Teachers Work For Salaries or Students

Taylor Mali on what teachers make. YouTube.

© copyright 2007 Betsy L. Angert

You have heard it said, perhaps you uttered the statements.  “I want to be a teacher and work only ten months a year.”  “I want a career that allows me to leave the “office” at 3 in the afternoon.”  “Those that can do; those that cannot teach.”  Some think, the job of an educator is a simple task.  There are no challenges.  The time spent on campus is short and sweet.  Yet, studies show that individuals are leaving the profession in mass.  According to the Washington Post half of new teachers quit within five years. 

Educators flee from a profession they once thought prized.  This has been the trend for quite some time.

Jessica Jentis fit the profile of a typical American teacher: She was white, held a master’s degree and quit 2 1/2 years after starting her career.

According to a new study from the National Education Association, a teachers union, half of new U.S. teachers are likely to quit within the first five years because of poor working conditions and low salaries.

Jentis, now a stay-at-home mother of three, says that she could not make enough money teaching in Manhattan to pay for her student loans and that dealing with the school bureaucracy was too difficult.

“The kids were wonderful to be with, but the stress of everything that went with it and the low pay did not make it hard to leave,” she said. “It’s sad because you see a lot of the teachers that are young and gung-ho are ready to leave.”

The proportion of new teachers who leave the profession has hovered around 50 percent for decades, said Barry A. Farber, a professor of education and psychology at Columbia University in New York.

Nevertheless, the misnomers surrounding this vocation continue to circulate.  Life is bliss when you work to help children learn.  Perhaps that is why teachers work as hard as they do.  They know they will not be fully financially compensated for doing as they routinely do.  Yet, their actions and the results of these are extremely rewarding.

Recently, Education Week published Teachers’ Workday Is Difficult to Pin Down.  This exposé discusses the dynamics of the teaching profession, from hours paid to hours worked.  Recently, a report , still in its preliminary stages revealed that teachers work, on average 15 ½ hours a day.  In an article published in the The Honolulu Advertiser teachers share their perspectives.

Dawn Kodama-Nii, a third-grade teacher at Wilson Elementary, called the study “pretty accurate,” at least in describing the amount of extra time she and her colleagues work.

She arrives at school by 7 a.m. to prepare lesson plans and get her classroom ready. She leaves at around 5 p.m., taking work home. Nearly every Sunday she puts in another seven-hour day.

“We put in so many hours,” said Kodama-Nii, who is married with a 2-year-old daughter. “As a teacher, your job is never done.”

But Sylvia Koo, a veteran math teacher at Farrington High who works an average of 10 hours a day, said it’s not the quantity but the quality of hours that should matter more.

“We do work more than our seven-hour day, but I don’t work 15 1/2 hours every day,” said Koo, who also advises the school’s math team and teaches math in an adult education class twice a week. “The fact that some teachers go home at 3 p.m., though, doesn’t make them bad teachers.”

Nor does it make them a teacher, “absent without official leave.”  Educators take their work with them wherever they go.  Most instructors cannot and do not leave their work at the “office.”  In my own life, once I exited the school building, my day was not done.  I graded papers while dining.  I wrote plans beginning in the late afternoon.  I was working and reworking into early evening.  Before I realized it, the day began again and I had yet to go to sleep.  Rest seemed less essential than preparing for my classes.  On most mornings, while in the shower, I would think of a better way to present the material. I would quickly make changes.

I drove back to the school building and waited in line to use the copy machine.  Well, I could have stood still and chatted; however, other arrangements needed my attention.  Students scurried in before the bell, hoping to speak with me.  There were parents to call, electronic mails to file through, paperwork to complete, and of course meetings.  Weekends were slightly different.  There was time to look for resources and materials.  These could help me motivate minds individually.  In truth, I must excite each pupil personally if they are to truly learn.

My story is not unique.  Teachers throughout the world could tell the same or similar tales.  Nevertheless,  those not driven to the teaching profession think this scenario is overstated, unreal, or simply not credible..  Individuals quarreled over the findings in this recent report.

An Advertiser editorial said that the 15½-hour workday “defies logic,” and added that the newspaper’s reporter should have spoken with someone outside the committee who could have brought perspective to the matter.

But the debate in Hawaii throws up a question with as many answers, it appears, as there are education interests: How many hours does the average teacher clock in?

Further complicating the issue is the fact that teachers work a calendar different from that of other professions-usually around 38 weeks a year.

Based on the shorter work year, some researchers have argued that teachers are on a par with other professions in pay for actual hours worked. A controversial report that came out earlier this year from researchers Jay P. Greene and Marcus A. Winters of the New York City-based Manhattan Institute computed hourly wages for teachers using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to find that, on average, they earn more than economists, registered nurses, and architects, among others. In fact, it said, the average public school teacher was paid 36 percent more than the average white-collar worker in 2005.

While I, and many studies dispute this claim, I think it is vital that we look at what goes on in the classroom. On average, a single class may have twenty to forty students.  Each pupil has his or her own history and manner of working, coping, or relating to information and instruction.  These may not be complimentary.

The stress on a student or a teacher takes a toll.  While most educators feels connected to the scholars in their space and to the curriculum, troubling matters amass.  Frequently, a teacher is frustrated.  They feel they have little time to teach.  Discipline is a dilemma.  Class size does not always lend itself to effective instruction.  Efficacy is reduced.  Sadly, educators no longer believe that they can facilitate growth.  We have all heard the phrase, “teacher burn-out.” Frequently, educators, as people in all professions expect much of themselves.

We all see parents unable to “control” the crying of a lone child.  Perhaps, we are the forlorn mother or father embarrassed when our offspring runs rampant up and down store isles.  Imagine, being an instructor, trying to stimulate a class full of students, each with their own individual interests, while maintaining a constructive classroom demeanor.

The ability to control students in a classroom is a critical factor in any educational setting.  After all,  if teachers do not react adequately to students  when their behavior is disruptive, instruction suffers.  Teachers who distrust their ability  to maintain classroom order cannot avoid this key  factor of the job.  Day in, day out, they must  continue to instruct students in order to reach educational goals.

Teachers who have no confidence in their classroom management abilities are confronted by their incompetence every day, while  at the same time understanding how important that competence is if they are to perform well and  achieve the educational goals.  Furthermore, they are likely to know that their colleagues routinely  succeed in obtaining a comfortable classroom environment (Metz, 1978). 

Teachers who (1) distrust their classroom management abilities under standard job conditions  and (2) understand the importance of that competence, (3) cannot avoid the management tasks if they  are to reach the educational goals, and (4) are informed that colleagues routinely obtain a comfortable learning environment, can easily suffer  stress, exhaustion, and negative attitudes (Davies  & Yates, 1982; Usaf & Kavanagh, 1990).

Several  studies demonstrate that doubts about self-efficacy can in themselves trigger the burnout process.  Chwalisz, Altmaier, and Russell (1992) found that  teachers who score low in self-efficacy reported a higher degree of burnout than their counterparts who score high in self-efficacy.

Greenglass and  Burke (1988) conclude that doubts about self-efficacy contributed significantly to the development  of burnout among male teachers.  The more specific  relationship between teachers’ perceived self-efficacy in classroom management and burnout has  been investigated as well.  Friedman and Farber  (1992) found that teachers who considered themselves less competent in classroom management  and discipline reported a higher level of burnout  than their counterparts who have more confidence  in their competence in this regard.

Sigh deeply and continue to assess the predicament of educators.  When the Manhattan Institute cited their conclusion, there was a clamor among educators.  Career professionals spoke not of the circumstances within the learning environment.  They addressed other concerns, those mandated by government.

The study met with vehement opposition from teachers’ unions, which pointed out that it did not take into account additional hours that teachers put into their jobs outside the classroom.

While school days have always been long, “there is a lot going on now in terms of the No Child Left Behind Act,” said Reg Weaver, the president of the 3.1 million-member National Education Association, referring to the mandates of the 5-year-old federal law.

“There is a ton of paperwork that needs to be done in addition to other responsibilities, and teachers are trying to juggle the duties and responsibilities they have both in classroom and after school,” he added.

We have heard that from many a teacher; yet few take the time to consider the truth of this statement.  Assumptions are made.  Instructors often have students grade their own, or a classmates work.  Yet, those methods for correcting are not always practical, possible, or pedagogically sound.  Humans crave attention and the admiration of those they perceive as experts.  When a pupil works diligently, and receives a score on a paper and no comments, they feel lost, devastated, and desirous of more.  If an academic is expected to excel they must have information to assist them.  Authentic achievement involves much nurturing.  It is challenging to stimulate learning within a large group.  Individuals want and need attention.

Showing interest in each learner takes a lot of time.  The clock is ticking.  Twenty students, perhaps forty, five, six, or seven subjects to teach, this is the dilemma.  Journalist, Vaishalo Honawar, writes, this is a complicated question and the answer is equally complex.

Across the political spectrum, experts tend to agree that many teachers put in hours well in excess of the seven-hour workday stipulated in most union contracts.

According to Lawrence Mishel, the president of the Washington-based Economic Policy Institute, teachers work as hard as professionals in other fields, and then some.

“Teachers work as many hours per week as other college graduates, ? or at least women teachers work as much as or more than women college graduates in other professions, while male teachers work slightly less than male graduates in other professions,” said Mr. Mishel, whose board of directors includes labor-union officials.

“I think it’s a mistake for people to think teachers only work their contracted hours,” said Kate Walsh, the president of the National Council on Teacher Quality, a conservative-leaning advocacy, and policy group in Washington. It is “difficult and almost impossible” for teachers to get all their work, including preparation for class, done within the hours stipulated in the contract, she added.

Even the Bureau of Labor Statistics acknowledges that there is more to the question of teacher work hours than hard facts. In its latest annual survey on worker compensation, released last August, the bureau found that elementary teachers worked 36.5 hours a week, while secondary school teachers worked 36.9 hours. Special education teachers worked 35.4 hours.

But the bureau also says, in its Occupational Outlook Handbook, that after including school duties performed outside the classroom, many teachers work more than 40 hours a week.

Teachers’ unions, meanwhile, have their own figures. According to Mr. Weaver, the average teacher spends 50 hours a week on instructional duties, and 12 more hours on non-instructional tasks, such as grading papers, advising students, and serving on bus duty.

Those responsibilities, in essence, stretch the workday of an average teacher to more than 12 hours-almost twice what is stated in most contracts.

Yet, many quibble.  Among the economists and researchers, remarks are made.  Michael Podgursky, an Economics Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison quipped, “People always think they’re working. But if I’m on a treadmill thinking about work, does that count as work?”  Nevertheless, in Hawaii there may be some hope for overworked and underpaid teaching professionals.  It seems the Time Committee cares.  Will parents, Principals, School Boards, and Districts?

$63,000 More?
In Hawaii, the Time Committee was set up in 2005 as a result of a collective bargaining agreement between the school board and the union. (Hawaii has a single, statewide school district.) It was in response to teachers’ concerns of spending many extra hours on the job, said Joan Lee Husted, the executive director of the Hawaii State Teachers Association.

“Our teachers have been complaining that with NCLB and with standards-based education, they have been doing more testing, more paperwork, and more committee meetings than they are preparing for delivering instruction,” she said.

The preliminary report found that teachers spend 1,780 additional hours a year, or 254 additional seven-hour workdays, on noninstructional duties that include creating lesson plans, grading tests, counseling individual students, and communicating with parents, among many other tasks. If teachers were compensated for the additional work at the average daily rate of pay, the report says, it would cost $63,000 more per teacher per year.

Meanwhile, the NEA’s Mr. Weaver said a teacher working for 15 hours does not sound, to him, beyond the realm of possibility.

For most teachers, he said, a 12-hour workday is common.

“Teachers are always engaged with the children and the community,” Mr. Weaver said. “We spend a lot of time working.”

Perchance an additional $63,000 per teacher is ah, but a dream.  Nonetheless, in a time when American students are falling behind, we as a nation might consider that investing in education and educators benefits society as a whole.  Schools are not meant to serve as storage spaces for children, while parents go off and play or make money to pay the bills.  Our educational institutions are the foundation for our future.

A Teachers Work and Wages . . .

  • pdf Teachers’ Workday Is Difficult to Pin Down, By Vaishali Honawar.  Education Week. April 18, 2007
  • Teacher’s day ends long after bell, By Catherine E. Toth. Advertiser Urban Honolulu Sunday, March 4, 2007
  • How Much Are Public School Teachers Paid? By Jay P. Greene and Marcus A. Winters.  The Manhattan Institute
  • The National Compensation Survey (NCS) U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • Half of Teachers Quit in 5 Years, Working Conditions, Low Salaries Cited. By Lisa Lambert. Reuters.  Washington Post.  Tuesday, May 9, 2006; A07
  • pdf Half of Teachers Quit in 5 Years, Working Conditions, Low Salaries Cited. By Lisa Lambert. Reuters.  Washington Post. Tuesday, May 9, 2006; A07
  • Insights Into Why U.S. Students Lag Behind in Global Academic ‘Horse Race,’ By Edward B. Fiske. International Herald Tribune. Tuesday, February 11, 1997
  • Societal Bubbles Bursting, Job Security, Debt, Health Care, Pensions ©

    Each day we hear talk; we are experiencing a housing bubble and it will have to burst.  There are those that say rising prices is the history of housing.  The cost of housing steadily increases and has for the last fifty years.  As the growing population grows so too does the cost of homeownership.  Demand is high, supply attempts to follow. Wall Street Journal, David Wessel writes, The Fed Starts to Show Concern At Signs of a Bubble in Housing

    With the advent of low and no interest home mortgages, the possibility of acquiring a house increases.  Please reflect upon, Los Angeles Times, by David Streitfeld, They’re In – but Not Home Free.

    With this boost, the likelihood of bankruptcy is also amplified. Bankruptcy filings are up 370% in the last 20 years.  The effects of a global economy also contribute to the possibility of insolvency.  Fewer Americans are employed in stable positions.  Job security is a misnomer Careers that last for a lifetime increasingly are disappearing.

    Fewer people pursue profession callings, they find it difficult to follow their passion. People often take jobs for practical reasons. Employment contracts are temporary, if they exist at all.  Most Americans will find themselves out of work for a time and that period is longer than it was in the past.  An article published in the Chicago Tribune, after this treatise was posted, advances understanding.  Please consider, White-collar Jobless Blues, by Barbara Rose.

    During that time, and even during better times, bills can mount.  Consumers buy on credit.  They hope to keep collectors at bay, and yet, the creditors come.  The stress that societal conditions create affects health.  Costly illnesses are the cause for almost half of all personal bankruptcies.

    Many Americans discover that their health is not as they desire.  Close to half of United States citizens are “using” prescribed drugs.  It is said, medications are over prescribed.  Doctors fear lawsuits if they do not attend to patient needs or requests.  Numerous patients are demanding drugs.  Television and radio commercials tell them to.

    Drug companies play to people’s doubts, profoundly.  Consumers come to believe that if they need to urinate during the night, then, they need to take a pill.  If they want to have great physical “intimacy” a tablet is required.  To sleep well, a person must swallow a pill or two.  Prevention is not proposed; medication is.

    In 2005, life is a bubble.  We live in a world where all is exaggerated, extravagant, and easily broken.  People drift, they float and they fear stability is fleeting.  It is.  Please read, If America Is Richer, Why Are Its Families So Much Less Secure?, Los Angeles Times.

    There was a time when Americans focused on creating “A Great Society;” our President spoke of it.  In 1964, Lyndon Baynes Johnson proclaimed, “The Great Society rests on abundance and liberty for all. It is a place where the city of man serves not only the needs of the body and the demands of commerce, but the desire for beauty and the hunger for community.  It is a place where men are more concerned with the quality of their goals than the quantity of their goods.”

    In 1964, hope and fulfillment were building.  The citizens of the United Sates were working towards a shared vision.  However, all that has changed.  America changed; its leadership changed.  The principles of the Great Society perished and our present social order grows dim.  There is not only speculation of the housing bubble bursting; there are other truths that we accept confidently.  Many of these are false and they will fade.  Exploding myths are everywhere.

    In 2005, life is not great for civilization as a whole.  There are those that flourish; however, they represent only 10 percent of the population.  “Working Americans are on a financial tightrope,” said Yale University political scientist Jacob S. Hacker, author of soon to be published,  The Great Risk Shift.  “Business and government used to see it as their duty to provide safety nets against the worst economic threats we face.  But more and more, they’re yanking them away.”

    We as a society have become [more] separate and unequal.  Instead of being a “United” States of America, we are divided.  It is now every man, woman, and child for him or herself.  People are struggling to survive, trying to sustain a reasonable life style.  Debt is the nation’s downfall.  Health costs are escalating.  Health insurance has long been elusive for many American citizens.  Pensions are a promise not kept.  Bankruptcies are on the rise.  There are reasons for this.

    University of Pennsylvania economist Peter Cappelli discusses some of these.  He says, “For almost a century, business and government worked in tandem to expand the economic protections afforded working Americans through social insurance programs and career employment.  In the last 25 years, we’ve stripped most of these away.  For a growing number of people, the result is unmistakable: “You’re on your own.”

    In the following passages, statistics are shared.  These are offered in hopes of furthering the understanding for ideas such as these.  A bubble does not exist in isolation; it too is connected to all other causes and effects.

    For every action, there is an equal and opposing reaction.
    Sir Isaac Newton [Physicist]

    No man is an island, entire of itself…any man’s death diminishes me,
    Because I am involved in mankind;
    And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
    It tolls for thee.

    John Donne [17th century English poet.]

    Job Security
    Job security in 2005 is an oxymoron; those days are gone.  Employers are feeding a fertile market and not their employees. Business owners are anxious, they might lose profit shares; investors are fickle. Therefore, with the support of administrations that favor industry, companies have happily broken the loyalty bond that once existed between corporations and their employees.
    • In the 1980s 56% of major corporations surveyed stressed, “employees who are loyal to the company and further its business goals deserve an assurance of continued employment.”  [Conference Board, research business group]
    • Ten years later, by 1990, only 6% believed that loyal employees were important to business goals.
    In this climate of corporate power, people are increasingly downsized from their jobs.
    • Middle-aged men, in 1978, could expect to be with the same employer for 11 years.  [Bureau of Labor Statistics]
    • Today, 2005, middle-aged men cannot expect to be with the same employer beyond 7.5 years, f few last that long.
    • The average length of unemployment is 50 percent longer than it was in 1970.

    The economic damage created by lay-offs is greater than ever before. Princeton University economist Henry S. Farber recently found that college graduates were taking a far bigger hit. Few are asked to return to their original jobs. Most are forced to take positions that pay less, though these placements may ask as much or more of their workers. Often people must be re-trained; they must abandon their original fields.

    Among the effects of unemployment and job insecurity is the lack of savings, the inability to put monies aside, and the expansion of personal debt. The Federal Reserve reports that in the last decade, the percent of income households devoted to debt is steadily increasing.

    • More than 10% of households have monthly debts greater than their incomes.
    • In 2001, 42% of households had less than $1,000 total on hand. This number accounts for the combined dollars available in checking and savings accounts, CDs, mutual funds, stocks, and bonds.
    • 25% of low-income households have credit card debt.
    • 48% of zero-net-worth households do have debt, and these owe almost twice as much as the average American.
    • More than half of all adults have incomes that vary, significantly, from month to month.
    • Most workers with varying monthly incomes are dependent on overtime, tips, commissions, or self-employment.
    • More than 7 million Americans already have second jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Nearly three out of every 10 people who hold more than one job say they do so to meet household expenses or pay off debt.  [Chatzky, J., Money, Weapons of Mass Debt Destruction. page 57.  September.  2004]
    • American adults that are not working due to unemployment are few and far between. Those not working, due to chronic or temporary illness, or injury is greater than the number of unemployed.

    Health Insurance
    • In1987, employers provided health coverage for 70% of the nation’s working-age population.  [Employee Benefit Research Institute in Washington.]
    • Only 63% of employers provided any health benefits in 2004.
    • 18 million people who once expected to receive coverage must now make their own arrangements.
    • When employers do continue coverage, increasingly, they force more of the costs onto employees.
    • Since 2000, employers have steadily raised the premiums charged to their workers.
    • An average worker must pay 50%, or about $1,000 a family.  [Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research and Educational Trust]

    • Twenty-five years ago, almost 40% of the nation’s private full-time workforce was covered by traditional employer?”based pensions
    • In 2005, 20% of workers are covered by employed based pensions.
    • Pensions are defined as contribution plans such as 401ks.
    • Employers now contribute only some funds to pension plans, typically about half what they once did.
    • Employees alone bear the burden of ensuring that they have enough money to retire on.

    The Bankruptcy Trend
    • According to the American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI), in the fiscal years 2002 – 2003, personal bankruptcy filings rose 7.8%.
    • In 2003, 1,625,813 households filed for bankruptcy. This is twice the number of those filing for personal bankruptcy protection in 1993.

    The number continues to escalate.  US consumer debt is at an all time high!  There are those that want us to believe that the reason for the rise is that people are spending frivolously.  They are flaunting their wares and there is no need for such behavior.

    Credit card companies take no responsibility for the debt of individuals; nor do health care professionals.  Insurance companies claim no fault and mortgage brokers deny a contribution.  Businesses take no blame and government garners none.  Each of these states, culpability is that of the individual.  However, statistics do not bare this out.

    Income fluctuations and job insecurity increase the likelihood of debt.  For families and individuals, the greater the debt, the greater the chance of getting caught in an irreconcilable crisis.  Layoffs, divorce, illness, and injury all add to the weight of economic instability.

    Economic weight is as physical weight; Americans have long been preoccupied with both.  In a recent poll conducted by the Cambridge Consumer Credit Index, the tide has turned.  Currently, more than one quarter of the population consider the weight of their body of less concern then getting out of debt.  When making New Year’s resolutions, 28 percent of American citizen resolved to pay down debt.

    “This is the first time in the history of the Cambridge Consumer Credit Index that more Americans say that reducing debt is a higher priority than losing weight or exercising more.  These results provide ample testimony to the increasing heavy burden that debt is perceived to be by American consumers who continued to take on billions of dollars in additional credit in 2003.  The large increase in a desire for more secure employment also shows that, despite many signs of economic growth, many Americans still do not feel secure in their jobs,” stated Jordan Goodman of the Index.

    Goodman words and study secure the truth of what is. Americans need not fear bubbles will burst; they are already disintegrating.  Housing is only one aspect of what has, does, and will affect Americans.  Sadly, the idea or reality of “A Great Society” is no longer. American civilization is not great, it is not working well; it is not growing greater.  As a whole, we are weaker; the dreams of Lyndon Banes Johnson died a slow, substantive, and a silent death.

    Mark Thoma, Economist’s View, offers graphic realities.  Please view this bubbles as they burst.Graphs Gathered from Blogs (June 2005)

    Please read and reflect upon this commentary, Why The Employment Situation Sucks by bonddad, Daily Kos.

    Do Women Count? Do Men?

    © copyright 2005 Betsy L. Angert

    Yesterday, as I garnered the news, I was struck by two stories; in each, the discussion was of women.  Do they count?  Do men?  The answer is, it depends on who is doing the counting.  It is also dependent on when the counting occurs.  As of July 2005, the feds will no longer count women.  As of May, Harvard President Lawrence Summers, a man that once counted women out, will now count them in.

    The history of these two stories is an interesting one and each addresses the reliability of counting.  If counting occurs under the guise of the Bush presidency, it may ultimately be suppressed.  This administration is known to repeal routine reports that are contrary to their agenda.  If an unfavorable light could be cast upon their mission, it will be dimmed.  If counting causes a rumble outside the reach of the Bushites the results may be different.

    In late 2003, the administration chose not to release a monthly review of Mass Layoff Statistics.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics was known to study and report on factory closings throughout the country every thirty days.  In November 2003 the report disclosed massive layoffs, close to a quarter-million people were dismissed during the sacred holiday season.  These findings conflicted with the message that Bushites were sending.  Their banter was of economic growth, the administration was in the process of proudly proclaiming, ??businesses are building, and hiring is on the rise.’  Nonetheless, the facts told a different story.  Expecting repercussions from this and future reports the quasi-autocrats chose to cancel the studies completely.  Who knew what accounts such as these might generate?

    The announcement came quietly on Christmas Eve; it appeared in a footnote.  When asked why the administration might end a long-standing practice, the Bush Band stated that the “report was a victim of budget cuts.”  [Slate 2003]  However, there were questions.  The Washington Post made note of the suppression, publicly it posed other possibilities then the one the Whitehouse offered.  Were budget cuts really the reason for this elimination?  Discussion began and ultimately, in embarrassment, the BLS reinstated the review.

    Then there was the time that the federal economic team, on behalf of the administration chose to eradicate its own assessments.  They found them unsatisfactory.  They knew that exposing their evaluations and projections would counter the agenda that the administration was promoting.  The White House was in the process of pushing a tax-cut.  Economists and financial experts were critical of the proposed reductions; they warned that these would greatly expand future deficits.  Nonetheless, the Bush boys and girls marched on.

    [Then]  Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill agreed.  He predicted huge budget deficits well into the future.  O’Neill expressed his concern.  He asked the administration to consider that health care and retirement costs would increase as the baby-boomers aged.  He stated that these expenses would deplete U.S. reserves.  He suggested that these issues be addressed.  While not disputing the validity of the O’Neil opinion, the economic team chose to drop these assertions from a budget summary package.  Later, the administration was successful in silencing skeptics.  O’Neill; was asked to leave his cabinet position.

    Now, another report is being eliminated.  For four decades the Federal government collected data on women, they looked at employment numbers, the quality of positions, the type of positions women held, salaries, and women’s increasing role in supporting their families.  While the statistics had long been helpful to businesses, industries, and educational institutions, recently, the Bureau of Labor Statistics questioned the relevancy of these reviews.  According to the Bureau “the data is of little use.”  Apparently, knowledge of women in the work force has no impact on business, on labor, or on our greater society.  Therefore, they announced that they would no longer collect it.

    All of this from an administration that when speaking of our schools and students, touts the importance of “accountability.”  In addressing the issues of economics and women in the workplace, they seem to hold a different standard.  In these areas, they believe that there is no need for “accountability.”  In the world of Bush, businesses, industries, and professional institutions need not answer to anyone.  They may hire, fire, and assign salaries at their own digression and no one will be the wiser, or so some would hope.

    Possibly, President Summers of Harvard University once held this hope.  He discovered that the populous is wiser.  In January 2005, Mr. Summers spoke of women in the workplace.  Specifically he speculated on the reasons that so few sought tenure-tracked positions.  He wondered why only a handful pursued the studies of math and science.

    President Summers counted women out!  He said they preferred to stay home, to sit on the sidelines, and follow the family path.  Lawrence Summers noted that women were not well represented in any professional positions.  President Summers attributed this to innate differences in the sexes.  He speculated; women are not able think in a deep and detailed manner.  Disciplines such as math and science require this, as does an “authentic” career.

    The Harvard professor was publicly condemned for his words.  There were repeated cries for his resignation.  The media covered this debate nationwide.  Mr. Summers offered numerous apologies, though he refused to leave his exalted position.  Ultimately, Mr. Summers survived scathing criticism after his remarks.  He even survived a historic no-confidence vote by undergraduate faculty earlier this spring.  Now, in retrospect he relents.  Possibly, he misspoke.

    In conjunction with the story of the fed’s not counting women, there was news of President Lawrence Summers.  The senior provost had announced plans to spend $50 million.  The goal is to increase the number of women and people from minority groups in his faculty.

    Mr. Summers now proclaims that investing in women and minorities, will “have the power to make Harvard not only more welcoming and diverse, but a stronger and more excellent university overall.”  His vision is to improve the climate for women on the campus.  He expects to increase training, develop better recruiting practices, and advance undergraduate faculty to positions that are more senior.  Harvard President Lawrence Summers now wants to count women.  Possibly, the Bureau of Labor Statistics could learn from him.  He may even teach them how to count.

    Please listen to a commentary titled “Gender Statistics.”  This piece aired on NPR’s Marketplace.  Former Maryland Lieutenant Governor, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend discusses the nuances of women in the workplace.