I am an active member of my union. And I am proud of this. Some teachers like to use terms like "education association" rather than union. I am proud to be a union member. Mother Jones, Bill Haywood, Joe Hill, Cesar Chavez, Lech Walesa, I am in your debt, all.
So why do I oppose things like the recent increases in pay from the federal budget to my colleagues in Ohio?
The first federal bonuses to reward teachers who raise student test scores have gone to four of Ohio's biggest, poorest and most academically challenged districts -- where teacher pay is already well above the state average.
The money will help districts reward experienced teachers who train younger colleagues as well as provide incentive for schools to boost their test scores, said Ohio state schools superintendent Susan Tave Zelman.
"This is more than pay for performance," Zelman said Monday. "This is about making the teaching profession more valued and honored."
Yes, calling these bonuses "blood money" is extreme. We live in extreme times and we are facing an extreme administration. Take a look at response #1 below and tell me who is extreme.
Blood money? Where did it come from? Working class families who can't send their kids to college at today's prices, who have their kids in schools that are consciously underfunded by a tax structure that was designed to benefit corporations and the wealthy at the expense of the working class. I'll post a diary someday on the impact of Proposition 13, the Serrano decision and the changes in school funding here in CA. It's not pretty and schools and education have been devastated here.
The documentary "First to Worst" is a decent primer....
1. This is coming from the administration that had a Secretary of Education call my national union, the NEA, "terrorists." Think I am kidding? So no, I don't trust this administration with school policy at the outset.
2. This is part of the NCLB which many, including TeacherKen have diared adequately previously, but in short, is the largest federal power grab by the party that espouses federalism and states rights, and local control.
3. This money, like all federal money, is likely to be short lived and will change in the future.
4. It is clearly being doled out for political purposes. I mean, in Ohio, two weeks before an election? How stupid do you think we are? (Don't answer that.)
5. Performance on a test? That is a standard for "merit"?
A. What about art and pe teachers? "Run faster kids
I need a raise?" I mean, how does one quantify
education in the first place is a great
question,but in art, music, etc?
B. I get it at one level. Give me 100 kids, test
them in September and then in June and pay me
based on the results. But that is not how it
works in reality. I teach high school.
I saved my roll sheets from the first day of
school and took them down the last day of school.
Half of the kids on my roll in September were gone
and half of the ones I had in June weren't there
in September. How can you evaluate me on a kid
I had for a month? What about the ones who were
in my class and left in February?
C. Did I mention that the tests don't measure what
the state says I am to teach in the course? How
can you tell me to teach X and pay me on Y?
D. Did I mention that the tests change all the time
so one year's test is not the same as the next?
E. What about teachers of special ed. or honors?
What sort of metric should you use to compare
them to teachers who have "average" students?
6. Here in California Arnold the Schwarz proposed something like this. "Combat Pay" for teachers in some districts. Thank goodness one of my colleagues in Oakland stood up on TV, looked square into the mic and said "Don't you dare use language like that to describe schools and education."
7. The NCLB is nothing less than attempt to destroy public education in this country. Every school in America will be a "failed school" by 2014. Then the remedy will be to bring in the right wing think tanks and turn our public schools into something out of the Hoover institute. Not if I can help it. NCLB needs to go, and the regime that imposed it needs to go. And the first step toward regime change will be on my 51st birthday this November.
If the current administration had my interest, or the interest of my students foremost in their minds we would not be looking at bandages on the cancer like this. We would not have NCLB. We would have an educator we trust running the Department of Education and Federal Policy would be made in collaboration with my union and Reg Weaver, our President of the NEA. Until then, take this money and shove it. With all the respect you are due Mr. Bush.
I hope my colleagues in Ohio take these bonuses, pay their taxes on them, and send the rest to the 2008 campaign of Feingold/Obama.