Truth in Education
Written by: A former Knox County, Ohio School Board Member
Before I became a school board member I was fairly ignorant of how our educational system worked. I thought everyone in the system had the student’s interests as their main priority. At a town hall I was asked what I thought a good salary was for a teacher. Having come from a work history in my early life where I belonged to unions, I asked what would be a good hourly rate of pay. This means; taking the salary divided by how many hours are worked.
Let’s look at the formula for converting a salary into an hourly rate of pay. The average 40 hour work week comes to 2,000 hours a year plus 80 hours vacation. If I make $50,000 per year divided by 2,080, assuming I get two weeks payed vacation, I get $24.03 per hour. ($50,000 / 2,080)
The state requirement for a teacher to be in the class room is 1,100 hour per year, home school teachers are held to the same standard. Let me make it clear that teachers are government workers; they are paid by the tax payers. In many areas the educational system is the largest employer. And ~70% of property tax goes to the schools.
Let’s go back to the hourly rate of pay for a teacher. Using the above example if a teacher makes $50,000 per year they are making $45.50 per hour ($50,000 / 1,100). Add to this the cost of health care and other perks and it now becomes a very good wage for time worked. I can just see teachers reading this with heads exploding because they stay up all hours of the night grading papers. Let me say that many schools are using I-pads and other computing devices to test students, no need to grade papers any more except maybe an English teacher who has to review subjective material such as essays and book reports.
If you want to know how much the teachers in your district make go to http://treasurer.ohio.gov/Teacher_Salary/-any-/-any-/-any-/-any-/-any-/-any-/-any-
Teachers don’t just get salary pay. They also get “step” raises. This is an automatic raise outside the base salary written into the contract that has a step up in pay every year until the contract is renegotiated.
Administrators can also get pickups. This is the practice of having the tax payers pay the
administrator’s share of his/her Medicare tax, social security tax, retirement, etc. It increases the take home pay by reducing the deductions from the pay check, thereby giving the administrator a tax deductible raise. The public is rarely aware of this perk.
They can also get a raise by getting a master’s degree. This is also a contract item that the school board has no control over. This master’s program has an interesting history. Some years back the state of Ohio made it mandatory that a teacher had to get a master’s degree within 3 years of starting teaching. After some years a study was done and it was determined that having a master’s degree actually made a teacher less effective in the class room. Because of this study the mandatory master’s program was dropped. However many teachers unions still have this clause in their contracts. Yet the teachers’ union is constantly asking for more money and smaller class sizes. Smaller class size equates to more teachers thereby more money being paid by the taxpayers to the unions in the form of increased union dues.
And who do the unions support with donations? The Democratic Party!
Another deceptive practice foisted on the public is the constant message that our children are getting an education at a school that is “excellent”. In the school district that I live in we are always hearing about the excellent job the system is doing educating our kids. This does not agree with the grade the state gives our district which has been a “D” for years. We usually hear about the wonderful job the district is doing when they have a tax levy on the ballot. If you want to know how your district is doing go to https://reportcard.education.ohio.gov/
Since I’ve been retired I’ve been driving Amish to work and students and teachers to school. One day while driving an Amish contractor, we were talking about the public schools compared to the Amish schools. The Amish only go to the 8th grade and then they go to work. Their education must be adequate because they are all employed and function in the English (non-Amish) community with ease.
I looked at a math book while waiting to take a teacher home and noticed the book was copyrighted in 1934. Math doesn’t change, just the way we teach it. One day the contractor asked me “What do you have to know to teach the sixth grade?” After giving him the public school answer of college degrees and teaching certificates, He said to me “ No, graduate from the sixth grade”. After stunned silence I had to agree. It works well for them. Their teachers are taken from the community and also only go to the 8th grade. The school board is made up of elected fathers of the school children. By the way Amish teachers don’t make as much as a person working at McDonalds.
This model works well in the home schooling community as well. Many home school moms don’t have college degrees or teaching certificates, yet their results typically surpass that of the public schools. Home schoolers usually do well on SAT and ACT tests.
Over all our public schools have been falling behind other countries for the last 4 or 5 decades.
In the 1960’s, the United States was in first place in the world in math, science and engineering. Since then we have dropped to 27th, behind some third world countries. Yet the education system seems uninterested in resolving the problem and more interested in changing the rules to cover up past failures.
I came across this quote from David Perkins, Harvard educational researcher.
If we used this method in our schools we would revolutionize education in this country.
“Thinking does not come after Knowledge is learned. Knowledge comes on the coat tails of Thinking. Therefore, instead of knowledge based education, we need thinking centered schools. This is not a luxury, no Utopian vision of sophisticated and elitist education. These are hard facts about how learning works”.
If we are never taught how to think we will never learn to reason. We will never question what we are told in our schools. Sound familiar? Which model do we use teaching to the test? No wonder our graduates can’t understand why socialism has never worked, and capitalism has.
Another issue is who has the most influence on our children? Studies show that the average child spends less than 20 minutes of conversation face to face with a parent per day. They have at least 6 hours sitting under teachers in the school system. Who is shaping our children’s world view? It used to be that children were taught reading, writing and arithmetic. They are now being indoctrinated with social engineering, political correctness and gender confusion.
It’s obvious that our educational system is failing our students. This can be seen in colleges that are now 5 years instead of 4. The extra time is needed to provide remedial education to qualify for entrance.
So what can an individual do to change this failing system? Understand that the quality of your child’s education is not dependent on how much pay the teachers receive. We now spend more money per pupil than any other country in the world and we keep falling farther behind.
Hold your school board responsible for your school’s performance. The school board has two constituent groups: the students and the tax payers. The teachers and administrators are employees of the school board, no more and no less. The Ohio School Board Association (OSBA) is an organization that purports to guide board members in the performance of their duties. They instead tell board members to let the administrators and teachers run the school and not to ask too many questions. They call asking too many questions “Micro Managing” the school system.How is a board member supposed to know what’s going on in the schools if they aren’t intimately aware of the intricacies of the system?
Let me say here that I am opposed to standardized tests. This process has some built in flaws. First, why do we have to compare all schools to each other? If we want to have students learning the same subjects then have a common curriculum and teach it. When we were first in the world we were tested on how well we knew the curriculum, not how well we compared with other schools. The standard was, learn the curriculum, not test to the standards.
Secondly, standards can be lowered to make the system look better than it is. I suspect this has been going on for some time. It would explain how kids graduate every year but over time learn less. Then there is the issue of what is a passing score. The California achievement test has a pass threshold of 20%. If you pass it doesn’t mean you have a good grasp of the curriculum.
So why do we hang our educational hat on standardized testing instead of testing to the curriculum? We have built an industry around our public education system that needs constant feeding from the tax payers.
Last but not least; promote competition in education. Monopolies get lazy and indifferent. They tend to be go-along to get along and focus on their pay. Encourage charter schools that are held accountable to performance. Encourage home schooling. The Public School System says that when children do well, it’s because of the System’s proficiency, and when the kids don’t do well it’s because of the child’s bad home life.
Promote a system of teacher accountability. There are good teachers and not so good teachers. Learn the difference and pressure the administration to replace the bad ones.
When they say “it’s all about the kids”, look on it with a jaundiced eye. It’s usually about the adults in the system and their pay.
(LFC Comments: We have edited the items in bold type to emphasize the importance of the thought.)