Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The War on Education

The New Math for Teachers: teachers / (POLITICIANS + MEDIA + PARENTS + CHILDREN) = Failing Students
Politicians and media don't treat teachers with respect, so parents and children assume they don't have to, either. Teachers across the country constantly hear the mantra that they are failing to do their jobs. Teachers have been made the scapegoat for the ills of society, including the widespread problem of lack of parenting, while dealing with disrespectful and sometimes violent parents and children. If a parent can't control their own child (and many parents cannot), how do they expect teachers to control that one child in addition to the other 18-40 or so other students in their classroom, some just as defiant, or even violent? As for the parents who do care to actively participate in their child's education, often can't because, in Nevada, they often have to work at least two jobs. Oh, and of course, teachers still have to find the time to actually teach the ever-expanding and changing curriculum that skims, instead of delving into more subjects than are covered in either Japan or Germany (countries with whom our test scores are compared - apples vs oranges). Then, once again, teachers are told they're no good and it's ALL their fault when students don't "make the grade."

In Nevada, teachers earn far less money than do people in other professions who have comparable educational and professional qualifications, have a health care package that offers even less coverage than the package available for support staff, and have only received a 4% increase over the past 2 years (Clark County police officers received a 28% increase in one year). Yet, Governor Jim Gibbons has proposed a 6% cut in teacher salaries. Nevada State Senator Nolan, met and discussed the 6% salary cut with Clark County School District Certified Employees (teachers and future administrators). He said, 'We hear you loud and clear. We don't need our offices flooded with e-mails and we don't need anyone else calling.' He then stated that 'we all need to do our part and give back' to our state. Teachers 'should just feel lucky to have their jobs.' I wonder if all Nevada State Government officials, including this Senator and Governor, have already voluntarily reduced their own salaries by 6% to help the state balance its budget? Leaders should not ask sacrifices of their employees, when they won't make the very same sacrifices themselves, first. After all, they too, should feel lucky to have their jobs!

Nevada's Governor, in addition to reducing teacher salaries by 6%, also wants our already underfunded school district to reduce its budget. This will more than likely cause class size increases, a decrease in per student funding, and a significant reduction in every school's budget so they will be short on supplies. Brilliant move! This is the optimal strategy to use to retain your best teachers and increase student achievement. Governor Gibbons, and all other politicians and media, don't forget to blame the teachers, again, when student achievement drops. Keep this up and they'll all quit. This, of course will go over well with corporations contemplating relocating to Nevada. So much for Nevada's future. So much for "children are our future." Actually, the title of this post could also be The War on Children.

Governor Gibbons, in his State of the State Address on 1/15/09, said that reduced hours and salaries have contributed to our state's economic downturn. In the light of his own logic, how does reducing teacher salaries help our economy? If he reduces teacher salaries, many teachers will be forced into bankruptcy and/or foreclosure, and they most certainly will be spending less, contributing to the downturn. Has he thought about couples who are both teachers losing 6% of their entire family income? What about the teachers who have just completed their Master's Degree to acquire the "Highly Qualified" status required by No Child Left Behind, who now must pay off $15,000-30,000 worth of school loans? Oh, by the way, since when can a Governor break a labor contract? I also didn't hear him asking our police (remember the recent 28% increase?) or firefighters to take a 6% pay cut (not that they should have to, either)! Nothing like being equitable! By the way, why is it that traditionally female occupations are always picked on first?

How about asking our power companies to lower their profit margins and decrease their rates? Instead, they want to increase their rates, so that our many citizens who are already struggling to pay their bills, will now be forced into foreclosure and/or bankruptcy.

By the way, he did say he would reduce his salary by 6% and asked other constitutional officers do the same. I wonder how many will actually do it?

Dr. Ruffles, in his reply to the Governor's address, stated he didn't believe the 6% cut and the freeze on step increases is possible because of existing contracts.

Clark County Commission Chairman Rory Reid stated the Governor is putting the onus of fixing the State budget on local governments and that the State Government should live within its means.

Speaker Barbara Buckley also disagreed with the education cuts. She stated that these cuts would take us to the bottome of per pupil funding in the entire country: #50, baby. Yes, Governor Gibbons, something of which you can be proud - great job!

John Ralston - why don't you take a pay cut, too?

Finally, I believe that Governor Gibbons is absolutely anti-education! In his post-address press conference, he said, "I will not stand in the way of the will of the public." Well, let's see if the public starts putting their "money where their mouth is" and continue funding education and paying teachers a fair wage. If Governor Gibbons wants to make us "The Renewable Energy State," he'd do better to think about how he was planning on educating the folks he expects to be working in these industries. No teachers = No education. Maybe state citizens should think about recalling our Governor.

1 comment:

  1. I finally got the chance to check out your blog. Great job!


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