Archive for the ‘education’ Category

Apparently, my citation of facts was too much for Stan Huskey, and he had refused to approve my comment.  I guess it just didn’t fit into the mold of his echo chamber.

Sometimes, when Mrs. Còmhradh and I are sitting on the couch, I’ll start getting one of our dogs riled up. She (the dog) is pretty easy to get going, and she’ll do the whole snappy-barky “knock it off!” thing that dogs do when you’re playfully annoying them. Then, when I’ve got her really good and miffed at me, she’ll turn and nip at Mrs. Còmhradh, presumably because I’m avoiding the gnashy-toothed snapping she’s attempting to lay on me.

Stan Huskey’s latest column reminds me of that. He gets himself all in a tizzy over our Congressman, Jim Gerlach (who defended his seat by 1000 and 3000 vote margins in the last two elections and is not polling well), layers in some froth about Obama and the IRS, and then, with no apparent connection, takes a swing at teachers.

Can I say no to this bait? Of course not. Here’s my response:

You really do have it out for teachers, don’t you? Right in the middle of a mish-mashed rant about Gerlach (which I actually can’t tell if you’re criticizing or defending him), the IRS and Obama, you wander off to take a swing at your teacher piñata before heading off in yet another direction. I don’t believe that I’ve ever agreed with you, Stan, but typically I can understand what your point is. The only thing I got out of this was “teachers aren’t accountable to anyone, therefore they are probably doing a bad job!”

I know I’ve given teachers a hard time in the past, but I really have no beef with a teacher who does an outstanding job.

But we all know there are teachers, just like there are people in every profession, journalism included, who simply don’t pull their weight.

My ears always perk up at this dog-whistle language. You attempt to come across as generous to teachers, but what you’re really doing is insinuating that since there’s no review process, it’s likely that most teachers are substandard. I’m sure you’ll raise a defense against that, but you’ve been nothing but critical of uppity teachers having the gall to demand 2% raises to offset the 4% increase in cost of living, the amount of money you personally have to pay in order to support them, and the teaching profession in general, so I’m in no way inclined to give you the benefit of the doubt here. You’re insinuating that since you don’t see a review process, the chances are good that any given teacher is probably “pulling their weight.”

I’m not going to argue that there is no review process after the first three years of a teacher’s career, and I fully support one, just like the NEA and AFT do. However, studies show that if you want better education, you don’t look at the teachers – you look at the average income of the people in the school district. The more wealth in the district, the better the test scores get.

So, Stan, if you want more to show for your tax bill, the solution is simple. Stop looking out for your own economic interest, and start looking out for the economic interests of your neighbors. The more money they make, the higher NASD students will score.

Stan busts out the old “OMG SOCIALISM” claptrap. I’m thinking that there’s a chance that “Stan Huskey” is an automated bot programmed by FreedomWorks.

Between Montco PA Dem and comhradh you would think we were living in a socialist nation… We tax, that’s what we do in this country, so you’re telling me, and by that I mean both of you, that the only people that should be taxed, and taxed hard, are the people who have made something of themselves? Let’s take care of every need of everyone who doesn’t want to do it for themselves, is that your collective position?

You know, sometimes Republicans say some quotable things. One that springs to mind is “there you go again.” If taxing people according to their income is your definition of socialism, then someone needs to tell Ronald Reagan that he lost the Cold War, because Europe is a veritable Marxist dreamland.

People who have benefited from a system that allows some to float to the top shouldn’t mind giving more back so that the system can take care of the rest that are left to float to the bottom.

Again, Stan, if you want to view this in a straight dollars-and-cents manner and ignore the basic humanity of caring for one’s neighbor, wouldn’t it be better to have a well-fed and healthy workforce? Even your Soylent fiscal policy should be able to come to grips with that.

And conhradh, just another correction to your last post. Methacton teachers are asking for nearly 6 percent per year for four years, for teachers still going through the steps, not 6 percent for the whole four years. I like debating with people, but not with people who simply don’t pay attention.

It’s Còmhradh, Mr. Editor, and I was referring to the North Penn contract, which you also were referring to in the editorial I was referencing. Although, for the record, Methacton teachers are asking for 8% over 4 years (that’s 2% per year, if you’re paying attention). I am, of course, getting these figures from an article printed in the Times Herald, the local paper. Perhaps you’re familiar with it?

The joke here (if you missed it) is that he’s the editor of the Times Herald.

Sometimes, when people scream about teachers sucking and not being good enough and whatnot, the stupid things they say almost makes their point for them.

My long-time bugbear Stan Huskey, editor of the local tabloid, suggested recently that teachers should quit begging for “raises” while times are tough, because pleading for a 2% pay cut rather than a 3.5% pay cut is (and I quote) “asking for too much.”

This is a brief explanation of why you’re feeling unappreciated. Every time you go to the well for pay increases all of our property taxes go up, and yes, I know that includes yours as well. Here’s the real reason you’re not feeling the love right now; you’re asking for too much. No one wants to hear that you want to pay less for your health care. No one wants to hear that you want 4, 5 and 6 percent raises. Just be reasonable. That’s all.

Reasonable. Right. I responded with actual reason, accompanied by facts and figures:

In order to (attempt to) head off the expected “teachers have it great!” idiocy that this post is sure to generate, here’s a comparison in actual dollars:

The average Pennsylvanian with a bachelor’s degree and 14 years of experience works about 40 hours a week for 48 weeks out of the year and makes $65,000/year – at 1,920 hours per year, that’s $33.85/hour.

The average Pennsylvania teacher has a master’s degree and 14 years of experience, works about 65 hours a week for 40 weeks out of the year and makes $55,000/year – at 2,600 hours per year, that’s $21.15/hour.

Same hours, over a third less.

So, Stan, if asking for what equates to a 2% pay cut is “too much,” then what amount, exactly, is “just right?” I’m sure all the teachers out there would like to know just how much they should be begging to be gouged for.

His response was to demand that I cite my sources, because “there’s nothing worse than someone throwing numbers out without backing them up.” This is the same guy who put words in my mouth and uses arbitrary numbers with no research, but hey, I’ll bite.

Here’s my sources:

http://projects.mcall.com/teacher_pay/browse_counties/ave_salary/1/

http://www.payscale.com/research/US/State=Pennsylvania/Salary/by_Years_Experience

As for the health care, I didn’t even figure that in to cost of living adjustments. Do you think it’s fair to ask teachers to take a pay cut and then have to pay more for health care? Do you really believe that they’re asking “too much” when they ask for help to offset those costs?

Of course, he doesn’t respond to actual data, but further commenters provide a goldmine.

Riggstad slobbers all over himself for a bit, talking about how my numbers are skewed because:

The average worker with a bachelors degree and 14 years experience and whatever other numbers you threw out there….

Those average workers are contributing to revenue and profit. What they do drive a bottom line and make money for whatever companies or organizations they are working for. That might seem cruel and off tangent to what you were trying to point out, but again, what they do adds money. It’s there to be had.

They create revenue, or aid in creating that revenue for their own positions. Is it fair that the kid in sales who quit college makes $230k a year selling software as opposed to the guy in accounting who has a masters degree, CPA certification, and only makes $150k? Um, yeah. Because the kid created the revenue for the company to be able to pay him that. The CPA has to compete with someone who can do the same job as he does, and possibly for less. In fact, if it wasn’t for the kid, the CPA might not have a job.

I thought teachers took those jobs and pursued those careers in order to fulfill their own personal desires in wanting to help the children. Personal job satisfaction must be weighed when discussing salaries. You choose your profession based on what you want to do, what you can do, and how much money you want to earn. I doubt anyone ever considered money when deciding they wanted to be a teacher. I get that it’s not what we are talking about. But if you are going to compare statistics like that, you better be sure to understand what and why positions offer in terms of salaries and how they are calculated.

GRR! Numbers bad! Facts bad! Riggstad smash! Calm down, bucko, let me get this straight…

@Riggstad:

So, what you’re saying is that teachers contribute nothing society, and since they do what they do simply for the love of it, they basically don’t even deserve a paycheck?

No response to that, either.

Then came this gem, at least on topic after the thread was inexplicably hijacked into some discussion about Sarah Palin:

Why can’t I, as a tax payer- go online or to a local office, and view the resume & check out the credentials of each teacher who wants a job in the schools that I pay taxes into?

Oh… oh wow. No, really, the stupid, it truly burns. Why?

Because, as opposed to everyone else that you vote for, teachers are required to submit to state and federal background checks and acquire a teaching certificate from the state to certify that they are qualified to be a teacher.

Because the school year starts in Late August/early September and terms last until January, therefore you’d have new teachers “taking office” in the middle of the school year.

Because the result would be highly politicized campaigns for who gets to be the next Chemistry teacher at Norristown Area High School, where the candidate with most money will get the job and retain it as long as they can continue to outspend challengers, regardless of their actual performance.

Because as soon as this system would be instituted and someone you didn’t vote for became your kid’s fifth-grade teacher, you’d be screaming that political ideology has no place in the classroom and demanding a recount.

Because when was the last time you saw an elected official fired for what the public perceived as gross incompetence? Being voted out of office doesn’t count – I’m talking removed from office. If you think unions and tenure are bad, imagine someone with political cover and the support of their state party. Good luck getting even a sexual predator removed from “office.” “These are just vicious allegations from my opponent, and I have a 1 million dollar war chest that will exonerate me!”

And, most importantly:

Because, unless you have been in the education sector long enough to be in a position to make that kind of determination, you are wholly unqualified to be making an assessment like that. The very fact that you’ve entertained such a ridiculous notion very clearly illustrates that.

That’s why.