Saturday, May 13, 2006

Hmmm? Would there be a "teacher shortage" if....

Retirement was not at 55 for teachers?

Union pressure force competent and qualified teachers to leave the profession?

Did you know that there are over 74000 teachers collecting retirement from Illinois. Same may be actually working in other states collecting a salary to work on collecting a second pension.

Friday, May 12, 2006

"There Is No Shortage of Teachers, Just Skilled Teachers"

The following piece is a speech from the President of Northeastern University.

Opinion Pieces by Richard M. Freeland

"There Is No Shortage of Teachers, Just Skilled Teachers"

Connection: The Journal of the New England Board of Higher Education

Fall 2001

We have once again experienced an annual ritual that speaks volumes about the state of our states and, indeed, our republic. As one school year ends, many public school teachers of long standing conclude that it is time to end their careers in education and move on to another profession or to retirement. By mid-summer, reports begin to appear in the local and national media about a looming teacher shortage as school districts anticipate September. By late summer, media coverage of the teacher shortage has taken on a sense of panic a la “Mass. schools scrambling to fill teacher vacancies.” The newspapers create the impression that fall will bring rooms full of 13-year-olds left to their own devices. Then comes September, as it always does, and we learn that virtually every teaching job is filled.

This annual roller-coaster ride suggests a few propositions:

First, getting the best teachers with the strongest skills in front of our students is the key not only to giving young people the chance to live full and rewarding lives, but also to improving the economy and the society.

Second, we do not face a "teacher shortage" per se, but rather something like a "skills shortage" among those who enlist to serve as teachers.

Third, without a doubt, there exists today sufficient numbers of individuals with the talent, interest, patience, intellect, character and determination to provide all students with the kind of teaching and nurturing we would want for our own children.

A further proposition: we as a society (we university presidents, we neighborhood residents, we corporate CEOs, we community activists, newspaper publishers, mayors and governors and senators and legislators) are responsible for letting our school districts down, for placing them in the unholy posture of having to "scramble" every year to find the talent they need to fulfill their responsibilities and to realize our hopes for our children and our communities.

A new study by Northeastern University’s Center for Labor Market Studies offers the first statistical glimpse into the challenge faced by Massachusetts school districts each year. The Northeastern study found that, come late September, all but a few classrooms in Massachusetts were staffed by a teacher. At the same time, the study found that more than one-quarter of all secondary school teachers hired in Massachusetts last year lacked certification in their primary teaching area. The problem was particularly acute among special education, foreign language and math and science teachers.

The study also anticipates that, over the next five to seven years, this fundamental teacher skills deficit will worsen considerably. An aging teacher work force combined with new incentives for older teachers to retire means that last year’s comparatively low teacher turnover rate will rise over the next several years. The increased rate of retirement will not only boost quit rates directly but will also increase teacher turnover indirectly as school districts replace experienced teachers with new entrants in the teaching field. These freshly minted teachers are much more likely to leave the teaching profession in the first few years after entry than their older counterparts — further exacerbating the shortage of qualified teachers throughout New England.

The much-discussed teacher shortage is not a classic labor shortage in which too many jobs chase too few qualified individuals. Rather, our predicament is the result of a recruitment and compensation system designed decades ago which has not kept pace with the contemporary economy. The hidebound set of contracts, rules, customs and professional relationships that may have worked in decades past to enrich our schools are now encumbrances that keep us from placing the teachers we need in front of students.

Is there a shortage of math and science teachers? How could there not be, when most of those men and women who are trained to teach math and science can substantially increase their salaries with a short hop into the private sector where they will surely encounter far better working conditions and greater societal respect for their efforts.

New England can rest on its laurels and revel in past glories. Or we can think anew about the implications of the so-called teacher shortage. Should we take the latter course, we might begin by asking ourselves what kinds of changes in teacher compensation and working conditions it would take to put in front of a class of 13-year-olds a woman or man who has dedicated her or his career to learning and teaching and who is richly equipped to impart to students the knowledge, skills and inspiration they need to make their maximum contribution to our communities.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

To Destroy Public Education. Part two: The Munger Plan.

The following article appeared at .

To Destroy Public Education.
Part two: The Munger Plan.

by Dave Munger

To review: the current educational system must die a violent death:
• Because the things that are accomplished by the government controlled system are either unnecessary, harmful or could be accomplished in other ways.
• Because even the proponents of the status-quo concede that the coercive, monopolistic bureaucracy would work best if it was run AS IF it were a private enterprise.
• Because it is so resistant to change that any reform profound enough to make a difference would be destructive anyway.
• Because an education system based on socialistic premises necessarily teaches socialistic values, and can't maintain neutrality on any issue, since socialist ideology is dogmatic on every conceivable issue.
• Because of numerous flaws in the system that are inherent and proverbial.

Glad we could get that out of the way in a hurry.

Post-literate America demands that whenever the elimination of a government institution is proposed, the party making the proposal must present them with an alternative government program to replace it. Catch-22: the only way to remedy this would be by educating the populace under a different system, one enforcing standards alien to the society we've got now; hence, one not likely to spring forth organically.

As odious as this sounds, in order for an alternative to be put into practice in the atmosphere and for the foreseeable future, it has to be passed into law at the federal level. A solution that requires initiative from the people acting independently of politics will have to wait for a later, less political era. The solution will have to provide education free of charge to the children of "the poor," as the current system purports to do.

To view the rest of the article go to

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

To Destroy Public Education, part 1: Die Monster Die

The following article appeared

Public education is one of those phrases that is now almost exclusively used in combination with the word "reform". Unfortunately, by the time something is so screwed up that the sheep realize that reform is necessary, it's too late, and the only satisfactory remedy is to destroy the thing and start over (or leave it behind and create an alternative, like the Puritans who originally set out to reform the Church of England, then gave. All new hope comes from despair, the death of old hope). Since systems tend to perpetuate themselves (actually most of them don't, but the successful ones are the ones that do, and that's what we're left to deal with), there is much more resistance to this than would seem to be warranted by the possible negative consequences of replacing the system, considering the supposed purposes of the system and whether it has ever filled these purposes better than an entirely different system (or no system at all) would. Even such a no-brainer as abolishing the Department of Education is considered too controversial for a politician to even mention, even though no one has ever gone so far as to come up with a reason for it to exist in the first place (Maybe there was something, I think it had to do with Sputnik...).

Next to the table I type on is a pile of books, topped with one by Major General John Stanford (foreword by Albert Gore),
subtitled "We CAN Give Our Children Excellent Public Education" (OUR children? Never mind). It is not made clear therein exactly why it is so important that education be public as well as excellent. One of the noteworthy premises of the book is that public schools ought to be run as if they were private enterprises. I've never been entirely clear about the meaning of the phrase "begging the question", but if that isn't it then it isn't a very useful expression.

The burden of proof is placed upon those who would eliminate public education, although it belongs on those who defend it, since what they defend is expensive, and their position concerning it is affirmative (this is why someone on trial is considered innocent until proven guilty. The prosecutor is saying that he DID do something. That he DID NOT is a negative statement, so it does not have to be proven.) When one tries to figure out why some feel public education is the only possible answer, one is almost forced to guess.

To view the rest of the article go to

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

D-158 wants audit answers

Hmm. I am sure many voters have similar questions in regard to the cost of educating our students. The following story appeared in the Northwest Herald.

D-158 wants audit answers

[published on Mon, May 8, 2006]
HUNTLEY – District 158 school board members want to know why fees for the district's audit have ballooned to more than three times the initial forecasts.

Stanley Hall, the district's chief financial officer, said Friday that he would meet with representatives from the accounting firm William F. Gurrie to determine whether costs could be cut.
"Everything's negotiable," said Hall, who projected the audit's final cost to approach $90,000. That is about triple the amount called for in the district's contract with Gurrie.
Meanwhile, a bill from Gurrie for about $13,000 and expected additional fees remain unpaid while the district seeks answers.
Gurrie's representatives could not be reached for comment Friday.
Board member Larry Snow, who first called attention to the issue, said the firm charged the district $275 an hour and sometimes more for an audit beset by delays and discrepancies.
The district's audit was finalized in April, almost nine months after the end of the fiscal year. The audit contained a gap of about $60,000 between the district's books and bank balances, officials have said.
"A lot of the auditing work was needless because the monthly bank statements weren't balanced," Snow said.
Hall said he was not sure how the firm's hourly rate of $275 compared with previous years.
"It sounds high," he said, "but I'm from downstate and everything up here sounds high."
The district already has paid most of Gurrie's fees, Hall said, despite totals higher than expected.
That raised questions with Snow, who said he and other board members assumed that the bill would be closer to $30,000 than $90,000.
"[Administrators] didn't tell us that they had authorized the spending," Snow said. "Sixty-thousand dollars is at least one highly qualified teacher. It's not a small amount of money."
Hall said he hoped to have an update for the board in time for its monthly meeting May 18.

To view the rest of the story visit the Northwest Herald.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Behind in postings.

We have been a bit behind in postings. Once in a while we will back date and date forward some posts.

Did you know?

That teachers can retire at 55 with a full pension.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Unrealistic voucher system

The following letter to the editor appeared in the Northwest Herald.
Not surprising it is from a teacher on government dole.
If public schools are so great teachers and teachers unions should not oppose vouchers. Students and family would not leave the public school system if they were properly educating our children. The writer and the unions must fear vouchers because they know they are inadequate and given the chance students and families would leave the public education system. Opposing vouchers by these groups is about greed.

The following letter to the editor appeared in the NWH.

Unrealistic voucher system

[published on Sat, May 6, 2006]
To the Editor:

Those who would compare private and public schools and who support a state-funded voucher system do not paint a realistic picture.

Such comparisons are invalid because a level playing field does not exist.

For example, private schools are not bound by the federal No Child Left Behind Act, Illinois State Standards, or the Illinois School Code.

Private schools are not required to adhere to any state mandates. Most important, private schools are not required to serve the needs of the physically, emotionally or educationally disadvantaged.

The rules are different. Vouchers will serve only to enhance those differences.

If we assume that a voucher system goes into effect, and as a result, private school enrollments swell, then private schools will choose whom to accept and whom to reject.

The current trend of private schools to deny services and programs to "special" students will continue.

Tax-supported vouchers will not provide a choice for America's neediest students.

Let's stop battering public education, and let's stop perpetuating the myth that private schools are doing a better job.

As an educator for 37 years, I never have been more proud of public education, its teachers and its students.

Robert Doran


Annual Salary in 2005 $93,692