Click here to go to the USA Today article.
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
It's beginning to look like the squabbling children in Washington may not reach an agreement on increasing the debt ceiling, and the media is starting to pay attention to the practical consequences of their lack of action.
This morning's USA Today carried an article titled "Debt limit delay would jeopardize Social Security payments." The article references a study from the Bipartisan Policy Center which says that without an increase in the debt ceiling "...in August, the government could not afford to meet 44% of its obligations."
In practical terms, they list two possible scenarios to deal with this situation:
1) "If Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment benefits, payments to defense contractors and interest payments on Treasury bonds were [paid], that would be all the government could afford for the month. No money for troops or veterans. No tax refunds. No food stamps or welfare. No federal salaries or benefits.
2) "Want to protect the social safety net? That would be possible — but only if Treasury stopped paying defense contractors, jeopardizing national security. Plus virtually every federal agency and employee."
"The Bipartisan Policy Center studied Treasury Department receipts and spending for August 2009 and 2010 and found that the government likely would not have enough revenue to make the full $23 billion payment to Social Security recipients due Aug. 3. That's the first Wednesday of the month, when a majority of Social Security and Supplemental Security Income checks go out."
The article goes on to quote two Republicans concerning the seriousness of this issue.
1) "We should be honest with ourselves what this would be like, and the answer is it would be chaotic," said Jay Powell, a former top Treasury official in President George H.W. Bush's administration. "There is no way to avoid really serious pain."
2)"The effect on the country, said former Republican senator Pete Domenici of New Mexico, would be "irretrievable."
Click here to go to the USA Today article.
Click here to go to the USA Today article.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
NYSUT posted a letter to the editor from the Albany Times-Union on its Facebook page. (Yes, EVERYBODY these days has a Facebook page!) The letter was pro-teacher and referred to an earlier anti-teacher letter. With a little searching I found that letter which referred to an even earlier item from a retired professor of political science from City College of NY. Here are the items in order, with the earliest first:
It's one of those "omnibus" message days:
1) The Retiree Council No. 4 newsletter (The Grapevine) was sent to NYSUT yesterday for printing and mailing. You can see a copy TODAY online!
The biggest complaint about the newsletter is that it often arrives just a few days before--or sometimes AFTER-- events announced in the newsletter. That's because, although NYSUT tries to print it within 10 days of receiving it from us, they then send it out via bulk mail. This often takes it east to Massachusetts where it might sit for weeks until there is enough bulk mail headed to the western southerntier counties of NY to fill a truck.
Through the RC4 website, you can have same-day access to the newsletter. Our editor, Mary Raymond, emailed the Summer 2011 newsletter to NYSUT last evening. This morning you can find it on the RC4 website. Just go to the RC4 website, at www.nysutrc4.org and you will find a link to a pdf version of the newsletter at the top of the page, right under the menu bar.
2) Ever wonder what things would be like without collective bargaining? AFL-CIO put together a series of 3 short videos which take a humorous look at what the differences would be. Here are the links to these videos. (To make sense, please view them in order:)
3) After reading again and again how "easy" it is to be a teacher, here's something from a parent who understands:
Next time someone tells you that tenure for K-12 teachers means having a guarantee of a lifetime job, refer them to this article from this morning's Buffalo News:
We're a year-and-a-half from a presidential election, and the political "silly season" is about to kick off. Folks on both sides will be making statements about "hot button" issues such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Monday's GOP debate is a good example.
Mitt Romney said: "Obamacare takes $500 billion out of Medicare and funds Obamacare."
Michelle Backmann expanded on that theme: "Senior citizens get this more than any other segment of our population, because they know in Obamacare the president of the United States took away $500 billion -- a half-trillion dollars -- out of Medicare, shifted it to Obamacare to pay for younger people. And it's senior citizens who have the most to lose in Obamacare."
Each of these statements took only a few seconds to utter. Perfect for inclusion in a TV ad. After the debate, the Washington Post fact-checked these statements and reached the following conclusions:
"Romney’s statement... fall(s) in the category of technically correct but misleading. It’s rather rich for Republicans to complain about $500 billion in supposed cuts to Medicare that they themselves would retain, even under the cover of helping Medicare."
" Bachmann’s statement is further off the mark because of her assertion that seniors would suffer at the hands of the youth. The Medicare savings in the health care law are aimed at providers, not seniors; meanwhile seniors stand to benefit from aspects of the health care law that Republicans want to repeal. On top of that, people younger than 55 might face significantly higher premiums under the GOP plan for Medicare."
Now here's the reason for this message. Before reaching the above conclusions, it took 20 paragraphs of explanation! You can read whole thing at this link:
If you're the opposing party, try to boil that explanation down into a 30-second sound bite for a TV ad!
Let's not just pick on the Republicans. Politicians of all parties will do the same thing. Unfortunately, most voters do not follow politics or stay informed on the issues.
Most retirees are tuned in to the importance of Medicare and Social Security for our financial well-being. Retirees are also coming to recognize that Medicaid is a program which directly touches their lives since about one-half of Medicaid dollars go to pay for nursing home care.
I'll try to keep my ear to the ground on these issues, and others important to retirees, so that we can take advantage of the folks who do the hard work of fact-checking on both sides.
1) Anyone still laboring under the delusion that the Buffalo News is a left-wing, "lamestream" media friend of labor should have a look at the lead editorial in today's edition. "Standing up to teachers" is the title. Here's the link:
2) Paul Krugman talks about Medicare in his NY Times column today, and proves that facts are indeed interesting. He discusses Sen. Lieberman's proposal last week to raise the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67. Lieberman claims that this will "save Medicare."
Krugman points out that "our goal shouldn’t be to 'save Medicare,' whatever that means. It should be to ensure that Americans get the health care they need, at a cost the nation can afford."
He goes on to point out that Medicare saves a lot of money when compared to private insurance.
"... adjusting for overall inflation, Medicare spending per beneficiary rose more than 400 percent from 1969 to 2009. But inflation-adjusted premiums on private health insurance rose more than 700 percent over the same period. So while it’s true that Medicare has done an inadequate job of controlling costs, the private sector has done much worse. And if we deny Medicare to 65- and 66-year-olds, we’ll be forcing them to get private insurance — if they can — that will cost much more than it would have cost to provide the same coverage through Medicare."
It should be pointed out that Medicare insures the oldest and sickest citizens, while many under private sector plans are younger and healthier.
"Indeed, as the economist (and former Reagan adviser) Bruce Bartlett points out, high U.S. private spending on health care, compared with spending in other advanced countries, just about wipes out any benefit we might receive from our relatively low tax burden. So where’s the gain from pushing seniors out of an admittedly expensive system, Medicare, into even more expensive private health insurance?"
Here's the link to his complete column:
3) Here's today's smile. Suppose you bought a house, and paid cash. Then a few months later Bank of America tried to foreclose on your home. Then you went to court to prove that you didn't owe Bank of America any money. The court agreed and assessed your legal fees against Bank of America. Then you waited months, but the bank didn't pay up. What would you do?
If you haven't heard of this story, you'll love it. It would make a great movie! Here's the link (including video):
Every so often, I receive comments from you based on my messages. After the "Cuomo did it today" message of a few days ago, I received the following email: "Is it time for a campaign of letter writing to explain these details? To legislators, newspapers, Cuomo, etc.?" That started me thinking about the business of writing letters.
1) All the people I have ever known with knowledge of the inner workings of a politician's office have told me that an actual letter--the kind that's printed on paper and snail-mailed with a stamp--carries much more weight than an email. Emails are quick and dirty. You can copy and paste and off it goes. Legislators often receive hundreds of emails with exactly the same wording, and these don't carry nearly the impact of actual letters. So, if you're going to take the time to communicate with a legislator or administration official (at any level), write it, print it, put it in an envelope and mail it.
2) Facts are lovely things. Opinions are nice, but back them up with verifiable facts. Facts are often the trump card to opinions. Lots of people really believe that public-sector workers earn more than their private-sector counterparts. When you show them the actual numbers that prove that is not true, you usually win the argument.
Usually, but not always. There is research that shows that people with deeply held beliefs, when presented with facts that show their beliefs to be incorrect, actually believe more strongly! The research goes on to suggest that this "backfire" effect is more pronounced with conservatives because their views may be more rigidly held than with liberals. (Click here for the Washington Post article describing this research.) That's OK. You're not trying to reach the person who is hoarding bullets because they believe that the government will outlaw guns any day now. You're trying to reach the "low information" person who may believe something just because "everybody else" believes it, or because they heard a "talking head" on radio or TV say it.
Where do you get the facts you need. Have a look at the Retiree Council No. 4 website (www.nysutrc4.org). We've posted lots of helpful facts there. If you've been saving my messages, they contain lots of facts. (If you haven't been saving them, I'm working on a way you can retrieve them when needed, but that's another topic for another day.) There's also Google. Just remember that the internet does not have an editor or a fact-checker. Just because you find something on a website does not make it true. Consider the source when looking at facts, or things that claim to be factual.
3) All salesmen know that you need to "anticipate the objection." What fault might someone find in your argument. This is particularly important when writing a "letter to the editor" since most publications limit how often your letters may appear, and this means that you will not be able to reply to another reader's "gotcha" in a timely manner.
Here's an example of a letter that anticipates the objection, and drops in a few facts along the way:
September 4, 2010
In his recent “Publisher’s Notebook,” John D’Agostino doesn’t let verifiable facts get in the way of a good rant.
He states that California is in serious trouble because they have seriously underfunded their public pension obligations. No argument here. Some reports have this underfunding at several hundred billion dollars. Mr. D’Agostino then states: “Without question, Schwarzneggers's crisis is similar to the one in our state.” That is where he and the facts diverge.
By law, New York State’s public pension systems, unlike those in many states such as California, are fully funded. Some say that being “fully funded” is based on an unrealistic assumption of an 8% rate of return on investments. According to the National Association of State Retirement Administrators, since 1985, a period including three economic recessions and four years when median public pension fund investment returns were negative (including 2008), the median public pension plan rate of return was 9.25% – or 1.25% greater than the 8% rate labeled as "unrealistic" by critics.
Critics complain that retirement costs to localities and school districts are skyrocketing, and will bankrupt them. Employer contribution rates for the New York State Teachers’ Retirement System, one of the two largest public retirement systems in our state, are a matter of public record. In the 1980’s school districts paid an average 21% of salaries as a retirement cost. In the 1990’s that figure dropped to 5.7%, and in the first decade of this century school districts contributed an average of 4.4%.
No one will argue that New York State has not managed its fiscal affairs in a boneheaded manner. New York taxpayers should know, however, that there are no “underfunding” monsters hiding in the public pension system to cause them alarm.
4) Finally, there is the matter of sensitivity. I'm sure that you have noticed that there is a world of economic hurt abroad in the land. Unemployment is high, it now takes about 40 weeks for the average job-seeker to find work (twice the historical average) and many--including teachers--are underemployed at jobs far below their skill levels. Things aren't really fair for teachers these days, but they are equally unfair for the person who has played by the rules yet seen their economic security slip away through no fault of their own because their job has been outsourced. Read you letter through the eyes of others before sending.
OK, then, start writing!
RC4 newsletter editor, Mary Raymond, forwarded an email from Jim and Jeanette Maxim called "The Blueberry Story." Whenever I receive something like this, I Google it and/or check it out at Snopes.com to see if it's for real.
Well, not only is this story "for real," I came across a YouTube video of Jamie Vollmer--the businessman who told the story originally--recounting "The Blueberry Story." It runs a little over 7 minutes, and is worth watching. For some reason, teachers seem to love this story!
From today's NY Times:
"Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, joining a parade of officials from across the country who are seeking to rein in spending by limiting public employees’ pensions, proposed Wednesday to broadly limit retirement benefits for new city and state workers in New York."
"Mr. Cuomo said New York State and New York City simply could no longer afford to offer new employees the generous benefits their predecessors received."
"Among the most significant changes the governor proposes is to raise the minimum retirement age to 65 from 62 for state workers, and to 65 from 57 for teachers."
“The numbers speak for themselves — the pension system as we know it is unsustainable,”the governor said in a statement."
The Cuomo plan would require a 6% employee contribution instead of the current 3%. It would also end early retirement packages.
Now, here come the paragraphs that hike my blood pressure:
"Pensions for new workers would still be enviable by the standards of the private sector, and Mr. Cuomo is not going as far as he has talked about in the past, when he raised the idea of shifting from a traditional pension to a defined contribution plan, similar to the 401(k)’sthat have proliferated in the private sector."
"Pension costs have been soaring. In New York City, costs have jumped to $8.4 billion a year from $1.1 billion in 2001, according to the governor’s office. For the state and other local governments, pension costs have risen to $6.6 billion, from $368 million in 2001."
Let's take those last 2 paragraphs, one at a time:
1) Time Magazine ran a cover story in October, 2009 titled "Why It's Time to Retire the 401k." In the story, they said: "The tax-deferred 401(k) plan, and others like it, such as the 403(b) and the IRA, have become our nation's go-to retirement piggy bank. Invented nearly 30 years ago as an executive perk — one more way to dodge Uncle Sam — the 401(k) was never meant to replace the employer-guaranteed pension fund, supplemented by Social Security, as the cornerstone of our nation's retirement system. But propelled by a combination of companies looking to cut costs and consumers who wanted control of their retirement destiny, that's exactly what happened."
As I said in a recent message, most people will need to amass about $2 million in their 401k to fund a decent retirement. Ask your kids what they have in their 401k, and what they see as the chances they will eventually have $2 million. Remember that in 2009 the average 401k account held about $45,000, and 46% of all 401k's held less than $10,000.
You can find more on 401k's at our "pension" page: http://www.nysutrc4.org/pension.html
2) This is one I addressed in a recent message. Here's what I said:
Put that statement in the hands of the know-nothing neighbor or relative who already thinks retired teachers have such a sweet deal and see what happens the next time you meet.
Is it true? Yes. But, you need to understand the background.
As the late NYSTRS board member, Mike Corn, explained to various retiree groups during the past year. the "employer contribution rate (ECR)" is based on a rolling 5-year average of the performance of the NYSTRS investments. When the market is doing well, school boards are required to put in less money. When they perform poorly, the school boards put in more money.
It happens that the employer contribution rate was about to reach the lowest it had ever been as this century dawned. Here are the ECR's as a percentage of salary:
1992-93 8.00 %
2006-2007 8.60 %
2011-2012 11.11% (estimated)
Click here to go to our "pension" page and find a complete table going back to 1979. You will find that during the decade of the 1980's the ECR averaged over 20%, while during the 1990's the average was around 8%.
So, if divide the 2010-2011 rate of 8.62% by the 2001-2002 rate of 0.36% you get about 24. So it is true to say that teacher pension costs have increased by 2400% from 2001 to 2011. Are teacher pension costs exploding out of control. Hardly. Just look at the historical figures.
Since the market's low point in 2008, the Dow is back up above 14,000 and that moving 5-year performance average will not only include the uptick since 2008 but will, by 2013, drop out the losses from the beginning of the great recession. It would be reasonable to expect the ECR to head downward when this happens.
Just be ready for the friend or relative who accosts you at the supermarket with this true, but very misleading statistic.
Unfortunately, it seems that politicians--including our Democratic governor--are very good at misleading the low-information voter with statistics!
Here's the link to the complete Times article:
I've been quiet for a few days, with good reason: I was in Albany attending the NYSUT Journalism Conference, and picking up the "Best Website" award for the Retiree Council No. 4 website (www.nysutrc4.org) for retiree units our size.
While my wife and I were sitting in our hotel room Saturday evening, I was working my way through the cable channels and stumbled upon the Suze Orman Show on CNBC. Suze is a best-selling money guru, and she was doing her "How Am I Doing?" segment where someone discloses their finances, then Suze gives them a grade of A-F.
The women who was being interviewed was in her 40's. She had just sold her home and was living with her sister. She had no debt of any kind. She had income of about $3500/month, but her monthly expenses were only around $2000/month. She had always had a goal of retiring at the age of 58. (She could give no specific reason for 58, it was just a number that she had always had in mind as a retirement goal.)
When Suze asked the woman to grade her financial performance, she gave herself an A-. Suze thought it deserved an F. And here's where my mouth began to drop open.
Suze explained to the woman that, if she kept on her current path, she would have amassed $1.2 million by the time she reached the age of 58. That seemed pretty good to me. But Suze explained that if she were to retire at 58, she would lose many of the benefits she was enjoying by living on a college campus and, apparently, working for the college. She would need to pick up her health insurance, for example, as she would be too young for Medicare.
Suze calculated that the woman's monthly expenses after retiring would be about $5000/month, and explained that the income from $1.2 million would not even cover those expenses. (This was the point where my wife chimed in: "Thank God for pensions!")
Suze told the woman that she would need to work until age 67 when she would have saved $2.1 million. That would give her an income of a little more than $7000/month. Enough to cover expenses and a bit more.
Do you feel a little bit better about having a NYS teacher pension? I sure do!
Then I thought about our kids. Yours and mine. We seem to be determined that the "defined benefit" pension system will disappear, to be replaced by the "defined contribution" --or 401K--type of retirement plan. In 2009, when Time Magazine did a cover story called "Why It's Time to Retire the 401K," only 21% of American workers were covered by a traditional defined benefit pension plan.
Remember, the woman Suze Orman advised needed $2.1 million to cover monthly expenses of $5000. Here's a paragraph from the Time story:
"The average 401(k) has a balance of $45,519. That's not retirement. That's two years of college. Even worse, 46% of all 401(k) accounts have less than $10,000. Today, just 21% of all U.S. workers are covered by traditional pensions, and the number shrinks every year. "The time may have come to consider returning 401(k) plans to their original position as a third tier of retirement planning, behind pensions and Social Security," says Alicia Munnell, who heads the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. "They should not be the thing we rely on for retirement security." And the government seems to agree. This summer, the Government Accountability Office concluded, "If no action is taken, a considerable number of Americans face the prospect of a reduced standard of living in retirement." That's what is known as an understatement."
Even if they're really good-and/or lucky--with their investments, it's difficult to see how our kids will wind up with $2 million in their 401K's. It's even more difficult for those who are out of work for any length of time. Not only are they not contributing to their plans, but many will be forced to raid their retirement savings--even in the face of penalties--to put food on the table.
And that, friends, is why we're fighting so damned hard to protect the NYS teacher pension system.
There's more from the Time story on the "pension" page of the RC4 website. The link is
he Washington Post's Harold Meyerson revisited our favorite states this morning to see how their new Republican governors were making out. He found that they "...seem to be committing political hara-kiri in one statehouse after the next. Republican governors who took office this year or last ...have approval ratings that we normally associate with strains of bacteria."
"In Florida, only 29 percent of voters told the Quinnipiac pollsters last week that they approved of Gov. Rick Scott’s five-month tenure in office, during which Scott has endeavored to slash business taxes — already among the nation’s lowest — while also reducing spending on schools and cutting care for the developmentally disabled. He also tried to end unions’ ability to collect dues through an automatic paycheck deduction (a proposal that lost when some Cuban American Republican state senators opposed it on the grounds that they detected a whiff of Fidel Castro’s suppression of independent unions). A stunning 57 percent of Floridians disapprove of Scott, and by a margin of 54 percent to 29 percent, the state’s voters deem the budget that Scott and the Republican-controlled legislature enacted to be “unfair” to people like them."
"Things are looking just as bad for the GOP’s new crop of Midwestern governors. In Wisconsin, Scott Walker, whose proposal to curtail collective bargaining for public employees triggered a nationally watched eruption of protest, would now lose in a recall election to either of two Democrats: former senator Russ Feingold, whom he trails by 10 percentage points (52 percent to 42 percent, in a survey by Public Policy Polling released last week), and former Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett (whom he defeated for governor just last November) by a margin of 50 percent to 43 percent."
"Ohio Gov. John Kasich, unlike Walker and Scott, is a seasoned political veteran, but in his first months as governor he has overreached as drastically as they did. In another Public Policy Polling survey last week, Kasich’s approval rating was a bargain-basement 33 percent, while his disapproval rating had risen to 56 percent. Voters in the PPP Ohio poll were asked if they intended to support the referendum likely to appear on this November’s ballot that would repeal the Kasich-backed law sharply limiting collective bargaining rights for public employees. Ohioans said, by a 55 to 35 percent margin, that they’d vote to repeal it."
" In Michigan, Gov. Rick Snyder had a 33 percent approval rating, against a 60 percent disapproval rating, in a May survey that also found that 71 percent of Michigan voters thought poorly of his budget cuts to public schools, and more than 60 percent opposed his proposed tax reductions on business. A May survey of New Jersey voters by Fairleigh Dickinson University pollsters found that Gov. Chris Christie’s favorables had slumped to 40 percent, while his unfavorables had risen to 60 percent."
"Admittedly, it’s a tough time to be a governor, in an economy in which being a governor means having to whack some popular programs. But the Democratic governors of the nation’s two biggest blue states — California’s Jerry Brown and New York’s Andrew Cuomo — both have approval ratings higher than their disapprovals..... In contrast to their GOP counterparts, neither Cuomo nor Brown has proposed stripping public employees of meaningful union representation, though both have sought and obtained cutbacks to public programs. "
"But the Republican governors ... have pursued a more radical course that sharply disadvantages most Americans. Even worse, they have sought to enact their agendas without warning their constituents. Republicans did not run last year on a platform of ending collective bargaining, slashing school budgets and gutting Medicare — in essence, favoring society’s most powerful at the expense of everyone else — yet that’s precisely what they’ve done since gaining power. That’s not merely bad policy; it’s bad faith ... " [Emphasis mine.]
Here's the link to Meyerson's complete column:
The paragraph I sent as a "quick quiz" comes from a paper written by Marc Tucker of the National Center for Education and the Economy titled "Standing on the Shoulders of Giants." "The paper contrasts the approaches taken by five high performing (but quite different) entities -- Toronto, Japan, Finland, Shanghai and Singapore -- with what we have been doing here." John Merrow, education correspondent for the PBS Newshour, wrote a column summarizing Tucker's paper:
"The essential message: those places aren't doing any of the stuff we have focused on -- charter schools, alternate certification, small classes and pay for performance, to name a few of our 'magic bullets.' Instead, they have developed comprehensive systems: their teachers are drawn from the top of the class, are trained carefully and, if hired, are paid like other professionals. They spend more on the children who are the toughest to educate, they diagnose and intervene at the first sign of trouble, they expect their best teachers to work in the toughest schools, and they expect all students to achieve at high levels. They do not rely heavily on machine-scored multiple choice tests but are inclined to trust and respect the judgements of teachers. Their curriculum is coherent across the system, which eliminates problems created by students moving around."
"By contrast, think about our approach: Here schools of education accept a high percentage of applicants, the training is not demanding, we pay poor starting salaries and provide little assistance to beginning teachers, and the best teachers invariably migrate to the richer districts. The result is a system-wide attrition rate of 40 percent in the first five years (but that keeps the teacher-training institutions full!) Our curricula are out of sync and often incoherent, and we tend to spend more on the richest kids, not the neediest ones. Because we (perhaps appropriately) do not trust the poorly trained and under-qualified teachers we've hired, we spend money on 'teacher-proof' curricula and evaluate students using test scores and more test scores."
"In the U.S. we don't have one system, or even 50 systems. We believe in these aforementioned magic bullets, whether it's charter schools, alternative certification, small classes, pay-for-performance or Teach for America. The others have comprehensive systems that have evolved over years. They benchmark carefully and make changes as necessary to remain competitive."
"The paper was presented on Tuesday in Washington before an audience of policy wonks and others. Education Secretary Arne Duncan addressed the group, and that was completely appropriate because he did much to instigate these comparisons and contrasts when he (and the NEA) arranged for the first-ever Education Summit of high-achieving nations. That was held in New York earlier this year in conjunction with WNET's "Celebration of Teachers." (Cynics noted -- accurately -- that the ONLY way the U.S. could participate in a summit of high-achieving nations was to host it, but so what?)"
"Reporters like me weren't allowed to attend the deliberations, but I have been told by several people who were on hand that it was a wake-up call for Duncan and his staff to learn that no other country was doing what we are betting on." [Emphasis mine.]
Here's the link to Merrow's column (which contains a link to the full paper):
Now the answer to the quiz. The paragraph I sent is near the end of the paper, and reads like this:
"Canada, like many of the other top performers, has moved the preparation of its teachers into the universities. In order to teach in Ontario schools, high school graduates must complete a degree program in the subject they wish to teach and another degree program lasting at least a year in professional education. This includes elementary school teachers, who must specialize in one or two subjects in the elementary curriculum, such as English, history, science or mathematics. Secondary school teachers must have academic credentials in at least two subjects, such as English and history, or music and mathematics. Candidates who think they might want to be a subject specialist must take an honors degree. High school students must have 3.2 to 3.3 grade point averages on a scale of four to get into the institutions offering the first of these two degrees. There are fewer universities per capita than in the United States and the universities in which teachers are trained have a higher status than their opposite numbers in the United States. Teachers in Canada are better paid than American teachers."
There's more in this paper that's worth some attention. That's later.