SM Daily Journal: Battle over teacher pay gets worse

The latest news on the local K-8 San Mateo-Foster City School District’s salary dispute is in today’s San Mateo Daily Journal at:

http://www.smdailyjournal.com/news/local/battle-over-teacher-pay-gets-worse/article_deebe4a6-c50f-11e7-a627-07275e2bcb98.html

I posted the following comment which appears after the article there.  The libertarian bots are also already replying with anti-tax calls.


Instead of comparing average salaries between the districts, one should look at the salary scales that are posted online at each district’s website.

We need to funnel more money to the teachers who are starting out in the profession, not those who are at the top of the pay scale and on the verge of retirement (which will mainly top off pensions, not benefit students). New teachers are the ones who are struggling to find housing; their elders are much more likely to already live in the area.

The current practice is to give everyone the same percentage increase. This funnels the most money to the people at the top.

Instead, the district should increase the salary tiers to be competitive with neighboring districts. I have written about these problems at length in the following articles:

https://eduissues.com/2017/06/09/smfcsd-budget-and-measure-y-postmortem

https://eduissues.com/2016/11/19/raising-teachers-salaries-part-3-initial-cost-data


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Watkins, Corzo and Hitchcock winners in SMFCSD race

Here are the results for the top three candidates in the San Mateo-Foster City School District Board of Trustees election. Details are at

http://racetracker.shapethefuture.org/default?iID=19&eID=3&page=1.

Watkins: 25.35%
Corzo: 21.46%
Hitchcock: 15.83%

The next closest candidate, Zack-Kanga, received 12.12%. Curiously all three male candidates finished at the bottom of the list.

It is also interesting to note that no one seems to pay much attention to local San Mateo Daily Journal newspaper endorsements. Only their top pick won, but finished second. One of their choices finished last.

http://www.smdailyjournal.com/opinion/editorials/corzo-zack-kanga-and-thiel-for-san-mateo-foster-city/article_fcd6da1e-b3a0-11e7-ab74-3f0008ecd8ab.html

On the other hand, two of the three finishers were endorsed by the local teachers union, SMETA. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the ongoing salary dispute.

I am completely in favor of higher pay for teachers and was working on some new ideas to promote this as listed previously on this blog (the defeat of Measure Y blew a big hole in this effort unfortunately), but I am also a bit concerned for taxpayers when there are links between both sides of the bargaining table…

 

IMPORTANT – SMFCSD Board Election is TODAY, 11/7/2017

Today, 11/7/2017, is the final day to go to your polling place or turn in your vote by mail ballot for the San Mateo-Foster City School District Board of Trustees Election.

The District is facing a $7 million dollar a year budget shortfall following the failure earlier this year of Measure Y in a dismally low turnout election. It is important that we elect dedicated and qualified people to the board to deal with this issue as well as the teacher salary and other problems. Please remember to vote!!!

Thanks to Colleen Sullivan for finding this link to the voter information pamphlet:

https://www.shapethefuture.org/apps/voterlookup/SampleBallot/31_6_N-P_E.pdf

Also you can find links to all of the candidates’ websites via the SMFCSD website at

http://www.smfcsd.net/en/news/archives/2017/school-board-member-candidates-2017-election.html

Follow-up on “Test Success” – meetings with the local districts

I have met with both local superintendents regarding the recent CAASPP state test scores.

Continue reading “Follow-up on “Test Success” – meetings with the local districts”

“Educators laud test success” – Give me a break!!!!

In a society based on marketing we no longer discuss problems honestly.

The latest California state English and math test scores have been released and today’s (9/27/2017) San Mateo Daily Journal headlines the results with the title “Educators laud test success.”

The scores in our local San Mateo-Foster City School District (which covers grades K-8) showed that 59% of students in English and 54% of students in math scored at or above grade level.  The local San Mateo Union High School District scores were 77% in English and 55% in math.  State-wide the percent of students at or above grade level was 48% in English and 37% in math.

When basically only one out of two students locally is performing at or above grade level (except in high school English at 77%), it is the height of cynicism to call this “test success,” but every year articles like this appear in multiple news sources around this time.  Statewide the numbers in math say that almost 2 out of 3 students are below grade level!

Interpreting test scores is fraught with difficulties, but public schools do themselves absolutely no favor by ladling out this kind of happy talk to the public.  It undermines their credibility, causing more harm than good.  People read these articles now, and, later, when local libertarians write opposition pieces to public school ballot measures, this kind of incredulous news is inevitably trotted out again in their writings as “proof” that public schools are not doing their jobs.

The raw data can be searched at the state test results website.  Entire anonymized data sets can be downloaded from this link.  There is also a link to a new science exam, but only a few results have apparently been made public so far .

Unfortunately I did not find a comprehensive report analyzing the results in terms of demographic factors.  Releasing test results to the public without an analysis of possible explanations for the scores does more harm than good in my opinion.  Parents in well-to-do neighborhoods read news reports like in today’s Daily Journal and think about moving their kids to private schools.  Libertarians read these articles and immediately conclude that teachers are not doing their jobs and that tax dollars are being wasted.  Ballot measures that are needed to fund the schools end up in defeat because of this kind of “marketing BS.”

I would like to invite local school administrators to address these issues seriously in writing and would be more than happy to post their responses here.

We keep changing tests and curricula in California, so it is very hard to measure long-term trends.  This gives rise to a variety of questions that people of various political persuasions have posed:

Have students always done so poorly?  Have we simply set our academic expectations too high for “frail human beings?”

Today we try to get everybody ready for college.  Is this a realistic goal or should we put greater focus on vocational education?

Are we being overwhelmed locally by students from impoverished backgrounds or from cultures that do not value education?  Is this pulling test scores down?

Are teachers simply being lazy and not doing their jobs?!??  Is this due to bad morale caused by low pay or do too many teachers coast simply because union protections make it very difficult to fire non-performing teachers?

Or are teachers actually working very hard and are being pilloried for not solving social problems that are completely out of their control???

Are there problems with the testing methodology itself?  Do students even try to do well on tests that do not impact their GPAs??  Perhaps these scores are completely distorted and meaningless??

The state pays a lot of money for these tests.  If we don’t make a decent and honest attempt to analyze the results, then at least one thing is crystal clear: this money has been completely wasted.

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NOTE ADDED 9/28/17:

During a meeting with SMUHSD Superintendent Skelly this morning he called my attention to the following academic achievement presentation which will be presented this evening at the SMUHSD Board meeting:

L_2_201718SMUHSDAcademicAchievementReport_0