Thursday, June 30, 2016

No Scotty, teachers are not like NFL players

I know it was said a couple of days ago, but I gotta get back to a ridiculous gaffe that came out of our fair Governor’s pie hole this week. You might remember this statement from Scotty on Monday.
Walker said school districts can set pay based on performance and hire based on merit.

“It’s about putting the best and the brightest in the classroom,” Walker said. “If someone is an exceptional talent and wants to go into education, they can be rewarded for that.”

When asked whether he thought such incentive-driven salary programs would be a hindrance to allowing school districts to keep quality teachers, Walker compared teaching to being a player in the NFL.

“If the Green Bay Packers pay people to perform and if they perform well on their team, (the Packers) pay them to do that,” Walker said. “They don’t pay them for how many years they’ve been on the football team. They pay them whether or not they help (the Packers) win football games.”
As someone who knows a bit about how sports salaries work, there’s a whoooole lot wrong with that statement.

1.The first obvious point is that NFL teams and its players union collectively bargain for a framework on salaries, wages and benefits, and almost all players use an agent to negotiate their deals with the clubs. You know, things that Walker and the WisGOPs don’t allow teachers to do under the provisions of Act 10.

2. The NFL actually does pay players “for how many years they’ve been on the football team.” In 2016, the minimum salary for NFL players ranges from $450,000 for rookies to $985,000 for a 10-year vet. So there can be guaranteed increases for NFL players, if their current salary is low enough to be below the minimum for their next year of services.

Obviously teams can cut players without needing to pay that increase, but there are also thousands of people looking to take that spot on an NFL roster and get paid at least $450K. That’s not really the same thing as trying to convince a college graduate to teach in Bumblefuck or Inner City, Wisconsin for $35,000 a year.

3.But the worst part about Walker’s “NFL free agent” comparison has to do with a main factor in determining how much the Packers might pay a player- the team’s salary cap. The NFL right now is flush with money, This year’s NFL salary cap is nearly $155.3 million, $12 million more than in 2015. The league is doing well, and through the current COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT, a chunk of those profits are funneled down to players in the form of a higher salary cap.

That is nothing like the situation that public schools districts have had, as Walker and the WisGOPs have cut aid to K-12 public schools over the last 5+ years, and have put tight limits on the property taxes that can be raised to make up for the cuts. As a result, the local districts have been under a lower “salary cap”, and the one-time shot of Act 10 “tools” that shifted some of those costs onto teachers has now been used up. In addition, the usually-higher copays that teachers have had to pay in the post-Act 10 world means that even if those teachers receive a higher base salary, they are often taking less home than they did 5 years ago. And because almost all public districts around the state have not had the flexibility under their salary/revenue caps, it proves what BS Walker’s claim that teachers can be “rewarded” in the classroom with a fair market value. Simply put, there isn’t enough money out there for most teachers to demand or receive top dollar, even if they and their district would want that to happen.

Also, NFL teams get to pick and choose the talent they want to give their clubs the best chance to win. Public schools? Not by a long shot. In fact, they often have to try to clean up the damage from the impoverished, hopeless situations that students face outside of the home, and frankly, there’s only so much that can be done in the time that a child is in the classroom (if the child is even in the classroom).

In addition, not unlike sports, subjecting teachers to “pay for performance” leads to very bad incentives to cheat and cut corners. Remember this story from Atlanta that came out last year, which led to jail time for some administrators and teachers?
The inquiry, which was completed in 2011, led to findings that were startling and unsparing: Investigators concluded that cheating had occurred in at least 44 schools and that the district had been troubled by “organized and systemic misconduct.” Nearly 180 employees, including 38 principals, were accused of wrongdoing as part of an effort to inflate test scores and misrepresent the achievement of Atlanta’s students and schools.

The investigators wrote that cheating was particularly ingrained in individual schools — at one, for instance, a principal wore gloves while she altered answer sheets — but they also said that the district’s top officials, including Superintendent Beverly L. Hall, bore some responsibility.

Investigators wrote in the report that Dr. Hall and her aides had “created a culture of fear, intimidation and retaliation” that had permitted “cheating — at all levels — to go unchecked for years.”

Officials said the cheating allowed employees to collect bonuses and helped improve the reputations of both Dr. Hall and the perpetually troubled school district she had led since 1999.
Then again, athletes bend the rules on the field and use PEDs off of it so they can get advantages, improve achievement and get paid more. And we know the Walker Administration constantly plays fast and loose with its interpretations of the law. Maybe Scotty was trying to take the “if you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying” ethos over to Wisconsin school teachers?

What a complete maroon, and it’s fitting that Walker made the “teachers=NFL players” gaffe after stepping out of another of his invite-only “listening sessions”. This guy does not have a clue how the average Wisconsinite is living and barely scraping by these days, and instead of figuring out why people are struggling, he just retreats further and further inside the Bubble, continuing to embarrass this state with his (lack of) leadership.

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