Monday, March 14, 2011

60 Minutes: $125,000 for Public School Teachers?


CBS News --"With state after state confronting massive budget problems, several governors have been looking to extract whatever they can from public employees like teachers, going after benefits packages and guaranteed job security that unions have won for them. But would teachers be willing to give up those protections for a chance to earn a lot more money?

There's a school in New York City that's trying to prove just that. It's a bold new experiment in public education called "TEP," which stands for The Equity Project, a charter school that is publicly funded but privately run. It's offering its teachers $125,000 a year - more than double the national average.

TEP aims to prove that attracting the best and brightest teachers and holding them accountable for results is the essential ingredient to a school's success. Could this school become a national model for the future of public education? That's the $125,000 question."

44 Comments:

At 3/14/2011 2:00 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

How do you "hold teachersa accountable" if you have a roomful of low-IQ students uninterested in learning?

Converesely, give to me a roomful of Asian immigrant children, and I will be an ace teacher.

It seems to be everyone is beating around the bush. We have some rural and urban pockets where kids don't want to learn, and are even dangerous to be around. Why do teachers get blamed for this?

 
At 3/14/2011 2:05 PM, Blogger hal said...

other people's money.

 
At 3/14/2011 2:25 PM, Blogger bix1951 said...

I watched this last night. Bottom line was that the kids didn't do better on the standardized tests so this experiment is a failure.
As a retired teacher I would say that the aptitude of the student is the essential element. Aptitude is not something you can change. I used to say, "You can't teach a cat to play the piano."

 
At 3/14/2011 2:37 PM, Blogger Sam said...

Benjamin, I think you are on to something. As a matter of public policy lets not waste money trying to teach the stupid kids. We could save a fortune by firing a bunch of unneeded teachers since classrooms will be very small.

But, seriously, what's next? The police will soon be complaining that criminals are just too criminal when the citizens start demanding the police get a handle on crime.

 
At 3/14/2011 2:57 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

"How do you "hold teachersa accountable" if you have a roomful of low-IQ students uninterested in learning?"

easily.

you look at the test scores going in, then the test scores coming out.

this is how the harlem children's project has measured its very substantial success.

this is how the results of the DC voucher system were validated.

take the same kids, and see how their test scores vary over time.

what could be simpler than that?

 
At 3/14/2011 3:03 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

I thought it was interesting when the principal was asked why he still had a job after having to fire teachers who he had hired who could not raise student test scores. His answer: It takes time for improvement to happen. Why didn't the teachers get the same amount of time that he received to show improvement?

Treating the hired help like second-class citizens is why people really join labor unions. And all this time you thought labor unions were all about money, didn't you?

 
At 3/14/2011 3:13 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

"It's offering its teachers $125,000 a year - more than double the national average."

I watched the program. It seems like to me that they were doing three times the amount of work for twice the pay. Somebody is going to have an easy job organizing them if they keep that up. I wonder if the principal's parents own the school.

 
At 3/14/2011 3:19 PM, Blogger AIG said...

"Treating the hired help like second-class citizens is why people really join labor unions."

Oh jeez!

 
At 3/14/2011 4:08 PM, Blogger rjs said...

maybe standardized tests results shouldnt be the measurement of success...i'd want to know if their attitude toward learning had improved, but i'd dont know how you'd measure that...

learning shouldnt be work...it should be interesting & akin to play...

the bottom line is we're all born with a curiousity & interest in learning new things, and there's something in our educational systems today that's killing it...

 
At 3/14/2011 4:10 PM, Blogger Che is dead said...

Michelle Rhee attempted this reform in the D.C. public schools. She offered teachers the same deal - $125,000 if they gave up tenure - the teachers unions were so threatened by this offer that they refused to let their membership vote on it.

If you haven't seen "Waiting for Superman" yet, do. It puts the lie to "low-IQ students uninterested in learning" as that genius "Benji" puts it.

 
At 3/14/2011 4:25 PM, Blogger Che is dead said...

"Bottom line was that the kids didn't do better on the standardized tests so this experiment is a failure. As a retired teacher I would say that the aptitude of the student is the essential element. Aptitude is not something you can change."

The problem is that those incapable of teaching are probably incapable of judging a students aptitude as well. I'm wondering, how do you explain schools like this:

Spitting in the eye of mainstream education, L.A. Times

 
At 3/14/2011 4:36 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Good old Walt G. with the same tired old themes. Some things never change.

"Why didn't the teachers get the same amount of time that he received to show improvement?"

Life isn't fair, is it Walt. Don't you frequently point that out when you think it helps your argument?

Actually, student performance did improve in the area of the principal's responsibility, which is the whole school. He identified 2 problem areas, and corrected them. Did you hear one of the fired teachers say she was relieved to be let go? This was too much of a challenge for her. Firing her was the right decision for her, the school, and her students.

"It seems like to me that they were doing three times the amount of work for twice the pay."

I'm not sure how you are able to make that determination, but one teacher indicated that she worked twice as many hours as before. This was too much for her, she was asked to leave.

Keep in mind that every teacher is there because they choose to be there, and they understand the conditions of employment, and the job requirements. Why do you think they will be easy to organize? are they being exploited by the evil task master?

"I wonder if the principal's parents own the school."

Why would you even wonder such a thing? That's really bizarre.

 
At 3/14/2011 4:40 PM, Blogger Andrew_M_Garland said...

"The Equity Project, a charter school that is publicly funded but privately run. It's offering its teachers $125,000 a year - more than double the national average."

This is another expensive government experiment. I don't believe that the funding is independent of the operation.

Education will only respond to true competition. Let independent schools set prices and teach to a standard of education. Only this competition can determine policies and required teacher's salaries.

Remove the bias that is now in favor of public employees having a monopoly on delivering education.

 
At 3/14/2011 4:48 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

wow, imagine being asked to work hard for $125k a year.

wow, what an outlandish request...

ever seen the hours an investment banking analyst us asked to work in his/her first year (and for less money)?

how about a first year lawyer? do you have any idea what the work life of someone who need to bill 3000 hours a year is like?

how about a medical resident?

80 and 100 hour weeks are what inexperienced folks can expect to work for $125k, even folks with vastly superior educational backgrounds to teachers.

and they do not get 3 months off in the summer and several long breaks during the year.

a young lawyer at a major firm is luck to get 3 weekends off in the summer.

keep in mind that the equivalent wage for someone working year round is more like 170k.

that's a awfully attractive paycheck to most folks.

 
At 3/14/2011 4:51 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

walt-

the teachers organizing would be irrelevant if they could not force the rest of the staff to join them and force the school to hire only union.

take away the coercive aspect of collective union bargaining and who cares what they do? i'd just fire the one who did not want to work and be judged on performance.

the only reason these stunts work is that unions can take away the rights of employers.

 
At 3/14/2011 4:59 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

"Actually, student performance did improve in the area of the principal's responsibility, which is the whole school."

Ron H.,

Was that reflected in the testing? If not, how was the improvement measured? I saw students happy to be in school and a lot of enthusiasm, so I will agree that is a positive achievement.

Suspecting nepotism in structured environments is not the least bit bizarre. In fact, it is rather common.

 
At 3/14/2011 5:02 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

so, let's flip this around:

why is tenure a useful way to make employee retention decisions?

what's the benefit to using tenure as opposed to performance?

i will bet that you cannot come up with one good answer.

 
At 3/14/2011 5:09 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Morgan-
I went to public schools, in Pasadena and Los Angeles. Some of my fellow students were truculent, malicious, contempuous of learning.

As for police departments, they in fact blame criminals when crime rates go up. And they are right.

Only long-term incarceration keeps crime rates down.

Most police departments are much too big. The emphasis shoul be on catching crminals, and putting them behind bars for a long time.

I am open to scenarios in which criminals work to pay back society for their damages and costs.

 
At 3/14/2011 5:11 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 3/14/2011 5:13 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

morganovich,

I agree teachers should be judged on performance--I am--I am non-union where I teach. I've just seen too many areas over the years where the performance was monetary and/or sexual. Will the most effective teacher who is not liked be judged worse than a less effective teacher who is well liked? Will a Republican teacher get fired by a Democratic princiapl and vice versa? How about a teacher who is pro-choice?

I think a good teacher has to be judged by more than student test scores, but the subjective judging can be political and personal. Bad teachers who are really bad should be fired, but good teachers who can teach students what they are supposed to know should be given due process before getting fired.

 
At 3/14/2011 5:13 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

bix-

that comparison to other schools is potentially extremely disingenuous and your description of the program as a failure is totally unsupportable.

we have no idea where they were before.

you need to measure what happened to these kids.

did they improve over what they did the year before?

to say that kids who jumped 2 grade levels in reading in a year are not learning because they are still below the average is ridiculous.

if they are catching up, then they are learning. if they gain more on the tests than other schools, they are learning more even if they have not caught up all the way yet.

 
At 3/14/2011 5:17 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

benji-

that comment was a wild non sequitor.

what on earth are you talking about?

 
At 3/14/2011 5:17 PM, Blogger Dr. T said...

$125,000 a year may be twice the national average for public school teacher compensation, but it is less than 25% higher than existing New York City teacher compensation. Average total pay (including the $42 per hour pay for summer school teaching and extracurricular work such as running a club) plus benefits exceeds $100,000 per year.


@Benjamin: "How do you "hold teachers accountable" if you have a roomful of low-IQ students uninterested in learning?"

You assess the students at the beginning and end of the school year. With a competent teacher, the average student should increase his knowledge and skills by one grade. Thus, a third grade teacher whose students have low IQs and low motivation might start the year with average student grade level of 2.2. If the teacher brings the average up to 3.2 by the end of the school year, then that would be acceptable performance. If the average goes up to 3.5, then that would be good performance even though most of the students are below the expected grade level of 4.0.

 
At 3/14/2011 5:21 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

walt-

you set up a ridiculous straw man. welcome to the world. hiring and firing take place for lots of reasons, some bad.

every free market industry is like that. but bosses who fire their good employees because they are democrats or whatever will tend to fail, so it's self correcting.

most endeavors seek to attract and keep the best people they can. the successful ones are good at getting and keeping effective people.

welcome to the world.

there is no perfect system.

you are making the perfect the enemy of the good.

 
At 3/14/2011 5:48 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

you really need to keep in mind that the purpose of schools is to educate children, not provide secure employment to teachers.

in all of our most successful industries, the mantra is perform or leave.

schools should be no different.

sure, "performance" can be a bit subjective, but the same is true of any industry from investment banking to mowing the lawn.

however, the results of teaching are less subjective than most. you have test scores to look at just as a salesman has a pile of revenue to point to. these are much more concrete than say "well, the lawn looks good" or "i like my doctor".

 
At 3/14/2011 5:58 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"Was that reflected in the testing? If not, how was the improvement measured? I saw students happy to be in school and a lot of enthusiasm, so I will agree that is a positive achievement."

Did you watch the whole segment? Many of these kids were below average in achievement, and their parents CHOSE to enroll them in this charter school perhaps in hopes of improvement. It was at least suggested that their performance overall improved during the school year, even if they didn't outshine their peers at other schools. Good attitudes and enthusiasm are indeed positive achievements, and should serve them well in future years, no matter what their actual ability.

"Suspecting nepotism in structured environments is not the least bit bizarre. In fact, it is rather common."

Common to suspect, or common to find? What possible difference would it make if his parents own the school? Was there any indication he might not do a good job if it were true?

 
At 3/14/2011 6:03 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"As for police departments, they in fact blame criminals when crime rates go up. And they are right."

Crime is blamed on criminals? Now that's a new one. I though most crimes were blamed on guns, and if we could somehow eliminate them entirely, then crime would vanish.

 
At 3/14/2011 6:16 PM, Blogger bix1951 said...

Nature or nurture?

THE JURY IS STILL OUT.

 
At 3/14/2011 6:24 PM, Blogger Methinks said...

Bix, you're wrong.

Nora the cat is an excellent pianist and a crack performer too.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v0zgQAp7EYw

 
At 3/14/2011 7:04 PM, Blogger Marko said...

Vouchers.

The beauty of the marketplace is that we few people at our computers don't need to figure out how to fix the problem.

 
At 3/14/2011 8:03 PM, OpenID Sprewell said...

I watched this online last night, was good to see Katie Couric do a piece focusing on the problems with tenure and the alternatives. Benjie, you remind me of my dad and how he just mouths the standard leftie evasion: "it's not the teachers, it's the parents." Of course it's the parents, no shit, but that doesn't take the teachers off the hook. The main cause of car deaths is driver error: that doesn't mean we should take out air bags and all the other safety measures in the car. Similarly, there are plenty of kids from bad backgrounds that could be helped by a good teacher, or at least by avoiding the bad teachers that the current tenure system allows. Speaking of tenure, there was a funny extra online interview with the head of the national union AFT, the odious Weingarten, where Couric challenged her on tenure and she ran away from the word, redefining it as "due process," a talking point that Walt is no doubt familiar with.

Walt, it makes perfect sense to me that the principal gets a longer timeline than struggling teachers. That struggling teacher said she worked 80-90 hour weeks, presumably more than most of the others, so if that's 3 times what normal teachers work, that means they're only working 27-30 hour weeks. No wonder we think they're lazy. ;) If a teacher is solicited for sexual favors to keep their job, what stops them from unleashing a lawsuit on the principal, just as any private worker can? It is ironic- or is it deeply stupid?- that the teachers insist on a govt school monopoly, so they can try to jack their pay up, then demand tenure to protect them from the monopoly they insist on in the first place. Funny how it always ends up roses for the teachers, never for the students. The final shot of the kid who couldn't read after going through the public school system reading surprisingly big words after a year at this school was affecting, that's the real story here.

Dr. T, it did strike me that $125k probably doesn't go as far in NYC as it does in Tucson. Overall, I'm skeptical of this school and any school that emphasizes teachers and the existing curriculum, which is wildly outdated and useless. I continue to think online learning will destroy all these schools in the coming years and tons of teachers will be out of work, just as the internet has put half the travel agents out of business, with the remaining half hanging on by a thread.

 
At 3/14/2011 8:20 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

sprewel-

the flip side of the argument you are making against benji etc is that if it's not the teachers creating outcomes, then why pay them worth a damn and give them pensions, benefits, and nearly unrivaled job security?

i find it interesting that the folks arguing for the teachers never seem to see this and manage to get away with being on both sides of this debate.

"test scores are terrible"

"it's not the teachers fault, they have bad students/parents/whatever"

"teachers are overpaid"

"but teachers have the most important job there is"

there seems to me to be an incongruity there.

they cannot be both critical to the future of our children and nation and not responsible for children who can't read.

 
At 3/14/2011 8:39 PM, OpenID Sprewell said...

Morganovich, I have a feeling you completely misunderstood my argument. I think teaching is mostly overrated and that most teachers will be replaced by online instruction. However, as long as we're stuck with the current teacher-oriented system, I'd rather that we had better teachers in the short-term rather than the incompetents that are currently protected by tenure. I completely agree that the defenders of teachers talk out of both sides of their mouths, I'm not sure why you seem to think I'm one of those defenders. ;)

 
At 3/14/2011 10:37 PM, Blogger Pat said...

Assuming it's now a given that government/taxpayers must FUND education, it does not necessarily follow that govt must provide the SERVICE.

All attempts to get govt to run better schools are welcome, but face the intrinsic handicaps of govt operations. Market forces play a limited role, at best.

Indeed, politics are rife throughout the process -- including the uber-harmful public employee unions.

Instead, we need to stop trying to "reform" public education, and instead need to END it -- at least for those parents who want alternatives. Hence we should go to education vouchers or (better yet) eduction tax credits to let the private sector compete for the service -- with PARENTS and not educrats making the consumer decisions.

 
At 3/15/2011 8:54 AM, Blogger Hydra said...

"Benjamin, I think you are on to something. As a matter of public policy lets not waste money trying to teach the stupid kids."

=================================

As our society becomes increasingly sophisticated, stupid becomes more of a relative term.

After we give up on teaching the stupid kids, do we give up on feeding them, too?

 
At 3/15/2011 9:43 AM, Blogger Che is dead said...

"After we give up on teaching the stupid kids, do we give up on feeding them, too?"


Why must you lefties always use children as props in your arguments? It is never about the kids with you, that's just the bullshit you spew when your arguments are weak and you want to shut down debate.

If you cared about the kids, particularly minority kids, you wouldn't support a system where fewer than half of them are likely to graduate and those that do never gain basic proficiency and require remediation if they attempt college. You wouldn't accept a situation that doomed millions of kids to a future of poverty and violence just so that your union buddies could gorge themselves at the taxpayer trough.

No, we don't have to give up on feeding the kids, just the lazy, entitled union hacks who think that their jobs are a right and not a privilege that they have to earn.

 
At 3/15/2011 10:35 AM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"Why must you lefties always use children as props in your arguments? It is never about the kids with you, that's just the bullshit you spew when your arguments are weak and you want to shut down debate."

Well said!

 
At 3/15/2011 11:24 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

sprewel-

i was not disagreeing with you.

i agree with what you said.

i was just fleshing it out to show the other implications of that argument if you look at it from the other direction.

i did not intend to lump you into those defenders.

 
At 3/15/2011 12:56 PM, Blogger bix1951 said...

can you teach common sense?
or compassion?
or reason?

seems like you could....
maybe our schools should have a new mission
instead of training people to be good workers
help them to become good citizens

 
At 3/15/2011 1:50 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"seems like you could....
maybe our schools should have a new mission
instead of training people to be good workers
help them to become good citizens
"

That's been tried elsewhere with mixed results.

 
At 3/15/2011 5:17 PM, OpenID Sprewell said...

Morganovich, OK, I misunderstood what you said.

 
At 3/15/2011 5:18 PM, Blogger juandos said...

How can one tell if the money spent on teachers is worth if this is the sort CRAP that is being foisted off as an education?

 
At 3/15/2011 7:08 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

"maybe our schools should have a new mission
instead of training people to be good workers
help them to become good citizens"

that sounds worryingly fascist to me.

good citizens?

we are not subjects.

how about good people?

 
At 3/16/2011 10:11 PM, OpenID Sprewell said...

testing it out

 

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