The $663,000 superintendent

It’s a nice job if you can get it. Jose Fernandez, superintendent of a 6,500-student district in California, was paid $633,000 last year, the local CBS station discovered. The Centinela Valley Union High School District also loaned Fernandez more than $900,000 at 2 percent interest over 40 years.

Fernandez runs three high schools, a continuation school and an adult education center.

This is what happens when government officials think no one is watching, writes Jason Bedrick on Jay Greene’s blog.

Naturally, in response to the citizens’ outrage upon discovering that the school board they had elected was squandering their hard-earned money, the Centinela Valley school board officials did the only responsible thing: They hired a media-relations consultant.

Meanwhile, teachers are complaining they have to buy school supplies out of their own pockets.

Eva Moskowitz, who founded the high-performing Success Academy charters in New York City, is controversial because she earns $475,000 a year. (Half her pay comes from private donors.) The 22 Success charters educate 6,700 students.

NYC teachers seek ‘sugar daddies’

New York City teachers are seeking “sugar daddies,” according to a website that matches wealthy men with younger women. Seekingarrangement.com said that 472 city teachers have signed on with the site since 2012, reports the New York Daily News. The average public school teacher on the site is between ages 28 and 33 and asks for $3,000 a month.

New York City teachers start at about $45,000 a year, but can earn up to $104,000 after more than 20 years on the job.

Flexibility, low pay for online adjuncts

Job satisfaction is high for online adjunct instructors at Arizona’s Rio Salado College, despite low pay and no benefits, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education. Flexible work hours and effective training in online teaching are the key.

Online courses provided the flexibility Richard Bradbury needed to complete the first two years of college while working in Afghanistan as a contractor. Once he was “seven or eight questions” in to a timed test in macroeconomics when a rocket attack began. He grabbed his computer, ran to the bunker and finished the test.

Teacher benefits are eroding pay

Teacher Benefits Are Eating Away at Salaries, writes Chad Aldeman on The Quick and the Ed.

Public school districts spent less per student in 2010-11 than the year before, the first decline in nearly four decades, the Public Education Finances Report confirms.

The report also shows that “employee benefits continue to take on a rising share of district expenditures,” writes Aldeman. From 2001 to 2011, public education spending increased 49 percent: Salaries went up 37 percent and benefits 88 percent. “Benefits now eat up more than 20 percent of district budgets, or $2,262 per student, and those numbers are climbing,” he writes.

Unfunded pension and health care promises total $1.38 trillion, Pew estimates.

Top job with 2-year degree: air traffic controller

The top-paying jobs requiring an associate degree are air traffic controller (median pay of $108,040), construction manager ($83,860) and radiation therapist ($74,980). Jobs requiring a two-year degree are growing rapidly, lead by health care jobs.

A skills gap? Try paying more

Manufacturers say they can’t find enough skilled workers for high-tech jobs, a “skills gap” touted by President Obama and challenger Mitt Romney.  So why not raise pay? Employers are offering $10 an hour to start — $15 with an associate degree — to people capable of running multi-million-dollar machinery.

Students at a Tucson community college can “sprint” to a two-year degree in one year. 

LA study: New teachers get worst students

In Los Angeles Unified, new teachers get the weakest students, reports a six-year study by the Strategic Data Project.

The study also found “significant disparities in effectiveness among the district’s elementary and middle school teachers, as measured by students’ standardized test scores,” notes EdSource Today.

Researchers found that the difference between a math teacher in the 75th percentile – those whose students performed better than three quarters of other students – and a teacher in the 25th percentile was the roughly equivalent benefit to a student of having eight additional months of instruction in a calendar year (technically one quarter of a standard deviation).

New teachers hired through Teach for America and the district’s Career Ladder program that helps aides become teachers were more effective in math than other novice teachers by two months for TFA and one month for former aides. However, most TFA teachers leave after two years, while Career Ladder teachers usually stay for the long haul.

Forty-five percent of laid-off teachers ranked in the top two quartiles in effectiveness, the study found. All layoffs are based on seniority.

Of the teachers who were laid off, 45 percent were in the top two quartiles of effective teachers in Los Angeles Unified. Source: SDP Human Capital Diagnostic in the Los Angeles Unified. (Click to enlarge.)
Los Angeles teachers with advanced academic degrees earn more, but are no more effective, the study found. However, “teachers with a National Board Certification outperform other teachers, by roughly two months of additional math instruction and one month of additional ELA instruction over a year.”  Most board-certified teachers in Los Angeles work in high-performing schools.

CC presidents earn $167K — more for minorities

Community college presidents average $167,000 in base pay, but blacks and Hispanics earn more, probably because they’re more likely to run urban campuses, which offer higher pay. Women earn slightly more than men in base pay, slightly less in total compensation.

Chubb: Get serious about high-quality teachers

Today’s teachers “don’t come close to meeting the academic standards being set for students” writes John Chubb in The Best Teachers in the World.

A proficient score on NAEP reading or math translates into at least a 600 on the SAT, or about a 1200 overall. The most generous estimate of the aptitude of new U.S. teachers recently estimated SAT scores of 515 in critical reading (formerly verbal) and 506 in math, or 1021 overall.

Once on the job, teachers rarely are held accountable for their students’ performance, Chubb writes. And “by international standards teachers are not highly compensated in the United States—at least one factor that determines the quality of individuals attracted to a profession and willing to stick with it.” In short, “U.S. education policy is not serious about high-quality teachers.”

The U.S. needs to recruit high achievers to teaching and give them “work that is less menial and more expert, less prescribed and more responsible,” Chubb writes. Using technology to improve productivity would make it possible to raise pay to attract top talent.

 Teaching is not an art, to which some are born and others are not. It is an intellectually demanding endeavor that can and should be guided by research-based practice. Teachers should be trained, both before they take charge of a classroom and thereafter. They should not be trained, however, in the schools of education that predominate today.

Finally, high-quality teaching requires high-quality principals, who “create the working conditions that help determine whether great teachers remain.”

Chubb’s new book is The Best Teachers in the World: Why We Don’t Have Them and How We Could.

 

U.S. can afford smart teachers

High-scoring countries recruit teachers from the top half of students, which means paying them well enough to compete with other careers open to high achievers, writes Marc Tucker in Ed Week. That could be affordable, if it reduces high turnover rates, he argues.

….In the United States, the typical teachers college graduate has left the teaching profession after five years.  The international evidence shows that, if you raise wages, raise standards for entry and improve working conditions, new teachers will stay a lot longer in the profession and the state will save a fortune on teacher training, because of the reduction in teacher turnover.  Maybe you could pay for a big raise for teachers with the savings from reduced turnover.

Teachers’ colleges want to keep standards low, even if it means producing more graduates than there are teaching jobs, writes Tucker. Unions prefer higher standards and higher pay.

Teacher quality is too important to keep ignoring, Tucker argues.

No one believes that high SAT scores or ACT scores, or high high school grade point averages by themselves guarantee that a candidate will be a good teacher. Everyone I know believes that a passion for teaching and an ability to relate well to young people are very important characteristics of good teachers.  But these are not mutually exclusive qualities.  The record shows that countries that recruit their teachers from a pool of people who score high on their college entrance exams, had high grade point averages and also show a passion for teaching and an ability to relate well to students produce higher student achievement across the board than countries that leave out one or more of these qualities when they are recruiting their students.

What’s stopping us? The “costs here come out of one pocket and the savings will be realized in another.”

I’d add:  Teachers won’t make substantially more unless salaries are linked to effectiveness — measured in some credible way — and their jobs’ degree of difficulty.