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  1. #21
    Senior Member Lateralus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    Are politicians the best paid?
    In many states, the highest paid public employees are coaches for collegiate sports teams. Here's one example:

    http://blogs.courant.com/uconn_mens_...state-emp.html

    Keep in mind, Calhoun and Auriemma are great coaches, but they're still state employees.
    "We grow up thinking that beliefs are something to be proud of, but they're really nothing but opinions one refuses to reconsider. Beliefs are easy. The stronger your beliefs are, the less open you are to growth and wisdom, because "strength of belief" is only the intensity with which you resist questioning yourself. As soon as you are proud of a belief, as soon as you think it adds something to who you are, then you've made it a part of your ego."

  2. #22
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    Nick Saban made 4.8 mill this year

  3. #23
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    From CNN:

    Strike shows teachers' new political foe: austerity



    (CNN) -- When I read a headline that said thousands of teachers had gone on strike, my immediate reaction was, "What has Scott Walker done now?"

    But, surprisingly, the latest elected official to do battle with a public-sector union isn't the Republican governor of Wisconsin. It's Rahm Emanuel, the Democrat mayor of Chicago and President Obama's former chief of staff. The struggle is significant because it challenges the orthodox narrative. It isn't just tea party Republicans who are tangling with unions. Democrats are getting pulled into war with their old allies, too.

    In the popular imagination, Chicago is a heartland of New Deal liberalism, a place where even the dead vote Democratic. For decades, the city machine has bought off unions with sweetheart deals. Emanuel tried to do something different. He wanted to introduce merit pay and an extended school day, and there was every sign that he'd get both because the local teachers' union required the support of 75% of its members to authorize a strike. But Emanuel didn't bet on the anger of rank-and-file teachers; 90% voted to walk off the job.

    The union sees itself as part of a wider struggle on behalf of the middle-class, holding the line against economic dinosaurs and the quislings of big business. Not only is it harder to make that argument against a Democratic mayor, but there's also evidence that Chicagoans are not getting value for their money from the public school system. According to figures from the U.S. Census, the average resident makes about $47,000 a year, while the average teacher gets paid $76,000 a year. (Union sources place the figure at around $71,000, which is still the second highest in the country.)

    Given how well they get paid, you might imagine that Chicago's schools are international centers of excellence. Sadlly, according to a report from the Washington Post, "Fourth-graders in Chicago performed an average of nine points worse than the big city average and 16 points worse than the national average on the math section of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the national gold standard for measuring learning."

    So is Emanuel -- known by Chicagoans as "the Missile" -- the real champion of middle-class tax payers? Yes and no. To buy the strikers off, he offered them a 16% pay increase over the next four years, even though Chicago's school system faces a $667 million deficit this year, which is predicted to hit $1 billion in 2013. The union turned the offer down, and Emanuel looks weak.

    The strike probably won't affect the presidential election. Illinois is going to vote for Obama, and teaching unions contribute roughly 95% of their donations to Democrats. But this strike isn't an isolated story of a lone liberal taking on the teachers. On the contrary, it follows a national pattern.

    The headline teaching union battles have mostly been with Republicans: Gov. Scott Walker in Wisconsin and Gov. Chris Christie in New Jersey. But some Democrats are taking up the cause of education reform, too, to the frustration of labor activists. Obama has endorsed the Race to the Top program, which links teachers' evaluations to SAT scores and would allow charter schools to replace failing public schools.

    Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa backed school privatization and has gone so far as to call teaching unions an "unwavering roadblock to reform." Newark, New Jersey, Mayor Cory Booker has supported Christie's program of school reform. Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick endorsed a measure that curbed teachers' seniority programs. One result has been that in some races, teaching unions have backed friendly Republicans over reform-minded Democrats.

    Why are Democrats doing this? As in Chicago, a large part of the reason is that they want to link merit and pay to improve test results for middle-class students -- a great issue to run for election on. But another cause is probably the recession. Like their Republican counterparts, Democrats are being forced to confront the unions to bring teachers' pay and benefits back down to a sustainable level, or at least a level that won't require job-killing tax hikes.

    News: Chicago strike could influence teacher accountability debate

    There are exceptions. Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley has tried to pass the cost of teachers' pensions onto the counties rather than significantly reduce them. No wonder he is so popular with their unions.

    It's unlikely that either Republican or Democratic politicians really want these bitter fights with teachers, which leave schools closed and make elected officials look either radical or incompetent. But America's sluggish economy has forced both parties to take bold, unpalatable decisions.

    As Emanuel is famous for saying, "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste" -- and the most imaginative officials have tried to use budget cutting as an opportunity to improve test scores and retire bad teachers. For that, they deserve the praise of the tax payer. Nevertheless, the reforms are ultimately compelled by economic realities beyond everyone's control. These days, austerity isn't just a tea party slogan. It's an inescapable necessity.

  4. #24
    Filthy Apes! Kalach's Avatar
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    I'm going to go ahead and guess no one has defined teaching yet.

    Actually, what do teacher contracts say? Something like the following, right? "The teacher shall perform assigned duties in the schools of the school district for the period indicated below. [Job performance shall emphasize teacher accountability and student achievement"

    If you were going to get someone to create and manage a foundation for the productivity of 20-30 employees, and you were deciding salaries in terms of the lies the modern US manager class uses to justify their radically improved conditions compared say to 10 or 20 years ago, how much would you offer? I don't care. I'm just pointing out there's too many lies.

    TOO MANY LIES, LADIES! TOO MANY.

    Teacher accountability absolutely requires a context. How much is accountability reduced if say your school management creates an inadequate teaching environment? what is an adequate teaching environment? What thoughtless goals are you having your environment and staff aim at today? Why are you expecting teachers to manage your problems as well as manager their students? You don't even know what teaching is good for.

    Etc.

    Nothing to do with Chicago.
    Bellison uncorked a flood of horrible profanity, which, translated, meant, "This is extremely unusual."

    Boy meets Grr

  5. #25
    Senior Member Beargryllz's Avatar
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    Pay a decent wage, avoid strike

  6. #26
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Both articles are short on verifiable facts and long on baseless assertions.

    But negotiating in public shouldn’t be about tilting the field one way or the other. It should be about moving important education issues into the light of day. At least then, citizens could get a full understanding of what’s behind the drama in places like Chicago and Douglas County.
    Would the public be allowed to comment, or just observe? I'm all for transparency, but holding negotiations could easily turn the proceedings into a circus. There is probably already more heat than light in the discussions behind closed doors. What we need is for cooler, more objective heads to prevail, and unfortunately the public is unlikely to provide them. Parents and others in the community inject needless emotion into such discussions. It would be ideal to have a civil discussion in public view, but I'm not sure what moderator would be up to the task.

    Quote Originally Posted by cafe View Post
    The purpose of any labor union is to promote the best interests of the laborers. The UAW doesn't strike to improve the experience of the people that buy the cars they build and Teamsters don't lobby to improve the economic climate for manufacturers and merchants. The teacher's union is supposed to work towards getting the best compensation and working conditions for teachers they can get. That seems to be what's going on. I would imagine the cost of living is pretty high in Chicago, though I've never lived in a city that big. I don't think it hurts to pay a teacher enough to support a family of four in reasonable comfort where they work and live. I want my kids' teachers to be well-compensated and I want them to love their jobs.

    Charter schools, "accountability," and performance pay are often not-so-thinly veiled attempts to funnel public money into private pockets. Often the pockets in question are quite deep. I do not like the move toward privatizing schools or most other public entities, for that matter. I don't think adding a third profit-motivated party is the best way to improve services or save money. There are reforms that can be made. We can learn from education models that work in other countries. However, as long as we aren't willing to address the inequities in our current system and invest in education like we really mean it, it isn't going to happen.
    Very well explained. I would add, though, that while teachers' unions do promote the best interests of their members, they also have some of the spirit of the old trade guilds, in ensuring that the profession adheres to certain standards and delivers a quality product. Simplistic analyses of teacher contract disputes focus on salary increases and tenure requirements. Teachers put as much if not more value, however, on reduced class sizes and other improvements in the working environment that enable them to be more effective. In the Chicago case, teachers oppose the introduction of an evaluation system based on standardized test scores, expansion of charter schools, and allowing public school buildings to fall into disrepair. The proposed evaluation system would encourage even more teaching to the test, and not accurately reflect the accomplishment of individual teachers due to the inherent disparity in student ability and circumstances, especially in a large urban district like Chicago. The proliferation of privately run charter schools has led to a two-tiered system in which resources are funneled to charter schools attended by the better students, while the rest of the system goes without.

    The situation is far more complex than most media coverage represents. Obviously, the school district is trying to economize, but teacher salary is not the place to be stingy. By this I mean not that they need to pay teachers more, but rather that they need to pay (hire) more teachers and classroom aides, to bring the class sizes down so students get more attention. This is one of the few measures that actually does improve student performance.

    Quote Originally Posted by Beargryllz View Post
    Pay a decent wage, avoid strike
    Bring down class sizes, fix the buildings, encourage innovation in the regular schools (not just charters), and come up with an evaluation system that is accurate and fair. Most teachers I know (and I know alot) would give up the pay increase if they could get all of that.
    I've been called a criminal, a terrorist, and a threat to the known universe. But everything you were told is a lie. The truth is, they've taken our freedom, our home, and our future. The time has come for all humanity to take a stand...

  7. #27
    Senior Member Lateralus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post
    Bring down class sizes, fix the buildings, encourage innovation in the regular schools (not just charters), and come up with an evaluation system that is accurate and fair. Most teachers I know (and I know alot) would give up the pay increase if they could get all of that.
    The data on whether or not smaller class sizes improve education is conflicting and/or inconclusive. I know this isn't intuitively satisfying, but you can't argue with the data (unless you want to dismiss some of it because you don't like the conclusions drawn from it), and there is mountains of it.

    http://educhatter.wordpress.com/2012...dent-learning/
    "We grow up thinking that beliefs are something to be proud of, but they're really nothing but opinions one refuses to reconsider. Beliefs are easy. The stronger your beliefs are, the less open you are to growth and wisdom, because "strength of belief" is only the intensity with which you resist questioning yourself. As soon as you are proud of a belief, as soon as you think it adds something to who you are, then you've made it a part of your ego."

  8. #28
    Strongly Ambivalent Ivy's Avatar
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    Smaller school size would be at least as helpful, IMO. Maybe even smaller district size. Around here, at least, the larger schools and districts are rife with problems. Education is one of those things that (I think) works best on a small scale- since, when you get right down to it, the most important things are the individual children and their learning. The smallest scale of all. I like the idea of having some broad guidelines/baselines set at a macro level and then having the individual communities respond in the way that best suits their specific population. With access to help if they need it.

  9. #29
    Strongly Ambivalent Ivy's Avatar
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    Perspective from a Chicago teacher.

    WHAT'S HAPPENING IN CHICAGO RIGHT NOW
    by Michael Rusin, History Teacher

    I think that it's important that I share a bit about what's happening in Chicago right now. For the past two days, Chicago teachers have gone on strike for a variety of issues. Unfortunately, media reporting on the lead-up to the strike itself was terribly ignorant of the major issues--especially considering negotiations have been happening for 9 months-- and was in large part biased against the Chicago Teacher's Union. Read about this issue in the news media with a careful eye: this is a strike about the future of public education in the U.S.

    Here are some of the reasons we are striking in no particular order:

    1. COMPENSATION

    No one wants to hear about teacher compensation. However, Chicago teachers were mandated to work a longer school day and year-- for high schools: about 20 minutes longer than the typical LA school, and about 10 more days a year. This longer day and year came one year after the school board decided not to pay teachers a 4% raise that they were CONTRACTUALLY obligated to pay, and then literally the next month turned around and started offering raises to individual teachers and schools that "volunteered" to work a longer day. Importantly, while teachers are extraordinarily upset about the way the longer day and year played out, the Union and District have almost come to an agreement over teacher compensation. If you've read about it in the news, it has been reported as a 16% raise over the course of 4 years. However, the actual raise they are offering is 2.25% a year for four years. If you do the math that adds up to 9%. Where are they getting the other 7%? No one knows, but the mayor said it to reporters, so now that's what's getting reported. However, I want to emphasize that compensation will be worked out and is not currently the primary issue in dispute.

    2. TEACHER EVALUATION

    Illinois passed a state law requiring [only the city of] Chicago to implement a new evaluation system. It required that the union and district work together to create it, but that if they could not come to an agreement-- the district could just implement its own final offer. This has led to an evaluation system that has some good aspects: it does a much better job of creating an objective criteria for "good" teaching. But it also has some terrible aspects. For example, the current rubrics would rate teachers on a 1 - 4 scale (with 4 being the highest). Teachers would then be rated 1 - 4 on four different components and those scores would be averaged together to create an overall evaluation score. Teachers that receive the lowest rating two years in a row not only can be fired, but they will lose their teaching license. While teachers agree that schools should have a right to fire "bad" teachers, the current rubrics state that if you score a 2 (considered basic) on all four components, then you are actually rated a 1. As a comparison, imagine that I graded an essay on 4 components and scored each component as a "C", but then made the overall essay grade a "D". Doesn't make sense, right?

    Another problem with the system is that the criteria for category 4 (distinguished) teaching describe good teaching, but they are so stringent that they are almost impossible to achieve. For example, in the component on classroom management, if you have a student that disrupts class, and you deal with the disruption to get the student back on track, you are rated as a 3. You can only be rated as a 4 if you never have any students that are disruptive. This assumes that teachers have total control over all students at all times. To me, effectively dealing with disruptive students IS distinguished teaching, especially when working with students that are not intrinsically motivated. There are myriad other issues with the current proposals, but [the primary issue is that] teachers see a future where the state/district will demand that teacher pay be tied to evaluations. If we allow the district to create an evaluation system that is rigged to rate all teachers as mediocre, it will allow them to justify freezing or cutting our salaries, or even firing teachers whenever they like.

    In addition, the district wants to tie teacher evaluation to student standardized testing. To do this, in my school, of the 10 additional days in the school year, 7 of them will be used to give students standardized tests. For 11th graders, this test is the practice and real ACT, so it is significant. For students in other grades, they are all practice tests. So, teachers will be evaluated on student test scores that will mean nothing to the majority of students. Also, the district asked teachers to create what they call "Performance Tasks," which are standardized tests to be given in an individual classroom. While teachers helped to develop these tasks, the district method of grading the tasks is designed to rate all teachers as mediocre. The grading system ranks students on a 0 - 3 scale (with 3 being the highest). Teachers will be evaluated based on whether or not students move up in the 0-3 scale. The US history task (which is similar to a DBQ) is graded out of 30 points such that a 28-30 counts as a 3, an 18-27 counts as a 2, a 8-17 counts as a 1, and below that is a 0. In this case, a student could score an 18 the first time he takes the test, and a 26 the next time he takes it (improving from a 60% to an 87%) but for the purposes of evaluating his teacher that student will not be considered "improved."

    3. TEACHER RECALL

    The school district plans to close 100 "underperforming" schools over the next several years and replace them with new schools and charters. This is nothing new in Chicago. For the past 8 years, CPS has closed over 100 schools, fired all the teachers, and re-opened them as new schools and charters. To the surprise of no one, the vast majority of the new schools and charters that were opened scored THE SAME as the previous schools. Then why close neighborhood schools and force kids to travel to different areas of the city to go to school...? To fire experienced teachers that earn a higher salary, and replace them with inexperienced teachers that make less money. Since this is the goal of these new schools, is it any surprise that they are not outperforming the old schools? The Union wants a system in place so that if the district decides to close schools, the teachers that get fired (through no fault of their own) have the first opportunity to get the new jobs that open.

    4. CLASS SIZE

    CPS wants to avoid putting language in a contract that limits the amount of students in a class. Instead, they want to have the right to raise class sizes if they need to. The Union wants language in a contract that limits class sizes to 28 kids per class.

    5. WORKING CONDITIONS

    Lots of schools in Chicago are ill equipped for the 21st century. They lack libraries, computer labs, and even air conditioning. For example, last week it was 94 degrees in my classroom. This was not an anomaly [and yes, teachers buy and bring in fans]! This happens regularly when it is close to summer time. The Union wants the district to fix these problems.

    There are other issues that we are fighting for, but I need to stop there. If you read most articles about the strike you will not read in any detail about the reasons why Chicago teachers are unhappy about compensation, evaluation, and recall - so please consider this and SHARE what I wrote. We are on strike because we refuse to accept a system where the mayor can systematically lower scores on teacher evaluations in order to justify the privatization of education.

  10. #30
    Senior Member Lateralus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ivy View Post
    Smaller school size would be at least as helpful, IMO. Maybe even smaller district size. Around here, at least, the larger schools and districts are rife with problems. Education is one of those things that (I think) works best on a small scale- since, when you get right down to it, the most important things are the individual children and their learning. The smallest scale of all. I like the idea of having some broad guidelines/baselines set at a macro level and then having the individual communities respond in the way that best suits their specific population. With access to help if they need it.
    Thank you for demonstrating what I mean by "isn't intuitively satisfying".
    "We grow up thinking that beliefs are something to be proud of, but they're really nothing but opinions one refuses to reconsider. Beliefs are easy. The stronger your beliefs are, the less open you are to growth and wisdom, because "strength of belief" is only the intensity with which you resist questioning yourself. As soon as you are proud of a belief, as soon as you think it adds something to who you are, then you've made it a part of your ego."

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