I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Sunday, April 29, 2012

There IS a Teacher Labor Market

I find it hysterical that so many of the "corporate reformers" also love to sing the praises of the free market. They seem to believe that they can cap salaries and take away pensions, benefits, and workplace protections, but somehow still attract loads of qualified people to the field - in complete contradiction to their stated beliefs about the private sector.

Take tenure; somehow, the reformies think you can take it away and teachers (and potential teachers) will never notice:
Teacher tenure, in both higher-education and K-12 schooling, is an important mechanism for attracting talent. Stanford’s Terry Moe, a strong union critic, finds in his polling that “most teachers see the security of tenure as being worth tens of thousands of dollars a year.” His survey suggests a majority of teachers would need to be paid 50 percent more to give up tenure. Take away tenure without substantially increasing pay, and the pool of qualified candidates for the teaching profession is likely to shrink. (Although some might argue that talented teachers will feel confident and flock to teaching even without tenure, research has long found that self-confidence and actual ability are not as tightly correlated as one would hope.) [emphasis mine]
"Talented teachers" are most likely talented in other areas as well. Why would they "flock" to teaching when they can be paid much more in other jobs that don't offer tenure?

There used to be some logic in the way teachers were compensated. Yes, they made less than other parts of the labor market, but society made it up in other ways: pensions, health care, tenure, etc. This was a good deal for taxpayers: it saved them money by providing non-pecuniary compensations to educators.

Well, we've pretty much destroyed any advantage teachers had in health care and pensions at this point. Now we're going to take away tenure. Politicians like Chris Christie and Arne Duncan keep saying they'll make up for this by "paying the best teachers more," but why should any teacher (or potential teacher) believe them when they won't come up with a serious, concrete plan to do just that? They want us to give up our benefits and tenure just on their promises?

Look at the top of this blog, and tell me what a promise from Chris Christie is worth.

This entire reformy movement has been all about cutting teacher compensation. The hope among the reformy is that we have so decimated the middle class that teachers will have no choice but to give in, because everyone else has sucky benefits, pay, and workplace protections.

The problem is that, even though the American aristocracy has done some real damage over the last 30 years, they haven't yet brought down the entire labor market. Teachers (and potential teachers) still have other options. They don't have to teach if they don't think it's worth it; they can go do something else.

Now, at this point in the argument, the reformyist will trot out his appeal to sainthood, a la Chris Christie:
I think for those people who are feeling discouraged right now, because they're going to have to pay a percentage of their health insurance premium, or they're going to have to pay one or two points more towards a lifetime pension, then I would suggest to you respectfully that those people have completely lost touch with reality, and probably didn't have the passion to begin with.
See, a good teacher must be a saint. The regular rules of the marketplace - the ones Christie cheers as he provides tax giveaways to the "job creators" - just don't apply to teachers. It's OK to be motivated by money if you're in business, but it's not OK to passively accept lower wages, broken promises, and the abolition of tenure if you're a teacher. Anyone who does that isn't "passionate" enough.

Like Chris Christie was "passionate" about corporate lobbying. Of course, his passions paid off...

Just a couple of the sacrifices Chris Christie made to follow his "passions"...


commutingteacher said...

I find it quite disrespectful and disingenuous that they would suggest one would not have a passion for teaching if they are advocating for benefits that sort-of make them equal to their private sector counter parts. Nothing compares to the many extra hours teachers invest and those hours in fact make the profession less and less attractive in the face of diminishing pay and benefits. Why would the best and the brightest settle for such an inequity at the expense of their own families? Only the very young, living at home, with the least experience will settle for such employment because, at this rate, it will not be a career anymore.

jcg said...

Tenure MUST go. How else can our galtian overloards churn teaching positions in their inner-city money laundering schools? Churning can only happen if they can flood the teaching market with their fast tracked applicants- those not trained by those pesky, staus-quo university programs in education. Read: cheap labor.

To Arne, Rahm, Chris, Mike, Bill,the Waltons, the Broads the corporate media et al.,attracting qualified people to teaching FOR OTHER PEOPLE'S KIDS means: bypassing university colleges of education by reducing requirements for teacher credentialing. The moneychangers at Western Governors University will sell you a master's degree and a teaching certification for a dream and a student loan. Better yet,NBC News approves:
"The dreams of 19 governors have become [WGU Grad Angie Gonzalez's] dream fulfilled."- Tom Costello NBC Nightly News.

The little poison pill cheapening teacher professionalism was passed by the Congress and Senate controlled by Democrats, with the blessing of Republicans.


"Section 163—inserted in the law in the final days of the 111th Congress and without public debate —undermines the federal definition of a 'highly qualified teacher' in the No Child Left Behind Act by allowing states to label teachers as “highly qualified” when they are still in training – and, in many cases, just beginning training – in alternative route programs. This misguided federal policy permits intern teachers-in-training to be disproportionately concentrated in schools and classrooms serving low-income students, students of color, English language learners, and students with disabilities, and then allows states and districts to hide this reality from parents and the public when complying with their federal reporting requirements."

Now, when the Dems call and ask me for money, I tell them to solicit from their corporate owners, for whom they work.

jcg said...

One more thing. Earning a profit off of the backs of our most vulnerable kids exposes the rot at the core of corporate edu-reformers. Arne, et al., plan to sneak into the ESEA reauthorization little to no standards for privatized teacher training academies. Hmm, where have I heard of education training academies? Sounds like a model of the Broad superintendent training academies that places bidness gods as CEOs' of school systems.

Arne and his bipartisn cronies in congress are creating a double standard for teacher prep by weakening provisions for the Growing Education Achievement Training Academies for Teachers and Principals Act in ESEA reauthorization S.1250.

From http://hecse.net/index.html link to Higher Education Consortium for Special Education (HECSE) Legislative Priorities 2012 for the policy position

Teacher 'quality' has absolutely no meaning except when used to sell the public on corporate reforms. It is overused and misapplied for any reformy initiative our bidness owners deem necessary for their greedy private interests. Repeat: GREEDY reformy interests.