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

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

The Man with Two Faces

NJ. Sen. Steve Sweeney: I'll shut down government if Chris Christie reneges on pension payment

Where was he on pension theft and shenanigans in the past - Before the Christie traffic wreck ?

 Senate 2002-present, Senate President 2010-present, Democratic Majority Leader/Conference Chair 2008-09

In thirty years retirees without the COLA will be eating "Meow Mix" !
How can a contract between the retirees and the State be unilaterally altered after the fact (retirement that is) and then the action be considered legal? 
(BTW - All public employees are "required" to join the pension fund, like it or not!)
I can tell you how! 
Judge Hurd (maybe I should have spell his name with a "T"), who heard the case, experienced no alteration in his  NJ public  pension commitment nor did any other NJ judge! How then is he justified in ruling on the  elimination of  the pension benefits of others in the NJ pension system? 

Additionally, pension theft began under Whittman and continued with all governors thereafter.It was originally justified by the excess monies due to a stock market boom in the nineties.. Currently, the market is at all time highs. Why is there no excess of pension monies now? 
He was Senate president when "Tenure Reform" was instituted and said not a word that I can remember while all the time it was "Tenure Elimination" that was enacted.
Not a meaningful peep from NJEA (the "powerful teacher's union") during any of this. All I ever heard was a bit of whimpering here and there!

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Home Grown NSA ?

This flyer was left at the door of a  retired teacher friend here in Nutley.
Now, of course, I assumed that it may be misleading and one sided so I looked up info about last night's meeting at Belleville BOE and substantiated some of it
The underlined statements were verified at :

"The system includes surveillance cameras and audio in every classroom and hallway.  Even the teacher’s lounges has video streaming directly to Belleville police."

The asterisk marked part was not mentioned in the aforementioned article.
If all this is true, it appears, that as usual, even  good things can be easily contorted by less than ethical people  into Orwellian  scenarios. All that is needed is "we are protecting you (your children)" to justify any and all liberty infringing acts.
Why are cameras and audio devices needed in the teacher's lounge to provide security?
Will the teachers be alerted when the cameras are operating or will they always be on?
Will everything be taped?
Can information gleaned via video be used to discipline and punish teachers for conversations displeasing or critical of the administration?
Is the next step to be cameras in the bathrooms, locker rooms and showers ?
I sincerely hope that this is all an overblown situation.  Camerasw should be placed where they can actually deter violence, that is in the hallways and entrances of the buildings and not in locations merely to spy on everyone.
Will cameras and audio equipment be installed in the Principal's Office, the Superintendent's Office and the BOE Offices? And if so will the recordings be may public upon request ?

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Lots Less for Lots More and No One Even Seems to Notice (Or Care)

When I attended college (which of course was many years ago) Semester I began the first week in September and extended to the third week of December during which a one week Christmas vacation was held. After that vacation we returned to school for three additional weeks.
After a one week break Semester II began during the first week of February and continued until mid-June with a one week Spring vacation at mid semester.
Today the college Semester I begins just prior to the first week in September and ends in the first week in December. Some schools even have a break additional to Thanksgiving that they euphemistically call a  “study break”.
(I kind of thought students were supposed to be studying throughout the entire semester?)
Semester II doesn’t begin until the last week in January and ends during the first week of May with a Spring break during March or early April.
Now I’ve done some calculations and based on my figures, students today receive a whole year’s less schooling over their four year college career than did students in earlier times.
Keep in mind that this diminished class comes at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars more than was paid in days prior. (Tens of thousands of dollars in real dollar terms that is).
I know most of you will find this hard to believe but the tuition at Montclair State when I was graduated was $150 per year. I believe the activity fee was $3 per semester!
Today, tuition and fees at MSU are $11,318. That is a 7545% increase for a significantly shortened school year.
I was graduated in 1965. That was 49 years ago. Using the 72 rule and assuming the average inflation rate over that period was 5%, the time for money to double is 14.4 years.  If we divide 49 by 14.4 we get 3.40. This means that $156 (I’m including activity fees) has doubled 3.4 times over the past 49 years to about $1650 (real dollars) not even close to $11,318 !
Why has this happened?
In the past, the State heavily subsidized college costs at its colleges and universities and gave the middle and lower classes a chance at education and success. It seems that this is no longer the case.
It appears that attention is being almost exclusively paid to public elementary and secondary education. Constant discussion of lengthening the school day, lengthening the school year, the cutting of pension costs and berating teachers, public education in general  and the exaltation of private education is in vogue. Nothing about the aforementioned college situation is even suggested.
Could it be that since much of the criticism and proposed improvement plans for public education come from college “experts” that they are at least in part, using all their banter as a distraction from their own failings.
Why is there no overt attempt to transfer public colleges into private ownership? The prevailing theory is that private operations always can be run more efficiently at lower cost and with better results!

Or maybe, the privatization of public elementary and secondary education can yield tons of money for politically connected corporations and investors where privatizing of public colleges cannot. Thus berating public schools is the set up for them being transferred to private hands with lessened public outcry and more profits to be gained.