Economics Works

Now that Jim and his great family are enjoying a break on the OBX, I thought some far Left stories from the New York Times might brighten his day.

I retired from teaching at the end of the 2008-09 school year. That was right in the middle of the financial crisis. Unlike Goldman Sachs, which was paid 100 cents on the dollar for credit default swaps, teachers didn’t get bailed out. In some states many were fired. At my former employer, Richmond’s Governor’s School, I believe they have had one two percent raise since I left. Even in these low inflationary times, teaching school has meant a decline in real income.

As a former teacher of economics, I often wondered how long teaching could remain a viable career for a recent college graduate. Today’s NYT answers this question.

Teacher shortages are showing up all over the country, from California to North Carolina. More interestingly, teacher prep programs at the university level dropped 30% from 2010 to 2014. According to this article, some districts are putting students in the class room before they finish their programs. I’m not sure how reflective the article is of the situation in this area, but the trend of a developing shortage does appear to be national.

— Les Schreiber

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15 responses to “Economics Works

  1. Les, you may be shocked to know that I’m all in favor of paying teachers higher salaries — as long as they are held accountable for performance!

  2. And I am also and I’m in favor of non-public schools as long as they are also held accountable to the same standards.

    Further – I point out that the State DOES fund core academic education and leaves it up the the locality to decide what more they want to fund and in most of Virginia – many more millions of dollars is spent on curricula that is extra and is discretionary.

    We have TOO MANY teachers – teaching things that are NOT core academic and billing the taxpayer – instead of those who want the extra courses.

    We spend more money on education than almost every other country n the world – yet we totally suck at the quality of the education that most kids receive because they’ve take inch-deep, mile-wide amenity courses rather than core academic and career/technology foundation courses which are the backbone of schools in Europe and Japan.

    Our problem is that we waste money hand over fist then whine about there not being “enough” money.

    • Larry,

      Can you describe the core curriculum found in Japan/Europe and how it differs with American curriculum? Do Europe and Japan offer electives to high school students or is there a set curriculum with no deviations?

      I tend to agree with you about too many electives in high school, but I admit ignorance as to the curriculum found in other nations and their attitudes toward electives.

      Thanks.

  3. Europe, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Canada tend to focus more on core academic – the things you will see them outscore us on the PISA and NAEP tests.

    Programme for International Student Assessment

    “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: An American Agenda for Education Reform,”

    http://www.ncee.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Standing-on-the-Shoulders-of-Giants-An-American-Agenda-for-Education-Reform.pdf

    Most have nationalized common-core type curriculum

    In this country – private schools, with less generous finances also tend to focus more on core skills.

    you can see the specific definitions for proficiency levels here:

    nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/achievement.aspx

    on 30% of kids in the US meet the standards

    take a look at math:

    nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/mathematics/achieveall.aspx

  4. Les,
    I know it’s a side point, but please explain what you mean by Goldman got paid “100 cents” on the credit default swaps (CDS). Do you mean it was the government that paid 100 cents? Or other market players? And are you really referring to the CDS, or instead the CDO? I’m afraid that very often these statements about what Wall Street did and didn’t do are overblown.

  5. Fairfax County Public Schools used much of its federal stimulus money to save staff jobs. This speaks volumes about both the federal government and the local school system in Fairfax County.

    • I don’t know where Fairfax would rank against the other countries. Massachusetts ranks about 7th.

      some say that if you took the best State schools out of the US group that the US would rank every lower – like 40th… or worse.. the only reason they stay at 24th is the better state schools in the country.

      and if you REALLY want to get UGLY – compare the rural schools in the us , especially the Southern ones.. whose graduates largely depended on manufacturing jobs… not that different from Virginia.

      and another bad reality is that no matter how good Fairfax gets – if the rural Va schools don’t get better -the Fairfax county grads will end up paying the entitlements and the school subsidies for ROVA.

  6. The issuance of credit default swaps, in effect, insurance on collateralized mortgage obligations in effect centralized much of the risk in the hands of AIGFB. Following the demise of Bear Sterns in early 2008, the rating agencies began to downgrade AIG forcing FB to put up increasing amount of collateral as demanded by their counter parties in the CDS market. Goldman was their biggest client. After the “Lehman week end” when the world almost came to an end AIG was short of cash and to decrease the size of the potential government bailout it was suggested in some quarters that as FP’s largest client they ,Goldman, settle for an amount slightly less than par. According to most accounts they refused.If you are really interested in this I suggest you read the ruling in a case brought by Greenberg,in the name of CV Starr Companies,wherein the judge ruled the fed buyout and loans to AIG were illegal but no financial compensation was awarded because they would have been busted anyway.

  7. Yes. But to be paid by who to whom? fed buyout and loans to AIG is not a payout to Goldman, unless AIG was making good on their insurance to the many folks who held CDS”s. Do not understand the meaning of no financial compensation awarded. Who would have been busted anyway? and how does that impact Goldman’s position.

  8. We seem to have quite a few folks in the schools that may not all teach, I suspect. In my local VB high school with about 2000 students, here are some 38 of the job functions under Resource and Special Education, some of which certainly are teachers and certainly necessary (in addition to the three assistant principals):
    Athletic Trainer
    Distance Learning Assistant
    Driver’s Education
    Gifted Resource Teacher
    Head Day Custodian
    Head Night Custodian
    In School Suspension
    Instructional Technology Specialist (2)
    Library Media Assistant (3)
    Media Liaison
    Reading Specialist
    School Improvement Specialist
    School Resource Officer
    School Social Worker
    Student Activities Assistant (4)
    Technology Support Technician
    Special Education, Dept. Chair (2)
    Special Education (9)

    It was good to see there are six instructors in Health & “Physcial” Education …. their web site spelling, not mine.

  9. and chances are – that ALL of these positions are paid for by local taxpayers – not the state – and that includes their pensions and health care.

    Now that you’ve found the existence of these positions – some homework for you.

    Find out how many of the positions actually exist as employees, how many there are , and what the cost is.

    My experience has been that trying to find out how local taxpayer money is actually spent – especially on discretionary teachers – is not an easy thing.

    I’m not opposed to any of these positions – with the following caveats:

    1. – that they are accounted for in the budget.. in terms of what positions and their cost. That taxpayers know what they are paying for beyond what the state requires.

    2. – that the school is not claiming to have class size or other academic resource issues that require more money in the budget to resolve.

    3. – that the school has good core academic SOL scores in K-6 and by good – I mean as good as the best schools in the state – across the board – for all demographics.

    4. – that the school has a well-functioning vocational education program with a high graduation rate for those students.

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