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January 31, 2015

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Fight over collective bargaining looming in Legislature

Brian Sandoval

Brian Sandoval

Lynn Warne

Lynn Warne

John Oceguera

John Oceguera

Sun Coverage

As his fellow Republican governors have declared public-employee unions to be public enemy No. 1 and moved to strip their collective bargaining rights, Gov. Brian Sandoval has avoided a similar fight. He has focused instead on the state’s flatlining economy, beleaguered budget and struggling schools.

But Sandoval’s newly unveiled education reform package might bring the collective bargaining fight to him.

Under the legislation, teachers unions couldn’t bargain for higher pay based on educational attainment or years of service. They would also be limited in bargaining on the processes for layoffs, other workforce reductions and termination.

Sandoval’s senior adviser, Dale Erquiaga, said the governor’s intent isn’t to eliminate collective bargaining. But he acknowledged some of those rights could end up as collateral damage in Sandoval’s efforts to end teacher tenure and seniority.

“This isn’t about opening up (Nevada Revised Statute) 288,” Erquiaga said, referring to the statute on collective bargaining. “Our perspective is the policy outcome of ending teacher tenure and first in, last out.”

The Nevada State Education Association sees Sandoval’s bill, Assembly Bill 555, as an end run around its collective bargaining rights.

“We certainly didn’t take the governor at his word that he was not going to mess with collective bargaining,” association President Lynn Warne said. “He said he wasn’t going to move to eliminate collective bargaining, but there’s lots of mischief to be made within the statute of 288. And he’s picked on two very important issues to us.”

Sandoval’s proposal comes as legislators across the political spectrum are proposing bills to make it easier to get rid of bad teachers — widely seen as key to improving schools. Democrats and Republicans are, however, at odds on whether that requires an end to collective bargaining.

Democratic lawmakers, led by Assembly Speaker John Oceguera of Las Vegas, want to end teacher tenure by extending their probationary period and requiring any teacher with more than one unsatisfactory evaluation to be placed on probation. Oceguera’s bill would not change the collective bargaining statutes.

(Teachers in Nevada technically aren’t granted tenure, but they cannot be fired “at will” beyond a one- to two-year probationary period, which both conservative and liberal lawmakers argue is de facto tenure.)

Conservatives argue it’s impossible to end teacher tenure without eliminating rights to collectively bargain on dismissal procedures. Under state law, collectively bargained contracts supersede state law on teachers’ probationary and post-probationary status.

“If you want to end teacher tenure, you kind of have to go after collective bargaining,” state Sen. James Settelmeyer, R-Minden, said.

Sandoval’s bill would repeal the statutes allowing local teacher contracts to supersede state-mandated dismissal procedures.

But Oceguera said that isn’t necessary. Existing law is strong enough to prevent an arbitrator from siding with the teachers union on a contract that goes beyond the policies his bill seeks to establish. School districts wouldn’t agree to such provisions anyway, he said.

“I just think it’s highly unlikely that the districts would say, ‘Oh, yeah, we’ll give on that,’ ” Oceguera said.

Yet, conservatives note that’s what districts have done in some cases.

State law requires districts to share the cost of employee retirement contributions. But unions have negotiated terms forcing districts to bear 100 percent of that cost — another practice Sandoval seeks to end.

In another example, Washoe County negotiated some dismissal procedures that go beyond state law.

State law also didn’t grant the ability to include “evergreen clauses” in teacher union contracts, allows terms of an existing contract to continue in the event a new contract is not bargained. District officials have complained the clause allows terms bargained when district coffers were flush to continue during the budget crisis. But district officials allowed those evergreen clauses to be created through bargaining.

Democrats are walking a fine line in pushing education reforms that give districts more power to terminate teachers. But there are signs Democrats are willing to at least listen to Sandoval’s ideas even if they will likely anger one of the party’s powerful constituencies — teachers.

“If we piss off the teachers, then we are a defunct party,” Assemblyman Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, said. “They are our backbone.”

Segerblom dismissed Sandoval’s proposal, saying he’s confident it will fall victim to the Democratic majorities in both houses. “Good thing it isn’t going anywhere,” he said.

But Assemblywoman Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, chairwoman of the Ways and Means Committee where Sandoval’s bill would be heard, said leadership is open to “reasonable suggestions.”

She promised what will likely be a “day and a half long” hearing on all of the provisions in Sandoval’s bill.

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  1. Let's get real, and be honest about it...

    The interest here is NOT to improve Education.
    Rather, it's again about POWER.

    "WE will tell YOU what you can make, what your benefits will be, whether you deserve a pay increase, IF EVER, and under which circumstances you may complain."

    Nevadans, once again, are BEING PLAYED.
    Brian Sandoval will indeed smile at your face, all the while he's thinking how he'll be stabbing you in the back.

    Smoke & Mirrors Sandoval.
    Playing his shell game with the budget, robbing Peter to pay Paul, pretending to not increase taxes while stealing every nickel he can find, and lying about breaking unions and contracts.

    Yeah. He'll "fix" Nevada, all right.
    The Fix is definitely in.

  2. Notice that Sandoval does nothing about a 15% hike in gasoline prices over a few months. Executives raise their own income by monopolistic practices all the time - an "Executive Tax". No problem there, it's unions that are a problem with Sandy.

  3. All of this public employee and education cost is a smoke screen being done so that the Republicants can push through more tax loopholes for the wealthy. I have said it before and I will say it again, Beware of a smiling Republicant, his goal is to shaft the working people.

  4. "The Nevada State Education Association sees Sandoval's bill, Assembly Bill 555, as an end run around its collective bargaining rights."

    That's exactly what it is. They believe by masking it as something else, they can get away with it.

    Governor Sandoval and the rest of the Republicans here in Nevada are emboldened by what is happening in the Midwest. And they see a chance to do it here. The arrogance has surfaced.

    The simple fact of the matter is that they want power. They can't get anywhere on a national scale, so they are encouraged by money from the corporations to attack on a State level. People can paint it however they want, but it is ultimately nothing but a power grab.

    Governor Sandoval has raped the school system in Nevada repeatedly. But that is not enough for him. He wants Nevada to have the worst education system in the nation. The way he thinks, we need to be ranked 52nd (below both Guam and Puerto Rico).

    The money and power to be attained from it are more important than teachers. Teachers are expendable in the Republican hell they envision. Also, the middle class to them is crap, and not a treasure. They only are interested in them for votes. Then after they get elected, they are no longer constituents. In their eyes, they change status and become victims.

    The Great Republican Party Over Reach Policy has now infected Nevada.

    Get ready for the political backlash, Governor Sandoval.

    You won't survive it.

    Trust me.

  5. "Alaska senator: Not enough info to justify oil tax cut"

    "Leading Alaska senators are showing virtually no interest in advancing Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell's bill to cut oil production taxes before the Legislature adjourns next month."

    "...there's a lack of available information on how tax credits are being used and a lag in audits of oil companies' tax forms dating to 2006 -- when the state was under a different tax regime than it is today."


    Republican Governors around the country are busy increasing Corporate Executive's wealth by taking it from the wage earner. (Less Jobs, not more) Oil Executives in particular love monopolies and increase their incomes by just raising the collective price of gas.

    Wealth as an institution does not need a Democracy, just power. Power comes from money, monopolies, low to no taxes, and an inexpensive source of uneducated military recruits to 'fight for their country'.

    By gutting the public schools, ignorant children will be looking for a job - and get a uniform instead. They were once known as the Hitlerjugend.

  6. Teacher tenure and seniority protection hurt the quality of education by protecting bad teachers. Seniority also protects teachers by age rather than skill and sense we pay older teachers more (regardless of their skill) we end up firing the cheaper, younger and generally more eager students.

    Worst of all since it is so difficult to fire teachers bad teachers are shuffled off to schools where parents are the least likely to complain - yup, low-income schools. And since seniority protects old teachers and fires young teachers guess which schools end up losing more of their teachers during budget cuts - yup, low income schools.

    In the end seniority and tenure end up hurting students and the quality of education.

  7. Paying teachers to age is very strange. The data shows teachers don't improve their teaching skills after the first 5 years. It makes no sense to pay more and more for doing the same job with no additional responsibilities. They pay increases should be done in the first 5 years with bonuses based on performance and additional bonuses for top teachers to train other teachers and/or teach more students.

    Getting extra degrees is equally useless as the data also shows having a MA degree is not correlated with higher student achievement.

    Both of these policies lead us to spend millions of dollars in ways that are completely ineffective at producing good quality education.

  8. The B.S. M.O...
    Theft by Swindle.


    (one of many on the subject)

    See Table 1 on page 11. Most studies show teacher experience can have a positive but very small relationship (as I stated earlier teachers do improve during the first 5 years) but degrees have no statistical correlation with student achievement.

    Meanwhile, both teacher experience and degree have a very strong statistical correlation with pay.

  10. Even the left-of-center Center for American Progress is on board with reforming tenure and seniority rules

    In fact, they find that Nevada keeps 99.4 percent of its teachers while just 0.6 percent of teachers are fired for bad behavior or awful teaching...

  11. Very eloquently said, keystone6.

    I've said it before and I'll say it again: This is nothing but a power grab by the Republicans here in Nevada with the sole intention to accumulate money at the expense of quality teachers and degrading Nevada education in order to give it to the filthy rich and the corporations they serve.

    Governor Sandoval's entire purpose is to search for another thirty-two corporate tax breaks for them. In the process, he hopes to amass fame and power.

    I have a neighbor who is a school teacher. She is a good teacher and is close to retirement.

    Because of all the propaganda put out by the Republican mouth machine against teachers here in Nevada, she daily has to explain herself to parents. Because they are being fear mongered that every teacher in Nevada is crap and the system is broken and their beloved child is being victimized by them.

    On top of that, her class has increased with students, making it even harder for her to teach, to work with the ones that need a little bit more help.

    She has expended her own personal funds to attain teaching aids to help her teach. Because the paltry amount provided during the year is simply not enough.

    She told me the whole infrastructure of schools in Nevada is now falling apart because of the ruin and devastation that the Republican mouth machine is doing. She has school text books that are falling apart, held together with duct tape.


    Besides that, there are other horror stories she tells me about. And I am well as concerned for the future of Nevada.

    This is the kind of stuff that don't make it in the news. Because Governor Sandoval has access to a microphone and mass media, so his crap is thrown out there continually and people are starting to believe his stupidity. And the learned experts are not what they say they are. They are just trying to pound out talking points in order to get their way.

    The simple fact of the matter is that the quality of education in Nevada is going the wrong way. Governor Sandoval and his crony Republicans are doing their damndest to ensure it continues a slide downward down a very steep and tall cliff.

    Wake up, people.

    I've said it before and I'll say it again: If this continues, no one will win. At the cost of providing sub-par education to Nevada, the cost savings will end up being lost in the future when Nevada has to build bigger prisons.

    The way we're going, this horrible leadership in this State wants to incarcerate the youth of Nevada, not educate them. If not incarcerate them, they want them to go away. Go somewhere else.

    But even as I type this, the Republican propaganda hell will continue. Governor Sandoval dare not sit in a room with teachers and find out the real deal. Because it don't fit in with his scorched desert plans for Nevada.

  12. Hey, Pat...
    How are things out at the OK Coral?
    You learnin' all about Wranglin' & Wrustlin' and all that? That's nice!
    Your propaganda techniques are EXACTLY THE SAME as when ya worked fer that big Kahuna Cowboy, "Bat" Adelson.
    Well, carry on with yer lessons, and remember, Pat;

    It isn't what we don't know that gives us trouble, it's what we know that ain't so.
    Will Rogers

  13. Whew!

  14. Keystone, you've misunderstood the quote (completely). The quote states that a) everyone recognizes that teacher quality is important but b) the data suggests we can't really predict what characteristics make a teacher great.

    It says nothing about teachers being unable to affect student achievement or student achievement existing in some sort of vacuum.

    Btw, that report was from 2006 and the author notes "While more studies have appeared since then, they are small in numbers relative to the stock in 1994, and they show no discernibly different pattern of results from those in Table 1."

    basically there haven't been a lot of studies since 1994 because there is now a strong consensus among academic researchers on the relationship between teacher experience and learning and additional education and learning.

    I also provided links to 3 others you seemed to have ignored those.

    As for teacher certification, much research ALSO shows that to be a bogus measure for teacher quality. In fact, I can turn to the Brookings Instution, a left-of-center think tank that our very own Brian Greenspun is a board member. Their research shows no statistically significant difference between certified and uncertified teachers with student achievement.

    See figure 1 on page 8.

  15. Fan you misunderstand. The evidence suggests teachers reach their peak teaching ability and no longer improve after the first 5 years. That doesn't mean we fire them, that would be silly.

    It means we shouldn't have step increases past year 5. It makes NO SENSE to pay people extra money for doing the same job.

    I'm suggesting shorting the pay scale from 14 years to 5 with bonuses paid out to top tier teachers to train other teachers and to take on more students.

  16. Keystone,

    Btw, the certified teacher that was brought in the following year to fill the history teaching spot was later arrested and sent to jail for possessing child pornography. Yup, good job teacher certification!

  17. Public employees should not be allowed to collectively bargain. They are then trying to stick it to the taxpayers. The state isn't like a business that can make more money to pay for increased salaries. The state can afford what it can afford and shouldn't have to be be held over a barrel by public unions. We are your bosses and when you try to get more money out of the state, you're trying to get more money out of me. And I don't think you're worth it. So eliminate collective bargaining for wages and limit it to benefits. That's the only way our state and nation can survive. BTW, federal employees are not permitted to form a union. And further BTW, liberal god Franklin Roosevelt didn't believe public unions were a good idea.

  18. Nevada has between 17 and 19 students per teacher. The reason why class sizes are so much larger than that is because we give teachers duty periods where they may or may not do anything related to student learning.

    That said, Carpe Diem charter school in Yuma Arizona has 52 students per teacher yet scores above the 90th percentile in mathematics...

  19. Keystone, you're still misreading the quote.

    The quote says

    1) Teacher quality is important but
    2) We can't link any specific characteristics to determine what makes a quality teacher.

    It says nothing about measuring teacher quality against student achievement which in fact we can do. We can determine who is an effective teacher and who is not an effective teacher. We can do it with statistical analysis and we can do through evaluations of classroom performance. As it turns out both teachers, parents and principals are pretty darn good at identifying bad teachers through observation alone.

    One of the statistical measures we can use is called "value added assessment" it measures the individual student's achievement growth from year to year. We can control for many variations like income, learning disability and demographic to zero in on which teachers add the most value and which teachers are so bad that students leave the year knowing less than they did before. That latter group may make up 5 to 10 percent of the current teaching workforce.

  20. LIAR!

  21. Finally, as far as "hacking" the teacher training program (a terrible attempt at a personal attack, seriously, can you actually try making a valid point?) the big secret is that the average American teacher today comes from the bottom third of college graduates and that the schools of education are usually regarded by people in and out of academia as jokes. Even teachers regard the training they receive and certification hoops they have to jump through as a joke.

    I'm not advocating the end of ed schools, just pointing out that 4 years of ed school makes a teacher no better off than 4 weeks of training under Teach for America or emergency certification of degree holding individuals.

    In the end there is a very large and growing consensus that 1) tenure must be eliminated 2) seniority must be eliminated 3) certification requirements should be highly modified to attract non ed school professional adults or eliminated and 4) value added assessment of teachers should be instituted.

  22. "Nevada has between 17 and 19 students per teacher."

    Good one, Pat!!!

    How many of you have "between 17 & 19" in your class?

  23. "the schools of education are usually regarded by people in and out of academia as jokes. Even teachers regard the training they receive and certification hoops they have to jump through as a joke."

    Give us some examples of these vague "people in & out of academia"... and some of the schools you refer to.

    Please, also quote some REAL TEACHERS that consider everything a "joke"...

    Thanks, Pat!

    I LOVE IT when you make sh*&t up as you go along!
    It makes your arguments so much more INNERESTING!

  24. Gmag,

    We have about 19 students per teacher. That is a statistical fact

    This is based on fall enrollment and not daily average attendance.

    As I mentioned, the reason why class sizes are larger is because not all teachers are teaching all day long. Aside from your lunch break a teacher also has 1 to 2 "duty" periods in which they do no teaching at all. This time is usually non-education related administration tasks (or baby sitting in the cafeteria or watching the school buses) or a planning period (which veteran teachers don't always use because they're recycling plans).

  25. That's a load of BUNK.
    Again, let's ASK SOME TEACHERS, Pat.
    Will they LIE?
    I'll start...
    My wife teaches a primary grade, has 31 urchins this year, and she & her cohorts have been told to expect another 4 or so, on average, next year.

    She gets one "prep" period per school day.
    9 times out of 10, that "prep" period is taken up by meetings with parents, other teachers, administrators, etc.

    She's been teaching for over 20 years, and like MANY of her fellow teachers, I can assure you, Pat, are not "recycling" plans, if for no other reason than the curriculum, student populations, and many other variables change year-to-year.

    You are too funny for words, with your cute "educational expertise", Pat!!!

  26. Editorial at Newsweek

    Dale Ballou and Michael Podgursky covered the issue in their work "Teacher Pay and Teacher Quality"

  27. I hope your wife doesn't call them urchins...geez.

    The data doesn't lie Gmag, hate it all you want but being an angry old man won't change the facts.

  28. Yes, all of your "data", and all existing "data", has been proven true and unbiased.

    Another knee slapper, Pat!
    You are TRULY A WRANGLER, sir!

  29. The National Center for Education Statistics is run by the U.S. Department of Education

  30. When I was a pharmacist I made 6 figures for doing less work (more hours) than now when I am a teacher.

    I changed because i hated the stress/boredom of being in the Pharmacy.

    Teaching is much harder work than Pharmacy is in my experience.

    My opinion being that the hours in a year are less teachers should top out around 75,000.

    Who should get 75,000? Well there is NO PROVEN method for deciding who is good and who is bad.

    Testing/Merit Pay does NOT work according to every study out there. Experience does not indicate that either past about 7 years.

    Extra training (not necessarily degrees) DOES matter. The training needs to be more focused on what actually happens inside a classroom though.

    NOW THE ANSWER IS!!!! the certification process should be much tougher. Then there will be less people available for the positions, and therefore would deserve more money. The public then would not look so poorly upon those in the profession.

    So the government should simply toughen the standards to become a teacher. Make the tests more difficult, like the tests I had to take to become a pharmacist. Then people will look at teachers and say "hes a teacher; he must be a pretty smart guy."


  31. roseannroseannadanna...

    Do you know a Sharron Angle?

  32. This BLS survey of teacher work hours suggests the average teacher works around 40 hours per week, even accounting for working from home after hours and on the weekend.

    Of course the average teacher works about 190 days a year compared to 230-240 or so for other professions. Of course the vacation time is part of the attraction to teaching.

  33. Dooley, actually there is a proven way to determine who is good and who is bad, it is called value-added assessment. Mix it with evaluations by peers and principals (who are given more latitude in getting rid of bad teachers and thus have an incentive to write more truthful reviews). Doing a rolling three-year average allows you to smooth out any bumps in what is already a fairly accurate method for measuring teacher effectiveness.

    As for merit pay there are several problems with existing studies. Most merit pay programs are not substantial bonuses usually less than 5%. Research has shown that bonuses greater than 10 percent can have some effect.

    There is also the problem that the bonuses are tacked on to an existing system which already has trouble identifying and recruiting great teachers.

    If we opened up the teaching profession by eliminating the useless and meaningless certification requirements would a bonus system attract higher quality teachers because they know they can earn top pay within 1-5 years instead of having to weight 14 and spend thousands of dollars earning extra degrees which won't make them improve? I'd suspect a bonus system would have an impact in that case.

  34. Pat's "misinformation" campaign gets more & more OUTRAGEOUS!

    It REALLY HURT when you couldn't hack it as a teacher, din't it, Pat?
    Is THAT what this is all about? Some kind of personal vendetta, Pat?

  35. Pat Gibbons is WRONG. There is NO current way to assess teachers. None. Zero. They don't work. They aren't accurate.

    Principal evaluations? The principals never go into classrooms. The evaluation means the teacher who coaches the team no one wants, or takes student government that no one wants, is a GREAT teacher and gets the most merit pay. It will have nothing to do with who is a good teacher between the bells, just more office politics and more power to principals who will abuse it (and probably take kick backs.)

    My idea (which would never happen) is peer to peer evaluations.

    Take teachers out of their classrooms for a semester on a rolling basis. Send them to different teacher's (different schools, even different counties, people they do not know) classrooms for 2 weeks at a time (about the time of 1 teaching unit). Take anonymous scoring of the teacher. 10 reviews per year. Throw out the top 2 and bottom 2 and average the rest. The score will be made and then you can have an idea who is good or bad. If you want to base 25% of the salary on this "merit" then so be it. If you want to say 3 years straight of bad reviews and no improvement then they lose their jobs, then so be it.

    This would increase teaching jobs and lower money wasted on standardized testing (which are INeffective and a waste of cash). I would think this idea would be acceptable to teachers and also less money spent overall considering the cost of testing.

  36. 1) Harvard did a study last year and found that there is no proof that degrees do not increase teacher effectiveness. Why? because not one (NOT ONE) single study evaluated those teachers BEFORE they got the added degree. If those teachers were less effective prior, then the degree did improve effectiveness.

    2) Your stats on teacher improvement or lack there of, after 5 years was also proven false. The study found it was actually 10 years, and teachers with 3 years were actually MORE effective than 1st year teachers.

    3)Merit pay has not one single study to show it is effective. In fact, a recent study showed the same exact improvement in classes in the same school and grades when only half the staff was to get merit pay.

    4) The Harvard study also showed marked correlation between teacher professional development prior to 10 years and student improvement. They also came to the conclusion that "it's easier to pick a good teacher, than it is to train a new one.)

    5)I am a 15 year CCSD teacher, MA and beginning my EdD. Yes, my degrees have improved my teacher. Proof is in my 85-90% profiency testing each year in a Title I school since earning my Masters.

    6) Collective bargining doesn't protect bad teachers, administrations that don't document teachers with deficiencies prevent them from being fired. Just because there isn't an "at will" firing policy in place, doesn't mean poor teachers aren't let go. They are. I know some who have been, and one that will be.

    7) Please, continue posting your studies. I can find 2-3 to discount each of yours.

    Here's one

  37. gmag: 4th grade 35 students. Even if people who don't have a class go back into the classroom, we will still have 35 students and possibly even go up to 37/38. It will not change, and it has nothing to do with prep periods.

    3rd grade is supposed to have 22, they have 27. Nothing will change with them either, unless they increase.

    We are not staffed at 17-19 students per teacher. We are staffed at 30 per kinder; 21 per 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade; 34 per 4th and 5th grade teacher. BUT then they only pay to staff the school at 97% of that.

  38. Doolish is actually wrong. Administration is required to be in classrooms for a minimum of 30 minutes in one sitting so many times a year prior to evaluations. They are required to do random unannounced walk throughs, unannounced observations, and planned obervations. Each one is documented and there is a meeting after each one.

    That is policy and mandated, and it is what happens, or the administrators get written up.

    Teachers are less effective in classes in the beginning of the year when they do not know the children. In order ot be effective it has been proven time and time again, there needs to be a system of discipline, strictness, consistancy and raport with the students and parents. That wouldn't happen in your senario. Your idea of evaluation would hurt the children and their education.

    There are peer to peer evaluations. My grade level meets once a week and goes over common assessments and how our students did and how those who "stunk" can improve their lesson and improve. We take notes and I submit to administration. I have mtgs with my grade level teachers on their effectiveness and how they can improve their students understanding. Whether they listen and change, is on them however. But yes, I do report back to administration and document how help was offered and explained. (notice, that goes above and beyond what I'm required to do, and weekly meetings are above and beyone contract as well.)

    Trust me, we know who the bad teachers are, and we want them out just as much as everyone else. If the documentation is there, they can be let go- regardless of the union. The union is on the side of good teachers too. They just want to make sure the firing isn't a personal vendetta (which has happened many times in the past).

  39. Melissa does not work in a real life school. Administrators who know you have a clue, basically leave you alone. Which is fine. Whether or not they are supposed to by policy is irrelevant, I do not know any teachers who will turn in an admin for NOT bothering them enough.

    The only effective observations are continual. Meaning if you are not there all class for a number of days or even weeks in a row, you really do not know what is going on in there.

    There are no peer t peer evaluations which are meaningful towards an evaluation. That is fact.

    The idea we know who the bad teachers are is also silly. "Bad" to me might be "good" to you. I have a lot of "colleagues" i think are terrible (shows movies every day) but the principal LOVES. Probably because they take the clubs no one wants like student government. hmmmmmm how do we solve that one?

  40. In the low income, Title 1 school neighborhoods, teachers face a population that very few opt to teach. This has a transient population, second languages spoken and English is being learned, and many of these children do not have the American culturation needed to understand many of the items presented on standardized tests. Most teachers who work and teach at such schools are NOT typically "bad" teachers, they are dedicated individuals who could be classified as humanitarians who care deeply about equally serving our diverse population. I take great exception to Patrick Gibbons comments here.

    When it becomes a reality that teachers get merit pay, there will be a flight of teachers from these schools. They do an amazing job with what they have and the students assigned to them (remember, they don't get to pick and choose their students!). When teachers get a group of students that have been low functioning since entering school at age 5, and these students develop extremely slowly, in part, due to their parents NOT SPEAKING ENGLISH IN THE HOME to assist language development in reading (which is the basis of learning), who is the bad one here? We are dealing with living human beings, with their own dynamics, and to expect equal levels of development and ability is insane. The analogy might be as planting a seed (depending on the kind and quality) and expecting the same/equal results, time after time. Students are unique individuals, and every crumb or bite of learning that is mastered is celebrated daily by both teacher and student.

    The majority of folks working in the educational industry, do so because they CARE to make a difference in a life, not because they will get rich, and retire living in sublime wealth passively watching the world turn.

    What is needed is enforced immigration, reformed education, and a restructured taxation system. The mining and casino/resort/tourism industries have reigned and dictated policies for decades now, raping the people in the State of Nevada, and even cheaply taking Nevada's natural resources, at the cost of Nevada's citizens. If we addressed THIS, we would NOT be having educational cut conversations right now.

  41. Melissa (part 1),

    In regards to the Harvard study you cited lets review it (I've met Dr. Peterson, in fact I invited him to Vegas and hosted him at a education conference last year, I wish you could have attended). As I will demonstrate the Peterson study you've cited will support none of the assertions you've made above. (source:

    On teacher training - teacher certification doesn't make teachers better.

    "Teacher classroom performance is correlated neither with the type of certification a teacher has earned, nor with the acquisition of an advanced degree, nor with the selectivity of the university a teacher attended.." (page 2) This point is repeated.

    "Prior econometric research has generally failed to detect positive impacts of pre-service teacher preparation programs on student learning. In their review of the literature, Murnane and Steele (2007, p. 24) conclude that "in general, empirical studies find little or no difference in average effectiveness between those teachers who are traditionally licensed and those who enter the profession through alternative routes." In recent studies of high quality, Clotfelter et al. (2006) found no benefits from certification in North Carolina and Kane et al. (2006) found no differences in the effectiveness of certified, non-certified, Teach for America (TFA), or teachers recruited through a special New York City initiative." (page 5)

    on advanced degrees, most research shows holding an advanced degree does not make teachers more effective,

    "However, little or no impact of an advanced degree on student learning has been detected (Clotfelter et al. 2006; Coleman et al. 1966; Goldhaber 2002; Hanushek 1986; Harris and Sass 2008; Rivkin et al. 2005). However, most studies do not estimate the impact of the acquisition of an advanced degree by comparing individual teacher performances before and after the year the degree was acquired. Harris and Sass (2008) do provide such estimations but must rely on a data from a five-year time period and find inconsistent results." (page 11)

    In service training is correlated with a decline in teacher effectiveness after a decade of teaching "We also show that the value of additional on-the-job training decays after several years of teaching and turns negative after a decade or more of teaching, particularly when measured by low-stakes tests." (page 4 - this does not say that teacher quality improves for the first decade).

  42. (part 2),

    In fact, he cites research that shows teachers improve in the first 3 years only,

    "It is conventionally believed that on-the-job teacher training is effective, because students learn more from teachers with additional years of experience, especially in the first two or three years (for a review of the early literature, see Rockoff 2004, p. 2). But as Figlio (1997) points out, many estimates of effectiveness returns to on-the-job training (years of teaching experience) may be upwardly biased because the estimations do not account for the probable attrition from the teaching force of less effective teachers (Clotfelter et al. 2006; Rivkin et al. 2005). Even
    these studies find few positive benefits from experience beyond the initial years, however. Rivkin et al. (2005, p. 449) conclude that "there is little evidence that improvements continue after the first three years" of teaching, Clotfelter et al. (2006, p. 28) conclude that the "benefit [to fifth graders in North Carolina] from having a highly experienced teacher is approximately one tenth of a standard deviation on reading and math test scores," but admit that "roughly half of this return occurs for the first one or two years of teaching experience." (page 7)

    As for my five year number, its for reading,

    "To avoid selection bias, Rockoff (2004) estimated effectiveness returns to experience on math computation, math concepts, vocabulary and reading comprehension in two New Jersey school districts after conditioning on teacher fixed effects. He found marginal returns to the initial years of experience--overall, the linear effect varies between insignificant and .07 standard deviations, depending on the subject--but little in the way of additional returns after five years, except, perhaps, in reading comprehension. He did not estimate experience effects beyond eleven years of teaching." (page 7)

    Peterson's own conclusions from this report:

    "Masters' degrees appear to have little impact, though it may be argued that one university, the University of South Florida, has a slightly better program for middle school teachers than does the University of Florida. However, its impact on elementary school teachers may be negative, relative to the University of Florida. More generally, we find little difference in the apparent effectiveness of attending a more selective university or, indeed, in having majored in any specific Florida university teacher training program." (page 26)

    Value of on-the-job training declines after 10 years

    "We also find that the on-the-job training that teachers receive with each year of experience on the job to be fairly modest and that it typically turns downward at some point after ten years of education." (page 26)

    In the end Dr. Peterson makes the same recommendations I do - teacher recruitment and compensation needs an overhaul because how we hire teachers and pay them is not related to the data on teacher quality and effectiveness.

  43. PS,

    I appreciate you looking for data to back up your assertions. That is far more than most people on here will do. Most are happy to lay in a personal attack without even attempting to debunk someone else's points with relevant facts. Thanks for that.

  44. Improv,

    I didn't say value added assessment was perfect, I said it was proven. That is, it can be used to accurately identify great teachers and not so great teachers.

    It isn't a perfect system, no system would be perfect but it is far better than doing nothing.

    To smooth out some of those imperfections some have suggested using a rolling 3 year average for value added data instead of one year. In that way a teacher who scores poorly 3 years in a row we can be fairly certain he or she isn't a good teacher. And since value added assessment itself looks at the individual student performance compared to their own performance it takes into account the variance in learning ability among children so it is far more fair than looking at raw scores.