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Education Government The Almighty Buck Politics

Higher Pay for Math and Science Teachers 471

Posted by samzenpus
from the thank-the-union dept.
Coryoth writes "Following up a previous story, it seems that the Kentucky effort to provide increased pay to teachers with qualifications in mathematics, physics, and chemistry has been gutted. Teachers objected to differential pay, and that portion of the bill was removed. At the same time California has just put forward a similar measure, with differential pay for teachers qualified in mathematics and science. Shockingly 40% of mathematics teachers in California are not fully qualified in the subject — a higher percentage of unqualified teachers than any other subject. Is the Californian effort any more likely to succeed, or is it destined to be similarly gutted? Is there a solution to the woeful lack of qualified mathematics teachers that the Teachers' Union will find acceptable?"
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Higher Pay for Math and Science Teachers

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  • wow (Score:5, Funny)

    by Washizu (220337) <bengarvey.comcast@net> on Thursday March 08, 2007 @05:28PM (#18281240) Homepage
    "Shockingly 40% of mathematics teachers in California are not fully qualified in the subject "

    Wow, only 70% are fully qualified?

  • hm. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Wakko Warner (324) * on Thursday March 08, 2007 @05:29PM (#18281248) Homepage Journal
    Perhaps not surprisingly, California ranks almost dead last [morganquitno.com] in education.
    • Maybe we could save some of that money spent on establishing military control of nations on the other side of the globe and use it to fund our educational system.
      • by mandelbr0t (1015855) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @05:39PM (#18281346) Journal
        Nah. If capitalism has taught me anything, it's that it's easier to force someone else to be educated and do all the thinking for you. That way you can be ignorant of actual effort required to do a particular task and solve all problems with a whip.

        See how easy that is? In mathematics it's called reducing the problem. The Americans are *behind* in education. Any attempt to catch up by improving the education system would necessarily require a period where the Americans admitted somebody else was better than them. Solution: build bigger and better bombs and enslave weak, intellectual societies.

        Hmmmm. I think they need to invade smarter, more advanced countries though. Time to get out of Canada, I guess.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by endianx (1006895)
        Nah, keep the military control of other nations, and draft anybody who doesn't get a certain GPA. That would motivate the hell outta me!

        (I'm kidding though. Horrible idea.)
      • Not a good idea (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Slashdot Parent (995749) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @06:01PM (#18281706)
        I, for one, would definitely like to keep control of the schools away from the federal government.

        Look at the No Child Left Behind debacle? Slowly, county by county, districts are telling the Department of Education to "shove it". My county is among those who have done so, and I'm proud of that.

        For now, the federal government only funds like 2% of school budgets, so schools can defy the feds relatively painlessly. But what if the federal government provided 20% of the funding? 80%? You'd get the same mess we are in with the highway funds. As it stands right now, all congress has to do is tell a state, "Change XYZ state law for us, or you can build your own damn roads." I don't want to see that happen with education.
        • Empathy (Score:3, Insightful)

          I completely agree with the sentiment that we should keep the federal government out of our schools. If they are going to take the money, and if they are going to go to great lengths to squelch (or infinitely regulate) private and home-schooling, then we might as well have some say on where that money is spent.

          The federal government may only directly fund 2% of the average school budget but through their control of the distribution of money they can influence the other 98%. All money (well, a vast majorit
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by antarctican (301636)
        And this is exactly the solution. Instead of only paying certain teachers more, how about paying them all what they deserve and raising the standard of eduction in all subjects?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by wiggles (30088)
          What do you mean by 'what they deserve'? Personally, I think a teacher who isn't certified to teach math doesn't deserve to be paid as much as one who is certified to teach math. How is it that other unions, like electricians, educate and certify their members to do specific jobs, and those with higher union certifications get paid more (like those certified to do high voltage vs. residential), but the teachers' union wants teachers who aren't qualified to do their jobs to make the same as ones who are?
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by norton_I (64015)
            Teachers unions are often fine with paying teachers more for qualifications, for instance if you get a post-graduate degree many districts will put you on a higher pay scale. I suspect what they are against here is having higher pay scales for math and science than other subjects.

            At the university level, this has long been the standard, each department has a different pay scale which is heavily influenced by the market for that profession. Science, engineering, and business professors make more than arts
        • Re:Education (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Copid (137416) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @06:47PM (#18282444)

          And this is exactly the solution. Instead of only paying certain teachers more, how about paying them all what they deserve and raising the standard of eduction in all subjects?
          Because they don't all have the same earning power if they decide not to be teachers. The point of a salary is not to reward merit or make the world a better place. The point of a salary is to attract qualified people to do a job. Qualified technical people are more expensive than qualified history teachers. That doesn't mean they're better people or somehow more deserving on a moral scale. It simply means that they have other options and won't respond to the same salary that will attract a good history teacher. Not acknowledging basic economics is just about the worst thing you can do when trying to hire people or buy goods, and it looks like the school districts are doing just that at the behest of the unions.

          Sure, teachers should probably make more money across the board, but the idea that you pay somebody with a highly marketable education the same as somebody who doesn't have nearly as many job prospects simply doesn't work in the real world. I'd be more than happy to consider teaching math or science as a career. I like teaching, I'm reasonably good at getting ideas across, and I have the technical background. As it stands, though, going into teaching could cost me tens of thousands of dollars per year in lost income. That's just too big of a jump to make, so I don't consider it a viable option.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Brigadier (12956)


      one of the reasons for this is a.) competitive pay, b.) suitable work conditions. I actually considered going into teaching ( BS in architectural engineering) The process involved taking a rather intensive multi discipline test. A test that dealt with college level concepts in everything from math, to the arts, to humanities. You also have to be enrolled in a teaching program. So in order to be a teacher in California you have to a.) have a degree in some field of study. b.) pass the qualification exams (se
  • by User 956 (568564) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @05:31PM (#18281284) Homepage
    Is there a solution to the woeful lack of qualified mathematics teachers that the Teachers' Union will find acceptable?

    I don't see why paying people based on merit (versus seniority) is unacceptable. That's how most of the real world works.
    • by porkThreeWays (895269) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @05:41PM (#18281362)
      People ALWAYS say this and it's crap. That's not how the real world works. Maybe that's how it works at burger king, but in almost every industry I've dealt with there are people whom aren't in their current positions because of merit. I work in government now and people constantly complain that "X person should be fired, that's the way it works in the private sector". News flash, I've worked extensively in both private and public sectors, and the same crap goes on in each. There really isn't a whole lot of difference. People know people and get promoted unfairly. Unions exist and make it hard to fire people. People sleep with their boss. People obtain cushy jobs where there work isn't noticed and do nothing all day. It happens everywhere. I'm not saying it's right, but I am saying that's how the real world works. Not this fantasy land of moving people and salaries and resources like a commodity.
      • by garcia (6573) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @06:05PM (#18281772) Homepage
        People ALWAYS say this and it's crap. That's not how the real world works.

        I've worked in both and I'm currently working in the public sector. It DOES NOT work the same way in the private sector as it does in the public. People here do absolutely nothing but wander around complaining how busy they are. As I've said twice in recent memory including on the last thread about this topic [slashdot.org], the only thing that the vast majority of public sector workers are good at is pretending they're busy.

        These people would not survive for 10 minutes where I've worked in the private sector. They would fucking die if they had a 30 minute lunch break and two 15s that were mandated by schedule. They would seriously break down in tears if they were evaluated on hard data instead of gut feeling about their success rates. "Oh wow, I only converted 8%? It really felt like 80%. Something must be wrong there with that data."
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by AK Marc (707885)
          It DOES NOT work the same way in the private sector as it does in the public.

          Yeah, people in the public sector work for a living, and I just post on slashdot all day long.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by stephanruby (542433)
        "People ALWAYS say this and it's crap. That's not how the real world works."

        I agree. I'm not the original poster, but I'll try to amend some of what he said:

        I don't see why paying people based on merit (versus seniority) is unacceptable. That's how most of the real world *is supposed to* work. I basically agree with your correction Pork3Ways, but the fact that your private sector boss gives preference to his incompetent golf buddy shouldn't negate the idea of fighting against seniority-based systems. I
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pogopogo (464296)
      How would you determine teacher merit?

      Test scores? Student evaluations?

      The problem with comparing education to the "real world" is that education is not a business. Teachers have to take every student that shows up in their class. Businesses get to define their own market.
      • by Copid (137416) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @05:55PM (#18281616)
        Well, I wouldn't say that math and science teachers have more "merit" that warrants higher pay, but the price for a good generally correlates with its value at its next best use. Somebody who is good at math or science (hopefully a qualification for teaching math or science) usually has pretty solid pay options should they choose to go elsewhere. Not acknowledging that in your pay scale is just begging for a shortage of qualified people.

        It's not a matter of "merit" or "fairness." It's a matter of acknowledging that most people who leave serious technical jobs to teach incur a serious opportunity cost. Limiting your candidate pool to people who would do the job at any price is not really a good idea.
    • > I don't see why paying people based on merit (versus seniority) is unacceptable. That's how most of the real world works.

      But you don't understand. The schools aren't about the students, they are all about the teachers unions. In exactly the same way the big three automakers slowly morphed from being about making cars into social programs for union autoworkers. It is what unions do, and when it is a union in control of a government monopoly like education it gets insane. The schools now exist for the benefit of the teachers, students are at best a useful prop for lobbying for more money. Reality has long been divorced from what goes on inside government schools. Untested fads by fashionable marxists intellectuals get rolled out into classrooms nationwide without any sort of testing, political correctness runs rampant, etc. Accountability is almost non existant. Unless a teacher gets caught in a politically incorrect belief or having sex with a student their odds of being fired for malpractice isn't measurable.

      And yet the beauracy is so wretched that no sane person wants to teach even with the fairly good pay (and it IS fairly good pay in most states for the hours worked and the level of education required) in most states and the all but certain job security mentioned above, A doctorate in math or science is not good enough to qualify one to teach unless you can first endure a couple of semesters of mind numbing 'teaching' courses designed to both indoctrinate politically correct views and raise an artifical barrier to entry into the profession.
      • by larkost (79011) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @06:23PM (#18282050)
        If you are going to do this rant, I think you have to include a bit more about how parent suing to get their children special treatment has warped how things get done. Lawsuits are a constant problem in public schools. My mother is a Special Ed teacher and has to deal with being on the periphery of 2-3 lawsuits every year. None of them ever go to court, but they all wind up very expensive for the school district in one way or another. The principals life is almost consumed with coordinating for all of them.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by fermion (181285)
        You know, the auto manufacturers offered employee benefits to attract the best workers. If you were the best worker, would you work for the person that offered the least compensation? Likewise, experience is worth something. Do you want your car built by a bunch of 18 year old kids that are thinking about their next orgy, or a 30 years person who knows everything that can go wrong, and needs to keep the job to support his or her family.

        I have worked in the private sector, government, and academia. In

      • by NJVil (154697) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @07:08PM (#18282770)
        You have little idea of what you're talking about, and your anti-school agenda is clearly showing. Sentence by sentence:

        1) "But you don't understand." - Sophistry.
        2) "The schools aren't about the students, they are all about the teachers unions." - Opinion.
        3) "In exactly the same way the big three automakers slowly morphed from being about making cars into social programs for union autoworkers." - Exaggeration and opinion. The Big Three are having issues for many reasons, one of which happens to be the unions.
        4) "It is what unions do, and when it is a union in control of a government monopoly like education it gets insane." - Opinion.
        5) "The schools now exist for the benefit of the teachers, students are at best a useful prop for lobbying for more money." - Opinion. Sorry to hear you feel this way.
        6) "Reality has long been divorced from what goes on inside government schools." - Opinion.
        7) "Untested fads by fashionable marxists intellectuals get rolled out into classrooms nationwide without any sort of testing, political correctness runs rampant, etc." - Opinion. While you might have the basis for some sort of legitimate argument here, I'd argue you've got the same thing in most corporations. What's the latest management fad or catchphrase these days?
        8) "Accountability is almost non existant." Groundless opinion. You have almost no idea what you're speaking of with this one. Read up on NCLB and learn some.
        9) "Unless a teacher gets caught in a politically incorrect belief or having sex with a student their odds of being fired for malpractice isn't measurable." - Opinion, although close to reality. More of the problem with teaching comes from the fact that teaching and administrative jobs are often political in nature, which is the heart of the problem. Most good unions will work with administrators to get bad teachers out of the classroom, but they will insist that the administrators do it the right and legal way. More than a few administrators, though, because they're incompetent political hacks, don't know how to build a case to fire a teacher. Before a teacher receives tenure, he's got little protection, and administrators should do a better job of culling the bad ones sooner.
        10) "And yet the beauracy is so wretched that no sane person wants to teach even with the fairly good pay (and it IS fairly good pay in most states for the hours worked and the level of education required) in most states and the all but certain job security mentioned above," - Opinion. I'm quite sane. I enjoy teaching. I love my job despite some of the stupidity that goes on. However, I hear similar complaints from friends and relatives in the corporate world, so it's a wash. I will not argue that the pay is bad because it's not. Still who wouldn't want to be paid more for what they do?
        11) "A doctorate in math or science is not good enough to qualify one to teach unless you can first endure a couple of semesters of mind numbing 'teaching' courses designed to both indoctrinate politically correct views and raise an artifical barrier to entry into the profession." - Opinion. Terribly misguided opinion. Just because you know "math" doesn't mean you know how to teach it. Just because you've got a PhD in Molecular Biology doesn't mean you should be in a classroom with special education or ESL students. A few semesters of 'mind-numbing teaching courses' along with some child/adolescent psychology can do wonders for adults who have never worked with children before.

        You've written nothing that petulant high school students haven't written before (all you needed to include was "boring teachers" and you'd have pegged yourself as a 17-year old whose Republican or Libertarian daddy filled his head with ideas about evil unions and abolishing government.
    • Yes, skill-based compensation appears to be a radical concept in the halls of academia...or at least the public school variant thereof. Of course, we are talking about PUBLIC schools and teachers' UNIONS. Perhaps we are not in a dialog with a bastion of capitalists. ;-)

      Some are trying:

      http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion /oped/articles/2006/03/29/taking_on_the_teachers_u nions/ [boston.com]

      Perhaps my favorite line from that article is:

      Catherine Boudreau, president of the Massachusetts Teach
    • by Kohath (38547)
      That's how most of the real world works.

      Works for whom? Paying based on seniority works for the union and that's what the union cares about.

      Why should they care about anything else? Are there any real, serious threats to the teachers union?

      No. So they can demand what they want and offer very little in return. What are you going to do about it?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rainman_bc (735332)
      Okay, I'm going to grand-stand for a minute.

      My wife has two degrees - a BA in Geography and a B.Ed. Only a B.Ed. is required to work as a teacher here in Canada. My opinion's a bit biased. She's gone to considerable expense to get her degrees. She gets constantly kicked around by school boards here because of her lack of experience - they pass her applications on by for on-call positions - 20k/yr jobs that have no guarantees or benefits.

      They make her fight her ass off for a job that starts her off at $15
  • Solution (Score:5, Insightful)

    by timtwobuck (833954) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @05:31PM (#18281290)
    Gutt the union? They're preventing progression and have become too in control. We're letting them run the show.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Coryoth (254751)

      Gutt the union? They're preventing progression and have become too in control. We're letting them run the show.

      Sure you can say "gut the Teachers' Union", but that simply isn't a practicable solution - it simply isn't going to happen, not in the real world. It might be reasonable to suggest measures that weaken the clout of the union, but one way or another you're going to have to work around unions if you actually want to provide a pragmatic, practical, solution that you can can reasonably expect to see implemented and have noticeable results. One proposal in California would see student loans waived for math and

      • by Ryan Amos (16972)
        Really?

        Teachers in many southern states (no idea about others, but I know its true in Texas) are not allowed to strike, so the unions really have no meaningful threats other than sick-outs which just get taken from the pool of bad-weather or vacation days. And when a union is powerless like that, people just don't join because they see it as a waste of money, so the union is effectively gutted.

        Not saying it's right, but it is absolutely a practicable solution in many states.
      • Re:Solution (Score:5, Interesting)

        by paeanblack (191171) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @06:07PM (#18281806)
        Sure you can say "gut the Teachers' Union", but that simply isn't a practicable solution - it simply isn't going to happen, not in the real world.

        That's exactly what 11,000 air traffic controllers were thinking back in 1981.

        At least California has a governor that's packing enough brass to make this practicable, assuming he wants to gamble essentially all of his political capital on this move.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by DragonWriter (970822)

          At least California has a governor that's packing enough brass to make this practicable, assuming he wants to gamble essentially all of his political capital on this move.

          Er, California's governor already gambled much of his political capital on a battle with public employees unions, including the teachers' unions and lost once. I don't think he's going there again. Whatever else you might say about him, he hasn't yet had something blow up in his face and then repeated the exact same thing again.

      • Why is the government trying to push more maths and science teachers?

        Do we really need more maths/science students? Yes? Says who? Are they willing to pay for maths/engineering/science graduates? Are salaries in industry such that graduating in maths/engineering/science is worthwhile for students?

        You see, if the government push more science teachers than are required, their salaries will actually fall, the resulting salaries of maths/engineering/science graduates will also fall in the job market as more st
    • If both the Union can be gutted and the school administration / states not screw with the teachers. I hear plenty of first-hand reasons why there is a union in the first place.

      That said, I also hear plenty of reasons why many teachers unions are ineffective. You'd think teachers would be smarter...
      • I also hear plenty of reasons why many teachers unions are ineffective.
        #1: Required membership. Make the Union actually have to work to keeps its members and it will get a hell of a lot better at representing its members.

        On the other hand, the Union is needed, as the States have been showing with the "No School Left Behind Act" they are dead set on centralizing control over them, then fucking them all up equally. After all, there is no last place when everyone is at the bottom.

        I see no problem with
        • I see no problem with the idea of differential pay for teachers in different subjects. Yes, it would suck to be an English teacher and make half as much as the Math teacher, but I'm willing to bet that we can find twice as many qualified English teachers as Math teachers. The moral of the story, pick a more in demand subject.

          It's this way in Universities. Business, medical, and science professors wouldn't be professors if they were paid the small amount the English and Philosophy professors are paid.

    • by Intron (870560)
      What possible reason could you have to believe that things would be better without the union? Will the teachers magically get smarter? Will the administrators magically pull qualified people willing to work for low wages out of thin air? Or will schools in fact use the absense of unions to lay even more stupid and demeaning crap on the already overworked and underpaid teachers?

      Think for a minute before posting.
  • by zCyl (14362) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @05:32PM (#18281300)
    What's more important? A perception of equality between teachers of all subjects, or setting the salaries at the level required to attract teachers qualified to properly educate children in each subject?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Coryoth (254751)

      What's more important? A perception of equality between teachers of all subjects, or setting the salaries at the level required to attract teachers qualified to properly educate children in each subject?

      I think a more pertinent question is who is more important, the teachers, or the students? Ultimately it is the students that are losing here and it appears that, based on difference in demand (apparently qualified math teachers are very hard to come by in California), the most effective solution is going to be incentives to attract more qualified math teachers. What is needed, apparently, is some way to manage to sell that to the unions, or, at the least, a way to muzzle the union on this issue. The forme

    • by zappepcs (820751)
      Ahhh, that is the simplistic view. Mine is probably just as bad, but if unions were not the rule, it would be possible to give merit pay increases to those teachers that do raise the quality of teaching in the school system. For those that are not teaching math and sciences, they should also be able to participate in merit increases. If the merit payments were done on a tiered level, one for qualified certifications, and one for quality of student learning. If the English/language test scores go up, those t
      • differntial pay. So does every corporation on earth, despite plenty of jobs where it is difficult to quantify performance.

        It is not a real issue to determine teacher performance. Everyone knows who the good teachers are.
    • by ranton (36917) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @06:03PM (#18281756)
      Actually the true question is more direct:

      Is the perception of equality more important? Or is the education of our children more important?

      --
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      A perception of equality between teachers of all subjects

      and this is probably at the root of the problem. Since physed teachers make exactly the same salary as math teachers and physed courses basically just require that you show up while mathematics actually requires some work to master, more people try to be physed teachers than math teachers.

      The truth of the matter is, we have far too many physed teachers and not nearly enough math teachers. Frankly, we could do without any physed teachers at all. Math t
  • Awesome (Score:3, Insightful)

    by iridium_ionizer (790600) * on Thursday March 08, 2007 @05:32PM (#18281308)
    Wouldn't it be great to just read a bunch of novels for college and get paid the same ammount as the person that racked their brain while trying to solve differential equations?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mandelbr0t (1015855)
      Yes, because literature is pointless. The people who wrote those novels should be ashamed at writing something with so little use in society.

      How do you rank the "usefulness" of someone's study? By time spent in school? Well then my Ph.D. in Linguistics is more "useful" than your MBA. Just because you're good at differential equations doesn't mean that the world needs to pay more for math and science than art. I can influence the masses a hell of a lot better with good writing than with a carefully deduced s
  • by grahamsz (150076) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @05:33PM (#18281320) Homepage Journal
    There are definitely two types of teacher in the Scientific fields.

    There are certainly plenty of "those who can't", but there are a small subset who believe in the importance of what they are doing to forgo industry and take the lower pay. I was lucky enough to have a few of them in my high school and it probably encouraged me to head into the field i'm in now. One of our math teachers taught us advanced courses that covered things like Number Theory and Abtract Math; he had us demonstrate how to implement and break RSA encryption and why it could be done in a reasonable time. Our two man chemistry department was entirely staffed with Ph. D's, my favorite Physics teacher could at least explain the basics of quantum theory.

    I'm not convinced that salary is everything. It'll certainly solve the "we need more science/math teachers" problem, but it'll probably entice people who were otherwise going to become teachers to specialize in teaching a different field.

    This kind of effort will surely cause rifts in the teaching staff, but offering slightly more money isn't going to entice any experts away from industry or tertiary academia.
    • by bendodge (998616) <.moc.sremmargorpgsb. .ta. .egdodneb.> on Thursday March 08, 2007 @05:48PM (#18281492) Homepage Journal
      My father has been a teacher for almost 20 years, and describes the life cycle of a teacher like this:

      1. Someone becomes a teacher, not for the pay, but in order to better the world.
      2. They are very enthusiastic, and spin their wheels with enthusiasm.
      3. About 5-10 years into it, they get cynical. But with that many years behind them, they are not going to switch careers.
      He also discussed the government programs issue:

      1. A program is created and deployed with high hopes (except for the cynical teachers who have been through the last 3 programs.)
      2. It generates a lot of (fake) steam, then is loopholed and "special-ed"ed out of commission, at which point everybody forgets the name.
      3. The program is about to expire, and everything will go back to traditional mode. This creates a lawsuit hazard, as tens of thousands of students suddenly must pass a test or miss their diploma.
      4. A new program is hastily implemented to keep the scores inflated and keep to the students rolling through (read: no lawsuits).
      Another problem is "special ed". Here is the story behind 85% of the students in special ed:

      1. A student is ultra-lazy and isn't passing.
      2. Parents roar at the teacher, and send their kid to the school shrink. At this point the student pays attention and dons his worst intellect, in order to pass the evaluation.
      3. He is assigned a monitor who is specially responsible to keep an eye on his school (read: make sure he passes).
      4. The student has a lot less work to do (the basic package is 1/2 the homework, and it gets worse as you go along), and the teacher is given a dossier (they have some politically correct name for it) on the kid's "condition", and he is required to tailor his lessons for that child's benefit. (There is naturally no way a teacher can tailor the class for a dozen individual kids.)
      5. The student passes with good grades, and gets his diploma. He got by with minimal work, the parents are happy, and nobody got sued.
      5. Since you can't discriminate against the handicapped or retarded, the diploma has no mention of the fact that the student didn't actually do the work, or that he has any condition.
      Now, the program does do much good for the truly handicapped people, but there are very few people who have anything wrong with them, except for their work ethic.

      As for classroom discipline:

      1. You cannot touch or search a kid without getting sued by the parents or the ACLU.
      2. You cannot dock their grade without the parents getting zealous.
      3. You may only send them to the office, where the overworked principle (who spends "half his time making sure we comply with regulations") tells the student to behave or face staying home from school (sounds silly, but it really irks the parents, who suddenly have a kid to babysit).
      4. If the teacher saw the kid's drugs, the principle calls the students mom to come (no way will he tell the kid to drop his pants for a search without a parent present). The kid is then sent to the school police officer, and I don't know what he does with him.
      5. There isn't much else to do.
      It is a general case of lazy kids, a lawyer-happy ACLU, terrible parenting, and staggering bureaucratic overhead.
  • by Apocalypse111 (597674) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @05:33PM (#18281330) Journal
    Math and Science teachers getting higher pay would be a wonderful thing - but could we not also include Language teachers? I mean, being able to understand and use math and science is one thing, but the ability to take the ideas from those areas and properly communicate them seems to be a dying art. If we can't get these teachers higher pay, then can we at least give them some teeth in the classroom and the ability to enforce stricter standards of written and spoken language?
    • by Ucklak (755284)
      Excelent point. Maybe we can get rid of thie Ebonics [wikipedia.org] thing once and for all.

      California not only recognized it as a primary language for blacks but tried to teach it as well.
      • by rossz (67331)
        Wrong. Ebonics was used used in one school in Oakland. They tried to get it to qualify as a second language so they could get ESL special funding, but that that was smacked down big time.
  • Most likely it was mainly the unqualified, or those with history - and other low-dollar skills - that were complaining

    Sure, history etc are important, but they have no significant earning potential outside of teaching. It's a buyer's market. Qualified scientists have far better prospects.

    • I'll bite (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DingerX (847589)
      okay, fine. I have a Ph.D. in history. No, I didn't do it for the money.

      But, you know what? Even a HS teacher with a BA in History is a rare thing. Hell, I went to a public HS (in the same county where public schools sought subsidies because the majority of their students spoke "Ebonics"), Math and Sciences were taught by Ph.D.s. History? That was taught by a guy known as "coach." English? We found ourselves being taught by a series of spent pieces of used jet trash who got pinned sophomore year at
  • Short answer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lazlo (15906) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @05:39PM (#18281336) Homepage
    "Is there a solution to the woeful lack of qualified mathematics teachers that the Teachers' Union will find acceptable?"

    No. Because among the Teachers' Union's membership there are 40% of mathematics teachers who would become unemployed if a solution were found. A good solution would help two groups of people: Qualified people who are not currently teachers, and students. Neither of those groups is a part of any Teachers' Union.
    • Re:Short answer (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Chirs (87576) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @05:43PM (#18281398)
      You missed the fact that it would also help the 60% of math teachers who *are* qualified, by giving them larger paychecks.

      It might also provide incentives for the 40% that aren't qualified to take the courses necessary to become so.
    • There are already financial programs in place to encourage potential teachers, but they avoid union wrath by being add-ons rather than base pay incentives. Some teachers get loan reprieves, grants (that go into teacher's pockets, etc). I don't side with the unions on this, but they are very powerful, and districts are sidestepping base pay in favor of these extras. Currently these extras are available for teaching inner city schools, etc. I don't see why they can't so the same for much needed academic subj
  • by Billly Gates (198444) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @05:40PM (#18281348) Journal
    Its very difficult to find work teaching math or science unless you have a single subject credential in those areas. The problem California has it that they do not like hiring math and science teachers. Why? Money.

    They can hire an intern for half the price and just get rid of them every year or what they do is put in a permanent sub and recycle them just to meet quotas so they don't get sued. Its disgusting.

    The problem really is paying more for math and science teachers. If the schools must pay more for these teachers then they will fire them to save money and use interns.

    So why should a teacher get a credential in a subject that could damage his or her career?

    Also whats great about unqualified interns is that they do not have to comply with no child left behind. They can claim they could not find enough qualified teachers to fill the position and the schools will no longer have to be held accountable.

    As a result she plans to teach in Texas next year. Pay is only a few thousand less a year and the bean counters do not run the schools and do borderline illegal things like what I described above or putting 50 kids to a class room and then change all the teachers in October so they can get away without paying teachers salary for 1 whole year. My jaw dropped when I heard about that.

  • by rueger (210566) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @05:41PM (#18281356) Homepage
    I lived in Appalachian Kentucky, in one of the two or three poorest counties in the country. The problems with education didn't come down to teacher unions, it came down to political pork barrel.

    In a nutshell, the way you get elected in those parts is to deliver relatively cushy government jobs to your friends and supporters*.

    Since funding for schools is already pitiful, the usual strategy is to have lots of low paying teacher jobs, rather than fewer good paying positions. If you pay less per job, you create more porkbarrel positions that will bring you votes.

    Kentucky really isn't interested in spending more on schools, and is just using teacher unions as a convenient excuse.

    * or hand out fifths of whisky on election day. Or indulge in good old fashioned vote buying. [newsbank.com]

  • You can't discriminate like that. It's sexist!
  • I'm sorry, it just sounds like a bad idea to me for math or science teachers to be paid more.

    It's just asking for personnel issues, and it's creating a teacher economic hierarchy where none currently exists, and none needs to exist.

    • by guaigean (867316)
      But why not? If they went to school, studied hard, and succeeded in a difficult field, how do you encourage people to do the same unless there is some sort of reward? Paying everyone equal is akin to communism. The hardest working suffer at the hands of the lazy and incapable.
    • by Dun Malg (230075) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @06:05PM (#18281786) Homepage

      I'm sorry, it just sounds like a bad idea to me for math or science teachers to be paid more.

      It's just asking for personnel issues, and it's creating a teacher economic hierarchy where none currently exists, and none needs to exist.

      But It does need to exist. The problem is that the teachers union sees them all as the same thing: teachers. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that it's a hell of a lot easier to teach 3rd graders to spell than it is to teach 11th graders calculus. What kind of idiot marxist do you have to be to insist that Nancy Twinkletoes with her Ba in Child Development be paid the same as Jane Poindexter with a PhD in Mathematics? They both teach children? So the fuck what! The similarity ends there. It makes as much sense as demanding equal wages for NASCAR drivers and bus drivers because they're both just drivers.
  • by Colin Smith (2679) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @05:43PM (#18281392)
    Human beings are simply not equal, no matter what you wish. Pay more for people who are willing to become qualified and more will become so. Insisting that everyone receive the same... Well it doesn't exactly encourage excellence, now, does it.

     
  • Is there a solution to the woeful lack of qualified mathematics teachers that the Teachers' Union will find acceptable?"

    Of course not. Union's don't reward ability. Union's tend to focus on the lowest common denominator holding onto their job. Pay for performance usually increases performance. Paying someone equally for less performance usually discourages people from using their abilities. I've never understood why teacher's aren't paid for performance, especially considering the responsibility they have. So long as excellent scientists and mathematicians are paid the same as incapable football coaches, there will

    • I'm all for paying better teachers a higher wage, but how do you quantify performance? Test scores? Peer review? Independent review? Whatever the parents say?

      With no absolutes to measure against, how does one decide that one instructor's performance is better than another's?

    • Due to schedule problems i got stuck in a regular to low-level geometry class in grade 10. The teacher was the (quite successful) wrestling coach but he couldn't pull a vector outta his ass to save his life. So the teacher teaching the people that don't have the best grasp of the subject has even less of a clue himself.

      PS. Teachers hate it when you have to show them how to do the problem they put on the board after noone, including the teacher!!, got it right....hehe, vectors during the time i was in groun
  • Yawn. Wake me when the UFOs land.
  • The task of teaching (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RyanFenton (230700) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @05:46PM (#18281450)
    Before the more libertarian posters start chewing up the teachers' unions (not that I'd disagree), I'd like to ask the question: What level of respect do teachers deserve, and in what manner should we as a society ensure they get that respect?

    There is a job to be done, a job some would consider a somewhat sacred task: Ensuring that an entire generation can learn and grow in the best way we know how to do it. That is not an easy task.

    We currently have a very limited number of people put into that formal role, and they collectively are not doing what we would consider an acceptable job at it. What should our response be? If our response is to punish and cut resources from that role in general one way or another, then we will be left with even fewer people to fill that role, and those that are left will have an even harder job to do. More than that, the level of respect for these teachers will continue to fall. This isn't such a bad thing, if collapse of such a system is an acceptable result, except that there will be much of an entire generation of children in the lurch.

    The recent response to this issue is to push for very strict testing as a way to punish the teachers with the weakest 'performance'. That does improve the measured response, but it has also changed the way we measure the result. I would assert that by doing this, we have left behind the idea that we are trying to truly teach a generation the best way we can, but instead have minimized what we teach in order to assure high scores on a system we invent for ourselves, all in an effort to find someone to punish.

    So, is this the best way to get the job done? Is this the way we respect our children's need for education, and the people who are put into the role of opening doors for the children?

    Ryan Fenton
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Stevyn (691306)
      Most people are lazy. If you've been a teacher for a decade and you have tenure, what insentive is there to work harder? You can still be lazy and as long as you don't mess up you'll still get your yearly raises. I think the problems people have with teachers' unions is that they don't encourage people to work harder. I don't think teacher's should be a commodity who are fired at will because the principal doesn't like them. However, since it's the future of this country at stake, teachers who are utte
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      "What level of respect do teachers deserve, and in what manner should we as a society ensure they get that respect?"

      I'd respect the teachers a WHOLE bunch more, if they'd work on removing the bad teachers from teaching. But No, it is next to impossible to fire a teacher. I think the only way now, is to fsck a student or two, not sure though, since many just leave quietly to go to the next district.

      Seriously, until the TEACHER UNIONS become about TEACHING rather than EMPLOYMENT and socialistic ideals such as
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by CodeBuster (516420)
      What level of respect do teachers deserve, and in what manner should we as a society ensure they get that respect?

      They get what level of respect that their collective performance in the classroom dictates. They have made it impossible to distinguish individual outstanding teachers and dismal underachievers so we are forced to judge them as a group and that judgment, as you say, has been harsh indeed, although not entirely undeserved. There is really nothing that we as a society can do, under the current
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Aceticon (140883)
      Teachers don't have any inherent right to being more or less respected than anybody else.

      Good teachers have a right to be respected, bad teachers deserve to be shunned. Just like with say, doctors.

      Teachers are one of the most important forces in shapeing tomorrow's adults, their work is not only important, it's essencial to assure continued prosperity in any society.

      And yet, while good teachers can help shape a child into a successful, productive adult, bad teachers can contribute to turn a child into an in
  • by PoopDaddy (1064616) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @05:49PM (#18281500)

    Teachers objected to differential pay...

    The English teacher wrote a 3-point essay against the proposal.

    The History teacher did some research and cited precedent against it.

    The PE teacher punched the legislators and sat on their heads.

    The Art teacher committed suicide in an ironic statement.
  • Unfortunately from what I can find online and from a recent Economist article is seem that the Teacher's Unions are one of the bigger obstacles to educational reform.

    Tenure keeps the bad teachers around and low pay, etc keep the idealists whi could make a difference from sticking with it. Any plans which would involve a premium on new teachers with specialized skills will be rejected by this group as it does not reward its current membership and goes against the rigid hierarchy promoted by the tenure system
  • by iamacat (583406)
    98% of population only need to know how to calculate a 15% tip. On the other hand, those with drive and talent learn outside school anyway. Real subjects that should be a priority in school would be:
    • Basic finance skills - credit card interests, mortage, retirenment planning, investment options and risk assessment. Ok, there is some math here, but highly advanced trig.
    • Relationship and child raising skills
    • Social skills such as getting along with people, making a good impression on an interview, basic project
  • There's one thing missing from all these news stories -- how much do teachers actually make? Because if they're looking for math and science teachers, I'm their target -- a masters in physics who is unhappy in my current job. But teaching is not something I really want to do. I could be convinced to do it if the price was right...but nobody ever states a price.

    I think most teachers teach because that is what they love doing, but there are some qualified people who could be lured into it for proper compen
  • Those that can, do. Those that can't, teach.
  • by Denial93 (773403) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @05:59PM (#18281672)
    Teachers can't quit. Almost all teachers are at their top productivity right when they start the job, and steadily lose from there. This is true both because they receive very little on-job qualification, and because teaching is an extremely stressful and unthankful job (a highly disproportionate number of people in psychological care are ex-teachers). Worse, teacher qualifications aren't good for much else - they have such a broad knowledge they will rarely be qualified for the highly-specialized professions of today. So to lose a teaching position will very frequently mean a forced career change, and a dramatic fall down the income ladder.

    Any even more endangered position (such as being known to be worth less salary than others), is much too close to the low-end job market to be comfortable. So - the union isn't protesting just to spite us. It doesn't prefer inefficiency without a cause. It just has to fight for the very future of its members.

    Us relatively high paid IT guys, who haven't seen the poverty line from below in most cases, and who can always train themselves something new, tend to ignore how soul-crushing the lack of a professional perspective is. You know what? The job market isn't free. There are huge barriers to entry, especially for people who are, neurologically, too old to learn a new profession. So what the union does isn't protection of assets, it is fight for survival. You need not respect that, but you'd gain insight into their actions by understanding that.

    The solution? Why, on-job qualification programs for teachers, of course. But that's a long-term solution. We don't do that unless re-election is certain.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ProteusQ (665382)

      Excellent points, all. Let me add one thing. In Wichita, KS, a graduate with a BS in Engineering will get about $50K out of the gate. A graduate with a BA in Education will make $34,654, and his/her salary tops out at $41,479 after nine years' experience. Those numbers can go up with extra job duties (coaching, head of the department, etc.), but that's it, unless said teacher goes back to school for more credit hours. But this increase isn't as dramatic as one might expect. For a teacher to earn what

  • by Windcatcher (566458) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @06:00PM (#18281684)
    "Singling out a few teachers for a salary bonus, we did not believe is fair," said Kentucky Education Association President Frances Steenbergen. "We believe that the preschool teacher on up to the 12th-grade AP physics teacher deserves huge increases in salaries."

    Okay, let me get this straight. The preschool teacher is worth the same amount as the person who busts her ass to study and then teach Physics? Even if the AP Physics teacher has an advanced degree?

    WTF?

    Gah. Certain people need to be whacked with a cluebat. No, miss preschool teacher, you are NOT worth the same as an AP science teacher (Physics? Are they kidding???). If you want the same salary, then GO AND GET THE SAME QUALIFICATIONS and TEACH THE SAME MATERIAL. If you can't do it then you aren't worth it. People need to be paid on their merits -- otherwise there is little incentive for people to do the work to gain that expertise in the first place (and Physics IS an ass-breaker -- otherwise everyone would be doing it).
  • by guruevi (827432) <evi@smo k i n g c ube.be> on Thursday March 08, 2007 @06:02PM (#18281718) Homepage
    People that work should get paid according to their capabilities. If you have 2 math teachers and one doesn't know anything about it, and the other one has a doctorate, they should be getting paid accordingly. If I go to work, I get paid and I get a job because I have certain capabilities as a IT consultant. If another consultant comes in that doesn't know as much as I do, he either won't get the job, or will get paid much less.

    I hate to see unions kill the 'free' job market for everyone and keeping our children dumb. You get paid according to your results, not according your title (although that ideology reverses itself throughout higher management). 'Think of the children', anyone, now you DO have a reason to and you don't.

    And I would also like to see (more) practical mathematics in school. Currently most students get it shoved down their throats as a merely theoretical 'boring' lesson while mathematics has much more interesting and practical uses which during my time in school, I never or barely got to see (I got to see them a little in my practicum for electronics, but that's about it).
    • by Coryoth (254751)

      And I would also like to see (more) practical mathematics in school. Currently most students get it shoved down their throats as a merely theoretical 'boring' lesson while mathematics has much more interesting and practical uses which during my time in school, I never or barely got to see (I got to see them a little in my practicum for electronics, but that's about it).

      Applications of mathematics is something that should be taught in physics class. Certainly a little applied math is useful as motivation, but oddly enough I think one of the things that is lacking from mathematics education at the high school level is pure math. There is plenty of interesting theory to mathematics, but instead of getting taught the theory, and gaining understanding, kids get recipes, formulas and applications with no real instruction as to the underlying principles. Mathematics is, at its

  • by Ogemaniac (841129) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @06:06PM (#18281790)
    Instead, I went to grad school and am now a corporate staff scientist.

    I really wanted to teach, but giving up nearly half my potential income was simply too much. The kids lost out. I met plenty of other students in grad school who felt the same way.
  • I don't claim to know a whole lot about economics, but isn't that what socialism is all about?

    No matter what you do, you will get the same amount of pay - immaterial of your your skills, abilities or your contributions.

    What's the incentive to perform better, then?
  • How about if the teacher's pay per subject is based on how society actually values that subject. How much of GDP is based on science, how much on art and music, how much on athletics, etc? If, say, 40% of GDP is based on science and 50% comes from sports, and 10 % comes from art, then clearly athletics are more valuable to society than anything else and should be emphacised accordingly, with art frankly not worth that much in general. Now take a standard average teacher's salary, and add or subtract from t
  • by MaWeiTao (908546) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @06:46PM (#18282424)
    Education 8mar07

    I think the reason American students are falling behind in subjects like math and science is not because teachers aren't getting paid enough, or is it because of a lack of funding. The problems students are facing are far more elemental. They're not being taught basic responsibilities. They're not being taught a work ethic. And they're not being taught to respect anyone or anything.

    Instead educators are trying to turn education into entertainment. Lessons are reduced to wacky fun facts. Everything has to be packaged into bite-sized chunks. It isn't just the curriculum. Compare what schools do in the US compared to schools in Asia, for example.

    When I was living in Taiwan I observed that school and academics virtually encompassed a student's entire life. It's not like here when kids are looking to get out of school at a nice early hour to go play. First of all, students arrive at school at 8am, if not earlier. Again, unlike the US where some schools have delayed opening until 9am to let students sleep later.

    More importantly were the responsibilities Taiwanese students are given. They spend the first half hour, maybe longer, cleaning the school. They actually have them sweeping the floors and cleaning bathrooms. They didn't necessarily do a good job but rest assured that they were much more reluctant to engage in vandalism knowing that they would be cleaning up the mess the following day.

    Imagine the uproar if a school tried that sort of thing in the US. I'm sure lawyers would sweep in with their claims child labor laws were violated. But the fact is that this instilled a sense of responsibility in students.

    And it's something that followed them through the school day. They often got out of school late in the day, 4pm or 5pm. And many, mainly those in high school would then go to cram schools in the evening to study for graduation exams.

    The problem is, if the schools aren't reinforcing the value of education nobody else will. They sure aren't going to learn anything on the streets. Kids in the suburbs can be as bad as those in the cities. And I know people who've experienced these kinds of problems first hand. It's just that wealthy communities are better at sweeping problems under the rug. But there's a very big distinction. Regardles of what those kids in the suburbs do they're constantly exposed to people who are successful. Eventually it gets drilled into most of them that they need to take school more seriously. So it's the environment outside of school that is one of the biggest factors why many more kids in the suburbs go on to college and end up doing reasonably well.

    The lack of interest in some subjects comes down to a lack of work ethic. No amount of money or salary increase is going to resolve these problems. The US already spends money on education than any other developed nation and students in those countries still outperform American students.

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