Since 1970, the public school workforce has roughly doubled—to 6.4 million from 3.3 million—and two-thirds of those new hires are teachers or teachers’ aides. Over the same period, enrollment rose by a tepid 8.5%. Employment has thus grown 11 times faster than enrollment. If we returned to the student-to-staff ratio of 1970, American taxpayers would save about $210 billion annually in personnel costs.

From America Has Too Many Teachers

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Just thinking “out loud” here…

If you made $175/day to teach 20 students, how much of that money would you be willing to pay someone to take them off of your hands for 40 minutes to an hour so you could get a break?

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Thursday marked the second day on the picket lines for 270 teachers and the third day of marathon negotiating sessions in a nearly two-year-old labor dispute.

“We’ve been working hard all day to reach an agreement that enables students to return to school, but we’re not there yet,” said school board negotiator Timothy Holbrooke at around 10 p.m. Thursday.

That the two sides still hadn’t hammered out a new deal means 3,000 students will miss another day of school on Friday.

via WNYT.com – Bennington teachers strike continues; face-to-face talks Friday.

I just want to point out some math here. Assuming the numbers are accurate, 3,000 students  divided by 270 teachers equals 11.1 students per teacher.

Darren Allen, spokesman for the Vermont chapter of the National Education Association, said the union does not expect teachers in the union to cross picket lines.”If teachers do that, that is their choice. It’s the wrong choice. We have not heard that, and we would be incredibly disappointment [sic],” he said. “If they’re willing to sacrifice their own good and the good of hundreds of their brothers and sisters that’s something they’ll have to live with for the rest of their lives.”

Did he really say that?

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I believe very strongly that if the country gave each parent a voucher for forty-four hundred dollars that they could only spend at any accredited school several things would happen. Number one schools would start marketing themselves like crazy to get students. Secondly, I think youd see a lot of new schools starting.

via Smithsonian Oral and Video Histories: Steve Jobs.

So Woessmann’s observational study quite robustly supports the view that yea, verily, even in the world of education, performance pay does in fact produce better results.

via American Thinker: Merit Pay for Teachers Works and the Evidence Now Proves It.

The idea of merit pay intrigues me. Even an anecdotal observation about the education “establishment” makes you wonder about the varying degrees of “excellence” that you see among the staff and how you might be able to change that.

Merit pay on it’s own would not likely do much to improve the overall picture in American education, but it seems to me that it could pay an important role.

Marty Beil, executive director of the state’s largest public employee union, said he didn’t think the action meant the law was going to take effect.

“The problem is they’re (Republicans) the dictator here so we have to go into a court of law and reaffirm it,” he said. “This is Scott Fitzgerald and Scott Walker’s gulag here. It’s craziness. These guys are off the wall. They’re drunk with some kind of power or misconception of reality.”

Phil Neuenfeldt, president of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO, called the action an “illegal backdoor maneuver.”

“This is a dark day for Wisconsin and a travesty to our democracy,” he said.

via Controversial Wisconsin Union Law Published Despite Court Order Blocking It – FoxNews.com.

This is the new and improved tone in American civil discourse?

I find myself in an odd position. What I would really like to see is the end of union power in government. Some of the “talk” on the airwaves has been around whether Republicans can win this fight by playing by the rules. The argument is that the Democrats and unions never play by the rules so how can the Republicans win if they do play by the rules when their opponents do not.

In the end, I would like to see an end to collective bargaining agreements in the government. Whether what’s taking place in Wisconsin is by the rules or not is very important but I hope the result is returning the power back to the voters.