Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Stemming the Tide - Letís pay science and math teachers more.
City Journal ^ | 16 January 2009 | Marcus A. Winters

Posted on 01/20/2009 7:55:40 PM PST by neverdem

The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, an international test of fourth- and eighth-grade student achievement, recently released its latest results. As in prior years, the mean U.S. scores were roughly on par with those in most developed nations in Europe, though well below those in Asia. But students in other developed nations far outpaced U.S. students in top-level science scores. For instance, only 10 percent of American eighth-graders performed at the highest level in science, placing the U.S. 11th among the tested nations and well behind countries such as England (17 percent), Japan (17 percent), and Singapore (an astounding 32 percent).

It’s no surprise, then, that the U.S. also lags the world in the proportion of students earning a college degree in technical fields. According to the National Science Foundation, only about 17 percent of U.S. college graduates earned a degree in subjects related to science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM for short). That’s well below the world average of 26 percent. We trail not only economic competitors such as China (52 percent), India (24 percent), Japan (64 percent), and Russia (33 percent), but even Mexico (25 percent) and the nations of the Middle East (24 percent). These figures become even more disturbing when we consider that American colleges grant many of their STEM-related degrees to foreign students, the majority of whom go back home.

American schools simply don’t produce the scientists and engineers whom we need to remain competitive in a technology-driven world. In their excellent recent book The Race Between Education and Technology, Harvard University economists Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz convincingly show that the economic and political dominance of the U.S. throughout the twentieth century was based on its better-educated workforce, which could create and swiftly adapt to new technologies. But we’ve been losing that edge since our educational attainment began to stagnate in the mid-1970s—and as more nations surpass us in education, they also chip away at our economic dominance.

The troubles in STEM education mirror the broader problems of American K–12 education. The primary issue—and our best chance to make improvements—concerns teacher quality. A wide body of research has consistently identified teacher quality as the most important means within a school’s control to improve student learning. That likely goes double for STEM subjects, which require instructors not only to be knowledgeable but also to be able to convey difficult technical information in a graspable way. Attracting such people to STEM teaching requires a compensation system that recognizes their talents. Unfortunately, though, the way we pay public-school teachers today—based exclusively on seniority and number of advanced degrees held—doesn’t work.

Research consistently finds that these two attributes have little or nothing to do with teachers’ actual ability to improve student learning. Paying the same salaries to teachers of widely varying effectiveness is inefficient, to say the least. But another big problem with the current pay system, especially when it comes to STEM teaching, is that it compensates teachers in different subjects equally, too, and this ignores labor-market realities. With the same number of years in the classroom and the same number of advanced degrees, a high school gym teacher earns the same salary as a high school chemistry teacher.

A better system would pay STEM teachers more than their counterparts. After all, the skills required to teach STEM subjects are often more valuable in the broader labor market than those required to teach most other subjects. Of course, not every good math teacher would make a good engineer, and vice versa. But an individual with math and technology skills has more attractive job opportunities than, say, someone with the skills to teach elementary-level reading. The bottom line: public schools must dig deeper into the labor skill pool, hiring STEM teachers of lower quality than teachers in other subjects.

A system of differential teacher pay, on the other hand, could not only attract new teachers from the outside labor market, but also encourage the current crop of teacher talent to move into STEM subjects, which they’re currently shunning for understandable reasons—the coursework required to become a teacher in a non-technical subject is much less demanding than what’s necessary for STEM subjects. We need to give these people a financial motive to take the more difficult STEM path. Teachers’ unions support increasing the pay of STEM teachers—so long as the pay of all other teachers goes up as well. But spreading dollars around equally means giving small increases to all teachers instead of large pay increases to those we most need.

We can still ensure that this century will be as much an American Century as the last—but only if we address our students’ performance gap in math and science. And the best way to do that is to incentivize more teachers to master the hard stuff.

Marcus A. Winters is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Editorial; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: education; science; scienceeducation; stem; teacherpay; teachers
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-100101-150151-156 next last
Let's see Obama get that done - change the teachers union. Don't hold your breath.
1 posted on 01/20/2009 7:55:41 PM PST by neverdem
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: neverdem

Why so they can push the AGW hoax more? Paper or plastic anyone?

You don’t expect them to actually teach science now do you?


2 posted on 01/20/2009 7:58:33 PM PST by Tarpon (America's first principles, freedom, liberty, market economy and self-reliance will never fail.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: neverdem

how about: let’s pay students if they actually learn math and science


3 posted on 01/20/2009 7:59:02 PM PST by ari-freedom (Hail to the Dork!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: neverdem

Let’s see in the primary grades of most states technology and science is not even tested, or taught, except when parents voluntarily contribute for special lessons, instructors and equipment.

My impression is that the focus of academia now is NCLB, and the basics of reading and math.


4 posted on 01/20/2009 8:07:12 PM PST by Wiseghy ("You want to break this army? Then break your word to it.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: neverdem

How about NO. Not as long as they work for government schools and teach things like global warming and 2+2 means whatever you feel like.


5 posted on 01/20/2009 8:09:15 PM PST by GeronL (DAY 1, YEAR 0 - The first day of the Oministration. The nightmare begins.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: neverdem
It's no surprise, then, that the U.S. also lags the world in the proportion of students earning a college degree in technical fields.

so, if we are NOT turning out STEM degrees...where is the pool of qualified teachers going to come from ? Why pay more for bad STEM teachers ?

i'm thinking the shortest route to fill this gap, is to try and hire people from the private sector, since the writer wants to pay more for STEM teachers anyway, give it to the guys & gals who have been in the trenches for awhile.
6 posted on 01/20/2009 8:10:55 PM PST by stylin19a (I listen to the voices in my golf bag)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: stylin19a

“where is the pool of qualified teachers going to come from ?”

the same place that gave us Everyday Math and all of the other Piaget-inspired nonsense.


7 posted on 01/20/2009 8:16:48 PM PST by ari-freedom (Hail to the Dork!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: GeronL

2+2 means whatever you feel like.

or: “who needs to learn 2+2 anyway? That’s what calculators and nerds are for!”


8 posted on 01/20/2009 8:19:39 PM PST by ari-freedom (Hail to the Dork!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: Tarpon

Re: Science teachers,
Right on!
It was 18 below this morning and as I watched the kids shivering while waiting for the bus, I mused that my granddaughter just told me how they had to recite the 10 reasns that Global Warming is really happening.
If you ask me they’re WAY overpaid already.


9 posted on 01/20/2009 8:22:42 PM PST by bog trotter
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: neverdem

Poring more money into a broken system isn’t going to fix it.


10 posted on 01/20/2009 8:28:18 PM PST by metmom (Welfare was never meant to be a career choice.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: neverdem
We can still ensure that this century will be as much an American Century as the last—but only if we address our students’ performance gap in math and science. And the best way to do that is to incentivize more teachers to master the hard stuff.

And combat pay for having to deal with fundamentalists who think religious belief trumps scientific evidence.

Seriously, without a grounding in math and science this country will go downhill quickly. We are getting by now on imports for the most part. When the brain drain starts going the other way we've pretty much had it. The economy will follow.

And the fundamentalists keep pushing for science to be taught their way. Perhaps they should investigate the causes for the decline of Arab science about six centuries back--a decline from which they have yet to recover.

11 posted on 01/20/2009 8:29:16 PM PST by Coyoteman (Religious belief does not constitute scientific evidence, nor does it convey scientific knowledge.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ari-freedom

Actually, “2+2” does mean whatever you feel like - if you define an abelion group with unity (a “Ring” - remember the movie?), you can make 2+2 =1.

And it works.


12 posted on 01/20/2009 8:30:11 PM PST by patton (SPQA)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: metmom

Truer words were never spoken ;-)


13 posted on 01/20/2009 8:32:00 PM PST by achilles2000 (Shouting "fire" in a burning building is doing everyone a favor...whether they like it or not)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: ari-freedom

Don’t blame Piaget for what education schools put out.


14 posted on 01/20/2009 8:32:03 PM PST by RobbyS (ECCE homo)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: patton

Not if you are counting with your fingers. ;-)


15 posted on 01/20/2009 8:34:13 PM PST by RobbyS (ECCE homo)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: neverdem
What? Only teachers of math and science get more pay?

That's discriminatory! If one teacher gets more pay, then all teachers should get more pay.

That's the Obama/ American way!

16 posted on 01/20/2009 8:35:04 PM PST by Hillarys nightmare (So Proud to be living in "Jesus Land" ! Don't you wish everyone did?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: DaveLoneRanger; 2Jedismom; aberaussie; Aggie Mama; agrace; AlmaKing; Anima Mundi; Antoninus; ...

ANOTHER REASON TO HOMESCHOOL

This ping list is for the “other” articles of interest to homeschoolers about education and public school. This can occasionally be a fairly high volume list. The main Homeschool Ping List handles the homeschool-specific articles. I hold both the Homeschool Ping List and the Another Reason to Homeschool Ping list. Please freepmail me to let me know if you would like to be added to or removed from either list, or both.
17 posted on 01/20/2009 8:35:30 PM PST by metmom (Welfare was never meant to be a career choice.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: RobbyS

Sure you can - cut two of them off.


18 posted on 01/20/2009 8:35:43 PM PST by patton (SPQA)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: Coyoteman

The teaching of evolution in schools has had a monopoly for decades.

You have yet to demonstrate that the current decline in math and science scores are due to the teaching of creation or religious fundamentalist beliefs.

The more God has been removed from the public education system, the worse it’s gotten. If you have any evidence to the contrary, by all means, feel free to post it.


19 posted on 01/20/2009 8:39:26 PM PST by metmom (Welfare was never meant to be a career choice.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: neverdem
Sorry WRONG! Trying to fix public education by paying some teachers more is like trying to save the Titanic by paying some of the people in the engine room more.

In the District of Columbia, it costs in excess of $1 million to graduate a single student who is proficient in math or science from the public school system.

How much failure and how much wasted money must we experience before we will admit the public school model is BROKEN? The only way to attract and retain good teachers of whatever subject, is to structure schools so there is a business case for it. This means schools that are private and for profit. This means having just as free a market in children's education as we have for children's shoes.

20 posted on 01/20/2009 8:40:40 PM PST by theBuckwheat
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: neverdem
Ever noticed how Fox News has the most intelligent reporters/anchors? Guess what - most of them do not have journalism degrees - they are attorneys, or political science majors, etc.

It is the same with math and science teachers. Education schools do not produce the best math and science teachers. (Most teachers (of this generation)majored in education because it was the easiest major, not because they were blessed with a math-mind or loved science as a kid.)

Pay them more, based on how well they pass certain tests, not simply because of their title.

21 posted on 01/20/2009 8:41:04 PM PST by too much time (Were ANY educrats proficient at math in school?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: patton; ari-freedom

Don’t you know? 2+2=22

Sheesh.....


22 posted on 01/20/2009 8:41:24 PM PST by metmom (Welfare was never meant to be a career choice.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: theBuckwheat
In the District of Columbia, it costs in excess of $1 million to graduate a single student who is proficient in math or science from the public school system.

You mean that the DC schools are actually graduating kids proficient in math and science? Or is that just what it costs to graduate a kid, period?

23 posted on 01/20/2009 8:43:26 PM PST by metmom (Welfare was never meant to be a career choice.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: metmom

Trinary...


24 posted on 01/20/2009 8:43:44 PM PST by patton (SPQA)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]

To: patton

Sorry, I need all of them in order to use the baseten.


25 posted on 01/20/2009 8:47:04 PM PST by RobbyS (ECCE homo)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: metmom

no...2 + 2 = 1 because we must all be One under our Dear Leader Obama, may His great and most wonderful name be praised, Amen.


26 posted on 01/20/2009 8:47:18 PM PST by ari-freedom (Hail to the Dork!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]

To: metmom

Forgive me, since I assume you know this...

Define your number set as base 2 := {0,1,2}

Then 1+1=2, yet 2+2 =22, etc.


27 posted on 01/20/2009 8:47:52 PM PST by patton (SPQA)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]

To: neverdem

A wide body of research has consistently identified teacher quality as the most important means within a school’s control to improve student learning.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

There is a simple solution:

Require **all** government teachers to take and pass Calculus with a “C”, and they should sit side by side in the **same** courses as the math and science majors.

Do that and the overall IQ and competence of all government teachers would immediately improve.

As it is now, I doubt many government teachers could pass the GED ( for high school drop outs) math exam even if given a month or two to prepare. If government teachers are incompetent in math, then they subtly and overly communicate their antipathy to their students.


28 posted on 01/20/2009 8:48:18 PM PST by wintertime (Good ideas win! Why? Because people are NOT stupid)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: RobbyS

Base three makes more sense.


29 posted on 01/20/2009 8:48:46 PM PST by patton (SPQA)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 25 | View Replies]

To: neverdem

We pay our politicians more every year and we get worse, not better, representation.

In general, its not the funding - Schools have had Humongous increases in money thrown at them for years without noticable improvement.

They spend it on more teachers to reduce class size and work load, higher admin pay to the same people who are running failing schools, new schools with more computers, bigger staff lounges, more day care centers, more elaborate medical facilities, a bigger free breakfast and lunch program, more remedial classes for illegals, more spanish classes for english speaking students and more staff and teacher travel.

And yet the next year they always ask for more.

But they never change the curricula to eliminate politically correct nonsense and add more stringent math, science, history and grammer.

In my area school enrollment has dropped the last two years, which surprised almost everyone. It seems that many illegals have left and taken their kids with them.

So the school board is now asking for more money because lower enrollment equals lower federal subsidies. When enrollment increased every year they asked for more money because they had more students to feed and teach.

Their only answer to every problem and change is more money.


30 posted on 01/20/2009 8:51:15 PM PST by Iron Munro (Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: patton
American schools simply don’t produce the scientists and engineers whom we need to remain competitive in a technology-driven world.

Sadly, I don't think there are American jobs for these scientists and engineers. Our high corporate tax burden and price-pressure produced by globalization is pushing American corporations to outsource these jobs. Look how many research scientists and engineers are getting the axe now...

31 posted on 01/20/2009 8:51:21 PM PST by RochesterFan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 24 | View Replies]

To: wintertime

“pass Calculus with a “C”, and they should sit side by side in the **same** courses as the math and science majors.

LOL - good luck with that. You got a teacher that can make it as a Math major, I am going to offer them more money than they dreamed of, not to teach.


32 posted on 01/20/2009 8:51:46 PM PST by patton (SPQA)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 28 | View Replies]

To: too much time

Edudcation schools started out pretending to be professional schools, but they ended up being feeders for public schools. Consequently they take people of above average intelligence and teach them drivel for four years.


33 posted on 01/20/2009 8:53:26 PM PST by RobbyS (ECCE homo)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

To: RochesterFan

May be - might get the axe myself. Who knows. Until then, I keep on with the research scientist bit.


34 posted on 01/20/2009 8:55:22 PM PST by patton (SPQA)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 31 | View Replies]

To: patton

I was being facetious.

That came from the time when my kids were little and we were talking about math and how a child reasons, and when you ask them what 2 and 2 equaled, that they were just as likely to answer 22 as 4, simply because they misunderstood the question.

Like when you’re explaining how to read two digit numbers. A 1 and a 2 is twelve. So a 2 and a 2 would be 22. So when you asked what 2+2 was, the answer could be 22.


35 posted on 01/20/2009 8:55:25 PM PST by metmom (Welfare was never meant to be a career choice.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 27 | View Replies]

To: Coyoteman

“And combat pay for having to deal with fundamentalists who think religious belief trumps scientific evidence.”

yup all those religious homeschoolers are ruining this country. The nerve of them to think they can actually try to teach their kids! We should force their kids to go to public school so that we can ridicule them if they dare to question Darwin (or any other politically correct theory, such as global warming).


36 posted on 01/20/2009 8:57:27 PM PST by ari-freedom (Hail to the Dork!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: RochesterFan
Part of it is that engineering jobs have never been secure nor as well paying
as one would think. Compare the incomes of the average accountant and the average engineer in 1948 with their incomes today. Follow the money.
37 posted on 01/20/2009 8:58:28 PM PST by RobbyS (ECCE homo)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 31 | View Replies]

To: theBuckwheat

“In the District of Columbia, it costs in excess of $1 million to graduate a single student who is proficient in math or science from the public school system.”

And you actually believe that? That’s BS told to you by some libtard school administrator milking the system.


38 posted on 01/20/2009 8:59:20 PM PST by Kirkwood
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: RochesterFan

So true. If you want to use that science or technical degree, be prepared to have to live overseas.


39 posted on 01/20/2009 9:01:21 PM PST by Kirkwood
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 31 | View Replies]

To: patton

Me too. We just finished a round of downsizing where some good scientists and engineers were cut. Their last day was Dec. 31. Management is already talking about the next round.


40 posted on 01/20/2009 9:02:42 PM PST by RochesterFan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 34 | View Replies]

To: ari-freedom

Then there is the simple fact that most high school kids in biology haven’t the slightest interest in the scientific evidence. They just want to know what the teacher intends to put on the test so they can pass.


41 posted on 01/20/2009 9:03:25 PM PST by RobbyS (ECCE homo)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 36 | View Replies]

To: bog trotter
mused that my granddaughter just told me how they had to recite the 10 reasns that Global Warming is really happening.

That garbage should not be in any school curriculum. But take that and all the PC, multicultural drivel that's made its way into curriculums and we have much of the answer to why American kids lag most advanced nations in the basic subjects.

I wonder what % of the typical school day is spent on PCness and multi-culti indoctrination.

42 posted on 01/20/2009 9:05:15 PM PST by Will88
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: patton

So does a flat rate income tax.


43 posted on 01/20/2009 9:07:02 PM PST by RobbyS (ECCE homo)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 29 | View Replies]

To: Will88

The NEA is the left wing of the Democratic Party.


44 posted on 01/20/2009 9:08:32 PM PST by RobbyS (ECCE homo)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 42 | View Replies]

To: RobbyS

our entire approach is screwed up. We need to teach calculus first, then physics (I’m also not quite happy with all of this algebra based physics) then chemistry and finally biology.


45 posted on 01/20/2009 9:10:32 PM PST by ari-freedom (Hail to the Dork!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 41 | View Replies]

To: Will88

Schools also have to accommodate the arrival of new students from other schools who did not follow their particular curriculum. So, there is a lot of wasted time on “catching up.”


46 posted on 01/20/2009 9:15:22 PM PST by ari-freedom (Hail to the Dork!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 42 | View Replies]

To: neverdem

First, we need to open up teaching math and science to people with degrees in the actual subject, rather than in education. Heck, while we’re at it, let’s do the same for English, foreign languages, history, drama, . . .

Then, and only then, will paying teachers more actually be useful.

I’m sorry, but I see ed majors in my university mathematics classes—about 15% dedicated idealistic folk, and 85% ditzes who picked the ed major because it was the easiest on campus—and until the state-granted monopoly given to ‘Colleges of Education’ to produce teachers is broken, neither more pay, nor breaking the teachers union, nor even a merit-based pay scale, will do much to improve K-12 education.

When my father was in high school in the 1940’s all of his HS teachers had masters degrees in the subjects they taught, and a few had Ph.D.’s.


47 posted on 01/20/2009 9:19:00 PM PST by The_Reader_David (And when they behead your own people in the wars which are to come, then you will know. . .)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Coyoteman

Might be why science and engineering grad programs are desperate for American students.


48 posted on 01/20/2009 9:24:41 PM PST by John Will
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: Coyoteman

“And combat pay for having to deal with fundamentalists who think religious belief trumps scientific evidence.”

No, more like combat pay for lazy parents and people that make unfounded snarky remarks.

Despite what a lot of people think, science teachers teach just that science.


49 posted on 01/20/2009 9:30:22 PM PST by swmobuffalo ("We didn't seek the approval of Code Pink and MoveOn.org before deciding what to do")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: ari-freedom
yup all those religious homeschoolers are ruining this country. The nerve of them to think they can actually try to teach their kids! We should force their kids to go to public school so that we can ridicule them if they dare to question Darwin (or any other politically correct theory, such as global warming).

Google "Balkanization" and see what that is, and what that would do to this country.

Its sounds nice to have everyone marching to a different drummer, but its a hell of a poor way to organize a parade...

This country does not need thousands of enclaves, each teaching their own dogma and opposing all others. But that is exactly what you are advocating.

And you know where it all started going downhill? When the draft was canceled. Prior to that young folks from all over the country were taken out of their home environments and given a basic education in US history and values, and shown a bit of the world for contrast.

And the Balkanization you are advocating will make a bad situation much worse. You should think it over and see if that's really what you want.

50 posted on 01/20/2009 9:31:31 PM PST by Coyoteman (Religious belief does not constitute scientific evidence, nor does it convey scientific knowledge.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 36 | View Replies]


Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-100101-150151-156 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson