My Beef with Teachers

Discussion in 'Education' started by Hysteresis, Sep 7, 2011.

  1. Hysteresis
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    Hysteresis Rookie

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    Hello all. This is my very post to this board, so I decided to talk about something that I'm rather passionate about lately... I grew up in a working class NJ town and a few of the kids who I went to high school with have gone on to become teachers (I'm only 24, so they're all new to the Profession). I've always been of the belief that good teachers should be well compensated. I've had a few influential teachers in my day, but for every influential one I would say that there was one who was completely dead weight and nothing but a waste of tax payer money. All of the teachers who I had in high school 6 years ago who I would label "A waste of tax payer money," are still there and still "teaching." I digress.

    I'm basing my beefs with the profession based on personal experience and on debates I've read over the internet between educators and between people who tend to lean Right. My main issues with the teaching profession are as follows:

    1. In these debates teachers never seem to grasp the concept of Supply and Demand. Their argument for why they should be paid better almost always boils down to "We deserve it." Teachers almost always seem to argue this point emotionally and never logically. They always try to revolve their argument for higher pay around how noble their job is. How they're making a difference and how everyone at some point had a teacher who inspired them. It never seems to cross their minds that education majors are a dime a dozen. How revered and how well intentioned your job is has zero positive impact on your salary. You and everyone else on Earth are paid according to the LAWS of Supply and Demand. You are paid based on the rarity of your skill. If a lot of people are willing to and are capable of doing your job then you're not going to be well compensated. There are more people capable of leading an 8th grade classroom than there are who are capable of performing open heart surgery, hence doctors are better compensated. There are more people who are capable of teaching 10th grade English than there are who are capable of designing a jet engine, hence why engineers are better compensated. I remember reading the "Wealth of Nations" by Adam Smith and I remember him talking about how the town executioner in medieval England was one of the highest paid people because his job was so taboo and because very few people were willing to do that. I suppose the modern day equivalent of that would be stripping, which is also a highly paid profession.

    2. It's incredibly rude and obnoxious to always tell people that you work harder than them. Anytime I see a news article related to teacher's pay -- the comments section will be flooded with, "You have no clue how hard we have it, you try getting a classroom filled with 12 year olds to pay attention. We grade papers and do lesson plans at all hours of the night etc etc." No reasonable person will say that you have an easy job. I'm sure your job is difficult. It is just beyond arrogant to consistently tell people that "your job is harder," and that is the crux of so much of your rhetoric. Every single field on the planet thinks that their career is harder than every other. You guys aren't the only ones who work weekends or late into the night -- yet you act like you are. A high school math teacher friend of mine once put a status on Facebook that read something like, "Somewhere a teacher right now is toiling all hours of the night grading papers for your children while you're at home texting and watching TV..." I pointed out to her how rude it was to assume that every non-teacher is just sitting at home doing frivolous and trivial things like "texting and watching TV" and that started a huge debate with a few other teacher friends of her chiming in on how disrespected their occupation is.

    3. Which brings me to item 3 -- even neutral comments are interpreted by teachers as an attack. You guys have such a victim mentality that it's sickening. Using my example above, I made the simple comment, "Other occupations work more than 40 hours a week too" and that sparked a huge, "You have no clue how hard we have it" attack. If someone doesn't pretty much say, "You guys have the hardest job on earth, you're the pillars of a civilized society, you have the most important job alive and you all deserve a 6 Figure income" you guys view that person as anti-teacher. That victim mentality really needs to stop.

    4. There was recently an article on Yahoo News about how teachers should be paid as well as engineers and the pro-teacher comments under the article overwhelmingly read, "We should be paid better than engineers! Who do you think taught the engineers how to be engineers!" You didn't teach the engineers how to be engineers, Engineering Professors did who are almost guaranteed to be engineers themselves. Some teachers out there taught the engineers the basics of education when they were adolescents. I just dislike this argument that teachers are the foundation of all occupations. How do you think those teachers got to work everyday? Roads, which were designed and built by engineers. They showed up to a building that was designed and built by engineers. They probably drove a car that was designed by well you get the point. How about that food that you ate in the morning? That probably came from farmers and butchers and went through a whole slew of other occupations. No occupation on this planet would exist without some other occupation. Does Arod's Little League Coach deserve a higher salary than Arod because he taught him how to hold a bat? It's just such flawed and ridiculous logic and it consistently comes up when debating with teachers.

    5. I hate when somebody points out to teachers that they get the summer off and they respond, "We hardly get any time off with all of the workshops and lesson plans etc." I'm not a teacher, but I highly doubt you guys spend more of your summer time working on your teaching job than you do not working. But, teachers almost always still take this as an affront and someone inevitability responds, "Well, if you do the math we don't actually get that much time off. The standard job gets weekends and 3 weeks vacation so we really only get an extra 52 days off." You guys pretend like an extra 52 days off is a trivial amount. THAT'S HUGE. That's almost an entire 2 months! That's also a best case scenario that teachers throw out there that doesn't count things like half days.

    6. Your job accountability is ridiculously low and I really view this as one of the critical issues facing the US. I can recount 2 stories from personal experience. When I was in high school I had a typing teacher (who I later found out made over 100K a year. He coached 3 sports -- all equally poorly -- and it's NJ and he was there for over 30 years), who didn't even know how to type himself. He admitted in class one day that he can only type 30 something words per minute, which I can do "hunting and pecking." I took his class when I was a freshman and at the time I could type 75WPM. He didn't grade any papers either. He would give us a workbook, tell to open up Word, and give us 2 minutes to type as much as we could. Then he would have use the word count feature on the honor system and have us divide by time. He would have the person next to us grade for errors. He could have been replaced by Mavis Beacon and proctor and that would have gotten better results.
    I had an "AP Government" teacher my senior year who literally never taught a single class. He treated the course like a study hall and we would just sit there and chat with each other the entire time. The class got bored, so he allowed us to watch a movie on the condition that it had to be "history based because we were a part of the history department." We wound up watching Forest Gump. He was too lazy to change the movie after we were done watching it, so we literally wound up watching Forest Gump close to 10 times. At the end of the year he gave everyone A's so that no one would snitch on him. Both of these teachers are still teaching at the same exact school in NJ 6 years later.

    To conclude, I understand that you have a hard job, but salary is based on Supply and Demand -- not how important your job is. It's arrogant and obnoxious to act like you're the only ones working more than 40 hours a week and it's beyond rude to tell people that they don't work as hard as you. Most importantly, there needs to be better mechanisms in place to weed out the poor teachers.
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2011
  2. Moonglow
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    Moonglow Diamond Member

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    what is your pork with teachers?
     
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  3. Iridescence
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    Iridescence BANNED

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    Public Education, though a great savior to many should NOT be mandatory, IMO.

    Teachers should provide the safest environment possible and give the best leads to an individual child's potential, however, classes are multiplied and teachers are outnumbered and out-resourced. Most teachers may be worth their pay but the sad fact is... that some are not. They cannot necessarily be held accountable for low test scores, yet this also means they cannot boast or be given incentives for higher test scores.

    It is a beast that as a parent I would like to see minimized. Parents and families should be allowed to develop better roots and foundations without the interference of red tape and politics. More and more... our educational system is about money and politics and less about our children as time passes. It may not have started out that way, but it has become more 'that way' than not. The worst thing to happen to our educational system may be the Health and Human Resources Agencies. Understood... Most people, especially most 'educated' people may not agree with this at all, however, back in the day... when my first grade teacher could physically reprimand the intentionally disobedient ones the rest of us fell in line without qualms. See that today and the police would haul the lady off to prison.

    Go figure... if only we could be as equipped as Einstein...
     
  4. chanel
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    chanel Silver Member

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    In 1986 I was making 32K as an executive secretary. Ten years later, I became a teacher for 32K. It was far less than I would have made in the private sector, but the benefits and job security was more important at that time in my life. The arguments that teachers are paid too little or too much is entirely subjective. Supply and demand does not apply in the public sector. Most teachers are paid a middle class wage that is prevailing in their communities. That's why teachers in Bergen Co. are paid more than those in Cumberland. Cost of living is also a factor. The argument today, is "how much less they will take?" For me, it will be almost 5K next year. For my brother in Cherry Hill, close to 8K.

    Secondly - the arguments about "hours worked" are generally a rebuttal to accusations that it's a "part time job". Summer vacation envy often causes irrational debates over compensation. NJ, in particular, will not be going year round anytime in the near future. That's not a local union issue - it's a state mandate. Much of our economy depends on summer tourism, so it's not going away. Take it up with the state.

    But you make a good point about the "cool teachers" that show movies and inflate grades. They make the professionals' jobs even harder. Parents don't complain about A's. They complain about D's and F's. But that is a systemic problem that needs to be addressed by principals. Unfortunately, many principals love the teachers who get no complaints. It's not the fellow teachers' jobs to rat those teachers out. It's the boss's job to know who is producing. Take it up with them.

    Tenure does protect "bad teachers", but most of them never should have gotten tenure in the first place. Maybe that's where some reform should take place.

    NJ public schools are amongst the best in the nation. The whole teacher bashing movement was instigated by the governor who has a huge pension problem to fix, and a personal vendetta against the NJEA. Are you aware that our state pension fund was STOLEN? That's not Christie's fault, but it's not the teachers either.

    Do you mind me asking where you went to HS?
     
  5. Hysteresis
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    Hysteresis Rookie

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    Chanel:

    I know that supply and demand doesn't apply in the private sector, but I still do view it as the fairest and most appropriate way to say "How much should a certain career get paid?" If the public school system is ever privatized, that would be one the things that I would find most interesting.

    I would be glad to tell you where I went to high school through a private message. Not sure how to use that yet though. It was a Bergen County school system.

    My real grievance is that there is no accountability. Those two teachers who I referenced are still there.

    You know what I found fascinating? There are ratemyprofessor-esque websites for high school teachers now and I looked up my old high school just out of curiosity. The sample sizes weren't huge, but the criticisms of the teachers that I had 6 years ago were reflected in the comments on the teachers that are still teaching today. They have a rating system where you can rate a teacher 1-5 with 5 being the best, and the teachers who I remembered as being 5's were 5's. The teachers who I remembered being 1's and 2's were 1's and 2's.

    I think part of the issue is that whenever you bring up job evaluation teachers go, "Standardized Test Scores don't tell you anything, poor neighborhoods are naturally going to have lower scores because of a lack of emphasis on education by the parents," and they sort of just throw up their hands and say that it's impossible to measure their performance. My rebuttal to that would be, "Do you evaluate a baseball player purely based on his batting average?" Of course you don't. There's never a single tell-all statistic. Combine standardized test scores with student evaluations. Have peer reviews. Find ways to quantify their job and measure separate statistics. It's possible, but from what I hear the Teacher's Union is always against any sort of change on this front. "Student evaluations! Then some kid with a vendetta will just give us bad reviews in retribution!" That's such a cynical viewpoint. Maybe one out of 50 kids will do that (supposedly because they don't like you because you're too tough). From my experience with these sites, the kid's reviews are pretty honest and pretty dead on. Remove the outliers from the data.

    I could walk into my old high school today and tell them which teachers are great, and which are dead weight. It's not a mystery and I suspect that most of the school also knows it. The problem is that the Teacher's Union wants a Court Case filled with evidence in order to fire a teacher and the result is that you get these losers who stay in the job or 30 years and literally ruin lives. Good teachers have the power to transform lives and bad teachers have the ability to destroy them. I think that's what the reasonable people on the Right want -- a system of accountability so that futures aren't wasted.
     
  6. chanel
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    chanel Silver Member

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    You make some excellent points. My guess is that you got a pretty dang good education, despite a few bad apples.

    Here's my beef with testing: the cost. Period. As you know right now, state tests are only required in 4th, 8th, and 11th grade. And there is no "pre-test" to measure growth. They only assess language, math and science. There are no "special tests" to assess special education students, most of whom are 2 or more years below grade level. A fair test would be administered at least twice a year, in every subject, at every grade level, aligned with the student's starting point. Is it impossible? No. Is it feasible in this economy? No. If it's going to be done, it needs to be done right. And we all know that it will take years to perfect, and billions to administer, and by then they will come up with a "better plan".

    Principals need to be more visible and vocal. They need to be good managers, just like in the private sector. If they see a teacher showing movies every day, they need to tell them "it's not ok". Saying tenure protects them is a cop-out. A kick in the ass can be very effective.
     

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