Sunday, March 22, 2015

MN Education Updates

Jerry made this most interesting comment.  "Again, you seem determined to reward bad choices, and then punish the kids for the bad choices their parents made, while letting the schools completely off the hook."  And I had to laugh at what the MinnPost folks would think about my supposed desire to let Unions, Teachers, Administrators, Politicians, etc off the hook. (MP Test Anxiety)  (MP Other ED Proposals)

On the upside, it seems that MN citizens are rational.   Star Tribune: Minnesotans Favor Performance Over Seniority  Hopefully those Union bought politicians will see it in their hearts to put the needs of students before those of children.

Parents United Omnibus Bills
MPR Education Big Winner in Dayton's Proposal
MPR House Passes ED Bill
MP Bill regarding Teacher prep


John said...

I am always amazed that you seem to think the Teachers are the only ones interested in what is best for the children. There is a very good reason why an administrator would place a student Teacher with an ineffective Teacher. The administrator's hands are tied on how soon they can get the poor Teacher out of the classroom, so placing a "helper" in the classroom would help the kids. (even if it would be bad for the student teacher)

Of course MAP tests can be part of the equation, if there are 6 similar classrooms in a school and the students in one are not progressing as fast as the other 5. (ie statistically different) That is a pretty good indicator that there is something wrong in that classroom, especially if the trend is aligned with other questionable measures. The schools administrators are also focused on the good of the children, I am not sure why the Union folk are desperate to villify them.

Of course if a 23 year veteran is getting twice the money as a 3 year veteran for the same or worse performance, I could understand why the 23 year veteran would be nervous. On the other hand, if the school could have twice the number of good Teachers for the same money... Wouldn't that be best for the children? And isn't that we all want?

As for heart surgery, I think I would take the 3 year veteran licensed surgeon who performs excellently over the 23 year veteran surgeon who has a checkered performance record. Especially if it means I can have better work done for half the fee.

jerrye92002 said...

I didn't say you wanted to let teachers, administrators, etc. off the hook. I said you wanted to let schools (aka the system) off the hook by claiming that 80% (your estimate) of the failure to educate was due to bad parenting. And I don't consider that all of these minor improvements are sufficient to move the needle very far unless the schools-- unions and "educrats"-- want to re-focus on student achievement.

John said...

I agree and disagree with you.

I agree that the following is needed to fix the 20%, "the schools-- unions and "educrats"-- want to re-focus on student achievement"

I disagree with you trying to draw a line between "schools" and "Unions, Teachers, Administrators, Politicians, etc". The reality is that schools are a building, the people that set the laws, work rules, contracts, laws, etc are who matter.

There are ~70,000 teachers in Ed MN and they can choose to control their union, I have no desire to let Teachers who believe as Ray does off the hook either. If 40,ooo teachers stand by and watch as 20,000 teachers vote themselves raises and undeserved job security at the cost of our children's education, all bear some responsibily.

Anonymous said...

Good or bad, I think we have to respond to choices that are made. With respect to children and schools, lots of choices parents make can be less than optimal in terms of how we teach our kids. But that's just something we have to live with. One thing we should never do is allow policy to be driven by descriptive or colorful language. Good policy isn't any less good because someone characterizes it as rewarding good behavior. And bad policy isn't any less bad because someone characterizes it as punishing bad behavior. Posturing doesn't raise test scores.


John said...

I am missing your point.

Anonymous said...

I was responding to this:

"Again, you seem determined to reward bad choices, and then punish the kids for the bad choices their parents made, while letting the schools completely off the hook."

It's obvious to me that schools are always on the hook for the choices, good or bad, others make. And that's as it should be.


jerrye92002 said...

"I disagree with you trying to draw a line between "schools" and "Unions, Teachers, Administrators, Politicians, etc".

Sorry, but long experience has taught me that good people in a bad system produces bad results. I really believe that most teachers, etc. are doing the best they can (maybe not the best they know how, because "the system" interferes). I think there should be fewer of them (especially administrators) and the teachers (best ones) should be paid more.

School board members aren't paid enough to make the hard decisions that must be made, even if it the authority was handed to them, and the unions and DFL politicians continue to mutually bribe each other from the money that's "for the kids." Again, that's "the system," not any individual politician (but union heads, IMHO, are thoroughly corrupt by the nature of their office).

That's why I think somebody needs to upset this lucrative sinecure by introducing real accountability and competition, by law. All it would take would be universal vouchers, or even mandatory vouchers for failing schools, as the original NCLB required. The other line of attack would be Right-to-Work plus merit pay for teachers, based on performance, which hopefully would break the union stranglehold on the system. Or both.

Neither of those highly effective measures seems to be in the hopper.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but long experience has taught me that good people in a bad system produces bad results.

I have noticed a tendency to believe that. My own belief is that good and capable people find ways to make systems work. Indeed they are the system.


Anonymous said...

real accountability and competition

I don't think education is a question of counting stuff. Those who don't do, teach. And those who can't teach become accountants.


jerrye92002 said...

"My own belief is that good and capable people find ways..." -- Hiram

Only if they are very outspoken and become part of an outspoken majority. The current power structure of unions and politicians makes that not just futile but punishable, and it just isn't done. "Speaking truth to power" is a great catchphrase, but even when it is righteous doesn't get you much except grief.

John said...

As long as Teachers keep rationalizing that this is "For the Kids", they are part of the problem.

Ed MN Advocacy

A police officer shoots a violent young Black man and we have protests demanding justice. We have Teachers supporting policies that harm millions of Unlucky kids each year and we have crickets...

Of course the Union members are responsible for standing by and taking their share of the extra compensation and job security.

jerrye92002 said...

But the teachers really BELIEVE they are doing it "for the kids." It's why most of them went into teaching rather than something more lucrative. And in fact, most of them are trying their best to do so, which is why most teachers who can opt to go where they can actually see learning taking place. And as long as it pays the same or better and is physically safer, why not?

As for "standing by and taking the benefits and job security," can you really blame them, given that they are locked into it? It's rather like the way we lock the poorest kids into the failing schools.

John said...

Since the Teachers make up the Union. (ie "Teacher's Union") They are the one's who hold the keys to their own prison.

However as is obvious, who is willing to lobby to potentially reduce their individual job security and income?

I would just like Ed MN and the Teachers to stop saying they are doing lobbying for tenure, seniority, steps/lanes, Teachers choose school, etc for the good of the students. Since it pretty clear that it harms the unluckiest students the most.

Laurie said...

I still think ending lifo will have very little impact and the legislature should be focusing on things that will actually make a difference. If 2000, teachers are laid off in a year, even under a new law many of them will still be new teachers.

jerrye92002 said...

"They are the one's who hold the keys to their own prison." Yes, and the first one out of his cell gets shot for trying to escape. The unions have done a great job of convincing teachers of their dependence on the union for salary, benefits and job security. There are reported cases where union members have stood against the leadership, only to find that the union ceases to defend them in sudden and suspicious dismissal actions. I don't think teachers are any more brave than the rest of us. To really make a change to a thoroughly-entrenched system, there needs to be an external influence.

Add to your litany of absurdities spouted by the union the notion that they are a "professional association."

John said...

I think you would be surprised how many older Teachers would be cut. Along with experience, years with challenging children can cause some Teachers to become cynical, exhausted, emotionally unstable, apathetic, entitled, etc.

I am not blaming the burnt out Teachers, however none of these qualities are "good for the kids".

Laurie said...

I can't recall any teachers that my children have had that deserved to be dismissed. Most of those who come to mind when I recall favorite teachers have been those with many years of experience. Maybe it is you who would be surprised at how few low performering teachers there are.

John said...

I have been incorrect before...

Of course if you are correct, then it is the Teachers and their Union that are making a mountain out of a mole hill.

My favorite Teacher horror story was a middle school math Teacher who finally became so emotionally unstable that she started crying in front of the class and talked about suicide in general a couple of times. It took a long time before she finally gave up and found a new calling.

Another was the Teacher would often lose the finished homework due to her disorganized manner. On the upside, she would just give the kids she liked full credit if they said they had handed it in.

Those 6th - 8th graders are a handful...

Laurie said...

I think many teachers oppose LIFO because they don't trust the evaluations. I worked in a charter school where higher paid staff were let go when their was a budget shortfall.

jerrye92002 said...

My experience is closer to Laurie's. I remember high school conferences where the kids, the other teachers, and other parents had all told us their was no point in stopping to see Mr. McCracken, and they were right. It only confused him further. but that was one of at least 75 teachers. May have been another not quite as bad, so say 3%? Of course, if you are one of them, you want the union protection and the tenure, and the other union members have been buffaloed into thinking they need it, too.

I'm also aware that longer-term employees just barely justifying their higher salaries are often let go and replaced with a younger, cheaper employee. That's poor management if the younger employee can't do the job (which is more than 50-50 likely). Experience matters.

John said...

As I explained in a MP comment:

3% X 70,000 Ed MN Teachers = 2100 Teachers

Times 25 elementary kids = 52,500 Kids negatively impacted each year.

Times 150 MS & HS kids = 315,000 Kids negatively impacted each year.

That 3% to 5% sounds small until one does the math on how many students it impacts.

jerrye92002 said...

It /IS/ small, even for the number of students. However, if you put them all in one school district, you could have ALL bad teachers in that district, or mostly bad teachers in a couple districts, or far too many bad teachers in each of several districts. And that would seem to be the case, looking at the achievement numbers. The problem here is that we don't seem to (yet) have a means of evaluating teachers and either forcing or coaxing them out of the profession, as the single most effective means of improving student achievement. I don't know of anything in the pending bills that will get us quickly to that sensible place, especially when most of these half-measures seem to have powerful opposition from the unions and their hirelings in the DFL.

John said...

I must say, you are definitely committed to your belief that unlucky kids fail due to bad teachers...

Though you may be somewhat correct, I don't see the brightest most balanced teachers signing up for that inner city challenge, when they get paid as much or more in Wayzata and the other outer ring burbs.

It seems to me they must be somewhat challenged or very dedicated to their work.

John said...

On the other hand, those young eager giving Teachers were likely in and trapped by tenure before the reality of the unlucky families set in.

So my guess is they have a typical mix of good and not so good Teachers. Though they may have more in the burned out stage.
G2A Silver Handcuffs

jerrye92002 said...

I simply point out the mathematical possibility that bad teachers accumulate in the poor-performing schools, and to the unassailable logic as to why that should be so. The number one predictor of academic success is a good teacher. You said that teachers who can get paid the same or better elsewhere would leave for the higher pay, and I would add that they would do so for the higher job satisfaction as well. The result is that there are three kinds of teachers left in these troubled schools: 1) a small minority who get job satisfaction from seeing 1 or 2 kids "get it," 2) the poor or young teachers who can't find something elsewhere, and 3) the burnout for whom the satisfaction of seeing kids learn doesn't matter. All of them contribute to a vicious circle of failure that, without major systemic change to the school environment, is unlikely to ever succeed. That's what the legislation is trying to do, but I don't see anything in it as much help.