Skip to comments.Myths of the Teachers Unions
Posted on 01/09/2007 8:12:11 AM PST by shrinkermd
...This is the most widely held myth about education in America--and the one most directly at odds with the available evidence. Few people are aware that our education spending per pupil has been growing steadily for 50 years. At the end of World War II, public schools in the United States spent a total of $1,214 per student in inflation-adjusted 2002 dollars. By the middle of the 1950s that figure had roughly doubled to $2,345. By 1972 it had almost doubled again, reaching $4,479. And since then, it has doubled a third time, climbing to $8,745 in 2002.
Since the early 1970s, when the federal government launched a standardized exam called the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), it has been possible to measure student outcomes in a reliable, objective way. Over that period, inflation-adjusted spending per pupil doubled. So if more money produces better results in schools, we would expect to see significant improvements in test scores during this period. That didn't happen...
...One reason for the prominence of the underpaid-teacher belief is that people often fail to account for the relatively low number of hours that teachers work. It seems obvious, but it is easily forgotten: teachers work only about nine months per year. During the summer they can either work at other jobs or use the time off...
The most recent data available indicate that teachers average 7.3 working hours per day, and that they work 180 days per year, adding up to 1,314 hours per year. Americans in normal 9-to-5 professions who take two weeks of vacation and another ten paid holidays per year put in 1,928 working hours. Doing the math, this means the average teacher gets paid a base salary equivalent to a fulltime salary of $65,440.
(Excerpt) Read more at frontpagemag.com ...
By the way, the reason performance does not improve that much is student's abilities don't improve that much. IQ is on a Gaussian distribution (Bell Curve) and the parameters of this have been known for 100 years. Known in obscure academic articles but known.
Public Schools use to teach the core academics needed to succeed in the working world. Now schools have become involved in social experiments and have taken on the roll of "parent" in much of this country's public school system. There is way too much time given to dealing with social and behavioral problems as compared to direct teaching of academic skills. Having worked in Public Schools for the past 12+ years, this is my observation.
More money is being spent, not on teaching academics, but on dealing with repairing the torn social fabric which used to be taken care of in the home and within the general community.
Add in teachers' pensions, too, often matched by the state, or in the case of CA and some other states, wholly provided by the state. In other words, the state pays for the teachers' retirement, as opposed to workers funding their own 401(k). In CA, the "average" public teacher will get over $500,000 in pension payments over the course of their retirement, for "free".
Having taught high school before, though, I can tell you that the hours are as long as in the private sector, though the point about having the summers off is valid.
The reason performance hasn't improed has nothing to do with IQ and everything to do with a dumbed-down or useless curriculum.
What I have seen is that many teachers have little choice but to ignore 90% of their students, and just focus on the one kid with special needs. I would say that a mainstream class in a public school cannot possibly give these kids what they need. Therefore, when the teacher ignores 90% of the class so that she can focus on one kid with special needs, then 100% of the students are short-changed (at great financial cost, too).
I'd like to see vouchers in place, so that 90% of the kids can go to private schools. The 10% of the students with special needs should go to government schools where everyone on staff is trained to work with special needs kids. I believe it would be cheaper and all the kids would be better off.
No question that teaching salaries have increased, but then they better damn well have since salaries in every other profession have as well, and teaching is a very labor intensive business. It's hit the teaching profession particularly hard because of the womens' movement. There was once a time when a career woman had a choice between being a teacher and being a nurse. As a result, there were a large number of very qualified women in the teaching profession. Not anymore.
Another problem with our schools is that that they have strayed too far from the 3 Rs, and have become mired in the tarbaby of partisan politics. The other problem is that they have put so much pressure on kids to graduate, that they don't acknowledge the fact that some kids just can't handle it, and should not be there. Get the thugs out of the schools, and things will turn around real quick.
You know I think Ann Coulter described it best in her most recent book,...If you went into teaching, because you cared so much about children, you obviously weren't thinking about the paycheck in the very beginning. After all what moron goes into teaching with ideas of making mega bucks from that salary? The unions use the jaded attitude of teachers to their advantage to say "you're worth more than cops and fireman"
In our mobile societies, few of this month's graduating high-school seniors have been with the same classmates for 12 years. But if you know such students, think back to the pupils who, at 5 years old, were pint-size math whizzes and spelling champs. Now match those memories with the seniors at the top of their class. You'll likely find a near-perfect match.
That raises some disturbing questions. Why doesn't 12 years of schooling raise the performance of kids who start out behind? Can you really tell which toddler is destined for Caltech?
For as long as there has been a science of intelligence (roughly a century), prevailing opinion has held that children's mental abilities are highly malleable, or "unstable." Cognition might improve when the brain reaches a developmental milestone, or when a child is bitten by the reading bug or suddenly masters logical thinking and problem solving.
Some kids do bloom late, intellectually. Others start out fine but then, inexplicably, fall behind. But according to new studies, for the most part people's mental abilities relative to others change very little from childhood through adulthood. Relative intelligence seems as resistant to change as relative nose sizes.
One of the more striking findings comes from the longest follow-up study ever conducted in this field. On June 1, 1932, Scotland had all children born in 1921 and attending school -- 87,498 11-year-olds -- take a 75-question test on analogies, reading, arithmetic and the like. The goal was to determine the distribution of intellectual ability. In 1998, scientists at the Universities of Edinburgh and Aberdeen tracked down 101 of those students, then 77 years old, and administered the same test.
The correlation between scores 66 years apart was a striking .73. (A correlation of 1 would mean no change in rankings; a correlation of .73 is very high.) There is "remarkable stability in individual differences in human intelligence" from childhood to old age, the scientists concluded in a 2000 paper.
In the U.S., two long-running studies also show the durability of relative intelligence. The Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, launched in 1998, tested 22,782 children entering kindergarten. As in the Scottish study, individual differences in mental ability were clear and persistent. In math and reading, when the children were sorted into three groups by ability, ranking stayed mostly the same from kindergarten to the end of the first and third grades. Some gaps actually widened.
The National Education Longitudinal Study tested 24,599 eighth-graders on several subjects, including math and reading comprehension, in 1988 and again two and four years later. "There was a very high correlation between the scores in eighth grade and in 12th grade," says Thomas Hoffer of the National Opinion Research Center, University of Chicago. Again, rankings hardly budged.
He suspects that the way schools are organized explains some of that. Eighth-graders who show aptitude in math or language are tracked into challenging courses. That increases the gap between them and their lower-performing peers. "It's not that [relative student performance] can't change, but that standard practices in schools work against it," says Mr. Hoffer.
Now there is evidence that cognitive ability, or intelligence, is set before kids sit up. Developmental psychologist Marc Bornstein of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and colleagues followed children for four years, starting in infancy with 564 four-month olds. Babies' ability to process information can be tested in a so-called habituation test. They look at a black-on-white pattern until their attention wanes and they look away, or habituate. Later, they're shown the pattern again. How quickly they sense they've seen the image long enough, or have seen it before, is a measure of how quickly, accurately and completely they pick up, assimilate and recall information.
The scientists evaluated the children again at six months, 18 months, 24 months and 49 months. In every case, performance mirrored the relative rankings on the infant test, Dr. Bornstein and colleagues reported this year in the journal Psychological Science. Such stability, he says, "can entice" scientists to conclude that inborn, inherent, even genetic factors determine adult intelligence. But he believes crediting nature alone would be wrong.
For one thing, these tests don't measure creativity, gumption, character or other ingredients of success. For another, there are many cases of kids catching up, as when Mexican immigrant children in the U.S. start out with math skills well below their U.S.-born white peers but then catch up, says education researcher Sean Reardon of Stanford University. And as those familiar with management training and military training show, it's possible to turn even the most unpromising candidates into leaders.
That leaves the question of how current education practices (and, perhaps, parenting practices) tend to lock in early cognitive differences among children, and whether those practices can be changed in a way that unlocks every child's intellectual potential
--great article--needs a repost--
Cops and firemen are there for when parents and teachers fail.
Pressure on the kids to graduate ? Many schools have less than 50% of their population graduate - where's the pressure ?
The teachers and educators may not be the best but he real problem is that big city and inner city schools (white, black and other minority) students on the average have an IQ of 85. At this IQ level one half cannot graduate from a regular high school.
You may dumb down the standards or just give them a diploma but it will mean little or nothing. Employers have learned this and that is why they look for "some college" or college graduates.
Whenever I tell this to a teacher they accuse me of misfeasance at the very least. A good summary of this issue of urban flight and IQ can be found: HERE
As much as I like President Bush, "No Child Left Behind" is doomed to failure not because of the teachers or the educational system but becasue of basic human nature and its inequalities.
Same in Nevada. Additionally, teachers here don't pay Federal SS Tax, either, but can collect it if a deceased spouse paid into it. Pretty sweet deal (although they won't admit it).
They push them, believe me. They might not actually graduate, but they still stick it out, and they are encouraged to stick it out. The result is that you've got a lot of kids who aren't going to graduate, and don't give a damn, and yet, there they are, they are gobbling up the resources and creating a learning environment that is bad for those who do want to learn.
"When school children start paying union dues, that's when I'll start representing the interests of school children." The words of John Dewey, a founder of America's public education system, also fit nicely into Coulter's state-of-the-classroom address: "You can't make Socialists out of individualists -- children who know how to think for themselves spoil the harmony of the collective society which is coming, where everyone is interdependent." Coulter responds, "You also can't make socialists out of people who can read, which is probably why Democrats think the public schools have nearly achieved Aristotelian perfection."
These people are asking the wrong questions. IQ is a measure of potential or capability, not achievement.
When schools don't successfully teach reading anymore, forget grades above the 3rd - no kid with any potential will make it without reading skills. It is all just a colossal waste of time.
Let's not even get into the introduction of calculators at 3rd grade.
There are curriculums that have proven themselves over thousands of years - like phonics - yet our schools refuse to use them in the face of all research pointing to success.
Our kids are dumber in terms of skills than any generation prior - yet we still say IQs are rising in the population as a whole.
Forget the IQ crap - people with IQs under 70 have learned to read with phonics - yet we cripple kids with IQs of 140 with the whole word method.
When researchers start pointing out stark truths about curriculums, then I'll care about IQ.
You can't eat off your IQ; only skills will get you a decent income.
If we just spent enough money in public schools, every kid would be above average.
Because they are given no choices, obviously. Yes, there are plenty of kids who would be far better off being apprenticed to a trade at age 14 or so, but we don't do that anymore.
Why ? Because of the PC bull that all kids are capable of going to college. So now college is dumbed down to accommodate these kids. Second reason why - the unions don't want the kids in the workforce, nor do they want unionized teachers done out of jobs teaching them.
It's not the fault of these kids that they are given no choices. The adults are the idiots for trying to fit square pegs in round holes.
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