Your public school has self-esteem issues

Chris O’Donnell responds to a self-congratulatory little essay, “I Am Your Public School.” Reform K-12 gets in some licks too. Oh, and Kimberly does too.

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  1. Somebody Fisk that article, please!!!

  2. John from OK says:

    Sorry, I just read O’Donnell and he did Fisk that essay. Someone Fisk it again, please!!!!!

  3. Reading the piece, I thought Frosty Troy was a Harvard-bound fifteen year old girl who was mad as hell about seeing her school principal mom come home depressed every night with all the crap she’s getting, and decided to write to the paper to tell Oklahomans not to be so gosh-darn mean and ungrateful.

    In which light, the whining tone and the cheesy format were understandable. Now, I find it’s an oldish guy – that is creepy. And you can almost hear the Hammond organ…

  4. John from OK:

    First you requested someone Fisk the article . . . turns out O’Donnell already did. Then you said “Someone Fisk it again!” and it turns out Kimberly already did.

    How’s that for service! 🙂

  5. John Smith,

    (jaw drops) I thought the name “Frosty Troy” was a pseudonym. Maybe even a joke. But no. Thanks for the link.

    Methinks Frosty needs a meltdown.

  6. No, not only is Frosty Troy very real; before clicking the link I correctly guessed who wrote this just based on the title and the URL. He edits (or used to edit) The Oklahoma Observer, a steadfastly sanctimonious-lefty paper going very much against the grain in the Sooner state. Having left the state eight years ago, I actually kind of miss his overwrought prose. Bless his heart, if nothing else he’s dead certain he’s right.

  7. jeff wright says:

    Priceless. After a tough day, I needed a good laugh. The only sobering thought is that in addition to Frosty—now there’s a name—most “educators” seem to actually believe such drivel. They’re on a mission, you know.

  8. I’m so sick and tired of one complaint against the public school teachers: the nine month workyear. Would someone please tell me the high-paying jobs that teachers get every summer? I’m sure there must be hundreds of thousands of jobs that pay a teacher’s salary and only need the employees for June through August. And if they don’t exist, why hasn’t anyone told these critics of teacher salaries?

    I know of one job: teaching summer school. The other options seem to be attending summer school to keep the teacher credentials up to date (which is what many teachers do).

    Until all the parents demand a year-round education (and it’s happened here and there), this traditional schedule will be the norm. I haven’t heard the call for teachers to work fifty weeks a year yet, has anyone else?

    As for the rest of the critiques of the article, I can’t disagree.

  9. I don’t work at all during the summer, Jon. I spend half days during August preparing for the new year. I take classes because it has been decided that teachers need about 30 years of education. I attend curriculum committee stuff, workshops, etc. And I do an awful lot of reading and writing. I think that’s more than fair as a tradeoff for the salary. I prefer not to teach summer school.

    Some districts around here did go full year for a couple of years. It was discontinued because a) expense — you not only have to pay teachers, but all the support staff plus cooling and b) the teachers got very burned out and they started losing good, seasoned teachers to other districts with a traditional year. They took big paycuts to do this.

  10. jeff wright says:

    > I’m so sick and tired of one complaint against the public school teachers: the nine month workyear.

    It’s understood that teachers aren’t going to make professional-level money during the summer. The reason for the complaints from the great unwashed is the continual teacher griping about not being paid salaries commensurate with other degreed professionals—on an annualized basis. Serious blind spot on the part of teachers: if you work 1,400 hours per year, you shouldn’t expect to make what people working 2,000 hours per year make. Starting teachers here in California make on the order of $28-30 per hour. Damned good money for a novice.

    The teachers’ problem is that they DON’T work a full year. Rita makes a good point: we can’t afford to pay teachers a year-round salary. And burnout is a serious issue. Imagine being with those little darlings year-round. IMO, we’re stuck with the 9-month school year.

    Didn’t the teachers understand the rules of the game before they signed up?

  11. Rita and Jeff,

    Thanks for answering my question, slightly disengenuous as it was.

  12. I, for one, never moan about my salary. As Jeff stated, “I knew what I was doing when I went in.” (And that included knowing I’d get summers essentially off!)

    But teachers frequently forget that, even though their salaries may not be great, usually their benefits are hard to beat. I know mine are.

  13. My district no longer pays for our benefits, and many CA districts have rescinded or are reducing health care payouts. This is not a complaint, just pointing out the changing facts.

  14. Suze: Ouch. Good thing I said “usually,” I guess. Here in Delaware our bennies are first-rate.

  15. Oops, forgot to ask — the state doesn’t pitch in for any bennies, Suze? The vast majority of ours are from the state.

  16. I’m sorry but isn’t $28-$30K the same amount of money whether it’s paid over 9, 10 or 12 months?

    Teachers get a yearly salary–they’re not paid hourly or monthly. For the same money that various other professions make with a two week vacation, teachers make the same, with, at minimum, a two month vacation.

    If some who teach are stupid enough to spend their money in such a way as to leave themselves impoverished over that hiatus, then perhaps teaching our children is something they shouldn’t be doing.

  17. We have the option of getting paid just for the school year, or spreading it out for the entire year.

  18. Aw, kwitcherbeefin’ about teacher salaries. Every time I hear those jabs about vacations and teacher pay and how easy teachers have it, I can’t help thinking the speaker is jealous.

    Sounds like a lotta Venus envy to me. 😉

  19. Dave,

    The state (or is it district? I’m not sure) matches what we put into retirement, so that’s a great perk. But many of us in our district fork over 500+ dollars a month for health and dental care. We kissed those goodbye a few years back.

  20. Our benefits aren’t great either — really bare bones. The district foots the bill for everything, not the state. Our district’s property taxes are already very high; I think it does the best it can by us and other public employees. I’m lucky my husband’s employer is much better about benefits.

    Actually, my salary isn’t yearly. I am paid according to a contract for so many days. I work more days than stipulated (planning, grading), but what’s in the contract is really what I’m being paid for.

  21. jeff wright says:

    > I’m sorry but isn’t $28-$30K the same amount of money whether it’s paid over 9, 10 or 12 months?

    Jack, you misread my post. It wasn’t $28-30 thousand, but $28-30 per HOUR. I came up with an hourly rate by finding the annual wage and then dividing by 1,400 hours of labor. In fact, beginning teachers here in San Jose make high-30s to low-40s. So far as I know, salaries for full-time teachers aren’t calculated on an hourly basis.

    FWIW, I made about $32 per hour teaching adult ed on a part-time basis and that was calculated by the hour. As a substitute a couple of years ago, I was making $175 per day for a 6-hour day. That works out to about $29 per hour.

  22. WOW. Jeff, the typical sub pay around here is $75/day.

  23. $75/day? Ours make less than $60!

  24. “For the same money that various other professions make with a two week vacation, teachers make the same, with, at minimum, a two month vacation.”

    Teachers in most areas make quite a lot less than the average for other professions, that is doctors, lawyers and engineers. OTOH,

    1. Pre-med, pre-law, and engineering schools accept very few students out of the bottom half of the incoming class.

    2. My engineering classes shrunk by more than half in the first term. This was by design. Medical and law programs similarly are designed to run the underperformers out. I doubt there is any equivalent to this in education.

    3. Doctors, lawyers, and engineers expect their pay to depend upon their performance. They do have the near-equivalent of unions (quite powerful in the case of the AMA and ABA, ridiculously weak for the engineering associations), but unlike the NEA, these organizations don’t do collective bargaining and don’t oppose measures to tell the better professionals from the worse ones.

    In summary, if teachers want all teachers to have the same salary and allow people who barely had enough ability to make it through a relatively easy college course to join their profession, they shouldn’t complain about a pay-scale appropriate to about the 25th percentile of college graduates.

  25. >Serious blind spot on the part of teachers:
    >if you work 1,400 hours per year, you
    >shouldn’t expect to make what people
    >working 2,000 hours per year make.

    First some facts. Here in Northern Virginia, school ends (for the teaching staff) the last week of June. Teachers return the third week of August. There are 6 and a half hours of “class time” with students daily, but this does not include before and/or after-school work with students, clerical work, communication with parents, attendance at after-school activities and metings, etc. Collective bargaining for public employees is illegal in Virginia. Too many of our beginning teachers (who need the most support) hurry from school to work a shift waiting tables at a local restaurant, in order to make ends meet. Benefits have consistently been reduced and watered-down since the mid 90’s. These are facts.

    In nearby Washington, D.C., a mediocre running back for the Washington Redskins earns $750,000 for 26 weeks of work. Congress is in session just slightly longer (this year January 20 to October 1, with LOTS more holidays than the public schools have); the lowest-paid congressmen make $155,000 (plus free health care and a host of other benefits). I for one don’t have a problem raising the salaries of the public school teachers in my district far above “the 25th percentile of college graduates.”

    The OKEA article cited is laughable. But these bandwagon comments (“most ‘educators’ seem to actually believe such drivel. They’re on a mission, you know.”) are equally ridiculous and self-serving.

    My children’s teachers have been — almost without exception — hard-working, caring, non-whining professionals, who likely would be offended by the OKEA’s drivel, and incensed at the condescending contention that they are “underperformers” who were in “the bottom half of the incoming class” and should have been “run out” of college.

    In my book, “sorry parenting” is also defined as telling your child that his/her teachers are “underperformers”, not worthy of respect.

  26. jeff wright says:

    Hey, Jack, I don’t know what you do for a living (by the tenor of your post, you’re not a teacher), so I don’t know what kind of hours you put in. However, I will say that it’s a rare professional who doesn’t work longer hours than those prescribed by the employer. That’s usually nine, including lunch, so your teacher with a prescribed six-and-a-half-hour day begins his/her “overtme” two-and-a-half hours behind his/her professional counterpart. Why do I say “including lunch?” Well, here in California, a school day is 8:00 to 2:10, with a lunch break. The teacher actually spends five 50-minute periods with kids, with one additional “planning period,” which is designed for the teacher to do grading, lesson planning, clerical work, etc.

    So if the teacher spends an hour or two after school counseling kids or meeting parents or whatever, so what? He’s still out the door by 4:00, while his professional counterpart has another hour on the required work day, with OT yet to come. IMO, the teacher can never catch up in daily hours, unless he/she is hopelessly incompetent.

    Further, your teacher “only” gets six weeks off in the summer as opposed to his/her professional counterpart who gets two, probably three after ten years of employment. Your teacher’s counterpart also doesn’t get two weeks off for free at Christmas time, one week off for spring break, every stinking holiday known to man, and, at least in a couple of districts here in California, ten days “personal time” per year.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m not knocking teachers. I am one. But teachers just don’t put in the hours that other professionals do. Period. Ours is a capitalistic society. Unless they’re jocks, politicans, rock stars or whatever, we pay people by the amount of time invested in their work.

    Teachers are paid fairly by the hour. They just don’t work enough hours.


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