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  • When Teachers Don't Teach At All...

    In a move that is hardly inspiring New York students to work hard and achieve greatness, the AP reports that you can now make $70,000 a year sitting around and doing nothing for eight hours a day. All you have to do is become an ineffective New York City public school teacher.

    The city’s policy of paying teachers not to work is more than just a waste of money. It adds to the utter lack of accountability that plagues the system and undermines any reason to teach students well.

    Because their union contract makes it extremely difficult to fire them, the teachers have been banished by the school system to its ‘rubber rooms’ — off-campus office space where they wait months, even years, for their disciplinary hearings.

    The 700 or so teachers can practice yoga, work on their novels, paint portraits of their colleagues — pretty much anything but school work. They have summer vacation just like their classroom colleagues and enjoy weekends and holidays through the school year.”

    New York City’s rubber rooms are costing taxpayers $65 million dollars a year. And they help explain why New York’s schools continue to under-perform, despite spending over $13,000 per student in 2007 – well above the national average of $8,700. The city’s graduation rate is just 55 percent.

    This lack of results for excessively high education funding is hardly surprising considering how the city compensates its teachers, including those in the rubber room. Under the current pay system favored by unions, pay is “back-loaded,” meaning that teachers earn very little at the start of their careers and much more towards the end of their careers. Uniform raises – based not on merit but on longevity – provide little incentive for teachers to work hard, as excellence is not rewarded. In a system which fails to recognize achievement but rewards mediocrity, it is nearly impossible to attract the best and brightest teachers into the classroom.

    This system is antithetical to improving educational quality.

    The only people who benefit from the union contracts are the teachers themselves. And not all the teachers – only the ones who have been teaching for years and begun to reap the benefits of back-loaded pay and generous pensions.

    Until we move away from a system of union-backed teachers and toward a competitive system which compensates teachers based on what their job performance merits, we will continue to see a profession plagued by the types of problems found in New York and American kids won’t get the quality education they deserve.

    Posted in Education [slideshow_deploy]

    6 Responses to When Teachers Don't Teach At All...

    1. Spiritof76 says:

      The real question is how we move away from such a system? We must stop paying the teachers, fire all the union thugs and privatize the schools.

      Why don't you print the names of all the teachers in the rubber room and have the taxpayers sign a petition to stop paying them. If the union puts up any resistance, close the schools and tun over the management to private entities and start anew. I would rather see the hacks get hurt than the kids.

    2. Barb -mn says:

      IF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES aren't doing the job the taxpayers money is going to, then why are we still paying, while reprimand is a paid vacation from their choice of violations?

      Government employees who violate their position? GET THEM OUT! AND OFF THE TAXPAYERS ROLL! Another example of government incompetence, incoherence, unfair, bias, discrimination.


    3. Bill Jacksonville, says:

      We're not all in New York, (thank God) and we're not all union members (only 1 in 13 FL). Instead of whining about public schools, we work within them to make them better.

      I'd love for all education to be private, but since we HAVE public schools and some very dedicated professionals in said schools, how about getting off our backs and participating in helping them to better serve our young people?

      To assume we can just stop public education and turn it over to private entities is both unrealistic and immature thinking. It can be done over time, but not on a whim.

    4. C. Smith, Living in says:

      Not knowing much about NY specifically, I see there being two main problems; the union and the administration/bureucarcy.

      Unions have their uses. Many benifets that teachers deserve, like health insurance, working conditions, etc., would not exsist without organizations like the NEA and the TEA. However, "manadory pay raises" and adding speed to a discpilne process is not really their, shall we say, "strong suit". The issue of pay raises has always been a bone of contintion among people how are in the carrer field and those who look from the outside in. As the son of a now retirement age teacher and school system administrater, I can tell you that most teachers, in my experience anyway, deserve way better then they receive. Most teacher raises aren't even in the ballpark of inflation, not to mention the fact that when they do get a reasonable raise somebody from the 1% bad actors tends to give everybody else an excuse to said they get paid too much, their union's to strong (which admittedly is sometimes the truth), or that everyone would be better off with privatized schools. Truth is, even if you privatized school systems nationwide, you are still pulling from the same pool of people but taking out a built in oversight mechinaism. And if you think that private sector organizations don't have unions, and good ones at that, you're fooling youself. (See UAW, ACLU, etc.) What makes you think that just because a union may or not be involved will make a difference. And, what magic oversight group do you propose to handle any teacher complaints or monpolies that may occur because one group controls all the schools in an area? I'm secdeing control from the government that I can atleast pressure a senator, all be it a slow process, to a private group that would be my only real choice in someplaces that only answer to whatever amounts to stockholders, (which will proably not be anyone in the local community), and/or the unions.

      Second, the adminstration in NY is obviously not doing enough to handle it's displinary issues in a timely manner. It's one thing to allow a teacher to be paid while waiting to have a hearing, it's another to let it go for more than a couple of months. Even with as many teachers as they must have, you would think that having all these teachers not in classrooms, by itself, would be suffienct cause to speed the process up. I know the unions have rules and procedures too, but that's where the state has to be firm and tell them to catch up or shut up. I'm willing to bet that the majority of the complaints are some form of teacher misconduct as simple as cursing in class or something. If they were all some sort of possible felony, we'd all have heard about it by now. These teachers being out of the classrooms, even if their skills are medicoare, is causing more harm than any raise in spending or union membership. My wife, who did go through the NY school system, would tell me about class sizes of anywere from 40 to 60 or more. And that was during the '90s. How can any of these school districts survive with that number of teachers not in classrooms? This part lands squarely on the adminstrations shoulders and makes me wonder where the mayor is on this.

      Is there a straight forward answer to this? Not really, or we'd done it already. But, first thing that would be helpful could be to link pay raise to sucess. There would still be a bit of a raise just for teaching year in year out that would, hopefully, keep up with inflation. A secondary raise would be somehow linked to the sucess of the school and the teacher themselves. Embarssingly, I can't think of any cretirion for this raise off the top of my head. I'd have to research it. Next, someone will have to get a displine process that is more streamlined for minor offenses and reroute major grieveances to the district or higher authority as needed. Most "contract misdomeanors" can be handled by the union and lower level adminstration while still leaving the teacher in the classroom. If the issue at hand will compromise the teacher authority in class, then and only then, should they be removed. And if removed, they need to be employed. I'm sure there are unnumeriable tasks that can handle for the school system to earn at least some of their pay.

    5. Bob, Dayton Ohio says:

      I firmly believe that many of the economic woes we are now suffering in this nation–and let's face it, as the nation that sets the precedents, so goes the United States so goes the world–are the direct result of the decline in our nations' school programs. In fact, since mandatory busing was introduced under President Carter, I cannot count the number of schools that have closed in my hometown of Dayton, Ohio (busing costs so much money the schools were forced to close). While busing may have done wonders for relations between African American's and Whites in this nation (which was the objective), it has simultaneously been disastrous as far as the quality and quantity of education in this nation is concerned. We now have an African American President, so I believe busing has accomplished its intended goal. Now how about reforming our school programs yet again(stop the busing for one, and build more schools while at it) and concentrate on giving our kids the educations we are capable of giving and that they deserve. Just stopping busing alone could save untold dollars in gasoline and the cost of vehicles, which could go to building more modern school facilities and paying decent teacher's wages: This nation has fallen behind numerous other nations in educational quality in recent decades, and that is directly related to the decline in our economy. How would this Supreme Court nominee feel if such legislation came before her for a vote (assuming her appointment)? Would she vote to stop the busing and use the monies to build new schools and pay teacher's wages?

    6. harleyj says:



      Monday, August 24, 2009

      Students and educators assembling this morning at Waco’s Cesar Chavez Professional Development School in South Waco may be interested to know the civil rights figure so important to Hispanic Americans might not be getting as much attention in future social studies classes.

      Two so-called experts on an advisory panel appointed by the State Board of Education say Cesar Chavez has gotten too much notice in classrooms in the past. Same goes for Thurgood Marshall, famous for arguing the legal case paving the way for school integration. Marshall also happened to be the first black to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.

      Accounts in the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News suggest the State Board of Education still seeks to mix politics, religion and education, often at the cost of giving our kids the full story of our land.

      For instance, panelist David Barton, an evangelical Republican activist appointed by board Chairwoman Gail Lowe — our representative, by the way — said Chavez “lacks the stature, impact and overall contributions of so many others.” Lowe agrees, adding that Marshall and Chavez are “not particularly known for their citizenship.”

      What’s more, the Express-News says the first draft of new standards for Texas history books skips noted liberals in our past but triumphs conservative figures such as Newt Gingrich.

      Enough nonsense. Classroom curricula and history textbooks aren’t supposed to be about championing those of one political persuasion over another. American history is about the vibrant, sometimes combustible mix of ideas and accomplishments and the fascinating men and women behind them.

      Put another way: Any book on U.S. history should include Joe McCarthy and Eugene McCarthy, Thurgood Marshall and John Marshall. Young Americans shouldn’t be cheated by ideologues of our unique story or subjected to outrageous biases before they’re old enough to know who’s pulling the wool over their eyes. Parents and lawmakers should keep a sharp eye on our State Board of Education for just such shenanigans.

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