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Cautious response from teachers union on Obama merit pay plan

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WASHINGTON--A very cautious reaction to President Obama's call for teacher merit pay from Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers,

"As with any public policy, the devil is in the details, and it is important that teachers' voices are heard as we implement the president's vision. The AFT stands ready to work with the president to make America the leader in public education."

below, AFT statement...

Statement by Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers,
On President Obama's Remarks Today
To the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce


WASHINGTON--We embrace the goals and aspirations outlined today by President Obama when he called for providing all Americans with a comprehensive, competitive education that begins in early childhood and extends through their careers. The president's vision of education--and the AFT's--includes world-class standards for all students, new and better tools for teachers, greater effort to recruit and retain good teachers, and competitive teacher salaries with innovative ways to reward teaching excellence.

We also fully support the president's call for shared responsibility for education--among public officials, school administrators, parents, students and teachers. Teachers want to make a difference in kids' lives, and they appreciate a president who shares that goal and will spend his political capital to provide the resources to make it happen.

As with any public policy, the devil is in the details, and it is important that teachers' voices are heard as we implement the president's vision. The AFT stands ready to work with the president to make America the leader in public education.

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32 Comments

From my perspective, I am in favor of educators with a master's degree, and the starting point of education need to be parents' close attention to children's learning progress.

DEVIL IN THE DETAILS MEANS THEY WANT MORE PAY

Education does need improvement, but it doesn't necessarily need an overhaul. I'm a conservative and am concerned about the amount of "government" we are putting into pretty much every major issue that comes our way. I work in the school system and am witness to many things, least of which is the effects of a general societal decay that goes way beyond our schools. Mr. Obama should be stressing values first and foremost before trying to make these expensive and unproven changes.

There is truth to the statement, "... the devl is in the detail.." So far, this president has not done a very effective job communicating those details.

Finally someone is bold enought to take on these unions. They have screwed up American Automobile industry, California public education and are draining public funds.

Bring school vouchers in. Real competition, real results, less government. Win win for all.

Sounds like the President is about to become problematic with part of his "choir".Test the Teachers NOW!

Devil in the details means that we should consider how this will be implemented.

1. All teachers do not teach subjects that are tested. However these teachers do play a vital role in students education.

2. Longer hours are you serious! Students are already in school 7-8hours a day. Teachers work beyond that through PTA meetings, professional development, graduate courses, conference meeting, after-school obligations(often not payed) and many more. What time in the day are we supposed to have for our own families?

*Believe me I am a supporter of Pres. Obama and voted for him, but I disagree with his stance on this is ISSUE

A blunder, a huge mistake he's making right now, is endorsing merit pay for teachers.On the surface, it sounds reasonable. Pay teachers for producing high test scores...But the more you look at it, the uglier it becomes. How's your son or daughter's grades in school? Are they high performing, average, or not so good. Trust me, under a merit pay situation, they'll be traded like an apple or orange. Let me explain, if you haven't heard this...No teacher wants to receive less money for test scores being low...so!...Under a merit pay system, kids will be traded and bartered like commodities on the stock exchange. A smart, well performing teacher, could get saddled with kids that aren't as smart, and whammo....less pay that year. If you think the principal will keep things fair, think again...Teachers meet for grouping at the end of every year to make the next year's class lists....there are many many ways of disguising trouble kids, whose lack of production might not be known until school begins. Picture this conversation between teachers.... "Hey, I've already got four low performers...that's going to ruin my pay score...have you got any smart kids you could lend me or trade me this year to make us even?...." "Hey! I'd like to complain!...I just had a kid move into our district whose scores are suspect...I don't want him in my class because he may lower my pay!..." And these are just SOME of the problems and cans of worms that will be opened.... Also think on this....would the school board(s) give low performing students to older teachers to sneakily lower their pay....forcing them out....so that they could continually hire less experienced, green young teachers at lower cost?...absolutely! ALL OF THIS....would be a product of merit pay....So if Obama's as smart as he seems, he'll drop this like the rancid hot potato it is!

It's about time these unions came under some fire. They are ruining America and we need to do away with them. First the Automobile Industry crashed because line workers are making $70+ an hour and now the teachers are complaining that they need more money and won't even work a full year like the rest of America to earn that raise. It's all a scam and they need to be put in their place!

Not so cautious, I'm sure if this were a proposal of George Bush. Funny, how only now the AFT is wanting to make America the leader in education--even if it means making their teachers accountable for slacking students and family units!

If we are going to implement longer school years and merit pay because it is what other nations are doing, why are we not implementing all of their strategies? They have entrance exams for elementary school. If the parent isn't doing their job at home, it shows on the test and they are reprimanded. The longer school day consists of a two hour afternoon break. Their students have specials and recess daily. They don't take another standardized test until university entrance exams. Their teachers are trained to teach in an entirely different, and more effective manner ( one which does not work for standardized tests, but does work to beat us out in the real world). Their ELL population is not included in scores until they are proficient in the language. Their special education students are not expected to be on par with their peers. Their teachers are not required to continue their own education at the rate we are expected to. Teachers have more training through graduate courses, professional development and conferences than doctors or lawyers by the end of their career. Are we going to ask those professions to work on merit pay?

This is in response to T. Stewart, and others who give the appearance of thinking that more time in the day should be carved out via....?....Are you suggesting cancelling activities like gym, music, and art to sacrifice "time" for test scores?
Our students need access to these vital non tested areas like plants need water.
Do we want our children to grow up unhealthy and in a bland and flavorless, tuneless world?
Of course, these subjects would not be "testable" under a merit pay system. Why should they?
The reason why our system mostly works (if you have a decent job and can read this, you're probably a beneficiary of it) is because our students, for the most part one and all, are treated fairly, without the pressure by those teaching them to accomplish "goals" via their salary.
T. Stewart, you sound like someone with little experience in the educational world. My advice, is to talk more with those who work in our schools, become part of your school board or p.t.a. (have you?) and then see if you still have the same opinion(s). Making us over like other countries is not the answer. Focusing on our own programs by volunteering, actively helping and participating, and supporting graduated across the board pay scales...certainly is!

RE: By Andrea on March 11, 2009 6:14 AM
consider how this will be implemented.

2. Longer hours are you serious! Students are already in school 7-8hours a day. (Where is that exactly. In the state of Connecticut the students are in school for 6 1/2 hours. 6.5 hours. And....in elementary school - you have recess, lunch, specials.....The most a teacher spends with his or here class is MAYBE 5 hours. Maybe. SERIOUSLY. And....Teachers where you live go to PTA meetings? GOOD for your PTO. Not where I live. And..I'm PTO secretary...I'm at all the meetings. I notice who is there. And...written into their collective bargainning agreement is the fact that they only have to work late 4 times per year for open house or conferences. I have to know.....where do live?!! My town could learn a lesson from your town if what you say is true!

Also, where I'm from, profession development and curriculum developement....all done during a normal work day....the kids either have that day off or have a 1/2 day.


Seriously....where do you live? If your education districts are putting it all in as you seem to believe...I want to move there!!

Oh Rich, I couldn't agree with you more. As an educator I can't possibly be expected to be paid a respectable income. It's not like I went to a four year university and obtained a "real" degree. Never mind the hours of overtime I put in daily grading papers and planning. Please forget the evenings I spend on the phone conferencing with parents, putting my family second. I mean I do only work 9-3 each day (unless you count afore mentioned activities and the tutoring and the fact our contract day is from 8:00 until 3:45). Sometimes I even get more than 15 minutes to eat my lunch! I have 3 months off in the summer. This is, of course, with the exception of days of unpaid professional development I am required to attend. Just like you, I can take a vacation anytime. Yes, anytime during a school-scheduled holiday or if I have hours of sub plans completed and a substitute teacher already in place. Yep, I have it made in the shade.

Oh, Rich, I truly hope you find yourself working in a job where you are paid for only half of the things you do someday.

Stop the blame game. The public school system has been dysfunctional since the 1970's or maybe earlier. Social promotion, whole language approach, phonics approach, inclusion, differentiating instruction, yada-yada-ya..the list of 'hit and miss' programs goes on. We have become a nation that has settled for mediocrity. Our children, young and old, are more concerned about their electronic devices. TV media/entertainment industry is spewing mindless reality shows. Some state education boards have lowered passing grades from 65 to 55. Congress approved tax breaks for hundreds of thousands of companies to outsource American jobs overseas for cheap labor. Our own government sold out our children's future. You and I have ourselves to blame. It is going to take more than hope to fix this system...it will take a miracle.

I have read all the comment put up and it seems that most of the people speaking up for merit pay have not been near a classroom in years. People make reference to the automobile unions and I saw the number 70+ an hour in question. Teachers have to EARN their money by continuing education after High School and College into a Masters degree and more. I have 60 graduate level credits on top of a masters degree. 4 years of undergrad, a year for a masters and 2 years for grad work (assuming 30 credits equals 1 year of schooling) and I have 7 years of higher education on top of my high school diploma. I have earned my higher pay because of my hard work and dedication to improving myself.
We already are in a society where schools are changing test grades to make their district look better in order to attract more colleges. Add MERIT PAY to this mix and we are just asking for trouble!

President Obama NEEDS NEEDS NEEDS NEEDS to stand in front of a podium for a state of address and demand ACCOUNTABILITY FOR PARENTS! Parents are the first teacher a child has. Parents are the teacher at home, making sure home work gets done and that reading/studying occurs. Parents set expectation levels for children. Without a strong parent support system at home, MOST kids do not succeed on their own. A few kids do but they are few and far between.

By creating a longer school day, it will not increase learning. If a kid does not do HW, take notes or have an interest in learning...making him stay an extra hour will have no affect on him. You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink. PARENTS HAVE TO SET EXPECTATIONS TO DRINK THE WATER. Teachers provide tools and knowledge for the kids but have zero power in forcing children to do anything, parents need to step up and be parents all the time. Parents need to do what's right for the kid in the big picture, not what feels good right now. President Obama I pray this message somehow reaches you...Please stop making the education problems only about the teachers...Parents need to be held responsible too!!

Let me start by saying that I voted for President Obama and contributed money to his campaign.

I don’t understand this sudden change in philosophy which seems to have emerged: As a candidate, Obama was singing praises to teachers because we were not paid enough money and often had to work two jobs in order to make ends meet. We, as teachers, all know teachers who moonlight out of necessity. How they are able to do this along with their regular teacher responsibilities (grading papers, planning, taking additional required courses in order to maintain their licenses to teach, and, yes, attending PTA meetiings like my school district requires), I don’t know. I am lucky to have a working spouse to help make ends meet. Now that Obama is in office, he seems to want to place more responsibilities on teachers by extending an already-too-long school day and/or school year. I must assume that he, along with the public, are willing to give teachers raises to compensate for this additional labor. However, I have yet to see a valid study which supports a strong argument for either a longer school day or a longer school year as a basis for improved instruction or more effective learning.

Further, Obama seems to support charter schools. Charter schools, as we all know, are generally unproven. However, support of charter schools could prove to be an effective, indirect “union busting” tool.

In spite of this, I don’t mind being charged with the responsibility of trying even harder as a teacher. I want to do as much as I humanly can to help my students to learn as much as they are willing to learn and more. However, let’s be realistic: teachers and education always have been and always will be the scratching post for society. Teachers and education are the rallying cry for anyone who wants to appear to be a social hero whether it be a talk show host seeking to expand his/her audience, a public official searching for a voice that he/she feels could place them more in favor of their constituents, or some parents looking for ways to make schools the responsible “child-sitter” for their kids. Until the whole "Village" is willing to take on its responsibilities in the upbringing of our children, teachers will continue to be charged with the responsiblities of shaping society and blamed for the ills of the world.

All merit pay will do is destroy the cooperative work and ideas shared between teachers. I am fortunate to work with a grade level where we all share our successful ideas and lessons. I have taught with four of the teachers for twelve years. I have learned many things from my fellow team members and one teacher, who is in her 30th year, says she has learned a ton from me. We hired a brand new, 20 something year old teacher at the beginning of this school year. Of course we have helped her learn the ropes and she in turn has taught us some things that are new. We all work and plan together so that our entire grade level will do well. If merit pay is implemented, I am afraid that it will divide teachers and cause us to keep our great ideas to ourselves in hopes of being the "best" teacher with the highest pay. I promise, we are not in it for the money. Some of you that think we have an easy job should substitute teach for a couple of weeks. Behavior is out of control and we spend a good part of the day discipling. Use this merit pay for reducing class sizes where we can work with students in smaller settings. Merit pay will divide schools and cause teachers who really care about kids to leave the profession.

As we all agree, education will be the process of finding out the god-given potential and its exertion, therefore parents and educators are obliged to help them explore what their children are right for, if so, the school may have to provide pay raise to the tutors who motivate more students to follow their potential based on the survey of how well they found out their ideal future professions and the ratings from students.
Unless the teachers are qualified for the profession and working hard as a desired model, then they will fail to motivate them to do so, and if the parents have no true passion for their children's education, the unqualified teachers will multiply accordingly, I guess.
In case people have true passion for their lovely children, then the problem of education, future renewable energy, and health(via investing more in education than food) may be solved at the same time, As we all know, China and America are the two biggest emitters of pollutants in the world, that reflects no measure for tomorrow, which resulted in no democracy and a broken one. I suppose the love for children will be both a starting point and a key to the all problems.
Thanks.

Response to President Obama's scapegoating of teachers. As an inner city school social worker, I am appalled that President Obama has chosen to kick the teachers who have long been down and picked on as the cause of our educational ills. Can't he find a more creative solution than to pick on teacers who are one of our most precious resources. I can't even begin to tell you the things I have seen and heard as an inner city social worker in a school setting. Teachers deal with, not only the educational needs of children but their social, emotional, developmental and physical needs. There are so many obvious biopsychosocial and economical problems that are associated with our society that I will not insult anyone by listing them. Many teachers hold master's and other degrees, work endless hours at home, on the weekends and nights at school eventa, even during the summer in doing their jobs. I have worked as a social worker for nearly thirty years and have never had a more demanding job than my current one---I have worked in health care, in disablities rights, in psychiatric and counseling settings, and by far this is the most demanding job that I have ever had. I believe that teachers will begin to abandon the field if they are continually battered by our administration. I think Obama needs to re-think his stance on the way he is treating teachers

I'm fascinated by the number of teachers here who are terrified by the idea that their performance should determine their pay - just like in every other job ever. How terrible, to receive raises based on the quality of the work you do rather than on your ability to show up for work year after year! How on earth did we develop a system in which the people doing the most important job also have the least oversight?

I work at a public library in an underserved area, and I'm constantly surprised by the total negligence and disinterest of the teachers I encounter. And why shouldn't they be negligent and disinterested? They have no motivation to do otherwise. They know they'll never be fired - and worse, they know they'll never be rewarded if they do put in the time. Even teachers who start out well-intentioned become jaded and check out, leaving our children to suffer. Part of the reason I became a librarian rather than a teacher is that at least in my career, I have the opportunity to get promotions and pay increases because I do my job well. As a teacher, I'd have no such hope.

Clearly, basing pay entirely on students' test scores is not a good solution. Very few careers base your salary (or continued employment) on only one measure. Teachers, like everybody else, should be judged on a variety of factors: student test scores, peer reviews, class observations, student and parent reviews, etc. A teacher who is failing in the eyes of students, parents, administrators, fellow teachers, and objective measures is clearly failing. If you can't get your act together enough to impress anyone, you need to find a new career.

Cheers to Obama for having the chutzpah to stand up to the teachers' unions. It's time for their tyranny to end.

I do not appreciate the comments by Rich. I am a teacher and I work longer and harder than most people. There are days I would love to have a desk job just to get a break with my family. How many other professions do you know that have to take work home? I spend hours every night on lesson plans, grading papers, homework, and research. I spend hours after school tutoring and trying to help kids reach state standards. There are many nights I don't get home until 6:00 or 7:00. How many other professions are required to be in at 7:30 every day and then expected to put in all these extra hours along with math nights, reading nights, seuss nights, parent teacher conferences, science nights, game duty, and on and on and on. Then there is the 3 months off in the summer we supposedly get. Well I will say that I have yet to have three months off. That's one myth I wish were true. I have more education and do more for the future of our nation, our children, than most people and I make a poverty level salary of 27,000 dollars. Try supporting a family on that. I am a good teacher. I love teaching and I have never wanted to do anything else. I am one who could have been anything I wanted, and teaching was it. I get very angry when I hear comments that teachers are lazy and don't know what the real work world is like. For people like that I say try being a teacher for a month, doing it to the standards expected by the government and state. Not only that but you must be counselor, mother, and police officer to sweet children who haven't gotten what they need at home. If you do this and survive and still have the opinion that teachers have it easy, then you can put in your two cents. Until then keep your mouth shut!

I understand the accountability issue and I believe teachers need to be held accountable. I also agree that dead beat teachers need to be fired. But what about the school districts who don't receive as much funding?

I work in a very poor school district and I will tell you that every single teacher I work with gives 110% to our kids. We have very little funding, no textbooks in many subjects, and computers used back in the time of Adam. If the government wants to require performance they need to provide the funding in an equitable manner. Why are kids in my school district less important than those in a more affluent area? If merit pay is going to be an issue the government had better be dang sure to make equitable funding so all the districts can have a fighting chance.

As an educator, I am all for reform of our system. I can't stand the unions and hate that tenure protects both lazy and criminal behavior. That said, I do not support merit pay whatsoever. I have worked for a school whose students came from low income households, 100% received free/reduced lunch, and 99% were English language learners. I worked my tush off for those kids and I did reach them. However, try as you might, there is NO comparison to my current position for a high income school with educated parents who actually invest in their children's education (what a concept!). I work equally as hard for both schools and the difference in test scores between the two is STAGGERING. Is it because the teachers at the wealthier school are better? Unequivocally, absolutely NOT! In fact, the teacher training at the lower income school was far more impressive and more teachers were using heavily research-based practices. The difference is the abilities/strengths/areas of need in the children which are completely dependent upon their home lives - educated v. uneducated parents, involved v. uninvolved parents, diverse life experiences v. limited life experiences, native English speaker v. non-native speaker, high SES v. financial hardships, etc.. Why should I, working at a school with all the luxuries of parent support and children who come to school prepared to learn, be paid any more than my colleagues who teach in lower income areas? This system does not reward those who work harder, can't you see? Mr. Obama, start by working on early childhood education by getting parents to invest in the intellectual development of their children before the children get to school...and then try tackling the teachers unions to rid our schools of high paid teachers who have grown complacent due to their tenure state. They're the ones that need to be weeded out and let go, not some of our talented teachers who try as hard as they can to fight an uphill battle with only limited success.

Thank you, Lori. I couldn't agree with you more. I am an Obama supporter and have been an educator for 16 years, but I strongly disagree with the merit pay proposition for the same reasons you have mentioned. Children need for their teachers to collaborate as much as possible in their best interest, and the merit pay model will put teachers in competition with one another, especially given how low the pay is to begin with. How will merit pay be determined? Test scores? Principal recomendations? Anyone who is an educator can see the many pitfalls of either strategy. In our state, teachers have to do "dossiers" to advance to the next level. We have 3 tiers, and each has a new starting pay level. The Dossier is an excruciating process for many teachers, and it is costly and complicated. Many compare it to a second master's thesis. I can only imagine that any reasonably fair way to assess who is an "exceptional" teacher would involve a similar process only even more complicated and costly. Sometimes the simpler solution is the best. If teachers' salaries could be raised then there would be more competition to get "hired" as a teacher and more reason to remain in the profession. I believe that high teacher turnover is one of the biggest problems in education. A huge percentage of teachers leave the profession before the end of 5 years, yet it takes years to become a master teacher. With higher pay, the field of educationn would become more desirable attracting more highly qualified teachers, and it would offer more incentive for teachers to "stick with it" when the going gets tough. If we really care about the education of our children then we need to start listening to the teachers.

I am against unions for schools and all businesses because they reward mediocre behavior and fail to generate new thought and improvement. I like the idea of the merit based system but I don't think that the actual plan for it will be effective because it will reward high test scores, yes, but then what about the kids from low-income families or just inept learners? Right now the system favors the wealthy families who can pay for a great education for their kids, and with merit based programs this would not be different. Teachers would fight for AP and IB courses instead of taking on the big project of teaching the lower kids, trying to raise scores, and then not getting paid as much for it. Maybe there could be a different alternative where teachers would be rewarded for improvement in student's knowledge in their specific area by benchmarks and so forth, and the greater improvement the more pay, because that subject will have proven the better teacher. This will favor teachers from all subjects, AP to ELL, and give students the greatest learning opportunity.

Merit pay...
Ah, the dulcet sound of those two words. Music on paper; fingers on a chalkboard in reality.

Having worked at a few elementary schools in several different areas, I can tell you that any merit pay system whatsoever would need to fully account for the area in which the school sits; the parental involvement in not only school activities (how many people ran for LSC seats, how many parents attended parent teacher conferences, how many members are volunteering for parent clubs) but also parental involvement in homework (mandatory parental meetings would need to be instituted, mandatory weekly phone conversations would be needed, authenticated signatures in agendas or on homework would be required). And once this fairy tale scenario is implemented then we could begin to talk about merit pay which would require the following:

1) How do you track test scores? As you have a completely different group of students every year, are test scores tracked based on your current students (did they improve over the previous year when they were in a different grade with a different teacher--of course then what happened to this teachers students the following year, did they improve?)
2) Longer work time means more pay; a longer work year means more pay. If merit pay is to be implemented, then I also expect to be treated like other professions where paperwork is done. I would like to be paid for my time grading papers, the hours I spend at home, in front of the computer, before school starts, that all needs to be paid time. So, merit pay then also needs to be given for the EFFORT and amount of work done.
3) The same tests need to be given every year. Students can not be judged on tests that are constantly changed, normed/renormed, adjusted and sold to the lowest text book company bidder. They need consistency in their testing.

I could go on, but I haven't had any coffee yet, and I have to work on my yearbook, and cook breakfast for my children, and grade some tests, of course it's Saturday, so I expect time and a half...

Thank you, Lori. I couldn't agree with you more. I am an Obama supporter and have been an educator for 16 years, but I strongly disagree with the merit pay proposition for the same reasons you have mentioned. Children need for their teachers to collaborate as much as possible in their best interest, and the merit pay model will put teachers in competition with one another, especially given how low the pay is to begin with. How will merit pay be determined? Test scores? Principal recomendations? Anyone who is an educator can see the many pitfalls of either strategy. In our state, teachers have to do "dossiers" to advance to the next level. We have 3 tiers, and each has a new starting pay level. The Dossier is an excruciating process for many teachers, and it is costly and complicated. Many compare it to a second master's thesis. I can only imagine that any reasonably fair way to assess who is an "exceptional" teacher would involve a similar process only even more complicated and costly. Sometimes the simpler solution is the best. If teachers' salaries could be raised then there would be more competition to get "hired" as a teacher and more reason to remain in the profession. I believe that high teacher turnover is one of the biggest problems in education. A huge percentage of teachers leave the profession before the end of 5 years, yet it takes years to become a master teacher. With higher pay, the field of educationn would become more desirable attracting more highly qualified teachers, and it would offer more incentive for teachers to "stick with it" when the going gets tough. If we really care about the education of our children then we need to start listening to the teachers.

Wow, thanks Aubrey for setting people straight on what we do! I love when people make comments on things they truly don't know about! I am the same type of teacher & am disgusted that people do not appreciate or comprehend all the efforts and personal time & money we contribute to our profession. I am there early, stay late for prep, meetings, games, conferences, tutoring, grading,etc! everyday! I even bring things home to correct, cut, research, print, etc. On weekends and holidays, you will often find me there cleaning desks, preparing bulletin boards, organizing, copying, etc. Name 1 other profession that does this? No wonder new teachers burn out in the first few years..........they are not appreciated! The personalities that go to college for 6 years and do student teaching, which is teaching for free for a year, to a starting salary of under $30000, are obviously not in it for the money! I can't tell you how much of my own money has been spent on classroom supplies, field trips for low income kids, lunches for kids, paper(!), copies(!), continuing ed classes, coats for cold "needy" kids, on and on...I'm wondering how our high population of limited english speaking students (in CA) and developmentally delayed students will improve on these tests? better? get a clue here folks! So, I guess teachers are basically being told to teach to the tests? Ya, because we all know as adults that tests clearly demonstrate one's intelligence on a subject and everyone is a good test taker! Also, there ae some tracks in year round schools that have higher levels of hispanic students, due to off track times, Hey, I know, maybe we could put a robot in the classrooms to save money! Afterall, all students are at the same academic levels, and have exactly the same needs! Oh wait, that won't work because then parents may actually have to do THEIR JOB as a parent and care for their kids, help w/ homework, show up to conferences, return phone calls, etc. Remember, we are not part of the gene pool, but we do what we can during the precious time we have with them. We truly love our students and wear many hats as a teacher. Oh, to top it off, lets all drop class size reduction too! Here, in CA our brilliant leadership has decreased cops, firefighters, & teachers, and released inmates to save money! genius! Don't worry though, the prisoned inmates will be fed, clothed, and educated! Not all of our children have meat in their school lunches or even their own textbook, but don't you worry about those deserving inmates! Now, teachers may have 34 5 yr olds in one room all day rather than 20 (because we cant afford it). hhhmmm, ya I can see how more learning will happen can't you? good moves in education from those who know?! No, not a fan! Sorry, it is just so frustrating to watch our kids failed and feel so unappreciated by the general population.

Dear LoveToTeach and others:
Name 1 other profession that is GUARANTEED continued employment, despite the fact that the quality of teaching skills may diminish over time,despite parental complaint and student harassment (anyone see the 800 + physical abuse charges against Chicago teachers in the news?_ Way to bail, Arnie)-- despite the fact that every time a union member feels "unappreciated" they run to the union and make the administration miserable with their whining (the principal doesnt like me, the principal was rude to us- give me a break, do your job!)-- despite the fact that mediocrity and burn out occurs, but so what- its a paycheck with benefits and a PENSION!!! I have seen first hand the bullying of the union, and its not pretty. The teachers bring in their regional representatives to whine on their behalf, and in the meantime, the principals are not in the classrooms being instructional leaders, the teachers are in the halls gossiping,and who loses?- the very kids whose scores we want to increase...
Many people say "fire the bad teachers"- its not that easy, unless like Washington DC who had the mayor behind that effort and the dollars to exchange tenure for a salary working your ass off for..
After all the due process "crap" and jumping through hoops, it costs on average $300, 000 to fire one teacher...in legal fees, subsitute rates, paying another teacher to "mentor" during the remeditation process, etc. Most principals are reluctant to pursue dismissal of tenured teachers because of the emotional toll (the union tends to get nasty) and the feeling of the lack of district administration support. I read these posts and some of you go on and on about how much "extra" work you do...where I work, the teachers ask to be paid for every single "extra" thing they are asked to do...I can think of many jobs/professions that continue into the late hours of the evening.,..ask anyone who is struggling to keep their office job right now...
Here's the bottom line: if you are doing your job- you dont need the protection of tenure. Its outdated in this day and age.

I invite you all to spend a day with a Chicago Public School teacher. Call your local school and ask to help out. See what it is like to walk in my shoes.

I raise test scores. I spend hours after school and before school to help my students, grade their papers, develop inventive lesson plans and make my subject interesting to my students.

I read books on how to differentiate instruction, help my ELL students and challenge my gifted kids. I've brought in over $2000.00 of grant money into my school this year. I have a student going to the city science fair (and I've held his hand throughout the entire process). I broke up a fight on Friday between two students and was punched three times.

My principal rated me a satisfactory teacher. I have people sitting in on my classes because they want to see how my subject is taught and I was rated satisfactory.

My kids would be worth the pay cut I would get this year... but at the detriment of my own kids?

I urge you to read the message at this site:
http://www.trelease-on-reading.com/no-dentist.html

This is not a way of solving the problem. How about we start small. It would make such a big difference. NO MORE THAN 25 STUDENTS IN A CLASS! You want kids who are learning? This is the REAL way to start. I have 36 kids in one class!

are you serious thats crap why would kids want to go longer? First of all kids already fall asleep about half way through the day and now you want school longer. longer days would equal non-concentrated students and there for not learn any more that they already do.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on March 10, 2009 11:51 AM.

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