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Florida Enacts Law Revamping Teacher Work Rules

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While teachers and other activists protested Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s actions vigorously and loudly in Madison in recent weeks, Florida’s newly elected governor, Republican Rick Scott, and the Republican-dominated Florida Legislature quietly ushered through precedent-shattering and radical new legislation which will dramatically change the rules under which that state’s teachers will work.

Florida Senate Bill 736 was signed into law by Governor Scott yesterday. It became the first new law Scott has enacted in his governorship, and it is already drawing the ire of teacher union officials, both within Florida and at the national level.

Predictably, the bill, which eliminates tenure for new hires, establishes merit pay and mandates teacher effectiveness evaluations based on student test scores, is being roundly criticized by union stalwarts such as American Federation of Teachers (AFT) president Randi Weingarten, who said in a statement, “Scott and his allies have rammed through legislation that will undermine Florida’s students and their public schools.It silences teachers, who are closest to our kids in the classroom; imposes compensation and evaluation systems that have failed to advance learning when tried elsewhere.”

Mark Pudlow, spokesman for the Florida Education Association (FEA) added, “There’s just so many problems with it. It’s a terribly unfunded mandate.” Pudlow added that the FEA has not yet decided whether it will challenge the new bill in court, “We’re looking at all the options right now,” he said.

Michelle Rhee, former chancellor of the Washington, D.C. school district, where she became the focal point of a storm of controversy generated by her firing of 241 under-performing teachers and placing 737 more on probation for a year, said of the new Florida law, “This landmark bill recognizes that teachers are the most important factor in schools when determining a child’s success,” Rhee founded and now runs a national child educational advocacy group called StudentsFirst. Rhee was featured prominently in the hard-hitting documentary, Waiting for “Superman” last year, and was among Governor Scott’s first hires (as a consultant on education) upon taking office.

Florida Senate Bill 736 was first introduced two years ago, and had been slowly wending its way through the legislative process since. An education foundation lead by former governor Jeb Bush presented the first iteration of it in 2009, and the second instance of the bill was later vetoed by former governor Charlie Crist. Some observers credit that veto as being instrumental in Crist’s losing his bid for a second term to Rick Scott, a newcomer to politics.

By contrast, upon taking office, Scott moved quickly to get the bill passed and promptly signed it, saying in a prepared statement, “I am proud that the first bill I sign is this important legislation that will give Florida the best-educated work force to compete in the 21st century economy. We must recruit and retain the best people to make sure every classroom in Florida has a highly effective teacher.’’

Scott, a proponent of charter schools, signed the bill at Jacksonville’s KIPP Middle School, which is run by the Knowledge Is Power Program, a national charter school organization.

The Associated Press notes in a report that, “The GOP-controlled Legislature put the bill on a fast track and passed it just a week after this year’s regular legislative session began. It passed the House on a party-line vote and the Senate with just one Democrat in favor and only two Republicans against.

According to The Miami Herald, “…the new law is one of the most far-reaching of its kind in the nation and one of the biggest shakeups in the history of Florida public schools.”

Senate 736 allows for a three year implementation period for some of its most controversial aspects, including the new pay scales. This will allow the state to devise solutions to problems arising as a result of Senate Bill 736, and it also allows individual school districts to delay the start of the new pay rules if they don’t have money available.

Florida, often scornfully described by wits as “God’s waiting room” because of its large population of retirees, has once again defied the pundits, this time moving to the forefront of the national battle to improve America’s education system.

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About Clavos

Raised in Mexico by American parents, Clavos is proudly bi-cultural, and considers both Spanish and English as his native languages. A lifelong boating enthusiast, Clavos lives aboard his ancient trawler, Second Act, in Coconut Grove, Florida and enjoys cruising the Bahamas and Florida Keys from that base. When not dealing with the never-ending maintenance issues inherent in ancient trawlers, Clavos sells yachts to finance his boat habit, but his real love (after boating, of course) is writing and editing; a craft he has practiced at Blogcritics since 2006.
  • Glenn Contrarian

    I largely agree with the new rule. One of my concerns with merit pay for teachers based on student performance has been the factors that are outside the teachers’ control. The L.A. Times notes that

    The state plans to develop a “value-added” system to judge teacher quality with test-score data but take into account factors outside a teacher’s control, such as a student’s absentee rate.

    As long as this is done properly, I have no problem with rewarding (or dismissing) teachers based on the performance of their students…but it’s going to be a very tricky system, and hopefully one with an effective appeal process.

    That, and I think the tenure system – though it has its benefits – can go away, too.

    But does this negate the need for a teachers’ union and collective bargaining? Certainly not, and it’s not always about pay! The great majority of teachers DO want their students to succeed, and one of the things that collective bargaining enables the teachers to do is to agitate for smaller class sizes and safer working environments.

    Get rid of tenure and institute merit pay, fine. Allow the districts to fire poorly-performing teachers despite what the teachers’ union thinks, YES! But to take away the teachers’ union is to take away the voice of those who work hardest to educate our kids, and we’d be fools to silence them.

    So for the most part I support the law…but I am concerned if it is taken too far.

  • Clavos

    Well, how about that, Glenn? we actually agree with each other — completely — on this issue.

  • http://www.indyboomer46.blogspot.com Baritone

    Cough, choke, spittle! :-D

    B

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    Thanks – after dealing with a few tenured yet less-than-professional teachers, I became somewhat jaded at the teachers’ union’s intransigence, their refusal to allow these teachers to be fired when they really, truly needed to be fired.

    When it comes to unions overall, I take the same attitude as before – moderation in everything. The unions, if allowed, will not only price their business out of the market by demanding too-high wages, but even worse, will control the local labor market.

    Anti-union Big Business, on the other hand, will try its best to get away with paying their employees as little in wages and benefits as they can get away with…

    …and Big Business has been winning for three decades now.

    But it’s time for some pull-back, for some moderation and common sense. For the most part, the new law in Florida sets a good example of how unions and business could meet halfway and both profit.

  • Doug Hunter

    I’m always skeptical of ideas like this, what gets lost in the mix and Glenn mentioned briefly, are the things outside the teacher’s control including students natural abilities and home environment which are often overlooked in the debate about teachers. There’s the potential of an idea in there somewhere but it needs to be cleverly implemented to measure teacher performance not who got assigned the least number of troubled students.

    If it can be controlled to actually measure teacher performance then it’s a fantastic idea but the devil’s in the details, if it simply punishes those who worked the the most challenging students it’ll be an utter disaster. As I said, I’m a bit skeptical and feel they’ll have a hard time separating the two. Another issue is the fact that if your pay and especially job are dependent on it, wouldn’t teachers have some strange incentive to get poor students out of the classroom into special classes, etc.

    I’ll be interested to see the results, this is exactly why we should be doing things on a state by state basis rather than federal.

  • Doug Hunter

    I suppose if they set a baseline on the performance of the group of students from the previous year they could make it work. People with poor students or those that are already behind would have a lower baseline to start from and be judged accordingly. I’ll see if I can find out specifics of the plan.

  • Clavos

    Doug, I spent thirty years in business as a manager with hire/fire responsibilities. Methods of devising criteria by which to measure job performance objectively and fairly are as numerous and varied as the jobs needing to be evaluated. Entire econometric firms are dedicated to that endeavor, and I’m sure it can be done fairly and equitably.

  • Boeke

    It’ll never work. In every school I’ve seen the administration is at war with the teachers, and as long as the relationship is employer-employee between them (and that invariably means the admin is the employer and the teachers are their employees) the best teachers get outright fired or become discouraged and leave.

    Anytime you institute premium pay for good teachers the principals and admins will start poaching on that money, as prompted by their egos and insecurities. the only defense teachers have are unions and teachers associations and tenure, and all rightists are devoted to doing away with hose tools.

    Supposing you turn around the teacher-administrator relationship so that teachers are the employers and administrators are the employees. Then the teachers tell Michelle Rhee what her requirements are for raising money, building schools, creating community and parent support, etc., then fire her if she fails to deliver.

    After all, the purpose of the school is to educate, to provide a place for teachers and students to come together in the learning process, NOT to be a rung on the ladder for aggressive middle-managers eager to try out half-baked ideas and give pep talks to political partisans for large speaking fees and go on to marry the mayor of a major US city.

  • Doug Hunter

    #7

    I’ll be happy to see the results then. I think doing it on the state level is a good proving ground before we roll something like this out nationwide.

  • Clavos

    It’ll never work.

    If you’re right about the administrators, and to a great degree I think you are, then Florida has to start by evaluating and ridding itself of the deficient administrators (most of whom are former teachers, not trained managers), that’s all.

    It works well in other industries/professions, there’s no reason it can’t work in the school system.

    Leading people in a work situation is not for everyone, but it’s not impossible either; it’s done every day, all over the world — it can be done in our schools, but first the parameters must be changed and the old, bad habits eradicated from the workplace.

    Scott has made a good start; I’m pleased it’s happening here first.

  • http://www.gwbush.blogspot.com RJ

    Good article. One error: Charlie Crist didn’t lose reelection for Governor. He ran for Senate instead, and lost a three-way race to Marco Rubio. Rick Scott won a close gubernatorial election against debate cheat Alex Sink.

  • Boeke

    Risk Scott comes to office with a bad reputation for Big Spending and corruption. Some call him an unindicted conspirator for his HCA operations.

    News article

    FALSE BOOKS KEPT
    Ex-Employee Details Fraud in Rick Scott’s Health Care Firm

    By ZAC ANDERSON
    Sarasota Herald-Tribune

    Published: Thursday, August 19, 2010 at 10:59 p.m.

    John Schilling had never seen such opulence.

    Growing up in a small brick house outside Milwaukee, the son of a machinist, Schilling felt as if he were in the presence of royalty in 1994 when his new boss, Rick Scott, gripped his hand and welcomed the junior accountant in a rented tuxedo to the black-tie event.

    Women in miniskirts and white go-go boots danced in suspended bird cages to “Love Shack” by the B-52s. Ice sculptures filled the room.

    Back then, Scott, now a Republican candidate for governor, was head of the world’s largest health care company. Such parties — including a bash at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg — could cost up to $100,000 and were a standard company tactic for wooing physicians and encouraging lucrative hospital referrals.

    What Schilling was to discover — the discovery would, in fact, change his career and cast a shadow that nearly 20 years later hangs over the gubernatorial race — is that Columbia/HCA hospitals had been billing U.S. taxpayers for a variety of expenses that Medicare did not cover, including lavish parties, gifts and other perks to physicians, Schilling said.

    Scott’s hospitals kept a double set of books. The one with inflated costs was sent to Medicare. The list of legitimate expenses, often marked “Confidential: Do Not Show to Medicare Auditors,” was kept for internal recordkeeping, Schilling testified in court.

    Physicians received Super Bowl tickets and hunting trips in violation of laws against kickbacks. The list of non-reimbursable items Scott’s employees submitted to Medicare was staggering and eventually contributed to a record $1.7 billion penalty and 14 fraud convictions. It also cost Scott his job.

    Although Columbia/HCA ran hospitals across the nation, the fraud case originated in Southwest Florida. Schilling’s whistleblower complaint stemmed from a questionable Medicare reimbursement at a hospital in Port Charlotte and later expanded to include Medicare reimbursement practices at Doctors Hospital of Sarasota, Englewood Community Hospital and all 340 hospitals in the Columbia/HCA Healthcare chain at the time.

    Scott often says on the campaign trail that he takes responsibility for his company’s fraudulent billing practices. He says he should have hired more auditors to ferret out problems.

    Schilling, who, as it happens, lives just a few miles from Scott, said Scott’s explanation scarcely addresses his culpability.

    “He definitely condoned the practices that were going on,” Schilling, 48, said this week in an interview at home. “He was driven by financial greed.”

    HELD ACCOUNTABLE

    The fraud case involving Columbia/HCA has been a major issue in Florida’s governor race. Bill McCollum, Scott’s rival for the GOP nomination, accuses Scott of perpetuating a culture of fraud that makes him unfit to hold the state’s highest office.

    Florida is often cited as a center of Medicare fraud, and it looks like Rick Scott was doing his part to contribute to that fraud.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Firing ‘bad’ teachers is a simplistic solution. Finding, recruiting and motivating good teachers is even more important.

    Really gifted teachers are all too rare. Diane Ravitch and others in a position to know say that really bad teachers are relatively rare too.

    Gov. Scott, who is also eliminating tax breaks for the poor while making sure breaks stay in place or are increased for the rich, is not likely to be sympathetic to the argument advanced by Ravitch and others that poverty is a much bigger issue for public schools than bad teachers.

    The people making this argument rarely bother to acknowledge that many/most teachers work very hard, and that their competence is just one factor among many. Demonizing them over and over is just offensive rhetoric, not a step toward practical long-term solution.

  • Clavos

    Demonizing them over and over is just offensive rhetoric, not a step toward practical long-term solution.

    First, I “demonized” no one in the article. Furthermore I have read very few criticisms of the teachers themselves, most such (including my own) are aimed at the system, in particular the work rules imposed by the unions.

    Second, I agree with you when you say, “Finding, recruiting and motivating good teachers is more important…”. In fact, it’s damn near impossible to recruit and motivate superior people when you have no incentives to offer in exchange for superior work, which is the situation that prevails today, and why I advocate instituting merit pay.

    Diane Ravitch and others in a position to know say that really bad teachers are relatively rare too.

    In light of the fact that most who say that are themselves teachers and/or union officials, it’s hard to take them at their word, but regardless, mediocre (not just “really bad”) teachers should be unacceptable as well; we should settle for nothing less than “good,” “better,” and “outstanding.”

    Teachers hold not only the futures of their students in their hands, they, almost more than any other ordinary citizens, help determine the future of the society as well.

  • Clavos

    RJ,

    You are, of course, absolutely right; thanks for pointing that out.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    I believe Scott is an extremist [who in addition has serious ethics issues in his past], and I fear he will drag Florida down a destructive path, so I distrust most everything he supports. Sort of like you and Obama.

  • Clavos

    Funny, I see Scott as a true breath of fresh air who will do Florida a lot of good.

    Do you live in Florida, handy?

  • Boeke

    Well, with teacher unions out of the way and no tenure, the school system will be free to drive teacher salaries down to minimum wage. What’s that, $10 an hour? That should dry up the supply of teachers. Who would go to the trouble of becoming a teacher?

    Seems to me our society just spent trillions bucking up the incomes of our billionaire financiers with fabulous bailouts, while we stand ready to cut the throats of teachers, who, after all, are entrusted with something even more important than our 401Ks, namely, our children.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    No, I don’t live in Florida, just a political junkie here. I’m in NYC. Scott may indeed be refreshing after icky spray-tan creepy crawler Charlie Crist, but his tunnel-vision rigidity on taxes and spending, his tea-party-pleasing ideological ‘purity,’ and as I said, his ethical issues, are disturbing and could lead to disaster.

    We need flexible, non-ideological problem solvers in government. [This is of course how I see Obama and how I think he sees himself.]

  • califdreamin

    The downward spiral of teachers in Florida has officially begun. Who, pray tell, in their right mind, would want to teach in Florida now. It’s too bad. Florida WAS ranked fifth in the nation. Just give this a few years and Florida will be near the bottom because all the good teachers will leave for states that appreciate them.

  • Cannonshop

    Boeke, most post-graduate professions pay more than minimum wage-(well, not the military, but most others).

    Most private schools are also non-union, seems to me that your chicken-little act doesn’t hold up. The only reason you need collective bargaining, is when the people you represent aren’t able to negotiate (usually due to ignorance) their own contracts, or when (like wiht, say, Boeing) the company/employer benefits from having a single ‘package deal’ in the HR department outlining work rules and grievance processes to avoid lawsuits.

    So…the question I GOTS to ask (Aks? should I be using Ebonics?) is this:

    Are you so sure that Fla. Teachers (most of whom have at minimum a BACHELOR’s DEGREE) aren’t smart enough, or good enough at instructing/discussing/negotiating, to manage a decent living wage when up against a community-college AA (at best) or (at worst) high-school graduate from the district interviewing them for the position?

    If someone IS that inept, do you REALLY want to have them “educating” your children?

  • Boeke

    It’s not a matter of smarts, it’s a matter of power. Doesn’t matter how much you know if you have no position of power to negotiate from. And if you are just a cog in the wheel (in the eyes of HR) you have no power.

    The hiring authority, whether a school administration or a corporation, has a huge powerful organization behind them. Numbers count, organization counts, so if you strip power from one side by disallowing organization, you’ve tilted the bargaining scales in favor of management.

    Us old management guys can figure that out, so I suppose others can figure that out, too.

  • Quandam Amicus

    Does this imply that educators might actually have to exhibit an interest in teaching? If this becomes a trend, MD’s might be forced to enter medicine with empathy in their hearts, rather than tee-times and sports cars.

  • Cannonshop

    #22 Boeke, the power’s a matter of supply versus demand, then-if the supply is great enough, there won’t be much demand-so prices go down, but if the supply is SMALL, demand for a good like Education becomes high.

    So, I guess I’m wondering, are there so many unqualified yet properly certified applicants? How low ARE the standards to become a “Teacher” Boeke, that your available pool is so large that it can push wages “To Minimum Wage” in the field?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    C-shop –

    That’s easily answered. You get what you pay for. If you pay teachers with a master’s degree less than what an MBA would earn, then why would anyone want to be a teacher?

    Why would someone put themselves through six years of post-secondary education and tens of thousands of dollars of loans to take a job where they could not afford to buy a house and live a decent middle-class life? If you want the best applicants to be teachers, then you’ve got to be willing to pay them very well. IIRC, that was one of Michelle Rhee’s changes when she took over in Washington D.C.

    So, yeah, I support most provisions of the Florida law…but if you want great teachers, then you’re going to have to RAISE TAXES and pay them what they’re worth!

  • Clavos

    If you pay teachers with a master’s degree less than what an MBA would earn, then why would anyone want to be a teacher?

    …And a scarcity of applicants would, of course, result in wages going up.

    Supply and demand — applies to wages as it does to prices.

  • Heloise

    Doug wrote: “I’m always skeptical of ideas like this, what gets lost in the mix and Glenn mentioned briefly, are the things outside the teacher’s control including students natural abilities and home environment which are often overlooked in the debate about teachers.”

    Well Doug teachers are taught a thing or two before they get in the classroom. And exactly what you have outlined they are taught that these are “excuses.” In other words that old saw: all kids can and will learn.

    Teachers have no cushion to fall back on, and no laurels to rest on from the getgo. In fact a principal here was fired for the double standard she spoke over the PA and said that 8 black boys kept the school from getting off the AYP list (or the bad list).

    The black parents took her down and within two weeks she had to resign under fire. It was a double standard for her to mention what teachers cannot: where you came from or the color of your skin. In Texas, black skin still carries with it the stigma of stupidity.

    The real problem is that teaching is a career or job and not a profession. Teachers do not go on to professional schools, like nursing, law or medical school. It is a job where you must have ONLY a BA or BS in order to teach. The standards and the pay is low in most rural areas.

    This is where other countries have us beat. Teaching is more of a profession.

    As for the job of administrators: they are the policeman of the schools, yes former teachers, with more training. They work hard though. Most schools could do without them if there were NO discipline problems. They do not exist in Catholic schools, except for the head nun, at least when I was in elementary and high school.

    Heloise

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    Actually, the law of supply and demand does not work in every case. Witness the dearth of science and math teachers we’ve had over the years – did it result in higher wages for the science and math teachers we have now?

    No.

    If we look at the countries where the students score much higher than we do, they do not see teachers as a matter of ‘supply and demand’, but as a crucial part of society that needs to be protected, honored…and paid well. But here in America, it’s starting to seem as if teachers are seen by many as leeches, parasites on society because they’re not businesspeople, but instead receive their paychecks from the taxpayer.

    Yes, hold teachers accountable. Yes, fire the underperforming teachers (please!). Yes, get rid of the tenure system that allows underperforming teachers to coast once they’ve gained tenure. But pay the rest of them very well…and pay them enough that the money will attract the best and the brightest from our universities!

    After all – whose worth is greater? A lawyer? Or a Wal-Mart manager? Or a teacher?

  • Heloise

    Teaching is a service, just short of flipping hamburgers in a fast food place and not a business. I don’t think they will ever be paid well in our society.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    But that doesn’t me we shouldn’t try our best to support them getting better pay – through our votes, if nothing else.

  • Clavos

    Actually, the law of supply and demand does not work in every case. Witness the dearth of science and math teachers we’ve had over the years – did it result in higher wages for the science and math teachers we have now?

    Lack of demand, Glenn. American kids shy away from science and math, thus, a lack of demand for science and math teachers.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    #31 – that sounds wack to me. Any documentation? The need for more specialist teachers, especially in elementary schools and middle/junior high schools in poor neighborhoods, has been a much repeated mantra.

  • Doug Hunter

    #27

    I couldn’t make heads or tails of what you were saying in regards to my comment, whether agreeing or disagreeing. It’d be interesting to do a study by placing many of who we believe to be the absolute best teachers available in a poor performing school district and monitor the results over time compared to control groups.

  • Clavos

    Handy:

    that sounds wack to me. It IS wack — but, unfortunately, true.

    Any documentation? Oh yeah. See below.

    The need for more specialist teachers, especially in elementary schools and middle/junior high schools in poor neighborhoods, has been a much repeated mantra. Repeated by whom? Science and math teachers trying to create a market?

    Documentation #1 says, in part:.

    A common aversion to math and science by American students is well known. “It’s boring” or “It’s too hard” are among frequently cited reasons given by students.

    Documentation #2 says in part:

    In order for this country to compete effectively in the global economy, American educators have been charged with the daunting challenge of improving student math and science skills, even as student interest in traditional math and science courses is trending downward.

    Documentation #3 says, in part:

    In a nation that seems to have a cultural aversion to tackling “hard” subjects like math and science, can those numbers be achieved?

    Documentation #4 (A teacher’s blog) says, in part:

    After some thought, I decided to write a letter based on my experiences giving books to kids at the food pantry, and the unabated gender gap I see in kids’ interest in science and math. Sure, the older kids are computer users, but computers are fun personal devices; they still display an aversion to math and science, especially the non-biological sciences. A few boys get drawn in by technology, but I don’t see it in girls. [I have a small sample size, I admit, and it is a rural area.]

    Documentation #5 says, in part:

    In most countries, math literacy is expected, but in the United States it seems socially acceptable to say “I hate math.” Many citizens and parents are complacent about math education. For instance, a 2007 poll of Kansas and Missouri parents conducted by Public Agenda found that only 25 percent thought their children should be studying more math and science; 70 percent “think things are fine as they are now.”

    In raw numbers, the U.S. actually produces far fewer math majors today than the country did in the 1970s (see graphic), despite large increases in overall college enrollments. Math-averse students are missing out. A 2009 ranking by Careercast.com found that America’s top three jobs, based on income, employment outlook stress, work environment and physical demands, were: 1) mathematician; 2) actuary; and 3) statistician.

    Need I go on?

    Google it yourself; there are lots of references to the aversion on the part of the students to both math and the sciences.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Math and science are still required subjects in elementary, middle and high schools, whether kids are ‘averse’ to them or not. And college-bound students are not going to stop taking science and math if it is required to graduate. [Lower numbers of science and math students in college are a different matter; and indeed that might be related to a shortage of specialized teachers.]

    Your long response didn’t really address your assertion that fewer math and science teachers are needed.

  • Clavos

    Math and science are still required subjects in elementary, middle and high schools,…

    Aversion means they not only don’t like them, they don’t take them. It is entirely possible to graduate high school these days with far fewer math and science credits than were required years ago.

    As this study shows, increasingly, high school students are not required to take math beyond algebra 1 and geometry for graduation.

    Actually, math beyond first year geometry or algebra 1 is less and less required these days, as are science disciplines such as Physics and Chemistry, both of which I took in high school decades ago.

    The sources I linked in my previous comment confirmed these points.

    Your long response didn’t really address your assertion that fewer math and science teachers are needed.

    No, not directly, I thought given the proof that fewer students enroll in math nd science courses beyond the bare requirements for graduation made it obvious that there is less demand for teachers in those disciplines.

    I’m astonished that you defend the present state of American education so vigorously, handy, when voice after voice (including those of educators) is being raised these days pointing out just how deficient on so many levels our educational system is.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    I’m not defending the status quo. But ideological approaches to this very complex issue could make things worse instead of better.

    If it’s true that lower graduation requirements have led to less need for science and math teachers, shame on whoever did that. We should raise the requirements and add teachers as necessary.

    I like Arne Duncan, I like Michelle Rhee, I like Diane Ravitch. I even mostly like Randi Weingarten. They are all smart and they all care. They should be meeting regularly to come up with workable solutions, since a combination of their ideas and approaches may have a chance of working.

  • Clavos

    If it’s true that lower graduation requirements have led to less need for science and math teachers, shame on whoever did that. We should raise the requirements and add teachers as necessary.

    Quoted for Truth.

    I like Arne Duncan, I like Michelle Rhee, I like Diane Ravitch. I even mostly like Randi Weingarten. They are all smart and they all care. They should be meeting regularly to come up with workable solutions, since a combination of their ideas and approaches may have a chance of working.

    Ditto.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Rachel Maddow had a segment tonight on authoritarian conservatism vs libertarian conservatism.

    She said Rick Scott is calling for mandatory drug testing, quarterly, for all state employees. Say what?! Craziness.

  • Boeke

    There is no Law Of Supply and Demand. There’s a tendency of supply and demand, but no such law. Trying to call it a law is to try to create a spurious linkage to legitimize guesswork.

  • Clavos

    Deny it all you want, Boeke, but Supply and Demand are the very basis of economics, and they DO follow easily traceable (and predictable) paths as economic conditions change.

    If you don’t like “Law,” no problem; we can call it the “Green and Purple Spotted Giraffe” of Supply and Demand — doesn’t change anything.

    However, these sources choose to call it a law:

    Here

    And here

    Google it. There are dozens of institutions, both in th business and the academic worlds that choose to call it a “law.”

  • Boeke

    Sorry, Clavos, your citations are as superficial and naive as you appear to be.

    For example: “A. The Law of Demand
    The law of demand states that, if all other factors remain equal, the higher the price of a good, the less people will demand that good.”

    First year Econ students at good universities, know the familiar counter-example that disproves this presumption: during the Irish potato famine, as the price of potatoes rose the demand rose!

    And all other factors remained equal (thus obviating the Economists usual excuse of ‘externalities’).

    Shocking!

    As an exercise for the student: see if you can figure out why.

  • Clavos

    Sorry, Clavos, your citations are as superficial and naive as you appear to be.

    Thanks for your response, Boeke. In my naiveté, I thought you would look further and see that the idea of a Law of supply and demand is as widely held as the Theory of evolution.

    First year Econ students at good universities, know the familiar counter-example that disproves this presumption: during the Irish potato famine, as the price of potatoes rose the demand rose!

    I received my degree from the University of South Florida, which is probably no one’s idea of a “good university,” but I did notice that you deviously left out the other half of the equation, Boeke, it is, after all the Law of Supply and Demand. And, what happened in the Irish potato famine, of course, was that “all other factors” did not “remain equal,” the supply plummeted, (it was a famine) which naturally resulted in rising prices, and because the potato crop was the principal source of nourishment in 19th century Ireland and people must eat to stay alive, so as the price of potatoes rose as a result of the diminishing supply, the demand remained strong, as the people began to cut out other foodstuffs they could no longer afford, seeking more and more potatoes against the diminishing supply.

    But here, don’t take my word for it, let The Economist explain it to you.

    You disprove nothing. I took the same Econ courses.