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Teachers Tell Us Why They've Left The Classroom

With guest host John Donvan

Three dedicated teachers walked away from jobs they loved.  We’ll ask them why.

In this file photo, Ivan Silverberg teaches his American Studies class to eighth and ninth graders at the Niles North High School in Skokie, Ill., Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013. (AP)

In this file photo, Ivan Silverberg teaches his American Studies class to eighth and ninth graders at the Niles North High School in Skokie, Ill., Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013. (AP)

We put our children in their hands. That’s how much we trust school teachers.  But do we respect them? Do we give them the support they need, and the leeway to be the best teachers they can be? A surprisingly large numbers of teachers ultimately decide the answer is no, and they quit. Up to half give up within five years. The question is, why: how is it going so wrong for a profession that rests on at least a little idealism and a lot of passion. Because we do need them.  This hour On Point:  Three teachers, and why they walked away.

– John Donvan

Guests

Suzi Sluyter, kindergarten teacher in a Medford, MA private school. Former public school teacher.

Andrea Thibodeaux, former Louisiana Public School teacher.

Amanda Machado, former Teach for America teacher in California. Contributing writer at the Atlantic magazine. (@amandaemachado0)

Madeline Isaacson, incoming first-year first grade teacher at a public school in Washington state.

From The Reading List

The Atlantic: Why Teachers of Color Quit — “I joined the Bay Area corps after graduating Brown in 2010 and taught ninth-grade English at a charter school outside Oakland. Yet after finishing my two-year commitment, I realized that though my background may have brought me to teaching in the first place, it now had become one of the factors that drove me to quit the profession.”

National Education Association: Why They Leave — “Nationally, the average turnover for all teachers is 17 percent, and in urban school districts specifically, the number jumps to 20 percent, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. The National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future proffers starker numbers, estimating that one-third of all new teachers leave after three years, and 46 percent are gone within five years.”

Washington Post: ‘I have had enough’ – veteran teacher tells school board — “Teachers are not the bad guys here. You tell society that we have three months off in the summer and get off at 3:30 in the afternoon. Well, I can tell you for a fact that we work at least 10 months a year. What about all the teachers that either get to school early or stay late? We give up a lot of time for our school children- sometimes our students are getting more time than our families. What about all of us who still after 25 or more years, are working all day and then are working more hours at night?”

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  • JBK007

    Thrown in to an inner city job with no curriculum or teaching materials, I quit teaching after one year because of the unruliness and disrespect I received from the students, and the lack of support I was provided by the Administration to deal with it. I have huge respect for the teachers who stick it out and who make a difference in kid’s lives – after all, they are our future!

    • John Cedar

      Inner city? Is that Paul Ryan code words for something?

      Teaching in a classroom requires classroom management skill that a new teacher is unlikely to have, regardless of what job you were ‘thrown in to’.

      • James

        No that’s code for bad behavior. You should hear the stories I’ve heard from a friend who has several years experience

        • OrangeGina

          Bad behavior not always on the part of the students. Bad behavior includes administration that won’t support you and parents who do not support their kids education.

      • JBK007

        Inner city, as in poorer neighborhoods where there are predominantly single family households, where many of the parent(s) themselves are uneducated or don’t know English to be able to help their children with homework, where the parent(s) are working two or three part-time jobs to feed their kids so have no time to “parent” and therefore leave their kids in front of the TV or computers playing games, where kids are at risk of getting shot coming/going from school – therefore leaving the teaching, babysitting, mentoring and ultimately parenting to the teachers…

        • JBK007

          and, it is true that classroom management skills are crucial….as a new teacher, none were provided to me, so I had to rely on my previous career managing adults in the corporate and non-profit world; a completely different ball game!

  • Unterthurn

    Started teaching three years ago. And haven’t kept up with my favorite hobbies or TV series for the past three years, because so much time goes into my work for the classroom. Prep and grading are much more time consuming then others realize.
    Unfortunately the school administration for my first two years really didn’t give me the feeling they were on my side. Now at a new school with a better administration and loving it (otherwise I would have quit, too.)

    Also in my case the students are wonderful and eager to learn, but many colleagues are not so lucky.

  • http://alchemicalreaction.blogspot.com/ Alchemical Reaction

    More choice for consumers is always better… The same should go for education. There should be six or seven options for every student, at least until the best combination is found.

    1. Standard pubic school.
    2. Two course at a time accelerated public school.
    3. Charter school.
    4. Community Supported Education.
    5. Home School.
    6. Hybrid Home & Online School.
    7. Any combination of these.

    The feds should pay for subjects that are a national need, like STEM.
    States and local communities should pay for everything else at public schools.
    A binary system is needed.

    Public school should be set-up so homework is done DURING CLASS and lectures are watched on a screen at night.

    Solved.

    • Matt MC

      lol @ “solved”

      • http://alchemicalreaction.blogspot.com/ Alchemical Reaction

        lol “@”

    • Matt MC

      However, I do agree with some of your points. I went to an alternative school for two years, only went to class from 530 to 830 at night, and skipped a grade. I’m now finishing a PhD, so it worked out for me.

    • TFRX

      More charter school foolery.

      • http://alchemicalreaction.blogspot.com/ Alchemical Reaction

        Are you really too dim-witted, impatient, or narcissistic to consider my post on its own merits?

    • nlpnt

      What is this fetish with separate buildings and separate administrations to create the illusion of “choice”? A broader range of offerings in the one existing public school would offer more real choice since you could pick and choose what you want on a course-by-course basis rather than being locked into one of several as-is “products”.

      Unless you either want private companies to have greater opportunities to siphon off taxpayer money (if you think teachers’ unions are a tough lobby, wait until you have to deal with a for-profit school-industrial complex!), or don’t want your kids going to school with “those people”.

      • http://alchemicalreaction.blogspot.com/ Alchemical Reaction

        I don’t care what form it takes, as long as students have more choice.

        The reality is, with the rise of national online high schools, if brick and mortars don’t get their acts together, they won’t HAVE any students.

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    A crisis has been building for decades as accountability and respect have become hollow words in society. Parents ship undisciplined children off to school to learn by osmosis as they twitter, text and fritter their days away an then blame teachers when there genius offspring flunk math, history or English. They then look to charter schools as the miracle solution to ressurect their dreams of their children growing up to be successful professionals, clueless of the cherry picking of students and lack of accountability for charter and private schools that make them appear to be so much better than their lesser public counterparts. They don’t consider the costs of educating the developmentally challenged in their mental calculus. They don’t consider the impact of the physically, mentally and sexually abused children on the classroom or school system or school budget. They simply blame teachers and expect them to work more hours for less than car mechanics for the priviledge of teaching their kids.

    Heap on top of that the daily dose of ridicule and vitriol from right wing politicians with easy answers and Faux News bobble heads reading talking points from beltway strategists, is it any wonder that the benevolent dreams of serving by young teachers are destroyed by the malevolent machinations of manipulative power mongers?

    • John Cedar

      Even before you rambled off into left wing lunacy, blaming the children and parents who turn to charter schools, but then referring to the charter students as ‘cherry picked’ seems contradictory.

      • OrangeGina

        Cherry picking does happen in charter schools, private and religious schools. Which is why PUBLIC schools that cannot turn anyone away are so important.

        • John Cedar

          The schools don’t pick the cherries, the cherries pick the schools.

          Which makes this sound contradictory:
          “A crisis has been building for decades as accountability and respect have become hollow words in society. Parents ship undisciplined children off to school to learn by osmosis as they twitter, text and fritter their days away? Those parents then blame teachers when their genius offspring flunk math, history or English. They then look to charter schools as the miracle solution…”

          • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

            Oh contraire, they do reject students who don’t fit… http://mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSBRE91E0HF20130215?irpc=932
            The reality may vary from state to state, from district to district and school to school.

            The point is, politicians are demonizing teachers with lies and easy answers as they support privatization and dismantaling pf public edication, AND their supporters are all to happy to not look in the mirror and ask am I contributing to the problem and what can I do to help?

  • Matt MC

    Why do teachers quit? Perhaps, because they have been demonized by conservatives? I don’t blame them for quitting or for those that choose not to teach as a career. You know your priorities are out of whack when your scapegoat for society’s ills is a kindergarten teacher.

    • John Cedar

      I agree. {sniffle} I quit my teaching job because of Conservatives.

      • Radical___Moderate

        Nice. Liberals in education, and I am a teacher, are every bit as crazy, if not more crazy, than they say conservatives are. They live in a fantasy land where all are equal and everything is a conspiracy against their “Edu-topia.”
        Grow up and do your jobs. If you don’t like it, go back and play in grad school.

    • Jeff

      I don’t know anyone who demonizes teachers directly…usually it’s the union rules that people disagree with. I mean is it really so horrible that some people are asking for teacher accountability? Is it really impossible to create a good measurement to evaluate teachers and use that to determine a small amount of a teacher’s salary? These are things that are done with every single job in the private sector…why should teachers be immune from basic evaluation processes that are a part of every other job out there?

      • Matt MC

        I’ve had terrible teachers. I don’t disagree with accountability and rewards, but let’s not pretend like there was no vitriol directed at teachers, calling them “union thugs” and inciting hatred against them. If you’re that naive, then you’re not worth talking to. I’m guessing you’re not, but you probably won’t admit it here.

        • Jeff

          Seriously, the actual people in the real world do not treat teachers like that. Never once in my entire educational experience have I ever actually heard a teacher called a “union thug”. I should know, my dad was a teacher and my sister went through a teaching program in college. While there is some animosity towards the teacher union (rightfully so) there is very little directed towards the actual teachers.

          • OrangeGina

            Chris Christie has been filmed bullying a teacher in a public meeting. You must have missed that.

          • Jeff

            I saw that, I think Christie was correct with his conduct in that case…the teacher was basically regurgitating the union lines rather than thinking for herself.

          • Matt MC

            I went to the Act 10 protests in Wisconsin, and believe me, they called teachers much worse. I’ve heard conservatives call in to NPR of all places and call them union thugs. Pull your fingers out of your ears.

          • Jeff

            I’d love to hear that call in show in NPR where that happened…but in the end, was is warranted? Was a union high up member actually speaking on the radio or showing up in the protests? Isn’t that where we would expect that language…it’s similar to a union member calling a replacement worker a scab…yep, it happens in the emotional high places where laws are made. Once again I never saw it happen to a teacher in a school doing their job or in any PTA meeting in my life.

      • Sally Kuhlenschmidt

        W/re evaluating teacher work. I teach a college course in measurement and it is actually a special challenge to measure effectiveness in jobs that require application of judgment. It’s even hard to measure effectiveness in assembly line work–turns out there are many ways to measure “absence”, persons further back on the line impact those further along on the line…those sorts of problems are compounded for professional jobs– whose judgment is correct when there’s a disagreement? What factors should be considered? How much weight should be given to each factor? How is this context different from that one and how does that change what is measured and how it is weighted? Do we use a short-term, a long-term or a combination of outcomes as criteria? and what weighting? Most people think they know what “success” is and that it is “obvious” but it doesn’t take long (witness this long discussion) before disagreements surface. The extensive research on evaluating outcomes for professional work has reached the conclusion that there is no perfect method but involving the “measured” in the process seems to work better than top-down (or outside in) decrees. That’s a gross oversimplification so apologies to psychometricians. Humility when faced with the task of evaluating professions seems the wisest option. They work in changing environments with diverse people and varying demands.

        • Jeff

          Good questions, those should be discusses and calculated with input from all resources to come up with an appropriate equation. Me putting out a specific number removes teacher input in the evaluation system…just help come up with one with administration and school board. No, saying it’s too hard is not acceptable.

          • red_donn

            The trend of arguments which insist on establishing controls on things that are not well understood, particularly due to great complexity, is universally one of unintended consequences, and very often making the situation worse. As someone who displays a certain shade of American libertarianism, you can probably cite (at a drop of the hat) a good half-dozen examples in regards to the economy. I expect you will agree that the increasing use of standardized testing has been just as ham-handed as any economic measure that Congress has cooked up, providing you are familiar with the research around it.

            Calling for an authoritarian institution to, in essence, “just deal with” the problem without any real plan for how it should proceed, is a calling card of draconian and often totalitarian processes. So far, this is the general attitude of those who focus attacks on teachers, which creates in me a deep distrust. The basic assumption that I can draw out of this attitude is that the teachers are regarded as those who are to be distrusted and monitored by an institution which will have the real best interests of the children at heart, or at least fewer conflicts of interest. I see no reason why this should be the case, and indeed am more inclined to distrust large bureaucratic institutions than people who choose to teach children.

            Just to give some positive pushback, I’d suggest looking back at some of the Dewey schools for ideas of fostering improvements. It’s no coincidence that private schools sought out by discerning and well-to-do parents are more likely to have adopted similar measures.

      • John Cedar

        But those are things that are NOT done with any other job in the public sector.

        • Jeff

          So legislators don’t get evaluated on their performance and voted in or out of office? Contractors for the public sector aren’t hired and fired based on performance? Individual road construction workers aren’t hired and fired based on their performance? How about city engineers? How about the head of VA getting flak for bad performance? How about being discharged from the military? It does happen in the public sector, but it should all be compared to the private sector.

  • Jeff

    I think it’s the crazy union rules that keep starting teachers in poverty while teachers with seniority get a great deal. In my state and even my local high school a teacher with about 15 years of experience is making $70k/year+ (for a job where you work only 3/4 of the year), meanwhile the beginning teacher is struggling starting off around $30k/year. Maybe we just need performance based pay (using student improvement, NOT DIRECT TEST SCORES) along with increasing pay for subjects that are more difficult to learn (for the student and teacher) like high level math/science/computer programming. That’s why we have a shortage of those types of teachers, if you can come out of college and start teaching music, art or 3rd graders making the same amount as the 12th grade Calculus teacher…what incentive do you have to even bother to learn Calculus, let alone teach it?

    • nj_v2

      How much ignorance can be packed into one post?

      • Jeff

        You know, I presented many specific points and some ideas for reforming education. You don’t bring anything to the conversation by flinging insults without anything to back it up…just leave the message boards if you can’t contribute something constructive. I don’t mind people who disagree with me but at least pick apart my points and explain WHY you disagree instead of throwing insults like a child. Grow up and debate like an adult.

        • nj_v2

          Responding to all the right-wing flack in detail out here would be a full-time job. You guys are busy little beavers. Just pointing a finger at some of the nonsense is a service in itself.

          But here you go…

          1) Cherry-picked salaries, not real data. Summary of teacher salaries (starting and average) by state: http://www.teacherportal.com/teacher-salaries-by-state/

          2) Ask any teacher if they really work “3/4 of the year.” I’m sure you accounted for prep time, after-school time, meeting time, activity time, working-at-home time, professional development time, didn’t you?

          3) Where’s your evidence that teaching elementary-grade levels is easier than high-school levels?

          4) Teachers get paid based on level of their education and years of service. How the hell could one subject area be valued against another one? Is math more valuable than science? Is English/language art less valuable than biology?

          • Jeff

            1) Not cherry picked…I found the direct, ACTUAL salaries at the nearby high school from this website: http://extra.twincities.com/car/schoolsalaries/

            2) I’ve done the actual equations for a local high school…the actual hours worked in class excluding the free period and lunch (private sector people don’t get lunch included in their day) a teacher is only “teaching” for about 5 hours a day. That means that each and every day a teacher NEEDS to spend an additional 3 hours a day working to equate their job with a typical private sector job. That means if a teacher runs out of town on Friday and doesn’t stay after to grade they MUST add those 3 additional hours somewhere else. I’ve also done the math on the days off a year…it equates to working ~8.5 months a year with vs a standard private sector job. Assuming at least 3 additional hours a day just to equate 8 hours a day for only 8.5 months a year…now if we add in the additional 3 months teachers get (I’ll give them the 2 weeks most people get) they need to work about 3 more hours a day….that’s right 6 hours each and every work day outside of school! Then you can compare salaries.

            3) The material is much easier, I can tell you that there is a flood of elementary education teachers while a major need for upper level math and science. Supply and demand should tell you that you need incentives to get people in to those math/science teaching jobs.

            4) Supply and demand once again, you do realize that’s how it works in college don’t you? Economists and engineering profs are paid more than history profs.

      • JP_Finn

        Willllllsonnn!!!!

        No, but seriously, I don’t agree that Jeff’s post is ignorant: there truly has been a great imbalance in pay vs. performance created by many teachers’ unions around the country. The question is, how to address it? My sense is that any kind of top-down administrative solution would be ham-fisted and just cause teachers to “teach to the test” or whatever the yardstick is more so than they are already doing.

        I’ve always been mystified about why teachers’ unions and other unions doggedly defend every member, rather than trying to weed out their weaker colleagues and negotiate an agreement with the employer to allow those underperformers to be fired. After all, fellow teachers should have a better understanding than anyone else in the system of who is doing a genuinely good job and who is not; as well as a vested interest in defending the union brand/reputability of its members, in order to be able to negotiate more attractive pay down the road as merited. Just a (naïve) thought!

        • OrangeGina

          Regarding the protection angle: I can tell you that it is not the unions, it is often a lack of action on the part of the administration. It is easier to let it skate by then to do the work to document a problem teacher, or any union member.

          • John Cedar

            I have seen this many times. Most of the teachers that people would like to weed out with performance measures could and should have been weeded out long before they got tenure.

            The same goes for cops firefighters and DOT workers but there is not one keeping track of how many crimes they don’t’ solve or how many fires they don’t’ put out fast enough or how many roads they don’t keep in good enough condition.

      • X Y & Z

        You should know, you do it routinely.

    • jefe68

      Yeah, blame the unions.

    • creaker

      Crazy union rules were usually precipitated by crazy administrators and school boards.

      And $70k a year for a proficient teacher? They should get a lot more. It’s not an easy job, and a very hard job to do well – I make much more than that for doing much less.

    • ThatDudeOnABike

      Please change your pic, Jeff.

      • Jeff

        No thanks.

  • Kberg95

    I laugh anytime I hear someone complain that teachers only “work” half the year yet get paid for a full year’s salary and oh by the way, their “day” ends when the kids leave at 2:30 PM.

    Yes, my wife gets July and August “off” but she also has to take university-level professional development courses to stay current on her certification during that time and starts planning for the upcoming school year in the middle of August.

    Kids may leave school at 2:30 but she is never home earlier than 5 because she has to prep for the next day, or clean up the mess left from the current day. She also brings home work to grade almost every evening from the 80 to 120 kids who pass through her classroom each day, which adds another hour or two to her work day.

    Seniority is a joke. There is no more tenure and the only thing that seniority means is that if the school is laying off teachers, the teachers with less time in position will get cut first. My wife could get fired any time and lose her pension in the process.

    The annual review process she now goes through is more rigorous than any I have gone through during me 30+ years in the private sector.

    Classroom management is always a challenge, especially with middle-schoolers who are starting their wonderful journey through adolescence. Many kids have behavior issues and/or family dysfunction problems and/or learning disabilities or parents who just will not believe that their precious child could do anything wrong.

    I really doubt that most of the commenters here who think teachers are coddled would last more than a day in the average classroom.

    • ThatDudeOnABike

      “Laugh” or cry?

      • Kberg95

        Laugh, because I often laugh at people who do not have a clue but feel qualified to have an opinion.

    • Radical___Moderate

      Well said.

    • eat_swim_read

      such negativity, whining and bely-aching. no doubt you are busy helping your wife find new employment so she can be shielded from this dire situation….
      please act quickly to get her away from dreadful parents of “precious” children, summer enrichment classes (that enrich her pay) and the agony of being perceived by *some* taxpayers as being “coddled.”
      it’s a living hell for her – step in now to save her,,,,

      • Kberg95

        My wife’s been dedicated to this profession for 14 years. I doubt you could do her job for 14 minutes.

        • eat_swim_read

          …such a reasoned, thoughtful response. you and she are a good match.

          • Kberg95

            Your ignorant derisive condescension deserved nothing more.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    Come for the shrinking pay and benefits; stay for the challenge of trying to reach the apathetic*, the unprepared, the violent, the athlete, the gifted, the know-it-all+.

    * The administration
    + The parents

    • stillin

      Perfectly stated. The truth.

    • eat_swim_read

      …the whiners, the burden to taxpayers, the union hacks, the sulky parent-haters….
      the faculty.

  • Human2013

    “It became too difficult, too challenging and the pay is poor.” Well, maybe the classroom was never meant for you.

    • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

      Stay away from the US Navy, too. Hoober Doober

  • Yar

    John Donvan, did you just say failed out of teaching?

  • Coastghost

    Social justice trumps pedagogy! (Literacy? Numeracy? History? Geography? Math? Science? NO: SOCIAL JUSTICE!)
    What IS the curriculum for “social justice” in public school classrooms today?

    • Human2013

      That’s the problem. There are social workers, activists, public policy makers to work on social justice. Teachers need focus on curriculum, period.

      • Radical___Moderate

        I agree. “Social Justice” means 100 things to 100 people. There has not really been social justice since Sumeria! Get used to it and do your best too help others but quit this goofy sophomoric “social engineering” and other “feel good” nonsense.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    Abolish high school.
    –Leon Botstein, President Bard College

    http://www.nytimes.com/1999/05/17/opinion/let-teen-agers-try-adulthood.html

    I agree. Mostly pointless now. Let the kids go on to what they’re heading for anyway: the trades, academia, fine arts, the streets, the malls, prisons. It’s a waste of the public treasury and our energies.

  • moriarty

    I retired this year after 16 years in the construction industry followed by 25 years as a high school teacher. I was a good teacher who was ‘bought out’ because the school board wanted to save money. I could not recommend either my students or my own children enter the profession. In addition to teaching, I served 13 years on various local school boards so I see issues from several sides. If I were to highlight the most frustrating part of my experience, it would be the enormous amount of time wasted by the adults on testing, goals, action plans, philosophies (none of which are every referenced once completed) instead of getting papers graded promptly, showing up to class on time, providing a variety of experiences for students, and communicating with parents. I was invited to attend a session of a state historical society that was to deal with curriculum for teaching history. No other teacher was invited (and I was just to be a personal guest of an attendee). There are too many people making classroom decisions who have no competence in the area.

    • nj_v2

      ^ Could be the most sensible post we’ll see today.

    • Radical___Moderate

      As a fellow teacher, I say “right on.” You are right. I have had the blessing the last 9 years of my career to teach in a private school NOT tied to these state rules etc. The result= happy kids, 98% grad rate, highest AP scores in the whole area and state, kids going to great colleges including Ivy League. Thus, get the state and govt. out of the way and let we the teachers, students, parents do our thing! The result will be success for those who want too succeed.

  • Michiganjf

    It seems the world should be grateful for the rise of Asian powers in the world, where teaching, learning, and science are still appreciated and respected.

    Conservatives are pushing our country backward in so many ways, yet it looks like there will be no short-term relief, as they already exercise excessive power in federal and state governments, the courts, and business, and are poised to do well in the midterm elections.

    Perhaps China, for instance, can bring some sense to world politics and world problems, especially as they keep fairy tale religion largely out of politics and policy… meanwhile, fundamentalists are seeing a last gasp revival in the U.S., which will keep good sense at bay in our country for at least another decade or two, if not longer.

    • Steven Lee

      The assault on and corporatization of American Education is being led by the left and right. Common Core is being pushed by politicians of all stripes. Just as we don’t need an ultraconservative agenda in education we don’t need the social justice agenda liberals are pushing.

  • Yar

    How would education change if everyone in education spent at least 10% of their work time in the classroom? From the commissioner of the state department to the lunch room worker everyone should teach.

    • creaker

      You make it sound like anyone can teach and do it well.

      While they are at it maybe they can all become accomplished musicians, sculptors and writers as well?

      • Yar

        If someone is in leadership of education they should be able to handle a class. If you can’t teach you don’t belong in education.

        • creaker

          Maybe we should reevaluate who can have children as well, parents are the primary educators.

          But I think schools could survive with lunch room workers that can’t fill in for physics and French classes.

          • Yar

            Why would a lunch worker teach physics or French? They should teach meal preparation, menu planning and how to feed students for 67 cents.

          • creaker

            umm – they don’t cook in school lunch rooms. They largely just serve whatever is delivered.

            And why wouldn’t parents teach this?

          • Yar

            We need a curriculum change in the lunchroom! The most dangerous item in school is the box cutter in the school kitchen that opens processed food.

  • ThatDudeOnABike

    Nobody gets it. Not Arnie Duncan, not Obama, not any state legislature. Our educational system is becoming Pearson High. Tests are not making anyone any smarter. Get plutocracy and politics out of ed. My parents were teachers and I wanted to teach but since Reagan put the first nail in the coffin, our public schools have been circling the plutocratic and ideological
    drain.

    • Radical___Moderate

      True. But as HS teacher of years, I do not see the plutocracy and the hidden curriculum leaving any time soon. Sadly!

      • Human2013

        We need to work within the system we have while ardently trying to change it — if that’s even possible.

  • Human2013

    I don’t understand the dislike of assessment testing. My 4th graded has tested ONE time this year. The school and myself need to know his strengths and weaknesses. This seems so counterintuitive to the new STEM economy. Stem is based in fact: mathematics and hard science.

    Neither of these teachers have yet to give a substantive reason as to why they left the classroom.

    • nj_v2

      As if training for tech jobs were schooling’s only requirement or mandate to contribute to full and well-rounded individuals.

      Who needs civics, history, creative arts, or language? Hint: “The school and myself…”

      • Human2013

        I tested in civics, history and foreign language. Was I retaining what my teachers put forth? Did I need to revisit the structure of government or rewrite my understanding of the civil war.

        Im a student of the liberal arts, but I need to confirm that my son’s foundation in math, reading and science is solid. Only then can he move on. How can he move on to the liberal arts, if he chooses, without this foundation.

    • Radical___Moderate

      I agree, they are self-involved youngster who are just shocked that the system did not role out the red carpet for them. I teach in a HS. I have great kids and a good time.
      These folks are unrealistic narcissists!

  • Coastghost

    Is implementation of “social justice” the formal imprimatur of public education today? In which states?

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    Imagine the task of teaching in Wyoming where the only theme on the exit exam is: Noah and the baby dinosaurs on the ark.

  • Human2013

    So, 40% of public school students are now minorities. You can end the show now, we now know why public schools are losing their support and their prestige.

  • johnhaskell

    How about the lack of accountability on the part of students who are given carte blanch by their parents to act as they wish. Kid does poorly in school, typically it’s not the fault of the kid these days. Now, teachers’ roles have shifted from educators to ego strokers in order to appease parents.

    • brettearle

      I hear this scapegoat business, a lot.

      And I believe it.

      But, do we not hear, too, a great deal about how teachers have a built-in phobia for change?

  • Yar

    Is Brown Vs Board of education moot? Have we abandoned equal education for all?

    • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

      Yes. It’s called Exeter Academy, Choate, St. Albans, Sidwell Friends, 92 St. Y, Miss Elmer’s Country Day School. Separating the goats from the sheep or some such. HD

  • Coastghost

    ALL of these women are “feeling” this, that, and the other: do ANY of them THINK? EVER? (or is this an affliction specific to public education? specific to public primary or elementary education?)

    • Nicole

      You are incredibly offensive. I challenge you to teach.

      • Coastghost

        I find teachers incapable of thought incredibly offensive, which is perhaps the chief reason I left teaching: somehow, I was never enamored of what I took to be criminal incompetence in my co-workers and supervisors, especially when their incompetence undermined everything I strived to accomplish.

        • Nicole

          I am not sure where yo have taught. I feel sorry for you and your experience. But I work with exceptional colleagues in the Boston Public Schools. But, honestly, it is the attitudes from people like you that make me want to leave the profession, as you make sweeping generalizations about the work I do.

  • X Y & Z

    Why don’t the Obama’s, along with the majority of Democrats in Congress (who are the recipients of large campaign contributions from the NEA), send their kids to the public schools in DC?

    • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

      As it says in the Old Testament: Lie down with dogs get up with fleas. HD

    • brettearle

      You have a point.

      But many parents, who have the necessary funds, will opt for private school–especially because there could be a greater chance for special attention.

      What’s more, there are certainly security issues for recognized public officials, who send their children to public schools.

      But, certainly, as you imply, politicians who support a policy or view, who don’t `walk the walk’, should point the double standard.

      • X Y & Z

        Jimmy Carter sent his daughter to the DC public schools while he was President.

        • brettearle

          Interesting.

          Must have been massive security.

          [I wonder whether the public school system left her bereft in the sciences and Carter, a nuclear physicist, may have ultimately `homeschooled' her on weekends. [joke?]]

      • Enuff_of_this

        I sent mine to private schools because they were held to higher academic standards, demanded more parental participation. They were taught to advocate for themselves along with getting a solid grounding in STEM and humanities.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    Colored is OUT.
    Of Color is IN.
    Is that the New Semantics?
    Can you major in it?

    • skelly74

      Good question…people of color and “you people” who are lack thereof.

  • Human2013

    These two teachers are still having a difficult time explaining why they left the classroom. “We want to teach creativity” WTF! I had a strong public education; the kind full of mathematics, english composition, history, geography, foreign language and the social sciences.

    It sounds as if these teachers want to “play” with the students with finger paint and boast their imagination — NOT YOUR JOB. Stick to the curriculum that has worked for decades. The US, not too long ago, had the world’s premier public education system, so why try to change what has worked.

    • Nicole

      I don’t think you understand. Teachers want to have engaging curriculums. Rote memorization and lectures are not the way most students learn. It is also incredibly boring. However, this is how one must teach if you are teaching to the test. I teach both AP World History and regular World History. My “regular” class is far more engaging and exciting, because while I do assessments, there is not a huge AP exam at the end of it. My AP class is a series of Power Points in order to “cover” world history from 8,000 BCE-present. I draw students in to my classes when I can use more “creative” material (such as role plays, projects, research papers, debates) than basic PowerPoints.

      • Human2013

        The two teachers stated they wanted to change the curriculum, not find creative ways of teaching the required curriculum — that’s my concern. If you’re finding creative ways to introduce Ancient history to your students than I applaud you, but that is not what I heard from these two teachers.

    • Michael Newell

      Hmm… Mr Human2013, it’s fully your imagination that has you convinced that the American public education system was ever “the world’s finest.” It may be true that you received a 1st class education where ever you are in the USA and good on you for that. However your generalization is not only grossly exaggerated, it’s false. American society has struggled for centuries with how they value and promote public education. If ever American education showed high performance it was from private, not public education. Also, your devaluing of “creativity” is contrary to what most respected business associations and educators think of as what students need to learn. They do not need the skills necessary for 1984 or 1995 or even 2014. Let’s say for conversation’s sake it’s 10 years out; 2024. One of the highest valued skills for that time is understood as creativity. Mainly what I hear from you is that education is not what it was for you and you’ve chosen to have a temper tantrum (“WTF!) online about it. Good luck with that as a communication skill… one of the other skills that is so highly valued for the future.

      • Human2013

        Not sure if you have any skin in the game, but I do. I have a 4th grader in public school. If I did not supplement his education at home, he would still be reading at a 1st grade level and forget mastering the multiplication table, so when teachers tell me they want students to be more creative – as if that can be taught – it’s a sign that their students are not mastering basic elementary academics.

    • Steve__T

      “It sounds as if these teachers want to “play” with the students with finger paint and boast their imagination — NOT YOUR JOB. Stick to the curriculum that has worked for decades”

      They were talking about teaching children, I’m sure you never did that finger paint thing. And you probably wonder why would anyone want to play with icky clay. YES IT IS THEIR JOB.
      Thanks for showing your strong public education.

      • Human2013

        That’s why it’s not going so good.

  • ThatDudeOnABike

    Schools and “performance” are a symptom of society. All teachers and schools can do is lead students to water and provide them an environment to learn. A poor teacher can also limit some students, but a teacher cannot force a good education on ANYONE.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    As Professor Tom Lehrer taught us in The New Math.. getting the right answer is not nearly as important as understanding the process. It explains, for example, why a lot of our tax expenditures vaporized in the atmosphere of Mars on entry.*

    And why members of Congress can’t do budgets without removing their shoes and socks.

    * SI vs. English units.

    • creaker

      The 2nd one is easy – Congress can’t do budgets without removing their shoes and socks because all those campaign contributions from lobbyists won’t fit in their pockets.

  • Andree Trahant Price

    I’m a 20+ year teacher (High School English) and I can’t keep up with the demands of my administration, my family and myself. I am overloaded with the technology demands, testing demands, and demands of students. I work most weekends, stay until 5 most days, attend many school events at night, and answer emails most evenings. And my school wants more of me and my time. I can’t find balance. I want to find a new career, but where do I begin???

  • Coastghost

    No: by the testimony of these pedagogical geniuses, prospective teachers don’t require any familiarity with their putative intellectual domains: all any prospective teacher needs is passion, and feeling, and then if she proposes to keep her job and career in social justice, she simply needs to replenish with fresh reserves of passion and MORE feeling, which doubtless she can obtain through a duly credentialed correspondence course.

    • Nicole

      I am not sure what you mean, but I am an expert in my field and hold two Masters Degrees from esteemed universities, as well as a Bachelors from a reputable college. I graduated with honors in all three. I attend ongoing professional development about my content area from places such as Harvard, Brown, and Tufts, as well as from highly respected organizations such as Primary Source and Facing History and Ourselves. My colleagues do the same. What you describe is not reality.

      • Coastghost

        No: I taught in public schools for over three years (three full years plus two summer terms): what I describe IS reality, apart from or in addition to the evidence to be gleaned from the testimony offered in this past hour’s show. (Get WBUR to provide you with a transcript of this show and do a word count for “passion” and “feeling” . . . then do a word count for “literacy” and “numeracy”.)

  • brittany

    Teaching was where I found my calling. I feel at home working with young children, but I left for so many reasons. I was teaching K3, K4 and K5 in a combined classroom. My health: loss of weight, depression, hair loss, anxiety, etc. The classroom: My first year in the classroom I had over 35 children in my class my first year, following years that hardly changed. That is just far too many children in one small room with one adult supervising. Countless hours spent testing when so many children arrive to school hungry, dirty and desperate for attention. Countless hours outside of the classroom keeping up with plans, interventions, connecting it parents. Thousands of dollars spent out of pocket to provide children with food, supplies and other items. No assistant support, maybe someone is there for a few hours a day. I left because of the toll it was putting on my body and life. If only we could ease up on classroom sizes and testing. I had my first baby last year and decided to leave the classroom because I worried I would never have the time I wanted for her. My husband and I now live on his teacher salary and although we live more simply we are healthier and happier.

    • harverdphd

      If you haven’t started already, read to your baby before nap and before bedtime. My daughter went to school knowing how to read. Savor this time; you will never regret the sacrifice.

  • kaybee63

    To all the people who think teachers work only the hours of the school day is like saying movie actors work only for the two hours or so that you see them in a movie.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    School systems could issue Certificates of Respect to beginning teachers. One of those and 5 bucks would get you a Mocha Vesuvius at Starbucks.

  • Human2013

    Meanwhile another Asian (Indian) child will win the national spelling Bee. The National Spelling Bee is a Spelling TEST. I can’t help but feel that teachers despise testing because it reveals their incompetency in the classroom.

    We love running from the truth in this country. Only testing can reveal the truth.

    • creaker

      Yup – there’s no such thing as a bad test. Or a test that tests you on things that do nothing to further your education.

      • Human2013

        Did you take a driving test? Did you take the SAT or ACT? Do you have a professional license, you’ll need to take a test for that.

        You must be one on those, “I just don’t test well.”
        You didn’t test well because you DIDN’T know the answers.

        • Sally Kuhlenschmidt

          I teach psychometrics at a university. There are very few sweeping statements that can be made about “tests” that are true. Some tests are well developed, reliable and valid. Others are total fabrications. Testing “reveals the truth” only if the test is valid for the purpose it was designed for and is correctly administered, scored and interpreted. Even a well developed driving test may only predict about 36% of what people actually do on the road. All of the previous comments on tests have the status of hypotheses–they could all be true or all false under different condition. There is too much variety out there to be confident. However, one sweeping statement you can make about tests is they provide a track record of accountability — you can track who applied the tool and how and whether it was a valid and reliable choice, how the test was developed (or not). That means one function of tests is to reveal bad uses of testing and enable it to be improved, to gradually work toward satisfactory prediction. (That doesn’t happen with any other form of selection– processes of other sorts can be “hidden” from view). There should be criticism of tests/testing and it should be examined. Unconditional acceptance of measures is unscientific. “Truth” is unreachable as there is always error in testing, one just gets closer and closer with data on the test…I feel a lecture coming on (too late) so I’ll stop here.

  • JP_Finn

    Some of the lack of prestige the panel is talking about is likely a direct result of the ramping up of oversight and micromanagement of classrooms via mandatory tests, etc. Seems like teachers were once the masters of their classroom and seen as scholarly professionals who wielded their knowledge and responsibility with great autonomy–similar to a doctor in his or her office, or a lawyer in her or his practice. Now from the outside, it would easily appear to many that the teacher has been reduced to something of a skilled laborer who is merely practicing a trade, while the principals, administrators, and policymakers control every single little thing they do.

  • X Y & Z

    There will not be any meaningful educational reform at the national level, as long as the Democratic party is financially dependent on the NEA for campaign contributions.

    • Bigtruck

      Ahhh the anti-union drumbeat. Please educate yourself on why there are unions in the first place. Why people fought and died to create them. How they created the middle class, the heart blood of our country. The correlation between the disappearing middle class and the money grubbers fighting to dismantle them

      • X Y & Z

        There was a time (a long time ago), when unions did have an important role to perform,

        now many big unions like the NEA are just standing in the way of progress and reform.

        • Bigtruck

          It was not that long ago and we do not want to go back to that place.

          • X Y & Z

            A lot of Americans have no desire to go where the big inept unions like the NEA are leading the country to.

          • Bigtruck

            Then private schools are an option or make a better argument than we want to make money of of the education of our children.

          • X Y & Z

            Americans want their children to have a good education, which is exactly why the Obama’s, and most of the Democrats in Congress (who are financially obligated to the inept NEA), send their kids to the elite, Sidwell Friends School ($20,000+ tuition), and not the local (failing) public schools in DC.

          • Bigtruck

            Really you thank that’s why the President of the United States sends his kids to a SECURE private school?

            If you want your kids to be educated then don’t just put them on the bus, get involved. Getting involved doesn’t mean blowing up the system it means improving it.

          • X Y & Z

            I am “involved”. I think EVERY American should have the opportunity to send their kids to a private school (like the Obama’s do), instead of having to send their kids to the local, failing public school.

            P.S. Jimmy Carter sent his daughter to the public schools in DC when he was President.

    • ThatDudeOnABike

      Sorry. The NEA is not the problem. Pearson and Houghton-Mifflin et. al. are.

      • X Y & Z

        You want to blame a publishing company for America’s failing public schools?

        Get back on your bike.

    • hennorama

      X Y & Z — congratulations! You finally got something right — the name of the Democratic Party.

      Well done.

  • levi

    Pizza parties???

    • Enuff_of_this

      That would not be tax deductible, but purchasing other supplies that are normal and necessary to do the job are. Why wasn’t that tid bit of information mentioned? The only out of pocket expenses are the discretionary ones, like pizza parties.

      • hennorama

        Enuff_of_this — the problem is not whether or not an expense might be deductible, but that teachers are not getting reimbursed (sometimes, as one of the guests noted, due to not requesting reimbursement due to the hassle) for expenses they incur on behalf of their employers.

        It’s such a large issue for teachers that since 2003 (with some exceptions), a special deduction, the Educator Expense Deduction, has been put into the Federal tax code.

        If you are eligible educator, you can deduct up to $250 ($500 if married filing joint and both spouses are educators, but not more than $250 each) of any unreimbursed expenses you paid or incurred for books, supplies, computer equipment (including related software and services), other equipment, and supplementary materials that you use in the classroom.

        See:

        http://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc458.html

        • Enuff_of_this

          I read the code and know what it says. If getting reimbursed is such a hassle then they should just cough up the cash, as a conscious choice they will make, or work with what they gave been given. This is not a bottomless pit. We as taxpayers and parents and teachers learn to work with what we have and stop blaming failures on lack of resources. There is plenty to go around if properly managed

          • hennorama

            Enuff_of_this — thank you for your response.

            In general, do you think that employees should pay for job-related expenses without reimbursement?

            If so, please explain.

            If not, why would educators be any different?

            I don’t know if you speak with many educators, but those I know would tell you that as a rule, the supply allowances they receive, if they receive any, do not cover needed supplies and materials. Also, in the vast majority of cases, as a matter of policy, the schools refuse reimbursement for any amounts exceeding the allowances.

            Resources of school systems vary widely, making your blanket statement rather myopic. The Great Recession resulted in the loss of hundreds of thousands of local education jobs, including teachers, school aides and support staff, and not all schools have recovered either their funding base, or their educators and support staff.

            This means that supply allowances continue to get short shrift in many areas.

            Of course, any educators that do not request reimbursement when it is available do not deserve any special consideration, and take the consequences of their inaction.

            Thanks again for your response.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    Teacher contribution situations re: the financial health of the school systems — are only going to get worse. You can’t imagine the number of times I see parents with baby strollers+ at my local coffee spot.* They’re the ones who buy $19.25 worth of goodies with a twenty: then pocket the 3 quarters and stroll out.

    Generosity: it’s alive and well in the USA. Lucky us.

    + Rolling lawn furniture with air conditioning.
    * They’re the ones with the lengthy requests forcing the line to back up out the door.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    Socrates never hosted pizza parties. His students PAID for their instruction.

    • brettearle

      Such high-mindedness led to Hemlock.

      • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

        Quick: name anyone involved in forcing him to drink. You can’t. History judged them non-worthy of mention except as mediocre “public servants.” HD

  • Steven Lee

    Look at the # of administrators in your school. Has it grown over the last 10-15 years? That’s where a lot of the $ goes. I’d rather pay the teachers.

  • Jon

    buzz words – fighting the system and change the world. facts – majority teachers are ok with the system except for those few?

  • Radical___Moderate

    It is ironic how over the half of the would would just be happy to have schools to educate their children. We here suffer from what J.K. Galbraith called “Affluenza”. We will complain no matter what because we are becoming a culture of narcissistic babies. These are very similar to the “issues” we talked about in education 50 and more years ago.
    NEW FLASH: Some will succeed, some won’t! That has been the story since civilization began. Make it work for your self or get a blog and become a professional whiner!

  • drwacker

    What’s wrong with education? Why are teachers leaving the profession? Let’s start at the top: TOO MANY NON-TEACHERS making decisions about education. From federal bureaucrats to state legislatures to school boards to parents. Even many college of education professors have never stood before a class of children. Would we allow non-doctors tell doctors how to practice medicine? Likewise, how about putting a non-lawyer in charge of the bar? We need to stop playing games with our children’s education. Let’s let the TEACHERS make decisions about what’s best for their classrooms. ( I speak as an educator and administrator of 35 years.)

  • ThatDudeOnABike

    Interesting that many new teachers coming out of college went through the NCLB curriculum in public schools. Not criticizing the pre-service teachers, but it has to have an effect.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    Imagine a want ad: “AP Creationism teacher. Must know dinosaurs and great floods.”

    • ThatDudeOnABike

      A talking snake told me it was true.

    • brettearle

      Evolution Instructor Wanted:

      But, Posted Warning!

      No Tenure: It’s Survival of the Fittest

  • Emily4HL

    My prestigious high school, in prepping me for elite college, pushed me away from my desire to teach because it wasn’t prestigious enough. Teach for America for a few years was prestigious enough, maybe because its competitive even though the pay is bad, but pursuing an education degree and a career in education wasn’t.

    I’m very concerned when great teachers and career councilors push their students not to enter the field. And my parents would have been horrified.

    • brettearle

      Salary incentives would change some of that.

      • Emily4HL

        I absolutely agree. Teachers aren’t paid fairly for a difficult job–I love the info graphics about paying teachers the same rate as a cheap babysitter…multiplied by 20-30 kids, by all the hours of the school year alone. Teachers get way less for so much more work.

        There’s also a perception that anyone can get a teaching job, unlike getting into an elite college or law school. So the pay is bad and there’s no expectation of pride for getting a position. Accordingly, it seems that those who pursue teaching are either actually under-qualified–those who can’t pass Praxis exams without many tries– or making huge personal sacrifices and finding the Praxis a joke.

        • brettearle

          The ugly Irony is that a fair part of society’s destiny rests on the quality of Education in our public school systems.

          Without effective ways of attracting the best people into the profession, our country suffers.

          And, no matter what, we, as a country, ignore the problem or don’t know what to do about it.

          It’s almost disgusting.

          But then, again, so are some of the Attitudes of the parents, students, and administrators.

  • ThatDudeOnABike

    “School is so boring.”
    -my daughter while glued to her iPod watching Nick on NetFlix.
    Good luck, teachers.

  • creaker

    You could put an award winning master chef in a McDonalds and you’d get the same tired burger and fries. Why? Because that is what they are required to make.

    The problem is often not the teachers.

    • Steven Lee

      Might need to steal that. Thx

  • homebuilding

    I heard nothing today about the increasing number of things that distract our students from learning–moving them toward the draws of amusement and entertainment. (……and I’m not speaking only of fancyfones and ipads–the massive disneydiet of some kids is a huge, huge distraction. It’s not well appreciated that the best students have the least movie/teeee veeee screen time, at home)

    Then there’s the entire matter of very inadequate preschool vocabulary development for the significant number of kids who are destined to be behind peers who’ve had far better home parenting and/or teaching. (These deficits are very real and very long lasting–many would say insurmountable and the basis for maladjustment and miscellaneous misbehaviors that will interrupt other students and clearly, divert teacher efforts)

    Full disclosure: I retired early from middle school……..and we saw it a great tragedy that there was no exit interview (nor for retiring principals, either) to plug in our accumulated knowledge and perspective toward the effort to ‘improve the product.’

  • ce373

    What do we expect! We need to go back to our foundational Beliefs and Blessings; but no, the founder of the Public School System, Horace Mann, wanted to take Christianity out of the the School System and his duplicate, John Dewey, wanted to take Christianity out of the students!

  • Coastghost

    Sounds as if mere passion and feeling are insufficient bases upon which to base a career in education (public or otherwise), if the “careers” these give rise to fade out in a mere handful of years.
    Passion and feeling do NOT confer staying power or commitment, OR competence.

  • Charles

    My girlfriend has been a teacher in a public high school for 3 years, and I’ve gotten to spend a lot of time with her colleagues in social settings. I have determined the following things:

    -If you aren’t a flack for your particular administration, you’re going to be out of a job sooner than later. (I suppose this is true for most any profession).
    -You’re either going to be teaching in a poor school where the parents aren’t involved at all, or you’re going to be teaching in an affluent school, where the helicoptering parents email you at all hours asking why Johnny doesn’t have an “A”. (Which one’s worse?)
    -You are going to spend a minimum of 15 percent of the curriculum time on remedial work, even though you are responsible for delivering all of your curriculum in preparation for testing. (Johnny can’t read “Julius Caesar” if he reads at a 7th grade level.)
    -You’re going to be vilified one way or the other. (You work too hard and you engender the spite of your colleagues. Mail it in and you’re another lazy loafing government employee.)

    Basically the only people who can succeed in teaching long-term are the ambitionless, but competent. They manage to hide their burnout just well enough to keep on the right side of administration. The do-gooders get disaffected and leave after a few years.

    My girlfriend (a do-gooder) is leaving after her third year, to go get a PhD, and join the ranks of adminstration! (She’ll also triple her salary, at minimum.)

    • methos1999

      It’s horrifying how much of your post I relate to as my wife is an elementary teacher…

  • pish

    Parents have forgotten their roles-may be they are too busy for their kids or by ignorance. Teachers are expected to play the role of a parent and a teacher. Parents are not supporting teachers, students know this
    and they say “even if you call my parents they will do nothing to me”. BIG NO NO.
    Students are becoming so disrespectful, not putting effort and care less. Teachers have to babysit and beg high school students. You have to repeat same thing over several times –put away your cellphones, stop talking, dress code, please come and do homework, be on task-for it to sink. These types of students makes us even forget about good students. I feel soooo sorry for teachers.
    If we have Christians who pray hard , pray for the current generations. It might be a shocker for them when they “graduate” and go to real world and they realize they have to work hard, follow directions, be on time, no cellphone while working etc .

    • brettearle

      Parents need to take more responsibility, for sure.

      But do no forget that 35 years ago, 2 family income households were not yet a true reality.

      Nor were there such frequent behavioral disruptions in public school.

      And….student performance was at a higher level.

      Every facet of education is a major challenge: For Students, for Teachers, for Parents, and for Administrators….

  • Matt Farkas

    per your suggestion on the “Contact Us” page, here’s a show suggestion…

    cutting emissions via plans like Jacobson and Delucchi’s Wind Water Solar (and why bio-fuels and nuclear are very bad ideas)

  • tbphkm33

    Na, too “simplistic” – after all, gender and sexuality is a sliding scale. It is not sufficient to say that just because someone was born physically one way, they have certain behavioral traits. An individuals character is shaped by personal biology (genes), family they grow up in, local community and the society/culture in general.

    Education might need to draw from a wider spectrum. Do away with all the limitations that keep career changers from going into education.

    Look at the failed education departments in higher education. Often having the lowest GPA requirements to stay in college, so these departments sweep up the failures from other disciplines. Who then “dumb down” the students who are natural teachers and went to college to become teachers. Tighten up the education of teachers and make it easier for career changers to become teachers.

    Who do you want to teach your kids – someone who partied through college and ended up in education as a last resort, or someone who worked hard in college, had a career in another field, then realized what they really like to do is teach.

    • eat_swim_read

      …too long.
      Ed schools are packed with those seeking gut majors.
      We know this….

  • tbphkm33

    In so many ways, the multitude of failures of U.S. primary, secondary and higher education are indicative of the unraveling of the U.S. social fabric. Illustrative of the slide the U.S. has made in transforming itself to a 2nd world nation in the past 30 years, and headlong into becoming the richest 3rd world nation.

    Via the Nopublican’s idiotic programs like “voodoo economics,” the U.S. is crumbling on so many fronts. Today, not even able to produce a competent generation to take over from their elders. The rich get richer, everyone else work harder for less and ignore the crumbling society all around them.

    • Charles

      Most depressing thing I’ve read today…not that I disagree.

      • tbphkm33

        Better to be depressed with a good assessment than happy living in a fantasy reality.

    • brettearle

      Look….you and I, generally, have a similar view–in terms of our pessimism about American culture.

      As I mentioned, before, where we differ is exactly when our society will crumble.

      You think sooner rather later.

      I think later rather than sooner.

      Where we might also differ is that this decline was, eventually, inevitable.

      I think it is and was.

      • tbphkm33

        I agree that the decline was inevitable – emerging from WWII rich and powerful… although, the decline was also avoidable. No longer do I believe it is avoidable. Look at the US brain drain that is gaining momentum, other intellectuals are in agreement.

        I do believe the decline is gathering momentum and a crisis point will be reached sooner rather than later. Look at the historical example of the USSR, that was not only a superpower, but by all accounts an economic power in the early 1980s. A decade later, partly after the Afghanistan war, the USSR was crumbling. There are a disturbing similarities between those days and the USA today. Die hard believers in the USSR lived in denial all the way up till December 26, 1991 – when Gorbachev got on national TV to announce the USSR was dissolving.

        As an undergraduate I wrote a thesis in 1989 predicting the demise of the USSR – at the time I was almost drummed out of the International Relations program. Turns out I was right. My thesis first reader thought it impossible, the second reader agreed maybe it would happen in 20 years. Both US academics devoted to the study of the Soviets.

        I reach the same conclusions today about the USA – the crisis point is not 20 years down the road, but much closer. There are too many signs. Don’t believe me, read the assessments coming out of the Pentagon about long term threats to the USA, increasingly the military intellectuals are reaching the conclusion that the economic, political and social structures in the homeland are becoming a liability mainly do to neglect.

        China does not surpass the USA on its own momentum, it is the crash of the USA that propels the East past the West. An avoidable situation… save the greed of American’s in dealing realistically with their situation.

        • brettearle

          It has already been duly noted, by me, some months ago, that you predicted the demise of the Soviet Union, sometime before it happened.

          I remember you mentioning that.

          Indeed, you may not be really seeking credit for it, by stating it.

          Nevertheless, your time assessment about the USSR may not necessarily obtain about your US time assessment.

          I don’t see that one follows the other.

          In any case, shall we both take `sad solace’ in the fact that we are both, `realistic alarmists’?

          We’re simply quibbling over the Clock.

          That having been said, I’d like to know
          what the Brain Power at the Pentagon has been saying about the decline–especially as it relates to Neglect.

          Do you have a Link?

          I look forward to future exchanges with you.

  • Steve_in_Vermont

    We spend time and money on things we value. It appears education isn’t one of them.

    • http://flustercucked.blogspot.com/ Frank TheUnderemployedProfessi

      Actually, as a society, we are spending gigantic amounts of time, money, and effort on education. For example, we have tons of college graduates who are unemployed or underemployed and involuntarily out-of-field because we produced a large excess of college graduates.

      Our society is also bending over backwards to try to see to it that everyone is prepared for college when only a small percentage of all the jobs that actually need to be done require a college education. We are spending far more money, time, and effort on education that fails to provide a real-world return-on-investment when we could be investing that money, time, and effort in investments that have actual value.

      Perhaps we should just accept that children with IQ’s of 90 are simply not college material and that it is OK if they end up performing jobs that do not require a college education. “The world needs ditch diggers.”

  • bochinchero

    I’m so glad to hear programs on this topic! Unfortunately my “gifted education” situation of decades ago was a sloppy disaster. A nightmare. I realized later that a power relationship had changed when I went from being a slight Asperger’s shy kid to well educated taxpayer. I believe I am an EIPTSD (Educator Induced PTSD) case, and what I’ve done for decades is use my intellectual resources always to defeat local school bond issues and otherwise provide less than zero support.

    This is very irrational of course, but that bad history always gets amped up when I get to the voting booth or water cooler. Maybe hearing the reality of teachers and teaching will lead me one day to abandon this “psychotherapy” trick.

    I did very well academically, but there were serious issues with gym class and other such nuisance things.

    One of these days I need to intensely interview an administrator, not a teacher, and have them explain in honest detail that steps have been taken over the years in education to prevent current students from having my experience. But meanwhile, the realities on programs like this may sway my actions. By the way, I know there are others behaving just like me, only silently. “We” may even mess up bond issues that are tight squeakers as they often are.

    • https://www.facebook.com/kyle.rose Kyle Rose

      The fact that so many people have experienced the “final exam nightmare” should be a clear sign that school is unnecessarily traumatic.

      • bochinchero

        Personally I never had trouble with the academics even though I had skipped a grade. It’s everything else about the school experience. I was so relieved to get to a decent learning environment, UC Berkeley, which was far tougher than high school but without the crap such as gym class. I used to make fake doctor’s notes to get out of PE. Since I rode my bicycle everywhere, I didn’t need it anyway. If the teachers could’ve just gotten out of my way, it would’ve been much better. So in light of that, I (irrationally) have always worked to defeat school bond issues and not support teachers.

  • X Y & Z

    U.S. education spending tops global list, study shows

    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/us-education-spending-tops-global-list-study-shows/
    Lack of money isn’t what’s ailing the public schools. It’s the lack of reform which is being led by the NEA (one of the biggest campaign contributors to the Democratic party), who fight to keep every teacher from being fired, no matter how incompetent they might be in the classroom.

    That must be why Obama and almost every other democratic member of Congress (who oppose school vouchers), send their kids to private schools, and not the failing public schools in DC.

    • hennorama

      X Y & Z — congratulations again on getting the name of the Democratic Party right. Well done.

      Since you brought this up, you must be able to answer some simple questions about the topic, right? Here are two:

      1. Did you know that, according to the same “study” referred to in your post, “Direct expenditures on education as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP)” for primary and secondary education in the United States in 2010 (4.0 percent) was exactly the same as the OECD average?

      See Figure 3., here:
      http://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_cmd.asp

      2. By how much would the U.S. expenditure figures quoted in the linked piece be reduced if schools did not have to pay for the health care of their employees and retirees, as is the case in virtually all other nations, and where would the US end up on the list after health care expenses were subtracted?

      Congrats again on your getting one thing right, at least.

      • notafeminista

        So the US spends “exactly the same as the OECD average” and still performs poorly. Bully for us.

        • hennorama

          notafeminista — TYFYR.

          Keep in mind that the figures quoted in the cbsnews.com link include both private and public schools, and, as is implicit in my 2nd question to [X Y & Z], the costs of health care for many employees and retirees.

          If HC costs were adjusted for, no doubt the GDP share spent in the US on primary and secondary education would be lower, and perhaps more in line with performance.

          TY again FYR.

          • notafeminista

            Right. Because other OECD countries don’t pay for health care of employees and retirees.

          • hennorama

            notafeminista — TYFYR.

            Perhaps you missed the implicit point, that as employers, US school systems pay for the health care of many of their employees and retirees, which is true to a much lesser extent in other OECD nations, where healthcare is universal, and financed primarily via general taxation rather than by employers.

          • http://flustercucked.blogspot.com/ Frank TheUnderemployedProfessi

            It certainly doesn’t help that we have (by far) the world’s most inefficient and expensive health care system.

            (But…but Frank…you can’t be suggesting that suchialized medicine is better than our quasi-free market system! Suchialism is just evul evul!)

          • notafeminista

            http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2013/2013344/findings.asp
            But here you go. This is for FY 2011 – rough math says of $10,326 spent for US students in 2011 (averaged of course) $8943 (or roughly 82%) was allocated for employee wages and benefits. A cursory glance at the documentation does not indicate if “employee” is solely instructiors or if it groups in administrators and support staff as well.

          • hennorama

            notafeminista — TYFYR.

            The link covers only public schools, but thanks for sharing.

      • notafeminista

        I’m betting you are not advocating US schools stop paying for the health care of its employees and retirees.

        • hennorama

          notafeminista — TYFYR.

          You’re a gambler, huh? Who knew?

          I’m not advocating anything. My questions were informative, open, and provocative, but not advocative.

          TYAFYR.

          • Rose Arena Breslin

            TYFYR and TYAFYR mean what??

          • hennorama

            Rose Arena Breslin — my apologies for using acronyms that are not universally understood.

            TYFYR = Thank You For Your Response

            TYAFYR = Thank You Again For Your Response

          • Rose Arena Breslin

            TYFYR!

          • hennorama

            YW (You’re Welcome). Truly, the lack of understanding is my fault, as I created both acronyms to aid me in my politeness, and in combination with my laziness.

            Best wishes.

    • HonestDebate1

      Do they still have the “rubber rooms” in NY?

      • X Y & Z

        Go listen to your idol, that fake conservative, war-mongering Neo-Con, Rush Limbaugh, he’ll tell you everything you need to know.

  • Jeff

    Its due to supply and demand…would you argue that a rocket scientist should be paid the same as a day care worker? Sure they have different challenges but the market puts more value on degrees that are harder to obtain. Why do we hide the market from the teaching profession? Why not let it be effected by real world influences?

  • IHateFatChicks

    Home schooling is typically done by religious extremists and those who would be typically found in a “militia”. They’re not qualified to teach their children and guarantee failure in life, inability to compete and lack of social and problem solving skills.

    • notafeminista

      Or not.

    • tbphkm33

      I would say utilizing the screen name “IHateFatChicks” qualifies as a failure in life. Why don’t you be an adult and change the screen name to something respectable.

      • hennorama

        tbphkm33 — the entity to whom you’ve replied, and which I’ve variously dubbed LoathsomeLoather, Hater, LargeYoungPoultryHater, etc. is clearly full of ……. itself, and were I to hazard a guess, has an emotional age in the mid-teens, making said entity incapable of being an adult.

        Of course, as I am not a mental health professional, I couldn’t possibly comment.

        Not that one would recommend this, but a perusal of its comments would lend considerable credence to the above.

        • IHateFatChicks

          Lets compare our CV’s, bank accounts/balance sheets and IP and we’ll see just how much of a failure and drain on society you truly are. :)

      • IHateFatChicks

        That’s an ironic comment coming from someone who wrote a thesis on the USSR. I’d happily compare my BS in Chem. E., MS in Physics and MBA in Finance from top 5 and top 10 Universities with a half-wit of a simpleton like you. NO ONE is qualified to home school their children beyond junior high school and “home schoolers” are dominated by religious extremists, anti-government mouth breathers and those marginalized by society and they guarantee at job the local Mickey D’s and Jiffy Lube for their little failures.

  • Kberg95

    Amen is right. There but for the grace of God go I.

    My wife sometimes comes home ready to bite through #6 common nails. She also teaches art and the opportunities for misbehavior and vandalism are much higher than in your average math or English classroom where you can be facing all students all the time.

    Kids also know that if you even touch them because, oh, they are destroying supplies or clogging up the sink, they can cry assault and abuse.

    I do not know how she does it, let alone how she has done it for the last 14 years. I can’t even teach Sunday school.

    Bottom line for me is that she earns every penny she is paid.

  • http://www.teachdocumentary.com Robert Lamothe

    Please see our documentary, Teachers Are Talking, Is the Nation Listening?,
    http://www.teachdocumentary.com
    http://www.reelhouse.org/fowf/teachdocumentary
    The
    truth is complex but, the press goes to Hollywood before hearing from
    those who have dedicated themselves to the profession and have
    experience and insight. Please watch our documentary made by teachers
    and sharing thoughtful and substantial experiences by dedicated and
    diverse educators with many years of experience. This will answer many
    of the questions in an in-depth way that you are asking on this show
    being aired on May 29.
    Robert and Yvonne Lamothe

  • eat_swim_read

    The 46% (or more) who leave around year six or seven are young teachers – mostly women – who go off to be moms. Yes, some stay and work outside the home in their classrooms but most don’t.
    These are facts, well-documented in literature and well-known to everyone in education. Smell teacher union BS when this stat is rolled out as ‘proof’ of the dire situation among faculty.
    Many folks who love kids enough to teach also want hands-on parenting with their own kids. This churn has nothing to do with anything else. (Ask an ed school prof for verification, it’s common knowledge.)

  • murphy35

    My sister spends more than $1,000 a year on supplies for her classroom. It’s a disgrace. Teachers do such important work, and they deserve our respect and gratitude.

    • hennorama

      murphy35 — I agree 100%. See my comment above re: modest Federal tax savings your sister may qualify for.

  • Steph

    DC public schools gives teachers 125 dollars a YEAR for school supplies and most schools require teachers to buy their own paper for copies. I now teach at a charter and still pay money for things, but while in DCPS I spent hundreds just on copy paper.

    • hennorama

      Steph — I thought it odd when host John Donvan said (paraphrasing) “Do people know about this (that teachers spend their own money on needed supllies and such)?”

      At least you might qualify for some modest Federal tax savings, from a special deduction, the Educator Expense Deduction, which has been in the Federal tax code since 2003 (with some exceptions):

      If you are eligible educator, you can deduct up to $250 ($500 if married filing joint and both spouses are educators, but not more than $250 each) of any unreimbursed expenses you paid or incurred for books, supplies, computer equipment (including related software and services), other equipment, and supplementary materials that you use in the classroom.

      See:
      http://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc458.html

  • X Y & Z

    I never said that failing schools were entirely the fault of public school teachers, there are many dedicated teachers in the public schools. My point is that EVERY parent should have the option of sending their child to a private school, if they feel the public school in their local community is not going to give their child a good education.

  • Carol Williams

    As a teacher educator, I read these posts with a great deal of sadness, confusion, and amusement. I’m not sure why the role of teachers in society seems to generate such passionate feelings on both the left and the right of the political spectrum. Teachers are easy targets for public frustration about the use of tax money, the relative fairness…impressionistic at best….about the time they spend doing their jobs, their competence or lack of it.

    There are very good teachers and some poor teachers. Most are twisting in the wind in between becoming one or the other…..as people in ALL jobs are! We cannot paint teachers with a broad brush. Having said that, I suggest readers consider the following:

    1) Many who critique teachers do so from their perspective of having been students or parents of a student. They have never walked in teachers’ shoes day by day.

    2) Most of the educational policy makers and funders of policymakers and profiteers from these policies have never walked in teachers’ shoes day by day. I will take the opinions of Arne Duncan, Bill Gates, and the members of the board of the Pearson corporation, much more seriously, after they have done this. For insight on Pearson’s role in educational reform, please read the following:

    http://deutsch29.wordpress.com/2013/12/15/about-pearson-the-golden-goose-state-standards-and-then-some/

    The so-called educational reformers have had minimal contact with the real-life dynamics and demands of classrooms. They operate from romantic images of times past, futuristic visions of what should be, or simple greed.

    3) The majority of teachers with whom I have worked in my 25 years in Education are caring, engaged, and willing to spend hours of their supposed “free time” trying to do their jobs better. When I was in the public classroom, I too spent hundreds of dollars, out of my pocket, to create meaningful, relevant experiences for students.

    4) The pendulum will swing again when the current reform efforts fail and more children fall through the cracks and we will start this seemingly eternal dialogue all over again. I sincerely hope our future educators can hold out until then. I sincerely hope our children can recover and thrive.

    • eat_swim_read

      children can “recover?”
      huh?
      I doubt any level of professor, including adjunct, wrote this rambling post. it makes little sense….

    • http://alchemicalreaction.blogspot.com/ Alchemical Reaction

      It really isn’t the teachers fault. The system has been broken for decades. But the teachers are going to have to deal with the changes when they come.

    • homebuilding

      Carol, you did not specifically mention the problem of so many children showing up for school far below an essential fund of vocabulary and with significant skill and knowledge deficits.

      Real parenting and quality pre-school instruction (no matter if this occurs at home or elsewhere) seems to be losing ground.

      My saddest day in education was when I was speaking to a lead teacher and she spoke of how she explained to her kids how far a certain car trip would be–she described it in terms of how many DVDs would be watched. I was absolutely horrified to the point of shocked silence–the habit of this teacher seemed to be that simply looking out of the car window, discussion of agricultural crops, weather, goods on trucks, distances, directions, (for little kids, the colors of vehicles; for older ones, the complexities of road and bridge building or the marketing of crops) simply wouldn’t be taught during this great opportunity of close parental proximity—all flushed down some DisneyToilet !

      Since that day, I’ve found my optimism (re nearly all things pertaining to the education of children in the USA) to be rather blunted…….

  • http://flustercucked.blogspot.com/ Frank TheUnderemployedProfessi

    I suspect that much of the root cause of our nation’s education problems is the widespread belief in the romantic mythological notion that if 100% of our kids went to college and trained to be engineers and other STEM practitioners that solid secure middle class jobs in engineering and STEM fields would magically materialize to employe everyone at current prevailing wages (and quality of living/purchasing power).

    In reality, we would simply end up with tons of unemployed and underemployed STEM graduates.

    Our populace has completely failed to come to grips with the fact that not everyone can be white collar and upper middle class or even middle class. In reality, only a small percentage of all jobs that need to be performed require or make actual direct use of a college education.

    The profound wisdom that our society lacks is that it is OK if some people are poor at math, reading, and/or writing. Most real-world jobs make little use of even a high school education. Waitresses don’t need to use their high school education. Truck drivers don’t need to use what they learned in high school. Cashiers don’t need to use most of what is taught in high school. Etc.

    What we, as a society, really need to do is to figure out how to properly distribute the wealth that is created by human labor. Perhaps it does not make sense for a tiny percentage of the populace to receive most of the wealth. If our society did a better job of distributing the wealth produced by labor, perhaps it would be easier for the sheeple to realize that college education is not for everyone and does not always have value. A change in mindset might help defuse the “Education Arms Race” (where people try to get ahead of the competition for good jobs by obtaining increasing amounts of higher education).

    Perhaps we could learn from the German educational system and then we would be less concerned about whether teachers are successfully transforming average and below-average students into college-bound geniuses.

    The sad fact of the matter is that if we sent everyone to college for STEM education, we would have the nation’s most highly educated Walmart and McDonalds employees. In reality, the supply of education-requiring white collar jobs is limited regardless of how much and how well we educate the populace.

    • http://alchemicalreaction.blogspot.com/ Alchemical Reaction

      You are ignoring two important facts that skew your argument.

      1. Not everyone wants to go to school for STEM fields.

      2. The poor haven’t had a functional socioeconomic ladder for decades. If capital was easier to access (it is becoming easier with crowd-funding), business loans didn’t require credit or collateral, but instead only proof of business education and a sound business plan, if there were more employee owned firms and cooperative corporations, if there were significant tax incentives for profit-sharing plans, if the system was essentially more Binary in nature, business education was taught at the high school level, wealth would be easier to create and there wouldn’t be so many frustrated college grads.

      The problem with wealth inequality is partly that labor is undervalued, but MOSTLY that capitalism has been abandoned. In order for capitalism to function, capital needs to be invested in the means of production, risks must be taken, loans must be given, money borrowed, profit reinvested.

      As it stands, profit is hoarded, partly in the sense that labor does;t see a share of it, but MOSTLY in the sense that it is kept in bank accounts, laddered bonds, and annuities instead of loaned and reinvested into new ventures to create more wealth.

      Wealth is exponential in pure capitalism, but the rich have a responsibility to make investments in start ups, just like the banks do.

  • bochinchero

    OK, that’s fine. However, the teachers need to realize it and adjust accordingly themselves. That was the problem. I want assurances that in the current day teachers are more aware of this issue.

  • http://alchemicalreaction.blogspot.com/ Alchemical Reaction

    More choice for consumers is always better… The same should go for education. There should be six or seven options for every student, at least until the best combination is found.

    1. Standard pubic school with more courses offered.
    2. Two course at a time accelerated public school in the same building.
    3. Charter schools.
    4. Community Supported Education Rooms. (formal tutors and families studying together.)
    5. Home School.
    6. Hybrid Home & Online School.
    7. Any combination of these.

    The feds should pay for subjects that are a national need, like STEM.
    States and local communities should pay for everything else at public schools.
    A binary system is needed.

    Public school should be set-up so homework is done DURING CLASS and lectures are watched on a screen at night.

    With the rise of online high schools, there won’t be brick and mortars left unless they get their acts together.

  • 228929292AABBB

    I love teachers, I sleep with one every night. But if they’re really wondering why people have such strong reactions to their role they should try describing that role without using hysterical phrases like ‘being a creative facilitator of learning in a classroom scaffolding’ or ‘architecting learning’ which are not only condescending but often represent flawed grammar and put the speaker in the position of seeming not only haughty but unqualified for the job at the same time – quite a trick.
    Education is complex, and inseparable from other issues such as family, so I add one thought without claiming it’s THE thought – last night I was at a school concert – director is a star and one of the best things happening in the school. Program is fantastic despite limited resources. But he will leave, because union contracts won’t allow him any sort of financial reward for his excellence. He’ll prove his worth with us then move to a town with a higher pay scale because that’s the only way he can be recognized. The best teachers in a school are paid the exact same as the worst teachers, in a country where financial means equal status. No one excellent accepts that. Didn’t work in the USSR, certainly won’t work here.

    • msblkwidow

      You said, ” The best teachers in a school are paid the exact same as the worst teachers…” Where do we put the blame for this? Who is responsible for the hiring and firing? I’ve heard, too often, that Unions are the reason districts can’t fire ‘bad teachers’. I say that’s a wrong analysis. Schools Instructional Leaders (principals) are in first in charge of school buildings. They are the people who recognize great and poor teachers. But, some of them are unable to document those poor teachers to the fullest extent. That’s where Unions come in. If Instructional Leaders would do a better job evaluating and documenting their teachers, then our schools would experience more success. ‘Bad teachers’ need to pass go. Don’t collect $200. Just Go! However, some have to be pushed out the door.

  • msblkwidow

    My point to you is: If the teacher had done a great job teaching, then the studying should have been easy. Yes, the problem is: Teachers introduce concepts…and that’s it. The students are left (with parents if they are available) on their own to get the comprehension, analysis, and evaluations (Higher Order thinking) of these various concepts the best way they can. Teachers say they don’t have time. So they skim over ideas/concepts. At least the teacher can say: “I taught that.” The students are the ones who suffer in the end.

  • Lector

    The public education system is broken, and trying to cure symptoms by increasing teacher pay or adding more standardized tests does not address the basic problem. We have a system that was designed to provide a reasonable education in basic subjects to most children. Today, we are asking the system to address not just academic needs but also nutritional, psychological, sexual, and familial issues. We insist on specialized curricula for children ranging in ability from severely mentally disabled to genius. We have an intransigent, unionized work force that becomes more recalcitrant as rules and demands increase.

    The question isn’t why the system doesn’t work, it’s do we really want a system that does everything we’re asking. Spending on public education has skyrocketed in the past few decades. Any measure- real or nominal, total or per capita- shows this. Teachers’ salaries have grown much faster (albeit from a lower base) than almost any other profession’s. Anyone who is not convinced that throwing more money at the current system won’t work isn’t paying attention.

    Schools in “good” communities generally work because the students come to school fed and clothed appropriately, having gotten a decent night’s sleep, and with a belief instilled by their parents that education is important. When a meaningful portion of students come from homes troubled by financial problems, missing parents, and with no understanding of why education is important, our system doesn’t work.

    Do we want our public schools to play the role that has traditionally been played by parents? Is it the schools’ job to give the students two or three meals a day? To ensure they have adequate medical care? To help them deal with the psychological issues arising from broken homes? If so, we need to rebuild the entire system and be prepared to pay for it.

    Special education currently consumes 25% of all public school spending. Is that fair to other students? Is it society’s job to take care of every child, no matter how limited the student’s physical or mental abilities? If so, are public schools the place to do this?

    We cannot hold public schools responsible for students’ success in life without being forever disappointed. Some students will succeed (defined as living lives they find fulfilling); others will struggle. It is ever thus.

    • Jonnie

      You hit a couple of the nails right on the head: All the money spent teaching special education students who will never amount to anything, and two: the excessive pay and benefits of a heavily unionized workforce. The high-achiecing students will always do well; the mentally and physically handicapped will not amount to much; it’s the vast cohort in the middle where the money and teacher time should be focused.

      • http://alchemicalreaction.blogspot.com/ Alchemical Reaction

        You are EXTREMELY ignorant. MOST Autistic-spectrum and Special Ed kids have unique brains. Many of them have traits of savants. They have incredible abilities in certain areas, but don’t conform well to standardized education. The Van Goghs and Einsteins of the world.

        Einstein himself forgot to put his pants on in the morning!

        EVERY KID should have an individualized education plan and their UNIQUE gifts should be nurtured. Otherwise, we are letting the geniuses fall through the cracks!

        • Lector

          Yes, but special education now consumes 25% of public school spending. Is that fair to the large majority of students who don’t need it? What are they deprived of in order to fund special ed? Should an even greater amount be spent on education? Where will the money come from? Is it society’s responsibility to provide a customized education for every person regardless of the cost? We might decide that the answer to that question is “yes,” but we haven’t done so yet. Such a decision would have to be accompanied by a significant realignment of public spending priorities.

          • http://alchemicalreaction.blogspot.com/ Alchemical Reaction

            The vast majority of students DO need it and AREN’T GETTING IT!!!!

    • http://alchemicalreaction.blogspot.com/ Alchemical Reaction

      Some of what you are saying is true. But teachers in the United States make the LOWEST SALARIES compared to their counterparts in other modern, industrialized nations.

      • Lector

        I don’t know if that’s true. According to a survey of teacher salaries around the world by the Varkey Gems Foundation, the average US teacher’s salary of $44.9k compares favorably to $43.9k in S. Korea, $43.8k in Japan, $42.3k in Germany, $39.3k in Switzerland, and $33.4k in the UK. To which modern, industrialized nations were you referring?

        It also makes sense to consider that US teachers are entitled to retire at 55 with lifetime health insurance and a pension all out of proportion to private sector benefits. In addition, job security is extremely high, and meaningful performance evaluation is almost nonexistent.

        There is a very good argument to be made for teachers being overpaid. Not in every case, but for a good number, they are not people who chose between being a teacher and being a doctor, a nuclear physicist, an investment manager, or a software programmer. They are making more money with less work, more job security, and a richer retirement than they could make in other fields. The data show that those enrolling in schools of education are below-average students in terms of GPA and standardized test scores.

        A good teacher is worth far more than $45k a year. A bad teacher isn’t worth it at any price. The problem is that our system allows no way of distinguishing between the two. They get the same salaries, the same raises, the same evaluations, and the same responsibilities.

        • http://alchemicalreaction.blogspot.com/ Alchemical Reaction
          • Lector

            Ah yes, lies, damned lies, and statistics. The NYT link you provide shows data from an OECD study. Take a look at this one:

            http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/03/average-teacher-salary-around-world_n_4037534.html

            which cites the Varkey Gems Foundation study. Both show US teachers making above-average salaries.

            The important issue, though, is not the absolute salary, which is fair. It’s the ultrarich benefits that are provided (why should teachers be able to retire at 55 with lifetime health insurance and pensions equal to 60-80% of their salary?) and the lack of accountability.

            As it stands now, you could find the best teacher in America, and it would be illegal to pay that teacher any more than the dolt in the next classroom just marking time until she can retire.

            Please don’t misunderstand me. I come from a family of teachers. I’m married to a teacher. Most of our charitable giving goes to support schools. I am honest enough, however, to admit that no matter how much we value education, the current public school system is broken.

          • http://alchemicalreaction.blogspot.com/ Alchemical Reaction

            Yes it’s broken. Yes, it needs reform.
            Yes, teachers ought to be compensated for their performance.

            Blah Blah Blah. It’s the details that matter. What solutions do you propose?

            Oh, and I see nothing wrong with health insurance and pensions. I think everyone should get that.

          • Lector

            Yes, everyone should get pensions and health care and own their own houses and a free college education and have daycare provided and lots of other things. It would be lovely. Unfortunately, no one has ever figured out how a society can afford all these things.

            There’s a difference between a pension and 60-80% of your salary for life starting at age 55. There’s a difference between having access to health insurance and having it provided at no cost for life starting at age 55.

            In my town, the average teacher salary is $80k. A teacher who retires at 55 with 70% of her salary in pension benefits and health insurance worth $15k a year costs $71k a year. If she lives for 30 years, that’s more than $2.1 million. Is it really our intent to have public employees making 60% more than the average American during their working years receive millions of dollars in retirement benefits? I believe that is undue compensation.

            As for fixing the problem of public education, I think it can be done if we agree on the role it should play. If the objective is to provide an adequate education to the large majority of students, then it’s achievable. If the objective is to provide individualized education to every child ranging in mental and physical ability from severely disabled to extraordinarily talented while also playing the family role of nutritional provider, psychological counselor, and emotional supporter, then I think we’re out of luck.

            The former objective assumes that some students will do well and others won’t. As a society, we have always accepted that. If we now try to ensure equality of outcomes (every student does well, every student goes to college, every student gets a job), then we will be forever disappointed.

            If it were up to me, I would ban teacher’s unions. I would institute a formal teacher training/mentoring program to assign a veteran teacher to each new hire for the person’s first few years. I would add a performance evaluation protocol that is based on observation of the teacher and completion of specifically assigned tasks. I would make it possible for excellent teachers to earn significantly more than average or below-average teachers.

            I would remove from the classroom students who are not capable (for physical, mental, or emotional reasons) of observing classroom rules. It is simply not fair to 25 students to have a teacher spending a good portion of every class dealing with the unruly behavior of one or two children.

            I would measure student progress through standardized testing perhaps once every 3-4 years. I would hold the schools responsible for student performance on the tests, but I would not prescribe teaching regimens. It would be up to the principals and teachers to decide how best to teach the students. Importantly, I would accept a normal distribution of test results.

            I would expand significantly the availability and attractiveness of vocational high schools. They would still offer traditional courses of study in mechanics and the trades, but they would also offer training in fields like health care, computers, and logistics that are more likely to lead to jobs for students in today’s economy.

            What would YOU do?

          • http://alchemicalreaction.blogspot.com/ Alchemical Reaction

            Federal employees get similar benefits.

            http://www.fedsmith.com/2014/04/20/how-many-federal-employees-are-in-the-highest-paid-groups/

            Perhaps instead of paying teachers less, everyone else should be paid MORE.

            Seattle just raised the minimum wage to $15.00 / hour…

            Some of your ideas are regressive!!!

            Standardized testing doesn’t work!!!

            Every student matters!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

            I DO think schools are expected to do too much “parenting” and not enough teaching. That is the crux of the problem, because of the downfall of the family unit and average employees working more hours for less pay, unable / unwilling / unskilled @ parenting their own kids at home.

            The rest of your ideas I agree with…

          • Lector

            How can you “not believe in statistics?” As someone (Churchill? Moynihan?) said, “Everyone is entitled to their own opinions but not their own facts.” To me, statistics are nothing more than the quantified evidence of what is. If we can’t agree on the facts, we have little hope of agreeing on a course of action. In and of themselves, statistics are meaningless, but as the basis for a reasoned discussion, they are crucial.

            Yes, federal (and other government employees) are entitled to similar benefits. That is also a problem. Spending on retiree benefits for government employees is destroying the economy, infrastructure, and cohesiveness of communities across the country. It is crowding out spending on roads, parks, community programs, and- yes- education. Detroit, Chicago, and Central Falls are just the tip of the iceberg.

            My town is a very well-to-do community with a fine school system. We have an unfunded liability for municipal employee retirement benefits equal to 150% of our entire annual budget. If you work for the town 20 hours a week for 10 years, you’re entitled to a pension and lifetime health insurance. That kind of benefit is all out of proportion to the value of the work.

            Public employees were only allowed to unionize in the 1960s (under Kennedy). The promised retirement benefits have gotten richer and richer over time. The number of public employees has grown, and the number of retirees from public employment is exploding. There is no viable plan in place to afford the benefits that are coming due.

            The original intent of retirement benefits for public employees was to compensate them for their “sacrifice”- earning below-average wages during their working years. That is no longer the case. Public employees are paid at or above private-sector rates. Their retirement benefits are completely out of step with the market, and they are unaffordable.

            Looking in isolation at specific issues, it’s possible to build a case for more government spending. Who would suggest that veterans not receive excellent health care? Who would argue that senior citizens should be unable to afford food or housing? Who could justify denying any student the best education possible? We can’t look at the issues in isolation, though.

            As a society, we have to consider all the issues and make choices about what gets done and what is left undone. Simply increasing government spending doesn’t work. Greece, France, Spain, and Italy prove that. The ultimate examples of the USSR, Cuba, and China show that, even when the government has all the money, it can’t provide for everyone (Yes, China is currently enjoying economic success, but the benefits are spread extremely unevenly. There is much abject poverty, and the price paid in the lack of liberty is too high).

            In the short term, redistributing wealth is appealing, and some people will benefit from getting money they didn’t earn. In the long term, though, you run out of other people’s money (as Margaret Thacher famously noted).

            Have you heard a Democrat or liberal propose a solution to the problem of unfunded Social Security, Medicare, and public employee retirement liabilities? Politicians at every level are simply kicking the can down the road, secure in the knowledge that they will be out of power before the bill comes due.

            In the final analysis, our government is broken. We simply add more and more laws, regulations, and programs on top of what’s already there. We never look back to decide if a previously-enacted law or program is still required (e.g., farm subsidies were created in the depression to address an acute problem faced by agriculture. Eighty years later, we’re still paying them to large, highly-successful corporations.).

            Unless and until we grow up, accept that we all can’t have everything we might want, and make intelligent choices about what is affordable, we remain on the road to ruin,

          • http://alchemicalreaction.blogspot.com/ Alchemical Reaction

            The problem with statistics is there are always those who fall through the cracks.

            Outliers.

            I guess because I’ve always been an outlier, I don’t believe in statistics.

            I’m the guy who has specific tastes few others have, not rich enough, not poor enough, too dark, too light, too liberal, too conservative, too this, too that, not this enough, not THAT enough…

            I’ve always been rejected by every group OR I, myself have rejected the group’s norms.

            I have literally never benefitted from statistics, that I am aware of…

            But, being the eternal “outlier” I HAVE been the victim of their failure time and again.

            I could cite numerous specific examples if this were in confidence.

            There are VAST swaths of the populace who have similar tastes, belong to groups, and behave in very similar ways.

            I’m just NOT one of them.

            So, yes, I would go so far as to say, I HATE statistics.

            This is not a pity party. I am simply providing my argument (the utter failure of statistics in dealing with outliers.)

            AND the banal ARROGANCE of those who believe this is acceptable.

            You’re just not smart enough to keep me interested in the conversation.

          • Lector

            Cooperatives are an interesting business model. I worked for one for 17 years. The Achilles heel for cooperatives is capital. Most cooperatives do not have members who can supply by themselves the capital needed to start up a company or even to invest in new technology, plant & equipment, or new lines of business. That constraint often makes them less competitive than firms with access to the capital markets.

            I like the idea of every employee having a stake in the company’s success (or failure). At the same time, I don’t know if it’s realistic to expect capable senior executives to accept the same ownership stake as a janitor who clocks his 40 hours with little stress and little responsibility. That, I think, is just human nature.

            What happens, though, when it doesn’t work out? Many more companies fail than succeed. There’s probably a better-than-even chance that the stock the employee winds up with at retirement is worth little more than it was when he got it. Are we prepared to say, “Too bad, but those are the breaks?”

            The problem isn’t that some people make too much money. It’s that some people don’t make enough. The challenge is creating a society that gives most people (we can never make it all) a decent shot at living independently.

            For a long time after WW II, we had a great manufacturing economy that provided those jobs for a lot of people. Those jobs are now gone (for the right reasons).

            To me, this brings us full circle back to education. Our public education system worked well to prepare a lot of people to go to work in factories and the trades and large companies that required clerical work. Now we need to re-make our education system to prepare a lot of people for the kinds of jobs that will be available in the future.

            I think that our community college system (open to all) is a great base to expand. Make it the norm that people go on after high school to at least a year, if not two, of study/training in fields that prepare for today’s workforce: technology, health care, legal support, design, computerized manufacturing.

          • http://alchemicalreaction.blogspot.com/ Alchemical Reaction

            I like the fact we don’t agree on everything, but there seems to be enough common ground to work with. Too bad we aren’t “calling the shots”.

            The CEO should have a larger stake, but not exponentially larger. His CEO salary makes up the difference in terms of pressure, stress, etc. being sixty or seventy times what the janitor makes. Therefore, his ownership stake should be no more than twice what the janitor’s is.
            After all, many boomers do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING for their stock and the CEOs of the companies in their mutual funds work hard on their behalf.

  • Lector

    “Dominate” or “dominant?”

  • Jonnie

    What I heard from these three ex-teachers is that they went in for the money, found it was harder than they expected, so they quit. Pretty simple really. No reason to waste an hour of NPR airtime naval gazing about it!

    • Amy

      Did you listen to the broadcast? Obviously not. Not once was their salary mentioned, and I hardly think ANY sane person goes into teaching for the money. I assume this comment is tongue-in-cheek?

      • Jonnie

        Making 75k a year (on average) for a nine-month work year is a pretty sweet gig. I got no problem with the salaries paid for the most part as they are surely well earned. Just seems a little out of place when people describe them as low or inadequate. On the contrary, probably many college grads with limited prospects go into teaching for the salary and benefit packages and job security. Again, if that’s what’s offered, I got no problem with anyone going for it. Just don’t give me the shtick that they all go in it to help students and to serve humanity.

        • Amy

          In NJ it takes a very long time for teachers to get to $75k, and every teacher I know in our public district works all summer (yes, 12 months of the year) and often weekends just to make ends meet. (And, believe it or not, even 75k in this state with its property taxes and high cost of living doesn’t actually go all that far,, particularly if you’re supporting a family). No one is giving you shtick here; most people who are primarily interested in making money do not go into teaching. It’s a great job, but a sweet gig? Try hedge fund manager.

        • Kat

          $75k? You’re joking, right? Try $56k, and starting salaries are much worse ($35-40). Also, teachers don’t work for only 9 months. Teachers continue being teachers, even after all of the kiddies have gone home. They spend hours before and after school making up lesson plans, grading, etc. Holiday breaks are spent doing the same. I am currently at a university studying Elementary Ed. I am looking at thousands of dollars of student debt, with no way to completely pay that off. I am going into teaching in spite of the salary. I know that paying off my loans will be extremely difficult on a teacher’s salary, but I am not in it for the money. I find it laughable that anyone thinks otherwise. No, not everyone is “in it for the kids.” My friend is considering teaching because it’s “easy”. I’ve had people in my education courses say the same thing, and they are the ones that can’t make it past their first year.

        • Jarrett

          Hi Jonnie,

          I have 8 years in the classroom with a masters degree. My W2 listed my wages as $38,623 (and 88 cents). Teachers in my district have 10 weeks summer leave. Just tossing some facts out there. I’m sure there are states and districts where folks in the classroom see $75k, but I’m familiar with our pay scales and can honestly say that doesn’t include anyone outside of administration where I teach.

          Opinion time: The pay isn’t terrible. It isn’t great. It isn’t what I could earn with comparable years and education elsewhere. Personally, I rather appreciate the relatively low pay: it ensures that I work with people who are really, really passionate about what they do … and it also gives me the moral high ground and allows me to exercise my well-developed martyr complex :)

  • Jeff

    Yet a teaching degree is one of the easiest to obtain…it’s one of the most relaxed programs in any college and I’ve heard many education students say “I’m not good at math, so I wanted to be come a teacher”. Yet we still have a shortage of Calculus and Physics teachers…you say the market has nothing to do with it but that…I disagree, we should pay those teachers more that have a grasp on difficult subject matter just because they are in demand and we need them for future development of engineers and scientists.

  • HiFi

    Why anyone with a college degree would want to he a HS teacher is simply beyond me. The opportunities elsewhere is obviously much better.

  • ExcellentNews

    Here is a thinking question. What do you think would happen if we raised the tax rate of our “job creating” CEOs and “wealth generating” bankers by 10% and subsidize teacher salaries from that? OMG!!!! The sky would fall and crush America!!! OMG!!!! Our terrorist enemies will win and burn the flag!!! OMG!!! God will burn us out from the map of the world!!!! Or maybe our teachers will make about $25,000 more per year (no kidding, do the math) and the system will do a better job at the most important job our society has (educating the next generation). But then again, we know thanks to Mitt Romney that $25,000 is nothing and cannot conceivably have any impact…

    • Lector

      No, YOU do the math. We’re $500 billion a year in the red now. Should any additional revenue raised be used to increase the salaries of people who are already paid fairly?

      There are fewer than 1.4 million people in the top 1% (your “CEOs and bankers?”). Increasing their taxes by $10,000 each only raises about $13.5 billion. That’s about $4400 for each of the 3.1 million public school teachers in the US. Is that enough to make a difference?

      More importantly, why should that $13.5 billion go to teachers? Why shouldn’t it go to pay for more special education or to pay the unfunded social security and medicare liabilities for our senior citizens? How about paying for the health care of our military veterans?

      It’s not as simple as raising the taxes of people you don’t like. A good part of the reason that we’ve gotten to the dismal fiscal situation we’re in is because we believed politicians who promised to give us things by taking money from someone else.

      • ExcellentNews

        That’s the worn out Republican argument against rising taxes – it simply won’t bring enough money. Not surprisingly, Republican math is in the same league as their theories on biology or climate science. Of course, all that is just rhetoric to deliver what the party really stands for – inheritance tax cuts for the oligarchy, and Victorian-era economics.

        Let’s see: 3 million teachers x 25,000 = 75 billion. That’s comparable to the “unearned income” of the top 20 hedge fund managers in the US. I’m sure that obscene level of “unearnings” is justified by the “heck of a job!” they’ve done on our economy…

        If (a) marginal taxes were restored to their Reagan era levels and (b) corporate welfare ended, the deficit would be largely closed.

        Our single most important public function is education. In few decades, all of us – veterans, CEOs, burger flippers, or welfare queens – will be dead. And replaced by the next generation. What this generation carries in their heads will determine the fate of America. Our policy since the 90s has been to reward predatory bankers and job-exporting CEOs. It’s time to reverse this, collect the money, and INVEST it where it counts.

        And yeah, I do not LIKE the people who are making billions by gutting the middle class.

        • Lector

          The hedge fund managers you mention earned their money in arm’s-length business transactions. Investors willingly gave them money to manage, and they invested well. There is no immorality or crime in that.

          I agree with closing corporate tax loopholes. If we do so, though, let’s do it for both the oil companies AND the renewable energy companies, the commodity corporations AND the farmers. A simpler, flatter tax makes a lot of sense.

          Nonetheless, raising tax rates is not the answer. In its 100 years of existence, the top income tax rate has ranged from 2% to 90%+, and during that entire time, the portion of GDP raised by taxes has never exceeded 20%. If the government continues to spend 21-24% of GDP, we will continue to run deficits and add to the debt. Keep in mind that, the last time the budget was balanced (under Clinton), government spent less than 19% of GDP. Government revenues are at an all-time high right now, and we’re still running a $500 billion deficit. We don’t have a revenue problem; we have a spending problem.

          Inherited wealth has already been taxed, sometimes two or three times. A company pays dividends from after-tax income. Recipients of dividends then pay tax on that income. If the recipient invests the dividends and earns income on the investment, he pays taxes on that. Why, when he dies, should the amount be taxed again? Just because the government wants more money?

          I’m not sure how you conclude that hedge fund managers have “done a heck of a job” with the economy. They’re not the ones spending hundreds of billions more than they take in or taking out loans that they can’t afford to pay back. Nor are they the ones deciding that paying $20 for an item at WalMart is better than paying $30 for it at a locally-owned store.

          It’s a human tendency to blame others for our problems. It makes us feel better and allows us to sleep at night. In the case of public education, government spending, and economic conditions, though, it’s not someone else’s fault. We have elected politicians who have given us exactly what we want.

  • Kevin Burber

    NO. I don’t know about Germany, but in France, this DOES NOT mean channeling kids. There is more tracking, simply because they have to pass hurdles at certain stages. These are not meant to be and I have never heard anyone refer to them as having felt punitive. They really try to get the right fit for the kid. The jobs at the end of the path vary – there are specialized programs for technicians (nanotech, a variety of lab technicians, a variety of engineering technicians who have a good job. The engineer may design a process, etc,but the technician would be trained to do very significant things in school and is really a valued employee. Their skills are both appreciated and valued monetarily. The whole thing is far, far, far more efficient. The engineer has a trusted partner and the technician is a valued member of the team.

    We have people who spend $100K for a college education only to sell used cars.

  • LucyBlakeesas

    Peyton . true that Jessica `s blurb is shocking, last
    monday I got a gorgeous Peugeot 205 GTi after having earned $6860 this past 4
    weeks an would you believe ten-k this past-month . with-out a doubt this is the
    easiest-job I’ve ever had . I actually started six months/ago and pretty much
    immediately started to bring in minimum $84… p/h . Read More Here F­i­s­c­a­l­p­o­s­t­.­C­O­M­

  • Brenda Robert

    The question isn’t why the system doesn’t work, it’s do we really want a system that does everything we’re asking.

    • donny_t

      Brenda, are you single?

  • donny_t

    This is why America is doomed to fail. In other countries teachers get paid like fortune 500 ceo’s. We want kids to goto school so we don’t have to deal with them when we goto work. We teach the importance of grades but not of knowledge. What is the one factor that will make any nation succeed? Not military, not politics: it’s education.

    • RC

      I disagree. Teachers make enough money. They can make up to $80,000 a year and they get the summer off. I am not saying that teacher are not important but let me put things in perspective. I am an architect with 20 years of experience and I make $95,000 in NYC. I think that my job like a teacher’s job is fairly important to society. The reason for this is we are responsible for life and welfare of the general public. We must know how to keep people safe in building first and foremost. I work 12 hours days minimum all year long. Some years I do not take vacation because there is so much work to do. I work with teams that include up to 50-75 people. (Dealing with people is usually the hardest part). There has never been a day that was the same. Everyday I solve 4-5 if not more very complex unique problems. I am constantly reading revision to the codes, new ways to conserve energy, about new building material and their limits etc. I have to take 36 1 hour classes every year to maintain my professional license. I work with structural civil, environmental engineers etc. BTW this is about the same for engineers in NY. Therefore I don’t know how teachers think they should be making $250,000 or what ever they think they deserve. Just my opinion.

      • RC

        typo above… I have to take 18 1 hour classes a year.

      • donny_t

        You’re in the minority because I take it you felt that education was important and therefore got a good one and subsequently a good college. If you look at the nation as a whole, why don’t most kids progress the same as you did? The vast majority of society will probably complete only high school and enter the workforce with no desire for higher education. Education is the key to everything. Imagine if every child had as good an education as you did. How many more better buildings could we have built? We could’ve probably moved to Mars by now. My point is: yes there are other professions that are important but education is the one factor that can truly move a nation forward. America has yet to do this.

        • RC

          I agree with your point. I also think my point is valid which is that teacher should not be paid like good CEO’s. Some CEO’s should not even be making what they make. But there are some very rare individuals on this planet, like Steve Jobs, who truly deserve what they what they made.

      • ExcellentNews

        The current strategy of the oligarchy is to divide working people and pit them against each other. Teacher vs. architect. City sewer inspector against private sector engineer. Wall-mart greeter vs. social worker. $35,000 vs. $45,000.

        The average compensation of the top 20 hedge fund managers in the US was $3.5 BILLION. Each. That’s money made from predatory lending. From job exporting to slave labor dictatorships. From using every trick in the book to keep wages down. From gutting the wealth of the American middle class. And these are the managers – their patrons make 10x that.

        IMHO, the only people who DESERVE such level of compensation are the likes of Dr. Flemming (inventor of penicillin) or Nikola Tesla (inventor of modern electrical machinery). Not sociopathic MBAs who peddle “prepaid debit cards” to college students with an effective interest rate of +300%.

        The average teacher does not make $80,000. And if they did, it would be good for the country. Our PROBLEM is an obscene system that pushes the wages of engineers, teachers, workers… down, and boosts the “unearned income” (taxable at 10%) of the parasitic predators on top.

        • RC

          I am not defending the salaries of hedge fund managers. I am simply stating that teachers get paid fairly.

          • donny_t

            That’s a matter of opinion because fairness denotes a level of importance. The more important a position, generally the higher the pay. Perhaps we don’t view education as important, is my point.

          • RC

            Yes, it is a matter of opinion. Yes education is important. Teachers in NYC get paid nearly as much as engineers and architects in NYC. That is my point.

  • RC

    I would be making far less as an architect with 13 years in VA. Your job does not sound easy either. Yes, teacher do prepare others to join the workforce. I actually participate in NYC ACE program which involves mentoring public high school students in architecture, construction and engineering. There is alway one or two students that make it worth it but the rest make me worry about the future. BTW, What is stopping teachers from studying architecture in Paris?

  • eat_swim_read

    Lots of whining. Even from the teacher who “retired” in her….mid-40s.
    Yawn. Tons of recycled union talking points here.
    Glad they are headed off the taxpayer dole -

    • Shawn

      I agree. After an hour, the only real complaint that came through was “I can’t do what I want.”

      I wonder if any waitresses out there were shedding tears.

      • Lector

        Yes. It was disappointing that, when John asked each of them what specifically they would do differently in the classroom, none of them had a answer. They responded with platitudes (“I would be more creative”) or non-answers (“I wouldn’t teach to the test.”).

    • ExcellentNews

      Yeah, all that these 47% know how to do is WHINE. I can’t wait for the GLORIOUS future when Tag Romney and the Baby Kochs inherit the fortunes their parents “made” from underpaid labor and can LEAD US in the war against unions….

      • RC

        @ excellent news…you are making baseless insinuations and twisting words. See my response below to you. I see no reason to accuse eat_swim _read of being a Romney sympathizer. Try to not read between the lines so hard. you sound like a drama queen with the all caps and declarations of war.

    • RC

      I agree. I can’t think of another profession which complains as much as teachers. “Oh…my job is hard, I don’t get paid enough, I don’t get respect, the curriculum changed, the students are rude…etc.” It’s like they don’t realize the rest of society have problems with their jobs too.

  • Lector

    The AVERAGE public school teacher salary in my town (in MA) is $80k.

    • Rebecca

      Your state is obviously the exception and not the standard. Massachusetts is known for doing things first before the other states. Also, I am sure the standard of living is higher there.

      • Lector

        I don’t know about the standard of living, but the COST of living is certainly high :-)

        I do realize that our town is far above the national average on teacher salaries, but my point is that teachers are paid a reasonable wage. When you add in the other benefits such as retirement benefits far in excess of private-sector workers as well as extraordinary job security and lack of performance evaluation, it’s a pretty good job.

        Perhaps the question to ask is why, after all your work and dedication, you make the same amount as someone who has mailed it in for the past ten years?

        • Rebecca

          So you are saying there is no teacher evaluation system in place in Massachusetts? That is surprising if that is the case. It is bothersome to me that I put in the same hours and years but get only half the pay only because I live in another part of the country. Doesn’t seem fair.

          • Lector

            I’m saying that there is not an effective evaluation system in place.
            Something more than 90% of teachers are rated “above average” or “superior.”
            Teachers are not moved out of schools for failure to perform. There is
            no good organization in the world that has more than 90% of its
            employees rated that highly. No high-performing organization has that little turnover.

            Out
            of curiosity, do you think that the performance evaluation process in
            your school is effective? Do teachers get legitimate, constructive
            feedback? Are they held to specific objectives requiring them to
            improve and/or learn new skills? Do the performance evaluations create
            meaningful differentiation among teachers?

            As for the salary,
            keep in mind the cost of living here. A 50 year-old, 3-bedroom ranch
            will cost you $350,000 (in an okay town nearby). We pay 6.25% in sales
            tax plus more than 5% in income tax. Real estate tax is $14-15/thousand
            based on full value assessment. Mandatory auto insurance will cost you
            more than $2000 a year. A plumber or electrician won’t come to your
            house without a $150 minimum charge (whether he does any work or not).
            You can’t get someone to mow your lawn for less than $50. Health care costs are among the highest in the country. Gas taxes,
            alcohol taxes, and tobacco taxes are very high. I think salary has to
            be considered relative to cost of living, no?

  • http://alchemicalreaction.blogspot.com/ Alchemical Reaction

    I have met with parents of autistic kids who have signed their child’s IEP, and then NONE of the services were rendered, despite state law requiring those services.

    It’s not the kid’s fault. This kid was doing his very best, as a square peg, to fit into a round hole. His autism is NOT evidence of stupidity. The kid is brilliant and at ten years old is already writing computer code!! But ask him to write his name in cursive he can’t do it.

    These kids are NOT the minority they are the MAJORITY!

    Autism has been on the rise for decades.

    Maybe teachers are overpaid for “teaching” work, but they are UNDERPAID for all the parenting they are expected to do of other people’s children, during & outside of class time.

  • RC

    First, I am comparing myself with a NYC teacher w 20 years. Go to NYC.gov and you will see that I am not uninformed. Your analysis skills are weak. Maybe that is why you are working 70 hours a week as a teacher. Second, I don’t believe you do not take anytime off. Third, if you are going to keep points then if it weren’t for people like me you would be teaching In a cave.

  • Regular_Listener

    Can someone please explain why teachers are under so much scrutiny and political pressure these days? That probably contributes to the decisions of some to leave the profession. It seems like no other line of work – not cops, not business people, not those in the food business – has to put up with the endless criticism and attacks from all sides that educators have been dealing with lately. It does not speak well for what is happening both in public education and in society as a whole.

    There are things wrong with the system, and they are closely connected to the problems in society and the economy. I know that a lot of teachers burn out – it is hard work, the pay is not high but still higher than a lot of people get (but varies from place to place and with years in the system), and the levels of appreciation and respect for one’s efforts are not what they could be. And I agree that teachers do a LOT of complaining – I have known a lot of them and been one myself – but maybe there are legitimate reasons for their gripes.

    But even as people leave teaching, there are others who would like to get in and find the door barred to them. I suspect there is some age discrimination and possibly gender discrimination that goes on. Speaking for myself, I would probably be teaching now, if I had been able to find a decent job. A lot of the openings these days are at charter schools (of course there is a big range here), many of which have low pay, long hours, and no job security, and I have not tried super hard to get in the door at one of them.

    • Guest

      Teachers are under so much scrutiny because they demand to be put on a pedestal. No other profession publicly demands this type of respect. Not doctors, not firemen, not even politicians expect to be acknowledge as the most imposrtant profession on earth. Teachers give off this vibe and it is irritating. They should try being humble.

  • homebuilding

    ……or a student, Speak, who shows up at kindergarten with a vocabulary fund that’s been severely limited by a preschool environment of poverty, uneducated single parenting, and a few billion jittery image changes on the telly. Many many disruptive and hard to teach kids come from this pool–and it’s no fault of their own. This lack of exposure can be corrected.

    As to that comment re ‘teachers on a pedestal,’ I have no idea where ‘guest’ was finding those folks. Speak, you are correct in pointing toward that occasional capricious principal who is running a school as her little fiefdom–something not apparent to others, but very painful for many teachers under her.

ONPOINT
TODAY
Sep 16, 2014
Jasmin Torres helps classmate Brianna Rameles with a worksheet at the Diloreto Magnet School in New Britain, Conn., Wednesday Feb. 22, 2012. (AP/Charles Krupa)

More parents are “red-shirting” their children in kindergarten—holding them back for a year, hoping they’ll have an edge. Does it work? We look.

Sep 16, 2014
From "Rich Hill"

“Rich Hill,” a new documentary on growing up poor, now, in rural America. The dreams and the desperation.

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Sep 15, 2014
This Monday, Sept. 27, 2010 file photo shows hikers on the South Kaibab Trail in Grand Canyon National Park, Ariz. (AP/Carson Walker)

Uproar over development plans for the Grand Canyon. We go to the Navajo Nation and the Canyon floor to see what’s at stake.

 
Sep 15, 2014
In this Thursday, Sep. 11, 2014 photo, Middle Eastern leaders stand together during a family photo with of the Gulf Cooperation Council and regional partners at King Abdulaziz International Airport’s Royal Terminal in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia. (AP/Brendan Smialowski, Pool)

President Obama says he will build a coalition of partners in the Middle East to combat ISIS. We’ll do a reality check on who’s really stepping up for what.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Our Week In The Web: September 12, 2014
Friday, Sep 12, 2014

In which you had varied reactions to the prospect of a robotic spouse.

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Beverly Gooden on #WhyIStayed
Friday, Sep 12, 2014

Beverly Gooden — who originated the #WhyIStayed hashtag that has taken off across Twitter — joined us today for our discussion on domestic violence.

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Tierney Sutton Plays LIVE For On Point
Friday, Sep 5, 2014

We break out Tierney Sutton’s three beautiful live tracks from our broadcast today for your listening pleasure.

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