Thursday, April 28, 2011

FWCS FWEA Begin Bargaining Talks

Talks between FWCS administrators and FWEA bargaining teams are on-going. To date, we have had two sessions at Grile, and internal meetings have taken place within each group as needed. No agreements have been reached; however, discussions are still occurring. It is to be hoped that we can reach accord before July 1st, and that is our goal. When there is news to be shared, teachers will be contacted first.

Rumors abound about what will happen because of the new legislation at the state level. Good communication and mutual respect between
FWCS and FWEA are at the forefront of our talks, and we strive to maintain the excellent relationship we have shared in the past.
Your FWEA Bargaining Team

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

RECENT FWEA & ISTA ELECTION RESULTS

Officers Elected for 2011-2013 FWEA Executive Board
Al Jacquay II -President
Matt Mertes - 1st VP
Terrie Taulbee- 2nd VP
Pat Pruitt - 3rd VP
Kim Hunter - Secretary
John Eastes - Treasurer
Julie Hyndman - Negotiations Liaison
Jennifer McDunnough - Elementary Rep
Carissa Richardson - Middle School Rep
Renee Albright - High School Rep
Marlena Mulligan- Special Education Rep

Carolyn Yates - Parliamentarian (appointed position)

Judith Abram-Odigboh - ISTA Minority Affairs State Committee - 2011-2013
Donna Craig - ISTA Governance Committee - 2011-2013
Carolyn Yates - ISTA Board of Directors Minority at Large - 2011-2014

Congratulations to all elected FWEA and ISTA officers.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

7 Solid Reasons to Dislike Public Education Reform

Seven Reasons I Really Dislike Public Education Reform

February 1, 2011


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Dr. Jim Taylor

I am not a fan of the Obama administration’s public education initiatives, including Race to the Top. The programs are, in my view, mislabeled, misdirected, and misguided. Here are my seven reasons to really dislike public education reform:

1 Public education reform is dishonest (though not maliciously so). The reality is that public education is doing just fine in many parts of the country. What reform is really about is educating our disadvantaged youth, who reside mostly in inner cities and the rural South, and closing the achievement gap that exists between the haves and have-nots. This means that a lot of money and unnecessary regulations are being directed to school districts, generally affluent and suburban, that simply don’t need it.

2 More of the same. We’ve devoted decades and billions of dollars to doing more or less the same thing. We must do things dramatically differently rather than continuing to make iterative changes that don’t depart far from the current public-education groupthink.

3 Teaching to the test is the focus. The problem is that teaching to the test doesn’t have much to do with actual education. With the emphasis on reading and math skills aimed at passing the tests, school curricula are narrowed, depriving students of valuable exposure to the arts, physical and social sciences, and humanities. Also, the emphasis on testing sucks the joy out of teaching for teachers and learning for students.

4 Cheating is encouraged. Even the most nobly driven professions, such as teaching, will do what they have to do to survive. And survival in public education means getting the funding dangled like a carrot by our federal government. States are gaming the system by watering down standards. Schools are engaging in attendance and grade fraud. Teachers are giving answers to students on their exams. And students are cheating to get better grades.

5 Teachers are seen as the problem. Yes, there are some bad teachers, but certainly not enough to blame our public education failures on them. The teachers are the people who fight the good fight every day against enormous odds for low pay and even less respect.

6 Local control of curricula. The conventional wisdom is that states and local school boards know what’s best for educating our children. This belief may have been true a half century ago, when people tended to live and work where they were raised. But times have changed. Our mobile society and a global economy have obliterated district, county, and state lines that once had meaning. And local control means curricula that are supported by decades of inertia, groups invested in the status quo (e.g., teachers’ unions, school boards, textbook publishers, testing companies). A national curriculum would mean more consistent education, higher standards, less gaming of the system, and children who are better prepared for the flat world in which they will live.

7 The root cause is missed. Current efforts, such as Race to the Top, assume that the problem is failing schools; if you fix the schools, you fix the students. But failing schools are the symptom, not the problem. The real problem is failing students, who are simply unprepared to succeed when they begin school. Poor children start far behind kids from middle- and upper-income families because they lack the attitudes and basic learning skills necessary for academic success. Any effort to improve these areas once they arrive at school is just a game of catch-up in which the vast majority of these students never catch up. The solution then is to change the environment in which disadvantaged children are raised before they get to school: better child care and preschool, parent education, books in poor homes, a living wage so parents don’t have to work two or more jobs, and safe neighborhoods.

Jim Taylor, Ph.D. in psychology, is an adjunct professor at the University of San Francisco. He blogs on education and technology for psychologytoday.com, huffingtonpost.com, sfgate.com, seattlepi.com, and other Web sites around the country, as well as on http://drjimtaylor.com/ blog/archives/education.

Stop Labeling Teachers, Label the Lawmakers !

Stop labeling teachers, label the lawmakers
By John Kuhn
Apr 14, 2011, 08:39

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Provided by John Kuhn as printed in the Minerals Wells Index


Dear Editor,

The age of accountability should be renamed the age of blame, when teachers wear the scarlet letter for the failings of a nation. We send teachers into pockets of poverty that our leaders can’t or won’t eradicate, and when those teachers fail to work miracles among devastated children, we stamp ‘unacceptable’ on their foreheads.

I ask you, where is the label for the lawmaker whose policies fail to clean up the poorest neighborhoods? Why do we not demand that our leaders make “Adequate Yearly Progress”? We have data about poverty, health care, crime, and drug abuse in every legislative district. We know that those factors directly impact our ability to teach kids. Why have we not established annual targets for our legislators to meet? Why do they not join us beneath these vinyl banners that read “exemplary” in the suburbs and “unacceptable” in the slums?

Let us label lawmakers like we label teachers, and we can eliminate 100 percent of poverty, crime, drug abuse, and preventable illness by 2014! It is easy for elected officials to tell teachers to “Race to the top” when no one has a stopwatch on them! Lace up your sneakers, Senators! Come race with us!

Teachers are surrounded by armchair quarterbacks who won’t lift a finger to help, only to point. Congressmen, come down out of those bleachers and strive with us against the pernicious ravages of poverty. We need more from you than blame. America’s education problem is actually a poverty problem.

If labels fix schools, let us use labels to fix our congresses! Let lawmakers show the courage of a teacher! Hold hands with us and let us march together into the teeth of this blame machine you have built. Let us hold this congressman up against that congressman and compare them just as we compare our schools. Congressmen, do not fear this accountability you have given us. Like us, you will learn to love it.

Or maybe lawmakers do such a wonderful job that we don’t need to hold them accountable?

Did you know that over the next five years, Texas lawmakers will send half a billion dollars to London, to line the pockets of Pearson’s stakeholders. That’s 15,000 teacher salaries, sacrificed at the altar of standardized testing. $500,000,000 for a test! I’m sure it’s a nice test, but it’s just a test. I’ve never seen a test change a kid’s life or dry a kid’s tear. Tests don’t show up at family funerals or junior high basketball games. They don’t chip in to buy a poor girl a prom dress. Only teachers do those things.

If times are desperate enough to slash local schools’ operating funds, then surely they are desperate enough to slash Pearson’s profits. Lawmakers, get your priorities straight. Put a moratorium on testing until we can afford it. Teachers are our treasure – let’s not lose the house just so we can keep our subscription to Pearson’s Test-of-the-Month Club. We have heard Texas senators often talk about the teacher-to-non-teacher ratio in our schools. Lawmakers, they are ALL non-teachers at Pearson. Don’t spend half a billion dollars that we don’t have on some test that is made in England.

Parents are so fed up with standardized testing that hundreds are now refusing to let their children test. They do not want their children run through this terrible punch press. They do not want standardized children. They want exceptional children!

Let me tell you Texas’s other dirty secret – some schools get three times the funding of other schools. Some schools get $12,000 per student, while others get $4,000. Did you know that every single child in Austin is worth $1,000 more than every single child in Fort Worth? Do you agree with that valuation? Congress does. They spend billions to fund this imbalance.

Now the architects of this inequity point at the salaries and staff sizes at the schools they have enriched to justify cuts at schools that have never been given enough. State Sen. Florence Shapiro, of Plano, says, essentially, yes, but we’re cutting the poor schools by less. Senator, you don’t take bread away from people in a soup line! Not even one crumb. And you should not take funds away from schools that you have already underfunded for years. It may be politically right to bring home the bacon, but ain’t right right.

Legislators, take the energy you spend shifting blame and apply it toward fixing the funding mechanisms. We elected you to solve the state’s problems, not merely to blame them on local government. After all, you have mandated local decision-making for years. Your FIRST rating system tells school boards that their district’s administrative cost ratio can be no higher than 0.2 percent. And over 95 percent of school districts in Texas are in compliance with the standard you have set. At my school, our administrative cost ratio is 0.06 percent – so could you please stop blaming me?

If 95 percent of schools are compliant with the administrative cost ratio indicator in the state’s financial rating system for schools, then why are state officials saying we have too much administration? We have the amount of administration they told us to have! Either they gave us bad guidance and we all followed it, or they gave us good guidance and just need someone other than themselves to blame for these cuts.

Is this the best we can do in Texas? I wish they would worry about students half as much as they worry about getting re-elected.

These same senators have a catchy new slogan: “Protect the Classroom.” I ask you, senators: who are we protecting the classroom from? You, that’s who. You are swinging the ax; don’t blame us for bleeding wrong.

They know that their cuts are so drastic that school boards will have no choice but to let teachers go, and I can prove it: while they give press conferences telling superintendents not to fire teachers, at the same time they pass laws making it easier for ... you guessed it ...administrators to fire teachers. Which is it, senators?

If we don’t truly need to cut teachers, then don’t pass the laws that reduce their employment protections. And if we truly do need to cut teachers, then go ahead and pass those laws but quit saying teacher cuts are the superintendents’ fault. Here’s the deal: I can accept cuts, but I cannot do anything but forcefully reject deceit.

Politicians, save your buck-passing for another day. We need leadership. Get to work, congressmen. Do your jobs, and find the revenue to fund my child’s education.

Sincerely,

John Kuhn, father of three, Perrin

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Truth Behind Mitch Daniel's Anti-Education TV Commercials -Thanks to Doug Martin

The Two Indiana Teachers in Mitch Daniels’ Anti-Education TV Commercials: In with the Wrong Crowd
By: Doug Martin Sunday April 17, 2011 7:00 pm

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Besides a State Board of Education member who forged her dissertation, charter studies done by charter supporters, and a Superintendent of Public Instruction whose dissertation disproves everything he is putting into practice, Indiana now has Mitch Daniels’ Aiming Higher PAC running a TV ad (displaying a pronoun-antecedent agreement error, in fact) with a two-year teaching veteran the director of the Gates/Broad funded, anti-education movie Waiting on Superman calls one of the top 10 educators in America.

A Teach for America alumnus and current teacher at Harshman Magnet Middle School in Indianapolis, Pam Heuer boasts that although she raised her students reading scores, she was laid-off from the Indianapolis school district in 2009 because she was the last one hired and not an older, lazy teacher. What often gets deleted from this story when passed on by the anti-education groupies and crooks, however, is that Heuer was rehired by the school district before the next school year even started.

Indeed, terrific-teach Heuer was even invited to the Bill Gates/NBC Education Nation last year, a week of free propaganda and promotion for charter school/voucher/anti-seniority billionaires, where she elbowed with Brian Williams, Arne Duncan, Adrian Fenty, Michelle Rhee, and other haters of knowledge.

A ham in front of the camera, Heuer has made videos for Stand for Children, another Mind Trust/Joyce Foundation funded anti-teacher- seniority group. Besides paying for Stand for Children to invade Indiana, the Joyce Foundation recently footed the bill for the scholarly sloppy study praising Indiana charter schools done by a past Walton Family researcher, Margaret Raymond. To slant the research to favor the charter, Raymond refused to name the specific charter schools included, although not all of them in Indiana were studied.

Another red flag in Aiming Higher’s commercial is Heuer’s history. She was a member of Marian University’s Academy for Teaching and Learning Leadership, the program the Indiana Department of Education awarded a $500,000 grant to turn around failing Indiana schools, even though it wasn’t the most qualified college to initiate the program. Marian University’s president, Daniel Elsener, donated to Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett’s campaign, and was once Bennett’s wife’s boss when she ran Teach for America at the campus. Elsener also sits on the Indiana State Board of Education, which is more of a charter school cheerleader than an educational governing body.

Another Harshman Magnet Middle School teacher, Lanier Echols, guest-appears in the Aiming Higher TV ads, and she, too, comes from Teach for America and was one of the first to graduate from Marian University’s Academy of Teaching and Learning Leadership.

At the academy, Echols’ facilitator was Dr. Charles Schlegel (see middle of this page), who leads the Charter Foundation Academy charter school, which was honored by Tony Bennett in 2010. Ironically, as principal at Wayland Middle School in Massachusetts in 2008, Schlegel violated campaign laws by sending emails through his school address to parents, begging them to support a local property tax increase to help fund the schools. He quickly packed up and headed back to Indiana. Now working with charters whose financial records and shady activities are never questioned but endorsed by Indiana government officials, Schlegel must be happy to be back home.

Charlie’s wife, Mindy Schlegel, is the Senior Advisor for Teacher Quality at the Indiana Department of Education. She also sits on the Board of Directors at the Indianapolis KIPP charter school, along with the Mind Trust’s Claire Fiddian-Green. KIPP Indy ran into a serious problem last year when news broke that a special needs, 11-year-old female student on a field trip to Boston was allegedly sexually assaulted by four males in 2007. A former Teach for America member, Mindy is also involved in the Democrats for Education Reform, a national group of rich hedge fund owners who love charter schools, merit-pay, and even vouchers, who now have unwelcomingly snaked into Indiana.

Echols, Daniels’ new TV star, emotionally testified before the Indiana House Education Committee to support merit-pay based on student testing, claiming she feared becoming a victim of older teachers who might beat her out of a job.

Wrapped in the blanket of this anti-educational cronyism, these two Indiana teachers seem wholly self-absorbed and incapable of knowing that higher test scores don’t mean a damn thing, as researchers like Diane Ravitch and others have noted. Not for the teacher; not for the student. Good teachers walk in their students’ shoes, know how to identify with them, and show the kids that they can be trusted. They know that real learning is a lifetime of trying to understand the un-understandable universe, or as Emerson put it, to see God in the rain puddles. For the anti-education group, learning is merely a money-making, materialist orgy. Those in this mindset don’t know neuroscience from Noah. And stuck there, they sure don’t know anything about living or breathing the quest for learning into another human being.

Maybe Ms. Heuer and Ms. Echols do belong on TV, where the rest of the walking-dead hold fort.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Indiana Vouchers Bill has Passed - Read Diane Ravitch's comments on Vouchers

Posted at 12:04 PM ET, 04/12/2011
Vouchers making a comeback, but why? — Ravitch
By Valerie Strauss
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This was written by education historian Diane Ravitch for her Bridging
Differences blog, which she co-authors with Deborah Meier on the
Education Week website. Ravitch and Meier exchange letters about what
matters most in education. Ravitch, a research professor at New York
University, is the author of the bestselling “The Death and Life of
the Great American School System,” an important critique of the flaws
in the modern school reform movement.

Dear Deborah,

Vouchers are back in the news. Several conservative governors are
pushing them, and Republican members of Congress—in a showdown with
President Barack Obama—have succeeded in restoring funding for the
District of Columbia’s voucher program, which was cut by the previous
Democratic-controlled Congress.

In a post-colonial mood, the House leadership insisted on reviving
funding for vouchers and eliminating funding for abortions, although
the mayor of the District opposed both decisions. Just a few days ago,
Indiana’s legislature endorsed a voucher program, cheered on by Gov.
Mitch Daniels and Michelle Rhee.

The issue is especially interesting in Milwaukee, because its voucher
program is the longest-running in the nation.
Launched in 1998 in response to the low academic performance of
African-American students, the voucher program survived legal
challenges and now serves some 20,000 low-income students in 111
non-public, mainly religious, schools.

Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, hoping to cement his reputation as an
education reformer, wants to remove all income limitations from the
program. His support for the expansion of vouchers and charters is
coupled, however (perhaps I should say, of course) with a proposal to
cut $900 million from the state’s budget for public schools.

The resurgence of vouchers comes at the same time that evidence for
their lack of efficacy grows stronger. Originally, voucher proponents
claimed that vouchers would accomplish two things: first, they would
provide better education for poor children, especially
African-American children, trapped in bad public schools; second,
competition with voucher schools would cause regular public schools to
improve. A rising tide, they said, would lift all boats.

That was the theory, but the reality has been disappointing.

The latest state test scores for Wisconsin revealed that students in
Milwaukee public schools got higher scores than those in the voucher
schools. Among low-income students, those in voucher schools scored
the same as low-income students in the Milwaukee Public Schools. Some
voucher schools did better than the Milwaukee public schools, but most
did no better or worse. But voucher schools do not have as many
high-needs students as the public schools in Milwaukee. According to
state data, only 1.5 percent of voucher students are in special
education, while in the public schools, the figure is about 19
percent.

By coincidence, the University of Arkansas released the fourth-year
portion of its five-year study of the Milwaukee voucher program a day
after the Wisconsin state scores were reported. Once again, the
Arkansas research group, led by Patrick Wolf, found no difference in
test-score performance in reading or math when comparing matched
students from voucher schools and public schools. The voucher students
had slightly higher rates of graduation and college enrollment, but
some part of the difference may relate to their family background,
especially their mothers’ higher levels of education.

Gov. Walker responded to the latest reports by reiterating his
intention to expand the voucher program. He also wants to exempt
voucher schools from their obligation to take the state reading and
math tests. That way no one will know how well or poorly the voucher
students are doing and will certainly relieve the voucher schools of
future embarrassment.

Milwaukee’s 21-year experiment has demonstrated that competition did
not cause all boats to rise. Milwaukee participated for the first time
in the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress.
African-American students in the Milwaukee public schools scored below
their African-American peers in Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana in
both reading and math.

Voucher advocates are unfazed. They no longer claim that vouchers will
close the achievement gap or produce miraculous academic gains for
poor and minority students.

Instead, they now say that choice will increase parental involvement
or that choice is a good in itself or that choice will save money.
That last argument is the one that really moves policymakers in these
tough fiscal times.

Imagine that: voucher schools may not educate kids better, but they
can do the job at half the cost. That’s powerful, and it reveals what
matters most these days: not improving education, not encouraging
creativity and innovation, but cutting costs.

The voucher schools are no silver bullet. They should not be
embarrassed. But our policymakers in Washington and in the statehouses
should be.

Diane

Call Today to Vote NO on 575

SENATE BILL 575

On Wednesday Senate Bill 575 was heard on the floor of the House of Representatives. Multiple amendments were made to the bill.

It is critical that all members contact your House and Senate members immediately. Ask them to VOTE NO ON SB 575!

Here is a breakdown of amendments:

Amendment #55 and Amendment #74 Deficit Financing (Behning-R)
These amendments do not change the overall definition of deficit financing, but still link financing to an employer's actual-year revenue. The amendments do open the definition to include general fund monies and not actual-year revenue.

Amendment #60 Teacher Hours (Behning-R)
This amendment does not reinsert "hours" as being bargainable. The amendment does require that individual teacher contracts include: "The number of hours per day the teacher is expected to work, as discussed pursuant to IC 20-29-6-7." ISTA believes a legal link exists between what is required to be discussed for hours and what language ends up in teacher contracts.


Amendment #64 Appeals (Behning-R)
This amendment added the ability to request the IEERB to engage in fact-finding as it relates to unsettled contracts.The bill included a reorganization of the Indiana Education Employment Relations Board. The reorganization would require new board members to be appointed by the governor. The changes create a loophole for school boards that do not agree with the results of the fact-finding process and will allow school boards to appeal decisions to the IEERB.


Amendment #75 Effective Date (Behning-R)
This amendment moves the effective date back to July 1 with the exception of teacher evaluations that cannot be bargained after passage of the bill. In other words, evaluations cannot be bargained as soon as the governor signs the bill into law—as early as next week.


Amendment #45 Contract Length (Thompson-R)
This amendment dictates that contracts must end on December 31 of the second year of the budget cycle which aligns school contracts with the state’s budget cycle.


Amendment #43 Maintenance (Goodin-D)
This amendment extends the ability of school districts to use capital project funds to pay for utilities and liability insurance for an additional two years.

Amendment #61 Suspensions (Behning-R)
This amendment restores the current law as it relates to suspensions with pay.

Amendment #62 ESP Bargaining (Behning-R)
This amendment limits ESP bargaining to the same restrictions that teachers are subject to in SB 575.

Amendment #56 Paid Time Off (Borders-R)
This amendment allows paid time off to be bargained.

IMMEDIATE ACTION!
Again, it is critical that all members contact their House and Senate members immediately. Ask them to VOTE NO ON SB 575!

Indiana State Senate
800-382-9467 (Toll Free)

Indiana House of Representatives
800-382-9841 (Toll Free)