Saturday, August 07, 2010

Really Milwaukee Teachers? (Open Thread)

At least our district doesn't have to contend with this issue.

At the end of a long week, what are your thoughts?

42 comments:

Charlie Mas said...

"Lawyers for the School Board say the drugs were excluded in 2005 to save money, and there is no discrimination because they are used primarily for recreational sex and not out of medical necessity."

Are we to understand that recreational sex isn't a medical necessity?

Would they refuse someone shoulder surgery because raising your arm above your shoulder isn't a medical necessity, you just want to be able to do it so you can play tennis?

Anonymous said...

Most of the country is trying to get basic health coverage for themselves, and the teacher's union wants to make sure every old geezer can still have sex... on the public dime.

Anonymous said...

Basic state employee health plans also generally don't cover those drugs, but more expensive premium plans might, said Dick Cauchi, who tracks health benefits at the National Conference of State Legislatures.

hschinske said...

I don't think the cases are comparable. It's more like someone wanting steroids to make their tennis shoulder stronger. Apparently Viagra is now widely used by men who in fact have no dysfunction that would require its use. Such a use is quite reasonably described as "recreational." I do think Viagra should be covered where there is a definite condition causing impotence (e.g., multiple sclerosis, diabetes).

Now, if the union were fighting for birth control coverage, which probably affects a hell of a lot more teachers ... THAT I could accept.

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

Right. They probably don't include birth control coverage either. If they don't cover birth control pills, why should viagra be some sort of right? The idea that every single medical issued is covered by insurance is naive. What about psychiatric conditions? Most insurance plans don't cover that, or cover it at parity. Given all the things insurance doesn't cover, this is pretty far down on the list.

Why would the teacher's union go to the mat for something like this? It dilutes their credibility. Let 'em pay for their own boners. It's not like somebody is denying them one.

Bruce Taylor said...

The Seattle Times editorial board must've been doing high fives when they were gifted with this opportunity to trash a teachers' union with a sensational front-page headline.

hschinske said...

Washington State now requires mental health treatment to be covered.

Helen Schinske

kprugman said...

This reads like more disinformation being spread by officials rather than union members gone wild. Its so far out there, its not believable. The district laid off around 486 teachers this year alone and recalled 87?

The district is using the MacIver Institute to prepare its reports for them. One of the issues facing their union is the dismantling of teachers health benefits program ($46 million in savings for the district).

This is from a local Milwaukee blogger:

Be warned: The MacIver Institute is a not a news service. It is not a member of the traditional media. It is a right wing educational “charitable” organization and it is gathering footage to advance its conservative, anti-worker agenda.

Talking to the MacIver Institute is abetting the conservative movement in its efforts to ensure progressive values and issues are not a part of the public policy debate.

MacIver has spent considerable time criticizing the 2009-11 state budget, the Recovery Act, reforming the health insurance industry and stopping global climate change.

MacIver is financed and run by leading conservatives, many with long ties to the Republican Party. Speaking on camera with the MacIver Institute helps the conservative movement by giving legitimacy to its faux “reporting,” as its “interviews” are regularly posted on the MacIver website.

WHO IS THE MACIVER INSTITUTE
The MacIver Institute is a conservative, pro-corporate organization founded in 2009 to advance conservative ideas and values.

Its top staff is long-time Republican campaign strategists and its board of directors includes leading Republicans, most notably

Mark Block, the head of Americans for Prosperity-WI

Fred Lubar, deep-pocketed Republican donor.

Jim Troupis, lawyer to leading Republicans such as Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen and ethically-challenged Supreme Court Justices Mike Gableman and Annette Ziegler."

So as with most fairy-tale news, you can choose to believe what you read.

Sahila said...

KPRugman - it would be good if you posted your last two comments on the Times page this was published on...

this kind of disinformation needs to be countered....

kprugman said...

And I would agree with anon - viagra coverage is a more expensive premium plan. It would make no sense to give teachers that plan because they would be paying more for basic coverage.

From my modest reading - it appears from comments that the milwaukee teacher's union had been trading salary cuts for better healthcare.

That'll teach them.

Sahila said...

Merit Pay 101:

http://my.compassionateactionnetwork.com/video/teachers-and-merit-pay-101?xg_source=activity

kprugman said...

Best presentation I've seen. Thank you. If that doesn't knock some sense into Bill Gates I don't know what will. He ought to go work in a barrio for a while - I sort of like it - people are more real and its kind of a jolt. You have to think alot more.

Yesterday I was told I had to produce a list of my students with their textbook numbers (state audits the library).

That took a half hour of instruction time. Not bad considering all the kids that had to be moved while the school was trying to balance classes (3 weeks). 20 years of experience counts for something, we hope.

Sahila said...

Harium has "retired" his blog, due to "extra work commitments" and "lack of time"...

dan dempsey said...

Harium said:

"Due to taking on a new assignment at work I can not longer dedicate the time and effort required to maintain this blog and perform all of my other duties I am retiring this blog.

The hours that are required to do the blog by myself are not available to me any longer. Moving forward I will seek another technology that will allow for the exchange of ideas and opinions.

In the mean time email and contacting the board office are still available."


The obvious question now becomes:

Why doesn't Harium extend blog writing permission to each of the other 6 Directors on his current blog?

Surely the job of blogging that Harium managed reasonably well could be assumed as a team project by 7 directors.
Then again communication with the public might NOT be desired by the Board.

Note a blog is less work than responding to multiple emails ... but with a blog ... frequent no response is noticeable ... unlike massive neglect of emails.

Sahila said...

I was restraining myself from airing my real thoughts about Harium closing down his blog...

I think it got too hot in the kitchen!

Sahila said...

All the comments on all of Harium's threads are gone....

Anonymous said...

Sadly, all of the posts are now gone as of 2pm too.

dan dempsey said...

Interesting at a time when contract negotiations are coming ....

History is erased on Harium's Blog.

There you have the kind of openness and transparency that is practiced unlike the fairy-tale openness and transparency spoken about.

Is this erasure of history an accident?

Looks like standard operating procedure for the Board.

kprugman said...

MGJ says perhaps SPS better get out the YES-vote. Erase everything now. There's no conspiracies here, except for maybe my food caterer.

dan dempsey said...

Harium replied to me that he took the Blog action he did to prevent more comments from accumulating which he will be unable to answer.

As soon as he can find a way to turn off new action and yet keep old files available he will do so.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Again, Harium has a full-time job and he got elected to at least a half-time job. I can see his point. That said, he was getting pummelled with questions and he did just mostly blow them off.

Since the last time the Board said "all will be revealed" (that being how the new SAP was to be implemented and how families faced with a incoming K and already established student split), I take his attitude that they'll let us know in August with a whole shaker full of salt.

dan dempsey said...

Pretty much a summary of what happens in regard to anything of substance that the public wants real answers for:

just mostly blow them off.

Seems to work for both Central Admin and the Board in many cases.

Far too often in 4-3 votes and 5-2 votes those in the majority have Zip for justification.

With the $453,299 MAP 7-0 approval ... it was again Zip for justification ... so

just mostly blow them off.

=============
What a sad situation in a supposed Republic.

dan dempsey said...

Alright!!!

Harium has flipped the switch so that old posts and comments are available but no new ones.

Sahila said...

The District sure is bending over backwards to ensure our children get a good education...

I want an alternative education for my son (going into Grade 2, currently out of district because of the year-by-year fiasco that is AS#1)...

He's happy socially, doing well and the commute is a bummer...

So, at open enrolment time, I asked for a place for him at:
Bagley's Montessori programme, Salmon Bay (our reference alternative) or Thornton Creek... (we live in Greenwood, north Seattle)

Well, he got assigned to Broadview Thompson (23 blocks north) and is on the waitlist at Bagley (27 blocks south)..

Trouble is Broadview Thompson hasnt met AYP and so we got a letter today offering us a place (with transport) at one of the following:

Jane Addams - north-east (Lake City/Meadowbrook), 5.4 miles away...

McDonald - south - Greenlake/U-District), 4.9 miles away

Queen Anne - southwest, 5.4 miles

and Adams - north west, (Ballard) 4.3 miles

and the first three havent made AYP either; Addams because its only been operating a year and McDonald and Queen Anne because they dont exist yet!

Love it, love it, love it....

Guess my son's staying out of district!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sahila said...

My point was that the District is required to offer a place at other schools that are making AYP and three of the four schools they offered havent make AYP and the fourth one (which has made AYP) is 5 miles away - which would be at least an hour's bus ride away...

No, I dont care about test scores...

And I dont want a traditional school - I want an alternative education for my son and that means an alt school or Montessori...

And its not available...

Salmon Bay, our reference alternative school, is full to the gills (if you pardon the pun!) ... and the nearest Montessori (27 blocks away (2 miles, less distance than Salmon Bay) is also full to the rafters - right now, they're trying to figure out where they're going to put their extra kindergarten classes this year...

Sahila said...

And the other part of that is that we had all that kerfuffle in closing schools and early bell times and cutting transportation and all city draws...

And they've opened new schools that are not attracting any takers AND TO FILL THEM UP, THEY OFFER PEOPLE 5 MILES AWAY TRANSPORTATION TO GET THEIR KIDS THERE AND BACK...

for us, for any of the schools on offer, my son would be first on the bus in the morning - probably around 7.30am and last off in the afternoon around 4.30pm... and a 7 year old is supposed to do well on this schedule? And this isnt going to cost more in transportation?

Stupidity reigns supreme in this district....

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sahila said...

I'd prefer a Summerhill/Sudbury model programme for my son...

or Waldorf...

closest to that in the public system is an alternative school (AS#1 and Room 9 Shoreline in their heyday were closest) and Montessori...

If he was in high school, I'd want him to go to Nova...

not all option schools are 'alternative' Broadview Thompson is definitely not alternative - its about as traditional as you can get...

See policy C54.00 for definitions of alt schools...

An identifying nom de plume would be good, anonymous...

Kin2010 said...

Are fall enrollment #s posted anywhere on district's web site for Kindergartens? If so are they up to date - reflecting shifts over the summer? I'm curious about which schools have waiting lists and which have space still.

Jan said...

Kin2010: On the district enrollment page, there is a link to a document, posted July 1, that shows the waitlist status for kindergartners. Now I can't recall if it is for ALL kindergarten children, or only for siblings. I can't find anything more current than that, and the information that USED to be up for all schools, and all grades, has been taken down.

ArchStanton said...

This is sort of a cheap-shot, but seems worth sharing.

There's an article at http://shannynmoore.wordpress.com/2010/08/08/sarah-palins-homer-moment/ about an incident that occurred while Sarah Palin was shooting her new reality tv show.

It includes a bit of video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uKflKzmfRCw&feature=player_embedded where she is confronted by an Alaska resident.

Partisan politics aside, what was really notable was the snarky, disdainful reaction shared by Palin and her daughter after the woman says she is a teacher (and nothing more). It's so painfully obvious that you can tell when she says it with the sound off.

When did we grow so hateful and disrespectful of teachers?

Kin2010 said...

Jan: It is just the sibs. Thanks though.

Josh Hayes said...

An article of possible interest to this blog's readership is in this morning's (Tuesday) NY Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/10/education/10schools.html?_r=1&th&emc=th

Darnit, not a live link....hmm...

Anyway, the article is titled "Inexperienced Companies Chase U.S. School Funds"; first para:

"With the Obama administration pouring billions into its nationwide campaign to overhaul failing schools, dozens of companies with little or no experience are portraying themselves as school-turnaround experts as they compete for the money."

Maureen said...

Here's a live link.

“This is like the aftermath of the Civil War, with all the carpetbaggers and charlatans”

I think that is a really apt comparision.


And since this is all new, how does a District even determine the best company to hire? And since they are spending federal money, do they even have much of an incentive to think hard about the decision?

Here's another link to an article that highlights a better (I think) way of helping schools turn around: Lesson Plan in Boston Schools: Don’t Go It Alone. It sounds to me like it empowers teachers and doesn't involve hring a lot of outside consultants.

dan dempsey said...

The Sudbury Valley School near Framingham Mass.

To follow up on Sahila's request for truly alternative options.

Check this:
http://www.sudval.org/

Note: the cost comparison with SPS spending. So while many folks might not desire the Sudbury Valley approach for a child I think many others would.

Note: Sudbury was founded by a Columbia University Physics professor and his wife.
=============

Note: NTN Cleveland STEM is slated to cost far more than District average. NT Sacramento costs around $1300 more per student per year than other district high schools.

Sudbury tuition is substantially less than the cost of other Mass. public schools.

I find little to support Dr. Goodloe-Johnson's preference for centralized dictatorship. I can't find data in support of her expensive inappropriate model for Seattle Schools.

Perhaps she could provide it.

Josh Hayes said...

I've always found Sudbury to be an interesting approach, and we strongly considered putting our kids at the local version, the Clearwater School, until they moved to the wilds of Bothell.

In fact, a number of kids from Clearwater have migrated to AS1 in hopes of finding a similarly child-centered approach.

Dora Taylor said...

At the behest of a friend, I am posting here my response to “An Open Letter to Seattle Public School Parents” by Our Schools’ Coalition.

It goes as follows:

Part 1

Let’s get to the bottom of this.

Below is a letter to Seattle Public School parents. Since I am part of that audience, I will take a moment to respond to this letter sent out by Our Schools Coalition.

An Open Letter to Seattle Public School Parents

WHO WE ARE & WHY WE ARE WRITING

We are fellow Seattle Public School parents, local employers, community volunteers and taxpayers. Above all we are passionate supporters of public education. Our diverse group of over 30 citywide organizations and community leaders came together in March to form the Our Schools Coalition. We united to express the community’s voice in teacher contract negotiations, to advocate for our children, and to support teachers as professionals.

(This statement is so not true. This faux roots organization, Our Schools’ Coalition, was the brainchild of Karen Waters at Strategies 360 , a strategic marketing group with clients such as Xerox and AgriBeef that was hired by the Alliance for Education to push the reform agenda of high stakes testing and merit pay. The Alliance for Education is backed by Bill Gates and the Broad Foundation. Both organizations are big backers of charter schools and high stakes testing among other things.

The Alliance for Education approached several civic groups with their Community Value Statement which is shown below:

We believe:

All schools must be quality schools, and the district should ensure:

• Every school is led by a principal who is an effective instructional

leader and manager

• Every classroom is led by an effective teacher

• Every student is provided equitable access to core academics,

enrichment opportunities and services as needed

• Every family is given the opportunity to work in collaboration with Educators.

While recognizing the financial constraints placed on the school district, we believe each of these elements must be met and that each is an important factor in improving the quality of education for Seattle children.

That seems innocuous enough. Who doesn’t want the best quality education for their children? Unfortunately, after several groups signed on to this statement, it was then used by the Alliance for the purpose of pushing the Race to the Top agenda fueled by Gates and Broad money.

Hey, it worked for AgriBeef, why shouldn’t this same strategy work on us folks in Seattle?)

Dora Taylor said...

Part 2

WHY THIS SUMMER’S TEACHER CONTRACT NEGOTIATIONS ARE SO IMPORTANT

Today, our schools work well for some, but not all. Only 6 of 10 students in the class of 2008 graduated.

1 For nearly all students of color, the graduation rate is much lower. Only 17% of those who do graduate are qualified for college acceptance

2. Improving these numbers is a moral and economic imperative. More than grades are at stake; a quality education is core to personal, family and community success.

(The teacher’s contract negotiations are important this year for some because of the issue of merit pay and trying to make teachers feel that everyone in the community thinks that they should capitulate to having their pay tied to a student’s performance. That’s why all of the concern this year about the contract negotiations. For anyone out there, have you heard so much about teachers’ union negotiations ever in your life before? And this pressure started months ago.)

(Yes, and let’s look at those “children of color”. For me personally this is a moral outrage. Being African-American I am acutely aware of the need for additional support for such students. What outrages me is the fact that such an emphasis is placed on a teacher’s performance and none on what is truly needed in these schools, smaller class sizes and wrap-around services that could assist families in supporting their children in school and ensuring that each child is healthy, clothed properly, fed and ready to focus on the work in front of them.

The outrage is that these backers of RTTT use such children as an example of why their agenda would work but all it does in the end is make a few people more wealthy through privatization of a public trust and does nothing in the meantime for these “children of color”. These same people get out of paying millions if not billions of dollars in taxes through corporate loopholes, tax cuts and laws instituted in Congress at their request, tax dollars that could truly help these “children of color” get through school successfully by funding early child care and education, adequate medical care, family counseling support, adequate books and materials in the classrooms, safe and clean buildings and enrichment programs that their school PTSA’s or the community cannot afford to fund. Then these “children of color” would have a chance.)

{Don’t allow these folks to try and make you feel some moral “white guilt” about these “children of color”. This has nothing to do with being politically correct. They are using these children to promote their agenda and what they are doing is despicable. See: Civil Rights Leaders Speak Out Against Race to the Top, http://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/2010/08/08/civil-rights-leaders-speak-out-against-race-to-the-top/)

Dora Taylor said...

Part 3

Great teaching is the key to educational success. The contract under negotiation right now by Seattle Public Schools and its union (the Seattle Education Association) affects us all, and impacts our children directly. This contract will determine many things, including:

How many hours a day your child is in school; (This has to do with the district’s budget and has nothing to do with the teachers. They have been cutting class time for years because there is not adequate public funding for a longer school day.)

How your child’s teacher is mentored, supported, acknowledged and compensated; (Merit pay)

Whether your child’s academic progress over the course of the year will factor into his or her teacher’s evaluation; (Here is the merit pay issue that is an integral part of charter schools where the teacher gets paid based on class scores.)

How great teachers are motivated to teach in our highest-need schools and to stay there; (Actually we do have great teachers in these schools. These are the teachers who are dedicated and motivated to teach in the most difficult situations where the odds are against them. To say otherwise is an insult to those teachers.)

Whether, in the event of layoffs, your child’s talented first-year teacher will lose his or her job merely because he or she lacks seniority; (Actually, I want a teacher in my student’s class who does have the experience gained from at least a few years of experience. But actually, this has to do with bringing in Teach for America recruits in the near future who will take over the jobs of more senior teachers as has happened in states where charter schools have started to pop up based on the requirements of Race to the Top. The charter schools do not hire union staff but instead hire inexperienced teachers who are in some states uncertified and are less expensive. This cost savings increases the bottom line of profit for the charter school franchise. Many of these teachers who are hired are Teach for America recruits. These folks are fresh out of college and promise to tech for three years before going off to their planned career which usually has nothing to do with teaching. By the way Bill 6696 has a provision in it regarding alternate routes of hiring teachers. This provision has everything to do with Teach for America.)

How ineffective teachers are removed. (Actually there is a system in place that is used to “remove” a teacher. It is similar to the corporate model and meets Federal guidelines that a principal can use. It is a lengthy process but similar to what we used in the corporate world where I used to reside. The Seattle Education Association has developed additional guidelines that have been proposed during the negotiations that our superintendent has rejected. See last post.)

Dora Taylor said...

Part 4

WHAT WE PROPOSE

Prior to the start of negotiations in April, the Our Schools Coalition presented nine proposals to District management and the teachers union. We strongly believe students and teachers will significantly benefit from these proposals, including:

Providing teachers more time to prepare for class and collaborate with their peers; (This has been a request made by teachers that is being hashed out as we speak.)

Strengthening teacher evaluations so they are meaningful, tied to student learning, and a useful tool for teachers and administrators. This includes factoring performance into staffing decisions, as opposed to prioritizing seniority; (In other words, merit pay based on student testing. Please note how language is used to say but not quite say what they really mean. This is the fine art of marketing and exactly what the Alliance is paying for.)

Creating new career paths and compensation opportunities for highly effective teachers and those who take on added responsibilities. (Well, first you should pay teachers for their additional time but at this point all teachers that I know work past what they get paid to do, so let’s just give all teachers a raise to start with. What does “highly effective teachers” mean? Whenever I see the term “effective teaching”, it is tied to student test results.)

Dora Taylor said...

Part 5

WE MUST ACT NOW:

CALL or EMAIL your school board representative to support these proposals. (The school board directors have nothing to do with teacher negotiations.)

Sign up to speak at the August 18th school board meeting. (Done)

Forward this letter to other Seattle Public School parents and community members and urge them to spread the word. (Done, with attached comments.)

Survey data shows overwhelming support among parents for these changes (Not.)

Districts across the country have already adopted similar reforms. (Yes, they have and they are finding out that merit pay doesn’t impact at all on a student’s performance and that charter schools do the same if not less in terms of educating a student. And as my mother would have asked, “Just because someone else jumped off of a cliff, does that mean that you should to?”)

Today, Seattle has this same opportunity. Make your voice heard on behalf of our children and our community’s future. (And that I agree with. More parents need to start speaking out at board meetings, through e-mails, through comments on this blog and in newspapers about the education of our children and what WE think works.)

Dora