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Old 03-01-2010, 06:31 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by anitram View Post
Then I agree with you as a matter of contract law.

I have just never seen a teaching contract that actually specifies such hours - that seems like piss poor drafting. However I also wonder how "work day" is defined for the purposes of the contract.
I can only speak for a high school work day in my district. Now, our last contract left out the 7:30-3:30 because we did make our school day longer to incorporate a homeroom before or after lunch so that students could recieve extra help, finish tests, make up work, etc. Our school day is currently 7:45-3:05.

What is written in our contract is an 8 hour work day consisting of: 5 classes, 1 professional period to be used for professional development, administrative meetings etc, 1 planning period, 1 25 minute homeroom (for which we are paid $5.40 a day. Ha!) and 25 minutes for lunch.

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Many, many, many people do this everywhere.

It has been happening now for the better part of the last 30 years.

The teacher's day does not end at the closing bell, but then again, it doesn't end at 5PM for people in other industries either. My mom has to bring home her blackberry, keep up with e mails, work on reports, etc. My dad did real estate, he got to the office at 9 AM and would come home around 9PM and still be doing work at home/answering calls, etc. My best friend's dad was the Police Chief in my town, he was at their beckon call 24/7. In none of the cases I mentioned did the person's pay go up.
Yes, I understand all this. Just like me, all these people took jobs that require extra work. I assume they knew this when they accepted their position. It just so happens that I have a job that requires contract renegotiations to extend the work day officially.

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I understand what you are saying about the contracts, but like antitram said, it's bad contract drafting. Plus, can't the contract be renegotiated like contracts are all the time?
Actually, specifying an 8 hour work day is pretty standard for high schools. I don't know why that makes it bad contact drafting.

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I just find it hard to understand why some teachers' unions resist proven reforms such as longer school days, public charter schools, etc.
The public has a lot of misconceptions and misinformation about charter schools. They are selective. They do not admit every student that wishes to attend. Attending a charter school is a privilege, not a right. Charter schools also have more latitude to remove students than a regular public school.

As for a longer school day, I don't see teachers as being opposed. As I stated above a renegotiation must take place to implement this reform however.

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Race to the top in general and Duncan in the Central Falls debate specifically makes clear that firing all the teachers is the most undesirable option.

Obama's education policies are well fine by me. Nothing could be more important than solving problems and getting results. Unlike Bush, who could have cared less about teachers or professionalism at the Dept of Education, Obama has hired a true expert(Duncan) whose philosophy is to work with teachers in good faith, not work against them.

It is my opinion that some unions need to recognize this and meet him half way.
Obama has left NCLB in place. Race to the Top is simply a way for schools to try to reach the unrealistic benchmarks NCLB has set. As for Duncan, I like and respect him but his record with Chicago Public Schools is neutral at best. Obama has also said on the record that he would like to see merit based pay for teachers which is problematic for any number of reasons.

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In the end, they are simply special interest organizations with an agenda and well paid leadership and lobbyists. Their seat at the table should never be revoked, but they should not get veto power over anything, or be looked at as the moral voice of education.
I must have missed the part about teaching wanting to be the moral voice of education.
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Old 03-01-2010, 06:32 PM   #17
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Shouldn't you be working?
It's Pulaski Day. We have the day off.
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Old 03-01-2010, 07:03 PM   #18
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Actually, specifying an 8 hour work day is pretty standard for high schools. I don't know why that makes it bad contact drafting.
Specifying the hours is poor drafting; the 8 hours thing is a completely different way to define that term, which is why I asked about it. I'm sure you can see why.
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Old 03-02-2010, 02:55 AM   #19
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Yes, I understand all this. Just like me, all these people took jobs that require extra work. I assume they knew this when they accepted their position. It just so happens that I have a job that requires contract renegotiations to extend the work day officially.
Did not dispute that, I simply said contracts can be renegotiated.

What you did originally was ask if I would be willing to work more hours for the same pay. I'll answer that: been there, done that, know plenty of others who have done the same. Not saying it is right, just that it is.

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The public has a lot of misconceptions and misinformation about charter schools. They are selective. They do not admit every student that wishes to attend. Attending a charter school is a privilege, not a right. Charter schools also have more latitude to remove students than a regular public school.
This sounds like it is coming right out of a union ad! Obviously there are many more misconceptions about charter schools.

With all due respect, it is the other way around. Anyone can apply to a charter school, the only issue they really have is having to do lotteries because of over abundance of interest. Every measurable standard of achievement has shown a marked improvement in charter schools. In Massachusetts, for example, charter schools enroll a disproportionate share of low income and minority students. They are not exclusive, elitist bastions of the privileged by any means. Parental involvement greatly increases in charter schools, even where it had been woefully lacking before.

This is true from any reading of the widely available data, and it is reinforced for me when those opposed to charter schools hit people with long discredited myths and say we all have misconceptions.

I don't know what you are getting at with regards to more latitude for removing people. Almost all charter schools that deal with "at risk" demographics have programs aimed at reduction of teen pregnancy, programs to intervene with kids who have emerging behavioral issues, etc.

Having been a "good kid" who endured 12 years of going to public school with aspiring gang members, I fail to see how it is a bad thing for charter schools to boot someone out after say 2 chances as opposed to 20. Get the chronic problem kids in separate schools in and of themselves, and my opinion is we should make it just as easy to get them the hell out of public schools as it is charter schools. I am not saying don't educate them, but if you can not act in a socially acceptable way, you have no right to compromise everyone else's 1 shot at a quality education.

Charter schools have helped so many kids in Boston, black and white, across the income spectrum, and have helped give options and improve what was a school system still decimated by busing until the mid 1990s. They are extremely popular, and they work. Otherwise, Obama would not make them such a big part of his agenda-he is, unlike the faith based Bush, fact based.

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As for a longer school day, I don't see teachers as being opposed. As I stated above a renegotiation must take place to implement this reform however.
It has been renegotiated in many places, and very successfully. Numerous schools in Boston have been models for national pilot experiments on longer school days.

Maybe this could have been an option in Central Falls?


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Obama has left NCLB in place. Race to the Top is simply a way for schools to try to reach the unrealistic benchmarks NCLB has set. As for Duncan, I like and respect him but his record with Chicago Public Schools is neutral at best. Obama has also said on the record that he would like to see merit based pay for teachers which is problematic for any number of reasons.
Yes, he has left it in place, but standards are obviously not new and he will not be leaving the money behind. NCLB was hardly novel, it was just poorly crafted and implemented. Therefore, Obama is taking a mend it don't end it approach and turning around what was in many ways a race to the bottom as districts just reduced their standards to be in compliance. Even amidst 2 wars and a severe recession, Obama has drastically improved No Child Left Behind in just 1 year.

Race to the Top has spurred real reform, and Duncan has stated many times that it is unacceptable to focus just on test scores. Charter schools, closing schools that are not getting results, increased emphasis on science and technology, this is a much more comprehensive and better approach than Bush's "standards only, you're on your own with the money" approach. Bush never did any education reform, Obama has used incentives to bring numerous states into line.

Race To The Top has explicitly sought to improve standards to reflect actual ability. This is all just in a year- it clearly shows Obama is acknowledging exactly what you mention about unrealistic standards and is serious about working with all involved to improve them.

As for merit pay, Obama/Duncan have no intention of doing the conservative Republican merit pay, which just pays for test scores. That's what I call "the teach in a rich district bonus." It has nothing to do with actual merit. Duncan looks at a variety of factors-credentials, professional development, improvement in teaching effectiveness and many measures of student achievement over time, etc.

Merit pay is done in some form everywhere else, why should it be different in education?

Duncan improved on every measure in Chicago- graduation rates, test scores, teacher retention, % of students going on to college, etc. Chicago is certainly not to the level of Boston or DC or NYC in terms of improvements, but it started at a much worse place and reform started later than in the other cities mentioned. I'll judge that a modest success unless we see he was manipulating statistics like Bush's guy Paige was in Houston.

The positive changes in inner city education in the last decade or so all have one thing in common: the leadership has shown a commitment to reform.


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I must have missed the part about teaching wanting to be the moral voice of education.
I thought I made pretty clear that is was some teachers' Unions that act like they speak for all teachers and that they represent everything that is good and just in education. These are the people who, to me, can seem like they are asking to be seen as the moral compass or conscience or whatever of education.

This and demagoguery are what I find in abundance in MA teachers' union ads. Seriously, they constantly attack the other side as anti teacher anti education, use scare tactics and lie over and over again about actual results produced by common sense reforms. It reminds me of how Bush and friends operated with the Iraq debate.
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Old 02-25-2011, 07:10 PM   #20
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Different school district, and this time the immediate problem is budgetary, but otherwise déjà vu...

NPR, Feb. 25
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In Rhode Island, the Providence school board has sent termination notices to every teacher in the financially troubled city, sparking outrage in the teachers' union. The city's mayor says the firing of more than 1900 teachers, which takes effect at the end of the year, is meant to give budget officials "maximum flexibility" in addressing its deficit.

...Providence school officials say that sending the termination notices now will allow them to recall teachers by position, not by seniority. But the officials say they're unsure how many termination notices would be rescinded.
The same day, the president of the American Federation of Teachers proposed a plan for overhauling the tenure system in public schools:

New York Times, Feb. 24
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Responding to criticism that tenure gives even poor teachers a job for life, Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, announced a plan Thursday to overhaul how teachers are evaluated and dismissed. It would give tenured teachers who are rated unsatisfactory by their principals a maximum of one school year to improve. If they did not, they could be fired within 100 days.

Teacher evaluations, long an obscure detail in an educator’s career, have moved front and center as school systems try to identify which teachers are best at improving student achievement, and to remove ineffective ones. The issue has erupted recently, with many districts anticipating layoffs because of slashed budgets. Mayors including Michael R. Bloomberg of New York and Cory A. Booker of Newark have attacked seniority laws, which require that teacher dismissals be based on length of experience rather than on competency. Ms. Weingarten has sought to play a major role in changing evaluations and tenure, lest the issue be used against unions to strip their influence over work life in schools—just as Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin and Ohio are trying to do this week.

Critics say that removing teachers is nearly impossible because of the obstructions that unions have put up. Administrators also bear some blame. Most evaluations are perfunctory—a drive-by classroom observation by a vice principal—and hearings to prove incompetence can be long and costly.

In Ms. Weingarten’s proposal, which she presented at a meeting of union leaders and researchers in Washington on Thursday night, teachers would be evaluated using multiple yardsticks, including classroom visits, appraisal of lesson plans and student improvement on tests. Teachers rated unsatisfactory would be given a detailed “improvement plan” jointly devised by school administrators and experienced master teachers. Some improvement plans—like maintaining better classroom order—could last a month. Others would take a full school year. The results would be considered separately by administrators and the peer experts, whose judgments would be sent to a neutral arbitrator. The arbitrator would be required to decide within 100 days whether to keep or fire the teacher.

...Kati Haycock, president of the Education Trust, which seeks to narrow the achievement gap for poor students in part by raising teacher quality, said, “The overall proposal is a big step forward.” But, she added, only school administrators should create improvement plans for a poorly rated teacher; otherwise, unions might use the process to obstruct their removal.

Michael J. Petrilli, vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative-leaning education policy group, agreed. “In any other field,” he said, “this would be considered completely nuts that a manager would not have rights and responsibilities to evaluate their employees and take action.” He added that the proposal did not address the most pressing issue: how to lay off thousands of teachers because of budget cutbacks without losing promising newer teachers. “Her strategy of making sure all teachers who get a negative review will get a year and 100 days, it strikes me as a delaying tactic,” he said.

Ms. Weingarten responded that if a rational evaluation process were in place, ineffective teachers would be weeded out naturally. “All these folks now really concerned about layoffs of newer teachers never spent a minute talking about how to keep good teachers in our profession,” she said.
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Old 02-25-2011, 09:26 PM   #21
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Waiting for Superman was really depressing.
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Old 02-27-2011, 01:17 AM   #22
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^ Haven't seen it, though now that it's on DVD I might check it out. It'd be hard to imagine a documentary on school reform that wasn't rather depressing, as the challenges are so enormous.

A more rigorous teacher evaluation and development process certainly sounds like a promising idea, and I suppose in principle could provide the grounding for an alternative to strictly seniority-based policy in situations like this. Any venture, business- or social welfare-oriented or whatever, that doesn't have a strong commitment to continuously developing its own will only undermine itself in the long run. I believe it's the case (in the US) that 50% of those who enter the teaching profession leave it within five years.

In general, I think we tend towards unrealistic expectations of teachers and schools (ironic, given that we have perhaps less respect for teachers than any other culture in the world). Valuing learning highly and having the discipline and determination to succeed at it are qualities that come first and foremost from parents and the surrounding culture.
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Old 02-27-2011, 07:31 PM   #23
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^ Haven't seen it, though now that it's on DVD I might check it out. It'd be hard to imagine a documentary on school reform that wasn't rather depressing, as the challenges are so enormous.
Indeed. I want to see this, too, at some point, I'll check it out.

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In general, I think we tend towards unrealistic expectations of teachers and schools (ironic, given that we have perhaps less respect for teachers than any other culture in the world). Valuing learning highly and having the discipline and determination to succeed at it are qualities that come first and foremost from parents and the surrounding culture.
I was just about to say this very thing. Yes. Schools are doing pretty much every single thing with kids nowadays, so there's very little time left over to actually have the teachers be just that and that alone: teachers. Fix that problem and I think you'd start seeing a definite improvement.

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Old 03-03-2011, 09:09 PM   #24
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Some other voices:
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Old 03-04-2011, 07:31 AM   #25
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