Did you hear this? At the last debate Hillary proposes a “swat team” within the federal department of education that will be there to go in and take over failing school districts.LINK
"I want to set up inside the Department of Education, for want of a better term, kind of an education SWAT team, if you will, where we’ve got qualified people, teachers, principals, maybe folks who are retired, maybe folks who are active, but all of whom are willing to come and help.”
Oh I am sure this would go well. Their have been enough problems when states have taken over local districts but now they want the federal government to come in and take them over.
Isn’t the reason why schools fail is because of poor administration, teachers, apathetic or overworked parents, and poor local government? You can’t readily get rid of the teachers. You can’t switch out a students’ families. You can’t fire the local government. So that leaves administrators and how much are they part of this equation anyway? This seems like one of those ideas that’s about doing something to do something but doesn’t address the problem.
Apart from the fact this sort of crap is suggested/pulled somewhere as an ‘experiment’ that quietly fizzles out with miserable regularity; and depends on there being sufficient retirees coming back for one last job, and bossy stay-at-mom moms hankering for life, and weird little men who want to get have hands-on experience with the kids, and basically anyone willing to order small people around for no pay [ and many Republican politicians would agree that teachers should do it for the love of the job and receive no wages; or otherwise be undercut by volunteers to reduce whatever bargaining points they have ] — it is heartening that this essentially B-List Sequel celebrity is getting her ‘ideas’ fed to her and her faithful army of wonks from scarcely bearable '90s comedies and their sequels.
Coming Soon ! Academy Academy !
The elderly granny with her walker tripping everyone up ! The stiff-necked authoritarian barking out orders ! The shy little mouse who can intimidate the largest thug ! The sly suck-up who betrays the gang to the gruff ridiculous Administrator and his goons ! The Frankly Demented !
Don’t forget to demand more in terms of demonstrating their effectiveness, their background education, maintenance of their knowledge of teaching and their field, and just generally demand a higher bar.
Actually teachers arent paid that bad. Beginning salary is pretty decent at about $32,000 beginning in our area. many first level jobs in other career fields pay less than that.
To go along with that teaching is very specialized and salaries are not really equal with other professions. For example a 2nd grade teachers degree and certification really doesnt go well into other careers so just what do you compare incomes to?
Plus I’ve never heard that salary really making a big difference because teachers are willing to get paid less money if they get to work in the district they want and get the kids and conditions they want. For example in our area (Kansas City)some of the suburban districts (ex. Blue Valley) will get dozens of applicants for any jobs whereas positions down in Kansas City Missouri they cant find anyone good to work there. The salaries for both areas are about the same and actually better for KCMO since the teachers have less of a workload.
Teachers in private schools are paid less than in public schools yet they get better outcomes.
I think the biggest problem with Hillary’s swat team idea is that to be effective, they would have to go in and fire or elsewise remove a LOT of staff. They have tried this in some areas and with union rules and all, this leads to a HUGE battle.
And consider the cost? Let’s say the feds want to bring in a swat team to Detroit. How are they going to pay and house all these “swat team” members? They would need to be there for a year or more.
I also dont think people realize just how bad and how dangerous some schools and the neighborhoods they exist in are. For example in some schools “open house” is held at around 4-5 pm because teachers and staff refuse to stay in the area after dark. So any “swat team” will have to be housed someplace safe and bused down every day.
The idea that “rebooting” a school–firing everyone and rebuilding it–is the key to success is often attractive and has been tried many times, but I’m unaware of any instance where it really worked. Nor is having a group of experts swooping in for a few years of reform likely to do much good. It’s a sad fact of life that maintaining change and reform is every bit as difficult as implementing it, and if the will or resources are not there to keep things going, it all settles back in to where is was before–except worse, because with a scorched earth policy you get rid of quite a few babies with the bathwater, and all the institutional memory.
The problem isn’t so much that teacher salaries are horrible at first, it’s that they tend to stagnate. There are step increases later, but not much. So at 23 you might be making close to what your friends from college are making, but by middle age they’ve left you far behind your peers.
I agree that improving working conditions would be another way to increase the quality of teachers that we get, but you can’t really look at current teachers to see what would happen if salaries were better. The real question is would the various lawyers, engineers, doctors, computer programmers, accountants, business consultants, etc. be better teachers than many of the teachers we get today? Which is not to say we have to pay teacher like doctors, but if the gap were not quite so huge, more people that wanted to teach would actually pursue that profession.
The point is not that more money will make current teachers teach better. It’s that it will attract better people into teaching.
It’s been done, as I said above. Lots of places without unions. It just doesn’t work.
While it’s true that starting salaries for elementary education is around $32,000, that is AWFUL for a job that requires a college degree, plus the mid career salary (which is really more important in discussions like this - many people are willing to start out low paid if there is a reward later) is one of the worst from degree requiring jobs.
In this 2014 salary study, out of 129 majors, Phys Ed was 107, Education was 112, Special Ed was 124, and Elementary Ed was 128 (If you’re wonder, last place was Child and Family Studies). All the education majors are in the bottom quintile for mid-career salaries.
If you want to claim teachers are paid well, pay them like engineers.
EDIT: since you were making a point about starting salaries, if you sort by starting salary you see the education majors are STILL all in the bottom quintile. Teachers are just not paid well for the requirements to go into the field.
Schools already have computers and internet connections. Most of the functions of this SWAT team could be carried out remotely, with a few onsite advisors. The cost, as far as government programs are concerned, would be negligible.
What are the requirements? A bachelor’s degree in education and a semester of student teaching?
I had math teachers who knew less math than I did when I was 14. And I’m no genius, just slightly better than my peers. In college, I knew several engineering majors who just couldn’t handle the math involved and transferred to the education department. Those students were teaching math just a few years later. I have talked to teachers and they didn’t have to learn much about any particular subject in college. Their curriculum was mostly just pedagogy and educational bureaucracy.
I’m not saying there aren’t a lot of great teachers out there. But most have been driven out by the incredibly low pay, lack of professional autonomy and a shit ton of sub-par peers. If you want teachers to earn engineer salaries (and I agree they should), then they need to be held to similarly rigorous standards.
But let’s be honest here, the governments who hire teachers don’t want quality over quantity. They want as many teachers as they can get for the lowest possible price. And that basically ensures the quality of public school teaching will continue to decline, teachers will continue to lose prestige as a profession, potentially good teachers will continue to choose better paying and more respected careers instead, and students will continue to get poor educational outcomes.
I can see some elements of such a strategy being effective. School systems can get so bogged down with local politics and politicians that they can’t pull their heads up far enough out of the muck to see the bigger picture. Having a trained assessment team come in with fresh eyes and no dog in the fight to make some changes based on what has worked in similar situations might be valuable. If they then have the power to quickly get some funding put toward the changes and can somehow assure that the changes stick, this could be valuable.
But of course that’s an ideal situation and government involvement often precludes ideal situations. Coming in, upsetting the locals, making a big stink, then leaving with no follow-up is just as likely the scenario that would occur, in which case it could cause more problems than it solves.
But I fully agree that something has to be done. Our current educational system is so broken that well-meaning, forward-thinking people working within the system can’t seem to change it, so something outside the box does need to be considered.
Federal governments taking over local schools is probably quite unconstitutional. Only states can do that. As for the effectiveness, there’s nothing inherently wrong with any level of government taking over a failing school, it all depends on if the people involved are competent. I’m sure if Hillary wanted to take over one school, she’d have a crack group of people available to do it. Not sure how she’d run 10,000 of them.
The other issue is how serious she is. As the endorsed candidate of the teachers unions, what are the chances that she’ll fire the teachers? I’m not sure how you fix a failed school just by changing the administration.