UPDATED: Champaign teachers' union pickets school board

UPDATED: Champaign teachers' union pickets school board

UPDATED 9:45 p.m. Monday

CHAMPAIGN — Members of the union that represents teachers in the Champaign school district clearly spelled out their hopes with an informational picket Monday evening.

"What do we want? A contract. When do we want it? Now," went a call-and-answer chant of teachers marching around a section of parking lot at the Mellon Administrative Center.

Some teachers carried signs, some as simple as "Fair contract," some more involved such as "Teacher working conditions = student learning conditions."

Their chant was loud enough to be heard in the school board chambers as the board convened for a 5:30 p.m. executive session before the open meeting at 6 p.m.

Champaign Federation of Teachers President Cathy Mannen said the picket was a communication tool, to convey the teachers' desire to settle a fair contract.

Their current contract, which was a one-year extension of the previous three-year contract, expired June 30.

The sides called in a federal mediator for an August bargaining session and one scheduled for 5 p.m. Wednesday.

"The teachers are collectively coming together to communicate with the board of education," Mannen said. "We want a contract that is fair, a contract that reflects the way we work with the kids." She estimated more than 250 participated in the picket. The union represents more than 800 teachers, she said.

"Outstanding issues at this time continue to be salary, scheduling of teacher collaboration time, pension payments and other contract language," Mannen said.

"Last year, we proposed a rollover and a freeze to the salary schedule, due to the economic times," Mannen said in a release. "Now, the board is asking us to accept a second year of below-inflation-level increases and changes in contract language that will negatively impact teachers' working conditions at a time when demands on teachers continue to increase. We think the board can do better."

Also Monday, the union released a timeline of bargaining sessions with the school district:

— Bargaining began April 4, when the school board asked the union to present a one-year proposal because of the uncertain economy.

— The union complied and "presented a very brief proposal at the second bargaining session" on April 17.

— The board responded April 25, "with what the federation found to be a rather lengthy proposal."

— Bargaining teams met again May 21 and June 25, "when the administration requested we attempt mediation."

— The board's first mediation session was Aug. 14.

Mannen said every bargaining session has resulted in progress.

"There's no reason to believe that we won't" make progress in the Wednesday bargaining session with the federal mediator.

"We're a positive group," she said. "It's really just about communication."

School board President Sue Grey said the district and union are still negotiating, and reiterated Mannen's statement that every session has resulted in progress.

"I am very confident that we will come to resolution on this," Grey said, adding that both groups have a mutual respect. "Everyone is working hard to get this resolved."

Mannen said the teachers' strike in the Chicago Public Schools doesn't have much to do with the Champaign union's picket, other than that both involve teachers, who have "taken some hits recently."

"Chicago's issues are different than our issues," Mannen said.

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sacrophyte wrote on September 10, 2012 at 9:09 am

I believe this is the first the public has heard about this, correct? Why is this the first mention? How come none of this was conducted during a board meeting and open to the public?


-- confused

Meg Dickinson wrote on September 10, 2012 at 10:09 am
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From the Illinois Open Meetings Act:

"A public body may hold closed meetings to consider the following subjects: ...

(2) Collective negotiating matters between the public body and its employees or their representatives, or deliberations concerning salary schedules for one or more classes of employees.

CULater wrote on September 10, 2012 at 10:09 am

How convenient that we hear the story the same day of the Chicago teachers strike.

sacrophyte wrote on September 10, 2012 at 10:09 am

But the purpose of a picket is to raise awareness, correct? I did not observe any awareness-raising going on beforehand.


I confess, perhaps I am merely pig-headed about this.


And now, awareness is being raised. :)

jdmac44 wrote on September 10, 2012 at 11:09 am

The real unemployment numbers are 23%, that includes the underemployed and those who've given up looking, these are depression levels.  When one in four people are out of work, no one is under-paid, the demand is low and the supply is high, it's how the world works and to put more pressure on the tax base and overtaxed public budget, the budget from which other public employees are paid, makes no sense at all.  Be happy to be working.

read the DI wrote on September 11, 2012 at 9:09 pm

What a shockingly poor interpretation of the data!

Your statement assumes anyone who is unemployed could be a teacher, which is to say, they have a bachelor's degree (or is a master's now mandatory -- it is in some states), pass a certification exam, and oh yeah, have the patience to put up with your bratty kids for 8 to 10 hours a day.

Oh look, Warren Buffett is retiring. I suppose any one of those 23% of underemployed folks could go take his job instead!

Sid Saltfork wrote on September 10, 2012 at 12:09 pm

With the new law in Illinois making it easier to terminate teachers with tenure, the emphasis is on quality teachers.  More expectations are being placed on teachers.  The majority of unemployed, and under employed are not quality teachers with experience.  The state has not been making pension payments for the teachers.  Now, the state is considering enacting "pension reform" on the teachers.  The public gets what it pays for in terms of quality teachers.  The teachers agreed to not have a raise last year.  Inflation is real for teachers as for everyone else.  The idea that public employees are to work under threat of perfomance evaluations, face pension cuts, and go without raises is absurd.  The public sector receives modest raises.  The teachers should receive modest raises also.  They want the employer pension payments made, and modest raises to keep up with inflation.  It is better money spent than on a baseball field, and tax breaks for business relocations. 

prp wrote on September 10, 2012 at 2:09 pm

Nice synopsis, Sid.

Many people don't realize that when Social Security was enacted, many states' public sector workers were exempted, as those states already had defined benefit pension plans in place, including Illinois.  These pensions are paid in two pieces, at least for downstate teachers.  The state has taken care of one piece, and the employee (or the district employing them, depending on contract language... it matters little as it comes out of the same funds and it all adds up the same) pays the other piece.

The pension "reform" is now looking to move that obligation from the state onto the local district (and employee) without additional state funds to compensate the district.  Many school districts in negotiations are considering language which limit the risk to the district if the amount they have to pay into the underfunded system goes up.

Illinois already funds its schools in a balance already skewed far too heavily on property taxes.  Shifting this burden from the state to the district is going to just make that worse.

db75 wrote on September 10, 2012 at 3:09 pm
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From CNS news:


(CNSNews.com) - Seventy-nine percent of the 8th graders in the Chicago Public Schools are not grade-level proficient in reading, according to the U.S. Department of Education, and 80 percent are not grade-level proficient in math.


Keep up the great work public shool teachers.  Having no kids myself it makes me sick every time I pay property taxes.


Heaven forbid public school teachers go through ANY kind of performance evaluations.

lga wrote on September 10, 2012 at 3:09 pm

Well, that is an unbelievably simplistic view of the situation. How many of those students are second language students? How many of them have moved to 8 different schools in 8 years?

You appear to think yourself an expert, so please tell me this: how do give a performance evlauation to a P.E. teacher? Music teacher? A special ed teacher who takes a 14 year old who was never taught to read and teaches him to read at a third grade level? And base these evaluations on a standardized test?

Teachers aren't against performace evaluations. They are against using students' standardized test scores as performance evaluations.

bluegrass wrote on September 10, 2012 at 10:09 pm

I heard that silly argument today on AM 890 about the performance evaluations for music or P.E. teachers.  Who cares?  First of all, it's a joke that a P.E. teacher and a science teacher would get paid the same in the first place.  I know a P.E. teacher who got a masters at the end of his career, and retired at a much higher salary than he made most of his career.  Was it the smart thing to do on their part?  Absolutetly.  But did that help their students any more?  Did they organize whiffle ball games any better?  Probably not.  Boy, they got paid though.....

If we don't use any standardized testing for students, what measure should we use?  Teachers may not  be against performance evaluations, but their unions most definitely are, and the unions run the show.  One can point to any number of attempts to get it done all over the country, and you'll see the heavily funded and sharp backlash.  Check out the link below that details the top political donors since 1989, and you'll find that the NEA at number 5, and the American Federation of Teachers at number 10.  Add the two together, and you'll see they are number two.  I love all the "corporations are not people" arguments from the left, but you have to dig a little deeper.  If you add together #2 and #6 on the list, AFSCME and the Service Employees Unions, you get the real whopper coming in at #1.  So basically taxpayer funded unions funnelling money to democrats make the #1 and #2 top donor spots since 1989.  Maybe they use some of that money to pay for health care benefits and pensions.



mmemartinez wrote on September 11, 2012 at 9:09 am


In regards to your comment about a P.E. teacher and a science teacher being paid the same, I would say it's absolutely fair. P.E. teachers don't have classrooms or desks, so there is very little to keep class sizes in check. When most academic classes reach room capacity around 25-35, P.E. can go 40+ in a blink of an eye. How well do YOU think you could handle the stress of monitoring 40 plus students, particularly difficult groups like 9th graders, in situations that could cause injury? Day in and day out? 

Also, these P.E. teachers are going through the same evaluations as any other subject teacher and so also have to submit lesson plans, be observed, etc. 

I am not a P.E. teacher but as ANY subject teacher it is frustrating to be judged by someone who has never done the job. 

Teach for a couple years in a public school, especially one in C-U, and get back to me on how ridiculous it is that we want our salaries to keep up with inflation. Be. my. guest.

read the DI wrote on September 11, 2012 at 9:09 pm

The Chicago Public School student to teacher ratio is 42:1.

It's a wonder they get through the roll call each day.

wilsona wrote on September 10, 2012 at 4:09 pm

Just curious why all of these teachers weren't standing shoulder to shoulder with me when I was fighting hard to stop Dr. Howard from being bulldozed.  These teachers all want newer schools, remodels and all that then wonder why we have no money for pay increases?  If they want to see their pay increase, tell them to go check out the new gymnasium at garden hills school.  Because somehow someone decided basketball is more important than education.

prp wrote on September 10, 2012 at 6:09 pm

The money for the recent spate of school construction projects comes from bonds purchased with revenues from the 1% sales tax that passed county wide over 2 years ago.  Champaign and Urbana have seen facilities upgrades because of this.

The law that allows counties to pass this sales tax increase (remember, this increase was voted in by county residents) only allows the money to be spent on facilities.  This money can't be spent on operating expenses, such as teachers' salaries.

So, no, the new gym at Garden Hills is not the reason why teachers receive raises below the rate of inflation.  It is mostly due to cutbacks at the state level, and an underfunded pension system (coupled with a mandate passed in Edgar's administration that has repayment escallating in this and upcoming years) that is causing the state to cut more / threaten to push pension costs back onto local districts (and property taxpayers).

wilsona wrote on September 10, 2012 at 6:09 pm

That's funny.  I almost said in my original post that I hope people didn't try to say that the money for facilities was from a different pool of money.  I guess I should have, but this gives us all an opportunity to see the spin doctors at work.  You can spin it any way you want, but teachers supported the additional tax to be used for facilities.  We all only have so much money in our pockets in our community.  I you take money from us for one thing, don't go back to the trough expecting there to be plenty of money left.  Spin it any way you want, but taxes are taxes are taxes.  If the teachers wanted raises, they should have been out picketing to stop the tax increase for new facilities and requesting a tax increase for raises instead.

Sid Saltfork wrote on September 10, 2012 at 9:09 pm

It would seem based on the comments that not many of us were blessed with good teachers.  They appear to be expendable now.  If Johnny, or Susie does not receive homework assistance at home; blame their poor academic performance on the teachers.  If property taxes might go up; deny any raises to the teachers.  Although, they pay taxes also.  They have to buy an automobile once in a while.  They have kids to clothe, and feed.  Based on the comments, it would appear that the teachers should work only for their dedication.  Seems that they are the majority of a small population dedicated to the education of tomarrow's citizens, and workers. 

45solte wrote on September 10, 2012 at 11:09 pm

They also teach social justice in our schools. They should be happy to spread their wealth around. 

mmemartinez wrote on September 11, 2012 at 9:09 am

Social justice means treating everyone with respect regardless of who they are, where they're from, etc. and understanding the challenges that each person faces on a daily basis because of who they are. Why is this a bad thing and what do you think it has to do with wealth?

read the DI wrote on September 11, 2012 at 9:09 pm

Heavens, you are way off.

Capital expenditures and salaries are completely unrelated.

What IS related, however, is that good schools = higher property values.

wilsona wrote on September 10, 2012 at 10:09 pm

If you're referring to my comments then you are seriously not getting my point at all.  I think the teachers that dedicate themselves to our children should be well taken care of.  I am just tired of our school district wasting money on new facilities that aren't necessary.  We don't need the most beautiful gymnasium in order to prepare our kids for the future.  I was blessed with great teachers at Columbia, Franklin and Central.  None of these schools were bright and shiny when I attended them.  The teachers, however, were quite dedicated.  Whenever some new referendum comes up in order to build new schools, gymnasiums, etc. the teachers are at all of the PTA meetings and in the media trying to convince the taxpayers to vote for these expenditures.  We have a limited amount of money available, if we max out the credit card(taxpayers available funds) on new shiny toys, when we try to use that credit card later to increase salaries, it might get declined.  These teachers and administrators don't seem to get it.  There isn't some unlimited pool of money just sitting out there that we can keep dipping into.  Stop wasting my money so we can give you the raises you deserve if you actually deserve them.  On a side note, if you're the type of teacher that's in it for the money and not solely for the kids, then leave my school district so we can use the limited resources we have available for teachers that deserve the money.  I'm not implying that all of the teachers are like this, but in every group of people on Earth, there are good apples and bad apples....Even within the teachers union, believe it or not.

mmemartinez wrote on September 11, 2012 at 9:09 am

Building funds come from a different pot of money than staffing funds. This is why we can have nice new buildings/gyms but not enough money for teachers. So your credit card analogy doesn't work. It is IMPOSSIBLE to pay teachers out of funds reserved for buildings and maitenance. Try again.


As a teacher I can say we support these measures in part because we, and our students, enjoy not sweltering in 90+ degree heat while teaching and learning, and also in part because we don't want to get sick from poor air quality or have it trigger little ones' asthma, or because space is limited and packing all the students into a too-small gym is a hazard. But I guess we could hold off on all that and wait until someone gets seriously injured, and use the money we saved to pay out for a lawsuit. That would work too.

wilsona wrote on September 11, 2012 at 1:09 pm

Ok.  I'll try to explain it again since you are having trouble understanding.  I understand that the way the money was obtained made it impossible to use for anything other than facilities.  What you fail to understand is that ultimately all of the money does come from the same pool. I am a tax payer and if you've already asked us tax payers for cash in the form of an increased sales tax, we're going to be a bit reluctant to want to now go back and figure out a way to pay for your salary increases.  Our wallets are running dry(hence the credit card analogy).  You chose to support the earlier tax increase before attempting to get a raise.  That's a lack of foresight on your part.  Once there are no more tax dollars to be had, do you suggest we rob banks to pay you?  Where is the money supposed to come from?  I believe you're the one that doesn't get it.  I'm ok with teachers getting pay increases, but you've already spent my money no matter where you think it comes from.  It's still from my wallet.

mmemartinez wrote on September 11, 2012 at 1:09 pm

Teachers pay taxes too. Interesting how that works...everyone contributes towards the greater good. I guess your answer is that we either get a fair wage OR we get a safe work environment. Not both. I wonder what is best for the students, too? Underpaid, overworked teachers? Overcrowded rooms? Broken desks, chairs? There is also plenty I contribute to my classes out of my own pocket, or that I obtain by taking extra time out of my day to write donation requests or grants. Almost all of my classroom resources and expensive materials (i.e. projector) have been donated, they did not come from you.

The students I teach become part of YOUR society. Why would you want them to not be properly educated and in a safe environment to boot? You claim to respect teachers but clearly you do not.

I have an exact understanding of how taxes work and where the money comes from. It seems you understand too, but do not like the fact that things cost money, thus you have to pay taxes. Don't like having taxes? There are several other countries you can choose to live in. Let me know how that works out for you.

wilsona wrote on September 11, 2012 at 3:09 pm

Why bother with the emotional debate?  I hope you have a chance to sit down with a math teacher.  This is all simple math that has nothing to do with wants or emotions or any of that.  You have a certain amount of money available to you.  That is a fact.  If that money runs out, it's gone.  No amount of playing the shell game and pretending tax dollars aren't tax dollars is going to change that.  Do I care about my society?  Of course I do, but that has nothing to do with how much money is available.  You chose which was more important....teacher salaries or new buildings.  I went to school in those nasty old sweltering hot buildings and somehow I didn't become a criminal.  I didn't mention chairs or equipment in classrooms either.  I mentioned gymnasiums that cost millions of dollars that we don't have.  I know talking anout classroom supplies makes it a more emotional debate, but save that for aomeone that doesnt want you to have supplies.  Now if you want to play the emotional game, ask yoursel one thing.  If a group of people have money in their pockets to pay their bills and that money gets continuously taken out of their pockets in the form of taxes an they have nothing left, is there a possibility those people may go to desperate lengths to keep their homes and fed their families?  Maybe even commit crimes?  The argument can go either way.  You can talk about students becoming criminals because of a lack of pretty new buildings(if you acknowledge the fact that I never said teachers shouldn't get raises) or I could argue that people with no money can become criminals.  Doesn't matter, though, since that's not the debate.  The debate is whether or not there's still plenty of money available after the teachers pushed so hard to build new facilities.  Answer that simple question and don't waste my time talking about where the money came from.  It came from all of us and now it's no longer available.  It's not available from my pocket or from yours as a teacher....well...it will be available for yours if you get a raise.  It's a shame that the raise you will get won't be 100% funded by the people getting the raises.  The majority of the money(unless you're in a tax bracket of 50% or more) will come from those that aren't getting a raise and are suffering financially right now.  Perhaps we should have voted on whether we should build new gymnasiums or give raises.  I know what my vote would have been.  What would you have picked?  I bet I can guess.  Don't give me the overcrowding argument either.  There are these really neat portable classrooms that can be purchased or rented to solve that problem without being forced to spend all of the money that should have been used to support our hard working teachers.  You see?  I love teachers and you seem to be one, so we should be on the same side.  The problem is that the teachers here seem to be like sheep and if the administration or unions or whatever tell them they deserve new buildings, they go out there like robots and push that agenda not realizing the impact it may have later down the road.  The buildings look great, but they weren't more important than having great teachers.

mmemartinez wrote on September 11, 2012 at 9:09 am

. repost

Sid Saltfork wrote on September 11, 2012 at 10:09 am

That is redundant.

illini_trucker wrote on September 11, 2012 at 11:09 am

Well heck, teachers are the most underpaid. If ever there was a union to be agreed with, it's the teachers union. And I really overall HATE unions!! If ya take a look at it, teachers are not that far off from minimum wage. Considering the 1000's of pages of regulation they have to maintain ON TOP OF basic college requirements, teaching should easily be a job that pays 60k+ a year. The government always puts standards and regulations on America in general, yet provides no means by which to abide by those regulations. Take trucking for example. There are literally thousands upon thousands of trucks on our highways each and every day. A very high portion of those truckers have their beds attached to their truck. Of course they need sleep. The government mandates a 10 hour rest break. Even though they park there anyway, y'all ever see a truck on an interstate exit ramp all night? That's his sleep and life. The govt provides rest areas. How many trucks does it hold?? 25 if your lucky!! Oh wait, it gets better! Anyone else notice how all these rest areas keep CLOSING???? Proof that government regulation keeps shooting its own America in the foot! What would happen if all the truck stops which are PRIVATE BUSINESSES decided to close their doors?? Same thing with teachers. It's gonna get so tough the they are gonna be regulated out of business... And next to minimum wage is a GREAT start to America shooting itself in the foot... Again and again!!

read the DI wrote on September 11, 2012 at 9:09 pm

Way to hijack the conversation with a completely off-topic rant.

alabaster jones 71 wrote on September 12, 2012 at 9:09 am
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When you get right down to it, teachers and teacher unions are just two more groups of self-entitled whiners looking out for themselves first and foremost.  Of course, complaining taxpayers fit the exact same description, but at least they don't dress up their outrage with claims of "we're doing it for the kids."

Yep, that's the first motivation of teachers and teacher unions in all these labor disputes, right?  What if a bunch of evidence came out that many kids learn better on computers than via a traditional classroom setting, and a plan came out to cut teachers and give students more time learning on the computer?  The teachers and their unions would support that plan, right?  After all, the teachers are all about what's best for the students and not themselves...right?

I went to Unit 4 schools K-12.  Several of my teachers were outstanding educators who deserved much more than they likely made.  Sadly, many more of them were fairly lazy, didn't really make any meaningful attempt to connect with students, and pretty much coasted.  Not surprisingly, the lousy teachers were usually the older ones with more tenure and more job security.  I can't think of that many teachers I had who I can honestly say deserved to be paid more than, let's say, 35 or 40 K.

I know that throwing more money at the problem, instead of addressing the uncomfortable but unavoidable fundamental roots of the problem, is the solution to everything for some people.  However, underpaid teachers are pretty low on the totem pole in terms of serious shortcomings within our education system.  Throwing more money to teachers and to schools is not going to fix everything, or even anything, when it comes to our education system, which is a joke on so many levels compared to most other First World nations.

However, all this being said, praise to Unit 4 teachers for organizing a picket instead of derelicting their duties at the expense of their students like their colleagues in Chicago.

read the DI wrote on September 12, 2012 at 11:09 am

Heavens, you really have a dim view of the perfectly legal attempts for a perfectly legal organization to negotiate.  What other constitutional rights do you wish not to grant?

Sid Saltfork wrote on September 12, 2012 at 12:09 pm

Last night on the PBS Newshour, there was a discussion regarding the Chicago teachers strike.  The paramount issue was teacher evaluations.  The teachers are wanting a more comprehensive, and fair way of evaluating teacher performance.  Test scores have been the common way of evaluating teachers.  Teachers are not surrogate parents.  The students who have no parental encouragement, or homework support receive low test scores.  This has been blamed on the teachers.  A system of evaluating the level of the student entering, and exiting a grade level besides test scores gives a true indication of the teachers performance.  The Illinois Legislature passed a new law making it easier for teachers to be terminated including those with tenure.  However, no consideration was fully paid to the evaluation of teachers.  In years gone by; it was not uncommon for a school district to hire new teachers, and dismiss them for no given reason when they approached tenure with a pay raise.  Now; teachers are being faced with the uncertain future of being terminated because Johnny, and Susie spend more time on other activities than their educational responsibilities.  Taxpayers complain about the cost of education; but they should realize that the parents of the students bear the majority of the blame.

alabaster jones 71 wrote on September 12, 2012 at 12:09 pm
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read the DI, I missed the part where I said that they shouldn't be permitted to do so.  Could you point it out to me?

I'm just calling out self-interest disguised as concern for the welfare of students.  The teachers in Chicago should continue to negotiate while they perform their jobs, as opposed to abandoning their students.

Look, I'm not saying that teachers and teachers unions are "bad" or that they don't have reasonable gripes.  I'm saying that they are like just about every other organized substrata of humanity...they look out for themselves first and foremost, they push and twist so they can get as much as they can in return out of a conflict, and they make excuses for their own shortcomings if threatened.  Everyone has to watch out for their own interests, you can't rely on someone else to do it for you.  Unlike some folks, I'm just not willing to crown teachers as saints and give them whatever their unions want just because they have an important and difficult job.  I feel a lot worse for the mostly low-income parents in Chicago who have to take time off from--or perhaps be fired from--their hourly wage job so they can watch out for their kid who isn't in school than I do for a teacher who doesn't think a 15% percent raise is enough or that evaluations are unjust.

I think we should invest a lot more in education, and that includes paying good teachers what they deserve, but it has to be done in conjunction with top-to-bottom systematic reform of our approach to education.  If that includes some sacrifices that teachers and their unions don't want to make, we need to be able to tell them:  we understand your frustration, but tough luck.  It's about the kids learning, not about you.

Sid Saltfork wrote on September 12, 2012 at 3:09 pm

alabaster;  I agree with you on the raises.  The 15%, or 16% as reported last night, seems excessive at this time.  However, I disagree with you on the evaluations.  It should be noted that the negotiations started months ago.  The raise issue was settled well before the strike. The strike resulted because of the evaluation criteria, and the pension payments by the City of Chicago.  The truely sad thing is that in Illinois negotiations can start well in advance of the start of school, and continue until the end of school the following year.  It is about the kids; but it is about people trying to defend their jobs also.  The politicians play to the crowd.  This is the first teacher strike in Chicago in 25 years.  This is not an annual event as elsewhere.  If the state, and the country wants quality education for it's young; there should be a comprehensive plan with money for students needs, facilities, and teachers.  Any young person attending college with plans to become a teacher should re-examine their goal.  Unless your independently wealthy, teaching no longer allows for a middle class life and retirement.  Within ten years, the country will be crying for teachers.  By that time, teaching will be contracted out to educational corporations.  That might not be a bad idea; but you get what you pay for in the end.

alabaster jones 71 wrote on September 14, 2012 at 10:09 am
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Actually, Sid, I think we agree on evaluations.  I think that standardized testing is a pretty awful way to judge teacher performance for the reasons you mentioned, and I also think that it is a faulty method of judging student performance.

As I remember, standardized tests were as much about time management as they were about your knowledge of the material.  Standardized tests that have high stakes for either the student, the teacher, or both should have no time limit, or at least a more reasonable one.  I remember that I often underperformed on them even though I knew most of the material, simply because I was a slow and deliberate test taker and I couldn't get through all the questions before time expired.

Indeed, the whole idea of statistically judging teacher or student performance seems like an attempt to quantify the unquantifiable.  If Ms. Brown has 20 smart hard-working kids who do better on their tests than Mr. Green's 20 dumb lazy kids, that doesn't necessarily mean Ms. Brown is the better teacher.   I think that periodic classroom evaluations by monitors and evaluations filled out by students could be as useful a tool as any to gauge teacher performance.

read the DI wrote on September 12, 2012 at 4:09 pm

Here's what you wrote: "teachers and teacher unions are just two more groups of self-entitled whiners looking out for themselves first and foremost.  Of course, complaining taxpayers fit the exact same description, but at least they don't dress up their outrage with claims of "we're doing it for the kids." ...

"If that includes some sacrifices that teachers and their unions don't want to make, we need to be able to tell them:  we understand your frustration, but tough luck."

Here's my response: Tough luck for you. They can do that because the law allows them to. You don't like it, change the law.


Good luck.


Bulldogmojo wrote on September 12, 2012 at 3:09 pm

I hear a lot of blame put on teachers over the last few years and how they don't measure up in a broad assortment of ways but, if your kid doesn't measure up academically it means you have failed your child as a parent. A parent's involvement in their own child's education is critical for their learning and interest in education.

How does the old adage go...Johnny is in high school but he can't read?

You live in the same house as Johnny so why are you asking the teacher?

Sid Saltfork wrote on September 12, 2012 at 7:09 pm

Bulldogmojo;  Well said.  Your right.  Throughout our nation's history; wave after wave of immigrant groups pushed their kids to achieve academically.  After a few generations, their descendents become educationally lazy.  Blaming the teacher is the lazy way out.

read the DI wrote on September 12, 2012 at 7:09 pm

Actually, today's kids are far more educated that those of 50 or 100 years ago. It's not really even close.

Bulldogmojo wrote on September 13, 2012 at 12:09 pm

That's true generally speaking if you are white and middle class. We're no longer in a predominantly agrarian society so the comparison of 50 to 100 years ago is the wrong comparison. We need to compare ourselves to the rest of the developed world in academic progress and then the picture looks pretty bleak.

We homeschool our son, not because of a lack of faith in teachers or schools it's just a choice we made and I see firsthand how family involvement in education regardless of the choice of private, public, or homeschool really matters. <?xml:namespace prefix = o />

read the DI wrote on September 14, 2012 at 1:09 pm

"We need to compare ourselves to the rest of the developed world in academic progress and then the picture looks pretty bleak."


That might be true, but it does not explain why the rest of the world sends its students to our colleges, rather than the other way around.

Sid Saltfork wrote on September 14, 2012 at 11:09 pm

read the DI;  I do not disagree with you regarding U.S. colleges.  However; there is a disparity between the number of students who attend college, and those who do not.  The middle class is shrinking.  A college education is reversing back to when only the well to do could obtain a post-secondary degree.  Even with financial aid which is becoming limited, the majority of high school graduates cannot handle college level courses without remedial assistance.

You support the teachers right to collectively bargain as I do.  The strike will be over by next week.  The problems will not go away though.  Only until parents, administrators, taxpayers, teachers, and most importantly the students work together will the problems be solved.  It all comes down to money, and motivation.  The public swallows the anit-union propaganda that portrays teachers as insensitive, greedy, and expendable.  The public howls when property taxes go up for public schools; but they fail to see that property values go up also.  Who stirs up the public howl, and pays taxes also?

Bulldogmojo wrote on September 14, 2012 at 11:09 pm

Exactly my point the H1B "genius visa" international students come here and contribute to silicon valley and most science development and then they turn around and go home and leave us with this statistical educational deficit and take our education back to their countries and develop countries like China and India. Michio Kaku explains it a bit better...


read the DI wrote on September 15, 2012 at 8:09 am

You seem to be confusing H1 worker visas with F1 student visas.

Sid Saltfork wrote on September 13, 2012 at 11:09 am

In what subjects?  Are they able to identify answers without the assistance of electronic devices?  Are they more knowledgeable in geography, history, math, writing, and the sciences without artificial assistance?  You maybe right; but based on my day to day interactions with young people, they do not seem to do well.  They cannot make change without a computerized register.  They cannot identify the location of foriegn countries.  They are unable to grasp a chronology of history.  I cannot read their hand written comments.  I am not disputing your response.  You maybe right.

Dogchakra wrote on September 13, 2012 at 2:09 pm

It's hard to teach history and writing when the administration fights you every step of the way. The U.S. school system in general doesn't give a crap about history, social studies, or writing. It's sad.

Dogchakra wrote on September 13, 2012 at 2:09 pm

That being said, there is an article on this very website about a Unit 4 Social Studies teacher who is nominated for Illinois teacher of the year. Not her first award either. Who would of thought? And I thought Unit 4 teachers were lazy whiners....

dw wrote on September 15, 2012 at 3:09 am


Most that know me regardless of their age would be ROFLTAO'ing snickering "Hey there Mr. Pot, Ms. Kettle over there sure iz a wee bit scorched, ain't she?"... and normally I would squelch the impulse to go grammar nazi, but given that this post is complaining about the lack of ability to properly use the English language, Sid Saltfork the phone is ringing, it's the pot asking to speak to you:

First, it's spelled "foreign" not "foriegn" -- that word has given me so much grief myself I've just given up and started pronouncing it  "fore" (as in golf warning cry) and "i-g-n" in my head to helps me 'member it.  BUT if you were to use one of those new fangled artificial assistance word processor devices before you scribble in the N-G's brain-dead forum editor (copy-n-paste works brilliantly), it'll catch basic spelling errors by underlining them in red, much as your teacher did back in the day.

But don't be afraid that your good old teacher is out of a job, because more complex errors and misspellings still need to be picked up by a human, though some of those gosh durn devices do grammar checking too:

Something is handwritten, not hand written.

And you may be right.  Maybe.  But not in how you used the word maybe.  Maybe is an adjective, a synonym of "perhaps", not a verb as you used in the sentence "You maybe right" -- http://howtosayit.blogspot.com/2007/06/maybe-vs-maybe.html

You tempted fate playing with "The most feared punctuation on earth" and as they say "You mess with the bull, you get the horns" -- you incorrectly used the conjunction "but" with a semicolon -- http://theoatmeal.com/comics/semicolon

These are errors that I, a publicly and well-known to be redneck butcher of the English language, caught; I shudder to think of what a true grammarian would find (especially in my own post).  Because of my own ineptitude in spelling and grammar had it been any post other than one grousing about how poorly the young are educated I'd have kept my peace and not written my piece.  But the call of the siren of irony late at night was too strong to ignore.

But Who knows? Perhaps the kids are alright.  Maybe.  Regardless you better you better you bet you durn kids better stay off my lawn...

LOL, H2H, idk.  (and yeah, I copied and pasted this several times to spell check it, but I'm sure there are errors anyway... I've always been guilty of bringing home too many commas and have never met an ellipsis -- or an em dash -- I didn't like...)

Sid Saltfork wrote on September 15, 2012 at 8:09 am

dw;  Thank you.  I graduated with my degree 43 years ago.  I do need a tune up on grammar. I do not use spell check either.  Thanks again for pointing out my errors publically.  I will attempt to not be intimidated in expressing my thoughts.  I will try to do better. 

Now, what are your thoughts about the Champaign teachers picket?

Dogchakra wrote on September 16, 2012 at 10:09 am

Nice trolling, AggieCPA. You ever taught 30+ kids at once? In 100 degree heat? Tenure doesn't protect you if you are a genuinely s**tty teacher. You talk about cush pensions. Pensions that the teachers pay into EVERY paycheck while the state does not. They might not even see those pensions and they don't have S.S. either. Summers off? Most teachers bust their butts over the summer working on certifications (so that YOUR children have a more qualified teacher), lesson plans, and/or even second jobs to suppliment their pay. You don't think that teaching is a "real world" job? I DARE you to try it. I bet it would bring you to your knees. ALSO: "White Christians" have had the majority of the respect forever. Now YOU whine when somebody who's not like you demands a modicum of that respect. Nice. And what does your comment about rain in Timbuktu even mean? Is that supposed to be an insult?

mmemartinez wrote on September 16, 2012 at 10:09 pm