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Sabrina Stevens Shupe asks an extremely good question: Why aren't so-called education reform groups fighting "to ensure that every single American child can attend fully-staffed, modernized schools" by passing increased funding?
For instance, here [in President Obama's jobs plan] we have a proposal that will help stem the tide of teacher layoffs. Yet when you visit the StudentsFirst website, the first thing you’re asked to do is sign a petition to change how and which teachers are laid off. That’s an important conversation to have, but given that the large majority of teachers are capable and effective (a view shared by over 70% of Americans, despite endless criticism leveled at teachers in the media), shouldn’t keeping teachers in the classroom take precedence over pushing a nice-sounding but problematic layoff policy? Why don’t Michelle Rhee and company throw their weight behind efforts to keep teachers in their classrooms, and use their money to support promising professional development programs that would help teachers improve their professional practice right now?

It's not just StudentsFirst—other groups claiming concern about education are more concerned with raising private money to divide the existing public pie more to their liking than with making the pie higher bigger.

Meanwhile, in Rick Perry's Texas, one school district has avoided laying off teachers by laying off custodians and having teachers clean their own classrooms. If your instinct was to think this doesn't affect the educational experience for students, think again. Even setting aside the strain on teachers doing more than their full-time jobs,

High school and middle school classrooms must be cleaned within 15 minutes of dismissal. That can cut into time teachers set aside to meet with students. According to a cleaning manual the district distributed to teachers, if the rooms are not swept “room numbers will be logged and reported to respective principals.”

“If a student comes in the middle of your sweeping, you either have to say. ‘No, I can’t help you,’” she said, or stop and risk that it will not get done in time.

Groups of students have been helping out by cleaning classrooms as community service. But it's a national scandal that these are the choices school districts are having to make—between professionally cleaned schools and enough teachers, between clean classrooms and one-on-one attention for students—while groups raise hundreds of millions of dollars to fight to lay off teachers in their preferred ways, rather than throwing their weight behind proposals to fund schools more fully.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 01:01 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Having teachers clean classrooms reminds (25+ / 0-)

    me of how health care institutions save costs:  they have nurses do everything.  When I worked in a hospital setting early in my career, there were plenty of support staff.  Later, the powers that be decided "primary care nursing" was best.  It saved them the cost of personnel and got sold by the repeated meme of "the nurse herself should provide all the care".

    Of course, that meant that the nurse was filling water pitchers, emptying garbage cans, running to the kitchen for late trays, cleaning equipment, running to Central Service for instruments and equipment, running to the pharmacy for meds, and so on.  And, after that, hospitals and health care institutions starting increasing the patient load.

    The end result was big bucks for the health care industry, uncared for patients, and a whole lot of exhausted nurses (plus lots of mistakes made because of the hurried atmosphere).  

    It's also sexist.  Notice that this is being done in female dominated professions.  They never ask management to do the jobs of 2 or 3 people simultaneously.

    There already is class warfare in America. Unfortunately, the rich are winning.

    by Puddytat on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 01:11:43 PM PDT

  •  What makes no sense... (21+ / 0-)

    Is how they could ever have had enough janitors to meet this "in 15 minutes" mandate... unless of course they impose this on the teachers, but had been letting the janitors take their time and get to each room in sequence...

    In any case, this is shameful.

    Folks, remember: this is Perry's vision for the rest of America.

    As long as his pay-to-play cronies get their deals, everyone else can be consigned to the ash heap.

    You cannot enlighten the unconscious.

    by cassandracarolina on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 01:23:45 PM PDT

  •  My school is 85 years old (18+ / 0-)

    There is no air conditioning.  There are no science labs.  There are no computer labs. The library has been turned into a testing center and therefore teachers cannot take their classes to the library nor can students enter the library to check out books.

    There is one broken down old copier for around 60-70 teachers. It is out of order most of the time.

    The mold is so bad that I who, never gets colds, have been sick three times in the last six months.  The students are constantly out sick.  One of my colleagues teaches in a room where a termite honeycomb covers one side of the room.

    And our corporate tool of a supt just pulled a Palin. (That's actually the only good thing I can think of.)

    Light is seen through a small hole.

    by houyhnhnm on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 03:54:11 PM PDT

  •  My district just recently privatized custodians (18+ / 0-)

    When debating the issue, it was suggested by someone from the public that teachers could save the district money and help out by cleaning their own rooms.  This attitude shocked me.  You want me to be "highly qualified" AND empty the trash?

    Our custodians used to belong to a union. The district slowly phased them out by "piloting" outsourced custodians in one building first.  Then the district demanded that the custodial group (what was left of them) come up with $234,000 in savings.  That was more than their salaries combined.  Now we have a private company.  The level of cleanliness and service is nowhere near what we had with our union brothers and sisters.  Some of those had lived and worked in our community for over 20 years!  It was a real shame.

  •  DAMN SHAME (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    phonegery, rlharry

    SMDH

  •  Cleaning (10+ / 0-)
    one school district has avoided laying off teachers by laying off custodians and having teachers clean their own classrooms. If your instinct was to think this doesn't affect the educational experience for students, think again.

    When my kids went to elementary school in Taiwan, they swept the classroom every recess as well as cleaning up the schoolyard. After lunch they washed the floors. They also cleaned the toilets (yup!). At lunch time the students brought the hot food to the classroom from the kitchen, and then returned the pots after the meal. The kids also washed their own dishes. No problem at all. Cleaning is a part of life - get the students to do it and they will take greater ownership of their classroom.

    "I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it's much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong". Feynman

    by taonow on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 07:34:54 PM PDT

  •  Yeah, sadly in Texas there are less classrooms to (10+ / 0-)

    clean -- they have laid off teachers, consolidated classes, closed schools and decided not to open newly built schools.  

    But hey, why educate our students with all those empty prison beds?

    "Mr. President, I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed." General Buck Turgidson

    by muledriver on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 07:40:41 PM PDT

  •  I think you're missing the point. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    devtob

    You need to "think outside the box."  Kind of a whole "paradigm shift."  Rather than complaining about teachers being forced to clean their classrooms, shouldn't we be fighting to repeal the child labor laws? We send these kids to school, do charge them anything, then ask why they're "entitled?"

    Umm, that's PRESIDENT Obama and SENATOR Franken, mr. o'reilly.

    by filby on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 07:41:18 PM PDT

  •  Agreed, Laura. This is sickeningly stupid. n/t (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    devtob, rlharry

    My forthcoming book Obama's America: A Transformative Vision of Our National Identity will be published in Summer 2012 by Potomac Books.

    by Ian Reifowitz on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 07:47:26 PM PDT

  •  I agree it's not right to make teachers do the (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Neon Mama, devtob, drmah, maf1029, rlharry

    work of custodians. I've always thought it was ridiculous. My mother is a (recently) retired teacher....and for 41 years, she cleaned her classroom (including windows and bathrooms) every freaking day. She also had to pack up her classroom every summer and polish/wax the floors and paint the walls.

    This was in a public school in one of the richest communities in America. (Literally!) She had great benefits, but her salary topped out at about 50k.

    It's shameful.

    The future isn't what it used to be. ~George Carlin
    48forEastAfrica - Donate to Oxfam

    by Eileen B on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 07:48:31 PM PDT

  •  austerity madness (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    devtob, Egalitare, rlharry

    rears its ugly head again.

    Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

    by a gilas girl on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 07:52:23 PM PDT

  •  Just more of our descent into a third world nation (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rlharry, Maverick80229

    We sacrifice and the ruling class share the spoils.

  •  One of my most vivid memories (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Maverick80229

    was stomping into the social studies teacher's classroom with a can of ajax and absolute lunatic fury!!!
    That teacher had come from the Catholic system into the Buffalo system and had given up any pretense of teaching.  I came in and scrubed the desks and black board of graffiti and warned them I better not see any more. This was not my own science classroom.
     

  •  Perry's base, in Texas and elsewhere, (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    drmah, brillig, phonegery, rlharry

    does not care one whit about public education.

    Most of them have no kids in school, or send their kids to de facto segregated private schools, or (the most wingnut of all) homeschool their kids with Christianist curricula.

    That's developed into a hatred of public education that is one more expression of the essential "I've got mine, screw you" Republican political philosophy.

    They hate unions, too, but that's secondary to hatred of any government program that does not benefit them.

    A public option for health insurance is a national priority.

    by devtob on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 08:09:30 PM PDT

  •  Hope this is not off topic- very skeptical about (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    devtob, phonegery, Maverick80229

    the plans (job wish list) put forth by POTUS to do much needed repairs to the nations schools. This is very necessary, however I have a concern-if this is 'allowed' to go through by the republiturds, the only reason it will be passed is to put our publicly funded schools in good repair before handing them over to their profiteering buddies. Those RW grifters will be only too happy to take credit for 'bipartisan job creation' while managing  to steal even more of our taxpayer funded assets .

    I sincerely hope I'm wrong on this-

    •  Not to worry. The Rethugs have already said (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wsexson, drmah

      they don't want the repairs to happen.

      •  Heck! They don't even want to repair bridge to (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NYCteach

        get in KY. Why would they care about kids?

        •  The bridge is different issue. While the (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          peptabysmal, drmah

          bridge is closed, 90,000 trips a day? Week? anyway a whole  bunch of people are going to have to drive a lot more miles to get to work, which means they have to buy more gas which means we need to remove those crippling regulations so that the oil companies can drill anywhere so that they can keep up with the demand for OIL.  Whew.  Next thing we know, they will be contracting with the oil companies to repair the bridges, which I guess will take the oil companies a long time to get around to,  what with trying to keep up with the demand for oil due to the      well, you know.  Rinse and repeat.

          Democrats - We represent America!

          by phonegery on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 10:43:42 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Off Topic (6+ / 0-)

    but I have to tell everyone:  I became a grandmother for the first time about 3 1/2 hours ago.

    •  Congratulations! Now let's all hope he or she (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rlharry

      will have the option of attending a nice public school in a few years.  The Rethugs will oppose anything that will support public education--including repairs to them.  Their goal is to starve the system along with any an all other benevolent government program in order to get their greedy, grabby hands on the money. They are out to plunder.  

      But the fight must continue...

      "Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." - Ronald Reagan - 1980

      by livjack on Tue Sep 13, 2011 at 05:07:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Studentsfirst petition - Michelle Rhee (0+ / 0-)

    Came across the petition on a Careto  site and was stuck by its wording so I did some research and found Students First is a brainchild of Michelle Rhee who gained notoriety by firing, unjustly as it turns out, a large number of teachers while she was chancellor of the D.C. public schools. And, as it turns out, there is an ongoing investigation, as to the validity of some of the test scores in her district. This group has already received accolades from many of the right wing governors in Rethug states, and has also received warm praise from the "Family Research Council"  a group not known for their progressive tendencies. Anything that they might post should be a joke or at least taken with a grain of sallt

  •  Forcing teachers to become scabs?!? Perhaps Texas (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rlharry

    needs to secede from Texas!

    This is so gross!

    Aside from the fact that the school district turns the teachers into scabs in order to balance its budget on the backs of the janitors, it's abundantly clear that there is a lot of animosity towards the teachers. 15 minutes to clean or they get written up? Why? What an outrageous insult!

    Whatever happened to having respect for the people who teach our children? How come Texans keep electing assholes?

    •  Anti-intellectualism. (0+ / 0-)

      In some parts of our nation, there have always been lots of people who hate intellectuals and anything connected with them.  They also hate cities filled with people who come from many different places around the world.  It's quite depressing if you think about it.

      •  exactly. Why do you think academics get (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        flight2q

        thrown in prison first when the fascists take over?

        Part of the privatization agenda is to treat teachers with less respect.  This attitude starts to trickle down to the students and the whole paradigm starts to shift.

        The oligarchs use these anti-intellectuals (see Tea Party debate last night) and their envy of the educated and professional class to carry out their agenda.  

        Very dangerous to our democracy--and anti-American on all levels.  

        "Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." - Ronald Reagan - 1980

        by livjack on Tue Sep 13, 2011 at 06:14:25 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  The whole idea that we need to be fighting over (0+ / 0-)

    the order in which we lay off teachers and decimate school staff is just mindboggling. Layoffs are not normal, and bad things will inevitably result from them.

    Firing for cause is another beast entirely, and that's still possible.

    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

    by elfling on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 09:49:29 PM PDT

  •  Like public health doctors (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Zinman, phonegery, flight2q

    In San Francisco, supposedly one of the most progressive cities in America and home of the "model""Healthy San Francisco" program, an insurance-like program which purports to make health care available to all San Franciscans, doctors in the public health system have become increasingly burdened with tasks previously done by other staff.
    When teachers and doctors employed by public systems are obliged to do work that ought to be done by other staff, then cutbacks which "cut the fat" end up cutting the meat and lead to the deterioration of the quality of the services provided. A politician can claim that we have cut no teachers or doctors, but if those who allow them to practice their special skills efficiently are laid off, there is no gain.

    Dr. Aaron Roland is a family physician in Burlingame, CA. Follow him on Twitter @doctoraaron

    by doctoraaron on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 10:14:31 PM PDT

  •  If the current trend of denigrating teachers (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Egalitare, BB Jam Fan

    continues, public education will soon consist solely of fungible, low-wage cogs reading from scripted lessons and teaching to the lowest common denominator.  No one worth their salt will go into teaching, no matter how much they love learning or working with children - they won't be able to afford or endure it.

    •  That is what they are striving to do. They've (0+ / 0-)

      been at it for 30 years, but they are now at full pitch.  President Obama has given them steam by the administration's tolerance of people like Michele Rhee and the whole "Waiting for Superman" mentality.  

      The unions and local level resistance to this kind of agenda--and watch out for them infiltrating your local school boards--is our best hope at beating back this very destructive trend.    

      "Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." - Ronald Reagan - 1980

      by livjack on Tue Sep 13, 2011 at 06:19:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Public schools are under attack . . (0+ / 0-)

    and it's not just teachers, it's the whole system of public agencies which implement the goals of our civilization which are under attack.

    Personally, I do not welcome our new feudal lords.  

    "11 dimensional chess" is a clever form of using magical thinking to obfuscate the obvious.

    by Zinman on Mon Sep 12, 2011 at 11:04:18 PM PDT

    •  Republicans want to privatize everything. (0+ / 0-)

      Money has won out over decency with some of our people.  I used to teach in a Connecticut high school, and I loved my job.  I retired a few years ago, and I guess it was at the right time.  They asked me if I wanted to come back, but I said no.

  •  How about the football coach? (0+ / 0-)

    Does he have to clean the locker rooms?  

    •  Oh, hell no... (0+ / 0-)

      I taught for 16 years in a football obsessed Midwestern state. Coaches of boys varsity sports are the privileged class. They are not subject to layoffs, rarely required to attend staff meetings or inservices, have smaller classes and are paid ridiculously for coaching duty while teachers doing other extracurricular activities are lucky to get the equivalent of a nickel an hour for their efforts. A colleague and I kept track of our hours for directing competitive one-act one year. We were paid about 4 cents an hour each, while assistant football coaches got the equivalent of $15 per hour for coaching time.

  •  It's not about budget cuts at all. (0+ / 0-)

    Teachers make more than custodians, so if you wanted to save money you would shift responsibilities from teachers to custodians rather than the other direction.  It's about demeaning teaching.

    The Rent Is Too Damn High Party feels that if you want to marry a shoe, I'll marry you. --Jimmy McMillan

    by Rich in PA on Tue Sep 13, 2011 at 04:15:37 AM PDT

  •  Texas is no place to teach or raise kids. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Maverick80229

    Glad they're leaving the union.

    Ideology is an excuse to ignore common sense.

    by Bush Bites on Tue Sep 13, 2011 at 04:44:23 AM PDT

  •  "Reformers" blame teachers instead of funding (0+ / 0-)

    decent schools. Everywhere in MA schools are laying off teachers and cutting back on essentials (the 'fat' has already been trimmed, many times over).

    And this is a blue state.

    The 'reformers' aren't serious about improving the quality of schools and teachers. They are just using the issue to bash teachers, gut school funding, and destroy teachers unions.

    It will end with the complete demise of public education.

    Skepticism of all the elite institutions, not trust, is what required for successful leadership in this era. Digby

    by coral on Tue Sep 13, 2011 at 04:57:51 AM PDT

  •  Gov. Goodhair (0+ / 0-)

    It's all a part of Gov. Goodhair's Jesus driven policy imperatives.

    "The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love and to be greater than our suffering."

    by rlharry on Tue Sep 13, 2011 at 07:18:07 AM PDT

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