Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Stop the Teacher Wars

Here is a post and related comments that are right down our alley..  Thoughts?
MinnPost Stop the Teacher Wars


NumbersGuy said...

Do you what us to post both on MinnPost and Here??

Anonymous said...

Kind of a collection of cliches, I thought. I don't think teachers are what's wrong with our schools, and quite frankly, I don't think improving the quality of teachers, in the externalized way it's often talked about, would have much impact on school quality.


John said...

NG, I'm ok with either or both... The point is the discussion / debate, not where it is held.

Good point Hiram,
We have new readers who do not know about our list of contributing factors, or where we stand.

And is often the case... I disagree with your comment... Little performance management and even less accountability ensures that some of the Teachers are marginal at best. The kids deserve Teachers that are ALL proficient and energetic.

Laurie said...

I have become persuaded that unions can get in the way (a little bit) of improving schools. I think they need to adapt to 21st century education.

John said...

It is definitely a complicated topic with lots of aspects...

Speaking of which, MinnPost seems to be blocking some of my comments. So I'll share my thoughts here instead. I'll never understand why some sites are sensitive to cross linking. Don't they understand that it drives up hits and comments for all of us... Oh well....

John said...

"What's good for the kids is seldom what will be good for the hedge fund running their school.

How do you want to define "productivity?" High test scores? I had a teacher in elementary school whose classes probably would have done well on standardized testing, if that had been done back in the day. She was also a bully, who openly played favorites and ruled by humiliation. Was she productive? Contrast her with a German teacher I had in high school. I don't think I learned the language very well--at least, I don't know if I retained much of it. On the other hand, I developed a long-standing interest in the history and culture that we touched upon.

So who was the good, productive teacher here?" RB Holbrook from MinnPost link

"That is why you have Supervisors. (ie Principals) They get to use test scores, peer feedback and hopefully someday surveys from Parents/Students to judge who are the Productive Teachers. This is their role in Private industry, and I mean no Supervisor wants an employee working for them who generates customer complaints... Neither do they want employees who can't produce the desired results...

Ever wonder why K-12 Public schools are the only Learning institution that does not provide the Students/Parents with feedback surveys to complete for every class/teacher?

Universities do, Private training orgs do, etc. Thoughts?

My only guess is that they can't correct the poor situations, so why ask for customer feedback." G2A from MinnPost link

"Public schools don't have "customers." Education is not a commercial transaction. It is an endeavor for the benefit of the children, but also for the benefit of society as a whole.

Schools are not Wal-Mart, no matter what some have led us to believe.." RB Holbrook from MinnPost link

"So you are indifferent to if the students, parents and tax payers are satisfied with the performance of the Teachers, Classroom, School, District, etc?

The reality is that education personnel are service providers. And good service providers in the Private realm are very concerned that their customers believe they are getting good value for their money... That is why they overwhelm us with surveys and requests for feedback... They know what apparently the Public School folks have forgotten, if you are not providing good value, your customer will find someone who will.

Or do you make a habit of going back to service providers who do not meet your expectations while charging more than you think the service is worth?

Why do you think folks leave some communities and school districts? They chose to find a service provider / school population who they think is offering a better value..." G2A from MinnPost link

"Now, you are bringing in a whole group of people to evaluate teachers as a whole. That is better than just letting evaluation rest solely in the realm of supervisors or individual parents. It's a community, or societal, affair.

Your analogy has limits, however. Service providers in the private realm are concerned solely with making one customer at a time happy. They do not need to consider the broader implications of what they are doing ("I can't sell you this Big Mac because of what wholesale beef production does to the environment."). In contrast, the public sector relies on the public to help make the services it receives better. Yes, that involves feedback, but it may also involve participation and helping out. It may also involve letting professionals do their jobs without making them the scapegoats for the larger failings of the system as a whole.." RB Holbrook from MinnPost link

John said...

Now what I tried to tell / show RB Holbrook was that our views have some similarities.
G2A Education Goal

And I wanted them to start a new comment line explaining what they believe the goal of Public Education should be?

And I wanted to know more about the perceived "failings" they mentioned and to see if they had any to add to our list.
G2A Blame vs Contributions

John said...

I didn't mean to gloss over your incredible comment... I just had to let it process for a few minutes. (and get back into my chair)

Since most of us fiscal Conservative men have the tact of a tank... How could people help union members understand?

I truly believe that the vast majority of Teachers care about their students and the education they get. Yet I think change is so scary that self preservation instincts take over when the idea of accountability and market forces are mentioned. Thoughts?

Anonymous said...

Schools, by people who oppose government for the same reason Social Security and Medicare are under attack. When you believe as an act of faith that government can't work, you have to attack those institutions of government that do work, and work very well indeed.


John said...

I think that SS & Medicare are just fine except for the detail that their promised benefits far exceed what their premiums can support. Thus the trust funds will soon be depleted. Seems like a practical objection to me.

As for public schools and Teachers, in many ways they are great... However in some ways they can be improved, do you disagree or do you think they are perfect?

What do you disagree with regarding Pam Costain's comments? They seem rational to me.

jerrye92002 said...

I think you need to read this:

I firmly believe that teachers are not the problem, for the most part. Most of those I meet in the nice, suburban schools, and many in the underperforming schools as well, are doing their best because they care, and because nobody I know is teaching for the great pay. But good people in a bad system produce bad results, and US public schools are a bad system. First of all, the unions are the ones treating every teacher the same, like a union drone, and deciding pay based on longevity rather than merit. Second, there are too many rules by the politicians on what can be taught and how, meaning the "professional" teacher has minimal control over her own work, which eventually leads to heads down and giving up. NOT what is needed. Third, there are too many education theories swarming out of the education schools that simply don't work, like New Math and New New Math and "Chicago Math" (where I guess you learn how to miscount votes, or something).

On top of all this, the Minnpost is surprisingly right on something, that quality teachers ARE the most important element in education-- not class size, not money spent, not poverty or language or even parenting. These factors may contribute, but in the absence of effective teaching they can predominate. And so the DFL removes teacher merit from consideration!

You want Minnesota schools to be better than Louisiana? THERE they passed a law requiring teachers to pass a test in the subject they were to teach. The first year, some 90% of education graduates at some universities FAILED the test. The DFL solves such problems by not testing. How do you suppose that helps?

jerrye92002 said...

Productivity is measured by how many units of acceptable quality are produced in a given unit of time. US teachers have not seen a productivity improvement in 150 years. It still takes 1 teacher 12 years to produce 25 high school graduates. What has changed over the years is that it used to be 30 high school graduates, and now it's probably closer to 15 in the inner city schools, if that. Productivity of a teacher should be measured by the number of students "successfully" learning the subject matter to a given standard. If we were to give teachers the number of students they COULD teach, the better teachers would have more students and could earn a commensurate higher salary. Let's do a little math:

Assume the average class size of 22 that our suburban district claims, and the statewide average of about $10,000 per pupil. That means every teacher would be "producing" $220,000 of value for the school District. Average pay plus benefits is roughly $80,000. Where did the rest go? NOTE: the average private "service" business has labor costs of at least 60% of sales, or $132,000. Where did the rest go? If we just paid teachers THAT amount it would be a huge raise, but imagine if they went back to the historic average class size of 30? Sure, there would be fewer teachers needed (hopefully the good ones), but they could be earning $180,000/year! Since they aren't, you have to wonder if they're smart enough to be teaching. :-\

Anonymous said...

I think that SS & Medicare are just fine except for the detail that their promised benefits far exceed what their premiums can support.

And notice how well they work despite that.


John said...

Federalist:School Post

John said...

Did you think that last comment through?

Imagine an airplane that is flying smoothly and straight, except for the problem that it is flying with a 20 degree downward slope, no way to control the slope and no landing gear. Is that working well? Even though you know there is an explosive crash coming in the near future...

I think we have different definitions of working well...

Anonymous said...

I don't think either Social Security or Medicare are airplanes. Imagine a system of Social insurance that's issued payments on time (with one or two glitches) for nearly 80 years. How many planes have crashed during that period?


John said...

Let me try this another way...

How will they make payments on time with no money in their accounts?

I'd call that a pretty big glitch...

John said...

After looking through the comments again. I found this one amusing...

"I don't see how asking teachers to follow best practices is hating on teachers. Honestly, I don't.
Why is:
--allowing schools to hire the best teachers for their students from the widest possible talent pool?
--asking teachers to meet for 90 minutes once a week to go over student progress and data
--extending the teaching day at low performing schools
--using data
......hating and demonizing teachers?!?!?

My husband and two sons are all teachers. My parents were teachers. My kids all went to Minneapolis Public School and they had some absolutely great teacher. Ms Hooper is known as a terrific teacher.

By the way, note to readers: even under the much-touted "Interview and Select" most schools are still limited to hiring from a closed pool of tenured excessed teachers who need jobs. Sometimes there are great teachers in this pool. But too often schools are forced to pick "the best" from a pool of mediocre teachers no one would willingly hire. This is also why it's so hard to hire more teachers of color.” Lynnell Mickelsen

I am amazed at the common sense things that the Unions seem to fight. So much for putting the kids first.

Laurie said...

I found Ms. Mickelsen's comments about the need for unions to be more flexible very persuasive, however, unions have no impact in my very low performing, non union school.

What might help us to raise achievement is a longer school day and greater funding for more intervention teachers (ELL and Title 1.) Students would also benefit from more resources for learning to read, such as a large collection of leveled readers.

John said...

Give take... What would the Union folks willingly give up for additional funding?

History says the answer is nothing. They want more money from us non-Teachers and less interference by us non-Teachers...

John said...

More fodder for discussion...
MinnPost How I Became Pro-Reform

TJ Swift said...

I dislike leftists for many reasons, but if someone suggests I "hate" them, I'd have to disagree...for the most part.

While I hate what the left stands for, I honestly can't say I hate most lefty's personally. But it is true that I hate what the left has done to public education. I hate a group of people that have taken one of our most important public assets and turned it inside out to suit their own, selfish needs.

I hate those that have turned our classrooms into laboratories for socio-economic experimentation and political indoctrination. I hold a special hatred for those that see public schools as a source of financial security.

I have good reason to harbor this hatred. After having battled the administrators of Groveland elementary school in Saint Paul, I removed my 3 boys to a private school. I was so upset with what I had seen and heard, that I felt that although I had removed my own kids to safety I couldn't abandon kids whose parents didn't have the financial wherewithal to do as I had done.

I started upon a 10 year campaign to change things. I volunteered at our local middle school, grading papers and tutoring. I became a regular attendant at board meetings. I volunteered for committees, although after learning my political leanings the board chose to leave spots vacant rather than seat someone who truly represented the best interests of the students.

I filed a complaint with the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Committee against the district over illegal campaign donations (using scarce general fund money) to a leftist political action committee; my complaint was upheld. I filed a complaint with Susan Gaertner over patently false claims the district was making in their annual levy referendum. Gaertner's investigation found my allegations to be true, but she declined to do anything about it.

In 2001, I was a candidate for SPPS school board. You cannot imagine the slimy campaign the teachers union and DFL waged against me AND MY FAMILY.

Yes, I do hate the defenders of the status quo in public education; not for who they are, but for what they have done.

The comments from the union hacks & leftist droogs on the MinnPost tell me that they continue to earn it.


TJ Swift said...

BTW, John. I'm not surprised the MinnPost is censoring your posts; you'll find in short order they won't post any at all.

The fact is, most leftist media, blogs & etc. maintain a strict control over who posts and what they post.

That's how leftists roll. When your socio-political world view is so laughably wrong, so easily refuted, it requires a consistent flow of peer-approval and denial to maintain it, censorship is understandable.

Having someone show up with facts that disrupt the delusion just won't do if you want to maintain control.

They don't allow the public into psych wards either, and for the same reason.

John said...

What fascinates me about the comment blocking is that don't these folks want hits and traffic. I mean, I do this for my enjoyment and to help people think. (ie costs are $0 + my time) And I have no income goals for it. (a very good thing by the way, since that is what it is...)

MN Prog Project blocked me all together and their comments are almost non-existent now. I mean everyone knows that controversy draws a crowd, and in this case "hits". And if they want to be "heroes", they need a "villain" to make the story/commentary interesting and worth coming back for... Oh well, I wish them the best.

The jury is still out regarding MinnPost, I don't think they mind my comments as much as my cross linking to past G2A posts. MPP and MinnPost seem to have a scarcity mentality. They seem concerned that I will somehow "steal" their readers. Which of course is foolish since I don't do what they do. (ie daily news)

Personally, I believe cross linking is a good way for us all to gain readers. I mean if the situation / cross talk is more interesting and dynamic, more people will tune in.

As for psych wards, welcome to the G2A psych ward. We encourage the expression and discussion of views by crazy Liberals, crazy Conservatives, crazy Moderates, etc. And your faciltator has some of the craziest views... That's what makes it fun...

John said...

You may want to do your homework on this one. I will be posting regarding Alec's Perception of Reality in a few days. I know nothing about this, but their view and comments seem suspect... So I'll do some research and follow up.

I thought you may have some thoughts since it is in your area.

jerrye92002 said...

Just a note for the regular readers that, as "radical" and "off the wall" that TJ's tale may sound, I can personally attest to one very similar, including the criminal complaints and the "politics of personal destruction."

I also have an explanation, which may have been offered here before. Leftists are leftists because they believe, first and foremost, that they are morally and intellectually superior to the rest of us. Any disagreement with the policy positions they espouse (because they have been told are correct) is an attack on their fundamental belief about themselves, and therefore personal. Trying to show them they are wrong by facts and logic, well, that is simply intolerable and marks you as evil AND stupid, worthy of whatever they can do to shut you up!

John said...

Here's is an excellent link written by a Democrat for Democrats.
MinnPost How I Went from Defending Teachers to Pushing Reform

TJ Swift said...

I'm still trying to figure out Mickelsen's angle.

I'd like to believe she's simply seen so much corruption in the government schools she can no longer face herself in the mirror, but in my experience leftists usually have an ulterior motive.

That's not to say attacks of conscience never happen; witness the complete conversion of former Red Diaper baby David Horowitz http://frontpagemag.com/2009/david-horowitz/my-new-book/.

Still, I'd have to see some concrete activism, something more than posting heresy on a leftist agitprop blog, to convince me of Lynell's sincerity.

In the meantime, it's very instructive to witness the spittle flecked rage her heresy is being met with.

Leftists are really very, very deeply disturbed people at the core.

TJ Swift said...

Jerry, my complaints are a matter of public record.


People can and do disagree with me, but anyone that knows me will tell you I never lie.

jerrye92002 said...

TJ, just to be clear... I was not accusing you of fabrication of any sort, but was relaying the fact that I had a very similar experience and could corroborate your story from that standpoint. Yours was NOT an isolated case, but the standard outrageously irrational response to criticism of liberal policy results. Schools in particular, because they are doing everything "for the children," believe they must be allowed to operate without question of anything they do. Most everything they do, of course, OUGHT to be questioned, and ought to have real answers. But you have to endure a lot of slings and arrows to get them, if you get them at all.

John said...

My New Book

Pending Investigations