Am I obsessed and distressed by oppressive divestment?
Oh who cares? Kiss my assessment!
Double, Double, test and trouble;
Standards stern so fill in that bubble.
NOTE: I wrote this poem during and after proctoring this year’s PSSA test for my 7th grade students. Can’t imagine where the inspiration came from! I’ll just say that the opposite of standardized testing has always seemed to be poetry. I hope you enjoyed my verses. It was either that or spit curses!
America only cares about middle class and wealthy kids, preferably if their skin has a melanin deficit.
Don’t believe me?
Just look at how much these states have cut education funding. Look at how the federal government has slashed financial assistance. Look at how districts are forced to increasingly rely on local tax revenues to pay for the kind of education their children receive.
For the dark and the destitute, this means larger class sizes, out of date text books, and narrowed curriculum. It means fewer tutors, reading specialists and librarians. It means being left to your own devices to deal with the effects of generational poverty which put them behind their wealthier, lighter peers before they even enter kindergarten. It means greater emotional disturbance, greater malnutrition, higher absences, more learning disabilities, and less help to deal with any of it.
On the other hand, for the economically privileged white kids, it means just the opposite – fewer social problems, and the best of everything to deal with whatever issues they have.
And that is what we’re talking about here – a fair wage. We’re not talking about teachers getting rich off the taxpayers dole. You’re asking us to get an advanced education and do a hard job – that requires a middle class income so we can pay off our student loans and support our families.
The same goes for pensions. When teachers took their jobs, a fair pension was part of the contract. You promised that after 30-some years, educators could retire and you’d take care of them. You can’t renege on that. And if you plan to offer less for those coming in to the field, you’re going to get fewer high quality teachers willing to take the job.
2) You say stealth testing has made the traditional standardized assessments irrelevant?
Okay. Competency Based Education is a real problem that threatens to make everyday test day – I’ll go with you there. In fact, schemes like Personalized Learning could transform every app into an opportunity to test kids without them even knowing it.
But that doesn’t mean the old fashioned high stakes tests have gone away!
Far from it. The federal government still requires all states to give these assessments to public school students in grades 3-8 and once in high school.
Let’s say the feds required teachers to give rich kids higher grades than poor children.
Or say the state commanded teachers to copy down sensitive information about students and give it to private corporations.
Imagine if the school board instructed teachers to put minority kids in slower classes than white kids.
If any of that happened, there would be wide scale revolt!
They are used to justify increased segregation within school buildings because implicit testing bias means white kids generally score higher than children of color. So the white kids get more advanced courses and the brown ones get test prep.
3) You say the Opt Out kids are just trying to get out of doing work. It’s just laziness.
First, of all, it is the parents who are opting their children out of standardized testing – not the students. Second, who are you to question their motives?
Next, we should force our unions to do the things that we can’t as safely do as individuals.
Call parents and ask them to opt IN!? We should be doing just the opposite, but that would put a target on our backs.
As a teacher, I can’t unilaterally call or send a letter home to my students’ parents explaining why they should opt their kids out. If I did that, I could find myself in administration’s cross hairs and face grave repercussions.
But isn’t that why we have a union? To stand up as a collective and do the necessary things we can’t do as individuals?
The tech moguls and the testing giants are salivating over the prospect of replacing us with apps and low-skilled, low paid babysitters to oversee students hunched over computers and tablets. (See? Told you Personalized Learning was poison.)
However, West Virginia is a self-confessed conservative state where self-identifying conservatives unashamedly explain that a full-throated expression of their conservative values includes the idea that you shouldn’t have to pay people a living wage for a hard day’s work.
“The teachers have to understand that West Virginia is a red state, and the free handouts are over.”
What, Sen. Arvone? Are you high?
A salary is not a “free handout.”
That’s redundant – there is no such thing as a free handout. Handouts are by definition free. That’s something you would have known had you paid more attention to your third grade language arts teacher. But, whatever.
Moreover, a salary is neither free nor a handout.
It is a fixed regular payment – often weekly or biweekly – made by an employer to an employee in exchange for doing a job.
West Virginia teachers are doing their job. State representatives like Arvone aren’t doing theirs.
It’s like lawmakers are saying: Oh. So you want your raise? Here you go. But the next generation of teachers hired in the state will be more ignorant, less experienced, more unskilled and less professional. In short, they won’t expect to be paid a living wage because we’ve made teaching right up there with being a WalMart greeter!
Volitich also agreed with her guest’s assertion that more white supremacists need to infiltrate public schools and become teachers. “They don’t have to be vocal about their views, but get in there!” her guest said. “Be more covert and just start taking over those places.”
“Right,” Volitich said. “I’m absolutely one of them.”
Great. Just what we need. An army of undercover white supremacists being encouraged to enter the teaching profession – taking those newly minted minimum wage jobs vacated by more expensive but less biased educators.
As a more than 15-year veteran of the public school classroom, I have some advice for white supremacists thinking about becoming teachers: Don’t.
Or at least that’s what it probably said on the press release.
It was really just a publicity stunt to push for arming teachers instead of sensible gun control.
Parkland students have been rocking it holding demonstrations and speaking truth to power demanding that we keep them safe from future violence by banning assault rifles, mandatory background checks on all gun sales and other common sense measures favored by almost 70% of the nation.
This is what happens when you try to put education in a box with things like Common Core. Don’t teach background information, just look at every text divorced from everything else around it – the author’s personal history, what was happening in the world at the time or even how the reader responds to it.
Administrators like this need to take a seat and get out of teachers ways.
The reasons? Adoption of new initiatives without proper training or professional development (71%), negative portrayal of teachers and school employees in the media (55%), uncertain job expectations (47%) and salary (46%) were the most common responses.
The survey identified the following as most common everyday stressors in the workplace – time pressures, disciplinary issues and even a lack of opportunity to use the bathroom.
Focusing just on the classroom, top stressors were mandated curriculum, large class sizes and standardized testing.
Many teachers claimed to be the victims of violence at school.
A total 18% of all respondents said they had been threatened with physical violence – though the percentage jumped to 27% when looking solely at special education teachers.
A total of 9% of all respondents claimed to have been physically assaulted at school. Again the percentage jumped to 18% of all special education teachers.
But it’s not just physical assault.
A total of 30% claim to have been bullied by administrators (58%), co-workers (38%), students (34%) and student’s parents (30%).
This is the situation where policymakers want to throw firearms.
Most gun violence doesn’t involve a shooter doing harm to others. The great majority of gun deaths are self-inflicted.
Even without adding guns to the mix, several high profile teachers and administrators already have committed suicide.
In October of 2010, for example, a California elementary school teacher named Rigoberto Ruelas, Jr. took his own life after the Los Angeles Times published a report labeling him a “less effective teacher.” Despite the fact that students and parents praised Ruelas, who taught in one of poorest schools in his district and who also was born, raised and continued to live in area where his school was located, the Times targeted him among other so-called “less effective” teachers as part of a major propaganda campaign.
And this isn’t an isolated incident. In July of 2015, a New York City principal under investigation for altering Common Core test scores, killed herself by jumping in front of a subway car.
Adding guns to this situation will just mean more teachers taking their own lives with a bullet.
That may have been the intent of the Georgia teacher in yesterday’s shooting.
Local police said they didn’t think he was trying to injure anyone else. When he shot his gun out of the window, he appeared to be trying to get others to leave him alone.
Arming teachers is a terrible solution to school violence. It’s taking an already stifling room and turning up the heat.
We need sensible gun regulations to reduce the pressure, not increase it.
We need sensible school policies that treat teachers and students like human beings and not just cogs in the system.
But this requires us to break out of a dangerous pattern in how we deal with social problems.
When we see a problem, we generally just shrug and leave it up to public schools and teachers to solve.
Inadequate resources – leave it to teachers to buy school supplies out of pocket.
Inequitable funding – increase class size and leave it to teachers to somehow make up the difference.
We can’t do the same with gun violence. We can’t just toss teachers a gun and tell them to sort it out.
Teachers can’t solve all of society’s problems alone.
That’s going to take all of us.
And we’ll need more than disingenuous proposals like answering gun violence with more guns.
So the union gets me a raise and better healthcare, but – even though none of my dues go to pay for political campaigns (that money is donated separately and voluntarily) – just being in a union is a political act.
If the court rules in favor of this position, unions would no longer be able to compel members to pay dues.
Pay them, don’t pay them – there’s nothing the union could do.
Conservatives are betting that if dues become voluntary on a person-by-person basis, at least a few members will opt out and thus weaken union finances and ability to collectively bargain for everyone.
But what they don’t seem to understand is that a decision like this would overturn decades of established law.
It would overturn mountains of legal decisions that provide the foundation for how our government works.
In short, how many times are we compelled to pay for things we don’t necessarily believe in?
Answer: every freakin’ day!
How much of my tax dollars go to the military? What if I don’t want my taxes used to pay for a bloated war machine?
How much of my hard earned money is wasted on corporate subsidies? What if I don’t want to prop up huge multinational businesses already making record profits?
How much of my money go to privatized schools? What if I’m against charter and voucher schools and want my taxes instead to fund fully public schools with elected boards, transparency and who have to accept all students regardless of ability?
If the court rules against unions, then I guess I won’t have to pay my taxes anymore – or at very least, I will have to be given the option of where my tax dollars go.
Not just SOME of my tax dollars – every single penny on a line-by-line basis for every single tax payer in the United States!
“If not bargaining is protected free speech, then bargaining will conversely be protected free speech, giving union workers new protections that we’ve never enjoyed before. For example:
Governor Scott Walker’s now infamous Act 10, the law that destroyed public sector collective bargaining in Wisconsin, will be declared an unconstitutional, content-based restriction on speech and association.
Every state in America will now be subject to bargaining with their public sector employees, even if they didn’t previously.
Local municipalities will be subject to numerous taxpayer lawsuits based upon forced contributions to lobbying groups.
The municipal lobbying industry, currently an extremely large source of revenue for lobbyists, will be decimated as taxpayers now have a First Amendment right to demand their tax dollars are not used for lobbying or political advocacy.
Public Sector pensions will be adversely affected as participants demand that their forced pension contributions are not used for corporate speech.
Municipal advertising, tax increment financing, and all other types of tax breaks (think Foxxcon in Wisconsin) will be subject to litigation based upon taxpayers’ First Amendment rights to opt-out of this type of speech. The same burdensome calculations that are currently leveled only upon unions would become widespread.”
Shaun Richman, a former organizing director for the American Federation of Teachers, agrees.
“The ruling could both wildly increase workers’ bargaining power and clog the lower courts with First Amendment challenges to routine uses of taxpayer money. At a minimum, it has the potential to turn every public sector workplace dispute into a constitutional controversy…”
Frankly, this is kind of exciting.
In trying to stifle workers’ free speech, conservatives may unravel the statutes that have muzzled us for years.
A decision against unions by the Supreme Court would open the way for thousands of cases throughout the court system – challenge after challenge. Certainly conservative justices would try to staunch the tide, but they simply couldn’t stop every case – especially after such a dangerous precedent has been set!
The SCOTUS would be unleashing chaos on the justice system, and I, for one, hope that every workers union takes advantage of it.
Every individual across the political spectrum should file suit against whichever political peccadillo they want. Evangelicals can file against public schools using their tax dollars to teach evolution. Libertarians could file against having a standing army. Liberals could file against oil pipelines.
And on and on and on.
Meanwhile, those workers unions that conservatives are hoping will be destroyed will be just fine.
You think workers won’t pay their union dues? Some might try, but doing so will have immense personal ramifications. At very least, it will make those individuals social pariahs. Who wants to associate with someone who thinks they should get all the benefits without paying like everyone else?
Moreover, I don’t advocate violence against anyone, but stiffing your co-workers on your union dues is a sure fire way to get slashed tires. Do you put your lunch in a communal fridge? I wouldn’t eat that after word gets out you’re a free rider. Not unless you like to share your co-worker’s saliva.
Again, I’m not advocating for any of that, but it’s just the way humans behave. We don’t like paying for any other able-bodied person whose “political” decision puts our lives and livelihoods in jeopardy.
The end result of a ruling against unions would forever put collective bargaining rights firmly under the protection of the First Amendment.
It would protect all speech – including union rights.
At least their editors haven’t or perhaps they just don’t care.
Otherwise, why would self-respecting hard news purveyors publish the results of a study by charter school cheerleaders that pretends to “prove” how public school teachers are worse than charter school teachers?
That’s like publishing a study denigrating apples written by the national pear council.
Breaking news: Pepsi says, “Coke sucks!”
In a related story McDonalds has startling evidence against the Burger King!
And here we get one biased neoliberal think tank vs. millions of public school teachers all across the country and since you’ve given us an equal number to represent each side, you pretend THAT’S fair and balanced.
Second, look at all the important data Fordham conveniently leaves out.
Look at the number of hours public school teachers work in the United States vs. those in other comparable countries, say those included in The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
In fact, the OECD (which is not biased one way or another about American school privatization) released a mountain of statistics about how many hours teachers work in various countries.
American teachers spend on average 1,080 hours teaching each year. Across the O.E.C.D., the average for most countries is 794 hours on primary education, 709 hours on lower secondary education, and 653 hours on upper secondary education general programs.
Yet American teachers start at lower salaries and even after 15 years in the profession, earn less money than their international counterparts.
So – assuming Fordham’s absenteeism statistics are accurate – why do public school teachers miss so much school? They’re exhausted from the hours we demand they keep!
But what about charter school teachers? Aren’t they exhausted, too?
Since they’re often not unionized, charter schools usually have younger, less experienced staff who don’t stay in the profession long. In fact, they rely on a constant turnover of staff. At many of the largest charter chains such as Success Academy and the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP), teachers average only 4 years before moving on to another career, according to the New York Times. And this is typical of most charter chains.
So why don’t charter school teachers take as many sick days as traditional public school teachers? Maybe because when they check out, they often don’t check back in.
Moreover, there is a significant difference in the student population at both kinds of school – privatized vs. public.
As their marketing departments will tell you, the students in a charter school choose to be there. The charter schools often weed out the students with behavior problems, special needs or those who are otherwise more difficult to teach. As a result, the strain on teachers may not be as severe. When you’re only serving kids who want to be there and who are easy to teach, maybe you don’t need as much downtime.
According to a study by Scholastic (that actually goes counter to its pro-privatization bias), we work 53 hours a week on average. That comes out to 7.5 hours a day in the classroom teaching. In addition, we spend 90 minutes before and/or after school mentoring, tutoring, attending staff meetings and collaborating with peers. Plus 95 additional minutes at home grading papers, preparing classroom activities and other job-related tasks.
And for teachers who oversee extracurricular clubs, that’s even more work – 11-20 additional hours a week, on average.
So, yeah, sometimes I need to take a sick day. But if you ask most teachers, they’d rather stay in the class and work through it.
Having the day off is often more trouble than it’s worth. You have to plan an entire lesson that can be conducted in your absence, you have to give the students an assignment to do and you have to grade it. Even with the day off, you have a mountain of work waiting for you when you return.
So as a practicing public school teacher, I dispute the findings of the Fordham Institute.
They don’t know what they’re talking about.
They have focused in on data to make their chosen targets, public school teachers, look bad while extolling the virtues of those who work in privatized systems.