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Myths about the teacher layoff crisis

By now, you’ve probably heard about the urgent teacher layoff crisis that threatens public education across America. Due to shrinking state and local budgets, up to 300,000 teachers could be laid off, with devastating educational consequences for our children, such as burgeoning class sizes. The only cure is $23 billion in fresh federal deficit spending, rushed through Congress as part of a bill to fund U.S. overseas military operations. “The urgency is high,” President Obama warned congressional leaders in a June 12 letter.

Don’t believe the hype.

Start with that scary number of 300,000 teacher layoffs, which has been bandied about in numerous newspaper articles. The sources for it are interested parties: teachers unions and school administrators, whose national organizations counted layoff warning notices that have already been sent out this spring and extrapolated from there. Notably, however, even these sources usually describe the threatened positions as “education jobs” – not teachers. That’s because the figures actually include not only kindergarten through 12th grade classroom instructors, but also support staff (bus drivers, custodians, et al.) and even community college faculty. And 300,000 is the upper end of a range that could be as low as 100,000. Nationwide, there are about 3.2 million K-12 public school teachers.

Moreover, springtime layoff notices are a notoriously unreliable guide to actual job cuts in the fall, because rules and regulations in many public school systems require administrators to notify every person who might conceivably be laid off -- whether they actually expect to fire them or not. As the New York Times recently reported: “Everywhere, school officials tend to overestimate the potential for layoffs at this time of year, to ensure that every employee they might have to dismiss receives the required notifications.”

Given these facts, it’s unclear how the bill’s supporters came up with its $23 billion price tag. It works out to about $77,000 per job saved in the 300,000-layoff scenario, but $230,000 per job if only 100,000 jobs are at risk. Maybe that’s why the bill’s fine print allows states to spend any excess funds left over from education hiring on other state employees. By the way, the bill distributes funds to states according to how many residents they have, not how many threatened layoffs.

But what about class size? Well, 300,000 teacher layoffs would increase the national student-teacher ratio in public schools from 15.3 to 1, to 16.6 to 1 – roughly where it was in 1997. And 100,000 teacher layoffs would increase it to 15.6 to 1 – the 2005 level. Neither number portends educational apocalypse, especially when you consider how uncertain the links are between class size and student achievement. Student-teacher ratios shrank by roughly 10 percent nationally between 1996 and 2008, but reading scores on the National Assessment of Education Progress stayed essentially flat. Newark, for example, has a student-teacher ratio of only 10.7 to 1 – and the poorest test-score results of any public school system in New Jersey.

To be sure, the president and his advisers argue that the bill would pay for itself in part, because teachers and other school employees who are retained would continue to pay taxes and not collect unemployment benefits. But the same could be said for spending on any other category of employment. Beyond its totally unquantified and probably exaggerated claims of long-term educational benefits, the White House has no evidence that there’s something especially economically stimulative about keeping schools fully staffed. Moreover, by enabling inefficient school systems to continue living beyond their means this year, the bill would merely ensure that today’s smidgen of increased growth gets eaten up by tax increases and spending cuts when the federal fillip ends next year or the year after.

Indeed, given that the unemployment rate among health and education workers is only half that of the work force as a whole, you could argue that it’s the teachers’ turn to absorb some of the pain that they have been spared to date.

There are alternatives. If the administration wants to promote jobs, it could spend the $23 billion on extending unemployment benefits or building infrastructure or small-business loans. If it wants to keep teachers on the job, it could support mayors -- such as Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles, a Democrat -- and governors such as Chris Christie of New Jersey, a Republican -- who are calling on teachers and other unionized public employees to make reasonable sacrifices to avoid layoffs.

Let's be serious. This $23 billion bill -- 15 hundredths of one percent of the United States’ $14.6 trillion economy -- is not enough, all by itself, to bankrupt the nation. But it is also too paltry to jump-start the giant economy. The real point is that both the costs of the bill in increased federal borrowing and its benefits in purported economic stimulus are probably outweighed by the social costs of squandering an opportunity to wring concessions and reforms from the special interest groups that dominate public education, to the detriment of parents and children everywhere.

But, given the power of the teacher unions within the Democratic Party, something tells me that this bill isn’t really about stimulating the economy or educating our kids.

By Charles Lane  | June 14, 2010; 4:21 PM ET
Categories:  Lane  | Tags:  Charles Lane  
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Comments

Mr. Lane, This is spot-on and clear-headed. Kudos. You correctly point out that no teacher need lose his or her job, if wage & benefit concessions are made. And this proposed bill sloppily allocates dollars not by teacher need (e.g., how about to UNDERPAID teachers, as opposed to those in the higher compensation reaches), but just funnels future tax dollars out to all states.

Posted by: SeekingClarity | June 14, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

I have to disagree with this article on several levels:
As a former teacher, I firsthand have seen that class size and student achievement are related. It is easier to share supplies, monitor behavior, and provide individual attention to students when there are less of them.

And of COURSE the national ratio isn't going to go up that much; we aren't laying off half the teachers in the country- the "on average" statistic is deceptive. Heck, if we divide any large number by another large number the answer is going to be small.
But the impact on the individual schools laying off teachers is going to be severe. Constantly asking schools to do more with less (and referring to "inefficient school systems living beyond their means" like they are consulting companies wining and dining clients at steakhouses) is wrong.

And spending the money on extending unemployment benefits (again?!) is a terrible idea. If we're going to spend money somewhere, let's spend it simultaneously on keeping teachers employed and on education for kids, not on giving out money to people who are already unemployed when we've already extended unemployment for many months.

I'm not saying $23 billion is a rational number, and the distribution of the funds- based on state size, not # of potential layoffs- doesn't make sense. But just letting 100,000 teachers be laid off is NOT ok. The school systems don't pay teachers anything close to what they are worth even when they are employed.

Posted by: ajguzz | June 14, 2010 5:00 PM | Report abuse

I think compared to paying for the bombing of an entire countries infrastructure, then paying to try to rebuild it in the middle of a war zone, the cost of education in this nation is a pittance. Cough it up. Shut up.

Posted by: blackmask | June 14, 2010 5:11 PM | Report abuse

Teachers - the biggest whiners on earth.

Posted by: adrienne_najjar | June 14, 2010 5:11 PM | Report abuse

Teacher's Unions have done nothing to educate kids. They push for left wing political agendas and soak the taxpayer by working with Democrats. Enough is enough. All Teacher's Union contracts should be scrapped and everyone of them renegotiated. The taxpayer has had enough of going to work to pay for outlandish pay and benefit packages for public sector Unions. The greed has reached it's limit with the taxpayer.

Posted by: bobbo2 | June 14, 2010 5:21 PM | Report abuse

Teacher's Unions have done nothing to educate kids. They push for left wing political agendas and soak the taxpayer by working with Democrats. Enough is enough. All Teacher's Union contracts should be scrapped and everyone of them renegotiated. The taxpayer has had enough of going to work to pay for outlandish pay and benefit packages for public sector Unions. The greed has reached it's limit with the taxpayer.

Posted by: bobbo2 | June 14, 2010 5:22 PM | Report abuse

Excellent article.

To ajguzz :

Research I've seen shows that up to about 30 pupils per teacher the class size does not matter.

Earnings ? In my county (a distantly exurb one) for the school year 2007-2008 the average teacher salary was well over $66000. That is for 9 months of work.
Plus, earnings alone do not tell the story of compensation. Just think of the retirement benefits they enjoy.

Of course, a lot of teacher jobs could be saved if school districts would be careful with spending in other areas. About ten years ago I lived in a school district where every school nurse had a school system car for unrestricted use (accompanied by a gasoline credit card). Since every school had a nurse, what was the car for ? Even if the nurse had to occasionally go to another school, why not submit for mileage reimbursement, like occasional drivers have to do in business ?

Posted by: observer31 | June 14, 2010 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Seems like an opinion piece from someone with no classroom experience whatsoever. The comment about 'teachers being spared pain so far' suggests that the writer never actually talked to public school teachers or even looked at a school budget over the past couple of years. It's easy to blame then punish teachers for all the ills of the society but in my classroom this simple-minded analysis would earn no more than a D for good sentence structure.

Posted by: MIndfulPerson | June 14, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse

blackmask- just because we've had billions in sunk costs during a war(s) and this is a 'pittance' in comparison, that hardly follows that we should automatically plop down $23 billion, particularly if its purported benefits are in question.

Are you the type who, when out and about says, 'Oh, I can afford a dollar-fifty soda here, a frappuccino there, a lunch out, a dinner out, etc. etc.,' only to be shocked later if you actually add up how the little costs snowball? Because that's exactly the shortcoming of this line of thinking, and it's why our federal budget is reaching dangerous limits.

Posted by: Comunista | June 14, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

@ajguzz

Actually, teachers get paid exactly what they're worth. If they were worth more than what they are getting paid then thier salaries are currently.

It's basic economics. Teachers get paid based on how much people are willing to pay for thier services. Salaries are somewhat low because the supply of teachers is larger than the demand for them.

If there were not so many people wanting to be a teacher then market forces would raise wages so that supply would meet demand.

If you'll notice, Science and Math teachers tend to get paid more than the Liberal Arts teachers do. Why? Because they have higher demand relative to thier supply.

Posted by: BradG | June 14, 2010 5:39 PM | Report abuse

How arrogant of this article to presume that people should be okay with 100,000 Americans losing their jobs.

I don't care if their 100,000 janitors, no one else needs to lose their job. People have kids to feed....this is not some numbers game, these are real lives being affected.

That's like someone reporting that 300,000 Post writers are going to lose their jobs and then some arrogant prong opines, "Naw, it's only 100,000 of em...what's the big deal? Don't fall for the hype"

Jerk...it's easy to talk when you're not the one losing your livelihood.

Posted by: massmedia77 | June 14, 2010 5:45 PM | Report abuse

Totally agree with seeking clarity's post. Charles Lane - a wonderful piece questioning the entire need/rationale for $23 billion in spending. Funny how EJ Dionne just jumped on that 300k number. Mr. Lane, astutely questions the validity of the number and equally important the effect IF not enacted. Hardly catastrophic. Yes, it would appear this is more a way to keep the union happy. Love the fact that it is an add-on to another spending bill and that it allows for spending the money on other things besides teachers. Politics as usual. I am sure that if the teaparty types are paying attention, well - more fuel for the fire. Again, bravo Charles Lane well done.

Posted by: notamullethead | June 14, 2010 5:48 PM | Report abuse

This piece is lousy with errors but let's take just one: There are more than 3.2 million teachers in the country, as Mr. Lane asserts. That 3.2 million represents only the number who comprise the National Education Association. When basic facts have been bungled it speaks to a larger lack of credibility to the piece.
As for assertion that the 300,000 number is somehow invalid because it has the audacity to include support professionals, well guess what...that group also includes teachers assistants who are an invaluable part of the classroom learning environment. I'm guessing Mr. Lane wouldn't be in any hurry to have his children's classroom assistants laid off.

Posted by: BrunchBird | June 14, 2010 6:49 PM | Report abuse

I'M NOT IN A TEACHER'S UNION, SO STOP ASSUMING JUST BECAUSE I'M A TEACHER I AM. I don't make a million, but I bust my butt every single day for kids. I already lost my job due to budget cuts, but I was blessed enough to find another one, albeit forcing me to move and abandoning my house in hopes of a "quick sell"--yeah, whatever in this economy. I have NEVER complained about money--if I wanted to be a millionaire, I'd have gone into a different line of work. However, I do need to make enough to make a house payment, utilities, insurance (no, it's not paid), and keep food on my table. You DON'T know me, so don't tell me what I whine about and what I don't. I just want to be able to do the best job I can for the kids who depend on me. And I'm NOT a myth--I exist and I live in a small town. There are probably multiple people who see things similarly to me. I am not an anomaly; I take it personally to educate students (high school students at that) to become good citizens and intelligent people. So, if you're going to presume to tell me I'm a whiner and a complainer, tell me--what do YOU do for America's kids, not including your own. I teach.

Posted by: lisadeal | June 14, 2010 6:53 PM | Report abuse

BostonRepublican wrote:
I hope everyone realizes that the State and local governments start the 2011 fiscal year on July 1.

By law they must have a balanced budget.

Most of the States that are strongly democratic (IL, PA, CA...) have huge budget deficits that must be brought into balance by July 1.

If Obama does not transfer money to the states, the states will have to cut employees because most of the other spending is mandated by Federal Law.

So now Obama has to find money to keep the States from cutting their union employees.

Obama has taken care of some of his friends (like Deval Patrick and Massachusetts)

It is critical that we stop the transfer and keep Obama, the States and the unions on the hook.

The Federal government must submit a budget by October 1. Stay tuned for more fun in September when the election will be in full swing and the electorate fully engaged in the mid-term elections.

Posted by: tucsoncaller | June 14, 2010 6:55 PM | Report abuse

Although I appreciate the fact-checking, the author has left off asking the biggest question of all: is it legal? Where is the law that permits the federal government to borrow money -- that is, to obligate you, me, and every other citizen in the U.S. -- and use it to pay the salaries of teachers?

The federal government is not just some big credit card to be tapped the moment anybody starts feeling economically pinched. Our taxes are supposed to pay for the expense of running the government, and for no other purpose.

As a small-l libertarian, it galls me that America, once so proudly self-reliant, now seem to ask but one question whenever things get tough: "What is the government going to do about it? When am I going to get mine?"

Posted by: dmarney | June 14, 2010 7:02 PM | Report abuse

From lisadeal:

I'M NOT IN A TEACHER'S UNION, SO STOP ASSUMING JUST BECAUSE I'M A TEACHER I AM. I don't make a million, but I bust my butt every single day for kids. I already lost my job due to budget cuts, but I was blessed enough to find another one, albeit forcing me to move and abandoning my house in hopes of a "quick sell"--yeah, whatever in this economy. I have NEVER complained about money--if I wanted to be a millionaire, I'd have gone into a different line of work. However, I do need to make enough to make a house payment, utilities, insurance (no, it's not paid), and keep food on my table. You DON'T know me, so don't tell me what I whine about and what I don't. I just want to be able to do the best job I can for the kids who depend on me. And I'm NOT a myth--I exist and I live in a small town. There are probably multiple people who see things similarly to me. I am not an anomaly; I take it personally to educate students (high school students at that) to become good citizens and intelligent people. So, if you're going to presume to tell me I'm a whiner and a complainer, tell me--what do YOU do for America's kids, not including your own. I teach.

_________________

Bravo! Bravo! Lisadeal - you speak for many, many very hardworking teachers that are taken for granted; I'm sure the negative posters here wouldn't last more than a week in a regular classroom.

........from a retired teacher

Posted by: PLMichaelsArtist-at-Large | June 14, 2010 7:21 PM | Report abuse

dmarney "Where is the law that permits the federal government to borrow money -- that is, to obligate you, me, and every other citizen in the U.S. -- and use it to pay the salaries of teachers?"

As a Libertarian I would think you would have had the constitution memorized by now.

Article 1 Section 8 of the US Constitution allows the government to;

"To borrow money on the credit of the United States;"

"To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures."

I'm just a run of the mill whining science teacher.

Any further questions about what the constitution actually says?

Posted by: tazmodious | June 14, 2010 7:29 PM | Report abuse

I teach because it is my passion! This year, I was one of those people in your statistic that lost their jobs due to budget cuts. I still have a contract, just no job or payment for the fall. I understand that the economy affects many and has been. However, the impact that these jobs has on our children and their futures just isn't right! My own children are losing art, music, phys.ed., gifted, guidance, and library. They are in a different district than where I work. Times are tough and something needs to happen so our children, the future of our country, have the skills that they need to compete in the world and be the citizens that they deserve to be!

Posted by: zakrajsk | June 14, 2010 7:29 PM | Report abuse

You want more money when our children are becoming more ignorant by the year. Bravo teachers! let me pull out the checkbook.

How about you learn to instruct better?

Posted by: zap123 | June 14, 2010 7:46 PM | Report abuse

Certainly here in NJ, the teachers (and state employees) were asked to take a pay freeze and some limitation on future retirement benefits, which would save the jobs. The unions flatly refused, although some local districts won agreements. State and local budgets are strained and we in NJ have the highest real estate taxes in the land, plus a high state sales tax and an income tax. Teachers salaries/benefit packages here in NJ are very generous for the 180-day school year (actually fewer days if you deduct sick days, teachers' "convention"--a 3-day vacation, etc.).

Posted by: weissler | June 14, 2010 7:47 PM | Report abuse

Oh I just re-read my comments. That was just mean. My apologies teachers...just frustrated about the amount of money this President is blowing through with little or no consequence to what future generations will have to sacrifice to pay...

Posted by: zap123 | June 14, 2010 7:49 PM | Report abuse

No more bailouts for public service union members. They need to take paycuts and there needs to be some layoffs. Start feeling the pain of the rest of us. Start paying for you own medical insurance like the rest of us. Convert to a 401(k) instead of ridiculous pension fund.

Live in reality. No more money for public service workers. Don't threaten me with less cops or teachers. The teachers are lazy and the cops say they won't arrest illegals. Fire them all.

Posted by: Cornell1984 | June 14, 2010 8:14 PM | Report abuse

Actually, get rid of tenure and pay good teachers more.

Posted by: Cornell1984 | June 14, 2010 8:16 PM | Report abuse

MR LANE HOW DARE YOU..PEOPLE ARE ALWAYS ON THE OUTSIDE LOOKING IN..FIRST OF ALL TEACHERS HAVE NEVER MADE THE MONEY THAT WE SHOULD MAKE BUT, WE DECIDED TO TEACH BECAUSE WE LOVE WHAT WE DO AS EDUCATORS. HOW CAN YOU DARE THINK THAT CUTTING EDUCATION JOBS WILL HELP OURS STUDENTS? WHAT IF IT WAS DONE TO YOU AS A STUDENTS? REMEMBER THIS MR...IF IT WASN'T FOR A TEACHER YOU WOULDN'T BE WERE YOU ARE TODAY..A MIND IS A TERRIBLE THING TO WASTE.IF ANYTHING PEOPLE THAT VOTES ON EDUCATION ISSUES SHOULD BE EDUCATORS...NOW GO AND WRITE ABOUT THAT ONE..

Posted by: wwdatrucking | June 14, 2010 8:19 PM | Report abuse

The other question we need to ask about this is how giving the educational establishment more money is going to improve testing scores. For the last decade, test results have been dismally stuck in the same rut in spite of federal funds poured into what historically has been a state and local function of teaching kids. If the teachers can't meet the testing regime and increase scores, why should they get more money. Any business sense would say you cut funding to underperforming businesses in order to send a message. We need to cut back on wasteful federal spending, not lavish more money on failing institutions.
Another point to be made is that schools are facing a temporary problem because property tax revenues are decling due to the deflating of the real estate bubble. It is within the means of local government to solve this by increasing the tax rates, which some jurisdictions are doing this year, and others planning to do it next year. This will provide more than enough money for the schools, and it also siphons money from the wealthy living in McMansions who can easily afford the tax increase.

Posted by: edwardallen54 | June 14, 2010 8:27 PM | Report abuse

Mr Lane is regurgitating the right wing propaganda that ignorant Americans cleave to as if there were an iota of truth involved. I have been downsized twice in the last three years despite ecxellent reviews and even better credentials. Apparently, China is paying for Chinese teachers and many districts are using this as an excuse to eliminate French, which has lower enrollment numbers than Spanish. The reason for this is that uninformed guidance counselors tell students that Spanish is "easier than French"- a load of stuff with which one fertilizes one's garden. Spanish starts out easier because it is a phonetic language and therefore easier to pronounce. I studied both languages to an advanced level and can tell you, without reservation, that French is grammatically easier than the two and since it is a source language for English, is much more logical for anglophones. The United States is, once again, slow/ out-to-lunch on the learning curve. China is busy investing in infrastracture and business in Africa- due to the natural resources found there and their long growing season- while we slowly eliminate French from our curriculums because the Chinese teachers are free. Nevermind that 22 sub-saharahan African nations speak French as well most of the Middle East. Mandarin Chinese is not even spoken throughout China whereas English and French are the only two languages spoken on every continent. Meanwhile our homegrown rednecks portray French as an effeminate language- I would dare any one of those portly ignoramuses to say as much to a member of the French Foreign Legion- still one of the most effective military forces in the world. Perhaps Americans just want their children to be able to slave away in a Chinese factory earning thirty-four cents a day. Now there's an asperation!

Posted by: dorsyn | June 14, 2010 8:37 PM | Report abuse

Pardon me, but I forgot to include that New Britain CT is predicting class sizes of 40 students for the upcoming school year yet teachers will still be expected to differentiate instruction so that all learning styles are addressed- like this is even possible in a class any larger than 25 students. Welcome to the future Banana Republic once known as the United States- Education is the ONLY effective societal equalizer.

Posted by: dorsyn | June 14, 2010 8:42 PM | Report abuse

Charles Lane,
Considering your contribution to society is simply conveying your ill-educated opinion to the masses, I would bet your salary is unduly higher than most teachers, even those with Master or PhD educations. These folks sacrifice their standard of living so they can give back to a society that cares nothing for education, not realizing what they are throwing away.

Teachers, fire fighters, police, and other public servants are underpaid, most of which cannot afford to live in the counties they teach in. They are treated as second-class citizens and ridiculed by ignorant parents that have no sense of honor, values, and whose definition of cheating depends on what percentage their child has copied from Wikipedia.

Until pundits like yourself and citizens realize the true value of an education, your children will continue to be reflections of yourselves - ignorant, lacking integrity, and looking out only for themselves.

As a fiscal conservative, I realize that investing in education - and my counties teachers, offers one of the best returns on my investment.

Good day.

Posted by: altruisticone | June 14, 2010 8:57 PM | Report abuse

As a teacher in California - 2 points: 1) Many teachers have been "Laid off" or "Let go" which is code for fired. 2) About classroom student to teacher ratios - looking at the average is deceiving. It is based on averages at a school site. I teach in a middle school. Some special needs and intervention classes have from 6 to 15 students. Our current average is 35 to 1. To get to that "average", you have to have some very large classes. I am talking 40-46 for my math classes. Science, Social Studies, and PE are even higher as most special needs students are in those classes due to least restrictive environment mandates by law. As I tell my students, don't believe everything you see, hear, or read. Do you own research and be a critical thinker.

Posted by: mwwas594 | June 14, 2010 8:59 PM | Report abuse

Where to begin? Well, it’s no myth about these layoffs. First, let’s debunk some of these overused statistics. First, about class size. Teacher-student ratio is lower due to the increased number of students who qualify for special education, as well as the hiring of a number of classroom assistants and parapros (who don’t receive a full salary and benefits). Public schools teach ALL students, of all abilities (and disabilities), and do a wonderful job of accommodating many who are very much disadvantaged. No, probably very few of these students are future Nobel Prize winners, and, let’s be honest, they’re probably not increasing overall reading scores, but they are part of the student body and doing the best they can. And for the sake of our society, this is good. Again, public schools teach ALL students. Interestingly, most of the teachers being laid off are not special ed teachers, as special ed is a program mandated by federal law. So yes, in some districts, you’re going to see class sizes increase by as many as four or five pupils per class. Also, my district and those I know of that are facing layoffs are not focusing on custodians, bus drivers, etc. Why? Because they’ve already been incredibly downsized and taken the hit, as many districts seek to privatize to cut costs. Nice red herring there, Mr. Lane. But as a teacher, I feel strongly that custodians, bus drivers, etc., are important contributors to the overall school environment and deserve dignified pay and benefits. Lastly, I can see why tenure upsets people, and, personally, I would not shed a tear if it were abolished. However, tenure does not preclude a teacher from losing his/her job. The union is supposed to protect its members. That’s what a union does, regardless of the industry. But if a tenured teacher is not performing his/her job sufficiently, that teacher can still be fired. Any principal worth his/her salt will tell you as much. It won’t be as easy as saying, “you’re gone,” but it can be done and it has been done. The myth is how misinformed people are about public education and what really goes on. So, to Congress, I say please pass the $23 billion spending bill to put me back to work. This way I might get rehired, get my $56k salary back, and won’t have to apply for unemployment.

Posted by: McDyess | June 14, 2010 9:21 PM | Report abuse

McDyess- if I may add to your insightful commentary, most teacher contracts in cases of "downsizing" throw tenure, seniority and performance to the wolves- it's all about being penny wise and dollar foolish. But one rarely sees superintendents foregoing their contractual pay raises.

Posted by: dorsyn | June 14, 2010 9:32 PM | Report abuse

It is about the November elections. It is about Obama wasting money on Unions so they can come out and vote for democrats. it is a simple as that.

Posted by: mussina1 | June 14, 2010 9:58 PM | Report abuse

Nice work debunking the classic "if you're against the $23B, you're against teaching our kids."

It's ironic that the kids are actually the ones picking up the tab for their teacher's salaries - since all of the money will be borrowed and on their ledger.

No one ever wants to question the teachers, like they're 100% honest brokers. This is a fleece job, exaggerating claims of pending unemployment in the classroom to get extra money to States for other public programs in the red.

The liberal society is crumbling, and they're panicking trying to find more money at all costs - including from the kids they're claiming to dedicate so much care and time working on behalf of. This country is going bankrupt, the liberals are paranoid watching their policies fail, and they're getting nastier attacking those people that question the failing system as anti

And shame on the Obama Admin for their lazy and grossly false economic claim that giving the money now will keep teachers from seeking unemployment benefits. They're public employees! Their salaries and their pending unemployment benefits are coming from the same place - us! Shame on them for trying to play the public for fools.

Posted by: dnara | June 14, 2010 10:01 PM | Report abuse

"Constantly asking schools to do more with less"

Let me help you a bit.

This has never happened. We pay teachers more and more, and achievement tests are not affected; they get neither better nor worse, suggesting that there is no link between how much we pay teachers and the effectiveness on student achievement.

Posted by: Ombudsman1 | June 14, 2010 10:13 PM | Report abuse

The fact is, for those who may be willing to accept facts, is the two major political parties are beholden to special interest groups. When Republicans control the presidency, corporations disproportionately benefit, workers and the environment are neglected at best, harmed, at worst, as during the Bush II presidency.

With Obama and Democrats controlling Congress, no one should be surprised they will disproportionately seek to benefit unions. The Obama administration has to especially be perceived by educators as helping them keep their jobs, given how it has been unfairly scapegoating teachers for the failing performances of millions of students in the public schools.

In reality, some of those who received potential lay-off notices in March, including many in California, have already been notified they will be rehired. The jobs of educators are important, but so too are the jobs of the fifteen or more million who lost their jobs in the private sector. Yet Obama and most Democrats do not seem overly concerned about their jobs.

Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent | June 14, 2010 10:22 PM | Report abuse

Lane's opining notwithstanding, I tell you as a college educator that the situation is a DISASTER. Not only have teachers been laid off, but vital services have been cut and/or eliminated from the elementary through the university level. Essential support staff have been fired. Equipment that had been leased or rented has been returned. New purchases of computers and software have been put off. Class size has been increased. Salaries have been frozen. Security personnel have been fired from schools with metal detectors, leading to an increase in reported violence.

Highly qualified new teachers, the kind we've been seeking, have sought employment outside the education system.

The situation can certainly worsen. And it will.

Posted by: farnaz_mansouri2 | June 14, 2010 10:28 PM | Report abuse

Mostly with you on this one Mr. Lane. But this sentence -- "If the administration wants to promote jobs, it could spend the $23 billion on extending unemployment benefits" is pure BS. Extending unemployment benefits won't create a single job. In fact, the argument can be made that it will further delay individuals from doing what is necessary [accepting employment that may not exactly duplicate what they lost in terms of pay, benefits, substance] that much longer. And in any case, the Feds have no business continueing to prop up local and state public sector jobs at all. The residents of Maine should not help California [for example] to avoid doing the tough things they need to do themselves to get their fiscal houses in order.

Posted by: CREEBOLD | June 14, 2010 10:48 PM | Report abuse

I am not complaining about pay. Just place yourself here for a moment:

Within a year I will begin a professional career in Art Education, a career that I am deeply passionate about. I will have a student loan bill of $800 dollars in my mail box every month, for the next ten years. This terrifies me.

I feel deeply disrespected those who do not understand the position that we as teachers are taking on.

Look to yourselves a little, how might you support your child's test grades (granted this is your qualification of learning and success) as well?

Posted by: Judson1 | June 14, 2010 10:57 PM | Report abuse

Interestng.

We keep hearing about the dire straits of the newspaper industry is in. Has Mr. Lane offered to cut his pay?

Posted by: thmas | June 14, 2010 11:05 PM | Report abuse

Interestng.

We keep hearing about the dire straits of the newspaper industry is in. Has Mr. Lane offered to cut his pay?

Posted by: thmas | June 14, 2010 11:05 PM | Report abuse

I would suggest that the author visit some school board meetings outside the DC area and explain to them that the situation in their school district doesn't matter because all that matters is "national student-teacher ratio in public schools ".

Then he might want to research the "average" occupation of school board members (who often serve without pay) and then go tell a construction worker, a nurse-midwife, a retired school administrator, someone who works for a local business, a private school president, or whatever other occupation the school board member has doesn't matter anymore than actual class size in a district.

This is the think tank view of education---don't bother interacting with actual school board members, actual students, parents, principals or teachers, because the think tank types know all.

Yeah, right.

Posted by: GHDEL | June 14, 2010 11:36 PM | Report abuse

When calculating student-to-teacher ratios keep in mind that the population growth adds about 700K new students a year.

Additionally, it's not just "teachers unions" that are floating around these numbers. These numbers are based on proposed budgets for the upcoming school year from state and local governments.

State level budget cut backs have been real enough in recent years. So as far as "the hype" is concerned, loosing another 200K to 300K jobs off the top-line is likely to have ripple effects in secondary industries in the private sector.

Understandably for at least some Washington Post op-ed writers lay-offs in the real economy are purely hypothetical and the urgency underpinning the current employment situation is merely driven "hype". If only it were so.

Posted by: JPRS | June 14, 2010 11:36 PM | Report abuse

There you have it. Teacher bailout #2 is about placating the teacher's unions, while the Administration implements Race to the Top, so that teachers vote for the President's eventual reelection campaign.

Posted by: moebius22 | June 14, 2010 11:38 PM | Report abuse

This article is so misleading on so many levels. . . in no particular order most districts and teacher's unions have negotiatied contracts in the last year or two years that have changed work rules to save money and or negotiated pay freezes with modest raises in the out years. . . Second teachers based upon the level of study (in most states to be licensed teachers must have a Masters Degree. . . that is 6 years of study and 3 years of practice to receive permanent job placement ) are the most underpaid profession in the United States. We became the greatest country in the world in the early part of this century because of the dedication and excellence of public school teachers, if you think Education is Expensive Try Ignorance. .

Posted by: richdys | June 14, 2010 11:41 PM | Report abuse

If teachers and teaching are so incredibly vital to the nations' well-being, WHY are schools only in session 180 days per year, with bloated vacation periods in summer and at Christmas ? Why are we following an agrarian schedule in the 21st century ?

Posted by: dan1138 | June 14, 2010 11:47 PM | Report abuse

The US Dept of Education website states that the 2009 stimulus funds "saved or created" 300,000 education jobs.

They now need more funds to pay for these same jobs in 2010. Any bets that next year, another emergency spending bill be needed for the same purpose?

Posted by: kitchendragon50 | June 14, 2010 11:47 PM | Report abuse

"Oh I just re-read my comments. That was just mean. My apologies teachers...just frustrated about the amount of money this President is blowing through with little or no consequence to what future generations will have to sacrifice to pay..."

I worked part time in a program called AVID in 2 schools. One of those schools had hit bottom a few years ago and is now an improving school (the sort Sec. Duncan talks about wanting to see). It has a higher than average graduation rate and although large and diverse is not a dangerous place to be.

AVID works with young people who might otherwise not have a chance to go to college.

Of the 22 seniors in the one class I worked for, ALL were admitted to college, and all got scholarships. This was due to the hard work not only of teachers but all school staff, from the principal down to the part time worker.

Of course, such success stories mar the "big bad teachers unions who only make schools worse" narrative. Education is labor intensive---adults working with students.

There are lots of children in our city who qualify for free and reduced lunch. There are meal sites set up around town so that these children can have a good meals during the summer. Our local school board and schools foundation set up a Reading for All program where donated books are given to these children, and volunteers come to the sites to read to the children.

I would suggest all the naysayers here check their local community and see if such a program exists----and then volunteer, so you can see actual kids are not widgets.

And that "9 month's work" statistic doesn't count training in the summer time.

Do you know for a fact that teachers go on vacation 3 months every summer and don't do any work to prepare for fall classes? I know teachers who are going for specialized training this summer---sorry to spoil your propaganda!

Posted by: GHDEL | June 14, 2010 11:49 PM | Report abuse

kitchendragon50,

The states will likely need support again next year simply because the scale of the current economic crisis is so great.

I don't think politicians and the public have come to term with the most immediate burden on growth -- e.g. PRIVATE sector debt.

Until private sector debt is scaled back considerably to more manageable levels, the private sector will be unable to sustain a recovery on its own.

The private sector -- especially consumers -- cannot off-load debt quickly enough in an environment where hiring is either flat, or negative.

Posted by: JPRS | June 15, 2010 12:02 AM | Report abuse

This is a disgraceful piece of dishonest hackwork that suggests falsely that the claim that education could suffer serious negative affects with hundreds of thousands lost positions in education is a myth perpetrated by teacher unions and education administrators.

Here is a study by a respected independent research organization that fully documents the negative consequences for education of the budget problems now being confronted by states and localities.


http://www.cbpp.org/files/4-19-10sfp.pdf


The following is a paper by Christina Romer of the Council of Economic Advisers and an economist at Princeton.


http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/rss_viewer/back_to_a_better_normal.pdf

Posted by: twm1 | June 15, 2010 12:03 AM | Report abuse

Amazing...crying about $23 billion to keep positions in schools....complaining about the small amount it will add to the debt for our children...what about the larger debt we owe them for their future..How do you weight the cost of failing to provide them with the tools to earn a living in the world we now live which we have ignored for far too long...A good education for our children is worth far more than a paltry $23 billion dollars..and like it or not...the education they receive is the link to their future....

So you think one or two more children in a class doesn't matter. How about these numbers....for a 50 minute class with just 10 children, that would be 5 minutes per student........


Time spent complaining about teachers would be better spent trying to impress upon your children the value of a good education...

Posted by: barbee2 | June 15, 2010 12:10 AM | Report abuse

That's the answer to intractable and institutional problems: throw more money at it.

Posted by: moebius22 | June 15, 2010 12:17 AM | Report abuse

"If the administration wants to promote jobs, it could spend the $23 billion on extending unemployment benefits "

*unemployment benefits don't promote jobs except in the general way that any spending might. promoting jobs is not the purpose of unemployment benefits.

*teachers with graduate degrees get paid tens of thousands dollars less than people in other professions with similar levels of education and experience.

*averaging the increase in class size ignores the fact that greater increases in class size will disprortionately occur in poor school districts with already large class sizes.

*many of the school districts in the area are on explicit or informal hiring freezes until funds are released.

*if you are going to make a counter argument to something, lane, at least make an effort.

Posted by: jobrie18 | June 15, 2010 12:25 AM | Report abuse

Chris Christie knows how to deal with teachers.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yuri7p_9pm4

Posted by: axxionx12 | June 15, 2010 12:33 AM | Report abuse

I think we should have a rule - prior to writing opinion pieces about teachers unions or public school teachers, you have to spend a year teaching first. At a real school, not a charter where they get to pick their students. No, a real public school, with all the languages, the absenteeism, the gangs, the uninvolved parents, getting to school at 7:00 am, staying late to tutor, and then perhaps a couple home visits in the evening. And don't forget to get in your CEU's during your summer "break." And if you're like many public schools, with no parental support, let alone a PTA, you can spend your free time raising money to buy your kids books and uniforms. All the while, the editorial board of your local paper can write their non-stop opinion pieces about how you're opposing reform (aka, privatizing public schools). Perhaps when I have to start spending $600 a year on my own office supplies instead of just ordering from our vendor's catalogue, maybe, just maybe, I'll start whining about "bailing" them out. But until then, I can't think of a better way to spend my tax dollar.

Posted by: laurafish1 | June 15, 2010 12:35 AM | Report abuse

My wife is a teacher in Va. She hasn't had a step raise or cost of living raise in 3 years. She pays for her insurance, the cost of which has risen about 10% each of the last three years. Next year she will be forced to take furlough days. Where is her union when she needs it? Nowhere, thats where! So all you jerks out there who think the teachers unions have some type of mystical sway over local, state and federal governments, you are sadly misinformed. And for some of you folks who have the nerve to call teachers whiners?This AM she left for work at 5:30 am. She did not return home until 8:30pm. Finals week doesn't just suck for the students. Her schedule will remain that way until the end of the school year. How many of you put in 15 hr days on a regular basis? I'd say she has earned her 8 week summer break. You d!ck$ bad mouthing teachers and complaining about paying for their salaries and benefits should stop and remember how in the hell you learned to read and write the stupid tripe you post here.

Posted by: rcupps | June 15, 2010 1:19 AM | Report abuse

Many cops now earn well over $100,000 per year with great pensions and healthcare. They are not "at will" employees and get raises as part of their contracts.

When 1 police job opens the typical department will get 300 or more applications. Why are we paying these people so much. They obviously view this as not only a job but it's alos their hobby. Construction Workers, Miners, etc. have far more dangerous jobs. Many of these cops making over $100,000/year have jobs more dangerous than the Mail Man yet everytime they save a cat from a tree they want a parade.

Criminals go out looking to make trouble but have you noticed how many cops now go out for looking for trouble? For a simple domestic dispute multiple cops now show up and if there is any hint of danger they call in the SWAT team.

They also walk around now to intimidate citizens and hold taxpayers in contempt.

I think a mandatory 33% across the board pay decrease for all cops in the U.S. and an end to them being in unions and make them "at will" employees would make them wake up and smell the coffee.

You'd still get 300 showing up for every 1 job opening. I appreciate what they do but their far, far overpaid for regular folks to support the hobbies of people who were generally C students and just enjoy intimidating citizens. Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Ben Franklin, and George Washington would despise their jackboot behavior.

Posted by: richmond_dude | June 15, 2010 1:26 AM | Report abuse

Cops and Teachers should do 3 things:

Become "at will" employees like the rest of us.

Starting paying the same amount the rest of us pay for health insurance.

Give up pensions totally and try to save for your retirement only by a 401(k)

I'd take a huge pay cut if I had some job stability, my healthcare costs were lower, and I knew I was going to get a pension.

Cops and Teachers hold taxpayers in contempt and need to wake up and smell the coffee. When was the last time you heard a cop or teacher say "Gee, I think the billing clerk who make $30,000 per year, has no health insurance, no pension, and no retirment deserves a slight raise." Never!

It's never enough for the cops and the teachers and their unions. It's a giant broken record. We need to end the unions, make them "at will" employees, make them pay for their own healtcare, and get rid of their pensions and make them save via 401(k)'s. I wonder how many would then be "passionate" about teaching.

The guilt tripping and sucking up of taxpayer money by cops and teachers is completely out of control. They should show a little decency and respect for taxpayers instead of contempt.

Posted by: richmond_dude | June 15, 2010 1:35 AM | Report abuse

Everywhere I go in different cities the only two places that I hear that anyone has found a job is teaching English in either South Korea or in Japan. I don't hear about anyone finding a job that pays more than minimum wage in America.

When I lived in Las Vegas teachers were quitting in droves due to the Clark County School District harsh disrepectful treatment of teachers.

Posted by: blakesouthwood | June 15, 2010 2:29 AM | Report abuse

Again, one sees why duct tape was invented. When clear thinkers lay out FACTS, liberals' heads start swelling and explosions are possible. Wrap duct tape around noggin, and let rage subside for several days.

Posted by: Curmudgeon10 | June 15, 2010 2:33 AM | Report abuse

I like the idea, doing more with less.

Let's fire half the idiots that produce articles like this on the Washingtonpost.com and see if the rest of the staff can't make up for the loss with quality journalism?

No? Yeah, I didn't think so either.

Posted by: talan1231 | June 15, 2010 2:58 AM | Report abuse

Nice article, and full of facts and reasoned arguments, which is precisely what teachers' unions do not want to hear.

Once again, another spending bill that is little more than a payout to union forces.

No wonder that our children aren't being taught reasoning and logic anymore. Teachers themselves are increasingly incapable of it, mostly because they buy into the absurd political rhetoric peddled by their union masters.

Wouldn't it be nice to get the federal government out of education again, and even to limit state involvement as much as possible? Yes, there are problems with school funding coming entirely from a single school district's property tax base, namely in that poor areas end up consigned to worse educations, but with less money and control at the federal and state levels, the politicizing and union power would largely be stripped, and local districts controlled by parents who care about their children could actually get on with the work of educating their children.

Posted by: blert | June 15, 2010 3:00 AM | Report abuse

richmond_dude,

Amen!

Cut cops wages, hell why not privatize police and fire like they do in 3rd world countries? Rather than collecting a salary from taxpayers they can get their compensation from organized crime families.

That'll show 'em!

And teachers with their "masters degrees" looking down their noses at high school drop-outs like richmond_dude should get paid like high school drop-outs!

That'll show 'em!

We all know that police and fireman never risk their lives when the public calls either. That's just some "leftist" fantasy. Those jobs are among the safest in the world -- it's almost as safe in fact as mining coal. And those ungrateful bastages think they deserve a pension, or compensation commensurate with the so-called "risk" that they deal with?

Hell, no!

We should bring the standards for public employees in our developed democracy down to 3rd world standards -- that will show them all!

Posted by: JPRS | June 15, 2010 3:27 AM | Report abuse

blert,

You make some really brilliant points.

We should get the government out of education -- just like we did in the 1800s.

Everyone knows that an uneducated population is highly desirable.

And as everyone knows money that's spent by teachers, fireman, and policemen NEVER enters the private economy. Everyone knows that they never buy food or housing in the private market. So we can safely assume that when they stop receiving paychecks it will have absolutely no impact on the private economy.

This is something "leftists" would know if they had an education in "logic" like blert and I have.

Posted by: JPRS | June 15, 2010 3:34 AM | Report abuse

If U.S. citizens are unwilling to pay for for a sufficient amount of teachers, then we may as well face the fact that the empire has crumbled.

Posted by: ginabw | June 15, 2010 4:51 AM | Report abuse

What we forget is that State governments have already decided NOT to provide funds to these "education workers", the States themselves have decided that it is not worth raising taxes or borrowing to fund these positions. So why should OTHER States fund something that has been determined not critical?

Posted by: cautious | June 15, 2010 5:00 AM | Report abuse

>>>the White House has no evidence that there’s something especially economically stimulative about keeping schools fully staffed.

Lane makes a stupid statement.
The disastrous effects of FEWER cops on the street are realized more quickly than fewer teachers in classrooms.

Posted by: angie12106 | June 15, 2010 5:29 AM | Report abuse

Why not simply reduce the salaries of teachers and other government employees? We're out of money. Borrowing money for operating expenses makes absolutely ZERO sense. We obviously can't afford to pay the salaries of government employees. All of them need to be cut to match revenues.

Posted by: Mainer1776 | June 15, 2010 6:03 AM | Report abuse

"Cautious" hit the nail on the head. We're to believe states are going to lay off all these teachers rather than raise state taxes. (I don't believe it, but let's pretend I do.)

So. If they won't raise their own taxes, why should FEDERAL taxpayers have to pony up for them?! I'm ready to shut the entire Education Dept. They've had 30 years, billions of dollars and thousands of employees. And achievement scores have plummeted. Obama's proposal compounds the problem by federalizing even more of the education bureaucracy.

Posted by: jeannebee | June 15, 2010 6:22 AM | Report abuse

I have to laugh out loud when some of the same people who critize the pitiful amount the Federal government spends on education and bemoan the vast educational bureaucracy have little or nothing to say about excessive Defense spending. And I'm not talking about Afghanistan- which I believe is necessary- I'm talking about nuclear weapons beyond any conceivably rational need, Cold War era weapons platforms not only still in service but being replaced with updated versions, the list goes on.
But then again, these are the same people who bemoan a poor woman chosing to get an abortion yet will do nothing to help that child become educated and/or find a decent paying job once they actually grow up.

Posted by: stillaliberal | June 15, 2010 6:55 AM | Report abuse

Not having read previous comments, I can't say whether an obvious analogy -- the Kaplan-For-Profit-University Post might address its own money problems by dumping "neoliberal" hacks like Lane, not to mention trimming its Bush White House Alumni welfare program -- has occurred to anyone else. But I very much doubt it has occurred to anyone in WaPo editorial management, where the Graham/Weymouth war on unions is always job one.

Posted by: misterjrthed | June 15, 2010 7:02 AM | Report abuse

Let's see, conservatives somehow feel cutting spending for education won't affect the outcome for the students. Fascinating.

Posted by: kcbob | June 15, 2010 7:13 AM | Report abuse

The core issue is that teachers (firemen policemen) are paid from local taxes therefore a highly visible and irritating target. If all of America's breadwinners were paid directly by the same taxpayers, the anger would be reduced immediately.

As a lifetime teacher and ex-union leader I would suggest that; no, money alone doesn't make for education (Home environment is larger and that class size thingy has been proven wrong)

Get bureaucrats and the "novelty of the day" types out of education and you'll solve much of the problem.

Lastly, in view of the fact that the NEA is a radical supporter of leftist policy, including abortion, What other known union kills off its potential future clientele? Not too smart -these educators.

Posted by: DonL1 | June 15, 2010 7:41 AM | Report abuse

Gee another right wing Wapo journalist. Mr. Lane, like all neo cons,never fails to blame any progressive movement for the deficits CREATED BY BUSH/REAGAN'S TAX CUTS.Roll back this lunacy and we would be in much better shape. Can't wait till he comes out for getting rid of Social Security next!

Posted by: hughsie48 | June 15, 2010 7:43 AM | Report abuse

The challenge for the states is that almost every state at this point has engaged in cut backs, wages freezes, and layoffs, in combination with tax increases. Many local jurisdictions raise revenue based on real estate and when property values drop, it has an impact on revenue from those sources.

I would be very surprised if the support ended up going to just "some" states. My sense is that every state is going to get additional support, because the recession has blown a hole in budgets across the country (with the exception of perhaps a couple which have the benefit of oil production to off-set local expenses). The lower cost of federal borrowing is a factor as well.

Posted by: JPRS | June 15, 2010 7:58 AM | Report abuse

ajguzz says "The school systems don't pay teachers anything close to what they are worth even when they are employed." More like "The school systems don't pay SOME teachers anything close to what they are worth". Others shouldn't even be in the field, but can't be fired because of the teachers' unions.

Posted by: newageblues | June 15, 2010 8:10 AM | Report abuse

National class average is 15-1? Tell that to my 5 high school world history classes that have me teaching between 32-35 students in each.

Posted by: rubinstt1 | June 15, 2010 8:34 AM | Report abuse

When school districts and the states create teacher to student ratios they do so to make it look as though class sizes are smaller than they are. This is done so they can show the tax payers and the real estate market that they are getting the most for their money. Therefore they divide the total number of students by the total number of staff that has a teaching license. Therefore, central administrators (superintendents, associate superintendents, principals, counselors, etc.) are all counted as “teachers” for ratio purposes although these professionals do not teach in a classroom. Also federal law mandating ratios for special education teachers states that teachers can have no more than ten students in a class and sometimes for students with serious disability the maximum is five or even three students per teacher. Yet those teachers are counted as teaching all students which keeps the ratios much lower than they really are. Therefore the 16 to 1 ratio that Lane sites is technically correct but does not show the reality that teachers and students face every day.

Posted by: smith6 | June 15, 2010 8:56 AM | Report abuse

Yes, yes, fire them all. The Pentagon needs more, more, more so we can reap death and destruction upon yet more parts of the world. Education is just a frill compared to our real agenda.

Posted by: ihave4ducks | June 15, 2010 8:59 AM | Report abuse

Obama's gonna hafta do a lot better than $23 billion. School bus drivers need to be paid during the summer, other vacation periods, teachers' conventions, and other workshop/in-service days. Also, we need health/dental/sick leave and pension benefits. Being sensitive to taxpayers' concerns, this bus driver will settle for 1/3 of just one teacher's excess pay and benefits. What's that you say? The union won't allow it? But it's for the children! How can they be taught if I don't get 'em to the school? And how can I do that safely if I don't have at least 4 months of R and R every calendar year?

Posted by: elgropo1 | June 15, 2010 9:04 AM | Report abuse

For the good of the children, teachers and school administrators should offer to take pay cuts. For the good of the next generation, teachers and administrators should take cuts in retirement benefits. For the good of the children .......

Posted by: richard36 | June 15, 2010 9:06 AM | Report abuse

The right wing will never be at a loss for words if it just keeps in mind these two: "teachers" and "unions". Teacher's Union is a magical phrase to unite the right wing. We are the only civilized country who regards teachers in such low esteem. Asia places much higher value on teachers than does the US, where the "school of hard knocks" is supposed to be a better preparation for life than "formal education."

The most extreme right wing communities are in states with the worst education systems,and the worst outcomes in the country. Keep people stupid and poor, and tell them they are 'free.' What crap.

Posted by: LeftGuy | June 15, 2010 9:18 AM | Report abuse

As always, there is more to this debate then meets the eye....most if not all of the school districts in this country enjoyed a bounty during the housing market bubble. Inflated housing prices meant higher property taxes - with the housing crash and then deflating home values, and the foreclosed houses not bringing in tax revenue, the property tax revenue went crashing down leaving school districts in trouble.

Each district did what it could to accommodate the lower funds they were receiving - a lot of it was good..i.e. not opening every single school in the county for summer school - instead, having each "zone" use one large school for summer classes; eliminating after school activity buses or whatever other "extras" the higher property tax revenues had allowed.

But then, they hit the real brick wall - that of unfunded mandates that our Federal Government has sent down since the Dept. of Education nationalized our school system.

By all means, send the states money to save the teachers jobs, but then get on to the thing that will really save our local school districts.........provide a landscape for jobs to grow for the private sector and GET RID OF THE UNFUNDED MANDATES.

Posted by: LMW6 | June 15, 2010 9:21 AM | Report abuse

adrienne_najjar wrote;
"Teachers - the biggest whiners on earth."
_________________________________________

Teachers are people, embodying the good and bad of our species like every else. So some are whiners, no doubt. But adrienne_najjar's sweeping generalization is stunningly stupid, not to mention mean-spirited. MOST of the public school teachers I have known over my three score years of life are dedicated and hard-working, and most are underpaid. They do a job most of the rest are uninclined, not to mentioned unprepared, to do.

Now in so saying I'm not beginning to claim that our education system doesn't have massive problems, including many that are self-inflicted. I'll confess to being suspicious that at some times and in some places teachers unions have become cults of mediocrity, protecting teachers' privileges instead of insisting on high standards of professional behavior WHILE protecting worthy teachers from administrative idiocy. But the fact the our system has serious problems does not and should not impugn AS A CLASS the teachers who labor faithfully and often heroically within that system, whatever its flaws.

No, Adrienne, the biggest whiners of all are those like yourself incapable of critical thought who feel the need to break the silence even though they are conspicuously incapable of improving upon it. Go back to school, and pay attention this time.

Posted by: post_reader_in_wv | June 15, 2010 9:39 AM | Report abuse

The federal gov't doesn't have the money to dole out to the states. Teachers should be paid by local districts. I am all for keeping as many teachers as possible and class size down, but this continuing federal bailout has got to end. If you want to raise your local taxes to pay for it then go ahead, but the federal gov't needs to get a grip on their spending.

Posted by: sl3_007 | June 15, 2010 9:43 AM | Report abuse

EJ Dionne's article yesterday talked about throwing more money out there to "save" teachers jobs. What we fail to recognize is that States are required to balance their budgets, the Federal Government doesn't. Let's look at some root causes. The economy is not served by bloated Federal Government Programs. The Federal overhead on these programs dilutes its impact. In addition, Obamacare required the States absorb over $50M in Medicaid increases. If we must, build deficits with Federal spending, let's get the best bang for the buck. Buy things that the States can't afford, but desparately need. Buy Infrastructure (bridges, smart electric grid, nuclear power, railroads). This money goes directly to jobs and relieves pressure on State budgets, so they don't have to cut school teachers. Don't start Programs that will turn into unfunded future mandates.

Posted by: rhino2 | June 15, 2010 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Did anyone check out the link on class size the writer put in the article, it says exactly the opposite what he implies it does. It says that reducing class size DOES IMPROVE OVERALL TEST SCORES. It does say it does not reduce the achievement gap, but does improve the students scores. Since the most important thing is that the best and brightest get educated well enough that society can benefit from their efforts, reducing class size helps on the primary issue. The next issue is that average and below average students get educated well enough to contribute. Again reducing class size does indeed improve test scores across the board, just not as much for the lower end. So it appears the only thing that reducing class size does not help is the achievement gap, which BTW the article says may just be an effect of greater chance of variability in smaller classes.

So it appears smaller class size works very well to improve education, maybe that is why teacher's unions are for it?

Posted by: Muddy_Buddy_2000 | June 15, 2010 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Pardon me, but I forgot to include that New Britain CT is predicting class sizes of 40 students for the upcoming school year yet teachers will still be expected to differentiate instruction so that all learning styles are addressed- like this is even possible in a class any larger than 25 students. Welcome to the future Banana Republic once known as the United States- Education is the ONLY effective societal equalizer.

Posted by: dorsyn | June 14, 2010 8:42 PM | Report abuse

It is the progressive, differentiate, diversity babble that has destroyed our schools and driven up costs and driven down results. I also teach in a "failing" school and we work extremely hard as well as volunteer our time on reading programs in the summer for our students to keep their skills up. But the district I teach in CONTINUES to throw good money after bad for feel good, worthless social programs. At our small school we have THREE certified teachers who never have contact with students, instead gather "data" and run professional development collaborations based on theories. When they actually try to implement their "theories" on real live "children of poverty" they RUN out of the class. I will take 30-35 students BUT we need to make other arrangements for the seriously under performing and behavior problem kids. This year I actually had a child who exposed his private parts on more than one occasion, laid on the floor moaning or spun around in circles continuously. YOU tell me, which kid do you think demanded more of my attention? We also need to look at how we assign students. Lefty thinking has the highest achieving students all mixed up with slower kids. The result? No one gets the most of what they need because we are stretched too thin. Oh, but it is FAIR because everyone gets shortchanged.

Posted by: Michelle111 | June 15, 2010 9:57 AM | Report abuse

The most extreme right wing communities are in states with the worst education systems,and the worst outcomes in the country. Keep people stupid and poor, and tell them they are 'free.' What crap.

Posted by: LeftGuy | June 15, 2010 9:18 AM | Report abuse

I suppose you are talking about those right wing districts of Detroit, Chicago and Washington D.C.? It is thinking like this, totally devoid of any honesty, that condemns our students to mediocrity and bankrupts our budgets.

Posted by: Michelle111 | June 15, 2010 10:01 AM | Report abuse

"[C]ompared to ... bombing ... the cost of education ... is a pittance."

Yes, let's make a long list of things that are cheaper than paying public school teachers (some absurdly high percentage of whom are actually administrators). That'll clinch the argument.

Look, the era of spending by priority passed in 2009. There is no money. Let me say that again. No money. That's why the national debt is rising.

That debt is being bought up by the usual suspects. It will indenture our children to spend their working lives redeeming T-bills owned by the Chinese, Saudis, Wall Street, et al.

To prepare our children for that future, we're spending up to 20 grand a year per kid to teach them to read badly, if at all.

I have no suggestions on how to improve the situation, but throwing money at teacher unions is certain to make it worse.


Posted by: jlewisda | June 15, 2010 10:04 AM | Report abuse

The only solution teachers ever produce is throw more money at the bureaucracy. The states need to learn how to provide for education in their budgets without relying on the Federal government to make up for shortfalls.

Posted by: moebius22 | June 15, 2010 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Lots of interesting discussion about the relative worth of teachers and the teaching profession and how and how much to compenstate them. Not nearly enough discussion about whose responsibility it is to provide the funding required. Education is not a federal responsibility! If my state has been responsible enough to avoid the financial problems that basket cases like California and Illinois find themselves in [by either raising taxes or trimming expenses or a combination of both], why the hell should a penny of my tax $$ go to bail out states that have not taken the hard decisions to get their house in order? All of the various arguments pro and con about how to fund education should be held at the various local levels for solutions. Fight it out at the local level, but don't ask citizens of states and localities who have done the responsible thing to now pay for those who have not!

Posted by: CREEBOLD | June 15, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Just like businesses. When you run low on cash you lay off personnel. Why would federal employees be treated any differently????
But you have to laugh at the tactics - lay of ESSENTIAL personnel before NON-ESSENTIAL. How adolescent!!
And more laughably is the fact the teachers would have to increase their classroon size by ONE student!!! :-)

Posted by: thornegp2626 | June 15, 2010 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Lane has just confirmed the truism that 'ignorance has seldom been an impediment to eloquence'. It is a scandal that Americans have permitted, even at times encouraged, the destruction of a public education system that was the envy of the world just a few decades ago. The cynical promises of continual tax cuts for the rich and those who aspire to be rich has been enough to achieve this and now the perpetrators and those who have benefitted so handsomely from lower taxation have the gall to blame the teachers (and their unions) - whose modest standards of living have done little to encourage today's graduates to flock into our emptying classrooms. Mr Lane, you are a dill, and a self-serving dill at that!

Posted by: ianf46 | June 15, 2010 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Lane has just confirmed the truism that 'ignorance has seldom been an impediment to eloquence'. It is a scandal that Americans have permitted, even at times encouraged, the destruction of a public education system that was the envy of the world just a few decades ago. The cynical promises of continual tax cuts for the rich and those who aspire to be rich has been enough to achieve this and now the perpetrators and those who have benefitted so handsomely from lower taxation have the gall to blame the teachers (and their unions) - whose modest standards of living have done little to encourage today's graduates to flock into our emptying classrooms. Mr Lane, you are a dill, and a self-serving dill at that!

Posted by: ianf46 | June 15, 2010 10:46 AM | Report abuse

I just cannot believe all the criticism leveled at teachers.

Public School Teachers DESERVE: Guaranteed employment for life; Zero accountability; Retirement at least 15 years before the rest of us.

Their unions give money to Democrats. What is it about how the government actually works don't you people get.

Posted by: TECWRITE | June 15, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

I am a baby boomer; never involved in the education field (except as a student); but I am absolutely so appalled at what messages the right talking heads have indoctrinated the believers against teachers, of all things - these overall generalizations that all teachers are union (thereby leftist, democratic losers) clouds your judgements - you had better get a reality grip; teachers are the basis for our children's and country's future - as someone who worked in a juvenile court setting for a decade, I can tell you that the main reason kids don't do well in a school setting is the PARENTS - they either don't give a damn, are too wrapped up in their own problems, or have their kids too involved in extra curricular sports that they don't make them pay attention to what really counts, which is their education - give the damn teachers some credit, for God's sake!!!

Posted by: southernbutnotstupid | June 15, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Check out Business Insider and see how many millions in pension bennies are going to school administrators in Illinois. One guy will get $17 million !!

And the Illinois TRS is 60% underfunded !!

Public sector pensions are out of control. Extend and pretend all you want. The end of the game is near.

Posted by: bandcyuk | June 15, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Lane: teacher unions vote Democrat, so something must be done to break the unions. Besides, teachers (fill in the blank: get paid too much, get pensions, don't turn poor youth into Rhodes scholars, fail to support GOP-think, don't give my kid As, etc).

Lane is sure that he, or any similarly endowed Gingrich or Limbaugh, could raise ghetto reading and math scores, if only the unions disappeared and lackluster drones got the boot. Lower pay or disappearance of job security would not deter faith-based educators. Prayer is, after all, inexpensive.

FYI, a good share of the "non teacher" staff who get fired in the cuts are aides training to become teachers. Most are college grads earning rather modest pay, and many are pursuing MAT degrees or certification, often without any financial help from the districts. To Lane, however, they are simply a dopey number, a sign of "waste."

A "Republican" school system is one that consists of private prep schools or suburban white districts. The GOP has no constituents who would ever work as teachers in a low-score school, except as a "bridge" to law school, a Goldman slot, or a comfy admin post in the burbs. A tidy "Me First" GOP philosophy frays quickly in a job that requires imparting knowledge to scrappy kids for low pay, where the only hope of survival is to drill classes to prepare for standardized tests, and still be rated "substandard."

Posted by: jkoch2 | June 15, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

The education crisis in part appears to be a crisis in accountancy. Here in Colorado, schools receive approximately 60% of property taxes. These taxes have risen considerably over the last few years. The school boards continue to claim that they have to lay off teachers and support staff and close schools because of a budget short fall.
I do not know if layoffs of teachers are matched with reductions in principals and other executive staff but there have been no claims that this is happening so managements are not being reduced apparently.
Another thing I have noticed about school systems who claim to be strapped for money, they continue to build quite luxurious new schools on large grass filled campuses. They continue to support expensive sports programs(no cuts here folks) and fancy new playgrounds are being constructed while school boards continue to lay off teachers and support staff.In addition as a nation we continue the No Child Left Behind tests. These cost a great deal and are not diagnostic. This program could be cut for a great savings which could be used in other ways.
This seems to me to be a question of priorities. So rather than just throwing more money into the problem perhaps it is time to consider how current funding is used first.

Posted by: OhMy | June 15, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

For the good of the children, teachers and school administrators should offer to take pay cuts. For the good of the next generation, teachers and administrators should take cuts in retirement benefits. For the good of the children .......

Posted by: richard36 | June 15, 2010 9:06 AM | Report abuse
__________________
That's already been done in many places. A lot of teachers will be working 2 jobs. That will certainly be good for the children!

Posted by: musiclady | June 15, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Laying off any number of teachers while the population grows by 1.1% each year is counterproductive on any conceivable level. During the baby boom, were there this many complaints about the growth of public schools?

Posted by: jcohen1947 | June 15, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

This is another union payoff. The teachers back when should have taken a business class and figured out that there is not a lot of money in teaching. Plus, few teachers even know the subject matter. If they did America wouldn't be as dumb as it is today. It is not about damage to the precious children. They have already been brainwashed and don't have a clue. Teachers only want the union money. Like Detroit autoworkers, do as little as possible for as much as possible. These kids are now dumber than rocks....and 23 billion won't turn them into sponges. Obama is bribing and conniving...God bless Chicago.

Posted by: fizzyox | June 15, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Michelle, you cite Detroit and DC which are weak programs, but the state of Michigan ranks higher in student outcomes than Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Georgia. Per capita income is also higher in Michigan, and the universities are ranked higher. In Michigan the GOP tries every year to cut school funding, which is supported at the state level, not local property tax level. The Democrats manage to fend them off, even when the GOP has held the Governors' office and both houses in the legislature. What is objectionable in the column today is the crass use of "teacher union" to provide a smoke screen for the dumbing down of the American public, courtesy of the GOP.

Posted by: LeftGuy | June 15, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Threatened layoffs of teachers is just that, a threat. It plays to the public -- oh no! You can't harm the children! Right! You can't and shouldn't! But here's the rub. Administrative staff can be cut out. Why on earth do we need all these extra counselors? Why does K-6 need a full color year book every year? Nice, but really not necessary. How much does this cost, really?? Whoever shouts out "teacher layoffs" is just kicking dust to cover where the real layoffs should begin. If you have children in school, just look around inside that school and count the number of people who aren't in the classroom actually teaching your children. What are they REALLY doing??

Posted by: 4everamazed | June 15, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

I was a teacher for 11 years but cannot teach where I live. There is no better job in the world than teaching kids to think for themselves and give them the techniques of learning.

It is a shame that unions are doing such damage to the profession and to the reputation of many many good people.

Are there any statistics comparing density of unionization and school results? We really should know.

After the highly paid teachers in a underperforming school lost their jobs because they refused to give 20 minutes of their time and the ACORN, teacher union paid, mobs demostrated against charter schools, I think we need to weaken unions by forcing them to be absolutely transparent.

What other Saul Alisnky type tricks does Obama have up his sleeve? ... he is becoming dangerous.

Posted by: sally62 | June 15, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

This is really about the hatred of the right for education and educators, because the right hates that kids are exposed to many ideas--including those conservatives find objectionable--like sharing is good, 3+3=6, Spanish is worth learning, there are other religions than Christianity, and god forbid, there is scientific evidence for evolution! Teachers are overworked and underpaid, and losing ground will hurt the education of children. Republicans don't care about public education because the rich ones send their kids to private school and the poor ones homeschool. They do care when the can't hire anyone educated for their menial big box stores, but then they can talk out of both sides of their mouths about immigration. It's bad, except that they HAVE to hire foreign workers. Better to have uneducated, nonthinking people who can be convinced to vote for the rich Republicans who are busily screwing them over. The right wants a bunch of rote-thinking robots who have no idea how to examine evidence or learn to think for themselves. So don't try to make it about money--it's just another cog in the right's war against thinking.

Posted by: wd1214 | June 15, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

The Democrats manage to fend them off, even when the GOP has held the Governors' office and both houses in the legislature. What is objectionable in the column today is the crass use of "teacher union" to provide a smoke screen for the dumbing down of the American public, courtesy of the GOP.

Posted by: LeftGuy | June 15, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

You are talking about Michigan? Jennifer Granhom's Michigan? Oh no, we refuse to take credit for her. When are you guys going to take credit where it is due? NO, every major city in the US has had majority Democratic rule and union influence, plus BILLIONS of aid programs, to what outcome? You can "overlook" Detroit, where Democrats have destroyed a once thriving city, what about Lansing? Michigan is a prime example of a BEAUTIFUL state with natural resources to spare that has been destroyed by leftists and union goons. My husband and I both lived in Michigan during the "glory days" of the Carter administration and Michigan was dying then. RIP

Posted by: Michelle111 | June 15, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: massmedia77

How arrogant of this article to presume that people should be okay with 100,000 Americans losing their jobs.

How arrogant that government workers are demanding more and more from taxpayers and are unwilling to make any sacrifices or pitch in. While those not in government are losing jobs, wondering if they are going to lose their job and so on these pigs at the trough are demanding pay increases, more benifits and basicaly saying F-U to the public. Well guess what folks the public has had enough. New Jersey is the first of many. The public employees got to greedy and now it is catching up to them.

Posted by: Pilot1 | June 15, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

NOT A LONG-TERM PROBLEM FOR TEACHERS!

Perhaps no one is paying attention, but the NUMBER of teachers is about to decline, NOT from firings, but from retirements.

The huge majority of teachers, Professors, administrators, are "Baby Boomers" who for the next 30 years are now commencing to retire from the classrooms, schools, colleges, which over time will leave a much larger HOLE in the system as there will not be enough replacements.

Another example lies in the Medical Profession whereby 20% of the nation's doctors report that they will be retiring within the next FIVE YEARS! Who will replace them? No one.

Those who are claiming that the "sky is falling" for a lack of money for education, are less than honest, when they KNOW that ALL of the professions, including those in education, are about to experience a huge vacancy rate as the "Boomers" make for the exits, while there are fewer persons educated to be IN those professions to replace them.

Based on that EMPIRICAL data, THAT is the problem that should be addressed, not the subsidy of a "Trojan Horse" of lack of funding that some are offering as reality.

Posted by: gglenc | June 15, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

NOT A LONG-TERM PROBLEM FOR TEACHERS!

Perhaps no one is paying attention, but the NUMBER of teachers is about to decline, NOT from firings, but from retirements.

The huge majority of teachers, Professors, administrators, are "Baby Boomers" who for the next 30 years are now commencing to retire from the classrooms, schools, colleges, which over time will leave a much larger HOLE in the system as there will not be enough replacements.

Another example lies in the Medical Profession whereby 20% of the nation's doctors report that they will be retiring within the next FIVE YEARS! Who will replace them? No one.

Those who are claiming that the "sky is falling" for a lack of money for education, are less than honest, when they KNOW that ALL of the professions, including those in education, are about to experience a huge vacancy rate as the "Boomers" make for the exits, while there are fewer persons educated to be IN those professions to replace them.

Based on that EMPIRICAL data, THAT is the problem that should be addressed, not the subsidy of a "Trojan Horse" of lack of funding that some are offering as reality.

Posted by: gglenc | June 15, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: massmedia77

How arrogant of this article to presume that people should be okay with 100,000 Americans losing their jobs.

I don't care if their 100,000 janitors, no one else needs to lose their job. People have kids to feed....this is not some numbers game, these are real lives being affected.

That's like someone reporting that 300,000 Post writers are going to lose their jobs and then some arrogant prong opines, "Naw, it's only 100,000 of em...what's the big deal? Don't fall for the hype"

Jerk...it's easy to talk when you're not the one losing your livelihood.

* * * * *
Hey massmedia77,

I've got a typewriter repair business with 10 employees that will shut down next week if I don't get a loan for a $1,000,000. These 10 employees are real people with real lives and kids to feed.

Since you don't care if teachers or janitors who are effected by finances, would you please lend me $1,000,000 EVEN if you have to borrow the money and pay interest on the funds that you borrow.

You loan will keep these 10 people employed and with health insurance.

If you don't give me this loan than you are as arrogant as you accuse Mr. Lane of being. C'mon now .... my emmployees are counting on you.

Posted by: onehanded | June 15, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

I don't know about the rest of the country, but here in my part of Virginia the starting salary for a teacher fresh out of college with a BA is $44,389 and maxes out at $110,732 with a PHD and many years experience on the job. Not shabby, especially when you consider the fringe benefits. But, it's certainly not excessive for our fairly high cost area.

The real budget breaker is the benefits. A Virginia teacher can retire after 30 years as young as 50 - at half their final salary. Plus the county has a supplemental retirement (that the teacher's contribute to) that bumps that up to a total of 75%. Paying retired teachers 75% for 30 or 40 years of retirement it eventually going to wind up like social security - a very large tax albatross around the necks of our children. Yeah, remember them? The very children the teachers are sacrificing to educate.

I don't want to see any American out of work - but the administration's pouring money into thinks like this isn't even putting a finger in the dike. It's a bandaid at best that will have to be reapplied again and again. We need to fix the structural problems to get new jobs created. Jobs that will generate revenue for the states to pay their own bills.

Posted by: m1903a4 | June 15, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

m1903a4 wrote: The real budget breaker is the benefits. A Virginia teacher can retire after 30 years as young as 50 - at half their final salary. Plus the county has a supplemental retirement (that the teacher's contribute to) that bumps that up to a total of 75%. Paying retired teachers 75% for 30 or 40 years of retirement it eventually going to wind up like social security - a very large tax albatross around the necks of our children. Yeah, remember them? The very children the teachers are sacrificing to educate.
____________________
This is not the case everywhere. My Maryland retirement, which I pay into, will pay me about 38% of my salary upon retirement at age 62 with 40 years on the job. Please don't generalize.

Posted by: musiclady | June 15, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Lots of comments from folks who think they know what it's like to do the work of a teacher. Oh, just teach better. Oh, they are overpaid and have exorbitant benefits. Teachers do have it good in this economy, but they surely don't live lavish lifestyles. Go talk to the boomer collecting a pension and social security. Go talk to the CEO who got a golden parachute. Look at reality.

Maybe you were a student for 13 plus years of your life; that doesn't mean you know what it's like to look at the dynamics of a classroom from an adult's educational perspective. Chances are you made it difficult for a teacher to do their job at some point in your life; I know I did.

Meet some of the kids; ask them about their lives. Talk to teachers and ask them about how they go above and beyond to help their students. Then come back and tell me that teachers are the biggest group of whiners out there.

The fact of the matter is that teachers are more educated than they have ever been and students are performing better than they ever have. Do the research.

This lousy economy has the 99% of Americans that should be united, fighting each other for the crumbs that the 1% is willing to throw us so we don't end up in the streets. This public animosity against teachers didn't exist before the financial meltdown, at least not to this extent.

Lots of uninformed opinions.

Posted by: stevendphoto | June 15, 2010 2:46 PM | Report abuse

The tone of many of the comments here bothers me. So many people think that teachers "only work 180 days of the year." In one sense, that's true. In another sense, good teachers work way more than forty hours a week. They go to football games, sponsor clubs, hold parent/teacher conferences, do fund raisers, create worksheets, make out tests, grade papers etc. How many professionals do you know who are willing to work overtime without getting paid for it? How many professionals have to buy their own supplies for work? Granted, not all teachers pay for classroom supplies from their own pockets, but many do.

That said, throwing money at the problem will not guarantee success. Our schools could stand a drastic re-organization, from top to bottom. Classroom expenses should come first. Some schools don't have textbooks, because there's not enough money in the budget for them. After classroom needs have been met, then we need libraries, complete with computers and internet access. And custodians. And cafeteria workers. And secretaries. And guidance counselors.

Posted by: RussellWoolard | June 15, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Very good article. Are you sure you work for the Washington Post?

Posted by: avatar666 | June 15, 2010 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Let the PTA determine what cuts to make and see different values. Currently. pols consult a bloated cadre of administrators, the e4xperts who are not experts and are ompletely dispensible. Teachers and parents are the real experts.

States should cut their own bureaucracies and let the money go to the classroom.

Posted by: clairesolt | June 15, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Seems to me that the one group of people that are the least responsible (collectively, at any rate) for the sorry state of fiscal affairs in all those bankrupt states is the one group being asked to foot the bill to prop those states up -- the taxpayer.

All you wounded and insulted teachers and cops and firefighters on these comment pages -- this isn't about you, or how much (or how little) you're paid, or how much (or how little) your sacrifices are appreciated. Heck, let's assume for the sake of discussion that you're all great.

This is about your unions -- the folks in charge, who haven't taught a child or put out a fire in a long time (if ever). It's about how they exert political pressure to extract as much as they can get from state and local governments, because that's what unions do: look out for their members.

This is about state and local governments that can't (or won't) say No, figuring that they can always issue more bonds, or raise more taxes and fees, or get a bailout from Washington. And if anyone threatens to turn off the spigot, they and their union bosses can trot out sob stories about how many good teachers and cops will have to be laid off. (Question: if teachers and cops are so critical that we can't afford even to reduce their salaries, aren't they critical enough for those state and local governments to put them all the way at the back of the line when looking for places to save money?).

When public sector employees and other government programs have taken the same relative hit -- in dollars and in personnel -- that the rest of the country has had to absorb, I'll think about opening my wallet.

Posted by: dcpost1 | June 15, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

"To be sure, the president and his advisers argue that the bill would pay for itself in part"....

Didn't he say the same thing about Health Care Reform? Not that I don't think teachers should be paid a fair salary, but at some point soon, spending all this money without regard for the consequences is going to put everyone out of work.

Posted by: avatar666 | June 15, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Lane, it is easy to be complacent about other people losing jobs when you think that yours is secure. Let's hope that your stocks keep rising while others lose jobs and homes.

Posted by: Desertstraw | June 15, 2010 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Any money spent for Jobs legislation should be in Creating and not just Preserving Jobs. If states have dedicated it’s not in their interest to raise local taxes enough to support some Teachers or other state workers it’s not the federal governments burden to keep pouring Billions down a limitless well. We need to invest in Creating Jobs that will provide the Tax revenue to support State workers and jobs.

We must end Bush era $2 Trillion in tax cuts for the most wealthy and Tax Imported Oil and Large Scale Oil, Coal and Livestock Polluters. While US soldiers have sacrificed all serving in the Middle East those who are not putting their lives on the line can at least contribute more to new Clean Energy Job creation legislation (as opposed to just state employment job preservation, and higher Medicaid payments to doctors).

Take Virginia for example. VA workers receive $118 Billion a year in Government spending but the state refuses to raise taxes enough to pay for basic infrastructure improvements. Instead it fights for even more government handouts while complaining about government regulations that Preserves, Conserves and Protects people and resources. The Wealthiest Hypocrites love to Complain while others are Starving or Fighting in the Middle East.

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/local-breaking-news/virginia/new-federal-funds-for-va-schoo.html

Virginia is getting another $324.6 million in stimulus funds for public education.
The award, announced June 2nd 2010 by Democratic Sens. Jim Webb and Mark Warner, brings Virginia's total stimulus funding for public education to more than $2 billion.

Virginia's love-hate relationship with federal spending

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/05/05/AR2010050505205.html

Posted by: liveride | June 15, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

I want to step back from the discussion of teachers and examine the macroeconomic question:
"Let's be serious. This $23 billion bill -- 15 hundredths of one percent of the United States’ $14.6 trillion economy -- is not enough, all by itself, to bankrupt the nation. But it is also too paltry to jump-start the giant economy."

As stimulus spending goes, transferring money to the states so they don't lay off existing employees has one of the better paybacks. (See the CBO report from last fall that last year's stimulus bill was working as expected or the Business Week chart a couple of issues ago for support of this statement.) While the $50 billion that President Obama wants to transfer to the states is not a huge amount, it might be the tipping point on where the economy goes from here.

There were strong private sector jobs gains in March and April of this year, as contrasted to the 779,000 jobs lost in January 2009 and the eight million jobs lost since the current recession began in December 2007. However, the combination of the Iceland volcano, the European debt issues and the gulf oil spill have combined to weaken the recovery. Large numbers of domestic housing foreclosures also hang over this economy. Few private sector jobs were added in May; retail demand was weak. We are at risk of a double dip recession.

That is why this spending is important. It may well be necessary to save the recovery. Not funding this may be the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back, sending us into another downward spiral, i.e. a double dip recession.

The cynic in me wonders whether this isn't what the Republicans want to have happen. If we are in the middle of a strong recovery come November, Republican political gains will be weaker. However, if the recovery falters, the Republicans may successfully blame the current administration and Democrats generally, even if the Republican's obstructionist policies caused the faltering of the recovery.

I think columns like this may well be good politics, but they are terrible economic policy.


Posted by: stichmo | June 15, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Lane insists that the 300,000 job figure is not to be believed. We should instead believe his estimate of 100,000 jobs lost.

It's fair to ask, where exactly does this estimate of 100,000 jobs come from? A reliable expert? No. An econometric study? No. A statistical model? No. A leading publication? No.

In fact,it comes from the icky, smelly, pimply derriere of Mr Lane, from whence he pulled this absurd number. The figure of 100,000 jobs comes from absolutely nowhere except Mr. Lane's capacity for conjecture. That's why this dim-witted, mediocre partisan shill didn't bother to cite a reference for it.

Meanwhile, the 300,000 number is supported by Nobel Prize winning economists. Exactly zero Nobel laureates have endorsed an estimate anywhere close to 100,000 jobs.

Conservatives never seem to figure out that wishing something doesn't make it true. They also never sem to figure out that WaPo readers are a lot smarter than Fox viewers and the tin foil hat crowd.

We see through you losers, Mr. Lane included, and your pathetic little mindless shtick.

Posted by: SkyBeaver | June 15, 2010 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Will someone please think of the children?
Helen Lovejoy

Posted by: Ted14 | June 15, 2010 5:33 PM | Report abuse

It would seem the fair thing would be to not provide yet another "across the board" bailout, but to force all state and local governments to make the same difficult choices. My county's school board was faced with the same difficult choices that many districts nationwide are facing this year, but instead of taking the easy way out and hoping for another federal bailout, our elected officials responded to local voter input and raised taxes. It doesn't seem fair that some locales are willing to work within their own means and make difficult choices while others pass the buck on necessary decisions and hope for a bailout. Why should I have to take the bitter medicine when others aren't willing to do the same?

Posted by: JCfromVA | June 15, 2010 5:37 PM | Report abuse

It's offical. Teachers are the biggest bunch of whining idiots in the world.

"BUT WE NEED THE 23 BILLION", yeah you need 23 billion, but couldn't spare 21 million to continue the DC scholarship program. Puh-lease.

"WE ARE UNDERFUNDED" what freaking planet do you live on. DC public schools have more money than any other system in the country. The teachers are in the top 3 in pay and the system is a complete disaster (2nd worst in the nation?).

"DON'T YOU CARE ABOUT THE CHILDREN" oh man, you got me. Yep, everyday I wake up and wish for the worst for the children. I completely despise all children. My children, other peoples children, even the children of children. I could care less about your intentions, what I do care about are your results (how are those doing by the way?).

"I WORK HARD" Really, cause so do the rest of us, and we don't get tenure after 2 years, pensions, rubber rooms, and 3 months off. In fact, you know who else works hard? The lower income minority parents of the children you have been "socially promoting" for 2 generations viturally insuring bad job prospects. Sweet, keep up the hard work.

"UNIONS PROTECT TEACHERS" B-S! Unions protect bad teachers. Good teachers don't need protection.

"I'M NOT PAID ENOUGH" Lets do a little Q&A. Who gets paid more, a professor at a CC or a professor at Harvard? Easy right (HARVARD). Who gets paid more, a teacher at DC Public High or a teacher at Gonzaga? Answer DC Public High, and please don't tell me rich Democrats pay to send their kids to Gonzaga for a sub-standard education.

"I HAVE A MASTER'S DEGREE" uh, lets see, how can i say this gently. A master's in education in the job market has about the same relative value as a bucket full of warm hampster vomit.

Frankly I could care less about the 23 billion. The problem is that it does nothing to put pressure on the public monoploy to reform. After 50 years of failing the very children public education was set up to help (thats poor inter-city children) it's still all about yourselves. Bravo!

Mark my words. The public education monoploy will be the defining civil rights struggle of this country's near future.

Posted by: MurphyBush | June 15, 2010 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Oh my God, there is a blogger at the Washington Post that actually makes some sense! Did I accidentally click on a link to some sort of alternative universe, or is this some sort of joke? An accident, perhaps? If not, you'd better plan for alternative employment Mr. Lane, you'll be the first to go when Obama's "newspaper stimulus" arrives.

Posted by: pijacobsen | June 15, 2010 6:10 PM | Report abuse

How arrogant that government workers are demanding more and more from taxpayers and are unwilling to make any sacrifices or pitch in. While those not in government are losing jobs, wondering if they are going to lose their job and so on these pigs at the trough are demanding pay increases, more benifits and basicaly saying F-U to the public. Well guess what folks the public has had enough. New Jersey is the first of many. The public employees got to greedy and now it is catching up to them.
----------
Teachers have made and continue to make sacrifices. Calling others "pigs at the trough" is beyond rude.

I wonder if you noticed that there are a number of MCPS in the top 100?

By the way, it's "too" greedy, and "basically". Wouldn't want you to think I wasn't doing my job.

Posted by: nunovyerbizness1 | June 15, 2010 6:56 PM | Report abuse

Oops, almost forgot: "benefits", not "benifits".

Posted by: nunovyerbizness1 | June 15, 2010 6:58 PM | Report abuse

Those that are complaining that teachers aren't willing to "sacrifice" when people in the private sector are losing jobs seem to forget that many teachers have spouses who have lost jobs. We're taxpayers, too, and are affected by the recession just as much as anyone else. Most teachers cannot support their families on their salaries alone.

Posted by: d_minier | June 15, 2010 7:31 PM | Report abuse

MurphyBush wrote: "UNIONS PROTECT TEACHERS" B-S! Unions protect bad teachers. Good teachers don't need protection.
_______________________
I suppose if you repeat something often enough, it becomes a fact. Sadly that is what people think about unions. Unions to not protect bad teachers. They simply guarantee due process when it comes to firing decisions. Good teachers do need protection. If you don't think so, then you've clearly never worked in a public school. Teachers are harassed over things that have absolutely nothing to do with their performance in the classroom. That is one of the reasons unions formed in the firsts place.

Posted by: musiclady | June 15, 2010 8:00 PM | Report abuse

I love these types of articles. This article and the ones about government employees making more than private sector employees take interesting stands. The below paragraph in particular illustrates what I find amazing:

"Indeed, given that the unemployment rate among health and education workers is only half that of the work force as a whole, you could argue that it’s the teachers’ turn to absorb some of the pain that they have been spared to date."

Instead of questioning why it is teachers are not experiencing the same unemployment rate as the rest of the workers in this country, why aren't we asking why the wall street firms that caused the economic crisis feeling similar pain to the rest of us? Instead of trying to take away federal compensation rates for employeees, why don't we talk about the fact that CEO salaries are at the HIGHEST level in history, making 400 to 500 times the average employee in their company when, over the same time period the CEO salaries have grown, their employees wages have remained stagnant or declined when you factor in inflation.

I worked in government for awhile, I know how they get their raises over time, they are never huge, but they are relatively consistent. When I worked in government pay was considerably less than the private sector, particularly in opportunity for growth. What is going on in the private sector where that salary growth is declining so rapidly? Particularly given that CEO and executive salaries are growing so rapidly.

Posted by: donaldbraden | June 15, 2010 8:02 PM | Report abuse

I did not go into teaching to get rich; I was answering a calling. I have the education, the skills, and the experience to do it, and I do it very well, thank you.
I am absolutely fed up with people calling me lazy, stupid, and selfish.

The union I belong to encourages best practices, continuing education, and networking so that teachers all over the country, state, and county can learn from the successes of others (which the public rarely hears about). They help inspire experienced teachers in danger of burn-out and assist new teachers in their transitions to a new and increasingly complex career.

Teachers, like any other public employees, pay part of their own salaries and still help foot the bill when taxes increase. We're not immune. This year, my modest salary was frozen for the third year in a row, and any hope for even the tiniest COLA was trashed. My insurance rates keep going up just like anyone else's, and the county is obviously phasing out our retirement benefits while those on the outside keep complaining about our big fat cushy jobs and supposedly omnipotent unions. I do have some smart retirement investments going on outside of the state plan--I have to--but even then, I don't have much to put in them in the first place. Luckily for me, my very supportive husband (who took 5 1/2 years to get his bachelor's because of lousy grades) makes twice what I do. Still, I plan to work until I'm 65, and I'm not expecting a workable amount of Medicaid, Medicare, or Social Security money to be there when I do retire.

Teachers do not exist in a vacuum. Many of us know all too well how tough life is in the private sector--where do you think our other family members work?! If our spouses get laid off, who do you think they depend on to pay the bills? When gas prices rise, when property values plummet, or when we have to take up two jobs to pay off our own tuition, do you think we don't see or feel the financial pain, too? When our students' parents can't afford new clothes for their growing children or a doctor's visit for a kid with pneumonia, do you think we don't see that or we don't care? Clueless.

I worked for years teaching at-risk infants and toddlers for 50 weeks each year, and I currently teach a month and a half during the summer for my special ed students who actually need more than that. I'd be fine with a longer year, but all the people asking us to work a full year are the same ones who want the school systems to get less, so what am I supposed to do?

Our nation's financial problems are a disaster, but you're a fool if you think the teachers are to blame.

Posted by: EdgewoodVA | June 15, 2010 8:11 PM | Report abuse

Edgewood, this post is excellent. Thank you for so beautifully expressing the concerns of so many of us!

Posted by: d_minier | June 15, 2010 8:16 PM | Report abuse

Excellent article! What it says is that Obama and the Democrats want another multi-billion dollar payoff for their special interests. The teach unions and the rest of the public employee unions, because if this was explained correctly that's where any excess money would go! As for class size I was part of the baby boom. I attended public schools with classroom sizes in the 60s that were around 30-35 students per teacher, with no army of teacher helpers, or administrators, or security guards hanging around to fail at keeping order. The massive corrupt spending and debt has to end. If the Democrats want to blow $25-50 billion tell them to fix bridges and roads.

Posted by: valwayne | June 15, 2010 8:22 PM | Report abuse

You don't need to cut the number of teachers. Just decide how much you need to cut the budget and then use that percentage to cut the salaries and pensions of public employees. Mandate public employees work until 65 like SS receipients and that ends the budget crisis and the need to layoff teachers

Posted by: wbindner | June 15, 2010 8:23 PM | Report abuse

Lane, you actually don't work for a living.

All you do is wipe your butt and turn it into your editor, who deciphers the skid marks you call an editorial.

Posted by: veerle1 | June 15, 2010 9:14 PM | Report abuse

Excellent article! What it says is that Obama and the Democrats want another multi-billion dollar payoff for their special interests. The teach unions and the rest of the public employee unions, because if this was explained correctly that's where any excess money would go! As for class size I was part of the baby boom. I attended public schools with classroom sizes in the 60s that were around 30-35 students per teacher, with no army of teacher helpers, or administrators, or security guards hanging around to fail at keeping order. The massive corrupt spending and debt has to end. If the Democrats want to blow $25-50 billion tell them to fix bridges and roads.

Posted by: valwayne
-----
Do tell. Did your classes include students with autism? Downs syndrome? Did it include students who didn't speak English? Did students bring weapons to school? Were drugs and gangs prevalent?

Just because you were a student, it doesn't mean you have learned a thing. Schools today bear no resemblance to the schools of the mid-century, as you would know if you ever set foot inside a classroom. It's obvious you haven't done so since you were a kid.

Posted by: nunovyerbizness1 | June 15, 2010 9:32 PM | Report abuse

Do tell. Did your classes include students with autism? Downs syndrome? Did it include students who didn't speak English? Did students bring weapons to school? Were drugs and gangs prevalent?

Just because you were a student, it doesn't mean you have learned a thing. Schools today bear no resemblance to the schools of the mid-century, as you would know if you ever set foot inside a classroom. It's obvious you haven't done so since you were a kid.

Posted by: nunovyerbizness1 | June 15, 2010 9:32 PM | Report abuse


This is where my district and union are co-conspirators to deny equal access to all. By failing to provide for the children with severe emotional and learning disabilities, instead plunking them in a regular classroom, everyone gets shortchanged. Don't tell me about the Americans with Disabilities Act. I am a Special Ed. teacher with a beloved grandchild with Down Syndrome. It is needlessly cruel to ALL involved to force some of these kids to conform to a rigid idea of "equality" by being in a classroom where they can't behave and teachers are forced to "differentiate to meet the needs of all learners". Equality alright, everyone is cheated. But no administrator, school board or union would dare to lobby that while inclusion is an ideal, it has been a big failure.

Posted by: Michelle111 | June 15, 2010 10:04 PM | Report abuse

You don't need to cut the number of teachers. Just decide how much you need to cut the budget and then use that percentage to cut the salaries and pensions of public employees. Mandate public employees work until 65 like SS receipients and that ends the budget crisis and the need to layoff teachers

Posted by: wbindner | June 15, 2010 8:23 PM
_________________________________
Did you volunteer to have your salary cut as well?
For what it's worth--many public employees already work until they are 65

The irony is that many of the "reformers" don't want older, more experienced teachers

They would rather have TFA candidates who stay for 2 years then quit--thus having a revolving door

(apologies for the lack of periods as my period key stopped working)

Posted by: musiclady | June 15, 2010 10:21 PM | Report abuse

I'm an long time teacher in a right to work state. That translates into no unions. I will tell you that the Americans with Disabilities Act has done more to impact the average classroom and the average teacher than most people realize. First, any child with any learning disability comes with a sheaf of paperwork that must be filled out. They must have individually designed lessons as outlined by their IEP. But the ADHD kids and the kid with dyslexia are the tip of the iceberg. Those kids can be easily taught using best practices.

The problems come when you have severely disabled students who are put in classes in order to "enrich" their curriculum. Very often this translates into giving the special ed teachers a planning period and even more often this means teaching a child who is non-verbal, autistic, does not read or write without the assistance of an aide. These children and their parents use the concept of Least Restrictive Environment as a tool to get what they want even when the child is totally incapable of doing low standard work.

Imagine a class of 32 students. Five have BIP's-Behavioral Improvement Plans-which usually means they have either visited Alternative School or Juvey. In addition you have four kids that are 504-meaning ADD or ADHD that may or may not be getting needed medication or therapy. In addition throw in a child in a wheelchair that has Tourettes, to the delight of the rest of the class. Then you have the rest of the kids who either figure this is a class best to be avoided in the future or that cringe to avoid being insulted, verbally assaulted or humiliated by other students. This is not a fantasy, this was my third period class the year before last. And I work in a fairly affluent suburban district.

So what is the solution? First of all, there are entire layers of administration that exist just to serve state and federal programs within the district. Second, rework the education system where severely disabled student have a central location where they can get the services they need. This delusional idea that these children benefit from sitting in a room with other children when they cannot even communicate needs to end. It's a Hollywood construct.

But the bottom line is that having larger classes means more students with problems will go without the attention they need because even the best teacher in the world can only work so many hours in a day. I work for less than some retail managers. The idea that "I get summer off" is laughable as I have to take all sorts of classes in order to be able to continue teaching AP and advanced programs. My district doesn't pay for this. They consider it part of my "professional responsibility," which covers a multitude of things I do including working nights, working weekends, sponsoring student clubs and attending various meetings. So how much more should I give. If I am cut, do I not bleed?

Posted by: TruBluTopaz | June 15, 2010 10:21 PM | Report abuse

Schoolmarms are way overpaid. Cut their salaries and pensions. In the New York/New Jersey metro they top out at $100,000 or more. Then they retire at age 55 on 75% salary ($75,000). In contrast I a PhD scientist at one of the leading institutions, 15 years in my field am making $62,000 with no pension.

Posted by: washpost35 | June 15, 2010 11:50 PM | Report abuse

The poster who suggested that students with disabilities can not compete effectively for the Nobel prizes ignores the realities of achievement. Who is more likely to read well, a star basketball player or a person with a limp? In some ways, having a disability adds to a child's maturity, promoting a broad view.

Posted by: pptcmember | June 15, 2010 11:58 PM | Report abuse

I am a teacher who has problems with the teacher's union myself. But come on, this is nothing but an anti teacher piece disguised as journalism. To begin with, the numbers you quote are ridiculous and completely inaccurate for so many obvious reasons.

It is amazing to me how people love to show anger towards teachers. Let's get the facts straight. Teachers in my school district (the largest in the country), LA Unified have not had a cost of living increase (muchless a raise) in years. Teachers have agreed to five furlough days this year, and seven next year. What more should they do? Work for free? Go on welfare to support their families. There are teachers at my school who work evening jobs to support their families. None of the teachers I know can afford to buy a home. We all rent. Yet we are somehow doing so well, we need to sacrifice more.

Is the author aware that average class sizes (in nonspecial education classes) in many urban school districts is in the mid to high 30s? I challenge you to come teach a group of 35 thirteen year old students (multiplied times five or six periods, depending on the school). That means potentially OVER 200 students every day. And by the way, in many studies class sizes HAVE been shown to make a difference. I can tell you firsthand that smaller classes are more intimate and students are happier. But apparently test scores are all that matter to people with limited views of the world and what is important.

It seems to me the whiner here is you.

I spend so many extra hours preparing every week, that if you figured out an hourly salary, it would be miniscule. Every year I am in danger of being laid off. Every year my students have to deal with teachers coming and going because of layoffs. This creates a lack of continuity and an inability of our school to build on what works.

Posted by: Cherubic | June 16, 2010 12:11 AM | Report abuse

twm1 wrote:
"Here is a study by a respected independent research organization that fully documents the negative consequences for education of the budget problems now being confronted by states and localities.

http://www.cbpp.org/files/4-19-10sfp.pdf"

=============================
Please, do yourself (and your credibility) a BIG favor and don't present www.cbpp.org as a non-biased "independent research organization". If you truly believe that's so, it only indicates yet another problem with the current educational system.

Posted by: OttoDog | June 16, 2010 12:24 AM | Report abuse

I sit on several Site Councils at local schools and this is spot on. The Unions are running the red flag up for scare tactics. Reduced funding is being blamed and the fear mongering for our children is immense. Of the 142 that supposedly received Pink Slips over 80% of them were re-hired by the end of the year. They might end up at different schools, but they didn't lose their jobs.
The Unions are lost in the mess. They are the one s that are 1) getting teachers fired,and 2) making it impossible for the funding to actually support the teaching of our kids. We need to dump these unions or distinctlty reduce their impact on the teaching of my kids.

Posted by: foot0108 | June 16, 2010 2:16 AM | Report abuse

I agree with everything in this column, but I'd add a couple of other points. Over the last 30 or 40 years, nearly every year, the number of teachers per student has increased, the number of administrators per teacher has increased, and the salaries and benefits of said teachers and administrators have increased faster than those of the taxpayers that support them. This situation is unsustainable. In my state, it has gotten to the point where personnel costs (and I don't mean just teachers) are cannibalizing the rest of the municipal budgets. It is now common for students to have to pay to participate in extracurricular activities, because personnel raises eat more than the entire budget increase each year.

I don't want to inflict pain on teachers, but I do want all public employees to face the economic realities - the number of public employees, and the generosity of their compensation, is unsustainable and must be reduced.

Posted by: CTObserver | June 16, 2010 7:01 AM | Report abuse


The poster who suggested that students with disabilities can not compete effectively for the Nobel prizes ignores the realities of achievement. Who is more likely to read well, a star basketball player or a person with a limp? In some ways, having a disability adds to a child's maturity, promoting a broad view.

Posted by: pptcmember | June 15, 2010 11:58 PM | Report abuse

Totally disingenuous to compare a child with a limp to the extreme emotional and behavioral problems mainstreamed in classrooms today. I have had children who roll on the floor and moan for hours on end, expose their private parts, spit, bite, and slap other children, bang their heads and spin constantly until they fall on the floor in exhaustion. All it takes is one of these children to undermine the learning for EVERYONE else, including the children who are struggling to learn English, are slower learners or have been socially promoted even though they have not met even a basic understanding of previous benchmarks. Rare you think? Hardly.


Posted by: Michelle111 | June 16, 2010 8:37 AM | Report abuse

I note with interest that most of the comments concentrate on pupil teacher ratio. This is important. However, if you increase the class size from 20 to 22, you reduce your teacher numbers and compensation budget by as much as 10%!!!(more likely 5% to 7%). This means that such a class size increase could easily reduce 100,000 to 200,000 teachers nationwide.

Second, and more important, is the number of teachers who will "lose" their jobs. I am the person who issued teacher layoff notices for about 30 years. Usually, by State Statute, layoff notices are issued to every teacher who would stand the slightest possibility of being laid off. Also, such notices are frequently sent to every non-tenured teacher. This is required or the teacher can't be laid off.
In a typical year, in a District of 300+ teachers, layoff notices were sent to as many as 40 teachers. Once the budget is settled and retirements are known, usually all but a very few teachers are recalled.

Posted by: nkbay990 | June 16, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

A comment to McDyess - Before you talk about the ability to fire tenured teachers, try it! I was involved in egotiating teacher contracts and attempting to terminate the employment of tenured teachers, including one who used ethnic and sexist slurs in the classroom. Typically, it could take as much as $100 to $200,000 and up to 3 to 5 years. During this period, frequently the teacher is still in the classroom (too bad, kids) or on Paid Leave. You tell me how many school districts are in the position to afford this.

Posted by: nkbay990 | June 16, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

The hatred focused on people with disabilities seen here is shocking, though it is likely more blowing off steam than the reality of the service you actually provide. I hope it is just some steam. You've achieved a certain shock value in writing here that you have "wheelchairs with Tourette's" instead "students in wheelchairs with Tourette's."

In case you have not already guessed, someone very close to me has a limp, and has had IEPs, 504s, been in self-contained clasrooms, mainstream classroom, you name it. At age 3, she was summarily expelled in the first week of school from pre-k for the high crime of making a mark on the carpet with a marker the school provided. To our good fortune, her parents shook the dust off their shoes and moved on the the next school, where she was well educated instead.

By age 13, she scorded 1540 on her SATs, math/verbal, good enough for entry into the best universities in the land. Did the several hours the school spent forming a 504 plan this year that allowed her a separate set of books for home and school impose a huge burden on the system? Relative to her achievement, I contend that our system can work. In many cases, it simply brought a second teacher into the mainstream clasroom, who was widely utilized. That teacher's achievement has also been well recognized, and he is now a highly compensated administrator.

For some of you who are now in special ed in a public school system, you might want to consider moving to private schools that are less professional in their approach. There, obviously you can get away with expelling whatever student has an appearance that displeases you. Those schools often more closely implement a "pick and choose" system where you can reject problem / different children, kicking them to the curb. I'm not saying that you have no success in expelling children with autism, but that your zeal to segragate will be better tolerated by your employers / fellow club members.

Posted by: pptcmember | June 16, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Your outrage is somewhat puzzling. I didn't see anyone showing disregard for those with disabilities. What I do see is that many here compare the classrooms they grew up in with those of today. There is no valid comparison. Teachers in the 50s and 60s could easily handle classes of 30 or more because students with disabilities were not included. Now they are. That isn't a judgment. It's a fact. And the fact is that students with disabilities do require more individual help. If students with physical, mental, and emotional or psychiatric disabilities are going to be included in all classes, then those classes must either be smaller or the students in them will be affected by the increased needs of the students who have special needs.

What about this isn't true?

Posted by: nunovyerbizness1 | June 16, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

TruBlue stated:magine a class of 32 students. Five have BIP's-Behavioral Improvement Plans-which usually means they have either visited Alternative School or Juvey. In addition you have four kids that are 504-meaning ADD or ADHD that may or may not be getting needed medication or therapy. In addition throw in a child in a wheelchair that has Tourettes, to the delight of the rest of the class
-------
While someone with an agenda might read this as "wheelchair that has Tourette's", any reasonable person can see that's not the intended meaning of the sentence.

If you take umbrage at the idea that a child with Tourette's who is in a wheelchair might need more of a teacher's attention than one who doesn't have Tourette's, isn't in a wheelchair, isn't on a behavior plan, and doesn't have ADHD or ADD that is untreated, then you are simply not living in the real world.

Posted by: nunovyerbizness1 | June 16, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

No educator I know would deny that children with disabilities have a right to an education in the least restrictive environment possible. What they DO object to is the ignorance of people who think it's a piece of cake to teach 30, or 35, or 40 children in a classroom when that class includes students with significant learning challenges, and that any teacher who can't do so is simply incompetent.

Posted by: nunovyerbizness1 | June 16, 2010 4:55 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Lane,
You get an 'A' for your arrogance and anti-union attitude, but you get an 'F' for your failure to cite the sources for your facts.
Sophistry undermines democracy whether it's coming from conservatives or liberals.
You're just a sophist and that's a true fact!

Posted by: gregoryvgray | June 16, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse

Great, so now some want to return to the Jim Crow era of the 50s and 60s, where the black children were entirely segregated, people could be expelled from restaurants for being disfigured, etc. Those were the days, oh yes they were.

Posted by: pptcmember | June 16, 2010 11:09 PM | Report abuse

Great, so now some want to return to the Jim Crow era of the 50s and 60s, where the black children were entirely segregated, people could be expelled from restaurants for being disfigured, etc. Those were the days, oh yes they were.

Posted by: pptcmember


Talk about missing the entire point of the conversation. I do not believe for ONE minute the child you are talking about was expelled from preschool for marking on the floor. IF that child required "a second teacher" then the school district "simply" brought in another one? That is the point, not all districts are able or willing to "simply" bring in another teacher for one child. If that one child got two sets of books and an individual teacher for an entire school career then that is exactly the point. That child does not belong in a mainstream class, no matter how high the SAT scores were. Appearances that are displeasing? Please, you trivialize your argument with such accusations.


Posted by: Michelle111 | June 17, 2010 2:11 AM | Report abuse

pptcmember: In case you have not already guessed, someone very close to me has a limp, and has had IEPs, 504s, been in self-contained clasrooms, mainstream classroom, you name it.
---------
Who is talking about "expelling" or "segregating" a child with a limp? Who is talking about removing people who are "disfigured"?
--------
pptcmember: By age 13, she scorded 1540 on her SATs, math/verbal, good enough for entry into the best universities in the land.
---------
The child took SATs at age 13?

Posted by: nunovyerbizness1 | June 17, 2010 8:57 AM | Report abuse

pptcmember: In case you have not already guessed, someone very close to me has a limp, and has had IEPs, 504s, been in self-contained clasrooms, mainstream classroom, you name it.
---------
Who is talking about "expelling" or "segregating" a child with a limp? Who is talking about removing people who are "disfigured"?
--------
pptcmember: By age 13, she scorded 1540 on her SATs, math/verbal, good enough for entry into the best universities in the land.
---------
The child took SATs at age 13?
----------
pptcmember, you stated that the school simply brought in a second teacher to help this student. As Michelle said, that is exactly the point. The classroom teacher was then not teaching a class with 25 students, one of which had significant learning disabilities. The teacher/student ratio was changed. The fact is that these additional teachers are the very ones whose jobs will be cut in times of tight budgets. I know this to be true because it is happening right now in the area where I teach.

Posted by: nunovyerbizness1 | June 17, 2010 9:02 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Lane,

Are you censoring me because I pointed out that Jim Crow existed in the 50s and 60s? This is simply a fact. How could anyone even make up something like that?

thanks,

pptcmember

Posted by: pptcmember | June 17, 2010 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Mr Lane may not have censored me; hard to tell.

The reason my four or five paragraphs got a "held for approval by blog owner" and has not appeared may well have been the length of the post, or some other aspect of blog mechanics.

Posted by: pptcmember | June 17, 2010 10:03 AM | Report abuse

pptcmember, perhaps you could simply respond to the questions posed to you. Jim Crow laws have nothing to do with the topic whatsoever.

Posted by: nunovyerbizness1 | June 17, 2010 7:26 PM | Report abuse

I'm a teacher and I'm not here to complain... I love my job, I'm not in it for the money. But what frustrates me are the tenured teachers that have become so negative and bitter about the education system and now that affects the children's learning. My school has 5 new kindergarten teachers, with 1-3 years experience in teaching, myself being one of them. Our school has a high poverty/high need population which many see as an excuse, but I see as motivation to succeed. Because our team worked their butts off this year 98% of our students met their growth targets on our end of the year assessments. In second grade where the team is made up of teachers that have been around for 20 years and spout nothing but negativity..only 45% of students met their growth targets. I hate teachers unions because they allow this to go on... I wish we could fire the incompetent teachers that no longer have the passion they used to and don't produce results and hire new (and cheaper) teachers, but give bonuses to those that actually produce high achieving students to keep them motivated.

Unfortunately I don't see this happening although Obama promised this in his campaign:
"Improve K-12 schooling:
We will recruit an army of new teachers and develop innovative ways to reward teachers who are doing a great job" (from his campaign website)

I'd say 98% is a great job. I guess our innovative reward is a society that will actually be smart enough to function in society...

Posted by: jltorbol | June 18, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse

A copy of this article recently appeared in the Idaho Statesman in Boise. I was very disappointed to see that it came from the Washington Post. I have always assumed that the Post would be full of factual information and followed by an educated, open minded readership. I am a teacher here in Idaho - have been for the past 13 years and am not in danger of losing my job at this time. Just to add a little balance to the equation, I am going to be teaching next year, but will then be transitioning out of education (so I am not writing to protect my job or contract). I can't speak as to how many teachers are losing their jobs this year - it could be 300,000 or maybe only 100,000 (not that that seems like an insignificant or acceptable number) however I know teachers in Idaho are suffering pay cuts and are taking on 2nd jobs. My brother and sister-in-law are both teachers in a rural Idaho community. They have been dedicated teachers, coaches, mentors in their community for the past 7 years. Both recently chose to go back and get additional education to better prepare themselves to teach their students. This was education that they paid for and completed while working full time. This next year, with their masters degrees, (one in reading and one in math) they will be making less then they did during their first year of teaching. As for class size, I am not sure where Mr. Lane gets his information, but average class sizes of 15-16 students is not a number that is based in reality. Even though class size has been shown to be one of the most important indicators of success in school, class sizes of 30+ are very normal in secondary schools and this year we are going to have kindergarten classes of 25+. I understand that there are concerns about education in America, and that there are districts that are failing our students, however before you become involved in the debate over education you owe it to yourselves, our youth, and country to educate yourselves on the reality of what is going on in education in the United States. Spend a day at your local schools to see what resources are needed (or are being wasted?). Follow a teacher for a day or a week. Volunteer to help out at a local school. It is too easy to find closed minded, biased "experts" in our media that really don't know what they are talking about, but are more than willing to share their opinions.

Posted by: price44 | June 20, 2010 10:11 PM | Report abuse

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