FacebookTwitter
Hatrack River Forum Post New Topic  Post A Reply
my profile login | register | search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Is there a third path in the education debate (Page 1)

  This topic comprises 2 pages: 1  2   
Author Topic: Is there a third path in the education debate
Darth_Mauve
Member
Member # 4709

 - posted      Profile for Darth_Mauve   Email Darth_Mauve         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Education arguments seem to come in two flavors these days.

1) We need to hold teachers accountable so that we can help the good and remove the bad. The way to do this is by testing the students. The teachers who have the most students fail are obviously the worst teachers.

or

2) Testing is a terrible way to grade teachers. All you will do is create teachers who teach the test, or know how to game the system. It will not give us teachers who teach other valuable skills, the skills we learned from the teachers we remembered as the best. Things like how to research, character, love of learning, love of math/reading/writing/science etc did not come from memorizing test questions, but from teachers who went beyond the test.

I was firmly in camp number 2.

I thought that yes, you should get rid of the bad teachers, but whether a teacher is good or bad is highly subjective. Testing has resulted in teaching robots, not teachers.

Then I listened to my wife complain about some of the teachers in her school. Yes there are terrible teachers, and there are ways we can define the terrible ones without locking ourselves into the test trap.

1) Time spent in the classroom vs time spent outside the classroom (in the teachers lounge, roaming the halls, chatting with their friend down the hall, etc) during school hours.

2) Days missing. We must expect drop-out students when they are taught by truant teachers.

3) Respect for Students. If the teachers do not respect their students, they are not good teachers. Yet from face-book scandals to comments heard in the hallways, some teachers dislike, fear, and even hate the children they teach. I'm sure a psych test could be created that could find teachers who resented their students.

Imagine a teacher's lounge where the conversation revolved around how good their students were doing instead of how terrible the monsters were. Would that not increase teacher morale, and increase new teacher retention?

Are there other--non test related areas--where we could determine good teachers from bad?

Posts: 1941 | Registered: Feb 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
TomDavidson
Member
Member # 124

 - posted      Profile for TomDavidson   Email TomDavidson         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I would like to think that we could trust principals to determine whether the teachers are good or bad, and superintendents to determine the quality of the principals. But this would require hiring good superintendents, and this is a skill no civilization has ever possessed.
Posts: 37419 | Registered: May 1999  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Tresopax
Member
Member # 1063

 - posted      Profile for Tresopax           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Education arguments along these lines miss the more important problem: Firing bad teachers does not help if there are not enough good teachers to replace them. If we need (for example) 100,000 teachers and there are only 20,000 really good teachers available, firing bad teachers from one school is only going to move the bad teachers around, because other schools will need to hire the ones that just got fired. There's no way to move 20,000 around to fill 100,000 slots.

We have a system set up that does not train teachers well, makes it difficult to be a good teacher, burns out hard-working caring teachers disproportionately, and doesn't reward teachers enough to encourage them to stay in the field. In order to change things in a significant way, we have to revise the parameters of the whole system.

Posts: 8120 | Registered: Jul 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Xavier
Member
Member # 405

 - posted      Profile for Xavier   Email Xavier         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Beyond Tresopax's objections, I think any attempt to implement a rating system that measures those things would be quickly gamed.

It would also make teaching far less attractive if you might be fired because taking days off for sickness could push your rating low enough that you get fired.

We need teaching to be more attractive to bright and talented people, not less.

I'd probably be a teacher myself if it wasn't something I'd identified as being a largely thankless and low reward profession.

Posts: 5656 | Registered: Oct 1999  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Oshki
Member
Member # 11986

 - posted      Profile for Oshki   Email Oshki         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Why are private (Christian) schools putting out a great product using underpaid teachers without any union protection or benifits?
Posts: 83 | Registered: Mar 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
TomDavidson
Member
Member # 124

 - posted      Profile for TomDavidson   Email TomDavidson         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
They aren't, for one thing. For another, they are not required to accept all students.
Posts: 37419 | Registered: May 1999  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
SoaPiNuReYe
Member
Member # 9144

 - posted      Profile for SoaPiNuReYe           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Oshki:
Why are private (Christian) schools putting out a great product using underpaid teachers without any union protection or benifits?

Everyone I know from Christian schools ended up quite bad actually.
Posts: 1158 | Registered: Feb 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Oshki
Member
Member # 11986

 - posted      Profile for Oshki   Email Oshki         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
My grandchildren are going to private Catholic grade school. (As did my children) The kids love learning and the parents are really envolved because they care enough to pay for their kids education. My genes will flourish and continue. That is what it is all about isn't it?
Posts: 83 | Registered: Mar 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
kmbboots
Member
Member # 8576

 - posted      Profile for kmbboots   Email kmbboots         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Oshki:
Why are private (Christian) schools putting out a great product using underpaid teachers without any union protection or benifits?

It used to be because they used (almost) free labour. Nuns.

They also can get rid of students who are problems who drag down the average test scores. And, for the most part, the students have parents who are involved enough and can afford to send them to private school.

Posts: 11187 | Registered: Sep 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
The Rabbit
Member
Member # 671

 - posted      Profile for The Rabbit   Email The Rabbit         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Oshki:
Why are private (Christian) schools putting out a great product using underpaid teachers without any union protection or benifits?

They aren't. If you control for socio-economic class of the families, private Christians schools actually do worse than public schools.
Posts: 12591 | Registered: Jan 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Belle
Member
Member # 2314

 - posted      Profile for Belle   Email Belle         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
My grandchildren are going to private Catholic grade school. (As did my children) The kids love learning and the parents are really envolved because they care enough to pay for their kids education.
There are many parents who care deeply about their kids education but believe that that education is best accomplished in public schools.

quote:
My genes will flourish and continue. That is what it is all about isn't it?
It would be difficult for my genetic offspring to flourish more than they have from their time in public school. My oldest daughter must decide which of several full ride offers to college to accept (full ride by my definition is full tuition, room, and board). There were dozens of schools that contacted her and said she was eligible for full tuition scholarships that she dismissed out of hand because she didn't want to go there.

Three of my four children have participated or are participating in the Duke University Talent Identification program and the one that isn't missed qualifying by one point.

They love to learn and they are getting a quality education. All of them have never attended anything but public schools.

I care about their education, they care about their education, and yes, it is possible to demonstrate that caring in ways that do not involve writing an outrageous check for private school tuition.

By the way, I could practically guarantee every student I taught would pass the high school graduation exam and make a score on the ACT high enough to guarantee college acceptance. The only thing you have to do is let me pick the students I want to teach and reject the ones I don't.

Edit: maybe I should learn how to spell "graduation"

Posts: 14428 | Registered: Aug 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Geraine
Member
Member # 9913

 - posted      Profile for Geraine   Email Geraine         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I'm in camp #2 as well. I think part of the problem is the amount of pressure put on teachers to only teach a certain curriculum. I think standardizing subjects so that everyone is taught the exact same thing gets boring.

The classes in high school I learned the most in had teachers that weren't by the book. They weren't just teaching material, they were made us want to learn it. They made it fun. Sometimes it doesn't even have to be during class. I had an English teacher Mrs. Carter, that was in her 70's. She would carry around a ruler wherever she went. In between classes she would run up to any girl wearing shorts to make sure they were long enough and get after them if they were too short. During class if someone fell asleep she would smack your desk with the ruler. I know that sounds like she was mean, but she always had this look in her eye that you knew she was doing it as a joke. I've never laughed so hard than in her class either. The jokes she cracked when we read "A Modest Proposal" still make me smile when I think about them. "Gerber Baby Food: Not just for babies anymore!"

Posts: 1937 | Registered: Nov 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
fugu13
Member
Member # 2859

 - posted      Profile for fugu13   Email fugu13         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I have certain ideas on specific aspects of reorganization I would like to see: in particular, I want protection against firing of teachers broken, and a significant increase in budget for education that aims to do things like hire really good superintendents who have serious nonprofit management experience, for instance.

But the biggest reforms I would like to see would be the elimination of federal requirements(or "guidelines" that are effectively requirements -- guidelines that are just that are fine) for education and the streamlining of federal funding to be mostly in the form of special low interest loans states can draw on to deal with generalized problems, combined with another loan program that's applied for at the school and district level for reforming specific problem schools and small groups of schools.

Then, I'd like funding of education to mostly move to the state level, combined with a serious reduction in the amount of state-mandated testing. I'm okay with testing every two or three years in basics, but I see no reason that test, covering all (basic) subjects, should be longer than a part of a day, maybe a day taking it leisurely; I feel the lengthy tests are mostly to provide ways to at least make even very bad scores sound better (if there are 300 questions with four options, a student can score a 75 by picking randomly) plus the results of over-measuring in an attempt to 'fix' perceived problems with the measurement instrument that tend to be problems with student achievement. Schools might also be required to formulate their own, more integrated (read: based on classroom performance) performance metrics for students, but those would then be assessed long-term based on their capability in predicting student achievement.

Posts: 15770 | Registered: Dec 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
natural_mystic
Member
Member # 11760

 - posted      Profile for natural_mystic           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
For me these are both sideshows to the bigger problem. From the data I've seen the education system chiefly fails those lower on the socio-economic ladder. There are many reasons for this, but one which is both quantitatively supported and intuitively unsurprising is the phenomenon of "summer learning loss". Basically, there is a ridiculously long summer break in which middle and upper class families have the wherewithal to find constructive ways to occupy the time of their progeny. Not so the poorer families. In fact the effect is negative. In addition to the summer break being a time where no learning takes place, it is also true that learning is "lost". The upshot of this is that more of the already limited time is spent re-learning forgotten material instead of learning new material. By reducing the summer break more teaching time is provided, and there is less time to lose what has already been taught. There would be significant push-back to this both from the formidable summer camp industry and, presumably, teachers for whom the long summer break is one of the perks of the job.

To the original question of metrics, it's hard to think of good metrics that aren't burdensome logistically. Ideally, the actual classroom would be observed; perhaps have lessons recorded. But, of course, recording equipment is expensive, and, for it to be meaningful, the teacher would either have to be unaware that the lesson is being recorded, or have to believe that all lessons are recorded (though only a subset evaluated).

[ February 16, 2011, 03:16 PM: Message edited by: natural_mystic ]

Posts: 644 | Registered: Sep 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
rivka
Member
Member # 4859

 - posted      Profile for rivka   Email rivka         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by fugu13:
I have certain ideas on specific aspects of reorganization I would like to see: in particular, I want protection against firing of teachers broken, and a significant increase in budget for education that aims to do things like hire really good superintendents who have serious nonprofit management experience, for instance.

But the biggest reforms I would like to see would be the elimination of federal requirements(or "guidelines" that are effectively requirements -- guidelines that are just that are fine) for education and the streamlining of federal funding to be mostly in the form of special low interest loans states can draw on to deal with generalized problems, combined with another loan program that's applied for at the school and district level for reforming specific problem schools and small groups of schools.

Then, I'd like funding of education to mostly move to the state level, combined with a serious reduction in the amount of state-mandated testing. I'm okay with testing every two or three years in basics, but I see no reason that test, covering all (basic) subjects, should be longer than a part of a day, maybe a day taking it leisurely; I feel the lengthy tests are mostly to provide ways to at least make even very bad scores sound better (if there are 300 questions with four options, a student can score a 75 by picking randomly) plus the results of over-measuring in an attempt to 'fix' perceived problems with the measurement instrument that tend to be problems with student achievement. Schools might also be required to formulate their own, more integrated (read: based on classroom performance) performance metrics for students, but those would then be assessed long-term based on their capability in predicting student achievement.

I like your ideas and wish to subscribe to your newsletter.
Posts: 32919 | Registered: Mar 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Belle
Member
Member # 2314

 - posted      Profile for Belle   Email Belle         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
I have certain ideas on specific aspects of reorganization I would like to see: in particular, I want protection against firing of teachers broken, and a significant increase in budget for education that aims to do things like hire really good superintendents who have serious nonprofit management experience, for instance.

When I see something like this I wonder what people really mean, so instead of putting words in your mouth, would you explain to me what you mean by "protections against firing?"

The reason I ask is that many people are under the (mistaken) impression that tenured teachers cannot be fired for cause. They absolutely, positively can. I know teachers who have been.

What tenured teachers are protected from is firing without cause. It means you have to have a reason to let them go. As a non-tenured teacher, I can be released at the end of my contract and non-renewed for the next year for any reason - and I am not even entitled to know the reason why.

Not so with tenured teachers. Now, we all know there are abuses of the tenure system. I don't support that. I think teachers suspended for cause should be suspended without pay. But, there is no doubt that tenure does do a good job most of the time in protecting teachers for being fired for spurious reasons - say you have a principal who thinks a black female should not teach math to white males. Or one who doesn't want to pay a the higher salary a teacher with a master's degree is entitled to earn so he decides to let her go and hire a new, young, cheaper teacher. Or he wants to give his mistress who just graduated a job, so he clears a spot for her by getting rid of a teacher.

Those are the abuses I don't want to see occur if tenure is abolished. Nor do I like to see teachers who are convicted of felonies draw salaries - or any of the other tenure abuses we hear about. But the argument that tenure teachers can't be fired is wrong. Most of the time, you are dealing with an administration who does not want to follow the steps required to show cause before firing. And that is a different issue.

Posts: 14428 | Registered: Aug 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Bokonon
Member
Member # 480

 - posted      Profile for Bokonon           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by natural_mystic:
For me these are both sideshows to the bigger problem. From the data I've seen the education system chiefly fails those lower on the socio-economic ladder. There are many reasons for this, but one which is both quantitatively supported and intuitively unsurprising is the phenomenon of "summer learning loss". Basically, there is a ridiculously long summer break in which middle and upper class families have the wherewithal to find constructive ways to occupy the time of their progeny. Not so the poorer families. In fact the effect is negative. In addition to the summer break being a time where no learning takes place, it is also true that learning is "lost". The upshot of this is that more of the already limited time is spent re-learning forgotten material instead of learning new material. By reducing the summer break more teaching time is provided, and there is less time to lose what has already been taught. There would be significant push-back to this both from the formidable summer camp industry and, presumably, teachers for whom the long summer break is one of the perks of the job.

To the original question of metrics, it's hard to think of good metrics that aren't burdensome logistically. Ideally, the actual classroom would be observed; perhaps have lessons recorded. But, of course, recording equipment is expensive, and, for it to be meaningful, the teacher would either have to be unaware that the lesson is being recorded, or have to believe that all lessons are recorded (though only a subset evaluated).

Also pushback from places that would have to make schools summer-proof (Read: having central air conditioning). There are plenty of places up here in New England that are/cheap that they don't have any way, aside from opening the windows, for cooling down a classroom.

This isn't a cheap thing. Certainly surmountable though.

Posts: 6996 | Registered: Nov 1999  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Teshi
Member
Member # 5024

 - posted      Profile for Teshi   Email Teshi         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
because they care enough to pay for their kids education.
Hahahaha.

I teach in a private school. It's undoubtedly an advantage to go to one, especially in England.

I think that most bad teachers can actually be improved by being given help/support/ideas. Canada does this more than firing and I would say Canada has excellent teachers.

Of course, teaching is very well paid in Canada.

Posts: 8473 | Registered: Apr 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
fugu13
Member
Member # 2859

 - posted      Profile for fugu13   Email fugu13         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Belle: firing a tenured teacher for many causes isn't terribly hard. Unfortunately, firing a teacher who just isn't a very good teacher is made virtually impossible by many tenure systems. No worries about me believing that tenured teachers can't be fired, but I have both observed directly numerous problems with hard to fire teachers (in a well functioning school system and under strong principals, as it happens), and have seen at a distance some very large school systems unable to deal with problem schools with problem teachers even when the principals are switched out for aggressive advocates of better teaching.

As for the abuses tenure protects against, I expect those abuses to be minimized in teaching just as they are in most of the workforce.

Posts: 15770 | Registered: Dec 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
The Rabbit
Member
Member # 671

 - posted      Profile for The Rabbit   Email The Rabbit         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
I teach in a private school. It's undoubtedly an advantage to go to one, especially in England.
It may be undoubtedly an advantage in England, but the advantage is highly questionable in the US.

My husband taught for several years in an elite college prep private high school. There were advantages to attending that school but for most people those advantages wouldn't be worth the price tag.

In the same area, there are several top flight public high schools with outstanding IB and AP programs. You don't get the same kind of personal attention at those schools, but you can get a really excellent education. In fact, the public schools offer a lot more choices, more different tracks, more sports, more music programs, more extra curricular activities, more vocational options, more variety in general.

In my experience with this particular high school, the claim that private school parents are more involved because they care more is not at all accurate. For most to the parents at that elite school, volunteering or any type of personal involvement were out of the question. They seem to feel that paying a lot of money for tuition absolved them from any other obligations toward their children's education.

Posts: 12591 | Registered: Jan 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
The Rabbit
Member
Member # 671

 - posted      Profile for The Rabbit   Email The Rabbit         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
As for the abuses tenure protects against, I expect those abuses to be minimized in teaching just as they are in most of the workforce.
Public school teaching is just like other parts of the work force. Public school teachers are far more open to personal attacks and political vendettas. I've seen some teachers, who I've worked with and thought we extraordinary and dedicated, come under really severe attack from parents and even community leaders without any just cause.

I don't think its an intractable problem, but it is a real problem that shouldn't be ignored.

Posts: 12591 | Registered: Jan 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
DDDaysh
Member
Member # 9499

 - posted      Profile for DDDaysh   Email DDDaysh         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by natural_mystic:
For me these are both sideshows to the bigger problem. From the data I've seen the education system chiefly fails those lower on the socio-economic ladder. There are many reasons for this, but one which is both quantitatively supported and intuitively unsurprising is the phenomenon of "summer learning loss". Basically, there is a ridiculously long summer break in which middle and upper class families have the wherewithal to find constructive ways to occupy the time of their progeny. Not so the poorer families. In fact the effect is negative. In addition to the summer break being a time where no learning takes place, it is also true that learning is "lost". The upshot of this is that more of the already limited time is spent re-learning forgotten material instead of learning new material. By reducing the summer break more teaching time is provided, and there is less time to lose what has already been taught. There would be significant push-back to this both from the formidable summer camp industry and, presumably, teachers for whom the long summer break is one of the perks of the job.

Mystic, what about the push back from parents who WANT their children to experience some of life outside of a classroom? Some of my most meaningful educational experiences happened during summer vacation. To get rid of it would have set my education back considerably! I took Geometry in 3 weeks between 7th and 8th grade, and Algebra II AND my first college level history class between 8th and 9th, and that's without considering the family road trips. (And my parents, both teachers and with 6 kids, were definitely not "RICH". In fact, every year I was in school we should have qualified for reduced fee lunch.)

You'd also end up with even bigger truancy problems than you have right now. People are not going to deal well with never being allowed to take vacations with their children. It's just not going to happen. So then you'll have kids missing weeks at a time at tons of different times around the school year. Teacher's will go crazy trying to figure out who missed what, and you'll have lots of kids missing really crucial lessons.

You're also ignoring the economic impact that many "year round" programs end up having on families where all parents work, particularly those who work low paying or hourly jobs. (This is true for both single parents and two parent households with where both work.) Year-round programs schedule a one or two weeks off at different times during the year. This erratic schedule means that it can be very hard for parents to find child care. Cheap summer camps run by YMCA's or churches aren't usually available. I know several parents right now struggling with this problem.

Also, teacher's don't get summers off as a "perk of the job". They are actually NOT PAID for the summer months. Their salary usually only covers 9 months of the year (though some teachers voluntarily spread their checks over all 12 months, which helps schools with cash flow issues), so if you want to TRULY go year round, you have to find a way to pay for 2-3 more months of salary.

Until all of those problems can be solved, I seriously doubt having year-round school will help many people at all. Good, quality after-school homework programs and summer enrichment programs might, but simply extending the regular school year will not.

Posts: 1321 | Registered: Jun 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Belle
Member
Member # 2314

 - posted      Profile for Belle   Email Belle         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Also, teacher's don't get summers off as a "perk of the job". They are actually NOT PAID for the summer months. Their salary usually only covers 9 months of the year (though some teachers voluntarily spread their checks over all 12 months, which helps schools with cash flow issues), so if you want to TRULY go year round, you have to find a way to pay for 2-3 more months of salary
Definitely. My contract is for 187 days. I get checks for all twelve months, but it's because my 9-month salary is spread out over those 12 months. I'm certainly not paid for my two months off in the summer, nor am I paid for the time off at Christmas or spring break.

Teachers also do not have vacation days. I have some personal days, but only two are paid - the other three I have to pay the school district back for the cost of my substitute.

It's not just salaries that would go up if we went to year-round school but also utilities, as has already been pointed out. In Alabama, where summer temps reach high 90's, that is considerable.

I think the answer is summer enrichment - and if one is willing to check, you can find many of them offered free in communities. The argument "poor kids get no summer enrichment because they can't afford it" isn't exactly true. I mean, my kids do a lot of enrichment activities in the summer and I don't pay for it. I use free programs at libraries, free days at the zoo, free museum admission days, etc.

It's not the money, per se, but transportation that is the real issue. Obviously I don't work in the summer - it's kids stuck in their houses all summer long without a parent to take them to free events that suffer. What we need are programs that are either located in the community so students can access them without needing a driver, or run the school buses in the summer and take kids places. That requires money, and effort, but might pay off.

Posts: 14428 | Registered: Aug 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
natural_mystic
Member
Member # 11760

 - posted      Profile for natural_mystic           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by DDDaysh:
Mystic, what about the push back from parents who WANT their children to experience some of life outside of a classroom? Some of my most meaningful educational experiences happened during summer vacation. To get rid of it would have set my education back considerably! I took Geometry in 3 weeks between 7th and 8th grade, and Algebra II AND my first college level history class between 8th and 9th, and that's without considering the family road trips. (And my parents, both teachers and with 6 kids, were definitely not "RICH". In fact, every year I was in school we should have qualified for reduced fee lunch.)

If your experience were typical I would not be making this suggestion. If kids self-study, or have parents help them with academic-type work or otherwise encourage learning over the summer break, then that's great. Two points: 1. I'm not advocating zero summer break. Currently the break in many parts of the country is almost three months. If this was reduced to 1 month I think there is still sufficient time to take meaningful road trips/family vacations. 2. If both your parents were teachers, were they also off in the summer? The chief beneficiaries of the shorter summer break would be, say, single-parent families where the care-giver gets only 10 vacation days a year and works 9-5.
quote:

You'd also end up with even bigger truancy problems than you have right now. People are not going to deal well with never being allowed to take vacations with their children. It's just not going to happen. So then you'll have kids missing weeks at a time at tons of different times around the school year. Teacher's will go crazy trying to figure out who missed what, and you'll have lots of kids missing really crucial lessons.

As mentioned above, I'm not advocating zero vacation, just a shorter one that hopefully still allows for family vacations. The concept of a family vacation is not uniquely American; other countries are able to achieve this and still have kids go to school more days a year than in the states.

In addition, you could allow more flexibility by using the summer as more a time for getting practice in concepts that have already been taught than teaching new concepts so that if a family takes there kids out of school during these months it is not such a big deal.

quote:

You're also ignoring the economic impact that many "year round" programs end up having on families where all parents work, particularly those who work low paying or hourly jobs. (This is true for both single parents and two parent households with where both work.) Year-round programs schedule a one or two weeks off at different times during the year. This erratic schedule means that it can be very hard for parents to find child care. Cheap summer camps run by YMCA's or churches aren't usually available. I know several parents right now struggling with this problem.

I'm advocating less rather than zero, so hopefully this issue won't arise.

quote:

Also, teacher's don't get summers off as a "perk of the job". They are actually NOT PAID for the summer months. Their salary usually only covers 9 months of the year (though some teachers voluntarily spread their checks over all 12 months, which helps schools with cash flow issues), so if you want to TRULY go year round, you have to find a way to pay for 2-3 more months of salary.

I think I was a bit unclear. I was simply listing possible (sub)groups who would push back against the idea of a reduced summer vacation. I'll elaborate a bit on what was meant by "perk of the job." Teachers are in the following situation: they draw salary X for their teaching job which runs ~9 months. They can then choose to supplement that income by working in the remaining 3 months. I know some teachers who are able to command a higher hourly wage over summer. I would guess the this is not true of the majority of teachers. Or they can choose to take a three month vacation. Or they can choose to write a novel etc. This flexibility has some value. I could not, for example, take a three month break and expect to find my job waiting for me at the end. Clearly those who are able to supplement their income at a higher rate benefit financially, and those who want to write novels or spend time with their kids might also be reluctant to give this up. This is not to say that the majority of teachers would not prefer to be paid for 220 days and lose some of this flexibility.

To the latter point, yes, I would fully expect to increase the pay of the teachers at least in accordance with the hourly or daily rate they are at for the current school year. Yes this is going to be expensive.

Posts: 644 | Registered: Sep 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
The Rabbit
Member
Member # 671

 - posted      Profile for The Rabbit   Email The Rabbit         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I am aware of several schools who are already doing what is called "year round school". In these schools, classes still only meet for 180 days per year, but the vacation time is split into several shorter periods. The parents and teachers I know who are involved in these schools are uniformly positive. Teachers say the shorter breaks mean less lost time at the beginning and end of each segment. The parents say that the shorter breaks give kids less time to get bored and restless. I've also heard families say they spend more of the break time doing something special when it comes in several small blocks. It's too easy to assume there is always more time during a long summer vacation and then discover its all been squandered.

Since schools are still only meeting 180 days a year, there isn't an extra cost for teachers. In some cases, the year round schedule can actually reduce costs because schools can accommodate more kids in the same building by staggering vacations. The biggest draw back in most areas is that schools would have to be air conditioned to be usable during the hot summer months.

The programs I'm aware of, however, are all elementary and middle school programs. I think it would have more disadvantages at the high school level where opportunities like summer jobs, travel or college classes require a longer break. It could, however, also have some advantages. A two week break between quarters would be a perfect time for all kinds of interesting extracurricular activities. The real draw back would be for poor families for whom a teenagers summer job is important.

Posts: 12591 | Registered: Jan 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
DDDaysh
Member
Member # 9499

 - posted      Profile for DDDaysh   Email DDDaysh         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Rabbit, the current year-round situation is also the one where I know alot of parents are struggling. I have to admit, the only people I know with year-round school are single moms, but for them it's pure hell. Because their school does a staggers the schedule, there is no school based day-care type program for the breaks. Because the breaks are scattered and not for very long at any one time, they have a VERY hard time finding reasonably priced child care. It's a pure nightmare for most of them, often resulting in kids being left home alone or with "not all that trustworty" relatives.
Posts: 1321 | Registered: Jun 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
scholarette
Member
Member # 11540

 - posted      Profile for scholarette           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Wouldn't those parents still have trouble with summer programs? I have yet to see any summer camps that I find affordable, even looking at city ones. I am unemployed so I can hobble together a fun summer with free museum days, free library programs, different church bible schools (I am good with all faiths that offer cheap/free stuff) but that requires time, effort, transportation and knowledge.
Posts: 2223 | Registered: Mar 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Belle
Member
Member # 2314

 - posted      Profile for Belle   Email Belle         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Boys and Girls clubs often have very affordable summer programs. I don't know if they went to year-round school as described if those same programs would still be available.

I would be fine with the shorter, more frequent breaks, but I agree that it is less workable in high school. Many high school students either work or take college classes in the summer and that is something that would be difficult to give up. So if you're not going to do year - round school in high school, then what about a family with kids in elementary, middle, and high school (like me, right now for instance)?

Should their kids be on two different schedules?

Posts: 14428 | Registered: Aug 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
King of Men
Member
Member # 6684

 - posted      Profile for King of Men   Email King of Men         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Before you go into all this practical stuff, how about checking whether the long breaks are actually the problem? There's such a thing as running a controlled experiment before tinkering with complicated systems. Has anyone checked what the length of breaks is in other countries, which presumably have better schools? Take Finland, for example, famous for its good schools; what length of summer break do they have? Norway, I note in passing, has 190 school days per year, although usually only about two months' worth of summer break.
Posts: 10645 | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Horza
New Member
Member # 12416

 - posted      Profile for Horza           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
The summer learning loss phenomenon is well documented for those lower on the socio-economic ladder in the US. I don't know whether it occurs elsewhere. Finland demonstrates that quality over quantity can be done. However, they have a much stronger welfare safety net than the US which presumably mitigates some of the disadvantages the poor face, and they spend a greater share of GDP on education. Were the US to implement a longer school year or change the structure of the year to shorten the summer break in order to deal with summer learning loss it would basically be a welfare program as the summer learning loss is not a problem for the middle and upper classes. However it is a welfare program that even conservatives might be able to get behind as it clearly funnels benefits only to the children, so the moral hazard concerns conservatives often raise with aiding poor adults are less applicable.
Posts: 2 | Registered: Nov 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Swampjedi
Member
Member # 7374

 - posted      Profile for Swampjedi   Email Swampjedi         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Does "The System" crush good teachers' spirits, and make them into mediocre or even bad teachers? I've heard it likened to a meat grinder.

---

How can we hope that some of the best and brightest will go into teaching when the environment and compensation are so poor?

I'm far from the best and brightest, but the only way I'd consider moving from being an engineer to a math/science teacher is if I wasn't worried about income anymore.

Those of you who choose teaching because it's important, and because you enjoy it, are saints. I hate that the profession contains (as far as I can see) many people who landed there because they couldn't make it elsewhere.

Posts: 1069 | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Samprimary
Member
Member # 8561

 - posted      Profile for Samprimary   Email Samprimary         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Blah, had to repost this.

quote:
Originally posted by Swampjedi:
Does "The System" crush good teachers' spirits, and make them into mediocre or even bad teachers? I've heard it likened to a meat grinder.

"the system" is very dehumanizing, and additionally has the overwhelming capacity not just to drive away potentially good teachers in droves, but to reward perverse incentive in all teachers that remain, good and bad, and bring most involved to despair over the brokenness.

I'm still getting my education degree. i don't know why. i'm being warned away by practically everything and everyone. doesn't matter how optimistic and idealistic they are, or how genuine they are in their enthusiasm to teach. Within a year and a half they're all saying they will "not ever again consider" being a teacher unless they are left with a choice between teaching and, say, being a starving gas station attendant. It isn't even worth it to them to stick it out in a job field that makes them virtually immune to being fired.

I made the likeness to the meat grinder, and that was specifically in regards to Teach for America. It recruits from the best and brightest potential in the teaching education field and sends them into hopelessly broken inner-city schools as unacclimatized rookie interns, putting them into positions which are unfathomably capricious, stressful, filled with unhelpful and unfireable entrenched 'veterans' as their superiors and 'role models,' and immediately submerges them in occupational stresses which TfA manifestly cannot mentor them through. A year after their TfA contract expires, about 80% of them are gone.

Others, including here on Hatrack who are teachers, may have provided a depressing summation about what they have learned while attempting to advance their teaching career.

Posts: 15417 | Registered: Aug 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
The Rabbit
Member
Member # 671

 - posted      Profile for The Rabbit   Email The Rabbit         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Rabbit, the current year-round situation is also the one where I know alot of parents are struggling. I have to admit, the only people I know with year-round school are single moms, but for them it's pure hell. Because their school does a staggers the schedule, there is no school based day-care type program for the breaks. Because the breaks are scattered and not for very long at any one time, they have a VERY hard time finding reasonably priced child care. It's a pure nightmare for most of them, often resulting in kids being left home alone or with "not all that trustworty" relatives.
As Scholarette pointed out, unless a family has a stay at home parent school breaks are a problem no matter how you divide them through the year. Since year round schools are the exception, its not surprising that they pose a bigger problem. As has been noted, all kinds of community organizations offer special programs and day camps during the summer months when most kids are out of school. Day care centers are prepared to handle the summer break crowd. I'm fairly sure if all schools went to a year round schedule, community programs would adapt to handle multiple shorter breaks.

Right now, the problem with year round schools is really that they are different from the norm.

Posts: 12591 | Registered: Jan 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Belle
Member
Member # 2314

 - posted      Profile for Belle   Email Belle         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
The problem, Rabbit, is that not all year-round schools are standardized. Many of them stagger in order to get more students in the building at a time. That means one school system may take a two week break the first half of November, where another takes it the second half of November. Many, many teachers teach in systems other than the ones their children attend (like me). If I have my break the first half, and my kids have theirs the second half - then how can I care for my children? Many teachers can stay in teaching only because they do not need to spend excessive amounts on childcare because generally, they are off the same times their children are off. That would go away with a staggered schedule for many people, opening up a lot more problems.

You also run into the problem where you have kids from the same family on a staggered schedule. So, the 7th graders for example have the earlier break and the 5th graders have the second. A family with a 7th grader and a 5th grader have a kid out of school for the entire month. That means they have twice the trouble arranging childcare as normal.

IF year round school were the norm and breaks were standardized so that generally speaking, all schools were closed at the same time, then yes, I would be for it. But, most year round school programs stagger in order to save money on buildings, and I cannot see that changing. That means that you will have problems with siblings going to school at different times and teachers teaching when their kids are home and vice versa. I don't get paid too much money in this profession - one of the consolations is that I can spend more time with my kids and husband. That would change drastically if they staggered school schedules and my schedules didn't match up with my kids or my kids' schedules didn't match with each other.

Posts: 14428 | Registered: Aug 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
scholarette
Member
Member # 11540

 - posted      Profile for scholarette           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
When my aunt'skids did school year round, they made sure all the siblings had the same breaks. I would think that would be fairly easy to do by assigning addresses to programs, like they do now with schools.
Posts: 2223 | Registered: Mar 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
dkw
Member
Member # 3264

 - posted      Profile for dkw   Email dkw         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I have friends in a district with a "3 months on, one month off" type schedule. They do stagger, but families are kept on the same schedule -- I think they do it alphabetically by the custodial parent's last name, so it keeps kids in the same household on the same schedule across the district. I don't know if the teachers also get the "off" months, and if they do whether it's possible to get on the schedule that co-ordinates with your kids, but I'd think it might be, depending on how many teachers had kids in the district (and what the alphabetical distribution of their last names was).

The "community groups provide free or low-cost enrichment activities" thing just isn't true in rural areas, though. In areas where the kids are bused 3 or 4 towns away for school there aren't going to be break programs close and convenient.

Posts: 9866 | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
The Rabbit
Member
Member # 671

 - posted      Profile for The Rabbit   Email The Rabbit         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Belle, I completely understand all the problems with the way year round schools are currently run in staggered schedules. But these issues are truly a red herring in this debate since we are discussing how we might improve schools not whether year round schools, as they are commonly implemented right now, would be an improvement.

Year round schools are a hard sell because they are a change and most people have a sentimental attachment to the long summer breaks they enjoyed as kids. They've only really caught on either as special charter schools or in areas where the only other option is to raise taxes to build a new school.

The big reason year round schools haven't caught on more widely is that they only save money in particular circumstances where the school population is growing and they serve as an alternative to building new schools. In most of the country, school populations are shrinking not growing so I doubt there would be a lot of pressure to move to staggered school schedules.

What I would actually propose is cutting the summer break in half and making a longer winter break and spring break. I'm confident it would be a positive change for education but it will a hard sell. In a very large part of the country, it would require schools to add air conditioning and that initial cost is probably enough to stop it (at least in the current political climate).

Posts: 12591 | Registered: Jan 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
The Rabbit
Member
Member # 671

 - posted      Profile for The Rabbit   Email The Rabbit         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Getting back to the initial question, I think the idea that teachers should be evaluated based on the performance of their students on tests is fundamentally flawed in just about every way. The most important of which has little to do with teaching to the test. Teachers aren't the only factor that affects how well students do on tests. In fact, they aren't even the most important factor.

The students themselves are the most important factor. Evaluating teachers based on student performance will inevitably penalize the teachers who have the hardest teaching jobs and reward those that have the luck to be teaching bright kids with supportive families.

But this doesn't mean that teachers shouldn't be evaluated. I think if teachers want more respect and higher pay, they have to accept some sort of evaluation system. If we take proper care it shouldn't be that difficult to devise an evaluation process that's fair and reasonably isolated from political pressures. I'd recommend a process that's based on peer evaluation, (preferably using experienced teachers from neighboring schools to avoid conflict of interest).

Posts: 12591 | Registered: Jan 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Swampjedi
Member
Member # 7374

 - posted      Profile for Swampjedi   Email Swampjedi         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Conflict of interest is going to occur whenever you have unioned employees reviewing other unioned employees in the same job type. Even assuming it isn't, how would the review work?

What attributes does a good teacher have that can be evaluated? I don't know how to quantify that (speaking as an ex-student), even though "I know it when I see it".

Posts: 1069 | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
fugu13
Member
Member # 2859

 - posted      Profile for fugu13   Email fugu13         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
What attributes does a good teacher have that can be evaluated? I don't know how to quantify that (speaking as an ex-student), even though "I know it when I see it".
While quantitative attributes are included in many job evaluations, almost all jobs have this problem, and are based on the assessments of their supervisor. It works remarkably well.

I'm okay with there being a peer component, but I think it is essential that the final decision be with the supervisor; review by committee is a recipe for disaster, and a small number of independent peer reviews isn't a feasible information set for a final decision.

Posts: 15770 | Registered: Dec 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
The Rabbit
Member
Member # 671

 - posted      Profile for The Rabbit   Email The Rabbit         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
I'm okay with there being a peer component, but I think it is essential that the final decision be with the supervisor; review by committee is a recipe for disaste.
Nonsense. Universities do reviews by committee all the time and it works quite well. Supervisors, particularly in public schools, are subject to all kinds of pressures (financial, political, social, parental etc) that can be a serious conflict of interest in and of themselves. Accreditation for Medical Schools and Engineering programs is done very reliably by committee.

Public schools really aren't like any other business so they really can't be managed like a business the market forces involved are fundamentally different. The "customer base" for school systems is extremely complicated. It includes students, parents, politicians, businesses, and in the end the entire community. What I want from the public schools, as a member of the community, is for them to prepare kids to be productive citizens but that isn't the only thing people want from schools. Students may want school to fun. Parents may want schools to coddle their "little angles". Politicians may want to score points for the next election cycle. Administrators may want to prove their pet education theory.

I believe that all of them would also agree we want teachers to prepare kids to be productive citizens but the feedback loop on that is way too long for it useful. (Plus, we don't all agree on what it means to be a producive citizen). As a result, its too easy for that to take a back seat to the demands of an upset parent or a misguided politician.

Posts: 12591 | Registered: Jan 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
The Rabbit
Member
Member # 671

 - posted      Profile for The Rabbit   Email The Rabbit         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
What attributes does a good teacher have that can be evaluated? I don't know how to quantify that (speaking as an ex-student), even though "I know it when I see it".
It's not that difficult really. A good teacher is able to hold students interest and control the classroom environment, has a solid lesson and plan and follows it, communicates ideas at the appropriate level for the class, gives challenging assignments that are relevant to the courses learning objectives, and provides helpful feed back to students. There are lots of different ways a teacher can do that, but its not that hard to assess whether or not those things are being done.
Posts: 12591 | Registered: Jan 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
fugu13
Member
Member # 2859

 - posted      Profile for fugu13   Email fugu13         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Universities do reviews by committee all the time and it works quite well.
No, it doesn't, not for the sorts of things that should be evaluated in annualized job reviews. What's more, excepting the reviews intended to assess people having achieved certain minimal, relatively well defined standards, I can think of few processes in university reviewing that aren't subject to some of the most obscene politicking I have ever seen.

quote:
The "customer base" for school systems is extremely complicated. It includes students, parents, politicians, businesses, and in the end the entire community.
As is true of religious institutions, many non profits, et cetera (and businesses, too -- you think they aren't subject to the demands of customers, multiple types of employees, community group pressure, politicians, other businesses, and so forth?). Yet they work, and work well, in roughly the way I have described.
Posts: 15770 | Registered: Dec 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Belle
Member
Member # 2314

 - posted      Profile for Belle   Email Belle         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
What attributes does a good teacher have that can be evaluated? I don't know how to quantify that (speaking as an ex-student), even though "I know it when I see it".
  • Does the teacher show up on time, everyday? If she isn't there, has he/she done what is necessary to arrange for a sub and are there emergency lesson plans for that sub?
  • Does the teacher turn in lesson plans each week on time and are those lesson plans based on the course of study?
  • Does the teacher track what course of study objectives have been covered? Is there evidence that standards have been covered? (for example, if one standard is that students will write in expository mode, has the teacher assigned expository essays? Can the teacher produce a student portfolio of work that includes expository essays?)
  • Can the teacher show evidence that students have been evaluated on standards, and that students who failed to meet standards have been remediated (or that remediation has at least been attempted?)
  • Does the teacher attend professional development workshops and attain the CEU's needed to keep their certification current?
  • Does the teacher have a reasonable amount of discipline referrals or requests for administrative support for discipline considering the teaching environment and demographic of students? (in other words, can they manage their class or are they always needing help?)

I'm sure we could think of others. Of course, it's is entirely possible that teachers can do all of the above and still be a lousy teacher. But, in my experience, lousy teachers also tend to have problems with the above list, so it's a starting point.

Posts: 14428 | Registered: Aug 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
fugu13
Member
Member # 2859

 - posted      Profile for fugu13   Email fugu13         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
To give a more specific explanation of why review by committee doesn't work, consider the case of needing to let teachers go due to changes in the student population. Either we have the exact same committee evaluate everyone -- in which case, we might as well call it a committee of supervisors instead of a committee of peers, especially as keeping a firm handle on how every teacher in a good sized school would be daunting even spending significant amounts of time on it, or there needs to be some way to mediate between the thoughts and evaluations of many different committees. That "way to mediate" is generally called a supervisor, a person whose job is to focus on the performance of those he supervises, both directly and indirectly. As for why a single supervisor making the decision instead of a committee, that's so there's someone accountable (to his supervisor), and so on. It is much harder to reform a screwed up committee process than it is to replace a screwed up supervisor. The real impact, of course, is that there isn't a single supervisor making the decisions, but a hierarchy of supervisors, often with cross-cutting influences at the same and similar levels in the hierarchy having a say but not final authority.
Posts: 15770 | Registered: Dec 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
The Rabbit
Member
Member # 671

 - posted      Profile for The Rabbit   Email The Rabbit         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Conflict of interest is going to occur whenever you have unioned employees reviewing other unioned employees in the same job type. Even assuming it isn't, how would the review work?
I don't see this as a real problem. At least in the areas where I have lived, teachers unions aren't that strong. There are always a core of teachers who do the job because they believe in it. Those people aren't going to give a bad teacher a good evaluation to satisfy the union. I think if you select peer reviewers who are recognized as top teachers from a neighboring school district, the conflict of interest problems would be very minimal.

Furthermore, it is of great value to a public employees union to be able to demonstrate they are willing to hold their members to high standards. School unions aren't simply negotiating with management, they are negotiating with elected officials and depend on having the good will of the public. Teachers unions pretty uniformly fight any efforts to evaluate teachers because they feel vulnerable to political pressures. This isn't unfounded paranoia. I have a large extended family that work in public schools in the rural west. Political pressure on schools is really vicious.

Posts: 12591 | Registered: Jan 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
The Rabbit
Member
Member # 671

 - posted      Profile for The Rabbit   Email The Rabbit         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
To give a more specific explanation of why review by committee doesn't work, consider the case of needing to let teachers go due to changes in the student population. Either we have the exact same committee evaluate everyone -- in which case, we might as well call it a committee of supervisors instead of a committee of peers, especially as keeping a firm handle on how every teacher in a good sized school would be daunting even spending significant amounts of time on it, or there needs to be some way to mediate between the thoughts and evaluations of many different committees.
Even huge schools have only a handful of teachers in each subject or each grade level. When schools need to fire someone due to cut backs now, its not a question of which of 100 teachers to let go, its which of 5 or 6 English teachers or math teachers to let go. Its would be very easy to have one peer committee review all the teachers in a particular subject area. If clear guidelines are agreed on for the reviews, its quite reasonable for different subcommittees to produce consistent results.

Having the supervisor do the reviews doesn't work for several reasons. First you have to define who is a supervisor. In schools, department heads are often rotating positions with very minimal authority of the other teachers. They are barely more than peer teachers. The conflicts of interest in evaluating their peers are huge and the pressure to bias reviews based on friendship, or reciprocity would be overwhelming. Unlike in business, there is no career ladder to climb by managing your department well. There are no raises offered for improving the profits of your division. The dynamic is unlike a business environment.

At a large high school, it would be impossible for the Principal to do a substantive review of all the teachers and she/he likely doesn't have the expertise in every subject area to make reasonable judgements. Plus, a Principals are known to prefer teachers that don't make waves by flunking too many students, discussing controversial ideas, speaking out in public and so on.

Posts: 12591 | Registered: Jan 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
The Rabbit
Member
Member # 671

 - posted      Profile for The Rabbit   Email The Rabbit         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
fugu13, Right now in schools, when cut backs are needed, its typically the teacher with the least seniority in that department that gets cut. Do you really think what you are proposing will change that? Schools aren't unique in this respect. At least in my experience, its usually the people with less seniority who get downsized, even when no union is involved. I think its part of human nature for the boss to feel more obligated to someone who has worked for a company for many years than to the new hire, unless there is a dramatic difference in performance. Over the long run, I don't think it benefits companies or society when they favor a bright young star over a more senior employee that's done solid work for 20 years.
Posts: 12591 | Registered: Jan 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
The Rabbit
Member
Member # 671

 - posted      Profile for The Rabbit   Email The Rabbit         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
As is true of religious institutions, many non profits, et cetera (and businesses, too -- you think they aren't subject to the demands of customers, multiple types of employees, community group pressure, politicians, other businesses, and so forth?). Yet they work, and work well, in roughly the way I have described.
The demands on religious institutions and non-profits are extremely different than those of schools. The management structures for NGOs vary a lot, many of them are in fact managed by committees. I also think that as members of the public we have an obligation to ensure that public employees are treated fairly that we don't have to religious institutions and non-profits. If a church wants to fire someone because they don't get along with the pastors spouse, its not really my problem unless its my church. If a school wants to fire a teacher because they pissed off a member of the school board, I think it is my problem. I think public school teachers should be protected from that kind of politics.

Edited to add that its worth noting that many NGOs do use committees to make decisions about employees. Even major corporations make decisions about their top positions by committee.

Posts: 12591 | Registered: Jan 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
fugu13
Member
Member # 2859

 - posted      Profile for fugu13   Email fugu13         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
At least in the areas where I have lived, teachers unions aren't that strong.
Teachers unions are some of the largest and most successful political lobbies in the US. In most of the US by population, teachers unions are extremely strong.

quote:
Do you really think what you are proposing will change that?
What I am proposing? Heck yeah. Supervisors fire more senior employees who haven't kept up with experience, or are just not doing so well at their job, or have other problems, all the time. Sure, there will be times it's just the new people who are fired, but right now it is always the new people who are fired, and that's a very bad thing -- it makes it much harder to get a start in education.

quote:
I think its part of human nature for the boss to feel more obligated to someone who has worked for a company for many years than to the new hire, unless there is a dramatic difference in performance.
That's . . . nice? All the well run companies out there that have good bosses say that sometimes people get past it. Always? No, but when you have a lot of humans involved, not everywhere will be doing a good job. And if you don't think such companies exist, you're still saying this problem will magically go away with committees?

quote:
Plus, a Principals are known to prefer teachers that don't make waves by flunking too many students, discussing controversial ideas, speaking out in public and so on.
And some Principals are known for speaking up for such qualities. I hope that in a system where merit is at least attempted to be rewarded, many schools will be run by better Principals.

quote:
Having the supervisor do the reviews doesn't work for several reasons. First you have to define who is a supervisor. In schools, department heads are often rotating positions with very minimal authority of the other teachers. They are barely more than peer teachers. The conflicts of interest in evaluating their peers are huge and the pressure to bias reviews based on friendship, or reciprocity would be overwhelming. Unlike in business, there is no career ladder to climb by managing your department well. There are no raises offered for improving the profits of your division. The dynamic is unlike a business environment.

Yes, hiring and firing (and bonus, et cetera) decisions would not be made by department chairs. It would be the school administration, probably in a mild hierarchy -- schools already have a variety of vice principals, for instance. And, as I've said, I think evaluations by other educators would be fine (even good), but the final decision needs to be up to a supervisor.

You're drastically simplifying the evaluation problem, by the way. There are six English teachers and you need to get rid of just one, but there are two who are mediocre, and there's a teacher instructing in Japanese language right now who's really good at that and is certified in English. And you don't need to fire any Physics teachers, except you're seeing pretty bad work from one of them, and it turns out one of the better English teachers is certified in Physics. And one of the best English teachers has indicated she's going to take a year sabbatical in two years, so you need to figure out what to do for that.

How long are we expecting this committee to work at the problem, and who's going to be on it, again? A good supervisor will sort out simple sorts of rearrangements like that (after doing more thorough evaluations of the teachers involved) in short order. They may not make the best choices, but someone who's diligent will often make pretty reasonable choices -- and the whole point of the exercise is to hire people who are diligent.

What's more, a good evaluation process would involve classroom observation -- how much time are these teachers from the other district (well, in most cases other places in the same district, since the largest school districts don't have large neighboring school districts -- LA school district is gargantuan, for instance) spending in this district and when, again, and who is teaching their classes?

Posts: 15770 | Registered: Dec 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
  This topic comprises 2 pages: 1  2   

Quick Reply
Message:

HTML is not enabled.
UBB Code™ is enabled.
UBB Code™ Images not permitted.
Instant Graemlins
   


Post New Topic  Post A Reply Close Topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Contact Us | Hatrack River Home Page

Copyright © 2008 Hatrack River Enterprises Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.


Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.2