Jewish World Review April 1, 2004 / 11 Nissan, 5764
Average pay gets average teachers; failing teachers; fake Master's
http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Smart women now have lots of career opportunities, which has lowered the quality of the teaching force. That's the conventional wisdom, but is it true?
Writing in the New York Times, Virginia Postrel analyzes a study of teachers' aptitude scores (used as a measure of teacher quality). From 1964 to 2000, there was little change in teachers' scores. But the best female students are much less likely to choose teaching careers today. Postrel writes:
"Whereas close to 20 percent of females in the top decile in 1964 chose teaching as a profession," making it their top choice, the economists write, "only 3.7 percent of top decile females were teaching in 1992," making teachers about as common as lawyers in this group.
So the chances of getting a really smart teacher have gone down substantially. In 1964, more than one out of five young female teachers came from the top 10 percent of their high school classes. By 2000, that number had dropped to just over one in 10.
The average has stayed about the same because schools aren't hiring as many teachers whose scores ranked at the very bottom of their high school classes. Teachers aren't exactly getting worse. They're getting more consistently mediocre.
Another study looks at the effect of unionization on compressing the range of teacher pay: All teachers earn about the same, regardless of their abilities.
"Women who went to a top 5 percent college earned about a 50 percent pay premium in the 1960's and earn about the same as other teachers today," Mr. Leigh said. "By comparison, somebody who went to a bottom 25 percent college earned about 28 percent below the average teacher in the 1960's, and they have the earnings of about the average teacher today."
In hiring teachers, we get what we pay for: average quality at average wages.
There’s another reason smart women don’t become teachers. It can be dangerous.
Physical assaults on teachers are up 17 percent this year in Chicago, reports the Chicago Trib.
Janet Pena-Davis is barely five feet tall, but the veteran English teacher doesn't scare easily.
One day, though, a girl arrived 15 minutes late to class -- and full of attitude. When the girl took out a snack and began to talk loudly to a friend, Pena-Davis asked the student to leave the class and try again the next day.
The girl hurled a full soda can at her head.
Pena-Davis was able to duck the can. But as the teacher went to close the classroom door, the girl dragged her into the hall and began to beat her --punching and scratching, pulling off her glasses and tugging viciously at her hair. The attack was enough to terrify Pena-Davis, 55, who walked out of Austin High School that day and never went back.
Teachers complain violent students get short suspensions and return to class before the victim's bruises are healed.
Pena-Davis was assaulted by a girl who'd just returned from a 10-day suspension.
The school disciplinarian told her to be careful because the girl who had beaten her up had a boyfriend who already was looking to avenge his girlfriend's arrest, Pena-Davis said. When she asked to fill out an assault report, she was told it was not necessary, she said.
When she called to follow up on the police report that was filed, the police told her to give up, she said. Nobody was going to pursue the case.
Philadelphia's middle school teachers are having trouble showing they're qualified to teach their subjects. Many are former elementary teachers who aren't subject-matter specialists. Half of the "district's 690 middle school teachers who took exams in math, English, social studies and science in September and November failed," reports the Inquirer. Nearly two-thirds of middle school math teachers failed the exam.
The district will offer test prep classes to teachers who have to retake the exams, and will try to hire people who know math to teach math.
Not everyone kills their buy-a-college-degree spam. In Georgia, six teachers will have to pay back $30,000 in pay raises they received for earning advanced degrees from an online outfit based in Liberia that sells "life experience" degrees.
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