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An education "turnaround"
February 24, 2010 7:29 AM   Subscribe

“This is hard work and these are tough decisions, but students only have one chance for an education,” Education Secretary Duncan said, “and when schools continue to struggle we have a collective obligation to take action.” In response to a new federal mandate to fix under-performing schools, every teacher will be fired at Central Falls High School in Rhode Island.
posted by lunit (229 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is good.
posted by b1tr0t at 7:47 AM on February 24, 2010


Could be good. Could be bad. We certainly can't make a determination based on a two page local news article.
posted by Pollomacho at 7:51 AM on February 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


graduation rate of 48%?!?

And the teachers turned down $30/hr, because they wanted $90/hr?

Don't let the door hit ya on the way out.
posted by nomisxid at 7:51 AM on February 24, 2010 [6 favorites]


So the way to attract better educators to the "the state’s tiniest, poorest city" is to fire all the ones there now? The reason the kids in "The state’s tiniest, poorest city" are underperforming is because of their teachers?

Yeah, I've spotted the flaws in your plan.
posted by mhoye at 7:52 AM on February 24, 2010 [12 favorites]


I consider this a bluff on the part of the administration. The teachers have legally binding (on both parties) contracts, simple as that. The district *can't* fire the entire staff; and even if they could, it would instantly spark a statewide strike (these 78 belong to a very big union, not just a few people at one school).

I don't have much sympathy for the working hours of the teachers, but let's look at the real problem here - "the school's demographic identified that 96 percent of students are eligible for free or reduce lunch and that 65 percent of the student body is of Hispanic origin, 13 percent is white and 14 percent is black. Twenty-five percent of students receive English as a Second Language services". (emphasis mine)

Blaming the teachers for the community's problem amounts to blaming a fireman because wooden houses burn so well. When your kids have to worry about much lower tiers of Maslow's hierarchy on a daily basis, why the hell would you expect anything but low performance when it comes to the higher tiers?
posted by pla at 7:54 AM on February 24, 2010 [49 favorites]


From the article:

"Duncan is requiring states, for the first time, to identify their lowest 5 percent of schools — those that have chronically poor performance and low graduation rates — and fix them using one of four methods: school closure; takeover by a charter or school-management organization; transformation which requires a longer school day, among other changes; and 'turnaround' which requires the entire teaching staff be fired and no more than 50 percent rehired in the fall."

I think Arne Duncan is a great teacher. He's taught us all that he's a douchebag.

The selection criteria are absurd. The article indicates that the poor performance marker of a school is low standardized test scores. Many standardized tests are normalized - that is, they are designed so that some students will do very badly and some students will do very well, and the target it constantly moving.

The solutions are even more capricious.

Closing the school? What?

Creating a charter school or school-management organization? Let's turn the school into a for-profit business! Because business people, having made money, are therefore experts in education.

A longer school day: if it isn't working, do it more.

And finally, firing all the staff? I'm not arguing that some teachers should or shouldn't be fired - most schools have some astonishingly awful human beings with teaching certificates lurching through the halls. But to eliminate all of the teachers in one fell swoop isn't graceful or thoughtful. Bringing in fresh blood might help minor structural problems that exist at this specific school, but it will do nothing to address the greater structural problems: funding, the students' home lives, and the standardized tests that have already fucked this school.

I don't have much context on the new requirements beyond what's in the article, but the heavy-handed policy outlined in the article smacks of the same "tough love" bullshit that has been the backbone of child development in the United States for decades.
posted by burnfirewalls at 7:55 AM on February 24, 2010 [16 favorites]


So uh, how's the rest of the school year going to play out?
posted by ghharr at 7:56 AM on February 24, 2010


Presumably the administration is just as much to blame as the teaching staff. Would they have voted themselves out?

When your kids have to worry about much lower tiers of Maslow's hierarchy on a daily basis, why the hell would you expect anything but low performance when it comes to the higher tiers?

And this, 100 times over.
posted by niles at 7:56 AM on February 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


I have a hard time believing that there wasn't at least one teacher there who was doing a great job. Seems like a case of using a cruise missile where a scalpel is called for. Instead of taking the time to selectively weed out under-performing teachers they're going to be spending much much more money for lawyers and court appearances. This is union busting at its most foolish. Unions do not shelter truly incompetent teachers.
posted by Locobot at 7:56 AM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Lower-paid and less-secure teaching jobs will surely result in better teachers!1

1. It is altogether different for those Wall Street employees whose average totally-necessary bonus went up nearly 20% this year. You wouldn't understand why, it's complicated.
posted by enn at 7:57 AM on February 24, 2010 [23 favorites]


at first, rather than close the failing school, the superintendent and the union negotiated to keep the school open for longer hours:
Union leaders said they wanted teachers to be paid for more of the additional work and at a higher pay rate — $90 per hour rather than the $30 per hour offered by [Superintendent] Gallo.
$90/hr for failure? Really?

Incidentally, the firing will be followed by rehiring up to half the teachers, so basically this is just a way around union rules that prevent firing poorly performing teachers.

I'm all for unions, but honestly, the cost of pay and benefits (and pensions) for public employees has become ridiculously high; and since the pensions are routinely underfunded then paid for with borrowed money, these costs threaten to undermine local governments. It's time to insist that public employees produce commensurately with their pay.
posted by orthogonality at 7:57 AM on February 24, 2010 [6 favorites]


Triple-pay for overtime is not some crazy new thing.
posted by enn at 8:01 AM on February 24, 2010 [13 favorites]


I'm all for unions, but honestly, the cost of pay and benefits (and pensions) for public employees has become ridiculously high

Those contracts didn't spring fully-formed from the void. They were achieved in negotiations with management. Honestly, whenever I hear people complain about unions, all my ears hear is "we have had spineless managers for a very long time."
posted by mhoye at 8:02 AM on February 24, 2010 [13 favorites]


Unions do not shelter truly incompetent teachers.

Bullshit.
posted by letitrain at 8:03 AM on February 24, 2010 [21 favorites]


Yes, but in this case the management is elected, and the Teachers' Union's influence and endorsement can sway those elections. "Management" has little incentive to drive a hard bargain, and much incentive to roll over.
posted by orthogonality at 8:05 AM on February 24, 2010


I'm all for unions, but honestly, the cost of pay and benefits (and pensions) for public employees has become ridiculously high

And, come on, $30/hr (which I kind of suspect is one of the higher rates of pay at this school — it doesn't sound like they're quoting starting salaries, these numbers are coming from management) is $60Kish a year. "Ridiculously high?" And I say this as someone who has loathed every teacher I had as a child or have met as an adult.
posted by enn at 8:05 AM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


graduation rate of 48%?!?

And the teachers turned down $30/hr, because they wanted $90/hr?

Don't let the door hit ya on the way out.


Step up and teach then, dude. You think it is a $30.00/hr job for only part of the year? We'll see after a month.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:06 AM on February 24, 2010 [22 favorites]


Triple-pay for overtime is not some crazy new thing.

Not for plumbers and pipe-fitters. It is pretty unprecedented for professional employees. So which are these teachers?

Besides, when contracting to do it every day, it's no longer overtime.
posted by orthogonality at 8:07 AM on February 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


I agree the pay that the teachers asked for is a bit outrageous, but when you're effectively doubling someone's workload, you ought to compensate them for the additional work. And by asking them to come early, stay late, do more all around, well, I don't see a raise as being out of the question.

Instead, you've got a scorched earth type policy that does nothing to address any actual educational concerns. Or help with addressing the students' basic needs, which need to be met before they can really thrive on what's being taught (as stated quite nicely above by pla)

No Child Left Behind sounds great, but in practice its nothing but elevating marks on a piece of paper above the actual needs of the children being taught.
posted by sandraregina at 8:07 AM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


From this article:

Central Falls High School has the most transient student population in the state, the highest percentage of students who don’t speak English and a high percentage of special-needs students. More than 90 percent of students live in poverty.

What a shock that this particular school has some of the worst test scores in the state. Firing all of the teachers and rehiring (half) of them isn't going to do anything but force them to sign worse contracts. There are systematic problems that cause schools in high poverty areas to underperform, and firing teachers does nothing to solve any of them.

It's time to insist that public employees produce commensurately with their pay.

But why pick on the public employees that happen to work in an area where the poor kids live? A private school or a school in an area with a lot of rich people who pay high property taxes can afford to hire good teachers for a wage that they can actually live off of and have a good career. $30/hr for 9 months of the year isn't exactly a lot of money for someone with, say, a masters degree and 15 years of experience.
posted by burnmp3s at 8:10 AM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


No-one will ever go broke underestimating the public's hatred for unions, especially teachers' unions.

While I have little doubt there are some lousy teachers at this school, many people seem to think it's their job to simply shovel knowledge into students' heads, and if the kids aren't doing well on their tests it's because the teachers are too lazy or incompetent to shovel properly. It couldn't possibly be anyone else's fault.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:10 AM on February 24, 2010 [10 favorites]


Teachers in poor towns in RI are not starting at $60k. A very tiny amount of research will confirm that.
posted by rusty at 8:10 AM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, holy shit. I grew up in Rhode Island, and while I went to some of the better schools in Barrington, we always joked about the schools in Central Falls. I never thought it was this bad.
posted by runaway ballista at 8:11 AM on February 24, 2010


I'm all for unions, but honestly, the cost of pay and benefits (and pensions) for public employees has become ridiculously high; and since the pensions are routinely underfunded then paid for with borrowed money, these costs threaten to undermine local governments. It's time to insist that public employees produce commensurately with their pay.

Really? Who the fuck you gonna get to do these jobs then? This is a less than full year job. So those wall street fucks deserve the money but the people who have to deal with the fallout of the crappy, inequitable society we have are somehow not deserving of more than $30.00/hr? Puh-leeze. You get what you pay for. If the teachers were paid a decent amount, more quality people would step up to work.

This is simple economics. The people who used to be teachers because it was a good thing to do are now all bankers, doctors and lawyers. You know why? Because you can't raise a family on a teacher's salary.

Also I love how the failure is always blamed on the foot soldiers, not the generals. Why doesn't the school board resign en masse? Its not our fault we hired (allegedly) bad teachers, its the (allegedly) bad teachers fault.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:12 AM on February 24, 2010 [41 favorites]


Students are doing poorly in this school district. This is primarily because the teachers are bad. By paying teachers less and treating them worse, we will attract higher quality talent.

Double McHamburger Twist 5000
posted by dirigibleman at 8:14 AM on February 24, 2010 [23 favorites]


Firing all of the teachers and rehiring (half) of them isn't going to do anything but force them to sign worse contracts.

Unfortunately, this is a very common tactic in lots and lots of school districts.

Every year, my friend who is a well-liked high school history/media studies/english teacher with a great track record at a school in a wealthy neighborbood gets a pink slip. A couple months later, he gets re-hired under some new contract. This lets the school board go to the wealthy old curmudgeons in their district and say "Hey look, we cut out the chaff!" without really cutting anything except seniority pay.
posted by muddgirl at 8:15 AM on February 24, 2010 [8 favorites]


orthogonality : Not for plumbers and pipe-fitters. It is pretty unprecedented for professional employees. So which are these teachers?

Employees with a contract explicitly stating their hours, days, and duties, and which the administration now wants to unilaterally change.

I work as a "professional". And when I do jobs on the side, I'll just say that I get comfortably more than triple my 9-to-5 pay. Why would I grudge the same to someone who works in a much worse environment than I do?


burnfirewalls : identify their lowest 5 percent of schools — those that have chronically poor performance and low graduation rates — and fix them using one of four methods

(I know that quote didn't come directly from you, but you quoted one of my biggest peeves with NCLB)

You will always, unavoidably, mathematically, have a lowest 5 percent of performers, whether talking about one class or one school or one state or the whole world. You just can't get around it, that amounts to nothing less than a "sink infinite resources and still have the problem" clause.
posted by pla at 8:19 AM on February 24, 2010 [10 favorites]


And people, let's read the article. The $90.00 an hour is not what the teachers wanted:

But Gallo said she could pay teachers for only some of the extra duties. Union leaders said they wanted teachers to be paid for more of the additional work and at a higher pay rate — $90 per hour rather than the $30 per hour offered by Gallo.

In other words, the teachers wanted to be paid for work they weren't getting paid for before. For that extra work, above and beyond the call of duty, they wanted $90.00. The rest of the amount they were to be paid was the same, $30.00.

So let's stop with the "I can't believe teachers wanted $90.00 an hour" and start with the reading the article.

posted by Ironmouth at 8:20 AM on February 24, 2010 [6 favorites]


The Teacher's Union has set up a site dedicated to telling their side of the story: Central Falls Kids Deserve Better.
posted by lunit at 8:21 AM on February 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Step up and teach then, dude. You think it is a $30.00/hr job for only part of the year? We'll see after a month.

No, thanks. Presumably, people go into teaching for the same reason I'm in my field: Because they like it, and do it extremely well. That's how I justify my (publicly funded) salary.

With a 45% graduation rate, these "teachers" are getting paid to do nothing. I don't blame them for the obvious and total failure of the parents in the district, but really if they had any self-respect at all they'd have already quit.
posted by coolguymichael at 8:22 AM on February 24, 2010


i hear such horror stories from a friend who is a counselor in an inner city school district. like the kid who couldn't sleep at night because his family was breeding pitbulls and they decided a good place for puppies would be his bedroom. no wonder the kid was falling asleep in school - it was quiet! but he just get kept disciplined for his behavior until he was finally sent to her and the truth came out.

standardized tests are such bunk and are not fair in any way. i remember learning in sociology in college how they are culturally biased so often ESL students perform poorly on analogies and reading comprehension because of that.

i don't understand how this Duncan guy can seem to be so oblivious to the realities OUTSIDE of school that affect how students do IN school.
posted by sio42 at 8:22 AM on February 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


The success of a student has so much more to do with the student's parenting and home environment and less to do with mediocre teaching.

Even though Im sure a handful of these teachers probably needed to be fired tossing the baby out with the bath water was not the way to accomplish it.
posted by photoslob at 8:24 AM on February 24, 2010


"With a 45% graduation rate, these "teachers" are getting paid to do nothing. I don't blame them for the obvious and total failure of the parents in the district, but really if they had any self-respect at all they'd have already quit."

I think the 45% who did graduate might have a different take on things.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 8:25 AM on February 24, 2010 [18 favorites]


the only replacements they're going to get are people who are just plain desperate to have a teaching job - a few of those might be decent but anyone who's got a job or an expectation of an offer somewhere else is going to say, "hell, no"

what they wind up with could well be worse than what they have now
posted by pyramid termite at 8:26 AM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's time to insist that public employees produce commensurately with their pay.

This only makes sense if you have a rubric for expectations and a real understanding of the challenges of the task. Duncan clearly doesn't and it sounds like you don't either.

The actual costs of successful education are extremely high. This is particularly true if it is mandated that this education includes people who are learning disabled, have language barriers or face 'low income' challenges to performance. This is also outside of the highly defensible idea that education requires 'a village'.

If people really think teachers are overpaid* then clearly you just don't know enough of them. Sure there are exceptions who are lazy, incompetent or that started long enough ago so that their pay structure IS over their contribution. All of this happens across occupations public and private, and happens less in sectors that are reliant on public funding (because they capture less of 'growth' during an upcycle and are hit heavier by 'tightening' on the downcycle.

*All of this depends on what people think is fair for payment. In the public sector unions are more of an X-factor because public jobs haven't seen the erosion of unions to the same extent as many other industries and they haven't competed as much at a global level compared with a lot of private sectors (especially non-white collar). Most people you ask say they shouldn't (even more now that people fear their children being educated by terrorists...while they don't mind if these same supposed terrorists make their clothes, software applications and oil infrastructure).
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 8:26 AM on February 24, 2010 [10 favorites]


I agree the pay that the teachers asked for is a bit outrageous, but when you're effectively doubling someone's workload, you ought to compensate them for the additional work. And by asking them to come early, stay late, do more all around, well, I don't see a raise as being out of the question.

Both of my parents are teachers in the NYS system, and my father is now an administrator. I can assure you this is not a bluff. Rhode Island's standards for teacher qualification/certification are lower than they are for most states in the Northeast. Last week, my father advertised a job for high school biology/earth science... 180+ applicants.

After this year, most state education budgets are going to get pinched a bit. That school district can fill those positions, no problem. The teachers that will replace them will be entry level and the payroll for the district will be cut in half. This is killing two birds with one stone... 1) The federal and state operations will see the district is taking steps to comply and they will not reduce funding, and 2) Budget is closer to balanced.

You will see this in inner-city schools more than anywhere else, not because of the poor student performance, but because low-income schools are subsidized by the state more than those in upper income areas. (Example: How come those inner city teams seemed to get new jerseys every year, and yours still came with striped socks?) The state wants to see a return on their investment.

Now, as the child of a teaching family... sister is a teacher too, I think what the school board did was sorta ok. My parents weren't teachers from 7-3, like most. They chaperoned, they did after school programs, they tutored, they had lunch study sessions (my dad, anyway), and they would answer questions when students called on the phone in the evening. My mom retired and she still tutors for 10 bucks an hour, most of that money goes to chips and juice for the kids. Its something you do because you have a passion for it. $30 versus $90 makes me wonder why those teachers are even there in the first place. Seeing kids grow up and flunk out should have made them alcoholics.

I sent my dad, the administrator, the link. His response:

"Good. Now I have an address to give the hundreds of teachers we're turning away."
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 8:26 AM on February 24, 2010 [6 favorites]


Given the general hard-on for unions (and teachers' unions, in particular) over the past fifty years, I think denying that there is at least some union-busting component here is just not realistic.

The most important thing here should be: This is a school, it has a mission to educate the students, and the teachers are tasked with that mission.

That being said, teachers (like any employee) are not chattel. It is perfectly normal to renogiatiate compensation if work requirements are changed. Unions exist because, with no opposition, the powerful will always demand more for less.

Do the teachers have some responsibility her? Absolutely. But, they don't have the responsibility to be the only scapegoats for a system that is letting these kids down at every turn. Garbage in, garbage out.

God bless teachers. They have chosen a healing profession and, by and large, get nothing but grief for it. Maybe someday the administrator-powers-that-be will understand that they need to hand out tools instead of demands and pink slips.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 8:28 AM on February 24, 2010 [5 favorites]


And the teachers turned down $30/hr, because they wanted $90/hr?

Don't let the door hit ya on the way out.


I was interested to see if the question of pay would become a topic for discussion.

One of the things that's interesting about teaching in particular is that it's developed this weird expectation among the general public that teachers should be in it for the love of the kids. If they wanted to make money, they would have chosen another profession, right? They knew what they were going to make getting into this, so why are they bitching? Stupid whiny teachers, trying to get rich off the backs of hard-working taxpayers!

And yes, the hope is that people go into education because they love teaching (and love kids and/or teenagers if they work in K-12). But the general public has built up a narrative of the Martyr Teacher, the one who will do anything because they just love the kids so much. Think of all the movies with heroic teacher figures in them - the ones who give up so much of their personal time, who spend money out of pocket because their budget is practically nonexistent. And oh, they don't care about the money! They're in it for the kids, and everything they do is for the benefit of the children.

For too many people, teachers talking about money or requesting greater benefits or higher salaries is seen as gauche and greedy. But they're professionals, and they deserve the same respect and benefits as other professionals do. Sure, get rid of the ones who suck, and offer more in the way of support and training for the ones who need it. And for God's sake, fund the schools better! But I am beyond sick of the idolization of the Martyr Teacher, because it sets a completely unrealistic standard and devalues their professionalism by acting as if they are *selfish* for wanting to be paid decently for the work they do.

(And of course, there's the fact that K-12 teachers have been a female-dominated group for so long and the historical devaluation of women's work.)
posted by Salieri at 8:30 AM on February 24, 2010 [85 favorites]


So, what does metafilter think is the right wage for a good teacher with a proper education?
posted by klanawa at 8:30 AM on February 24, 2010


but really if they had any self-respect at all they'd have already quit.

So, you're saying working despite overwhelming odds and impossible standards means that these teachers have no professional pride?
posted by sid at 8:34 AM on February 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


For a good one? $90 after overtime sounds about right.
posted by majick at 8:34 AM on February 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Even though Im sure a handful of these teachers probably needed to be fired tossing the baby out with the bath water was not the way to accomplish it.

But that's the only way they can do it. Teachers' unions are so strong that firing anyone for lack of competence is essentially impossible. By firing everyone, and being restricted by statute to rehiring more than half, they can trim the people they think are problems and keep the ones they think are good.

Now, what'll be most interesting here will be seeing whether or not this works. Is it really the teachers that are the problem? This is one way to find out.

We're in deep crisis in education, and it's time for drastic change. This might be the wrong drastic change, but at least they're trying something. I'd like to see lots more drastic experiments, all over the country, hopefully all different. Then we can learn from what's working.

I'd be really interested in seeing how a voluntary voucher system worked in practice, without having to commit the entire country.
posted by Malor at 8:38 AM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


B.K. Nordan, one of the local officials, said, "The rhetoric that these are poor students, ESL students, you can imagine the home lives … this is exactly why we need you to step up, regardless of the pay, regardless of the time involved."

Bullshit. What this says to me is, "We need you to value it, even though we don't." If they valued it, they'd be ponying up the resources to pay for those things (the longer school day, the extra time with students, and so on). I don't know what their existing compensation package is so I have no opinion on the $90 versus $30 issue - but I do know that my bottom line is that if you want me to work more, you have to pay me for it.

I worked in urban schools for 14 years, and I worked harder than I've worked at anything in my entire life. I gave up far more lucrative opportunities to continue, because I believed it important. It wasn't until I had a sick parent that I had to step back - I have a much more cushy suburban teaching job now. I still work hard, but there's no comparison. And yet, when I worked in an urban school my hard work was never enough. I had lots of successes - with a majority of the kids even. But I would lose a few each year, and in three cases literally. Three funerals of African-American boys.

It is the most moral work I've ever done, but I am not a charity worker. And I'm not willing to have anyone tell me I should work more for free just because they want to paint it as my moral responsibility rather than their financial/political one.
posted by Chanther at 8:39 AM on February 24, 2010 [69 favorites]


So, what does metafilter think is the right wage for a good teacher with a proper education?

Depends on where in the country it is. In the middle of Boondock, Illinois, $50K is very solid money. In NYC, you'd be lucky to cover parking for that much.
posted by Malor at 8:40 AM on February 24, 2010


Quote 1:"Gallo and the teachers initially agreed they wanted the transformation model, which would protect the teachers’ jobs."

Quote 2:"Gallo wanted teachers to agree to a set of six conditions she said were crucial to improving the school. Teachers would have to spend more time with students in and out of the classroom and commit to training sessions after school with other teachers."

Quote 3:"But Gallo said she could pay teachers for only some of the extra duties. Union leaders said they wanted teachers to be paid for more of the additional work and at a higher pay rate — $90 per hour rather than the $30 per hour offered by Gallo.

After negotiations broke down, Gallo said she no longer had confidence the high school could be transformed and instead recommended the turnaround model."


Funny how the transformation plan was all fine and dandy until the union started asking for more money - then Gallo 'lost confidence' in the plan. I have a hard time believing that paying more money for these extra programs would somehow make them less effective.

Sure, we're willing to do whatever it takes to improve our kids' education! We'll close schools! We'll fire your teachers! Everything short of actually giving schools the money they need for operations, or making sure that teachers are adequately compensated!
posted by Consonants Without Vowels at 8:40 AM on February 24, 2010 [9 favorites]


(Thanks, lunit: I've been thinking about posting this story myself.)

Unions do not shelter truly incompetent teachers.
They do in Little Rodey.

A million people, and 39 cities and towns each with a superintendent and a separately-negotiated contract. The waste, protectionism, and sloth make me gnash my teeth.

My town, Cumberland, is currently facing a Superintendent who's trying to shuffle together the town's five grade schools into on coimbined K&1st, a 2&3 for each end of town (wealthy people in the north end of town, poor/ESL/brown people down south -- and me on the line), and a 4&5 each for north and south. (There's already a corresponding middle school & high school in each half of town.)

This will save a whopping $500,000 on a $51 million budget, and require kids to change schools five time before they graduate. Do you think that will help the poor and ESL students in Cumberland any? Pity the Central Falls students, but they're not the only low income kids getting shafted these days.

Even worse, some (cynical?) people think it's a way to bury two schools whose ELL and special needs kids drove the school's test scores into the red zone for NCLB. *shrug* No idea, myself, but with four kids of my own, it will mean my wife shuttling around town all damn day, as well as the spectre of prioritizing decisions like "there's a weather/medical/whatever emergency -- which kid do I want to get?" Last year they cut bus routes to save money, but now they'll need even more of them to drag kids farther each day.

Oh, and it was leaked last week and the budget is due on...wait for it...Monday.

No standard formula for disbursing state aid among the towns. Generous health benefits and a nice pension plan. No consolidated purchasing deals or energy deals. Rhode Island, your schools are b0rked, and I moved here from Massachusetts in part for the schools. *facepalm*

But why pick on the public employees that happen to work in an area where the poor kids live?
My FiL taught in this school a number of years ago. It was poor then and it's poorer now. He took the job (two towns away), I think, because he was a teacher who needed work. Similarly, someone I know with a newly-minted teaching degree who can't break in is, in a way, delighted by this: finally, some hiring will happen around here!
posted by wenestvedt at 8:41 AM on February 24, 2010


Salieri : One of the things that's interesting about teaching in particular is that it's developed this weird expectation among the general public that teachers should be in it for the love of the kids. If they wanted to make money, they would have chosen another profession, right?

I went into my chosen profession because I very much love what I do. I actually get paid to do (almost) the same things I would do for fun on my own time.

That said - I "work" for a paycheck. I don't do it because I feel some sense of benevolence and goodwill toward Nameless Company X. I don't get up (waaaay) before noon out of some misguided sense of purpose or any delusion that my employer actually appreciates me beyond this quarter's numbers.

I may well do the same things at home, but you can damned well guarantee that I wouldn't do them except on my whim, and certainly not to anyone's benefit but my own.

So why do we expect any more of teachers? Sure, most of them go into it out of a sincere desire to "make a difference" (usually crushed out of them within 5 years or so). But they still do it to make a living, not as a form of community service.


klanawa : So, what does metafilter think is the right wage for a good teacher with a proper education?

As much as they can get - Same as the rest of us.
posted by pla at 8:42 AM on February 24, 2010 [7 favorites]


Also, this will cost the school district far more in legal fees than they would save by firing all of the teachers. These teachers have due process rights. Plus, I'd file a suit straight away.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:42 AM on February 24, 2010


B.K. Nordan, one of the local officials, said, "The rhetoric that these are poor students, ESL students, you can imagine the home lives … this is exactly why we need you to step up, regardless of the pay, regardless of the time involved."

Ugh, this is exactly the attitude I'm talking about. What a grossly illuminating quote.
posted by Salieri at 8:56 AM on February 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


My FiL taught in this school a number of years ago. It was poor then and it's poorer now. He took the job (two towns away), I think, because he was a teacher who needed work. Similarly, someone I know with a newly-minted teaching degree who can't break in is, in a way, delighted by this: finally, some hiring will happen around here!

Hiring people who can't get jobs anywhere else is a good way to reduce cost, but not a good way to improve quality (which is what the whole point of this is supposed to be). Generally a high turnover rate in teachers is considered a bad thing, and low performing schools that pay less tend to have higher turnover rates than better schools. It's usually the best teachers that leave when things go south, and they are often replaced by brand new teachers, many of whom find out that they don't actually want to teach and change careers.
posted by burnmp3s at 8:56 AM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Central Falls was, up until the '80s when Hong Kong and then Sao Paulo overtook it, the most densely populated square mile in the world (it's still the most densely populated community in the US, according to Ripley's). It is cheek-to-jowl tenements, each floor having three or more families of immigrants.

In the '80s, Sao Paulo and Hong Kong put up high-rises in the slums - Central Falls didn't get better. It's a postage-stamp sized piece of land nestled in the armpit where Attleboro meets Pawtucket, both incredibly poor New England mill towns on the ropes. It should be absorbed into North Providence or Pawtucket, by rights, but neither town wants any part of that resource-sucking pit of despair.

It needs to be a charter school, run by the state... but RI is having a little problem with corruption at the moment, and a bigger problem with an imploding tax base as the jewelry manufacturing, banking, construction and fishing industries all disappeared, seemingly overnight. Due to demographics, immigrants who can't vote, the town is massively under-represented in the state legislature and sneered at by the anti-immigrant Republican governor.

So, they're trying the "fire all the teachers" thing, not because it's a prudent thing to do, but because there's no damn money to do anything else.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:59 AM on February 24, 2010 [10 favorites]


The teachers clearly were not willing to perform the extra work at a failing school without getting paid overtime rates for it. They played chicken and they lost. They may win in court. Whatever happens the children are losing this year and next at the very least.
posted by caddis at 9:02 AM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Besides, when contracting to do it every day, it's no longer overtime.

Anything over 40 hours is overtime, regardless of how often you do it. Anything that a signed contract says is overtime is overtime, regardless of how often you do it.
posted by spaltavian at 9:02 AM on February 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


The Teacher's Union has set up a site dedicated to telling their side of the story: Central Falls Kids Deserve Better.

This right here is my one and only beef with teachers' unions - pretending that they have any interest in the welfare of the students or the quality of their education. The mandate of the union is to maximize the pay/work ratio of their members and protect their job security. That's all. Don't lie to me by claiming the union is fighting for the kids.
Individual teachers (almost) always want what's best for the kids. The union, however, is working entirely for the betterment of the teachers.
posted by rocket88 at 9:07 AM on February 24, 2010 [8 favorites]


You will see this in inner-city schools more than anywhere else, not because of the poor student performance, but because low-income schools are subsidized by the state more than those in upper income areas. (Example: How come those inner city teams seemed to get new jerseys every year, and yours still came with striped socks?) The state wants to see a return on their investment.

Bathtub Bobsled, in our state, schools get a somewhat equitable division of state money. Urban schools do not generally receive more per child than rural, suburban or exurban. In fact, because the distribution is based on attendance on "counting days" there are usually far more students in the urban schools than they are allotted for by this method.

This isn't to say that other foundations, grants, or special initiatives aren't in place, but your statement makes it seem as if your state simply gives more money to urban schools. In our state (MI) that simply isn't true.

I am shocked that some of you are shocked that the HS graduation rate there is 48%. Here, in a very affluent county in MI, the graduation rate for non-Asian minority students is less than 50%, and we have only very few schools that would come close to the overall situation that describes Central Falls, RI. Still, if every state has to go through a bottom 5% schools cull, I think it will disproportionately affect urban schools. From my experience having lived in rural MI for a time, the 4.0 students there were "passed along" as much as inner city students are--they just have a better and more stable social safety net and teachers who couldn't last a day at Willow Run have long, sweet careers without having to break much of a sweat. Yes, that last part is completely anecdotal.

I am part of a movement that believes the problem won't be solved in schools or in homes as stand-alone solutions. I believe that strong after school programming in community settings provides part of the solution, and is most effective when the partners are the schools and the families.

Someone upthread noted that if schools are failing during normal hours, extending the hours of the education will not provide the answer. Correct. And neither will the borrowed-from-corporate-world "fire 'em all and let them interview for their jobs." C'mon, if you yourself have not had to do that in the corporate world, you've at least seen Office Space, right? The consultants come in, ask you what you do and then make you redundant. They get a pile of money for in essence destroying institutional memory.

Arne Duncan has a history of making politically expedient but culturally suspect moves in Chicago--again, all I have is anecdotal evidence, but I know of one school in Chicago that was serving the Boricuan population quite well as a private school, was invited into the "charter school system" b/c it looked like an expedient solution to high drop out rates (their retention was far greater than the CPS average), but then the HS had to abide by CPS rules about who could attend and who couldn't (largely directed against pregnant teenagers), even how much Spanish could be used as lingua franca and so the school returned to its former "private" status. Private in quotes because the school is free to students.

We want to blame teachers but the problem isn't situated there as much as it is-imo-in delivery-based or "teach to the test" curricula. If more time were spent developing and introcucing inquiry-based education, including through the involvement of after-school community based programming, you would solve one part of the education problem. Another part remaining to be solved? What jobs do you have for the graduates of Central Falls or Willow Run? Or do they have to move out of state--or out of country--to find jobs. Strong family ties build strong neighborhoods. But the jobs don't care, they move to the places with the lowest production costs. And lest we say that the graduation rates are somehow tied to the ability to work those jobs that have migrated from Rhode Island to Alabama and Georgia (or name the spot), the graduation rates for ALL students in AL and GA are far lower than RI. Two minutes on the NCES site will show that.

I have no heart for union bashing--the NEA has set forth many initiatives (see the Great Schools Initiative for example) that would go toward resolving some of the entrenched in-school problems, but part of that calls for pay that recognizes the added difficulty of turning around the so-called "problem" schools. Again, the business analogy allows for turn-around specialist CEOs to get paid boatloads of green--because it is needed to retain their "talent"--but we cringe at using the same formula for schools. Why? because paying with our taxes is more visible and arguably more controllable than what we spend on an iPhone or a bottle of wine or beer or a pair of shoes.
posted by beelzbubba at 9:12 AM on February 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


I didn't read all the comments above but I want to correct a mistake -

Creating a charter school or school-management organization? Let's turn the school into a for-profit business! Because business people, having made money, are therefore experts in education.


Most charter schools are sponsored by non-profit organizations or institutions such as Universities and community groups, also non-profits. No one has yet succeeded in making money on K-12 schooling. Most school-management organizations are, again, non-profits, usually staffed by former educators who have experience in similar schools. You can question whether this is the most effective method but I think Duncan's intentions here are good.
posted by mai at 9:14 AM on February 24, 2010


The teachers clearly were not willing to perform the extra work at a failing school without getting paid overtime rates for it.

I think a lot of people are misreading this:
Union leaders said they wanted teachers to be paid for more of the additional work and at a higher pay rate
as "they wanted teachers to be paid more for the additional work" instead of "they wanted teachers to be paid for more of the additional work"

Teachers may be contracted to work 8-4 or whatever, but the simple fact is they have to be at school from roughly 7:45 to 5 or 6, then have another 1-3 hours of unpaid work at home (marking & planning lessons mostly). I think the point in the quoted text is that if the teachers are going to be working longer hours at school than normal, they want overtime for the previously-unpaid work they did (and will still have to do) outside of school hours/at home.

Or as Ironmouth put it:

In other words, the teachers wanted to be paid for work they weren't getting paid for before. For that extra work, above and beyond the call of duty, they wanted $90.00. The rest of the amount they were to be paid was the same, $30.00.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 9:25 AM on February 24, 2010


But I am beyond sick of the idolization of the Martyr Teacher, because it sets a completely unrealistic standard and devalues their professionalism by acting as if they are *selfish* for wanting to be paid decently for the work they do.

$90 an hour is not paid "decently." That's just a hair less than heart surgeons.

So.Fuck.That.

For $20 an hour, I'll teach your kid quadratic equations. Hell, I'll throw in differential equations for another $5.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 9:33 AM on February 24, 2010


Honestly, whenever I hear people complain about unions, all my ears hear is "we have had spineless managers for a very long time."

Interesting. What I always hear is "Those people have some benefit that I don't get because I am too lazy/cowardly/short-sighted to join with my co-workers to collectively bargain for it (or because I'm in management.)

Although I am not one who complains about unions, I am too lazy to organize.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 9:34 AM on February 24, 2010 [6 favorites]


Either way, $30 to $90 is a HUGE jump. Besides isn't this all covered in the Fair Labor Standards Act? You are a professional, therefore exempt employee. They don't have to pay you overtime. It sucks, but like my boss tells me, if you don't like it go find another job.
posted by Big_B at 9:37 AM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Don't get me started.

I taught in an inner-city high school for two years, and this article infuriated me.

First of all, as you Wire fans know, by the time the broken kids get to high school, they are already psychopaths. You think I'm kidding, I'm not. The kids have to stay in school unti 16, so you're stuck with them, even though they've given up. They are bored, hostile and spoiling for a fight. Usually in the hall, but sometimes in the middle of the classroom.

I had a kid who was 16 and couldn't read. Just sat in my class with his hands folded on his desk and a beatific grin on his face. He was gonna graduate. I tried to intervene, but no shit, there was a 36 item "protocol" that I had to follow, starting with getting the kid's eyes tested. I couldn't just call his parents and say, "Are you aware that Johnny can't read?" Also, I wish I could have remediated and taught him to read, but with the other 30-some odd psychopaths screaming, yelling and throwing things, when was I going to to do that? I asked a more experienced teacher for advice, she said, "You'll just have to teach him." Uh. Duh.

Common practice in teaching is that the most kids you want in a class is 22. Fewer if you've got ESL (English as a Second Language) or kids with impairments, like learning diabilities, autism, emotional disabilities or, as in my case, criminals convicted of sex crimes (4 in one class!) Typical class size, 36, but "that's okay they won't all show up on the same day."

Can we talk about the building? My first classroom was a converted TV Production studio. One light-switch, all the way on the other side of the class. We were frequently plunged into darkness before I brought in a lamp for my desk. 32 chair-desks crammed into the room, so everyone was right on top of each other. It was accessible from the Cafeteria, so we had noise, banging and fights outside the door. The room was adjacent to the copier-room, so we had a parade of teachers on their prep period taking the short-cut through my class. The door locked? Bang until I let you in.

I made a deal with my AP, that if I could get a 'real' classroom, and stay in it all day, that I would teach all 4 periods per day. Did I mention that we were on Block Scheduling, so we had 2 hours classes, 4 times per day. Try to engage teenagers for 2 hours at a stretch. I dare you.

My new classroom had an asbestos backed carpet that was threadbare (and presumably releasing asbestos through the places in the rug that weren't covered by chewing gum.) The ceiling tiles were covered in black mold. The room was a health hazard. I tried to report it to the city, the union, the principal and the newspaper. Crickets.

Now, let's talk about FCAT, or whatever YOUR state uses to assess educational progress. What a piece of shit. So you spend months teaching the test. We even had FCAT Friday school, where kids came in on Fridays (a day off in a 4 day week) and studied FCAT all day. Beastly! Horrifying. Useless!

So I worked my ass off, dealt with disrespectful children and now it's MY fault that the kids aren't learning anything?????

Dammit, you got me started!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:41 AM on February 24, 2010 [56 favorites]


For $20 an hour, I'll teach your kid quadratic equations. Hell, I'll throw in differential equations for another $5.

Sure. One kid. Will you teach 36 kids?

STFU.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:43 AM on February 24, 2010 [40 favorites]


burnmp3s: Hiring people who can't get jobs anywhere else is a good way to reduce cost... I am afraid I wasn't clear. My FiL had been teaching at a small college nearby (Bryant, in Smithfield) but wanted to move to teaching business & computer classes in the CF high school. In Rhode Island, saying "two towns away" does indeed make you practically an economic migrant, but it only involves about ten minutes of driving. :7)

Before teaching at Bryant, he'd been teaching in Newport. He worked a full career in education in this state and recently retired: I'd hardly consider the man a carpet-bagging hack. [Not that you implied such, but I want to make sure I'm clear here.]

(And can I say how pleased I am simply because so many people care about our issue?)
posted by wenestvedt at 9:44 AM on February 24, 2010


given the sentiments in this thread, if I ever run a business with employees I now know that people in the U.S. think that mandatory unpaid overtime is totally cool, and any who complains deserves to be fired.
posted by ennui.bz at 9:48 AM on February 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


This sickens me. I thought Bush had done a great job fucking up education with NCLB... welcome to the Obama method..

This damn country deserves what it gets for voting one idiot into office after another..

I will watch as this district sinks under the weight of its own stupidity.

and... "For $20 an hour, I'll teach your kid quadratic equations. Hell, I'll throw in differential equations for another $5." anyone stupid enough to make that remark couldn't teach their way out of a paper bag...
posted by HuronBob at 9:49 AM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


This sickens me. I thought Bush had done a great job fucking up education with NCLB... welcome to the Obama method..

It's what you get when you try to triangulate the policies of people who actually *want* to destroy public education in the U.S. The Republican party thinks it would be great if it were all christian "academies" and for-profit charter networks.

go USA!
posted by ennui.bz at 9:55 AM on February 24, 2010


given the sentiments in this thread, if I ever run a business with employees I now know that people in the U.S. think that mandatory unpaid overtime is totally cool, and any who complains deserves to be fired.

Well you can't be fired for not working overtime that you aren't being paid for unless you are contractually obligated. In my example the "professionals" are not paid overtime and are salaried, and there are quite a few that work a lot of hours. I won't, and I've made it clear to my boss. It's a dangerous thing to do in our economy, but you have to stand up for yourself. At least those of us without unions do.
posted by Big_B at 9:57 AM on February 24, 2010


Unions do not shelter truly incompetent teachers.

You've never heard of the "rubber room" system in many large, union-dominated school districts.

Remember the guy that punched Snooki? He was a school teacher, placed in a rubber room after the incident. He was eventually fired, but not after spending more than a month drawing a full paycheck.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:58 AM on February 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


For $20 an hour, I'll teach your kid quadratic equations. Hell, I'll throw in differential equations for another $5.

That's not "teaching", that's "tutoring," and betrays bone-deep ignorance of what teaching is and what teachers do to the point that I feel perfectly safe in ignoring anything you have to say on the matter. Forever.
posted by Shepherd at 10:00 AM on February 24, 2010 [7 favorites]


These teachers have due process rights.

Come now, Ironmouth. While I agree that the teachers and union would be silly not to file a lawsuit here, I don't think due process enters into it at all. They aren't being discriminated against. They may have a takings claim under the Fifth Amendment, but I can't see any claim under the Fourteenth.
posted by valkyryn at 10:03 AM on February 24, 2010


In all, 93 names were read aloud in the high school auditorium — 74 classroom teachers, plus reading specialists, guidance counselors, physical education teachers, the school psychologist, the principal and three assistant principals.

Each educator stood as their name was called, many wearing red, one of the school’s colors. Some cried.


What is this all about?
You want to fire someone, fine, fire them, but what's with the amateur Hollywood dramatics?
posted by madajb at 10:06 AM on February 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


Honestly, whenever I hear people complain about unions, all my ears hear is "we have had spineless managers for a very long time."

Spineless managers ... forced to negotiate under rules determined by the National Labor Relations Board, an independent government agency originally formulated not by election, but by executive order, because the Supreme Court tossed out its predecessor agency. An agency that hasn't even had a board quorom in several years, which the Court has yet to decide upon.

Kinda hard to have a spine when it's been surgically removed by 60-something years of bad government oversight.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:06 AM on February 24, 2010


Let me share an anecdote from my professional past as a software developer. I was on a "death march" project a few years back. It had been poisoned early on by mismanagement, political games, poor architecture design, and lack of funding. None of these problems were individually bad enough to kill the project from within, and none of the executives above it were willing to take the professional bruising of being the one to acknowledge its failure and put it out of its misery.

I was brought to the project to replace someone who (I found out later) had quit in disgust. I was young and naïve and very brazenly started pointing out the obvious and not-so-obvious flaws in the product to anybody who would listen... which turned out to be nobody. Upper management didn't care, lower management couldn't change things even if they understood the problems, and my immediate colleagues all knew everything I was saying already.

I was on that project for a little over a year. The logistical and architectural lessons stay with me, but the most important thing I learned was from observing my coworkers:

They were not all good developers, before joining the project. As with anything, some were great and some were good and some could barely find the space bar but were great bullshitters. What's important is that whatever they were before the project, they were all bad developers on the project. Every single one of them walked the same treadmill: wake up, go to work, get a bug report, find a way to stop that bug from occurring (note that this is not the same as fixing the bug), submit it as completed, go home and drink and go to sleep. After my initial ill-advised burst of optimism, I soon joined their ranks.

Poor management has a chilling effect on the people at the bottom of the hierarchy. Whether those people are talented or not is basically irrelevant until you fix the larger, systemic problems.

An important corollary is that you can't necessarily tell the difference between a good worker and a bad worker in a broken system.

Yes, some of the teachers at Central Falls High School were, are, and will always be Bad Teachers by some theoretical objective metric. And yes, insofar as the union is covering for them with the same umbrella they use for Good Teachers, those are wasted resources and the children are the ones who suffer the consequences.

But the real problem here is a populace that refuses to realize that our failures in education policy are just one part of a rich tapestry of social failure... an obvious consequence of a society that sees inequality as a virtue.

You can't solve that by firing bad teachers, let alone by firing all teachers.
posted by Riki tiki at 10:08 AM on February 24, 2010 [35 favorites]


Another way to consider this story is to theorize that the local government is not the villain in this story, nor is the school board.

This is link to the budgets of Central Falls -->http://www.centralfallsri.us/FinancialInformation.htm.

Now, as you can see from this, there isn't exactly a lot of money to go around, and while ideally I think they could surely cut something out to try to help with the home life of these kids, that's generally about as politically popular as taking a crap on the flag. So, it's not impossible to conceive that the politicians in the town are aware of the real way to solve the problem but their hands are tied monetarily and politically. It seems as though the largest expenses are the police, fire and debt. You know that those aren't getting cut without a personal appeal from Jesus.

So, now here's a fine situation, they know the school sucks, but they can't really do anything to help, but, and this is just speculation, but I'm wagering that in order to qualify for federal monies to help the other schools (which maybe only kind of suck and could improve without a massive overhaul of our current capitalist way of life) something has to be done about this school.

So, what to do? Throwing money at the problem isn't an option, so what else is there? Discussions were obviously had, and no good solution was reached. Now it seems that they're going for the showy "solution" that doesn't really solve anything, except get money for the other schools.

Not a great outcome and it screws these kids, but hell, they're poor anyway. Life was going to suck for them no matter what. At least this way someone gets helped.
posted by BeReasonable at 10:08 AM on February 24, 2010


So all of you decrying Bathtub Bobsled's $20/hr for quadratics, you think $90/hr is an appropriate salary? You think districts have no money now??? Paying all the teachers $180,000 a year isn't going to help that problem.
posted by Big_B at 10:09 AM on February 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


"a rich tapestry of social failure" very.well.said!
posted by HuronBob at 10:10 AM on February 24, 2010


Those contracts didn't spring fully-formed from the void. They were achieved in negotiations with management. Honestly, whenever I hear people complain about unions, all my ears hear is "we have had spineless managers for a very long time."

I've had this conversation around the dinner table a couple of times this year.

My state is currently going through its annual "school crisis"*. One of the major points of contention between the union and the administration is that the union won't give up their annual "step increases" (which, as near as I can tell is a raise just because you've stayed employed for a set amount of time).
This, of course, is evidence that that "teachers just don't care about the kids"

To which my thought is, "Well, why the hell would an administration negotiate such a contract in the first place? It takes two sides to sign a contract".

* Is it really a crisis if it happens every year?
posted by madajb at 10:13 AM on February 24, 2010


you think $90/hr is an appropriate salary?

For the 1 millionth time, they weren't asking for a $90/hr salary. They were negotiating pay for overtime tasks that the school was demanding they accomplish.

Failure to read and absorb information before posting is not helping your arguments.
posted by muddgirl at 10:13 AM on February 24, 2010 [10 favorites]


Either way, $30 to $90 is a HUGE jump. Besides isn't this all covered in the Fair Labor Standards Act? You are a professional, therefore exempt employee. They don't have to pay you overtime. It sucks, but like my boss tells me, if you don't like it go find another job.

For $20 an hour, I'll teach your kid quadratic equations. Hell, I'll throw in differential equations for another $5.

Great! $20 an hour! You're hired! Here's your classroom, with 35 kids in it because the referendum on raising property taxes in the town failed, and federal aid dried up, and we've got 15% more students than we did three years ago. We were using that hourly number to make our case more sympathetic in the press; in truth, you're salaried, so that number is meaningless. Here's the actual breakdown: school is in session for 6.5 hours a day, 5 days a week, 38 weeks a year, so your salary will be a shade under $25K. Don't worry, we'll handle the escrow with the bank so that you'll still get paychecks during the summer. You're an exempt employee, naturally, since this is a salaried position, and the district doesn't pay overtime anyway. Now, school is in session for 6.5 hours a day, but you're going to be teaching during all of that, so you'll have to handle all grading, lesson prep, disciplinary measures, and parent conferences on your own time--if you're in the building less than 50 hours a week, that next performance evaluation isn't going to look so hot.

Meanwhile, you're all set on meeting state license requirements, right? This state's licensing laws require you to have a master's degree in either education or in a related field to what you're teaching within a few years of starting work, plus you'll need to take periodic courses and licensing exams at the whim of the state licensing agency, or whenever the state legislature decides to play political football with you and your colleagues. Depending on the year's budget, maybe we'll even help you pay for those classes! Meanwhile, anyone with a master's degree working 40 hour weeks in any other professional position will be making between two and six times as much as you do, but that doesn't matter to you, right? Because you're in it for the children, and you'll not sully your good name by getting involved with that teacher's union racket? No sir, you're content being paid similar wages as the assistant manager at Burger King.

So.Fuck.That.
posted by Mayor West at 10:13 AM on February 24, 2010 [55 favorites]


"you think $90/hr is an appropriate salary? You think districts have no money now??? Paying all the teachers $180,000 a year isn't going to help that problem."

did you even READ the article, or is it just a reading comprehension problem?

see, I brought that right back to the topic of education! :)
posted by HuronBob at 10:13 AM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: I feel perfectly safe in ignoring anything you have to say on the matter. Forever.
posted by electroboy at 10:14 AM on February 24, 2010 [6 favorites]


Also, I made about $30 an hour as a starting salary with less schooling than most teachers need to get a certificate. The fact that $30/hr is like, an average or target salary seems too low for me, given that for an engineer with commensurate education, average salary is closer to $60/hr.
posted by muddgirl at 10:15 AM on February 24, 2010


With that many ESL students, I think the solution is bi-lingual education.

Science and math are the same, no matter what language you teach them in.
posted by empath at 10:15 AM on February 24, 2010


coolguymichael wrote With a 45% graduation rate, these "teachers" are getting paid to do nothing. I don't blame them for the obvious and total failure of the parents in the district, but really if they had any self-respect at all they'd have already quit.

You've obviously not spoken with anyone working in a problem school before.

Look at the numbers 25% are in ESL programs, that's the problem right there. And it's going to be intractable.

I don't know how it works in Rhode Island, but here in Texas ESL kicks you out after two years. Doesn't matter if you can speak English or not, you get kicked out after two years regardless.

Also, here in Texas, every student must take the standardized tests regardless of ESL status or not.

School districts also have the nasty habit of putting all their foreign students, their poor students, etc into a single (or group of) high schools as a dumping ground. The schools for the rich kids don't get ESL students, they don't get the kids in from East Europe who speak three words of English. Those schools have high average test scores and high graduation rates. What a surprise.

Assuming, and I think this is the case, RI is like Texas, and every student must take the standardized tests regardless of ESL status, that means the school has a guaranteed failure rate on the tests of 25% before any other considerations are taken into account.

That 45% graduation rate you talk about? It's really a 60% grad rate if you leave out the ESL students, and you should. ESL teachers do their best, but you simply can't teach someone graduating level English in four years, assuming they get the full four years.

I'll also add this: getting into ESL means you can't speak English at all. A kid who can muddle through a really simple English sentence and, with extreme effort, make themselves understood, isn't going to get ESL classes. No way of knowing, but I wouldn't be surprised if the percentage of kids who need ESL is double the number who actually get it.

60% grad rate isn't good, but look at the other statistics. 91% are so poor they qualify for free or reduced lunches. You know how poor you have to be to get into those programs? You've got to be starvation level poor. It takes a lot to get kids in that sort of economic trouble a good education.

I'll also bet that the student/teacher ratio in the badly performing districts is higher than in the richer districts. Fewer teachers == fewer opportunities for one on one instruction, and especially for English and math one on one is vital.

Finally there's this. Know who works at schools like that? The dedicated teachers, the ones who want to make a difference and work until they drop to help the kids. Rhode Island wants to screw over their best, most dedicated, teachers in the name of "fixing" the schools. The state won't give the schools more money, or break up the dumping ground and put some of those ESL students in richer school districts, but they'll fire their most dedicated teachers.

The teachers in that school have sweated blood to get a 45% graduation rate, I'll guarantee it. That isn't failure on their part, it's a staggering success when you consider the obstacles their students face, the budget constraints, etc.

If you don't believe me, and why should you, go see for yourself. Get a job at a low performing school and look at what goes on, how the teachers act, etc. You'll find that I'm right, and you're being a jerk to dismiss those teachers.
posted by sotonohito at 10:17 AM on February 24, 2010 [17 favorites]


average salary is closer to $60/hr

...and increasing. Why is an experience increase per year so inconceivable when my scheduled promotions/pay raises are standard and uncontested? Is it because I don't work for the government? Even though I essentially do, through a contracting firm?
posted by muddgirl at 10:18 AM on February 24, 2010


Anyone who thinks public school teachers are overpaid doesn't know any teachers. I have a several friends who used to be teachers, they all got out because the pay was so crappy. My sister is a teacher and my other sister is a school district psychologist, both are highly capable people who could make a lot more money outside the school system but they both really have a love of working with kids and helping people who really need it. Both make much less than I do and work harder and longer than I do.
I'm sure there are bad teachers out there, but there is very little there to attract anyone who is capable of getting a better paying job. If you want quality workers, you have to pay them. The idea that someone will be willing spend 5 years in school (or more) so they can get a job that will barely sustain them (and may have pretty horrible/stressfull working conditions) is just wrong. Even idealists need to pay their rent.
posted by doctor_negative at 10:23 AM on February 24, 2010 [5 favorites]


This situation pisses me off in more ways than I care to get pissed off. The education system is somewhat representative of many of the broken down public services in this country, and symbolically representative of all of them.

It's a complex situation, but is being dealt with by a population - and it's leadership - who refuse to see the entire picture, and prefer instead to substitute catchy bumper-sticker slogans for well-crafted policy.

America, you deserve what you get.
posted by Xoebe at 10:24 AM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


With a 45% graduation rate, these "teachers" are getting paid to do nothing. ...if they had any self-respect at all they'd have already quit.

Let's hope that oncologists don't develop any self-respect any time soon.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 10:28 AM on February 24, 2010 [8 favorites]


What is this all about?
You want to fire someone, fine, fire them, but what's with the amateur Hollywood dramatics?
posted by madajb at 1:06 PM on February 24 [+] [!]


school board business is conducted in public, and these actions would be part of a (by law) publicly noticed public hearing. they could have just fired them all by announcing it on the consent agenda, and then voting to approve the consent agenda, but the union rep no doubt placed a written request to have the votes read individually on the public meeting agenda. it was a game of chicken, and they lost.
posted by toodleydoodley at 10:30 AM on February 24, 2010


As a teacher, my motto has been since my first year 'this job would be great if it wasn't for the adults.'

Basically teaching has become a small part actual teaching and a large part being a social janitor. We are asked to be custodians for agendas we may not agree with, asked to shepherd people we don't think deserve it and tasked with completing a never-ending mission. And through all of this, it isn't the children who are the barrier, it is the other adults.

Adults who keep moving the target, adults who are, by action or inaction making lives hell for these kids, adults who think that my job shouldn't exist (thanks, fundies!) and adults who won't pay for the basic necessities for me to do my job.

Education is simple - it is attempting to bring some ridiculous 'order' or interfering with the process to it that causes it to break down.
posted by Fuka at 10:30 AM on February 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


Also, I made about $30 an hour as a starting salary with less schooling than most teachers need to get a certificate.

I don't know, the schooling requirements don't appear to be all that rigorous for an entry level certification.

Here's a link to certification requirements to all 50 states.
posted by electroboy at 10:31 AM on February 24, 2010


I find it very telling that our politicians and media figures are constantly thanking our soldiers for their service to the country, but they only ever seem to speak of teachers in discussions on holding them "accountable", never showing gratitude for the many sacrifices teachers make. I wonder how well our soldiers would perform if they were constantly getting dumped on, hamstrung, and defunded the way our teachers are.

(And how the f*ck are so many prominent people in America unable to understand that good, well-supported teachers are just as important for a safe, prosperous nation as good, well-supported soldiers?)
posted by lord_wolf at 10:35 AM on February 24, 2010 [7 favorites]


This is pretty much why I stopped working for the public schools. I make almost the same amount of money working as a phone monkey for a compliance hotline, and I don't have to take my work home with me every night and fret and worry about how to help any of a dozen kids in crisis at any given time. The pay is just not commensurate with the stress and effort involved. Frankly, even if the $90/hr were the regular rate of pay, I'd be pretty hesitant to step back in.
posted by Scattercat at 10:36 AM on February 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


I don't know, the schooling requirements don't appear to be all that rigorous for an entry level certification.
Graduate of an approved program for the preparation of secondary education school teachers within the previous five (5) years from the date of application. Applicants who have not completed an approved program can be certified by transcript analysis by presenting evidence of six (6) semester hours of student teaching (SEE NOTE TWO) in the secondary grades and not less than eighteen (18) semester hours of course work to include work in each of the following areas: Adolescent Psychology, Secondary Methods, Measurements and Evaluation, Identification of and Service to Special Needs Students, Teaching of Reading in the Content Area, and Foundations of Education.
This is, essentially, a master's degree. Which I didn't have when I started making 30/hr as an entry level engineer.

If you don't think an master's degree is a rigorous requirement... well, I don't what would be considered rigorous. Should elementary school teachers have a PhD before they can teach?
posted by muddgirl at 10:41 AM on February 24, 2010


you think $90/hr is an appropriate salary?

For the 1 millionth time, they weren't asking for a $90/hr salary. They were negotiating pay for overtime tasks that the school was demanding they accomplish.

Failure to read and absorb information before posting is not helping your arguments.


Yeah sorry, I forgot that was just overtime, not salary. That is still a very large amount of money that will only compound the problems for a school with funding problems.

Thank you for reminding me for the millionth time though. What would we do without your rantings.
posted by Big_B at 10:41 AM on February 24, 2010


Thank you to every teacher in here. It is truly sad that we can't give teachers mega salaries or make learning environments almost universally great places to be.
posted by cashman at 10:41 AM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


For the 1 millionth time, they weren't asking for a $90/hr salary. They were negotiating pay for overtime tasks that the school was demanding they accomplish.

Failure to read and absorb information before posting is not helping your arguments.


Overtime, eh?

The people who get 80-90 day vacations once a year, every year, want overtime?

Failure to take into account all variables before snarking doesn't help arguments, either.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 10:45 AM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


What would we do without your rantings.

Continue to cite erroneous facts to make a point?

Yeah sorry, I forgot that was just overtime, not salary. That is still a very large amount of money that will only compound the problems for a school with funding problems.

Or the school could hire extra teachers at the non-overtime rate. Or taxpayers could realize that we can't educate children effectively without spending money on them.
posted by muddgirl at 10:45 AM on February 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


The people who get 80-90 day vacations once a year, every year, want overtime?

Those "vacations" are unpaid and thus irrelevant.

Again, please stop citing erroneous "facts" to make a point.
posted by muddgirl at 10:46 AM on February 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


The people who get 80-90 day vacations once a year, every year, want overtime?

wat.
posted by entropicamericana at 10:48 AM on February 24, 2010


school board business is conducted in public, and these actions would be part of a (by law) publicly noticed public hearing. they could have just fired them all by announcing it on the consent agenda, and then voting to approve the consent agenda, but the union rep no doubt placed a written request to have the votes read individually on the public meeting agenda. it was a game of chicken, and they lost.

OK...but the school board wouldn't normally be involved in a firing, right?
I mean, wouldn't they just direct the superintendent to tell the principals to dismiss the folks?
posted by madajb at 10:48 AM on February 24, 2010


The people who get 80-90 day vacations once a year, every year, want overtime?

I get paid for my vacations. They are out of work 80-90 days per year.

Why are you participating in this thread?
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:48 AM on February 24, 2010 [14 favorites]


This is very relevant to me, as my wife is a teacher in a low-performing high school. They've had to meet with state officials regarding whether they will continue on or be closed down. She could be in the same boat as the Rhode Island teachers, and Texas law does not allow the teachers to unionize so they have nothing stronger than "associations" to protect them.

That said... she's doing okay and I think even if she's fired she'll be able to find another teaching gig, but still, from the standpoint of someone like her, the message becomes "Regardless of your own abilities as a teacher, don't take a job at a low-performing school because you could get fired if the school as a whole doesn't improve." I'm not sure how sending that kind of message is going to attract top talent to a low-performing school; any teacher with other options would probably take them and the low-performing schools would be left with the teachers who can't get jobs at "safer" schools.
...

I don't have much sympathy for the working hours of the teachers

Do you have any freakin' clue, pla, how much a competent, skilled teacher actually spends to do his or her job? That many teachers typically go in early or stay late to provide tutoring to struggling students? That they spend 2-4 hours each night after they go home planning future lessons and grading assignments? That they spend their summers "off" attending mandatory training?
posted by Doohickie at 10:50 AM on February 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Big_B, you went on an asshole rant about teachers making $180,000 and being spoiled and god damn those stupid teachers am I right. Then you were reminded that teachers were paid a third that, and that triple overtime is not an uncommon practice, and instead of saying, "Oops, I made a fuckup," you decided to snark at the person pointing out your wrongs.

High school is fresh in my mind. There were two sorts of teachers in my upper middle class public school: The teachers who were petty dictators with barely an education themselves, and the stupendous virtuoso teachers who were capable of handling a plethora of utter upfuckery without ever seeming to lose esteem. The latter I credit for everything I know that wasn't plucked from the Internet. They should be paid much more than they are.

For a year and a half I wanted to be a teacher. Then, tenderly, certain teachers of mine completely killed my interest in teaching. They pointed out that they didn't have the freedoms to take initiatives of their own, because the union wouldn't let them start volunteer after-school groups, not because the union was evil but because if teachers started volunteering their time then other teachers would have their overtime cut. They made very explicit the systems they had to deal with, the meaningless tests and the class time devoted to them. They pointed out the evershrinking art budget. The marching band outfits that hadn't been replaced in twenty years.

Between that and the astounding idiocy of those other teachers, my desire to work in such a place was completely eradicated. I love teaching, I love working with children, I love fostering discussions, but I could never work in such a fettered environment, particularly for such low pay. It's toxic. We need to figure out how to fire bad teachers, but that can't start until we've figured out how to attract better ones.
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:52 AM on February 24, 2010 [5 favorites]


This is, essentially, a master's degree. Which I didn't have when I started making 30/hr as an entry level engineer.

No, if you read a little more closely, that's a bachelors from a secondary education program. If you haven't graduated from a secondary education program, then you have to fulfill the additional requirements.
posted by electroboy at 10:53 AM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


It seems like there's a real big split between people who are friends with or related to teachers and people who just don't get it.

Go out and ask around. I'm sure you all know someone who is married to or dating a teacher (I know two), especially if you're engineers or computer scientists (for some reason we love to marry teachers!) Ask if they'll be honest with you about what they're paid and how much they work and what they think of all these so-called "Educational Reforms".
posted by muddgirl at 10:53 AM on February 24, 2010


Those "vacations" are unpaid and thus irrelevant.


Or they're factored into the salary to begin with.

I wish I had a citation for you all, but a couple of years ago I did a big reading project on education funding, and one book I read cited studies that found that teachers did not work more hours than workers with comparable education and pay, averaged over the full year. In other words, those long hours teachers work during the school year, doing grading and prep in the evenings and so on, average out when the number of days they don't work at all are taken into account. It's more of a "feast or famine" situation for teachers, whereas other workers in general have similar hours year-round.

Which is not to say anything about the many other challenges teachers face. I taught at the community college level for many years, and the challenges were similar in terms of unprepared, unmotivated students as public school teachers face. The person up-thread who said that in a bad system it's hard to tell the good workers from the bad really resonated with me from that experience.

It's a complex situation, but is being dealt with by a population - and it's leadership - who refuse to see the entire picture, and prefer instead to substitute catchy bumper-sticker slogans for well-crafted policy.


Xoebe, what "entire picture" do you see that you think we and our leadership don't? What do you think well-crafted policy would look like?
posted by not that girl at 10:53 AM on February 24, 2010


I make more than teachers do and I never finished my undergradiate degree, so I am not about to complain that the requirements aren't stringent enough. I know cashiers who make $15/hour and salesmen who have a two-year degree who are pulling in $100k.

We don't pay our teachers enough.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:55 AM on February 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


You're right, electroboy.

High school teachers have the exact same education I do (with extra credit hours in education), twice as hard a job as I do, and make half the money.

WTG teachers! Enjoy your 3 months of unpaid time off every summer!
posted by muddgirl at 10:55 AM on February 24, 2010


So all of you decrying Bathtub Bobsled's $20/hr for quadratics, you think $90/hr is an appropriate salary? You think districts have no money now??? Paying all the teachers $180,000 a year isn't going to help that problem.

I will take you up on the $20 per student to teach quadratics offer.

If each parent would give me $20 for the hour I spent with their kids, in a classroom of 20, I could make $400 an hour.

Given that I typically have 5 classes a day, that would be $2000 a day.

Over a week, I'd be making $10,000.

Basically, $20 per kid per hour sounds about right.
posted by Joey Michaels at 10:57 AM on February 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


Go out and ask around. I'm sure you all know someone who is married to or dating a teacher (I know two), especially if you're engineers or computer scientists (for some reason we love to marry teachers!) Ask if they'll be honest with you about what they're paid and how much they work and what they think of all these so-called "Educational Reforms".

I know many teachers. They do love to complain--and so did I, when I was teaching. Who doesn't? But they're not all honest. For instance, a few years ago my school district was facing a very big school millage vote--IIRC, it would have cost me an additional $250 per year on property taxes. Not a ton, but not nothing, either.

A teacher I know was exhorting everyone at my Quaker meeting to vote in favor of the millage because it was "so important to support education."

But every penny of the millage increase was going to go to maintain teachers' benefits at their current level and current cost. None of it was reaching classrooms or students.

Now, I get that investing in teachers is investing in students--we do need to make teaching attractive enough to talented people that they will enter the profession, and stay in it. But in this case, it seemed to me the millage was going to take money directly out of my pocket and put it into this teacher's--I was being asked to pay more money so that she could continue to have better health insurance at a lower out-of-pocket cost than I have ever had. I couldn't stomach it, and it troubled me that when she was telling people how important the vote was she wasn't being honest about where the money was going or what her motivations were.

I never thought I'd vote against a school millage, but I voted against that one.
posted by not that girl at 11:01 AM on February 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


With that many ESL students, I think the solution is bi-lingual education.

Science and math are the same, no matter what language you teach them in.
posted by empath at 12:15 PM on February 24 [+] [!]

Okay... English and what other language? Spanish? Chinese? Vietnamese? Serbian? Russian? Korean? All these groups are represented in my wife's school.
posted by Doohickie at 11:03 AM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


a lot of teachers also work during that "vacation", either as tutors or getting summer jobs.

and yeah, there is a LOT of mandatory training stuff they have to do, so it's not like they just frolick for 3 months drinking from a pineapple with a paper umbrella in it.

someone i know who is a literacy counselor at a school...well, the school moved to a different buildling and she had to transport ALL HER OWN STUFF to the new building. anything that wasn't school property (like desks or furniture), had to be packed up by the teacher and moved. so books in classrooms that weren't library books, all the other teaching stuff that teachers who have been there for years and years have accumulated and use, they had to, on their own, pack it up and move it themselves to the new building.

they did not get paid for this. i guess they could claim the mileage on their taxes. but i know she spent several weekends at the school over the summer working on that and her son went down with the station wagon to help her move stuff to the new building.

so yeah, fun vacation.
posted by sio42 at 11:03 AM on February 24, 2010


Bathtub Bobsled : The people who get 80-90 day vacations once a year, every year, want overtime? Failure to take into account all variables before snarking doesn't help arguments, either.

If you want to cite hourly rates that ignore actual yearly salaries (as well as about a third of the time teachers actually put in), you have to take the flip side of that with grace.

Failure to take into account all variables doesn't help arguments. When a highly educated professional makes $20-30k (and yes, after 20 years in, they might double that1, which translates to yearly 3.5% raises - Have you ever gotten a yearly cost of living increase?), you really can't ask all that much more of them for free.


1: My first year out of college as an educated professional, I made double that - But don't let little details like that stop us from all piling on the greedy teacher bastard hatefest
posted by pla at 11:03 AM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


We don't pay our teachers enough.

The average wage for teachers in my state is ~$52,000.
The average household income is ~$48,000.
(Male, full-time, year-round - ~$42,000/female - ~$32,000).

So teachers are doing slightly better than the average person. Given a strong retirement system and good job protection, I'd say they are doing ok.

My concerns pay-wise are usually reserved for the seemingly endless layers of over-paid school administration. Teachers, at least, actually teach.

I didn't see anything in the article about administrators offering to take a pay cut.
posted by madajb at 11:06 AM on February 24, 2010


Those "vacations" are unpaid and thus irrelevant.


Or they're factored into the salary to begin with.



Vacation. Meh. My wife gets about the same amount of days off over the summer as I get as paid vacation... maybe 3-4 weeks. The first month after class lets out is a time for grading, administrivia, lessons learned and look-ahead planning. The month before classes start are for more planning and getting the new teachers spun up. These are not optional days for my wife; she is required to be there. That leaves about one month of "vacation" but there are also training classes to take that eat up a week or two of that. All this extra stuff is because she works at a low-performing school. (She's only had one student, by the way, in 4 years of teaching at this school, that failed the standardized exam; all the rest passed; her department does well in general, but because other departments can't get the required passing rates, it's deemed a low-performing school even though her department has an "exemplary rating" pass rate.)
posted by Doohickie at 11:10 AM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Those "vacations" are unpaid and thus irrelevant.

Or they're factored into the salary to begin with.


This.

Why are you participating in this thread?

Because I have been at the dinner table with two teachers after they have endured a day of oversized classrooms, difficult if not outright impossible students, standardized tests with ridiculous expectations, and in one instance a student who threatened my dad with a knife. Not once were these labored sighs followed by a "man, I should get paid more for this."

One of my college friends works in District 9 (name of which school escapes me). Yeah, its tough. Definitely a thankless job, but he took it because he had this weird obsession with "making a difference." The guy makes peanuts. He was just given tenure and they finally gave him a token raise for the morning program he started over a year ago and has been running with grant money he himself raised. The school didn't even want to let him use the upstairs auditorium because there wouldn't be any security personell on site. I should call him and say "Hey there's this website that says you should be getting $90 an hour for giving a damn. You don't even have to raise the money for it, either."

BTB, teachers are salaried. They get paid yearly. There are a small minority of teachers who stop receiving paychecks two weeks into the summer, but those are the ones that turn around and teach Summer School. Their salary isn't based on the hours they work unless they are adjunct or teacher aides.

We're not asking for "martyr teachers." We're asking for teachers who will try to do their job and won't charge $90 for a little extra sweat. When they signed on for this job, they knew what they were up against. If they don't like it, move to Florida or Texas. Standards down their are a joke. If the kids are breathing, they graduate. Send these Rhode Island teachers to NYC where not only do they have a graduation benchmark, but they have Regents requirements as well.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 11:15 AM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Kinda hard to have a spine when it's been surgically removed by 60-something years of bad government oversight.

You are right Cool Pappa, labor has all the power nowadays and management has none. It's a wonder that any business gets done in the US given all the collective bargaining sessions, NLRB complaints, OSHA inquiries, and whatnot. Oh for the good old days when you could deduct rent, food, clothing, and tool costs from a workers pay and if someone were injured or killed on the job, no problem, there were plenty waiting to take over. You must literally pine for the days when worker entitlement meant the right to take a beating if they complained. Seriously dude, put down the Fountainhead and read up on a little US labor history.
posted by aquathug at 11:16 AM on February 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Standards down their are a joke.

Apparently, my NYS Regents education didn't do shit for grammar.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 11:18 AM on February 24, 2010


No, I was asking why you were participating in the thread because you seem to be here to vent your spleen with bad assertions and unchecked assumptions.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:20 AM on February 24, 2010


madajb If you want to see a teacher go into a blind fury bring up the topic of how much administrators are paid.

In my small town school district (4 high schools), the local head administrator makes over $250,000 a year, plus a new car every year, plus all expenses related to that car (insurance, gas, etc), plus a killer medical insurance policy. My wife, a long time English teacher in a low performing school, makes around $40,000 a year.
posted by sotonohito at 11:21 AM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


We're not asking for "martyr teachers."

Actually, you kind of are. You keep bringing up the example of teachers in your family who go above and beyond (such as tutoring for a pittance and then spending that money on snacks for the kids). And if they want to do that? Fantastic. But that shouldn't be the norm, that "good" teachers are ones who love the kids so much that they'll take whatever someone deigns to give them in return for a disproportionate amount of work.

Teachers who advocate for better working conditions for themselves don't love the kids any less, you know.

Definitely a thankless job, but he took it because he had this weird obsession with "making a difference." The guy makes peanuts.

And this is not a good status quo to have. That some people are willing to accept it does not mean it's the way our society should be functioning. Teachers should not be punished for wanting to make a difference.
posted by Salieri at 11:23 AM on February 24, 2010 [14 favorites]


For the 1 millionth time, they weren't asking for a $90/hr salary. They were negotiating pay for overtime tasks that the school was demanding they accomplish.

They are exempt. Most exempt employees do not get paid at all for their overtime, much less get paid at higher rates than regular time. I think they were being a little greedy here on that one oint. I am sure this is not the only reason the negotiations broke down though. If it was it was silly. It's hard to know what really happened and the school has done a better job than the teachers of getting the message out. Here is one of the affected teachers' point of view.
posted by caddis at 11:25 AM on February 24, 2010


A Regents diploma means very little to anyone outside of NY.

I _knew_ taking those exams was a waste of time! heh.
posted by madajb at 11:25 AM on February 24, 2010


When a highly educated professional makes $20-30k (and yes, after 20 years in...

Here's another place where you guys don't know the variables. A teachers salary in 90% of the districts (at least in NYS,Pennsylvania, Massachusettes, etc.) are directly influenced by the cost of living in that area.

Look at how much teachers are making in Oyster Bay, NY versus... say, Massena, NY.

There is not standard base salary accross the board.

Next?
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 11:26 AM on February 24, 2010


There are many great books on education out there, but one very interesting recent one is Disrupting Class by Clayton Christensen.

Christensen demonstrates that there is no one single root cause to the educational malaise we're experiencing in the USA. He specifically cites examples that disprove the ideas that too little money, too few computers, uninterested or unprepared students and parents, a broken teaching paradigm or strong unions are the single root cause behind the problem. He also points out that while collectively, these might all contribute to the problem, the US is hardly the only country that experiences these exact same problems - and those countries obtain better results than the US.

The book goes on to demonstrate that one of the issues is also how we evaluate schools - though it is quick to point out that this also isn't the only issue:
...schools in the United States have in fact constantly improved. Society keeps moving the goalpoasts on schools by changing the definitions of quality and asking schools to take on new jobs. Even in these new landscapes, where most successful organizations fail, schools have adapted remarkably well
Ultimately, one of the major issues that Christensen identifies is the difference between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivation suggests that somebody can receive some sort of outside benefit (i.e. a better job) by participating in the educational process. Intrinsic motivation suggests that participating in the educational process should somehow be in itself enjoyable.

Disrupting Class points out that when a country's people need education to get better jobs, they tend to work harder - hence extrinsic education. If there doesn't seem to be any external benefit to getting an education, many students (perhaps wisely) see no value in getting the education. Why work to get decent grades if there's no benefit to it?

For example, if you're 16, what benefit do you personally see from studying for and doing well on a NCLB test? Does it get you a job? Does it get more food? Does it find you a boyfriend or girlfriend?

No, basically, it helps your school administrators and maybe your teachers and maybe some kids that will be in the high school after you leave.

One of the moves in education is towards intrinsically motivating students. Providence, Rhode Island, has at least one school that does just that: The MET. The MET is a publicly funded school that approaches education completely differently than most schools in the area. It is student centered with project based education at its center. They select students by lottery from a similar socio-economic background as the students at Central Falls and they have a fantastic graduation rate.

So, Rhode Island has a public model for successfully educating kids in a lower socio-economic situation right in front of them - indeed, one that serves as a model for a number of schools nationwide.

I put it to you the Central Falls will fire all its teachers, hire back some new ones and see virtually no difference in overall quality of education or graduation rates. Maybe a small blip. Maybe a clever administrator will find a way to reframe the definition of success so they don't lose face. In the end, though, an education system that offers no apparent benefits to its students is one that is never going to improve in a meaningful way.
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:31 AM on February 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


The average wage for teachers in my state is ~$52,000.
The average household income is ~$48,000.
(Male, full-time, year-round - ~$42,000/female - ~$32,000).

So teachers are doing slightly better than the average person. Given a strong retirement system and good job protection, I'd say they are doing ok.


You haven't taken into account the fact that anyone teaching holds at least a bachelor's degree, most likely a master's (which moves your second line from $48K to $78K), and that their benefits and salaries are subject to adjustment whenever there's a budget shortfall because of politicians playing political football with teaching in a way that they would never consider with police officers or firefighters.
posted by Mayor West at 11:31 AM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


We're not asking for "martyr teachers." We're asking for teachers who will try to do their job and won't charge $90 for a little extra sweat. When they signed on for this job, they knew what they were up against. If they don't like it, move to Florida or Texas.

We don't need to create a system where the only people who teach are those that are willing to put up with low pay, few resources, high stress, and unhelpful administration. We already have that system.

The goal is to create a system where every student gets a quality education, regardless of who they are and where they live. And one of the major problems in getting there is that the vast majority of people who are qualified and dedicated enough to provide that kind of education could easily find a more rewarding and less frustrating career elsewhere.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:32 AM on February 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


Aha! I found the op-ed I was looking for.

Classroom Distinctions was written after Hilary Swank's Freedom Writers and addresses how movies write the narrative of the modern teacher:

Films like “Freedom Writers” portray teachers more as missionaries than professionals, eager to give up their lives and comfort for the benefit of others, without need of compensation. Ms. Gruwell sacrifices money, time and even her marriage for her job.

Her behavior is not represented as obsessive or self-destructive, but driven — necessary, even. She is forced into making these sacrifices by the aggressive neglect of the school’s administrators, who won’t even let her take books from the bookroom. The film applauds Ms. Gruwell’s dedication, but also implies that she has no other choice. In order to be a good teacher, she has to be a hero.

“Freedom Writers,” like all teacher movies this side of “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie,” is presented as a celebration of teaching, but its message is that poor students need only love, idealism and martyrdom.

posted by Salieri at 11:32 AM on February 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


No, I was asking why you were participating in the thread because you seem to be here to vent your spleen with bad assertions and unchecked assumptions.

When in Rome, Mr. Zombie.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 11:32 AM on February 24, 2010


Seriously dude, put down the Fountainhead and read up on a little US labor history.

Only if you go first, Captain Strawman. Because the stuff you're talking about in popular media happened more than 60 years ago and just isn't relevant today. The unions did their jobs, labor conditions have been vastly improved, and unions are now abusing a set of poorly constructed laws, helped along by fanciful views, like yours, that we're all just a few bad coin flips from being Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront.

Horseshit.

Here, let me give you a simple example ... You do realize that a school district, for example, has NO means to NOT negotiate with a teacher's union, right? The school district can't just rub its eyes one morning and go, "You know what? I don't want to negotiate with this union. I'm just going to hire someone else." Can't happen. But it can happen in just about every other business on the planet.

Oh, and by the way...

OSHA inquiries

... have nothing to do with union negotiations. Apples and oranges, buddy.

Maybe your union rep can negotiate for you on MeFi. What, you mean you don't have one? Oh, that's because unions represent only about 12 percent of the U.S. work force.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:34 AM on February 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


We're not asking for "martyr teachers"...

two teachers after they have endured a day of oversized classrooms, difficult if not outright impossible students, standardized tests with ridiculous expectations, and in one instance a student who threatened my dad with a knife. Not once were these labored sighs followed by a "man, I should get paid more for this."

You obviously are. All of things are worth extra pay, especially the threat of physical violence. If that student had followed through on that threat with a knife, you'd be literally asking for martyr teachers.
posted by spaltavian at 11:38 AM on February 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


caddis : They are exempt. Most exempt employees do not get paid at all for their overtime, much less get paid at higher rates than regular time.

I don't think "exempt" means what you think it does. It applies only in the case of "at will" employment, and in the absence of any explicit contract defining the terms of employment.

Teachers have such a contract. They have an obligation to satisfy their side of it, and nothing more than that.


As an aside, I do work in an "exempt" profession. And while I don't explicitly get overtime, you can bet that I get comped for it (whether bonuses or extra vacation time or what-have-you) if my employer doesn't want me jumping ship six months down the road.
posted by pla at 11:39 AM on February 24, 2010


sotonohito -
No doubt. A car, huh? That's a nice perk.
posted by madajb at 11:39 AM on February 24, 2010


quoth muddgirl: average salary is closer to $60/hr

OK, for the math impaired, incl. muddgirl apparently: National median for secondary school teachers (excluding special education) $54,460/38 weeks*40 hours=$35.83.

Closer to $60 an hour than what? $120/hr? $5.00/hr?

Rhode Island average in 2007 (latest published figures) was $55,956, which jumps the hourly for contact hours, not including unpaid hours for grading, planning, meetings, community organizations etc.$mdash;and yes I know that no reliable figure could be estimated for that--some do a lot and some do none. I still have nightmares over my son's 6th grade math teacher who had no idea how averages worked. But hey, recent studies show that as many as 38% of teachers are teaching in subjects they are not certified in—so that ups it to...$36.81/hr. Well, a little closer to $60 now, innit?

But from the same Digest of Education Studies, constant 2007 dollars for teachers in Rhode Island went from 47,336 in 1969/70 to 55,956 in 2006/07 after hitting a high of $57969 in 1989/90. So in terms of getting an increase every year, as someone said above, the real increase in terms of economic power went up 17% in 40 years. Those damn bandits are getting rich on the public dole!!! (The economic purchasing power in constant 2007 dollars went down 1.4% from 2000/2001 through 2006/2007).

We will spend hours arguing whether they are worth it given failing schools and comparative arguments that say that how much is spent per pupil is not an indicator of how well students perform to state standards (some primarily rural states like New Hampshire pay relatively little and spend relatively little per student but have outstanding standardized test outcomes and relatively high college continuation and graduation while states such as Alabama have relatively the same expenditures for teachers and per pupil but have much less success on these same outcomes). If we truly care about urban graduation rates--and I am sincere when I say that I think that many of you only weigh into this argument because you either had a bad experience with either your school or a particular teacher and you just want revenge on all teachers, or you have a sense that ALL public employees are parasites on the body politick and just use this FPP as an excuse to vent--yes, if you TRULY care, then you might see that improving education at the earliest practical age (somewhere in the 4-6 year old age) and both paying for excellence AND requiring responsibility (i.e. paying for performance) is a reasonable solution.

I do not agree entirely with the union position in Central Falls, and I live too close to Detroit to think that the administration has no places to cut duplication and waste (and corruption). But arguing over a few dollars plus or minus in the CF district is meaningless--the problem is systemic, and nationwide.
posted by beelzbubba at 11:40 AM on February 24, 2010 [5 favorites]


You haven't taken into account the fact that anyone teaching holds at least a bachelor's degree, most likely a master's (which moves your second line from $48K to $78K)

No, I took it into account.

and that their benefits and salaries are subject to adjustment whenever there's a budget shortfall because of politicians playing political football with teaching in a way that they would never consider with police officers or firefighters.

I don't know what things are like out your way, but police and firefighters around here are subject to the same shenanigans.
posted by madajb at 11:42 AM on February 24, 2010


High school teachers have the exact same education I do (with extra credit hours in education), twice as hard a job as I do, and make half the money.

If they have the exact same education you do, you went to a truly awful engineering school. An undergrad education degree requires about 60 in-major credits, including student teaching, whereas an engineering degree requires about 90-100.
posted by electroboy at 11:43 AM on February 24, 2010


All of things are worth extra pay, especially the threat of physical violence.

Wanna know what the police officers are making in the same area?

Disrupting Class points out that when a country's people need education to get better jobs, they tend to work harder - hence extrinsic education.

To a point, I agree. But if you glance at China, the waters are a bit muddied.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 11:47 AM on February 24, 2010


I'd also like to say that this type of Federal blackmail is unconscionable.
First you suck all the money out of the States. then put onerous terms and conditions on getting back the pittance you haven't pissed away on foreign adventures?

Slimeballs.
posted by madajb at 11:51 AM on February 24, 2010


If they don't like it, move to Florida or Texas. Standards down their are a joke. If the kids are breathing, they graduate.

Hey, whoa whoa hey, don't bring Florida in and disparage us like that for no reason. Do you have any factual basis for this contention?

In fact, Florida, Alabama, West Virginia and South Carolina require 24 credits to graduate, as opposed to (most states) 20.5.
posted by misha at 11:52 AM on February 24, 2010


Oh, and I should include Michigan, since they just toughened their curriculum up last years.
posted by misha at 11:52 AM on February 24, 2010


Oooops--muddgirl, I didn't mean to impugn any of your positions regarding teachers.

And misha, congrats on your standards in Florida and may it help the dismal graduation rate you already have (though I doubt if increasing the credits to graduate will ameliorate the situation).
posted by beelzbubba at 11:59 AM on February 24, 2010


I'll also add this: getting into ESL means you can't speak English at all. A kid who can muddle through a really simple English sentence and, with extreme effort, make themselves understood, isn't going to get ESL classes. No way of knowing, but I wouldn't be surprised if the percentage of kids who need ESL is double the number who actually get it.

You are right on there. I didn't teach ESL specifically, but for about 25% of my students, English was their second language. In order to continue certification I had to take "Teaching ESL" classes at the local college (on my own time, on my own dime.) I used the techniques in my regular classes with my ESL kids. I was also good with the LD kids. Consequently I ended up with one class of kids, supposedly Freshman English, that was either ESL or LD. All of 'em. Let's just say I had to drop back ten yards and punt with the lesson plan.

Also, I agree 100% with whomever it was upthread who said that the standardized tests should be offered separately for ESL kids was spot on. TOEFL is the equivalent of the SAT for ESL students, there should be a high school equivalent.

And for the record, I have a Masters. My salary in 2001 was $39,000. Broward County Florida.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:59 AM on February 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


@Cool Pappa

Strawman my ass! I live on the waterfront and let me tell you it is worse now than it was 60 years ago. I will say that you are right though, union membership is down significantly thanks in whole to those who share your deluded view that workers rights no longer need to be protected. If you believe that workers in the US are not being routinely exploited right here in the present day, every day of the week, then you are clearly in a special class and so shielded from the effects that labor policy since Nixon has had on American workers.

Also, OSHA inquiries have everything to do with worker safety which in turn has everything to do with the role of unions and collective bargaining. Wages are not the only workplace issue, but you might not know that unless your grandfather was crushed by a shipping container (as was mine) while working a double shift, or your father had fallen and was trapped between containers, or your .... Who am I kidding, there is no amount of fact that is gonna shake your opinion. The management class really has nothing in common with the working class. Really. Nothing.
posted by aquathug at 12:10 PM on February 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


In my small town school district (4 high schools), the local head administrator makes over $250,000 a year, plus a new car every year, plus all expenses related to that car (insurance, gas, etc), plus a killer medical insurance policy. My wife, a long time English teacher in a low performing school, makes around $40,000 a year.

A) That's top tier. Administrators don't start anywhere near there, and like any other job, they have to work their way up. Couple years as a Vice Principal, couple years as a Principal at a smaller district, couple years as business admin, a few years at an assistant superintendent at a smaller district, few years as a superintendent at a smaller district...etc. The only way to jump this is if you have accounting or managerial experience.

B) The Superintendent does not have the job security you would think. Its far easier to get rid of a lazy Superintendent than it is a tenured teacher, unless there is misconduct or, in this situation, a teacher's union that tries to stonewall you.

C) The Superintendent does not get summers, breaks, or snow days off.

D) The Superintendent requires a more advanced degree and a higher level of certification.

E) The Superintendent does not get to go home at 4:00.

F) The Superintendent has to work with the state, the BOE, the teachers' union, the teachers, and any higher level disciplinary action, and also is often the one subpeonaed whenever shit goes awry.

Most of the time, they're worth every penny. I'd be interested to see what school district pays for a new car every year. In fact, I think you're severely mistaken, if not outrightly fabricating this. Travel is almost never covered unless the Superintendent has to travel out of state, as all school non-urban school districts require the Superintendent to live in the school district.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 12:19 PM on February 24, 2010


The management class really has nothing in common with the working class. Really. Nothing.

This. Times 10. We've known this forever. At the end of the Gilded Age, we railed against it. Our citizens and government vowed to overcome it, and was very sucessful in leveling the playing field.

It never sat well with wealthy and powerful and, for the last fifty years, conservative lawmakers have taken their "donations" and worked tirelessly to hand all our gains back.

And the truly fucked-up thing is people are mad at unions. That is truly self-hatred at its finest.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 12:27 PM on February 24, 2010 [13 favorites]


tl;dr - Make all education funding primarily Federal, bring back tracking if it has been abolished.

I'm no expert, but I live in a city with a school system that is seriously challenged. We have a child at the age where we have to pull the trigger on school choice. You have to make your choice at kindergarten or you are in the wind.

The public schools that can teach your 5th graders how to write an essay in Chinese about ancient Egypt: that's Federal money that makes this possible. That money came because that school had horrible overall test scores, deep poverty in the catchment area. This money is finite and creates a moving target in the city. When that goes away there is no certainty what will happen to that school, and that money WILL go away before your child has passed through.

Funny thing about that: is not a charter school, we have those too. Just getting Fed money means you can do special things with the money, but I don't think you get the same guarantees for continued funding per child, etc that you'd get if the gov't made a contract with a private corp.

The school in our neighborhood has a large percentage of free lunch, but somehow isn't up for Fed money. It is still trying to dine on the fact it was a funded Arts school a decade ago, but it isn't now. And it seems, to get more money from upper tiers of government, you have to have a horrible starting position, and improve, but NOT willy-nilly, because you are graded on the size of the achievement gap, not simply a higher blended average of test scores.

If your child is gifted, he/she is a liability to funding in a sense. Not to say sabotage is deliberate, but if your child can ace the tests due to a good teacher, or good parenting, or whatever - there is no upside for that child. He/she will have to sit in those prep hours with everyone else. That kills the learning spirit.

If your child has a learning issue, then improving that child's scores are important to the school, but you know your child is fighting for the attention of one teacher. Others in this thread have done a good job explaining how that works.

I would love to see Federal money as the primary funder of education, with local money being the sugar, instead of the other way round. I would like to see tracking, as the way it is now seems to hurt everyone, gifted, competent, challenged alike.
posted by drowsy at 12:28 PM on February 24, 2010


Hey, whoa whoa hey, don't bring Florida in and disparage us like that for no reason. Do you have any factual basis for this contention?

In fact, Florida, Alabama, West Virginia and South Carolina require 24 credits to graduate, as opposed to (most states) 20.5.


New York requires 32.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 12:32 PM on February 24, 2010


The Superintendent does not get to go home at 4:00.

Well, yes, but the superintendent doesn't have to go home and grade papers, either.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 12:45 PM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Here's another place where you guys don't know the variables.

That is a rich follow-up to your $20/$25 hr comment and your oh-so-thorough dinner anecdote.
posted by weston at 12:46 PM on February 24, 2010


@Bathtub,

G) Do not taunt The Superintendent.

I kid. I wouldn't want that job in a failing system either. What I find interesting or worth looking up is: to what degree does the Duncan program touch the political class: Superintendents and consultants.

A lot of BOE systems have consultants that soak up six-figure salaries - these are usually people who should have trained worthy replacements and made themselves redundant.

The political and crony positions can be good or bad, just like the unionized teachers. But a lot of the failing physical plants, etc are victims of weak political long term will, and I wonder what the Duncan plan says about those positions.
posted by drowsy at 12:51 PM on February 24, 2010


...6.5 hours a day, 5 days a week, 38 weeks a year, so your salary will be a shade under $25K.

Depending on the school district and the cost of living there. We've gone over this.

You're an exempt employee, naturally, since this is a salaried position, and the district doesn't pay overtime anyway.

Yeah. Actually, they do. If you work outside your designated capacity (after school programs, Saturday sessions, Lunch monitoring, chaperoning, activity counseling, coaching, etc.) you get paid hourly overtime. This requirement was finally met by my buddy's school district after NYSUT basically told them "If you don't pay him for this, you're going to get fined out the ass." The district put it before the board, figuring it would go down, and to their surprise, it didn't.


...plus you'll need to take periodic courses and licensing exams at the whim of the state licensing agency, or whenever the state legislature decides to play political football with you and your colleagues.

Unless you were tenured prior to the licensing change. This is something NYSUT pushed for and won back in the 1980's. Maybe its different in other states, and if it is, I would expect some sort of citation. The only exception is when they mandated CPR training, and in that event, the state paid the tab to have these classes provided at each of the schools and the teachers were paid for their time.

Meanwhile, anyone with a master's degree working 40 hour weeks in any other professional position will be making between two and six times as much as you do,

And they are most likely working more than 190 days a year.


So.Fuck.THAT.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 12:58 PM on February 24, 2010


Unions should be abolished because collective bargaining is communism, and also because workers are protected by labor laws, which should be abolished because government interference in labor is communism.

School of hamburger fish
posted by dirigibleman at 12:58 PM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


It seems like there's a real big split between people who are friends with or related to teachers and people who just don't get it.

This is a poor assumption, unless you don't count being married to one as either friends with or of relation.

Look I'm not arguing that teachers aren't paid enough, and from seeing some numbers that are thrown around in this thread there are some obvious regional salary differences going on. Teachers out here in California make a pretty decent wage - and they are comparable to someone with the same amount of schooling with say, a science degree, at least based on the subset of 50 to 60 teachers and scientists/engineers that I've been around over the years.

This is horribly managerial of me, but times are tight, and yes you should fight for what you think is appropriate compensation, but you also have to be realistic with your demands. And $90/hour for overtime pay is not reasonable.

Big_B, you went on an asshole rant about teachers making $180,000 and being spoiled and god damn those stupid teachers am I right. Then you were reminded that teachers were paid a third that, and that triple overtime is not an uncommon practice, and instead of saying, "Oops, I made a fuckup," you decided to snark at the person pointing out your wrongs.


It wasn't an asshole rant IMO, it was me typing comments into this little box here to express my feelings. We're still allowed to do that here. I know lots of teachers, and I'm married to one. They are fantastic whiners. They have incredibly difficult jobs, one that I couldn't handle do to my lack of patience. But they whine A LOT. And they still do it all summer, while I'm sitting in my office and they are in the pool. This is a specific person I am thinking of, not a figment of my imagination. Like I said though, I'm not disparaging they have a tough job in a broken system. My SO is insanely dedicated to her job, and wants to fix it, but the union and bureaucratic layers make it almost impossible.

Yes my math was obviously wrong, which I recognized. I'm not going to apologize for responding to snark with snark. It's what we do here.
posted by Big_B at 12:59 PM on February 24, 2010


Well, yes, but the superintendent doesn't have to go home and grade papers, either.

They don't have mandated 60 minute planning periods, and 45 minutes at the end of the day to do so.

Do the teachers have to attend weekly school board meetings 2-3 hours every Wednesday/Thursday? And do they have to evaluate 2 members of the staff on-site, then write a full report every month?
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 1:03 PM on February 24, 2010


Since when do people get triple pay for overtime? I get that these are actually salaried positons, yadda yadda, but there is the whole $30/hr vs $90/hr thing in the article/this thread.
I always thought overtime is usually 1.5x hourly wage, and after two hours of overtime goes up to 2xhrly etc.

Why would they all of a sudden get triple time for the extra hours? This is the kind of thing that gives unions a bad name.
posted by smartypantz at 1:04 PM on February 24, 2010


Bathtub Bobsled I shouldn't respond to trolls, but ok.

http://www.amarillo.com/stories/072008/new_news12.shtml

The Amarillo super no longer gets a car, he used to.

I doubt his job requires skills worth what he is paid. Hire an MBA from India for $40,000 and he'd do just as well.

No one in management is worth the obscene amounts they get paid.
posted by sotonohito at 1:05 PM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ugh, shouldn't reply to trolls.

Bye bye Mr. Troll, I won't be talking to you anymore.
posted by sotonohito at 1:06 PM on February 24, 2010


school board business is conducted in public, and these actions would be part of a (by law) publicly noticed public hearing. they could have just fired them all by announcing it on the consent agenda, and then voting to approve the consent agenda, but the union rep no doubt placed a written request to have the votes read individually on the public meeting agenda. it was a game of chicken, and they lost.

OK...but the school board wouldn't normally be involved in a firing, right?
I mean, wouldn't they just direct the superintendent to tell the principals to dismiss the folks?


I see what you mean, but no.

public school teachers are public (state) employees, which means they work for you, the taxpayer. the school board is your proxy of authority. any action they take on public policy, using your money, has to be conducted in public.

that means the press is in attendance and meetings are posted in the paper so you can attend. school board members are not even allowed to talk about policy decisions without a member of the media or public present. so, when making decisions about (your) public employees, they have to do it in a public hearing, in front of god and everyone. they can't make the decision privately, because those are your employees and your money. they have to do it in front of you.

so while they could do it as I mentioned above - put it on the consent agenda (which is basically a paper schedule of things expected to be decided at the meeting, which the public is able to read and comment on during the meeting, and the board members simply vote to accept it, reject it, or ask to modify, discuss and then vote on the modifications) and just vote on it, the teachers, via the union rep, also have the right to be put on the actual meeting agenda to be seen and heard in the decision-making process.

so, they didn't fire everybody in person and in public to be showy, they did it because the union probably tried to force their hand by getting on the meeting (not consent) agenda.
posted by toodleydoodley at 1:07 PM on February 24, 2010


What Teachers Make, or
Objection Overruled, or
If things don't work out, you can always go to law school

By Taylor Mali
www.taylormali.com

He says the problem with teachers is, "What's a kid going to learn
from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher?"
He reminds the other dinner guests that it's true what they say about
teachers:
Those who can, do; those who can't, teach.

I decide to bite my tongue instead of his
and resist the temptation to remind the other dinner guests
that it's also true what they say about lawyers.

Because we're eating, after all, and this is polite company.

"I mean, you¹re a teacher, Taylor," he says.
"Be honest. What do you make?"

And I wish he hadn't done that
(asked me to be honest)
because, you see, I have a policy
about honesty and ass-kicking:
if you ask for it, I have to let you have it.

You want to know what I make?

I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.
I can make a C+ feel like a Congressional medal of honor
and an A- feel like a slap in the face.
How dare you waste my time with anything less than your very best.

I make kids sit through 40 minutes of study hall
in absolute silence. No, you may not work in groups.
No, you may not ask a question.
Why won't I let you get a drink of water?
Because you're not thirsty, you're bored, that's why.

I make parents tremble in fear when I call home:
I hope I haven't called at a bad time,
I just wanted to talk to you about something Billy said today.
Billy said, "Leave the kid alone. I still cry sometimes, don't you?"
And it was the noblest act of courage I have ever seen.

I make parents see their children for who they are
and what they can be.

You want to know what I make?

I make kids wonder,
I make them question.
I make them criticize.
I make them apologize and mean it.
I make them write, write, write.
And then I make them read.
I make them spell definitely beautiful, definitely beautiful, definitely
beautiful
over and over and over again until they will never misspell
either one of those words again.
I make them show all their work in math.
And hide it on their final drafts in English.
I make them understand that if you got this (brains)
then you follow this (heart) and if someone ever tries to judge you
by what you make, you give them this (the finger).

Let me break it down for you, so you know what I say is true:
I make a goddamn difference! What about you?

posted by beelzbubba at 1:10 PM on February 24, 2010 [8 favorites]


It seems like there's a real big split between people who are friends with or related to teachers and people who just don't get it.

Wow, talk about a false dichotomy.
posted by madajb at 1:10 PM on February 24, 2010


tl;dr - Make all education funding primarily Federal, bring back tracking if it has been abolished.

oh, by all means, bring back tracking. that was a great way of making sure all non-white and lower SES students, regardless of actual ability and potential, were instantly and as a matter of policy, railroaded onto the vocational track, rather than spend a little time bringing them up to speed with their peers and then seeing what they were really capable of.

because you know, you gotta have workers.
posted by toodleydoodley at 1:10 PM on February 24, 2010


Superintendents and consultants.

This x 30.

One of the biggest issues with this whole discussion (and I personally take responsibility for the teacher pay digression) is more to do with where these standards are coming from.

The Fed and State governments spend billions and billions of dollars to send non-teachers and former school administrators who decided to get into politics to each of the state offices to come up with the standards and figure out what is going to be expected from the students... and this certainly does not have a sliding scale.

What is expected of the schools in Bed Stuy is what's expected in Oyster Bay. The states turn around and dangle the funding in front of BOEs like a carrot in front of an unconscious turtle.

This is what sets up situations like the above... however, the worst thing a teachers union could do is say "These expectations are beyond what we can deliver with these students. If you are going to change the game plan, you need to pay us X and we will not meet you halfway." The union forgets the BOE and the superintendents have budget expectations that, if aren't met, mean their jobs. In summary, the teachers said "You or us," and they made the mistake of saying that to the ones holding the gun.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 1:13 PM on February 24, 2010


so, they didn't fire everybody in person and in public to be showy, they did it because the union probably tried to force their hand by getting on the meeting (not consent) agenda.

Interesting.
Thanks for the insight.
posted by madajb at 1:13 PM on February 24, 2010


The states turn around and dangle the funding in front of BOEs like a carrot in front of an unconscious turtle.

In my state, at least, the school districts have no funding[1] of their own. It all comes from the State or Federal governments.

Changing this scenario would be all but impossible.

[1] Well, technically, they can have a special taxing district, but we're talking pennies on the dollar.
posted by madajb at 1:17 PM on February 24, 2010


I know it's been hashed over but I grew up surrounded by teachers in my family mostly in urban areas. One of these teachers when asked about teaching in a city summed it up this way(paraphrased)

"Most of the suburbs when winter or spring break is coming up the kids get crazy. They are excited because they are going away or they have a week off to sit on the couch, play video games, sleep in, play the sport that their parent drives them to. Some go away on vacation whatever they are amped that school is ending.

In my city the kids get kind of quiet and depressed. Primarily because they aren't really sure how they are going to eat that week because they get almost all of their meals at school. They will be hungry for the majority of the week."

That's just one issue with teaching in tougher cities. The others as have been touched on are the violence towards one another, the violence towards teachers, the psychological issues that aren't treated, the learning disabilities that you don't have resources for, homelessness, drug addicted parents/siblings, violence at home etc etc etc. All in one classroom all in a days work. Teachers are all expected to somehow get past all of these problems AND teach the class up to the state mandates.

Now they want them to do more.

I am gonna borrow somoene elses little phrase here:

So.Fuck.THAT.....PAY Them!

I don't teach. I have another job. I have calculated the value of my time. If someone wants me for that time then they have to pay me. If they want me for extra time beyond what they calculated then there is an additional charge. This is after all a capitalist society. If someone told me "Oh but I told you what you were getting yourself into, you knew we would suddenly ask you to do more work for no extra pay duh, it comes with the territory" FUCK.That....PAY ME!

Teachers aren't just in it for the feel goods. They are in it because they like it AND because they want to make money.
posted by WickedPissah at 1:20 PM on February 24, 2010


drowsy - on rereading, I'm sorry to assume the worst. instead, I'm going to assume that tracking doesn't mean what you think it means.

in the old school sense, tracking means that when they assess you on intake, if you don't know your numbers or your colors or don't speak english well, you're going to be put into a remedial class with a less rigorous curriculum.

as a result, you're never going to leave remedial, even if you're smart and your only deficiency is actual learning experience. a student who could have been a math professor, happily and brilliantly, could end up an accounts payable clerk, bored and frustrated.

not that there's anything wrong with AP clerks, except if you have the ability to be something else, but you never found out because your state or district's placement policy is run by lazy, racist, classist, sucky-ass losers.
posted by toodleydoodley at 1:25 PM on February 24, 2010


So, people who take on the difficult or impossible task of educating the poor are again punished.
Here's a experiment I'd love to see:

Move all these 'bad' teachers to a good school. All of 'em.
More the teachers from that good school to this one. Let's see what happens.

I bet I can make a pretty good guess.
posted by cccorlew at 1:27 PM on February 24, 2010 [7 favorites]


http://www.amarillo.com/stories/072008/new_news12.shtml

The Amarillo super no longer gets a car, he used to.


Well, you were mistaken. If he got an automotive allowance, that's quite a bit different. He doesn't get an actual car, he's just given money to cover mileage. This is somewhat uncommon but not unheard of (although $350 is unheard of, I'm baffled), and it isn't exclusive to superintendents. Some teachers get this, and many bus garage administrators do as they are expected to travel quite a bit.

An example of a teacher that got this, thanks to her teacher's union... she was relocated to another elementary school in the district. The school offered her the option of paying for her moving expenses and a relocation allowance ($200 a month if her house was on the market 30+ days) or automotive allowance for mileage and wear/tear on her car. She took the latter.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 1:27 PM on February 24, 2010


@toodleydoodley,

Maybe I set myself up for that, but given what I posted I don't think so. I probably have one kid who will be 'gifted' and one who will be a challenge to that one teacher who has to teach many subjects to a wide variety of kids.

And I do not think that it is humanly possible for one person to handle all of that. I may be in need of an alternative idea, but it hardly seems a matter of spending 'a little time bringing them up to speed with their peers.' That's a cruel joke.

Maybe tracking is too loaded a term, or I'm using it incorrectly. 35 years ago, I could go to the grade above for reading class and get remedial help for math. I was still very much a part of my class, and no one thought it was so bad. I didn't have to re-read books I inhaled in the hall before class began, and I got to ask questions that maybe 'smart' kids wouldn't ask in a math class I would have been buried in.

Also, while we're at it: I do not support Dickensian grouping of kids to 'doom' them to spanner wielding vs. book learning. But I think we have gone too far the other way. I have seen a huge decline in 'voke' training that belies another bias: 'work' is for other people, we should all be lawyers and salespersons, and rack up huge debt on the way to see if we like it.

Just an ancdote, but my best friend went to college because it just seemed like the next step to take. He hated it. He dropped out and became an electrician's helper humping wire nuts. Now he is an engineer: As an adult he went back to college to learn physics, logic, robotics. He takes work trips to visit assembly lines in Europe and makes more moo than I ever will.

...and the voke kids got to smoke in the schoolyard in the 70s.
posted by drowsy at 1:41 PM on February 24, 2010


I don't have time to read all the comments - but if you want a the local liberal, pro labor blog perspective on this.
posted by quodlibet at 1:41 PM on February 24, 2010


@ toodleydoodley

Real thanks for your update. I need remedial Preview class. Cheers.
posted by drowsy at 1:45 PM on February 24, 2010


(And how the f*ck are so many prominent people in America unable to understand that good, well-supported teachers are just as important for a safe, prosperous nation as good, well-supported soldiers?)

Our soldiers aren't well supported either, in fact, if theirs anyone who's getting screwed worse than teachers, it's probably soldiers. They make very little money, have just about the worst working conditions you can imagine and are not well supported if they are injured.
posted by doctor_negative at 1:52 PM on February 24, 2010


We support our bankers very well, however.
posted by codacorolla at 1:54 PM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have to chime in regarding the pay teachers get.

I left a 6 figure income to teach for peanuts. It was right after 9/11 and I was feeling like I wanted to give back to my community.

I went to the most challenged school in the district. What drove me out of teaching wasn't the terrible money, although that certainly made it easy to leave it, it was the incredbly hard work and the incredibly small amount of simple respect given to teachers.

The parents just thought of me as their baby-sitter. People I used to work in Corporate America with, shook their heads in pity at my new career path. The kids thought I was some kind of sucker for being their teacher and gave me no respect at all. Aparently I was supposed to entertain them and let them have fun. The nerve of me to expect them to sit still, be quiet, participate appropriately and do their work.

I left the profession when my blood pressure got up to 180/110. Pretty much had to or I was going to die.

What you see on TV (unless it's The Wire) and in Movies is a crock. Kids aren't just starving for an understanding soul, by the time they are 14 they are who they are. No it wasn't all bad. There were some incredibly rewarding moments in my short career. I still have a folder of little letters kids gave me at the end of class. I also have some great art work and work product from the kids, to remind me that even as they fought me tooth and nail, that I got through to them.

So no, people who teach don't expect to get rich. I don't think it's too much to ask though, that a professional be paid what a professional is worth.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:01 PM on February 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Bathtub Bobsled automotive allowance, ... is somewhat uncommon but not unheard of (although $350 is unheard of, I'm baffled).

It isn't, as you claim, uncommon, and an allowance is not that different from providing or leasing a car outright, the main difference is that the local rag can't claim that the school is paying for a BMW for the supers. Which is the sort of wagon the local supers seem to prefer. No teacher in the district gets this benefit, and no teacher that I have heard of.

How about evidence with links from 2009? Here's my summary:

For the a local school district near me that I am familiar with, the average pay for the 30 superintendents is a mere $191,332 and nearly all of them receive a generous allowance for travel. For example, 3 get cars, at least 5 get $600 dollars a month, and many get around $400, which is a little bit more than the "unheard" of $350. In fact, many of them even get their professional membership dues back, which is as high as 9,700 a year, and many as high as 4000.

And the PDF is here.
posted by zenon at 2:12 PM on February 24, 2010


you think $90/hr is an appropriate salary?

For the 1 millionth time, they weren't asking for a $90/hr salary. They were negotiating pay for overtime tasks that the school was demanding they accomplish.

Failure to read and absorb information before posting is not helping your arguments.

Yeah sorry, I forgot that was just overtime, not salary. That is still a very large amount of money that will only compound the problems for a school with funding problems.

Thank you for reminding me for the millionth time though. What would we do without your rantings.


Someone pointing out a gigantic factual inaccuracy at the core of your argument is not ranting. They are whipping you in the argument.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:33 PM on February 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


To refer to zenon above...

I guess my confusion is that most of my experience is teachers/administrators who work in New York State. In NYS the bean counters critique every item on a budget, so a car allowance in the figures that have been indicated, for lack of a better phrase, blow me away. The one thing I would be interested to see is what the cost of living in those areas are and if the superintendents received those allowances as a trade off for what the school would have paid to relocate the administrator.

If you are looking for references see this. You'll note the salaries deviate drastically, as the cost of living in New York state can very a shitload depending on where you are in the same county.

For something typical, here's your link. You'll note the $5000 yearly automobile allowance. $415 a month did not sit well with the locals and it would have put him above what most school districts in the state pay for that. If the school does provide this for the Superintendent, they have to have a monthly log of his typical travel and the amount would be calculated using this.

Once again, this is New York State. I'm sure there are Superintendents who drool when they see your link.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 2:35 PM on February 24, 2010


Depending on the school district and the cost of living there. We've gone over this.

He used your volunteer rate. So when you say "we've gone over this," what you clearly mean is that everyone else in the thread has, but either you haven't done it, or it hasn't sunk in yet.
anyone with a master's degree working 40 hour weeks in any other professional position will be making between two and six times as much as you do,
And they are most likely working more than 190 days a year.


Assuming that you're correct, and that teachers don't work beyond the number of instructional days in a school year (which is a debatable assumption, we're probably talking an additional 10-20 days, but we'll run with the average number of instructional days for the purposes of argument), and assuming that said professional works 50 weeks out of the year for around 260 days, we've got about 70 days of additional employment for said professional.

Further assuming that the relevant number here is essentially salary/workdays per year, what fraction does our public school teacher make of the professional position whose salary is 2-6 times greater?

You don't really have to go through the whole problem to get that unless the number of days the teacher works is half or less than the professional making twice as much, the teacher is effectively being paid less. That would be 130 days. We're 60 days off that. That's a pretty significant difference.

But let's do the math, since you're volunteering to teach it. Let S be the salary of the public school teacher, R be the fraction we're looking for, M the multiple of the professional salary over the teacher salary. So we can write the equation:

S/190 = R*M*S/260

or

26/(19*M) = R

At M ~ 4/3, the two are paid equally. At M=2, the teacher is effectively paid 33% less. At M=6, the teacher is paid more than 75% less. Even when you account for days worked.
posted by weston at 2:39 PM on February 24, 2010


Ok... ready?

No, seriously... are you ready for this?

The median salary in Central Falls is around $78,000!!


$78,000!

That's the damn MEDIAN SALARY. They're getting paid $78,000 and they have a graduation rate of... what now?

Did everyone see that?

Not to mention the fact they will be rehiring much of that work force. The program the school board is enacting will allow these teachers to get first dibs on the jobs they lost. The school board said they will hire no more than 50% of the workforce, so half of these people may have $78,000 jobs next year? SERIOUSLY? $78,000 to live in an area where the median income is around $23k. That must be nice.

Maybe this is why the state's education commissioner signed off on the proposal.

So.FUCK.YOURSELVES.

So where are those arguments upstream about teachers only making $23-30k? Seriously.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 2:53 PM on February 24, 2010


The problem is that you don't need a masters to become a teacher, nor has anyone supported the 2-6 times number with actual data. A quick googling (1, 2, 3) suggests that it's something more along the lines of 1-1.5.
posted by electroboy at 3:02 PM on February 24, 2010


The median salary in Central Falls is around $78,000!!
$78,000!
That's the damn MEDIAN SALARY. They're getting paid $78,000 and they have a graduation rate of... what now?


??? According to that page (granted, you have to dig a little), the public school payroll was $29,674,624.00, and there were 792 employees. That's an average salary of $37,467.96.

That's not outrageous, no matter where you live, IMO.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 3:06 PM on February 24, 2010




Ok... ready?

No, seriously... are you ready for this?

The median salary in Central Falls is around $78,000!!


$78,000!

That's the damn MEDIAN SALARY. They're getting paid $78,000 and they have a graduation rate of... what now?

Did everyone see that?

Not to mention the fact they will be rehiring much of that work force. The program the school board is enacting will allow these teachers to get first dibs on the jobs they lost. The school board said they will hire no more than 50% of the workforce, so half of these people may have $78,000 jobs next year? SERIOUSLY? $78,000 to live in an area where the median income is around $23k. That must be nice.

Maybe this is why the state's education commissioner signed off on the proposal.

So.FUCK.YOURSELVES.

So where are those arguments upstream about teachers only making $23-30k? Seriously.


That article does not say what you says it does. Where is the $78,000 figure? I see nothing of the sort.

The figures include administrators and teachers who are paid "overages" because the school district refuses to hire more teachers and teachers who have to teach more students get paid extra.

Also, please do not tell people to "go fuck themselves." That's not nice.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:06 PM on February 24, 2010


"With a 45% graduation rate, these "teachers" are getting paid to do nothing. I don't blame them for the obvious and total failure of the parents in the district, but really if they had any self-respect at all they'd have already quit."

Or (and more likely) they are getting very little to work their asses off to help those kids with the most promise do the best they can and graduate while simultaneously getting blamed for all the failures that they just can't help because those kids get no support at home and aren't prepared for the education they're attempting to give them.
Like it or not, even in education you have to triage. I think somebody sitting outside the situation and putting blame on the people who are most likely to be doing all they can, while holding them up to some kind of non-related "productivity" standard is definitely not going to help.
I wish to God this country would stop treating schools as factories with quotas to meet and start seeing them as places in which people (or at least significant parts of them) are formed.
posted by kaiseki at 3:13 PM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Top 100 Highest Paid Public Employees in Rhode Island. There's some weird stuff in there. The mayor of providence makes less than his chief of operations and the superintendant of schools, there are beat cops and firefighters making >$100k in overtime + salary. Maybe the answer is that Rhode Island is just fucked up.
posted by electroboy at 3:21 PM on February 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


i don't understand how this Duncan guy can seem to be so oblivious to the realities OUTSIDE of school that affect how students do IN school.

because the only thing teachers can control is what happens inside their classrooms. to speak to your sleepy kid example, I know a teacher who had a student who kept falling asleep. he was a good behavior kid over all, so she let him sit near the door and gave him permission, when he felt sleepy, to slip out into the hallway and skip up and down a few times until the exercise woke him up. then he'd come back in and get to work.

teaching is hard. but you have opportunities for creativity.
posted by toodleydoodley at 3:25 PM on February 24, 2010


@ toodleydoodley

Real thanks for your update. I need remedial Preview class. Cheers.


@ drowsy

let's have a beer ;-)
posted by toodleydoodley at 3:30 PM on February 24, 2010


Calcutt Middle School gym teacher Anthony Ficocelli, who grossed $95,526.89,

That must be one hell of a gym class!
posted by madajb at 3:33 PM on February 24, 2010


That article does not say what you says it does. Where is the $78,000 figure? I see nothing of the sort.

Probably because I linked to the wrong article. THIS is the correct article.

And there it is. Halfway down.

K?

Look at what they were getting paid... and they wanted $90 every hour they worked after that?

I'll agree the "Fuck Yourselves" is harsh, but I was getting a little frustrated when every post responding to mine was followed with a snarky shut-up-you-don't-have-all-the-facts with 20 favorites. Well, here's a fact everyone managed to overlook.

*bows*
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 3:44 PM on February 24, 2010


I have never dropped so many flags in a thread.
posted by Decimask at 4:01 PM on February 24, 2010


But I am beyond sick of the idolization of the Martyr Teacher, because it sets a completely unrealistic standard and devalues their professionalism by acting as if they are *selfish* for wanting to be paid decently for the work they do.

I just want to add that in virtually every other industrialized country, and quite a few that aren't so industrialized, teachers are paid a comfortable, living wage. I teach in Japan, and teachers in particular are treated with, at times, embarrassing (to me) reverence, especially among the older generation. But if you look at (most?) other countries, you'll see that you don't have the need for teacher's unions fighting for a living wage for teachers, paying a living wage--even a comfortable one--is par for the course.

I think a big part of the problem is the lopsided and relatively short school year in America. I tell teachers and students here in Tokyo that the American summer break is as long as three months and watch them pick their jaws off the floor. (Japanese summer break is 6 weeks, but for students those weeks are spent studying--kids don't move to the next grade in the fall like the U.S.; they have the same class when the get back with LOTS of homework due. And teachers are likewise busy much of that break, with maybe a three-week vacation at best.)

America's long summer school break has roots in the the 18th and 19th century when every other person was a farmer and kids were needed in the summer months to help on the farm. We're way past that point but still hold onto this model. It's time to change it.

U.S. schools need to adopt a longer school year. Namely, close the damn huge gap that summer creates. A month is a damn long time, why not August as a break, and that's it. Teachers can then earn a much more comfortable wage and students will be given that much more class time. One of the first things I noticed as a teacher was that there often isn't enough time to teach what you have to teach, much less what you want to teach on top of that. Lengthening the school year isn't an new idea, but I think it would go a long way towards solving the problems at this R.I. school.
posted by zardoz at 4:18 PM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow, Bobsled, an unattributed and unbacked up range of averages is supposed to prove something? I got more from the first article that you linked which shows that over $200K was spent in overages made necessary by (take your pick) underfunding school mandates OR mismanagement by administrators. OK, that shouldn't be a binary, but it looks neater that way. And Ms. Gallo says that so far this year they are on ace to spend more than $360K on overages.

Those overages are paid for every student over Nn=30 that they cram into a classroom. The gym teacher cited in article 1 had over 1100 student overages in 2007. Enough for 34 more classrooms at 30 per. My student load was 24 at one school and 27 at another. The state--I'm guessing--set the number at 30. I'm not sure where you can draw the #/students:teacher effectiveness curve. Somewhere above 5:1 and surely below 30:1. Being underfunded and/or overpopulated they shoehorn more students into the CF classrooms--and then are shocked, as you seem to be, that the graduation rate is below 50%? I'm surprised there aren't more stories of open warfare at this school--the system clearly does not provide for authentic student teacher interaction. And Gallo's solution--or one of them according to other ProJo articles--is to have teachers take students to lunch? On whose dime?

I know you feel picked on and that's not my point. My point is that these teachers are asking the ridiculous in response to the ridiculous. They both need to dial it down a notch, but from what I see, it is the teachers' necks on the line while the Supe issues ukases.
posted by beelzbubba at 4:31 PM on February 24, 2010


paying a living wage--even a comfortable one--is par for the course.

According to the NEA, the average public school teacher salary was ~$52,000 in '07-'08[1], with the high state average being around ~$64,000 and the low being around ~$36k.

You could certainly make an argument (and some here have) that the average should be higher, but to imply that the average school teacher in the U.S. isn't making a living wage is exaggerating the issue.

[1] ~$54,000 in '08-'09.
posted by madajb at 4:56 PM on February 24, 2010


My point is that these teachers are asking the ridiculous in response to the ridiculous.

I guess that's the middle ground much of this thread wasn't finding. I take just as much responsibility as everyone else, I just happen to have received more flags than favs as my position didn't fall into the "powers that be = bad" stance we usually prefer here. Things were leaning in one direction so far, a small number of us felt forced to lean further in the other direction.

My original point, and the one I found myself veering from thanks to the backhanded snark, was these teachers refused to budge. Sure, they had it tough, but so did the administration. Think its hard to control a classroom? Try balancing a budget when you have virtually no local tax help and most of your student population is already on free/reduced lunch.* Teachers complain about the tighter restrictions and the nature in which states just throw money at a problem rather than fixing it... then turn around and demand $90 an hour? I think its ridiculous all around, and to pat one side on the back while waving the finger at the other is careless.

There can be a compromise, but not when you have two sides that are certain the other "just doesn't get it." The teachers were fed up, the administrators were fed up, and the board of education was fed up.

Perhaps I was being a bit tough on the teachers, but I think some were being too easy on them. But you know who's getting off really easy, right now? The only ones we really haven't heard much of in this story...

The parents. Why aren't they the ones getting fired?

*This refers to your "on who's dime" statement. Judging by the numbers, its already on the school district's dime.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 5:08 PM on February 24, 2010


I call bullshit on the $78,000 figure.

The contract between the union and the school district is here. The highest salary - the 10th step - is $71,883 for 2009-2010. Having a master's or PhD gets you a few thousand more - not enough to get to $78,000.

For us to believe that the average teacher's salary is over $72,000, we'd have to believe that every single teacher in the school has 10+ years of experience. But the Superintendent didn't say "all", she said "most." Even a few new teachers would pull the average down quite a bit - and I've never seen a school that didn't have a few newbies.

It's also hard to reconcile that average of $72K - $78K with the Municipal Payrolls map, as Benny Andajetz mentioned above. Some of that is certainly due to non-teaching positions, but it would require us to believe that at the other schools in the district there are very few teachers with 10+ years of experience.

And the overages don't make up that kind of difference, either - the figure the Superintendent gives for overages is not large enough to push the average salary that high - even if all of the overages occurred at the high school (which they didn't).

I think it's far more likely that the Superintendent said something like, "you know, a lot of these teachers are making $72,000 to $78,000 per year, because a lot of them are on the top step" - and it got reported as the average figure.

I will leave aside the fact that the quote in the article says average and gives a range, and that Bathtub Bobsled picked the high end of the range and called it a median. That smacks to me of walking in with a preconceived notion, and cherry-picking and slanting evidence to support that notion.
posted by Chanther at 5:08 PM on February 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


The problem is that you don't need a masters to become a teacher, nor has anyone supported the 2-6 times number with actual data. A quick googling (1, 2, 3) suggests that it's something more along the lines of 1-1.5.

You're looking at scientific and other technical fields rather than professional fields.

And if our main priority when it comes to teachers is to make sure they're not paid more than people working in fields with similar educational/training requirements, what with all that vacation they've got, then, yeah, we can make sure we operate at rough parity.

Of course, if your priority is to attract talented, hardworking individuals who are both personally engaging and have significant domain knowledge, well, parity with the average graduate salary might not be your goal, because these people have all kinds of options.

Good teachers are probably worth compensating well above the median salary. The question is really how you can spot good performance (rewarding/keeping teachers who have it, and training those who don't), and assessment is hard because this is the place where it's really tough to get a grip on all the variables. A 45% graduation rate clearly isn't good, but unless you're telling me that the statistics for who graduates and who doesn't skew noticeably between students of particular groups of teachers, I don't think we have a viable assessment here. And that level of a number just screams "systemic problems" rather than classroom problems.

Look at what they were getting paid... and they wanted $90 every hour they worked after that?

Assuming 6.5 instruction hours for 190 instruction days, we're talking about compensation for $76k at hourly rates is about $60/hr. So $90/hr would be more or less time-and-a-half. $30/hr is half-time. If someone came to me offering additional work hours at half compensation, I might well come back with a demand for time-and-a-half just to make sure we get back to break-even when the negotiation is done.

Of course, as others have pointed out, the sourcing of the $76k figure is a bit sketchy. I didn't find Benny Andajetz' numbers but his math is right, and this chart shows a district budget of about $192 million for around 4000 employees, yielding an average yearly of ~ $48k. Three possibilities: the district carries a substantial non-teacher low-paid employee load, Central Falls teachers get a lot more money, or the $76k figure isn't correct. Anyone know where it comes from?
posted by weston at 5:18 PM on February 24, 2010


Honestly, I don't see why everyone complains about teachers getting more leave. My wife works longer hours than me, is paid less than me, and her 2.5 months of leave MUST be taken in the summer. I would much rather have 3 weeks that I can take at any time, and a job that doesn't require me to do an absurd amount of marking and planning during my own hours.
posted by sid at 5:27 PM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


the town is massively under-represented in the state legislature and sneered at by the anti-immigrant Republican governor. -posted by Slap*Happy

Whoa. He's anti-ILLEGAL-immigrant Republican governor. Way to spin, buddy.
posted by CarlRossi at 6:06 PM on February 24, 2010


Ole Bobsled seems to be numerically illiterate as well as having problems with reading comprehension. First he rags on and on about $90/hr salaries, unable to recognize the fact that it is overtime they were talking about.

Then he says $78,000 is the median salary when the article clearly said the average salary was in the range from $72,000 to $78,000. Bobsled manages to cram two inaccuracies into one short sentence. Then he goes on to say that this means 50% of these people earn $78,000. Apparently Bobsled is ignorant of the difference between mean and median.

(Note, when a management official says the average is a range, you know they are lying. An average can't be a range).

Management always will use average instead of median to get a rise out of people because the average is almost always skewed from the median because of a relatively few higher paid individuals.

I'm guessing the $72K-$78K figure is a number that includes all benefits including health and retirement. This is another management trick because whenever people compare base salaries, they don't include benefits. These are two of the oldest management tricks in the book -- quoting average instead of median, and using total cost instead of base salary -- because it distorts the public's view of salaries. They actually hire union busting consultants that teach them this stuff.
posted by JackFlash at 6:07 PM on February 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


Whoa. He's anti-ILLEGAL-immigrant Republican governor. Way to spin, buddy.

No, the Carcieri's are anti-immigrant. He's also incredibly anti-Native American, too, but that's even more off the topic.

Carcieri said he did not think the state should employ translators to assist people seeking government benefits. Carcieri later laid off three Asian-langauge interpreters. When a group of teenagers criticized his decision as racist, Carcieri's wife compared the critics to suicide bombers in comments to a newspaper columnist.

The teenagers, mind, were here legally.
posted by Ruki at 6:57 PM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


You're looking at scientific and other technical fields rather than professional fields.

It's clear you didn't read any of the sources I linked to, because the first three entries of two of the entries are bachelor's vs. masters in art, accounting and biochem. The article you linked to is about scientists in academia, which isn't really relevant to a discussion about public school teachers.
posted by electroboy at 7:58 PM on February 24, 2010


what a bunch of fucking trolls in this thread.
posted by HuronBob at 8:12 PM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I highly recommend this reddit thread in which a R.I. teacher gives his (her?) view of things. Very interesting.
posted by zardoz at 8:35 PM on February 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


How to Solve Illegal Immigration.
posted by ovvl at 8:37 PM on February 24, 2010


...her 2.5 months of leave MUST be taken in the summer. I would much rather have 3 weeks that I can take at any time...

There are a lot more pressing issues for teachers than this, but I find this to be supremely annoying. I get my summer break mere days after the airline rates more than double for summer fares. The crowds, the lines, the expense--I'd love to be able to take a vacation when it's not crowded; I haven't been able to for years. Of course it's not just teachers with this problem, but it's no less annoying.
posted by zardoz at 9:49 PM on February 24, 2010


I think this is a bad thing being done to teachers who are already in a bad situation by administrators who are in a bad situation at the expense of some students who are in a really, really bad situation and most of the comments (both on the "WHAT NINETY DOLLARS AN HOUR PFAW ILL TUTOR A KID FOR TWENTY" variety and the more considered, reasonable-sounding pro-union variety) are probably oversimplifying a very complex thing. The testimonials from actual inner-city teachers are very enlightening and depressing, though.
posted by tehloki at 3:18 AM on February 25, 2010


her 2.5 months of leave MUST be taken in the summer. I would much rather have 3 weeks that I can take at any time...

You know, if you just went to a 9 weeks on/3 weeks off, year round schedule, you'd kill two birds with one stone.

The first is that you don't have a huge gap where you have to re-teach for two months just to get the kids up to where they were before they went on break. So your actual classroom time is way more productive.

The second is that you can stretch the average facility to an additional 1/4, because if you put the kids on tracks, where some are on leave while others are in class, then you don't have a building that is bursting at the seams for 9 months and empty for 3. A by-product of this is that you can give teachers an opportunity to teach more days and earn more pay, all with the same benefits package.

I went to year-round school when I was a kid and it was pretty great. My parents loved it because they could vacation with us when it was cheap to travel, not just in the middle of summer or at Christmas. We loved it because it was a good balance of on and off time. Instead of being bored out of our minds for three months, we generally had something interesting to do for three weeks, or we enjoyed playing cards and watching TV until school started again.

Another good thing about year-round school is that it provides a year-round income for the ancillary staff of the school, lunch-room workers, school-bus driveres, custodians, etc.

This also means that the kids served by the school have access to the USDA school breakfast and lunch program. They can come to school for remediation, hanging out at the library, volunteering to assist with cleaning the school, or any other type of program that allows them access to meals during their breaks.

If you really want to be radical, you could have an adult education or remediation program in the early morning, from 7 to 10, let's say. This could be for folks who are more mature, and who realize that they didn't get what they needed from school. GED training, ESL for new immigrants, or even vocational training.

You could start High School at 10, which is MUCH better for the kids. Teenagers are wired to stay up late and wake up late, they are night owls. They do much worse in their morning classes than they do in their afternoon classes and are chronically sleep deprived. Starting at 10 and going until 4 or 5 is much better for their brains, and again, you get more bang for your buck.

Of course this is all very logical and whenever suggested it makes people crazy. "My children LOVE summer vacation. I loved summer vacation, it's unAmerican to suggest that we make a change."
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:29 AM on February 25, 2010 [11 favorites]


ovvl I can explain how to virtually end illegal immegration in one sentence, no 15 minute youtube video required
Pass a law mandating long prison terms and large fines for the board of directors, owners, etc of any company that is found to have illegal immigrants as employees.
Illegal immigration would end almost overnight. Of course, then you'd have the new problem of jobs that need doing but Americans are largely unwilling to do going undone, but there'd be no more illegal immigration.

You may recall that, a decade or so ago, California actually started enforcing immigration laws in a systemic manner and deported all the illegals working (for sub-minimum wage) in the various vegetable fields. The growers were outraged, because now they had to pay minimum wage to American workers, and most American fieldworkers quit after just a few days because the work was too damn hard.

Joe Xenophobe probably really is afraid of the immigrants and really does want them out. The money behind the illegal immigration moral panic simply wants Joe Xenophobe's votes and to keep the illegals illegal so that they can continue to exploit their labor for less than minimum wage. The money people most certainly don't want to end illegal immigration, they like having a steady stream of completely powerless (and thus unable to unionize) labor that they can exploit and keep in debt peonage.

What we need is greater legal immigration. Personally I favor an open border policy, wanna be an American citizen? Pass a criminal background check, officially sever your citizenship in your former nation, swear an oath of allegiance to the Constitution, congrats you're an American, grab your voter's registration card and enjoy life in your new nation. The entire process should take a week at the absolute most.
posted by sotonohito at 6:30 AM on February 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


What a great comment, Ruthless Bunny.
posted by codacorolla at 9:45 AM on February 25, 2010


Individual teachers (almost) always want what's best for the kids. The union, however, is working entirely for the betterment of the teachers.

That's the purpose of a workers union. Not sure what you expected. It's not in their mission to deal with students, but that is the mission of the teachers themselves.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:50 AM on February 25, 2010


My original point, and the one I found myself veering from thanks to the backhanded snark, was these teachers refused to budge. Sure, they had it tough, but so did the administration.

Making the teachers out to be scapegoats is not doing anything to solve the problem. It may satisfy some personal issue you have with teachers, but it's not productive.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:09 AM on February 25, 2010


U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has taken notice.

“I applaud Commissioner Gist and Superintendent Gallo for showing courage and doing the right thing for kids,” Duncan said Tuesday night.


Ruthless Bunny keeps bringing up The Wire and I agree that watching it leaves you with no doubt that the problem is systemic and far beyond the control of the teachers. The teachers have very little power in the situation but are easily sacrificed. In the chess board analogy, they're pawns.

But the administrators aren't the king or the queen. A lot of discussion has focused on the superintendent and she certainly has more authority than the teachers, but the pressures superintendents face are pretty strong as well, and they are also easily fired (and more likely to be than any particular teacher).

You have to go a lot further up the food chain. The Secretary of Education applauds the firing of an entire school staff. He's the one who put the option in his "race to the top" plan in the first place. For all the criticism about NCLB, "race to the top" is like slash and burn. Still has the same overemphasis on testing and placing all of the responsibility on the pawns in the game.
posted by Danila at 2:11 PM on February 25, 2010


No, seriously... are you ready for this?

The median salary in Central Falls is around $78,000!!


$78,000!

That's the damn MEDIAN SALARY. They're getting paid $78,000 and they have a graduation rate of... what now?

Did everyone see that?

Not to mention the fact they will be rehiring much of that work force. The program the school board is enacting will allow these teachers to get first dibs on the jobs they lost. The school board said they will hire no more than 50% of the workforce, so half of these people may have $78,000 jobs next year? SERIOUSLY? $78,000 to live in an area where the median income is around $23k. That must be nice.

Maybe this is why the state's education commissioner signed off on the proposal.

So.FUCK.YOURSELVES.


You should be cooling your heels for a few weeks after that little tirade. Please don't do that here.
posted by caddis at 4:02 PM on February 27, 2010


Obama says he supports Central Falls firings.
posted by lunit at 1:41 PM on March 1, 2010


Damn. Was Obama's PR/polster person asleep or something? Nevermind right or wrong, for a Democrat to go against teachers and most especially teacher's unions that way is just plain nuts. Teachers and their unions are some of the strongest Democrats you'll find, and Obama just pissed them off for no real reason.

I swear it's like he's trying to lose in 2010 and 2012....
posted by sotonohito at 2:27 PM on March 1, 2010


So Obama has come out strongly in support of the firings (something I was trying to highlight before, it's not the superintendent to blame here). Bush never called for anything so drastic in all the years of NCLB. I know NCLB is pretty much hated by everyone. Well Obama's plan, Race To The Top (RTTP), has everything NCLB has plus more.

I seriously don't get it. In this instance, Obama is so far over that, as sotonohito pointed out, he is going against one of the largest parts of his base on a major issue. Why? Were the unions expecting this? I find it rather surprising and interesting.
posted by Danila at 9:18 PM on March 1, 2010


Danila Either he's playing some sort of deep game, or he's decided that he can buy the support of a larger faction by pissing off the teacher's unions, or his team was just asleep on the job.

Or, perhaps, he really does believe in a principled way that teachers unions are harmful and must be smashed regardless of the political price.

None of those make much sense to me. The "buying the support of a bigger group" explanation is nonsensical. All the people who really despise teachers unions hate Obama and the very word Democrat with a burning passion and are, therefore, impossible to buy off by pissing off the teachers.

I don't see how pissing off a major part of his base makes sense in any deep game. Maybe I'm just not smart enough, but I'm not seeing any sense there.

I think the most likely explanation is that Obama let his mouth run away with him, it happens to all of us from time to time, and his PR people are either incompetent or lazy.

Either way he's suffered a major blow to his support among teachers, and unless he does something to fix it he will suffer for it in the elections. I doubt the teacher's unions will endorse any Republicans, but he'll lose their enthusiasm and he desperately needs his base to be fired up to have any hope of salvaging 2010.

Which is one reason I still don't get his apparent apathy on a public option. It's wildly popular (70% support nationwide), his base loves it, the only people who really hate the idea are die hard Republicans who wouldn't vote Democrat if Jesus Christ ran as one, and it'd make up for a lot of the enthusiasm drain he's created. Even if he fought for it and lost it'd fire up the base.

So far he seems hellbent on killing any enthusiasm he once produced, and I'm utterly baffled as to why that is. Either he's playing a very deep game, or he really is more devoted to "bipartisanship" than he is to winning in 2010 and 2012. Right now he looks set up to be a one termer, and I'm actually beginning to worry that the Democrats will lose the majority in 2010.
posted by sotonohito at 6:16 AM on March 2, 2010


"So far he seems hellbent on killing any enthusiasm he once produced, and I'm utterly baffled as to why that is."

Thanks for articulating exactly what I find confusing about this administration. Obviously the man has important work to do above and beyond merely generating enthusiasm, and that it can't always be a priority, but it really does seem as though he's actively trying to stamp out his existing popular support.

It seems like his priority in all things seems to be Primary Directive: Make Concessions, and to a layman like me it's impossible to fathom why.
posted by majick at 6:30 AM on March 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


sotonohito:
I think the most likely explanation is that Obama let his mouth run away with him, it happens to all of us from time to time, and his PR people are either incompetent or lazy.


I don't think Obama misspoke, although perhaps in the coming days he may try to temper his statements since he is a politician. But the option of firing the teachers is a core element of his administration's plan to improve the performance of the lowest performing schools (performance as measured by standardized test scores and graduation rates).

Arne Duncan, June 2009:

The first option is based on what we did in Chicago. We awarded planning grants in the fall so new principals and lead teachers could develop and adapt curriculum to better meet the needs of the students. During the spring, they begin recruiting teachers and they take over the school in June.

Under this model, the children stay and the staff leaves. Teachers can reapply for their jobs and some get rehired, but most go elsewhere. A few leave the profession, which is not all bad. Not everyone is cut out for teaching. Like every profession, people burn out. In our view, at least half of the staff and the leadership should be completely new if you really want a culture change, and that may very well be a requirement of the grants.


And now it is a requirement under the turnaround option.

This is similar to one of the options in NCLB's restructuring process for underperforming schools, but NCLB only required the replacement of "relevant" staff, and of course that didn't really work(PDF).

And of course not; firing a bunch of teachers does not address the problem. The performance of the schools is a reflection of the community and wider society around them. Disadvantaged minorities, non-native English speakers, and poor people are supposed to be on the bottom of the hierarchy because they "deserve" it: they're not smart enough, American enough, motivated enough to be better. They are expected to fail, encouraged to fail, prevented from succeeding, and whaddaya know they fail. And for all those who put everything on the parents, well, I think they are in the same position as their kids, or perhaps worse (because they've had decades of racism and classism inflicted upon them).

And it's not like "better performing schools" are producing a better caliber of person. You aren't of significantly better character just because you went to a fancy prep school. No, people are pretty much failing in all sorts of ways, whether its test scores, human decency, whatever.

The only way to change the schools is to change the society that makes them.

Perhaps this is due to the fact that I don't really follow politics and stake out their positions, but I had assumed that Obama would agree with all of that (I mean, The Wire is his favorite tv show and that's just the most minor reason I'd have assumed he'd agree). The (surprised?) reaction of his base seems to confirm this expectation. Thus I continue to try to understand this whole "fire all the teachers" thing.
posted by Danila at 9:29 AM on March 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


My second link should go to the first report here.
posted by Danila at 9:35 AM on March 2, 2010


Danila There's also the problem that a lot of "failing" schools are failing not due to incompetence on the part of the teachers, but because districts tend to dump all their failing students into one (or a small group) of schools.

Look at the stats on the Rhode Island school: 25% qualify for ESL. That means, automatically, 25% failure rate on the standardized testing before any other considerations are taken into account. Even the most superhumanly good and dedicated English teachers can't get someone who doesn't speak English to pass an English test. Worse, that 25% rate means that in all likelihood 50% actually needed ESL. ESL is expensive, unpopular with the bigots, etc. That means they put only the kids who can't speak English at all into ESL, and let the ones who can muddle through very simple sentences somehow twist in the wind.

Did the school district have to put all their ESL students into a single high school and thereby guarantee its failure? Of course not, they could have spread the load among all their schools. The idiots writing the laws could, as they bloody well should, exempt ESL students from the standardized testing. But they don't. Sometimes, in my more cynical moments, I think they want those schools to fail.

As for Obama, even if that is his plan he could do it quiet like, not standing up on national television and giving the finger to some of his staunchest supporters. The man seems to thrive on killing any and all enthusiasm among his voters. He could have let this go without presidential comment.
posted by sotonohito at 9:54 AM on March 2, 2010


Did the school district have to put all their ESL students into a single high school and thereby guarantee its failure? Of course not, they could have spread the load among all their schools.

My dad grew up in CF, and I was born and raised (and still live) in the next town over. There is only one high school there. There's nowhere else for ESL kids to go. The entire city is one square mile, and as mentioned above, is very densely populated. There's simply no space for another high school. Even if there was, the city lacks the resources to build another. Education funding in Central Falls comes entirely from the state. A proposed change in state funding would actually decrease funding by 25%.

The situation is fucked on many levels.
posted by Ruki at 9:31 PM on March 2, 2010


Ruki I just looked at a map. Central Falls isn't a separate city, its part of Providence. There is absolutely no reason why they can't ship some of the ESL students to other schools except, of course, that the others schools/pseudo-municipalities don't want 'em.

If Central Falls were sitting by itself out in the middle of nowhere I'd agree with your explanation, but since it basically is a neighborhood of Providence what it really means is "the people in other parts of Providence won't let the situation be fixed because they fear the poor/black/whatever kids coming to their schools".

The problem isn't that the teachers at CF are all incompetent, the problem is that Providence has shoved all of its ESL and other "problem" students into one school and they're using the teachers as scapegoats.
posted by sotonohito at 3:24 AM on March 3, 2010


Wait, what? What does Providence have to do with this?
posted by Ruki at 5:52 AM on March 3, 2010


Ruki This map shows what Providence has to do with it.

Central Falls is part of Providence, anyone looking at the map can tell that. Unless you want to claim that it's part of Pawtucket, but Pawtucket looks like part of Providence to me too.

As Danila observed, the problem isn't the Superintendent, or at least not just the Super, but rather pervasive all the way up to the state and federal level.

The poor people, the non-English speakers, are crammed into one place, that place is declared to be a "city" of its own, and therefore not anything the good people of Providence have to worry about, it's a Central Falls problem, not a Providence problem, let the poor foreign/black/whatever people take care of it on their own.

The same sort of thing is seen with East St. Louis, though on a grander and more overtly sinister scale. East St. Louis has the highest property tax, and the lowest tax revenues per capita, of any place in Missouri. Encysted in East St. Louis are literal company towns that contain all the industry, and all the money, and have official populations of less than 100 or so. Essentially each factory or industrial park is its own city, and thus doesn't pay taxes to support the people who work there. For decades the East St. Louis city government has petitioned the state of Missouri for permission to absorb the encysted townships and thus get enough tax revenue to fund schools, sewage, etc for the people who work (but are prevented from living) in the company towns. Every time it has come up the government of Missouri has denied the plan, usually for blatantly racist reasons. Result: East St. Louis is pretty much the third world, schools there are literally falling apart and often have no electricity, working plumbing, etc.

I see much the same thing, if on a lesser scale, happening here, and now the government has decided that any teacher with the temerity to try to educate the unworthy poor and black people will be punished for "incompetence" after trying to do an impossible job. All in the name of "helping" the students there.

This is a deliberate problem, it could be solved overnight by busing, since it is not solved in this simple and effective manner the only other conclusion that can be reached is that various people in positions of power want the problem to exist, or at least want the conditions that created the problem to exist.
posted by sotonohito at 7:07 AM on March 3, 2010


Central Falls is part of Providence, anyone looking at the map can tell that. Unless you want to claim that it's part of Pawtucket, but Pawtucket looks like part of Providence to me too.

Central Falls is not a part of Providence. It is a city unto itself located in Providence County.
posted by mpbx at 8:25 AM on March 3, 2010


And Pawtucket is its own city, too. Sotonohito, I see that you are from Texas, where things tend to be more spread out, but urban areas in the Northeast can be right up against one another and entirely independent from one another, especially in a state as small and dense as Rhode Island.
posted by mpbx at 8:27 AM on March 3, 2010


President Obama voiced support Monday for the mass firings of educators at a failing Rhode Island school, drawing an immediate rebuke from teachers union officials whose members have chafed at some of his education policies. ...

"If a school continues to fail its students year after year after year, if it doesn't show signs of improvement, then there's got to be a sense of accountability," he said. ...

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, whose union represents the faculty in Central Falls, one of the poorest districts in Rhode Island, responded forcefully to Obama's remarks.

"We know it is tempting for people in Washington to score political points by scapegoating teachers, but it does nothing to give our students and teachers the tools they need to succeed," she said in a joint statement with other union officials.

posted by Joe Beese at 9:02 AM on March 3, 2010


Central Falls is not a part of Providence. It is a city unto itself located in Providence County.
posted by mpbx at 8:25 AM on March 3 [+] [!]


And Pawtucket is its own city, too. Sotonohito, I see that you are from Texas, where things tend to be more spread out, but urban areas in the Northeast can be right up against one another and entirely independent from one another, especially in a state as small and dense as Rhode Island.
posted by mpbx at 8:27 AM on March 3 [+] [!]



I think Sotonohito is geographically challenged. He also put East St. Lous in Missouri, when it has been in Illinois for the whole of its existence, meaning that Missouri and St. Louis do not share political intentions or incentives with East SL.
posted by beelzbubba at 9:27 AM on March 6, 2010


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