Friday, August 14, 2015

Teacher Slams in the OCWeekly

I have exhausted my effort to make a simple table on Google's Blogger. Bugger is a better name.

OC Weekly is a presumably liberal "alternative" news rag published weekly for Orange County, California. Today they really pissed me off.

It is hard to know just which falsehoods in this little anti-education screed by Matt Coker to debunk first.

The caption to the OCWeekly photo was the first prejudicial item that caught my eye. The photo is of a room full of teachers having a training session for union representatives. One important role that union reps have is to attend teacher and administrator disciplinary meetings. The OCWeekly caption reads, "Anaheim Union High School District teachers participate in a teacher association-based training session that is presumably NOT on what to do with all the money they make." The topics of the meeting were obviously displayed from the union website which Mr. Coker copied the photo. So before this “news” article even started, the gross bias and/or incompetence of Mr. Coker was already clear.

The bare facts are that most teachers are required to attend 5 days of unpaid training, and typically another 5 partially paid days. These are on their “days off.” When I was an industrial chemist, we had scheduled days when company reps came and did review compensation plans on the company dime. In decades of teaching I never even heard of a school district paying for negotiation time, or retirement planning. Teachers must “pay” themselves out-of-pocket. My wife was a K-12 teacher in Orange County for 30 years, and she never had a paid day off for benefit, or retirement planning.

Mr. Coker makes his inability to honestly report on education obvious in his first paragraph. He makes two gross errors. The first is to blindly accept the handout from an anti-education political hack organization. They have lied about teacher pay which just a little effort demonstrated. The second is worse. This is to think that the single number “measure” of district wide student performance should have a direct relationship with teacher pay. Mr. Coker parroted his lines from the far-right,
“Transparent California, which is a project of the California Policy Center and the Nevada Policy Research Institute, found that Anaheim Union's average teacher compensation is $115,437 while its Academic Performance Index score is 777.”

I’ll break this down.

First, the “average teacher compensation” number of “$115,437” is at best wrong. This would be obvious to any honest reporter. The first clue is that “teacher compensation” is not at all the same as a salary. However, most readers will imagine that “compensation” is the same as salary. Any honest, or competent reporter would have made this difference clear. First question is, “Are numbers from a political extremist organization trustworthy?” Second, (since the first answer is No!) what are the real numbers?

The following numbers are from “Transparent California” for individual Anaheim high school teachers. I listed the lowest, and highest paid full-time teachers for 2013-2014 based on their numbers.

Regular pay Overtime pay Other pay Benefits Total pay & benefits
$ 21,362.00, $0.00, $ 1,188.00, $2,917.00, $ 23,091.00
$104,192.00, $0.00, $16,898.00, $25,261.00, $146,351.00

Think just a moment- 4 years of college, 2 years of post-graduate teacher training, and 21 grand to start. Note as well that the highest paid teacher is also getting a $16,898 kicker. Sports coaches do get a very sweet “kick” if their kickers kick well. Additionally, there was an extended hiring freeze when the Republicans were bankrupting California, and the Nation. This has a serious effect on teacher salaries. They actually increase because cost of living, and step increases are built into their contract. What union teachers did here in OC, and across the State was to “forgive” these until the school districts got back in the positive margin of their annual budgets. This finally started to show up in paychecks only since we booted the rightwing from power. The real long term loss was our new young teachers. They were faced with terrible pay, poor hire prospects, and no raises for years. Most new teachers discover that they are not really able to stay in the classroom. They quit. About 50% quit in less than 7 years. The starting pay is very poor as seen in data published by the radical “California Policy Center.”

There are actual professionals that do competent studies of compensation rates for most US industries, and professions. I picked one because it was among the largest. In this case “largest” implies more “competent.” There is a simple comparison between the politically biased (false) California Policy Center assertion that the “average teacher compensation is $115,437,” and a professional company who’s success depends on honesty and accuracy;

Here are their creditable data on the payment package for Anaheim high school teachers;
Median Base Salary, $62,433, 70.8%
Total Compensation, $88,227, 100%

Is the Anaheim’s high school teacher average compensation really $115,437?”

A professional company who’s success depends on honesty and accuracy reported the median total compensation was $88,227, and only ~62K was salary. I know who I trust.

The rest of Mr. Coker’s pathetic slam on teachers was his lack of effort reviewing the idea of the
“Academic Performance Index (API).” The California Policy Center “Transparency” scam reported a trivial summary number of “777.” I am surprised they didn’t round down to “666.” What are the facts? The California Department of Education has these data online. Just a click away for the data that Mr. Coker was too lazy, or too biased to check. I summarize it below for the most recent 2012-2013 data.

Students, AIP 2013
Total#, 25,377, 777

This is were Mr. Coker and the “transparency” gang quit.

But, there is much more. If the goal of a school district is a score over 800, how does Anaheim really do?

There is a district wide ethnic breakdown; (Ethnic label, percentage of students, 2013 AIP score)

Filipino, 16.3%, 915

White not
Hispanic, 11.9%, 819

Hispanic, 64.6%, 734

learners, 43.0%, 685

Poor, 68.6%, 744

So where is there a serious problem? It is obvious that “English learners” do not do very well on all day long tests taken in ENGLISH! Poor students (in our experience often hungry students) do poorly on all tests. It is a safe assumption that a majority of non-English speakers in Anaheim schools are poor Hispanics! We can partial out an estimate of English fluent Hispanic AIP scores making the assumption that "English learners" are Hispanic. In that case, the English fluent Hispanic students have an API over 865.

Their teachers are doing a fantastic job.


Sarah Auwarter said...

Thank you for this correction.

Gary S. Hurd said...

You are welcome.

I actually held back on why AIP scores are bullshit that correlate with poverty better than any educational practice.

Poor kids eat less, sleep less, and are at school sick more than wealthy children.