We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Friday, August 7. 2009
Toon via theo
How much time do men spend looking at women? Never, never try to tell me that women are not sex objects to men. And if they are more than that too, so much the better for all.
And, as we predicted yesterday, invited unions fill Town Hall: regular folks locked out in St. Louis
Sibelius to America: Don't sweat the details. Too complicated for the little people.
Bill Clinton had Hollywood arrange the reporting of his N Korea rescue. Why?
AARP has been co-opted by the Left for years. Now they do not want to hear from their members.
Just like the Russian subs off New York: Russian state security working with Hezbollah. Maybe a beer with Putin might encourage him to give up his nation's pursuit of their own power interests...
Hanson on Congress' new G-5s. 3 of them. God forbid members of Congress fly with the citizens. Citizens might want to talk to them.
Nothing wrong with teachers, or anybody else, wanting to make more money. Problem is that it's the peoples' involuntary money. I believe that public employee unions should be illegal (can you imagine the military unionizing?), and that nobody in a unionized job can be regarded as a professional. In fact, I believe that unions are pretty much obsolete today - a relic from the old and truly abusive company town industrial era when there was no effective labor market and minimal mobility.
Robin of Berkeley: How I became Conservative so fast.
Why the uproar? VHD:
From No Left Turns:
Re the death of John Hughes, an outtake from Ferris Bueller:
Powerline on energy:
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I believe that public employee unions should be illegal... and that nobody in a unionized job can be regarded as a professional.
My husband's father was a college professor* at a 4th-rate college. He was unionized. He complains about the idiots he had to work with, but sees no connection between that and being in the union, which he defends ardently.
* All teaching, no research (plus what remains to be said about English literature?), not that there's anything wrong with that, but the taxpayers of Pennsylvania should not have to pay above-market rates for their teachers.
"I believe that public employee unions should be illegal... and that nobody in a unionized job can be regarded as a professional."
What? What does 'A' have to do with 'B'? So, a truck driver who belongs to a union is not a professional driver? A teacher who is tricked into joining a union is not a professional?? A guy who works the assembly line in Detroit as a driver of screws is not a professional screw driver?
What does union participation have to do with one's qualifications to do their job? Nothing.
Just for the record, teachers don't have to join the union. Most are pressured into it by the threat that they might be sued, and that scares them so they join.
geeez.... at least you don't have to pay for your kid's education if you opt for public schools. That is, compared to the high priced private schools. Homeschool your kids if you think teachers aren't professionals. And you don't pay the union dues, anyway. Teachers pay them.
I don't like the unions having too much sway, but if you really care about the kids, you have to attract good teachers. If you left teacher pay up to locales, you would not be able to attract good teachers. They'd all head up to the DC area where several of the best high schools in the country are. Who suffers with lousy teachers? The kids.
Time to shut up, Meta. Oh. Except to note that Harvard shorely attracts some mighty fine edjikators, hot damn.
If you left teacher pay up to locales, you would not be able to attract good teachers. They'd all head up to the DC area where several of the best high schools in the country are.
1. Pay might go up; bad teachers might be fired. Why not let market forces work on teachers and see what happens? It's not like the teachers' union is ensuring that the kids in Milwaukee get a decent education.
2. Pay does not necessarily correlate to outcomes. Private school teachers get paid less than public school teachers, yet the schools are better.
Unions can't guarantee anything. Certainly they can't guarantee 'good' teachers. As far as market forces are concerned, look at any chart that shows where the states rank in education. Mississippi has held the bottom slot, or close to it, for the last 20 years. Until recently California and New York vied for #1. If teachers can't survive on a salary that a poor community can pay, how will they ever advance?
"Private school teachers get paid less than public school teachers, yet the schools are better." Can you prove this? No, you can't.
Yes, you can fire bad teachers. It happened every year I taught and membership in the VEA did nothing to stop it. Tenure did nothing to stop it.
There are too many myths about public and private education. It makes me sad and I don't know how to debunk some of the worst myths except to make a broad statement: The largest employer in the country is the public school system. Walmart is second. I'm going to say that in every organization, 30-40% of the employees are shiftless or incompetent. People don't care about a shiftless worker in Walmart, but most people have run across an incompetent teacher as their child goes through the system. Because the stakes are so important to parents, the assertions that the whole system is messed-up takes on a life of its own. I taught with horrible teachers, but I am here to tell you that some of the finest humans I've met in my life have been those teachers who got it, who did the grueling work of teaching despite idiot administrators, uncompromising demands on their time, parents so ignorant you wanted to pull your hair out when they came calling, sociopathic and ill-mannered students.... and all for low pay.
The teacher makes the classroom. The teacher is who makes the education work. When political correctness entered the scene, it was suddenly all about the kids. Screw the teachers. Well......... what the hell is education about but kids and teachers? But PC makes it de rigueur to blame the teachers.
And our sympathies go out to Johnny.
Meta, You're right -- I can't prove private school is better than public school. But in Memphis and in Milwaukee, I would find a way to put my kid in private school rather than trust him to the public system.
I am not blaming teachers (entirely) for poor outcomes. Parental support is essential. But I am not excusing teachers, either, and I am tired of hearing how little teachers are paid. $24,000 to $39,000 starting pay to work eight months of the year is a pretty good deal.
Let me state up front that I have nothing against private school. What I object to is the notion that the teachers in private school are better than those in public school. There are shiftless incompetents in private schools just as there are in public schools. What you don't have in private schools are ignorant, no-account blacks, rednecks, Hispanics, punks, druggies, spoiled white snots, abused young people, special needs kids, jocks, and whatever else in the melting pot you want to keep away from your kid. Though to be fair, some on that list you will find in any school.
What both private and public have in common are the teachers - who all happen to be human. That means you cannot be guaranteed to miss out on at least one or two incompetent teachers. And you get to pay for that incompetence in private school. Nonetheless, you have no more guarantee that your teachers in private school are the best anymore than you can tell someone that everyone you work with at your job is without flaws.
I don't know where you get that 8 month business, but let me show you how you can get to the more realistic number of months a teacher typically works: Take one month for work that we take home because we haven't time during the school day to do it because we're on duty one period, and then in the morning and afternoon we have duties every day that go beyond the school day. We have a planning period but that is never enough, and we are often called to cover a class during that time. For those teachers who do not take home work, they still have to plan it. Then add in another month for the endless in-services that are required during the year and the extra weeks teachers come in before and after the students leave. As well, count the 501 courses teachers are required to take out of school time, an entire semester of graduate work taken at night or in the summer. We have to drive to the universities to take those courses. Every last one of those courses requires a research paper - on the teacher's time.
Now, do you live on $24,000 - $39,000 a year? Many women view teaching as second income to their husbands. The few men who go into teaching have wives who work to supplement the income. There are single teachers who have trouble getting by and many have summer jobs to supplement their incomes. There are mothers whose husbands have died or left them who struggle on a teacher's salary.
If I sound a little pissed-off, I am. I've heard that same gripe about how teachers don't work, and the insults usually come from someone who has no idea that teaching does not complete itself in classroom hours. The work at home is sometimes up to three-four hours a night......... what the hell, hunh? You're at home so it doesn't count, and your own kids can put themselves to bed. And yeah, those plans you have to write up each week accounting for every minute of your day for the principal... they write themselves.
Now, please excuse me. My after-school duty this year is directing traffic until the buses leave, and I have 134 two-page essays to grade, and I have to help my kids with their homework before I tuck them in. My husband's not around to do that because he left.
I agree that being a union member and a professional are certainly not perfectly correlated.
You may know more about this than I do, but my perception is that teachers who do not join the union are also unable to advance in the system.
I am all for paying teachers more. However, I would like more accountability, the ability to terminate bad teachers and merit based compensation.
One of the best ways to increase compensation rates for teachers is to shift money out of needless bureaucratic administration and into the classroom. There was an effort called the 65% Initative. If existing funds were directed so that 65% of each educational dollar was spent in the classroom, the changes would be dramatic.
Two states where I recall the numbers make good examples. Texas and New Jersey would see shifts of more than $1.6 billion and $1.0 billion into the classroom, respectively.
I have not seen too many successful private enterprises where administrative costs are as high as in education. It's always sad that whenever cuts are contemplated, teachers, fire and police are trotted out for cuts. Never is the bureaucracy mentioned.
However, money alone does not solve all problems, which you know better than most.
Merit pay, competition in education via vouchers, charter schools, the ability have discipline in the classroom (which may require tort reform) and more positive parental involvement are needed.
Oh, god, Barrett. What a thoughtful person you are. Your last line gave me shivers because it is so true.
"teachers who do not join the union are also unable to advance in the system. "
No. This is not true. The unions do not have that kind of control, and as most administrators are not members of unions and can't stand them, it really is not true. School boards and central office tend to do anything to avoid the despised unions. When they do work well together, it is a good thing as the union will back off quietly if the system wants to fire a teacher. It's symbiotic in that way, but the reality is, mandate or whatever, is that teachers are automatically members whether they choose to sign up or not. Guess what? No one tells new teachers that! But, those who do not sign on the dotted line don't have to pay the monthly dues. As well, how does a teacher advance? Why? To what?
"I would like more accountability, the ability to terminate bad teachers and merit based compensation."
One of the reasons teachers wear out is accountability. I don't know about other states, but your job in Virginia is pretty much determined on how well your students perform on the Standards of Learning tests. This is strange coming from a teacher, but I was thrilled with those standards. It literally forced the incompetent teachers to get on task, and the standards were exactly what you wanted your kids to learn. Parents, teachers, administrators, and psychologists wrote the tests, so no bias there. They are great. The good teachers had no problem with the accountability because they already taught the information required on the tests. What the tests did do was put the guillotine to those teachers who failed to meet the standards. I have always been wishy-washy about merit pay. I think it breeds discontent within the faculty members. Here's why: Some courses are incredibly difficult to teach - like English, for example. Some courses were a breeze to teach, created no work at home to grade huge amounts of papers, etc. Who determines the merit in an unlevel playing field like that? Teacher of the Year also affected many hard working teachers the same way. So, I can't address that one except from an emotional point of view.
"One of the best ways to increase compensation rates for teachers is to shift money out of needless bureaucratic administration ..."
Needless bureaucratic administration. Shew! You said it. I'll never know what they do to earn salaries 2 to 3 times more than teachers. Most administrators are teachers who couldn't make it in the classroom. No lie.
Barrett, You are so smart. I'm setting up a revocable trust and spoke with the trust department at my bank yesterday. I have also discussed it with my broker who is willing and helpful. At the end of my long, long discussion with the trust guy, he smoothly said, as he expressed that this would take time, that 'down the road' we'll look into transferring your assets. (To the bank.)
Any thoughts? I like them both. Edward Jones, and my bank.
Thank you for your response to my comments. I am glad that the union does not retard advancement. You also clearly point out how the application of the concept of merit can quickly become complex. This is so in many fields.
I'd love to figure out a way to reduce the bureaucracy. You are so right that it is often where teachers who have failed in the classroom end up. That's the definition of a bad outcome.
I have a number of thoughts on your trust question. A lot of it has to do with your objectives and when you want things to happen.
Of course, economics are in play as well. Obviously, the bank wants to manage assets because they get fees for acting as executor and managing money. It may make sense to have someone who is not a "professional" be appointed as a trustee as a reality check and a supervisor of the "professionals". Again, it depends on how and why you set things up.
Please note that estate planning is a dynamic concept because circumstances change. Tax laws are also in the process of changing too. Periodic review of your plan to see if it is meeting your expectations is prudent.
Also, make the lawyers, trust advisors and brokers speak in English.
I am a bit reticent to spout off ideas without knowing the basic facts or parameters.
I am okay if BD passes on my e-mail address to you. You could send me a note and I would be happy to talk with you. I apologize if you feel I have dodged your question.
I'm sorry this seems late, but I had to find that rascal Buddy Larsen and get his permission to use his email. He was happy to oblige, and I want to add that I have picked his brilliant mind over this, as well. Email him and he will connect us.
Thank you so much!
I think I have to spread the address out ....
buddy last name at geemale dot com. Scrunch it together after you decode it with your Magic Decoder Ring. :)
I will stick this same comment up later in case you miss this.
Wanted to express my gratitude for the yeoman work MF is doing in keeping up with this government gale wind we are fated to endure for the nonce.
...also, among the many many reasons that the producers of any mandated product should not be unionized, what if all public employee unions decided to say, take 2010 off, with full pay? What would we --or POTUS or congress, desire, or be able to, do about it? Where are our tools, short of the November election?
We had a teachers' strike in Billings several years ago and both of my kids were affected. Upshot: the days when the schools were closed were made up by extending the school year and on Saturdays. Alleged reason: to meet the state requirements. Apparent reason to me: so teachers got paid (at the higher rate) for the days they would otherwise have missed. So the teachers had almost nothing at risk when they went out, knowing that the days would be made up and paid for later. I sent my daughter to maybe half of the makeup Saturday sessions. Still mad about that one.
State requires 180 of teaching. If an area loses five days due to snow, they have to make it up if it surpasses the built-in snow days in every calendar.
I'm amazed you experienced a teachers' strike. They don't happen often.
Is Cash for Refrigerators so bad ? Four years ago my local utility picked up my old refrig for $45. My new frig uses about 40 kwh/mo, about 100 KWH /mo less than my old one , which translates in to about $7/mo less. That means less capacity that the utility has to invest in.
Granted, I would have bought the new frig regardless, as the old one was nearly dead, but I don't see how the utility got hurt that much.
The town hall videos are amazing, but the one that really got my attention was the astonishingly snide and condescending "listening session" conducted by an AARP hack who felt her job consisted of telling paid-up AARP members to shut up so she could listen to them. Were they a rowdy group, shouting so loud that no one could hear individual questions? Not at all. They were speaking one at a time, in complete sentences, with force but also with courtesy. The woman running the meeting, in contrast, should find another line of work.
I never really intended to sign up for organization, though they're always writing me about it. This pretty much does it. They'll never get a penny from me.
I notice that the AARP website has no provision for contact by email. Smart choice for them.