I'm A Brand New School Parent

Leslie Carlson

Elliott_art
Last week was the first week of school for my oldest son, who is a brand-new kindergartener in a Portland Public School. I’ve gotten a new role as a result: I’ve become a brand-new public school parent.

These days, being a public school parent entails a lot of work. Not just the work of making lunches and getting kids to school on time, which was the basic definition of the job when I was young. No, these days a lot more is expected of us parents.

Just take a look at some of what parents do at our school:

· Routine maintenance of the school grounds, including trimming shrubs, weeding flower beds, planting trees and flowers and spreading wood chips.

· Upkeep of the school building, including painting the halls and installing playground equipment.

· Staffing the library after school, taking charge of the school’s banking program, running the school’s yearly carnival and organizing the yearly “kindergarten round-up” for new students.

· Raising money all year long to pay for things like playground equipment, gym equipment, art supplies and other classroom essentials.

· Volunteering in the classroom, which these days doesn’t mean bringing cupcakes on your kid’s birthday. Instead, parents function almost as teacher’s aides, supervising many aspects of student learning activities.

· Provide routine school supplies for use by the teacher and the class, such as scissors, tape, glue, tissues and even cleaning products. (My kindergartener’s required supplies for his first day totaled nearly $50.)

Just today, I got an email on the school listserv that asked for parent volunteers to help the kindergarten classes navigate the strange new world of the school lunchroom, in order that “the kids can more easily find the help they need, and the teachers might actually get a lunch break!”

I’m all for parent involvement, and I don’t want this to sound like a complaint about having to volunteer. I have the time and I’m ready to do my part. I do believe that parents banding together to support a school helps that school become stronger. It’s certainly helped our school to have a close-knit community of parents and other volunteers who support the school any way they can.

The necessity of parents doing so much, however, has exposed for me the huge gaps left by the chronic under-funding of all schools in Portland.

I remember when most of these gaps were filled by trained professionals: a school’s janitors, groundskeepers and most importantly, its teachers and professional staff. In my day, weeding the flowerbeds and providing cleaning supplies and yes, helping kindergarteners negotiate the lunchroom weren’t the responsibility of parents.

Because of these gaps, I worry about what is happening in schools whose parents are unable or unwilling to give so much of their time, energy and money. What happens to single parents, who have to work to keep food on the table? What happens if a parent’s employer can’t or won’t let them volunteer on a weekly basis?

Worst of all, are we creating a two-tiered school system, with “good” schools supported by middle class parents and “poor” schools left to struggle on their own?


  • Robert Harris (unverified)
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    Good piece.

    While the state attempted to equalize schools a few years ago by centralizing the funding through Salem, people who can will eventually get their kids the extras.

    Schools with preponderantly middle and upper middle class parents benefit from:

    • PTA's and PTO's that can raise money for art programs and athletics.
    • Establishment of foundations that can raise money to endow special projects
    • More parent volunteers because both parents aren't working to support the family
    • When parents work for Intel, the parent can get time off and volunteer in their childs school and the school gets $$ from Intel. When parents work for Walmart....well lets just say they don't have that type of program available.

    I also worry about the fees. In addition to the many fees we paid was a $10 "paper" fee. They say its for copy paper. They may try to make it sound rational, but why not just have the student pay $10 "floor wax" fee, or "electricity" fee. We can afford it, but I worry about the families who can't easily afford all these fees. In reality they're more like a co-pay and we should feel pretty uncomfortable charging kids for a public education thats supposed to be free.

  • sarah gilbert (unverified)
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    you make an excellent point (or points), Leslie, and I think that what you fear has already been created. just look at the schools that are "failing" - they're all in lower-income neighborhoods where most families are either "working poor" or single-parent-led. when parents don't help their kids at home OR at school, the kids are being failed all around. and what about schools where many of the parents don't have the money or resources to even BE on the listserv?

    or, even, dual-income families who are making decent money but, for career reasons or because they're working demanding jobs, simply don't have the free time to help out in the lunchroom or mow the lawn? does that make them "bad" parents?

  • Brian Santo (unverified)
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    At my kids' PPS elementary school, we're diverting money that would have been used on classroom, library and other school supplies simply to hire back two of the several aides we lost to budget cuts.

    I cannot begin to tell you how angry I am that approximately half of this state -- including the half that apparently controls our government -- fails to understand the value of education, and is acting to de-value our schools.

    The state government has a clearly-stated constitutional duty to adequately fund education. Anybody other than the anti-tax hominids in Larlarsonland claiming that education in this state is funded adequately? Didn't think so.

    So can anyone tell me who has standing to sue the state to force them to live up to its responsibility?

  • howard (unverified)
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    Leslie, you asked 'are we creating a two-tiered school system, with “good” schools supported by middle class parents and “poor” schools left to struggle on their own?'

    A 3-tiered system of public schools has evolved in the U. S. that author/commentator Jim Merrow describes as mostly excellent schools for the children of the affluent; good enough schools for middle-class students; and mostly bad schools for the children of the poor.

    Perhaps consideration should be given to reviving the egalitarian concept of Commonality in the public schools rather than encouraging the Portlands to keep up with the Riverdales.

  • Ruth Adkins (unverified)
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    Great post. The sad truth is, we already have created that system. Many schools have a mix of families enabling the entire vessel to limp along pretty well (or very well). But many other schools are left to sink.

    PPS now does an annual enrollment data analysis in the fall (as part of the lead-up for the annual round of neighborhood school closures...don't get me started).

    That data analysis should include the amount of money raised by that school's PTA (if any) and foundation (if any). That is a key part of the "reality" at each school and should be open knowledge.

    To take one small but telling example--did you know that Jefferson high school doesn't even have a yearbook? That's just not right. When some schools can raise tens of thousands of dollars (or more) for enrichment, and another school doesn't even have a yearbook, I call that separate and unequal.

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    Leslie, You say, The necessity of parents doing so much, however, has exposed for me the huge gaps left by the chronic under-funding of all schools in Portland.

    What you have exposed is the very poor allocation of funding, not only in Portland but the whole state. The average Oregon teacher is the 8th highest compensated when compared to all other states (and Portland's average is above the Oregon average). For some reason, we in Oregon have made the decision to have large classes, poor graduation rates, shortened school years, curtailed programs at the expense of having among the highest individually compensated K-12 employees in the U.S. It can be quantified to about $700 million per year above the 25th ranking state for teacher compensation. Unfortunately, the very high individual compensation does not directly correlate to high academic performance. Compare New Hampshire (ranked 25th in teacher salaries) to Oregon for academic results.

    http://www.ripolicyanalysis.org/PublicEducation.html

    There are many other states for comparison, also. Even when figuring cost of living, Oregon salaries are very high in comparison to other states.

  • Sid Leader (unverified)
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    Great post, Leslie. Thanks for helping out. Education is a team game.

    Now if we could only get our Big Fat Business pals to suit up and play instead of being the Judge Crater of Oregon -- Missing In Action.

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    I was a brand new school parent too -- 12 years ago. Now that my oldest child is a senior in high school I can reflect on all that I have done as a volunteer. Site councils, PTO officer, classroom help, lobbying in Salem, etc. etc. And although I agree with most of what this post contends, fixing public education will take more than just additional dollars.

    Equally important is confronting the increasing trend of measuring success by standardized tests. Teachers have their creativity stifled by curriculum in a box, designed to get students to pass tests. Kids who can memorize facts and regurgitate them on multiple choice tests are considered successful regardless of whether they love learning. Good grades and test scores don't necessarily mean good thinkers, but thanks to NCLB that's how we label schools.

    Every parent (and educator for that matter) should read Alfie Kohn's book What Does it Mean to Be Well Educated.
    http://www.alfiekohn.org/books/wdimtbwe.htm

  • Jerry (unverified)
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    Re Bailie's assertion regarding Oregon's teacher compensation. Personally, I would like to lead the nation in teacher compensation, and minimum wage, and health care. As a private sector employee, I have enjoyed my higher than average wages so I don't understand why I should begrudge it to others-especially those who have such a challenging but crucial job.

    As has been noted here before, the outflow of tax dollars to extra-urban Oregon is a significant contributor to our funding shortfalls. I don't believe we should abandon rural Oregonians and their children, but if they are going to drink from the well, they should elect legislators who occasionally find ways to fill it.

    That doesn't happen in Oregon anymore.

    Which is probably why I took my child out of the public school system this year and pay even more money to pay private school teachers even higher salaries. For our family, it was a rational decision. I worry about those without the means to make similar choices.

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    Leslie, I feel for you. #3 child just entered kindergarten, one more to go!

    Glad to see you're still hanging in. Good for you.

    My wife and I have started to have serious conversations with our children (1 in HS, 1 in MS, 1 in kgarten, 1 entering in two years). I worry most about the HS and MS.

    Here's the deal in an affluent, middle class school (Sellwood): 7th grade algebra has over 40 students. Beginning spanish has over 40 students. No class has less than 30 students. There are six class periods rather than seven due to budget cuts. All teachers hired to teach electives have been let go, and the current staff is offering "electives" as best they can, many out of their area of expertise.

    Cleveland? I just pray we can get my son through the next three years.

    But if nothing happens on the loca tax/levy front this year, and with PPS facing an 80 million dollar cut next year, the 'Couv is looking awfully attractive.

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    Jerry, Thank you for your comments. Good discussion. You say, "Personally, I would like to lead the nation in teacher compensation, and minimum wage, and health care."

    The problem is your suggestions are not realistic, without sacrificing the other parts of the public sector. Oregon is ranked 36th in affluence (as measured by the usual measurement of "per capita income". What you suggest would be 2-3,000 fewer teachers than we now have, and even larger class sizes. We now have the 4th highest student teacher ratio in the U.S.. With teacher compensation at about 15th to 20th (instead of 8th), we would have approx. 5,000 additional teachers, complete school years, full programs and most likely higher graduation rates and academic results. Higher individual compensation does not correlate to higher results. Oregon is a very good example of that.

    I am interested to see your data that private sector teachers are compensated higher than Oregon K-12 teachers. Your suggestion, goes against all data that I have previously seen. Thank you

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    The numbers I've seen for the amount we spend per student is right at, or less than, the national average. This amount includes what we spend on teachers (salary & benefits).

    So obviously the main problem isn't how much we spend on teachers.

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    Jenni, You have identified the problem exactly. It isn't the total amount of compensation spent for teachers. It is the cost per individual teacher that is the problem. Our total cost spent on education is roughly in line with the affluence in Oregon. The problem arises when the individual compensation is so high that we have K-12 education problems unique to Oregon. We have stifled the expansion of programs and teachers because they are individually so expensive. It (the high individual compensation) is the primary reason why (in some districts) teacher contracts are being terminated and programs curtailed.

    It is as simple as this: If you go to the store you can buy 10 apples at 10 cents each and spend one dollar. Or, you can go to the store and buy 11 apples for 9 cents each for 99 cents. If the apples are the same, you are better off with the 11 apples (unless you don't like apples).

    Oregon would be better off with 5,000 additional teachers in grades K-3, full school years and full programs for the same amount of cost. Most studies do not show that by spending more money per individual teacher, you will get a correlating increase in academic results. Many of the states which compensate considerably less than Oregon, have far superior academic results (even when cost of living and demographics are considered).

    You say, "So obviously the main problem isn't how much we spend on teachers." The main problem is the high compensation per individual teacher. In Oregon, the individual compensation is relatively, very high (8th highest in the U.S.).

  • iggir (unverified)
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    what we need is for the military to take over funding for public schools. the only cost association would be for the kiddies to spend 4 years in the military branch of their choice after they graduate (hell, even if they don't). that way the Army can make its quotas and all all those kids can get an education. if they run it like a boot camp, then the kids can be the ones painting the hallways and tending to the landscaping...let the parents off the hook.

  • mrfearless47 (unverified)
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    Leslie: Don't despair. This issue isn't limited to the public schools. Our youngest (by a long chock) daughter attends a very expensive private school in Portland. After paying 5 figure tuition, parents are still expected to volunteer to do many of the things you are expecting to do. Moreover, we get guilt-tripped to boot. "your tuition only pays for 82% of the cost to educate your child. please donate to the annual fund so that we can landscape the schoolgrounds and send our teachers to meetings in Australia". The boomers have inflicted this pain on themselves and the schools. Welcome to school, public or private -- ain't much difference in level of parental involvement these days.

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    Wrong. The problem isn't compensation for teachers, their salary, their benefits, etc.

    That cost is included when you break out how much is spent per student.

    That number is still lower than the national average.

    So if you cut teacher compensation, one of two things will happen:

    • the amount spent per student will decrease, as additional teachers aren't hired with the money

    • the amount spent per student stays the same, as the savings are used for additional teachers

    With the first option you end up with teachers that have the highest classroom sizes in the nation with lower pay.

    With the second option you end up with more teachers (and smaller class sizes), but still our cost per student is lower than the national average.

    We need to be spending more money per student, which isn't done just by cutting teacher compensation and spending it elsewhere (such as for funding programs or more teachers).

    The problem is that not enough money is making it into the classroom (as in paying for teachers, books, materials, etc.). There's been a push by some that there be a requirement that at least a certain percentage of a school's operating budget must be spent in the classroom. That's not a bad idea.

    And we are in no way having education problems unique to Oregon. This is happening all over the U.S. In Texas, schools almost had to start late because they still didn't have funding set for the schools.

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    Jenni, Could you explain this, "That cost is included when you break out how much is spent per student." The cost is the same per student whether you have Oregon's 29,000 teachers or the desired 34,000 teachers. Which would be better?

    Why do you say additional teachers "wouldn't" be hired? OEA wants additional teachers and so do the majority (I don't know any that don't) of school boards. Where do you think the revenue would end up?

    You say (2nd option), With the second option you end up with more teachers (and smaller class sizes), but still our cost per student is lower than the national average. That would be considerably better than our present situation. Why wouldn't it be better?

    Why should Oregon teachers be the 8th highest compensated in the U.S.? Especially since the academic results do not correlate to that high individual compensation.

    You say, "We need to be spending more money per student, which isn't done just by cutting teacher compensation and spending it elsewhere (such as for funding programs or more teachers). I am suggesting that there wouldn't be any change in "per student spending" by gradually lowering Oregon K-12 teacher compensation and hiring more teachers. Increasing "per student spending" is a totally separate issue that I am not opposed.

  • Sid Leader (unverified)
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    Interesting discussion, but I feel our friend bailie is all numbers and no cattle.

    Again.

    And again.

    And again.

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    Sid, You continue to make remarks indicating you don't understand the problems of Oregon K-12 funding. What are your suggestions? The present situation is that Oregon compensates K-12 employees about $700 million more than the average state. The $700 million dollar difference is why Oregon does not have revenue to hire more teachers and add programs. It is why many states which compensate much less, have more teachers and better academic results. The very average Oregon academic results don't match the very high compensation.

    You seem to support the status quo, why? It is not working.

  • (Show?)

    Bailie said:

    Could you explain this, "That cost is included when you break out how much is spent per student."

    The cost per student includes all compensation for teachers (salary, benefits, etc.). So if a school is spending $8,000 per student, that includes all the costs for the teachers as well.

    Yes, it would be better to have more teachers. But we all know that if the teachers took a pay cut what would end up happening is the money would not end up hiring more teachers. They'd rehire administrators first. Then they'd spend money in other areas. The state legislature would also feel they could cut K-12 funding even more, as it wouldn't mean a cut in teachers or days-- they'd just be cutting money that was used for the higher salaries.

    Having more teachers is always a good thing. I never said it wasn't. HOWEVER, it's only one small fix to the problem. We still won't have the number of teachers we need, the amount of supplies needed, custodial staff needed, librarians, etc.

    The biggest part of this problem has absolutely nothing to do with teacher pay or compensation. That's only a very small piece of the problem. The biggest problems are that the state legislature is not adequately funding schools and not enough money is being spent in the classroom (and money in the classroom includes teacher compensation).

    Teachers are always the scapegoat. "They make too much." "Their benefits are too good." Why is it that in the public sector it's a bad thing to treat your employees well, but when companies in the private sector don't follow suit, it's wrong? We should always want employees to be paid well and have good benefits, regardless of whether their paycheck comes from taxes or from commerce.

  • LT (unverified)
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    I live in a school district where the voting public got so fed up with the antics and mismanagement of those in charge of the school district (board, Supt. etc) that we have a majority of our school board elected in 2005 and one is Vice Chair.

    In the news of this week's school board action in our local paper, there was this: Also on Tuesday, the school board is scheduled to: Adopt a new policy limiting the amount of money the district can carry over from year to year, and requiring district staff to provide the board with quarterly revenue and spending reports.

    I realize that it isn't as colorful to talk about the reserves of the school district as to complain that teachers earn too high a salary and their benefits are too good. But I was at the school board candidate forum and heard real anger--apparently district board/management did not share their knowledge of the size of financial reserves with the citizen budget committee, and that is why some of the candidates ran for school board.

    Also, about this stuff we keep reading about "accepted norms" of pay and benefits of public vs. private sector employees, I have always wondered about that. But esp. when I learned about the earnings of a truck driver who has a CDL, works for a company where he is represented by the Teamsters Union, and sometimes works overtime.

    Guess those statistics don't fit the profile. Given the education involved, it would be interesting to know if how the truck driver salary compares to teacher salaries. But that might spoil the fun of those who enjoy saying "If only teachers didn't make so much money...." And maybe there are some who think the truck driver has a more important role in society?

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    Jenni, Simple question. Why should Oregon teachers receive higher individual compensation than teachers in almost every other state?

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    LT, You are correct. Comparing teachers compensation to truck drivers is ridiculous. It is like trying to compare dentist compensation with attorney compensation (or on and on and on). That is why is is better to compare Oregon K-12 teachers compensation with K-12 teachers of other states. Why lower compensation and more teachers is bring academic results that are escaping Oregon. Why Oregon has the 4th highest student/teacher ratio, why our graduation rates are low, why our attendance rates are the worst in the U.S., only ahead of Kentucky? Why Oregon is laying off teachers (and classified, and administration) in some districts and also curtailing programs? no one has to look further than the $700 million per year excess Oregon compensates above the 25th ranking state in K-12 teacher compensation.

    I can understand people with a vested interest in this compensation to be defensive, but is Oregon education "for the children", or is it to have among the highest individually compensated K-12 employees in the U.S.?

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    I think anyone who thinks teachers are overcompensated should spend a day taking charge of a kindergarten class, trying to help 25 wiggly and sometimes rambunctious 5-year-olds learn.

    Trust me, they don't make enough.

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    Leslie, Why should Oregon K teachers get compensated more than those of almost all other states. Wouldn't it be better to have smaller K classes/ more teachers?

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    Bailie: I appreciate your points, but I just don't subscribe to the theory that cutting wages and benefits is a long-term fix for schools. There are hidden costs. For example, if Oregon were 50th in teacher salaries, presumably we'd be saving money, but what if the best teachers (the ones who could find other jobs) went to other states? Then we'd be left with smaller class sizes, yes, but lower-quality teachers. That's not a good solution in my mind.

    Much better to find long-term funding solutions like repealing the kicker and setting up a rainy day fund for schools. The same corporations who got $101 million back in the corporate kicker are always complaining about the quality of Oregon graduates. Let's see them put their money where their mouths are.

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    Leslie, I am not looking for a short term cutting of individual compensation. It took Oregon 20 years to get into this unsustainable situation. I would guess that it will take us 20 years (hopefully less) to get us back into balance.

    You speak of the 50th state in teacher compensation. That would be South Dakota. The academic results do not hinge on high individual compensation. South Dakota has an average of 8 students less per class. If our individual compensation matched South Dakota (and I.m not suggesting it should), we would, just in salary difference, have $462,057,000 per year to hire an additional 6,500 teachers. It would also be desirous for Oregon to match the academic results of South Dakota. http://www.ripolicyanalysis.org/PublicEducation.html

    The $101 million you suggest is dwarfed by the almost $1 billion difference per year when compared to your example of the 50th ranking state in compensation. Also, you would think if teachers would flee a state for "greener pastures", it would be South Dakota. This is not to demean South Dakota, because they are obviously doing something very correct in education, when compared to Oregon. I do realize there is a difference in demographics and cost of living. Other examples abound, however, and Oregon's decision of very high compensation with large class sizes, comes out the loser in almost every comparison.

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    Bailie, you're starting to sound like a one-trick pony. The solution to every problem in Oregon is to pay teachers less, eh? Maybe you could work on a second policy idea.

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    Kari, I am a one trick pony for this subject. I have devoted three years of research, solely about this topic. What you have here is the result of hundreds of pages of research. It is not just a frivolous opinion. The purpose is, "what is best for K-12 education in Oregon and students". My conclusions are not produced lightly. The research has been devoid of politics/special interest groups and personal interests(I have two immediate members of my family in education and PERS members). I have drawn on the research of every group that is available (for me) including NEA, AFT, OSBA, ODE, the Rand Corporation, ECONorthwest, the Chalkboard Project, Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, Center for American Progress and many others.

    What is interesting (and motivating) for me is the response from leading Oregon educational researchers (which are not vested). One in particular, "Your analysis is right on the mark, and we have described the issue to policymakers through the OSBA report you cite and more recent work for the Chalkboard Project."

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    You cannot compare state-by-state on a lot of these issues.

    I can assure you that there is more than one state that has a lower graduation rate than Oregon. Texas is one of them. However, they've learned a trick that helps them to keep their rates low.

    I started my freshman year with more than 500 students. We graduated just over 200. We had more students move into the district than we had students move out. However, we also had a HORRIBLE drop out rate. But the numbers don't show that.

    Texas, as well as several other Southern states, have actually been the target of several articles and investigations in regards to their drop out rates. So please, don't use that comparison-- it's not accurate.

    Do your numbers that show we compensate our teachers the most, are they adjusted for the cost-of-living in each state? Because the numbers I've seen when there is an adjustment made did not place us at the top.

    Like I said-- if we cut teacher salaries, it is not likely that money is going to be used elsewhere. We already know that it is extremely likely there will be more cuts to the state budget in 2007 (if not between now and then). That's why it is so important that we elect Dems this coming year.

    If teachers take a pay cut, where do you think the money for those budget cuts will come from? From the teachers pay. So what happens is teachers take a pay cut, no additional teachers are hired, and they just end up having to deal with everything they have now on even lower salaries.

    And since we've cut so many teachers over the past few years, many of the entry level ones are gone. They're always the first ones laid off. That means you end up with a higher concentration of teachers with many years' experience in our schools.

    Did you studies also take into consideration that many of the states do not require a Masters degree?

    In many of the states it is easier to be a teacher, or a substitute for that matter, than it is in Oregon. In Texas all I needed was a h.s. diploma and a bit of college to be a substitute teacher. Here you need a teaching license, which means a degree. And a masters is not required to be a teacher there.

    As I keep saying over and over again, teacher compensation is a SMALL piece of the problem. You can cut teacher compensation. I have very little optimism that the money would end up back in the classroom on things such as teachers and books-- it'll end up being cut, going to tax breaks for others, etc. But even if it did, it still does little to solve the problems we have.

    And it also means that many of your experienced and good teachers are going to leave, because they can't afford the cut in pay.

    This is like putting a band-aid on an arm that's just been cut off.

    Rather than focus on the smaller problem, I instead choose to focus on the bigger problem. Because if we continue with the people we have in charge now, that money saved by the teachers taking a pay cut is just going to end up somewhere else. A Republican legislature would argue that they can cut more money from K-12, as it's not really a cut-- there's still the same amount of school days, teachers, etc.

    I just think it's so funny that when a huge private employer says it's going to make huge cuts to the salary and benefits of workers, lays off huge numbers of workers, etc. we throw a fit. We go out and support the union workers as they go on strike. We write nasty letters to the editor. We boycott a business.

    However, we turn around and do the exact same thing to the people we employ.

  • Sid Leader (unverified)
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    Heya Bailie.

    Oregon teachers should be the HIGHEST paid in America since Oregon kids score the highest in the land (sometimes second) on the final tests of their public school careers -- the ACT and SAT -- the gates of college.

    As a PPS teacher, I have paid for every student who wants to take it. All teachers do that. I'm sure you, Bailie, have personally paid for dozens of poor kids to take ACT and SAT, right?

    Facts, Bailie, not figures pulled out of thin air at www.act.org and www.sat.org.

    Best in USA, for a fraction of the cost of New Jersey or Connecticut.

    What a bargain we are!!!!!

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    Jenni, Thanks for your comments. You ask, "Do your numbers that show we compensate our teachers the most, are they adjusted for the cost-of-living in each state?" The best study I have found regarding your question comes from the American Federation of Teachers (AFT, AFL-CIO). Survey and Analysis of Teacher Salary Trends "State Rankings by Average Teacher Salary Adjusted by the AFT Interstate Cost-of-Living Index", there were only nine states which were ranked higher than Oregon.(Table I-7, page 13) Other interesting studies show that the greatest spread between K-12 teacher salaries and a state "per capita income" is in Oregon (NEA 2005 and U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis 2005. Another interesting piece of data gleaned from NEA 2005, Oregon could freeze K-12 teacher salaries for five consecutive years and still be above the 25th ranking state. This does not include the benefits package of over $20,000/year for the average K-12 teacher in Oregon (which is ranked highest in the U.S.).

    You say, "Like I said-- if we cut teacher salaries, it is not likely that money is going to be used elsewhere." What is your basis for that statement? Are you saying that additional teachers wouldn't be hired?

    You ask, "If teachers take a pay cut, where do you think the money for those budget cuts will come from?" I don't understand that question. Could you explain?

    You say, "And it also means that many of your experienced and good teachers are going to leave, because they can't afford the cut in pay.As I keep saying over and over again, teacher compensation is a SMALL piece of the problem." Jenni, Oregon teachers are compensated (salaries and benefits) $700 million per year above the 25th ranking state for individual K-12 compensation, how do you consider that a "SMALL piece of the problem"?

    You say, "And it also means that many of your experienced and good teachers are going to leave, because they can't afford the cut in pay." What state will they be going to? Certainly, they would be getting lower pay in almost every state in the U.S.. So why would they leave? Are they leaving all of the other states to come to Oregon?

    You say, "I just think it's so funny that when a huge private employer says it's going to make huge cuts to the salary and benefits of workers, lays off huge numbers of workers, etc. we throw a fit." I am not aware of that. Are you throwing a "fit" because LSI Logic is laying off large group of employees with more to follow?

    The question, "Why should Oregon K-12 teachers (and administrators and classified) receive the 8th highest compensation of all of the states?" Especially when it does not correlate to academic success.

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    Sid, Congratulations on your generosity. I have contributed thousands of dollars directly to the students of our district. That has nothing to do with improving funding allocation for K-12 education in Oregon.

    You say, "Best in USA, for a fraction of the cost of New Jersey or Connecticut." Connecticut and New Jersey are ranked 1st and 2nd in the U.S. for "per capita income". Oregon is ranked 36th.

    To your point about SAT and ACT: "While Oregon's statewide SAT test scores during the past decade have placed it first or second in the nation among states where over half of the students take SAT, a breakdown of scores by student ethnicity reveals Oregon's white students rank closer to the middle than top in their performance.This phenomenon can be explained by differences in demographics between Oregon and the rest of the states where a sizable number of students take the SAT. Many of the states to which Oregon's SAT scores are compared have been actively encouraging more low-income and minority-group students to take the SAT. These students' scores have been lower than those of white students from middle-class or higher economic backgrounds. Therefore, Oregon's overall average SAT score ranks the state highly in part because of differences between Oregon and other states in terms of the composition of the test-taking populations." (ECONorthwest,Chalkboard Project, January 2005, page vi)

  • Sid Leader (unverified)
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    Hi Bailie.

    So you are saying poor kids with no books at home and little food to eat do worse in school than kids who have books at home and food in their stomachs.

    Congratulations, Captain Obvious!

    Please re-read "Johnny Can't Read", circa 1954.

    Poorer kids have done worse in school since we were in the caves, pal.

  • Nicole (unverified)
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    Only someone with next-to-zero experience in a classroom would advocate cutting teachers' salaries. It's like WalMart looking at their plummeting bottom line and saying that the cashiers are soaking it all up.

    If any of you get a chance, check out the current issue of Harper's. Jonathan Kozol (who will be speaking in Portland on Friday, September 30) penned the cover article, "Still Separate, Still Unequal: America's educational apartheid." (In which Kozol points out among many figures that NYC spends $8,000 annually on the education of a third grade child compared to a typical white suburb of NYC which spends $12,000 annually and compared still to an affluent white suburb which spends $18,000.) From what I understand, Portland spends about $9,000.

    Bottom line is that there are no institutions in this country that have more cards stacked against them than our public school systems given that government funding increases/decreases are based on attendance and more options are available now than ever before to go outside of the public arena for schooling our kids.

    Fascinating to consider that for the past 20 years Oregon's public schools have been heading downhill. And according to OCPP, corporations are paying 71% less in income taxes as a share of the economy than what they paid in the late 1970s. Hmm, me thinks this downhill slide is more than a co-ink-ee-dink.

    As someone who works in the non-profit world, but is considering going back to school to become a (public) high school teacher, thanks to all of the parents out there who choose public education. Because if this ship sinks, we all sink.

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    Baillie, My issue is that you have once again hijacked a conversation with your posts about salaries.

    Accurate or inaccurate, these contain almost precisely the same information that you have posted numerous other times.

    We understand your point but you needn't make it again, and again, and again.

    Leslie and I are concerned with real issue that are impacting us RIGHT NOW. The contracts cannot be renegotiated tomorrow. The buildings can't be closed. The economy can't be turned on a dime.

    • Are we going to support a local levy to replace the income lost via the I-Tax?
    • Is there a chance for a regional tax that will address funding issues in C, W, and M Counties?
    • Can PPS sustain an $80 million cut in funding next year, and what will be the short term and long term impact on Portland?
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    Bailie--

    Have you not been paying attention to what's going on in Oregon? They've already said it is highly likely that there will be more budget shortfalls. That means more budget cuts.

    If schools cut teacher salaries, that money that is saved is likely to be what is cut when there are budget shortfalls. Therefore no new teachers.

    If you still don't understand, here's this:

    Hypothetical situation: Public schools cut teacher salaries by 15%. They save $300 million. The state then needs to cut the budget by $500 million. Well, right there is $300 million in cuts that won't mean larger class sizes or shorter school years. Now the state legislature only has to make $200 million in cuts.

    And you said:

    Oregon teachers are compensated (salaries and benefits) $700 million per year above the 25th ranking state for individual K-12 compensation, how do you consider that a "SMALL piece of the problem"?

    How do I consider that a small piece of the problem? Well, let's see....

    • We rank somewhere in the 30's as far as spending-per-student. We're below the national average. Until we start spending more per student, we're still going to have a big problem. And please don't bring up the teacher compensation in relation to this-- as I have stated over and over, teacher compensation (salary, benefits, etc.) is part of the spending per student.

    • If I remember the numbers correctly, less then 70% of the money that goes to schools makes it into the classroom (which is the spending per student amount). I'm thinking the number may have been under 65%, but I can't be certain on that. But that means one-third of money does not make it into the classroom.

    • The state legislature continues to cut the K-12 budget every session. We're looking at more cuts in the future. In the meantime, they protect tax breaks for things such as buying yachts. And the amount that is spent on those yacht tax breaks isn't small-- it was tens of millions of dollars.

    These are much, much bigger problems. These problems have to be solved before you can start cutting teacher salaries. Judging by history, any money saved by cutting teacher salaries will just end up gone because of state budget cuts or will be spent in other areas (such as PPS hiring administrators at more than $100K per year while laying off dozens of teachers).

  • Marvinlee (unverified)
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    The grim reality is that Oregon's teachers have commandeered a higher level of pay than suffices to hire qualified teachers in most other states. Since we are a below-average income state, the economic injustice to other citizens is even more pronounced. The probems noted by Lislie Carlson reflect the enormous diversion of education dollars to support outsized teacher pay and benefits. Some schools have only been able to afford the very high pay by telling students that they would have to do without the normal length school year. That is worse than sad.

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    Nicole, You say, "Fascinating to consider that for the past 20 years Oregon's public schools have been heading downhill." Your comment is interesting, because in the last 20 years Oregon K-12 individual compensation is going the opposite direction. To the point that we now have among the highest paid K-12 employees in the U.S., at the expense of teacher layoffs, average academic results, mediocre graduation rates and the 49th ranking school attendance in the U.S.

  • Sid Leader (unverified)
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    Thanks for the Kozol mention, Nicole.

    Portland, for the record, spends about $7,000 per student/per year, or a little LESS than national average. That does not include the costs of closing down schools all over town which costs millions. Just the day-to-day costs.

    Kozol says he loves to chat about U.S. school spending with the super-duper rich folks when they beg him to be the resident "genius" at their Park Avenue dinner parties. Kozol will be first to tell you he's no genius, but loves a good meal and talk.

    Kozol says the rich dinner people always end up moaning about how high their taxes are and how throwing money at public schools is not the answer.

    Then, Mr. Kozol usually takes a sip of his drink and then asks the rich how much money they spend, per year, for their precious children to go to school. $30,000 per year at Dalton? $40,000 per year at St. Alban's? More?

    The rich just cough and mumble in return.

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    Jenni, You say, "If I remember the numbers correctly, less then 70% of the money that goes to schools makes it into the classroom (which is the spending per student amount). I'm thinking the number may have been under 65%, but I can't be certain on that. But that means one-third of money does not make it into the classroom." About 84 percent of a school district budget is for salaries.

    You say, "The state legislature continues to cut the K-12 budget every session. We're looking at more cuts in the future." Show me your data, please. You are incorrect. Expenditures per student in Oregon have gone up every year since 1991, except the year 2002-03.(Post-Measure 5 Trends in Oregon and Regional K-12 Finance, March 2005,pg. 1)

    You say, "Judging by history, any money saved by cutting teacher salaries will just end up gone because of state budget cuts or will be spent in other areas." Show the "history" please.

    You say, "We rank somewhere in the 30's as far as "spending-per-student". We're below the national average. Again, you have identified the problem. While our "spending per student" is a little below the average state, the individual compensation is considerably above (8th highest) the national average. Quantified to about $700 million per year above average. Or as the Chalkboard Project suggests, "Oregon salaries and benefits measured on a per student basis are close to the national average; Salaries and benefits measured per full-time equivalent staff member are high relative to other states." (The condition of K-12 Education in Oregon,Chalkboard Project 2005,pg.ix)

  • Marvinlee (unverified)
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    Changing demographics and educational goals make it difficult to accurately plot learning trends. But I note that when it is expedient to do so, educators are highly enthusiastic about state educational performance as measured in student SAT scores and other test scores. But then, we are supposed to believe that education is in dire crisis from which it can only be rescued by generous increases in funding.

    I believe that teachers should be compensated as required to obtain the necessary mix of quality and skills. And I do not for a moment think that most K-12 teachers need a masters degree. But then, I married a career teacher, have other relatives as teachers, and listen to them.

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    Sid--

    You are so right. Costs for private schools in the Portland area are much more per student than what PPS spends.

    Most have tuition that is between $8000-12,000. This does not include the large grants they receive, endowments, large fundraisers the school does, etc. This is just the bottom line tuition.

    Then parents have to purchase their textbooks. This can run from a few hundred to over a thousand dollars.

    It can get quite expensive. Both my niece and nephew went to private schools, and it cost quite a bit more than is spent on students in public schools.

    The few schools that list their actual cost per student that I've been able to locate had numbers over $10,000 per student. That's 30% more per student.

    Now these schools can pick and choose who they educate. They don't have to take trouble kids. They don't have to take students who don't speak English. They don't have to take in students with learning disabilities, physical disabilities, etc.-- all of which cost more to educate. Public schools take everyone, which means they take on the students that take more work, and money, to educate.

  • Sid Leader (unverified)
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    Yes, Jenni. Educating children on the cheap always comes back to haunt us, doesn't it.

    Like right now.

    Folks like Bailie say "Too many of our kids are dropping out of high school!" Agreed.

    But, if you saw the state slash your school budget every year of your school life (1992-present), lay off your favorite teacher or counselor, shut down all the shop and language classes, then I think any one of us may be left to wonder, who the heck cares?

    Many of us do. And if private school is what is right for your child, then that's great. I even back home schooling, if Mom and Dad show some competency.

    Yesterday, I had a short after-school visit from two former students -- regular kids -- brother and sister -- now in a private religious high school. They are the smartest, most wonderful young people I know and they were home schooled for awhile when they were younger. They will soon be big "stars" and that's the exciting part of teaching. I'm glad we shared some time together in their middle years.

  • Nicole (unverified)
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    Bailie,

    I understand that your research points to the fact that compensation for teachers has increased. I get that. I'll go there with you.

    What I'm saying is that the bridge that you build between increased compensation and poor school performance is not a bridge that I'll walk.

    I'm frustrated because your willingness to do the extensive research on this issue clashes with your willingness to feed into the hierarchy of power. On a federal and state level, corporate troughs have been and continue to overflow at outrageous levels. And you're standing there saying, "But look at the teachers' crumbs: they're too big!"

    Sid, You sound like you are well versed on Kozol. The Harper's excerpt really is great. He brings up that very topic you mentioned when he discusses these Central Park parents who pay $24,000 for pre-K programs and then have the gall to ask whether you can really buy your way to better education for the children of the poor.

    I think my favorite quote from the article, though, is when he discusses those expensive pre-K options for the elite compared to most public systems (like Portland's) that don't even offer full-scale pre-K options for all. And people wonder why benchmark scores starting in the third grade can be so lopsided. As Kozol says, "There is something deeply hypocritical about a society that holds an eight-year old inner-city child "accountable" for her performance on a high-stakes standardized exam but does not hold the high officials of our government accountable for robbing her of what they gave their own kids six or seven years earlier."

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    Sid, You say. "Yes, Jenni. Educating children on the cheap always comes back to haunt us, doesn't it.

    Like right now."

    I would really like to understand your idea (above). Whom is the blame in your opinion? How can we be educating "on the cheap", when all K-12 employees individually average the 8th highest compensated in the U.S.? When there are only 12 states which have higher K-12 average teacher salaries than Oregon. When the average Oregon K-12 employee benefits package is the highest in the U.S.? In PPS these figures are higher yet.

    From your education background, I would expect that you have supportive data for your opinion. I am interested.

  • Sid Leader (unverified)
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    PPS closed the finest elementary school in the entire state of Oregon (100% full and 95% benchmark) because Oregon is currently 34/50 in total taxes and we are in a race to the bottom with folks like baleful Bailie leading the plunge with... proposed teacher pay cuts?

    Right.

    We'll take a pay cut when W figures out the difference between I-r-a-n (tons of WMD!) and I-r-a-q (No WMD).

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    Nicole,

    You say, "What I'm saying is that the bridge that you build between increased compensation and poor school performance is not a bridge that I'll walk."

    I am simply trying to point out that states which compensate at considerably lower individual compensation, but have considerably more teachers at K-3, are producing better academic results than Oregon.

    Please show me any data or collective amounts of data that would support your opinion. I am willing to change my mind. In the three years that I have worked on this, I have found nothing to support what you are suggesting. I have no agenda with this except, what is best for Oregon education and the K-12 students. Almost everyone realizes that K-12 education (and allocation of funding) is a problem. Are you suggesting that the status quo is acceptable? Please keep in context that Oregon is ranked 36th in affluence ("per capita income") and has dropped considerably from 26th, just 6 years ago. This is normally a very slow moving indicator.

    You say, "your willingness to feed into the hierarchy of power."

    Could you explain what that means? Oregon has led the nation during the last five year period for unemployment. We have some of our major corporations leaving this state annually, with very few moving this direction. We have among the highest childhood hunger rates in the U.S.

    Below is a link to a "progressive" evaluation of Oregon education. It is worth the read. Just released last month. http://www.americanprogress.org/atf/cf/%7BE9245FE4-9A2B-43C7-A521-5D6FF2E06E03%7D/OREGON-FINAL.PDF

    It shows the very mixed academic results for Oregon, despite the very high individual compensation you defend.

  • howard (unverified)
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    Bringing this discussion back to PPS there are some encouraging trends the school administrators and board can look forward to.

    *PPS has a higher than average cadre of teachers at top of wage scale who will be retiring in the next few years. As younger teachers replace them, the average teacher compensation in PPS should decline.

    *PPS has been paying some hefty severance and settlement packages to departing and aggrieved employees. Let us hope there will be a better experience in these matters in the future.

    I would suggest that the PPS board exhibit some backbone in future contract negotiations. The Portland school district has engaged in very little collective bargaining since 1992. The Portland Association of teachers and the school board have a consistent pattern since 1992 of allowing contracts to expire, starting a new school year without a new contract and teachers threatening or taking strike votes in midyear. This brings city and county politicians in to provide more money to get a contract signed.

    The PPS teachers have been insisting on wage increases that are funded by temporary local funding and layoffs of less senior teachers which means larger class sizes and fewer living wage teaching jobs in the Portland district. The Portland Association of Teachers now has more incentive to play at collective bargaining and wait for its Democrat friends in city and county government to come in and "rescue" them and the district when they threaten to go out on strike in the middle of a school year. Even at the expense of a hostile learning environment for students and losses of students to neighboring districts during those years of manufactured crisis in PPS.

  • (Show?)

    Leslie,

    Tired yet? You notice all this noise about future contract negotiations is just all theoretical. The real looming crisis is coming NEXT YEAR. If we are going to address financial issues, they must be addressed RIGHT NOW.

    Baillie and others: are you willing to publicly support a regional tax levy as laid out in yesterday's Oregonian to address the looming crisis in our schools?

    If your answer is no, you've lost me and thousands of other parents. Your well-argued point about teacher salaries will be rendered irrelevant as school flight, already at a stream, increases to a flood.

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    Paul, Thanks for your comments. You ask, "Bailie and others: are you willing to publicly support a regional tax levy as laid out in yesterday's Oregonian to address the looming crisis in our schools?

    The quick answer is "NO". Until spending allocation becomes more responsible, I don't think it has a chance (or should have a chance). The "looming crisis in our schools" has been brought about by the very high individual , total compensation of all Oregon K-12 employees (not just teachers). Teachers are the primary mover in the budget, because of their numbers and better salary and benefits than classified. Administration is also involved, but the percentage of the budget for administration is very low in relationship to teachers.

    While most of my research concerns the "whole" of Oregon, PPS is very influential in the Oregon statistics. PPS could be hiring teachers instead of letting them go, if individual compensation were in line with other states. In the last twenty years, for whatever reasons, Oregon has chosen very high individual compensation and a high (4th highest in U.S.) student/teacher ratio, over average/high total individual compensation and smaller classes. This has especially hurt Oregon in K-3 education. Oregon is paying the consequences in very average academic results and the inability to expand K-12 education where needed. We have among the highest compensated K-12 employees at the expense of curtailed programs, shortened school years, large classes, terminated teacher contracts, mediocre graduation rates and very average academic results.

  • Sid Leader (unverified)
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    Bailie, our own "Dr. No"!

  • (Show?)

    Paul:

    Yes, I'm tired. And dispirited. Until I spend time helping kindergarteners in the lunchroom, and I get to see their bright little faces and see the energy and potential they bring to life.

    That's what keeps me going these days. Onward and upward, as they say. I just hope that we can keep this train on the tracks.

  • Nicole (unverified)
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    Bailie,

    According to the NEA,

    02/03 Avg Teacher Salary 1. California - $55,693 (Total teachers in CA: 305,855) 14. Oregon - $47,600 (Total teachers in OR: 27,668) 51 (list includes D.C.). South Dakota - $32,416 National Avg: $41,795

    03/04 Avg Teacher Salary 1. Connecticut - $57,337 14. Oregon - $49,169 51. South Dakota - $33,236 National Avg: $42,254

    This interesting thing to me was the range. In both lists, Oregon was within about $6,000 of over half the states. And I get daily updates from the ACSD which is an e-mail list serve for the education profession. The downhill slide of public school districts is a national epidemic, regardless of how much a given state is spending on teacher salaries.

    The change in salaries from 1993/94 - 2003/04 were: 1. Georgia - 17.8% 25. Oregon - 2.6% 51. Alaska - -14.3% (that's negative 14.3%) National Avg: 2.9%

    Again, the range is key. We're not that far off from over half of the states. And, again, they're all in the same mess.

    The lists from which I'm pilfering are on pages 36, 37 & 38 of this link. That's 36, 37 & 38 based on the scroll bar count, not the page numbers in the document itself. http://www.nea.org/edstats/images/05rankings.pdf

    Now, on to the good ol' OCPP.

    They released the interesting (if not nauseating) Corporate Tax Dodge report which stated that the Utah State Commission released a report that said of all 7 western states examined Oregon has the lowest business taxes as a share of the Gross State Product. Additionally, a study published by the Council on State Taxation found that the state and local tax rates for corporations in Oregon ranked 47th in the nation. As a share of all state and local taxes, we ranked 50th (study included D.C. so that's 50 out of 51).

    Just in Oregon, if corporate income taxpayers still paid the same share of income taxes they paid in 1973-75, state revenue for the upcoming budget cycle would be 1.8 billion higher. Billion! Do you think that lack of billions - in states all over this country - might play even a small role in this mess? I don't think it's a 'small' role at all.

    http://www.ocpp.org/2005/rpt050527dodge.pdf

    The hierarchy of power is something that I've been reading about for many years now. Essentially, those in power are able to remain in power (and pork up on the corporate troughs, for example) because those of us on the bottom of the hierarchy spend far too much time pointing fingers at one another. In fact, that structure, that hierarchy depends on the infighting among those of us at the bottom. It always has. Howard Zinn said it best when he said, "Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves, and all the while the grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem." That's what I meant by the crumbs comment. You've got people porking up at an overflowing trough while your reaction is to point a finger at the peasants picking up the crumbs.

  • Nicole (unverified)
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    Paul,

    To answer your question, "YES." I would pay. Whatever amount I pay today would be a proactive investment and far less costly compared to what I would have to pay when society is flooded by underserved, uneducated young adults.

  • Sid Leader (unverified)
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    Yes, Nicole, we can pay $6,000 a year now (K-12) or $35,000 a year (20 years? 30years?) in prison.

    Your choice, folks.

  • Nicole (unverified)
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    Exactly!

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    Nicole, What you are looking past (unintentionally I'm sure), is that in addition to Oregon being the 13th highest (D.C. excluded) in K-12 teacher salaries, Oregon has the highest ranking benefits package in the U.S. Combined (I've said it before, but apparently you missed it)with salaries, Oregon has the 8th highest individually compensated K-12 employees in the U.S. The revenue is in the system. The allocation of the revenue is flawed and is particular to Oregon.

    The simple question that everyone conveniently evades, "Why should Oregon K-12 employees be compensated as the 8th highest state, while academic results don't correlate?" The data including cost of living, demographics, our average experienced workforce just doesn't justify the very high compensation. This single economic situation is preventing the hiring of thousands of additional teachers in Oregon.

    The "taxes" that you mention are typical examples of neglect. From the National Conference of State Legislatures (which I have seen quoted previously on this forum), Oregon is the 4th highest ranking state in "Revenue from Fees, Charges & Interest" in the U.S. This data along with the cruelest Oregon revenue grab (gambling) is never included in the taxation studies you highlight (as well as others). This is further supported in "Perspectives on Oregon Government Finance" Oregon State University,William Jaeger,Bruce Weber economist Page 2. "A low state-local tax burden does not necessarily mean low state-local revenues as a share of personal income. Oregon's general state local revenue as a share of personal income is 23.5 percent, placing Oregon 10th among states. (the national average is 19.8 percent)

  • (Show?)

    Bailie said:

    How can we be educating "on the cheap", when all K-12 employees individually average the 8th highest compensated in the U.S.?

    What part do you not understand? It's about more than just teacher salaries. It's about how much we spend PER STUDENT. That amount includes teacher salaries, benefits, etc. That means they take all the teachers' salaries and benefits, costs of textbooks, cost of computer software for the students, library books, etc. and add it all up. Then they divide it by the number of students they have. That gives you the per student amount.

    The problem is we're not spending enough per student. Even if you decrease salaries and hire more teachers, you still don't spend a dime more per student. What part of that don't you understand?

    If we expect more out of our education, we have to pay for it. And that means raising the amount we spend per student.

    Even with this compensation that you say is the 8th highest, we're still below average in the amount we spend PER STUDENT.

    As such, we are educating students "on the cheap." Local private schools spend much more per student (they typically spend more than $10K per student), even though most of the time they don't accept the students who cost the most to educate (those with behavorial problems, mentally or physically disabled, etc.)-- public schools do.

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    Jenni, You say, "The problem is we're not spending enough per student. Even if you decrease salaries and hire more teachers, you still don't spend a dime more per student. What part of that don't you understand?"

    Jenni, I understand. The whole point of this is that with the present revenue stream, Oregon has stifled any K-12 expansion (hiring more teachers) because of the very high individual compensation. We are compensating $700 million per year more than the average state. That is why Oregon is having problems unique to Oregon.

    Jenni, we don't need to spend a "dime more per student" if the $700 million per year was spent on more teachers (K-3)and full programs.

    Jenni you say, Local private schools spend much more per student (they typically spend more than $10K per student)" Where is that information? I haven't seen that information anywhere. You must have some factual basis for your opinion.

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    Jenni, There are only five states west of the Mississippi, that spend more than Oregon "per pupil". Spending "per pupil" is not the problem. We spend more "per pupil" than Kentucky, Kansas, Nebraska, Washington, California, Louisiana, Texas, Iowa, South Dakota, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, North Dakota, Tennessee, Alabama, Idaho, Arkansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Nevada, Arizona and Utah. (NEA June 2005)

  • (Show?)

    The information I have for the information on private schools comes directly from the schools themselves.

    About 9 months ago I went through the websites for many of the private schools in the state. Some listed the actual amount spent on students. Some only listed the tuition, but didn't include the additional money spent on students from large school run fundraisers (not PTA type stuff, but actual school fundraisers) or the huge amounts they receive through endownments.

    The schools that listed the full amount were over $10K. The ones that just listed tuition and books were more than $8K.

    Here's some info I pulled just now:

    Central Catholic: "Tuition for the 2005-2006 school year is $7,700." Books cost an average of $300-500.

    St. Mary's Academy: "The actual cost per student of a St. Mary's Academy education this year will be $11,200."

    Portland Adventist: Students from Seventh-Day Adventist Churches, get in for $7,150.00- $7,300.00 (because the churches give the school money). Students who aren't members of those churches get in for $9,950.00. That doesn't include a $250 application fee or books. ESL students are charged $9,950.00. "Additional charges are payable as incurred. These would include art class supplies, special P.E. classes and uniforms, workbooks, school supplies, lab charges, testing fees for special tests, and graduation fee."

    This is just a sample. The others follow along at about the same rates.

    With the exception of St. Mary's, these numbers don't include endowments, monies contributed from member churches, etc.

    And yes, there are states that pay less than we do per student. It's not a good thing to be at the bottom. It's much better to be nearer the top, or at least above the national average. Our amount spent per student has been steadily dropping the past few years.

    Some info for you...

    From the Oregon School Boards Assoc: "Oregon spend $346 less per student on salaries in its public schools than the national average." "Oregon spends $448 more per student on benefits than the national average."

    From the Statesman Journal:

    "In 1999-2000, Oregon school spending per student ranked 20th-highest among the states and was a tad below the national average."

    "Three years later, new Census data shows, Oregon slipped nearly a dozen notches. After a recession that hammered Oregon more than most states, per-student spending in 2002-03 dropped to 31st-highest among the states, nearly $1,000 per-student below the national average."

    "As Oregon's school-spending ranking nosedived, it did the opposite in neighboring California. Oregon's southern neighbor was the 27th-highest in per-student spending in 1999-2000 and climbed to the 20th highest in 2002-03. Washington and Idaho remained at about the same levels during the three-year period."

    "The Census also measures school spending based on citizens' income levels. That reflects peoples' ability to pay taxes, and, to some extent, variances in the cost of living."

    "By that measure, Oregon also slipped nearly a dozen notches. It went from the 28th-highest spending state in 1999-2000 to the 39th highest in 2002-03."

    "By either measure, Oregon ranked among the bottom-fifth of the states when it came to instructor salaries in 2002-03, Census figures showed. But the state paid some of the highest amounts among the states for instructor benefits. That reflects Oregon spending on health insurance and pension benefits."

  • mrfearless47 (unverified)
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    bailie writes:

    "Jenni you say, Local private schools spend much more per student (they typically spend more than $10K per student)" Where is that information? I haven't seen that information anywhere. You must have some factual basis for your opinion.

    I can offer some perspective here. My daughter goes to a local private school. She's in middle school - 7th grade. She's been in private school since Kindergarten. When we first looked at private schools, the parochial school tuition at the four schools we investigated was about $6000 per year, without a parish subsidy of $1500 per student. The three non-parochial schools we looked at began at $9000 per year. Those three schools today all charge between $17,000 and $18,000 per student per year for middle school, somewhat less for K-5, and more for 9-12. We know parents from all three of those schools. In EVERY case, we get letters from the school - just about now in fact, every year - begging for money for the annual fund because "...your tuition only covers about 85% of the per pupil cost of education". Draw whatever inference you want from that. But those are hard data that suggest Jenni's estimate may actually be on the LOW side of what private schools spend per pupil.

  • Sid Leader (unverified)
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    Hey Jenni.

    Please don't forget HOLY FAMILY SCHOOL, a pre-K-8, near Reed College, in Southeast Portland's Eastmoreland neighborhood.

    My second-grade son goes there, loves it, and the $5,000 or so tuition is the best money we ever spent. The teachers and staff are outstanding professionals who build a real community and connect the children's lives to doing some good in the world.

    Thanks for the accurate, relevant info on our schools. It can be hard to spot the "good stuff", sometimes around here.

    p.s. Don't take Miss B. too seriously. She is a true one-trick pony. And we all know figures can lie and liars can figure, eh?

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    In general, public-school teachers are paid more than private-school teachers; according to the U.S. Department of Education, the average base salary for private-school teachers is roughly 35 percent less than that of public-school teachers.

  • Sid Leader (unverified)
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    That last incredibly vague "pulled out of thin air" salary comparion is statistically and intellectually invalid.

    Time to get some new material or "moveon".

    So to speak.

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    Jenni, From testimony before the Oregon Senate Revenue Committee, "private schools are spending approximately one-half the amount spent in public schools per student with no noticeable effect on student performance."

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    You quote OSBA, ""Oregon spend $346 less per student on salaries in its public schools than the national average."

    That is exactly the problem, thank you. While Oregon spends less in aggregate for K-12 teacher salaries, the individual teacher salary is considerably above the average. Only 12 states pay higher salaries. You have pinpointed the problem why we can only afford a relatively few number of teachers. This creates the 4th highest student/teacher ratio in the U.S. It is even worse when Oregon's highest ranking benefits package is included in the above discussion.

    So again, "Why should Oregon teachers receive compensation higher than K-12 teachers from almost all of the other states?"

  • (Show?)

    Baillie,

    Then you've lost me. You are willing to sacrifice a generation of schoolkids to your position regarding compensation. Perhaps you'll argue that we need to starve the beast to cure it, but meanwhile my kids education starves as well.

    They'll be no schools left to reform once you're done.

    If you were a real reformer, you'd support the levy and let folks know that you are going to run for school board and make sure their money is well spent in the future. You seem well informed and smart enough that this just might work.

    But I fear you may be good at the numbers and the research but not at the real political battles and how real people are going to be affected next year when our schools lost 25% of their funding.

    BTW, I disagree with you strongly that the regional levy is a political loser, not when suburban families in Hillsboro, Beaverton, and N Clackamas are presented with the very real option of multi week school closings, less of athletic, arts, and music programs, and 50+ class sizes. I'm sad that none of our political leaders, some of whom posted here just a year ago that they'd support an extension of the I-Tax rather than let the schools go down the tubes, are all so invisible right now.

  • (Show?)

    I don't care what testimony from the Oregon Senate Revenue Committee said. Just because something was said as "testimony" doesn't mean it is the truth or accurate.

    My numbers come straight from the schools themselves. I'd think they know better than anyone else how much they spend. They are spending more money per student than public schools do. The numbers don't lie.

    And you state that the info I gave proves that "while Oregon spends less in aggregate for K-12 teacher salaries, the individual teacher salary is considerably above the average."

    So how does the fact that we spend $346 less per student on salaries than the national average show that we pay teachers too much? After all, we spend LESS per student on salaries than other states. I'd like to see your specific explanation on that, not just the same generic information you post over and over.

    When you combine the fact that we spend $346 LESS per student on salaries and $448 MORE on benefits than the national average, that comes out to $102 MORE per student on teacher salaries/benefits than the national average. That's $102 out of more than $7000. That's not even 1.5% of what we spend per student. Even if you assume a class size of 35, that's only $3,570 per classroom-- likely less than the out of pocket expenses teachers have because schools can't afford to repay them for job related expenses. You'd have to cut back almost 350 teachers the $102 just to pay for one $35K salary-- and that's not including benefits for that new person.

    Much of the reason why the benefits number is so high is because of PERS-- something that is contracted in and cannot be easily changed.

    You keep asking "Why should Oregon teachers receive compensation higher than K-12 teachers from almost all of the other states?"

    ONE HUNDRED AND TWO DOLLARS. They make $102 more dollars per student than the national average. That's somewhere around $3500 per teacher extra each year (assuming a class size of 35).

    Do I think teachers in Oregon deserve an extra $3500? Yes I do. They're having to teach more in a shorter period of time. Schools have less money for supplies, which mean teachers spend thousands out-of-pocket on things like supplies and extra training. They have bigger class sizes, which means more hours worth of grading tests, homework, and papers. Do they deserve a measly $3500 extra a year? Yes they do.

    This comparing state to state is just crap. Just because other states feel the need to have low compensation doesn't mean we have to.

    And yes, in answer to a previous question, you'll find plenty of people throwing a fit whenever a company like LSI Logic does that to employees. I'm on several e-mail lists that give out information about businesses when they do stuff like that. Just because you don't see it, don't assume it isn't happening. If the employees aren't members of a union, you typically hear about it less because there is no one there looking out for the interests of the employee.

    Groups I am a member of have spent money in the past to help workers who were striking or trying to start unions because of treatment like this. It happens all the time.

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    Jenni, You ask, "So how does the fact that we spend $346 less per student on salaries than the national average show that we pay teachers too much? After all, we spend LESS per student on salaries than other states. I'd like to see your specific explanation on that, not just the same generic information you post over and over."

    This is the reason why I have cited (over and over) that there are only 12 states which pay higher individual salaries than Oregon for K-12 teachers. That Oregon's benefits package is the highest in the U.S., and overall Oregon teachers are the 8th highest individually compensated in the U.S.

    You don't understand the difference between the aggregate compensation and individual compensation. We are starving Oregon K-12, because our aggregate compensation for teachers is about average, while the individual compensation is very high. The economic relationship forces Oregon to hire fewer teachers (producing the 4th highest student teacher ratio), curtail programs and essentially hurt Oregon K-12. Until you understand that relationship, you will have not be able to grasp what is being discussed.

    Jenni says, "This comparing state to state is just crap." I guess we can just let your statement stand.

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    Paul, I can appreciate your sentiments. The PPS has had a chance with the extra taxes and have attempted to make sound business decisions. Unfortunately, there needs to be considerable more effort to cut costs. It is not dissimilar to the airlines requesting their unions to take 20-30 percent pay cuts. It is not that drastic for PPS (yet). A freeze in total compensation would probably solve the entire problem. PPS could freeze compensation for over six years and still be higher than the 25th ranking state in individual K-12 teacher compensation.(NEA 2005) This illustrates how far ahead individual compensation for PPS has evolved.

    Until this is recognized by those within Portland education, this current problem will continue indefinitely. Just that simple. You can only go to the well so many times, without fixing the structural problems. That is why it is recognized that additional taxes on a struggling economy is/will be very difficult.

  • mrfearless47 (unverified)
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    bailie:

    We've established that you're a one-trick pony. I understand the difference between salary and compensation and between aggregate (average) compensation and individual compensation. For the sake of argument, let's suppose you're right, what is YOUR solution to the problem, given that the Oregon Supreme Court has ruled multiple times that the Legislature and the public (through the initiative mechanism) CANNOT make retroactive changes to the PERS system? The figures you quote fail to isolate specific areas where individual compensation is the problem. The last Tier 1 member entered the PERS system in 1995. Tier 2 members joined on or after 1/1/1996, and the Tier 3 people (whose benefits are significantly lower) joined on or after August 29, 2003. Tier 1 members are retiring in record numbers, but it will be awhile before they'll all be gone. So, there isn't any legal way to reduce this element of compensation any further. Health benefits are the only other big driver of compensation. How much net savings might you expect to get from forcing teachers to pay for part of their insurance out-of-pocket?

    In short, there isn't that much money to be saved from the benefits side of the equation. You've already pointed out that the salary side is pretty average, so is your solution to simply cut salaries to offset benefits and, if so, how do you recruit new teachers when salaries in surrounding states are better? Moreover, how do you ensure that any savings remain in the districts that save them, instead of being absorbed into the great maw of the state general fund where they may be redeployed to help out other areas experiencing shortfalls?

    Pointing fingers and reciting statistics doesn't solve problems. Since you're so absorbed in the minutiae of K-12 funding in Oregon, can you put your finger on the average compensation of all teachers in Oregon hired since 1996; since August 29, 2003? Take out Tier 1 teachers - they're declining in number each year and the averages should start to fall significantly (especially since 2003). How does your comparison to other states hold up if you do that? You can't, because the numbers have never been disaggregated that way? And without that, your arguments fall on deaf ears because the problem is solving itself with time.

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    Thank you for your comments. First of all (and not necessarily you) I don't mean for this to be an argumentative subject. That is not my purpose. Oregon has created a very unique situation in allocation of funding. This problem has evolved over the last 20 years to an unsustainable situation.

    PERS is pretty much a done deal. It should have been addressed ten years ago, and it wasn't. It is contributory factor in the problem, but as you say, it will be difficult to reverse in a meaningful way. It remains as the premier retirement package in the public sector of the U.S. It is/will be a drag on education for the next 30 years until the death of Tier I employees.

    Health insurance in Oregon K-12 education also is not surpassed in the U.S. (as far as I have been able to tell). If you can find better coverage in the K-12 systems, I would like to know the information.

    Oregon K-12 teachers are the 13th highest in the U.S. It is the combination of all of these factors which have resulted in the unsustainable situation. You suggest, You've already pointed out that the salary side is pretty average. Not for individual salaries, there is a great distinction which you stated that you understand.

    The over-riding problem is that Oregon is not a wealthy state. To be 36th in "per capita income" is very significant when trying to support the above situation and fulfill obligations in the rest of the public sector. The 36th rankin is too often "glossed over" in this discussion. We are not like Connecticut and New Jersey in being able to be everything to everybody.

    You say, Pointing fingers and reciting statistics doesn't solve problems. I apologize if I have come across as "pointing fingers". I do hope you (if anyone can) understand the significance of the statistics. There have been many Phds. who have validated this reasoning. It is not a frivolous opinion of mine.

    You ask, "can you put your finger on the average compensation of all teachers in Oregon hired since 1996; since August 29, 2003?" I wish I could. If you have any suggestions, I'm listening. According to NEA 2005, Oregon salaries are still increasing faster than all but six states in the U.S.

    I also realize this will not be solved immediately, but sooner the better, if Oregon K-12 education "is about the children", and not about special vested interest groups.

  • Sid Leader (unverified)
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    My imitation of Bailie: "bad" teachers deserve less money over over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    mrfearless47,

    An additional question that I didn't address:

    You ask, "how do you recruit new teachers when salaries in surrounding states are better?"

    There are only 12 states in the U.S. which have higher individual average salaries, than Oregon. We could freeze Oregon K-12 salaries for five consecutive years, and still be above the 25th ranking state for K-12 teacher salaries.(NEA 2005) While I am not saying that should or will be done, it shows that there is a substantial salary situation. This is magnified because many benefits (PERS, Social Security and Medicare) are indexed to these high salaries.

    To your question, there are only two states west of the Mississippi which pay higher K-12 teacher salaries than does Oregon. These states California (which has one of the worst rated K-12 systems in the U.S.) and Alaska, have unique situations of their own, mainly very high cost-of-living.

  • mrfearless47 (unverified)
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    to bailie again.

    How do you know the specifics of individual compensation in Oregon K-12 schools? The numbers reported are all averages. I haven't seen measures of dispersion that might tell us how normal or non-normal the data are. You also don't factor in anywhere - at least not where I've seen - specific credentialling requirements in Oregon that may be more restrictive (or not) than in comparator states. You don't cite any statistics (again that I've seen) that tell us what the demography of the Oregon teaching population is and how this compares to the demography of teaching populations in other states. As others have pointed out, there are far too many variables at play here to wave your wand and simply suggest that we do something like freeze salaries or cap health benefits for 5 years until Oregon drops to the middle of the pack. What evidence do you have that it would take 5 years, as opposed to 2 years, or 15 years? You're guessing and you're grasping at straws to come up with this answer.

    Finally, I have 1 sister and 2 brothers-in-law who are public school teachers in California. They all left other careers to join the teaching forces. Except for one brother in law, the others have been teaching for 5 years and are tenured - the one has been teaching for 15 years. I've sat in the same room with them and have discussed their salary and benefit packages for hours on end. They don't live in the really expensive part of California. In fact, I'd argue that their cost of living expenses are significantly less than the tri-County area and in Salem and Eugene. They get fully paid health insurance and a very generous retirement package (not as generous as Tier 1, but at least as good as Tier 3). But the most significant thing about this is that as elementary school teachers with only 5 years experience, the two lesser-experienced teachers are earning $65,000 each, plus benefits. The 15-year teacher is earning $80,000 plus benefits. They also have smaller classes (25 for my sister; 22 for one brother in law and 26 for the other).

    I know you've said that only two states west of the Mississippi pay higher K-12 AVERAGE salaries, but that tells me absolutely nothing about individual salaries. I still don't get where you get your "individual compensation" data from.

  • LT (unverified)
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    He gets it from the Chalkboard project and HOW DARE any one question his data! And that is the thing--people like that talk averages because there might be teachers somewhere (like in Calif) who defy averages and it is hard work for ideologues ("accepted statistics" implies such a person--who accepted them?)to deal with individual salaries, and besides, averages make better talking points. Whereas specific proposals require attention to detail not needed with "averages".

  • Sid Leader (unverified)
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    My nephew's teachers in suburban Chicago -average- about $80,000 in salary alone. Top pay is $100,000+.

    A year.

    Or 2 1/2 times Oregon.

    Guess whose school is better, according to No Child Left Behind? His or mine in PPS?

    PPS.

  • (Show?)

    Bailie--

    I completely understand the difference between aggregate compensation and individual compensation.

    The numbers show that when you combine how much less/more we spend per student on teacher salaries and teacher benefits, you end up with $102 spend more on teachers per students than the national average.

    (-$346 on salary; +$448 on benefits.... this equals +$102 compensation)

    So, you take that $102 and multiply it by the number of students in a classroom. That gives you how much more in INDIVIDUAL compensation we spend per teacher.

    Assuming a class size of 35, that comes out to about $3500 per year per teacher. That's individual compensation, not aggregate.

    Aggregate would be what I'd get if I multiplied that $102/student times the total number of students in the district. That would give me how much a district spends in AGGREGATE compensation.

    And it doesn't matter that only 12 states that pay more than we do in salary-- we're still BELOW AVERAGE. We rank below the national average by several hundred bucks per student ($346/student) in salary. This equates to INDIVIDUAL teacher salary being below average. That means a teacher with 35 students in Oregon makes $12,110 less in salary than a teacher with 35 students who makes the national average salary.

    So, let's use some hypothetical numbers here since it's obvious that it is you who doesn't understand (or doesn't want to understand) what others are saying.

    So let's say that Oregon spends $1500/student on teacher salary (this would put the national average at $1,846/student since we're $346 under the national average)

    OREGON: A class of 35 students-- teacher makes $52,500 ($1500 times 35)

    NATIONAL AVERGE: Class of 35 students-- teacher makes $64,610 ($1846 times 35)

    As you can see, Oregon's numbers are LESS than the national average. And it doesn't matter what number you plug in for how much is spend for teacher salary-- it'll always be less.

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    Jenni, You say, "The numbers show that when you combine how much less/more we spend per student on teacher salaries and teacher benefits, you end up with $102 spend more on teachers per students than the national average."

    Respectfully, you are not close to understanding.

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    mrfearless47, Do you hold any value for the average individual K-12 salaries of Oregon? This is what NEA, AFT and every organization I have found, has used to compare the individual average salaries of the different states, using uniform data supplied by the respective unions and departments of educations. I would be interested in any different data you have to present. Apparently you would want me to list each and every teacher (29,000 of them) in Oregon before you would be satisfied. No one does that, nor is it necessary for a comparison to be made.

    It is interesting that a group of you reject this data completely. Are you telling me that your sister and two brothers-in-law provide more valid statistics than what is presented by NEA, AFT, the Rand Corporation etc.? I am actually surprised by your suggestions, as though they are representative of the state of California. And then Sid uses the example of his nephew in Chicago as his primary example of data. Again, you are an interesting group of math teachers. LT, please don't tell me you are a math teacher, also.

  • Robert Harris (unverified)
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    To Sid Leder regarding your nephesw teacher making $80k/year.

    http://www.cps-humanresources.org/Careers/salary.htm

    Heres the Chicago teacher salary schedule. Is someone pulling your leg, or do they pay that much more in the suburbs of Chicago?

  • (Show?)

    Bailie--

    What is there is to understand?

    We spend $346 LESS per student on teacher salary than the national average.

    We spend $448 MORE per student on teacher benefits than the national average.

    Combine these numbers together, you get how much we spend in teacher compensation in relation to the national average (salary + benefits = compensation).

    So that means we spend $102 MORE per student on teacher compensation than the national average.

    Take the $102, multiply it by the number of students in a classroom, you get an individual teacher's compensation over the national average.

    Take the $102, multiply it by the number of students in the district, you get the aggregate amount spend on teacher compensation over the national average.

    The amount we spend per student directly corrolates to the amount of INDIVIDUAL compensation. If you spend less per student, then your amount per teacher is going to be less. If you spend more per student, then the amount per teacher is going to be more.

    You can't just compare the salary of a teacher in Oregon that teaches 35 kids to a teacher in another state that teaches 25. That's comparing apples to oranges. That is why the best comparisons are made in reference to the amount paid out PER STUDENT.

  • howard (unverified)
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    jennie:

    You fault bailie's numbers/sources and claim: "The amount we spend per student directly corrolates to the amount of INDIVIDUAL compensation. If you spend less per student, then your amount per teacher is going to be less. If you spend more per student, then the amount per teacher is going to be more. You can't just compare the salary of a teacher in Oregon that teaches 35 kids to a teacher in another state that teaches 25. That's comparing apples to oranges. That is why the best comparisons are made in reference to the amount paid out PER STUDENT."

    Can you show me where I might find one of these "better comparisons"?

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    Jenni, I appreciate your effort. You say, "Combine these numbers together, you get how much we spend in teacher compensation in relation to the national average (salary + benefits = compensation)."

    What you are trying to do, has nothing to do with the relatively very high Oregon individual K-12 compensation. I am saying that for the same amount of dollars in the system, Oregon would be better off with 35,000 teachers (instead of 29,000), have complete school years, full programs and academic flexibility. We compensate close to $700 million per year above the 25th ranking state in "Average Salaries of Public School K-12 Teachers".

    I agree with you completely that our "per student" expenditure is about average. We can do as we are now, expend it on a "few" number of teachers (individually compensating them relatively highly) and have the 4th highest student teacher ratio in the U.S., or we can expend that same amount on an additional 5,000 teachers, have complete programs and smaller classes. The jury is out on whether smaller classes are advantageous or not, but we would have that option. I personally feel that 5,000 more teachers in K-3 would be helpful to Oregon's academic results.

    I realize that few on this forum accept the statistics of the National Education Association, American Federation of Teachers, the Rand Educational Research Corporation, the Chalkboard Project, ECONorthwest, Manhattan Institute for Policy Research (or any others)as being valid. I am somewhat surprised of that response. It is indicative of the reason why Oregon finds itself in an educational funding crisis.

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    mrfearless47,

    You say, "But the most significant thing about this is that as elementary school teachers with only 5 years experience, the two lesser-experienced teachers are earning $65,000 each, plus benefits. The 15-year teacher is earning $80,000 plus benefits. They also have smaller classes (25 for my sister; 22 for one brother in law and 26 for the other)."

    I am surprised that you would hold out this information as representative of the California system. 1) California has a higher student/teacher ratio (20.6) than Oregon(20.1) and is ranked 3rd highest in the U.S. 2) The "Average Salaries of Public School Teachers" in California is $56,444. (NEA Research 2005)

    For an elementary school teachers with "only" five years experience, they are defying the statewide data by quite a bit. Your relatives aren't related to Sid's by any chance, are they?

  • (Show?)

    Bailie--

    I absolutely give up on you. It's become obvious that you just don't want to listen to anything anyone else says.

    For someone to say that how much we spend on INDIVIDUAL COMPENSATION for teachers has nothing to do with how much we spend on INDIVIDUAL COMPENSATION for teachers per student, it's just plain ignorant or stupid.

    If you take the amount you spend per student on INDIVIDUAL COMPENSATION, multiply it by the number of students in a class, you get the amount you spend on INDIVIDUAL COMPENSATION for each teacher.

    They directly corrolate to each other. If you can't see that, something is wrong.

    You're comparing the individual compensation of a teacher in Oregon to the individual compensation of a teacher in another state. That doesn't take into consideration the number of students each teacher is educating. A teacher with 35 students has a lot more work to do than a teacher with 25 students. Therefore, the teacher with 25 students should have a lower compensation than the teacher with 35 students.

    That's why a more accurate way to compare individual teacher compensation across the states is to divide it by the number of students they're educating, then compare that number.

    That number shows our teachers are making about $3500 extra in INDIVIDUAL COMPENSATION than the national average.

    And no, we don't have problems with numbers from those organizations. It's just that a lot of the numbers you're throwing out are not meant for comparison across the states. The PER STUDENT numbers are the standard for comparison.

  • Sid Leader (unverified)
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    Amen, Hallalujah and Goodnight!

    Thanks Jenni.

    (p.s. Bailie's been trolling on oregonlive's sad sad New Jersey-based-robot-run forums for years and years)

  • Sid Leader (unverified)
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    Hi Robert Harris (I used to have a student named that).

    I said my nephew's public schools in -suburban- Chicago.

    Please feel free to re-read my original note.

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    Sid, What school district? I have the pay scales for every district in Illinois.

  • (Show?)

    Sid--

    No wonder I felt like I was back over at Oregon Live again!

    Sad doesn't even begin to describe those forums.

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    Jenni, You say, "It's just that a lot of the numbers you're throwing out are not meant for comparison across the states. The PER STUDENT numbers are the standard for comparison."

    How did you decide that? "Per student numbers" are fine if you are comparing states in "per student" funding, which Oregon ranks 27th in the U.S. (NEA 2005) Oregon ranks higher than all adjacent states. What is your point?

    Research comparing individual average salaries, which NEA, AFT, the Rand Corporation and almost all other K-12 research organizations compile, is equally useful and consistently used. Oregon is 13th highest in the U.S.

    Both sets of data are valuable. Either set of data you chose is considerably above Oregon's level of affluence or ability to support. What you are trying to do by mixing this data is useless. That is why it has never been presented in any research (that I have seen). Show me your source of information and why it is relevant.

  • (Show?)

    Comparing salaries from state to state just doesn't work-- it's comparing apples to oranges.

    Some states may have a student:teacher ratio that is 25 students to 1 teacher. Other states may be 34:1. The salaries of the teachers in the state with the 34:1 ratio SHOULD be higher. Those teachers are doing more hours worth of work in grading papers, tests, and homework and contacting parents.

    But, like I said, I'm done arguing the point with you. You're never going to concede that your view of the situation isn't right. You'd rather go in and cut the compensation of teachers who are busting their butts rather than require the legislature to do its job, school districts do their job, superintendents stop being overpaid, too many administrators being hired, etc.

    But then again, it's more important for the rich to get millions in tax breaks every year for buying yachts than for our students to have a decent education.

  • mrfearless47 (unverified)
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    bailie again misses the point with:

    "I am surprised that you would hold out this information as representative of the California system. 1) California has a higher student/teacher ratio (20.6) than Oregon(20.1) and is ranked 3rd highest in the U.S. 2) The "Average Salaries of Public School Teachers" in California is $56,444. (NEA Research 2005)

    For an elementary school teachers with "only" five years experience, they are defying the statewide data by quite a bit. Your relatives aren't related to Sid's by any chance, are they?

    You MISS my point and my question completely. That my relatives are or aren't "typical" is precisely the reason why I challenged you to produce real INDIVIDUAL SALARY or INDIVIDUAL COMPENSATION data. You don't have them because they are protected by individual privacy laws. And, not one piece of data you've cited has anything about the measures of dispersion around the means, demographic criteria, or anything else that may influence the distribution. It is the same argument I've had with you about PERS statistics. I spent 35 years in academia and ALL of my research involved complex statistical methodologies. Any professional statistician will tell you that averages without the rest of the dispersion statistics are next to meaningless. You tell me either the variance or the standard deviations on any of the statistics you've cited. Once you've done that, then lets talk about your numbers.

    I won't get sucked into any discussion about how much Oregon or BFE spends per student and whether it is higher or lower than any other number you've cited unless I can standardize the numbers in some way. You've supplied NO information that lets me standardize them to see if they're even comparable.

    Since you are well-versed in educational numbers, what is your statistical training that qualifies you to interpret the numbers and draw conclusions. I'm not impressed by appeals to authority - that the numbers were generated by PhD's does not impress me; I know a lot of PhD's who couldn't balance their checkbooks, much less generate meaningful numbers. I have a minor in Math with an emphasis in statistics. I hold a PhD and have 55 refereed publications that use a wide variety of statistical methods; I've taught statistical methods to graduate students in my academic area. What are your qualifications to use, cite, compare, and interpret statistics?

    And, whether you like my individual numbers or not, whether you like Sid's numbers or not, they are, nevertheless, real numbers that don't fit the convenient averages you report. You can't explain them away; you can't dismiss them. You have to ask the obvious question of why they seem so disparate from the averages you report. The first place I'd look would be to see what the range is for any given category reported as an average. After that, I'd look at the variance. Then I'd look at the median. The 4 numbers you've seen so far constitute nothing more than a purely random sample. When random samples differ as much as you claim they do from the published averages, a trained person would look deeper. When the facts don't fit your preconceptions, one does not have the option of ignoring them.

  • Sid Leader (unverified)
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    The school district is Hinsdale, and its neighbors are doing pretty well too.

    http://www.d181.org/board/salarycompare8-27.pdf

    Average pay around $70,000, top scale $102,000. Plus big bennies. Yes, it is a very nice suburb where people value their children's lives and futures and make sacrifices towards that end.

    Do I feel Oregon teachers should make that?

    Hard to say, but after being a lifetime working in executive positions around the world, for six figures a year and more, before heading into a public middle school classroom with 30 young people an hour, well...

    Let's just say we teachers earn our pay and I want to make sure I tip the hat to all the fine families out there reading this. Our fine kids spend about 83% of their waking hours a year at home and 17% in class.

    Gee, did Bailie ever address those numbers? Did anyone?

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    mrfearless47,

    You say, "I spent 35 years in academia", ok. So why should Oregon K-12 employees be the 8th highest compensated in the U.S.? Simple question for someone who has been "35 years in academia". Do you have any data, or just unsubstantiated opinions concerning funding for Oregon K-12? Are you suggesting that there is no funding problem in Oregon? If you are disputing the research from these organizations, what valid (or invalid) information do you offer? Any?

    You say, I know a lot of PhD's who couldn't balance their checkbooks, much less generate meaningful numbers." You are sure right about that, and many have been in "academia" longer than 35 years. Perhaps that is why they stayed in "academia".

    I'll ask you the same question I asked Sid, "What school district in California do your relatives work?" I think I have current pay scales for the districts in California, also.

    You seem to have great difficulty understanding the meaning of "Average Salaries of Public School Teachers" from each state. First you add the salaries of each teacher in the state and then you will divide that total by the number of teachers. This is the simple method which hasn't changed over a lengthy period of time. Of course there will be deviations from the average, within a state. The method and data has remained consistent through the years. You can make it as complicated as you would like, if you wish. Will it be more valid, I don't think so. If it is, let me know.

  • Sid Leader (unverified)
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    Bailie,

    Good God! You are so over your head in meaningless numbers that you aren't even taking time to read the dang posts.

    My name is Sid Leader. I am a PPS middle school teacher. I have no relatives in the state of California. I never said I did. Anywhere. And with a former musclehead high school grad as Governor, I don't really care if that state falls into the Pacific. They'd deserve it.

    Anyway, I have been posting about Hinsdale school district, in suburban Chicago. And I posted a url for the salaries there -- $102,000+ a year PLUS bennies.

    Kari! Throw us a line here, will ya? Can people just post b.s. all night long, or what?

  • mrfearless47 (unverified)
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    bailie babbles:

    "You say, "I spent 35 years in academia", ok. So why should Oregon K-12 employees be the 8th highest compensated in the U.S.? Simple question for someone who has been "35 years in academia". Do you have any data, or just unsubstantiated opinions concerning funding for Oregon K-12? Are you suggesting that there is no funding problem in Oregon? If you are disputing the research from these organizations, what valid (or invalid) information do you offer? Any?

    You say, I know a lot of PhD's who couldn't balance their checkbooks, much less generate meaningful numbers." You are sure right about that, and many have been in "academia" longer than 35 years. Perhaps that is why they stayed in "academia".

    I'll ask you the same question I asked Sid, "What school district in California do your relatives work?" I think I have current pay scales for the districts in California, also.

    You seem to have great difficulty understanding the meaning of "Average Salaries of Public School Teachers" from each state. First you add the salaries of each teacher in the state and then you will divide that total by the number of teachers. This is the simple method which hasn't changed over a lengthy period of time. Of course there will be deviations from the average, within a state. The method and data has remained consistent through the years. You can make it as complicated as you would like, if you wish. Will it be more valid, I don't think so. If it is, let me know. "

    I'm not going to answer a single question of yours until you take the time to read mine and answer them. I asked you multiple questions in the post to which you're responding? You literally answered NONE of them, instead choosing to continue to pick at the same bone. You can throw numbers at me until you are blue (or red) in the face, but not one number will convince me of the relevance or importance of your point UNTIL and unless you give me the associated statistics I'm asking for. If you are unable to provide them because they aren't available or you don't know where to look, just admit it and quit reciting the same numbers and the same rankings over and over again.

    Oh, I will answer one of your questions: California - Fresno Unified School District and Clovis Unified School District.

    Don't bother replying to my message UNLESS you're planning to answer the sequence of questions I asked you in my previous post.

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    Let's see, Sid's only information is about a nephew in Hinsdale, mrfearless (who has a zillion degrees combined with some academic publications) has offered a tidbit about three relatives in California. LT rejects material from ECONorthwest and/or the Chalkboard Project. None will accept the data from the NEA, AFT, Rand Research, ECONorthwest, the Chalkboard Project or any other sources. What is interesting is that all of these independent sources of material are all consistent.

    If this represents "academia", perhaps that is why Oregon K-12 funding is in dire straits. I have continually requested any additional information from these people, with no results except anecdotes about relatives who vary from the average. Almost all teachers vary from the average, but that doesn't make the average meaningless. Again present your own information, if you will not accept any other. Your diversion tactics have no merit.

  • mrfearless47 (unverified)
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    bailie:

    Do you just shoot from the lip without ever bothering to read anyone's posts? Did you bother to read my last post, or the one before that. When are you going to answer MY questions. You're the one diverting attention. You're the one who won't answer questions. You're the one with access to the studies. It's time to fish or cut bait: Where are the supporting numbers I've asked for repeatedly. I repeat for the umpteeth time: AVERAGES HAVE NO MEANING without the supporting dispersion data. Either you have those data or you don't. If you do, put them out for us to see. If you don't, then tell us and shut the **** up. I suspect one of three things: 1) you have the numbers but don't want to report them; 2) the research didn't publish them, which makes the work all the more suspect, no matter who did it; 3) it might be there but you're too lazy or stupid to look or don't know what you're looking for.

    If I told you that the average salary for all participants on this Board, as compiled by Marge Inovera, was $58,000 per year, what would your response be? What would be your first question? Your second question? Your third question?

    You are like an old phonograph stuck on the same track over and over and over and over again. We keep bumping the needle, but the record is so warped that it keeps coming back to the same point. We can't even figure out what the tune is supposed to be because I can't name it in two notes. Give me more notes so I can discern the song you're playing.

  • Sid Leader (unverified)
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    Bailie,

    I have posted EXACT information on Hinsdale schools paying more than $102,000 per year to its fine teachers. Here it is for SECOND TIME.

    http://www.cps-humanresources.org/Careers/salary.htm

    Bailie is LIVING PROOF reading is not the same as comprehending.

    I can use her many mistakes in this thread as a reading lesson next week in class with my 120 students.

    Thanks, Ms. B!

    Your mistakes will help my kids read better. You're a wonder, sweetie.

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    mrfearless47, I realize you are asking questions which have no available answers. That is your point. You refuse to work within the available data provided by ODE, NEA, OSBA, the Chalkboard Project, ECONorthwest (etc.) so you instead escape the conclusions of the data, by expanding the parameters. There is no end to that game and you know it.

    1) "The Condition of K-12 Education in Oregon", January 2005, ECONorthwest www.chalkboardproject.org/learn_more.php

    2) "Rankings & Estimates, Rankings of the States 2004 and Estimates of School Statistics 2005", NEA Research, June 2005 http://www.nea.org/edstats/images/05rankings.pdf

    3) "Survey and Analysis of Teacher Salary Trends 2002", American Federation of Teachers,2003 www.aft.org/salary/2002/download/SalarySurvey02.pdf

    4) "Oregon School Finance", ECONorthwest January 2005

    5) "Comprehensive Analysis of K-12 Education Finance in Oregon", ECONorthwest www.osba.org/hotopics/funding/2002/analysis/final.pdf

    6) "Education: The State We're In", An Education Report Card for the State of Oregon, August 2005 http://www.americanprogress.org/atf/cf/%7BE9245FE4-9A2B-43C7-A521-5D6FF2E06E03%7D/OREGON-FINAL.PDF

    This is but a few of the studies, all are consistent in data showing that the compensation of individual Oregon K-12 salaries and benefits are high compared to other states. Please show your data to the contrary.

  • mrfearless47 (unverified)
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    bailie waffles with:

    I realize you are asking questions which have no available answers. That is your point. You refuse to work within the available data provided by ODE, NEA, OSBA, the Chalkboard Project, ECONorthwest (etc.) so you instead escape the conclusions of the data, by expanding the parameters. There is no end to that game and you know it.

    1) My questions were asked in earnest. It has taken me 4 or 5 responses to you to get you to answer this simple question.

    2) I am unable to draw any conclusions of any kind about the meaning of the data in the reports you cite as I have no basis to either interpret the data in context, or to be able to standardize them in some way so I'm certain I'm comparing apples to apples.

    3) You're the one playing the game. If you were seriously interested in the answer to the question, you'd be asking the groups conducting all those studies you cite for the dispersion statistics. You would be in a much stronger position -- as would others who are suggesting that K-12 teachers might be overcompensated -- if we knew what factors were influencing the data. It is not gameplaying to ask for those essential pieces of information. It is difference between making a point by repeating over and over again, and making the same point once with all the supporting data that make it impossible to refute.

    4) I've never suggested I had alternate data or contradictory data; only that randomly selected data points suggest far more dispersion in the statistics you've been citing than you're willing to acknowledge. And it is that VARIATION that is of such interest to me. But if I'm confronted with real cases of individual salaries in different school districts that deviate significantly from the average, I'm thinking two different things: a) outlier? or b) much larger range of variation than the average alone suggests. That's the way a methodologically inclined researcher would work. Obviously, to you "averages" are everything and you only work with data published. You don't feel any responsibility to yourself to get ALL relevant facts before drawing conclusions?

    Obviously nothing I write will persuade you to look beyond the narrow universe at the tip of your nose. Your complete and utter lack of curiosity amazes me. Why aren't you asking deeper questions? The data beg for them.

  • Sid Leader (unverified)
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    Bailie, go pollute OregonLive like you used to and leave us thinking people alone.

    Figures lie and liars figure, pal.

    So go blow, like W!

  • Statistics student (unverified)
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    Yea Sid! Mr. Fearless reminds me of the statistics class I took. Maybe Baleful never took a statistics class and thus is telling us that " ODE, NEA, OSBA, the Chalkboard Project, ECONorthwest (etc.) said it, I believe it, that settles it!"

    Except that my statistics prof said one of the reasons for taking his class was that so in the future when studies using statistics were mentioned in the news or elsewhere we would know who to believe. Maybe Baleful is trying to say that my statistics prof. (wherever he may be now) is actually out campaigning for those awful overpaid Oregon teachers when he should be giving undying allegiance to ODE, NEA, OSBA etc. published statistics and not asking the questions he taught us to ask and answer?

  • howard (unverified)
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    mrfearless47 sums up:

    "I've never suggested I had alternate data or contradictory data; only that randomly selected data points suggest far more dispersion in the statistics you've been citing than you're willing to acknowledge. And it is that VARIATION that is of such interest to me. But if I'm confronted with real cases of individual salaries in different school districts that deviate significantly from the average, I'm thinking two different things: a) outlier? or b) much larger range of variation than the average alone suggests. That's the way a methodologically inclined researcher would work. Obviously, to you "averages" are everything and you only work with data published.

    You (bailie) don't feel any responsibility to yourself to get ALL relevant facts before drawing conclusions?

    Obviously nothing I write will persuade you to look beyond the narrow universe at the tip of your nose. Your complete and utter lack of curiosity amazes me. Why aren't you asking deeper questions? The data beg for them."

    It strikes me that this is a shortcoming inherent in Oregon school districts that engage in collective bargaining with their teachers unions. Should teachers be paid on a per student basis? Are contract days, subject matter, working conditions, etc. factors?

    Why criticize bailie for utilizing the same statistics compiled by various organizations that are often used in the collective bargaining process or by reporters and opinion makers in the media?

  • mrfearless47 (unverified)
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    Howard inquires

    Why criticize bailie for utilizing the same statistics compiled by various organizations that are often used in the collective bargaining process or by reporters and opinion makers in the media?

    Because I have the same problem with them. I have NO dog in this fight. I just don't understand why people fall victim to the same logical traps over and over again. They cite statistics as "facts" without any critical thought ever crossing their minds. Statistics do NOT speak for themselves; they require an interpreter. And the interpreter is obligated -- at least in the world where I work and research -- to provide information that is necessary and sufficient to reconstruct the variation in the dataset and determine whether the data are statistically valid. Bailie doesn't do this, the newspapers don't do this, the organizations cited above don't do this. This is statistical illiteracy at its worst.

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    Interesting group of fellows. You refute all of the data, no matter the source, yet offer none to support your opposite opinion (or what is your opinion?). Difficult to have any constructive dialogue with that attitude.

    Sid says, "Figures lie and liars figure". You have repeated this several times. What a great idea to plant in the mind of your students (or anyone).

  • mrfearless47 (unverified)
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    bailie intones:

    Interesting group of fellows. You refute all of the data, no matter the source, yet offer none to support your opposite opinion (or what is your opinion?). Difficult to have any constructive dialogue with that attitude

    I have refuted NONE of the data nor have I offered any opposite or different opinion. I've merely been asking the whole time for information needed for me to make an INFORMED JUDGEMENT on the data. Why does that bother you so much?

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    You ask, Why does that bother you so much? It doesn't bother me at all. If I had access to the researchers, I would be asking your questions. At some point a line has to be drawn about what is acceptable. I just realize there is no end to different methods of questioning the data. I agree that it is important to question. That is why I have chosen data mostly from disinterested (unbiased) sources. The data from these disconnected organizations, all point in the same direction. I would expect that they have used different methods of statistical review to arrive at their published data. I have great respect for John Tapogna and his efforts at ECONorthwest. While I understand the political bias of NEA (and AFT), there would be no reason for them to interpret the data in favor of one state over another.

  • mrfearless47 (unverified)
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    I just realize there is no end to different methods of questioning the data. I agree that it is important to question. That is why I have chosen data mostly from disinterested (unbiased) sources

    Oh let's not go there. I don't want to get into a discussion of the potential biases of your sources. Let's just say that I'm not persuaded that the sources you cite are "disinterested (unbiased) sources". But that's really beside the point. Even if I knew the sources to be totally unbiased, I'd be asking for the same data description. You say "...there is no end to different methods of questioning the data" . That illustrates how out of your league you really are. I'm not even questioning the data - I'm not close to there yet. I'm asking for simple descriptors that would allow me to evaluate the data quality. From those I would be in a position to question (or not) the data. I don't have enough information to do more than raise my eyebrows and say and................................ (still waiting for some eloquent punchline, which can't be forthcoming without the other pieces).

  • Sid Leader (unverified)
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    Bailie,

    We just cut world hunger in half!

    (Were there four people hungry and now there are two, or were there 10 million and now there are five million?).

    You don't care. We just cut world hunger in half!

    Please go to the library and borrow "A Mathematician Reads The Newspaper" by my one of my heroes, John Allen Paulos, a world-renowned math professor who also happened to grow up Greek in Chicago like me.

    Read, Baleful, it does a body good!

  • Marvinlee (unverified)
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    Public schools do not take all children and never have. Some children are not able to leave intensive private medical care. Others are in specialized care centers equipped and staffed to cope with children without functioning brain development. A few children are criminally insane and unsafe to be allowed the freedom of public schools. Other factors also exist.

  • howard (unverified)
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    mrfearless47:

    You say: "This is statistical illiteracy at its worst."

    I am relieved to see you include just about everyone in your condemnation. Although your direct criticism was directed at bailie alone.

    Apparently you have the view that anyone who is not as well versed in statistical methodology and nuance as you and the other researchers at your level is statistically illiterate. I am of the view that there are different levels of statistical literacy; that bailie working with charts and averages from sources including the Census Bureau and ECOnorthwest is a couple more levels up from "statistical" illiteracy than the lady who claims a "direct correlation between state-to-state per pupil spending and teacher salaries" or the middle school math teacher who tried to compare top scale teacher salaries in affluent Hinsdale Illinois to average statewide teacher salaries in Oregon.

    I also suggest that you have 2 dogs in this fight. As earlier posted, you are a parent with a child or children in private school. You are paying twice for education. As a resident you also have a stake in the quality of education the public schools deliver.

    I am disappointed that you are unwilling to go beyond your criticism of bailie and enlighten us all with suggestions for improving our analysis and discourse.

  • mrfearless47 (unverified)
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    howard comments:

    I also suggest that you have 2 dogs in this fight. As earlier posted, you are a parent with a child or children in private school. You are paying twice for education. As a resident you also have a stake in the quality of education the public schools deliver.

    I am disappointed that you are unwilling to go beyond your criticism of bailie and enlighten us all with suggestions for improving our analysis and discourse.

    I've given up on the people of Oregon ever recognizing the need for quality education. I've resided here for 36 years, have sent two of my three children through the public schools, and have - as a PSU faculty member - seen the product of Oregon public K-12 schools for the entire time I was on the faculty. Unfortunately, despite all my efforts to volunteer and to goad the public schools into focusing more deeply on issues of quality, the fight has been for naught. By the time my last child came of school age, we gave up on the public schools. I pay my property taxes without complaint and I consistently vote for school levies and voted for the Multnomah County iTax. I regard good schools as essential for the economic well-being of the State of Oregon, but Oregon itself has to make that decision. Nothing I've done has made a difference. So, I pay my daughter's private school tuition, I pay my property taxes, and I do nothing that prevents the public schools from doing whatever job they're supposed to do. But I no longer consider this to be my fight -- it is a council of despair.

    As for your concern about suggestions for improving the analysis and discourse, I've already told you. The organizations that collect all the data and give bailie, you, the media, and the politicians the fodder for discussion have failed miserably to provide essential information to contextualize the results. I've told you what additional information is needed. The organizations that collect the data actually have the numbers the rest of us need to make a more informed judgement about what they say, but why they don't provide them remains a mystery to me. But, I've asked several public agencies to start providing that information (in my case, PERS) and, surprisingly, the request is being considered. So if you want to improve the quality of discussion and discourse, I suggest you ask every one of the agencies and organizations who provide this information to either (a) provide dispersion statistics on every average they publish, or (b) to explain why they shouldn't or won't. THEN we can have a discussion. It really isn't an unreasonable request, and the researchers know full-well that these data are important to an informed discussion of results, but those extra numbers would - IMHO - complicate and confound policy considerations because they probably don't strengthen the case they may be trying to make. "Facts are silly little things that have to be explained".

  • LT (unverified)
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    Over the years I have come to the conclusion that the binary division in public debate is not really "liberals vs. conservatives" but the generalizers vs. the logistical people.

    The second group are those like Mr. Fearless who say "Sorry I can't comment further without the following data..." or those who say "Here is my vision and here are the steps to carry it out." Or someone who responds to the statement "Illegal immigration is a major problem" with "Fine, tell me whether you prefer the Kyl bill or the McCain bill because states alone can't solve this".

    Of course, in the last example, it is tough to have an intelligent discussion without knowing the difference between the Kyl bill and the McCain bill. Still there are those who say "The most important problem is illegal immigration. Period. End of discussion". Sorry, I will walk away rather than dealing with that attitude. And if the person I walk away from calls me a name, that is their problem, not mine.

    Same with flat tax. When someone asks me what I think of it I ask 3 questions: 1) Are low incomes exempt? (Some plans ignore the first $10,000 or first $20,000 and only put the flat tax on the money earned above those levels). 2) Suppose the flat tax is 17% (which was one suggestion). Is there withholding from paychecks, or are taxpayers supposed to pay 17% of their annual income out of one month's paycheck (easier for higher income folks than for those just scraping by). 3) Is the flat tax only on income from wages and salaries, or on other types of income like investments?

    Serious people would know the answer to those 3, but many who have brought it up don't know the answer.

    "But I asked if you support the flat tax, yes or no" is not a serious discussion.

    Someone truly concerned about "improving the analysis and discourse" should not get angry when someone asks detailed questions, lest they appear to be more interested in starting an argument than in having the sort of serious discussion which might lead to solutions.

  • (Show?)

    Baillie,

    Based on the table I recently saw in the O (showing projected tax rates between .35 and .9%), I think that this is eminently passable. The economy is no longer struggling in this area, and I think suburban voters will be responsive to a solution that gives them more money than they pay in and allows them to avoid large classes and shortened school years.

    Mr. Fearless: standardizing the data won't change the relative averages most often cited by baillie. I haven't gone and looked at these data closely, but i must say the tenor of the responses here has not been encouraging. Someone charging the NEA with biased data--that makes teachers salaries look too high? The NEA? Aren't we stretching credulity here?

    You can't just say "data can prove anything" and leave it at that. Do your homework.

  • mrfearless47 (unverified)
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    paul gronke inquires:

    Mr. Fearless: standardizing the data won't change the relative averages most often cited by baillie. I haven't gone and looked at these data closely, but i must say the tenor of the responses here has not been encouraging. Someone charging the NEA with biased data--that makes teachers salaries look too high? The NEA? Aren't we stretching credulity here?

    What the hell is a relative average? An average is just that, an average. Sure, it will let you compare two numbers and say which one is bigger (a relative average, if you wish), but don't you think it matters whether one average is leveraged by outliers more significantly than others? Is your curiosity so stunted as to be disinterested in the rest of the statistics that describe the distribution of average compensation. As for charging the NEA with "biased data", show me where I suggested that. I wrote: " Let's just say that I'm not persuaded that the sources you cite are "disinterested (unbiased) sources" '. I hardly singled out the NEA and I stand on the assertion that NONE of the organizations bailie or anyone else cites (NEA, OSBA, ChalkBoard Project, ECONorthwest) lack bias. That they all arrive at the same averages only underscores the fact that they all get there data from the same sources. Why is it so threatening to people to inquire more deeply of the data before foaming at the mouth about what these data suggest or don't suggest about K-12 teacher compensation? To be perfectly blunt, I absolutely, positively don't have a clue what these numbers mean. They suggest NOTHING to me except that we need to dig deeper. But people want to draw intellectually lazy conclusions - simple conclusions - that require absolutely no critical thinking. It is perfectly acceptable to ask questions. It is not acceptable -- to me anyway -- to blindly offer policy solutions (like cutting K-12 teacher compensation, or raising it for that matter) without understanding what drives the numbers and how much variation exists in what we're reporting. End of discussion.

  • LT (unverified)
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    There is an old story about a math teacher trying to show the importance of studying the various kinds of averages by telling this to the class: A baseball team hires a new player. The manager sits the player down to discuss salary. He says "I think you deserve an average salary. But you need to decide which average: the mean, the median, or the mode. I'll leave you here to think about that and come back in about 10 minutes".

    There are people who will read this and know exactly what the baseball manager was talking about. Then there is the other group which (for all I know) may say "What do you mean by types of averages? I thought average meant that if 20 people work in a school, we could find the average salary at that school by adding up all the monthly (or yearly) salaries and then divide by 20".

    I was never an excellent math student, but I do know there is more than one type of average.

    And I do think there is an element of intellectual laziness in this debate. It is as if some are saying "Accept our statistics without question or we will call you big spenders who don't care about school budgets".

    To those I would suggest turning off the computer and finding a math/ statistics book which explains the types of averages. Because you won't convince those of us who understand the various types of averages by saying anyone who doesn't accept the statistics without question is a bad person.

    Last time I checked, this is still a free country where people have the right to ignore anyone whose basic premise is lacking basic facts and intellectual rigor.

  • Marvinlee (unverified)
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    I agree with LT that "one should not get angry when someone asks detailed questions." I do the same. Asking questions can be good, but it can also be a destructive way of avoiding coming to grips with a logically presented viewpoint. This applies with particular relevance to economics and education discussions where data is seldom as pristine as professional statisticians would prefer. The most practical approach to conversing about real-life issues is to use the highest quality statistics available and then to conduct the debate with those resources. As data improves over time, we can all refine our outlooks accordingly.

  • Marvinlee (unverified)
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    I agree with LT that "one should not get angry when someone asks detailed questions." I do the same. Asking questions can be good, but it can also be a destructive way of avoiding coming to grips with a logically presented viewpoint. This applies with particular relevance to economics and education discussions where data is seldom as pristine as professional statisticians would prefer. The most practical approach to conversing about real-life issues is to use the highest quality statistics available and then to conduct the debate with those resources. As data improves over time, we can all refine our outlooks accordingly.

  • mrfearless47 (unverified)
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    marvinlee writes unbelievably:

    This applies with particular relevance to economics and education discussions where data is seldom as pristine as professional statisticians would prefer. The most practical approach to conversing about real-life issues is to use the highest quality statistics available and then to conduct the debate with those resources. As data improves over time, we can all refine our outlooks accordingly.

    What kind of denial are you in. There is NO PLAUSIBLE REASON why the data I've been asking for isn't available. A trained chimpanzee with Excel, OpenOffice Spreadsheet, or a hand calculator would have generated the dispersion statistics along with the calculation of the "average". This isn't an issue of "highest quality statistics available". This is an issue of the neglect of MINIMAL standards of analysis. When are you people going to stop covering up the fact that the data bailie and others are using aren't worth the paper they're printed on without information that is ROUTINELY part of the analysis? Why aren't you asking those organizations why they don't publish it, instead of attacking me for criticizing their lack of including it?

  • Marvinlee (unverified)
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    Sorry, mrfearless, but detailed expositions of arcane statistical esoterica are not part of the public dialogue concerning any topic. However, I do support the efforts by anyone interested in taking the statistics that a variety of posters offer and doing detailed analyses of those data. Several web sites exist to aid those who wish to go deeper into the minutia of statistical scrutiny. I am not in denial at all. Having directed a management analysis center I know how engrossing analysis can become. Perhaps you would enlighten those of us without your depth of motivation by doing dispersion, and other, analyses of the data presented on this forum and telling us your findings.

  • mrfearless47 (unverified)
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    Perhaps you would enlighten those of us without your depth of motivation by doing dispersion, and other, analyses of the data presented on this forum and telling us your findings.

    Your statistical training seems to be lacking in some significant degree. How would you propose I do any sort of dispersion analysis without the raw data? The best I could do would be a meta-analysis (a study of studies), but since all the studies work with the same raw data, a meta-analysis of the study results reported on this site would tell us that -- duh, there isn't any dispersion. I'm not asking for "arcane statistical esoterica" as you insist on calling them. I'm asking for utterly basic and minimal information. If you think this isn't a part of policy discussions then you must not read polls, for these at least produce a "margin of error" statistic that gives the reader some idea of the dispersion. We have a right expect no less than this from groups that profess to be experts in what they do. If you think that this kind of statistical information is "arcane" and "esoteric", then you join the ranks of the innumerate and statistically illiterate who want to make policy recommendations on the basis of bumper sticker statistics. Sorry, but count me out. I don't play that game. You get me the raw numbers & I'll do the calculations, but it would be far simpler to ask the people who report the statistical results to provide them since they are part of the most minimal statistical output.

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    The data are available! Baillie has posted sources numerous times. Why is it his obligation to prove that the averages are misleading due to the effect of outliers? He states a claim. You say maybe the claim needs to be reexamined by looking at dispersion. He provides sources. Isn't it now your obligation to prove him wrong? Who's being lazy here?

    (I just checked... the AFT, NEA, and Chalkboard do not present dispersion information. Apparently they do not think it is relevant to comparing state average compensation or expenditures.)

    Look, it's no more intellectually competent to just yell "statistics can be manipulated" and therefore we should ignore all statistics.

    What I find distressing is the rhetoric on both sides in this thread. I've reviewed all the various sources cited, and unless E VERY SINGLE organization is biased, or purposely misleading, or can't be trusted, the evidence is clear: we spend more per pupil than any of our surrounding states other that Alaska and Hawaii and rank in the top 15 nationwide. Our benefits package is comparatively very generous.

    Maybe you want to argue why that is a good thing, or that teachers deserve even more compensation, or etc. But constantly shooting the messenger seems misguided.

  • mrfearless47 (unverified)
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    "The data are available! Baillie has posted sources numerous times. Why is it his obligation to prove that the averages are misleading due to the effect of outliers? He states a claim. You say maybe the claim needs to be reexamined by looking at dispersion. He provides sources. Isn't it now your obligation to prove him wrong? Who's being lazy here?

    Sorry. In addition to being statistically illiterate, you can't read either. I've never said anything about the data being wrong or even misleading, only incomplete. I've merely argued that there is nothing there for me to evaluate, one way or the other. The purveyors of the data don't provide the dispersion statistics. The question is why. You and bailie want me to accept the data as presented and I'm unwilling to accept them without the rest of the statistics. It's as simple as that. Stop putting words in my mouth. The statistics presented are nothing more than bumper stickers. There's no there there.

    I'd support bailie's conclusions if I knew what data and statistics supported them. As for now, they have about as much valency is me telling you that I earn, on average, $11,000 per year. That may be the average, but it tells you nothing about how my income varies from year to year. Maybe I earned $110,000 in one year, and then had 9 years of 0 income. I'm not engaging in sophistry here. Oregon may well have higher than average teacher compensation, but the numbers presented so far simply don't make the case one way or another, period.

  • howard (unverified)
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    What it boils down to is that in the absence dispersion statistics or other validators, mrfearless47 is unwilling to accept bailie's analyses. On the other hand he is not in a position to say that bailie is wrong. All he can do is raise doubt. The reasonableness of that doubt is for each of us to decide.

  • SAT lies (unverified)
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    Mrfearless47 wants to "contextualize" the comparisons. He must be suggesting the pattern would then shift and the Oregon compensation level would become "average"??????????/

    If he got what he wanted and it reflected the same consistent picture Bailie presented (from teacher and teacher friendly groups) he would then want to start using Sid's line. "Figures lie and liars figure".

    Since this is the premiere spot for statistics expertise have any of you ever looked at the yearly lie about Oregon being "tops" or second in SAT scores.

    Talk about liars figuring.

  • Statistics Student (unverified)
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    If you Google "mean, median, mode" (one of the few things I remember of that statistics class all those years ago) you will find definitions like these.

    mean The sum of a list of numbers, divided by the total number of numbers in the list.

    median "Middle value" of a list. The smallest number such that at least half the numbers in the list are no greater than it. If the list has an odd number of entries, the median is the middle entry in the list after sorting the list into increasing order. If the list has an even number of entries, the median is equal to the sum of the two middle (after sorting) numbers divided by two.

    mode For lists, the mode is the most common (frequent) value.

    Nothing esoteric about these definitions. We had to learn them in class as types of averages. They merely show that statements such as "we are below average" are far too simple for those who actually understand even elementary statistics.

    Some may not want to include these in discussion because they are a bit more complex than bumper sticker slogans. But don't insult the intelligence of those who know these definitions exist by saying things like "standardizing the data won't change the relative averages ". If you can't tell us if those averages are mean, median, or mode, then you are asking us just to accept assertions without proof. And in a free society we are allowed to say "show me the detailed information if you want my support".

  • mrfearless47 (unverified)
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    SAT lies lies:

    Mrfearless47 wants to "contextualize" the comparisons. He must be suggesting the pattern would then shift and the Oregon compensation level would become "average"??????????/

    If he got what he wanted and it reflected the same consistent picture Bailie presented (from teacher and teacher friendly groups) he would then want to start using Sid's line. "Figures lie and liars figure".

    Oh give me a break. Don't you dare insult my intelligence or integrity. You obviously can't read and you obviously don't grasp what I'm asking for. I want to see the data with all the dispersion statistics to put the results in ANY frikking context - not just a context I "like". Perhaps they will show that Oregon's compensation is so outrageously high that no sane person would support further increases. Perhaps they will show that Oregon's compensation is actually lower than the averages suggest. The actual results don't matter to me; I simply want results I understand and can interpret in a meaningful way, period. Why are you too dumb to understand that very simple point.

    I'm not a teacher, my kid isn't in the public schools -- I've already told you this (I you knew how to read, you'd have found this out already) -- and results either way would not concern me to the point of distraction. I simply want to know what the answer to bailie's question really is with data that actually fully support the answer, whatever it is.

    I'm simply on a campaign to stop the kind of meaningless statistics that bailie and all the organizations he cites keep perpetuating. They are illustrative of gross statistical illiteracy and incompetence. They support nothing; they mean nothing -- at least not without more information. Is that too hard for you to grasp?

  • SAT lies (unverified)
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    Mrfearless47 You ask, "Is that too hard for you to grasp?" Is it too hard for you to grasp that any comparative analysis can be improved with additional information. I could dwell complain as you after you contextualize. Example. ''''Your contextualization is meaningless. We need to interview every teacher and do a spread sheet on their cost of living and socioeconomic circumstances to better understand true compensation and relativeness. Only then can we really know anything at all. Until then we cannot know if Oregon teachers are over compensated or under compensated.'''' And since that will be never be done (just as your contextualization will not) we will simply do nothing at all because of guys like you.

    Hey how about a blue ribbon committee and a two year study?

  • LT (unverified)
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    How about a comparison of teacher salaries with the median income for the locality where they teach? Perhaps a teacher in Stayton makes the median income in Stayton but a teacher in Beaverton makes below the median income in Beaverton? Or is that too complex to grasp?

    Of course that would involve admitting there is more to this than some of the generalities above imply. You can't just take statistics off some website and expect everyone to believe them by saying they are "accepted". That would be like taking the median teacher salary from 4 places (maybe Prineville, Salem, Waldport and Hillsboro) adding them up, dividing by 4 and saying that the "average" teacher salary resulting from that computation has any reality in Medford, Maupin, Elgin, Eugene, Ashland, Albany.

    This is not a serious conversation on the part of those who use phrases like "accepted statistics". Serious people should just give up on this discussion because those using such phrases get angry about clarifying questions.

  • mrfearless47 (unverified)
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    SAT lies blathers:

    Is it too hard for you to grasp that any comparative analysis can be improved with additional information. I could dwell complain as you after you contextualize. Example. ''''Your contextualization is meaningless. We need to interview every teacher and do a spread sheet on their cost of living and socioeconomic circumstances to better understand true compensation and relativeness. Only then can we really know anything at all. Until then we cannot know if Oregon teachers are over compensated or under compensated.'''' And since that will be never be done (just as your contextualization will not) we will simply do nothing at all because of guys like you.

    Hey how about a blue ribbon committee and a two year study?

    This bucephalus is too tired to carry on a battle of wits with an unarmed person.

    Sure, we could drag out the analysis forever, but I NEVER ONCE said that was my goal. Those are YOUR WORDS, not mine. I merely want statistics that a retarded chimpanzee could produce and that EVERY program calculating the arithmetic mean (simple average to the ignoranti) generates AUTOMATICALLY. People CHOOSE not to provide them; it requires NO EXTRA work to do so. Why don't you stop for a second and ask WHY they aren't provided. If they supported the argument, they'd shut people like me up; if they don't support the argument, then the statistics published are worthless. I don't give a flying f*ck about blue ribbon panels or spending any additional money for more studies. I want what the studies already done have but won't provide.

    I'm done. You can keep up mentally masturbating over this. You're incapable of grasping the importance of these additional data to the whole discourse.

  • Jon (unverified)
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    Equally important is confronting the increasing trend of measuring success by standardized tests. Teachers have their creativity stifled by curriculum in a box, designed to get students to pass tests. Kids who can memorize facts and regurgitate them on multiple choice tests are considered successful regardless of whether they love learning. Good grades and test scores don't necessarily mean good thinkers, but thanks to NCLB that's how we label schools.

    Uh, sorry. But that started in Oregon with the CIM/CAM system long before NCLB.

  • Nicole (unverified)
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    Excellent, excellent comments about parent involvement Leslie! I thought you might like to know about a Community Summit that PTAs in the Jefferson cluster are planning to help address some of the issues you raised, for Jefferson and the elementary and middle schools that feed into Jefferson - many of which have traditionally had low parent involvement. It will take place on Saturday, October 1st at Jefferson high school.

    If anyone would like more information about the event you can send a message to [email protected]

    Also, if you would like to join a new listserve for community members, parents, teachers, and others to share information about schools, youth activities, volunteer opportunities, etc. for Jefferson neighborhood schools, send an email to: [email protected]

    Thanks!

    PS Check out the article about the Oct 1 Summit and the King PTA parent involvement initiative in the Portland Observer, titled "A Future Depends on it." http://www.portlandobserver.com.

  • Marvinlee (unverified)
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    Those interested on the efficacy of student testing have two recent stories to consider. "Success in the City" by Carolyn Kleiner Butler in the Oct. 2 U.S. News and World Report relates the success of frequent testing in improving mostly minority student performance at Norfolk Public Schools, Virginia. A different view is found in a 2005 book titled "Achievement Gap in U.S. Education." There, author Mano Singham, page 120, has a more limited admiration of testing. "The trap with assessments is that we tend to focus our attention on what can be assessed easily rather than measuring things that are worth knowing." I found both authors worth reading. The book offers a more complex review of education issues befitting its 181 page length.

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