Analysis: Teachers Agree to Pay Increase, But Big Issues Still Remain

teacherFirefighters Starting Salary Higher Than Teachers Ending Salary – Late last week, Assistant Superintendent Matt Best and Davis Teachers Association lead negotiator Frank Thomsen issued a statement in which they acknowledged a tentative agreement on a new contract which includes a two percent one-time payment along with an ongoing two percent cost of living increase retroactive to July 1, 2013.

The teachers have been working without a contract since 2012 and the salary increase will be their first since 2008.

“Negotiations will continue on several other important items and both sides are looking forward to further progress in a spirit of cooperation and mutual respect,” the joint statement added.

The agreement must be ratified by both DTA membership and a vote by the Davis school board.

However, the agreement seems a long way from dealing with some of the core inequities that teachers – in what has been described as a grassroots and impromptu showing – came forward to complain about, regarding the huge amount of out of pocket expenses they were paying  for health insurance.

As one teacher told the Vanguard, “This isn’t a leadership based move this time around.”  Instead, it is “truly a grassroots upwelling of teachers who are at a breaking point.”  In part, they explained that the district passed on to teachers a $200 per month increase in benefit costs, which amounts to a pay cut.  As a number of people have explained, teachers are paying up to $1500 out of pocket for benefits and there are many, especially the younger teachers, who cannot afford to stay.

One teacher at Davis High, who gave permission to be quoted but not identified, told the Vanguard, “I take the family benefit package of $11900 per year which covers 100% of my vision plan and dental plan. The district contributes $951.91 per month towards my medical. My contribution is $1617.72 for Blue Shield.”

“I do not choose the cheapest option of Kaiser because I prefer the care offered by the UC Medical group,” the teacher said.

As the district explained to the Vanguard, there are three tiers of plans.  $1600 is the gross premium for Blue Shield insurance, and the district covers about $951 of that.  The rest is covered by the employees, about $650 per month.  While this is pre-tax money, it comes to $7800 per year.

Teacher salaries range greatly, based on years of service and educational considerations.  However, at the low end teachers make as little as $35,000 to $41,000 year a year, which moves up with time to $50,000 and potentially, with advanced degrees, into the $60,000 and $70,000 range.  For the last contract, the highest salary was $77,965.

We have often compared police and fire salaries where firefighters on a regional basis are near the top of the region in pay while police are near the bottom.   But the comparison is far more stark for firefighters and teachers, particularly when you consider level of education in the two fields.

Firefighters make more at their entry level than teachers do at any point in time in their career.

Compare the  pay and benefits of teachers with what the city’s firefighters receive.  An entry level firefighter made about $84,000 in base salary and that quickly escalated to nearly $96,000 for a Firefighter II, which encompassed at least three-quarters of all firefighters.

That does not include the mounds of overtime that pushed take home pay well over $100,000 for most firefighters.

Firefighters have more lucrative benefits, as a full time city employee receives $1657.86 for medical, $220.64 for Dental, $5.90 for life and $35 for LTD (Long Term Disability) for a total of $1920.40.

As teacher noted, “I do not know the exact difference between the two plans, but I believe it to be around $200 per month. I do know that a friend of mine who teaches in the Elk Grove school district pays $50 per month for the exact same benefit package.”

Now the district does not necessarily buy into this.  For one thing, Elk Grove teachers have about the highest compensation coverage in the state and region.  They covered this through continued enrollment growth.

The district believes that they provide better coverage than most districts our size.  And the district believes they cannot ever cover full health.

At the same time, it appears the district needs to find a way to help out younger teachers who are lower on the salary end and paying out huge amounts from their relatively modest salary out of pocket for health insurance.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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126 Comments

  1. Growth issue

    David, you can’t have it both ways. You complain that firefighters are overpaid then want to compare teachers’ salaries to them. I agree that firefighters are highly overpaid in Davis so their pay shouldn’t even enter the conversation.

    1. David Greenwald

      I’d be having it both ways if I suggested that teachers should be paid what firefighters are paid, but simply comparing the two is not having it both ways.

          1. growth issue

            Hell, there’s a gulf between what firefighter’s make and most other jobs in Davis. Like I said, you can’t continually complain about firefighter pay and benefits then try and us that as a barometer to compare to other’s pay. IMO that’s very disengenuous.

          2. SouthofDavis

            David wrote:

            > Firefighters make more at their entry level than teachers
            > do at any point in time in their career.

            Anyone that reads the Vanguard knows that I’m not a big defender of the firefighters, but on an average year they are at the firehouse close to DOUBLE the hours that teachers are at school…

            It is important to point out that

          3. Matt Williams

            SoD, that is a very timeclock-centric argument. Teachers do a substantial amount of their work (grading papers, etc.) off the clock.

            You know that. Why make such an obtuse argument?

    2. Matt Williams

      I disagree 100% G.I. It’s a very straightforward direct comparison … which do we value more, our children (grandchildren) or our worldly possessions?

      It becomes even more stark when you realize that each of us has insurance to protect our worldly possessions, but no such insurance for our children.

  2. J.R.

    There is some fundamental confusion in the assumptions behind this article. Overpaid firefighters do not justify overpaid teachers.

    The questions we need to ask when setting teacher salaries are:

    1. Is there an adequate number of highly qualified applicants when we advertise for positions?
    (I assume yes. If not, then we need to increase salaries to attract new hires).

    2. Can we afford a pay increase?
    (This is dubious, unless we can operate without temporary emergency parcel taxes.)

    3. Do teachers deserve a pay increase?
    (In my opinion, if current teachers are doing an exceptionally good job and we can afford it, then we by all means should increase their pay. However if the current teachers are standing together to protect incompetent teachers that are ruining the educations of generation after generation of students, then they do not deserve an increase. Unfortunately this seems to be the case.)

    1. David Greenwald

      “There is some fundamental confusion in the assumptions behind this article. Overpaid firefighters do not justify overpaid teachers.”

      Nowhere am I saying or even implying that.

          1. SouthofDavis

            David wrote:

            > Nowhere in that line does it say we should pay
            > teachers what we pay firefighters.

            If you didn’t want us to think that why did you write it (why not compare teacher pay to the typical NFL player starting and ending pay?)…

          2. Matt Williams

            The answer to that is very straightforward. Which do you value more, the community’s children or the community’s inanimate possessions?

            David’s article puts you in a position where you have to ask yourself that values question.

    2. wdf1

      J.R.: However if the current teachers are standing together to protect incompetent teachers that are ruining the educations of generation after generation of students, then they do not deserve an increase.

      How do you define competence/incompetence among teachers in a way that will be agreeable to a broad consensus of the citizenry?

      The recent issue of girls volleyball coaching seems to be an example of disagreement on competence in an educational setting. At least one set of parents (maybe more?) take issue with the recently dismissed volleyball coach, but others disagree. Extend that argument to an issue of salary/stipend increase. Would that volleyball coach deserve an increase or not?

      1. J.R.

        You capture the problem in a nutshell.

        We both agree that sometimes choices and options are not crystal clear.

        I believe that nonetheless, one must make the best decisions one can to keep teachers out of classrooms who ruin the education of hundreds of children over their careers.

        Others believe that because human decisions can be wrong, and mistakes can be made, and people can be biased, we should never eliminate incompetent teachers. Better to sacrifice hundreds of children than introduce the possibility that a teacher might be treated unfairly.

        That’s fine, but those people should not pretend to care about children or learning in the schools. They should be as honest as teacher union leader Al Shanker, who famously said that he would care about children when they started paying union dues.

    1. David Greenwald

      Did you see me say, “We should pay teachers what we pay firefighters now?” Just as the police piece wasn’t intended to argue that we pay police far less than firefighters, therefore we should increase police pay.

          1. hpierce

            Which way, lower city employee salary/benefits, increase teachers/support staff/administrators pay/benefits? Both?

            And if you advocate lowering lowering city employee salary/benefits, is that across the board, of just certain professions?

          2. hpierce

            Suggest you compare engineer positions to teachers… they both require a BA/BS degree, both require professional certification. Yet teachers do not have to be “subject matter experts”, as engineers are usually selected for. Engineers usually need to have 2-5 years of professional experience before they earn their license.

            I believe that engineers could easily pass the CBEST test, and therefore qualify to be teachers, EXCEPT for the fact that the educational “union” requires a credential program that requires potential teachers to pay for another year of “education” that you can pass with a “C”, and unlike engineers, teachers have to belong to a union, to help prevent a teacher from demonstrating either subject matter competency, nor instructional competency.

          3. Frankly

            Suggest you compare CPA positions to teachers, not engineers. Engineers are in short supply and command a premium in wages due to private market supply and demand. Neither teachers nor CPAs are in short supply and both require similar credentialing.

            However, CPAs and auditors only make 76% of the wages we are paying teachers on average. And when benefits are factored, that number drops to about 66%.

          4. wdf1

            Frankly: Neither teachers nor CPAs are in short supply and both require similar credentialing.

            Teachers may become in short supply if efforts are made to reduce class sizes to pre-recession levels. Class size reduction has started taking place in DJUSD again.

          5. iPad Guy

            I’ve read recently in The Vanguard:

            1. We had an initiative that was successful at reducing class sizes, then,

            2. Davis teachers voted to increase class sizes and eliminate teacher positions in order to maintain their pay levels, then,

            3. The resulting increased class sizes are being used to justify pay hikes for current teachers, and now,

            4. DJUSD is reducing class sizes again (which will justify raising teacher salaries again due to the short supply).

            This sounds like a NeverEnding Story.

          6. hpierce

            Perhaps a good reason not to reduce class sizes, at least on the economic front? Was in 30 pupil classes until I went to college, where most of my classes had 40 to 400 students. Think I turned out OK.

          7. wdf1

            hpierce: I believe that engineers could easily pass the CBEST test, and therefore qualify to be teachers, EXCEPT for the fact that the educational “union” requires a credential program that requires potential teachers to pay for another year of “education” that you can pass with a “C”,

            I understand that teaching credentials came into being before teachers unions came onto the scene.

            Passing the CBEST requires a threshold command of the English language. There are many engineers hired in the U.S. who come in on immigrant visas, and I question if they all could pass the CBEST.

            I know a teacher who could not teach in Davis because she couldn’t pass the CBEST. She was a native Spanish teacher who had taught high school Spanish elsewhere. In this case, I happen to think it was an appropriate consideration that she not teach at Davis High School, because, among other things, there is a heavy demand on teachers to write letters of recommendation for colleges, post graduation pursuits. Her English wasn’t strong enough as one might expect for a standard high school teacher.

            I’m okay with raising the standards for the credential program. Make the standard passing grade a ‘B’ instead of a ‘C’. Also make it harder to get into the program. But I think that might mean fewer teachers on the market than would be needed to fill the available positions, which would create stronger pressures for greater compensation.

          8. J.R.

            I suggest that people take a look at the Cbest test before they believe this. An average Davis junior high student could easily pass it, with no preparation.

          9. wdf1

            I’ve taken it and passed it. But the test is in English. If your English isn’t at maybe an 8th/9th grade level for writing, then you probably can’t pass. I have also coached someone who learned English as a second language, and it isn’t easy for such a person. Do you think you could pass the test if it were given to you in Spanish? Including the written portion?

          10. hpierce

            With an engineering background, my friend has bet me that he could pass the CBEST without any preparation at all, and teach trig and geometry equal to ANY teacher in the district, and probably motivate the students better by letting them know WHY trig and geometry could lead to successful, fulfilling careers. I believe my friend is correct. My friend has taught and mentored many co-workers at no extra compensation.

            Many teachers have no subject mastery, and “teach to the text”, or “to the test”.

            Have had great, inspirational teachers, and remember them fondly. They helped me succeed, and helped form my personality.

            Yet, many teachers are just “doing the ‘job’ to get a paycheck. My children had many of these, in DJUSD. In my opinion, we need a merit based system, get rid of the “guild” system for training teachers (mandatory credential program, and instead do results-based competency evaluations), and then have continous evaluations for raises in column and step.

            But that’s just me.

    2. Matt Williams

      That is a one-way street approach to the question. perhaps the key question is whether firefighters should be paid the same as teachers. After all, there is virtually nothing that they protect that isn’t covered by insurance. The same can not be said about what teachers “protect.”

  3. Mr. Toad

    Dixon $842/month

    Fairfield $650/month

    West Sac $847/month

    Woodland N/A but last I knew $600/month

    So DJUSD is better than most. Teacher health benefits are underfunded with large out of pocket expenses everywhere in the region. Compared with other public employees teachers get the short end of the stick but that doesn’t mean others are overcompensated only that teachers are under compensated.

  4. Frankly

    It is a myth that teachers are underpaid. It is not a myth that the money we are paying for public education far exceeds its value to society at this point and time.

    Public school teachers comprise 30% of the 14.8 million state and local government workers, and adding public school administrators makes the total about 50%. The number of administrators has skyrocketed over the years. More about that 2-to-3 ratio of administrators to teachers later.

    California teachers have routinely been recognized as the highest compensated in the nation. The average annual wages paid to California teachers is about $70,000. Only New York, New Jersey and DC pay higher wages.

    The 2010 annual compensation survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) looks at average wages. In that survey the average hourly wage for elementary and secondary administrators was $46.85, for all other Management occupations it was $45.21. The average wage for elementary and secondary teachers was $38.39.

    Engineers = $41.99
    Computer occupations = $36.56
    Administrative service managers = $34.18
    Accountants and auditors = $29.33
    Paralegals and legal assistants = $23.03
    Average of all workers = $22.77

    Now let’s add the value of the benefits.

    Private business and finance managers = $58.44
    Primary and secondary public school teachers = $56.59
    All teachers, public and private = $53.87
    All non-management professionals in private industry = $46.61
    Average of all workers in private sector = $28.24.

    Teachers are not grossly overpaid like firefighters. They are paid on average about 8% more than equivalent private sector teachers. Private sector teachers are paid market wages and benefits.

    Private sector schools also have fewer administrators. The ratio of administrator-to-teachers is less than 1-to-5. Private schools put the money back into facilities, books, technology… basically things that benefit the students. Public school increasingly put the money back into things that benefit the public education employees and their unions.

    When you total the 8% over-market compensation for teachers, and you factor the increase in inflation-adjusted cost per student… primarily driven by the explosion in numbers of highly-compensated school administrators… and you consider that the quality of public school education has fallen drastically over the last few decades… there is only one logical conclusion.

    We are all stupid to keep paying more.

    1. SouthofDavis

      It is important to not just look at what teachers (or fireman) make “per year” focus on pay per hour (and see how many paid hours doing what you want while someone else has the kids (or sleeping or eating or doing what you want when other guys are on a call)…

      Some public school kindergarten teachers work from 8:30-12:00 M-F and get summers, winter break, spring break and just about every holiday off (I dated one for a year).

      While most teachers don’t make a huge amount “per year”, their pay “per hour” is more than most people (the girl I was dating made more per hour than I did at the time working for a “Big 6” CPA firm…

      1. Frankly

        Absolutely. The canned response to this is that teachers work more hours during the regular school year grading papers, etc.

        But then show me any professional employee in the private sector that does not work extra hours and does not take work home with them on a regular basis.

        And just try to push for a 12-month school year with 2 weeks of paid vacation (the standard for the rest of us) and see how the teachers respond. They know that their summers off is a job benefit. They just don’t like everyone else seeing it that way.

          1. Frankly

            Agree, but not to the same extent. BLS data shows the private-sector working about 15% more hours than public-sector workers.

            And when you get to the professional class worker, that percentage increases even more.

          2. hpierce

            There is no way that BLS has figures for public sector workers working above their assigned hours (for exempt employees), as the hours, by definition are not reported. Unless they are using psychics.

          3. SouthofDavis

            hpierce wrote:

            > There is no way that BLS has figures for
            > public sector workers working above their
            > assigned hours

            Anyone that is good at what they do and wants to get better “works” many hours without getting paid. It might be a CPA reading about new tax laws, or a firefighter reading about better ways to fight wild fires or a teacher wrapping little boxes for bells with her boyfriend so she can give something to the kids after reading them “The Polar Express” (I’ve personally spent hundreds of hours of my own time reading tax laws, took a break from mountain biking with friend who wanted to stop and think how he would start to fight a fire in a specific terrain and bought boxes, wrapping paper and bells so my teacher girlfriend can do something special for her kindergarten class)…

          4. Frankly

            BLS gets much of its data from surveys.

            See here: http://www.bls.gov/respondents/home.htm

            They survey/interview both employers and employees.

            While you might be correct in that unpaid hours are not fully accurately reported, it appears that the BLS assessments and analyses models do account for some.

            A recent study by the Heritage Foundation http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2012/09/government-employees-work-less-than-private-sector-employees demonstrates the gap in working hours between the private and public sector… with private-sector employees working 41.5 hours per week on average and state and local workers putting in an average of 38.1 hours per week.

            But when you consider all the paid time off benefits between the private and public sector, government employees work about ONE-MONTH LESS than private sector employees.

          5. Frankly

            As I understand, BLS data for the CES and CPS does not consider the value of any paid time off. In other words, if you work 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year (full time) and take four weeks off of paid vacation, two weeks of paid sick leave, and 14 paid holidays, you will still calculate as working 2080 hours for the year. So I am not double counting… again as I understand.

            From BLS…

            CES compared with CPS

            The Current Employment Statistics (CES) program is a monthly survey of business establishments (or jobs). CES produces estimates on the number of employees on nonfarm payrolls, average hourly earnings, average weekly earnings, and average weekly hours. The Current Population Survey (CPS) is a monthly survey of households (or people). The household survey produces estimates about the labor force, the employed, the unemployed, the unemployment rate, and demographic information about the employed and unemployed.

          6. Matt Williams

            I agree hpierce. The position that the firefighters take that they are better than all other public employees, including policemen, teachers, engineers, etc. is the real problem.

        1. hpierce

          You also need to be honest about holidays, and increases in vacation over the years. A parent in the private sector earned 3 weeks per year in the latter part of his career, plus holidays… yet now, private sector/quasi-public sector employees get 22 personal days (sick leave, and vacation) per year.

    2. Ingrid Salim

      While it is true that our ‘average’ teacher salary (which lumps together all teachers, in all regions) is in the top 10 of the nation, our ‘comfort’ ranking (what we can purchase with that salary) is #33. California ranks in the bottom of per pupil spending.

      But what matters more, perhaps, to the salary conversation, is where Davis falls in those stats. Our highest salary, reached only after 20 years of service and the equivalent of a Master’s degree and additional units, is 77K. Our average salary is not 70K. More to the point, when comparing with other professional careers at hourly salary equivalences, one has to remember that the teaching profession salaries for 10 months, not 12, and at about 7 hours a day, not 8, so that while we still put in many hours past our contract time, we are not compensated for them, and our actual purchasing power in an economy that has seen rises in health care, energy and food costs increase, can’t keep pace.

      I don’t think it’s productive to debate whether we are underpaid or overpaid, since we haven’t established a baseline by which to evaluate such a concept. But it is true, objectively, that we are not paid for as many hours as other professional career paths, and there are large deviations from the average in any given state. Yes, many others have faced economic difficulties these past few years. To us, asserting that our teachers simply need more to provide for our families, and acknowledging that now, finally, there is some money to consider meeting those needs does not seem such a wild idea to us, but a fair and just one.

      1. hpierce

        Also, a registered dietitcian, working with neo-natal patients, where the outcomes could be life/death, are paid less than the average teacher. They require 4 years of college, internships, fellowships, and master’s degrees to get near the ‘average’ teacher salaries. But is a “calling”.

        Thought teachers had a ‘calling’, and chose the profession for the love of what they can contribute, and would accept the compensation offered. Appears I’m wrong.

        1. Don Shor

          I think most teachers do choose the profession for love of what they can contribute and do feel that it is a calling. I think the teachers’ union is just arguing that the compensation they accepted has lost buying power due to several years without pay increases. That with the economy improving and funds being restored to school districts, they feel they are due to make up some lost ground. I don’t know of any teachers who are saying that is the highest or only priority for restored school funding.
          Some here seem to be arguing that teachers are, in fact, overpaid. Merit pay is really a whole ‘nother discussion, and can be implemented in a cost-neutral manner. It is worth discussing, as is the issue of excessive administration (is that really the case in DJUSD? Seems to me that admin-level staff has been pared back over the last few years).

          1. Frankly

            I am fine with a six-figure teacher, but based on a comprehensive merit pay system (annual bonus for performance). As long as we have tenure and are stuck on paying teachers the same no matter their performance, we should not be increasing teacher pay.

            The way to fund higher-compensation for teachers is to stop giving the same compensation to low-performing teachers.

          2. hpierce

            The fact is that all teachers got a 2% bonus, regardless of performance, and a raise that increases the costs of both salary and pensions. I’d rather take the same dollars, and spread it to the achievers, and cover basic medical care w/o employee contributions.

            Suspect that the long term teachers have thrown the younger ones “under the bus”. And will then try to guilt us to make everything ‘equal’.

          3. wdf1

            Mr. Toad mentions this elsewhere, but class size is a factor. California has one of the highest (if not the highest) ratios of students to teachers. source

            In a pre-recession report by the Public Policy Institute of California (link, pg. 47, Figure 4.7), California had among the highest number of students per teacher, per administrator, and per support staff (non-credentialed staff) in the country. This is after California Class Size Reduction was implemented in 1996. I think the Great Recession only made the situation worse.

            In making a public vs. private comparison, private schools tend to have smaller class sizes than public schools. source;

            My own experience at one time more than 10 years ago in researching school options for my “non-template learner” indicated that private schools were generally less-equipped to handle a variety of educational challenges, including special ed situations and English language learners. They also seemed more ready to kick out/suspend/expel challenging kids.

            Public schools require a teaching credential that includes passing a standardized test (CBEST) to show, among other things, a basic proficiency in math and English language arts, course work in various issues of pedagogy, and mentored classroom experience.

          4. hpierce

            We should, in my opinion, also discuss merit pay. Am concerned that the union would use the best and brightest to lift the weakest.

  5. wdf1

    The Atlantic, October 2013: Why Do Teachers Quit? And why do they stay?

    Richard Ingersoll taught high-school social studies and algebra in both public and private schools for nearly six years before leaving the profession and getting a Ph.D. in sociology. Now a professor in the University of Pennsylvania’s education school, he’s spent his career in higher ed searching for answers to one of teaching’s most significant problems: teacher turnover.

    Teaching, Ingersoll says, “was originally built as this temporary line of work for women before they got their real job—which was raising families, or temporary for men until they moved out of the classroom and became administrators. That was sort of the historical set-up.”

    Ingersoll extrapolated and then later confirmed that anywhere between 40 and 50 percent of teachers will leave the classroom within their first five years (that includes the nine and a half percent that leave before the end of their first year.) Certainly, all professions have turnover, and some shuffling out the door is good for bringing in young blood and fresh faces. But, turnover in teaching is about four percent higher than other professions.

    Approximately 15.7 percent of teachers leave their posts every year, and 40 percent of teachers who pursue undergraduate degrees in teaching never even enter the classroom at all. With teacher effectiveness a top priority of the education reform movement, the question remains: Why are all these teachers leaving—or not even entering the classroom in the first place?

    “One of the big reasons I quit was sort of intangible,” Ingersoll says. “But it’s very real: It’s just a lack of respect,” he says. “Teachers in schools do not call the shots. They have very little say. They’re told what to do; it’s a very disempowered line of work.”

    1. Frankly

      I will look for private versus public school job turnover stats.

      Here is my thinking on the subject of turnover and teaching.

      In general I agree that having little to say and being told what to do is going to reduce job satisfaction. But this is not the same of a lack of respect. Air traffic controllers are told what to do and have little to say about it, and as far as I can tell the job is well-respected. Soldiers are told what to do and have little to say about it. So are cops. These jobs are well-respected by most people.

      And I really do not agree that teachers have little to say in most situations. They have a lot of discretion within their classrooms for how to conduct themselves within a framework of rule.

      Here is why there is a lot of teacher turnover…

      Unions and a union labor mentality that fails to adequately reward high performance, and instead foments mediocrity.

      Who leaves? It is primarily those that are unable to earn rewards and recognition equal to their potential achievement (i.e., the good employees… the top-40%). The bottom 60% like knowing that they can’t be passed over and they stick around. The longer they stick around, the more they cement a performance culture of mediocrity. Young, bright and enthusiastic teachers come in thinking they will make a difference, then they hit the wall of mediocrity. Eventually they have to decide if they will stay and become a clone like the rest, or quit and move on to something else that gives them the opportunity to shine and be rewarded.

      In my experienced performance management world, age and seniority make little to no difference in compensation. There are only two main criteria: level of responsibility and level of performance… with the former used for setting base pay levels compared to the job market for similar jobs, and the latter 100% connected to a performance bonus model that is 100% at risk. Beat the standard goals and get an above average bonus. Meet expectations and get the average bonus. Fail to meet expectations and get a smaller bonus or no bonus. Fail to meet the base-level of responsibilities for the job, and be put on corrective actions. Fail consistently and be fired.

      When you put a system like this in place, your organization starts to develop a culture of high-performance. Include teamwork and working together as one of the key performance goals, and that starts to happen.

      What gets measured gets done.

      What are we measuring today with respect to teacher performance? How are we attracting and retaining our best and brightest teachers?

      Teachers leave because of system does not provide them a healthy work culture.

      1. wdf1

        Frankly: What gets measured gets done.

        What are we measuring today with respect to teacher performance? How are we attracting and retaining our best and brightest teachers?

        Right. I hope you don’t try to measure the love your family members feel for each other to make sure enough love is happening in your family.

        That phrase (“what gets measured gets done”) will be the death of many more teaching careers, many needlessly and unnecessarily ended.

        We don’t allow teachers use their own judgement and critical skills, but instead we ask teachers to follow a recipe devised by someone else and that’s supposed to be a satisfying professional experience, somehow, and then we test how well the recipe was followed. No “thinking outside the box” there. Unfortunately, not everything worthwhile in education can be measured.

        A lovely and maddening challenge for a “non-template learner”.

        We live in a world that worships standardized tests. Standardized tests have little relevance in the lives of people, but it sure makes a lot of money for people who produce those tests.

        And here’s the latest idea — give standardized tests to pre-kindergarten students. I choose this one in particular because I know just how impressed you are with the politics in Texas, and I’m sure you’ll appreciate the response. I don’t have a problem with books on computers, but I have a problem with standardized testing as the primary means for judging the quality of education, because again, not everything worthwhile in education can be measured, and I’m afraid that what is unmeasurable is vast.

        Kress Now Lobbying for Pre-K… Testing

        Sandy Kress, the controversial testing lobbyist, is leading a new raid on our school taxes. This month he registered to lobby for Amplify, the company that wants to replace textbooks with tablet computers, positioning him to grab some of the hundreds of millions of dollars Education Sec. Arne Duncan is offering to create pre-K tests. Despite a nationwide backlash against high-stakes testing, your tax dollars are now going to developing standardized tests for 4-year-olds, and Kress is ready to cash in.

        Kress was the architect of No Child Left Behind who then lobbied for Pearson Education while simultaneously serving on several state advisory boards. Kress became so unpopular amid an anti-testing rebellion in Texas that the legislature made it illegal for him or any other testing lobbyist to make campaign contributions. Even registered sex offenders can give politicians money in Texas.

          1. hpierce

            Here’s a thought… perhaps teachers should be compensated for how, their students do, say 10 years out…did they go to college, graduate, find meaningful employment, contribute to their community?

            About 5% of the teachers I had, were significant contributors to my success. Another 70% helped, but were not significant. The rest were putting in their time, and that’s about it.

          2. wdf1

            hpierce: not sure I agree with your arguments but am pretty sure you will have no moral rights to criticize any public employee .

            I’m not sure I follow the meaning of your comment.

      2. wdf1

        Frankly: I will look for private versus public school job turnover stats.

        Here’s one, 2005, Private School Teacher Turnover and Teacher Perceptions of School Organizational Characteristics

        National studies have included both private and public school teachers in analyses of teacher turnover (Ingersoll 2001). These studies have shown that teacher turnover is associated with teacher perceptions of school organizational characteristics, including low levels of administrative support, little input into school decisions, student disciplinary problems, and insufficient salary (Ingersoll 2001). Private school tteachers generally express less dissatisfaction with school organizational characteristics than do their public school counterparts (Ingersoll 2001; Holton 2003). However, teacher turnover rates are higher in private schools than in public schools; in 2000-01, 21 percent of private school teachers had switch schools or left the teaching force since the previous school year compared with 15 percent of public school teachers (Luekens, Lyter, and Fox 2004).

  6. Frankly

    Right. I hope you don’t try to measure the love your family members feel for each other to make sure enough love is happening in your family.

    That phrase (“what gets measured gets done”) will be the death of many more teaching careers, many needlessly and unnecessarily ended.

    wdf1 – how do you reconcile the notion that a profession that is primarily tasked with measuring and assessing performance of their subjects would be made worse by having their performance measured and assessed? It is absurd that there is so much pushback on this from teachers and education status quo advocates. The rest of the working world does this stuff in its sleep.

    A work culture optimized for top performance is like surfing a wave. A performance-dysfunctional work culture requires a lot of paddling. Once there you have to balance to ride the wave. But the fabulous result cannot be achieved otherwise. The profession of education is far behind the wave, falling still farther behind… and it is not even paddling at this point.

    In the “what gets measured gets done” principle, the most important step is to identify what needs to get done. The education of your non-template learner son or daughter is an example of something that needs to get done. So, how would you measure success for that? Answering that question starts with an inventory of desired results. What are the education results we want to see? I have a very simple definition that I think covers just about all of this… or at least it is the likely top-level result. The result I desire is for each and every student to be adequately prepared for their next life-step.

    I think this is a simple but profound primary goal. I think it should be the ultimate mission of the business of education in general.

    The next step is to figure out all the behaviors, actions and results that contribute to this ultimate mission and goal. For example: low dropout rates… high student engagement ratings… high percentage of students succeeding in their continuation subjects. Then make these things part of the performance-management system for teachers.

    But, you say, what about the minority inner-city child from a broken family that live among gangs, violence and drug use? That can’t be fair to expect that our public education system should correct for all of those problems to prepare the kid for the next life-step, right? Well, there are private charter schools doing just that. Of course it is important to understand how they are doing it; but a high performance-based teacher work culture is a crucial key component. It would not matter how much those teachers were paid… if they were not led and managed to constantly achieve and improve, they would never catch that wave.

    Preparing the kid for his next life-step also requires being able to figure out it can be, and what it is. And this is another big area of failure for our status quo public education system. It is a system that has been shrinking the template box over the last 35 years. Meanwhile we are spending more than ever on that system. Doing less with more is essentially paddling backwards. This is one area where you and I seem to agree… bring back more arts and industrial arts. Learning is doing… few people learn as well being lectured by someone.

    There is a big difference in the turnover rates between education’s public and private sectors. In the public sector those teachers that would prefer to paddle ahead to catch the wave are the ones that quit to do something else. In the private sector, because it is a hot and growing new industry – especially ed-tech – the turnover is a dynamic response to the industry growth and opportunity. The 2013 Inc. 5000 List of the fastest-growing private companies in the United States features 44 education businesses that serve children from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. You are worried about the growth in private and charter schools siphoning off all the good students? Well, they will take the good teacher too.

    1. wdf1

      Frankly: Well, there are private charter schools doing just that. Of course it is important to understand how they are doing it; but a high performance-based teacher work culture is a crucial key component.

      Then please post examples and let’s discuss. I’ll warn you that my suspicions of such claims are that they aren’t really accessible to the broad range of students who need such results, and if success is defined by standardized test scores in math and English Language Arts, then there is a high chance that there is almost no other curriculum being taught. A child living in a lower-income neighborhood with the social pathologies you describe is going to need more skills and tools than high performance on a standardized test. More later…

      1. Frankly

        I will post evidence that more of the students of these charter schools are graduating and going to college. There are measures demonstrating achievement of the primary mission.

    1. Biddlin

      LOL! The Mail is considered a super-market tabloid, akin to the late Weekly World News, by most Brits.
      I am never disappointed in your ability to find and quote the most outrageous, least reliable sources. I have some first hand knowledge of the rapidly developing middle class in China, and much like our own “students” in the 1950s and 60s, Chinese kids are highly motivated and encouraged by their parents to make good use of the resources available. Fifteen or twenty years from now, I’ll be surprised if you don’t see articles in China Daily or the Shanghai Post about Chinese students losing ground to Indonesia.
      ;>)/

    2. wdf1

      G.I.: Even China’s poor children are doing better than our kids:

      Is that every single child? Or a cherry-picked population? Do you remember you’re dealing with the government of China?

      Shanghai Test Scores and the Mystery of the Missing Children

      While many Western observers have rushed to uncover the secret to Shanghai’s success, others argue that PISA has portrayed Shanghai in an overly positive light by failing to present the whole picture.

      In a series of articles published on the Brookings Institution’s website, Tom Loveless, a former professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and an expert on education policy, questioned the inclusiveness and representativeness of PISA’s Shanghai samples. He pointed out a glaring oddity in the PISA data: Shanghai, a city of 24 million, reports only slightly more than 100,000 15-year-olds, a number similar to that reported in Portugal and Greece, countries with less than half Shanghai’s population.

    3. growth issue

      Typical, the The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development ( OECD) is a very respected organization so if their findings don’t fit with some people’s view the messenger or the study must be attacked.

      1. wdf1

        G.I.: Did you read the whole article? I don’t have any reason to be overly skeptical of OECD, but when it comes to the case of Shanghai, there is a serious issue of apples to apples comparison. In the U.S., if we shut out the recent immigrant population from the tested students, then you might see a similar result.

  7. iPad Guy

    Just heard a car radio report that the most privileged of U. S. students are now scoring lower than the poorest of Asian children tested. Haven’t tried to find confirmation or details, but geez.

    Tell me again what’s wrong to judging our schools by achievement/skills testing results. And, what’s wrong with “teaching to the test” anyway?

    1. wdf1

      iPad Guy: Tell me again what’s wrong to judging our schools by achievement/skills testing results. And, what’s wrong with “teaching to the test” anyway?

      Because if you teach to the test (typically English and math subjects) then you’re not doing other activities in school that might be worthwhile. Kids aren’t participating in art, music, P.E., because they’re not tested. You don’t teach cooking or home economic life skills. You’re not likely to go on field trips because that might be time away from test prep, and maybe that field trip doesn’t have as much to do with English and math on the test anyway.

      Sometimes a worthwhile educational experience might be something interesting like, go try to build a fort or a robot. But there is just as much worthwhile experience as trying and failing. In education failure is nearly always interpreted as a reflection of a broken system. But in business, failure is often represented as a positive thing, like someone is getting back up a going at it again:

      In Silicon Valley, failure is in

      “Teaching to the test” is a mindset that limits the range of educational experiences that you’ll consider offering students.

      Just heard a car radio report that the most privileged of U. S. students are now scoring lower than the poorest of Asian children tested. Haven’t tried to find confirmation or details, but geez.

      If I were a high school student from a more affluent American family and saw a broad possibility of what life could be and what the school administration thought was important in education (highest possible standardized test scores), I might very well think, “Well f*ck this!” and not give a damn about how I answered the STAR test, especially if it didn’t matter for my class grade or for graduation.

      But even if it did have more weight on future consequences (and sometimes the SAT’s do), I think the overall frequency and duration of standardized testing is a discouraging experience.

          1. David Greenwald

            Which comment? Most often it’s not a moderator but the spam catcher that does that and usually it is for links.

          2. Matt Williams

            Hpierce, when I signed on at 5:25 this afternoon the following message was displayed. “Akismet has detected a problem. Some comments have not yet been checked for spam by Akismet. They have been temporarily held for moderation. Please check your Akismet configuration and contact your web host if problems persist.”

            Yours was the only comment that was put into the moderation queue, and I approved it. I don’t think there was anything specific in your post that caused it to go into moderation. Technical Support is looking into it.

          3. iPad Guy

            I made a very short comment yesterday and it immediately appeared with an “awaiting moderation” at the top. Don’t remember anything weirder than usual. Does the comment just sit there with the note until a live person pushes the KEEP or KILL button?

      1. iPad Guy

        I get the idea that we want to produce well-rounded citizens–able to be productive, healthy and with an appreciation for the liberal arts.

        So, “teaching to the test” means a strong emphasis on the three skills somebody decided are important in the world (math, reading and science proficiency). These do seem like the basics that are critical to a country’s long-term success.

        I’m skeptical that we can blame “teaching to the test” for cutbacks in art, music, physical education, home economics, metal and wood shop, animal husbandry, etc. Every time I’ve seen these cut back, it’s been due to budget issues rather than because students aren’t tested.

        Probably we’ve decided that math, reading and science are the most important subjects today–not that we want to eliminated the others (only that they deserve fewer resources).

        Some valuable educational options have dropped by the wayside because of liability concerns (like field trips and driver education)–not that good teachers couldn’t make the field trip experiences contribute to learning the tested topics.

        Something is wrong if we can’t provide our kids a high-quality education in math, reading and science while also maintaining classes in liberal arts, health, social skills, etc.

        I’m all for individuals learning through failure. But, a whole education system that’s falling behind most of the other modern societies is a failure that needs to be fixed somehow.

        Here’s a Washington Post link about the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment–15-year-olds from 65 countries and economies. (Don’t know if it was the source of the radio report today.)

        http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/how-us-students-compare-internationally/2013/12/02/7183ad9c-5ba8-11e3-bf7e-f567ee61ae21_graphic.html

        1. hpierce

          I still argue that ‘teaching to the test’ is flat-out stupid and detrimental. Math, language arts, science, history, to name a few, are EXACTLY the subjects that I believe need critical thinking skills, and learning how to learn. Any teacher who ‘teaches to the test’ have NO credibility in saying there is a problem with teachers being required to have ‘outcome -based’ evaluations of THEIR performance, used to determine merit increases, retention, etc., in my opinion.

          “Teaching to the test” may have a place if we want our progeny being contestants on Jeoprady, spelling bees, or besting their peers in Trivial Pursuit. Not for being productive, responsible adults.

      2. Matt Williams

        To build on wdf’s excellent points I’ll add the tried and true educational rule that “Travel is the best teacher.” One of the most striking examples of how effective a teacher travel is, happens whenever you watch and listen to the Track and Field athletes at a world-class event. Track and Field is a stepchild here in the US, but not in the rest of the World. Therefore US athletes who want to compete at the highest levels have to go to meets that are for the most part beyond the borders of the US. The media interviews of those US athletes are consistently the most articulate and thoughtful sports interviews anywhere … and the World is their teacher.

        You see the same thing in reverse in professional tennis, which more and more is dominated by non-US players. Regardless of nationality, because so many tennis tournaments happen in the US, the ability of the players to communicate in a language that is not their native language is impressive. I regularly find myself thinking, that player is as English/American as thee and me.

        The reason I bring this up is that I have yet to see a standardized test that “rewards” that kind of life learning.

        1. Frankly

          In the next new education system paradigm that is growing to take over, students will shed much of that “have to be there sitting in a boring class in front of a boring teacher be lectured on things that I don’t care about and are not being made to care about”, and they will carry their school with them. Then they can travel and work and go out and experience the world as a supplement to their still stuck “classic” education.

          But it won’t happen while we are stuck on the old status quo format.

          1. hpierce

            I’d agree with at least part of your points. Know a friend who was good at geometry and trig, but thought it was irrelevant, until they realized that there is surveying, opportunity to earn almost as much as a teacher, spend a lot of time outside, fill a definite societal need, and get to use some very cool technology.

        2. wdf1

          iPad Guy: I’m skeptical that we can blame “teaching to the test” for cutbacks in art, music, physical education, home economics, metal and wood shop, animal husbandry, etc. Every time I’ve seen these cut back, it’s been due to budget issues rather than because students aren’t tested.

          Under NCLB (No Child Left Behind), meeting rising math and English threshold scores was the difference between having some local control over schools or being judged a failure and triggering a series of prescribed steps that often ended with closing the school. If your school has a significant student population that might not be able to make those scores, then your budget priorities are set. In this scenario, keeping a school open depends on math and English instruction, not music.

          Probably we’ve decided that math, reading and science are the most important subjects today–not that we want to eliminated the others (only that they deserve fewer resources).

          Right. That’s because those subjects are judged by content. If we’re going to argue about the value of reading and math (and science) vs. being able to play Twinkle Twinkle, then music is clearly not that important. For music it is the secondary skills that tend to raise its curricular appeal.

          As a performing art, music teaches students how to prepare and present themselves to a public. It teaches students the value of working together. At some level it provides experience in group commitment and identity. It’s a very tangible example of delayed gratification; stick with it and be patient and the music you’re playing will eventually sound good and impressive. It’s harder to argue that these same experiences come out of math, English, & science.

  8. wdf1

    G.I.: Did you read the whole article? I don’t have any reason to be overly skeptical of OECD, but when it comes to the case of Shanghai, there is a serious issue of apples to apples comparison. In the U.S., if we shut out the recent immigrant population from the tested students, then you might see a similar result.

  9. wdf1

    Posted by former U.S. Dept. of Labor Secretary, Robert Reich

    I’ve been a teacher for most of my life, and few professions are more intrinsically rewarding. Yet I’m troubled by the direction we’re heading in, especially K-12 education. It makes sense for all kids to be brought up to a minimum level of proficiency in English and math, and standardized tests can help insure they are. But we’ve gone way overboard.

    We’re turning our schools into test-taking factories. We’re teaching children how to take standardized tests rather than how to think. The irony is we’re doing this at the very time when the economy is becoming less standardized than ever. Computers and software are taking over all routine, standardized tasks. The challenges of the future require the ability to solve and identify new problems, think creatively outside standard boxes, and work collaboratively with others. An obsessive focus on standardized tests can make our children less prepared for this future rather than better prepared.

  10. wdf1

    Frankly: how do you reconcile the notion that a profession that is primarily tasked with measuring and assessing performance of their subjects would be made worse by having their performance measured and assessed? It is absurd that there is so much pushback on this from teachers and education status quo advocates. The rest of the working world does this stuff in its sleep.

    Best aspects of teaching can’t be evaluated

    An informal, very loosely organized group of teachers, calling themselves Badass Teachers or BATS, is growing by leaps and bounds. Its stated purpose is to support “every teacher who refuses to be blamed for the failure of our society to erase poverty and inequality, and refuses to accept assessments, tests and evaluations imposed by those who have contempt for real teaching and learning.”

    The BATS’ most recent campaign has grown out of teachers’ stories from the recent weather disasters. As teachers in Georgia and Alabama recounted how they spent the night in schools with their students, improvised games, supervised homework, comforted frightened children and kept children safe and warm, someone said, “Evaluate that!”

    It quickly caught on. Facebook and Twitter are full of stories from and about teachers who went the extra mile, refused to give up on a child everyone else thought was hopeless, took children into their own homes, fed them, clothed them, tutored them and loved them. Many of the stories are heart-rending. There are stories of protecting children from embarrassment and humiliation; of feeding children who were hungry; of developing alternative ways to reach difficult children. They tell of going the extra mile to prevent a teenager from dropping out in frustration or of figuring a way around ultra-rigid rule enforcement to get a child the help they needed.

    Each story ends with “Evaluate that!”

    There is no way student test scores can be used to evaluate those teachers. There is not a metric to measure commitment to children. Nor is there a way to measure teachers’ long-term impact on lives and families. Nor is there a test score that can evaluate the damage of poverty, family problems, bullying or health problems.
    Our obsession with test scores is killing our schools, discouraging our students and making young teachers walk away from the profession. Our determination to evaluate only that which we can measure in numbers is ignoring the more important aspects of learning.

    Sociologist William Julius Wilson summed it up best when he said, “But the person who scored well on an SAT will not necessarily be the best doctor or the best lawyer or the best businessman. These tests do not measure character, leadership, creativity, perseverance.”

    1. Frankly

      “These tests do not measure character, leadership, creativity, perseverance.”

      Then the education establishment should come up with its own ways to measure these things.

      Ask parents and students what they desire out of education. Then set goals resulting from that and transition the system to deliver on it while measuring results and constantly improving.

      What is aggravating to the nth degree… the education establishment does not naturally focus on these things. Even without NCLB, the quality of education for delivering these results had been on a steady decline. So now the education establishment is blaming NCLB.

      Everything about the job of teaching can be evaluated and measured. It is effing ridiculous that you or any other person with a good mind would claim otherwise. The education establishment gets an “F” for failure to accept the same model that they dish out to students on a regular basis… and that the rest of the working world accepts without a complaint.

      I think the education establishment is full of itself. What egos must exist to make a case that teachers are above anyone’s ability to effectively assess and evaluate their performance!?

      Again, everything about education can be measured.

      I do understand the sometimes overwhelming difficulties brought on by crappy parenting, family substance abuse, dismal economic circumstances…. but that is the state of our situation. The education system has to step up to the plate and deal with it. The long stream of excuses are just a big pity party. Pity the poor underpaid overworked teacher having to deal with so many difficult students. Waaa waaa waaa.

      Here is what the education establishment is saying:

      1. We have no plan to improve. We already do a good enough job given all the difficulty.
      2. It is not us that is responsible for crappy education outcomes, it is NCLB, crappy parents, prop13 poverty, etc.
      3. We are overworked and underpaid.
      4. We are heroes and victims at the same time.
      5. The kids suffer because of you, not because of us.
      6. you need to give us more money just to protect the status quo… a status quo that has been on decline for the last 35 years not because of us, but because of #2 – #5.

      No solutions.

      Just demands for more money. More demands for teacher job protection.

      I’m sick of it.

      Thank God that technology is advancing and soon the entire old system will collapse from its own weight of high costs and declining value.

      1. wdf1

        Frankly: Again, everything about education can be measured.

        How do you propose to measure creativity, critical thinking, character, resilience, motivation, persistence, curiosity, reliability, enthusiasm, empathy, self-awareness, self-discipline, leadership, civic-mindedness, courage, compassion, resourcefulness, sense of beauty, sense of wonder, honesty, integrity artistry, the ability to identify and respond to social cues, self-esteem, a sense of belonging?

        A lot of this can be identified qualitatively and individually by teachers. Standardizing and quantifying those assessments across the board doesn’t allow for the fact that there will be plenty of situations not accounted for in standardized measurements.

  11. Frankly

    I have an idea. Traditional public education is sucking at delivering consistent positive outcomes for core curriculum. It is getting worse while the cost keeps going up faster than the rate of inflation.

    Targeted “school-of-one” private schools and technology-enabled self-paced-tutored core curriculum do a better job and will continue to build a gap in value between it and public schools. However, more fragmented targeting education will cause a negative impact in the community centering aspect of public schools. The more fragmented private education approach will develop great difficulty providing athletics, band, and some other organized activities that we know contribute to education and add value to a community.

    So, how about we increase funding to equal about $10,000 per student… and redirect the public schools to focus on arts and athletics… and provide vouchers for at least half of that amount to be spent by families that can get a better education for their children at a private school? In the case where the public school is doing a good enough job with both, parents will naturally keep their kids enrolled there. However, if a private school opens and it is a better fit, or it does a better job, then the parents are free to enroll their kids in that institution using a voucher.

    All private schools accepting vouchers would need to comply with certain operations regulations (like accepting a percentage of disabled or special needs students, but limited so that they are free to innovate to create the outcomes they set as their goals.

    I would vote to tax myself more to fund a change like this.

    And wdf1 and I would both agree with the benefit of retaining and enhance the arts opportunities for children.

    1. Don Shor

      How about if we quit trying to take money away from public schools via vouchers? If there are good models for education delivery, charter schools within the public school system are always an option. Of course, the Davis schools have many options already, but there’s always room for more if there are parents and teachers interested in providing them.

      1. Frankly

        What a buzz kill.

        Like I said, technology is going to kill public education anyway, so why not get in front of it with a plan instead of just waiting for it to take you out?

        1. wdf1

          Frankly: I will post evidence that more of the students of these charter schools are graduating and going to college. There are measures demonstrating achievement of the primary mission. link

          Are you going to post some examples of exemplary schools in keeping with this?

  12. wdf1

    The Orwellian world of No Child Left Behind:

    7/24/2012: Cityview leaves North Minneapolis special education students behind

    Last week, the families of 40 Minneapolis students with significant special needs received an unwelcome phone call. The promise that their children would be able to return to their North Minneapolis classrooms when school starts in just over a month would be broken. The children, who have disabilities such as autism and Down syndrome that make transitions particularly difficult, will not be welcomed back to the one-year-old charter Minnesota School of Science, which took over the district’s Cityview Elementary School in August 2011.

    In 2010, when No Child Left Behind mandated that the Minneapolis school district take drastic action to improve Cityview’s test scores, the district school board voted to usher Cityview out and turn over the space to the charter Minnesota School of Science the following year.

    Until last year, the children’s classrooms were part of Cityview elementary school. Under No Child Left Behind, students’ consistently low test scores gave the district three options: shut the school down, fire and rehire the entire staff, or provide an alternative option for the students to receive high-quality education.

    Meanwhile, MPS was developing a new strategy for dealing with its underperforming schools and auspicious achievement gap: it opened an Office of New Schools that would build a portfolio of innovative partner schools. The office supported the development of the site-governed Pierre Bottineau French Immersion school, set to open this fall. It also began authorizing charter schools including Minnesota School of Science.

    The Minneapolis school board voted to authorize MSS in July 2010. In November of that year, the board held a public hearing to discuss a recommendation that Cityview close. A number of parents objected to the closing, including parents of special education students.

    On December 7, 2010, in a 4 to 3 vote, Minneapolis’s board decided to close Cityview Elementary at the end of the school year and phase out Cityview Middle School within three years. Minnesota School of Science, part of a chain of successful charters managed by the national not-for-profit Concept Schools, would move into the space. Cityview became the sixth district school to close in North Minneapolis in three years. At that point, it was unclear what would happen to the seven autism and developmental cognitive disorders classrooms in the building.

  13. Frankly

    In the 1976-77 school year 8.3% of the total student population was considered to be disabled or have special needs.

    In the 2009-2010 school year that number had risen to 13.1%

    https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=64

    This increase in the number of registered disabled is not just attributable to children.

    “In the past three decades, the number of Americans who are on disability has skyrocketed. The rise has come even as medical advances have allowed many more people to remain on the job, and new laws have banned workplace discrimination against the disabled. Every month, 14 million people now get a disability check from the government.”

    In 1961 25.7% of disabled workers were because of heart disease and stroke. In 2011 that number was 10.6%. We know that medical advances are responsible for this change. Also, it is next to impossible to fake these problems.

    However, in contrast back pain and musculoskeletal, which counted for 8.3% of disability claims in 1961, skyrocketed to 33.8% in 2011.

    There is a connection between the increase in childhood and adult worker disability and special needs. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to our transition from a patriarchal society to a matriarchal society. The US uses to be a place when the going got tough the tough got going… now they seek special help.

    EVERY CHILD has special needs.

    EVERY WORKING-AGE ADULT should be required to work.

    Once we agree, our country will begin to return to greatness. Otherwise we will continue to spiral down into a Greek-like hell.

    1. Don Shor

      In the 1976-77 school year 8.3% of the total student population was considered to be disabled or have special needs.
      In the 2009-2010 school year that number had risen to 13.1%

      Yes. Now we recognize that students have conditions that merit special attention to their learning processes. Evidently you think this is a bad thing. Based on the tone and content of the remainder of your post, it seems you think it’s a sign of moral decay.
      No, in fact “every child” does NOT have “special needs.” That statement is preposterous.

      1. Frankly

        What’s preposterous is the lazy and teacher-centric approach to education that has caused a spike in the number of children diagnosed with ADD.

        I do agree that we probably do a better job today identifying children with special needs, but the numbers speak to a level of extremism. There is no way that 13.1% of our kids are disabled. But what you and others fail to grasp or fail to understand is that until and unless we change our perspective from one where there are two types of students to one where there are as many different types of students as there are children attending school, our education system will forever fail to adequately educate the population.

        1. wdf1

          Frankly: There is no way that 13.1% of our kids are disabled.

          If you throw in the number of children with diabetes, which seems to have connections to cognitive-related issues, that number seems about right to me.

          I think a large number of child diabetes cases could be treated successfully with better diet and exercise, especially in lower-income communities, but that would require some involvement of federal health and welfare programs.

          …or we could just say it’s all due to a level of extremism and move on…

        2. Don Shor

          ADD was vastly over-diagnosed, in my not-professional opinion. But I don’t see how you arrive at “extremism” just because the educational professionals are better able to identify obstacles to learning. It was just such an obstacle, the sort of thing that would never have been recognized in past decades, that got my kid an IEP and gave us the tools to help him succeed.

          There is no way that 13.1% of our kids are disabled.

          Perhaps we’ve redefined ‘disabled’, but I also think neither you nor I have the professional background to make that statement.
          There is nothing lazy about what they’re doing. It is a process of identifying specific deficits in an individual student that may be holding him or her back. Hence I had a child who was simultaneously in Special Ed and GATE. And needed both in order to achieve success.

    2. wdf1

      Frankly: I’m impressed that you’re embracing this criticism of children in the public schools. Perhaps you can expand on this and explain where you’re coming from with respect to public education?

      In the past few years I have seen children with clear cases of autism and Downs syndrome participating in classroom activities in the Davis schools. I cannot remember ever seeing any such child in any public school when I was growing up. Were things any different when you went to schools in Dixon?

      There has been legislation passed to open up public schools to more special education situations.

      1) The Education for All Handicapped Children Act passed in 1975, requiring “all public schools accepting federal funds to provide equal access to education and one free meal a day for children with physical and mental disabilities. Public schools were required to evaluate handicapped children and create an educational plan with parent input that would emulate as closely as possible the educational experience of non-disabled students.”

      2) The Individuals with Disabilities Act passed in 1990, and provides “early intervention, special education, and related services to children with disabilities. It addresses the educational needs of children with disabilities from birth to age 18 or 21[1][2] in cases that involve 14 specified categories of disability.” This is the legislation that provides for IEPs, Individualized Education Plans, in the public schools, something that I took advantage of for my “non-template learner,” diagnosed w/ a strong case of ADHD.

      IMO don’t think my child would have survived in the public schools I attended in the 1970’s. Is your point that the percent of special ed cases is accounted for by many more children (like my child) being dubiously classified as special-ed? And by our participating in this special-ed program, we were unjustifiably sucking on the teat of government assistance? And if you were raising my child by your self-defined “patriarchal” Randian libertarian norms, what do you imagine you might have done?

      And you think those 40 kids cited in my link should probably have been kicked out of school then?

      1. Frankly

        Each child is unique. And each child has “special” needs as it relates to education. But what we have done is narrow, instead of expand, this consideration. Today the schools are much more likely to teach to the top 30% and the bottom 20%. The middle 50% flounder and lack engagement.

        I was in the middle 50% and had a much better public school experience than did my two kids that were also middle 50%.

        And when I say middle 50%, I am not talking about human intelligence or human capability… I am talking about that narrowing band of academic intelligence and academic capability. And yes, NCLB has not helped in preventing that narrowing. But the narrowing was occurring long before NCLB.

        Your child with a strong case of ADHD is not the problem with the public schools. They take care of those kids pretty well. What they are failing to do… and ironically we are failing to do in the economy too… is provide service and opportunity to the middle-50%.

        I don’t want to take away from the bottom 20%, although I think we inflate that number due to the decline in the ability and outcomes educating the next group. And, I don’t want to take away from the top 30%.

        But absolutely nothing coming from the education establishment provides any plan for improving the middle 50%. In Davis, DaVinci is a start. Unfortunately for my kids, it was just getting started and it was experimental. it also had a stigma associate with it. My two kids are high IQ and high emotional intelligence artistic types and initially DaVinci was seen by them as a place the “stupid” and “ill-behaved” kids go. So maybe it was just the bad luck of poor timing that impacted their Davis public school education experience. But what is interesting to me… DaVinci was started with private funding… it was not something the public education establishing could or would do without that help. It is a strong indication that our best solution require us to move more to the private side.

        I think my kids will most likely be fine and there is probably a high probability that some of the people in the top 30% will eventually work for them. But they got screwed with Davis public schools beginning in junior high. And the result is that they are suffering from delays in their launch because they are having to go find out how to like education again.

        If you want to boil it down to a single problem, it is the problem of engagement. The public school system as designed is a bureaucratic relic. It is not dynamic enough. It is not responsive enough. It lacks a service orientation. It lacks the ability to constantly improve with enough scope and speed to meet the needs of our children in this fast-paced world we live in.

        The top 30% will be fine because there are enough jobs out there for strongly right-brained people, nerdy or otherwise. And of course, the government needs a steady supply of replacement employees since it keeps letting the older ones retire in the prime of their productive lives.

        But that middle 50% is getting more and more screwed.

        If I thought the public school model could respond well enough to fix these problems I would be the first to support it. However, it cannot. And it has to be completely blow up and replaced with a new modern marvel that will be the envy of the rest of the world. It will happen with you and other protectors of the status quo kicking and screaming all the way to a better tomorrow.

        1. Don Shor

          If I thought the public school model could respond well enough to fix these problems I would be the first to support it. However, it cannot.

          Except, of course, that it has in Davis, and lots of other school districts as well. But literally nothing we say or put in front of you will ever persuade you otherwise, because you are so caught up in your ideological biases. So Da Vinci would have worked for your sons, probably, but they had some unfounded bias against it. Wonder where they got that. Hm. My kids chose not to do Da Vinci, but some of their friends did. It seems to be a good example of a school district that is responding well to demand, fixing problems, using technology in a way that benefits many students. Not all. DSIS is an option for many kids. And Frankly, the fact is that most kids are, in fact, template learners who do just fine in that middle 50% range with good outcomes. The high percentage of Davis students that go on to college tells us that this district does a good job of educating kids overall. And the increased recognition of special conditions that benefit from extra attention, and the expansion of GATE, show us that the district is responsive to the other percentages.
          Remember: most parents are satisfied with the schools their kids attend. So “completely blowing up” something that is satisfactory to most parents and yields good outcomes locally seems like an extreme, unnecessary, and downright harmful thing to advocate.

          1. Frankly

            “So Da Vinci would have worked for your sons, probably, “

            I have no idea. And it was 2004-6.

            but they had some unfounded bias against it. Wonder where they got that. Hm.”

            We put pressure on my oldest to go. It was his school mates that convinced him that he would not fit and not fit in. Also, no teacher or counselor could tell us it was a good idea. I think one problem both my kids had is that some of their friends were those top 30%.. We could have made him. Although it was new enough that we also did not know if it was going to be a good fit. It is not my training to make those calls. And most parents would not be able to make those calls.

            You don’t know if it would have helped. You also did not respond to the fact that DaVinci was a private-funded startup.

            The fact is that the Davis school system did a crappy job educating my kids from jr. high on. The same is true with many people I know and talk to. Maybe you just talk to those in the top 30% and bottom 20%. You might need to get out more.

          2. Don Shor

            You don’t know if it would have helped. You also did not respond to the fact that DaVinci was a private-funded startup.

            I have no problem with private-public partnerships to improve the public schools. Neither does Bill Gates.

            The fact is that the Davis school system did a crappy job educating my kids from jr. high on. The same is true with many people I know and talk to. Maybe you just talk to those in the top 30% and bottom 20%. You might need to get out more.

            And the Davis school system did a great job of educating my kids from Jr. high on, thanks to the various learning options that were available to us and the fact that I was an engaged parent in the education of my children.
            You know, I probably talk to more people on any given Saturday, from more walks of life, than you do in a full week.

          3. Don Shor

            Funded in part by grants from the New Tech Foundation of the Gates Foundation, run by the school district and managed as a public entity. So it is a private-public partnership.

            And it was 2004-6.

            Then our children are nearly the same age.

          4. Frankly

            Enter “private-public” partnership in Google and see what you come up with.

            What is the first year that DaVinci started?

          5. Don Shor

            What’s your point? I am happy to see partnerships between the private sector, such as the Gates Foundation, and public schools such as DJUSD. Is that better? I would like to see more of those partnerships. I’m glad Bill and Melinda Gates take a special interest in education.

            I think DaVinci started in 2004 (or 2003?). It was about when my daughter was entering her senior year and was well on track toward her career options, and my son was firmly ensconced in DSIS, which was working well. He had friends in DaVinci who liked it and did well there.

  14. wdf1

    Frankly: I was in the middle 50% and had a much better public school experience than did my two kids that were also middle 50%.

    The way you frame your situation is really what I take issue with the education system.

    In education we have a tradition of scoring and ranking. I understand where that comes from, and I don’t think that will change. But right now it’s too much. We have come to the point where we define everything that we can in education quantitatively and in a standardized manner, and then we use those numbers and stats to define educational quality and experience. This has only been made worse by NCLB. But it leaves out so much.

    At one point you shared a youtube video of your son performing solo on guitar. I remain very impressed with that performance and remember it well, and I know you are proud of him and his accomplishments. I thought I was listening to someone like Leo Kottke or Michael Hedges. With respect to creating a professional quality solo performance experience, he is clearly at the top compared to his HS peers. I understand that he participated in the HS jazz band. If so, that places him at the top of his peers in instrumental ensemble performance. There are life skill sets associated with those experiences that are just as relevant, maybe more, than what his GPA was or what he scored on a standardized test. But I’m not sure that his skill sets can be easily quantified. I don’t know of your other child as well, but I’m certain that he has the potential to develop or take advantage of other less quantifiable skill sets than are reflected in school grades or standardized test scores.

    As measured by class scores and standardized tests, my kids probably cover the spectrum. But we have always sought to make sure that they viewed themselves, their achievements and skills, beyond the numerical.

    I think a lot of ground level teachers understand that there is so much non-quantifiable experience in education that should be acknowledged, but that’s not coming through from NCLB, policy makers, influencers, and standardized test publishers.

  15. wdf1

    Duncan, Civil Rights, & Highly Qualified Teachers

    Ineffective Teaching: A Highly Effective Definition

    Discussion of teaching of a civil right often circles back around to the assertion that poor students have more lousy teachers than non-poor students. This assertion rests primarily on a model of circular reasoning. Follow along.

    A) Teachers are judged low-performing because their students score poorly on tests.

    B) Students low test scores are explained by the fact that they have low-performing teachers.

    Or, framed another way, this argument defines a low-quality teacher as any teacher whose students don’t do well on standardized tests. The assumption is that teachers are the only single solitary explanation for student standardized test scores. Nothing else affects those scores. Only teacher behavior explains the low scores. That’s it.

    Ergo, the best runners are runners who run down hills. Runners who are running uphill are slow runners, and must be replaced by those good runners– the ones we find running downhill. Or, the wettest dogs are the ones who are out in the rain, while the driest ones are the ones indoors. So if we take the indoor dogs outside, we will have drier dogs in the yard. While it rains.

    As long as we define low-quality teachers as those who teach low-achieving students (who we know will mostly be the children of poor folk), low-achieving students will always be taught by low-quality teachers. It’s the perfect education crisis, one that can never, ever be solved.

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