LJWorld.com weblogs Loyal Opposition

Teacher Professionalism Part II

Advertisement

Most professionals do not have “cook book” salaries. They also are not in cooperation dampening competition as suggested in the union talking points. Their requirements are diverse and their rewards are tailored to how well they meet their requirements (given environmental factors). Sometimes group cooperation plays and sometimes it does not. If teachers are professionals than an appropriate reward system can be created that acknowledges superior performance and corrects deficient performance. I believe that our state calls the annual increases for the professional staff at KU “merit pay”.

Yes, I am certain that the rewards system employed across our professional world has warts. Our entertainment industry highlights the beautiful young lawyer called upon for services not normally expected in order to make the coveted position of “partner”. That will happen as long as there are people in the system. It should not become the generalized union talking point to discourage rewarding superior educators (or removing marginal performers).

I again want to emphasize that I am not attacking our teachers but their union. I lack access to the kind of salary and benefits information available to our administration. They are in a much better position to determine what is fair and appropriate remuneration. I do have two points for them.

The citizens of Lawrence do not have the income levels of the citizens of the school districts in Johnson County – they have an advantage. If we are to tax ourselves to overcome that advantage we need to make sure there is a consensus among the actual property tax payers (less then half our population) and not just parents with children in our system.

Secondly, money does not directly translate into quality education (despite the union talking points). The management of our educational resources is a factor as is the demands we place on the parents of our students. Our negotiations with our teachers’ “union” needs to address some of the “contract” limited management tools our administrators need to better motivate our professional work force. Outside those negotiations our school leaders need to look to methods to enhance parental involvement (perhaps even legally imposed requirements). If can demand snow shoveling then we should be able to demand parental involvement in the interest of the child.

Comments

KSManimal 4 years, 2 months ago

"I am not attacking our teachers but their union"

Who do you think the "union" is, exactly?

George Lippencott 4 years, 2 months ago

A self interested group that long ago forgot why it exists. Originally the NEA was a "professional" organization focused on improving education. Now it seems to be focused more on power then improvement. One must ask whether it truely represents the teachers who are not members or even those who are members.

Boston_Corbett 4 years, 2 months ago

It is interesting that a military retiree, who as a member of that employee group has perhaps the nation's very best medical plan, wants to attack any other group or individual, whom all have a much less generous health care situation

George Lippencott 4 years, 2 months ago

Boston_Corbett (anonymous) says…

Once again you lead with your emotions instead of your head. We are on Medicare (have said so many times in this space) just like most people our age (except certain union members - mostly in the private sector). Our supplement is from my wife's teacher retirement. Together they cost in excess of $10K and are no better than anybody else who can afford a supplement to Medicare – a middle of the road heath insurance program.

Yes there is TFL but the administrations threat to make it vastly more expensive made it too high risk to use except to pick up the stray $15 co-pay. Seems like once we dropped the wife's plan we could not go back. I love how government benefits come and go at the whim of our masters. Ah, but this blog space loves that government.

In reality I am just plain jealous. I would love to have a union that could make the government deliver on the promises made to us public servants – like free health care for example.

Boston_Corbett 4 years, 2 months ago

"TFL provides Medicare-eligible military retirees age 65 years and older with one of the most comprehensive health insurance packages in the United States." -National Defense Research Institute

George Lippencott 4 years, 2 months ago

Vertigo

Really. I have a copy of the OMB paper proposing to increase the deducaible by a factor of four and charge an annual fee of close to $2K per person. Essentially making it a normal supplement. So much for the promised free health care offered by the recruiters. The DOD, implementing the OMB paper, has over the last three years restructured TFL to a supplement. Only the Congress has precluded that. This year DOD did not do that although it proposed increases in deductibles and cost shares. Unfortunately, DOD has indicated that in response to Mr. Obama’s $100B proposed reduction in the DOD budget the TFL program will again be converted to a supplement.

Corbet.

Do you believe everything you read? TFL is not as comprehensive a program as my wife's teacher based supplement. It is no mistake that we have chosen to pay $7K a year to maintain the wife's coverage in the face of the current program that today costs about $400 each. Se details above.

Nice of you to demand that we risk an uncontrollable and unknowable future when we have a responsible program not unlike those available to many retired teachers. By the by, what has all this got to do with teacher professionalism. Is the only way you can respond to my suggestion is to question what we have. As I wrote, many teachers have the same program we do.

llama726 4 years, 2 months ago

"If teachers are professionals than an appropriate reward system can be created that acknowledges superior performance and corrects deficient performance."

It. Does. It's called administrators paying attention. Deficient performance is going to happen when you pay insufficiently to draw talent to the profession. Get better administrators and get people in the classroom. You are mentioning competition. How, praytell, is competition good for kids? How is it good for your social studies teacher to undercut your math teacher?

"I again want to emphasize that I am not attacking our teachers but their union. I lack access to the kind of salary and benefits information available to our administration."

http://blogs.kansas.com/weblog/2011/04/kansas-teachers-among-lowest-paid/

$732 a month, or just over $800 if you factor in master's degrees. Quite simply, there is no reason whatsoever to enter teaching if salary is a consideration.

"The citizens of Lawrence do not have the income levels of the citizens of the school districts in Johnson County – they have an advantage. If we are to tax ourselves to overcome that advantage we need to make sure there is a consensus among the actual property tax payers (less then half our population) and not just parents with children in our system."

There's a limit to how much the county/city can tax itself to catch up, anyway - state funding formula. Check it out sometime. Someone has to pay teachers, or else we're going to keep having underpaid teachers. If that's what you want, then great - let's keep saying money has nothing to do with it. Hey, I want a brain surgeon but I only want to pay $5 for their time. Good luck.

"Secondly, money does not directly translate into quality...the demands we place on the parents of our students."

1) Yes. It does. You cannot talk about competition and markets in one breath and ignore it in another. Money attracts superior talent. How would a market solution help, if money doesn't translate into a quality education? It wouldn't. You just want the "fire teachers" part without the "pay increase" part. Again - why, why, WHY would (especially a science major as myself) anyone consider teaching? The day I get my certification and degree, I am going to make more than a teacher with 10 years of experience.

Liberty275 4 years, 2 months ago

Your link said:

Based on average wages from 2006 to 2010, adjusted for inflation using 2010 dollars, Kansas teachers with bachelor’s degrees were paid $732 per week on average.

Month... week, meh. Same thing.

llama726 4 years, 2 months ago

2) What demands are placed on the parents? Zero. Z-e-r-o. Parents are asked to get the kid to and from school. At least usually. Sometimes, anyway.

"Our negotiations with our teachers’ “union” needs to address some of the “contract” limited management tools our administrators need to better motivate our professional work force."

Or, alternatively, we need to evaluate three truths about education: 1) The accountability movement has led to so much standardized testing which have undercut the teacher and taken the human element out of the classroom. 2) Teachers are still underpaid as hell, for the most part. 3) Parents generally do nothing to help (and sometimes undercut the teachers).

"Outside those negotiations our school leaders need to look to methods to enhance parental involvement (perhaps even legally imposed requirements). If can demand snow shoveling then we should be able to demand parental involvement in the interest of the child."

Good luck with that one (mom and dad work 45 hours a week - if both are even there). Sounds like evil big government imposing their will on us poor huddled masses again.

George Lippencott 4 years, 2 months ago

So Llama, the only solution is to give teachers a big raise by taxing the middle class even more. We should hold no one accountable.

The parents are off the hook because they work long hours and have no responsibility for the kids they brought into the world. The teachers are off the hook because the parents don't help and the administration is broken – and we don’t pay them enough. The administration is not responsible because they are limited by union contracts and funding in addressing educational shortfalls. The political class is not accountable because the taxpayers, already committing 40% of their income to government activity, are unwilling to pay more.

So we all just sit back and accept a substandard system (by world standards) and point fingers at everybody else. That is not a solution. I like my solution better unless someone is willing to go beyond finger pointing and money grubbing and address this multisided challenge. Giving you more money in isolation does not IMHO fix the problems.

llama726 4 years, 2 months ago

"So Llama, the only solution is to give teachers a big raise by taxing the middle class even more. We should hold no one accountable."

A) Tax the rich, end of story... they've profited the most and its time for the party to be over.

B) Nope, I didn't say hold no one accountable, but hey, let's start holding parents accountable? Nope, can't do that. Parents are too busy doing nothing for their kids except barely feeding them and providing them with a feeble worldview that distrusts science and embraces nonsense as a replacement for logical reason.

Teachers are an obvious target. I learned in sixth grade (don't know about the rest of you, but I learned something in elementary school) that the obvious answer is never the only answer.

"The parents are off the hook because they work long hours and have no responsibility for the kids they brought into the world."

We don't do anything to help the parents. Most social programs are the first targets of cuts, because the middle class is taxed such an exorbitant amount. I can tell you, as a card carrying middle classer, I can barely afford the random extra pizzas I want every week. Except I can. I put money away every check and I have as good of a life as anyone could ask for...

The real answer is to tax the wealthiest people in our society who avoid tax cuts so frequently. No one has the stones to say that. I do. They've had the most cuts. We can't afford it anymore. Sorry, idealist philosophy doesn't sway me.

"The teachers are off the hook because the parents don't help and the administration is broken – and we don’t pay them enough."

We pay the administration enough, we just don't pay the teachers enough. Anyone who says we do is a joke - no offense.

"The administration is not responsible because they are limited by union contracts and funding in addressing educational shortfalls."

A) No. No. No. No. No. No. No. The administration in Kansas (and Missouri, and most states) has a lot more power than you're ceding here. Stop it and go talk to a real education professional (yes, professional - as you're mentioning).

B) Stop. Stop it. Unions are not the enemy. You admitted that you are jealous. Ask for the same benefits in other fields - DON'T take them from other people... PS - A teacher's benefits? Equivalent to mine! I work in a damned call center!

"The political class is not accountable because the taxpayers, already committing 40% of their income to government activity, are unwilling to pay more."

40% of whose income?

A) Corporate taxes are not paid. B) Most people don't pay 40% of their income. C) Cite Sources!

George Lippencott 4 years, 2 months ago

Well I have posted frequently as to taxing the rich is a matter of equity. I have also posted that unless we take it all we will not be able to sustain what we already are spending let alone expand spending.

AS far as I can tell, the Democratic element of our state legislature did not even introduce a bill to tax the rich, as they know it will never fly.

At the federal level last summer the Democratic controlled Congress was unable to pass a tax increase along the lines of what Mr. Obama proposed. It seems that a significant number of Democratic legislators would not vote for it in the face of the then upcoming election.

So, while I agree with you, I think a snowball in hell has a better chance than a tax proposal directed at the rich (too many well-healed donors)

George Lippencott 4 years, 2 months ago

40% of whose income?

A) Corporate taxes are not paid. B) Most people don't pay 40% of their income. C) Cite Sources!

The source is Turbo-tax. You input an income of about $120K and reasonable other data. Your then add up the federal tax, the state tax. the property tax, the sales tax, the personal property tax. Then you divide by the adjusted income on the 1040. The result will be about 40%.

Our system is quite progressive through an income of about $350K. Above that, it is flat.

It never ceases to amaze me how insular we all are. The world is only as we experience it. Remember half the taxpayers pay little or no federal tax at the end of the day. While low-income earners do pay Kansas tax, it is a relatively small percentage compared to the federal levy.

Now we probably disagree but I know I have a right to my home and the standard of living that my wife and I earned as professionals. Her retirement is as a teacher while mine is as an airman. They are both government. Hers is greater than mine.

George Lippencott 4 years, 2 months ago

Of course, I would like a union to pursue my interests. As a military officer I believe that would be impractical - I would have way too much power. I extend that fear to all government services - they are mostly essential and therefore cannot be withheld - the union has no real power or way too much.

I support much larger unionization of the private sector. My suspicion is that the unions themselves have precluded it. The dues are too high, they ignore the legitimate political interests of their members and they way over reward the union leadership. Workers need advocacy but advocacy that supports them not exploits them. The spectacle in Wisconsin is systematic. The unions have become open supporters of Democratic elected officials. As a result, when the Republicans win retribution ensues (as one might expect). It would be far better if unions were again apolitical and sought common ground to systematically and consistently advance the interests of their members.

llama726 4 years, 2 months ago

"So we all just sit back and accept a substandard system (by world standards) and point fingers at everybody else"

No, you point fingers at teachers. That's an easy answer, and one that everyone can come up with. Your food at a restaurant isn't good? Must be the waiter's fault! Can't be the supplier or the cook, has to be the waiter! That's not everyone else, that's just teachers, who already are vastly underpaid compared to literally any other profession I can think of coming out of college. Science and math? Hello? A science major stands to make $45k+ out of college. That's as much or more than a teacher makes in a year, easily.

"That is not a solution. I like my solution better"

Yep. Fire the teachers! Surely for $732 a week we could hire some high school educated call center employees to teach our kids the basics of nothing. Jack crap. Absolutely nothing. Some more standardized tests, maybe. That would make teachers pay! Those lazy teachers with their communist socialist terrorist evil unions and their benefits that are marginally better (barely) than the private sector (Even though we've established they get paid the same as people with high school degrees and have to take four + years of college education at an average cost of $13,500 per year... That's cool. Let's ignore that. It's inconvenient to your argument against the fact that they have a union which by all measures of pay is failing them vastly). Go with your "let's hold teachers responsible" argument, because it's easy.

"unless someone is willing to go beyond finger pointing and money grubbing and address this multisided challenge. Giving you more money in isolation does not IMHO fix the problems."

Really? Let's draw a caricature of each others' views. I think teachers should have no accountability and should have millions of dollars, right?

How about - market value (more than $732 a week - real factual data supports that number - we need to be hitting close to digits per month, imo) for a valuable service, and extract the ridiculous microscope we put teachers under - maybe let the people passionate about the job decide (within reason) how to handle their own profession, rather than constraining it to the whims of the masses - Nevermind. I sense I'm wasting my time. Then we can talk about the teachers making concessions. Please. Teachers give, and get paid crap, and then we tell them it's their job to compromise. Their job to compromise! What a joke. How is it more fair to ask teachers to work even harder, when we don't ask parents to do anything, when we don't ask taxpayers to do much but complain (KS Ed finance policy has been refined once since 1992, and that was almost 20 years ago).

George Lippencott 4 years, 2 months ago

Too hard.

I am not holding teachers singularly responsible for the larger problem. I would put parents in jail for not supporting their kids. I might remind everyone that we now have a Child Protective Services that intervenes when parents abuse their kids. What is more abusive than failing to help ones child get an education.

I have never advocated for cutting teacher salaries. I am not convinced that paying more solves the problem and I strongly support using negotiations for more money as an opportunity to make changes to our agreements to help in personnel management.

I am fed up with adding all sorts of social service responsibility to teachers. They have no business addressing a whole host of issues that have been dumped into the classroom by our political classes without any real support or for that matter training to address them. It has become common practice to wrap all sorts of social programs in to the educational environment in order to argue more successfully for funds. That tactic may work but it leaves the teacher way overextended.

It was never my intention to start a debate on our educational establishment. The topic is vast. I argued that I believe that teachers might find greater support for increases in income if they looked more like real professionals and did not stoop to acting as wage slaves.

llama726 4 years, 2 months ago

We have some common ground, then, in that we both feel parents need to bear a larger part of responsibility for education. The accountability movement, in general, refuses to acknowledge problems outside of the teaching profession.

"I would put parents in jail..."

As the stepson of a woman who worked in child protective services (DFS) in Missouri, I can honestly tell you that there may be one of the only public service professions less respected than teachers. Our court system and cash strapped government simply cannot jail parents.

"I am not convinced that paying more solves the problem..."

I'm sorry you are unconvinced. I feel it is common sense that, at least among middle class workers, to get someone to do a job well, pay is a powerful incentive, and if you want the "best and brightest," you will pay for it. Why are there more business majors than education majors every year? Business pays more. Yet, some of these business majors are likely VERY good at reaching out to kids and teaching valuable lessons, but they are motivated by society's general disrespect for the education profession combined with the fact that teaching is financially unrewarding to choose something else.

"I am fed up with adding all sorts of social service responsibility to teachers..."

I agree, but at the same time, the teacher is the only person who is unrelated to a child to regularly interact with them, anymore. They do need to be a first line of defense, I believe.

"It has become common practice to wrap all sorts of social programs in to the educational environment in order to argue more successfully for funds..."

Not familiar with this tactic, but I'd like to hear more, if you have time.

"It was never my intention to start a debate on our educational establishment... looked more like real professionals..."

How could they look more like real professionals? What does a real professional look like? Do these people look like real professionals? http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/images/photo/2009/04/12/20090412GOOGLE/27042113.JPG

These are Google employees. Google is arguably one of the most successful firms of our generation. Wearing a suit makes absolutely no difference.

Teachers don't work in a corporate office. Their environment demands different things of them. Teachers could look more like the professionals that they should be if unqualified masses didn't set the standards for their evaluation via standardized tests. You cannot start an argument about teacher pay without analyzing the educational environment. To do so would be like arguing over the pay for a team of engineers without evaluating if they are constructing a birdhouse or a skyscraper, without evaluating what tools and materials we are giving them versus what we're asking them to provide, etc. We can say things, but unless we look at the whole picture, we will only draw an incomplete solution (see: standardized testing).

George Lippencott 4 years, 2 months ago

Reference above is to paying taechers not administrators.

llama726 4 years, 2 months ago

Last question - do you really, really, sincerely think that teachers are less accountable than anyone? Functionally, they're the only ones discussed in ed reform conversations. At all. Ever. They're the ONLY people society holds accountable. Seriously? Hold them super-accountable, I guess? Teachers have been the target for decades. Time to let the emotional masses give up and allow the rational reasonable thinkers of society come up with plausible solutions to the world's problems.

Sorry, afk. American Idol, Charlie Sheen, pop culture, etc. I'll be back when I (among others of my generation) give a crap again. Except we won't, because we get crushed out of politics by this idea that we have to hold someone accountable, that someone has to be in trouble and at fault constantly, like a window got broken twenty five years ago and we have to ground the kid that did it now that he's a doctor. Seriously... It's time to find solutions and stop being babies. It's time to be practical, and not emotional. Bring it back to rational and logical debate and maybe the younger people in this country will give a crap.

George Lippencott 4 years, 2 months ago

I will take a time out here before I try to respond to the rest of your heart felt note.. What are you doing up at 2:30AM?

llama726 4 years, 2 months ago

Because I'm taking full time classes and don't qualify for any aid or scholarships, I have to work full time as well, and that means late nights and early mornings, frequently.

George Lippencott 4 years, 2 months ago

Well, you also work so do you sleep? What is your major?

llama726 4 years, 2 months ago

Lab Science (Bio+Chem). Sleeping is for the weak.

George Lippencott 4 years, 2 months ago

Well, I do not remember my wife being a target of anybody. Periodically some nut gets loose and blames teachers. Most rational people know the problem is larger.

I am perplexed as to where so many of you are coming from when arguing teachers are not respected and are being held super accountable.

I might argue that while teachers are being held accountable there is not a clear tie to their actions as causing whatever they are being held accountable for (NCLB). That does not change my desire to be able to replace poor performers (as determined rationally) or to reward super performers or those with special skills.

I am afraid the NCLB program has taken on a role beyond what it actually implements or causes. Could some of that be related to the unions opposition to the program?

George Lippencott 4 years, 2 months ago

OK, I agree to the last paragraph but I really do not think the attitude is as wide spread as you suggest. Given our 24/7/365 news cycle and it's need for controversy it is not surprising to me that every crackpot in the universe is given time to blame somebody and advocate for something that benefits him/her. My perception is that most of us see through that. Of course I still get just as angry when some element of the younger generations on FOX/CNN/MSNBC/etyc. blames me for climate change or for that matter bad breath.

kugrad 4 years, 2 months ago

The low salaries in Lawrence compared to more or equally affluent districts are not a result of the relative affluence of the differing communities. School funding does not work that way. It is a result of other factors, not the amount of the local tax base.

There was a time when this was true - communities with a better tax base could provide a better education, which is why inner city schools in many major cities are crumbling. Read "Savage inequalities" for more details

George, when you write, "The citizens of Lawrence do not have the income levels of the citizens of the school districts in Johnson County – they have an advantage. If we are to tax ourselves to overcome that advantage we need to make sure there is a consensus among the actual property tax payers (less then half our population) and not just parents with children in our system." I take the first part to mean that the difference in income levels is why our teachers are not paid better in comparison to wealthy districts. This simply is not true. However, I'm not sure if this is actually what you are saying and I don't want to put words in your mouth, so please explain what you meant if I'm reading this wrong.

I am going to say that I agree that there are things wrong with the current pay system, things George hasn't even mentioned, and I agree that the Union, of which I'm a member, would probably oppose changes to some of the things I think are wrong (such as every certified employee being on the same pay schedule despite very different job demands [some jobs are way harder than other and require specialized skills that require extra education]). However, I am not convinced George understands exactly how "the Union" is organized and why it responds the way it does.

I also agree that the union used to be more of an advocacy group than it appears to be today, although part of that is because no one in the media ever talks about the positive advocasy the Union engages in so no one knows the good things they do. All they hear about is the due process rights battles and negotiations.

George Lippencott 4 years, 2 months ago

KU Grad.

LOB. We are at the max. The only way our local school board can add to the pot is to cut something/someone else. My comment is driven by the rumor I have heard that the Republican legislature may allow the LOB to grow (while reducing the state contribution). There are ways to do that

I am well aware of the many lawsuits in this country forcing some level of equality in school funding so that rich districts cannot totally outspend poor ones.

Some Johnson County school districts do pay BETTER than we do. I am not sure why as they too are limited by LOB constraints. I suspect that the pay difference comes from a different approach to staffing classrooms and less difficulty in dealing with demographics (inefficient schools). We can make similar choices.

I believe that I have been broad minded enough in the totality of my comments to suggest that I do not lay the burden exclusively (or even significantly) on the teachers. I have even suggested ideas to address some of the other issues however unrealistic you believe my offering. . I have not addressed administration simply because that has been well aired in this space last year.

I am tired and this is Easter so I will reread and respond to what I missed later.

pusscanthropus 4 years, 2 months ago

George, I suggest you take a refresher writing course. You have used "than" instead of "then" several times.

George Lippencott 4 years, 2 months ago

Yes, JAFS caught me on that too. I guess one of my teachers failed to educate me. Or maybe it is my problem in that I know I have it and do nothing about it. I lean to the latter. Kind of like the reverse argument by the right about personal responsibility - like parents maybe??

pusscanthropus 4 years, 2 months ago

George, I suggest you take a refresher writing course. You have used "than" instead of "then" several times. (from an educator)

George Lippencott 4 years, 2 months ago

You have received a notice from www2.ljworld.com: Jesse Crittenden left a comment on Teacher Professionalism Part II.

Tricare Fee Hikes no Cure Stars and Stripes | By Tom Philpott | April 19, 2006

The Joint Chiefs of Staff support a sharp rise in Tricare fees for under-65 retirees and their families, they say, because retiree health costs are soaking up dollars needed to buy weapons and sustain force readiness.


Now tell me George... who was president in 2006? *** The JCS is not part of the administration and the reference is to TRICARE not TFL.

Then there's this: "a CBO report, dated December 2008, that indeed discusses possible ways of reducing the costs of TRICARE For Life—among many other budget issues.

***The CBO is not the administration it is Congress. It has recommended cuts in Military spending relatively consistently but has no ability to act.

As retired military, I naturally would oppose such cuts ,when and if considered by the Obama administration or by Congress.

And, naturally, I applaud efforts by individuals and organizations to rally opposition against any such potential cuts.

However, it is a different matter to make smears and innuendoes a part of such efforts—as has so blatantly been done here.

To set the record straight:

The date of the CBO Budget Options Report referred to in the allegations is December 2008. If my memory serves me right, Mr. Bush was still President, and Obama was still a Senator. " http://themoderatevoice.com/25915/another-innuendo-over-a-cbo-report/

Hmm GWB was president then too... did you drop your coverage back in 2006? 2008? No? Why not? It seems there was pressure to increase TFL back then... but yet when a new administration proposes that SAME EXACT THING all of a sudden you get scared. Funny how that works. Hypocrite.

George Lippencott 4 years, 2 months ago

** I see you are taking umbrage with my comment on this administration. Every administration in my life time has had somebody trying to cut TRICARE. TFL is a more recent program and because a powerful member of the Senate led the charge to create it there was no threat until he retired – if I recall it was around the time the administration changed.

As a retired military member, you sure do not know jack about how your government runs.

OMB – Office of management and budget – a Part of the administration. It sets budget policy for the executive branch CBO- Congressional Budget Office – an arm of Congress – it has no direct budget authority DOD the department of Defense a cabinet element of the executive branch. It has budget preparation authority. It proposes changes in law at times by simply not funding something or funding it differently. It must rely on Congress to accept the proposal that is considered part of the Presidents budget.

Under Mr. Bush there were proposals (from DOD) to charge more for Tricare and TFL. The changes proposed were small- representing essentially incremental increases in annual fees and co-pays. None were implemented thanks primarily to members of the Congress (both parties)

Under Mr. Obama, there have been proposals from DOD (president’s budget) to essentially increase the charges for TFL participation by thousands of dollars per year for each recipient. This has not been pejorative to retirees but an effort to reduce DOD expenditures by focusing them on the primary mission. No changes were implemented thanks primarily to members of the Congress (both partiers). I forget the cost but it is like 15% of the budget to pay for health care. In the 2011 budget these efforts were dropped.

There have been vocal elements of this administration that have become very agitated at how TRICARE was being used. The high concentration of retired military officers (eligible for TRICARE or TFL) in the DC area were using those programs (for which they had earned eligibility) in lieu of health care offered by their employers – receiving higher pay instead. This practice has incentivized the effort to increase the costs of both programs substantially.

I have no idea what Mr. Obamka’s position might be. I seriously doubt he has been aware of it. Things happen in all administrations that are not part of the president’s vision. In fact, I have personally played in such games in a successful effort (many years and administrations ago) to block a stealth effort to significantly increase TRICARE costs. (playing the JCS against a political appointee) It turned out he was acting without administration cover.

To summarize there was no real threat to TFL until Mr. Obama took office. However, there was a threat of undefined magnitude under the previous administration. It was prudent to not rely on TFL regardless of administrations although this one (until this year) appeared to be a much greater threat.

George Lippencott 4 years, 2 months ago

You are argumentative and nasty. What part of I don’t thing Mr. Obama knew did you not understand? You seem to be way over concerned with ideology. Just exactly what do you know about Military Medicine? What parts of my account to you dispute other than my personal choice to not play crap shoot with my medical care while the current administration was threatening it?? Do you deny the action by the DOD????

George Lippencott 4 years, 2 months ago

The interaction of TFL with Medicare is very different from the interaction of Blue Cross with Medicare. Blue Cross leaves mostly a co-pay and fills in the 20% uncovered element of Medicare (it also provides drug coverage). TFL considers additional factors that can at times leave the patient with additional costs (sometimes unexpected). Blue Cross is generally accepted by service providers. Tricaere and TFL a re not

Cool you jets. I was not picking on Mr. Obama. I was responding to your praise (I think it was you) for TFL – I don’t think it is as good as you apparently do and I remain cautious because it has been apparent to me for quite a while that we needed to cut back. Given all the recommendations to cut TRICARE and TFL it would have been stupid to cut the tie to my wife’s program.

Of course, this has no bearing on Teacher Professionalism. I defy you to find a reference where I was trying to cut teacher pay or benefits. I ducked that with a reference to a lack of available detail on salaries and benefits for teachers in general.

You must be enlisted or an 05 to have reduced yourself to name calling!!!

llama726 4 years, 2 months ago

"Of course, this has no bearing on Teacher Professionalism. I defy you to find a reference where I was trying to cut teacher pay or benefits."

You (I think) have mentioned a desire for unequal pay among teachers - essentially reward the higher performers, punish those who don't - and to do that, you would need to produce money, something you have been unwilling to do via taxes. Thus, the only pool of money to finance that is, well - you guessed it - other teachers' pay.

George Lippencott 4 years, 2 months ago

Actually, I suggested using annual step increases to implement that. Some teachers would receive pay increases more slowly others more quickly. Some (marginal performers) might not see any at all. Does not cut pay.

If you read me carefully, (I am beginning to question reading comprehension on here) you would note that I have not ruled out salary and benefits increases. I have noted that to do so will affect people who make less than teachers do. Somebody argued to tax the rich. I observed that we don't seem to want to do that although I agree with the idea.

Not increasing pay and benefits is not cutting them. Do you have the notion that income can only go up??

llama726 4 years, 2 months ago

"you would note that I have not ruled out salary and benefits increases."

How will you pay for it? You mentioned that we'd have to increase taxes on the middle class when I suggested pay increases for teachers above: "So Llama, the only solution is to give teachers a big raise by taxing the middle class even more. We should hold no one accountable. "

Yet, at no point did I suggest a BIG raise all. I simply think that we have to increase revenue and find a way to allocate more funding to paying for better educators in order to draw more people into the field. How will you pay for salary and benefits increasing with annual step increases? If some people don't get their pay cut (X), some get marginal raises (X+1), and some get large raises (X+2), but we're only starting with 3X, where is the extra coming from?

George Lippencott 4 years, 2 months ago

Well Llama let us examine economics according to George.

Each year the district has a pot of money it allocates to mandated annual step increases. Those are raises in pay supposedly based on seniority leading to better performance. Instead of accepting that notion we determine who the better teachers are and who the teachers that need improvement are. We then partition the pot to allow for small or no increases for those needing improvement. We allocate an amount in excess of the planned step increase for those teachers deemed “better”. Not a whole lot but some. The remainder of the planned step increases less the extra allocation to the better teachers is distributed to all those eligible.

Everyone gets a raise (except really poor performers) only some get more than others. Over time that can lead to some very well paid teachers and a few teachers that more or less march in place. (I would deal with the latter through the personnel management changes to which I have alluded).

In time I would expand the program to “cost of living” increases (when granted). In my world there is no such thing as a guaranteed “cost of living” raise mathematically related to some measure of inflation.

Philosophically I do not believe in percipiticipetious changes to things that affect people. A little at a time over a long time and you can get to a system I believe would be better.

Now more economics according to George. To entice better teachers into the profession I would allow entry level salaries to vary depending on the quality (as best we can sort) of those entering. An average candidate would get X and a potentially better performer would get X + a delta. I don’t need to pay every teacher in the profession more to attract better entry level candidates. Now, if we misjudge the potential the salary adjustment scheme above would allow us to address that over time.

In my scheme the public at large begins to recognize teachers are really professionals rewarded for their performance and not their longevity. In my world the public responds by an increased willingness to devote more resources to our K-12 system.

Note that this is a part of a larger scheme where many of the social functions that have been assigned to schools and suck at the school “tit” are forced to compete for resources on their own and are not lumped in with actually costs associated with the basic education of the vast majority. That also frees up resources for education.

Remember, I also want to “force” if necessary parents to be more involved in their kids education. If you chose to have them then you are responsible to raise them. I don’t want to hear about low incomes or corporations. The cost of raising a kid is well known in both money and time. It is a choice.

llama726 4 years, 2 months ago

"Each year the district has a pot of money it allocates to mandated annual step increases..."

Then why do teachers have to ask for raises, if they're mandated and you have to give them? Why are teachers still only averaging $732 a week? Is that a fair wage? How can you be sure that there are a significant enough number of "bad" or "needing improvement" teachers to deprive of raises in order to give raises to your better performers? How do you quantify this? Is it based upon test scores? How do you account for third variables as we've discussed (parents, environmental factors, etc)? How do you account for the fact that no two teachers start with the same beginning product?

"Everyone gets a raise (except really poor performers) only some get more than others."

How are you going to quantify performance for purposes of the raise?

"Over time that can lead to some very well paid teachers and a few teachers that more or less march in place. (I would deal with the latter through the personnel management changes to which I have alluded)."

So you'd deal with that through having effective administrators, which doesn't require much (if any) changes right now...

"Now more economics according to George. To entice better teachers into the profession I would allow entry level salaries to vary depending on the quality..."

How do you keep current teachers from quitting when you are paying new teachers more in different districts? How do you solve the problem that wealthier states and municipalities have a distinct advantage in this system?

"In my scheme the public at large begins to recognize teachers are really professionals..."

How do you keep teachers from undercutting each other in order to reduce the pool of "raise candidates?" You know that most of the public knows more about the history of American Idol than the history of the American Presidency, right?

"Note that this is a part of a larger scheme where many of the social functions that have been assigned to schools..."

School meals have a high correlation with student attention in the classroom. Child social services give a child an outreach in the classroom to deal with family problems. Most of these services are practical and even necessary.

"Remember, I also want to “force” if necessary parents to be more involved..."

I am truly interested in hearing how you'd implement this, since you said you aren't interested in precipitous changes. You also said that the cost of raising a kid is known, but is it? What if you get sick? What if the kid gets sick? We don't have universal health coverage and our insurance companies don't always pay for needed procedures. This is a massive systemic problem. We don't need to amputate the arm, but we do need to find out why it isn't working correctly.

George Lippencott 4 years, 2 months ago

Percipiticipetious = precipitous. That one snuck through

George Lippencott 4 years, 2 months ago

LLAMA

I will get to a response but I have errands.

George Lippencott 4 years, 2 months ago

LLAMA

Let me address a few of your comments.

When I went to school, there were no social services in the school except a school nurse who existed to protect the school from me. Since that time the level of social services has expanded significantly. Now, what do I mean? Well we now have feeding programs, a host of special programs for specific classes of students (head start for one) and we have special education.

Dealing with the latter let me provide my ideological bias. We started with 94-142 - a great idea to invest a little in people with learning disabilities where the return on investment was high. We have expanded the program to where we address emotional and medical issues within an educational setting. That comes with costs – high costs.

Set aside the philosophically issue of the appropriate level of social responsibility and just address the educational aspect. I believe that it is well recognized that there is an interconnect between educational issues and the medical and mental health issues apparent in these children. Are we to expand the teacher’s role to emotional and mental health issues and all that entails? If we do are they still teachers or have we invented something new? Should the mental health and educational issues be left to others in some systemic response to the challenge? How much resource is enough? Should the community pay for enrichment for a seriously limited child at a significant cost? If so where is that money coming from?

Let us look at resources. When the cost per pupil escalates so that we can provide educational opportunities to special needs kids do we in fact have the support of the public? Many of these programs are federally mandated without the federal money. We have driven up the cost of education at the local level without serious dialogue. Since the average taxpayer is not really party to all these decisions all they see is an increase in funding for education that is excessive to inflation. They really are unaware that a lot of that money is going to services only partially related to education and focused on a small segment of the school population.

In my experience taxes for mental health, public health and the like tend to draw less enthusiastic support than taxes for education. By essentially y moving costs for services that fall into those categories into the educational budget, did we help or hinder the educators. In summary are raises for teachers lost in the the budget for special needs children? Just because something is helpful and socially responsible does not mean that the average taxpayer is willing to substantially reduce his/her standard of living to secure it – particularly when they see little return on their investment? If they were I would suspect we would see greater resources.

George Lippencott 4 years, 2 months ago

LLAMA

As far as step increases – yes - the great middle would see smaller raises than now programmed. The few at the low end might see little as encouragement to consider improvement or transition. The few at the top would be rewarded for their efforts.

As far as accessions, those who came ahead of the new accessions would still be paid more - maybe not as much more as they would like. We would, however, compete more effectively for better quality recruits. Why pay all recruits more when only a portion would be of higher quality? Those that are ahead and of higher quality would see higher annual increases. Those of modest capability might in time be financially rewarded with less than a newer high quality accession. That is the way it is in most professions in this country.

I have enjoyed the dialogue but it is time for me to move on. I started with the simple notion that the taxpayers are more receptive to taxing themselves if they believe they are getting a quality product. The more professional they perceive the particular performer the more in general they are willing to pay. Doing things that might discredit the profession in the eyes of the taxpayers might not be a good idea – remember only about 13% are in unions and few if any professionals are represented by unions. I unfortunately used the vernacular “look” to describe something really unrelated to physical characteristics.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.