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  1. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Deslok View Post
    Of course, my current source of frustration is the IB program. I teach IB Computer Science as well as Mathematics. And in their curriculum review, they decided to recommend out of the 150 hours or so of recommended class time, the time that needs to be allotted for teaching programming... 11 hours. So by fiat, one of my courses is about to become, well, useless.
    Yeah... I got an IB degree in 2000 from Canada, and higher-level computer science was an incredible waste of time. I am now a software engineer at Google and not one things I learned from IB computer science is relevant or useful. It was a frustrating class to take - I can only imagine how frustrating it would be to teach.

    I thought IB math was fine, although too rigid to compete with the strongest US math programs in high school.

  2. #22
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Durham, NC
    Getting away from the salary issues that have hijacked the thread, the whole story is a terrible indictment of our society as a whole. There is very little in the way of personal responsibility these days. Everyone with any problem cannot just take responsiblility for it. No one seems to recognize that there could be anything wrong with themselves or their children. You must have a disease! You can't help it! With kids, it's hard not to believe that so much of this stems from a general sense that we will easiily bruise children's self-esteem. Therefore, there are never any losers (everyone gets a trophy), dodgeball is bad (some kids will get hit with the ball and will feel bad), can't play tag on the playground (some kids will lose and feel bad), etc. Some schools have stopped giving tests since some kids will do poorly and feel bad about it and it will stunt their growth somehow. My god, where will this go next? Parents that think the schools are out to get them and label their child as different are missing the point! There are kids with issues! There are parents with issues! Maybe both need help. I put my kids in private school to avoid some of these issues but they exist there too. Thanks to the teachers who really care and are trying to fix the problems but my god, good luck! With the threat of getting sued for attempting to help kids, who's going to go the extra mile to do that? Hard not to believe we're not doomed.

  3. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by InSpades View Post
    And you used "average worker at Goldman" in your response. Do you have anything of substance to add to the conversation?
    I am not sure if he's right to doubt your figure (I do not claim to know off-hand what the true salary stats are for teachers in NJ), but Gus's point is perfectly clear if you know a little stats.

    When someone says the average teacher earns $58K, this usually means 50% of teachers earn at least $58K. In other words, the MEDIAN teacher salary is $58K.
    This is very different from saying the average teacher salary is $58K, which always means the MEAN teacher salary is $58K.

    Since the mean salary will always be higher (often much higher) than the median salary, and since most salary stats are mean not median, it's an important thing to pay attention to. It is not a small mistake, and it has tripped up many people before.

    I disagree vehemently with your overall point too, but the PP board is dead and I won't argue it here.
    Last edited by darthur; 04-25-2010 at 08:19 PM.

  4. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by darthur View Post
    I am not sure if he's right to doubt your figure (I do not claim to know off-hand what the true salary stats are for teachers in NJ), but Gus's point is perfectly clear if you know a little stats.

    When someone says the average teacher earns $58K, this usually means 50% of teachers earn at least $58K. In other words, the MEDIAN teacher salary is $58K.
    This is very different from saying the average teacher salary is $58K, which always means the MEAN teacher salary is $58K.

    Since the mean salary will always be higher (often much higher) than the median salary, and since most salary stats are mean not median, it's an important thing to pay attention to. It is not a small mistake, and it has tripped up many people before.

    I disagree vehemently with your overall point too, but the PP board is dead and I won't argue it here.
    I know plenty of stats, thanks for sharing though. Saying "average worker" is meaningless. You can claim it means median but that doesn't make it true. Regardless, it is nit-picking. Do you really think the median and the average teacher salary are that different? The average (which is the # I listed) is more meaningful to the discussion anyway.

    You can vehemently disagree all you want but you probably don't know much about the financial situation in NJ. I really don't want to get into a discussion about it either... especially when people throw out ridiculous lines like "most teachers work over 60 hours a week". The state of NJ voiced their opinion on taxes and school budgets recently... I tend to agree with the majority opinion.

  5. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by InSpades View Post
    I know plenty of stats, thanks for sharing though. Saying "average worker" is meaningless. You can claim it means median but that doesn't make it true.
    It's not true just because I said so. It's true because (a) it's the only meaning that makes any sense whatsoever in the context of a single stat (salary in our case), and (b) because that's how it's used, regardless of whether you find it philosophically objectionable.

    Regardless, it is nit-picking. Do you really think the median and the average teacher salary are that different? The average (which is the # I listed) is more meaningful to the discussion anyway.
    Mean vs median can make a huge difference.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Househo...es#Mean_income
    "Overall, the mean household income in the United States, according to the US Census Bureau 2004 Economic Survey, was $60,528, or $17,210 (39.73%) higher than the median household income."

    And no, mean is never the right stat to consider in politics. Mean is about the few top-paid people, median is about the many less-paid people. And in politics, the many is more important than the few. There's a reason you phrased your point the way you did it - what the "average" guy earns is what matters, and mean simply does not measure that.

    Now, in the case of New Jersey teaching salaries, the difference probably will be well under 40% because the range of salaries will be smaller. But the fact is you falsely quoted a stat at the beginning of your post, and then when called on it, you blew smoke and still haven't admitted your mistake. If you can't back down even where you are flat-out wrong, why should I or anyone else believe anything you have to say?

    especially when people throw out ridiculous lines like "most teachers work over 60 hours a week".
    If you think it's ridiculous, you have no idea what it's like to be a high school teacher.

  6. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by darthur View Post
    It's not true just because I said so. It's true because (a) it's the only meaning that makes any sense whatsoever in the context of a single stat (salary in our case), and (b) because that's how it's used, regardless of whether you find it philosophically objectionable.



    Mean vs median can make a huge difference.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Househo...es#Mean_income
    "Overall, the mean household income in the United States, according to the US Census Bureau 2004 Economic Survey, was $60,528, or $17,210 (39.73%) higher than the median household income."

    And no, mean is never the right stat to consider in politics. Mean is about the few top-paid people, median is about the many less-paid people. And in politics, the many is more important than the few. There's a reason you phrased your point the way you did it - what the "average" guy earns is what matters, and mean simply does not measure that.

    Now, in the case of New Jersey teaching salaries, the difference probably will be well under 40% because the range of salaries will be smaller. But the fact is you falsely quoted a stat at the beginning of your post, and then when called on it, you blew smoke and still haven't admitted your mistake. If you can't back down even where you are flat-out wrong, why should I or anyone else believe anything you have to say?



    If you think it's ridiculous, you have no idea what it's like to be a high school teacher.
    So you think that most teachers work more than 60 hours? I know plenty of teachers and none of them work 60 hours. The only one who comes close does so because he coaches sports (which is something he enjoys and is paid for).

    I already said that "average teacher" is meaningless. Which means I was wrong in saying it. I meant "the average salary of a NJ teacher". Are you happy now?

    The mean is absolutely the right stat to use in this argument. It shows how much we are spending on teacher salaries. If I told you the median was $55,000 and we had 100,000 teachers... then how much are we spending in all? You have no idea.

    I like how all of your examples of median being significantly different than mean involve comparing people who have entirely different jobs. These people all have the same job... they are all on the same pay scale. There's no one making a million dollars dragging the average up.

  7. #27
    I shouldn't be giving you such a hard time - I'm sorry. You obviously feel strongly about teacher salaries. I do too, but I don't want to argue about that. I was only annoyed by how glibly you rebuffed what I thought was a perfectly valid point.

    Quote Originally Posted by InSpades View Post
    So you think that most teachers work more than 60 hours? I know plenty of teachers and none of them work 60 hours. The only one who comes close does so because he coaches sports (which is something he enjoys and is paid for).
    No I don't - my phrasing there was important =). What I really think is it's close enough to be not ridiculous. Every teacher I have known works 60 hours or close to it. They are more dedicated than normal I'm sure, but they aren't getting paid much more than normal, and the statement is not so far off as to be ridiculous.

    I already said that "average teacher" is meaningless. Which means I was wrong in saying it. I meant "the average salary of a NJ teacher". Are you happy now?
    Happier. But the criticism was never that "average teacher" is meaningless. You might find it so, but everyone else who responded read it as "median teacher" or something very similar. That just IS what it means to most people, which means you shouldn't use it that way if it's not what you mean. Gus wasn't giving you a hard time because he thought your statement was imprecise. He was giving you a hard time because he thought it was wrong.

    The mean is absolutely the right stat to use in this argument. It shows how much we are spending on teacher salaries. If I told you the median was $55,000 and we had 100,000 teachers... then how much are we spending in all? You have no idea.
    You were responding to a quality of life complaint. If you tell me the mean is $55,000 and you have 100,000 teachers, then I have no idea what the quality of life is for most teachers.

    I like how all of your examples of median being significantly different than mean involve comparing people who have entirely different jobs.
    I had only one example and I specifically pointed out this problem. If I knew where to find a mean vs median salary stat for public school teachers in NJ, I would have said something about that instead. But you doubted that mean vs median matters, and I said all I could, which is it CAN matter.

  8. #28
    The median salary (w/o benefits) for an elementary teacher in NJ was about $55K in 2006. For high school only districts, about $65K. These are probably about 7-10% per cent higher now.

    The median teacher per pupil salary is about $7K, again without benefits.

  9. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by darthur View Post
    You were responding to a quality of life complaint. If you tell me the mean is $55,000 and you have 100,000 teachers, then I have no idea what the quality of life is for most teachers.
    If the average is $58,000 and the median is $40,000 then that is a problem with how the money is divided and not a problem with how much money there is to divide. I'm not speaking to qualify of life... just the amount that the NJ taxpayers are spending.

    Teachers that work very hard probably are underpaid, but that is a result of how their salaries are structured. There is no way to monetarily reward teachers who work hard and punish teachers who don't work hard. Should we pay them all like they work 60 hours even if they only work 40?

  10. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by InSpades View Post
    So you think that most teachers work more than 60 hours? I know plenty of teachers and none of them work 60 hours.
    My experience (I am a former central office administrator for a large urban school system and am currently employed in a nation-wide research study regarding school effectiveness) is that 60 may be a bit higher than my experience. Most high school teachers I know arrive about 45 minutes before the school day beginns and stay about 60 minutes after it ends (the more dedicated ones I know often stay 90 minutes late 4 days a week to offer after school tutoring). In addition, most I know work about 90 minutes each evening on average in grading and preparation. I'd think 50 hours a week is a minimum for most, with 60 being the very high end of average. For newer teachers the rate is usually quite a bit higher. Teaching the same course for a few years might reduce the preparation time you need to prepare lessons.

    Intertestingly, teachers who teach honors and AP courses often work fewer hours. If the course you teach has 6 or 7 students with disabilities mainstreamed in, and the other students range from those who struggle with the material to those who are dead-on average students, it takes a lot more time to be well prepared. Teachers who have advanced students often are able to assign interesteing work to already motivated students and therefore have less preparation to do ahead of time. It is also simpler to evaluate and grade outsanding work than work that is less than stellar. Of course, it is the veteran teachers who have worked their way up who get the honors and AP courses, and the beginner teachers who are still getting their sea-legs who get the tough classes. So in terms of work load/hours, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

  11. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by InSpades View Post
    If the average is $58,000 and the median is $40,000 then that is a problem with how the money is divided and not a problem with how much money there is to divide.
    A lot (a surprisingly large amount) of teachers leave within five years of joining the profession. So what you have in many school systems is a large group of beginner teachers (low on the salary scale) and a small group at the very upper end of the scale. You often don't have a typical distribution. That is what makes using mean or median difficult when discussing teacher salaries. In many preofessions you'll have an equal distribution of experience levels in a system. In teaching that is less true.

  12. #32
    Quote Originally Posted by allenmurray View Post
    A lot (a surprisingly large amount) of teachers leave within five years of joining the profession. So what you have in many school systems is a large group of beginner teachers (low on the salary scale) and a small group at the very upper end of the scale. You often don't have a typical distribution. That is what makes using mean or median difficult when discussing teacher salaries. In many preofessions you'll have an equal distribution of experience levels in a system. In teaching that is less true.
    Maybe in NJ things are different? According to recent news 29,000 teachers (about 20%) are already eligible for retirement. This came out because the teacher's union is saying they may all retire if changes are made to the existing retirement system. It has also been very difficult to get a teaching job in NJ over the past 5+ years (most new graduates are encouraged to go special ed or math/science in order to get a job). I'd bet that the NJ distribution is a lot further skewed (did I use that term right?) to higher ages than most states.

  13. #33
    Concerning the salary of teachers in NJ, here is a list of the distrcits with greater than $40K starting salary. As best I can tell, it includes every district that has a school (yes, we still have school districts in NJ that don't have schools, though about half of them were eliminated last year.)

    There are somewhat over 100 districts that have starting salaries of over $50,000.

    Of course, in addition, there are benefits and stipends for additional activities (club advisors, coaching, etc.)

    http://www.njea.org/pdfs/40Kminimum.pdf

  14. #34
    Uhm... so what am I supposed to get from this, other than it is a joke that a professional in one of the most important jobs our country has is paid about the same as my 19 year old cousin who, as a college junior, interned at Barclays getting coffee? I am sorry, but talk of 40k or 50k just makes me think "Wow, we really DON'T get paid enough for the crap we do."

    And as someone already said, 60 hours is not uncommon for a teacher. I am a vet at this point who knows his material inside and out and who FIRMLY believes that I am not going to kill myself with hours I don't get paid for (i.e. I don't put in as many hours as many) and I still usually work 55 hours a week.

    I think comparing myself to my fellow Duke grads is just fine, thanks much, since those are the people I share my background with

    Anyway... I think salaries and taxes was not the original point of the post... I think I was more lamenting how difficult some people make a profession that is already difficult enough, and how annoying it is that this happens so regularly. Just today I had another one... a parent who emailed me that her child was allowed to use calculators whenever she wants because of a documented disability. I promptly checked the documents; nothing. I did not let the child use a calculator since she had no documentation... only to be told bby the principal to go ahead ald let her, so the mom wouldn't sue the school. Again.

    *sigh*
    Last edited by Lord Ash; 04-26-2010 at 01:36 PM.

  15. #35
    Quote Originally Posted by InSpades View Post
    Maybe in NJ things are different? According to recent news 29,000 teachers (about 20%) are already eligible for retirement. This came out because the teacher's union is saying they may all retire if changes are made to the existing retirement system. It has also been very difficult to get a teaching job in NJ over the past 5+ years (most new graduates are encouraged to go special ed or math/science in order to get a job). I'd bet that the NJ distribution is a lot further skewed (did I use that term right?) to higher ages than most states.
    Probably true about NJ (and MA, PA, CT, and others). Many of these states are shrinking in need for teachers and it is hard for new teachers to get established there. I know NC recruits heavily in some of these states as college grads in these states can't find jobs close to home. However, nationally teachers skew toward the inexperienced as systems are constantly rehiring for those who leave after 3, 4, or 5 years.

  16. #36
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Ash View Post

    I think comparing myself to my fellow Duke grads is just fine, thanks much, since those are the people I share my background with
    Yes. Let's pay all teachers like they are Duke grads. That would make a lot of sense.

    If you didn't want your point to be confused then maybe you shouldn't have called your governor an idiot in your original post. Just an idea.

    I don't know how many hours you work per week. I do know that a lot of people do the minimum that is required of them to keep themselves employed.

  17. #37
    I think I would win points with Lord Ash. When my nephew would do his homework around me (elementary & middle school years as I recall), I would not let him use a calculator even though his teacher did. I asked him how he would know the calculator was correct if he didn't have some idea of what the answer should be. He finally wised up - and quit doing his math homework when I was around.

  18. #38
    Quote Originally Posted by InSpades View Post
    Yes. Let's pay all teachers like they are Duke grads. That would make a lot of sense.
    Funny, I never said anything about paying all teachers like they are Duke grads. You, of course, know the difference between "comparing salaries" and saying "I want what he gets."


    Quote Originally Posted by InSpades View Post
    If you didn't want your point to be confused then maybe you shouldn't have called your governor an idiot in your original post. Just an idea.
    Maybe you are correct about calling the governor an idiot leading off the topic... I admit, I am personally very upset over this issue. I guess I take it personally when the highest elected official in my state attacks me and my profession more vehemently than I can remember any government official, EVER, attacking a profession... especially a profession like teachers... blames me and my co-workers for the fiscal issues of my state, and then urges my fellow NJ residents to attack their own towns abilities to educate their kids. My bad.

    Quote Originally Posted by InSpades View Post

    I don't know how many hours you work per week. I do know that a lot of people do the minimum that is required of them to keep themselves employed.
    I guess I do not know the same people you do. I certainly don't know a single teacher, either at my school, my wife's school (also a teacher) or my mom's school (also a teacher!) who does the minimum to stay employed. Teaching is not a profession that you can do that in and survive. It is impossible; you only get paid for the hours you are contracted for, and there is no time to do anything other than direct instruction in that time.

    I suppose those people do exist in other professions... maybe I am just lucky to know mainly people are are determined and proud.


    Kansas, you would definitely. Sounds like you helped raise a smart nephew, too

  19. #39
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Ash View Post
    I guess I do not know the same people you do. I certainly don't know a single teacher, either at my school, my wife's school (also a teacher) or my mom's school (also a teacher!) who does the minimum to stay employed. Teaching is not a profession that you can do that in and survive. It is impossible; you only get paid for the hours you are contracted for, and there is no time to do anything other than direct instruction in that time.

    I suppose those people do exist in other professions... maybe I am just lucky to know mainly people are are determined and proud.
    So your premise is that teachers (who can't be fired due to tenure and also don't get raises based on performance) work harder than people in other jobs who can be fired for working too little and can be rewarded with raises for outstanding performance?

    Exactly what would happen to a teacher who did the minimum to stay employed after reaching tenure? How would they "not survive"? I had a teacher in high school who would come into class most days and read to us out of the textbook. He seemed to survive just fine. There are gym teachers making $90k+ in NJ. How much prep work do you have to do for that?

    I can see why you would be defensive about teacher salaries in NJ. If my entire household income was based on it I would probably see things differently too.

  20. #40
    I'll respond more later (I have a meeting to run to) but again, I think you are drawing conclusions from what I am saying that I am not really intending. I CERTAINLY don't think teachers necessarily work harder than anyone else. I do, however, think they are barely properly compensated for their work, and I do think it is a job that will basically chew up and spit out anyone who approaches it without a willingness to put in a lot of extra work. I think you also have a somewhat unrealistic view about tenure and the rest. .. but I'll maybe explain it more later

    Unfortunately, as you note, both my wife and I are teachers, and living in a very expensive state (although off in the mountains and woods of that state so what is happening right now in education is a very "important" issue for us both, especially moving forward as she might be out of work to have a child soon and then go back into the system as a "new" hire, where a lot of the "damage" is being done. Apparently we are about to discuss a potential pay freeze as well at the meeting I am running off to... good fun!

    I honestly will try to cut back any snarky-ness that peeks through; just know that if it does, it is very much tied into my family situation and that I do view teaching as a very "noble" profession

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