Education Opinion

Special Report: Reg Weaver, NEA President

Quite some time ago, Reg Weaver, National Education Association President, spoke at Carroll. As I have lots of opinions on education, I felt compelled to attend.

Being the geek I am, I came armed with a notebook and pen so as to be able to jot down any pieces of interest. Because of flight delays, Mr. Weaver was almost an hour late arriving. I passed the time drinking coffee and perusing old data structures notes — Big O analysis, C++ class templating, Dequeues, various sorting algorithms, and the like.

After a time, the Montana Education Association President stepped up to give a short precursor speech as we all continued to wait. Of course, as Montana education funding has been a huge topic in Montana and both sides have been in court duking it out, the MEA president talked mostly about that. (I should stop right now and let you know that I do not have great feelings towards unions — especially those in the education sector.) I kind of quit listening to MEA President Eric Feaver when he talked about Montana teachers’ salaries. His summary, regarding salaries, was “$30,000 is great, but they could go work in Nevada for $40,000.” First of all, in Montana, $30,000 is pretty good for a 9 month job. I’m sorry if I sound rude, but it’s true. Also, depending on which part of Nevada one is in, there is a much different (higher) cost of living than in Montana. Of course salaries will be disparate.

Finally, Reg Weaver arrived. He’s a small, but dynamic man. I could immediately feel his fervor. And I immediately liked the guy. That’s not to say that I agreed with his message, but I liked the messenger.

What proceeded can be called nothing but a union rally. I came expecting a speech regarding solutions to the so-called “education crisis” occurring across the nation. I received nothing of the sort. The ensuing speech involved various topics including the underfunding of schools, funding inequality, social justice in K-12, and jobs going overseas (because that takes away tax money that could go to education — don’t get me started). He also commented “how can we expect children to do better with [so much] bureaucracy, paperwork, and testing?” (Apparently the bureaucracy of the NEA is okay though. Check out this book for more on the NEA. It’s quite the eyeopener).

There were lots of criticisms thrown about, but distressingly missing were possible SOLUTIONS to the problems of our education system. I found this the most frustrating. Yes, there are problems in our education system, but how are we going to fix them? I have my ideas, however, I wanted to hear Mr. Weaver’s. And, no, more money is not the answer. Also, notably absent was any regard for economics’ place in education.

As much as I liked Mr. Weaver, I very much disliked the union rally atmosphere that took hold after his arrival. I was uncomfortable. Most everyone in attendance (save for a few students most likely attending for the promise of extra credit) was an educator and, thus, a member of the NEA. I felt silly not clapping and yelling. However, I couldn’t clap and yell for something I firmly disagree with. It’s time for the NEA to wake up and realize they need to stop complaining and start proposing legitimate solutions. It would also be nice if they recognized that they are part of the problem.

Education reporting for duty

National Education Association (NEA) President Reg Weaver spoke at my place of employ tonight. I sent a staff reporter out on the beat to cover it and report back.

Give the reporter a day to gather her thoughts and expect her summary tomorrow.

Economics Education Politics

More is not better

This is especially true in a market that doesn’t operate efficiently. (I’ve mentioned the state of education a few times before.) And, yet, the idea that throwing more money at education will fix everything pervades. Why? I’m scratching my head on this one.

California’s education budget (in 2002) is 43 percent of the total state budget. This figure leaps up to 53 percent if one considers only the general fund. Over 22 percent of Michigan’s 2005 budget will go towards higher education alone. Mississippi allocates 65.26 percent of its budget to education. Most states fall in the 40-70% range.

Where does it stop? More money is obviously not fixing anything. When do we try alternatives? When do we say enough is enough? When do we insist that public education use our tax dollars more efficiently?

My first idea? Introduce market dynamics into the teacher market. It would lead to an incentive for those that would be excellent teachers/educators to enter the market because market dynamics would allow good teachers to be properly rewarded for their efforts.

This is a small step, but it could be one of the most important.

Further reading on the subject:

Education Rant

Thank you, Miss Maryland

for your perpetuation of the ignorance surrounding public education. That sure is a great platform you’ve chosen considering public schools already receive the majority of the budgets of the states in the union. Hmmm. Yes, teachers must be underpaid. Nevermind that markets aren’t allowed to operate in that sector — and let’s face it, even if they did, teachers would still not be paid as much as, say, a doctor. There’s a chasm of education, dedication, and difficulty separating those two professions. Why do college professors settle for making only 100k when they could make 2 or 3 times that in the private sector? Because they get their summers off, most holidays, and a hell of a Christmas break.

Miss Maryland, tell me why parents shouldn’t be able to receive private school vouchers? Tell me why they should have to pay twice for their children’s education. Um, I’m waiting.

Also, thank you Sommersby for wasting two hours of my life. And the spammers for still posting to my USD guestbook even though I removed the link weeks ago.