Monday, August 06, 2012

The bottomless pit of teachers' union demands

Union apologists fail to quantify their “fully funded education” demand.

Teachers unions and their apologists constantly talk about the pressing need for a “fully funded” education system. We at have yet to see anyone actually quantify that argument and clearly define what “fully funded” means.

In 2006, New Jersey school districts spent an average of $14,630 per student while the national average was around $9,138. Does that mean New Jersey’s system is “fully funded”? Considering the fact that the statewide graduation rate is 83 percent, it seems the Garden State’s government education system has some problems to address. Of course the educrats would reflexively say New Jersey schools need even more money to get the job done.

Such is the case in Chicago. There, a union shill group, the “Chicago Teacher Solidarity Committee,” has been circulating a pledge form to gather names and contact information for union sympathizers who buy into the “money equals quality education” argument.

The language on the that the CTSC was “first proposed by the Occupy Chicago Labor Outreach,” responded to my email:

“It's difficult to quantify ‘fully compensated’ and ‘fully funded’ because there are a lot of variables in play - work hours, class size, curriculum quality, job security, etc. We are advocating that the budget and salary negotiations be considered with all of those things as priorities, rather than with charter schools and standardized testing and other private profit making endeavors as priorities.”
She then referred us to a document on the Chicago Teachers Union website.

So, in fact, she was really saying, “I don’t know, it’s not on my sheet of talking points, go ask the union.”

It’s obvious there is no amount of money that will fix the problems of government education. If there was, the problems would have been fixed long ago. The United States is among the world leaders in public school investment, and the returns have been disappointing for decades.

But citizens still fall into the trap of wanting a “fully funded” education system, whatever that means.

And “fully compensated” teachers? We think that’s already been accomplished in Chicago.

CBS2 reports the average Chicago teacher salary is $76,000 a year, and that doesn’t include benefits. The school district said that made Chicago’s teachers the highest paid in any city in the nation. The CTU disputed that, saying they’re just the second highest – behind New York City. Big whoop.

But who cares about comparing teachers to teachers? How about comparing them to private sector employees, who work 12 months a year, compared to nine months in a typical government school. The median household income in Chicago is $50,897, according to

It seems as though Chicago’s teachers have it pretty good – likely better than Stavroula Harissis. So what exactly is a “fully compensated” teacher? One with a bigger pension and lower deductibles and co-pays for health insurance? Bigger sick leave payouts? Who knows?

But the talking points are working like a charm, especially with average citizens and an overly-compliant Chicago media that never presses the CTU and its allies to back up their absurd claims.


Shake up sport so more state pupils can win: Olympics chief blasts 'unacceptably' high number of privately educated Team GB medallists

They could start by DOING more sport in Comprehensive schools.  Many of them do very little

The high proportion of privately-educated Team GB medallists is 'unacceptable', the chairman of the British Olympic Association said yesterday.

Just 7 per cent of the population go to independent schools - but more than half of Britain's golds in the 2008 Beijing Games were won by former private school pupils.

So far, Team GB has nine gold medallists in the 2012 Games. Four were privately educated, and a fifth went to school in Germany.

BOA chief Lord Moynihan, himself a former public schoolboy, called for an overhaul of school sport policy to provide more chances for state pupils.  'It's one of the worst statistics in British sport,' he claimed.  'It is wholly unacceptable that over 50 per cent of our medallists in Beijing came from the private sector.

'It tells you that 50 per cent of the medals came from 7 per cent of the population. 'There is so much talent out there in the 93 per cent that should be identified and developed. That has got to be a priority for future sports policy.  'I have spoken about it many times and I will continue to speak about it until there is not breath left in me.'

The Conservative peer continued: 'The balance of professional football is that around 7 per cent of players come from the private sector, which is an absolute mirror image of society.

'That should be the case in every single sport, and that should be the priority in each and every sport, and that is something that every government should strive for.'

At the previous Olympics, a third of Team GB went to independent schools.  They included multiple gold medallist Sir Chris Hoy, who attended George Watson's College in Edinburgh, and every equestrian medallist.

Non-state schools can afford to devote more time to sport. They usually have better facilities and often boast top-class coaches.

The discrepancy is especially noticeable in sports whose basic entry costs are high, such as equestrian events and sailing.

Rowing has already taken action to address the imbalance, with Mo Sbihi, who won bronze in the men's eight on Wednesday, among the beneficiaries.  The Start programme, launched more than a decade ago, has encouraged rowing coaches to visit comprehensive schools and scout teenagers with the necessary physique to become elite rowers. As a result, half of Team GB's rowers at the London Games are from state schools.

When asked if too many medals were being won by former public school pupils, David Cameron said: 'We need to spend on state school sport and we are spending a billion pounds over the next five years.

'We need to make sure people have those opportunities. Frankly, one of the best things will be the Olympics and the legacy and the inspiration for young people to take part.'

Tory MP Charlotte Leslie  said the statistics were 'really, really worrying'.  She told BBC Radio 4's PM  programme that state schools were often reluctant to promote competition.

'There's a massive problem with sports and facilities in our schools, but it's also a much deeper problem,' she said.  'I wonder if it's a problem to do with culture. The reason the private sector does well in education is that it's very unapologetic about competition - there are winners and there are losers - and this is certainly not the case for all state schools.'


Australia:  Back to school for Queensland teachers who get Ds

UNDER-PERFORMING teachers will be identified and given extra training and development under a new national framework signed off by Education Ministers yesterday.

School Education Minister Peter Garrett said the Australian Teacher Performance and Development Framework, which entitles teachers to annual performance reviews, would be rolled out in Queensland schools from next year.

While Queensland teachers currently undergo performance reviews, not all schools carry them out annually.

"For the first time, teachers will be entitled to a yearly review of their progress, and will receive ongoing support and training throughout their career to help them become even better teachers," Mr Garrett said.

"Once implemented, the new agreement signed off today means that schools will offer their teachers feedback on their performance, based on evidence including classroom observation, parental and student feedback and student results.

"Teachers will have to set goals for the year and will be helped to reach their goals. Those who are found to be under-performing or who need extra support will be given access to more training and development opportunities."

The new framework will assess teachers against the National Professional Standards for Teachers developed by the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL).

Under the standards teachers will be able to apply to become a highly accomplished or lead teacher and receive a one-off bonus in 2014, based on their status in 2013.

Ministers also endorsed the Australian Charter for the Professional Learning of Teachers and School Leaders.

AITSL chair Anthony Mackay said the endorsement reinforced that developing teachers was the best way to improve student learning.

Education Ministers also agreed to continue working on improving the regulation and oversight of non-Government schools to ensure public funds are spent appropriately and a national curriculum for the National Trade Cadetships scheme Years 11 and 12.


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