Responding to the ridicule of teachers and the teaching profession by politicians and self proclaimed "experts"!
"Where is Albert Shanker now that we need him?" - Walt Sautter

Monday, 30 April 2012

Maybe I Was Too Extreme in My Cynicism - Probably Not!

As you well know, I have frequently doubted the motives of the organizers of “education reform” groups such as B4Kids and Students First.
At times, after writing these articles,  I  began to question my own cynicism.
“Maybe I was being too extreme in my suspicions?”
Several days ago, the flyer below was sent to me.
Any trace of self-doubt has since disappeared!

As you open your pocketbooks for the next natural disaster, please keep these facts in mind:

The American Red Cross President and CEO Marsha J. Evans' salary for the year was $951,957 plus expenses.


The United Way President Brian Gallagher receives a $675,000 base salary along with numerous expense benefits.

UNICEF CEO Caryl M. Stern receives $1,900,000 per year (158K) per month, plus all expenses including a ROLLS ROYCE. Less than 5 cents (4.4 cents) per donated dollar goes to the cause.


There are some worthy organizations however:

The Salvation Army's Commissioner Todd Bassett receives a salary of only $13,000 per year (plus housing) for managing this $2 billion dollar organization. 96 percent of donated dollars go to the cause.

The American Legion National Commander receives a $0.00 zero salary. Your donations go to help Veterans and their families and youth!

· The Veterans of Foreign Wars National Commander receives a $0.00 zero salary. Your donations go to help Veterans and their families and youth!

· The Disabled American Veterans National Commander receives a $0.00 zero salary.  Your donations go to help Veterans and their families and youth!

· The Military Order of Purple Hearts National Commander receives a $0.00 zero salary.  Your donations go to help Veterans and their families and youth!

· The Vietnam Veterans Association National Commander receives a $0.00 zero salary.  Your donations go to help Veterans and their families and youth!

Please share this with everyone you can.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Tenure Reform -Cutting Higher-Paid Teachers

I found this article on the Internet.

Mr. Krausser is right "on the money"

Tenure reform is all about cutting higher-paid teachers
6:52 PM, Mar. 23, 2012 - Asbury Park Press

Gov. Chris Christie’s tenure reform is really all about money. Any type of tenure revision will allow administrators to remove seasoned teachers, who make the highest salaries*

This type of age discrimination will result in having millions of extra dollars in local and state budgets. This money will not be given back to the taxpayer. It will allow politicians to have even more money to use on pet projects.

This is the reason tenure reform is getting bipartisan support. Both Democrats and Republicans will have a field day spending taxpayer money.

Remember, for more than 15 years, both parties raided the teacher pension fund. Now that there is no money left, they have to find another way to take from the middle class.

In the interim, public schools will deteriorate because young, high-quality teachers will leave the profession, knowing that after working for 10 years they will be out the door. Tenure reform also will result in many age-discrimination lawsuits against boards of education, which is just what we don’t need in this state.

If Christie really wanted to improve education, he would introduce legislation that requires administrators to spend 10 years in the classroom as a teacher. Most administrators are teachers who couldn’t teach but had political connections.

The biggest problem in education is the lack of leadership in our public schools **.

Edward M. Krausser


*Let me add that taxpayer's money will not be saved by cutting high paid teachers. Those "savings" will go into the pockets of the CEOs and highly paid executives that will run the private schools which are soon to replace today's public schools.
** Many of today's "educational leaders" are self proclaimed, well connected  "experts" with a good line of educational jargon and theory but little or no actual teaching experience.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

And The Beat (Down) Goes On!

The definition of Tenure - Merrian Webster
: the act, right, manner, or term of holding something (as a landed property, a position, or an office); especially : a status granted after a trial period to a teacher that gives protection from summary dismissal
I read in the Ledger again today about the Governor's plan to “reform” tenure. I decided to lookup the exact meaning of the word. 
Based on that definition it appears to me that  the tenure “reform” plan is not to “reform” tenure but instead to eliminate it.
Awarding five year contracts is not at all tenure as it is defined.
“Reform” evidently means to allow the awarding of consecutive, short term contracts granted at the employer's whim. That certainly is not cited in the definition of “tenure”.
The Ledger went on to praise the Newark School Superintendent (Cami  Anderson) for her removing eighty “poorly performing” teachers from the classroom.
It described her anguish regarding tenure in that she was unable to readily dismiss “poorly performing” teachers.
And could  it be that some of her angst arises from the fact that she and all superintendents in New Jersey have lost tenure and therefore no one else should be tenured? I’m just asking!
Needless to say the Star-Ledger editor and she both fully support the elimination of  teacher tenure and seniority rights in New Jersey Public Schools.
I looked up some statistics pertaining to the Newark School System.

“Newark Public Schools, with 75 schools, 7,000 employees and a student population of 39,440, is the largest and one of the oldest school systems in New Jersey. Its origin dates back to 1676 and Barringer High School in Newark’s North Ward, is the third oldest public high school in the nation.”

A little fourth grade math tells me that eighty out of seven thousand is 1.1%.
So let me get this straight!
We should eliminate teachers rights for the 98.9% so as to enable the easy dismissal of the 1.1% of “poorly performing” teachers?
Let's pretend I was teaching a class and 1.1% of the children failed a test. Should I then justifiably punish the entire class for the poor performance of those few? 
Do you think I might be called to the principal’s office if I did?
Suppose I were to tell him that I punished everyone because just punishing the 1.1% was far too difficult for me to do? How do you think that excuse would work?
I'm sure you get my point.

The straw man issue of the expense and difficult of removing “poor performing” tenured staff which is constantly cited as justification for “tenure reform”.  Please take a moment to read my article of Sunday, February 19, 2012  - “$100,000 Questions About Tenure” (which I have added below) and you will see what I mean.
Teachers have spent fifty years, legitimately building the profession into one with a modicum of respect, decent wages and benefits. Now within just a few years those gains are being er
oded and destroyed, all without protest.
In spite of the Governor's claim of a powerful NJEA, it has done little in response to the current attack on teachers. The union has been docile and completely ineffectual at best.
Trust me, all this is a guise to lay the ground work for the complete privatization of public education in New Jersey and throughout the country.
The loss of tenure and seniority will further weaken and destroy what is left of the teaching profession.
 When privatization is finally accomplished the corporations which will run the schools will then not have to deal with teacher rights and tenure issues. They will be able to hire and fire at will, pay low wages and reap great rewards for themselves and their executives.


$100,000 Questions About Tenure

The constant cry from those wishing to eliminate tenure is that the cost of firing a tenured teacher is extreme (the claim is up to $100,000).
Why does it cost so much to remove a poorly performing, tenured teacher?
Because lawyers charge school districts exorbitant  fees in order to carry out the process.
Instead of ending tenure for all teachers, the majority of whom are doing well, why not limit the cost of firing the poor ones?
We should look at capping the outrageous legal fees that are paid by school systems each year.
The State is certainly very good at capping all other aspects of school district spending why not cap these?
If this was done, some questions might arise.
Would lawyers take tenure cases filed by school districts at reduced fees?
Last year,  New Jersey admitted 3037 lawyers to the Bar. Estimated job openings were 844 leaving a surplus of  2193 . The median wage for New Jersey lawyers is $43.84 per hour. *
If the law of supply and demand works, it should be easy to hire lawyers to pursue these actions.
Another question might then be, would districts be able to obtain the “best” lawyers if legal costs were capped?
Well, if the charges brought against an individual are valid and well documented, I don't think districts need Johnny Cochran to win the case!
Another cost saving measure might be, having the State hiring a group of salaried lawyers to be leased to school districts at  nominal rates. These lawyers could then pursue tenure charge cases instead of having districts spend outlandish sums by hiring independent law firms.
If the real motivation behind ending tenure is only so that “poor” teachers can be fired without huge cost why not investigate these alternatives?
(My own opinion, this is not the real motivation for the elimination of tenure.)
Does anyone really think that the Governor (who is a lawyer) and the legislature (which is in majority composed of lawyers) would ever even suggest much entertain these types of action?
It's much easier and more fun to beat up on teachers!

Monday, 2 April 2012

Education Reform in New Jersey 2012

I just got a look at Governor Christie's Education Reform Plan guide lines for 2012.
Here they are:
(1) Teachers each day will fill lamps, clean chimneys.
(2) Each teacher will bring a bucket of water and a scuttle of coal for the day’s session.
(3) Make your pens carefully. You may whittle nibs to the individual taste of the pupils.
(4) Men teachers may take one evening each week for courting purposes, or two evenings a week if they go to church.
(5) After ten hours in school, the teachers may spend the remaining time reading the Bible or other good books. (6) Every good teacher should lay aside from each pay a goodly sum of his earnings for his benefit during his declining years so that he will not be a burden on society. (don't count on the pension)
(7) Any teacher who smokes, uses liquor in any form, frequents pool or public halls, or gets shaved in a barber shop will give good reason to suspect his worth, intention, integrity, and honesty.
(8) The teacher who performs his labor faithfully and without fault for five years will be given an increase of twenty-five cents per week in his pay, providing the Board of Education approves. (at least it's not a wage freeze like last year!)
(9) Prepare for school events such as the popular Christmas pageant. Decide what to include in the program each year, teach each student what his or her part is and decorate the building for it.
(10) Bulletin boards in every room must display a large, (very large), flattering picture of the Governor. (that is if one can be found !)**
(11) A copy of “My Pet Goat” must be kept handy at all time in case the school comes under “Lock Down” while the Governor is visiting so that he may read it to the children.**
(12) To keep the school room neat and clean, you must:
-Sweep the floor at least once daily
-Scrub the floor at least once a week with hot, soapy water
-Clean the blackboards at least once a day
-Start the fire at 7 a.m. so the room will be warm by 8 a.m

The following is a list of additional rules for female teachers
(1) You will not marry during the term of your contract. You are not to keep company with men.
(2) You must be home between the hours of 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. unless attending a school function.
(3) You may not loiter downtown in any ice cream stores.
(4) You may not travel beyond the city limits unless you have permission of the chairmen of the board (Frank Sinatra?)
(5) You may not smoke cigarettes.
(6) You may not under any circumstances dye your hair.
(7) You may not dress in bright colors.
(8) You may not ride in a carriage or automobile with any man unless he be your father or brother.
(9) You must wear at least two petticoats.
(10) Your dresses must not be any shorter than 2 inches above the ankles.
(11) Women teachers who marry or engage in unseemly conduct will be dismissed.
(12) Women teachers must carry an aspirin tablet with them at all times.**

*Raymond Bial’s One-Room School (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1999 - **with some of my embellishments)
The good old days of teaching!
If teachers don't stand up and fight back, they may return sooner than you think!