Thursday, November 27, 2014

Under New Progressive Leadership, Teachers Union PRETENDS TO Fights “Teacher Jail” - Working In These Times

Under New Progressive Leadership, Teachers Union Fights "Teacher Jail"

Working In These Times

Tuesday, Nov 25, 2014, 11:40 am
BY Samantha Winslow

Los Angeles teachers placed in "teacher jail" are living in limbo. The United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) continue to fight for the return of these teachers in the classroom.   (UTLA)

Imagine being removed from your workplace for misconduct—without being told what you did wrong. Imagine waiting years to find out whether you can return.

Hundreds of Los Angeles teachers have been put on leave and in limbo. It's been called "teacher jail," and it's not far off from the "rubber rooms" New York City tabloids have made famous. In both places, the tactic is used to scapegoat teachers and unions.

L.A. teachers and their new union leaders are publicly campaigning to end teacher jail. They hope to resolve the cases, so teachers cleared of wrongdoing can return to the classroom, and they're demanding to negotiate stronger due process.

Presumed Guilty

Two years ago Mike Fuoroli was removed from his classroom and told he wasn't allowed back. 

It took a year to find out what he was accused of: sexual misconduct. He claims he never even worked or interacted with the student who made the allegation. Though the police investigated, he was never questioned, and no charges were brought against him.

Fuoroli is still on paid leave. He fears he may never return to his job.

No one from the teachers union, United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), disputes that allegations from students should be taken seriously, nor that actual misconduct should be cause for dismissal.

But they do say teachers deserve due process. And they claim the district is skirting its own procedures, plus the union contract, by removing teachers from work on "immorality" or "misconduct" issues rather than things the union can grieve, such as insubordination.

Arlene Schery was removed in even murkier circumstances. She alleges she was sent to teacher jail for threatening to file a grievance against her principal, after complaining that her classroom was overcrowded and lacked air conditioning.

She later found out the official accusations against her, including that she hadn't followed procedure for handling students' cell phones. They allege she took one and kept it overnight.

There were a few other allegations too, but none merited "housing" a teacher—which is only supposed to happen in cases of alleged sexual misconduct, workplace violence, or criminal acts.

Age Discrimination?

In the offices where housed teachers are instructed to report, Schery and Fuoroli met others who also dispute the charges against them.

Schery said it's not only active allegations that get a teacher housed. "What they will do is take all the information they have from anything prior and make it fit into the complaint," she said.

She and Fuoroli accuse the district of age discrimination, since their research found an overwhelming majority of housed teachers are over 40.

Although the teachers are on paid leave, the process is demoralizing. The waiting, the uncertainty, the damage to one's reputation—it all takes a toll.

"It's really quite painful," said Colleen Schwab, UTLA secondary vice president, who's working with the housed teachers. "They are scared, they don't know why they're there. Ninety-nine percent of them want to get back to their classrooms."

Why would a school district that claims to be out of money let hundreds of teachers collect paychecks outside the classroom for years? It seems incredibly inefficient.

But Fuoroli and Schery suspect the district hopes to save money when these older teachers, who tend to be higher on the pay scale and accruing pensions, just give up and quit.

Unfortunately, when it comes to teachers' due process, the climate in L.A. is toxic.

When news broke in 2012 of chronic and disturbing sexual misconduct by a teacher at Miramonte High, the district's response was to go nuclear.

Every employee in the school was removed, even if they knew nothing of the guilty teacher's crimes. It later came out that district administrators had long known of complaints and red flags about this teacher—now in prison—but done nothing.

Cleaning House

While "teacher jail" has existed in L.A. for years, its use increased after the Miramonte scandal. Teachers allege Superintendent John Deasy began combing through teachers' files, looking for examples of misconduct—a way to patch up the district's image by appearing to clean house.

Housing teachers was a signature policy for Deasy, who resigned this fall. When teachers requested information, his response was that we can't say because we need to protect students. He insisted the district would take as long as necessary to conduct its investigations.

"Obviously UTLA doesn't want anyone who shouldn't be around children in classrooms," says Schwab. But the solution, she says, is to move cases forward in a timely manner: "a fair and immediate review of teachers," so both sides can "accurately go over the evidence."

Meanwhile the very idea of teacher job security is under national attack. After a California judge ruled this year in Vergara v. California that the state's teacher dismissal law allowed bad teachers to harm students' education, national anti-union groups are filing lawsuits to overturn teachers' due process protections elsewhere, including in New York.

Due process for K-12 teachers, sometimes referred to as tenure, is often laid out by state law and school district policies, then enforced by unions. After teachers make it through a probationary period that varies by region, often two to three years, they generally cannot be dismissed without evidence of misconduct or poor performance.

Former broadcaster Campbell Brown has launched a media campaign against teacher tenure. Her main talking point: the New York City teachers union protects sex offenders. She even alleges that arbitrators who hear cases are in on it.

Other cities too have pools of teachers still working for the district, but not assigned to classrooms. They're in a gray area—their union contract protects them enough so they can't be fired or laid off completely, but not enough to get their cases resolved.

New York has hundreds. Some were removed from the classroom for allegations of misconduct. Many others simply weren't hired after their schools closed. They remain on paid leave, reporting to substitute positions or to an office where they wait to be reassigned.

New Plan of Action

In L.A., Fuoroli and Schery began to work with fellow housed teachers, trying to get their cases cleared so they could teach again. They organized rallies and meetings, but until this year, got little institutional support from UTLA.

Many of the dismissed teachers, eager for new leaders to take a more aggressive stance, supported the Union Power slate, elected in April. Now Fuoroli is vice chair of a Housed Teacher Committee.

The union is demanding to bargain over the teacher removals. Treasurer Arlene Inouye said the new leaders want to resolve individual cases, but also change the district's practices.

"The plan is very strategic," she said, "to get the school board to follow their own policy. They are violating their own timeline and their own due process."

On paper, district policy lays out 120 calendar days to complete an investigation if law enforcement is involved, and 30 days if it isn't. District officials decide what action to take, then present dismissals to the school board. Inouye said the board is "just rubberstamping" these.

UTLA leaders want to strengthen the contract language to give teachers the right to have evidence presented against them within 20-30 days. If a teacher disputes the charges, they want to be able to take cases to arbitration.

And teachers are appealing to school board members on a case-by-case basis. The goal is not only to clear wrongly accused individuals, but also to persuade the board to be more cautious overall in its reviews of teachers the district wants dismissed.

An Organizing Approach

The new UTLA leaders are talking to as many "jailed teachers" as possible, finding out their stories and coming up with strategies to defend those who are unfairly targeted.

Sometimes this means telling the media. Union activists have highlighted egregious examples that won public sympathy.

Iris Stevenson, choir director from Crenshaw High, was removed from her position and spent eight months in limbo. The district kept its reasons secret, saying only that it was "protecting the kids." Ultimately management alleged that Stevenson had taken kids on an unauthorized trip, a charge she disputed.

Stevenson is a legendary teacher and choir leader—the one who inspired the film "Sister Act 2," in fact. She has traveled the globe with her choir students. They even performed at the White House.

Then there was Greg Schiller, a high school science teacher suspended for helping students make projectile-launching devices for a science fair. (One apparently launched marshmallows.) After five days' suspension he too was told to report to "teacher jail." It turned out the allegation was that he was encouraging students to make weapons.

Parents, teachers, and students rallied and petitioned against both removals. Schiller was reinstated in April, after two months in teacher jail. Stevenson was reinstated in June.

New District Leader

Thanks to UTLA activism, since July, housed teachers are no longer forced to report to offices to wait out their days. They can be at home.

But that small victory added organizing challenges too. Without a worksite, it's harder to contact teachers or work with them on their cases.

Schery and Fuoroli have already received notices of dismissal, and are waiting for the board to decide their fates. Unless the board reverses the district's recommendations, they will go on unpaid status and have their benefits canceled.

Teachers and UTLA officers managed to discredit former Superintendent Deasy over two major failures: the district's billion-dollar iPad deal with Apple, which has since been canceled, and its disastrous rollout of an online scheduling system that left hundreds of kids without classes when school started.

The strong association between the ex-superintendent and the practice of housing teachers may give the union leverage with his replacement, Ramon Cortines. "It's a breath of fresh air," Schwab said. "The negativity has been removed."

This article first appeared in Labor Notes

View Comments


Eighth grader designs standardized test that slams standardized tests - The Washington Post

Eighth grader designs standardized test that slams standardized tests - The Washington Post

A 13-year-old eighth grader in upstate New York woke up on Sunday and decided that it would be funny if she designed a standardized test that made fun of standardized tests. (See below) After all, Sophia Stevens was getting ready to take one of the state's new Common Core-aligned standardized tests on Tuesday, so the subject was on her mind.

Unfortunately, she said, she has plenty of occasions to think about standardized tests because kids have to take too many of them. She doesn't like it, she said, "because teachers are always teaching to the test instead of teaching stuff that would interest us or that they are good at teaching."

She designed a mini eighth-grade reading test, complete with tips on taking the test, a complete reading passage and multiple choice questions to answer. The reading passage begins:

Dear New  York State,


I am not fond of your tests. They do not show you who I am, or who my teachers are. For example, if a student is a bad test taker, you would look at her test and think she is a bad student. What happens if a kid is just having a bad day? You would only see that one test and and think he was an unsatisfactory pupil. Imagine how stressed the teachers are having to rely on their students' test scores as a form of evaluation.


Not all students are the same,  therefore standardized tests are impractical. Albert Einstein once said, "Everyone is a genius, but if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid." These tests can lower self-esteem and cause a lot of anxiety. The tests are so long that, by the last day of testing, some kids end up guessing, just so they can be done. How can you put eight-year-old kids through six days of testing over a two-week time frame?.


Children with special needs have even greater trouble with these exams. The tests are a total waste for them….

Sophia is a high-achieving student (she has a 97.2 average) at Saranac Middle School in Saranac, N.Y. Her mother said she came up with the idea for this test all on her own. She worked on it for hours, and then realized that it was more than a joke. "She has a great perspective," Laura Stevens said about her daughter.

Sophia said she normally has no problem with all of the standardized tests she has to take in school, but this new Common Core-aligned exam was harder than the others. "I'm a little worried about this one," she said.

Here's Sophia Stevens' standardized test that critiques standardized tests:


(Correction: Earlier version had Sophie's school in wrong town.)

Also from The Answer Sheet: A teacher's resignation letter

RELATED: Claire Danes, Eric Holder: What school meant to me




When Teachers, Not Students, Do The Cheating : NPR Ed : NPR

When Teachers, Not Students, Do The Cheating

Opening arguments began today in the trial of 12 Atlanta educators charged in an alleged cheating conspiracy that came to light in 2009.

Prosecutors claim there was widespread cheating on state tests throughout the city's public schools, affecting thousands of students.

The case has brought national attention to the issue, raising questions about whether the pressures to improve scores have driven a few educators to fudge the numbers, but also about broader consequences.

The trial has also raised an interesting racial dynamic. Atlanta is a majority-black city. All 12 defendants are black, as is Beverly Hall, the former Atlanta superintendent. (Her prosecution has been delayed as she is facing treatment for advanced breast cancer.)

Some studies have shown that more racially concentrated schools are somewhat more likely to be caught up in these scandals. Part of the reason may be in the requirements of No Child Left Behind, the 2001 federal education law that mandates these tests.

That law places emphasis on the schools reducing the so-called "achievement gap," and contains sanctions for schools that fail to do so, up to and including closure.

Schools must report "adequate yearly progress" for groups that tend to struggle: racial and ethnic minorities, low-income students, English language learners, and those with learning disabilities.

That means the more of these types of students a school has, the harder it becomes to make adequate yearly progress. The potential for penalties for a school and its employees, is greater. This disproportionate racial impact is why there's a long history of civil-rights lawsuits opposing high stakes testing.


Blog - How Public School Test Scores Impact New York City’s Real Estate Values | Eastern Consolidated | Real estate investment services

Blog - How Public School Test Scores Impact New York City's Real Estate Values | Eastern Consolidated | Real estate investment services

How Public School Test Scores Impact New York City's Real Estate Values

Anyone who lives in New York City knows that neighborhoods with good elementary schools command higher real estate values. Quantifying this relationship has never been easy, but with the recent abundance of test score data, the impact on real estate prices from higher test scores can be determined and the results are compelling. 

Eastern Consolidated compared the average prices for multifamily properties sold in 2009 and 2010 for Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens to average test scores for elementary grades 3rd through 5th for both years. Both the average test score data, from the New York City Department of Education, and the multifamily sales data were averaged by zip code. The prices of multifamily properties were used because these prices are directly related to the properties' rent rolls and serve as an accurate measure of property value. 

 The results by neighborhood showed that most neighborhoods that had high test scores also had high property values such as the Upper East Side (10021, 10028), the West Village (10014, 10011) and Greenwich Village (10013). Still, there were a number of surprises: in a number of neighborhoods, test scores were higher than average when property prices were lower, or the reverse: test scores were low when property prices were high. [Read more

Barbara Byrne Denham directs the Research Center at Eastern Consolidated and is the Editor of its two quarterly newsletters, The MetroGrid Report and Manhattan Economic Indicators, the monthly NYC Employment Alert, as well as a series of Research Reports, all of which are often cited in the press.

Atlanta educator indicted in cheating scandal hired in Alabama |

Atlanta educator indicted in cheating scandal hired in Alabama |

Atlanta educator indicted in cheating scandal hired in Alabama

An Atlanta educator indicted in the Atlanta Public Schools test-cheating scandal has been hired to teach in Birmingham, Ala.

Sandra Ward was indicted on charges of racketeering and making false statements. She pleaded guilty earlier this year to a reduced charge of misdemeanor obstruction. She was sentenced to serve one year probation, repay $5,000 she received in bonus money, perform 250 hours of community service and cooperate with the prosecution.

Ward, a former Parks Middle School reading coach, testified last week that Parks teachers corrected answers on students' state test answer sheets while former Parks principal Christopher Waller took the school's testing coordinator out to long lunches.

Atlanta educator indicted in cheating scandal hired in Alabama photo

The Birmingham City Schools hired Ward as a math teacher in September. Birmingham placed Ward on leave earlier this month, the week before she testified.

In response to questions about Ward's hiring, Birmingham interim human resources officer Amanda Cross said, "Any teacher who has a valid teaching certification has gone through a background check in this state. This employee has both a valid Alabama teaching certification and a valid Georgia certification. "

According to the Alabama Department of Education teacher licensing website, Ward's teacher and administrator certificates are valid through June 2015. She passed a criminal history background check and "is suitable and fit to teach under state law," according to the state website.

10 Of The Most Heavily Armed School Districts In The US - Listverse

10 Of The Most Heavily Armed School Districts In The US - Listverse

10 Of The Most Heavily Armed School Districts In The US


Andrew Lisa

On August 12, 2014, video footage emerged out of Ferguson, Missouri: American citizens were facing off against a small-town police department that looked more like an army unit launching a combat mission overseas. Following several days of unrest in the wake of a controversial police shooting, largely peaceful protesters were attacked by officers in military formation, dressed like commandos and armed with fully automatic machine guns. Rotating turrets, mounted on top of enormous armored combat vehicles, fired tear gas, rubber bullets, and flash grenades at unarmed citizens.

In the ensuing days and weeks, the public would learn about the now-controversial government program that civil libertarians had been clamoring about for years—the US Department of Defense's "Excess Property Program," colloquially referred to as "1033," after the section of the congressional National Defense Authorization Act that made it a reality.

In response to a glut of military surplus—combined with concern surrounding several high-profile school shootings and an increasingly militarized approach to the war on drugs—the Department of Defense gave or sold weapons of war to small, local police departments across the country. Suddenly, tiny police departments with just a few officers were training with fully automatic machine guns, gas masks, night vision equipment, armored personnel carriers, rocket launchers, and anti-mine vehicles.

But it didn't stop there. School districts, large and small, decided to get in on the action, militarizing their school security teams against the possibility of an "active shooter" situation. Here are 10 of the most war-ready school districts in the nation.

10San Diego, California


Photo credit: KPBS

San Diego is known for pristine beaches, laid-back living, beautiful weather—and a six-wheeled, 18-ton Caiman model Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) armored vehicle that patrols their schools. Valued at nearly $750,000, the San Diego Unified School District snagged the MRAP for a cool $5,000—just the cost of transporting it to its new home.

The acquisition created a stir in the beach community. Residents worried that the monstrous combat machine could give the impression that San Diego was at war with its students. Officials responded by removing the gun turret, painting the vehicle white, embossing it with a red medical cross, and filling it with medical supplies and (obviously) teddy bears. The parent of one student lamented that the beastly machine "makes Humvees shrivel up with feelings of inadequacy." Another parent said they would have rather seen the money spent on more "shade trees" on the playground or maybe "another teacher."

9Los Angeles, California


The Los Angeles Unified School District acquired an MRAP of its own from the 1033 program. It is steel plated, 6 meters (20 ft) long, and weighs more than 14 tons. It was designed to battle insurgents on the streets of Iraq—specifically in situations where the lead vehicle in a convoy was blown up, leaving troops in the middle of the convoy trapped and under attack by gunfire from an elevated position. The district said the vehicle "was obtained as a way to rescue students in the event of a large-scale attack that prevented the Los Angeles Police Department and Sheriff's Department from responding." But for now, the MRAP just sits idle.

Not to be outdone by its southern neighbor in San Diego, however, Los Angeles took campus safety to an explosive new level. The city school district beefed up its "readiness" with the acquisition of 61 assault rifles and—just in case—three 40mm M79 grenade launchers that were originally designed for fighting in the jungles of Vietnam.

8Pinellas County, Florida


Pinellas County scored 28 M16 assault rifles from the 1033 program to use in their schools. Use for what, you ask? The police chief stated that if "something's happening on a campus, you don't want to have to get up close to shoot." Can't argue with that. M16s are military distance rifles touted by the Marines as "pinpoint accurate" even at 550 meters (1,800 ft). M16s can be adapted for semi-automatic firing, fully automatic firing, or firing in three-round bursts.

The .40-caliber semi-automatic pistols the school police formerly had would have required officers to get far too close, which is why the chief had M16s on his wish list before he even found out about the Pentagon's surplus program. At around $1,000 a pop, they were "cost prohibitive." But thanks to 1033, the school police can now shoot from afar for just $50 per gun.

7Granite, Utah


School police in Granite, Utah had been carrying M16s that they got from the 1033 program since 2005—"the same kind that were used in the Vietnam War," according to a Granite School District spokesman. But there weren't enough to go around, and Granite didn't want to have anyone feeling left out. The school district recently acquired 13 additional AR15s through 1033, so that every school officer could have an assault rifle in his or her patrol car.

But if we're going to be fair and equitable enough to arm every officer, we can't very well leave the teachers out, can we? A law in Utah—which allows teachers to carry concealed weapons in public schools without telling anyone—drew controversy recently, when an elementary school teacher accidentally shot herself in the leg while using the bathroom.

6Fulton County, Georgia


Fulton County School District picked up two Humvees from 1033. The gold standard for military transport vehicles, Humvees, or High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWV), have replaced most functions originally performed by the Jeep. In fact, when the military first began using them in the early 1980s, soldiers initially referred to Humvees as "Jeeps on steroids."

But the district wasn't satisfied with just the Humvees. They also picked up dozens of ponchos, duffel bags, and sleeping bags. Officials didn't comment, so it's uncertain whether they're preparing for a dangerous situation or taking kids on the coolest camping trip ever. This is especially true when you factor in the yard sale–esque 1033 acquisitions from the school district in neighboring Dooly County. The Pentagon gave officials in Dooly wet-weather gear and a whole bunch of cleaning equipment. Not too bad—until you look at the five M14 rifles picked up by the school district in Bibb County, Georgia.

5Florida Universities And Colleges


The 1033 program extends to higher education as well—and in Florida, it extends far and wide.

Florida International University picked up an MRAP and 49 M16 rifles. The University of North Florida got 11 M16s. The University of Central Florida (UCF) received 11 M16s and a grenade launcher, but they converted their grenade launcher to fire tear gas. The UCF actually used its new arsenal in a recent incident in which school officers "had to confront a heavily armed student," according to school officials. The University of South Florida in Tampa got 20 M16 rifles, and the University of Florida got an armored truck.

Florida leads the pack in the number of colleges and universities whose security personnel received 1033 military gear, but the Sunshine State is by no means alone. At least 117 colleges and other institutions of secondary education across the country have gotten in on the action, receiving everything from trousers (Yale) to MRAPs (Ohio State).

4Aledo, Texas


The seven full-time and 11 reserve officers who protect the Aledo School District are begrudgingly giving back the military rifles they received on loan from the 1033 program. The police chief and security officials there are none too happy about having to return their four AK-type 5.54mm rifles and their single 7.62mm M14. The school district chose not to renew the loan after Ferguson dominated the news.

Aledo officers—like many school officers in Texas—engage in the controversial practice of "student ticketing," issuing Class C misdemeanor citations to students for offenses such as using coarse language or disrupting class. Last year alone, they wrote 20 tickets for using cellphones in a school zone. In one case, a fourth-grader had to stand on a stool to see the judge, while his mother pleaded guilty on his behalf for a school infraction, the fines for which can be as much as $500.

3Edinburg, Texas


Texas is the leader when it comes to school districts participating in the 1033 military surplus bonanza. The Edinburg Consolidated Independent School District equipped an entire "special response team." Officers in the school district's 12-man SWAT unit now carry M4 and AR15 assault rifles, compliments of 1033.

The school district created and armed the specialized attack and infiltration unit in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre, which is when many schools began turning to 1033 for heavier weapons. In the wake of Sandy Hook, formerly open campuses are now much less accessible, and at least 33 states have introduced legislation enabling teachers and other school officials to carry weapons. Some schools have invested in "safe rooms" with bulletproof walls, and some have even purchased bulletproof backpacks.

At least 10 school districts in Texas have received armored plating, tactical vests, military vehicles, M14 rifles, automatic pistols, and thousands of rounds of ammunition from 1033.

2Auburn-Washburn, Kansas


Auburn-Washburn School District in suburban Topeka, Kansas, received some really cool surplus military gear from the 1033 military surplus program. They know what it is, but they're not telling.

Although the district considers it secret "security-related information," officials have agreed to say what their 1033 acquisition isn't, which is a start. Is it a grenade launcher? Getting colder—it isn't a grenade launcher. Is it an MRAP armored vehicle? Getting colder—it isn't an MRAP. Auburn-Washburn agreed only to reveal that their new 1033 gear is "a piece of safety equipment that is part of an emergency operations plan."

Auburn-Washburn School District learned of the 1033 program through a staff member who had a spouse at the Kansas Department of Investigations. From there, new—and apparently top secret—leftover military ordinance was just a phone call or an email away.

1Stockton, California


Back in California, the Stockton Unified School District geared up with a whole bag of goodies from 1033, and officers there are prepared for anything—except, apparently, armed conflict. Among the hardware they received in their $23,588.80 acquisition from the Pentagon are five TV monitors worth just under $10,000, a cardiopulmonary mask package, 10 field packs, an exercise bike, three drug cases, a podium, two communications receivers, and an overhead projector.

Although it is difficult to verify exactly who has received what from the program, the Pentagon insists that a great deal of the surplus hardware they've given away is not related to weaponry at all and is, in fact, much more likely to be mundane. But it is uncertain if that pertains to the vast program in general, which scattered surplus gear across law enforcement agencies and police departments nationwide, or specifically to the 30 or so school districts that have gotten in on the action.

Andrew Lisa is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. Check out more of his work at

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Is College Worth the Cost?

Is College Worth the Cost?

Is College Worth the Cost?

NO JOB GUARANTEES-This is the time of year when high school seniors apply to college, and when I get lots of mail about whether college is worth the cost. 

The answer is unequivocally yes, but with one big qualification. I'll come to the qualification in a moment but first the financial case for why it's worth going to college. 

Put simply, people with college degrees continue to earn far more than people without them. And that college "premium" keeps rising. 

Last year, Americans with four-year college degrees earned on average 98 percent more per hour than people without college degrees. 

In the early 1980s, graduates earned 64 percent more. 

So even though college costs are rising, the financial return to a college degree compared to not having one is rising even faster. 

But here's the qualification, and it's a big one. 

A college degree no longer guarantees a good job. The main reason it pays better than the job of someone without a degree is the latter's wages are dropping. 

In fact, it's likely that new college graduates will spend some years in jobs for which they're overqualified. 

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, 46 percent of recent college graduates are now working in jobs that don't require college degrees. (The same is true for more than a third of college graduates overall.) 

Their employers still choose college grads over non-college grads on the assumption that more education is better than less. 

As a result, non-grads are being pushed into ever more menial work, if they can get work at all. Which is a major reason why their pay is dropping. 

What's going on? For years we've been told globalization and technological advances increase the demand for well-educated workers. (Confession: I was one of the ones making this argument.) 

This was correct until around 2000. But since then two things have reversed the trend. 

First, millions of people in developing nations are now far better educated, and the Internet has given them an easy way to sell their skills in advanced economies like the United States. Hence, more and more complex work is being outsourced to them. 

Second, advanced software is taking over many tasks that had been done by well-educated professionals – including data analysis, accounting, legal and engineering work, even some medical diagnoses. 

As a result, the demand for well-educated workers in the United States seems to have peaked around 2000 and fallen since. But the supply of well-educated workers has continued to grow. 

What happens when demand drops and supply increases? You guessed it. This is why the incomes of young people who graduated college after 2000 have barely risen. 

Those just within the top ten percent of college graduate earnings have seen their incomes increase by only 4.4 percent since 2000. 

When it comes to beginning their careers, it's even worse. The starting wages of college graduates have actually dropped since 2000. The starting wage of women grads has dropped 8.1 percent, and for men, 6.7 percent. 

I hear it all the time from my former students. The New York Times calls them "Generation Limbo"  — well-educated young adults "whose careers are stuck in neutral, coping with dead-end jobs and listless prospects." A record number are living at home. 

The deeper problem is this. While a college education is now a prerequisite for joining the middle class, the middle class is in lousy shape. Its share of the total economic pie continues to shrink, while the share going to the very top continues to grow. 

Given all this, a college degree is worth the cost because it at least enables a young person to tread water. Without the degree, young people can easily drown. 

Some young college graduates will make it into the top 1 percent. But that route is narrower than ever. The on-ramp often requires the right connections (especially parents well inside the top 1 percent). 

And the off-ramps basically go in only three directions: Wall Street, corporate consulting, and Silicon Valley. 

Don't get me wrong. I don't believe the main reason to go to college – or to choose one career over another — should be to make lots of money. 

Hopefully, a college education gives young people tools for leading full and purposeful lives, and having meaningful careers. 

Even if they don't change the world for the better, I want my students to be responsible and engaged citizens. 

But when considering a college education in a perilous economy like this, it's also important to know the economics.  

(Robert Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy, University of California at Berkeley
and the author of Aftershock: The Next Economy and America's Future, now in bookstores. This post originally appeared at






Vol 12 Issue 96

Pub: Nov 28, 2014

NOW US DOE wants to TEST TEACHERS and REGULATE their Training

Under the plan, the federal government would require states to issue report cards for teacher preparation programs. (Paige Trisko/AP)
 November 25 at 8:49 PM  
The Obama administration unveiled a proposal Thursday to regulate how the country prepares teachers, saying that too many new K-12 educators are not ready for the classroom and that training programs must improve.
Under the plan, the federal government would require states to issue report cards for teacher preparation programs within their borders, including those at public universities and private colleges, as well as alternative programs such as those run by school districts and nonprofits such as Teach for America.
The rating systems, which would need approval by the Education Department, would for the first time consider how teacher candidates perform after graduation: whether they land jobs in their subject field, how long they stay and how their students perform on standardized tests and other measures of academic achievement.
“Nothing in school matters as much as the quality of teaching our students receive,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan told reporters Thursday. “We owe it to our children to give them the best-prepared teachers possible.”
It will be years before any changes take effect. The administration will take public comments for 60 days, and it plans to issue new regulations by September 2015. But states would not be required to issue report cards for teacher programs until April 2019, well into the next administration.
Arthur Levine, former president of Teachers College at Columbia University and a critic of teacher preparation programs, said the country needs urgent action. “Our colleges and universities have waited far too long to transform these programs to meet the needs of both today and tomorrow,” he said
Terry W. Hartle, senior vice president at the American Council on Education, which represents colleges and universities, said the move is “a significant expansion in the federal role overseeing state government. But it may well change considerably before it becomes final.”


This is the executive summary of the statement of the American Statistical Association on the use of value-added assessment to evaluate teachers. Please share it with other teachers, with principals, and school board members. Please share it with your legislators and other elected officials. Send it to your local news outlets. The words are clear: Teachers account for between 1 and 14% of the variation in test scores. And this is very important to remember: “Ranking teachers by their VAM scores can have unintended consequences that reduce quality.”

ASA Statement on Using Value-Added Models for Educational Assessment

April 8, 2014
 Executive Summary
Many states and school districts have adopted Value-Added Models (VAMs) as part of educational accountability systems. The goal of these models, which are also referred to as Value-Added Assessment (VAA) Models, is to estimate effects of individual teachers or schools on student achievement while accounting for differences in student background. VAMs are increasingly promoted or mandated as a component in high-stakes decisions such as determining compensation, evaluating and ranking teachers, hiring or dismissing teachers, awarding tenure, and closing schools.

Graft Scheme Between Deasy and WASSERMANN Implied as Deasy Lives it Upon Foundation's Philanthropy

Former Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy traveled more than 100,000 miles last school year, equivalent to circling the globe four times, according to a KPCC analysis of credit card records.
Before he stepped down, Deasy charged more than 30 business trips to his district-issued American Express card over the course of the 2013-2014 school year, traveling to New York and Washington, D.C., at least five times each. 
LAUSD's contract with Deasy, who remains on the payroll as an administrator until the end of the year, states the district is responsible for his expenses. But theWasserman Foundation,  a private family foundation headed by Casey Wasserman, ultimately covers the tab, district officials confirmed. 
Deasy continued to travel on district business after he announced his resignation Oct. 16. His decision to step down followed a string of problems with the rollout of key technology projects and growing tension with school board members.
His successor, Ramon Cortines, issued a travel ban on Oct. 27,  the day after Deasy and more than 20 senior staff wrapped up at a Council of Great City Schools conference in Milwaukee. 
"Our top priority in this District is to ensure that we meet the needs of our students," Cortines wrote in a staff memo on the travel ban, making no mention of the Milwaukee trip. "There are critical issues that must be addressed now to guarantee student success. These challenges require the focus and attention of all school and office-based staff members."
Deasy declined to be interviewed for this story.
Michael Casserly, executive director for the Council of Great City Schools, said urban superintendents are often required to travel, be it to testify before legislatures or to share best practices with other leaders in the education field.
"Being the head of any organization is representing that organization to the outside world and advocating on its behalf," Casserly said. He said he travels about 40 percent of the month representing a coalition of the nation’s largest urban school districts.
"It's no different for school superintendents as it is for the head of GE," Casserly said.
Map: Deasy's travels
(Click on the above image to enlarge it. Map by KPCC's news clerk Daniella Segura.)
KPCC obtained two years' worth of Deasy's credit card expenses, beginning on June 30, 2012 and extending through the end of June 2014, the close of the district's fiscal year.