Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Iowa to Control Unions?

A liberal facebook friend posted this with concern.  NPR Iowa Moves to Limit Public Unions

Of course I think it is more important to put the needs of the students before the wants of adults, so we disagree.

I added some comments to MP Teacher Shortage that describe some of the problems.
"As long as ED MN is determined to choke the supply of good high performing Teachers from being licensed in MN, there will be shortages. That is what they want, it helps them when negotiating.

And then there are those terrible steps / lanes / tenure concepts that stifle completion also...  I keep hoping sometime we start putting kids first." G2A

"I am always amused by those that cite the evil empire of the MEA. As a former member of the MEA and also the United Food & Commercial Workers union I can say the former had a lot to learn from the latter. Our local MEA group that represented the interests of the teachers for all wage and benefit issues was a biology teacher, a civics teacher and a math teacher against the best labor lawyer in town, a school board member with large agri-business experience and a wily 30 year Superintendent of schools. They whipped our butts every time. And what our negotiators always came back with was: "well we did not get nearly what we hoped to in actual compensation; but, we did get a better benefit concerning X Y or Z". And the funny part is that by all that "winning" the comp battle and throwing a benefit bone to the workers made the current mess of pensions, 55 Year old retirees and other poorly funded mandates. If they had given an immediate raise and held back on the benefits the teachers would have been happier and the district likely better off in the long run. MEA vs. School District is a fair bargaining situation and the portrayal of the MEA as this omnipotent force that never loses is not reality.

And those terrible steps and lanes? The school identifies curricular goals that they believe will improve teacher performance and then offer incentives for teachers to achieve them. Again, as American as apple pie and a Trump hat. Acting like teacher's do not put kids first is dead wrong. Teachers and their ambitions, abilities and dedication are normally distributed, just like the ambitions, abilities and dedication of professional workers in the private sector and maybe more, because they made an initial career choice with full knowledge of income earning limitations." Edward
"I personally don't think ED MN is evil, I just think they are focused on doing good by all of their employees. Especially the older ones who are more likely to have power within the organization. And there are unfortunate consequences of maximizing the compensation and job security for the older employees.

ED MN apparently has ~70,000 members, I am pretty sure they can afford good Labor Lawyers and sizable donations to friendly politicians. Otherwise the citizens of MN would not allow:

- the most expensive Teachers to congregate in the schools with the easiest students.

- the newest and least expensive Teachers to be placed with the students who need "the best" Teachers.

- paying and retaining people based on years served and degrees earned instead of their actual performance and capabilities

- the new gifted Teacher needs to wait 10 years before they earn what they are worth." G2A

"I believe there are 330 school districts in Minnesota. Each of these is a unique bargaining unit that stands on their own for wage and benefit negotiation: So no, not every bargaining unit has the benefit of good labor lawyers. These wages and benefits are the result of fair bargaining. And ain't that the American way?

If you look around your company, I'll bet that those employees with the highest degrees and greatest number of years served correlate well with compensation earned.

The MEA is certainly concerned with the needs of their members; but, to suggest that there is not sincere concern for quality educational results reflects an opinion not based on first hand experience." Edward

"Sorry, but independent is a pretty weak concept when all of the 330 contracts and pay schedules are public documents. The reality is that they use each other as a "point of reference" to justify their newest demand.

Please remember one of my favorite sayings. "The road to hell is paved with good intentions." I agree that most teachers entered the field because they do care about children. Unfortunately the system, unions, and employment contracts cause all of the terrible issues I note above to occur.
Please address them if you disagree." G2A


John said...

Something I added on MP...

"Sorry, I forgot to address your other point. Actually I don't think degrees / years correlate closely to income in the private sector. I mean there are some cases where an expert can command a large wage because they know something few others do or they may simply have a natural gift for sales, etc. But I know many many degreed and experienced employees who were shown the door before others with fewer degrees or years served. The simple rule is that "One's perceived value must exceed One's perceived cost or One's job may be at risk."

And yes degrees and experience may get one an interview, but after that it is the person's connections, knowledge and communication skills that get them hired. And usually wages are tied directly to their level of responsibility. I make maybe 50% more than a less experienced Project Manager because my load and responsibility is larger / riskier, not because of years served or my multiple degrees.

And of course the problem with Teachers is that often their responsibility level is nearly the same whether they have 2 or 35 years of experience. They have similar class loads with similar students. The other problem is that an experienced multi-degreed Teacher may earn 2+ times as much as the 2nd year Teacher in the next class room even if their performance and workload are similar."

John said...

This is a timely article... Maybe I will agree with her on somethings...
AP DeVos Speech

""There is ample opportunity to really highlight the tremendous successes of so many magnet schools across the country," DeVos told a room full of teachers and advocates. "It's clear that the schools that you represent are doing a tremendous job on behalf of students.""

""I am really agnostic as to the delivery mechanism as long as we are focused on what a child needs and what is best for each individual child," DeVos said."

""The protesters' behavior is a reflection on the way some seek to treat our education system — by keeping kids in and new thinking out," DeVos said. "Friday's incident demonstrates just how hostile some people are to change and to new ideas.""

Though based on my experience, remember that Magnet schools are mostly more successful because they only contain students with Parent(s) who are smart enough, aware enough, and responsible enough to enroll their kids. This leaves many of the truly unlucky kids out of those school demographics.

John said...

Now back to the NPR Iowa article for a moment.

"About 180,000 state and local government workers would be prohibited from negotiating over issues including health insurance, seniority and extra pay. The legislation also leaves in place a provision that prevents workers from going on strike. And it includes provisions that would make it more difficult for unions to collect dues."

John said...

It seems to me that these 180,000 state and local employees simply want more income, benefits, job security, job selection rights, etc than would be available if they worked in the private work force. (ie market based)

And of course everyone would love these things, however their wants come at a huge expense to the students and/or tax payers. I mean it is pretty easy to understand that someone has to pay for those goodies, and/or the schools can not hire as many Teachers because each Teacher costs more..

If the public employee comp and benefits package is 20% too high (compared to free market), that means ~20% fewer staff can be hired. Which leads to larger class sizes, employees spread too thin, etc.

If a larger percentage of the budget is going to more experienced / degreed employees who are not more productive, carrying more responsibilities, etc that leaves less to entice and pay new high performing personnel.

And when times get tight and questionable employees are kept and excellent non-tenured staff is laid off, well that is just bad practice that harms the students, etc.

John said...

Coming from Private Industry, I just can not understand paying and retaining staff based mostly on their degrees and years in place.

I mean do we as consumers pay the roofer twice as much just because he has been doing it for 20 years?

Or do we hire the 3 yr roofer who has the same performance ratings and warranty and charges half as much.

Yet for some reason the Public Employee Union supporters insist on paying double as long as it is coming out of the tax payers pocket.

jerrye92002 said...

"This leaves many of the truly unlucky kids out of those school demographics." I have never understood your logic here; it seems to prove the exact opposite of what you claim. IF the students with good parents are trapped in a failing school and can do better elsewhere, why would you deny them that opportunity just because the "unlucky kids" do not exercise the same opportunity? Conversely, why would you deny the "unlucky kids" at least the same opportunity, whether they grasped it or not? Are you really saying that the parents who win these lotteries for slots in better schools are better parents than those who lose those lotteries?

As for the union issue, why should teachers belong to a union at all? Why are they not treated and paid as the professionals they are? All you need is a good merit pay system based on performance evaluation.

John said...

As we have discussed many times before...

Typically it is not a "failing school", it is typically a school that is full of unlucky failing children with failing parents.

Now every time we make it easier for the students and the funding that goes with them to flee their less fortunate peers, the density of the unlucky kids in the old school increases and things get worse for the remaining staff and students. (ie urban schools after decades of student flight)

Lastly, Teachers need unions because the tax payers and bureaucrats are not invested in paying public employees adequately. The management in my company is very vested in paying good employees well so they can make profits. Unfortunately the public system is not so clear cut.

I have nothing against Unions if they would start embracing pay for performance instead of pay for age and degrees...

jerrye92002 said...

Ah, but your notion of a "failing school getting worse" assumes that you have offered ONLY the "lucky kids" a chance to escape. While by your definition that is true, I point out that you have a definitional loop at work. Only the lucky kids can escape, and by your definition they are lucky because they escaped. But unless you offer that OPPORTUNITY to every kid and parent, how can you possibly know? And in any event, after the lucky kids escape, why don't we just close the "more-failing" school that remains? Obviously these kids can never learn anything.

I don't have anything against unions, either, except that their very existence runs counter to personal economic freedom and free markets generally. If the teachers start being paid for performance and treated as the professionals they are, the union becomes unnecessary and counterproductive, and they know it. If the MEA and NEA were truly "professional associations" it would be great, but we all know better.

John said...

Actually my definition of lucky / unlucky kids has nothing to do with which school they attend, and everything to do with if they are being raised by responsible capable knowledgeable Parent(s) or immature irresponsible incapable Baby Maker(s).

It is you who wants to exclusively blame the schools for the sins of the Baby Makers.

jerrye92002 said...

So then how can you determine that it is the parents of unlucky kids causing schools to fail? It would seem that every failing school must be 100% unlucky kids, by your definition, and every relatively successful school is 100% "lucky." It's simply not possible to sustain your definitions. The ONLY way to sort this out without blaming parents and letting schools off the hook in this polarized (by your definition) environment, is to give EVERY kid the opportunity to "escape" a failing school. Assuming that opportunity is real, those that choose to stay there are indeed unlucky, and it won't matter who their parents are.

John said...

Of course it matters who their Parents are, there are many successful kids within the schools that you label as failing.

Of course it is much harder for the children and Teachers as the proportion of the students in the classroom who are behind in their development and disruptive becomes larger over time. As more and more of the Lucky kids leave for greener pastures.

This is how urban and school decay happens, the good people stop fighting for their community/ schools and leave. And the old community and it's schools suffer.

And yes there are Unlucky kids in excellent schools like Wayzata. But the proportion is small enough that all those Lucky kids and their Parents can provide positive peer pressure and extra support. And having 3 of them in a 30 student classroom is much less challenging than having 15 of them...

John said...

Please remember that even though half the kids in Mpls are not proficient... Half are doing fine in the same schools. That gives you a good idea how many Baby Maker(s) vs Parent(s) there are in the district.

MN DOE Report Card

Now can the district improve some... Of course... But will the academic achievement gap be eliminated as long as Baby Maker(s) and poor neighborhoods are around... Probably not...

jerrye92002 said...

Of course you are correct. So why should those kids who might be MORE proficient somewhere else be denied the opportunity to do so? And why should the students who are NOT proficient not be offered that same opportunity? If the schools could do better, than is the fact they are NOT doing better the fault of the parents, or of the school? Why should a monopoly be allowed to damage all children, rather than permit competition to improve price and quality as it has in almost all other "businesses"?

If General Motors was producing unsafe cars, would the fact that 50% of the owners were NOT killed in an accident be considered good enough? Especially if that car was the ONLY one you were allowed to buy?

jerrye92002 said...

"...As more and more of the Lucky kids leave for greener pastures. This is how urban and school decay happens,..."

Yes! So your solution is to DENY the lucky kids that opportunity, and then deny the unlucky ones that same opportunity? Unbelievable!

John said...

The GM comparison is interesting though... Trying to compare a manufacturing company that has very strict requirements regarding the incoming materials...

To a Public school that has ZERO control over the children that show up at their door, how long they are in the school, how dedicated they are, etc.

Seems like apples and squash to me...

John said...

You are persistent to say the least...

"a monopoly be allowed to damage all children"

That strange belief that it is totally the school systems fault...

That strange belief that Baby Makers are blameless and should not be held accountable.

jerrye92002 said...

What is the premise of public education? It is that a "uniform system of public instruction" will provide equal opportunity for all to access the benefits and responsibilities of society, and should be provided by the government to insure that it takes place--i.e. not left to the constraints of individual resources. Where in the rules, regulations and legitimate expectations of the schools does it say that if you are a poor black kid, you get a junk education? And no, you cannot look for something better because we will not pay for it. If our kids are 27th out of 36 nations in international tests, how is that not damaging them?

I think the auto analogy is apt simply because of the promises inherent in the product. When GM sells you a car, you have reasonable expectations, whether stated or not, that it will not fall apart and kill you. If it DOES, why should YOU be the one "held accountable"? You are the injured party (and dead). Parents do not /willingly/ "buy" an education for their kid. It is a monopoly-- no choices-- and the kids are forced to attend. Where in there is there any responsibility of the parents for some sort of choice in the matter?

Now, if you want to hold parents "accountable" for their kids education beyond forced attendance, then you have to give them choices and the means to make those choices. Otherwise you are just punishing them, on top of the punishment you wreak upon their children. Two sticks, no carrots.

John said...

You can keep applying 100% of the blame to the school system all day long and it won't make it anymore real. :-)

And there is that annoying fact that the charters etc don't seem to do any better...

John said...

It is too bad the Unions fight change and improvement SO HARD... Maybe this whole topic would be a non-issue.

jerrye92002 said...

I'm not "blaming" the schools 100%, I'm suggesting that schools must be 100% of the solution. You have already pointed to that solution. Simply reverse the current system of government mandates-- that kids must attend school, teachers must be unionized, schools must be public entities, etc.-- with one based on freedom and choice. That is, every kid gets the voucher, and every school gets to accept that voucher AND to "contract" with parents for results. A kid who misbehaves repeatedly will eventually end up with the parent being offered the choice of getting the kid in line, or having to take him to a more expensive school that will put up with him. And a school which fails to deliver an education loses "customers" to the competition.

I propose a simple thought experiment. Pick one of these schools with 50% "unlucky kids" by your definition, or a "failing school" by mine. Now, offer every parent the opportunity to send their kids to a different school, a block down the street, for "free" just like the public school. Promise them that the school will be "safer," with a better discipline policy and that the "education" will be better and if not, they can come back. What percentage do you believe would move to that school initially? More than 50%, or less?

John said...

I know it is pointless to bring up the obvious flaws to your last comment, but I will try.

"every kid gets the voucher, and every school gets to accept that voucher AND to "contract" with parents for results."

Apparently schools get to cherry pick their students?

"the parent being offered the choice of getting the kid in line, or having to take him to a more expensive school that will put up with him."

What will you do with kids who's parent can not afford those "more expensive" schools? What will you do with Parent's who fail to fulfill this social obligation?

"a school which fails to deliver an education loses "customers" to the competition."

Companies fail often. They take the money, scrimp on the education, claim bankruptcy and leave customers high and dry. How will this be different?

"Promise them that the school will be "safer," with a better discipline policy and that the "education" will be better "

Promise are cheap. If the same student body relocates to a new school... I am unsure how this miracle will occur. Who will bear the burden if the promises are not met? Will it be with jail time or some other serious consequence? Or do they get to take the money and go bankrupt?

John said...

A good example of your last promise are Magnets, Charters and Open Enrollment in MN. The Urban parts of the Twin Cities have many many of these and yet the traditional schools are still full. That maybe speaks to how many would change schools for big promises.

jerrye92002 said...

It also speaks to the fact that these alternatives, regardless of apparent performance and difficulty of "entry" (i.e. they aren't next door) are ALSO full. And the publics ARE losing "customers" at a worrisome (to the public schools) rate. I think the obvious conclusion is that almost everyone who could "escape" given the REAL opportunity would do so.

And you keep pointing out all the potential pitfalls of these "alternative schools," but the present system represents no alternative at all-- it is not a choice, and certainly not a desirable choice, for the vast majority trapped in those schools. By all means, make the alternatives better if you can (and competition would generally see to that), but at least give these kids a chance. Something you missed was the "school within a school" concept, which I think would be great. The school admin "contracts out" to a private entity for instructional (admin and other) services within the current building. Offers a quick and "seamless" transition.

jerrye92002 said...

Public schools CAN improve:

A new study was recently released that shows that by “rewarding the best teachers they are also improving student learning.” These are just some of the findings in a report from Stanford University economic researcher Barbara Biasi who examined the first five years of results after the enactment of Governor Scott Walker’s collective-bargaining reforms, commonly referred to as Act 10.

Under Governor Walker’s trail-blazing public education reforms, school districts can create a marketplace for better and more effective employees. These “high-value added” teachers are sought after by school districts who seek to improve student learning by putting the most qualified teacher in each classroom. School districts are also allowed to “cap” the salaries of low-performing teachers in that district. These reforms also allow districts to abandon the union-imposed “step and lane” salary schedules that reward teachers on the basis of length of service rather than their classroom effectiveness.

The most impressive finding reported in the new study, however, is buried deep inside the report. Ms. Biasi found that “student math achievement rose significantly in individual-salary districts relative to salary-schedule districts due in part to improvements in the teacher workforce.” What a wonderful notion: kids achieve better test scores with teachers who have a proven track record in helping kids learn. Oh, and the teachers who help these students learn are paid more than their average peers.

The lessons from Wisconsin could be replicated in Minnesota but our governor has repeatedly rejected any changes in teacher tenure laws that would reward highly effective teachers and guarantee that every student has a great (and highly effective) teacher in their classroom. The Wall Street Journal recently commented on that “Act 10 may be the most successful public-policy achievement since welfare reform” and attribute most of its success to the leadership of Governor Scott Walker, saying that “Act 10 let schools pay better teachers more, and learning increased.”

Anonymous said...

It's basically a question of teaching to the test. That's always the concern with incentives.


jerrye92002 said...

I am perfectly happy with teaching to the test. At least the kids are learning SOMETHING. If that's not enough, then the test should be increased in scope. We should not accept subjective "measures" of academic achievement. I would accept some small portion of teacher incentive pay being based on subjective measures like parent or student satisfaction.

jerrye92002 said...

Oh, and the #1 factor in student achievement, found in all studies, is a "good teacher" or "teacher effectiveness." That's why in Mississippi we [used to, before federal intervention] put the best teachers in front of the students furthest "behind."