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teacher compensation ’ Category
The pinch in the state budget has made the teaching profession the subject of much criticism. I often hear about how my benefits, pay, and retirement are devastating state services. Recently, someone in business asked me if I was a Tier 1 PERS employee. She said she could ask me that because I “worked for her.” She also mentioned that I needed to realize that my summer vacation and my 8-3 job are courtesy of all the hard workers in the private sector. Ouch! I thought, if someone is willing to say that to my face, many others are probably thinking it.
I think this attitude is a product of the fact that many people think they know what a teacher does all day. After all, everyone went to school, many have kids in school and some even volunteer in schools. Some vocations are veiled in mystery. What is a day in the life of a market analyst like? What does an investment banker do? The mystique often seems to deflect questions about huge pay, bonuses and tax breaks. We all know what teachers do, and because it seems so straightforward, the profession is an easy target for those who think educators are overcompensated. (more…)
This article was originally published in the Statesman Journal on April 14, 2012 and can be found here.
Changing the way teachers are paid is a controversial topic. There are a number of reasons for this, but two are primary.
First, the status quo — pay based on years of experience and educational attainment — has existed longer than almost all current educators in the United States have been employed. Second, any suggested change has to be perceived as “fairer” than the current system.
This is not the kind of issue an independent, nonprofit organization takes up lightly, but the Chalkboard Project sees a need not being addressed. In most Oregon school districts, 70 percent to 80 percent of the budget goes toward personnel — the costs associated with the people in the building. (more…)
“The essential question is not, ‘How busy are you?’ but ‘What are you busy at?’”
It’s probably safe to say that public education professionals in Oregon have never been so busy. They have larger class sizes, fewer staff to do more work due to budget cuts, a need to invest time in professional development to keep pace with changing technology in the field, and strong pressure to adopt fundamental changes to boost student achievement.
In a word, they are being expected to continuously improve at a time of historic cutbacks in education funding.
Needless to say, these are challenging times. But with the third year of Sisters School District’s CLASS grant under way, a significant culture change is evident. Teachers are operating less in silos, and collaborating across grades and school levels to close gaps in student knowledge. They are more open to being mentored and evaluated by peers, and see these evaluations as valuable tools for improving their instructional practices. Student achievement data is posted prominently in the District office and in all teacher lounges, and helps shape what goes on in classrooms.
Originally a part of the New Teacher Center’s November Policy E-Newsletter, the following commentary is from Liam Goldrick, the Director of Policy at NTC. Archived newsletters can be found here.
Liam Goldrick joined the New Teacher Center as director of policy in June 2006. In that role, Liam leads a range of initiatives designed to accelerate new teacher effectiveness and strengthen the quality of new educator induction and mentoring policies at the federal and state levels. Prior to joining the NTC, Liam served as education policy advisor to Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle and as a senior policy analyst in the Education Division at the National Governors Association in Washington, DC.
|Last week I attended a provocative event hosted by the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE) in Washington, DC. It featured Tom Friedman (New York Times columnist and co-author of the new book, That Used To Be Us: How America Fell Behind In the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back) and Marc Tucker (President and CEO of NCEE and author of Surpassing Shanghai: An American Education Agenda Built on the World’s Leading Systems, released on November 10).In his book, Surpassing Shanghai, Tucker examines the educational policies and practices of five high-performing nations (Canada, China (Shanghai), Finland, Japan and Singapore), explores how they contribute to those countries’ successes, and defines commonalities among them from which the United States can learn. A focus on attracting, developing, supporting and rewarding quality teaching looms large.
I had lunch recently with an American friend working in Singapore. I explained to him how I conduct an international trade simulation with my economics students, and in the simulation, Singapore is one of the economic powerhouses. I asked him about the Singapore government, and whether it helps or hinders economic growth in that city-state.
He replied that government is one of Singapore’s strengths. How do they do it, I asked, when in much of the world government is viewed, at worst, as helplessly corrupt, and at best, inept.
It’s simple, he said. The Singapore government pulls the best and brightest from their high schools, sends them all over the world for top-notch higher education, then obligates them to serve in the government in exchange for the education, albeit with handsome salaries and benefits. The education, he explained, is to keep candidates beholden to the state, while the salaries are to keep them content and above reproach. The result, he suggested, is one of the most efficient and effective governments in the world.
Interesting model. Why not apply it to education?
While my posts over the last couple weeks have only engaged a portion of the education reform program that Marc Tucker suggests in “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants,” I nevertheless hope that more of you take the opportunity to tackle the text on your own. When I finished reading the entire report (online here), I was part enthralled and part enraged by what he was intimating.
On the one hand, I share Tucker’s passion for wanting to make our system stronger—and I was captivated by the daring he suggest in attempting to reboot the system. At the same time, my enthusiasm was tempered at points by his comparisons, as I believe at times he simplified the reasons that other national systems are so successful, and that we cannot—mainly because of politics—adopt the reforms he suggests (to be fair, my dismay there is partly directed at those who would rather remain fighting than moving toward a real solution). Nevertheless, in recognizing my ambivalent feelings, I realized that Tucker’s plan may ultimately be what the American public needs as a blueprint for true educational reform.
What I have found empowering about Tucker’s approach is that it contains elements that both reassure and challenge any group involved in American education.
Marc Tucker, in his recent report, “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants” made some strident observations about education reform in the United States, and after spending some time with it, I’d like to explore some of his proposals over the next few blog posts.
For those who haven’t had the opportunity to read the entire report, the Chalkboard team offered a summary in their recent Research Update. In short, Tucker is the head of the National Center on Education and the Economy, and crafted this report after a summit of various education ministers from around the globe. Commissioned by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, the summit sought to investigate what the “best” nations were doing well in order to learn how to improve our beleaguered education system in the U.S.
This particular document drew some interesting conclusions—in fact, I found myself startled at some of Tucker’s claims. One was the ineffectiveness of charter schools as a means of true reform. Tucker feels that the gains made by charters are too sporadic and, ultimately, these schools are more prone to fail than succeed. I appreciated the insight since two of my children are educated in Portland charter schools.
The latest federal data show what parents who care about education in our state already know: Oregon is underfunding public schools compared to the rest of the nation, by a significant seven percent.
Combine this with a lingering, abysmal economy that is creating desperate circumstances for many, untenable PERS retirement benefits, and falling tax rates—Americans are paying the lowest tax rates since 1950—and here’s what it looks like on the ground in our schools.
Fields of study that provide the skills students need for 21st century jobs are being eliminated, and teachers of that coursework let go, meaning it will take years to restore them, if stable funding is ever restored. Given the last hired, first fired logic of our system, talented young teachers are reading the tea leaves and getting out of the education profession. “Non-essentials”—things we used to take for granted such as school sports, art, music, foreign language, vocational classes—are becoming dependent on private funds or going the way of the dodo.
Source of table at right: USA Today, 5/12/2010
At Summit High School in Bend, a seven-period schedule is being considered, up from a block schedule with four daily periods. Teachers who taught six out of eight periods this past year would now teach six out of seven, reducing their prep time while their work loads increase. Due to layoffs, one high school math teacher will be teaching four separate subjects—calculus, contextual geometry, financial algebra and Math 1—in six classes with roughly 210 students. A science teacher will be loaded up with an electronics section, two biology courses, and three physics sections, including an AP course.
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.
Originally published in the Oregonian, as “How about some straight talk about fiscal crisis?”
This past election I received 146 political mailings. They contained hundreds of promises, including vows to support businesses and seniors, improve healthcare and education, and reduce taxes and regulations. Beautiful promises all. But not one of the promises was to cut public programs or raise taxes. Troubling, since state and national fiscal crises suggest we must do both.
My economics students understand this. This fall we watched “I.O.U.S.A.,” which revealed that federal debt swelled to $12.7 trillion in 2009. Bad news, considering we have not budgeted for the additional $46 trillion Social Security and Medicare will cost over the coming decades.
My government students understand as well. A state senator visited with us recently and said Oregon must cut over $3 billion from a $15 billion budget over the next two years, about 20%.
Our national leaders understand, too, but sadly, they’re unwilling to admit it. This month our president and Congress turned their backs on the recommendations of the deficit reduction commission, then declared victory as they extended expiring tax cuts and heaped another $850 billion onto our mountain of national debt.
Why won’t they confront reality? Is it because we aren’t willing to? Consider Oregon. About 93% of our discretionary budget is spent on education, human services and public safety, so cutting 20% means cutting vital services. And in education, where about 85% of spending goes to wages and benefits, that means cutting people. But public servants are quick to react against this, understandably so. (more…)