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MERIT PAY

By marcus follow marcus   2011 Apr 1, 3:52am 6,478 views   53 comments   watch   nsfw   quote   share    


My dentist is great! He sends me reminders so I don't forget checkups. He uses the latest techniques based on research. He never hurts me, and I've got all my teeth, so when I ran into him the other day, I was eager to see if he'd heard about the new state program. I knew he'd think it was great.

"Did you hear about the new state program to measure effectiveness of dentists with their young patients?" I said. "No," he said. He didn't seem too thrilled. "How will they do that?" "It's quite simple," I said. "They will just count the number of cavities each patient has at age 10, 14, and 18 and average that to determine a dentist's rating. Dentists will be rated as Excellent, Good, Average, Below average, and Unsatisfactory. That way parents will know which are the best dentists. It will also encourage the less effective dentists to get better. Poor dentists who don't improve could lose their licenses to practice." "That's terrible," he said. "What? That's not a good attitude," I said. "Don't you think we should try to improve children's dental health in this state?" "Sure I do," he said, "but that's not a fair way to determine who is practicing good dentistry." "Why not?" I said. "It makes perfect sense to me." "Well, it's so obvious," he said. "Don't you see that dentists don't all work with the same clientele; so much depends on things we can't control? For example, I work in a rural area with a high percentage of patients from deprived homes, while some of my colleagues work in upper middle class neighborhoods. Many of the parents I work with don't bring their children see me until there is some problem and I don't get to do much preventive work. Also," he said, "many of the parents I serve let their kids eat way too much candy from an early age, unlike more educated parents who understand the relationship between sugar and decay. To top it all off, so many of my clients have well water which is untreated and has no fluoride in it. Do you have any idea how much difference early use of fluoride can make?" "It sounds like you're making excuses," I said. I couldn't believe my dentist would be so defensive. He does a great job. "I am not!" he said. "My best patients are as good as anyone's, my work is as good as anyone's, but my average cavity count is going higher than a lot of other dentists because I chose to work where I am needed most." "Don't get touchy," I said. "Touchy?" he said. His face had turned red and from the way he was clenching and unclenching his jaws, I was afraid he was going to damage his teeth. "Try furious. In a system like this, I will end up being rated average, below average, or worse. My more educated patients who see these ratings may believe this so-called rating actually is a measure of my ability and proficiency as a dentist. They may leave me, and I'll be left with only the most needy patients. And my cavity average score will get even worse. On top of that, how will I attract good dental hygienists and other excellent dentists to my practice if it is labeled below average?" "I think you are overreacting," I said. "Complaining, excuse making and stonewalling won't improve dental health... I am quoting from a leading member of the DOC," I noted. "What's the DOC?" he asked. "It's the Dental Oversight Committee," I said, "a group made up of mostly laypersons to make sure dentistry in this state gets improved." "Spare me," he said, "I can't believe this. Reasonable people won't buy it," he said hopefully.The program sounded reasonable to me, so I asked, "How else would you measure good dentistry?" "Come watch me work," he said. "Observe my processes." "That's too complicated and time consuming," I said. "Cavities are the bottom line, and you can't argue with the bottom line. It's an absolute measure." "That's what I'm afraid my parents and prospective patients will think. This can't be happening," he said despairingly. "Now, now," I said, "don't despair. The state will help you some." "How?" he said. "If you're rated poorly, they'll send a dentist who is rated excellent to help straighten you out," I said brightly. "You mean," he said, "they'll send a dentist with a wealthy clientele to show me how to work on severe juvenile dental problems with which I have probably had much more experience? Big help." "There you go again," I said. "You aren't acting professionally at all." "You don't get it," he said. "Doing this would be like grading schools and teachers on an average score on a test of children's progress without regard to influences outside the school, the home, the community served and stuff like that. Why would they do something so unfair to dentists? No one would ever think of doing that to schools." I just shook my head sadly, but he had brightened. "I'm going to write my representatives and senator," he said. "I'll use the school analogy - surely they will see the point." He walked off with that look of hope mixed with fear and suppressed anger that I see in the mirror so often lately.

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14   FortWayne   ignore (4)   2011 Apr 1, 9:53am     ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag        

A teacher can't force stupid students to learn. If parents don't get involved, there isn't much a teacher can do.

15   marcus   ignore (10)   2011 Apr 1, 11:27am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

justme says

Right on, Marcus. Is this your original writing? I like it.

Nope, it was shared via email, I didn't know who to credit.

16   marcus   ignore (10)   2011 Apr 1, 11:38am     ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag        

EightBall says

You are stuck with the good AND the bad and because there have been attempts to actually MAKE PEOPLE GET WHAT THEIR TAXES PAY FOR you are offended?

I'm not offended, I want to see it improved and I'm involved in reforms occurring at my school.
EightBall says

You are on the “inside” so you must know when to call a spade a spade but it is difficult to quantify it so let’s just not do anything?

"so let’s just not do anything" I certainly never said that. Teaching by definition is always trying to do better.

EightBall says

Not only that we will fight to make sure no one from the OUTSIDE interferes!

I think it's natural for us to think that we understand the problems better than those outside education. The people outside are either looking for a simple fix, or they are overly influenced by the propaganda from the right which wants to see private enterprise move in to education more.

EightBall says

Because gee…no one on the outside could possibly understand what the ivory tower teachers know

So the people on the front lines, actually interacting with and doing their very best teaching kids, are in an ivory tower ?

17   marcus   ignore (10)   2011 Apr 1, 11:47am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

sfbubblebuyer says

If you hit the bottom 5% on all lists, you’re canned before anybody else. If your cumulative evaluation puts you in the bottom 5%, you must be fired first if the school needs to cut teachers for budgetary reasons. If you’re in the bottom 5% cumulative, you MAY be fired anyway to make room for a new teacher.

This is insane. At most public schools, after about two years you would have removed the teachers that might deserve to be fired. After that, you have people not collaborating and trying so hard to not be in that bottom 5% that it would be counter productive.

I think many forget that most people aren't in teaching for the money. There is a motivation to do right by the kids, as difficult as that might be for you to fathom.

Fisk says

Rather than theorizing, why not look at the top US universities, which are still best in the world by far (unlike K-12 schools). They still have the tenure system, and those with tenure are not fired, even if in the bottom 5 or whatever %. Instead, the “bottoms” are denied tenure (that is, fired BEFORE getting tenure). And typically a lot more than 5% - typically from ~20% at a mid-level state university to ~60 - 70% in the Ivies.

That would make far more sense. Make tenure more rigorous and difficult to get. But always firng 5%. That's true lunacy. But I'll give you this, it is a very American kind of lunacy.

The real problems in public education are in areas where the poverty rate is high.

Fun fact: The annual Gallup poll about education shows that Americans are overwhelmingly dissatisfied with the quality of the nation’s schools, but 77 percent of public school parents award their own child’s public school a grade of A or B, the highest level of approval since the question was first asked in 1985.

Can you say 'propaganda?'

18   marcus   ignore (10)   2011 Apr 1, 11:58am     ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag        

shrekgrinch says

shrekgrinch says

Yes, let us do get this straight, Marcus. Are you a member of a teacher’s union in California? Yes/No?

So because I'm in a teachers union, I don't know about teaching ? Or I'm too biased toward my own self interest to have a meaningful opinion ? Shrek, I understand exactly why you can't begin to understand this, but for teachers, self interest and student's interest are not as independent as you and Clarence wish they were.

I suppose by your reasoning those in an actors guild can't know about acting.

Those in a steel workers union can't know about making steel, or those in an auto makers union don't know about making cars.

Shrek are you a member of AA? And no, I'm not talking about alcoholics anonymous.

19   sfbubblebuyer   ignore (1)   2011 Apr 1, 12:30pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

Hey Marcus, I didn't say always firing. I just said the bottom 5% CAN be fired, no questions asked.

Making tenure harder to get is another good idea, except the idea of tenure as applied to college professors is to protect them from political pressure when teaching controversial material, not to keep their jobs as part of a union contract. If professors were in unions, they wouldn't need tenure.

20   marcus   ignore (10)   2011 Apr 1, 12:42pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

sfbubblebuyer says

Hey Marcus, I didn’t say always firing

Oh, okay.

Teacher evaluation is a big topic these days. That is, new more rigorous forms of evaluation are being developed and negotiated. Unfortunately in many places, testing may be given too much emphasis.

21   sfbubblebuyer   ignore (1)   2011 Apr 1, 12:57pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

Ideally, testing is NOT part of ranking teachers, or is only a subset of it. Otherwise you'll get teachers in really rough neighborhoods ALWAYS struggling to be out of the 'could be fired' bucket just because they're in a really hard to reach area of kids.

Teachers should have a say, the administrators should have a say, and parents/kids should have a say.

22   MarkInSF   ignore (1)   2011 Apr 1, 1:43pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

A few points:

1) You point out few methods for evaluating teachers (er.... I mean dentists), that you think are bad. I happen to mostly agree.

However, where is your explanation of what a good method for evaluating teachers IS?

All I got was this:

“Come watch me work,” he said. “Observe my processes.”

Is that the extent of your recommendation for how dentist (er... I mean teachers) should be evaluated?

2) The main method for determining the best dentists, and for firing bad ones, comes from their patients.

I had a dentist that it turned out was just milking my excellent insurance by finding lots of problems, and recommending the most expensive treatments. The reason I know this is after the 3rd time in 2 years she recommended a $600 filling I decided to go to two other dentists for checkups, and neither of them noted anything of concern.

I fired my dentist and found a new one with good reputation.

As far as I know, this kind of choice is non-existent with parents choosing who their kid's teachers are.

Do you disagree?

23   MarkInSF   ignore (1)   2011 Apr 1, 1:45pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

shrekgrinch says

EightBall says

It would be LUNACY to charge TAXES and FORCE people to use a SPECIFIC dentist NO MATTER WHAT HIS SKILL LEVEL or PROFICIENCY.

Well, you better give that 411 to the morons who dig ObamaCare or any other government-mandated care in existence.

shrekgrinch, that is ridiculous. Medicare, and "Obamacare" does not restrict your choice of doctor. You don't like your doctor, you go find a new one.

24   marcus   ignore (10)   2011 Apr 1, 2:58pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

sfbubblebuyer says

Ideally, testing is NOT part of ranking teachers, or is only a subset of it. Otherwise you’ll get teachers in really rough neighborhoods ALWAYS struggling to be out of the ‘could be fired’ bucket just because they’re in a really hard to reach area of kids.

Teachers should have a say, the administrators should have a say, and parents/kids should have a say.

There you go.

25   elliemae   ignore (0)   2011 Apr 2, 9:37am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

Dentists do have a method of quantifying their success - it's called money. Money comes from returning customers and referrals. People are free to access the services of whichever dentist they prefer.

Those who live in states where Medicaid pays for dental services usually have the choice between a few dentists. The good ones have a long wait for an appointment. (It should be pointed out that dentists who accept Medicaid as payment in full are knowingly cutting their payments by at least 25% - and that many states are cutting back on the services they pay for. Dental and optometry are on the chopping block, and Medicare doesn't pay for either service.)

On the other hand, people's tax dollars pay for their children's education. We've all read the stories about how some teachers are horrible and can't be fired due to the teacher's unions protecting them - a handful compared to the amount of teachers out there. This enrages the average taxpayer. Not an easy subject. And those of us with children have all experienced at least one crappy teacher during our experience with the education system. We need a method to quantify the effectiveness of our teachers - it's not like most of us have the option of going elsewhere if the education system doesn't adequately provide the service for which we're paying.

We pay taxes that fund the education system - and if we don't like the system our only options are to pay to send our children elsewhere while we continue to fund the public system, or to home-school our kids. There needs to be a way to encourage good teachers and get rid of the crappy ones.

I do believe that the teacher who wrote this self-serving drivel would have better made his/her point had he/she utilized actual punctuation. Since the object of writing the story is clearly to compare how to quantify good dentistry versus good teaching, the writer should have asked someone he/she worked with how (and when) to start a new paragraph.

He/she also might have realized that his target audience would recognize that this is fiction based on many factors - not the least of which is that a conversation this long, with so much information, can't be word-for-word (as it purports to be) unless it was recorded and later transcribed.

Finally, he gives away his status as a teacher by ending with, "He walked off with that look of hope mixed with fear and suppressed anger that I see in the mirror so often lately." To that I would say that I'm grateful this person filled with fear and suppressed anger isn't teaching my children but I do have sympathy for those children in his/her classes.

marcus says

Nope, it was shared via email, I didn’t know who to credit.

Not knowing who to credit is not an excuse for plagerism. Just sayin'

26   marcus   ignore (10)   2011 Apr 2, 10:50am     ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag        

elliemae says

He/she also might have realized that his target audience would recognize that this is fiction based on many factors - not the least of which is that a conversation this long, with so much information, can’t be word-for-word (as it purports to be) unless it was recorded and later transcribed.

???

elliemae says

Not knowing who to credit is not an excuse for plagerism. Just sayin’

True. But since I never intended people to believe I wrote it, and when asked I let it be known, I told you that the source was unknown, it isn't plagiarism. Also, my assumption is that the true author wouldn't mind, and might even be proud to have it shared (notwithstanding your clever "analysis" and deep insights).

It might have been better to say "source unknown" up front. Especially for your benefit Ellie, and the mood you are in today.

elliemae says

Finally, he gives away his status as a teacher by ending with, “He walked off with that look of hope mixed with fear and suppressed anger that I see in the mirror so often lately.” To that I would say that I’m grateful this person filled with fear and suppressed anger isn’t teaching my children but I do have sympathy for those children in his/her classes.

I see.

Readers, all you have to do is understand Ellie's perspective a little to totally understand what that mixture or hope, fear and suppressed anger is all about.

27   MarkInSF   ignore (1)   2011 Apr 2, 11:06am     ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag        

elliemae says

Money comes from returning customers and referrals. People are free to access the services of whichever dentist they prefer.

That's the point I was making. But marcus did't respond to you or me on this point. I'm guessing I'm on marcus' ignore list now. You probably will be too soon.

28   marcus   ignore (10)   2011 Apr 2, 11:21am     ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag        

MarkInSF says

I fired my dentist and found a new one with good reputation.

As far as I know, this kind of choice is non-existent with parents choosing who their kid’s teachers are.

Do you disagree?

No, and yes, you found a flaw in the analogy. It doesn't take away from the only point of it though.

Still, I am kind of sorry I shared it now.

29   MarkInSF   ignore (1)   2011 Apr 2, 11:24am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

marcus says

No, and yes, you found a flaw in the analogy. It doesn’t take away from the only point of it though.

Well, any analogy can only go so far, and I guess if the purpose was to illustrate the absurdity of a method for evaluating teachers then you succeeded.

30   elliemae   ignore (0)   2011 Apr 2, 3:51pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

marcus says

Readers, all you have to do is understand Ellie’s perspective a little to totally understand what that mixture or hope, fear and suppressed anger is all about.

Just curious: what little bit of my perspective might you understand that gives you total understanding of what that mixture or hope, fear and suppressed anger is all about? And what is a mixture or hope, fear and suppressed anger anyway?

You state that the flaw that Mark found doesn't take away from the only point of it - but there are multiple flaws in the analogy you posted. I guess my question to you is whether you believe that teachers should be evaluated, or held to any specific standard? While standardized testing isn't a great measure of a teacher's performance, what do you believe would be a method of rating their abilities?

Or would you rather continue to attack me because I pointed out that you posted a poorly written story invented to make a point?

31   Cook County resident   ignore (0)   2011 Apr 2, 6:13pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

marcus says

sfbubblebuyer says

Hey Marcus, I didn’t say always firing

Oh, okay.
Teacher evaluation is a big topic these days. That is, new more rigorous forms of evaluation are being developed and negotiated. Unfortunately in many places, testing may be given too much emphasis.

A little off topic, but I'll ask anyway. Is there any noticeable change with the kids whose parents are facing long-term unemployment?

32   marcus   ignore (10)   2011 Apr 3, 2:36am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

Cook County resident says

Is there any noticeable change with the kids whose parents are facing long-term unemployment?

Good question. Answer: I don't know. I talk to some parents, at parent teacher conferences, or when I contact them because of problems, but it is rare that they or their child tells me about their personal problems. I have wondered about it myself. When a kid acts out in weird ways, or seems almost unable to focus and unusually distracted, I occasionally wonder, what the heck is going on in their life ? But I don't know.

If a child REALLY has their act together, and I do see many of those kids - not just intelligent with great work ethic, but well rounded with a great personality, I do tend to infer (right or wrong) that they have a great family life (not that such a cause and effect always holds). But when a kid does not have it together, or maybe is overly self involved or in some way kind of a somewhat a jerk, I don't make any inferences (I don't think the converse of the above cause and effect is nearly as reliable). But I might try to give them some guidance about manners or whatever.

It does occur to me every now and then, that this is public school, so as far as family problems, everything from severe economic problems to abuse, is probably represented. But I don't dwell on that fact. We have counselors that I occasionally talk to about a specific child. I am aware currently of a child suffering from depression, and a few others with ADD. As for abuse, we have some very specific rules about reporting if we suspect that physical abuse is occurring. I have yet to make such a report. I'm a high school teacher with about 200 students.

33   FortWayne   ignore (4)   2011 Apr 3, 3:02am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

EightBall says

Interesting story, but my property taxes don’t pay for compulsory dental visits for my neighbors kids (yet). If a dentist is for crap he might survive in business for a long time with unsuspecting patients but he’ll never get tenure and lifetime benefits. Sorry, but this is weak.
How about suggesting a way to get rid of crappy teachers instead?

I think they just need to lose collective bargaining. So far all it does is create a sub-par education system which isn't very good at all, yet costs insane amount of money.

Firing random teachers won't do a thing really. Problem is more systematic, not based off individual performance. A worlds best teacher won't be able to teach some of those kids out there, but the system forces them to teach to the dumbest kid in the class room, and discourages failing students since there is no pay for failures.... which means if they want to get paid they have to lower standards and pass as many students as possible.

34   marcus   ignore (10)   2011 Apr 3, 4:59am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

elliemae says

And what is a mixture or hope, fear and suppressed anger anyway?

You must know, because from that you concluded:

elliemae says

Finally, he gives away his status as a teacher by ending with, “He walked off with that look of hope mixed with fear and suppressed anger that I see in the mirror so often lately.” To that I would say that I’m grateful this person filled with fear and suppressed anger isn’t teaching my children but I do have sympathy for those children in his/her classes.

elliemae says

what do you believe would be a method of rating their abilities?

Currently teachers are evaluated with multiple class visits by administrators, with an evaluation meeting much like that given by managers in many fields, with suggestions for improvement and so on. If they don't pass the evaluation other actions are taken, up to having a peer teacher work with them the next year, and if improvement doesn't occur at that point they could be fired. Yes, this could be fought by the union.

That's how it works in my district. But I'm sure it varies. Currently, as I have stated, more rigorous methods of evaluation are being negotiated. I have tried in various posts to inform people to SOME of the complexities and problems with using testing for evaluation, but I am not going to elaborate again now.

My only point at this moment, is that people who use the straw man that union teachers don't want bad teachers fired, or those who think that there is no pressure to do well, beyond normal conscientiousness that goes with being a teacher, don't know what they are talking about.

elliemae says

Or would you rather continue to attack me because I pointed out that you posted a poorly written story invented to make a point?

Attacking ? Interesting. Would you say I was being passive aggressive ?

35   marcus   ignore (10)   2011 Apr 3, 5:19am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

elliemae says

And what is a mixture or hope, fear and suppressed anger anyway?

I'm not sure. But the author referred to walking off with a "look" of hope, mixed with fear and suppressed anger, that they often see in the mirror (Not the greatest writing. Maybe the writer teaches 2nd graders).

From that you got:

elliemae says

I’m grateful this person filled with fear and suppressed anger isn’t teaching my children

I'm not going to analyze your entire analysis. Because if I did so, with more honestly and bluntness than before, you wouldn't be able to see beyond "attack" anyway.

I'm sorry the piece didn't work for you Ellie.

36   elliemae   ignore (0)   2011 Apr 3, 5:41am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

Not to belabor the point (I know, too late!): The guy ended his fictional story with the statement that he looks in the mirror and sees a look of hope mixed with fear & suppressed anger quite often.

marcus says

He walked off with that look of hope mixed with fear and suppressed anger that I see in the mirror so often lately.

To which you reply with an attempt at a personal attack on me by implying that I am fearful and full of suppressed anger:

marcus says

Readers, all you have to do is understand Ellie’s perspective a little to totally understand what that mixture or hope, fear and suppressed anger is all about.

To which I (politely) must ask, again: what little bit of my perspective might you understand that gives you total understanding of what that mixture or hope, fear and suppressed anger is all about? And what is a mixture or hope, fear and suppressed anger anyway?

Do you mean a mixture OF hope, fear and suppressed anger? I certainly don't see the fear & suppressed anger part, although I do see a beautiful, vibrant woman with a killer sense of humor. But, try as I might, I can't even begin to comprehend what you meant by "all you have to do is understand Ellie’s perspective a little to totally understand..."

marcus says

Would you say I was being passive aggressive ?

Yep. Only not passively. ;)

marcus says

My only point at this moment, is that people who use the straw man that union teachers don’t want bad teachers fired, or those who think that there is no pressure to do well, beyond normal conscientiousness that goes with being a teacher, don’t know what they are talking about.

I hope that you realize that we read about the extreme cases in the media because it sells - so that's the impression that we're left with. Maybe unions are good, maybe they're not. But there should be a fast track method for firing the bad ones, and less layers of administration so that teachers would be paid more. If that were to happen, we could attract the best & brightest. My neice's husband wanted to be a teacher but was starved out of it, and he got a job in the private sector for 2x the salary. The school lost a science teacher/softball coach who really cared about the students. Now he voluntenteers at his church's softball league.

I don't dislike teachers, Marcus. But I would prefer that they possess an adequate ability to communicate in the written word. (Elliemae looks in the mirror) Nope, still don't see the fear & suppressed anger - but I'll keep you posted.

37   tatupu70   ignore (0)   2011 Apr 3, 5:49am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

ChrisLA says

I think they just need to lose collective bargaining. So far all it does is create a sub-par education system which isn’t very good at all, yet costs insane amount of money.

How do you come to the conclusion that collective bargaining is the cause of a sub-par education system (which I'm not sure I agree with anyway). All the evidence I've seen paints a different picture..

.ChrisLA says

Firing random teachers won’t do a thing really. Problem is more systematic, not based off individual performance. A worlds best teacher won’t be able to teach some of those kids out there, but the system forces them to teach to the dumbest kid in the class room, and discourages failing students since there is no pay for failures…. which means if they want to get paid they have to lower standards and pass as many students as possible.

So, it's really not collective bargaining then, is it?

38   marcus   ignore (10)   2011 Apr 3, 5:56am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

I never intended to imply anything about you looking in the mirror, although I do (only now) see an irony in that.

I said:

marcus says

Readers, all you have to do is understand Ellie’s perspective a little to totally understand what that mixture or hope, fear and suppressed anger is all about.

Please let me break down what I meant. My interpretation of the story was that in the end, the writer (obviously a teacher) refers to seeing that mixture of hope, fear, and suppressed anger in the mirror. It was my belief that your provocative analysis reflected the typical kind of attitude, that inspires those kinds of feelings in teachers.

Can we please drop this before I tell you what I really think of your insights ?

39   elliemae   ignore (0)   2011 Apr 3, 6:08am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

marcus says

Can we please drop this before I tell you what I really think of your insights ?

I'm guessing that you hold the utmost respect and appreciation for my insights, as I do yours. ;)

Seriously, marcus, in a perfect world, if you were to build a school from the bottom up, what would you do differently? Do you believe that there's too much administrative overhead? Do you feel that the system is bogged down in minutiae?

40   marcus   ignore (10)   2011 Apr 3, 6:37am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

elliemae says

Seriously, marcus, in a perfect world, if you were to build a school from the bottom up, what would you do differently?

I don't have time to answer that. But yes, certainly there is too much administrative overhead, although that has been cut along with teachers in recent years.

The truth is that most schools are always trying to do better. Schools in poor areas don't do well enough, and I think paying great teachers more, to work in those schools would be a good idea. Think of it as hazardous duty pay. It turns out poverty is by far the biggest factor adversely affecting outcomes. How much of that is from having parents that don't buy in to the importance of education, or from nutrition, or from the lack of good role models (other successful students), or from many other non-teacher factors, we don't know.

We do know that teaching in schools where attendance is bad and too many kids REALLY don't want to be there, let alone cooperate, is more of a challenge than most can comprehend. Even teaching in a relatively middle class area such as where I am, where the kids are for the most part great, is still a daunting challenge.

I don't have the answers, and there aren't simple answers, but people should know that public education isn't as bad as the media would have you believe. The annual Gallup poll about education shows that Americans are overwhelmingly dissatisfied with the quality of the nation’s schools, but 77 percent of public school parents award their own child’s public school a grade of A or B, the highest level of approval since the question was first asked in 1985.

41   FortWayne   ignore (4)   2011 Apr 3, 1:59pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

marcus says

in a perfect world, if you were to build a school from the bottom up, what would you do differently?

not have collective bargaining, and create a system where different enterprises compete for kids education making education better due to competition. And no tenure ever or pension spiking, reward based on success of the student.

Free market competition would absolutely surpass our current single monopoly expensive socialism.

42   elliemae   ignore (0)   2011 Apr 3, 2:05pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

Actually, ChrisLA, that was my question.

And I really like your answer.

43   marcus   ignore (10)   2011 Apr 3, 2:14pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

elliemae says

And I really like your answer.

Yes. Impressive indeed. That ChrisLA is brilliant. Simple answers ROCK. We need more republican deep thinkers like ChrisLA.

We have no idea what we would get, or even whether by the time that it sort of worked, whether it would actually cost less. But hey, free market competition works well for health care, let's try it for education too.

I can't even go there, but here's a little to think about Chris. Who takes the English language learners and the special ed kids ? Do you send them off to their own special schools. Do you make sure all of these competing schools take their share of kids that will make their competitive stats look bad ?

Did you read a lot about the problem before having your breakthrough ?

marcus says

The annual Gallup poll about education shows that Americans are overwhelmingly dissatisfied with the quality of the nation’s schools, but 77 percent of public school parents award their own child’s public school a grade of A or B, the highest level of approval since the question was first asked in 1985.

44   marcus   ignore (10)   2011 Apr 3, 2:33pm     ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag        

The one last vestige of upward mobility, that sort of still exists, is the opportunity that comes from public education. There are great neighborhoods around every major city where apartments can be rented putting a family who really wants it, in to great public schools. It's not easy, and it involves some awareness and sacrifice on the part of parents. But it's a system that is still working.

Only an ignorant fool would say that it needs to be totally replaced.

marcus says

marcus says

The annual Gallup poll about education shows that Americans are overwhelmingly dissatisfied with the quality of the nation’s schools, but 77 percent of public school parents award their own child’s public school a grade of A or B, the highest level of approval since the question was first asked in 1985.

45   MarkInSF   ignore (1)   2011 Apr 3, 3:26pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

ChrisLA says

Free market competition would absolutely surpass our current single monopoly expensive socialism.

I'm not sure what evidence you're basing that on. I look at the best educated kids around the world (Korea, Finland, Canada, New Zealand, etc....), and they're all in countries that have public education systems.

Perhaps you could provide an example of a country where free market competition has worked for K-12 education?

46   Vicente   ignore (0)   2011 Apr 3, 4:03pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

WHoops, FAIL!

Students who received vouchers to attend private or religious schools in Milwaukee performed worse on statewide reading and math tests than their counterparts in public schools, according to test scores released Tuesday that could play an integral role in whether the program expands statewide.

The results, released by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, show that while scores statewide are improving, voucher students are nowhere near their public school counterparts — even in the Milwaukee public schools they left.

Read more at the Washington Examiner: http://washingtonexaminer.com/news/2011/03/results-show-wis-voucher-students-test-poorly#ixzz1IX0Xe0v1

47   Vicente   ignore (0)   2011 Apr 3, 4:10pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

marcus says

The annual Gallup poll about education shows that Americans are overwhelmingly dissatisfied with the quality of the nation’s schools, but 77 percent of public school parents award their own child’s public school a grade of A or B, the highest level of approval since the question was first asked in 1985.

This is exactly like the majority of people think Congress is a den of vipers, yet keep re-electing THEIR upstanding representative every cycle. My god .... we're idiots!

48   elliemae   ignore (0)   2011 Apr 3, 8:35pm     ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag        

Marcus, I asked what you would do differently and:

marcus says

I don’t have time to answer that.

ChrisLA did have time to answer, and yes - it was simplistic. But it was an answer instead of a "hit & run, gotta go 'cause I'm much too busy for this" comment.

marcus says

Yes. Impressive indeed. That ChrisLA is brilliant. Simple answers ROCK. We need more republican deep thinkers like ChrisLA...Only an ignorant fool would say that it (the education system) needs to be totally replaced.

We're not questioning whether teachers are necessary - but we are questioning the current system in many different parts of the country. If you'd like to actually answer my question instead of merely criticizing other's answers, I'm still waiting.

49   Cook County resident   ignore (0)   2011 Apr 3, 9:46pm     ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag        

Vicente says

This is exactly like the majority of people think Congress is a den of vipers, yet keep re-electing THEIR upstanding representative every cycle. My god …. we’re idiots!

Don't discount political collusion in the continual congressional reelections. Around here, the districts are tortuously gerrymandered and independent parties face far higher hurdles to getting on the ballot, all for the benefit of the Republicrat party.

Over the last 20 years, this district has been represented by Dan Rostenkowski, Rod Blagojevich and Rahm Emanuel.

The Red Team of the Republicrat party is sometimes so lazy and complacent that they don't even run token opposition against their Blue Team brothers. Presumably, the Blue Team returns the favor elsewhere.

My favorite example comes from around 20 years ago, when some political outsider got himself on the ballot as the Republican candidate against Dan Rostenkowski. His campaign consisted of talking to a few reporters on the phone, putting up some flyers and changing his middle name to "Non-incumbent".

Non-incumbent pulled almost 40% of the vote against the "unbeatable" Dan Rostenkowski.

50   marcus   ignore (10)   2011 Apr 4, 10:52am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

elliemae says

Marcus, I asked what you would do differently and:

marcus says

I don’t have time to answer that.

ChrisLA did have time to answer, and yes - it was simplistic. But it was an answer instead of a “hit & run, gotta go ’cause I’m much too busy for this” comment.

If you had asked me for the story of my life, I would have also said, I don't have time to answer that. Not because I am being 'hit and run.' But because I have a lot of thoughts about this and I'm not going to distill them down to a sound bite or even down to a couple of paragraphs. Sorry. I get it that you feel entitled to an answer (or maybe just justified in bugging me for not answering what I consider a huge question). Can't help you with that.

From the style of how you asked ( "I'm still waitng") it's almost as if you forgot which hat you had on.

51   Vicente   ignore (0)   2011 Apr 4, 1:27pm     ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag        

Simple answer for people who want sound bites:

FOLLOW THE MONEY!

Look at the where all the money in the economy has shifted in the last 30 years.

Anyone who thinks the Unions are the ones hoovering up all the money, and that's why you are pinching pennies, is frankly deluded. Unions and their corresponding costs and entitlements, are at historic lows.

People who focus like a laser on unions, remind of some nitwits I know with severe money troubles, who think they can fix it by brown-bagging their lunch.

52   elliemae   ignore (0)   2011 Apr 6, 5:20pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

marcus says

If you had asked me for the story of my life, I would have also said, I don’t have time to answer that

You can rest assured that I am not interested in reading the story of your life - and that, contrary to your assertion, I don't feel "entitled" to an answer. I merely asked what you'd do differently if you were to design a school system from the ground up and hoped for something more than a refusal to answer followed by your belittling someone for their response.

marcus says

Only an ignorant fool would say that it needs to be totally replaced.

marcus says

Impressive indeed. That ChrisLA is brilliant. Simple answers ROCK. We need more republican deep thinkers like ChrisLA.

marcus says

maybe just justified in bugging me for not answering what I consider a huge question). Can’t help you with that. From the style of how you asked ( “I’m still waitng”) it’s almost as if you forgot which hat you had on.

The reason that I said, "I'm still waiting..." is that, after four responses, you still didn't answer the question. I actually was still waiging for your answer, but I'm not any longer. I'm not sure what you meant by "which hat I had on," but I'm really not interested in your answer to that either.

shrekgrinch says

marcus says


Or I’m too biased toward my own self interest to have a meaningful opinion ?

No, because this is about money…mainly how you earn yours. People should know that, Mr. Lofty-Teacher-Pushing-A-More-Crass-Agenda.
That’s all.
Right now you sound like some whiney Wall Streeter objecting to disclosing his financial skin in the game with regards to the content of the articles he/she publishing. Such arrogance…

What shrekkie said. In spades.

53   marcus   ignore (10)   2011 Apr 6, 10:00pm     ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag        

elliemae says

What shrekkie said. In spades.

Another one eats up the anti-teacher propaganda.

My avg class size are over forty now. There are more huge layoffs on the table. The corporatist are after us for multiple reasons, I guess yes (follow the money) because of the money in education. This country is fucked, considering how quickly people want to go after teachers. And I get on here, to whine ? More like, I come on here in the sad hope of informing some of the ignorant haters.

What Shirk and others don't understand, with comments like "hiding behind the children," or "Mr. Lofty-Teacher-Pushing-A-More-Crass-Agenda" when he projects that my agenda must be selfish is yes, I am a teacher for selfish reasons, and wanting to be compensated fairly for my efforts is only a part of those selfish reasons. All the other reasons are selfish too. But he wouldn't understand what I mean by that.

Merit pay will probably be good for me, or at least won't hurt me, because some of my classes are with the most advanced kids (eg Calculus). But it's a big mistake. Poverty is the problem.

In another thread, Shirk says, "then why do some public school teachers send their kids to private schools." The answer has to do with who the other students are at the private schools, which compared to some of the roughest public schools is going to be quite different. But all the public school teachers where I work that have kids, send them to public schools. Many get to have their kids in our school.

What Ray said in spades.

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