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Education in the USA

Equilibrium31

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I always hear that but honestly it’s not what I see on the street level. Teachers in these parts start in the 50s & go up & over 100 depending on their level of education & time in with the district. Plus, free or nearly free healthcare both during their working years and after retirement, pensions the district contributes to, tenure which makes their job more secure than any job I’ve ever had/will ever have, and 12 weeks vacation which I’ll only get when I retire or croak, whichever comes first.

I think there was a time (before the Unions put a stranglehold on every municipality in the nation) AND the private economy offered much higher average wages than it does now along with pensions and job security that one could credibly make the argument that teachers (& other public servants) got the short end of the stick. But that was then, this is now & the pendulum has swung hard in the other direction to the point where government jobs are at least as (if not more) attractive than many of those in the private sector. We seem to keep making dated arguments about how awful teachers get paid and I just don’t see it as true anymore, at least relative to the rest of us.

Grab any group of 100 people & I bet 99 of them would say they’re underpaid and underappreciated for the amount of work they do & horseshit they deal with, teachers by no means have a monopoly on that gripe.

Keep in mind this is just my observation in this region, I'd imagine it's better or worse for some teachers elsewhere. By the way, I completely agree with the balance of your statement.
I agree that the over-security that comes from being a teacher is a problem, but the base pay is still too low when you consider the value of that work to the rest of society.

I also agree that you can't judge the right-size of pay based on what people feel is appropriate. A better model for determining pay (at least, in my opinion), is considering the value of the work itself along with how much added value you can gain from seeking top talent through offering a higher wage.

This doesn't work for every job, of course, since the economics of revenue gain will often be a bigger factor in what you can offer, but when it comes to public schools, this is all determined by budget allocated by government and not by profit margins or shareholder revenue.

But unions tangle this whole situation up substantially because a union will always act in the interest of both itself as well as the workers it represents. In some ways, this can be good, such as when they act to limit class sizes and teaching conditions that some teachers will request since that will result in better conditions for education to the students. However, it also results in unions that make it too difficult to fire under-performing teachers and too difficult to make any changes that undercut any of the power that unions have, overall.

It's sad because unions have historically been amazing for protecting workers from some obscene exploitation, but they can also be harbors for corruption that at best over-correct problems of exploitation and at worst simply end up being a burden to workers who don't want to join as well as organizations that already have good intentions.
 
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Rockomuchaco

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I'll just put this out there, I am a teacher. However, I get to teach one of the "fun" classes, welding. I worked in the industry for 20 plus years including owning my own shop for 10. I'm in my second year of a new career and am absolutely enjoying it. Our district does a fantastic job of supporting our trades (CTE) department. The pay isn't bad either. All of our trades teachers; auto, wood shop, welding, CAD have industry experience. I think a lot of it depends on where you are located. Most of our kids are going straight to work out of high school. I do what I can to support each one of them to be successful. I show them the correlation between welding/ fabrication and the higher math classes. I also try to reinforce to them that many of the trades share a lot of basic knowledge. I make sure they know how to write complete sentences and build a resume. I'm fortunate enough that I've worked in industry and can show them different types of welding, so that allows me to somewhat cater to what they want to learn. . My goal for them is to attain a welding certification, whether it's to D1.1, D9.1, ASME, API codes, etc. I involve the students with purchasing material, quotes, safety, QA...everything that would take place in a shop, be it a mom and pop or a full blown manufacturing facility. I treat them with respect and trust and expect the same in return. To date, this has been very successful. I do not treat them with kid gloves on and occasionally I need to get into their A$$ a little bit. I tell them that just because they take these classes, it doesn't mean they have to be welders, but at least they know a skill and always have a means to put food on the table.
 

Westtown Willy

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I agree that the over-security that comes from being a teacher is a problem, but the base pay is still too low when you consider the value of that work to the rest of society.
there's no question our priorities are a wee bit upside down. I was watching my Eagles get their asses kicked (again) yesterday this time by the lowly Dolphins when they announced that our kicker Jake Elliott "signed a 5 year, $21,000,000 contract."

a kicker, the guy that sits on the bench about 59 out of every 60 minutes of each game, on a shitty team no less - 21 million to kick a ball 16 Sundays per year for 5 years. Compare that to what a teacher does and what they do it for. I get it.

But I don't begrudge Elliott that, or anyone else for that matter what they make, if the market pays it they deserve it.

Apparently, this is what we think is important.
 
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Equilibrium31

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there's no question our priorities are a wee bit upside down. I was watching my Eagles get their asses kicked (again) yesterday this time by the lowly Dolphins when they announced that our kicker Jake Elliott "signed a 5 year, $21,000,000 contract."

a kicker, the guy that sits on the bench about 59 out of every 60 minutes of each game, on a shitty team no less - 21 million to kick a ball 16 Sundays per year for 5 years. Compare that to what a teacher does and what they do it for. I get it.

But I don't begrudge Elliott that, or anyone else for that matter what they make, if the market pays it they deserve it.

Apparently, this is what we think is important.
Well, in any capitalistic society, the people that make the most money will always be the people that *can* make the most money and not necessarily the people that *should* make the most money. Ideally, the private sector will correct this based on appealing to self-interests for the most part and the government will correct as needed beyond this...

but the key word there is "ideally".
 
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InOmaha

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Which of the 13,500+ school districts are we talking about? Do we include private and religious schools too?

It's too varied even when you get down to the city level.

If there were 13,500 pro sports teams, the punters would make less money.
 

Bryan Statham

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Schools have turns into a social gathering rather then a school. I was afraid to be late, didn’t wanted to be called out in class, nor goto principal, or get a bad report card...and never would talk back to a teacher.!!
I did a couple of those myself. Getting your ass whipped or kicked was a good deterrent for me. And most of my friends too.
 

PointerTJ

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I went to one of the largest high schools in the state that I grew up in and while there were vocational opportunities for students the cards were stacked against it. If you wanted to take shop, welding, auto or whatever you could, but you had to do so at a separate campus that provided vocational courses for the entire district. College prep courses were not offered at that campus so you had to make a choice at age 15: bail on the possibility of going to college or bail on learning skills that can put a roof over your head by the time you’re 18. Try being 15 and telling your parents that college isn’t for you. This was around 2006 and very few kids I grew up with opted for vocational courses. I doubt this sort of thing was isolated and now we have no talent pipeline for the next generation of trades folk because everyone was encouraged to go to college.

Also my wife is a public school kindergarten teacher. The pay is minimal, the benefits are on par with or less than most white collar private sector jobs and she regularly pulls 10+ hour days during the school year. Teachers are the punching bags for unhappy parents and the laboratory for academics and policy makers that think they know what is best. I would not tell anyone to go into that career unless they truly have the passion and the patience for it. It is not a perfect system for the children or the teachers.
 

billiebob

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I sat around Thursday with my brother in law and we started discussing how middle and high school just doesn’t seem very helpful anymore.. when we were in school we had auto mechanics, welding, construction, home ec. Just to name a few and it seemed as the school system was trying to help kids be prepared for the future. Now all or most of the trade classes are replaced with videography and whatever which is fine but what happen to trying to being diverse and helping several children. They aren’t even learning cursive anymore, how are you suppose to sign a document. Shouldn’t they learn how to save money and learn how to use a credit card correctly?? I feel the system is all about forcing a curriculum down their throats and the teachers making sure the kids get a good grade so they can keep their jobs, idk.. I just feel something has gone wrong with the schools both at HS level as well as the college level. So I wondered if anyone else feels this way or you think it’s gotten better?
On the money !! But school content is driven by parents and unfortunately todays parents don't want their kids to be plumbers. Some are willing to bribe the big universities to accept their kids.... often kids who are better suited to and would happier in a tech school. But the parents have visions of grander things and egos needing to brag to their friends.

If you want something else you need to be on the School Board. And it'll be painful.
 
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billiebob

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30 years ago the tech school I went to announced they were building a new wing, I thought right on, then I found out it was going to teach computer programming.
 

AndyG

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I sat around Thursday with my brother in law and we started discussing how middle and high school just doesn’t seem very helpful anymore.. when we were in school we had auto mechanics, welding, construction, home ec. Just to name a few and it seemed as the school system was trying to help kids be prepared for the future. Now all or most of the trade classes are replaced with videography and whatever which is fine but what happen to trying to being diverse and helping several children. They aren’t even learning cursive anymore, how are you suppose to sign a document. Shouldn’t they learn how to save money and learn how to use a credit card correctly?? I feel the system is all about forcing a curriculum down their throats and the teachers making sure the kids get a good grade so they can keep their jobs, idk.. I just feel something has gone wrong with the schools both at HS level as well as the college level. So I wondered if anyone else feels this way or you think it’s gotten better?
Schools need to teach kids to survive .

They need to learn to handle people, money , property and real life challenges as well as how to read , write and do math ....and above all , how to work. How to be told what to do. How to follow instructions , and how to shut up and get things done .

Never one time since school has diagramming a blame sentence made me a dime or got me out of a fix .

As far as trades , we are terribly unbalanced , because we frown on blue collar work for little snookums.

We have been so busy filling the corner office we forgot to teach people how to build it . Now we have mostly druggies in the trades, because the need for help is so bad , drug testing isn't an option .

I remember the teacher said If we didn't learn whatever crap she was stuffing in our heads , we would dig ditches .. and I also remember the equipment operator that dug our basement made like 5000.00 dollars in 3 days by himself back then.. give me a shovel and let me out of here .

"Go to school and make something of yourself " has been the mantra for decades, and in that , is also the message that book knowledge is everything and you are a failure if you don't blindly pursue it .

Anybody that learns to work , handle money and talk to people professionally can make a fortune in this country , and millions have . One in 200 Americans is a millionaire .

On average , people with well developed vocabularies earn 20 percent more ,and that's a fortune over a lifetime . ..so there is value in education .. but even that is part of one of the greatest skills schools need to teach ...how to communicate effectively , get your message across , to be articulate .

I'm a contractor and my livelihood is not totally dependant on the work we do , but more so on my ability to articulate how we are going to do it , so clients choose to hire us ....and resolving challenges smoothly after they do.

Great thread Hog .
 
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khakitj

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I’ve worked with some experimental physicists who became very good at metal work, welding, plumbing, electrical wiring, etc, because they needed to be hands on in their lab.

There is a story about Enrico Fermi where his car broke down on a long road trip - after he fixed it in the parking lot of a gas station, he was offered a job there as a mechanic.
 
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Hotrodbud

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Is it just a coincidence, or did the quality of education start to go down when teachers could no longer discipline the unruly and disrespectful little angels?
 

JEEPCJTJ

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I don't think it's a coincidence or when it started. Stopping the teachers was just another step in the master plan to end up with as many young adults as possible to be less than completely intelligent, if not flat out stupid. Adults that can't think properly are easier to control.
 

Bryan Statham

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I don't think it's a coincidence or when it started. Stopping the teachers was just another step in the master plan to end up with as many young adults as possible to be less than completely intelligent, if not flat out stupid. Adults that can't think properly are easier to control.
Yep. Keep the masses dumb and poor. Their easier to control.
 
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InOmaha

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My daughters are recent graduates. We picked a school system after research and then bought our house. It's a good school system with vocational programs available if they wanted. It's was easier to find the district I wanted, the better schools in it, and find a house to live in nearby. We could home or private school but this public school system was really good. They did not follow federal teaching guidelines and developed their own to bypass common core and no child left behind.

One thing that's interesting, and I believe a sign that the "no child left behind" policy is permanently engrained; the ACT/SAT are going to a new system where you can retake the sections you do poorly in and then compile your final test from the highest scores from each separate section. It was bad enough the kids would take it 6 times in school, but now they don't even need to bother retaking the entire test. They've made these tests about raising everyone's score rather than determining the best fit for the student.

My kids are in college now and one of the professors allows the kids to retake tests if they get low scores. Most classes are scaled so much that getting anything above 70 is an A. Things like test scores, and GPA, and diplomas are less and less of an indication of intelligence or can be used as a differentiator.

These kids are in for a world of hurt when reality doesn't always allow do-overs, there are winners and losers, and people actually expect something from you for the check they write.
 
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Hog

Hog

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My daughters are recent graduates. We picked a school system after research and then bought our house. It's a good school system with vocational programs available if they wanted. It's was easier to find the district I wanted, the better schools in it, and find a house to live in nearby. We could home or private school but this public school system was really good. They did not follow federal teaching guidelines and developed their own to bypass common core and no child left behind.

One thing that's interesting, and I believe a sign that the "no child left behind" policy is permanently engrained; the ACT/SAT are going to a new system where you can retake the sections you do poorly in and then compile your final test from the highest scores from each separate section. It was bad enough the kids would take it 6 times in school, but now they don't even need to bother retaking the entire test. They've made these tests about raising everyone's score rather than determining the best fit for the student.

My kids are in college now and one of the professors allows the kids to retake tests if they get low scores. Most classes are scaled so much that getting anything above 70 is and A. Things like test scores, and GPA, and diplomas are less and less of an indication of intelligence or can be used as a differentiator.

These kids are in for a world of hurt when reality doesn't always allow do-overs, there are winners and losers, and people actually expect something from you for the check they write.
I agree
 

khakitj

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My daughters are recent graduates. We picked a school system after research and then bought our house. It's a good school system with vocational programs available if they wanted. It's was easier to find the district I wanted, the better schools in it, and find a house to live in nearby. We could home or private school but this public school system was really good. They did not follow federal teaching guidelines and developed their own to bypass common core and no child left behind.

One thing that's interesting, and I believe a sign that the "no child left behind" policy is permanently engrained; the ACT/SAT are going to a new system where you can retake the sections you do poorly in and then compile your final test from the highest scores from each separate section. It was bad enough the kids would take it 6 times in school, but now they don't even need to bother retaking the entire test. They've made these tests about raising everyone's score rather than determining the best fit for the student.

My kids are in college now and one of the professors allows the kids to retake tests if they get low scores. Most classes are scaled so much that getting anything above 70 is and A. Things like test scores, and GPA, and diplomas are less and less of an indication of intelligence or can be used as a differentiator.

These kids are in for a world of hurt when reality doesn't always allow do-overs, there are winners and losers, and people actually expect something from you for the check they write.
It’s harder to fire people nowadays too, at least in CA. The number of steps involved to avoid a lawsuit is just infuriating. It often makes more economic sense to pay someone to leave than to go through that process.
 
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Flivver250

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Next time I have a argument or statement to make.. I’m gunna have you say it for me..
We have all been trained from K-12 to revere teachers and blindly trust the government workers in our schools. It is in fact social heresy to speak out against them. Most are afraid to do so. They are the most untouchable class we have. You can kick the crap out of cops, but don't you dare utter a harsh word against the high and mighty. After you slice away all the BS and nonsense, if you factor what tenured teachers make per actual hour worked, it is quite impressive. It might be a trifle tough on a first or second year teacher, but after that, it is all smooth sailing.
 
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Deuxdiesel

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This is my 24th year as a middle school Science teacher, and along the way I have had to work as a carpenter, coach, fire-fighter and bike mechanic to make ends meet for my family. I am a strong supporter of the NEA because they help protect teachers from frivolous and capricious actions by administrators as well as egregious situations perpetrated by parents and students. The horror stories that you hear are true about student behaviors, to the point that my co-worker and I jokingly say that we are going to write a book called "You Can't Make This Shit Up" that chronicles what goes on in public schools. At lunch yesterday, we had a discussion about teacher pay and the looming teacher shortage. We all agreed on two things- none of us would allow our own children to become teachers, and all of us would forgo salary increases in exchange for more resources to better help the staggering increase in the number of children with special needs. I am not a social worker or psychologist, and I didn't create the problems these students have, yet I am expected to treat them and educate them concurrently. Everyone has "bad teacher" stories, which is not surprising given how many teachers there are (over 3.2 million). Every single profession has it's bad eggs, including but not limited to law enforcement and military, but like all professions, the overwhelming majority are conscientious, hard-working decent people who do not have the autonomy to fix what they know are systemic problems.

Off my soapbox now.