A Question For North Carolinians About Public Education That Needs Answering

No really. It’s not rhetorical.

It is in an article written by Dana Goldstein, who is an educational journalist for the The New York Times.

The title of the article proposes the very question that lawmakers like Phil Berger and Tim Moore need to answer. Considering they spearheaded a budget approved through a nuclear option, held lots of special sessions, and spun enough rhetoric to fill a composition course, it would be nice to hear what they have to say that would not need to be debunked immediately.

The question needs to be answered by voters who endorsed an amendment to cap income taxes.

The question needs to be answered in part by all North Carolinians as each person is somehow, someway a stakeholder in public education.

And before someone says, “Well look at the elections and the fact that we did vote for that income tax cap!” consider the seats gained by pro-public education candidates in the General Assembly that resulted in the breaking of the supermajority in both chambers of the NCGA.

Consider the many incumbents who championed privatizing efforts in public education who lost their re-election bids.

NYT

Dana Goldstein also is the author of a rather good book on the teaching profession and its history in the country. It is called The Teacher Wars.

teacher wars

This book is very much worth the read. I wrote a review of it last year for EdNC.org saying:

“The Teacher Wars offers a rather comprehensive foundation in learning about the modern public education system in an unintimidating fashion. It adds a tremendous amount of texture to anyone’s understanding of schools and thoroughly explores the countless facets of the largest public service offered by any state government.

Whether one agrees with her conclusions is certainly up for debate, but one would be much more educated about public education to have that debate with Goldstein’s book. It is detached from opinion where needs be and offers erudite opinions without dominating.

In short, it teaches well.

And it is very relevant to North Carolina.

As is that question: “Voters Widely Support Public Schools. So Why Is It So Hard to Pay for Them?”

 

Rep. Tim Moore Literally Just Proved That We Should Pay Teachers Much More (Pun Intended)

“North Carolina’s teacher income is rising faster than any other state.” — Tim Moore on Monday, February 20th, 2017 in in social media posts and a press release.

 

Around the same time that Moore made that comment, this was reported.

“The average salary for a North Carolina teacher has increased to more than $50,000 a year for the first time.

Recently released figures from the state Department of Public Instruction put the average salary for a North Carolina public school teacher at $51,214 this school year. That’s $1,245 more than the previous school year.

The $50,000 benchmark has been a major symbolic milestone, with Republican candidates having campaigned in 2016 about how that figure had already been reached. Democrats argued that the $50,000 mark hadn’t been reached yet and that Republicans hadn’t done enough, especially for highly experienced teachers.

The average teacher salary has risen 12 percent over the past five years, from $45,737 a year. Since taking control of the state legislature in 2011, Republicans raised the starting base salary for new teachers to $35,000 and gave raises to other teachers (http://www.journalnow.com/news/state_region/n-c-teachers-are-now-averaging-more-than-a-year/article_e3fe232c-1332-5f6e-89e5-de7c428436fb.html ).

DPI was counting all of the veteran teachers’ current salaries in that figure. The very people whose salaries simply disgusted the former governor and the General Assembly (led in part by Tim Moore) to the point that they had to take measures to “lower” them are actually being used to tout this new wonderful “average.” Furthermore, this average is counting on local supplements. This comes in the face of budgets that are allocating less money to each central office of each school system for administrative costs. Now each county has to raise more money to actually offset those costs and also allow for local supplements. And not all localities provide the same supplements.

Plus, those LEA’s will have to do something in the next few years to raise even more money to meet the requirements of the delayed class size mandate.

Any veteran teacher who is making above 50K based on seniority, graduate pay, and national boards are gladly counted in this figure. It simply drives up the CURRENT average pay. But when these veteran teachers who have seniority, graduate pay, and possibly national certification retire (and many are doing that early at 25 years), then the very people who seem to be a “burden” on the educational budget leave the system.

So how is Tim Moore making an argument to seismically raise teacher salaries?

Through his actions.

moore

From WBTV this week:

“A part-time employee in the office of House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) has drawn a taxpayer-funded check since April but there’s little evidence to show that he’s done any work.
Dr. Allen Queen was hired as a part-time policy adviser in the Speaker’s Office in early April. Publicly available personnel information reviewed by WBTV shows he was hired at an hourly rate of $63.48 to work a total of 21 hours per week.
Queen, a retired teacher and education professor at UNC Charlotte who lives in Moore’s hometown of Kings Mountain, was hired to advise Moore and other state representatives on education issues.
WBTV began investigating the nature of Queen’s employment in the Speaker’s Office after multiple high-placed Republican sources raised questions regarding his work.
Public records—including emails and minutes from legislative committee meetings—show a very faint paper trail documenting Queen’s work since coming on the job.”

 

$63.48 an hour for no real accountability and averaging 20 hours a week to be an educational adviser while having another paid job?

Imagine how many teachers who do more work in “education” on weekly basis than this adviser has shown have to have another job to makes ends meet.

Most teachers have twenty hours of solid work done in less than two days and are so closely monitored by accountability measures championed by people like Tim Moore but will spend years just to get to a point where they make over 50K in a year. Just look at the 2017 salary schedule.

pay

So what has this educational adviser really done?

No idea.

Reading Craig Horn’s description and explanation of what Dr. Queen has done and is doing makes the situation even more amorphous. The investigation into finding actual work with Dr. Queen’s input on it also shows how fishy this situation is. No evidence seems to have turned up.

WBTV reviewed meeting minutes—which include a sign-in sheet for those in the audience and lists of lawmakers and staff present—for the House Education Committee on K-12 Education and on Higher education. There is no record of Queen attending meetings for either committee.

Similarly, WBTV reviewing attendance records for three task-forces of the House Committee on School Safety. There were five task force meetings for which attendance records were kept in the time since Queen was hired in April through the start of the legislative session in May.

 

Interestingly enough, what this seems to prove in this teacher’s eyes is that if you want to make more money in service to Raleigh, then do less. And the converse seems to be true as well because teachers show this at all time – if you want to make less, then do more.

Because teachers in this state are having to do more with less.

And after Moore explains why his educational adviser is being paid so much for apparently little work, then maybe he can explain this.

moore2

That is after he gets done with this special session to craft legislation around the Voter ID law in which no one seems to have a price tag for.

 

 

 

 

Again, Why Do We Have Exams After The Winter Break? Change The Calendar!

There seems to be something amiss when your high school’s football team plays two home games before students even attend their first class. Why? Because we start school too late in North Carolina.

As it stands right now, a special provision in the budget bill in the 2012 legislative session (Senate Bill 187, Session Law 2012-145) amended the law on school calendars to require:

“1. Start date no earlier than the Monday closest to August 26 and end date no later than the Friday closest to June 11 (unless a weather related calendar waiver has been approved, year-round school, charter school or cooperative innovative high school.) If waiver is approved the start date can be no earlier than the Monday closest to August 19.”

The same bill also designates a certain number of workdays and annual leave, and holidays that must be observed.

calendar

This is not a good standard to have. North Carolina should allow schools to start early enough to end the first semester before the ubiquitous winter break.

With such an emphasis on test scores and “student achievement” as measured by those same scores, it would make sense to allow the first semester to actually end with exams taken before the winter break. As it stands now, most students in traditional public schools in the state do not take exams for block classes until after the winter break, a time period which generally lasts two weeks.

Some may argue that that is only a two week hiatus, but actually it is longer than that, and it creates an intellectual and mental lapse that affects student scores and ultimately how schools are measured.

Students tend to get excited for the winter break as many look forward to Christmas and other holidays. Commercially speaking, most students are bombarded with other stimuli. Yet, when school reconvenes for the first semester exams, the state and county systems have to create a testing window so that all required stipulations are followed.

Ironically, a whole new year starts on the calendar, but students and teachers are still stuck in the fall semester. Tax forms and W-2’s are being put together because the tax cycle ended. Students are still working on second quarter grades.

With end-of-course tests, state tests, and teacher made exams plus required makeup sessions built in, many public schools are forced to have at least seven (often more) days of testing to accommodate the laws. Add in that a day or two that students need to reacquaint themselves with school. They are coming off a break and thrown straight into a frenzy of testing and have minimal contact with teachers who need review time for exams. Also, consider the holiday for Martin Luther King Jr.’s observed birthday and students are a little more scattered than usual.

On a block schedule (A/B day), this means that for over four weeks of time (holidays and exam schedule combined), a teacher may see his or her students for maybe the equivalent of three class periods. For true block classes that usually have those state exams used to rate schools, that means teachers see their students for maybe five class periods during that same frame.

In a regular four week A/B schedule time period, a teacher usually engages a class for at least 10 class periods. A true block class, at least 20.

This schedule affects the test scores of my students.

So what should happen? Well, schools should start earlier in August to allow for the exam period for the first semester to end before the winter break. Rumor has it that the tourism industry in North Carolina lobbied very hard for schools to start after the “summer” vacation season. That seems profit driven and North Carolina needs to do a lot more than change school calendars to help with its image for tourists.

If you ever teach in high schools, you will see that students actually go on “summer” mode starting in May, when the weather changes and spring sports come to an end. Spring fever is a real thing in schools. When the weather warms, the students become more prone to want to be elsewhere than a classroom.

It seems that changing the calendar for the school year to allow students to finish at the end of May and start toward the first of August gives them a better chance to perform well on the very tests that the very people who dictate school calendars measure those very same students by.

It’s logical. Colleges and universities already do it. Why can’t North Carolina high schools do it?

Besides, it just seems weird to have two football games before you even crack a book for class.

About That List of “Accomplishments” – State Superintendent Johnson’s Misleading Missive

Below is a letter and additional page of “accomplishments” that State Superintendent Mark released at the beginning of this school year. While the letter is innocuous in and of itself, it is the list of accomplishments that really needs to be viewed.

Here is an electronic copy.

IMG_7119IMG_7120

Those “accomplishments” include:

  1. Charter-like flexibility for an Entire School District (and possibly a plan to do the same throughout the state). This is in reference to the Rowan-Salisbury school district that in the span of one summer transformed into a charter laboratory.
  2. Addressing School Construction Needs in the Urban/Rural Divide. This is touting the $240 million in lottery funds to help build new structures in rural areas.
  3. Innovations for K-12 Education. This is a plug for the test reduction initiative and the student mental health programs.
  4. Management of the Department Of Public Instruction. Budget, budget. Don’t forget it has been slashed over %20 within the past biennial budget.

However, those really are not accomplishments per se; they are more like a list of actions that taken at face-value may seem relatively positive, but in reality are shortcomings.

Why? Because this spun list tries to hide what COULD HAVE HAPPENED!

Go back to that list of “accomplishments” and then consider the following information.

1. Rowan-Salisbury Schools became a “charter district” in a quick transformation over the summer and has been extended “charter-like” freedoms in how it does its business. But be reminded that there is no empirical evidence that charter schools work well in North Carolina on a wide scale, but that did not stop the NCGA from expanding its “charter school” experiment to an entire school district.

Furthermore, that district is playing around the idea of “expanding the teacher pool” to help fill its positions. The proposal outlined below is scary and rather offensive to teacher preparation programs. From WSOCTV.com on October 23:

The Rowan-Salisbury School District is considering making changes to hiring requirements for teachers as it looks to widen the field of candidates to educate your children.

A new proposal being considered by the district drops a four-year college degree requirement for applicants hoping to be hired as a teacher. Instead it requires a relevant degree, relevant work experience, a 2.5 grade point average and successful completion of orientation.

Who decides what is a relevant (maybe non-four year) degree? Who decides what is relevant working experience?  Don’t we already have lateral entry? If they are to be employable in a renewal district or charter school, would that make them employable in a traditional public school? How about a private school? A 2.5 GPA? Just in college-level work? For a four-year degree they never had to get? And what is the orientation process? Similar to Teach For America?

That’s not an accomplishment. That’s an experiment in furthering the “charter” industry and changing the teaching profession into one that is manned by contractor workers.

2. And about those monies for school construction? We had a chance to put a $1.9 billion dollar bond on the ballot, but Johnson’s enablers in the NCGA took it off. Then we get this:

tweet

Yes, it is a good thing that there will be monies available to these school systems, but this is the same General Assembly that purposefully denied the voters in this state to decide whether or not to put a $1.9 billion dollar school bond on the ballot to help schools across the state physically update their facilities to weather the coming years.

Did Mark Johnson fight to have that school bond put on the ballot? No.

And why is the state making already “economically distressed districts” have to provide matching funds to be able to get any of this money to begin with?

Look closely at Hui’s original tweet:

NC Schools Supt. ⁦⁩ announces $141 million in school construction grants to 13 economically distressed districts. Instead of putting school bond on ballot,  created this fund & required LEAs to provide matching cash. 

That fund is there because the NCGA did not want to put it on the ballot. Now that we have had Hurricane Florence decimate much of eastern NC, counties that were already economically distressed now have to spend what little they may have in reserve to help build so much besides just the schools.

But Johnson is thanking the NCGA for this opportunity for “economically distressed” counties to buy an opportunity to get financial aid in a time of catastrophe.

And he’s calling it an accomplishment?

3. Innovations?

It is interesting that Johnson, after a listening tour, a gift of power over the state board, and almost 20 months on a job he was never qualified to hold, now seems to want to take credit for something that many people have been fighting for the longest of times. against lawmakers who refuse to let go of power.

Taking away testing pressure and the absolute draconian measures of security have always been a topic of discussion. The problem has been that whoever had the power to control those measures never wanted to relinquish their hold on it.

Testing protocol is directly linked to the fact that we have high stakes testing. And if Johnson is able to lessen the effects of high stakes testing, it will not be because he is that powerful or that persuasive; it will be because he is that enabled.

In January of 2017, Billy Ball wrote a piece that talked about how high-stakes testing has been so politically controlled in the state and in the country that it would be an act of God for anyone to even ameliorate their effects.

In “New state superintendent may find it hard to keep pledge on school testing,” Ball begins,

N.C. Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson may have signaled his intent to reduce the testing load for North Carolina public school students, but education officials, past and present, say the new superintendent is going to need some help from state and local policymakers to achieve his goals.”

Dr. Atkinson would have never gotten help from the GOP-controlled NCGA headed by Berger and Moore because a lot of what elementary students have now as far as testing was mandated by Berger himself.

The former superintendent and other top education officials say both federal and state laws, such as the GOP-championed Read to Achieve law shepherded by Republican Senate President Phil Berger in 2012, will complicate matters for Johnson.

Critics says the GOP-backed law, while perhaps admirable in its intent to ensure students in the lower grades were on track, only bolstered a system of testing that places students in a perilous position to pass or fail come the end of the year.

If Johnson wants to take credit for reducing testing, then he needs to buck the current system that props him up. And that’s an accomplishment he will never be able to make because he has not shown the spine to do so.

4. Management of DPI.

Funny that Johnson mentions “financial” prowess because that’s not what it really is.

From WRAL’s Kelly Hinchcliffe this past June 29:

State Superintendent Mark Johnson announced Friday that the Department of Public Instruction is eliminating 61 positions – 40 employees and 21 vacant positions. The layoffs are in response to $5.1 million in budget cuts lawmakers made to the agency.

That was $5.1 million in budget cuts. Yet Johnson has more than accounted $5.1 million in spending above and beyond what this year’s budget already allotted.

Remember when  Johnson was given 700,000 dollars to hire people loyal only to Johnson who were performing tasks already fulfilled and to cover legal fees in a lawsuit with the state board?

432

300

Johnson also spent a million dollars to pay Ernst & Young to perform an audit to find supposed “wasteful” uses of funds in DPI.

The audit concluded that DPI was underfunded.

There’s $1.7 million right there.

Then there is this from this past March:

The Department of Public Instruction is distributing a total of $4.8 million from funds allocated by the state in 2016 as part of its Read to Achieve initiative for “literacy support” in early grades. Johnson, in his time as superintendent, has emphasized the importance of reading proficiency and early literacy education(https://www.ednc.org/2018/03/09/superintendent-johnson-continues-push-early-literacy-announces-200-k-3-reading-teacher/).

Dr. June Atkinson shed some light on this “magic” funding last December. It might be worth reading this report from NC Policy Watch – “Mark Johnson accused of misleading the public regarding literacy program spending.”

Yes, that money Johnson “found” went to teachers, but it seemed to magically appear out of nowhere. On purpose. Same with iPads. Same with $200 going to reading teachers.

$1.7 million + $4.8 million = a hell of a lot more than $5.1 million.

In fact, it could allow for those DPI veterans to remain working with low-performing schools and fill the vacant spots with literacy coaches and have money left over to hire more people who can help with reading initiatives around the state, especially in rural areas that were affected most by the hurricanes recently.

What really happened  in 2017-2018 was that Johnson did not really accomplish that much when compared to what he could have done.

And he shouldn’t brag about that.

Funny that part of the teacher evaluation system is a rubric that measures whether teachers are “developing,” “proficient,” “accomplished,” or “distinguished.” On this scale, what Johnson really has a achieved is not “accomplished” as his accomplishments are not really anything to brag about. They are not even “proficient” or “developing.”

Maybe if Johnson were being evaluated he would need a category called “enabled.”

rubrics

Betsy DeVos’s PDP Mid-Term Review

… is about to happen.

From Poltico:

“For two years, Democrats watched with fury as Education Secretary Betsy DeVos sought to dismantle nearly every significant Obama administration education policy.

Now, they’re gearing up to fight back. Lots of them.

As many as five Democratic-led House committees next year could take on DeVos over a range of issues such as her rollback of regulations aimed at predatory for-profit colleges, the stalled processing of student loan forgiveness and a rewrite of campus sexual assault policies.”

The rest is here:

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/11/24/betsy-devos-education-house-democrats-1012544

Worth the read.

Politico

 

About That “Proficiency” Requirement for All Teachers in NCEES – An Idea On How to Strengthen Teacher Evaluations

“For the purposes of this policy, “proficient” shall be defined as achieving a rating of proficient, or higher, on three of the five standards of the NC Educator Evaluation System (NCEES), provided that the standard related to pedagogy (Standard IV in NCEES) is rated at the level of proficient, or higher. Teachers on an abbreviated evaluation plan must achieve a rating of proficient, or higher, on the standard related to pedagogy in order to be deemed “proficient”.

For educators whose licenses expire on or after June 30, 2019, “proficient” shall be
defined as achieving a rating of proficient or higher on all of the five standards of the NC Educator Evaluation System (NCEES), or both Standards I and IV for abbreviated evaluations.”

ncees

The above is from the NC State Board of Education Policy Manual concerning General Licensure Requirements as updated in July of this past summer.

And yes, it is a frequently visited and “revised” document.

ncees2

The idea of every teacher needing to be “proficient” in all of the assigned evaluation standards does not seem out-of-line, even for those who have already achieved “career-status.”

What seems most distressing is how evaluations can potentially be narrowly conducted.

As it stands, an administrator is assigned a certain number of teachers to evaluate. Through PDP’s (Professional Development Plans), observations, and evaluations based on many rubrics, a teacher receives a rating on every standard applicable. Teachers can give evidence and other supporting details, but the administrator only sees the teacher for a limited time, and it’s not a slight on administrators; they have some of the toughest jobs on the planet that extend beyond the scope of one physical person.

As the NCEES (North Carolina Educator Effectiveness System) is designed to measure teacher effectiveness, it is hard to conceive that one administrator could actively see how well all assigned teachers are doing on all standards for each school year. That administrator must not only be a strong instructional leader (and I am blessed to have has those administrators), but also be among the teachers and students frequently, and have the ability to ask good questions and listen to feedback.

But would it not also be good if part of the evaluation process came from other teachers?

In schools, we speak of collaboration. Effective teachers collaborate and use other teachers as vital resources and sounding boards. Some schools use a PLT model – a Professional Learning Team that meets weekly to go over pedagogical approaches and strategies with others who teach the same levels and courses. Effective PLT’s help tremendously. They also would know what to look for in those other teachers’ classrooms to see if “proficiency” is at least being met. So, what if they had that capacity?

Teachers should have the time and ability to observe other teachers in classrooms not to be “grading” what other teachers do, but to help other teachers objectively look at what they could do to help those students even more.

We used to have a seven-period day with two planning periods. It meant more time per student, more time to plan, more time to experiment with what would help students most. It also gave more time for teachers to be with other teachers and collaborate. But with the economic constraints that the state places on public schools, teachers now are teaching more classes and more students in a given school year.

But if we want teachers to be more than “proficient” for our students, then they need to have resources  for them to use. One of those resources is TIME. And that TIME would allow or teachers to use other resources like OTHER TEACHERS.

When a teacher is being evaluated under NCEES, would it not be advantageous for that teacher to have been observed by other teachers whose sole aim is to help? All of the input and constructive criticism could be the very insight or input needed to make that teacher more than “proficient.”

Imagine what ideas and strategies could be gleaned by even the most veteran of teachers when they observe their peers in the classroom setting. Imagine the natural coaching that could happen.

And then when the actual evaluation occurs, a slew of teachers could vouch for the very teachers they observed and with whom they conversed and collaborated.

Teachers should not be stranded on islands, even when they are literally yards from each other for most of a school day. A strained time schedule can create those islands. But allowing time for teachers to frequently observe each other in the classroom setting could build bridges and turn “proficiency” into “effectiveness.”

And all would benefit. Especially students.

 

 

The NCGA Special Session – What 50K/Day Could Finance

It is largely accepted that to convene the North Carolina General Assembly for one day in 2018 during a special session costs NC taxpayers roughly $50K.

50K

Think about it.

$50K a day to decide how to define the Voter ID bill and what specific ID’s will be valid in the next round of elections..

$50K a day to maybe grab some more power before the super-majorities are broken up because the voters made a very loud statement that they do not want veto-proof houses in the NC General Assembly.

Remember the last time that a special session was convened right after a major election cycle in North Carolina? That was about $50K a day to create HB17 and SB4 which handcuffed power over public schools and created other provisions that ended up in court and cost taxpayers even more money. That was all done under the guise of Hurricane Matthew relief and HB2 amending.

$50K is near the top of the very salary schedule the same NCGA has for a veteran teacher’s salary – an English teacher who could in one day could teach a lot of students how to interpret what the text on a ballot for a constitutional amendment actually did say ans did not say.

$50K is near the top of the very salary schedule the same NCGA has for a veteran teacher’s salary – a social study teacher who could in one day teach a lot of students about the misguided history of many special sessions called for by Berger and Moore..

But in that $50K’s worth of unnecessary meetings and votes is a massive amount of time. Think about 170 members (House and Senate) who come together for approximately ten hours. That’s 170 multiplied by 10. 1700 hours. Per day.

An average student in a traditional public high school spends about six hours a day in instructional time. The average year for a student is 180 days; therefore, a student’s yearly time spent in class is supposed to be around 1,080 hours.

And it would only take one class for one student (maybe 60 minutes at most) to understand that what the NCGA is doing in this special session might be a waste of time and money.

Money that could have gone into investing into public schools.

At best, this special session should stipulate as many forms of ID to be permissible for all voting and not disenfranchise any voter – including school ID’s on college campuses and other educational institutions.

But this special session is not about what is best for the state. It’s about what is best for some politicians.

 

Top 15 Holiday Gifts For Teachers (If You Really Love Them)

Forget the apples. Forget the Starbucks Gift Cards. Forget homemade cookies.

This holiday season give teachers gifts that they can not only truly enjoy, but truly use to make them better at what they do.

  1. Time Machine – specifically one that looks cool.

gift-1Maybe something akin to the DeLorean in the iconic movie Back to the Future. If there is something that teachers really need, it’s more time.

Think about, grade a set of papers, go back in time and grade some more. Didn’t get enough sleep the night before? Don’t hit the snooze button. Go back in time and get some more shuteye.

The fact that the time machine comes in the form of a Delorean also means that transportation is taken care of.

  1. Segway – with a cool helmet to use.

gift-2Imagine doing lunchtime duty with one of these! Preserve energy and look really official while riding. Flames on the side should also be considered.

  1. T-Rex Statue

gift-3Put one of these in the classroom and allow students to decorate it with costumes that resemble characters from novels studied or historical figures or other educational visages. Student will love it and, frankly, you would be the coolest teacher on the hall.

  1. Karaoke Machine

gift-4If a teacher likes to hear himself / herself talk then let them sing a lesson. Performance art at its best. Finally that Heart of Darkness, The Musical your AP Lit teacher has been working on can be performed as it should be – in the classroom.

  1. Powerful Megaphone.

gift-5For those who do hall duty in large buildings or have students in the back of the room who refuse to listen.

  1. Drone with Eye on the bottom

gift-6This would allow for proctoring from afar and would allow for the teacher to make students feel like they were being watched while taking tests.

  1. Cloning Machine

gift-7Now teachers can get to the multiple meetings that always seem to be scheduled for the same time.

  1. Sonic Screwdriver

gift-8No a toy replica – a real one. Something like this could fix the copy machine, printer, the network connection, and the phone without having to put in a work order.

  1. Rita Skeeter Magic Pen

gift-9This would allow the teacher to write down whatever is said while doing something else. Take notes, jot down ideas, etc.

  1. Freeze Ray

gift-10This would help ensure that when the teacher calls “TIME!” then everyone really stops working. This is especially good when giving timed tests.

  1. Hypno-Hat

gift-11Commonly seen in the Minions Movie, the Hypno-Hat would be very good when speaking to legislators concerning the conditions in public schools.

  1. Hologram

gift-12You literally can show up in the most needed places. Maybe even use for county meetings that you can’t get to on time because of traffic.

  1. Wookie

gift-13Honestly, there is no explanation needed. Loyal to a fault, fun to converse with, and easily the best deterrent a teacher can have against discipline problems.

  1. Eye of Sauron

gift-14Don’t think that having an eye on students is not key for school security? Well, this can watch the entire school at one time.

  1. Replicator

gift-15Hot coffee anytime. Home baked goods? Anytime. Forgot lunch? Taken care of.

Being thoughtful is not hard to do and if you really value those teachers, then help them do what they do best even better!

This Is A Charter School That Betsy DeVos’s Policies Would Allow to Exist

Imagine a charter school that uses tax payer money to allow instructors to deliver a curriculum which is not sanctioned by a regulatory body. Students are given admission as long as they are not from the LGBT community and hold an evangelical view of the Christian faith. There would be no instances in which a person would be convicted of a sexual assault because those accused would have extra protections under the law. Armed security would be provided by a private company with real-world experience in mercenary warmongering, and all graduates would be guaranteed admission to a four-year for-profit college accredited by ACICS only after signing an agreement to have loans come from predatory lending entity that charges exorbitant interest rates.

And there would be no bears in the vicinity.

That charter school really is not that hard to imagine if the person who established it was Betsy DeVos. The policies that she has championed and the uneducated view she has of what public education actually is like make what appears rather hyperbolic rather realistic. Keep in mind that many charter schools (and the private schools that DeVos wants to expand vouchers for) practice highly exclusionary admission practices.

And in her less-than-two-year tenure as a cabinet member, DeVos has more than shown her allegiance.

Consider her wish to advance “God’s Kingdom.” From Politico in 2016:

School choice, they say, leads to “greater Kingdom gain.” The two (DeVos and Her husband) also lament that public schools have “displaced” the Church as the center of communities, and they cite school choice as a way to reverse that troubling trend.

“…Our desire is to be in that Shephelah, and to confront the culture in which we all live today in ways that will continue to help advance God’s Kingdom, but not to stay in our own faith territory,” she said.

Consider her unwillingness to speak for protections for LGBT students. From USA Today in 2017:

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos clashed with Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday over protections for LGBT students, balking when asked directly if she would ban private schools from receiving federal funds if they discriminate against these students.

The Trump administration wants to invest millions into an unprecedented expansion of private-school vouchers and public-private charter schools, prompting critics to worry that religious schools, for example, might expel LGBT students or, more broadly, that private schools might refuse to admit students with disabilities. Testifying before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee, DeVos told Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., “Let me be clear: Schools that receive federal funds must follow federal law. Period.”

Consider her reversal of an Obama-era on how to handle sexual assault allegations on college campuses. From NPR in 2018:

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced sweeping rules on how colleges handle cases of sexual assault and harassment that she says will fix a “failed” and “shameful” system that has been unfair to accused students. In what the administration is calling a “historic process,” the proposed rules aim to significantly enhance legal protections for the accused and reflect a sentiment expressed by President Trump that men are unfairly being presumed guilty. More than a year in the making, the rules replace Obama-era policies on how to implement Title IX, the law barring gender discrimination in schools that get federal funding.

Consider that DeVos is the only Trump cabinet member to “require” around-the-clock security. From NBC in 2018:

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos began receiving around-the-clock security from the U.S. Marshals Service days after being confirmed, an armed detail provided to no other cabinet member that could cost U.S. taxpayers $19.8 million through September of 2019, according to new figures provided by the Marshals Service to NBC News.

While it remains unclear who specifically made the request, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions granted the protection on February 13, 2017, a few days after DeVos was heckled and blocked by a handful of protesters from entering the Jefferson Academy, a public middle school in Washington. DeVos was confirmed as education secretary on February 7 of that year.

Don’t forget who her brother is. Erik Prince founded Blackwater.

“Mr. Prince, who founded Blackwater — since renamed Academi — in 1997, gained notoriety when security contractors employed by his company killed 17 Iraqi civilians during a 2007 assault in Baghdad. Four of his guards were later convicted in U.S. court of either murder or manslaughter charges as a result of that incident.

Consider how DeVos restored power to a rather controversial accreditation entity. From the Washington Post in 2018:

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Wednesday restored federal recognition to a controversial agency that accredits for-profit colleges, reversing an Obama administration decision to put it out of business.

The move is one in a number of steps DeVos has taken to undo an Obama-era crackdown that she argues unfairly targeted for-profit schools for scrutiny not applied to other colleges. But critics say she is propping up an industry with a record of misleading students and poor educational outcomes.

Consider her stance on loan forgiveness for students defrauded by loan agreements at for-profit colleges. From the New York Times in 2018:

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos proposed on Wednesday to curtail Obama administration loan forgiveness rules for students defrauded by for-profit colleges, requiring that student borrowers show they have fallen into hopeless financial straits or prove that their colleges knowingly deceived them.

The DeVos proposal, set to go in force a year from now, would replace Obama-era policies that sought to ease access to loan forgiveness for students who were left saddled with debt after two for-profit college chains, Corinthian Colleges and ITT Technical Institute, imploded in 2015 and 2016. The schools were found to have misled their students with false advertisements and misleading claims for years.

And the bear thing?

“I will refer back to Sen. Enzi and the school he is talking about in Wyoming. I think probably there, I would imagine there is probably a gun in a school to protect from potential grizzlies.”

Betsy DeVos said those now famous words during her confirmation hearing on January 17th, 2017 in response to questioning about guns on school campuses.

So that charter school described earlier that may have seemed a little (or lot) unbelievable?

Not really.

Maybe its mascot could be the Grizzlies.

grizzly

 

 

Thankful and Grateful for the Unsung Heroes of Our Public Schools: Classified Employees & Volunteers

Thankful as a teacher to have these people keep our schools not only functioning, but vibrant. If you have never really been inside the workings of a public schools, know that so many people work behind the scenes to help educate our students. If they were not doing what they do, then schools would never be as effective.

Thankful for these people at West Forsyth and all public schools. If I have missed any please let me know and I will add them to the list.

  • Teacher Assistants
  • Administrative Assistants
  • Guidance Counselors
  • Media Assistants
  • Interpreters
  • Therapists – speech, occupational, physical
  • Community Coaches
  • Data Control and Clerks
  • Janitors
  • Maintenance
  • Bus Drivers and Transportation
  • Food Services
  • Crossing Guards
  • Nurses
  • PTSA
  • Other Volunteers

thank you