It's not for the children -- it's for the unionized progressive teachers ...
Helen Thomas: The ugliness is more than skin deep ...

It's not for the children -- it's for the unionized progressive teachers (Part II) ...

Yesterday’s blog post on education, It's not for the children -- it's for the unionized progressive teachers ... seemed to resonate with a number of people. Here are two completely different stories, separated by thousands of miles, but seemingly on the same topic.

About yesterday’s post, an anonymous reader comments …

- on the topic of letting teachers vote on their peers ... let it be like survivor, where their peers get to vote someone off (the risk of this approach is that the nuts outnumber the good teachers ... and they'll throw out the ones that threaten the status quo of mediocrity)

- regarding the LVUSD Waldorf school (Mariposa). It's genesis was a couple who wanted to start their own charter school, but the Supt convinced them he would work with them without the need to go to the trouble of a charter. After it got established, they were able to get the nut jobs removed. I've heard the current leader has a questionable background, but is better than the founders. Comments I've heard from parents at the school (Sumac) that is co-located with Mariposa is that those kids have no rules, and respect no one. We have friends with kids there ;) A large majority of the Mariposa parents have requested that their students not be tested by STAR. Mariposa was just authorized to expand their program from K-5 to -8 (apparently an attempt to keep students from leaving the treasury of LVUSD and going elsewhere).

- Oak Park USD has done an amazing job of recruiting students from out of district. The roster of one K-5 class, for example, showed 80% of the students from out of district. Apparently they recruit the kids of people who work locally. LVUSD saw their kids getting recruited away and in the past year have been aggressive at recruiting kids to offset it's declining enrollment.

They have a large enrollment of LAUSD students. K-5 schools are being told to innovate in order to survive (or else be consolidated).

Two schools presented plans to the School Board last fall to become academies. One is attempting to both offer instruction in a second language (none of the teachers speak that language - Spanish), and STEM. The teachers at this school came out in force to the Board meeting to show support (with the threat of potentially being closed/consolidated if the plan wasn't accepted). Unfortunately, the Principal has to deal with inconsistent support in its implementation. It's the slugs who abuse workers comp and cry grievance (and would show to be the worst teachers if they did value-added analysis) that are the obstacles.

- LVUSD recruited a CTLO (Chief Technology Learning Officer, I think) last year. So far his priorities have been to try to turn his support staff into a real department with accountability and skills (a tall order), and to fix problems with service and infrastructure. Unfortunately, he has such poor support from his staff, and he has spent so much time firefighting, that his true skills and capabilities are sitting on the shelf. The district should be working on plans to better use technology in the classroom while he's busy sticking band-aids on a broken system.

- The school board is actually fairly impressive in terms of being knowledgeable (at least 3 of them, anyway) and being very involved in the trenches with many of the projects that are going on.

Unfortunately, their ambitions and goals are very low. If they set the bar higher, so much more progress could be made much more quickly.

It would be cool if there was a backlash to their fundraising that said: "If you want my money, then you'll start doing X, Y & Z". Instead, rumors are that the 2 days of teacher professional development that the district traditionally sponsored will be cut from next year's budget (the program sucked anyways, but could be powerful if they believed in PD [Professional Development] and accountability... and if the state regulations didn't get in the way.

Did you know there is a type of credential (a grandfathered one) that says specifically that those teachers can not be required to do any professional development?

- regarding PD, a previously existing foundation supporting the district had sent teachers over the summer to a fairly decent program. The school district hasn't been very supportive. The foundation sponsored a presentation by those teachers during a holiday (I think it was Thanksgiving weekend), and no one from the district administration showed up.

It was impressive to see some teachers report on how they were trying to apply 21st century skills in the classroom. Except for those few teachers who attended, the benefits of that learning is lost to the district. The program offers DVDs of their entire week of seminars for $1000. It would be great to have it in the library for PD for the teachers, and have those teachers who are enthusiastic about it (who have in a sense been through a train-the-trainer program) teach at the next PD session with the district. Because of politics, this opportunity appears to be wasted.

- oh, there's so much more!

Should the “Mariposa” experiment be expanded or should the students be accommodated within “Sumac?” Based on the test results for 2010 (See reference links section below), there is little or no doubt in my mind that someone needs to take a good hard look at this program.

And from thousands of miles away …

An Open Letter to Grayslake School Board President, Mary Garcia

Mary Garcia ,President, Board of Education ;School District #46; Grayslake, IL

Let me say first that I’m not certain who was speaking on behalf of the school board in the videos of a recent meeting, so I have addressed this email to you as the board president – it may very well apply to one or more of the rest of the BOE, with the likely exception of Michael Carbone. He would appear to be the only person on the D46 school board who understands that the overused rhetoric which says you as a board do everything for the benefit of the student, is a blatant lie.

Most people would not argue the assumption that the focus of any school board is to address the effectiveness and optimization of learning for students, but that does not, by any stretch of the imagination, preclude your responsibility to respect the desires and resources of the taxpayers. They are an essential stakeholder in the realm of public education and you are totally out of line when you ignore and financially abuse them.

The arrogance and autocratic attitude that your board demonstrated in choosing to ignore fiscally responsible questions from board member Michael Carbone about teachers who may have been derelict in their duty to students and taxpayers should be viewed as a threat to taxpayers everywhere.

Who in the world do you think you are? Under what Constitution, if any, do you think you live? Michael Carbone was addressing an issue for which every single taxpayer in that district has a vested interest in knowing the truth. The board, however, obviously feels they live above and beyond the truth.

Those questions were answered quickly when it became known that you, Ms. Garcia, are a teacher in that same school district. You aren’t only a fox in the henhouse, but you are the fox who runs their own, personal henhouse. What bothered you most, Ms. Garcia? Was it your listening as a school board president, as a teacher in that same district, as an ideological liberal, or as an entitlement-driven union member who believes that being a parasite to taxpayers is your ‘right’? Sounds like you have some sizable conflicts of interest – none of which have anything to do with the support of the taxpayer or, as was painfully clear with the recent protests by Wisconsin teachers/union thugs who abandoned their students, the priority of your students.

Throw into this mix a guidance counselor Glenn Miller (for others wishing to address this less than august body, their email addresses at the embedded link). Miller sent out a rally cry to fellow entitlement hounds that citizens are coming to their senses in Wisconsin and that the Grayslake teacher union members needed to perform their ‘union duty’. Yet, somehow, the self-serving school board members felt it was Michael Carbone who was out of line.

Seems to me that the teachers made it quite clear that students and learning opportunities were secondary to the needs of the unions and their liberal leeches who are hell-bent on clinging to a benefit package that is mathematically unsustainable. Seems to me it’s everyone but Michael Carbone that should be censured and, in fact, removed from the school board.

Those of us who believe in personal responsibility and earning what we reap owe you and the rest of your board a debt of gratitude for awakening our senses.

It’s apparently your desire to wage war against the rest of society if we, as taxpayers and parents, refuse to submit to financial rape while at the same time having too many of your liberal brethren subject students to mind-numbing life lessons.

We accept your challenge and, further, will commit to ensuring that you and those like you will not succeed.

You and your ilk have put a stain on the reputation of those hardworking teachers who are committed to teaching young people how to learn, how to be self-responsible, and how to own their future.

Thanks for the wakeup call!

Rick Newton

Wayne, IL

Bottom line …

Both parents and taxpayers have respect for the hardworking teachers struggling to educate children – but little or no respect for a system which has become corrupt, self-serving and does a great disservice to both its students and the taxpayers they purport to serve.

Nobody begrudges school districts money to build modern facilities with the latest technology. But we sure as hell resent a custom-built school costing over $350 million dollars (three times a normal high school) to stroke the ego of a modern-art aficionado and billionaire with political influence. Who needs a $500 million high school complex at the site of one of the nation’s liberal tragedies (the assassination of Bobby Kennedy) to serve as a monument to progressive politics in an age of declining enrollment – and declining student achievement.

Or why should the taxpayer create a lifetime sinecure for teachers who really couldn’t make it in the private sector and barely demonstrate teaching ability and subject-matter competence in the public sector? Why am I depriving myself and my family of a vacation to provide teachers with lifetime employment (tenure), lifetime health benefits and a retirement that exceeds anything for equivalent professionals in the private sector?

We are pouring billions of dollars into educational ventures and receiving pennies for our troubles. Children who are functionally illiterate and drop-out of the educational system in record numbers. And a class of unionized public employees that believe that the world owes them a living in the tough economic times that affect us all.

It’s about time we took at look at how we are being taxed and how that money is flowing to those who are not getting the job done for our children.

Now is the time for change – that is if most parents can demand results and stop treating our school systems as some form of daycare.

-- steve

Reference Links …

STAR – California Standardized Testing And Reporting

There is little or no doubt in my mind that the Las Virgenes School District is a progressive-run institution. One glance at the edu-babble should be convincing enough.

From their website …

“The mission of the Las Virgenes Unified School District is to ensure that all programs are dedicated toward enhancing student achievement, and that each school is a humanistic organization, valuing students emotionally and academically, providing the highest quality education possible in a personalized environment. We aspire to enable each student to realize maximum potential as a responsible citizen who will enhance the community and society.:

So I went looking for exceptional results from a so-called “exceptional school” using a 4th grade filter. Unfortunately, the so-called exceptional school seemingly produced worse results than the “regular” school.

Mariposa …

2010 STAR Test Results -- Mariposa Elementary School; Las Virgenes Unified District: Mariposa Elementary School of School

Total Enrollment on First Day of Testing: 64; Total Number Tested: 64

CST English-Language Arts – Grade 4 – 32% (Basic level or below basic)

CST Mathematics – Grade 4 – 32% (Basic level or below basic)

From their website …

“Our Mission is to create a learning environment in a public school setting where social-emotional and academic development are equally valued and viewed as integral predictors of our children's success. We will strive to instill in our children the value of a global education including world studies and environmental education in a place where visual and performing arts are basic ingredients. All the while we will preserve the sanctity of childhood and individuality through a developmental, experiential, and standards-based curriculum that fosters creativity in teaching and learning.”

Sumac …

2010 STAR Test Results -- Sumac Elementary School; Las Virgenes Unified District : Sumac Elementary School

Total Enrollment on First Day of Testing: 306; Total Number Tested: 302

CST English-Language Arts – Grade 4 – 13% (Basic level, below basic or far below basic)

CST Mathematics – Grade 4 – 21% (Basic level or below basic)

From their website …

“To promote 21st century learning that goes above and beyond our standards-based instructional program in an effort to elevate global literacy for our students through Language immersion and STEM.

"L" - Dual-Language (English/Spanish) will be offered at the Kindergarten level in the Fall and will roll up through each year through 5th grade.
"S" - Science will be presented through hands-on units and integrated throughout the curriculum at all grade levels.
"T" - Technology is infused into all curricular areas through systematic technological instruction, schoolwide use of Mobi Boards, Student Response Systems (clickers), state-of-the-art computer labs, and student laptops.
"E" - Engineering will be integrated into the instructional program utilizing the Engineering Design Process: Ask, Imagine, Plan, Create, Improve.
"M" – Mathematics will involve whole-brain learning with an emphasis on real-world application and will cross other curricular areas.”

Without trying to be snarky …

Why would you teach “globalism” and then concentrate on the Spanish Language? I am unaware of any important business or scientific achievements coming from Spanish-speaking countries. Most foreign countries are teaching their students English – the language of Science and Commerce. Perhaps these students might be better off learning either Chinese or Russian – or possibly French if they want to be effete government employees?

It appears, at least to me, that the concentration on Spanish is not only to accommodate illegal aliens, but also to bump the salaries of those unionized teachers who may be Spanish speakers. My suggestion is to test the language proficiency, teaching ability and subject-matter competence of all teachers before giving them promotions or pay raises.

“Nullius in verba.”-- take nobody's word for it!

“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”-- George Bernard Shaw

“Progressive, liberal, Socialist, Marxist, Democratic Socialist -- they are all COMMUNISTS.”

“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS

"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius

“A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell

“Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt." (The people gladly believe what they wish to.) ~Julius Caesar

“Describing the problem is quite different from knowing the solution. Except in politics." ~ OCS