Burbey: What Do Great Schools Cost?

From Ryan Burbey, Harford County Public Schools teacher:

Much debate over the past couple of years has revolved around taxes and school funding. Local “Tea Party” activists would tell you that they pay too much in taxes and that our schools are massively wasteful institutions. At first glance, your tax bill may seem exorbitant, but a closer look will reveal an obvious flaw in this logic.

After last year’s two cent per $100 tax cut, Harford County’s property tax rate stands at $1.042. That means that for each $100,000 in real property, each Harford County resident pays $1,042.00. That amounts to about $87 each month, down from about $89 each month. This modest rate cut may seem like small potatoes, but let me tell you it adds up to big time lost revenue. Extrapolated across the county, this amounts to millions and millions of dollars, which can’t be spent on schools, police, firemen or vital services. Would you pay $2 per month to have better schools?

“Tea Party” loyalists will tell you that Harford County taxes are still higher than they should be, but when compared to other counties around the state, it is clear that this argument has little or no merit. We pay far less in taxes than virtually every other developed county in the state. Similarly, real estate values in Howard County and other developed counties are significantly higher than ours. This means that each household pays significantly more in real estate tax than most of the citizens of Harford County.

Why are property values so much higher in Howard County? As all of our “free market”, “Tea Party” advocates can confirm, housing cost is driven by supply and demand. That means that more people in general want to live in Howard County, braving daily traffic jams, than scenic Harford County. Why do they forgo our pristine vistas and pastoral landscapes for over-priced, over-crowded communities? Perhaps, it is proximity to work or more shopping options, but most would say that families choose their homes based on the quality of community schools.

Being a teacher in Harford County, I would be the last person to debase our schools. We have, for a long-time, done the best we can with the funding we are provided. However, Harford County Public Schools is one of the lowest funded school systems in the state. As of October 2010, Harford County ranked 18th out of 24 counties in per pupil spending. Only Cecil, St. Mary’s, Washington, Queen Anne’s, Talbot, and Caroline invested less money on their children’s future than Harford County. http://www.mdreportcard.org/

As much as every teacher wishes they could overcome the overwhelming funding disparities between Harford County and other more successful counties, money matters. Currently, the top three most successful school systems in the state of Maryland are Calvert County, Carroll County and Howard County. Harford County ranks 12th, just behind St. Mary’s County and just ahead of Baltimore County. http://www.schooldigger.com/go/MD/districtrank.aspx

Why, you ask again? Do they have better kids, better parents or better teachers? Is there something in the water? No, they just invest more money in their schools.

In 2009, 2010 and 2011 Calvert County invested $6,313, $6,500 and $6,562 per pupil respectively. Carroll County spent $6,100, $6,333, and $6,200 during the same three years. Howard County, the system closest of the top three in size to HCPS, spent over $9,000 per student in every year since 2009 and proposes to spend almost $9,400 per pupil in 2012.

By no means do I suggest that Harford County can or should spend $9,000 per student, but the much-maligned budget proposed by Dr. Tomback and approved by the Harford County Board of Education gets Harford County Public Schools in line with the funding priorities of our competitors, raising the per pupil expenditure to a modest $6,000. This paltry sum is less than any of the top three rated districts spent in any year from 2009 to 2011. Correspondingly, Harford County spent just $5,300/pupil, $5,400/pupil and $5,500/pupil during those years.

The proposed $6,000 per student expenditure also is $300 less than the proposed 2012 per pupil expenditures in Carroll County and $3,360 less per student than Howard County plans on spending next year. Some will say, “In this economy, where are we ever going to get the money?” It is simple. The Harford County Council needs to raise taxes.

Many believe we can’t afford to raise real estate taxes during “tough times.” In truth, we can’t afford not to raise the necessary funds to improve our schools, as well as, maintain the quality of life in our community. Our schools are in dire need of renovations, repairs and technological updates to remain competitive. Our teachers and other school employees have not received negotiated salary steps in two years. Our county workers have endured excessive pay-cuts, disguised as furlough days. Our crumbling infrastructure is also long over due for crucial updates. Just returning property tax rates to 2005 levels of $1.09 for every $100 of assessed real estate value would raise millions of the much-needed dollars to revitalize our schools and community. This “tax hike” would amount to less than $10 per month for most households.

Raising taxes is not popular right now. No one likes to write their property tax check. However, what we really need to be asking ourselves is, “Can you afford a few dollars each month for better schools?” Boasting the 12th best schools in the state is not much of a marketing plan for Harford County real estate. More importantly, 12th out of 24 is simply not good enough for our children. We can do better. We will do better. We just need to invest the money necessary to be competitive.

Warren Buffet, one of the most successful businessmen in U.S history, and a recent Presidential Medal of Freedom Award winner, once said, “Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.” To be successful in turbulent times ahead, Harford County must break the habit of under-funding our schools. Likewise, our elected officials must unchain their repressed political will, brave the irrational anger of “Tea Party” protests, and shoulder the weight of increasing taxes to do right by our children and community.

If we invest, improve and work hard our schools and community will be the envy of every county in the state of Maryland. Undoubtedly, our property values will rise with improvements to schools; yielding much needed financial relief for all residents. In the short term, raising taxes might not seem like the best solution to our economic woes.

However, in the long run, our investment in education will yield a bountiful profit, not just by increased property values, but also, through the prosperity of our children. Great schools are great for business. Great schools build wealth and attract investors. Great schools are the solution to falling property values and lack-luster economic growth.

Above all else, the children of Harford County deserve great schools. In the words of William Allin, “Education is not the answer to the question. Education is the means to the answer to all questions.”

Comments

  1. says

    The recent tax rate reduction was split between the general fund and the Highways fund. The general fund rate was reduced from $.908 to $.896 per hundred dollars of assessed value. The highways fund rate was reduced from $.156 to $.146 per hundred dollars of assessed value. Those Harford County residents who live in Bel Air, Aberdeen and Havre De Grace did not get the $.146 reduction, as they do not pay the Highway Tax.

    A change of one cent in the Property Tax Rate turns about $2,500,000. Clearly not the millions and millions of dollars projected. And in fact, only the $.896 is available for the general fund, to pay for schools, police and other general fund functions. The other $.146 is dedicated to the Highways fund, and cannot be used for other purposes.

    Business owners utilities and railroads must also pay a personal property tax. That tax is 2.5 times the real property tax rate. The $1.04 per hundred dollars of assessed value real property tax rate then equates to a $2.60 per hundred dollar of assessed value personal property tax rate. An increase in the Property Tax Rate of $.01 is a multiplier of 2.5 as applied to personal property tax. This directly affects the price of items purchased by all Harford County residents

    The Property Tax Rate in Harford County is the fourth highest in the State. The Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation (http://www.dat.state.md.us/sdatweb/taxrate.html) lists the tax rate per hundred dollars for the four highest Local Governments, Baltimore City is $2.268, Baltimore County is $1.10, Carroll County is $1.048 Harford County is $1.042. Harford County’s Piggy back income tax is sixth highest in the State, (http://individuals.marylandtaxes.com/incometax/localtax.asp). The facts pretty much say it all, taxes have been and are still higher in Harford County than in most of the rest of State

    In addition to Property and Income Tax revenues, the County also dedicates revenue from Impact fees, Recordation Taxes, and Transfer taxes to school construction. In 2010, $17,000,000 dollars in Recordation Tax revenue, was used to pay debt service for school construction.

    Why then is there not more revenue available to fund government? First because although Harford County is growing it is still relatively small. Second, the number and assessed value of tax exempt property in the County. Third, the major employers in the County pay little or no taxes. The two largest, APG and HCPS pay no taxes. All of the tax exemptions extended to business to locate in Harford County, also depletes the tax base, and reduces Property Tax revenue. This begs the question, If property taxes are too high for new business entities to locate in Harford County, how can current residents and business’ afford them.

    Another consideration is the current economic situation. As a direct result of the current economic situation, Property Tax revenue will not be available to support expansive government programs at the county level. The recent reduction in property assessments will reduce Property Tax Revenues significantly. These assessments and thus Property Tax revenues will not change for the next 2 and 3 years depending on where the property is located. The Homestead Tax Credit program, which extends needed relief from rapidly rising property taxes resulting from inflated property assessments, precludes revenues from rising to last years levels for at least the next 7.5 years.

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  2. Ryan Burbey says

    The bottom line is our schools need more funding. It is not just for teacher pay. It is to maintain and raise the quality of education provided to our children. Do you have children in Harford County Public Schools? Do you want your children to continue to attend the 6th lowest funded school system or 12th most successful system in the state?

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  3. says

    No, Harford County does not spend as much per student as other local educational authorities. A very cursory review of the situation indicates that per pupil expenditures are divided into 4 distinct bands. The first band is $11,000 per student and it ranges from $11,154 to $11,789. There are 11 counties in this band. Harford County is in this band and spends $11,542 per student. The next band ranges from $12,054 to $12,564. There are 5 counties in this band . The third ranges from $13,013 to $13,251, and there are two counties in this band. The fourth ranges from 14,166 to 14,969 and there are 5 counties in this band. The Maryland Department of Education Fact Book, 2009-2010 displays this quite nicely. (http://www.msde.maryland.gov/NR/rdonlyres/0C24833A-9CBE-4C09-9010-B7BD88F4B1E0/27259/Fact_Book_2009_2010.pdf)

    Further analysis would seem to indicate that Harford County is in the band with the majority of other counties and that they are separated from each other by no more than a few hundred dollars.

    The Maryland State Department of Education Report Card (http://www.mdreportcard.org/) and the MDE Fact Book cited above provide additional details on school expenditures. The total per pupil expenditure, including federal, State and local contributions for Howard, Calvert Carroll and Harford County is $14,166, $11,789, $11,671 and $11,542 respectively. Another interesting demographic/ statistic provided in the Maryland Report Card is wealth per student, or a measure of how much the local jurisdiction can afford. The wealth per student in Howard, Calvert, Carroll and Harford Counties is 509,009, 392,845, 381,712 and 369,649 respectively. Harford County ranks 13 in this category. The MDE Fact Book also provides the education effort index, a comparison of local wealth to local contribution. Harford County’s, along with three other counties, index score is .013, One County’s score is .016 and 4 are scored at .014. Harford County scored as one of the three highest in the state in this category. This suggests that other Counties spend more per pupil, because they have more. Relative to wealth per pupil available, Harford County is one of the leaders in the state.

    It would appear that funding levels in Harford County are not as dismal as they are portrayed. In fact, the difference between funding in Calvert, Carroll, both of which are purported to be in the top three Maryland schools and Harford County is only $247. The argument that additional funding is required to boost performance seems to be overstated.

    With such a small difference in per student funding between Calvert and Carroll, which are both in the top three in the State, why isn’t Harford County in that group? It is hard to believe that a difference of $247 dollars would keep Harford County out of that category.

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  4. Ryan Burbey says

    The argument which you are making is contradictory. The Thorton formula guarantees that fundamental differences in tax base are balanced. You can not consider combined state and local contributions. Look at each system’s budget. Take the county contribution divided by the number of students. Likewise, when considering the per pupil wealth, Howard county reports $509,009, while Harford County reports$369,649. Harford County spent $5,500/student and Howard County spent over $9,000. 509 : 369 is a ration of 1.3 to 1. 9,000 : 5,500 is a ratio of 1.6 to 1. This demonstrate that the expenditures compared to wealth per student is significantly higher in Howard County. The ratios for Carroll county are closer to 1:1 since their wealth per student is appx. 381,000. Likewise, Calvert’s wealth per student is appx. $392,000. However, these are much smaller counties, where each dollar goes further, since it is spent on a much less diverse and geographically centralized population.
    Still, let’s not pu-pu $247/ student that is a considerable sum of money. Harford County has appx. 39,000 students. 39,000 X 247 = 9.3 million dollars per year. I don’t know about you but 9.3 million seems like a significant difference to me. I bet it seems like a significant difference to every HCPS employee, since the cost of steps each year is less than 3 million. That means for the funding difference in one year we could have kept the promised salary scale to all our HCPS employees every year during the salary freeze. Is 9,3 million an overstatement?
    For a little different perspective, let’s consider what that 9.3 million could buy each year. HCPS could buy every student in the school system a laptop at Wal-Mart for just over 11 million. 39,000 x 298 = 11, 622, 000. Is 9,3 million still an overstatement? Now, you might say why should we buy a laptop for every student. Well, that would have the potential to virtually eliminate paper cost. I think this make it very clear that an increased investment in schools can result in a net savings.
    I am not arguing that we can or should elevate to Howard County spending levels but the proposed expenditure of $6,000 per student is more than reasonable. Think about it folks. Regardless of your political affiliation, you should support increasing school funding. It makes financial sense. It makes ethical sense. It represents sensible and responsible community policy. Hell, it just makes sense.

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    • another teacher says

      I would never suggest buying laptops for all students. Half of my students would loose them or forget to bring them to school. They don’t even bring notebooks, paper or pencils to school – but they never forget their cellphones and ipads. Who would pay for repairs, lost or stolen computers? What about the significant number of students that do not have internet access at home? I know it sounds old fashion but how about buying enough textbooks for each student. It might not be high tech but they are serviceable and (if properly researched before purchase) can have a long shelf life. I agree with a lot of what you say but you picked the wrong example/comparison to make.

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      • Porter says

        @ANOTHER TEACHER you are right about a notebook PC for every student vs enough text books, I agree.

        Unfortunately, Ryan Burbey seems to have a firm belief that the superficiality of throwing more taxpayer money at a failed education system is the answer, when time and time again the public education system burdened by teacher’s union dictates can’t even deliver the requisite number of essential text books for students.

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        • Ryan Burbey says

          I would take issue with this assertion. Teacher unions do not stand in the way of reform. We do not determine curicula. We do not decide on groupings or logistical concerns. We do not set policy. In fact, teachers unions have historically driven reform movements. Just read a little John Dewey. What teacher unions stand in the way of is stripping teachers of fundamental democratic and labor rights.

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          • Porter says

            @RYAN BURBREY Your John Dewey citation notwithstanding, the public education system is a bankrupt model from both financial and educational standards. And your claim that Teacher’s Unions have been at the forefront of reform is patently false and evidenced by the last forty years of ever increasing spending per pupil and NO appreciable increase in results.

            Teacher’s Unions are not about improving education they are about power and money.

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          • Ryan Burbey says

            Actually, if you look at the results over time, American schools have been consistently improving. However, the improvements have been clouded by changing standards and increased access, as well as, data reporting for various demographic groupings.
            A simple example would be clear if you look at math standards. When I was a student in public schools over 20 years ago, I was in the top academic “track”. I took Algebra I in ninth grade. Now, our “top” students take Algebra in 7th grade. Over time, we, as a nation, have raised the standard and extended the scope of the curriculum.

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          • Phil Dirt says

            Where many of us and you differ is in our definitions of “fundamental democratic and labor rights”.

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      • Ryan Burbey says

        My arguement really is not whether we should buy a laptop for every student or not, although I do beleive we need to both teach students to mange tech and use tech. I agree we need textbooks but by using technology we could actually save paper and allow students to have all their text books in one place.

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  5. Porter says

    @RYAN BURBEY – Why don’t you compare Harford County to what Washington DC’s spend is per student?

    Heck why don’t we spend an even $20K per student? Would we then getter better results?

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  6. Ryan Burbey says

    Well, it would be an erroneous comparison to draw parallels between DC and Harford County. DC is a primarily impoverished inner-city system. Harford County is largely upper-middle class. DC also has a plethora of social ills, including a ridiculously high rate of lead exposure. Similarly, DC has an extremely high poverty rate. Quite honestly, DC may not have enough $$$ to really address all the social concerns affecting their students. Harford County just does not allocate sufficient funds to really excel. As the County Council President recently eluded, Howard County and Harford County are fairly comparable. The difference is they invest in their schools , we don’t.

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  7. Porter says

    @RYAN BURBEY The problem with education in both Harford County and Washington, DC is not that we don’t spend enough money, it is that teacher’s unions stand squarely in the way of meaningful reform.

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  8. Ryan Burbey says

    Do a little research. Teacher unions actually have initiated many reform movements. However, if your idea of meaningful reform is to strip teachers of their rights, then you are deluded. Certainly, our educational system requires reform but this reform should not limit debate, limit individual freedoms or privatize a fudamental cornerstone of American Democracy.
    Read a little Jefferson, Horace Mann or John Dewey. If you still have time read a little Supreme Court case law. Maintaining, teacher and student rights is paramount to maintaining a functioning educational system. Go to the NEA or MSEA website. You can see what teacher unions do. We do much more for reform than the general public is aware but on a grassroots level, teachers are not empowered to make the decisions which govern the school system, school or sometime even their own classroom. Before you blame teacher unions look at the governmental beauracracies. Look who really makes the decisions.

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    • Porter says

      @RYAN BURBEY You just keep telling yourself that Teacher’s Unions are about education, students, parents, taxpayers and of course teachers.

      Teacher’s Unions are just one great big benevolent entity whose mission is to take of all the “stakeholders”, NOT!

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      • Ryan Burbey says

        Since I serve on the Board of Directors of the HCEA, our local teacher union, have attended multiple conferneces and conventions, have participated in guiding discussions of union policy, I respectfully assert that I can better tell you what union intentions might be.

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        • Porter says

          @RYAN BURBREY Of course you know better!

          You are part of the problem that Teacher’s Union persist to maintain, and in the course of your maintenance of the status quo students, parents, taxpayers and good teachers all lose.

          And the path you promote is fated to fail because you cannot extort more and more money from taxpayers year after year.

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          • Ryan Burbey says

            For you to state that I am part of the problem without knowing anything about my practice or my advocacy both on behalf of my students and my fellow teachers reveal the narrow-mindedness and ideologic slanting of your arguement.
            I never have stated that each year we need more and more $$$. I have stated that Harford County has a long-standing tradition of underfunding schools. This pattern of underfunding schools is what drives stasis and maintains staus quo. There simply are not funds for much innnovation. The path I advocate is for the tax payers of Harford County to fund schools on a level which maintains relative competiveness with other highly successful districts within the state.
            Similarly, for you to imply that I am not a good teacher is a classic example on conflating unrelated ideas. I, in fact, am quite good at what I do. Likewise, I consistently fight for improve conditions and innovation to better the educational experience of my students and better prepare them for a successful future. Please, do not demonize those you do not know or what you obcviously do not understnad just to achieve your selfish political objective of lowering your own tax burden. By doing so, you deride the commitment of teachers, you debase the educational profession without empirical evidence and you divide our community. I and other union leadership, as well as, teachers are committed to the success of our students and work tirelessly on their behalf, as well as, the behalf of teachers. The interests of teacdhers and students are intertwined not divergent.

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          • It's all in the numbers says

            I’m offended that you are calling teachers extortionists.

            Teachers within the union are voices of the school system. We live and breath the educational system every day, and the union gives suggestions and recommendations to those people that make decisions about our schools, but that know very little about the actual everyday goings on within the school building.

            Who else is going to stand up for the teachers and students of this county? Obviously, it isn’t you. Therefore, the union is a voice that we are afforded to have. You say that the union is only going to maintain the status quo, but have you personally been in any meetings between the Board of Ed and HCEA representatives? These meetings allow teachers a voice to make recommendations to improve our school system. The union fights complacency of teachers and students; and this county will be in trouble the moment teachers stop fighting.

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          • Porter says

            @IT’S ALL IN THE NUMBERS & RYAN BURBREY

            For the record Teacher’s Unions are the corrupt extortionists, not teachers. In fact there are HCPS teachers who disagree with HCEA.

            Let me state emphatically that Teacher’s Unions DO NOT represent students, parents or taxpayers; learn it, live it and stop lying to people by attempting to portray Teacher’s Unions as benevolent and benign entities that have everyone’s interests at heart.

            Teacher’s Unions are about unchecked power, money and abuse of students, parents and taxpayers.

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          • Phil Dirt says

            I find it hilarious that Ryan says, “I never have stated that each year we need more and more $$$” and then the rest of the paragraph details how he thinks Harford underfunds schools and how they should “fund schools on a level which maintains relative competiveness with other highly successful districts within the state”.

            Uh, doesn’t that mean you think they need more money each year (“more and more $$$”)?

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          • It's all in the numbers says

            @ Porter: Can you please give specific examples where HCEA has “abused” students, parents, and taxpayers?

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          • Porter says

            @IT’S ALL IN THE NUMBERS

            Teacher’s Unions abuse students, parents and taxpayers by maintaining the status quo of a moribund and bankrupt public education system. They are not part of the solution to our public schools they ARE the problem.

            And if you are confused by the word “abuse” see Merriam Webster’s first definition online – “a corrupt practice or custom”.

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      • Ryan Burbey says

        No he can’t. It just hasn’t happened. His argument is rooted in demonizing unions and misinforming the public.

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  9. says

    From Thomas Jefferson

    “Taxes should be continued by annual or biennial reen­actments, because a constant hold, by the nation, of the strings of the public purse is a salutary restraint from which an honest government ought not wish, nor a cor­rupt one to be permitted, to be free. … We must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our election between economy and liberty, or profusion and servitude…. The multiplication of public offices, increase of expense beyond income, growth and entailment of a public debt, are indications soliciting the employment of the pruning knife.” Thomas Jefferson

    This should be considered when we hear what will pass for “debate” in the upcoming budget battles. If we the people (society at large) had more understanding America’s founding principles, the discussions surrounding the ratification of the Constitution & the words of our Founding Fathers, we would elect a much higher quality of representative & would thus have fewer problems. We should demand no less of those we elect to represent us. We must spread the word…..

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    • Ryan Burbey says

      Rather than cherry pick quotes which serve your purpose, why not try reading “Notes on the State of Virginia”. In this text, Jefferson delineates the need for publicly funded schools. He also advocates for public funding of college education for those with the aptitude.
      Debt is a double edged sword. You can approach debt from the perspective that you must perpetually cut spending even when it flies in the face of ethics, federal mandates, and simple common sense. However, you can also approach debt from the perspective that the populace must fund the programs which the community requires without incurring debt. This would require that all constituents, including business and land owners, pay their fair share and that politicians have the courage to generate the necessary funds through taxes.
      The argument over publicly funding schools is not a new one. Both Jefferson and Mann faced staunch opposition. You will never guess from where…wealthy land owners and businessmen, who would rather keep the people as a whole ignorant and uneducated.
      I am quite familiar with the principles upon which our nation was founded. I have read Jefferson, Locke and Rouseau. I have studied both the development of our constitution and the various amendments. Quite frankly, making the argument that our government should remain static over time is akin to suggesting we use an slide rule to do calculous or that we travel about in horse and buggies rather than cars. Jefferson cringes in his grave every time some one misappropriates his words in this kind of disingenuous fashion. What has made the American democracy successful is its ability to change, making compromises between competing viewpoints.
      Should government become leaner and more efficient, certainly. Should we slash and burn all programs to cut taxes no. I believe the truth is that we should both improve the efficiency of government and increase funding. Similarly, we should accelerate our payment of long-term debt to “save” funds. Likewise, we should prioritize our expenditures but what should take the priority over educating our children and preparing them for a successful future?

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      • Burb- tastic TJ says

        Another object of the revisal is, to diffuse knowledge more

        -272-

        generally through the mass of the people. This bill proposes to lay off every county into small districts of five or six miles square, called hundreds, and in each of them to establish a school for teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic. The tutor to be supported by the hundred, and every person in it entitled to send their children three years gratis, and as much longer as they please, paying for it. These schools to be under a visitor, who is annually to chuse the boy, of best genius in the school, of those whose parents are too poor to give them further education, and to send him forward to one of the grammar schools, of which twenty are proposed to be erected in different parts of the country, for teaching Greek, Latin, geography, and the higher branches of numerical arithmetic. Of the boys thus sent in any one year, trial is to be made at the grammar schools one or two years, and the best genius of the whole selected, and continued six years, and the residue dismissed. By this means twenty of the best geniusses will be raked from the rubbish annually, and be instructed, at the public expence, so far as the grammer schools go. At the end of six years instruction, one half are to be discontinued (from among whom the grammar schools will probably be supplied with future masters); and the other half, who are to be chosen for the superiority of their parts and disposition, are to be sent and continued three years in the study of such sciences as they shall chuse, at William and Mary college, the plan of which is proposed to be enlarged, as will be hereafter explained, and extended to all the useful sciences. The ultimate result of the whole scheme of education would be the teaching all the children of the state reading, writing, and common arithmetic: turning out ten annually of superior genius, well taught in Greek, Latin, geography, and the higher branches of arithmetic: turning out ten others annually, of still superior parts, who, to those branches of learning, shall have added such of the sciences as their genius shall have led them to: the furnishing to the wealthier part of the people convenient schools, at which their children may be educated, at their own expence. — The general objects of this law are to provide an education adapted to the years, to the capacity, and the condition of every one, and directed to their freedom and happiness. Specific details were not proper for the law. These

        -273-

        must be the business of the visitors entrusted with its execution. The first stage of this education being the schools of the hundreds, wherein the great mass of the people will receive their instruction, the principal foundations of future order will be laid here. Instead therefore of putting the Bible and Testament into the hands of the children, at an age when their judgments are not sufficiently matured for religious enquiries, their memories may here be stored with the most useful facts from Grecian, Roman, European and American history. The first elements of morality too may be instilled into their minds; such as, when further developed as their judgments advance in strength, may teach them how to work out their own greatest happiness, by shewing them that it does not depend on the condition of life in which chance has placed them, but is always the result of a good conscience, good health, occupation, and freedom in all just pursuits. — Those whom either the wealth of their parents or the adoption of the state shall destine to higher degrees of learning, will go on to the grammar schools, which constitute the next stage, there to be instructed in the languages. The learning Greek and Latin, I am told, is going into disuse in Europe. I know not what their manners and occupations may call for: but it would be very ill-judged in us to follow their example in this instance. There is a certain period of life, say from eight to fifteen or sixteen years of age, when the mind, like the body, is not yet firm enough for laborious and close operations. If applied to such, it falls an early victim to premature exertion; exhibiting indeed at first, in these young and tender subjects, the flattering appearance of their being men while they are yet children, but ending in reducing them to be children when they should be men. The memory is then most susceptible and tenacious of impressions; and the learning of languages being chiefly a work of memory, it seems precisely fitted to the powers of this period, which is long enough too for acquiring the most useful languages antient and modern. I do not pretend that language is science. It is only an instrument for the attainment of science. But that time is not lost which is employed in providing tools for future operation: more especially as in this case the books put into the hands of the youth for this purpose may be such as will at the same

        -274-

        time impress their minds with useful facts and good principles. If this period be suffered to pass in idleness, the mind becomes lethargic and impotent, as would the body it inhabits if unexercised during the same time. The sympathy between body and mind during their rise, progress and decline, is too strict and obvious to endanger our being misled while we reason from the one to the other. — As soon as they are of sufficient age, it is supposed they will be sent on from the grammar schools to the university, which constitutes our third and last stage, there to study those sciences which may be adapted to their views. — By that part of our plan which prescribes the selection of the youths of genius from among the classes of the poor, we hope to avail the state of those talents which nature has sown as liberally among the poor as the rich, but which perish without use, if not sought for and cultivated. — But of all the views of this law none is more important, none more legitimate, than that of rendering the people the safe, as they are the ultimate, guardians of their own liberty. For this purpose the reading in the first stage, where they will receive their whole education, is proposed, as has been said, to be chiefly historical. History by apprising them of the past will enable them to judge of the future; it will avail them of the experience of other times and other nations; it will qualify them as judges of the actions and designs of men; it will enable them to know ambition under every disguise it may assume; and knowing it, to defeat its views. In every government on earth is some trace of human weakness, some germ of corruption and degeneracy, which cunning will discover, and wickedness insensibly open, cultivate, and improve. Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves therefore are its only safe depositories. And to render even them safe their minds must be improved to a certain degree. This indeed is not all that is necessary, though it be essentially necessary. An amendment of our constitution must here come in aid of the public education. The influence over government must be shared among all the people. If every individual which composes their mass participates of the ultimate authority, the government will be safe; because the corrupting the whole mass will exceed any private resources of

        -275-

        wealth: and public ones cannot be provided but by levies on the people. In this case every man would have to pay his own price. The government of Great-Britain has been corrupted, because but one man in ten has a right to vote for members of parliament. The sellers of the government therefore get nine-tenths of their price clear. It has been thought that corruption is restrained by confining the right of suffrage to a few of the wealthier of the people: but it would be more effectually restrained by an extension of that right to such numbers as would bid defiance to the means of corruption.
        Lastly, it is proposed, by a bill in this revisal, to begin a public library and gallery, by laying out a certain sum annually in books, paintings, and statues.

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  10. Ryan Burbey says

    Below is an excerpt from Jefferson. Please take note of the last line. A link to the entire text is also provided.

    Another object of the revisal is, to diffuse knowledge more generally through the mass of the people. This bill proposes to lay off every county into small districts of five or six miles square, called hundreds, and in each of them to establish a school for teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic. The tutor to be supported by the hundred, and every person in it entitled to send their children three years gratis, and as much longer as they please, paying for it. These schools to be under a visitor, who is annually to chuse the boy, of best genius in the school, of those whose parents are too poor to give them further education, and to send him forward to one of the grammar schools, of which twenty are proposed to be erected in different parts of the country, for teaching Greek, Latin, geography, and the higher branches of numerical arithmetic. Of the boys thus sent in any one year, trial is to be made at the grammar schools one or two years, and the best genius of the whole selected, and continued six years, and the residue dismissed. By this means twenty of the best geniusses will be raked from the rubbish annually, and be instructed, at the public expence, so far as the grammer schools go. At the end of six years instruction, one half are to be discontinued (from among whom the grammar schools will probably be supplied with future masters); and the other half, who are to be chosen for the superiority of their parts and disposition, are to be sent and continued three years in the study of such sciences as they shall chuse, at William and Mary college, the plan of which is proposed to be enlarged, as will be hereafter explained, and extended to all the useful sciences. The ultimate result of the whole scheme of education would be the teaching all the children of the state reading, writing, and common arithmetic: turning out ten annually of superior genius, well taught in Greek, Latin, geography, and the higher branches of arithmetic: turning out ten others annually, of still superior parts, who, to those branches of learning, shall have added such of the sciences as their genius shall have led them to: the furnishing to the wealthier part of the people convenient schools, at which their children may be educated, at their own expence. — The general objects of this law are to provide an education adapted to the years, to the capacity, and the condition of every one, and directed to their freedom and happiness. Specific details were not proper for the law. These must be the business of the visitors entrusted with its execution. The first stage of this education being the schools of the hundreds, wherein the great mass of the people will receive their instruction, the principal foundations of future order will be laid here. Instead therefore of putting the Bible and Testament into the hands of the children, at an age when their judgments are not sufficiently matured for religious enquiries, their memories may here be stored with the most useful facts from Grecian, Roman, European and American history. such as, when further developed as their judgments advance in strength, may teach them how to work out their own greatest happiness, by shewing them that it does not depend on the condition of life in which chance has placed them, but is always the result of a good conscience, good health, occupation, and freedom in all just pursuits. — Those whom either the wealth of their parents or the adoption of the state shall destine to higher degrees of learning, will go on to the grammar schools, which constitute the next stage, there to be instructed in the languages. The learning Greek and Latin, I am told, is going into disuse in Europe. I know not what their manners and occupations may call for: but it would be very ill-judged in us to follow their example in this instance. There is a certain period of life, say from eight to fifteen or sixteen years of age, when the mind, like the body, is not yet firm enough for laborious and close operations. If applied to such, it falls an early victim to premature exertion; exhibiting indeed at first, in these young and tender subjects, the flattering appearance of their being men while they are yet children, but ending in reducing them to be children when they should be men. The memory is then most susceptible and tenacious of impressions; and the learning of languages being chiefly a work of memory, it seems precisely fitted to the powers of this period, which is long enough too for acquiring the most useful languages antient and modern. I do not pretend that language is science. It is only an instrument for the attainment of science. But that time is not lost which is employed in providing tools for future operation: more especially as in this case the books put into the hands of the youth for this purpose may be such as will at the same time impress their minds with useful facts and good principles. If this period be suffered to pass in idleness, the mind becomes lethargic and impotent, as would the body it inhabits if unexercised during the same time. The sympathy between body and mind during their rise, progress and decline, is too strict and obvious to endanger our being misled while we reason from the one to the other. — As soon as they are of sufficient age, it is supposed they will be sent on from the grammar schools to the university, which constitutes our third and last stage, there to study those sciences which may be adapted to their views. — By that part of our plan which prescribes the selection of the youths of genius from among the classes of the poor, we hope to avail the state of those talents which nature has sown as liberally among the poor as the rich, but which perish without use, if not sought for and cultivated. — But of all the views of this law none is more important, none more legitimate, than that of rendering the people the safe, as they are the ultimate, guardians of their own liberty. For this purpose the reading in the first stage, where _they_ will receive their whole education, is proposed, as has been said, to be chiefly historical. History by apprising them of the past will enable them to judge of the future; it will avail them of the experience of other times and other nations; it will qualify them as judges of the actions and designs of men; it will enable them to know ambition under every disguise it may assume; and knowing it, to defeat its views.

    http://xroads.virginia.edu/~hyper/jefferson/ch14.html

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      • Ryan Burbey says

        I was musing on the lack commentary on Jefferson’s actual words in context. I find that largely, people like to quote out of context to support their arguments and buttress their unsubstantiated opinions.
        Quoting Jefferson is wonderful. However, in his time, Jefferson was a “Big Government” liberal. He realized that there were services and functions which could only be provided by government. He also realized that governmental practices and policies could serve to increase liberty and create an egalitarian state. More than anything else, he knew that the only way for our democracy to thrive was to properly educate our children at the public expense.

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  11. Burb- tastic TJ says

    Three years of school- then 10 kids per colony go on to higher education.

    This is significantly different than the burb-tastic ideology of Teachers unions, an education budget that sucks up more than 50% of a budget, and teachers bitching over being paid too little.

    Where did TJ advocate that?

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    • Ryan Burbey says

      So you’re saying our kids should only go to school for three years?
      Or are you saying that only ten students in MD should go to college?

      You are making my point for me. As a society evolves, so too, must its practices and its policies. No democracy is static.

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      • Burb- tastic TJ says

        Also, no Republic is stagnant.

        But this doesn’t make your points valid. Big government is destructive to freedom.

        I’m curious if you believe that there is anything that Government is unqualified to do.

        Do you feel that there is anything that government should be kept from?

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        • Ryan Burbey says

          First, government does not do anything. Government is function of the people.
          Second, big is a relative term. I am big compared to my infant son but not compared to Shaq.
          I am not arguing for “Big Government”. I am arguing for properly funded and maintained schools. I am arguing for better opportunities for the children of Harford County and yes, I am arguing for abiding by a negotiated salary scale for teachers.
          Surprisingly, I agree that government should not be intrusive but without rules, there is no republic.
          I don’t think government should tell us what to think, or read or what to generally do with our life. I don’t think government should tell us how to worship or raise our children or what pets we should have or how long our grass should be or what color our house should be.
          However, I do believe that government should assist the needy, promote liberty and support our schools. To do that, government must collect taxes. Where there is legitimate waste in our government or inefficiency we should reform and change but we should not try to arbitrate spending and educational programs from an outside uninformed perspective. We should not increase the suffering of the poor or limit the potential of children by defunding valuable, productive programs, so that, wealthy property owners or businesses pay less taxes. I pay my share of property taxes. An increase in property taxes will affect me too. I just realize that in order for our community to grow and to prosper =, we must invest in our children.

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  12. Ryan Burbey says

    Of course things change…It has been over two hundred years.

    The quote below clearly demonstrate Jefferson’s intention to tax those with more at a higher rate.

    I should estimate the whole taxable property of this state at an hundred millions of dollars, or thirty millions of pounds our money. One per cent on this, compared with any thing we ever yet paid, would be deemed a very heavy tao. Yet I think that those who manage well, and use reasonable ;oeconomy, could pay one and a half per cent, and maintain their houshould comfortably in the mean time, without aliening any part of their principal, and that the people would submit to this willingly for the purpose of supporting their present contest.

    http://etext.virginia.edu/etcbin/toccer-new2?id=JefVirg.sgm&images=images/modeng&data=/texts/english/modeng/parsed&tag=public&part=22&division=div1

    Likewise, the following quote demonstrates Jefferson’s acknowledgement that as value increases so should revenue.

    The value of our lands and slaves, taken conjunctly, doubles in about twenty years. This arises from the multiplication of our slaves, from the extension of culture, and increased demand for lands. The amount of what may be raised will of course rise in the same proportion.

    Please not the other change over the course of the last two hundred years. We don’t have slaves. We all have the right to be paid a fair wage.

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  13. B says

    Lets call this what it is, Ryan wants a raise. Throwing more money at a kid that is not motivated to learn isn’t going to get better results. Getting rid of the poorer teachers that the union protects at the expense of our kids, and replacing them with good teachers, would help improve our system right away.
    I had lots of good teachers, and many that could have cared less. Maybe you should look at your own ranks to improve before you spend more of my money.

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    • Ryan Burbey says

      Who doesn’t want a raise? However, that is not why I wrote the article or why I am fighting for increased funding for education. I am fighting for my kids and for better schools for all children in Harford County. The union does not protect poor teachers. The union enforces procedural safeguards and protects teachers against unfair attacks. If the system or a principal wants to “get rid” of a teacher there is a process. Looking to the ranks for teacher who “could have cared less” is the responsibility of administration not teachers and certainly not the union. Similarly, developing teacher professionally and providing proper supports, as well as, technology is the responsibility of administration.
      Coincidentally, there are many studies which show that paying kids for grades improve performance. I don’t personally agree with this but to reduce the funding problem in Harford County to throwing money at kids is simplistic. Similarly, why would any “good” teacher want to come to a county that does not respect its contract, surreptitiously impose a two year salary freeze and where teachers are constantly maligned publicly by community members for no particular reason.
      Lastly, I don’t spend anyone’s money but my own hard-earned paycheck. Neither I nor any other teacher in Harford County has any say over how money is spent. We don’t set policy and we don’t determine funding priorities. Perhaps, schools would be better if this were the case. To quote Bill Parcels, “If you want me to cook the dinner, you have to let me shop for the groceries!!!”
      Believe me, if this were just about a raise for me, or personal gain, I would not be going to all this trouble.

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      • Porter says

        @RYAN BURBEY

        Come on Ryan you’re all about throwing more money at HCPS foolishly thinking that it improve things. You want to perpetuate a salary comparison arms race with other school districts assuring financial ruin for Harford County taxpayers.

        You live in liberal/progressive fantasy world where other people’s more is easily spent to enrich the entrenched special interests.

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        • Ryan Burbey says

          If Harford County were in a “salary arms race” with other counties, they long ago would have lost. Do the math and the research. Harford County must increase revenue. Harford County must increase school funding. We choose to continue the irresponsible underfunding of our schools at the peril of all the residents of Harford County.

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          • Porter says

            @RYAN BURBEY

            You miss the point the salary “arms race” assures that salaries continue to rise not because of demand in the marketplace or performance but because of the continued comparison of teacher salaries to salaries of teachers in other districts. It is a recipe for disaster for students, parents and taxpayers and at some point taxpayers run out of money and we’ve already run out of patience.

            Ryan as an aside, can you say empirically and honestly that taxpayers are getting the best return on the money they spend on HCPS?

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        • Ryan Burbey says

          By the way, its my money and many of the other HCPS employees money, as well, I pay taxes and so do all the other teachers who live in this county.

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          • Porter says

            @RYAN BURBEY

            If you own real estate you likely do pay some property taxes, but you stand to gain more in salary than any amount of increase in your property taxes if you got what you wanted.

            It is very sad but you are either disingenuous or inattentionally blind.

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  14. Porter says

    What’s bothered me most about “Burbey: What Do Great Schools Cost?” is that it posits a self-serving question instead of asking an honest question as a challenge asking for example how do you get great schools, but no Mr. Burbrey starts from the position that schools are underfunded and we must start with spending more money.

    Much to my dismay the illustrious Mr. Burbrey offers nothing in the way of recommendations on how to achieve great schools and spend less taxpayer money.

    I ask you Mr. Burbrey what would you recommend if HCPS had to reduce it’s budget by 10% in 2012? Or is it impossible to have “Great Schools” with less taxpayer money to spend?

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    • Ryan Burbey says

      If the school system budget were cut by 10% it would create severe austerity for both students and teachers. It is as simple as that.

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      • Porter says

        @RYAN BURBEY

        Here is the question once again “I ask you Mr. Burbrey what would you recommend if HCPS had to reduce it’s budget by 10% in 2012? Or is it impossible to have “Great Schools” with less taxpayer money to spend?”.

        Maybe you could attempt answering it?

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        • Ryan Burbey says

          Due to the long-term underfunding and the problems created by this there is no good answer.

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          • Porter says

            @RYAN BURBEY

            Your only answers are spend more money, throw more money at the problem and only if we had more money we could do better.

            I believe that you Ryan have no clue about what to do about HCPS other than of course spend more taxpayer money.

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  15. Francis says

    Ryan, I’m curious – You assert that more money would equal better schools. I assume you mean better student performance. Can you be more specific? If you were in charge and given the money, how would you spend it to improve student performance?

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    • Ryan Burbey says

      If I were given the money to improve schools, besides the obvious funding of teachers’ salary scale, which by the way is no where near on par with other counties; I would first reduce class sizes for special ed, at-risk and low performing students. I would then institute full-day pre-school and kindergarten programs. I would purchase technology for both instruction and and student use. Likewise, I would create programs for early introduction of technology. I would fix or replace the aging buildings where the roofs leak and the heat doesn’t work. I think that would be a start…but the truth is I most likely won’t get that opportunity. I have most likely closed those doors by fighting for teachers’ rights and students’ rights.
      If you think of me as some self-serving blow-hard you are quite mistake. Likewise, if you think this is just about teachers’ salaries or my salary you are wrong. So, when people disparage my intentions, they should really consider the sacrifice I have made and am voluntarily making. I don’t put some witty pseudonym on my comments. I put my name. Agree or disagree, I act with integrity and am in no way disingenuous.

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      • Porter says

        @RYAN BURBREY Working as a representative of HCEA forecloses your ability to for both “teachers’ rights and students’ rights” you can only work for HCEA’s interests. Your claim of working for both is in fact disingenuous.

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  16. joe says

    Ryan it looks like the tea party wants us to become one of these states.

    Schools without binding teachers contracts:

    Average Rank Across 4 NAEP Tests
    Next to each state is its average rank

    Virginia……. 16.6
    Texas……… 27.3
    N. Carolina.. 27.5
    Georgia…….36.8
    Arkansas…..38.9
    S. Carolina…38.9
    Arizona……..43.3
    Alabama……45.5
    Louisiana…..47.8
    Mississippi…48.6

    Only Virginia is above average median in rank.

    source:
    http://voices.washingtonpost.com/answer-sheet/guest-bloggers/how-states-with-no-teacher-uni.html

    also a Harvard Review Study here:
    http://her.hepg.org/content/w17t1201442683k6/

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  17. says

    Your motivation is now apparent. You are seeking an increase to the Board of Education budget to obtain your own pay raise. All the while, promising Harford County residents, among other benefits, that their children’s schools will be much better and that their children will be even more successful when get your raise.

    By your logic people would be flocking to Howard County to pay more in taxes to support better schools, while living in overpriced housing and missing the pristine views offered in other areas. Howard County would be only a temporary stop, however, as next year, some other County might be the number one school in the State and people would move there.

    A bit more rational thought might lead to a conclusion that of all the many factors people consider when selecting an area to live, in the primary factor working people choose to live in a geographic area is because that is where they work. Within that geographic area people consider other factors, one of which might be schools, but more importantly affordability. The law of supply and demand is a factor in the cost of housing in an area, and is a pricing consideration, but in no way dominates the pricing structure of the housing market. Housing prices are a function of material and labor costs and market pricing considerations. Houses in Howard County cost more because builders and sellers have determined that they can get more for them, either because of exclusivity, location or the willingness of buyers to pay more. When people are willing to pay more, the market adjusts accordingly.

    This function of the market excludes people who cannot afford the price of a home, and so tends to concentrate wealth in a defined area. Money spent on all government functions, like education, tends to be higher in these areas, because there is more money to spend. Howard County is therefore able to spend more because residents earn more, houses cost more and there are more people, and although tax rates may be lower than in Harford County the revenues associated with Howard County’s wealth are higher.

    The quality of schools in an area is an important, but not the overriding consideration, in which subdivision of the larger area people live within. The Department of Defense companies moving into Harford County are coming here to do business on Aberdeen Proving Ground, not because of the schools. They understand that in order to do business here they must have a presence here. That means their employees will be working and living here. Those employees have a choice, they can live in Harford County, Pennsylvania, Cecil County, Baltimore County or Delaware, commute from their current residence, and even in Howard County or find other employment. Their choices are driven by economics. If taxes are too high, or housing prices are too high, or the commute costs too much they may not be moving to Harford County, regardless of the schools. It will be interesting to see whether they are willing to move to Howard County for higher taxes, over priced houses, terrible views, long commutes, but, as you say, much better schools.

    Your request for a pay raise, although not unusual, might be better considered in light of current events. On a global level governments and citizens of many countries have simultaneously hit the reset button. Financial and cultural upheavals are creating major difficulties. World markets are upset daily. The effect on America is now being reflected in rising gasoline prices, reduced exports, and unemployment. At the national level, America is still struggling with a sluggish economy, that while showing some signs of recovery, does not provide enough jobs. At the State level governors across the country are cutting budgets, cutting employee benefits and laying off employees. Maryland is struggling with its own unemployment and budget shortfalls. The consequence of all of this is that tax revenues from all taxes, fees and other charges are drastically reduced and there is not enough real money for government expenditures. There is no better example of this then the 2012 Board of Education bill for education services. The Federal contribution to Harford County was reduced by about $10,000,000. The State flat lined their contribution at about $199,663,261. Why did these entities, which have for years spent large sums of money, reduce their contributions? Because there is no money. As a point of interest, you should review HB 44, HB 26 and SB 6 in the Maryland General Assembly. Whether these bills are passed or not they provide an insight into how serious Maryland’s financial situation is, and some of the plans to recover.

    At the County and Municipal level, the 7% unemployment rate has reduced Income Tax revenues to levels not seen since about 2008. The effect of the general economy on the real estate market has reduced property assessments and will consequently reduce Property Tax revenues. You may have observed the effect of the economy in your school, as evidenced by the increasing number of students who are using the free breakfast and lunch program. Simply raising the Property Tax Rate back to previous levels will not provide sufficient funds to give you the pay raise for better schools, because in addition to reducing contributions to education, the State of Maryland has withheld funding in other account and has shifted more State costs back to the County, thereby reducing available funds. You may be aware that the County Executive has requested that all departments withhold 3% of their 2011 budget. I would guess that he did this because he believes that he may not have sufficient funds to complete the budget year.

    The bill presented to Harford County for education from HCPS and the Board of Education is no better this year than last years budget. Last year in an attempt to rein in spending and flat line the budget, HCPS and the Board of Education proposed that employees pay for the efficiencies with a 2% reduction in salaries across the board. This years bill proposes to increase spending by about $24,000,000 to provide a pay increase, paid for entirely by Harford County residents, since the State has not increased their contribution and the Federal government has reduced theirs. This years total bill from the Board of Education is about $473,726,647. Harford County’s contribution to the budget is about $237,000,000. In spite of a desire to diminish the significance of the State and Federal budget, without those contributions the Board of Education would have to reduce expenditures or Harford County would have to raise taxes. The Property Tax rate required to meet the total budget would be $1.98 cents per hundred dollars of assessed value. The Property Tax rate required to meet only the County’s contribution would be about $1.14 per hundred dollars of assessed value. Higher than the Property Tax Rate of 2005.

    By contrast the 2011 Operating Budget for Harford County was about $580, 396,381. The general fund budget, which included funding for debt service on school construction and the Board of Education budget, was $464,504,275.

    Why is this important? 3 reasons. First the State is reducing their contribution to education. They have reduced their contribution to school construction, they flat lined their contribution to the current expense budget, and all indications are that they will be shifting employee pension costs back to Maryland’s Counties. Second, Maryland funding formulas are inversely proportional to the wealth of the County. As Harford County wealth increases, Maryland will decrease its contribution. Finally, the Board of Education for education will increase every year. Projecting out to the future Harford County will pay increasingly more for education as both the State and Federal contributions are withdrawn, withheld of reduced. Over the last 10 years the Board of Education budget has increased by about $120,000,000. In today’s financial environment, that means that to meet Board of Education funding requirements, the Property Tax rate will have to increase annually.

    The question is not what great schools cost. The issue distills to this. Harford County residents are promised, better schools, more opportunity for their children, higher property values, and greater prosperity. Its children are held hostage by those promises. The ransom demanded is a pay raise for teachers. The question really is this. If Harford County does provide a pay raise, do we get new teachers who are better or do the teachers we have simply perform better in the jobs they were hired for ?

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  18. Ryan Burbey says

    My argument is as it clearly states. Harford County Schools are and have been underfunded. Yes, increasing funding would provide for re-instituion of salary steps which should never have been taken and which are key to attracting quality new teachers. Yes, I would benefit from a salary step increase. However, that is not my primary motivation. I see education as the only viable answer to our current economic woes. We must educate students to compete in the 21st century. It is a costly enterprise. However, please stop calling teacher salary steps as “raises”. They are not. Stop demonizing teachers. Come down from your ivory tower and take a good look at some of the schools. Take a good look at the curricular standards which require technology that we lack an adequate supply. Again, I don’t make the choices of how to spend the money. I don’t set the policy. If you truly feel money is being wasted do the requisite research to support your argument.

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    • Porter says

      @RYAN BURBEY Certainly quality schools impact residential real estate values, but spending more taxpayer money doesn’t necessarily result in better schools. Your conflation of the two is once again disingenuous.

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  19. frankly speaking says

    I am sure that “Joan Ryder” doesn’t work for free either. Does she cut her rate down to allow her sellers to have some $$$ at the end of the real estate sale? Now, to ask teachers and harford county employees to shoulder the burden of balancing the county’s revenues with expenses while cutting property tax rates the last couple of years is a bit dissengenious. Now, how is that not self-serving to complain about govt expenses and taxes, but expect quality services and care from the peopole that provide it for you. Be it emergency, prison, judicial, water and sewer…tell me of a service being provided that is somehow defficient to our citizens that you would like to see cut in order to reduce your property tax bill by a whole $5.00 per month? To demonize teachers, county employees and people that serve the public on demand is a product of the right wing/tea party mantra that govt is bad, taxes are bad and govt is not needed.

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    • Porter says

      @FRANKLY SPEAKING

      Joan Ryder:

      1. Only gets paid if she performs successfully as a realtor.
      2. She is in a free market where she has to compete for business.
      3. Her commission rates are negotiable.

      HCPS is a government-run captive market with no real competition.

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      • frankly speaking says

        private vs. govt, you are comparing apples to oranges. The point was that Joan Ryder gets paid for what she does and we all deserve to get paid what we are worth. Teachers and county employees are now everyone’s favorite punching bag due to the free market Wall Stree geniusses creating mortgages for people that could fog mirrows and had no money to pay…

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  20. I Left says

    Ryan,

    It’s not worth arguing with some of these folks. They will continue to simply change the focus of the debate every time they are presented with information they can’t refute.

    An interesting note about the value of being competitive–I graduated from Towson with a group of 7 friends who were all Secondary Education majors. We all graduated with honors. Most of us received awards on the Praxis 2 subject exam. Most of us have gone on to receive awards and recognition for our teaching. We were dubbed “the golden generation” by the chair of the Towson education department. Two of the members of this group were from Harford County. They immediately sought employment with HCPS. The rest of us had no intention of doing so, due to the fact that, at the time, HCPS was in the bottom tier of teacher pay for Maryland. That was right around the time HCPS implemented a 2-year, 7% raise for teachers to become more competitive. Of the group of 7,four more of us applied and secured employment with HCPS.

    In the last two years, two members of the group left for other counties in Maryland, three of us left for different states, and one left teaching altogether. When a county is competitive, it will attract the top graduates. When it decides that it doesn’t want to “compete” with other counties, it will lose those top graduates to those counties.

    There is money to be saved in education, but it shouldn’t be plucked from the wallets of teachers. Incidentally, I find it hilarious that, in times of economic boom, teachers are told that they should have gone into the private sector if they wanted to make that kind of money. In times of economic bust, teachers are told that they are no different from the private sector. Funny how that works, isn’t it?

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    • It's all in the numbers says

      You are exactly right. Teachers entered their contracted positions with the assurance that their salary would be slowly and steadily increased each year for their continued service. Had we wanted the “get rich quick” method of payment, we could have entered the private sector with our hard earned skills. When the economy was booming, we teachers were fine with our agreed upon pay scale, while others in the private sector were earning raises and bonuses. We never entered the profession to rake in the dough, but the benefits and slow but steady increasing pay were a big perk. However, now that the economy has gone south, the private sector can’t afford those big bonuses anymore, and therefore, don’t feel the teachers should get their contracted step increases (or “raises” as the general public seem to view them) either. Most teachers do not feel that they are special and should receive special treatment. We just want the Board of Education to abide by the contracts that were signed by its employees upon joining the HCPS ranks.

      Didn’t we learn as children that slow and steady win the race?

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  21. Porter says

    @I LEFT You can’t say HCPS is well run, you can’t say public schools are well run and you can’t say Teacher’s Union are NOT problem.

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    • I Left says

      Funny,

      I only said one of those things, Porter. I never claimed that HCPS is well run. I never said that public schools are well run (unlike you, I’m not prone to uninformed, blanket statements). I only said that the teachers and their union aren’t to blame.

      You, presumably due to your preference to swallow whatever talking-points hard-right Republicans tell you to swallow, seem to think that the HCEA is some all-powerful force ruining the school. It’s not. As far as unions go, the HCEA is fairly impotent. How powerful can a union be when it is completely unable to stop multiple years of step and COLA freezes AND an un-negotiated change in health care? How much possible damage can a union do in Harford County when it routinely failed to stop these things from happening?

      I DO think plenty of things are wrong in HCPS. The vast majority of those problems (and the majority of the fiscal waste) are in central administration. Funny how nobody wants to look too closely at those issues. That would require real thinking rather than spouting off a set of talking points.

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      • Porter says

        @I LEFT And once again I’ll state “You can’t say HCPS is well run, you can’t say public schools are well run and you can’t say Teacher’s Unions are NOT the problem.”

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        • I Left says

          Porter- I didn’t, I didn’t, and I did. You have yet to explain how the union is to blame for any of the problems in HCPS. I shouldn’t be shocked. This is your MO. You parrot the talking points, someone presents you with facts, and then you parrot the talking points again. How is the HCEA to blame for any of HCPS’ deficiencies? How much damage could a union do when it couldn’t stop ANY of the slashes to its member’s pay over the last four years?

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  22. Ryan Burbey says

    Thank you for your support. I am sorry that the children of Harford County lost you as an educator.

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    • I Left says

      Ryan,

      The scary thing is that I wasn’t the most talented in that group. Not by a long shot. The REALLY scary thing is that the woman who WAS the most talented in the group is the one who is out of teaching altogether. Five years of HCPS soured her on the entire profession. That’s how bad the disrespect, lowered standards for students and public vitriol has gotten.

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  23. says

    In over 30 years as a real estate broker, I have cut my commission, given money back to the sellers and worked for FREE more times than I can count! I adjust to the situation whenever it is necessary keeping in mind that the client’s needs have to be fulfilled. That is what I enjoy about being a real estate broker with only having to ask myself what to do in certain times to make the transaction work for the people. Do I like it…No..noone likes to put in ninety days of hard work and not get paid. In addition, I have to pay my own retirement, my own vacation, my own sick leave, my own health care and that of all my employees.

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    • frankly speaking says

      joan-the free market determines what you make. In govt, the free market is irrelevant and govt employees are at the whim of politicians, administration and their own priorities on what to spend the taxpayer money. The county has the funds to pay employees but chooses to not do so because of the current climate in which govt workers are now at fault somehow for the decisions made by those elected. HCPS as well as HCG have not made a priority to pay their employees…

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  24. PTAMom says

    Oh how our children in Maryland public schools need help from Maryland voters!

    The heavy blanket of politicized decisions that Maryland Governors and State Legislatures in Annapolis have forced onto our county schools through funding carrots and sticks is heartbreaking.

    Why is it ok to diminish the educational potential of our children in Maryland public schools in order to further the political careers of a few?

    We have many teachers, principals, parents, students and staff working their hearts out for our children in public schools. Many middle class parents compensate, but many disadvantaged students who need the public schools the most have their future educational potential devastated by these politicized decisions.

    Examples?
    1. Yes, the teachers’ union does have skin in the game of what is weighing down our children’s educational potential.
    When you cannot fire completely ineffective teachers, (i.e. ones that do not stay physically present in the classroom during their contract mandated five 47 minute periods as in leave classes unattended for 20 minutes at a time, ones who give GT students answers to county assessment exams because they ran out of time and did not cover the material, etc. etc…the teachers who are notorious over years of complaints) all of the other teachers, parents, students, and administrators suffer. There is no minimum standard for teachers and administrators and the “russian roulette education” that especially disadvantaged kids (whose parents can not or don’t know how to compensate for) need to navigate must be at least partially responsible for the achievement gap.

    Even a group of GT upper middle class kids could not all recover in spite of high priced tutoring, etc, from 3 “horrible” math teachers in 3 years between the middle and high school.

    2. is it true as a Board of Ed candidate said that Maryland’s MSA tests are the 3rd easiest in the nation? and yet still many children are not able to pass them? are our public schools so weighed down by State politicized decisions that they can only go through the motions for the children who need them the most?

    The State Legislature mandated all day Kindergarten for all counties in 2001-2 … to be in effect by 2007 …the millions in costs in buildings (built under prevailing wage (union) rules), the cost in additional teachers/pensions/benefits, the equivalent of 80 new classrooms in Howard County alone … and now that apparently wasn’t enough because the push for Universal Pre-K is the latest must have. Why wasn’t all of that money spent on kids like the 80 kids at a local middle school who are below grade level in reading and math? If you are below grade level in reading and math on the 3rd easiest MSA test in the nation in 6th-8th grades… do you have any hope of succeeding in a job in your adult life??

    4. Race to the Top … our county’s portion (after the State takes $145 million of the $230 million over 4 years to build a student tracking system?) doesn’t even cover the costs of implementing the state’s new Race to the Top regulations. Instead of our Superintendent and high level education officials being able to attend to our schools, they are forced to write and rewrite plans to please the State legislature from whom they must “Beg” back 30% of the school’s operating budget. (When a school board member mentioned that the annual event where the county Board of Eds must go to the Governor and 2 others asking for school money …is call a “Beg a thon” … should our children have to “beg” for a good education?? My children will not beg for an education.

    5. The State Legislature in 2007 politicized the Algebra I curriculum for all Maryland 9th graders. (dropping 30 days of Algebra I out of a 180 day curriculum and replacing it with an easier “Data Analysis” piece; starting in June 2009 students who could not pass the Algebra High School Assessment could not receive a Maryland High School diploma; now students moving on to higher math are failing Algebra II and Pre-Calc in higher numbers due to the hole in their Algebra I fundation. Upper middle class parents who were dismayed at their children’s sudden apparent drop in mathematical abilities, researched it by tracking back through other kids in the class who was failing what parts of which tests before they stumbled onto the issue.

    A U of MD/College Park professor calls the Maryland Algebra I Curriculum “Pretend Algebra” and the HSA a “Pretend Algebra HSA”. All of this as Maryland is expecting a surge of math and science jobs from the Base Realignment (BRAC).

    6. there are many other examples and with the potential change in the definition of marriage in Maryland …. the political pressure on the public schools to promote gay/lesbian/transgendered lifestyles to create tolerance for different sexual lifestyles in grades K-12 has already started. Teachers can select Professional Development this March regarding Transgendered students. The state law mandated anti-bullying policies that each county school system must have are being updated this year to accomodate Facebook/cyberbullying and the new Gay,Lesbian,Transgendered issues… as required by the State?

    Our children suffer in spite of our best efforts when we allow our public schools to be used as a political playground to further the personal ambitions of elected officials.

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    • Crystal says

      PTAMOM,

      Burbrey would like us all to apologize for underfunding our schools and repent by giving HCPS more taxpayer money.

      We should respect Burbrey’s superior intellect, advanced education and self-righteousness for we are too stupid to know anything about educational funding and we are simply selfish taxpayers hoarding are vast wealth.

      Crystal

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      • Ryan Burbey says

        Crystal,

        I do not pretend to know any of you. I do not pretend to have a “superior intellect”. I am sorry if you feel I have condescended to you. I have tried to keep this an issue based argument. I have not resorted to name calling or insults. I don’t know about you or anyone else’s wealth. I just honestly feel that all taxpayers in Harford County should invest more in schools. I also believe that all taxpayers and residents of Harford County will benefit from this investment. I do have some inside information about schools and school needs. I have spent most of my adult life studying education and as an educator. I really am only trying to share what I know and believe in hopes that it will improve our schools.

        Ryan

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        • Crystal says

          Ryan,

          I don’t know you either, but I have read your one sided rants which are supremely condescending.

          You lack gravitas and respect for others. It is apparent that getting more money for teacher’s pay is most important to you and you dismiss all other options to improve our schools that do not write HCPS a taxpayer blank check.

          Crystal

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          • Ryan Burbey says

            I am sorry again. I have not nor do I mean to be condescending. I am open to reform and improved efficiency. However, the funding disparity can not be overcome with improved efficiency and reform alone. Coincidentally, some of the reforms which HCPS requires will actually increase costs.

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    • I Left says

      PTA Mom,

      Good parents and good teachers are generally looking for the same things, and I think you’ll find that most of your concerns have little to do with the unions.

      1- Bad teachers CAN be fired. There is a process in place. The reason it doesn’t happen is because, more often than not, administrators LIKE the bad teachers. An administrator’s job is generally to avoid making waves. Teachers with no/low standards, the ones who walk out of class for 20 minutes at a time, the ones who show movies and hand out A’s like they’re going out of style–Those teachers are popular. Parents LIKE seeing A’s on the report card, and the negative impact of those teachers won’t be seen for months if not years. As such, the administrators have no desire or incentive to remove them. Removing job protections would just make it easier for administrators to remove teachers with high standards who, while they may not be particularly popular (because they actually expect an A to signify “Excellence”) are far more effective. The focus needs to be on hiring administrators who care more about the education of the students than they do about making everyone happy. Incidentally, I used to work with a woman JUST like the one you mention. She taught two classes in my room, showed movies every day and was frequently out of the classroom doing God knows what. She was promoted to assistant principal the year that I left.

      2- You are absolutely correct. The tests ARE too easy. Too many students were doing poorly on the written section of the English HSA, so the state simply removed writing from the HSA. On top of that, Students know that they don’t really have to pass the HSA. Some students intentionally fail, knowing that they will have 3 or more chances each year to take it again (while getting out of class to do so each time). Even if they don’t pass it at all, they know they can simply complete a quick project that takes the place of the HSA. You want kids to get good scores on the HSA? Raise the standards and raise the stakes. In NY, students get take the Regents for each subject. If they pass it, they get one kind of diploma. If they don’t, they get another. The first time I proctored a Regents test up here I was amazed. Students arrived early. They were quizzing each other about the content, and it was clear that they had prepared. The test had real expectations and real consequences. Maryland doesn’t do that (and it drives the teachers nuts).

      3/4/5- The big push is on for “research-driven” methods, and the county loves to implement the latest thing. It’s absurd. Education research is all about theory. Theory is all about what works in an ideal classroom (which doesn’t exist). This is the same nonsense behind Race to the Top–a flawed extension of a horrible program (NCLB). A bunch of people who spent little to no time actually teaching children became convinced that they knew how to fix the schools, and then essentially bribed them into implementing those changes with no long-term study of efficacy (long-term study is the only kind that can really tell us anything about effectiveness of education).

      -As for the UMD Math prof, I tend to take that with a grain of salt. College profs tend to blame high schools for the state of the students. High schools tend to blame the middle schools, etc etc etc. I remember a while back, a math prof from HCC started at my school. He had great intentions. He thought that, by teaching at the high school level, he could better prepare students for college. He barely lasted one year. He learned fairly quickly that teaching HS and college are two totally different activities.

      6- Gay marriage–I’m not sure what your concern is here. You are upset because teachers are taking voluntary professional development in order to learn how to spot and stop bullying against gay and transgendered kids? When I was in HCPS, I was against ALL bullying, regardless of which kid was targeted. Teachers already know how to spot bullying based on weight, age, etc. A lot of teachers don’t really know how to spot signs of bullying when it comes to a student’s sexuality. Learning to spot and stop bullying doesn’t say that the bully has to view homosexuality as acceptable. It just says that the bully can’t make another student’s life a living hell over it.

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  25. Crystal says

    I love great teachers and think poor ones hurt the good ones.

    What I can’t understand is why teacher’s can’t admit that they have a great schedule, work nine months out of the year, have excellent total compensation, job security and for some reason they can’t admit it.

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    • It's all in the numbers says

      @Crystal

      Yes, as a teacher, my day technically ends at 3:05, and that is great. I technically work from mid-August through mid-late June (which is really about ten months), and since I don’t have any children yet, I can choose to use the summer however I want. I am afforded the choice of health insurance, an HMO or PPO. Finally, yes, I am thankful knowing that I have a classroom to return to after each summer.

      What I don’t understand is why you believe teachers can’t admit this? Teachers know this to be true. Do you feel slighted in some way because teachers are, by contract, afforded the above mentioned?

      I will also “admit” that I work outside of the above mentioned time parameters. Please do not take that as a complaint or anything more than a stated fact.

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      • Ryan Burbey says

        I say don’t begrudge us our salary or benefits. Join us. Take the required coursework. Take the Praxis. Be student-teacher. Become a teacher if you think the grass is so green. Just remember what makes grass green (other than chlorophyl).

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    • I Left says

      Chrystal,

      Teachers report in mid August and teach through mid June. To start, that’s 10 months, not 9 (just a pet peeve of mine. I’ve actually seen people argue that teachers work 8 months of the year–Teachers are on a 10-month contract).

      The other two months are not “vacation.” Teachers continually have to take courses to maintain their certification. While I’ve seen some teachers do that during the school year, it’s VERY difficult to do. Those two months are frequently spent earning those credits. It’s also the time used to revise curriculum and make the kinds of improvements/changes that we don’t have time to make during the school year. Every time I teach a unit, I make little notes about what worked and what didn’t. Those 2 months in the summer is my time to go back and try to improve the weaknesses in my curricular materials.

      That said, a lot of it depends on what subject you teach. English teachers (which, if I’m not mistaken, is Ryan’s content area) put in a LOT more hours than phys ed teachers. All of the four core content areas put in plenty of time outside of the scheduled school day. An average “work week” for an English teacher tends to be in the 60-80 hour range, while they are salaried for 40 hours.

      There are benefits to the job, just like any other job. There are also drawbacks. Teachers have no problem admitting the benefits, but many people seem to be incapable of recognizing the tougher parts of the job (which is why new teachers are 50% likely to leave the profession within 3 years. Many of them signed up for the perks, but found that those perks weren’t worth the drawbacks).

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  26. Ryan Burbey says

    I would like to re-focus the discussion, if I may.
    The article was about HCPS being under-funded. It is not solely about teachers or performance. Look the numbers. Why do any of my free market friends think that HCPS can compete with school systems that every year spend more money, have more supplies, have better tech, have the opportunity for more innovation and have better maintained facilities? The improvements which HCPS needs require more $$$. Even if your argument is that we need to improve teaching, that requires professional development funds. This should not be a political football where all the disgruntled gather to bash teachers. It should be a wak up call to Harford County residents that the foundation for their “wealth building” via real estate need repair.

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    • Not from Here says

      If you look at the numbers–and I am recalling this from a newspaper article some weeks back–HCPS used to take up about one quarter of the county budget. It now is around 50 percent of the total budget. Part of the increase is because of salaries and benefits. The percentage cannot continue increasing.

      As people see by actions in Wisconsin and around the country, states are trying to figure out how to control spending and teachers paying a bigger share of their benefits–especially retirement–needs to be reviewed.

      One thing that I hear over and over from teachers is that they work more than the 8 to 3 (or whatever the school day is)that people see, but I say, look at any professional. Any successful businessperson or person who works for the federal government puts in more than the 40-hour week he or she is paid to work. Additionally, those businesspeople or government workers work 250 days in a year rather than 190. Many of them pay all of their own benefits, but nearly all contribute substantially for medical and retirement benefits/funds.

      I wouldn’t think of bashing teachers. I was certified to teach when I graduated from college and have spent some time in the classroom, but I have also worked for private industry and the government.

      What no one seems to address because perhaps it isn’t PC, is that what HCPS needs is for all parents to take an active role in their kids’ education and kids need to realize that learning is not a passive activity. Not another dime would need to be put in education. Ask the parents in Bel Air and Fallston whether they think the schools are good. They will mostly tell you what a great education their kids are getting. They will tell you success stories of great college acceptances and scholarship offers. However, these same parents are involved in their kids’ educations (yeah, yeah, I know money is an issue here).

      IMO HCPS does not need more money dumped in. It needs reframing.

      For my kids, it is too late; I have already pulled them out and moved to plan B: private school. But public schools are good for the community, and for the sake of the community it would be great if they were improved.

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  27. Porter says

    @RYAN BURBEY How do you know that HCPS isn’t over-funded? Is it possible?

    If it weren’t for the false appreciation in the real property fueling Harford County tax receipts over the last ten years HCPS would not have enjoyed the increases in budget and capital expenditures.

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  28. Ryan Burbey says

    In a recent article in The Aegis defended hiring an auditor at appx $100,000, Council President Boniface, made comparison between Harford and Howard County. We don’t fund nearly as well as Howard County. In fact, we fund our schools at a rate lower than all but 6 counties. Before you say that HCPS employees are soaking the county, we also pay our employees at a lower rate than almost every county in the state, including Baltimore County and Cecil County. $6,000 of county money per student is not a ridiculous sum as my article delineates. Creating the funds necessary for this is as simple as raising taxes back to 2005 levels, which should never have been cut.
    The truth is the funding problem in Harford County and all of the suffering on the part of county workers, as well as HCPS employees was created by the two consecutive real estate tax rate cuts. The school debt issues created by new school construction are a direct result of having no impact fee during the housing boom. We can’t put the genie back in the bottle but we can prevent further austerity for our county workers, teachers, schools system support staff and children by a modest increase in taxes. You don’t like it In fact, I don’t like paying taxes either but it is a necessity if we hope to continue the quality of life which we currently enjoy in Harford County. Should we hold our government entities accountable for waste and excess, yes. Should we continue to take advantage of the weakest and poorest members of our society to fill budget holes, no.

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    • Porter says

      @RYAN BURBEY Here is my very simple question once again and yes it will require some objectivity and reasonableness on your part.

      How do you know that HCPS isn’t over-funded? Is it possible?

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      • underfunded? says

        I can assure Ryan and Porter that we are not over-funded. I was born, raised and educated in Pennsylvania. I attended rural middle to lower middle-class class schools and student taught in a more economically depressed high school in central PA. All of these schools I attended or interned in were far superior in both physical-plant infrastructure and educational materials/technology. And their unions and school districts have power. School districts actually control their funding by levying school taxes and upping millages to fund their clean, bright, modern and efficient schools.

        Ryan and and I both know that no one in the public sector or real estate business has to buy basic amenities such as paper, pens, hand sanitizer, baby wipes, duct tape (to repair broken chairs), classroom/office decor for their clients or customers.

        I do not make my students purchase from a huge supply list every August. I supply my own light bulbs for my desk and Puffs tissues and hand-washing supplies for my classroom. I agree that the class supply lists that many schools put out are excessive, but these are items that are simply not provided to schools and teachers.

        Yes, we are 10 month employees but our job begins at 7:00AM (for those of us who get to work early) and often includes Saturdays and Sundays of grading papers and planning.

        We are skilled professionals with Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. The vast majority of us care a great deal, innovate and reinvent our lessons everyday to insure student interest and success. We deserve to be paid for what we do for Harford County students. We are not overpaid.

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        • Foolish Citizen says

          Gee if you’re underpaid and have to supply tissues where does all the taxpayer money go?

          I recommend you stop buying tissues.

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          • I Left says

            It goes to middle-management waste. Every school has a principal, three assistant principals, a mentor teacher, and an educational facilitator. Most of those schools would see no change in efficacy if they had just the principal and one assistant principal. Yet these are the highest paid positions in each building.

            Now look to the county level.

            Every subject has a content supervisor on a hefty salary. Why? Why can’t the department chairs handle that duty as part of their regular meetings?

            I don’t know if this is still the case, but the county used to have two, full salary “reading coaches” who would routinely move around the county and watch the reading classes. They didn’t really accomplish much.

            The number of “Assistant superintendents of such and such” is also a joke. This is Harford County. Since when is HCPS big enough to require this many 6-figure central staff members? Nothing against Teri Kranefeld, but why does the county need a PR mouthpiece? For the money he’s getting, Dr. Tomback should be able to speak for himself. That might even remove some of the feeling that the super doesn’t listen to anybody.

            Rather than pay thousands of dollars for canned curriculum that doesn’t work (everyday math, anyone?), why not actually encourage the teachers around the county to collaborate and create a Harford County curriculum? Compile the best lessons in a database on the intranet. It would still have to follow state and national guidelines, but it would be far cheaper and it would be far more effective (as it would be made by people who understand the demographics and needs of HCPS students).

            The poster you responded to mentioned that he/she went to school in PA. I did as well. The difference isn’t in how much money is spent–the difference is that PA doesn’t waste nearly as much of that money on staff/projects that don’t actually impact student learning.

            The frustrating part, as I’ve said for nearly a year on this site, is that nobody wants to talk about where the waste is really happening. Every time a teacher thread pops up, people (often the same ones) are all too eager to blame the teachers for everything, while never blinking an eye at all of the actual waste.

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          • Foolish Citizen says

            Wow I had no idea that there was waste in the Harford County Public Schools? Who’d a thunk it?

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          • I Left says

            And your point would be what, exactly? If you are aware of the waste in HCPS, then why are you ripping on the teachers (ie- the one group in HCPS that is underpaid relative to the rest of the state)? Why not, oh I don’t know, support the teachers and attack the causes of waste in the system? I realize that a flip, sarcastic response is easier, but what the hell. Let’s give it a shot. It’s only the education of your children at stake, right?

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          • Foolish Citizen says

            My point is why would citizens who pay taxes want to keep giving money to a failed system?

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          • I Left says

            So what is your solution? Mine is to address the causes of waste, streamline the administrative and executive areas of the system which have been allowed to bloat over the last couple of decades, and reallocate that money to where it needs to go–infrastructure, bringing the county back to a competitive wage for teachers, and sending some money back to the taxpayers. With a little hard work, flaws in the system could be fixed. What would you rather do? Leave teacher pay in the basement while still cutting checks to the bloated central admin? What does that solve?

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          • Porter says

            @I Left Great start, don’t expect Buubey to help since he can’t even begin to accept your ideas could work. Buubey’s only answer is more taxpayer money.

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          • Ryan Burbey says

            I have repeatedly stated that I don’t necessarily agree with HCPS decision making and priorities. However, That does not change the need for additional funding. Much of the increase in funding is going to opening a new school. To fix the many problems, HCPS must have funding.

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  29. Longtime Taxpayer says

    Property taxes did not go down for all county homeowners. If you have been in your home for a long time your Homestead Credit prevents your property taxes from going down.

    Longtime Taxpayer

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      • Longtime Taxpayer says

        Ryan,

        You have a conflict of interest. The difference between most other taxpayers and you is that you are arguing to receive more salary from taxpayers which is not equally offset by any increase in your property tax payment.

        Longtime Taxpayer

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        • Ryan Burbey says

          Actually, I have a vested interest. My son attends public school. My infant son will attend public school. I would like it if my tax dollars were dedicated to providing for a better educational system. My future evaluations will also be based on the performance of students, I would like it if I were able to have access to the materials and conditions necessary to provide them with the best opportunity for this success.

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    • frankly speaking says

      Please explain how the Homestead Tax Credit keeps your taxes from going down if your assessment goes down? That doesn’t make any sense. A tax credit reduces your tax bill due to low income, prior homeownership or special status. The Homestead Tax Credit reduces your tax bill on your homestead because you have been in the dwelling for more than a year. The tax credit itself does not affect your assessment since the state completes that and your county/city applies the credit for the tax bill amount being decreased.

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      • Ryan Burbey says

        There is a threshold. If you reduce the county tax liability it counts against the adjusted value.

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        • frankly speaking says

          If you don’t want the homestead tax credit then you can appeal your assessment, but a homeowner can’t double dip that is get a tax credit and obtain further reduction by appealing the assessed value? I don’t see any other way under which this tax credit would be a bad thing for anyone.

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          • Porter says

            You can successfully appeal your assessment, but your Homestead Credit will still be a counterbalance to any reduction in actual tax liability.

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  30. Ryan Burbey says

    No, HCPS is not over-funded. HCPS actually works at a programs deficit and the children of Harford County pay the cost. Do some research. Look at the programs we can afford to offer. Look at our performance rating. Education is costly business and it is getting more costly. Most of the increased costs of education have nothing to do with teacher salary or benefits. It is a direct result of the evolution within the job market and the increased need for techno-literacy. I can’t say that there is no waste, but I can say that comparatively we do not spend enough. I can also say that there are obvious problems in many of our schools which can only be fixed with increased funding. I don’t make the funding, allocation or policy decisions nor do any other teachers. We have very little input. We do the best we can with the resources which are available to us. Our children and our community just deserves a greater investment in education.

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  31. Porter says

    @RYAN BURBEY Well then the only answer from you Ryan is we have to make taxpayers pay more taxes and give it blindly to HCPS, but it’s okay because based on your comments HCPS is an efficient steward of taxpayer money. HCPS’s budget allocations cannot be improved upon and all current programs are vitally essential?

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  32. frankly speaking says

    Porter-Your understanding of govt operations is sorely lacking and your grasp of what it takes to run a school system with all the mandates and regulations in place which must be funded is at best minimal. I would suggest that you actually do some research, look at the line items in the budget and propose sensible cuts in things that the school system can do better or not do at all and then give insightful opinions that make sense and then you can contribute to this forum positive manner. Until that happens, you just keep of saying the same junk over and again, but you will be seen as a teabagger with no ideas, thoughts or knowledge of the fiscal issues affecting the funding of govt operations.

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    • Phil Dirt says

      And Frankly Speaking has degraded the discussion into graphic namecalling and therefore should be ignored from this point forward.

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  33. Phil Dirt says

    I think we should start a new topic called “Here is what I do for living and why I want a raise” so everyone can play this game, not just one person (who happens to be paid by the taxpayers).

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      • Phil Dirt says

        Unless you are referring to youself in the plural form, then no, we don’t “both know that is not what the article was about”. We are each able to conclude what we believe the article is about, and what conclusions we think you want us to come to from your writing.

        You have expressed your opinion and we have expresssed ours. I stand by my comment.

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  34. PTAMom says

    As a parent, I believe that the success of my child in school is very much tied to which teachers he/she has and who the principal is.

    There are teachers who I would have paid thousands of dollars out of my own pocket if it would have meant my child could have them for a teacher or to keep a really good teacher at our school. It would be worth every penny.

    There is a teacher that I heard another teacher told the school that if her child was put in that teacher’s math class, the parent/teacher was going to insist that her child sit in the library for the year and the parent/teacher would teach the child at home.

    What about if teachers were to have a choice … a very high rate of pay or a regular rate of pay and a pension. That way good teachers who choose to only teach 10 years or so can be well compensated and good teachers who teach 30 years and collect a pension would also be well compensated.

    I am not convinced that the Teachers’ Union is the best at looking after regular teachers’ interests. There have been times when the PTA did a better job of protecting our teachers and getting them what they needed than their union.

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    • I Left says

      PTA Mom,

      The big concern about merit pay is that it makes the budget too unpredictable. What happens when (as would be the goal) the county is full of teachers deserving merit pay? It would be unsustainable. The only way to keep the budget balanced would be to keep a certain balance (x number of teachers on merit pay, and the rest not). What does that say to students and parents? Whose kids get to take classes with the select few teachers labeled as super teachers?

      As much as folks like Porter rail against it, the current pay framework for teachers is the only one that makes sense. It’s predictable, which makes it possible to keep a budget set around it. With an emphasis on improving the quality of administration, the county can improve even more. If we bring in administrators who value the education of the students over the avoidance of conflict, then we can get rid of the kinds of teachers who hand out A’s and show movies all year (this kind of shoddy teaching can be documented, and that documentation is what is necessary to remove a bad teacher). Based on that framework, you would have schools filled with quality teachers on an affordable and predictable budget.

      No teacher went into the profession to get rich. That’s why I’m somewhat amused at people (not you) attacking Ryan, claiming that this is all about him looking for more money. If he wanted to get more money, he would leave the profession. Teachers trade off the ability to make bug money in order to gain stability and predictability. That’s why the frozen steps are so disconcerting. When teachers DO go for “the big payday,” it almost universally blows up in their faces. Look at DC. They gave up their tenure protection in exchange for a much larger salary. Many good teachers were capriciously thrown out with the bad, and the ones who remained only saw one year of that larger salary before DC realized that they couldn’t afford to pay that rate.

      Teachers don’t want to gouge the county. They just want the modest, predictable salary scale that they were promised. They want to have high standards without getting reamed out by poor administrators for “making waves.” They want good administrators to do the proper documentation necessary to remove “cineplex” teachers (since the good teachers eventually have to clean up those messes in later years).

      Somehow, rather than this being the focus of school improvement, the teachers have been demonized.

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      • Porter says

        @I Left Burbrey and any other teacher can leave teaching and compete in the private sector right now. Most will fail to even get an interview for a job let alone one that will provide equivalent compensation. I dare them to prove me wrong.

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        • I Left says

          Porter, you’d be surprised. While it would naturally depend on the content area, plenty of teachers could find lucrative employment in the private sector (Social studies teachers are the only ones I would think would have a hard time). Art, music and phys ed teachers could easily make more money doing private lessons in affluent areas. Math/Science folks are a no-brainer. English teachers, like Mr. Burbey, are in high demand in the private sector. The private sector has a dearth of talent in the area of research, communication and writing. Mr. Burbey could take his experience and degree and do anything from fact-checking to public relations to corporate training.

          Also- I’m not sure if it’s intentional or not, but is there a reason why you consistently spell Ryan’s last name incorrectly? I’m not one to point out typos, but you’ve been doing it fairly regularly.

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          • Porter says

            @I left Ryan Burbye et al can be my guest and compete in the private sector anytime they wish…best of luck to them.

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          • I Left says

            Porter- You are acting like a petulant child, here. As I mentioned earlier–one of the most talented teachers I’ve ever worked with left the profession for the private sector. She’s doing very well for herself.

            She was able to achieve great success with students in a route 40 school. Ryan’s whole point is that HCPS won’t attract top new talent if the operating plan is to run a budget with teacher pay in the bottom third of the state. In the event that the system DOES attract such talent (like the woman I mentioned), it will be difficult to retain those people.

            I agree with some of your points. I don’t think that the school system is run very well. I do think that we could run a better school system while spending the same or less than we do right now. Where I disagree is your constant idea that the financial waste is all on the teaching staff. It’s important to pay teachers at a rate that will attract and retain good young teachers. It’s also important to be fiscally responsible. Where you and I disagree is that I think it’s possible to do both of those things if we target the real waste in the county. You seem like you’d rather not be bothered with actual analysis, and would prefer to miss out on the best young teachers so that we don’t have to address the massive waste going on at the administrative/executive level.

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  35. PTAMom says

    In defense of teachers’ unions, I thought they were all powerful with the Democrats in Annapolis until an incident about a year ago, when teachers were livid over a change in work load … parents were equally livid over it as a waste of valuable instruction time for their kids…. in the end word came down through the grape vine that the teachers were told by their union that nothing could be done about it. It was an huge request, causing teachers a ton of extra work.

    The parents went to the county elected officials and eventually got the offending program stopped.

    The teachers unions’ do get an every 4 year goodie though from the State Legislature in the spring before the fall elections or so I’ve heard…
    Spring 2002 all day Kindergarten? added alot of new teacher positions?
    Spring 2006 pensions increased from 30% to 50% of the average of the last 3 years of pay
    Spring 2010 Fairness act?? alot of Board of Ed decisions even personnel decisions?? can now be appealed to a state wide board … some appointed by governor, some by union, etc. effectively diminishes the power of Board of Eds all across the state of Maryland?

    (Always remember, the Board of Ed has to ask for money from the county and the state elected officials … if a pgm is politically motivated, chances are pressure for it is coming from the county or state, not the Board of Ed. They are often given the unenviable task of just being the spokesman for what the higher ups are pushing politically or so it has seemed to me.)

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  36. Im a Ha Co.Emploee says

    Any employee or agency that is looking for pay increases or budget increases at this time is NUTS. I would love to have a raise or even get a step or two, but the economy is not on sound footing at this time. Maybe you can work and live in Howard County and you will not even have to change the monogram on your UNION clothing. Yes I’m a county employee and it sickens me to see people use the kids to try to strong arm the people. NO MORE TAXES!!!!!!

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    • I Left says

      Again, were you on the front lines in the late 90s, arguing that teachers should get massive raises because of the housing boom and flourishing economy? Of course not. It would be ridiculous. The benefit of the private sector is that you can make the good money when times are good. The risk is that you take a beating when times are bad. The public sector is different. The downside is that you only make a modest salary when times are good. The benefit is that you have stability and protection when times are bad.

      This isn’t a “raise.” It’s a contractually agreed upon step. It has nothing to do with the private sector, and unless you’re willing to adjust the payscale to see teachers making 6 figures in times of economic boom, using a poor economy as an excuse to attack the public sector is both unfair and dishonest.

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  37. Bob D. says

    I have heard it read and said that the administrators within the school system are among the highest paid in the state. Is this true? If so, why do those with no direct impact on the individual education of a child receive so much? I would rather over pay a teacher than over pay an Assistant Vice President to some position that has no impact on instruction.

    I don’t agree at throwing money at an issue. My thought would be a re-distribution of what we already spend. Again, if the rumors of the pay of administrators are true, then we are mismanaging where our money goes.

    Let me say in advance, I have not looked this up nor do I know where I would start to investigate this. Hopefully, someone with more knowledge than I can shed light on this information.

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    • Ryan Burbey says

      All of the negotiated agreements for Harford County re on the HCPS website. Likewise, I believe each county posts its pay scale.

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  38. amazed says

    @Ryan Burbey, I’ve followed this thread and I have some questions…
    1. You compare Howard and Harford counties and if I were to assume all the residents were commuting to Baltimore City I could see your comparison… however on a map one can conclude that many of the residents are within commuting distance to DC and Annapolis (DC being the more likely destination). Who would volunteer to move to Harford and add the harrowing trip through Baltimore to their daily commute?
    2. You repeatedly stress you are in favor of eliminating waste in government, and simultaneously call for additional funding. How do you propose to keep the former from gobbling up all the latter if you don’t address it first? Do you honestly think a bunch of politicians will hand you the money from a tax increase before they spend it to help themselves get re-elected?
    3. Couldn’t a great deal of good be accomplished for academics if the school system would stop pouring money into sports programs? I notice the HdeG field is now astroturfed (yes, I know it was parks and rec, but it’s still the county)… apparently it’s needed since we’re now churning out pro athletes.
    4. You quote around 6,000 per student… oddly enough that’s about on par with several local elementary/middle private schools… how do test results stack up between the two?
    5. How much are the head and top ten toadies of the teachers union paid – including bonuses of course?

    I am a graduate of HdeG(early ’80′s) and I believe today, as I did then, that if a student wants to learn they will and if they do not, they won’t. I agree, based on the overall caliber of students I see today, that teachers deserve better (combat) pay than they receive and that slackers should be eliminated. I, like many commenting have a problem with the union and the administration (and the middle management wonks “I Left” refers to) – not the teachers. If the Union was unable to hold the County to something as defensible as a legitimate, legal pay contract, precisely what good is it to their members beyond collecting dues and jaunting off to conventions?

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    • I Left says

      Amazed,

      I can answer #’s 3 and 4. I do see the value in the sports programs. Sports, just like the arts, can teach kids in ways that a classroom cannot. In certain areas, the athletics in HCPS are funded more intelligently than other counties (ie- you don’t see absurdly high stipends for coaching–the coaches do it because they love coaching the sport). In other areas, like the turf fields you mentioned, there is waste. Frankly, turf causes more injuries than grass, so not only is it more expensive, but it’s more of a risk as well. I have no idea who thought turf fields were a necessity, but they really didn’t think it through very well.

      On #4, I’ve discussed this issue before. Even though funding is listed as $6,000 per student, that’s not how it’s actually divvied up. It’s just an average made up of funds divided by total students. Special education students see on average about three times that amount.

      Private schools get good test scores for two key reasons:

      1- They test students for admission, eliminating the special needs students and those who might need more specialized instruction.

      2- Their student population is 100% composed of kids whose parents place a high value on education.

      Private schools don’t have HS kids reading on a 5th grade level. They don’t have kids with one parent in jail and the other on drugs. They don’t have kids whose only meal will be the lunch provided by the school.

      Add in those demographics, and I suspect that you’ll see the test scores go down significantly.

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  39. Joseph Camp says

    Ryan, you stated in one of your posts “Harford County is largely upper-middle class”.

    The median household income for Harford County in 2008 was $76,620.

    http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/24/24025.html

    My family income is close to that $76,000 range before taxes. Currently we desperately need two new vehicles, one has 240,000 miles, and another has 145,000 miles. We need a new roof on our house. We find that the financial position of our children, who are trying to make their way in the world, has us helping them on an increasingly frequent basis. Your conscious will simply not allow you to stand by and not help with a BGE bill when grandbabies are involved.

    We have had to take a very hard look at any vacation expenditure and just had our first get-away in five years. With prices in every area of our life going up (at the pump, food, utilities, etc.) disposable income is becoming scarcer. Many of our family, friends, as well as ourselves are currently making significantly less then we did in 2008. We consider ourselves far from upper-middle class at this point. And Ryan, did your retirement take a 25% dive in its value in the last three years?

    The fact is we are still in a serious sustained recession. For the Harford County Public Schools to ask in their budget for an additional $24 million, and for proponents to suggest that taxes need to be raised to cover this increase, is just unconscionable when so many county residents are struggling in these economic times. To start with the premise that Harford is an upper-middle class income county and assume our school system should reflect such is just incorrect.

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    • Ryan Burbey says

      Dear Mr. Camp,

      I am sorry to hear of your troubles. I would consider $76,000 as a median income an indicator of upper middle class. It means half the wage earners are at a level above $76,000. The increase which I discussed as an alternative to providing additional funds was minimal. I believe it would amount to less than $10 per month for most households. Hopefully, someone will see your post and offer assistance with your roof.
      We are all struggling in the current economy. Yes, my retirement has taken a dive and the state legislature plans to dip into it some more. I doubt I will have a vacation any time soon. I owe thousands in student loans incurred bettering myself in my profession. I am basically one paycheck from being on the street, as are many teachers. The financial assumptions we worked under and were promised were not fulfilled. We like everyone else are suffering.
      I hope that your family prospers in the future and that your children find success. It is hard when our children are struggling. This is exactly why I wrote the article many of our children in Harford County are struggling and we must provide them a better future. While many on this post have vilified me and cast some kind of self-serving shadow over my intent, my core interest was to improve schools and education in Harford County. The only way to guarantee a better future is through better education.

      Ryan Burbey

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      • Porter says

        @Ryan Bobabuuy You are a piece of work I gotta tell you. You want your money and you offer Mr. Camp hopes that his “family prospers in the future and that your children find success” aren’t you sweet while you lobby to pick Mr. Camp’s pocket.

        You are an entitled elitist plain and simple.

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  40. Ryan Burbey says

    1. I compared Howard and Harford due to size and to emphasize how the disparity in funding is affecting HCPS. As to the commute, I believe that as time passes more and more people will use the train. Also, I was speaking of attracting new residents.

    2. Even if all of the waste were eliminated from HCPS, we still would be underfunded. I think a good solution to the issue of waste would be for representatives of all vested parties to work together to cut waste. Currently, this does not happen.

    3. I mostly agree with ILEFT. Sports have merit. They provide much needed motivation for some kids. However, spending money on turf fields, etc. in times of economic decline is reprehensible.

    4. I don’t know what private school tuition is in Harford County. They are not required to take the state tests in elementary or middle. They are able to hand pick students. Lakc of funding results in less returns in achievement.

    5. I don’t know what the NEA or MSEA president makes but our local president is paid his normal teaching salary (from members dues). THe school system does not pay our local president.

    What do unions do? Besides defending teachers against false accusations (which there are more of than you would believe) , representing them in collective bargaining and assisting in resolving disputes between teachers, union advocate for public schools and for improving education for our children. I would direct you to the MSEA website and NEA website for additional info.
    Locally HCEA has force HCPS to retract and renegotiate a horrible healthcare plan which adversely affected all HCPS employees. Had teachers in Harford COunty not had a union they would have had no recourse and no representation. The problem with the pay is there is a state law which requires there to be funding for salary steps. HCPS says they didn’t have the money. Until this year with the enactment of the Fairness in Negotiations Act, unions could not get a bidding settlement of contractual disputes through arbitration.
    While many people disparage conventions, they are one of the finest examples of democratic principles in action. All delegates have a vote and policy is determined from actions taken at the convention. I would encourage you to look at the info available on the NEA and MSEA sites. Truly unions are not the problem. We want to negotiate. We truly want to improve schools for teachers and students alike.

    I hope this helps answer your questions.

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    • Celsius says

      My friend Ryan is right!

      Unions must be able to collectively bargain against the corporatists and fat cat interests that conspire to keep teacher’s from a fair wage and publicly funded pension.

      For far too long teachers have been cheated by the business elites that control Harford County and it’s high time we take control of our destiny. We should march on the Harford County Offices and take them over just like Wisconsin.

      We need to stand in solidarity with our sisters and brothers who are being cheated by Gov. Walker and the Repugs.

      Ryan when do we start the peaceful protest? We need to do this for your family Ryan and the families of all teachers. Let’s get a fair and progressive real property tax structure in place for Harford County. These fat cats can afford it.

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  41. says

    Ryan

    Let’s cut all of the foolishness and get right to the issue. The automatic money machine is broke. There is not enough money to fund government operations, and won’t be until income tax revenues begin to approach property tax revenues, without equivalent increases in population.

    You want a step increase, salary increase, wage increase or pay raise. Call it what you will, it is a pay raise that will cost taxpayers money. Your rationale, based on faulty logic, is that your pay increase will produce better schools, provide better opportunity, boost property values and create prosperity. The logic behind your unsecured promissory note is that Howard County is the number one school in Maryland because it spends more money. That would require the 5 schools that spend more than Howard County to spend less in order to improve. Likewise the 7 schools that spend more than Carroll and Calvert County should spend less in order to be in the top three. Although Harford County spends only $129 dollars less per pupil than Carroll County, you have determined that we will never be in the top three because our residents do not sacrifice enough of their own money. Maybe Harford County money is more valuable.

    So here are some proposals to reduce the cost of education and make the savings available for pay the pay increase you seek.

    1. Reduce the number of teachers, by introducing technology. Ever observed the level of concentration some of your students devote to video games. They are competing with themselves and other game players to solve problems and advance. Use this technology to introduce academic games with real teaching points and problem solving challenges.

    2. You and some of your supporters have stated that there is waste in the system and that you disagree with how educational funds are distributed. Throwing more money into a system that you have identified as wasteful and populated with ineptitude will not fix the problem. Step forward, identify the waste. Most of Harford County will stand behind you and demand a stop to wasteful practices and inept management. You are not innocent bystanders, you are on the inside. If you do not correct the problem then you become part of the problem.

    3. Demand that the County stop providing tax incentives to companies moving into Harford County. These tax incentives reduce revenue for education. The argument you will hear is that the State reimburses the County up to 50% of the incentive offered. That Sate funding comes from tax revenue, that could be used for education. Creating job growth does not fix the underlying problem. Each one of the jobs created comes with requirements for government services and functions. One example, families with school age children moving in require education, but no family pays/contributes enough in tax revenue to fund a single child in school. Result automatic deficit.

    4. Demand that the State stop providing handouts. Every dollar they send back to the County is a dollar less for education.

    5. Tell the State and Federal Government no more unfunded mandates. No more Maintenance of Effort, no more Social Welfare programs. We cannot afford any more good ideas.

    6. If you are really serious about restructuring the tax rates in Harford County to support your pay raise, then put everything on the table and hit control alt delete to reboot.. Eliminate the salary schedule with automatic step increases and Cost of Living increases. Eliminate the current pension system in favor of a 401K type system. Eliminate current employee health benefits for a system that costs less. Go to a merit pay system that rewards success. Every employee starts at a base salary. For personnel who coach athletics, every championship is rewarded with extra pay. Band Directors, coaches get extra pay for every student that gets a scholarship. Teachers get extra pay for students who get scholarships. Technical teachers get extra pay for students who get employment at above average wages or go on to higher education with a scholarship. Secondary School teachers get extra pay for students who win spelling contests, math contest, literature awards. Elementary School teachers get extra pay for students who excel in the same areas as Secondary School teachers. This system would establish a competitive environment for teachers. Students would learn how to compete and what it takes to win, lessons that they will need when they leave school.

    7. Ask your colleagues and associates for their ideas to save money.

    Finally any teacher, public sector employee, private sector employee or self employed individual who believes that he or she has a better opportunity somewhere else. In all sincerity, without any bitterness, rancor or malice, pursue that opportunity as aggressively as possible. You owe it to yourself, your family, your colleagues, and most of all to the people you support. If you stay where you are, you will always wonder what could have been, you will become disillusioned, bitter and disappointed in your self, and those around you will invariably suffer.

    Time to man up and stop looking to taxpayers for easy money solutions without taking some of the risk.

    What will it be?

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    • I Left says

      Joan, I will address your 6th and 7th points, mainly because those are the ones that really show that you do not understand how education works.

      In reverse order-

      You want to encourage people to leave teaching because they could make more money elsewhere. Teachers aren’t morons. They KNOW they can make more money elsewhere. Further, about half of new teachers follow the advice you’ve just given. The ones who stay are staying because they have made a conscious choice–stability over maximum potential earnings. No teacher is under the delusion that working in the public sector will make him/her rich. What it does offer (and what is currently under attack) is stability and protection against bad economic times. In a good economy, teachers make a comparatively poorer wage. In a bad economy, teachers make a comparatively better wage. It’s the same wage–but it’s just regulated to remain static in comparison to the overall market.

      Money isn’t everything–Security and predictability have significant value as well. Teachers give up the chance to earn the big bucks in exchange for that security and predictability. Pensions, benefits and steps are part of that. If we treated education like a business (which is foolish), and placed money at the top of the totem, you wouldn’t be happy with the resulting state of the school system. Remove the security and predictability, and you remove the incentive for most people to enter the teaching profession.

      As to your 6th point- You don’t understand education. I oppose merit pay not out of a sense of fear of accountability. I oppose merit pay as a fiscal conservative. It’s unsustainable. As I said in an earlier post–what is the goal of merit pay? If it’s to eventually get to the point where all teachers would be in a top tier, then it would make the costs of education skyrocket. Look at DC. Everything you suggest was done in DC. Merit pay in, steps out. Tenure out. What happened? Michelle Rhee fired a ton of teachers (some poor, some expensive and some just because they pissed her off- like the beloved and award-winning principal at the school attended by Rhee’s children).

      On top of that, DC realized less than a year into the plan that it couldn’t afford to actually pay the teachers who merited the pay boost. After giving up all of the perks of the job, the DC teachers lost everything and went right back to the public-sector level pay (without any of the security or predictability that offsets that).

      If you DO implement some sort of system, say only 20% of teachers are allowed to earn the merit pay, whose children get those teachers? Can you imagine the parental wars principals would have to mediate?

      Your comment on coaches was also laughable, as it reinforces all of the worst kinds of coaching. At the high school level, the goal shouldn’t be to win at all costs. I pushed my players to play as hard as they could, but at the end of the day it was about respect, sportsmanship and the value of effort. Your plan would make all of those valuable lessons obsolete.

      Your comment about extra pay for students who get scholarships is equally flawed. It serves as a financial disincentive to any teacher who would want to work with average and below average students. It DOES create an environment of competition between teachers. Not to improve, but to stake claims to the best and brightest students, leaving the average and below average kids behind in the dust.

      I’m sure you mean well, but from a fiscal and pedagogical standpoint, all of your ideas are flawed. It’s not your fault. You work in business, and as such you want to replicate what works in business in the schools. As noble as that may seem, schools are not businesses and children are not widgets.

      The current pay structure is the only one I’ve seen proposed that is fiscally viable. Literally, EVERY other pay structure I’ve seen would inevitably lead to the fiscal destruction of the public education system.

      That said, maintaining the same pay structure does not mean keeping the status quo. As I said earlier–good administration is the key. Administrators have to have the right goals for the job.

      Find administrators who will:

      -put the right teachers in front of the right classrooms (ie- if a young teacher is more qualified to teach honors or AP due to advanced coursework and accomplishment in the field, that young teacher should get that class over a 35 year veteran with less content qualification).

      -value the quality of the education over the “value” of stability. I’ve seen teachers get reamed out because they caught students plagiarizing. The admin backed the parent and forbade the teacher from writing it up. Creating a culture of rigorous standards will take time and it WILL create some waves/hurt feelings in the first few years. Once it gets going, however, the result will be an infinitely stronger school system.

      -be willing to do the due diligence, file the paperwork and actually remove poor teachers. By poor teachers, I don’t mean the ones who expect A’s to be an achievement rather than an expectation. I mean the ones that everybody loves–the ones who show movies all year and then just put A’s on the report cards.

      All of this has to start at the top. The Superintendent would need to reevaluate all county administrators and get rid of the ones who value calm seas over good education.

      If we could make that happen, then the resulting change to the school system would be remarkable. More importantly, it would be fiscally realistic.

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        • I Left says

          Right. Please read earlier in the thread where that kind of ignorant statement was shown to be patently false. 50% of new teachers leave the profession within 3 years. That’s a lot of people heading into other jobs, many presumably headed to the private sector. I know PLENTY of people who have left teaching and are doing quite well for themselves. Ironically, the opposite doesn’t seem to hold true. The only “career changers” I know who have actually entered the teaching profession from another career and succeeded have been former military. Every year it seems every school has someone from this industry of that industry that wanted to try teaching, either for the dubious “because of the easy schedule” reason or because of the more laudatory “to make a difference” reason. Those people rarely make it past one year.

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    • Ryan Burbey says

      Dear Joan,

      This will be my last response to your posts. While I do not want to offend anyone, it is pointless to continue to argue with you when you clearly don’t have a full consideration of the issue in mind. Howard County is #3. Even if your $129 figure is correct. That is over five million dollars per year. I have never denied that I will benefit from a salary step increase if the budget is passed. However, the core of my argument is not about wages or even taxes, it is about kids. Children in Harford County deserve a whole-hearted commitment to education. HCPS needs more funds to provide programs and opportunities to lead our children to a successful future.
      You my dear are an ideologue. I wish you well. I respect your difference in opinion but much of it is based in political talking points and half truths. Your calls for reform are only punitive measures against the poorest and weakest members of our society. Yes, schools and other government agencies need to become leaner and more efficient. Unfortunately, Harford County’s long standing policy of getting “more bang for their buck” by underfunding schools has played itself out. We are getting about all the bang we can. We need more bucks. By we I mean schools in general. Compromise is the only solution to all of our problems. Cooperation means that sometimes neither side feels like they have won but a path is created for a better future for all.

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      • Porter says

        @Ryan Blurrey If Joan is as you say an “ideologue” then you must be the Rodney King why can’t we get along, liberal/progressive voice of reason, Saviour of mankind, altruistic, selfless do-gooder avenger fighting the rich and powerful on behalf of the hungry shoeless children who are walking twelve miles each way in the snow to school everyday.

        Oh, and yes you were again condescending and dismissive to Joan for which you should be ashamed of yourself.

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        • Ryan Burbey says

          Dear Porter,

          Despite my efforts to honestly and frankly conduct a dialogue, you have continuously reduced the level of discussion to a sophomoric level of banter. I no more condescended to Joan then her to me. I am a liberal. i think that is clear. I am not the savior of mankind. I work hard and put my shoes on one at a time like everyone else. All of the children I teach have shoes. Most take the bus rather than walk. I do not pretend to have all the answers or think we will all ever get along. I do think that moving forward is about making compromise. I am not dismissive. I have conceded from the start that waste should be eliminated. Finally, I don’t resort to petty mis-spellings of participants names to jibe or jest. This is very serious to me. Obviously, it is not to you. I bid you adieu.

          Ryan Burbey

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  42. Gustav Reemer says

    Well I’ll have to take your word for it, Lefty.

    If I told you I did pest control for a living or I was a finance executive for a Fortune 50 company would it really matter to you, a person whose mind is made up?

    Gustav Reemer

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    • I Left says

      Possibly. Detailed knowledge of pest control could potentially come in handy with a room full of 9th graders!

      My only point was that teaching is a lot more difficult than people think (particularly people with a penchant for throwing out the old “those that can” bullpucky).

      Thousands of new teachers start out every year, and half of them decide to go do something else within three years. If the job was so easy and the pay was so great, you wouldn’t see that kind of turnover in new hires (especially considering all the licensing hoops you have to jump through to even GET to the point of being a new teacher).

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  43. B says

    Ryan,
    I appreciate your passion for your cause, and feel that I was wrong earlier when I said you were only after a raise. However, I feel that you are sheltered from what is happening to many in this economy right now. 10 percent out of work, 10 percent more underemployed. Many are losing their homes. I think you are aware of this, but it doesn’t seem like you’ve felt the pain. As a private business owner, I pay over half of my income in taxes. I feel that it is my duty as a citizen to pay my taxes, but you have to say at some point that enough is enough. Every day in the news you read of billions wasted here and there by the government. Paying taxes to the state and fed, to then be returned to the schools wastes millions. There are many ways to cut and streamline the government budgets, to provide more for our kids. Paying farmers not to grow crops, giving billions to foreign governments, giving public employees (some) huge pensions for 30 years all are huge wastes. There are many ways to better use what we already pay. Most of us can’t afford more. That is the hard way to get more funding. It is easy to turn to the taxpayers and say give us more.

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    • Cdev says

      You have a valid point but the Harford county government is not paying farmers to not grow crops, giving money to foriegn govt.s etc. Your grievance should be with those segments of govt. that are doing those things.

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      • B says

        My “grievance” in this case is a response to Ryans letter stating that more taxes are the only answer to our underfunding of schools. This raise the taxes mentality is unsustainable. People are already tapped out.

        Two of my friends are Harford County teachers with their masters, and both are underpaid. However, there are several valid ways to save money on the County level. One of them is the number of administrators per school. Others are smaller items like how often stadium lights are on. How many dollars are spent by the teachers unions to support political candidates. How many assistants does a Superintendent really need. Is it fair to pay people for 30 years after they retire?

        People commenting above call the tea party crazy, when they are saying that they want the government, fed, state and local, to function with in its means. To me its crazy to spend like we as a nation have been. I am all for paying more for schools, and not for bases in Germany or fighting on the other side of the world. I am simply saying to use my money better then to take more of it.

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        • Ryan Burbey says

          I would like to clarify some over-riding issues.

          1. Until the “Citizens United” decision, unions were barred from donating dues money. That decision opened the flood gates for all corporate and organizational funds.http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/barackobama/7046846/US-Supreme-Court-abolishes-political-funding-restrictions.html Even Fox news doesn’t have NEA at #1
          http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2011/02/28/needs-drastically-alter-campaign-finance-rules/

          In fact, when you look at the list by interest group. Education ranks 17. We still spend very little dues money, if any on political campaigns. Locally, we spend none.

          http://www.opensecrets.org/overview/topcontribs.php
          http://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/index.php
          http://www.opensecrets.org/industries/mems.php

          Below are some more informative pages on political donations.

          http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/ns/msnbc_tv-rachel_maddow_show/#41790410
          http://www.xkaw.com/Livelihood/Politics_Government.asp?id=b589271
          http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2011/02/28/needs-drastically-alter-campaign-finance-rules/
          http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/c/chamber_of_commerce_us/index.html?scp=10&sq=top%20ten%20political%20donors&st=cse
          2. The problem is that the way the law currently is, teachers are ground up in the
          bureaucracy. Rather than shuffle the budget administration cuts our pay and benefits. If the “Tea Party” or anyone else wants to attack waste, attack the policy makers and budget lines which are excessive, not the employees.

          Right now it is popular amongst right wing conservatives to bash union workers. Unfortunately, the facts don’t support the diatribe.

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        • Porter says

          B, If you give Ryan Burbey the raises he wants he will be back again and again, it will never stop since he will never get enough salary, health care, dental and pension. It doesn’t matter to him that Harford County taxpayers have taken cuts in pay, are unemployed and underemployed, yet they still dutifully pay their property taxes.

          Ryan will always be entitled to more and it will be because of “the children”. He will use “the children” as a justification for his sense of supreme entitlement. And he will scare you into thinking if you don’t pay him your children’s education will be compromised.

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          • Robert says

            Porter,

            If you don’t pay them (the teachers), your children’s education WILL be compromised.

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          • Porter says

            @Robert

            Yes, we must be extorted by the Ryan Burbeys of the world, who threaten to compromise the quality of education unless their ransom is paid. Ryan will remind us all that we must increase salaries, health care, dental and pensions to teachers for “the children”.

            Again, it doesn’t matter to Burbey that Harford County taxpayers have taken cuts in pay, are unemployed and underemployed, yet they still dutifully pay their property taxes.

            Ryan wants what he wants no matter that there is a long-term economic recession. But by God, since he is teaching for the benefit of “the children” he should be insulated from the affects of the recession, his compensation should not only be protected, but guaranteed to increase.

            Porter

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          • Robert says

            @Porter

            Your attack on Ryan seems personal and only makes your seem more like a closed-minded fool than a champion of the tax-payers.

            Regardless, you fail to address the fact that Ryan Burbey is not the only teacher in Harford County. The teachers I know are not really asking for a “raise” as much as they are asking for the step increases that were part of the agreement when they took the job.

            In any case, the tax-payers who are so adamant about punishing the teachers instead of focusing on other ways to cut waste in the school budget are the same ones who wil cry foul once the test scores start going down and their students aren’t getting the extra perks that teachers give freely and selflessly.

            If the teachers in HCPS become the lowest paid teachers in the state, your children’s education WILL be affected. Your snarky dismissal of that fact will NOT change it. You’re ignorant if you think otherwise.

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          • Porter says

            @Robert

            You’re right Burbey is for “the children”, he is not for himself, he is an altruist, a humanitarian. I don’t know who is more selfless Ryan Burbey or Mother Teresa?

            Make no mistake, Ryan Burbey’s union mission is to maintain the status quo, get more money and throw his hands up in the air and stomp his feet in protest when money-saving education reform is contemplated. His job is to prevent reform.

            Porter

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          • Robert says

            Porter,

            You can call Burbey all the names you want.(That only makes you sound like a troll who is picking a fight)

            You’re still ignoring the bottom line that HCPS students will suffer if the teachers are the worst paid in the state.

            You can call it extortion and use all the hyperbole you wish, but teachers in Harford County have been treated poorly for years. Your attacks on Ryan Burbey only exemplify the poor attitudes many have towards teachers. It is unfortunate that oftentimes those who attach the teachers for being greedy are the first ones to complain if scores decline or students don’t get enough attention.

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          • Porter says

            @ROBERT

            I take back all the “names” I called Burbey; oh I guess I can’t do it since I didn’t call him any names?

            Fact of the matter is teacher’s unions are undermining quality education, Ryan is on a union mission to increase salaries, health care, dental and pensions. Teacher’s unions are for power and money, not quality education.

            Porter

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          • Robert says

            Porter,

            Wrong again. The union (and Burbey) are pushing to maintain the salaries and benefits that were promised to the teachers – and have been withheld for the past 3 years.

            The people who are “undermining quality education” are the people like you who continue to attack the teachers as being greedy instead of looking for ways to better education while maintaining and recruiting a highly qualified teaching staff.

            Your ire is misdirected at the teacher’s and if things continue in this direction, the quality of education will decline.

            Continue to champion the poor taxpayers (teachers pay taxes too, by the way) — But, don’t complain when the students do indeed start to suffer.

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          • Porter says

            @ROBERT You’re entitled to your opinion no matter how wrong your might be. Teacher’s may be taxpayer’s, but they get their paychecks from taxpayers whereas most taxpayers do not.

            Teacher’s unions are power hungry self-serving political machines bent on increasing their power base. They have an all consuming mission to enslave taxpayers and waste taxpayer money. And they do it under the credo that it’s for “the children”.

            Porter

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          • Robert says

            Ok Porter — Continue to live in your delusional world.

            It is obvious that we will have to continue to disagree.

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      • frankly Speaking says

        March-All your points are valid, but HCPS and HCG are not doing any of the things you speak of and unemployment in Harford county is more like 7.5%. If you really pay over 50
        % of your income in taxes, you need to find a better accountant, specially if you have your own business. This is really about paying not more taxes, but the county needs to prioritize its revenues to the things that are the most basic as a county function such as police, emergency services, police, prison, education and overall county responsabilities such as snow removal, water & sewer, planning and zoning..etc.

        You said “Every day in the news you read of billions wasted here and there by the government. Paying taxes to the state and fed, to then be returned to the schools wastes millions”. While I don’t dispute that there is waste, I would implore you to participate in the budget process, become informed and offer your insights that brings solutions and increases a return to the taxpayer. I am sure that’s how you would approach it in your own business as well.

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    • Ryan Burbey says

      Thank you. I appreciate your change in perspective. I agree that many things need to change. I don’t have all the solutions. I just know that here in Harford County we need to rededicate ourselves to the future, hard work, our children and education.

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      • John P. Mallamo says

        Mr. Burbey, you have confirmed, repeatedly, in your postings on the DAGGER Press and the PATCH that the issue is not about education or the future of Harford County’s children at all. It is all about you and your pay raise.

        You argue that funding for education is inadequate, and that more funding is required to improve education. Your real remedy is to increase your pay.

        The economic situation and unemployment that have reduced tax revenues are not important. Change the tax structure to increase your pay.

        Harford County spends within 300 dollars of 2 of the top 3 schools in the state, that you identified, yet achieves rankings in the bottom third. Your low pay is the reason Harford County does poorly in State rankings. Increase your pay and rankings will improve.

        When offered solutions to improve student performance you dismiss them. Your view of the education process that should be pursued is the only solution.

        It is all about you and your pay. It is about your view of academia, education and the outside world. You have isolated yourself from the rest of the world in academia, and further insulated yourself in a bubble of your own making. No one else understands your world and therefore has nothing to contribute. Your pay determines how much better Harford County’s children will do.

        How much do great schools cost? You have offered no formula that can be used to project the cost of great schools. You have offered no ratio of funding to success. You have not offered any formula to extrapolate present dollars to required dollars to move from current ranking to desired ranking. No higher mathematic or scientific method or empirical data to support your claims. Your only formulaation is to raise your pay.

        Even your stochastic data and analysis is flawed. Harford County spends within a few hundred dollars of 2 schools you identified as being in the top three. Does that mean when Harford County spends a few hundred dollars more per student, that it will move from its current low ranking to number 1, 2 or 3?. Possible but not probable. It is obvious, to even a casual observer, that Counties spending more money
        than Calvert and Carroll County are not ranked higher than they are. Counties spendfing more than Howard County are not ranked higher than it is. Why not? Multiple factors that you site in your analysis of how more money does not produce better outcome in Washington DC or other areas. How can you then propose that more money will equate to better performance? Your premise is that increasing your pay is the solution, and so any comparison that does not fit your mantra is not valid.

        How much do great schools cost? You have no idea. Your argument that Harford County does not spend enough is hollow. Your real issue is not whether Harford County spends enough on education. It is that HCPS administrators are wasteful and inept because they do not spend more on your pay.

        When offered the opportunity to withdraw gracefully from your silliness, by Mr./Mrs./Ms. Frankly Speaking on the DAGGER you declined. Your petulance and narcissism required you to continue your postings on the PATCH. It is after all, all about you

        Your arguments are counterintuitive contradictory and without substance. You have condemned your self with them. You decry the waste and ineptitude of Harford County Public School Administrators. Yet, when asked to identify waste you demur. When asked to identify ineptitude you vacillate. You have cut a wide path with your discussions. While doing so you have disparaged HCPS administrators, demeaned your fellow teachers, and tarred them both with the brush of mediocrity. You have threatened residents of Harford County with the failure of their children, and most importantly you have failed students placed in your charge.

        Contrary to your opinion Education is an industry. You are a small piece of a multibillion dollar business. Witness the growing number of for profit Colleges and Universities offering online, and distance learning degrees. More and more people are recognizing that your view of education is not working. There will never be enough money to support your continued request and limited results. Private industry is waiting for the opportunity to move in. More parents are realizing that private industry may offer relief and a better educational opportunity for their children, while you offer nothing but platitude, bromides and excuses for your failures. If you are as talented as you believe, this would be a perfect opportunity for you to establish a private school, charge as much as you want, pay yourself well and laugh at the rest of us. Be aware however, that you will not be buffered and that parents paying your salary will not tolerate excuses.

        Your concepts are holding students back. Competition is about winning, within the rules. A full knowledge of the rules is a tool that can be used to advantage. Sportsmanship, respect for opponents, is an important element, but not the reason for the competition. If competition were not about winning it would be called knitting. How much does India spend on education, much less than the United States, yet they seem to be fielding brilliant students. Other rising nations as well. Their students understand that their future is dependent on winning. Each of those students has an understanding that if they don’t work, they don’t eat. If they get a well paying job they eat better. They compete to win at every step. The children of Harford County should be taught to compete at higher levels and recognize what it takes to win.

        If the consequences of your thoughts and activity were not so severe they would be entertaining. Almost a remake of the classic musical “Music Man”. You may remember it. Harold Hill, played by Robert Preston, convinced the citizens of River City, Iowa that their young men were headed for ruin and that their only salvation lay with musical instruments, band uniforms and music lessons that he would sell them. Obviously a scheme to frighten parents with the future of their children and extract their money. Hollywood wrote a happy ending because they could control everything that happened on the screen. Harold Hill knew and accepted that he was a scoundrel. He did not pretend to himself to be otherwise You are a cynic, who tells parents that your performance and thus their children’s opportunity can be improved, but will not because you judge your pay to be inadequate, you want more. Your scheme offers no happy ending. You sir are a fraud, a humbug and a pox on Harford County.

        Here is my formula for educational success in Harford County. You and any of your colleagues who subscribe to your prescription as a remedy to education malaise, leave at the end of your contract. Pursue your opportunities where your talents will be better appreciated and rewarded in what ever other area or parallel dimension you choose.. You no longer have license to infect the children of Harford County, and suppress their opportunities with your failures.

        Alternatively, if you would like to stay in Harford County, convince me that you can make a positive difference with real solutions. If I am convinced, then you may stay, at your present salary for one year. If you improve the education of children in Harford County, as I, and others I select to assist me, determine, then you and I can discuss your compensation.

        If you select the alternative, put your contract, your pension, your benefits , your work schedule, your talents on the bar. Stop blaming others for your failure, do the job you were hired to do, go all in, git r done, take the risk. If you really can solve the problems, and improve the situation, then you and I will discuss your reward. If there is no improvement, then you lose it all.

        Choose wisely.

        Good day to you, sir

        John P. Malllamo

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        • Porter says

          @JOHN P. MALLAMO But John, Ryan Burbey is for “the children”. He says if we don’t give in to his extortion “the children’ will be hurt and people and businesses will flee Harford County for Howard County and other liberal, progressive and more enlightened districts.

          I fear Ryan Burbey may be an oracle of doom and I don’t want to be left living in a dystopian Harford County if he’s right?

          Porter

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        • Ryan Burbey says

          Dear Mr. Malllamo,

          I have internally debated for several hours on whether to respond to you or not. I consider personal attacks to debase all argument. Were you Wyatt Earp or Judge Roy Bean or were Harford County the set of some spaghetti western, your demands might have some standing. Neither you, nor I, nor the “TEA PARTY” has the ability to make the decisions of which teachers stay or leave or what taxes are.
          I wrote an article expressing my well considered belief that schools in Harford County are underfunded and that Harford County residents could easily afford the modest in crease in taxes to fund increased school funding. I have conceded that there is waste in HCPS as there is waste in most if not all governmental entities. I am sorry that you and others who disagree with me are not able to present a counter argument without defaming me and every other teacher in Harford County, as well as, demeaning the efforts of our students and administrators, but I have not done this.
          I am not a fraud, a pox, or any other humbug. I am a teacher and a citizen. As such, I have the right, like any other to voice my concerns and my ideas. You have the right to disagree but when your speech is defamatory, it diminishes the validity of your arguments. Were I only to be as isolated in my bubble as you surmise, I never would have written the article in the first place.
          I have, as you know and have witnessed, spoken on several occasions advocated for my colleagues and for our students. I am not just looking for more money for personal gain. However trite it may seem, I am trying to help improve schools for kids by increasing awareness of the dramatic disparity in school funding between Harford County and other counties. The 300 dollars difference per student you identify amounts to over 11 million dollars each year.

          Ryan Burbey

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          • Porter says

            @RYAN BURBEY – You sir are disingenuous and a fraud. We know what you want…more money for you, under the guise of it being for “the children”.

            Porter

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  44. C says

    The United States for decades now have been underfunding the school system and it is no secret that the more money you put into a project the more potential it has to succeed. There are some terrible teachers in the school system, but if you get rid of them the real question becomes how do you replace them and with who? If you want to get to quality minds (teaches) in the classroom you need to pay more to keep them from going to the private sector which has less headaches. You can not make chicken soup from chick poop, but that is the mentality of the U.S and education.

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  45. says

    What part of TEA don’t you understand? We are taxed enough already! The Government needs to cut. They have been spending like drunken sailors for too long with our money. We give them suggestions but are ignored.

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    • Cdev says

      What suggestions have been ignored. Don’t just say eliminate waste. What specific waste would you identify. Don’t say cut the school budget or cut administrators. Which specific administrators would you cut.

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  46. Mrs. Pat McGrady says

    Mr. Mallamo did not insult you, Mr. Burbey, at all. He issued you a challenge and his points are valid. The blame and credit that you, sir, put on the funding of schools is not the main problem, as I see it.
    If HCPS is to succeed, the funds that it has now must be better managed. The situation that you address w/ the system needing more money will not fix the problems that the HCPS have and those problems could be addressed w/ the current budget.
    The students on the Rt. 40 corridor, the students in the northern end of the county, the students in the rest of the county, all have been blessed to live in America. They are able to attend school. The constitution does not mandate that all attend school, but that the choice of schools is granted by the states, counties and the parents. The key word is PARENTS.
    The parents must wake up and get the child to school. The parents must make sure the child has the necessary school supplies. The parents must converse w/ the teachers and ensure that the child is doing the required schoolwork. The parents need to ensure the child is not disruptive, disrespectful, dirty,(language and/or body), and is not ill, or contagious, I refer to colds, flu, viruses, not academically challenged or physically or mentally disabled.
    All of these areas of concern are not the teachers job. These concerns are parent/family based and ought to be addressed by the parents. If a child is causing problems for others in the class to learn, he/she ought to be reprimanded. Continuing mis-behaviors or disruptions ought to lead to more effective consequences than are in effect now. The parents ought to have to sit in the classrooms w/ the disruptive student, to ensure the student issues are addressed. Several of my friends children were suspended for not attending class. They missed class, the suspension added to how far behind they became, and eventually, the students failed that classes and were held back. Eventually, at age 16, the students quit. Does this help any of us? I don’t think so. W/t a hs diploma or a GED, the jobs available to them are few. Schools, and I am referring to all of the schools, k-12, need to address the real world problems. I am sorry that Susie didn’t win the spelling bee this time, but better luck next year, Go Stevie, Congrats on the spelling bee championship! The messages that I am hearing from the students I meet are oh well, I am still smart. I am still beautiful. I am still a winner. Try telling that to the BGE folks if your electric bill is late.
    We learn best when we see positive results. The wasteful spending w/n each school, why does Roye Williams have less than 55% capacity and Prospect Mill have over 103% capacity, and yet, which school has the most success w/ the student academic achievement?
    I disagree with the more money argument that more money will make better school. I do support teachers, both my husband and I taught before we had our own children, and I do understand the issues teachers face. I place the responsibility on the parents and the individual school admin., principals and vp’s, to ensure all students are able to learn, by getting the bad or misbehaving kids out of the classroom and having them learn by doing “hard time”, picking up trash, scrubbing toilets, washing walls, all of these options worked when I was in school and I have heard from older friends that these solutions worked when they were in school, too.
    Mr. Burbey, you stood up for your beliefs. Good job. Please try to understand the other beliefs that were proposed, too.
    Mr. Mallamo, you rock!
    The citizens of Harford county are over-taxed now. I do not think that the BOE is using the funds that they have efficiently and/or effectively. I do oppose a tax increase.

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    • Ryan Burbey says

      Dear Ms. McGrady,

      I thank you for expressing your beliefs without calling me a pox or a some other con artist. I do understand that people feel over taxed and frustrated with waste. However, the public must understand that the people who are squeezed most are students and teachers. I agree that we as a community should demand more accountability from our government entities but the attacks on teachers are unwarranted. I agree that reforms are needed but everyone should understand that teachers currently do no make those decisions.
      After writing this article, I have been called a fraud and a liar. I have been demonized as falsely representing myself as “for the children” when all I want is a raise. I can take this kind of pressure it is fine, but how do you think the average teacher feels when they look at the posts on this site. How do you think the teachers in years 1-5 who have not seen any of their promised salary steps? How do you think the prospective teachers around the state who happen upon these kind of comments feel?
      I am not for or against raising taxes. I am for generating more funds for education and yes I am for paying teachers the contractually agreed wages they were promised. I don’t think it is anyone’s best interest for teachers to constantly be wondering if they can make their bills or working two jobs just to get by. Immediately after I post this I am sure others will say “Look he’s just after a raise.” Each person will need to judge on their own. I can tell you as I have said over and over, our schools are under-funded and under-supported. If we are truly to change for the better, our community needs to rally around its schools and teachers not decry them. While the US constitution does not guarantee a free public education for all, it is considered by most to be the foundation of our democracy. The constitution of the state of MD does guarantee that schools are funded by taxes. Likewise, state laws mandate children attend school. We as a community need to do everything we can to make our schools the best we can. It is for the children but equally it is for every member of our community.
      Thank you again for posting your views without defamatory rhetoric.

      Ryan Burbey

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      • Porter says

        @RYAN BURBEY Quit your carping! You have a great gig with job security, fantastic health care, summers and all holidays off and a pension, yet you have the audacity to complain while the private sector suffers under one of the worst recessions in modern history.

        You are for your salary increasing first and foremost, for maintaining the status quo of our ineffective education system, perpetuating the power of teacher’s unions and for increasing the tax burden on taxpayers.

        Porter

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  47. Phil Dirt says

    If it’s all about the children, children are our future, children bla bla bla children, it’s not all about raises, then why won’t the union propose an increase in taxes to fund a sharp increase in school spending in all areas but salaries and benefits?

    It would then truly and obviously be all about the children, and the teachers could go home from work every day knowing that they are making a big difference in the lives and futures of these children, and in the future of our country as well.

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  48. Porter says

    @RYAN BURBEY I had no idea that the problems with the US education system are Social Justice, underpaid teachers, and that we are not more like Finland, a country with fewer people than Maryland.

    I get it Ryan you are more than a union tool seeking increased wages/compensation at the expense of taxpayers, you are a hell bent on promoting a liberal/progressive agenda.

    Did I mention before that you are disingenuous and a fraud, yes I did.

    Porter

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