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  1. #41
    Senior Member Lateralus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lowtech redneck View Post
    As an average salary? Yes, particularly when it comes to striking for more pay during a period in time where its known that local governments everywhere are in dire financial straits. I find it extremely unlikely that a teacher cannot live a solidly middle-class lifestyle at $71,000 somewhere within reasonable commuting distance of any school in Chicago. A particulaly good math or science teacher* (areas where American students are notably deficient and which require majors that often lead to much higher-paying jobs elsewhere) might be exceptions (not that teacher's unions would allow for it), but even then its unclear if local governments could reasonably afford it.

    *this is not to denigrate other subjects-I majored in IR/Comparative, and I think civics and basic economics courses are in fact more important for most students, but I think supply and demand would naturally favor math and science teachers.
    The claim that they're striking for more pay seems a bit dubious to me given the conflicting reports on that issue. The articles DiscoBiscuit is linking promote that claim, but Ivy posted something that refuted that claim.
    "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. #42
    Senior Member lowtech redneck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lateralus View Post
    The claim that they're striking for more pay seems a bit dubious to me given the conflicting reports on that issue. The articles DiscoBiscuit is linking promote that claim, but Ivy posted something that refuted that claim.
    If they are striking primarily over other issues, they can make that explicit by removing salary disputes from their list of demands. I don't doubt that they are also opposing any reasonably objective means through which teacher performance can be evaluated (I understand that there's more to education than passing tests and that low performance is primarily due to the students themselves and their parents-but its the only objective standard out there and measures can be taken to account for cultural or socio-economic variables).

  3. #43
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lateralus View Post
    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.
    Not only are the results discussed in this article inconclusive, but the question is poorly defined. How large or small a class are we talking about? Certainly reducing class size from 30 to 27 will have little effect, but the Chicago district wants to allow classes as large as 50. Even considering that teachers do a significant part of their work in the evenings and on weekends, their time is limited. The assignment grading alone for a class of 50 (or even 35) takes much more time than for a class of 20. It is unmanageable to assign essays, projects, worked-out problems, or designs to such a large class, especially in middle and high schools where teachers may teach up to 6 classes. But these are the kinds of assignments that challenge students to think, and to develop their own creativity. Substitution of multiple-choice and fill-in-the-blank style assignments out of logistical necessity, or the inability to provide meaningful feedback on open-ended assignments, is just one obvious example of how large class sizes impact the quality of education.

    Interestingly there is broad consensus that class size matters in the preschool environment. Most states have strict regulations on teacher-child ratios in these environments. Yes, as children get older they are able (one hopes) to work more independently and with less supervision. This follows into middle and high school to the extent that a child meets this description. The nature of the public school, however, is that they have to take all comers, some of whom have learning or behavioral issues, or are just ill-suited to the environment. A smaller class means that the teacher has more time to help these students overcome their individual issues. If this is not evident in the studies conducted, then I would question the design of the study. It is notoriously difficult to control and isolate variables and to demonstrate reproducibility in a field that is so diverse and subjective.

    One of the most ridiculous claims emanating from teachers unions is the persistent idea that teaching abilities can't be quantified in any meaningful way as it relates to merit. Somehow, every other profession on the planet - including teaching at the college level - finds ways to assess and reward good performance.
    Other professions attempt to assess and reward good performance, but many of these systems are flawed as well. I know quite a few university professors, and can see the politics and popularity contest aspect in that system. My own first advisor was essentially hounded out of the university by more senior faculty who felt upstaged by how successful he was.
    Quote Originally Posted by lowtech redneck View Post
    If they are striking primarily over other issues, they can make that explicit by removing salary disputes from their list of demands. I don't doubt that they are also opposing any reasonably objective means through which teacher performance can be evaluated (I understand that there's more to education than passing tests and that low performance is primarily due to the students themselves and their parents-but its the only objective standard out there and measures can be taken to account for cultural or socio-economic variables).
    It is a standard bargaining technique to ask for more than you really want, so you have things you can give up in the interests of compromise. When the teachers' union sees a partial concession from management on something important to them, they will likely concede on these other items. If someone could devise an objective and accurate means of evaluating teacher performance, most teachers would support it. An evaluation system based on factors that make poor indicators of teacher performance will certainly be opposed.
    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...

  4. #44
    can't handcuff the wind Z Buck McFate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by from article posted
    So what's the sticking point? In exchange for the salary increase, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and others are insisting that standardized test scores play some role in evaluating teachers and that school principals be given more power to run their schools the way they want to. Teachers say they don't have enough control over their students' socioeconomic situations to be judged on what they teach kids. Responds a union official:
    "Evaluate us on what we do, not the lives of our children we do not control," [union head Karen] Lewis said in announcing the strike.
    Come on. Nobody - even Rahm Emanuel, a man about as heartwarming as a bloody stool - is suggesting that teahers be held accountable for poverty, crime, you name it. But it certainly can't be that complicated to come up with a way of benchmarking student progress that takes into account the effect of specific teachers. One of the most ridiculous claims emanating from teachers unions is the persistent idea that teaching abilities can't be quantified in any meaningful way as it relates to merit. Somehow, every other profession on the planet - including teaching at the college level - finds ways to assess and reward good performance.

    This presumes that poverty can't have a drastic effect on a child’s performance in school, as if their home life- and all the stresses their parents are under, how much focus parents have energy to pour into their children’s schoolwork, not to mention how the attitude in general of the ‘importance’ of schoolwork from peers and adults in their environment effects how much energy children pour into schoolwork themselves- has little or nothing to do with the performance in school.

    And as far as college level professors getting evaluated- I know I’ve read about college level professors having issues with the way student evaluations effect the way they teach. Student evaluations effect whether or not they get tenure or advance, so they feel pressured to taking an approach that makes students like them more (and being easier on grades so students don’t hold grudges).

    Quote Originally Posted by from article posted
    We evaluate doctors. Why not Chicago teachers?
    To compare this to doctors being evaluated is a blatant demonstration of ignorance regarding the issues that specifically surround standardized testing. The tangible results of physical health are far more ‘objectively’ quantifiable than those in education. It’s almost like saying “My hammer works to put nails into wood- so why can’t I use it on screws?”

    Quote Originally Posted by from article posted
    New research funded by the U.S. Department of Education, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and others shows that teacher evaluation can improve learning when it is done intelligently. That means supplementing test scores with seasoned judgment from independent evaluators and providing teachers with detailed, personalized feedback that they can use to do their jobs better.
    It’s been a while since I’ve read anything on the advancements, to see what is meant by “when it is done intelligently.” And I don’t have time right now to look into it for the sake of the argument. I just know from the experience of dealing with my son’s teachers while he was growing up (he’s now 18) that there is *a lot* of pressure on teachers and schools to get high scores on these standardized tests and it eclipses the actual focus of teaching. It’s creepy- when you actually see it going on- how there’s a mentality (that the ‘goal’ of teaching is to get high standardized test grades) which pervades their focus so much they can’t see the forest through the trees. So I’m skeptical this “when it is done intelligently” really does an effective job of curtailing the problem. I’d have to read more about it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lateralus View Post
    The claim that they're striking for more pay seems a bit dubious to me given the conflicting reports on that issue. The articles DiscoBiscuit is linking promote that claim, but Ivy posted something that refuted that claim.
    Exactly.
    Reality is a collective hunch. -Lily Tomlin

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  5. #45
    Senior Member Lateralus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post
    Not only are the results discussed in this article inconclusive, but the question is poorly defined. How large or small a class are we talking about? Certainly reducing class size from 30 to 27 will have little effect, but the Chicago district wants to allow classes as large as 50. Even considering that teachers do a significant part of their work in the evenings and on weekends, their time is limited. The assignment grading alone for a class of 50 (or even 35) takes much more time than for a class of 20. It is unmanageable to assign essays, projects, worked-out problems, or designs to such a large class, especially in middle and high schools where teachers may teach up to 6 classes. But these are the kinds of assignments that challenge students to think, and to develop their own creativity. Substitution of multiple-choice and fill-in-the-blank style assignments out of logistical necessity, or the inability to provide meaningful feedback on open-ended assignments, is just one obvious example of how large class sizes impact the quality of education.

    Interestingly there is broad consensus that class size matters in the preschool environment. Most states have strict regulations on teacher-child ratios in these environments. Yes, as children get older they are able (one hopes) to work more independently and with less supervision. This follows into middle and high school to the extent that a child meets this description. The nature of the public school, however, is that they have to take all comers, some of whom have learning or behavioral issues, or are just ill-suited to the environment. A smaller class means that the teacher has more time to help these students overcome their individual issues. If this is not evident in the studies conducted, then I would question the design of the study. It is notoriously difficult to control and isolate variables and to demonstrate reproducibility in a field that is so diverse and subjective.
    I agree with most of what you've said here. There is also a broad consensus that class size matters for kindergarten and first grade. It is after this point that the consensus dissolves.

    The Chicago district wants to allow classes as large as 50? Which classes? All of them? Or are they planning on holding some university-style lectures?
    "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."

  6. #46
    Strongly Ambivalent Ivy's Avatar
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    Large classes require a more lecture-oriented teaching style. That may work fine for middle/high school but I don't see how it's at all productive for elementary aged students, even beyond K-1. Most kids that age need to move, experience, experiment, and learn hands-on. How is a teacher with 35-40 (or 50, OMG I can't even imagine!) students supposed to facilitate that, manage behavioral issues, connect personally with every student, and so on? That's not based on anecdotal evidence, just a basic working knowledge of child development.

  7. #47
    Senior Member Lateralus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ivy View Post
    Large classes require a more lecture-oriented teaching style. That may work fine for middle/high school but I don't see how it's at all productive for elementary aged students, even beyond K-1. Most kids that age need to move, experience, experiment, and learn hands-on. How is a teacher with 35-40 (or 50, OMG I can't even imagine!) students supposed to facilitate that, manage behavioral issues, connect personally with every student, and so on? That's not based on anecdotal evidence, just a basic working knowledge of child development.
    That's why I asked which classes. A class size of 50 makes no sense for elementary school. But if that is referring to something like a high school math class, then it's not so unreasonable.
    "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. #48
    Strongly Ambivalent Ivy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lateralus View Post
    That's why I asked which classes. A class size of 50 makes no sense for elementary school. But if that is referring to something like a high school math class, then it's not so unreasonable.
    No, not for a subject that requires lecturing. Something like English lit that should really be discussion oriented, though, I can't see every student being served in a class of 50.

  9. #49
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    I quote major news publications and link to the article for a reason...

    I try to stick with what I consider trustworthy sources.

    The people that write these articles are paid to give their opinions, by people who know the difference between quality and bullshit.

    Now we can sit here all day and argue about how to evaluate achievement. And I bet you would never agree to whatever I could come up with.

    But can you argue with the contention that we should evaluate teachers?

    You can make cost of living arguments all you want, but I don't see private sector employees getting enough to live by themselves just because they happen to live in the big city, or because they had to get a degree(s).

    We just don't have the money to do this.

    In a rock and a hard place situation where the government is the rock, things usually don't go so well for the hard place.

  10. #50
    can't handcuff the wind Z Buck McFate's Avatar
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    I know the criticism I posed isn’t particularly constructive. I’m not familiar enough with the specific details of this situation- like I said, I haven’t looked into the specifics of “when it is done intelligently” advances that have been made since looking into it years ago, nor have I done any research (outside of reading several articles since this strike started) specifically on this situation- so I don’t have a position on whether or not these teachers have just cause to strike and put school on hold like this. I just know that one of the big issues surrounding this strike is the approach taken to evaluate them- and from what I’ve read on the matter previously (which is quite a bit, standardized testing is counterproductive) I’m inclined to believe they probably have good reason to protest. There needs to be a major overhaul in the way teachers are evaluated. This is nothing new, this debate has been going on for a long time- and it takes events such as this one to create the pressure to find new ways to evaluate which are actually productive.

    And though I really don’t know enough to have a firm position, it does seem rather sensationalistic for so many articles to keep stressing (and exaggerating about) the pay increase demands when I’ve read in a few places that the pay increase is actually not the straw that broke the camel’s back here.
    Reality is a collective hunch. -Lily Tomlin

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