No homework in Berkeley

Berkeley teachers won’t assign homework till they get a pay raise.

Students in the Berkeley school district aren’t getting written homework assignments because teachers are refusing to grade work on their own time after two years without a pay raise.

So far, a black history event had to be canceled and parents had to staff a middle-school science fair because teachers are sticking strictly to the hours they’re contracted to work.

. . . “It’s hard,” said Judith Bodenhauser, a high school math teacher. “I have stacks of papers I haven’t graded. Parents want to talk to me; I don’t call them back.”

The action was organized by the Berkeley Federation of Teachers, which wants a cost-of-living increase next year.

The district says it doesn’t have the money.

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Comments

  1. Richard Nieporent says:

    Isn’t it good to know that when push comes to shove the teachers always have the best interest of the students at heart.

  2. Can someone more versed in teacher contracts enlighten me (and other readers)

    under the step-and-grade system, would most teachers still be getting pay increases due to their change in tenure over the two years? Are they requesting a COLA to the step-and-grade chart?

    Thanks

  3. Is it possible the teachers have a valid point that should be given some merit. As a substitute teacher it’s easy to see how some of the duties of these teachers could easily extend past 80 hours a week.

    Does it hurt our students? Perhaps. But it’s still a job. A job in which the teachers have every right to negotiate. Governator Ahnuld certainly hasn’t helped with his budget cuts.

  4. While on first look I have some sympathy for anyone who has to teach in Berkeley (imagine dealing with the parent population there…), the union is clearly committing a work slowdown…in effect only doing part of the work for which their members are paid.

    Taking it out on the kids by failing to perform is not the way to go, but then, the education of the students is not what the union is for, is it?

  5. Miller Smith says:

    The union is there for me! –>IThe union is there for me! –>I

  6. Miller Smith writes:
    If you think working to the rule is so harmful to your children, theN PAY FOR WHAT YOU WANT.
    —-
    be careful what you wish for … a local town did just that: going 60% to private schools — which I find is a short-term rational response but a long-term corrosive influence to schools and communities.

  7. Richard Nieporent says:

    Well thanks Miller for proving my point. Grading homework is part of your job. If you think being a teacher is equivalent to slavery then maybe you should get a new job.

    I always love the way teachers complain about the fact that they have to actually grade homework at home. Just because the time to do it is not specifically written into their contract does not mean that they are doing it for free. It is part of the job of being a teacher.

    Of course the teachers don’t seem to complain about the fact that they only have a six 1/2 hour work day, or the fact they get off for all holidays, or the fact that they get off for the Christmas and Easter breaks (and in NY City they also get off the whole week for President’s day) or the fact that they get off for nine to 10 weeks over the summer. And of course in the wintertime they get off all of those snow days. Yes they really have it hard.

  8. Mr. Davis says:

    Miller Smith is an excellent example, if he is not an agent provocateur, of the union hack mentality that pervades public education. They are eager to hold our children and their education hostage to their selfish demands.

    Please, cut us off for ever, Mr. Smith. I’d love to see you go to work for a boss who can fire you. Or would you be going back to your old job at the Post Office?

  9. Doug Sundseth says:

    If we assume that “Miller Smith” (above) is actually a working teacher, we can also discern that he, at least, is not underpaid. That he is paid at all is a gross disservice to the taxpayers in his district.

    If you listen to teachers, you will hear again and again that they are underpaid professionals. Part of being a professional is putting in whatever hours are necessary to do the job. (I don’t recall the last time I put in as few as 40 hours in a week without taking vacation, for instance.) Another part is having actual, demonstrable professional skills (e.g., a reasonable person might assume that communication would be important to a teacher). Yet another part of being a professional is comporting yourself as a professional.

    None of these attributes are in evidence in “Miller Smith’s” message.

    “You deserve the contract and not one dime or minute more.”

    We* deserve professional work from people paid to be professionals. We are not receiving this in far too many cases**, and terminating incompetents is nearly impossible. It is precisely because of the union that “…is there for me!” that this problem has risen to its current appalling levels. Does the NEA serve any purpose other than providing a full-employment program for the otherwise unemployable?

    *I don’t live in Berkeley, but the problem is not unique to Berkeley, either.

    **I know and respect many teachers, but it only takes a few aggressive incompetents to create a work environment that only the worst will tolerate.

  10. readingteachingjudy says:

    For a union to advise its members to work only the hours of the work week isn’t the same as advising them not to do work they are paid to do. I would assume, however, that teachers could phone parents during that workday in the contract time prior to or after the student contact time. Of course, that’s when they could grade a few papers, too, which is probably what many of them are doing. It’s just that it takes many additional hours beyond that workday to grade papers, especially when teachers are upping the rigor, relevance, and relationships within the teaching day as per the requirements of meeting changing curriculum, legislative requirements, NCLB, increasing expectations, to say nothing of working directly to increase student learning by teaching those students- which both teachers and their unions value. The responsiblities of a teacher aren’t the same as they were when you were a student; they are even greater, more time-consuming, and require thought and action. I encourage you to take a day and observe/shadow a teacher in a local public school. Your experience may not be what you expected.

  11. Miller Smith says:

    Considering the respect not shown to the concept of a contract here, one would think this board was populated by liberals.

    My contact is this: 192 days, 7:15 to 2:45. Period. You don’t deserve a day or minute more that what you have contracted for. The above was the offer and I accepted. For you to demand as a right what you do not deserve is a moral failing. It shows a lack of appreciation for the money and time given freely by teachers all the time.

    If you want all that the teachers have withdrawn then you havea moral duty to put that in the contract and make an offer to us. We can take it or leave it. But Noooo! You want to bait and switch.

    How about that contract some of you guys seem to want? What would you require teachers to do? Write your contract, curse you hides! I wonder if you’ll include a requirement for teachers to buy their own class material and supplies. Or maybe an unlimited time requirement. Yeah. I’d like to see the contract you’d write. I’d like to see what would accept that offer.

    I can’t wait for the end of public schools. I’m starting a sci tech high school that takes smart ld kids as well. Talk about a boss! Heh. I’ll finally get the right to fire students and parents. Why…I’d get the right to fire you! Why, you won’t have the right to a damn thing you didn’t CONTRACT for from your new private schools.

    Enjoy. I will.

  12. Miller,
    Part of being a professional is getting the job done. If you want to think and act like a union laborer, that’s fine, just don’t expect to be seen as or treated as a professional.

  13. SuperSub says:

    I am currently unaware of the conditions of the Berkeley teachers’ contract, but from my experiences a majority of educators deserve a significant pay raise.
    The comment is frequently made, as it was here, that teachers have a laid back lifestyle – lots of vacations, great benefits, nearly guaranteed job security, etc. Yes, teachers generally do have these things, but they deserve them.
    I have seen numerous teachers give their all to their students, helping them outside of the required school workday, taking work home to grade, designing complex and fun activities at home for students, and making multiple versions of lesson plans to accomodate students of various abilities.
    Yet these same teachers have been harrassed by parents who blame their child’s poor performance in school on them, even though those same parents frequently bring their children into school late because they overslept, allow the child to stay at a friend’s house over the weekend when the child has a test to study for or a project to complete, or allow the child to stay up until 11-12 o’clock to watch TV.
    Increasingly, teachers are losing most if not all support from the home. Students have no motivation to succeed because their parents do not hold them responsible for their performance, and teachers are being blamed. Yet teachers are stepping up to the plate to find new and inventive ways to educate children who couldn’t care less.
    Communities get what they pay for. Teachers deserve every penny they are paid, plus more.

  14. Richard Brandshaft says:

    Does expecting teachers to work for altruism correlate positively or negatively with objecting giving something to the community by paying taxes?

  15. As the son of a teacher who did give above and beyond what she contracted, I really do think Miller should think if he really wants to be a teacher. I know that in my profession I often had to cancel vacations, put in many hours more than contracted and do a lot more than just fill in the time. That was considered part of the job and that was what I contracted for as well as what the contract actually said. You are a teacher. You want to be treated with respect but you do not want to do the job. I for one would fire your a@@ in a second for your attitude alone. When I see what the teachers who actually do the job put into the job, I applaud them. You I would never applaud in a million years.

    You see, part of the deal with being a professional is doing what it takes to get the job done and done right. We are finding out that you do not want to do that. We are also finding out daily that you and your kind are not doing the job right either. If the parents are using you as unpaid baby sitters, then your administrators need to let the parents know that this is not acceptable and they need to make other arrangements. Other than that what you are promoting is nothing less than a travesty of what should be a profession.

  16. Andy Freeman says:

    > My contact is this: 192 days, 7:15 to 2:45. Period. You don’t deserve a day or minute more that what you have contracted for. The above was the offer and I accepted.

    In other words, work to rule will continue.

    The best arguments against public schools are made by their advocates. They continue to demonstrate that they’re less professional than burger flippers.

  17. Note to Miller: Come on over to the corporate darkside… I got tired of the piddly pay of an adjunct college teacher (which is definitely an easier gig than a public school teacher) and jumped ship to work in the business world. It’s a much better-paid job (my first bonus was about the same as a semester’s worth of teaching at NYU).

    Of course, we don’t have a union, our raises/bonuses are based on actually getting projects done and having measurable impact on the biz (as opposed to seniority), we don’t get a couple months off each year, and though we’ve got a putative 37-hr workweek if a job has got to be done we’re expected to do it (and no overtime pay). But then, if people find it unbearable, they jump ship and find work elsewhere.

    If I wanted to work to the hours on a timecard, I would have worked in fast food or retail.

  18. Steve LaBonne says:

    In defence of the teachers, 2 years without a raise in a place as expensive as the Bay Area is no joke, and you know perfectly well that while crying poverty the district almost surely has plenty of waste, including well-paid but useless administrators.

  19. Those Bay Area teachers are free to come and go, are they not? No one’s holding a gun on them so they’ve chosen to stay in the current situation.

    If they’ve chosen to stay in the current situation, why should they recieve any more money? Have they become more productive? Are test scores rising? Is the illiteracy rate dropping? What’s the taxpayers and parents reason to support the raise? That living “in a place as expensive as the Bay Area is no joke”? Why is that a concern of anyone other then the teacher who wants more money?

    It’s supposed to be a public education system not a New Deal make-work program with a patina of professionalism. You get paid for doing something. You get paid more for doing more.

    And forget about reclaiming some of that wasted money. Public education is socialist organization. Socialist organizations are, by their nature, wasteful. Want efficiency? Get rid of the socialism.

  20. Anyone who sees teaching as nothing more than just a job should quit. Or go back to college for better training during the first certificate (or the second). Teaching is a calling; you don’t get to go home and forget about the job at the end of the day any more than a minister does. (That’s been my experience as a lowly GTA, anyway.) All of the best teachers that I’ve ever had saw teaching as a calling, and loved what they were doing so much that they kept teaching at one of the three lowest paid schools in a state where teacher pay is lower than all of the surrounding states. They did it because they couldn’t not help the kids learn. On the other hand, the worst teachers whine and moan about how much they hate their job. That makes me predisposed to believe that Miller Smith shouldn’t be teaching in the first place.

  21. Smith,

    The contract refers to time on premises; not total work time. You really need to get over it.

  22. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Everyone is underpaid and unappreciated.
    Outlaw compulsory union membership and require public employee unions to chose between civil service protection and a contract.

  23. Michelle Dulak Thomson says:

    I am wondering if Miller Smith has ever left a tip at a restaurant, or given one to a cabbie. After all, he would be in effect contracting with a proprietor to exchange one thing (money) for another thing (food or transportation); why shouldn’t he pay just exactly what it says on the bill?

  24. Holly wrote:

    Teaching is a calling;

    Oh, get over yourself or demonstrate the elevated nature of the calling by doing it purely for the gratitude of an admiring public. When you cash your first paycheck you lose any claim to the moral high ground.

    You may, in fact, be quite willing to selflessly pursue your calling without compensation but we’ve got to take your word for it. Sorry, I’d prefer a more substantive demonstration of nobility.

  25. Sigivald says:

    Suppose Miller’s right. The obvious solution, of course, is to bust the teacher’s unions and replace all those union jobs with scabs.

    Someone got the phone number for Pinkerton?

    On the other hand, if teachers are going to work letter-of-the-contract (contrary to tradition so ancient it might almost be enforceable as implicit contract itself), they ought to be made accountable for results.

    Either alternative would satisfy me, though the idea of Berkeley teachers getting locked out is strangely (and disturbingly) gratifying.

    Steve: Don’t forget those well-paid administrators are also part of the Teacher’s Unions (are they not? I’m pretty sure they are most places, though I don’t know Berkeley).

  26. allen: Why don’t you, for once, get the hell off your high horse. Holly is essentially taking your POV and you crap all over her due to your utter inability to even consider another’s experience and viewpoint.

    Holly is right — the best teachers do indeed view their profession as a calling. They could care less about their paycheck, but stating they should do what they do for free, else forego any such “calling” notion, is simply asinine. People have to eat, you know.

  27. SuperSub says:

    Hube, I have to take issue with your paycheck comment. While I understand and agree that almost all teachers give up hope of ever making a large salary (I may be wrong, but I’ve never met a teacher being paid more than 55,000 unless they’ve taken on significant administrative duties), the paycheck is important to either A) pay off loans from school, which can be substantial, and/or B) support a family.
    I don’t know of many other professions that essentially require a Master’s degree that max out at the low level teaching does.
    Being concerned about the size of the paycheck is not greedy, nor does it detract from the quality of the educator. Its a necessary concern in today’s economy, and a teacher should not be faulted for trying to earn a justified income.

  28. First of all, let me say that I know a number of highly professional, dedicated teachers who give deeply of themselves and their time because they are committed to teaching. I have the utmost respect for them.

    Now that I have that out of the way, let me address Mr. Smith – speaking as the parent of four children in the public school system. Based solely on his comments here, I would consider Mr. Smith desperately overpaid and a likely candidate for career transition. Were an employee of mine to express a similar attitude towards his job, I would consider his exit from the company to have begun.

    Mr. Smith, you say you committed to 7.5 hours a day for 192 days a year. I have to ask whether those 7.5 hours/day include non-teaching time such as lunch, planning period, periods when you have no class because the students are in specials, etc. For many employees in other industries, non-productive time such as that would be unpaid. For the purpose of discussion, though, let’s assume that you hit the ground teaching and don’t let up for 7.5 hours and that you do that 192 days per year, regular as clockwork. That’s a total of 1440 hours per year. A normal 40 hour/week employee works 2080 hours/year. For your efforts, you earn somewhere in the neighborhood of $40,000 per annum, depending on your education and years of employment – reference http://employment.ousd.k12.ca.us/sub_salary_certificated.asp for Oakland County pay scales. A simple calculation reveals that you earn in excess of $27/hour for your time. That is a pretty decent hourly and one which many, if not most, of the parents in your district would envy.

    I suspect your 7.5 hours really does include at least a planning period and probably a meal period, as well. At least, any time during the past several years that I have needed to confer with a teacher, I have had to take PTO (that’s Personal Time Off – otherwise known as vacation time) in order to meet during the teacher’s planning period). Of course, if it is for the child’s benefit, I am happy to do it, even though it may be highly inconvenient from my end.

    Mr. Smith, if I sound hostile it’s simply because I know too many fine professionals who accept that the profession of teaching includes demands on their time that are not necessarily covered by the 7.5 X 192 hours of contract labor you describe. They look on teaching as a true profession, not a job. Professionals are committed to more than a paycheck.

  29. Mike in Texas says:

    I’ve been wanting to get in on this but apparently my home IP is blocked; don’t know why, I haven’t insulted anyone lately.

    Allen wrote:

    When you cash your first paycheck you lose any claim to the moral high ground.

    What about priests and ministers? Isn’t their job a calling? Does that fact they get paid for it make it any less so?

  30. Hube wrote:

    allen: Why don’t you, for once, get the hell off your high horse.

    Why should I when the I have such a good vantage point to observe the self-congradulatory gas-bags who won’t decide whether they’re angels or mercenarys? Like Holly. Like Mike in Texas. Like you.

    Holly is right — the best teachers do indeed view their profession as a calling.

    Who cares and why should anyone? Teachers are in schools to do a job not to take out and compare the size of their compassions.

    All I care about is how well they do that job and if you’ve got a problem with that POV then you’d better get used to it because there’re plenty of people with exactly that POV.

    People have to eat, you know.

    Really? Now is that because of how much they care? Or because they’re doing something useful?

    Never mind. I think it’s pretty well established that compassion and competence are assumed and that the only issue remaining to be settled is the price tag.

    Mike in Texas wrote:

    What about priests and ministers? Isn’t their job a calling? Does that fact they get paid for it make it any less so?

    When we have tax-supported, mandatory attendance churchs, the priests have a union and the parish has no say over the priests tenure, we’ll see how well the comparison works.

    But since you seem to be in the market for specious comparisons, how about soldiers and fireman? All you do is spend six hours a day, nine months a year, in a room full of kids. How’s your caringness stack up against someone who might come home, on any given day, in an urn?

  31. Fuzzy Rider says:

    Somehow I have always understood that out-of-contract work was part of the deal, and I do it willingly (if not always gladly…). That having been said, I find it extremely annoying when any complaints by teachers about their working conditions are met with comments about “unfitness for the profession” or “not caring about the children”. Sometimes a “work-to-contract” strike is about the only effective way to get the attention of the administration when they are doing something ill-advised. School administrators are often VERY out of touch with what is happening on the local-school level.

    As an aside, I do not belong to any teacher’s union, and I do not feel particularly underpaid!

  32. SuperSub says:

    Bravo Fuzzy…

  33. Fuzzy Rider,

    You may be right about the out of contract strike to get the attention of the administrator. However, do you then make up the time to your kids? If not then you just lost your high ground.

    yes, administrators are totally out of touch. I live in NYC and they most certainly are out of touch here. However, so are the teachers. The public schools in NYC, other than Stuyvesant, Bronx School of Science and a couple of others, are deplorable. The teachers really don’t seem to care at all. The kids definitely don’t. The parents don’t show up to check up on what is going on. It is truly a mess.

    That said, what needs to be done to fix this mess up. Throwing money at it doesn’t seem to help. The union certainly isn’t doing anything to help at all. In fact, they seem to be against anything that does improve the education of the kids. How do we meet the needs of the teachers, meet the needs of the kids and get the parents involved so that there is even a chance of the schools being successful. First, get rid of the unions and put most of the administrators back into the classrooms. I really don’t see that taking a successful teacher and making them a [email protected] administrator is making good use of the resources. I also don’t see that tenure helps either. As soon as the bad teachers get tenure, and they do, then we can’t get rid of them.

    Then, find some way to hold the teachers to a decent standard. If they don’t measure up and won’t improve, get rid of them. They don’t belong there. Our kids deserve better.

    Stop trying to use the schools for sociological experiments. If you want to test your sociological ideas, do it somewhere other than the schools. They are for educating the kids, not pumping up your CV.

    Pay the teachers a decent wage as long as they deserve it. If they don’t live up to the standards, get rid of them and find people who will live up to the standards. Teaching should not be a bolthole for people who can’t function anywhere else.

  34. Fuzzy Rider says:

    dick-

    I agree with most every point you made, but I sincerely believe that until we get a handle on student behavior (accountability for students- what a concept!) it will all be for naught.

    See the post “They’re no angels” from today (3/3) and you will get an idea of what we are up against!

  35. Why should I when the I have such a good vantage point to observe the self-congradulatory gas-bags who won’t decide whether they’re angels or mercenarys? Like Holly. Like Mike in Texas. Like you.

    Two things: Your spelling teacher obviously wasn’t that good (which probably makes you happy), and two — nothing I’ve said here (nor Holly) was gas-baggish or self-congratulatory.

    You’ve been around enough here; your powers of perception need a LOT of work, especially in determining just where I, in particular, stand on many edu-issues.

  36. Mike in Texas says:

    Allen wrote:

    how about soldiers and fireman?

    Are you raging on other forums about the despicable amounts we pay these people? Do you express outrage whenever some desk jockey self-serving politician votes him/her self a raise while our soldiers are living below the poverty line?

    Just out of curiosity Allen. Did you happen to agree with Bobby Knight when he said that if a woman is going to get raped anyway she might as well lay back and enjoy it? You seem to think teachers should sit back and take whatever BS some politician is throwing out, no matter how wrong and idiotic it is. Myself personally, I choose teachers who know how to speak up about what’s right.

  37. Hube wrote:

    Two things: Your spelling teacher obviously wasn’t that good

    Let me be the second to congratulate you for a simply world class spelling flame, gas-bag.

    And where you stand on “many edu-issues” doesn’t have any bearing on teachers trading on their supposed compassion as a justification for any rate of pay, decent or otherwise. If you do it for the love then do it for the love. If you do it for the pay then do it for the pay. If you do it for both then you’re doing it for the pay.

    Trying to sell the proposition that what you’re paid ought to be related to how deeply you care may work with parents who are desperate to believe that there’s something special about the people into whose care they’ve consigned their children but I’ve had more then a few opportunities to be disabused of that notion.

    So if you or Mike in Texas or Holly have a problem with being viewed as not special then I’d suggest you toughen up. The deep and special caring that distinguishes teachers from ordinary people, and the public preception of that specialness, gets ground down every time we read a story like the one that started this thread.

    Mike in Texas wrote:

    Are you raging on other forums about the despicable amounts we pay these people?

    Are any of them trading on their vast compassion for a fatter payday? Don’t think so. Any of them think that how much they care is more important then how well they do their jobs? Once again – don’t think so.

    Just out of curiosity Allen. Did you happen to agree with Bobby Knight …

    Well waddya know, a teachable moment.

    I bipped over to – http://www.datanation.com/fallacies/index.htm – to see if I could identify precisely the logical fallacy you’re so obviously proud of.

    Let’s see, could it be Prejudicial Language?

    Maybe Straw Man?

    How about Amphiboly? Naw, I just like the sound of that one.

    How about False Analogy?

    Maybe it’s all of ’em! After all, once you’ve determined that you’re in some aspect superior to the common herd, in this case it’s the depth and breadth of your caring, what’s a couple of logical fallacies if it makes you feel good?

    Myself personally, I choose teachers who know how to speak up about what’s right.

    Well of course you do. My preference though is for teachers who know how to teach but I’m funny that way.

    By the way, you might want to be careful. Hube’s got his “spelling teacher” hat on but he might swap that for his “composition teacher” hat at any second and then where would you be? Oh, and while we’re on the subject of your shortcomings, whatever happened to that insincere pickiness about language? Don’t you want to warn Hube about what happens to bad little boys (or girls) who use inappropriate language?

  38. Fuzzy Rider says:

    One of the more interesting things about being a teacher is that absolutely EVERYONE seems to know how to do my job better than I do…

    I don’t recall having this problem when I was in industry…

  39. Mike in Texas says:

    Allen wrote:

    My preference though is for teachers who know how to teach but I’m funny that way.

    Funny, in my experience as a parent the teachers who speak up about wrongs are also the best teachers.

    If you do it for the love then do it for the love. If you do it for the pay then do it for the pay. If you do it for both then you’re doing it for the pay.

    And you accuse me of illogical fallacies?

    Let me be the second to congratulate you for a simply world class spelling flame, gas-bag.

    Actually not directed at me but I’ll comment anyway. Once again Allen is reduced to hurling insults b/c he can’t come up with factual arguements. You win, Hube.

  40. Mike in Texas says:

    Fuzzy Rider wrote:

    One of the more interesting things about being a teacher is that absolutely EVERYONE seems to know how to do my job better than I do…

    Intersting you should post this after Allen has accused me of viewing myself as superior to the common herd, while he himself seems to believe he has the answers the experienced and trained educators do not.

  41. nailsagainsttheboard says:

    I’ve been teaching in the LAUSD for 15 years; I’m a member of UTLA, CTA and NEA (teachers’ unions). I would like to offer a more balanced perspective than what I have read here so far. Teachers are supposed to be “professionals”, yet we are mired in an antiquated management-labor system, much like factory workers. Let’s not kid ourselves–ALL unions are about two things: wages and working conditions. Period. Most teachers I know, including myself, spend many more hours than we are contracted for doing our work. A true professional takes pride in his/her work and gets the job done, no matter what. There are good and bad apples in every profession, obviously, whether teachers, doctors, lawyers or accountants. Doctors, lawyers, etc. also have their own special interest lobbies (AMA, ABA, et. al.) who protect their interests in similar ways as trade unions. Of course…If we teachers want to be considered up there with the other ‘professions’, we need to stop bellyaching and threatening to nickel and dime Management and students, like the teachers’ union leaders in the People’s Republic of Berkeley. ON THE OTHER HAND, the educrats and Joe Q. Public need to stop holding teachers accountable for things beyond their control (third world illegal immigrants’ lack of formal education, dysfunctional families of all socioeconomic levels, parental and student apathy and disrespect, eduwonks who have escaped the classroom and devise endless idiotic ‘reforms’) . Academic success depends on the accountability of teachers, adminstrators, students and their parents. Until you have total cooperation between those groups, merit pay is just a shallow and theoretical notion. Allow teachers/principals to actually enforce discipline and remove unmotivated, disrespectful and disruptive students. Teachers’ authority must not be undermined by spineless principals who kowtow to unreasonable students/parents. Devise a system to remove lemon administrators and teachers. Common sense must replace political correctess. When all that is accomplished, we can divest ourselves of the protection of unions…when doctors divest themselves of the AMA…when lawyers divest themselves of the ABA. Yeah….when pigs fly. ‘Nuff said.

  42. Fuzzy Rider wrote:

    One of the more interesting things about being a teacher is that absolutely EVERYONE seems to know how to do my job better than I do…

    Oh, is that the standard that has to be met before any complaint about lousy results is a fit topic for polite company? I imagine you’re a pretty good doctor then, hey? And how about your plumbing skills? World class, right?

    I don’t recall having this problem when I was in industry…

    It’s called traumatic amnesia.

    Mike in Texas wrote:

    Funny, in my experience as a parent the teachers who speak up about wrongs are also the best teachers.

    Obviously, based on Fuzzy Rider’s complaint, that’s an observation that only your professional credentials allow you to make. Mere parents couldn’t possibly have the education to draw a conclusion like that.

    And you accuse me of illogical fallacies?

    Sure, you didn’t think you were going to get away with it, did you?

    Actually not directed at me but I’ll comment anyway. Once again Allen is reduced to hurling insults b/c he can’t come up with factual arguements. You win, Hube.

    Haven’t we been this route before? You try to strike a pose of refined sensibilities, far above the unseemly hurly-burly of robust discourse, stepping lightly from one wave-top to the next, with the sound of an imaginary, approving audience ringing in your ears while I rhetorically roll my eyes? Yup. I have a definite sense of deja vu again.

    Yo! Nailsagainsttheboard, here’s a little educational exercise for you: make a list of all the successful, responsive, efficient socialist institutions/organizations you can think of or find. After you get tired of sitting there, pen poised above paper, try to appreciate the fact that the public education system is socialist in nature and that explains everything.

    It explains why your call to “Allow teachers/principals to actually enforce discipline and remove unmotivated, disrespectful and disruptive students” isn’t going to happen. And why “a system to remove lemon administrators and teachers” is also not going to happen. It’s socialism and this is what you always get with socialism.

  43. nailsagainsttheboard says:

    Yo, Allen! (apologies to Sly Stallone),

    You’re preaching to the choir–my politics are somewhere to the right of Ann Coulter! If you want to get rid of socialism, you’re going to have to get rid of 1) all illegal immigration from anywhere (not just Mexico), because the massive influx has systematically destroyed public schools 2) the Welfare State {except for legal citizens who are disabled– I’m not a total libertarian, either}
    3) the leftists and socialists in all public sector jobs and 4) completely privatize all schools–get the government out of running schools. Even with all that, there will still be corruption in the private sector, ala Enron-style embezzlement and misappropriation of funds, and assorted bad apples in the profession (abusive teachers, spineless principals, incompetent or greedy bean-counters, you get the picture). You simply aren’t going to change human nature, so we need a system of checks and balances. Our country is clearly a socialistic and capitalistic republic–socialism makes up for the inevitable Darwinian jungle that pure market economies create; capitalism fosters more of a sense of personal responsibility and capital growth. Obviously, I’d rather have very limited socialism–not the current entitlement mentality. However, I’m not willing to give up those checks and balances, so there is a place for unions, just as there is a need for less government regulation and free market capitalism. Teacher unions need to fight for the right to remove disruptive students from public schools. The amount of instructional time wasted on those who do not want to be at school is mind-boggling. The amount of learning time stolen from those who do want to be at school is tragic.

  44. I’m not arguing against socialism in general, at this point in history that would come under the heading of flogging a dead horse. I’m arguing that as a socialist institution most/all of the ills of public education exist precisely because of its socialist nature.

    What that means is that the NCLB, all the state-level accountability schemes, all the hand-wringing newspaper articles and PBS specials are going to amount to nothing. As a socialist system public education is inherently biased against accountability, fiscal responsibility, efficiency, educational efficacy and any other external measure of performance. There is no measure of reform that’ll permanently change the nature of public education and allow it to remain public education.

    Don’t look to the teacher’s unions as allies in an attempt to fix public education. When they were professional associations they might have had some regard for the ethics of their profession but those days are past. They’re now industrial trade unions and any expectation that they’ll act any different then any other industrial union is doomed to disappointment. Would you expect a UAW local to stage a wildcat strike to prevent the production of unsafe cars? Don’t expect an NEA affiliate to walk out over poor test scores.

    I think the dawning realization that there’s no salvaging public education is what’s fueling the continued advancement of the educational alternatives movement. Charters, vouchers, tax-credits, virtual schools are all, I believe, votes of no-confidence in the conventional, district-based public education system.

    It’s why the NEA is no longer the political force it once was. The unions strength is a reflection of public faith in and acceptance of the conventional model of public education. That’s eroding and taking the union’s political influence with it.

  45. Teacher unions need to fight for the right to remove disruptive students from public schools.

    Don’t fewer students equal less money for the schools? This then equals less money for the teachers.

  46. nailsagainsttheboard says:

    I would gladly accept lower ADA money per school in exchange for motivated and cooperative students and a pleasant and productive learning experience each day. Working conditions are as important as wages IMHO.

  47. nailsagainsttheboard says:

    Allen:

    I have never regarded the teachers’ union as an ally; I see them as a necessary evil against an equally evil bureaucracy. The only alternative is to completely privatize and that, as you know, will be in litigation for decades, with socialist activist judges ruling in favor of public education every time. The charter school and voucher movements are still in their infancy. Time will tell.

  48. nailsagainsttheboard wrote:

    I have never regarded the teachers’ union as an ally; I see them as a necessary evil against an equally evil bureaucracy.

    I wasn’t arguing the need/value of teacher’s unions. They just aren’t going to be allies in any attempt to reform the public education system to any substantive degree.

    The first responsibility of any union is to its membership. How could it be otherwise? Could a union remain viable if it’s pursuit of the best deal for its membership was subordinated to virtually any other goal with, perhaps, societal survival being the sole exception?

    But if you accept the proposition that a union’s primary goal is to advance the interests of its membership then what does that tell you about the likelihood that the union will expend any effort to reform public education? Where any reform effort improves in some substantive way the lot of teachers, a bunch. Where a reform isn’t a clear plus for teachers, not much if any effort will be expended by the unions. Where any reform is detrimental to the interests of its membership the union will, properly, be an unremitting opponent of that change even if it clearly improves the education system’s ability to educate.

    With regard to your prediction about a timetable for privatization: I understand you can buy certified chunks of the Berlin wall on Ebay 🙂

    I’m not so much suggesting that public education in the U.S. will collapse in the same way as the Soviet Union did but that simply dismissing the possibility is, in the face of recent history, wishful thinking.

  49. Barry Fike, president of the teachers union, said the district will be getting more money next year and that teachers want a share.

    Nailsagainsttheboard, maybe you could talk with the teachers at Berkley about their pay being fair. The article doesn’t state that the teachers have any complaints about the students and learning environment.

    I caught this also: Fike said teachers are willing to start paying some health care costs, but without a raise that would amount to a pay cut.

    I didn’t realize that all business give yearly raises or that the raises covered the rising cost of health care and insurance costs.

    These teachers aren’t even paying for their own health care costs. It sounds like it’s expected; taxpayers are supposed to subsidize the public school teachers.

  50. cocoablini says:

    I have always found this underpayment argument to be unreasonable. If you compared a teachers salary to another worker, it looks low or undercompensated. But let’s face it, Teachers have all the holidays and long summer break. So, they work after hours-but during the summer they don’t have to do jack. My sister-in-law is a teacher-she has a GREAT time in the summer. Whereas, I have to work all summer.

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