Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Brick Wall of Resistance from the Teachers' Union

New Reason.tv episode with Drew Carey:

Vikki Reyes has had it with Locke High, the school her daughters attend in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. She walked in on class one day and recalls “the place was just like a zoo!” Students had taken control, while the teacher sat quietly with a book.

Frank Wells has also had it with Locke High. When he became principal he says gangs ruled the campus. He tried to turn things around but ran into a “brick wall” of resistance from the school district and teachers union.

Locke seemed destined to languish in high crime and low test scores until Wells, Reyes, and many reform-minded teachers joined with a maverick named Steve Barr in an attempt to break free from the status quo. Their battle is just one example of the charter school education revolt that’s erupting across the nation.


At 2/19/2008 10:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

News flash

Vallejo On Brink Of Bankruptcy

As for the teachers fire all of them.

At 2/19/2008 11:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is amazingly typical that a group of "union-strong" teachers can talk so poorly about other adults, without saying a single word about what is right for the students. That union fervor is a blindfold to the eyes of change.

At 2/20/2008 12:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We could get into a long discussion about how the education majors are chock-full of the lowest-percentile GPA and SAT students, but I guess that wouldn't be productive. Anecdotally, I can say that the stupidest people that I've ever known in higher education were those in Education majors. The vocation is rife with brainstems.


At 2/20/2008 7:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If it's true that only dumb people choose to go into education, what's the reason(s)? The first step in solving a problem is determining a root cause.

I don't think the education problem is as simplistic as teachers or teachers' unions.

At 2/20/2008 10:00 AM, Anonymous Is said...

When I was an undergraduate, many students that flunked out of engineering and science changed their major to education and seemed to sail through it. From discussions with my peers, this situation persists at many universities. That isn't to say that there aren't intelligent, qualified teachers. However, it does result in that occupation being flooded with the lower performers. There are a lot of complaints about low teacher pay. But, isn't that exactly what you would expect from one of the easier majors? The curicculum should be tougher. It would decrease the number of education graduates and increase their demand and pay, even without the help of the teacher's union.

At 2/20/2008 10:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to agree with the notion that education is the default major for the drunks/attending college because they're fans of the football team/escape the real world after high school crowd.

As for the video, thats nice but overall on a nationally basis there really is no noticeable difference between public and charter schools in terms of student performance. Videos like this are pure gold for the professors in the Public Choice field to enforce their propaganda that the private sector is the solution for everything.
Type "charter school" over at Wikipedia and you'll come to the same conclusion.

At 2/20/2008 10:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm curious. I'm going to assume that only smart people read this blog. I'll also assume, for the sake of argument, that no teachers read this blog. Would anyone like to share their reasons for not going into the teaching profession?

I’ll go first. Actually, I have taught college for a second income, but my main reason for not choosing a full-time teaching profession was the pay and benefits. When I graduated high school, factory pay was almost twice as much as public school teachers’ pay.

What your reason? Since recognizing a problem in the first step in solving a problem, let’s be part of the solution here.

Don’t be bashful. This could be enlightening.

At 2/20/2008 11:11 AM, Anonymous Is said...

My undergraduate degree is in Chemical Engineering. I would have rather taught high school chemistry, math, and physics, but I could not justify making half the pay with less upside as my career progressed. My graduate degrees are both in business, and I sometimes teach a class at the local community college.

At 2/20/2008 11:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In my earlier comment, I was referring to secondary education teachers, not college instructors or professors. Just wanted to clarify that.

Walt, I could never be a teacher at the middle- or high school level because of the lack of any recourse in respect to discipline in the classroom. Largely due to the natural result of multi-cultural moral equivalence, punishment is not an option for correcting bad behavior. I'd be in jail after a couple of days at the head of a classroom.

I know people going through the undergrad education program. Their days are spent playing games, cutting out construction-paper shapes, and learning all kinds of interesting pablum about diversity and "social justice." Very little of what passes for "education" is actually education. To be a chemistry teacher at the high school level, most of your education is "education," and ill-prepares an aspiring teacher to actually teach chemistry.


At 2/20/2008 12:40 PM, Blogger Cobb said...

My wife is a teacher and from what I hear, it sounds like the two biggest problems are the following:

1. Too much money caught up in the administrative functions. There are people who literally sit around doing nothing most of the day but get paid a full teacher's salary. They couldn't cut it as teachers, but they couldn't be fired because of union protection, so now they sit in an office and do close to nothing. Plus, there are just way too many administrators getting paid way more than they're worth.

2. There are a large number of teachers who either don't care or are just plain dumb. The level of talent among teachers is ridiculously low. (I like to think my wife is one of the better ones.)

That's why I think organizations like Green Dot are great because they make administrative costs as low as possible so they're actually able to afford to pay their teachers more, thus attracting more talent. Or, God forbid, spend the money on supplies for the kids!

As far as studies on the effectiveness of charter schools, the split basically goes like this:

- Union/Government-Sponsored Studies: Charter schools offer no advantage.
- Private Studies: Charter schools, on average, produce better students.

Call me crazy, but I tend to discount union- and government-sponsored studies.

At 2/20/2008 1:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I teach part-time at a junior college in California. I am "pressured" to join the union at various times. While I have not joined, my paycheck is subject to mandatory union dues.

This video supports my stance. What a bunch of thugs.

At 2/20/2008 2:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of my best friends taught grade 3 I think and he loved it. All the parents thought he was the best teacher at the school. He kept telling me horror stories like how they could not use a red pen to grade papers because the principal thought that would lead to "red pen syndrome" and other such nonesense.

One day, one of his students (who had been abused by her prostitute mother), accused my friend of putting his hand up her shirt in the middle of class. His union paid attorney kept telling him he had nothing to worry about and he could easily get the case dismissed, and basically did no work on the case. On the eve of trial, his union attorney threw him under a bus and convinced him to take a plea deal or do long jail time, despite what I thought was blatant prosecutorial misconduct and a very good chance at beating the charge (a witness admitted she was lying). The only job my friend can now get now is doing manual labor at less than half the pay he was making as an admired teacher.

This is part of the reason why many people stay away from teaching. Too risky.

At 2/20/2008 6:02 PM, Anonymous K. Powers said...

I am a high school economics teacher who reads Carpe Diem on a regular basis, as I was a student in 3 of Dr. Perry's classes. Therefore the assumption that "no teachers read this blog" is not a good one. My students often read this blog because I expose them to it each semester. My student's also start each class by reading the Wall St. Journal. I can't imagine I am the only teacher in America who does this.
I also see, on a daily basis, the lack of efficiency and waste of resources exhibited in my high school - and it is one of the "GOOD ONES", so to speak. Attempts to privatize services in order to save money were met the pro-union podium pounding seen in this film. This type of behavior is something that I do not endorse, even though I am a member of the teachers union. In my opinion, unions often exhibit collusion when they attempt to bully their way to setting prices for their labor. The most disheartening part of this collusive behavior is that the wages they are trying to set are for EVERY teacher, despite their performance. The "brick wall of resistance" prevents that from ever changing, so teachers have the incentive to slack off. I am not excusing it, but rather explaining the cause.
I worked in the private sector for several years before losing my job as a result of the economic collaps after 9/11. I decided to going into teaching for a two reasons. One, to provide a stable living for my family and two, because studying economics, and realizing its power of explanation is something that I wanted to share with young adults. Sound ridiculous, maybe, but I get out of bed everyday because I still love my job. It's not for everyone, and yes, education schools are often far from rigorous, but if you want to be a good teacher, you have to have passion everyday, and not get caught up in how much you make, or how little you make, for that matter. Focusing on admiration of your specific subject matter should be what compels us to teaching. Unions often facilitate the abscence of this passion.

At 2/20/2008 6:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

k powers:

I was being facetious while making an inference that if all teachers were dumb and all Carpe Diem readers were smart, then no Carpe Diem readers were teachers. I thought it provoke interesting insights.

I like teachers. My sister is one (a smart one I think!). Some say she received all the brains in the family. I'm a union worker who works in a factory. I made my choice; she made her choice.

Many people mention low pay as a reason to avoid teaching as a career, and unions, whatever else their shortcomings, have historically proven to receive a wage premium for their membership (if anyone has data that show otherwise, I’ll be happy to look at it). Consequently, I sensed a contradiction between eliminating unions and increasing pay to attract “smarter” education majors.

You don't sound ridiculous at all. I hope your students appreciate your passion. Keep up the good work. Would you be more self-fulfilled at a non-union charter school where you are possibly allowed more choices, or feel it’s best to stay put? Yes, I’m fishing for another contradiction here.

At 2/20/2008 7:33 PM, Anonymous K Powers said...

Great question. I would honestly say that I would feel self-fulfilled at either location, in terms of that actual TEACHING part of it. Economics is economics no matter the classroom - charter or public. Now, the "politics" and inefficiency in our district may or may not exist in a charter school. I have limited knowledge of their innerworkings. What I do like, is the idea of merit based pay. I would welcome the opportunity to negotiate my salary based upon administrators observations and my portfolio of work in the classroom. I feel fairly confident that it is worth equal, if not more, than the 30 plus year teacher who is "getting by" in the classroom, but making $90,000 plus annually.
As far as higher wages for union workers, I am certain that the data is stacked in the unions favor. However, if I am going to pay $800 per year to be in a union, shouldn't I count on raises of greater than 1%? The health/dental/optical is nice, but trying to pay other bills without beating inflation is difficult. However, I don't complain, because I knew up front that I wasn't going to get rich teaching high school. I am more concerned that the $800 I forgoe every year to my union would be better served somewhere else - given the current returns on that investment.

At 2/21/2008 7:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

$800 seems pretty cheap to make sure that you are not fired because some school superintendent wants to hire his or her daughter or son to take your place and slants his or her assessment of you to make sure that happens. It’s virtually impossible to have a 100% objective assessment. What you feel you are worth, and what an administrator feels you are worth, can easily be much different. I doubt you would have an equal vote to break the tie without additional support or mediation.

Unions have their own problems, but a healthy tension and a little give-and-take keeps everyone on their toes. Unchecked power corrupts even well-intentioned people.

At 2/21/2008 9:40 AM, Blogger Phil said...

This video is pretty convincing evidence that Green Dot is doing an amazing job with the kids, while acting as an effective steward of the public's dollars.

Unfortunately, for every Green Dot there is a charter school management company that neglects their students, pays teachers well below union wages, and seems to look at education as an excuse for raiding the public coffers.

I support the idea of charter schools in general, but Green Dot is unfortunately much, much better than most.

At 2/21/2008 12:22 PM, Blogger Marko said...

I think we should institute teacher pay practices in other union environments, like in sports and entertainment. Baseball players should be paid by their level of eductation, rather than their ability to play ball. Movie stars should be paid by the number of years acting, not by how well they do. Seems fair, doesn't it?

Please note that this email is intended to be ironic.

At 2/21/2008 1:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Baseball players and movie stars have professional agents who bargain for them with experienced business owners. That's their "union" or representative(s). A good agent can indeed bargain for higher pay for lower skills; it happens everyday. How many stars do you think actually handle their own business affairs?

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