Robert A. Teegarden's Blog

September 11, 2012

It’s time that students and their parents strike!

Teachers can strike.  Cafeteria workers can strike.  Janitors can strike.  Support personnel in schools can strike.  Why not the students?  What happens when students don’t show up?  Who really gets hurt in a strike?

These are the worst of times, to quote the bard.  There is no best.  Because no matter what, no matter if there is a settlement, no matter when, students are hurt irreparably.  The effects cannot be undone; it’s like a lifetime scar.  You see most kids are in second grade only once (save for a few).  And when asked about it in the future, some of these strike victims will have to say, “Second grade was the toughest two years of my life.”

The energy and momentum of a new school year cannot be regained.  It’s unconscionable for these adults to pull this kind of a stunt in September.  It’s effective as a political tool, I’ll grant you that.  But it’s immoral.  It violates every ethic of their profession.  If I were the mayor I’d immediately set up a hot line to seek other teachers willing to work for the $75,000 pay.   I think he could fill those spots in a second.  Since the union broke its own contract, I’d leave them on the street.  Time for a new cast of characters really dedicated to kids.

I think it’s about time students go on strike for better teaching, better learning opportunities, more challenges, less fluff in the curriculum, competent administrators, and guarantees in their educational outcomes like those promised by the teachers’ union to their minions.  Do students have clout?  You betcha.  Schools are paid on what is called ADA, Average Daily Attendance.  If your child is not in school, schools don’t get paid.  If schools don’t get paid, teachers and staff don’t get paid.  And the longer you’re out of school the more it begins to hurt.  So let’s organize and get going, because nothing is going to improve because of this strike.

I have to note an interesting article I found over the weekend where police types were concerned about the possibility of rival gang members being placed in the same school.  They were doing all that they could to make sure this didn’t happen.  Imagine that, criminals get choices in education that law-abiding kids can’t.  Go figure.  Break the law and get school choice.

One of the major stumbling blocks, according to the union representatives, is job security.  Keeping your job is a function of your competence and nothing else.  If you can do the job and do it well—you keep it.  If you don’t, find another job.  That’s like saying to a kid, no matter what you do in four years, no matter your grades, just for being there you get to graduate.  Wait, I’m sorry, that’s what a diploma measures today.

Out of the mouths of babes: Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said, “We must do things differently in this city if we are to provide our students with the education they so rightfully deserve.”  She’s right.  But the “differently” doesn’t include the union.

I’ve often wondered about teacher picket lines in front of schools.  Whom are they picketing? Students? Parents? Other teachers who disagree with the strike? Administrators?  While they make an impression on them, it can’t be the students.  They’re just the little widgets on the assembly line that they manipulate from 8:00 to 2:30 p.m.  about four days a week for nine and half months a year.  It might be the parents because a strike is a political act.  Maybe they’re trying to influence these parents to support them no matter what.  It might be the administrators, but then, they might have to work with these same folks at the conclusion of the strike.  But, heck, that didn’t mean anything before the strike and it shouldn’t be different after; you see, the union steps in between the administration doing their duty and the teachers doing theirs.  And when things don’t go right, whom do they blame? Administrators, that’s right.  They should fire the union instead.  It must be the other teachers who don’t agree with the strike.  All that energy expended to disallow First Amendment freedoms.  That’s shear thuggery.  Oh, I forgot, this strike is in Chicago.

Even wonder why “some schools stay open” during a strike?  Cash flow.  Remember that ADA figure above?

The second stumbling block, according to the union, was teacher evaluations—it was tied to student performance. Let’s see, Johnny starts this year at 3.1 as a third grader.  At the end of the year he’s grown to a 4.1.  He’s gained 10 months of growth for 10 months of work.  Some would say that’s par for the course.  But if a teacher has 20 students and their average only 3.2 months of growth for 10 months work, what do you think the school should do?  And the union is fighting over student progress…

The Machine—on unions.  Here’s a short piece that explains the unholy, immoral and un-American status of teachers’ unions.

By the way, did you know that 39% of the Chicago teachers have their own kids in private schools.  When they say, “It’s for the kids,” maybe they’re confusing their own for the ones in front of them.  In order to clear up this confusion, I think there out to be a law that says that if you work for the government, especially as a teacher, that your own kids have to go to government schools only.  That should clear up the confusion about loyalties.

Well, what’s a student to do?  Strike.

February 18, 2012

Outcomes in Education

Outcomes in Education

 Parents, have you ever thought about why you send your child to school? Is it because the law says you must? Is it because everyone else does?  Or are there more substantial reasons why you send your sons and daughters off to learn their 4 Rs?

The second question undergirds the first. In today’s world you either pay for your child’s education with your taxes and/or with cash.  Parents who send their children to private schools wind up paying twice.  They pay their taxes for a service they don’t redeem and they pay tuition.  Now that just doesn’t seem fair at all.  Parents who send their children to the government (“public”) schools don’t pay tuition (although there are more and more charges for labs, sports, AP classes, etc., today) but they do pay upwards of 50% of their taxes for their child’s education.  This so-called “free education” is not really free at all; in fact it’s pretty expensive compared to the outcomes in private schools.  Are you getting your money’s worth?  If you had to shell out a monthly payment instead of the hidden costs and payments through the tax rolls, I wonder if you might make a change.  Here’s why…

Following are 22 possible outcomes for K-12 education.  Read through the list.  This is a mental exercise to help clarify your choices and ambitions with regard to your child/ren.  Rank your choices!  Rank them from the highest, most important, as #1 and the least important as #22.  Granted many of them are intrinsically linked—but the choice is yours.  Push is coming to shove in our world.  Only certain things will be taught, caught, encouraged and allowed.  Schooling is not just about what is being taught, but what isn’t being included.  Which do you want for your child/ren?  When things get tough, when we get down to brass tacks, what is the ultimate outcome you would wish for your children’s K-12 schooling?

[    ]          Behaves appropriately at all times.

[    ]          Knows about/appreciates peoples of other races, ethnic groups and religions.

[    ]          Can enjoy a number of cultural activities.

[    ]          Has the basic skills for acquiring and communicating knowledge.

[    ]          Can get along with teachers and classmates.

[    ]          Has a desire to learn; more intellectually curious.

[    ]          Respects authority; understands duties and obligations.

[    ]          Is informed of occupational opportunities and how people prepare for them.

[    ]          (For faith based) Knows basic doctrines and commandments of the church.

[    ]          Has good health habits and an appreciation of the body.

[    ]          Is prepared to enter personally worthwhile programs in high school/college.

[    ]          Learns material given by the teacher.

[    ]          (Faith based) Attends services regularly and is engaged in faith community.

[    ]          Seeks service to others: family, church community, wider community.

[    ]          Capable of figuring things out alone—an independent thinker.

[    ]          Can manage personal finances and has wise buying habits.

[    ]          Has an individual sense of values; has high personal moral standards.

[    ]          Loyal to the American way of  life.

[    ]          Has a realistic understanding of responsibilities/opportunities of family life.

[    ]          Is an emotionally stable person

[    ]          Is a good person.

[    ]          Is able to get a job.

If you could only choose five, which would they be?

If you could only choose three, which would they be?

If there had to be one, which would it be?

Interesting!

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