Teacher pay at least keeps some of us from considering the profession: can't buy a home or pay many bills on $31k. I used to think I would be good at something like that (other folks tried to encourage me in that direction too, by the way), but there is no chance that I could make ends meet on so little, especially with student loans likely outstanding. I can't imagine what someone with a family would have to sacrifice to survive.
It would also seem to me that setting the salary bar so low intends to restrict the profession to 1st career folks. If I can't afford to go there, how are we going to lure the best and the brightest from other (well paying) successes to pass their skills and passions on?
It seems a shame that we can't pay enough to encourage folks with strong life experience and good aptitude to consider caring for our future... our youth.
I'm a former teacher with the Teach for America program. I taught 7th grade in south Texas, on the Mexican border and I agree with the above comment. While it is true that no one becomes a teacher in hopes of making lots of money, I think that we do lose people who would have considered the job if the pay wasn't so horrendous. If you started teachers at the same salary as a starting engineer for example, far more undergrads would consider the career path. I also think that many teachers would be willing to work more - ie for a month or so of the summer doing planning and professional development if they were paid for it.
I think 'merit' pay for teachers is a somewhat good idea, but not if it's black and white (figure of speech). If teacher's are paid solely off of their classroom's test scores, obviously this puts teachers in impoverished areas at a disadvantage. These areas with traditionally low scores need teachers the most, yet they will scare teachers away from accepting positions there because of the 'merit' pay attached to them. I believe that when a teacher is hired, they should take the last years scores as a base from which to work from. The more the class improves, the more the teacher gets paid. This would somewhat solve the issue, but not completely. There should be some type of alternate method to the 'merit' pay as well, such as community involvement. Let's face it, some schools are going to perform low no matter how great the teachers are, there are just too many factors outside the classroom that will override the in-class experience. When you live in a crime ridden, drug inhabited, impoverished area, it doesn't matter what even the best teacher tells you, you are still going to fall behind in a majority of the cases.
"Community involvement"? Is it not enough that teachers spend hours outside the classroom and on their weekends grading, preparing new lessons and meeting with parents, counselors and students without additional pay? Is it not enough that Portland teachers worked 10 days for free in 2002 in order to keep Portland's schools open? What exactly does this look like?
Can you recommend a way to hold teachers accountable? Almost half of my teachers in high school did as little as possible in regards to helping students. They only did what was mandatory and didn't go above and beyond the mandatory expectations. As far as spending hours outside the classroom, grading on the weekends, preparing new lessons and meeting with parents, counselors, and students, there should be no additional pay, as that is what is required in the job. When you become a teacher, that is all part of the package. If you think you should be paid extra for doing the job you are expected to do, that is ridiculous in my opinion. When you become a pastor should you be paid extra for counseling your congregation? No. You signed on for the job knowing what it will entail. I knew I didn't want to be a teacher, as early as grade school, for the simple fact that you have to do so much work outside of the classroom. If I could see that at the age of 8, I think it should be well aware to any college student majoring in education that it's not a high paying job, and in most cases, a poor paying job that you do more for the love then for the dollar.
This is a fundamental problem - because we all went to public school, we all feel we are experts on edcuation. This is akin to someone saying, "I've been to the doctor's office and was born in a hospital, therefore I am an expert in medicine."
Teachers have bills to pay - we have worked for free, but to expect that we continue to do so is ludicrious. Teaching is a job, like anything else. Administrators - trained education professionals and the supervisors of teachers are the ones responsible for holding teachers accountable. I wouldn't dream of telling a surgeon how to do their job, nor would I expect someone who is not a legal expert to tell an attorney how to do their job. Why do you think it is acceptable for non-education experts to tell teaches how to do theirs? Or what "community involvement" is that warrants extra pay?
It's not akin to saying "I've been to the doctor's office and was born in a hospital, therefore I am an expert in medicine." That's akin to "I drop my kids off at a school, and went inside once to see what the principal had to say, now I'm an expert." I (and most other people) spend 12 years in public school, 8 hours a day, 5 days a week (except holidays and breaks), that's quite a bit more then going to the doctor every once in awhile and being born and 1 week old and saying you're an expert. I don't tell teachers how to do their job, however if they complain about their job, I certainly recommend that since they have at least a bachelor's degree, get a different job if you feel you are not being compensated enough. As far as community involvement, that's an arguement FOR teachers. IF we must go to merit pay, which is a trend I guarantee will happen eventually, there needs to be more then just test scores to base that merit on. Community involvement could be leading fundraisers for the school (outside of class), it could be organizing parents clubs to enhance children education outside the home, or other school/community involvment activities. If merit is implemented, teachers will still get their base pay. They will just get bonuses for going above and beyond. I am arguing that tests should not be the only way to measure merit, just to clarify.
Teachers shouldn't be responsible for students test scores (especially high school students who are old enough to ask questions and seek additional help). There are always students who are not going to do well, not because the teachers aren't teaching but because the students either don't want to do the work or from other outside factors.
At the college level, the teacher teaches however they choose and if the student doesn't do the work it's considered their fault for not seeking additional help. Parents don't go and complain to college professors that their adult child is doing poorly (and if they do it is in poor taste). Why can't we hold high school students to the same standards? If we are not giving them responsibility over their own grades, how are they suppose to be responsible for themselves in the future?
In rural areas it is becoming increasing difficult to recruit and retain teachers. Along with the National Data on teachers who leave the profession, rural areas have a unique problem in attracting staff in the first place. Recently our school staff had a presentation on technical careers that we have available for graduating students in our local area. These careers starting pay were usual double what teachers were being paid after several years of service. Although teaching is not just about the compensation that one receives on a paycheck, it is difficult to explain to a young educator who is struggling to purchase a home, raise a family, pay off student loans, etc. to stay in a profession that is compensated at the current rate most Oregon schools pay. Pilot projects such as the one being funded by Chalkboard are needed in Oregon to create new ways to attract, reward and compensate educators.
As usual, Mr. Sizemore's initiative is attacking a simple component, and not the issue. The issue is teacher quality. The Step system isn't the problem, but it needs to be enhanced with a carrot and a stick. The CLASS project is a good carrot. Professional Development dollars are another good one.
As for the stick: a district or principal has to be able to fire a bad teacher. And not based on test scores, but on profession proficiency. In short, teachers need to be treated like, and held to the standards of professionals, not assembly line workers.
And you have to make it easier for people who are unhappy teaching to access their accrued benefits, so they can make a career change. Unenthusiastic teachers will stay, just to keep their retirement benefits. Non-portable benefits are at the heart of the union's power. These few uncommitted teachers at the top of the scale are a factor in younger teachers leaving.
Most private schools pay less than public, and without public employee benefits, but they have great teachers waiting in line to teach because 1) they are around kids and families committed to learning and 2) they are not burdened by the child services responsibilities that government puts on public schools.
Just for clarification, it isn't the unions that oppose portable benefits - Congress has blocked that for years.
The problem with the Chalkboard approach is that, once again, as is the case with administration, it pays teachers more to get out of teaching. Just because someone is an excellent musician does not mean that person will be good at mentoring other musicians or collaborating with them. The same applies to mentoring and teaching kids. Let's encourage good teachers to keep teaching full time.
Because kids come to class with all sorts of different backgrounds and abilities, the Sizemore approach of paying for validated performance would require a huge increase in administration just to find out who is really performing. His approach would also make teaching to the test the be-all and end-all of education. This is a poor goal for a comprehensive education.
Standards and expectations for public education have been greatly raised while at the same time resources to teach kids have been sharply cut. Class sizes are much higher and the needs of students are much higher as family life has deteriorated. I have seen good new teachers leave the profession because as much as they liked teaching the prospect of a relatively low paying job with high stress wasn't worth it. The best way to improve education is to fund it better so kids have smaller classes and teachers can afford to stay in teaching.
I am a teacher - most of my career has been spent teaching children from lowe SES in inner north and northeast Portland - where the "achievement gap" is greatest. If people are serious about education, paying teachers more is not the answer; in fact, I take offense at "pay for performance" as it gives the impression that we are not working as hard as we can to educate these kids, and that financial rewards will motivate us to do so.
The answer is simple - the state legislature and the citizens of Oregon need to properly and fully fund our schools. Oregon education has been cut and cut for years. Don't throw money at the teachers - invest it in smaller classes and extra-curriculars.
I'm afraid I have to disagree with your assertion that Bill Sizemore wants to "raise teacher pay" with his ballot measure.
As you may be aware, Mr. Sizemore earns his living promoting a wide array of ballot measures. The current measure involving education is poorly crafted and, as one poster has already pointed out, does not solve the problem. This measure is not designed to help teachers - it is designed to provide him with a revenue stream while diverting the resources of the teacher's association, which will be forced to spend money protecting teachers against a measure that forces test-based raises which will do nothing to make Oregon's educational system better.
That's not education reform - that's politics at its most cynical.
It's good to have a discussion about how to retain, train and incentify the next generation of teachers, but Sizemore's ballot measure has nothing to do with that discussion so I hope the guests today will not let themselves get too distracted by it.
While the following is humorous, it points to something that has some truth in it...
Subject: Saving Tax Dollars?
ARE YOU SICK OF THOSE HIGH PAID TEACHERS?
I, for one, am sick and tired of those high paid teachers. Their hefty salaries are driving up
taxes and they only work nine or ten months a year! It's time we put things in perspective and pay
them for what they do...baby-sit!
We can get that for less than minimum wage. That's right...I would give them $3.00 dollars an hour
per kid and only the hours they worked, not any of that silly planning time.
That would be 15 dollars a day. Each parent should pay 15 dollars a day for these teachers to
baby-sit their children.
Now, how many do they teach in a day.... maybe 30? Then that's 15 X 30 = $450 a day. But remember
they only work 180 days a year! I'm not going to pay them for any vacations.
\Let's see...that's $450 x180 = $81,000.00. (Hold on, my calculator must need new
batteries!)....for a new teacher, hmmmm.
What about those special teachers or all the ones with the required master's degrees?
Well, we could pay them minimum wage, just to be fair. Let's round it off to $6.00 an hour. That
would be $6 times 5 hours times 30 children times 180 days = $162,000.00 per year.
Wait a minute, there is something wrong here!!!
On a serious note, I live in Corvallis. Before I moved here I taught middle school science, and I would have loved to continue on that path. But, even with a masters degree, the starting wage that I could expect here is about half what I can make in industry. Unfortunately, my wife doesn't make enough for us to rely on her income as primary. Thus, though I love teaching and I have been told that I'm a natural teacher, the door is closed to me for financial reasons, at least if we don't want to lose our house.
It would be nice if teachers could help in developing a system to measure student success, if not testing than how? I am a parent who has had both great and not so great teachers...how would teachers suggest we on the outside judge job performance? and then act on poor teachers?
Merit pay including that based on test improvement results should be just one component of teacher compensation, it is disingenuous of the teachers union to oppose this idea. There are well articulated draw backs to this approach, but the end result is worth it.
The principal of a school is in the best position to set up the particular incentive system for the their teachers, so principals should be given the power and responsibility of setting up a system that works for their area and staff. This means the union and the state would have less power for setting compensation.
I think that comparing teacher compensation to private sector professionals is entirely appropriate. Teachers have to be compensated in line with the private sector, however this in different that saying that current teachers with their current training deserve this higher pay. The teachers that get this higher pay might be different people or the same people with more training. Price fixing salaries is a clumsy way to achieve this, but it is likely better than nothing.
Oregon has experienced a gradual decline of investment in public education when compared to other states. The 2007 session was the first time in almost a decade that significant additional resources were provided to education. This funds were targeted specifically to school improvement efforts. Therefore, teacher salaries have dropped below the national average. In addition to recognizing the contributions provided by teachers in the more comprehensive manner discribed by the Chalkboard Project, we should also be aware that overall investment in both K-12 and Higher Education is losing ground in Oregon.
How do other professions get raises? Are they given tests? No. Are they evaluated by just their supervisor? No. Most people get performance evaluations based on both measurable success and performance evaluations from their supervisors and (hopefully) their coworkers.
That being said, $31k is ridiculous for people who work such long hours and put so much energy into their work.
My mother is a teacher and has been for years. She is a single mom (my dad passed away) and definitely doesn't get paid enough for the amount of hours she puts in. She is working all the time, from 6:30 in the morning to 5 or 6 at night and she will often come home with papers to grade. She is unhappy in her job because she works very hard (and she does a really good job- kids love her class) and feels like she does not get due respect and appreciation she deserves. She also feels that the union does not support the teachers as they should and are allowing the district to make budget cuts. She doesn't have time to have a social life and is always exhausted for family events. She can't afford to leave teaching without taking a pay cut, but she is burned out and underpaid for her work. It is really frustrating for me to see happen to her. I don't think teachers are adequately represented and given a voice. I am glad this conversation is happening.
Student achievement is cummulative, not isolated. The measurement of reading, for example, in a 5th grade classroom includes both the work of the current teacher and the accumulated contributions of not only other reading teachers, but also the contributions of principals, counselors, PE teachers, art teachers, etc. An alternative way of thinking about this is to look at the performance of the school with the same group of students over a period of time. This is a statistically more valid way of using student performance. The building as a team contributes to the overall success of students. The role of the administrator is to keep the academic focus and to work with teachers who are not contributing.
Pat Burk, Oregon Department of Education
How pathetic is it that no one on the show knows how to fire a bad teacher? I think that demonstrates EXACTLY what is wrong. It is staring them right in the face. Every profession has bad actors in it, and every profession, except teaching, has a means to get rid of the bad actors.
Teacher tenure law went away in 1997. Teachers that are not successful in the classroom must receive appropriate evaluation from their administrator, and then opportunities to improve. There is a very specific process for teacher evaluation in every school district personnel handbook and collective bargaining agreeement. Good administrators know how to work with teachers that are unsuccessful and counsel them out of the profession, well before it is necessary to engage in a disciplinary process.
There are clearly defined steps in each contract and by state law how to remove a teacher from the classroom. You are correct - education is a microcosm of societ so there will be a few teachers who should not be in the classroom.
However, the focus of the program was on teacher pay, not discipline.
There is a statutory process for firing low performing teachers. I am a 25 year veteran Portland teacher and the process is as follows: Teachers are evaluated using objective criteria by licensed administrators. The purpose of evaluation is to provide feedback to teachers and an opportunity to grow as a professional. When there is a concern by an evaluator, the teacher can be placed on a plan of assistance that is designed to address specific problems. If the teacher does complete the plan successfully, the teacher can be terminated. There is a myth that the union protects bad teachers; this is not true and is an excuse for administrators who do not follow the process.
Remember unions do not train, certify, hire, or evaluate teachers.
I am completely with Luke T. If you want to be treated like professionals not assembly workers, you have to participate in the professional system. This includes knowing how performance is measured, what is expected, and the consequences for not meeting standards. I think it is HILARIOUS that no one in that conversation knows how a teacher gets fired. Maybe the pay scale should move down the to do list and basic operating models should be defined and communicated to key leaders first. Disappointing show of performance for the people on the panel - you should be embarassed and educate yourselves.
Teaching is one of the only professions that are not paid by performance. A teacher can perform with mediocrity and still receive pay equal or greater than their peers who are achieving results. Fair pay for good performance is a reality in much of corporate America and I see no reason why those systems couldn't be put in place for teacher pay as well.
With that said, teachers are severely underpaid for the education that they must have for their work. Someone holding an MBA can make 50-100% more to a teacher with an equal amount of learning. These people are responsible for our children for nearly half their day, every day for 12 or more years. They should be paid appropriately.
I have to disagree and say that there are plenty of people in the work force who are not paid directly related to performance, or who are paid in a way such that they are only evaluated on part of their performance. I also disagree with the idea that teachers are not evaluated on performance. If administrative evaluations do not match up with community expectations, then we should be talking more about how high paid administrators facilitate education.
I really like the sound of the Chalkboard Project. I have one major concern... How do we avoid penalizing teachers who choose to teach in schools that are in low income and poverty areas. Both my wife, and a good friend work in schools that have over 70% on free and reduced lunch. It is much more difficult to see scholastic success in these schools than let's say Lake Oswego. The reasons are many, including parental involvement, dealing with abuse and drugs in the homes of these students, and so on. If performance will determine compensation, then who would teach in the needy areas that would hurt performance?
Unfortunately, the teacher's union is unwilling to discuss anything other than tenure and educational status for teacher pay. If not student test scores, performance reviews, parental satisfaction, etc., then what is an objective evaluation? It seems the union is worried that some teacher's won't measure up to some objective test, so they describe everything as subjective other than tenure and educational status. That's why many in the public are frustrated with the union's entrenched position. That's why many conversations are being had about some alternatives. We all get evaluated in our jobs, and it's based around performance and outcomes, achievements and contributions. Sure length of time on a job may have some influence in the equation, and educational level certainly has a place as well. But to restrict pay to those two standards only (tenure/education level) is silly and makes the union look more and more out of touch with public. Teaching is a challenging profession and takes certain types of personality, training, and passion to do a really good job. But every job has it's challenges and standards. And teachers do get lots of perks and benefits and the average pay is higher than the state-wide average of other jobs in Oregon. For the training required and type of work is the pay comparable to similar professional jobs? Depends on what you compare it to. So let's be objective and get the discussion beyond tenure and training -- it is for most everyone else.
A quick reality check:
You asked if the pay is comparable to similar jobs. In terms of training needed to become a teacher, the salary is certainly low, but I think even in terms of the basic responsibilities, regardless of expectation, the income level is pretty low. In fact, there is a great job comparison ready and waiting:
Tri-Met drivers earn about $20 per hour at near top pay (which takes about 2-3 years to get to). At full time they are paid for a minimum of 40 hours a week, so a full time driver is earning $21/hour*40hours/week*52weeks/year= $43,680/year, if we don't count overtime. In fact, many full time drivers will make at least 5,000 more than that in overtime alone.
Drivers do have performance expectations but they are basic safety oriented expectations, and they are afforded the same kind of union benefits as teachers. They have a similar level of responsibility to teachers but a -much- lower level of expected education and experience. While a driver has the option of refusing to work more than 12 hours in a day, a teacher is often expected to more than that. Drivers also accrue annual vacation, and while teachers have significant time off in the summer, they don't earn paid vacation time like most occupations.
Should a teacher get paid more than a bus driver? I think so. Also, if some teachers are making 50 grand a year (like the first guest on the show estimates he is making), then others are making far less than the 30 or so grand that is the average. Even counting for part time teachers, this number is too low. No wonder teachers burn out or will not look into the field in the first place.
We like to relate performance to pay, but perhaps it is valid to take a step back and link pay to performance. If teachers generally earned more many would spend that money on their own continuing education. Others might spend the money on stress relief or even put that money back into the school system to improve the conditions of their work environment. Teachers would have money to travel in the summer, and come back enriched in world cultural views. Some might take the opportunity to pay out of their own pockets to bring in experts from the field they teach.
I have been seriously investigating teaching as a profession, and I remember one teacher telling me I should not go into the profession if I wanted to own a house in the city. While this simply encouraged me to look into ways to improve personal situation, the general idea is entirely too true. While and while tutors get paid more than $30 per hour per student, teachers are getting paid about $1 per hour per student. If we want more investment than that in our youth, then we WILL have to pay for it, one way or another. Paying what we do for the requirements normal teachers fulfill is abusive to them and ultimately to society.
The average individual teacher compensation for Oregon (2006-07) is $50,911 (Oregon Department of Education, 2008). In addition to salary there are only four states with higher benefit package than Oregon (Chalkboard Project).
Of course good teachers should be paid more than below average teachers, and bad teachers should be fired? If test scores are used as PART of the evaluation of performance, what should be looked at is how much test scores IMPROVE from the previous year, not the absolute test score.
But something else I have always thought (that I have never heard proposed) that teachers that teach large classes be paid more; that is teachers' pay also be based on the number of students.
That teachers spend their entire professional lives judging the merit of students and rewarding them with grades, often playing favorites with certain students, and simultaneously resisting all efforts to be graded themselves...
Getting better education would mean more openess, flexiablity in the basic system which the union won't allow. The current sturtcure is left over from the industrial revolution. We need smaller schools, more options for students and their families to choose from, we desperately need charter schools or vouchers. Teachers want a better environment to work in where they can bring forward their unique skills not a curriculm they deliver.
I teach writing and literature at a local community college. Tying teacher pay to student test scores begs a key question. It assumes that all important knowledge is "measurable" in a "test." It also assumes that students' performance on test scores accurately measures what they do indeed know.
As all educators know, learning is a process. Light bulbs go off while learners are riding on the bus, waiting in line, watching a movie. I can't believe that anyone does their best thinking in a test environment. In the same way that teachers measure a student's learning in many ways (tests, class discussion, projects, group work), teachers should be evaluated in a variety of ways: peer observation, student evaluations, self-evaluation, etc.
Great dialog. Everyone on the air agrees that the teacher compensation gap needs to be addressed, and that some degree of pay-for-performance (or "excellence") has real merit. There is clearly a substantial degree of resistance to this from the Union; however, there is a desire to raise the level of compensation (the scales) to meet the pay levels of those professionals outside the teaching profession who use similar skills/have similar capabilities and educational levels. Basically, what we are hearing is that teachers should be paid just as their non-teaching counterparts; and if that is the case, they should also expect that the compensation system should be similar - generally comprised of a merit based system where leadership, intellectual contributions, "softer" skills come into play, along with all the burdens of inter-office politics and relationship building. Somehow the non-teaching sector has figured out how to create and retain successful professionals; why not apply this to teaching sector?
from Vanessa: high school teacher in portland
Yes! part of our pay should be tied to our practice. HOWEVER (and this is a big however) it should only be part - consider these points:
--how will you measure special education teachers whose students are predominantly "non-performers"?
--why are we so afraid of a subjective process? what a condemnation of our administrators to imply they are incapable of being professional in their evaluations.
--in countries where teaching is considered a profession equal in status to the law and medicine, teachers are compensated with some measure of subjectivity. this (U.S.)current, rigid system demeans our profession and practice.
The Chalkboard Project is an extraordinary asset to our state.
Thank you for having this conversation.
>how will you measure special education teachers whose students are >predominantly "non-performers"?
Simple. You establish a benchmark for those students, and measure progress. Don't compare them to over achieving children of helicopter parent Doctors ,Lawyers, and Scientists in Lake Oswego.
Look. Everybody is evaluated in their jobs. Everybody encounters a boss that doesn't get them. Everybody runs into the limits of their influencing skills, leadership skills, etc. Getting that MBA doesn't always help. We live with it and we move on. Teachers have to get over the fact that the world doesn's work the way they want it to work.
Teachers are evaluated yearly. Good principals provide leadership, support and effective evaluations to improve the teachers at their schools as needed. This whole discussion really should be about teachers being fairly compensated for their very difficult and challenging jobs. Thank you.
By leadership, I mean leadership in the classroom. It's the quality that some people have that enables them to direct the efforts of many people towards a common goal. This is a skill that teachers need to have. We need to pay for that skill, hold teachers accountable for demonstrating it, and weed out those that don't have it through a process of in class evaluation. Of course it's not just test scores. Not all teachers will get the great school districts. Just like the real world, evaluation has to be taylored to the situation.
Help me understand how teachers were able to give better educations to the older generations without all the "testing" that is required now?
These past two gernerations of children and more especially this next generation of children are more and more unable to "think" their way through problems in real life. They are not given the "tools" that previous generations were given that give them the ability to function in life. They are unable to make decisions since all decisions have been made for them by others (think: give the RIGHT anser to the test question) or their parent/guardians.
Past teachers had more freedom to be creative in how they taught the subject matter, they had music, art and all the basics to work within to get the "lesson" ingrained in the students mind. Now teachers are hampered by having to make sure that the tests are the primary information worked on, not the whole of the idea (math, reading, science etc,) Teachers could move through all the basics sources of information while teaching about a single subject so the children could understand how all things are related.
Birds, science of birds, biology of birds, number of birds, colors and feather styles of different types of birds, song of birds etc...single subject multiple diciplines give the student a well-rounded education and the foundation of "thinking a process through". Yes, there can be a "test" about birds in the end to see what was learned, but a standardized test limits the testable information to something that just might not be useable in real life.
Part of the issue is that in the past generations, we were a much less complex society. The diversity in our culture is expanding daily. This brings additional challenges to education. Also, technology is both a wonder and a obstacle to educators. Students spend considerable amounts of time involved with technology. School districts can only provide a few computers per classroom because of funding issues. Educators are not able to compete nor keep up with technological advances. Thanks.
This myth that previous generations were so much better educated is a dangerous myth. In the 50's and 60's, only a small percentage of students took the SAT or ACT and went on to college. Now, everyone is measured and expected to do well in a college prep curriculum. In previous generations, you could go to work and get a factory job or other manual labor job if you didn't want to go the college prep route. Be careful, you can lie with statistics.
First off, you didn't READ my posting in full. Where did I list a single statistic? Your statement, "be careful how you lie with statistics" is in itself a lie...I never used a single statistic!
I also did not mention that a previous generation "were so much better educated".
What I was and am still saying is that the teachers had the oppportunity to actually TEACH!
This current school system is not set up to teach as well as past teachers had since they are hampered by the testing requirements. What is missing from this type of "testing-only education" is the ability to teach a child how to THINK.
Please also note that by being able to process and think through an idea, thought, process or argument a person had the opportunity to NOT chose to go work in a factory or manual labor job because they had better skills to follow through with. Yes not all students in all areas had the same level of education given to them in past gernerations, but the teachers were better supported in using fully rounded teaching skills to give this needful information to their students. This is not as true in this day and age.
This generation is hampered. Watch most young adults in something as simple as retail, they can't even count change back; they rely on the computer telling them what to give you...not how to take the amount given and subtract the amount owed to find the amount remaining.
It is not their fault. It is the older generation's fault for allowing this to happen to our future generations. This is why we need to take a deeper look at how we are treating our teachers not only with pay but with true support of the service that they give.
You're right. I assumed that you had based your assertion (previous generations better educated) was supported by data. I cautioned you to be careful of drawing incorrect conclusions from this data. We all know the conventional wisdom, but is it correct? Let's use that alleged superior education we have to figure it out.
Yes you are correct that past generations might have had less complex lives, but the basic principles of teaching a person to process information and think it through is even more important now than ever. This is what is missing by simply teaching to a test.
I happen to work in the computer field and agree that students are way too wrapped up in technology. I also agree that bringing computers into the classroom is a necessary evil.
There is much that can be learned using this tchnology, but to even have the computer work, meant that someone had to think through huge amounts of steps using logic to write the code to make the software work. Plus all the thought process on the part of the electrical engineers, hardware engineers, Project Mansgers etc. Without the ability to THINK thourgh a problem you are really stuck.
I am from the past generation and am thankful for the education I received in my early years. My teachers taught me to wonder, question, prod and poke for more information and answers.
My sons received much less of this and more testing, they are in their mid-twenties struggling to make decisions in their lives. We have many conversations where I have to lead them through problem solving to get to a decision (not MY decision but theirs).
My 8-year old grandchild on the other hand has no clue as to what to do on any given day. She waits to be "told" what to do, what to wear, what to listen to, and more importantly, what to think. When asked about what SHE thinks about on any given topic (even things she is interested in), she is really unable to come up with a single creative thought. She keeps asking anyone around her what they think and then copies their position. It will take a lot of work to teach her how to process information so she can be an independent individual in society.
Is this what we are really wanting out of our future generation? Teachers have no time to bring this skill back into the classroom if they are only able to MAKE each and every kid pass a test. I support allowing teachers more time to do what they went to school to do and that is TEACH and to pay them as well as we pay any other corporate worker.
Regarding the idea that a large number of students with a high-paid teacher is better than a smaller classroom with lower-paid teachers: What I remember from my own education are the moments when I had my teachers' undivided attention. One-on-one time is so important for kids, and no matter how great the teacher, no one can spend much one-on-one time with 30 kids. Smaller classrooms should be a high priority.
>One-on-one time is so important for kids, and no matter how great the >teacher, no one can spend much one-on-one time with 30 kids.
All things being equal, smaller classes are better. But a simple visit to classrooms in other countries where students outperform ours shows that 30 students is actually fairly small. Teaching is essentially a leadership skill. Some people are good leaders and some aren't. It's difficult to teach the ability to command attention and respect. It's also not something you can measure on a test. But it can be observed, just like it is in business. When someone gets promoted to a leadership position in business, and fails, that person usually is returned to an individual contributor role. I agree that teachers should be paid more, but they need to understand that with that kind of pay, there is increased scrutiny and increased pressure to perform. Increased direct observation of teaching, including the command of the classroom, the respect given by the kids, etc.
I'm an elementary school music teacher. I teach about 750 kids each week. I teach in the gym and the library, and sometimes classrooms. How would I be evaluated and compensated?
I think we have to rethink the purpose of schools;
Parents and students also have a key role in the "success" of school.
defining performance metrics is an ongoing process. First, you have an objective. Then define a proceess to achieve your objective. Then define a process to measure if your objective has been met. If your objective has not been met, evaluate your process and make improvements. Repeat. In your case, why not a pre-test, then a post-test? I saw a middle school teacher once hold a concert for 6th grade band at the BEGINNING of the year!! Then held a concert at the middle of the year and played back the beginning of the year concert recording. It was brilliant. The kids felt great about how far they had come.
Someone posted that teachers are evaluated once per year. I hope that's not true for most teachers. Performance evaluation should be a continuous process, with the yearly conversation being an affirmation/punctuation of everything that has been discussed throughout the year. I.e. there should be no surprises in the yearly review. I still find it ironic that teachers don't get this. They evaluate students continuously. Most students are not surprised by the grades on their report card because they are continuously evaluated.
As an educator of 40 years, with experience at the local school level, the district level, state agency level and university level, I feel strongly that pay for teachers need to be increased dramatically across the board before any discussion of merit pay is held. Teachers have an extremely important role in the health and future of our nation. It is a complex,difficult, rewarding, challenging, and exciting career. It takes the average teacher hours to prepare for inclass time, then hours to assess student performance on a daily basis. They must be paid competitive wages at the beginning. We will only continue to lose teachers because of the challenges and the costs. As a person who is involved with adults preparing to become teachers, it continually amazes me how bright, how capable, and how excited they are to become teachers. Do NOT let them burn out from a system that does not pay them, that does not appreciate them and that does not reward them for their efforts. Thank you.
One additional thought, the system has limited resources to support educators to meet the needs of their very dynamic profession ... that is also a reason that they leave the profession.
I agree. Pay for teachers should be increased. However, as a highly paid person myself, I can assure you that every time my compensation was increased in private industry, the expectations and pressure, as well as consequences for failure increased. That is the law of the universe. If you shelter yourself from this law of the universe, where performance is not measured and lack of performance has no consequence, it is inevitable that mediocre pay will result.
I feel that the idea to raise teachers' starting salary to 40k is just about right. I think there are a lot of good teachers out there who lose a little ambition and motivation to be great because they are being slapped in the face with such a low salary.
I'm a substitute teacher in Portland now, and the only way I'm surviving is by living in a small apartment and riding a bike (I don't own a car) to all my subbing jobs. When I add my spouse to my substitute teacher health insurance, it jumps from $40.00 per month to $400.00 per month (she gets no dental or vision with that).
So now I'm studying Special Education at PSU to increase my chances of finding a job. And how do you pay Special Education teachers based on Merit Pay when their student's testing is in a whole other world compared to the general ed. student population?
Teachers pay hasn't even kept up with inflation. And anyone who criticizes teachers' complaints with the argument of great summer vacations simply can't argue against cost of living raises. Nobody would argue against that. And teacher pay simply hasn't come even close to these increases in cost of living.
Teachers works 9 months/year for a starting salary of $31K? If they worked 12 months, they would earn ~$41K/year. I'm not against raising their pay, but let's all be clear about what they really earn today. By the way, when I worked in corporate America (think: large, lucrative product manufacturer), the average annual raise was between 2-3% -- a pittance I had to relay to all my hard-working, committed staff, regardless of their performance. How's that for keeping up with inflation?
If you really want to figure out their pay, then you will need to include the hours of preparation that occurs before and after the school day, the time spent grading papers and projects, the time spent in parent-teacher meetings, the time spent in training, the time spent preparing for the next school year, the time spent continuously trying to improve their craft. It is a very complex situation. This is one of the reasons that teachers are leaving in droves (I mean 40% within 5 years is crazy and wasteful!! And tragic!) They work extremely difficult jobs with limited support and resources and on top of that, pay that is not competitive.
Oregon's Measure 11, which mandated prison sentences for youth, took sentencing out of the hands of wise judges who could divert young offenders to appropriate alternatives for therapeutic and educational therapy. Instead, Oregonians have repeatedly voted to increase spending on prisons. This sad reality takes money away from other social programs, including education.
Governor Kitzaber commissioned a study to find out the exact amount it would take to fund a quality education for Oregon's K-12 students. The legislature has access to this information, but has not funded education at levels even close to the recommended per student expenditure.
Why not? Can we please get our kids out of prison? Taxpayers are spending in the neighborhood of $40,000 a year to keep one kid locked up. That sum could provide an education at Oregon's universities!
When folks argue that we Oregonians don't have the money to fund schools, it makes me crazy. It's a matter of our priorities, both moral and financial.
My view: one problem is that the profession is too often treated like trade, not a profession. Unfortunately, this view is not just the unions; but it is reflected in the attitudes of university teaching programs. A second problem is that we Oregonians are too providential. We too often not willing to look outside of ourselves for better ideas and we set up rules to restrict outsiders.
From my point of view evaluation of a teacher should be a multi-part tool. For instance, years of education, credentialing, evaluation of classroom performance, parent evaluation, pre-tests and post-tests of students, among others, each category having a range of numeric values. A total number value would provide the "score" to apply to a pay scale.
I am a parent of a former elementary teacher who is now back in graduate school for a second masters degree in another education-related field. After eleven years of being a 150% teacher, according to her principal, she burned out and could not continue doing her job the way she felt it should be done.
Or teachers are treated like day-care providers. We should get more community members into the classroom for a day (or a week) preparing for class, teaching class, working with the student, disciplining as necessary, supporting as necessary, wiping noses as necessary, breaking up a fight, counseling a homeless youth, working with diverse and complex student abilities and needs. The list goes on. Maybe we need a little "walking in the shoes" of educators so that our cities and states really understand and support the valuable contributions that our teachers are making on a daily basis.
Every non-labor related business in a free society deals with the same issues that the teachers are hiding from. Just because it is challenging to come up with ACCURATE mesures of a teacher's effectiveness, doesn't mean you give up and say it's impossile. They need 360 degree evaluations to get away from 'mean' supervisors. They need to be measured and paid accordingly just like the rest of us!
When they get their evaluations, are you willing to pay what they are worth?
Glad to hear someone say this should be a professional model, not an assembly line model. As has often been said, manufacturing plants can reject raw material, schools must educate all students.
The front page of the Oregonian has the Prineville teacher who was named National Teacher of the Year. One way to evaluate the issues being discussed today is whether any system (Merit Pay, Class Project, etc.) would have rated that teacher highly.
More than 30 years ago, I knew someone who was teaching in one of those old rural one-school elemengtary districts. Young, committed teacher who would give extra help during recess and other times to students who needed help. But the principal didn't like him. Half the parents thought he was wonderful, the other half agreed with the principal. So he only lasted one year in that district----and went on to a long career in another district. How would any of the systems discussed have evaluated him?
I was a substitute teacher for many years. Some teachers were wonderful, some were not. Some left complete lesson plans, others did not.
Some administrators were very helpful, others were the kind who would proverbially dump someone in the deep end of the pool and expect them to swim. There were subs who would gladly work in a supportive school with great working conditions and a lower hourly rate than in non-supportive schools with high hourly rate.
There are lots of teachers who can't really be evaluated by standardized tests, incl. kindergarten teachers, PE/ Music/ Art teachers, librarians, special ed teachers, etc. Such discussions rarely mention them.
What about evaluating administrators? There are some people in this debate who think teachers should be evaluated very rigorously but administrators know what they are doing. The best teachers working under an incompetent or bullying administrator are not going to do their best work. The best teachers I ever had didn't fit into a mold.
Finally, kids are not widgets. Many teachers have had the experience I had subbing in a middle school---one year the 7th graders were more mature for most of the year than the 8th graders.
Do students have a responsibility to learn? Do parents have a responsibility to help students?
Some proposals (like Sizemore's over the years) imply teachers have a responsibility to cram that knowledge into students' heads, but students have no responsibility to learn.
This is a complex subject. How is Denver's approach to something similar ---merit pay system agreed to by both teachers and administrators--working out?
The late Wes Sullivan of the Statesman Journal once wrote about a system years ago in Salem which was put into place, failed miserably, and was dropped. And yet this idea is a hardy perennial--often floated by those who oppose unionized public employees but never mention the salaries of publicly funded administrators.
Being around groups of kids in any setting (school, sports, child care, etc.) can be exhausting. People who think they understand "the public schools" should spend a whole day in a classroom or other child-centered activity.
Gov. Huckabee, when he was running for President, said the main problem with teachers in Arkansas was burnout within 5 years due to lack of support. When asked about problem schools, he said "If the state had to take over a failing school, first we fired the supt., then we told the school board their services were no longer needed".
In other occupations, there are people who say that front line workers need excellent management, and if they don't have support from management they shouldn't be told they are incompetent. But too often, there have been people in Oregon who want to ignore evaluation of school administrators (supt. on down, all publicly funded) and claim if only there was no teachers union schools would run smoothly.
Seems like any review of performance should include a peer review by following year(s) teachers. With the computer records now kept on each student, a "student is ready", "has good habits", "has problems" (and other subjective questions), type of evaluation would help track prior teacher's performance. The teachers doing the evaluation would not even have to know the prior teachers (different school or district) because they are evaluating the students, but the aggregate would give an indication of prior teacher performance.
I have seven children 20 thru 3 years old. They are or have been in high school, alternative high school, middle school, elementary school, pre-school, and home school. Some have learning disabilities, some are advanced, and some are "normal". I consider "no child left behind" as "no child gets ahead". Testing as an evaluation has tied the hands of good teachers and given whole schools tunnel vision where they should be expanding vision.
My senior in high school turned herself around about two years ago. I know it was a group effort, but I also know it wasn?t a test. She started enjoying school and doing the work.
My third grader home schooled last year, reads at above grade level 11, does fractions and decimals, has spent the entire year doing sheets of addition and just now multiplication? so he can pass a test. He is also getting so-so about school and will probably be home schooled again. The reason he went back into regular school was the social aspect, but he has lost quite a bit on the academic side.
The current system of tests seems to only target the middle of the road students. The bottom that requires special education is cut loose and the top, because they already meet the requirements, are ignored.
Teachers who complain about not getting paid enough should do the following: leave your job. If private schools pay more, then go for it. If you don't want to leave your job, find a second job during summer. If teachers aren't in the job for the money, then they shouldn't complain for the low pay.
Are you home schooling you children, or private school? If not, you?re a hypocrite! Pay the teachers!!!
Perhaps you don't understand what "burnout" means? It means that teachers are doing exactly that- leaving because they are not justly compensated for the job they are trying to do. Right now Wilson High School, the second largest public school in the Portland Public school Distric has only one Physics teacher, who, just this year had to take on AP physics as well. Next year four of the top level science and math teachers at Wilson will be retiring. Who will replace them? There are not that many high quality science and math teachers lined up. Will we hire part time teachers out of the middle schools like we have for the art and music programs in the past? Will we shortchange another school so that Wilson can continue to have teachers? Will we get parents, who certainly have the money but never have the time, to actually participate in getting new high quality teachers?
We probably will not. The seniors will graduate, feeling lucky to have slipped out before things got worse (like I feel every time I fill my car with gas), the younger children will not know what to expect, and the parents will solve their problems with teachers by yelling at them during conferences and demeaning the administrators who will not remove them immediately. It comes with the territory, but if you want teachers who do not care about being able to support themselves and pay off debt, then what kind of person do you think will fill that job?
Why would Oregon teachers require more compensation than almost all other states? As it is now, only seven states have teachers individually compensated at a higher level than Oregon. That is remarkable for a state that is ranked 29th in affluence.
You seem to think (correct me if my inference is wrong) that physics teachers should get compensated at a higher level than most other teachers. I agree.
I know many educators, some related, some are friends. They are not there to make money! They are there to educate our children. I just wish they were paid for what they do, educate our kids! Bad teachers should go and we need to find a way to keep the one?s that just want to teach and then pay them more.
Oregon teacher compensation is not the problem. There are only 13 states which have higher individual teacher salaries than Oregon (NEA 2007). There are only seven states which have higher individual teacher compensation than Oregon (Chalkboard Project). The relatively very high Oregon teacher compensation is the primary reason why Oregon has among the largest class sizes, shortest school years, problematic deferred maintenance and curtailed programs.
Oregon is in the lower half of states in affluence. Yet, Oregon has spent more per student than Washington in every year since 1990. Also, Oregon has spent more per student than the median state in all but four years since 1990.
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