Yeah this isn’t everything that is to blame in what’s wrong with America’s public education system. Broken homes and families have a lot to do with it too in my opinion, but this is something that policymakers can actually provide positive change in.
In a new paper released on Wednesday, Sally Lovejoy and Chad Miller of the American Action Forum argue that teachers unions’ and their collective-bargaining policies are at least partly to blame for both issues.
The authors cite an array of studies examining the impact of teachers’ unions and their negotiating strategies. The majority of these studies have found that collective-bargaining agreements typically focus on higher teacher pay and benefits and greater job security, with little consideration given to student performance. In fact, teachers’ unions have historically resisted most efforts to hold teachers accountable for the academic performance of their students, and have succeeded consistently. Tenure policies, for instance, make it virtually impossible to fire unqualified or ineffective teachers. Most states award tenure automatically after about three years, and do not test a new teacher’s mastery of even the most basic reading and math skills. Perhaps not surprisingly, this has had a largely negative impact on the students themselves, especially those in large urban school districts with a high percentage of black and Hispanic students.
The paper compares student-performance data from two such districts, New York City and Chicago (both of which require collective bargaining), with data from Charlotte, N.C., and Austin, Texas, urban districts in states where collective bargaining is banned for public employees. The two different situations reveal how collective bargaining is inflating salaries, compensation, and job security while it’s strangling policies that could help student achievement.
Public-school teachers in New York and Chicago recently signed collective-bargaining agreements that increase pay and benefits, but place little emphasis on student performance. In Chicago, for example, the union fought to ensure that “student growth” counts for only 30 percent of teacher evaluations to determine performance pay. In New York, the union agreement offers pay and benefit increases for teachers based on experience and education levels without any consideration for student performance.
Data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress show that students in New York and Chicago have consistently underperformed those in Charlotte and Austin, and perform considerably lower than the national average. In 2011, only 20 percent of Chicago fourth graders performed at or above grade level in math, and only 18 percent were at or above grade level in reading, compared with national averages that year of 40 percent and 32 percent, respectively. Students in New York performed slightly better, but are still below average. Charlotte and Austin, meanwhile, saw much better results, beating the national averages. Nearly 50 percent of Charlotte fourth graders performed at or above grade level; 36 percent did so in reading. Austin was close behind.
Research indicates that high-quality teachers have a significant impact on student achievement both in school and beyond, making the teachers’ unions’ resistance to performance-based evaluation all the more frustrating. One study by professors at Harvard and Columbia found that students assigned to teachers classified as “high-value added” instructors attend better colleges, earn higher salaries, and are less likely to have children as teenagers. Furthermore, simply replacing a “low-value added” teacher with an average one can increase students’ lifetime earning by as much as $1.4 million.—
The authors note, optimistically, that more states appear to be adopting policies that at least include objective student-achievement data in teacher evaluations. Twelve states now require student performance to be the primary consideration in such evaluations. Not surprisingly, right-to-work states have proven to be most eager to do so — the National Council on Teachers Quality lists Florida, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and Tennessee as the most successful states in terms of identifying effective teachers and removing ineffective ones, and among those only Rhode Island mandates collective bargaining.
Act 10, you just keep looking better and better with age.
I won’t make many friends with certain family and former classmates, but since it is in the news, it is time to say it: The Kiel Area School District needs to finally bite the bullet, and close down Meeme Elementary School.
With elementary enrollment declining, the Kiel Area School District is taking a look at its two elementary schools to determine whether it should continue to operate both of them.
Enrollment at Meeme LEADS Elementary School declined by 15 students over the last four years, from 101 students in 2009-10 to 86 this school year, according to information from the district. Meanwhile, enrollment at Zielanis Elementary School declined by 38 students, from 496 to 458, during that time period.
An enrollment projection analysis by the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Applied Population Laboratory projects a continued decline in elementary enrollment.
The district looks at its staffing situation every March, Superintendent Louise Blankenheim said. This year, for the second consecutive year, the district transferred a teacher from Meeme to Zielanis. Next year’s fourth-grade class at Meeme would have had only 11 students, so the fourth grade and one teacher were moved to Zielanis for 2013–14.
That led to the question of whether Kiel should look at having one or two elementary schools, according to Blankenheim. Knowing “where the budgets have been, where the state budget’s going, knowing that every year we’re looking at enrollment and … teacher-student ratio, … (the board) felt that it was … time to do a comprehensive study.”
This isn’t the first time the issue of closing Meeme has arisen. In November 1981, a Citizen’s Advisory Board was formed to review the district’s enrollment. After its analysis, the advisory board voted in 1982 to keep Meeme open, and the school board accepted the recommendation.
Meeme, which opened in 1964–65, became a charter school in 2005. Enrollment at the school had been declining and the principal at that time thought becoming a charter school would provide an opportunity for the school to offer more individualized programming, Blankenheim said.
For those who don’t know the geography of the Kiel Area School Distirct, Meeme is located about four miles west of Cleveland on Manitowoc CTH XX, just off of Wisconsin State Highway 42. Zielanis is located inside the City of Kiel, about 10 to 11 miles west of Meeme.
Traditionally, the border which separated rural KASD households into those who sent their children to Meeme and Zielanis was Manitowoc CTH A, which more or less runs through the middle of the district. My boyhood home was just west of CTH A.
In the early 90s, just as I was set to start 5th grade and going to Kiel Middle School, the school board at the time suggested moving the border west to Lax Chapel Road, some three miles away. The plan at the time was to bulk up Meeme’s enrollment numbers which even back then were in decline. The idea was eventually scuttled after people like my parents — who still had my two younger brothers in elementary school — and others in my neighborhood rose up to protest the move because they didn’t wish to change elementary schools midway through for their kids.
So the debate as to what will happen to Meeme has been on-going and constant for the people of Kiel, School Hill, Meeme, Spring Valley, Osman, and other rural areas in the district. Those closer to Kiel feel the school has outlived its purpose. While those closer to the school feel a loyalty to it, and feel that Kiel is too far away compared to nearby places (and schools) like Howards Grove, Manitowoc, Valders, and Sheboygan.
(A little dirty secret / rumor about the origins of Meeme is that it was set up by the Kiel Area School District not as a way to serve the rural areas, but as a way to cheat in establishing its school district borders. With Meeme that far away from Kiel proper, but still a Kiel school, the district was able to expand its borders to cover the surrounding areas. This had significant effect on the ability for Howards Grove to go north, Valders to expand south, and all but forced Cleveland into the Sheboygan Area School District. For instance, did you know that Meeme Elementary School is actually closer [7 miles] to Howards Grove than it is to Kiel [10 miles]?)
What is happening with Meeme is a reality of what is happening across the country. With people having less and less kids, it is forcing many school districts across not only Wisconsin to reconsider the need of some of their buildings, but also whether the need to hire new teachers is warranted. (This is beginning to wreck havoc with WEAC and other “More Money for Schools Now!” supporters, and will utterly collapse much of their argument in the coming decades.)
Without as many kids in schools — just because there aren’t as many kids — it is going to cause per pupil numbers (i.e. in classroom size, teacher to pupil ratios, and per capita spending) to fluctuate like never before. Want to see what a state where the average per student spending is $25,000 a kid? Wait a few years with the demographic growth we’re under and that will be Wisconsin just because there are less and less kids to spread the money around to.
People who are crunching the numbers know all this. Why do you think the UW-Madison does at its “Applied Population Laboratory” anyway?
The real question going forward is what do the policymakers and lawmakers do with this knowledge and what will those committed to the status quo do with it as well. For years, groups like WEAC have been screaming about things like SAGE based on the belief that there would be more and more kids, and thus the need for more and more teachers. We’re on a path, where the opposite is more likely to happen.
So the question now is, why are groups like WEAC still being listened to when to comes to “the right amount of school financing” when clearly the numbers are beginning to show us all something completely different?
Watching Democrats pine over the political future of former Sen. Russ Feingold is a bit like watching that member of a married couple who liked your spouse’s sister’s ex and still wants to hang with him after the divorce is final. (Your better half? She wants nothing to do with him anymore.)
You know, that buddy who goes to you, “Man, I know Reggie cheated on Gloria’s sister Monica, but does that mean I have to stop hanging with him? He was fun at poker night!”
Wisconsin conservatives are glad the state finally cut the cord with the former junior senator. Liberals on the other hand — especially those in the Isthmus — are still clamoring for the guy. First it was in 2011 during the Siege of the Capitol, then in 2012 it was the Recall. Ever since then, “St. Russ” has been the standard answer for every ill-informed liberal who looks at the Democratic bench and realizes the party’s future is so decrepit, they might as well be playing in the Rookie Leagues.
Need a candidate for governor in 2014: Recruit Russ!
Need a candidate for attorney general: Recruit Russ! (Give it time…)
Need a candidate for U.S. Senate in 2016: Recruit Russ!
Need a candidate for Dogcatcher: Recruit Russ!
In all likelihood, Feingold will spend the next two years in Africa if the report of the Special Envoy job inside the Obama Administration holds up. (Though given his speaking out against the recent NSA news, who knows if that offer is still on the table?)
What he’s going to do in 2016 has always been the matter of intrigue.
Some folks in DC think he ought to run for President. Jennifer Rubin over at the Washington Post has an interesting analysis saying that he’d be younger than both Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden and without a run by New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo, he could be the “Liberal’s Liberal” in a field which could be one of the oldest in Democratic Party history.
Most insiders I’ve spoken with and know say that Russ wants the rematch in 2016. (If he doesn’t run, La Crosse Congressman Ron Kind will; though why Kind continues to keep bowing to party elders puzzles me.) He’s still pissed about losing in 2010. His ego hasn’t taken the loss well and despite finally earning real money for the first time in his life, he likes being called “Senator.” He misses the perks. He misses D.C. He misses being a pimple in the Senate Democratic leadership’s ass and on and on.
Jack Craver over at the Cap Times reported on this after last weekend’s DPW State Convention and offered this analysis on the options before Feingold. I’ll fisk at the parts requiring them as such.
Furthermore, there are a number of reasons why Feingold would have a better shot at winning back his Senate seat than winning the governorship.
First, Johnson, despite his personal wealth, is not likely to enjoy a great financial advantage over his Democratic opponent, at least not to the same extent as Walker will over his. Johnson will likely be a top target for Democrats nationally and the Democratic nominee can count on support from the national Democratic apparatus — something that is not a sure thing in the governor’s race.
Sigh…there is so much miss assumed here it’s gonna take a while.
1) The incumbent advantages of fund raising are with Johnson this time around, not Feingold.
1A) Since both Johnson and Feingold are anti-pork, Russ will unlikely be able to benefit from any “back-scratching promises” Democrats hoped to get for Johnson being an “austerity politician.”
1B) If the Left is hoping that gun control is still around in 2016, that’s advantage Johnson too. If there is one group Feingold wants to stay away, it is the National Rifle Association.
2) Since 2016 is a presidential election year, the down ballot races tend to suffer in the money department. Presidential campaigns — especially wide-open presidential campaigns on both sides like we’re going to see in 2016 — will suck up all the available money to Senate and House candidates like a sponge. This will be advantageous to self-financiers like Sen. Johnson if he so wishes to plug into his wallet once again.
3) Johnson will no doubt be a top Democratic target, but the NRSC is unlikely to give up the seat without a fight.
4) If Feingold is true to form, he’ll once again tell the DSCC to stay the hell out with outside ads; the same with any various SuperPACs running ads. You know, the kind that helped Tammy Baldwin bury Tommy Thompson. If he doesn’t, he’ll be labeled as a hypocrite toot suite by not just the GOP, but the media which will get an avalanche of Feingold quotes and video where he was attacking outside money and outside ads.
If the media doesn’t run with it, then once again their bias is showing.
Second, 2016 will be a presidential election year, a situation that typically favors Democrats. Feingold lost his seat in 2010 largely due to poor turnout from Democratic voters and a wave of energized Republican voters — meaning the electorate was disproportionately conservative. It is unclear what the dynamics of the 2014 election will be, but there’s a fair chance that, like most midterm elections, it will favor Republicans.
This is the one trump card Feingold and the Democrats have going for them; presidential year turnout in Wisconsin. It’s the same reason Kind wants to bypass 2014 and look at 2016 instead for a statewide run. If the 2012 recall and the 2012 Presidential elections have shown us anything, it is that Wisconsin isn’t so much a split electorate as two completely different electorates — one for years where a governor is up statewide, the other for years where the president is up statewide.
Democrats seem to be banking and investing on that trend continuing.
However, 2016 could be a bad year for Democrats. It will mark the end of the Obama’s eight years in office and that tends to never work well electorally for the party of the sitting President. In 1980 (which got Bob Kasten elected in the Reagan landslide), Republicans gained 12 seats. In 2008, Democrats used the end of the George W. Bush years to gain 8 Senate seats.
On the other hand, 1992 saw little gain for either side. Democrats gained a seat in the Senate, but Republicans gains seats in the House. (See for yourself here.) Who knows what’s going to happen in 2016?
Which is why all the early game analysis right now is pretty pointless. Three-plus years is an eternity in politics and lord only knows what kind of landscape we’ll be looking at by then.
DC at the Box Office, Not Just the Comic Book Store">Marvel Beating DC at the Box Office, Not Just the Comic Book Store
The numbers are a bit misconstruing here. Box office inflation is not calculated in (it costs about three times more to go see a movie today than it did in 1980), but given the track record of Marvel vs. DC in terms of movies released, this makes a lot of sense.
Films based on Marvel comic books have generated 47 percent more in domestic box-office sales on average than DC Comics movies, according to data compiled by Paul Sweeney, an analyst at Bloomberg Industries. The 28 Marvel films dating back to 1998 have averaged $190 million, compared with $129 million for 23 DC Comics movies starting with “Superman” in 1978.
“The Avengers,” the 2012 movie featuring Iron Man, Captain America and the Hulk, was the highest-grossing film for either comic-book brand, with $1.5 billion in global receipts. The success of Marvel movies has given a boost to Walt Disney Co., which acquired Marvel Entertainment Inc. at the end of 2009 for about $4 billion. Time Warner Inc. (TWX), meanwhile, has hitched its fortunes to DC Comics fare, including the Batman films and this week’s “Man of Steel” release.
“Time Warner is clearly relying on DC Comics to replace (if even possible) the Harry Potter franchise,” Sweeney, who relied on data from Box Office Mojo and SNL Kagan, said in an e-mail. The Harry Potter films, based on the J.K. Rowling books, ended their run in 2011.
The 1998 vs. 1978 figure is also telling. 1998 was when the first “modern” Marvel movie, “Blade” starring Wesley Snipes, was released. Prior to that, Marvel’s movie efforts were frankly laugh out loud jokes. There’s a 1990 film version of “Captain America” that went straight to video, and typically might air on independent TV channels at 3 AM as filler. Also in 1994, a “Fantastic Four” film was made that was so horrific, the studio never even released it and is only sold as a novelty gag at comic book conventions.
(I seriously thought of buying it on VHS when I went to Wizarld World Chicago in 1998.)
I don’t doubt that Time Warner is now looking to DC Comics to try to fill the gap left by Harry Potter. In 2009, they re-organized the company and put them in the film division and placed writer Geoff Johns (Green Lantern, Justice League, Aquaman) in the position of “Chief Creative Officer.” Johns first job out of college was working as an assistant for Richard Donner (Superman: The Motion Picture, Superman II, Lethal Weapon), so his experience in the film industry was to help shepherd in new project for film and television.
However, after Batman and Superman films (they already reportedly have given the go-ahead for a “Man of Steel” sequel), the barn is a little empty. They say there’s a “Justice League” film under development for release in 2015, but no one exactly knows what the plot is or who’s starring in it.
I wrote as much in a comment I left at “Outside the Beltway” on this story:
This analysis pretty much explains why Disney forked up $4 Billion for Marvel Comics (and its characters for movie rights) in 2009. After a botched film strategy — incidentally started under Stan Lee — of selling off film rights to whoever was willing to pay for them, the company finally got its act together and created its own studio to produce their own characters under their own banner. Sure, there are mistakes like Fox and Sony now intent on hanging onto the X-Men, Fantastic Four and Spider-Man rights until perpetuity, but they’ve pulled off a marketing and franchising miracle with the Avengers-based films.
(Until the various contract negotiations with the film actors blow up in their faces that is.)
DC on the other hand has been treated like the red-headed step-child in the Time Warner family. Oh sure, they have “Batman,” but beyond that, the rest of the line-up of characters goes mostly no where or gets treated with disrespect by corporate. At one time, there were plans for a “Flash,” “Wonder Woman,” and “Green Lantern” sequel. Now, nothing in any of those avenues — mostly because the first “Green Lantern” got panned at the box office. Now, they hope they can do “Justice League,” but that seems built into the premise that “Man of Steel” does well this weekend.
As for an actual story in the “Justice League,” heck, they’ve got people working on it…or so they say.
The paths of the two major comic book companies into Hollywood should have been easier for DC, since being under Time Warner, they could have been pumping out smart versions of their characters for decades. But it has proven mostly a stigma that Hollywood has towards comics and comic book writers; that the people best trained to write scripts for them, are often the last people brought into the room to help with the process.
After all, they’re “Comic Book People,” and we’re “Movie People” they say. What would they know about the subject of a [Insert DC Comic Book Character Here] movie that Barbara Streisand’s ex-hair dresser wouldn’t?”
Marvel? They bring in their current writers and artists, former writers and artists who did iconic runs on these characters, put them in a room with the scriptwriters and pay them decent consultant fees. Check the credits of any Avengers-based movie (You know, that stuff you’re fast forwarding through to get to the post-credits scene.), you’ll see names of many icons in the industry there.
Marvel also has one guy — Kevin Feige — plotting their entire movie line-up; acting as captain for the entire company’s long-term goals on the big screen. DC? They hope it’s Christopher Nolan, but no one knows for sure if he’ll commit.
So why is Marvel beating DC in the movie biz? Marvel has a plan, and making sure they put out quality product behind it. DC has an idea of where it wants to go, but no real course to take it. Each company’s success is an extension of that.
So once again: Make Mine Marvel.
Put it another way: Marvel, is in something it calls “Phase 2″ in its movie plans, with it all culminating in “Avengers 2″ in 2015. After that, they’ve already started working out plans for “Phase 3″ films which would be lower budget affairs with characters like “Doctor Strange,” “Black Panther” “Ms. Marvel” and “Ant Man.” The thinking there is, this will lead to another Avengers, or different Avengers team, for 2018.
DC’s movie plans? Yeah…we’ll get back to you on that.
Gov. Scott Walker announced on Monday the appointments of three new members to the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents.
Margaret Farrow and Janice Mueller were named as two citizen members to the 18-person board, and Joshua Inglett of the University of Wisconsin-Platteville was named as one of the panel’s two student regents.
Farrow and Mueller will serve seven-year terms on the board, which is responsible for establishing the rules and policies that govern the university system. Inglett will serve a two-year term. Each appointment is subject to confirmation by the state Senate.
Farrow was the first female lieutenant governor, a position she held from 2001 to 2003. She is also a former state legislator in both the Assembly and the Senate and the former Elm Grove Village Board president.
From 1998 until she retired in 2011, Mueller served as the state auditor within the Wisconsin Legislative Audit Bureau. Mueller was also the first woman in state history to hold that position. Walker said he expects Mueller’s appointment to bring increased oversight and transparency to the UW System.
Inglett, the new two-year student regent, replaces Katie Pointer, who for the sake of personal disclosure was a summer finance intern / staffer during the 2010 Ron Johnson campaign. She helped with a lot of the logistics with fund raisers.
By appointing Farrow and (especially) Mueller, Walker is showing that he wants people on his Board of Regents who will no longer be asleep at the wheel running the UW System. That will mean many more audit requests and many more requests for information for the public and state legislators to delve into.
It also means that unless Walker’s previously appointed regents side with Doyle’s remaining members of the board, Kevin Reilly’s days are numbered.
I’ve said to myself that I’ll quit this blog full-time if it becomes more of a chore than a delight.
We’re not there yet, but there sure are a lot of days where the latter feeling does have the upper hand.
Thanks for being here over the past decade, and especially for coming back after the three times I suspended the site do to work-related activities with the Green and Johnson campaigns, as well as my 21 months in the Bush Administration.