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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Super Carole cues up the next screamfest

In deciding where our children should attend school, one real drawback of the Portland public school system was the constant drama and uncertainty that its families face. Here we are just a day past the needless uproar caused the aborted high school closure plan, and now we're going to cut out gym, music, art, or foreign languages in all the grammar schools to balance the budget. Special ed staffing would be reduced, English as a second language would take a hit -- the list goes on and on.

Yesterday we all held hands and thought about how we could go about curbing youth gang violence in Portland. Further crapifying the public schools sure isn't going to help.

Look for the county income tax to come winging back onto a ballot near you real soon. And stop eating store-bought cookies -- there'll be a bake sale every day starting Labor Day.

Comments (16)

And the most interesting thing to me is the recurring public outcry that the problem is "teachers are paid too much".

Yes, that's it--the answer to overcrowded classrooms, children with poor parenting and in poverty, lack of basic services to meet what parents cry out for--all of that'd be resolved if only teachers were paid less.

The problem isn't just money (or the efficient use of it); the problem is the expectations placed on public school itself. Public school has been transformed in the past decades into a place where parents *expect* them to simultaneously act as daycare (!), meet all the needs of kids with wildly different abilities, teach in multiple languages, feed kids, often clothe kids, accomodate the convoluted dogma of multiple religions and creeds, and worst of all--ensure that somehow, *somehow*, all of this results in some artificial "standard" that can be trained and tested every few months to ensure they're "learning" the proper amount.

Folks, the problem begins at home, not in the school. Schools are not daycare. Schools are not the end all-be all of a kid's education. Schools are not a social service agency. Schools are not responsible for teaching your child to be a moral, ethical, responsible human being--*you* are. Schools cannot meet the needs of every child. Schools cannot simultaneously teach the dogma of each and every religion you vehemently claim as superior. Schools cannot teach your child to eat right, get enough sleep, dress in clean, appropriate clothes (that aren't pajamas, flip-flops, or bunny slippers), or do their homework. *You* have to do that.

Getting the picture? Stop expecting schools to act as parents, and start being one yourself. Stop expecting schools to be everything to everyone. Then, stop expecting school districts to somehow perfectly predict (a)how many students they'll have years from now, (b)how many schools they'll need to meet an ever-growing population. If nothing else, stop expecting school administrators to solve all your throny problems for you, and instead start supporting them--by getting involved.

Cut out art, music, foreign languages....Isn't that just like a public school administration with no imaginative or creative talents?

Do not pass GO. Move directly to http://bojack.org/2010/06/united_states_of_anosognosia.html#comments

Meanwhile, have a seat on that stool in the corner, Carole. And put on the tall pointy hat. No -- open side down. That's it.

Stand by for idiotic self-aggrandizing press release from SamRandyFritzSaltzFish in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1....

Where is the leadership in this city????? This truly a sad day for Portland.

I've got an idea, lets cut out all the administrators first. Leave a principle and secretary per school and see how much we save that way.

other white meat,

everything you say may be the God's truth. It doesn't change the situation. The situation is what it is, and isn't going to change because your heart is breaking.

Costs need to go down, period, punto y final.

Here's a list:

1)Never pay any administrator a penny more than the best-paid teacher.

2)Give the teachers more power to decide who to keep in the case of needed layoffs. People with demonstrated talent should never be let go first because they are the newest. This is a reactionary and destructive practice.

3)Cut teacher retirement and benefits to a package that resembles that of a decent private sector job. The old saw that all teachers deserve their generous retirement benefits just doesn't fly anymore. Oregon has the best teacher benefits package of any state in the union and they do not deserve it, just because they are public employees. Just go ask the nurse who prepares and spots your angiogram when you are having a heart attack if her organization pays a retirement benefit that equals her currrent monthly salary. It does not. She has to save like everyone else.

4)Do a whole-sale lay off of central administrative personnel. Offer them a pay-cut or find people who will do their jobs for less.

The fact of the matter is, that a greedy education workforce is stealing from our future, which ultimately, lies with our children.


Amen to #1. but about this:

Cut teacher retirement and benefits to a package that resembles that of a decent private sector job.

Is based on a myth. My wife, a 13-year teaching veteran, has a mediocre health care plan. Her "retirement"--a sub-tier of the PERS system--is also basic, and is *not* going to result in her being paid a living wage after retirement. Most of her co-workers (those with less than 20 years of service) are in the same position. In fact, she won't be getting much at all--even if she works 30 years. So--the whole "teachers get awesome retirement benefits" thing is almost completely a myth.

a greedy education workforce

Based on a fairly extensive bit of interaction with teachers over many years, I'd say that's about as far from the truth as one can get.

Get rid of the unions. save $ and the schools.

Good luck though, as I believe the teacher's union is one of the most powerful in the world.

I've got an idea, lets cut out all the administrators first. Leave a principle and secretary per school and see how much we save that way.

My wife's school district (Gresham-Barlow) has moved to 1/2 time principals at a number of its schools. Haven't laid off any administrators, though. They also haven't really publicized this to parents. How secure would you feel knowing your kid's school had no principal for either 2 or 3 days each week?

I never figured out the logic of funding classrooms last. Start there and fund accordingly. This back and forth every year with PPS money really gets tedious.

Wasn't 66&67 supposed to help fund schools? Yet here we are again whining about budgets that never seem to have enough....every year.

Start with the classroom.

This is a long-standing pet issue of mine, so forgive the following rant. The big problem with "teacher pay" as I see it is that the current union system not only rewards bad teachers, but penalizes good teachers. Teachers--ALL of them--get the exact same raise every year. The best teacher in the school gets the same raise as the worst teacher in the school (assuming they're starting from the same place). What this does is reward the teacher who just screws around and does nothing, and penalizes the teacher who busts her butt and really cares about the kids. Can you imagine how demoralizing it would be for your workforce if you gave your best worker the same raise as your worst?

It's a screwy system. I have no idea why teachers haven't protested this. I really think there needs to be a way of rewarding good teachers, and removing the bad ones. And, no, I don't think that basing their pay on standardized test scores is the way to do it. I don't know what *is* the way to do it. But the current system is badly broken.

Teachers--ALL of them--get the exact same raise every year.

Wrong. In fact, entirely wrong, but it's such a popular myth (and teacher pay scales are complicated enough) to keep appearing, like a bad Internet hoax.

Can you imagine how demoralizing it would be for your workforce if you gave your best worker the same raise as your worst?

The actual truth is, teachers are evaluated all the time, and can be fired (like any union employee, with a process)--and like any organization, it has both good and bad employees. You might be surprised to know that identifying what a "bad" teacher is is just as difficult as it is in the private sector.

Next myth?

Based on a fairly extensive bit of interaction with teachers over many years, I'd say that's about as far from the truth as one can get.

Same here. I work with former educators and have teachers in my family, and almost to a person they are some of the most generous, selfless people you'll meet. At least the ones who have a passion for their work, anyway. They are certainly not greedy; if they were, they would have chosen different professions that pay a whole lot better for the same amount of responsibility and continuing education they take on.

Being such mission-driven folks, they tend to not make their own compensation their first priority, which is why there is a place for teachers' unions to collectively bargain for respectable pay and benefits. Why is there this assumption that do-gooders -- particularly teachers and daycare workers entrusted with the welfare and instruction of our children and youth -- should be paid peanuts? And old teachers will tell you of the bad old days when teachers were subject to the mercurial whims of administrators and would (if female) get fired if they got pregnant.

If anything, teachers should make MORE money if they are good and particularly if they are willing to take on the more challenging assignments. And that's where some of the arguments against the union -- that they tie administrators' hands from putting the best talent where it's needed, protect mediocre or incompetent teachers, and put the interests of older teachers ahead of younger ones -- start to have merit, in my opinion.

other white meat. Yes there is a process to go about firing a teacher and it's enought of a pain that most schools don't want to go through it. That means the administration generally doesn't bother due to the hassle unless it is a serious case.

Compare that to the private industry. Most business have something similar to the 3 strike rule before firing you. Boss spends 10-15 minutes each time discussing what you did wrong and how to fix it. If your behavior doesn't chang you are gone. Very simple and quick, implement that in the schools instead of the "process".

Dave Tybow hit it...fund classrooms first. PPS is chock full of fluff and ridiculousness.

I'm disgusted with the yearly parade of dire threats and manipulation over the budget. If they can't manage their budget and fund their primary mission, they should be out of business. Period. If there priority was the classroom, they would never exhibit this behavior, let alone repeatedly.

Times are tough for (almost) everyone, which is why I resent the comments about parents using schools for daycare. Are you kidding? It's a luxury to have a stay at home parent or family member available. It's our economy (and I don't just mean the recession)...not lazy parents as you are implying.

It would be great if every kid had parents. We have thousands of chiildren in foster care, group homes, shelters, cars, etc. Some have to care for younger siblings while mom and/or dad work 2+ minumum wage jobs to pay the ever increasing rents in this town. Some are in the care of grandparents or even great-grands, ill-equipped to manage young children and homework and carpools. Or they're doubled up with another family sleeping five to a room. not a lot of quiet space for "homework".

When I was a kid, the average hourly pink-collar worker worked 9-5 with a paid hour for lunch. And the wage paid for rental housing or home purchase. As more is required from blue-collar and service industry jobs, families and communities take the hit. Full-day kinder is because parents work all day NOT because it's developmentally appropriate.

So we continue to throw these kids away, replete with hand-wringing after the next kid gets shot. All the while praying it's not "one of ours". Where are our "Close the Gap" friends, again?

It would be great if every kid had parents.

Of course it would be. But that doesn't mean that schools should be expected to act as surrogate parent fr the child. based on years of stories from teachers at different levels, however, that's *exactly* what many adults and taxpayers (and a lot of parents) expect schools to be. I've *personally* heard (and seen) parents complain--often--that their kids aren't being taught enough about how to wear proper clothes, tie their shoes, bathe, brush their teeth. One parent I heard of wrote a complaint to the entire district because her son wasn't getting enough "personal attention" about his personal hygiene from his PE teacher. The parent blamed the PE teacher for her son not changing his clothes and showering enough.

Meanwhile, most teachers work their guts out to both teach subjects and help kids in all kinds of situations--only to hear crap from the public like "you're not doing enough!". It's truly one of the most bizarre, most disconnected from reality situations I've ever seen.

So nobody is pushing the kids off into the corner--quite the opposite. What's missing is any sense of reality from a large portion of parents, the public, and taxpayers.

Instead, we try to cram more and more students into classrooms, try to cram more and more requirements/tests/exams into every possible subject--and blame teachers for all.

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