Monday, October 12, 2015

Education Funding Growth

Laurie said this in the last post.
"Teachers have been using standards to guide their teaching for about 15 years (or more) and education spending has been flat for many years. There is no sizable increase in spending also caused by the Union / Education Bureaucracy. Some of your other opinions are probably based on faulty facts, too. Those 2 bits of misinformation just jumped out at me."
I think she is so incorrect here that it is worth further discussion.  You can expand the following image by touching it or accessing it at the source.


Now I know that some of the 1% to 6% of GDP growth was due to huge changes in the special education laws and an expansion of what was expected from our schools.  However it is silly to think the massive education bureaucracy, unions, higher education compensation, management structures, etc did not cause a significant chunk of the cost increase.


My Grandma was actually a school teacher in Porter MN back in the 1940's /50's. I am thinking costs were real low back then and she likely did not make too much, but she was respected as a Teacher back in that little local school.  And if the kids misbehaved, it was the kid who got the punishment not the Teacher.


Now instead of a local school board and Teachers handling the education of the local kids.  We have to pay for lots of local, state and federal personnel as well as Union management /Collective Bargaining settlements that give more to the adults by taking it from the students. (ie  compensation and job security based on longevity / degrees, not based on results student/parent satisfaction)


"faulty facts"...  really :-)

45 comments:

Laurie said...

how to read a graph is one of the state standards my students work on in math. In. 1970 education spending is 5% of GDP. In 2015 education spending is about 5% of GDP.

You would make a more convincing argument that education spending has increased by using inflation adjusted dollars.

btw, my grandma taught in a one room school around 1910. She even attended some teacher training, I think in st. cloud, to increase her pay.

John said...

I think she was born in 1898, so she probably taught from 1920 to the 1950's when they closed the Porter school.

John said...

Maybe 5.5... Using GDP is better than inflation adjusted dollars. It adjusts for inflation and population growth.

My Grandma went to Mankato way back when.

John said...

Laurie,
Now why is it so hard for you to acknowldege that Unions and the Education Bureaucracy have significantly increased the cost of K-12 education in America?

I mean the primary purpose of Public Employee Unions is to increase the wages, increase the benefits, increase the job security, reduce the work load, reduce the stress/risk, etc for their members. These goals by themselves probably increase the costs of our public schools by 20+% on their own. Which means we can only hire 5 teachers instead of 6 with the same funding.

Then Unions and Governmental rules drive schools to spend many thousands of hours on processes, auditing, paperwork, etc. Along with everything else...

Anonymous said...

So I guess the question is, "How much of the GDP should go to education?"

--Hiram

Sean said...

Do we believe that lowering the salary and benefits for teachers while increasing their workload and stress is going to improve the talent pool of folks that choose to become teachers?

jerrye92002 said...

I'm all for paying teachers well, or better, but I want them to have the freedom to excel and to be rewarded for it. But that's not what's happening. The last levy referendum passed in my school District was supposedly to go to "excellence." And the first official act after passage was to give the teachers an 18% pay hike over two years. "Excellence" didn't seem to change.

Anonymous said...

The problem is that teachers are that motivated by cash rewards. Incentive wise, it's pushing on a string. If they wanted to get rich, they would have become investment bankers.

--Hiram

John said...

Sean,
Strangely, I believe the answer is yes.

Our current system encourages people to become Teachers who are okay with a compensation plan that rewards time served & degrees, not productivity and results. These are people who are okay with being under paid for 10+ years and at higher risk of termination for 3+ years, just in hopes of having higher job security and compensation 10+ years in the future.

The current system does not reward extra effort to help the kids. The steps, lanes, tenure and work rules determine your compensation, job security and advancement no matter how good you are at your job or what efforts you make.

What highly motivated bright driven young person is going to be drawn to this bureaucratic nightmare that encourages and rewards the status quo?

When they can become an accountant, engineer, scientist, etc and make 50+% more income in 5 years through hard work, taking risks, taking on more responsibility and performing better than their peers. And they will never have to sit next to a peer who is doing the exact same job and being paid twice as much, just because they have been doing that job longer.

Laurie said...

My school is nonunion and we have 4 open teaching positions that no one is even applying for.

Why are you so determined to pay teachers like nonskilled labor?
What do you think teachers deserve to be paid?

We currently have only 2 teachers doing small group intervention in a school of 350 students with about 15% on track to pass the MCA. We need more teachers.

John said...

Laurie,
If your school does not have enough money to attract qualified Teachers, I think you should be asking Ed MN and the Democratic politicians why this is. Not me.

I think your school should receive the same funding as the "Union / Status Quo Public Schools", it is Ed MN who has been pushing for decades to ensure Charters stay underfunded and without good buildings.

Sean said...

"Strangely, I believe the answer is yes."

Can you provide any comparable examples of where this has occurred before?

Laurie said...

You just seem to imply every chance that you get that teachers are overpaid.

John said...

Sean,
Please expand / detail the question. "where this has occurred before"

Laurie,
I just clearly noted that some Teachers are under paid.

"people who are okay with being under paid for 10+ years and at higher risk of termination for 3+ years"

I think you are looking for things to disagree about.

John said...

Oldies but Goodies.
G2A Teacher Compensation
G2A Benefits of Tenure

Sean said...

I asked "Do we believe that lowering the salary and benefits for teachers while increasing their workload and stress is going to improve the talent pool of folks that choose to become teachers?"

You responded: ""Strangely, I believe the answer is yes."

I'm asking if you can point to a comparable situation where this has occurred in the past as a guide to understand how this could reasonably be expected to occur? Because a traditional understanding of labor markets says that if you reduce pay and increase workload, you're not going to get more highly qualified folks to enter the field.

John said...

G2A Teacher Improvement Bill
G2A Lynn is Right
G2A Class Evaluation Forms

John said...

"if you reduce pay and increase workload, you're not going to get more highly qualified folks to enter the field"

I guess I answered prematurely... First we should have discussed your belief that I am advocating for only "reduced pay and increased workload"...

I think my answer explained that some people would get less money and some would get more. After ~24 years of working experience, I likely make ~50% more than the entry level Project Engineers. And being a pragmatic person I am aware that I had better be adding 50% more value or one day I will be laid off. (ie handle bigger or more complicated projects, better results, etc)

So what I am advocating is not "lower pay and more work", it is the correct pay for the level of responsibility and results attained by the employee. No more of this reverse age discrimination...

A great 27 year old Teacher should be making more than a mediocre 55 year old Teacher who has a very similar class right next door... Not half as much.

Do you disagree with that simple logical statement?

Sean said...

"A great 27 year old Teacher should be making more than a mediocre 55 year old Teacher who has a very similar class right next door... Not half as much.

Do you disagree with that simple logical statement?"

Yes and no. Your employer doesn't pay all their engineers the same base rate then give out performance pay on top of it to distinguish the good versus the mediocre performers. Veteran engineers are going to get paid more up front, because they have experience and a track record of performance. Outstanding young engineers should get chances to move up the salary ranks more quickly based on performance. I would say the same should apply for teachers.

Anonymous said...

"A great 27 year old Teacher should be making more than a mediocre 55 year old Teacher who has a very similar class right next door."

The question sort of is, if we compensated the great 55 year old teacher according to his value, how could we afford the wet behind the ears 27 year old whom he mentors.

--Hiram

John said...

Sean,
Veteran engineers will be paid more if they are good performers and use that experience wisely. Veteran engineers will also be demoted or let go if their perceived cost is deemed to exceed their perceived value. Remember: I got ousted from my previous job because me and a senior manager clashed...

5 year engineers can easily make more than 30 year engineers if they are more skilled, motivated and capable. I was at or above some of my 30 year peers by year 7... They were great solid employees who did a good but not a great job. They liked to punch the clock and I was a young driven smart aggressive workaholic.

I agree that the same model should apply for Teachers. The best Teachers with the most challenging positions should be paid the most. And if a Teacher slips in capability or drive, they should be demoted or let go. This is what would be best for the kids, especially the unlucky ones.

John said...

Hiram,
You are reminding me of my father.
"Sonny, You must respect your elders no matter what."

Of course he dislikes my answer.
"Father, Not all old people are wise."

I thought you were against prejudice and discrimination!!!

And yet here you seem certain that the 55 year old Teacher is wiser and more capable than the 27 year old Teacher. And I can guarantee you after 16 years and ~hundred Parent / Teacher conferences, many of the RDale 27 year old Teachers are much more capable than their 55 year old peers.

On one side it is a good thing... We pay the 27 yr olds little and great great things...

Of course the down side is we pay those questionable 55 year old Teachers twice as much, can't fire them and the kids get less.

jerrye92002 said...

Basically you are all saying the same thing, that teachers should be paid what they are worth. The only requirement is that we have some sort of merit pay system and it really isn't that difficult. I've lived under a merit pay system for most of my career, and it always has the same basic components: 1) An assumption that your raises will keep you apace with inflation, 2) consideration of where you are in your job classification-- that is, if you're at the bottom of that pay grade you can get a bigger raise than if a raise would bust you out the top, and 3) how well did you perform against objectives? For teachers, we would have to set pay grades for "apprentice, journeyman and master" teachers, and rate performance based on academic improvement of their students over the year and HOW MANY students were taught. Master teachers would also be scored on how well their apprentices were learning the trade.

Look, I applaud those who want to mold young minds and make the sacrifices-- personal and financial, even emotional-- required to take the job. I'm not as happy with those who fit the old adage of "those who can't, teach" and a true merit pay system would reward the former and gradually rid us of the latter. I'm also convinced that such a pay system would tend to drive better results across the board, so long as the teachers were given the freedom to teach in their own way.

As for the costs, I still claim costs per pupil are much higher today, with almost no significant improvement in results.

John said...

The challenge here though is that for some reason Teachers appear to think that their Managers are evil vindictive people who are looking to fire them for enjoyment or something...

In my experience Managers tend to fail on the side of keeping questionable / difficult employees too long. This is for logical reasons... They don't want the drama of firing someone, they don't want to do the paperwork, they don't want the work, cost and stress of hiring and training a replacement.

Even in my case, Cowboy Bob and I had been bumping heads for 2 years before a business downturn gave him the opportunity and motivation to lay me off.

John said...

So if Sean and Laurie start from a place that believes and deeply fears the politicians, school board, district administration, principals, etc don't value good Teachers and are going to fire them to save a few bucks, how in the world does one help them get over this irrational fear?

Personally I think the pay structure is a big part of the problem. Since they do not have clear "Teacher Responsibility Levels" like you describe, it is very hard to justify 2 Teachers in adjoining classrooms with a 100% difference in pay. And the only measureable difference being their age.

Sean said...

"So if Sean and Laurie start from a place that believes and deeply fears the politicians, school board, district administration, principals, etc don't value good Teachers and are going to fire them to save a few bucks, how in the world does one help them get over this irrational fear."

It's not irrational. Teachers began demanding tenure because teacher firings were often arbitrary or designed to silence those who held unpopular opinions or wanted to make changes. Just because Cowboy Bob was bad to you doesn't mean that everybody should be subject to the whims of capricious managers.

John said...

Cowboy Bob was easy to predict. He wanted to surround himself with yes men. And I know you will find it hard to believe... That is not one of my strengthes. :-)

So he really wasn't Capricious: "changing often and quickly; especially : often changing suddenly in mood or behavior: not logical or reasonable : based on an idea, desire, etc., that is not possible to predict".

He was the Boss who was responsible for delivering quality results on budget. Therefore he chose to surround himself with those that were likely to do what they were told when they were told. That was his personal style and it apparently served him well during his career. Thankfully for my friends who are still there and the business unit, the subsidiary president and Bob were "retired" within a year of their causing the business downturn and my layoff.

John said...

So why do you think we have school boards, administrators and principals?

How exactly do you envision them helping the unlucky children in the district if "every one gets a vote"?

How many sports teams out there would be successful if the coach was forced to keep every player and play them just because they were there when they arrived?

Again this "Protecting the Teachers" sounds nice, except in that it is sacrificing the kids to do so.

Sean said...

You're arguing against a strawman again, John. No one is arguing that poor-performing teachers can't be fired.

John said...

"Teachers began demanding tenure because teacher firings were often arbitrary or designed to silence those who held unpopular opinions or wanted to make changes."

Sean,
If you really want schools to help unlucky kids, the management needs the freedom and authority to remove people from the team who do not actively support and enthusiastically work towards a common vision, goal, processes, etc. And those who do not mesh with the squad.

The current system requires terrible performance from a Teacher and 1+ years of trying to fix it before they can be terminated. One of our math Teachers became mentally unstable and would break down in front of the class and discuss suicide. It took ~2 years before she was finally gone. Was that fair to the 200+ kids who were exposed to her during those 2 years.

Others who are just passive aggressive and obstructionist towards management can never be fired. Because they are just "expressing their opinion"...

Back to the choices:

Do we trust our school boards, supt, principals, etc to do what is best for the kids or don't we?

Do you really want to help the most unlucky of students? Or to protect questionable / obstructionist Teachers?

Imagine a Football team where the players are free to vary somewhat from the playbook and openly disagree with the coaches with no concern regarding negative consequences?

John said...

Food for Thought

RFT Contract See Page 28
MN 125.12
MN 122A

And all of this bureaucracy and process appears to be above the normal employment law that protects us normal folk from discrimination and wrongful termination...

Why would we want to make it so hard to remove Teachers from the classroom who are not aligned and working toward the goals of the School District and the needs of the kids? I just don't get it.

Sean said...

Maybe you've got a bad contract in your district. I've read our contract, and it gives pretty broad latitude to our staff and school board on these issues. Obviously, some steps require going through the grievance process, but my discussions with folks regarding getting rid of bad teachers center around principals and administrators not doing the work to properly document how a teacher is failing to perform their job.

jerrye92002 said...

That's one of the beauties of a merit pay system. Those that perform well get rewarded as everyone thinks they ought to be (and taking into account age and experience), well those who don't measure up find their raises smaller and further between until they eventually decide to find other work. The other advantage to the apprentice/journeyman/master pay grades is that there is coaching assistance available to those who aren't making the grade, something given short shrift under current union rules.

John said...

Well East Carver's is shorter. Page 26 looks pretty familiar though...

District 112 Teacher Contract

District 112 All Contracts

I love the statement... "Discipline shall be administered for good and sufficient reason."

John said...

Page 34 is also very interesting. The second asterisk does give hope. Though it doesn't describe if there is a demotion process.

Laurie said...

My principal let one teacher go last spring, I think due to he had the lowest of our low test scores. Maybe the principal is wishing that he kept him on now that he can't find teachers to hire.

as for how to pay teachers - what I know of charter schools is I think most keep steps and lanes. I do know of one that the director paid people whatever she wanted, which to my knowledge she paid some people very low because she could. That director has since been fired by the school board, I think because of the way she treated staff.

John said...

By the way, then it is working !!! The Principal violated the mission, vision, values, goals, processes, etc of the school. The management took this seriously and fired them.

Whether they are using Steps / Lanes or paying for capability would be hard to tell. Many times experience and education do help personnel to be more effective. Therefore experienced people are offered more challenging positions and more income initially. Then if the person ends up having a value that is less than their cost, they either demote them, don't give them raises for awhile or fire them.

Laurie said...

I thought you hated steps and lanes as that is how all the traditional districts pay their teachers. My experience with charters is the schedule is much more compact, usually 2 lanes- bachelors and masters- and maybe 15 steps.

John said...

Laurie,
It is hard to hate steps/lanes, they are just a table of numbers.

What I disapprove of is compensating, ensuring job security and assigning personnel to positions based solely or mostly on seniority and degree level.

If the steps and lanes were based on "class/job challenge" and "employee performance level" and Teachers could move up and down depending on what and how they are doing, then things would better for the students. Especially the unlucky ones.

This would mean the Teachers who accepted challenging positions and did well there would be the most highly compensated Teachers. Whereas today the most senior and highly compensated Teachers often use their seniority to get assigned to the "good / lower challenge schools".

And today if a Teacher starts to lose their zip in later years... As far as I know they keep their higher compensation, which makes no sense...

jerrye92002 said...

"And today if a Teacher starts to lose their zip in later years... As far as I know they keep their higher compensation, which makes no sense..."
Again, something handled completely satisfactorily and transparently by a good merit pay system. A teacher that nears the top of the pay grade (for their classification) will get progressively smaller raises at larger intervals, and eventually other teachers will catch up or even pass, if they continue to improve. A teacher that "burns out" or "starts to coast" before reaching the top of their class, again, will get smaller raises at larger intervals, probably keeping up with inflation but barely, while those who continue to improve sail on by.

I am still concerned by your concern that teachers take the easier jobs. There shouldn't be that much difference in schools if they were run properly. When things like personal, physical security enter the equation something is wrong. But I'm also aware that districts have no earthly idea what's going on. When they told me that, without more pay, "we're losing all our good teachers," I asked: how many teachers left last year, how many left for reasons of pay within the profession versus some other reason, and how do we know those were the "good teachers." The answer to all was "we don't know."

John said...

"There shouldn't be that much difference in schools if they were run properly."

You are so amusing when you say naive things like that.

It is kind of like saying that poor people shouldn't be poor because there should be no difference between them and successful middle class citizens. Of course we know there are many belief and behavior differences between these groups, which lead to very different outcomes for them and their children. And these differences come to school with the children.

G2A Why are Poor People Poor?

John said...

By the way, are you ever going to give me the name of that very special school that works miracles with a truly random sampling of urban K-12 kids?

After all my research, I have yet to find one. Most rely on contracts with the Parents / Students that allow the school to expel the family if the Parents / Students do not perform. I am certain that the Urban Inner City schools would love to only have Parents / Students who are committed to good behavior, doing their homework, coming to conferences, etc.

Kind of like the typical family in Wayzata, Orono, etc schools...

jerrye92002 said...

"After all my research, I have yet to find one. Most rely on contracts with the Parents / Students that allow the school to expel the family if the Parents / Students do not perform. I am certain that the Urban Inner City schools would love to only have Parents / Students who are committed to good behavior, doing their homework, coming to conferences, etc."

You have your answer. Any of the schools that you mention are "operated properly" and, over time, don't show "that much difference" between them and other schools operated properly, whether by internal controls (brought with the students from home), or controls imposed by the schools. Now I know you're going to say that public schools can't do these things. Why not? I know, there's no miracles and some student demographics make it harder. I don't care; that's no excuse not to try.

John said...

"Why not?" The laws and courts have said so.

Now if you want to change the laws so that traditional Public Schools can permanently expel troubled and neglected kids, then we may be able to compare publics, charters, magnets and privates on a head to head basis.

Unfortunately that is unlikely since the Public Schools are even required to "Teach" at great cost special needs children who have almost no capacity for learning due to their disability.

I mean a whole "District" was built around this challenge.

jerrye92002 said...

Yes, I would like to change the laws so that kids who do not behave themselves in the schools are removed from them, just like we remove criminals from society. But we also must insist that the schools make it easier to follow the rules and learn, rather than break them and fail. At the same time, we will hold schools accountable for results, & give them the freedom and funds to succeed.