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.
The 2000 US Census accounted for 92 different ancestries with at least 100,000 American citizens. In most major metropolitian areas, more than 100 languages are spoken as the first language in children's homes.
This complicates the process of education as the United States, the most multicultual-multiracial nation in world history.
If the schools don't teach solid reading skills by 3rd grade, and the fail to teach solid arithmetic skills by the end of 4th grade, kids will continue to achieve below their potential.
As you noted, it's just so obvious only people willfully blind can fail to see what's going on.
Our public school system is a miserable failure. But I would not so quickly point the finger at teachers. Our public school system is a miserable failure because its operation is primarily in the hands of corrupt and incompetent politicians. Our government has become a miserable failure. We spend more for less. Follow the money. If we followed every tax dollar, would we find any government entity that is more effective today than it was a decade ago? Teachers are merely government employees and like all government employees their pay exceeds their effectiveness and value to society by a wide margin.
I think you're both right, to some extent: the curriculum is terrible, and there is a limit to students' abilities.
However, given the village-idiot level of the tests used by the states, just about every child would be able to score "proficient" if he was simply taught to read and do basic math. The fact that they are not taught this is a result of ideology and politics, not the inability of almost any person to learn reading and basic math.
I think the curriculum will have to be revised to correct achievement disparities with other nations. On a par at 4th grade, ours have fallen behind by 8th grade. That's mostly because seventh and eight grades are black holes that do not introduce new skills here. Improving the relevance and rigor of 7-12 would be the best way to lower college costs, because, once again, young people could go into the workplace qualified.
Skills introduced in the lower grades can be acquired by most everybody, and that is where Bush is. Levels attained do correlate with IQ, and you say, but that does not absolve primary schools from teaching normal children to read and calculate. I did not kmnow the 85 number for HS grad, but I do know that college grad is 120.
Schools told to push brightest and help slowest
By Graeme Paton, Education Correspondent Last Updated: 2:10am GMT 03/01/2007
Schools will be asked to push the brightest children and provide more help for those who fall behind as part of a review into the way lessons are delivered.
The recommendations come after a 10-month investigation chaired by Christine Gilbert, the head of Ofsted, into how schools should tailor the National Curriculum for pupils from both ends of the spectrum. However, her 2020 Review, published tomorrow, is unlikely to recommend wholesale streaming or setting, a move likely to anger parents in favour of greater selection in state schools.
The Daily Telegraph disclosed yesterday that the vast majority of adults wanted the brightest children taught separately to maximise their potential.
More than three quarters of people responding to a poll by the Right-wing Centre for Policy Studies either want more streaming by ability in comprehensive schools or the chance to send the best children to wholly-selective grammars. Almost as many believe that the weakest pupils benefit from being taught on their own. However, the review, which will set out a vision of how teaching should develop to 2020, is unlikely to go that far.
Currently, only around 60 per cent of all lessons are segregated by ability. Most schools use "sets", in which children are placed in different classes according to their level. Streaming in which year groups are set along ability lines is rare in state schools. Yesterday's study suggested that parents believe children cannot reach their potential in mixed-ability classes. In a move designed to ease concerns over wasted talent, ministers last week unveiled plans to give the brightest 800,000 pupils "vouchers" to buy in extra lessons.
Sir Cyril Taylor, a No 10 adviser and chairman of the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust, said the country was still failing bright children and called for a 20-fold increase on the amount spent on "gifted and talented" pupils. However, responding to the Centre for Policy Studies report, he said he was "totally against" bringing back selective grammar schools.
"We need good schools for everybody. That doesn't mean you don't have programmes for the gifted and talented and setting and streaming," he said yesterday.
"The 164 grammar schools left have one per cent of their pupils eligible for free school meals. They have become free independent schools for the middle classes. What we need is more good schools across the board."
He added: "Sadly, this report could damage this initiative by bringing back selection, which egalitarians go crazy about, and that could actually harm the interests of bright children."
A recent separate study by Susan Hallam and Judith Ireson, from the University of London's Institute of Education, revealed that the majority of pupils also favoured segregation by ability. It found that pupils who are regularly in the top sets of particular subjects favoured segregation more than those at the bottom. In some schools, as many as 83 per cent of children opposed mixed-ability classes.
Everyone favors segregation, streaming or what have except the politicians and professional educators who are egalitarians and brook no difference with their ideology no matter how unscientific and flawed it is. That is the problem.
A Department for Education and Skills spokesman said those who proposed an increase in academic selection in state schools did not understand the damage it could do. "Dividing children into successes and failures is not the answer to improving Britain's competitiveness," he said.
The students, parents and population in general want streaming and actual segregation by ability. They are right. But this will not happen or will happen slowly and haltingly because the educators and politicians are imbued with socialist egalitarian beliefs that they will never relinquish.
It's a serious problem, and one that is often found in private schools as well. Schooling is more about how the employees, politicians, and activists "feel" about the "process," than it is about the outcomes for students of low, average, or high ability.
The interesting comparison is that many countries other than the US don't have their kids start school until age 7 or 8. Norway is one example of this.
So, at 4th grade, our kids have been in school for 4 or 5 years(counting kindergarten), and other nations' kids have been in their schools only 2 years - yet their kids have learned as much as ours.
Is that because our kids are that much less intelligent (lower IQ)? No, I am sure it is a direct result of the curriculum used.
If you want a direct comparison you can do at home, pick up the first book of Singapore's math curriculum, then look at our first grade math curriculum. It's a difference between night and day. The Singapore math books are used in classrooms with 45 or more kids per class, and these kids, by 8th grade, vastly outstrip ours in class sizes of 25 or less.
In places like Indonesia and Singapore, parents have, on average, considerably less in terms of family resources and education levels than average US parents. Additionally, we've spent more than double the amount on our kids' education than they have.
It's the curriculum, folks. IQ is just the quality of the slate brought to the table.
No the data for ability to graduate from an academically oriented college goes down to IQ of 110 or 20% of the population. Minnesota now graduates 28% after five years and including community colleges.
An IQ of 125 or better occurs in only 5% of White Europeans.
At 125 or above you can do most professions--law, medicine, Phd, Combat aircraft commander and so forth. Down from 125 there is a continuum. Surely, hard work and coaching can help overcome some degree of limitation, but in the end the destiny of most of us is what we are born with is what we do with.
These figures are well known to psychologists but seldom are quoted or used in policy planning because everyone secretly believes they and their cohort "are all better than equal" a la Prairie Home Companion and Garrison Keillor.
The kids stick it out so they don't graduate ? Sorry, that doesn't make sense. All reports I've seen state schools push the kids out so they don't lower standardized test scores and drag the school into underperforming status.
That may hold true for much of the country, but in California the academic expectations based on CA standards starts pushing these skills way too early IMHO. Kindergarteners are expected to come into school already reading, and they are starting to teach algebra concepts in second grade. While some parents are giving their children a lot of exposure early in their child's life, most do not. Our 7 year old, now in 2nd grade, started Kindergarten able to read, and is reading at between a 3.5 and 4.0 level today. But, that is only because we took the time to start her reading way before she started school. Math, on the other hand, has been somewhat of a struggle for her. She is doing well on the basics, but when asked to use higher order reasoning to compute more difficult math reasoning problems, she struggles. I believe that this is because the brain of a 7 year old is just not ready for that level of reasoning. In CA we are pushing our children too hard, and this results in great frustration for the child, and the family, and might be worse than what the schools were doing before.
Lies, lies, lies. My wife teaches for 7.5 hours and then comes home and works another 2-3 hours planning, making tests, and correcting tests and homework. She has to work more than 180 days, gets two months off in the summer (not three), and she's required to take classes to keep her certificate current. Her compensation is nowhere near what an engineer with a masters degree would get.
We have a couple of small districts in the foothills of Colorado where the parents of special education kids sued and won to send their kids to schools out of state. The school district still has to pay the cost for the kids which I think was about 50-100k a year.
Yeah. I pulled my kid out of school in 6th grade to homeschool. I tutored her in times tables and mental math in the lower grades but it never stuck because the schools (even private schools!) pushed calculator use.
I took away her calculator and had her spend almost a year on arithmetic drills, fractions, decimals and the like - all with no recourse to a calculator.
She then went right into algebra and did just fine - this kid who had always done poorly in math had progressed successfully to algebra in 7th grade because her basic skills were functioning.
Calculators before algebra are just crippling kids. If you have to work hard to do basic math, there is no room left over for higher level thought.
It's so obvious, yet so many ignore it.
I remember my mom putting up gigantic flash cards of the times tables and fractions/decimals/%'s on my bedroom wall when I was in the 4th grade. I would have to look at them every evening before bedtime whether I liked it or not, but I learned them pretty quickly.
When I had my kid tested at 5th grade, she was reading at a grade 16 level but her math was at a grade 4 level.
Why was her math so low ? She couldn't do a lot of the problems w/o a calculator, and had never been exposed to basic equations like the concept of an unknown "x".
I agree that a 7yo has a great deal of trouble with abstractions, yet the very basics of algebra (x + 1 = ?) and sets can be handled successfully if presented correctly for the age group.
Go look at the Singapore math books or Ray's arithmetic if you want to see what average kids are doing overseas or did in the last century.
Which is also a valid point. Some people are gifted, and other not. I can't play pro football, and no amount of coaching would make me a great player. But that isn't PC when it comes to education.
Another skill seldom taught anymore - memorization.
Yes, rote memory is discredited. Actually, Jensen in his early works on "g" found that rote memory made children more competitive in the class room. Sort of a "if you fake it you will make it" dynamic.
Learning who to read and write is probably attainable to all those with an IQ of 70 and above. This means that 90% of children (not handicapped and developmentally disabled) who go to school.
I note that in some schools in Minnesota children are taught block printing and not cursive writing at all. Ditto for mathematics--they are taught to use calculators. In actual fact, in a fair system, they should be able to sue for educational non feasance. They are seriously handicapped vis a vis a child that can cursively write and calculate without a calculator.
Maybe I misunderstand. When I went to school everyone learned to read and do basic arithmetic. We learned essential geography and a lot of history. We learned how the American system of government works and studied the Constitution.
Now much of that appears to be lost. Why? It has nothing to do with student abilities, unless kids are actually losing IQ points! I think it has far more to do with unions and the fact that schools are stuck with trying to unscramble the great societal collapse that began in 1963.
They stick it out even though they won't graduate.
Why do teachers assume they are they only ones who have to take classes to keep current or earn their masters degree on their own time.
Your right about engineers making more. My wife works 40-50 hours a week. To get a masters, my wife would have to take classes at night or on the weekend.
A large number of military officers have Masters degree. A small number are allowed to get a degree at the military's time. Most have to do it on their own time by attending classes at night or weekends. This doesn't include all the classes and training we have to do to get promoted. Some is done on military's time if your selected for the school and some you have to do at night and weekends.
Also, a engineering masters degree is more difficutl to get than a masters in education. Supply and demand.
Yes, the key is to present the lessons correctly and appropriately for that age/grade level.