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Yes, Michelle Rhee, Broad Foundation and others.  It's about those rotten teachers and their tenure--THEY'RE the ones keeping down students from poor districts.  It's their fault.  Their tenure privileges (first established in 1909) are in violation of the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause.  End their ability to block "needed reforms" and tah dah!  Unicorns and Rainbows following on the heels of a standardized curriculum, high stakes testing, value added model evaluations and the introduction of ed tech into the classroom.  

I'm making fun, but the sad part is that this attack on teachers, their unions, benefits and protections is political and ignores the realities on the ground.  Here in Philadelphia, for the first time ever, a survey was conducted to see how many students in the system were involved with DHS (Philly's Department of Human Services, handling foster care and childhood interventions) or the juvenile justice system.  See below the squiggly thing for the results.

You can find the article on the survey here from the Philly Inquirer.

The numbers are daunting:

Percent of students involved with DHS:

3rd graders:  11.3
7th graders: 15.4
9th graders: 19.9
12th graders: 20.2

Percentage of students in Special Education programs involved with DHS:
3rd graders: 20
7th graders: 25
9th graders: 25
12th graders: 20

Citywide, across all grades, 17 percent of students have been involved with DHS or the juvenile justice system, the Children's Hospital analysts found. By high school, that number grows to 20 percent, and nearly half of all district high schools have more than 100 pupils or more than 20 percent of the student body involved with DHS.

David Rubin, a Children's Hospital pediatrician and codirector of its PolicyLab, said he imagined a typical high school classroom, where perhaps a dozen young people in a class of 30 might have complicated needs arising from a life in foster care or problems with the law.  "In a very challenging financial environment, it helps us understand what these teachers face every day," Rubin said Tuesday at a news conference at district headquarters.

Students involved in the DHS and juvenile justice systems need social and emotional supports often in short supply or absent in the city's strapped public schools, which often lack full-time counselors, nurses, psychologists, and social workers.

First off, imagine that classroom and what the teacher faces.  Do you really want to see a TFAer in front of that group or someone with some experience under his/her belt to manage things?  

Second, how much pay do you suppose someone dealing every day with a classroom like this deserves?  Essentially, the teacher not only has to teach (dealing with high stakes testing, lesson plans, professional development of the latest education school brain fart, CE credits, administrative stuff, etc.) but also has to play therapist, career counselor, nurse, and social worker trying to ensure that these young people have a chance.

Meanwhile, our fine governments (especially Corbett, but Philly City Council and Arne Duncan have a hand) underfund, overmandate and tackle the wrong problems.  Need the leaks in your building fixed or iPads for everyone?  Guess which gets funding?

I could vent my spleen more, but I think you get the idea.  Our educational system needs some serious investments and a major readjustment as to how the teaching profession is viewed.  

Peace.    

Originally posted to dizzydean on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 07:09 AM PDT.

Also republished by Philly Kos, DKos Pennsylvania, and Barriers and Bridges.

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Comment Preferences

  •  They want to destroy public education. (9+ / 0-)

    Teachers are collateral damage in that war.  

    Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

    by TomP on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 07:12:01 AM PDT

    •  They also want to destroy teachers' unions (7+ / 0-)

      as a political entity.  I've highlighted it before, but this article by Terry Moe of the Hoover Institution lays out in a way I have seen nowhere else what the strategy is:

      http://www.hoover.org/...

      And this is how the teachers unions have used their political power in shaping the nation’s schools: not by imposing the policies they want, but by blocking or weakening those they don’t want—and thus preventing true reform. Throughout, they have relied on their alliance with the Democratic Party to do that. The teachers unions have been the raw power behind the politics of blocking. The Democrats have done the blocking.
      End the unions, replace with ed tech and you destroy teachers as a force in society.  Also destroyed is a key constituency of the Democratic Party.  Of course, this is why I just don't understand how Obama, Duncan and their allies in Congress can continue down a path of "educational reform" that clearly intends to destroy this constituency...

      To be free and just depends on us. Victor Hugo.

      by dizzydean on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 07:18:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I was an educator in a high poverty school (7+ / 0-)

    Many of these kids face challenges everyday that are unknown to those in affluent districts. We work to keep these kids motivated and to provide a sanctuary for them.

    Here is an anecdote from a previous diary that I think fits well into your narrative.

    I coach track. A few years ago I was at a track meet and one of my runners was winning another 400 meter race. She had been involved in track since her freshman year and was an excellent sprinter. One of my coaching colleagues commented that I probably was sad to see her go. “On the contrary”, I replied. “I am delighted that she is graduating.” I hadn’t thought she would make it.

    Track was the hook I had, but it took a great deal of work to keep her in school and to keep her eligible. But she perservered and graduated. The week after graduation she stopped by the house. As she sat on the back deck with me and my wife, she repeatedly mentioned how important we were to her staying in school. As she left she gave us a hug. “Thank you”, she said. “You are the reason I graduated.”

    Was this a success? She did very poorly on our state standardized tests so I perhaps I failed her. If she had dropped out and not taken the tests, our school average would have been better. In the end I don’t really care what her test scores were.

    Heresy? Oh well.

    We teach all children, not just the chosen few.

    A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

    by slatsg on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 07:54:05 AM PDT

    •  I work mostly with a bunch of high achievers (5+ / 0-)

      but when I dig or do extra stuff with them, I find all sorts of stuff that always reminds me that shit happens in young peoples' lives that we, as teachers, not only discover, but often are the only line of hope for these kids.  

      I had one student dump on me a couple of years ago that his parents were divorced and his mom had become an alcoholic--he literally was carrying her to bed every night.  He had received zero counselling and was worried that if he went to college, his mom would drink herself to death because he would not be there.  I got him help, got the school to reach out to his mom and she started AA. He graduated and went off to college and all are doing just fine, last I heard.

      To be free and just depends on us. Victor Hugo.

      by dizzydean on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 08:01:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Yes, and... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dizzydean, Be Skeptical

    From the L.A. Times article on the ruling:
    "The evidence clearly showed that, in some cases, the teacher dismissal process can be long and expensive --  and that teachers have more protections against wrongful termination than other state employees.

    "The plaintiffs' side argued that the current situation was bad for students, forcing them to endure poor teachers and the state to squander educational resources trying to fire them."
    http://www.latimes.com/...

    Yes, the suit was brought by an anti-teacher and anti-public school group.  Yes, teachers are underpaid and under appreciated.  Yes, many teachers work above and beyond the call of duty.  And, yes, some teachers do a poor job and need to find a different line of work.  There needs to be an effective way to get them out of teaching.  I don't know how to judge teachers objectively...the old, "I'll know it when I see it," is not good enough, and basing teacher evaluations on the students standardized tests is terrible.

    •  Well, look at the rest of the article (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Darth Stateworker, musiclady
      Layoff rules that rely on seniority also were disputed. Strong but less-experienced teachers should not lose their jobs when layoffs are necessary, the attorneys representing the students said. Instead, they argued, quality should trump seniority.

      The other side challenged how quality would be measured and pointed to a general correlation between experience and effectiveness.

      So, what is the data?  Are low performing schools filled with tenured poor teachers?  See:

      https://childandfamilypolicy.duke.edu/...

      http://nctaf.org/...

      http://epaa.asu.edu/...

      Notice the problem all of these (and others--you can find it on the google) highlight?  

      One of the biggest problems poor schools face is teacher turnover, rather than not being able to remove tenured ineffective teachers.  

      But what get's targeted by the "reformers"?  Tenure.   Why?  Because it fits their theories and the goals of privatization.

      To be free and just depends on us. Victor Hugo.

      by dizzydean on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 08:32:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Let's see the anti-tenure trolls come in here like (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    slatsg, dizzydean, Darth Stateworker

    they did in my diary last night.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 08:11:32 AM PDT

    •  They will. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dizzydean, zenbassoon

      Count on it.

      "There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy." - Me

      by Darth Stateworker on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 10:04:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  So a failure to agree 100% = Troll ? (0+ / 0-)

      I hope you are not a teacher if are so intolerant of open discussion of issues where there is no single "right answer."

      •  It wasn't "not agreeing 100%". (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Darth Stateworker

        It was teacher bashing trollery.

        "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

        by zenbassoon on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 12:17:35 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Agreed. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dizzydean

          When one sees the issue as binary - that tenure is bad, and should be eliminated completely - and refuses to engage in discussion on how the tenure system can be improved - that's trollery, because it's straight out of the mouths of these anti-teacher organizations.

          Legit discussion on tenure means that those that both sides understand the issue is not just a tenure good/tenure bad discussion.  It's that there are many, many shades of gray in between the idea that "the status quo is great" and "eliminate all tenure because it fails."

          This is exactly what we saw last night - especially with that tool that kept doing the "Neener Neener!  My side won and your side lost!" bullshit.  That's as trollish as they come.

          "There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy." - Me

          by Darth Stateworker on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 02:58:45 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  An important point about "tenure". (4+ / 0-)

    People think "tenure" in the public school system means the same thing as  university "tenure".

    It doesn't.

    The concept of "tenure" was first extended to public school teachers because of political meddling in hiring and firing teachers.  Unlike university tenure, which makes teachers extremely difficult to fire, under public school tenure it remains easy to fire teachers, but only for specific causes.

    Here are the causes for which tenured public school teachers in my state can be fired:

    (1) inefficiency,
    (2) incompetency,
    (3) incapacity,
    (4) conduct unbecoming a teacher,
    (5) insubordination
    (6) failure to satisfy teacher performance standards

    If a principal has documented evidence for any of these, he can terminate the teacher.  The teacher can appeal the firing, but until the arbitration board reinstates him -- if it reinstates him -- he is out.

    I think sometimes lazy principals spread the myth that tenure makes it impossible to fire bad teachers.  The elementary school my kids went to had a teacher parents complained about, and the principal always claimed that tenure wouldn't let him fire her.  He left and the school promoted one of its teachers to principal, and a couple months later she fired the teacher in question.  Was it more trouble than if there were no teacher tenure? Sure.  Did that make firing the teacher unfeasible? Obviously not.

    Two of my kids' tenured teachers were dismissed for cause, one for inefficiency, one for conduct unbecoming a teacher. The union didn't make a fuss in either case; as far as I can see they never do, and I think it's because the principal isn't allowed to fire tenured teachers without solid proof of serious misconduct, and the teacher has a pretty robust appeals process.

    The bottom line is we have tenure in our school system, and bad teachers do get fired, they don't come back and the union doesn't make a fuss about reinstating them.

    I've lost my faith in nihilism

    by grumpynerd on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 09:44:44 AM PDT

    •  That's a really good point (0+ / 0-)

      and I think it causes some confusion when addressing it.  And you are absolutely right, a good principle will meet with a questionable teacher, investigate/document complaints, provide prof dev training where applicable and provide a comprehensive folder indicating the efforts made to correct any issues, so that when the individual is let go, the union will have few complaints.

      To be free and just depends on us. Victor Hugo.

      by dizzydean on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 10:02:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Part of the issue here for some (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dizzydean, jediwashuu, musiclady

      is "the union making a fuss" or what they view as the union making a fuss anyway.

      Unions have a duty to zealously represent their members in disciplinary actions, whether the member is right or wrong.  Some view this as what it is - a union doing its job.  Others view it as something it's not:  a union fighting hard to protect poor performing members.

      This is the nature of a system based on due process.

      To me, a "union making a fuss" on par with the kind of nonsense anti-unionists tend to act like is going on would be a union calling a strike because a teacher was fired or some other extreme action after a decision is handed down by an arbitrator.  But simply providing representation to their members in a disciplinary proceeding is not making a fuss.

      I think we need to be clear about that.

      "There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy." - Me

      by Darth Stateworker on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 10:11:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sure. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Be Skeptical, dizzydean

        But you're constructing a scenario here that didn't happen. In these cases the principal collected all the required documentation, the teachers were offered independent arbitration and in the face of the evidence declined to appeal.

        After that nobody's going to wave the bloody shirt for the union brother, especially for the union brother who used a racial slur on a young black boy having trouble with his lessons.

        This gets to a serious negative stereotype of unions, one that's in the air but never specifically articulated. I'll crystalize it for you: people believe unions are amoral.

        This is a sophisticated kind of blame-shifting. If management does its job professionally, then a reasonable disciplinary procedure should make it possible to fire an employee for gross misconduct.  But if management can't be bothered to put together a case against the employee, the unions are a convenient scapegoat, because they can't let management simply fire a member without due process.

        This gets to what I see as the heart of liberalism: the confidence that reason can be used to resolve conflicts and solve problems.   Unions don't exist to ransack an enterprise and turn it into a non-functioning shell of its former self -- that's what leveraged buyout artists are for.  Liberal support for unions is grounded in the belief that workers advocating for their rights and interests is consistent with a successful enterprise.

        I've lost my faith in nihilism

        by grumpynerd on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 11:56:16 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  And had they appealed (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dizzydean

          and demanded a hearing in front of an arbitrator, would that have been "the union making a fuss?"

          That's the point I'm trying to make.  You saying "they didn't make a fuss" because they didn't fight the disciplinary charges at all does labor no favors, because it perpetuates the idea that if an employee does fight disciplinary charges - as is their right - and a union does provide them representation to do so - as is their responsibility - they're doing something "wrong."

          In short - be careful how you paint things.

          "There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy." - Me

          by Darth Stateworker on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 12:37:45 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'm sorry; my wording has evidently offended you. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            dizzydean

            What I meant was when it was proved to everybody's satisfaction it went no farther.

            It does labor no favors, in my opinion to fight for an unjust cause.

            Is there any line which a union member could cross that would make it a bad idea for the union to fight for that member's job? Let's say it's a case of an employee sexually harassing other employees, who are also union members.  After the full disciplinary and appeal process specified in the contract, everyone involved, including the union officials, are convinced of this guy's guilt.  

            You think it's good for labor to put this guy back in his old position?

            And the teacher who was proved to have shamed a little black boy in front of the class, you think it's a good for labor to put her back in front of that class?

            If there is literally no line which the union should not cross, then in fact I do consider that amoral.   But fortunately I d on't think everybody in the labor movement thinks that way.  Certainly not the teacher's union, which takes the welfare of children in the system very seriously.

            You may think this makes me not a union supporter.  Well so be it, but then it makes me not a "supporter" of anything, because I don't support anything above any possible ethical consideration.  I'm not a supporter of the Democratic Party, because when Bill Jefferson (D-LA) was removed for taking bribes, I cheered.  I'm not a supporter of America, because I don't believe in my country right or wrong.

            I've lost my faith in nihilism

            by grumpynerd on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 02:16:54 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  You're wording didn't offend me at all. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              dizzydean

              I'm merely suggesting you be careful how you word such things, because the way you did word it made it seem like had the employee chosen to go to an arbitrator, that might have been "making a fuss."

              However, the rest of this response does bother me.  For example:

              Is there any line which a union member could cross that would make it a bad idea for the union to fight for that member's job?
              This ignores the fact that the union has a responsibility to defend the member regardless of the accusation.  They cannot just simply "wash their hands" of the member simply because they think the charges are too egregious.  In fact, you go on further to state a hypothetical of sexual harassment and imply that to "do the right thing" they should abandon the member.

              It is this sort of thinking that is problematic.

              Is the member not innocent until proven guilty?  Does the member not deserve to get a hearing in front of an arbitrator?  Does the member not deserve to have legal representation when they do take that case to the arbitrator?

              I'm sorry, but simply because you personally "feel" specific charges warrant everyone just rolling over doesn't make it true.  This is the entire point of due process.  Anyone can lob accusations at someone else.  That doesn't make them true, and that is why we have a system of due process in the first place.

              You equate a union zealously representing their members in disciplinary charges as wrong if you think they're guilty.  You seem to be failing to acknowledge or don't understand that unions have a legal obligation to provide representation regardless of the situation, regardless of the members guilty or innocence.  If they fail to provide this representation, they can and will most likely get sued for failure to represent.

              The specific case you lay out - where "everyone" knows the member is "guilty" doesn't change the unions obligation to represent them.  At the same time, if the proverbial "everyone" knows the member is guilty - if the evidence is that incontrovertible - nothing the union does should be able to prevent an arbitrator from siding with management and firing the employee, right?  Especially as the burden of proof at most arbitration hearings is only a preponderance of evidence, and not the more stringent standard of beyond a reasonable doubt.

              in other words, if "everyone" knows the member is guilty, and the member still prevails - the question should be what the hell did the administration do wrong in presenting the case - in the same way a DAs office would look at an ADA who lost a slam-dunk case.

              No one - not myself, not union members, not union leaders, not administrators, ad nauseum - thinks it's appropriate to keep a bad teacher employed and in the classroom.  However, you seem to be forgetting or ignoring how due process works in some respects with your statements.  It does not matter what the charges are, no matter how heinous, no matter how vile - the member has a right to a hearing and a right to counsel.  The administration has a right to present their case at the hearing and to counsel of their own.  If the administration presents a weak case - the fault for the failure to termination that teacher - if they are really bad - lies solely with the administration at that point for failing to make their case.  And of course, all of this doesn't even take into account that sometimes, extremely heinous, extremely vile accusations do indeed turn out to be completely false.  This is why we have due process in the first place.

              Don't conflate unions doing their jobs with administrative failures, because there are plenty of lazy administrators out there that won't properly document their labor issues and then will cry "it's all the unions fault" when their cases inevitably fail to sway arbitrators.

              Honestly, I think you and I are essentially in the same chapter, just different pages.  So please, again, don't think I'm personally offended or insulted by what you've said.  I just think your wording could be a bit better and you could understand the process somewhat better.

              "There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy." - Me

              by Darth Stateworker on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 02:41:35 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Here's why I think we're talking past each other. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                dizzydean

                I'm not saying the union shouldn't defend a union member even if the union officials think he's guilty.

                This is exactly analogous to the role of the defense attorney. It is the defense attorney's duty to defend clients he thinks are guilty, because the state should not be able to punish anyone without making its case.

                So it's the union's role to ensure that its members get due process, even if they think the member is guilty as hell.

                The specific case you lay out - where "everyone" knows the member is "guilty" doesn't change the unions obligation to represent them.
                This is explicitly not the case I am laying out.  I'm not talking about people's gut preconceptions. I'm talking about the case after management has proved its case, using the dispute resolution procedures specified in the contract. In this case it was independent arbitration procedure in which the standards of evidence are laid out, in which the burden of proof lies with the accuser, and in which each side has vetoes over the selection of the arbiter.

                And I'm specifically stipulating that after all that, that the union officials are satisfied that the charges are proven.That is a far, far cry from "he looks guilty to me".

                Why am I talking about this particular stipulation? Because there's a superficially similar-looking outcome that is in fact very different, that where the employee goes through all that, is found "guilty", but the union officials disagree. In other words they believe the system has failed.

                Let's call these "Case A" and "Case B".  Everything about Case A and Case B is the same, except in Case B union officials believe the result to be a  miscarriage of justice.  The big difference is that in Case A, the union has discharged its duties. In Case B, it has not fully discharged its duty -- at least not necessarily.

                The reason I see this as important is that the public, by which I mean the low-information crowd, believes that unions don't distinguish between Case A and Case B, that they will continue to fight even after a reasonable person would see that justice has been done and due process has been observed.   This is a very useful belief that people who are anti-labor can and do exploit.

                In the case I'm talking about, the union accepted the final results and moved on, which disproves the notion that they will defend a wrongdoer under any circumstances.  Note of course this doesn't mean it's not right to defend a wrongdoer under certain circumstances (see remarks about defense attorneys above).

                I've lost my faith in nihilism

                by grumpynerd on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 03:13:31 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I see where you're going now. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  dizzydean

                  Case A - arbitration case is lost, everyone accepts the result and moves on with their lives.

                  That is what usually happens.

                  Case B - worker loses, gets dismissed.  Worker and union do not accept result, move on to take additional action (like a lawsuit).

                  This does sometimes happen.  However, it also should happen - if the case against the worker was such egregious bullshit that the arbitrators ruling was completely wrong.  Again, the union still has a responsibility to represent, because it should be clear to any reasonable person that the member was railroaded.  Failing to continue representation in such a case again leaves the union open to a lawsuit.

                  On the other hand, the union has no obligation to provide further representation after the arbitration  is done if the arbitrators decision comes from a fair hearing.  This should be the case in 99.99999% of arbitration cases.  It is very, very rare that someone got incontrovertibly railroaded at multiple points through the disciplinary process up to and including in front of an arbitrator or administrative law judge.

                  So I see what you're saying.  Again, I didn't take offense at your first post.  I just felt that the wording - "making a fuss" made it unclear what, exactly a fuss would be, and left open to interpretation, any action by a union other than rolling over in a disciplinary action could be interpreted as a "fuss" by a certain crowd of people.

                  At the end of the day, it's not whether or not the unions "made a fuss" that is the real issue.  It's whether or not the "fuss" was justified.  In the rare instances where unions make a fuss that isn't justified, people are completely right to get pissed off with the union.

                  "There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy." - Me

                  by Darth Stateworker on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 03:38:53 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

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