Idea: Longer School Days

Editor's Note: On February 6, we asked BlueOregon readers to suggest progressive ideas that the next Oregon Legislature should enact. Over the next several weeks, we'll post some of these ideas here - and ask you to discuss them. Good idea? Bad idea? Any suggestions?

From Jenni Simonis:

Increase the length of the school day

I think the legislature should look seriously at increasing the length of the school day. The current school day in Oregon is too short. Combined with a shortened school year, it's no wonder that our students aren't learning enough.

You can increase the length of the school day with minimal inpact on your budget-- you don't add on any more to/from school bus trips, no extra cafeteria shifts, no extra lesson plans for teachers, etc. You could probably even get the majority of the staff to work without extra pay-- they'd end up taking less work home each night, they'd get to spend more time on lessons and with their students, etc. You would need to pay the hourly employees like secretaries, though.

Almost everyone I talk to who comes to Oregon from other states are shocked at how short the school day is here. Based on Gresham Barlow, I went to school more than an hour more than the students do in this district.

Discuss.

[If you have your own original progressive idea to propose, do it here: "There oughta be a law."]

Comments

  • (Show?)

    I've written about European school days here before. Students start at 8 and end around 5 or 6 at night. On average, they attend class between 32-38 hours per week. But students often have 1-2 hour breaks in between classes at random times throughout the week. This allows kids to study or socialize.

    Back here in the U.S., we shuttle kids out of school at 2:30 so they can run around the malls, smoke pot and work some piss ant job. I know, cause that's what I did. I enjoyed my schooling in Europe cause I actually learned something and I finished class right when it was time to go home, eat and finish up my homework before going to bed.

    Our system leaves an entire afternoon open for kids to engage in some really dumb activities. The European system forces kids to study, play sports or just hang out in a constructive manner throughout the day. And since parents in both societies work until 5 or 6, we need a way to manage our kids' time until then.

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    Jenni, Thank you for the discussion. On my list, is year around usage of school buildings for instruction. There are not many very expensive buildings (either in private sector or public) which sit idle for the length of time as school buildings. In Oregon, just this year, there will be close to $1 Billion in bonds for additional classrooms. Year around use of school would immediately save much of this cost. This concept is used successfully in many parts of the U.S. While some students would be on a schedule track of normal summer break, others would have a winter break schedule. Families would schedule their students on the same summer or winter track if desired for vacations or work.

  • Charlie in Gresham (unverified)
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    In the 50's when I attended the PPS at good ol' Kellogg we arrived at school at 8:30 and were dismissed at 3:00. In the 60's at good ol' Franklin HS we arrived at 8am and were dismissed at 3:30.

    If the hours are much different today I'm sure it's because the very powerful teachers union has spent three decades shortening them.

    Of course, back in the 50's and 60's there was not a powerful statewide teachers union. Teachers were professionals not blue collar (yes they dress like Teamsters) union members.

  • (Show?)

    I would think most parents - especially of younger kids - would be thrilled with a longer school day. Their kids are learning more and they don't have to worry about afternoon transportation or daycare. Kids being occupied from 3:00-5:00 means fewer kids getting in trouble - and fewer kids just sitting around watching TV/playing video games. As adults we work 8 hour days and kids have far more energy than we do. I'm all for it.

    The one of the extra hours could be spent as a study hall (and prep hour for teachers) so that kids can actually get their homework done without the distractions of, well, of being at home. I've heard parents complain about the enormous amounts of homework their kids come home with - this would help alleviate that problem as well. The only people I can see complaining about this are the kids... it's a good thing we don't let them vote. ;-) Great idea, Jenni.

  • mrfearless47 (unverified)
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    bailie writes about year-around schools:

    "cost. This concept is used successfully in many parts of the U.S. While some students would be on a schedule track of normal summer break, others would have a winter break schedule. Families would schedule their students on the same summer or winter track if desired for vacations or work."

    The biggest and most costly experiment of this type in the US has been in California. I have a sister and two brothers-in-law who teach in California public schools (one each in elementary, middle, and high school). As each has told me separately, California is abandoning this model for a simpler system that staggers the start of the school year by about a month for different groups of students. The "year round" concept created so many scheduling headaches and conflicts between parents, students, and schools (e.g. one child in a school that has traditional summers off, while a child in a different level school has winters off). This seemed to be an unavoidable problem because the crowding was nearly universal in lower and middle schools, but significantly less pressing at high schools. Since all middle schools eventually funnel to a high school, these anomalies were occurring way too regularly. Similarly, for families where both spouses were teachers at different schools, the prospect for no overlapping vacation time presented some real challenges. In the end, California has decided to phase out year-around schools because of the logical nightmares they create for schools, students, families, and teachers.

    I'm all in favor of lengthening the school day or slightly extending the school year, but don't see year-round schools as the solution to any extant problem.

  • Baillie (unverified)
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    mrfearless47,

    Thank you.

    You say, ""California is abandoning this model for a simpler system that staggers the start of the school year by about a month for different groups of students."

    Does that schedule utilize the buildings more efficiently than we do in Oregon (it seems that it would)? That is the main thrust of what I would like. Two to three months vacancy each year for $Billions worth of buildings should at least be seriously discussed.

  • LT (unverified)
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    B--do they have "community schools" where you live? Where I live there have been many programs over the years (program is decades old and has changed over time) where everything from various types of classes (college to adult ed of the more recreational sort without college credit) to public forums to community group meetings to musical group rehearsal occupy school buildings at night. Or were you only talking about daytime in the summer? Is every school building in your district air conditioned, or are some of the older buildings very hot in the summer time? Or are you suggesting it is OK for kids to be in unairconditioned buildings in the middle of summer?

    Once upon a time (about 1993) I had a pen pal who was living alone (a divorced man with grown children) and he complained to me about those lazy teachers who he was convinced arrived at school at 8 AM and left at 3, based only on his experience driving by a local school and seeing how many cars were in the parking lot. And he would write me bitter letters about those overpaid, underworked teachers.

    Then he married a younger woman with 2 kids--think they were 12 and 14 or something like that. A month or so later I got a letter raving about how bright the teacher was at the parent-teacher conference at 7:15 AM.

    In the large urban district where I live, there are high schools that start at 7:40 and get out at 2:15, middle schools that go from 8:10-2:40, and elementary schools that go from 9:15 to 3:30. Hate to break it to all you "all the teachers union's fault" folks, but I suspect that is done so the same set of busses can be used for all levels of students.

    But if I were empowered to change anything, it would be to start high school later. Studies have shown that high school students need sleep and may not be totally awake in those early classes. If some of them work afternoons or evenings (or are the oldest of several kids with 2 working parents and have responsibilities for child care of the younger ones), all the more reason to start high school at a more reasonable hour.

    When I was in high school, there were students from a rural area who spent up to 1.5 hours on a bus --one way--to get to our school. Which meant they got on/ off the bus in the dark for part of the school year. Different schools have different situations, and it is tough to come up with blanket policies for "the public schools" without looking at such logistics.

    As far as year round school is concerned, it has been tried here in Oregon but parents don't always like it. Even with "year round" schools there are the same number of school days but longer breaks and perhaps going into July and having some of the summer weeks off for summer vacations, because it is too hot if the buildings are not air conditioned,etc.

    Beyond those conditions, the certification laws in this state require continuing education. Not every teacher lives within commuting distance of a college campus. Teachers go to summer school (on their own expense unless the district has a tuition-reimbursment fund or something). If there were year round school, how would teachers do the continuing education?

    Of course, all of that is logistics. When I was in elementary school and again when I was in high school, I walked to school. In 7th and 8th grade we lived out in the country and I rode a school bus. In the suburb where I went to elementary school in the Midwest, it was a custom that every child’s parents would invite their child’s teacher for lunch once during the year. But then, in the suburbs of the 1950s, most mothers didn’t work. And I didn’t eat school lunch as an elementary school student—I walked home the several blocks for lunch. (Once a snowstorm got worse while I was home for lunch and I didn’t go back that afternoon.)

    My point is this: there are reports that it is tough to find qualified math and science teachers in this country who really know their field. Some on this topic seem to be implying we would be better off it there were no collective bargaining laws for teachers. What would happen then-teachers individually negotiate contracts with districts? Or teachers working on a month-to-month basis for districts where they could be fired at will if a parent complained about anything or a teacher took a controversial stand? Why would that provide a quality education? Is there significant public support for that attitude? Should only private sector employees be allowed to sign employment contracts?

    If those who complain about the teachers union have a proposal for eliminating the collective bargaining laws, put that forward. But explain why teachers who could work in other fields or in other states would want to work in Oregon. And exactly how would those collective bargaining laws be repealed given Supreme Court decisions about honoring contracts?

    Or do you have no positive proposals and just want to complain? If so, let's talk about utilization of other district resources. Why don’t small town school and public libraries work together? Is that because of complaints by the teachers union, or because of local adults who don’t have kids and want their own place where they don’t have to deal with noisy teenagers and younger kids?

  • LT (unverified)
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    B--do they have "community schools" where you live? Where I live there have been many programs over the years (program is decades old and has changed over time) where everything from various types of classes (college to adult ed of the more recreational sort without college credit) to public forums to community group meetings to musical group rehearsal occupy school buildings at night. Or were you only talking about daytime in the summer? Is every school building in your district air conditioned, or are some of the older buildings very hot in the summer time? Or are you suggesting it is OK for kids to be in unairconditioned buildings in the middle of summer?

    Once upon a time (about 1993) I had a pen pal who was living alone (a divorced man with grown children) and he complained to me about those lazy teachers who he was convinced arrived at school at 8 AM and left at 3, based only on his experience driving by a local school and seeing how many cars were in the parking lot. And he would write me bitter letters about those overpaid, underworked teachers.

    Then he married a younger woman with 2 kids--think they were 12 and 14 or something like that. A month or so later I got a letter raving about how bright the teacher was at the parent-teacher conference at 7:15 AM.

    In the large urban district where I live, there are high schools that start at 7:40 and get out at 2:15, middle schools that go from 8:10-2:40, and elementary schools that go from 9:15 to 3:30. Hate to break it to all you "all the teachers union's fault" folks, but I suspect that is done so the same set of busses can be used for all levels of students.

    But if I were empowered to change anything, it would be to start high school later. Studies have shown that high school students need sleep and may not be totally awake in those early classes. If some of them work afternoons or evenings (or are the oldest of several kids with 2 working parents and have responsibilities for child care of the younger ones), all the more reason to start high school at a more reasonable hour.

    When I was in high school, there were students from a rural area who spent up to 1.5 hours on a bus --one way--to get to our school. Which meant they got on/ off the bus in the dark for part of the school year. Different schools have different situations, and it is tough to come up with blanket policies for "the public schools" without looking at such logistics.

    As far as year round school is concerned, it has been tried here in Oregon but parents don't always like it. Even with "year round" schools there are the same number of school days but longer breaks and perhaps going into July and having some of the summer weeks off for summer vacations, because it is too hot if the buildings are not air conditioned,etc.

    Beyond those conditions, the certification laws in this state require continuing education. Not every teacher lives within commuting distance of a college campus. Teachers go to summer school (on their own expense unless the district has a tuition-reimbursment fund or something). If there were year round school, how would teachers do the continuing education?

    Of course, all of that is logistics. When I was in elementary school and again when I was in high school, I walked to school. In 7th and 8th grade we lived out in the country and I rode a school bus. In the suburb where I went to elementary school in the Midwest, it was a custom that every child’s parents would invite their child’s teacher for lunch once during the year. But then, in the suburbs of the 1950s, most mothers didn’t work. And I didn’t eat school lunch as an elementary school student—I walked home the several blocks for lunch. (Once a snowstorm got worse while I was home for lunch and I didn’t go back that afternoon.)

    My point is this: there are reports that it is tough to find qualified math and science teachers in this country who really know their field. Some on this topic seem to be implying we would be better off it there were no collective bargaining laws for teachers. What would happen then-teachers individually negotiate contracts with districts? Or teachers working on a month-to-month basis for districts where they could be fired at will if a parent complained about anything or a teacher took a controversial stand? Why would that provide a quality education? Is there significant public support for that attitude? Should only private sector employees be allowed to sign employment contracts?

    If those who complain about the teachers union have a proposal for eliminating the collective bargaining laws, put that forward. But explain why teachers who could work in other fields or in other states would want to work in Oregon. And exactly how would those collective bargaining laws be repealed given Supreme Court decisions about honoring contracts?

    Or do you have no positive proposals and just want to complain? If so, let's talk about utilization of other district resources. Why don’t small town school and public libraries work together? Is that because of complaints by the teachers union, or because of local adults who don’t have kids and want their own place where they don’t have to deal with noisy teenagers and younger kids?

  • John Bromley (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Wait a minute. The idea of longer school days is great, but you hope that teachers will not demand to get more pay, if they have to work longer hours.

    I think you are wrong there. If you ask teachers to work longer hours, then you should pay them more! We are not going to be able to make much improvements in our schools without more money.

  • The Siksiyou Skewer (unverified)
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    I have an idea: let's try to get something for nothing!

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    I agree, teachers (or administration, or classified) will not give extra time unless compensated. It is only natural and not unrealistic.

  • Jim (unverified)
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    There is an extensive body of work assessing what it would take for young people in Oregon to be successful in their education. I don’t immediately see that this was reviewed before coming up with this idea of longer school days. I believe that such a review would greatly inform this discussion.

    Community voices — young and old — have in the past debated the suggestion of lengthening school days. They imbedded their conclusion within a considerably broader set of strategies that are all needed if we are to expect results.

    In a past life I was responsible for overseeing several public policy development initiatives for children and families in Multnomah County. One such effort looked into creating educational success for youth, and the report is still available 6 years later here, among other places. Most of it is still quite relevant, imho.

    Although a suggestion to increase instruction time was one of many recommendations in this report, it called for specific new programs before school, after school, and during the summer, for a very specific subset of youth who would most benefit from this. In other words, a one size fits all recommendation for extending school days was rejected, and replaced by something that would cost us more, albeit well worth the investment.

    Again it’s important to note here that this report captured the views of the likely suspect VIPs, but also the views of young people who are often not adequately consulted when debating educational policy, so they said.

    Finally, it might be useful to note a few of the opinions given for why NOT to expand school days. Some students said that more hours of irrelevancy would not help anything, and people who truly want to help would better spend their energies making schools more relevant to youth. Some said that school was not a safe place for them, and that more hours of insecurity did not seem wise. Others said that they were employed outside of school hours — at times being a primary bread winner for their families — and that a longer school day would mean that more students in poverty would need to drop out of school so their families might survive.

    Also, several district superintendents noted that a school (the physical plant) that is open and operating costs more per hour to run than one that is closed with the lights out. They had compelling, hard numbers. Each superintendent asked that we investigate sources of increased operating costs before suggesting expanded hours, understanding that this would stop the topic dead in its tracks.

    All in all, my main point is to urge that we at least consider existing work before proposing new solutions that may really not be so new.

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    LT, Interesting comments. I have no problem with collective bargaining when both sides have equal power and purpose. The situation in Oregon has evolved unequally. There is no way that a volunteer school board can stand up to the relentless economic and social pressure of the education unions (OEA and OSEA). No responsible school board is willing to hold students hostage. The unions have shown a willingness to do whatever it takes to promote the welfare of members at the expense of students. Ideally, special interest groups interests would coincide with the interest of students and the community. Unfortunately, this is not the case. That is why we are in the financial bind for K-12 funding. Oregon has historically funded education very well (considerably better than Washington as an example), but it is never enough to satisfy the special interest groups. We now have among the highest individually compensated K-12 employees in the U.S., which haven't produced corresponding academic results. The high individual compensation has starved districts in the ability to hire more teachers, expand the school year and have complete programs.

  • jrw (unverified)
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    LT hit the big angle right on the head about longer school days--it's the bus schedules.

    Bus scheduling drives the times at the middle school where I work. We've talked about what would happen if the middle school and the elementary school were to switch times, but it wouldn't accomodate kindergarten.

    As for Bailie...well, as usual, you seem to want to vilify teachers and get something for nothing. Remember, teachers are working on a 10 month contract and are literally paid by the day. Those times we're not in school...we're not being paid. It's possible to have a check every month, but it's the same amount of money split up over 12 months instead of 10 months.

    Other issues with longer school days do include curriculum. Now maybe we could find the money to finance re-including technology, arts, and practical classes back in the school day. But some folks in the midst of all of this craze to get all kids to a level where they can enter college need to stop and remember it's out of the reach of many youths due to various limitations which aren't their fault. What's falling by the wayside these days are good, solid, vocational alternatives which along with literacy prepare students to be contributing members of society...unless they're in special ed.

  • LT (unverified)
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    B-- There is no way that a volunteer school board can stand up to the relentless economic and social pressure of the education unions (OEA and OSEA). You make an assumption that the school boards fight the union and parents are not involved. That is a flawed assumption where I live. It wasn't the union which decided to cut elementary music programs (in a way that offended parents which formed a coalition including a local music store) and then scheduled the school board meeting in a building with no overflow rooms so that when there was a capacity crowd they ended up in the parking lot. It was not a union idiot who then locked the door. It was a parent who called the authorities and said "we've been locked out of a public meeting" and the authorities came, demanded that the doors be unlocked, and someone from district personnel make sure those who wanted to testify had a chance and those who were outdoors when their names were called would be notified to come in and testify. In a bureaucratic nightmare (of the sort that was much worse in the Katrina situation) there were district personnel who claimed "by the time we saw the newspaper ad, it was too late to move the meeting". The newspaper editorialized that the school district had done the wrong thing by locking out the parents. I know from one of the parents involved that this sudden cut of elementary music (later turned out there was money in the reserves to cover it) had been a topic of conversation among concerned parents for a long time--but the district personnel were too out of touch to know that.

    And then, the board gave raises to administrators while holding a hard line on teacher salaries--how dare they complain they'd worked days without pay in the life of the previous contract when there was a budget dispute. And then it came out that there was a reserve fund that the citizen budget committee didn't know about. The public (incl. some stores which posted signs in their windows) got angry at the board--esp. over a bonus for the supt. who ended up donating it to a literacy program, and after other public concerns announced pending retirement. And then when a school board member said publicly "maybe we made a mistake" he was publicly castigated for speaking out "without approval of the other board members". That caused such outrage that the end result was no incumbent running for re-election in the last school board meeting. There was a very intelligent debate in the library lecture hall among all school board candidates (as someone said "not a joke on that stage, all serious candidates") --more intelligent than most debates we have seen from legislators. And it was rebroadcast multiple times on local cable access. We now have a school board where a majority is new members, incl. the vice chair. I have even had email exchanges and a grocery store parking lot conversation with one of the new school board members. What a concept--citizens talking directly to school board members! Are you saying none of that happened because the unions are so powerful no school board in this state can keep up with them? Or is that just ideology based on actual school boards you have known?

    Are you saying that anyone who was offended by the administrator raises while district management wanted to hold the line on teacher salaries -- to the point of putting a "support Salem-Keizer teachers" sign in the window -- is somehow a dupe of the teacher's union because all school boards are infallible?

  • Randy2 (unverified)
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    Cheap shot, Charlie:

    "Of course, back in the 50's and 60's there was not a powerful statewide teachers union. Teachers were professionals not blue collar (yes they dress like Teamsters) union members"

    In the 50s and 60s my parents were teachers. They were paid lower blue collar wages. I was a teacher in the 70s. I was paid lower white collar wages.

    These days starting teacher pay has barely progressed. But kids come out of schools with huge student loans. In the meantime, the demands on their time through increases in class-loads means they spend much time off-the-clock to manage just the instruction. As music, counselling, arts and physical education programs are decimated, more and more kids are getting turned off and tuning out or dropping out.

    I think a Marshall plan like commitment to our educational system, top-to-bottom is needed. Just imagine if the costs of Iraq had been invested into our educational system instead of flushed down the pipes of Halliburton and others.

    But short-term -- I like the longer school days idea.

    R

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    LT, I am not in the camp with administration or classified. I am suggesting that individual compensation for all K-12 employees is the problem. Total spending "per student in Oregon" for K-12 has been very good, considering our relatively poor economic status. Because of the relatively high compensation, we (Oregon) have left ourselves with little ability for growth. That is why we have about the worst student/teacher ratios in the U.S. We can't afford, both very high costing employees and an adequate number of K-12 employees. We are now experiencing the consequences of this evolution of compensation and it is not good.

  • (Show?)

    Thanks to everyone who has responded and kept on topic.

    Actually, I never said we wouldn't pay the teachers, or that I hoped we wouldn't have to. I said that you could probably get the majority of the salaried staff to work at no additional cost.

    Many of these staff members are taking home work every night-- and they're not paid for it. By lengthening the school day, they could get it done at school. Then when they went home, they wouldn't have a stack of papers to grade. They'd also have more time to spend with the students, which means less frustration on their part because they're expected to do too much in too little time.

    This isn't the same as adding on additional days-- you're not adding to a teacher's commute, there are no additional lessons to plan, no additional papers to grade, etc.

    It may be that teachers and other staff ask for a minimal increase in their salaries because of the extra time. But it still wouldn't be anywhere near the cost of adding additional days, as their salaries are often based on the number of days worked.

    But in speaking to literally hundreds of teachers over the years, almost every single one of them said they'd be willing to take on a longer school day and not take an increase in salary. They felt they could finally get their work done at work, their kids would be at school at the same time and their spouses at work, so they'd all get home at about the same time. And of course once they got home, they could spend time with their family-- not schoolwork.

    My school was actually looking at this my senior year, so I had a lot of experience in speaking with teachers not only in our district, but the surrounding districts. At the time I was a reporter for the local paper in addition to a student reporter for the daily paper. So I had the chance to also speak to teachers in surrounding districts about it. I'd say less than 5% disliked the plan.

    So this idea isn't based on just my opinion-- it's based on probably about a thousand hours worth of discussions with teachers, administrators, and other staff.

    Many liked the idea of having a long study hall time during the day. It would be perfect for students to get work done, parent teacher conferences, for meetings amongst teachers (such as the twice monthly meetings of all the history teachers, of english teachers, etc.) and for meetings of student groups-- which are currently held afterschool.

    Because they're afterschool, it kept many students who didn't have a way home from participating in extra-curricular activities since the bus wasn't available to take them home. Public transportation may be available in parts of the metro area, but there are a lot of students in this state that don't have that option. And we all know how important those activities can be not only on college and scholarship applications, but to the development of a well-rounded student.

    Overall, the teachers saw the lengthened school day as being helpful for them as well as the students. They felt it would likely make their job a bit easier, which is why they were willing to do it at little or no extra cost.

    In the large urban district where I live, there are high schools that start at 7:40 and get out at 2:15, middle schools that go from 8:10-2:40, and elementary schools that go from 9:15 to 3:30. Hate to break it to all you "all the teachers union's fault" folks, but I suspect that is done so the same set of busses can be used for all levels of students.

    At the district where I went to school, the h.s. started at 7:20 (that's when your butt had to be in your seat in first period) and ended at 2:30. That was for h.s., junior high, and the intermediate school (5th-12th grades). The two elementary schools went started at 8:30 and 8:45, respectively, and ended at 3:30 and 3:45. This was done because at the time all the schools were on one street, except for the newest elementary-- it was about 6 minutes away. As you can see, those hours are longer than the ones mentioned above.

    It's easy enough to do a longer school day and still stagger the schools.

    You start the younger kids early in the morning, getting them off to school before their parents ever leave for work. This is not only better for little kids, who do well early in the morning, but also takes a lot of worry off parents. You start the older kids a bit later in the morning, giving the buses time to drop off the young kids, refuel, and head back out.

    Not only can we increase the amount of time the kids get with their teachers, we can give them time to do homework at school-- when teachers are available for help, increased ability to participate in extra curricular activities, and we keep them in school (and off the streets) during the times they're most likely to get in trouble. These hours are also often times when kids are kidnapped-- the hours when parents are at work and least likely to notice for a few hours that their kids are gone.

  • Levon (unverified)
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    Why not simply exclude teachers from protection under the 13th amendment?

    Let's simply continue this experiment that:

    Strips public schools of necessary resources; Encourages students from higher socioeconomic backgrounds to flee to private schools; Mandates all types of standardized exams enriching the testing industry while sucking the marrow from education; Blames teachers and schools when dysfunctional families send neglected children unprepared to learn; Continually assaults teachers with negative public attacks in the media as if they're wealthy patrons manipulating the system; Shifts attention from the extraordinary detrimental impact of 1990's Ballot Measure 5 and the continued right-wing assault on the public sector. Blames teachers and schools when the corporate sector that controls the legislature pays 4% of the taxes and leaves the financial burden of training its workforce to the already overextended individual taxpayer.

    Yes, let's continue this experiment and see what the effects are on these lab rats that we call "students" and "teachers."

    Yes, why not lengthen the school days and see how much longer these teachers last? This could make for the ultimate reality televsion program! Watch these teachers crack as they take over completely the duties and responsibilities of parenting of their "students."

    Please pass the popcorn.

  • (Show?)

    Levon--

    I don't know where you get these ideas from. I am very much for, and in support of, teachers. And the idea of a lengthened school day has nothing to do with thinking teachers don't work hard enough, are overpaid, etc. If you'd take the time to go through and look at my comments throughout Blue Oregon, you'll find that I regularly fight for the teachers-- even though I'm not one, am not related to one, have no financial incentive to do so, etc. My daughter isn't even old enough for K-12 school yet. She'll start in the 2007-08 school year.

    As stated above, I've spoken with many, many teachers who would support a plan like this. They feel it would make their job easier, not harder.

    They feel that by having more instructional and one-on-one time with the students, education would improve, not get worse.

    And it's not about teachers "parenting" their students. It's about teachers having more time with their students. It's about teachers having the time to finish up their work at work, not take it home. It's about students getting a better education, and the teachers feeling a heck of a lot less stressed at the end of the day.

  • (Show?)

    Schools are still using the Agrarian calendar. Bus schedules likely dictate start and stop times at schools. Coaches at the HS level would feel their athletes would not get enough practice time if the school day were lenghened. Most kids attend school less than 180 days per year. A typical teacher year is 180 days. Not exactly a mandate for improving public schools is it? Fiddler on the Roof..Tradition, tradition, tradition..... or maybe the old Everly Brother's tune..Dreeeeaaam, dream, dream, dream.

  • Charlie in Gresham (unverified)
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    Not a cheap shot Randy. I'm in either a middle school or high school 15 days a month as a volunteer. Most (not all) of today's teachers dress like slobs. Some dress even worse than their students which takes some effort. There are MANY educators who feel that if teachers resumed dressing professionally (yes suits and ties for the men, business suits for the women) it would have a dramatic positive effect on student discipline and respect.

    But alas....the OEA wants them dressed like Teamsters, thinking like Teamsters, so they can control them like Teamsters. Unionization, more than any single factor, has been a cancer on the education system of this country.

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    Jenni,

    You said, "Many of these staff members are taking home work every night-- and they're not paid for it."

    That is not an accurate statement. They are paid for it, the same as most salaried employees. It is part of the job. Additionally, they are compensated higher than K-12 employees of most other states.

    You continue to say, "But in speaking to literally hundreds of teachers over the years, almost every single one of them said they'd be willing to take on a longer school day and not take an increase in salary."

    I find that an incredible statement. Obviously, you have spoken to a different set of "hundreds of teachers" than I have. If your idea was put on the table at negotiations, it would be an interesting response, to say the least.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Charlie--What evidence do you have for your statement that OEA wants teachers dressed like Teamsters?

    As far as There are MANY educators who feel that if teachers resumed dressing professionally (yes suits and ties for the men, business suits for the women) I wonder why you believe women teachers should wear blazers and skirts or expensive wool suits rather than washable dresses. I substituted in over 60 schools in the course of 15 years and almost always wore washable dresses or tops and skirts. That was because of experiences with elementary classroom art projects and other messy activities.

    Do you really want first grade teachers to have large dry cleaning bills because they are not allowed to wear comfortable, washable clothes? If you want to go back to the days of the 1960s when women were not allowed to wear pants, just say so. I worked as an aide in the 1972-73 school year in a small school where the school board decided that "coordinated pants suits" would be allowed in the elementary school given the cold weather and the outdoor hallways. Do you really think the kids in that school would have been better behaved if all teachers were required to wear dress shoes (ever seen what walking around a playground on playground duty can do to dress shoes?). You want men wearing business suits and women wearing suits (would the women be allowed to wear full skirts (over 60 inches around the bottom hem) which allow for freedom of movement, or only straight skirts if that was what was fashionable?

    But maybe this is just another "clamp down on teachers" comment--because there were sloppily dressed teacher somewhere, there are teachers in sweatsuits everywhere?

    And do you really think that the OEA speaks as one for all teachers? Do you believe the Oregon Restaurant Assoc. speaks as one for all restaurant owners? That AOI speaks for all business owners? That COSA speaks for all school administrators? That OSBA speaks for all school board members?

    Or is this just an anti-union rant because without unions there would be no problems? And what business do you manage? Or are you just ideologically opposed to unions because we shouldn't have any regulation of any enterprise in this country because management is infallible?

  • The Siskiyou Skewer (unverified)
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    I love how everyone has a brilliant idea for how to fix education, except for funding the system we have now. Most of you people have such a distorted sense of the societal value of your own opinion that it's nauseating. Blah blah blah. I love to hear myself type. Why I read this crap is beyond me.

    I'm with Levon. Pass the popcorn. Let's all watch the sucker go down in flames. The red glow will make us feel cozy.

    STFU already. Kari, will you please do Oregon a favor and shut this site down? Things were so much better when we didn't have such a graphic perspective of how poorly and selfishly people think.

  • (Show?)

    Actually, this isn't my idea. This idea actually came from a panel of teachers, parents, and community leaders in a small town in Texas during the early 90's.

    And the original question wasn't about funding the system now. It was about what kinds of things we'd like to see the legislature do. Obviously we need to do work to make sure the system we have now is paid for. That's a no-brainer.

    We've had discussions on funding schools on this site, as well as several other blogs. We can discuss other ideas regarding education and how to better educate our students, without getting into the topic of the current funding hole. Obviously that's a huge issue, but even when we do get it funded, we still have to do something to improve education for our students. And waiting until we have the funding hole fixed to start coming up with the ideas is just going to put us further behind.

    Instead, we cam start coming up with ideas now, looking to see if anyone else is doing it (and if so, how's it doing), getting our research on it done, talk to those who would be affected, etc. This way we'll be ready to start implementing those ideas that turn out to be feasible the moment we're able to do so.

  • mrfearless47 (unverified)
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    bailie asks: Does that schedule utilize the buildings more efficiently than we do in Oregon (it seems that it would)? That is the main thrust of what I would like.

    It is transitional between the year round and traditional school system. Within 2 years, CA will be back on a traditional school year.

  • (Show?)

    Bailie--

    The difference between us is that I wouldn't put it on the table at negotiations. I'd work with the teachers, administrators, school staff, parents, etc. before we got to the negotiations table. We'd go over how it would work, get everyone's concerns, and try to get it worked out long before contract negotiations ever came up.

    This way when it came time for contract negotiations, both sides would be on board with the plan, and it wouldn't be a problem at all.

    The problem is too many times the sides wait until contract negotiation time to bring up large issues-- issues that could have been hammered out over the previous months and been a non-issue.

    You also have a situation where you're bringing in new ideas, while also being hostile towards the other side. You're going to have a hard time getting someone on your side on a good idea if you're already being hostile towards them.

  • sasha (unverified)
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    Jeez, people - she suggested a longer school day, not longer comments!

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    Siskiyou wrote: Why I read this crap is beyond me. STFU already. Kari, will you please do Oregon a favor and shut this site down?

    Out of all the web pages on all of the internets, you're the one choosing to read this one.

    Don't like it? Go away. We won't miss you.

  • JoanneR (unverified)
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    Here's an idea - If there is a deficit in the learning of the students, be it in reading, math, social studies, history, etc. why not alter the curriculum to correct the problem(s)? Throwing more money at the problem/increasing the class room hours won't necessarily fix the problem if pay/classroom hours aren't actually the root of the problem. I went to Sellwood for K-8 and Grover Cleveland for 9-12. I graduated in 1981. The schools were in the same trouble then as they are now. Budgets have been increased, classroom hours have been shifted around, we've tried CIM/CAM, increased the dollar amount spent per student, had charter schools, and a load of other fixes that have been tried. People in Portland are still screaming that the schools are failing the students. I think they need to try something else.....

  • Jim (unverified)
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    If there is a deficit in the learning of the students, be it in reading, math, social studies, history, etc. why not alter the curriculum to correct the problem(s)?

    It's simple: because for the most part, the curriculum is not the problem.

  • (Show?)

    While classroom hours may have been shifted around, I haven't heard of any major changes to increase the number of hours that kids go to school. I have heard from people that their school days were made smaller.

    Studies have been done that show that the United States not only has one of the shortest school years, but also school days. Those with shorter days typically will have a much longer school year-- some even go to school on Saturdays. They will also have virtually no planning time in the day for the teachers, as they are expected to do all of it at home. They are with students for the entire day-- no off period.

    Europe runs around 220 days and Asia 240. The United States averages around 180 days. Since the early 80's, several studies have been conducted by the federal government, and they all came to the same conclusion-- school years and school days are too short in the United States. Since then, the other countries, particularly Europe, has added more days to their school year. However, in the 24 years since the National Commission on Excellence in Education reported that the negative impact of our shortened year was thr problem, we have yet to do anything about it.

    They found that the other countries had longer days, partial days on Saturdays, longer school years, and had extra tutoring outside the school day. All of this lead to students in the highest performing nations studying anywhere from twice as much as U.S. students to 83% more.

    It's just amazing to me that we've known about this since I was 5 years old, and yet nothing has been done about it.

  • (Show?)

    Just a quick correction...per student spending WAS high in Oregon according to national rankings kept by the federal government...we have slipped in those rankings though.

    In 1990-91 Oregon was 15th nationally for money spent per student. In 2002-03 Oregon was 30th nationally for money spent per student.

  • Pete Jacobsen (unverified)
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    Jenni- I agree with some other comments that the teachers I've talked to (including my parents) would most definitely object to the idea of more hours with the students without an increase in pay. I'm very surprised at your sample! If nothing else, time spent with students is stressful, and considerable attention has to go into classroom management. Unfortunately, not all students are eager to learn and find other ways to occupy themselves.

    As to the reason for increasing the school day, if you expect the teachers to be spending that extra time grading papers and planning lessons, you cannot be expecting the kids to get any extra instruction. Am I missing something? Is to goal - bluntly - just to keep the kids occupied?

  • (Show?)

    Pete--

    No, the time is typically used two ways.

    First, you use some of the time for additional time with the students in the classroom.

    Second, you use about an hour as a "study hall" time. This gives students time to work on their homework while they're still in the position to easily ask for assistance. Student groups (student council, math club, chess club, etc.) could hold meetings during this time. Teachers would take turns being in charge of the students, as they are during lunch time. The remaining teachers could work on lessons, grading papers, etc. In most schools, a teacher would probably only have study hall duty 1-3 times per month.

    Schools that I've seen with study hall will usually put the kids in the lunchroom. In schools where the lunchroom can't hold the entire school population, they stagger the study hall period, just as they do lunch.

    I realize that more time with the students can be stressful. But the teachers I've talked with say it is even more stressful to try to pack everything they need to teach in such a small amount of time. Given a longer school day (say 20 minutes or so per class/subject), they get a bit more time with their students.

    It may be that the teachers and districts end up agreeing to a small increase in pay in exchange for the longer days. This still wouldn't be as much as if that extra learning time was added in as more school days-- as I stated above, there'd be no extra trips to/from school, no extra lesson plans, etc. Plus the fact that the teachers are now going to have to do less work at home.

    It's something that would have to be worked on with teachers, parents, administrators, etc. I definitely wouldn't advocate implementing a plan like this without getting everyone's input and support.

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    Jenni, I appreciate your dialog on this subject, but in my opinion there would be very little chance at success. I spend time in the schools and have two within my immediate family full-time. 1) the idea of a whole student body in one location (or even three or four) to study,discuss or whatever, would be totally chaotic. Especially, as you suggest to have one teacher as controller. 2) Teachers would not support an extra hour or 1 1/2 hours at school without compensation. I ran this by my good friend who is on our golf course before 4:00 most days and he gave me a look that told the whole story. 3) Teachers use the flexibility after school hours for their personal life. There is now an amount of prep time for teachers within school hours now (usually about 1 hour). It is not always enough, depending on particular classes being taught. In our district, grading of assignments and many other tasks are subcontracted out.

    This goes back to my conclusions, more teachers (5,000 additional for K-3) at affordable compensation levels. Then it might be possible to staff for some of your suggestions. Academic results could follow. This

  • Joanne R (unverified)
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    Exactly how much have the classroom hours shortened since 1981? Here's a sample of my senior year in highschool - Advanced Art General Latin 2nd year college Russian - that was at Reed College, so I had to have time to get from Cleveland to the college and back plus the time the class took. I think I actually took part of my lunch time to get back the the highschool. If I remember correctly, taking this class took around 2 1/2 hours out of the school day, and no it wasn't funded by public money. The Vollum program - private - paid the tuition and my folks picked up the bus fair. Art Staff Advanced Biology

    Each class in the highschool was 45-50 minutes long with 10-15 minutes to get to your locker for the next set of books and on to the next class, so you figured around an hour per class total from one room to the next. So you could figure that I had a total of 5 classes for 6 1/2 hours my senior year and I was only going to school part time as I had taken care of all of my required credits in the first three years. In those first three years, if I remember correctly, school started at 8:00am and we got out at 3:30pm with one period for lunch. I must confess that I have no children in school, none of my 'kids' are human, and the only close friend I have who does have kids in school is in Mulino, which seems to be doing a better job of educating their students that PPS is. Is there an online resource where the school curricula and schedules are posted? Also, I would think that if the shcool days are so short, that the kids could be schooled by their parents at home after their day of formal education. One thing I did notice the whole time I was in school, is that the kids with parents who were involved in their education and who bird dogged the kids did as well as they could, the ones who's parents couldn't give a d*mn about their education did poorly with a few exceptions. I know I was failing a typing class in grade school and when my mom found out, not only did I catch it for doing so poorly, but the teacher really caught it because she wasn't making me do my class work - which was why I was failing in the first place - and then the principal really caught it when he told my mom that she should be greatful to the school for telling her that her daughter was about to flunk out of typing. Geeze, talk about a sow bear with a cub.....

  • jrw (unverified)
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    Okay. Real, live teacher speaking out here, also someone who's been a parent and parent volunteer in both public and parochial school systems here in Oregon not Texas or somewhere else.

    First of all, Jenni says:

    "Second, you use about an hour as a "study hall" time. This gives students time to work on their homework while they're still in the position to easily ask for assistance. Student groups (student council, math club, chess club, etc.) could hold meetings during this time. Teachers would take turns being in charge of the students, as they are during lunch time. The remaining teachers could work on lessons, grading papers, etc. In most schools, a teacher would probably only have study hall duty 1-3 times per month."

    This is an outsider's view of a touchy subject. In reality, many teachers are being asked to take on extra student contact duties without compensation and sacrificing break time. I should know, it's one of the issues affecting the strike I was involved with. Teachers are not automatically in charge of students during lunch time; that is an issue defined by a negotiated contract and in that case teachers have compensated time either before or after school. Most schools only have 40 minute lunch periods. Requiring teachers to take on extra duties during that time means we get maybe a 20 minute lunch. Now that doesn't mean teachers won't do that of their own choice--but how many of you working in other jobs where you are compensated by the hour (for all the blather about teacher's yearly contract, my pay stub clearly shows that I am compensated by the hour and that my pay rate, while stated as a yearly sum, is in actual fact an hourly sum) will of your own free will and the kindness of your heart give your employer time without compensation?

    Additionally, many districts are seeking to add more student contact hours without prep time. Essentially, that is what this would end up being. Putting a large group of students in a cafeteria and expecting many of them to actually study is unrealistic. BTDT, in middle school and in high school.

    Now some schools do schedule such activities during the school day, and call it "tutorial." Does it necessarily increase student achievement? Not for the students who need it the most, because they're likely to be the ones who use tutorial time for social time.

    Bailie says:

    "3) Teachers use the flexibility after school hours for their personal life. There is now an amount of prep time for teachers within school hours now (usually about 1 hour). It is not always enough, depending on particular classes being taught. In our district, grading of assignments and many other tasks are subcontracted out."

    Prep time is slowly but surely getting eaten up by extra duties, meetings, and student contact time. It is rarely one hour, unless class periods within the school are that long and few are.

    Lastly, just what district are you talking about that subcontracts out assignment grading? I have a hard time taking that one seriously. Who is doing this and who's doing the grading? What grade level is this? Names, please.

    Lastly, Joanne R writes:

    "One thing I did notice the whole time I was in school, is that the kids with parents who were involved in their education and who bird dogged the kids did as well as they could, the ones who's parents couldn't give a d*mn about their education did poorly with a few exceptions. I know I was failing a typing class in grade school and when my mom found out, not only did I catch it for doing so poorly, but the teacher really caught it because she wasn't making me do my class work - which was why I was failing in the first place - and then the principal really caught it when he told my mom that she should be greatful to the school for telling her that her daughter was about to flunk out of typing. Geeze, talk about a sow bear with a cub....."

    Please read and reread this statement. It is so very true. Too many parents feel that education is the sole responsibility of the school when it is a parent-school partnership. Give me an active and involved parent any day over a lackadaiscal, doesn't care about education, just-wants-some-babysitting parent.

  • Joanne R (unverified)
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    Alright, I just took a look at the opening and closing of both Sellwood - my grade school - and Cleveland - my highschool. As far as I can see, Sellwood looks like it has the same schedule as far as opening and closing as I remember from childhood, so no change there in the length of the class day. Cleveland does look like the day's been shortened by a whopping 30 minutes, and I'm sorry, but I don't think a whole education system could possibly fall flat on it's face because it's day got shortened by half an hour. I also looked at some of the programs that are or will be offered. Looks pretty close to what was available when I was in grade school and highschool as far as the basics. I also see a whole bunch of stuff that I whish had been there when I was still going. I also have seen things over the years that PPS has that I whish we had had when I was in school, especially in highschool, like computer labs. When I was in Sellwood, our computer lab consisted of a teletype linked to the district mainframe. We had to load programs on punch tape. I'm also seeing specialty schools within some of the regular schools. Pretty nifty, sounds like an expansion on the TAG - talented and gifted - program from when I was a kid. I would expect kids enrolled in those types of programs to do better as they are probably better motivated. What I'm seeing here from the point of view of an outsider who used to be an insider, is a serious lack of motivation on the part of both the students and their parents, not all of them mind you, but a large enough percentage of them to perhaps drop the success rate. One of the problems I've seen in a lot of people I know is that they don't value education, not like people do in some other cultures. Look at what people say about asians in school. Academically they are supposed to excell as a group, at least this is what I've been told. It's not because they are smarter than anyone else, it's because the ones who excell are pushed to do so because their families value that education and understand that a good education is the best way to get a leg up in the world, especially when you've just come out of the gate, that is just graduated. If you're looking for a job, whether you're fresh from highschool, or just our of college, the only thing you have going for you is your education. You don't have experience in your field yet, at least not much real world experience, you have little experience working with people in the real world in a work environment, etc., but you should have the basic tools you need to go on. From what I'm seeing, it looks like all the tools and teachers are in place. All that might be needed is just a little tweeking here and there. If you don't have the support from the parents in the form of motivating their children to learn and valuing that educaton, you can throw a million dollars per child at the schools. You're still going to have the same problem with drop outs, poor grades, etc. If I was in charge of 'fixing' or improving the PPS, and I wanted to work within the assets I already have as far as budget, infrastructure, etc. I'd take a look at the students who already excell in the system I'm working on. Try to figure out what the differences are between them and the students who are failing, and use that data to improve the performance of the kids that aren't doing so well. I know with out having to look at the data that there are at least some kids in the system who are doing well. I'd look at intelligence, socio-economic factors, family situation, etc., You should be able to find enough data there to point you in the right direction as far as fixing the schools. But it'll be a lot more work than just lengthening the days or raising a new 'temporary' tax.

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    JoanneR, Your questions and observations are discussed in the link provided by "Jim". http://www.portlandonline.com/shared/cfm/image.cfm?id=14453

    It is very good information concerning what has been observed.

    "jrw", I have been asked to do homework correction and test correction in our district. My daughter does this in addition to her work within the district (for extra pay, $10/hour). This takes some burden off teachers in our district. Most are college graduates (plus), who are doing this work depending on the subjects involved.

  • Levon (unverified)
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    Jenni reads my observations as somehow indicting her support of teachers. Support for teachers isn't a precondition for good policy ideas.

    Similarly, just because you've spoken to some teachers (hardly a representative sample) who believe a longer school day will be effective, doesn't provide evidence upholding your claim.

    One-on-one instruction is useful only if the curriculua and goals of the educational process are worthy of support. Reducing "education" to the number of correct answers on a bubble exam may not be worthy of more time in the classroom. In fact, it could be argued that students would benefit more from time outside the classroom playing sports, exploring their surroundings, and developing relationships than cramming for some industrialized notion of "education."

    Your claim that teachers will feel less stressed at the end of a longer school day is quite remarkable. What evidence do you have for this one? Look, in the US, schools are always considered "in crisis." Find a historical period where this wasn't the case.

    Teaching K-12 is very demanding work and it will always be so. It's akin to doing a Broadway show everyday...except the stars aren't well-paid and the supporting cast continually throws monkey wrenches in the production. If you're a parent, imagine having 25 kids and getting them to pay attention and cooperate. Now let's lengthen the number of hours that you have to do this; and, oh, by the way, we currently don't provide you with the necessary resources or remuneration for your work - so we will give you more work.

    Teaching is a burnout job and about 50% don't make it past 5 years. Adding insult to injury, in Oregon, the state's biggest newspaper continually denigrates these people and makes them out to be bandits feeding at the public trough.

    Finally, what I meant about parenting is the fact that teachers and schools aren't the only entities responsible for the results that we see on any measurement of what we currently call "education." Show me a stable family situation where parents value education and work with junior and I'll show you a student who is far more likely to succeed. The public schools can't cherry pick and they're increasingly left with kids from dysfunctional families, language issues, and a myriad of other problems. Still, let's blame it all on the teachers and the public schools. Yeah, right.

  • Karl (unverified)
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    There may be other reasons to have longer schooldays for our kids but I don't believe that "learning more" is one of them. As a former industrial engineer, I know that the first 4 or 5 hours of a persons workday are by far the most productive. I'm sure it's the same for the schoolday. Classes for my kids in Philomath middle school start at 8:00AM and end at 3:00PM. The bus picks them up at 6:30AM and brings them home at 4:30PM. Classes started and ended at the same time for me when I was their age 50 years ago. I can still remember those draggy afternoons watching the clock. Parents having to spend so much more time working these days is a great deterrent to parental involvement in their childrens education. That and lack of schoolfunding as a absolute priority are ,In my view, the greatest problems. One bright spot for those who can access it is the online "power school" where parents can check on their kids performence in school as it occurrs (where teachers post all turned in assignments, or not, and test scores).

  • jrw (unverified)
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    Bailie--

    I still want a district name, and grade levels for your claim of doing test and homework corrections for teachers. It does not match any school district I am aware of on the East side of Portland. I do not know of any teacher who has that sort of help, except for high school students serving as class assistants, or low-paid classroom aides grading papers as part of their jobs. Not every classroom has an aide. And of the aides I know of who are doing grading, they sure aren't getting extra money for it. The only extra money I know of is for scoring state writing tests, and that's for certified teachers who want to earn extra money over spring break.

    Now that's actually something which could be of use...give every teacher in every school a paid classroom assistant. One of my friends, who like myself worked in responsible positions in the real world before coming into teaching, marvels at the amount of clerical work teachers are required to do on a daily basis which has no real relationship to their teaching responsibilities. Paid classroom assistants give a teacher more options and reduces the student to adult help ratios in the classroom--something that's proven to work. Students get more individual attention. If the teacher needs to use the restroom, then the teacher can duck out and do so (the joke that teachers need bladders of iron is very, very true...) after making arrangements with the aide. Aides assist with maintaining classroom discipline, help individualize assignments for students having problems, and free up teachers to actually do teaching. Then parent volunteers could come in and help with the fun stuff--social activities, field trips, other things which are educationally significant but just too much for the teachers and aides to pull off.

    Joanne R said:

    "What I'm seeing here from the point of view of an outsider who used to be an insider, is a serious lack of motivation on the part of both the students and their parents, not all of them mind you, but a large enough percentage of them to perhaps drop the success rate. One of the problems I've seen in a lot of people I know is that they don't value education, not like people do in some other cultures."

    Again, Joanne's hit it hard on the head of the matter. I am a certified special education teacher. I work in inclusion programs where I teach both general and special ed kids (most of whom are learning disabled, have minor emotional disturbances, or ADHD-related learning problems). Some of the least willing kids to work and try are the smartest kids without learning problems. It's not an issue that the work is challenging enough. It's an issue that you can give the kids an assignment, throughly explain what to do, how to do it, in what steps, and where to find information....and those kids still want you to tell them the answer. Or how to do it, even when the relevant instructions are in boldface type, in capital letters.

    Meanwhile, their neighbor with LD, who has a reading problem, is plugging away relentlessly and has gotten a good lead on the assignment.

    One of my fellow teachers says that she's had some of her higher students complain about assignments being given them where they have to think--again, while some of their lower ability classmates are plugging along and doing the work.

    Now this doesn't necessarily mean that this generation is falling apart academically. It does suggest to me that teaching and learning is falling into greater disrespect than it was in the past.

    Or perhaps not. Back when I was in high school, unlike today, it was not the goal that everyone went on to college. There were legitimate vocational tracks for real working class jobs that someone could hold down and make a living. I grew up in a working class town where working class folks could live a decent economic life. That's harder these days.

    However, in a society where messages from the leadership seem to put down educated society (I'm thinking especially of our political leadership nationally, where a president who was a Rhoades Scholar was the subject of scorn, and higher education/learning is no longer seen as a pathway to doing better in the next generation, I think we're only now seeing the logical results of such attitudes. To change some of this, I think we have to stop calling teachers terrorists, as Rodney Paige, former Education Secretary said; I think we need political leadership that speaks positively of learned people and of learning; and we need people who walk the talk on the value of education to society.

    Yeah. I know. I'm dreaming.

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    jrw, 1) The grading and evaluating of papers is a classified position in our district as an educational assistant (at $10.00/hr.). My daughter has the open option to do this any time, in addition to her regular position. Perhaps it is not available in your district, but not unusual in Oregon. 2) You say, "I think we have to stop calling teachers terrorists, as Rodney Paige, former Education Secretary said." I don't believe that is what he said or meant. For you to interpret his comments as such, is disappointing (especially from a teacher). If I am incorrect about the quote you are referring, show me the quote and I will stand corrected. 3) I think that the disrespect from the general public, has much to do with the economics of K-12 education. The perceived, constant "whining" for higher individual compensation, is a theme that seems to be wearing thin with many people.

    4) In a tangent opinion, I feel that the philosophy that "you can be anything you want to be" is good for students, but can (and often does) get out of control. It is good when it is balanced with life realities (getting a job and paying bills), but is very detrimental when left uncontrolled. One of the best examples, are the kids desiring to be professional athletes, dancers, singers, artists etc. Often these ambitions come at the expense of the basic disciplines in education. Too many choices for students can be as detrimental as they can be advantageous in grades K-12. Any comments?

  • (Show?)

    only one teacher in study hall?

    I never meant there would be one teacher in charge of study hall-- it would be multiple teachers. When my school did this, we typically had about 5 teachers in the room for the 700 kids in the cafeteria.

    I've seen this done successfully in plenty of schools-- both in Texas and Oregon. And I know schools around the nation are doing it. The key is to find out where it's being done well and find out how they do it. This is an area where volunteers can really come in handy, as they can increase the number of people watching over the students.

    Teachers & lunch

    I never said teachers HAD to cover the lunch period. In some schools they do, in some they don't. In my nieces and nephews schools the teachers do. They are then allowed to take their free period as their lunch period. I just used it as an example-- that the study hall period would be similar to that. I never meant that teachers working lunch was part of this plan.

    That the idea is somehow inferior because I didn't get it from Oregon

    Just because I happened to hear this idea in Texas doesn't make it bad. I've also since heard it from people all over the nation where their schools are also studying the idea. It just happened to be that I lived in Texas at the time that it first came up.

    We've got to start looking at other cities, other states, and other nations to see what they're doing right. When we find ideas that work, we should tweak them to fit Oregon and then use them.

    Have I ever given my employer more time with less pay?

    Yes, I have given my employer more time before. I've been in jobs where I was salaried and when the job day lengthened, my paycheck did not. This happened once for a "public" employer and once for a non-profit employer. It's something people often run into when they're in a position where they're salaried either on a yearly amount or a per-day amount. A family member of mine works for a local government and she regularly puts in additional Saturday or late evening hours with no extra pay.

    Please read the previous comments

    People should read my comments above (I really hate it when people can't read the comments and they keep bringing up the same topics that have already been answered). If you did, you'll see that I specifically said the details of this would need to be worked out amongst teachers, parents, administrators, etc.

    It may be that an increase in salary happens. However, it should not be as much as if those hours were added as extra days as opposed to at the end of a school day-- there is no extra drive to school, no extra lesson plans to make, no extra papers to grade, etc.

    You'd still end up saving on the fact that you're adding no new bus trips, no additional lunch periods, don't have to heat up/cool down the schools any additional mornings, etc.

    This won't solve all the education problems

    And I never said this will solve all the education problems. It's one step. There are several things we need to look at, if we really want to be able to compete in this global market. Compared to other industrialized nations, we're doing poorly. We need to make a series of changes if we ever expect things to get better.

    My support of teachers & speaking to teachers...

    The comments about me supporting teachers weren't there as a way to say this is a good idea. Some people had said some things that made it appear that I did not support teachers. I wanted to assure everyone that I did.

    And I did speak to a good number of teachers. In the year that my district was looking at this, I probably spoke to between 400 and 500 teachers (in districts all over the Houston metro area). Since that time, I've discussed the idea with more teachers online in chatrooms, at meetings, and conferences, when I come across a new friend who is a teacher, etc. While all had tweaks they'd like to see, they were pretty much all for it. And if given the chance to sit down with their fellow teachers, parents, etc. and work on it, they were all for it.

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    Technically, Rodney Paige called the teachers' union a "terrorist organization." While I am certain that Bailie and other righties will argue that that's different than calling teachers "terrorists" - I think many teachers will find that to be a distinction without a difference. After all, the membership of the teachers' union is made up entirely of teachers.

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    Kari, I find your statement interesting. So basically, using your reasoning, any of the negative attributes of the NEA can be directly blamed on the teachers. "After all, the membership of the teachers' union is made up entirely of teachers."

  • Charlie in Gresham (unverified)
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    The Big 'O' today included an interesting statisticin a comparison of Washington and Oregon: Washington pays 3% above salaries into pensions for teachers. Oregon pays 13% above the cost of salaries for teachers pensions. The amount invested in education by the tax payers of Washington is only $14 per student anually more than we invest here in Oregon....not a difference worth talking about....and yet Washington is viewed as funding education so much better than we do.

    Until PERS is completely dismantled Oregon will never be able to fund education in a way that will result in reasonable class sizes and better overall results. We need to get every teacher on a standard 401k, give them all a 20% raise, demand a 200 day year of work, with the teacher in the building from 8am to 5pm, working with students from 8:30am - 3:30pm. One statewide standard group health plan covering all teachers, adminstrators, professors, etc. With a 401k they can retire when they want....52, 55, 58, 62, 65....who gives a rip?

    A similar new approach to all other public employees. End PERS and invest each current employee's current PERS balance into a 401k, go to a standard public employee healthcare plan statewide.....and yes a raise based on the current private sector salary plus 10% (yes +10!)for their job.

    PERS ends immediately, and within two years our state and local governments plus all school districts have fiscal stability once again.

    If the unions threaten lawsuits call their bluff. The Attorney General's office can hire a top law firm out of NY (a trick learned from the Portland city council) and they can keep that suit tied up in the courts for years.

    It seems so simple.

  • mrfearless47 (unverified)
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    To Charlie in Gresham:

    Your understanding of PERS could be fit into a thimble. Your understanding of public employee pension law in an even smaller vessel. Your understanding of the IRS code is equally suspect. While PERS could be terminated and all future contributions directed to a 401K-like vehicle (something that actually happened for current Tier 1 and Tier 2 members in the 2003 legislature - HB 2020, amended by HB 3020), the problem that you fail to understand is the concept of "accrued benefits". "Accrued benefits" do not merely include the member's account balance as of a date certain, but the employer match of that account balance as well. Part of the PERS problem -- the part that no one in the media or in the general public seems to grasp -- is that the PERS "problem" is the employer match. The employers begged for changes in the way they make their contributions to PERS in the 1990's. The result was a series of actuarial changes and modifications in the way asset gains and asset losses are charged to employer accounts. The employers wanted stability. They got in, but in exchange for delaying paying what they really owed for a rolling period of 4 years. If PERS were terminated, all the money the employers have been supposed to "matching" would come due -- all at once. As others here have noted, that particular cure would be financially worse than the disease it is supposed to cure. So, if you ended PERS tomorrow, the employer match -- all of it -- would have to be put directly into the employee accounts with no deferral.

    The legal dispute wouldn't be over the Legislature's right to terminate PERS - they have that right. The legal dispute would require the parties to agree on what constitutes "accrued benefits" and their not only state law would come into play, but also federal law and the Internal Revenue Code.

    If I were you, I'd really be careful about what you wish for.

  • Charlie in Gresham (unverified)
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    Actually Mrfearless, I have a rather comprehensive understanding of PERS and that's why I am mentioning the unmentionable....the ability to kill it and kill it quickly. The accrued benefits issue is an over blown myth perpetuated by the public employees unions. There would be some significant benefits due by the various public employers BUT some of that could be mitigated by bargaining with the various unions. That's where the "10% salary above and beyond the public sector" comes into play. Of course, if the unions didn't wish to negotitate, then there are other options. The tax payers of Oregon just might vote for a major bond issue to pay those accruals and kill PERS....and then freeze the public employee's salaries for a few years to balance the budget. It's time everyone acknowledges that PERS is a pyramid scheme that is not sustainable. It must come to an end.

  • jrw (unverified)
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    Thank you, Kari, for jumping in on Paige's "terrorist" comments about the NEA.

    One has to think about this in context, of course. The NEA strongly opposed certain elements of the No Child Left Behind act. Paige and his flacks aggressively supported the NCLB, to the point of responding to each and every criticism, no matter where it appeared. His comment was in the context of NEA criticism of NCLB and Bush's broken promises about education reform and funding. The other major teacher's union, the American Federation of Teachers, immediately responded in support of the NEA.

    Looking at Paige's management record (including hiring a flack to promote NCLB on his talk show), I believe it is quite possible to assume that Paige seriously viewed teachers as a pain-in-the-ass major obsticle.

    And Bailie--I know of no district in the Portland metro area sufficiently affulent to offer educational assistants positions for grading papers as their only responsibility. Funds for EAs goes to people who are doing things in classrooms long before they are available for grading papers. Your district is clearly out of the norm.

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    The assessment by Bill Graves in this mornings Oregonian was interesting. It illustrates the damage to the K-12 classroom from PERS. The smallest print of his article, "Oregon schools spend 17 percent above salaries for employee pensions; Washington spends 3 percent, leaving it with more money for the classroom." Just for teachers alone, that amounts to $200 Million per year difference. For all K-12 employees it is close to $325 Million per year. Add the salary difference of $2,606 per year ($48,330 - $45,724) for Oregon's 29,000 teachers, and that is another $75 Million. Then, add Oregon's generous health insurance, and quickly and easily it can be understood why Oregon is having a K-12 funding crisis.

  • mrfearless47 (unverified)
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    Charlie in Gresham:

    Actually Mrfearless, I have a rather comprehensive understanding of PERS and that's why I am mentioning the unmentionable....the ability to kill it and kill it quickly. The accrued benefits issue is an over blown myth perpetuated by the public employees unions. There would be some significant benefits due by the various public employers BUT some of that could be mitigated by bargaining with the various unions.

    Well, actually I also have a comprehensive knowledge and understanding of PERS. I also have a tip for you. The "accrued benefits issue" is a matter that the public employee unions have harped on as much as you. It actually arose in a rather public way during testimony in the 2003 legislative hearings on PERS. It was a response given by Mr. James Voytko, then Executive Director of PERS (and anything but a friend to the unions) in response to questions concerning the "call" element of HB 2003 and in a second series of questions concerning the financial liability in instances where a PERS agency might declare bankruptcy. Voytko was warning the legislature that while the authority to terminate PERS certainly existed, that the "accrued benefits" issue would be very problematic and very expensive to resolve. The unions have seized on this, but they themselves were not the first to bring this issue to the fore in the present context. (They did testify against the "IRS 'fix'" (plan termination) during the 1997 legislature, and certainly brought the issue up during the litigation against HB 2003 and HB 2004, which followed by more than a year the actual testimony given by Voytko.

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    What is worse, the "17 percent" mentioned in Bill Graves article, is expected to increase to 22 percent next year. This will add an additional $100 Million per year difference between Oregon and Washington. So there will be over $500 Million per year difference in individual K-12 compensation when comparing Oregon and Washington.

    That difference is equal to over 7,000 additional teachers, longer school years/days and complete programs. A person needs to go no further than this to realize why Oregon is in a funding crisis.

    I would appreciate any information which would shed additional accuracy to these numbers.

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    Anyone know of a good house in Vancouver?

    This conversation is shining about as much light on next year's funding crisis as anything else.

    It's time to bail out.

  • steve schopp (unverified)
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    Graves worked in M5 of course and suggested it hobbled out glorius reform CIM/CAM while Washington's similar reform got support.

    What he left out was that with M5 Oregon out spent Washington by a healthy margin all through the 90's. I beleive it was around $1200.00 /student/year more.

    The problem is and has been where the money goes.

  • christopher (unverified)
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    Bailie is the example par excellence of the saying that a little education is a dangerous thing. Bailie also mistakes speaking often with having something to say.

    I invite citizens into my classroom to learn what actually happens in a fourth grade classroom. Jenni's idea of a longer school day is worth some discussion, particularly for middle and high school students. But please understand, adding an hour to a 5 year old's day is not a small deal. There are many people that work in support of a child's education. Increasing the school day may be the way to go, but hello?, we're not funding Oregon schools at the level they received in 1990.

    Good research supports a modified year-round schedule with benefits for those most vulnerable in our communities.

    As to PERS benefits: People, the horse is out of the barn. Those were benefits negotiated a long time ago and in the hands of the courts now. Teachers hired as recently as 3 years ago (like me) are receiving radically reduced retirement benefits. That whole conversation/complaint is gone. Get over it.

  • LT (unverified)
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    B--there are members of Congress who are former teachers.

    With regard to this For you to interpret his comments as such, is disappointing (especially from a teacher). as I recall, some of those former teachers in Congress met with Sec. Paige privately and told him that was inappropriate behavior. You'll notice that he is no longer in that job and the current Education Sec. is more soft spoken.

    NCLB in 2006 is not verbatim NCLB as originally passed--in part because some sections were a hardship on rural schools where one teacher was teaching several subjects and the "qualified teacher " provisions were a hardship on small districts where they had a hard time even keeping teachers there when many would rather live in cities.

    There is a small schools association which has yearly conventions (the sort of schools where the high school graduating class may be less than 100 kids). These schools face different problems than large urban schools. I have substituted in such schools, and they don't fit into "one size fits all" views of "what the public schools are like". As I recall, there were members of Congress across the country who invited Paige to their states to see such schools. You yourself should visit such schools sometime. It might be an eye opening experience. Unless of course you only want to believe statistics and not see the actual schools lest they blow your theories with their real life situations.

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    christopher, Could you offer some data? I am interested in any correction you might have (if any).

    LT, I have gotten into the classroom occasionally, every year for the last 20 years. Two in my immediate family are there on a daily basis. Several of my extended family are teachers/in administration. I am not defending Paige's remarks, I think they should be portrayed accurately, however.

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    Christopher--

    Oh, I definitely agree that you have to be careful how you do this with the younger children. Adding on more time will also increase the need for time for kids to be able to spend some quiet time by themselves, naps, and preiodic snacks.

    And I know we're not funding education enough now. This isn't a plan to fix that. This is just one of many changes we can make to help improve education. But it's in no way suggested as a fix-all.

    We really have to start looking around the nation, and the world, to see what works and what doesn't. And two of the things that are working around the world are longer school days and school years.

  • LT (unverified)
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    B-- Is Googling Paige's remarks accurate enough?

    That is how I found this--think it was Wikipedia. On February 23, 2004, at a White House meeting with the nation's governors, Paige criticized the National Education Association (NEA) for obstructing "No Child Left Behind's historic education reforms," calling the NEA a "terrorist organization." He later said it "was an inappropriate choice of words" and apologized later the same day, but maintained that the NEA uses "obstructionist scare tactics" in opposing the law.

    Here's my question: did he ever enumerate those "scare tactics", or was questioning the details publicly "obstructionist" because whatever he wanted was to be accepted without question or debate? Do you have information that Paige never apologized for his remarks?

    Poor choice of words is poor choice of words.

    I thought Kulongoski's " I can locate a Lowe's outside of Lebanon, or I can put Amy's Kitchen down in Medford, or I can get Yahoo out in Beaverton, ..." shows about as much understanding of the unemployed and underemployed in this state --not all of whom would qualify for jobs at Amy's Kitchen or Lowes or Yahoo--as when Charlie says "Until PERS is completely dismantled Oregon will never be able to fund education in a way that will result in reasonable class sizes and better overall results."

    Does he really believe that the best Oregon teachers would not move to other states if there was an abrupt change of retirement plan and they were told that it was the employees, not the PERS Board, that made the mistakes? Would the courts allow complete dismantling given earlier rulings about the sanctity of contracts?

    And if we don't get a more common sense House, what guarantee do we have that any money saved from changing PERS wouldn't go to business tax cuts rather than school funding?

    I don't believe there is a "magic bullet".

    But I do like Jim Hill's idea of outside audits of school district budgets, and that idea discussed last year about statewide insurance pool for school employees.

    But that might reveal that just maybe it isn't unionized employees and their retirement package which are the only reasons for school funding problems. Maybe there are people who are not unionized school employees who have a vested interest in the status quo.

    What if the END PERS IMMEDIATELY campaign isn't just about what they say is a fatally flawed retirement system, but a smokescreen to avoid detailed examination of the status quo? What if the anti-union folks don't want to admit there are other players than teacher and classified employee unions and factors other than the contract language on retirement benefits? There are claims that the OEA tells all teachers what to think. Do all school administrators allow COSA to tell them what to believe? When new school board members are sworn in, do they take an oath of office and another oath to follow the OSBA party line? Or are they elected officials representing the voters who elected them?

    Let's see Kulongoski, Sorenson, Mannix, Saxton, Atkinson give us their views on school district audits and statewide school employees insurance pool--where they stand and why. THEN we can have an intelligent debate on something other than "trust me--killing PERS will end school funding woes because I say so, but don't ask for detailed evidence".

  • didntpost1sttime (unverified)
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    Didn't 1st time through post for some reason(apologies if it duplicates)

    This is getting beyond ridiculous. I was reading through the posts waiting for the PERS issue to arise and yep...there it is. I'm not even going to address it, the stock market will take care of whatever responses I might offer. If not, then a promise made is a promise kept.

    For Jenni, I recognize and applaud your intent, but I have to take you to task for the age-old "forest for the trees" approach. All of us would welcome an opportunity to get paid for what we already do for free. Not a weekend goes by that I don't drive myself to school and log in to the ol' Sonitrol and spend a good 3-4 hours in my classroom, alone, without students, to get work done. The log-in sheet is filled with colleagues who are doing the same. I also routinely spend until 6pm or later, daily, in the building dealing with all of the various crises that have cropped up during the day that I can't attend to because I am -----wait for it----dealing with students. Then I go home to my lovely wife and rabbit and guess what....grade papers. Which I don't do at school because I like to drink scotch and smoke cigarettes as I grade. I also like to see my wife.

    A longer school day is a dream for me because it would give me more instructional time, but alas a longer day, as you describe it, means more "situations". I can't remember the last time I had a true "duty free" lunch. My contractual prep period is sacred to me, but yet, there is always the endless stream of students who "just need one minute" and so....explain to me how lengthening the school day would decrease my workload, allow me to do what I (most of my colleagues ) already do anyway, and furthermore get people like Mr. Baillie and Charlie in Gresham off my back with their incessant yammering about PERS.

    Look folks, there is this great model called the QEM, (quality education model) and yes yes yes it has flaws, and yes yes yes it needs to be revised, and yes yes yes I know I know it is unrealistic, but darnit, if we tried it just for one biennium....or even came close (QEM =7.1bil, actual = 5.24Bil) then maybe Oregonians would get a true education system.

    I get the right's point, defund the system so that it is so ineffective that we can scrap the whole thing entirely and move to private or dare I say...voucher funded religious education. Look I'm sorry that public education is the only thing that's been proven to equalize society, and I'm sorry I don't pray with my classes, and I'm sorry I want a decent salary and a nice retirement, and I'm sorry that Ol' Mr. Meany made fun of you back in 1987 and so you hate all teachers, and I'm sorry that memories of middle school make you wet your bed again, but jeeezus h christ on a bicycle we're doing the best we can with what you've given us. And as for teachers who are leaving at 3pm and going to the golf course, I'd love to kick their putter into the water hazard because that one s.o.b. makes us all look bad. But you know what, he or she is probably inches away from retirement and has probably earned the right to slack off a bit because they spent 30 years dealing with everything from counseling a pregant girl to physically breaking up a fight to going to the funeral of a student who died too young to some hotshot administrator to the inability of students to appreciate Hemingway to reading about how greedy you are in some newspaper. And they have probably gotten to the point where they can do their job in the time alloted. But me, with only 9 years in, I'm not leaving early to go golfing. And the new guy we just hired.....he sure as heck isn't leaving early even though his newly pregnant wife is yelling at him about how much time he spends working.

    Its a job, and I love it. I love what I do, I love my kids, and I respect my colleagues, but the only 'reform" ideas I respect are from people who do what I do, and have been doing it for a few years.

    So to the teachers and EA's on this blog I salute you, to the supporters - thanks for the support, and to the detractors - well....really I don't know what to say other than, thank you for keeping us honest. And to Jenni, you might want to reword your proposal to more accurately reflect your intent, but thanks for the discussion.

    And one more thing, any coach or club advisor will tell you that getting a kid to stay past 3:15pm is amazing. Getting them ALL to stay (babysitting, job, doctor app't, counseling session, work-release, picking up little sister, need a ride home) is a near miracle.

  • Joanne R (unverified)
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    I second what didntpost1sttime said. For all I've read on this blog, and the several hours I've spent going over everything I could find on the PPS website, and taking into consideration my experiences going to school in the PPS system from k-12 I'm still sticking with more parent involvment. I can't help to think of a friend of ours who was down on her luck and stayed with us for a few months until she could get back on her feet. She had 2 kids in grade school in the Milwaukie schools. One day my boyfriend saw her son, who was in 5th or 6th grade, up on 82nd avenue when he should have been in school. When he told her about it her reaction was 'Oh, that's no problem, I skipped school a lot when I was a kid too.'. I never once saw her say anything to the kids about homework, even though I knew they had to have some occassionally at least, I find it difficult to believe that a kid could go for 3 months without even one homework assignment. Those kids are probably in the 'schools are failing' stats. When I was in school, I had friends who's parents bird dogged them and friends who's parents didn't. All the kids who had parents that kept on them did well, most of the ones who's parents did not, did poorly. I think Portland's spending plenty on schools, the hours are pretty much the same as they were when I was a kid, and yes the teachers do work their butts off. For all of the different solutions I hear day in and day out to 'fix' the schools, the one I never hear is increased parental involvment. Something else I've noticed is that people site the difference in acheivement between charter schools and the regular public schools. Irregardless of the teacher pay discrepancies which a lot of talk show hosts use to try to support the argument that public school teachers are paid too much, the big difference I'll bet you'll find between the average private/charter school student and the average public school student, is parental involvment. People who have taken the time and effort to place their kids in a shool other than the public school that their kid is automatically elligable for, care a great deal about their kid's education. The people who couldn't give a rip are leaving their kids in the public schools, and they, along with the kids who are still in the public schools who's parents do care, are what are making up the acheivement stats for the public schools. If I were a parent with a kid in PPS, instead of getting on the teachers' backs, or the tax payers' backs, I'd go after my fellow parents who were slacking off their job of raising their kids properly. Hello, if you're a parent that's your main job, raising your kids, yes? The schools aren't a glorified babysitting service. Kids are going there for a reason, and it's your job as a parent to make sure that your child is taking full advantage of the considerable resources that your local school system is offering. And yes there is the occasionall slacker teacher here and there. In all my years of going to PPS, I actually came across a grand total of 2 that I could identify, one being the typing teacher that I mentioned in one of my earlier posts. So your job as a parent is to bird dog the school too. And I don't want to hear anyone whining about 'I work too much to pay attention to my kid' or 'I want to go out and party' . You're the one who decided to have a kid, now suck it up and do a proper job.

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    Thank you for your comments. LT, Again, I am not defending Paige's comments. He did (and should have) apologize for improper choice of words. It certainly wasn't directed toward teachers.

    JoannR, I agree that parental guidance is very important. I have often wondered if collectively, we have the worst generation of parents going through now? What is the reason?

    didn'tpost1sttime, Thank you for your hard, dedicated effort.

    For all of you and others, how does Oregon overcome the $500 Million per year difference between Oregon individual K-12 compensation, and t Washington? As previously noted, "That difference is equal to over 7,000 additional teachers, longer school years/days and complete programs. A person needs to go no further than this to realize why Oregon is in a funding crisis."

    This comparison goes beyond Washington, to many other states which have academic results superior to Oregon. And yes, demographics and cost-of-living are factored. And yes, this is the primary reason why there is a K-12 funding crisis in Oregon.

  • Charlie in Gresham (unverified)
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    Teachers like LT and Didntpost aren't as stupid as they try to pretend. They KNOW that PERS, as it is currently structured, is fundamentally unsustainable. Long term investments in the stock market make money because the "up" cycles out number the "down" cycles and the average earnings over the past 28 years has been....8.7%

    HOWEVER....PERS not only GUARANTEES 8% (unlike any private sector plan)but in addition PERS allows the public employee to KEEP anything over 8% during the "up" cycles of the market. HOW PREPOSTEROUS!

    PERS would be not be the albatross around Oregon tax payers neck IF the public employees pension accounts earned exactly what the stock market earned each year....like the rest of us.

    The teachers who view this as a "promise made is a promise kept" are greedly trying to stall the debate until they can personally retire before any reforms are made. Pension plans are changed, reduced, or eliminated each and every day in the private sector. There are Federal laws to ensure an employee receives all the earnings in their account prior to any revision....but there is no law prohibiting an employer from making necessary changes. Until tax payers rise up and demand a major overhaul, state government and education in Oregon will be in crisis.

    It's the children, aged, and poor who are paying the price for public employees retiring at age 58 with obscenely rich pensions. If school teachers are willing to accept that then fine...but don't you DARE rant about citizens hurting the children by casting a NO vote on school tax measures....the harm to children is predominantly being inflicted by those desperately hanging on to a pension program that is bankrupting every level of government in Oregon.

    Enjoy the sand and sun.

  • Sid Leader (unverified)
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    PPS, the largest school district between Canada and San Francisco is about to lay off HUNDREDS of teachers and cut the school year by a month or more... maybe two... and you folks have a post about "longer school days"?

    Man, my friends back East are right, you guys are out to lunch, sometimes.

  • addiction sucks (unverified)
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    PPS, the largest school district between Canada and San Francisco is about to lay off HUNDREDS of teachers and cut the school year by a month or more... maybe two...<

    and it's your fault

  • Sid Leader (unverified)
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    Heya Addie.

    Me and my 3,000 PPS teacher pals worked for free for TWO WEEKS a few years ago because you said you were flat broke and couldn't pay the bills.

    Remember, honey?

  • mrfearless47 (unverified)
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    Charlie in Gresham:

    To someone who claims to know so much about PERS, let me be the first to break the news to you. 1) PERS hires since 1996 have been earning exactly what the market earns - no more, no less. 2) PERS hires since August 29, 2003 get no employer match on their money. What they get is a defined benefit plan plus a employee-funded 401K which earns exactly what it earns.

    The only people with any sort of a guarantee are the Tier 1 members (those hired before 1996). The 2003 legislature prevented those members from contributing another nickel to their PERS accounts, instead redirecting the employee contribution (whether "picked up" or paid for by the employers) into a 401-K account.

    What you forget at this point is that the number of Tier 2 and Tier 3 members continues to increase, while the number of Tier 1 employees decline at a fairly modest pace.

    The rate guarantee has been upheld twice now by two different Oregon Supreme Courts - first in the OSPOA decision in 1996 and again in the Strunk decision in 2003. The current formulation of the PERS statutes (as of the end of the legislature in 2003) prevents the PERS Board from pretty much ever paying Tier 1 members MORE than the guaranteed rate, while the Court in the Strunk decision ruled that the PERS Board was under no legal obligation to pay MORE than the guaranteed rate. So, there is no likelihood that we'll ever see a Tier 1 member get more or less than the guaranteed rate. Note that the guaranteed rate itself (currently 8%) isn't written into stone. The rate is based on recommendations of the actuary in order to develop both payout tables for retirees, to determine the system's financial health, and to set employer contributions. There is no law that prevents the PERS Board, upon the recommendation of the actuary, to lower the guaranteed rate. What makes this a tricky proposition is that there are some consequences to taxpayers if the rate is lowered. The guaranteed rate influences the employer contribution rate. The higher the guaranteed rate of return, the LESS the employers have to contribute to keep the system healthy. There isn't any easy way to decouple the guarantee (technically, the actuarially assumed rate of return) from the various entities affected by it. You lower the guarantee for members, you increase the employer contribution rate.

    Wanna terminate PERS. It can happen. But the old "accrued benefits" problem will be there, regardless of who YOU think is using it as a scare tactic. It IS an issue of major concern, and is one of the reasons why the legislature has, so far, stayed far away from it.

    So, I think you're beating an already dying horse. The PERS issue, while it is a popular whipping boy right now, is on the path towards self-correction. It just won't, under any circumstances, occur overnight or even in a few years. It will take time and it may briefly become worse before it starts to get better. I'd get over it if I were you.

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    "...how does Oregon overcome the $500 Million per year difference between Oregon individual K-12 compensation, and Washington? As previously noted, "That difference is equal to over 7,000 additional teachers, longer school years/days and complete programs. A person needs to go no further than this to realize why Oregon is in a funding crisis."

    When Oregon was a high spending state (per student) having some of the best paid educators was not a problem, now that we are a low spending state (per student) we have a problem. Oregon is on the way down in these national rankings and Washington is on the way up and that exacerbates the issue.

    The percent of personal income in Oregon that goes to public education has gone down in the last ten plus years.

    These facts suggest that it is more than just individual compensation driving the funding crisis.

  • Sid Leader (unverified)
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    Heya Ed... after 15 straight years of slashing our budgets, y'all ever think about looking at the REVENUES ledger, you know, maybe just for fun???

    But first, see ya in court!

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    Ed, You have really pinpointed the problem for Oregon.

    You say correctly, "we are a low spending state (per student) we have a problem." We are ranked 31st in latest update from NEA (August, 2005). The problem arises because our spending per student is in line (approx.) with our affluence level of 36th in the U.S. At the same time we are individually compensating K-12 employees among the highest in the U.S. (8th highest). That is creating the limiting factor (fewer teachers, large classes, curtailed programs etc.) for Oregon. We cannot afford both, very high cost employees and the sufficient number of employees. It is a simple economic reality that many people in Oregon do not understand, or refuse to understand. Until this is understood, we will continue experiencing K-12 funding problems. States such as Connecticut, Massachusetts or similar affluent states can afford more expensive employees. We can't. Just that simple.

  • (Show?)

    Please do no try and put words into my mouth...I believe that the problem is best addressed with a variety of approaches, one of them must be with additional revenues to move us back up in the per student rankings.

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    Ed, What has been the advantage for Oregon to have among the highest compensated K-12 employees in the U.S.? Certainly, there is not a correlation to academic results, which one might expect. I have eight external (to Oregon) studies on my desk which rate Oregon K-12 as average or below, when compared to other states in academic success.

    The $500 Million per year difference in individual K-12 compensation just between Oregon and Washington represents 7,000 additional teachers, full programs and complete school years. Additional revenue, without restructuring allocation, is a perpetuation of the 20-year evolution toward unsatisfactory K-12 funding. Oregon has done a poor job in managing revenue, as evidenced by our predicament. Our results are less than admirable considering we have spent more per student, than all adjacent states and most states West of the Mississippi for the last 15 years. It is not "lack of revenue that is the problem.

  • (Show?)

    You said...

    "A person needs to go no further than this to realize why Oregon is in a funding crisis."

    I said...

    "These facts suggest that it is more than just individual compensation driving the funding crisis."

    I think that the facts stand up, this crisis is not only about individual compensation as you suggest, there is more to it.

  • (Show?)

    Can we please get back to the topic at hand??

    This wasn't a debate about PERS.

    If we could get back on topic, it would be much easier to find the comments and questions from those actually talking about the longer school day. Then maybe I could stop answering the same questions over and over, as they wouldn't be buried in an argument over PERS.

    didn'tpost1sttime

    I know teachers already do a lot of work that is unpaid. That would be the nice thing about the additional study hall period-- you'd likely only need to supervise it about twice a month, giving you that hour the rest of the days to try and handle/take care of some of the stuff that you need to get done.

    And as I've already said several times during this conversation, during the working out of this plan, it may be that it's agreed that an increase in pay is needed to cover the extra time. But it would still be less than if you added that time in extra days. I'm not going to say why, as I've already said it several times above.

    The proposal that got listed at the top came from a comment on another blog entry. I didn't want to say pages and pages on the topic, as it wasn't the place to do so. It was just for the listing of ideas that the state could look at. I had no idea that it would end up as a separate blog entry.

    <hr/>

    To me, longer school days is something that is going to have to happen at some point. It we're ever going to compete in a global market, if we're ever going to get anywhere near the top in education rankings around the world, we're going to have to lengthen both the school day and the school year. I don't know how many times the government and non-profits are going to have to come to this conclusion before we finally wise up. It's been the conclusion to studies since 1983, but we have yet to make the changes. And we're falling further and further behind.

    If we don't start looking at what's right about education systems in the U.S. and around the world, we're only going to fall even more behind.

  • (Show?)

    You are right about this getting off topic, I apologize for my part in that, I just wanted to correct some mis information.

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    Jenni, "Longer school days" (if it had a possibility in Oregon) will be directly influenced by funding. It will not happen without a funding adjustment of some type. There has been considerable research on the topic. Perhaps you could present the information you feel is worthwhile.

  • Baillie (unverified)
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    A recent study by West-Ed, the western regional laboratory for the U.S. Department of Education, identifies three different measures of time in education that differ qualitatively and in terms of policy implications. Instructional Time. The number of hours a student is in class—"seat time." Engaged Time. "Time-on-task" in which a student participates in a learning activity. Academic Learning Time. The precise time when an instructional activity is aligned with a student's readiness and when learning occurs. The West-Ed study found, based on a review of the academic literature, that:

    There is little to no relationship between instructional time and student achievement. There is some relationship between engaged time and achievement. There is a larger relationship between academic learning time and achievement. The West-Ed study summarized the role of time in education as follows:

    The research literature suggests that, while time is certainly a critical factor, by itself it has little direct impact on student performance. Simply adding time to the school year or day would not likely produce large scale gains in student achievement.

  • jrw (unverified)
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    Okay, here's a little tidbit for those of you contemplating the time issue...and Bailie finally did find an appropriate quote.

    That said, here's something for you to think about. One of the biggest shocks I've had since I went into the school system as a teacher is the amount of time that standardized testing takes out of instructional time. Last year, before we started testing at my school, a couple of the old timers who taught Language Arts and Math said that standardized testing on computers (the latest fad), with at least two attempts per student, takes a month out of instructional time.

    No way, I thought then. I asked them to explain. And they did. Between teaching specific test-taking strategies, how to take a computerized test (which includes the protocol for logging in, works much better if each student can get onto the computer themselves), administering the test, supervising the students who have finished ahead of their classmates, catching up absent students, dealing with the inevitable computer/server problems, access to the computer lab, and etc, etc, etc....it took about a month to get through the process.

    February and March, essentially, are school test-taking months, with later options to retake the test to make the school look better (if possible).

    Just another data point. I have heard comparable things from a friend teaching in a state which still does paper and pencil tests--the process of setting up the class to take the test, handing out the tests, and getting them started then collecting them....about the same amount of time.

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    Ed, I appreciate your input and do not like leaving your very important information adrift.

    You said, "I think that the facts stand up, this crisis is not only about individual compensation as you suggest, there is more to it."

    Please tell us from your viewpoint, what "is more to it."? I have spent four years researching this subject (K-12 funding) and have concluded that Oregon's relatively very high individual compensation is what sets us apart from other states for K-12 funding problems. I would very much appreciate the "more to it" information.

    Thank you

  • (Show?)

    Bailie--

    Yes, obviously funding comes into this, just like it does on every single topic that has to do with education.

    HOWEVER that does not mean we turn every single discussion on an education related topic into an argument over PERS.

    How about we stick to the merits of adding time to the school day (or school year) and stop bickering over PERS, teacher compensation, etc.

    jrw--

    You're right about spending too much time teaching towards standardized tests. That's one of the big problems with our standardized tests.

  • mrfearless47 (unverified)
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    Jenni Simonis asks: "How about we stick to the merits of adding time to the school day (or school year) and stop bickering over PERS, teacher compensation, etc."

    In days long ago, back during the 50's and early 60's when I was in K-12, our school days began at 8 a.m. and ended at 3:30 (this was in California). I went to a high school that had 3800 students in 3 grades (not the Oregon 4 grade hi school). I attended my 40th reunion some years ago and the school's vice-principal when I was there (who's now about 90 years old) noted with incredible pride that nearly 60% of our class graduated from a 4 year college. He also noted that we lost almost 10% of our class to the Vietnam war and he observed that few of those went to or finished college. The point here --- and I'm being totally facetious lest anyone misinterpret --- is that not only did we have a longer school day, but we also had a compulsory draft. Students were a lot more motivated then than they are now. When you are faced with the possibility of graduating from high school and being immediately and involuntarily conscripted to armed services to fight against people that most of us had no beef with, school performance went up dramatically. Maybe before we lengthen the school day or the school year, we ought to bring back the draft. We aren't gonna get out of Iraq anytime soon and we'll be needing more soldiers than are willing to volunteer. I bet if we brought back the draft, school achievement would go up dramatically, especially if we coupled it with college deferments.

    Seriously, I think the length of the school day does make a difference. My daughter goes to an expensive private school that excels in turning out successful graduates who end up successfully going to college, graduating, and becoming productive adults. For the past 10 years, more than 95% of the graduates have gone on to college. Admittedly, the private school handpicks their students and coddles them, but this doesn't explain the post-high school success rates when these students end up at colleges that don't coddle. These students are taught survival skills and academic skills that just can't be taught in the public schools with the current level of unfunded mandates and distractions. But there is a relevant point here. My daughter's school day begins at 8:00 a.m. and ends at 3:10 p.m. and it has since 1st grade -- she's in 7th now. The school year is the same length as PPS, but the school gets about 8 extra days in by adding meaningful instructional time on to the school day. I do think it makes a difference.

  • Marvinlee (unverified)
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    JRW asks "how many of you working in other jobs ... will of your own free will and the kindness of your heart give your employer time without compensation?" I certainly did not work overtime out of free will and kindness. But I did put in very long hours and many weekend days over many years because that was a normal part of being a professional in my career field. I know that circumstances vary and that some professionals have predictable hours. But the fact that teachers work more than the scheduled number of hours per day concerns me only if abusive labor practices occur.

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