BASD is 'thoughtless'

BASD is 'thoughtless'

There are 60 comments on the The Morning Call story from May 5, 2009, titled BASD is 'thoughtless'. In it, The Morning Call reports that:

As a parent who chooses to send her child to private school, I am not one to complain about school taxes and I am not in support of school vouchers.

Join the discussion below, or Read more at The Morning Call.

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Common Sense

United States

#42 May 6, 2009
jones wrote:
I did use your above post as a comparision and a better explanation of how the topic moves around . A few words can change the subject to completely different jobs. Everone has to work so I respect all jobs but the taxpayer that directly pays a school district tax will never be in agreement with a teacher who is directly paid from these taxes.
I'll give you credit - I've dismissed you previously as someone who is just looking to toss a match on a topic and get a rise out of people. Your post above sounds reasonably thoughtful.

However, it's impossible to figure out where you are coming from because you reply to posts on this board without letting us know who you are referring to. Who is it you are referring to with the "your" in your first sentence above?

If you are responding to a post, and really want to enter the discussion, it's a big help if you hit the "reply" button on the post you are responding to instead of posting a new comment. It will reprint the original post, as well as your reply and help people to figure out what you are talking about.
NWGuy

Federal Way, WA

#43 May 6, 2009
Common Sense wrote:
<quoted text>
Busy day, so I don't have time to respond to each of your comments in detail. I'll just try to deal with common themes:
1) I have no idea where you are coming from with your "communism" theme. If anything, you are the one making the communistic arguments by saying that a profession with a large waiting list of new graduates waiting to get in should be paid an artiificially high salary and benefits, arbitrarily set by the state.

That's not what I'm saying.

I'm saying that if you want to attract better resumes in a free market system, you need to improve compensation or job description.
NWGuy

Federal Way, WA

#44 May 6, 2009
Common Sense wrote:
<quoted text>
[...]
2) Your analogy with doctors and other professions is very poorly thought out. First of all, I know from personal experience working in a doctor's office that physician reimbursements have remained stagnant for several years (even going backwards in many cases). Secondly, an individual can choose whether to patronize any business (or in the case of physicians, which one to go to if they are sick). School taxes, however, are billed to everyone, and those paying them have every right to resent those whose unreasonable demands are making these taxes increase at a ridiculous rate.
3) Your blanket denials of all of my points shows a total unwillingness to grasp reality. Comments such as the one about "weak and inneffectual" teacher's unions and unwillingness to admit that pay disparities have at least narrowed (if not disappeared, as I would argue) over the last 15-20 years show your radical position on this issue.
Finally, your last sentence was a pathetic attempt to try to hide your agenda and take the moral high ground. As even a third-grader could have figured out, my comment about "violence" was facetious, and made to illustrate a point. The word "hate" was used because it was used in the post I was responding to. On top of this, I specifically reiterated my respect for individual teachers and the job they do, and clarified that my anger/resentment/hate (choose your word) was directed towards the system and at the teachers unions. If you are so closely tied to your teacher's union that you can't separate the two, even when it is in print right in front of you, it's not a good sign!

If we need more doctors, the way we will get them is to allow compensation to improve. We may also change the job description by, for example, finding portions of the job that can be done by others with different qualifications, thus increasing the numbers who can apply for parts of the job. We will not try to get more doctors by allowing more into the profession and then giving them tests. And, we will recognize that capping doctor's pay will drive more away from the profession. We need to recognize it works that way with teachers, too.

I don't know about any "unreasonable demands".

My position on salary isn't radical at all. It's called free market capitalism. Too many schools have under qualified teachers. Trying to solve that with communism is not going to work.

I'm not a teacher nor a union member. But, I don't think bashing unions that are as weak as teachers unions is going to get you anything.
NWGuy

Federal Way, WA

#45 May 6, 2009
jones wrote:
I did use your above post as a comparision and a better explanation of how the topic moves around . A few words can change the subject to completely different jobs. Everone has to work so I respect all jobs but the taxpayer that directly pays a school district tax will never be in agreement with a teacher who is directly paid from these taxes.

Your last statement may be true, but there is room for improvement.

Tension also exists when our public taxes pays a lawyer, for example. We want to get a good lawyer for low hourly rate. The only real difference here is that there are enough lawyers hired outside the public sector that their price is already established.
Common Sense

United States

#46 May 6, 2009
NWGuy wrote:
<quoted text>
If we need more doctors, the way we will get them is to allow compensation to improve. We may also change the job description by, for example, finding portions of the job that can be done by others with different qualifications, thus increasing the numbers who can apply for parts of the job. We will not try to get more doctors by allowing more into the profession and then giving them tests. And, we will recognize that capping doctor's pay will drive more away from the profession. We need to recognize it works that way with teachers, too.
I don't know about any "unreasonable demands".
My position on salary isn't radical at all. It's called free market capitalism. Too many schools have under qualified teachers. Trying to solve that with communism is not going to work.
I'm not a teacher nor a union member. But, I don't think bashing unions that are as weak as teachers unions is going to get you anything.
I finally figured out where we fundamentally differ - you seem to be of the impression that there is a shortage of teachers and increased salaries/benefits are necessary to draw applicants. While this may be true in some inner-city areas, and some specialities, it certainly is not the case for the vast majority of school districts.

It's kind of ironic that we are both arguing the same thing, for the same reason, based upon our different perceptions of this one simple fact. To you, teacher salaries/benefits have to increase to come up to a point where there are sufficient applications to fill positions.

To me, there is an overabundant supply of teachers and the salary and benefits of the position are being arbitrarily inflated by the teacher's unions. Because the free market isn't being allowed to work, wages and benefits are artificially high.

Does this help square our positions? I'll concede you may be right in certain situations where salaries and conditions are poor, and increased teachers pay would help draw more qualified applicants, if you will concede that there are certain situations where teacher's unions have artificially inflated the salary and benefits of teachers when there are a large number of qualified applicants who are unable to get jobs. Once we agree on this subject, we can then move on to a debate on the shortage/overage of teachers applying in various districts, and which situation is more prevalent.
NWGuy

Federal Way, WA

#47 May 6, 2009
Common Sense wrote:
<quoted text>
I finally figured out where we fundamentally differ - you seem to be of the impression that there is a shortage of teachers and increased salaries/benefits are necessary to draw applicants. While this may be true in some inner-city areas, and some specialities, it certainly is not the case for the vast majority of school districts.
It's kind of ironic that we are both arguing the same thing, for the same reason, based upon our different perceptions of this one simple fact. To you, teacher salaries/benefits have to increase to come up to a point where there are sufficient applications to fill positions.
To me, there is an overabundant supply of teachers and the salary and benefits of the position are being arbitrarily inflated by the teacher's unions. Because the free market isn't being allowed to work, wages and benefits are artificially high.
Does this help square our positions? I'll concede you may be right in certain situations where salaries and conditions are poor, and increased teachers pay would help draw more qualified applicants, if you will concede that there are certain situations where teacher's unions have artificially inflated the salary and benefits of teachers when there are a large number of qualified applicants who are unable to get jobs. Once we agree on this subject, we can then move on to a debate on the shortage/overage of teachers applying in various districts, and which situation is more prevalent.

Yes, that probably helps some. However, there are still unqualified teachers in the class room in many areas, especially inner city and other failing schools. And, there are people who think there are "bad" teachers who must be fired. Both these lead me to believe that administration is having a hard time staffing with quality teachers.

I see the failing schools that have these problems as the real education issue. The successful schools find it easier to attract teachers, but that doesn't some how "even out" the problem we are trying to solve.

Also, nearly every state is cutting education today, making finding teachers not that hard. But, at some point we are going to need to start seeing education as important. When that happens, we're going to need administrators who can select good teachers and we're going to need a large stack of resumes from people who have lots of other options besides teaching - a characteristic of people who are smart, well educated and can communicate well.
NWGuy

Federal Way, WA

#48 May 6, 2009
Common Sense wrote:
<quoted text>
[...]
Does this help square our positions? I'll concede you may be right in certain situations where salaries and conditions are poor, and increased teachers pay would help draw more qualified applicants, if you will concede that there are certain situations where teacher's unions have artificially inflated the salary and benefits of teachers when there are a large number of qualified applicants who are unable to get jobs. Once we agree on this subject, we can then move on to a debate on the shortage/overage of teachers applying in various districts, and which situation is more prevalent.

I still disagree on unions. One factor that makes unions in WA totally powerless is that the education budget of the state is set without there being a way for unions to take part - it's a legislative issue. The result is that when unions negotiate for salary, they are talking to administrators who have a set budget and can't really do anything at all - even though there are times they do want to do something about the salary problem.

I don't think that is uncommon.

And, I've seen absolutely nothing to suggest that teachers are in any sense paid too much. To the contrary, teaching is the worst paid profession requiring a degree. Teachers would ALWAYS have made more money by choosing some other profession.
Common Sense

United States

#49 May 7, 2009
NWGuy wrote:
<quoted text>
I still disagree on unions. One factor that makes unions in WA totally powerless is that the education budget of the state is set without there being a way for unions to take part - it's a legislative issue. The result is that when unions negotiate for salary, they are talking to administrators who have a set budget and can't really do anything at all - even though there are times they do want to do something about the salary problem.
I don't think that is uncommon.
And, I've seen absolutely nothing to suggest that teachers are in any sense paid too much. To the contrary, teaching is the worst paid profession requiring a degree. Teachers would ALWAYS have made more money by choosing some other profession.
I saw your ISP address previously, but didn't want to presume you were actually from out of state. I can assure you that the situation is radically different in PA, where the individual school districts negotiate with the teacher's unions, and have the authority to negotiate salary and benefits. The teacher's unions have aggressively played leapfrog with each other - each one points to what the other receives as justification for wanting more and taking its place at the head of the pack. The pattern repeats itself over and over.

I don't know how teacher salaries in PA compare to those in Washington. It would be interesting to hear if our differning perceptions are caused by a difference in systems, or an actual difference in pay rates for teachers. My preception in PA (which I know others may dispute) is definitely that most teachers are fairly well compensated, with occasional exceptions in poorer, inner-city schools.
Common Sense

United States

#50 May 7, 2009
NWGuy wrote:
<quoted text>
I still disagree on unions. One factor that makes unions in WA totally powerless is that the education budget of the state is set without there being a way for unions to take part - it's a legislative issue. The result is that when unions negotiate for salary, they are talking to administrators who have a set budget and can't really do anything at all - even though there are times they do want to do something about the salary problem.
I don't think that is uncommon.
And, I've seen absolutely nothing to suggest that teachers are in any sense paid too much. To the contrary, teaching is the worst paid profession requiring a degree. Teachers would ALWAYS have made more money by choosing some other profession.
This back and forth has convinced me that may both be right in our opinions, given our respective situations. In Washington, it sounds like the teacher's unions are weak and ineffectual, and salaries may be too low to draw enough qualified applicants. In PA, the exact opposite situation is occurring - teacher's salaries and benefits are so high as a result of the obnoxiously strong teacher's unions that very few school districts have any sort of staffing issues (again, with the possible exception of the poorer, inner-city districts).

One of our problems is that new, vibrant teachers have trouble getting into the school systems because existing teachers never leave. While this is great in most cases, it also results in more than a few burned out, unenthusiastic teachers who are protected by their tenure and by union regulations.
Truth can hurt

Allentown, PA

#51 May 7, 2009
Common Sense,

Look, regional and statewide salaries, for teachers and other occupations, are a reflection of the cost of living in the area that hosts their employ. You simply can't point to an Alabama teacher salary and use that as evidence that Pennsylvania salaries should be the same.

Also, your assumptions about teacher union efforts in Washington and Pennsylvania are curious. On one hand, you accuse the Washington teacher groups as being ineffectual, thus not producing higher salaries as you would expect them to be able to produce.

On the other hand, you seem to claim, in Pennsylvania, unions have be "too successful," in other words, exceeding your own view of union performance standards. Maybe you should praise Pennsylvania teacher unions?

Finally, you point to the existence of more than a few "burned-out" paycheck stealers, etc. in Pennsylvania. Do you have an actual list of specific names of those bad teachers, or is this claim just your assumption?
Common Sense

United States

#52 May 7, 2009
Truth can hurt wrote:
Common Sense,
Look, regional and statewide salaries, for teachers and other occupations, are a reflection of the cost of living in the area that hosts their employ. You simply can't point to an Alabama teacher salary and use that as evidence that Pennsylvania salaries should be the same.
Also, your assumptions about teacher union efforts in Washington and Pennsylvania are curious. On one hand, you accuse the Washington teacher groups as being ineffectual, thus not producing higher salaries as you would expect them to be able to produce.
On the other hand, you seem to claim, in Pennsylvania, unions have be "too successful," in other words, exceeding your own view of union performance standards. Maybe you should praise Pennsylvania teacher unions?
Finally, you point to the existence of more than a few "burned-out" paycheck stealers, etc. in Pennsylvania. Do you have an actual list of specific names of those bad teachers, or is this claim just your assumption?
You're right about comparing salaries across different areas - I was curious to see what the comparison was, but (of course) this data would have to be filtered to consider the different cost of living in each area.

Regarding the "strength" of teacher's unions, I was responding to NWGuy's assertion that teacher's unions in Washington were weak and ineffective. I have no other information on that subject in the Washington area, but I do have a long held belief that the teacher's unions are allowed to get away with way too much in Pennsylvania. Obviously, I realize others may feel differently about this, and we've debated this subject on these forums often in the past.

There is no way I'll praise local teacher's unions for what they've accomplished - in fact, it disgusts me in many cases - but I will admit that they are a formidable force. The union mentality of "take, take, take" is on full display in most cases. They haven't "exceeded my expectation of union performance" - they've exceeded what I (and many others) am willing to agree are reasonable demands, and eroded the overall respect that people should rightly have for teachers (which was the whole point of my original post).

I'll pretty much ignore your request for a list of "burned out" unenthusiastic teachers as obvious sarcasm. I know a certain substantial percentage of teachers that fit that description, as I'm sure everybody else does, and it's not worth debating the exact percentage. If you'd like to take the time to go around to everyone and compile a master list, feel free to do so!
Truth can hurt

Allentown, PA

#53 May 7, 2009
Thanks, Common sense, for commenting without the baseless name-calling that pervades this kind of discussion.

As for "deadwood" teachers. After spending 35 years in the classroom, I can only think of 1-2 that MIGHT be in that category. Then again, I was too busy in my own classroom to be able to observe my colleagues.

That's the point I always try to make. IF, and that's a strong IF, there are deadwood teachers in place, it is NOT the responsibility of OTHER classroom teachers to solve the situation. We have administrative persons for that.

So, should anyone be convinced there is a real problem in this regard, I suggest they attack administrators, not teachers for the oversight.

Despite what people understand tenure to be, there is a VERY REAL path to remove such teachers. All that's needed is administrators willing to walk that path.

“I get to see an Angel everyday”

Since: Dec 08

Allentown, PA

#54 May 7, 2009
Truth can hurt wrote:
Thanks, Common sense, for commenting without the baseless name-calling that pervades this kind of discussion.
As for "deadwood" teachers. After spending 35 years in the classroom, I can only think of 1-2 that MIGHT be in that category. Then again, I was too busy in my own classroom to be able to observe my colleagues.
That's the point I always try to make. IF, and that's a strong IF, there are deadwood teachers in place, it is NOT the responsibility of OTHER classroom teachers to solve the situation. We have administrative persons for that.
So, should anyone be convinced there is a real problem in this regard, I suggest they attack administrators, not teachers for the oversight.
Despite what people understand tenure to be, there is a VERY REAL path to remove such teachers. All that's needed is administrators willing to walk that path.
Isn't there deadwood in every profession?
Common Sense

United States

#55 May 7, 2009
Truth can hurt wrote:
Thanks, Common sense, for commenting without the baseless name-calling that pervades this kind of discussion.
As for "deadwood" teachers. After spending 35 years in the classroom, I can only think of 1-2 that MIGHT be in that category. Then again, I was too busy in my own classroom to be able to observe my colleagues.
That's the point I always try to make. IF, and that's a strong IF, there are deadwood teachers in place, it is NOT the responsibility of OTHER classroom teachers to solve the situation. We have administrative persons for that.
So, should anyone be convinced there is a real problem in this regard, I suggest they attack administrators, not teachers for the oversight.
Despite what people understand tenure to be, there is a VERY REAL path to remove such teachers. All that's needed is administrators willing to walk that path.
I have the same respect for you - we may have different views on this subject, but I enjoy an honest discussion!

I definitely have run across more of what we are calling "deadwood" teachers than you apparently have, even in some fairly good school districts. This might be due to a different definition, or just bad luck on my part. While you are technically right that there is path for district administration to get rid of these teachers, the path is extremely convoluted and difficult (and sometimes impossible) due to union and tenure rules. For this reason, I blame the system and the teacher's unions for these deadwood teachers as much, or more, than I blame the individual administrators.

Replying to Hoofty's comment...yes, there is deadwood in every profession. It is my opinion, however, that any profession covered by the union system has a much larger percentage of this. In my mind, the obvious reason for this is the fact that union rules prevent these people from being removed from their positions, as would happen much more often in non-union positions.

For either of you (or anyone else)...as someone who has experienced the school system extensively as a student, and now as a parent, but never worked in that type of environment, I'm curious about the relationship between teachers and administrators. It often seems quite adversarial, with a clear wall between the two, and I've never quite understood why - especially since many/most principals & superintendents have spent a lot of time teaching in the classroom. I guess it's an inevitable boss/employee thing, but I think it is also magnified by the union/non-union nature of the two positions. Any insight on this???

“I get to see an Angel everyday”

Since: Dec 08

Allentown, PA

#56 May 8, 2009
Common Sense wrote:
<quoted text>
I have the same respect for you - we may have different views on this subject, but I enjoy an honest discussion!
I definitely have run across more of what we are calling "deadwood" teachers than you apparently have, even in some fairly good school districts. This might be due to a different definition, or just bad luck on my part. While you are technically right that there is path for district administration to get rid of these teachers, the path is extremely convoluted and difficult (and sometimes impossible) due to union and tenure rules. For this reason, I blame the system and the teacher's unions for these deadwood teachers as much, or more, than I blame the individual administrators.
Replying to Hoofty's comment...yes, there is deadwood in every profession. It is my opinion, however, that any profession covered by the union system has a much larger percentage of this. In my mind, the obvious reason for this is the fact that union rules prevent these people from being removed from their positions, as would happen much more often in non-union positions.
For either of you (or anyone else)...as someone who has experienced the school system extensively as a student, and now as a parent, but never worked in that type of environment, I'm curious about the relationship between teachers and administrators. It often seems quite adversarial, with a clear wall between the two, and I've never quite understood why - especially since many/most principals & superintendents have spent a lot of time teaching in the classroom. I guess it's an inevitable boss/employee thing, but I think it is also magnified by the union/non-union nature of the two positions. Any insight on this???
Common Sense:(Love your name by the way)

Unfortunately, the "deadwood" you speak of, at least in my experience is the "5/95 rule" or 5% of negative individuals are casting a poor light on the 95% who are doing well. I have many friends in different levels in the education system. Most of them are teachers and some are administrative.

The adversarial relationship lies in idealism and policy. The really good teachers, and I hope to be considered in that group, think that they can truly make a difference in a child's life. The administrators are the ones who worry about lawsuits, following policy, and compliance. They wish that the other was a little more like they are. In a sense, they are the yin/yang or the check and balance. The teachers remind the administrators that they are dealing with educating children who are rapidly evolving and the administration reminds the teachers that there are rules that have to be followed.
Truth can hurt

Allentown, PA

#57 May 8, 2009
Hoofty has it right. Teachers and administrators have a different focus on many issues. In both cases, I believe the majority (95%) are doing the best they can.

Earlier, someone asked about the qualifications of administrators, as they were once teachers, too. Over a very long career in public education, I saw many teachers become administrators. Truth be told, it "SEEMED" a few of them went that route because they were not happy in the classroom. Their only option out, was to become a guidance counselor, or an administrator of some sort. After an additional 30 credits, or so, their new position would certainly be different, but not necessarily easier.

I was part way through my EdD in Administration when I realized my heart was better connected to the kids. I remained in the classroom, and don't regret it.

(although I did retire at the earliest possible opportunity!)
Common Sense

United States

#58 May 8, 2009
Hoofty wrote:
<quoted text>
Common Sense:(Love your name by the way)
Unfortunately, the "deadwood" you speak of, at least in my experience is the "5/95 rule" or 5% of negative individuals are casting a poor light on the 95% who are doing well. I have many friends in different levels in the education system. Most of them are teachers and some are administrative.
The adversarial relationship lies in idealism and policy. The really good teachers, and I hope to be considered in that group, think that they can truly make a difference in a child's life. The administrators are the ones who worry about lawsuits, following policy, and compliance. They wish that the other was a little more like they are. In a sense, they are the yin/yang or the check and balance. The teachers remind the administrators that they are dealing with educating children who are rapidly evolving and the administration reminds the teachers that there are rules that have to be followed.
We're fairly close in our perception...although I'd personally put the "deadwood" number at 10% or so. You are also absolutely right that it is the actions of these individuals that demean the teaching profession as a whole.

Thanks for your input on the adminstrator (specifically principal)/teacher relationship...as I suspected, it sounds like a lot of the rub comes from the traditional issues involved in a manager/employee relationship. I still wonder, however, if that base friction is contributed to by the union/non-union division between the two positions.
Common Sense

United States

#59 May 8, 2009
Truth can hurt wrote:
Hoofty has it right. Teachers and administrators have a different focus on many issues. In both cases, I believe the majority (95%) are doing the best they can.
Earlier, someone asked about the qualifications of administrators, as they were once teachers, too. Over a very long career in public education, I saw many teachers become administrators. Truth be told, it "SEEMED" a few of them went that route because they were not happy in the classroom. Their only option out, was to become a guidance counselor, or an administrator of some sort. After an additional 30 credits, or so, their new position would certainly be different, but not necessarily easier.
I was part way through my EdD in Administration when I realized my heart was better connected to the kids. I remained in the classroom, and don't regret it.
(although I did retire at the earliest possible opportunity!)
Fair answer (and one I didn't see before my reply to Hoofty). You are right that there probably is a different set of skills necessary for a good teacher and a good principal/administrator, and this may be some of the cause of the friction that I have seen.

Obviously, I've made no secret here about my personal view that teacher's unions are a negative force overall in education in PA, and I understand that you (and Hoofty) probably both have different views - we'll probably have to "agree to disagree" on this overall issue. I am curious, however to know what your answer would be to the question I asked Hoofty - do you feel that the union/non-union designation gets in the way of the partnership between principals and teachers that, in my mind, is absolutely necessary to effectively run a school?
Truth can hurt

Allentown, PA

#60 May 8, 2009
Common Sense,

Not to sound wishy-washy in answering your question, but impedence to the needed partnership really depends upon the individual in either position.

I've seen examples of what you describe, but overall, I would answer "No."

The building principal and his/her teachers NEED to work together or the school will never meet its mandate. Effective principals and dedicated teachers realize this and do whatever is necessary in benefit to the kids, even if one of the parties is unhappy now and then.

Effective teachers satisfy ALL requirements of the contractual agreement, and then provide MORE.
Successful principals are surrounded by that type of teacher. Any principal who doesn't acknowledge the "above and beyond" doesn't last very long.

Surely, there are teachers who say "I'm not going to cover that class, because it would mean my prep time is taken." Those teachers don't last very long either.

Sadly, my administrative studies (at Lehigh) were a little too "anti-teacher." Perhaps it was just one or two misguided professors, but I couldn't tolerate that mindset. I chose the kids.
Common Sense

United States

#61 May 8, 2009
Truth can hurt wrote:
Common Sense,
Not to sound wishy-washy in answering your question, but impedence to the needed partnership really depends upon the individual in either position.
I've seen examples of what you describe, but overall, I would answer "No."
The building principal and his/her teachers NEED to work together or the school will never meet its mandate. Effective principals and dedicated teachers realize this and do whatever is necessary in benefit to the kids, even if one of the parties is unhappy now and then.
Effective teachers satisfy ALL requirements of the contractual agreement, and then provide MORE.
Successful principals are surrounded by that type of teacher. Any principal who doesn't acknowledge the "above and beyond" doesn't last very long.
Surely, there are teachers who say "I'm not going to cover that class, because it would mean my prep time is taken." Those teachers don't last very long either.
Sadly, my administrative studies (at Lehigh) were a little too "anti-teacher." Perhaps it was just one or two misguided professors, but I couldn't tolerate that mindset. I chose the kids.
Fair answer...thanks!!!

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