View Poll Results: Are You Voting November 8th?

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  • Yes, I vote in every election.

    15 62.50%
  • No, I never vote.

    1 4.17%
  • No, I don't vote unless I have a candidate I'm supporting.

    4 16.67%
  • No, I can't vote.

    4 16.67%
  • Undecided.

    0 0%
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Thread: Are You Voting Next Tuesday?

  1. #81
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    Re: Are You Voting Next Tuesday?

    Quote Originally Posted by theplaydrive View Post
    First, smaller class sizes and safer schools benefit students tremendously so even if it's true that they fight for them for the reasons you mentioned, it doesn't matter if they don't have a negative impact on education. Oftentimes, the interests of students line up with that of the teachers.
    And often they don't...and when they don't, the students' interests should win. But they don't because teacher's unions are far more politically powerful.
    As for the times when the teachers and students interests do align, that's fine. There should be plenty of popular support for the policies in those cases with or without the unions.

    Second, while 'more teachers' may be one reason, most teachers also want smaller class sizes because they enable them to more effectively teach and most of them also want the best for their students and it turns out that smaller class sizes are good for students.
    The evidence on the effectiveness of smaller class sizes is, at best, ambiguous.

    Can you be more specific?
    Sure. Teachers unions lobby for extremely stringent guidelines as to how to fire an incompetent teacher. This can range from merely difficult in some states, to nearly impossible in others. Many school administrators simply give up because they don't have time to fight the unions tooth and nail to get rid of a bad teacher...so the teacher continues (not) teaching his students and the students are worse for it.

    Additionally, teachers unions lobby for seniority-based policies such as "last in first out," so that if a school needs to lay off teachers due to budget cuts they have to lay off the most junior teachers first, regardless of which teachers are actually good at their jobs.

    Can you substantiate this claim? Which policies are the biggest impediment to education and how have teachers' unions prevented them from being eradicated?
    The biggest problem is the inability to get rid of bad teachers, and the inability to provide enough merit incentive to recruit lots of talented people into the profession in the first place. Obviously there are plenty of exceptions...but in general the teaching profession primarily recruits from the bottom third of college classes. In countries with successful education systems, they primarily come from the top third.

    Teachers unions have stood in the way of these policies by insisting on overly strict rules for getting rid of bad teachers, and for completely eschewing the concept of merit. Obviously this is problematic because it means that less competent people, on average, will be teaching students...but personally I think it's also problematic because teachers can provide a role model for students. If students see mediocrity rather than meritocracy in the professional culture of the adults they interact with every day, I don't think it's particularly surprising that the students adopt the same attitude themselves.

    (And before anyone yells at me, of course there are good teachers and whatnot. I'm talking about on the whole.)
    Last edited by Kandahar; 11-07-11 at 09:54 PM.
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  2. #82
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    Re: Are You Voting Next Tuesday?

    Quote Originally Posted by Morality Games View Post
    Their self-interest and partiality to "their own" doesn't help, but I can think of a few worse obstacles. Like a complete lack of vision over what a good education program would be to prepare students for life in the 21st century.
    I agree with this. If I were king, I would radically redesign our education system to more accurately reflect what students are actually going to need to know. For example, English would involve less literature and more speaking/writing. Mathematics would involve less geometry and calculus, and more statistics. Social science would involve less history, and more government, economics, and sociology. Science classes would spend far more time on the scientific method. I would also require classes on computer science, financial literacy, and child-rearing. And all classes would be at least partially project-based and drill the concept of critical thinking into students' heads.
    Last edited by Kandahar; 11-07-11 at 09:59 PM.
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  3. #83
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    Re: Are You Voting Next Tuesday?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kandahar View Post
    The evidence on the effectiveness of smaller class sizes is, at best, ambiguous.
    Not really:
    http://www.aft.org/pdfs/americaneduc...ARSummer99.pdf
    Archived: Class-Size Reduction: Myths and Realities

    Sure. Teachers unions lobby for extremely stringent guidelines as to how to fire an incompetent teacher. This can range from merely difficult in some states, to nearly impossible in others. Many school administrators simply give up because they don't have time to fight the unions tooth and nail to get rid of a bad teacher...so the teacher continues (not) teaching his students and the students are worse for it.
    Those administrators are lazy. My father was a principal in a union school for 25 years and fired the tenured teachers he needed to fire. Even so, the process can be reformed in places where it needs to reformed and some teachers' unions have agreed to reform where they and everyone else thinks it's necessary (like NYC).

    Additionally, teachers unions lobby for seniority-based policies such as "last in first out," so that if a school needs to lay off teachers due to budget cuts they have to lay off the most junior teachers first, regardless of which teachers are actually good at their jobs.
    That's true, but if an older teacher is actually a bad teacher, then they can be fired. I'm actually quite sure the this is the unofficial policy of a lot of places including private businesses. You don't usually fire the veterans who know what they're doing first.

    The biggest problem is the inability to get rid of bad teachers,
    But I haven't see any studies that such problems are big enough to actually have an impact on education. Can you provide me with something that says 'bad' teachers have any more of an impact on problems in the education system than 'bad' car salesman had on the collapse of the auto industry? Because to me they seem to be at the same level. Annoying, but certainly not worthy of being significant.

    and the inability to provide enough merit incentive to recruit lots of talented people into the profession in the first place. Obviously there are plenty of exceptions...but in general the teaching profession primarily recruits from the bottom third of college classes. In countries with successful education systems, they primarily come from the top third.
    Can you explain why this is the fault of teachers' unions?

    Teachers unions have stood in the way of these policies by insisting on overly strict rules for getting rid of bad teachers, and for completely eschewing the concept of merit.
    Which overly strict rules? And can you substantiate the claim that they 'completely eschew the concept of merit'? Considering that they support teacher certification, tenure only after a strict evaluation process and pay tied to advanced education, I think merit is something that they favor actually.

    I know that teachers do not want their pay and standing to be tied to standardized testing and grades since student performance on both are tied to many factors outside of the teachers' control. And considering that this is the plan most 'merit pay' advocates propose, I can't say that their objection to it is irrational. Do you? Do you think it makes sense to tie a teacher's evaluation and pay to the performance of student who may be affected by personal problems, poorly written tests and poor educational policies that teachers cannot control?

    Obviously this is problematic because it means that less competent people, on average, will be teaching students...but personally I think it's also problematic because teachers can provide a role model for students. If students see mediocrity rather than meritocracy in the professional culture of the adults they interact with every day, I don't think it's particularly surprising that the students adopt the same attitude themselves.
    Can you substantiate the implication that 'mediocrity' is a staple among teachers? If so, can you that this 'mediocrity' is due to teachers unions rather than politicians or other sources? And can you substantiate the implication that most teachers are directly responsible for students who perform poorly?

  4. #84
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    Re: Are You Voting Next Tuesday?

    Quote Originally Posted by haymarket View Post
    The fact that they are not should tell you how false your comparison is.
    Sorry but they are.
    Very similar to lawyers.

    It is a service business.
    The employees pay dues for the union to represent them in contract negotiations for pay and benefits.
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  5. #85
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    Re: Are You Voting Next Tuesday?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kandahar View Post
    Teachers unions only fight for things that benefit themselves (i.e. smaller class sizes = more teachers = more dues-paying members)...and they stand in the way of effective policies like getting rid of bad teachers and demanding accountability. Frankly they are the single biggest impediment our nation faces in fixing its failing schools.
    As a 33 year member of the AFT, I attended countless state and national conventions as a delegate where I participated in scores of workshops designed to make for moreeffectiveand better schools that had absolutely nothing to do with feathering our own nest.

    Your statements sadly are indicative of somebody on the outside looking in and you badly need to get informed.
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  6. #86
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    Re: Are You Voting Next Tuesday?

    Quote Originally Posted by Harry Guerrilla View Post
    Sorry but they are.
    Very similar to lawyers.

    It is a service business.
    The employees pay dues for the union to represent them in contract negotiations for pay and benefits.
    It sounds like you are simply anti-union and do not like the basic idea of unions and how they function under the law.

    playdrive has dealt very effectively with the rest of your comments.
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  7. #87
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    Re: Are You Voting Next Tuesday?

    Quote Originally Posted by haymarket View Post
    As a 33 year member of the AFT, I attended countless state and national conventions as a delegate where I participated in scores of workshops designed to make for moreeffectiveand better schools that had absolutely nothing to do with feathering our own nest.

    Your statements sadly are indicative of somebody on the outside looking in and you badly need to get informed.
    And as far as I know, no government anywhere in this country is proposing any legislation that would take away your ability to participate in workshops to make schools more effective. The issue is collective bargaining.
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  8. #88
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    Re: Are You Voting Next Tuesday?

    Quote Originally Posted by theplaydrive View Post
    Those administrators are lazy.
    Maybe in some cases. But I'm more inclined to place the blame on the people who lobbied for all those hoops that administrators need to jump through in the first place, rather than the administrators who won't jump through them. In some places it takes YEARS to get rid of a bad teacher, if it's possible at all.

    My father was a principal in a union school for 25 years and fired the tenured teachers he needed to fire. Even so, the process can be reformed in places where it needs to reformed and some teachers' unions have agreed to reform where they and everyone else thinks it's necessary (like NYC).
    Everywhere that the system has been reformed, the unions have had to be dragged kicking and screaming. Or at best, after they grudgingly make halfhearted concessions to avoid more fullthroated reform.

    That's true, but if an older teacher is actually a bad teacher, then they can be fired. I'm actually quite sure the this is the unofficial policy of a lot of places including private businesses. You don't usually fire the veterans who know what they're doing first.
    I don't know of any evidence that teachers improve over time, with the exception of the first couple years when they don't really know what they're doing yet. Some of the worst teachers I ever had were the 30+ year veterans.

    But I haven't see any studies that such problems are big enough to actually have an impact on education. Can you provide me with something that says 'bad' teachers have any more of an impact on problems in the education system than 'bad' car salesman had on the collapse of the auto industry? Because to me they seem to be at the same level. Annoying, but certainly not worthy of being significant.
    http://edpro.stanford.edu/Hanushek/a...onometrica.pdf

    Can you explain why this is the fault of teachers' unions?
    Many talented people simply don't want to go into the teaching profession because of the low pay and lack of meritocracy, which are both caused by the teachers unions. Of course there are exceptions, but in general, the type of person who pursues a career in a field with relatively low pay/recognition in exchange for total job security, is a different type of person than someone who pursues a career in a field with higher pay / more recognition but less job security. It's not that teachers are underpaid in this country, it's just that the teachers unions have lobbied to get more of their payments in something other than their salary...job security, long summers off, etc. That mindset is fundamentally not going to attract lots of talented people to the profession, which is why teachers tend to come from the bottom third of college classes in this country.

    Which overly strict rules? And can you substantiate the claim that they 'completely eschew the concept of merit'? Considering that they support teacher certification, tenure only after a strict evaluation process and pay tied to advanced education, I think merit is something that they favor actually.
    There is no evidence that having advanced degrees makes a person a better teacher.

    I know that teachers do not want their pay and standing to be tied to standardized testing and grades since student performance on both are tied to many factors outside of the teachers' control. And considering that this is the plan most 'merit pay' advocates propose, I can't say that their objection to it is irrational. Do you? Do you think it makes sense to tie a teacher's evaluation and pay to the performance of student who may be affected by personal problems, poorly written tests and poor educational policies that teachers cannot control?
    Standardized testing should be one of several components used to evaluate teachers, yes. Because the problems of individual students will average out in the aggregate. And I'm not talking about comparing a teacher of poor students to a teacher of wealthy suburban students, but we can compare similar cohorts to see which teachers are more effective. This, however, should be just one of several factors used to evaluate teachers. Others would include evaluations by the school administrators, and evaluations by other educators who ideally wouldn't know the teacher in question.

    I'm somewhat cautious about the idea of "merit pay." I'm not sure what, if any, effect it would actually have on the performance of individual teachers, although it's worth trying. The more important merit-based decision would be for those on the bottom end: the truly awful teachers who need to be fired.

    Can you substantiate the implication that 'mediocrity' is a staple among teachers? If so, can you that this 'mediocrity' is due to teachers unions rather than politicians or other sources?
    It's due to politicians inasmuch as they listen to the teachers unions. But when you have a powerful lobby that prefers to get paid in job security and time off, what kinds of people do you think are going to be attracted to it?

    And can you substantiate the implication that most teachers are directly responsible for students who perform poorly?
    I said no such thing.
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  9. #89
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    Re: Are You Voting Next Tuesday?

    Quote Originally Posted by haymarket View Post
    It sounds like you are simply anti-union and do not like the basic idea of unions and how they function under the law.

    playdrive has dealt very effectively with the rest of your comments.
    I've already made the clear distinction that I do not support the existence of government employee unions.
    Not unions in general.

    I don't agree with how unions can force an employer to negotiate with them but I don't think that they should be outright removed, except for government employee unions.
    Not really, it is unethical in the entirety to have government employee unions.
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  10. #90
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    Re: Are You Voting Next Tuesday?

    Quote Originally Posted by Harry Guerrilla View Post
    I've already made the clear distinction that I do not support the existence of government employee unions.
    Not unions in general.

    I don't agree with how unions can force an employer to negotiate with them but I don't think that they should be outright removed, except for government employee unions.
    Not really, it is unethical in the entirety to have government employee unions.
    Every American has a constitutional right to collectively bargain. Without unions, the US middle class would never have existed, and without unions, it will likely all but disappear in our lifetimes. Yes, there are problems. A union is a source of power and money and attracts sociopaths just as any other such position does.

    But we didn't stop voting for members of Congress after discovering some of them have "issues". I dun see anyone in the US agitating for a monarchy to replace our form of government, unless you count the Koch Brothers.

    Just because a system has flaws does not mean it should be wholesale discarded.

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