Transgender Restroom Debate And Schools, Pension Costs And Teacher Pay, Harvard’s Club Scene, Campus Speech, Ben Riley Has A Clicker! ESAs, WI English Prof On The Go, Parenting Today, And More!

Chad Aldeman has an important new analysis of how pension debt affects teacher salaries. Here’s the The Atlantic on the new analysis and some of the issues it points up. The entire paper is here (pdf).

So overall expenditures are up, but teacher salaries are actually down slightly over the same period. Today, the average public school teacher earns $56,689 annually, a couple hundred dollars less than the average teacher salary 20 years ago (in constant dollars).

Why is this happening? This puzzle can be explained by three trends eating into teachers’ take- home pay: rising health care costs, declining student/teacher ratios, and rising retirement costs…

It’s counterintuitive, but rising teacher retirement costs have not translated into better teacher retirement bene ts. That’s because 90 percent of public school teachers are enrolled in de ned bene t pension plans where a teacher’s retirement bene t is based on a formula, not on contributions into the plan. In fact, at the same time retirement contributions are at an all-time high, states are actively cutting bene ts, and the majority of contributions into teacher pension plans today are going to pay down existing debt. Today, states are paying an average of 12 percent of each teacher’s salary just for debt costs. If states didn’t face these large debts, they could a ord to give that money back to teachers in the form of higher salaries—an average of $6,801 for every public school teacher in America.

As you may have heard, the Obama Administration issued a guidance letter today on transgender students and restrooms. Hot issue lately. Keep in mind that for the most part the kids seem to be way ahead of the adults on this one. Unfortunately with some of the rhetoric you wouldn’t realize we were talking about a policy affecting kids. And aah Texas…..big issue in Texas.

Ben Riley on the science of learning and cheesy kickers. Whatever you think of ESA’s as a mechanism they seem to single an unbundling trend in education that bears watching.

University of Wisconsin Madison English chair on why she’s leaving the school:

I myself am now leaving the University of Wisconsin after 14 years. At my new university in another state, I will have stronger tenure protections than I now have here. I will earn about 50 percent more than my current salary for the same job. And I will be free from the strange crazy-making double-speak that on one hand demands that higher education deliver value like a business, and on the other hand, methodically prevents it from doing so.

Michael Bloomberg and Charles Koch on free speech on campus:

During college commencement season, it is traditional for speakers to offer words of advice to the graduating class. But this year the two of us—who don’t see eye to eye on every issue—believe that the most urgent advice we can offer is actually to college presidents, boards, administrators and faculty.

Our advice is this: Stop stifling free speech and coddling intolerance for controversial ideas, which are crucial to a college education—as well as to human happiness and progress…

…The continued march of justice and progress depends on free speech, open minds and rational discourse. Colleges and universities—and those who hold their degrees—have helped lead the way for most of this nation’s history. The well-being of future generations of Americans depends on the preservation of that great legacy.

MA high school student on inclusiveness:

 It’s the common things that allow us to have empathy and compassion for others—and these are the emotions that make inclusion easy. If we can look into the eyes of a tiger, a seal, or a gorilla and feel empathy and compassion, it is because we’re noticing how like us they are. So we should all the more be able to look into the eyes of a stranger, a teacher, or a classmate, with consummate compassion, empathy, and human delight.

And yet we are so often unable to do so (as I often am). Why? I want to argue that, ironically, it’s because of a popular rhetoric for inclusion.

In case you missed it,  new Whiteboard Advisors Education Insider survey data (pdf). And in U.S. News I took a look at Harvard’s new single gender policy and whether it’s part of a trend. Interesting conversation about this with a colleague today who made the point that colleges are places that are at the vanguard of values and should make statements and stands on things like this. I think that’s right but the students should take it upon themselves to do that not look to the administration. Freedom of association also carries the freedom to disassociate and to organize – for instance to organize to protest these organizations or, for instance, for Harvard’s athletes to make a stand themselves rather than have one created by the administration. They could hire the University of Missouri’s football players as consultants…Here’s Charles Lane on the same issue.

Parenting today?

Think about it. As a kid, what was your costume for Halloween? If you were really lucky, your mom jabbed a pair of scissors in an old sheet, cut two eye holes, and you were a ghost. If her friend was coming over to frost her hair and showed up early, you got one eye hole cut and spent the next 45 minutes using a sharp stick to jab a second hole that was about two inches lower than its partner. I watched my cousin run directly into a parked car due to this very costume one year. He was still yelling, “Trick or Treat” as he slid down the rear quarter panel of a Buick, mildly concussed. When my son was 3 years old, we had a clown costume made by a seamstress, complete with pointy clown hat, and grease makeup. His grandmother spent more having that costume made than she did on my prom dress.

At some point in the last 25 years, the tide shifted and the parents started getting the marginal cars and the cheap clothes while the kids live like rock stars.

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