Part of the Bay Area News Group

Teachers union, district hit another wall

By Katy Murphy
Tuesday, December 8th, 2009 at 6:50 pm in OUSD central office, teachers, union contract.

In their final offer to the union’s bargaining team — which was rejected and called “unconscionable” by the union – district administrators offered teachers an unchanged salary schedule (no cuts, no increases) and said they wouldn’t cut elementary school teachers’ prep periods, according to union President Betty Olson-Jones.

Both sides say they want to avoid a strike, but they can’t even seem to agree on whether mediation has ended or whether they can discuss what I just wrote about (you can find the full story here).

The news release I received from OEA said the contract dispute was certified for the next phase after mediation, known as fact-finding. But an e-mail I got this evening from Troy Christmas, the director of labor relations for the district, said “This is simply not true” (with “not true” underlined for emphasis). Christmas said the two sides were still in mediation and that the union violated the confidentiality agreement by discussing the district’s proposal.

Go figure.

What the union wants: Union leaders note that Oakland teachers are among the lowest paid in the county; they want annual 5 percent raises for the next three years and a greater assurance of maintaining small class sizes at the elementary school level, Olson-Jones said.

The challenge: The district faces a $27 million deficit for next year alone, a figure that Superintendent Tony Smith says is only likely to grow.

A parcel tax that would have boosted teachers salaries — which the teachers union opposed – failed in November 2008. Some in the district want to give it another try, this time with broader support, but the union leadership passed a resolution this fall saying OEA wouldn’t back the campaign if independently run, publicly funded charter schools would receive any of the funds.

Board member Kakishiba, though, has suggested the district use Measure G parcel tax money to boost the salaries of teachers in their first five or 10 years — when they’re most likely to leave.

What do you think should be done?

[You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.]

  • arismom

    Take the money from the charter schools office. Why do they get so much money (nearly 400k)? Side deals with the new sup?

  • localed

    I think both sides need to gain perspective and continue talking, as professionals and intelligent adults. As the new Supe has said, the adult issues in our District are a major barrier of improving problems, and this is certainly a big one. The tenor of OEA is not very professional, based on their newsletters and individual statements.

  • http://perimeterprimate.blogspot.com/ Sharon

    Arismom: The money probably covers the salaries for four staff members at OUSD’s Office of Charter Schools: a coordinator, a financial accountant, a program analyst, and an administrative assistant.

    It also pays for the upkeep of their off-the-OUSD-Web-site-grid Web site @ http://www.ousdcharters.net/services.html.

    Building up Oakland’s charter office is to grease the way for more and more charters to come. You may, or may not, be aware that a conversion of the traditional urban public schools to charter schools is the Grand Plan. Being pushed by “free enterprise” thinkers and funded by billionaires, it is now being intensely implemented in many U.S. cities. Say bye-bye to shared governance and unions (elected school boards and teachers bad) and hello to privatization (business good). But only in low income, urban areas.

    In Oakland, charters started to flourish under Randy Ward’s tenure (the first state administrator). Our current superintendent, Tony Smith, didn’t start it, but I haven’t figured out if he wants to end it — or help it along. With the charter movement bearing down on us, it is absolutely going to come down to people taking a firm stand of being either pro or con.

    Like abortion, gay rights, or health care debates, heated arguments about charters occur because each side has deeply embedded — and conflicting — personal ideologies. But many people haven’t identified where they stand because they aren’t sufficiently informed. Here is something useful to read – http://www.counterpunch.org/price06262009.html

  • Nextset

    I just read a report on layoffs coming at Los Angeles Unified of 5000 school employees. The layoffs of this July for the various municipalities will likely be insignificant compared to the ones being planned for July 2010. This includes police, fire and other law enforcement as well as schools and every other government function – except jails and prisons. I believe there will be serious layoffs there too before all this is done but only after mass releases of criminals into the CA cities.

    This is more than a recession. There are going to have to be historic changes in the way things are done at least for the duration.

    If some students aren’t going to learn to read and write anyway, should we spend limited funds to keep them in school beyond the point which we can tell they will never learn? If colleges are to pare down their enrollment shouldn’t they first eliminate remedial classes and impose quality screens on enrollment to keep out the disfunctional students (those statistically known to not be college material)?

    Work is probably a better instructor for those who don’t perform in classroom settings. Any work. Menial work is where they can start.

    The Brave New World I have often mentioned consists of times where people openly and rather brutally defend their own interests and are less alturistic. If we don’t teach our public school students the needed qualities and attributes they need to gain admission into the workplace and in society they are going to have increasingly miserable lives. When times are tough there are fewer handouts for people not connected to society.

    We might need to start telling kids to cut their hair, remove the facial piercings, speak standard English, change their dress to standard attire, learn hierarchy and where they fit in it, and otherwise get a clue.

    I hope the public schools quickly start planning for operations with radically reduced budgets. We appear to be heading that way.

    The sun will still rise. There will just have to be a lot of changes.

  • harlemmoon

    Here we go – again.
    The last time this happened, the district was headed for a strike. Students were told to stay home (creating mind-numbing childcare issues), relationships between teachers, administrators, school communities were shredded and the media had a field day, reporting on the inept handling of the issue.

    Katy asks what we think should be done. Four words: Bring Back Randy Ward.

    Say what you will about his maverick style, but the man did not suffer fools and he moved swiftly to kick OUSD into gear. The succession of incompetents that followed him were successful only in undoing Ward’s progress.

  • TheTruthHurts

    Let’s see. Clearly the Feds are flush with cash (they print it anyway). Who cares if it’s borrowed. We’re good for it – right?

    The state of California is rich too, otherwise people wouldn’t accept those lovely IOUs. I’m sure sales taxes are up because people are shopping. Property taxes are up because people are buying those ever-appreciating homes. Heck, they must be making a killing on income taxes too with 12%+ unemployment.

    California taxpayers are flush too, which is why they are buying houses, luxury cars, and shopping at Bloomies these days. Heck, Silicon Valley is booming – just look at all the IPOs and stock option millionaires we keep hearing about.

    And of course, Oakland itself is in great shape. Can’t you see those booming real estate values. How about the miniscule unemployment numbers at 17.2% (http://www.business2oakland.com/main/laborforce.htm).

    Or, hey, just look at the City gov’t itself, surely they could pony up some “extra” cash to help schools. They’re only $15M in the hole anyway(http://www.kcbs.com/pages/2637234.php).

    Or how about Oakland residents who have a median HOUSEHOLD income of about $50K http://www.business2oakland.com/main/documents/OaklandCalifDemographics.pdf, which turns out to be only $4K less than the average INDIVIDUAL salary of an Oakland teacher in (http://tinyurl.com/yhtt6jt
    ). Surely they’re willing to use all that extra income for another property tax on their McMansion.

    I’m sure the fact that Vallejo blew up and Richmond is blowing up is just coincidence. (http://tinyurl.com/yfwnarm) The fact that Los Angeles Unified just passed a budget to eliminate 5,000 jobs is just an anomaly I’m sure. (http://tinyurl.com/ybcyhl3)

    I think everyone admits Oakland teachers deserve more pay and clearly there is enough money to go around. RAISES FOR EVERYONE – COUNT ME IN!!!

  • Harold

    no contract for two years intolerable… no cost-of-living increases are intolerable… Consultants and Administrators (Superintendent) have received: COLA money, raises, etc., but Teachers get no raises?

  • Sue

    Time to put up new signs in our car and home windows. Just like in ’06, my family will support the teachers.

    If it comes to a strike, I’ll still have to go to my corporate masters every day and bring home the bacon, but my husband and our two OUSD students will be on the picket line with the teachers. They were there three years ago for the one-day non-strike that finally settled the contract.

    We support the teachers because they are the ones in the classroom with our kids every single day. They’re the ones who helped us figure out why younger son was doing so poorly last year, and how we could help him turn that around this year. They’re the ones who have worked their @sses off with our autistic older son, so that he’s going to graduate from high school in June with a GPA getting closer and closer to a 4.0 (not there yet, but it keeps going up). They’ve earned our support by supporting our kids.

    Other folks will make their own choices on the basis of whatever is most important to them. Yeah, my property tax increases started to hurt the last time they went up. But watching the best teachers leaving the district over the past 8-9 years has hurt more. It’s so far past time to start paying OUSD teachers something that’s comparable to neighboring districts, and stop losing our best to those districts.

  • OUSD Teacher

    Also, while I understand it is hard to have property taxes go up, I can’t even afford to buy a property. As a 3rd year teacher I make roughly $2500 a month after taxes. I work 50-70 hours a week and live month to month. I love my job, and love my students and families– however, I still remember crying with frustration and exhaustion after opening my first pay check 3 years ago.

  • Sarah

    @Nextset –
    We are not a country of culturally and economically homogeneous people. Every student in Oakland Unified CAN learn to read and CAN succeed in college. The only people stopping that from happening are adults with low expectations for our children.

    The reality is this: as teachers, we are college-educated people with health insurance, food on the table, and roofs over our heads. There are far too many children in OUSD who cannot say the same. If OEA asks us to strike, I will teach. I absolutely refuse to let my students lose even one day that could get them closer to the opportunities they deserve.

    In response to OEA’s repulsion to charter schools: our responsibility as an educational community is to ensure that ALL kids have the opportunity for an excellent education. The bottom line is we must promote high-quality district and charter schools and reform low-quality district and charter schools.

  • Nextset

    Sarah: No. Some/Many students are cognitively unable to perform at high school level much less college. The fact that you can’t see that is odd to me. Much of the urban school children need vocational training not college prep. And they need to start work early (16?), not at age 22+ like the college kids.

    Moreover there are a percentage of students who could physically perform (especially with coaching) at high school level but as a matter of free choice refuse to do so. It could be that their biological clock is going off at 14 or 15 and they have a compulsion to reproduce. It could be their need to get high and stay high (drug and alcohol babies??) There are many reasons why adolescents and adults decide they have no use for any information they can’t use that afternoon.

    Chasing after people and berating them for their choices in life annoys the people and accomplishes little.

    People are different and not all are future oriented. Some are very present oriented. Some are flat out disordered and cannot take education like you want to force feed them.

    During the fat years when money frew on trees you as a teacher may have been paid to try to force feed “education” where it was not wanted. Not that we are moving into a depression, those days are over.

    In another 12 to 24 months there will be no money at all to throw away on people who don’t want it. It will take everything you have just to handle those who can benefit quickly. It’s called triage.

    Things are likely to be much worse in a death spiral state like CA compared to Montana. You really need to adjust to the economic reality we are all facing. The party days are really over for a long time to come.

    trage means that we use the budgets we will be given to do what we can to help the greatest amount of students make reasonable progress. That may soon mean no 11th or 12th grades, Class sizes of 60 or more for lectures. Self study and mass homework assignments. Or some other extreme sounding measures short of just closing the schools and telling the students they are on correspondence classes. No Money means No Money. And that’s where the CA economy is going. Tax revenue is falling relative to the welfare and transfer spending and we do have to maintain the roads and such to keep the economy we do have left.

    Such change won’t happen overnight but big change is quickly coming. And you’re not going to have any sympathy for the urban public schools when the people who count don’t send their kids there anyway (and I cite LA Unified as the best example).

    Brave New World.

  • Blog Reader

    If you are tired of Nextset, honk your horn.

    Brave New World.

  • David

    Honk! Honk!

    There’s a ton of ‘TARP” money for wall street. No strings attached money. They don’t make loans available (the reason they were supposedly given these funds). They rub it our, (i’ll use nextset’s favorite word ‘proletarian’ noses), by giving out six figure bonuses with the ‘TARP’ money.

    Conservatives love seeing other conservatives get rich on the public trough.

    We deficit spend to pay wall street, but the conservatives on Katy’s blog only like cake for the ruling class.

    Well, at least we know where the anonymous conservatives stand.

    and Obama …

    what a failure. Didn’t he promise to elevate Teacher pay to the level of other valued professionals?

    not holding my breath in the ‘Brave New World’

  • Harold

    If you aren’t happy…go find a better paying career.

  • Nextset

    I still am amused at being called a conservative. I used to be liberal once. It really shocks people when a black person doesn’t comform to the plantation songs.

    As if I care.

    There was a time when urban public schools took their students and made them better people and quickly. We need to have that again. Maybe these changes that are coming will actually help.

    We don’t need to spend any more money per child on education. We only need to get our money’s worth for what we do spend.

  • cranky teacher

    “If OEA asks us to strike, I will teach. I absolutely refuse to let my students lose even one day that could get them closer to the opportunities they deserve.”

    Sarah, you are naive and short-term in your thinking.

    I fight for pay raises not for myself — what’s 2% going to do? I’ll just blow it on a restaurant meal! — but for the students.

    Here’s the reality: The biggest killer of OUSD success is turnover of teachers and administrators, especially the loss of the good and great ones. Turnover is NOT just about money, but it is a factor. All factors that can decrease turnover need to be looked at.

    In a district which has a bad rep AND has the lowest pay structure in the area, what is breaking the union and continuing a de facto decade-long freeze on COLA raises going to do for recruitment and retention over the next 5-10 years?

    By saying you would defy solidarity and the union in order to protect a single week of teaching, you expose yourself as a grandstanding newbie.

  • David

    many Teachers (who really needed/wanted to teach) in 1996 didn’t cross the picket lines … they just held classes in other places. On the sidewalk, a couple of Churches, etc.

    Now that’s what i call solidarity!

  • Sara

    What do you all think about substitutes filling in for teachers if they go on strike? The substitutes aren’t getting anything out of all of this except to lose their livelihood, especially since the amount they make depends on how many days they have worked that yearA fter 60 days substitutes get the 152 a day rate but that goes back to the 118 a day at the start of every school year. I don’t see teachers willing to go on strike for subs so why should subs go on strike for teachers? After all, someone has to look after those kids who have to be in school because they have no where else to go if there is a strike. Teachers should be happy someone is willing to do this.

  • David

    OEA bargains for substitute Teachers. We are one.

  • Chrsi G.

    The union is there to represent the teacher and not children.

    Teaching is not a job, its a profession same as a laywer, or accountant. Teachers get paid to work in a profession they chose. No one forced them to get their credentials with a gun to their heads. If I hate my profession, I change it. People with jobs are stuck!

    Many people go into teaching due to the schedules. Think about it. You get 1 week off for thnksgiving, 2 weeks off at Xmas, i week off in April , 2 months off in the summer and a bunch of four day weekends.

    If they want more, they should get longer schedules right?

  • Oakland Teacher

    Anyone who talks about teachers and their schedules does not know what they are talking about. Before I became a teacher, I got paid for every single minute/hour that I worked (and yes, I was a professional). As a teacher, I am paid until 3 p.m. daily, yet I work until at least 4:00 and as late as 6 p.m. I then bring home work nearly every night and always on weekends. I am not paid for any of that. No – no one forced me into my profession, and I love many things about it. But as an Oakland teacher, parent, and citizen – I do not think that Oakland teachers deserve less than the teachers are paid in the other 8 cities in Alameda County.

    My experience last summer: I attended a total of 5 weeks of workshops and continuing education classes at my own expense. I spent at least 2 weeks trying to catch up on “life”, the types of things that normal working people are able to do when working, plus trying to do some preparation for the following year. That left me with about 2 weeks of real vacation time. My “real” hourly wage is probably about $15 hourly when you take into account all of the outside/unpaid work I do. To say I should work a longer schedule is ridiculous! How about paying me for the one I already am working? How about paying me what neighboring cities think their teachers are worth? Do you think Oakland children deserve less?

    One last comment: Oakland teachers spearheaded class size reduction in California during the strike in 1996. We have led many educational reforms as well as tried to protect the needs of our students’ rights to have electives programs, academic counselors, etc…
    Our working conditions are the students’ learning conditions. Very few teachers think only of themselves; that is part of why we do what we do.

  • Union Supporter-but

    Oakland Teacher: Why would you want to waste the money on class size reduction when there is absolutely no benefit to the students, except those living in extreme poverty ($12K for a family of four) or you are at a Basic level in your English Language skills meaning your English vocabulary is under 100 words. Small class size is a feel good thing, not a student educational benefit.

    Oakland teachers did not support separating students by ability grouping for learning even though the studies show this benefits students working at the bottom levels as well as the top.

    And, teachers did not support more indepth advanced learning in math and science during the school day.

    What I see our teachers support is not data / research driven, but feel-good driven to get parental support and to have students like coming to school and like being on campus rather than rigorous learning on campus.

  • Gordon Danning

    Oakland Teacher:

    I confess that I am always befuddled when I hear teachers say that they are “paid to work until 3 pm” but work harder. Teachers are paid a yearly salary, just like lawyers and doctors, and just like lawyers and doctors, we are expected to work until the job is done. It certainly cannot come as a surprise to a teacher that he or she must grade homework and otherwise work outside class time.

    Union Supporter: It is my understanding that you are correct that there is not much evidence that class size reduction, in and of itself, makes much difference. However, class size reduction might be necessary for the implementation of other, highly effective, reforms. For example, I have about 160 students; with that many, it is impossible for me to assign a 5-page essay every week — I wouldn’t have time to grade them and give necessary feedback (160 x 15 minutes per paper = 40 hours of grading per week). With 50 students, I could pull it off. That’s an extreme example, but the basic point remains that class size reduction can be an important step towards improving education, IF it is coupled with more rigorous expectations (for students AND teachers). Admittedly, our union never advocates the second part.

  • Steven Weinberg

    There is considerable evidence that reducing class size does benefit students. The classic study was done in Tennessee in the late 1980s (Spyros Konstantopoulos). The results of last year’s state tests in Oakland confirmed the value of lower class sizes when the middle schools making the greatest gains were all part of the QEIA program, which provided for class size reduction. One can also look at the most expensive private schools, where class sizes are limited to 15 students. Union Supporter-But, please supply sources for your claims made in posting 22.

  • Oakland Teacher

    Gordon,

    Of course it is not a surprise that I need to work longer than the required hours. But there are very few jobs that it is necessary to consistently bring work home at night/weekends. There are very few jobs where you spend your own money to supplement needed supplies or pay for your own computer/printing/ink.

    My response was to the person who stated that teachers have such great hours and vacations, we should be glad to even get paid a low salary. I disagree. I still think Oakland teachers deserve salaries comparable to other school districts.

  • Jim Mordecai

    Posting one regarding money for the charter school office asks why does the District Charter School Office get so much money?

    I believe the answer is because charter school law requires 2% or 3% of the charter school’s yearly income must be provided to the District to pay for oversight of the public money spent by charter schools.

    Whether 2% or 3% is adequate for a District such as Oakland with 32 charter schools to oversee is another question?

    Jim Mordecai

  • Trish Gorham

    “I don’t see teachers willing to go on strike for subs so why should subs go on strike for teachers?”

    That $152.00 pay rate for substitutes was one of the demands teachers were willing to strike for in 2006.
    We won it for you.
    Many subs will go into full time teaching. We are keeping conditions tolerable for you. And all the future teachers who just want to be able to support themselves while being a teacher.

  • oak261

    On the topic of class size reduction not showing the gains expected, here’s an example:

    http://edpro.stanford.edu/hanushek/admin/pages/files/uploads/evidence.size.mayer-peterson.pdf

    Abstract
    While calls to reduce class size in school have considerable popular appeal, the related discussion of the scientific evidence has been limited and highly selective. The evidence about improvements in student achievement that can be attributed to smaller classes turns out to be meager and unconvincing. In the aggregate, pupil-teacher ratios have fallen dramatically for decades, but student performance has not improved. Explanations for these aggregate trends, including more poorly prepared students and the influence of special education, are insufficient to rationalize the overall patterns. International comparisons fail to show any significant improvements from having smaller pupil-teacher ratios. Detailed econometric evidence about the determinants of student performance confirms the general lack of any achievement results from smaller classes. Finally, widely cited experimental evidence actually offers little support forgeneral reductions in class size. In sum, while policies to reduce class size may enjoypopular political appeal, such policies are very expensive and, according to the evidence, quite ineffective.

  • Sara

    Tish, the 152 only kicks in after 60 days which is somewhere in December assuming you can actually get that much work. Even if you are willing to work every single day, the jobs are not there on the system. I check the system every day, multiple times a day and work any grade, any subject. 99% of the time there are no jobs available. The only way I get work is to have teachers who know me contact me personally. What would be wrong with starting out at 152 a day? As for the comment that it “was one of the demands teachers were willing to strike for in 2006″ – Do you mean teachers would would have said ye sto an agreement if that were the only thing not included? I highly doubt it. It was not exactly high priority.

  • Steven Weinberg

    The article cited opposing class size reduction was by Eric Hanushek, who works at the very conservative Hoover Institute. He examined the results of the Tennessee study which showed the benefits of class size reducation and then attempted to minimize them. Of course he is entitled to disagree with most of the analysts who have reviewed that study, but it would be interesting to know how big the class sizes were at the schools his children and the children of the other Hoover Institute big wigs attended. Could it be that they favor large class sizes at school supported by their tax dollars (and the tax dollars of the extremely wealthy who fund the Hoover Institute), but small class sizes at the private schools their own children attend?

  • oakland resident

    Oakland’s Port allows Billions’ worth of merchandise to flow through. The cancer and asthma rates near the ports are higher than almost any part of the country. Truckers and ships endanger mostly African American neighborhoods daily (and the truckers suffer too). Shouldn’t this ton of money at least help make the city’s schools and conditions better? Should the state really burden teachers and students with paying for administrative blunders in budgeting? Is this fair to minority students and committed teachers? How do you justify lowering the bar for educators in one of the hardest places to teach?

  • Let’s Get Real

    Let me make a few common sense points (backed up by personal experience, not research) about class size reduction. 1) A teacher can give more attention to each student when she/he has fewer students, thereby boosting each student’s achievement. 2) In a district like Oakland, where many students come to school with major issues, fewer students generate fewer distractions in the classroom each day, thereby allowing for countless additional hours of instruction over the course of the year. As an elementary teacher who started 21 years ago with 31 students in my class, and who now has 20, I can attest to these differences, and I cannot believe there is an educator out there (who has had recent experience in a public school) who would disagree. I’m sorry, but I cannot take seriously any “expert’s” data who has either not taught under both circumstances, or whose data has not been generated from teachers who have. I’m getting really tired of theorists (often more accurately defined as corporatists) trying to define and establish education policy.

    Also, let’s not forget that academic standards in CA have consistently risen over the last few decades while in some states they have been purposely lowered to meet the demands of NCLB. Looking at test scores alone with no knowledge of the content denies students credit for maintaining–and in some cases even increasing–their scores when presented with tougher material. I’m not saying we should be satisfied with static scores, but we do need to look at the whole picture.

  • Chauncey

    5 weeks of workshops? Cmon!! all unpaid and paid by you. Well then you did it to move up a payscale.

    Teacher schedules are fluff! We all take work home! Most of us HAVE to work year round with 2 weeks of vacation.

    Dont tell me that your schedules arent cake!

  • oak261

    Steven and Let’s Get Real (#30 and #32): I see that you don’t dispute the data in the report I posted on class size reduction (CSR) itself, except perhaps the emphasis in the executive summary.
    Also, I’ll ignore your ad hominem attack on the source of the data.

    A few things are clear: parents like smaller class sizes (yes, rich parents too), and teachers like smaller class sizes. That appears to satisfy many. I too, like so many others, feel that smaller class sizes are better. But that is a fuzzy rationale, and not enough to justify $2 billion per year outlay given how broke we are.

    For something that so many individuals feel in their gut is the right thing to do, because they believe that students will perform better as a result, where is the evidence? I agree with Let’s get Real’s hypothesis, but If it’s going to be a dramatic winner, It should be a no-brainer to prove. Steven, yes, the Tennessee study appears to have shown a cause and effect, but it has not been reproduced in California.

    How much of the recent test score improvements in California are caused by CSR? It is surprising that California embarked on CSR in 1996, and now we’ve spent $10-20 Billion dollars on class size reduction, but the state never spent the small fraction of a percent to determine if the California implementation delivers on the promise of higher academic achievement. Remember, correlation does not imply causation. As far as I can tell, (and despite my personal preference for smaller class size), the correlation is weak at best.

  • walton barnaby

    Simple solution:

    -Give pay raises of $10,000 to every teacher in the district

    -Remove tenure completely so that no one owns their jobs

    That way, we can get rid of the ineffective teachers and hire go-getter teachers who can actually teach our kids

  • Steven Weinberg

    One reason we do not have good data for the effect of class size reduction in California is that when it was enacted it was so popular that it was impossible to establish a control group. When the QEIA program was created several years ago, there was an attempt to create a control group by allowing 1500 schools to qualify for the program and then selecting only 500 to participate so that the other 1000 could act as the control. If QEIA survives the state budget crisis, we might have some firm results.
    It is also interesting to see that even the reduced class sizes in California, 20 students in grades K-3, would be normal class sizes in most other states. For my entire 40 year teaching career, California was noted for its large class sizes.

  • Gordon Danning

    Walton Barnaby:

    When I hear people advocate “doing away with tenure entirely,” I wonder whether they know what that means. In California, a teacher without tenure can be dismissed at the end of the school year for any reason at all, or even for no reason. So, every teacher would live in fear of pissing off the principal, or a district higher-up. Why would anyone take such a job, unless he or she was otherwise unemployable? If you want to make it easier to dismiss teachers for legitimate cause, but to allow dismissal without cause would be counterproductive.

  • Steven Weinberg

    A number of scholars have disputed the data on class size reduction that Oak261 referred to and the interpretation Hanushek placed on it. This link is to a book where both Hanushek and his leading critic Professor Krueger have submitted chapters. Krueger maintains that when Hanushek’s own data is interpreted more carefully, it yields evidence of the effectiveness of smaller class sizes. http://edpro.stanford.edu/hanushek/admin/pages/files/uploads/classsizedebate.full%20volume.pdf

  • Union Supporter-But

    To get the results in the studies on class size reduction, class sizes need to be reduced to 15 students. Reducing from 32 to 20 does not have any significant impact on learning. We have neither the money nor the building space to have ratios of 15 to 1.

    I do agree with Gordon that to be able to correct and turn around student papers/work and have the same number of students per class the teacher needs to be given another prep period or work a longer day.

    At the elementary level, the reduction from 31 to 20 made the union feel good, made the teachers feel good too, but it did not help students meet the higher demands of the state standards. When the union helps teachers get “feel good” items rather than solid researched based (California for California teacher’s union, not a Tennessee study for a California teacher’s union/classroom) the union appears to be protecting teachers interests at the expense of the tax payers and the students who would best be served by research proven teaching methods.

    I believe that many, many teachers are capably, bright, hard-working people who have found a way to reach the vast majority of their students under very adverse situations. When the union dumbs that down to class size or a single prep period or 15 minutes here or there per day, they are making clerks of professionals and they are saying that their small measures account for the same depth of work that teachers do when they analyze their teaching to meet the far-reaching needs of students. They are not the same – not equal and teachers should not be treated like hourly clerks.

  • oak261

    I think it works out to be about $1000 extra per student/year in the reduced class sizes. The benefit is clearly debatable from the previous posts and links.

    Whatever improvement in academic performance might be imparted in a 20 vs 32 student class is probably it concentrated on a fraction of the students in the smaller classes.