Sunday, June 8, 2014

#168 June 8, 2014- Educational Wishing

What Educators Want,
What Educators Need. . .
There was lots of talk in Madison this week about the fact that the school board and administration of MMSD negotiated a new contract with their employees that will be in effect through the 2015-16 school year.  This was welcome news to the employees of the district who have been fighting for the survival of their unions since the "bomb was dropped" on us in 2011.  A vast majority of educators and other district employees approached this round of negotiations with the hope that we would be able to preserve some key elements of our contracts, and gain valuable time to continue the fight. 

The general consensus among many employees was that, even with the expected struggles in negotiations, a collective bargaining agreement would be more positive than any potential handbook created by our employer.  Make no mistake about it, MMSD employees are thankful that we have an employer that listened to the community and its employees and was willing to negotiate a deal.  We know that administration didn't have to negotiate, instead they could have dragged their feet and waited until the Supreme Court issued their ruling.    

Contract terms would remain in effect until the end of the of 2015-16 school year.|By Lee Enterprises

Along with the relief of having another year under a contract comes some frustration.  The media continues to fail to accurately report on virtually anything involving education.  The headlines about raises miss the point of collective bargaining.  To make the assertion that a .25% increase in salary merits a headline clearly demonstrates this reality.  Then to editorialize that "teacher paychecks have recovered" is ridiculous.  Taking home less, and subsequently spending less, isn't a recovery unless I completely misunderstand economics. 

Madison teachers will get a small raise in their next contract, which was agreed upon this week.
WISC-TV / Channel 3000|By Channel 3000

The fact that teachers with master’s degrees are no more effective in the...

A major problem with the coverage of this current contract negotiations, and with public discussion about educators in general is the focus on a few aspects of our employment.  So much of the conversation about educators focuses on our wages, benefits and the "huge" amount of time off that we have.  Add to this the continued emphasis on the data that supposedly supports the rhetoric of "failing schools" and the climate around public education and public educators is gloomy.  It's no wonder that morale in our schools is low and educators are stressed and frustrated.   

Political battles over teaching in the last decade have focused on...
The Huffington Post|By Joy Resmovits

A recent article addressed the reality of teacher turnover in Iowa. It was suggested that hopes for a turnaround were being pinned on recent legislation, designed to hold teachers more|By Lee Enterprises

This isn't a plea for sympathy or an effort to claim that educators work so much harder than anyone else.  Our job is demanding and our challenges many, but that is the case in virtually every job in America.  Educators aren't setting themselves up as martyrs or claiming that we deserve more than anyone else who works hard and serves the public good.  Instead it is a request that the public look at educators with empathy and recognize that our efforts matter and our contributions to society are significant.  It is disturbing to hear what is said about educators in many circles, and this anti-educator rhetoric only serves to mislead and divide the public. 

Of course educators would like more money, we want benefits that protect our interests, and we want to work in the best conditions possible.  At the same time, public educators are a group of people who are willing to do virtually anything to insure the success of our students.  We entered the profession to make a difference in our students' lives and to help improve our community as a whole.  What public educators want from their employers and from the public is to be supported and for our efforts to be recognized as being of great value. 

As this article states, "Employees are vastly more satisfied and productive, it turns out, when four of their core needs are met: physical, through opportunities to regularly renew and recharge at work; emotional, by feeling valued and appreciated for their contributions; mental, when they have the opportunity to focus in an absorbed way on their most important tasks and define when and where they get their work done; and spiritual, by doing more of what they do best and enjoy most, and by feeling connected to a higher purpose at work."

Excessive demands are leading to burnout everywhere.
The New York Times|By Tony Schwartz and Christine Porath

We don't want a marketplace where we are treated, and act, like private sector business employees.  Most educators I talk to would like to work in the same community for as long as possible.  They become connected to the families and the community that they work in and when longevity is allowed build strong connections that help students succeed.  Part of the thinking behind Act 10 (beside the obvious political effort to destroy unions) was to treat public sector employment like private sector employment.  Yet the two are different in many ways, especially in the field of public education.     

Wisconsin's schools have become a new marketplace since Act 10, where educators look to other districts for better pay and benefits, and districts make performance a greater factor in...
Green Bay Press-Gazette

This drive to turn our schools into businesses impacts educators, but more importantly it has a huge detrimental effect on our students.  Children aren't adults, they need time to explore, grow and play without intense pressure to achieve arbitrary standards and benchmarks (and one can argue that adults need this too).  Educators need to be able to teach students in ways that build a lifelong love of learning, encourage creativity and curiosity, and that allow children to develop into well balanced, well rounded citizens. 

Kindergarten is no longer what I remember it being. Check out an article...

Pearson and Common Core are not testing what you know, what you think,...
The Huffington Post|By Alan Singer

We want a voice in creating the policies and procedures that drive educational efforts in our schools.  We have huge gaps in achievement, equity and opportunity in our schools that mirror our society.  However, to place all the blame on educators for this misses the reality that in most cases educators don't shape the systems we work in.  Instead, public educators are often a voice for our students and families in a system that too often ignores the needs of those it is supposed to serve.  

Why do we continue to rely on approaches to education that have been...

Meier: It is galling when rich people in the ed policy field tell me that class size doesn't matter-and pay a lot to send their kids to schools with half as many students per class as urban...

We need support from lawmakers and voters to recognize the blatant lies that the privatization movement is telling in an effort to make money off our children.  

Republican Jim Oberweiss fought hard for the right of charters to discriminate. That's what he means by providing "choice" for parents. The language in the bill was simple enough. " ... all federal...

A significant part of that support comes from informed and involved citizens who understand that education is more than a political issue and goes deeper than the coverage it receives in the press.  There are not many easy solutions to the problems that our public schools face.  They require long-term commitment and consistent effort and participation from all of us.   

The second of two public hearings on the...

The Good, The Bad and
The Ugly. . .

The Good . . . Some of the most basic aspects of accountability and transparency is knowing where our elected representatives are and what they are doing with their time.   

Once, it was routine to know where the state’s elected leaders and...
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel|By Jason Stein

Contest: Walker’s Frequent Flyer Miles Posted on June 5, 2014June 6, 2014 by wheresscottwalkerLeave a comment
So much to be happy about with this ruling.  Wisconsin is finally catching up with much of the rest of the nation. 

Wisconsin's ban on gay marriage has been struck down by a federal judge....
The Huffington Post|By Paige Lavender

Unfortunately, the Conservative leadership and a portion of our state's population will fight progress tooth and nail.

Gay couples began marrying in Wisconsin on Friday shortly after a federal judge overturned the state's ban on same-sex marriage. As the marriages took place, the state's attorney...

The Bad . . . Telling the truth is also an important part of being a public servant. 

Gov. Scott Walker defended the number of new businesses being created in...
WISC-TV / Channel 3000|By Channel 3000

The Ugly . . . Transparency and accountability are difficult to enforce when those who we elect to represent us are more beholden to financial donors than they are to the people who elect them.  The end result is a democracy in name only, one where we see rules and regulations created that undermine the democratic process.  All done in the name of transparency, integrity and honesty, when the exact opposite is the underlying intent.   

The numbers behind Christine LaGarde's warning
Mother Jones

The week after Governor Scott Walker's opponent Mary Burke pulled even with Walker in the polls, the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity dumped $900,000 into a major TV ad buy in Wisconsin, aimed at...

MADISON, Wisconsin - The state Government Accountability Board is applying a new law requiring printed signatures on candidate nomination papers too strictly, the chairwoman of the state Assembly's elections committee says.

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