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

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Price For Screwing Over Teachers

Via Diane Ravitch, Jeff Mirel makes a point that the reformy types never, ever want to deal with:
The second case, tenure helping good teachers stay in field—you're right on this in your review of Wendy Kopp's book. If the goal of getting excellent teachers to stick around for 20 or 30 years, then they need tenure protection in no small part because they are NEVER going to get paid what they are worth financially. Without tenure, teaching school cannot compete in the economic marketplace (e.g., I know people in the business world who have only a B.A. in business and, after 10 years in the field, are making 2.5-3 times what public school teachers are making. Without good job protection we will never have long term, high quality teachers in our classrooms. [emphasis mine]
Everybody on the reformy side loves to say that "good" teachers should be paid more. Chris Christie says it. Arne Duncan says it. Bill Gates says it. Michelle Rhee says it. What they don't say is that that the "reforms" that they want to put in place are based around removing workplace protections that have an economic value for teachers.

In other words: if you're going to remove tenure and not replace it with some other sort of compensation, you are essentially paying a teacher less. It is worth something to that teacher to have tenure protections in place; it's foolish to claim otherwise. And if a teacher is getting less for the same work, Economics 101 suggests the supply of workers willing to do that job is going to shrink (unless, of course, we are willing to settle for less-qualified or less-talented teachers).

This is exactly why the wingnuts are pushing the meme that teachers are overpaid in the first place: even they implicitly acknowledge that these "reforms" are erosions of teacher compensation. So they try to develop psuedo-academic arguments that teachers are overcompensated in the first place. One of the many problems with their arguments, however, is that they themselves never attempt to calculate the worth of things like tenure.

This is all happening at the same time teacher pensions are under attack, and health benefits continue to shrink. Can you understand why teachers are demoralized? It's bad enough that all the joy is being drained from their jobs; their compensation outside of wages is simultaneously being eroded (although their wages are taking a beating as well).

There is simply no way this can continue without teacher quality paying a price. I know it's fashionable to say that "teachers should consider themselves lucky to have a job!" but you can only erode a college-educated professionals compensation so much before the theory of supply and demand kicks in.

So the question to the reformyists is this: is getting rid of tenure so damn important that it's worth coming up with compensation to replace it? Or are we just going to gut tenure and let teacher quality slide?

There is a price to be paid for screwing over teachers, folks. Is it worth it?


Anonymous said...

Talk about screwing us over! How about nasty, rude administrators who treat us like we're the students. Do they really think that any of us will be better teachers when they demoralize and degrade us every day? Shame on all of them. It's time we demand respect.

Norma Ray said...

And what happens when merit pay goes the way of that other unfunded mandate: the anit-bullying law? Oops! Not enough money to pay you your 'merit bonus' based on flawed standardized tests. Guess you'll just have to go without. Or better yet, your township can just pick up the tab in the form of higher property taxes. Oh, too bad... they voted down the over cap increase. Guess you'll just have to go without.

Anonymous said...

Do you work in Clifton High?

Anonymous said...

The stories I could tell you about those ppl!!! Use to be a faculty friendly place. NO MORE!!

Anonymous said...

Every one of these pols should come do the job for a week, without their security details, without the privilege of using the restroom when biology beckons.....BEFORE we can even have an honest conversation about legitimate reforms. Teachers are expected to fill every hole each student enters the classroom with - the impact of hunger, dysfunctional family lives, being born into households of non- readers....any public educator knows exactly to what I refer. No one enters the field for the salary. It truly is an avocation. Now the benefits could soar to to 35 percent of their costs, raises are vanishin, budgets are getting capped, politician - raided pensions need to be replenished by the public educators...and for what? The privilege of being told we use children as drug mules by the bully? When the braintrust continues to go elsewhere, who will fill the void? Probably the same dopes who resent a 10- month contract. The same dopes who think our jobs are easy, our hours short. I am rarely truly off from September through June. The planning, the grading, the concerns about the students who just refuse to try, who are emotionally distraught, who are mean and rude to one another and to teachers....Oh, the cakewalk and glamor of it all. How could we walk away from it, even if we cannot pay our mortgages?

Anonymous said...

How about being a retired teacher who receives a pension but it is not the "millionaire" one that we all are supposed to receive? Even with that pension and social security, I am out substituting 4 days a week in order to pay my mortgage. I loved teaching but retired two years ago when Christie started attacking us and threatening our benefits.

Unknown said...

Wait, are you saying standard treatment for students is to demoralize and degrade them??? I have a little experience on the receiving end of that administrative style, but I find it equally upsetting and counterproductive to have students treated that way either.

Anonymous said...

1) I'd like to, under HIB, report Chris Christie for bullying me. He is attacking my very being, and he doesn't even know me!

2) The true cost, is the less than educated students who can no more make change without a calculator, than understand what they read, or communicate without a digital middle man!

Anonymous said...

Duke, encouraging thuggery in teachers is below you. What do the kids think when they see their teachers acting out in a mob, exhibiting behavior that would get them thrown out of a classroom if they were kids? How do you manage a classroom when the leaders condones and exhibits public heckling and far worse behavior?

If you bemoan the fact that some members of society look at teachers (mostly their union) as more like dockworkers or coal miners than the "professionals" (e.g.: doctors) they profess and aspire to be, look no further than posts like this.

Anonymous said...

I'll say it again.
Weak, anon, even for you.

Perhaps the blustering, name-calling, foul-mouthed, sneering, gov. is a good example for the young. "AH, teach, Chris Christie talks this way, why can't we?

By the way, this great communicator can't handle low-level static at town hall meetings (where he has his praetorian guard to enforce his will). He'd last two minutes teaching one of my classes.

Imagine an inner city teacher calling a tenacious kid an idiot.

Your hero's lack of gravitas is ironic considering . . .

Trolls set a poor example--please think about the children!

Jazzman go bragh!

March 17, 2012 8:17 AM