13 Replies to “Edujob – Analyst Slot @Bellwether”

  1. Looking for math and physics teachers. You are desperately needed to move this country into the 21st century, cure poverty, bring back jobs to this country, and restore the profession of teaching. We want self starters with the initiative to do it all, all of the time, and perfectly. We know you are the most important part of any school, and we pay for it. Just look at our benefits.

    Pay and Benefits: We pay a competitive salary of 1/10 of an education consultant, with a year by year contract, poor, dirty working conditions, and yearly arbitrary performance reviews that will be published in newspapers. You will spend your day with adolescents and angry parents. You will receive little or no support and will be on call 24/7.

    Other benefits: The soul satisfying feeling that you are doing good for others including the edu-bureaucracy.

    Who can spell adverse selection? It is now an established truth. Those the farthest from the most needed and critical jobs in education, math and physics, are paid comparatively the least.

    Even the military would NOT do this.

  2. “Most”

    The talent we need the most we do not treat well or pay well.

    Chronic shortages in these specialities are signals from markets. Pay is too low.

  3. Aren’t the unions opposes to paying Math and Science teachers (e.g. Physics teacher) more money to ensure that the quality of Math and Science candidates is commensurate with the market opportunities offered to them outside of teaching?

  4. Actually Matt, the wealthy and conservative have convinced most voters to not raise the funds for teachers. And besides, we can always thieve grad students from other countries, for now. You can’t blame the unions for everything–save some blame for the misinformed and greedy.

  5. But the unions do oppose differential pay based on the subject taught, correct? I’m trying to address the OP’s point about why there is a deficit of qualified math and physics teachers relative to teachers in other subject areas. Research suggests this may have to do with wage frictions induced by rigid salary schedules that do not account for the “market demand” of those graduating with degrees in STEM subjects.

  6. Matt:

    I can’t answer your questions about unions but there are plenty of non-union states that have the same issues with attracting science teachers. Texas, for example, is not any kind of hot-spot for science education and there are no unions here or barriers to paying more for science teachers.

    It comes down to job prospects. Students who get undergrad degrees in biology or chemistry or other STEM fields have plenty of prospects for jobs or further training opportunities in healthcare, food science, environmental management, pharmaceuticals, etc. In fact a lot of science teachers were thinking pre-med in college and wound up teaching because they realized they weren’t up for that demanding of a track.

    On the other hand, students who study English or History in college. The really bright ones might go on to get PhDs in their field and land one of the few tenure track teaching jobs that pop up each year around the country. The rest? Well….its either teaching or maybe cave and go back for that MBA. And frankly, a HUGE number are also women who have married husbands who have higher paying professional jobs and they do teaching because it is a convenient profession to do wherever they end up landing with their husband. My school is always cycling through female teachers who quit because they are following their husbands on some job transfer. Three female teachers on my hallway are doing that right now and we’re having their farewell party next week.

    Male teachers tend not to migrate so much unless they are coaches in which case they tend to work their way up the ladder from school to school until they finally land that head coaching or AD job.

  7. Kent, I agree 100 percent with your assessment at a macro level. Though, I wouldn’t be too quick to dismiss the impact of unionization even in states that do not bargain collectively. There’s some fairly convincing research in economics that suggests collective bargaining has spillover effects into non-bargaining jurisdictions. Hence, why you still see fairly rigid salary schedules used in non-unionized states like Texas. But, on the whole, I agree with you that it’s a complicated issue. I just think the unions shoot themselves in the foot when they oppose commonsense pay reforms such as market-based pay that acknowledges that college graduates with STEM degrees have better job prospects than their non-STEM peers.

  8. Folks, all valid points here.

    But aren’t we once again putting the cart of sexy STEM-inspired edreform about three advanced degrees ahead of the pokey pony of quotidian edureality?

    Case in point: ever met a math or physycs person who couldn’t read or write?

    Me neither.

    The problem isn’t that we lack math and and sci folks willing to work in schools. The problem is that we fail to produce enough of these brilliant and desperately needed people because we refuse to implement effective early learning approaches to literacy.

    Gotta walk before we can run. Gotta read and write before we can tackle Linear Algebra and Feynman diagrams.

    The problem seems complex and intractable until we realize just how simple it truly is.

  9. “There’s some fairly convincing research in economics that suggests collective bargaining has spillover effects into non-bargaining jurisdictions.” True. And we find that across career categories. Do away with collective bargaining, and the theory is that wages will be depressed across the nation–and this would be as true for steel workers as teachers.

    “I just think the unions shoot themselves in the foot when they oppose commonsense pay reforms such as market-based pay that acknowledges that college graduates with STEM degrees have better job prospects than their non-STEM peers.”

    Perhaps. But you have to understand that were the unions to relinquish their current structure, they would never get it back. If you live in the real world, the unions and their members will never, ever, voluntarily give up hard-won gains. Seriously, you’d have to be nuts to expect unions to back down. That’s why right-wing Governors in Wisc and Indiana have tried to delegitimize unions by any means possible. You also have to realize that because education in America is a political matter, voters do not respond to what you would call market forces the way a completely privatized business enterprise would. Get it? The marketplace for public servants is different. Thus, the unions are stuck and so are we all in the way we currently do education in America. When teacher salaries are tied to voter sentiment rather than supply and demand, you will not find talent moving into teaching and neither will we find any kind of reform being effective.

    Not that I support market solutions, mind you. Finland stands out as a case in point. The Finns have shown the power of cooperation to be stronger than competition in educational economics, not to mention, test score outcomes. Turns out, the Finns have done rather well in technology as a result. Further, we in the knowledge business would be admittedly reluctant to admit STEM teaching jobs are “worth” more than history or arts teaching gigs. Matt, you can insist and even support the notion that STEM jobs are indeed worth more in the current marketplace but that does not mean anything apart from current time and fashion. If you want to generate more of those folks, money won’t do it and neither will unions loosening their rules. That’s not why we don’t have more STEM teachers of quality. We don’t have enough scientists, mathematicians, and engineers, period. It’s not what Americans value, let’s be honest here. We love our tech toys but, it’s much more profitable to go into hedge fund management or set our sights lower, hoping that celebrity will save our souls, or at least, our careers. Neil Postman, many years ago, saw the writing on the wall: http://www.amazon.com/Amusing-Ourselves-Death-Discourse-Business/dp/014303653X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1338014291&sr=1-1 and now, we are living in Postman’s world.

  10. I am a university lab set up guy. Hold double degrees in math and physics and a master’s in atmospheric physics.

    I retired from the Navy: Nuke submariner. Moved from division officer, to department head, to executive officer.

    What is going on in education right now is entire chaos. It is driven by incompetents. Math and science ARE suffering.

    Pay and incentives are the solution. My Navy paid its nuke enlisted a bundle and for a good reason. They would NOT stay if we did not.

    It is NO different for math and science teachers. We need to pay them more right now, and we need to differentiate our pay scales for the SCARCE skill sets.

    So, where do we get the money for this bold move? Let’s ask Michelle Rhee that mountain of dough she is sitting on, or any of the other non-profit edu-bureacracies.

    More pay now. Rational people do not want bromides. They want incentives. They do not want punishment now, with the distant promise of pay later. They know that is pure baloney.

    If you want intelligent people teaching the REAL subjects, then you will have to TREAT THEM WELL.

    Simple really. So why does it escape the edu-bureaucracy? Simple really. They were NEVER the sharpest sticks in the pile.

    One last note to the edu-bureaucracy. Our nation does not need you. Using the Pareto rationale, you are not NEAR THE LOCUS OF THE PROBLEM. You are distant staffers. You are not making the day to day mission critical decisions. You are not even dial twiddlers, radar geeks, or cooks. You are the hangers on.

    As to the economists: We do not need you either. We need more research into the psychology of adolescents and how they learn. We do not need more lame edu-research. We do not need more widget counting. We need more BEHAVIORAL ECONOMICS.

    Frankly, the edu-leadership is not suited for the job. If you want to run a LWR bring in a trained operator, not a beautician.

  11. Where is Mr. Wallace right now.

    He was that hero of Michelle Rhee who had absolutely no regard for his own health, or personal life. She said he was what was needed RIGHT now in the classroom.

    As a former XO of the navy fighting vessel I was concerned when my enlisted or officers worked too hard. I did not want mono-maniacal subordinate. The Navy needs balanced, dedicated, skilled, sailors. Honor, commitment, and courage.

    And when I worked in the private sector and when I took my university job they asked me what I did in my spare time. I did not say, “I do nothing. All I do is work, work, work, work, work, work. And I never wash my clothes. All I think about all of the time is work, work, work, work. I do not shower. I do not wash my clothes. I cannot remember the last time I had a personal life. I would die for this job.”

    So, why are the edu-reformers, so loathe to teach in the first place, looking for the mono-maniacal teacher? They are clueless that is why. They are looking for extremely talented people who will work for free.

    MIght a well ask for an unlimited supply of money.

  12. When my children were in high school I spent time meeting their teachers and I also go to know the bureaucracy and how it worked. I was on a few parent committees.

    My reflections are these. The leadership is clueless. They pander. They patronize. They are unctuous. What I did discover was that they have MUCH MORE POWER than one would think.

    They had the ability to investigate poor teaching, discipline poor teaching, and with relative ease, make teacher’s job so unpleasant that they would quit within a year. The power is there.

    The anti-union folks make a pretty lame argument. They claim that dismissal protocols and pay reform cannot occur without their full takeover of the system. Baloney.

    In my district, they unilaterally voted to give math and science teachers a hiring bonus and a longevity bonus. I was in on that decision. That was back in 2005. The union rubber stamped it. When that decision was made, we did not even bother to ask the union. We just did it.

    These are facts. It can be done. I saw little or no interference from unions while I served on these committees. I did come away with two distinct impressions though: 1. Teachers will never get any peace or appreciation; 2. Their bosses are nincompoops who are endlessly dodging accountability.

    BTW, I never asked to help my son’s math or science teacher. I simply tutored at home. They were average teachers. But that was plenty. Both of my children graduated from the University of California with degrees in science.

    In retrospect, I ought to open my wallet and send all of my child’s math and science teachers a big fat check. If I only had the money.

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