Thursday, September 1, 2011

D of E head Duncan Wants More Teachers Laid Off

When many schools can't even afford books for their students and are laying off staff left and right (except administrators of course) Obama's choice to run the nations education system, Arne Duncan, straight from the super high performing Chicago Public School system (w/ its 50% drop out rate) thinks we should increase teacher's STARTING salary to $60K.

Has he even been inside a school before or actually talked to teachers? It certainly doesn't sound like it.

The idea of basing salary off of STUDENT's performance on standardized tests is stupid. What you get then is teachers teaching the test as too many students just don't care. Many schools have 'integrated' classrooms w/ the idea that the lower performing students will get help from the higher performing ones. What happens instead is that the teacher has to teach to the lowest common denominator or risk getting criticized for too many low grades and/or spending more time on BD/LD/ED issues rather than instructing.

You have good teachers and crappy teachers. Good students and crappy students. Good parents and crappy parents and good administrators and crappy administrators. The more of those good ones you have, the better the students will perform. It doesn't matter how much money you throw at them. Too many of the crappy ones and you'll get crappy performance, whether you pay the teacher $100k or not.

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Lazy Bike Commuter said...

Basing off the student performance sounds bad when you put it that way, but how else do we have performance-based pay? (or do you not want that at all?)

I don't know that there's a way to look at a teacher and say "Well, _____ teaches really really well, it's just that his students don't learn."

...not that I have a better idea, I'm just curious.

RevGreg said...

I can't believe they'd actually try the mixing of high and low performing students AGAIN. They did that at my high school back in the 80s and I vividly remember walking into history class about a week into the school year to find the desks in the room rearranged so that most desks were on one side of the room, there was a large empty gap, and then a strip of desks were along the farther wall. Then our teacher, a wonderful older woman who was the published author of several books on the Civil War, asked a small group a disruptive students to sit in the isolated chairs...and then welcomed them to come back and join the rest of us in having a good time learning things, or, they could simply sit over there and screw off like they had been as long as they didn't disturb the rest of us.

Very few moved, as I recall about five students elected to spend the entire year over there whispering among themselves and sleeping...and laughed when they failed tests or didn't hand in assignments. I still see their names every once in a while in the police logs in the paper.

The one's who split from that group and came back did fairly well without the peer pressure to misbehave...and a few actually commented that they were glad they had been introduced to learning as being a fun thing to do. It's just sad that for them it didn't occur until they were nearly done with school.

One secret to improving schools in my opinion would be to emulate Mrs. Vanderslice's example: remove the disruptive element that doesn't want to learn and which will actively drag others down with them from the system. Sit them in a room with bars on the doors and simply let them do their will prepare them for their future.

Sigivald said...

There's an even bigger problem in that suggestion, and one typical of people who've only lived in one or two big cities.

The idea that there should be a nationwide starting salary for teachers.

$60k might make sense in Manhattan, but it's utterly ludicrous for Kansas City, for example.

Cost of living varies, a lot. So, naturally do real-world salaries offered by companies that need to actually compete and make money.

There might be places where it'd help to raise teacher salaries (and fire a bunch of administrators, and increase class sizes - that's one fad that needs to die) - but the idea that DC can just impose a rule and "fix things" is ludicrous.

Thirdpower said...

'Performance based', like I said, shouldn't be based off of a once a year standardized test. All it leads to is 'teaching the test'.

Just like any job, it should be based off of their actual performance w/ evaluations, observations, self improvement, etc.

Chas said...

Markie Marxist sez: "A lousy $60k salary for teachers? It should be $100k. They won't be able to make very substantial contributions to Democratic candidates on a mere $60k salary. When it comes to education, we must do better!"

Lazy Bike Commuter said...

That makes more sense, I think I may have been focusing too much on the "STUDENT's" performance part and not on the "standardized test" part.