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Paying for Better Math and Science Teachers

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 7 years ago | from the get-what-you-pay-for dept.

Education 660

Coryoth writes "While California is suffering from critical shortage of mathematics and science teachers, Kentucky is considering two bills that would give explicit financial incentives to math and science students and teachers. The first bill would provide cash incentives to schools to run AP math and science classes, and cash scholarships to students who did well on AP math and science exams. The second bill provides salary bumps for any teachers with degrees in math or science, or who score well in teacher-certification tests in math, chemistry and physics. Is such differentiated pay the right way to attract science graduates who can make much more in industry, or is it simply going to breed discontent among teachers?"

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We have a winner! (4, Insightful)

Stanistani (808333) | more than 7 years ago | (#18241970)

>...or is it simply going to breed discontent among teachers?


Re:We have a winner! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18242070)

>...or is it simply going to breed discontent among teachers?

If I have discontent about how much I'm paid, I either show my employer I am worth more money, or I look for other employment.

Re:We have a winner! (2, Insightful)

Fyre2012 (762907) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242092)

Whereas this will, undoubtedly, create discontent, I personally support anything that gives teachers more money and students more incentive to do better.

Teachers work their asses off and mould students to be the leaders of tomorrow. Isn't that worth more than a pittance?
As someone who is self-taught in computers (now a *nix Systems Admin), I loathed Math in HS because I saw little point to it. I was never explained 'why' math can be interesting, and it hurt me when i wanted to take CS a few years after I graduated.

Anyways, point being: there isn't enough youthful motivation in school, and nor are the teachers compensated for their efforts enough, so huzzah to anything that trys to change that. Even if it does nothing 'practical' or immediate, it at least gains some exposure to the situation.

Re:We have a winner! (5, Insightful)

endianx (1006895) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242330)

I agree with most of your post.

Teachers work their asses off
Some teachers work their asses off. And those teachers deserve to be paid more than the ones that don't. As I understand it, that is not the way it is now and teacher's unions go crazy whenever somebody tries to change it.

Re:We have a winner! (5, Interesting)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242406)

As the husband of a teacher, the problem is the teachers are too overworked with bureaucracy. They are controlled to the point where they can't even make their lesson plans cover all the material required. My wife has to have each kid on a computer with some program for 45 minutes 3 times a week. She has 19 kids and 2 computers, and it's really just not possible without sacrificing other lessons. That, and she has been told she can only spend 30 minutes on Social studies or Science each day. Yes, that's an OR, she can't do both. The rest is reading and math (this is 3rd grade). And don't get me started on the No Child Left Behind bullshit. Teachers are not teachers anymore, they are babysitters.

Re:We have a winner! (5, Insightful)

Jordan Catalano (915885) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242138)

Wait a sec...

or is it simply going to breed discontent among under-qualified teachers?

Fixed it.

Re:We have a winner! (2, Funny)

kjkeefe (581605) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242290)

DING DING DING to the parent!!!

waiting for the other shoe to drop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18242612)

...expecting the vacuum that is the teachers unions, to implode into much noise, rumbling and muttering in...3...2...1...

(They certainly won't stay silent about this)

Could it be much worse? (1)

paranode (671698) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242340)

Honestly, you should see what it takes to become a teacher, it isn't much. Most of the people teaching math and science in schools today majored in "education" where they sit around imitating classroom environments. The teachers are college-level but learning math at the same level as they will teach their students. Often the teachers are just one lesson ahead of these kids up to the point where they've taught it so long they just have it memorized. Even then they are good at one subject but to call them competent in math or science might be a stretch. Then you have the fact that this is really the best you can attract because the pay is rather low. If you actually paid higher for somebody with a specific degree in these fields, or even better a graduate degree, then maybe you'd get higher quality education. You don't see people getting PhDs in Mathematics and teaching 2nd grade, they go off and teach graduate classes at universities. (Sure, some people do that but they have to really love teaching and that is rare). Add in the fact that so many kids are total shitheads who are allowed to run over their teachers and the teachers cannot discipline them (and the parents don't care either) and you haven't got much of an environment for excellence.

Re:We have a winner! (1)

BunnyClaws (753889) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242408)

Would the discontent be justified? Most teachers have some sort of Interdisciplinary Studies degree. I think we can all agree that a degree in IDS does not require the same amount of effort that a degree in Mathematics, Chemistry or Biology require. Teachers with a higher skilled degree teaching a discipline that requires higher skills should get higher pay. If there is a sense of inequity in pay then maybe this would motivate teachers to gravitate towards a higher paying area in teaching.

Re:We have a winner! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18242472)

Many states have tried this only to be crushed by the teacher's unions.

Re:We have a winner! (1)

daeg (828071) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242560)

Why do teachers get blank checks when it comes to discontent? Every other profession has to deal with compensation mismatch in one form or another.

In fact, teachers already do. Teachers that have been teaching longer get paid more. This will empower teachers to, at least to some degree, control what they earn instead of just waiting to grow old. "Hmm. I can learn more and pass a strict exam and be rewarded now, or I can wait 15 years. The choice is mine."

Who is driving? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18241974)

Bear is driving!
How can that be (first post)?

Teacher shortage? (5, Insightful)

bdr529 (1063398) | more than 7 years ago | (#18241992)

If there is, as the article suggests, a "critical shortage of mathematics and science teachers" in CA, and that the "problem with advanced math and science is that those with the education to teach it can make a lot more money not teaching it", then it should be painfully obvious that if you wish to correct this "shortage" of talent, you'll need to up the pay scale of math and science teachers to make it an attractive career choice.

Either that, or enslave post-grads for a few years and FORCE them to work at public school wages. That'll work... Yeah.

Is such differentiated pay the right way to attract science graduates who can make much more in industry, or is it simply going to breed discontent among teachers?"
I hate "IS/OR" questions like this. The answer to both is YES. Pay which is competative with industry will attract science grads to teach. It will also cause "discontent among teachers" who somehow feel that all teachers should earn the same -- regardless of education/demand for certain skillsets.

Queue the teachers union to strike/protest.

Re:Teacher shortage? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18242056)

You don't have to be literate to be an English teacher. However, you have to be comfortable with math to teach math. Yes, the difference between being a teacher and teaching is apples and oranges. However, since the NEA is more concrened with social issues then taking care of their members, the nation is fucked.

Re:Teacher shortage? (3, Informative)

bdr529 (1063398) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242110)

You don't have to be literate to be an English teacher
You know, one of the propoents from the original article makes that very point:

He pointed out that an English teacher doesn't have to be a great writer to teach reading and writing, but that the same is not true of high-end math and science courses.
Well... maybe not the EXACT same point -- but pretty damn close.

Re:Teacher shortage? (0)

corbettw (214229) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242212)

Quick anecdote to illustrate the point: last summer, some friends and I were at a lake having a picnic. At one point, we started playing MadLibs. When my turn came, I was prompted for an adverb. I offered "speedily".

The woman to my left immediately interjected with "That's not a word. And I'm an English teacher, so I know."

All the evidence I need to know that English teachers have zero command of the language.

Re:Teacher shortage? (2, Informative)

Moofie (22272) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242644)

"All the evidence I need to know that English teachers have zero command of the language."

Um, your English skills might be up to snuff, but you need to take a remedial logic class.

Re:Teacher shortage? (1)

qwijibo (101731) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242272)

One doesn't have to be comfortable with math to teach it any more than an english teacher needs to be literate. Teachers have answer books to help them. Unlike english, math is easy for a moron to teach since the answer is either exactly right, or it's wrong. There's no comprehension needed to perform at that level.

Sure, it would be nice if the teachers were interested in their field and had some talent/experience. However, when you pay near the bottom of the scale for educated/certified people, you get what you pay for.

Re:Teacher shortage? (1)

CorSci81 (1007499) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242428)

One doesn't have to be comfortable with math to teach it any more than an english teacher needs to be literate. Teachers have answer books to help them. Unlike english, math is easy for a moron to teach since the answer is either exactly right, or it's wrong. There's no comprehension needed to perform at that level.

If you're talking about teaching simple math, you're probably correct. Most people intuitively understand things like addition and subtraction. The point at where this is no longer valid is when you're talking about teaching advanced math concepts in high school, which is where the real shortage occurs. If you're a math teacher trying to teach calculus you'd better be comfortable with the concept of integration if you want to have any hope of explaining it to a student who has never seen it before. Advanced mathematics isn't as simple as right/wrong, it's teaching a certain way of thinking.

Re:Teacher shortage? (1)

Paulrothrock (685079) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242460)

Unlike english, math is easy for a moron to teach since the answer is either exactly right, or it's wrong.

Lemme guess; you've never helped a niece or nephew with math homework. They're not just grading on the answer now. They're grading on the method by which you achieved that answer. And I don't mean "do it in a way that I can understand," I mean "do it the way I taught it in class regardless of whether it's ass-backwards and over complicated or not"

It's really quite irritating to try to help a kid who understands things like adding and subtracting fractions but who doesn't get the method the teacher used.

Re:Teacher shortage? (1)

Solra Bizna (716281) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242470)

Unlike english, math is easy for a moron to teach since the answer is either exactly right, or it's wrong. There's no comprehension needed to perform at that level.

Maybe for arithmetic. Did you never learn higher math?


Re:Teacher shortage? (2, Insightful)

gilroy (155262) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242486)

One doesn't have to be comfortable with math to teach it any more than an english teacher needs to be literate. Teachers have answer books to help them. Unlike english, math is easy for a moron to teach since the answer is either exactly right, or it's wrong. There's no comprehension needed to perform at that level.

Wow, spoken exactly like someone who's never set foot in a classroom. It would be hard for you to be any more wrong than you are here, buddy. The problem with the teaching profession today is precisely that we have too many under-competent teachers faking their way through subjects they neither understand nor enjoy. I can say this, though: If you think that math is just about getting the "right answer", then I am glad you're not in the classroom. That sort of thinking is damaging.

Re:Teacher shortage? (1)

Stonehand (71085) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242642)

The nature of mathematics and the sciences also makes it far easier for students to figure out when they're being fed bullshit by a teacher who doesn't actually understand the material, or for somebody who really knows what he's doing to get a far more lucrative position outside of education.

Some wiseguy in the class asks you whether or not it's possible to conclusively prove or disprove every possible conjecture given a standard set of postulates and axioms -- the fact that there IS in answer lying in the incompleteness theorem that the wiseguy might well have heard of gives him an easy way to show you up. Mathematics also requires a good grounding in formal logic, not sophistry -- and consulting an answer book while going through even a simple proof like that of Pythagoras's Theorem or that there's an infinite number of prime numbers is pretty poor.

Likewise, a physics teacher is going to be expected to know experimental history and to fluently explain *why* things behave as they are, and again the nature of it makes it easy for students to test you. If you can't remember off the bat what Rutherford tested or how a random lab apparatus works or otherwise answer the inevitable torrent of "why" questions, you're going to flounder.

Conversely, it's going to be far easier to "teach" _Antigone_ or spend time having the class read through _Macbeth_, so long as you do little bit of a brush-up on archaic diction and a little bit of history. After all, there's a damn good chance your students will be just going by the Cliff's Notes, anyway, and the rest are going to have a harder time contradicting you. After all, you're going to be grading their essays through your subjective lens, and they know it.

Re:Teacher shortage? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18242214)

I worked to get my education license and science endorsements when I was in the Navy. But after I finished my student teaching last December, I found that with my experience and education, I could easily earn twice as much in the civilian sector for an equal amount of effort. I took a job as a systems engineer instead. I would love to teach but it doesn't pay the bills! At present it will end up being my retirement profession unless they can pay competitive salaries.

Fixing the system (1)

Prien715 (251944) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242282)

There's a program in my home state of Delaware to provide full/near full scholarships to anyone who goes to college and becomes a teacher, provided they sign a contract saying they'll teach 5 (?) years in the state.

Why not do it for math/science? "No money for college? Just teach some kids for a few years after you're done and we'll foot the bill". Seems like a nice win/win situation.

Re:Teacher shortage? (1)

MyDixieWrecked (548719) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242424)

According to Chuck Shumer, one of the senators of NY, the teacher's union is for this.

The problem is that a person with a science or math degree can get a job that pays 40-80K right out of college, where a teacher's salary starts around 30 and doesn't really go much higher than that.

It's really a problem because it kinda forces the old saying "Those who can, do. those who can't Teach." And, although those with a passion who can may also teach, they may be able to due to the tight salary constraints.

I'm totally for salary bumps for teachers of certain subjects. If a 7th grade social studies teacher is bitter because her math-teaching co-worker is making 25% more than her, then why didn't she study math?

It's a universally accepted practice that people in some sub-fields make more than others. Just because you work in a pharmaceutical lab as a tech doesn't mean you should make the same amount of $ as someone else in your lab who's developing breakthrough techniques.

if it breeds discontent, so be it. (4, Insightful)

yagu (721525) | more than 7 years ago | (#18241994)

This proposed system to get better math and science educators and educations sounds like a meritocracy approach, which may be a foreign concept to some in the heavily union-controlled teacher community. It would seem that something as important as the education of our children the most important goal would be to fund and organize the most effective educational system possible.

While I don't know the intricacies of the teachers' unions, I've had enough discussions with my sister, a teacher, to suspect the best interests of the children are rarely in play in decsions around who should teach and how much those who teach should be paid. If this is really true, it is probably the wrong approach.

A central tenet of the school pay system appears to be their main stumbling block: FTA:

Like all Kentucky public school districts, Beechwood has a set pay scale for teachers based on experience. There is no differential pay for teaching tougher or less-desirable courses.

There's a certain insanity to the notion that different demand-disciplines (in the market workplace) should not help guide salary distribution in the teaching systems. High-demand, high-pay disciplines should drive high-pay teaching positions. If an English teacher's 50% cut to a Physics teacher's pay bothers the English teacher, he (she) need only get the necessary background to qualify to teach physics. It seems like a simple equation... it's kind of (not exactly) how it works in the job market.

I'm all for a meritocracy for teachers, and not just in the math and sciences. Unfortunately, from past observations, as long as government runs educational systems, and unions govern teacher selection, the "finest education" for the children is likely the last result we'll see.

Want to place odds on whether Kentucky pulls off getting these bills passed? And, if passed, want to double down on the teachers' unions' resistance? That said, good luck to Kentucky... I hope they pull it off.

Re:if it breeds discontent, so be it. (3, Insightful)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242036)

Pay should be based on qualifications and performance, not experience.

Re:if it breeds discontent, so be it. (3, Insightful)

qwijibo (101731) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242462)

Performance is a hard thing to measure. Qualifications are a measure of a minimum skill set, often at a particular point in time. When you try to measure performance, people tend to maximize for the criteria being measured, even if it's counterproductive to doing their primary job.

Teachers get rated based on how their students do on standardized tests, so they teach students to be good at the test, regardless of how relevant that information is outside of the test. People complain about teaching to the test, but insist on metrics that require some manner of measurement. It's a catch 22.

This is even worse since the teachers get no choice in their students. How would you feel if your performance was based on your ability to get a bunch of goldfish to do math?

I'm all for rating people based on their performance, but in practice it always comes down to something documented clearly in such a brain dead manner that people aren't afraid of being sued. Once that happens, it becomes very difficult to see the difference between someone who is really good at their job and someone who is good at gaming the system.

Re:if it breeds discontent, so be it. (1)

Ghoser777 (113623) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242566)

The only way this system would work is if it was based on improvement. So if you give me a kid with a 4th grade math level and I get him to th 8th grade through one year, that's considered great success even though the kid doesn't meet state standards as a sophomore in high school. I don't know what a fair scale is, but it should be somehow relative how far the kid has come.

Re:if it breeds discontent, so be it. (1)

Dr. Manhattan (29720) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242564)

Pay should be based on qualifications and performance, not experience.

And it should be related to the importance of the job, too. I don't mind if the more difficult subjects get a pay boost... so long as all teachers (that are doing a good job) are getting paid well. I want good teachers for my kids, and I'm willing to pay what it takes to attract good teachers.

It doesn't look like all school districts have the combination of money and interest to do that. Too bad, because education is most important in areas where people have a strong need to move up the economic ladder. But by that very fact, those areas don't tend to have the money needed to attract quality teachers.

Re:if it breeds discontent, so be it. (5, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242148)

A central tenet of the school pay system appears to be their main stumbling block

That's a stumbling block of *all* unionized workplaces. Instead of paying people based on their performance they pay everyone based on their years in.

This type of reward system creates an environment that's filled with indifference. "Why should I work hard and come up with new and exciting lesson plans when I'm going to be paid exactly the same as Bob Smith who sits on his tenured ass and doesn't engage the students at all?"

It's a real problem where I used to work and it was compounded with supervisors that have limited budgets and individuals used to receiving their yearly raises and not looking for upward advancement. So you have people that do nothing more than the bare minimum, don't have any goals, and are just happy to be great at making themselves look busier than they really are while complaining that Joe is working hard and making them look bad.

Re:if it breeds discontent, so be it. (1)

RingDev (879105) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242530)

The trade off however is to have employees with no meaningful negotiation power against their employers. The vast majority of States in the US are "Work at will". Basicly, your employer can come up to you and say things like:

"I don't like you, you're fired."
"You smell funny, you're fired."
"Your performance last quarter was outstanding, it was so good that it made me look bad, you're fired."
"You've worked here for 15 years, you cost us twice as much as that high school drop out doing the same job, you're fired."
"Your wife, son, and dog were killed when an arsonist burnt down your house last weekend, we think that you're going to be depressed and we don't want you around, you're fired."

You can be fired for 'morally reprehensible' reasons, and you're employer is completely protected. With very few exceptions, the standard harassments (sex, age, religion, etc...), government employees, and Unions.

I agree that Unions are by and large a drain on the US as a whole, but so long as there are corporate entities who exercise their ability to treat individual employees unfairly, they will continue to be necessary.


Re:if it breeds discontent, so be it. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242258)

This proposed system to get better math and science educators and educations sounds like a meritocracy approach

...until you consider the fact that they want to base their salaries on the performance of their class.

There are several problems with this idea. The first, and most serious in my mind (but I am Not a Teacher, I have only discussed this with some of them) is that this will be based on standardized testing. As we all (should) know, testing is actually a poor indicator of future performance. Some people simply do poorly with tests.

The second problem is that, as any teacher will tell you, most parents take far too little interest in their children's education. Or, as many of us have realized, far too little interest in their children in general. How is a teacher supposed to teach when the children go home and turn off their brains, and their parents give them no reason to turn it on again?

There is a third problem, which is the standardized curriculum. Our teaching methods are, well, downright stupid. But they are mandated by law. Let me give you a personal, concrete example of what I mean. I'm a fairly bright guy (some of you would disagree, but you can attempt aviary copulation with a ventrally rotating toroidal pasty) but one thing I've just never really been able to retain is mathematics. I really don't retain things unless I actually understand them, it's just the way I learn. Or in this case, don't. But no attempt has ever been made to actually teach me how math works. It's all about rote memorization and applying someone else's formulas, which you are expected to remember even though there are literally millions of places to look them up.

I watched one of Alan Kay's wonderful videos with which he promotes his computing environment Squeak [] . In this video he talks about how we do not actually teach science or mathematics in school. One brilliant example is that in fractions you used to cross-multiply (which is how he learned at home) and now you invert and multiply (same thing) in order to divide one fraction by another. This is actually a bit of algebra and when you actually get to algebra you have enough math to prove the invert-and-multiply method. But in fact we never actually do that and you will not be proving anything until you get to Calculus, which is not a requirement to graduate High School, nor is it a requirement for most college degrees! So in fact we never teach anything about how mathematics actually works to most people who have college degrees. And you don't REALLY learn much about the mechanisms of mathematics unless you take Discrete Mathematics or Math Theory or some other class that focuses on such things. Of course, such classes are designed to be impenetrable unless you have already taken a bunch of other courses in which you use math without understanding it.

So what we are teaching in school is not actually math, but math appreciation. And this continues for most people who have a degree; even teachers typically don't really understand math. This is not a joke. This is not inaccurate. It is the gospel truth. Your children (should you have any) are probably learning math (and science, although I won't go into that discussion since it's so similar) from someone who does not understand it.

Re:if it breeds discontent, so be it. (1)

amuro98 (461673) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242320) you're saying that if an English teacher is upset that the physics teacher is getting paid more, the English teacher should just switch over to teaching some higher-paying subject in math or science?

Oh yeah, that's going to work well...

I had some great teachers in my day, but only because they loved the subject they were teaching! I wouldn't want my English Lit. teacher to try to teach math simply because it'd make her more money. She's a good English teacher! Pay her well for the job she's doing!

I'm not saying the current system is working, because it's not, but why should teaching some subjects be "rewarded" whereas others are "punished"?

The entire education system is already falling apart simply by focusing too much on so-called "important" classes like Math and Science, while cutting Engilsh, Music, Art, and Gym.

All this well-meaning, but lopsided program is going to do is just intensify these problems.

Re:if it breeds discontent, so be it. (1)

gilroy (155262) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242576)

Blockquoth the poster:

I'm not saying the current system is working, because it's not, but why should teaching some subjects be "rewarded" whereas others are "punished"?

I don't know but that's the way the market's gone. A lot of people are missing a crucial point: Someone with training in math or science has many opportunities to earn much more money than they would teaching. It's harder to fill a vacancy in math/sci than English or history. Simple economics says, you must either offer more money to lure people away from those other jobs, or you must accept a lower general quality in the applicants. It sounds harsh and it is. That doesn't make it less true.

Disclaimer: I am in fact one of those math/sci types and I even teach high school. (Which, I suppose, means I've just painted myself as part of the lesser talent pool. :) )

Being a good teacher... (1)

Etherwalk (681268) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242370)

(One stray thought let to another. =))

> he (she) need only get the necessary background to qualify to teach physics.

The requirements go down when there's a shortage, of course, so this isn't as hard as it sounds. Of course, to be honest, with the exception of a few particular courses--some AP stuff, advanced language stuff, and I suppose music--an intelligent person should be able to teach any high school course. (Based on the difficulty of high school courses at my school in the late 90s, and given at least a week or two of lead-time.) High school classes disseminate information at a rate which is much slower than the rate at which a reasonably intelligent person can learn.

That doesn't mean being a good teacher is easy--it isn't. It also isn't strongly encouraged or supported by the system, in most cases. One guy I met taught at a school where, one day, the students beat up a cop in front of the school. At the same school that fellow had had to physically pull a male student off the leg of a female teacher--a leg the student was humping. Someone else I know couldn't be reviewed for her teaching evaluation purposes the days the evaluator came because the students were too out-of-control--despite her best efforts, and this isn't someone who would be a bad teacher. Someone else I know had a team of students lie about being allowed out of class, and the parents came in furious about the idea of the students being written up for it... and the principal was upset, too, but didn't know how to properly interact with the (clueless) disciplinarian involved with the school. A student who was tutored by my sister for a while got a note on one of her essays saying her work was "Much mo better" from her teacher.

It's not a question of money. It's a question of worldview. What are our responsibilities in every day? How do we demand responsibility of ourselves and our teachers and our children in a way that teaches the children, but lets them explore?

Kentucky... (2, Interesting)

frosty_tsm (933163) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242010)

and cash scholarships to students who did well on AP math and science exams.
They don't say "Where education pays" for nothing.

(it's on the welcome signs as you enter the state)

Re:Kentucky... (1)

Asshat Canada (804093) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242116)

Ummmm - are you sure?
This is the first I've ever heard of a connection between Kentucky and education.

It can be done (1)

supertbone (624441) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242012)

IMHO, this is a good way of doing it. My wife's district is doing something similar in order to hire Speech Language Pathologists (another in demand education field). In order to do this it had to get approved by the union membership. A high majority of teachers supported this move.

May backfire (5, Interesting)

crow (16139) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242032)

Depending on how this is funded, it may backfire. If the state is paying the salary difference directly, that may work, but otherwise school districts will avoid hiring teachers who qualify for the extra pay to keep within budget. The system already makes it quite difficult for experienced teachers to get jobs; my wife was once told by a principal that he would love to hire her, but the superintendent said he would only approve up to three years of experience.

Re:May backfire (2, Interesting)

Sparr0 (451780) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242224)

Why didn't she just work for less? If I was out of work and no one would hire me for my normal rate, I would take a position that paid less.

Re:May backfire (2, Informative)

eln (21727) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242518)

The teachers union mandates certain pay levels at certain years of experience. You can't take less money just to get hired, even if you wanted to.

This may be seen as a union problem, but I see it more as a school budget problem. Schools don't have enough money, and they don't allocate enough of the money they do have to teacher salaries.

Good teachers are in high demand and short supply, which in a normal business would result in higher pay. However, with teaching there's some sort of nonsense myth that teachers should be doing the work purely because they love molding young minds, and shouldn't care at all about the money. Many of the best teachers probably do think that way, but that doesn't mean they don't deserve to be paid what they're worth. However, voters constantly vote against taxes for education, and keep voting in school boards that will spend millions of dollars on the latest technology while freezing teacher pay.

Re:May backfire (2, Informative)

crow (16139) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242522)

The union contract required them to pay her based on all of her experience; there was no option of coming in at a lower step on the pay scale.

Here is a thought (3, Interesting)

falcon5768 (629591) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242034)

Why dont we have our students actually learn in school and not pander to the test mentality which has proven to be ineffective and misleading.

Even better, why dont we stop comparing our entire populations abilities to the abilities of only the best of other countries.

Heck even better, why dont we just accept the fact that a lot of people are just not cut out to being college grads and help them better themselves in a industrial field like other countries do.

Re:Here is a thought (1, Interesting)

Darth_brooks (180756) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242236)

Why dont we have our students actually learn in school and not pander to the test mentality which has proven to be ineffective and misleading.

Because when you use standardized testing, you get numbers. From numbers, you can create statistics. With statistics, you can bullshit people. 100% of 12th graders passed the test you gave them? The school must be doing well! Sure, you dumbed down your curriculum to a 5th grade level, but you're school scored 100!

Re:Here is a thought (4, Funny)

X_Bones (93097) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242590)

Sure, you dumbed down your curriculum to a 5th grade level, but you're school scored 100!

ah, irony...

Re:Here is a thought (5, Insightful)

NETHED (258016) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242300)

EXACTLY! Not everyone should go to college. I know far to many "business" majors, or "communications" majors who leave college after 4-5 years of drunkenness (see face-book...) with a huge student loan and expect to earn 50K+ per year. Then the reality of the marketplace hits like a ton of bricks and you have these 'grads' earning a bit above minimum wage working retail or something unrelated to their college education.

There is an unhealthy stigma that goes along with people not going to college, and I disagree with it. College, while wonderful for some, is not good for others. 2 year trade schools, or apprenticeships should be encouraged far more than they are. And this is relevant to the topic because the students are told by their teachers that if they don't go to college, they will be useless to society. (or at least thats how I was taught)

There is a problem with the teaching system in the United States, and it starts with the students being far too empowered. If little Johnny does something wrong, teacher (rightly!) punishes Johnny, he cries to Mommy, and Mommy sides with Johnny. Teacher's hands are tied and so they stop caring. I have plenty of friends that are teachers, and this is a common story. There are more problems, but I firmly believe that the problem originates at discipline.

Re:Here is a thought (1)

31415926535897 (702314) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242380)

You bring up some good points, but how about taking it even further. Why do we even need the state-run education system? []

I'm not specifically endorsing this book, but it is very thought provoking (especially because, if you're a product of the forced-schooling system, there's a 30% chance you can't read this book).

Re:Here is a thought (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18242390)

Why dont we have our students actually learn in school and not pander to the test mentality which has proven to be ineffective and misleading.
Even better, why dont we stop comparing our entire populations abilities to the abilities of only the best of other countries.

Even better, why don't we just close our eyes and hope everything will be OK. It works when I drive. I don't know why it wouldn't work for educational policy.

(As someone who has taught math and science, both in the US and in a third world country, let me tell you ... "they" have average students who could wipe up the streets with our "cream of the crop")

Re:Here is a thought (1)

Phil_At_NHS (1008933) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242616)

"not pander to the test mentality which has proven to be ineffective and misleading."

It is a simple fact. If the Student has LEARNED THE MATERIAL, which is after all the goal of education, then that student should be able to perform well on a test of that material. The "test mentality" has not failed. No Child blah blah has improved scores. Simply not enough. People who are afraid of tests have something to hide. I would guess you are a teacher who is unable to get your students to learn, and so abhor the idea of a test that would demonstrate your failure. I might be wrong.

"Even better, why dont we stop comparing our entire populations abilities to the abilities of only the best of other countries."

We are having a problem graduating students who can MAKE CHANGE or FILL OUT A JOB APPLICATION. I don't think those abilities are too much to ask out of EVERY High school grad. As a matter of fact, I do not think having a working knowledge of all highschool courses is asking too much. After all, that IS what they are there for.

"why dont we just accept the fact that a lot of people are just not cut out to being college grads " Many Highschool grads are not even cut out to be college janitors. If a high school grad enters college, and has to take remedial education, which means high school education, than they never should have graduated. Why don't YOU just accept that are children are failing to learn, our teachers are failing to teach, and something needs to be done? We, and by we I mean you, need to answer one question, and act apropriately: Is a high school diploma supposed to be a certificate of achievement, or a certificate of attendance?

Stupid end-of-summary questions (2, Insightful)

EvanED (569694) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242040)

Is such differentiated pay the right way to attract science graduates who can make much more in industry, or is it simply going to breed discontent among teachers?

Why can't it be both?

Simple logic (5, Insightful)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242064)

Teachers face the same hurdles that you may experience in the IT field. Most of us have been in the position where you ae looking to take on a job that you are more than qualified for. You get the "We think you are overqualified for this position", which translates to "You are bound to want too much money". The same applies to teachers.

Re:Simple logic (1)

Fuckin ROBOTS! (999276) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242244)

Like IT professionals, teachers also face the hurdle of being electrocuted.

Pay Difference Justified? Certainly! (1)

CherniyVolk (513591) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242072)

Is such differentiated pay the right way to attract science graduates who can make much more in industry, or is it simply going to breed discontent among teachers?

I most certainly believe so. In the general workforce, this is generally the case. Those with degrees in English, who sit typing manuals all day generally don't get paid as well as engineers do. So, the schools would have to compete with the differing pay scales accordingly.

In general, I do believe teachers are vastly underpaid. However, a Math teacher should be paid more than an English teacher, unless of course, said English teacher happens to have published material, printed books et al.

Let's get this out of the way (1, Redundant)

kid_wonder (21480) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242080)

How about basing teacher pay on performance?

I mean, having a degree certainly doesn't mean you can teach anything.

Now that I've done the heavy lifting someone reply with the performance metrics.

Re:Let's get this out of the way (1)

Darth Maul (19860) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242194)

You can't do that because then you might have to hold people accountable. You must be new the United States. We don't do that here anymore, thankyouverymuch.

"All the rights, none of the responsibility"

Re:Let's get this out of the way (3, Insightful)

nomadic (141991) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242278)

How about basing teacher pay on performance?

And who judges performance?

If it's the school administration, then you risk the principal's favorites getting paid just because they're the favorites.

If it's based on standardized tests, then you just get teachers teaching kids how to take standardized tests, which is ultimately results in a lousier education.

Re:Let's get this out of the way (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18242610)

And who judges performance?

If it's the school administration, then you risk the principal's favorites getting paid just because they're the favorites.

Welcome to the working world!

Who judges performance? Your manager.
Can mangers play favorites resulting in unfair compensation? Absolutely.
Can metrics be put in place to minimize this possibility? Certainly.
Will management then monkey with the metrics to do whatever they want (usually minimize everyone's compensation)?

Does a bear shit in the woods?

These problems aren't unique to education, but the rest of us seem to find a reasonable compromise.

Re:Let's get this out of the way (1)

moore.dustin (942289) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242372)

Well then how do we gauge performance? Many districts do the standard sit-ins, interviews, results from class, and student reviews of their teachers. Now if we are going to base pay off reviews, this system really needs to be defined based on numbers right? Interviews and sit-ins serve as checkups more than anything, but should have a small influence on pay, sure. Now the other two are much mroe tricky, here is why:

Statistics on class progression throughout the year: The problem here is that every student and subject is different. In an English class, you have students that come in who are all over the board on there skill levels. How do you measure how that teacher did? It would have to be on a student by student basis in order to be fair, that is likely to cost more than it is worth. Every subject introduces different intricacies which would make it hard to have a concrete and accurate system for performance based pay.

Student Reviews: These are very common in college and high schools now. Problem is that a teacher knows that at the end of the year, their students will review them and their reviews are factors for their raise. That is when you have teachers who dumb down the class for better results and reviews. It is much easier to get good reviews on test scores and year-end reviews when you give the answers to all your tests to your students the day before the test and call it a "Study Guide".

I agree, in theory, but coming up with a fair way to review teachers is very complicated, but also very needed.

Re:Let's get this out of the way (1)

Stamen (745223) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242598)

As you've noted, with your heavy lifting comment, measuring performance isn't an easy thing to do. But assuming you could figure out a good way to do that, there are other real problems. Here are some of the basic ones as I see it:

* Teachers, individually, often have very little power over how or what they teach their students. Giving them the responsibility to meet some measure of performance without the power to do so is just setting them up to fail; which I believe is what many administrators are intentionally doing to move focus of blame to the teachers and off of them.

* All efforts to make teachers perform better are useless if you have a shortage of teachers. And we have a shortage of teachers for many reasons. Fix that problem first, then when you have more teachers than you need, you can pick and choose the exceptional ones. The law of supply and demand doesn't stop working, just because we wish it would.

* Education isn't valued in the US. If you don't think that is true, then you really aren't paying much attention. As long as parents, and society as a whole, doesn't value education, and to a lesser extent teachers, don't plan on getting good teachers. Other countries actually do value education. How many hours do you think the average parent spends helping at school? How many hours do you think the average parent teaches their children at home? What percentage of a family's budget (not including clothes which you have to buy anyways) do you think parents spend on education? I don't know, but my guess it is either zero or close to zero (not including taxes paid). Now compare those numbers to other countries.

Teachers should be the masters in their field, and society should treat them as such. Our culture should put on a pedestal, and expect, a master of math/physics/english to teach those less skilled than them. Our society should emphasize that is everyone's patriotic duty to mentor and teach, and it is the highest calling. In short we should treat the really great teachers as least well as we treat the worst performing pro basketball player.

Only in America (3, Insightful)

gasmonso (929871) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242084)

We already spend a shit load of money on education and the results are poor at best. So what do we do? Spend more money of course! I think the US needs to look at other cultures to see how its done. We're obviously missing something and it definitely isn't money.

gasmonso []

Re:Only in America (3, Interesting)

Paulrothrock (685079) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242228)

The highest educated populations in the western world are the Scandinavian countries. There, motherhood, childcare, and educational professions are looked upon as great callings that have a huge influence on the future prosperity of the country. Therefore, it's easy to justify paying them well.

In the US, it seems that most valuable female is the one who looks like a dirty catholic schoolgirl and the most valuable male is the one who can best jump on top of other males in the mud while wearing tights. Teachers and child care workers are looked down upon as lazy.

So it's not as easy as method. We need to change the culture.

Re:Only in America (2, Interesting)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242444)

Basketball and baseball players, at the top anyway, make a lot more than football players(you could say that footballers make more for each game, but all the jobs more or less require some level of full time physical conditioning).

Remember though, 100 million dollar CEOs are also a cultural problem.

Also, Oprah and Martha Stewart provide fairly strong counter examples to pretty much any other woman.

Re:Only in America (1)

SCHecklerX (229973) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242414)

Well, this article kind of illustrates that exact problem. Rather than spend the money on teacher salaries (incentive for good teachers to work in the field), or even textbooks, many schools are throwing money at computers and such, which IMNSHO add nothing to basic education. Where is the outrage in that?

Re:Only in America (1)

MeanderingMind (884641) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242520)

Personally I think it's possible that more money can solve the issue, but it requires responsible handling thereof. The reason why the current allotment will not suffice is due to the entrenched ideas it has propgated, which will resist any reallotment as no one will want to give up what they already have.

What I'm proposing is the merit based salary often cited in other comments. However, rather than garnishing the tenured salaries we allow them to persist until those bearing them retire. Eventually the overpaid will be gone from the system simply as a matter of course, leaving only the bright and dedicated teachers.

While this won't have immediate results, I think it will be much more effective than attacking entrenched and tenured teachers. Sparking a civil war in the lines of teachers doesn't strike me as a good idea.

Maybe all teachers deserve higher pay... (2, Insightful)

blankman (94269) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242126)

Is such differentiated pay the right way to attract science graduates who can make much more in industry, or is it simply going to breed discontent among teachers?

More competitive pay may attract science grads who could make more elsewhere, but I'd argue that it's worthwhile to avoid breeding discontent by giving all teachers that same raise. They certainly deserve it for all the extra hours a teacher puts in grading, preparing lessons, and other "homework." Counting all that, my teacher friends put in more hours in a nine-month school year than I do in a twelve-month sysadmin's year, but they make half the money. Besides, if extra money will improve the applicant pool for science teachers, won't it do the same for english or history teachers too?

Re:Maybe all teachers deserve higher pay... (1)

kjkeefe (581605) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242248)

I have a degree in Math (plus two more in Computer Science) and good teaching ability and experience. Unfortunately, salary is the exact reason why I didn't go into teaching. I just cannot do that to my family when I could make two and three times what an average teacher makes.

I think it is really disgusting how poorly our teachers are paid. The teaching profession should be similar to the legal and medical professions in required education and salary. If this had been the case I would have loved to be a teacher, and I would have been really damned good.

Why I'm Not a Teacher (5, Insightful)

Paulrothrock (685079) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242140)

I'd like to be a teacher. Some of the greatest influences on my life have been teachers. I like teaching kids science and computers, and I've got a talent for it.

But I'll never be a teacher under current systems.

I'm not patient with kids who don't get it and insist on me walking them through everything. None of my favorite teachers were either. I'm not respectful of authority either, unless it's earned that respect. None of my favorite teachers were either. And if parents insist that little Taylor or Brittany didn't earn the C they got on the test, I'll tell them where they can shove their complaints. And I'm not about to waste my time teaching kids for a test. Some of the best lessons in life can't be tested. I'd reward kids for creativity, an inquisitive nature, the questioning of current thinking, and for making me look dumb. All the kinds of things my favorite teachers rewarded me for.

I feel that, in this current climate, I wouldn't last a year as that kind of teacher. In fact, two of my favorite teachers got fired after I had them because of complaints and friction with the administration. And they were replaced with robots designed to make more robots. Indeed, most of the teachers I remember fondly only lasted as long as they did because they produced results despite friction with the administration and parents.

Re:Why I'm Not a Teacher (1)

corbettw (214229) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242286)

What about teaching in a private school? Maybe you could find one that teaches in the method you've described, sounds similar to the Montessori method.

Re:Why I'm Not a Teacher (1)

Paulrothrock (685079) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242386)

I can only imagine how nitpicky private school parents are. I mean, public school parents are bad enough and they're not even paying for their kids' education!

Re:Why I'm Not a Teacher (1)

NETHED (258016) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242412)

I'd teach too, but as a visiting teacher to a High School. I'd teach one class a day, maybe two, and then go back to my research. Hell, I'd do it for free, but you think any school system would go for it? HA. Sorry Mr. PhD Sir, you didn't pass this teaching certification course, we can't let you in to the classroom because we don't find you qualified to teach high school biology.

Re:Why I'm Not a Teacher (1)

microTodd (240390) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242418)

I'm an adjunct instructor at a college. If you pick the right courses to apply for to teach, its the best of all worlds. If you teach adult education (i.e. night courses) that means that you can teach one night a week and keep your day job. And the adult college students are more serious about being there to learn. Also, as an adjunct you don't participate in as much as the tenured politics. You show up, teach, and leave.

Downside is the pay is pittance. When I do the math I only make about $15/hour for teaching. But its only part time and I have another job, so I do it for the satisfaction and the fun and the helping the students, not for a paycheck.

So if you *really* want to teach, then get out there and do it! Most community colleges I look at are *dying* for quality IT, MIS, and math teachers.

All about the accountability (1)

MillenneumMan (932804) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242144)

There is too little in the way of accountability that the school administration can control. Heck, accountability is practically non-existent in schools beyond whatever accountability is necessary to support the educational beauracracy.

When you give school principals the authority to run their schools like they would a business, where the principals have total autonomy over staff hiring and classroom goals, you will see significant improvements across the board. Either the principal will get the right staff in place (big win) or the principal will be exposed as underqualified to lead and you replace them with someone more qualified (big win).

Tie this to a voucher system that allows parents to direct their education dollars wherever they deem is best for their child and the US will have a vastly superior education system in only a few years.

This is exactly why I no longer teach. (4, Interesting)

Kris_B_04 (883011) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242178)

Pay is a serious issue with teaching (I won't even get started on the rest of the issues).

"Is such differentiated pay the right way to attract science graduates who can make much more in industry, or is it simply going to breed discontent among teachers?"

Science and Math are good starting points. But don't stop there!
The entire United States Educational System needs a complete overhaul.

Teachers should teach because they enjoy it. Being "attracted" into it isn't going to make them be good teachers. In fact, it may turn out like college where you get the really bright mathematicians and scientists teaching, but they can't relate worth a darn to the students.

Money is also a good start. Really talented people end up leaving the profession because they simply can't pay the bills. Making the pay more competitive will keep more of the good teachers. Fixing some of the other problems will also retain teachers, but getting the teachers in, paying them better and teaching (or allowing) them to be good teachers is what needs to happen, nation-wide, not just Kentucky or California.

The overhaul must start somewhere, and if they look at pay first, that's great. You can eventually weed out the poor teachers, keep the good teachers and our children will finally have an education they deserve!! (Without having to move overseas to truly educate them well.)

So, it's a start. But it can't stop there. Yes, there will be discontent among teachers but once the ball starts rolling and things improve for one and all, then everyone wins.

My thoughts as an ex-teacher,

Re:This is exactly why I no longer teach. (1)

denis-The-menace (471988) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242542)

Teachers should teach because they enjoy it. Being "attracted" into it isn't going to make them be good teachers.

Therefore, if they start paying math and science teachers alot more we'll the same problems we had with computer people during the y2k boom: dim-wits with papers and big pay. They'll create messes that only people with experience AND knowledge can fix.

Disturbing (1)

EMeta (860558) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242180)

The part that disturbs me here is the implicit understanding that our non math/science teachers are 'good enough' as they are, and we needn't get more proficient teachers in all subjects via said financial incentives. Aren't there articles written every month about things like how a majority of high school seniors have such poor reading skills that they can't read a train schedule effectively?

This is not, of course, to say that the majority of teachers aren't apt. They probably are. But give them 16-18 students instead of 30-34 students in a room, and some results might show up. And I don't just mean test results. I mean having a far more intelligent, competitive, nicer-to-live-with country.

Most teachers would also find having substantially smaller classes a huge quality of life improvement, which will also lead to better teachers entering and staying in the field. Would this be expensive? Yes. Will it be an investment that will pay for itself in a stronger economy, less crime & prisons, --just counting the economics of it? I would not be surprised. If our lawmakers can find a trillion dollars for a questionably needed war, I think we can find a fraction of that for this.

Well I got more worked up there than I planned on.

Across the pond. (1)

Philomathie (937829) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242190)

We are in a similar situation across the pond in the UK. There is a great shortage of a physics and chemistry teachers and the government is providing payment incentives to encourage graduates to take on the role of teaching... And why not? There is a shortage of an important commodity, and the market is willing to pay more for it. Those teacher unions should shut their traps!

Re:Across the pond. (4, Interesting)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242364)

There is a great shortage of a physics and chemistry teachers
Bollocks there is, a good friend of mine is a qualified and experienced physics teacher, can't get a permanent position.

You know... Teaching used to be a very well paying and highly respected profession. Then they nationalised it.


Re:Across the pond. (1)

Philomathie (937829) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242604)

That is very odd indeed. I'm afraid I can't cite my sources as memory has recently gone to pot :s but I have heard it from teachers themselves, the headteacher of my school, and seen advertisements in papers guaranteeing relatively high salaries straight out of university. In Scotland at least (I can't speak for the rest of the UK) teaching still is a well paying and respected profession, I believe they are the 5th highest paid in the world, but they are required to have had at least 3 years of Higher education (e.g. university) to be a teacher in their chosen subject.

Any good educator knows... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18242210)

... that we need stronger math and science programs in schools. I'm sure English or history teachers will be bummed about not getting a bonus - but if they're the kind of people we want teaching our kids in the first place, they'll understand.

Why a bias for science teachers ? (1)

TheAmit (1011767) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242260)

Would not this bias towards science and math create a society of technocrats ? after all science and math are not the only things children need to be useful Why is there a bias against teachers who teach social sciences or language skills they are as important to education as science and math teachers are ? Rather increase the complexity of the curriculum and do not address the lowest common denominator allow students who show an aptitude for a certain subject move on to more complex problems. Why do we hold these kids back because the dumbest guy in class cannot catch up

Re:Why a bias for science teachers ? (1)

icthus13 (972796) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242366)

While I agree teachers, or at least good ones, need to be paid more across the board, we aren't talking about paying Social Science and English teacher more because there is not currently a shortage of them. There IS a shortage of qualified math/science teachers.

Re:Why a bias for science teachers ? (2, Insightful)

CaptainCarrot (84625) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242392)

Because we don't have a shortage of English or History teachers. It's not a bias. It's supply and demand. People with expertise in math and science can find far more lucrative jobs in industry than they can teaching public schools, and without dealing with the kind of idiotic bureaucracy that tends to rule in them, but the same cannot be said of English or history majors. You cannot "increase the complexity of the curriculum" without expertise in the subject matter.

Because we've got enough 'basket weaving' teachers (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242500)

It's really simple, if you want more of something you've got a shortage of, try paying more for it.

In this case there is a shortage of qualified math and science teachers.

I see it more as an attraction.. (1)

madhatter256 (443326) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242276)

The US NEEDs more math and science teachers, especially good ones. The rest of the world exceeds in these fields more than our younger generation can. With politics messing things up in the science classroom about creationism over evolution, it is a huge step backward and will definitely damage our country's reputation for being the mecca of new technology research.

I do know of some math teachers who used to work for Lockheed Martin and they were really focused on making sure every teen in their classroom. The state I live in gives teachers tax breaks and other incentives in living here. Pretty much every state is doing what they can. Fact of the matter is, states cannot do much under the current system. It is a matter of what kind of public education system you want. Do you want a state controlled system or a federal government controlled system?

AP students (2, Insightful)

proberts (9821) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242304)

One of the problems this will encourage is that these days parents *expect* their kids to be in AP classes even if they're not qualified to be there. I recently judged a high school science fair, and it was pretty plain that most students didn't even do the minimum, a few just checked off the boxes, and very, very few really tried to do the work required for science.

The first thing that needs to happen is that AP classes need to not be dumbed down to the lowest common denominator because of political reasons, and everyone shouldn't get a pony- we have to get back to having kids *lose* if they don't make the cut.

If this attracts the teachers (1)

Bullfish (858648) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242324)

Won't it create shortages in other states potentially? They have to be attracted from somewhere? If you waited for the teachers presently in the state to upgrade, it would probably take too long. Sounds to me like the recipe for cannibalization of the school system.

Why focus on graduates? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18242342)

Why not go after mid-career professionals looking for a lifestyle change. It's taken me a couple years to get my work/life priorities straight, and now I'd totally take a pay cut for short days and summers off.

But in most places they still have the lifetime career progression model... And even if I wanted to start at the bottom with entry-level wages, I'd have to go back to school and get certified. Not going to happen, I'm afraid.

Not just about pay... (1)

MontyApollo (849862) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242346)

I think a lot of math and science people are not that well-suited (introverts, aspergers, etc..) for teaching to begin with, and a lot of these people have no desire to teach no matter what the pay is. The shortage may not just be about pay.

Re:Not just about pay... (1)

exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242586)

The shortage may not just be about pay.
Of course it's about pay.

Firstly, that stuff about aspergers is a lot of bull. Sure, s proportion of mathematicians have social issues, especially at research level, but among people at degree level they're mostly a fairly normal bunch. Secondly, if enough money was offered then people who might otherwise study economics or history might be motivated to study and teach math and science.

It's not the teachers (1, Interesting)

macemoneta (154740) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242348)

As far as I've been able to determine from friends and family in the teaching profession, the problem isn't so much compensation as it is walnut-brained administrators and parents.

If you make schools immune to civil lawsuits, put teachers ahead of parents and stop appointing the retarded friends and family of politicians as school administrators, you will have a functioning school system again. Parents that don't like that situation can take their kids to private school or home school them.

Stupid kids need to get left behind. Advanced kids need to get advanced placement. If you cater to the lowest common denominator, you get ignorant, bored, unchallenged kids that are disciplinary problems.

Is this really that hard to understand?

Re:It's not the teachers (1)

NETHED (258016) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242582)


Thank you for restating something I've been saying for neigh on 5 years. If theres anything we need more of is teacher empowerment to dole out justice. Johnny did something bad, Johnny gets punished.

Ohh yea, I LOVE the idea of an "Out of school suspension" for skipping school. Thats BRILLIANT! Johnny skips out on Monday's classes, so he gets a 'write up' and an Out of school suspension (read: sanctioned skipping). This is not at just one school. Whatever happened to shame and the desire to do one's best? *grumble grumble*


Desireable Course? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18242420)

Will binding pay to the desireability of a course increase the politicization of being a teacher? Of course. But that's not what distresses me.

See, here's the real question -- why are math and science more desireable than history or literature? Seriously, wouldn't more-qualified history teachers been able to keep us from repeating the Spanish-American war that resulted in us occupying the Philippines? Or the 1980s that had the Neocons mucking about in the Middle East? Wouldn't a more concerned reading of 1984 in a literature class caused us to be more distressed by Our Friend George's "trust me" reassurances? How many billions of dollars would those lessons have been worth? How many lives of people aspiring to learn math and science might have been saved?

Don't be so quick to shower love and money on math and science -- they gave us The Bomb over 60 years ago and have yet to invent an irresponsibility inhibitor to go with it.

The bomb kept Stalin out of western europe. (0, Offtopic)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242572)

Without the bomb there is no way the cold war would not have turned very hot. WWII was plenty destructive.

The simple fact is there is a shortage of qualified math and science teachers, not so for history.

Also in the full light of Machiavellian hindsight, we did damn well in the Spanish-American war.

My wife is a Science Teacher in Kentucky (2, Interesting)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242494)

My wife teaches middle school science in Northern Kentucky. Just consider the following a general complaint. We're pretty disappointed with the district she works for, to the point of considering private school for our kids. A couple of reasons: The district is cutting out AP courses. Maybe it was to qualify for the cash to start a program. They are also cutting teacher positions (including science) because of a budget shortfall. Lastly, she may get shifted from science to special-ed. Why? Because she has two masters degrees and is certified in Science, Language Arts, and Special-Ed. So even though she loves teaching science, has students that write poems about what a great teacher she is, she may not get to decide what subject she teaches. If there's a shortage of teachers in any subject, it's special ed.

Oh, and she probably won't get the bonus.

From a science teacher (1)

dculp (669961) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242592)

I have to make this short and brief...

I am a middle school science teacher and I have to say that I am very disappointed with the quality of science education and science teachers in general. Most science teachers I know are not science oriented people or come from non-science backgrounds and it really bothers me. I honestly believe that if you are going to teach science you should be passionate about what you teach, you should know the subject, even eat and breathe it. It disappoints me when teachers do not have a passion for their subject. In addition to teaching, I run an after school robotics program, a rocketry club, and a strategy board game club. I don't expect every teacher to stay after school but it looks bad when the official work day is 8-4 and you get to work at 8:00am and you are running kids over getting out of the building at 4:00pm.

In addition, a large percentage of teachers LIKE the fact that every single teacher (or close to it) that has been working the same number of years earns the same amount of money. It really pains me sometimes but I didn't do this for the money but it still bothers me to know that the people who barely scrape by in the classroom and run kids down in the parking lot trying to get to their car at 4:00 make the same salary as me.

Unions (2, Insightful)

spoon00 (25994) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242624)

And part of the problem are teacher's unions. Most force a system were all new teachers are paid the same, with the same tenure requirements and the same raise/bonus requirements. There is little if no incentive to become a teacher of "hard" subjects like math and science when you can get the same salary and job security in one of the "soft" subjects like social science, art, music or gym. This is why most schools have a glut of "soft" subject teachers and why there are so many bad math and science teachers.

What happens is the shortage of math and science teachers forces the school to make a "soft" subject teacher teach those subjects. They end up doing a terrible job because they aren't trained in it, don't have an excitement about the subject and generally feel that they will only being doing the job temporarily. This maybe the case but only because they are sacked (not likely given our tenure system) or quit when they reach a certain level of dissatisfaction. Otherwise a school is stuck with a crappy math or science teacher until they retire.

If the research was done I bet a good causal relationship of bad math and science teachers and lower student interest/performance in those subjects could be made. Getting rid of the ridiculous parts of the union system and creating a Milwaukee, WI style school choice program will go a long way to better teachers, better schools and students that will be able to compete globally again.

If they understood math... (1)

Bob-taro (996889) | more than 7 years ago | (#18242646)

...this wouldn't even be a question. Of course more pay will attract more qualified teachers -- as long as the pay is actually tied to the qualifications (and this is the govt we're talking about, so you can't just assume they'll understand that). I'm a computer programmer and one of my co-workers is a former match teacher. He went in with high ideals and good intentions and got burned out. He said the main reason he quit was that the compensation was entirely based on seniority -- you could be the best teacher in the school or the worst and it wouldn't affect your pay.

And yes, Coach James and Mrs Johnson the social studies teacher would probably complain about how much the math and science teachers get paid.

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