Saturday, March 12, 2011

Teachers Unions Explained


HT: Pete Friedlander

31 Comments:

At 3/12/2011 5:24 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"children should be held to a higher standard"...

Why?

"They're not unionized"...

Don't give them any ideas...

LMAO!

Excellent find Dr. P...

Hilarious too!

 
At 3/12/2011 8:03 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

How do you explain NFL players union?

 
At 3/12/2011 8:37 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Hydra, only the best football players in the country can get into the NFL union. It's an exclusive club.

 
At 3/12/2011 9:28 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Teachers' union is the biggest obstacle to school reform
February 11, 2011
by Liv Finne

Results show student learning is down, not up.

I got the strongest reaction when I pointed out that our research consistently shows that the teachers’ union is the biggest obstacle to achieving change in our public schools.

Stung by my challenge, union executives surrounded me after the program, loudly objecting to my comments.

My comment: The teachers union is in denial:

Teaching for America
November 20, 2010

Report: 75 percent of young Americans, between the ages of 17 to 24, are unable to enlist in the military today because they have failed to graduate from high school, have a criminal record, or are physically unfit.”

 
At 3/12/2011 9:54 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Executives of teachers' unions get paid even more than the highest paid public school teachers:

Head Of NJ Teachers' Union Makes $550,000 A Year
Sep. 14, 2010

As Governor Chris Christie goes to war with the NJ teachers union, let's review what he's up against.

NJEA director Vince Giordano received $421,615 in salary and $128,508 in deferred compensation last year.

NJEA president Barbara Keshishian earned $256,450 last year. VP Wendell Steinhauer and Secretary-Treasurer Marie Blistan were paid $170,974 each.

Meanwhile, the governor earned a measly $175,000.

Christie's war with the union escalated earlier this summer when a union official suggested praying for the governor's death.

 
At 3/12/2011 10:56 PM, Blogger Lazarus Lupin said...

Ok, very funny.
I do have one question. We are lagging behind much of the industrialized world in matters of education. With the exception of China (of course) don't most of these nations have teacher's unions, support collective bargaining, and generally have the same type of unions that we have here in america?

Lazarus Lupin
http://strangespanner.blogspot.com/
art and Review

 
At 3/12/2011 11:44 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Lazarus Lupin, the top 50% of U.S. students lead the world and the bottom 50% lag badly.

Some teachers and unions are better than others (from one article cited above):

"If you look at the countries leading the pack in the tests that measure these skills (like Finland and Denmark), one thing stands out: they insist that their teachers come from the top one-third of their college graduating classes."

 
At 3/13/2011 12:40 AM, OpenID seanpatrickhazlett said...

This is sheer genius. I love it!

;-)

 
At 3/13/2011 4:42 AM, Blogger Hydra said...

Pt:

Give me a break. Star status means the NFL runs more on seniority and name recognition than skill.

How would you know if the best players play? There are no standard tests, and no minor league.

 
At 3/13/2011 5:01 AM, Blogger Hydra said...

Lets see.

The unions represent teachers in negotiating job conditions.

These low quality teachers are hired by school administrations accountable to the local school board.

The teachers have to contend with the administration, politicians, continuing education requirements, AWOL parents, and kids, who arrive with a chip on their shoulder, a boatload of emotional baggage, a video game, and the knowledge that while potential is unlimited the probability of success is small.

But the failure of more students to get into the top 5% is all the fault of the unions.

Is that what I'm hearing?

 
At 3/13/2011 5:08 AM, Blogger Hydra said...

Governor was complaining to a union boss that the boss made more money.

I know, the boss said, I didn't make this much when I was governor, either.

Union bosses get paid more, because they are more likely to be able to produce something valuable for their constituents, maybe?

Or maybe its like NFL, and only the best get the high paying jobs.

 
At 3/13/2011 5:16 AM, OpenID reflectionsofarationalrepublican.com said...

I loved this video so much, I decided to create my own:

http://reflectionsofarationalrepublican.com/2011/03/13/the-vast-right-wing-conspiracy/

 
At 3/13/2011 9:29 AM, Blogger bob wright said...

Apparently, all of this talk about teacher performance, graduation rates and the performance of U.S. students in comparison to students around the world, is just that, "TALK."

Obama and the Democrat party have forced the city of Dayton, OH to lower the testing standards for the police entrance exams for applicants who already took the exam and failed.

Also here.

Democrat party message to students: It doesn't matter how you do in school. If you don't pass the test, we'll change the rules so that whatever score you get is a passing grade.

Does the NFL ever change the rules after the game has been played so that the losing team wins and the winning team loses?

 
At 3/13/2011 10:04 AM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Hydra, maybe, that union boss is better at collecting union dues, giving campaign contributions to the "right" candidates, hiring lawyers when the "wrong" candidates win, or just better at stirring up trouble and confusion.

NFL owners have to acquire the best football players for their teams, after their college careers, to win games, which involves some risk. Also, scouts determine their abilities, along with their past performance.

Are you saying teaching is one of the toughest jobs out there?

 
At 3/13/2011 11:02 AM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"Is that what I'm hearing?"

No, it isn't.

 
At 3/13/2011 11:10 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

lazarus-

the US also has a much larger proportion of immigrants in its schools.

"A survey of state education agencies found that, in 2000-01, more than 4 million students with limited proficiency in English were enrolled in public schools across the nation, making up almost 10 percent of the total pre-K through 12th grade public school enrollment. According to that same report, the population of students who are English-language-learners has grown 105 percent, while the general school population has grown only 12 percent since the 1990-91 school year".

"Achievement data suggest that English-language learners lag far behind their peers. Nationwide, only seven percent of limited-English students scored "at or above proficient" in reading on the 2003 fourth grade National Assessment of Educational Progress, compared to about 30 percent of students overall. Results in fouth grade math, as well as eighth grade reading and math, were similar."

this has a huge effect on test scores.

demographically adjusted, US scores are actually quite good by world standards (and well ahead of the EU-15):

http://super-economy.blogspot.com/2010/12/amazing-truth-about-pisa-scores-usa.html

 
At 3/13/2011 11:18 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

of interest, note that finland tops the table. this is a huge result for the finns as they had a terrible system back in the 70's.

the reformed the bureaucratic apparatus around their schools, abolished the federal curriculum, and gave individual principals and teachers far more autonomy in teaching methods and hiring and firing decisions.

this led to raid and dramatic improvements.

you can see something similar in the US by examining the harlem children's zone project which turned some of the worst school in new york into some of the best.

"They found that the Harlem Children’s Zone schools produced “enormous” gains. The typical student entered the charter middle school, Promise Academy, in sixth grade and scored in the 39th percentile among New York City students in math. By the eighth grade, the typical student in the school was in the 74th percentile"

Forgive some academic jargon, but the most common education reform ideas — reducing class size, raising teacher pay, enrolling kids in Head Start — produce gains of about 0.1 or 0.2 or 0.3 standard deviations. If you study policy, those are the sorts of improvements you live with every day. Promise Academy produced gains of 1.3 and 1.4 standard deviations. That’s off the charts. In math, Promise Academy eliminated the achievement gap between its black students and the city average for white students.

and they did this while spending less money.

predictably, NYC teachers unions are doing everyhting they can to impugn, discredit, and suppress these results.

http://www.neaexposed.com/blog/?tag=harlem-school

i wonder if this has anything to do with the harlem school district firing many more teachers per year than the rest of NYC combined?

 
At 3/13/2011 11:29 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

hydra-

imagine the effect over time on a teacher population from union rules.

you can essentially never be fired for incompetence. you can almost never be paid more or promoted for good performance.

how could such a system do anything other than drive away the best and brightest who get frustrated and feel their skills and talents are not being rewarded while digging the less capable in as they rack up seniority?

no hiring process is perfect. let's assume the teachers hiring has results comparable to private industry (itself a VERY generous assumption).

every year, 10-15% of hires are not going to work out. but what can you do if you cannot fire them? these folks just linger taking up spots and teaching poorly. once they get seniority, they are virtually untouchable. at the same time, the dynamic teachers get bored and frustrated and leave.

paying by seniority instead of performance is a recipe for a workforce full of retreads, it can have virtually no other outcome barring wild assumptions about altruism, and given te4acher's union demands, i think we can pretty much exclude that from consideration.

 
At 3/13/2011 11:37 AM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Morganovich, the achievement gap may be even larger:

Hispanic students now majority in state’s public schools
November 13, 2010

New numbers released Friday by the state Department of Education shows that almost 50.4 percent of the state’s students in the 2009-10 school year identified themselves as Hispanic or Latino.

In comparison, 27 percent of California’s 6.2 million students identified themselves as white, 9 percent as Asian and 7 percent as black. Students calling themselves Filipino, Pacific Islander, Native American or other total almost 7 percent.

 
At 3/13/2011 11:40 AM, Blogger Ron H. said...

bob wright

"Obama and the Democrat party have forced the city of Dayton, OH to lower the testing standards for the police entrance exams for applicants who already took the exam and failed."

Sounds like a good reason not to live in Dayton. If anyone was undecided about moving to or from Dayton, this should help.

We don't know from these articles whether the desired demographic mix was obtained by lowering the test standards, but it would be interesting if there were still too few successful black applicants.

Is there anything even remotely possible, other than racial discrimination, that could account for the seemingly inadequate number of successful black applicants?

Another thought is that in these hard times, with government budget concerns on the front burner, perhaps some at DOJ are hoping to prove their worth, and keep their jobs.

 
At 3/13/2011 11:56 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

peak-

i think that data is just for california.

also note that not all "minority" students have issues with english. many are third+ generation americans.

they were slanting the UC tests against asians for a long time to keep them from being too large a % of the schools though this has ended).

it's not minorities that are the issue, it's 1st and second generation immigrants whose english is not up to the task.

it amazes me that there is so much resistance to putting such kids into a separate english intensive curriculum to get them up to speed. and then re-integrating them into the regular classroom.

as someone who has taken classes in languages other than english, i can tell you it's REALLY hard until you get caught up linguistically.

they are not doing these kids any favors dropping them into a class they cannot understated.

 
At 3/13/2011 12:05 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Morganovich, it seems, english proficiency is still a big problem in California:

Big lag in test scores for blacks, Hispanics
August 19, 2009

Statewide, only 37 percent of African American and Hispanic students were proficient or above in English - 31 points behind white students and 36 points behind Asian students.

"The lack of progress in truly closing these gaps is appalling," said Linda Murray, acting executive director of the Education Trust-West.

For years, even decades, educators and policymakers have vowed to conquer the achievement gap and they have spent billions of dollars trying to do so - money spent on class-size reduction, teacher training, summer school, after-school programs, mentoring, tutoring and technology, among a long spending list.

 
At 3/13/2011 12:27 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"For years, even decades, educators and policymakers have vowed to conquer the achievement gap and they have spent billions of dollars trying to do so - money spent on class-size reduction, teacher training, summer school, after-school programs, mentoring, tutoring and technology, among a long spending list."

Maybe none of these things have much influence on english proficiency. I wonder if educators and administrators have considered contacting the parents.

 
At 3/13/2011 12:34 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Ron, I'm sure they did, and discovered the parents need more teaching than their children :)

 
At 3/13/2011 12:54 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

morganovich

"it amazes me that there is so much resistance to putting such kids into a separate english intensive curriculum to get them up to speed. and then re-integrating them into the regular classroom."

Perhaps the resistance is due to reluctance on the part of taxpayers to pay the additional amounts this would cost, assuming you are talking about public schools.

Supplemental tutoring of students with limited proficiency in English at parents expense seems like a great solution.

 
At 3/13/2011 1:50 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"Give me a break. Star status means the NFL runs more on seniority and name recognition than skill."

Where to start?

Sports is the ONE activity in which talent and performance, and very little else, is of any use in judging an employees value to the business. Only sheer athletic ability matters.

You must be aware that professional sports teams are businesses. Like any other, they strive to maximize earnings, and must depend on accurate appraisals of each employees contribution to the bottom line. When a player is paid what seems like an enormous amount, it's because the business expects that player's contribution to increase the bottom line by more than the amount paid.

How do you think name recognition and "seniority" come about? It is by consistently being an outstanding player, and helping the team win games.

"How would you know if the best players play? There are no standard tests, and no minor league."

Actually there IS a standard test, and it is administered frequently during the playing season. It's known as "playing in the games".

We can't know if the best players play, but a team that doesn't make the best use of its valuable resources won't win as often, and may go out of business. This is no different than in any other business enterprise.

Think before you type.

 
At 3/13/2011 6:53 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

ron-

"Perhaps the resistance is due to reluctance on the part of taxpayers to pay the additional amounts this would cost, assuming you are talking about public schools."

that is not usually how the issue is argued. it is generally the minority activist groups and the progressive "everyone gets a prize day" crowd that claim that putting them on a separate track makes them "second class students", stigmatizes them, scars them for life, and shuts them out of the educational fast track.

many ESL classes have been shut down through civil rights groups.

rather than seeming to be taxpayers looking to avoid cost, most of this resistance seems to come from the folks who would benefit and the pushy "progressives" that love to scream "discrimination".

 
At 3/13/2011 6:59 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

the NFL runs on seniority?

what color is the sky on your world?

the average career of an NFL player is 3.5 years.

this is precisely because so few can keep up with the demands of the job and are let go for performance reasons.

the guys who do achieve "tenure" do so by consistently performing well. when they stop doing so, they get tossed. look at jerry rice and steve young.

i grant that the persistent presence of alex smith in the NFL is mystifying, but he also got very little playing time because there was someone better to take over.

a starting position in the NFL is one of the single most competitive jobs in the world.

to argue it is based on popularity and seniority is so wrongheaded that i have to believe you are just doggedly trying to argue your way out of your ridiculous initial statement.

 
At 3/13/2011 7:01 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

morganovich

"that is not usually how the issue is argued. it is generally the minority activist groups and the progressive "everyone gets a prize day" crowd that claim that putting them on a separate track makes them "second class students", stigmatizes them, scars them for life, and shuts them out of the educational fast track."

I agree. I had to chose between this argument and the taxpayer one. I flipped a coin, and the taxpayer argument won.

 
At 3/13/2011 10:54 PM, Blogger AIG said...

Of course assigning all the troubles of the education system in the US to Unions, is simplistic and only scratches the surface. Their activities, it might be said, are responsible because they promote the status quo (and increase cost)

Lazarus asks, don't other countries also have teacher's Unions? Of course they do. What most other countries which are doing better than us have, that we don't, is school choice. And thats probably the single biggest contributor to improving schools, ie allowing kids to get out of a terrible zone school. (in fact I can't think of any country I've been in which has a school system which operates on the bases of local monopolies, as in the US)

Second, the failure of the "US education system" isn't such a big problem, imho. It affects mainly the "lower classes", but for those who make it to college the system is far better than elsewhere. Not that that is not a problem, but lets focus on who is really affected here, and not on generalizing the system. If you live in a rich country, unions or no unions, local monopolies or not, you're going to be in a good school no matter what. But the effect of local monopolies kept alive by the Unions, is specifically to shut out lower classes and minorities from schools.

Third, as PeakTrader points out, in many of those countries which outperform the US at high school level or below, the teachers are usually the top and best performers of their graduating classes. In the US, from my experience of knowing too many young freshly-minted teachers, these people scare the c*** out of me with their ignorance. It makes me afraid to have children of my own some day.

But thats a double-edged sword. In Finland or Denmark, smart people become teachers because there is a lack of other opportunities. In the US, top performers are never going to become teachers (except university professors, but thats an entirely different animal). The private market has too many good opportunities for them. So maybe we don't want top performers, teaching kids how to spell abc or how to add to 10. Just as we don't need nannies to be electrical engineering graduates. We need people who have a passion for doing it, who actually DO it...and not an army of 23 year olds who decide to become teachers because, what else are they going to do with their sociology and english BAs?

 
At 3/14/2011 8:26 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

aig-

i think the evidence in the US also dramatically supports your thesis on school choice.

look at how unbelievably effective the DC voucher system was. (and how bitterly it was opposed by the teachers unions) before ultimately being wound down by obama on the thesis that the schools need the smart kids to stay and raise the level (while his girls go to sidwell).

imagine how bad many products would be if your whole town were only allowed to buy from one vendor and were taxed to pay for them whether they used them or not.

there is no reason to believe schools are any different.

the US spends $12,600 per pupil year. that's over $250k per class of 20. that is very nearly what i paid to go to one of the best boarding schools in the US (albeit in 1990). many private day schools cost considerably less. there is simply no way this is not enough money if spent even rudimentary well, especially as most public schools don't even pay rent.

each kid gets money to spend on the school of their choice and the ability to go anywhere that will take them. schools can teach, hire, and fire as they choose. you'd have this mess straightened out in short order.

 

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