What Comments can Teach Us: The changing tide of public education sentimate

Since the Enquirer has picked through my material to help boost its readership at times, I’m sure they won’t mind if I use their comment section from a recent article about Lakota teachers to explore some of the back and forth that has been going on, which is important to capture for analysis.  Back in the day I’d sometimes participate in these comments like my friend Sharon Poe below does, but since the Enquirer has moved to requiring Facebook log ins, it excludes me.  I don’t do Facebook.  There are a couple of generic accounts that were created for my professional endeavors, which I don’t even log in to—so I have no Facebook account and I never will.  I do not agree with the terms of service at Facebook, so the Enquirer system doesn’t work for me.  But there is some use in watching what other people have to say which can be seen below.  In essence, the following comment stream is regarding the recent teacher protests before and after school activities over the merit pay issue.

Really there are two types of people who participate in these forums.  It used to be all union people until a few years ago when they began to be challenged out in the open by reformers.  Then the standard answers about how hard the teaching profession is, or how much money they make, or how much they sacrifice for the “children” was unchecked, but not anymore.  More than ever, everyday people participate in these forums to advance thought, and opinions have changed.  It should be noticed that one commenter castigated my friend Sharon who is from a neighboring district of Mason for sticking her nose into Lakota business, but nothing is said to the teacher from Sandusky schools which is about as far away in the state of Ohio that anyone could get.  That is just one example of the bi-polar relationship that public school teachers and their supporters have with the outside world.  What’s good for them is acceptable 100% of the time.  But if someone from the other side of opinion utilizes the same—they kick and scream like babies with a rash during a diaper change.   The rampant union supporter is one type of participant—and they have largely been neutered from what they used to be.  They are very careful about their comments compared to five years ago.  This is because of the other type, the reformer—who is growing in number year by year and has been present to debate the very premise of pubic education.  Have a look at the basis for their discussions.

Joe Shooner ·

Cincinnati, Ohio

I’m a Lakota parent, and I fully support the idea of paying our teachers well. My kids are relying on that education, I consider it money well spent to retain and attract good teachers. I know my kids teachers. I see the cars they drive, I learn where they live. On paper, some district employees are doing very well – especially since most cost estimates I’ve seen include ALL benefits. As a person in a small business, I can tell you that a 40K salary can EASILY have a total cost of $60K if you factor in taxes, healthcare, etc. The majority of teachers are not getting rich off of this job. If yo…See More

Like · Reply · 7 · Apr 24, 2015 9:44am

Joe Doerger

The whole merit pay issue is specious. Mainly because it’s unsustainable and will actually cost districts MORE in the long run which means MORE and HIGHER taxes MORE often.

Every merit pay scheme has been used to keep down some salaries by giving more to others. The pool of money has to grow larger to pay everymore teachers more merit pay. Without a reliable source of new money, merit pay will result in unfair discrepancies in teacher pay. You can’t give all the money to a math teacher when you also need English and Social Studies teachers.

Think about it, if EVERY teacher qualifies for “mer…See More

Like · Reply · 3 · Apr 24, 2015 10:14am

Emily Cottingham

This is very unfair for the teachers. How would you like to be judged on the performance of others? Some students do not have the capacity or the desire to learn, and why should a teacher be judged on that? Also, some of the worst teachers teach the smartest kids, who are self driven. Why should that teacher be rewarded because their students perform well? Basing a teacher’s pay off of a students work is unjust, and will just encourage teachers to only teach to the tests and nothing else. Learning in school is a made up of much more than learning how to pass stupid assessments designed by those not teaching the class.

Like · Reply · 3 · Apr 24, 2015 8:27am

Nicol Neate

sorry, too many are just glorified babysitters, and if they have a student who has no desire to learn, or is struggling it is THEIR JOB to get through some how.

Like · Reply · Apr 24, 2015 8:49am

Joe Doerger

Nicol Neate sorry, but you are a very uninformed citizen. They’re TEACHERS. 

Now if you suggest that some of their students (and their parents) are glorified babies, you might be on to something

Like · Reply · 6 · Apr 24, 2015 9:09am

Emily Cottingham

There’s only so much teachers can do. In the real world, if an employee does nothing, they get fired. In school, the most that can happen is the student can get a detention, and gets failed. But they are still supposed to learn the material, and the teacher gets evaluated based on that. The teacher can’t follow the student home and make them do the work. They can’t keep them after and force them to do it. And they can’t sacrifice class time to teach that student individually, and sacrifice the learning of the other students. Often, the parents aren’t making their kids accountable and don’t force their kids to do homework. But if the student isn’t learning, the teachers automatically get blamed.

Like · Reply · 3 · Apr 24, 2015 9:46am

Show 4 more replies in this thread

Jackie Conrad ·

Teacher at Sandusky City Schools

The Constitution. Read it. Those teachers are exercising their rights. Judge not.

Like · Reply · 2 · 17 hrs

Alex Daniel ·

Cincinnati, Ohio

Yes and using their positions to unduly influence their pupils into supporting their backwards political beliefs….I guess tax payers shouldn’t be allowed to preside in judgement over that right?

Like · Reply · 16 hrs

Michael Smith ·

Cincinnati, Ohio

What people do not seem to understand is that the evaluation system mandated by the Ohio State Legislature is horrifically flawed. The American Statistical Association has even stated that it has zero value in determining teacher merit.

The fundamental issue is that the state mandates the use of test scores but the calculation that translates these scores into merit is no more reliable than flipping a coin. They take each child’s score at the beginning of the year on their grade-level test, then project what the child would have to score at the “end” of the year (in reality a month or two b…See More

Like · Reply · 2 · Apr 24, 2015 11:41am

Sharon Constable Poe ·

Loveland High School

Until Ohio becomes a Right to Work state unions will control our schools! These people have no idea what it is like to have to sacrifice. Disgusting and shame on you Lakota teachers!

Like · Reply · 1 · Apr 24, 2015 8:18am

Joe Doerger

Yeah! Shame on you teachers for exercising your right to assemble peacefully according to the 1st Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America!

How DARE you?

Quick! Let’s pass some laws so they can’t do that. After all, LIBERTY, is only for someone else! And not teachers.

Like · Reply · 5 · Apr 24, 2015 9:03am

Don DeLotell ·

Miami University

Shame on you Sharon Poe for sticking your nose into Lakota Schools just like you did for so many of those years with Mason schools–you are from the Party of No and to think teachers haven’t sacrificed indicates how clueless of what a teacher actually does speaks volumes. If being a teacher is so good I would suggest you go get a college degree with a major in Education and after 4 years apply for the “dream job”.

Like · Reply · 3 · 23 hrs

Michael Croy

@Sharon- Can you share some examples of how teachers have no idea about what it is like to sacrifice?

Like · Reply · 1 hr

Ryan Pride ·

Front Ensemble Technician at Phantom Regiment

If you think basing pay off of merit (I.e. Test scores) holds teachers accountable, then you are ignorant on the subject. All tests do is measure how well a kid takes a test, not if they actually understood the information. Good teachers are being punished by standardized testing and are leaving the profession in droves. Would you trust someone to make a car seat for your child, but then argue that they’re paid too much to make a quality and safe product to protect your child? No? Well guess what, your child’s EDUCATOR (as in the person who provides information for them to use the rest of thei…See More

Like · Reply · 1 · 20 hrs

Alex Daniel ·

Cincinnati, Ohio

Let’s see:
-Irrationally equating the purchasing choice of a commercial commodity to the pay scale of a public sector worker….check. 

-blindly accusing parents of being absent from their child’s lives and pawning their education off on strangers…check.

-and presenting the boilerplate, ready-made response to the idea of actually having standards in performance evaluations for teachers….check. 

Seems you’ve hit all the bases of being a stooge for teacher’s unions. Congratulations.

Like · Reply · 16 hrs

Ryan Pride ·

Front Ensemble Technician at Phantom Regiment

Not being able to negate any of my points? Check. Mindlessly joining the ranks of critics who probably have zero teaching experience? Check. Attempting to belittle someone though intellectual masterbation? Double check. Being a “stooge” doesn’t make me wrong.

Like · Reply · 2 · 14 hrs

Kevin Lee Austin ·

System Administrator at Wright State University

Here is some interesting reading from 2011.

https://overmanwarrior.wordpress.com/…/pay-rate-for…/

Like · Reply · Apr 24, 2015 10:48am

Joe Shooner ·

Cincinnati, Ohio

I would guess, and this is truly a guess, that those numbers do not reflect their actual salary, but their cost to the disctrict. While they are related, it’s important to realize that any legitimate employer who pays taxes, medicare, and especially any type of health insurance, will incur a much higher “cost” for an employee than what that employee receives on their paycheck, even their gross wages. It varies, but an employer can easily have a cost of 25-40% haigher than the salary alone.

Like · Reply · Apr 24, 2015 11:08am

Joe Doerger

Sow what’s your point? Is it too much? Is it too little? Compared to what?

What do YOU make and why don’t YOU list it along with your name and other personal information? What are you afraid of?

Like · Reply · Apr 24, 2015 11:11am

Kevin Lee Austin ·

System Administrator at Wright State University

Joe Shooner Those are salaries, not salary plus benefits.

Like · Reply · Apr 24, 2015 11:12am

Show 2 more replies in this thread

Kevin Lee Austin ·

System Administrator at Wright State University

Must be a weekday. More grumbling from the Lakota teacher’s union.

Like · Reply · Apr 24, 2015 7:51am

Joe Doerger

I think it’s call “freedom of assembly.”

Like · Reply · 3 · Apr 24, 2015 10:16am

Alex Daniel ·

Cincinnati, Ohio

Joe Doerger; It’s called stealing tax payer dollars.

Like · Reply · 16 hrs

Nicol Neate

Golly, don’t the teachers use this in their own classes? You have to earn things in life, including raises. ~rolls eyes~ Our teachers are becoming priviledged group who think they dont have to answer to anyone. Well, our failing schools show they need to earn their check, like anyone else. Quit whining like you’d tell your students.

Like · Reply · Apr 24, 2015 8:22am

Joe Doerger

Oh those “privileged” teachers. With their desks and their tests. And their rooms with chairs. I guess that’s why EVERYONE is chucking their careers on Wall St. to get into classrooms as soon as possible. After all, THAT’S where the money is, right?

Like · Reply · 5 · Apr 24, 2015 9:07am

Michelle Langlois Wagner ·

West Chester Township, Butler County, Ohio

Even using your extremely flawed logic, Nicol, the schools in Lakota have repeatedly been identified as excellent with distinction-the very opposite of failing. You are simply demanding that teachers work hard for less pay, based on a system (merit pay) that has never been shown to work. Ever.

Like · Reply · 2 · Apr 24, 2015 11:53am

Maureen Basedow ·

10th grade science teacher at Cincinnati Public Schools

Michelle Langlois Wagner, I was a college professor before teaching high school. The absolute best local students at Miami and Xavier came from Lakota. Lakota was doing it right. The best local suburban high school by far, Nicol Neate. Now who should be paid for that?

Like · Reply · 17 hrs

 

 

http://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/2015/04/24/lakota-teachers-demonstrate-front-schools/26293313/

Probably the most common argument in favor of the public education system and the infinite pay the employees demand was from the Shooner person: “I’m a Lakota parent, and I fully support the idea of paying our teachers well. My kids are relying on that education, I consider it money well spent to retain and attract good teachers. I know my kids teachers. I see the cars they drive, I learn where they live. On paper, some district employees are doing very well – especially since most cost estimates I’ve seen include ALL benefits. As a person in a small business, I can tell you that a 40K salary can EASILY have a total cost of $60K if you factor in taxes, healthcare, etc. The majority of teachers are not getting rich off of this job.”  That guy thinks he has all the bases covered, he identifies himself as a person who understands the economics of the situation—he asserts the value the public education service has to him, then attempts to justify the value without any real substantial equity being used to balance out that value.  On the surface these people sound reasonable until you consider the implication of what they are putting forth.  40K per year is above the average wage rate in the United States—let alone 60K—so how much is a teacher worth?  That depends on whether or not you have school aged kids.  Youthful parents tend to be more neurotic on the issue whereas older people have learned the value of money and are more stringent.

The other argument that didn’t come up much in these comments, but ultimately are the last resort in such exchanges is that public schools should be appeased because our property values magically go up every year and that we should be willing to donate some of that value back into the schools so that these unionized employees can have the jackpot.  There are two problems with that situation, realtors—who are always some of the most vocal school levy advocates—use public schools to attract those lily pad hoppers who move to a district for the schools, then move away when the next fad hits—or they move in their career wanting to cash in on the increased value of their homes.  So using schools as a way to increase the value of a district’s real estate value is like taking a drug—the fix might be immediate and benefit the people who stay in a home for 5 to 7 years—but it penalizes investors who stick around for a decade or two—because the cycle of growth doesn’t sustain itself over time.  The other problem is that home values do not really increase—it is only through inflation that they appear to grow.  In the short run that money can be taxed, and loans can be taken out against that value, but it will not sustain itself for a decade or two.  Homes only increase in value if there are more people who want to buy that house in the future then the market will allow.  If everyone who wants a house can get one in the area of their choice, values won’t hold.  For instance, values hold in Indian Hill because there are limited homes per re-sale opportunity.  For every home that goes up for sale, there may be four buyers—hypothetically speaking.  However, in Lakota there are plenty of homes.  Builders have placed them under every tree, stream and school cross walk.  Currently there are a reasonable number of people who want to live in the Lakota district and it helps that there is commercial growth—but within the decade that will change.  There will be so many homes priced at the upper end of the market value that there might only be one or two buyers per home—putting the sales leverage on the buyer—not the seller.   Even though a home may be valued and taxed by the Lakota school system at $280,000 a buyer may only be willing to pay $210,000 for it.  If you don’t come down on that price the buyer will walk.  How does that cover a perceived investment?

I had a couple of sets of friends who lived in Four Bridges.  Their kids grew up; graduated from Lakota—then they moved away.  Their $300,000 to $500,000 homes sat on the market for over a year each and when they did sell; it was about 15% less than they wanted.  They had hoped to make money on those homes, but instead took a loss to move the units.  There just aren’t that many buyers out there who can buy a quarter million dollar home in the first place—let alone one in an area with a lot of competition.  If a potential buyer wants to move to an area to send their kids to Lakota schools—or Mason for that matter and a seller doesn’t come down on their price—there is a cookie cutter home down the road from a seller who will—so the leverage is gone from the homeowner leaving them to support every school levy that comes along hoping that more potential buyers in the future will maintain their increases in property value.  But most of the time it won’t.

Most parents who blindly support public school levies and the teachers who baby sit their kids fall in this category—only they never admit to it.  They hope and pray to make 20K to 30K on their home so they can downsize into a condo at some point in the future once their kids are grown, and live off the gains.  But it doesn’t work that way for most people.  If there are gains made, they are either absorbed by inflation, or taxes.  Or they are lost due to other circumstances leaving these current school levy supporters angry with themselves for supporting a levy a decade ago.

And that’s the situation that is coming to Lakota and Mason schools—and is why there are fewer people commenting these days on behalf of the greedy out-of-touch teachers.  Even with the growth of commercial enterprises—such as the new Liberty Center—there will be declining enrollment at Lakota as kids grow up and move away, but their parents stick around burnt by that same school plaguing them with buyer’s remorse.  Since the gains in property value will not be what those former supporters had hoped for, they will stay at Lakota and hold their properties and won’t want to support the schools because they won’t have kids in the school any longer.  That is the situation that the Lakota teachers are protesting as they expect to receive a higher than average wage in a community where the children are leaving, the parents are staying—and are bitter that their investment yield wasn’t what they had dreamed of.  And they will vote with their wallets—like people always do.  School supporters know they can get cheaper babysitting through the public school, so to them it’s a bargain.  But for those who don’t have kids in school, they want nothing to do with Lakota, or the taxes that spawn from it.

Those are just some things to consider.  I have watched this issue for a long time and its course is set and certain.  Yet in the comment section of the Enquirer are the same old tired diatribes that sound silly and out-dated now that there is more information to consider.  And that trend will only increase in subsequent years.  These are not the times of old where the teacher unions controlled the boards of newspapers and captured public opinion through guilt.  People are sick of these spoiled brats and the difference now from then is that they are willing to say it, just as Dan Varney did in the Enquirer article.  Nobody used to talk like that—but they do now—and that does not add up to success for the labor union position.  They are losing ground—quickly.

Rich Hoffman

 CLIFFHANGER RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT

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