View Poll Results: Are Teacher Unions a good thing?

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  • Yes, entirely.

    7 10.29%
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    19 27.94%
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    10 14.71%
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    29 42.65%
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Thread: Are Teacher Unions a good thing?

  1. #271
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    Re: Are Teacher Unions a good thing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rassales View Post
    I would agree with this--although the last item needs some modification. What needs changing is differentiated funding of schools based on location. If property taxes in a large area were pooled and the money distributed to schools on a per student basis, it would help. At least it would help create better parity among schools--which is admittedly only one of many goals articulated in the thread.
    Interesting point.

    However, it would seem that anything less than a nation-wide pool of this sort would still cause some disparity.

    As even state-wide would feel the affect of lower property values state to state.

    But as a temporary bandage job, it has some merit.

    However, any kind of funding method relies on the prosperity of the area which funding is drawn from.
    Example: If you live in a high-income area, income tax funding for schools would cause the same issues as property tax.
    Example: If you live in a high-income area, sales tax funding for schools would cause the same issues as property tax. Because higher-income persons almost invariably purchase more, as well.

    So a pool method might be the best in any case.
    Nation-wide, however, would produce far too massive a bureaucracy.
    So state-wide or smaller would be best.

    On a side note, is there not already a half-assed version of this idea in place?
    As in, federal or state grants to boost a low-income school district?
    At least, I think this is the case in some school districts, here in Pennsylvania.
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    Re: Are Teacher Unions a good thing?

    Quote Originally Posted by The Mark View Post
    On a side note, is there not already a half-assed version of this idea in place?
    As in, federal or state grants to boost a low-income school district?
    At least, I think this is the case in some school districts, here in Pennsylvania.
    I'm not sure about Pennsylvania. I grew up there in the 70's (suburban Pittsburgh) and I remember that some arrangement was made for funding Philadelphia schools more on the state's dime than other areas, so you may be thinking of that.

    In the Allegheny County of my youth, there were almost 50 school districts, each serving a distinct, relatively small community. Some, like Upper Saint Clair, Mount Lebanon, North Allegheny, North Hills, and other wealthy communities were very well funded (I lived on one of those) while other districts (Pittsburgh Public Schools, East Liberty, McKeesport) had considerably less. I remember one teacher suggesting that, if PA were involved in forced busing of students, they'd divide the county like a pie, putting one portion of the City of Pittsburgh in each slice. I remember being appalled, but then I grew up.

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    Re: Are Teacher Unions a good thing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rassales View Post
    I'm not sure about Pennsylvania. I grew up there in the 70's (suburban Pittsburgh) and I remember that some arrangement was made for funding Philadelphia schools more on the state's dime than other areas, so you may be thinking of that.

    In the Allegheny County of my youth, there were almost 50 school districts, each serving a distinct, relatively small community. Some, like Upper Saint Clair, Mount Lebanon, North Allegheny, North Hills, and other wealthy communities were very well funded (I lived on one of those) while other districts (Pittsburgh Public Schools, East Liberty, McKeesport) had considerably less. I remember one teacher suggesting that, if PA were involved in forced busing of students, they'd divide the county like a pie, putting one portion of the City of Pittsburgh in each slice. I remember being appalled, but then I grew up.
    Problem is, even with a pool, schools in an area with higher income families would have better facilities.
    The reason being, that some of those higher income persons, seeing the quality of the school facilities, would donate funds to build better, outside of any funds extracted from them by the government in that area.
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    Re: Are Teacher Unions a good thing?

    Quote Originally Posted by The Mark View Post
    Problem is, even with a pool, schools in an area with higher income families would have better facilities.
    The reason being, that some of those higher income persons, seeing the quality of the school facilities, would donate funds to build better, outside of any funds extracted from them by the government in that area.
    That's true, and it happens that PTAs in wealthy districts do a lot for schools to improve things like art and music and field trips. Capital investments like you're speaking of are more rare, and would continue to be rare because they are so expensive. Schools are usually built with bonds, after all.

    Mostly people just move into more expensive homes whose value is partly supported by the reputation of the schools. That's why the "pool" idea is unlike to gain traction--those who are already invested in "good neighborhoods" don't want to lose the the economic advantage they've invested in. More cynically, they also don't want to support the schools of working class people in depressed areas.
    Last edited by Rassales; 02-06-10 at 12:14 AM.

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    Re: Are Teacher Unions a good thing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lightdemon View Post
    I understand that. There still can be any number of reasons that entire classes of students are doing better or worse: New computer lab for instance, will only benefit the type of teachers who will make use of it. Those who are traditional will be at an disadvantage. Class sizes being reduced for disabled and English learner students, will impact classes are that are mainstreaming and those who are not mainstreaming will be at a disadvantage. Classes are not ALL the same like how you describe. How do you figure in all of these confounding variables? Dozens of schools in LA in the last year are going through increased class sizes, expanding campuses, teacher lay offs, charter schools taking the brightest students from the public schools, etc etc, how are you suppose to calculate these factors into that formula?

    There are too many things going on for you to isolate teachers as THE variable. There are MANY variables and it does not effect all students, it affects different groups of students. The mere fact that your foundation is just a mere correlation, all the confounding variables destroys your entire premise.



    You missed my point. Please refer to my earlier example in this thread where I talk about about my colleague who was waging a war with the administration. The administration can give a teacher 6 periods of hell, make every class horrible, all it takes is 5 or more problem students. These problem students can drive the entire class down in terms of performance, structure, and discipline. This is a tactic that the administration use to "discipline" teachers who do not cooperate and who are untouchable because of the union. Under the merit pay system, the teacher would suffer a dip in their salary because s/he was standing up to the administration (who was then implementing NCLB). Many teachers who opposed NCLB would have been silenced or driven out of their careers under the merit pay system. How well would that have turned out?




    I guess we'll just disagree here.



    Lots of confounding variables in a school year. Class make-up changes, you get new students, you lose a few students, some classes you only take 1 semester. How will I know whether or not I should make adjustments? How will I know that my students will be tested on the material that I teach them? I only get one chance to prove myself every year? If I get bad luck one year and get crappy classes, I'll have to wait 1 whole year to fix it?

    If not every quarter, at least once a semester like final exams.
    The student population would follow a [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Normal_probability_distribution"]normal distribution[/ame]. This means you could compare and contrast teacher averages relatively easily; you could also eliminate students who fall several standard deviations outside the mean from the data set; that way, the statistical outliers wouldn't skew the results.

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    Re: Are Teacher Unions a good thing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dittohead not! View Post
    Nonsense.

    The union can't use regular dues to block a proposition, or for any other campaign sort of purpose. They collect a separate, voluntary fee for that purpose. Members are encouraged to pay into that fund, but not required to do so in order to remain a member. When there is pending legislation that might affect schools, the union asks for money to lobby and campaign. Most members donate voluntarily.

    Most of the stuff being used to lambaste unions is plucked out of thin air, made up of whole cloth, and then passed on as fact. What happened to the post above saying that teachers were being paid to do nothing since they can't be fired? I never did see any back up to that one. Maybe I missed it.
    So, any thoughts on the schools being forced into collective bargaining with the unions, or being obligated to participate in impasse procedures should they fail to reach an agreement?

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    Re: Are Teacher Unions a good thing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ethereal View Post
    The student population would follow a normal distribution. This means you could compare and contrast teacher averages relatively easily; you could also eliminate students who fall several standard deviations outside the mean from the data set; that way, the statistical outliers wouldn't skew the results.
    Are you accounting for the fact that nearly all schools track students according to their perceived ability levels?

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    Re: Are Teacher Unions a good thing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rassales View Post
    Are you accounting for the fact that nearly all schools track students according to their perceived ability levels?
    I don't follow.

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    Re: Are Teacher Unions a good thing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ethereal View Post
    I don't follow.
    I'm saying that not all teachers teach a cross section of the student population--they teach students tracked by ability level. And ability levels are a) subjective, and b) not distributed evenly among the distribution curve. There isn't one g that will account for abilities in all areas. And those "ability" levels are often significantly influenced by socioeconomic background, family culture regarding learning, etc. And some teachers are better with some sorts of students than with others.

    I'm just saying its more complicated than you may believe.

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    Re: Are Teacher Unions a good thing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lightdemon View Post
    I understand that. There still can be any number of reasons that entire classes of students are doing better or worse: New computer lab for instance, will only benefit the type of teachers who will make use of it. Those who are traditional will be at an disadvantage.
    That's fair game. If new computer labs actually help kids learn better, then the teachers who make use of those facilities ARE better teachers than those who don't.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lightdemon
    Class sizes being reduced for disabled and English learner students, will impact classes are that are mainstreaming and those who are not mainstreaming will be at a disadvantage.
    Most schools assign students to classes randomly, in roughly equal proportions (after taking into account abilities of course). It's rare that you'll find a school that has a history class with 40 students and another history class that's exactly the same with 10 students.

    But if for some reason they did, then you are correct that it would skew the results for that particular class. But if it was just one class out of the day and the same pattern persisted for the teacher's OTHER classes, then the problem is the teacher and not the class size.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lightdemon
    Classes are not ALL the same like how you describe. How do you figure in all of these confounding variables? Dozens of schools in LA in the last year are going through increased class sizes, expanding campuses, teacher lay offs, charter schools taking the brightest students from the public schools, etc etc, how are you suppose to calculate these factors into that formula?
    Personally I'm very excited for the next 5 years, because I think we'll finally get some answers to long standing education questions, like how much things like smaller classes and new computer labs actually improve education. We've only had the information technology to measure it for a couple years now, so as it becomes more widespread we'll finally be able to measure the impact of those things precisely, and take them into account when measuring teacher performance.

    As for some of those other things (e.g. increased class sizes, charter schools taking best students), they should affect many classes within a school equally. The idea of measuring teacher performance isn't to compare teachers BETWEEN schools (although I suspect it could be used for that as well). It's to compare teachers WITHIN a school. That way the administration will have a standardized measurement of performance when it's making its salary/hiring/layoff decisions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lightdemon
    There are too many things going on for you to isolate teachers as THE variable. There are MANY variables and it does not effect all students, it affects different groups of students. The mere fact that your foundation is just a mere correlation, all the confounding variables destroys your entire premise.
    Let's say Mr. Young teaches 10th grade US history. Let's say that Ms. Arnold also teaches 10th grade US history at the same school. And let's say that there is no advanced or remedial section for this specific class, so all the students are randomly assigned to one of the classes.

    All variables other than the teacher will affect the student populations in roughly equal proportions, since they were randomly drawn from the same population.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lightdemon
    You missed my point. Please refer to my earlier example in this thread where I talk about about my colleague who was waging a war with the administration. The administration can give a teacher 6 periods of hell, make every class horrible, all it takes is 5 or more problem students.
    I've never heard of an administrator handpicking the problem students to give to a certain teacher (unless, of course, that teacher is specifically in charge of remedial/problem students). But needless to say, I don't think they should be able to do that. Students should be randomly assigned to whatever classes they're taking (after factoring in their ability) to prevent that sort of thing from happening.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lightdemon
    These problem students can drive the entire class down in terms of performance, structure, and discipline. This is a tactic that the administration use to "discipline" teachers who do not cooperate and who are untouchable because of the union.
    All the more reason that there shouldn't BE teachers who are untouchable because of the union.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lightdemon
    Under the merit pay system, the teacher would suffer a dip in their salary because s/he was standing up to the administration (who was then implementing NCLB). Many teachers who opposed NCLB would have been silenced or driven out of their careers under the merit pay system. How well would that have turned out?
    All of those other variables are measurable. So Mrs. Jones thinks she got screwed by the administration in her class schedule? We can measure the average student performance in her class, versus the average performance of those SAME students last year. We can measure the average student performance in her class, versus the average performance of every other teacher in her school last year. We can compare Mrs. Jones' relative performance to HER relative performance last year, to see if it's just an anomaly and she did indeed get screwed somehow.

    Maybe she thinks her entire class was unteachable because of Joe The Class Clown. But guess what? We can now track the average performance of everyone in that class, with everyone in Joe's class LAST year.

    Nearly ALL of these variables are trackable. I'm willing to give the teacher a little leeway; anyone can have a bad year. But if the same problem persists year after year, then it is clearly the teacher's fault and not some vindictive administrator's.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lightdemon
    Lots of confounding variables in a school year. Class make-up changes, you get new students, you lose a few students, some classes you only take 1 semester. How will I know whether or not I should make adjustments?
    The purpose of the test is to track teacher and student performance, not to train the teacher to make adjustments. If your results in the first year are disappointing, you can make the adjustments in your second year.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lightdemon
    How will I know that my students will be tested on the material that I teach them?
    If you teach them everything they need to know it shouldn't be a problem. Most teachers don't test students on every single thing they mention in class anyway.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lightdemon
    I only get one chance to prove myself every year? If I get bad luck one year and get crappy classes, I'll have to wait 1 whole year to fix it?
    Yep. I would argue that's considerably better than no feedback whatsoever.
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