Date: Oct 2, 2012 12:37 PM
Author: kirby urner
Subject: Re: US teachers are overworked and underpaid

On Tue, Oct 2, 2012 at 8:20 AM, Paul Tanner <> wrote:
> OK, I should have added something like "k12" or "public school" in the
> title in order to make the intent more clear as to which teachers the
> cited studies are talking about in an international comparison between
> such teachers as to how many teaching hours they are forced to have
> under their contracts and how well they are paid, especially per
> teaching hour.
> That is, by such studies the US teachers in question are getting the
> shaft big-time in comparison to almost all of the other countries'
> teachers in question on this last point, especially compared to the
> Japanese teachers in question.

I'm wondering about the huge industry of SAT coaching and so on,
Kaplan and like that. Certainly Japan must have a vast industry of
such franchises, given the importance placed on various tests. The
tutor industry somewhat depends on schools being unable to do the job
by themselves. Harried over-worked teachers are letting Johnny fall
through the cracks so we get some remedial education. Do they get
paid more? I think many recent college grads wind up in these places,
as tutors.

<story type="true">

In my scenario, my daughter started in an elementary school wherein a
previous generation of parents had managed to set up a parent
controlled "co-op" within the public school system, wherein they
essentially had hire and fire powers. I'm not sure how that all
worked with the union and district, as teacher assignment is normally
not a game the parents get to play, but this group was up to that.

However, by the time my cohort got there, some of this parent activism
was dying down and the school eventually reverted to being more of an
ordinary public school, although it's termed 'The Environmental Middle
School' which to some ears probably sounds "out there", even "leftie
liberal" (what you'd expect from Portlandia I guess).

Anyway, our daughter's elementary school teacher was a walking
statistic in terms of not liking math and communicating that dislike
either overtly or in body language. My wife was convinced our
daughter was falling behind, my wife having been good at calculus pre
college and planning a math career until she encountered some bozo at
Florida State who assured her women don't make it in math departments
(probably true in his state, but that says a lot more about his state
and either about women or math).

We took are daughter to one of these coaching agencies and then
enrolled her at Winterhaven, a "geek hogwarts" in some ways. Small,
public, near a wetlands called Oaks Bottom. Part of the school's fame
for having good science, good STEM had to do with the proximity to
Oaks Bottom and the commitment to getting outdoors and really studying
the environment, learning about life forms.

We had a superintendent of schools later on who said "if Winterhaven
is so cool, then lets stop making it be for privileged kids (people
drove from all over) and move it way out to 122nd or somewhere, where
more kids are under-served". We pick some amazing school
superintendents I must say.

As if Oaks Bottom could be moved from the side of the Willamette River
to some paved over hell of all strip malls and strip clubs?

Sorry, but environment matters. If there's only pavement nearby,
you're going to have a poorer school, unless you can break up that
pavement and start gardening or something.


High schools without student-tended gardens and fresh produce are for
chumps (chimps? -- welcome to Planet of the Apes).

You can build your garden indoors or use a dome or whatever. STEM
gets a boost when the school is well rounded.