We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Wednesday, April 13. 2011
They know voters are opposed, so to heck with them. Some civics lesson for our children, huh?
From today's Sacramento Bee:
BTW, my friend Dan Blatt reminds us of another disdain of
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guess they're gearing up for more union demands for even higher pay, more benefits, and less work for themselves, and know the state can never pay that without raising taxes, something the electorate won't support.
Again the Maggie's teacher haters pull part of a quote and attribute it to thousands of teachers. I said it before but nobody commented; how about we curtail the ever rising health insurance coverage for teachers. Why can't the greedy private sector insurance companies take a premium freeze for a year?
Duh, that's the head of their union, representing thousands of teachers.
Yeah, teachers and their families enjoy health benefits far beyond those in private industry and even beyond most in government jobs, at far higher costs to taxpayers.
Nah, freezing premiums, or restraining them, is not possible while costs increase and workers don't have a stake in controlling their own usage.
"enjoy?".....nice typically loaded language from the haters. I graduated in 1982 and took a teaching job with a salary of $12,000.00 while my private sector friend took a business job in Hartford for $60,000.00. In those days I didn't hear so much pissing on about private sector comparisons. He still makes a shit-ton more cash than me but poor fellow, he only has private sector benefits. cripes.
So I can take a pay freeze regardless of my expenses increasing but insurace companies cannot? Look, I'll take a pay freeze and be out a couple grand so that your taxes don't go up by pennies. What concession are you willing to make?
....and on a personal note, does your envy come from being a high school drop-out or does it stem from being unable to join the ranks of us pampered teachers?
Did someone force you to become a teacher?
If not, then why are you complaining about your choice?
BTW, yes, people are forced to pay for teachers. And we rarely get much say in the whole process.
Honestly, homeboy, we don't have to make any concessions, You are our employee. Your union sits on school choice while doing a crappy job of educating the precious children and then weeps how under-appreciated you are. Cry me a river.
Incidentally, I'm self employed with no health insurance so your plight of paying reasonable premiums for cadillac insurance breaks my heart.
I'm complaining because a basic social contract that I have honored by educating myself with two degrees and staying literally DAYS past my contracted hours for nearly 30 years is being yanked out from under me. No, I never planned on getting rich but I finally make even decent pay and y'all want to reduce me to the financial status of a Walmart employee. I have a ton of empathy for any worker who's struggling and pissing on another group doesn't make me feel better as apparently pissing on teachers does for you. Yes, times are tough and we all realize that but that doesn't change the fact that I have a son to get through college in a few years and I worked really hard to get to where I am.
Do you like keeping the things you have? See, I do too.
i Did someone force you to become a teacher?
Is someone preventing you?
Trust me, DA. We do not hate teachers. I taught school for a year once, myself. I didn't like having a boss, and the parents were a pain in the butt.
Um....they need to do a little editing.
The California Federation of Teachers is not the ONLY teacher's union in California - which this article strongly implies. The CFT is an affiliate of the AFT - American Federation of Teachers. The CFT is dwarfed by the largest teacher's union which is the California Teachers Association affiliated with the NEA.
As far as I know (and I just checked with the Mrs. - former NEA/CEA Director) the CEA has taken no position on this issue.
Trust me, DA. We do not hate teachers.
Then why is EVERY education link a big steaming dump on the profession Mr Dog?
As soon as we exhaust fiscal logic we turn to performance. Once that gets de-bunked, we're onto private sector comparisons. I literally never heard that term used in any discussion of Education until just recently. We're among the few professions that exercise zero control over our raw materials but take 100% responsibility for outcomes as measured by what? a State answer booklet?! Teens walking into today's classrooms are not the teens we were and it's as simple as that.
Lemme try another analogy....look at the state of health in the Country. Cripes, our obesity rate is striking, the list of cancers seems to grow non-stop. Clearly we need better doctors, right? I mean look at how they're letting people's health go to shit and they charge what they do? Doesn't take much thought for the absurdity of that to set in does it? If you don't smoke, eat right and excercise, you'll be healthier. Likewise, if you show up on time to class with a sharpened pencil, study, complete your homework and participate in class discussions and activities, you'll learn and achieve in school.
The only discussions I read, however(esp here at Maggie's Farm) center on correcting Education with better teachers for less money and benefits. I repeat my strong empathy for everyone who's struggling in this economy. I sincerely hope folks who've lost work find a decent job. I spend locally every chance I get.
I simply don't understand the comfort that hating on teachers provides for so many of you.
It is not a hatred of teachers, it is a dislike for a profession that, is over paid, arrogant and condecending to parents, refuses to fire bad teachers, and has taken
sides in political views, while the average high school student
knows no history, can not spell, can not make change or hold a intelligent conversation.
I think you're being a little too sensitive. Yes, there are some rather purposeful posts here, but the posters are not unreasonable people. I've taken much the same position as you have and have not been treated badly. In fact, they occasionally let me post here - which is kind of amazing as I ain't the greatest or best writer in the world. :>)
All opinions, even the ones you don't like, are welcome here and let me tell you that is very rare in the blogosphere. BD, The Barrister, News Junkie, Doc Mercury, Bruce Kesler, Dr. Bliss - anybody who headlines essays or posts are all willing to listen to other opinions and ideas - even mine and I'm about as drain bramaged as you can get. :>)
They may not get back to you - they are busy people with lives beyond being a Maggie's Field Hand - but they do listen - trust me on that.
With respect to the nature and tone of the posts, I would posit that it is out of frustration with the current state of the educational system. I'm with you in that I don't believe it is the fault of the teachers as individuals and I believe that if you take the time to parse the various posts, it's not the teachers that are viewed as a problem, but the Unions and their antics - kind of a guilt by association thing if you will I know, but you have to not take it so personal.
I do know this - I have seen it from both sides of the issue - as a taxpayer and the spouse of a local President with 40 years of teaching experience. I know the conditions you have to work under with all the reporting requirements, mandated instruction, totally incompetent administrators, etc. I understand all that.
What is missing is making other understand that and you could do us all, who support teachers (and their unions), a grand service and detail, specifically, what it is you do on a daily basis and how you deal with it.
A little understanding of what is involved in stepping into another's shoes would help a lot. I can't do it because I've never taught - except for university level math. You can though and I would encourage it.
PS: Where the hell were you when I was defending teachers and their organizations back when? :>)
The subject here is democracy I believe. In Missoula MT they voted to legalize medical Marijuana several years ago. The results have been devastating. The MT Republicans passed a bill that would have outlawed the use of Medical Marijuana completely. However, today the Gov(D) just vetoed the bill. BUT--and this one is for Buddy--I hope your reading this Buddy--But, this week is the week that the diplomats and business men from Vietnam have been in Missoula. Did you say Yellow Rain Buddy? Read them here:
No wonder they are calling Missoula the Berkeley of the Rockies!
People are annoyed with teachers, because we've jacked up your pay and benefits quite a bit over the past 30 years, and you don't have squat to show for it. Class sizes are 35 students, and far far too many are graduating with sub-standard education, that are not suitable for a post-manufacturing high-tech design and creative economy. Admit it, we pay you more and you're not delivering the goods.
So here's a proposal. Let's see how much you are really committed to excellence in teaching:
a) CA State to reduce class size to 25, and pay for more teachers,
b) CA State only pays for teachers in classrooms, principals, janitors, cafeteria, and in-school administrative staff.
c) 401K like all the rest of us (industry standard rates),
d) paying for health care like all the rest of us (industry standard for engineering companies),
e) optional union dues;
f) pay cuts to 80% of baseline (face it, California is broke! You gonna get a haircut, take it now)
g) principals have absolute authority to hire and fire teachers, same as any private business. No appeals, you can bring suit same as any private-sector employee.
h) principals are entirely responsible and accountable for the success and failure of a school. The school board's job is to hire and fire principals, and have absolute authority to do so. No appeals. The principal can bring suit.
If a school district wants to pay a not-in-the-classroom educational bureaucracy, and all sorts of nice-to-have non-mission-essential programs, it has to come out of the teachers hides, the CA State won't pay for it. Or the School district can vote on an increase in the classroom size.
What's mission-essential? You know: math, sciences (chem/bio/physics/geo/etc), real history (not the faux Marxist kind so beloved by the educational bureaucracy), foreign language, English language (reading, writing, and speaking), PE, art, specific skills for high schools (drama, manufacturing, robotics, academic clubs).
If you want excellence in education, then you want this. Accountable teachers, principals, school boards; essential-mission focus.
The real value of "never let a crisis go to waste", is that it forces you to focus on the essentials, and cut the crap. Businesses do it all the time. Time for our schools to get on board.
Oh boy take a look at this one:
No wonder they closed half of the school down.
I remain uncertain of how to deal with and pay for team sports in middle and high school. Team sports are part of an essential American education, IMHO. Everybody should have the opportunity to get yelled at by the coach and their fellow teammates when they are caught dogging it and not giving 100%. And feel the sting when the let down the team. And feel the elation when they know they've given it their best. Feel the sting of defeat, and learn the art of sportsmanship when they win. These hard lessons guide your behavior for a lifetime.
Inspired by you, buddy, I'll do a post tomorrow about teachers and coaches (teachers are coaches, really) who have made a big difference in our lives.
Know BD that I'm a big if recent fan of yours.
So here's a proposal.
John F, I made a proposal to you that went unanswered. In fact, I see no evidence that you read a single word I wrote. I will gladly address your proposal when I have time, however, it's 9:00 and I'm just leaving work after a 14 hour day.
Tom F, I'll glaldy share more in here when I can.
To the Maggie's folks.....I've made the point before but it seems to be missed to a degree. Yes, you folks are very inviting of opinions to include dissent, however, only you bloggers are allowed to make thread titles and ALL of them sharply crtique and blame the teaching profession.
DA, I read and understood it all, and responded as I saw fit
. I think your proposal was to price-fix the "greedy" insurance companies. For a year.
Price is the most efficient way to signal the true cost of a good or service. Fixing prices just screws up the market, and leads to higher prices elsewhere. Plus it gives power to dictators, who don't give a **** about you, they just want to be in charge. They'll give you what you want today, and take it all away tomorrow.
Price-fixing destroys an economy. You gotta embrace the suck. High prices are the information you need to survive and be free.
Dose Amigo, in the private economy, there is no job security, wage security, or profession security. The wolf is always knocking at the door. Doesn't matter how good you are, how experienced, how educated, every once in a while your company suddenly can't afford you and doesn't need you, and sends you packing. Complaining about it doesn't help yourself, you got to get busy figuring out what you're going to do next.
I don't see any reason why teaching should be any different, why the teaching profession should be protected from the business cycle. We want the best teachers we can get for the amount we can afford.
The business cycle is a feature, not a bug. Hard times forces all organizations to focus on the essentials, become more efficient, get rid of the dead wood, create new products and services that enable the next growth cycle.
California is broke. The teachers are going to get a haircut. What you might be advocating for, is to cut everything else in the education bureaucracies (the fat), before you cut the teachers (the lean).
You might also notice that between Khan Academy, and Wikipedia, everything a student needs to learn, can be found on the Internet, and students can learn at their own pace. The world is changing, and the current teaching methods are becoming obsolete. Remember that part above about new products and services? Imagine that you integrate the Khan Academy into your teaching method. Now what would do differently in the classroom?
why the teaching profession should be protected from the business cycle.[/i[
The best I can answer is that it needs to be protected from the Walmart business cycle because kids are important and we can't have substandard people educating them. If you're going to parr down achievement to include nothing but cognitive knowledge, then sure, a hand held phone with google access will suffice. As long as EVERY child is expected to achieve a state standard, we cannot have a sink-or-swim education model. As soon as we do allow sink or swim mechanics to guide the education process, we won't need any reform because that's how it worked back when it worked.
As for your previous post, I frankly don't know where to start.....wow. We "don't have squat to show." Let me return to my doctor analogy. Your doctor is a resource that you employ to stay healthy but you have to do your part. Schools are a resource to help raise and educate your children but you and they have to do your part.
[i]So here's a proposal. Let's see how much you are really committed to excellence in teaching:
So if I don't agree with each of your skeletal bullet points, I'm not committed to excellence? Cripes.
a) More teachers? You're unwilling to pay the ones you have.
b) Huh? All institutions need to have administrative oversight and having been in school administration in the past, I know well the hours and difficult situations that school administrators have to tread. They spend their entire career in a damned if you do damned if you don’t state and it can be real easy to become callous about that. You know that history book revision that pisses you off? The revision came because someone else was just as pissed that it read another way.
c) Like the rest of us? Any number of companies and institutions include retirement packages that extend beyond 401Ks. Envy that yours doesn't is the entirety of your position.
d) So no private sector businesses provide such benefits? Do the "rest of you" have mandatory Education requirements, required on-going professional development credits and an on-going recertification process? To curtail a fundamental benefit is nothing more than taking. I do pay an ever increasing share of health care costs btw.
e) I would have no problem with restructuring the authority of unions, however, the first order of old fashioned union busting is to provide for opting out. If not for union representation, where would our financial compensation be after all these years of being underpaid? All this bad times talk gets me scratching my head to think back to when you didn't SLASH EVERY FUCKING PENNY out of your local school budget that you could get away with. I can't seem to recall any such time. Now that the private sector has been run into the ground by greed at the top, you have a perfect excuse to dig deeper yet. When we do pull out of this recession, will you be championing the cause for passing the budget your school district forwards?
f) Pay cuts? Well now we’re at the crux here. Why a pay cut? Where does that notion come from outside of contempt? Please tell me about the concession you look forward to making. I love that simplistic argument that we just don’t have any money. Name one city in New England that didn’t run out of money for snow removal by mid January. Did those towns sit idly by while 4ft of snow in the roadways brought all commerce to a halt? No, they took it from elsewhere because the sacrifice was worth the expenditure. There’s always money for things of importance.
g) When I was in administration and if I were to return to it, it would NEVER be my intent to fire a teacher. Not that I wouldn't, but it would never be my goal just as it will never be a goal in my classroom to fail a student. The goal is for both teachers and students to be successful. In the event of a low-performing teacher I would instead script a detailed plan for improvement. I would mentor the teacher and give them all the support possible to help them overcome deficits. In the event that the teacher responds positively to the plan, problem solved. In the event that they don’t, a trail of paperwork is in place to facilitate the quite unfortunate event of letting them go. We are not getting our asses kicked in math and science around the globe because of a handful of teachers who aren’t top notch but to you haters, kicking out staff seems to be an aphrodisiac. Only private sector folks making big $$$ are truly turned out on a regular basis. No plumbing company, carpentry business or retail store “gets rid of” their lesser employees without cause after 25+ years. It is additionally false to state that tenured teachers cannot be let go when circumstances warrant it. The retort here is that they’re protected by the union. To a degree that’s true and why wouldn’t they be? Didn’t O.J. get represented? Would a union official really say to a teacher “you know, I realize that you’ve paid dues for the past 20 years but you know what? They’re right about you; you really do suck so we’re not going to represent you?”
h) After we complete the daunting task of determining criteria for success and failure, (A state answer booklet doesn’t cut it) we may move on to a sensible approach to accountability. Why is it that 100% of students of parents who have achieved academically, who value education by rewarding good grades and disciplining poor grades and who come to school conferences achieve a good if not terrific level of success in school…..why is that? Why am I continually charged with caring more about a child’s achievement than their own parents? If you meet basic parenting responsibilities like attendance and conferencing, I will gladly assume responsibility from there. Failing a few basic requirements, schools should be released from the expectation that the child will achieve the state mandated test scores used to judge my performance. I have had dads give their kids the dope they sell on the bus. I too have had students who are given everything they want including new cars even though they’re failing several subjects. Why on earth would a teen study and work hard when the payoff comes without effort?
…and now were on to your view of what’s “mission essential.” With your inclusion of Math, Science, History, English and Foreign Languages, PE, Art, Drama, Manufacturing, Robotics etc, I’m wondering just what courses you’re looking to cut. Yes, core subjects are very important but those “nice to have” courses (whichever you mean) are often the conduit for traditionally lower achieving students to make sense of the core subjects. I’m a Technology Education teacher and I run a shop. When I have a student apply the formula for circumference to make two pieces fit, I commonly see a light bulb go on for that student. When I teach them to read a standard micrometer, all of a sudden, fractions make sense. When they are required to complete a technical write up of project work, they learn a functional form of writing. When they use a MIG welder, they learn that C25 shielding gas is primarily Argon which they’ll find on the periodic table among the noble gasses.
Accountable teachers, principals and board members? Sure but you’re forgetting a couple of things. You failed to include parents and guardians and you failed to show how you would hold school boards accountable. School boards are not accountable for anything. They establish no presence in schools but rather, they vote on policies that sound good and feel good. Modern school boards are little more than an extension of finance boards as the dollar is their sole concern.
Now John, will you please define the role and responsibility of parents and guardians in achievement? Will you tell me what financial concessions you’re making or are willing to make to this fiscal crisis? Will you tell me why you’re not a teacher? Will you tell my why the private sector i.e. insurance companies cannot take a freeze in increasing premiums? Will you tell me what preparations you made to be qualified for your career?
Whew! That's a lot to reply to. All I can make right now is a few points.
1. CA has the highest teacher pay in the nation, and the teachers pay no out-of-pocket for their health care. It does not have corresponding best-in-the-country education success metrics.
2. I support shop, its a core mission. I can only hope that our technical education courses emphasize that the kind of manufacturing we do here in the United States is high-skill, team-oriented, and flexible. In ten years, your students will be building and repairing robots that look like automobiles.
3. I don't advocate cutting teacher pay. I'm saying the facts are, CA government is broke, and the pension fund is broke. The CA teachers are going to get a haircut both in salary and pensions. And they're going to have to start paying for some of their healthcare. My proposal was to keep the teachers at cash-flow neutral (if possible) and reduce their class size. In other words, teachers in classrooms are kings, and everyone else in the education system is dispensable. Our politicians do it backwards, they lay off teachers first, while keeping the education bureaucracy intact.
4. All successful organizations try to keep and develop their valued employees and help them through life's rough patches. Successful organizations also are able to hire and fire as needed. Employess gotta know they can be fired if they don't measure up. Don't resist teacher performance metrics, they contribute to the vigor and success of the education enterprise.
In this economy? I don't buy squat for myself. I'm saving and paying down debt til it hurts. My one expenditure: freely-chosen investment in our local social capital (that means I spend some of my money and my time on a local community organization). And that time I spend? Sort of a teacher/coach/leader.
And our children know that education comes first in our household. And second, and third. As it was in my parent's household.
I'd loved to have seen Meta weigh in on this discussion. She would have been a certain, and exceptionally smart, ally of yours, Dose Amigo. Too bad you didn't get to meet her.
Well fair enough John.....I suspect we agree more than disagree. I'd just ask folks to think about who they want to have inspiring their children. Someone who skips to work each day thrilled to be there or someone more resembling the miserable dept store clerk milking their smoke break time for all it's worth!
Gee XRay, did something happen to her or did she just leave?
"Something happened here, what it is ain't exactly clear."
And forgive my forwardness but I do admire your grit, another trait you'd shared with Meta.