Can You Make the 4-Hour Workweek a Reality?

By Rebeldad Brian Reid

My secret vice is reading about productivity, so much so that whatever gains in efficiency I've seen are probably swamped by the sheer amount of time spent thinking about efficiency. So, I just couldn't resist the hype around the current hot productivity tome, The 4-Hour Workweek, which posits that anyone can work extremely short weeks while scooting around the globe.

From what I can tell, the book is aimed at a rather narrow subset of people who have jobs that can be done from anywhere, who don't need to be immediately available to anyone at work, and who have limited personal obligations (like, say, family).

Still, there appears to be plenty of food for thought, including this step-by-step plan for working from the road. The plan, essentially, involves coming up with an excuse to be out of the office for a couple weeks but volunteering to keep working (at the risk of a pay cut) from home. You then work your tail off out of the office, present the results and start slowly but surely arguing that you can work more permanently from home, a couple days at first, full-time later on.

It's not the most above-board technique -- it also involves purposely slacking off when you are in the office -- but it is an intriguing way to make headway in an office culture that is not entirely on-board with flexibility. Of course, author Timothy Ferriss makes a couple of assumptions about the workplace that may not be entirely representative of employers in general, namely that an employee can persuade a supervisor to judge them by their output rather than their hours. As I've said before, if businesses actually bought into that concept, it would be a very different world.

In addition, Ferriss' plan assumes that employees really do work as hard as possible when they're out of the office. But not everyone does their best work untethered, and almost every HR person seems to have a tale of a remote employee who simply disappeared. When I've written about these issues before, there has been a lot of pushback, and commenters have raised a question that I just can't answer: How can you tell the slackers from those that will thrive in a more flexible environment?

Still, I am in favor of people being allowed to work in the way that they work best. That doesn't mean remote will work for everyone, but it ought to be more of an option for more people. In an ideal world, it would be great if diligent would-be offsite workers didn't have to go through an extensive, mildly manipulative plan to get the chance.

Brian Reid writes about parenting and work-family balance. You can read his blog at rebeldad.com.

By Brian Reid |  May 17, 2007; 6:30 AM ET  | Category:  Flexibility
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first?

Posted by: DINKgrrl | May 17, 2007 12:34 AM

second!

Posted by: John L | May 17, 2007 6:58 AM

at the risk of being trite, doesn't (or shouldn't) everyone learn to manipulate the office? These ideas are good for those who haven't thought about it.

Posted by: dotted | May 17, 2007 6:59 AM

4 hour work days, 4 day work weeks, no pay cuts. It's the only way to really do what living is for anyway: spending time with friends, family, neighbors and community.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 7:37 AM

Happy Birthday to Frieda!

(who is still 39 but I seem to age every year?)

Posted by: Fred | May 17, 2007 7:47 AM

Can anybody really get enough done in four hours to justify a 40 hour paycheck?

Posted by: KLB SS MD | May 17, 2007 7:49 AM

At my workplace they offer the every-other-Friday off plan where you work an extra hour every day in a two-week period then get that last Friday off. It's a great benefit and a great way to encourage work/family balance; that is, unless you have kids and are trying to maintain some daily balance. To me, it isn't worth it to have to pay a few hundred bucks a month for more childcare to work that extra hour a day to gain that one day off every two weeks.

But for the most part, I think it's a pretty generous accommodation that this company offers and it definitely seems to make working here more attractive for the many employees who participate in the plan.

The most valuable benefit this company offers, time-wise, is the flexible work day--you can set your own hours as long as you're here during certain core hours. That policy allows me to be home with my kids two afternoons a week yet still work full-time, and is one of the main reasons I took this job.

Posted by: Maggie | May 17, 2007 7:52 AM

Brian, you said "I am in favor of people being allowed to work in the way that they work best." While I agree in principal, I don't think it would work very well for most positions in most companies. For example, non-exempt (overtime-eligible) employees generally "punch a clock" and flexibility is pretty limited. It would be a lot easier for exempt employees to manage and flex their schedules, and believe me, many of us do! But I don't think it's practical.

As for the four-hour week, I think it's bollocks. Companies don't exist to employee people on their individual terms, they exist to turn a profit. If everyone started doing what Mr. Ferriss is advocating, there would be serious productivity problems. And there are plenty of people who, given the opportunity to work from home, would SLACK OUT LOUD.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 17, 2007 8:03 AM

Maggie -- any openings over there?

Seriously though, as much as this theory is or could be a positive thing, there is still the problem that this would not be available to everyone - your support staff suffers and seems to never be considered.

How about coming up with a way to include the WHOLE workforce not just the higher paid uppity ups?

Posted by: cj | May 17, 2007 8:03 AM

"In addition, Ferriss' plan assumes that employees really do work as hard as possible when they're out of the office"

Ha, ha! Like people really work hard when they are in the office!

The employees who know how to manipulate the workplace (and most other things in life) are the ones who come out looking best. It has very little to do with "hard work".

Posted by: Jufge Alex | May 17, 2007 8:07 AM

What I like about Brian's post is that it isn't a 'mom' plan -- it's an employee plan. I don't think that 4 hours of work should be worth 40 hours of pay, but from what I understand, about 25% of the average office employee's time is truly wasted, so people are already being paid for non-productive time (meetings that no one needs, team-building exercises, break-room chats, etc). If I am going to 'waste' 10 hours a week, I'd rather do it at home, where I could do laundry, or wait for the cable guy, or get the kids off the bus, or just spend 30 minutes walking the dog.

Tech companies seem to do this best, and regions outside DC seem more open as well. STBX is a techie, and we used to live in the Triangle. He always had a flex schedule, until we moved back here. One company he worked for actually had a high-speed line installed in our house at their expense -- this was in 1995, when nobody had high-speed data lines in their homes.

Then there are the poor teachers, who work extra hours, for no extra pay...just hugs and chalk-dust-osis. On second thought, I do have a flex-time plan. I have summers off, which (just about) makes up for all those extra hours I work during the school year.

Posted by: educmom | May 17, 2007 8:21 AM

My last position allowed me the flexibility of working from home four days per week out of a five day work week. I can honestly say that I accomplished more real work at home than I ever did while in the office. Part of this is due to working under the onus of proving that you can indeed be trusted to perform without direct supervision and eye contact with a 'boss'. Can everyone perform remotely? No. But should companies give employees a chance to prove themselves by working remotely? Yes.

Posted by: Regina | May 17, 2007 8:26 AM

Educmom, I am a former teacher and come from a long line of teachers. The phrase in my house was "It's a 12-month job crammed into 9 1/2 months". You need the summer off to recuperate!!

Be grateful you're not in the Triangle anymore with this mess about year-round schools. Or would you prefer to teach on that calendar? Me, I'm just not sure!!

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 17, 2007 8:28 AM

do you work at the World Bank??

Posted by: to Maggie | May 17, 2007 8:34 AM

I cut my schedule to 3 days a week a few years ago and can honestly say that I still get roughly the same amount of work done now as I did full-time. You just end up skipping a lot of meetings, eating lunch at your desk, chatting less and, yes, passing on new and more interesting projects.

Posted by: Jane | May 17, 2007 8:37 AM

I am one of the lucky ones that gets to telework 1 day a week so I have basically achieved the 4-day work week as a matter of speaking. I know office mates that do this 2 or 3 times a week and the federal government promotes the fact that many of it's agencies have teleworking capabilities for it's workforce.
The problem seems to be, how to account for the work that is being done at home on these days and who is working and who is not.
The method we use at my office is one of accountability and reporting. One of the requirements of teleworking is that the next day I have to provide a telework report of what I accomplished on my telework day and be prepared to provide proof if called upon to do so.

The best way to see who is working and who is not during telework days is to require accountability. If they find people not as productive at home as they are at the office, it may be time to revoke telework privileges

Posted by: John Q | May 17, 2007 8:40 AM

Gosh, hasn't this topic been discussed ad nauseam in this forum already? Brian needs to come up with some fresh topics!

Posted by: John | May 17, 2007 8:40 AM

My office offers a variety of work schedules, from standard 8 hour/5 days to 4 10 hour days, or a hybrid 4 9 hour days and one 4 hour day.

However, we're required to be in the office for 40 hours due to Federal requirements, so less time isn't an option. We do have some flexibility when we can come and go from work, though. Working hours can start as early as 6:30 am and you can work as late as 6:30 pm if that fits your schedule.

Posted by: John L | May 17, 2007 8:50 AM

WorkingMomX:
I would not want to work year-round. I think the 'summer' break with that schedule is 6 weeks long (excluding in-service) and it takes me almost that long to decompress! On the other hand, I do get a little bored by the end of August.

When we were there, those schools were magnets, and the program was popular. There was no guarantee that all your children would be in the magnet school, or that they would all be on the same schedule. The possibility of not having even three weeks with both boys off school, for a vacation as a family, was enough for me to veto the idea for us. I know the parents in Wake County were fighting mandatory year-round; didn't they win, at least for this school year?

Posted by: educmom | May 17, 2007 8:50 AM

"Gosh, hasn't this topic been discussed ad nauseam in this forum already? Brian needs to come up with some fresh topics!"

John, whomever you are,

You were just looking for a reason to say "ad nauseam" weren't you?

Posted by: John Q | May 17, 2007 8:51 AM

Well, they sort of won. The judge said the school board couldn't legally mandate year-round schools, and with only two months to go before the year-round schedule was due to start, there's not a lot of time to figure out what's what. So the school board is sending out letters to parents asking them to choose whether they want to send their kids to year-round school, in which case they're guaranteed a spot at their current school, or stay with the traditional calendar, in which case they're guaranteed a spot "somewhere in Wake County". Not good options!! I'm glad my son is not starting until next year, when they'll hopefully have things worked out.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 17, 2007 8:54 AM

No, I really do think that Brian rehashes the same topics again and again. He seeems like supernice guy and all but really gives littlel impetus to start useful discussions on interesting topics.

Posted by: to John Q | May 17, 2007 8:55 AM

I read a funny article this week in the Wall Street Journal about bosses who require their employees to perform a lot of psychological hand-holding for them. The examples were things like bosses who expected their employees to socialize with them while on business trips so they wouldn't have to eat alone at a hotel, bosses who required reassurance after a haircut or purchase of a new outfit, bosses who expected a lot of praise after giving a speech and so forth.

The article was interesting because all of these people who worked for them said, "Yeah, I never expected this to be in my job description -- but I also know that I can't NOT do these things . . ."

I remember in my early days in the federal government also being obsessed with measuring productivity -- and being unable to understand all the dead wood in some offices that seemingly did nothing. But the problem with measuring productivity is it doesn't take into account all that other nonsense -- the subtle, unmeasurable reasons people get kept on and promoted. The problem with working from home is that sometimes bosses want more than just someone to do the work -- they want all that other ephemeral unmeasurable stuff.

(For example, I'm thinking of an office where I worked where there was a fellow who literally did nothing all day. I'm afraid we referred to him as "The Big White Guy" and the general feeling was that our very old school boss was uncomfortable with managing so many women and diverse ethnic minorities -- so "The Big White Guy" was brought in to help him feel more comfortable. That was his function. He smoked a lot and went out for long lunches. Never saw him do anything else. Can't quite see how he could have pulled that off while working from home.)

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 9:01 AM

Check out fivedayweekend.org

My husband had the 9/80 work schedule at one of his companies and it was great. Of course, it doesn't work for everyone and I was a sahm at the time.

Posted by: atlmom | May 17, 2007 9:03 AM

To add onto what WorkingMomX said about the Wake County (NC) school mess, the school board is warning parents that if not enough students are volunteered for the year round schools, they will be forced to implement dual shifts in the conventional schools to handle the overcrowding.

IOW, some kids would start their classes around 6:00 am and leave at 12:00, while the other group would start around 12:30 and leave around 6:30. They claim this is their only option (ignoring converting existing buildings to schools, paying private developers to build schools, temporary classrooms, etc) and some people are calling BS on them, saying they are deliberately trying to frighten parents into joining the year round scheduled schools.

Their latest call for more money was shot down by the County commissioners, so it looks like we'll be seeing yet another bond referendum this fall, or a property tax increase.

Posted by: John L | May 17, 2007 9:04 AM

The answer is move to France. Otherwise, I think we are all pretty stuck.

Posted by: Moxiemom | May 17, 2007 9:04 AM

Jane

"You just end up skipping a lot of meetings, eating lunch at your desk, chatting less"

Yes, I have noticed that a lot more work gets done when the office gossips/ are on vacation.

It's weird how some people feel the need to spill their guts at work every single day.

Posted by: Suzi | May 17, 2007 9:05 AM

The 5 day work-week is typical of middle-class professionals and para-professionals who work in an office setting. But in this country, there are many people (most blue collar), who would love to be able to work JUST a 5 day week--or, should I say, just a 40 hour week. They often have to work late shifts which get them home after the kids are in bed, on Saturdays, and even Sundays. At a salon where I got my nails done a while ago, the oriental worker who did my nails told me she works 6 days a week until 8:00pm, and her parents were literally raising her children since she hardly saw them.

Just food for thought...even at 40 hours a week/5 days a week, most of us are greatly priviledged.

Posted by: Kattoo | May 17, 2007 9:07 AM

I also heard something interesting on the radio this morning--the Jack Diamond Morning Show on MIX-107.3FM in the DC-Metro Area. They were saying that a lot of people (and women in greater proportions than men), don't take vacation for fear of losing their job. They're afraid that if they take off, they will be seen as dispensible. For me...there's no way I would skip a vacation. I really need them!

Posted by: Kattoo | May 17, 2007 9:11 AM

A four hour workweek? It's been the norm in most government offices for decades.

Posted by: Unkle Cracker | May 17, 2007 9:12 AM

A four hour workweek? It's been the norm in most government offices for decades.

Posted by: Unkle Cracker | May 17, 2007 09:12 AM

Did you mean "four day"?

Posted by: TO: Unkle Cracker | May 17, 2007 9:13 AM

What are they going to do with middle and high schools, by the way -- or, more precisely, what do the WANT to do?

Have you considered one of the private schools? The boys ended up at one after a year in public school, and we were happy. Most private schools offer a discount on tuition for the children of teachers (if you're ready to go back to work). Ten years ago, the private schools were not elitist, and they were a bargain when compared to schools in Maryland; has that changed?

Posted by: educmom | May 17, 2007 9:14 AM

I have seen so much time wasted measuring productivity that it actually impacted productivity. When I was on active duty and assigned to a place that was mostly civilians I had to participate. There was a cumbersome program you had to use to input everything (from a premade list) you did all day in 15 minute intervals! If you were not just copying and pasting generic work statements it would have eaten up the day! There were of course no statements that applied to all the various things I did throughout the day between frantic phone calls to resolve international concerns and last minute things... so I just copied and pasted generic work statements. Not only did it waste my time (and everyone's), but I'm sure there were probably a few people in the building whose whole job was to review and submit the data.

Posted by: Chris | May 17, 2007 9:16 AM

We are considering a couple of private schools. The thing is, I really believe in public education, and one of the reasons we moved here is because of the quality of the education offered. I just don't know what to do.

Honestly, it is a mess, and sometimes I think it was a mistake to move into Wake County, anyway. We've talked about moving to Durham or Chapel Hill. We'll see.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 17, 2007 9:19 AM

To kattoo: yes, actually, older generations, yrs ago, raised the children while the parents both worked. It it is not unusual.

Go to school, get more skills, get a better job. Yes, it is very hard to do-but there is no picnic in an office and while there are people who goof off most people work really hard to get where they are.

Posted by: atlmom | May 17, 2007 9:19 AM

Well, Wake County sounds like it's making a mess of the schools!
Is it possible that, perhaps, maybe, the home builders are sort of, somewhat, slightly responsible for the absence of inexpensive available land on which to construct a new school or two? ;)

Posted by: educmom | May 17, 2007 9:22 AM

I work in an office where some people put in 16-18 hour days, 80+ hours a week, travel on a moment's notice, and others/mothers maybe show up 3 hours a day still keep their jobs. Then they whine about being overlooked for promotion and bonuses. DUH! People aren't paid for staying home. We're in a business and in order for work to be produced, people have to actually .... shall I say it? WORK! PRODUCE! BILL FOR TIME SPENT WORKING! Gosh, what a concept.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 9:22 AM

Atlmom: do you live in Atlanta? I've always wondered if that's why you have your screen name.

Posted by: Kattoo | May 17, 2007 9:27 AM

To 9:22 you are correct. What I don't get is when people complain about others as in: so and so doesn't do anything, etc. How does anyone know if that person isn't getting raises, etc because of that? Or are doing valuable things you don't see? Their boss should be the one to make determinations, and if you as an employee are unhappy, get a new job.

Posted by: atlmom | May 17, 2007 9:33 AM

All right, gang. As we enjoy the following song by the great Peggy Seeger (brought up to date), let's imagine a society where the workers she describes work only four hours a week. How long do you think our standard of living would last in such a world?

COME FILL UP YOUR GLASSES
(Peggy Seeger - with additional, even-numbered verses for the 21st century)

Come fill up your glasses with whiskey and beer
And drink a full glass to a happy new year
To our sisters and brothers, and may they live long,
So lift up your glasses and join in this song.

Refrain: So we'll fill up our glasses and drink once again,
To peace on this earth and good will among men.

1. Long life to the miners the whole world around,
Who spend all their days in a hole underground,
Whose road is a tunnel, whose day is the night,
Out of darkness and danger they bring power and light.

2. Here's a health to the landlords who buy and who build,
May their taxes be cut and their vacancies filled.
They lend us their doorknobs, hot water and heat,
The roof o'er our heads and the floor 'neath our feet.

3. Our thanks to the fishermen, and safe may they toil,
And also to the farmer who turns up the soil;
To the ploughmen and shepherds and all men of worth,
Whose joy is to harvest the fruits of the earth.

4. For accountants and lawyers, pass the bumper around,
Whose work keeps our freedom and property sound,
Who pore over ledgers, and comb through the laws,
Seeking loopholes and shelters to further our cause.

5. Here's to drivers and firemen and the rest of the team,
Who keep the stock rolling by diesel and steam,
To the cleaners and shunters who work night and day,
And the track-laying gangs on the permanent way.

6. Let's drink to the bankers and merchants in town
Who grant us cheap credit with no money down.
For the houses we live in, the cars that we drive,
For the stereos and washers we need to survive.

7. A toast to the casual laboring man,
Who lives where his work is, who works where he can,
To the builders and spidermen and bold engineers,
May your wages keep rising, lads, over the years.

8. To operations research analysts, management consultants, and industrial engineers,
Let's bottom our wine-cups, and drink up our beers.
May your charts, graphs and paperwork ne'er cease to flow,
May your briefings be heeded wherever you go.

9. To the writers and artists, then, let's drink a health,
To the people whose hopes and whose dreams are our wealth,
Whose tools are but canvas or paper and pen,
Whose harvest is the future and the progress of men,

10. To policemen and soldiers, a deep, hearty Skoal!
Who sweat in the streets or a muddy foxhole,
For our sake and our children's, they risk getting shot
By those on the outside who want what we've got.

11. Let the men drink a health to their sweethearts and wives,
And the ladies, being willing, will greet them likewise,
May your pleasures be many, your troubles be few,
May you treasure the day you made one out of two.

13. Let's drink to our children and let us prepare,
A world where they'll live free from sorrow and care,
A world where goodwill among men is the law,
A world without fallout, a world without war.

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | May 17, 2007 9:33 AM

Although the federal gov't is supposedly required to provide some sort of work at home choices (not sure of the specifics), in practice, it's very difficult to get the approval. I've worked in a few federal agencies, and most treat working at home as an alternative to taking a sick/vacation day. Like if you have a dr's appt, or your child is home sick. And, that is a fine option to have, but it's not, in my opinion, 'working from home', where you have a dedicated day(s) when you always work from home.

Also, in my position, I work in a call center. Everything I do in on the computer, all applications are web based. Callers are from all across the country, and I am never face to face with anyone. There is no need for me to physically be in the office. Furthermore, my productivity can easily be measured by the # of calls I take vs. miss or don't answer, so slacking off would be caught immediately. But alas, I am a lowely contractor, and since the feds already don't trust each other to work, they certainly aren't going to agree to have contractors work from home, either.

Posted by: fed contractor | May 17, 2007 9:38 AM

My new boss is encouraging me to work from home more often. His view is that since my numbers are up, I've earned the right to more freedom, and he will turn a blind eye if I slack a bit, also, so long as my positive trend continues.

That last bit is the kicker, though. I am not as confident as my boss is that my positive trend will continue--I know there are some market forces at play, it isn't just my amazing talents! When my numbers drop at some point in the future I would really like the protection of having my boss know I have been working as hard as ever and the drop is not my fault.

Posted by: worker bee | May 17, 2007 9:39 AM

Yes, kattoo, I am from atlanta.

Posted by: atlmom | May 17, 2007 9:44 AM

Just because the 40 hour work week is a privilege, doesn't mean we all don't deserve more. Having enough money just to meet hunger and shelter needs is a privilege, but it doesn't mean that my life would be so much better if I had money and time to spend with friends and family. And I would get more done in 4 hours than 8, because currently, I'm so mentally aggravated and upset about having to spend so much time away from those I love, that I take about 5 hours of me time at work, so I don't have to do me time on my own time, but can do friends and family time on my own time. If I knew I could get out of here in 4 hours, I'd work straight through, because I would feel more grateful to my employers, knowing that I wouldn't be separated from my loved ones for an unreasonable amount of time.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 9:44 AM

Oops! I meant I live in atlanta. Not from here. How could my mil treat me like a carpetbagger if I were from here?

Posted by: atlmom | May 17, 2007 9:51 AM

Sometimes the reason work from home is denied is because of security. If you are working in a call center for the IRS or Social Security, most likely you are accessing records with personal information. The American public really doesn't want that kind of personal information available to someone at their home. You can configure the computers to be secure, but you can't stop the worker from letting anyone in their home to look over their shoulder. Also, the expense involved in either setting up the home computers to be secure or to provide laptops may not be in the agency's budget.

Posted by: to fed contractor | May 17, 2007 9:54 AM

"What I don't get is when people complain about others as in: so and so doesn't do anything, etc."

When I first started working, I complained to my mother about someone not working. Her reply was "If you were concentrating on your own job and doing your own work, you wouldn't know what others were or weren't doing." Hmmmm...

Posted by: nona | May 17, 2007 9:57 AM

I read the link and there was a suggestion that you should be productive while working from home and non-productive while in the office. The theory is that the superiors would see that it isn't necessary for you to be in the office since your work was accomplished offsite.

In reality, the superiors may see that they are paying you for a lot of down time and may use that information when determining your next raise or promotion.

While it's good that so many people are good at their jobs and confident in their abilities, there are very few who are truly irreplacable. Be careful you don't talk yourself out of a job completely when trying to find more ways to be out of the office.

Posted by: Just a thought | May 17, 2007 10:01 AM

I think that felxiblity of this type can be easily acheived for those jobs that can be done from home. The key is management doing a better job of not wasting time and getting rid of useless tasks.

For example, our tracker system supposedly tracks our projects and hours worked. But we have to enter that info. SO there is time-suck no. 1. Time-suck no. 2 is the daily status meeting. Wait, I thought that's what the tracker was for...
Time-suck no. 3 is the very detailed time entry system. There is no code for "filling out useless charts and forms so management can keep tabs on me." It takes lots of us hours to track down all the codes from the project managers (who never answer the phone or e-mails). Not to mention the fact that the tracker and timesheet systems crash monthly.

Okay, complaining rant over.

But there is room for flexibility with respect to the jobs in Matt in Aberdeen's post. Job sharing allows two people to share a position. The same amount of work gets done. The downside, of course, is that the workers get half the pay, and many people can't afford to work reduced hours.

Posted by: Meesh | May 17, 2007 10:17 AM

As someone who principally works from home, I know that my productivity is ultimately measured in terms of visible output -- either the work is finished (and it must be done well) or it isn't. There are also the less tangible aspects, like the research that goes into the output; sometimes it can be accomplished quickly, other times it goes slowly -- and occasionally, after exhaustive searching, one comes to the realization that there's just a dead end. And don't forget communications, chiefly correspondence via email nowadays, which like research can be quickly and efficiently handled, or not, depending on the subject matter, the promptness and clarity (or lack thereof) of needed replies, etc., etc.

But the important point about Brian's column today, which a few posters have already addressed, is that not everyone's employment situation is alike. Some work, including some very important jobs, can ONLY be done in person and/or in a set workplace and/or during fixed hours. Some workplaces require longer hours of staffing, maybe even 'round the clock, so employees must work in shifts -- e.g., hospitals, firefighters, police -- on non-weekday non-dayshift schedules at least part of the time.

When framing one's comment on today's topic, it helps to bear in mind this diversity of tasks that constitute "work," instead of assuming that all work is like one's own.

Posted by: catlady | May 17, 2007 10:17 AM

Off-Topic Alert, continued

Well, Wake County sounds like it's making a mess of the schools!
Is it possible that, perhaps, maybe, the home builders are sort of, somewhat, slightly responsible for the absence of inexpensive available land on which to construct a new school or two? ;)

Posted by: educmom | May 17, 2007 09:22 AM

no, educmom. We have plenty of land, but we can't construct the schools fast enough to meet demand, and anyone who wants fiscal accountability is accused of not supporting public education. Wake County wants a blank check and no push-back on either its statistics, its planning, or its threats. We are gaining (they say) 7,800 new students each year.

btw, though, I need to correct some assumptions about how our year-round schedule works. There are 4 tracks. Each is 9 weeks on, 3 weeks off, so both teachers AND students burn out less and neither has to spend the first 6 weeks of the year reviewing the content forgotten over the summer.

Despite our commitment to public education, we have exited as of next year. Forget the year-round issue, the reassignments are occurring at such a rate that there's no consistency for the kids or the families and my son, in particular, needs more stability and better quality instruction than he's had in the last three years. In three years, he has been assigned to 2 1st year teachers, the third teacher was so experienced she was burnt out and MIA for most of the year, and this year, his teacher left mid-year and was replaced with one of the two first years. We're done with this merry-go-round and have purchased stability for both kids.

Posted by: MN | May 17, 2007 10:18 AM

I hate to be the PC police, but "oriental" refers to rugs and vases; "asian" refers to people.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 10:20 AM

To MN and others in NC: Could you please clarify a point for those of us living outside your state who are unfamiliar with "year-round" school schedules: Do these students actually spend more days in the classroom than those in traditional-schedule (i.e., summer off) school districts, or is it just a matter of the same number of school-days being spread out more evenly over the year?

Posted by: catlady | May 17, 2007 10:25 AM

Please, no more blogs on telecommuting, breastfeeding, mommy wars, etc. Rebeldad, not to be harsh, but please be a "rebel" and get a new topic.

Posted by: MV | May 17, 2007 10:26 AM

Yes, it is true that security issues prevent some from working at home. And, it is true that security needs to be maintained. I'm not referring to those types of positions.

I do hear grumbling, though, about how supposedly there should be policies in place, but that the policies are not always available.

I suspect that this situation is not limited to the gov't.

Posted by: fed contractor | May 17, 2007 10:27 AM

Off Topic about Wake County

MN, I have also heard this ~8,000 new students a year number. Do you know where they got this? Do you know if it accounts for students who are matriculating out of the school system? I heard about them considering raising property taxes to help pay for the next bond. My other question is, if 8,000 new students are arriving this year, why aren't the new families' new contribution to taxes enough to offset the cost of schooling their kids?

I heard on the Bill LaMay (sp?) a representative from a group opposing year-round schools. She said that we only got about 2,000 new students signed up for this year. I'd be curious to know if that's true.

I voted for the bond because I favor year-round school. But know I'm pissed because it seems like the school board had no idea what to do with the money. And now they need more?

Posted by: Meesh | May 17, 2007 10:28 AM

Oops

"But NOW I'm, pissed"

Posted by: Meesh | May 17, 2007 10:30 AM

You're confusing nationality with race. Are all black people African-Americans? ANd how many have actually been to AFrica? There are several Jamaican people here at our office and Jamaica is under British rule. So can people of the same race be called African-American and Jamaican-British? What about being simply British? We were taught the races are: Caucasian, Negro, and Oriental. I don't know where Hispanics and Native Americans come in. But all this crap about being PC confuses race with nationality. Asia is a place; there are a lot of Orientals from Canada, which is a place. Can you be Asian-Canadian? Sounds ridiculous. There is a difference between race and nationality, you know.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 10:31 AM

"Just because the 40 hour work week is a privilege"

The 40 hour week may be a privilege for you, buster. I'm in a union and the 40 hour hour week is a RIGHT for me!

Posted by: Die Hard | May 17, 2007 10:32 AM

Don't apologize for being PC about outdated usage. Though the writer didn't use oriental as a noun, I agree that it is offensive to use it as an adjective when describing a person. I expect that people in areas with large numbers of people from Asian countries or of Asian descent may be more aware of this change in usage.
________________________
From The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition:

The real problem with Oriental is more likely its connotations stemming from an earlier era when Europeans viewed the regions east of the Mediterranean as exotic lands full of romance and intrigue, the home of despotic empires and inscrutable customs. At the least these associations can give Oriental a dated feel, and as a noun in contemporary contexts (as in the first Oriental to be elected from the district) it is now widely taken to be offensive.

Posted by: Marian | May 17, 2007 10:32 AM

10:31, then your "oriental" nail stylist is actually American because she resides here. The cartegories of race you mentioned are outdated. The same way you wouldn't say "negro" anymore, you don't say "oriental." If you disagree, that's fine, but that doesn not make me confused.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 10:34 AM

catlady, the kids on the year-round calendar are in school the same number of days as those on the traditional calendar. 180 days, if memory serves.

I think the developers in Wake County need to be forced to pay an impact fee (preferably retroactive) so that the county has more of the money to build the schools it needs, and to hire contractors from out of the area since the need is so great that we'll exhaust the local talent. Reassignment scares me more than year-round schooling, though that doesn't thrill me either. We're keeping all options on the table for our kids, including relocation within the Triangle.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 17, 2007 10:38 AM

This talk about race reminds me of a friend of my brother's who applied for a scholarship because he was African American. He was born and grew up in South Africa. He was also white. He did not get the scholarship.

Posted by: Meesh | May 17, 2007 10:38 AM

For a while I worked 3 days a week at the office and 2 days a week at home. I got paid on a piecework basis at home (per word of translation) and hourly at the office. That ensured there would be no slacking off at home.

Posted by: Diane, Baltimore | May 17, 2007 10:39 AM

Anon at 10:31 makes a good point. We tend to ignore the difference between race and nationality in this country. Anon, you would be shocked at the ongoing debate about use of the term Latino over Hispanic.

Posted by: MV | May 17, 2007 10:41 AM

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

The Divorce topic was a LOT more interesting!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 10:41 AM

Meesh: there will only be an increase in taxes collected if new houses are being built or housing prices are increasing fast. Otherwise, they collect the same (unless they increase the millage rate). Atlanta is having the same growth issues as more people are moving to the city with kids. One has to wonder what they were doing with that increase in revenue for so many yrs (when housing prices were skyrocketing and new houses apts and condos are being built daily). So now they issued more bonds and want to keep thei one percent sales tax. In yrs past they were closing schools and selling the property and now it is time to pay the piper-so what happened to all that money? We'll never know ...

Posted by: atlmom | May 17, 2007 10:45 AM

On my work at home computer, I set the New Mail event sound effect to a vacuum sweeper. The more email I get, the more I hear the vacuum. When I have a busy day, I get the impression that I've done a lot of housework too.

It's my idea of virtual multitasking!


Posted by: Father of 4 | May 17, 2007 10:46 AM

Latino sounds like a street gang; Hispanic sounds classier.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 10:46 AM

Simple answer to how you can tell the slackers from those that produce when they are working outside of the office: Give them a week or two outside of the office and look at what happens to their productivity. Of course, this assumes that you know what their productivity is like when they are in the office. If you are just counting how many hours are there and looking to see if they appear to be working hard, you may actually be harming their productivity and making them unhappy.

While there are obviously some jobs that don't lend themselves easily to work from home scenarios- many opportunities exist that are not being taken.

Ferriss has a lot of good suggestions for making your like happier, even though I don't fully buy the concept of the path he chose, I can almost see how to make it work for me. For a flavor of his work, check out his "Change This" manifesto at: http://www.changethis.com/

"It's Monday morning and your To-Do list for the day is lengthy. You turn on your computer, log into your inbox, and...spend the next six hours starting, stopping and backtracking, your To-Do list untouched. Tim Ferriss offers immediate solutions to improve your productivity and quiet the constant information interference."

Posted by: matt mcknight | May 17, 2007 10:47 AM

WorkingMomX:
I would not want to work year-round. I think the 'summer' break with that schedule is 6 weeks long (excluding in-service) and it takes me almost that long to decompress! On the other hand, I do get a little bored by the end of August.

Posted by: educmom | May 17, 2007 08:50 AM

__________________________________

While I know very little about the educational merits (or lack thereof) of the year-round schedule, I'm pretty sure that that argument that six (or three) weeks off is insufficient time for teachers to "decompress" is not going to win a lot of support. Compared to the rest of the working country, three weeks off (multiple times a year, no less!) is an eternity. Not a lot of sympathy here.

Posted by: Not Going to Fly | May 17, 2007 10:47 AM

To anon at 10:31: yes, you can be "Asian-Canadian"; you can also be "Afro-Canadian" or "First Nations" (what in the US is referred to as "Native American" is referred to in Canada as "First Nation"). You can also be "French-Canadian", although only if you're of French ancestry and NOT from Quebec. :-) If you're of French ancestry and from Quebec, you're Quebecois or Quebecer.

In the US, "Hispanic" is not a race, it's an ethnicity and Hispanics can be of any race.

Normally, I'm a staunch opponent of the PC police, but I tend to try to call people what they prefer - even if I don't always keep up on it.

Posted by: Army Brat | May 17, 2007 10:48 AM

Isn't race sometimes a matter of how the person is perceived by others, in other words how they look? Barack Obama shares general racial similarities in appearance with African-Americans even though he's not descended from African slaves brought to America, but from a free black man who came to the US to study (from East Africa, Kenya, I think). Most Jamaican blacks are probably descended from African slaves who were brought to Jamaica, so they share a history of ancestral enslavement with their American counterparts as well as general racial similarities in appearance.

A good test for whether a person is "black enough" to be subject to racial discrimination is whether they look like they could get pulled over for "driving while black." African Americans, Barack and his children, and the above person's Jamaican-origin coworkers all meet that test, despite having different national origins.

Posted by: On race | May 17, 2007 10:53 AM

There's another good reason for teachers to have a long summer, namely because they often have to take college courses to maintain their accreditation, or at least keep their skills up-to-date. After all, think of a teacher who started teaching 30 years ago: his/her training wouldn't have included anything about using personal computers. It may be a vacation for your kids, but not necessarily for their teacher.

Posted by: To Not Going to Fly | May 17, 2007 11:00 AM

To respond directly to the topic: yes, I've read all the stuff on the "4 hour work week." You can't do a responsible job - do the work you're paid to do, at the quality for which you're paid - in 4 hours. No employer is that foolish for long. Yes, you can game the system for a while, but your career will suffer for it in the end.

Now, depending on the job, you CAN oftentimes work a flexible schedule with flexible locations. JetBlue used to advertise that they didn't have any callcenters; all of their agents worked from home. It's a LOT cheaper to run high-speed lines to employees' homes and provide them with laptops than it is to build and staff a call center. Of course, that may make it easier to outsource the call center to India or China, but then given all the other jobs being sent offshore I'm not sure that makes a huge difference any more.

With all of my employers - including the years I was a Fed - working from home was a privilege conferred on those who proved beyond doubt that they could and would be productive in that environment. And if you started slacking off while working at home - meaning your productivity suffered - that privilege would be quickly revoked.

As an engineer, I'm often more productive at home than in the office, because I don't get pulled into as many worthless meetings. (At home, I put the phone on speaker, mute it, and thus "attend" the meeting while getting work done. You can't get work done in the conference room with the boss, but you can do that at home.)

Posted by: Army Brat | May 17, 2007 11:01 AM

"In the US, "Hispanic" is not a race, it's an ethnicity and Hispanics can be of any race."

Army Brat, this is how it should be, but I have seen Hispanic given as a race option. I think that this comes from a misunderstanding of the term "raza" in Spanish.

Posted by: MV | May 17, 2007 11:01 AM

My ancestors on my mom's side were kicked out of spain in 1492. I have heard that I can legally call myself hispanic, but do not know if this is true. My grandmother and her siblings spoke a form of spanish - it had come down thru the generations until they came to the US.

Posted by: atlmom | May 17, 2007 11:03 AM

My cousins go to some year-round school in DC. I think it's in or around Takoma DC. But their families love it because there are at least 4 two week breaks throughout the year and my aunts and uncles can take their kids on long destination vacations during off-peak times, saving thousands of dollars.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 11:04 AM

This talk about race reminds me of a friend of my brother's who applied for a scholarship because he was African American. He was born and grew up in South Africa. He was also white. He did not get the scholarship.

That seems unfair to me.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 11:05 AM

RE: The employees who know how to manipulate the workplace (and most other things in life) are the ones who come out looking best. It has very little to do with "hard work".


Yeah, and it's a way to find balance. Get as much personal stuff done at the office that you can possibly squeeze in - pay bills, balance checkbook, firm up travel plans, phone calls, summer camp forms - the internet's a great help, of course. The list goes on and on.

Suggest an informal survey for those that are employed - currently, how many hours are you honestly working compared to number of hours that you are paid to work?

Posted by: once-in-a-blue-moon-poster | May 17, 2007 11:05 AM

To Not Going to Fly: I really hate to go there but please SHUT UP -- unless you have ever been a teacher OR are willing to work for a crap salary with a bunch of germ-infected kids, trying to cater to the whims of entitled parents (and their offspring) and meet the boneheaded requirements of NCLB?

I'm sorry but it really irritates me when people act like teachers are slackers or something. Talk about a thankless job that's not valued by society. Teaching your children isn't a picnic, buddy.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 17, 2007 11:09 AM

Sephardim, including Spanish Jews expelled by the Inquisition, spoke Ladino, which is to Spanish sort of like what Yiddish is to German. The big flap in Va. Sen. George Allen Jr's campaign last year had to do with his use of a Ladino slur which he denied having learned from his Sephardic-origin mother, combined with what was at least perceived as his follow-up sense of embarrassment about her Jewish ancestors.

Posted by: To atlmom | May 17, 2007 11:11 AM

Chill out -

"Compared to the rest of the working country, three weeks off (multiple times a year, no less!) is an eternity. Not a lot of sympathy here."

No one said teachers were slackers or that teaching is an easy job. I agree that three consecutive weeks off is an eternity to those of us who will never get more than 2 consecutive weeks off. There are those who are not teachers who also need time to decompress.

Posted by: to WorkingMomX | May 17, 2007 11:15 AM

"There are those who are not teachers who also need time to decompress."


So go be a teacher.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 17, 2007 11:16 AM

Ancestry is still different from race. Being French Canadian could still mean you could be black or white or oriental. Like the example of the person born in South Africa who was 'African American' but white. Race is your genetic make-up. Ancestry and nationality are different. I am caucasian (white) from Ulster Irish-English-German ancestry. There could also be black people with the same ancestry. There are a lot of white people in South AFrica. There are a lot of black people in ENgland. There are a lot of white people in Trinidad and Tobago. Let's get over this PC hang-up. Our local police once sent out a bulletin to find an elderly man who wandered away from home. They were so damned PC they would not mention his race in the description, so nobody knew if they were looking for a white man or a black man wearing khaki pants and a blue shirt. How stupid is that.

I compare race to being a building -- for example, a 9 story concrete building could be an office building, a hospital, or an apartment building, but it is still a 9-story concrete building.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 11:16 AM

Plenty of other people have to take classes to keep up with their acceditation and they don't get the summers off to do it.

Posted by: atlmom | May 17, 2007 11:20 AM

"Plenty of other people have to take classes to keep up with their acceditation and they don't get the summers off to do it."


Hey atlmom - follow WorkingMomX's advice -

"So go be a teacher."

Posted by: haha | May 17, 2007 11:25 AM

MV - when I was still a Fed, I served on a couple of promotion boards and thus had to take all the EEO training (and other training) associated with that.

Check out the EEOC's form, EEO-1, available on-line at http://www.eeoc.gov/eeo1/eeo1_2007_d.pdf

That's for reporting employment data, but it shows the 'recognized' categories. For ethnicity, there's 'Hispanic or Latino' or not. (It's no longer just 'Hispanic' for whatever reason.) Then, for race, it's "Black or African American", "Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander", "Asian", "American Indian or Alaska Native", "White", or "Two or more races".

WRT atlmom's question, I was always taught that race and ethnicity are self-identifying. You decide yourself what you are, and nobody has a right to tell you what you are or aren't. You wanna be "black or African-American"? Just claim it.

There used to be an exception for "Native American" in that a recognized tribe had to claim you. I don't know if that rule still exists or not.

Posted by: Army Brat | May 17, 2007 11:26 AM

Year round schools down here in Wake County, NC are 9 weeks on, three weeks off. It's the same # of days in school, and the parents who have students in this system say the kids retain knowledge better than vs the conventional schedule.

The problem the county has run into is they've consistantly underestimated the # of students they were expecting each year, and then failed to adjust new construction/renovation funding fast enough to keep up/catch up.

When the area took off in the 90's they were able to keep up for awhile by squeezing more students into smaller areas, but it's to the point now that a large part of their proposed building needs is just to get the classroom size back down to the optimum size, plus building for future/projected student needs.

The parent group that sued the school system and got the mandatory year round system overturned is partly to blame too, for not having an idea what to do if the judge agreed with them. Basically, they just wanted no year round schools, and don't care what may be the consequences if they were removed.

I doubt they'll get enough students voluntarily for the year round schools, so it will be interesting to see if they do go ahead with their threat of implementing the double shift class days.

Posted by: John L | May 17, 2007 11:29 AM

Plenty of other people have to take classes to keep up with their acceditation and they don't get the summers off to do it.

Posted by: atlmom | May 17, 2007 11:20 AM


But teachers more so than most professions.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 11:29 AM

"This talk about race reminds me of a friend of my brother's who applied for a scholarship because he was African American. He was born and grew up in South Africa. He was also white. He did not get the scholarship."

This reminds me of flap about Obama not being "black enough." It irritated me to no end. Apparently for some members of the African-American community, only descendants of slaves in what is now the US can use that term.

Posted by: MV | May 17, 2007 11:29 AM

To Not Going to Fly: I really hate to go there but please SHUT UP -- unless you have ever been a teacher OR are willing to work for a crap salary with a bunch of germ-infected kids, trying to cater to the whims of entitled parents (and their offspring) and meet the boneheaded requirements of NCLB?

I'm sorry but it really irritates me when people act like teachers are slackers or something. Talk about a thankless job that's not valued by society. Teaching your children isn't a picnic, buddy.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 17, 2007 11:09 AM

__________________________________

If you actually read my post, you would see that I never even hinted that teachers were slackers. Both my parents are teachers - I know it's no picnic. I merely said that when the argument against year-long schools is that teachers will "only" have multiple three-week breaks, most of the rest of the country (who probably get 2-3 weeks of vacation per year) is not going to be very sympathetic. I'm not sure why you took such offense at that.

Posted by: Not Going to Fly | May 17, 2007 11:30 AM

Anyone who's "black enough" to reasonably worry about getting pulled over for DWB ("driving while black") is black enough to know what it's like to be black in America. THat includes Barack Obama.

Posted by: To MV | May 17, 2007 11:33 AM

Off-Topic Alert

Meesh, If memory serves, Wake County claims 8K new students are projected to enter each year. Wake CARES asserted that the 8K number ignores departures which equal or exceed 200. I don't trust either number and only Wake County really knows because they delay and delay and delay in responding to disclosure requests filed under the open records laws. The current tax rate is sufficient to update and remodel existing buildings, but not to construct a volume of new buildings. Also, new arrivals enroll today. Property taxes are collected on an annual basis - perhaps 8 - 10 months later. This is a government clusterfoxtrot (DH's new favorite online euphemism) at its worst.

to anon at 10:46, whatever. Tell us your name and we will comment on whether it sounds "classy".

The majority of Latinos in the U.S. have no connection to Spain. If Latino leaders and prominent spokespersons consider "Latino" to be more appropriate than "Hispanic", that's all I need to know. It is a fundamental sign of respect to refer to someone by the name with which he introduces myself or in the manner to which he refers himself, including correct pronunciation - I extend the same respect to other individuals and groups.

Chris, I didn't read your messages from last week about your wife's health issues until this morning. I am very sorry for the stress, anxiety, and hardship with which you are both dealing and wish only the best for you.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | May 17, 2007 11:34 AM

It seems there are some socially regressive posters here. Like altmom or whoever it was that said we were whiners compaired to the asian nail tech who works 80 hours a week. Is the Asian serf-slave workplace the model the US should follow? I admit we may be moving in that direction, but is that what most people want? If so why?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 11:35 AM

To Not Going to Fly: Okay, calmer now. I took offense because it's one of my hot buttons, and I'm sorry that I directed my ire at you. I haven't gone back into teaching because I make so much more money in the private sector, but I do miss the kids. It's the hardest job I ever did but I loved it more than anything I've done since. It's just such poor pay, and then there are the parents! Oy vey!

There are people who think that teachers have it really easy, but you're probably not one of them. Again, I apologize.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 17, 2007 11:37 AM

How long did your Sephardic ancestors have Spanish last names? See Megan's Neighbor's comment above. That might help you decide whether you see yourself as Hispanic as well as Jewish.

Posted by: To atlmom | May 17, 2007 11:41 AM

"The majority of Latinos in the U.S. have no connection to Spain. If Latino leaders and prominent spokespersons consider "Latino" to be more appropriate than "Hispanic", that's all I need to know."

I'm ashamed to admit this, being that I am Latino/Hispanic, but I don't know when the switch was made. Latino refers to Latin America and not a connection with Spain (since not all countries in Latin America are Spanish-speaking). Hispanic was the term that was directly related to Spanish rule. I don't prefer one term over another, but do like to irritate some of my friends who prefer the term Latino....because being from Hispaniola, I am Hispanic!!! :-)

Posted by: MV | May 17, 2007 11:41 AM

But calling myself hispanic might mean I would be eligible for grant money scholarships etc for minorities-so is isn't just what you want to call yourself-i heard this right before I was going to grad school and was thinking of applying as a minority but did not.

Posted by: atlmom | May 17, 2007 11:41 AM

Maybe in 15 years when DS is applying to college, he can qualify for a minority scholarship. Changing demographics, ya know?

Posted by: Pure White American | May 17, 2007 11:44 AM

"The majority of Latinos in the U.S. have no connection to Spain.

But what if they or their relatives speak Spanish as their main language? And what about Portuguese? Is a Brazilian Hispanic or Latino?

Posted by: To MV | May 17, 2007 11:44 AM

To: once-in-a-blue-moon-poster: regarding your survey, I'm not paid to work any set number of hours. I'm paid a salary to do a job. It's expected of me that I'll work enough hours to do that job well. Yes, it's expected by my employer that it will average out to at least 40 hours per week; if it doesn't it's expected that my management will do something about that (like give me more or harder work :-)

And in case you're wondering: yes, in this job I do fill out a timecard, for the sole purposes of data collection by my employer. In the last job I held, there was no time card: "here's your work; get it done."

Posted by: Army Brat | May 17, 2007 11:46 AM

If your family has been here a couple of centuries or more, you might be real surprised at what else is in your genetic material.

Posted by: To Pure White American | May 17, 2007 11:46 AM

"Latino sounds like a street gang; Hispanic sounds classier"

Unless it's West Side Story.

Posted by: Office Krupke | May 17, 2007 11:47 AM

"If your family has been here a couple of centuries or more, you might be real surprised at what else is in your genetic material."

Nope, not here that long, only 110 years. Hey, I hope you didn't think I was being discriminatory in any way - just glad for any scholarship edge :).

Posted by: Pure White American | May 17, 2007 11:50 AM

"If your family has been here a couple of centuries or more, you might be real surprised at what else is in your genetic material."

And what isn't.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 11:55 AM

"The majority of Latinos in the U.S. have no connection to Spain.

But what if they or their relatives speak Spanish as their main language? And what about Portuguese? Is a Brazilian Hispanic or Latino?"

I didn't write the above quote. I did say in my response that Latino is not used to describe a direct connection to Spain (that's the term Hispanic), but rather stems from the name of the continent (Latin America or America Latina). Brazilians are considered Latinos,as are the English speaking Afro-Hondurans.

Posted by: MV | May 17, 2007 11:55 AM

You still might be surprised, because some African and African-American slaves were take to Europe centuries ago. And some freemen's descendants, like Alexandre Dumas Sr, went there of there own accord.

Posted by: To Pure White American | May 17, 2007 11:57 AM

What about a Spaniard in or from Spain, or a Portuguese in or from Portugal? What about a Portuguese-speaker from a former Portguese colony like Angola or Mozambique (in Africa) or Goa (in India) or Macau or East Timor (in Asia)?

Posted by: To MV | May 17, 2007 12:00 PM

"If your family has been here a couple of centuries or more, you might be real surprised at what else is in your genetic material."

And what isn't.

Posted by: | May 17, 2007 11:55 AM


In Pure White American's case, the genes for good brains.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 12:02 PM

And the British royal family has African blood, as well.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 12:02 PM

Alright, I'll correct myself, the "Asian American manicurist."

Posted by: Kattoo | May 17, 2007 12:03 PM

MV, I'm old enough to remember when "Hispanic" was created as a PC term because there were two groups: "Chicanos", specifically referring to Mexican-Americans; and "Latinos", which was colloquially used to refer to those from Latin America, SOUTH of Mexico. "Hispanic" was the compromise term chosen.

I've seen the discussion on whether Brazilians - who speak Portuguese and have ties to Portugal vice Spain - qualify as "Hispanic". I've also seen it break both ways. I've seen an outside consultant swear up and down to my promotion board that someone of Brazilian ancestry is NOT Hispanic, and I've seen several other cases when the response is "of course a Brazilian is Hispanic." I don't know, but I suppose it's possible that the change to "Hispanic or Latino" was done to resolve that issue - Brazilians ARE Latinos, so that's the end of that argument.

atlmom, re self-identification: It's been explained to me that it's the backlash from segregation in the South, where states decided what "race" you were. That will "never happen again" which means the only way to include race as a factor is to have self-identification. And on those promotion boards, I did have a couple of "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?" moments reading files on people I knew and seeing what race/ethnicity they claimed to be. But we were legally required to count them as that race if that's what they said.

And the last point I'm going to make on self-identification: perhaps Fred and Frieda are old enough to remember the first "African-American" mayor of New Orleans, Ernest N. "Dutch" Morial. Mayor Morial had very fair skin, and in fact when he served in the Army in the 1950s he listed himself as "White". There was quite a bit of controversy about that when Morial was running; there were a lot of "is he really black, or is he just an opportunist changing his race to suit himself?" debates that went on.

(Mayor Morial's wife was much darker-skinned, and so when Dutch Morial's son, Marc Morial, ran for mayor later on, there was no question as to what race he was.)

Posted by: Army Brat | May 17, 2007 12:03 PM

sorry brian...

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 12:05 PM

The Jews weren't the only group kicked out of Spain in 1492.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 12:05 PM

My grandmother refers to Orientals/Asians as "Asiatics". Makes them sound like diseased half-castes.

I would say this blog has officially jumped the shark.

Posted by: Yeah, yeah | May 17, 2007 12:06 PM

can we go back to discussing shoes and hair?

Posted by: zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz | May 17, 2007 12:08 PM

"What about a Spaniard in or from Spain, or a Portuguese in or from Portugal? What about a Portuguese-speaker from a former Portguese colony like Angola or Mozambique (in Africa) or Goa (in India) or Macau or East Timor (in Asia)?"

Ummm what's your point?

Posted by: MV | May 17, 2007 12:11 PM

"is he just an opportunist changing his race to suit himself?"

Geraldo Rivera used to go under then name Jerry Rivers.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 12:11 PM

The Moors were also expelled from Spain, although I thought that began long before 1492. Please clarify further.

Posted by: To 12:05 | May 17, 2007 12:12 PM

Maybe in 15 years when DS is applying to college, he can qualify for a minority scholarship. Changing demographics, ya know?

Are you joking? There will be no scholarships for your son. He's privileged you know.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 12:13 PM

WorkingMomX:
I sympathize with your rant. For some reason, people think that my summers off are spent doing absolutely nothing!

Not Going To Fly:
In every state, teachers need to take classes to retain their certification (in order to keep their jobs). They also spend the first week of the summer in meetings, packing up the room, and wrapping up the year.

They spend at least one week before students come back in meetings, planning the year.

I'm taking a class this summer; I'm also entering all my lessons from the previous year into the mapping program the archdiocese has mandated for use in all schools. I will try to find a book to use with my advanced readers that is short enough to read and respond to in journals, and that has NOT been made into a movie, and I will develop the journal prompts for the book after I read it a few times. I will also write out my unit plans for the year.

I didn't have time to find the book, or take the class, because I spend an hour or two every night either grading papers or preparing for lessons (plus 4-5 hours every weekend) after my 7.5-hour day (which includes a generous 20 minutes for lunch).

I don't have paid vacation time, other than Christmas (only 2 or 3 days more than STBX gets) and Easter break (and this year, our attendance at the National Catholic Educator Association convention was mandatory, since it was held in Baltimore during the week following Easter).

If I need to take a day (if I get sick), I need to find my own sub.

You know those half-days and non-holidays that your children have off school? Well, we don't.

I don't even want to tell you what I make! With a MEd, no less!

But I AM NOT COMPLAINING!!!

I would not trade this job for any other (although I certainly understand exactly why so many people do).

OK, everyone! Back to work!

Posted by: educmom | May 17, 2007 12:14 PM

My grandmother refers to Orientals/Asians as "Asiatics". Makes them sound like diseased half-castes.

I would say this blog has officially jumped the shark.

Posted by: Yeah, yeah | May 17, 2007 12:06 PM

I don't know how old your grandmother is, but my husband and decided a while back that we would be happy if our relatives over 75 made some sort of effort to be respectful, even if they are, on occasion, a decade or so off from the current preferred term. We've never had to explain the term, "colored" to our kids, but, on occasion, have to address appropriate usage of Oriental vs. Asian, and Latino vs. Mexican (believe it, or not). I'm sure others have it much worse with relatives who excuse all manner of insult with, "what is it the "fill in the blanks" want to be called these days? I remember when it was . . . ."

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | May 17, 2007 12:14 PM

Thanks Army Brat for that explanation. Like I said, I don't know why the term was chosen. I work in international development, specifically in Latin America, and it's always interesting to hear how we define ourselves.

Posted by: MV | May 17, 2007 12:14 PM

"Are you joking? There will be no scholarships for your son. He's privileged you know."

There will ALWAYS be scholarships for the cream of the crop!.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 12:15 PM

"If your family has been here a couple of centuries or more, you might be real surprised at what else is in your genetic material."

And what isn't.

Posted by: | May 17, 2007 11:55 AM


In Pure White American's case, the genes for good brains.


OK - People were speaking of hispanic ancestory and filing for minority scholarships. I don't have Native American, African American, Negro, or other background that would qualify me for a minority scholarship. I was reading an article today stating that in the not too far future, minorities would be more than 50% of the American population. Based on that, I made a light-hearted comment that maybe my kids would qualify for minority scholarships.

I didn't mean to imply that there is anything wrong or inferior with anyone else or that I am better than anyone else. I don't really care what would turn up in my background. If there is black, white, yellow, red, or green, it doesn't matter.

Why is it that any time a white person makes a remark about being white, it is perceived as being racist or stupid?

Posted by: Pure White American | May 17, 2007 12:16 PM

Geraldo Rivera used to go under then name Jerry Rivers.

Posted by: | May 17, 2007 12:11 PM


He's half-Jewish, half-Hispanic (or Latino, of you prefer)

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 12:16 PM

There will ALWAYS be scholarships for the cream of the crop!.

Please that is not what he is talking about and you know it.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 12:17 PM

"can we go back to discussing shoes and hair?"

zzzzzzzz please don't give Leslie any ideas...I have a feeling we're going to discuss pedicures tomorrow.

Posted by: MV | May 17, 2007 12:18 PM

Why is it that any time a white person makes a remark about being white, it is perceived as being racist or stupid?

Posted by: Pure White American | May 17, 2007 12:16 PM


It's not the "white" part that causes people to perceive you as being racist or stupid, it's the "pure" part.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 12:18 PM

Megan's Neighbor

"We've never had to explain the term, "colored" to our kids,"

I've had to explain many, many times that Puerto Ricans are not immigrants or illegal aliens.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 12:19 PM

It's not the "white" part that causes people to perceive you as being racist or stupid, it's the "pure" part.

Why? Other races say they are 100% of whatever race they are.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 12:20 PM

"It's not the "white" part that causes people to perceive you as being racist or stupid, it's the "pure" part."

I only used 'pure' to clarify that I didn't qualify for minority status. Sorry if it offended people.

Posted by: Pure White American | May 17, 2007 12:20 PM

Sorry if it offended people.

Posted by: Pure White American | May 17, 2007 12:20 PM

I see no evidence that it offended anyone, but it does strike me, at least, as echoing Hitler's and other's preference for racial purity amongst white Europeans. Accordingly, perhaps if you don't want to be associated with historical figures who are less than revered, you might consider leaving references to purity aside.

Posted by: MN | May 17, 2007 12:28 PM

Why? Other races say they are 100% of whatever race they are.

An awful lot of Americans of all races have a mixture of races in their ancestry. If they SAY they're racially 100% pure, they may be deluding themselves. Most of us are identified racially by how we look to others, by what we mostly are.

Posted by: Huh? | May 17, 2007 12:30 PM

Anyone calling themselves "Pure White American" sounds like they are applying for a job with the KKK.

Not that you are, that is. It just sounds that way.

Posted by: John L | May 17, 2007 12:30 PM

Pure White American

Even if you've had a bunch of DNA tests done, you can't be 100% how pure you are as the technology stands today.

Posted by: Judge Judy | May 17, 2007 12:34 PM

My mil is a retired teacher and she wouldn't work during the summers either. It was barely enough time to get done what she needed. Educmom and all you teachers out there-you have a thankless job that gets harder every year-with parents no longer supporting you with tougher standards etc. I do applaud you.

Posted by: atlmom | May 17, 2007 12:35 PM

"Other races say they are 100% of whatever race they are."

Explain how a race utters words.

If you mean that persons of non-Causasian ethnicity claim to be 100% of another race, it's balderdash. Most intelligent people understand that the only thing we can prove, and sometimes not even that, is the identity of our mother.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 12:37 PM

The NEA has got you people hook, line and sinker.

Teachers, at best, work a 55 hour week even if we buy the claims of work at home, on weekends, through the night, during hurricanes, etc. They have 9 - 12 weeks off per year depending on whether they work summer school or take on coaching responsibilities.

If you want to say they work hard for the money, I agree. If your claim is that they work SOOOOOOO much harder than everyone else and are plum exhausted and require that nine to twelve weeks just to recover from their 55 hour per week jobs, gimmeabreak.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 12:41 PM

If you mean that persons of non-Causasian ethnicity claim to be 100% of another race, it's balderdash. Most intelligent people understand that the only thing we can prove, and sometimes not even that, is the identity of our mother.


I geuss you know everything.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 12:44 PM

I live across the street from a school.

The school parking lot is empty by 3:00 pm EVERY school day.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 12:45 PM

"But teachers more so than most professions"

Lawyers in my state must take courses to maintain admission to the bar.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 12:51 PM

I geuss you know everything.

Posted by: | May 17, 2007 12:44 PM

he knows to use spellcheck. like a bunch of lawyers at the bottom of the ocean, it's a good start.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 1:01 PM

To Not Going to Fly: Okay, calmer now. I took offense because it's one of my hot buttons, and I'm sorry that I directed my ire at you. I haven't gone back into teaching because I make so much more money in the private sector, but I do miss the kids. It's the hardest job I ever did but I loved it more than anything I've done since. It's just such poor pay, and then there are the parents! Oy vey!

There are people who think that teachers have it really easy, but you're probably not one of them. Again, I apologize.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 17, 2007 11:37 AM

__________________________________

No worries. By the way, none of the subsequent anonymous posters were me.

Posted by: Not Going to Fly | May 17, 2007 1:02 PM

"I geuss you know everything."

I know that I'm not in high school.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 1:03 PM

"I see no evidence that it offended anyone, but it does strike me, at least, as echoing Hitler's and other's preference for racial purity amongst white Europeans"

That's just nuts. Nowhere did I say that I have a preference for racial purity. I was merely identifying myself as being 100% caucasion.

Amazing how an innocent remark can be so blown out of proportion.

Posted by: Pure White American | May 17, 2007 1:04 PM

Pure White American

"I was merely identifying myself as being 100% caucasion."

How can you be certain?

Posted by: Pure Pussy | May 17, 2007 1:06 PM

Actually, the original three races were Caucasian, Negroid and Mongoloid. Asia is a continent while Oriental refers to one who is from the Orient. The Orient only falls under Asian countries that were part of the Chinese Empire. India is in Asia while only parts of India fall under the Orient rule. Now putting this all aside, the federal government of the United States as redefined race and now there are several races. White, Black, American Indian and Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islanders, Asian and the mixed race category. So race/ethnicity is an evolving concept and really has no real anthropological or geographic, or genetic boundaries as defined by the US government.

Posted by: foamgnome | May 17, 2007 1:07 PM

maybe my wariness in calling myself hispanic is that it implies that i have been disadvantaged in some way because i am a 'minority.' I have not.

I say 'minority' in quotes because when i took a sociology class, they called a minority anyone who is not white - whether or not there are 'more' of them than another type of people.

And I agree that if the unions didn't exist, our education would probably be better. And without testing and NCLB it could be great. *sigh*. But that doesn't mean i begrudge any teachers. They work really hard - they deserve more than they get (it's the administrators i'm not sure about)

Posted by: atlmom | May 17, 2007 1:07 PM

Oh one more, Orient which means from the east, originally referred to what is now considered the Middle East. As Europeans ventured further into Asia, then Orient got tacked on to the Far East (chinese empire). But it never included what is now known as the continent of Asia. BTW, it doesn't offend me, personally, to be called Oriental versus Asian. But it seems as if describing a person as Oriental is un PC.

Posted by: foamgnome | May 17, 2007 1:10 PM

"How can you be certain?"

I'm as certain as anyone else is about their ancestry. Can you trace all the way back to Adam & Eve? I can't.

"WRT atlmom's question, I was always taught that race and ethnicity are self-identifying. You decide yourself what you are, and nobody has a right to tell you what you are or aren't. You wanna be "black or African-American"? Just claim it."

I'm just self-identifying :).

Posted by: PWA | May 17, 2007 1:14 PM

I didn't know that attorneys had to continue their education after being admitted to the bar. I assume nurses and doctors need to complete courses to maintain their licenses. What other professions have to take classes to maintain their professional status? I'm curious.

Anon at 12:41:
I'm not in the NEA. I live my life & have the ability to read both a clock and a calendar.

Anon at 12:45:
What time does the school dismiss? And, if you are working, how do you know when the parking lot is empty?

Posted by: educmom | May 17, 2007 1:18 PM

Pure White American

"I'm as certain as anyone else is about their ancestry. Can you trace all the way back to Adam & Eve? I can't."

I trace my ancestry to Mary Magdalene & Jesus. Even Jesus wasn't 100% Jew.

Posted by: Pure Pussy | May 17, 2007 1:19 PM

and mom's maiden name was more arabic -ish while grandmom's maiden name is very spanish. not that that should matter...

Posted by: atlmom | May 17, 2007 1:20 PM

Off-Topic re: year-round schools

Vegas has had year-round schools for about 20 years now. They still aren't popular, and we still see parent protests when a school experiences enough growth that they have to convert to a year-round schedule.

Out here, there are 5 tracks, so the school population is lowered by about 20% by the year-round schedule. In addition to the schedule, we are opening almost 10 new schools every year, and most open completely full.

DD attends the largest elementary school in the state -- 1400 kids. They are using more than a dozen portable buildings. Next year, she will be going to a new school that was built to relieve the overcrowding.

Vegas has about 8K people per month moving in. That growth rate has held about steady for the entire 15 years I've lived here. Year-round schools are one solution to delay capital expenditures on new schools. I'd rather have my child in a year-round school than one with a split schedule.

The school district has managed to perfect the scheduling over the years. Siblings are always kept on the same track. If a parent is a teacher, than siblings and parent are kept on the same track, even if they are at different schools. Only elementary schools use the year-round schedule. They tried using it on middle schools many years ago and it was a disaster. It made scheduling extracurricular activities almost impossible (i.e., football, band, etc.). So, now we build enormous middle and high school campuses to handle the student population.

We have liked the year-round schedule, but we are in the minority. It is admittedly easier with just one child. Parents with children in both elementary and middle schools have no choice but to have their children on different school schedules.

We deliberately chose a schedule that has DD in school in July and August. Out here, temps get to over 110 degrees in the summer. She's going to be taking refuge inside anyway -- she may as well be in school. She's off in October, February, and June.

Posted by: Vegas Mom | May 17, 2007 1:21 PM

educmom: just about most professions: dr. lawyer, accountant (CPA), project manager, and now that everyone and their brother is putting together a test for different professions (financial analyst, ...) there are more and more...

Posted by: atlmom | May 17, 2007 1:21 PM

Jew is a religion, not a race.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 1:22 PM

educmom

"What other professions have to take classes to maintain their professional status? I'm curious."

If you are curious, look it up!
Duh, aren't you a TEACHER? Sheesh.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 1:22 PM

1:22, it is both, though you never see it recognized as such. I guess you could say it is the minority of minorities then.

Posted by: Chris | May 17, 2007 1:26 PM

Four-hour-workweek. Wow. I guess all those who say they work because they 'need' to for personal fulfillment will neve go for it.

Posted by: huh? | May 17, 2007 1:29 PM

So the word "pussy" makes it through the profanity filter?

Isn't that word in itself offensive to women?

Posted by: Jo Mamma | May 17, 2007 1:31 PM

For folks who recite the "teaching to the test" cliche and decry testing & NCLB - have you ever checked out the questions for national standards testing? Do you have any idea how EASY they are? If you are a good teacher, your curriculum involves a way of educating students about the topics they need for the test while applying them more broadly. I am so confounded when people decry testing as a reasonable form of measuring accountability and progress - for crying out loud, even little kids have to take tests for KARATE to pass from one level to the next.

Posted by: Curiosity | May 17, 2007 1:33 PM

Educmom,

As a registered professional engineer, I am required to take annually 15 hours of classes related to my profession in order to remain licensed. It's not on a 1 for 1 basis either; just because a course is 8 hours long doesn't mean I get 8 hours of PDH's (personal development hours). Most engineers have to do this to remain licensed in their state.

Posted by: John L | May 17, 2007 1:35 PM

Attorneys do, in fact, have to continue with legal courses to maintain their Bar standing. It's called "CLE" Continuing Legal Education. Doctors must also keep up to date with medical advances. You wouldn't want to go to a doctor who got out of medical school 30 years ago and never took a class after that. Far too many advances in medicine during the past 30 years. Even the lowly volunteer EMTs and paramedics who arrive at accident scenes have to maintain their certification by taking on-going classes.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 1:36 PM

It's interesting to me that you guys ... who are reading a work/life balance blog ... are not more interested in a topic that, if implemented by more companies, would truly give us all a more balanced life : )

Posted by: Sharon | May 17, 2007 1:38 PM

Curiosity

"have you ever checked out the questions for national standards testing?"

Have you ever checked out how easy it is to become a teacher in most states?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 1:39 PM

"I geuss you know everything."
I know that I'm not in high school.

That is up for debate, but at least you know who you mother is.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 1:42 PM

Sharon, the problem is that this topic comes up about once a week. It's already been discussed.

Posted by: MV | May 17, 2007 1:44 PM

Sharon- clearly if you could do your work in 4 hours a week your employer would probably give you a pay cut or more work

Posted by: atlmom | May 17, 2007 1:51 PM

To 1:39 - yes I have, it is incredibly easy to become a teacher in most states. Even here in Massachusetts where, allegedly, it is slightly harder than other states.

Posted by: Curiosity | May 17, 2007 1:52 PM

Attorneys do, in fact, have to continue with legal courses to maintain their Bar standing. It's called "CLE" Continuing Legal Education. Doctors must also keep up to date with medical advances. You wouldn't want to go to a doctor who got out of medical school 30 years ago and never took a class after that. Far too many advances in medicine during the past 30 years. Even the lowly volunteer EMTs and paramedics who arrive at accident scenes have to maintain their certification by taking on-going classes.

Posted by: | May 17, 2007 01:36 PM

Not only is it required, you don't get time off to take the class.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 1:56 PM

The phrases "work from home" and "work at home" have appeared in 373 post on this blog.

he word "homework" has appeared in 381 posts.

Taking requests for the next half hour.

Posted by: Blog Stats | May 17, 2007 1:58 PM

"So race/ethnicity is an evolving concept and really has no real anthropological or geographic, or genetic boundaries as defined by the US government."

If you take your cues from the US government on race, ethnicity or anything else, I pity you.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 2:02 PM

Jew is a religion, not a race.

Posted by: | May 17, 2007 01:22 PM

not less than once per day, someone posts something so ignorant I wonder how she was capable of either purchasing a computer, connecting it to the internet, or becoming employed.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 2:04 PM

Continuing Education for Lawyers

"Not only is it required, you don't get time off to take the class"

It also ain't cheap and can't get parlayed into THE WHOLE SUMMER OFF!!!

The NEA needs to update the propaganda it spouts to members.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 2:06 PM

Actually the US Government does have a 4-hour-work week but they get paid for 40 hours.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 2:08 PM

So the word "pussy" makes it through the profanity filter?

Isn't that word in itself offensive to women?

Posted by: Jo Mamma | May 17, 2007 01:31 PM

Jo Mamma, as you no doubt know, profane is not the equivalent of vulgar.

Many words have multiple meanings and cannot be filtered out without excluding non-vulgar uses. The alternative for rooster comes to mind along with the synonym for kitty-cat used above.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 2:08 PM

To the naysayers: If it's so easy to be a teacher, and the benefits are so wonderful, why in the world are there teacher shortages?

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 17, 2007 2:10 PM

Leslie,
Here are some ideas for topics for this blog:

1) Have you ever had an opportunity to experience the "other side?" Meaning, if you're a working mom, have you ever had a chance to stay home for a while? How did you like it. And vice versa. Is the grass greener...or not?

2) Do you have a mom or dad co-worker who has "abused the system" as a way to achieve balance?

3) What "perks" does your company offer to help working parents?

4) What's the worst working parent moment you've ever had? You know, the one where you have a sick child...big meeting...etc. How did you handle it? How understanding was your employer?

5) Have you ever been excluded by stay-at-home parents in your neighborhood? In our neighborhood, the stay at home moms have the higher status.


Posted by: Ideas for Topics | May 17, 2007 2:10 PM

There aren't teacher shortages in Massachusetts. I cannot comment on other areas.

Posted by: Curiosity | May 17, 2007 2:12 PM

How many days/hours a week do you all work?

I work 40 hours a week, eight of which at home.

How about you?

Posted by: So.... | May 17, 2007 2:13 PM

To the naysayers: If it's so easy to be a teacher, and the benefits are so wonderful, why in the world are there teacher shortages?

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 17, 2007 02:10 PM

Because the pay sucks. And many people do not want to work with kids.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 2:14 PM

"And many people do not want to work with kids."

Why?

Posted by: TO: 2:14 | May 17, 2007 2:15 PM

Forty-two states issue emergency credentials to people who have taken no education courses and have not taught a day in their lives. Many teachers are hired based solely on their experience leading church or camping groups.

One-fourth of new teachers -- if they are licensed -- are not licensed to teach in the field they are teaching.

Twenty percent of new teachers leave within the first three years; most likely to leave are those with the highest college-entrance exam scores. A whopping
49 percent of those who leave do so because of job dissatisfaction or to pursue another career.

Posted by: fyi | May 17, 2007 2:17 PM

"To the naysayers: If it's so easy to be a teacher, and the benefits are so wonderful, why in the world are there teacher shortages?

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 17, 2007 02:10 PM

Because the pay sucks. And many people do not want to work with kids."

And many people don't want to deal with the dumba$s parents.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 2:17 PM

If memory serves, Massachusetts pays teachers well AND gives unprecedented signing bonuses of up to $20K. So there wouldn't be a shortage. Talk to the folks in Mississippi or Alabama . . . Even in the middle of the road states, there are shortages.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 17, 2007 2:19 PM

""To the naysayers: If it's so easy to be a teacher"

It's frighteningly easy to become a teacher; there is a shortage of GOOD teachers.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 2:19 PM

2:15, see the blog topic a couple days ago "Care for the Caregiver."

Posted by: Meesh | May 17, 2007 2:20 PM

To the naysayers: If it's so easy to be a teacher, and the benefits are so wonderful, why in the world are there teacher shortages?

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 17, 2007 02:10 PM

I have no idea which posters you consider fall under the category of naysayers, but for the sake of discussion, let's recast the question: Why in the world are there teacher shortages in public schools but not in private schools, particularly since public schools generally pay more than comparable private schools? Because talented, gifted people find it difficult to do their jobs under wrong-headed government mandates, with little training, and in a situation where their bosses are often the least talented rather than the most talented educator teachers. It's a shame the government-run system makes it so impossible for good people to do what they most want to do: teach kids to have a life-long love of learning.

Posted by: cousin of devil's advocate | May 17, 2007 2:24 PM

It is the pay-we need to make teaching more of a priority and raise the pay-and decrease the pay of the administrators-and give the schools more autonomy if they need it. If there were higher pay, more people would do it.

Oh, and vouchers. Make the schools accountable. I can't thinkl of a better way (don't give me testing-we all know where the good schools are. Those are the ones with the higher housing prices-or just ask the parents. They know).

Posted by: atlmom | May 17, 2007 2:24 PM

Blog Stats: how often have we talked about teachers?

Posted by: worker bee | May 17, 2007 2:26 PM

I have never heard of anyone receiving a 20K signing bonus (or a signing bonus at all) for teaching in Massachusetts, even in the urban areas. And paying teachers "well" is relative when the cost of living is so high here. The starting salaries of a "good" suburban teacher is around 40K - which may be good compared with starting salaries of teachers in different parts of the country - but in nearly all communities families in which both parents are teachers, they're nearly fully priced out of the housing market unless they live in affordable housing.

Posted by: Curiosity | May 17, 2007 2:27 PM

Re: vouchers, so you would be ok with using tax money to send kids to Islamic/arabic schools? If you allow vouchers for Catholic/parochial schools, then that's just around the corner. Look at what's happening in Brooklyn.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 2:31 PM

in nearly all communities families in which both parents are teachers, they're nearly fully priced out of the housing market unless they live in affordable housing.

Posted by: Curiosity | May 17, 2007 02:27 PM

any family in which both parents are employed in jobs at the lower end of the spectrum could say the same, but they don't have the free time that teachers have or the 24/7 crackberry.

it's more than a bit circular to choose a profession for its "balance" and then whine about how you're not making sufficient money to live a lifestyle different than the one you chose. It's also difficult for those who are busting their a$$es to have a great deal of sympathy.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 2:32 PM

To: cousin of devil's advocate - I'm not sure where you are geographically that there's not a shortage of teachers in private schools, but in the part of Maryland in which I reside, most of them have a hard time finding and retaining good teachers. They address the situation by limiting student enrollment so that the student-teacher ratio stays at the desired level. I know for a fact that the private high school my son attends could easily grow by 200 students if they had enough qualified teachers - the buildings, classrooms, facilities, etc. already exist.

As I've noted many times (your cue, Blog Stats) several of my family members are/were public school teachers, and they've always noted only one advantage private schools have over public: the private schools don't have to tolerate disruptive students, or students with disruptive parents. At my son's school, a parent stormed in to scream at the principal over an "unfair grade" given to her son. The son was disenrolled from the school by the next morning. You can't do that at a public school.

Posted by: Army Brat | May 17, 2007 2:34 PM

In Maryland, there are shortages in certain content areas (math, science) certain specialties (reading specialist, special education), and certain geographic areas (primarily Baltimore City). Otherwise, the supply seems about equal to demand -- the number of burned-out teachers who leave the profession each year is about equal to the number of idealistic graduates who begin teaching.

However, I suspect that schools, like corporate America, may be doing more with less. I don't have the stats to prove or disprove my suspicion (and I also don't have the time to look right now).

Atlmom, I've also noticed the 'drive to certify' for everything. I wonder how much of this licensure testing is driven by ETS.

Another question for those of you required to take continuing courses to keep your jobs: how much do your employers pay for your continuing education? Is this another perk that has gone the way of the ham at Christmas?

Anon at 2:06:
Your point is...?

Posted by: educmom | May 17, 2007 2:35 PM

In this area, the school district needs to hire 1,600 teachers by the first day of school, which is the end of August.

As of last month, they'd received about 575 applications. They have a very aggressive recruitment program, they're not sitting around on their fannies waiting for teachers to apply.

This is a huge problem not only here, but around the country. Not sure how to fix it.

As to why private schools "never" suffer from teacher shortages, my first guess is that there are far fewer private schools to staff.

Anyone comparing the student population in a public school to that in a private school will notice a huge difference, largely in parental involvement and income. Most students in private school come from homes that value education and can affort to pay for it. If public school classrooms were only filled with that type of student, I'm sure both test scores and teacher-retention rates would skyrocket.

As it is, public schools must take all comers, deal with parents who don't care, don't have time, think book-learnin' is a crock of sh!t, whatever. It's a very different environment and I suspect many teachers would say that the public/private comparison is really apples/oranges.

Posted by: Vegas Mom | May 17, 2007 2:35 PM

The word "teacher" appears in 1392 posts on this blog.

BTW: The word "lawyer" appears in 1393 posts.

Posted by: Blog Stats | May 17, 2007 2:37 PM

Most intelligent people understand that the only thing we can prove, and sometimes not even that, is the identity of our mother.
______________

And that's even more true than before. Check out the Maryland Court of Special Appeals (the "Supreme Court" of the state) and their ruling approving the issuance of a birth certificate listing no mother.

Seems a man wanted to become a biological parent. He didn't have a female partner. So he found one woman to donate an egg. The egg was fertilized and implanted in a different woman, who agreed to be the "gestational carrier". The court ruled that the baby has a father (the sperm donor), but that neither of the women was the "mother". (For the record, the "gestational carrier" had been listed as the mother, but she didn't want to be - she had no genetic tie to the baby. Nor did the egg donor wish to be the "mother", so nobody is, official and done!)

Posted by: Army Brat | May 17, 2007 2:38 PM

Army Brat,

The ability to kick out disruptive students is key to running an institution that educates students, but don't leave out the other key: the ability and willingness to terminate incompetent or less competent teachers. I'm not surprised that your relatives identify the first advantage but not the second.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 2:38 PM

"As I've noted many times (your cue, Blog Stats) several of my family members are/were public school teachers, and they've always noted only one advantage private schools have over public: the private schools don't have to tolerate disruptive students, or students with disruptive parents. At my son's school, a parent stormed in to scream at the principal over an "unfair grade" given to her son. The son was disenrolled from the school by the next morning. You can't do that at a public school."

CLAP CLAP CLAP ***** EXACTLY. I suspect that's why many parents send their children to private schools, because it is more likely the children will be attending school with the offspring of parents who hold similar beliefs about education/discipline/etc.

Posted by: TO Army Brat | May 17, 2007 2:40 PM

"If there were higher pay, more people would do it"

Doesn't mean they would be GOOD teachers.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 2:44 PM

"If there were higher pay, more people would do it"

Doesn't mean they would be GOOD teachers.

Posted by: | May 17, 2007 02:44 PM
The hope would be retain and attract the teachers who would be good. Why does everyone assume if the child or the school is not performing it is automatically the teachers fault. Did it ever occur to some people that it might be the curriculum, the students, or gasp even the support the student receives at home?

Posted by: foamgnome | May 17, 2007 2:47 PM

To anon @ 2:38: I'm not aware of private schools terminating many incompetent or less competent teachers. There are a couple at my son's school I've advised him to avoid. But unless there's a replacement available, they generally dare not get rid of them. (In fairness, there are numerous teachers at his school who are fantastic; that and the 14:1 student:teacher ratio are why he's there.)

So I don't think that there's much of an advantage or disadvantage for public or private schools in that regard.

I'll grant that public school teachers tend to be more highly unionized than private school teachers from the little I've seen of it, so there tends to be more formal process required to dismiss a teacher. But I haven't seen much in the way of mass firings at private schools.

Posted by: Army Brat | May 17, 2007 2:49 PM

foamgnome

"Why does everyone assume if the child or the school is not performing it is automatically the teachers fault."

Cause most of my teachers were lousy or mediocre.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 2:52 PM

Foamgnome is right on target. Parental support is key, and many parents expect to drop their child off in Kindergarten and pick them up at HS graduation magically educated.

Real comment overheard at my DD's soccer practice last week -- "That school can't MAKE my children do ANY homework, and they can't penalize their grades if they don't do it. Public school is free, therefore my kids don't have to do anything outside the classroom."

Parents like this must make being a public school teacher a real joy!

Posted by: Vegas Mom | May 17, 2007 2:52 PM

Actually I wanted very much to be a teacher when I got out of high school but couldn't afford college. Nobody gave me a scholarship to go to college so I learned to type (for free) in high school and have been working behind a keyboard of some kind ever since.

For another thing, one of our English teachers pointed out that teaching in the upper class area of Westchester County, NY you had the smart*ss parents to deal with as well as the smart*ss students. In The Bronx, you only had to deal with the smart*ss kids.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 2:54 PM

"Parental support is key, and many parents expect to drop their child off in Kindergarten and pick them up at HS graduation magically educated."

That's what my parents did.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 2:54 PM

foamgnome

"Why does everyone assume if the child or the school is not performing it is automatically the teachers fault."

Cause most of my teachers were lousy or mediocre.

Posted by: | May 17, 2007 02:52 PM
Wow, maybe I am in the minority but most of my teachers were really pretty good. Some were stellar and some were less then appealing. But my weakest academic skill, writing, is not due to a lack of teaching ability. It was my sheer disinterest, lack of talent, and refusal to work on that area. To this day, I sort of regret it but I don't know how to change it. Fortunately I went into a field that I don't need a lot of writing skills. So I can compensate for my weakness. But I fully recognize it isn't because I had lousy teachers.

Posted by: foamgnome | May 17, 2007 2:56 PM

"Why does everyone assume if the child or the school is not performing it is automatically the teachers fault."

Cause most of my teachers were lousy or mediocre.

Posted by: | May 17, 2007 02:52 PM

Just because yours were, doesn't mean the rest are. There are a lot of dumb kids out there, too.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 2:56 PM

Sharon- clearly if you could do your work in 4 hours a week your employer would probably give you a pay cut or more work

Posted by: atlmom | May 17, 2007 01:51 PM

Atlmom, I think you know I'm not advocating a 4-hour work week. I'm just saying that if more companies would offer more flexible work schedules, we could have more free time to spend with our families and do the little things we need to do ... like picking up our kids from school at 3 pm instead of sending them to an aftercare program.

Posted by: Sharon | May 17, 2007 2:57 PM

Sharon

" I'm just saying that if more companies would offer more flexible work schedules, we could have more free time to spend with our families and do the little things we need to do ... like picking up our kids from school at 3 pm instead of sending them to an aftercare program."

There's a novel idea! Why didn't I think of that?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 3:00 PM

What do you guys think about the teachers who staged a mock virginia tech? The students were 11 and 12 year olds and they told them that there was a gunman lose. I forget where it happened.

I think it is horrible and they should all be fired, but that is just me.

Posted by: scarry | May 17, 2007 3:02 PM

I'll grant that public school teachers tend to be more highly unionized than private school teachers from the little I've seen of it, so there tends to be more formal process required to dismiss a teacher. But I haven't seen much in the way of mass firings at private schools.

Posted by: Army Brat | May 17, 2007 02:49 PM

"Mass firings"? That's not what we call it when we terminate the employment of someone who's not cutting it in my place of employment. We call it a single termination and it's the result of having high expectations and implementing them. Good managers make good personnel decisions based on performance and attitude. Doing so makes all of the performers feel as though there's a reason to perform.

Why does the mention of being able to cull the herd of the occasional person who should have chosen another profession generate a reference to "mass firings"?

Accountability goes in all directions: students, teachers, administrators, and parents. In the public system, there is accountability in no direction except for the EOG tests. In the private system, there is accountability at all levels. Interesting how many people only want to discuss parents, or only teachers, or only students, but few want to admit that there's always a fundamental difference in the production and culture of a market driven institution and a government-run institution. The teachers aren't The Problem, nor are the parents or the students. It's the inefficiencies and mediocrity built into the system.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 3:03 PM

"The starting salaries of a "good" suburban teacher is around 40K - which may be good compared with starting salaries of teachers in different parts of the country - but in nearly all communities families in which both parents are teachers, they're nearly fully priced out of the housing market unless they live in affordable housing"

OK. I'm tired of this argument. Not every teacher is married to another teacher. Also, the starting salaries may not be great, but they are starting salaries. There is usually a scale that increases with years of service. I don't know too many people who are buying a house their first year of work anywhere. So the teachers may have to budget differently, live with parents longer, rent longer or whatever. But so do people who work most hourly positions, retail workers, many blue collar workers, government employees, etc. And those other positions generally don't get the same benefits as teachers.

Posted by: spouting off | May 17, 2007 3:04 PM

scarry

"What do you guys think about the teachers who staged a mock virginia tech? The students were 11 and 12 year olds and they told them that there was a gunman lose. I forget where it happened."

What do you guys think about someone who posts gossip with incomplete details on the Net?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 3:07 PM

Actually I wanted very much to be a teacher when I got out of high school but couldn't afford college. Nobody gave me a scholarship to go to college so I learned to type (for free) in high school and have been working behind a keyboard of some kind ever since.

Didn't they have student loans when you graduated? How about part time or now?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 3:08 PM

Hey, Fonzie! Over here!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 3:09 PM

Scarry I agree with you. I thought that was a rather pointless and thoughtless exercise.

Posted by: MV | May 17, 2007 3:12 PM

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18645623/


Here you go gossip man.

Posted by: scarry | May 17, 2007 3:14 PM

Educmom, another nerve struck when I read what you said about schools doing more with less.

All of my teacher friends who have stayed with it spend a portion of their own salary to buy school supplies -- things like kleenex, reams of copier paper, crayons, calculators, etc. -- for use in the classroom. It makes me SICK. And forget it if you're an elementary teacher -- you basically spend your own money to decorate your classroom bulletin boards. I well remember getting my two pens from the school at the beginning of the school year and that would have to suffice until the end. What a joke.

Look, being a teacher is a hard job. It's a lifestyle choice, not a way to get rich. And yes, the parking lot is mostly cleared out 45 minutes after school is dismissed. But you know where the teachers are? If they're not coaching or leading extracurricular activities, they're at home correcting papers or working out grades, or creating sub plans or finding subs, or calling/emailing Johnnie's mom because of his failing performance. Most teachers I know work their a$$es off. And there are many who can't cut it and head for greener pastures after a year or two. Give teachers a break.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 17, 2007 3:14 PM

To spouting off - I actually agree with you, sorry, my post about the cost of living was in response to someone saying "of course" there wouldn't be a teaching shortage in Massachusetts because we pay teachers well and have a signing bonus (of which only one may be true). We may pay them "well" across state and industrial lines. As with all employment choices, people should be aware of what it pays and how that will impact their and their family's standard of living. I think, as with all things, you get what you pay for - you want better educated teachers that take their profession seriously (and to me that means not wearing jeans to school every day, not leaving at 3 pm the second after the bell rings, devising curricula that 'teach to the test' AND are broadly applicable), you should pay them more. So on the whole, I agree with you.

Posted by: Curiosity | May 17, 2007 3:20 PM

Sharon- you are definitely correct. Most employers don't want to give you a flexible schedule. It is to the detriment of the employers. My theory is that they don't like flexibility and part timers because then you may be less tied to your job and may not *need* them. Therefore, you could leave anytime and it seems they thrive on you fearing the loss of your job

As for teacher pay-if you paid them more then the school system would be able to choose which teachers they wanted rather than taking anyone who applies. I n that way, the best get the best jobs.

Posted by: atlmom | May 17, 2007 3:20 PM

Teachers, at best, work a 55 hour week even if we buy the claims of work at home, on weekends, through the night, during hurricanes, etc. They have 9 - 12 weeks off per year depending on whether they work summer school or take on coaching responsibilities.

If you want to say they work hard for the money, I agree. If your claim is that they work SOOOOOOO much harder than everyone else and are plum exhausted and require that nine to twelve weeks just to recover from their 55 hour per week jobs, gimmeabreak.

Posted by: | May 17, 2007 12:41 PM

It's a lifestyle choice, not a way to get rich. And yes, the parking lot is mostly cleared out 45 minutes after school is dismissed. But you know where the teachers are? If they're not coaching or leading extracurricular activities, they're at home correcting papers or working out grades, or creating sub plans or finding subs, or calling/emailing Johnnie's mom because of his failing performance. Most teachers I know work their a$$es off. And there are many who can't cut it and head for greener pastures after a year or two. Give teachers a break.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 17, 2007 03:14 PM

There's a disconnect here somewhere. When you say in one sentence that "It's a lifestyle choice" and then follow up with "the teachers I know work their a$$es off", I'm either left with the impression that teachers are entering the profession without being aware of its demands (never a wise move) or it's a lifestyle choice and they're not working their a$$es off.


Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 3:20 PM

Anon at 3:03, what's your point?

Okay, in a prior post I used the term "mass firings" in a somewhat flippant tone. The point I was trying to make was that, in my observations/experiences, private schools don't get rid of incompetent teachers any more often or quicker than do public schools.

You seem to believe otherwise, and you seem to be asserting that it's because private schools operate in a "market-driven" environment rather than a "government run" environment? Have I correctly understood that this is your main point?

If so, you don't provide any evidence to back it up. No data, no nothing - just your assertion that "market-driven" is better than "government-run".

You also miss the point that many private schools are not "market-driven". Something like one quarter of all private schools are Catholic, and they would shudder at the thought of being "market-driven" - they believe that they're driven by a need to provide an education based in the Catholic faith.

A number of other private schools are based in other religions, and I suspect they also do not believe that they're "market-driven".

So the only possible "market-driven" private schools would be those secular private schools that are really out to capture some number of desirable students and will hire and fire teachers as necessary to get them. I'll grant you that there may in fact be a small number of such schools, but I don't think there are many and I'd be surprised if they're as efficient as you seem to assert.

If I've misunderstood your post, and your main point was something else, than please enlighten me because I don't get it.

Posted by: Army Brat | May 17, 2007 3:25 PM

Regarding school supplies and shortages -
I don't think the schools my children attend lack any needed supplies. PTA and/or parents usually fill in any gaps. There are actually backpack and supply drives which are held to collect these items for poorer children/schools. However, they will only take new items.

We have indulged our children with new backpacks and supplies each year and now have several gently used backpacks, half-used crayons and colored pencils, and other miscellaneous craft supplies. We would be more than happy to donate these items, but all the collections specify new only. Why is that? I would think that there would be many children/schools who would be happy with our excess materials.

Posted by: just wondering | May 17, 2007 3:25 PM

What do you guys think about someone who posts gossip with incomplete details on the Net?

A blogger with a bad memory, but good search skills? Do you know another word besides gossip for when you don't agree with someone?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 3:29 PM

I will try to simplify: it is a lifestyle choice in that you get to do something you love BUT for crappy pay and you have to work hard at it. Most of the time, people who don't love the job leave it. It's not a haven for slackers -- God knows, the kids will see you for what you are and call you on it if that's the case.

$40k to start happens in Urban areas where the cost of living is higher. In my area, Raleigh NC -- the starting salary is $32K. Yes, you go up the pay scale, but the scale tops out at $70K for a teacher with a Masters + 30 years. THIRTY YEARS. Six years after I left teaching, seven years after I left college, I was making $92,000. See the difference?

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 17, 2007 3:30 PM

just wondering, why don't you just stop buying new backpacks and supplies each year? If the old backpacks still work, save the money -- or donate to a cause the kids care for?

Posted by: Jen S. | May 17, 2007 3:31 PM

Regarding the Virginia Tech drill... I don't know. It seems like a bad idea and the teachers should have approved it before the drill, but how is this different from fire drills, the earthquake drills I did as a kid in earthquake country, or the (totally useless) nuclear drills people a bit older than me did? Is it because the threat is more immediate? Is there any value in rehearsing how to react if there's a gunman on the loose? Fires don't often happen either.

Personally, in most offices I've worked in it's easier to get work done at home than in the office. At home, no one's chattering about last night's TV show. But I wouldn't try to get my job to four hours a week unless my main goal was to work as little as possible, instead of making as much money in as interesting a way as possible.

Posted by: Clever moniker | May 17, 2007 3:33 PM

workingmomX what did you get into after teaching? I am just wondering.

Posted by: scarry | May 17, 2007 3:33 PM

"Most of the time, people who don't love the job leave it."

Even after they get tenure?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 3:33 PM

Scarry -- I'm in Training and HR now. I still get to teach, sort of. Just different stuff. My pupils aren't nearly as much fun. :)

To anon at 3:33, There's no way someone who doesn't love teaching will last long enough to get tenure. Unless they're sadists.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 17, 2007 3:35 PM

Sadly, I do think a lot of companies want us to live in "fear for our jobs" and we do. It's not a fun way to go through life.

And for this person who is obviously afraid to reveal their name:
There's a novel idea! Why didn't I think of that?


Posted by: | May 17, 2007 03:00 PM


Do you go home and hurl insults and jerky remarks at your family or do you just reserve those types of comments for this blog?

Posted by: Sharon | May 17, 2007 3:36 PM

Clever Moniker I think that if they wanted to do a drill like that, they should have asked the parents and told the children.

At least with fire and tornado you have a set of rules to follow and a place to go that is deemed as safe as it can be. I think it was poor judgement.

Posted by: scarry | May 17, 2007 3:36 PM

Well, gee. I've been working for the government for 30 years and make $82K. Without the summers off, or the day after Thanksgiving, or Xmas eve, or the week between Xmas and New Year. Me $82K = 12 x $6800/month - teacher = 10 x $7000/month.

Teacher pay might look bad from your perspective, but it looks pretty good from mine.

Posted by: It's all relative | May 17, 2007 3:36 PM

Army Brat, I am not sure how you could miss my various points, but to your unusual interpretation of "market driven", Catholic families and parents are a group of consumers and private education is a consumable product, like any other. If Catholic families don't like the product being offered at a particular Catholic school, they either will go elsewhere or will simply refuse to purchase it. I am a bit mystified that you don't see that private education is a marketplace in which providers of different products compete for customers who might want to purchase those products, some of which are secular and some are not. Some of those potential consumers are motivated by religious faith and instruction. Others are motivated by security and safety concerns. Still others are motivated by test scores and college acceptance rates.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 3:36 PM

3:08 -- There probably were student loans but we were very poor to begin with and my parents weren't about to borrow money for it. I would have had to live on campus (more expensive) and my parents weren't about to pay the fee (I think it was $10 at the time) for me to take the college entrance exam and drive me all the way to College Park to do it. I didn't have a drivers license, either. I opted to learn typing and left home as soon as I could to work for the Government.

Now with retirement in sight, I could get a degree and go into it part-time or find some other way to fulfill my dreams, maybe even as a teacher's assistant. Or go into health care. I either wanted to be a teacher or nurse.

Posted by: 2:54 | May 17, 2007 3:40 PM

"just wondering, why don't you just stop buying new backpacks and supplies each year? If the old backpacks still work, save the money -- or donate to a cause the kids care for?

Posted by: Jen S. | May 17, 2007 03:31 PM"

We buy them, admittedly, because this is one area we indulge our children. Sometimes they want a new one because of the design and sometimes because they have more to carry - quite a difference between what a kindergartner and a 3rd grader carry. As far as colored pencils and crayons, we don't always have a complete set at the end of the year and the school supply list specifies certain things.

My question wasn't about our spending habits, it was about why there is no way to donate these things when they could be used in places where they are needed.

Posted by: just wondering | May 17, 2007 3:41 PM

"it is a lifestyle choice in that you get to do something you love BUT for crappy pay and you have to work hard at it."

How is this a lifestyle choice? It sounds like any other decision to take a low-paying, intense job, e.g., social worker, prison guard.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 3:42 PM

"Do you go home and hurl insults and jerky remarks at your family or do you just reserve those types of comments for this blog?"

I reserve insults and jerky remarks for nitwits on this blog.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 3:43 PM

Just wondering: Make your kids use the same backpacks and crayons every year. Or donate them to a shelter for battered women. Most of those women come equipped with a couple kids, anyway.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 3:45 PM

"Well, gee. I've been working for the government for 30 years and make $82K. Without the summers off, or the day after Thanksgiving, or Xmas eve, or the week between Xmas and New Year. Me $82K = 12 x $6800/month - teacher = 10 x $7000/month.
Teacher pay might look bad from your perspective, but it looks pretty good from mine."

Are you kidding? If you have been working for the government that long, you get 8 hours of leave every pay period, which adds up to 5 weeks a year, plus all the federal holidays. Which isn't bad. And you can sit at your desk and blog. As a teacher, you would have to be "on" almost all the time. I teach a class as a volunteer for my son's school, and believe me, in that one hour a week, I work my butt off. I would be exhausted if I had to do that all day every day. My government job is a breeze in comparison.

Posted by: Emily | May 17, 2007 3:46 PM

"Make your kids use the same backpacks and crayons every year."

Do you carry the same purse/briefcase every year? Someone is looking to do something nice with excess, not looking to change what they are giving their children.

Posted by: huh? | May 17, 2007 3:48 PM

I certainly don't buy a new backpack every year. My son has had the same one for two years now. We wash it so that it looks presentable, and he will use it until it becomes unusable.

Posted by: Emily | May 17, 2007 3:50 PM

"How is this a lifestyle choice? It sounds like any other decision to take a low-paying, intense job, e.g., social worker, prison guard."

It's a lifestyle choice for many because you get to be with your kids when they're on vacation from school. And the people who work in schools are generally speaking very GOOD people. Teachers get divorced less, too. They're happier people.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 17, 2007 3:52 PM

"Do you carry the same purse/briefcase every year?"

Briefcase is 20 years old
Purse is 10 years old

Oh, and no $300 shoes

Let's face it. Most of the mothers on this blog are conspicuous consumers and teaching their kids to be the same.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 3:53 PM

Prison guard is pretty well paid from what I understand. My non college educated cousin is thrilled with his pay and benefits.

Posted by: atlmom | May 17, 2007 3:55 PM

I may get annual leave, but I can't use it whenever I want. There is a required amount of coverage in the office which precludes getting off days around holidays unless it is your turn. And my five weeks of annual leave are used for everything - leaving even 15 minutes early is charged to leave. So, car repairs, repairmen coming to the house, kids report card conferences are all taking from that 5 weeks. Even if I used none for anything but vacation, we are denied the use of more than 2 consecutive weeks based on "workload demands".

I also never said teaching was easy. I just don't think that, overall, being a teacher is as bad as some make it out to be. I'm not saying I have it bad, I'm commenting mainly on the fact that someone insists teachers pay is lousy. It's all relative.

Plus, teachers don't have to pay day care for the summer months - big $$ benefit.

Posted by: to Emily | May 17, 2007 3:55 PM

"And the people who work in schools are generally speaking very GOOD people. "

There's a scientific statistic for ya!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 3:56 PM

"Make your kids use the same backpacks and crayons every year."

Do you have kids? Crayons don't make it through a school year. Neither do pencils or paper or erasers. Unlike a backpack, these are consumables.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 3:56 PM

Yes, I do carry the same purse every year. I have a very basic black bag with zippered compartments to hold everything I need. I'm very picky about the practicality of my purse and when I find a good one, I hold onto it. I also wore the same winter coat for about 9 years until the lining wore out. With good maitenance and cleaning good stuff can last a long time. "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without."

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 3:57 PM

Never said it was a scientific statistic. I would have thought you'd realize it was anectodal . . .

Have a great day, everyone! See you tomorrow.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 17, 2007 3:58 PM

"Let's face it. Most of the mothers on this blog are conspicuous consumers and teaching their kids to be the same."

HAHAHAHAHA - admit you indulge your children with anything at all and that makes you a conspicious consumer.

Posted by: just wondering | May 17, 2007 4:00 PM

The teachers in my school district have incredible benefits. They pay nothing for LIFETIME health benefits which include:

boob jobs
nose jobs
facelifts
liposuction

A lot of them look better when they retire than when they started teaching!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 4:02 PM

"Just wondering: Make your kids use the same backpacks and crayons every year. Or donate them to a shelter for battered women. Most of those women come equipped with a couple kids, anyway."

Oh the tyranny of doing good. We buy new ones every year . Big deal. These people need to get a life.

Posted by: pATRICK | May 17, 2007 4:06 PM

hey pATRICK,

I actually thought some (ex)teachers might give some insight. Is it better to offer to a teacher who could maybe spend less of their own money to supply the classroom?

Posted by: just wondering | May 17, 2007 4:10 PM

Anon at 3:36/3:03 - Okay, so I got your point. But in a very similar sense, families with children in public schools are also "consumers" and public education is also a "consumable product." Don't believe me? Check out the real estate listings. Notice how many times a "desirable school district" is listed as a selling point - either an entire county/district or a particular set of schools.

Here's an example - when DW and I got married, we lived in Prince George's County. It was an easy commute (DW could ride MARC downtown) and it was cheap compared to other counties.

When our kids got to be close to school age, we moved to Howard County. Why? For the schools - we simply weren't going to "consume" the product that the PG school system was going to provide. We made a conscious decision to move to a different county for the public schools.

Within Howard County, the Centennial High School district is often considered the most desirable, and it abuts on one side the Wilde Lake High School district which is considered one of the two or three least desirable. How many parents consciously choose to buy on the side of the street that's in Centennial's district exactly for the schools? How many parents threatened to try to sue the county several years back when they redistricted due to overcrowding and moved several blocks of houses from Centennial to Wilde Lake?

In how many other counties/jurisdictions does this occur?

My point being that people - parents of school-age children or parents who plan to have them - can also make conscious decisions about what schools to attend and even about in which county to pay taxes. That is they have the same market-based option to consume different services as do the Catholic families you mention.

(And before you assert that it's not the same thing - most Catholic elementary schools are associated with a particular parish, and kids from that parish get preference going there. Transferring your children to a different Catholic elementary school generally means that you have to switch parishes - and trust me, that can be as traumatic to a family as moving into the next public school district.)

So I believe that your point about private schools being purely "market-driven" and thus different from/better than the "government-run" public schools is bogus.

Posted by: Army Brat | May 17, 2007 4:11 PM

To everyone who has expressed support for teachers today:
THANK YOU!!! Group hug!
To those who don't have strong opinions, or who are curious and open-minded:
THANK YOU for thinking, asking, and advancing the discussion.
To those of you who were critical, but had valid (if refutable) arguments:
THANK YOU for expressing unpopular opinions in a civilized way.
To the anonymous trolls who need someone to bash and chose teachers today:
THANK YOU for reminding me why I need summers off...

Posted by: educmom | May 17, 2007 4:14 PM

I actually moved out of the Centennial district to the Wilde Lake District. It was amazing what people were willing to pay for our little house just because of Centennial school. As a parent with a child in each, I would say that it depends on the child. I don't believe CHS turns out the superstars - they are that way before they are freshmen. The main difference I see is in the number of AP courses offered. CHS has more AP calculus than Wilde Lake because they have more students at that level, but it is the same curriculum. As a parent, if you have the same committment to education, your child will do as well in either school.

Posted by: to Army Brat | May 17, 2007 4:17 PM

Army Brat - Wilde Lake is undesirable? Say it isn't so! I was at Wilde Lake high in 1972 and 1973 before moving over to Oakland Mills. It was creme de la creme then. Ahhh...the passage of time.

I still have my Green and Gold pom poms!

Posted by: dotted | May 17, 2007 4:19 PM

educmom

"THANK YOU for reminding me why I need summers off..."

and get to play martyr the rest of the year!

Posted by: gutless coward | May 17, 2007 4:21 PM

educmom: You're welcomed. I would never bash a teacher. I liked the majority of the ones I had in public schools. Especially some of the elementary teachers -- saints on earth, but we were a very different generation and had respect for teachers. In fact we feared them. My third-grade teacher gave me a pair of gloves. I guess she thought we couldn't afford them. Some high school teachers were quite paternal and well loved. One gets invited to lots of class reunions.

Thank a teacher today. They have to deal with YOUR KIDS.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 4:22 PM

to: to Army Brat: FWIW, my kids don't go to Centennial; for a variety of reasons I didn't want to live in that district. We have three kids in public schools (in twelve days it'll be two - sniff, sniff) and one in private school. We love the public schools we're at - great schools, great teachers. Okay, facilities need some work, but...

But you reinforced my point, I think - how much extra people were willing to pay for your old house because of the school district in which it lay. That's a "consumer" willing to pay extra for a specific product (a CHS education), and thus the public school is the same as the "market-driven" private school.

Posted by: Army Brat | May 17, 2007 4:22 PM

My family has worked in private secular schools for a long time (my dad as a teacher and administrator and my mom in PR/publications and alumni relations). There are a lot of them and there is a lot of competition for students. But, it's true that it's not one big market. Day schools in a particular area will compete against each other, boarding schools compete nationally and even internationally to draw in students, and may also compete against the day schools in the area.

I don't know anything about how Catholic schools work, but I think many if not most secular private schools, although they may be centered around a particular educational approach or philosophy, are very market driven and very conscious of their markets. But, that doesn't mean they are all good or all better than public schools.

Posted by: Megan | May 17, 2007 4:26 PM

WorkingMomX
"Never said it was a scientific statistic. I would have thought you'd realize it was anectodal . . ."


Therefore, a worthless opinion.

Can you spell anecdotal?

Are you really a teacher?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 4:27 PM

That's a "consumer" willing to pay extra for a specific product (a CHS education), and thus the public school is the same as the "market-driven" private school.

Posted by: Army Brat | May 17, 2007 04:22 PM

While this may be true, there really is no mechanism for the "consumers" choice to affect the "product".

There are also many regulations and requirements that come from places other than the market; federal mandates and teacher union requirements come to mind.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 4:30 PM

I know where your kids go to school. Some years before we moved, our neighborhood was districted to MtH but was changed to CHS through one of the redistricting processes. Ugly !!! MtH wanted to get rid of us so they could keep turf valley but CHS didn't want us because we would "bring down their test scores". So, most of the kids my kids went to elem school with have gone thru or are now at MtH (SJL elem).

So, we didn't actually move to H county to get into a particular school. We already lived there before we had kids because it is a great place to live and convenient to work. Neither of us work in DC.

Posted by: to Army Brat | May 17, 2007 4:30 PM

I never knew Centennial was supposed to be so cool. Ah man. I went to Mt. Hebron. Yay class of 1990.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 4:33 PM

4:02:
What school system pays for plastic surgery?!?! You gotta be kidding, right??

Posted by: educmom | May 17, 2007 4:35 PM

educmom,

looking for a transfer? LOL

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 4:36 PM

"hey pATRICK,

I actually thought some (ex)teachers might give some insight. Is it better to offer to a teacher who could maybe spend less of their own money to supply the classroom? "

Sorry I don't get your post. My comment was addressed to those nitwits who try to make every issue into save the earth, fight consumerism blah blah blah fight.

Posted by: pATRICK | May 17, 2007 4:37 PM

educmom

"4:02:
What school system pays for plastic surgery?!?! You gotta be kidding, right??"

Are you a teacher?
Look it up?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 4:38 PM

Plus, teachers don't have to pay day care for the summer months - big $$ benefit.


what???? i don't know many day care providers that will hold your spot for the summer. most of them you pay for the spot even if you child is not there.

Posted by: quark | May 17, 2007 4:39 PM

I thought I was done with this board today, but couldn't resist one more peek . .

Well, yes, Anonymous troll at 4:27, I can spell anecdotal. And I should thank a teacher because of it. I'm to blame for my own typing problems, though.

My opinion is worth a bloody fortune, actually -- to me, anyway, and to those who pay me to talk about my opinions or make decisions based on them. But thanks for the laugh!

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 17, 2007 4:40 PM

My comment was addressed to those nitwits who try to make every issue into save the earth, fight consumerism blah blah blah fight.

very christian of you to laugh at people wanting to donate to needy people

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 4:41 PM

Plus, teachers don't have to pay day care for the summer months - big $$ benefit.


what???? i don't know many day care providers that will hold your spot for the summer. most of them you pay for the spot even if you child is not there.

Posted by: quark | May 17, 2007 04:39 PM

True enough when the kids aren't in school. But once they're school age, teachers wouldn't have to be too worried about scheduling their kids for daycamps all summer.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 4:44 PM

anon at 4:27:
I think that WMX made what is commonly referred to as a typo, or typographical error.
Tese temd to happen when the figners movbe slowr tham the brain

OK, the students have serious spring fever, and I think it rubbed off today...

I'm going to go walk my dog before it rains.

Hey, since tomorrow's Friday, maybe we can talk about spa treatments!

Posted by: educmom | May 17, 2007 4:45 PM

Plus, teachers don't have to pay day care for the summer months - big $$ benefit.


what???? i don't know many day care providers that will hold your spot for the summer. most of them you pay for the spot even if you child is not there


There are some home day care providers who love teachers children. The providers have school age children of their own who are home in the summer, so the provider is happy to have fewer customers to keep the total number of children (counting their own) manageable.

When the teachers children are school-age, they don't need after-school or summer camp. There is a difference between summer camp for your child because you want to provide enrichment and summer camp because you need reliable care all summer long.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 4:46 PM

"My comment was addressed to those nitwits who try to make every issue into save the earth, fight consumerism blah blah blah fight.

very christian of you to laugh at people wanting to donate to needy people"

Not laughing, making a point. I give to my church to help needy people, I don't give to the guy in traffic. Not very christian by your standards I guess. I am all for donating, I am not for guilt trips and people who try to force people to do things for their own agendas.

Posted by: pATRICK | May 17, 2007 4:47 PM

anon at 4:36:
You bet!! LOL

Posted by: educmom | May 17, 2007 4:47 PM

"When the teachers children are school-age, they don't need after-school or summer camp"

Unless the parents doesn't work at the school the kids attend.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 4:48 PM

My comment was addressed to those nitwits who try to make every issue into save the earth, fight consumerism blah blah blah fight.

very christian of you to laugh at people wanting to donate to needy people

Posted by: | May 17, 2007 04:41 PM

oh, look! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's the one-note anonymous coward who comes out to play at 4 p.m. every day to bash all Christians based on one comment with which she doesn't agree from a single person she labels Christian.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 4:51 PM

Some school systems do have very good medical coverage but I don't think this includes plastic surgery. It would depend on the insurance carrier, not the school system anyway. My mother retired from a school system and continued her medical coverage with the same carrier. It has gotten her through cancer, broken hip, pneumonia, and various other problems in her frail elderly years.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 4:52 PM

I give to my church to help needy people, I don't give to the guy in traffic. Not very christian by your standards I guess. I am all for donating, I am not for guilt trips and people who try to force people to do things for their own agendas.

just wondering asked for suggestions about where to donate. someone gave one and you bashed them for it. nope, not very christian by my standards. talk about forcing an agenda.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 4:52 PM

When the teachers children are school-age, they don't need after-school or summer camp"

Unless the parents doesn't work at the school the kids attend.

Posted by: | May 17, 2007 04:48 PM

They'd probably still need much less summer care.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 4:53 PM

"just wondering asked for suggestions about where to donate. someone gave one and you bashed them for it. nope, not very christian by my standards. talk about forcing an agenda. "

Someone said they were looking for "insight"

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 4:55 PM

". . . several of my family members are/were public school teachers, and they've always noted only one advantage private schools have over public: the private schools don't have to tolerate disruptive students, or students with disruptive parents."

Posted by: Army Brat | May 17, 2007 02:34 PM

The New York State constitution, as interpreted by the State's highest court, the Court of Appeals, guarantees students the right to the opportunity for a "sound basic education" (Levittown v. Nyquist, 439 N.E.2d 359, 1982). Many other State constitutions also require the establishment of public schools that will afford every student the right to a free and effective education.

However, your child's right to a sound basic education is worthless if my child has a "right" to disrupt the classroom so that the teacher cannot teach your child. I am the product of urban public schools, taught by excellent (and yes, unionized) teachers who taught me and my brother so well that we were able to gain admission to top colleges in Canada and the United States. But that's because when we went to school, no child had the "right" to disrupt other children's education. Persistently disruptive children were removed from the general public schools and educated in special schools whose numbers began with "P. S. 601."

It is pitiful that so many financially strapped families have to scrimp and save to send their children to private or parochial schools solely in order to be able to learn in classrooms free from disruption. But as long as the Legislative, Executive and Judicial branches of the Federal government continue to grant a few children the "right" to disrupt other children's education, we can at least support voucher programs to help these families out.

"Re: vouchers, so you would be ok with using tax money to send kids to Islamic/arabic schools? If you allow vouchers for Catholic/parochial schools, then that's just around the corner. Look at what's happening in Brooklyn."

Posted by: | May 17, 2007 02:31 PM

In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, opposition to State support of parochial schools had its roots mainly in ugly anti-Catholic prejudice. In the twenty-first century, when anti-Moslem prejudice has replaced anti-Catholic prejudice among the masses, we hear the argument that vouchers would enable parents to send their children to Islamic schools where they would supposedly learn that Jews and Christians are the descendants of pigs and apes. To my mind, if my tax money is presently going to support evolutionist schools where Jewish and Christian children are taught that they are all descended from apes, it may as well go to support parents who send their children to Islamic schools.

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | May 17, 2007 4:56 PM

just wondering-- thanks for explaining. I think the idea to give worn down crayons to teachers directly sounds like it could work-- alternatively, I like to melt them down in disposable dixie cups in a low heat oven. My son loves the ones where I've placed several different colors together so that the crayons have a marbled effect.

Yes, we are a very thrifty family! That's how I was brought up, how my husband was brought up, so doing things like buying new backpack every year is just a foreign idea to us-- and we are new parents! anyway, thanks for explaining.

Posted by: Jen s. | May 17, 2007 4:58 PM

My point being that people - parents of school-age children or parents who plan to have them - can also make conscious decisions about what schools to attend and even about in which county to pay taxes. That is they have the same market-based option to consume different services as do the Catholic families you mention.

Posted by: Army Brat | May 17, 2007 04:11 PM

I leave for half a day and come back to the blog to find the same off-topic issue on the table we were discussing this morning. Army Brat, I must respectively tell you that I am laughing very hard as I read this comment of yours.

I cannot, by purchasing a certain home in a certain neighborhood, make any conscious decision about which public schools my children attend. They are being reassigned every two years. Our magnet applications (choices 1, 2, and 3, mind you) have been rejected in consecutive years. We bought our house, in part, because it was the only one we could afford that would get us into a marginally decent school, but that school is no longer the school to which we are assigned. Moving's not an answer because all of the neighborhoods in which we can afford to live are subject to the same reassignment pace. Sure, I can pick the county in which I pay taxes, but that is ten steps removed from picking THIS house because my children will go to THIS school which has THIS track record and suits THIS child.

If I select a private school, and if my application is accepted, my kids are in, and I'm the consumer. I'm not saying the education is better, but I agree that the responsiveness rate is higher -- as a matter of economic survival -- for all of the interested parties: teachers, parents and students.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | May 17, 2007 5:11 PM

pATRICK this is what I wrote :

just wondering, why don't you just stop buying new backpacks and supplies each year? If the old backpacks still work, save the money -- or donate to a cause the kids care for?


if a comment like that strikes you as a "guilt trip"-- and that merely asking the questions constutes trying "to force people to do things" for my own "agenda" it seems I really struck a nerve! Or are you referring to something else?

Posted by: Jen S. | May 17, 2007 5:14 PM

Hey Jen S. - at what temp do you melt the crayons? I can foresee this being a very useful little tip in the near future. Do the remelted crayons just pop out of the dixie cups?

Posted by: Megan | May 17, 2007 5:17 PM

"Most of the mothers on this blog are conspicuous consumers and teaching their kids to be the same."

Over-generalize much?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 5:28 PM

I don't recall the exact temp-- it's REALLY low-- like 175 or 200 and check constantly. It's a fun little project. I did spray the cups with Pam(ish) first, but it may not have been necessary.

Another fun thing-- when I was a kid I'd use an old cheese grater and grate the crayons down and then made "stained glass windows" by placing the flecks on wax paper (I think) in a suitably "artistic" arragement, and placing in low heat oven. I was old enough at that age to watch the crayon flecks melt and took them out right then I thought my art was complete! Grandma loved that "stained glass" window!

Posted by: Jen S. | May 17, 2007 5:29 PM

MN,
Move to Chapel Hill in a walk zone. You will never get moved out of that school. At the risk of identifying exactly where I live, the entire neighborhood walks. But be prepared for a tremendous tax increase over Wake County.
I agree on private schools being more responsive. Though we picked this town because I was sick of paying for private schools and property taxes are tax deductable.
I don't believe the legislature had what is now happening in Wake county in mind when they passed that bill mandating school start and stop dates...all for the OBX people.

Posted by: dotted | May 17, 2007 5:32 PM

Another option-- use cupcake liners. I believe they are already waxy so the blob should come out without further "Pamming" required. And it would have that nice "ruffly" edging to give the child better grip/ tactile response.

Posted by: Jen s. | May 17, 2007 5:32 PM

dotted, I would love to, but cannot touch Chapel Hill prices. Our biggest aspiration at the moment is to move to Apex somewhere within a walk of the downtown area, but, no disrespect to Meesh, when Apex is your highest aspiration, you gotta love your options, LOL. Hey, at least we're in close, close walking distance of Bond Park, and we love it.

Posted by: MN | May 17, 2007 5:36 PM

Jen S. - thanks for the suggestions!

MN and Dotted - what's the deal with the schools there? Why all the reassignments? That sounds totally nuts!

Posted by: Megan | May 17, 2007 5:44 PM

Megan -- My guess is growth. This happens out here a lot too. Especially if you have purchased a home in a high-growth area, the school you are zoned for will quickly become overcrowded. So, the district builds a new school and rezones.

My daughter will be attending a different school starting next year. We haven't moved, but the school she had been zoned for is incredibly crowded. With the new school, the district re-zoned. We anticipated being assigned to the new school because it was built just a few blocks from our house. Current school is 2 miles from our house.

Sometimes the rezoning happens because growth doesn't usually happen "evenly." So, the district will have a school with a lot of space and another school that's overcrowded. So, they will rezone to even things out.

It can be stressful, but in areas like Vegas and Raleigh, you have to understand that when you purchase a home, you are NOT necessarily purchasing a school as well. this rezoning has been going on here for years, so you need to learn to expect it.

I know the school board here has a policy of not rezoning the same area in consecutive years (and it may be 3 years) in order to provide at least a modicum of stability. I sympathize with them. They have a tough job to do and no matter what they decide, they end up with a group of parents with flaming torches and pitchforks at their next meeting. Sucks.

Posted by: Vegas Mom | May 17, 2007 5:54 PM

Vegas Mom, thanks. Where I went to school was definitely not a high growth area so we never had to deal with any of that - I guess we'll have to see what happens when my son reaches school age.

I can see what you mean about sympathizing with the school board, that sounds like a tough situation.

Posted by: Megan | May 17, 2007 6:06 PM

Megan -

Chapel Hill doesn't do reassignments like Wake does. CH is a controlled growth area. CH won't reassign someone twice within 3 years, 5th, 8th and 11th are grandfathered in. Granted Wake grows EACH YEAR by the total size of CH...well almost. CH's property taxes are probably 2x of Wake. We live in a walk zone. We will never be reassigned. Wake reassigned even in walk zones: that is what gets me riled.

Posted by: dotted | May 17, 2007 6:54 PM

Dotted --

Vegas is the poster child for UNcontrolled growth, LOL. It's a difficult monster to control and no solution seems right. Cost of living out here has increased so much the last few years we've had a really hard time recruiting teachers. A teacher can't even afford rent out here on a starting salary (about $30K, I think) anymore. Once-upon-a-time, a starting teacher could buy a starter home or condo because housing was so affordable.

Of course, stopping or reigning in the growth drives up housing prices even more. We're looking at average home prices here of $300K with uncontrolled growth. I can't imagine what would happen if they decided to put their finger in the dike now. If DH and I were shopping for a house today, we couldn't afford the one we're living in presently. Plus, how do you attract teachers (and nurses, which are also in short supply) when they can't affort a place to live in the community where they teach?

It's a thorny problem and I'm glad I'm not in charge of solving it! Of course, no one else wants to solve it either, so we're muddling through piecemeal.

Posted by: Vegas Mom | May 17, 2007 7:15 PM

Hey Vegas!
I don't know many people who could afford the home they currently live in! It is a running joke in this neighborhood. Holding growth down increases house prices (the old supply/demand curve in action) too. I guess I'm for planned growth: a neo-urban traditional kind of city, but that's just me.

Posted by: dotted | May 17, 2007 7:21 PM

Dotted --

I agree with you on the planned growth, walkable communities, etc. And I really like the new-urban traditional communities I've seen in other communities. The concept is finally making its way to LV, but it's happening in small pockets and is strictly for the very well-to-do at the moment.

Posted by: Vegas Mom | May 17, 2007 7:45 PM

I promise this is my last rant on the topic - for today, LOL - but there are two additional issues with reassignments in Wake County, in addition to points dotted has made. First, they do not value keeping kids in a neighborhood, heck, even on a block together. There's a lot of silliness where kids one on side of a 10 house street are assigned to one elementary school, and kids on the other side of the 10 house street are assigned to a different school. If one of your concepts of neighborhood is that we all support and attend the same school, forget it. The second is that Wake has been a leader in using economic status as a proxy for diversity rather than race. I support this policy wholeheartedly, but any time a school system values diversity, by whatever method, it drives additional reassignments - in Wake, it seeks to have no more than 40% of any student body qualifying for free lunches. Accordingly, ever time there is a reassignment to relieve crowding, a corresponding and subsequent reassignment generally takes place in order to restore the 40% maximum, if it has been impacted by the prior shuffle.

Posted by: MN | May 17, 2007 9:44 PM

I promise this is my last rant on the topic - for today, LOL - but there are two additional issues with reassignments in Wake County, in addition to points dotted has made. First, they do not value keeping kids in a neighborhood, heck, even on a block together. There's a lot of silliness where kids one on side of a 10 house street are assigned to one elementary school, and kids on the other side of the 10 house street are assigned to a different school. If one of your concepts of neighborhood is that we all support and attend the same school, forget it. The second is that Wake has been a leader in using economic status as a proxy for diversity rather than race. I support this policy wholeheartedly, but any time a school system values diversity, by whatever method, it drives additional reassignments - in Wake, it seeks to have no more than 40% of any student body qualifying for free lunches. Accordingly, ever time there is a reassignment to relieve crowding, a corresponding and subsequent reassignment generally takes place in order to restore the 40% maximum, if it has been impacted by the prior shuffle.

Posted by: MN | May 17, 2007 9:44 PM

"Briefcase is 20 years old
Purse is 10 years old

Oh, and no $300 shoes."

The Girls are probably 65 years old, and encased in a 15 year old support garment.

I'm sure your husband is turned on by those Payless Naturalizer knock-offs.


Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 10:35 PM

MN -- You raise some valid points and I'm surprised they are carving up neighborhoods that way. I think that was a problem here at the beginning, but they've learned to do a better job and keep neighborhoods together, so we don't see much of that anymore.

I'm not sure that diversity (economic or otherwise) plays a role in zoning decisions out here. It seems mostly driven by geography to me, but it's entirely possible I'm missing something. That would certainly make the whole process even more challenging and I can see that it could lead to the problems you describe.

As dotted mentioned re: CH, LV grandfathers 11th graders when there is a rezoning at the HS level. Don't know about the 5th and 7th graders though for their corresponding schools. We do rezone walkers, but the "walk zone" is big here for elementary school students -- 2 miles. DD is technically a walker, but we are right on the boundary and I'm not comfortable yet letting her walk 2 miles alone. I'd let her do it with a friend(s), but none of the parents I know would let their children do it at all, with or without friends. So, we drive. I'm looking forward to letting her walk the few blocks to the new school next year. She's excited too.

Sounds like Wake is dealing with a few more challenges in terms of zoning requirements than we've had to manage here in LV. In your shoes, I'd probably make the same decision, and be very frustrated by it as well!

Posted by: Vegas Mom | May 18, 2007 12:19 AM

"DD is technically a walker, but we are right on the boundary and I'm not comfortable yet letting her walk 2 miles alone. I'd let her do it with a friend(s), but none of the parents I know would let their children do it at all, with or without friends. So, we drive"

Have you considered walking with her rather than driving? When my kids went to school (5 miles away), I would sometimes drive if they had projects or cupcakes or something that would be hard to take on the bus. I was always amazed at the line of cars dropping off "walkers". Our walker boundary was one mile and many of the kids lived less than 1/2 mile away.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 18, 2007 6:59 AM

I'd love to walk with her, but I work and unfortunately don't have the luxury of arriving at work that late. I do drop her off about a block away and let her walk the rest of the way to avoid the traffic.

She will be walking next school year, as she will be at a new school that's only about 1/2 mile away, maybe less.

We do take occasional evening walks together around the neighborhood.

Posted by: Vegas Mom | May 18, 2007 9:49 AM

Thanks for the response Vegas Mom. I completely understand if you are driving to drop off on the way to something else, it's the driving and dropping off and going right back home that makes me crazy.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 18, 2007 11:23 AM

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