I hear you dmaul and I'm more sympathetic then I used to be, but I still think that teacher's unions give unions a bad name. They are overpowered and don't serve the interests of the students or even the best teachers. They are easy pickins for folks who want to privatize the entire system.
I agree. I noted in my first post that unions need to give up more, have less strong tenure etc. But that has to come with better evaluation systems etc. so teachers aren't getting fired for factors they can't control (i.e. kids not hitting test scores as there students were a few grade levels behind when they got them).
Hmm, I remember at my old school instructors actually evaluated each other as well. Guess it varies, good to know those surveys had at least some impact. I figured they were pointless because students would down rate an instructors evaluation on the basis that the class was "too hard".
Of course it will very by university/college. Research universities are huge (so too many instructors to have peer evaluations regularly) and don't place a lot of emphasis on teaching so it's just not a priority.
Smaller universities, and teaching focused colleges will be more likely to do more rigorous evaluation of teachers as that's their main goal.
At research universities the main goal for faculty is publishing research and brining in research grants (as universities skim a ton off the top of these).
I certainly don't hate teachers - I just don't like the union and their sense of entitlement. I'd be all for every teacher in NJ getting a huge raise (20%? 30%? 50%?) if they disbanded the union and did away with tenure and the pension and $0 healthcare plans.
Fair enough. Honestly, tenure isn't really needed for teaching jobs IMO as long as there is some other protection for academic freedom so say schools in the south aren't firing people for teaching evolution or any other controversial topics that fit the curriculum.
That protection is needed, but there needs to be a way to weed out ineffective teachers.
At the college level, the same is pretty much true--though the protections of academic freedom are more important. Curriculum isn't as set (lots of elective courses on whatever a professor's interests are) and knowledge generation requires people to be able to pursue their own research agendas and not be punished if their area is controversial or out of the mainstream in their field.
But even there, as I said before, there needs to be a way to weed out the do nothings who get tenure or promotion to full professor and just waste resources as they stop being productive. At a research university that can be done by just requiring minimum standards of productivity to keep tenure at each 5 year review.
I suppose the same can be done for teaching universities and k-12 of requiring continued demonstration of teaching effectiveness to keep tenure. But again that's trickier as its harder to quantify teaching effectiveness. Where as research it's just publishing enough in decent journals, applying for and getting grants etc. which can be quantified.
As for the other issues. I agree on pensions. Pensions are just a bad idea IMO, and should be replaced by 401k type plans with a generous match. Health care I'm indifferent on. Giving them 0 or low premiums is a way to help compensate for salaries often being lower than many could get in private sector jobs.
I don't think that teaching is an easy job, but there are lots of jobs that aren't easy. The relative difficulty of a job is not the only issue that determines how much the job is "worth".
A big problem in the world today (and pretty much always) is job wages don't reflect the importance of the job to society.
Teachers are incredibly important to society as they have a huge collective influence on the future as they're training the future generations. Yet the highest paying jobs go to things like investment bankers, litigation lawyers, entertainers, athletes etc.
Now I'm not saying teachers should be millionaires, but they should be getting paid more like prosecutors, civil engineers and other key personnel in the public sector at the very least. And with that we should raise education standards for being a teacher (since those other positions often have more than just college degrees). Require a Master's degree that's focused on HOW to teach, to back up the college education that should give them the subject area knowledge in the areas they will teach.