A new report by the leading organization for international education data finds that public school teachers in the United States earn only about two-thirds of what similarly-educated U.S. workers earn, while teachers in most of the rest of the developed world earn 80 to 89 percent of their peer professionals.
In addition, the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development, a member organization of 34 countries across Europe, South America, and the Far East, found that U.S. teacher salaries increased only about 3 percent between 2000 and 2011, compared with a 17 to 20 percent increase for teachers in other developed countries.
Public elementary school teachers in the U.S. worked an average of 1,097 hours in 2011, almost 40 percent more than the 790 hours for the average teacher in the OECD countries. U.S. high school teachers worked 1,051 hours, some 60 percent more than the 664 hours for upper secondary level teachers in other OECD countries.
Other education indicators in the OECD report, Education At A Glance 2013, found troubling news at both the beginning and late stages of U.S. education.
Just half of 3-year-olds and 78 percent of 4-year-olds are enrolled in some kind of early childhood education in the United States, compared with OECD averages of 68 percent of 3-year-olds and 85 percent of 4-year-olds. At the upper end of education, what the report reveals is that college attainment amongst all U.S. adults ages 25 to 64 puts us fifth in the world, but zeroing in on just 24 to 34 year olds — young adults — pushes the U.S. rank to 12th.
Finally, the proportion of young adults who were “NEET” (“not employed or in education or training”) increased between 2008 and 2011, to 15.9 percent of youth ages 15 to 29, a shade higher than the OECD average, which includes economically devastated countries like Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy.
In other words, the U.S. education system, while mighty, is slipping or standing still, while Korea, Japan, the Russian Federation and Ireland surge ahead in the percentages of its populations that are college educated; Spain, Mexico, France and Belgium enroll far more young children in pre-primary education; and Australia, Israel, Poland and even Portugal have raised teacher pay significantly while U.S. teachers have seen almost nothing for a decade.
The Independent Budget Office, in a report released on April 10, finds that the Bloomberg-era school allocation formula, known as Fair Student Funding, actually underfunds 94 percent of schools and “has a ways to go” towards creating a readily-understood and transparent formula.
The IBO report says the formula, which gives schools per-student funding weighted for need levels (extra dollars for an English language learner, for example) has more closely tied school funding with student needs. For example, middle school students, who were historically short-changed, now get an amount closer to their actual formula needs. But overall, schools are coming up short, the budget office writes.
“Effective per-capita [per student] funding is below per capita funding under the FSF formula in each year,” according to the report, which means that actual per-student funding in schools is generally below what the DOE’s own formula says they need — “a reflection of both the limited funding available and how available funds were distributed.”
Students funded below what the formula called for last year and at least two more out of the last five years were 1) middle school students below academic standards; 2) elementary and high school ELLs; and 3) high school collaborative team teaching students.
So as a budget strategy to direct money to students with the highest needs, Fair Student Funding doesn’t appear to have worked so well.
The UFT’s issue with Fair Student Funding was its potential effect on a school that had more senior teachers. Waving the banner of equity, the DOE began funding schools for their average teacher salary rather than the system wide average. This amounted to charging schools for the actual cost of salaries at their schools. The idea was to equalize funding for poor and wealthier schools. But the effect was to penalize some schools, forcing them to leave vacancies unfilled, raise class sizes and avoid hiring experienced teachers in order to meet budget.
But a 2007 IBO report found that teacher salaries were not even close to the main cause of inequities in school budgets. The main reason for disparities in spending was the numbers of students per teacher, it found, not teacher salary. That argument is not made in the new report. In fact, the new report perpetuates the idea that teacher salaries cause the inequities in school funding, a myth the IBO previously disproved.
The report is a major contribution on an important issue. If Fair Student Funding isn’t succeeding in creating fairness or sufficient funding, what is it actually accomplishing? Of course, the final irony is that Bloomberg’s insistence on principal empowerment means that when all the formulas have gone to bed, principals spend their budgets however they want, with little oversight of which students are getting extra help.
As we noted then, questions were quickly raised about how the Foundation’s conservative positions on issues such as the right to organize might influence the recipients of these huge grants. (For background on the Walton family and their foundation’s positions on education, this new website offers a great primer and lots of helpful links.) Now that the full list has been released, the evidence confirms that many organizations active in New York City and New York State received large grants from the Waltons last year — including a million-dollar grant to Eva Moskowitz’s Success Charter Network, listed under the Foundation’s efforts to “Shape Public Policy.” The huge amounts in play here (over $159 million nationally in 2011 alone) should give pause to those concerned about the influence of corporate money in school reform in our community.
This video from The Story of Stuff Project asks: “Why is there always enough money for the “dinosaur economy” — from Big Oil to bailouts to big banks — but when it comes to building a better future we’re supposedly broke?”
Michael Mulgrew has an op-ed in today’s Daily News on why the State Senate and Assembly must extend the state tax on upper-income earners.
Hedge fund magnate John Paulson — who reportedly made $5 billion personally last year — reacted recently to Occupy Wall Street protesters by talking about how much the top 1% of New York City families pay in income taxes. What he didn’t talk about was how the same 1% made nearly half (44%) of all the income in the city, or that when all state and local taxes are taken into account, the richest taxpayers in fact pay a lower percentage of their total income in taxes than do people in the middle.
Meanwhile, with unemployment levels stubbornly high, median family income declining and public services under budget pressure, times are getting tougher for almost everyone else.
Public school class sizes in New York City — already far higher than in surrounding communities — are getting bigger still. Our annual survey in September showed that an estimated one-quarter of the city’s public school children were in one or more oversize classes as the school year began. After-school programs are disappearing. Art and music have become things of the past in our schools. Hundreds of school aides are on the unemployment line.
Overall, the Foundation’s largest grants last year went almost exclusively to organizations which support vouchers and charter schools, including over $2 million dollars to two New York state organizations with the most explicit commitments to supporting for-profit corporate charter schools and weakening teachers unions — the New York Charter Schools Association and the Brighter Choice Foundation. And interestingly enough, the $1.3 million that Eva Moskowitz’s Success Charter Network received from Walton almost exactly matches the amount the Network spent on advertising her schools last year — an average of $1,300 per new student:
Walton Foundation 2010 Grant Totals (for Selected Groups):
Teach for America (National) — $16,652,436
KIPP Foundation — $8,650,000
New Teacher Project — $2,250,000
Education Reform Now, Inc. — $1,325,000
Success Charter Network — $1,310,000
New York Charter Schools Association (NYCSA) — $1,045,459
A postal record, obtained by a Times Union Freedom of Information request, lists the customer who paid for the mailings as “School Performance.” Tom Carroll, who founded the Brighter Choice Foundation — which supports all of the city’s 11 charter schools — is on the board of School Performance Inc., according to the most recent public records available. Chris Bender, executive director of Brighter Choice, has also served on the School Performance board.
Two mailings sent out by Mail Works, a direct to mail company, went to 32,178 city residents, records show. Postage alone cost $6,766. However, the total cost spent by the charter affiliate to defeat the Albany budget is likely far greater because a third mailing went out and the push poll was conducted over a few weeks. The professionally printed cards could have also cost thousands of dollars.
Rally at City Hall, followed by a march down Broadway and through Wall Street
Financial institutions wrecked the economy, and we paid for it. Now, if the mayor gets his way, they will get another round of tax breaks, on top of record profits and bonuses. The UFT will join scores of other community groups and unions to say no to layoffs and cuts and to demand that the big banks and millionaires pay their fair share. Our assembly location, City Hall, is one of eight different gathering points. Together, we will all converge with a unified message to demand a fair budget.
Class sizes citywide rose a average 2 percent, or 0.6 student per class. The increases were especially large in elementary schools, up to 23.7 students per class from 22.9 last year, and middle schools, up to 27 kids per class from 26.1 last year. High schools had a small increase.
The 4.2% budget cut is to blame this year, but this marks the third consecutive year of increases. Through 2008, class sizes were decreasing — very slowly, but they were decreasing. But since then they’ve been up in every grade every year. Since 2008, the average third grade class has swelled by 13 percent. The average first grade class is 9 percent larger. This wasn’t what the Campaign for Fiscal Equity decision was supposed to bring about.
The UFT’s new TV ad began airing Saturday, May 22. The ad asks parents, teachers and community members to call, write and e-mail their legislators to urge them to protect after-school programs, save schools from teacher layoffs and urges the “blame the teacher crowd and the Wall Street Hedge Funds behind them,” to stop playing politics with New York’s children.
It’s early May, and things in Albany are really tough right now. Our state is facing yawning budget gaps, while political stalemate stymies any effort to raise significant new revenues.
In this environment, the UFT’s message to our elected representatives in the Assembly and Senate has been clear: they must oppose the governor’s drastic proposed cuts to the education budget. Lawmakers are considering a $600 million cut to state funding for our city’s public schools. If we lose that much state funding, class sizes will skyrocket, tutoring and after-school programs will be eliminated, and great teachers will be laid off.
Kids don’t get a second chance at an education. If we allow our school system to be decimated like it was in the ‘70s, another generation of young New Yorkers will lose their opportunity for a better life. More »
Former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich proposes a bailout for public education. “After all, the government bailed out Wall Street. What our kids learn — America’s human capital — is more important to our economy than Wall Street’s financial capital.”
Right now, the New York State Senate proposed budget is a disaster in the making for the children in New York’s public schools.
If the cuts go through, we can expect class sizes of 28 in the first grade; the loss of most after-school programs; elimination of what’s left of music, art and other enrichment programs; no summer school; and a return to conditions after the fiscal crisis of the 1970s, as schools put off necessary maintenance and buildings get dirtier and more dilapidated.
We can’t ask kids to pay the price for the mistakes that adults have made with our economy. The kids deserve better than this.
We need you to call your state senator TODAY to voice your opposition to devastating cuts in this budget proposal.