Archive for the ‘teacher unions’ Tag

Rogue leadership: Why we need to hold our school board representatives to higher ethical standards   1 comment

I have never minced words about the current attack on the public education system’s stakeholders, e.g., teachers, students, parents. Nor have I gone easy on educational ‘leaders.’ You know, the ones who make the executive decisions as they relate to discipline, instruction, testing, etc. Far too often, the little people are blamed for everything that ails public education despite the fact that, individually, they hold very little influence in how the machine runs. Let’s face it: Teachers can only control what happens within their respective classrooms, and sometimes they have very little (creative) control over that domain as well. Given the nature and scope of their responsibilities, our education ‘leaders’ should abide by a certain set of standards. After all, they are setting policies that will affect our children, teachers, school systems, and overall communities. How can we hand over such responsibilities to people who openly lie, publicly threaten television reporters, and willfully shirk their financial responsibilities to their own children?

Honestly, I didn’t think the shenanigans in Gwinnett County would continue after a group of teachers filed a formal complaint against the CEO, J. Alvin Wilbanks. The teachers were non-renewed at the end of the 2009-10 school year, supposedly for budget cuts, at least that is what the CEO stated in letters sent to each of them. Unfortunately, the budget cut excuse was scrapped in exchange for about ‘performance issues.’ As a result, many of those teachers have been unable to secure teaching positions in neighboring counties. To put this in context: Georgia is a ‘Right to Work’ state, meaning an employer can fire you simply because they do not like you, your hair, your clothes, or even if they woke-up on the wrong side of the bed on any given morning. Sadly, employees in this state have NO rights as many have been brainwashed led to believe that unions are the equivalent of the anti-Christ.

Are your elected officials more suited for a jail cell?

Imagine my surprise when I read the article in the AJC about a Gwinnett County school board member who was arrested for failure to pay child support to his ex-wife, a crime that could result in a misdemeanor/felony charge, fine, driver’s and professional license revocation, and/or jail time. The board member in question posted a $7,000 bond in exchange for his release. I am assuming that the bond went towards his delinquent child support payments. But here’s the million dollar question: If he had the $7,000 to post bond, why didn’t he use it to pay his child support? To me, his actions demonstrate that he willfully ignored his financial obligation to his children, who are students in the Gwinnett County Public School System. I cannot begin to imagine the embarrassment this incident caused his children. On a positive note, I am sure his ex-wife will appreciate getting the financial support she rightly deserves.

 

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To hell with ‘waiting’ on Superman, we have Karen Lewis!   Leave a comment

‘I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.’ ~ Maya Angelou

This post is not going to be about hyping some movie that promotes parents as desperate for immediate solutions to the public education crisis. I don’t like to think of minority and low-income families as ‘desperate’ for anything, unless of course they are amongst the millions of un- or underemployed Americans in this country. I think ‘victims’ would be a more accurate characterization because, well, they and their children have been robbed of 40 acres, a mule, and a separate but equal education. Sure, No Child Left Behind was enacted to address the latter, but by now we all know that all it really did was expose the decades-long disparities in the caliber of education between the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots.’ Of course, the ‘have nots’ are the kids relegated to dilapidated schools in neighborhoods where the jobs have long gone, hundreds of babies die by the hands of their peers, and people with NO practical experience in education have been bestowed the power to close neighborhood schools (leading to more violence) and create a working environment rife with fear and mistrust. (Examples: Chicago, Detroit, and D.C. Feel free to substitute any of these cities above.) Anyone wonder or even ask why we should ‘wait’ on Superman, much less anyone else to fix problems that our government has known about forever? Probably not.

Yes, those things are disappointing, disheartening, and enough to make anyone with common sense reconsider (several times) entering the teaching profession. But there is hope for parents, students, and teachers….and it ain’t Superman. It’s not Michelle Rhee, Arne Duncan, Joel Klein, or any of the other self-righteous, self-proclaimed education experts with their Ivy League degrees and colonialist complexes. Nope, it’s an educated Black woman, from the South Side of Chicago, with dreads, and a pair big enough to call a spade a spade and expose the truth about the mess Duncan and Daley created with the Renaissance 2010 debacle. Ok, maybe ‘pair’ is an overused cliché, but I couldn’t think of anything else.Well, I could but I don’t know Karen well enough to call her a ‘Bad B*&%$!’

Some people may not understand my excitement about the ‘arrival’ of Lewis onto the education scene as the newly-elected President of the Chicago Teachers Union. My excitement is comprised of equal parts enthusiasm for the fact that:  (1) Lewis is Black; and (2) she holds no punches. Ok, ok..maybe I am more excited about the second one..we have way too many people in education chasing the carrot, shuckin’ & jivin, skinnin & grinnin, and holding their peace for a small piece, of whatever. There are too many people who are cheerleaders for scientific experiments (masked as entrepreneurship) in education for the sake of securing additional blood money, er… funding for continued support. (I guess everyone forgot about the Tuskegee Experiment and it’s lasting effects, but I digress.) There are also people who work/worked under administrations that implement/implemented policies that failed, from the start, yet kept quiet until they made their exit (and nice salaries and built name recognition). I cannot respect such individuals or give weight to anything they have to say because they sold out millions of kids and never said a word. Not.One.Word. Until now, because it’s profitable to bash these doomed-from-the-start policies on the ‘Pimpin’ Education’ circuit. But I guess everyone has their price, I just haven’t found mine yet. God willing, I never will.

I am neither in Chicago or have any direct connection/affiliation with the city, but I am sure the thousands of teachers who work there can perform their jobs without worrying about being fired by some CEO who’s eager to jump through hoops for monetary offers to fire veteran, trained educators in order to make room for other Ivy grads and oops..wrong person. Where was I? Oh yeah, I am confident in the abilities of Lewis as she has not minced words on her stance on Race to the Top, Duncan, or anyone else making ill-informed decisions about education. Karen Lewis is a breath of fresh air, in a tight-knit circle long controlled by clueless windbags only interested in attracting businesses and government grants. Yes, it’s been a long time comin’ but a change has finally come for the teachers of Chicago.

Karen, may the force be with you. Dr. Angelou’s quote provides some good advice for us girls, but in a pinch do what my Granny and Mamma always said: ‘Kick ass and take names later!’

To hell with 'waiting' on Superman, we have Karen Lewis!   Leave a comment

‘I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.’ ~ Maya Angelou

This post is not going to be about hyping some movie that promotes parents as desperate for immediate solutions to the public education crisis. I don’t like to think of minority and low-income families as ‘desperate’ for anything, unless of course they are amongst the millions of un- or underemployed Americans in this country. I think ‘victims’ would be a more accurate characterization because, well, they and their children have been robbed of 40 acres, a mule, and a separate but equal education. Sure, No Child Left Behind was enacted to address the latter, but by now we all know that all it really did was expose the decades-long disparities in the caliber of education between the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots.’ Of course, the ‘have nots’ are the kids relegated to dilapidated schools in neighborhoods where the jobs have long gone, hundreds of babies die by the hands of their peers, and people with NO practical experience in education have been bestowed the power to close neighborhood schools (leading to more violence) and create a working environment rife with fear and mistrust. (Examples: Chicago, Detroit, and D.C. Feel free to substitute any of these cities above.) Anyone wonder or even ask why we should ‘wait’ on Superman, much less anyone else to fix problems that our government has known about forever? Probably not.

Yes, those things are disappointing, disheartening, and enough to make anyone with common sense reconsider (several times) entering the teaching profession. But there is hope for parents, students, and teachers….and it ain’t Superman. It’s not Michelle Rhee, Arne Duncan, Joel Klein, or any of the other self-righteous, self-proclaimed education experts with their Ivy League degrees and colonialist complexes. Nope, it’s an educated Black woman, from the South Side of Chicago, with dreads, and a pair big enough to call a spade a spade and expose the truth about the mess Duncan and Daley created with the Renaissance 2010 debacle. Ok, maybe ‘pair’ is an overused cliché, but I couldn’t think of anything else.Well, I could but I don’t know Karen well enough to call her a ‘Bad B*&%$!’

Some people may not understand my excitement about the ‘arrival’ of Lewis onto the education scene as the newly-elected President of the Chicago Teachers Union. My excitement is comprised of equal parts enthusiasm for the fact that:  (1) Lewis is Black; and (2) she holds no punches. Ok, ok..maybe I am more excited about the second one..we have way too many people in education chasing the carrot, shuckin’ & jivin, skinnin & grinnin, and holding their peace for a small piece, of whatever. There are too many people who are cheerleaders for scientific experiments (masked as entrepreneurship) in education for the sake of securing additional blood money, er… funding for continued support. (I guess everyone forgot about the Tuskegee Experiment and it’s lasting effects, but I digress.) There are also people who work/worked under administrations that implement/implemented policies that failed, from the start, yet kept quiet until they made their exit (and nice salaries and built name recognition). I cannot respect such individuals or give weight to anything they have to say because they sold out millions of kids and never said a word. Not.One.Word. Until now, because it’s profitable to bash these doomed-from-the-start policies on the ‘Pimpin’ Education’ circuit. But I guess everyone has their price, I just haven’t found mine yet. God willing, I never will.

I am neither in Chicago or have any direct connection/affiliation with the city, but I am sure the thousands of teachers who work there can perform their jobs without worrying about being fired by some CEO who’s eager to jump through hoops for monetary offers to fire veteran, trained educators in order to make room for other Ivy grads and oops..wrong person. Where was I? Oh yeah, I am confident in the abilities of Lewis as she has not minced words on her stance on Race to the Top, Duncan, or anyone else making ill-informed decisions about education. Karen Lewis is a breath of fresh air, in a tight-knit circle long controlled by clueless windbags only interested in attracting businesses and government grants. Yes, it’s been a long time comin’ but a change has finally come for the teachers of Chicago.

Karen, may the force be with you. Dr. Angelou’s quote provides some good advice for us girls, but in a pinch do what my Granny and Mamma always said: ‘Kick ass and take names later!’

If 'Big Brother' really is watching, tell him to get some damn business!   1 comment

O.k., this post (actually just the title) has been sitting in the queue since April 29th so I thought that it was about time I got to work… Sometimes I rant about not having a (paying) job, but something happened approximately 2 weeks ago that made me realize that, to a certain extent, I am a little more fortunate than some teachers. Why? Because I can use my blog, Twitter, and Facebook to say whatever the hell I want about whomever (or is it whoever) the hell I want, when I want. And I can cuss if I want to..even though the pastor talked about us working on our ‘cussing spirit’ just this past Sunday. That’s o.k. though because I can still call-out the idiots and incompetent leadership of our local schools, districts, etc. using other descriptive words.

So here’s what happened: As usual, I am all in everybody’s business (Tweets) to see what’s going on…I often retweet stuff from people such as @MikeKlonsky, his brother @Fklonsky, @readtoday, @ileducprof, and a slew of others. Most of my own tweets and others’ retweets are education-related, so I don’t think twice about sharing the info. Every once in awhile, some public figure will do or say something so stupid that one cannot help but retweet and add their own commentary. At least that’s what I do…. One night someone (who shall remain nameless) posted something about a recently-elected official in a state (that closely resembles a female body part) and some drug used by men to enhance their sexual prowess. I thought it was funny, for a few reasons. First of all, this same official came under fire for his decision to omit slavery from the state’s Confederate History Month ‘celebration.’ Then he decided to omit the afore-mentioned drug from the state’s healthcare plan. Not only did he put his foot in his mouth about slavery, but he made an executive decision that was neither necessary nor relevant. And for that, I thought he deserved to be the butt of a few jokes. Furthermore, this official’s behavior was especially embarrassing because he is a fellow Notre Dame alumnus. We expect better.

So this friend asks me if I minded deleting the tweet. I didn’t mind and I was not upset. His concern actually made me stop and think about the ‘freedom’ I have as an unemployed educator: I don’t have to worry about administrators ‘spying’ on me-I had enough of that when I was actually teaching. But seriously, when did teachers stop enjoying the liberties of the 1st Amendment? I taught Civics for a number of  years and one of the lessons I enjoyed teaching (and kids enjoyed learning) was the one about the Constitution.The kids really enjoyed learning about their actual rights since it seemed, to them, they did not have any.

Then I started thinking about Ashley Payne, the Barrow County teacher who was fired over her Facebook page last year (wait, it gets better). ‘Supposedly’ a concerned parent wrote a letter to the principal about some things the teacher had on her page. Specifically, a picture of herself while on vacation-holding a beer, and a status update that said she was on her way to play ‘Crazy Bitch Bingo’ with her friends. The AJC’s Get Schooled Education blogger Maureen Downey actually did some investigating into the infamous letter, which was anonymous, and found some serious discrepancies. For example, when the origin of the letter was traced, turned out the email account was a phony. But it was too late because Ashley had been pressured by the principal to resign. For those of you who are not aware, Georgia is what is known as a Right to Work state. Meaning, an employer does not have to justify firing an employee. If your administrator is having a bad day, going through a divorce, doesn’t like you, or is just plain crazy, well…he or she can fire you. What’s worse, that looks very bad on a teacher’s record. It could possibly prevent you from getting another teaching job, especially since the former administrator can say whatever he or she wants when called for a reference.

So what does all this mean? In my opinion, it seems as though teachers exchange their 1st Amendment rights for a contract, in which they are grossly underpaid, treated disrespectfully, and micro-managed by some (not all) administrators who are excused for either not having a filter or not giving a damn about being tactful or professional, especially if they have a successful immigrant story to tout to monstrous , feel-good philanthropists who blackmail elected officials into keeping such leaders with $65.4 million dollars of hush money. If you still think unions are bad then we know which team you work spy for. Stay the hell out of my business.

If ‘Big Brother’ really is watching, tell him to get some damn business!   1 comment

O.k., this post (actually just the title) has been sitting in the queue since April 29th so I thought that it was about time I got to work… Sometimes I rant about not having a (paying) job, but something happened approximately 2 weeks ago that made me realize that, to a certain extent, I am a little more fortunate than some teachers. Why? Because I can use my blog, Twitter, and Facebook to say whatever the hell I want about whomever (or is it whoever) the hell I want, when I want. And I can cuss if I want to..even though the pastor talked about us working on our ‘cussing spirit’ just this past Sunday. That’s o.k. though because I can still call-out the idiots and incompetent leadership of our local schools, districts, etc. using other descriptive words.

So here’s what happened: As usual, I am all in everybody’s business (Tweets) to see what’s going on…I often retweet stuff from people such as @MikeKlonsky, his brother @Fklonsky, @readtoday, @ileducprof, and a slew of others. Most of my own tweets and others’ retweets are education-related, so I don’t think twice about sharing the info. Every once in awhile, some public figure will do or say something so stupid that one cannot help but retweet and add their own commentary. At least that’s what I do…. One night someone (who shall remain nameless) posted something about a recently-elected official in a state (that closely resembles a female body part) and some drug used by men to enhance their sexual prowess. I thought it was funny, for a few reasons. First of all, this same official came under fire for his decision to omit slavery from the state’s Confederate History Month ‘celebration.’ Then he decided to omit the afore-mentioned drug from the state’s healthcare plan. Not only did he put his foot in his mouth about slavery, but he made an executive decision that was neither necessary nor relevant. And for that, I thought he deserved to be the butt of a few jokes. Furthermore, this official’s behavior was especially embarrassing because he is a fellow Notre Dame alumnus. We expect better.

So this friend asks me if I minded deleting the tweet. I didn’t mind and I was not upset. His concern actually made me stop and think about the ‘freedom’ I have as an unemployed educator: I don’t have to worry about administrators ‘spying’ on me-I had enough of that when I was actually teaching. But seriously, when did teachers stop enjoying the liberties of the 1st Amendment? I taught Civics for a number of  years and one of the lessons I enjoyed teaching (and kids enjoyed learning) was the one about the Constitution.The kids really enjoyed learning about their actual rights since it seemed, to them, they did not have any.

Then I started thinking about Ashley Payne, the Barrow County teacher who was fired over her Facebook page last year (wait, it gets better). ‘Supposedly’ a concerned parent wrote a letter to the principal about some things the teacher had on her page. Specifically, a picture of herself while on vacation-holding a beer, and a status update that said she was on her way to play ‘Crazy Bitch Bingo’ with her friends. The AJC’s Get Schooled Education blogger Maureen Downey actually did some investigating into the infamous letter, which was anonymous, and found some serious discrepancies. For example, when the origin of the letter was traced, turned out the email account was a phony. But it was too late because Ashley had been pressured by the principal to resign. For those of you who are not aware, Georgia is what is known as a Right to Work state. Meaning, an employer does not have to justify firing an employee. If your administrator is having a bad day, going through a divorce, doesn’t like you, or is just plain crazy, well…he or she can fire you. What’s worse, that looks very bad on a teacher’s record. It could possibly prevent you from getting another teaching job, especially since the former administrator can say whatever he or she wants when called for a reference.

So what does all this mean? In my opinion, it seems as though teachers exchange their 1st Amendment rights for a contract, in which they are grossly underpaid, treated disrespectfully, and micro-managed by some (not all) administrators who are excused for either not having a filter or not giving a damn about being tactful or professional, especially if they have a successful immigrant story to tout to monstrous , feel-good philanthropists who blackmail elected officials into keeping such leaders with $65.4 million dollars of hush money. If you still think unions are bad then we know which team you work spy for. Stay the hell out of my business.

Remember when you point the finger…   5 comments

three are pointing back at you. Yes, I went there with song lyrics again. Couldn’t help it. Dealing with ‘education rhetoric’ overload. Last week I wrote about the single parent-bashing that has been going on in the media, especially as it relates to Education. Since I wrote that blog ‘off-the-cuff,’ I didn’t have time to do any research on people raised by single parents or grandparents who are now very successful and well-adjusted. I am sure that we all know someone who, despite the statistics and negative Nellie, went on to college, graduated, and are making some form of contribution to his/her community. I know I can name a lot of people who are succesful and self-absorbed, but I digress because that is not the topic of today’s blog. Instead, I thought I would issue a challenge to those who are still playing the blame-game and laying the responsibility of Education’s demise at the feet of teachers and teacher unions.

For those who are ‘in’ the 3-ring circus of Education reform, I can’t help but wonder:

  • How many of the ‘experts’ attended public neighborhood schools? Not the elite schools where parents pulled a few strings, but the schools located right in their own neighborhood. Probably none.
  • Of the people, actually ‘in’ Education, who are bashing public school teachers, how many would be willing to contact their teachers to say they did a crummy job? Probably none. For the record, I try to connect with my teachers each year and thank them for their dedication and high standards. Some of them are actually still teaching. Yeah, who says teachers aren’t committed?
  • Has any union-basher actually done any empirical and peer-reviewed research on the detrimental effects of teacher unions? No one seems to notice that Georgia, a state without a union, consistently performs in the bottom five. Massachusetts, however, consistently performs in the top tier. Hmmmm. Could one dare to say that student performance is tied to teacher effectiveness, which is tied to a strong and active support system, a la unions? No one wants to admit that. Nevermind.
  • Will anyone admit the real issue with unions: The only reason why education ‘experts’ are calling for the dismantling or reorganization of these institutions is because they (experts) want to bring-in Rhee-type leaders to fire anyone who does not conform to the regime-of-the-moment and replace them with TFA alums. I guess I just did. Nevermind.

I would like to know when someone, anyone, will start addressing the educational infrastructure, which parents and teachers alone cannot change? You know, things like overrepresentation of minority students (particularly African-Americans) in Special Education. Or how about the underrepresentation of minorities in Gifted Education programs? Here’s a good one: What about the systemic tracking of minority and low-income kids into technical education programs? It’s one thing if kids are interested in those programs, but a completely different issue when kids are not provided with exposure to options. I guess I will continue to have this conversation with myself because no one wants to jeopardize losing powerful connections by admitting that our country’s education system (not teachers) and its archaic policies are, in fact, racist and classist.

Sometimes song lyrics are the best way to convey your point!