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Saturday, November 06, 2010

Governor Awesome asks the obvious questions 

New Jersey's Governor Chris Christie asks the questions that all normal people ask, but politicians never do. Such as, why do public school teachers need all these extra days off during the school year? Good goddamned question.



24 Comments:

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Nov 07, 12:03:00 AM:

Of course they do. I mean 3 months in the summer, one month for the "holiday" season spring break.... 15 students per class, 90% pay for retirement, they need the time off. BARF.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Nov 07, 12:31:00 AM:

You and Chris are just whining like a losing dem congressman because Penn
whipped Princeton today like a California government union employee did a taxpayer!!!  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Nov 07, 01:31:00 AM:

I think you have blogged about the underpayment of school teachers, and the lack of respect they get. I am sure of it. Please include that link below.

The point here, which is not at all difficult to understand, is that this is a pay cut (making them work those days).

If you want people with talent to teach, then you have to pay them and respect them. Now, unfortunately, just raising pay in one fell swoop wouldn't work because the current teachers would never leave. Because they are already in a job where they can't command more in the market.

But beating up on teachers isn't really worth the time.

And by the way we both did quite well going to public schools, though I went a little longer than you.  

By Anonymous Gandalf, at Sun Nov 07, 08:18:00 AM:

If it is such a cushy job why do we have trouble recruiting the best and brightest? It is easy to flog teachers for time off but the fact is that off time is built into the compensation package. If those who want to cast stones at teachers think it is so lucretive they should try it. Try herding 25 cats for a few days to get a preview. Good teachers are hard to find and worth every much as corporate executives. Analyze the value of the compensation adjusting for time spent and find that teachers are under compensated.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Nov 07, 08:32:00 AM:

As someone who would like to be a school teacher there are quite a few barriers to entry.

1) It is low paying for a head of household

2) Many states require or heavily favor an education degree. (My engineering degree, plus 15 years of teaching adults wasn't good enough)

3) Parents. Just being a little league coach is enough to make me not want to be around parents, unless I am being financially well rewarded.

4) I don't know this from experience, but I have a relative the finally quit because of all th paperwork she had to do on her own time.

Having said that, I agree with Christie from a business perspective, but the business of teaching needs to change in order to accomodate the real world.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Nov 07, 08:46:00 AM:

It is not a "low paying job" at all. Only public employee unions still have such generous defined benefit pensions, and lifetime healthcare coverage for themselves and their dependents. The present value of these benefits make this a richly paid job, even before only working part time is considered. What is worse is that all private sector employees pay taxes on the vast bulk of their savings for the future, while public employees do not. The annual present value cost of those future benefits never show up on anyones W-2.

Let's stop the inveterate silliness: these are wealthy people, most of whose income is structurally tax advantaged, by design.

MTF  

By Anonymous Boludo Tejano, at Sun Nov 07, 09:03:00 AM:

Governor Christie is an excellent extemporaneous speaker.Christie was correct to bash the Teachers’ Union for refusing to accept a salary freeze and for teachers’ paying more for insurance. I taught in a state with weak Teachers’ Unions, and basically agree that they should be weak. For example, Principals should have the power to fire and hire. I am in agreement with Christie on the unions.

From my admittedly egocentric perspective, Governor Awesome is over the top here.I put in over 70 hours per week during the two years I was a teacher. My time off was spent in recuperation from such a grueling schedule.

Even with those allegedly cushy hours, nearly half of those who enter the teaching profession leave in within five years. While 40 years ago, it was feasible for a teacher to do everything in a 45 to 50 hour week- and I have my schoolteaching mother for that perspective- that is no longer the case. My 70 hour work week was in part due to my being a beginning teacher, but it is not uncommon for teachers with 10 or more years experience to put in 60 hour work weeks. It is difficult these days for women teachers to raise a family and put in 60 hour weeks. There are several reasons for the increased work week for teachers.

With the greatly reduced incidence of the two parent family compared to 40-50 years ago, by default schools have taken on more of the responsibilities for students that were formerly the purview of the parents. The parent used to be the primary motivator for the child. Today, with the greatly increased incidence of one-parent homes, that is no longer the case. Today responsibility for motivating the student falls much more on the teacher than it used to, by default. Someone has to do it, and the parents are not doing it like they used to.
It gets worse. If a teacher called home, the standard response from a parent used to be, “I will make sure that my child behaves/ studies more. If there is any more trouble, please call me ASAP.” Today, many parents instead see themselves as the defenders of their child. This is seen in upper middle class homes as much as it is seen in lower class homes. I am not talking about the exceptional cases where the idiot school does things like the recent case of suspending a student for riding a horse to school. I am talking of run of the mill cases of student misbehavior and students’ not doing their school work.

Another reason for the increased teacher work load is Political Correctness. For both student discipline and for instruction, this increases a teacher’s work load. I am making the assumption that this is obvious for readers, so will not provide examples. If readers need examples, I will supply them. One commenter mentioned paper work.

When Governor Awesome addresses those issues, then he can talk about having teachers putting in more days. From my perspective, the public should be overjoyed that anyone is willing to be a teacher. It is a much more difficult job than the public realizes. There are reasons why nearly half of those who begin the teaching profession leave within five years. Most of those who leave are competent teachers. If Governor Awesome has his way on the days off for teachers without addressing some of the issues I have outlined, he will simply increase teacher turnover.

For those readers who consider teaching to be a cushy job, my suggestion is that they enter the teaching perspective. I assure you that your perspective will change.  

By Anonymous Boludo Tejano, at Sun Nov 07, 02:31:00 PM:

Correction:
Change:
For those readers who consider teaching to be a cushy job, my suggestion is that they enter the teaching perspective. I assure you that your perspective will change.

to
For those readers who consider teaching to be a cushy job, my suggestion is that they enter the teaching profession. I assure you that your perspective will change.

Obviously, I wasn't an English teacher.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Nov 07, 04:36:00 PM:

is there any, ANY being on this earth that whines more than a teacher? is there ANY profession - with the possible exception of law enforcement - that moans and snivels and wails and rends their clothes as much whenever a tax-paying prole dares to criticize them or their cushy jobs, work rules, enormously fat layers of 'administration' and all the other little perks that DO NOT EXIST in the private sector?

and of course, that most sacred, most holy, most *important* thing of all - their almighty pensions? 8 comments so far, 7 of them from teachers doing the usual song & dance whine. strangely enough, only the 1 comment *not* from a whining teacher mentions the word "pension". (but hey, don't feel bad, ladies: cops don't like it when *their* pensions are talked about, either.) the whiners also fail to point out the fatal contradiction in their "gimme mo' money!" arguments: if "bad/stupid students are not teacher's fault, they're the *parents* fault", then why should you be getting more money? you just admitted you have no real impact on the quality of a kid's education. you should be getting FIRED, actually. or failing that, a 40%+ pay cut.

if the job's so tough; so demanding; so impossible-to-work-around-lazy/worthless-parents....then quit. go do something else. something that pays better. something that allows you to work less. something that offers more than 3 months vacation every year. something with an even better pension.

and yet, they never seem to want to do that. odd, huh? could it be it's because such jobs don't (mostly) "exist" here in the real world? could that be it? easier just to whine and complain. maybe we'll stop 'picking on you' if you do that long enough.  

By Anonymous Gandalf, at Sun Nov 07, 07:56:00 PM:

I am not a teacher and neither is my wife. I happen to be a retired senior vice president of a mid-sized company and an elected member of a School Committee. As said in these comments teachers have a tough job. They do not teach 15 student classes. Typically the class size today is 25 and half of those are kids that have individual plans. Translated that means they have special issues to deal with ranging from hearing impediments to serious anti-social behavoir. Bash if you must but all things considered the compensation package is usually fair. I have been in the classroom for career day presentations and there is no way I would be a teacher.  

By Anonymous lumpy, at Sun Nov 07, 08:39:00 PM:

is there any, ANY being on this earth that whines more than a teacher?

Non-teachers who think they know everything, for one.

Unrealistic disciplinary policies, administrative idiocy, education school, unions, and obnoxious parent stories are five reasons I won't go near a public K-12 teaching job.  

By Anonymous Boludo Tejano, at Sun Nov 07, 09:30:00 PM:

Anonymous, at Sun Nov 07, 04:36:00 PM:
8 comments so far, 7 of them from teachers doing the usual song & dance whine.
One who wants to be a teacher plus one former teacher- myself. No current teachers commented, as far as I can tell, You assumed Gandalf was a teacher- he later informed you he never was nor never will be a teacher. My response was balanced, as I said “I am in agreement with Christie about the unions,” . I said something similar here. You need to be more observant.

if the job's so tough; so demanding; so impossible-to-work-around-lazy/worthless-parents....then quit. go do something else. something that pays better. .... .
If you had read my comment more carefully, you would have read that ”nearly half of those who enter the teaching profession leave in [sic] within five years.” Teachers ARE quitting in response to difficult conditions, just as you request.
Also note that I am one of those teachers who left the profession: “…I was a teacher..” I didn’t like it and got out.
I repeat my suggestion that you become a teacher. It isn’t as easy as you think.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Nov 07, 10:34:00 PM:

You whiners amaze me! Does being a teacher afford you special knowledge? Does the fact that I grew up in a family of teachers, ranging from elementary school English teachers to administrators to law school professor then give me any second knowledge? Of course not, in your narrow little self-interested world, because only a teacher can understand! Do you hear yourselves?

Teachers have life easier by far than all of us paying their way. I hope it ends, though I am immensly respectful of the power the union wields in the Democrat party. It will be a hard fight.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Nov 07, 10:36:00 PM:

That would be "the same special knowledge, second hand", and not "second knowledge". Sorry-- the mysteries of phone posting still are hard for me.

MTF  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Nov 07, 11:25:00 PM:

MTF,

"It is not a "low paying job" at all."

Maybe not where you live, but where I live I wouldn't be able to make my mortgage if I was a teacher.  

By Anonymous Boludo Tejano, at Mon Nov 08, 12:15:00 AM:

You whiners amaze me! Does being a teacher afford you special knowledge?

Is it too much to request that you be accurate in your observations [7 teachers- hah!] and to read carefully what others write?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Nov 08, 07:15:00 AM:

Is that how you answer, with a count? Because there are seven comments in favor of paying teachers these huge amount, then that argument is stronger? Again, I say you are defending the completely indefensible: a public workforce working part time and being paid obscene amounts of money.

And to commenter worried about his mortgage, I would offer a deal: would you accept a raise in your current pay in lieu of your pension and retirement healthcare (assuming you are a teacher)? Oh, and you work a full year like everyone else. We will go to year- round school or something.

You save for the future and work a full year, just like the rest of us, and as a compromise you can have higher current income. Do you think teachers generally would accept?  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Mon Nov 08, 07:51:00 AM:

Sorry I didn't jump in yesterday, but I was otherwise engaged. A few observations.

1. In other settings, Governor Awesome has made it clear that his problem is with the teachers unions, including the work rules, not the teachers about whom he has spoken well. The event he is talking about vexes parents all over the state, and seems like a union boondoggle. Maybe it ain't, but it seems like it.

2. The teachers do back some absurd work rules that get in the way of productivity gains (of which more below). A few years back, the Princeton teachers went on strike because the schools asked them to supervise recess and greet the kids being dropped off. This is something that Princeton Charter School teachers -- who are non-union public school teachers -- do cheerfully.

3. Point two is an example of the main problem, which is that unionized public school teachers as a group, even if not as individuals, resist any and all attempts to boost productivity. It is frankly outrageous, and probably the single biggest problem with the public schools. Everybody else has to boost productivity (or see their jobs at risk), why not teachers?  

By Anonymous Dr. Weevil, at Mon Nov 08, 07:55:00 AM:

The Anonymous who can't be bothered to come up with a distinctive pseudonym but apparently wrote the 1st, 9th, and 17th comments and perhaps also the 13th (10:34) can't seem to get anything right.

I ignored his first comment because I thought it might be mostly or partly true of public-school teachers in some states, including perhaps New Jersey. Now that it has become clear that he is talking about all public-school teachers, I must point out that what he says is simply false.

I work in the Shenandoah Valley. My pension will be 1.7% of my last-year pay times the number of years worked. I don't believe anyone in my county has ever retired on 90% pay. Do the arithmetic: it would take 53 years of service, which means someone who started teaching straight out of college at 22 would have to work until age 75 without taking time off for childbearing or further education.

Three month vacations? I get less than two. The first day of school was August 10th (August 5th for new teachers), the last day will be June 9th, and I also have to work three days over the summer. Not that I'm complaining: almost two months is more than most people get, but it's not three.

A whole month for Spring Break? Most schools I know have a week. I don't know any that have more than a week, and my current job has a four-day Spring Break, which is really only two days off: we get Good Friday and Easter Monday off for a four-day weekend.

I don't believe I get free health care for life, either, though I haven't asked: my current health care, while not bad, is far from free.

Average class size at my school is 20+, not 15, and the only schools I've ever taught at where it was even close to 15 were private and very expensive.

So, has our Anonymous first commenter gotten anything right? Not so far as I can see.  

By Anonymous Boludo Tejano, at Mon Nov 08, 08:06:00 AM:

Is that how you answer, with a count? Because there are seven comments in favor of paying teachers these huge amount, then that argument is stronger? Again, I say you are defending the completely indefensible: a public workforce working part time and being paid obscene amounts of money.

This is again a misrepresentation of the comments.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Nov 08, 08:52:00 AM:

No, it is not and you are lame-o in simply making assertion after unsupported assertion. David Axelrod should not be emulated ("I don't have to prove they did it, they have to prove they didn't do it")-- make an argument that rests on some facts!

MTF  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Nov 08, 10:00:00 PM:

aahhhh, the old "class size" whine. gotta love the classics! i don't do linkies on other people's blogs, so allow me to quote from a NYT article of 11 sep 2009 written for the NYT by one catherine rampell. the relevant quote: "note that some of the countries with the some of the world's highest achieving student bodies - like korea and japan - have the biggest class sizes."

odd, that, huh?

now quick! someone bring up the "spend more money per kid" groaner so i can destroy that with the old fave 'utah vs. washington DC' comparison!  

By Anonymous Dr. Weevil, at Mon Nov 08, 10:43:00 PM:

Could the last two commentators please tell us whether they are the same person, and which of the previous posts written by 'Anonymous' each of them wrote? It would make it a lot easier to argue with them, and even to tell who they think they are arguing with.

It would also help if the second one (Anonymous at 10:00:00 - nice timing!) would tell us just who is 'whining' about class size. I corrected the false statements of the "Anonymous" who wrote the first comment, but I certainly haven't said anything that could be honestly construed as 'whining' about class size. Who has?  

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