high cost areas such as CA and NYC).  My husband just got hired last month in such a role, and they based the salary on a national salary analysis.

      Finally, you spelled "higher" incorrectly.  It's spelled hire.

      Plutocracy (noun) Greek ploutokratia, from ploutos wealth; 1) government by the wealthy; 2) 21st c. U.S.A.; 3) 22nd c. The World

      by bkamr on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 04:52:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Personal (0+ / 0-)

        stories I know but I am seeing higher than 80k for junior developers at many many firms. I am in NYC but others I know are in different locales and still doing better than national average of 80k for senior highers.

        I have no doubt you are at least partially right about corporate america just trying to save a buck but IMHO also things have changed abit. In the times since bell labs tech demand has grown at a incredible rate. To the point where demand outstrips supply by a good bit.  

        •  Senior "hires." In NYC, the salaries would (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          elfling, rainmanjr, wsexson, BYw

          be higher; however, it is still highly dependent on the software.  A Sr. Java Developer may be in the range you describe, but there aren't "millions" of jobs at this level.  The vast majority of the development work is still patch work on proprietary apps (or customized apps) which is lower cost and this work is increasingly being farmed out or given to "temporary hires" hungry for any kind of work.

          PS My husband is a Sr. Java Developer (with 20 years computer science experience), and it took him 2 years to get hired full-time with benefits.

          Plutocracy (noun) Greek ploutokratia, from ploutos wealth; 1) government by the wealthy; 2) 21st c. U.S.A.; 3) 22nd c. The World

          by bkamr on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 05:41:53 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Millions for particular job set no (0+ / 0-)

            But

            http://www.doe.mass.edu/...

            Vacancy rate of around 6% of mass for STEM jobs.

            and from

            http://www.whitehouse.gov/...

            7.5 million stem workers.

            meaning around 400k open vacancies right now. + Those positions which should be filled by Americans if we properly educated our workforce. That amounts to the low millions in my estimations.

            •  THIS is what you are basing your argument on? (5+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Mostel26, rainmanjr, wsexson, quill, BYw

              LOL  Here's the problem we're actually seeing in this country.  There is a gap, but it isn't at the public education level.  

              Our k-12 public schools are not falling short in providing an opportunity to learn math and science.  They do give students the chance to establish a good foundation in these areas.  

              But, the jobs you are citing require advanced education, plus, advanced TRAINING paired with mentoring, often in proprietary software/ customized packages!  No high school graduate is qualified for these jobs!    No high school is going to prepare workers for these jobs.

              You're looking at college AND some pretty pricey training plus the employers want experience for these jobs. (For example: A week of Java training is going to cost an individual between $1200 and $3000.)

              Companies gutted training departments through the late 1990's ands 2000's.    This was one of the first cost cutting/ profit improvement moves mid-level executives like myself made.  The first move was to fire the training staffs in favor of computer based training ... and then, the CBT contracts got cut, too.  There was no short term pain, since attrition profitability issues wouldn't show up for at least a year or two.

              If we want to prepare Americans to fill these jobs en masse, then it would take a massive jobs training act and initiative ... which has absolutely nothing to do with bashing k-12, public education teachers.

              Plutocracy (noun) Greek ploutokratia, from ploutos wealth; 1) government by the wealthy; 2) 21st c. U.S.A.; 3) 22nd c. The World

              by bkamr on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 06:35:46 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  That's a load of crap (9+ / 0-)

      The problem is that it's easier and cheaper for many of those companies to bring folks over from other countries than it is to hire and train folks here. There are plenty of programmers with experience in older languages who could get up to speed on the newer ones with maybe just about 6 months of intensive work; the logic behind programming is the same, just the techniques are different.

      Besides, the world is made up of more than just STEM workers. It used to be that you could get out of high school with just a diploma and be able to find a job that would at least keep yourself fed, clothed, and housed, and maybe to support a small family. And thanks to strong unions there were benefits and a chance for advancement. But when you've got kids with graduate degrees forced to move back home with Mom and Dad, and stay on their insurance because they can't find a job that will provide health benefits of their own, something is desperately wrong with the system, and I'm not talking the school system.

      Now to try to end the wars we ask our gay and straight soldiers to fight. -- Chris Hayes

      by Cali Scribe on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 04:56:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's not true that there's no unemployment (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      PrahaPartizan, wsexson, BYw

      for STEM workers. Talk to all the researchers who applied for NIH and NSF grants and the like and were rejected. Talk to recently minted physics PhDs.

      Google and Apple are surely not hurting for workers. They are among the most sought-after employers and they reject quite a lot of very talented American born and trained engineers.

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

      by elfling on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 04:59:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Introduce (0+ / 0-)

        me to a competent  recently minted PHd in physics ( or NIH and NSF applicant) looking for a job and I will cut you in for part of any finders fee I get. a 1/4th cut for you would probably be in the several k range.

        The person if willing would be in an office somewhere within a month and half at most.

    •  "Can not find Americans qualified to *higher*" (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bkamr, wsexson, BYw

      Sheesh. Who highered you? You "literary" defeat your own argument with your spelling and grammar mistakes. Missing commas (Microsoft Google Intel) , missing capital letters (united states), missing periods (unemployment Microsoft), confusing syntax.

      Where are these non-Americans being trained? The majority are trained in our world class university system.

    •  STEM jobs are not the ONLY jobs (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mostel26, elfling, BYw

      Your point is good.  I admit, I work within the Technology field.   There are millions of Americans who do work within the technology field.    And Microsoft, Google, Facebook, etc. all hire a lot of those people.

      I know because many of my friends (who were born in the US) still work at MS and Google.  For pretty darn good pay.

      We still produce a good number of doctors, dentists, surgeons, architects, etc.

      That said, there are great jobs that are not STEM also.   Quite a few very brilliant lawyers, designers, chefs, builders, etc.  All in some very high paying job.

      I'm glad to say I have a niece on full ride at MIT, and a nephew who accepted at Caltech.  

      Coming out of HS, a family member went on a full ride in physics, and in the end, graduated with multiple degrees in foreign languages and works very successfully as a translator for businesses abroad, loving what she does.

      Your argument about STEM is a good pont, that we aren't doing enough to influence kids toward Sciences.   But there are times where the innate ability of a kid isn't sciences.

      One of my best friends from HS struggled badly with math.   But she had a brilliant mind.  She's very successful as a veterinarian.

      A good friend from college now kills me on Facebook.. as a person in charge of a winery, something I would have never imagined, and her mid-six figure yearly take home isn't anything to snort at.

      Your argument about STEM is good, but it oversales them also.   Of course we import STEM jobs.    We also export them.   Our largest architecture firm here in KC is busy designing facilities to be built in Brazil.   A local client is designing the new docking facilities for Japan.   Those were jobs that Americans are doing for another country.

      Greatness isn't the sole asset of the US.   We don't have a global monopoly on great scientific minds.   But it doesn't mean we are devoid of them either.

      It's easy for you to dismiss a lot of this in this article and another as "it's not the general purpose of education."   I would argue with you that a person with basic abilities in required HS coursework like math & science but a great work ethic and good people skills as say, a plumber will be just fine.

      I've worked on projects with some of the most brilliant technological minds I have ever met.   People who ran NOC for major, major corporations.   Great jobs.  Good people.  

      I've also helped clients who did home redecoration projects for people who were smart, well spoken, and made a great living.

      If we trim down to where we say "we aren't producing STEM jobs" a the only way to judge success or failure, we are dismissing the great work and talents of people who have made the CHOICE to use their mind in fields that aren't STEM and dismissing them as "less then".

      Two good friends, brothers.. one is in pharmacology.  The other is in HVAC.    Both are bright.  Both are happy.   Neither is homeless.

      Having Hope and using action to give people hope are different things. Make a difference for someone.

      by Chris Reeves on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 06:19:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  HVAC (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mostel26

        I think would be considered STEM by some.

        Yes what I have said is concentrated on one topic. But to be fair most people here don't seem to be aware of it so I do my job by what I consider pushing this topic into discussion.

        You are right STEM is not right for everyone. However there are far far too many people trying to go for the 10 to 1 odds of becoming a professional writer when getting some kind of technical degree(there is enough variety to make most happy) will more than likely get them a career.

        My argument is not that STEM if for everyone but that there is a huge hole not being filled right now. And as part of our education fix, we need to fill that hole.

        •  HVAC is STEM (0+ / 0-)

          But a few thoughts:

          1) If I work HVAC should I unionize and tell my boss that I'm working in a STEM field and should be paid as such?

          The powers that be in this nation sure don't push that ideal.

          2) Chicken and egg in terms of career "choice."

          Why does anybody "choose" a particular career? I 100% agree that we need to have more STEM trained professionals in this nation. How does one encourage this career path?

          You bring up:

          However there are far far too many people trying to go for the 10 to 1 odds of becoming a professional writer when getting some kind of technical degree(there is enough variety to make most happy) will more than likely get them a career.

          - What are mom and dad telling them at home about career choice?

          - What does pop culture push as a great career?

          We're now on two straight generations and going into a 3rd of Americans being raised to view intellectualism as a negative. This nation CRUSHED Adlai Stevenson's run at President for being an "egg head."

          I really share your desire for more Americans to view STEM learning and careers as a valid path through adulthood. But for you to lay it at the feet of teachers is garbage.

          •  They play a (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Mostel26

            part in it . They are not the whole of it but they are a part. The teachers preferences themselves have a significant influence over the children.

            I have my own opinions on how to reform the situation but that is a long conversation for another time. I however need rest for the weekly grind starting in the morning.

    •  Next to no unemployment? (6+ / 0-)

      Tell that to all the postdocs being let go from the NIH this fiscal year, me included.  Unemployment -- and underemployment -- are very real to those of us that stuck to the STEM fields all these years.

      And last I heard, there were 1500 applications for one Scientist I position at MedImmune.  1500.  Read that and tell me again that the U.S. isn't producing enough STEM people.  What it isn't producing is enough god-damned STEM jobs!

  •  2 Seattle Blogs w/ OUTSTANDING coverage of DE (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    devtob, dryeyes, Mostel26

    DEFORM lies & hustles -

    Check out the diary on
    Save Seattle Schools

    and 3 top notch recent diaries:

    Education Advocacy Roster

    Links to Latest SPS/TFA e-mails

    Why TFA is Dangerous for Our District

    Seattle Education 2010

    is it Research – or Propaganda?
    Posted on August 22, 2011 by Kristin| 13 Comments

    +++++

    By The Way - here is a diary with my own personal leaflet AGAINST the demormista crowd -

    there are many who mean well and who are being used and being duped by the string pullers -

    and the string pullers are the same kind of yuppie sell outs we got with the DLC Third Way New Dem Neo Libs when they're on the "Democratic" side.

    I put this leaflet together after watching Bill Gates & Michelle Rhee & Oprah all peddling "Waiting for Stuporman" last fall.

    WHEN are Americans going to hold management accountable?

    Bill Gates Deformistas

    rmm.

    Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous

    by seabos84 on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 03:17:17 PM PDT

  •  A lovely post (7+ / 0-)

    Thank you.  

    Here in Iowa the new Sheriff - excuse me, the new Governor - has appointed a flack from Colorado to "improve" schools.  As one of our courageous local reporters has carefully noted, this man's  published work demonstrates that teachers teach for the love of the job, not for money.  His stated goal is to change that.

    There are many things that need to be improved in public schooling, and there are bad teachers.  But anyone who encourages blanket contempt and disrespect for teachers is not interested in improving the schools.  

    Thank you also for continuing to teach. It is a hard job, and little understood. Someone has to invest in the future. Republicans have given up on it, and on our young people.

  •  End 1st wk of State Supt & Gov. Daniels take-over (18+ / 0-)

    of 4 so-called failing Indianapolis High School and Middle Schools by supposed Miracle rescurers.  Sunday headlines by The Indianapolis Star reporter, Matt Tully, reports young TFA (Teach For Ameirca) imports with a scant  few weeks of teacher training --- supposed to turn things around after getting rid of veteran teachers --- were in tears as they began to realize the depth of social problems.  Arrests in the middle of the school day, stories of shooting deaths in their family by students struggling stay in school, learners years and years behind where TFA rescurers expected to teach, and the abject poverty were not in their expectations.  They thought they would be greeted as a conquering army, but are finding the battle is more deeply on-going ever imagined.  

    •  My son's case manager (15+ / 0-)

      is a TFA teacher (my son has high functioning autism).

      He's a very sweet young man who had just finished getting his MBA, but truly had no idea what he was getting into last year, teaching in an urban Denver high school.  He thought he knew about public schools; he had attended public schools... in the Cherry Creek school district, one of the most affluent suburbs.

      It took him a semester or so to get his legs under him -- and he's back for his second year.

      But I think an under-appreciated aspect of TFA is the effect it will have on the understanding of such young men.  He will go forth into his post-TFA career with more of an understanding of those who grew up without the privileges he had.

      A little tender courage at that rare right instant, and things might well have turned out differently -- Ken Kesey

      by Frankenoid on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 04:22:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  ---at the sacrifice of his students for first yrs. (8+ / 0-)

        Taking qualified, experienced teachers out of the classroom for an experimental TFA beginning teacher seems countr-productive.

        •  Perhaps... but doubtful (3+ / 0-)

          There's a shortage of special education teachers.

          Further, he's done better by our son than a couple of fully-accredited teachers have done.

          A little tender courage at that rare right instant, and things might well have turned out differently -- Ken Kesey

          by Frankenoid on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 04:33:04 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  TFA (6+ / 0-)

            is a corporation. Perhaps a not-for-profit corporation, but it's still a corporation whose executives, I have little doubt, make more than I do as a teacher.

            Perhaps TFA started out to help supply teachers where there are teacher shortages. But that is not what it has become. It has become a self-serving, highly political program for giving elites "leadership experience." And it has an aggressive business plan for moving into places where there are no teacher shortages, such as Seattle, my city.

            In Seattle, TFA has a stated mission of supplying 10 to 30 percent of teachers in the district. They don't intend to fill teacher shortages. They intend to displace trained teachers. Some see a motive of union busting in this. I see a corporation's natural tendency to move into new markets and grow for growth's sake. But as Edward Abbey said, "Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell."

      •  a modest proposal (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NYCteach, Mostel26, BYw

        I suggest that we have DFA's - Doctors For America - and take what looks like smart young people, give them six weeks of intensive training, and then put them in the surgery wards, intensive care units, and emergency rooms of America to practice medicine.  

        True, there will be a lot of people who suffer at their hands, but think of the effect this will have on the understanding of these young men.  And, as for the experienced doctors who are displaced in this scheme, well, in any revolution there are those that die who should not.

        For what is the crime of the robbing of a bank compared to the crime of the founding of a bank? - Brecht

        by Joe Hill PDX on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 09:09:59 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  They should ask Americans (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    drmah, devtob, Mostel26, cpresley

    if they would want their children to become politicians (conservative ones that is).

    Most folks still consider it an honorable profession (two-thirds of Americans would want their children to become teachers, little changed from previous years).
  •  I'd be curious to see (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    devtob

    polling of teachers' attitudes towards about their unions-- how many have internalized the Michelle Rhee anti-unionism vs how many feel they have benefited from membership.

    •  My union (UFT) leaders sucks, but (10+ / 0-)

      without the union, life would suck.

      Most teachers know that the union has lots of problems, but they also keep the wolves at bay.  I think the very cocky teachers and the very stupid teachers follow Rhee, but anyone in the system for a few years learns very quickly that the union helps more than it hurts.

      And, the union protects kids.  Most work rules actually helps the students we teach.

      Union Maid-pete Seeger/Arlo Guthrie

      •  Union Maid (0+ / 0-)

        ((youtube 1yuK4m3UzRk))

        if i can follow directions.

      •  One more try (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        devtob, mainely49

        ((youtube 1yuK4m3UzRk))

        I don’t teach programming.

        If this doesn’t work, can someone tell me how to get this to work.  I’m following the directions on the FAQ page, but i’m missing something.—thanks.

      •  In my (limited/anecdotal) experience (0+ / 0-)

        there was a palpable difference between older teachers (who were strongly supportive of teacher's unions) and younger teachers-- especially 1st or 2nd years-- who seemed generally wary.

        •  I can explain that (5+ / 0-)

          Most unions gear their strongest efforts to working toward making a career work over 30-40 years. Most first or second year teachers (I'm in year 11) come in with a lot of belief in that their skills as an educator and up to date pedagogy will make them a Teflon employee from day one. What one learns in that nobody is Teflon, in five years one's up to date pedagogy is old news, and a strong union is the best vehicle to becoming a master teacher.

          Also, in far too many cases union leadership tends to focus its negotiating goals on its negotiating team. Those folks usually aren't 23 and fresh out of school. A sad oversight in a lot of places.

    •  no poll, but here's my anecdote (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mostel26, bluesteel, BYw

      Union rules made it so that I was among the teachers that had to be cut when the funding was reduced for the millionth year in a row.  

      So, I guess, the union didn't help me.  

      On the other hand, I have enough history education to know that the contract I initially signed would have been a wildly different thing if it wasn't for a century of unions.  

      The good news:  The Republican plan to change education has landed me a job with a corporation that does the job of a school.  My pay rate dropped by 20% and my class size doubled (Also, no retirement plan, crappier benefits and I still don't see the way that I'll be able to teach as well as I had).  I guess this recession was the Republican plan the whole time.

      The only teachers I know who are anti-union are dittoheads anyway.  

  •  Obama/Arne Duncan attack teachers too. (12+ / 0-)

    It's not just a GOP game, Obama and Arne Duncan have jumped on the bandwagon phone "teacher accoutability" games, diverting money to "Race to Bottom" programs vs more teachers, smaller class sizes. Obama is playing the same "join'em" game he's played with health care, Social Security, Medicare, where he tries to one up the GOP by proposing BIGGER cuts and even MORE punitive policies.

    •  Is there anything that Obama (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      PrahaPartizan, seabos84

      won't triangulate to try to attract the few really undecided independents and kiss up to the media purveyors of corporate/Beltway conventional wisdom?

      Public education, the Bush wars, the environment, "entitlement reform," a too-little, too-late jobs program, accountability for Wall Street economy-wreckers, etc., ad nauseam.  

      And all the while pissing off and discouraging his base voters.

      Sure, most of us will end up voting for him, but we are not happy that our 2012 presidential vote will be a lesser-of-two-evils choice.  

      A public option for health insurance is a national priority.

      by devtob on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 04:43:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  You are correct. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mostel26

      In my beloved city of Seattle, all of the blame-the-teacher ed reformers are Democrats. And these are Democrats who claim to be progressives! I don't see anything progressive in the constant drumbeat of disrespect for teachers.

  •  Let's see. I have a job opening for ya. (12+ / 0-)

    You'll get tons of criticism and misunderstanding, no respect, maybe a cut in pay and benefits, and there'll be people breathing down your neck in the name of accountability as you try to teach 35 students in a supplies-deficient classroom.

    Any takers?

    O, it is excellent to have a giant's strength; but it is tyrannous to use it like a giant." --Shakespeare, Measure for Measure

    by Wildthumb on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 03:53:04 PM PDT

  •  I noticed that the most of the recent (5+ / 0-)

    teacher/education posts had very few comments.

    Many of them had positive comments about charters (which are mostly anti union, for profit and anti teacher).  And, most have lousy results (the BIG secret).

    Many (including this post) talks about bad teachers (it is a miracle people can function in today’s society since everyone thinks schools are filled with bad teachers).  I know very few teachers that i would consider bad.  Funny enough, one i think is awful gets better Regents results than some teachers that are good teachers.

    I get it, most people really don’t give a shit.  They really don’t care about America’s schools and most don’t even care about their kid’s education.  Please don’t tell me they do, I’m in the trenches.  They care about good grades, not earned grades.  Knowledge isn’t important, getting ahead (deserved or not) is the goal.

    And, everyone who has walked by a school thinks they know something.  They don’t and most parents don’t have a clue about their own kids.

    If you have kids in school, make sure you support the teachers (even when your kid’s teacher says something negative about your child).  When you cut the legs out from the teachers, you hurt the students.

    Have a great school year.

    •  I think charters have a place (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elfling

      in education, mainly in schools that specialize in certain subjects -- schools that focus on the arts, sciences, or technology for example. But charter schools that merely give the same education that can be provided in a public school given the proper resources (and yes, that includes funding) seems to be a duplication of effort to me.

      Now to try to end the wars we ask our gay and straight soldiers to fight. -- Chris Hayes

      by Cali Scribe on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 05:07:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Volunteer in your community's schools. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bkamr, elfling, cpresley

      I know that many folks hold down three jobs trying to put food on their families.  But anyone who can manage to volunteer at a school in their community is doing a tremendous service to the country.

      You'll find volunteer opportunities that fit your time and your temperament.  There are simple, mechanical tasks that free up staff and teacher time.  Kids learning to read need one-on-one time with an adult who can listen to them and help them.  Playground supervisors allow staff and teachers to eat lunch.  Bring a stick of chalk with you and draw hopscotch squares on the pavement of a neglected playground.  (I'm astonished that this fun game that takes no more than a piece of chalk and some marker rocks is unfamiliar to students at schools where I volunteer.) Turn a jump rope and recite the jump rope rhymes you learned as a child.  Teach the kids that they can use their imaginations and creativity to have a good time, exercise and make friends.

      If your local schools have a "Lunch Buddy" program where you are paired with an especially needy child and eat with that child in the cafeteria once a week, that child makes friends more easily, because an adult is a magnet for all the kids at the cafeteria table.  Your Lunch Buddy is proud and has a mentor.

      While serving as a volunteer, you may notice other ways that you can give help.  

      Volunteering can be hard work, but also a rewarding experience.  After moving away, I still have three "pen pals" from a classroom where I volunteered, and those kids have me to ask for advice about things they are afraid to bring up to their parents.  (Usually my advice is on HOW to talk to their parents or a trusted teacher.)  They know that I still care about them and that I always will.  

  •  We just need to hang in there (6+ / 0-)

    My district survived two years of a Broad Foundation tool (who pulled a Palin last week) and our union negotiated a new contract.

    One after another of these corporate tools is proving to be a disastrous failure.  There will be more such examples, more charter school scandals.  It's got to penetrate the national consciousness eventually.

    Light is seen through a small hole.

    by houyhnhnm on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 03:55:20 PM PDT

    •  Beautiful. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      houyhnhnm, Mostel26, cpresley, BYw

      In Seattle, our Broad superintendent was fired after a financial scandal became public in February. For the first time in four years I decided to speak out at a School Board meeting. Until then, I had been laboring under a climate of fear and intimidation. Never again. Here is a YouTube of my speech before the School Board:

      •  Seattle fought the good fight (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mostel26

        How hard is it to get permission to speak before your school board?  I've never known of anyone other than are union president being given permission to speak to the board.  I saw a guy  citizen, graduate of our schools, Iraq war veteran, escorted out by security one time because he didn't have permission to speak.

        Light is seen through a small hole.

        by houyhnhnm on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 06:17:39 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  In Seattle, (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Mostel26, BYw

          you email a Board staffer on the Monday morning before the School Board meeting on Wednesday. You're supposed to state the subject of your speech, and it's supposed to address some item on the agenda. Anyone can sign up to speak.

        •  In California (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          houyhnhnm

          generally there is a moment in the agenda allotted to public comment. You're limited to 3 minutes, and there's a limit on the total minutes to public comment, but you don't need to call ahead.

          You can also call in advance to have your item added to the agenda. Your success there will probably depend upon your topic and how full the agenda is already. You'd call the district office.

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

          by elfling on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 09:14:32 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  100 % agree (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      houyhnhnm, elfling, cpresley

      I'm 34 years old and will hit full retirement after 27 more school years. I'm not going anywhere, I've been at this as a substitute and in my own room for 11 years, and write my newspapers and politicians frequently.

      I will fight for what is best for schools until I die.

  •  As a retired teacher (11+ / 0-)

    who had to be on strike twice in my forty year career (both times back in the 70's)to fight NOT FOR SALARIES but for the right to collectively bargain, to have a master agreement that protected all teachers from the whims of some person, like one who decided to accuse you of "teaching witchery" cause you did a Halloween creative writing lesson, I concur with this diary and research.

    I have often been amazed at the disconnect some make between unions and workers. But then again it's not unlike the people who have a disconnect between government and themselves.   For some people, apparently, of the people, by the people, for the people is too hard to understand and fight for ....constantly.  Democracy and unions have this in common.  One must be an active participant in order to have the leadership and direction they want.  

    Anyway, thanks for sharing.

  •  Is it a given that people in a unions (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    drmah

    Other than teachers unions Hold teacher unions in high regard.....

    So it's The Why do you hate this country You're Obsessed with misquoting me out of context while I was in the process of misspeaking with the sun in my eyes while chowing down and bashing Sharia law God Bless America defense.......

    by JML9999 on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 04:07:50 PM PDT

  •  My school was bad, but ... (15+ / 0-)

    that was really only because it was the 2nd last school they sent expelled kids to before you went to the really bad place. I think back and kick myself for not asking my mom to send me to a better school being that I wasn't expelled from anywhere but just happened to be in that district.
    But the thing about that is is that even though that school was kind of messed up for that reason, the teachers there made the best out of what amounted to be undeniably poor circumstances. My 9th grade social studies teacher that made me want to go to college, my 7th grade science teacher that taught me that I didn't hate science and encouraged me to instead turn it into one of my best subjects even though I hated it, my 8th grade literature teacher and my 9th and 10th grade chorus teacher that taught me how to not only read at a higher level but also how to speak out loud and in writing. It goes on and on, and I stand by my feelings that the school I went to was horrid for the reasons previously explained, but I didn't give up and I made the best of it, and my so doing my teachers gave me their all and some of the things they taught me stay with me to this day even though that school was like it was. I wish I could name them because they deserve an applause but I will respect their privacy. I am the man I am today because of them, because of teachers like you guys here ... and it insults me when these repigs slam on you guys saying you don't do your job because I know the truth, I've lived reality as a white kid in the ghetto of NY and even though I was in this really terrible school, the teachers there made the best of it and so did I.
    I will never give up on you guys. Thanks for everything you do. You guys gave a shit when no one else did and that means a lot, and too many repigs take that for granted. But there is a saying that "the sins of a parent die with their children", and I think that is true in this case.

    On the plains of hesitation lie the blackened bones of countless millions who at the dawn of victory lay down to rest, and in resting died. -- Adlai Stevenson

    by Ghost of NY on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 04:23:44 PM PDT

  •  does teaching suffer b/c it is female-dominated? (10+ / 0-)

    Does teaching suffer in the eyes of the public (esp. the GOP) because it is a female-dominated profession?  I ask for several reasons:

    1.  Almost no one goes after fire and police unions.  These are male-dominated unions, to the extreme.

    2.  There is a long-term shortage of nurses, which is another highly-skilled, female-dominated profession.  

    Does a lot of the public perception of teachers have to do with sexism?  If so, how do we increase the status of the teaching profession?

    Yes, Virginia, there is an alternative to the death penalty! http://www.vadp.org

    by econlibVA on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 04:29:03 PM PDT

  •  Married to a public school teacher of 23yrs... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bkamr, Mostel26

    ...and my undergrad studies were in education field, as well am a product of public education across the US., 17.5yrs of schooling... and along the way endured the msm version of mediocre at best teachers but looking/thinking back to the various teacher-student situations involved in... I was a very fortunate person because of the majority of my teachers who pushed, cajoled, persuaded, or kicked my butt forward until I got it right. With that, and what I've accomplished in my various careers, along with first-hand witness to the incredible good public school teacher perform and accomplish...I am not surprised at all by the outcome of the PDK poll.  

    Our nations quality of life is based on the rightousness of its people.

    by kalihikane on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 04:34:10 PM PDT

  •  Grass Roots Reform (0+ / 0-)

    Teachers (especially retired teachers, but ALL teachers in general) need to get together with parents in training sessions, to teach them how to teach their children.

    Parents need training in Glenn Donnan's methods and Nathan Azrin's methods of training and educating children.  Teachers must train parents, from when the couple is expecting a child onward, in preparation for training the infant.  Getting parents intrinsically involved in early childhood home training (and children's homework), will completely revitalize children's learning and their abilities to grasp alot of information quickly and retain it.  The training must start in infancy, so parents MUST BE COMPLETELY INVOLVED, and be trained by teachers in how to train the infants.

    It won't do away with schools or teachers.  On the contrary, it will build teachers' partnership with parents from the ground up, causing teachers to be regarded with trust (because what they're teaching the parents WORKS.)  This absolutely has to happen, because parents must change they way they think about and practice education, from what their expectations of children are, to what they expect from themselves (to do on behalf of their children).

    Parents here don't DO nearly enough, and expect teachers to fix the problem of early childhood educational neglect -- and this attitude of parental arrogance and dishonor (towards teachers), and neglect of their childrens' early life, permeates the entire system.  It's a faulty beginning, and creates problems all down the line ... layered problems, and finger pointing.

    If we are to progress, we must work together, using the most progressive methods.  Teachers can help parents do this; build the relationships with parents anew; and show parents that greater abilities on their child's part will win scholarships, and lessen the costs of education.

    •  I'd like to see schools offer parenting classes (0+ / 0-)

      starting from the infant/toddler days, and definitely I'd love to see it standard for the parents to attend a parenting class in conjunction with enrollment in kindergarten. We all need more tools in our toolbox. Plus, it gives the parents a chance to know the teachers and a chance to understand the school's discipline framework.

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

      by elfling on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 09:20:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  One more personal vs impersonal rating thing (3+ / 0-)

    It's just like when people rate congress so horribly low overall yet people rate their own congresscritter high.

    People will rate their own local community school far higher than they rate the school system overall.

    It's strange how this works.

    - If you don't like gay marriage, blame straight people. They're the ones who keep having gay babies.

    by r2did2 on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 05:11:29 PM PDT

  •  The war on teachers is just a theatre in the (8+ / 0-)

    larger war on labor.

    Teaching jobs are not readily outsourced, so the Union must be attacked by other means.

    The hungry judges soon the sentence sign, And wretches hang, that jurymen may dine.

    by magnetics on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 05:20:38 PM PDT

    •  except in Idaho (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      magnetics

      They just outsource teaching jobs on-line style.

      Drones on Computers

      •  Jesus! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mostel26

        The hungry judges soon the sentence sign, And wretches hang, that jurymen may dine.

        by magnetics on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 07:13:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Oregon outsources teaching also (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mostel26, dryeyes

        Governor Kitzhaber and some of our "Democrats" recently expanded access to something called "Connections Academy."  This charter online scheme is essentially a website, and not a very good one.

        Moreover, the chief Republican pushing this has a financial interest (big investor) in its growth.

        I have no patience, none, with Democrats who demonize teachers and public schools.

        Fund the damn schools.  Get rid of poverty and structural injustice.  Allow teachers to do their job.

        And get the f* out of the way.

        For what is the crime of the robbing of a bank compared to the crime of the founding of a bank? - Brecht

        by Joe Hill PDX on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 09:14:16 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Democrats (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Mostel26

          are the only ones bashing teachers in Seattle because the Republican Party simply doesn't exist here as a viable force in politics. With the Gates Foundation in your backyard and a host of wealthy contributors across Lake Washington, the Democratic establishment in Seattle has lined up behind the teacher-scapegoating ed reformers for the last four years. However, there is an anti-incumbent wind blowing, and the people of Seattle are poised to ignore the Democratic Party and throw out four members of our ed reformer School Board.

          It is disgraceful to see how much Democratic Party elites have lost touch with the daily reality of what we teachers face in the classroom.  However, this may be the year that the people are with us in Seattle. I may soon start a series of diaries on the School Board race in Seattle because I believe it is of national importance.

  •  You Will Find It Very Interesting That The Attack (0+ / 0-)

    strategy and tactics come from one perverted source.

  •  Logic (0+ / 0-)

    The teachers union may be made up of teachers, but it isn't an education association whose interest is in teaching; it's a workers' association whose interest is in salaries and working conditions, and a trade guild controlling entrance to the profession. It's a lot like, say, the AMA is all about doctors, not patients. And like the AMA, the teacher unions are forever proclaiming that their good is also the good of the school system. Not so far as I can tell.

    •  ok. but (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elfling, NYCteach
      it's a workers' association whose interest is in salaries and working conditions, and a trade guild controlling entrance to the profession

      and

      an education association whose interest is in teaching

      are not mutually exclusive.

      I can't teach my students to the best of my abilities if you give me too many students and too many classes to teach. If you don't pay me enough I have to work part time jobs at night, during the weekends, and all summer. I currently do two of the three. If you don't give me due process in an attempt to fire me I cannot teach my students with full academic freedom and with valid grades.

      Unions allow teachers to teach to the best of their professional abilities.

      •  Doesn't follow (0+ / 0-)

        "I can't teach my students to the best of my abilities if you give me too many students and too many classes to teach. If you don't pay me enough I have to work part time jobs at night, during the weekends, and all summer....If you don't give me due process in an attempt to fire me..."

        By this logic, there should be no elite private schools, as those non-union, often non-certified teachers would be unable to teach to the best of their abilities. Instead, we find that these schools insist on top-notch teaching and get it.

        FWIW, I'm in favor of the right of teachers to organize for better salaries and working conditions. At  the same time, I don't think highly of the national mega-unions that have resulted from the exercise of that right.

        •  ha ha ha ha ha (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Va1kyrie, elfling
          By this logic, there should be no elite private schools, as those non-union, often non-certified teachers would be unable to teach to the best of their abilities. Instead, we find that these schools insist on top-notch teaching and get it.

          Elite private schools cherry pick students from the cream of the socio-economic crop and deal with students who have every advantage in life. It is easy to teach students who do all of your assigned work without question.

        •  he he he he (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Mostel26, elfling
          Instead, we find that these schools insist on top-notch teaching and get it.

          I'm on the left coast, so our private schools are fewer and further between, but our private schools hire the parents of students who are the only people willing to work for such low wages.  The parents only take the jobs because it give them a discount on their student's tuition.

          The private schools use the money they save on teachers to recruit elite athletes and scholars with scholarships so that their school looks better.

          •  East Coast (0+ / 0-)

            There's some of that here, as well. But there is also a lot of high-power faculty teaching for top salaries. More to the point, what they want in teachers is advanced degrees in academic fields, native speakers for language teachers and, in general, expertise rather than education courses.

            As for the cherry-picked students: it's true that these schools get the most motivated kids, i.e., subject to parental demands for achievement. And they want teachers to match. The same is often true of the best charter schools (opposed by the teacher unions, of course). IMO, cherry-picking can be a good thing.

    •  Yes and no (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mostel26, elfling, cpresley

      It is true that a teachers' union is a workers' association whose interest is in salaries and working conditions for teachers.

      How does the teachers' union control entrance to the profession?  

      Also, can you think of any improvement in working conditions for teachers that isn't an improvement for students?  The working conditions teachers unions fight for are more prep time, smaller class sizes, more access to technology.  

      As for the salaries issue, doesn't capitalism tell us that if teachers were paid four times as much we'd have better teachers.  Wouldn't that aid students as well?

      •  I agree with you, but (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Va1kyrie
        How does the teachers' union control entrance to the profession?

        PSEA/NEA is on record with being against alternative certification measures because if I can hire a 50 year old to teach for 15 years and then do it a 2nd time, it'll be cheaper than hiring a 22 year old to teach for 35 years.

        Alternative certification drive down salary.

      •  What capitalism tells us (0+ / 0-)

        "doesn't capitalism tell us that if teachers were paid four times as much we'd have better teachers."

        Not really. If teachers were a scarce resource, then presumably a natural market would drive salary costs up. But there have rarely been teacher shortages—although we do now create shallow artificial shortages through barriers such as taking education courses and requiring (IMO, often irrelevant) certifications.

        •  Can't believe I'm arguing this one... (0+ / 0-)

          since I don't really think capitalism (or simple economics) is the model that describes why some people choose to teach, but:

          In this model, we're artificially raising the the equilibrium price (the wage).  The demand curve moves up, giving us a greater supply of applicants.  Presumably, administrators can then choose better teachers from the wider pool of applicants and leave the "bad" teachers unemployed.  

          I submit the alternate theory which is that if you quadruple teacher salaries, the teaching profession would then be filled by the "bad" doctors and lawyers who decided to become doctors and lawyers for the pay scale but who think teaching is easier.  They'd be hired because their applications would come on fancier paper.

    •  B.S. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elfling

      Oh, I admit that I toyed with the idea of going into investment banking or some position where I could lie about mortgages and financial instruments.  I gave some thought to being the CEO of some loathsome parasitic enterprise.  I entertained fantasies of several varieties of get rich quick schemes.

      Then I realized that those were for suckers.

      I went into education, where the real big bucks are!  Oh yeah, easy street, a sinecure where I care about no one and nothing and just watch the money roll in.

      For what is the crime of the robbing of a bank compared to the crime of the founding of a bank? - Brecht

      by Joe Hill PDX on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 09:19:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  NEA is out there advocating for the DREAM Act (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mostel26

      and AFT has been working on anti-bullying measures.

      I got to meet Lily Eskelsen of NEA and Randi Weingarten of AFT. They're both lovely, bright women who really care and speak passionately about kids.

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

      by elfling on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 09:25:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Without the union in NYC (and other places) (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mostel26

      -we would have more than 34 in a class.  I teach 170 kids every year.  Teaching administrators have no limits and only teach 2 classes and often have 40.  170 each day is tough, 200 would be impossible.  (Of course there are exemptions to the class size and I have taught 50 kids in a classroom built for 34.  Kids sat on the floor.  They took tests on the floor.)

      -we would have no heat.  The working conditions for teachers requires it, therefore my students don’t freeze.  Think I’m being silly, there is only a required minimum temperature, no maximum.  Some classrooms reach temps of over 100 degrees and there is no air conditioning in many schools.

      -we require safety.  I know several schools that had to call in the union because chemicals for chemistry were not being stored properly.  The chemistry teachers were worried.  The Principals did nothing until the union people walked in.  

      Those are just three.   Would you want that for your kids?  I would think you would want me to know them and have time to help them.  I would think you would want them to be physically comfortable and safe. That’s in my UNION CONTRACT.

  •  Grading the educational "system" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mostel26

    While I think this blog provides an interesting analysis, to give an overall letter grade to the educational system is next to meaningless.  To even grade your local school is not very meaningful (especially when your experiences are 10+ years prior).  

    Grading individual teacher's performance in specified classes, however, would be useful.  I would like to see parents get this opportunity.  I would give most of my kids' teachers an A or B, but about 20% would get a D or F.  Those are the ones that people resent having their kids endure year after year (most of them have been around a long time), and teachers' unions hurt themselves, and teachers' reputations in general, by protecting them, or even refusing ro admit they exist.

    •  I'll post again (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Be Skeptical, elfling

      somebody said this:

      Can you tell me there is not at least 1 fellow teacher at your school who is not doing justice to the students, who is not really doing the job well? The current system, with the help of the teachers protects those teachers.

      and that relates to your following incorrect statement

      teachers' unions hurt themselves, and teachers' reputations in general, by protecting them, or even refusing ro admit they exist.

      so my answer again on here is

      You're laying the blame for that in the wrong spot. No union teaching contract protects bad teachers from being fired WITH due process. You need to blame lazy, job-hopping, and/or over burdened with standardized test management members of administration for not moving bad teachers out of the classroom.

      If an administrator cares to be in their job long enough to follow proper protocols, firing poor teachers is easy. The father of one of my friends quite easily fired several recalcitrant members of a HS math department. He did his observations, put folks on improvement plans, and terminated them with cause as part of a unionized due process procedure.

      and unions will do things like:

      Unions do what?

      •  I would like to see this done more widely (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mostel26

        I like your response, and I read the Montgomery County article you linked to--sounds great.  I don't see much of that though, and unfortunately most teachers get extremely defensive when the topic of incompetent, lazy teachers is raised.
        And you are correct that many administrators shirk their responsibility.  But as a public employee myself, I am well aware how prolonged, and often futile, are most attempts to fire lousy employees.  Union protection of due process has been so lengthy and excessive, and the threat of wrongful termination or discrimination lawsuits so frightens management, that usuallly nothing is done, and the crappy employees continues to burden the rest of us, co-workers and taxpayers alike.

        •  We're not blocking this (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Be Skeptical
          I would like to see this done more widely

          I do as well. But

          incompetent, lazy teachers

          are the product of

          many administrators shirk their responsibility

          I can't speak for civil service jobs, but in teaching MANY of the worst teachers in school districts are hired due to nepotism and political favoritism. Admin won't move against those teachers and school boards won't cede control of the process to teachers (like the Montco MD system) because the political powers that be won't be able to stockpile the schools with their own hires.

          This statement is correct:

          unfortunately most teachers get extremely defensive

          but we do that when poor measures of teacher quality are used to define a teacher's work.

          Contrary political beliefs, lifestyles, and/or strong views of academic rigor far too often get teachers called lazy and incompetent.

  •  Parents are lying to cover their apathy (0+ / 0-)

    The polled parents do not want to admit that they really do not care enough about their kids to pay for them to attend good schools.

    Good schools are expensive. Lying on a poll is costless.

    •  Cognitive disonance (0+ / 0-)

      I don't think you're quite right.  Many parents care deeply, and many buy houses in neighbohhods beyond their means to get into the "good" public schhools.  They boast to their friends about local test scores and reputation, but of course the school is full ofthe children of dedicated parents.  
      When they realize that even these schoold can be mediocre, with good teachers but also lousy ones,with study plans frozen from the last decade, they have trouble admitting this.  It creates a state of cognitive disonance, and I think this poll result is a  good illustration of this.

  •  I'd like to see a poll correlate attitudes towards (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mostel26

    unions with attitudes about race.

    It seems to me that the only time most people see a "union" teacher is when there's a labor dispute being covered on local TV news.

    More often than not, that dispute takes place at a neglected inner-city school and the union leader behind the bank of microphones is Hispanic or African-American

    So - out in white, suburban TV-land, "teacher's unions" become associated with desegregation and "bad schools".

    TV News never misses a chance to portray union activists as "troublemakers" waving picket signs and shouting on the capitol steps rather than tending to their classrooms.

    Of course, nothing like that ever happens at the local school, and folks aren't even aware that their child's teacher even belongs to a union.

    Have you noticed?
    Politicians who promise LESS government
    only deliver BAD government.

    by jjohnjj on Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 08:02:19 PM PDT

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