TEACHERS BAILING OUT OF PROFESSION

#teachers #education #parents #SchoolAuthorities #TeachersQuitting
First, the pandemic imposed extra stress on teachers.
Then, politicians started telling teachers what they could teach, how they could teach it and what books or other tools they could use.
It’s hardly a wonder why teachers are asking why anyone would do this job.
Maureen Downey, education columnist for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, tackled the rapid departure of teachers in a recent column.
She quotes a Rand report on the pandemic’s role in teacher resignations. Researchers found that half the teachers who resigned did so because of the pandemic, she writes.
She also writes that stress, more than low pay, was almost twice as common a reason for resigning.
“At least for some teachers, the COVID-19 pandemic seems to have exacerbated what were high stress levels pre-pandemic by forcing teachers to, among other things, work more hours and navigate an unfamiliar remote environment, often with frequent technical problems,” Downey quotes the Rand report.
Teachers didn’t leave the profession necessarily for higher-paying jobs. The Rand researchers said most teachers who left took jobs with either less or about equal pay, Downey writes.
The Merrimack College Teacher Survey, a poll of more than 1,300 teachers conducted by EdWeek Research Center in January and February 2022, says the profession is in free-fall, Downey writes. Only 12 percent of K-12 teachers are very satisfied with their jobs, down from 39 percent a decade ago,’ Downey quotes the survey. It also says the salary satisfaction rates are lowest in the South and Midwest. Only 21 percent of teachers in those areas believe their pay is fair for the job they do, Downey quotes the survey.
In 2011, 77 percent of teachers believe their profession is respected. Now, only 46 percent of teachers believe that, Downey writes.
In short, teaching is a relatively low-paying profession that politicians love to pick on. There is already a teacher shortage, which could become acute if the pressure and restrictions on teachers continue.
Certainly, everyone wants parents actively involved in the school(s) their children attend. Some mostly inner-city teachers have seen a lack of parental involvement as a serious problem.
But, there is a difference between involvement and interference. Involvement means parents are supporting what teachers are doing, and encourage their children to vigorously participate in their education.
Interference means parents are standing in the way of teachers teaching truth to children. Few teachers will put up with that for a long time.
People go into teaching, and education in general, for the love of the job. They certainly don’t do it to enrich themselves. Yet, good teachers can play a significant role in making the world a better place by encouraging students to learn.
If the current milieu continues to chase away teachers from the profession, we may soon have schools that can’t educate students.
Those in authority over schools should not only know the difference between parental involvement and interference, but also the difference between educational improvement and educational destruction.
Teachers acutely know the difference and are voting with their feet.
Peter

CLEAN-POWERED CARS BY 2035?

#CleanPoweredCars #GasolinePoweredCars #California #cars #transportation
California wants to ban the sale of new cars solely fueled by gasoline by 2035.
Used gas-powered cars will be allowed, but no new ones can be sold, according to the plan.
Certainly, climate change is real, and California is among the places hardest hit.
But it begs the question: how many used gasoline-powered cars will still be on the road?
It also begs the question: how long will it actually take to eliminate all gas-powered cars? The big issues are having enough rapid-charging stations, and how governments will cope with the decreased revenue from the gasoline tax, according to David Wickert, transportation writer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Georgia is poised to become a leader in the manufacture of electric cars and the batteries that fuel them.
Here’s a thought: what if someone could come up with a way to convert internal-combustion cars to electric, hybrid or hydrogen power?
But, first things are first. As previously stated, there have to be more rapid-charging stations before we go entirely non-combustion.
Then, we have to look at auto manufacturing. It appears the big car companies are moving quickly away from internal combustion engines. That’s a good sign.
Then, the price of the clean-powered cars has to come down. The recent bill passed by Congress offers assistance in purchasing clean-powered vehicles, but to qualify, the vehicles have to be priced in a certain range. In other words, there are no subsidies to buy expensive cars, even if they are clean-powered.
Getting back to a previous thought, what does one do with a perfectly good gasoline-powered car? The body may be good enough to last for years. Would you spend, say, a few thousand dollars, or perhaps a bit more, to change out the guts of your car so you can drive your “new” clean-powered car?
Many would, perhaps. But now, there is no technology to do that. One might predict that someone, somewhere is working on that technology.
This news reminds us that transitions are hard. We may all want to do the right thing — the world may command us to do the right thing.
But moving from one era to the next requires infrastructure changes, innovation and the courage to move to something different. It’s also requires government to re-imagine revenue streams, as Wickert points out. All of these things can take time.
California is trying to provide that transition time. Can the innovators pull it off within that time?
Transitions are also messy. For example, if your gas-powered car craps out on you between now and then, and you can’t live without a car, what do you do that will solve your practical problem now, yet comply with the future new rules?
The lesson here is that we should have been preparing for this transition long before we did.
Certainly, it’s easier said than done. Hindsight is always 20-20.
But just because we are starting the transition in earnest later than we should have been doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it.
The warming planet certainly isn’t waiting for us humans to act. It will keep warming, causing all sorts of disasters.
We just have to do the hard, messy things as we can. In fact, most of life’s journey involves hard, messy things. What’s convenient at the moment is not always the right thing for the future.
So, if you are not ready to ditch your gas-powered vehicle for something that runs much cleaner, your best bet is to hope you can buy enough time until the technology allows you to convert that vehicle, or the vehicle craps out on its own. Hopefully, you’ll be able to afford the change.
Peter

WORKPLACES ARE CHANGING; WORKERS’ ATTITUDES ARE, TOO

#workplaces #workers #pay #benefits #childcare #COVID19 #coronavirus #FlattenTheCurve
The pandemic changed everything.
First, it gave workers a bit more leverage in how they deal with work/life balance.
That has good, and bad, effects.
Workers are leaving jobs that paid little, with no flexibility in their lives, to either stay home with children – day-care costs are rising and options are limited – or moving on to jobs that pay more and, perhaps, offer some of the flexibility they want.
A story by Marc Fisher for the Washington Post, and a “This Life” column by Nedra Rhone tackle this issue in detail. Both were published Dec. 30, 2021, in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The Post story focuses on Liberty County, Ga., along the state’s coast. Liberty is a small county, with a major military institution, Ft. Stewart, as its biggest employer.
But the county is growing by adding big warehouses. These allow people to leave the small, mom-and-pop hotel and restaurant jobs for higher-paying, and often more flexible, warehouse work.
That hurts the lower-paying sole-owner businesses, causing them to cut back on hours, service etc., for lack of help.
Some employees had been laid off when many of these operations shut down. When they reopened, many of the workers did not return, for various reasons – not the least of which is the risk of being infected with COVID-19.
Meanwhile, Rhone’s column discusses the differences among various generations in how they react to changing workplaces.
The youngest generation of workers had their world turned upside down. Many now want to be entrepreneurs, meaning they may never work for anyone but themselves in their lives.
(What these young folks may not realize is that working only for oneself may have its own pitfalls. They still have to serve clients, who will be their ultimate employers).
So, all of this begs the usual question: where do you fit in this changing workplace?
Is the idea of going back to work too risky? Or, is it going to cost you more to go back to work (commuting, day care etc.) than you would make?
In summary, workplaces are changing. Workers no longer feel forced to take, or go back to, jobs that put them at risk, will cost them more to work than not, and not get a good return from the employer(s).
Employers currently are adapting by cutting back on things that could decimate their businesses. They have to find more creative ways to entice people from multiple generations, who have different hopes, dreams and attitudes toward the workplace.
To quote Donald Lovette, chairman of the Liberty County, Ga., Commission, from the Post story: “It’s not that people are lazy. It’s that some of them are better off financially by not paying for child care, staying home for a while … It’s simple economics.”
Employers, even those in basic businesses like hospitality and restaurants, have to come up with new ways to get and keep workers.
Peter

BEING A ‘NON-PLAYER’ NOT PRODUCTIVE

#Nonplayer #jobs #complainers “LaborMarket #employers #employees
A line from a Dilbert cartoon, by Scott Adams, says. “I’m a non-player character. I can only complain about my job and comment on the weather.”
The cartoon was published July 14, 2022, in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The purpose of the line is to humorously illustrate how people think – or don’t think – at work.
People may complain about a job, but take no action to improve their situations.
In other words, “I’m here. I’m stuck. And I hate it!”
One may not be able to do much about the weather, but one can certainly do something about his or her work situation.
If you like WHERE you work, but don’t like WHAT you do, perhaps there are other jobs in that locale for which you can apply.
If you like WHAT you do, but don’t like WHERE you are doing it, you can look at other employers.
Today’s labor market is the best in decades. There are employers begging for help. Your options are probably greater than you imagine.
One should not feel he or she has to stay where he or she is, because there is nowhere else to go.
Employers in this market have to be creative to not only find the help they need, but also to keep the help they have.
This kind of labor market, plus disruptions in supply chains, oil markets, the food industry etc., coupled with post-pandemic pent-up demand for goods and services, are causing inflation today.
In the Dilbert cartoon, the question posed before the non-player statement was, “What do you think the government should do about inflation?”
The government has little control, and few available actions, to curb inflation. Politicians like to blame opponents for problems no one can really control single-handedly, but the reality is that foreign wars, pandemics and other phenomenon can dictate our terms of living.
Given how good the job market is, employees can be fortunate that they are getting raises that can help mitigate inflation, though most raises are not enough to make those employees feel significantly better off in these times.
Regardless of the uncontrollable problems in one’s life – the weather, inflation etc. – being a “non-player” and just complaining about things is not an option. YOU still have some control over your life. Work on the things you can control, and work around things you can’t.
Complaining and blaming are not strategies. You may not like someone or something, so you either improve your own situation, or move away from it.
Here’s hoping the labor market stays strong, inflation eases and storms are minimized.
Peter

THRILL OF TEACHING GONE? IF SO, WHAT WILL SCHOOLS DO?

#teachers #schools #students #education
The thrill is gone.
So says Maureen Downey, education columnist for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, when talking about why teachers are leaving the profession in droves.
Certainly, teachers, in fact schools, are being asked to do more than just teach kids. They have to be a psychologist, cook and other things for children under their care.
Teacher pay is relatively low, and the responsibility keeps increasing.
On top of that, teachers are being used as political cudgels when parents protest the teaching of “critical race theory,” which is not taught in any K-12 environment.
Downey talked about all of this in her column published Nov. 23, 2021.
Many non-teachers have, over time, thought teachers had it pretty good. They made “decent” pay, and had great benefits, including three months off every year, the thinking went.
If teachers thought their pay was low, they could augment it during the summer and on extensive school breaks. In fact, many teachers had summer jobs, and worked in department stores over the Christmas holiday break to supplement their income.
At the same time, back then, parents had a good deal of respect for teachers. If a child’s teacher reported to parents that their child did something wrong in school, the parents almost automatically believed the teacher.
Today’s parents seem to have less respect for teachers. The parents, particularly those who’ve experienced hard economic times, see them as public employees who have economic protections many parents don’t have.
The teachers have become handy targets for abuse – much of which is unjustified.
Therefore, teachers are walking away in large numbers. They are looking at other opportunities that seem to be popping up. To them, teaching has become something they didn’t sign up for. Even the dedicated teachers who love what they do are becoming increasingly frustrated.
This begs a question: what will public education do to keep teachers in the fold? Many locales are reluctant to significantly increase school funding. In fact, many taxpayers want their schools to do even more, with even less than they get now.
We consider our teachers as essential workers. The pandemic made teaching children even more difficult.
School systems will have to reckon with these problems for the foreseeable future. How they attract and retain teachers will be a big part of that reckoning.
To parents who unfairly criticize teachers and schools, think of what it would be like without them.
Peter

REMOTE WORK BECOMING A TREND?

#RemoteWork #WorkingRemotely #coronavirus #COVID-19 #FlattenTheCurve
If you thought working from home, or, at least, away from the crowded office was a temporary solution to combat a contagion, think again.
Now, 40.7 million Americans expect to be working remotely by 2026.
Meanwhile, 86.5 million freelance workers are expected by 2027.
Those statistics come from Upwork Inc. Statista data, and were part of a Bloomberg News article also published Sept. 30, 2021 in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The article says that businesses, in a survey of 1,000 hiring managers, have increased their willingness to use freelancers.
The coronavirus pandemic was a catalyst for this trend. But it probably has been building for a long time.
If you are in business, it’s better to pay for tasks than hours. When employers hire people as employees, there is a tacit, if not written, agreement that the employee will work, and be paid, for however many hours they are hired for.
Sure, employers can cut, or add to, an employee’s hours at will, in most cases.
But the employers are essentially paying for time. It means more security for the employee, and more obligation for the employer.
Sometimes, that security and obligation also comes in the form of non-salary benefits, adding to the employers’ costs.
When employers hire freelancers, there is no such obligation. The freelancer performs a task(s) and gets paid for that task. That’s much less secure for the worker, but, at the same time, provides more flexibility for the worker to do other things.
The ultimate flexibility for the worker is the ability to work from home. He or she may not get as much from the employer in this arrangement, but the tradeoff (no commuting to a work site, for example) may be worth it.
For some, the fear of loss of secure employment may not be desirable. Some depend on an employer’s benevolence. But, for others, being one’s own boss, essentially, provides coveted freedom.
Given issues with child care, inflation and the increasing costs of commuting, being one’s own boss, in the long run, may be a great tradeoff to the old time-for-dollars, strict schedule model.
To work successfully from home, however, you have to be sure that distractions, like children, won’t hurt your productivity. You still have to give the boss what he or she wants, when he or she needs it.
In short, the trends toward more freedom, flexibility and freelance work are coming. That may not suit everyone, but there may be little anyone can do about it.
It’s best for everyone to prepare for those trends now. That may mean staying with your on-location job and work a gig on the side. Perhaps that gig could be your answer to following the coming trends.
Peter

TRUCK DRIVER SHORTAGE LIKELY TO BE TEMPORARY

#TruckDrivers #SupplyChainProblems #trucks #drivers #TruckDriverShortage
The shortage of truck drivers is certainly hurting the supply chain.
A New York Times article by Madeleine Ngo and Ana Swanson published Nov. 9, 2021, calls the shortage the biggest kink in the supply chain.
The article was also published Nov. 14, 2021 in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The article attributes the shortage to long hours and uncomfortable working conditions.
The article tells the story of Michael Gary, 58, who took a truck driving job in 2012 to help pay off more than $50,000 in student debt. He finally quit Oct. 6, 2021.
“I had no personal life outside of driving a truck,” the article quotes Gary.
The American Trucking Associations reports that the industry is short 80,000 drivers, according to the article.
Trucking is one of those industries undergoing a transition. Decades ago, with most truckers represented by the Teamsters Union, trucking was still a tough job, but it paid relatively well.
Now, the job is still tough but is not paying well enough for some to endure the long hours, time away from home, sleeping in trucks etc. Some companies are beginning to increase drivers’ pay.
Most young workers looking for a career also can see the writing on the wall. Self-driving trucks, though not here in large numbers yet, are coming. So, why start a career that may become obsolete in a few short years?
But, as with most transition periods , this one is messy.
Though we need truckers, and lots of them, now, we may not need nearly as many in the future.
Truckers, by law, can only drive so many hours at a time. Then, they must rest a certain number of hours.
Often, those rest periods are unpaid, as is the time spent waiting to load or unload.
It’s one of those professions, as brought to the fore by the pandemic, that workers have to ask themselves whether the job, compensation etc., is worth the sacrifices to home and other personal life.
There are many songs you could hear on the radio that glamorize life on the open road. They portray it as an adventure.
But, in reality, it is grueling. To help ease the pain of being away from home, and to legally log more hours on the road, many married couples share truck driving duties.
Still, it’s a real hardship to spend that much time away from home, missing your children, social relationships etc.
In short, trucking is not for everyone. Though drivers are badly needed now, the future is likely to tell a very different story.
Peter

ONLINE EDUCATION AND ‘NORMAL SCHOOL’

#OnlineLearning #NormalSchool, #education #teachers #studemts
Parents and students of all ages have had to deal with a lot of school online.
But two Georgia Tech computer scientists are arguing that online learning can be as effective as in-person classes.
Their book, “The Distributed Classroom,” by David A. Joyner and Charles Isbell, was the subject of a column by Maureen Downey, who writes education commentary for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Her column was published Sept. 28, 2021.
“No matter the age of their children, most parents favor a return to ‘normal school,’ which they define as how they learned – a teacher in front of a room and students in desks,” Downey writes.
But Joyner and Isbell call for classes spread across many locations and times, totally contradicting the belief that parents and teachers must meet together in a room at fixed times, Downey writes. (As an aside, the fixed time and classes were designed to teach kids promptness and how to follow a schedule, skills they would need in a “normal” workplace.)
“There are several features we developed of the past year that students want to continue, such as recorded classes. Going forward, I think we have to disentangle several developments that went together during COVID-19, but don’t have to go together going forward,” Downey quotes Joyner.
She writes that the professors don’t envision a student sitting at his or her kitchen table staring at a screen all day. Students can take online classes while going to school. The professors also believe online learners can form bonds with each other, as do graduate students in Georgia Tech’s Online Master of Science in Computer Science(OMSCS) program, the column says. (Another aside: if students form bonds on social media, why can’t they do so through online classes?)
Previously, a question had been posed: if Student X wanted to take a class with Professor X, who may be miles away, why can’t that happen? Professor X is teaching his or her class anyway, why not let him or her teach it to thousands, even millions, at a time?
If Professor X’s lecture time isn’t convenient for Student X, couldn’t Student X view and listen to the class on a recording?
If COVID-19 helped advance those concepts, what will education look like in the future? Instead of School X having, say, three third-grade classes, how about one third-grade teacher and several teacher aides to offer one-on-one assistance, help grade papers and other work etc. ? Yes, the students can be in a school building if that’s preferable.
It may mean that students may get to know the teacher aides better than they know the teacher, but it could save school districts lots of money and help alleviate teacher shortages etc.
Taking the concept further, how about one teacher for multiple schools, again with aides helping individual students?
The teacher would do the same work preparing for classes. Online allows for interaction among students, though, in this scenario, a teacher teaching hundreds or thousands of students would make lots of interaction between teachers and students in real time difficult.
Educators, in general, have vivid imaginations. School systems and politicians, in general, can constrain such imaginations.
We will all have a front-row seat to watch how education evolves, how student life changes at all levels and how those who study can flex their time to accomplish whatever activities in which they need and wish to engage.
“Normal school” may look a lot different in years to come.
Peter

WORKERS HARD TO FIND

#LaborShortage #workers #employers #GreatResignation #BetterJobs #entrepreneurs
Evidence suggests that jobs are easy to find, and workers are hard to find.
So writes Paul Krugman, a New York Times columnist and economist in a column also published April 10, 2022 in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Krugman points out that experts, including himself, have been telling the “Great Resignation” tale, saying the pandemic has forced lots of Americans to rethink work, their jobs, child care, going back to unpleasant environments etc.
But he now points out that he has changed his mind, as new data evolve.
He says Americans are switching jobs, but going to better ones. They are not leaving the labor force in large numbers (and collecting government checks to stay home). Instead, they are going to different work.
One reason Krugman cites, attributing to economist Dean Baker, is many workers are becoming self-employed. They are gig workers, to use current parlance.
Employment figures, naturally, do not include the self-employed. “Reshuffling has involved Americans concluding that they could improve their lives by starting their own businesses,” Krugman writes.
The second reason is immigration, or lack thereof, according to Krugman. An immigration crackdown over the last several years, enhanced by the pandemic, resulted in fewer available workers. To boost the economy, Krugman says, “we should really try to reestablish our nation’s historic role as a destination for ambitious immigrants,” he writes.
In decades past, it has been argued that too much immigration takes jobs from Americans and lowers wages for U.S. workers. Today’s immigration argument, though often not voiced aloud, is that it’s less about jobs and wages and more about demographics and potential new voting patterns.
Because the employment numbers are so hidden, they blur the status of the economy. If employers can’t find workers, or have lost the ones they had prior to the pandemic, those employers should spend more time evaluating how to better attract or retain workers, rather than complain about labor shortages allegedly caused by current government policy.
Workers are out there, albeit fewer than there were prior to the pandemic. There are not a lot of eligible workers sitting home collecting checks. They are working on THEIR terms, performing services that they know how to do, for those willing to pay for them.
If employers believe that different government policy can force workers back to old ways, they will be very disappointed when it doesn’t happen.
If you (desperate employer) know someone who used to work for you, but is now in his or her own business, ask that person why he or she made such a move.
Very likely, they will tell you chapter and verse why. You may not like the answer. But, if you are wise, you will learn something from it.
Starting a business when you’ve always been an employee is a big step. Not everyone who does so will succeed. But, even if they don’t, they may never return to what they used to do, or where they used to do it.
Remember, too, that workers have more choices than they’ve had in years. Most will take advantage of better opportunities that are presented to them. Some will succeed as their own bosses. Wishing it were different, if you are an employer, will not make it so.
Peter

RETIRE ASAP? GO FOR IT!

#EarlyRetirement #retirement #jobs #work #time
Are you planning, or would you like to, retire early?
Most, probably, would say, “of course.”
Others don’t plan to retire, unless forced to.
Still others would insist on a definition of “early.”
Wes Moss, who writes a Money Matters column for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and has a same-titled radio show on WSB radio in Atlanta, gives five reasons to retire as soon as possible. He discussed them in his Oct. 10, 2021, column.
Moss’ five reasons: drive time, no love lost for your job, a roller-coaster schedule, a lack of recognition for what you do and being capped out in terms of financial advancement.
Let’s talk about each of these. First, commuting can be a bear. It takes time from your life as a whole, it adds stress to your body and it’s costly, in terms of fuel and wear-and-tear on your vehicle.
Moss also says that grueling commutes can cause stress in a marriage. According to one study, people who drive at least 45 minutes each way to work are 40 percent more likely to get a divorce, Moss writes.
Work-from-home, or remote-working trends inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic may change commuting patterns for the long term. If your employer is flexible in this area, you might decide to work longer. Think of having a beach house, or mountain cabin, from which you could work. Would that interest you?
Perhaps you don’t really love your job, or even like it, as Moss points out. Would working from home change that perception? If you are just grinding out a living at a job that, to be kind, doesn’t inspire you, Moss suggests perhaps finding a new way to parlay your skills by consulting, or starting your own business.
Remote-working options may alleviate another of Moss’ concerns – the roller-coaster schedule. Many people have jobs in which they have to be on site at specific times. Those times could vary from week to week, turning one’s body clock upside down. If you have one of those jobs, chances are you don’t like it. If you can get out sooner, you should.
Being recognized for your good work is also important. Your boss saying nice things about you and your work are fine, but you probably need more tangible rewards. If those are not forthcoming, maybe it’s time to go.
You may also be at the very end of the pay scale for your job category. If so, then ask yourself: am I just marking time for my pension? Or, especially if there is no pension, could I go somewhere else and advance financially? If you are at the top of your pay scale, you may be near retirement age anyway. If you can afford to retire, do it.
There are many things to learn ahead of “early” retirement regarding health insurance expenses and, more importantly, what you will do with your time.
You also have to study the likelihood, even though it’s tough to predict, whether one day you will come to work and be forcibly retired, or otherwise unemployed. Know that if this happens to you, you are not likely to be forewarned.
So, think about your situation, and do what is best for you. At the same time, realize that there are ways to escape bad work situations, if you need to.
In short, if you like your job, stay as long as they will have you. If you don’t like your job, stay open to other options. They are out there.
Peter