Just Right?

Coin-Stacks---ROHWe here in Brevard County, Florida are in the midst of a debate as to whether to increase the sales tax by one half of one percent with the additional money going to the education budget. That debate will be settled by the voters in November, but as children return to the classroom, we expect to hear comments from many people, particularly candidates running for County Commissioner and for seats on the School Board on the level of pay for teachers.

The debate on teachers’ pay has raged forever. Some say that teachers are grossly underpaid because of the hours they put in during the school year. Others say that the rate of pay is too high for a job where a person is working only part of the year.

Now an article on the Forbes website written by economist Jeffrey Dorfman has come out and says that the pay level is “just right.”

First, the facts about what teachers actually get paid. Teachers make much more than most people think. If one uses a less detailed data source, like the Census Bureau’s Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics data set, you would think teachers are severely underpaid. With that data, the best category you can get is for elementary and secondary schools. You would find such employees making and average of $2,913 per month during the school year, suggesting pay of perhaps under $30,000 on average, given that teachers do not get paid year-round in most cases. However, that category is all workers at elementary and secondary schools, not just teachers.

Using the latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ National Occupational Employment Wage Estimates, we get quite a different picture. Now we can be much more detailed in the categories we study. For example, preschool, primary, secondary, and special education teachers earn an average of $54,740 per year. If we drop the preschool teachers, salaries rise even more. Elementary and middle school teachers average $56,420 per year and secondary (high school) teachers earn an average of $58,170. These figures place teachers comfortably above the national average of $46,440 reported by the BLS (link at the top of the list here).

Quick Hits

Here we go again with some “quick hits” – stories of note that we want you to know about, but don’t flesh out into an entire post. And once again, our “Rule 5” lady reflects the start of the baseball season.

George Washington has been selected as the “greatest foe ever” of the British according to a headline in the Telegraph. Of course, the headline is somewhat misleading and one has to read the article to see the criteria:

To qualify, each commander had to come from the 17th century onwards – the period covered by the museum’s collection – and had to have led an army in the field against the British, thus excluding political enemies, like Adolf Hitler.

Personally, we think we would have chosen Napoleon Bonaparte as his desire was for to rule and conquer the British while George Washington simply wanted to break away from the British empire. However, when you consider the comparative resources at their disposal as well as the ability of Washington to take the field against the best army in the world while having mostly rag tag soldiers, we can see Washington being chosen.

That being said, we then started to think who would be chosen as “America’s Greatest Foe” under the same criteria.

Our first thought was President Obama, but as he has never led anyone, anywhere, much less onto a battlefield, he wouldn’t qualify. Then we realized that our first thought of our greatest foe is our current president.

That’s just depressing.

After a teacher in Charlotte, North Carolina broke up a fight between two middle school kids, one child was so grateful for the intervention of the teacher he gave her a hug.

Unfortunately, hugging a teacher is against school policy so the kid was written up and then suspended.

Background Checks and Volunteers.

It is one fear of many parents today – the innocence of their children being taken away by an sexual predator adult or an abduction by an adult.

To combat this, governments and groups – everything from states to Little League – have passed laws and rules requiring that people who come in contact with children have background checks performed on them.

The theory is performing a background check will eliminate child predators. Yet as with most things, theory is one thing, practice is another.

In the Sunshine State of Florida, if you step onto a school campus in any other capacity other than a parent and have contact with children, you must have a background check done on your life. If you are a teacher, you must have a background check. If you are a maintenance worker, you must have a background check. Here in our county, if you are a contractor, your employees must have background checks. If you are a volunteer mother or father working on a bake sale, you must have a background check. If you volunteer for a school field trip, you must have a background check. If you go to talk to your child’s teacher, you don’t need a background check. But if you volunteer to help as a teacher’s aid, you need a background check.

The fees for the background checks themselves range anywhere from $70 – $115, depending on a variety of factors. Some schools and programs will help pay for the cost of the background check. Others require the would-be volunteer to foot the entire cost. If you are a teacher, the school system pays for your background check.

That, of course, leads to the strange situation where a person who is looking to donate their time and efforts have to pay for the privilege, while a person who will be making money from working at the school has their background fees paid by the government.

Aside from the costs of the background checks, one has to question their effectiveness.

There are literally hundreds of sites dedicated to teachers as sexual predators.

The site “School Teacher News” has lists and interactive maps describing and showing the locations of the 411 scandals involving teachers in 2010, the 464 scandals in 2009, the 478 scandals in 2008 and the 263 scandals to date in 2011.

A Few Follow Ups To Previous Posts

Once in awhile, we like to go back and “follow up” on certain posts we have made in the past to see how issues are being resolved, where they are now, and what is happening. In this day and age of 24 hour a day news spoon fed to us in seven minute segments, we often forget what has been said before.

For example, we had mentioned that despite increased costs to all and religious reservations of some, the Institute of Medicine had made recommendations to the Obama administration that health insurers should be required to carry birth control for women without co-payments. Today, President Obama announced that starting in 2013, insurers will have to do just that.

Health insurance plans must cover birth control as preventive care for women, with no copays, the Obama administration said Monday in a decision with far-reaching implications for health care as well as social mores.

The requirement is part of a broad expansion of coverage for women’s preventive care under President Barack Obama’s health care law. Also to be covered without copays are breast pumps for nursing mothers, an annual “well-woman” physical, screening for the virus that causes cervical cancer and for diabetes during pregnancy, counseling on domestic violence, and other services.

Once again, the Obama administration is forcing something on companies and trying to control the market. If a company or individual does not want to pay for contraceptives, why should they be forced to do so? And yes, we said “individual.”

Quick Hits

Another in our series on articles of interest that need to be published, but don’t warrant or can’t support a full length post. The accompanying graphic is to satisfy “Rule 5” recommendations.

First up is this article on how a Colorado Teachers’ Union is looking out for their membership:

Colorado teachers union challenges arrest disclosure rule

Colorado’s largest teachers union is challenging new rules requiring schools to notify parents about teacher arrests.

The union wants a judge to throw out the rules because they may harm a teacher’s reputation, noting that arrests represent an accusation of wrongdoing, not a finding of guilt. The union also said it’s possible that a teacher could be mistaken for someone else arrested with the same name.

Under the new rules, school districts must notify students’ parents when employees are arrested or charged with any felonies or misdemeanors involving sexual assault, child abuse or indecent exposure. Drug arrests are supposed to be disclosed, but not arrests for marijuana possession.

When we first read about this, we thought the teacher’s union had a point. The concept of “innocent until proven guilty” is a foundation of the American justice system.

About Those Teachers Who Want Us to “Think About the Kids?” They Cheat.

A 55 year old lawyer turned principle turned “instructional superintendent” has resigned from the Washington DC school systems amidst claims that the school of which he once was principal cheated on standardized tests while he was at the school.

(Wayne) Ryan, 55, who practiced law in Texas before becoming a principal, won a 2005 Distinguished Educational Leadership Award, sponsored by The Washington Post.

But his career took off under )then-Chancellor Michelle A.) Rhee, who hailed him as a rock star when reading and math scores on standardized tests grew dramatically from 2006 to 2009. Reading proficiency rates spiked from 24 percent to 85 percent, while math proficiency surged from 10 percent to 63 percent. He became a poster image for D.C. school reform in the Rhee era. “Are you the next Wayne Ryan?” said a principal recruitment ad.

But Noyes was also one of more than 100 D.C. public schools with classrooms flagged by authorities during that period for elevated rates of answer sheet erasures in which incorrect responses were changed to correct ones. A USA Today analysis of erasure data published in March found one seventh-grade classroom at Noyes with an average of nearly 13 wrong-to-right erasures per student. The District-wide average for seventh-graders that year was less than one.

Ryan is not the only one.

Viagra For Teachers Lawsuit in Michigan Rises Again.

Back on March 10, 2011, we wrote about how the state of Michigan was being sued by a teacher’s union for failing to provide Viagra under the teacher’s drug plan.

As we said at the time, the teacher’s union dropped the lawsuit after much publicity.

The MacIver Institute is now reporting that the action to have Viagra covered under the teacher’s prescription plans is back, albeit in a different, quieter, less publicized form.

In December of last year MPS employee Henry Sampson filed a complaint with the Equal Rights Division of the State of Wisconsin’s Department of Workforce Development, arguing that excluding coverage for the gender-specific diagnosis of erectile dysfunction violated the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act (WFEA).

Sampson is not exactly a pauper.

Teachers to Rate Each Other to “Improve Perfomance.” Flying Pigs Unavailable for Comment.

Imagine your job performance being rated by a colleague, one that you are going to see daily. They are not a supervisor, but on the same pay level and supervisory level as you.

How’s that sound to you?

On some levels, it sounds pretty sweet. After all, who is going to rat out a colleague? Who is going to say “you aren’t going to get a pay raise, my friend, because you suck at your job?”

On the other hand, what a great chance for revenge. If you don’t like someone, you can go and just kill them on their evaluation.

“Peer evaluation” is something that is advocated from academia. It something that works well in utopian vacuums, but in the real world, such systems often fail for the reasons cited above.

So it is with some surprise that the local school board has announced that peer reviews of teachers will be part of the measure of a teacher’s evaluations starting this fall.

« Previous Entries