Comparing Teacher Salaries to Similar Professions

teacher-23304_1280Teaching, like nursing used to be thought of as “women’s work”.  I remember my own father saying that it was a good way for a woman to combine a job and family responsibilities.  I also remember my first salary as a teacher, $5,200.  The world of work for women has changed dramatically since then.  Many of those early attitudes, however, linger.

I became curious about the comparative status of the teaching profession with similar occupations.  Salaries, benefits, and hours/days worked are figured in.  How do you compare teachers’ and pilots’ work time?  These are not idle issues.   They are at the heart of attacks on teacher unions and the teaching profession.  What is fair; what should change?

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Call Timeout on Testing

dmbtestPaula Dockery makes the case that it is time to learn from out mistakes.  Dockery is a syndicated columnist who served sixteen years as a Republican legislator from Lakeland.  She joined the Board of Directors of the Florida League of Women Voters in 2014.

In her step by step recital of how Florida got into the crisis over testing and accountability, it is clear that the Florida legislature and the Department of Education need to stop and reconsider.  Read Paula Dockery’s piece here.  Make your voices heard in the legislature even if Senate and House Education Chairs wish you would not.

Florida District Superintendents Lose Confidence in Accountability System

Senator Montford, CEO of FADSS

Senator Montford, CEO of FADSS

In a statement issued today, the Florida Association of District School Superintendents (FADSS) issued a strong statement opposing the testing and accountability system.  Citing the recently released validity study acknowledgment that the Florida Standards Assessment “did not meet the normal rigor and standardization expected of a high stakes program like the FSA”, FADSS issued the following recommendations:

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False Promises Bring Big Profits?

money-40603_1280The numbers are ringing alarm bells.  I discovered something about charter failure rates and the number of years they were open.  The Center for Media and Democracy’s PR Watch has compiled a state by state list of charter school failures.    Florida has the second largest number of failures (308) next to Arizona.

The cost of failure is high.  CMD reports that the federal government has spent 3.3 billion dollars on charter school development.  The funding is sent to the states to distribute.  Federal auditors estimate that $200 million has been lost due to fraud and waste in the past decade.   In 2011-12, Michigan had 25 charters that were awarded $3.7 million and never opened.  Florida’s case is more dramatic.

In Florida, charters may receive up to $350 thousand before they open.  In 2011, the Florida’s legislature created a new fund with an additional $30 million to expand charters.  The Department of Education used the money to create a partnership with a venture capital group headed by a former KIPP school executive.  There is a lot of money in starting charter schools.

What did the tally of the number of years charters were opened before they closed reveal?  First, a third of the closed charters appear to have never opened!  I knew this happened, but I did not realize how big the problem was.  An additional thirty four schools closed after one year.  Only one-third of these schools remained open for three or more years.  We do not know how much start up money these schools received.  The Florida Department of Education did not keep track.  In a recent post, we reported that in a four year period, over $67 million in federal start up costs in Florida could not be accounted for.  Strange business practice for a state that touts its strong accountability process.

A recent State Board of Education rule now allows districts to do background checks on groups who propose new charters.  It is easy to assume the independent operators are more likely to be inexperienced managers with inadequate financial resources.  They do account for many school failures.  The SBE rule, however, may not go far enough.  Two of the largest charter management firms, Academica and Imagine, had many schools that failed to open.  Given that these firms have substantial resources, one wonders why these schools closed before they opened.  Did these companies also receive large start up funds?  We do not know.  Will some agency in charge of charter accountability take notice?  Who is in charge?

To Tax or Not To Tax, That is the Question? No, How to Tax

taxes-646512_1280Governor Scott’s proposed education budget would increase spending for K-12 education by $476 million.  Sounds good, right?  It amounts to $104 per student and might help Florida keep its ranking of 42nd in per pupil funding in the nation.  All but $50 million of the increase comes from local property taxes.

How to we respond?

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What does the future hold for Nashville and the Achievement School District?

by Anne Marie Farmer, Nashville League of Women Voters

nashvilleIf you follow public education in Nashville, you’ve probably heard mention of the Achievement School District, or ASD.  But, many people are unsure what the ASD is and how it impacts Nashville. This article is a quick primer on the ASD, its performance, and its footprint in our town.

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State Board Says Governor Scott Must Block Teacher Evaluations

dmbtestAt a meeting of the Florida State Board of Education in Miami, District Superintendent Carvalho argued that school grades should not be calculated, according to the Miami Herald.  Carvalho stated that school grades were based on student gain scores as well as proficiency standards.  Since this is the first year that the FSA is administered, there can be no gain scores.

State Board members responded that by law, school grades must be reported.  They said that Governor Scott could prevent their use by executive order.  The 25,000 letters that Senator Legg and Representative O’Toole complained about may have been sent to the wrong person.