Sunday, January 24, 2016

Public Teachers and School Choice

A gift from Laurie.

I do have a couple of links to stories on education that support your views on staffing public schools:

St. Paul teachers don't stick around in schools with greatest needs

Horace Mann and Obama Elementary at opposite ends of the scale


John said...

Not surprising, but still disturbing. A system that let's the most expensive and most experienced Teachers work in the simplest classrooms. While sending the least experienced and lowest cost Teachers to the most challenging classrooms.

The Union reps comments are interesting... I wonder if she would let them pay the Teachers less in the easier school to pay for the additional staff in the challenging school?

"Denise Rodriguez, president of the St. Paul Federation of Teachers, said the district's more appealing workplaces have effective principals who involve their teachers in decision making.

She suggested the district send more help to low-income schools -- the union has pressed for more counselors, social workers and nurses -- to make those schools more attractive to teachers.

"I think we need to reprioritize resources instead of shuffling teachers around," she said. "I don't think that's the answer to this.""

John said...

From Jerry.

Off-topic, but certainly interesting. The one thing that struck me was the comment (numbers from memory) "67% of SP teachers are white but only 22% of students are. An effort must be made to recruit more teachers of color." Once again, the problem is misdiagnosed and will remain unsolved. The problem is that teachers find work in these schools too challenging and opt out for something easier. BUT, if we only had BLACK teachers, what, they're too stupid to know it's challenging? Now science says the single most important factor in educational achievement is an effective teacher. Now I will concede that all things being equal, a black teacher may be better able to connect with black students, perhaps especially with younger ones. But are all things equal between any too teachers?

I like John's suggestion of paying teachers on merit (student achievement and class size) and adding a bonus for "degree of difficulty." But to do that the union pay structure-- the one dictating that age and papers are all that matter-- has to be scrapped.

jerrye92002 said...

Here's another thought, even more anathema to the unions: How about we give vouchers to parents (for the full value of the public school spend)and let them choose any school, public, private, religious, home, that suits them and will accept the voucher? Maybe we would find out that schools could do better, retain better teachers, etc. for the same or less money now being spent? We can certainly point to schools already doing it.

John said...

You may be able to point to them however usually you don't.

jerrye92002 said...

I don't because I don't deal in the specifics. I am speaking statistically, where at the state average of spending, schools vary over 2:1 in academic achievement. And at twice the average spending, achievement tends to be lower. In short, we keep talking about education spending as if it mattered. There must be a better way, and treating teachers like valued professionals--paid based on merit and challenge-- rather than as union drones is a good start.

John said...

Here is what I think of your statistically speaking.

Comic 1
Comic 2
Comic 3

jerrye92002 said...

Love the humor! Unfortunately for you, I have those statistics right here, straight from the MN Dept of Ed. Feel free to look them up for yourself.

And why complain when I agree with you about teacher treatment and pay?

John said...

Because though I wholeheartedly agree that the selfish rules supported by the Teacher's Union and their politicians are a definite problem and do harm to unlucky kids...

I have yet to find a silver bullet... All the "successful schools" I have found after years of research have entrance requirements, behavior contracts and a way to kick out the non-performers and special needs kids.

Therefore any high level comparison between St Paul schools and those are flawed from the start.

John said...

Eliminating the gap will require at least 3 things:

- Change status quo public education work, retention, compensation, assignment, etc rules so they meet the needs of the kids. Not the wants of the Teachers.

- Change policies so incapable and/or negligent parents do not have more children than they can personally afford. Enable society to be able to enforce this if needed.

- Change policies so that US has a stronger Parenting and Early Childhood Education program for questionable / young Parents.

jerrye92002 said...

John, in some sense you are correct that there is no silver bullet, because to repair a failing public school is going to require a combination of things to be done, successfully, over a number of years. On the other hand, we have close to that silver bullet in school choice.

As for "eliminating the gap" I think that is impossible, especially approached as you suggest. It is like attempting to turn the car by standing outside and pushing on the front wheels, rather than turning the steering wheel. Far easier to change those things we do control, like the public schools' funding and policies, then those things we do not, like social breakdown regardless of cause (and I will blame government for that, just not now).

We can and absolutely must REDUCE the gap, however. You have suggested that private schools do better because they have entrance requirements,and because they can expel difficult or troublesome students. So how is that different than having a school with rigorous testing followed by remedial effort like the RIF program? What about a school having a rigorous curriculum and high expectations, with talented teachers in every room, paid on the basis of student improvement? Why shouldn't a school have a strong and effective discipline policy, including, as many districts now do, a separate building (ours has bars on the windows) for those who need the extra discipline, short of the last-resort of expulsion? There are public schools everywhere doing one or more of these things to a greater or lesser degree. It would take a concerted effort and several years to turn that train around, but we never do.