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changing education pt 2

My next step in changing education is to allow for all teachers in all states to unionize.  Currently 22 states are “right to work” states, meaning that unions are not allowed at all.  Wisconsin, Ohio, Vermont have eliminated or are attempting destroy a workers right to collectively bargain for a living wage, safe working conditions, or benefits that has helped to create a middle class in the US.  This simple step would benefit education in 3 simple and overwhelmingly positive ways.

The first benefit of unionizing public ed throughout the country comes in increased student performance. Empirical data clearly demonstrates that the worst performing states come from non-unionized public ed and that the best performing states come from unionized public ed. This trend of increased performance in public schools that are run by unionized teachers is not recent.  In fact, it has been occurring since 1959 when Wisconsin first allowed teachers to unionize.

The second benefit of unionized public ed comes in the professionalizing of the teaching profession. Baby boomers are retiring and there is an alarmingly high turnover rate of new teachers, 1 out of 3, it is important that we look at how we recruit teachers into the profession.  What do we, as a citizenry want teaching our children?  Do you want someone who cant do anything else or do you want someone with real talents in multiple professions choosing education as a career path.  My vote goes to the second option.

By professionalizing education nationwide will increase the cost of teacher’s pay and benefits.  However, education is a public good not a commodity that could or should be traded.  Understanding this simple truth; if we bring better qualified and increasing the talent that steps into the classroom we will produce better students, get better ideas on how to handle the problems that arise within education and in a classroom.  These new teachers will then become administrators and that will also improve how schools are run.

The final benefit comes after teachers professionalize nationally.  The NEA and the AFT, the two largest teachers unions in the US, bargain for more than just pay and benefits; they also bargain for working conditions.  In unionized states teachers are allowed a duty-free lunch period and a prep period to collaborate with other teachers or prepare for the rest of the day.  In some schools teachers unions have bargained for smaller classrooms, allowing teachers to better meet the needs of individual students.  In non-unionized states classroom can range up to 50 students to 1 teacher.  By unionizing a school, teachers can not only ask for but also demand better working conditions, which in turn means better learning environments.

1 Comment

Adults not right wing ideology

Simply put, taxes are when the government takes a small slice of a purchase or income to fund the services that the government provides to its citizenry.  Our society has accepted this concept and it has worked for literally thousands of years.  Recently that concept has been challenged by the Republican Party’s almost religious obsession with the Americans for Tax Reform no tax pledge.  This pledge states that under no circumstances they would support raising taxes.   In a recent interview with Chris Matthews on Hardball, Mr. Norquist was asked if he

Grover Norquist’s organization has had 236 Representatives and 41 Senators in Washington DC have signed it along with 1263 State Representatives have signed it.  On its surface this pledge sounds reasonable and responsible.  After all why should government live outside its means when we cannot?

The problem with this pledge is that it completely ideological and irresponsible.  Under no circumstances should any taxes be raised?  How about if there is an unforeseen disaster?  Like, oh I don’t know, a tornado or a hurricane or an earthquake or a flood or a drought.  None of these things can be planned for and none of these things is cheap to deal with.  On the national level, besides natural disasters, how would we deal with war?

If the Republican Party insists on adhering to Mr. Norquist’s ideology, then people like Rep. Eric Cantor will continue to hijack the ability of responsible adults to make important decisions during important times in our countries history.  Mr. Cantor has twice walked out of meetings over the debt ceiling because he refused to even look at taxes, or, as the Democrats like to put it, revenue enhancers.  The water has been so poisoned that those who are attempting to broker a deal are being forced to look at a smaller less helpful stopgap solution so that the countries credit rating wont collapse.  To reinforce this idea the US right now pays 3% on all its sovereign debt, Greece is paying close to 30%.  The rate by which banks loan money is directly dependant upon the interest rate they pay the Fed’s overnight rate. If we default on our debt that rate will skyrocket, along with credit card rates, home loan rates, rates on lines of credit, etc, etc., etc.  Furthermore the New York Stock Exchange has also begun to react to this crisis in a negative way and investors are beginning to put their money into precious metals instead of IBM.

It is time to stop the demagogy, our country is at risk.  A risk that is as great as any war that we have ever been in.  A risk that can and will collapse our society, as we know it, if we the people don’t tell the ideology to get out and the adults to start to do the peoples work.  Call your representatives, email Grover Norquist tell them that they are dangerous and that you want compromise, not their narrow view on the world.

2 Comments

Total Education News Show

The Total Education Network is the only education talk show that airs 7 days a week. Tonight’s show will be on Blogtalkradio. The Total Tutor will interview Shane from CB Media. We will discuss conservative education news. Please go towww.blogtalkradio.com/totaltutor. at 10 PM Eastern time. Please go to my website at www.totaltutor.org.

Total Tutor

I own a birth through college tutoring and consulting company. Please go to my website at www.totaltutor.org.

Changing education pt 1

This past Sunday night I was co-hosting the Total Tutor educational hour on BlogTalk Radio with Neil Haley.  As we were weaving through a number of educationally directed topics we began discussing how the US compares to the rest of the world.  The usual machinations were thrown back and forth in an attempt to trick one another and to make our points seem more realistic.  Then Neil asked the most salient question of the night, “If you could, how would you change education in the US?”  Which brings me to the point of this and my next few blog entries.

My first move, now that I am the grand poobah of education, would to eliminate completely the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).  This act, on the surface would seem to be a great idea.  Means testing all students, holding schools accountable for the education of the students in the classroom, creating state mandated benchmarks that every school in that state must meet and enforcing it with the threat of loss of funding and government takeover.  We can argue, and have multiple times, how NCLB was created but lets just say that it was a bi-partisan effort and both political parties were and are still wrong.

Where NCLB falls woefully short is in its goals and enforcement.  First, NCLB is a federal mandate.  As Gerald W. Bracey a former George Mason associate professor at George Mason University eloquently laid out, NCLB is not based on research, is unnecessarily punitive, and its goals are absurdly unattainable.  In what world does anyone think that 100% of all students can and will be proficient in math and reading!?!?!?  Show me any industry where 100% is the minimum standard by which they are measured, it can and should be a goal, but not the base minimum by which they are measured.

Another flaw of NCLB is that there is no federal standard for all students.  The standards are created and measured by each individual state.  This means that states can and have gerrymandered the educational standards of their states.  All a state has to do is apply for a federal waver and changed can be made.  One example of this being done is in Pennyslvania.  Because schools were not meeting the standards set by NCLB, the state of Pennysvania borrowed an idea from North Carolina and instituted PVAAS.  This is a value-added system of measuring the academic growth of students over a series of years and a series of standardized exams.  Students, and by proxy schools, do better on the PVAAS than they do with NCLB testing.  So the state looks awesome because they can say that their children and being educated better, schools are happy because they are receiving a little less heat from politicians and parents are happy because their child is being taken care of.

Eliminating NCLB totally frees schools to be bolder in meeting the needs of the modern student.  It will help to create a more professional environment inside schools be releasing the constant federal oversite of education (which is unconstitutional by the way).  Bringing back state or local control over education will also create an environment that encourages the publics accountablitiy of their own schools.

too much freedom

It is important to remember that the freedoms we have in this country are couched within the box of restrictions that the Constitution and our social norms allow.  Our first amendment rights (Freedom of Speech) is a great example of this.  These restrictions are best explained as time, place, and manner (TPM) restrictions accommodate public convenience and promote order by regulating traffic flow, preserving property interests, conserving the environment, and protecting the administration of justice.  In other words you have to right to say whatever you want, whenever you want, however you want as long as you don’t lie about your subject, attempt to cause harm with your speech or intentionally mislead the public with your speech.

Middle and High School students speech is even further restricted inside the confines of the school buildings.  School officials can only restrict speech if it is perceived to be disruptive to the school environment and its students.  So yes, students do have freedom of speech, but the box that they live in is much smaller in comparison to yours or mine.  Furthermore, all of the Supreme Court cases that deal with this topic were laid down prior to the internet explosion, and the prevalence of MySpace, and Facebook.

In two recent court decisions, Pennsylvania, student’s freedom of speech has been expanded and encouraged. , In both cases, the Pa Supreme Court allowed students to parody school officials from their homes on Facebook using their own computers.  They made jokes about school officials and in another case created epitaph filled remarks about the size of a principal.  The Court decided in both cases that the students did not violate established guidelines for current law and therefore their speech was protected.

The posting of these “parodies” was purposely posted for public consumption on the World Wide Web, which reaches into the school building.   The purpose was a juvenile attempt to demean and disrupt the authority of building officials.  They posted misleading, harmful and potentially job killing remarks about these professionals.  These principals’ abilities to be pillars within their communities and to lead future generations of students has been seriously if not permanently degraded.

In both of these cases I agree with the dissenting decisions.  The courts protected the wrong kind of speech here. They harmed the educational environment because students now can mock an administrator/teacher without fear of punishment. Make no mistake, the decisions that were made in Pennsylvania will be used in other states to challenge and push student’s first amendment rights even further.   If these cases are allowed to stand as they currently are, discipline and the public view of educators will continue to decline in both importance and significance in our countries eyes.

BSC

What is a BSC? A BSC is a behavior support consultant. Parents say their BSC does not do a thing. My TSS does all the work. My BSC never calls me back. I disagree. What do you think?