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Old 04-27-2011, 09:30 AM   #101
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Being rewarded on merit is attractive to the competent. How could anyone disagree with that? This has absolutely nothing to do with my point, which is that firing incompetent teachers will not help to attract bright individuals into teaching.
How so? Right now, you can't get rid of a bad teacher unless they almost kill someone. There are all sorts of incentive pay plans in other jobs, why not teaching?

If the "bad teachers" knew there were consequences for their "bad teaching", they may clean up their act, or retire........
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Old 04-27-2011, 09:53 AM   #102
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Originally Posted by GregLee View Post
Being rewarded on merit is attractive to the competent. How could anyone disagree with that? This has absolutely nothing to do with my point, which is that firing incompetent teachers will not help to attract bright individuals into teaching.
Assuming for the moment that you are correct that firing incompetent teachers won't help to attract bright individuals - Firing incompetent teachers will help to discourage those under performers from seeking a teaching position that they feel makes them immune from dismissal for poor performance. So even if your premise that you don't attract the brightest is true, the positions will become less attractive to the incompetent.
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Old 04-27-2011, 09:53 AM   #103
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The advantage, in my view, of a DC plan is that the money is generally yours early on. No need to wait for 20-30 years, and age 55 or more, only to be let go just before vesting. At least if the company dumps you, you get the full value...
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that's a good point. Those DB plans are usually very much back-end loaded. So for those that job-hop around a few times a DC plan just may be the more valuable plan.
Yes.
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Old 04-27-2011, 09:54 AM   #104
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I have no problem with incentive pay plans for everyone. Even teachers. Sorting out the really bad teachers - those who don't give a crap and and are clearly below their peers should not take an act of Congress. The problem is those who have to work with below average students, students who have mental, physical or language handicaps or who come from very poor households. It should be much easier to be a successful teacher if you teach in a school in Great Neck vs one in Bed-Stuy. How can you even measure a difference like that? Teachers on Long Island are paid much more than those in NYC as the primary funding for schools comes from property taxes and, in general, LI has far higher home prices and incomes. Is that indicative of a fair system?

It would be easy if everything were equal, but that's not the case. How can you compare a physics teacher at Bronx Science or Stuyvesant to one who teaches at a school in the South Bronx? On one hand you have highly motivated students where 99% go to college, on the other you have kids who don't want to be in school, many come from dysfunctional and poor families and have no culture of learning. Most will never go to college.

I suppose you could do what Jack Welch did at GE - cut the bottom 10% of your work force every year, no matter how well they do, because, after all, they are the bottom 10%.
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Old 04-27-2011, 10:15 AM   #105
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I find it interesting that so many posters complain about getting screwed by their private employers and yet no one even suggests that they might have not gotten it so bad if they had a union standing behind then. There have even been a few comments on how unions are making things worse. Really? If you work for a unionized employer, cutting your wages or pension would not be so easy. I'm not talking about government, but private employers. As an example, unionized cashiers make a LOT more than non-unionized ones and have better benefits. They also are protected against arbitrary actions by management.

Those who believe, and I do, that big companies and political parties are out to put a wedge or otherwise divide the middle class against itself and reap the benefits, might want to consider that a union is the only way to get power back to those who do the work. Something about united we stand and divided we fall? If we, the workers fight each other, we all lose.

The unionized stores that were around here all went under... so a union is not always a good thing in protecting your interests...


PS... I worked for one of these union stores back when I was young... I was surprised that one of the guys who unloaded trucks and price the items (what I did also) made $14 per hour back in 1979... I do not think they make that much today, over 30 years later....
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Old 04-27-2011, 10:24 AM   #106
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As this applies to teachers, I see no reason to believe it. If I'm, say, teaching history competently in high school, and the chemistry teacher who has classes next door to me is, in my opinion, entirely incompetent, why should this cause me to become dispirited? If I'm doing my job very well, why can't I be proud of that and why wouldn't I try to do even better, regardless of what the chemistry teacher is doing?

In my experience, the best and the brightest don't let their self image be determined by others' opinions. Those who do, in a sense, don't really have a self image.
I refer you to my previous answer. This is still not relevant to hiring more of the best and the brightest as teachers.
Because people talk. How morale boosting is it going to be if your colleagues are complete slackers and tell you it's not worth putting any effort into your teaching. Bad teachers affect the entire culture of the school.
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Old 04-27-2011, 10:25 AM   #107
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The unionized stores that were around here all went under... so a union is not always a good thing in protecting your interests...
Even as we speak, the Aerospace Workers' Union in Washington State, with the able assistance of the US Government, is helping to protect their workers just as the UAW did so well in Detroit. They really helped out the workers in Dayton, too. Those NCR and Delco workers are very happy with their union "protection," and the generations of workers that won't have these jobs won't miss them anyway. "Kill that goose, there are more eggs inside!"
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Old 04-27-2011, 10:32 AM   #108
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It's funny how many bad teachers blame the "raw material" (i.e. students) they are teaching for their poor performance. I guess none of them ever saw the movie "Staand and Deliver."

It's amazing what kids - no matter what their ethnicity or economic background, can do if properly motivated.
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Old 04-27-2011, 11:03 AM   #109
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It's funny how many bad teachers blame the "raw material" (i.e. students) they are teaching for their poor performance. I guess none of them ever saw the movie "Staand and Deliver."

It's amazing what kids - no matter what their ethnicity or economic background, can do if properly motivated.
Some students with "disadvantages" can be motivated with a great amount of effort and perseverence on the part of the teacher. The trick is to do that while adequately teaching the other 35 students in the classroom. And some can't be motivated, no matter how hard you try or how skilled you are. "Raw material" starts learning at about the age of 6 months - if the first several years are wasted, they come to school with a built in problem. How fair is it to the "smart" and better prepared students in the class to dumb down the curriculum so you can prod the slower students? How many parents are willing to admit that little Johhny is not exactly the brightest bulb in the pack?

I taught Junior High School science in Harlem (NYC) for about 5 months between the time I was commissioned and when the Army could schedule me for the Officer Basic Course (you would think that, at the height of the VN War the Army would want as many officers as soon as possible, but that was not the case - military schools had a backlog). Even though teaching was not my planned profession and I never followed that path, the need in NYC for science teachers was so great that instant availability trumped teacher education. Except for the police permanently staioned in the school, the drup paraphenalia all over the place and the lack of basic reading skill of the students, I believe I got through to a few of them. What I did was to ignore the kids on the nod in the back of the room and concentrate on the third of the class that seemed interested in learning. I had to rewrite the textbooks to a 3rd grade reading level and mimeograph it so the kids (7th and 8th graders) could understand their assignments.

There were a lot of burned out teachers in that school - you can only fight so long against the environment. References to Stand and Deliver are nice, but not realistic on a widespread basis. I left in December of that year to go on active duty - I was the only one in my OBC to actually receive a pay raise as a 2LT - teacher pay was $4,800 a year, 2LT pay with tax free allowances was about $6,500. That was a real lesson in how much teachers were valued in the late '60s.
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Old 04-27-2011, 11:05 AM   #110
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Here is another article that relates back to OP:

Braun: Expert with ties to N.J. says if pensions aren't protected, nation will suffer | NJ.com
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Old 04-27-2011, 11:17 AM   #111
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Well, of course you would, and getting rid of bad teachers is obviously a good thing. But having an efficient way of removing bad teachers, desirable though it may be, is not plausibly a recruiting tool for attracting more of the best and the brightest. That's the confusion.

There is no shortage of highly qualified teaching candidates for the few current openings in our school district. Like the example given earlier, hundreds of resumes arrive for each opening at the current salary and benefit levels. The issue is that there are so few openings because medicore encumbents refuse to give up their positions. Instead they hang on refusing to budge despite their arguments they are over worked, under paid, etc.

If people with the desired qualifications are eager to take the jobs at current salary package levels, how much above this do you want to pay to ensure salaries are a "recruiting tool?"

The real issue is that teacher unions have negotiated contracts where all teachers of a given education and seniority level are paid the same. The school board is unable to pay the math, science or language teacher more without giving the same raise to subject matter teachers already in vast over supply.
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Old 04-27-2011, 11:37 AM   #112
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There are a few DC plans that I have seen that beat a traditional pension... but they are very rare.
You really can't make that statement unless you specify the level of seniority status attained. I agree that a traditional plan is generally better for someone who works at the same company for many years. But if you wind up spending 5 - 6 - 7 years each at several companies, you'd likely be better off with DC plans.

Going forward, it's quite possible that with the exception of gov't jobs, most folks will work for several companies during a career.
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Old 04-27-2011, 12:07 PM   #113
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If people with the desired qualifications are eager to take the jobs at current salary package levels, how much above this do you want to pay to ensure salaries are a "recruiting tool?"
Perhaps nun's reference "the best and the brightest", as I interpreted it, doesn't single out the exact same group as your "people with the desired qualifications". I meant the people who now become scientists, lawyers, professors -- really the best and the brightest.

How much do you want to pay to get really good people teaching school? As much as necessary. This blame game where we look for excuses to lower teachers' salaries or fire them just can never lead to anything good.
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Old 04-27-2011, 07:13 PM   #114
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I don't think anyone dispute that cutting pension is a bad thing. I honestly don't want to see public employee who have been working for 10 years see their future retirement benefits cut. I'm even more reluctant to ask existing retirees take a cut.

The problem is where the heck do we get the money? Even if you tax every single dollar of every person making more than $1 million a year and give it to the state to pay for pensions it will still take 5 years to dig us out of the 3 trillion dollar hole. If we drop it to 100% tax for those making greater then 100K it is still 2 years and between 4 to 30 years taxing 100% of all Fortune 500 companies profits.

Of course young people should want a pension. I am sure middle age and old folks want one even more. The problem is I don't think most people are willing to take a 20%+ pay cut to fund them which is what they really cost.
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Old 04-27-2011, 08:00 PM   #115
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... it will still take 5 years to dig us out of the 3 trillion dollar hole.
I don't see the big problem. 5 years isn't all that long. I just saw a man-on-the-street interview on TV with a Norwegian who said a typical worker in Norway would pay 50% of his wage in tax. Are Americans such babies? We spent the money and made the commitments, now it's time to pay. Why all the recriminations and bitter tears? Grow up.
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Old 04-27-2011, 08:11 PM   #116
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I don't see the big problem. 5 years isn't all that long. I just saw a man-on-the-street interview on TV with a Norwegian who said a typical worker in Norway would pay 50% of his wage in tax. Are Americans such babies? We spent the money and made the commitments, now it's time to pay. Why all the recriminations and bitter tears? Grow up.
So in other words...Shut up and pay up. Our backroom double dealing is our business.

and don't give us any of your ole' opinions either. We don't care that you'll never have benefits like we got.

you pay we get - that's the way it is.
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Old 04-28-2011, 04:50 AM   #117
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I don't see the big problem. 5 years isn't all that long. I just saw a man-on-the-street interview on TV with a Norwegian who said a typical worker in Norway would pay 50% of his wage in tax. Are Americans such babies? We spent the money and made the commitments, now it's time to pay. Why all the recriminations and bitter tears? Grow up.
Considering that Congress includes a fair number of folks who make > 1 million a year, how many of them do you think would vote to give up 100% of their income to taxes. How many athletes, movie stars, and CEO would stay here if every dollar they earned went to the government?

FYI Norway top tax rate is 48.6 for singles making more than $156K, dollars but it includes local taxes. Not significantly higher than somebody making that $175K and living in state with high income tax like CA or HI.
Contrary to the Norway man on the street, Wiki has the data here for average taxes for the country.
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Old 04-28-2011, 05:10 AM   #118
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So in other words...Shut up and pay up. Our backroom double dealing is our business.
Yup... if it is owed! Let's face it... those that did the back room deals lowered taxes for certain groups and kept spending.

Pay the debt!

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and don't give us any of your ole' opinions either. We don't care that you'll never have benefits like we got.

you pay we get - that's the way it is.
Nope. They should be called on it. They should make changes. But they can't pull the rug out from under people that spent their life contributing to the system.

However, that does not mean there will not be shared pain. Spending will have to be cut and taxes will have to be raised.

This problem has not occurred yet... we are look at it in the future... maybe near future. The far left and far right are the problem... Those politicians need to get in the center or get out! Otherwise, we will wind up going down a path that is not good for any of us!
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Old 04-28-2011, 08:53 AM   #119
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They should make changes. But they can't pull the rug out from under people that spent their life contributing to the system.
And they can make significant changes without pulling the rug out from under high seniority folks.

1. New hires - subject to new pension formulas that reflect what we can afford today.

2. Current workers - get credit under the old foumula for years already served (absolutely no take-away) but future years would be credited under the new formula.

3. Current retirees - no change.

Illinois has done #1 and is discussing #2 in the state legislature. Most reports in the media indicate they will leave current retirees alone.

Despite the reduced (but still very generous) pension benefits for new hires which went into effect Jan 1st, there is no shortage of highly qualified applicants for jobs.
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Old 04-28-2011, 09:04 AM   #120
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How much do you want to pay to get really good people teaching school? As much as necessary.
Exactly. If we can recruit and retain top notch teaching staff at our public schools for $X, I see no reason to pay more.

The key union contract element that must be overcome to allow the best people to be recruited into teaching positions is the concept that all teachers with equal seniority and education must be paid the same. We simply can't afford to pay all teachers at the level required to recruit teachers with rare/high demand skill sets. This simply leads to over paying teachers with common/low demand skill sets and creating an over supply in the system.
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