Comments about ‘Hundreds rally against new Ogden teacher contracts’

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Published: Thursday, July 14 2011 1:00 p.m. MDT

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As a long time employee of Ogden City school, I have to say I am all for the merit pay. If that had been in place for the last three years maybe my son's teachers would have got off their butts and attempted to find out why he wasn't working in school, instead of just flunking him and shrugging.

Being a classified employee, I haven't even GOT a pay raise in three years. I expect a pay cut for this year, the way things are going.

Springville, UT

@ Braxton:

Let's say a Utah teacher makes the national "average" at about $42K per year. They don't in Utah, but let's say they do. 42k divided by 180 school days equals $234. A pretty good salary, yes? Divide $234 by 8 hours, and that is $29.25. Pretty good wages, yes?

But let's be honest. A teacher's day is not just the 8 hours at school. There are meetings before and after school, there is lesson planning and grading, and there is a lot of unpaid advising. Also, if you divide say $30/hr by 30 kids, that's less than what babysitters get. The truth is teachers, who are paid to teach our kids get less than $2/hour per child.

And let's be honest on another issue. It takes a teacher about 12 years with a Master's in Utah to make $42K. And that summer vacation? If teaching is so grand, why do teachers all over Utah see a need to work a second or third job during those 10 weeks?

Oh, and all of these figures, of course, are before taxes and other deductions like health insurance and retirement savings.

Buy a nice house on that.

H. Bob
Salt Lake City, UT

As a product of the Ogden School District, and the son of a former teacher in that district, I have to chime in here. I know that unions are anathema to many in our conservative state, but the anger against teachers and their unions is misplaced. We have all, through the social contract we agree to as citizens, agreed to pay taxes to educate every child. There are benefits to this that far outweigh the costs. I hope at least we can all agree about that.

Because others have been touting the right to know website, I did a little digging there and elsewhere. My high school AP English teacher, who has been teaching for well over 30 years and is among the top five teachers I ever had, in school or college, makes about the median salary for an RN in Ogden, and $20,000 less per year than a brand-new attorney. OSD's plan will, in the end, discourage anyone like my former teacher (who did it for the love of teaching) to take a job there. Our schools are fast becoming mere holding facilities for delinquents. We need to pay our teachers more.

Laura Ann
Layton, UT

I happen to know that if you are in anyway accused of inappropriate behavior with a child here in Utah, you are automatically put on leave until the matter can be investigated. If they allow rapist to keep their jobs in Washington, they need to immediatley fix their laws. I know many people on this discussion board have complained about bad teachers, but no one has said that their child has had a bad teacher themselves. I know there are bad teachers, but that is generally the exception. Parents need to complain if they are unhappy. Believe me, there is nothing more intimidating then a call to the principal, or if necessary the district if you are a teacher. You can be fired, but most parents can't be bothered to complain and then go through the correct channels. Ogden School District has some of the lowest performing schools in the state. Teachers can't fix every problem. I'm so glad I don't work for them. Also, keep in mine, no teacher is forced to join an association or union here in Utah. I know many teachers who don't belong and that is their right.

Magic Pog

Utah's Rights website is not correct. It sometimes adds money for benefits and other things. Plus teachers can get extra money for out of class things to raise that number. One big thing is Drivers Ed. Many of the $100,000+ teachers are also drivers ed teachers which work around 4+ hours outside of teaching hours.

Boise, ID

Idaho did away with much of the socialist teacher union nonsense. Utah should do the same. Teacher unions are a plague. They serve no purpose. There are people lined up around the block for teacher jobs. If current teachers don't like the working conditions and pay let them go somewhere else. Good teachers are a dime a dozen.

Provo, UT

We need facts before deciding what really is going on in Ogden. As to getting rid of poor teachers its very hard after they are off provisional status. Unless a teacher breaks the law they are usually put on remedial status and helped to improve. I had a teacher across the hall who was remediated five times in ten years but never fired. And as to the three month vacation in the summer, never got one. There were always lessons, units, tests, labs etc. that needed improving and updating along with the classes I needed to take to keep my license current. And never during the school year did I work 40 hour week, always fifty to sixty. Good teachers get that way by hard work and stay that way the same way.

Springville, UT

@Magic Pog:

Those extra duty assignments (coaching, driver's ed, etc.) are not what I am talking about. Each of those duties calls for additional hours and are paid accordingly. I got my numbers off of a website that reflects national averages.

However I do know that in some school districts head football coaches will get 9% of their base pay, while the advisor for student council or an academic club will receive considerably less.

Maybe the answer is to pay football coaches less for what they do, or even require pay to play implementation in our public schools. Of course, the day Utah de-funds football across the board will widely be seen as a sign of the apocalypse.

The way I see it is that the general public expects more and more from public school teachers and public education but is less and less willing to pay for those expectations.

Provo, UT

@Magic Pog: I never got paid to stay after school to help students, or coach Science Olympiad or interview Sterling Scholars or write recommendations or have conferences with parents or departmental meetings or grading or get paid to take summer or after school classes, etc. And I spent at least $300/year for classroom supplies, books on improving teaching. I also had summer jobs and after school jobs to help pay for my own kids education, music and sports. I went into teaching because I love kids and seeing them learn and succeed. Why else would anyone spend 6 1/2 hours/per day with 30 to 40 teens/class?

Farr West, Utah

To Braxton: I am spending my "summer vacation" working because my regular salary as a teacher is too low.

To those who keep mentioning "tenure": public school teachers in Utah do not have tenure. Once you have attained "Career Educator" status it simply means you can not be fired without a legitimate reason.

To those who recognize that the UEA is not a union: Thanks for being right on. Contributions to the association are strictly voluntary. There are competing associations, and there are some who choose not join to any association, with no repercussions (except for missing out the many benefits offered by the association).

To those who blame teachers for low test scores in the Ogden School District: Do you really belive that the teachers there are that much worse than in higher performing districts? Students there face many family, economic, language, and other barriers to success that would completely overwhelm most children regardless of how well the teachers perform.

Ogden Aggie
Ogden, UT

I am a teacher, and the issue here is not merit pay. I would like to think I am a rather effective teacher, and would welcome some extra pay based on my effectiveness. The issue is that the school board, on a whim, has implemented a merit pay system with no information as to how teacher merit will be measured. The other big question is how to measure effectiveness. A simple test score at the end of the year does not cut it. And are we willing to improve test scores that the cost of less instruction in the arts, higher drop out rates, decreased value on critical thinking/creative writing etc... Needless to say it is much more complicated than to just say that Ogden teachers need to man up and be happy to have a job.

Herbal Tea Partier
Kearns, UT

Well, obviously what the schools have been doing up until now hasn't worked. Weber County has most of the lowest ranked schools in the state. (The other one is in our neighborhood).

It seems the administration is trying their best to improve the schools. The teachers seem to fear a report card of their own skills and abilities, so they are protesting this.

I say, try the contract out for a year and see if it improves things. It just might.

Utah Teacher
Orem, UT

I am a teacher. I'm more than happy with my job. I love teaching my middle school students. They keep me active and I enjoy their humor and energy. Working 10 months is just right for me. I work long hours during the school year (9 or 10 a day), but the break during the summer makes up for it. My mind needs the break more than my body. It is hard to be thinking about your job all day and night. Last year I made $59,000. I'm o.k. with that.

My students averaged 90% on the CRT test and my classes usually have a waiting list to get in. Bring on the merit pay.

The Ogden school board can do what they want but they handled this totally wrong. They now have the reputation for not being teacher friendly and you will see an exodus of teachers from the district. Yes there are people that would like to have those jobs if the teachers leave or are fired. However, there is a reason those people wanting the jobs don't have them. Good luck Ogden. You are going to need it for many years to come.

Sugar City, ID

Maryquilter: You are right on target. Determining who is a good teacher and who is not is quite subjective, but research has shown that it is also accurtate; especially in determining the best and poorest of teachers.

Taylorsville, ut

Could you please cite the research you are referencing? Please remember this is not about merit pay, it is about not having a voice in their contract.

Just to clarify, there is absolutely no evidence that merit pay improves student learning; including a five-year study by Vaderbilt University.

We need to work on an authentic and fair evaluation and hold administrators accountable for doing their job.

Sugar City, ID

Squirt: The research is in a thesis I read at BYU. It compared ranking of teachers based on who the ranker felt were the best to the poorest teachers in the school(just their gut level feeling) by two different members of the school staff (principal and superintendent, principal and school counselor, principal and asst. principal etc.) What it showed was remarkable agreement for the best and poorest teachers and less agreement in the middle 80%. Though teacher unions hate the concept, when a principal can pick his own staff based just on who he/she wants to open a new school or restaff a school that has been performing poorly, there has been remarkable success. Subjective evaluation is accurate, it's just hard to measure because the people doing the ranking are usually using the same criteria, it's just very difficult to measure objectively.

Magic Pog


Unless of course you happened to be "subjectively" evaluated by someone who has a disagreement with you personally.

Taylorsville, ut

Thank you for the information. However, I can cite at least 25 multi-year studies which suggest differently. I can clarify, however, that the union is not opposed to merit pay.

That is the fact that most people who have a similar belief as yourself, do not want to hear. I have to ask why? I guess it is just to have someone to blame for our lack of respect, funding, and continuous slamming of teachers.

In Alpine school district the Board and the Association worked together to create their merit pay plan.

Merit pay is not the answer but a fair evaluation system would go a long way.

Salt Lake City, Utah


With all due respect most people with very little training can pick out the top 10% of teachers and can also pick out the bottom 10% of teachers in the school. Those teachers will be in every school, the key is to keep the 10% performing at that level, move the middle 80% toward the top through professional development and continued support. The bottom 10% must be provided with the remediation necessary to be effective. If the remediation does not take, then these teachers need to find another line of work. I would suggest that a good administrator who is the educational leader can do this. I would also suggest that a good administrator who is an educational leader within the building will be able to make a pretty accurate determination of the potential success of a new teacher in the first three months. If that teacher is struggling, that administrator needs to be in the classroom providing remedial support. If that teacher does not show adequate improvement they should be terminated. If administrators would fire teachers who cannot do the job in the first three years it would solve a lot of the problems we have now.

Farmington, UT

I recently listened to an NPR radio discussion about the merit pay system. A teacher from the Alpine School District said they had instituted a merit pay system there several years ago. He said he had no problem with the system, however, after using it for what sounded like a couple of years, the idea was pulled because of lack of funding for increasing the salaries for the teachers they considered to be the 'better' teachers. With the state of Utah always complaining about the budget and how they don't have enough money for teachers and schools, how would they fund another program like this one anyway? Would the money come out of the Ogden School System's budget or the state's general education budget?

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