Matt Damon explains non-financial motivations and the education sector

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281 Responses to “Matt Damon explains non-financial motivations and the education sector”

  1. Ryan_T_H says:

    Can’t keep the camera steady. Constantly has subjects out of frame. Dude’s a shitty cameraman.

    Perhaps he should try teaching?

    I hear the pay is great and you get summers off.

  2. Phillip Lamb says:

    Reason.tv = libertarian asshats, apparently.

  3. bruckelsprout says:

    My best friend’s parents are both teachers.  They get paid almost nothing for the amount of work they do.  Even after hours, they are constantly on the phone helping kids with their homework, or grading papers, etc.

    I feel like people who say teachers don’t work hard have no concept of the job, and have not spent very much time around teachers.

    • AnthonyC says:

      I completely agree.

      At my high school, the calculus teacher retired the year I graduated. The school district was unable to find anyone else able to teach the course, and so the teacher was persuaded to come back out of retirement. She was unwilling to let the school not be able to teach the course, because she felt it was important. That’s dedication. How many office workers do you know who would do that?

    • duc chau says:

      People who say teachers don’t work hard, mainly care about themselves and the ideology that they personally identify with. Selfish people will always have problems understanding selflessness.

      • Scurra says:

        Nail on the head there.  Pretty much every problem in the world can be simplified to this proposition.  The depressing bit is that unfortunately in general you have to be a selfish person in order to be able to run a country or a large corporation and still be able to sleep at night.  

      • David Yoon says:

        You the man, Duc. (waving to you over from the Interfaces Team)

    • mutsbug says:

      I agree with this so hard.  I’m working in some elementary schools this summer doing IT work and I can’t believe the amount of teachers that are in there preparing their classes for the upcoming year and even starting to plan out lessons 2 months before the kids come back.

    • Matthew Smith says:

      My parents are both teachers. They work very hard too for relatively low pay. They also work with some really crappy teachers who do the bare minimum amount of work; a level that would lead to termination in jobs where they were not protected by a union. I like unions, I am in a union, and I don’t think unions should protect bad employees, especially if the work they are (or not) doing is damaging children. 

  4. Pwnd. I love you Matt Damon.

  5. paul beard says:

    I’d like to see more of this: how many movie stars toss around phrases like “intrinsically paternalistic” whether their mom is standing next to them or not? 

    Anyone who does a job like teaching, public safety (police, firefighting, EMT) is not doing it for the money and when you consider how many slack jawed blockheads like your cameraman here or the pull-string-operated “reporter” are happy to repeat the canard that teachers are featherbedding slackers, why would you want to put up with that? 

    And while no one here needs to be told, the pay isn’t that great (it does vary by area but you don’t see teachers driving expensive cars) and the summers off can mean a 10-12 week furlough more than a paid vacation. 

    There was another thread on here the other week where someone said “no one disrespects teachers” even as the thread contradicted that statement: I’d like to enter this video into evidence as well. 

    • Matt Damon’s mom isn’t only a teacher — she’s a hero. Her name is Nancy Carlsson Paige and she’s the author of several books about childhood and consumerism. Her son should be, and clearly is, proud of his trailblazing mom. 

    • sukit ghoulgul says:

      Just because you don’t “do it for the money” doesn’t mean that you are doing your chosen profession for the sole benefit of the people your job is helping.

      i.e Just because somebody chooses to be a teacher doesn’t mean they LOVE to teach, or that they LOVE their students. It could just be you wanted a nice summer vacation. It doesn’t make it wrong.

      Good friend of mine just left a nice sales job to become a firefighter. He openly admits he did it for (and yes this is his quote) “all the macho bullshit reasons you can imagine” and in an oh-by-the-way comment he is veeery happy that regardless of actually working or not he gets triple time for hollidays. For the record, he despises the fact that like most districts nowadays he is forced to become an EMT as part of the job.
      He knows my fiscal conservatism very well and laughs when I call him a lazy tax burden. His respose so far has been laughing “well I ain’t going to get rich doing this…but I sure as hell won’t be broke!”

      It’s pretty naive for Damon to act like all teachers only take these jobs because they love them any more than thinking they all do it to sit on their asses all summer long.

      • paul beard says:

        Just because you don’t “do it for the money” doesn’t mean that you are doing your chosen profession for the sole benefit of the people your job is helping.  
        No, but ideally you would’t go into a field your were unsuited for or stay in it if it was a terrible fits for you. The only true thing I think I heard in that video clip was something like 10% of working people are probably doing the wrong job. I would suggest journalism and camera operator were bad choices for the reason.tv staffers shown but I digress. It’s pretty naive for Damon to act like all teachers only take these jobs because they love them any more than thinking they all do it to sit on their asses all summer long. It’s hard to imagine someone planning their career around the vacation policy of a given job or something similarly unrelated to the work you would do. Think about it: someone would invest their time and money in a career that they have zero interest in, other than having the benefits.  Between the educational investment, certifications, and the out of pocket expenses (anyone here who’s not self-employed but still has to buy their own office supplies and materials?), it makes no sense. And when you consider tenure has to be earned, there’s no guarantee of keeping a teaching gig for the first couple of years. I’m no libertarian but even I can say that’s not rational.Your friend the firefighter may have been an unhappy salesman or selling the wrong stuff or he doesn’t like sales or value the income as much he values being a firefighter (aka “all the macho bullshit reasons you can imagine”). Do you know any teachers who “sit on their asses all summer long?” There has to be a Godwin’s Law for any discussion of public ed: any mention of short workdays or 3 months vacations is guaranteed. Summer break in my state is about 9-10 weeks, still too long. Along with all the other 19th century ideas, perhaps one days we’ll get off the agricultural calendar. Kids don’t need long breaks, especially poor ones: they actually lose ground over a long summer which means, you guessed it, more work for the teachers to get the kids who took enriching vacations and went to camps in sync with the kids who sat by the teevee all summer. 

  6. Bill Binns says:

     Over the last few years it has become politically correct to consider all teachers as saints. We are to believe that all of these people gave up on far more lucrative careers because of their love of teaching. Although some such teachers undoubtedly exist, they certainly were not the norm during my trip through public school.

    I had many teachers in high school who I never witnessed doing a single minute of actual teaching, ever. Some did nothing at all except take attendance and sit behind the desk reading magazines and occasionally telling students to be quiet. The most common “teaching” technique involved handing out photocopied study materials and quizzes, then correcting them with an answer key. I don’t think an education degree is required for this technique; it could be done by a ten year old.

    • Joshua Sweeney says:

      “The most common “teaching” technique involved handing out photocopied study materials and quizzes, then correcting them with an answer key.”
      And of course your anecdotal evidence speaks for the entire country’s education system. My teachers were almost without exception fantastic, educated, and passionate about their work. And I went to a public school in one of the poorer districts in Virginia.

    • wss233 says:

      Actually, Bill Binns, the political climate now makes it acceptable to demonize teachers. Your little narrative, which sounds a lot like teenage whiny bullshit, perfectly fits the narrative advanced by those currently in power. Witness the governor of new jersey shouting furiously at his own constituents. There are definitely shitty teachers out there (just like there are shitty investment bankers and members of every profession.) But there are also thousands and thousands of people who work their assess off to teach as best they can while being paid little and decried as lazy in the public discourse.

      • Bill Binns says:

                My “little narrative” was simply my experience in highschool. Not sure if I agree with your opinion on the current toxic atmosphere experienced by America’s hardworking education professionals since this post is about one of the biggest movie stars on the planet going to bat for them.

        I should mention that in my four years of high school, out of the dozens of teachers I had, two were excellent. These two teachers opened my eyes to things that I would be passionate about for the rest of my life. I think about them often and I am very grateful to them but they were certainly the exception.

        At least until the widespread use of standardized testing was started, public schools were a great place to hide for people who did not want to be measured on the quality or quantity of their work.
        The money is not great but it’s not bad either.
        Those who wanted to do a good job did so and those who wanted to do nothing did so. The only measurement was seniority.

        • MrJM says:

          Once again, if 1) you’re a rational person, and 2) teaching is an over-compensated blow-off job, why you are not in the teaching profession?

          I’m not a teacher because I think it is a damn tough job with crappy pay.  What’s your reason?

          • Bill Binns says:

             I can think of lots reasons why I am not a teacher just as I can think of many reasons why I am not a fashion designer or a heavy equipment operator. Your question seems to indicate the exact sentiment I was trying to make my original point about….

            “There is no practical reason for anyone to become a teacher; therefore all teachers are altruistic volunteers sacrificing their own chances at a good life in order to perform a valuable service to the community”.

            This is bull. There are plenty of good reasons to become a teacher other than a love of children.  

          • MrJM says:

            I can think of lots reasons why I am not a teacher

            Yet you provide none.

        • the money is bad when compared to the level of education and other “similiar” professions

          evidence:
          http://www.epi.org/page/-/old/Issuebriefs/IssueBrief298.pdf?nocdn=1

    • Cory Doctorow says:

      I don’t think anyone claims “all teachers are saints.” Every teacher knows some bad teachers and some good teachers and some great teachers (just like every airline pilot knows some good and bad pilots, just like every waiter knows good and bad waiters). But to imply that the ratio of good:bad is skewed in education due to “job security” is entirely unfounded, and an insult to every good teacher who works hard for poor wages in difficult circumstances.

      • Tdawwg says:

        There is a strong discourse, though, that focuses on the altruistic, caregiving, etc. sides of the profession, often to the exclusion of other issues, which in the view of teachers like myself (and I’m not the only one) is paternalistic, demeaning, and limiting: it’s not that we don’t care about the societal worth of what we do, but this does seem to be a stalking-horse of the left, and functions in some ways to curtail discussions of higher pay, better tenure, etc., at least imho. Imagine if you heard all the time about your tireless crusades for better copyright laws, your selfless blogging, etc.: it gets rather nauseating, especially when someone as visible and as intelligent as Damon more or less comes out and says that the non-monetary value of teachers’ jobs are our compensation for “shitty pay.” Um, sure, but our shitty pay is also our compensation, and is rather more essential in some ways than the warm fuzzy of saving the world one child at a time. 

        Jobz, teachers does them.

        • knoxblox says:

          I would think that if pay were THAT much more important, a person would be more inclined to enter politics over teaching.

          I don’t think it’s warm fuzzies Damon’s promoting, but rather sacrifice for something you believe in.

          • Tdawwg says:

            Sacrifice? For real? We work hard, but “sacrifice,” damn, we’re not savior Christs or whatever. We all give up things for the things we choose, but, just like the rest of you, we teachers make sure that the balance adds up, as it were. Imagine speaking of sacrifice to your CPA, telling him or her that they need to spend extra time helping you with your books or taxes. 

            He’s not directly promoting the warm fuzzies, but recapitulating the warm fuzzy meme, which was exactly my point, and exactly the problem. 

        • I don’t ever remember Damon intimating, “…the non-monetary value of teachers’ jobs are our compensation for “shitty pay.” The bottom line is that it IS open season on our profession, and he’s defending the vocation in a very eloquent and nuanced manner. And our profession needs defending from the hyperbolic and vitriolic attacks it experiences every day.

          If an incendiary bomb was used on a building and a voracious fire ensued, would we blame the firemen for not being able to put it out with the equipment at their disposal? Of course not. Yet, this is exactly what teachers are faced with every day. I’m tired of my profession being maligned. Period.

      • awjt says:

        Oh I had a couple of bad teachers over the years, the soulless shrivelled turds.  But that was two out of dozens and dozens… no more than 2 or 3%.  The VAST majority of teachers are in it with their entire soul and being.

        • Tdawwg says:

          It’s just a job for us, really, but you’re welcome to your opinion. We’re human, we phone it in sometimes, we cut corners, just like the rest of you. We calibrate our efforts based on reasonable expectations of success, we act out, etc. etc. I’m really not sure our “entire soul and being” comes into it, at least, not all of the time: how draining, how tiresome! Where would we find the time to make love to our lovers, troll the Internet, etc.?

          • awjt says:

            YOU don’t have to be passionate about teaching.  But I am!

          • Tdawwg says:

            Who says I’m not? I’m emphasizing my other beliefs about the job here as a corrective to all of the Waiting for Superteach happytalk I’m hearing. I tend to be over-passionate and invested in many aspects of my job: jerking myself off rhetorically about how I’m saving the universe at pittance wages, not so much. 

          • awjt says:

            Catholic school teacher, right?  Glad someone’s here to correct us, lest we go astray.  You’re threatening me with a ruler in your hand right now, too, right?  Hope so, or it wouldn’t be authentic.

          • awjt says:

            Corrective?  On the Interwebs?  Catholic school teacher much?

      • raviy101 says:

        So, Cory, if Job Security is not an incentive, and pay/benefits are not an incentive, why not ask the teachers to work for free? They will do their job anyway, since they get pleasure out of teaching. Same goes for Matt Damon.

    • MrJM says:

      If 1) you are a rational actor, and 2) teaching is so easy, then why aren’t you a teacher?  

      Why wouldn’t you take that high-paying, benefit-rich, do-nothing job and make a fortune working at something else as well?  

      You some kinda dope or something?  

    • And because your high school teachers were bad goodness knows how many years ago, that means all teachers are bad? 

      Man, you did go to a crummy school if you can’t even see the illogic of your comment!  What happens in the world is more than you have experienced.  That’s why we don’t base policy decisions on your experience.

    • This is the most common problem facing teachers the perception of people like yourself, that since you wen through the school system you are an “expert”  on education.  and i assure you your statement is full of hyperbole and exaggeration.

    • jwepurchase says:

      If you put a good teacher in a bad system, you likely get bad teaching. It is a poor assumption to assume that this is the fault of the teacher. Unfortunately it is human nature.

    • Tim in SF says:

      I had one like that, too. But just one. The rest were awesome. 

      I wonder what your “many teachers” actually means. Probably means just one, also. 

    • JohnB says:

      Hi Bill. You write very well. Self taught?

    • Mal O'Nine says:

      It’s quite obvious that you had a number of sub-par teachers during your formative years.

    • diegueno says:

      Bullshit. I don’t believe that for a second.
      Were that true about your #education, you’d be too apathetic to read this article, let alone comment on it.

    • Nancy Duggan says:

      On the contrary, the recent trend is to regard teachers as featherbedded layabouts sucking off the public teat.

      Does the fact that you went to a shitty high school have any bearing on teachers throughout the country?

    • adler56 says:

      Sounds like you had a substitute every day of your high school career. Too bad you couldn’t have gone to school in the 50′s-60′s in a Catholic school- nuns didn’t get paid anything-
      and while you hear losers telling horrible stories about beatings they got- it’s mostly BS. Nuns were great teachers for the most part- a few i had were so bright that their teaching was sometimes above our level- they should have been teaching college- we didn’t have advanced classes in those days.

  7. Sara Padilla says:

    I’d like to share a little tidbit my sister posted to metafilter in response to similar nonsense:

    “Son, if you believe that this is actually representative of the life of a
    college professor, then I look forward to living in your version of the
    world. Most professors make nothing close to that level of money. Also,
    most professors never get a teaching load that light. “Christmas off”
    means grading, writing letters of rec for students, and conferences.
    “Summers off” means developing classes, writing publications, mentoring
    students, and managing the university through campus service- it’s
    basically like the rest of the year, but without pay. Also, it is
    difficult to talk about how many hours a week we work, because we never stop working. I go to bed thinking of lectures, I wake up thinking about students.

    Stop living in some fantasy land where your self-pity and aggression are
    justified because someone has it so much easier than you do. As for me,
    time to get off metafilter before I lose my job and my mind.”

  8. wss233 says:

    You know who never has to worry about job security? Good-looking women who are willing to go on TV and repeat inane arguments that advance the interests of the wealthy and powerful. There will always be jobs for those people.     

  9. alistair kinnear says:

    calling teachers lazy doesn`t cause the problem. where i ive in ontario teachers are unionised parasites with 4 day workweeks and all summer off for the most part. there are obviously some who work with children for “vocational” means, but the majority are attracted for the usual reasons that we are all well aware of….no  matter what an actor has to say….and comparing teachers to matt damon is ridiculous.

    and many teachers here make $90.000 plus. like cops, nurses etc. firemen, while making similar pay, actually justify the money every time they get called to fire or a car crash or any other situation where their lives are in danger and have to save lives. one can argue this point, but the fact remains that teachers in ontario canada have a feather bed to lie on compared to most here working from minimum wage upwards with no benifits and no hope of advancement.

    • I can see from your writing style that the teachers in Ontario are, in fact, sub-standard.  Not introducing you to capitalization or sentence structure does show their laziness.  But it must be nice to live in Ontario, especially for the students.  Only having 4 days a week of school?  Cushy for teacher and student alike.

      Got any citations for the 4-day workweek or the $90,000 salary?

      • alistair kinnear says:

        i would guess that with p.d. days, civic holidays and such most school weeks are of the 4 day variety as my experience as a parent with children in ontario tells. as for the salaries, you`ll have to google that, but i`m quite sure i`m not wrong….and i know one vice principal that is making $125,000, suffers depression and is off sick a day or two a week util summer of course.

        how do i know this? she`s a client of mine.

        • Cory Doctorow says:

          You’re just wrong. Ontario teachers do not work “four day weeks” by any definition of “four,” “day” and “week.”

          Likewise, the salary of a senior manager is no indicator the salary of the average worker.

          • alistair kinnear says:

            http://www.nucleuslearning.com/content/teacher-pay-scale-across-canada

            as of 2007 the salary for a teacher in toronto was $75k. i stand corrected.

            not bad for 9 months work though.

          • Cory Doctorow says:

            No, try again. Read the actual OSSTF collective agreement. Also, there’s never been a teacher who did “nine months work.” If you think the profession of teaching consists merely of the hours spent in class, you really don’t understand the profession. That’s like saying that surgeons get paid for “five minutes waving a scalpel around.”

          • MrJM says:

             If you think the profession of teaching consists merely of the hours spent in class, you really don’t understand the profession.

             
            But Mr. Doctorow, didn’t you know that NFL football players only work, at most, 176 minutes* each year? 

            * http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704281204575002852055561406.html

          • KanedaJones says:

            …and the average house price, as of 2007, was $400K. Is the teacher supposed to live in a cardboard box? Do you?

        • Cory Doctorow says:

          Here’s the OSSTF collective bargaining agreement for 2011.

          http://www.osstfd12.com/adx/aspx/adxGetMedia.aspx?DocID=115,19,9,5,Documents&MediaID=136&Filename=CollAgr0812.pdf

          Starting salary for Ontario Secondary teachers: CAD41,830

          Most teachers work for several years as “long term occasionals” at lower wages before landing a full-time position.

          Elementary teachers earn less than secondary teachers.

          • alistair kinnear says:

            http://www.nucleuslearning.com/content/teacher-pay-scale-across-canada

            i think each region has different agreements. where i live and work, teachers drive bimmers, drink starbucks and shop a lot…and when summer comes, they cottage…a lot.

            my wife and i (she`s a children`s aid worker with three WEEKS holidays per year) take a cottage one week a year and are surrounded by teachers at the lake.

          • tightlines says:

            OH MY GOD, TEACHERS DRINK STARBUCKS AND TAKE VACATIONS?? WHAT IS THIS WORLD COMING TO?

          • MrJM says:

            Send them back to the brat mines, immediately!

          • Cory Doctorow says:

            No, Ontario has one agreement, negotiated by the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation. The link I posted earlier contains their actual wages.

            I know teachers — and construction workers, and plumbers, and shop clerks — who have family cottages, too. Many Ontario families do, especially after several generations. My father was a  refugee, and so we didn’t have a cottage, but we often rented one for a few weeks in the summer, sometimes with other teachers and their families. And the adults spent most of their working hours preparing lessons, marking summer-school papers, or doing their own credential homework, which is a requirement of advancing into higher wages, like those teachers you’ve seen driving “Bimmers” — who’ve had to divert substantial portions of their wages and occupy their evenings, weekends, and holidays with additional classroom work to learn more about their profession.

          • John Delaney says:

            I think that the problem here is a lack of education and a myopic point of view. :)

          • alistair kinnear says:

            so how do toronto teachers in 2007 make $75k…and i`m not saying that anyone shouldn`t have a cottage…we are all entitled to access to the lakes. you know what i mean.

            if we put teacher salaries to a democratic vote, i`m not sure most would see the value…especially compared to the extra duties most are expected to perform in their job for the honour of recieving abuse from their employer.

            my point has always been that the teacher role has been so romanticised that they have become sacred cows, untouchable by mere mortals, and if we dare to point out the obvious…that teacher`s work conditions (especially in the summer) salary, benefits etc. far outweigh the value recieved by society.

            and you may disagree as you wish.

          • Navin_Johnson says:

            and if we dare to point out the obvious…that teacher`s work conditions
            (especially in the summer) salary, benefits etc. far outweigh the value
            recieved by society.

            I’m less worried about teachers getting paid 75k, as they actually do provide value to society, than worthless overpaid traders and bankers who get paid millions and billions, and offer absolutely nothing to society, all while being coddled by our tax system.

          • alistair kinnear says:

            we are talking about teachers. traders and bankers are another discussion.

          • John Delaney says:

            It sounds like you have an abusive employer.

          • Daniel says:

            Yes, I get three weeks vacation working at a software company.  And the several positions here have all been incredibly easier than the year I spent teaching highschool math.  Ridiculously easier.  When I was teaching, I’d go into school fairly early in the morning and immediately either be teaching a class, grading assignments or exams, writing assignments or exams, or preparing class materials/lesson plans.  Standing in front of a classroom of students and trying to teach them mathematics is difficult. 

            It’s ESPECIALLY difficult because people like you have undermined all the respect students used to have for teachers.  Students won’t even listen to teachers because their parents say shit like “those who can’t do teach,” which is ultimately the fault of people like you — attacking the teachers when you could be looking for the structural problems in education.  Anyway, trying to teach disinterested, disrespectful kids is exhausting, but there’s only six hours of that a day.  After that, I’d do not less than two and often more like four hours of prep work — grading/writing assignments, generating lesson plans, etc.

            I’d have to take into consideration the fact that the kids are human beings with problems of their own.  Besides simply involving a lot of prep work, teaching requires a lot of attention to detail and memory concerning the kids themselves.  You have to be at least somewhat aware of what’s going on their life because you have to know how hard you can push them at any given time.  And you have to do this without offending any of them because if they’re offended their parents get angry and go over your head to the administrators.

            You keep talking about an administrator’s salary like it has anything to do with teaching.  Administrators are not teachers.  Administrators don’t have to stand in front of students all day teaching.  If anything they’re far less accountable then teachers because they’re far less visible and parents don’t talk to them at all unless they already think there’s a problem.

            So yeah, now I just sit in front of a computer and type stuff all day.  It’s way easier and yet I’m paid almost twice as much as I was when I was teaching and the software engineers, despite the fact that they’re also just sitting around typing (again, way easier than teaching) make something like 5 times what I was making as a teacher.  And I can guarantee you that our product is much less valuable than educated children.  Less time off, but for some reason I still have more free time than I ever did when I was teaching, and way more disposable income.  And I’m objectively producing less benefit to society than I was when I was teaching.

            So in short you have no idea what you’re talking about.

          • Yeah, I know a teacher who drives a BMW. Because his wife is a doctor. But still, that jerk! What nerve!

        • adler56 says:

          I hope you have several VP patients making $125,000 who are depressed- otherwise you’ve outed a patient- not much for ethics eh?

      • The $90,000 is true, if you have a university degree or two and have worked for at least 20+ years I believe. The rest of Alistair’s response in complete bullsh**, and typical of the uniformed, ignorant masses Damon was rebuking above.

        Of note: Ontario has waay too many qualified teachers at the moment, which also serves to improve the calibre of teaching we see in schools.

      • Matt Fisher says:

        See my response.  And my spelling.  He doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

      • MaimsJeweler says:

        http://www.fin.gov.on.ca/en/publications/salarydisclosure/2011/schbd11.html
        As far as the salary goes, this is Ontario’s openly disclosed salary sheet for teachers/school board. I found it in about 15 seconds though, so I can’t vouch for its accuracy.

    • MrJM says:

      If 1) you are a rational actor, and 2) teaching is so easy in Ontario, then why aren’t you a teacher?  

      Why wouldn’t you take that high-paying, benefit-rich, do-nothing job and make a fortune working at something else over the summer?  

      Please explain your thinking to the rest of us.

    • Cory Doctorow says:

      I don’t think your facts are correct. I am the son of two lifelong Ontario school teachers, and my brother owns a private school in Ontario. My parents never earned $90K, even after decades with the Toronto District School Board (which has the highest wages in the region), and even after both earned doctorates in education. Neither did my parents get four-day workweeks or summers off — I remember spending my summers running around the house and the yard and the park, stopping off at home where my parents would have a grading/studying/course-design workshop running pretty much sunup-sundown, just to get their classrooms ready and to make sure their students were well taught.

      Long before the Internet sent every white-collar worker home with a permanent tether to her/his workplace, my parents were lugging around boxes, briefcases and folders full of marking everywhere they went — family holidays, weekends, evenings at home.

      It’s true that teachers fought for and won a set of good benefits — I had my dental and optical care paid for by their healthcare while I lived at home, and both my parents are able to retire and live modest, comfortable lives. But if your version of “featherbedding” is “my kids’ teeth are healthy and they got their eyes checked, and I’m not retiring into a life of poverty,” then I hope we can all featherbed.

      • CSMcDonald says:

        So no bias there at all.

      • alistair kinnear says:

        in the real world bears make money, bulls make money, and pigs get slaughtered.

        teachers, and other high -salaried trade-unionist workers have little understanding of the real world and value-for-value work…and granted it is a good position to be in, but many of the children they are teaching will go on to be store clerks, factory workers, labourers and so on, earning in and around mimimum wage with no benefits, and i assure you, those people deeply resent the entitlement attitude of civil servants who strike for cost of living, retirement contributions and so on (like the postal workers did here recently, holding commerce hostage.)

        cory, your brother has to compete in the market-place and may not be able to pay $90k per. i work for myself and don`t make anywhere near that either and i am not able to get paid while i spend time with my children (like now, as they play call of duty….) but i just bash on and do what i can…and frankly, i wouldn`t want some agency bullying the marketplace on my behalf to provide me with that benefit.

        and as i said in an earlier post regarding teacher salaries, i know one vice-principal who gets $125k per.

        • Navin_Johnson says:

          Thanks,
          You make an excellent argument for more unionization and labor struggle in the private sector.

          • alistair kinnear says:

            i fail to how more unionisation is going to help when real work is migrating overseas at an accelerated rate and all that is left is service jobs?

            unions only hold local societies hostage. as markets are becoming more global, their effect is minimised.

          • MrJM says:

            Ah, the ol’ “surrender your way to victory” model…

          • Cory Doctorow says:

            The nations that have fared best in the era of globalization — that is, highest per-capita GDP, lowest wealth disparity, best trade-balances — are heavily unionized (e.g. Germany).

            I’ve never heard a single good explanation why the only group in our society that shouldn’t collectively bargain is workers. Why is it “market distorting” for a group of workers to collectively seek concessions from their employer, but not for a wedding party to collectively seek concessions from a hotel when they block-book rooms?

          • Walter Guyll says:

            One reason is that those workers that don’t wish to join the union may be fired.

          • Walter Guyll says:

             Another explanation is the Boss/powerful Worker/weak worldview is less convincing in a modern world.

          • Maddy says:

            Yes, yes, yes!  Why is it when a group of people seek to negotiate for themselves a wage, this is not considered a market-force?  A part of the market?  Only the Owners moves are true market moves?  One worker negotiating with his boss is allowed?  Who came up with this rules?  Are they not a theory?  Why can some sneer at evolution as a “theory” but we have to bow-down to this definition of market?

          • Navin_Johnson says:

            And yet the countries with the strongest backing of labor and public education coincidentally are those with the greatest success in both areas.

          • Navin_Johnson says:

            i fail to how more unionisation is going to help when real work is
            migrating overseas at an accelerated rate and all that is left is
            service jobs?

            A strong labor movement would have some sway in changing those horribly toxic neoliberal policies.

          • alistair kinnear says:

            you are offering political solutions to an economic problem.

            there is nothing a local government or union can do if a foriegn marketplace is operating more efficiently for a time.

            only wars challenge that mechanism.

            and i  need to add something here to make my point clear. economies only operate when people make things. durable goods to consume locally and to export.

            otherwise we are pushing the same dollar around and going further into debt.

            the question is; do we produce and sell enough things to pay for all the services we consume?

          • Sekino says:

            We ought to be even more competitive in this new ‘global economy’ and introduce 80-hour work weeks and bring down the minimum wage to $3 an hour!

          • NelC says:

            We ought to be even more competitive in this new ‘global economy’ and introduce 80-hour work weeks and bring down the minimum wage to $3 an hour!

            …for congressmen, senators, members of parliament and others of that ilk. Especially the esquivalient ones.

        • Navin_Johnson says:

          and as i said in an earlier post regarding teacher salaries, i know one vice-principal who gets $125k per

          Your point?

        • Cory Doctorow says:

          In the real world — that is, virtually every democracy on the planet — human beings create states where were all look after one another, respond more to extrinsic motives than instrinsic ones, and collectively bargain because groups of people can do things that individuals can’t (this is why industries form trade associations, why shoppers join CostCo, and why nations form regional trading blocks, too).

          The notion that civil servants shouldn’t have cost-of-living allowances (that is, that their salaries should dwindle year on year so that the job you started in 1980 with the earning power of CAD60K in 2011 constant dollars should only pay you CAN21,592.04 after 31 years [Bank of Canada: http://www.bankofcanada.ca/rates/related/inflation-calculator/) is particularly strange. How many Canada Post employees would deliver your mail if their wages had declined by 66% during 30 years of service?

          So is the notion that employers should be able to unilaterally change the terms of employment: even if you’re the rip-snortest free-marketer Ayn Rand ever met, you must believe in the sanctity of a contract. So if I am contracted to work for you under a set of terms X, how can it be legitimate for you to rewrite my end of the contract so that I only receive Y midway through the job? When CP workers walked out, it was because the Feds had proposed to do just that. Markets run on the enforceability of contracts, and that includes employment contracts.

          You may know one senior manger who claims his wage is $125K, but I have posted the OSSTF collective agreement, which says that the starting wage of a secondary teacher who has attained a full-time position is about $40K (Ontario median income for 2009 was $69,790 – StatsCan, http://www40.statcan.ca/l01/cst01/famil108a-eng.htm ).

          • MrJM says:

            Facts have no place in this discussion, Mr. Doctorow!

          • jondoughx says:

            I think the problem is
            that while education costs have gone up, and its fair that they should, the
            education received has often gone down, dramatically in some cases. Efforts to
            reverse the trend are often hindered by the teachers unions and the status quo.
            In fact it may be the goal of some people to depress the effectiveness and efficiency
            of teachers to force more money into the system to supposedly fix the problem
            in a catch 22 type situation. Poor grades on achievement tests lead to smaller
            class size which ensures more teachers paying union dues?

            Again, I am not
            knocking teachers. We need good teachers and there are some awesome teachers
            out there. I have family members that teach and one going to school hoping to
            become a teacher. But to imply that all teachers are good and that bad ones are
            rare or almost non-existent does not really explain the problems in school
            districts such as Detroit,
            and it offers very little hope to fix such problems. In my opinion the problem
            is mostly at the feet of the teachers unions who seem to block any attempt
            weeding out teachers who are not motivated and who perform poorly.

            Are there good
            teachers? Yes. Are there mediocre teachers? Yes. Are their horrible teachers? Yes.
            What is the ratio? Well…we just don’t know that do we? So lets keep the unions
            sacred and just throw some more money at the problem and the system will fix
            itself? Maybe we should find a way to make the unions perform or fire them and
            start all over?

        • lorq says:

          “teachers, and other high-salaried trade-unionist workers have little understanding of the real world and value-for-value work…”
          Where on Earth do you get off making such sweeping statements about what teachers and union members do and do not know?

          All this demonstrates is that you *yourself* have little understanding of the real world.

          I understand that this sort of half-baked, implausible-when-subjected-to-five-seconds-scrutiny belief is part of what gets you to work on time in the morning.  Just keep it to yourself, okay?

    • Here is another fine example of the way people in power try to turn all workers against a particular group (teachers, manufacturers, anyone in a union) in order to make all our lives worse. The teacher getting a cushy feather bed is a feature, and the rest of the working population should support that feather bed and argue for their own, not resent teachers and try to strip them down to nothing because they themselves don’t have any.

      When you support teachers you support your own workers in other professions.

    • With all due respect, you have no idea what you are talking about. I’m from Ontario, and although there are great benefits and good pay, the job is extremely stressful and demanding, as with anyone else. It isn’t a “4 day workweek,” its all-day, every weekday at school, then home in the evenings and weekends to mark assignments/papers or prep for next classes. Teachers get paid well for the 8 hours a day they work, but then don’t get paid at all for all the other hours of time they put in outside of the school day.

      Not to mention the fact that jobs are extremely competitive, and don’t pay well to start off with, and that teachers often have to struggle for several years on part-time or supply before they can even get started. I’m not going to make the job sound like its bad, because its not, but to make it sound like they live a blessed life of ease and wealth means you are COMPLETELY out of touch. In my years in public/highschool I had one teacher I would say who wasn’t passionate and engaged in her job. Those that genuinely cared for their students, volunteered extra time, engaged their classes etc., far far outnumbered her, and were the common sight.

      “Attracted for the usual reasons we are all aware of”? It’s nice to know when a job you want to do pays what is is worth, and provides some security. But if you think that someone can choose teaching and actually do it just because it pays well, you are, once again, completely ignorant about what the point that the above video is making, and what the actual profession involves.

      Shitty pay cannot be used as a viable explanation for civil servants to prove they really care.

    • diegueno says:

      I’d wonder what an Ontario where primary and secondary teachers are paid a pauper’s salary would look like.
      It would be fit for a misanthrope, but would be unfair for Ontarians that deserve a decent province.

    • kittnkat says:

      This is insane! I live in Ontario too and have the honor to work VERY closely with many different teachers from different school districts: they are extremely dedicated and involved with their students and their jobs, they are some of the most hardworking people I know!!! And I know they do not get paid enough for the long hours they work, the personal funds they invest in their classroom’s equipment, and the emotional investment they have in their students well being. 

      It absolutely shocks me that people can keep repeating statements like this, where does this point of view come from? Certainly not from the truth. Sure there are always people who are in the wrong field, or did something to upset a vocal individual, who ends up railing against the system, but look at the results of ontario’s teacher’s efforts: a generation of well adjusted intelligent kids who see no race, who are polite, technologically savvy, creative and inspired. I work closely with kids from 7 to 19 years of age as well.

      People like you should take the time to examine your prejudice before spouting off at the mouth.

      Teaching is one of the most important jobs an intelligent human being can undertake, they least reward they should have is benefits!!!! Geez.

    • Matt Fisher says:

      You have no idea how much work teachers actually do, do you?  My mother worked for more than 30 years as a teacher in Mississauga teaching in a vastly multicultural K-6 school.  Growing up I watched her get up at 6 every morning to finish the work she hadn’t completed despite staying up until midnight trying.  Teachers don’t get lunch breaks and have to supervise sports and other activities after school.  When all was said and done she worked a minimum of 80 hours per week and I can’t remember her once taking a day off.  The wage she earned for those school weeks was well deserved, not just because of the hours she put in but because of the tremendous responsibility she shouldered, guiding other peoples’ children towards enlightenment.  The three months of non-paid “vacation” were spent taking classes and volunteering, but even if she just sat on a bit of driftwood in the Muskokas I wouldn’t have faulted her for it considering how she poured her life into her job and those kids.  She would have been underpaid at double the rate.  And she never earned close to $90 000 a year.  Shame on you.

      • alistair kinnear says:

        they work equally as hard as many others at double or triple the pay.

        and the question is; would they do it for minimum wage?

    • Awn T. Blink says:

      I also live in Ontario, grew up going to school in both Ontario and a mix of different provinces (giving me experience with other systems), am not a teacher, but know a little bit about two who are, and my perception/understanding/experience is *completely* different.

      1) becoming a teacher is far from easy; it requires years of extra school, extra courses taken in your free time, out of your own pocket in order to get those higher pray grades you mention
      2) becoming a teacher often involves *years* of hand to mouth temping with no job security at all; in my region, there hasn’t been a full time contract awarded to *anyone* who hadn’t been supply teaching for years.
      3) 4 days a week?  Can we have a source sited for that?  School runs 5 days a week folks, and teachers have to be there for each and every one of those days, and they have hours of work before and after school, and frequently are seen giving up sections of their weekends to complete marking/coming up with assignments, etc.
      4) Teachers are paid for the time they work — the “summers off” are unpaid, though contract teachers can (do?) have their salary averaged out and paid year round.  In this respect, it’s no different than the thousands of seasonal workers in other seasonal professions.   Besides, teachers often take that time to teach summer school, take courses, or, heaven forfend, catch up on family time that they missed on during the year.
      5) I’ve experienced teachers totally phoning it in, but I’ve also had lots of teachers who took their job very seriously — to some degree, I believe the student is a big part of that equation too — personally, I was in school to learn, and I made an effort to get results out of the classes I took; I believe that’s part of why I look back on the majority of my teachers as having been very helpful.  Students who are phoning it in aren’t going to appreciate the teachers efforts, and they aren’t going to achieve great results — it’s going to take a very special person at the front of the room to change that for them.
      6) Teachers take, what looks to me, like an extraordinary amount of crap.  Pop quiz: If someones precious snowflake isn’t getting straight A’s, is it the snowflakes fault, or the teachers?  Sane people know that the answer is never going to be black and white; a visible, crazy, percentage of parents know the answer without even having to pause for thought.  It’s a job where you can be up on charges, or fired for saying the wrong thing in class, touching a student for any reason, where you are expected to act as parent to two or three dozen kids at a time — you won’t catch me trying that.
      7) No question, teachers make good money, but I think they earn their keep.  They are a key part of raising the next generation to take on our societies mantle, and that’s not a job I think we should collectively cheap out on.  When teachers do a good job, it’s less work for the Police and Fire and Welfare departments to do, I say.
      8) Some teachers spend an inordinate amount of time creating course work (I know one personally) — if it’s OK to tar all teachers with the lazy brush because some phone it in, then why can’t I tar all teachers with the superstar brush because some are?  All generalizations are false, I say.

      I like the comment about how anyone who thinks teaching is a luxury feather bed to go become a teacher.  If you say you can’t — then why not?  Didn’t think of it soon enough?  Don’t have the grades?  Allergic to snot?  No calling for it?

      When you have no choice, jobs are just to pay the bills, and you do what you have to — it’s shitty to be forced into a job you don’t love to make ends meet, nobody questions that.  But it’s also true that an absolutely vast number of people are able to spend their lives doing work that they love, or at least, can be content with — many teachers are just a tiny subset of that world.  Some teachers hate their jobs, but do it only because they can’t afford to lose the pay cheque — I’d wager those teachers are just as unhappy as McDonalds wage slaves, and I say no-one should envy them.  Money does not buy happiness or fulfilment.
      ATB.

    • Wow!  Where do those teachers teach?  Where I work, the highest payscale is $75000, for those who have taught for 30 years and have a doctorate.  If you want to make more, you have to become an administrator.  I guess I need to move to Canada.

  10. tightlines says:

    One thing I never understand with people complaining about teachers is if it’s such an easy, cushy job with great pay and summers off, then WHY DON’T YOU DO IT? Go, be a teacher!

    • Bill Binns says:

          Maybe you should ask “If teaching is such a low paying difficult job, why is it so tough to get in?”

      I have friend with an education degree and it took him years of working part time to get a full time position in a school. Competition for each job is furious. These are all people who a desperate to sacrifice themselves for the good of children? Really?

      • MrJM says:

        “I have a friend…”

      • tightlines says:

        Are you seriously passing judgment on an entire profession because your buddy couldn’t get hired? My wife didn’t have an education degree and got hired in her school district within a couple of months; I don’t go around telling everyone how easy it is to be hired as a teacher, everywhere. What’s your point? That your friend is a shitty teacher who couldn’t get a job anywhere?

      • adler56 says:

        It depends where your friend was trying to get a job. Many areas of this country are losing people
        on a yearly basis- those staying are having fewer kids- so there are fewer students which leads to fewer teachers- which leads to long waiting lists for full time teaching jobs in some areas.
        Your friend should have checked to see where the population was growing and his wait would have been much shorter. imo.

  11. xzzy says:

    Wish it hadn’t cut off.. I’d like to see what his full response to the “10% suck at their jobs” comment would have been. It’s a valid concern, we’ve all had to deal with dead wood at our workplace.

  12. Jim Saul says:

    Taylor Mali has a nice spoken word bit on this point: “What Teachers Make”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0xuFnP5N2uA

  13. Tdawwg says:

    What’s this about teachers not teaching for the money? I’m a teacher, and I definitely don’t teach for free. I loved Damon’s answer, but this idea that we do it out of some masochistic vocational passion is, um, “intrinsically paternalistic,” just from a lib-prog POV rather than the intrinsically paternalistic republical-libertarian POV. We’re not altruists all, we cash our checks, and we do indeed love our summers off: why would we enjoy the perquisites of our jobs any less than any of the rest of you? Are we expected to put the warm glowy feeling we get from interacting with students and colleagues on our dinner plates at night? The money may not be our primary impulse, but we definitely do get paid, and we’d all accept more money for what we do! The mind reels.

    I propose a new slogan: “Teaching: Just Another Fucking Profession.” Really, it’s time to demistify this: stop waiting for Superman, and just let us do our jobs, like the CPA, the garbage collector, etc.

    • Jimbo2K7 says:

      Good grief. How you got to this point from what was said is beyond me. Perhaps you are not really a teacher at all.

      • Tdawwg says:

        Well, I could show you my union card, or whatever, just scan it and pop in BB’s nifty new image thingy. But I’m not going to do that.

        I’m wondering why you’re calling my status as a teacher into doubt, though. Hope it’s not because what I’ve said contradicts your experience, or possibly, your imagination, of teaching. YMMV, as they say.

        I think I got there by reading closely the ideology that’s both implicit and explicit in Damon’s statements, which themselves mirror similar ideologies about teaching present in public discourse. Dunno, go read Roland Barthes’s Mythologies for a good primer on deconstructing Important Truths That We All Know About. Class dismissed.

  14. LinkMan says:

    It’s never going to be possible to find the perfect sweet spot between making teachers accountable and protecting their rights as workers, as there are too many people shoving the pendulum around.  Teachers’ unions serve an important function as most teachers are indeed underpaid and many of them are absolutely dedicated to what they do and deserve some protection from the political whims of school boards and administrators.  But when the unions get too powerful, you end up with situations like the rubber rooms of NYC, where until recently even teachers who committed outright misconduct continued to draw full salaries and benefits.

    Like so many other policy issues today, what we need is less extremist political hyperbole and more thoughtful, moderate policy tweaking.  We need a system where teachers feel protected and appreciated, but where we still have the ability to get rid of the bad eggs.

  15. onepieceman says:

    Isn’t it likely that both points of view are true? I.e. there are 10% (or whatever proportion there might be) of slackers, and probably a very large number with a true vocation? Where’s the contradiction in that?
    Isn’t that likely to be true of any profession? 

    Now, in the UK, there have apparently only been 10 dismissals in nearly a ten year period, so that’s approximately one per year. Is it credible that there is only one incompetent teacher in the whole of the UK at this moment?

    A healthy profession should be one which sets and upholds standards. Accepting that there will always be a proportion of incompetent or even criminal elements within any profession is just common sense. It’s how that is then dealt with that is important. Who would support the assertion that there are not any corrupt police officers? Does saying that impugn policing in general?

    • The problem is that you are absolutely correct AT LEAST 10% of the workers in just about every job are awful, yet here we are stating it about teachers as if that simple fact should allow us to judge them harsher then anyone else. 

      And don’t give me that “but then the children suffer”  line, because what about the 10% of doctors, or nurses or policeman, firefighters that aren’t very good?  don’t people suffer then?

      and when 10% of bankers on wall street are awful don’t we all suffer?

      • onepieceman says:

        That was my point. There must be bad teachers, just as there are bad policemen, priests, bankers etc. I don’t think it would be fair to pick on teachers specifically. However, there definitely are some professions who take rooting out the dead wood less seriously than others, and I think it probably would be fair to say that the teaching profession is not at the vanguard of self monitoring.

    • adler56 says:

      10 dismissals in 10 years- sounds about like our Congress- but you’re right- many more Congressmen should have been canned.

  16. sarah michel says:

    As I drink my coffee and mentally prepare for my first day ever as a full time classroom teacher, which starts in a couple of hours, I feel so thankful to have watched this video. Last school year when I was doing my student teaching and all this stuff with Wisconsin etc. started to happen, I began to wonder if I’d made a poor decision.

    I’m so happy I decided to become a teacher and make this my life’s work and passion!

    By the way, for me so far there have been weeks of work during the summer and 12 hour days already just getting ready for the year to start!

  17. eheh says:

    The reason that everyone thinks teachers make no money because they don’t understand how to value their retirement packages. In order to replicate the retirement benefits of your average teacher an individual would need a seven figure portfolio. Everyone that has that raise your hand if not sit down.

    ps Same goes for police and fire personnel. All noble positions but none of them are underpaid.

    • MrJM says:

      In order to replicate the retirement benefits of your average teacher an individual would need a seven figure portfolio.

      An extraordinary claim requires extraordinary proof.— Marcello Truzzi (1935 – 2003)

      Either show us your numbers (and a credible source for those numbers) or consider your extraordinary claims dismissed.

      • eheh says:

        One example: http://boston.com/community/blogs/rock_the_schoolhouse/2011/03/how_much_is_an_average_teacher.html

        The present value of a 65k annuity at 5% is about 800k so no maybe not seven figures but they have retirement benefits better than most folks.

        • MrJM says:

          not seven figures but they have retirement benefits better than most folks

          I can certainly see why you didn’t make a fact-based argument initially.

          • eheh says:

            Ok let’s use a realistic discount rate of 3% and were looking at around 1.2 million. My point stands you can quibble about the numbers if you want.

          • MrJM says:

            Your point that it is a cushy, over-paid job that you don’t want to do?

            Why is that?

          • eheh says:

            My point if you read my original post is simply that teacher’s are not underpaid. Please don’t put words in my mouth.

          • MrJM says:

            And you believe you proved your point “that teacher’s are not underpaid” by showing that some teachers are not underpaid?

            Does Matt Damon’s compensation, therefore, prove that actors are not underpaid?

          • alistair kinnear says:

            with a son who`s an actor, i assure you actors aren`t underpaid. they are paid at market value…..unlike teachers, who`s unions hold parents nuts in a vice with threats of withdrawing their over-priced baby-sitting service for extended periods.

            the main reason why teacher`s unions hold sway still in a global economy is that we can`t get our children educated off-shore!

          • MrJM says:

            the main reason why teacher`s unions hold sway still in a global economy is that we can`t get our children educated off-shore!

            Are you waiting for someone to help you pack?  ‘Cause I can make time Friday afternoon.

          • Cory Doctorow says:

            You’ve got that exactly backwards. The reason wages are low offshore is that workers there got a poor-quality education.

          • Tdawwg says:

            I’m sure you could try. Perhaps their being forced to compete in a Herbert Spencer–Social Darwinist fauxtopia like the one you’re envisioning will force them to become predatory super-learners, able to outcompete any pupils anywhere: certainly you seemed to have suffered cognitively and argumentatively from whatever regressive standards currently obtain in your educationally-impoverished community, hamstrung as it must be by those pesky trade-unionists. Or perhaps your poor reasoning is a personal failing, and not attributable to your teachers’ virtues or defects. One wonders!

          • alistair kinnear says:

            well, one could argue that it is unfair for a teacher to have to compete at all, attaining as they have, such a vaunted position.

            and they certainly behave precisely that way.

            i deal with narcissists as clients all the time.

            and my community is one of the highest wage and salary earning commuinties in north america…at least for the next little while, held high by entrepreneurship and solid business practices, struggling to maintain productive and profitable manufacturing and technology industries in the face of global competition…and a government voraciously hunting tax revenues to keep the services coming…..

            many of my clients come from these industries, and do what they can to keep the economy viable in the face of all manner of threats. these people are the one`s who have kept industry alive in a post-industrial corridor and haven`t collectivised in the hope that they could artificially protect themselves.

            how can trade-unionists teach entrepreneurialism in the face of a burgeoning service industry offering civil service jobs and huge retirement and benefit packages?

          • Tdawwg says:

            and they certainly behave precisely that way.

            Project much? 

            i deal with narcissists as clients all the time.

            Cf. the above.Dunno, unions would only likely help those bootstrap-pulling, rugged individualist clients of yours, the ones who’ll inevitably get sick during a lifetime of protecting free enterprise from grubby trade unionists and our nefarious schemes to destroy capitalism, or something something.

            I teach English. Entrepreneurialism, by your logic, is taught in the Capitalist Jungle, so your logic is flawed: you’re upbraiding teachers for failing to teach what you’ve argued consistently is unteachable save in the thrust-and-parry of market capitalism. But since the same market capitalism you so worship offers “huge retirement and benefit packages” to its golden 0.00001%, I’m not sure why you’d deny a modicum of the same to the rest of us proles.

          • Tdawwg says:

            Bad formatting is bad. This new system is getting the better of me!

          • alistair kinnear says:

            i don`t expect teachers to show kids how to survive in the real world. that`s my whole point. they just want to be the only ones to be able to.

            and i don`t worship market capitalism. it`s murderous on large groups of people, just not as murderous as the alternative.

          • wylkyn says:

            You conveniently ignore the fact that a child’s education is not measured as easily as the successful manufacturing of a product or a piece of technology. How do you propose that a teacher’s “success” be measured? By standardized tests? If so, then you know nothing about education. The complexity of accurately measuring a teacher/school’s success is well-known. It’s not like most business products, where you can test drive a set number of cars from a production line and assume the others will be the same. You can’t just slam a kid’s doors and kick the tires and say “Yep, he’s got learnin!” A great teacher’s influence on a child might not show up at all on any tests. It might not be evident for years, and then would the credit go to whatever teacher or school he has at that time? Same could be said for a poor teacher. That teacher might stuff a kid’s head with all sorts of facts that would shine on a standardized test, but may also kill the kid’s love for learning in a way that will reflect on his next school year, or the next.

            I realize that nothing I say is going to change your mind. You seem convinced that teachers are some alien species out to brainwash the world. I’m guessing that you think I’m either still a teacher, or perhaps an agent of the NEA out to spread propaganda! But I get tired of people like you, who obviously have no actual experience on which to base your conclusions, offering these kinds of fantasy solutions to a very complicated problem. You can call it narcissism all you like. But until you have actually worked as a teacher, or been involved in a school in some capacity other than as a student or a parent of a student, you have no idea what you are talking about. And your talk of students as if they are products being churned out by a manufacturing plant is like an Orwellian parody, and it shows no actual grasp of the complexity of education.

          • alistair kinnear says:

            you`ve missed my point entirely. children need inspiration, leadership, insight and stimulation to learn and stay the course so that they will emerge with some idea of what they will become…and maybe a teacher could become that, but unfortunately the bureaucratic monolith that education has become pretty much ensures that won`t happen.

            i deal with adults all the time that have come to a crisis point in their lives and wrestle with ideas they could only have learned in a classroom and are trying to apply to fluid real-time issues in the real world.

            and i work with children as a soccer coach and as a  therapist…with similar challenges.

            i will give you an example. two families came to me seperately because their children were smoking dope and selling it in school. over time it became clear to me that the children knew eachother and that the one boy was intimidating the other boy into selling dope for him. the boy being bullied was asperger`s and couldn`t begin to defend the other boy`s constant attacks.

            i went to the school to speak with one of the councellors who had worked with the child who had been bullied, and he said the there was no drug use in their school and that they worked directly with the police to ensure this and that what i described couldn`t possibly happen.

            the bully child finally admitted what he had been doing as his father threatened to kick him out of his house if it continued..and had secretly followed the boy and videoed him  with the other boy.

            the bully child then told us that the teachers warned the kids that the cops were coming the day before and to get their stashes moved.

            without fear of libel allegations i will now name the high school in question. central high school in burlington ontario canada.

          • dogugotw says:

            Your example of the bully children is interesting.  Here is a case where parents failed to step up and do their jobs and yet it’s the school’s fault?  So we pay them modest wages, ask them to work long hours for those wages, often require they buy classroom materials the taxpayers are too cheap to fund, make sure the kids pass whatever stupid standardized test is in vogue now for measuring teaching efficiency, get advanced degrees just so they can remain employed, AND they’re supposed to manage problems cause by inadequate parenting?
            Yeah, that’s the life for sure!

          • joeposts says:

            He’s a quack who’s pushing a weird schtick. I like how he can’t wait to divulge “client” information online. Very Professional. Please tell us which southern Ontario Vice Principal has teh depression, doc? THE PEOPLE HAVE THE RIGHT TO KNOW.

          • alistair kinnear says:

            as you will no doubt be able to extrapolate from my writing, there are no personal names included in my comments, and therefore no breach of coinfidentiality…which is of utmost importance to them and to myself…for obvious reasons.

            i published the high schools name for the same reason that the stocks were used in medieval villages. humiliation.

            and it`s obvious to me that you`ve fallen to the ad hominem joeposts. is that not a posting violation on most boards?

            just saying.

          • joeposts says:

            Fine, you’re right, you’ve obviously protected your clients’ identities to the best of your ability.

            So tell us more about your clients! It’s interesting reading, doc.

          • KanedaJones says:

            Gee how indeed? Ask your clients who work at RIM how well their Waterloo education served them. Heck, ask the founders of that company.

            Besides, isn’t your job as a freelance accountant to make sure they don’t pay any taxes at all? Without the government, you wouldn’t be needed.

            And “entrepreneurialism” is not a subject normally taught in grade or high schools either. It’s taught by private companies like JA. Or maybe it isn’t taught at all.

            Also, curious — your son the actor, he makes “fair market wage”? Ok, so that means he does community theatre for free, or he belongs to an actor’s union. They get a hell of a deal too. If you hire one actor not in the union, they blacklist you for years. Is that any better?

          • wylkyn says:

            I think the flurry of sparks from that ax you’re grinding is blinding you to the actual facts surrounding this issue. You, like many others in this thread, seem to think that your personal anecdotes about observing teachers in “bimmers” and vacationing down by the lakeside sets the standard for the whole of the profession. And yet you ignore mountains of evidence to the contrary simply because it doesn’t fit your emotion-fueled fantasy of what teachers are like. When I see a term like “over-priced baby-sitting” being used for teachers, that says more about your own emotional involvement in the issue than anything else. If you can’t step back from your anger and make a sensible, logical decision, don’t you think you should allow more level heads to prevail here?

          • Walter Guyll says:

            Are children getting a good education? If yes then teachers are doing a good job. If not, then not.

          • Daniel says:

            Are children getting a good education? If yes then teachers are doing a good job. If not, then not.

            If a building burns to the ground because the bridge still isn’t finished 6 months after it was supposed to be is that the fault of the firefighters?

            Similarly, if the problems the US has with education are caused by structural problems such as how schools are administered or by cultural problems such as the utter lack of respect for educators in this country, is that the fault of the teachers?

          • Walter Guyll says:

            If teachers are not doing a good job because of how we fund and run schools, they are not dong a good job.
            If teachers are not dong a good job because respect has to be earned and not mandated, they are not doing a good job.
            If a building burns to the ground we seldom blame the firefighters, because a firefighter’s job is to respond to a problem. A teacher’s job is to educate.
            Don’t blame the teachers, blame the state run school they have to work in.

          • Daniel says:

            Funny how you only show that kind of nuance when challenged on your “it’s the teachers’ fault!” garbage.

            The “respect” issue as I mentioned above is a result of the culture at large attacking teachers for political reasons.  Kids don’t respect teachers because their parents don’t respect teachers.  The parents don’t respect teachers because Fox News told them teachers are godless commies.  Teachers don’t even get a chance to earn respect, the kids pick up on the general “those who can’t do teach” vibe from the media and their parents and that’s it.

            But yes, let’s not blame the teachers, let’s take a look at why the current funding/administration situation is so Fed.

          • Walter Guyll says:

            When did I say it was the teacher’s fault? Some teachers suck ass and some are great.
            It’s the System, man!

          • alistair kinnear says:

            in other words shut up?

            i`m not angry about anything discussed here. i merely think that the teaching profession has to adapt to 2011 and stop grinding out the old stuff thinking it prepares kids for the real world…of which they themselves are no part.

            teachers are really good at producing more teachers, and not much else. doctors and lawyers and chemists produce more of the same, in spite of the indoctrination of school.

            funny how that works.

          • John_Wilmot says:

            It’s true! Teachers are not part of this world, but reside in the sixth circle of Hell, condemned for their heretical teachings. And I promise you, there is no worse penance than grading essays in a freshman composition course. (see http://shitmystudentswrite.tumblr.com/). We adjunct writing instructors really envy those second and third circle inhabitants–we never really have time for lust and gluttony. We do sometimes feel anger and wrath (http://notthatkindofdoctor.com/2010/10/the-five-stages-of-grading/), but it is quickly dispelled by a crushing sense of defeat and a glass of cheap whiskey.

          • Guest says:

            Wow. 

        • SamSam says:

          Wait, so you used a source which shows that a teacher who has worked for 30 years will get a measly $47,407 pension to show that “to replicate the retirement benefits of your average teacher an individual would need a seven figure portfolio.”

          Well, then… that’s perfectly 100% accurate, so long as the millionaire had invested all their money with Bernie Madoff.

          • eheh says:

            47k is a measly pension? That’s pretty close to the median income of a family of four in the US.

            I have no idea what this means: “Well, then… that’s perfectly 100% accurate, so long as the millionaire had invested all their money with Bernie Madoff.”

        • I teach in the boston area, i do not qualify for social security, will not receive those benefits.  i pay 11% of every paycheck into my retirement, and when i do retire i will have to continue to pay for my medical benefits as well (they aren’t free) 

          i actually cost the state less money then if i was contributing to social security because they pay less then that payment into my pension fund.

          and my benefits while better, when combined with my paltry salary, do not in fact equal what others make

          Evidence here:
          http://www.epi.org/page/-/old/Issuebriefs/IssueBrief298.pdf?nocdn=1

          and for those of you who want to respond with “well you have your summers off:
          http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2011/06/25/number-of-the-week-u-s-teachers-hours-among-worlds-longest/

          not only do we work more hours then any other teacher in the world, we only work on average 20 less hours per year then any other American worker

    • Cite your source – and not just some example off of Fox News.  Cite a reputable source that the average teacher has a great retirement package or sit down!

    • petershultz says:

      50 years ago, every factory worker in america had a retirement plan like that. Its not that public workers have it great, its that the rest of us that have been screwed over.

      My grandfather dropped out of high school—to fight in WW2—then worked in a factory for 30 years and retired with a full pension.

      My father dropped out of college—when drafted into vietnam—then worked as a union tradesperson for 30 years and is about to retire with an IRA that is not as good as his fathers pension.

      I have a Graduate degree, and have never had a job with any real retirement benefits. 

      This is not progress! Lets not blame teachers for keeping what we all once had. Instead lets get mad about what has been taken from us.

    • Coolhappymax says:

      Citation needed.

  18. Tim in SF says:

    Man, the editing in that video is f’ing terrible. 

    • DewiMorgan says:

      Editing was worse than terrible, it was diabolical. From those two exchanges taken out of context, we can’t get anything. Anyone have the whole interview?

  19. dutchboy99 says:

    Public school is a monopoly, people want options like they have with anything else, what is wrong with options?

    • Cory Doctorow says:

      Well, in Ontario we have FOUR public systems (French, English, French Catholic, English Catholic), and many jurisdictions have voucher-based charter schools. How much more choice did you want?

    • Srsly?  First of all, there are plenty of private schools, so it’s not a monopoly.   Second of all, you can’t look at education like it’s a business.  It’s a public service which makes societies better.  Different rules apply than the need to make a profit, thank goodness!

    • Duncan McPherson says:

      I’m pretty sure we have options in the U.S. Public school, religious schools, charter schools, homeschooling, private schools… yeah… yeah… we have options.

      What point are you trying to make?

    • Coolhappymax says:

      We live in a community, and we all pitch in to make it better. Your ‘options’ basically means you want to get the benifits of living in the community, but not do your fair share of input. 

      That’s ethically fine, so long as you pay us back for the benefits alreadys received, plus interest, and move somewhere else.

    • diegueno says:

      Should we have a free market for governments, too?

  20. Emo Pinata says:

    “But 10% of teachers are bad!”

    That is quite possibly the worst argument against tenure I have ever heard. If a company has 10% of its employees suck at their job, then they will have a great level of production that comes from 90% of their people not sucking at their job. How do you even have that argument with someone?

    I also love how people forget Matt Damon is not retarded. He went o Harvard, and dropped out because of acting. The guy is a smart guy.

  21. awjt says:

    Teachers are not valued the way they should be in the USA.  Teachers are one of two things standing between our children and a modicum of grace in this world.  The other thing is US, the parents, and we tend not to do our jobs so the teachers have to pick up the slack.  We must start respecting our teachers for the tall orders we have given them.  And reduce the burden of ridiculousness we’ve placed on them.  We need to look to other countries and remodel our educational system after the success stories and scrap the old models we cling to.

  22. Eric Rhoads says:

    The fundamental problem to me is that we shouldn’t rely on finding people willing to do a difficult job for very little pay, aka teaching.  Unlike acting, music, etc…there is no lottery moment where you become rich, famous, respected etc.  We needs lots of good teachers.  You can’t expect the profession to basically be a charity.

    I have seen the good and bad side of teaching.  Yes teachers are impossible to fire.  Yes, some districts have great benefits.  However, some districts pay less than what you would earn waiting tables part time.  Some districts have health insurance that is worse than what you can get on your own.  Even in the best districts across the county, you wont get rich teaching.  You will simply be middle class and have little risk of loosing your job.  That isn’t exactly scandalous.

    If people want good teachers, they need to be willing to pay.  It is also reasonable to assume if your paying a teacher well, they should be held accountable as they are a public servant.

  23. David Lapin says:

    Teachers have a window into the future of our civilization. As a society we don’t draw on their insights nearly enough. But as Damon says, it is not only teachers who are driven by more than the money. Many highly successful business and professional people don’t need their work for the money. We are wired to want to make a difference, to do kind things for others, to leave a positive mark on the world – our vocations are the vehicles to accomplish this. the money we earn is the indicator that what we are doing has value to others.

    David Lapin

  24. reasontv:  where even the camera operators are nasty ignoramuses.

  25. asbuuu says:

    That could have been an interesting conversation. Not sure why Matt had to start insulting the camera guy (even if he was bad). 

    I’ve known a lot of teachers, and I’d say most of them really believe in their cause. Or they did when they started. But some of them are simply there for the paycheck, and some even really don’t care about the students. Shouldn’t schools have some way of moving them out? 

    • adler56 says:

      I don’t think he insulted the cameraman. He was agreeing with him that there are bad workers in all fields- he simply said for all he knew the guy could be an bad cameraman. That’s an insult?
      I think it just makes the cameraman think about how little his statement means. Because all fields have some bad workers we should diss all teachers?

  26. David Yoon says:

    So, uh, a magazine called “Reason” uses a cheap emotional tactic (cutting to a scene from Good Will Hunting) to undercut an interviewee? For a bunch of libertarians who think they’re so logical that seems pretty damn childish.

  27. atimoshenko says:

    It’s not even a question of teachers. The extrinsic motivation model is so obviously broken that I am surprised that its problems are not more frequently discussed in greater detail. Extrinsic motivation matters for activities that are incredibly low-paid (e.g. seasonal farm aid), and extrinsic motivation matters for positions that have few redeeming qualities (e.g. cleaning of toilets). In all other instances, the satisfaction of doing a job has much greater impact on one’s job performance than the amount of money one stands to make or to lose.

    Indeed, the people that will be best attracted by large salaries will not be the smartest, the most talented, or the hardest working – they will be the people intrinsically motivated by the idea of making money (commonly known as ‘greed’). Create a system in which teachers are guaranteed to make multi-million dollar salaries, and our ‘teaching class’ will not consist of the best possible teachers, but will instead quickly become dominated by the same self-serving psychopaths who are now in finance and senior management.

    • Tdawwg says:

      There are rather few professions, though, where factors like self-worth, satisfaction, happiness, are held up to be as having equal or greater value than things like salary and benefits. Doctors are well-paid for their time spent, as are lawyers, dentists, accountants, and most other white-collar professions: teaching alone seems to be a profession for which a reasonable amount of education is necessary, a lot of effort and time is generally required, etc., yet our pay lags well behind those of other professions, and we’re constantly told in public discourse, right, left, and center, that we enjoy super-duper unquantifiable benefits like knowing we’re creating the future in the minds of the wee bairns, or something. I’d be happy to enjoy a reasonable salary that has parity with those of other professions for which a similar investment of money and time was necessary, and to let personal motivations like satisfaction and self-worth take care of themselves. 

      If money is necessary, and it is, then wanting more money cannot be reasonably considered greedy. If money is necessary, and it is, then doing without money, especially when so many other professions are so much better compensated for their efforts, is altruistic at best, self-denying, masochistic, and just plain bad financial reasoning (both personal and societal) at worst.

      I teach. What do you do, and would you be willing to accept the argument that you should do it for less, and enjoy the subjective benefits of your job in place of wealth? I rather doubt it.

      • atimoshenko says:

        I think you missed the point of my post somewhat. In retrospect, I could have made it clearer, so my apologies.

        I’ll try again. The discussion in the video conflates two separate questions. First, how should the level of compensation of a particular individual be determined? Second, what motivates an individual to engage in one activity over another, and do a better job rather than a less good one?

        I was addressing the second part only. For instance, I would be very surprised if you chose to become a teacher because you calculated that you would be unable to earn more money doing something else, and I don’t think that you are calculatedly doing a worse job than you could be doing, in the understanding that you would double how good of a teacher you are if your salary were to double.

        As such, I was opposing the side of the argument, which suggests that teachers should be switched to purely performance-based, market-driven systems of compensation, and that implementing such a change would produce a better education system.

        As to the first question, the general rule of thumb today seems to be that one’s salary is calculated as a percentage of the size of cash flows that one’s position mediates, and how direct this mediation is. So doctors, lawyers, bankers, CEOs, and entertainers all get paid a lot because they are on the front-lines of processes in which large sums of money change hands. Naturally, this is a crazy, crazy way of calculating compensation, and one which results in a gross misallocation of resources (IMHO). I would certainly consider teachers to be grossly underpaid, especially in comparison to some of society’s high earners.

        Still, the fact that teachers are underpaid is ultimately unrelated to my claim that teachers do not really do it for the money.

        • Tdawwg says:

          Lolwhut? I certainly wouldn’t thrive as a neurosurgeon, or an airline pilot, or as a professional soldier-for-hire or a CEO or whatever: too much stress, wrong skill sets, etc. I’m good at reading and writing and books and stuff, and teaching is a natural fit for that skill set: that I think I can reasonably secure a living wage without going crazy, and happen to enjoy it, etc., were all part of the cost-benefits equation. And I definitely calibrate my effort invested by the money I receive for the same, just like everybody else who’s not a starving artist or an aspiring saint. It’s not a one-to-one thing all the time, but to work much more than for what I’m paid risks exploitation, and I can’t afford that.

          I do totally agree with everything else in your follow-up, and I thank you for your clarification. But again, we do *really* do it for the money: money is essential for us, so, yeah, that’s what we do it for, along with all of those other reasons.

  28. langeslag says:

    Thank you Matt Damon, and thank you Cory!

  29. Walter Guyll says:

    The real problem is that education is a state monopoly.
    Politics decide what innovations are introduced and what standards apply.
    There is no direct feedback between the consumer and the producer.
    A market based education may not be a panacea but it would find answers the current system cannot.

    • MrJM says:

      A market based education may not be a panacea but it would find answers the current system cannot.

      Answers like: Not educating poor children or difficult students.

    • Cory Doctorow says:

      No. Education is a public good. It is best supplied and paid for by the group as a whole, because no individual or small collective can produce the overall social benefit that the nation can provision collectively.

      Education doesn’t respond well to market forces because many of the social goods that arise from education — socialization, a grounding in civics, historical context, rational and systematic reasoning — are not goods or services demanded by a market, but rather they are the underlying substrate that allows people to intelligently conduct transactions in a marketplace as well as establishing and maintaining good governance.

      There is a long and wide body of evidence that people with wide, solid educational foundations that transcend mere vocational skills produce societies that are more prosperous, more transparent, healthier, more democratic — that attain, in short, all the things we hope markets will attain for us.

      There are innumerable “market based” educational options. We call them private schools. A few of them are very good, and are generally priced out of the reach of average people. Many of them are very poor indeed. But functional democracies require that all people — not just those who are already wealthy — are given the foundational knowledge that allows them to prosper and participate in the full range of social activities that make nations great.

      • Walter Guyll says:

        Education is already almost free, it’s the students who are chained to a desk.
        I have several immigrant friends who learned English by watching tv and movies, not by reading Moby Dick in class. The lesson they learned in school was that reading was boring.
        Public schooling is not the source of culture, people are.
        What my baby boom high school provided in four years was about one year of real education and three years of baby sitting. How many parents would choose that for their children if they were making the financial decisions?

        • Navin_Johnson says:

          Sounds like you probably should have paid more attention in class.

        • Antinous / Moderator says:

          What my baby boom high school provided in four years was about one year of real education and three years of baby sitting.

          Odd. My baby boom high school spit me out able to speak four languages and with the ability to score in the upper 700s in half a dozen AP tests. Maybe you just weren’t paying attention. Even a great teacher can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

          • Walter Guyll says:

            Well, you could be smarter than me, or I had poor parenting or just maybe I had to go to the crappy school assigned me.
            Where I grew up, in rural Snohomish county in Washington state, one went to the neighborhood school. If there had been a culture of choice in education perhaps I could have been just as advanced as you.
            I can dream, can’t I?

      • PJDK says:

        How can you possibly say education doesn’t respond well to market forces and then say very good private schools price themselves highly.  Surely that indicates that there is strong demand for good schools

        “socialization, a grounding in civics, historical context, rational and systematic reasoning” are very much demanded in the market, that’s why private schools can exist in a country with a free state education system.  

        The argument against private schools is one of fairness, not one that says private schools don’t provide a good education.  Thus arguments for vouchers and similar ideas

        Also why is everyone going on about why teachers do their job?  The question was if making it easier to fire teachers for incompetence would improve the general quality of teaching.  That could/would work without any motivational aspect at all.

        • Tdawwg says:

          Incompetence as determined by for-profit corporate educational think-tanks, absurd metrics geared to standardized tests, and the bottom-line imperatives of the market and MBAs =/= incompetence. Reasonable standards of incompetence that come from within the profession and are consensually agreed upon by those directly affected by them would work.

          • PJDK says:

            As long as directly affected by them means pupils and parents, not teachers themselves

          • Tdawwg says:

            All parties have a reasonable place at the table, but it’s the employees who do the work and are directly governed by the laws who must have the greatest say in the standards followed. If not, kindly allow me to determine the rules that govern the work you do: you wouldn’t submit to such nonsense, and neither will we teachers.

          • PJDK says:

            They need a voice, but the final say needs to be away from teachers.  It’s fairly standard quality control type stuff.  I want a say in the QC procedures in my job (I need to say how long they’ll take, how difficult they will be to complete and so on) but it needs to be someone who isn’t working that makes the decision, because some of the things they want me to do will suck.

            Just as an aside (because this thread hasn’t had enough of those), my Dad briefly became a teacher after years working in industry, and the complaint he had above all others was that the management structures were atrocious.  Also he came from 10 years of management experience at several large companies but couldn’t get on the fast track teacher management course because he didn’t have a 2:1.

          • Antinous / Moderator says:

            They need a voice, but the final say needs to be away from teachers.

            In the same way that it makes sense for politicians to make science decisions? And for insurance company executives to make medical ones?

          • Walter Guyll says:

            What are “science decisions?”

          • Antinous / Moderator says:

            What are “science decisions?”

            Making some types of research illegal, for one example.

          • Walter Guyll says:

            As a libertarian I’m all about keeping stuff legal, but if you did want to forbid some types of research that would be a job for the politicians.
            For example, private research into nuclear weaponry, or human-animal hybrids.
            Dang, but I’m feeling contrary today.
             

  30. BlakeWilson says:

    Let’s just go ahead and say that teachers are nothing more than baby sitters. A bullshit statement but let’s just say it’s so. What’s the going rate for a baby sitter, per child? $5 an hour? So let’s say a teacher works in a district where the classrooms are small, say 20 kids. And this teacher only teachers four classes, which is a small load. So what, 80 kids total, each for one hour? 180 school days a year?  That’s $72,000.

    Teachers get paid shit even if they are doing nothing.

  31. Navin_Johnson says:

    “Reason” doing their Koch sugar daddy’s good work as always. 

  32. ryane says:

    I had some bad teachers, but truth be told, I was a much badder student.

  33. CSMcDonald says:

    It’s not a black and white issue.
    There are bad teachers, and there are great teachers, and there a lot of mediocre teachers.
    There is a perception that bad teachers are kept on the job which may be justified (Boing Boing has reported on some of the high profile cases I believe)

    Where a lot of money is getting wasted however is not on the teachers – it’s on the school boards and the nepotism and cronyism and out and out corruption in many of them.   Broward County in Florida is a perfect example of what is wrong with the school system in quite a few areas of this country.  

    Pillorying teachers and sanctifying ‘em is just trying to dumb down the discussion.

    Growing up in Ontario Canada in the 70s & 80s, and attending several different schools that the indifferent teachers outnumbered the great, but I can only recall three or four horrid ones.

    Cory, in Ontario the people may have 4 different choices for schooling, but that choice is not present in the US.

  34. MrJM says:

    And that isn’t what I said. 

    I asked, “If the profession of teaching is as you described, i.e. cushy and over-compensated, why in the world wouldn’t you, as a rational actor, enter that profession?”

      • MrJM says:

        I don’t think you’re making the point you think you’re making.

      • John_Wilmot says:

        How are they calculating these hours, hmm? I suspect that only school hours are being counted, which grossly over-inflates the wage. As has been repeated endlessly here, work hours and school hours don’t align in any reasonable way. Teachers have to grade assignments, prepare lessons, meet with parents, attend faculty meetings, write student reports, fill out endless paperwork for trouble students, and in many cases have to attend classes to retain whatever certifications their field deems necessary. If those hours were counted, I assure you that the hourly wage would begin to look pretty pathetic.

        • jondoughx says:

          You can assure all you want.  I posted a study not a guess.  I dont know how they arrived at those hrs but you can feel free to post a link to any study you have that will dispute the facts I have given you.

      • Antinous / Moderator says:

        So far, your contributions to this thread have been links to opinion pieces and reports from conservative think tanks. If you have any of your own opinions or any actual data to contribute, please feel free.

  35. jimbuck says:

    To anyone who constantly bitches teachers have it so easy (vs their own job which is so hard) nothing is stopping you from becoming a teacher yourself.  There’s no caste system here.   Quit your job, got the required education, and get a teaching job.

  36. paul beard says:

    If you’re curious, like most BB readers are, and look a little deeper, you may ask “If the folks at Reason are all about free markets and rational actors, how much of their very existence relies on donations, i.e., charity handouts from wealthy people like the Koch brothers? What services or products do they produce at a market rate that people will pay for?” [http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Reason_Foundation]

    The Koch brothers feelings about public services are well-known, if the news from Wisconsin is any indicator. And in the link you will see that they are also associated with ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council:”ALEC is not a lobby; it is not a front group. It is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, behind closed doors, corporations hand state legislators the changes to the law they desire that directly benefit their bottom line.” For more on ALEC, you can read WIlliam’s Cronon’s study guide [http://scholarcitizen.williamcronon.net/2011/03/15/alec/]. 

    So Reason.tv is brought to you by people who are opposed to the American way of life, as most of us know it. I’m sure this will bring howls of outrage from earnest libertarians but from where I sit, it looks like an unholy alliance between anarchy — no central government or regulatory authority — and oligarchy, with a few powerful overlords trampling the rest of us underfoot. 

    Everything I have learned about libertarian thought can be summed up in a question: If this is such a healthy and dynamic philosophy, why do we never find it in developing countries, only in developed ones? Sounds like a definition of a parasite. 

    • Tariq Kamal says:

      As someone who comes from a “developing” country, may I just say that yes, we actually do have libertarians. Malaysia’s most prominent example, in this case, is Tunku ‘Abidin Muhriz, the founder of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS).

      I do make note, without much comment, that Tunku ‘Abidin is the son of Malaysian royalty — specifically the son of the Yang Di-Pertuan Muda of Negeri Sembilan, which is a state in Peninsular Malaysia. Not exactly the hoi polloi voice-of-the-people there.

      Which, incidentally, doesn’t mean I like your comment. It’s just that I think in one case, you did get one thing factually incorrect.

      • paul beard says:

        Eh, not sure the guy being the son of royalty negates my comment, merely shows a different aspect of the same problem. The libertarians I see and hear base their political philosophy on a foundation, on investments, that someone else built out of a sense of common purpose, selflessness, even altruism. 

        Nations don’t build highway systems or land grant universities or other large public infrastructure components for today but for tomorrow, to help people they will never see or know. Libertarianism seems to ignore all that, claiming that markets will provide better solutions. I am waiting for some developing country to build a dam or railroad by subscription or other means of collecting fees from users, rather than as public investment. There is a striking parallel between the communism of the USSR and libertarian thinking. Both are based on a faith in people that is completely unwarranted. One side thinks people are generous and willing to work together and the other thinks people are always reasonable and rational in all their decision making. In reality, people are both compassionate and rational, by turns. We need markets, investment, innovation, and risk, but we also need security and a concern for others. 

        The fact that neither philosophy can survive without a developed host to build on should be obvious. The USSR’s collapse and the dire fate of the people of North Korea don’t do much to boost the value of hardline Marxist economics. And I await libertarianism building a modern state without any public investment. 

  37. Walter Guyll says:

    Lots of convincing reports that teaching is difficult and stressful. Another argument for shifting education to the private world?
     

  38. Daniel says:

    How can you possibly say education doesn’t respond well to market forces
    and then say very good private schools price themselves highly.  Surely
    that indicates that there is strong demand for good schools

    Considering the vast majority of students in the US go to public school, no the price of private school does not indicate strong demand.  It indicates niche value.

  39. wylkyn says:

    I was a teacher for 5 years before I gave it up to work in the private sector as a programmer. I make nearly 4x as much as I did as a teacher, and when I go home at night I leave my work behind…most of the time. Sure I don’t get the summers off, and I miss the joy of passing along the love for learning, but I would never go back. Those who have never taught do not know all the tons of bullshit tied into that job. I never really had any problems with parents, but I knew some teachers who did. And I know they were really glad they had a union protecting them, or the district would have fired them just to make that parent go away.

    Think about it: a teacher is either going to be drab and conventional and fly under the radar, or they are going to be fascinating and innovative and draw a lot of attention. It is the latter kind of teacher who is guaranteed to piss off at least one parent now and then. How long do you think such a teacher would survive in a school without a union protecting his/her job? District administrators typically want to make an enraged parent go away as quickly as possible. The quickest way would be to fire the teacher and get a new, less expensive one. Soon we would have nothing but schools full of boring, unoffensive ditto-machine teachers. That is what the union-busters are striving for. Yes, the current system protects some of those teachers. But it also protects the teachers who really make a difference…the ones who rub some people the wrong way, the ones who challenge, who spit lightning, who light fires in young minds.

  40. wylkyn says:

    For those who believe that schools should respond to market forces, I’ve got a few company names for you: McDonalds, Wal-Mart, Target. These are some of the most successful companies in the world, and yet not many would argue that they provide much “quality”. Why are they so successful? Because most people who choose to shop there are either more interested in the cost than they are the quality, or because they don’t know any better. If we turn our school system over to purely market forces, I hope most of you can afford the classier schools, because a majority of our country will be attending the Wal-Mart schools for a variety of reasons that would be obvious if you aren’t already steeped in denial. And then we can really see how quickly our jobs move overseas.

    • Walter Guyll says:

      Wal-Mart and Target give great value. That’s why they are popular.
      And Julia Child liked MacDonalds:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DF31qCrclC0

    • alistair kinnear says:

      i would like schools to start teaching useable skills for modern kids.

      frankly, chemistry, physics etc ( and environmental science!)  are absolutely useless for kids emerging from the institutional womb for the first time.

      no wonder so many binge-drink in college.

      • wylkyn says:

        Again, you don’t understand the process of education. There are deeper concepts and issues than just the surface material. If you are still stuck on the teenager’s “why do we need to learn this stuff?” question, then…

        It’s difficult to explain simply. Take art, for example. Teaching a child to draw is more than just teaching a child to make a pretty horsey for Mommy to put on the fridge. It teaches a child a way to look at things, to understand symbols and their relationships as well as what is right in front of him, it exercises parts of the brain responsible for innovation and intuitive leaps. The brain is a complex organ, and neural pathways need exercise. Teaching kids “useable” skills is great if you are looking to churn out generations of lever-pullers. The boss they work for will be from a country that understands that education is more than just teaching skills. Our casual dismissal of the arts in favor of only logical educational pursuits is one of the reasons so many of our kids can’t think beyond the next step. With standardized tests blazing the trail, education is becoming more like training than learning.

        I know you believe teachers are just glorified babysitters, so perhaps these arguments fall on deaf ears…or blind eyes, I guess. But you should try to consider the possibility that you believe these things because you choose to remain ignorant that education is complicated and requires some actual knowledge and thought to discuss on a meaningful level. That sounded a lot more snooty than I intended, but it’s a fact. This is a complex issue, and we are still learning more and more about it. Anyone who treats it as simple is merely trying to sell you their point of view.

        • alistair kinnear says:

          our society is in deep distress and needs vocational answers quicky, and using art as an example of the complex nature of teaching missed my point again.

          lever-pulling is all that we`ve got to offer our graduates by the way, whether at wal-mart or 7-11.

          my daughter did two years of vet-tech that cost us $20,000 plus beer and she now earns minimum wage working in her chosen field, and can`t even afford to chip in for car insurance, never mind a financial life for herself.

          now this isn`t entirely the teacher`s fault, but they sit back and get paid to educate children in the wrong direction and build up their hopes to the point where they binge dring their way through college.

          • Daniel says:

            now this isn`t entirely the teacher`s fault, but they
            sit back and get paid to educate children in the wrong direction and
            build up their hopes to the point where they binge dring their way
            through college.

            Hey, do you have some kind of evidence that binge drinking in college is caused by high school teachers?  Because this is some really loose poop-flinging nonsense here.  If you want to argue about education, cool — people are engaging you and everything.  But stop the smear campaign.

            Kids binge drink in college because we have a poisonous culture.  It’s not the fault of teachers at all.  In fact, it’s a big part of the problem teachers have getting kids to learn anything.

            And what do you think the “right direction” is?  You apparently don’t think that an education in chemistry or physics is worthwhile despite the fact that primary scientific research and intellectual property are two of the few remaining strengths of the American economy.  What do you think kids should learn in school?  Retail?

          • alistair kinnear says:

            my dad was a chemist and had a sucessful career, and so i think for some this might be a viable career path as long as we don`t teach bumf like enviromental science a la algore…..but real science with proofs. otherwise we are putting a generation of kids out into government welfare to solve global warming(!?)

            we need to be teaching kids that it is important to make and sell durable goods if we want to maintain our middle income lifestyle.

            kids binge drink because they understand the intrinsic futility of the direction they are heading. kids are naturally intelligent, and have to be brow-beaten into stupidity. 

            i`m not sure that there is an answer, but what will happen is that salaries will continue to drop against the cost of living in all sectors (even for trade-unionists.)

          • Daniel says:

            kids binge drink because they understand the intrinsic futility of the
            direction they are heading. kids are naturally intelligent, and have to
            be brow-beaten into stupidity.

            When people rebutted all your arguments you came back with “teachers make college kids binge drink!”  That’s just a baseless smear.  FWIW, I think your reasoning quoted above is at least partially the reason for college binge drinking but hanging that around the necks of the teachers is bullshit.  Teachers aren’t to blame for the structure of the pipeline and a lot of them expend a lot of time and energy fighting it.  Again, if you can think of structural problems with education great, it’s the relentless (and usually baseless) smearing of teachers I am objecting to.

            my dad was a chemist and had a sucessful career, and so i think for some
            this might be a viable career path as long as we don`t teach bumf like
            enviromental science a la algore…..but real science with proofs.
            otherwise we are putting a generation of kids out into government
            welfare to solve global warming(!?)

            You apparently don’t know what environmental science consists of.  You obviously don’t believe in AGW — fine, I’m not getting into that right now, except to say that for the rest of my life I’ll be dealing with the consequences of it and I wouldn’t mind a few people with the technical expertise required to help mitigate or adapt to those consequences.  But you don’t have to believe in AGW to understand that there are real resource limitation problems on the horizon that environmental science is essential to understand.   Try googling “no-till farming.”  Or better yet just read this:
            http://www.gmo.com/websitecontent/JGLetter_ResourceLimitations2_2Q11.pdf

            That’s not to mention the fact that hardrock mining and many heavy industries do environmental damage that’s incredibly expensive and difficult to repair if it can be repaired at all.  To the extent that an education in earth science and ecology can give people the skills and knowledge to help mitigate the environmental damage while allowing us to continue to extract the metal ores, etc. we need to keep everything else going I’d say it’s actually a pretty valuable thing to teach. And earth science deals with some of the most complex, inscrutable systems around — simply trying to understand it is great practice for trying to understand anything else.

            It’s interesting that you suggest we need to stop teaching science and then when I ask what we SHOULD teach you say, “well, I guess SOME science is all right…I guess I don’t really know what we should teach.”  You don’t know what needs to be taught to prepare children for the world they’re going to face.  You don’t even have any guesses.  Fine, but in that case step back and let someone else figure it out.

          • KanedaJones says:

            Boy, did I guess wrong. You obviously don’t talk to anyone at RIM.

          • Duncan McPherson says:

            Did your local community college cost $20k? If so, were you out of district? That’s alarmingly high.

            The community college my niece went to in order to receive her AAS in Veterinary Technology only cost $7062 in tuition. (That was the full cost of the degree, as an in-state, in-district student.)

            Did the teacher do the job at hand and teach the class? Are you expecting the teacher to discuss the cost-benefit of the particular school or the financial aid situation of the student in addition to the lessons for the class?

            Heck, obvious question: Did she go to a for-profit school? I mean, there are so many possible variables here that derailed her financial future. 

            Does the U.S. need skilled workers? Sure. But what skills do they need? Health fields (requiring science, particularly life sciences) and computer-oriented fields (requiring science and math) are two of the faster-growing fields. 

            Sources for that:
            http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos102.htm
            http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos305.htm

            Sure, not every kid will grow up to be a computer tech or a nurse. However, I know the high schools in my area still have enough money to fund their vocational education programs (i.e. shop classes). And for those classes they also need good teachers.

            Likewise, veterinary technologists should have good job options. Is your area relatively rural? Are there fewer job options? That could be limiting your daughter’s success.

            Again, source:
            http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos183.htm

            Of course, there’s another question: do your daughter’s grades and school performance merit a better paying job in her chosen field? If she swilled as much beer as you claim, perhaps the answer is no.

          • Robert Mack says:

            So you’re blaming teachers for your own binge drinking daughter’s personal failings? I thought you were advocating personal responsibility. 

      • call_me_ishmael says:

        “i would like schools to start teaching useable (sic) skills for modern kids.frankly, chemistry, physics etc ( and environmental science!)  are absolutely useless for kids emerging from the institutional womb for the first time.”If you scratch the surface of these arguments, you’ll find the argument is not so much “teachers are overpaid for teaching”, rather it’s “teachers are overpaid for teaching my children things I don’t want them to know and how to think for themselves”.I know, term limits for teachers. It would be just as rational.

  41. obeyken says:

    MATT DAMON!

  42. Daniel says:

    you are offering political solutions to an economic problem.

    It’s not JUST an economic problem which is what everyone here is trying to explain to you.  If it was just an economic problem then I wouldn’t be making more now than I was as a teacher while yielding a lower value to society.  Capitalism is NOT good at valuing education for its own sake because most of what one learns in the course of an education is not directly related to the economic role you end up filling.  A lot of it just goes to making you a better all-around person, which is a sort of intangible public good.

    This is a social, cultural, political, AND economic problem.

  43. The two of them – the woman and the cameraman – should probably have come better prepared instead of showing up and being outclassed in less than a minute (“10% of all people should think about doing another job” Priceless).  Nice try, dingbats.

  44. Adam Chance says:

    Here in MS, teachers are paid surprisingly well, around 35k is minimum wage and average pay is 43k.

    Our big problem is administration. “Superintendents” make around 6 figures, an INSANE amount of money in MS. Often this position is elected and in one case a few years ago held by someone who never graduated high school.

    In my hometown high school they have a superintendent, a principal and vice principal and a disciplinarian. All making around 6 figures. There is also a secretary making 60k.

    When my father went there, they had more students and it was ran by one administrator and her secretary..

    Oh, and from working in the industry I can tell you that wherever they where when this interview was recorded, a teacher was making more than that reporter and the camera guy…

  45. backyardfoundry says:

    “The New York City School District, which employs more than 80,000 teachers, terminated 25 tenured teachers during the 2008-09 school year. Just TWO of the firings were based solely on incompetence. Less than one-half of the districts surveyed in one study reported dismissing a teacher for poor performance in the previous five years.”

    Iron rice bowl

    • Leo Casey says:

      Seems that folks are relying upon former NYC Schools Chancellor Joel Klein’s disinformation on the “rubber rooms” and dismissal of teachers.

      I dissected that argument here [http://www.edwize.org/joel-kleins-bad-faith-argument-the-contours-of-ideological-thinking]:

      Klein writes:
      The extent of this “no one gets fired” mentality is difficult to overstate—or even adequately describe. Steven Brill wrote an eye-opening piece in The New Yorker about the “rubber rooms” in New York City, where teachers were kept, while doing no work, pending resolution of the charges against them—mostly for malfeasance, like physical abuse or embezzlement, but also for incompetence. The teachers got paid regardless. (To add insult to injury, these cases ultimately were heard by an arbitrator whom the union had to first approve.) Before we stopped this charade—unfortunately by returning many of these teachers to the classroom, as the arbitrators likely would have required—it used to cost the City about $35 million a year… No one—and the union means no one—gets fired.

      For clarity of exposition, let’s dissect this passage into different points.

      1. Take special note of the initial use of passive voice: the “rubber rooms” were places “where teachers were kept, while doing no work.” In fact, it was Klein himself who created the “rubber rooms.” Before Klein’s tenure as Chancellor, teachers with charges pending against them were placed in DoE offices and in other schools where they would perform non-teaching work for the school system while they awaited disposition of the charges against them, much as they now do after the agreement to close the “rubber rooms.”

      2. Having created the “rubber rooms,” Klein instituted a number of perverse incentives that led to a significant increase in the number of teachers placed in them. While a teacher who was excessed from his school remained on that school’s payroll until he found a position at another school, a teacher who was sent to the “rubber room” was removed from the school’s payroll after a brief period. Add to that policy the elimination of meaningful oversight of principal decisions to send teachers to the “rubber room,” and patterns of abuse began to emerge. Some schools and principals had large numbers of staff sent to the “rubber room”; others had very few. When the ‘rubber rooms’ were finally closed, the numbers confirmed that they had been misused: of the approximately 750 cases in the “rubber room,” close to 25% were terminated, resigned or retired as a result of a hearing. (So much for “No one—and the union means no one—gets fired.”) In over 60% of the cases, teachers were returned to active service, either because they were completely exonerated of the charges or because the findings against them were so minimal that a fine was the only penalty levied. The remainder of the cases are still pending.

      3. Now, take note of Klein’s shift to an active voice: “before we stopped this charade…” In truth, Klein opposed the agreement closing of the “rubber rooms,” as he believed that they provided him with a public relations bludgeon to use against teachers and their union. It was only under the direct orders of Mayor Bloomberg that an agreement was reached with the UFT to end them.

      4. Klein’s conducted an ongoing campaign around the “rubber rooms.” Steven Brill, a close personal friend of then Deputy Chancellor Chris Cerf, was brought in to write the New Yorker article to be used in this campaign, and was given complete access to the “rubber rooms” for that purpose. At the same time, a filmmaker making a film critical of the NYC DoE role in establishing and running the “rubber rooms” was arrested for entering and filming one of the sites.

      5. In the above passage and elsewhere in the Atlantic article, Klein mentions that charges against teachers are heard and decided by “union approved” arbitrators. What he neglects to note is that the very same arbitrators must also be approved by his Department of Education. The law requires that both parties approve the arbitrators, in order to ensure that they are impartial and neutral decision makers. When a lawyer such as Klein describes arbitrators in this misleading, one-sided fashion, he is engaged in a calculated misrepresentation of the process. What Klein really wants here is the elimination of the ability of teachers to have a fair, impartial hearing: he wants one side — the DoE — to control completely the person making the decisions, much like he controlled the DoE officers who heard and decided appeals of unsatisfactory ratings. The result is a ‘rubber stamp’ of whatever the principal wants: in the over 1300 ‘U’ rating appeals that have been heard by the Department of Education over the last two school years, exactly 3 cases have had that rating overturned.

  46. TharkLord says:

    Fallacy: Teachers unions are bad because they protect bad teachers.

    Truth: Teachers unions use collective bargaining and contracts to protect the rights of all teachers.

    Good teachers are constantly advocating for their students. Good teachers demand smaller class sizes so they have more time for teaching and helping individual students. Good teachers try to get parents involved not just in the classroom, but to be activists for improving education. Good teachers are outspoken about poor administrators and ineffective principals. Good teachers are outraged when school funds are wasted or misused. Sadly, being a good teacher can earn the enmity of school administrators, often more so than bad teachers who make a point of keeping a low profile.

    School districts can be cesspools of vindictive politics, nepotism and corruption. Good teachers want union protection because they want to be evaluated based on objective standards, not the personal whim of any particular administrator. Bad teachers can exploit union contracts to hide from the consequences of their poor performance.

    My brother-in-law is president of a teachers union local. He would love nothing more than to have the power to personally fire all the crappy teachers who waste his time. These people are a tiny proportion of the teachers he represents but take up a huge proportion of his time with all sorts of complaints and demands.

    Saying teachers unions are bad because they protect bad teachers is like saying the Bill of Rights is bad because it protects criminals.

  47. Lyn Ballou says:

    It is the beginning of August…so far I have indeed had two weeks off from school.  Just after school let out, I stayed and worked on curriculum tracking.  Then one week of workshops on how to write Individual Education Plans.  I have been reading material I need to know in order to teach a new new curriculum in the fall.  Next week I will write letters to all of my students and parents so that they are a bit more prepared for what the coming session will bring. The week after next I will be back at school moving all of my materials to another room. Then… school will begin. Yesterday I purchased classroom materials and USB flash drives for several of my students because they need them and their parents cannot afford the cost.  The statement that teachers are lazy is ridiculous. Yes there are some bad teachers, especially those who should have never taught in the first place or those who have just burned out. But, more to the point, there seems to be an ever changing clutch of administrators.  Every time a new one assumes the helm, everything changes, from philosophy of pedagogy to curriculum and programs. Just as things seem to smooth out, and are beginning to move along…another huge change occurs. As always, it is the students who suffer during this “learning curve”. After fifteen years of teaching I am feeling discouraged and sad.  My passion for my students, for helping them learn how to learn and discover the joy of understanding and knowledge has not abated…my stamina to deal with everything else is diminishing. We need support, not to be blamed. 
    Thank you for listening.

    • Lisa E. says:

      Amen!! I couldn’t express it any better myself! Especially about the ever-changing philosopies/programs that are vigorously indtituted and then throwm by the wayside! 16 years for me and I LOVE being with the kids and sparking their thirst for learning, but the BS  that happens is nearly unbearable. And now the huge budget cuts to schools are making things even worse! If we still have humans teaching in the classroom and not simply computers with programmed assignments by 2020, I’ll be highly surprised!

  48. backyardfoundry says:

    Quoting Slate:

    “If a teacher takes full advantage of his procedural protections, it can take several years and hundreds of thousands of dollars to fire a teacher today, despite the quick timeframes established in state statutes.”

  49. memeboy says:

    Strange, I just needed to learn more about this Alistair Kinnear character, he’s so stubborn!

    edit: (from his blogger profile)

    dr.alistair

    Astrological Sign: Scorpio
    Industry: Human Resources
    Occupation: psychotherapist

    Location: burlington : ontario : Canada
    About Me:
    My name is Alistair Kinnear. I am a Certified Hypnotherapist, NLP Practitioner and Life Coach, and I am working on my Doctorate in Divinity. I work in helping people to change behaviour and I like to think that I am waking up their spirit in the process.

  50. backyardfoundry says:

    Quoting Slate… again

    “Surveys have suggested that principals give good reviews to bad employees in the hope that they will find another job and leave voluntarily. It’s harder for the teacher to find another job with bad reviews. The phenomenon has been called “The Dance of the Lemons.”

    Good dancers, those lemons

  51. Matt Fisher says:

    There’s a simple solution.  Take the education budget and triple it.  Take the cash from defense – they’ll never notice it considering the cash they keep seeming to misplace in Iraq.  Fund free preschool for every child.  Increase teachers’ pay to attract the absolute best teachers money can buy.  Provide tax incentives for graduating from high school. 

    If we’re going to spend money on something in this country we should at least spend it on something that will pay back enormously, like education. 

  52. dutchboy99 says:

    Read : The Underground History of American Education, by John Taylor Gatto.
    It will inspire you and will result in an excellent blog post.
    Thanks- Bob

  53. Sara Padilla says:

    I really don’t understand why people fetishize “choice” when it comes to schools.  I spent most of my primary education in a Parochial system that was a) staffed primarily with teachers who were in it to get a tuition breaks for their own kids, b) had at least one eighth of every day dedicated to teaching theology, and almost none to local history, arts, music or second languages and c) was profoundly ethically and financially compromised by sex abuse scandals.    My seventh grade history teacher was a schizophrenic who lived in the classroom, who passed over teaching us about the Pueblo Revolt in favor of teaching us that the Bauxite monopoly that ruled the world (who would hire such a person?  How was he not fired?  Because such a person could be paid ALMOST NOTHING).  My eighth grade class made a point of making the teacher cry every day, and as result half of us had to take pre-algebra in summer school.  My parochial education was terrible.  I wouldn’t want a single dime of my tax money going into that cesspool.

  54. bruckelsprout says:

    I took a a creative writing class my first year of college.  Many of the people in that class were my classmates all through high school.  Many of my classmates from high school did not know basic sentence and paragraph structure.  BASIC things.  Indent a new paragraph.  Put quotation marks around dialogue.  A new speaker gets a new paragraph.  Capitalize “I” as a proper noun.  A few didn’t know “ur” is not a real word.

    I don’t claim to be a writer, and I have been known the splice the heck out of a comma.  However, these are very, very basic rules of grammar.

    These people received the same curriculum that I received.  They saw the same teachers, took the same courses, read the same text books, and some of them were occasionally even in the same class period as myself.

    I don’t pretend to know the answer, but I suspect that the difference was the value that we placed on education, and how much our respective parents made us value making the grade (or forced us to make good grades.)  It’s a bit unfair to place the onus solely on teachers for every student that gets a subpar education.  That seems obvious to me, but I suspect that most people are in denial.  They are in denial over the fact that culturally, education is not valued as highly as most of us would like.

    Nobody wants to hear “It might be us!”  Surely, it can’t be.  Surely not.  It must be “them.”

    • John_Wilmot says:

      Sounds familiar. I used to have grand dreams of teaching analytical thought, rhetoric, and the many joys of language, but these days I am genuinely happy when, over email, my students include a salutation and sign their name at the bottom of the message. If I can get them to spell out their words in that same message rather than using text speak, I give myself a pat on the back. The rest of the basics–proper citation, paragraph breaks, capitalizing proper nouns, including their own name at the top of the essay–are a more arduous battle. If they can identify and avoid logical fallacies I am overjoyed. I have come to understand that in my 101 classes, it is a major achievement for some of my students to turn in an assignment that, at a glance, can be identified as an essay. I don’t belittle that, for many of them are learning that genre for the first time. However, I hesitate to blame them or their previous teachers for their lack of know-how. Few standardized tests include an essay component, and those tests are used to determine jobs and funding. It’s a shameful situation.

  55. tempo says:

    Is the current view on education policy actually ‘intrinsically paternalistic’?   What is he trying to say?

    • Daniel says:

      tempo, I think he’s saying the “MBA model” of “everybody gets the highest-paying job that their current skill set/bullshitting abilities allow, and the salary indicates the true social value of that occupation” is intrinsically paternalistic.  Not education policy itself.  My impression anyway.

  56. Navin_Johnson says:

    Since nobody’s done it yet:

    Damon:  Do you like apples?

    Reason idiots:  Yeah.

    Damon:  Maybe you’re a shitty camera man!  Boom!  How do you like them apples?

  57. bruckelsprout says:

    On a side note:

    It’s amazing the amount of ire that teachers get for the declining quality of the education system.  Even if we were to say that students and parents are blameless in this equation, why is it always the teachers?

    Why are teachers’ salaries, work hours, benefits, pensions, tenure, etc, always called into question?  No love for school administration?  This has nothing to do with the principal?  Guidance counsellors?  The school board?  The Representatives and Senators?  The Governor?

    As long as we’re pointing fingers… why always the teachers?

  58. Navin_Johnson says:

    Public schools are great and so are grades in rich neighborhoods.  The problem isn’t teachers.  The biggest factor in educational success is wealth.

  59. skeptacally says:

    re: alistair kinnear

    i’m not entirely sure what universe you live in where your one anecdotal principle story somehow refutes the actual data, contracts, and experiences posted here by countless others, but allow me to add to the chorus:

    my wife is a secondary school teacher in ontario.  she has been one for 5 years and is a long, long way from making $90K.  the minute she gets home from work she starts marking.  she does, on average, 3 hours of work at night.  this is after she has worked all day without a lunch, coached sports, and led the student environment club — none of which she gets paid for.  she has “homework club” with students during her prep period.  i’m guessing she works around 70 or more hours a week.  and this is pretty much the norm for her colleagues as well.

    i cannot count the number of times she has been screamed at by parents.  she is constantly under attack from parents who believe that their children are the only ones in the class that need extra attention.  the students themselves (and she is at a pretty darned good school) can be nightmares.  and teachers have been stripped of any form of disciplinary tools, meaning that, short of kicking them out of class, she can’t do much.  and they just get sent back to class.

    the work environment is hardly “a feather bed.”  and i would hate to see what life at a tougher “inner city” school would be like.

    she is currently spending her summer upgrading, meaning that she is spending 25 hours a week on a course to upgrade her skills to the level needed to maintain employment — i should point out that she has a Masters Degree, so this should say something.

    she doesn’t know when she is going to have the time to research and prepare for the new courses that she will be teaching this year.  we are taking one week of vacation (to fly to a friend’s wedding).  that’s it.

    again, this is the norm for her colleagues and the many teacher friends we both have.

    you say that you are therapist/councillor.  it would seem to me that the first skill that you need would be an ability to listen.  and not just listen, but HEAR. 

    i don’t see a willingness or ability to either listen or hear in your posts.

    i see an angry, angry little man who has a bee in his bonnet, perhaps a touch of envy, and a voice that is just crying out for attention.

    precisely like so many of the kids my wife has to deal with each and every day.

  60. skeptacally says:

    er…  and it was supposed to be a response to alistair kinnear.  but that didn’t seem to show up.  Antinous / Moderator if you could fix?  thanks again!

  61. Metaphysical new age life coach? HAHAHA. Yes let’s stop teaching physics and chemistry in schools and focus more on crystal healing and ‘the secret’

    This guys blog is full of righteous anger towards “retards” and fuckwits and ex wives. I really want him coaching my life.

    EDIT: oh and he called michelle obama “gorilla girl” GAME. OVER.

    • paul beard says:

      There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics. I don’t see anything that shows the hours worked but the “shorter workday” in the title just doesn’t wash if you actually go into the school building and see when people show up, what they do while they’re there, and when they leave. 

      And guess what? They don’t get to comment on BoingBoing during their workday. They don’t have coffee breaks. They don’t wander over to the water cooler and talk about reality TV. They don’t have lunch with a friend, unless they both work in the same building and can also spare the 20 minutes to sit at a kids desk. They don’t run errands on their lunch hour. They don’t take vacations without arranging for their work to be done in their absence. They don’t go to the bathroom when they feel like it unless they can arrange for someone to watch their classroom. 

      And parent/teacher conferences? When do those happen? At the parents’ convenience, after the workday, in many cases. Curriculum development? Planning? Making materials? When is that done? Cleaning classrooms, vacuuming, wiping down tables and chairs? What, you think there are custodial staff to do that? 

      So yeah, the kids are there from 9-3 but take a look at the parking lot. Look at those shiny new cars. See when they arrive and when they leave. 

  62. Sara Phang says:

    In fact we do find libertarianism in developing countries, only it goes by its true name, warlordism, banditry, and piracy. American libertarians are parasites and cowards. If they truly stood by their beliefs, they would emigrate to Somalia [or another failed state of your choice] and try their hands at oligarchy. Instead, they have posters of tough guys (whether the violent or economic sort) on their walls, while enjoying the benefits of a society with some kind of public sector (even the United States’).

  63. jphilby says:

    As an ex-schoolteacher I’ll just say that people who complain about teachers 1. Don’t know shit and never wanted to; 2. Couldn’t teach a class to save their life (and would get eaten alive if they tried). The KIDS are FANTASTIC.

    It’s what Matt Damon said about paternalism: You want better schools? Fire the administrators and the school boards and let the teachers run the place. You’ve hired dozens of these dedicated college-educated people … and then you hire jerks to push them around, waste loads of money on stuff that *doesn’t educate* and load teachers up with busywork.

    • paul beard says:

      The attacks on teachers and the very existence of school boards, rather than allowing superintendents to run school districts, is based on a lack of trust and a desire to measure based on Taylorism, aka scientific management. Some things are hard or simply expensive and time-consuming to measure. So rather than trust a teacher’s assessment of child’s progress, we require testing. But testing is complicated, so we boil down the test so it’s machine-scorable. We take writing or “show your work” math off the test, as those require human graders, i.e., expensive graders with specialized skills. 

      I live in a state with 39 counties but more than 200 school districts, some of which may have as few as 20 students. Requiring/enforcing standards across that mess is not easy. But I expect in the small districts, where everyone knows the teacher(s), trust is less of an issue. It’s when we educate on an industrial scale that we get into trouble. 

      Herewith an idea I have been told is impossible, as it was explained to me that the federal government is prohibited from setting national education standards (is that true?): http://wp.me/P56dN-1Lg 

  64. Petzl says:

    reason.tv = biggovernment.com = andrew brietbart = fool.

    having said that, i’ve never understood why teachers get tenure.  i can understand how a professor can get tenure.  but elementary school teachers?  i dont get it. i’ve no problem with teachers’ union, but tenure seems guaranteed to be abused.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      Teachers now need tenure more than ever. When I was a lad, parents helped their children and cooperated with the school. Now they sue the school and try to get the teacher fired because little Pugsley is failing, possibly because those same parents didn’t bother to make him study.

    • different tenure.  ours simply guarantees us Due process rights prior to dismissal.  meaning they can’t arbitrarily let you go after a certain number of years without having a paper trail showing that your teaching has been a consistent problem. 

  65. Christopher West says:

    Matt Damon can’t fix our sucky schools with all of the money in the world: http://www.doublebirds.net/2011/08/matt-damon-cant-fix-our-sucky-schools.html

  66. Mr. Winka says:

    Hey Teachers, how do you like them apples?!

  67. Sean Closson says:

    For the people making comments about the quality of teachers in Ontario, I have one thing to say, that’s Ontario, Mr. Damon is talking about an issue in America. I understand that there are plenty of different places both in an out of the US that have many different ways of handling education, some are good and some are bad, but overall the general history of public school policy in the US is often times one where the teachers work really hard and get shafted when it comes to being rewarded for educating (and in many cases, babysitting) the next generation of tax payers, usually because the previous generation has already put their children through school and don’t want to pay to help out the community at large.

    I’m not going to claim that I am unbiased, I am the son of two public school teachers in a family with many more educators in it. On top of that I come from a very poor and very small town in Maine that has had it’s school system demolished due to state, town and federal politics. My one big problem with people who make very high and mighty speeches that these days seem to be demonizing teachers in order to further political agendas is that many of them seem to forget the fact that none of them would be in the position they are or even have the grammar skill necessary to sound so fancy without teachers.

    Teachers in this country are often taken for granted, stepped on, viewed as some sort of obstacle or taken completely for granted. But I am sure that if everyone took a deep breath and looked back at all of their years in the American education system (even those in the Ontario system can do this) they can probably find at least one teacher who not only changed their lives in some way but also drastically helped form the person they are today. As for me, not only was I fortunate enough to have two very loving parents who nurtured my personal education outside of school and encouraged me to follow through with my interests and follow my dreams to pursue a career in the arts, I can also think of several teachers who on countless occasions helped me grow as an individual and overcome many of the early challenges in my life.

    That is what good teachers do, they don’t just funnel random bits of information into us like assembly-line workers, they take us under their wing and guide us into the future. We owe teachers a lot in this country, if anything we should be giving them more money, not using them as convenient targets for the repeated volleys of political gunfire.

  68. NothingButFlowers says:

    Whoa, by the 2nd half of this thread, AK was baiting people with comments about teachers giving false hope to students that they wouldn’t just work at minimum wage jobs in the businesses run by his entrepeneur clients. 

    It’s sad what happens when you feed the trolls. :(

  69. askjacob says:

    Damn straight he is a s#itty cameraman – he broke the wall – we heard him talk.

  70. Sean Closson says:

    There seem to be a lot more people out there who have a very conscious dislike of both school and the teachers they had during school. That really can be the only reason I can think of to bash on teachers anyway.

    I’m not saying their aren’t bad teachers out there, even some people who are abusive or mean spirited and take jobs in education in order to fulfill some need to exert power over others, the same can be said for any profession that is above the bottom of the pile. But I would suggest that the majority of teachers probably do choose it because some part of teaching appeals to them.

  71. Leo Casey says:

    Before you take your talking points from a conservative think tank that presents out of context “conclusions” without supporting evidence, take a look at a serious study:
    http://www.epi.org/publications/entry/book_teaching_penalty/

  72. Guest says:

    Yes, good man- I liked what he said.

    Your analogy? BAD. It is really not OK to use a rape metaphor. That is really nasty and triggering language. And ‘damsel’… why?

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