Posts Tagged ‘education’

An Historic Day For California Public Education

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

Today is the day that will finally change public education here in California for the better. A landmark case was decided that, if upheld, will send the tenure system as we know it to death row, and allow for firing of ineffective teachers.school-desk

A California judge ruled that tenure violates a student’s basic rights to public education, especially minority children. Personally, I have seen many ineffective teachers in our own local public school system, and I participated in a successful effort to remove an ineffective Principal a few years ago – not an easy battle (and I had to resort to writing a legal memorandum pointing out all the reasons the district could possibly be sued in the future for letting the Principal stay in the position in order to get noticed).

The great thing about this ruling is that it benefits everyone in the education system. It obviously benefits students by eliminating ineffective teachers from classrooms, making way for caring, positive and instrumental teachers who truly want to teach to have the opportunity to educate our children. Also, the firing process will no longer be so difficult (one statistic I heard on a news report was that to fire a teacher in California it takes up to 10 years and half a million dollars…and we wonder why we don’t have more money to spend in our schools!) Just think – schools can bring back programs like music and art, instead of wasting money trying to fire tenured teachers – double whammy!

Teachers will benefit immensely from this new ruling because those teachers who really want to teach, want to make a difference, and are excited to do so – those teachers will have a better chance of actually teaching. If seniority is not longer a priority then the newer, enthusiastic teachers can replace those who no longer enjoy it and are just hanging on to collect a paycheck (and believe me, there are MANY of them, at least here in our district!).

My niece is a teacher in a tough neighborhood school in Los Angeles. A magna cum laude Stanford credentialed graduate, she has been teaching for only  two years and her students love her – she has challenged them to want to work hard, and they do it…scores have risen and she is an enthusiastic and exciting, positive teacher. With her credentials she could have worked anywhere, but chose that school. She is making a difference. These are the types of teachers we need!

This ruling also benefits school administrators because it obviously makes their jobs easier if they have strong groups of teachers at their schools; which in turn makes communities happier and stronger. Maybe violence in schools would decrease if students had strong teachers and role models (I know – a stretch, yet if you think about it, it’s not so far-fetched).

Of course, you can’t please all of the people all of the time. The teachers union is of course very unhappy with the ruling. They say their job is to protect the teachers, but the problem is that the tenure system protects the teachers from being fired at the expense of students, schools and communities. Like many parents, I have lots of bad teacher stories from my childrens’ schools (in fact, I just met with the Principal this week to report more incidents, and suggested that an educational psychologist come in and train teachers how to speak to and respect students – you’d think most would know but not in our experience). It is time for the unions to realize that we are never going to better public education until they just give up archaic systems.

This ruling today is positive and true. I hope that it means we are finally on the right path to improving public education in this state, and even more so in this nation. Maybe in the near future America’s public students will finally be able to compete with those educated in other countries – I think now that such a goal is a light at the end of the tunnel, instead of just a dream.

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Ineffective and Bully Teachers Need to be Fired

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

Those of you who know me or read my blog regularly know how strongly I feel about two issues that effect all of our lives and our communities: bullying and education. I have championed many causes over the years and fought battles in the name of making public education better and raising awareness about bullying in our schools. These battles have been difficult but I try to live up to the notion that change won’t happen unless you make it.

I wanted to write about ineffective teachers, here at the end of the school year, because they hurt us all – our children and families, other children, our schools as a whole, our communities, and the future as well. It is time to stop allowing ineffective teachers and administrators to continue working in the education system.

I will share with you a few personal incidents that really highlight what is going on in our schools…in great neighborhoods! One case: there is a teacher who singles out a student constantly, makes comments about the student under her breath, yells at the student for no reason and is generally mean to the student. The student makes good grades, follows directions and does not get into trouble. Yet this student, who suffers the injustices that the teacher throughout the year, is afraid to do anything because it will jeopardize her grade and make class time more difficult. Another student I know went through the same thing at another school and had to go to counseling because she would come home crying all the time.

There is another teacher who is just downright nasty to many students, making it very clear that she has favorites. If your student is one of the many she does not like, and your student gets put in her class (even if you had a run in with her in the past), you cannot move your student out of her class! This happened to my daughter, and the only way I was able to get her out was to downgrade her from an honors to a regular class. That is ridiculous.

There are teachers at the high school level who tell the students flat out that they don’t care, that they aren’t going to spend time teaching some lessons, and that they are protected from being fired because they have tenure! These teachers speak rudely often and the students can feel their lack of excitement for education on a daily basis…what do you think this says to our students? Yet we wonder why students in the USA are so far behind on many educational levels compared to other nations.

In defense of teachers, I must say that teaching is the most noble profession in my eyes, and always has been. Teachers should be paid more and should be placed on pedastals – other nations do this (like Japan). Teachers should be respected, BUT respect is not automatic, it is earned. The moment you lose the respect of the student body you have placed a noose around your neck.

Why do teachers stay with it if they do not care to influence students? Surely at some time they wanted to teach and be mentors, to help students get excited about teaching. I know there are unions and tenure to protect the rights of teachers, but I say let’s get rid of the ineffective teachers. Let the students and parents and communities decide who deserves to continue teaching. Let’s rate our teachers annually. Let’s let the student body know that it’s ok to file complaints, and that they don’t have to stay in classes if they are subject to verbal abuse or other unfair treatment.

I know this is a fine line, and I know there is room for abuse. But WE SIMPLY HAVE TO MAKE CHANGES TO OUR PUBLIC EDUCATION SYSTEM, and we need to get rid of teachers who bully or do not teach effectively.

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California Needs to Prioritize

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

The economy has created troubling times for many people and institutions, and it is interesting to look at how the states are dealing with these problems. California is no exception, and is trying to help revamp the state budget so it can run more efficiently. What are the biggest problems in our state, and how can they be better handled?

Prisons: There was an article  in the OC Register today about the rising costs of annually housing a prisoner in California – which has doubled in 10 years to $46,700. The majority of this cost comes from health care and security. The article points out that a year at Harvard costs around $50,000.

So what is the state of California doing to help curtail the overcrowded and overly expensive prison system? It is laying off those employed by the system, including those who actually help inmates get to a place where they can re-enter society, such as prison psychologists. The state is also releasing prisoners incarcerated for “lesser” crimes. Surely there is a better way to reform our prison systems…?

I believe our prison system needs to be focused on rehabilitation for the lesser offenders. They need counseling and need to be able to learn how to make a living. The recidivism rate has always been in the high 90th percentile, but we can turn that around if we approach it smartly. The hard core offenders need to do their time – rehabilitation should not be the goal for these prisoners, as they will never reenter society.

Schools. Many of California’s schools are in dire trouble (again). Locally, the Carlsbad Unified School District faces an $11 million shortfall next year. The district has been trying to figure out how to deal with the cut, including sending out a survey to parents asking where we think cuts should come from. Some of the choices included cutting teacher and administration salaries, programs, and shortening the school year or individual school days. Should we even be considering any of these, considering that our children are continuously outperformed by students in other nations? We need to motivate teachers and students, not alienate them.

With a decaying educational system and annual budget cuts, tough choices lay ahead. We need to get rid of tenure, and retain teachers who are excellent educators – not just because they have worked longer. We need annual reviews of teachers and Principals, as well as administrative staff, to make sure they are doing the best job they can. We need smaller class sizes again, to benefit learning. We need to incorporate technology more and bring back electives that teach trades, and provide more options with career counseling. We need to closely monitor student performance and give the districts more authority to set priorities and make decisions, because every area and every school could face different challenges.

There is possibly help on the way, via the Think Long Committee for California. They have some hefty proposals and the ability to infuse money into the system by revamping the state tax system via taxes – many are against this, but we can’t waste any more time arguing about alternatives when there are none presented that will help us achieve our educational goals.

The bottom line is that California, like many other states, needs to prioritize. I am all for raising taxes if it is truly going to benefit our schools. I say this from a non-partisan point of view, with education being the priority. If we turn our education system around chances are down the road it will have an effect on our prison system as well. I know we can do it.

 

 

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