In a response to one of my earlier blog posts, a reader wondered whether teacher compensation was out-of-line with the private sector. The reader’s query was a good one and likely shared by many others, judging from recent media reports.
In an effort to provide some informed perspective, I have prepared a short analysis of teacher compensation in Oregon which can be found here. Based on my experience, the picture I paint is pretty typical for teachers in our state, though there is substantial variation from school district to school district due to our long tradition of local control and independently negotiated employment agreements.
In preparing my analysis I had several goals: (1) defining the occupational status of teaching, (2) framing compensation in the context of the teacher workplace, (3) clearly describing the various elements of teacher compensation, (4) identifying the relevant private sector peer group, (5) clarifying the scope of compensation in both the public education and private sector worlds, and (6) drawing meaningful compensation distinctions and comparisons.
While the current economic downturn has increased attention on public sector compensation issues generally, teacher pay in particular, continues to generate perennial debate. I hope that the information I have provided will facilitate this discussion.
Our overarching goal to raise student achievement cannot be fully met without attention to teacher compensation issues.
Read the short analysis.
Last week I had the pleasure of attending the annual SxSW (South by Southwest) conference in Austin, TX – “Interactive” track. As happens after all great conferences, my head is still swimming with the energy of great ideas.
If I had to condense the learnings of the conference into one main idea, it was this: Game mechanics are changing our world. It has already started, and will continue to accelerate. This is true in education, as well. There were about a half-dozen panels and speaker sessions dedicated to education at this year’s conference. Some of them investigated the evolving relationship between technology and education, but many mentioned gaming & game theory as central to the way education should be redefined. Most of the sessions that focused specifically on game theory mentioned education as an obvious arena in which these learnings should be applied.
One of the most influential speakers of the week was Jane McGonigal. She has been speaking for years about gaming and its power for intellectual inquiry and social good, but now even slow-adopters like me are finally listening.
“…those who continue to dismiss games will be at a major disadvantage in the coming years. Gamers, on the other hand, will be able to leverage the collaborative and motivational power of games in their own lives, communities, and businesses.”
- Reality is Broken
Where are the candidates? In Multnomah County in the upcoming May election there are 25 school board positions up for election. As of less than one week before filing deadline, in 15 of those races there are either zero or one candidates for the open seat! Now, not ever having been a school board member, my impression is that this is one of the most difficult and often thankless jobs out there. Everyone cares about education and many people think they know why things aren’t as good as we as our community would hope them to be. That said, school board members are exceptionally important decision-makers and leaders for our kids, schools, and communities.
Not only is the position hard, but elections are expensive – so we should be happy to have one candidate and then not have to endure a heated and costly election, right? I know some of the folks running for the open seats. I can’t imagine they’ll be too happy to have me encourage competition, but we need the dialog. Our schools are underfunded and are facing difficult and momentous decisions that directly affect our kids and communities. We need to have meaningful discourse about our schools, who will lead them, and how we will focus our resources to be most effective.
There are no open school board seats in my zone, so I can safely write this from the sidelines.
- Should we, as a community, have a discussion about the job of school board? Should we change these positions to be a paid job, much like a city council person, rather than a volunteer?
- Socio-economically, how would anyone ever be able to consider being on the school board if they have one or more jobs or an employer who won’t give them the flexibility to volunteer for another full time job?
- When we talk about equity in our schools, it seems fundamentally flawed to have a leadership system that for all intents and purposes excludes so many of the people who care so deeply about our schools.
Chalkboard is excited to introduce Eva Bogue as the newest member of our blogging team. Eva is an educational leader/consultant with a wide range of experiences in both the public and private sectors of education in Oregon and Hawaii. For example, she has been a classroom teacher for 18 years and was the principal of Riverdale School (K-8) in Portland. Eva has also worked with Employers for Educational Excellence– Oregon Small Schools Initiative (E3-OSSI) and worked in small schools at South Medford High School and Crater High School.
The “Promising Practices in Accountability” report states that an essential driver of change can be making performance and results matter in schools. I agree! How refreshing! Making performance and results matter happens when they become personalized. They matter when they become part of the way teachers and students interrelate on a regular basis.
Personalizing schools is not a new idea. It happens when expectations are clear and students are included in knowing how well they are meeting those expectations. All forms of data “come alive” when teachers and students utilize and care about the results.
Personalized learning can be seen more clearly in schools that have been given the gift of “small”. This can mean small schools or small learning communities, or other structures that have been rearranged to provide time for leaders, teachers and students to share results. It means “looking at student work” through collaborative lenses. It means students, teachers, leaders, and parents knowing from where each and all students have come and where they are headed in progressing through all areas of the curriculum. Most importantly, if we want students to be “college and career ready”, they must be able to know and own their continuum of performance results.
The efficient use of time is critical to meaningfully utilize data and results of learning. This happens when teachers are provided leadership opportunities to meet in collaborative smaller groups (professional learning communities) to view results and design ways to improve student success. It happens when lessons are designed to engage all students in the learning and are given consistent feedback on progress. It happens when teachers observe in each other’s classrooms and reflect together on the student learning in process. All results can lead to next questions, “What else? Now what?” Using learning results with students in daily and on a regular basis allows students to set and realize high expectations. It is personalized attention! (more…)
Eliz Roser a MSW student at Portland State University. Before entering the MSW program, Eliz taught 2nd grade in East Oakland, worked as an Area Executive Director for an educational company developing and implementing after school programs for students at low income and low performing schools in the Bay Area. She has also worked as a Program Manager for Girls Inc. of Alameda County, managing after school programs for girls in Oakland that promote self-esteem, STEM, healthy living, and academic achievement. Eliz’s areas of interest include anti-racist educational reform, non-profit development and management, and community outreach through schools.
Let’s get something straight. When we, the people who love to talk about education reform, are talking about educational equity and the achievement gap, we are talking about race and racism. School districts nationwide see glaring academic gaps between white students and students of color. From disparities in education funding to disproportionate numbers of students of color in disciplinary programs and Special Education, to the scarcity of authors of color in language arts curricula, public schools are entrenched in institutional racism.
Racism is a scary word for white people to say. It can be very hurtful to be called a racist, and talking about race opens us up to saying something that might be offensive to someone. When I first started thinking about my own white privilege, and the ways in which I have benefited in my life based on the color of my skin, I was embarrassed and ashamed. It’s uncomfortable for me because when I think about it, I know that I say and do things that are unintentionally racist all the time. I experience power and privilege that is immeasurable based on the color of my skin. I didn’t earn my privilege as a white person, but I have certainly benefited from it.
But the thing is, my discomfort with talking about race and admitting racism is nothing compared with what communities of color face on a daily basis. Because I am not personally subjected to racism, it is easier for me to take a stand against it. I have nothing to lose. As someone who is white, I have a personal responsibility to action. (more…)
Kate Dickson is the former Vice President for Education Policy at the Chalkboard Project. Prior to serving at Chalkboard, Kate was a respected school and district leader in Oregon, serving in West-Linn and as the Deputy Superintendent for the Oregon Department of Education.
A few weeks ago, members of the Chalkboard Board of Directors had an opportunity to meet with Linda Darling-Hammond, Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education at Stanford University. During the conversation, Dr. Hammond provided an overview of the current state of teacher preparation and highlighted strategies for improving the quality of preparation programs.
Dr. Hammond made many salient points about the need for high quality teacher preparation, including:
1. Strategies for transform teacher education programs and practice that include: a cohesive and clear vision of good teaching; well defined standards and practice of performance; a core curriculum; inquiry and problem based teaching methods, and a 30+ week practicum experience.
2. Develop and enforce accountability:
-Currently schools of education are not required to be nationally certified. Until teacher preparation programs are all required to meet high standards, sub-par programs will continue to graduate under-prepared students.
3. Provide universal access to quality preparation and conditions of practice: In the top performing education systems, teacher preparation is subsidized and well-qualified candidates are supported through their programs. Teacher preparation programs are able to recruit diverse candidates to the field when the financial burden of a program is substantially lowered.
It was a lively conversation and the board members in attendance left interested in exploring ways to connect high-quality teacher preparation to the work of the CLASS Project in support of placing highly effective teachers in Oregon classrooms.
We are very grateful to Dr. Hammond for sharing her expertise and her infectious passion for improving teacher training.
You can view the Powerpoint Presentation that Linda Darling Hammond used during her discussion here:
Equity is the new buzzword that pops up in every other article on PPS these days. My simplistic understanding is that “Equity” means social engineering, bussing, gerrymandered district borders, so that rich kids and poor kids will be forced to go to school together.
I get asked not infrequently what would make me send my kids to Public School. Let me tell you one thing that will NOT make me come to PPS: “Equity.” Better academics? Yes. High-quality teachers, world-class facilities? Yes. Small schools with small classes and a gentle, loving, community environment? YES. “Equity”? No, not really on my agenda. Am I supposed to feel Guilt about that statement? Maybe. I’ll leave that to my mother.
I’m just being painfully honest here. Do I believe in Equity as a concept? Sure, sounds great. Am I going to enthusiastically send my child to a school with reduced academic standards (cookie-cutter schools won’t have enough money for full AP course offerings), and a cultural environment that I don’t love? (Again, being painfully blunt: if your mother didn’t go to college, you probably have speech & behavior patterns that I don’t want my child to learn, because it will not benefit him in life.) Answer: No.