View Poll Results: Are Teacher Unions a good thing?

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  • Yes, entirely.

    7 10.29%
  • Yes, partially

    19 27.94%
  • No, partially

    10 14.71%
  • No, entirely

    29 42.65%
  • Other.

    3 4.41%
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Thread: Are Teacher Unions a good thing?

  1. #281
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    Re: Are Teacher Unions a good thing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rassales View Post
    I'm saying that not all teachers teach a cross section of the student population...
    It depends on how you define "population". Within the US? Within the State? Within the region? The county? The district? The school?

    The more specific you get, the more relevant the "population" becomes.

    ...they teach students tracked by ability level.
    I'm sorry, but this doesn't make any sense. What does this mean?

    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.
    You're just trying to make it complicated. Statistical analysis has a number of ways to correct for outliers and disparities between demographics. It's a simple matter of holding things constant and observing averages. Math is not nearly as limited as you make it out to be.
    Last edited by Ethereal; 02-06-10 at 12:54 AM.

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    Re: Are Teacher Unions a good thing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ethereal View Post
    It depends on how you define "population". Within the US? Within the State? Within the region? The county? The district? The school?

    The more specific you get, the more relevant the "population" becomes.
    Okay--not sure I get this, but okay.
    I'm sorry, but this doesn't make any sense. What does this mean?
    A class of students for any given teachers is not a cross section of a population in terms of distribution. It's skewed by several, often conflicting factors. There are very few classrooms where the performance of students matches the performance of a wider population. And the groupings are not consistent over time, either, since students switch among classes and ability groupings.

    If you're asking what an "ability level" is, that's the school's tracking of students by expected levels of performance. At the high school level, that means at least three tracks, a wide "middle" group, a higher honors/AP/college prep group, and a "lower track." The level to which they are challenged varies greatly. Were you unaware of this?
    You're just trying to make it complicated. Statistical analysis has a number of ways to correct for outliers and disparities between demographics. It's a simple matter of holding things constant and observing averages. Math is not nearly as limited as you make it out to be.
    I'm not suggesting that it is, but you would at least have to track student performance longitudinally for several years and not just examine a cross section of a population's one-year performance. That's because "holding things constant" is very hard to do when students are selected into specific classrooms via any number of (often subjective) variables.

  3. #283
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    Re: Are Teacher Unions a good thing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kandahar View Post
    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.
    I disagree, the traditional teachers are not bad teachers, they just don't get to play on the same level as teachers who have integrated their classroom with technology. This is unfair, especially to the older teachers who remain aversive to increasing technology in the classroom.

    And what happens when the labs are overbooked and not all teachers get to benefit from it? What about favoritism, like I explained earlier? Disciplining teachers by the administrators can effectively reduce their pay, while having nothing to do with their expertise in pedagogy and instead in political battles.

    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.
    I don't know about most schools, but the schools that I've worked with in the past have a tendency to allow students to change teachers early in the school year. Counselors also place students in specific classes, especially students who are English Learners and those who are in special ed. They usually are in what's called a "cohort." These cohorts are not all the same, because they come from different ethnic backgrounds.

    The classroom is not normally distributed as you might think.

    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.
    Smaller class sizes that range from 20-25 students seem to be the optimum number of students according to some of the studies that I've read. Also, any class that is under than 15 students, the students will begin to not benefit from what's been refereed to as the "role model" students (IRC).

    Integrating technology into the classroom has been a mix bag, and I think it has to do with implementation. Many teachers are not familiar with the software, not computer literate, or are simply comfortable with their own system that's been working for years for them. It should phase out though, as more and more technology gets integrated into the infrastructure.

    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.
    Which brings me to another point. This forces teachers to work against other teachers. There would be little incentive to work with other teachers. All the teachers would want to avoid being in the negative standard deviations. Teachers may be reluctant to share their ideas for fear of another teacher getting a better score than them.

    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.
    This also reminds me of another point that I should bring up. In this scenario, 1 teacher will outperform the other unless they get identical scores (or whatever it is that we're using as a measure). Does this mean every year there will be teachers taking a pay cut?

    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.
    Counselors have a lot of say in which classes they believe their students may benefit most. Theoretically that's a very good thing for the students. Counselors can place students where teachers may be a good match for them. That's how it should work. But it gets abused.


    All the more reason that there shouldn't BE teachers who are untouchable because of the union.
    I disagree. Although I may not agree with the union's political platform sometimes, I am able to voice my opposition to the administration and still able to keep my job. Some of the things that administrators try to enforce is ridiculous because what they all really care about are the test scores, and the API index and such. They don't care about the quality of the education that the students receive.

    It's not like us teachers take this for granted, and those that do, we know that they're assholes. They're usually the ones that spend their lunch inside their classroom alone, because even other teachers don't want to be around. But others who use the union to battle the administration politically and rightly so, I will stand behind. I firmly believe that teachers are the experts when it comes to education. The administrators do not teach, they manage students and staff. They should not have such a significant power over a teachers classroom, how we should teach, how we should manage our students, etc.

    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.
    Class make-up makes a huge difference. If you have more than 5 problem students, chances are that they will be working together to throw you off. They are more difficult to handle when they are grouped together, it seems they have some sort of solidarity with each other. They don't just bring down the classes average because THEY will score low, but because they are causing trouble, using up the teachers time and energy, the other students in that class will not perform as well either.

    And if Mrs. Jones have been fighting the administration for 7 years, what comparison can you make that will be fair? Do you compare to her average of 8 years ago when she wasn't getting screwed?

    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.
    And just to clarify, the point I'm bringing up isn't about any single student's score. It's about bad students affecting the entire classroom with their trouble making.

    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.
    The problem is that in that one year I've done so many different things, I don't know what to adjust. You get what I'm saying?

    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.
    How will I know what to teach, if I'm not sure what's going to be on that test? You see, I can teach my students how to investigate history, how to read historiographic essays, how to use the APA format and such, but if it doesn't show up on the test, does it still measure my ability to teach?

    In my history class, memorization of facts is not stressed, I highly discourage it. Unfortunately, the annual exams are all about memorization of facts. But as a history teacher, I teach my students about the relationship between culture, economic, and political spheres. If they can understand that, they will be able to decipher history. A history class isn't suppose to be about remembering what peice of legislation what passed on what year, or what was the name of the President who did such and such. These stupid facts can always be looked up and is useless knowledge, which will be forgotten anyway by the student in the next 3 years or so.

    If what I teach them is not being tested, how in the world will that assess my ability to teach? (it's another reason why I hate those standardized tests). Not only does it fail to assess me, but also it will fail to assess my students.
    Quote Originally Posted by UtahBill View Post
    Let the public school provide the basics, you as the parent can do the fine tuning.

  4. #284
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    Re: Are Teacher Unions a good thing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cephus View Post
    Don't let the facts mess with your wishful thinking or anything.

    In 2005, the California Teacher's Association raised the rates of all members by $180, specifically to build a $54 million dollar war chest to fight against Schwarzenegger's proposed educational cuts. The teachers had absolutely no say whatsoever in either the increase, nor in what it was used for. In fact, many teachers spoke out to the media against both the increase and it's usage.
    Funds for that purpose would have to have come from NEA PAC, not from member dues.

    You can find almost anything on the anti union blogs.
    "Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud... [he's] playing the American public for suckers." Mitt Romney

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    fyi Re: Are Teacher Unions a good thing?

    Just one more reason for a separation of school and state.

  6. #286
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    Re: Are Teacher Unions a good thing?

    It's up to teachers if they want to be represented by unions.

    Personally I don't believe in unions, but it's not my call to tell others how to freely associate.

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    Re: Are Teacher Unions a good thing?

    Quote Originally Posted by ronpaulvoter View Post
    Just one more reason for a separation of school and state.
    so, in your view, it is not in the state's interest to have an educated citizenry?
    we are negotiating about dividing a pizza and in the meantime israel is eating it
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    Re: Are Teacher Unions a good thing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rassales View Post
    Teachers in places that have no teacher unions are treated rather badly--badly enough that some talented teachers don't want to work in such places. Those who do are often tied to spouses whose jobs keep them there.
    You mean SOME teachers in places that have no teacher's union are treated rather badly - right?

  9. #289
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    Re: Are Teacher Unions a good thing?

    Quote Originally Posted by justabubba View Post
    so, in your view, it is not in the state's interest to have an educated citizenry?
    Actually, I think his point was that it IS in the state's interest to have an educated citizenry.

    But he doesn't like what the state is interested in teaching them.
    Education.

    Sometimes I think we're alone. Sometimes I think we're not. In either case, the thought is staggering. ~ R. Buckminster Fuller

  10. #290
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    Re: Are Teacher Unions a good thing?

    Quote Originally Posted by The Mark View Post
    Actually, I think his point was that it IS in the state's interest to have an educated citizenry.

    But he doesn't like what the state is interested in teaching them.
    please point out the part of his statement which evidences the state actually seeks an educated citizenry when it abdicates its role in educating that citizenry
    we are negotiating about dividing a pizza and in the meantime israel is eating it
    once you're over the hill you begin to pick up speed

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