I fail to understand how the teaching profession will grow stronger if teachers lose their pensions and their health benefits. Teachers don’t go into the profession to get rich, but they do have an expectation that they can retire to a life of dignity after 25 or 30 years in the classroom, not a life of penury. From the teachers I know, I don’t think those benefits are overly generous. One of my nieces taught in an inner-city school in Florida for 20 years; she retired with a pension of $25,000. Is that too much? She is divorced and has two children to support.
I believe that experienced teachers should be paid more than new teachers. The studies use test scores as the measure of “effectiveness,” but as you know, there are many problems in doing so. I know teachers who work in hospital schools. Some of their students die, some transfer out. I know many teachers whose subjects are not tested. Should everything that is taught be tested? Some districts are moving in that direction, and from the look of things, there won’t be much time left for instruction, just test prep all the time.
Should teachers get no extra pay for education credentials and masters degrees? In Finland, every teacher is required to get a masters degree; the government pays the full cost of obtaining it. That government thinks it is a good investment. I think we should encourage teachers to get masters’ in the subject or subjects they teach, and for those who are teaching students with disabilities, a masters is essential. So by all means, let us not economize by removing rewards for additional education. After all, if the teacher does not love and respect learning, how can he or she transmit that love and respect to their students?
The report says that limits on class size are unnecessary, but the research I’ve seen shows that smaller classes are especially beneficial in the early grades and for minority students. Given the incredible diversity in American classrooms today–with some students barely speaking English, some with various disabilities, and many at different academic levels–larger classes will be very difficult to manage, and children who need extra help won’t get it, especially when districts lay off the teachers’ aides that the report says are superfluous.
Are teachers getting too many sick and personal days? I have no idea, but teachers–unlike other professionals–interact daily with children who carry all sorts of illnesses into the classroom. This is an issue for the bargaining table, and I assume that every district has a way to calculate what is right and necessary.
The reason I find this report unbelievable is that I can’t understand how the education profession gets better if teachers have less experience, less education, and more crowded classrooms. I don’t get the logic.
I am not an economist, nor am I an accountant. I care about good education. I would like to see all our children get a great education. These policy proposals may save money, but I don’t see how they will improve the education profession or lead to better education -- Diane Ravitch