Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Getting Schooled.

Teachers within the Berkeley Unified School District are no longer assigning written homework assignments to their students. After two years without a pay raise, instructors say they refuse to grade such assignments in their free time. Seems to me like these teachers have a legitimate gripe, but really -- to refuse to grade homework or even assign it? I absolutely support their demands for better pay. Hell, I'll stand around after school and picket with them. Their current actions, however, are pathetic. The only people that are punished as a result of their irresponsible behavior are their students. Does anybody within the district really believe Arnie will increase statewide education funding as a result of their refusal to teach? This is the kind of stuff that makes me sick. We should give them a raise *and* they should stop their deplorable tactics immediately.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a pretty poor way of trying to get the public to see the plight of the teachers of california. Starting teachers around these parts make probably around 40K which is pretty good for a starting teacher until you note that you have to pay in excess of 1K a month for a one bed room apartment in the area. An interesting note about teachers trained in California have to study teaching as a graduate program after a bachelors degree. This makes being a teacher a 5-6 years of College job to start.

Unfortunately where is the state going to get the money. Washington is not going to give more money to us and income and sales taxes already seem high. Only place left is property taxes.

8:10 PM  
Blogger mindful said...

Or more efficient administration! Why is it that private schools can provide a better education at a lower cost per student than public schools? It's because they have a real incentive to reduce costs. Otherwise, they go out of business. There is no such incentive for public schools.

8:32 PM  
Blogger Vavoom said...

Current school districts have become heavily reliant on their respective administrations. Cutting back such roles may require teachers to do even more than they do now. Absent a pay raise, I don't think anybody would want to be a teacher under those circumstances.

9:13 PM  
Blogger mindful said...

Look, I don't know anything about the intricacies of running a school district. But it seems that if private schools can do it, public schools can too. The extra money from administration savings could of course go towards teacher salaries.

9:24 PM  
Blogger Vavoom said...

So are you suggesting teachers do more and get paid accordingly?

9:38 PM  
Blogger mindful said...

No. Actually, I am not even familiar enough with the organizational structure of schools to understand where the savings would come and how. I don't know how the teacher workloads compare between public and private schools. But there is clearly an inconsistency. I do not claim to know how to fix it.

One interesting point though. According to the Department of Labor, teacher salaries average out to about $44,000 during the school year, with extra money able to be earned during the summer months. People with Bachelor's degrees in chemistry, on the other hand, have a median starting salary of $31,000 for the entire year. Sorry about the discrepancy in the kinds of numbers cited, I've got to work with what's given me.

12:28 AM  
Blogger Vavoom said...

Teachers are entrusted with the most critical of public services -- educating our children. 44k simply isn't enough. You have a point, though, administrative adjustment may be a good cost cutting technique. However, with rising class sizes is that possible? More students = heavier administrative load.

2:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mindful, that 44K is the median salary for teachers the starting salary list right below that is 31K like your chemist. While private schools might be said to provide a better education for less they have major advantage of not having to cover the cost of special education for the students who need it. This cost is not small given that a special ed class has say 12 students verses 20-30 and has both a teacher and probably 2 aids plus all the additional services like speech and PT.

Also you are wrong about the cost of private schools verses public. Public schools in this area operate on about 7K per student while some private schools charge up to 21K per year. Private schools generally pay their teachers about half what public schools do. Why would a qualified teacher work for half the pay? The students are often better behaved and the additional parent involvement in the education process makes the teaching easier.

1:00 PM  
Blogger mindful said...

Anonymous, I did note the discrepancy in the kinds of salaries being cited. Sorry, but those are the only figures that were given in the DOL reports.

As to the relative costs of public and private schools, I could as easily claim that some private schools charge as little as $900 (elementary school) and $2100 (high school) per year. In fact, if you look at national averages, you find that the cost per pupil at public schools is $6857, while the private school average is a mere $3116.

vavoom: I'm sorry if I gave the wrong impression with the salary comparison. I am definitely not opposed to raising teacher salaries. I just thought it was an interesting tidbit.

In sum, all I'm trying to say is that it seems (and maybe I'm wrong!) that teacher salaries could be increased without increasing the overall tax burden. It's just that the cumbersome public school administration system needs to be trimmed.

7:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, what a situation. I agree with everybody who has posted a comment, but I haven't seen any comments on the idea of vouchers. Are they a solution, or will they just compund the problem?

12:47 PM  
Blogger Vavoom said...

I'm concerned about vouchers. Yes, they give parents buying power and choice in the educational process. What's disconcerting is the effect that will have on already struggling schools. Sucking away funding may not be the best approach. Also, there exists little regulation of private school practices. I'm still investigating how much money such vouchers would offer parents. Would they cover the full tuition costs of an expensive private school? If not, then it seems the approach will only favor the wealthy while leaving the poor with an even larger problem. Recall, the school districts in poor areas are often lacking in performance. Vouchers may leave poor students in worse conditions.

11:07 PM  

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