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August 25, 2018 · OPINION

Addressing the teacher shortage and teacher pay

By Ronnie Ross

Recently, FauquierNow published “School officials battle teacher recruiting challenge.” Fauquier County schools should be lauded for the way that they have approached staffing in an era when teachers are in short supply. However, the fact is that, as good as the school system might be at hiring teachers, we, as the article indicates, are facing a teacher shortage.

While there may be many causes one could point to for the teacher shortage, as Superintendent David Jeck suggests, perhaps the biggest and most obvious might be teacher pay. Most folks will agree that teachers should make more money, especially given how many of them spend their own money on school supplies. However, I am not sure folks know exactly what Virginia teachers face.

Over the past 15 years, teachers in Virginia have consistently earned anywhere from $3,000 to $7,000 below the national average. When one adjusts for inflation, Virginia teachers have actually had their pay cut by 10 percent over this time (the national average is “only” a 3-percent cut). Since 2009, the pay cut has been by about 9 percent. During this time, nationally, teachers have been paying more for health insurance. This is most noticeable in the amounts teachers pay towards their premiums, which have been increasing. So, while teachers are making less money, they are paying more for benefits.

So, yes, let’s give kudos to Fauquier County Public Schools and all their hard work, definitely. And, also, yes, thankfully, this last state budget finally gave our teachers a 3-percent raise. Both of these things are laudable. However, to have truly great teachers, we need to pay them.

The writer, who teaches at the independent Highland School in Warrenton, has announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination next year in the Virginia Senate 27th District election.
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nonewtaxes · September 8, 2018 at 11:43 pm
That's true. Total Expenditure per Student = $County + $State + $Sales Tax + $Federal

Based on that information it shows that Fauquier County pays what it can to support the school system.

sshrader · September 7, 2018 at 9:44 pm
"On a property tax basis - the basis for which schools are funded, both individually and on a whole, Fauquier County residents support the school system to the same extent as its surrounding counties."

Each county has a different percentage of state and federal funding, there are many factors that determine how much each area is eligible to receive. Many of the surrounding counties cover a greater percentage with local funds, some less.
nonewtaxes · September 7, 2018 at 3:50 pm
On a property tax basis - the basis for which schools are funded, both individually and on a whole, Fauquier County residents support the school system to the same extent as its surrounding counties. For people who want to teach, for the teachers market, Fauquier County pays, relatively, the same as its surrounding counties.

High, low, or on par is not an abstract measure. It is a relative measure fully supported by economic literature and the market. The P/E ratio is a relative measure of stock value across companies in the same industry. Houses are appraised based on the Method of Comparables. No two companies are the same and no two houses are the same but we can, and do, value those entities on relative basis.

"1, Taxes are what they are due to a decision by our democracy, and I inherently respect that decision, even more so given that it is locally made."

Then you must respect the amount of support to the school system because it was set by an elected government body. And if this elected government body set the pay scale for teachers and they are not happy then they, the teachers, must be wrong because, as you say, you respect the government's decision and this was the decision of the Board of Supervisors.

2, Teachers and schools reach market-based deals. Both can say no and work or hire elsewhere, so this is purely the market."

This too is true. While you focus only on math teachers the job outlook for social science teachers is bleak. When a math teacher or other teacher leaves the school system and go into the corporate system they begin to work the full year, are held accountable for their work, realize what healthcare really costs. I have to wonder if all these great jobs were available why would they choose teaching? And if they chose to teach, going into the job knowing the pay scale, are they unjust in complaining about pay after the fact?

The last two paragraphs were directed to Obrakta as he mentioned both days worked and pay for teachers vs others. My bad for not drawing a line there. He's a teacher. He knows the system. He can teach me what I don't know and my understanding can improve.

Maybe the market is broken. If the local market for teachers teaching is at parity and in equilibrium and teachers are paid too low then maybe another way to judge the value of teachers is to compare them to other jobs with similar required education, hours, responsibility, accountability and the like.
Jim Griffin · September 7, 2018 at 1:41 pm
NNT: You've written by my machine's count 2,458 words in this thread to my 1,665, and 561 of mine were this last answer devoted to answering questions specifically posed to me by name.
nonewtaxes · September 7, 2018 at 12:44 pm
Tirade much?
Jim Griffin · September 7, 2018 at 11:27 am
I've written nothing about days worked or the metrics for paying teachers. I simply respect the market around these choices.

Neither am I "uncivil" about GDP. You raised it in relation to school finance, where it has no use other than your suggestion that it proves we pay "enough" already. I reject that notion because our elected officials, chosen by the voters, decide "enough."

It is an abstract number, not individualized and ill-suited for financing schools. I do not think we need to measure enough, high or low, by reference to our "capacity to pay" -- all abstract substitutions of judgment.

Two things matter, and they do not include whether you or me thinks the salary is too high or too low, or whether we think taxes are too high or too low, or what the GDP says:

1, Taxes are what they are due to a decision by our democracy, and I inherently respect that decision, even more so given that it is locally made. 2, Teachers and schools reach market-based deals. Both can say no and work or hire elsewhere, so this is purely the market.

GDP is an intelligent guess at economic output, but economic output is not the measure we apply to school finance. The voters have chosen property value as their measure, and so relative economic output is irrelevant when property value is the chosen marker.

I even took the point of GDP proxy and observed that income taxes -- which, like GDP, track revenue in the form of income -- are rejected for the equalizing effect and loss of local control. I never said you propose using GDP, but I did observe it has no place in this discussion and you keep bringing it up because you think it proves your point. I disagree.

I cannot comprehend what you are asking in your last sentence. Are you asking me what professional I compare to, or what professional is like a teacher? I don't think it matters either way, thinking each job unique. Certainly the market sees them as unique.

The market for teachers is nationwide and exceeds academia. Math skills are prized in many industries and those teachers are coveted by some of them, including our local defense agencies and contractors. Teachers are mobile and have wide choices.

That all professionals you know are on flat salary is a generalization with which my experience differs, and greatly so. Each "professional" job is different. I cannot generalize about them although you seem ready to do so, even going so far as to call some teacher work babysitting.

Resist the temptation to second-guess their work and compare them to one another. That's what markets are for -- markets set rates better than anecdotal supposition about others in whose shoes we do not sit.

Let's review: Local democracy determines school finance and that's the best process. Educator wages, terms, conditions are market-based -- not in our control -- though our response to the market is in our control and we are experiencing -- as are others nationwide -- teacher shortages.

The market is very instructive as to what happens when shortages occur: Either price adjusts, or substitutions are made, which is tough because it is very difficult to substitute around a qualified, certified teacher. Robots haven't reached the level where we can substitute one for a human teacher.
nonewtaxes · September 7, 2018 at 10:35 am
Mr. Griffin,

To use your quote "The key is an open mind. It has seemed you see only one path..."

You have repeatedly stated that I espouse using per capita gdp as the tax basis for school funding. I do not. I merely suggest that it could be used as a proxy - an approximation - an educated guess. Since there is a high and positive relationship between gdp, income, and property value using gdp is reasonable. Please stop trying to put words into my mouth. Its uncivil.

Also, the market for school teachers is local. Taking a look at the local market - our county and the surrounding counties - and using four (4) economic metrics, it seems that Fauquier county is on par, at parity, in equilibrium with the market. The county, based on those relative metrics, neither pays too much nor too little to teachers.

Days worked is a fair comparison. It is better than hours worked by the average American. If you want to be treated like a professional than you must act like a professional. Every professional I know is on salary. They do the amount of work required to get the job done. Almost all take some work home.

Myself, I travel for one week every month. I get paid travel time and for days worked but I do not get paid for those 4 nights a month away from my family. But that's the job. It's what required to get the job done.

Last year SOLs were given in early May. School let out in late May. For those 2-3 weeks between SOLs and end of school the teacher did nothing but babysit.

Comparing teachers to professionals, which professional would you compare to?

sshrader · September 7, 2018 at 8:22 am
Nonewtaxes- There is a lot of information to be found on how schools are starting to shift, if you are interested. If you can find the video of the Fauquier schools presentation about the "Profile of a Graduate", that is very helpful in explaining how teaching is shifting to help students become more prepared for the world outside of education and some of the changes in assessment and teaching that will occur. I watched the video on a facebook stream through Fauquier Excellence in Education but I do not have a Facebook account, at the time the video was available to watch without an account, so I cannot easily search and find the video to link for you. Here is a link to the basic information on Fauquier schools site:

This article has a good summary of why changes are occurring.
"Our school systems are still set up much like they were 100 years ago. Traditional schooling still relies on grades, tests, homework, lectures, competition, punishments and rewards.
 it’s become about “making sure we can cram in as much information and make school as businesslike as possible.”
What’s wrong with that you say? Well, for one. It’s turning off today’s kids.
What students, parents and teachers crave instead is this, Jahn says: a deep connection and purpose for doing what they’re doing. Young kids start off school curious and excited. By 11th grade, polls show 70 percent have checked out. For many, school isn’t relevant. There’s a lot at stake if the system isn’t preparing children to think and work in a world radically different from the last century.
Employers are looking for a different kind of graduate than the kid who came out of school at the turn of the century.
Now, they want future employees who can think outside of the box, ask complex questions, and be self-starters at “solving a problem, designing something [and] collaborating with others,” says Jason Glass, the new superintendent in Jefferson County.
“So as a parent, you should be asking that question. Is my child – whether 5 years old or 15 – learning in a way that’s different than I did? If they’re learning in about the same way, something’s wrong.”
Some argue testing has narrowed what kids learn about, sapping their curiosity. School choice has worked for some to get test scores up, but has it changed what happens in classrooms for all kids?
If one thing’s clear, there’s no magic bullet. No one right way to educate children. But as the education system has moved to the far side of the pendulum, the side that’s heavy on tests and accountability, many say it feels at the same time schools have moved away from what teaching and learning really should feel like. So the task before some teachers and principals is figuring out how to innovate in a system that’s geared toward conformity."

There is no simple answer on the best method of teaching, usually in is a combination of approaches and often the effectiveness of any approach has various factors. What you refer to is called direct instruction, the most basic and typical approach. There will always be a need for some direct instruction.

J Obrokta · September 7, 2018 at 6:39 am
The use of days worked to make comparisons between salaries isn't quite a fair one to make, because a full day for a teacher is more like a day and a half!

A better comparison might be in hours worked. According to a recent Pew research study, the average American worker puts in 46.8 weeks per year, with 38.7 hours each week. That comes to a total of 1,811 hours of work per year. I realize this average includes all workers, so it isn't a perfect statistic if we are making comparisons by education level.

I'd kill for a week in which I only put in 38.7 hours. I'm on contract for 37.5 hours per week, but when you count evenings spent revising lessons, supporting students at events, and grading essays every Saturday morning, I put in much more than that. We all do. The union a couple of years ago had teachers track their actual hours worked, and while it varied a lot we had many people putting in between 50 and 70 hours each week during the school year.

Taking out summer break, Christmas, and spring break, teachers are still on contract for 38.4 weeks per year of full time work. If those weeks are at the low end of 50 hours each week, we are still looking at 1,920 hours of work, or a little more than the average American.

It's not exactly the plush schedule that outsiders believe it to be. Most of us look at our summer as something more like the compensation time that other jobs would officially track and offer for overtime work.

I'm not complaining, and I love my job. And on some level I even enjoy the crazy schedule of working like mad and then getting in some longer breaks. But analysis of teacher pay should really look at hours rather than days because it isn't a typical 8 hour and then clock out and go home kind of job.

Best regards,

Jim Obrokta
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Jim Griffin · September 6, 2018 at 11:20 pm
I am not convinced there is a better method for financing schools than local property tax, especially with local control the goal.

Besides, how might GDP get factored into payment on an individual level? I truly do not see a measure like GDP, which is after the fact and not in any way individualized, leading to a fair tax for schools.

Don't get me wrong -- I do not oppose GDP. I simply think it impractical, wholly less practical than income taxes themselves, which people generally oppose as regards education due to control issues and the generally equalizing effect of non-local finance. If we want all Virginia schools financed roughly the same, we would want state income tax or -- if practically implemented, GDP (but how?) -- as the measure.

I've seen around the world very different assessments of what people can afford, tax rates that vary from around 30% in the US to around 60% in, say, Nordic countries. All instituted and maintained with democracy at the core. I cannot think of a better method than democracy for determining what people can afford or what we should pay.

The key is an open mind. It has seemed you see only one path, that you cannot imagine paying any additional money for our schools. I try to keep an open mind -- the goal is of course to minimize expense, but we can surely prove penny wise and pound foolish. Value, not cost, should drive the discussion around school spending.

You've asked repeatedly: What is too much? What is too little? I have no answers, only the market as a guide. If we are experiencing teacher shortages -- and we are -- Mr. Market is telling us we need more to attract teachers.

BTW, that's not just more here. We are competing with many who are also experiencing shortages nationwide, and they too will allocate more for teachers, not because of some arbitrary notion of enough or too much or too little but simply because that is the cost of attracting qualified educators.

Truly, I think it wonderful teachers and educators are the object of a competition. They deserve it. They contribute mightily to society and are underappreciated here in the US.
nonewtaxes · September 6, 2018 at 10:35 pm
June, July, and August.

If a college educated professional gets 2 weeks vacation a year then they work 50 weeks a year x 5 days a week = 250 days a year. I don't know how many days a year teachers on under contract for but I'll guess 190.

(250/190)-1 = 32% less days working and for only a 25% discount. That sounds like a good deal for teachers. Additionally, professionals who get health insurance pay an annual rate. Teachers, I'm guessing, get a full year of health insurance for 7/10 of a year. Another good deal for them.

I have a family of 4. My health insurance cost me about $1100/mo and its a high deductible plan- qualifies for a HSA. What's the out of pocket for teachers?

Professionals get assessed at least annually and sometimes quarterly. The result of your assessment determines pay raise, bonus, and promotion. Either you produce results or you move on.

The last raise the county gave the teachers was, I think, 3% across the board. The reward wasn't based on performance.

"the internet, telephone, space exploration, theory of relativity all came from people experimenting, building, tinkering- not from tests"

I misunderstood you. I thought you were saying the method of teaching is changing but is not? What is changing is the method of assessing what was learned?

I learned the times table the old fashioned way. Mrs. Young used her pointer and pointed at 7x1 and then 7x2 and so forth. As she did this the whole class recited 7x1 = 7, 7x2 = 14. That was 50 years ago and I still know or remember that. On a test Mrs. Young would put 7x2 = and either you knew the answer or you didn't. How will the new system evaluate whether or not a student knows 7x2 = 14?

Mr Griffin,
I've given 4 factors that relate to each other that show two things. 1. Per capita GDP can be a useful proxy for estimating the capacity of the population to pay taxes as it relates directly with income and property values. 2. To quote you sir, "The market is always on point when discussing pay." Given that the four economic metrics of Fauquier and its surrounding counties are generally in line with each other - in equilibrium if accounting for the skewness of Fauquier and Culpeper County data due to its rural nature - would you agree that teachers in Fauquier County and by association, in the surrounding counties get paid at the maximum capacity that the public can afford?

sshrader · September 6, 2018 at 3:50 pm
the internet, telephone, space exploration, theory of relativity all came from people experimenting, building, tinkering- not from tests
Teachers Are Paid Almost 20 Percent Less Than Similar Professionals, Analysis Finds:

"The wage gap between teachers and comparable professionals has grown over time, with teachers now earning 18.7 percent less than other college-educated workers, according to a new analysis.

A new paper published by the Economic Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank supported by labor unions, found that the "teacher wage penalty" has increased significantly—teachers earned just 1.8 percent less than comparable workers in 1994. And although teachers do receive better benefits packages than their college-educated peers, those benefits only mitigate part of the gap: Including benefits, teachers face an 11 percent compensation penalty.

Overall, teachers' weekly wages lag by more than 25 percent compared to similarly educated professionals in 16 states. There are no states where teacher pay is equal to or better than that of other college graduates. "

Jim Griffin · September 6, 2018 at 3:17 pm
I avoid personal attacks. Furthermore, it is absurd to claim a personal attack on a pseudonym.
nonewtaxes · September 6, 2018 at 3:09 pm
I call little jimmy little jimmy because his MO is to resort to personal attacks whenever the data does not match his point of view. Its insulting to open dialogue to go personal and I feel small doing it but I can't help myself.

Please give me an example of "authentic assessments" because that by itself tells me nothing. I do believe, however, that the internet, the space program, the telephone, relativity and more came from the old school method of learning. Those things represent some pretty good achievements.

I think we should realize that we are asking two different questions to get to the same solution. You are asking how much should teachers be paid and I am asking how much could they be paid. I think its reasonable both; that teachers should not demand to be paid more than the capacity of the public to do so and that the public should pay as much as they could.

Expenditures per Student
[PerCap GDP] [% of Income] [% pf Property Value (EA) (Gross)]
Loudon 29.9% 10.1% 2.9% .2%
Fauquier 32.2% 13.7% 3.4% 1.3%
PW 30.4% 11.1% 3.1% .2%
Stafford 29.2% 10.4% 3.2% .7%
Culpeper 35.4% 14.7% 3.8% 2.0%
Average 31.4% 12.0% 3.3% .9%

Per Capita GDP is directly related to income and to property value. Home values are about 10x per cap gdp.

Fauquier and Culpeper Counties pay a higher % of income (about 15%%) for student expenditures than the other 3 counties probably due to our rural natures.

Expenditure per student based on property values are just above 3% with Culpeper County paying the most at 3.8%

It seems, based on comparable information, that teachers in the county are paid at a rate the county can afford. It is not the highest nor the lowest relative rate based on the capacity to pay. It is the market rate. The only other explanation is that all the teachers in all the surrounding counties are paid low.

sshrader · September 6, 2018 at 10:49 am
authentic assessments that allow students to show their understanding of learned material and how it can be applied, instead of the temporary retention that most current testing shows. Authentic assessment is already part of becoming a doctor, it is crucial to their education, should be part of all stages of education.

please excuse the many errors in my last post, foggy sick brain

lastly, NoNewTaxes, you can do what you want but the name calling really is distasteful and immature.
Jim Griffin · September 6, 2018 at 10:14 am
Done with you, NNT. Disrespectful dialogue earns no reply. Find someone tolerant of your abusive rhetoric.
nonewtaxes · September 6, 2018 at 10:11 am
little jimmy, I didnt suggest that gdp would be an appropriate basis for taxation for schools. I suggest, however, that it would be a useful PROXY in that, I suspect, there would be a strong positive Rho between gdp and home prices. Higher gdp > better business > more income > bigger house > higher tax base. Maybe you need more schooling. Maybe I need more schooling but until you can demonstrate that gdp would not make a good proxy Im comfortable with it.

I understand testing as an evaluation method. It's quantifiable. What will be the basis of the newer method? I don't understand it. I'm concerned about the new method. It sounds like the schools want to have a way to mitigate poor test performance by having student growth as a balance - little johnny got a 60 on his math test but he's really turning out to be civic ready because he picked up litter last week. If I go for open heart surgery I want the Dr who was an A student. I don't want he Dr who graduated bottom of the class but made up for it by doing 100 hours of community service. Its sounds as if schools want to teach or judge behavior.

I am willing to have teacher pay explained. I don't mind paying more if need but show me why. Without a doubt teachers should be able to afford to live in the community in which they teach but so should non teachers and every dollar of tax increase decreases that ability for everyone else.
Tom LaHaye · September 5, 2018 at 4:01 pm
Something that gets lost in this discussion is the cost of health insurance. A few years back, when there were no raises, Fauquier froze the employee contributions for health insurance despite increasing costs. Funny how this added up and compounded over the years, but the employee contribution for family coverage under the tier one plan in Fauquier is now $3,300/yr. less than in Prince William. I suspect the plans differ some, but not enough to explain PWC employees paying over 50% more for their health insurance. Perhaps the Fauquier Schools could do a better job marketing that benefit.
sshrader · September 5, 2018 at 9:31 am
NoNewTaxes- There is a shift in education to get away from the test based approach of teaching/evaluating students and of evaluating schools. Starting this year, under the new state Superintendent James Lane, the school Standards of Accreditation will evaluate school improvement beyond simple test scores.
"Beforehand, schools were evaluated on how well students did on Standards of Learning tests (SOLs) as well as graduation and dropout rates. Those indicators will still be taken into consideration, but now absenteeism, student achievement gaps in English and math will be included as well. Starting this year, 9th graders will also be evaluated throughout their time in high school on college, career and civic readiness.
“If students are making significant growth we’re going to give schools credit for that, as [before] we only gave them credit for students that passed,” Dr. James Lane, the Superintendent of Public Instruction, said. “Now this new system is going allow teachers and principals and school leaders to focus on all students, not just those that are right on the bubble of passing.”

As for the mission of schools, Fauquier county schools mission statement is as follows:
“Fauquier County Public Schools, an innovative learning community, is committed to developing creative, confident, and knowledgeable citizens who are globally competitive by cultivating the potential of each learner.”

This quote from a book by Amanda Lang titled "The Power of Why" highlights the issue of our current idea that success in school can be shown by grades which are based on tests scores:
"So instead of learning how to learn, many kids are learning how to be good at going to school. The straight-A student is, in virtually every educational setting, the one who has figured out what the teacher wants and how to deliver it.

Basing evaluation of students’ learning (and therefore how well a school is educating) on testing is not only inadequate, it has also led to an environment that does not foster true, exploratory learning, but rewards those who are willing and most able to follow rules, do exactly as told, and find the "right" answers. Todays world does not have the need to for so many complaint order followers as the past and with the access to information that we now have the way that we evaluate student growth and the effectiveness of a school is changing.
The role of our teachers is also changing and we, now more than ever, need teachers who have the willingness and ability to constantly self evaluate and reflect on how they are can adapt to the changing world and help their students benefit from their time in school. The schools that will be most successful will be those that have teachers and staff that care about their students and their fellow staff, that create strong school communities and strong connections with each student.
Fauquier county schools are already well ahead of most schools in the amount of teachers who do care deeply about their students and who do work to continually find the best approach to guiding their students. But, this kind of care and the work that these teachers put in to keep up to date and engaging, is exhausting. Without appropriate compensation burnout is much more likely.
What is appropriate compensation? The bare minimum is that teachers must be paid enough to comfortably afford to live within the community in which they teach. This is not happening in Fauquier and none of us should be willing to accept this or explain it away.
Jim Griffin · September 5, 2018 at 7:53 am
Schools have many missions in addition to education. To name a few, they offer counseling, nutrition, safety, transportation. Sports and recreation, too, among many community objectives.

Schools intend to fuel educational outputs that are a product of many inputs that include good parenting, community involvement and so on, leading with quality educators.

Likewise, we hope better police and fire protection means less crime and destruction, but on any given year our wishes and realities vary, our best efforts achieving different outcomes.

For example, Fauquier County provides equal education opportunities across its many schools, but each school and student achieves differing levels of numerical success.

It's among the reasons local control is so very important to school districts across the country, why GDP is not the financial measure (how would you tax GDP citizen by citizen -- income tax? That's been rejected by conservatives countless times for its loss of local control). We rely on local property taxes because they are unique in their application to our communities.
nonewtaxes · September 5, 2018 at 12:21 am
Well then how do you judge the quality of education? What other mission does the school have in addition to education?

J Obrokta · September 4, 2018 at 6:15 am
Culpeper does spend less per student than we do.

Here is a quick thought on that, though.

Teachers who live in Culpeper County but who teach here can bring their children to Fauquier county to enroll them in our schools with a zone waiver. Most choose to do so.

Teachers who live here but who work in Prince William or Fairfax could choose to do the same thing, but they generally pass on the opportunity and enroll their children in our schools.

It's weird, right? It seems like we are some goldilocks zone where teachers, who probably know school systems as well as anyone, generally choose to put their kids in our schools if they are able to.

A dollar for dollar comparison doesn't always tell the whole story.

Test scores also fail to tell the whole story at times as well.

Best regards,

Jim Obrokta
LHS Social Studies
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
nonewtaxes · September 3, 2018 at 6:10 pm
You are right jimmy g. That's two things we can agree on. That's twice as many as yesterday. In my old age I read the $9,742 as $8,742. Still, I think I make my point on both absolute and relative costs.

On relative costs Fauquier County supports the school system at the average of the six counties. On an absolute basis, Culpeper County cost $9,742 to educate a child and Fauquier County cost $12,479 to educate a child I think that works out to a 28% premium - ($12,479/$9,742)-1.

I disagree that gdp is irrelevant as regards to school financing. The more you make the more house you can buy. I would bet that the r squared value of a regression between gdp and house price is both positive and high. So gdp would be a viable proxy for how much money you can tax.

Since I do not have info on transportation cost I can't factor them in. If you have that info please share. Also, just because Culpeper that educate a child for considerably less money than Fauquier can doesn't mean we should adopt Culpepers model. Maybe they have lower SOL scores and lower % of kids getting into college. Still,it'd be worth a look to see where they are keeping costs down.

Also and separately, I think Mr. Ross should be right upfront with his solution for paying teachers more. Is the plan to cut emergency services or raise taxes?

Jim Griffin · September 3, 2018 at 1:04 pm
Some numbers are in error and ignore the disparity in transportation costs and state and federal aid to Culpeper County, aid less available to Fauquier County on account of its relative wealth. For example, the state pays Culpeper per pupil 39% more than it pays Fauquier.

2016 numbers show Culpeper paid $9,742 per pupil -- and took $4,291 per pupil from the state to Fauquier's $3,090 pp. Fauquier paid $12,479 pp compared to -- for example, Loudoun at $13,549 pp ($2,888 state) or Rappahannock at $13,737 ($1,939 state) pp.

The average for Fauquier and neighboring counties was $11,438 per pupil (2016 numbers).

GDP is irrelevant as regards school financing, which is largely reliant on local property taxes in order to maximize local control. School transportation costs differ in each county, are costly and state and federal aid packages vary.

In fact, the claim that "culpeper educate a student from $8,700/year" is false, off by a full thousand dollars per year or 12% higher than claimed.
BJ · September 3, 2018 at 10:56 am
nonewtaxes - I get where you are coming from. I think it has something to do with the "cost-of'living" in Fauquier County. Our Real Estate taxes were raised almost $500 and we haven't done anything new to our property but put in a garden and a small shed.

If the schools are funded as well as the surrounding counties, is the cost of living that require raises for teachers? When we first moved here years ago, many teachers were living in Culpeper County and driving to Fauquier to teach since housing was cheaper in Culpeper, is that still the case?

It was troublesome to see the cost of paper products in the grocery store yesterday, up at least 15% from a year ago. We are going to be taxed and tariffed until we are no longer able to live in Virginia or the USA.
nonewtaxes · September 2, 2018 at 8:54 pm
You'd all ignore the fact that the county supports the school system, on a relative basis, by the same amount of relative per capita gdp as all the surrounding counties. You'd do this because the facts do not support your claim that the county does not support the school system. Demo, not only are you dumb but you are dishonest too.

On an absolute basis, how can culpeper educate a student fro $8,700/year while fauquier has to spend $12,500? That's a huge difference.

BJ favors funding schools. The data shows that the schools are funded as well as the schools in the surrounding counties. The problem must be within the school system itself. Taxes going up, SOL scores going down.

It's a horrible thing when the facts show one thing and you think something else. Either you have to ignore the facts, change the facts (lie), or attack the person providing the facts.

DO you or do not not accept that the county funds the schools as well as the surrounding counties fund their schools?

Do you or do you not accept that culpeper can educate a student for about 25% less than fauquier $8,700 vs $12,500 respectively.

You can flap your jaws all you want but until you accept that the evidence points to a problem to how the school district spends its money rather than how much money the school district has to spend you aint never gonna solve the problem and increasing the school district funding is only going to make the problem bigger not better.
Demosthenes · August 31, 2018 at 11:08 pm
Ugh, I hate that our community gets so off track but comments from nonewtaxes are so dumb that I can't help but get sucked into this.

This guy makes the claim that no socialist country in the world has ever succeeded. The truth is more complicated, as the issue of socialism and capitalism isn't quite as black and white as he makes it out to be.

Almost every country on the planet today is somewhere in between "socialist" and "capitalist." Picture a spectrum, or a double sided arrow that has a far left and a far right, and realize that most countries are somewhere in the middle of those possibilities.

On the far left you do have countries that are socialist and are struggling, for example North Korea and Cuba.

On the far right you have countries that are capitalist and are struggling, for example Tanzania and Indonesia.

There is some Goldilocks area in the middle which allows for economic freedom while still providing public goods like free education, roads, electrical grids, the rule of law, access to healthcare, etc which seems to create the greatest success.

There are countries that are to the left of us, meaning that they are more socialist than we are, which are doing well. This would include Germany, Japan, the UK, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, France, Canada, Belgium, Switzerland, South Korea, etc, etc. Actually, look at the list of countries with high per capita GDP and you will be looking at a list of countries that are more socialist than we are right now. The only exceptions on that list will be a few oil rich countries in the middle east.

I know Americans love to argue that the free market is the solution to everything. In reality, a little bit of socialism that creates a great public education system so that everyone in our country can contribute to the greatest extent of their abilities is a good investment. That does cost some money. I'm not saying that all of the money spent in education today is well spent, but I also realize that spending money on teachers and resources is a good return on our tax money. At the very least it is a better use of our tax dollars than blowing up bits of the middle east, building walls that won't actually change our immigration problems, or giving giant subsidies to farmers who were harmed by our stupid trade war.

BJ · August 31, 2018 at 1:48 pm
nonewtaxes - If you will please reread what I posted. I wrote, "Fund our schools...." Have you seen the condition of some of our schools? Warrenton Middle School could use a much needed update (removal of old ceiling tiles, replacement of floors and doors, new lighting, etc. As a matter of fact our US Post Office in Warrenton needs some care too. I don't consider that a waste of money by throwing money at it because it is money well spent. Now, on the other hand, money for a military parade and golf trips for the current POTUS IS A WASTE OF MONEY. Or are you happy to pay for Trump's play time? As for teachers, you get what you pay for, and with the increase in our Real Estate taxes we need to make sure that money stays in the county.

Blaine Johnson
nonewtaxes · August 31, 2018 at 9:49 am
Why is the education system in trouble? You don't say but you do say that throwing money at the problem is the solution.

Best economy in 50 years and still you cry. If this was obaba economy you'd make him a saint. But it'd be impossible for a socialist to have such a great economy. Socialist policies just aren't economically friendly. There is no socialist country in the world across all of history that flourished.

Income paid to public employees should include benefits as well so that the full compensation can be calculated.

The "technical calculation" wasn't to show that teachers get paid too much or too little but that teachers in the county get paid, on a RELATIVE basis, the same as teachers in the surrounding counties.

If you wanted to calculate whether or not a teacher should move out of the county for a smaller absolute increase in salary you'd have to add into the mix the cost of living, commute times, school violence and such other factors that add up to the quality of life.

BJ · August 31, 2018 at 9:03 am
Our education system is in trouble, from kindergarten to college. Will they get a bailout as the farmers have (effected by this Administration tariffs) for loss of income or benefits? No, they will not! Education is one of the most important rights as citizens of the United States. An uneducated or poorly educated populace is easily controlled and will believe much of what they hear or read that is propaganda and lies. No idiotic border wall or military parade, and end the trips to the Golf Courses, use the money wisely not waste it. As taxpayers why aren't people demanding better use of their money? Fund our schools and provide healthcare to all.

Blaine Johnson
Silii · August 31, 2018 at 8:52 am
Income paid public employees should be calculated on a per hour basis. So, multiply the number of days in a teacher's contract by the official hours in a work day as defined in the teacher's contract, divide by salary and voila, pay per hour. This, of course, does not include the overtime teachers put in - arriving early, staying late, mandatory parent-teacher/back to school nights, working at home in evenings responding to parent emails, addressing individual assignments for absent students (due to illness,etc.) The list goes on an on to show that the technical per hour pay doesn't even come near paying the ACTUAL per hour teachers should be paid.

Last session the Virginia legislature finally passed medicaid expansion. That means millions and millions of our federal tax dollars will flow back to Virginia for medicaid rather than flowing to other states as our federal tax dollars did prior to expansion, thus freeing up millions from other state revenue sources previously used for medicaid. Now our legislature should take a serious look at increasing teacher pay and support for benefits.

Other jobs require workers to keep documented track of overtime worked. Teachers should now do the same and the legislature should look at paying for those overtime hours.
nonewtaxes · August 30, 2018 at 9:27 pm
Pointless you are.
Jim Griffin · August 30, 2018 at 7:57 pm

Abusive rhetoric isn't worthy of response.
nonewtaxes · August 30, 2018 at 6:50 pm
Little Jimmy,

What's your point?

The authors point is that teachers in the county do not get paid enough.

My point is, that on a relative basis they get paid as much as teachers in the counties around us - about 1/3 of per capita GDP.

Again jimmy, with reference to the opinion piece, where do you stand? Do teachers get paid too much, too little, or just right?

Jim Griffin · August 30, 2018 at 10:46 am

In spite of your lack of civility I will reply to observe again the market sets teacher pay because teachers have choices that include working elsewhere. Those choices are both within and outside academia.

As a result, FCPS pays what it must to attract and retain qualified teachers or it loses accreditation and simply cannot fulfill its mission; Math is just one area where these forces are especially evident at this time.

Fortunately, teachers as a whole respond to non-monetary incentives and Dr. Jeck's leadership is attractive. It's a miracle we win the battle for good teachers as often as we do and there are some great ones working for less in Fauquier. Unfortunately, not enough.

The market is always on point when discussing pay. Our schools are employers at will, as are the private schools. Public and private schools compete for teachers, and the non-academic sector competes too. Math skills are especially prized by federal and private employers.

Your continued condescending characterization -- "little jimmy" -- highlights your small mind. Patronizing tone stains those who engage in it, suggesting both that you falsely think yourself fundamentally superior and that I mistakenly should be addressed as if I were a child.

It's you that acts like one, so it's ironic. Good people reject this manner, especially around here. Witness the last set of Virginia elections and pay attention to the upcoming midterms. Think twice before you follow Trump's lead in belittling those you engage; It's counterproductive, unpersuasive, ill-suited to public discourse.
nonewtaxes · August 30, 2018 at 10:36 am
County Pupil Cost Per Capita GDP Ratio
Loudoun $13,549 $45,356 .30
Fairfax $14,399 $44,008 .33
Prince William $10,880 $35,737 .30
Stafford $10,130 $34,691 .29
Culpeper $8,742 $27,507 .32
Rappahanock $13,737 $37,149 .37
Fauquier $12,479 $38,710 .32

You can see that Fauquier spends an average amount per pupil on a GDP per capita basis. If teachers can get so much money elsewhere that they are willing to move then Fauquier must be spending the money on something else.

At the top level, the money Fauquier spends is on par with neighboring counties, it must just not be spent on teachers. Maybe its spent on things like providing a car for someone who makes $200,000 year. Most of us make less than 12 that and have to take our own cars to work.

You want more money for teachers don't look to the taxpayer- look to management. They just aren't spending it on teachers. Maybe management thinks you are expendable.
nonewtaxes · August 30, 2018 at 10:06 am
Going off point again little jimmy. The point is to keep teachers in the county. I was suggesting that the lack of accountability within the system might be a part of the problem, not the whole. When all teachers get the same pay raise you cannot say they held accountable. You can say more accurately, as your friend Buffett might agree, they are treated like lemmings.

It'd be interesting to see how the many private schools in the county deal with teacher turnover.

How much money would be enough?
nkersey · August 29, 2018 at 1:08 pm
Among Virginia's school districts, Fauquier County ranks #8 for median household income (U.S. Census) and #17 for K-12 spending per student (Virginia DoE). Mull over that disconnect and check out the higher teacher salaries in Prince William and Loudoun before you complain about your taxes. The biggest component of the school budget is teacher pay. Simply put, the Fauquier County Board of Supervisors and anti-tax voters are being cheap, and the results are high teacher turnover and teacher shortages.
Jim Griffin · August 28, 2018 at 4:23 pm
Exceptional teachers have rewarding options, especially so those with math skills in high demand among schools, private and government employers. Math skills bring big bonuses.

Accountability? The better the teacher, the more options they have. Indeed, they can walk to another employer. There are neighboring counties that pay double our superintendent's salary; This year Fauquier replaced more than a hundred teachers financially rewarded by leaving for better wages.

This plays out in our schools now with a shortage of math (and other) teachers accompanied with declining scores. We've competition aplenty for skilled educators, a battle we're losing too often due to below-market salaries, which is the author's key point.
nonewtaxes · August 27, 2018 at 6:03 pm
"And, also, yes, thankfully, this last state budget finally gave our teachers a 3-percent raise"

And therein lies part of the problem. Exceptional teachers do not get a larger pay raise than substandard teachers. There is little to tie accountability with reward.

Where do you suppose the $ come from? More and more taxes. Let the school districts deal with vouchers and see what a little competition can do. IT doesn't cost the school district any money.

Suppose it cost $14,000 in the county to educate a kid. The school should give me the option of sending my kid to their school or give me a voucher for $14,000 to send my kid to another school.

Taxes up, teachers pay up, SOL results down. They be the facts.
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