May 1, 2011

What's keeping young people from going into teaching? The salary?

An op-ed in the NYT argues for higher salaries for teachers:
McKinsey polled 900 top-tier American college students and found that 68 percent would consider teaching if salaries started at $65,000 and rose to a minimum of $150,000.
What percent of young Americans would consider teaching if they knew they had an excellent chance of finding a job as teacher when they graduated?

127 comments:

AllenS said...

Scott Walker?

hoyden said...

This might make sense if teacher salary was related to performance instead of seniority and tenure, the union and special perks were eliminated.

rhhardin said...

Supply and demand pretty much takes care of things, if you let it operate.

Then market salary is whatever it needs to come out.

That in turn guarantees that talent isn't wasted to the economy.

You don't want the best possible teachers. That pulls them from more important jobs.

The classic example is that the econ department chairman sends his secretary to deliver papers to the dean even though he walks faster than his secretary.

His secretary has what's called a comparative advantage in walking.

The econ chairman is reserved for a more important job even though he's better than his secretary at walking.

Likewise the best teachers are likely to also be the best something else, and something else is more important.

Market wages sort all this out. You get the best fit of people to teaching and the best fit of even better teachers to something else.

Overpaying teachers is as bad as underpaying them.

Bob said...

> What's keeping young people from going into teaching?

Maybe the fact that 50 people apply for every entry level position?

Ann Althouse said...

@rh How can you get a free market when the kids are *compelled* to attend school? They don't get to choose the product they want. It's inflicted on them.

Michael said...

Starting teachers should get lots more and long term teachers probably a lot less. Have a look at where most of the per pupil money goes and you will be sickened by the small percentage that goes to tecahers in general.

It would be an excellent first job for many graduates but there is one rather large problem: certification. Most thinking students do not want a bullshit Education degree and thus, regardless of desire and ability, are not eligible to teach. Ditto for those able retired people who would teach for a pittance given the chance. Wonder why those things are as they are?

Bartender Cabbie said...

There is a good deal of bullshit in teaching. Let a teacher teach and more would get into the profession and stay.

Atom Kid said...

For me, it was the politics. I don't like conforming to group think and I don't want to teach group think.

Calypso Facto said...

Leave it to the NYT to recommend paying more for something we already have a surplus of...

Pogo said...

rhhardin is correct.

Young people have learned that union rules mean the job of teaching in public schools is rigged against them, a fact undiscovered by many until they try to get a job.
But the reputation of corruption has become widely known,

1) the best jobs in the cities they want to live in are controlled by politics
2) so they get the dregs
3) the edu degree is known to be worthless in content, merely a public school credential that prepares you for nothing, except that edu fads will buffet you like waves
4) teaching jobs in math and science or foreign language are not given to people learned in those subjects, but to the connected.
5) Public school teachers are vastly overpaid already. The job currently attracts those who know that the job is corrupt, and are willing to take worthless college courses and pay their dues in Gramsci Grade School in rural Squat and Pee, MN, and vote Democrat the rest of their lives.

Jason (the commenter) said...

That op-ed doesn't make any sense at all!

First it tells us not to blame the teachers for poor results, because teachers have little influence over how the teaching is done. Then it tells us that to improve schools we must pay teachers a lot more money. Huh? If teachers really have little influence on educational outcomes we should slash teacher salaries, probably even lower the education requirements to become a teacher, and focus our resources on school regulations and administration.

Are experienced teachers retiring? Who cares! According to this op-ed it's not their faults when students have bad test scores, so it can't possibly make any difference who does the teaching.

Michael said...

My sister taught for a few years after graduating from college. (Now she owns a bookstore, which is sadly probably another short-lived vocation.) She stopped teaching because of the futility: No matter how hard she tried, most of her students did not care about learning, and they moved on to other teachers after the academic year was over. The fact that many of her fellow teachers were jobsworths didn't help anything except her later appreciation of Ayn Rand's writing...

Pogo said...

"How can you get a free market"
Vouchers, and open admission, including to private schools.

And abolish public school unions.

The teaching salry would probably fall in some schools, rise in others.

GulfofMexico said...

What percent of young Americans would consider teaching if they knew they had an excellent chance of finding a job ... and once they found that job, they had the opportunity to earn more money based on merit (and not senority)?

rhhardin said...

@ann The free market would be voters' choice of what they spend on education versus other things. The union response is to keep education poor enough so that the voters always hope more money will help.

Actual market price sorts all this out so that everybody gets what they prefer, in education versus something else more important.

Not every parent has the same preferences, either.

Not anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Freeman Hunt said...

What percentage would go into teaching if pay were merit-based?

What percentage would go into teaching if there were universal vouchers, and they knew they would be working in an environment more like the private sector and less like a government bureaucracy?

Paco Wové said...

I'm sure there are lots of careers that people would consider if you guaranteed them jobs and paid them lots of money. Quelle suprise!

...Hey! You pulled a bait-and-switch, Althouse. Your title appears to be a direct quote from the article, when in fact it seems to be no such thing. Bad blogger! Bad!

You're implying the article is about an impending lack of teachers because of a lack of interest by the young -- but the article says no such thing. It's really saying "we should pay our teachers lots of money, like some other countries do, because obviously our situations and teachers are just like those situations and teachers in those other countries!"

GulfofMexico said...

"senority" --> "seniority"

Jeez. Building credibility when writing about education is most effective when you misspell.

Paco Wové said...

"For those who say, 'How do we pay for this?' — well, how are we paying for three concurrent wars? [...] Or the bailout of the savings and loans in 1989 and that of the investment banks in 2008?"

In other words, by destroying the dollar and bankrupting the country. I see they've thought this one out thoroughly.

Quayle said...

The degree and certification requirements are artificial barriers to entry that the teachers have erected to keep their jobs safer.

The crap certified teacher of math is given an advantage over the mechanical engineer that is a great teacher of math.

My guess is that we could staff our schools for free with volunteer teachers, if the retired mechanical engineer could come in for one class a day without needed the certificate.

Freeman Hunt said...

If they switched to vouchers and merit pay, I would consider becoming a math teacher later in life.

You'll have to make your own determination on whether or not that would be good or bad for the students.

Lots of people find the government sector repellent with its gray, bureaucratic slowness and sameness. Many of them won't work in it.

Freeman Hunt said...

The degree and certification requirements are artificial barriers to entry that the teachers have erected to keep their jobs safer.

Yes! That's another thing. A lot of talented people are not going to sit through a bunch of classes in the education department.

Paco Wové said...

I had some colleagues in graduate school who were getting double Master's degrees, one in Education and one in Biology... they were all uniformly appalled by the worthlessness of the Education courses they had to take.

Franklin said...

$150,000 for working 9 months. Damn. Yeah, I'd prolly do that right out of school...

Class factotum said...

Teachers make 14 percent less than professionals in other occupations that require similar levels of education.

If you want an engineer's salary, become an engineer.

68 percent would consider teaching if salaries started at $65,000 and rose to a minimum of $150,000.

Of course! Who wouldn't want that kind of money to have summers off and almost complete job security?

Jay said...

and rose to a minimum of $150,000.

Laugh out loud funny.

Yes, because teachers paid by the public coffers should be top 5'percenters...

LilyBart said...

I'm for vouchers. Let the market set the rate for teachers and let the parents choose the schools.

Not perfect, but much better than we have today. Our current system is rather perverted towards the teachers (rather than students / parents needs), and too interested in 'social change' rather than traditional learning.

All parents in Sweden are given vouchers and the parents are very happy with the system

Jason (the commenter) said...

Paco Wove: ...they were all uniformly appalled by the worthlessness of the Education courses they had to take.

As the saying goes: "those who can do, those who can't teach", so I can imagine the people who teach teaching must be especially useless.

galdosiana said...

I completely agree with what's been said here about the certification/degree process being a turn-off from getting an education degree. I was originally an education major because I wanted to teach--but after one year in the program and having to go through the most awful classes (math ed, for instance, was basically an entire semester of us doing elementary-level math problems while playing with manipulatives) and after listening to some really ridiculous seminars, I couldn't take it any longer. So, I went on into higher ed.

The DPI is, in so many ways, completely absurd. They have an infinite number of requirements that they seem to believe are actually serving a purpose--i.e. training good teachers--but in reality do nothing. And no one from the DPI actually comes to observe the way their own mandates are put into effect. For instance, they have a technology requirement for college students in ed classes, in order to get the future teachers prepared to use tech in the classroom. The requirement, however, is so poorly worded that my university interpreted it and enacted it in the following manner: On your final paper for the class, you needed to have at least 2 sources from the internet. And I wish I were joking.

This is precisely why we need to completely reform the ed system in this country. Reform the teacher training, reform the practice, and reform the standards.

TosaGuy said...

From the article: "WHEN we don’t get the results we want in our military endeavors, we don’t blame the soldiers. We don’t say, “It’s these lazy soldiers and their bloated benefits plans! That’s why we haven’t done better in Afghanistan!” No, if the results aren’t there, we blame the planners."

The Soldiers also don't whine and bitch to the public (as much) about how bad they think they have it.

The teachers do plan and facilitate the education of their kids, so why shouldn't they carry some blame. If they claim that they are not allowed to do that, then they don't need to get a level of pay commensurate with the abilities of a planner.

A whole bunch of them want the pay and lack of accountability.

Jay said...

Teachers make 14 percent less than professionals in other occupations that require similar levels of education.

Baloney.

I'd love to know which "occupations" these are and how many of them exist where 94% of your health insurance costs and 90% of your retirement contributions come from your employer while you work just over 9 months of the year...

Mel said...

Ann, so true, the kids are compelled to go to college. That's all we told our children, to have a better life than my husband and I, who never attended college. My daughter and her friends who graduated in 2009 are mainly working at coffee shops and low paying service jobs. A friend of hers recently graduated from Marquette with a law degree and could only find a job as a para-legal, making $20,000. And they all have so much debt from college loans. I really don't know what they will do.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Funny how the same people who argue against merit-based pay argue for paying teachers more.

Supply and demand sure is convenient!

dac said...

if your willing to move, there are a lot of teaching jobs. If your locked into a geography, particularly outside of an urbanized area, not so many jobs.

If you have a family, just how far are you willing to relocate for a $35,000 starting level position?

paranominal said...

Homeschoolers have been able to take advantage of the market of great teachers who are professionals in their fields. My kids have all taken Potter's School classes (pottersschool.org) in H.S. This coming school year eldest daughter will be taking Anatomy and Physiology thru Potter's School. Her instructor is a homeschooling Mom who is also a pediatrician. A young lady who fell in love with biology in college makes her living locally doing science labs for homeschooled kids. She is an outstanding teacher and her classes fill up fast. Another gentleman (retired mech. engineer) tutors homeschooled H.S. students in Math because he enjoys it. Free market in the education field at its best.

wv: termit - I love homeschooling my kids, but am glad this term it drawing to a close.

Quayle said...

,"WHEN we don’t get the results we want in our military endeavors, we don’t blame the soldiers."

WHEN did we ever get the results we didn't want, except perhaps when the 60s generation was dragging the whole thing down.

And, actually, come to think of it, yes the 60s kids did blame the soldiers.

Henry said...

The problem is the focus on "young people"

State accreditation and teachers unions have created horrific barriers to entry to the teaching profession that keep mid-career professionals in pertinent fields from crossing over. They have to jump through the accreditation hoops and then get shafted by the seniority system.

Stop focusing on "young people" and salary and start focusing on removing barriers to entry.

Henry said...

Paco Wove wrote: I had some colleagues in graduate school who were getting double Master's degrees, one in Education and one in Biology... they were all uniformly appalled by the worthlessness of the Education courses they had to take.

My mother certified in New York State in the '50s and the same was true then.

On the other hand, my wife's aunt is a reading recovery specialist and has described to me some very good specialist courses she has taken.

Paul Zrimsek said...

When we don’t get the results we want in our military endeavors, we don’t blame the soldiers

"Never reinforce failure".

paranominal said...

galdosiana - I'll have my eldest (16 - Sr. in the fall) read this blog and esp. your comment. She's will probably major in English/Lit. in college and was considering an ed. degree. Her motivation is that she would like to also be a homeschooling Mom some day and is concerned that with the encroachment of the State in home education - that she may end up in a situation where a teaching certificate is required to homeschool her kids.

Henry said...

When we don’t get the results we want in our military endeavors, we don’t blame the soldiers

It took ten years after Vietnam for the Army to rebuild unit cohesion and discipline. The Army may not have been broadcasting blame, but they did stop putting up with shit.

(Read the latter part of Rick Atkinson's The Long Gray Line for some history of that.)

I think the armed forces should take the last six months of every enlistment and give each serviceman and woman a teacher credential in their specialty that every state was forced to accept.

Shouting Thomas said...

My daughter teaches Spec Ed at a public school. She is struggling under a ton of student loan debt. If she gets re-hired next fall, she'll be tenured. After ten years, the student loan debt will be forgiven.

Many of her classmates took on the massive debt and didn't find jobs. That's a pretty deadly combination. I don't think anything is keeping young people from going into teaching except for declining student populations and lack of jobs. You would think that the reality of massive student loans would drive more people out.

I'm proud of my daughter. She got the job because she got her hands dirty and built a resume while she was still in school. She worked in a residential home for developmentally disabled kids, and volunteered on projects for the YWCA. If you want the job, you'd better do something more than just get the degree and hope.

Best to remember that just sending out resumes doesn't really do a damned bit of good. In my area, the jobs are all rewarded on the basis of personal, local recommendations. The interviews are usually fake, for the purpose of satisfying administrative protocol. Sending out a resume blind and hoping to land a job is not going to work.

Shouting Thomas said...

And, in response to the NYT editorial:

It's all about creating more voters who vote a straight Democratic Party ticket.

Fen said...

"What's keeping young people from going into teaching?"

This:

Hoyden said: this might make sense if teacher salary was related to performance instead of seniority and tenure, the union and special perks were eliminated.

The teacher's union has ruined public education the same way the unions ruined Detroit.

ricpic said...

I suppose the object is to get the "best and the brightest" to teach. Let's say raising salaries accomplished that. Given that the higher you go on the socio-economic scale the stronger the imperative to conform to PC modes or else, all you'll get will be a teaching corps more effectively programming deadening conformity in its students.

AJ Lynch said...

In the city of Phila. the school district spends more than $15,000 per student. If the standard were one teacher per 15 students, that would leave a pot of money worth $225,000 for each teacher. If you assume only 60% went to the teacher and the remaining 40% went to bldg, buses, custodians, etc.the teacher would get $135,000 which is 60% of the $225,000.

Unfortunately, the reality is most schools spend way more than 40% on stuff besides the teachers.

Seeing Red said...

Unless it comes w/a whip & a chair

or at minimum having the little darling sitting in the corners w/a dunce cap on the head....


No thank U.

Children r too disrespectful. Washington is too involved.

Pogo said...

The State has a legitimate demand that all children become educated, but it should never have demanded how parents do so.

Exams proving proficiency would be sufficient, I think.

If you could cover all the material in 9 years by homeschooling, fine.

Vouchers would solve a lot of problems, which is why they are bitterly opposed.

My daughter went to j-school at Mizzou. her roomie was in edu, and one year while my girl had her hardest year so far, her roomie's final 'exam' in one class was making a pretty bulletin board design for a fictional first grade class.

Jason (the commenter) said...

So I'm reading the report mentioned in the op-ed (titled Closing the talent gap: Attracting and retaining top third graduates to a career in teaching) and find it has significantly different findings than the op-ed emphasizes.

First off, in South Korea, if you aren't in the top third of students, you aren't eligible to be a teacher. And this is what the report is about, how to improve the quality of teachers. The report follows the assumption that poor school performance in the U.S. is the result of poor teacher quality.

And it's not all about increasing salaries. From the report:

In one scenario, for example, the U.S. could more than double the portion of top-third+ new hires in high-needs schools, from 14% today to 34%, without raising teacher salaries.

...the highest performing teachers would receive performance bonuses of 20%...

Merit-based pay! Plus the report considers only increasing salaries for the best teachers in schools that are performing badly. Pay increases don't have to be for everyone.

Also, there's a BIG typo in the NYT:

McKinsey polled 900 top-tier American college students and found that 68 percent would consider teaching if salaries started at $65,000 and rose to a minimum of $150,000.

The actual report talks of a MAXIMUM salary of $150,000.

Just goes to show the reliability of the Times.

Seeing Red said...

This is precisely why we need to completely reform the ed system in this country. Reform the teacher training, reform the practice, and reform the standards.


We need to go thru the regs from the 20th century and remove the 1s which don't apply anymore.

& pay a bounty for men teachers. Too many females, not enuf male role models.

And in the lower grades. If U come from a single-parent household, U need a male role model even from a distance.

Seeing Red said...

The actual report talks of a MAXIMUM salary of $150,000.

Then they marry another union member making $100K with or w/o OT

and become part of the hated "rich" who must be destroyed.

Then 1 of them quits & becomes a barista, Wal-Mart greeter, or "do U want fries w/that?"

Texan99 said...

What keeps top-tier young students from going into a profession that's not even remotely a meritocracy? I can't imagine.

As for Ms. A's question, "How can you get a free market when the kids are *compelled* to attend school? They don't get to choose the product they want. It's inflicted on them." -- The students aren't the customers. Their parents are. How do you get a free market (outside the obvious place, which is private schools)? Give the parents a choice, such as with vouchers.

TMink said...

Good teachers are worth more money. Sad thing is, needless tenure in non-research positions (everything High School and below) serves to protect the jobs of people who cannot teach.

So teachers get worse and worse as a group every year.

I guess there are not enough cogent teachers left to throw off the shackles of their unions to redeem their profession.

Trey

TMink said...

Althouse, school choice would improve the competition for competent teachers immesurably. Market forces do that.

Trey - who has no doubts that Althouse is a good teacher

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Most thinking students do not want a bullshit Education degree and thus, regardless of desire and ability, are not eligible to teach. Ditto for those able retired people who would teach for a pittance given the chance. Wonder why those things are as they are?

Teachers's Unions.

If qualified people (retired engineers, CPAs, local artists, history buffs, business owners etc etc) could teach children in their areas of expertise without the BS Education Degree, the scam would be exposed.

It doesn't take a degree or a high salary with guaranteed benefits to teach children. It takes knowledge and the desire to share that knowledge.

Teachers (especially those that go into elementary schools) are not really well educated at all. Many are teaching to topics that they are unqualified or completely ignorant.

With the exception of the hard science teachers, that I have had as clients and friends, teachers are the dumbest clients and the most stupid people that I have ever met.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Since they start out by saying that blaming the teachers for the failings of the system is Bad, you'd think their prescription would involve something other than how to get better teachers.

TMink said...

"Building credibility when writing about education is most effective when you misspell."

Only to those who do not understand that intelligence and spelling are entirely separate concerns.

There is not a spelling section on the WAIS because spelling has no meaningful correlation with intelligence.

Using spelling to write off ideas you do not support does have a high correlation with being a putz though. 8)

Trey

chr1 said...

Rhhardin, well said.

All I really see coming from raised salaries are a lot more mediocre people earning a bit more and more incentive to get the now scarcer job.

One of the major outcomes of the equality of outcomes crowd is almost never more equality, simply less efficiency which hurts the disadvantaged students and entrenches and politicizes the class system even more.

Why no one over at the Times is even seemingly aware of this argument, let alone willing to publish it, says a lot more about the Times, and the failures of modern liberalism.

bagoh20 said...

Imagine if all the money spent on public and private education, the department of education, and the education unions was all spent in a market system by consumers (parents). There would be some very well paid teachers. Some much higher than today. Administration would be lean, schools would be better, but most important students would be.

chr1 said...

And by 'class system', I don't mean what all these fools at the Times are trying to mainstream while backing us into more and more inequality...

Eventually, only more "equality," (exactly what these idiots are peddling) will be required.

"Progress" wins, and the future is just at the horizon, moving constantly, incentivized to be owned by the baser human desires (not even the useful idiots) but by the thugs who get in power in the overly politicized, rotting system...

...like most people at this blog realize.

mdavis said...

I teach at at state university and many of my students go into teaching. Of the students who have come back to me and said that they discovered teaching wasn't for them, not one complained about the money. They all complained about the way students were permitted to behave, particularly the way students were allowed to treat them.

Roger Sweeny said...

Young people ARE going into teaching. Most places have more applicants than openings. Some places with bad reputations have trouble filling positions.

edutcher said...

The bulk of people who went into teaching when the unions were growing were there to duck the draft. They used the unions to strike for more money, but still didn't want all that much to teach. Throwing money at the problem, which is what the Feds do, hasn't changed that.

Given the laughable state of discipline in classrooms these days, the money isn't worth.

Also, the lack of pride in being a teacher (it was once a calling as much as the law or medicine was) probably has a lot to do with it.

Seeing Red said...

I think there's a site which tracks how much each school district or state spends on students.

I also remember reading 1-2 articles on how much we spend on them when everything fed/state/local is added together and it's like we spend $750 billion to $1 trillion a year.

And they're still stupid.

GulfofMexico said...

Trey @ 9:58,
Perhaps you noticed, I was correcting my own error. Agree on the putz factor wrt spelling vs. ideas, etc. ... loads of this type of stuff in the comments at madison.com (on any teacher-related thread). Occasionally you can engage on the merits over there, but not without a lot of such nonsense.

Roger Sweeny said...

A number of commenters think that teaching is easy. They are partly right. Teaching is relatively easy when students want to learn the subject and when they are properly prepared.

All those retired engineers would be shocked by how bad most ninth graders math skills are. And then frustrated as hell. All those retired librarians and former English majors would be shocked by how poorly high school students read. They would then have to deal with the students' trying to avoid that difficult and unpleasant reading by any means possible.

Our host points out "the kids are *compelled* to attend school[] They don't get to choose the product they want. It's inflicted on them." Most of of them don't have much intrinsic interest in the subject matter. They're happy to be with their friends, and they want that piece of paper at the end, so they want easy and predictable tests that they can pass. But they don't want to learn.

Dealing with all that is not easy.

ricpic said...

...intelligence and spelling are entirely separate concerns.

Slight demurral here, Trey. Agreed that misspelling a word doesn't indicate a thing about the intelligence of the author of a comment, but it does break the flow of his argument to the reader who notices the misspelling. Good spelling contributes to the effectiveness with which (written) intelligence is communicated and vice versa.

Larry J said...

There is a good deal of bullshit in teaching. Let a teacher teach and more would get into the profession and stay.

Every job has its bullshit to benefit ratio. As a former teacher, I found the ratio unacceptable and moved on to other things. I enjoyed teaching (and still do at the corporate level) but the BS just wasn't worth it.

TWM said...

First of all I don't believe the 68% at all. Frankly, they could pay those wages and still most students of top-tier colleges would not teach. Teaching - if done well - is a fricken' hard job and, legitimate union issues aside, most teachers do not initially go into the field for the money. They do it because they want to teach. Paying them more would draw a few who are only interested in a paycheck but if they are smart enough to be in a top-tier school they can get that kind of paycheck in plenty of jobs.

Larry J said...

4) teaching jobs in math and science or foreign language are not given to people learned in those subjects, but to the connected.

I was a math major who applied to teach at a predominately black high school back in 1984. A friend of mine was at the school board meeting where my application was discussed. It was dismissed with a statement "we aren't going to hire any more honkies to teach our kids" and they hired the wife of a coach instead. Needless to say, she knew nothing about math.

Robin said...

I've talked to a lot of ex-teachers. None of which left teaching because of thinking they were being paid too little. Each and every one left because of conflicts with administration that frustrated them. From mandates to teach topics that were useless, to lack of support of the teacher during student/parent/teacher conflict.

edutcher said...

Roger Sweeny said...

Young people ARE going into teaching. Most places have more applicants than openings. Some places with bad reputations have trouble filling positions.

Amazing what a U-6 around 19.4 will do.

JM Hanes said...

Is there any profession which wouldn't attract more practitioners if you gave salaries and/or benefits a serious boost?

TosaGuy said...

those from top tier schools are also under represented in the armed forces

Big Mike said...

I couldn't be a teacher in the 21st century. Some kid would lip off to me and I'd beat the snot out of him and get fired if not jailed.

Milwaukee said...

As a teacher with many years experience, I am glad to read several postings here.
Yes, there are artificial barriers to entry. If Teach For America teachers can be as or more effective than traditionally prepared teachers, we should wonder about teacher preparation programs.
Yes, there are stupid union rules, and stupid administrators. One teacher is laid off because they signed their contract in the afternoon, when the other signed theirs in the morning of the same day. Of course, if the administrator had had any balls, he would have fired the laid off teacher for not doing their job. But then I know of elementary teachers who have been evaluated on their bulletin boards or whether or not they "look nice" and their earrings match their outfits.

Thank you Michael of "jobsworths", that nails many teachers and administrators. Absolutely, "conforming to group norms" is a problem. The most popular teachers in my former high school acted like they were really enjoying the trip of re-living high school year after year. At what age does homecoming pep assembly not thrill them?

We need school vouchers, and to let parents and students self-select themselves. My former high school had to move graduation to 10 AM on Saturday, because there were too many drunk adults on Friday night.

While content expertise is important, it is only a necessary condition, not sufficient. Teachers need to love teaching, and love who they are working with. The Shaw quote about "those who can do, those who can't teach" is an insult to good teachers. Not only must teachers be able to do, but they need to do well enough to teach it to somebody else. My guess is that most readers on this site are native English speakers. Try teaching English as a Second Language, and let me tell you most of you can not articulate the rules of grammar you have so well internalized. Same with mathematics, knowing how to do something doesn't mean you can explain how or why something is done in a certain way.

A recent study came out that the achievement gap between young Black males and young White males is greater than what can be explained by poverty. Don't blame teachers for that.

Jay said...

Each and every one left because of conflicts with administration that frustrated them. From mandates to teach topics that were useless,

There is a blog post over on "Dr Helen" taking about the Royal Wedding. Numerous comments point out that the wedding was shown in school in lieu of normal instruction.

Lovely.

Milwaukee said...

We can blame Horace Mann for a ton. Frederick the Great had a fine Prussian Army. But he, and his army, were dead when Napoleon came around, and for the most part the Prussian Army sucked then. (Although they had a good day at Waterloo. But how smart does a general need to be? Oh "march to the sound of guns.") Anyhow, they revised their schools so as to have a literate and obedient army. Hence the bell schedule: when the bell rings, whatever you are doing, you stop and do something else. Your thoughts are not important, the bell rang, time to think something else! Horace Mann visited Prussia and brought back glowing reports of Prussian schools. School officials in Massachusetts and New York, concerned about the waves of poor Irish and Italian Catholic children, followed his suggestions. Of course, Mann NEVER saw a Prussian teacher in action or Prussian students in school. His visit was during a school holiday.

High school credit, and college credits, are based on Seat Time. Credit is based on passing a 120 hour course, spread over 180 days. If a student knows enough math to pass Algebra I, they can either move to Algebra II and not get a credit, or they can sit there for a year. When we remove this artificial management/labor agreed tool, then education will change dramatically.

The problem is that everybody with a degree defends it: Lawyers insist only those who graduate from ABA approved schools can be lawyers: a barrier to entry. People with doctorates insist on others have doctorates to teach. In Wisconsin, the 2-year university campuses are increasing staffed with PhDs. Of course, they only teach the first two years of college, and somebody with a Masters could teach those courses. But that cheapens the value of the administrators doctorate, they aren't about to do that.

Milwaukee said...

By the way, I have taught English as a Second Language, both in this country and abroad. That means I was an English Teacher. Further, I have taught Maths in England, which means I was a teacher in England, or an English teacher. Thus, I have been an English teacher two different ways. But my usual teaching gig is mathematics to high school students.

Pogo said...

Is there ever ever ever an editorial by the NYTimes that doesn't conclude that the answer is -clearly- more government spending?

Seems like a good way to cut costs at the NYTimes.

Just hire sopme college j-school juniors to write the first paragraph describing the problem, and insert the same final paragraph for the more funding is needed conclusion.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Althouse, and a lot of others here seem outraged by the idea of a $150,000 minimum salary. As I've said already, that's a typo, but it is interesting that what's glaring to us didn't catch the attention of the people at the Times.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Pogo: Seems like a good way to cut costs at the NYTimes.

They've already cut all the fact checkers.

Roger Sweeny said...

Amazing what a U-6 around 19.4 will do.

"U-6 Total unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force"--from the Bureau of Labor Statistics website.

In other words, the unemployment rate if you counted everyone who was working part-time but wanted to work full-time and everyone who wanted a job but had given up for now.

In March 2011, it was 15.7% and trending slightly downward. I'm not sure how much bringing this down will tighten the teacher job market. There are still lots and lots and lots of people majoring in education and/or going to ed school. The number of job openings each year isn't really that high.

edutcher said...

Nobody buys the BLS BS, which excludes the so-called "discouraged" workers, the 99ers and those who have been forced tor retire early, among others, from the total labor force (as the labor force shrinks, the percent of unemployed goes down).

I'm quoting Gallup, which is pretty well recognized as being reflective of true conditions.

Jason (the commenter) said...

McKinsey polled 900 top-tier American college students and found that 68 percent would consider teaching if salaries started at $65,000 and rose to a minimum of $150,000.

Another misleading thing about this is even with these salary levels the report estimates that top-tier students entering into teaching would only rise from 23 to 37% of total new hires.

And any non-top-tier students who got these salaries would be a waste of money.

Gahrie said...

The problem in education today is not teachers.

If you truly want to reform public education, the two quickest solutions that would have the best effect would be to bring back corporal punishment and start expelling the discipline problems again.

Fred4Pres said...

Watch Waiting for Superman to see what is wrong with education these days. Hint: It is not the salaries.

Fred4Pres said...

Ann, vouchers give a free market.

Jason (the commenter) said...

From the report: ...U.S. research on whether teachers' academic backgrounds significantly predict classroom effectiveness is very mixed...

There is no proven scientific support for the basic thesis of the report!

Oligonicella said...

Milwaukee --

"At what age does homecoming pep assembly not thrill them?"

Friggin' hilarious. Sounds just like what my daughter says.

technogypsy said...

Money again.

How come private school teachers make less and yet do a better job? Or homeschoolers who get paid zip?

Bruce Hayden said...

Let me suggest that the big reason that our military works, while our school system doesn't, is that our military does go to war (as most don't), and when they do, people die.

It seems like every time we go to war (with maybe the exception of Korea, so shortly after WWII), we fumble around at first, until those promoted politically are replaced by those who can perform. Happened in the Civil War for the Union, until Grant, et al. were put in charge. Happened at the start of WWII. Happened in Vietnam (compounded by a micromanaging President and SecDef). And, it happened when we went into Afghanistan and Iraq.

Public K-12 education does not have a bottom line, as does a military during war. And, being government work, inevitably the criteria for success in the field becomes political - how well they can cater to the latest fads and pander to their management.

The thing about vouchers, etc. is that they would provide a bottom line - schools and teachers would have to teach, and teach reasonably well, or they would not have students.

Finally, I sent my kid to private school for these reasons, and don't regret the cost. Most of the teachers had spent some time in public schools teaching, and gave up that for often lower pay. While there were inferior teachers, they didn't last. Because, well, they could be let go (or, more accurately, their contracts not renewed). And, the school did this because they had a bottom line - if the parents were dissatisfied, then they would send their kids elsewhere.

Bruce Hayden said...

The other thing that may be forgotten by the NYT is that most public school teachers have much better benefits than do those paying for them. (And, yes, that is much of what was going on in Wisconsin recently). So, you really have to look at salary plus benefits compared to actual hours required to be worked, and when you do, it looks more like teachers are over paid, not under paid.

Maybe it is where I live, but there are a lot of people trying to get into those teaching jobs right now. Government work looks better and better to a lot of people, in the midst of this recession (brought on, to some small extent, by the political payoffs to the political power of the unionized teachers who got the President and a lot of democrats elected).

Joe said...

For nine months of work, teachers in my state with the same experience level as me make damn good money and amazing benefits and job protections.

Problem is that starting teachers make a ridiculously low amount. Yes, that's partly because of churn, but mostly, I suspect, to give head room for the big salaries down the line.

Yet, despite all this, getting a teaching position in urban and suburban areas of my state is damn hard. If you have any experience, it's even more difficult.

William said...

Is there such a huge difference in outcome between a gifted, inspired teacher and one who is merely competent?....In an upper middle class school, the students will screw their asses into the chair and memorize irregular verbs. They will do this whether their teacher drones or tells fascinating anecedotes about their year in France......I think teaching is a tough job and deserves an honorable salary. But the best teachers are probably not the ones who seek the highest salaries. You want to appeal to someone who does not have the insincts of a hedge fund trader.

reader_iam said...

Fred4Pres:

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2010/nov/11/myth-charter-schools/?pagination=false

(Diane Ravitch in "Waiting for Superman")

reader_iam said...

"on" not "in".

Also, Ravitch points out some statistics and myths which aren't widely known, or at least acknowledged.

GulfofMexico said...

William,

To answer your question ... maybe. There are teachers out there that some students call inspirational but other students just see as annoying. It depends on the kid. The outcome depends on the kid, mostly. And the kid is a product of nature and nuture.

Teaching is a middle management job. An important one, too.

Thus far, in my experience, I've found the best teachers are those that can reach every child in their class in a meaningful way. These teachers also seem to be good parents.

Fred4Pres said...

reader jam. Wrong!

Vouchers are the answer. Real competition. We spend more on public primary education per student than any country in the world except for Switzerland. Public spending is not the problem. The problem is public schools operate to protect teachers, not teach students.

Revenant said...

I wouldn't mind paying salaries like that for teachers if:

- They were legally forbidden from collective bargaining

- They were judged entirely on the basis of student performance, not seniority or credentials

- On the job year-round, not just 8 months a year.

- Benefits switched to private-sector standards instead of gold-plated government bullshit

Kirby Olson said...

The salary for preachers should be tripled.

Freeman Hunt said...

I just watched "The Cartel," and Ravitch mischaracterizes it. That leads me to mistrust the rest of her analysis. (I'd have to go back and watch "Waiting for Superman" again to see if her claims are accurate and research her other stats.)

Even at the end, she says she thought "the charter operators were cynically using children as political pawns in their own campaign to promote their cause" because they were holding public lotteries. She must have not been paying attention when they explained that the law requires a public lottery.

Don't Tread 2012 said...

Oh, maybe its the parents that drop off children that aren't toilet trained.

Or, maybe its knowing that you will be working under countless affirmative action hires that don't know curriculum from cunnilingus.

The politics in the teaching profession are distasteful for most. If you are into multi culti, diversity, outcomes-based education, etc, education is the place for you.

Fred Drinkwater said...

It's a red herring. Teacher salaries are not the critical factor in public school district budgets.

This is the key: Look at the changes in the ratio of teaching : non-teaching (admin) staff in a district over the 50 years since 1960.

On the subject of el-ed teacher qualifications, I have some painful personal knowledge from several years volunteering in public and private schools. For example, in a 4th grade class at a top-end liberal private school in the SF Bay Area, one day I was tutoring a handful of kids in elementary algebra. The teacher came by to observe, and after a couple minutes remarked sotto voce to me that she was glad I was there because she did not know those "advanced concepts" well enough to teach them. (You know, like how 4x + 12 = 64 is related to 2x + 6 = 32. That kind of advanced concept.) I was shocked literally speechless.

mm said...

The present situation is ridiculous. My son taught bio-sciences and chem at a highly regarded private school for 18 years. He also rose to become head master of the school before a new owner appointed himself head master. He and a small group then founded a charter school where he now serves as principal. Unfortuately, public school rules forbid him to teach. Aaaaargh...


Stupid as many of the rules are, my son would be the first to tell you that not everyone can teach, regardless of real-life experience and expertise.

He and my son-in-law and best friend (also HS teachers) would tell you that every class is a living, breathing, wild animal to be tamed and taught a trick or two and enjoyed along the way. Any teacher who does not grasp this or ignores this is going to be mauled in ways determined by the nature of the beast and its real 'leaders'.

Many well-meaning, relatively competent and 'nice' people simply give up on the kids and spend their careers waiting to be 'saved by the bell' or find some career niche in the system that has nothing to do with teaching the kids.

Freeman Hunt said...

Well, damn. Then her whole Finland thing is undermined by this:

There are few private schools. The founding of a new private comprehensive school requires a political decision by the Council of State. When founded, private schools are given a state grant comparable to that given to a municipal school of the same size.

We call those charter schools in the United States.

She asserts that Finland's teaching force is completely unionized. That is close to the truth, but it is not the truth. The number is 95%, not 100%. According to the union, it helps in negotiating salaries and working hours.

Another odd thing is that one sentence is lifted directly from "Policy Development and Reform Principles of Basic and Secondary Education in Finland Since 1968." (This one: Finland improved its public education system not by privatizing its schools or constantly testing its students, but by strengthening the education profession and investing in teacher preparation and support.") But she is at odds with the report when she writes, "Finland has a national curriculum, which is not restricted to the basic skills of reading and math, but includes the arts, sciences, history, foreign languages, and other subjects that are essential to a good, rounded education." The report reads, "Schools receive full autonomy in developing the daily delivery of education services. The ministry of education always believed that teachers, together with principals, parents and their communities know how to provide the best possible education for their children and youth. Except for guidelines for learning goals and assessment criteria, The National Board of Education (taking care of curriculum development, evaluation of education and professional support for teachers) doesn’t dictate lesson plans or standardized tests. School can plan their own curricula to reflect local concerns."

Important things you can find in the full report that are left out by Ravitch:

"Finland also ranks first on Transparency International’s list of least corrupt countries" (Corruption within the New Jersey government educational system was the subject of "The Cartel.)

Freeman Hunt said...

"Fourth, both education and economic development have relied heavily on trust in public
institutions that are often the leading partners in planning and setting policy. The high caliber of
public institutions, deep cultural respect for the law, and practically nonexistent corruption
have
all promoted the creation of consensus-building mechanisms that have been crucial in bringing
the public and private sectors together to develop sound education and economic strategies."

The report also implies that Finnish schools are heavy on teachers, light on administrators (something "The Cartel" argues in favor of), but I didn't see specific numbers on that, so it's difficult to be certain. It also mentions that the school results improved as the economy improved, and that both improved after a bout of deregulation. Additionally, grades are outlawed and descriptions are used instead. (I would argue that this requires deeper thinking on the part of teachers, both about students and about their own effectiveness.) They also track students into academic and vocational routes after nine years. They also do not push academics onto young children, not starting them until age seven. There are a myriad of differences that our schools are largely barred from trying.... unless they are established as charters or private schools.

Freeman Hunt said...

WTH? The filter ate the first half of my comment which was posted just before the second half. Damn it.

I'll attempt it again here:

Her whole Finland thing is undermined by this:

There are few private schools. The founding of a new private comprehensive school requires a political decision by the Council of State. When founded, private schools are given a state grant comparable to that given to a municipal school of the same size.

We call those charter schools in the United States.

She asserts that Finland's teaching force is completely unionized. That is close to the truth, but it is not the truth. The number is 95%, not 100%. According to the union, it helps in negotiating salaries and working hours.

Another odd thing is that one sentence is lifted directly from "Policy Development and Reform Principles of Basic and Secondary Education in Finland Since 1968." (This one: Finland improved its public education system not by privatizing its schools or constantly testing its students, but by strengthening the education profession and investing in teacher preparation and support.") But she is at odds with the report when she writes, "Finland has a national curriculum, which is not restricted to the basic skills of reading and math, but includes the arts, sciences, history, foreign languages, and other subjects that are essential to a good, rounded education." The report reads, "Schools receive full autonomy in developing the daily delivery of education services. The ministry of education always believed that teachers, together with principals, parents and their communities know how to provide the best possible education for their children and youth. Except for guidelines for learning goals and assessment criteria, The National Board of Education (taking care of curriculum development, evaluation of education and professional support for teachers) doesn’t dictate lesson plans or standardized tests. School can plan their own curricula to reflect local concerns."

Important things you can find in the full report that are left out by Ravitch:

"Finland also ranks first on Transparency International’s list of least corrupt countries" (Corruption within the New Jersey government educational system was the subject of "The Cartel.)

mm said...

Some numbers cited in the op-ed seem bogus. I'd like to know what urban districts are sporting 40-to-1 student teacher ratios. I know a lot of teachers and all own nice homes (some in very high-cost areas).

Who pays for all these "studies" noted in this and similar articles? How much of the funding originates in the Dept of Ed?


IMO, many good bartenders would make excellent class room teachers.

Freeman Hunt said...

It deleted it again! ARGH!

There is a first half to my last comment that I cannot post.

AJ Lynch said...

40-1 students to teachers is a standard NYT lie.

I challenge the NYT to name even one public school disrict in the country with that ratio.

wv = pulte = large company that once built homes and can now be found in a museum with the rest of the American home builders

Martin L. Shoemaker said...

Milwaukee said...

Same with mathematics, knowing how to do something doesn't mean you can explain how or why something is done in a certain way.

A lesson I learned back when I was in high school. At my school, college prep sophomores took geometry, and juniors took Algebra II. But there was one regional math competition where one team member had to be a sophomore, and all team members had to know Algebra II. So each year, one student took these two out of order. That was me.

Meanwhile, tech ed students often didn't get to geometry at all; but if they did, it was in junior year.

So as the only juniors in the geometry class, I and two buddies naturally ended up working together. And one day, I heard this conversation...

"What's the square root of 3 squared?" And I laughed.

"Lemme get my calculator." And I laughed harder. "Whaddaya know, it's 3." And I almost fell off my chair laughing.

But when I was done laughing, I tried to explain to them why the question was so funny (unless, of course, you were after the answer -3). And I couldn't do it! I realized that I knew this concept so fundamentally, I couldn't even imagine a question.

And that was when I realized that to teach, it's not enough to know the material. You have to be able to see and lead a path from not knowing to knowing. At a minimum, you have to remember the path you yourself followed from not knowing to knowing (and in this case, I couldn't). But furthermore, since not all students start from the same state of not knowing, and different students learn better through different paths, you have to be able to diagnose where a student is, and how to guide that particular student to knowing. It requires knowledge but also empathy and creativity. It also requires more individual attention than most teachers can spare -- and I'm not sure how many of them have the skill to do this even if they have the time.

Freeman Hunt said...

IMO, many good bartenders would make excellent class room teachers.

Heh. Funny. One of my husband's friends from childhood is a good bartender. He would make an excellent teacher.

mm said...

...And that was when I realized that to teach, it's not enough to know the material. You have to be able to see and lead a path from not knowing to knowing. At a minimum, you have to remember the path you yourself followed from not knowing to knowing...

Tell the truth, you helped Rumsfeld with his book, right?

Milwaukee said...

There are statistics about how important parents are to children. African-American children are more likely than Whites or Hispanics to grow up in a single parent household. Think that might have anything to do with school achievement?

Story is some big wig from Norway or Sweden. Help me out here. Was visiting the US, and said something like 'we don't have poverty in Sweden'. He was with some big wig person, like Federal Reserve Chair or something, and the reply was 'among Swedes in this country, we don't have poverty either.' Good schools are a reflection of the community they are in. Having good schools in 'good' communities is a breeze. Having them in 'bad' communities is very difficult.

My suggestion to improve high school educations in this country: Cut the public university budget by 75%. (That's three-quarters for y'all keeping score at home.) If we told this years 8th graders that when they graduate from high school, instead of 40,000 seats at state universities, there are 10,000 seats, they would respond. They would demand far more of their teachers in high school. As it is, with 70% of high school graduates going to college, all they need to do is to remember to breathe once in a while, and they can make it into college.

I have had members of "Under Represented Groups" tell me they didn't need to do very well in high school math because they would "get it" in college. The state university had promised them acceptance without it, and tutoring for it once they got there because they represented one of those groups.

The university I am at now has guidelines for admission to the teacher training program. Students must have a score of 510, with a minimum of 170 in each of three areas. Unless their participation would add to the over all diversity of the program, then any score is good enough. So why would those students feel the need to work hard in high school? And why are prospective teachers tested before admission to the program, but not after completing the program, before actually teaching?

Jason (the commenter) said...

Freeman Hunt: One of my husband's friends from childhood is a good bartender.

Did your husband ever start drinking young!

mm said...

One of my teacher friends (an actual undergrad Ed major at USC) told me the only useful thing she learned was, when confronted with really bad work, always say,

"That's really interesting, Susie. Will you tell me a little more about it?"

"Susie, what the f... is that?" is to be avoided.

Milwaukee said...

I was once observing a really excellent teacher working with low-achieving 2nd graders are identifying coins. One student said "Pennies are the same on both sides."

The teacher, being excellent, asked, "Could you explain what you mean?"

The student said "Pennies are brown on both sides."

Brilliant. We teach children to identify coins by the pictures on both sides, and ignore the most important feature because standardized tests are done in black-and-white. Sort of like the police officer sees this drunk staggering around under a street light one night, and stops and asks him what he's doing. The drunk says he's looking for his keys. The officer figures he'll help the drunk find his keys before taking him in. The officer looks all around under the street light, and says, your keys aren't here. The drunk says, I know that, the keys are over there, pointing to a dark alley. The officer asks, so why are we looking here? The drunk says 'I might be drunk but I'm not stupid. This is where the light is.' Too often in education we test stuff because it is easy to test, not because it is useful or necessary.

There are good bartenders out there, and there are people who just won't make good bartenders. The match needs to work.

Martin L. Shoemaker said...

mm said...

Tell the truth, you helped Rumsfeld with his book, right?

Not having read Runsfeld's book, nor even paid it much attention, I'm afraid your joke eludes me.

ken in sc said...

The pay is not that bad. I retired early, not because of the pay, but because of the asshat administrators. Of course, everyone knows EDU degrees are BS. They have courses on how to decorate bulletin boards. These people get doctorates in ED and lord over people who actually have some knowledge. It's Kafkaesque.

Seven Machos said...

Althouse and rh talk past each other. Compulsory education is what I would call a glutted but highly inelastic market.

Otherwise, hilarious. Wisconsin -- home of the progressive idea -- is having to cut teachers' luxurious salaries and benefits, yet we get the annual plea from The New York Times to raise exactly those salaries and benefits.

Where is the money?

Milwaukee said...

I've long thought compulsory education was a bad idea. If 16 year-old students think school is stupid, then forcing them to go isn't going to help. Having them leave will force the schools to rethink what they are doing, and find a better way to reach the students.

Having socialized education, where the state is the sole provider is also a bad idea. There is no incentive to improve, and administrative budgets just get bigger. To be sure the state isn't the sole provider, but parents pay even if their child is home schooled or privately schooled.

mm said...

Not having read Runsfeld's book, nor even paid it much attention, I'm afraid your joke eludes me.

I must have gotten known unknowns and unknown unknowns mixed up. Sorry.

reader_iam said...

It's always better to underestimate how "well read" people are. This cuts down on the disappointment factor, for example.

reader_iam said...

I find it amazing that such conservative people embrace such a progressive notion of education AND yet won't brook challenge. It's as if "model" trumps all!

Jason (the commenter) said...

reader_iam: I find it amazing that such conservative people embrace such a progressive notion of education AND yet won't brook challenge. It's as if "model" trumps all!

That's why most conservatives are for big government (when they're in charge). They believe there are simple, common sense solutions to any problem (which they know) and the only real difficulty is getting the right people in charge to enforce them on everyone else.