Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Myths About Charter Schools

Short on time, but we are back at it regarding Charter schools.
MinnPost 7 myths regarding charter schools

This Ember Reichgott Junge pretty much nails it.

Here is one of my comments:
"Since I am more concerned with the well being of the students and less worried about the well being of the Teacher's Union, I actually enjoyed the article.

The citizens of Minnesota actually raise the money and fund K-12 education for the good of the students/society, not for the good of the districts, teachers, bureaucrats or unions.

Though I do understand the frustration that governmental and union personnel feel when the parents and children are given a competitive choice. I mean it reduces their power, compensation, etc.

That would be hard to swallow."
And strangely enough this one also morphed to discussing education in MN.

MinnPost Peril of dismissing cost of doing business in MN

Here is one of my comments:
"2 vs 20 
2 classrooms located next to each other.
Both have 25 students of equal demographics.

Room 1 has a gifted energetic organized teacher with 2 years of experience who is payed $38,000/yr. Students are engaged and excelling.

Room 2 has an ok teacher with 20 years of experience who is paid $58,000/yr. Students do okay but the class is somewhat disruptive and homework is lost sometimes.

Does this make sense to you? Rationale?

Worse yet. Budget cuts occur because this a shrinking school district. The gifted 2 year teacher is let go and the ok teacher is kept.

Does this really seem good for the students? Rationale?"



John said...

This string seems to have some legs, so I will replicate it here. It is regarding my 2 - 20 comment:

"Yes Because we all know that in the real world the best and brightest are always the newest and youngest. Also, that in the face of budget cuts the administration will always choose based on merit, not simply on what will save the most cash. A more likely scenario would be the 20 year educator being canned in deference to a cheap new hire, with the process to be repeated every time a long termer has salary demands the district deems unpleasant. Then we get to add the influence of a public election on the administrator's bosses which may lend a political element to whether a teacher is retained or not and we would end up with a wonderful mess that would would virtually ensure only the meekest, cheapest, and most masochisitc among the teaching pool remain. But then, since the conservative endgame is not really about ensuring a good education anyway, this probably sounds grand, right?" Matt

"Cost and Quality
This is why some Conservatives and Liberals are trying to hold America's education system accountable for both cost and quality. Remember NCLB and AYP. The Administrators need to be held accountable for both, just like business managers are. Otherwise they would all hire the cheapest employees available." G2A

John said...

"Just like business managers are. Thanks for the laugh. While the naivete present in that statement is precious, I know you know better. Beyond that, I'll let the schools be run like a business when businesses let the public elect their boardrooms. Fact of the matter is, schools are not businesses, nor should they be. They shouldn't be a battlefield in the culture wars, nor should they be subsidized job training systems for corporate America. They should serve one purpose, turning out well informed, critically thinking, civic minded citizens, who can then go on to bigger and better things. Leave job training to business, culture wars to activists, and politics to politicians." Matt

"Please explain your indifference to the problem to the many kids who can't pass basic academic capability tests, graduate, get good jobs or go to college because the status quo education system is failing them.

Regarding quality and cost, I am very serious. Imagine what Apple would be worth if 25% of their product didn't meet the basic performance requirements like the Public School system, or it's costs were too high. They would be bankrupt and another company / model would be put in place.
" G2A

John said...

"Of course, Apple controls everything that happens in their design, manufacturing, and testing process. They design the product, choose the raw materials, and control the assembly and testing.

Public schools have to take whoever lives in their district, much of the important work required to be a successful student takes place outside of school walls and is not under their control, and they are subject to a politically driven testing and accountability system.

I don't think people are indifferent about the problem, it's just they have distinctly different ideas as how to solve it." Sean

"So do you mean management (ie the employees, the teachers and administrators in your example) or the business (ie the schools, and apple in your scenario). Managers fail continuously, especially at the highest level, one need only scan the business periodicals to see story after story of high profile folks being dumped. The key difference is that they don't suffer, they simply collect their winnings and move on to the next failure. Businesses file for bankruptcy continuously as well, passing the buck for their poor decision-making to their employees and creditors. Do you suggest either option for failing schools? I sincerely doubt you'd like to pay off then folks you consider at a level slightly above rat catcher, and we already know you don't want to pay for the schools themselves so what next? I think the real problem is that the metric for success you prefer, test passage, detracts from the metric I prefer, which I stated previously. You don't create well rounded, critical thinkers by teaching to the test, and by attempting to do both, as well as being forced to serve as de facto corporate training departments, schools and education has suffered. Put schools back on the duties I stated and see where they stand." Matt

John said...

This one is in moderation, so we may or may not see it.

Now you are in my world of expertise. Natural variability and surprises occur in all aspects of design, manufacture and test. The most successful companies and employees are those that manage it most effectively. I am amused by the idea that Apple controls Google Motorola and Samsung. If they do, they are doing a poor job.

As for indifference, it seems to me that many of the commenters here want to double down on a system that has left millions and millions of children behind.

Many Superintendents, Administrators and Teachers get buy outs to make them go away. The current system has delivered millions of adults who are not academically capable enough to get a good paying job. I think a change is worth the risk.

Nobody demands that the education system "teach to the test", but the students had better be able to answer the questions on the test if they want to go to college, a good technical college or get a high paying job." G2A

John said...

I forgot to add one point. If you look at 2 kitchen tables produced in the same production facility and they look identical to you, you are likely not measuring with a precise enough gauge. They most likely are both acceptable to the customer, however they are not identical.

One of the most challenging jobs I had as an engineer was determining what tolerance was allowable on each part so that all the parts would go together and work as correctly as a system every time.

Even the glass on an IPHONE varies as the tooling that makes it wears or the process varies between operators. The question is how to manage the variation and succeed. Is extra processing required to help the parts on the low side of the tolerance succeed? Then how do we best accomplish that goal?

John said...

Poka yoke is a funny term that means "Error Proofing".

All it means is that given the natural variability at the beginning of a process, how do we ensure that the parts at the end of the process meet the requirements.

It sounds cold to non-engineers, however it applies to kids as well as parts.

Sean is correct, there is a great deal of variation between children entering school. Some will fly through the process and some will require extra attention, care and attention. Identifying the kids who need extra help early is a poka yoke intervention. They may need year round schooling or another way to help them.

Seems better for them than just sending the system more money and hoping they use it wisely.

Laurie said...

I would keep the 20 year veteran and lay of the newbie, who should have little trouble finding another job.

If you changed your scenario to outstanding newbie vs poor performing veteran than I will keep the newbie.

Better yet, if my school is overall doing a good job and maintaining or increasing enrollment I wouldn't have to lay anybody off.

My school continues to have low test scores but a very dedicated staff and a strong sense of community, which keeps our enrollment steady/growing. btw here is a link to photos of our end of the year picnic, which I think the donation you made might have supported.

Banaadir Academy end of the year celebration

Laurie said...

I don't think my link worked, so here it is again.

Banaadir Academy picnic

Anonymous said...

John, Your original salary number for 20 YR teacher makes the assumption that they have not increased their education to a Masters!! If by their 20TH year they have a Masters Degree the will be paid around $68,500 in salary. Most people in other professions by year 20 probably have a Masters degree. Therefore, your comparison is understated and doesn't take into account the BENEFITS difference either. I would make the presumption that you can get two young teachers for each 20+ teacher in most school districts. The question becomes is the 20 year teacher TWICE as good as two 2 year teachers??

The NumbersGuy

John said...

My Rdale graph disappear from G2A,
so we can reference this image for a better understanding.

I agree that education and experience that result in better performance/results should be rewarded, but rewarding it for it's own sake is silly.

Your view, though not surprising, is what is wrong with the current system. It puts the welfare of the older education employees above the welfare and education of the children.

"I would keep the 20 year veteran and lay of the newbie, who should have little trouble finding another job." Laurie

John said...

The party looked fun, I'll try to remember to donate again this year.

Laurie said...

I was going to argue that schools are different than the private sector and merit pay wouldn't work well in schools, but it seems merit pay doesn't work well for CEO's either.

The Pay-for-Performance Myth

Also, I wouldn't want to work in any school run by you using your performance pay philosophy. I asked a couple of young teachers today what they thought about merit pay and both thought it was a bad idea because an effective school requires a great deal of teamwork. At my school it is very common to send a disruptive student to another classroom to take a break. Do you think teachers will want to do this and help each other in many other ways when they are competing for the highest test scores to get their merit pay and keep their job.

It's kind of funny how dismissive you are of teacher views on this and value your own inexperienced judgement on teacher pay scales so highly.

John said...

So the young Teachers you talked to thought it was okay that they were earning $38,000 while one room over the teacher with the same number of kids and challenges was earning $68,000? They didn't think that $48,000 and $58,000 would be more fair?

And they thought it was okay that they would automatically be fired if budgets had to be cut? No matter how smart, capable, energetic, effective, dedicated, productive, loved, etc they were.

And they were okay with leaving the less capable teacher with the kids just because he or she had seniority?

I am fascinated that Liberals are obsessed with CEO's when there is only 1 of them per company. 99.9% of the employees are compensated by the very logical processes I describe.

I know this may sound odd, but my performance is almost always dependent on my peers. (ie project manager... and I have no supervisor authority over any of them)

None of the people I work with shirk helping out as necessary. Team work, communications, creativity, etc are just some of the additional factors that are used to determine if we are productive and valuable employees.

I don't think I have heard anyone recommend using test score improvement exclusively to gauge performance. Though Liberals like to say that is the goal. You really must think your administrators are incompetent.

My supervisors happily pay me more than my less experienced and educated peers. My ability to handle bigger and more complicated projects justifies the expense. And the fewer problems that occur and the happier the customer, the better they look to their boss.

Laurie said...

I am attempting to imagine imposing your merit pay structure on a school like mine. Let's simplify it and assume an average teacher salary of $50,000 and a teaching staff of 30 people which includes 26 competent teacher, 2 who are noticeably outstanding and 2 who everyone knows have major difficulties managing their class.

Teachers might start at $35,000, prove themselves competent and jump to $50,000 which they remain at for the next 40 years (adjusted for inflation.) The poor teachers wouldn't get their raise and would quit after a few years, so they school could only afford to pay one teacher $65,000 for their outstanding service.

I would prefer to work my way gradually up the salary schedule, which I think might need to top out at maybe $60,000 after about 20 years, given the current funding of charter schools.

I would increase funding for charter schools so the whole pay schedule can shift upwards.

Other than teachers who struggle with class management I don't think the principal can easily rate which teacher is slightly better than that one. As the only spec ed teacher it would be hard to compare my performance with a gen ed teacher to determine how much raise I would get. I am sure I would be stuck at $50,000 with the ave. majority.

Most teachers are very dedicated and don't need merit pay to be motivated. We have been working to improve our reading curriculum this summer and about half the staff have been voluntarily coming in to weekly meetings for no extra pay. During the school year I show up to work at 6:30 and about 1/3 of the staff are there ahead of me (our 8 hr workday begins at 7:30 when students arrive) Most of the others stay an hour or two after the official work day ends. And just about everyone takes work home.

As I have mentioned before the only merit pay I support is some extra duties for extra pay for the most gifted teachers (i.e to be mentors.) I would even go so far as to have a pool of bonus $ available for teachers who go well above and beyond. I have 2 teachers in mind deserving of a bonus this past year. One (whose job is an education assistant) developed a reading buddy program where about 10 volunteers came in each week to meet with a student. The other put a ton of hours in planning the end of year picnic, (for which the whole staff worked about 5 extra hours to help pull it off the day of the event.

So back to my merit pay scenario, would you like to work 40 years with out a raise? I think you keep forgetting that teaching is not like private industry, as there is very little room for advancement. One is likely doing very much the same job year one as year 30 or 40.

John said...

Design Engineers are probably a good point of comparison. An experienced engineer doing similar duties probably only makes ~40% more than a new grad.

I am not sure why Teachers have such a huge pay difference between new grads and 25 yr vets. I assume it is because it is the 25 year vets who negotiate the steps/lanes.

If they are doing the same job with the same kids I think the pay differential should be <40%, not 100+%.

John said...

G2A Perf Mgmt 1, 2 & 3

Laurie said...

In my charter district the pay scale goes from $35,800 to $58,600 and takes 18 years to reach the top, which seems reasonable to me. I am sure we are paid lower than traditional districts,at least in part, due to our lower class sizes. Last year I think only one class had more than 20 students. This yr I think more classes will reach the cap of 22, which is about how many we can fit into our small classrooms.

I think most teachers seem okay with lower pay for fewer students, as it is frequently mentioned why people stay, although we do have somewhat high staff turnover (about 3-5 teachers each yr out of 30)

John said...

The good news then is that you folks are doing a good job since people are wanting to attend !!!