education


Everything I Needed to Know I Learned on the School Bus
by National Hall of Fame Teacher Alan Haskvitz

It was a very cold morning. Bitter cold. And I didn’t have to go to work. Smug and delighted, I closed my eyes and enjoyed one of the greatest benefits of retirement: time. And with this time I began to make connections on what I had become and why and how. The quilted bed cover couldn’t hide the underlining commonality of my choices. Yes, after seven decades of life the unifying theme, the force that created my life style, paid for my childrens’ education, home, and way of living was the yellow school bus.

From kindergarten through junior college the stodgy, sometimes packed school bus carried me to my destination without fail. And, as a teacher of 40 years plus years, I watched my students use the same style school buses. All told, after 70 years of life, the one constant was the school bus. Remarkable, in that time they essentially have not changed. The seats are the same, the ride the same, and the doors are the same. Sometimes I even wonder if bus drivers are not cloned with the same personality and demeanor.

The bus is above all steadfast. You were always eager to see it come and eager to see it leave. So the first thing the school bus taught me was to be consistent and on-time. So lesson number one, in life, as at the bus stop, don’t be tardy or, to coin a phrase, you are going to miss the bus. Many a homework assignment that was not eaten by the family dog has been forgotten in the rush for the bus.

I believe of all the institutions we honor the school bus is the most under appreciated. Put it in the public service category. It is expected to be there and it is, rain or shine. But what is most appealing about the yellow school bus is that it is also the most respected of all vehicles. Police cars and ambulances and fire trucks need blaring sirens and bright lights to get respect. The school bus just has yellow paint and it works. So lesson number two is that what you wear is important to others regardless of your thoughts on the subject. Indeed, it does not matter what you really are, it is the perception that counts. You don’t have to call attention to yourself what you really need is to be yourself. If you are successful at this people will see you for what you are and that is how respect is earned.

The bus teaches us lessons, but so do its riders. Jerking open, the school bus door opens to expose to the riders even more important lessons. Those huge entry bus steps are an entry to a stage. For a few brief moments you are the center of center of attention. Before you spreads mankind and it can be intimidating. You can accept the honor and quietly look for an empty seat or a friend, or you can call attention to yourself with some wit or action. Regardless, you will blend into the masses and your journey begins. Consider your entry a job interview. Prepare yourself for acceptance as well as rejection. So lesson number three is to be accepting of others as some days they may return that favor.

The school bus neutralizes any individuality with a set of strict rules. The bus driver is the enforcer and dictates the rules. The driver is the fascist government using the mirrors to watch you at all times and the operator even has the authority to stop traffic. Anything considered anti-social is considered cause for alarm. If the bus driver gets up and walks through the masses something needs correction. The Constitution is on longer in effect. So lesson three is that the driver represents society and is there to interpret norms. A prank, well placed blow, hair pull, or even an “accidental” trip are felonies on the bus.
This obedience to a dictator is also reflected on what school is designed to do: follow the rules. Indeed, by the third grade the damage has been done. Line up, sit down, be quiet, play nice at recess, and don’t offend. In other words bow to authority. Since a substitute teacher has not really earned that authority all bets are off and anarchy can rule for a while.

When you enter a school bus your initial concerns are where to sit, who is going to sit next to you, and what happens if you are sitting next to someone of the other sex. Unless you are a late arrival, you usual have a choice. On a good day a friend is waving to you. On an average day you take an empty seat and make yourself look at big as you can so there isn’t room for anyone else. On a so-so day you have to sit beside another of the same sex. On an almost horrible day you have to sit beside someone of the other sex and that person is just as unhappy as you are. On a really terrible day you are the third person on that seat and brace yourself with your foot in the aisle. As in life, you are not always able to control who you work for or your neighbors. The school bus seating is thus lesson number three: always be thankful you are on the bus and make it a learning opportunity.

The bus ride can be anywhere from a half-hour to several hours and just sitting there is a lost opportunity. Sharing and learning from others adds spice to your life. An old friend can be trusted to help you. Trying to hog the whole seat is a missed opportunity, even if it is more comfortable for some people to be by themselves. Sitting next to someone of either sex is a chance to share and learn. If that person happens to be attracted to you or vice versa the opportunities to practice small talk are precursors to finding a significant other. In fact, sitting on the bus is unique in that that person is essentially trapped by you. You have their attention for long periods of time and there is little they can do to avoid it. For example, let’s say you aren’t the most beautiful creature to walk the Earth and don’t have much confidence. The bus seat is the perfect place to prove that looks aren’t everything. Your charm, humor, intelligence, and general ah-shucks effectiveness can all be practiced. And unlike airline seats, where the person can get up to go to the bathroom and disappear for most of the trip, the school bus is as close as you are ever going to get to a captive audience. So lesson number four is the bus is the perfect place to learn how to deal with different people.

The bus is where you can gauge your popularity. If you take a quick look around and there isn’t anyone signaling to you to share a seat the odds are you really haven’t tried to make friend. After all, this is the same bus you have been taking all year. Okay, for the first couple of week’s maybe strangers, but after that you should have found your pack. Most people accept their fate and sit silently with a stranger. Mistake. The bus has given you the opportunity to learn about new people. So lesson number five is that the ride is a chance to turn a stranger into a friend, and, with luck, someone who will welcome you aboard in the future. So the next lesson is to consider each bus trip your chance to see what it is like to be the president. You don’t have to be yourself, but you better be significant even if that requires a few Fox News like “facts” to enhance your street cred.

Sitting with your friends brings about another aspect of your growth, the ability to bullshit and see if it sticks. Any rumor with sex is especially  ripe for repeating. Teacher rumors, who is going with whom, and funny stories are all part of bus conversation. So lesson number six is to practice your ability to develop a rapport with facts that suit you and prefect your small talk.

The last ones on a crowded bus are the beggars. With all the seats taken they had to look for the least likely to hate you for being the third one on the seat. If you were fat you knew immediately that everyone on the bus feared you would choice their seat. With luck there were two skinny girls and you could at least get one cheek on the seat and brace yourself with your aisle leg. The beggars taught you three things that could help you in the future all wrapped up in one lesson. First, look at people in the eyes. If they divert their attention they are yours. If they stare back they are up to your challenge. Secondly, don’t trust friends to move over for you. They may be your friend, but that doesn’t have to mean that they want to share with you. Thirdly, being in the aisle, being uncomfortable, isn’t always a disadvantage. When the bus stops you are the first out. You are now in control. You can slow up a busload of students as they cue up behind you looking longingly for a way to pass. So turning negatives to positives is something that can prove valuable in life and is lesson number nine.

A bus full of students can be a torture zone if just one of them has a hygiene or a gas problem. Telling someone they smell can be considered bullying. Being clean is not everyone priority and some resort to chemical weapons; cheap after shave or perfume to mask the odor. You have three choices. First, if there is room you can move to a vacant seat. Secondly, you can let your eyes water and bear it. Finally, you can tell the person about their problem. The latter requires a sophisticate approach best left to the diplomats or self-assured girls. So lesson number ten is the fact that the bus teaches you problem solving and people skills.

Lesson number eleven is that regardless of how confident you are getting on the bus you may be defeated by the caste system. This system is based on an unwritten rule that those of your caste sit in certain parts of the bus. The most dangerous is the backseat caste based on the fact that distance from the bus driver builds boldness and a breakdown in discipline. Being forced to sit in a different caste area is as close to death as you can come unless your mom visits your classroom. So the lesson to be learned here is to be flexible and hopefully, learn to be tolerant of others.

Lesson twelve is two-fold. First, making friends with the bus driver is time well spent. The person in charge can give you confidence and even allow you to adjust the windows. That is power. So the lessons to be learned here are to try and control the situation, give kudos to those that can help make your day, and the importance of taking the responsibility of making friends with the leader.

The emergency door and practicing emergency procedures is lesson thirteen. Basically, the bus is offering you the knowledge that having an emergency plan is vital in life. You want to be prepared.

Perhaps the most important lesson the bus ride can teach you is how to deal with rejection. You are among the first on the bus get a primo seat and make yourself as big as possible. Suddenly the doors swing open and there is the person you have a crush on. You make eye contact, you slide over, and nothing. You know the person saw you, and yet there was clear rejection to your offering. Within the confines of the bus ride there was nothing that you could do. You have but one choice, except defeat and move on to another prospect. So lesson number fourteen is that the bus is teaching you is that love may be fleeting, but there is always another bus ride. And always remember that Rosa Parks turned a bus ride into a national movement.

Finally, the bus teaches you to plan ahead. You must stay alert, know where you are, and realize that if you miss your bus stop it might take you longer to get where you want to go.

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A Business Model for Students and Teachers: A Paradigm Shift
By National Hall of Fame Educator, Alan Haskvitz
http://www.edu-cyberpg.com/Ringleaders/al.html

Want to improve student achievement the easy way? Teach them about business. Here is an easy to follow plan that can be done in advisement periods.

There is little doubt that successful business leaders would like to take charge of education. There is also little doubt that none of them have spent time teaching students in a realistic atmosphere. However, that does not mean the students cannot benefit from ideas that business fosters such as a business model. What I am proposing is that each student be taught the basics of a business model and use that information to turn themselves into that business, essentially improving their output.

The business plan for the student is essentially creating a marketing plan for themselves as a person and as a potential employee. As they create this plan they are going to find weaknesses that need to be improved by taking action and they are also going to find areas of strength and learn how they can turn these attributes into strengths that can attract others to their viewpoints. Regardless, the business plan is just that, a plan. It can be changed as needed and the objective can also be altered as age and experiences sway viewpoints. However, it is essentially that the plan be reviewed and maintained so that the goals are fresh and assessable. For example, a student might want to select an occupation that they perceive as high paying and seek to direct their objective in that direction only to find that they do not have that same goal when the amount of time and education required is factored into the equation.
Not be disregarded is the importance of items such as developing communication skills in a variety of ways. Speech classes may have gone the same way as shop classes, and so it is vital that such excuses s being shy or afraid are soothed over by opportunities in school. Students may want to run for school office, but are reluctant to speak before a large group. A good business plan must include these opportunities and, win or lose, builds the basis for a better future.
Teaching business in the lower grades is seldom seen for a variety of reasons of which the most vivid is probably that it isn’t on the state’s standardized test. But, creating a business plan and giving students the opportunity to explore, modify, and grow with it can be incorporated in most core subject areas. For example, in math classes problems that require the student to compare various occupations based on income are simple to use, but what can be added to that problem is the cost of reaching that goal in terms of education expenses. Language arts classes offer the opportunity to create essays that allow each student to express their viewpoint and have it critiqued builds character and communication expertise. Having students present work in every class builds speaking skills that are necessary through life. (add more specifics)
A while back a found a museum that offered an interesting lesson that included the Who Am I poem. I modified that to include that Who Am I and added Who Do I Want to Become. I next added the requirement that the student develop a list of how they would meet this change from present to future and to develop a business plan to reach it. The results were called Investing in Yourself and, based on the letters from students I have received years after my class, were life changing. And isn’t that what a good business plan should be, a plan to improve. As the Japanese call it, Kaizen, continuous improvement.
A Step-by-Step Guide
The first step would be to have each student make a list of their attributes. These could include the obvious such as a grade point average, but also organizations they belong to, sports, activities outside of school, hobbies, and even items such as knowing how to juggle.

They need to list these so they can see if any of these attributes can be applied to what the customer, the teacher, wants in terms of performance.

Next, they need to make a graph of what they spend their time on during the course of the day. This should not be taken lightly and having a parent or guardian sign it would be of value. This is their allocation of resources. They also need to add any resources they feel that they may need such as paper, pens, thesaurus, or technology.

The last step of the preliminary stage is to look at their progress reports for the past few years and set a realistic objective for their business. If a student has a C average setting a goal of a B- would be realistic.

So they have now taken an inventory of skills, available time, and an objective for their business.
The next step is to meet with consultants with their plan. They need to meet with their parents and at least two other students in the class to compare their available time and objectives. Each consultant must sign-off on the plan indicating that the objective is possible.

The second phase is difficult because it requires the student to think about and write about the changes that will be necessary for the plan to be effective and the objectives meet. What is the students willing to give up to have enough time to study and reach that goal? What skills do they need to refine and improve upon?

Again, once this has been done the student needs to meet with the consultants and modify the plan as needed.

The next phase is for the student to make a visual of the plan. They can create a PowerPoint or a story board or even a video. In that way they have a record of what their business hopes to accomplish.

Finally, the plan needs to be implemented. This can be done slowly or all at once depending on the plan. Regardless, at the end of each day the student must make an inventory of what was accomplished in reaching the goal. They also need time to weekly check with the consultants and make any modifications to the plan that are necessary. The student must also take this end of week report to the president of the company (i.e. teacher) so that he or she can mark on the class chart if the target was reached. The teacher should have a graph for each student, made by the student, on which the progress marks are made.

Since students have a variety of classes or products, it is best to implement the business plan for one class at a time. Students should also keep a diary of their thoughts during this process to give to the teacher at the end of the unit so that the ideas can be reviewed from the student’s aspect.

Conclusion: In the end the student shall have a much better understanding of four important elements that successful people share. First, they will learn how to budget time. Secondly, they will gain a better perspective on their strengths and weaknesses. Third, they will be able to modify and change plans and direction as objectives are changed. Finally, they will learn to work with others to improve their product, which is their future.

Free Classroom Resources for Women’s History Month

This site is excellent and contains free resources, lessons and ideas to help motivate students at all grade levels and subject areas.

https://mycalcas.com/2016/03/classroom-resources-for-womens-history-month/

Discipline Help Ideas and Resources
by Alan Haskvitz
http://www.edu-cyberpg.com/Ringleaders/al.html

Discipline is probably the most difficult of all areas to deal with as it encompasses issues that may be related to a vast array of difficulties that can try the expertise of the most experienced parent and educator. Contributing factors may include personal problems, improve medication, self-esteem issues, and peer pressure.

Indeed, in my 45 years of teaching at every grade level and nearly every subject I have had my fair share of problems all of which were unique in some regard, but needed to be dealt with in a manner that resolved the issues for all involved. With this in mind I put together a variety of free resources that may be of value in being proactive and help to prevent a discipline problem. If you have additional sites that you would like to share please email me at calcascares@gmail.com

Be Proactive
Essentially there are three main ways to deal with these issues starting with being proactive. First, let the students know behavior expectations early. From the start of the year be positive. Always look for ways to reinforce good behavior. Developing rapport with students is also essential. I used an information card that included the usual contact numbers and such items as favorite games, people, family pets, and other information that would enable me to get to know the students better. If students feel you are approachable it helps eliminate problems and also encourages them to confide in you of concerns that would otherwise be kept secret.

Consequences
Consequences are important, but they need to be appropriate and consistent, but always leave yourself room for accommodations depending on the circumstances. The ideal combination is to be firm and fair and calm.

Communicate
Perhaps the most important way to prevent behavior issues is to establish good communications with the student, parent, and administration. Keeping them informed of issues can help prevent an escalation that can take the joy out of teaching. I try to contact parents the first week of school and have a handout for Back to School Night that explains classroom expectations. As well, I document what I have done to keep the parties involved aware of the situation.

Expect the Unexpected/Teachable Moments
One day some students in my classes jumped out of their seats and ran to the back of the room. Some were screaming. Now this could have been a planned event to challenge me, but from experience I knew I had to remain calm. I walked over and saw a large spider had entered the room and caused the students’ reaction. I quickly handled the situation, but the students were unsettled. And so I turned it into a teachable moment by asking them to describe what they had seen and their actions. Some indicated a fear of spiders and were swept up in the reaction of the crowd. The appearance of the spider provided a teachable moment that even extended outside of the classroom. Most importantly it turned what could have been a behavior problem turned into a learning opportunity.

Here are a variety of sites that can provide ideas and resources to help you with discipline related problems. They run the gamut from simple to complex, but each of them does provide insights from teachers, students, parents, and theorists.

This site provides insights an overview of common problems and ways to handle them and includes administrator actions as well.
http://teaching.about.com/od/classroommanagement/

Importance of protecting yourself California Casualty Umbrella Policy
https://www.calcas.com/personal-umbrella

For more a more complete list of free material and ideas on student discipline go to https://mycalcas.com/2016/02/discipline-help-ideas-and-resources-for-teachers/

By Alan Haskvitz
http://www.edu-cyberpg.com/Ringleaders/al.html

Autism continues to be a concern for all parties. Perhaps the best way to help with this concern is to communicate ideas and resources. Towards that goal, I have put together some of the most valuable I could find.

First, autism is a brain disorder that impairs the ability to communicate, socialize, and maintain what are considered normal relationships with others. Students with autism may have varied levels of skills, capacities and behaviors. Even the cause of autism is not understood at this time, although medications are prescribed to relieve symptoms. So, you need to treat every autistic-diagnosed student as a distinct individual and take time to read their reports and be aware of any medications and their possible side effects.
The major problem when teaching several students with autism, besides the uneven development in learning, are issues of classroom management, behavior, differentiated instruction, and even how best to use teaching aides.

Finally, you must be attuned to the type of medication our student may be using. A carefully developed Individualized Learning Plan is essential and meeting with the parents necessary to make consistent progress.

Unfortunately, due to its nature, autism success stories are not easily duplicated. Just because one method works in a certain instance does not make it transferable. I recommend you read widely from the resources below and glean ideas that might help your students.

National Autism Center
Offers a great many resources for teachers and parents, including an online library.
http://www.nationalautismcenter.org/

The Autism Society 
A great organization for families looking for resources and research. They designated April as Autism Awareness Month.
http://www.autism-society.org/

Cindy’s Autistic Support is a link site that provides all sorts of tips and advice for parents and teachers.
http://www.cindysautisticsupport.com/

PositivelyAutism
An autism blog with how-to articles and more.
http://www.positivelyautism.com/

Autism on SlideShare
This site provides a list of sideshows that offer insights on autism. This is an exceptional site, but it takes time to navigate the many entries.
http://www.slideshare.net/search/slideshow?searchfrom=header&q=autism

Autism and Asperger Syndrome
This site offers the basics, plus classroom ideas. It’s a good primer on these two conditions and resources for helping those impacted.
http://www.mugsy.org/connor1.htm

Structured Teaching Classroom Ideas (Autism, ASD)
This Pinterest page offers visuals for primary and elementary.

22 Tips for Teaching Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders,
Handy and essay to follow ideas for educators and parents.
http://teaching.monster.com/benefits/articles/8761-22-tips-for-teaching-students-with-autism-spectrum-disorders

Autism Fact Sheet
From the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. This site
presents lots of ideas and explanations that can provide insights.
http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/autism/detail_autism.htm

Read The Autism Teacher
A blog full of good teaching ideas.
http://theautismteacher.blogspot.com/

Autism Resources for Teachers.from the NEA
http://www.nea.org/home/15151.htm

Teaching or Business: The Million Dollar Question
By Alan Haskvitz

For me, it was an easy choice. The lure of a career in business with its tax advantages, lucrative starting salary, and advancement based on my skills were enough to off-set the “touch the future” altruism of teaching. In economics terms, teaching was an opportunity cost and the benefits of a career in business were overwhelming.

It isn’t that I didn’t feel that teaching was a noble profession and I clearly benefited from having some exemplary teachers, but it didn’t take for me long to figure out that I wanted my own office more than my own classroom.

Choosing a degree in business especially made sense; dollars and cents wise. The classes were always interesting and I could apply almost everything I learned to the real world. Courses in economics, law, and sales promotion all had real life applications. My teaching preparation friends were taking education philosophy and education history classes taught by professors who, by and large, hadn’t been in a classroom in years, if at all. Even their methods classes were usually taught by instructors who had no record of achievement in the classroom leaving my friends having to look back to their days in public school for ideas on how to teach.

Anyway, I digress as the real reason I selected a career in business was money. There was the excitement of closing a deal and almost everything, every day was related to the acquisition of money. Since my parents were hard working, but still quite poor, I wanted to make them proud. Indeed, when I graduated I had five goals for my life. Two were personal, and three were based on money. Even the personal ones ended up being related to my business career. I was proud of my choices. It only took me two years in business to find myself driving a real Shelby Cobra to work, living in a great bachelor apartment, and being able to take two hour lunches. My company was paying my expenses to earn my MBA and I could even work at home at times. I had my office, my secretary, my parking spot, and access to the executive lunch room. Life was good.

cobra copy

Starting Salary

So, what would have happened if I would have become a teacher? First, the starting salary. I would be making $20,000 to $30,000 less per year. Yes, teachers are alleged to only work ten months, but they are not paid for the other two months. Worse, I knew that teachers have to constantly return to university to upgrade their skills and meet credential requirements. They were rewarded with slight income increases as they moved columns, but they had to face other realities. First, they had to pay for those courses and secondly, the columns topped out. In other words, even if they were the best teacher in the world they could only make a salary that was designed to be fair for all. Try that in business. Imagine the best salesperson getting the same as the worst or not being able to negotiate one’s own salary based on your accomplishments. The National Teachers Hall of Fame has over 100 inductees all of whom make the same as every other teacher in their district with similar experience and education. Do you think that the inductees in the National Football Hall of Fame make the same as their teammates in similar positions? Business is based on performance. I wanted to be paid for my performance.

As an aside, teachers’ pay money out of their pocket, sometimes in excess of $500, for classroom supplies. Those in the business world would be surprised at that and would ask why your employer didn’t buy what you needed. I found no answer.

So, on average, after 30 years without any significant changes becoming a teacher would cost me well over a half a million dollars and probably much more. But it could be nastier. There is also the uncertainty of teacher retirement plans as some states may not make their complete actuarial payment every year. And, as Time reported, there is almost a $500 billion shortfall for funding teacher pensions and that gap is growing. Of course I didn’t know that when I made my decision to stick with business, but I am not surprised. I wanted to have a more secure retirement based on my own investments and backed by a company I could count on as opposed to elected officials who could be manipulated by the whims of those reluctant to pay increased taxes. Yes, some industries have pension plans that have failed, but I still had the ability to put money into my own retirement plans and manage them myself. I also discovered that in California, as well as several other states, if I was a public school teacher over 66 percent of what I earned working at jobs that paid Social Security would be cut. It is called the Windfall Provision and is totally unfair, but apparently teachers didn’t have the clout to remove this financial punishment. So if I worked at jobs paying Social Security and was scheduled to make $1000 a month at retirement, the government would cut that to $300. If I was married and my spouse had Social Security benefits I would not be entitled to them as well.

I also knew that to be a teacher in California required at least four years of college plus a year of teacher preparation. By sticking to my business goals that amount of money and time could have given me a master’s of business administration and the difference in salary is startling. According to a NACE study, I would be making an averaging starting salary of $70,000 while those students in education averaged a little over $48,600. The master’s degree is worth nearly $12,000 a year more for an MBA and the college costs in time and money are the same. It just wasn’t adding up to select a teaching career especially when it could very possibly cost me a million dollars in lost wages.

Women Leaders Missing
Of course, I knew I would be working longer hours and not have the benefit of a union to protect me. But I also knew that I was confident in what I could do and the possibility of one day being my own boss. This leadership dream is something that is missing in education, especially among women. In an AASA study of the 13,728 superintendents only 1,984 were women even though 72 percent of all teachers are women. Add to that the fact that 75 percent of superintendents did not teach at the elementary level and only 130 were former elementary school teachers. Finally, as most experienced teachers know, coaching provides an excellent step up to administration positions with a sizable majority of superintendents indicating they had a coaching assignment while working as a teacher or building administrator. This was looked at as having leadership experience by those doing the hiring. Having students who excelled in the classroom apparently doesen’t count as much. This results in a quandary as few elementary teachers have opportunities for head coaching assignments. On the other hand, women in business also face an uphill battle with only 14.2% of the top five leadership positions at the companies in the S&P 500 are held by females, according to CNNMoney. It may be of interest to note that by contrast 36 percent of business leaders in the burgeoning marijuana industry are women. Just saying.

Teacher Benefits
An early report indicated that since 1996 teachers’ salaries have risen one percent and business majors 12 percent, according to a study by Sylvia A. Allegretto and Sean P. Corcoran (1). In terms of comparing wages for those with similar education, the authors found that since 1979 teacher wages relative to those of other similar workers have dropped 13.1%. And, when comparing those with comparable skill requirements such as accountants, reporters, registered nurses and inspectors, teachers earned 14.1% less when comparing hours worked.

The cost of teacher benefits is also a concern. Since 1994, the disadvantage in wages has not been offset by improved benefits, according to the Allegretto and Corcoran study. For example, teachers in 2002 received 19.3% of their total compensation in benefits, which was more than the 17.9% benefit share of compensation of professionals.

As a teacher I would have to work about 190 days a year. That would leave me significant time to get another job, travel, or upgrade my skills as a teacher. That was a potentially awesome benefit, but I knew there was more involved. This was proven in a study by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development that shows that American elementary school teachers spend more hours actually teaching students than peers in any other surveyed country and the fact that teachers frequently have to spend their vacation time taking classes to maintain their certification. SchoolsMatter reports that 62 percent of teachers have other jobs. The New York Times repeats this figure.

Administrators Can Have it All

There is a bright side for teachers. If you become an administrator you are richly rewarded. Even at an average sized middle school, the principal can earn more than a nursing administrator running a large hospital who is responsible for supervising more staff, clients who are sick, dying, or worse, and also evaluating personnel. The rewards for administrators are even better if they reach the superintendent level. In fact, being a school superintendent is truly a gift from the benefit gods when it comes to income. In one California school district with very few problems the salary and benefit package was over $250,000, which could provide a lifetime retirement of over $130,000 per year after 30 years in education and Fox Business reports that superintendents in 12 states make more than the governors.Sweet. Of course that is the exception. However, in the business world I knew that if I did well I would be rewarded accordingly or I could find better opportunities elsewhere. A teacher has to deal with step and column.

Stress
As for stressful jobs, Salary.com ranked teaching as the 10th most stressful occupation. So those vacation days apparently are both coveted and needed by educators. I mean to be in the same category for stress as military personnel, fire and police, and surgeons does shed some light on the importance of teaching and its demands.

The average turnover for all teachers is 17 percent, and in urban school districts specifically, the number jumps to 20 percent. The National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future estimates that one-third of all new teachers leave after three years, and 46 percent are gone within five years.

There is a different type of pressure in business. Essentially, it is to stay viable. Usually that means solvent. Either you are trying to stay in business or helping someone stay in business by doing more business. The pressure is difficult to assess as some companies treasure their employees and others try to squeeze them dry. Long hours and pressure from above are not unusual in the business. However, if you are good at your job the financial rewards usually come or you can start your own business or take a chance on moving. Teachers may find themselves literally stuck in a job if they find that their years of experience don’t count at another district when they try to leave.

Another concern when making a career choice is what you face on a daily basis. In the business world that could mean facing customers, designing plans, making changes, checking spreadsheets and more, but it does not mean facing 20 to 200 or more students and their parents on a daily basis. Customer complaints are usually dealt with an apology, a return of funds, or a force of denial. Legal action can be brought as well. A teacher has to answer to something that was said or done from the standpoint of an eight-year-old. Conferences with a parent, child, teacher and administrator are legendary. In many cases the story told by the child is denied by the teacher with an explanation. Whether it is accepted or not is based on the way the administrator backs up the teacher or parent. It could go either way with the administrator trying to stop the allegations from going to his or her superiors and the parent seeking redress or removal of the child from that teacher’s classroom or even the district. In the business world decisions are usually made on a dollars and cents basis. In education such objective evidence is seldom seen.

Education that may not pay off
A teacher who wants to become an administrator must go through an administrator education program. These take time and require financial obligations. The result may not even result in their selection as an administrator. The MBA may take additional courses, but they make the individual a more attractive candidate for future jobs. In education a candidate with “too much” education could be considered too expensive for a school district. Filling a job with the least experience, qualified teacher is an interesting corundum for a school district. Given a choice, would a district hire the most experienced and educated candidate or the least expensive?

Sadly, an individual who had an administrator credential, two bachelor degrees, and a master’s degree went to a California beach community and applied for the job. His background was impressive and filled with accomplishments. Every month he returned to check on his application as he knew the district was hiring. Knowing he was driving a long distance to make these visits, a secretary took pity and told him that he was never going to get hired because he was too expensive for the district. They were looking for new teachers that cost less. The word on the street is get the job first and afterwords go back for your advanced degree.
Schools of education are staffed by well-meaning professors who are usually far removed from the classroom and may be involved in the “publish or perish” syndrome in some cases. A successful classroom teacher is seldom chosen to teach at these institutions even though it was recommended by the national accreditation program. The result is classes are that are more theory with application of methods and curriculum classes awaiting student teaching assignments. The student teacher mentor who assist these future educators may not be the best for them. What are the requirements for these teachers of teachers? Do student teachers evaluate mentor teachers? Are student teachers left in the classroom to fend for themselves as the master teacher takes the time to float around the campus after a couple of weeks of observation?

Interestingly, the leading causes of teachers leaving the classroom is a lack of respect and support. How to deal with these is never mentioned in any teaching preparation program I have found. In the business world if negative data such as this was provided there would be an immediate reaction to stem the loss. When W. Edward Deming went to Japan to help that country’s manufacturing industry he came up with a multiple point plan. This plan was implemented and enabled great improvements to be made. How many of these do you think school administrators would be willing to make to improve education and teacher retention?

Create a constant purpose toward improvement.
Adopt the new philosophy. Be prepared for a major change in the way business is done. It’s about leading, not simply managing.
Stop depending on inspections.
Improve constantly and forever. Emphasize training and education so everyone can do their jobs better. Encourage staff to learn from one another
Provide a culture and environment for effective teamwork.
Implement leadership
Don’t simply supervise – provide support and resources so that each staff member can do his or her best.
Be a coach instead of a policeman
Figure out what each person actually needs to do his or her best. Emphasize the importance of participative management and transformational leadership.
Eliminate fear
Make workers feel valued, and encourage them to look for better ways to do things. Ensure that your leaders are approachable and that they work with teams to act in the company’s best interests.
Eliminate management by objectives.
Provide support and resources so that production levels and quality are high and achievable. Measure the process rather than the people behind the process.

Reading through that list it is apparent that education could learn a great deal from business. When I was visiting Baylor University I saw such an education leadership class using a business textbook. It was refreshing and certainly shows that the two fields don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

Conclusion

Knowing the financial deficits in teaching and the stress it is no wonder that the teaching occupation is stuck with George Bernard Shaw’s Man and Superman quote, “Those who can do, those who can’t teach” label. Is that true, hardly. But it is used consistently when people brow beat teachers with such half truths as you don’t have to work holidays, you get great benefits, you have a guaranteed job.

Again, more negativity toward teachers. In fact, outside of lawyer jokes those about teachers are the most vindictive. Why is that? Perhaps it is because teachers deal with millions of students every day and it only takes one remark or action to taint the whole bunch. Or perhaps it is because business people are trained to protect themselves. They can take classes in business law, public relations, sales promotion, and offer incentives to the public to praise their work. When a firm donates something it is usually in the newspaper and on social media. When an educator donates their time it is seldom mentioned. Teachers don’t trumpet their successes, business leaders do.

So the decision to choose teaching over business can be boiled down to one main question: Is it job security over financial gain? Once a teacher has tenure they may be set in that job for life providing the educator follows the rules. In business there is no such security blanket.
Stress, chances for leadership, a desire to serve society, working less days, and the difference between a gold watch and a crayon written thank you note can’t be measured in terms of dollars.

And, yes, I choose education after a brief fling in business. I still have the crayon note and I treasure it more than the million dollars. Did I just say that out-loud?

About the Author: National Hall of Fame teacher has accumulated over 30 state, national and international awards based on the success of his program. His work have been featured in books, periodicals, and on electronic media. He also worked in business. He is retired and does inservices.

(1) Sylvia A. Allegretto. Sean P. Corcoran American Economic Review and the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management.

Are teachers better off in conservative or liberal states at retirement?
By National Hall of Fame Teacher Alan Haskvitz
http://www.edu-cyberpg.com/Ringleaders/al.html

Most public school districts have a retirement plan that is based on your income as an educator. Some base it on your highest salary and some of the best three years. Obviously, salaries change and so do the politics and so the chart I have made reflects those salaries from the National Education Association (NEA) and are fairly current.

The data does not reflect the living costs in each state. The cost of living certainly is going to eat up more of your pay check to live in some areas of California over those in Nebraska. However, this study was not designed with that as a criteria because some teachers may want to retire in another state which may have a higher or lower cost of living. Thus, if you are looking for good salary and, perhaps, willing to move, this chart may be of significance knowing that in the next few years there is going to be a lot of jobs as the Baby Boomers move into retirement and leave significant openings for new hires. Some states may require a few more courses to gain your accreditation in that state, but those courses are tax deductible and the cost of the move may be deducible as well. It is best to check with your tax person.

The first consideration is to ask yourself does it pay (income wise) overall to work in a conservative state. Well, not really. Here is what A GALLUP poll lists as the most conservative states. I have added that states average and starting salary from the NEA site as well. However, most salary data is a couple of years old. Nevertheless, the average percentages should remain similar.

Here is the salary information for the most conservative states (starting-average)

Alabama
$36,198
$47,949
North Dakota
$32,019
$47,344
Wyoming
$43,269
$56,775
Mississippi
$31,184
$41,814
Utah
$33,081
$49,393
Oklahoma
$31,606
$44,373
Idaho
$31,159
$49,734
Louisiana
$38,655
$51,381
Arkansas
$32,691
$46,631
Nebraska
$30,844
$48,997

Here is the salary information for the most liberal states (starting-average)

Massachusetts
$40,600
$72,334
Oregon
$33,549
$57,612
Vermont
$35,541
$52,526
Delaware
$39,338
$59,679
Connecticut
$42,924
$69,397
Washington
$36,335
$52,234
Rhode Island
$39,196
$63,474
Hawaii
$41,027
$54,300
New York
$43,839
$75,279
California
$41,259
$69,324
New Jersey
$48,631
$68,797
Maine
$31,835
$48,430

Average starting salary conservative states $34,00* average salary $48,200*
Average starting salary liberal states $39,900* average salary $61,000*

Retirement differences

Although these figures may no longer be accurate, they do provide insight into the averages a teacher may expect. As for retirement numbers, studies have shown that when a teacher retires after 30 years their retirement is typically in the 60 and 75 percent of her final salary range.

It does not take long to see that those working in the liberal states not only make more money to start, but are going to make significantly more when retiring. A teacher working in a conservative state who retires with an above average salary of $50,000 should get a retirement check of $30,000. A teacher in a liberal state making a slightly below average of $60,000 would get $36,000 based on 60 percent. In California, for example, the majority of teachers are getting in the range of $55,000 to $70,000 a year.

I did not factor in Social Security as the Windfall Elimination Factor can deprive teachers of the full payment they should have received while working jobs that require Social Security deductions. The Windfall Elimination can eliminate 66 percent of their retirement from Social Security even though they have paid for it over the years. That is why teachers who have been in other occupations for a significant amount of time might want to look at how much they are going to lose by becoming a teacher in those states where the Windfall is in play. It could cost them thousands of dollars a month.

There is no way to factor in cost of living for various cities. However, there is a site that helps you with this http://money.cnn.com/calculator/pf/cost-of-living/. I compared Bismark, North Dakota to Los Angeles, California. The cost of living in Bismark was $50,000 and for Los Angeles $67,000. The average salary for a teacher in North Dakota was about $47,000. The average salary for a teacher in Los Angeles was $59,000. A budgeting teacher in Bismark could break even, but the Los Angeles teacher needs to find a second income. However, when it is time to retire, the California teacher is going to have $36,000 coming in and the North Dakota teacher under $30,000. Essentially, $500 a month more and the truth of the matter is that it could be far more with $100,000 teacher salaries in California for teachers with over 30 years of experience becoming commonplace.

Bottom Line

If you are free to live anywhere, willing to adopt to new surroundings and requirements, you might want to consider working in a liberal state and retiring in a conservative one. Indeed, some states don’t tax Social Security and others don’t have an income tax. It is a difficult choice to move from the known to the unknown. The best advise I can give is that after you have done your homework, after you have made your decision to start a new life in a new state remember that wherever you go, there you are so know yourself.
* Figures are rounded off and may not be current.

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