Sunday, June 18, 2017
The New York Post Blames Teacher Benefits For Student Failure, Rather Than The Real Reason - The Socialeconomic Factors.
I read today's New York Post article on how much the City spends on each student and they questioned why student academic achievement doesn't match the money spend? Of course they blamed teacher salaries, fringe benefits, and pensions as the major reason that students are not showing significant improvement. For some reason they believe there is a direct one to one relationship between the two. Nothing is further from the truth. There is little correlation between the two. Admittedly, they did mention how the DOE lacks transparency and awards questionable contracts. However, the article primarily blamed the teachers contract and our benefits for the lack of student achievement.
Nowhere in the article did the paper mention how the schools are only funded at 89% of their proper funding, nor did it mention that New York City class sizes are the highest in the State, or that the perverse "fair student funding" formula forces schools to hire "the cheapest and not the best teachers" for the students. Finally, the article totally ignored the social-economic factors that studies showed account for 80% of a student's growth. By contrast, teachers make up between 1% and 14% of a student's growth.
Blaming teacher benefits for the lack of student academic achievement is simply scapegoating the teachers when the problems lie with the family, community, and peers. Moreover, when schools are not fully funded, and students are exposed to a merry go round of "newbie" teachers who lack classroom management skills and strong curriculum knowledge, and are subject to high teacher turnover. Who's fault is that? The teachers? Or the policies and ideology that find over a 1,300 veteran teachers being used as babysitters rather than providing students with effective teachers and significantly lower class sizes?
While our salaries have improved over the years, its also true we have given the City extensive "givebacks" a longer day, senseless professional development, administrative micromanagement, and our TDA was reduced by 1.25%. Furthermore, Nobody believes that a 10% raise for seven years is considered excessive. While we have slightly closed the salary gap with the suburbs, we still are at the bottom when it comes to the salary scale and the City classroom is a much more stressful environment than the smaller class sizes of the suburbs.
Unfortunately, scapegoating teachers and ignoring all the other factors that negatively affect student academic achievement is plain wrong. Eliminating deep poverty, homelessness, and keeping families intact would go a long way in improving student academic achievement. Moreover, fully funding schools, eliminating "fair student funding" and reducing class sizes would also help improve student educational outcomes. Finally, reducing the bloated DOE Bureaucracy and transfer the funds to the schools will ensure that the schools are fully resourced and that students, especially Special Education students, would be provided with the services they need to succeed academically.