November 1, 2011

Source-Wikimedia Commons

In a challenge to the idea that teachers as a group are underpaid, a new study by The Heritage Foundation’s Jason Richwine and the American Enterprise Institute’s Andrew Biggs reveal that teachers are paid more than comparable private sector workers.

“Existing public-school teachers receive wages that are at least as high as comparably skilled workers,” they explain, “while their benefits and job security exceed what they could earn in the private sector. Overall, public-school-teacher compensation exceeds private levels by approximately 52 percent, for a total of more than $120 billion annually in excessive labor costs.”

The key to education reform, however, isn’t to cut salaries across the board, they explain. Instead, school systems should reform their labor contracts and benefits to attract better teachers who can better teach our kids:

While union contracts help secure overcompensation for the average teacher, they may still leave the most valuable teachers underpaid. Much greater flexibility is needed. School administrators need to be able to hire and fire teachers as needed, basing personnel decisions on rigorous value-added evaluations and setting pay based on prevailing market rates. Doing so would help attract better applicants who are willing to be judged by their performance.

Richwine and Biggs further argue that “state and local governments seeking to balance their budgets in difficult times should take a close look at teacher compensation, which is considerably higher than necessary to retain the existing teacher workforce.”

“More fundamental reform of teacher compensation,” they continue, “would scrap the existing rewards for education and experience—and instead pay market rates to teachers who are measurably effective.”

Ultimately, these changes will benefit students, parents, and teachers alike by providing a more competitive teaching and learning environment.

What do you think? How should the public education system be reformed?

Comments (191)

George Brice - November 1, 2011

The public school system is broken. Privatize the whole system immediately – Charter Schools and vouchers?

For several generations the PSS has failed to teach US History, the three R’s, the US Constitution, Citizen responsibility in a free society, Civics, ethics,

Get the Federal Government out of Education, take it back to the states, counties, cities. … The local community should be involved and fund the schools, set the curriculum.

Dean - November 1, 2011

Teacher are absolutely over paid. They work only nine months out of the year and expect compensation for a full year. Divide their salaries by 9, their pay is more than adequate. Most teachers take the 12 month pay option which makes the salaries appear low. This false indicator is always overlooked by everyone.

Doug Foltz - November 1, 2011

The answer is competition. If the government was forced to compete with the private sector on education the quality would sky rocket. Allow parents to choose what school they want their child to attend through vouchers. Competition will breed excellence. When there is no competition there is little motivation to do excellent work. There will always be those teachers that do a fantastic job because they love children and value education, but on the whole the system won’t be fixed without introducing competition.

Tom Curler - November 1, 2011

Reward productive teachers, dismiss ineffective teachers, what a novel idea. Why didn’t anyone think of this before?

Em - November 1, 2011

Spoken like a true person that does not have someone they are close to (spouse) work hard to try and educate these kids. How would you like to be evaluated by what your students learn when 7 kids in your classroom speak 7 different languages. What a bunch of crap. How to fix it? Get the Feds out of teaching, Let the teaches teach.Quit buying from your buddies all these silly programs that don’t teach children crap. Heritage u have received my last dollar.

Ellen - November 1, 2011

Such a broad statement such as made in your article are greatly misleading. I teach in New Hampshire, have 3 certifications, a Masters Degree Plus 29 credits and 11 years experience in special education and I do not even break $40K a year. So kindly do not tell me and others like me that we make so much more than the private sector. It is NOT true. Maybe in some places it is, but not everywhere. Additionally there is no way for teachers to advance themselves as there is in the private sector. ie: a technician can become an engineer, an apprentice can become a professional in his/her field. A teacher can only move to administration There is no other place to move up to. The entire discussion about education reform must include all three components of what goes into making education work; the teachers/administrators and school in general, the local community’s support and funding, and the student and their parents. It is the last component that has disappeared in our culture since about the 1970s. Teachers alone cannot be the teacher, parent, social worker, psychologist, guidance counselor, doctor/nurse and everyone else that it takes to raise a child. We teach, parents must parent, community must support quality schools. Schools need exceptional administrative leadership. It cannot be done by just one component.

Ellen - November 1, 2011

Such a broad statement such as made in your article are greatly misleading. I teach in New Hampshire, have 3 certifications, a Masters Degree Plus 29 credits and 11 years experience in special education and I do not even break $40K a year. So kindly do not tell me and others like me that we make so much more than the private sector. It is NOT true. Maybe in some places it is, but not everywhere. Additionally there is no way for teachers to advance themselves as there is in the private sector. ie: a technician can become an engineer, an apprentice can become a professional in his/her field. A teacher can only move to administration There is no other place to move up to. The entire discussion about education reform must include all three components of what goes into making education work; the teachers/administrators and school in general, the local community’s support and funding, and the student and their parents. It is the last component that has disappeared in our culture since about the 1970s. Teachers alone cannot be the teacher, parent, social worker, psychologist, guidance counselor, doctor/nurse and everyone else that it takes to raise a child. We teach, parents must parent, community must support quality schools. Schools need exceptional administrative leadership. It cannot be done by just one component.

fairness for all - November 1, 2011

In the state of Ga. the waste is in the administrative level both at the high school and college levels. The number of administrators and their salaries should be reduced first. Then each teacher’s pay should be evaluated on what they teach, how well they teach it, and the demand for the particular subject matter she/he can teach.

Elina M. Long - November 1, 2011

You need to get rid of top-heavy adminstraters! Get rid of teachers who only teach when being observed!!

Elina M. Long - November 1, 2011

Get rid of top-heavy administraters! Get rid of teachers who only teach when being observed!

Betty Hanegraaf - November 1, 2011

I would like to see the unions for teachers shut down totally. Preferably we would hire teachers who do the best job of helping children learn. Teaching history, the real history, rather than sexual problems would be a big step plus adding more math. Teachers should be able to lose their jobs if their work was not doing the job required.

Marilyn - November 1, 2011

I taught for 32 yrs. with a master’s degree. In 1995 when I retired, I was making $40,358. I don’t consider this rich! I have my retirement and modest health care subsidy, It is not much! Luckily, I saved into mutual funds which are now taking a hit. Some states may get overpaid, but in the state of Florida we do not!! We were paid by the number of days worked – no work – no pay. The stress alone is not worth any kind of money.

Shelly - November 1, 2011

I worked as a high school math teacher for 9 years. I WISHED I was paid based on performance. For nine months of work, the pay and benefits were not bad. However, education needs to be reformed to attract and keep the high performing teachers. Lets get rid of the unions and pay teachers based on performance and not sonority. Imagine the quality of education we would see.

Linda Faryna - November 1, 2011

Get the government out of the classroom! Real caring teachers are not able to really teach , adjusting to each student’s individual needs, but constantly teaching to meet a pre-determined mark.. A local elementary teacher recently told me that they are discouraged from having reading material that is fictional because reading should be for information only!. Way to suck the joy out of reading! The federal government has NO business in the business of education anyway.

Bill kelly - November 1, 2011

Teachers and Priests/ministers should be the most revered and cherished members of our society. Many of them work exceptionally hard and contribute amazing wealth to America’s moral strength and future health.

Unfortunately, teachers’ unions have contributed to the degeneration of our culture and the dignity of the teaching profession.

Truth will prevail, and the unions will be broke,

William Dietz - November 1, 2011

My wife is a teacher. My mother was a teacher. Both in the same area of the country, so that has a bearing on this issue. Both of them worked for very low pay for many years until they reached the “upper steps” of the pay scale. Now my wife is paid a bit less than someone with her experience and credentials would make around here in the private sector. The problem is, as more students with “special needs” are required to be given special attention, there is less and less time for ALL OF THE OTHER STUDENTS. So, the workload increases due to additional paperwork and other government requirements, the size of the classes gets bigger, the number of courses each teacher must teach is increased, and the number of periods that the teachers have during the day for preparation is reduced. That is the situation in Western Pennsylvania. I believe that the situation is worse in Ohio. So, the best teachers either leave to go to the private sector, or they take an early retirement. By the way, the teachers in Pennsylvania have been making a large contribution toward their retirement (not voluntary) from their salaries for more than 40 years. I don’t know where the teachers are paid so handsomely (maybe in Washington D.C.) but there would not be a useful solution to the problem that would fit every area. My greatest concern is that we are sacrificing the quality of education for the “normal” students in favor of devoting a disproportionate portion of our resources for students with special needs, thereby depriving our society of the benefits that a better education for the majority would produce.

Dan Draper - November 1, 2011

Moving to evidenced based teacher compensation plans is the first key. The second is the measures must assess student strengths and weakness in real time. That is, using a process that provides real time information to the teachers that they can use to improve individual as well as class room performance. We need to move away from high stakes performance measures that only look at a child at the end of the learning cycle.

Jack Elsner - November 1, 2011

I am a retired educator with 42 years as a teacher, principal at every level (Elementary, Junior High and High School) and Assistant Superintendent, Personnel & Labor Relations. As an Assistant Superintendent part of my duties entailed being the School District’s Chief Negotiator with the teacher and classified employee Labor Unions.

First and foremost, the mandatory collective bargaining laws at the state level should be changed so that the local School District Boards of Education can establish the compensation and benefit levels for their employees. School District employees do not need Labor Unions and mandatory bargaining rights. As an example, in California the State Education Code provides all the protection necessary for employees.

Regarding salary levels, Districts must be able to establish competitive salaries in order to attract top notch qualified teachers. While I agree there should be a vehicle for Districts to increase compensation for teachers that preform at a high level. However, student test scores CANNOT be the only criteria. Public School Districts, by their very nature, cannot pick and choose the students they serve. Furthermore, due to the “Out of Control Illegal Immigration” schools are flooded with none English speaking students. To compound matters, most teachers are not qualified to teach non-English speaking students.

Another major negative factor is the massive regulations regarding teacher retention (Tenure) and the difficult process it takes in order to release or fire a Tenured Teacher. I know first hand, as a principal I have gone through that process and it took almost two years of documentation and then two weeks of a formal hearing process. Again, it is possible to terminate a teacher, but most principals are not will and/or able to prepare the required documentation. In addition, at least in California, an attorney needs to be retained.

I personally do not have the answer. However, I do believe the first step must be Teacher Tenure Laws must be taken on by the individual state’s Legislature.
Secondly, the Federal Government should get out of the business of Public Education. States and school districts do not need the Federal Department of Education.

With that said, State Legislatures should allow local communities and Boards of Education to control the education of the students and parents they serve. In short, to much State Government control.

Yes, teacher compensation and benefits need to be addressed. However, there will never be a solution until the Federal Government gets out of education and the Collective Bargaining Laws for public employees at the state level are changed.

George Short - November 1, 2011

The public education system can only be reformed by limiting the Department of Education and reducing the influence of
the Teachers Union. Once this has been accomplished the
market forces will take care of tenure and the overpaid under performing.

Mary Eberle - November 1, 2011

I beg to differ with the article. In states where teachers are not in unions salaries are lower. When I retired from public school my salary for 24hrs of teaching was 56000. What an insult to Texas teachers
We pay our own health benefits and pay 6.2% towards retirement. I have to completely fund my 403b if I really plan to stop working as the state annuity doesn’t begin to pay retirement bills.Perhaps these reasons are why new college graduates don’t choose education ever. DID I mention I had a master’s degree as well
Try offering this type of job to a young person.

John Hazeltine - November 1, 2011

Strong competition in K-12 education will increase productive jobs, improve the national standard of
living, and ultimately protect national security.

Bold steps such as these should be debated:

At federal level:
1. establish 10 year goal of high school education performance in math and science to be within top 5% internationally;
2. abolish Department of Education and funding to states over 5 years.

At state level:
1. adopt national goal stated above;
2. abolish tenure and collective bargaining for public education employees;
3. minimize education department and education code;
4. accumulate all sources of funding within state to be used for vouchers redeemable at any accredited school including traditional public schools, charter schools and private schools;
5. abolish teacher certification requirements.

At school district level:
1. adopt national goal stated above;
2. enforce accreditation requirements including core curriculum for all schools;
3. further facilitate home schooling and virtual schools.

JoAnn Mena - November 1, 2011

Teacher’s like everyone else should be rewarded by there merits and contributions to activities and addressing the needs of the students they teach. These should be more elation of on the job work and they should not receive raises across the board.

frank marks - November 1, 2011

first the dept of education should be defunded and closed at the federal level any rules indicating that every child should be sent to lschools should be removed. there is no need for the old fashion notion that everychild needs to attend school .. request thatr any state reevaluate their state and local schoool systems and that they stop local school tax collection and distribute monies for education from the state level to the local level based on budget applications by the local level presented for modification or approaval..

Winston Mitchell - November 1, 2011

My comment submitted to Heritage Foundation today as it pertains to excessive pay for public school teachers compared with those in the private sector with comparable skills:

“My wife works as a classified employee in our rural Oregon school district. The advocacy that continuously reaches her reflects the politics of the National Education Association. And though a very traditional naturalized citizen, she can’t help but be unwittingly co-opted.

Months ago, NEA releases began to strongly press teachers and classified employees to vote for Obama’s re-election and for a straight Democrat ticket. Public school education has become anathema and very much at odds with the Founding Fathers’ intentions that our experiment with liberty be for the people of the people and by the people.

Ere long, the relentless leftist cant of the public school system will have so indoctrinated our budding electorate that it will guarantee the NEA’s desired outcomes in the voting booth.” Thus Franklin’s famous answer to a woman who asked him, “What have you given us?” To which he replied “A republic, Madam, if you can keep it.” We’ve come a long, nearly lethal way from the “Miracle at Philadelphia” as portrayed by Martha Drinker Bowen and strongly attested by George Washington.”

I fear the end is in sight.

John Haazen - November 1, 2011

Vouchers. Let parents be consumers. Let them decide where they want to send their kids and what they want their kids to be taught. The teacher’s unions have had a monopoly for too long and they producing “graduates” who can’t read their diplomas – but they sure feel good about themselves. Public teacher unions have been a disaster for this country.

Winston Mitchell - November 1, 2011

My comment submitted to Heritage Foundation today as it pertains to excessive pay for public school teachers compared with those in the private sector with comparable skills:

“My wife works as a classified employee in our rural Oregon school district. The advocacy that continuously reaches her reflects the politics of the National Education Association. And though a very traditional naturalized citizen, she can’t help but be unwittingly co-opted. Months ago, NEA releases began to strongly press teachers and classified employees to vote for Obama’s re-election and for a straight Democrat ticket. Public school education has become anathema and very much at odds with the Founding Fathers’ intentions that our experiment with liberty be for the people of the people and by the people.

Ere long, the relentless leftist cant of the public school system will have so indoctrinated our budding electorate that it will guarantee the NEA’s desired outcomes in the voting booth.” Thus Franklin’s famous answer to a woman who asked him, “What have you given us?” To which he replied “A republic, Madam, if you can keep it.” We’ve come a long, nearly lethal way from the “Miracle at Philadelphia” as portrayed by Martha Drinker Bowen and strongly attested by George Washington.”

I fear the end is in sight.

Hoyt Elrod - November 1, 2011

Numerous studies have shown that children/people who want to learn will learn, overcoming many obstacles in the process. All children need a solid foundation in 3 R’s. That sounds simple but is not. We need teachers who understand & can teach the techniques/methodologies of learning, of Number Theory & of Physical Relational Principles. This requires teachers with the best minds founded in early childhood development & advanced teaching methods shored up by the best minds in Math, Science & Psychology. This process must start very early, undergo constant evaluations & adjustments based on the progress of the students. Tailoring the programs for different groups is essential. Once students have established this knowledge/skill level they need to enter a more Freeform phase of learning, less structured & more loosely channeled with nudges where needed & assists where requested. Students will take many different paths from this point on requiring mostly guidence & encouragement to pursue their desires.
Some of this type of Education is taking place in our Private/Charter Schools. However, more is needed and on an accelerated basis. Block Grants to the States with periodic reviews of their results by Non-Governmental, Non-Partisan groups of Educators & Parents would be a good first step.

Beyond Elementary & High School ther needs to be more emphesis placed on Advanced Technical & Vocational Education as opposed to trying to heard everyone into a Four Year College which may not be practical or appropriate for many of them. Here, the expertise/experience of the accomplished Scientist, Engineer, Industrialist & Business Man should be employed to help guide students toward productive areas of endeavor

Additional formal Education, of ones own choosing & pace, can undertaken later and will most likely be more effective.

ChimpImp - November 1, 2011

There should be a method of weeding out teachers who are just milking the system so that they can be replaced by dedicated teachers.

Donald A.Drew - November 1, 2011

CONTINUED: I really can not see any changes in what our government is screwing us on. Quite frankly, I never see any results, of your attack, on out present government decisions
that have changed anything. I am sending you money for what, NO RESULTS.

THANKS BUT NO THANKS. Don Drew

Bennett C. Moulder - November 1, 2011

It is hard for me to believe the Richwine and Biggs findings. I was a public school teacher in the late 1950s and early 1960s (later earned my Ph.D. and became a college professor). Salaries were certainly low in those days–mine was $5200/year in 1962-3 with an earned Masters Degree. Public schools certainly need fixing these days. Beginning teachers should be more carefully evaluated, and the poor beginning teachers should not get tenure, since once on tenure it is almost impossible and extremely expensive to fire a poor teacher.. If only competent and effective teachers became tenured, the subject of merit pay, etc., would not be nearly so important.

Jeff Yetter - November 1, 2011

There are several facets to the education issues in this country. First and foremost is the federal Dept of Ed.,which should IMMEDIATELY be De-funded, Disbanded, and Discarded. In close order behind, scrutiny should be given,at a LOCAL level, to compensation for educators. Sadly, complicity between governing boards and labor entities has created what is fundamentally a protected class which is NOT in the best interest of the educational needs of the students. Additionally, commercial interests and much-vaunted higher academia have created “educational curricula” that are convoluted, confusing, overpriced, and overreaching. I would argue that the generation that came out of one room, one instructor classrooms built lasting infrastructure, won WW II, put man on the moon, and the list goes on. Sometimes “Progress” as named is not Progress in fact. Don’t short-sell the basics!

Kay - November 1, 2011

Personnel overpaid and overstaffed are the administrators–not the teachers. Teachers touch and mold the minds, hearts and souls of the youth of our nation on a daily basis. Teachers are the lowest paid professionals who respond to our nation’s highest calling. Our nation’s future lies in the education of our youth. In the family, if you want a child to succeed, it is vital to nurture the mother. In the nation, if you want a child to succeed, it is vital to nurture the teacher.

Jack - November 1, 2011

Background…I taught Math and Physics for 7 years in a suburban school district in Philadelphia. My educational background was BS. in Math, MS. in Physics, and MS.in Engineering Science. None of which were awarded in schools of Education, fortunately!
Solution…Abolish the DOE and schools of Education, they produce incompetent teachers who purport to know their subject matter yet are unable to balance their own checkbook! Hire people from the private sector with degrees obtained from professional Colleges and Universities that specialize in real majors, not educational majors! Return the educational process to the states, the
federal government control, as usual, has failed! Support the voucher system so parents have a choice to select schools that their children will receive the best education available! Rid all of the unions associated with education, teachers will never be considered professionals when they sheepishly pay the union thugs! Eliminate tenure, pay for performance as is done in the private sector! Finally, and most significant, institute a system that ensures that any subject matter that is taught is based on facts not teachers opinions! I have taught, observed, and cringed listening to students thoughts on a variety of subjects, none of which were based on facts, that Mr. or Mrs. so-and-so said! Just mt thoughts, I could go on and on but but there is insufficient space!

Thomas Nine - November 1, 2011

Don’t lump all state’s teacher salaries into one jello bowl. My wife teaches in Georgia and salaries range in the mid thirties before taxes, and go up from there based on advanced degrees… but not by a whole lot of $$ compared to the N.E. and West Coast. She works 12 hour days routinely and doesn’t have a personal life except during two months each Summer. I take exception with lumping her in with big union teacher states like NJ.

Jim Haynes - November 1, 2011

For many years I have been shouting about the overcompensation of our educators, all of which has fallen on deaf ears. The Madison Ave charlatans have built a myth surrounding the poor teacher spending money out “typically her” meager earnings to buy supplies for her students. Nonsense! This packaged fertilizer is always trotted out come election time to justify digging even deeper in to the tax payer’s pocket, just so they can pour money into an already financially blotted school system. The truth is most of these people draw a full year’s wages for about five months work and could not even hold a normal job because they are unqualified for the real world.

L. Larry Boothe - November 1, 2011

I think the Federal Department of Education should be abolished. If the federal government wants to help education it should be done through “Block Grants” to the State Boards of Education. There should be no strings attached to the Grant.

In addition to the above, the Union’s should be told that the state governments will no longer collect dues and pass the monies to the Union. The Union’s should be told to collect the dues from its membership directly. This would release the state tax commission from doing the administration for the Union as well as the Boards of Education at the state and local level.

All of the states should “right to work” states. This could be done by amendment to the Constitution or by the states amending their constitutions. Union’s really have no business operating in the public sectors of our government. Government unions should be abolished totally. Their funding comes directly and indirectly from public employees. Public employee’s are paid with public monies which in fact is the revenue received from taxes, fees, regulations and basically the American Taxpayer.
I am confident if the above can be done, our education systems would work much better. There are other reforms that are too detailed to address here. Thank you. L. Larry Boothe

kae - November 1, 2011

Teacher’s wages/benefits should be comparable to the private sector….no exceptions! Teachers should be fired if they aren’t doing their jobs…just like the private sector. Our schools have become training camps for little socialists and we used to have the best schools in the world. Liberals have messed up our schools!!!

William F Mc Laughlin - November 1, 2011

No one should be guaranteed a job in less then 20 years service.on the job. In a negotiation with Union employees both sides give and take on issues. What did the teachers union give back to receive their eleborate benefits ? Nothing except to return to work. I don’t blame the Union,I blame the parties who represented the people during the negotiation.

Francis Reilly - November 1, 2011

Step one should be transparency in public labor negotiations, all too often (certainly here in New Jersey) between the union rep(s) and negotiators appointed by the very politicians the unions help elect.

Lynn - November 1, 2011

This is just dancing around the problem. Schools can be improved vastly and easily by simply giving the purchasing power to the the individual parents-students. Schools would then sell themselves to the students and their families rather than bureaucrats. Right now, the students are not customers and it shows.
- a retired teacher.

Mary Joan McConnell - November 1, 2011

The Heritage Foundation has published comments on how teachers’ salaries can be reformed and revised. The issues are well thought-out and well argued, and I agree with their conclusions wholeheartedly.

Michael Wilkinson - November 1, 2011

The Heritage Study reinforced what probably most of us already knew, that Teachers are adequately compensated. The Heritage Study has provided it’s members and the public with facts NOT Union rhetoric, that can be discussed, hopefully dispassionately. It is my humble opinion, that somehow, someway, we must wrest control of our schools from the Employee unions, and school boards that are beholden to the unions, institute a choice of schools, and we need to concentrate more on the three R’s.

iBill Penrose - November 1, 2011

I have read the story about teachers wages and I agree with some of the ideas. However there is one paragraph that I whole heartedly disagree with. When you mentioned fundamental reform of compensation by scrapping education and experience—- that is a very good guide when choosing a teacher.
I think a lot of teachers would not acquire a Masters degree if they were not forced into continued education and seniority should always be used as a incentive for staying at one particular school. It sounds to me that you are using a play on words to dump the union.
I am not a teacher and I don’t like unions. However I think we should be fair. I also wonder how you can rank a high school teacher fairly when a student is reading at a 3rd grade level.
We have serious problems in the education system and I think it starts with the administrators not doing their job and being way over paid.

Stephen Lewis Jr - November 1, 2011

First thing to do is to abolish the NEA and Department of Education which have been helping to dumb down America for as long as they have been able to. Second, is to 100% remove all federal standards that have been set upon all schools which hamper the states in actual education. Third, is to efficiently kill of the teachers’ unions and remove all union bargaining across the table and institute in each state performance pay for all the teachers. Those step would help to elevate public education to a new level. Even though, a number of so called experts would say otherwise and say we should stick to this existing failed system.

Donald S. Redington - November 1, 2011

At the very least bring ALL control and functions back to local control, begin teaching instead of indoctrination, thech OUR history, good and bad, and eliminate the unions. Otherwise privatize

Susan Bannon - November 1, 2011

I taught 34yrs.One yr. it was discovered that a math teacher had 178 students for 5 classes, another 167, another 154, while another had 85 and the last had 86. Each taught 5 classes. The last 2 claimed to be the best math teachers in the school yet they each had a class of 5 and a class of 8. One of the 2 had been going in all summer long hand picking 2 teachers students and No. of students. Now,you want to pay us acording to pupil gain. You’ll have to first verify that students are not hand picked for special teachers. Also, I’ve heard over and over, “You give the tougher, harder to handle, harder to teach and the heavier numbers” to those who can handle them. Why not get rid of the teachers who can’t handle children so all classes can be smaller and not filled wth difficult children. I could site many more examples. Some teachers are shown favoritism because their young, child of higher ups, their cute, they put out, can write grants well, it’s easier, etc. This is all well hidden but has a bearing on the educational outcome. Where’s the Principal and what is he/she doing? Some work hard and are invaluable to the school, others, it may be better if they weren’t there. The discresenary funds, how much and where do they go?Some teachers have alot of access to them, others don’t even know they exist. Some are used to make the Principal appear good to the right people.

eileen Penrod - November 1, 2011

Yes the public school system needs to be reformed! Our grandchildren are learning less and less in a system the is brain washing them. Al Gore’s environmental film was required watching in the Elko County School District when it came out several yr ago. Their wages and benefits need to be cut. Why should we hard working American be paying the wages & benifits of substandard teaching?

William Pierce - November 1, 2011

Do away with national education leave that to the local
level

krys - November 1, 2011

This is my Opinion and the “Truth” no matter who does or dosen’t like it.
The reform needs to start with Principles and
Superintendants whom alot of them are “Double Dipping” at the schools for years and years. Then it needs to go to Board Members where there is alot of “Double Dipping” again. Next go to the Colleges where the Dean and others who do nothing are over paid along with board members.

The Teachers and Custodians who are Lumped in with the Teachers since they have “No” union to represent them who also are Forced to pay Union Dues wether they are a member or not, get the the same treatment as Teachers but don’t get all the paid Holidays or 3 month vacation, The Custodians work Year Round.

Teachers buy alot of the Class Room articles they need that the schools don’t provide! So get off their backs and stop the rederick and Finger Pointing at the Teachers making them the Scape Goats. because it takes down all the Custodians in the Process who are innocent road kill.

A Custodians Take Home Pay is “$24,342.61″, no matter the size of the Family. The amount showing is my Husbands pay for “2 People”

HOW is that being over paid!!??

So far in this mess of the Eelected Officials doings they have not said One Word about the Custodians being railroaded into this since “ALL” are effected!

Elected Officials made this mess and are passing it off so they don’t look bad. It’s them and other elected officials that have caused this DEBT and Poverty that have increassed taxes and everything else.

More government people who are over paid. Ohio alone increased the size of Government by “36%”. Put the Blame where it belongs at their Door Step and Not the Teachers or the Custodians who have “No” say out of the percecussions and accusations.

Who ever done this so called “Study” did a Lousy job about getting the facts and a great job of “Distorting” the facts again.

Have them actually go into schools and watch everything a teacher and Custodians have to do since they are part of this scam of the Elected Officials trying to cover their arses.

They are the ones who Plundered funds not earned and throwed this Country into the Mess it is now for frivilous, self centered and greedy reasons. Who have not sacraficed Anything and admitted they would never do cuts ect. on how they are doing things.

Sincerely A Custodians Wife.

Rich Havens - November 1, 2011

As a former permanent substitute teacher ESRP in the 1960s in Warren Michigan when I was in my senior year in college I had all of the other “Certified” teachers sending their students to me for advice and critiques.
When I asked some of the “Certified” teachers why they were sending their students to me, they said “You have industrial experience” which I did have but couldn’t get certified without going back to take the idiotic education classes required for certification.
My supervisor a former teacher from Detroit’s Cass Technical High school wanted to hire me but that I had to take the classes to get certified. I looked into the classes and the requirements and told my boss that I had better things to do than waste my time taking the insulting classes required.
I instead took a job with Westinghouse Astro-Nuclear laboratory in Pittsburgh and later became a trainer of engineers. The educational union concept began in Michigan as I understand and should be called the Michigan Extortion Association and then the NEA according called the National Extortion Association.
Teachers are state employees who are far overpaid and in my experience often incompetent or lazy especially after they get tenure which should be abolished.
A lady friend of mine who was a teacher kept complaining about not being paid enough. I got tired of hearing it and told her if you think you’re worth more quit and find a job if you can at a salary that is acceptable.
She quit complaining and we soon parted ways…Yeah!!!

Vernon Jones - November 1, 2011

Eliminate the US Dept. of Education and SEIU.

Kevin Price - November 1, 2011

I am a teacher, of 3 years. I am one of those teachers that has not stayed in a place for longer than a year yet, for life changing reasons alone not because I didn’t like the schools. Because of my tenure as a non-tenure teacher and moving around in schools I have seen a few things that would help keep good teachers on the job. First, the administration must back-up the teachers. Yes, there are teachers who are terrible, but we cannot regulate the system according to these. Parents must not be allowed to over power a teacher when they don’t agree with a grade that their child earned. When a child gets in trouble the administration must do something about and not say, “well, they were having a bad day…we need to give them more chances.” NO!!! Administrators need to be seen throughout the school day by students and teachers in order to convey to them that they care about what is happening in their school. Discipline needs to be a high priority for an administrator’s duty. Department of Education, stop giving our administrators more and more paperwork to fill out so they can do their job.
Second, Department of Education, stop giving teachers more paperwork to fill out so they can teach. Teachers’ primary job is to record every little move they make so they can back-up their teaching. What happened to the trust? Well, the bad teachers wrecked the trust and instead of the board of education getting rid of these terrible teachers they kept them on and built regulations around them to “deter” them from doing it again. I can tell you this from experience, good teachers plan and plan and plan for their classes. Some even plan for 3 to 4 hours a day after the school day, again these are the good teachers. I’ve heard of and know of these good teachers going out of their way to get another degree in order to get out of teaching because of the system. Yeah, let’s have those terrible teachers, who don’t plan at all for their classes and GIVE their students good grades to please the administration and parents, stay on the job and “teach” our kids what the board requires them to “teach”.
Discipline discipline discipline discipline.
Get rid of the paperwork, let teachers teach, allow teachers to take their students on field trips without an act of congress, get rid of tenure, hire teachers based on abilities, pay them according to their hours spent teaching and planning (at school), get rid of NEA, Department of Education, No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, and etc.

TRC - November 1, 2011

BINGO! That is the right recipe. Unlock the system and we will all be able to have direct impact on our own schools and there won’t be a need for a voucher system.

Doris Anderson - November 1, 2011

Having administrators determine who the best teachers are is dangerous. As a career public school teacher here in San Bernardino, California, I can testify that most administrators are hired to fulfill a politically correct agenda. Some are incredibly inept and poorly educated, have been poor classroom teachers themselves, and they tend to practice favoritism for their choice of race, among other things. I have seen some “so dumb they don’t even know they are dumb.” A glaring example is of a new ethnic-based hire who tried to tell seasoned teacher what curricula they should teach and how she could relate to the kids because of her past gang involvement. She ended up doing drugs with the kids and had to leave at spring break because a student had gotten her pregnant. I could give many examples.

E.A. Fraser - November 1, 2011

Perhaps the most serious problem of evaluating teachers is the individuals who do the evaluating. While it is admittedly true that after tenure is granted, it is difficult to fire a teacher, the usual first three to five years of the newly hired teacher provide ample time for the administration to observe and try to correct any teaching difficulties that are identified. This represents the ideal working environment for the person to be observed and for the observer to find sufficient time in the schedule to perform the task in a clear, professional manner.

F. Nassetta - November 1, 2011

Administration costs are the problem.. Compare Publc School Admin costs with those in Parochial Schools and you’ll see it.

Carolyn Rickard - November 1, 2011

As a retired teacher with a Masters Degree plus 20 hours advanced education, I disagree that “Existing public-school teachers receive wages that are at least as high as comparably skilled workers.” However I do agree with the bold steps listed, except abolishing teacher certification requirements. My biggest concern is that so many NEA members support and TEACH liberal principles.

Bill Matthews - November 1, 2011

As a retired principal, retired Army Colonel, and Heritage member, I must challenge your generalization because in my state of Texas we don’t have teacher unions and we don’t have tenure. The high percentage of teachers who leave the profession during their first 5 years and the number of vacancies are not indicative of a high salary or a cushy job. Comparing them to hourly employees is also unfair because teachers routinely work more than 60 to 80 hours per week because it takes that to get the job done. There is no such thing as overtime for these salaried employees. I intensely oppose teacher unions as I oppose unions for all professionals. Mass education is not a popular field of work because of the massive public criticism and lack of support it has received during the last 20 years.

Stefani Woodams - November 1, 2011

Abolish the Federal Dept. of Education – an un-needed expense! Get rid of at least 75% of all administrators – talk about expense!
Instead of K-12 based on age related classes have small neighborhood schools of no more than 30 students K-12 all together. Older kids have to learn to help with younger kids. Oh My! They might learn compassion, social skills, patience and how to deal with children!

Who was the misguided fool who thought children should be divided by age? Where in life does that happen but in schools? Let all the students progress through the curriculum at the pace they learn it with no attachment to age sorted grades. They graduate when they learn the skills. Have a curriculum that teaches them how to create their own “job” or livelyhood instead of just how to get accepted into a college. That alone could eliminate the unemployment problem.

Stop holding teachers completely responsible for student performance. Students are responsible for their own performance and attending school is a privilege – not a right. Toss out kids who are incorrigible bullies or unwilling to work.

Hire and fire teachers in the market place based on their skills. Do away with the requirement that “teachers” need masters degrees. Some of my best teachers never even attended a college!
Use of computers could tie all the small “school houses” together without losing the wonderful plusses of a small school.

Schools as we know them are one of my peeves! They could be so much more and we settle for such a sad warehousing of our brilliant young people.

Richard Connerley - November 1, 2011

As a retired public schoool teacher I can affirm that your statistics are wrong. My mother was a school teacher, I was a school teacher and I have a daughter that is presently teaching . Salaries, retirements, benefits are all marginal at best. I hired a plumber the other day and I can assure you my salary never in my wildest dreams came close to what he charged me. The same goes if you go to a garage for work to be done on your car. the trades are way ahead of school teaching. Health care workers are way ahead of teacher salaries… I do not know where you obtained your information , but you are out to lunch on your statements. If this is a representation of your facts in all cases I do not know who to trust. I thought that Heritage was my refuge from all the lies out there..

Doris Anderson - November 1, 2011

Having administrators determine who the best teachers are is dangerous. As a retired career public school teacher here in San Bernardino, California, I can testify that some administrators are hired to fulfill a politically correct agenda. Some are incredibly inept and poorly educated, have been poor classroom teachers themselves, and they tend to practice favoritism for their ethnic group and employment-seeking family members, among other things. I have seen some “so dumb they don’t know they are dumb.” A glaring example was of an ethnic-based hire who tried to tell seasoned academic teachers what they should teach and how she could relate to the kids because of her past gang involvement. She ended up doing drugs with the kids and had to leave at spring break because a student had gotten her pregnant. That incident was horribly demoralizing to our whole school. I could give many examples of other administrative ignorance/ineptitude.
Teachers in secondary schools should have academic majors–not education majors. Courteous behavior must be enforced as the norm, and rudeness/bullying toward staff or other students should not be tolerated. No excuses. Union membership must be free choice. It would stop the dictatorial edicts of a few politically minded “leaders.”
Tenure for teachers who have proven their skills and worth is needed as a buffer against the “slings and arrows” of poorly prepared administrators. School Administration as a degree, especially a Ed.D., in most cases doesn’t guarantee any kind of competence. The best administrators I’ve worked with have been just good, decent people who have proven that they know how to teach, who have the skills to recognize good teaching when they see it, and to foster a positive attitude toward their teachers as welll as around campus as a whole. Most teachers get very few “attaboys” from administration.
Kids thrive and like to come to school when they know they are valued, have a safe and positive classroom atmosphere, and that the teachers believe that each student has some kind of special giftedness which they can discover and share with others. Kids believe there is hope for them when they know they are not being taught down to.
There’s no big mystery. Insist on decent behavior, teach academics, and stop making excuses.
Finally, the federal Department of Education is like most bureaucracies. It is like a cancer. It wants to grow. It should be gradually cut way down–maybe even eliminated.

John, Illinois - November 1, 2011

I had a carefully prepared set of questions when the local Superintendant of Education appeared on a local talk show. I succeeded in getting on the air. I started out by asking if more money would improve the educational result of the local school district. He spent about 3 minutes blovaiating about how much it wuld improve educationin the district. I asked how he would do it. He explained that he would increase teacher pay, which would improve educational result. I had a couple other leading questions until I dropped the bomb: “If imcreasing teacher pay would result in improvements in educational performance, does that mean that you would fire the current staff and hire more expensive teachers, or do you mean that the current staff is sandbagging, and if you give them more money, they will increase their efforts? They went to a commercial, and I heard a dial tone.

William Person - November 1, 2011

I agree with George Brice completley and would add any and all schools public or private, should also teach free enterprise and entrepreneurialism!!

Leroy Gloyna - November 1, 2011

I have alsways heard about teachers being underpaid. This was difficult for me to understand, especially for a beginning teacher. While in college as an engineering student I had to work hard for my degree, as do most majors. However,on my way to night labs or to the library to study, the education majors were partying at the student union—the same bunch as I went back to the dorm later in the evening, seemingly every evening. What I am saying tis that it appeared that education majors put forth so little effort to get their dregree, and yet expected salaries as good or better than those who had to really work. They should not expect basket weaving to pay as well as education either.

Then in considering all the perks teachers get during the year in actual time in the class room including pay for time not worked, maybe they are being paid certainly enough. If teachers are professionals why do they hide behind unions? Why not let their skills be proven individually as other true professionals, lawyers, doctors, engineers etc. I believe teachers have chosen to labor for unionism instead of classroom excellence.

Suzie - November 1, 2011

Finally this forbidden topic is being discussed! Most professionals I know outside of the teaching profession work at least 50 hours a week 50 weeks a year. Teaching may be stressful, but so are most professional jobs. I know that the teachers in my district are only required to be at school 186 days a year, and many of those are not full days. The children are there much less than that.

C Bartlett - November 1, 2011

I am not a professional educator, but I am both the daughter and the mother of one. I think the first step is to abolish the federal Dept of Education – they are wasting our money. The feds set up a system that forced states to hire way too many administrators and teachers are lost in the maze. I agree with most aspects of the voucher system – turn education into a more capitalistic venture where success is rewarded and failure is punished. I agree with rewarding successful teachers but the evaluation of “success” is very tricky. If you evaluate based completely on student performance, the good teachers will completely run away from kids who come from difficult and unsupportive homes, are troubled, physically or mentally impaired, etc. – simply because they fear losing their jobs and/or being punished salary-wise. Some of our best teachers are really good at dealing with those kinds of kids and we would be “de-incentivising” them to do so. Teacher evaluation will have to come from some kind of subjective evaluations too? Not an easy issue to fix.

J L Taylor - November 1, 2011

I have 3 1/2 yrs post grad work + served on school bd. Money is third essential. When student enters school, every parent should be shown the most successful pupil has support at home; expectations, responsibility ! Next, the curriculum must be relevant, appear or explained for its value. The work ethic stressed & its reward potential. Our American heritage & value of freedom instilled. The teacher is competing with the I-pad, I-pod, twitter, texting, culure and entertainment. Funding for this to be accomplished follows. Charter schools are doing miraculous things with kids with less money & no unions.

Elise Richardson - November 1, 2011

Funding and control should be returned the local communities. It has been the usurption of this by the state and to an even greater degree by the federal government that has caused the lopsided bureacracy of the schools, including the emergence of teachers unions. Local control would result in better teachers, curriculum designed for the needs of the students in each particular community, instead of “one size fits all,” and a return to well educated students.

B. K. Brown - November 1, 2011

As a retired teacher, the main problem with public schools is not (for the most part) the teachers. The problems come from :
Parents who don’t make students understand that school is their job.
Administration members that were not a success in the classroom and moved up to admin.
Federal, State, and Local regulations for standards that do not make sense in the classroom.
The assumption that all students can and will learn at the same rate with unrealistic timelines to cover material.
Figure it out… if a teacher made baby sitting rates for each student they would make much more.
If students enter the classroom ready to learn and parents back the teacher, then with realistic expectations, students will succeed.

Morris Huskinson - November 1, 2011

I’m an accountant for Placer County Office of Education. My primary duty is to pay the bill for the office of Education. I see thousands of dollars going out each week to send administrators and teachers all over the United State for various reasons to education themselves. Administrators are more worried about how educated the teacher are than how well they teach.

In college the best accounting teacher was let go because he didn’t want to get a doctorate degree. Far too much attention is paid to what the teacher knows than to how well the teachers teaches.

Denis - November 1, 2011

first,,, education should be about learning truth,,,
and second this can be controlled by those attending and there parents,,, a voucher paid to any education source to the educator,,, by the government the same amount per student,,, and let parents decide where to send there students,,, the good schools will attract better students and more students,,, the bad ones will fail, but most important have the local people decide on the curricula not some Washington now it all,,
When I was in school they taught the curve of the wing causes lift ,, electricity travels the speed of light,, heat is a excited molecule,, the atom was made of 3 parts and was the smallest any thing could be divided to, and many more myths,,, and if you read a text book on how to build a electric motor,,, the one we have working will have no electromotive force ,,, but facts are easy to prove and all those teachings are false,,, some proven by Einstein others by Lockheed , and NASA engineers,,, and some here in our company but the lies are still in the text books,,,books that cost a fortune and are worthless in 1 or 2 years,,, a education Database,,, that has correct information that can be challenged,,, should be maintained at every school,,, and this growing data should be what students are taught from,,, no more theories just facts,,, proved only by evidence that is observable,,,and is not to be taught as fact unless there is no contrary evidence.

JJ Perdue - November 1, 2011

My mother was a teacher, my wife is a teacher, my daughter and daugther-in-law are teachers. They work untold hours, including the summer. Our public school system is now “mainstreaming” special needs and education students. Now, she must also deal with disruptive and ill children in her class room. She has been back in school for 9 weeks now and has not failed to work Saturday and Sunday for 4-6 hours grading papers, to meet school data requirements.
I make more than my wife and would not trade places with her for any amount of money. It’s the system, not the teachers.

Don W Kincai - November 1, 2011

WE might consider this approch to teac her compesation, when operating in a union enviromeent. That is by using an above average teacher grading score for the standard of retention. This is easier to administrate than the merit plan , which usually creates a political problem.

Jean Witte - November 1, 2011

Taking the federal government out of the education system would be a great step in the right direction to fix the problems in our public schools. Tenure is another thing thatmust go!! I personally know teachers who put on their best ‘fronts’ until they secure tenure, then they become sloven and unprofessional in the class room. Merit hiring and merit pay would help, but at the same time, we have to be sure we have quality administrators and school boards. Schools must go back to the states!!!
As far as teacher pay is concerned, they make great salaries. I remember when they were paid their full salary in the nine months of school, but then they could not manage their money to allow for the summer vacation and asked to spread the pay over the year. This is not really a big bad problem, but there are so many things in the teacher contracts that need to be weded out. Again, I know personally how the allotted time for ‘sick leave’ is abused. I do not feel that teachers should get paid for ‘sick leave’ when they quit teaching and have not used their sick days. They should be thankful they did ot have to use them. My page would be too lengthy to vent all my frustrations, but suffice it to say…Get Rid Of The Dept. of Education!!!

Fred - November 1, 2011

Why did public education provide satisfactory education for almost two centuries before declining? Parental involvement. Parents must collaborate with teachers to foster the best possible educational opportunity. Parents must force the time into their day to have timely face-to-face discussions with teachers to thoroughly understand the needs/opportunities of their child. They should make a point of meeting the principal. If a parent feels a teacher is not competent they must promptly escalate the issue. Parents should know who is on the Board of Education and hold them accountable. What percentage of registered voters vote in Bd of Ed elections: 15%, 20%, best case 30%? When it comes to parents voting in Bd of Ed elections there should be 100% participation. Can’t make the time? What’s more important? No matter how busy parents are they must push or pull the education wagon, they just can’t sit in it and complain the wheels are falling off.

Charlie Norton - November 1, 2011

First step our new President should is to close down the U.S. Dept. of Education!

Sharon - November 1, 2011

I am a retired middle school teacher who was only paid for the nine months I worked, in Ohio, 180 days required by law. It was possible to take the 12 month pay option, but it was still the nine month pay…duh!
We were required to pay into the union, closed shop. Union dues have increased at the local, state, national level for the Democatic party. Union thugs is correct.
We were required to pay a % into our retirement, at 30 years,
Everyone is missing the point, can the “best teacher” take a child, with an ACT score of 15 and raise that score to 25, without affirmative action points added? Can a “best teacher” raise an 85 I.Q. score each time the child is tested, increasing that I.Q ?
Children are not widgets. Teachers are asked to perform miracles, local administrators are not qualified to judge on limited observations. Only experienced, qualified educators can evaluate each other with open minds. Children are our future and as of this writing the entire future looks bleak. The Heritage Foundation has seriously missed the mark. Are they getting their information from the current Socialist Party or Wikipedia?

John Cassis - November 1, 2011

Just as everyone says here, First and foremost, get the Federal Govt. out of education period . Independent School systems have been successful until the Gov. got involved , the Fed. has basically ruined the system in every State , at the taxpayers expense they dramatically ran up the cost and ran down scholastic achievement to a to an unacceptable level . Children can’t learn without discipline , the Govt. removed any form of common sense behavior control . None of this will help, unless Unions are removed from the mix . As everyone now knows ,unions are the Govts. partner in the destruction of Public Education, Just another illegitimate expense added to the already overpriced & ineffective system, Unions have done nothing but get free money and complicate matters.

L. W. Roller - November 1, 2011

I don’t know where they did their research. When I was a Division Superintendent of Schools in Virginia, I lost good math teachers because they could get double what they were making in the public sector. They wanted to teach but could not afford it. My son started working after college at a job that paid twice what he could have gotten teaching. Starting teachers’ salaries for teachers are so low that they are eligible for free lunches for their children in school for a family of four. Don’t try to tell me they are over paid.
Larry-November 1, 2011

Mitch Gentry - November 1, 2011

The following is written by a retired college professor, after teaching one semester in a public high school in NC. Are you ready for the plain unvarnished truth? Here it is briefly.. The system in place in some counties in NC is tightly controlled by principals who are educationists, not educators. They use the pacing guide in a subject as a club for whipping “disobedient” teachers. As long as teachers award decent grades and always show deference to the principal, all is well, since an educationist is really a politician who is trying to satisfy parents, and unfortunately many parents care about grades, not necessarily about hard work, sacrifice, learning and character. “Don’t rock the boat” by giving anyone a low grade. A teacher who refuses to cave in to this kind of pressure will not last long, The real problem is at the administrative level, i.e., principals who care precious little about genuine learning, and more about personal power and getting Susie into college with the “right” grades. The way to do this, of course, is to make sure Susie’s high school transcript consists of all As and Bs, and maybe a C or two. Students have caught on and play the game; they know they don’t really have to learn the material since Mom or Dad will talk to the principal if there is a problem. Have you ever wondered why there are no teacher recommendations or letters of support in a student’s file when he or she graduates from some public high schools in NC? The principal doesn’t want the wider community to know the truth about Susie, and what kind of student she actually is, and shamefully, how very little she actually knows about math, or any discipline that requires right answers.
I challenge you at Heritage to do your homework, e.g., some investigative journalism. Send in an ace reporter incognito to teach. You’ll find where the real problem lies. The truth is that public school teachers across this nation are barely surviving from week to week. Check out some of the working conditions; e.g., actually go into the schools and use the faculty bathroom. Ask why some students don’t have a book, or why students are not permitted to take textbooks home with them at night? Or ask why the school is “closed” to the public. Wasn’t it
Alexandre Soltzinitsin who said, “One word of truth outweighs the whole world.” ?

Laura - November 1, 2011

There is far too little control by local communities and far too excessive the heavy hand of the Federal Government. Parents are taking their children OUT of public schools because they have little ability to influence the content of the curriculum AND there is far too little discipline that can be used to maintain a level of calm that lends itself to teach effectively, especially in secondary schools.

J. Michael Moses - November 1, 2011

Union mentality has eroded the basic foundation of education principles. Teachers, as every other professional occupation, should be rewarded on merit and production in the classroom, and administrative personnel must be actively involved in establishing standards and evaluation methodology for their teachers. Dress codes and consistent discipline should be reinstituted. Teacher and school administrative benefit packages must be brought to “real life” levels, especially health care and retirement packages.

Dennis Sidwell - November 1, 2011

How does one judge a teacher’s competence and how is the passing score determined?

In a private school, the school survives if parents choose to send their children to that school for ???? reason.

The invisible hand rules in my opinion. Only competition can or should used to determine what teachers and schools will do the best job in educating our children.

It is called vouchers. No unions, no federal department of education, just let each state run their education and oh by the way, each county and each district. Stop “ruling” from Washington DC to all 300,020,000 citizens of America. Thank you.

Paul D’Andrea - November 1, 2011

Return control of education to the local community and the states. Get the Feds out of the education business!
Parents should have a major influence on what is taught in the schools their tax dollars support, and on teacher salaries and performance.
Taking money from the Fed Govt is like taking money from the MOB! They own you!

Amos Wright - November 1, 2011

If all schools were private, not run by the government, we would have better educated people whose thinking is not tainted by government mandated books and curricula. Also not top heavy with administrators. Those not suited for higher education would go where they can better provide for themselves, i.e., trade schools, technical schools etc. Then we would not have tax supported schools. Competition would result in better education and higher standards.

Joe - November 1, 2011

I am a teacher. Merit pay sounds good to many who do not teach. There are many aspects of student learning of which I have no control. Many parents do not stress the importance of education. I have students of varied academic readiness and abilities in my classes. Many students do not care. That some of my students do not demonstrate understanding on a state test is not a reflection of my ability to teach. When we talk about compensation, I do not pay into Social Security and will not receive Social Security payments based on my teaching compensation. However, I do invest 10% of my pay into my retirement account. The school district does the same. It is no different to paying into Social Security and a company also contributing. I contribute to my medical and dental insurance. My opinion is many who target teachers as over paid and over compensated are repeating what they hear without really understanding the reality of what I do.

Rita - November 1, 2011

Abolish unions for teachers and all public servants. They are here to serve citizens NOT unions. Private sector employees do not have the enormous benefits and salaries and there’s great difficulty in firing poor, bad-producers beacause of unions. Paying union dues is a travesty-the biggest waste of one’s personal money-as union use those $$$$ for political reasons as well as personal uses. Let citizens decide with each School Board which teachers deserve more and which should be shown the door.

Ed Burllon - November 1, 2011

The Local school system I am familure with is broken and seems to be the case everywhere. How did it get broken? Good question and when did it start? When I went to school we never had any money for new books. Now the schools have so much money for new programs and books that they spend 100s of thousands of dollars about every three years to totally change what and how they teach. Selling books to the school system is big business and how much influence do these companies have on state boards of education and federal. It seems the more money that is given to the public school system the worse it has gotten. It seems if a teacher can’t teach and has a lot of parent complaints they are promoted to the board and put in charge of other teachers. We have Superintendents making 150 thousand dollars annually that have no business or personnel experience what so ever. We have principals that have little to no class room experience and no business or personnel experience. Teachers are frustrated because management has no idea how to run a school system. From what I gather this is everywhere. Any time you mix money and politics you will get cronyism, and corruption. The Federal and State boards of education is just a huge money grabbing machine. They think their main purpose is to justify their own existence. Getting the money out of the hands of these people and giving it to the parents is the only thing that will cure the system. Then school systems will have to compete for the dollars and run it like a business. You know what will happen to a business if they are making a product or service no one wants, they dry up a disappear.
I heard a wise man say once,” that there is nothing wrong with the school system that the parents can’t cure.” Parents are not involved enough to know what is going on. The only time a parent will come to school now is to curse at the teacher. Parents also expect the school to raise their child with one exception, they don’t want to hear their child has a behavior problem.
I also have a suggestion for teachers that complain about the pay and no way to move up even with several degrees. You had to know this going in. If you didn’t then you had to find out shortly after your first paycheck. Suggestion one: don’t over educate yourself when there is no where to go. Suggestion two: If you don’t have a passion for teaching no matter what the pay, find some other career.

Betsy Phillips - November 1, 2011

The public schools have been in trouble for a long, long time. And while they need money, everybody does, throwing money at the situation is NOT the answer. The whole system is wrong and based on wrong premises of education. If you want to read a good book about the situation, read John Gatto’s book, The Underground History of American Education.” online: http://www.johntaylorgatto.com/chapters/index.htm

Public library, too. Big mess starting even in the 1800′s, but culminating in education philosophy, “Parents are not capable of raising their children, the state is, teach children to socialize, nothing else.” It’s not just the unions, etc., the whole philosophy is WRONG.

Betsy Phillips - November 1, 2011

It’s not just the teachers and the unions, etc., it’s the whole system and philosophy of education. Long story. Read John Gatto’s, “The Underground History of American Education” online or in your public library.
http://www.johntaylorgatto.com/chapters/index.htm

Things changed in 1800′s when movers and shakers admired Germany and wanted a population that would be content with industrial jobs and military. Through lots of money and grants and educational institutions, they brought this whole mess of “parents are not capable, the school and government must teach the children, re indoctrinate that” and so forth. Gatto was a NYC school teacher, won many awards, fought the system and finally got out and wrote the book. If the basic philosophy is wrong, and it is, no manner of money, competition and so forth will bring answers we want. Excellence in what? What they teach now? Teaching children how to socialize and be politically correct? Come on.

Geoffrey - November 1, 2011

I found out this weekend that my six-year-old son’s teacher makes well over $90,000/9mo. That’s great that she can enjoy such benefits for teaching the highly challenging first-grade curriculum, but to top it off local school board members are quoted as saying that the residents are undertaxed. And they try to make the argument that w/o the competitive pay they couldn’t attract teachers. In 2009 there were more than three thousand applicants for a few hundred positions. I’d say the district is quite competitive in their pay, and quite out of touch in terms of their ideology.

Lou Winans - November 1, 2011

We can’t just cut people’s salaries, because they’ve become dependent on them. But we can freeze their salaries until the private sector catches up, and we can immediately change their medical and pension plans to bring them into line with current private sector plans, because these are things teachers can plan ahead on, like everyone else, and do not need to meet their current living expenses.

Chris - November 1, 2011

The following comments are so overgeneralized as to refute the entire argument presented.
1. “The field of education is less challenging than other academic concentrations,” As compared to what field?Most high school sceince and math teachers I know have physics, biology, chemistry, or engineering degrees. The education curriculum is in addition to their major. Many have Masters Degrees in their respective field, and I’m not talking a Masters in Education. These are all much more rigorous than your typical Political Science, or Business degree. You have to compare apples to apples. A physics or math teacher is underpaid compared to their non-teaching counterparts, and it’s hard to compare history teachers, PE teachers/ coaches to their non-teaching counterparts, they don’t really exist.

2. “and teacher education has little measurable effect on classroom performance.” Really! Try public speaking or in this case engagement in a subject you are not well versed in, result failure, nobody likes to fail.

3. “Furthermore, teachers have significantly lower cognitive ability, on average, than non-teachers with the same level of education.” This is just generalized hogwash. If anything it is a testament to the teachers are underpaid argument. While I do believe education is a default major of second choice for many, it might not be if it wasn’t for the pay disparity. A passionate fine arts education major may have more cognitive ability than many CEO’s, you just can’t generalize your argument in this manner.

I am in favor of eliminating the Dept of Education and returning those funds to the state.

Teacher and Administrator competancy is a state and specifically local issue. If parents and community are involved you get results. Underperforming teachers and administrators should be fired by the local school board.

In my state teacher unions exist but have few members
and those are typically in it for the legal support against parent lawsuits. Tort reform could end the unions entirely.

Teaching only 9 months is a myth. Extracuricular activities and professional development eat up another 4 to 6 weeks, easy.

Teacher Job security is usually a function of a large requirement and a lack of qualified or willing applicants. Ask yourself if you would like to motivate 150 teenagers 8 hours a day for 9 months to learn algebra. Not many will jump on that opportunity.

In my state teachers pay into their own retirement system instead of social security, the system is solvent.

Health Insurance costs are the same as their non-teaching counterparts, too high.

Attacking the the largest workforce in the nation is a bad idea for the conservative movement. Defeat liberal education bureaucracy and policy at the national level and you will gain their support for life.

Marge Kellner - November 1, 2011

Give the schools back to our local communities. Eliminate the DOE. Again, we have been ” Bamboozeled” by government practioners that want control of our minds and our human spirits. Enslaved in ignorance, others will control our resources and wealth. Our public school system was established by our founders to assure that our citizens could read and write, understand world history, vote intelligently, preserve freedom. There are many dedicated teachers and alot of teachers in the school systems are there because they woiuld NEVER survive in the real reality of work world. I could write a short story about some of the dysfunctional, sick personalities I have encountered in the public school system. All of these teachers are protected by the Teachers Union that intimidates school boards with law suits to retain the dysfunctionals. These dysfunctionals (far too many) are given our childrens young minds to corrupt with their immoral, unethical, anti American teachings. Regarding the 9 month pay. My husband wanted to teach. We were young, he was paid 1 penny per hour with class room time, lesson prep time, papers graded at night, coaching football,attending university two nights a week working toward his Masters degree and we prayed for any kind of summer job so we could survive. We wanted so much to build a better community and we loved the “kids” in our small town. That was a long time ago and even then teachers union protectected incompetents. Teachers were terribly underpaid then. Today compensation is more in line with industry and service salaries. Teachers should be held to a higher standard of profeciency and personal integrity. Teachers mold the hearts and minds of our USA tomorrow. The Feds and teachers union dictates what will and will not be taught in classrooms. Their interests are in dumbing up our citizens.

Alex Tessmann - November 1, 2011

I am appalled at the low standards and expectation levels in the public school system. Parents soon get to learn from their children and other parents who the good, mediocre, and bad teachers are. Unfortunately, complaining to the principal is a waste of time, because it appears that there is nothing that can be done. Good teachers give up their profession and move on because it appears that their efforts go unappreciated and unrewarded.

I think it an unfair generalization the “teachers are overpaid”. I’d rather pay the good ones even more if we could eliminate the ineffective ones!

A paradigm shift towards an environment where teachers are retained, dismissed, and rewarded based on outcomes is the only way that our children will start to climb out of the “dumbing down” spiral that they are on. But, of course, the unions would never go along with a meritocracy as it would eliminate their power.

With that said, a more realistic approach to the classroom mix is also required. Teachers cannot be held accountable for outcomes in a system that mixes children inappropriately, and where the teacher must, in effect, teach to the lowest common denominator. While it may be politically correct to have children with significant “special needs”, mental health, and behavioral problems, and language issues in the “mainstream” class, this is not only unfair to the teacher, but an infringement on the rights of the children who would, but for the distractions caused, be able to learn. It is necessary to provide for the “special needs” children, but it should not be done at the expense of the right of the other children to learn.

Although we have no affiliation, our daughter attends a private (Christian) elementary school. Within two weeks of her starting there we started to see dramatic evidence of a higher standard of education. Interestingly, with a very low budget, the school pays their teachers significantly less than the compensation that they would receive in the public school system, which is pretty clear anecdotal proof that throwing more money at teacher salaries does not necessarily provide better outcomes.

Competition is the ONLY solution. We should have a choice as to where we send our children to school and should be able to vote for the quality of our children’s education by being able to direct our education tax dollars, through a voucher system, towards the schools that produce the best outcomes. That would soon separate the wheat from the chaff.

Karen Irwin - November 1, 2011

Until we can eliminate tenure, public school education will remain mediocre. A surplus of teachers have no incentive to be the best. Why would they if they know there is no real accountability? Yes, the Government, and NEA, and unions should stay out of the education business, period. Is it any wonder that the home school concept is on the rise?

Tom - November 1, 2011

Great comments, but I believe we have already reformed our education. Towards social ills and not career and life ills.
Our schools are teaching way more “socially feel good” programs rather than “how do I prepare for a career and life the best way”. We need to turn secondary education on its head. We also need to destroy the “waste of a time” college degree’s that get you nowhere in life. Our world has changed, but our college offerings have not.

Steve - November 1, 2011

I am a teacher, too, of 21+ years in 4 states, urban, rural, suburban, military.

The surest way to destroy my intrinsic motivation to do my best is to reward me based on criteria over which I have no control. I do not have control over the success of my students. For the last 2 years, my AP students have performed extremely well. The lowest scored 3/5 and far more scored 4 or 5. I’m not bragging – it’s their own doing thanks to their diligence and aptitude. When others of my students fail this is also not my doing.

If you measure my success by criteria I can’t control I will become incredibly frustrated. I’m not producing a product or working in sales where my success can be measured.

How do you measure good teaching? I have yet to get a satisfactory answer. Thus, I am against merit pay.

I am generally for vouchers but I heard today that PA is passing a law that will allow poor students from poor-performing districts to take their money with them to a neighboring school. This is a big concern. All students do not cost the same to educate. Our superintendent has been telling us that an individual student can cost $300,000 (average is about $10,000). If a comparable student is sent from a neighboring district we would see a $290,000 shortfall for ONE student. Does that sound like real money to anyone? Even against my *lavish* salary that sounds like money.

No, by the way, I don’t work 9 months (that would be the students who are in school 9 months, not the teachers), and yes, I get paid a lot more than I do then when I was in TX (I don’t know how I could have supported a family on that salary) but it costs a lot more to live here, too.

The right question is how the system can encourage those teachers who have the hardest jobs, ie, the new teachers with at risk, low-performing students, huge college debts and low salaries. The ones who get cursed, spat on, or physically or emotionally battered daily and have their hopes of making a difference dashed. No one even asks it let alone tries to answer it so they leave the profession. What a waste.

Why do conservative news sources regularly write articles about public schools that never ring true to me? Why are you too arrogant to actually talk to any one of the commenters who have a connection to public education first? Do you see why I don’t want you measuring my success? I’ll keep my tenure and union-determined pay scale until you can come up with an alternative, thanks.

Herrmann Glockler - November 1, 2011

We need to educate the public that not only are teachers vastly overpaid, but that they are also miserably failing the kids they are supposed to educate.

During the Wisconsin riots, the fed education department released a study that only 1/3rd of Wisconsin’s K-12 pupils achieved proficient in reading, only 10% read at the highest level. And those teachers were paid at the highest level for the mid western region.
These teachers passed out of school essentially functionally illiterates, while taking them down to the Capitol to help them protest.

This is criminal, the=y need to be prosecuted

Janice Brown - November 1, 2011

I have known for years that the public school teachers were paid more. Our local newspaper did a comparison between public and private/parochiol schools, and it didn’t include benefits. This was just salary. Public school teachers (more than 20 years ago) were complaining that they weren’t paid enough when they were getting paid more.

John Schuh - November 1, 2011

The reality of the matter is that teachers are like civil servants and are paid accordingly. And so are their superiors, who are grossly overpaid by comparison with civil servants with comparable responsibilities. The average school superintendent in Texas is paid far more than the heads of state agencies. The heads of the large urban districts are paid three or four hundred thousand dollars plus benefits proportional to those of other educators. Yet no one questions these salaries, which is mystifying. Furthermore, few question the multiplication of offices, each very well paid. In the Houston ISD, about five hundred employees get more than $100,000 a year. Few of these people could get jobs in the private sector that would pay as much.

Richard s Griffith - November 1, 2011

The late Rosenthiel or whomever from Indiana has it most right.

CHARLES S UNIETIS - November 1, 2011

Abolish the Dept of Education. It is an expensive and useless bureauracracy. Our educational level has steadily deteriorated ever since this monstrosity was created. Do away with labor unions and affitmative action in hiring the best qualified teachers. Also resort more to utilizing more private sources for education of our children.

J Johansen - November 1, 2011

Be a choir teacher in a school with NO free or reduced price meals or a calculus teacher in a very affluent school district, but NEVER, NEVER, NEVER be a teacher of low ability students in a high poverty school district!

Ray D Taylor - November 2, 2011

As one who retired from a public school teaching career of 35 years, I really believe more strongly than ever that control of teaching and learning should rest primarily with the child, the child’s parents, and the child’s teacher, probably through a tax-supported voucher system. And the child’s enrollment with an individual teacher should be the wholly voluntary act of the child, the parents, and the teacher, so that a teacher’s tenure is determined solely by the decision of the child and the parents to continue the child’s enrollment. Conversely, the teacher should also have the right to end the relationship with the child in order to prevent the child or parents from abusing the teaching-learning relationship, and especially the right of a child’s classmates to be free of unwarranted disruption of their learning opportunities. After all, those individuals who most affect teaching and learning should control the actions which determine their results. With valid standardized testing at the beginning, middle, and end of the school term, each child’s learning needs can be ascertained and appropriately addressed.

DENNIS - November 2, 2011

We definitely need to get rid of the Dept of Education, and allow state and local communities hire and fire teachers. Unions should be kept inside states for the teachers that work in that state. The emphasis in the class rooms needs to be on reading, writing, and arithmetic. No student should be sent to the next grade unless the master the standards for that class.

THOMAS - November 2, 2011

I agree with Ellen 100% (Ellen – November 1, 2011). Furthermore, a lot of people are not aware of the “after hours” time that really dedicated teachers put in on a regular basis either at school or at home grading papers and preparing lessons and extra activities to try to keep the children motivated. If all of these hours were concidered, their actual hourly rate would not be so appealing.

Many teachers receive very little support or cooperation from parents in working with difficult children. Many expect teachers to completely take on the responsiblility of “parenting” the children. What about private schools? Most private schools don’t have to deal with all of the problems that the students in public schools present. If they were forced to take on the “problem children” as well and deal with them, I wonder how their quality would compare with the public schools. Also, with the voucher system, how many private schools are willing or able to take on all of the additional students? And where would they get the additional teachers needed? Wouldn’t these be the same public school teachers only at less pay? Sounds like a good motivator for these teachers. Good luck with that.

Pamela S Lee - November 2, 2011

Everyone is diferent, so every situation is different. No two children are going to learn the same way; no two teachers will teach the same a]way – even two years in a row.
teachers are taught and then tested; do the children get tested before they too are taught? some may have already learned their colors, while others can do numbers, and others still have begunto read. Keeping everybody happy and striving for their best. kWe need to use whyat works best, not what has been used before.

Terri - November 2, 2011

I cringe every time I hear in the news that the teachers union is picketing because of unfair wages or they have to contribute to their medical. I don’t know one person who wishes they didn’t make more. I don’t think I’ll get anyone offering to pay my monthly $250.00 medical premium either. I will not get a retirement package. I was a secretary for 15 years and there was no package (but I was okay with that, I had a job) The teachers wish they had better wages, I wish I didn’t have pay to send a granddaughter to an added learning center, at my expense mind you (no, the government doesn’t pay for everyone, trust me). Teachers gripe today, ‘Thirty students per classroom’, my class pictures in the ’70′s are 32, 34, 31, and so forth. There are more Teacher meetings during a school year than I can shake a stick at. I come from a family of teacher, principles and advocate at the state capitol, I’m think activists are just wanting to keep a hot subject going so the unions rile the teachers who in turn rile the parents. Good luck, this issue will never end.

Nancy - November 2, 2011

While there are many excellent teachers in our school systems, they do not control how they teach in the classroom:The government does. Some are entitled, and feel that they are in great need, salary wise. In a letter to the newspaper, a teacher from our school district was incensed that she was going to retire with only 45,000 dollars a year, instead of the 65,000 a year that she’d expected. She was fifty five, and she wasn’t budging an entitled inch. Makes one wonder, doesn’t it?

Jim Foster - November 2, 2011

AS A 12 YEAR USAF VET AND RETIRED MATH TEACHER OF 28 YEARS I NEED TO PUT ON A SEMINAR FOR YOU TO EXPLAIN IN A LOGICAL WAY HOW TO REFORM THE SYSTEM SO NOT ENOUGH SPACE HERE TO RE-WRITE THE BOOK. SOCIETAL INPUT AND PHILOSOPHY OF EDUCATION WOULD BE STEP 1. JIM FOSTER 509 783 2855 KENNEWICK, WA. THERE ARE MANY FALLACIES IN THESE COMMENTS AND FOLKS DON’T KNOW WHAT THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT.

Geoge - November 2, 2011

Most teachers in California work a seven-hour day, ten months each year, unless they sign up for a year-round school or teach summer school for which they receive additional pay at the ten-month rate. The reported teachers’ salary is for the ten-month period. In addition to working only ten months for the reported salary, teachers have ten days full pay sick leave and 14 days of holidays. Further, they have a first-class medical, dental, and eye care, reduced rate life insurance, and a magnificent retirement salary after age 62 and 20 years service. Also, every year they receive an automatic 2% salary increase plus any increase granted by the governing board. The major problem with the teaching profession is the union – the California Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO. This union elects the governing board members and sets work rules that make it impossible for school principles to direct the local school’s educational program. Jerry Brown introduced industrial-type unions to California the last time that he was Governor, and we have all suffered from it.

Eric Anderson - November 2, 2011

I do not think that it is a relevant argument to compare salaries based on “comaratively skilled workers” in this case. Teachers are not your normal run of the mill people- these people deal with our children on a daily basis. Yes, lets pay them like we pay office workers or the like, right? What they do isn’t important or anything. Didn’t someone some time say that children are our future? If that is the case, don’t we want well paid professionals training that future? Yes education costs are too high, but that is not the fault of teachers! Please look into true high education costs and you will not find teacher benefits at the root of this but rather ludicrous governmental practices and poor management at the top! Any way, just a few thoughts; please think about the whole issue before making snap descisions about education issues! Thanks!

Gregory F. Farnsworth - November 2, 2011

The pension system for all public employee union members is unrealistic, and gives far higher benefits than any in private industry. For instance, the cost of living adjustments, the percent of pay as well as the medical benefits are far more liberal than most in private industry. The most aggregious is the cost of living adjustment that no company in the private sector gives. The COLA makes budgeting difficult and should be repealed in all cases. These are just a few examples of the monopoly power that public employee unions have acquired over the years. Please read what FDR and Winston Churchill said about public empl. unions. It will open your eyes!

Dave - November 2, 2011

My wife is a retired teacher with 34 years of service, 24 in public schools. Knowing what other people make and can in the public sector I don’t agree with your findings. My wife and I are very conservative, but to focus on salary and benefits and then say this is the reason for the public school failure is a joke. The unions need to change so bad teachers can be removed, but don’t tell me their salaries are to high. I work for a major I/T company who fired our 2nd CEO in 3 years, he drove the stock price down 47%, and got $13M to leave. Why isn’t that an issue and in the news.

Antonio J. Barlaam - November 2, 2011

The first thing that should happen is to call it a free ducation. Then we need to get the state bureaucricy out of the school system and truly have comprehensive education. Third is to remove all these itermural and intramural activities that have nothing to do with education and most importantly get rid of the unions who really run the school systems. This is a monopoly that we as taxpayers have no direct input and is is a crime.

shel burrrtner - November 2, 2011

Get the Federal Govenment out of Education
Get Unions out of schools.
Let locals run their own schools.

Chris - November 2, 2011

Attacking the largest educated workforce in America is counterproductive for the conservative movement. Eliminate the bureaucracy and liberal policies at the national level.

susan - November 2, 2011

first of all i think that the school year should be changed back to the way it was with an added hour a da and less days a year than it is now. i also believe that we need to teach children to think again, not just to take tests.

Faith Morphis - November 2, 2011

First and foremost, bring the schools back to the communities…dissolve the National Education Administration. This will lower costs as it will get rid of the top-heavy, overpaid people who are incorporating more “social engineering” than teaching requirements.

Once that is done, if people choose to educate their children at home, Montessori, religious schools it is their right. These children are NOT the states’ to manipulate in the unabashed fashion they do. Bring back the sanity of apprentices for careers and stop insisting that everyone should go broke or into debt to get a college education. Many of the degreed careers that are demanding college we learned on the job following high school or indeed, while in high school.

Since I am old enough to know firsthand some history of why young people are unmotivated and in many cases, have little or no work ethic, I’d like to share my thoughts.

When my generation were teenagers we worked at picking beans, tobacco, cotton, whatever in order to make money; mostly in the summer months. Guess what entity denied that right to more recent generations? Yep! our government under the guise of protecting our children…they are always using this guise and sadly, many people believe it! Truly, they need to study history and human nature. This practice is what began, hugely, the importation of foreigners to do work that “Americans would not do”. Just be very aware that there are multipile threads to this movement and it has been coming on for many decades.

Oh! teachers? They should not be unionized…nothing, no one in public sector should be unionized. Why should anyone but those paying for services be involved with salaries, benefits? It makes no sense whatsoever.

While we are at it, Congress should be doing its’ job…no way should “money laundering” be legal. The money is taken from union members and given to the Democratic party to keep the unions viable thus working against those responsible for paying the bills. I mean, really, am I missing something here? This is highly illegal no matter how one tries to explain it.

Lynwood Dunn - November 2, 2011

That statement is not totally correct. North Carolina has the lowest paid teachers in the nation, and I know for a fact they don’t reach anywhere near the private sector for same education. My daughter is one of them, with a masters and can’t break 40m.

Jane - November 2, 2011

I would like to work 180 days a year, get every holiday, spring break, Christmas break, not have to go to work when it is bad out and receive their compensation. Further, they have the best retirement, tenured, secure position compared to many, many people. I grow weary of hearing them complain about how little their are paid and how much they have to do. I would like for them to walk a day in my shoes.

Michael Layton - November 2, 2011

Eliminate the US Dept. of Education. the US has been dumed down since Pres Carter had the department established. Get the federal government out of education and maybee th US can re-establish itself as number one in the world instead of number seven.

Nelson Whipple - November 2, 2011

1. If you make a clear distinction between teachers and administrators in your study, you fail to make it clear in the report. I think you should.
2. I think you should also have a study to look at the growth in teacher numbers and pay, administrator numbers and pay and student numbers.
3. Then you can look at how much control the teachers and unions exercise over Board of Education choices and the infulence of the unions and teacher organizations have in the management of the schools.
4. Thank you

Joanne - November 2, 2011

While I agree the education system needs an overhaul, lets look at one of the primary issues that no one seems to want to address. The mainstreaming of children with learning disabilities. Remove these students from the “normal” classrooms and you’ll see teachers return to the levels of teaching we, as parents, expect. Before all you mainstreaming parents get up in arms, let me ask you…”Are your children really learning at their level?” I would like to see these “mainstreamed student’s” placed in classrooms with teachers who will teach them at their learning level and then the “normal” students will be able to learn at their level. If the current schools cannot handle these “special” students then parents should be given tax credits in order to enroll them in schools that will address their special needs. These students deserve an education at the level of their learning abilities. At the present time, these students are passed from grade to grade just to move them through the system. They are not really being educated. Our schools incorporated these students into the normal classrooms to gain federal funds and not to benefit these students! Then, once you have these teachers on a field where they can actually teach lessons, accountability will be more relevant. Vouchers and cyber schools may have a place in the education system, but let’s start with getting the current classrooms managed. There is so much more to be said, but I’m sure these comments will raise enough controversy.

Mrs Mary E. Miller - November 2, 2011

Start over with only the basic subjects. Reading, writing, Math, science, English and U.S History. Leave the social subjects to the parents, etc. We cannot continue to support the total upbringing to the taxpayers….

Shay Hosler - November 2, 2011

My father gets almost $200 every month from the state of Illinois as a pension for a job he had for 2 years over 40 years ago. While I like our family getting money- I think this is crazy. Only 2 years and he gets a pension for life.

Marie W - November 2, 2011

Dissolve the Dept of Education. Return the public school system to the state/local level.

Dave Bolhuis - November 2, 2011

Public School teachers are all judged by the performances of the inner city schools. In the Grand Rapids, Michigan area the suburban schools are performing very well whereas Grand Rapids, Detroit and other urban districts fail miserably and yet our polititians lump all districts together and pronounce failure. Re-establish local control. Get polititians from the Federal and State level to recognize where the problem really lies and get off the backs of the profession.
The idea of teachers being overpaid is absurd. They are compensated adequately considering their level of education and their responsibilities.

dennis crane - November 2, 2011

I would like to see a system where children are not advanced until they accomplish the grade. It is not easier to catch up when you have already been advanced past the material.

I also suggest that schools quit depending on homework to provide additional hours of study. Some will do homeworkl even if not assigned. Most will do non homework. The regimen should cover all needed materials in the classroom. Material should be presented in understandable form and actually studied in class with teacher or TA assistance. If the child actually studies the material and receives help when needed most children will get the grade and pass on. Those who don’t should be put through remedial phases until they do.

Expecting what you won’t get ( home study and parent help) and passing failed children, just creates a consensus on failure.

We can do better. We can achieve excellence. We should expect and demand excellence. Almost all of our children can get it if we insist they do.

Julia - November 2, 2011

I believe that teachers, for the most part, earn more and have more job security and benefits than comparable private sector workers. However, the huge increase in education costs has been spent on more and more administrators. I am totally in favor of school vouchers. My children are grown as are most of my grandchildren, but for future generations I’d love to see them have that freedom to choose. Get the Feds out of the mix and give it back to the state or local level where it belongs. Abolish the Department of Education altogether!

Pat Paul - November 2, 2011

I taught school for 38 years and never came close to the salaries that public school teachers made and are making. We need to get back to the 3Rs instead of all this “touchy, feely” nonsense that goes on in today’s classrooms. We need to teach “real” American history, true and unbiased. In math, get the multiplication tables back in vogue. Maybe it’s time to put the laptops away and make the kids use their brains. I agree with George B., get the federal government out of education and put the power back in the local neighborhoods.

jack - November 2, 2011

Here in Illinois the Government and Unions are partners in the Blackmaile and extorsion of $ “for the children”, but the system only gets worse.

Casey Carlton - November 2, 2011

How about more charter schools, and teacher pay based strictly on merit, as well?

Patricia - November 2, 2011

The teaching profession in both high schools and colleges are highly overpaid for what they teach. Many of the students who do graduate have been pushed through. Teachers should work 12 months not 9 months and be paid based on a merit system just like any other profession. Performance should be the key. If you are not performing, out you go. Also, let’s not forget that they should pay for their own benefits just like the rest of us had to while working. There are many excellent teachers who value education. However, there are too many doing too little just to get by.

J E Houser - November 2, 2011

Do I think education should be reformed? Yes! Get the federal government out of education. Return it to the states so that competition can be restored.

Frank Swain - November 2, 2011

Our educational system should be goals oriented – at all levels! When the goals are clearly defined as appropriate for the grade level, then the teaching and administrative positions that are competent to support the students, should be put in place with objectives and benchmarks toward the goals measured and awarded comensurate with achievement. Education should be treated as a business with the same basic principles used for running a successful enterprise.

Jay Watson, Italy, TX - November 2, 2011

Get the government out of the public school system

John Tabor, Jr. - November 2, 2011

Great teachers are not paid enough, average teachers are paid too much and bad teachers should not be in the teaching profession. Teachers should be paid on the quality of their performance and the results of improved student scores or understanding.

Teachers should not be in unions. The quality of their work should be their guarantee of job security and compensation. Their benefits should be paid by them at an average of private sector benefits.

There is also entirely too much politics in the school systems. Schools should be managed by Private Management even if Public School for quality results.

Madeline Parquette - November 2, 2011

Our public schools are not working. Get government out of education. We cannot teach our kids according to what the White House dictates.We need to privatize, more Charter Schools, more voucher. Immediately!

Charles T. Ackerman - November 2, 2011

I think the largest saving could be realized if the overhead in schools were reduced. They have too many functions such as curriculum development being done in every school system. They can leave things like emotional support in times of crisis to parents. I could go on and on about overhead functions that add little value to the most basic critical educational needs of the students. Good maintenance of existing schools and termination of redistricting students could reduce the cost of new school construction.

EUGENE CARROLL - November 2, 2011

do not beleive teachers pay or teachers benefits are the real issue, the NEA and DOE are the problem, they contribute nothing to education, there function is to control education and institute teaching contrary to the united states constitution and free enterprise system. public school teachers should stand or fall based on their own merits. the very best that unions can produce is mediocracy.
dis band and disinfranchise the NEA and DOE

john seurynck - November 2, 2011

I Agree! Getting past unions and entitlement mentality will be enormusly difficult however. In my area educators retire from one state, work 5 years in another state, and draw a second (apparently full) pension…even know of one individual drawing 3 state pensions! (ohio, indiana, michigan).

David Farrell - November 2, 2011

I once was in a position to sit in, as an observer, on negotiations between members of a school board and the teachers union. I watched as teachers bolstered by union supplied data, some true and some questionable, was used to bowl over clueless citizen board members. Perhaps we should look to improving the quality of the school board negotiating team as a starting point in reining in some of the excesses. The use of threats and innuendo seemed to hit home with “regular folk” members of the board. The ability to push back with an effective counter strategy could could prove to be a good and effective place to start lowering escalating costs.

Bill Broughton - November 2, 2011

Read “Educations Smoking Gun”. Reginald Dammerll. He blames teachers colleges. Distilled, it blames no body of knowledge in education. Peope have doctorates for lving in the ghetto, life experience? Too many graduate with no knowledge of spelling, math, English, on and on. You get the idea.

Robert Seklemian - November 2, 2011

After decades of throwing more and more money at our criminally underperforming (on average) public schools, its high time we tackled the real problem: mostly inferior teaching promoted by the traditional tenure system. We need a merit system for teachers and the best way to get that to happen is through voucher programs which will force the public schools to compete.

john gibas - November 2, 2011

As a former teacher, my perspective is this:
1. Teachers should be evaluated and paid on the basis of measured progress made by their students under their tutelage.
2. Measurement systems for teachers must include allowances made for the body of students they inherit. A relatively small amount of educational progress by an inner city kid may reflect a better teaching job than larger progress by motivated students with strong family support. Otherwise, all good teachers will gravitate to the most teachable student bodies.
3. Teachers must have the authority to remove those disruptive, uninterested students from their classroom who would rather not be there. Some students are there only because their parents do not want them in the house alone or loose on the streets. This “daycare” function of current public schools should be accomplished in separate organizations designed to occupy and keep safe unmotivated kids until they are ready for an educational environment.
4. Testing at each grade level should be the exclusive criterion for promotion to the next grade.
5. At the end of high school, rigorous testing should determine whether a student is awarded either 1.) a certificate of attendance, 2.) a diploma, or 3.) an honors diploma.

Sue - November 2, 2011

I believe with many here, that if we get the Federal Government out of the education business and also remove the NEA…we would go a long way to curing our education woes.
Good teachers-who love to teach, are a gift and should be treated with great respect and paid well for their contributions to our children, but those who are not good at what they do, should find work else where and not be retained just because of a powerful union!
We need to teach US History, World History (the TRUTH), Reading, Writing and Citizenship-Civics and Government classes!! Kids don’t get any of this any more-unless they go to a private school-vouchers and competition may be the key to change!

Bill - November 2, 2011

Eliminate elected school boards,they are a hindrance to effective school administration. Have the Superintendent report to the top elected offical. If the community is not satisfied with the school system vote the offical out at the next election and get new blood in the school administration. Run it like a business.At the federal level eliminate the education department and let the state and local officials respond to the community.

Barbara Anderson - November 2, 2011

I’m prejudiced. I taught elementary school for 30 years. Some years I looked like a genius. Others I looked like a sleep walker. Why? It depends on the children. They are the raw material teachers have to work with. Some children are ready to learn. Others are not. I admit there are some stupid people teaching. But they are the exception. Some parents are smarter then others, too. I had a mother complain that a woman who had been teaching our special ed children was moved into the position of seventh grade math teacher. This mother could not see how a special ed teacher could possibly teach “normal” kids. The teacher in question was the smartest person I have ever known. She was the one we all went to with the tough questions.
I also think too much stress is put on the number of degrees a teacher has earned. I learned more about teaching from some of the older women I worked with who had Normal School educations than I learned in many of the classes I took for my Masters Degree.

Rene A. Guay - November 2, 2011

Abolish teacher unions (all government unions) and let teachers and other government employees compete for jobs and security just as the private sector does.

Samuel Sanna - November 2, 2011

WE need to get Government out of education,let the States handle it !!

Paul - November 2, 2011

Teachers that enjoy what they do, will not need a union to support them, as the results will speak for themselves. Poorly behaving teachers should not get paid as well but why keep someone who obviously doesn’t want to be there except for the paycheck.

Al from Fl - November 2, 2011

All states should do away with public schools and go to a voucher system. As part of school certification they would be required to provide basic courses on citizenship and our constitutional republican form of gov’t.

Mack - November 2, 2011

Yes, most are overpaid. Typical 180 DAYS of work are allocated per calendar year (butt with weather-175 will do) & are off every fed/state holiday. To get the real mathematical results, use the actual hours teaching in a classroom (grading papers/tests/lesson plans don’t count; these “homework” needs are self-imposed in the private sector to KEEP YOUR JOB – the days aren’t ever long enough!!). Let’s get a GRANT (don’t make me go there…) to get further educated i.e. check a Masters +30 pay vs. a BA/BS degree… And retire after just 20-years – try 40 or more…
Thoughts that might be a good start:
1) No more tenure; compete to stay employed like everyone in the private sector does! (You like the Union? Okay, everyone gets paid the same – entry level salary & you get raises by measurable results (formatted and provided by private sector employers). Too many low scores? Too many drop-outs? (Not everyone can be a chief-we need warriors too i.e. welders, janitors, nursing home & home caretakers, cooks, etc.) You are not in trouble yet BUT…
Too many need remedial assistance? Oh well…
2) Everyone has the same private sector benefits – retire w/SS & Medicare (according to SS’s 35 years of pay tally average…)
3) Recruit retired private sector persons to monitor/supervise/appraise classes. (Cut the schools supervisory staff by making them go back into the classroom & re-earn their creditials. Maybe we’ll find some are poor teachers and were “promoted”…)
4) We, babyboomers, didn’t have Pre-K & K (& certainly no counselors) and we made it!! (If no one is home to feed/care for pre-K & K children, the parents will just have to pay babysitting fees!)
5) If you can’t speak English properly & professionally, the private sector will likely not place you in an employee training capacity… As a teacher, you’ll be held to at least these standards or you are on your own as well!

Scott Kimball - November 2, 2011

I agree with many of the others that the public school system needs to be competitive with the private sector. School vouchers where parents can choose the school they want to send their child to would be a good first step. The money spent on public schools is not all going to teachers however. The bloated administrative staffs and maintaining modern over built fancy school that are more like multipurpose community centers than schools are sucking much of the money away and don’t make the education any better.

Joseph McKennan - November 2, 2011

Everything that the government touches nowadays is made worse by the contact. I know people who allegedly have a high school diploma but are unable pass a certification test in their field of endeavor. Why? Because they are part of mass production high school graduates. There are the top rated schools who can demonstrate their graduates attend prestigious universities and there are the generic form who’s students can read …. If government has its way all the teachers will be paid the same? pshaw. The federal government would be unable to monitor schools on a classroom level to ensure that standards are being met. Leave to the county and city level the decisions of teacher salaries. School administrators can better ascertain acceptable salaries. Parents should have the right to educate their children however they want with no interference from bureaucracy, which is the whole point behind government run education. Bureaucracy perpetuates itself– nothing else.

Joanne - November 2, 2011

In Westerville, OH, a 1st year teacher w/bachelors degree makes $37,989. A 22 yr teacher w/masters degree and 30 credit hrs additional in service hrs makes $87,166 in 185 contract days. They get 3 weeks sick time each year, at least 80 days of which they can cash in at retirement. They get 4 personal days each year. State of Ohio mandates taxpayers pay 14% of each teacher’s retirement costs. Taxpayers pay between 80-95% of healthcare premiums. Taxpayers pay all of their dental, vision, life insurance premiums. Taxpayers even pay for the teachers to attend a union education day each year. Teachers get a 30 min. paid lunch break. Where in the private sector does anyone get these types of benefits? Then if you’re an administrator, the taxpayer pays 25% of your retirement costs. What a deal for the district. The unions won’t allow parents to substitute teach or help coach a football team, or run a club. No way. The union only wants union employees who get paid extra to do those things. Not only do the teachers get paid more than the community can afford, but the state of Ohio’s mandate that teachers MUST have a master’s degree by their 14th year is totally unnecessary and costly to taxpayers. Who needs a master’s degree to teach K-8th grade? In fact, many homeschool parents teach K-8th with only a high school education…and they do it quite well I might add. We need a conversation about the state backing off on unnecessary and costly mandates, but we also need to get the unions out of schools so that good teachers can be paid great, and bad teachers can be fired…while students can begin achieving and enjoying the learning process again.

Judy Johnson - November 2, 2011

Teachers are not underpaid but overworked. Main streamed special education is causing teachers to have to work twice as hard because they are having to address special needs interrupting the classroom. Also the regulations and teaching that must be done that has nothing to do with reading, writing, and arithmetic is ridiculous. Thirdly, discipline and decisions need to be returned to the schools and parents not some run amouk, pollitically correct system. Lastly, teachers should never be tenured. There has to be a way for bad teachers to be gotten rid of and good teachers compensated on a merit system not a system based on testing. All testing should be used as a way to produce better teaching, not tied to money, EVER!!

Nancy Carlson - November 2, 2011

This fabulous teacher I know very well personally. Please digest this rebuttal –
Ouch! “$120 billion annually in excessive labor costs.” That would be a witch hunt for sure! Older teachers would be let go – in favor of a cheaper, younger, more enthusiastic teachers, armed with the latest, ‘most effective’ strategies. When they make those price comparisons, they compare their assigned work hours to ours. No teacher only works those hours. We work 2 to 5 times what our hours show on paper. People think we get all these vacations. They have no clue to the amount of buying & prepping & required courses and workshops we have to stuff into those “vacations”. Many also take on summer school, so they won’t get foreclosed. Anyway – this is the same old rhetoric we have been given for as long as we have been disparaged; so I don’t know why I take the bait yet again.
PS I consider myself a talented, hard-working teacher. Yet – under your guidelines, I probably would have been let go thrice: once for being a whistle blower at an incredibly corrupt charter school (the parents and I prevailed, but, under the guidelines stated here, I still would have been gone); 2. once for working under a good old boy who had a double standard: one for those he golfed with (men & cute, sporty women) and the rest of us. If he could have replaced us with a herd of golfers, he would have done it in a moment; 3. lastly, I worked for a black principal that abhorred the fact that there were white teachers in the (predominantly black) inner city schools, who didn’t belong and she let us know it. I changed districts to get away from her reverse racism.
Politicians will, every once in a while, spend a day as a teacher in a class. They always leave exhausted and with a huge amount of awe and respect for all that goes on in a day. To respond to this in the suggested public forum would simply be to keep the energy and power of this discussion alive. It has been horrendously over-hashed, and people who have not spent a day in the classroom cannot possibly know whereof they speak nor will they be convinced or impressed by anything any of us (we) lazy teachers have to say.

Laurie Long - November 2, 2011

As a private school teacher I do know what being underpaid is, at least in dollars. If I don’t do my job to my school’s standards, I’m gone. I pay for most of my own benefits and have to take care of my own retirement fund. I prefer it that way. The benefits of working in a school where I don’t have to worry about all the things the progressives think a teacher should be doing besides teaching.

Carl - November 2, 2011

Good teachers are valuable. Bad teachers are stealing from the students and the system. Schools should be competition based like all other jobs and teachers should be drug tested like many other employees. The 9 month issue is not completely correct, most teachers are 10-month employees and get time and pay for vacations during the summer. Other school employees do not get as much and rarely get paid vacation.

William Gess - November 2, 2011

The only way to fix the public school system is to provide competition as in allowing parents to pick a private school with payment from something like the voucher system.

KEN MCKILLIPkgm366@outdrs.net - November 3, 2011

public schools are a monopoly. until all expense items are put out for a vote by the taxpayers,including employee expenses the vote and the school boards are worthless. vouchers and altenative schools must be in the mix, parents should have a voucher option available, otherwise the money follows the student wherever the parent, parents wish to enhance the students learning. no bias for this system, every parent has the option. thanks for my opinion,ken

Carl S. Victor - November 3, 2011

In 1953, after attending only parochial schools and leaving to go to work as there were family problems; I decided to return to school and went to a public school, a radical mistake as it was obvious that the students were in control. After a hideous three weeks, I, again, dropped out of school. I am unaware of whether that school had been unionized but the teachers failed miserably in comparison to any Catholic school that I had attended. Besides, what they were teaching, I had learned years prior to that time.
I joined the Marine Corps and after a few years was selected to teach basic electrical theory and in time was placed in the advanced classes which taught material directly from electrical engineering textbooks. The advanced classes were limited to professional senior enlisted who usually reenlisted to obtain entry to the school at the training center in Jacksonville Florida.
While teaching, it was mandatory that the instructors had to be evaluated, not only by other senior instructors but also by each class after one of the many courses had concluded and they had taken a final test on that section of the course. On many occasions, the students noted on their critique, that they wished that classes such as math or physics had been presented so clearly in high school .
It was required that we thoroughly cover the Lesson guide, which under supervision, we were allowed to modify after considerable review. Military schools were outstanding because the Instructors had total control due to the outstanding classroom discipline in which all instructors taught under the guidance of a format which had been completely tested. Instructors were unaware as to when a senior instructor would walk into the classroom for an evaluated observation.
After retiring from the Corps in 1970 and remaining in Jacksonville, I attended the local junior college in order to gain some form of degree so that my employment opportunities would be enhanced. There were no senior teaching facilities in the area and having five children and a meager retirement, I received associates in arts and science. Equipped with those I was hired by the Duval County school system to start a course in electrical theory at Paxon senior high school.
My teaching background was sufficient for me to obtain a teaching certificate in Florida and also receive a salary commensurate with teachers at the top rung of the pay scale. I was in no time at all frustrated by both management, teachers and to some small degree, the students. I immediately tested students for their capacity to handle the class and discovered that some could not even read. Confronting the principal was futile and after realizing that the school was nothing more than an educational abattoir, I informed the principal that I would leave at the end of the year.
Our standings in the international tests in math and science gives credence to the fact that there is a serious problem with the educational system; my experience with teachers made me realize that many of them consider themselves some form of Einsteinium intellect. It is easy to formulate a misconception when there is no accountability for one’s hubris and failings.
Carl S. Victor

Gary Lanier - November 3, 2011

Teachers should not be public employees. Public school systems should hire (and fire) teachers on individual contract basis as needed. Compensation should be negotiated in cash payments only based on the value of the subject they teach. Contract teachers could then save for their own retirements via 401K and choose market health care accounts to fit their needs.

Anna N. - November 3, 2011

As a retired CA teacher I agree, teachers here are well compensated for a job that is 75% of the year. Bureaucratic constraints and political cronyism of unions and govt. officials result in high costs, lack of competition and often, poor results. Examples include education, health care, govt. involvement in housing, green energy subsidies. Vouchers give decisions back to parents, increase competition and reduce cronyism leading to potentially improved results.

Susan O’Daniel - November 3, 2011

As a teacher in Arizona (25 years), I am the first to admit we need some changes, but I believe focusing on teachers’ pay is a focus in the wrong direction. I believe you will see huge, positive changes if school funding policies change. Fund schools directly, and make the administrators in the district office “earn their keep.” Huge salaries are paid to administrators at district level, and no one seems to question those salaries or if the positions are even necessary to the success of the schools. In addition, there are many teachers working at district-level administrative jobs (some unnecessary, again, to school success), but since these positions are “TOAs – Teachers on Assignment,” they statistically are counted as teachers in the district and not as administrators. Such manipulation makes the ratio of administrators to teachers deceiving. On paper the ratio appears reasonable; in truth, the entire system is top-heavy.

Ninety-five percent of the teachers in my school work much harder than people can imagine, with higher demands each year, and I have seen many great teachers leave the field in order to work in the private sector for more money. One employee left, and after one year of her new job at a utility company, she said she couldn’t believe how much less stress she was experiencing for much better pay. Most in the private sector have no idea what teaching really entails, nor do they understand the enormous demands placed on teachers. Personally, I have had two student teachers who came to secondary education as second careers, and both quickly considered returning to the private sector after seeing the ridiculous demands required to be a successful teacher to all students. Our current ratio is 200 students to 1 teacher. Within each group of 200 students, there are 200 different levels, including non-English speaking students, special education mainstreamed students, gifted students, and many students with 504 accommodations that must be met. Meeting all of their needs is an enormous task.

The real issue that should be addressed is the salaries of administrators and the number of administrative positions created within school district offices at the expense of education in the individual schools. Much like our federal government, the districts seem to think that ever-increasing administration, more oversight, and more regulation is better when it is clearly wasteful and counterproductive.

Robert Calabro - November 3, 2011

The best way to end the public education monopoly is to have a voucher system, which will force K through 12 public schools to compete for students. A few years ago the supreme court declared school vouchers constitutional. Yet few governors have implemented school vouchers, because they do not have the courage to stand up to the teachers unions. Minority children will benefit the most from school vouchers. Unfortunately, these poor children are being raised without a father in the home. If we do not get to these kids early, we will lose another generation of minority children to drugs and alcohal. It is time that we stood up to these union bullies. We should also consider paying teachers bonuses. If the average class size is 19 in a school district, a teacher will receive a bonus for every child they take on up to 25. It should be up to the principal to select the best teachers who would qualify. Regards RC.

Lindy Lee - November 3, 2011

Many teachers that I have talked to, have left teaching because of the lack of discipline in the public schools. It is easy to blame the teachers and assume that more money will solve our educational problems. I suspect that public education would improve a great deal if we would change our approach to discipline in the schools so that the teachers could spend more time teaching and less time trying to deal with bad behavior. Perhaps after school detention, required parenting classes, cameras in the classrooms, and closer oversight of the administration could make a difference. Teachers might not think they need more pay if they had a more pleasant work environment.

Lynn - November 3, 2011

As a retired public school teacher for 15 years who really loved teaching children before the educational climate became so hostile, I wish those who criticize would walk a mile in a teacher’s shoes before rushing to judgment on what it will take to “fix” education in this country. Try teaching upwards of 30 students with 3 severely emotionally disturbed children, 1 physically handicapped, 4 special ed, 1 gifted and talented, 3 incarcerated parents, and at least one on drugs– all in a classroom designed for 23. That was my lot last year and without any help, it felt like no more than crowd control instead of real teaching. In Idaho we had a decent salary, but we could make much more in the private sector. I do not think unions are the root of all evil. Evaluations are often “in the eye of the beholder.” Competition will only serve to make teachers competitors instead of friendly collaborators. I can only imagine what that will be like! Schools do need to get rid of the deadfall, mostly in the form of too many high paying administrative positions. Most charter schools do not better than public ones. In my district they hired an energy guru who was making twice as much as I did, merely for keeping track of who wasn’t turning off lights and computers. Give me a break! Teachers are definitely NOT overpaid, and most of the teachers I know work like dogs for many hours after school and are highly effective. Students are rowdier than ever and families are broken. Many parents don’t parent anymore…but teachers are expected to fix all this. That’s why I quit at age 64. The stress was killing me.

marie prudhomme - November 3, 2011

I hope Em doesn’t bow out of the discussion. She knows some of the problems but lets look at all the problems of our Education system. For starters use the charter schools and maybe vouchers. Do away with the Federal level. The top heavy ‘administration’ need to do their job. Parents aren’t doing their job!!! OK! Too many problems. Shut it down. Start over. It is totally broke and we have to face it.

Maury Eckel - November 4, 2011

As a retired public school/charter school teacher for nearly 40 years, I have worked with numerous outstanding teachers, and a few not so good teachers. Administrators absolutely need the ability to remove non-performing teachers (believe me, the good teachers don’t want them around, either!). Eliminating tenure and allowing school choice would introduce competition and revolutionize our public school system. Let’s also get rid of the US Dept. of Ed. so we can keep more of our tax dollars at the local level and thus help our local schools.

David A. Wiles - November 4, 2011

I am employed in a community college. Here at the college, we have a significant number of employees who do not teach, do not administer…they are just here. Every public school system in America has the same situation, thanks to tax payers like me who pay and pay and pay for third or fourth class results. There is no accountability…Why should there be…Our property taxes just keep going up, and we just keep paying. Here at the college, 84% of our area high school graduates have to enroll in remedial classes before they can take real credit classes…many can not read or write…Did I mention, there is no accountability??

pat - November 4, 2011

The teachers and school boards have voted for these generous pensions and benefits for years. They need to reduce the benefits for retired teachers and administrators. They are a drag on our school system and they no longer benefit the children.

Sharon - November 4, 2011

I am a retired math educator at high school level. Had worked in the business world prior to raising family and then finished degree in mathematics and became a teacher. Left teaching after a dozen years. Tired of hearing I was expecting to much from students. Tired of being asked to “adjust” requirements for student ahtletes. Tired of competing with extra curricular activities. Tired of working so much harder than the majority of students. Overpaid? Absolutely not! When I went back into the business world, I was amazed at how much free time I had–not correcting tests over the weekend. Good teachers take work home and come back prepared to teach. My daughter was a teacher and this summer had an opportunity to work in business. They love her. She loves her new job and is also amazed at how much free time she has available for her family. Administrators, for the most part, could be eliminated as most are ex teachers who don’t know anything about business and thus treat faculty as though they are the children in the classroom. I have seen too many great teachers leave the profession. Take sports/activities out of the “school day” and let teachers teach; then I will be convinced education is the goal, and Johnny won’t play football unless he can get his education work completed. Administrators and weak- willed counselors are two of the main problems. I am so disappointed at what we are doing to the next generation under the guise of education. Too many bad teachers are also coaches, not all, but too many. And they would rather just coach! Absolutely, good teachers are not overpaid. Pay good teachers more than administrators and counselors and put all activities at end of the “education part of the school day.” My blood pressure is rising just regurgitating the memories :-).

Paul E Wlodyka - November 5, 2011

The answer is; Get the Federal goverment out of education ! Eliminate the dept. of education, each State should oversee it’s schools.

Paul - November 5, 2011

The Heritage – Richwine and Biggs seems right on the mark as far as an assessment. How to reform is another question. It seems that the school governance is not functioning well. One suggestion is to get the US federal government out of, at least, K-12 education. Then maybe the teachers pay can more closely match the value in a community. And it should be the responsiblity of the teachers “boss” to evaluate their value and set their pay, as happens with many other employees. (Sure there are variables such as difficult students. Deal with it.)

Edree - November 6, 2011

Start with requiring teachers to contribute as much to their reitement plans as we had to do in the private sector.

Patsy - November 6, 2011

I would like to share a situation our family experienced several years ago while living in a small town in Ohio. Our daughter was in junior high at a very nice public school. The teachers union decided to strike and our daughter just happened to have the president of the union as one of her teachers. For days before the teachers went on strike our daughter came home telling me how her teacher was talking to the class about the union’s issues and that they should be telling their parents. The strike lasted awhile and the school system brought in substitutes from a company that evidently provided people during strikes. It was discovered that one of the subs had a questional criminal record. I do not believe they were accually trained educated teachers. The students lost a few weeks of valuable learning time so these unionized teachers could get their way. It is a lousy setup when a group can hold so much sway over an institution that has to panic at the thought of the teachers union not being happy with what they already have. If our school boards and superintendents are so powerless to do what is good and right for our students, we are cooked.

Pete - November 6, 2011

I agree with the others who believe the Federal Dept. of Ed. should be abolished immediately, in its entirety. At the state DoEd level, they should be reduced significantly and only perform and publish statistical analysis on which schools and teachers within their state are getting the job done. Put core curriculum development and direction back at the home town level. Stop all the fluff-PC programs and classes and revert to the fundamentals of teaching the “3 Rs”. Get the United Nations’ socialistic dogma and educational subversion out of our classrooms and text books. Begin teaching American history with significant emphasis on our Constitution and Federalist Papers. Get parents involved with the educational system with emphasis on the betterment of “their own” children. Bring God back into our classrooms… those children who do not want to pray do not have to. In spite of what our President would have the world to believe, The United States of America is a Christian Nation.

Edward Kampermann - November 6, 2011

Although I have not read all the comments posted to date, I find all of them quite instructive and insightful with regard to the reality of teaching in the 21st Century. Without question, a union for teachers is not required because in the public sector they are government employees of the local school district and are entitled to job protection under civil service laws. Indeed, they are entitled to a decent wage based on their academic credentials and experience (This is a criterion that private employers use in everywhere) adjusted for the cost of living in their locale. Frankly, better-educated, self-motivated teachers need very little supervision, just consider the streamlined operation of private or parochial schools. But, the difference here is that these schools only accept and retain students who are not disruptive and for the most part come from a stable family with a DAD in the household. In the public school system there too many administrators, restrictions and regulations to further compound and already difficult workplace, add the burden of children from illiterate illegal alien parents- who live apart- and are incapable of providing the cohesion and love of a family unit to the increasing number of citizen single parent households with missing fathers and uncontrollable children and the picture becomes very clear that in most cases it is not the teacher that is at fault for poor performance in the schools but politicians and unions who act as foot soldiers for political families. And in cities across America there is this out-dated, very costly, concept of achieving racial balance through busing. Bring back safe neighborhood schools and you will have better teachers and better students. Why should children be bussed about for two hours a day ???

Clem - November 7, 2011

I am so sick of hearing about the low teacher salaries. The really good teachers would welcome competition and actually make more money,but there are loads of worthless totally overpaid teachers and administrators who will fight to the death to preserve the cushy do little overpaid jobs.I know many who could not find a job even close to what they are getting in salary and benefits and yet they all complain and moan how hard they have to work and always,always need more money.

Gary - November 7, 2011

Competition already exists, but it’s hampered by not being on the “level playing field” the left keeps whining about. People who choose to send their kids to non-public schools have to absorb the costs of tuition and still have to pay every bit as much in taxes to support a system they elect not to use. To even things out a bit, rather than vouchers (that take tax money and give it back out, minus the costs of administration…and we all know a $1000 voucher started out as more like $2000 in revenue collected), why not charge people who do not use the public schools less in property taxes by the amount of the “voucher?” Thus, if it’s a $2000 voucher the people want, assess them $2000 less in property taxes than their neighbors who do use the schools. This would be a great boon to retirees like my wife and myself who have no children in our local schools…and never will…while our next-door neighbor has two children in the local system and pays exactly the same amount in school-tax as we do.
I think that would be about as fair as can be.

Vangie De Luna - November 8, 2011

Teachers that are union members are compensated better than non-union members. If we (nonunion) eachers want pay for 12 months, we agree to have our 9 month contract divided by 12 months in order to receive a check during summer break. The public school system should not be allowed to unionize. We are supported by state and federal funds as well as donations from private organizations.Teachers should be compensated for their teaching skills, academic achievement and topic knowledge. Let’s keep state funds and keep the FEDS out of the system. We have too many state agencies telling us what to teach and that doesn’t include fundamental social values, ie, American History and loyalty, personal values, etc. Now we have to teach Mexican history, stop the pledge of allegiance to the American flag and concentrate more on sex education. Shouldn’t teachers and administrators alike stand up for American values??? Too many thing are wrong with our Public School System. Are we really pro student or are we in this for the money? And get rid of tenure in colleges and universities.

julie greene - November 11, 2011

After receiving an MBA in the 1980′s, I spent nearly 20 years as a successful marketing professional. After my daughter was born, I spent 9 years as a full time mother. I have been a high school math teacher for 4 years now. Thank goodness, I am not required to join a union in Texas (my mother and family were required to join in Michigan). That said, I believe I am nowhere near overpaid given my education, my experience and my work ethic. For too many reasons to go into here, this job is the most demanding job I’ve ever had.

Many teachers are like me and they are good at what they do. However, you get what you pay for and I know of many teachers who I wouldn’t want teaching my daughter. And they keep their jobs! That needs to change.

The bigger problem that we need to focus on is the downright apathy of too many students and their parents. I work in an affluent school district and it never ceases to amaze me how many students just don’t try to do well and how many parents don’t know what to do about their kids. What’s worse, the “system” enables this behavior. We’re not preparing the kids for the real world where there are NO second chances.

There are two sides to the issue coin. Teacher accountability on one side and student/parent accountability on the other. I would like to hear more talk about the student/parent side.

Natalie - November 13, 2011

I am happy with my pay, and I love my job. My hours are 7 to 3. Do I leave at 3? No, I plan, I grade,I tutor. Do I go home and enjoy the rest of the day? You wish, I think of how to get the students ” interested and engaged”. The name of the game is not how well you can teach, but how entertaining you can be in the classroom. It’s hard; it’s like a stand-up comedy every day. Good 45 minutes of an act needs about 3 hours of preparation. They need to learn the curriculum, which only 50 percent of the class cares about. The rest of them need to be entertained continuously, so they would let the top ten kids in your class to learn. Why don’t you surround yourselves with 30 teenagers and spend 8 hours a day with them. Then you can tell me that I’m overpaid. The emotional input is immense and it cannot be measured and compared to than in other professions. Yes, it takes about two months to recover from the exhaustion of the school year.

Larry Compton - November 13, 2011

My wife is a Special Ed. teacher in Idaho. She has over 35 students to take care of, is the last teacher out of the high school every night, has govt. paperwork to fill out on each student at home till late at night; has had her aids cut in half, has a Masters degree in special ED, and doesn”t make as much as me, or have the benefits I do as a long haul truck driver. I think the study is grossly flawed. We are losing teachers in Idaho to Montana and Wyoming…elsewhere too, because of better pay. A “CARTE BLANCHE” statement like this so-called study reports, is BULL.

Henry Duvall - November 15, 2011

Just follow Michelle Rhee and StudentsFirst (proven effective). Also, look for dysfunctional triangle between teacher-parent-student and make if function. Kids are work, and too many parents forget that responsibility. Nothing more powerfully effective than a well-engaged bond between teacher and student. Focus on that. Lastly, de-tooth the Union, and Administration, who are driven by wrong incentives. Establish standards, build leaders, eliminate extra tests for kids (their over punished/stressed for failure of the system). Whereever charter schools are recommended as the answer, then reduce my public school tax proportionately. Force rap star record producers to help pay teachers’ salaries.

Jeanne - November 19, 2011

Everyone else is judged on their job performance. Why should teachers be exempt? No more tenure. Doing good work is how everyone else keeps their jobs or businesses going. While were at it, judges and politicians need to be held accountable too!!

Jack Leishear - November 26, 2011

If you reward failure, you get more of the same. If you punish success you get more of the same. Look it up.

Jack

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