Open Thread

I’m not even going to bother linking McMegan’s latest piece about why she is chomping at the bit to fire teachers. To be honest, I didn’t even read it, as there is a solid chance it is rife with basic mistakes, faulty assumptions, and logical errors, all leading to an inaccurate conclusion. And when someone goes to great lengths to point them out, she’ll blame gastritis or her calculator and then state that her mistakes just prove her point anyway. That’s what she does. That’s who she is. It’s pointless pointing out the individual errors, because she can make them faster than you can correct them, yet still enjoys job security that quite a few teachers would love to have.

The question I have for you all, though, is do these people ever have a solution for improving education beyond “firing bad teachers” and bemoaning wasted education money? Have you ever heard anything?

158 replies
  1. 1
    Tuffy says:

    Vouchers, bro!

  2. 2
    Comrade Javamanphil says:

    Segregation?

  3. 3
    donr says:

    Fire all the pundits.

    Can’t hurt, can it?

  4. 4

    Improving education? These people haven’t the slightest interest in improving education. They just want to break unions.

    Their “education reform” proposals have about as much to do with making schools better as the invasion of Iraq had to do with stopping al Qaeda, or Bush’s privatization of Social Security had to do with reducing the deficit. They’re just using the pretense that their efforts would improve education as a pretext, because they know their actual goals are so profoundly unpopular.

  5. 5
    Carnacki says:

    Tax cuts! Tax cuts will improve education!

  6. 6
    Persia says:

    Furthermore, I have yet to see any kind of logical system that would determine what a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ teacher was in the first place.

  7. 7
    Emily says:

    Actually, Megan is champing, not chomping, at the bit.

  8. 8
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    Testing. Lots of testing, then firing teachers.

  9. 9
    Hunter Gathers says:

    Privatize the entire educational system. That way, my kid can learn about the atomic weight of Balonium, Tek War, and have this be on his final during Senior Year: If you have three Pepsis and drink one, how much more refreshed are you?

  10. 10
    Davis X. Machina says:

    Their preferred future is the ‘Winner-take-all” model.

    One guy, in a studio, ‘teaching’ all the geometry classes in the country on a network, and 6500 ‘teachers’, provided by Aramark, making $11.50 an hour taking attendance, and doing discipline, and answering the few questions they can actually answer.

    Aramark makes a fortune. The one winner makes a fortune. The kids get screwed, and the ‘teachers’ are grateful for the work.

  11. 11
    Bulworth says:

    Privatize. Banish all that silly talk about “univeral education”. Are there no workhouses?

  12. 12
    Bob says:

    Maybe we should fire all the pundits that get things wrong all the time. I think we’d be down to about 5 opinion columns though if that ever happened.

  13. 13
  14. 14
    Carnacki says:

    @Davis X. Machina: On the other hand, the souvenir shops at the schools might provide some additional jobs too.

  15. 15
    el_gallo says:

    What Tuffy said. Also, I believe they want to replace science courses with Bible study. Also too, more spankings.

    Which adds up to every child being subjected to the Native American Boarding School model:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N.....ng_schools

  16. 16
    cthulhu says:

    Isn’t their answer “privatization” to just about any question?

  17. 17
    t jasper parnell says:

    The “Magic of the Free Market” in its godlike godlikedness will solve the “crises” of education. Or, in other words, let the bastards like McAddled and Yggli Wiggli have their way and education will work as well as the economy.

    ETA: Why, I wonder, does she think she competent to comment on teachers or education?

  18. 18
    Carnacki says:

    @Bulworth: A Modest Proposal was satire, but the Koch Bros. are using it as a game plan for the middle and lower economic classes.

  19. 19
    Corner Stone says:

    @Hunter Gathers:

    and have this be on his final during Senior Year: If you have three Pepsis and drink one, how much more refreshed are you?

    “Awesomely” ?

  20. 20
    SweetNostrils, fka Scuffletuffle says:

    Home schooling, Also, too.

  21. 21
    Davis X. Machina says:

    What you need to do is take Brad DeLong’s The Only Educational Model That Actually Works — a log, with a student on one end, and Socrates on the other — and figure out its opposite.

    That’s what they’ll push for.

  22. 22
    Carnacki says:

    @cthulhu: No, you’re thinking Tax Cuts! And who summoned you or were the stars in alignment?

    Haha. I kid.

  23. 23
    Original Lee says:

    Talking with a conservative coworker this morning, the only constructive comment she could make on the teacher situation was that, in her opinion, mainstreaming was overused and inappropriately used and that the schools ought to be able to tell kids and their parents that the best place for them is a trade school or an apprenticeship program, rather than trying to pretend that everybody is capable of going to college.

    Oh, and she wants to fire all the teachers who don’t regard teaching as a calling.

  24. 24
    schrodinger's cat says:

    deleted to avoid repitition

  25. 25
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @jeffreyw: Homer kitteh FTW! He looks so big now, how old is he?

  26. 26
    Joel says:

    Fuck McCurdle. As far as I’m concerned, she doesn’t exist. Should be the same for everyone else, too.

  27. 27
    TBogg says:

    The very fact that McMegan’s family sent her to an expensive private prep school (Riverdale Country School) and that she was further educated at not one, but two, expensive universities (Penn and Chicago) and she is still dumb as a box of Himalayan pink salt, well that is all the evidence you need to know that money is not the answer.

    If any teachers need to be fired, it is the ones who passed her along…

  28. 28
    Jim Pharo says:

    I live in East Harlem, where many public schools do well by begging Goldman Sachs and American Express for money. Turns out that with abundant resources, schools do pretty well.

    Who knew?

  29. 29
    Paul in KY says:

    @joe from Lowell: Word on that.

  30. 30
    Cat says:

    People with little talent and to little intelligence assume they had great teachers or they overcame the bad teachers when in reality they just got ahead because they came from privileged background.

    They assume they are overcoming great hardships and completing difficult tasks, again the reality the vast majority of the day to day work of modern society can be done anyone of average intelligence.

    McMegan’s articles are just above average in difficulty, but by no means taxing to anyone who would be called highly intelligent by other highly intelligent people. A good auto mechanic, carpenter, or machinist could output something similar if they had the inclination. Those are all fields that require above average intelligence to excel in.

    The ‘Invisible Handers’ truly believe if only they weed out the bad workers, be they teachers or whatever, they rest of the workers will start pushing out gold regardless if the tools or the work environment the workers have aren’t up to the task.

  31. 31
    Johnny Gentle (famous crooner) says:

    John – Yes, they also propose vouchers and standardized testing out the ass.

  32. 32
    El Cid says:

    Privatize public schools and run them like businesses, so that taxpayers’ money can be given to some crony.

    Get rid of all the nonsense wastes of time and money like art or literature or PE or whatever and make school about learning how to compete with low wage, medium-to-high skilled labor in the 3rd world.

    Cut funds from schools that do not perform well on chosen testing.

    Make schools just like they were 50+ years ago when your existence was based on the provisions of life by your mill employer, which makes it clear that privatized local education is the answer.

    What is stopping communities from forming their own schools? That’s the sort of school I went to as a girl—-it was actually funded by the textile mill in my hometown. The mill also provided a beautiful park for us to play in.
    __
    As for our education in that small school where the per pupil expenditure was probably far less than that of a government school, it was stellar. Teachers did not permit us to refuse to learn and a paddle would be quickly applied—in front of the other students—if you acted up. Of course at that time, parents had the teacher’s back. The rule was if you got into trouble at school, your trouble would double when you got home.

  33. 33
    mk3872 says:

    John:

    do these people ever have a solution for improving education

    You still don’t get it?

    It’s not about being “better”.

    It’s about privatization: $$$ PROFIT $$$

  34. 34
    curious says:

    we will find the last digit of pi before we hear a sincere non-market- or “pain”-based proposal from conservatives.

  35. 35
    MikeJ says:

    @TBogg: Your argument implies she’s not capable of doing better work. I think she’s actively trying to be awful. Not that she’s trying to make bad arguments, but when you start with bad conclusions, you’re left with bad arguments to prop them up.

  36. 36
    Benjamin Cisco says:

    Their motto is “education for me, but not for thee.”

  37. 37
    Face says:

    schools ought to be able to tell kids and their parents that the best place for them is a trade school or an apprenticeship program, rather than trying to pretend that everybody is capable of going to college.

    Actually got no problem with this. It’s how Europe does it (or used to); more efficient to have the car mechanic start learning at age 18 owing $0 fed school loans than have him start at age 26, after he graduated $90K in loan debt and having worked serving jobs for 3 years post-college to make keg money.

  38. 38
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @Bulworth: Also bring back debtors prisons. When conservatives are nostalgic for the 50’s I think it the 1850’s

  39. 39
    El Cid says:

    Sociologists of power G. William Domhoff and Richard Zweigenhaft did a very interesting study about the 1960s-1970s era “ABC” program to select talented students from poor minority communities, mostly African Americans, to attend elite prep schools.

    Shockingly, attendance at extremely well-funded, elite-backed and attended and upper-class based prep schools meant that nearly all of the participating students went on to elite, mostly Ivy-league universities on scholarship and upon finishing gained very high level and high paying jobs.

    But you can’t solve the problems of education by throwing money at it, unless you throw enough money at it to keep out the non-hand-selected sample of the riff-raff.

  40. 40
    TBogg says:

    @MikeJ: What makes McArdle dumb is that fact that she makes such terrible fundamental errors of logic and, lets face it, basic math, and she is constantly surprised when these things are pointed out to her.

    So, the age old question; lazy or stupid?

  41. 41
    Carnacki says:

    @Johnny Gentle (famous crooner): By coincidence that’s also where McMegan pulls her column ideas

  42. 42
    The Republic of Stupidity says:

    @TBogg:

    So, the age old question; lazy or stupid?

    Why does it have to be one or the other?

    Or for that matter, why limit it to just two possibilities?

    Smug?

    Indifferent?

    Deliberately misleading?

    We deserve more choices…

  43. 43
    trollhattan says:

    Me no read McMegan post either. Like McMegan’s “really informed” posts about cars, with which she demonstrates zero firsthand knowledge of the topic, McMegan weighing in on public ed-you-kay-shun must be considered the fussing of somebody gazing at the issue from a comfy business-class seat at 30,000 feet. WTF can she possibly know, other than what results she gets upon feeding the topic into her Freemarketizer 2010(tm) machine?

    Doubtless, McMegan’s looking ahead to the day she sends off her beloved KitchenAid 600-Series professional mixer to kindergarten, when she’ll be demanding the Very Best pedagogy conceivable for Little Mixie.

    In the maeantime, I do have a kid in public grade school and would love for somebody to identify the unqualified, underperforming teachers. In four years I’ve yet to discover one.

    TeaParty, help, I NEED you!

  44. 44
    singfoom says:

    They don’t have solutions. They only have a chosen other to demonize. Right now it is teachers and specifically unionized teachers.

    It’s crazy turtles all the way down.

    I suggest you all try a thought experiment. When you see someone refer to “The Market” as in “The Market will provide appropriate wages to non unionized teachers, why would they even need a union…?”

    When you see “The Market”, replace it with “Our bankster overlords.” Because that’s what it means.

    Our fellow Americans, too stupid to vote for their own interests or distracted by the shiny or voting social issues while fucking their own economic interests, have decided that their fealty lies with Our Bankster Overlords.

    Jamie Dimon can decide what teachers are paid. If they were really smart, they wouldn’t be teachers inculcating a love of learning and critical thinking to generations, they’d be banksters themselves.

    I feel like Lord Helment. “I’m surrounded by ASSHOLES.”

    They won’t quit this road either, until everything is privatized and run for a profit. Even if it is less efficient.

    Give them time, nation states might give way to Corporations as the dominant organizational entity on the planet……

  45. 45
    trollhattan says:

    @TBogg:

    Hey now, on behalf of Himalayan pink salt boxes everywhere, we resent the comparison!

  46. 46
    Dave Latchaw says:

    How ’bout a good old market-based solution? If you pay teachers more, bad teachers will be driven from the marketplace by better teachers. Isn’t that how it works?

  47. 47
    Sir Nose'D says:

    As with the obesity epidemic (and for the record, I am against the broccoli mandate), we know exactly what works. With weight loss, you need to create a calorie deficit over time, and the effectiveness of success increases when someone else holds you accountable.

    With education, you need good teachers, adequate classroom resources and support services, and most importantly, parents who hold their kids to high educational standards. Parents and teachers need to view each other as partners in achieving learning outcomes for the student.

    See–pretty easy. We know what works.

  48. 48
    Bubblegum Tate says:

    The full list of right-wing solutions I’ve seen:

    *Vouchers
    *Privatization
    *No more union
    *More home-schooling
    *Fire bad teachers
    *Teach Latin so students can read be better acquainted with the Bible (seriously)
    *Make school optional

  49. 49
    pragmatism says:

    @TBogg: i go with evil or stupid. mcmegtard is evil.

  50. 50
    Chris says:

    To be honest, I didn’t even read it, as there is a solid chance it is rife with basic mistakes, faulty assumptions, and logical errors, all leading to an inaccurate conclusion. And when someone goes to great lengths to point them out, she’ll blame gastritis or her calculator and then state that her mistakes just prove her point anyway. That’s what she does. That’s who she is. It’s pointless pointing out the individual errors, because she can make them faster than you can correct them, yet still enjoys job security that quite a few teachers would love to have.

    I have no input about the teachers, mainly because I wasn’t raised in the American educational system and therefore wouldn’t have much productive to say. I just wanted to say the above is a spot-on summary of the way conservative bloggers, hell, quite a few regular conservatives trying to talk about politics, work. So, thanks.

  51. 51
    Brachiator says:

    The question I have for you all, though, is do these people ever have a solution for improving education beyond “firing bad teachers”

    Firing bad teachers is not a bad place to start. And then bad principals and crappy administrators.

    @Original Lee:

    Oh, and she wants to fire all the teachers who don’t regard teaching as a calling.

    Oddly enough, some who regard teaching as a calling are exactly the ones who need to be fired.

    But yeah, conservatives and glibertarians seem to think that there was some former good old days when children learned reading and writing without the benefit of a public education system (and no unions). Maybe some combination of private tutors and parents home schooling kids with a speller and the Bible.

  52. 52
    Xenocrates says:

    Crickets, and the occasional rustle as the sagebrush rolls through. This is one of my gripes about the GOP; they are very glad to tell us what they stand against. What they stand FOR?? Nobody knows…and McMegan is not nearly as stupid as those who continue to employ her. Q.E.D.

  53. 53
    Rommie says:

    Omni Consumer Products – it’s not just satire anymore. I’m sure it has an Educational division.

  54. 54
    BC says:

    Teacher unions must go because they keep the older, more expensive teachers on the payroll. That’s the core reason that unions are being targeted – so administrations can fire the older teachers, who are making more than the newly-hired teachers. If you didn’t know anything else about the debate but knew this, then you would understand the underlying agenda of every anti-union pundit or administrator. All the “merit” shit is cover for firing older teachers who have higher salaries.

  55. 55
    bs23 says:

    John Taylor Gatto

  56. 56
    msskwesq says:

    It’s not about the teachers or the budget or taxes, its about doing away with the public school system entirely so they can discriminate against women, minorities, foreigners and gays all they want. Its so they can teach the Bible and pray all they want and lie about science. So they can rig the system so totally that the good ole boy system that gave white guys a lock on professional programs, boardrooms,governmental power without having to actually earn it can be restored. Ya know, that white male privilege thing! Viva the 1890’s (not the 1950’s, women had to much power with the vote n’all in the 50’s)

  57. 57
    trollhattan says:

    Anybody else still grumbling over Rand Paul’s TDS appearance last night? He seems to really believe the stream of crap emanating from his cranium.

    Poor, poor beleagured coal industry.

    http://www.thedailyshow.com/wa.....pt–1

  58. 58
    El Cid says:

    Another sage economist on the importance of cutting the deficits caused by our undisciplined population. Via Krugman, the Obama-nominated deficit commission co-hair, Alan Abe Simpson.

    “This is a fakery,” Simpson said on Fox News. “If they care at all about their children or grandchildren, and sometimes I doubt that – I think, you know, grandchildren now don’t write a thank-you for the Christmas presents, they’re walking on their pants with the cap on backwards listening to the enema man and Snoopy Snoopy Poop Dogg, and they don’t like them!”

    Onion, belt, etc.

  59. 59
    dr. bloor says:

    @TBogg:

    Au contraire. Riverdale teaches kids how to get into the Ivys, and the Universities teach you how to get cushy jobs in which you pass judgment on others and take their cookies. Everyone’s succeeded marvelously here.

  60. 60
    sublime33 says:

    1) Measure the CHANGE, not absolute test scores of students on a student by student basis. Crappy teachers will see a trend of most students getting worse – get rid of them. And reward the ones whose are pulling up the scores.

    2) When the conservative said “too much mainstreaming”, I actually agree that there is some merit to this. What happens too much is that extreme special needs kids (the ones that private schools will reject out of hand) are mainstreamed and bogging down the management of the rest of the class. And the expansion of “gifted” programs basically pulls out the top 5% and dumps everyone else in the blender.

  61. 61
    Anya says:

    No Commemoration of International Women’s Day at Balloon Juice? I thought you guys were a bunch of commie libtards.

  62. 62

    the thing is there IS no solution except a total overhaul.
    the public education system in the US is quite old, and still carrying out its mission of giving kids the skills they need to work in factories and other blue collar jobs that unfortunately no longer exist in much of the US(remember, the idea that everyone goes to college is relatively new).

    So the whole system has to be overhauled, an enormous undertaking. I also believe that there needs to be a balanced approach between the voc-tech kids and the college bound kids, one that does away with “college-bound kids are smarter” and the class distinctions that come along with that.

  63. 63
    trollhattan says:

    Republicans wavering in Wisconsin?

    http://www.greenbaypressgazett.....d=blogDest

  64. 64
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    The question I have for you all, though, is do these people ever have a solution for improving education beyond “firing bad teachers” and bemoaning wasted education money? Have you ever heard anything?

    Tax breaks, deregulation and more jesus.

  65. 65
    p.a. says:

    It’s pointless pointing out the individual errors, because she can make them faster than you can correct them

    Didn’t someone start to error-check a Coulter book and give up after amassing 80 pages of corrections just from her prologue?

    And myriad previous comments are correct. None of this, from these types of people, ever has anything to do with actual improvements to any institution. It’s all about ‘who can we stick the witch’s hat on next?’ Has been since Salem.

  66. 66
    zzyzx says:

    My favorite bit right now is that the same people who are arguing that we can’t help lower class Americans because we’re too broke are also saying that we need to spend tons of money to keep Qaddifi gone in Libya. We can care about the downtrodden if and only if it lets us kill people too.

  67. 67

    This is probably going to sound completely crazy, but what if we paid teachers significantly more money, so that the field would attract better candidates?

  68. 68
    bs23 says:

    well, what I really mean by throwing that name into the mix is that I’ve never really understood the idea of all kids proceeding through the broad curriculum in lockstep, as if everyone were equally talented at literature/history/math/science/language/etc. Of course, the remedy would probably involve hiring lots more teachers, a non-starter for one side of the debate…

  69. 69
    JPL says:

    @msskwesq: WORD The entire bad teacher meme is a farce.

    The majority feel that their public schools are good but the majority feel that the schools are failing. Explain that!

  70. 70
    soonergrunt says:

    @John Cole, top:

    The question I have for you all, though, is do these people ever have a solution for improving education beyond “firing bad teachers” and bemoaning wasted education money? Have you ever heard anything?

    No. SATSQ.

    @TBogg:”So, the age old question; lazy or stupid?” Both.
    Seriously, you guys are over-thinking this. Which charge has NEVER been made about mcmegan.

  71. 71
    Commenting at Balloon Juice since 1937 says:

    “do these people ever have a solution for improving education”?

    Have daddy buy you a degree under the legacy action program?

  72. 72
    Face says:

    @El Cid: Hooooooooly crap is that shit funny. He really said “enema man” and “snoopy snoopy poop dog”?

    I about drowned my keyboard in laugh spittle.

  73. 73
    RSA says:

    I think McMegan and some others who write about education (including, on the other side, Matt Yglesias) take a perspective that’s just too abstract to be useful. Aside from being wrong in some of the details, they seem to think that broad changes in the structure of an educational system will just magically improve the pool of teachers and thereby the education of kids. It would be nice if they actually could think of other examples where this has worked: Make it easier to fire people in some large segment of industry involving tens of thousands of employees in a limited geographical region and, without relying on new money, simply replace bad workers with better ones?

  74. 74
    Frank Chow says:

    @Bulworth: Second! And charter schools will lead to teh children being geniuses and musical savants. Saw that in a movie once…

  75. 75
    Dan says:

    The question I have for you all, though, is do these people ever have a solution for improving education beyond “firing bad teachers” and bemoaning wasted education money? Have you ever heard anything?

    No. They never have a solution to anything that does not consist of a single, sweeping action followed by “and walk away.” Abortion? Outlaw it and walk away. Education? Privatize it and walk away. High unemployment? Cut taxes on the rich and walk away.

    Conservatism is a belief system for the lazy, for those that don’t have the energy (or desire) to stay engaged on issues over time, take the measure of policies as they are implemented, and generally be involved in what most of the rest of us regard as civic life.

    They want silver bullets and cannot process anything else. They are the ones waiting for Superman.

  76. 76
    Jeff says:

    Someone should do a post on this tendency of McArdle’s: Completely fabricating an anticipated response to her post and basing the rest of her post off of this. Normally it is called a strawman, but she takes it to such an absurd degree that it deserves a new tag.

    Answer: because in a dirty, stultifying job like fast food service, it costs a lot in wages to reduce turnover a little, and people won’t pay enough for a hamburger to justify those wages.

    “Hamburgers!” I hear you cry, “Are you really comparing our kids to hamburgers?”

  77. 77
    cckids says:

    @sublime33:

    And the expansion of “gifted” programs basically pulls out the top 5% and dumps everyone else in the blender.</blockquote

    Here in Vegas, tho, many of the "gifted" program spots are taken up by all the teachers' kids. Any spots left go to other kids.

    The hard, sad truth is that there is no one, quick, simple way to make schools, education better. There are lots of things that can be done, but none are easy, cheap, & quick.

    Parents have to give a damn. Teachers have to be decent & not so freaking burned out. Kids need to not be getting fried by make-work & stupid testing. Communities have to be willing to pay some money for schools. Administration has to admit that their jobs are not the most important ones. And on & on.

  78. 78
    gene108 says:

    @Brachiator:

    Firing bad teachers is not a bad place to start. And then bad principals and crappy administrators.

    Why stop w/ education? Why not demand bad lawyers, accountants, hedge fund managers, etc. get canned? Jon Stewart made a good point a few shows ago, every profession has people who underperform. That’s life.

  79. 79
    El Cid says:

    @trollhattan: I keep thinking Walker’s plan to get Republicans to agree with a compromise with Democrats will get the missing 14 to return and once there the original bill will be passed.

  80. 80
    Svensker says:

    @Emily:

    Actually, Megan is champing, not chomping, at the bit.

    Ditto.

    Maybe, if John’s teachers had been fired, he’d know that!

  81. 81
    Alwhite says:

    Here is an internet article about how to deal with trolls. Personally, I think this person has no experience with American political wankers and crackpots but thought I’d share & see what others think. Would this work here?

    http://unarmed.shlomifish.org/909.html

  82. 82
    Sasha says:

    I subbed for a while and considered becoming a teacher. I have friends that still teach and they cheerfully let me know what bullshit they have to deal with here in Florida. The remedy for America’s ailing education system can be simply distilled to the following:

    Do the opposite of virtually everything the Right currently champions, and either undo/repeal nearly every educational initiative passed by the Right or modify it so extensively that it no longer recognizable from its original form.

    That’s pretty much it.

  83. 83
    Cris says:

    @Anya: Even the freakin’ commies are a bunch of Patriarchs.

    I brought some flowers for IWD to the young ladies who work at the coffee shop I frequent, and some local news guy caught me on camera. I’m apparently the new voice of Socialist Feminism in this tiny town.

  84. 84
    Svensker says:

    @Anya:

    No Commemoration of International Women’s Day at Balloon Juice? I thought you guys were a bunch of commie libtards.

    It’s like the Quakers, there are no special days, every day is God’s day. At BJ, every day is Women’s Day because they are commie libtards.

  85. 85
    Cris says:

    GOD DAMN THIS FILTER THAT DOESN’T ALLOW THE WORD ESS OH SEE EYE EH EL EYE ESS EM

  86. 86
    Poopyman says:

    @Face: Sadly, Grampa Simpson and his sidekick are on a deficit reduction tour, starting with congress.

    Because, you know, they’re the only ones having a serious discussion on the topic.

  87. 87
    Brachiator says:

    @BC:

    Teacher unions must go because they keep the older, more expensive teachers on the payroll. That’s the core reason that unions are being targeted – so administrations can fire the older teachers, who are making more than the newly-hired teachers. … All the “merit” shit is cover for firing older teachers who have higher salaries.

    You make a very, very good point here, but there are complicators.

    In Los Angeles, when teacher layoffs were threatened, a number of burnt out senior teachers who were no longer in classrooms claimed their seniority, and younger, fresher, often well-loved teachers got the axe first. Younger teachers who had volunteered to teach at “troubled” schools got the axe while teachers in more “upscale” areas kept their job.

    It got so bad that the ACLU ended up suing the school district.

    The last round of L.A. Unified teacher firings led to chaotic conditions on some campuses that made learning nearly impossible, especially at Samuel Gompers, Edwin Markham and John H. Liechty middle schools, according to a complaint filed by the ACLU, Public Counsel and Morrison & Foerster. Between half and three-quarters of the teachers at those campuses were laid off last year, according to the class-action lawsuit filed in L.A. County Superior Court.
    __
    Because of a steep budget deficit, L.A. Unified officials issued thousands of layoff notices last year and are expected to order more this year. Citing state law, school districts typically dismiss teachers on the basis of seniority during budgetary shortfalls.
    __
    The cuts were especially devastating to Gompers, Markham and Liechty because administrators had recruited younger instructors who wanted to teach in the inner city. When those teachers were dismissed, they were often replaced by instructors who did not want to work in tough, urban schools, the suit alleges.
    __
    Many positions were also difficult to fill, so schools turned to substitutes, according to the lawsuit. Some of those teachers allowed the classes to turn chaotic or were unfamiliar with the subject matter. Several substitutes allegedly gave every student a “C” grade because they didn’t know the material well enough to grade students.

    The situation is still a mess out here. No easy answers.

  88. 88
    wlrube says:

    Republicans understand that the best way to improve teacher quality is to attract the best and brightest to the profession by paying them more. That’s why they’re so strongly opposed to the idea of cutting salaries and benefits for teachers: a teacher “is a free agent who can leave the [school] and go to work someplace else,” in the words of former Utah Senator Bob Bennett. If you cut their pay, “you run the risk of having a brain drain at the [school] of their top talent.”

    Wait a minute, my bad — that was how they reacted to Obama’s plan to cap bankster pay at bailed-out firms at $500K per year. Teachers? Screw ’em and their inflated salaries and benefits, living high on the hog at the taxpayers’ expense. Lazy bums.

  89. 89
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Face:

    It wouldn’t be a bad way to go if it was actually based on talent and abilities, but it wouldn’t be. It would be based on how rich your parents are. Do you really think a school is going to tell middle-class parents that their precious little snowflake is better suited to carpentry or plumbing than he is to college and an office job? The parents would have that person fired right quick, to be replaced by someone who makes sure the job recommendations are firmly based in social class, not ability.

    And, yes, it happens that way in Europe, too — middle and upper-class kids are steered to college and lower-class kids are steered to trades without much thought being given to actual ability.

  90. 90
    Brachiator says:

    @gene108:

    Why stop w/ education? Why not demand bad lawyers, accountants, hedge fund managers, etc. get canned? Jon Stewart made a good point a few shows ago, every profession has people who underperform. That’s life.

    That’s life? Are you serious?

    “Dear school kids. So sorry you got a sucky teacher. Deal with it.”

  91. 91
    gypsy howell says:

    I propose we put the “money isn’t the answer” theory to the test:

    Let’s take ALL the money we spend on defense, the military, “homeland security” and all that other Military Industrial Complex horseshit and spend it on our educational system:

    – billions in building new state of the art facilities and upgrading existing facilities

    – billions on re-introducing arts, music, theatre, and other liberal arts

    billions on new science and computer labs

    – billions on increasing both the number of teachers and their average pay

    – billions on before and after school programs, and transportation for such programs

    – billions in college grants, bringing back free state university tuition, for example, and extend it to all 50 states.

    And in return, we will fund the military with only the money we currently dedicate to education. A significant portion of defense revenue, by the way, will be collected from local real estate taxes and will be subject to local municipalities’ contribution & control.

    Wait 10 – 15 years to test results.

    THEN we can debate whether “money is not the solution”

    Of COURSE money is the solution. That’s why the republicans are trying to defund it.

  92. 92
    ProgressiveATL says:

    Finland. Let’s learn from them. Turned their education system and results around entirely, now score highest in the world. http://bit.ly/aCS9dJ

  93. 93
    sal says:

    They’ve also got kick ou the anchor babies.

  94. 94
    Alwhite says:

    @Brachiator:
    Yes, deal with it! Not every teacher is great for every student. Yet, in 40+ years of work life I have discovered that not every one of my work mates is great either and I deal with it.

    I have worked for and with procrastinators, incompetents, liars, crooks, gold brickers and many other assorted ‘sucky’ workers. The number removed because of their level of suck is near zero.

    The question does not come down to should ‘sucky’ teachers get sacked but how do you go about defining ‘suckage’ and do you make any effort to reduce the ‘suckage’.

    My guess is when in front of a class of 37 kids, 5 of whom are homeless, 10 are on the verge of homelessness, and 17 have not had a decent meal since school lunch yesterday all teachers are ‘sucky’. Those numbers come from the elementary school district where I live, a school made to deal with classes 50% larger than the rooms were built to accommodate and with 1/2 the money (adjusted for inflation) that they had in 1973. ‘Sucky’ teachers are not the problem kids have to deal with.

  95. 95
    Shoemaker-Levy 9 says:

    Holy Mother of God, did anybody see this article at Politico? They’ve really screwed up this time; they solicited an opinion piece on climate change and the authors are — you might want to be sitting down for this — scientists. Yes, you read that right. They flagrantly violated Broder Commandment #1: “Regardless of the issue, Democratic and Republican politicians shall present the two sides, also regardless of whether there are in fact two sides.” I hope whoever is editing over there loses his or her job over this, and I hope they quickly repair the damage by running a balancing piece by climate skeptics, and for God’s sake make sure it’s written by a politicians. Then go confess to Father Friedman and do at least a dozen Hail Cokies.

  96. 96
    Alwhite says:

    @gypsy howell:

    I like the way you think! Any chance you will run for office – or at least have a news letter I can subscribe to? 8-{D

    I’m going to post your fix on FB and hope it spreads!

  97. 97
    catclub says:

    @Dan: I just read a Sydney Harris quote:”Any philosophy that can be put in a nutshell belongs there. ”

    Seems to apply here – in more than one way. The shells it often ends up in… are nuts.

  98. 98
    chopper says:

    dude, i’d pay good money to see Enema Man and Snoopy Snoopy Poop Dogg play.

  99. 99

    John Cole asks:

    The question I have for you all, though, is do these people ever have a solution ….

    No. This has been another edition of simple answers to simple questions.

    I asked the same question today regarding healthcare, now that Tennessee voted to allow people to opt out of healthcare reform (not that this will stand, mind you.)

  100. 100
    Brachiator says:

    @Alwhite:

    Yes, deal with it! Not every teacher is great for every student. Yet, in 40+ years of work life I have discovered that not every one of my work mates is great either and I deal with it. I have worked for and with procrastinators, incompetents, liars, crooks, gold brickers and many other assorted ‘sucky’ workers. The number removed because of their level of suck is near zero.

    So let’s see. Your life is sucky, so kids should start at the same level of suckitude, since their life is inevitably going to be shit as well. Got it.

    My guess is when in front of a class of 37 kids, 5 of whom are homeless, 10 are on the verge of homelessness, and 17 have not had a decent meal since school lunch yesterday all teachers are ‘sucky’.

    Your guess is wrong, but reflects your perspective.

    ‘Sucky’ teachers are not the problem kids have to deal with.

    Yeah, like this example:

    A substitute teacher is being investigated for misconduct after reportedly showing up to a music class drunk, authorities said….
    __
    “Some of the boys reported that the teacher was acting weird,” Amormino said.
    __
    At one point the substitute teacher walked out of the classroom and was observed stumbling by the principal. She was called to the principal’s office and a strong odor of alcohol was detected, Amormino said.

    Nope. Couldn’t possibly be a sucky teacher. And hey, some of your workmates probably show up drunk or too hungover to do their jobs, so these kids had nothing to complain about.

    And by the way, this incident happened in an upscale section of Orange County, California.

  101. 101
    El Cid says:

    @Alwhite: Hey — some kids suck too. Really shitty performers. Always scoring low on tests and training material. Why can’t we fire them and get some better performing children? Is the Children’s Union just too powerful?

  102. 102
    Kiril says:

    My dad was a teacher at a private school, so even though we couldn’t have afforded it otherwise, my brother and I got to be educated with the children of Senators.
    One of the things they did was they segregated the students by performance. In 5-8 grades, we were all one class, going from room to room together, and the groups were numbered 1-4. At the end of each semester, the lowest performing students were moved down a level and the highest were moved up. The top level classes were taught more rigorously.
    I think of this when people speak of mainstreaming being a problem. The lower ranked classes could have lower class sizes and more of an emphasis on fundamentals, while the higher ranked classes could do more advanced coursework.
    Of course, I see numerous problems with this, not the leas the reactions of parents whose children were moved down. I was moved down a level one year, and my parents were very disappointed in me, and I was mortified to be stuck in the same room as those, those, SECOND LEVELERS!
    I got over it though.
    What do you think?

  103. 103
    folkbum says:

    Just one McMegan bit from me (I am a teacher). She writes,

    the union literally cannot help a school district fire a teacher

    Which is false. My union a decade ago developed a program–now a model for others across the country–of evaluation and mentoring. It requires teachers identified for the program to 1) quit, or 2) go through a year of mentoring with a master teacher and the help of the principal after which either a) the teacher has improved, or b) the teacher is fired.

    Again, this was my union’s idea, accepted readily by the administration.

    The failing–and, of course, in many ways it is failing–is on the part of principals, who think it’s easier to shuffle bad teachers off to a different school than to work with them for a year to try to help them be better.

    Also, too, the local squawk media (I teach in an urban midwestern district) insists that my union protects bad teachers and it’s impossible for any of us to be fired.

  104. 104

    @Brachiator:

    A substitute teacher??! Really, that’s your argument? A substitute teacher showed up drunk?

  105. 105
    Gravenstone says:

    @El Cid:

    Of course at that time, parents had the teacher’s back. The rule was if you got into trouble at school, your trouble would double when you got home.

    A key point. While the above excerpt is beyond simplistic, no amount of change, from tinkering around the edges to outright blowing up the modern education system will make up for a lack of engaged and involved parents.

    So, aside from fixing the education system from within, how does one instill the required sense of engagement in the parents of today (and tomorrow)?

  106. 106
    Kiril says:

    @Kiril: Oh, and above 8th grade, we could make our own schedules and only the individual courses were segregated by achievement. So someone could be in an advanced math course and a lower level English course, depending on students’ individual aptitude. Everyone was expected to maintain a minimum level of competence, though. Rarely, a student would repeat a level in a specific course, but below a certain level a student would either be expelled or see his last name on a plaque commemorating a new or renovated facility.

  107. 107
    gypsy howell says:

    @Alwhite:

    I left out:

    – billions on nutritious meals for any child that wants or needs it (breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, as required)

    – billions on full-day summer enrichment programs (think science camps, arts camps, sports camps, etc) and transportation to and from such programs

    Then we can talk about whether money makes a difference.

  108. 108
    Dan says:

    @catclub: Very pithy. :)

  109. 109
    gypsy howell says:

    @Southern Beale:

    In a privatized non-union world, there are no substitute teachers with alcoholism problems. Obviously. Just like there are no alcoholic bosses or co-workers in a privatized, non-union world.

  110. 110
    sublime33 says:

    “Rarely, a student would repeat a level in a specific course, but below a certain level a student would either be expelled or see his last name on a plaque commemorating a new or renovated facility.”

    You obviously are talking about a private school that has the luxury of expelling lower performing students into the public system. Unfunded mandates require that public schools are the educators of last resort. And then the private schools can brag about how cost efficient they are because no one sets out to have the best behavioral disordered program in the state.

  111. 111
    Kiril says:

    @sublime33: Yes, obviously. I am aware of the issues involved. But the students are there now. I was wondering if this could be a partial answer to the problem being talked about upthread of “mainstreaming” beyond the current three-tiered system of AP courses, everyone else, and special ed.
    I know there are public school teachers in this thread, and I wondered what they think.
    (And no one ever accused my school of being cost-efficient.)

  112. 112
    Alwhite says:

    @Brachiator:
    Nobody here said my life is sucky. What *I* said was into every life a little suck must fall.

    Drunks, pedophiles and sadists fall well outside a standard deviation from the norm and well beyond ‘sucky’. A word that still needs a definition.

  113. 113
    Brachiator says:

    @Southern Beale:

    A substitute teacher??! Really, that’s your argument? A substitute teacher showed up drunk?

    That’s your argument? Substitute teachers aren’t really teachers, so they what happens here doesn’t matter?

    @folkbum:

    Which is false. My union a decade ago developed a program—now a model for others across the country—of evaluation and mentoring. It requires teachers identified for the program to 1) quit, or 2) go through a year of mentoring with a master teacher and the help of the principal after which either a) the teacher has improved, or b) the teacher is fired.

    Does this apply to tenured teachers?

  114. 114
    Alwhite says:

    @gypsy howell:

    Now you’re just making me sad that I am already married ;-D

    I posted your earlier bit, I hope it get spread around.

  115. 115
    west coast says:

    I think this speaks to the issue:

    http://www.samefacts.com/2011/.....nequality/

  116. 116
    Sasha says:

    @wlrube:

    There’s a reason Sen. Bennett was primaried out by the GOP.

  117. 117
    rikryah says:

    She truly is an idiot. that she gets a paycheck from it, adds insult to injury. As a Black woman, let me break it down as to how I see it. It’s one thing to know about White Privilege in theory. But, to see someone so obviously deficient, nonsensical, and quite frankly stupid, be given a paying spot like she has….it’s tough seeing White Mediocrity up close and personal like this.

  118. 118
    Svensker says:

    @Shoemaker-Levy 9:

    Holy Mother of God, did anybody see this article at Politico?

    Your linkee she no work.

    But I went and read the article anyway and the comments. It’s interesting to find out that scientists from Princeton and Penn are just shills for the leftist agenda and have no credibility.

  119. 119
    El Cid says:

    @Gravenstone:

    …how does one instill the required sense of engagement in the parents of today (and tomorrow)?

    In terms of there being some sorts of policies which could assist in this, there are endless varieties, many of them applied somewhere or another at any given time, from the ways that schools and staff (teachers but not only) interact with parents, to how class members and ages and genders and sizes and subject matter and so forth is structured, and then wider ranging issues like how parents might have more resources and time to devote.

    Or how schools are funded, instead of by property taxes making wealthier areas have their own well-funded schools.

    Even cooler would be to have some sort of sense that a successful education would lead to a decent job.

    But you also have varieties of civic groups and movements which aim to or have some success in involving parents in their kids’ schooling in some effective ways.

    It’s a bit too late to assume a shift back to the sorts of life arrangements to duplicate that of milltowns. Even the owners began to break up milltowns when they proved to be environments in which it was too easy for workers to spend lots of time together and develop a strong sense of common identity, thus leading to a labor force which could assert demands.

  120. 120
    mclaren says:

    Of course these people have a solution for improving education that doesn’t involve firing teachers: privatize everything.

    That’s the glibertarian solution to everything. Privatize it all. Privatize the schools, privatize the army, privatize the municipal water works, privatize electric companies, privatize the libraries, privatize everything.

    Of course, the West already tried that. It was called “the middle ages.”

  121. 121
    gene108 says:

    @Brachiator:

    Nope. Couldn’t possibly be a sucky teacher. And hey, some of your workmates probably show up drunk or too hungover to do their jobs, so these kids had nothing to complain about.

    The point I was trying to make and what Jon Stewart made is in every profession you have people, who are thoroughly average to poor in their job performance.

    I would argue most people, in most professions, are somewhere between slightly above average to slightly below average, but no one is declaring we need fire the bottom 5% to 10% of ‘x’ profession all the time.

  122. 122
    folkbum says:

    @Brachiator:

    Does this apply to tenured teachers?

    It applies only to tenured teachers. Probationary teachers (first three years) can be fired pretty much at any time.

  123. 123
    kay says:

    @Gravenstone:

    So, aside from fixing the education system from within, how does one instill the required sense of engagement in the parents of today (and tomorrow)?

    If you didn’t do well at school, you don’t have good memories and you’re not likely to engage in any voluntary efforts to enter one.
    I see this with the parents of the juvenile delinquents I represent. Further, when they DO enter a school to discuss their kid, they hear nothing positive. It may be true that there’s nothing positive for the teacher to say, but I completely understand why they’re 1. reluctant to enter at all, and 2. reluctant to return once they do.
    People just don’t voluntarily enter places or engage in situations that are overwhelmingly negative, in their past experience and their current perception. That isn’t how they are. They won’t do that.

  124. 124
    ArchPundit says:

    @folkbum:

    The failing—and, of course, in many ways it is failing—is on the part of principals, who think it’s easier to shuffle bad teachers off to a different school than to work with them for a year to try to help them be better.

    Or being a afraid to fire people with political connections. One teacher who was fired in Saint Louis that I know of made multiple spelling mistakes on easy words on her bulletin boards (not the extent of her incompetence, but just a good example) and she’d been around for years. Prior principals had been afraid to do anything because of some political connection.

    I mean think about the load of crap the right wing has gotten everyone to believe. There are tons of bad teachers out there and there is nothing anyone can do about it because they can’t be fired and yet the administration isn’t to blame for not doing their damn paperwork.

    The only time a union defends a bad teacher that I’ve seen is when the bad administrator doesn’t document the teacher is incompetent.

  125. 125
    ArchPundit says:

    @kay:

    It’s also true that many of the same parents aren’t very good readers and are afraid to read to their kids compounding the other problems. Getting parents to understand you don’t have to be a good reader to read with your kid when they are very young is essential to getting the kids off to a good start.

  126. 126
    Poopyman says:

    Unusual that an open thread has pretty much stuck to the topic up top.

    Anyway, since this is Open Thread, what’s up with this?
    Carl Icahn to Return All His Client’s Money

    Curious. Getting out before the big -fail-fall?

  127. 127
    El Cid says:

    @mclaren: I don’t think that the majority of the time they’re advocating “privatize” so that these public institutions are turned over to the free market.

    I think they mean “privatize” in the sense of Boris Yeltsin handing over former Soviet industries directly into the hands of hand-chosen recently high-level Soviet apparatchiks who then become rich having been giften a large company or entire economic sector. Or any number of functions in the Iraq invasion and occupation handed directly to Cheney’s friends in Halliburton and so forth.

    This they call “privatization”.

  128. 128
    Mnemosyne says:

    @El Cid:

    Even cooler would be to have some sort of sense that a successful education would lead to a decent job.

    That’s really one of the secrets no one wants to talk about: all those young black men that people wring their hands about dropping out are doing it for perfectly rational reasons. They know that a high school diploma isn’t going to get them anything better than the manual labor job they can get as a dropout (and that’s if they’re lucky to find a job at all), so why do they have to be locked in a classroom all day learning things that will be of absolutely no use to them?

    Yes, involved parents are key, but if your parents think that education is a waste of time because you’ll never be able to get a job that’s any better than the crappy one your father or grandfather had anyway, it’s pretty hard to convince them that education is important.

  129. 129
    dooshab says:

    Why Liberals Only Care About Protecting Bad Teachers at the Expense of the Children

    by: Megan McDumbass

    First of all, I know the stupid liberals are going to attack me for saying this, but I really think we ought to fire the bad teachers. I know, I know, all you pot-smoking, baby-killing liberals out there who don’t care about the kids are saying, “But how could you do that to the poor teachers!” Well, I said it, because I am one of the brave ones valiantly sticking up for those poor bastard kids whose parents take my rich white person money to buy expensive cars.

    While sitting in my fancy office, I often look out the window and see the brown and black kids struggling to get by, as they walk home from school having been taught by those immoral greedy whores, and I think to myself, “Gee, they really deserve better. We should make sure their teachers get shit pay and don’t have any job protection or health care at all. That will make the kids learn better!”

    In fact, I don’t understand why we can’t just make the teachers live in their classrooms? If they don’t have bills to pay, why would they even need a salary at all? They could clean the school for food, saving the districts money on needless things like creepy janitors. Their families could always come and visit them, as long as it doesn’t interfere with children learning. Because that’s the most important thing: the children. And learning.

    Because as we smart, rich, white people know, learning is seventy-five percent good. And liberals are forty-five percent bad, meaning of course that I’m totally right.

  130. 130
    ArchPundit says:

    @gene108:

    Missouri is considering a bill where every school district has to split their teacher corps into thirds. One third will be highly paid, one third medium pay, one third poorly paid based essentially on how their students do on standardized testing.

    No discussion is being had in the Lege that just possibly, the quality of teachers isn’t distributed evenly across districts. In a just world, those proposing the bill would receive merit pay leading to them being in the bottom third of legislators.

  131. 131
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Brachiator:

    That’s your argument? Substitute teachers aren’t really teachers, so they what happens here doesn’t matter?

    Your argument seems to be that a one day or one week substitute teacher has far more influence on students than their regular teacher.

    Of course, when a revolving door of substitutes become the regular teachers because of cutbacks and the kids have absolutely no consistency from day to day, that’s a whole other problem, but it’s not because a substitute in Orange County showed up drunk at school.

  132. 132
    kay says:

    @ArchPundit:

    Teachers, in my experience, did well in school. It’s just a completely different experience if you didn’t.
    I don’t have any solutions, but I did have a parent tell me the smell hits her when she walks in the door. We laughed at that, because I know exactly what she means.
    That is not a good memory for her. Not because she had poor teachers, but because her whole experience at school was negative. She didn’t do well there. She doesn’t like to revisit that.

  133. 133
    Ruckus says:

    As in everything else they rattle on about, conservatives have no, none, nada, plans, actions or ideas on how to govern reasonably, democratically. They never have and never will. Because they are always, always, always about no more government than these 3 reasons:
    1. Protect their own property
    2. Force their morals upon everyone else while not having to observe those themselves
    3. To protect their ability to steal make earn money.

  134. 134
    Bostondreams says:

    @Brachiator:

    Actually, no, in my experience, most substitute teachers are NOT actually teachers. In my district, at least, all that is required to be a sub is to have an AA degree, pass a background check, and be breathing. Most subs simple take role and assign the book work or video the absent teacher left behind. They are there to make sure the kids don’t die, basically. A typical sub is a babysitter, pure and simple. Now, long term subs are generally a different story.

    And it is very possible to fire a teacher with tenure if that teacher refuses to follow instructions. At my own school, when the state came in and told the English department that they would not be teaching literature or grammar, but would instead focus on FCAT reading skills, one teacher initially refused. She was told that she would be fired and replaced, and the union said that there was nothing they could do. It would be documented insubordination. So yes, you can fire teachers with tenure, and it’s not that difficult if all the t’s are crossed and the i’s are dotted.

  135. 135
    Bostondreams says:

    @folkbum:

    In my district, they have delayed giving professional contracts to newer teachers. We have teachers here who have been here five years still on an annual contract, justified by an argument about the need to control costs should there be budget cuts.

  136. 136
    ArchPundit says:

    @Bostondreams:

    Now, long term subs are generally a different story.

    Even this depends on the district. Long term subs in the City of Saint Louis often have AA degrees. They have been trying to change that, but it still occurs.

  137. 137
    Bostondreams says:

    @Bostondreams:

    Ha, two typos in 5 words. Sheesh. Sorry.

  138. 138
    Brachiator says:

    @gene108:

    I would argue most people, in most professions, are somewhere between slightly above average to slightly below average, but no one is declaring we need fire the bottom 5% to 10% of ‘x’ profession all the time.

    This brings us around again to one commenter who mentioned the idea of teaching as a calling. Teachers ain’t a freaking priesthood, and yet the idea of firing any teacher apparently scares the Baby Jebus out of some people.

    But Stewart’s observation is totally bogus. Crappy employees get fired all the time, and there are even mechanisms to remove attorneys and even doctors from practice. Shit, even Charlie Sheen ultimately got fired.

    But to be clear, I don’t for a nanosecond accept any idea that just firing teachers is the magic answer to issues relating to education, and the idea of just lopping off some arbitrary “bottom” 5% or 10% of teachers is as stupid as the idea of “across the board tax cuts.”

    @folkbum:

    It applies only to tenured teachers. Probationary teachers (first three years) can be fired pretty much at any time.

    Thanks for the clarification. One of the things I like about the program as you describe it is that principals and teachers are both involved (as opposed to pitting teachers against principals or other school administrators). Sadly, Los Angeles school officials fight off almost any mechanisms for removing non-performing teachers. In what area of the country did this program start that you speak about?

  139. 139

    McArdle was thoroughly debunked and mocked for her last post on Elizabeth Warren’s study yet here she is again, passing off the same old crap as support for her new crap. Refuting her is utterly futile as long as she is never held accountable for her work.

    McArdle’s blog was named on of the 25 best financial blogs by Time; she was placed on the top of the heap with Krugman, Naked Capitalism, DeLong and The Big Picture. They work hard to create informative work that educates the public; McArdle churns out whatever has been wafting through her thick skull and makes a small fortune. She is marketed as a brilliant thinker and a very knowledgeable person.

    Why do we even bother?

    You want to solve the teacher problem? Solve the poverty problem, the racism problem, the infrastructure problem, the capitalist cronyism problem. Stop giving property tax breaks to corporations, stop ruining the economy so property values sink, stop letting ideologues run education, stop the drug war, stop the constant devaluing of teaching.

    Let’s say you are hired to build a house. You are not allowed to choose the supplies; you must make do with what you are given, even if the wood is wet and the pipes have holes and there’s not enough 2x4s. All your best, most experienced workers quit after three years because they are so frustrated. The inspectors change their rules every year. The owners refuse to pay for all the equipment you need and refuse to give you any input. And then the owners tell you that they will pay you based on the quality of the house’s construction.

    Finally, your society tells you that your work is bad because you’re lazy, and if were easier to fire bad builders, houses would be better made.

    And all the time, the people imposing these problems and restrictions on you and are telling you that you are a crappy builder own their own building company, and just can’t wait until you are out of business so they can take over.

  140. 140

    […] even the basic premise that we’re talking about tenured teachers here, so at least I got further than John Cole: I’m not even going to bother linking McMegan’s latest piece about why she is chomping at the […]

  141. 141
    liberal says:

    @Susan of Texas:

    Stop giving property tax breaks to corporations…

    Why should we give property tax breaks to anyone?

  142. 142
    YellowJournalism says:

    @Bostondreams: I was a sub because I couldn’t find a full-time teaching job, and because I wanted to get some more experience. (I would say substituting gave me classroom management skills I never would have learned in my ed courses.) I hate to admit it, but I resented the fact that I was lumped in with, for example, bored retirees who gave candy out to keep the kids quiet or the lady who knitted while the class went insane (not old lady, either). Those people kept getting jobs because I would say even more than full-time teaching, substitute teaching is looked down on.

    A good substitute knows when to stick to the material and when to adapt it to the needs of the day, while also bringing in emergency materials (not videos) in case of missing (or totally forgotten/illegible) lesson plans. You basically should be as prepared as much as a regular classroom teacher is expected to be. Unfortunately, many school districts are desperate for subs because who wants to do this for even less pay than a regular teacher? And it’s even worse for substitutes in the teachers aide field, especially for special education classes. My sis started out as a TA sub and is now a full-time TA. She said you wouldn’t believe some of the people who come in as TA subs.

  143. 143
    liberal says:

    @Brachiator:

    Crappy employees get fired all the time, and there are even mechanisms to remove attorneys and even doctors from practice.

    The rate at which attorneys are disbarred and doctors are de-licensed is much lower than it would be in a sane world.

  144. 144
    YellowJournalism says:

    FYWP won’t let me edit, so I apologize for the clunky tone of my previous post.

  145. 145
    Ecks says:

    @Carnacki: naaaaailed iiiiiit.

    Hole in one.

  146. 146
    Suffern ACE says:

    @liberal: Yes, but no one says “Let’s disbar 5% of the lawyers this year” as a policy either. Cause if we scare them that way, they’ll start lawywering like crazy!

  147. 147
    Stefan says:

    This is probably going to sound completely crazy, but what if we paid teachers significantly more money, so that the field would attract better candidates?

    We cannot pay bankers less, because if we did so we’d lose out on the top talent.

    On the other hand, we cannot pay teachers more to attract the top talent, because mcarglebargle. That’s why.

  148. 148
    Triassic Sands says:

    …do these people ever have a solution for improving education beyond “firing bad teachers” and bemoaning wasted education money? Have you ever heard anything?

    Sorry, no time to read all the other comments, and it wouldn’t surprise me if someone else has suggested the same thing I’m going to suggest. Still, the point is important, so I’ll state or re-state it, as the case may be.

    Firing teachers is not the end in itself. The reason the wingers want to fire teachers is because they are protected by unions, and the wingers want to bust the unions. Union busting is just one part of the larger goal, which is to undermine public education and, in the end, make it cheaper for the wealthy to educate their own children in private schools. That’s why vouchers are important. They’re a step toward draining money from public education and funneling it to the wealthy. Often, the argument is framed as a way to help those without a lot of money, especially minorities, because it is possible to get minorities to support policies that appear, on the surface to help them, but which, really are designed to help the rich. Once public education has been shredded and the wealthy are all getting vouchers to pay for their own children’s tuition to private schools, the wingers will no longer have any interest in minorities, low income parents, or the quality of public education.

    This shouldn’t come as a surprise. If one looks at the major economic trends of the last 30-40 years (in the US), they have been all about further enriching the already wealthy. Attacks on teachers and unions, support for charter schools and vouchers are just things the wealthy can do to help cut their own costs and fuel the oligarchy.

  149. 149
    Stillwater says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead: Tax breaks, deregulation and more jesus.

    Jesus is the cake, right?, with tax breaks and dereg. just sprinkled on top?

  150. 150
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Triassic Sands:

    Often, the argument is framed as a way to help those without a lot of money, especially minorities, because it is possible to get minorities to support policies that appear, on the surface to help them, but which, really are designed to help the rich.

    Sounds an awful lot like the way Prop 13 was justified in California. They used lots of horror stories of Grandma losing her house because of rising property taxes, but it sure wasn’t middle-class people who benefited. More like the corporations that are still paying the same property tax rate they did in 1978 thanks to gullible voters.

  151. 151
    chopper says:

    @El Cid:

    Even cooler would be to have some sort of sense that a successful education would lead to a decent job.

    i know. parents who aren’t involved enough to care about their kids getting a good education are shooting their kids in the foot.

    back in the day having a basic education (and i mean basic) was enough to get a decent paying job. it aint anymore. you need college, at least to hook up with what’s left of the middle class (read: white collar jobs that haven’t been sent overseas yet).

    and college aint getting easier to get into.

  152. 152
    Stillwater says:

    @wlrube: Teachers? Screw ‘em and their inflated salaries and benefits, living high on the hog at the taxpayers’ expense. Lazy bums.

    Exactly. Republicans are masters at messaging, no doubt. They instinctively understand that teachers are fundamentally unlike you and me and other honest hard working folk. And they play to our inherent dislike of people who work hard and expect to be fairly compensated for their effort. That’s why the GOP’s proposals are so wildly supported!

  153. 153
    Brachiator says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Your argument seems to be that a one day or one week substitute teacher has far more influence on students than their regular teacher.

    My argument is fiendishly simple.

    Students matter. They’re supposed to get good teachers, including sober substitute teachers. Which is one of the many reasons that I found the proffered argument that “some teachers will be bad, no big deal,” totally unacceptable. How anyone would see this as a plausible defense of teachers is beyond me.

    And it’s not about “influence.” The drunk teacher should never have been allowed to remain on campus. She was a danger to students and to herself. It would have been terrible had this woman ended up getting assaulted. Whatever happened between her and the students should never, never been allowed to happen.

    Students were seen dancing on chairs and tables Friday afternoon when an employee at the school peered inside the classroom at Carl Hankey K-8 School in Mission Viejo, said Jim Amormino, spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. Students said the substitute teacher had started a dance contest in class….
    __
    At 5 p.m., deputies were again called and notified that three sixth-grade boys told officials the teacher had “engaged in misconduct” with the boys. Authorities would not specify what misconduct the boys were referring to, citing an ongoing investigation.

    Here, the substitute clearly exceeds anyone’s definition of “sucky.”

    Of course, when a revolving door of substitutes become the regular teachers because of cutbacks and the kids have absolutely no consistency from day to day

    And this, of course, is the heart of the problem behind the ACLU lawsuit of California schools. But it was not just because of cutbacks, it was also how the teacher’s unions responded to the call for cuts. There needs to be a better way in situations like this.

  154. 154
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Brachiator:

    But was the way the cuts were done the choice of the teachers’ union, or the choice of the administrators? Given the total fucked-upedness of the LA schools system, I think you’re looking at a chicken and egg problem.

    Obviously, if cutbacks by seniority were absolutely necessary, the solution was to count seniority school by school rather than systemwide so you didn’t leave schools without teachers, but I have a hard time believing that decision was made solely by the teachers’ union and the administration totally wanted to do the cuts in a sensible way.

  155. 155
    folkbum says:

    @Brachiator:

    In what area of the country did this program start that you speak about?

    As I said, a midwestern urban district. Because I was posting on my lunch hour, I would prefer not to specify.

  156. 156
    t jasper parnell says:

    @Brachiator: Are those, do you think, subs representative of subs more generally or are these cases extreme events used, perhaps, to throw babies out with multi baths’ water?

  157. 157
    gelfling545 says:

    I was a teacher for many years so take this as you will.

    Today my doctor, who is a superlative doctor, told me he is giving up private practice. I was very upset because he IS a superlative doctor and, at my time in life I have seen many doctors. A few were superlative, most were fine, a very few were bad.

    Well, it’s pretty much the same with teachers. A few are superlative, most are fine and a few are bad. I have to say the number of superlative teachers I have met does outnumber the bad and there are many, many teachers who do ok.

    If anyone is imagining that there is a way to get only superlative teachers (or doctors or anything else), well, they really ARE imagining because life doesn’t work that way.

    I think that this spread is probably is true of most jobs and most people do their job fine – maybe not the absolute greatest – but fine, and that’s all we can expect . And that is all I can expect as I look for another doctor.

  158. 158
    hhex65 says:

    nope, never ever heard anything else from those stupid a-holes. they’re not serious people.

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