My View: Chicago school day: A teacher responds
August 7th, 2012
06:10 AM ET

My View: Chicago school day: A teacher responds

Courtesy Madonna RampBy Xian Barrett, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Xian Barrett teaches law and Chicago history at Gage Park High School in Chicago, Illinois. In 2009, he was selected one of ten Classroom Teaching Ambassador Fellows by the U.S. Department of Education. This article is in response to comments on a previous story about Chicago teacher work days.

Educators will often observe with some frustration that our profession is one of the few that people from all walks of life feel comfortable commenting on and often criticizing. Precious few know the intimate details of what our days are like. While the negative feedback can often be disheartening, I think we must regard the public’s interest in our work as a great opportunity—it shows that people care deeply about the calling to which we have devoted our lives.

If some people’s perceptions of what we do with our workdays does not match up with the reality, we have an obligation to inform them of that reality. This need has been particularly noticeable in the public discourse on the length of our school day.

Much has been made of the shortness of our school day, especially here in Chicago. The oft-cited 296 minutes is the amount of time Chicago elementary school teachers are in front of students. As a high school teacher, my contract requires that I teach five 45-minute periods each day. On Fridays, each class is shortened by 4 minutes to allow for a 30-minute homeroom period. Doing the math, that’s 225 minutes each day, with 235 minutes on Fridays.

I can understand how that sounds like a short day.

However, to count a teacher’s working minutes by looking at the time we are directly teaching students is like only counting the minutes that a dentist has the drill in your mouth.

Just as you want to your dentist to prepare before operating on your teeth, parents should want educators to prepare before we teach your child. We have many duties beyond the time we are directly instructing students.

How much time do I really spend each day?

Most Chicago teachers give our all in very challenging conditions. A recent Gates study suggests that the average teacher works 53 hours per week, while University of Illinois researchers found that Chicago teachers work approximately 58 hours per week. Several years ago, I counted my own hours and found that I was consistently working between 70-90 hours each week.  Through challenging conditions, we impact hundreds of students positively every day; sometimes in small ways, sometimes in earth shattering, life-changing ways.

I teach 9th grade world studies. In a given day, between classes, organizational activities, hallway interaction, phone calls and social media interaction, I will engage between 200-250 students, former students and parents.  At my current school, I report to work at 7:22 a.m. and can clock out at 2:15 p.m. with a 45 minute lunch period. This compares similarly with the lengths of school days in the higher performing suburban districts. In Chicago, public high school days that are the “shortest in the country” exist only in the minds of those attempting to impose a longer school day.

In addition to teaching five classes, one 45-minute period at school is reserved for preparation; we get four of these each week. There is little time to prepare anything as students are there as well, catching up on work or participating in our “restorative justice program,” where students help each other design constructive programs to restore damage they caused by breaking rules. This program saves us time in the long run; a reduction in student misconducts has reduced missed time dealing with discipline and has lowered the number of students failing for disciplinary reasons.

Another period is dedicated to our mandated common planning time. We review the district’s latest initiatives or analyze our student achievement data. The students spend nearly four weeks of class time taking standardized tests

The last period of the day is spent with my cooperative special education teacher as we plan for the next week. We trade advice on how to support some of the students struggling a bit in each other’s classes.

When the end of the school day comes, I head down the four flights of stairs to the basement where I meet our Youth Summit organization members. Our meetings last until 3:30 and we often will schedule collaborations with other student groups or trips in the late afternoon. We also travel and perform service-learning projects most Saturdays during the school year.

On any given day, I will spend two hours at home creating my own lesson plans or adjust existing materials to the specific needs of my students. I will also sit down to grade papers and return calls and messages. Many of my texts, emails, Facebook, Twitter and phone messages are from current students, usually regarding homework and several are from former students needing a letter of recommendation or support on some life emergency.

The other day, I finally called back my mother who’s been calling me for days. She says, “You sound tired, I’m going to let you go.” I set my alarm for 4:30 a.m., and glanced at my cell phone. It was 1:14 a.m. I fell asleep on the couch.

Last month, our hundreds of elected union representatives voted unanimously to reject a recommendation of an 18.2% pay raise in compensation for an extended school day. We want improvement in our schools, and we would like to be compensated fairly for our work. There are just far more effective ways to support our students’ learning.

Both the Chicago Teachers Union and the VIVA (Voices, Ideas, Vision, Action) teacher group I work with have created reports on how to better use time in our day to maximize student learning.  (You can click on the links on their names to see those plans.)

Personally, I simply wonder where the extra time would fit in. I don’t want less time with my students, I want more self-directed time where I can give my students what they need rather than give them more district proscribed testing and test preparation.

I am happy to work on solutions—one year I did a policy writing fellowship with the U.S. Department of Education while teaching five classes—but too often community, student, parent and teacher-generated solutions are ignored. I don’t think this is unique to Chicago.

My hope is that we can get beyond the common teacher bashing narrative to acknowledge that we share a great deal: we all want what’s best for the children of America; I and those in my profession just express that desire through our direct work while others express it through their desire for school improvement. If we can respectfully dialogue and build solutions, we can reach the best possible future not only for our students but also for our nation at large.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Xian Barrett.

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Filed under: Issues • teacher unions • Teachers • Voices
soundoff (169 Responses)
  1. Pirate

    You guys crack me up!!! I teach in a southern state. I make approx. 35,000 a year (21,500) bring home. My health insurance alone is $850.00 a month!!!! First, I do have children who wonder where their next meal will come from. I have students who don't know who is picking them up or where they will sleep after school. I also have students (many) whose parent(s) is incarcerated locally. (usually drugs) So yes, their lives, either unstable or poor, it does make a difference in how they learn.
    The other thing I'm noticing is not only am I the teacher, I am the rule enforcer, manner teacher and punisher. I have many student who are allowed to behave like monkeys at home and think they can do so at school too.

    The problem IS us. Us as parents, community, families and leaders. If you don't teach them ALL the aspects they miss out on some of the important ones.

    August 11, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
  2. Anna

    I am tired of being told that poverty does not make a difference. My students in the inner city school I teach in come to school knowing less words by the hundreds than their counterparts. They have experiences limited by their environment. They are therefore at a disadvantage to understand things. IT MAKES A DIFFERENCE. They, because of this disadvantage, are labeled as failures when they are not up to the same level as people in better economic situations. Can they learn, ABSOLUTELY, but it will take them a little longer. I am told to differentiate for my students, but the standardized results are not differentiated for them. Then there is the brain research that shows that the brain cannot learn if a person feels threatened. If you don't know where your next meal is going to come from, if you are afraid you may get shot if you go outside, if you are being pressured to join gangs and are accepted there when at school you are only a failure. I have to fight poverty and culture everyday. I have to make a person see the importance of what I am trying to teach them, while some one else is showing them a fast way to make lots of money or forget their problems. Whether I should get paid more than I do really does not matter to me although maybe it should. I want people to stand up and take responsibility for what is happening. Everyone has a stake in the success or failure of our students. And they are students, not products. I cannot build a successful student using a business model. Use education and brain research to reform education, not business models. With students the only bottom line should be, did I do everything I could to prepare them for where they will go in the future.
    I am a teacher and have been one for 18 years. I was out of teaching for two years working in the "real world" as well. I will be happy when I get the respect I deserve for what I do. I am confident that my students learn. I have built relationships with them and some still contact me. I have data to prove what I say about my students that would satisfy under any accountability system. I am proud of this.

    August 10, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • Ashley

      "Can they learn, ABSOLUTELY, but it will take them a little longer."

      Anna, you are absolutely right. Poor kids can learn at the highest level with MORE TIME and MORE DEDICATION. That is what's needed. God forbid not every child is cookie-cutter and some need more time in school! A poor child combined with a poor teacher is a death sentence for that child! Poor kids need excellent teaching more than the rich kids do. Why is this so surprising? There is a segment of society (teachers unions, politicians who want to maintain the status quo and keep getting votes, administrators unions, education bureaucrats, etc.) that does not want to accept this simple fact. Kids of ALL income levels are capable of an enormous amount! Poverty is an impediment but it is a SCHOOL'S JOB to look at those impediments and to say regardless of these obstacles, we will overcome them. Unions want every teacher and every student to be treated the same, and this is a failed view. Every child deserves a top-rate, quality education and that means something different for every child, every community and every school. The problem with unions is they take a one-size-fits-all approach to education.

      August 11, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
      • Deidre

        The Chicago Teachers Union is negotiating with the mayor for a quality school day that includes enrichment and reading support and for a limit on class sizes - neither of which the mayor wants to provide. He wants to focus on business opportunities - charters - for the wealthy elite who fund his campaigns. The elite don't care about the middle class and want to take their profits from teachers wages and benefits. The mayor is working hard to make that happen. The Gates-funded propaganda campaign would have you believe that all teachers are lousy, all schools are failing, and poverty is always an excuse. Propaganda makes it easier to screw the teachers during union negotiations.

        August 13, 2012 at 4:24 am |
  3. RHE

    Interesting comments. I am currently a middle school teacher, and 10 days ago my assignment was changed, so I am scurrying to put together the lessons for the upcoming year. My classes (6) have 125 students, and no textbooks. I have been a military officer (Air Defense Artillery – 1st Infantry Division) as well as a computer programmer and IT project manager. The author of the article was pointing out how many hours he works. My first several years I worked even more, but gradually I have whittled it down to 60 to 65 hours a week. Of all my jobs this is absolutely the hardest. Fortunately for me I have the financial resources so I actually do not care about my salary. But in eight years my salary has gone from 24900 to 48500. (I teach in Texas where we do not have unions). The rewards of getting through to a 13 year-old are greater than the bonuses I received at Bank of America, but the heart ache over the students being thrown under the bus by tea-party Republicans is crushing.

    Oh yes, why would I agree to teach a class that has no materials – it is not a testable subject. I get to be a teacher without any interference.

    Please do not offer Finnish solutions. Finland enjoys a 2to 4% childhood poverty rate and the US enjoys a 23% childhood poverty rate. Here in Texas the economic miracle state – the rate is 55%.

    August 8, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • AK

      RHE, I appreciate your comments. But I have to point out something.

      By comparing the US poverty rate to Finland's, are you suggesting poor kids can't learn? This myth has been thoroughly debunked. Poor kids (even poor kids from bad homes) can learn and even exceed the results that wealthy children produce when put in a top-quality school and taken out of a failing school. The problem isn't poverty; the problem is low expectations. Set the bar high from the beginning, consistently and ANY kid can learn at the highest level. Let's throw the theory that poor kids can't learn in the trash....It's been PROVEN!!!!!

      I am beyond tired of people in the education establishment acting as if poverty is the root cause of our broken educational system. Throw out the unions, cut administration, make schools compete for $$, longer school year, longer school day, accountability across the board.

      August 9, 2012 at 2:02 am |
      • Julie

        AK- as a current middle school administrator and current educational researcher I must tell you that you ideas on poverty are wrong. True poor children can learn but there is a huge gap from where a poor child starts and where middle-class and upper-class children start (BTW I am a product of generational poverty and I excelled but I realize I am the exception not the rule). We have children whose parents are literally 12 years older than them who never saw a book before they sat in a classroom and go home to neglect and violence. Finland is an amazing place but its roughly the size of one mid-western state in America and they simply do not have the issues we do. Poverty is the leading perdicter of a child's educational success. This is all found in current research and peer reviewed articles if you care to look. Until we adress the social issues we can not even begin to adress the educational issues some of our children are facing.

        August 9, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
      • Julie

        And lets not forget that Finland and many other countries actually have shorter school days and shorter school years than America.

        August 9, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
      • AK

        Julie, in response to your reply, looks like we have to agree to disagree. As someone who has worked with disadvantaged youth for years, poverty is certainly an OBSTACLE to learning and achieving at the highest level, but it is not an obstacle that cannot be overcome. These kids need MORE TIME, MORE FOCUS, HIGHER EXPECTATIONS and to have the bar set high from the beginning, not when they are already lost. The bar has been set SO LOW for poor, inner-city, minority kids. Seriously, it is criminal. When you say there is a "huge gap between where poor and rich children START," at what point in time in a child's life are you referring to? Age 2? 3? Kindergarten? It's been demonstrated that once a child is lost academically, it is almost impossible for he or she to catch up and to close that gap. Some people say we can't fix education until we fix poverty. The truth is we can't fix poverty until we fix education. Education has the power to pull people out of poverty but frankly there is a segment of society that prefers the poor and disenfranchised to stay that way and to maintain the "status quo" of lining pockets off kids' failures. It's disgusting.

        August 9, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
      • SFK

        ...and I'm tired of the arrogance displayed by those who think it has been proven beyond a doubt that poverty is meaningless when it comes to educational success. Inform yourself! Don't just take political talking points and wishful conservative thinking to bash teachers. Maybe start here:http://garyrubinstein.teachforus.org/2012/08/08/the-danger-of-denying-the-coleman-report/
        Thank you.

        August 10, 2012 at 10:03 am |
      • Judy

        AK, you have never taught school or even worked in one, have you?

        August 10, 2012 at 11:15 pm |
      • KP

        AK your premise that poverty has no effect is great way to turn a blind eye to the effects of poverty. if a Police officer told you poverty was a main factor in street crime would you say he is lying, and what he needs to do is to expect more from the starving poor people on his beat? I am a NYC school teacher and this is one of the subtle effects of poverty many of my students have iPhones which retail at $600 since they have pre paid cell phones they do not get discounts. So many of them either work after school or hustle and sometimes both to get the money and in the world of minimum wage this can take 2 to 4 weeks to get that much extra cash. This is hard work for an adult but these kids are doing it with a huge chunk of the day already spoken for they now have to work from 4pm to 11pm or midnight to put in enough hours to get the phone in 4 weeks. They get home and to bed by maybe 1am and they have to get to school in 7 hours so they arrive anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes late they could not study they were at work and dont even ask for homework. The real fun is that in NYC schools students can not have cell phones so they either smuggle the phone in or they pay $1 a day to store it but God, Allah, or Buddha help any teacher who tries to confiscate the phone if it goes of in class or they are texting with it during a lesson. I will be honest there are some kids can do this and maintain decent to good grades but a large number of kids can not and if you throw in the other constants of poverty crime, poor health care and disjointed families we have the elements for failure. I do agree with you AK I do need to have high expectations of them and the one expecttation I have is that they dont want an iPhone more than an education but until that happens I sit in the middle of my class and chant my high expectations to my students because that is all we need thank goodness my Union will back me.

        August 11, 2012 at 8:14 am |
  4. Angie

    This is why i work from home. I would love to share you what i do . Please email me
    angielovesvisalus@yahoo.com

    August 8, 2012 at 7:24 am |
  5. Al Shret

    Iris – City leaders are suppose to represent the interest of the community. I am not fond of Emmanuel (D) but in terms of education, he is trying to address the issue more seriously than his predecessors. His fight against the Union is not a good political move as he risk the support from the Unions and teachers.

    I agree with you that the CPS board members need to be elected and not appointed. It just breeds corruption right now. We're currently at this point because of previous CPS administration agreeing to every Union's demand in trade for votes. The problem with the school system in Chicago is that everyone agrees that there is a problem but no one is willing to take any action or want to compromise. The Union in particular is so dead set of deflecting all the blames to others yet they continue to protect the bad teachers at all cost. That is the reason why many in Chicagoan are not sympathetic to the teachers or the Union as their arguments seems too shallow. Especially when all you hear from them is about the amount of hours and pay.

    There certainly is an issue with some of the communities when those so called leaders like Jesse Jackson are quick to blame discrimination on everything and are completely silence when it comes to violence against one another. The point is, CPS have limited controls over communities. But they can demand more from the Teachers and Union. That starts with school system being able to remove bad teachers. These teacher are simply failing generations of kids. Teachers arguments about parents also not doing their jobs at home are completely valid. But if a parents failed to do what is right, for their kids, it is their own kids that suffer and that haunts the parents later as well. But if a teacher fails to teach, then not only are generation of students affected, there are also no consequences for that teacher.

    You can see why a bad teacher is a larger problem for everyone. Again some laws needs to be change that will allow school administrators to be more firm with disruptive kids and not allow parents to sue teachers or principal unless the complaints is of a criminal nature. That is the kind of fight that we want to hear from the Teachers Union pushing lawmakers and leaders into changing some laws to help their members becomes successful teacher. Rather than the usual threat of strike over pay increase and other benefits.

    August 7, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
    • Iris De Jesus

      Yes there are bad teachers, bad cops, bad CEO's, bad in every profession. Until we deal with the social-economic issues of our communities nothing will change. My pay should not depend on students who transfer in and out of my class to take extended vacations. It should not depend on students who won't read or study. It should not depend on kids who refuse to learn English. It should not depend on the mayor or any other life long politician in this city who continues to be elected into office although they continue to serve their own interest and don't know anything about being in a classroom everyday. It's always easier to tell someone how to do it better when you're not the one doing it.

      August 8, 2012 at 11:20 am |
      • Al Shret

        Yes, social-economic issues plays huge role and everyone shares the blame. That is quite evident when you compare inner city schools to suburban schools. You don't have to be a teacher to understand how disruptive kids can affect a classroom. Teachers should know how to handle those situation as it should part of teaching skills. Inside the school, teachers, counselors, and principals should have the ability to manage or remove problem kids.

        I agree that teachers' pay should not be based on grades alone. Grades can be manipulated and that is what happened here in Chicago. If you want to know who the bad teachers are, just ask the principals, counselors, fellow teachers, and students. You don't need grades for that. Teachers' evaluation should include grades but it must also factor in reviews from principal, peers, and feedback from students, counselors, and parents.

        Then principals should have the ability to get rid of a teacher based on all those factors together. Teachers should also have the ability to push out a principal if he/she is proven to be ineffective using the same reverse evaluation. I am certain that all teachers starts out with good intention to make a difference. Overtime, some just simply give up and stop trying to the point that they don't care or even teach anymore. They show up to do the minimum so they can collect paycheck until retirements.

        I might not have full insight of what a teacher has to go through but some of my friends who are teacher speak of how frustrated they are to see peers who have no business teaching but are tenure (untouchables), yet great teachers are let go because of budget cut and mainly because they are not tenured. They are just as frustrated as everyone that nothing can be done to these deadbeat teachers. Students also complains of the same thing.

        The difference between great teachers and average teachers is that they do understand and accept the reality of socio-economic problems. They transcend their role of educators to life coaches. Their impacts on their students are permanent. We all have teachers like that. They do it because they care about the kids, they love teaching and want to make a difference. If I am a teacher... I would evaluate myself by asking myself if I am as good of a teacher as my best/favorite teacher was when I was in school?

        As far a pay goes, teachers in Chicago are well paid. According to CPS the average is $76,000 without benefits. No, they are not paid like sports athletes or movie stars but they are well compensated with some of the best retirement plans in the country that private sector can't even compare with.

        August 8, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
      • Exactly

        Iris–you are spot on. Teachers are being blamed for things that are outside of their control. I am not a teacher, but I am tired of the lies and DISRESPECT dumped on teachers. They have a hard job, that comes with little pay and long hours. The testing of students is a sham. I really think that all this teacher bashing is an effort by some to break teachers unions to try to PRIVATIZE our public school system so that private companies can profit off of our children like a commodities. I think we should NOT ALLOW this. KEEP our schools PUBLIC. KEEP public money for pulic schools only. We are at war with corporations! Hands off our students and our public schools! Help parents and teachers fight this!!

        August 9, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • Iris De Jesus

      How did our mayor who didnt even live in Chicago get on the ballot in the first place? Of course "he is trying to address the issue more seriously than his predecessors", he does not need financial support from anyone. He is a millionaire. Isn't this why politicians in the city of Chicago give in to union demands?! Why do you think elected officials in Springfield have not done anything about pension reform? It's because they'd have to begin with themselves. Now that's a sweet pension deal. I simply want to be paid for the time I work and I would love support from administrators downtown who have clearly forgot what it is like to be in a classroom. In what other profession do you have to bring your own supplies to work? In what other profession do you pay for your own training? In what other profession do people expect you to work for free with a smile and tell you you're not a good teacher because you're not willing to do it? In what other profession do you have to take a sick day to pick up your own kids report card? In what profession are you scolded for taking a sick day to stay home with your sick kid. I'll work a longer day, I'll work year round as long as I get paid to do it. I would like some parents besides the two that helped me all last year to parent, monitor and correct their children as I do mine. If merit pay is good for teachers, maybe it's good for all city and state employees too. Police officers; crime goes up in area they patrol, no raise, crime goes down, raise. Mayor; anyone under him gets indicted or is in a scandal for taking bribes, kickbacks, etc, he loses his job with no benefits. Governor; how about we hold him accountable for everyone's performance under him. City hall? Think about all the jobs there you could do merit pay for, we'd save a fortune. Maybe we could close that deficit. It takes a village, not one teacher in each classroom can fix what's wrong.

      August 9, 2012 at 11:10 am |
      • Al Shret (veteran)

        Ok, $76K average pay for a Chicago teacher is still not enough... I want to hear from Chicago teachers what they think they should get paid. After several failed negotiation, the CTU still want 35% over 3 years, really? So how much should a teacher gets paid... $100K, $200K? Half a million? There a many teachers in the country that are truly underpaid and would love to have the fraction of that. I have a good friend who was a teacher clearing 6 digit income after she retired (almost $120K). And current teachers want more? At what point do Chicago taxpayers say enough is enough. Teachers shouldn't be comparing themselves with politicians unless they want to be lumped together as a bunch of corrupt individuals. Has Chicago Teachers' Union (CTU) looked at the state's debt, national average income, unemployment numbers, other professions and pay? The taxpayers are your employers. Many do not believe that Chicago public school teachers are under paid at all. But everyone agrees that they are under performing as a whole. All these debate about "I have to buy my own supplies" or "work hard" are internal issues that CTU should be addressing on the negotiation table. The term "works hard" is subjective too. What makes a teacher works any harder than say a janitor or a person who cleans hotel rooms, folks who works on 3rd shifts, taxi cab drivers, truck drivers, folks who works in farms, and so on... Is a janitor work less important than a teacher? It all depends on which way you want to look at it. The point is, don't compare. Every professions require some type of sacrifice and the average employee works a lot more than 40 hrs. Some get paid more pay and some don't. An employee can generally ask for more if they can justify it whether through results, bringing in more revenue/profits and etc... Everyone can all argue all day about how they are not getting paid enough for the work they do. Even if you give Chicago teachers 6 digit salary, you'd still have the Unions and teachers complaining about not getting paid enough in another few years. As long as the bad Apples are not weed out, there is no guarantee that their results would be any better this time (based on the history).

        August 10, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
  6. Iris De Jesus

    Mr. Barrett is merely giving a glimpse into the day of a teacher. CPS is trying to fix a system that's been broken for too long for it to be fixed in one years time. City leaders call for reform but they only want reform on their terms. Real reform will come when they break up this huge monster that is CPS into smaller pieces and put in an elected school board. It' will come when teachers don't have to deal with things they are not equipped to deal with such as emotional and behavioral issues in the classroom that take away from the focus of teaching. It will come when parents take ownership of their community schools by painting, fundraising, cleaning and getting involved in every possible way. It will come when we stop bussing these kids into strange neighborhoods unfamiliar to them instead of fixing the environment they are already in. After all, it is the people in the community that make the community, the school. It will come when we stop segregating our kids based on race, academics and testing. It will come when we go back to the basics of reading and writing. It will come when we are not so afraid of offending poor parenting, poor management and laziness. It will come when we demand real reform from our elected officials and control over our schools and our children. Until then it will never be about the kids.

    August 7, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • Heather Alexis

      i completely agree with all of your statements and it's so refreshing to hear someone else say it!

      August 7, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
  7. AK

    I worked in a top public school system for 3 years. Although I met some truly dedicated and caring teachers, I estimate that a solid 30-40% of them should not have been teaching and for that matter, would never last in the private sector. Their was an entitlement mentality that permeated the entire district, from the top down. Working past 5 p.m. was considered sacrilege. The school building was 95% empty by 4 p.m. every day except for maybe a janitor. 2 weeks off at Christmas, a week at spring break, all federal holidays, snow days and a solid 10-11 weeks of time off in the summer was sacred ground. Teachers would game the sick day and maternity leave system, deliberately getting pregnant in the summer so they could take off in March and not work again until late August. Teachers would "bank" their sick days every year, using personal days when they were "sick" and then taking off 2-3 weeks early (paid) at the end of the year. Don't even get me started on the administration. Glorified paper pushers making $90,000 a year with absolutely no effect on educational outcomes. There were actually positions like "Assistant Secretary to the Assistant Director of Curriculum Planning." These people were very well-paid and no one really knew what they did all day. Their salaries are all public information but for some reason no one questioned it. Some of the most entitled, overpaid "fat cats" you could ever imagine.

    August 7, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • KP

      Timed their pregnancy??? AK are you even a human being you sound like an unemployed man who would rather hate on teachers because your Third grade teacher chastised you for being cruel. You say a district had 30% to 40% of incompetent teachers i doubt that very much wether people want to admit teaching is not a career you can muddle through easily every day if you cant stand being in a classroom it is like being lowered into a pit of Vipers for 45 minutes 5 times a day for a 180 days.

      August 12, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
  8. Al Shret (veteran)

    Just want to add this note for folks who are not local to Chicago: Most of the suburban school districts in Chicago are doing quite well and the results shows. Most of these debates are on CPS (Chicago Public School). To be more specific, the inner cities schools are the ones dragging most of the grades down for the rest of the state. Again, it is unfair to blame teachers alone. Parents and environment play huge factors as well. But Union is certainly one of the biggest problem here as they are completely against holding anyone accountable.

    August 7, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
  9. Al Shret (veteran)

    Putting aside my small violin... No one is discrediting how important teachers are or disputing their works. All these discussion about hours and pay are irrelevant. I am not a teacher but here is a perspective for all you teachers out there.... Soldiers are paid much less, works harder, endure much longer hours than teachers. Yet you don't hear soldiers complaining all the time. Furthermore, if a soldier makes a mistake, they sometimes pay dearly with their comrades lives or their own. What degree of accountability does a teacher have? None if it is up to the Teacher's Union. All it takes is one bad math teacher at any grade level to cause an entire class to struggle all the way through. The problem here in Chicago is not hours or pay. It is their horrible results. The Teacher's Union wants absolutely top rewards and compensations for the teachers. Yet, the compensation to result ratio that they are asking for is completely at opposite ends. There are many great educators out there who deserves recognition and better pay. Their accomplishments are being tainted by those deadbeat teachers who only cares about cushy retirement/pension under the protection of Union (which more or less is an extortionist organization). Chicago teachers and its Union are not winning the hearts of the locals by asking for 18% pay increase. Especially when the state has the worst bond rating in the country. FYI... average workers pay increase is 2.9% and many folks are still loosing their jobs.

    I understand parents must be held accountable for their own kids as well. Here in Chicago, as much of the blames goes to the parents of those failing students as well. But that is another topic of conversation.

    Teachers should consider themselves to be lucky. Be held accountable, voice up against your Union. Show us some real results before complaining about pay or hours! For those teachers who don't like the pay and hours, then find another profession and please stop ruining generations of kids. For the rest of the teachers, we applaud you for your efforts but try to keep it within the realm of reality. Thanks!

    August 7, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • Lucas

      My brother (in the US Army, just back from Afghanistan) was joking with me the other day about how he makes about twice what I do as a teacher. Now to be fair, not all of it is salary, a chunk of it is a living allowance. Of course, I can't retire at 37 and expect the taxpayers to pay my pension for the rest of my life, or decide to quit after 4 years and have my medical paid for the rest of my life either. Soldiers do very well, especially when you compare his daily life (as opposed to his life in a combat role) and the work that it entails.

      August 8, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
  10. hmmmm

    On average, teachers are paid what they're worth but the good are undercompensated and the mediocre are paid too much. Good teachers are priceless and deserve higher pay, but how do we identify good teachers? Can we rely on student performance on standardized tests? How about student evaluations or peer evaluations? How do we factor in the role of parents and environment?

    August 7, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
  11. WrshipWarior

    Thank you CNN for deleting my post. You successfully carried out precisely what I said.

    August 7, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • jomartin

      Hi there,

      You'll find your comment is posted now. It was not deleted by any person but rather trapped by a filter, along with a few dozen others.

      August 7, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
  12. MACT

    I have worked in and out of education for 50 years and will agree that there are some terrible teachers, just as there are terrible people in every job. It would be worthwhile identifying the worts offenders and, either bring them up to par, or get rid of them. On the other hand, I can say with certainty that the parental and community support has declined precipitously over the years. Most parents no longer try to work with the teachers, but simply expect them to achieve results when students are not being challenged at home. The media is also partly to blame: how many papers and TV stations routinely have positive stories about academics as opposed to sports. Why not an academic student of the week, rather than an athlete? If students are failing, it is time for everyone to share the burden again: not place all of it on the teachers.
    It is worth noting that 50% of teachers leave within 5 years: not what you would expect if you think it is such an easy job that pays so well.

    August 7, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
    • AK

      MACT, the reason so many teachers leave within 5-10 years is because the teaching work force is predominately female (75-80 percent) and yes, most female teachers tend to lean traditional/conservative/maternal. They lave to start families and like many women, opt out permanently to stay home. One thing I have noticed about public education is the longevity of careers, not the fact people are leaving. In the private sector, workers don't have 30-50 year careers like they used to. People work 3-5 years in one position. Teaching has been so protected, especially in unionized states, that teachers have 30-40 careers. Anyone with a teaching job is NOT LEAVING these days because frankly, they've got it good.

      August 8, 2012 at 9:19 am |
  13. chicago7

    The point that it's results and not effort that should determine pay is well-taken. But failing students in the Chicago Public School System are not the fault of bad teaching but of inattentive parenting, fractured families, poor nutrition and a culture of violence in the communities many of these kids have to live in.

    August 7, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
  14. Lost in the Flip

    did anyone think it's not about the teachers, but the whole system and culture of America? Parents, Teachers and kids have this unreasonable sense of freedom that accountability gets lost somewhere. Parents think the teachers are not doing their job, teachers believe they are not getting paid well (which could be argued because not a lot of countries pay their teachers high salary and their wages depend on their experience and level of accomplishment) and kids especially high school kids in general or at least in the public schools have no regard to the teachers at all. Parents have this mentality that they can barge in the school and threaten teachers to sue if they committed one mistake so in turn, teachers get scared of losing their jobs so they become passive and let the kids do whatever they want in class (throwing stuff at the teacher, cursing them, making fun of them). Respect and accountability is gone in the public school system. it all starts there. I know this because I have cousins who are public high school and tell them stories that I cannot even fathom happening in a school.

    From where I grew up, kids are scared of getting demerit, kids are scared of disappointing their parents and you are a loser if you don't pass or graduate or perform well. And yes, there are students here and there who are misguided but generally nobody really disrespect a teacher or a superior because they don't want to get in trouble at school or at home.
    It's the mentality.. it's the culture. How do you change that?

    August 7, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
  15. WrshipWarior

    The role of a teacher has radically transformed from well respected instructor/mentor/coach to baby-sitter/parent. It's unfortunate for children fromgood families to have to suffer. The family structure and values systems that we once held in high esteem in this nation are what is seriously missing from the equation today. Liberal activists have succeeded gradually in removing all our moral values from society and have even passed laws that allow for a complete free-for-all, "I'll do whatever I want to because I'm entitled" mentality to reign among us. And then have the audacity to yell "bigot, hater" whenever somebody with values and morals tries to take a stand for righteousness.
    Since the 1960's, among other things, we have removed prayer from our public schools, legalized abortion, seen the total degratation of the family value system, and made it so that anyone opposed to the destruction of America is silenced. And we wonder why things are the way that they are... God, have mercy on us!

    August 7, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
  16. AK

    I worked in a top public school system for 3 years. Although I met some truly dedicated and caring teachers, I estimate that a solid 30-40% of them should not have been teaching and for that matter, would never last in the private sector. Their was an entitlement mentality that permeated the entire district, from the top down. Working past 5 p.m. was considered sacrilege. The school building was 95% empty by 4 p.m. every day except for maybe a janitor. 2 weeks off at Christmas, a week at spring break, all federal holidays, snow days and a solid 10-11 weeks of time off in the summer was sacred ground. Teachers would game the sick day and maternity leave system, deliberately getting pregnant in the summer so they could take off in March and not work again until late August. Teachers would "bank" their sick days every year, using personal days when they were "sick" and then taking off 2-3 weeks early (paid) at the end of the year. Don't even get me started on the administration. Glorified paper pushers making $90,000 a year with absolutely no effect on educational outcomes. There were actually positions like "Assistant Secretary to the Assistant Director of Curriculum Planning." These people were very well-paid and no one really knew what they did all day. Their salaries are all public information but for some reason no one questioned it. Some of the most entitled, overpaid "fat cats" you could ever imagine. We need to cut administration and hold teachers accountable for results. The real debate is how do we develop a system of accountability.

    August 7, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
  17. teachmetonite

    I believe that teachers work hard...but who doesn't! I think the market works reasonably well and I think teachers are, in general, compensated fairly. I do believe, however, that the erosion of benefits has been greater in the private sector and that, today, teachers and other government employess enjoy a relative advantage in that area with better health insurance and retirement benefits.

    August 7, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • JDA

      Compensated fairly? Give me a break. I have a Bachelor's of Arts degree....people who have the same degree in another field will generally in their first year of employment in their field make at least 10K and usually 20 to 30K more than a first year teacher. In my area, a teacher with a master's degree and 10 years of experience will only make in the 40K range (entry level pay for most people with just a B.A.) Teachers are FORCED in order to keep their licenses and jobs now to get a masters degree even if the monetary investment is basically throwing money down a hole because they won't be compensated for that investment unlike other fields. Yes, maybe teachers technically get "summers off" but not really..summers are filled with preparation for the next year, attending conferences and workshops and classes...many days when students aren't attending during the school year is NOT a day off for the teachers as they are attending more workshops and classes to improve their instruction. On top of all of that, there are VERY few other jobs that put up with the kinds of things teachers have to put up with day in and day out which more than makes up for perhaps having some more time off than other jobs...and add into that the hours of time spent off the clock at home preparing lessons, grading, creating instructional material, etc instead of being able to spend time with our families like a lot of other people get to do once they clock out for the day. People that criticize teachers and think they're paid enough have no idea what it's really like to be a teacher, they have no clue whatsoever. I know of teachers who due to a divorce or death of a spouse are single parents and the pay they get as a teacher qualifies them for public assistance! NO ONE who has put the time and effort into getting a college degree and is working in their field should EVER make so little they qualify for welfare and food stamps. It's an embarrassment how low on the priority totem pole education is in the U.S. A car dealer would laugh in your face if you walked in with $500 and said you wanted to buy a brand new top of the line Cadillac but that's pretty much what people expect from our schools and teachers.

      August 7, 2012 at 10:56 pm |
      • Philip Dailey

        I have been a teacher for 28 years. If I was paid what baby sitters are paid, I would triple my salary.

        August 8, 2012 at 8:49 am |
  18. Dave

    The problem is not with teachers. Its the concept of demanding a raise when Chicago Public Schools rank near the bottom in comparison to the rest of the country. I'm sorry, but the the salaries and pensions are completely out of control in the public sector.

    August 7, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
  19. chad rad

    *GASP* You walked down –4– flights of stairs!!

    YOU DESERVE $100,00 per year, free healthcare, 4 months vacation!!! Few if any people can achieve such a feat.

    See, reason people mock teachers is because you all think you are so "special". A day in the life of a real job, dealing with adults rather than kids, would leave you near death.

    August 7, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • Chris from chicago

      @ Chad Rad-

      I see why your hostility toward teachers is so vocal, since your reading comprehension is at the level of a child you must harbor some feelings about a few teachers in particular!

      The article is on point. People love to blame teachers, talk about their benefits, talk about their pay, then look at the normal structure of the school day as an example of how much they work. Can you really be so dense to think a teacher ONLY spends time teaching? When do they prepare lessons? when do the grade homework? when do they help students individually?

      Mr. Barrett gives an excellent insider look into the world of a teacher, and hopefully people will begin to realize the problem is with parents and kids. Teachers can't make your children successful when you fight them every step of the way. That said, I also think some changes should be made with regard to teachers unions, but that is another story.

      August 7, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
      • Gina

        LOL...

        Chris,

        That was funny!

        August 11, 2012 at 1:56 am |
    • fritz

      Taking that one sentence out of the entire article shows that you had an opinion before reading this and were just looking for a sarcastic comment to make at the end. Also, dealing with parents and administration/management would count as dealing with adults. Have you ever dealt with 200-250 children in one day and expected to keep them entertained and engaged while teaching and making sure they learn? I'm 100% sure you would not be wherever it is you are without teachers "Mr. Rad".

      August 7, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
    • chicago7

      It's hard to believe you've ever worked with kids, even as a parent, even as a babysitter, if you think working with adults is more difficult.

      August 7, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
    • anony

      Dude, that comment is going to get you hammered.....

      August 7, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • concerned

      You, sir, are an idiot.

      August 8, 2012 at 11:57 am |
  20. Rachel

    I can understand the frustration that some people who are outside of the educational system looking in can feel when all they hear is rhetoric from politicians about low test scores and failing schools. It's unfortunate that we as adults can't have an open and honest conversation (without attacking each other) about what really needs to be done to help our students who are struggling.

    The fact of the matter is that many students in the inner city have so many issues that they're dealing with OUTSIDE of the classroom that sometimes, it's difficult to get through to them. I have had students tell me about being abused (both physically and sexually), about wittnessing murders, about having their homes burn down, about having people shot right next to them, about worrying about where their next meal is coming from, about how they're going to make it home safe when they have to travel through 3 different gang territories.

    We have all had situations where something heavy is weighing on our minds and we find it difficult to concentrate and subsequently, find it difficult to put 100% into our work. Imagine if you constantly had life or death issues on your mind and you were only 14, would you want to sit and listen to some teacher tell you about the importance of some old white guy from 200 years ago?

    It may seem silly to some, but putting more money into resources for our children could and would help. More money for early childhood education would mean that ALL children could go to preschool (something that numerous studies have shown increases the likelihood of future academic success). More money for school social workers would mean that children who are dealing with major psychological issues can get the help they need to deal with them, so that they can focus when they are in the classroom. More money for parent programs would mean that parents would learn the skills necessary to work with their child's teacher, because the reality is, we can't do this alone.

    August 7, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
  21. Erik

    We want better teachers but, at the same time, we are critical of their salaries. You can't eat your cake and have it too.We should emulate Finland: create teacher training programs that are rigorous and highly selective and lure the brightest and best with high salaries commensurate with those found in private sector jobs employing the bright and talented (e.g. law, medicine, engineering). In Finland, only 10% of applicants to teacher training programs are accepted, putting then on par with some Ivy League universities, but upon graduation, those teachers are among the highest paid professionals in Finland.

    August 7, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
  22. TiredODaCrap

    Sorry, but this guy should have kept his mouth shut. I have nothing but respect for teachers – related to many. However, it's arguments like this that give the bad opinion of what they do (or don't do). Who works a 4hour week anymore – at any job? I think teachers would actually be surprised at what those in other professions put up with, or have to do each day themselves.
    It's a great profession, and nothing is more important in the long run than educating our young people. However, reading things like this from some
    one who is supposed to be shaping minds really only shows me where the "ME, ME, ME" society has come from!!

    August 7, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • JDA

      I think you missed what he was saying. His point was that though he spends a certain amount of time directly in front of the students, he spends a lot of time doing work that is related to what he does in front of the students also, in fact spending more hours during the week working on things directly related to his job than people in other fields. As a former teacher and now a full time mom I can tell you that is definitely true. I was at work at 7:30 everyday and left around 4 and then spent another 3 hours at home lesson planning, grading, and creating instructional materials and doing research related to my job. After I got home from work I would pick up my kids from daycare, go home and cook dinner, then do job related work until it was almost time for my kids to go to bed. I hardly got any time with my family....and for that I was paid 30K a year. Ridiculous.

      August 7, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
  23. jefffielhauer

    I don't care how long you work. It's results that count, and the results suck.

    August 7, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
    • Sussan

      More parents should become involved in their children's education and the results will change. How often do you sit down and go over your kids homework? When are we going to learn that it really takes a village?

      August 7, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • JDA

      Until we make students and their parents accountable and quit blaming it all on the teachers (who really have their hands tied as far as discipline goes and even as far as academics go in making students accountable) results are going to suck. You can lead a horse to water but you can't make them drink. Nothing is going to change in our schools until things change in the home. Parents are not doing their jobs nowadays. They can't be bothered to attend school events or conferences but they can sure find the time to come in and raise hell if their child gets a detention or gets a bad grade (that they earned.) The real problem with our schools really isn't our schools...it's the home.

      August 7, 2012 at 11:05 pm |
  24. judy

    The very first thing that I saw when I opened this story was the girl sitting there eating a bag of chips......Are you kidding me......no respect, for teachers, police, parents or anyone.....that is half the problem in any school in any city......We would get slammed for chewing gum......I guess the more we get PC the more the kids run wild......Alll the money that is spent per child for a school year these days, they should be all A students.... we had usually 35 kids in every class and we were ALL quite....NO RESPECT>>>>>

    August 7, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • trp48

      hahahaha...........I just noticed that and it goes great with what the teacher is writing on the board, "Stay focused and on topic". They may actually allow this sort of thing now or it could just be a lunch and learn class they offer during students lunch hours, who knows but you would think they would have chosen a better picture.

      August 7, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • ZenSoapbox

      Actually, there are very good pedagogical reasons for allowing students to eat in class. Students with attention deficits in particular are able to focus better when they are allowed to munch on snacks or sip beverages. I'm sorry your teachers (and mine) were not so enlightened. :)

      August 7, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
      • Gina

        I found rat poop in the paper tray of my printer. Nooo to food in the classroom. They can eat in the courtyard and the cafeteria like the rest of America.

        Stop with all the paternalism.

        August 11, 2012 at 1:59 am |
  25. Accountability for ALL

    If everyone is really interested in raising the achievement of students in the United States, then it is high time we get more critical of parents and students, in addition to teacher bashing. You can have great teachers, but if you don't have parents who support their children at home and require them to put the time and effort into their studies, then you don't have much. You can have great teachers, but if you don't have students who are willing to focus, study, and realize education isn't about being entertained, then you don't have much. Maybe instead of bashing the education system, all of the affected parties need to recommit. EVERYONE should be held accountable. A united front will always secure greater results than one that is divided.

    August 7, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
    • ZenSoapbox

      Thank you!

      August 7, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
  26. Erik

    Granted, elementary ed. teacher training programs aren't the most rigorous tracks of study on a campus, but don't forget that high school teachers, at least, must major in their academic specialty in addition to the educations courses they take. Math, science, history, and English teachers all have majors in those disciplines, all of which require higher-order thinking skills that plenty of people lack.

    Also, one can't make the claim that higher quality teachers are needed while criticizing teacher pay. We should copy the Finnish model for teacher education: highly competitive, rigorous teacher training programs that attract the best and brightest through high salaries. Finnish teacher colleges only accept 10% of applicants putting them on par with schools like Harvard and Yale. Of course, in order to attract the best, they need to be paid salaries high enough to lure them away from more lucrative, private sector work. Teachers in Finland are among the best in the world, but they also earn among the highest salaries in the country.

    August 7, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
  27. M.E.

    Notice how all to pointless time-wasting work is ADMIN related. Reading the latest district initiative or preparing for the next standardized test. It simply furthers my belief that no school admin on the face of the planet is even worth a minimum wage salary. They're all a load of leaches who've weaseled their way into positions created by pioneering weasels looking to get a cushy job with full benefits and pension without actually doing anything of merit. I've never met a single one who was worthy of breathing oxygen, let alone being paid anything. Get rid of at least a few admin and suddenly you'll see things become significantly less dysfunctional! Have one principal and one discipline nazi, two if you're in a bad school. We had FOUR in my upper-middle income suburban high school. Throw all the counselors away since they have only ever been problematic drama-llamas and turn the counseling office into a "Career Center" with resources on colleges, tech schools, apprenticeships, and scholarships. Maybe install one human there to man the helm. That's really about all you need in admin to function properly.

    August 7, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
  28. SC

    I will agree that many teachers are underpaid...and that our method of teaching needs major overhaul. BUT, for you to try to get me to believe that most teachers are spending the amount of time you do in creating lessons, preparing for classroom activities, etc – then you have completely lost me there. I have not only had teachers who coasted through the school year, but have also had friends/family members who are teachers blatantly confess that they create their plans in less than an hour and in lots of cases, reuse plans year over year!

    If Mr Barrett truly spends the time he does and he gets RESULTS, then he should be justly compensated for excelling at his job. The other schlubs who do not put forth the same effort – stay with me here- SHOULD BE PAID LESS OR FIRED!(GASP!) – I can almost feel all the hateful comments from pro union-ites.

    We are also talking about Chicago here – I am from there and lived in downtown Chicago for 10 years – I can confirm it is among the most corrupt cities. We as the public have elected (and the mayor has appointed) complete imbociles who make all the dumb decisions which have directly affected the horrendous educational system in the city!

    August 7, 2012 at 11:54 am |
  29. SSGT

    I know that this message board has people from many different states in it but I can only count for one. My wife during the school year works her butt off. Many nights after school I have to tell her to stop so we can go to bed. The amount of hours that are put in is awful. As for the comments about all the holidays and spring break and summer time my wife does not gett paid for any of that. In North Carolina a teacher only gets paid for the amount of days taught. She does not even get a pay check during the summer. I have a challenge to all of you, go to your childs class and dont let the kids know you are there and see how distracting certain kids can be in a class. One kid can stop a class for 30 minutes because of behavior. Go spend some time in a classroom with your kid and see how a school day is now compared to when we were kids. A lot has changed. Some parents feel that school is nothing more than free day care and they should not be responsible for that child while their kids are at school. There is a reason that many young people quit before 5 years and that is because this job is vey demanding.

    August 7, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • Major

      Good suggestion! That is the same action I have been recommending for years. When I retired from the Air Force in 1992 I chose teaching as my second career. The first taught 10 years at a private high school, one year at a college, then 10 years at a public high school. One day at the private school a sudent confronted a teacher and told her she would kick her rear. The next day when the studentt was about to be dropped of at shcool the school administrator told her to stay in her car. He told the student's father "here are her personal items from her locker, don't come back, we'll mail you the report card." Compare that to the public school where a student called me a "punk" and told me "you better watch your back." No action taken. In public schools you will advanced students, trouble makers, gang members, and special ed students in the same class without and additional support. How can anyone teach at those levels in the same classroom. I didn't get into teaching for the pay so the pay is good. I am not a union member. I feel sorry for the young teachers who quit only three or four years. They expected better and now they have to go back to school to qualify for other careers.

      August 7, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • JDA

      Amen. I went into teaching to make a difference and was totally dedicated to it. I knew I wouldn't be making big bucks but believed I would at least be making enough to have a decent life. I mean, teaching is so important....you'd think that would be duly compensated...not making enough to almost qualify for public aid. I quit teaching after 6 years after working in a school with horrible discipline problems and my hands tied to do anything about it, parents that didn't give a crap, and being threatened by students and almost stabbed with scissors and pencils. I was pregnant one year and had a student tell me "I hope your baby dies!" merely because I asked her to please stop talking to her neighbor while I was teaching. I made the decision that the pay was not worth the lack of respect from students and their parents and society in general and amount of work and the loss of time with my own family. As soon as my husband was able to find a job that allowed me to stay home with my kids and give them that advantage I took advantage of it and haven't regretted it. What's really funny is that my husband who only had a two year degree and a couple of certifications was able to land a 60K a year job where the most I could have hoped to make in the district I was in even if I had gotten a masters was 40K. 30K was not worth the time I spent on AND off the clock doing what I was doing and the job was also not worth the mental toll it was taking on me and how it forced me to short change my own children.

      August 7, 2012 at 11:13 pm |
  30. Randy

    My belief is that Teachers salaries should equal or surpass the absurd salaries of sports!

    August 7, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • Laura Hernandez

      Absolutely, well said

      August 7, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • TiredODaCrap

      Yes, because teachers fill arenas and bring in millions and millions of dollars to their bosses every year? Right. Athletes are entertainers and are paid as such.

      August 7, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
      • fritz

        Teachers are the cause of every doctor, lawyer, agent, broadcaster, businessman, physiotherapist, etc that is responsible for the success of sports. So maybe take a step back and look at the larger picture. I don't agree that teachers should be paid more than athletes, but I do think that athletes shouldn't be paid that much money for playing a game.

        August 7, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • Lucas

      In our merit based economy, I think we should come up with a simple rubric for teacher pay. In theory we all agree that an excellent teacher is worth at least 100k a year. So let's make the base pay 100k per year for having 100% of your students (in a class of 20 kids) pass the test that the politicians are so eager to foist on students. Now, not every teacher has the same type of students, so we should have a multiplier. We already know that the two biggest factors in academic achievement are Parental involvement and income level. So I suggest that the teacher should be given additional pay for both. For every parent who does not touch base with the teacher weekly (email, notes to school, stopping by to chat about little Johnny) there should be a multiplier. For instance if half of your parents are not involved, you should get 50% more pay. Whatever the poverty rate is in your school (in terms of free and reduced lunch) you should get that percentage in pay. So now, if we have a teacher who has 20 students, 10 of them pass the mandated assessment, half of their parents are dead-beats, half are poor, the teachers will make around 100k per year. If you up the class size, there should be a $7500 bonus per child. It would be the only fair way to measure teacher value after all (of course the education reformers are not looking for fair, they are looking for cheap). Obviously if a teacher working in those conditions is able to get 100% of their students to succeed, they deserve every bit of money they earned.

      August 8, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
  31. Brian Thetford

    It is a simple solution. Get rid of the union, pay the teachers that actually teach what they are worth, get rid of the leeches who drag the system down, and replace them with teachers who love to teach. SOunds simple but it starts with getting rid of the union so that the position can become performance based, and your job is only protected by your success.
    Teachers need to once again be respected for the work they do, and the long hours they put it. That respect comes by way of children's achievements, those achievements come by having teachers that love their job, those teachers cannot thrive in an environment that rewards mediocracy, and sub par effort in the same way they are rewarded. Unions protect the weakest link, not the strongest, they promote the one who has been there the longest, not the one that has worked the hardest. The union wants the teachers to be equal, making the best no better than the worst, while they teach our children all about how they should excel to be better than anyone in their chosen field.....

    August 7, 2012 at 11:47 am |
    • a school counselor and history teacher

      How about parents actually parent so teachers are allowed to teach.

      August 7, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
      • ZenSoapbox

        Now THAT is something that is rarely mentioned in these conversations. A lot of focus is on what teachers are doing–or not doing. Very little is said about what parents are doing or not doing–and how they can be a force in the improvement of education. They could start by getting involved and by setting very high but very clear expectations for the behavior and academic effort of their children. You can look around any classroom for 5 minutes and see which parents do this and which do not.

        August 7, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
      • Docdb

        People out there have NO IDEA that teachers are playing parent too. We actually TOILET TRAIN kids in school now on top of feeding them breakfast and lunch and providing them with homework clubs. Parents do less and less and yell louder and louder. I am stereotyping, but so do the teacher bashers.

        August 7, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
    • ZenSoapbox

      First of all, getting rid of unions is not a simple solution. They can't just be arbitrarily shut down (although they are trying in Wisconsin). Furthermore, for every negative you point out, unions provide a necessary positive service, such as protecting teachers from arbitrary firing because of personality conflicts or for the rejection of unwanted advances, etc. It also protects older teachers who make a higher wage from being fired simply so they can be replaced by younger teachers who earn a lower wage. I agree that there are problems with unions–all unions–but they were also the backbone of the middle class that made the United States the most powerful country in the world for more than 60 years. I think it is no coincidence that the decline of unions is coincident with the decline of the middle class–which just happens to coincide with the continued decline of our economy. Yes, unions are going to have to make some major changes in order to help with solutions to the problems with education, but eliminating them is not the answer. Nor would it be simple.

      August 7, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • mk045

      At least you learned to oversimplify in school...

      Teacher unions provide many benefits to the schools and communities as a whole. But recent legislation here in Indiana specifies that only salaries can be part of collective bargaining. For example, teacher's unions in Indiana were the only thing keeping a check on class sizes. Having 30 kids in a class is too many – how much of a connection can a teacher make with those students. Now, these contracts cannot stipulate a maximum class size. As a taxpayer and parent, I don't want larger classes, I want smaller classes. As student populations grow (people moving from Indy out to the suburbs), districts will not hire more teachers; they'll just whine about the unions.

      Just more of the us vs.them mentality in this country; not realizing that we are all "us". parents vs. teachers, school boards vs. unions. It's all a bunch of crap. The problem with America is the Americans...we need to start by looking in the mirror, and realizing that, in this case, the teachers are our neighbors, our kids mentors, and by respecting them, we show self respect as well.

      August 7, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
  32. Pete

    I remember a college calculus class I took. The old professor would hold the textbook in his left hand as he stood at the chalk board and slowly write each word while speaking it in his thick Chinese accent. There was no taking of questions. We all just sat there while he transcribed and spoke the exact text in the book. Every. Class.

    Nice gig for him, to be sure. The students, not so much.

    August 7, 2012 at 11:44 am |
  33. Alex

    I am not a teacher but I do volunteer in an elementary school classroom. I dare anyone who thinks they know how easy a teacher has it should volunteer in a classroom and get a first hand look at what a teacher really has to do. It is also best to formulate an opinion based on actual experience and data. Unfortunately that is rarely the practice.

    August 7, 2012 at 11:41 am |
  34. William Demuth

    Only one criteria can be used to measure anyone. Your measurement is how well our children are educated

    Your profession is failing that objective.

    Personally, having fought tooth and nail to generate quantifiable profits, I have little pity on those who want to politically spin their professions. If our children cannot compete, we would be remiss in not holding you accountable.

    Set whatever criteria you may, but when your profession once again fails to meet it, we need to take serious action to bring you into compliance.

    We in the private sector know from enduring years of unbearable demands, with horrific job insecurities, that the market is cruel but efficient.

    Regrettably, your industry needs that pressure so you might rise to meet your daunting challenge

    August 7, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • FN Wilhelm

      Job insecurity in the private sector is balanced out by (on average) higher pay than public sector jobs.

      If you really think that the solution here is to combine low pay with *less* job security, I don't think you've really thought this through, from a human resource perspective. If you want a glimpse of what the workforce would look like under such a scenario, take a trip on down to your local Walmart.

      August 7, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • Matt

      Yeah, because when something fails in the private sector it just goes under.... Forget the bailouts already?
      PUBLIC education is not a business, there shouldn't be the sense of cutthroat 'I gothcha's' you have in the private sector, rather a sense that ALL can win and looking out for the best interest of the whole, not the part.
      You wouldn't last one day in a middle school classroom.

      August 7, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
      • Jim Beranis

        Private sector jobs have better pay than public sector? Are you serious? Most private sector jobs pay close to minimum wage today or minimally higher with many of these jobs being physically demanding fast paced and forced overtime with no pension or real health insurance benefits. Are you only looking at the high paying private sector jobs? I love the bag of chips, I imagine this shows a typical classroom scene.

        August 7, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • J

      Not quite fair in that assessment. It's not the teachers failing, it's the kids who aren't. We've dumbed down the system so much that they can get by with almost no work or effort. Institue standard grades and policies. If you fail a class or grade, you get held back, period. We are not all equal in ability, face it and deal with it.

      And if you want a job where you start at the top, it's called ditch-digging!

      August 7, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • Andrew

      When your industry receives less than adequate raw materials, you send them back and are certainly not expected to create the same profitable output with them.

      When teachers receive children in their classrooms who have no safe environment at home, lack of food, sleep, you name it, you business people think the outcome should be the same high standard for all of them.

      Schools cannot be treated like a competitive business (district to district) until the raw materials (kids and families coming into the district) are all equal with equal chances to succeed. Good luck on that one.

      August 7, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
      • Eileen Schmeisser

        Andrew,
        I have taught in Chicago for 23 years and I cannot agree with you more. We have become parents to these
        children in almost every way. Parents cannot be bothered to even look at homework or feed their kids
        breakfast. I have even bought glasses and winter coats for students who did not have them.

        Until these kids basic needs are met, it is net to impossible to get them to learn.

        August 8, 2012 at 8:43 am |
    • Susan

      Education is the only "business" in the world that has absolutely no control over its clients and product. I challenge you to stand in front of a classroom with 35 unique students with varying ability, home environment, work ethic and personal history and see if YOU can produce consistent achievement data for the WHOLE class. Really. Try it.

      August 7, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
    • Brent

      I would argue that the increasing inability of our children is due more to the inability of the parents and the educational climate that we as Americans have created for ourselves. I myself am not an educator, but I do have great respect for those who are. I also know many teachers who have been in the profession for many years. Every educator I have talked to who teaches in the public school system agrees that there has been an increasing problem with child behavior and an unwillingness to learn. Now, compare that behavior to students in Japan. I was a TESL Assistant in Japan for what was probably the most rewarding Summer of my life in 2010. The children I worked with and observed were so well-behaved and eager to learn that it shocked me. My experiences in school were nothing like that (I graduated from high school in 2007). I find it amazing that teen pregnancy can go from being a rarity in high school (when I was in high school), to all too common within just a few years. You want to blame the teachers? Blame the culture these students are being raised in. I feel as if many parents nowadays unknowingly shift the responsibility of bringing up their children as responsible citizens over to the teachers, thereby absolving themselves of their own responsibility. Teachers do not exist to raise your children and should not be considered the only source for educating them. Parents should be just as involved, if not more involved, as teachers in educating their children about all the subjects included or not included in the curriculum (lifeskills, ethics, critical thinking, etc.).

      I'm an American. I love America. But, in America, many perceive education as an "option" and not a necessity. Much different from the viewpoints of many eastern countries. In Japan, teachers are highly respected and equally rewarded. In America, I feel like it like it continues to become quite the opposite.

      I'm not saying the education system is without flaw. Quite the opposite. However, it would be remiss to ignore the root of the problem which rests in the foundation the system sits upon. Blame the culture, not the teachers.

      August 7, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • D

      I worked in the private sector for ten years. If a supplier gave us inferior materials, we could send it back or stop doing business with them. The quality of our products was high because we had control over the entire process.

      I have since gone into teaching (Chemistry) and found that my results are only as good as the incoming students. Having worked in both the private and public sectors, I think it is ridiculous to think that a school can be run by the same standards that one would run a business with. Solely holding teachers accountable without any penalty to the students or parents will not resolve the situation in the least.

      Unions? I have seen them protect both good and bad teachers. It isn't that difficult to fire a bad teacher if the administration is doing their job, but I've rarely seen the commitment on their part to follow through on the required procedures.

      August 7, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
  35. Al Rivera

    I taught for 9 years, including 5 years in the Bronx. Every day I would spend 2-3 hours grading papers, putting together materials, changing lesson plans, etc. My Sundays were spent doing lesson plans and shopping for whatever I needed for the week. Sunday nights were spent stressing over the week ahead. I called it quits during the summer of last year and now work as an Environmental Health Worker. It's a 9-5 with 15-20 vacation days a year, but I finally have my Sundays back, as well as my evenings to myself to relax and focus on other passions in my life, such as photography and cycling. I gladly traded in my summer vacation for the extra freedom I would get each day and every weekend, as well as the low-stress work environment. Teaching is a career you not only have to feel passionate about, because you will not have much of a life until summer vacation.

    August 7, 2012 at 11:39 am |
  36. Dave

    Bunch of whiners in here...
    Never thought I'd hear the day when people are saying teachers have it easy...
    I'd bet most of you would go stir crazy if you had to spend over 200 days a year, 8 hours a day with your own kid, let alone hundreds of other people's kids...
    Did any of you go to school...
    I still wouldnt trade places with any of my teachers...

    Just another thankless profession...
    For all of you who claim they have it so easy why didnt you choose the profession, genius...
    Especially since it is so easy to get an education degree and their schedule is so easy and their work days are so short...

    Of course, like any other profession that requires a boatload of red tape to accomplish anything, the system can be improved...
    But to indicate that teachers somehow have it easy is ridiculous...

    August 7, 2012 at 11:36 am |
    • Dave

      it is not over 200 days a year - it is less than 180

      teaching is the best part time job in America

      How long do you have to prepare to teach multiplication - does it change every year?

      August 7, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
  37. ITGuy

    I am in the IT field and i am here to say that a teacher's job is much harder than my job on any given day. Why? Because educating children and providing knowledge appropriate for the age group is not easy. Teachers spend a lot of time planning, on their computer, using their own resources like printers, papers and software and much much more to come up with a good lesson plan. The posters like Ashley and Jessica here are so ignorant.
    If ya'll think a teacher's job is so easy, why not try it. Apparently Ashley says the Teacher's degree is easy to obtain. So is my IT degree. Why not give it a try? Unless you have done it yourself, don't just sit there and say that you are sick and tired of teachers complaining.
    I am from a different profession where i get to sit in front of a computer and solve software puzzles and get paid more than twice a high school teacher gets paid in most of the states. I don't work half as hard as a Teacher and i don't think i have to worry half as much as a teacher about my job. A Teacher enlightens a human mind and has to work through so many trouble like misbehaving kids and angry parents almost on a daily basis and yet is expected to deliver a great result irrespective of how your child's behavior is in the class room. WOW, think people.... They do get paid less for all the hard work they are doing.
    They build the future of any country so yeah, we have to keep them happy by taking care of them well. That is the reason why some of the 3rd world countries are better in the education department than we are because they pay their teachers hell a lot of money and benefits.......

    August 7, 2012 at 11:32 am |
  38. mikepomatto

    ^^^ As a teacher myself, I understand that is part of a professional salaried position. Once he qualified his comments with "my contract," he became a teacher instead of an educator. Unions are unprofessional.

    August 7, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • Paul

      That is ridiculous. Unions are unprofessional? Look at how teachers are treated by the toothless yokels across America, or by the GOP. If not for unions, or the collective strength unions afford educators, do you think they would have any benefits or job security at all? You must hate the middle class too, because the union created that as well. Are you sad the Fox comment boards got shut down for being such a cesspool of hate and ignorance?

      August 7, 2012 at 11:43 am |
  39. samsart

    Lots of people put in large quantities of time before the actual 'work time'. Those in the medical field do. And we have to have advanced education as well. One observation- lots of committees, lots of meetings. The death of the American way- committee or meeting everything into the ground. Going over the same things , endlesslly. Been there. I don't think anyone is unaware of the prep time, etc. The frustration comes into play with the shocking, and I do mean shocking lack of positive results. Parents who don't parent. Unions that refuse to allow incompetent teachers to be removed. School systems who do the shuck and jive, thinking that parents won't know. The scandal of teachers altering their students' grades to get financial rewards speaks volumes. We are 'dumbing down' this country. Let's not hold parents and teachers/schools accountable~ rather, lets just lower the standards and pass everyone. I saw it when I was in school, when my children were in school and now with my granddchildren. We are doing great harm to the young people in this country. Yet, for the billions tossed at the issue- no positive resolution. Many professions have members that get little to no recognition for efforts and hard work invested. Very few get reccomendations of massive pay increases. Lots work without contracts ( I count that a plus) and few benefits- yet are required to haved advanced degrees. It's not unique to education. I averaged 60hr weeks for decades. Again, not unique. It's how you make a living. Education is crucial- look at the devolvement of a society flooded with those ill prepared to face life and to be productive. There are lots of competing 'carrots' for young people, touted in the media as being folk to emulate. Oddly enough the world is too full of these 'idols' as it is, and can ill afford more. I wholeheartedly know there are dedicated and extremely competent teachers. And I wholeheartedly know that parents , in great numbers, no longer parent effectively. Yet, it appears, we remain stuck in a morass. And that is sounding the death knell for having an informed and educated populace.

    August 7, 2012 at 11:28 am |
  40. Erin

    I'm not a teacher even though I like teaching, because its way too much work. I am an attorney in the private sector. I work long hours, sure. But when I get to my office in the morning I have a cup of coffee and catch up on emails – I am not bombarded by hoards of kids and I am not needing to be "on." I have helped out my sister with her classes here and there, and came away much more exhausted than if I had spent the afternoon doing legal research. Per hour, I'm paid triple what she is though, and thats something I wouldn't give up. If this country is serious about wanting good teachers, you have to pay em, hire enough of em, and properly support em.

    August 7, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • S. Hardeman

      Great post Erin. If there were enough teachers and they were paid to compensate for what they must do and the importance of their job the educational system would be much better. You can't expect someone to have to handle 30+ children for 5 – 6 hours a day to effectively teach ALL of them!

      Also, someone mentioned arts and gym in school which I feel is sorely lacking. By stimulating those areas of the brain (and body) a child learns more effectively. Spending more time "cramming" math and reading will not improve education it will only make children more tired of education!

      August 7, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • ITGuy

      Totally Agree with what you just said.
      I am in the IT field earning double the salary of a high school teacher and yet get to chill for most of the day.The countries that are producing good pupil, check them out, their teachers are well taken care of with good pay and benefits. We need to change the way we treat our teachers. The deserve a good pay and respect from all these people that are complaining about them doing less work.

      August 7, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • SC

      Agree Erin, I will qualify or expand on your comment – we need to hire talented teachers. The concept of higher wages would perhaps sway people like yourself from using your intelligence in the legal industry and into educating the future of our country. The key, however, is merit based pay and not giving into the unions and saying, 'ok, everybody gets a 18.2% raise'.

      August 7, 2012 at 11:59 am |
      • Gwyn

        Yes, but the real difficyulty is getting those of us in college interested in the teaching profession. Long hard hours, scanty pay, total lack of respect- no thank you. I have loans to pay off and a family to support. I'll stick to program I'm in, which will probably start me at a minimum of 60k annually, which is around double what teachers make. And I won't even have to deal with rabid parents and rowdy kids. Teachers need better pay and to be allowed to control what happens in the classroom.

        August 7, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
  41. D

    As the son of a now retired elem. school teacher and the husband of a 7th grade science teacher all I can say is Amen to this. If parents and politicians were barred from having input in the educational system I think the world would be a better place.

    August 7, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • Paul

      Amen, get the church, parents and politics out of teaching. Pedagogy can't be about an agenda, as much as the yokels want to believe it already is.

      August 7, 2012 at 11:46 am |
  42. rjinx

    As someone who has been critical of teachers, let me just say that there are many dedicated teachers who really go above and beyond what is required. We all know a few, but we also know there are teachers that due the bare minimum to complete their jobs. ( yes, my sister is one of those). That is why i am for teachers having a performance based reveiw in order to keep their jobs. The rest of the country operates by this method. It seems that unlike most professions, it is almost impossible to terminate a poor performing teacher without incuring the wrath of a large and powerfull Teachers Union.
    If you are good at your job, Bless you, but if you are not, shouldn't you be held accountable?
    I also think that an 18% pay increase for an extra hour of work is a little uncalled for, especially when most city budgets are already bankrupt.

    August 7, 2012 at 11:23 am |
  43. The Murgen

    LIke most issues, both sides have very valid points. Education is an incredibly complex system, and solutions to improve it need to pull upon everyone involved- teachers, students, administrators, parents, and the community as a whole. Merely increasing the length of the school day will contribute nothing without a solid, well developed plan to utilize that time.

    August 7, 2012 at 11:17 am |
  44. Emmy Jay

    Amen to all of the above. As a former teacher who loved teaching and loved my students but simply couldn't pay the bills anymore, I have consistently seen how often good teachers burn out or give up – because the burden is intense, the hours are long, and the financial rewards aren't that rewarding. Teachers stay because they they love it enough to give up on a LOT – which many good teachers simply can't afford to do. If teachers were paid properly (if ALL public servants were paid properly!), more good teachers would be in classrooms for longer careers, and that would benefit not only the children in their classrooms but all of us.

    August 7, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • Ashley

      I find it amusing how people claim that teachers "burn out" and leave the field for higher-paying private sector jobs. Actually, most teachers are female (something like 75-80 percent according to the most recent data) and like many women, they leave to start a family in their 20's and 30's and and many don't return. Surprise, surprise, most teachers are somewhat traditional and do have maternal instincts and want to stay home to raise a family. They are not BURNING OUT, they are OPTING OUT. There are only a very small handful of teachers that have skills that would transfer to a higher-paying job in the private sector – perhaps chemistry, physics or advanced math teachers. THERE IS NO JOB IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR THAT WOULD PAY A THIRD GRADE TEACHER WITH NO HARD SKILLS HIGHER THAN WHAT THEY ARE PAID TO TEACH. Period. A bachelor's degree in education (even a master's degree) is not a hard skill. Teachers who make $50-$60k a year (or more) would not find that salary elsewhere ... most of them understand this and are truly fearful for their jobs.

      August 7, 2012 at 11:25 am |
      • dave

        I made no claim of burn out on the part of teachers. I also did not complain about salaries. What I mentioned was the fact that over 50% of young teachers leave the profession in less than five years. According to the Met Life survey one of the key factors is the lack of support, which is quite evident from your post. Also, the skills they have acquired are to be teachers and you are probably right that those skills will not garner them high wages in the private sector, but again they weren't trained for that.
        Also, I have worked in both the private and public sector and have noted that people ask for increases in pay in both areas.

        August 7, 2012 at 11:33 am |
  45. Bob

    June, July, August. Christmas break. Spring break. Day after Thanksgiving. Veterans' Day. Martin Luther King Day. President's Day. Labor Day. Memorial Day.

    Come out into the private sector and see what it's like to show up every day. Work through holidays and weekends. And be 100% accountable for your results.

    Teachers are paid quite well for the training and work required of them.

    August 7, 2012 at 11:13 am |
    • Texas Gentelman

      Bob,
      I am sorry to disagree with you. I work in the private sector, and I am accountable for my results. But I do not work nearly as many hours as my mother of 20 years does. I will admit that there are many teacher that simply collect a paycheck and we need to remove them from the profession, but for the ones that do belong, we need to better compensate them and actually ask them what they need instead of telling them what to do. We need to reduce our senators and representatives pay and benefits, and transfer it to our teachers, that would be a good start.

      August 7, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • Dave

      Teachers are not paid for June, July, etc. Those times are quite often used for further education, unpaid meeting and recertifying as an educator. Would sure be nice if you were paid for tat time.

      August 7, 2012 at 11:58 am |
      • AK

        Dave, this argument is tired. Teachers are certainly paid for their ample time off. Teachers in most districts can choose to spread out their paychecks over the summer or not, their choice. Whether or not they are "paid" for that time is irrelevant. It is paid time off, any way around it.

        August 9, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • FN Wilhelm

      ...So, in other words, you've never taught, and haven't the slightest clue what you're talking about.

      August 7, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
    • lovenotesandlipstick

      Bob,
      I worked in the private sector before becoming a teacher and after completing my first master's degree. I showed up every day, worked 9-5, did significant business travel, and led a miserable existence. I then went back for a second master's and became an elementary school teacher. Now I have all those breaks and holidays off, and they, along with my nights and weekends, are largely spent in preparing lessons, special projects, community service activities, working on professional development opportunities (that I seek out myself), and spending hundreds of dollars of my own money on supplies to enrich the education of my students. So, no, teachers are not paid quite well when taking into account the sheer hours that we put in not only during the work day, but on our own time, not to mention the limitless measures of patience and compassion required to teach 25+ 6-year-olds each day. Teaching is similar to putting on a show and performing crowd control simultaneously from first bell to dismissal. As for accountability, I will not go into details of district and state accountability measures, but please remember that teachers are subject to the critical eyes of 25+ sets of parents, for starters. But would I trade my job for anything else? Absolutely not, because it allows me to be creative and I find it very fulfilling, especially compared to my private sector experience. You, along with countless others, are sorely misinformed of the true nature of a teacher's day.

      August 7, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
  46. S. H. McGuire

    Success is measured, but not if the goals are poorly stated. To continue to do the same thing over and over while expecting a different result is foolish. It is not the teacher's fault that the goals and leadership are faulty, but the teacher must be a part of the equation. We wish to find successful examples and be able to copy those to improve our end result. Allow the schools to sort students by ability, not just age. Remove the disruptive student from the classroom and focus on those wishing to learn. Replace the underperforming teacher and administrator. Reward the creative teacher. More can be done, but it requires teamwork and total community support.

    August 7, 2012 at 11:10 am |
  47. Jessica

    Hmmmm............
    I arrive at work a 915am; depart about 545pm (on a good day). Take about 15 minutes to eat lunch at my desk while
    filling in for receptionist (she goes out for minimum 60 minutes). After 10 years at this company, I get 15 days vacation.
    If 5 days or less, I do get paid for sick time but only 5 days a year. Only major holidays are paid, ie....New Years Day, Good Friday, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. There is no UNION protecting me; I can get fired anytime (for just cause).
    I get paid just under $28,000 year. Oh, and no health insurance or pension.
    Wnat to change professions, Mr. Barrett ?

    August 7, 2012 at 11:00 am |
    • Teacher's Husband

      ^ Yep, apples to apples reply there. Good one. Fail.

      August 7, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • Teacher's Husband

      ^ You said your job was a receptionist?
      You are comparing a degreed position to a receptionist?
      Hmmm, sounds like you were too lazy or just plain dumb to get a college degree and when you see someone who does, you compare your job to theirs?
      Yeah-right.

      August 7, 2012 at 11:07 am |
      • Ashley

        Teacher's Husband, any idiot can get a teaching degree and teaching certificate. I live in Texas and we have diploma mills here that churn out online degrees to anyone with a pulse. A bachelor's degree in education is one of the easiest college programs – no hard sciences, no physics, no advanced math. The pass rate for teaching certification is something obscene like 98%. The problem is there are 300+ applications for every open teaching job in the public sector once you get the certificate. Demand far outweighs supply.

        August 7, 2012 at 11:18 am |
      • butterpea

        As a Teacher's Husband I would expect you to read...She said she fills in for the receptionist during her lunch period not that she is a receptionist. Don't assume what is not written.

        August 7, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • L.C.

      Your job situation sounds very unfortunate, and so I'm sure you're frustrated. Many people complain that for the time that teachers spend "on the clock," they get paid too much. The point of this article is to show that eachers spend tons of time working outside of the school hours that they are paid for. He's not asking for a medal for his hard work. He's just letting others know that they might not realize how much teachers are doing outside of their actual work day. Teachers are important. Paying them less means sacrificing quality teachers.

      August 7, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • Wow

      And you went to college to do this? Epic fail!!

      August 7, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • Michael M.

      Have you thought of... I don't know... finding a job that treats you better? Or perhaps forming a group with your fellow employees to demand better pay and benefits?

      August 7, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • dkamp

      And how much education did you need to get your job answering phones. Teachers are professionals with minimum of 4 years of college with many many of them having masters and doctorates. And this doesn\'t count the endless inservice trainings that all teachers have to have to keep current, most of which is done on their own time. Also how much time do you spend each night getting ready for work? Vegging in front of the tube watching American Idol I would imagine. Hardly a valid comparison don\'t you think Jessica?

      August 7, 2012 at 11:29 am |
      • thatguy

        Yeah many have Masters/Doctorates...but not MOST. Usually the teachers with masters go on to be professors at community colleges with a higher salary. rest is all k-8 my man.

        August 7, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
    • ldeacon

      I'm a teacher at a high poverty school and my schedule and salary sounds very similar to yours. Two clarifying questions: do you have two masters degrees like I have? Two: do you spend your own money to supply your clients' needs?

      On a very regular basis, I take take out of my pocket to supply my needy students with school supplies, and sometimes even clothing and food. I don't doubt that you work very hard at your job, but I don't come in and criticize your motivations. It is the summer, and I've still gone in every single week to help clean and paint classrooms, organize supplies, etc. it's much more involved than you think.

      August 7, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • dave

      You could certainly become a teacher.

      August 7, 2012 at 11:35 am |
    • t3chsupport

      Unless you're teaching kids, no one really cares. Believe it or not, this article does not appear to be about you.

      August 7, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • CA

      So why didn't you bevome a teacher if you know that we have it so good? Did someone hold a gun to your head as an undergrad and prevent you from enrolling in an education program. In order to work my 60 to 70 hour work weeks I was required to spend 5 years as an undergraduate student (teacher-ed adds another year to a four year program) then spend several years in graduate school, my summers are filled with training and conducting summer camps, most breaks are spent planning and grading, all this time donated for "free." No I won't trade jobs with you, I have worked too hard to earn my $50,000 a year that actually amounts to about $10.00 per hour when all is said and done, this after 9 years of college, and all the associated student loans.

      August 7, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • Stephen

      I have family members and friends who are/were teachers. My current girlfriend is a teacher. I am a professional. I spent four years undergrad and three years post grad. My girlfriend spent 6 years obtaining three degrees including her B.Ed. In Ontario teachers are now required to pass two working evaluations in their first two years of full time teaching. They are evaluated by principals or V.P.s and it is critical that they pass in order for them to receive a Certified Teaching designation, that allows them to continue teaching in the province. If do not pass twice you lose your job. It is a good way of weeding out bad teachers. Teaching standards have risen and although I am certain there are bad teachers out there, I think they are the exception and not the rule.

      The second thing I want to comment on is the amount of time teachers put into their work. My girlfriend goes to work at 7:15 for a 7:45 start and she often does not arrive home until 5 or 6. I know that she is provided with a half hour lunch and one period (90 minutes, break/prep. time a day). She is also required to "volunteer" for extra-curricular activities, such as athletics, music, drama, etc. which often happens between 2:30, the end of the school day and 5 pm. She then comes home has dinner with me and we often sit down and two or three more hours of work. Her work often consists of grading papers, reading books, or preparing for the next day/week. All and all I would say during the school year we work roughly the same amount of time.

      Teachers work hard for their money. It is not a slack job. The United States may have major problems in education, but the amount teachers make compared to the work they do is not one of them.

      The biggest problem the U.S. has in education: the distribution of educational weath and resources. Taxes are not spread evenly among counties in States. If you live in a rich county you have access to a wealtheir education system. If you live in a poor county you have a poor education system. That is a shame.

      August 7, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
  48. djchapulin

    Thank you Xian. I have known Xian for seven years and can personally attest to the amazing bond he creates with his students. This is a great response and more voices like Xian's should be amplified in the media.

    August 7, 2012 at 10:56 am |
  49. Ashley

    I clicked the link in the article to the Chicago Teachers Unions' suggestions for how to improve a longer school day. It is typically union BS. "Chicago Kids Deserve Teachers Who Are Treated As Professionals!" (aka higher pay and less work time). "Chicago Kids Deserve Social Justice!" "Chicago Kids Deserve a More Well-Rounded Education" (Arts classes and PE... when low-income kids are struggling in math, science and basic reading skills???) "Chicago Kids Deserve Fully Funded Education!" (more $$$$) REALLY? We have sunk billions into the sinkhole of public education for decades. MONEY ISN'T THE SOLUTION! Quality teaching will close the achievement gap. It's been proven (!!) that a single highly-effective teacher can change the trajectory of a child's life.

    August 7, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • Ashley

      Chicago kids deserve higher-quality teachers and more time in school improving basic skills like reading and math. Period.

      August 7, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • Teacher's Husband

      ^Seems like Ashley needs to get a college degree and find "herself" a job instead of posting nonsense.

      August 7, 2012 at 11:04 am |
      • Ashley

        Teacher's Husband, your handle speaks volumes. Biased much?

        Signed, Grateful to Be Employed With No Union Contract, Miniscule Benefits and 24/7 Accountability to Those Who Pay My Small Salary

        August 7, 2012 at 11:13 am |
    • S. Hardeman

      Ashley wrote: "It's been proven (!!) that a single highly-effective teacher can change the trajectory of a child's life."

      How do you get highly-effective teachers? Do you under pay them (according to the importance of the work) and criticize them, or do you train them and pay them appropriately?

      You constantly state that money is not the answer, but ask yourself how many good doctors or engineers there would be if they made 30k a year, and were criticized by people who don't even know what they go through?

      Stop venting and start coming up with answers. It's nothing more annoying that a person who wants to shot down every solution, but has no solution of their own! You should run for congress; you'd fit right in!

      August 7, 2012 at 11:29 am |
      • Ashley

        S. Hardeman, an effective teacher should be paid well – six figures for an outstanding teacher. An effective teacher should be able to take a group of 25-40 kids of varying levels and disabilities and demonstrate that each child improved significantly at the end of the school year. An effective teacher should be given the supplies and resources to successfully teach. An effective teacher should be paid based on the results they produce for kids. An effective teacher should not have or even need a union contract. Standard employment laws and protections should be sufficient. A teacher who is not effective should be given the opportunity to improve and if they can't immediately do so, be shown the door.

        August 7, 2012 at 11:38 am |
      • Dave

        The averaGE starting SALARY OF A TEACHER IS $39,000!!!. Way mopre than a doctor makes in Medical school!

        Teachers need to stop whining, it's a pretty good job, I've been married to a teacher for 20 years,m she doesn't have to work as hard as she used to, thats for sure, and she's making nearly 6 figures. Cush job if you ask me

        August 7, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • Retired Military

      Ashley, great a$$clown answer. You, like so many others are looking for someone else to blame for the problem that should start and end in the HOME. Parents treat schools like a daycare where they expect someone to take care of their childs' every whim. If parents would start taking some responsibility for their kids and enforcing them ot complete their homework, do quality work, help them understand the material, and follow up with the teacher, the kids wouldn't be falling off. I'm tired of watching our pathetic society look to blame others for what amounts to a lack of parenting. If you are too lazy to help your kids succeed, don't have kids. Those kids that do succeed are the ones that have parents that care enough to be tired at the end of the day, come home, and help their kids w/schoolwork. I don't want to do Social Studies, Science, and Algebra. I've already done it. But it's my job as a parent to make sure my child gets all the resources they need to succeed. Quit your whining and blaming and be an adult.

      August 7, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
  50. Rick

    The issue is not with the length of time teachers are actually working in a day. The issue is with the results. Take all the politics and emotion out of the equation and you get some pretty alarming information. The US spends more money per child on education than pretty much anywhere else in the world with poor return on investment, yet all we hear is that schools need more money. Many teachers are hard working; many are not. Some of this is the parent's fault; some of it is our culture. The bottom line is that our education system is broken and needs to be redesigned. Let’s all stop throwing feces at each other in an attempt to pass off blame and work together to redesign a system that incentivizes good teachers and punishes bad one while at the same time giving children every opportunity to learn, but not holding back everyone for the sake of those who refuse to follow the program. Before everyone starts flaming me and asking how I would create this utopian education system...I don't know. That’s why we have education experts.

    August 7, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • dave

      Ashley wrote, "An effective teacher should be able to take a group of 25-40 kids of varying levels and disabilities and demonstrate that each child improved significantly at the end of the school year."
      Can you please provide specific, numerical examples of what Improved significantly means? Lexile reading scores that are age appropriate? Math computation scores? Standardized test scores? These types of assessments change so often for teachers that they feel they are aiming at a moving target. Please provide teachers with clear, concise, measurable goals and then set the accountability requirements. "Improved significantly" is similar to "really good".

      August 7, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
      • Ashley

        Dave, ever heard of an IEP? Accountability and standardized testing is a must if we are to improve education in this country.

        August 7, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
      • dave

        Yes Ashley,
        I have been in several IEP meetings...how about you? (They are usually reserved for special education).They are normally generic without specific expectations.....statistically measurable expectations. Also, I agree with standardized tests....but please standardize them. Quit changing them every year. Also, you didn't provide any specific information about "improved significantly." Do you really mean age anticipated growth in learning and understanding?

        August 7, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
  51. Ashley

    "However, to count a teacher’s working minutes by looking at the time we are directly teaching students is like only counting the minutes that a dentist has the drill in your mouth." – This is a poor comparison. A dentist is accountable to the people who pay his salary – customers. A dentist does not have a union contract stipulating what he does and doesn't have to do each day at the expense of taxpayers and children. A dentist will go out of business or lose his license if he does shoddy work. Less than 1 percent of Chicago teachers were dismissed for performance-related reasons in recent years. A dentist requires over 10 years of higher education. A teaching degree can be earned in 4 years and is unarguably easier to obtain. Barriers to entry for dentistry are higher; the only barriers to a teaching job are lack of jobs (too much demand) or cronyism that is rampant in public education. Certainly, both teaching and dentistry have unique sets of challenges (EVERY JOB is uniquely challenging, teachers aren't the only ones who have it hard) and I'm sick and tired of teachers thinking they are martyrs and deserve exorbitant pay and unsustainable benefits at taxpayer expense because of it.

    August 7, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • Teacher's Husband

      "I'm sick and tired of teachers thinking they are martyrs".
      ^This is precisely what the author meant when he said perception not matching reality. You made the decision not to just comment but add the "sick and tired" sentence to your comment. You have no idea what it takes to teach students, especially when they have to stop and have the "no child left behind" challenged kid get down off the window leadge, all while the rest of the kids wait to be taught. I finally had to ask my wife to please quit after 30 years because the constant political BS stress and constant fighting with parents because their kid got detention for swearing in class, eating in class, cell phone use, physically abusing another kid, etc.
      Let me repeat myself: You have no idea.

      August 7, 2012 at 11:02 am |
      • Lauren

        Teachers' everyday tasks and responsibilities are different than anyone else's – we all go to work every day and deal with office (school) politics, regulations, red tape, annoying customers/clients, etc. It happens everywhere and teachers don't need a gold medal because they happen to spend all day around children. My sisters are teachers and they work their butts off. I am not a teacher and I work my butt off too. The difference? I don't get 2 weeks off for Christmas and spring break, nor do I get a 3 month or so vacation in the summer. I think that more than compensates them, given that there are plenty of people who work 50+ hours a week with little to no vacation time.

        August 7, 2012 at 11:12 am |
      • Ashley

        Teacher's Husband – I worked for 3 years in the public school system as an aide and substitute for teachers in every grade level. I considered becoming a teacher, but frankly the jobs are too scarce to spend $5,000 on certification when I already have a decent job in the public sector. If I were to become a teacher in this district, I would get almost a $10,000 yearly pay increase from my current job, over 3 months of vacation that I currently don't receive (including Christmas, spring break and summers) and excellent health benefits that I don't have in the public sector. Last year, the school district in which I worked had 400 people apply for a single open 4th grade teaching position. I do know.

        August 7, 2012 at 11:32 am |
      • mark

        Great point made again and again that no one seems to get. People who aren't teachers seem to always know more and better than than educators. I am not one but work in the education field in a support position. The extra unpaid time and effort that is routinely put in on many levels by most teachers is seen in very few fields. Not being a teacher doesn't mean you can't have an opinion, but recognize limits of your opinion and the breadth of your unfamiliarity with the underpinnings Ashley.

        August 7, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • dave

      Interesting perspective. Most sources I found state that it takes eight years to become a dentist. Most teachers do continue their education to earn their masters degree which would normally require an additional two years beyond their bachelor's degree. Your anger and dislike for teachers is evident. It is part of the reason that over 50% of new teachers leave the profession in five years or less. Accountability for education isn't what it needs to be, but there are signs of change. My greater concern is for the young teachers who can look forward to a career of being criticized with such force and anger. I wonder how many talented young people will choose this type of life.

      August 7, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • S. Hardeman

      Ashley wrote: "… and I'm sick and tired of teachers thinking they are martyrs and deserve exorbitant pay and unsustainable benefits at taxpayer expense because of it."

      I'm not a teacher, but both of my parents were and I have seen the time put in after work, and felt how unappreciated they were! Can someone tell me a job more important than teaching our children? Doctors make a great deal of money to take care of us physically, but teachers are there to shape young minds and thus shape the future! None of us would be anywhere without teachers!

      One thing that is unsustainable is treating the people who spend almost as much time with our children as the parents as pests and money grubbers!

      August 7, 2012 at 11:22 am |
      • Dave

        I can think of a job more important than teaching...those who make sure the teachers are properly doing their jobs! Too many kids slip through the cracks because teachers don't care, they got their tenure and are now coasting along!

        August 7, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
      • thatguy

        Heres one, how about the IT admins that keep the systems runnign so all the orders go through otherwise 2 hours of downtime loses 100k+ in profits/potential business clients and makes the parents of the school kids UNEMPLOYED. You think we get 3 Month vacations watching switches all day and haveing to work 12+ hour days and workign through lunches to get things running again? And dont pull the "you get paid goood money to make that" card either, majority are now contractors with no health insuranc/room to negotiate contractual wages.

        August 7, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • Bob

      Ashley, spend 1 hour every day in front of 30 kids who's parent's are spouting "Teachers and Unions are the problems with schools so you don't have to respect them." Do this with a set of rules, often agreed to by the Union but not necessarily requested by the Union e.g. If 2 students get into a fight you have to break it up, but you may not touch either one. Try to provide progress for each of those 30 kids when they know they are going into the drywall business or dry cleaner business the parent's own so that they have NO incentive whatsoever to learn or study or even just not be a disruption. Oh, by the way you have to break those 30 kids into groups of 4 or less and provide an individual lesson plan which means providing a named lesson plan for 7 groups of 4 and 1 group of 2.

      When you do that, and provide sufficient advancement that the children actually learn something to a standardized test result, then you can come back and start talking about how everyone is being failed by crappy teachers who have to do this for 4-5 classes per day. Let me just give you an idea, it's like managing your child's birthday party every day all day.

      By the way, teachers get fired all the time. The Union just gets to represent the teacher in making sure that it is "for cause." Getting rid of Unions doesn't help because we all know if we bothered to look that Charter schools on average don't do any better and they don't have Unions.

      I will make one ad hominem attack. Your statement that the comparison between a teacher and a dentist is not apt shows a lack of thinking. A) The teacher has to do it. If the teacher doesn't document that preparation then the teacher WILL be fired even if he's the best teacher in the district. Second, do you really want teacher's who don't prepare and by the way that preparation is evaluated and judged and grounds for termination. Do you really want those teacher's in school.

      August 7, 2012 at 11:39 am |
    • Joe

      Ashley,

      I think you need to tone it down a little bit about teachers. My wife is a teacher and I am proud to be her husband. You want to blame them for everything. I invite you to go into a classroom and try to do what she does. She goes in everyday trying to do her best and make a difference. Yet she is dealing with children who are disrespectful. They steal from her, talk over her, carry on and refuse to settle down at times. And to say she can discipline them is a joke. Send a kid to the office on a referral and they end up back in the classroom the next day doing the same thing because everyone is afraid of a lawsuit. Many parents believe it is her responsibility to personally email each one of them their child's homework assignment every night and to make sure their kids do the homework. And if the kid is failing a class, it is always the teacher's fault. The famous excuse she always here is "Why didn't you tell me Johnny didn't turn in his homework or had a test." I ask you when did my wife have to become that child's parent and usher him through his school career? My wife is there to teach. Not be a parent and teach basic manners and respect. That needs to come from the parents. When do the parents have to step up and take responsibility? My wife goes far and above her requirments about informing parents. She puts the homework assignments on the web so the parents can check it every night and stay informed. Yet she inevitably gets the answer, "I didn't know they had to do it." Hey wakeup and look at it. It is why you received the information in the beginning of the year! You believe it is the teacher's fault for everything. My wife and I are the parents of three children. We take the time to look into their bookbags and find out what is going on in the classroom. My wife spends countless hours on the weekend planning and getting lesson plans together. She feels like she neglects her own children because of the countless hours she worries spending about everyone elses. I spent a half day in her classroom with her on one occassion. And those hours were eye opening. I commend her for not wanting to leave one day and never go back. But she goes back every day because she cares about her students. So before you lump everyone into one basket, most teachers do care, and they go in everyday wanting to do their best for the kids. But it is people like you, who think they have it so easy that discourages them and makes the good ones want to leave and give up. And if you think it is such an easy job for lazy people, I invite you to go back to school, get your certificate and give it a try. Or better yet, try substituting or if you know a teacher, ask her if you can go in and give it a try. I guarantee you that after one week or one day, you will go out of there and never want to go back.

      August 7, 2012 at 11:47 am |
  52. D-Rob

    I'm just about ready to head back to my 2nd grade classroom. I've already been in a couple times over summer to start getting it ready. My contract time is 7:50 – 3:30. My actual time that I'm at school is 6:50 – 5:00 daily. That's what it takes to make sure everything is ready to go and give the students my best. I'm working 2.5 hours of unpaid work each day. The only breaks I get are a 30 minute lunch and a 1 hour plan time 4 days each week to grade papers, create lesson plans, etc. I'm not complaining at all. I love my job. I just wish the general public would realize just how hard a job it is.

    August 7, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • Lauren

      Most people don't think teaching is an easy job – but it isn't any harder than plenty of other jobs out there. I get to work around 9, leave around 6. I don't take a lunch most days. Occasionally, I work on Saturday or Sunday mornings and usually an hour or two once or twice a week in the evenings. My iPhone is constantly blowing up with work emails all day, everyday. I can take days off, but the hours I miss must be made up – so essentially, I don't get any vacation time. I work all summer and on certain holidays.

      My sisters are teachers. They are great at it and love what they do. They also haven't "worked" since June but have gone into their classroom the last few weeks to prepare for the upcoming year. They came to visit me for 3 weeks this summer. They didn't work during those 3 weeks. I would say that the amount of time off provided to teachers every year is adequate compensation.

      August 7, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • Social Worker

      You went in a few times during the summer...That's, what, 3 months of not working?

      August 7, 2012 at 11:26 am |
      • dave

        Teachers don't create calendars. School boards, administrators and parents do. Many districts around the country are adopting year round calendars and many more are increasing the number of days.

        August 7, 2012 at 11:37 am |
      • Andrew

        ...and three months of unpaid time.

        Why do all of you people assume this is a paid vacation? Vacations are generally paid. Teachers are furloughed every summer.

        August 7, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
  53. Ayla

    I am glad that someone finally wrote this. I am not yet a teacher but I will be soon. My English teacher from my junior year showed me what a real teacher is and made me want to do the same. She honestly cared about her students and worked long hours to ensure that we got the education that we needed. She often put aside her own work after school to discuss books with me. The author of this article is right, teachers work much more than most people seem to think.

    August 7, 2012 at 9:31 am |
  54. Steve

    As a teacher myself, I couldn't agree more with Mr. Barrett about the hidden time most teachers spend preparing so that they can be at their best in the classroom. I think many people would be surprised if they were to ask a teacher about what their day to day work load and experience actually encompasses.

    August 7, 2012 at 9:13 am |
    • TK

      While it is fair to say that those who have never taught aren't in a position to comment about the work, I think it is also fair to say those who have never worked in the private/business sector may not understand the economic challenges of running an operation. Finding that middle ground is key, and I don't know that I can offer the solution. I think a lot of it is good faith. I can say for me personally, if more teachers bad teachers were laid off, my faith that my tax dollars were being spent wisely in the educational realm would be much higher than it is now. That may sound harsh, but growing up, I had just as many awful and unprepared teachers as excellent teachers. Yet not one teacher in my relatively small town was laid off for performance reasons. As a private sector employee, I see layoffs all the time. Many are good hearted, kind people who just didn't find their niche. I know first hand that all the teachers I grew up with were not exceptional at what they do, yet none were laid off. I believe that is why so many people are quick to jump on teachers unions. True or not, the impression is that baring a truly horrific act, you can't be fired after you last three years. And it is that idea that I believe causes more issues than any in this whole debate.

      August 7, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
      • JDA

        I have seen teachers fired for performance or forced to quit....that's something that people outside the schools don't see. If a teacher is not doing a good job, their evaluations will show it and they will be pressured to leave in some way and very often do. I have seen a lot of teachers laid off that were excellent teachers due to budget cuts....then classroom sizes increase to 30 to 35 students but the teachers are still expected to do the same quality of job as they were expected to do with a class of 20. Why does that happen? Because the powers that be in this country don't view education as a top priority or it wouldn't be one of the first things on the chopping block every time the state and/or federal budgets come up short. School district budgets are shrinking every year. Here in IL, the state isn't even paying what they're supposed to pay that's IN the budget and stiffing schools to the tune of hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars....but everyone expects the schools to keep doing the same thing and even more with less every year. Recently the teacher of the year for a district in CA was laid off....and she wasn't on the bottom of the totem pole as far as seniority goes, she had 9 years in with the district so the argument some people make that it's the union's fault because they force them to lay off according to seniority thus losing good teachers and keeping "bad" tenured ones is B.S. Tenured teachers still get evaluated like everyone else just maybe every other year instead of every year. My first three years in teaching I was evaluated once every quarter, that's four times during the school year and that doesn't count "informal" evaluations where an administrator could just come into my classroom unannounced. There are always as in every field and industry going to be people who are maybe not as good as other workers or even bad and just like in EVERY other field or industry sometimes these people don't get fired. That's just the way it is. You can't tell me that every worker somewhere is top notch and they fire all the ones that aren't top notch. People have far too unrealistic expectations of schools without taking into account all the other factors that figure into whether a student or a school as a whole does well. There are so many things that teachers and schools have absolutely no control over but are being dragged through the mud for.

        August 8, 2012 at 2:24 am |