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Another Plan the NEA Hates
Posted by: Dale Franks on Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney—who is also likely to be a contender for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, is taking on the teacher's union in his state with a new education plan.
The governor's bill seeks to upend the status quo in teacher pay and evaluation that has been written into collective bargaining agreements across the Commonwealth. Specifically, it would offer annual bonuses for teachers with a math or science degree who pass the teacher test in their subject, forgo tenure, and receive a satisfactory year-end evaluation. It would also make teachers in all subjects eligible for a bonus upon receiving an exemplary evaluation and empower superintendents to reward teachers who work in low-performing schools. Crucially, the bill would remove teacher evaluation from the collective bargaining process and establish statewide criteria for assessing each teacher's ''contribution to student learning."

While several states and districts nationwide are experimenting with differential pay for teachers, Romney's proposals are noteworthy for their breadth and the size of the proposed bonuses. All told, an effective math or science teacher could receive up to $15,000 a year in three bonuses.
So, Gov. Romney is fostering a plan that would treat teachers like other workers like...well...me. If they get a useful degree, they get a raise. If they get a nice evaluation, they get a raise. In fact, most of you reading this work for a company that has a similar method for rewarding workers who do well on the job.

The teachers' union, however, is less than impressed.
Catherine Boudreau, president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, predictably criticized Romney's proposals as ''inequitable, divisive, and ineffective." The MTA denounced the proposal as ''uniquely designed to destroy collegiality in a school"...
First, let's point out the conservative media bias in this story. The word "predictably" is an editorial comment, and has no place in the Boston Globe's—or any other newspaper's coverage. I'll make my own value judgments, thank you very much. I don't need a newspaper to provide it for me in a news story.

Still, I'd be hard-pressed to disagree with the characterization.

I'm especially tickled by the "uniquely designed to destroy collegiality". I couldn't care less about teacher collegiality. If the teachers are all holding hands and giving each other long, smoldering looks over their coffee cups, but the students aren't learning, then the teachers are miserable failures. If the teachers spit at each other in the faculty lounge and engage in fisticuffs during faculty meetings, but the kids graduate with the ability to read, write, and perform basic algebraic and geometric calculations, then the teachers are a success. Teachers carping about an irrelevancy like "collegiality" is like Germans complaining about losing WWII, even though their soldiers really had the coolest uniforms.

Carping about the "inequitable" nature of the proposals is also laughable. Life is inequitable. People who accomplish more, tend to get paid more. Real life is not a socialist paradise where all outcomes are equal. Indeed, even socialist paradises turned out not to work that way. Life is unfair. People who accomplish more, and who are more talented, get paid more money in real life. In the world outside the Teachers' union, that's how we all live.

But the real kicker is the complaint that the new plan is "ineffective". Heh. Yeah. Because all that teacher equity and collegiality are just doing a bang-up job of graduating well-educated students, aren't they?

The teacher's unions ought to be on their knees in thanks that I'm not in a position to propose an education plan of my own. Because my plan can be summed up in one word: privatization. I see no reason at all for us to maintain a state monopoly on education.

After all, as the Left constantly reminds us, monopolies are bad.
 
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The word "predictably" is an editorial comment, and has no place in the Washington Times’—or any other newspaper’s coverage. I’ll make my own value judgments, thank you very much. I don’t need a newspaper to provide it for me in a news story.
But do value judgements have a place in the Boston Globe? In the op-ed section?


Your link:

http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2006/03/29/taking_on_the_teachers_unions/
 
Written By: Aaron
URL: http://
Thanks, Aaron. Good catch.
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
I couldn’t care less about teacher collegiality.
Unless you envision each teacher as an island unto themselves, teamwork is crucial to successfully educating students. Students who do not have an intrinsic desire to learn (which is most of them) need to be encouraged to use common skills in all of their classes. Math teachers don’t just teach math, and reading teachers don’t just teach reading.

Additionally, no student is successful in any class if they don’t read well. I teach science and technology (and have degrees in science, math, and technology) and I struggle to get my students to be able to read and write, which is what is required on all standardized tests. Many of my students do very well designing and building various projects. These same students do poorly when reading or writing about those same concepts.

As I’ve stated previously, I have no problem with changing tenure laws and reworking pay scales. We need more qualified teachers in the areas of math and science. However, until students learn to read and write they will continue to fail every written test you give to them. Teachers must work together to integrate reading and writing strategies as well as math and science skills. Collegiality is important.

 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
People who accomplish more, and who are more talented, get paid more money in real life. In the world outside the Teachers’ union, that’s how we all live.
So when a student does well on a test, who gets the credit? If a student does poorly, which teacher gets the blame?
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
So when a student does well on a test, who gets the credit?
The student.
If a student does poorly, which teacher gets the blame?
The teacher.

Life is unfair. Deal with it.
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
It is the state’s responsibility to educate student, not run schools.
 
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
It is the state’s responsibility to educate student, not run schools.
It isn’t the state’s responsibility to do either. Thinking that it is, is the root of the problem.
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
From the article:

"Specifically, it would offer annual bonuses for teachers with a math or science degree who pass the teacher test in their subject, forgo tenure, and receive a satisfactory year-end evaluation. It would also make teachers in all subjects eligible for a bonus upon receiving an exemplary evaluation and empower superintendents to reward teachers who work in low-performing schools."

I’m going to take a wild guess, Dale, that you have not spent time teaching in a classroom. Take it from one who has: You know what gets a teacher a poor evalutation? Being demanding of students, being constructively critical of students, and not handing out grades that make the student feel good. You know what gets a teacher good reviews? Passing all students, being "nice" and generally getting along and appearing enthusiastic - however shallow you are. Indeed, this is especially true as the students get older, and the grades get more meaningful. A tough, demanding but good teacher who is sparing in handing out A’s is going to get bad reviews.
It isn’t the state’s responsibility to do either. Thinking that it is, is the root of the problem.
We are past muscle with this assertion. We have reached bone. The idea that America, i.e., the democratically elected government - has no responsibility to educate children who have absolutely no ability to control their destiny - they are truly helpless, after all - is truly Hobbesean. Conservatives say they are for opportunities, but not results. Public eduction creates opportunities, not results. You have a dark vision of the world.



 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
Because my plan can be summed up in one word: privatization. I see no reason at all for us to maintain a state monopoly on education.
You make no sense here. Those parents who home school would be surprised to hear that the state has a monopoly on education. Those who send their kids to private schools would be similarly surprised.

If you think you can open a school and make money at it, the government is hardly standing in your way. Of course, like most businesses, you do have to comply with certain laws. But to suggest that the government somehow has a monopoly on public education is so damm ridiculous.

You don’t even seem to undertand what a monopoly is. I googled the term - just to make it simple for you. Here is the first definition on google:

"A situation in which a single company owns all or nearly all of the market for a given type of product or service."

Not only does the government not "own" the education system, it doesn’t even own the right to control the education system. Even the most hard core liberal would concede that you can home-school your children. Indeed, many hard core leftists do home school their children.

Look, I basically agree with your ideas on immigration. But your ideas on public edcuation are, frankly speaking, third world. Weird.

 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
If a student does poorly, which teacher gets the blame?
The teacher.
Dale, the issue in the post is that some teachers should get better pay than others because "people who accomplish more, tend to get paid more" in the "real" world. So I ask again: If a student is able to read well enough to pass a standardized science test, which of the student’s many teachers should get the credit?
Life is unfair. Deal with it.
Actually, the way you present the current condition of teachers’ saleries, life is not unfair...you are supporting a change that you seem to claim will make it "unfair." I’m all for competition among organizations (school choice). However, teachers within a school must work together since they all affect the outcome of the products (the students). Therefore, which individual teacher deserves a bonus or the blame depending on the quality of the product?

In other words, on what basis are you going to determine that one teacher is "accomplishing more" than another teacher? "Teacher evaluations" performed by an administrator who watches you teach once or twice during the year isn’t going to cut it.

 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
I dream of the day in which both NEA’s are no more.
 
Written By: Kyle N
URL: http://
Mkultra,

Perhaps we should look to Europe and find a heavenly example of how education should be run. Belgium has great schools - government, private, parochial, charter, etc. "But," you say, "so do we." Yes, but in Belgium parents (rich or poor) get a choice which school to take their kids to.

In the US, if you are not wealthy enough, then no choice. Let me repeat, money = choice. The poor and much of the middle class do not have the choice and so they are forced to send their kids to failing government schools.

If each parent had the money to make the choice, they would choose the best schools. Then, parents would not send their kids to the poor schools. Poor schools go bye-bye. Hey, the poor (and everyone else) win because ALL the people could make a choice.

So, mkultra, you are somewhat correct. The government does not have a monopoly over everyone, just the middle class and poor. It is the same for every other government "service." The government doesn’t provide us with food or cell phones. Why should they provide education?
 
Written By: Nuclear
URL: http://
I love it when the shoemakers get into the act.

I suppose I should comment on the engineering field; albiet I’m not one. Ah, but education affects us all doesn’t it. Maybe that’s what makes it different.

First of all, don’t forget Belgium has a social welfare state that makes ours look like Haiti. The children there receive much better support, and they don’t have a large percentage of working poor. But, why focus on Belgium? Look at Denmark, Sweden, Norway with ed systems at least as good as Belgium. There they have strong teacher unions and public institutions. In Sweden the private schools are not allowed to charge tuition! There goes your profit motive.

The teachers are the easy scapegoats. No one looks at the parents and broader society neglecting equity for the poorer kids. In the affluent suburbs the public schools are, and have been doing, a good job. It’s in areas where socio-economic stresses that you will find failing schools. If the problem was public education and teachers unions, the kids in Scarsdale, NY and Lexington, MA wouldn’t be learning.

Privatization is good for some things. But, if you know history you will remember that most mass transit was private at one time. No one could make a profit so the governments had to take it over. Edison Schools have a miserable track record, sorry to inform you. A public voucher for $9,000 in NYC won’t buy you sh—. Where are the working poor going to get the extra money? Sure, we can cut back on Ed. bureaucracy, even teacher union bureaucracy where I teach in NYC. But, only
social and economic justice will improve the quality of education across the board. Not scams to bilk the taxpayer- your public subsidy for their private profit schemes.
 
Written By: a teacher, not a shoemaker
URL: http://
One more thing...

"It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge"
Albert Einstein, Socialist and co-founder of the American Federation of Teachers, Princeton, Nj.
 
Written By: a teacher, not a shoemaker
URL: http://
"However, teachers within a school must work together since they all affect the outcome of the products (the students)."
No. Individualized metrics of performance can be conducted, to suggest otherwise is silly. It is suggestive in you, JWG, of a NEA shill desperate to maintain the unnacceptable status quo.

Unless you pretend to seriously suggest the science student doing well because they can read effectively will also not pass a reading comprehension test, then you award the reading teacher for the reading test score, and the science tacher for the science test score.

That isn’t less fair, that’s more fair.
"Dale, the issue in the post is that some teachers should get better pay than others because "people who accomplish more, tend to get paid more" in the "real" world."
Your implicit question, "I’m all for competition among organizations (school choice)"? It answers itself.

Competition among institutions, and competition also among teachers. Let the stars soar and the cinders fall. Of course if there were school choice, then presumably there will be schools run along both models, and we’ll see which one does better.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
a teacher, not a shoemaker wrote:
"I love it when the shoemakers get into the act."
Not shoemakers, parents and employers, taxpayers. The people who are grading your collectively miserable performance to cost ratio, and are probably going to destroy or overly comfortable "collegiate" world inside a decade or two. Show a little humility, a$$.
"The teachers are the easy scapegoats. No one looks at the parents and broader society neglecting equity for the poorer kids."
No one’s talking about giving out smaller vouchers to poorer people.
"and they don’t have a large percentage of working poor."
They have higher unemployment, your point would be?
"It’s in areas where socio-economic stresses that you will find failing schools. If the problem was public education and teachers unions, the kids in Scarsdale, NY and Lexington, MA wouldn’t be learning."
There is a grain of truth to this. The result would be that the especially crappy teachers are concentrated in the "stress areas" where the parents are too stressed to care—but parents who do care still have a voucher with which to go to any school they choose, including potentially one where they can see at least the aggregate metrics of the teachers. So where’s the bad?
"No one could make a profit so the governments had to take it over."
Which means no one should be doing it at all.
"A public voucher for $9,000 in NYC won’t buy you sh—."
If NYC is such an expensive place to work, then it should experience an outflow of population until either local average wages make life possible for the remaining population, and/or the voucher needs to be higher in such high cost areas. This is not a hard question.

Why our national pride in NYC was so high that we bailed the city out is better question. Let the cities rise or fall on their own.
"But, only social and economic justice will improve the quality of education across the board."
Social justice is not possible. All injustice and justice are individual. Economic justice is a meaningless term. Economics happens, it is an irreducible aspect of human nature. It can never be prevented, delayed, or improved.

But I suppose someone who thinks in terms of social justice—false consciousness—can’t see that.
"Not scams to bilk the taxpayer- your public subsidy for their private profit schemes."
And if they don’t work, we remove their charter*—the way we are going to remove yours because you NEA types certainly aren’t working out for us either. *Caring parents taking their kids and fleeing a "scam" school would be automatic of course, in voucher-land.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Seriously "a teacher, not a shoemaker", the system you are laboring in wasn’t ever designed for social justice, it was designed close to 150 years ago by a Prussian general. Doesn’t that ever give you the willies?

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
It is suggestive in you, JWG, of a NEA shill desperate to maintain the unnacceptable status quo.
I have said before in these education discussions that I chose not to belong nor pay dues to the NEA. I do not support the NEA in any fashion.
Unless you pretend to seriously suggest the science student doing well because they can read effectively will also not pass a reading comprehension test, then you award the reading teacher for the reading test score, and the science tacher for the science test score.
1) Which reading teacher gets the credit? The one currently teaching the student or the one from the year before? What about the tutor who has been giving the student some extra help at the expense of the parent?

2) Which teacher gets the blame when the student can’t pass the science test? Did the student fail because he can’t read or because he doesn’t know science? Maybe he can’t read the textbook well enough to fully comprehend the explanations. Maybe the teacher does a great job exposing the student to hands-on experiences so that the student can verbally explain concepts, but the student can’t read or write well enough to pass a standardized test (this happens a lot with special education students). Are you going to reward the science teacher even though his students can’t pass the state test
desperate to maintain the unnacceptable status quo
Charging under the banner of "We Must Do Something!" you are in fact not helping the situation by pretending that student achievement can be divided into quantifiable segments allocated to specific teachers. School choice, on the other hand, will allow families to select schools that best meet the varying needs of students. If a group of grade-level teachers can’t function effectively to meet a student’s needs, then take your business elsewhere. But rewarding the AP Calculus teacher because all of his students do well while financially overlooking the math teacher who gets all the special education students because his students can’t pass any standardized tests doesn’t improve the system.

The function and achievement of the human mind cannot be successfully delineated into parcels measurable and identifiable to different teachers.

 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
>>Seriously "a teacher, not a shoemaker", the system you are laboring in wasn’t ever designed for social justice, it was designed close to 150 years ago by a Prussian general. Doesn’t that ever give you the willies?<<

I am all for ed reform. There are numerous models out there that work and are democractic. Little corporate schools, with their fascist ethos are not appropriate for any nation that wants to become democratic like the U.S..
 
Written By: a teacher, not a shoemaker
URL: http://
>>Social justice is not possible. All injustice and justice are individual. Economic justice is a meaningless term. Economics happens, it is an irreducible aspect of human nature. It can never be prevented, delayed, or improved.<<

If social justice is not possible, why do you give a s—t about public education?
 
Written By: a teacher, not a shoemaker
URL: http://
"If social justice is not possible, why do you give a s—t about public education?"

Public education can be pragmatic, the impossible cannot. Where did you receive your injection of pedagogy, that you think "social justice" is any part, let alone a main part of public education?

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
“The word "predictably" is an editorial comment…”

I’d argue it’s fact in this case.

****

Mkultra is correct that teachers who are popular based on personality, give out good grades, and have easy courses will get great evaluations from students and even from parents. There are many parents who are more concerned that their kid gets a good grade than if he learns anything.

But this merely supports the notion that everyone should have more educational choices. Students and parents who want easy schools can choose them while students and parents who want demanding schools can choose them. Then let each school decide best how to recruit, evaluate, and reward teachers who deliver their form of education.

****

“Not only does the government not "own" the education system, it doesn’t even own the right to control the education system.”

You’re being disingenuous. Sure you can choose a private school or to home school, but you still have to pay for the public school system even when you aren’t using it. It’s far harder to start private educational enterprises – whether for profit or not – when significant dollars that could be used for tuition are funneled by law into government education.

****

I agree with JWG that it isn’t easy determining who to credit for success and failure. I also agree that collegiality is important, within a single school. All the more reason to untether public funding for education and let people choose where to spend their education dollars. This will allow more private ventures to start with differing methods of education and teacher compensation that meet the needs of individuals who should be able to freely choose.


 
Written By: Unknown
URL: http://
Teacher, not a shoemaker -

Why do you assume that a private educational venture must be for-profit?

Why do you assume that the working poor will not have access to quality education if education is not funded by taxpayers anymore?

Do you assume that no one will care enough to create non-profit educational enterprises based on donations and grants? Do you assume that people must be forced to ’care’ via taxation?

Have you ever considered that because a large sum of tax dollars are already taken for public education that this is a barrier to experimentation and creative solutions to education’s challenges?

Have you ever considered that the large education bureacracy (state, federal, and unions) is a barrier to innovation and actually prevents children from reaching their potential?

The public education system has been operating a long time now and there is scant evidence that it’s doing much good for the working poor. If it was, why are so many of the working poor clamoring to have school choice? Do they just not know what’s best for themselves?

 
Written By: Unknown
URL: http://
If social justice is not possible, why do you give a s—t about public education?
I don’t. Happy?
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
Social justice is not possible. All injustice and justice are individual. Economic justice is a meaningless term. Economics happens, it is an irreducible aspect of human nature. It can never be prevented, delayed, or improved.

But I suppose someone who thinks in terms of social justice—false consciousness—can’t see that.
 
Written By: Ryan
URL: http://www.creditrelease.com

 
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