What Do You Think?

I saw this video from Creative Evolution; it's called The Truth About School (in a two-minute video). 

I think that it is simplistic and probably less-than-accurate about all public education because I don't agree all schools are doing this.  But I do think that our country is still stuck on many issues around public education.

That's the funny thing - if you don't like the current ed reform ideas, you're "for the status quo."  Nope.  But there are other things that need to happen but the problem is that basically there's a lot of busy "look at what we got done" in public education, rather than "look at the outcomes for these students."  You can "do" a lot and it may not help kids (especially when some people seem more interesting in their resume than actual outcomes). 

But I think this two-minute video does start a conversation.

Based on your experience with public education so far, tell us this:

1) what is one thing from your own education that you wish was in your child's school?
2) name 1-3 things you'd get rid of in public education
3) name 1-3 things you'd add (if public ed in WA state was fully funded)
4) what is one thing that you believe would truly help your student's teacher(s)?
5) what is your biggest worry - today - about your child's education?
6) what is your biggest worry - today - about the Seattle School district?
7) Robert Reich said that he thinks testing today is hurting learning.  Do you agree? 
8) Reich also says class size matters.  Do you agree? 
9) Reich also says vocational ed needs to come back.  Do you agree?
10) Reich also says the government should offer two free years of community college?  Do you like that idea?
11) For whatever reason, Rep Chad Magendanz put out this chart that shows that teachers in Washington State make more money than the median household income.   I'm a little confused on how it shows a climb in income for teachers because 1) it starts in about 2008-2009 which is when the recession started (and teachers haven't had a raise in about six years) and 2) I have to wonder if this would be true for all states.  (It says the data is from OSPI.)

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So my question is, do you think paying teachers well - both to keep the good ones and, more importantly, to attract new teachers - should not be a priority?  And if teachers live in an area like ours (or San Francisco), wouldn't you need to pay them enough to be able to live in the city where they teach?

Please note: this is thread for any and all thoughts.  As we have seen, many people discuss about different programs but we are not going to be arguing the rightness or wrongness of any program but rather, tally up how many similarities and differences we see.  If your comment does not follow the thread but challenges/attacks others comments, it will be deleted. 


Patrick said…
There's a lot of questions there!

1. Quite a few things. It's hard to choose. A 7-period day for middle and high school. Starting times more like 8:30 than 7:45. Assignments that were collected and returned individually, approximately weekly, so there was time to learn from my mistakes, rather than in a notebook once or twice a quarter. Good math textbooks. Good textbooks in other subjects. Teaching English grammar and usage so that they can write a correct paper; most UW undergrads from Washington schools can't understand what I'm talking about when I tell them to capitalize proper nouns and not to alphabetize by initial articles. Ample PE facilities; every elementary school had 3-4 football/soccer fields, the middle schools had those plus swimming pools. Even schools here who did have them now have them covered up by portables.

2. Computer-adaptive standardized tests, except voluntary for college admissions. Giving students a hard time getting PE waivers. I'd like students to have PE, but not if they only have a 6 period day. Excessive dependence on calculators in math class (encouraged by the textbook! "See if the equations are the same by graphing both of them on your calculator!")

3. Free all-day K, field trips, and a reasonable amount of school supplies. Full-time support staff of nurse, librarian, counselors. 7-period day.

4. Smaller classes or an aid? I'd like to hear teachers' responses.

5. Not enough feedback about how she's doing until the end of the quarter.

6. Capacity. There's not enough space already, yet District management poo-poos the problem, disbands facmac that was attempting to talk about the problem, and the City demands 100 more classrooms for pre-K.

7. Absolutely. Over the 13 year period, the students are losing a year and a half of learning time to testing and test prep.

8. Yes. How can teachers grade with feedback or personalize when there are so many kids they're responsible for? Kids work a lot better when they have personal relationships and that's very difficult when they're just one of 35 or more.

9. Yes. The middle class are being priced out of college. At least let them take up good trades.

10. Yes, but if I were king all higher ed would be free or very cheap for those qualified. Best investment a state can make.

11. I am dubious about the data in that chart too. But teachers should be well-paid, not a career you have to sacrifice for.
Anonymous said…
I am perplexed as to those teacher salaries. The top of the state salary schedule is around 64 k for maximum experience and max education credits.
yes teachers in king and pierce and Snohomish counties make more.

the continuing lack of respect for teachers in the media is disgusting . ..

Senator Tim Sheldon's absurd comments in regard to teacher strikes is amazing given the legislature's ongoing disregard for McCleary and the Supreme Court.

Gates Foundation buying off groups to influence media and guide public thought seems repulsive in a Republic .... but is completely in line with Citizens United US Supreme Court decision.

In the words of actor William Bendix in the "Life of Riley":
What a revolving development this is

-- Dan Dempsey
Anonymous said…
7) Yes, testing is hurting learning because we’ve gone too far. I’m more OK with some testing than most teachers but if it’s good, straight-forward testing. I like Common Core overall in terms of national standards, but the glimpses of the test I saw last week proctoring are ridiculous. You can have a good test on bad standards or a bad test on good standards (what I saw was more of the latter).
8) Class size matters more in some areas than others. Algebra 1 should have smaller class sizes as it’s the base – not that IB/AP/pre-calculus students don’t hit their math walls and need help but they can/should have larger class sizes to help all Algebra 1 students have smaller classes.
9) YES YES YES. Vocational education needs a strong comeback – admittedly when I entered teaching after a career I thought those classes were a throwback and was like “so what” when a principal lamented their loss because he felt they were reaching students whom otherwise we were losing. He was so right! That’s where some of the McCleary money should go because some of those classes cost $$. Try to have a construction class with almost no budget. It took Seattle forever to get a skills center and unlike the rest of the state there isn’t a central location devoted to Vocational Ed (now called CTE – Career and Technical Education). We need strong AP/IB and we need strong Voc Ed.
11) Somewhere near 60% of teachers who hold a master’s degree and many, like me, hold two. Thus I would expect it to be decent - somewhat near the median (probably higher than the median in rural areas and lower for us in Seattle/King). IF accurate my suspicion is that due to the economic downturn some teachers may have stayed in teaching as they actually had a job (I did – I tried leaving, but by staying I now finally earn more than I did before teaching). Studies I’ve read suggest that more people go into teaching during economic downturns (they like the idea of helping kids) than when the economy is hot (I’d like to teach but I’ll make so much more money in ____). Even if teachers make more than the median be sure to remember the education levels (we keep paying for education and clock hours seemingly forever – want to lower the raises, lower the add-on educational expenses).

Anonymous said…
I don't see how the wage chart can be at all based on fact. Not only have teachers not gotten a raise, I'd be curious the number of retiring teachers, as the last of the boomers walk out the door the state should see a pretty significant drop in what they're spending on teacher pay. I'm curious what the retirement numbers actually are as it feels like a lot. Actually the NCIS data bears that out, http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d13/tables/dt13_211.60.asp there's a 3k drop in average salary from 2010 t0 2011. I can't find a statewide average on OSPI, I think he's tracking what one teacher might make over their career versus what teachers on average are paid.

Glad I left Seattle
Anonymous said…
We don't have choir in our middle school. It was one of my favorite classes when I went. It was open to all and it was fun. I also took woodshop, metalshop, leathershop, and cooking when I was in middle school and there are next to no electives at all now. It's all core classes, all the time. For electives we have instrumental music, language, computers, and drama, which was just recently offered. Reich is right on in everything. My biggest worry is the charter schools entering our city and the fact that our district is reform minded. So I see us heading in the direction of other cities in the US where public education is decimated. I'm hearing rumors from the bargaining team that things are already contentious due to this mindset. As for the salary schedule, I'm above that median salary, but this is after 14 years and 2 masters degrees. My husband has a BA and makes a lot more than I do. That legislator is out to destroy public education and needs to be voted out of office.

Tired Teacher

TT, Magendanz is a huge charter supporter so your worry is not unfounded.

Also, McLaren continues to say that there should be a discussion about SPS being a charter authorizer on the "we can chart our own destiny about what charters are in our district."

That is true to about 10%. Why? Because:
1) any charter can go thru the Charter Commission to get a charter - they would not have to go thru the district
2) a district can certainly try to limit charters in their district to specific types or locations - but if the district does this in a pattern, they could get sued. Location and type is not a legal consideration unless it is to serve at-risk kids.

I can't support anyone for School Board who cannot do the basic homework to learn this stuff. (Staff, in their presentation, did not explain this and that's why Board members should NEVER base their entire decision on what staff says.)
Anonymous said…
Every question or problem mentioned here would be corrected if you go to the root of the problem. I’m not going to get into the world problems, but will grantee it would solve them as well if you fix the problem.

The flaw in the 14th amendment:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and the State wherein they reside.
Children of undocumented (illegal) immigrants who were, like their parents, born outside the United States have no more rights to U.S. citizenship than their parents do. Despite various legislative proposals, the U.S. immigration laws currently contain no special provisions based on the age at which a person arrived in the United States.

However, children of undocumented immigrants who were born in the United States become U.S. citizens automatically. The parent(s)' immigration status is not taken into account. This is due to the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Aren't People Trying to Change or Amend This Constitutional Right?

Yes, there are many people within the United States who believe that children of illegal immigrants should not be given U.S. citizenship status. They argue that allowing such children citizenship was not the original intent of the drafters of the 14th Amendment (who didn't even address the topic of immigration, because no limits then existed on who could enter the United States in the first place).

Like the national debt, the cost of living and like all other graphs that keep going up, this is a problem this country is facing until you fix it.

If you don’t believe me then ask a minute of your time to watch the runaway train.


Anonymous said…
I'm with Patrick on many of his points.

As for the chart, I wonder if it's because the state median income took a drop. People got laid off, shift to P/T, or took a pay cut. For many people, they also saw their wages stagnated or reduced. I think this is why there's support to increase teacher's wage, but people hope theirs would be raised too. My friend is a nurse and she makes $80,000/year, but that's working night shift, OT, major holidays, and on-call without long breaks through the year. Her partner was laid off during the downturn for 1.5 years. He was in banking and now back at work in a different sector, but making less. Her job is stable, but very physically demanding and exceedingly stressful. They struggle and are less certain of their financial future. If you were to ask them about class size, more money for teachers and schools, they say "yes" to all. But they also will say "no" to more taxes. They want a better redistribution and efficiency of where their tax dollars go.

In many ways I agree, the state will pull in more tax dollars this year even without new taxes. The legislators build in tax loopholes and give tax breaks to benefit coporations which don't benefit the majority of taxpayers in this state. We aren't getting back a fair ROI even indirectly. I voted for many levies and initiatives, including the state income tax one. But since 2006, I've started to educate myself more, and the more I've learned, the more doubts I have of how well this state and city spend its tax dollars. There's a real trust issue growing between voters and their state and local representatives. It's worse than I've seen in many years and my dad's family has been here 4 generations.


Patrick said…
Rocky, I am appalled at laying all our problems at immigrants' feet. Generally, they work for pay below what citizens will accept -- either minimum wage if they have work visas or subminimum if they don't, for very unpleasant jobs. In order to work, many of them use false social security numbers, so they are paying in for benefits that they will never receive. The proportion of immigrants we get is smaller than many other countries. There are still so many undocumented workers because a sector of the U.S. business community wants them here so they can exploit them by paying them less than they would have to pay US-born workers.

The economy has gotten more and more productive over the years. The trouble is all the productivity increases go into executive take-home pay instead of to workers or taxes. Especially in states like Washington that don't tax income.
Anonymous said…
Rocky, I can see you are freaking out. But I hope this will help. Please read the Washington Post article.


If you are looking at future healthy economic growth in the US, we actually need more younger, WORKING population to replace and care for our ever aging ones. Our birth rate may not have dipped downward, but has flatten out with slight curve up. That's due to immigration. And yes we need to enforce common sense immigration laws. But we don't need a constitution amendment of the 14th. China has a far bigger headache dealing with the aftermath of its 1child policy.
TheGoodFight said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said…
Yeah right. Everybody needs to go to collage. We need collages really, really bad. And we really need collage for math. Isn't that the point? Make children ready for collage? Looks like our readers need it too.

I like collages too. I especially like the ones made with magazine pages and encaustic wax...

I didn't know they had collage school, "CollageGrad."
Lynn said…
I rarely agree with that poster, but the two of you should know that he often provides information on services required by children who have specific learning disabilities. (Think dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia.) These disabilities often run in families.

It's best to be kind when possible.
Anonymous said…
The courts and the legislature agree that local levies can't pay basic teacher salaries. Whether they can pay extra is not yet decided. What constitutes a basic teacher salary is what needs to be defined, maybe before the end of June.

In regards to comparing a state salary to median income, should we index all state workers to the median state income? No. All state workers, teacher, administrator, and IA state stipends, and politicians salaries, should all be on the same COLA schedule. In tough times, everyone takes a cut.

TheGoodFight said…
Thanks for so eloquently pointing out my typo. Don't worry I'm Teflon coated. So by all means keep the insults coming, they bring out your true colors.

Anonymous said…
Please excuse her she hasn't been the same since being seen wearing that decorative accessory she made out of stinky cat food cans.

Anonymous said…
These disabilities often run in families. Like ADD does.

Wait just a minute.

It is sometimes difficult - on a public education blog - to ignore spelling/grammar, etc.

Unless someone says in the comment, "fyi, I have this issue," how am I to know that?

It's not being mean if you don't know the problem.
Anonymous said…
So you are using multiple ids?
BTW spell check commonly swithes words. I've had it happen many times. I just checked her blog and found 10 mistakes. I've also see a few typos in your post here.

Not perfect

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