MN school district gives teachers paid time to write recommendations

<p>A Minnesota school district has reached agreement with their teachers union to give teachers one paid day off (need 12 student requests to qualify) and a max of 2 paid days to write college recommendations.</p>

<p>Go Minnesota. What a great idea.</p>

<p>This is the worst thing I've ever heard. Whoever is responsible for this decision should be fired!!!</p>

<p>(This doesn't represent my views, but I wanted to inject a little controversy into this so it doesn't die quickly).</p>

<p>I will continue writing recommendation letters without compensation for the benefit of my students, but I do think this is fair. Honestly, I write a lot of letters, which take up a lot of time and rarely do I ever receive a thank you letter in return. Personally, I don't want any thank you gifts and I really don't want to get paid to do it, but a little thank you note from the student would be nice.</p>

<p>I think it's a good idea but I am concerned that it might corrupt the recommendation letter process. While most teachers would never consider abusing it, it is possible for some to insist on getting students to file unnecessary or unwanted requests for letters of recommendations in order to get essentially a free vacation on the backs of the Minnesota taxpayers. I hope there are safeguards in place to prevent such a thing from happening; God knows that state can't afford to be defrauded anymore.</p>

<p>This is in the city of Edina, which has the best public schools overall in the state and thus has a higher percentage of students that apply to more selective schools - and to more schools per student - compared to many districts in MN where large numbers of students go to state schools which typically do not even require teacher recommendations. And I'm guessing the taxpayers in Edina can better afford the extra cost to their district than other districts could (I certainly can't afford to live there ;))</p>

<p>our teachers spend winter break writing scores of letters...they may be clueless about college admissions but the poor things are writing letters..usually after the Christmas Holiday week in the final days before New Years....they have ZERO time to do this during school days and I have long advocated that time be allotted. By the way, only 50% of our kids graduate from high school, and even fewer apply to college</p>

<p>Great. They have a "no fire" job that requires less than 7 hours a day with 45 days paid vacation and 20 paid vacation days. What's next? Millage payments for their commute? This abusive gravy train, which comes at taxpayers expense, that a lot of public employees enjoy needs to be derailed. And it is happening.</p>

<p>I'd like to see some standard for those letters now that they are getting some time to write them. One thing about private prep schools is that those teachers are well known for writing thorough, thoughtful and well regarded recommendations. Colleges that put a lot of weight on them are very upfront in saying that those teachers as a group along with the counselors write the best letters. Some public school recs are truly the pits. If these teachers are getting some benefits now in writing these letters, which by the way, these prep school teacher do NOT get, and these teachers are also paid far less than most public high school teachers, I hope some standards are imposed. I am not impressed with the lack of participation, over all, among public school teachers in the student events or the quality of recs and grading papers. Not all of them, mind you, but in general. Big difference. And the pay and time are not the reasons for the difference in quality.</p>

<p>I think cptofthehouse has good points to make. The level of quality in the letters is very questionable where we live where few teachers have heard of many colleges and fewer understand the necessity of clarity and examples in a letter of recommendation. Valid point...I am also amazed by the general disconnect between high school teachers and awareness of college courses and demands that are relevant to today's world.</p>

<p>"I'd like to see some standard for those letters now that they are getting some time to write them. One thing about private prep schools is that those teachers are well known for writing thorough, thoughtful and well regarded recommendations. Colleges that put a lot of weight on them are very upfront in saying that those teachers as a group along with the counselors write the best letters. Some public school recs are truly the pits. If these teachers are getting some benefits now in writing these letters, which by the way, these prep school teacher do NOT get, and these teachers are also paid far less than most public high school teachers, I hope some standards are imposed. I am not impressed with the lack of participation, over all, among public school teachers in the student events or the quality of recs and grading papers. Not all of them, mind you, but in general. Big difference. And the pay and time are not the reasons for the difference in quality."</p>

<p>The same could be desired about the quality of teaching but there are no standards there. </p>

<p>"Great. They have a "no fire" job that requires less than 7 hours a day with 45 days paid vacation and 20 paid vacation days. What's next? Millage payments for their commute? This abusive gravy train, which comes at taxpayers expense, that a lot of public employees enjoy needs to be derailed. And it is happening."</p>

<p>This is a pretty minor injury when you compare it to everything else you listed. Hell it's barley a scratch to the taxpayer at all. </p>

<p>I would like to find out what idiot in Minnesota decided it was a better idea to institute this than to get rid of requirements of recommendations letters for Minnesota public schools, but maybe that was an issue of jurisdiction?</p>

<p>The quality of some of those letters is laughable. My son got a "bad" reference from his math teacher in middle school. The thing was so unreadable that it was actually a good reflection on my son that he wanted to get away from such teachers. I saw the thing and was appalled. This is supposed to be a "good" school district. I think those letters need to be examined not for the opinions expressed of the student but on the quality of the writing and the insightfulness of the recs.</p>

<p>My S received an extremely well written recommendation from his AP Chem teacher/science league coach. My S had so/so stats; the recommendation was totally honest yet made my S seem like a strong candidate with great potential. I really think it was this letter that tipped the scales on some of his admissions.</p>

<p>It's obvious the teacher spent a lot of time crafting such a thoughtful, comprehensive letter, and I think it would be great for teachers to get time to do this on behalf of students, instead of on their own time.</p>

<p>I didn't see all of my kids' rec letters (as is right), but some teachers chose to share. The letters that I saw reflected at least an hour or two's worth of quality writing and reflection about my children.<br>
While there is room for abuse, I like that some districts are at least thinking about how to compensate the (small number of) teachers who write a large number of recs.</p>

<p>Didn't say ALL public school teachers. The adcoms who are the ones who see the whole picture are the ones who say that those recs stink for the most part. There are jokes about them in many adcom guides. Pitiful, in my opinion. And why should these public school teachers paid so much more than most prep school teachers, a lot more, get time off to write those recs? The prep school teachers don't get that bene. You think this is a bene all teachers should get, or that it is part of their job? I think it is part of the job.</p>

<p>This is completely reasonable. I know several teachers who use one or two of their own days (out of the 11 or 12 they get a school year) to stay home and write thoughtful letters. Good for Edina. In our high school too, probably fifteen teachers each write two dozen or more recommendations. Kids applying to state schools largely don't need them, but most of the others do, and the teachers who teach the junior and senior level courses are the ones who have to do the most.</p>

<p>here is the actual article from the Minneapolis Star Tribune:</p>

<p>
[quote]
Edina teachers who pen praise get paid days off
ALLIE SHAH, Star Tribune</p>

<p>The new contract for teachers in Edina includes a rare perk that could make them the envy of colleagues across the state: paid time off for those who are prolific at writing college recommendation letters.</p>

<p>Compensating teachers for their time spent writing 12 or more recommendation letters for students applying to college has been standard practice in the Edina public schools for years, district officials say.</p>

<p>It wasn't until this spring, however, that it became a part of the teachers' contract: up to two days off, depending on how many letters are written.</p>

<p>As competition for admission into the best colleges heats up, so has demand for sterling endorsements from teachers. That creates more work for teachers everywhere to ensure their students get a shot at top colleges.</p>

<p>That situation is compounded in Edina, teachers and school leaders say, because many students apply to multiple schools.</p>

<p>"Teachers of juniors can write 40, 50, 60 recommendations," said Van Anderson, an English teacher at Edina High School and president of Education Minnesota/Edina, the local union. "I mean, it's a lot."</p>

<p>Students applying to the country's elite colleges and universities need a letter that's tailored to that particular school, said Charlie Kyte, executive director of the Minnesota Association of School Administrators.</p>

<p>"A teacher can't say, 'Here's a letter, send it in to five places,'" he said. "If you're applying to Harvard or Yale, you have to have a top-notch letter of recommendation."</p>

<p>He said he hasn't heard of another district with a provision like Edina's in its teachers contract. Nor have the folks at Education Minnesota, the state teachers union.</p>

<p>It surfaced during contract negotiations this year, when teachers' claims of increased workloads were among the main reasons they and district leaders were at an impasse for so long.</p>

<p>Contract makes it a benefit</p>

<p>Edina was one of the last metro area districts to settle its teachers contract, losing $220,000 in state funding after missing the Jan. 15 state deadline.</p>

<p>Teachers rejected two contract offers before accepting one in March that included language that compensates teachers for taking time to write the all-important letters of recommendation.</p>

<p>"That's one of the reasons teachers felt the district was recognizing the need for workload issues," Anderson said.</p>

<p>The contract comps teachers one day for a minimum of 12 students who request college recommendations. The maximum time off granted, no matter how many letters a teacher writes, is two days per school year.</p>

<p>"Putting it in the contract makes it a benefit for teachers that's contractual, not just a matter of board policy," Anderson said.</p>

<p>In recent years, the practice fell under the school board's jurisdiction. Boards can change and policies can change, but a contract can change only through negotiation.</p>

<p>Gwen Jackson, director of human resources for Edina public schools, said before the college recommendations item was added to the contract, teachers had to find out about the time-off perk through word of mouth or memos.</p>

<p>"We're trying to be more transparent," Jackson said.</p>

<p>Crafting a winning letter takes time, Anderson said. It also takes care.</p>

<p>"Teachers certainly take them seriously, because they want to reflect as accurately and positively on their students' performance as they can," he said.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>So do private school teachers for less money, no extra time or pay and they do a much, much better job overall.</p>

<p>^^Yes, but they have to put up with a lot less flack overall, too. Some of those prep schools (I went to one of them, and it's always astounding to return as an alumna), it's like teaching in heaven. I volunteer in a few inner-city schools as a mentor, and the facilities are downright oppressive, in some cases.</p>

<p>
[quote]
So do private school teachers for less money, no extra time or pay and they do a much, much better job overall.

[/quote]
My average prep school class was 12 to 15 kids. The public school teachers have twice that load. Multiply times two the amount of homework to correct, papers to read and paperwork to fill out (don't forget IEPs etc) and public school teachers are already doing much more work outside the classroom than private school teachers. This just equalizes the playing field a tiny bit.</p>