The Way We’re Paid

Ever hopeful and naive, I looked at the title of this piece featured in a recent Ed Week on-line publication, Why Educators’ Wages Must Be Revamped Now, and imagined that this would speak engagingly and convincingly about the need to redesign educator salaries from the good old single salary pay scale to a more contemporary, leading-edge plan for compensation that would ultimately pave the way for a career ladder for teachers and specialists, as well as for para-educators.

In the inbox of my email, the message only included the title.  I actually saved this from February 7 to review it when I had time this weekend. I was instantly dismayed when I went to the link and found that the precis stated: “With budgets tight, states must link teacher pay to student achievement, Eric A. Hanushek writes.” (Mr. Hanushek is the Paul and Jean Hanna senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.)

Needless to say, Mr. Hanushek and I do not see eye-to-eye on plans for educator pay, public education salaries, cost-cutting measures, teacher tenure, accountability, or a valid rationale on which to base much needed changes to the way educators are paid.

I read it. Heck, it almost wrote itself. Really? This is best that Hanushek can do? In February of 2013, this is what he proposes as the new big idea? I don’t know this guy or know his curriculum vitae or background, but, if asked, I would say that this piece was done by an edreform hack. This piece fairly screams mediocre, trite, hackneyed.

The following paragraph from the piece jumps off the page and sticks to me like musilage to a sheet of fine rag paper–so to speak,…

“The big money still resides in instructional personnel, meaning mainly administrators and teachers. Salary and benefits funding for instructional employees represents the largest spending area in the typical district, bringing to mind the old Willie Sutton adage about robbing banks “because that’s where the money is.” The case for inspecting this spending, however, runs much deeper.”

Much deeper than words of wisdom from good old Willie Sutton. Gosh, I sure hope so!

What the hell does Hanushek mean? …,”bringing to mind the old Willie Sutton adage about robbing banks “because that’s where the money is.” I cannot be the only reader who is confounded by this association.

Does Hanushek mean that funding for education personnel is synonymous to robbing a bank? Or, does he mean that teacher pay is like bank (or highway) robbery? Or, that Willie Sutton, great thinker and orator that he was, has unknowingly and inadvertently created a model for educator salaries? Or, that Willie Sutton would make a good teacher?

Perhaps, in future writing endeavors, Mr. Hanushek could use the great Yogi Berra as his font of inspiration and analogy.

The beginning of this paragraph deserves one giant DUH! Of course, “the big money still resides in instructional personnel, meaning mainly administrators and teachers.” Of course, “salary and benefits funding for instructional employees represents the largest spending area in the typical district.” Jeez. Why didn’t the rest of us think of that?

Public education is a freakin’ labor-intensive service industry. We educators and administrators provide a service; it takes a lot of people to try to meet the needs of thousands of students with a myriad of needs. Students of all ages and cultures and ethnicities and religions and experiences and backgrounds and abilities and disabilities and strengths and weaknesses and talents and skills and support-systems and,…

Dare, I say it? Students are not widgets.

So, is Hanushek really saying that educators should be paid according to their students’ achievement because, as of right now, a greater proportion of money in education is spent on personnel? Does anyone else sense a disconnect here? I am looking for an appropriately misguided analogy for this.

Anyone?                         Anyone?                        Bueller?

Here is another “winning” concept from this piece: “The only way that efficiency will be significantly improved is by strengthening the relationship between salaries and performance. Currently, we dramatically underpay our best teachers while dramatically overpaying our worst.”

[BTW: The link above takes one to a 2011 piece by Eric Hanushek in Educationnext. I do not have the stamina to read this today. Something to savor for later.]

I would posit that we should be paying our worst teachers–his nomenclature, not mine–NOTHING. Zilch. Nada. Nicht. Rien.

Why on earth would we want to allow ineffective or incompetent or unsuitable or unproductive or unprofessional teachers to remain in the PROFESSION of teaching? My colleagues and I certainly do not want these folks to stay. Do not be satisfied with paying them LESS–identify them, document the problems, provide the evidence, and move them out of the profession.

This is the responsibility of school and district administrators.

Mr. Hanushek tosses in other edreformy objectives and minor achievements: doing away with LIFO (a.k.a. last in/first out), a catchy little reference to teacher tenure. I am exhausted by my own attempts to explain that tenure is not job security–in any sense of the concept–but is merely a contractual guarantee of the right to due process. It is my claim and my belief that all workers should enjoy the right to require their supervisors provide EVIDENCE of cause at the time of their dismissal.

And, of course, there is that standard reference to the ineffectiveness of basing any aspect of teacher pay on one’s college degree(s) or one’s experience in the profession: …, “numerous studies have shown that teacher pay based on degrees and experience is unrelated to teacher effectiveness.” Yep. That’s correct. My master’s degree in classroom instruction did very little to improve, enhance, or advance my classroom proficiency. Hardly worth my time and expense, let alone worth it to my paymasters at the district and state levels. Hanushek and company got the “research”–I got the experience. Which, of course, counts for very little. Oh, dear. I may have talked myself into a corner.

Hanushek continues: “Efficient policies imply paying significantly more to the best teachers—not just giving small, temporary bonuses for student achievement—to keep them in the classroom longer. Additionally, it probably also means having them teach more students, because dealing with tighter budgets and paying significantly higher salaries will most likely require slightly larger class sizes.”

Thanks, but no thanks. He will offer me an additional $10,000-20,000 a year, while at the same time increasing my class size load from 150–I am a middle school science teacher–to, let’s say, 175-180. There is a limit. After that, quality begins to erode, teacher engagement begins to decline, and we have us a morale problem –> some pretty serious potential burn-out.

This does not sound like a viable teacher attraction and retention plan to me. But, heck, what do I know?

 

Posted in Education Budgets, Education Reform, Merit Pay, Quality Teachers/Quality Teaching, Teacher Tenure | 2 Comments

The Merits of Teachers and Teacher Pay

I keep a couple of files of blog post ideas. Whenever I come across a quote or an opinion, idea, or suggestion that interests me, I toss it into the file. If I had more time, I would post more regularly–I have a lot of my own opinions and the files are pretty full. I was just finishing up and filing an article for our union publication when I came across this response related to pay-for-performance or merit pay. It was written in response to a Diane Ravitch blog post about a CNN interview that did not do justice to Ravitch.

This is the second time that I have made use of this particular quote. I used it back in August when writing about career ladders for educators. This time my focus is on pay-for-performance proposals. The bolding is mine.

J.M. Tumbleson     August 27, 2012 at 12:24 pm |

“I work in a city with significant amounts of poverty. I see teachers who work hard, who think hard and who try to collaborate with others in order to constantly improve their practice. Never have I heard any teacher argue for merit pay. They will argue for more planning time, they might argue for more services for their students with various social, emotional or cognitive needs, they might argue for more money for special classroom projects, they might even argue for a longer lunch, but never once have I heard a teacher argue for merit pay. The hundreds of teachers I have known want to work collaboratively and see themselves as having a shared mission in which they play an essential role for the community and for the children. The interviewer has been fed disinformation on what most teachers want, most likely from sources that will monetarily profit from the destruction of the public schools.”

J.M. is right. I have spent 40 years working with and hanging out with teachers and other education professionals, and they have NEVER, EVER—not once—wished for or suggested merit pay.

I would add that there are a few other things for which they will argue:

  • control of class size, with a sensible maximum
  • a consistent, reliable, fair student discipline plan that works—that improves student conduct, reduces disruptive behaviors and keeps kids in class, where they belong
  • a reliable working copier
  • sufficient supplies of copier paper
  • professional development that is relevant to what they teach and suited to their needs
  • a charismatic, personable school leader who can make things happen                                supportive and engaged parents/guardians

The list could go on and on. These concepts, practices, and measures are what we in the ed biz call “WORKING CONDITIONS.” These are the situations and circumstances that educators feel can make or break their opportunities to do a good to better to best job for their students. I agree.

Teaching is challenging enough without having to work against these kinds of factors and forces. As a full-time science teacher, I know what a difference I can make if I have 25 kids, instead of 35; a fully supplied science program; adequate training on both the content and pedagogy of inquiry-based, hands-on science; plus time during the work day to prep for my five consecutive lab periods. [Science instruction involves a tremendous amount and variety of material prep; for example, measuring and stripping enough wires for 15 teams in each of five classes; measuring out liquid and powder materials; special preparation of 30 battery-powered cars; and counting out hundreds of marbles, straws, string, rulers, pulleys, etc.]

Teachers may have a great deal to say about merit pay, but I have never heard my colleagues speak in favor of establishing a program or system that offered teachers bonuses based on the merit of their work. The current use of student test scores as a substantive identifier of those teachers who will be deemed HIGHLY EFFECTIVE is troubling enough to teachers. Using these same metrics to award bonuses is, in the eyes of teachers and many building and district administrators, fraught with problems and goes against the common school culture of collegiality, cooperation, collaboration, and the sense that “we’re all in this together.” There is a great deal of messaging around the need for all members of a school community to recognize his/her role and to take responsibility for progress in reading and math, and for overall student improvement.

Merit pay seems to fly in the face of those values. Can you really have it both ways?

Some reward programs have been expanded to become teacher attraction and retention initiatives. This is intended to keep very effective teachers in schools that appear to need them the most and to lure other really successful teachers to come to those schools that are struggling to improve student learning and progress. I know what those teachers who may be eligible for a program like this will immediately consider :                                               >Who’s the principal?                                                                                                                       >What is the school’s reputation: is it clean, well-kept, well-disciplined, well-supplied?   >What are working conditions like at this school?                                                                      >Who do I trust to give me the lowdown on this place?

So, what do teachers really want? What do they deserve? What will it take to continue to attract qualified, committed people to teaching? How can the prospects of a lifelong career in TEACHING–not in school or district administration, and not just peripherally involved in education like so many TFA grads–be enhanced to bring people to and keep people in this grand profession?

Here is what the Christian Science Monitor had to say in a recent article titled How to keep talented teachers from leaving . If you choose to view the entire article–I guarantee that it is well-worth the time–be sure to also click on the two blog posts integrated into the article: The beatings will continue until teacher morale improves and  Teachers who excel: A lesson from Miss Smoot .

“Imagine a profession whose influence on individual lives is more significant than that of nearly any other occupation, whose role in society is universally acknowledged to be among the most critical to the future, and whose practitioners are often described as “heroic,” “beloved,” and “admired.” Now imagine that this profession cannot recruit and retain the best people because it is seen by many as a dead end, neither financially remunerative nor socially and creatively fulfilling.

This destructive paradox describes the profession of teaching in the United States.
Soon the education priorities for President Obama’s second administration will begin to take shape. They will no doubt include, as they did during his first term, recruiting and retaining strong teachers who can prepare young people for the contemporary workforce. They should also include renewing our national commitment to teaching as a profession of status and a life of consequence.

Posted in Accountability, Education Budgets, Merit Pay, Quality Teachers/Quality Teaching, Teachers and Teaching | 3 Comments

Getting from NO to YES

Opposition from the NRA and some of their members to any and all forms of reasonable gun and gun safety legislation may never change, may never ever diminish or lose volume and intensity, but, I imagine that if they choose to continue their barrage of criticism, blame-casting, and rhetoric, eventually the voices, desires, and dedication of the rest of the nation may  overcome the agenda of the NRA. It may look now like an impossible and never-ending task, but there is plenty of evidence of incredible and fantastic change that has occurred in my own lifetime. I was born in 1950.

“No, no, no” and “never, never, never” eventually failed–after decades of difficult and dangerous commitment–falling on deaf ears as a response to calls for the genuine  integration of African-Americans into society and the recognition of everyone’s civil rights. There is still progress to be made. However, today’s 2nd  inauguration of a Black president continues to amaze, and fills me with pride and satisfaction.

And, certainly, the unsteady, and as yet incomplete, progress that has been made in the last few years for gay rights, same-sex marriage, and the public recognition of the damaging effects of the bullying and assaults on LGBT citizens has been amazing to all of us. Really. Who would have thought?

Oh, the naysayers still exist, and there are thousands of them out there, but, Baby, look how far civil rights and gay rights have come. I feel confident that eventually the NRA’s version of gun rights will be overcome by the need for and wishes for gun rights for the rest of us.

[I am a gun owner. I feel the need to say this every time I write or talk about this subject. I am not a member of the NRA. Locked in my gun safe are weapons for hunting–shotguns, a muzzle-loading rifle, and a crossbow. In general, guns do not terrify me. I have a lot of friends who own guns.]

Let me make it clear that I am committed to reasonable gun legislation, commonsense gun safety measures, and the regulation of battlefield weapons and ammunition. I am especially concerned about the safety and security of children both at school and in their neighborhoods. I am as concerned when children are murdered one-by-one in the streets of our cities as I am about the murders of groups of children in schools, at malls, movie theatres, and churches. Guns are the weapons of choice in these killings.

I have been impressed by the administration’s rapid, forthright, and comprehensive efforts to begin and carry on necessary and much-deserved conversations about what should be done to better manage assault and assault-style weapons, large-volume gun magazines, and access to extreme ammunition.

Of course, the NRA has immediately responded to each and every message conveyed and initiative suggested by an elected official. Governor Jack Markell (Delaware) had barely completed a press conference a week ago when the NRA issued its own press release opposing every measure the governor highlighted. According to an article in today’s Wilmington News Journal, NRA president David Keene “lashed out at recent gun control proposals by President Barack Obama and Gov. Jack Markell in the wake of the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn., before an estimated 1,500 people on Sunday.” The event was held at the Modern Maturity Center in Dover.

[I just returned from the annual MLK prayer breakfast at the same location. Trust me when I tell you that the message this morning was vastly different and delivered in an entirely different tone: peace, justice, caring, legacy, citizenship, and equality.]

Here’s the list of proposals recently released by the White House regarding commonsense responses to gun safety and the enhancement of and increased access to mental health care. Obviously, this does not detail the legislation that will most likely follow.

This is the kind of stuff that drives the NRA crazy. They cannot even bring themselves to talk about it. They can only rail against it.

1. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system.

2. Address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system.

3. Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system.

4. Direct the Attorney General to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks.                                                                                                          .
5. Propose rulemaking to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun.

6. Publish a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers.

7. Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign.

8. Review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission).

9. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.

10. Release a DOJ report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and make it widely available to law enforcement.

11. Nominate an ATF director.

12. Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations.

13. Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime.

14. Issue a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence.

15. Direct the Attorney General to issue a report on the availability and most effective use of new gun safety technologies and challenge the private sector to develop innovative technologies.

16. Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes.

17. Release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities.

18. Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers.

19. Develop model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education.

20. Release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover.

21. Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA exchanges.

22. Commit to finalizing mental health parity regulations.

23. Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

No to Gun Control

Now that I have your attention–let me explain.

I abhor violence. I believe that gun ownership must be re-organized, effectively regulated, and properly monitored. I am completely in favor of a ban on the manufacture and distribution of assault and assault-style weapons to anyone outside of the military or police. I see no reason why civilians need access to battlefield weaponry. These are guns designed purely to kill—to kill many, to kill rapidly, and to kill without fail. It is hard to miss with a semi- or fully automatic weapon.

Most of all, I continue to be amazed by the hard-hearted, sociopathic responses of the NRA to the spate of mass murders committed by gun-wielding crazies.

They are correct about one thing, though. Now is not the time to talk about the issue of guns and gun control. Now is the time to ACT.

As I have noted in several previous posts—language matters. The words one uses and the ways in which one speaks about a topic is important. It can make the difference between successful and effective communication and debate. It can encourage some people to enter the conversation. It can help smooth the way to remediation and resolution.

Gun control seems to be a banner word for the NRA and their political supporters. Taking a stand against gun control is the rallying point and battle cry. So, what is there to be gained by switching up to different language that is actually more accurate, and surely more prudent?

I am not alone in recognizing that the term gun control (1) is the sole term used by the NRA and its proponents in any message about managing guns, (2) is not an exact, clear or comprehensive definition of what the rest of us desire, (3) becomes a giant red flag in what little conversation the NRA is willing to engage, and (4) throws any discussion back onto their “home turf” in that they have dominated and hope to continue to rule any dispute titled GUN CONTROL.

I did not dream up the following phrases, but I immediately understand the value of carefully- chosen language and well-crafted messages. Instead of the well-worn and NRA-owned phrase “gun control,” let’s end the use of that term on our side and use any or all of the following phrases:

COMMON SENSE GUN SAFETY

REASONABLE GUN LEGISLATION

GUN LEGISLATION REFORM

Yes, I want better mental health treatment, including enhancements in funding, access, identification, treatment, and follow-up. Yes, I agree that there are films (I have only seen a few) and video games (none of which I have ever seen for myself) in which the level of gratuitous violence is extreme and possibly provocative. Yes, I understand the age-old NRA-invoked slogan “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.”

However, with the more than 30,000 gun-related deaths in America in just the past year (2012) and the projection that gun deaths in this country may exceed auto fatalities, by as early as 2015, as the leading cause of nonmedical deaths, it seems clear to me that we need to do something real, significant and impactful to stem this menace.

Check out It’s time for common-sense gun controls , a guest op-ed piece from yesterday’s Seattle Times, for the well-written, sincere views of a young man who has already been moved to action. Now, if we could just get him to stop using that phrase gun control.

If you have the time and the inclination, follow up on the link to the NYT article  Alex Algard cites in which the writer claims that even public health scientists have been persuaded to cut back on gun violence research. Now that is something scary, IMHO. The article was written in January 2011, but is timely and important.

Posted in gun violence | 2 Comments

Bullying

Bullying can be so difficult to uncover–such a challenge to prevent. If I was still a third grade teacher, I know one simple, meaningful, and effective technique would be to incorporate selected titles from children’s literature to accomplish a few important things:

  • start an essential conversation in a natural and focused way about bullying, bullies, and those unortunate people who are on the receiving end
  • create an on-going narrative to help guide chidren’s conversations and insights
  • provide a lifelong (at least childhood-long) reference for any child who needed comfort or a reminder about how bullying looks, how it feels, how it can be diffused, or how it can be avoided

Childhood bullying confounds adults. It’s not that we cannot imagine it–heck, plenty of us can recount experiences in our own lives in which we were bullied at school, or at the park, or in Girl Scouts, or in any number of situations. There are plenty of adults who are or have been bullied as adults. I’m a teacher. I taught third/fourth grade for 17 years and then taught middle school science for 22 years. Much of the bullying of which I have become aware at school was done so secretly, so slyly, so far off of the radar screens of the adults that it was embarrassing when it was uncovered or finally revealed by a parent. My colleagues and I would keep asking ourselves, “How did we miss that? How is it possible that this went on so long or at such great lengths or so painfully that we never even suspected?”

I am not talking about the obvious things like the open and occasional taunting of a particular child or the open use of prejudicial, biased, sexist, racist, or homophobic language or comments. I could deal with those up front and straight on–they were right there and obvious, and I made a point to deal with it in a calm, sincere, and assertive manner–with the offender and with the group in which it had occurred. However, I really had little idea of what might have been said or done away from my eyes or ears–in a crowded hallway, in the bathrooms, in the cafeteria, on the bus. And  a good deal of this was before the advent of email and smartphones. Thank God for the brave child who spoke up for himself, or for the ethical, principled child who came to me to report what she had seen or overheard.

Times have changed–a bit. Bullying is finally recognized as a damaging and painful action, one that must be dealt with effectively. This has led to bullying awareness and prevention campaigns, anti-bullying legislation and school policies, disciplinary codes, as well as training for parents and adults who work with children. There are public service announcements on TV and radio, poster contests at schools, student council projects, and celebrity spokespersons. This is all commendable, but I suspect that it may not be as effective as is hoped.

Having spent a number of years with 7, 8, and 9-year olds, I am confident that one good ways to reach both the bullies and the bullied is to read about bullying–not in a textbook or as part of an established curriculum, but through the carefully crafted narratives found in the best children’s literature. [NOT in those books specifically designed to “teach” children about bullying–didactic texts like those are often boring, stilted, and unimaginative. The “message” is there–for sure. But it lacks realism, feeling, and experience–it fails to touch the heart or reach the brain in a meaningful, long-lasting way.

In this week’s The Big Fresh Newsletter from Choice Literacy–an on-line publication that I regularly review, even though I no longer teach reading to elementary children, there are several listings in the free section about Bullies in Books. This got me thinking about this topic, and realizing that good books would be a perfect venue for teaching and learning about bullies and bullying from both sides of the fence.

In one selection, titled Bully Literacy,  Heather Rader tells a wonderful little story about her own child’s instant reaction to a reminder about a particular character in a particular book that changes her daughter’s inclination to exclude a child with a difference and instead warm up to a day-long friendship. That’s a simple demonstration of the power of story. The rest of the piece is a review that highlights a number of books approriate for different grade levels. These are books that would enable teachers, parents, and other adults to help children talk about, learn about, and develop a long-term understanding of bullying–possibly from both sides.

You can reach almost any kid with a good book, read aloud to the group or one-on-one sitting in a big comfy chair.

Posted in A Good Education, Children's Literature, Interesting Bits, School Days | Leave a comment

Happy New Year

I had New Year’s Day dinner this afternoon at the retirement community where my 94-year old father-in-law lives. Their big meal of the day is served at noon on special days and holidays. There was the traditional roasted pork and black-eyed peas for good luck. Later on, I made sure that a dark-haired man was the first to enter my house on New Year’s Day–for luck. If I had my druthers, I would have dinner tonight at the Szechuan, my old favorite Chinese Restaurant. The fortune inside today’s cookie could be seen as very auspicious. However, Mr. Woo sold it, and it has never been the same.

One thing struck me at the retirement place today. Resident after resident greeted me and everyone they met with a cheerful and hearty wish of “Happy New Year.” Usually taciturn and even curmugeonly residents were wishing “Happy New Year” right and left. These were the folks from the independent and assisted living parts of the complex–folks still able to get around and those with most of their faculties intact.

My father-in-law is amazing. At 94, he suffers from a milder form of Parkinson’s disease that has affected his gait, balance, and mobility–he walks slowly with a walker–but has not caused any of the tremors associated with the disease. Nor has the disease affected his mind. His mental state is incredible–he has maintained his mental acuity–no discernible memory loss, and his intellect and analytical capacities are still intact. He reads constantly, and when he is not reading, he is working his way through Roger Ebert’s 2008 movie guide. He told me the other day that he had reached the “F’s”–those movie titles starting with the letter “F.” This means that he has already watched all of the “A-B-C-D-E” movies listed in the book (that were available), that were “classics” or highly rated or sounded interesting to an old guy with a wide range of tastes and a quite liberal bent. Films in English and films with subtitles from any and every culture. He has taken real and meaningful advantage of the Netflix service. He does not watch TV shows. He watches videotaped and DVD movies on his TV.

I would imagine that if one reaches the ripe old age of 90 or 94, then looking forward to the new year might really mean a great deal. Something special and significant. Phew–one more down and another to go. I had never thought about the new year in this way before.

Posted in Interesting Bits, Quality of Life | 1 Comment

What Different Impressions They Make

I cleaned out one of the drawers beside my desk yesterday. Buried at the bottom was a copy of a provocative comparison of stereotypes of male and female employees titled He Works, She Works: But What Different Impressions They Make. I had seen the piece on a female friend’s office bulletin board and requested a copy. I find this fascinating and, no surprise, disturbing. Most disturbing because I imagine that it is based in reality. More disturbing because this piece is from a publication from 1980—over 30 years ago.

Some things just don’t change.

Recent publicity about working conditions at Walmart for all employees, but especially for women, the passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Act as President Obama’s first act when elected in 2008, and continuing news about substantial differences in pay for women vs. men working identical jobs have maintained focus on unfair practices that plague women in the workplace. I went to college in the late 1960’s/early 1970’s at the height of the feminist movement. I have always understood and advocated for the need to improve the status of women in America and around the world.

Here’s what the piece has to say about how differently men and woman may be perceived at work. I was struck by its simplicity and by its unfortunate and long-lasting insight.

“Have you ever found yourself up against the old double-standard at work? Then you know how annoying it can be and how alone you can feel. Supervisors and co-workers still judge us by old stereotypes that say that women are emotional, disorganized, and inefficient. Here are some of the most glaring examples of the typical office double-standard.”

Family picture on his desk:Ah, a solid, responsible family man. Family picture on her desk:Hmm, family will come before career.
His desk is cluttered:He’s obviously a hard worker and busy man. Her desk is cluttered:She’s obviously disorganized and scatterbrained.
He’s talking with co-workers:He must be discussing the latest deal. She’s talking with co-workers:She must be gossiping.
He’s not at his desk:He must be at a meeting. She’s not at her desk:She must be out shopping.
He has lunch with the boss:He’s on his way up. She has lunch with the boss:They must be having an affair.
The boss criticized HIM:He’ll improve his performance. The boss criticized HER:She’ll be very upset.
He got an unfair deal:Did he get angry? She got an unfair deal:Did she cry?
He’s getting married:He’ll get more settled. She’s getting married:She’ll get pregnant and leave.
He’s having a baby:He’ll need a raise. She’s having a baby:She’ll cost the company money in maternity benefits.
He’s going on a business trip:It’s good for his career. She’s going on a business trip:What does her husband say?
He’s leaving for a better job:He recognizes a good opportunity. She’s leaving for a better   job:Women are undependable.

Obviously, this may not be so true for all work places or for all men or all women. Certainly things have changed for some of us at some jobs. But, if on average, women doing the same work  in 2012 were still paid 71 cents on the dollar in comparison to men, then somebody still has some ‘splainin’ to do, Lucy.

Posted in Career Opportunities, Interesting Bits, My Opinions, Women's Issues | 2 Comments