My View II: Now Is Not Time For a Teacher Pay Raise

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school2007 to 2012 entailed six long and hard years for the school district.  During that time, the voters of Davis stepped up in 2007, 2008, 2011 and twice in 2012 to either renew or pass new parcel taxes.  During that time, the Vanguard argued that new tax measures needed to go to the schools which need to have top priority.

However, times have changed.  The school district – aided by both community donations and five parcel taxes – will receive about a $4.3 million boost from the state next year.

On Thursday, teachers came forward at the school board meeting to urge the board to prioritize salary increases for teachers.

Let me be clear – in an ideal world, we would pay teachers what we pay firefighters and athletic programs would be holding bake sales in order to get new uniforms, but that is not the reality we face.  I understand that teachers accepted furlough days and salary cuts while times were bad and had to work in larger classes.

While we were glad to see Superintendent Winfred Roberson and Associate Superintendent Bruce Colby note that the school district faces a long list of needs, everyone needs to stop for a second.  The school district does not have $4.3 million to play with right now.  That came from the community.  That came largely in the form of parcel taxes.

For six years, the school district could have no better partner than the city of Davis.  The city of Davis never put a competing parcel tax measure on the ballot.  The city of Davis in 2012 asked for only a $49 parks tax when they probably needed three times that.  Every single councilmember in the city of Davis backed every single parcel tax measure on the ballot.

It is time for the school district to return the favor.  The parcel tax in 2012 was passed with the notion that it was an emergency to help the school district avoid additional layoffs of teachers.  If the city has additional money that it can spend, that emergency has passed.

The city of Davis now faces its own emergency.  It needs to pass a sales tax measure this June and it really needs to pass a second tax measure in the fall to fund parks and roads.

As I write here today, it is difficult to conceive that the city could pass two tax measures this year, but if the school district agrees to give back some of their parcel taxes from the November 2012 election, then perhaps that changes the prognosis.

The school district should be mindful as well that the people most likely to benefit in this community from a city parcel tax are kids and families.  We have a decaying street system that makes it a hazard for kids who are walking and biking to safely get to school.

Parks are badly in need of an infrastructure upgrade and the prime benefactors of those will be children.  From that standpoint, the school district, which has been helped so much by the community, now needs to step up for the community and allow the city to have its turn in fixing its fiscal mess – the schools were given no less of a courtesy by the city in the last six years.

But there is another issue at play here, as well, and that has to do with the leadership of the teacher’s union itself.  Back in 2012, voters in March approved Measure C.  However, Measure C did not go far enough and the school district faced a $3.5 million deficit.

The teachers at that time could have taken concessions that would have saved the jobs 57 teachers.  The DTA refused to take concessions that the other two bargaining groups in the school district accepted and that decision meant that the district laid off 57 teachers.

One teacher on Thursday noted that Davis may lose some of its finest young teachers, but in fact that happened just two years ago and the DTA had every ability to prevent that.

Finally, it should be noted that the district is not exactly swimming in surplus money.  Bruce Colby at the Thursday meeting noted that, while this was the first budget increase in several years, the $4.3 million is not nearly enough to cover all of the needs that have accumulated over the years.

He argued that, while the additional money is nice, it does not begin to cover the $15 million which the district has lost over the last five years.

However, given what the community has done so far, that it is the city’s turn for emergency money and the school district needs to think long and hard before figuring out how to spend the $4.3 million to cover things like class size reduction or employee compensation.  There are still emergencies in this community – we are glad for now that the schools are out of the woods.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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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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181 thoughts on “My View II: Now Is Not Time For a Teacher Pay Raise”

  1. SODA

    I admit I am uninformed, but didn’t the Board recently pass a large amount for upgrading computers for new Core testing? Was that absolutely necessary or was it a case of silo accounting? Just asking…

    1. wdf1

      SODA: I admit I am uninformed, but didn’t the Board recently pass a large amount for upgrading computers for new Core testing? Was that absolutely necessary or was it a case of silo accounting? Just asking…

      One feature of Common Core testing is that it is done on computers.

    2. isalim

      Yes, the Board did approve a broad plan for installing wifi in schools, upgrading computer labs throughout the district as well as increasing the number of smaller machines that will be used for the upcoming Common Core Assessment, to be piloted this spring. Yes, the original motivator was the assessment, which utilizes the electronic medium to elicit whole, written prompts from students as well as direct additional questions based on ‘reading’ those responses (for just part of the assessment). The monies for this plan come out of specifically designated Common Core funds, which must be used to promote the Common Core Standards. The infrastructure as well as all of the hardware will be used throughout the year by instructors, with the goal of bringing our district into an educational era where technology is ubiquitous and familiar.

  2. Greg Brucker

    SODA:

    The state, as part of the new monies coming to the schools, approved $1B or so specifically for technology upgrades to help get us ready for the new Common Core testing systems and standards implementation. It was necessary because the technology in the district is old and would not be able to handle what common core testing requires. This money was not allowed to be spent on anything but upgrades to help implement Common Core. All districts in CA received money directly for us to help implement the CCSS (Common Core).

    1. Mr. Toad

      Yes, the state dedicated all that money for testing. Testing has become an end in itself, a huge industry with billions flowing to McGraw Hill and Silicon Valley tech companies who sell the computers and tests needed for the testing. The irony is that high states standardized testing was originally about school reform on the cheap and now its funding has become more important than the teacher in the classroom.

      1. Greg Brucker

        The privatization of education is something that is a great concern to many of us in education. But at least, with thanks to the state for passing prop 30, the state has the money to pay for the upgrades for everyone and we aren’t having to dig deep into our own pockets to make it happen.

  3. wdf1

    David:

    In 2010-11 teachers took a 2% cut that year.

    Also, there are other ways in which teachers have taken cuts in concessions that are not accounted for here. For instance, raising class sizes and paying more out of pocket for healthcare. Both resulted in budget savings, and restoring both can be interpreted as a compensation improvement. Would you argue against that?

    1. wdf1

      wdf1: In 2010-11 teachers took a 2% cut that year.

      Vanguard: I understand that teachers accept furlough days and salary cuts while times were bad and had to work in larger classes.

      Okay. That pay cut was paid for by furloughs. But class sizes across the board are still larger than in 2007.

    2. growth issue

      There are many Davis residents who are also paying more for healthcare (—> me) and have had to take on more responsibilities at work and have taken paycuts. And on top of that we’re all paying more in school parcel taxes to boot.

      1. Greg Brucker

        Teachers right now are paying up to $1400 or so out of pocket per month for healthcare for their families. That amount was increased by close to $200 this year as the district contribution didn’t increase and was passed on to teachers.

        How much do you pay out of pocket for healthcare costs?

        1. growth issue

          “Teachers right now are paying up to $1400 or so out of pocket per month for healthcare for their families.”

          I always like the term “up to”. So up to could mean anywhere from “0” to $1400. Personally I don’t believe that any full time teacher in Davis is paying $1400/month for healthcare. You’re going to have to show me proof of that, and I’ll disclose that I’m married to a Montessori teacher and my daughter is a high school English teacher so I have a pretty good idea of their benefits.

          1. Greg Brucker

            Nice attempt at a straw man as a way to deflect the issue and avoid the question you were directly asked.

            I will ask again: what do you pay out of pocket?

            Also, are your family members teachers in Davis?

          2. growth issue

            You still haven’t shown me proof that a full time Davis teacher can pay $1400/month for healthcare.

          3. Greg Brucker

            Stop deflecting. Your refusal to answer only suggests that your family members don’t teach in Davis, otherwise you would have no problem saying that yes, they do teach in Davis, so you have a right to speak about what is happening in town. Considering that, it is completely clear that you have no leg to stand on when talking about what you think teachers receive for benefits in Davis, and therefore, have no place in this discussion. Am I wrong?

            Now, lets say your family does work in Davis:

            Would you tell your S.O. and daughter they were wrong and didn’t deserve higher pay if they came home and stated they needed a pay raise and were starting to have trouble with affording living?

            Further, I trust my colleagues as honest hardworking people (I teach at 2 jr highs in Davis and know lots of teachers everywhere in town) who truly care about the best for the children in and outside of our community. If you are questioning that by stating that they are lying to me when we talk about important things like health care and pay, then you don’t know the teachers in this town that I know and speak to regularly.

          4. growth issue

            Back atcha, speaking of deflecting I’m still waiting for that proof, if you can come up with it I’ll admit I was wrong.

          5. Greg Brucker

            Listen man, I’ll gladly invite you on campus to speak to teachers personally if you like. But that’s about the best I can do because I have a feeling that if I were to do a survey of them and show it to you, you will would call it a lie and question it. So, if you want, offer is on the table.

            Second, and again, you would have originally put up the info that your family worked in Davis if it was true and their earnings supported your argument. You freely offered info about them in the conversation, and considering your stance, having your SO and daughter work in Davis (and you seeing their info) could only bolster your argument if you were correct, possibly giving support to your point that we don’t deserve or need a raise. Considering that, why would you choose to leave out that bit of information if it helped your argument? That makes no logical sense for anyone to do. So what it comes down to is that either your family doesn’t work in Davis, or, they do and you don’t’ want to admit it because you’d then know how much people are paying out of pocket, which goes against your argument.

            The truth I refuse to use the district plans because they are so expensive. I would be paying, for my wife and myself, about $700 out of pocket on top of the district contribution. We cannot afford that. I am lucky that my wife works at UCD and her benefits are great and cheap. I am signed up through her. Imagine adding a few hundred for each child on top of that. The “up to” number refers to families with several children.

            Also, that you seem to be questioning my sincerity and integrity, I will also suggest that I wouldn’t be using my real name if I was trying to be disingenuous. Why would I lie in public and damage myself?

          6. growth issue

            It’s been my experience that family plans aren’t predicated on number of children. They usually are self, self plus children, self plus spouse, and self plus spouse plus children.

          7. hpierce

            Who’s “deflecting” here? Does the first one who asks a question get a “hall pass” from answering another question? Sounds kinda “childish” to me.

          8. Michelle Millet

            G.I. You have stated that your wife is Kindergarten teacher in the past, and that she is a Montessori Teacher. As far as I none of the 3 Montessori Kindergarten teachers at Birch Lane are old enough to have daughter that teach high school. Unless she is currently teaching another grade at Birch Lane, I assume she teaches at one on the private Montessori schools in town.

          9. SouthofDavis

            Greg wrote:

            > Nice attempt at a straw man as a way to deflect the
            > issue and avoid the question you were directly asked.

            Mind if we ask you to look at your pay stub and let us know how much you pay for health care every month (and how many people are covered)?

            I don’t think growth issue is going to support a pay increase no mater what you say, but when you “spin” things and try to “trick” people in to thinking every teacher is coming out of pocket $1,400 a month you are doing more harm than good…

          10. Greg Brucker

            Yes I do mind, because this isn’t about me, so for you to try to make it about me instead of the issue is only a deflection device. Thanks for trolling, through.

          11. SouthofDavis

            Greg:

            I’m on your side (as far as pay raises go) and I’m just trying to point out that sticking to real numbers (like what you actually pay) will get more people on our side, while pretending that everyone pays the same as the guy with 10 kids and 2 foster kids will end up hurting support for raises…

          12. Greg Brucker

            I appreciate that.

            Though, you are putting words in my mouth in stating that I said that everyone pays the $1400. People are at different levels based on the number of people covered and the level of coverage/plan. Some, with more children and for better coverage, are paying that much money. Some are paying less. No one is paying nothing or close to it unless they don’t take the district benefits.

          13. hpierce

            Appears to me that you are doing exactly the same that you accuse others, and inferring they are “trolls”. Very mature, professional, and justified. Not.

          14. wdf1

            G.I.: I always like the term “up to”. So up to could mean anywhere from “0″ to $1400.

            Usually those deductions are made on a sliding scale based on what salary a teacher makes.

          15. growth issue

            Okay wdf1, you always seem to know everything school related, show me that sliding scale where a Davis teacher can pay
            “up to” $1400/mo. for healthcare.

          16. wdf1

            I base it on what I’ve heard in school board discussion. If this is an issue that you really want to know the answer to, I suggest calling Bruce Colby, in charge of Business Services in the school district, during business hours at 530-757-5300 x122.

          17. Matt Williams

            G.I. Did Greg really say “$1,400 per month”? I read his words as “$1,400 per year” but now having gone back to his original comment, I see that he truly did say $1,400 per month. That works out to $16,800 per year. Hard to imagine that the employee portion is that high.

            Out of curiosity, what percentage of each employee’s healthcare premium does the School District pay?

          18. Matt Williams

            So G.I., some simple math says that the healtcare insurance premium for some DJUSD teachers is $28,700 per year.

            Is that right Greg Brucker?

          19. Greg Brucker

            Matt:

            I don’t know about the big numbers of overall benefit costs so I won’t comment on that. But, my statement was based on what I hear (and have heard for years) from folks I teach with. The top range was around $1200/mo through this year and costs were increased this year by up to $200. Years ago, as an individual, my costs out of pocket were about $600 or so. I am a dta rep at one of my sites and get lots of feedback/info from teachers as I chat with them-this is where the info comes from.

            Fwiw, I didn’t state this earlier and don’t want to leave this open to speculation:

            I don’t blame the board or district one bit for where we are today. We just went through a depression (I don’t believe for a second it was a recession) and we all buckled down to get through it. The board and admin should be praised and commended for their work in keeping our schools the way we want to see them for our kids through a really challenging time in our history. And I think the board and admin recognize that along with everything else we need to add funding to in helping to repair the damage caused by the depression, that teacher compensation should be on the list. I believe they want to take a balanced approach, from the way they’ve discussed it at board meetings, and I think it is a smart move on their part! We need to be smart about how we spend any new monies coming into the district.

          20. growth issue

            Yeah Matt, $28,700 sounds very expensive for a health care plan. That sounds like one of those plans that are called a cadillac plans that the ACA has added an extra tax on. I guess it’s nice if you can afford one.

          21. growth issue

            When my dad was alive he used to tell me stories of life during the depression of the 1930’s. Believe me, the last recession was a far cry from being a depression.

          22. isalim

            Not sure if anyone will still see this, but I looked up the PDF (can be sent, but not easily posted) that lists our health benefits: we do NOT have a sliding scale by salary, and DO have three categories (employee , employee +1, and employee + 2 or more). The cheapest for an individual ranges from $490/mo for PersSelect to $785 for Blue Shield to $1083 for a PersCare plan. For one employee and dependent, the range is from $974 for Select to $1570 for Blue Shield. For a family larger than that, the range is $1267 for the cheapest plan, to $2040 for Blue Shield. The ‘cadillac’ plan is considerably higher. And yes, these are monthly costs, not annual.

  4. Michelle Millet

    When was the last time teachers have received a pay raise?

    When I was substitute teaching about 12 years ago class sizes for K-3 were capped at 20. When my daughter started Kindergarten 5 years ago they were at 24, when my son started 2 years ago that number jumped to 31.

    That jump does not just translate to more work in the classroom, it translates to more work outside the classroom as well.

    IMO they should get, at least, an increase in compensation that reflects the increase in workload that comes with having significantly larger class sizes, I do not believe this has happened.

      1. Michelle Millet

        Irrelevant to the point that I’m making, which is their workload has significantly increased and their salaries have not reflected this.

        At least when firefighters and police officers, and other union employees work over time they get paid for it. Teachers do not.

          1. wdf1

            Probably not. When CSR (class size reduction) was originally implemented in 1996 originally, it resulted in a massive hiring of teachers across the state. There was a teacher shortage as a result. You wouldn’t attract more new teachers by cutting back on salaries.

            I don’t think teachers have an attractive salary scale. I would probably be a grade school teacher if the salary were better.

          2. Mr. Toad

            You are correct it had the unintended consequence of exacerbating a teacher shortage but the pay increases were needed because during the recession of the early 90’s teachers didn’t get a raise for Pete Wilson’s entire first term and only a small one during his second even though inflation was running much higher then. At the secondary level where there was limited class size reduction there was a huge teacher shortage because of low pay.

          3. Michelle Millet

            I have no idea, it don’t even know for sure that they haven’t gotten a raise as class sizes increase.

            I do think it’s relevant when we are discussing their wages to note their increase in workload.

    1. Cecilia

      I completely agree Michelle. Teachers and aides are the unsung heroes in our community. When there is an increase in their workload it requires them to use their own time after school and at home to complete their work and at times they find themselves digging into their pockets for school supplies that they may be in need of. It may not be a good time for a raise, but we need to take a long hard look at what the needs are for our educators and work to provide them the tools to educate our children. And, if one tools is better pay for increased workload (i.e. larger class size) then we need to provide that to them. We cannot keep asking for more and providing less or the same. It just does not work. Teachers have the most important job in our community and it’s time we treat it as such.

      1. hpierce

        Yet, expecting more, and compensating less is going on all over the place.

        Want to make clear that I support 100% medical/dental coverage (lowest cost FULL plan) for the employee, and if they are the sole support of their family, for their dependents as well.

      2. iPad Guy

        I think we’re on a unhealthy track if we think we’re “solving” much of our class size problems by increasing teacher pay for larger classes. This puts us in a bad cycle, and only temporarily band-aids the real problem.

        I haven’t run into at teacher who argues that effective education is anything but hampered by bigger and bigger classes. A slight bump in salary (while welcome) doesn’t deal with the damage that class sizes are doing to our students.

        We again should commit to putting our resources and management toward reducing class sizes.

        And, if typical Davis teachers and other staff really are paying nearly $17,000 of their modest salaries as their health care share, this “benefit” needs reexamination. I don’t approach this cost even with my dozen or so pre-existing conditions.

        1. Michelle Millet

          I think we’re on a unhealthy track if we think we’re “solving” much of our class size problems by increasing teacher pay for larger classes.

          I agree. But I think this fact should be taken into account when discussing raises, or lack there of.

          1. hpierce

            Do you mean increasing teacher salaries, to reflect larger class sizes, make those salaries the new base, and when/if class sizes are reduced the base wages remain (or are further increased)? Just asking.

  5. Mark West

    In my opinion, our best teachers are grossly under compensated, but at the same time, our worst ones are grossly over compensated. The problem is that the Union insists on having teachers pay based on years of service, rather than teaching ability with the result being we have to pay our bad teachers the exact same salary as the good ones.

    If we want to improve the quality of our schools, and pay our teachers what they deserve, we need to be able to differentiate between good teaching and bad teaching, then reward the good while getting rid of the bad.

          1. growth issue

            No I’m not saying that, it’s just that teachers do know who the bad teachers are. Heck, I’ve read where in some districts because of the unions and not being able to fire the bad teachers they end up letting them sit in a classroom all day collecting their full checks. Nice gig if you can get it.

          2. wdf1

            And of course your wife and daughter would not fall into the category of a bad teacher, right?

            So what does that mean? A good or bad teacher is like the legal definition of obscenity?

          3. growth issue

            No, I didn’t say that. Like any other job if you aren’t performing then maybe it’s time to move on. The problem is when a teacher isn’t performing it’s our kids that suffer. So wdf1, how do you feel about bad teachers that end up sitting in a classroom all day collecting their full checks doing basically nothing because they can’t get fired?

          4. Mark West

            I don’t decide the criteria for determining a good Firefighter, Nuclear Engineer or Screen Writer, so why would my definition of a good teacher be of any importance in this discussion.

            Every Principal knows who are the good teachers at a school and who are the bad. I suspect that the rest of the faculty knows as well. We are apparently able to evaluate the work product of every job classification in the world, and compensate them according to their relative value, except of course for public school teachers. Uh huh. Makes sense to me.

          5. Michelle Millet

            What if a principal had a personal problem with a particular teacher, or really liked one teachers teaching style over another?

            Part of the problem is “good” is subjective. My definition of what makes a teacher “good” is very different from others. There may be a teacher some parents love, who I’d avoid at all cost.

            I’m not saying there shouldn’t be a way to compensate “good” teachers and weed out “bad” ones. I’m just saying it’s not as easy as it sounds.

          6. David Greenwald Post author

            One of my best friends from college got a job teaching at his old high school in Palo Alto. But his politics were different than the majority of teachers – he was conservative and they were liberal – so they ultimately were going to deny him tenure even though the parents felt he was the best teacher in the school, and knowing him, he probably was.

          7. growth issue

            I’m surprised you told this story. It just shows how our schools are being dominated by liberal teachers and how petty they can be.

          8. wdf1

            In recent years, Republican platforms have not been in line with what teachers experience, so I think these days teachers tend to skew away from Republican positions, but many teachers have been equally cold to Obama’s education policies.

            But I think the political views of teachers tends to reflect the community. I grew up in a community where it seemed that most teachers voted Republican. Palo Alto is verifiably a more liberal community. Source

          9. Michelle Millet

            Some people choose to tell the truth, regardless of whether it supports their opinion or not.

          10. Mark West

            Michelle:

            All job revues are subjective in one way or another, and every supervisor has their own personal criteria for evaluation, which is why most companies have HR departments. What I don’t understand is why anyone would think that public school teaching is any harder to evaluate than any other occupation.

          11. David Greenwald Post author

            Really? Let’s take baseball, completely transparent and objective to measure performance. You don’t think it would be easier to evaluate baseball performance than teacher performance? How do you even measure performance for teachers?

          12. Mark West

            David:

            Why is it that private school are capable of evaluating teacher performance? Is it somehow harder to evaluate a public school teacher than a private school one? No. Some people just don’t want to be held up to a standard of performance.

          13. David Greenwald Post author

            How do you know they are? Just because they do it, doesn’t mean they are doing it correctly. I have a similar story about a different friend who taught at a private school.

          14. Matt Williams

            David, it seems like you are arguing that anything less than perfection (in a teacher evaluation system) is unacceptable.

            Am I hearing you correctly?

    1. Matt Williams

      I concur with the concept Mark is describing 100%, although, at the detail level, I’m not sure that “grossly overcompensated” is an accurate term for the less good teachers in all cases.

    2. Greg Brucker

      Mark:

      I appreciate your thoughts greatly! But the seniority vs. merit with regard to employment/pay/etc discussion, at this point in time, has nothing to do with whether the our teachers in our specific situation deserve a bump in pay or not this year.

      Having said that, it is a conversation that I am very open to having, in working to find new solutions that create a stronger educational system on the whole for our future children and our country.

      1. Mark West

        “But the seniority vs. merit with regard to employment/pay/etc discussion, at this point in time, has nothing to do with whether the our teachers in our specific situation deserve a bump in pay or not this year.”

        Sure it does. In fact it is the most important discussion that needs to take place before any discussion about pay increases is considered. The simple fact that the District has a bit more money in the bank is not a justification for increasing compensation for teachers.

        1. Michelle Millet

          The simple fact that the District has a bit more money in the bank is not a justification for increasing compensation for teachers.

          I think most people agree that there is plenty of justification for teacher to receive a raise.

          Teacher should not have to justify the reasons why they should get raise. The district should justify why the are not giving them one.

          1. growth issue

            “The district should justify why the are not giving them one.”

            Let me see, maybe because the district came crying poor to homeowners and have slapped several school parcel taxes on them and now while these same homeowners are in many cases struggling to pay these extra taxes they want to dish out raises.

            This reminds me the council coming to us for a .5% sales tax in 2006 and then turning around and giving the revenue to the firefighters.

    1. Matt Williams

      Interesting point Don … one that prompts the following “value to society” questions:

      What is the comparative relationship between the average teacher’s base salary in Davis and the average firefighter’s base salary in Davis?

      What is the comparative relationship between the average teacher’s overtime pay in Davis and the average firefighter’s overtime pay in Davis?

      What is the comparative relationship between the annual cost of benefits for the average teacher in Davis and the annual cost of benefits for the average firefighter in Davis?

      Those three questions could also be asked with the word “average” replaced by the words “entry level”

      1. growth issue

        We shouldn’t be comparing any public sector pay to what the firefighters make. The firefighter’s pay isn’t a good barometer to base anything on because most of Davis residents realise that the firefighters are “”””grossly overpaid””””.

      2. Mr. Toad

        Teachers don’t get overtime. If they did they would be making more than the ff’s. I would work all day and grade as much as I could all night. Then i would figure out what I was going to teach and go buy materials with my own money. Teaching hands on science there was always something to buy; wax paper, bricks, vegetable oil, pancake syrup, balloons, string, aluminum foil, dry bean, matches, toothpicks, bicycles, helmets, toys, sponges, candles are just a few items that come to mind. Then on the weekends I would get caught up on the rest of my paper work and planning.

        1. Michelle Millet

          They don’t get paid overtime, but many like you, work it. I shutter to think what the hourly wages of my children’s teachers would turn out to be if all of the non-contracted work hours they put in were added to the equations.

          I hope people remember this when discussing teachers wages.

      3. hpierce

        Matt.. interesting concept, setting entry level teacher salaries to entry level FF’s… there is a difference. An entry level teacher can expect a 2.5% increase in salary for the next 20 years. An entry level FF can expect a 5% increase each year for 5 years. Do the math.

        As to FF’s, it is often said that they deserve much higher pay, due to risks of the profession. Easily dealt with by lowering/freezing salaries and the City funding higher life/disability policies. The percentage of CalTrans maintenance and engineer folks who die or who are seriously injured in ‘the line of duty’ are higher (from what I have read) than FF’s.

        1. Matt Williams

          There is another way to deal with the “risks of the profession” When they are sitting around waiting for an actual fire where they actually are exposed to risk, they get paid a “non risk” base hourly rate. When they actually are called upon to do actual fire fighting duty, then the hourly pay goes up to a “hazardous duty rate.”

          1. hpierce

            I like my idea better, and with your idea, I can see where the base salary would remain the same as current, and the “premium” would be on top of that. Can’t get there. Still think the salary rates should be significantly lower, and the disability etc. insurance coverage should be significantly higher.

          2. Matt Williams

            If that is what you heard me say, then I did a lousy job of explaining. What I was trying to say was that a firefighter’s base salary would be reduced to match the base salary of teachers. The hazardous duty pay per hour would be around what it is now. I agree that the disability etc. insurance coverage should be significantly higher.

            Medical calls and false alarms would not be considered hazardous duty. Essentially only actual fires would get the hazardous duty pay rate. If I remember David’s numbers correctly actual fires are less than 5% of all the wheels rolling incidents.

  6. Michelle Millet

    If we want to improve the quality of our schools, and pay our teachers what they deserve, we need to be able to differentiate between good teaching and bad teaching, then reward the good while getting rid of the bad.

    In theory I agree. Problem is in implementation.

    How do we decide who is a good teacher and who is a bad? Test scores don’t seem a fair way as scores reflect much more then a teachers ability, they reflect educational background of parents, income level, language, home life etc. If we judge teachers this way how to we know they all start and continue on a level playing field.

    1. Mark West

      When was the last time you were asked to help develop the criteria for evaluating the performance of the Doctors at Kaiser? How about the evaluation of the tellers performance at your bank? Police Officers? Dog Catchers? Anything?

      So why do you think you need to have a say in determining what is good vs. bad teacher performance? Why is it necessary for the public to get involved at all. Whether the job is public sector or private, management sets the criteria and evaluates the performance with HR overseeing the process. That is how it works in the real world, but for some strange reason, not with public school teachers.

      1. Michelle Millet

        After any doctor appointment at Kaiser I’m asked via email to fill out an evaluation of my experience. Same for many stores I shop in that offer coupons for doing so. I’m not sure what your point is?

        1. hpierce

          My point would be, does DJUSD ask for parent feedback every quarter or every year? Kaiser is more sensitive to perceptions/outcomes than DJUSD is. Which is a point I think you just made.

      2. Mr. Toad

        Certainly you could come up with criteria. Should student standardized test scores count? This is the kind of nonsense Michelle Rhee supports.

        I spent many years, more than half my life, in classrooms as a student, teacher and parent. In each situation my perspective was different. The problem is that teaching is an art not a science.

        Another problem with this whole incompetent teacher thing is it fails to recognize that half of new teachers leave the classroom in the first few years so there is a process in place that already separates the wheat from the chaff. Another part is observation just as the Supreme court justice said about obscenity “I know it when I see it.” If principals did a lot more observation of new teachers it would help.

        One reform that I think would have merit would be to delay granting tenure for a third or fourth year so that new teachers are given a better chance to bring their craft up to a level that is acceptable while still being carefully monitored. One thing most people I know agrees that it takes at least three years to really get your skills together, lesson planning, classroom management, discipline. Teachers need to master many skills and then still make mistakes.

        Ever since Socrates was forced to drink hemlock people have struggled with who should teach the children. Of course today the Socratic method is considered to be the highest form of teaching because it requires students to think critically. Simple minded arguments that deny teachers fair compensation without reform of a system that has confounded our best thinkers for thousands of years is disheartening.

        1. Matt Williams

          One reform that I think would have merit would be to delay granting tenure for a third or fourth year

          Toad, is there any reason that there should be tenure at all? Does Microsoft have a tenure system? Does Kaiser? Do SF 49er players get tenure if they play long enough?

          Is education the only place where the tenure system exists?

          1. hpierce

            In my limited experience in the public sector, tenure only matters in RIFS… if a class of employees have a position deleted, last in , first out. Most public sector employees can be discharged, for cause, but the educational system and other public employees who belong to formal unions, make that very difficult, unless criminal charges are involved… and even then, it can be difficult. IMO, that is wrong.

          2. wdf1

            If you want to know what a world without teacher “tenure” (also called “due process rights”) might look like, then look at the controversies surrounding staffing Davis High School coaching positions (e.g., Jeff Christian, Julie Crawford, the varsity football coaches, etc.). In school athletics, coaches serve at the pleasure of the district; there is no “tenure” or “due process” for coaches. If a parent makes a strong enough complaint, the coach is removed. And then everyone who really liked that coach shows up at the school board meeting to complain. School board meetings would probably be full of episodes like that, except with teachers. I don’t think much other work would get done.

            Read Bruce Gallaudet’s June 28, 2013 article in the Davis Enterprise, and then maybe magnify the situation by 10 to imagine what it would be like to be booting teachers out of positions as quickly as DHS varsity football coaches. I think due process rights keep public schools from being more political than they already are.

          3. wdf1

            Davis Enterprise, Feb. 11 2014: DHS Déjà vu: Crawford told she is out as boys volleyball coach

            Apparently someone thinks Crawford is unfit and inappropriate to coach, whereas others seem to like her. Even at best, it is poor administrative policy to pull her assignment at the last minute like this, short of anything serious like criminal behavior. But the overall effect is negatively unsettling to parents and students. IMO, this is what the absence of “tenure”/”due process rights” for teachers would look like.

          4. Matt Williams

            wdf, do you think that a single customer’s complaint typically results in an employee firing in most typical private sector companies?

      3. wdf1

        Some jobs are easier to evaluate than others. You can easily evaluate fruit pickers based on how much fruit they pick. Other jobs are not evaluated so easily. Teachers are one such job. I am concerned that lots of folks think teachers can be evaluated the same way as fruit pickers. I see lots of instances in which teachers are treated as if they were fruit pickers

        There is a whole body of literature on employee management that I run across in popular business journals about management policies that should apply appropriately to teachers, but discussions like this that we’re having don’t consider these policies.

        Here is one article that Rifkin posted a month ago, along those lines.

        Forbes Magazine, 11/26/2013: What Really Motivates Employees?

        Some highlights:

        1. Studies have shown that for employees to be motivated, recruiting minimums must be present. These include pay, working conditions and job security. Without these, headhunting even the best employees will yield undesired performance results.

        2. Employees who are attempted to be motivated by the fear of losing their job will have less energy and drive to complete daily tasks. This will have the opposite of the desired effect.

        3. Rather than money, studies have shown that how creative an employee feels when working on a project is the strongest and most pervasive driver. Rewards that are strictly monetary will stifle the creativity of a project and an employee’s unique approach. Pure monetary gain takes the “interesting factor” out of a job.

        A lot of reformist-type ideas about measuring job performance of teachers come from those in the business community, and yet these same ideas above about employee management in the business sector don’t seem to apply to teachers. I don’t understand that kind of thinking.

        As a nation with our policies, we tend to infantilize the teaching profession. Again, I think I’d probably make a good grade school teacher, but (in addition to the current low salaries) I don’t see reformist policy discussions in line with what is considered good business practice, and that’s not attractive to me.

        What this Forbes article tells me is that what DTA is advocating is not off base. I also acknowledge that there isn’t enough money to make everyone happy.

  7. Mr. Toad

    Yesterday Robb Davis said David was a conservative liberal. Today David shows Robb is incorrect about the liberal part. Of course David’s indifference toward people who haven’t had a raise in 6 years is coupled with a shot at the union that brings out the usual union bashers here in Vanguard land. Union bashing is a favorite sport of conservatives in this country and has been quite successful at least since 1981 when Reagan fired the air traffic controllers.

    The last year i was teaching in Woodland i paid almost $1000 a month as my share of my families health insurance premiums. The way it worked was you had different premiums based on who was covered with the choices of single, single + 1, or family. The district put in a flat amount so since I had a family I had the highest out of pocket premiums. The clerical unit had a different contract where they all paid the same amount no matter how many each unit member covered. i’m not sure how the DTA contract works but if premiums went up $200 last year $1400 a month for a teacher with a family is probably correct.

    1. SouthofDavis

      Todd wrote:

      > Union bashing is a favorite sport of conservatives in this country

      It is not just “conservatives” it looks like Low income people of color are also upset about how the unions are hurting the poor, liberal and minority:

      http://studentsmatter.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/SM_Opening-Remarks-Presentation_01.26.14.pdf

      P.S. I got the link above from a liberal democrat teacher that has spent the last 20 years working with low income at risk kids

      1. Mr. Toad

        Who funds Students Matter some rich Silicon Valley guy who thinks he is going to bust the teachers union. An interesting story in the LA times about how LAUSD doesn’t have the computers ready for the new common core tests was published recently yet at the same time their Superintendent was testifying in the lawsuit. Oh the irony.

        1. wdf1

          A related story

          LA Times: Facebook page promotes campus repairs over iPads in L.A. schools

          Critics of a $1-billion school computer project in Los Angeles have launched an increasingly popular Facebook page asserting that the money should be spent instead on campus repairs.

          The page, called “Repairs Not IPads,” was started anonymously but has been supplied with ample comments and pictures by school staff. The images include missing ceiling tiles, broken sinks and water fountains, ant invasions, dead roaches and rat droppings.

          Also raises the issue of “tenure” or due process rights granted to teachers. With looser options to fire “bad” teachers, I could see LAUSD tempted to fire teachers and staff who raise issues mentioned in this article, because somehow they weren’t perceived as being a “team player”.

          1. hpierce

            And yet, employees who are not team union players, are disregarded by the unions AND their employers.

      2. wdf1

        There is a shortage of teachers who are willing to work in lower-income communities, in part because the working conditions suck. I think teachers unions have been advocating for conditions that would attract and keep qualified teachers. See Forbes article above.

        A lot of these school districts end up relying on Teach For America staff who are given 6-weeks training for a two-year commitment. It is better than nothing, but I don’t see it as the answer.

  8. David Greenwald

    After some off-line discussions with teachers this morning, I see the issue in a different light than I saw it earlier. I’m hoping to get more specifics, but teachers having to pay out of pocket for health expenses is deplorable. The city pays about $18K per year for its health coverage. I’m concerned that the district has been able to operate on emergency taxes for as long as it has, and do believe that the city needs to be able to do the same, but clearly the emergency for the district is not over even with the additional funding.

    1. Elizabeth Bowler

      Two years ago, when I last was a state employee, my out of pocket health insurance cost was $950.00 per month for a basic health plan for myself and my family. Had I chosen a Cadillac plan, that cost would have risen to around $2000 a month. I think it will be important to compare out of pocket health plan costs for other similarly-situated employees in other sectors before determining if DJUSD teachers’ costs are excessive. At first blush, the stated out-of-pocket costs sound reasonable to me.

  9. J.R.

    Certainly some teachers are wonderful and deserve higher pay. But until the problem of not removing the incompetent teachers is faced, I will not support any pay raises.

    Davis parents who pay attention know that there are some teachers in the classrooms who have caused terrible harm to generation after generation of student. They do this by killing their interest in learning. It’s a tragedy.

    I would be happy to have a peer review where teachers rate each other, along with the principal. Today there is no consequence for incompetence in the classroom.

    http://teachersunionexposed.com/protecting.php

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      Certainly some teachers are wonderful and deserve higher pay. But until the problem of not removing the incompetent teachers is faced, I will not support any pay raises.

      What percentage of teachers do you view as incompetent?

          1. Mr. Toad

            I never gave away grades but i got lots of pressure from administrators to find ways to pass kids who didn’t make minimum progress toward passing. Somehow administrators always get a pass in these discussions. i saw principals get kids diplomas and certificates of completion who couldn’t read. i remember one of my colleagues complaining about a principal who got a kid across the finish line by giving him independent projects and her saying at the end “And he can’t even read.”

          2. Mr. Toad

            Blame the teacher. Yeah I held the line whenever I could. You can’t imagine the pressure I had to stand up to.

          3. hpierce

            I’ve been a whistle-blower, and lived to tell the tale. I didn’t blame the teacher. I said the teacher was not professional enough to stand up to the admin, publicly if necessary. That’s what professionals do.

          4. wdf1

            Mr. T: i remember one of my colleagues complaining about a principal who got a kid across the finish line by giving him independent projects and her saying at the end “And he can’t even read.”

            Another example of Campbell’s Law

    2. Michelle Millet

      I think there should be a way to fire incompetent teacher, I’m just not sure of the best way to define “incompetent” . I think we can all agree that a teacher who does nothing but sit in the back of the classroom all day needs to go, and I assume there are procedures set in place to do that.

      As a substitute teacher I get the opportunity to work in many school here in Davis. I haven’t met every teacher at every school but the teachers I have come into contact are incredibly hard working, dedicated individuals, who sincerely care about their students education and welfare.

      It’s hard for me to see these teachers having to fight for salary increases much less be disparaged for doing so.

      1. Matt Williams

        The District’s open placement policy is one of the institutionalized programs that helps perpetuate the careers of teachers who are failing children. When Don Shor and I argued back and forth about this issue in prior threads, he vehemently argued for having the right to move a child away from a teacher who was failing to educate the child. My problem with that approach is that the transfer lets the teacher off the hook. Much better (in my opinion) to have the battle out overtly, rather than covertly sweeping the problem under a rug. Parents who believe that the school system is failing their children are clearly a “check and balance” … much like the red beanbag that an NFL head coach carries around in his back pocket in order to challenge a referee’s call on the field.

        JMHO

        1. Don Shor

          Sigh.

          When Don Shor and I argued back and forth about this issue in prior threads, he vehemently argued for having the right to move a child away from a teacher who was failing to educate the child.

          No, I didn’t exactly argue that. I made the point that if a placement was inappropriate, a parent should have the right to seek an intradistrict transfer if that would lead to a better outcome for the child. It is rarely an instance of a single teacher being the problem, and if it was such an instance there is usually another teacher/class assignment available at the same school.

          Much better (in my opinion) to have the battle out overtly, rather than covertly sweeping the problem under a rug.

          That may or may not be the best thing for your child. Usually not. Choose your battles. Since the outcome of such a conflict with the school administration is unlikely to result in removal of the teacher, unless he or she is egregiously bad, I would say you are wrong about this approach. But more important: it isn’t achieving the goal of getting your child the best education he or she needs.

          1. Matt Williams

            Sigh.

            I made the point that if a placement was inappropriate, a parent should have the right to seek an intradistrict transfer if that would lead to a better outcome for the child.

            I agree, those were indeed your words Don, and those words beg the question, what factors other than the failure of a specific teacher-student interaction would produce a placement that “was inappropriate”?

            Since the outcome of such a conflict with the school administration is unlikely to result in removal of the teacher, unless he or she is egregiously bad,

            The bottom-line of the discussion in this thread has centered around “the bad” teachers. What is the difference between a “bad teacher” and an “egregiously bad teacher”?

          2. Don Shor

            I agree, those were indeed your words Don, and those words beg the question, what factors other than the failure of a specific teacher-student interaction would produce a placement that “was inappropriate”?

            I could give you several examples, but won’t bother. Suffice to say, in each specific instance it wasn’t a single teacher-student interaction that made placement at another school a better option.

          3. Matt Williams

            Did they understand why you were leaving? As Tia has pointed out one way to improve the quality of the service of an organization is to get feedback from its customers. Absent that kind of constructive feedback it is hard to understand the product’s flaws.

          4. wdf1

            The school district has a formal complaint form process: Link

            I have been in Don’s situation, though. Why make a big complaint when there are other options available that will make everyone happy?

          5. Matt Williams

            That’s true wdf. it does make “everyone” happy in the short run, but does it serve the greater good?

  10. Cecilia

    We cannot cause harm to ALL teachers because there are a few who may not be fit to be a teacher. I think every industry has this.

    If in fact teachers are paying out of pocket for their own healthcare insurance this issue needs to be addressed.

    1. growth issue

      So Cecilia, are you saying that if teachers are paying “some” of their healthcare costs or “all” of their healthcare costs that it needs to be addressed?
      I think most employees in any endeavor are now having to pay “some” of the costs of their healthcare insurance.

  11. Rich Rifkin

    My view on a teacher pay raise: If the funds are there and if other employees in the district (particularly lower-paid staff) can have an equal percentage increase and if the contract language for any pay increases permits a pay decrease should the District’s funds prove insufficient, I am for it.

    The problem with increasing pay rates is when the District locks itself into the higher rates and then faces a shortfall. Due to the greedy nature of senior employees who run the teachers’ union, that sort of situation will result in layoffs (or at least a lot of pink slip notices) down the road.

    Sadly, pay for teachers is not tied in any way to performance. As a result, no matter what the pay is, the good teachers are relatively underpaid and the bad teachers are terribly overpaid. This will be true with or without a new pay increase.

    1. hpierce

      Interesting..if I recall correctly, and I may be incorrect, you use “salary” for teachers, but total compensation for other public employees. Did I miss something?

  12. Don Shor

    Again: teacher evaluations have been implemented in many districts. This isn’t a new concept. Usually the principal is the one doing it. Since it’s the principal’s job that’s on the line as to school performance, that isn’t real surprising.
    Also, salary and benefit information for all districts in California are available online:
    http://www.ed-data.k12.ca.us/welcome.asp

    1. growth issue

      From reading Don’s link Davis school teachers are afforded $11,900/year for a family plan health insurance.
      I’m sure there are family plans out there that $11,900 would cover either fully or close to it.

      1. Jim Frame

        I’m sure there are family plans out there that $11,900 would cover either fully or close to it.

        As a basis for comparison, I currently pay a bit over $22k per year for my family of 3 at Kaiser. The Obamacare Kaiser Platinum plan for us would have been around $2k more.

  13. Mr. Toad

    According to the DTA contract ratified in 2011 the district pays as follows:

    $5900/ year for single
    $9800/ year for plus 1
    $11,900/year for family

    I couldn’t find what plans are available to teachers but I think its fair to say that teachers are spending money out of pocket for their premiums not to mention their deductibles.

    1. SouthofDavis

      Mr. Toad

      February 8, 2014 at 11:13 am

      Mr. Toad wrote:

      > According to the DTA contract ratified in 2011 the district
      > pays as follows: $11,900/year for family

      So if some people are paying “up to $1,400/month” that means that some teachers are paying over $28K a year for health insurance.

      That is an amazing number since more than half the working age people in America don’t even gross that much in a year (according to Wikipedia and other studied I have read):
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_income_in_the_United_States

      1. Mr. Toad

        It wasn’t my number and it seems a little high to me too. Woodland contributed much less to our medical everyone got the same amount no matter how many dependents.

  14. hpierce

    Priorities I’d support for the “new” money:

    Increase reserves.
    Cover full medical/dental plans, at a full, but basic rate for all employees.
    Cover employee dependents if they are not eligible for other coverage (but ABSOLUTELY no “cafeteria cash out”).
    Deferred maintenance of facilities, particularly those which would be more expensive if put off.
    Expiration of some/all or the parcel taxes.

    After all those are dealt with, employee salaries, as many teachers get a 2.5% increase per year of service, and any salary increase increases the currently under-funded STRS program.

    1. Jim Frame

      teachers get a 2.5% increase per year of service

      So a teacher with 1 year of service gets a 2.5% raise, and a teacher with 30 years of service gets a 75% raise? I don’t think I can go there with you.

  15. Mark West

    If there really are no criteria to fairly evaluate teacher performance, as some seem to be arguing here, then there is no basis for identifying one teacher as being a good one and another as being a bad one. When you argue that there are no fair criteria to differentiate between teachers, you are saying there is no difference in their performance and one teacher therefore becomes interchangeable with any other.

    If that is indeed the case, where one teacher is as good as any other, then the only reason for raising teacher pay across the board is if we are unable to attract enough teachers to the district to fill the available jobs. Without performance criteria, teachers become a commodity product that can be easily replaced by the next crop of college graduates. When the Union argues that there is no fair way to evaluate teaching quality, they are saying that all teachers are the same.

    Clearly this is not the case. Teaching ability can be differentiated, just as any other occupation. The absolute best people for making that differentiation are the teachers themselves. If the Union is unable or unwilling to bring a proposal to evaluate teachers to the table, then the administration should do so and use that as the starting point for contract negotiations. Work out the details through collective bargaining, then implement it.

    Performance criteria allows us to select the good teachers and reward them for the added value they bring to the classroom. Implementing performance criteria allows us to respect our best teachers with the pay and benefits they deserve. As it stands, the priority of the Union appears to be the protection of the worst teachers, not to reward the value of the best ones. Pointing that reality out is not union bashing, regardless of how many times Mr. Toad proclaims otherwise.

  16. Mark West

    It is worth noting (again) that for every $1 in property tax that the City receives through economic development, the School District will receive $2. Growing the business community improves the fiscal condition of both the City and the School District.

    1. wdf1

      And on the flip side of that, a strong local school system attracts new residents and businesses, a desirable work force, and increases the value of the community.

      1. iPad Guy

        Not sure that I get the import of this simple statement, Mark. So, a new business park or shopping center generating $1-million in property tax would result in a $2-million increase in school district support? From where does the $2-million come? Is that bonanza unique for such “economic development” projects or does it apply to a new housing subdivision as well?

        1. Mark West

          If you look at the distribution of property tax dollars, for every $1 that goes to the City, $2 go to the School district. That is true whether we are looking at new business or new houses. The big difference however is that businesses also pay property tax on the equipment inside the building, which often times is more valuable than the building itself. Consequently, business growth will bring in far more money on a ongoing basis than will more houses. In addition, more houses means more people which means greater demand for services from the City and School district.

          1. wdf1

            Mark West: That is not how California schools are funded. Funding is determined by the state. I was communicating with someone with the school district who reminded me of the following:

            “Our revenue level is set by the State and is based upon student attendance (ADA). This revenue level is funded first by general property and backfilled by the state. Increases in the general property tax reduces the level of backfill needed by from state funding.”

          2. iPad Guy

            Thank you for helping me read words (like “Davis”) more carefully. For every $3 that comes Davis’ way, $2 of that goes to the Davis JUSD and $1 goes to the City of Davis.

            P.S.–I wouldn’t mind having more demand from Davis residents on the school district. An influx of young families would help to balance the community’s ongoing, discouraging skew toward geezers and university transients.

  17. wdf1

    Matt Williams: David, it seems like you are arguing that anything less than perfection (in a teacher evaluation system) is unacceptable.

    I know this comment above was directed at David, but this is an issue that I have been mulling over quite a bit. The way that teacher evaluation discussions have focused have been all about deciding whether to fire a teacher or not. I think that is counter-productive in the long term.

    If a teacher performance evaluation is directed at how to improve one’s craft as opposed to whether to fire someone, then that is fine. But there has been discussion of using test scores as the basis for making decisions over whether teachers and principals should be fired or given pay bonuses. This is what Michelle Rhee has promoted (and why she’s controversial), and it plays in the tradition of Jack Welch’s “stack ranking” when he was head of GE.

    But the problem is how do you know that you are correctly measuring productivity? And when you think you’re correctly measuring productivity, how do you insure that those measures don’t become corrupted, a la Campbell’s Law? One example of where productivity measures were corrupted in education is connected to the standardized test erasures that apparently took place in schools in Atlanta and Washington, D.C.

    But on the whole, the way that this style of teacher evaluation discussion goes is with the philosophy of making the teacher anxious if he/she is doing what they’re supposed to be doing. The problem is that this kind of approach tends focus the employees away from a larger goal. Also, in education one cannot control all the inputs. You cannot guarantee that a child arriving to school had a healthy breakfast, has a safe and secure home environment, that his parents aren’t fighting, that his parents are reading to him all the time, that the child isn’t learning English as a second language. But by the principle of stack ranking schools, principals, and teachers in Davis, Pioneer students score better on standardized than Montgomery students, so we should fire everyone at Montgomery for not having their students performing as well as Pioneer’s students.

    A better way of management for education would be to focus more on a bigger team-oriented goal in the style of Edwards Deming. His approach was more system oriented and focused the employees more on figuring out how to contribute to the quality of their product. Why can’t the discussion be oriented this way?

    1. Matt Williams

      The way that teacher evaluation discussions have focused have been all about deciding whether to fire a teacher or not. I think that is counter-productive in the long term.

      I completely agree wdf … very counterproductive. In the dialogue Don and I are having, I’m trying to illuminate the point that parents and their children/students are very much like the patients in a healthcare delivery system … the best indicators of how effective the organization and its employees are at delivering quality service. Those parents and children are a whole lot better feedback mechanisms than standardized tests are. The concern I’ve expressed to Don is that it is really hard to achieve a product that produces the greatest good if divorcing a school is made not only easy, but standard operating procedure. It produces a disconnect in the feedback loop and definitely doesn’t promote the team-oriented approach you have described.

  18. D.D.

    Re: teachers’ performance evaluations: students and engaged parents also have a strong feel for which teachers are excellent, and which teachers are burnt out or just going through the motions.

    1. Mr. Toad

      Really? There was never a teaching problem a teacher couldn’t solve by passing or improving a student’s grade. Sometimes the teachers who are the most demanding or aloof and least popular get the best results

  19. Blair Howard

    DJUSD did not lose 57 teachers because teachers refused to give up further concessions. Many teachers were rehired the next year. Also, when we say teachers we think of 1 person in 1 classroom all day. Sometimes we lose a teacher who only teaches part-time, so we don’t lose a whole teacher. While it is hard on those people to lose their job, everywhere in California was cutting positions at the time. The school district made it a decision between taking about 300 dollar a month pay cut or teaching more students in a class. Teachers chose to take the latter because they could not sustain that cut and falling behind in paying their bills. For me it would have made a huge difference month to month.

    And David, before you write something like this, why don’t you talk to some of the people involved. DTA is always willing to talk to people who wish to become informed. I know this is an opinion piece that tries to create a false dichotomy between school parcel taxes and city taxes, but all opinions should be informed. I am tired of people who are not willing to pay for a system which contributes to the housing values of Davis. I can not afford a home in Davis in part because the schools are so good. If you don’t want to pay parcel taxes, come live in Woodland where young working teachers can afford to buy a house.

    1. iPad Guy

      I’m curious why this decision was put in by the teachers (union?) rather than made by the administration and board? Was it a close vote? It seems that the outcome of such a decision by those affected wouldn’t be a surprise.

      Even though it’s universally accepted that smaller classes provide a better learning environment for students, it probably was difficult for the majority of teachers to weigh that benefit higher than $300 a month in pay. On the other hand, it doesn’t seem that the voters gave much consideration to the new and part time teachers losing all of their pay.

      You mentioned that David’s figures misrepresent the magnitude of the teacher firings. How many full time equivalents did the 57 teachers represent? How many were “rehired the next year”? Where did the money come from that allowed the rehiring?

      But, now teachers are using the larger class sizes (for which they voted) as justification for getting raises. Wouldn’t it be better to lobby for more teachers rather than for more pay to deal with the higher class loads?

      Looking back, would it have been better to keep on the 57 teachers who were let go, maintain small class’s, cut back on living expenses for awhile and come back now asking for a return to the prior salary levels or more?

      1. wdf1

        iPad Guy: Looking back, would it have been better to keep on the 57 teachers who were let go, maintain small class’s, cut back on living expenses for awhile and come back now asking for a return to the prior salary levels or more?

        57 teachers were not let go. See clarification below. (possibly awaiting moderator’s approval)

  20. wdf1

    Vanguard: The teachers at that time could have taken concessions that would have saved the jobs 57 teachers. The DTA refused to take concessions that the other two bargaining groups in the school district accepted and that decision meant that the district laid off 57 teachers.

    In March of 2012, 57 teachers received layoff notices: Jeff Hudson, 3/14/2012, Davis Enterprise, Layoff notices sent to 57 teachers, staff

    But that doesn’t mean that 57 teachers actually lost their jobs, as Mr. Howard points out. The minutes of the May 3, 2012 school board meeting said that ultimately, 14.2375 FTE were cut by unanimous school board vote in order to help balance the budget that year. source

    The procedure of the district when cutting teaching positions is to issue more layoff notice than are actually used. That is because student enrollments for the following year, which take place in the March to April time frame. Often teachers who were actually laid off get rehired as some teachers decide over the summer to quit or take a leave of absence.

  21. wdf1

    wdf1: That is because student enrollments for the following year, which take place in the March to April time frame,…

    determine which teachers ultimately stay or go. Ed code says that if there’s a possibility of layoff, those determinations have to be made by ~March 15.

  22. iPad Guy

    Thanks for clarifying, wdf1. You and Blair Howard have pointed out what did not happen. I’m still curious about what did happen.

    Did the teachers really vote, choosing to cut teachers rather than teachers’ pay or hours? Is it accurate that 57 teachers were given notice that they might be fired?

    Your clip states that “ultimately, 14.2375 FTE were cut.” So, the equivalent of 14 full-time teachers was cut. Of course, this doesn’t describe where these cuts were made. Did all the FTEs come from the 57?

    How many of these 57 ended up getting fired by March 15? How many of those were rehired because of the departures that happen over the summer?

    While David hasn’t gotten the numbers right, doesn’t his point still remain?

    “The DTA refused to take concessions that the other two bargaining groups in the school district accepted and that decision meant that the district laid off ___ teachers.” Fill in the blank with a number between 15 (if all were full timers) and 57 (if it required that many part timers to total 14.2375 FTE).

    What really happened?

  23. wdf1

    iPad Guy: How many of these 57 ended up getting fired by March 15? How many of those were rehired because of the departures that happen over the summer?

    Getting a layoff notice doesn’t mean getting fired. Getting fired (or final termination notices) took place in May of that year.

    I don’t know the details of how DTA and members decided if they wanted the pay cut or not. But from the perspective of DTA and members, taking the pay cut wasn’t worth it.

    While David hasn’t gotten the numbers right, doesn’t his point still remain?

    Well, except the order of magnitude of the true layoffs makes a big difference in the calculation of what decision to make. It would probably be reasonable to figure that 7 teachers may have been re-hired. So that’s the difference between 57 and (I’m guessing) 7.

    1. iPad Guy

      Sorry I misunderstood the dates involved. My real question is how many of the 57 got fired (as I now understand the date) in May?

      Re. the order of magnitude issue and how it played into the tracers’ vote: If the district determined that 57 specific teachers’ jobs were targeted to assure that it could save 14.2375 FTEs, what caused any of the 57 to be kept on and how many did not get their final termination notices?

      If I understand your numbers, the 7 rehired (likely amounting to 7 FTEs, full time positions) left 50 teachers on the street, assuming that the district hired only from the pool of 57). All for the sake of keeping other teachers from having to give up $300 a month.

      Of course, the fact that the district hires to replace for retirements and other attrition every year really doesn’t discredit Davit’s observation about about the trade off the teachers supported. His lament over losing our “finest young teachers” because of the bargaining group’s decision still seems legitimate.

      And, even though the eventual hiring of a small number of those fired made their lives better, the decision to reduce teachers instead of salaries is responsible for the high class sizes that reduce education quality and have those same teachers now trying to justify pay raises for dealing with the big classes for which they opted.

  24. jimt

    Re: wdf postings above–great postings; particularly pointing out Campbells Law and related phenomena!

    Although MBA-school inspired solutions to teacher evaluations/performance measures might have some value; I would maintain that their value is quite limited; and so such businessl-world approaches should form only a small component, at most, of evaluating a teachers effectiveness.

    In assessing the negatives, as well as the positives, of how teaching-to-the-test and inflating the value of outcome-based performance measures has distorted what takes place in the classroom. An additional critical factor, in my view, is how this affects the nature of the pool of people who decide to go into the teaching profession–what types of people are going to be attracted to a profession that is giving more and more emphasis on standardized testing of children, and that grades the teacher (and some part of their promotion/salary) based on how well their students perform (or improve from previous years) on standardized tests? It seems to me that this could substantially affect the pool of people attracted to the teaching profession; I suspect it has already–time will tell how a shift to a more standardized mechanical mode of teaching (and of teachers who are agreeable to this environment) affects the intellect, outlook, sensibilities, and health of future children and the general broad intelligence and balance of future adult workers.

    1. wdf1

      This amounts to merit pay. Is there anything that you can point to that indicates that merit pay has been successful as a policy?

      I think Davis teachers would be wise to take a wait and see approach to this policy.

      One question, here, are there clearly objective criteria for evaluating teachers? This incident suggests not:

      Disparities in Douglas County schools teacher evaluations draw fire

      If the process is deemed subjective, then it is potentially corrupt.

      1. Frankly

        I love this fear of subjective assessment coming from a profession that does subjective assessment as a routine part of their job.

        Maybe the reason that teachers reject work performance assessment is that they know their performance for assessing students is crappy.

        Work performance assessment is a common thing. Again, why are teachers so unique or special to reject it?

        But let’s get to the heart of the matter here. Neither the teachers nor wdf1 “trust” merit pay (again, even though the rest of the working world has been doing it for decades), and demand that we base teacher compensation on the old status quo standards of seniority and unneeded higher learning degrees. So, how is that working?

        1. wdf1

          Frankly: I don’t have a problem with work performance assessment. I think it’s great. I have a problem with how it is used to award bonuses in education.

          I am interested to see what happens with Douglas County. I wouldn’t mind if Douglas County school’s plan turned out to be something for other districts to emulate, but the political agenda connected to it makes me suspect the integrity of the effort (see link). You yourself had to send a link from the Heritage Foundation in order to offer a glowing review of the plan. You might as well have just posted a video of cheerleaders with pompoms.

          Maybe the reason that teachers reject work performance assessment is that they know their performance for assessing students is crappy.

          Work performance assessment is a common thing. Again, why are teachers so unique or special to reject it?

          What you are saying is that if you give teachers performance assessments and then award pay bonuses to teachers who have top performance assessments, then student education will improve.

          How will you know if student education has improved? And how would you know if that student improvement was due to the current teacher or due to the hard-ass teacher the kid had the year before? or due to some other factor?

          One problem with running this policy in Douglas County is that it was already a high-performing district. It will be harder to know if merit pay really will have made a difference with the students who were already performing very highly.

          Once again, is there anything that you can point to that indicates that merit pay produces a genuine better product in education?

          (By the way, Obama supports merit pay, so you have an intellectual soul mate, there.)

          So, how is that working?

          Greatest nation on Earth.

          1. Frankly

            Once again, is there anything that you can point to that indicates that merit pay produces a genuine better product in education?

            The data is limited to the few instances where some local community has been able to wrestle enough away from the crappy-school death grip of the teachers unions and try something.

            But your question does not require anything so specific for an answer. We can look all over the world to examples where pay for performance delivers better results. Why would it not? You have heard that saying “what gets measured gets done.” So assuming we are measuring the right things with a merit pay program, why would you even suggest that we would see different results?

            You are ignoring the simple logic and demanding proof. That just looks like deflection to me.

          2. Don Shor

            One problem with merit pay is that the measurable results (better test scores, or something similar) are too far removed from the individuals that you are evaluating. Teacher evaluations are more effective to use as negative reinforcements: for the simple purpose of weeding out bad teachers, preferably early in their careers so they can go do something else and students aren’t harmed. You probably won’t get better test scores by paying good teachers more. You’ll get better teachers by rewarding them for professional development, community service, extracurricular activities, and so forth. But you’ll get better students if you use teacher evaluations to remove bad teachers.

          3. wdf1

            Frankly: We can look all over the world to examples where pay for performance delivers better results. Why would it not?

            Compared to what I read in more contemporary literature on management, that is old-school, 20th century industrialized-model thinking. I find all kinds of literature that says your assumption is wrong.

            Earlier I cited this Forbes article, What Really Motivates Employees?, basically suggesting that a merit-pay scheme will not produce the results that you say are “common sense”.

            Here’s Daniel Pink giving a 10 minute white board animation lecture making the same points.

            My mom was a grade school teacher in the later decades of the 20th century. She worked her ass off, and was conscientious to a fault. One year she was awarded a merit pay bonus, because they had a merit pay program. She appreciated the money, but didn’t feel like it made any difference in how she performed as a teacher. She couldn’t identify anything that she did differently the year that she was awarded a merit pay bonus.

            She was a teacher because she felt it was her calling, and when state and local regulations and management got off her back, it was occasionally interesting and a little more meaningful. All she wanted was basic fair compensation so that money was not an issue.

            Once again, I ask you, can you point to any place in the world where merit pay produces better teacher performance in education?

          4. wdf1

            Frankly: The continued push-back for doing something similar for teachers is very telling to me. Prehistoric thinking for a prehistoric system.

            Merit pay for teachers is actually a “prehistoric” idea in the scheme of things.

            48% of school districts had some sort of merit pay plan in 1918. In 1923 the number was 33%. In 1928, 18%. By 1953, only 4% in some of the larger cities. This was before teachers unions were common or broadly organized.

            Source

            Don’t you think it’s a mistake to assume that teachers in general go into the profession motivated by money? It is like assuming that Americans join the military to get rich.

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