DPI, 1984, Oceania, and Mark Johnson’s Big Brother – Another Communications Coup in North Carolina

From Orwell’s 1984:

And so it was with every class of recorded fact, great or small. Everything faded away into a shadow-world in which, finally, even the date of the year had become uncertain.” (Book 1).

News today that state superintendent Mark Johnson halted key “listserv” communications from the Department of Public Instruction may not seem like the full explosion of a dystopian novel just yet, the idea that a rather reclusive government official is regulating key communicative avenues to those who need the information to make important decisions does sound a little like government control over what the masses can see.

1984_poster

From NC Policy Watch’s Billy Ball today in “State School Superintendent muzzles communication from DPI”:

A directive from Superintendent Mark Johnson to temporarily halt key listserv communications from the Department of Public Instruction has some concerned the order will chill the flow of information from North Carolina’s top public school agency.

Policy Watch learned last week of Johnson’s command, which comes at a particularly busy time for central office personnel as they prep for the coming school year, which will include myriad legislative changes, including 24 new reporting requirements for DPI.

In Johnson’s message, recently obtained by Policy Watch, the superintendent wrote the department would “take a break in the distribution of information to the field and to other lists for stakeholders” following last month’s retirement of the agency’s longtime communications chief.

The superintendent said staff should stop use of their GovDelivery email lists—which provides for mass distribution of agency information across the state—for the month of July, and Johnson would notify staff when communications could resume (http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/2017/07/12/state-school-superintendent-muzzles-communication-dpi/).

Johnson’s directive was to “take a break” in communicating with “stakeholders.”

At a time when the state superintendent has really been nothing more than a shadow figure who seems more afraid of communicating with the public, it is ironic that he stops this “communication” chain for school systems that he should be enabling and removing obstacles.

It’s also ironic that Ball’s report comes right when Johnson has just been in court trying to wrestle more power from the State Board of Education for himself when the very General Assembly that is propping hi up just cut the budget for DPI nearly %20 over the next two years.

Johnson did release a statement concerning the “break” and Ball relates,

The department “has not shut down communications with the field, only temporarily paused listserv communications for the month of July, with certain exceptions,” Johnson wrote. “Since this is summer break for our educators, this pause is appropriate while we search for a new communications director and to enable the Department to thoughtfully review the many communications that come from our agency.”

Johnson’s statement would seem to contradict his order, which specifically nixed listserv communications with “the field.” The superintendent later clarified that the directive was intended to only halt field communications using the GovDelivery system, although DPI sources say the system is the simplest and most effective means of communicating across North Carolina school districts.

Temporarily paused?

Summer break for educators?

Enable department to thoughtfully review?

Really?

Ball says stipulates “DPI sources say the system is the simplest and most effective means of communicating across North Carolina school districts.” Things that don’t get communicated can get lost and fade. Things can get uncertain.

This seems more like a politically charged, government controlled means to further weaken a public good and it makes the next statement by Johnson a little humorous.

“NC DPI has not shut down all communications with the field, and staff is regularly engaged in supporting the field and responding to questions,” Johnson added.

Why is it humorous? Because Mark Johnson and “responding to questions” have never really collided in the same truthful instance.

It is interesting that 1984 was Pat McCrory’s favorite book.

And it is rather fortuitous that CNN publish a report on a study that talks about cities will be flooded by rising sea waters in the near future: http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/12/us/weather-cities-inundated-climate-change/index.html.

Talk about your Oceania.

But CNN is fake. So is climate change.

Dear Sen. Jerry Tillman, You Are Making Treebeard Very Angry and You Can’t Gerrymander Ents

Even before he dropped the gavel on the Senate Finance Committee meeting, Sen. Jerry Tillman, a notoriously cantankerous Republican from Randolph County, seemed to be in a particularly bad mood.

He mumbled about being angry. He barked at audience to take their seats, lest he start selling tickets. And with eight bills to plow through — he promised it would take no longer than 30 minutes — Tillman sped through the meeting as if he were herding cattle through a sale barn.

At that auctioneer’s pace, then, there was little discussion of the House Bill 374, legislation with far-reaching implications.

Thus began Lisa Sorg’s report today on NC Policy Watch concerning House Bill 374 entitled “House Bill 374 and its restrictions on the citizens’ right to contest environmental permits, advances in Senate” (http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/2017/06/22/house-bill-374-restrictions-citizens-right-contest-environmental-permits-advances-senate/).

And her specific use of diction and tone are very apropos for Tillman.

  • “cantankerous”
  • “bad mood”
  • “mumbled”
  • “angry”
  • “barked”
  • “plow”
  • “little discussion”

That’s the Jerry we know!

His amorphous defense of unregulated charter schools, his unwillingness to listen to open debate on issues concerning students, and his ramrodding bills for the Achievement School District and the weakening of DPI have all been wrapped in his special gruff manner.

Today was no different.

Remember that Tillman is a former teacher, coach, and administrator in public schools who retired long ago. Last year he tried to enact legislation that would require all high schools to offer two tracks of math.

I am not a math teacher. In fact, according to my wife, I am rather poor in explaining mathematical concepts to our children when they are faced with math homework. But I do know that all of a sudden changing the course tracks in high schools would present an incredible challenge for schools to adequately teach those differing courses in high schools in such a quick amount of time – especially when the likes of Tillman keep funding from going to public schools.

Sen. Tillman thought it could be done in the blink of an eye. He was quoted in an EdNC.org report ((https://www.ednc.org/2016/06/09/senate-moves-state-one-step-closer-split-high-school-math-tracks),

“If you can teach math, your same certifications are required, same students, same allotment of teachers. Not gonna change,” he said.

Tillman said the practical aspect of teaching could be accomplished by having a teacher teach Algebra I alongside Math 1 in the same class.

“With a good teacher, you can do it,” he said.

So, teaching two subjects in the same classroom? In the same amount of time? With two different pedagogical approaches? Of course, Sen. Tillman would think that.

He also thinks that one can go through eight bills in thirty minutes.

With an emphasis on STEM education, it would make sense that if someone like Tillman was to be so in tune with math, then he might also think of the importance of Science and Technology, both of which have overwhelmingly told us the ramifications of hurting the environment.

House Bill 374 would hurt the environment.

Sorg explains,

“The 17-page bill has morphed from a benign list of technical changes into a malignant mass of pernicious environmental provisions. These include language that would weaken coal ash recycling requirements and strip many citizens of their right to contest environmental permits.”

That last sentence really strikes me as shocking. But maybe it’s not too shocking when you investigate that Tillman’s allegiance to the American Legislative Exchange Council’s ultra-conservative view of teaching civics in American High Schools.

Refer back to 2015 and Senate Bill 524. From the venerable Lindsay Wagner when she reported for NC Policy Watch,

Senate Bill 524 adds principles to the high school curriculum that are, according to the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council, related to the founding documents of the United States government. They include:

“We the People.” 8 bills in thirty minutes.

“Limitations on government power.” Stripping as much power away from a democratically elected governor and the Department of Justice budget slashed by over one-third.

“Honest friendship.” Yet we the people get “cantankerous,” “bad mood,” “mumbled,” “angry,” “bark,” “plow,” and “little discussion.”

Makes one wonder who could go into those chambers in Raleigh and force some civil discussion about such bills that would have an impact on the environment.

Our water.

Our land.

Our resources.

Our trees.

And then I think of this guy who just might be as old as Jerry Tillman.

Treebeard

But he’s more friendly. More thoughtful. Would take his time and consider. And would certainly allow others to speak.

He would defend our water, land, and resources.

He understands STEM fairly well and I imagine only took one track of math in school.

State Superintendent Johnson, Whom Do You Serve?

Dear Supt. Johnson,

I appreciated the words in your video address to teachers thanking us for our work during the National Teacher Appreciation Week. For those who may not have seen that video, here is a link: https://youtu.be/asLHLCxjQ6k.

You talked about how teachers are not thanked enough, and while it is nice to hear those sentiments, the teacher, the public school parent, and the voter in me wants to see something else: action.

Why? Because during this week of “Teacher Appreciation” and polite ceremony, schools in many districts were still struggling to find the necessary resources and having to ask for essential support as the North Carolina General Assembly’s Senate chamber rolled out a budget proposal that did nothing to improve funding for public schools.

In fact, what happened on West Jones Street this “Teacher Appreciation Week” showed how much many in Raleigh do not appreciate what happens in public schools.

And this teacher, parent, voter, and advocate needs to ask you as the chief administrator of public schools, “What are you willing to do?”

First, it is quite disconcerting to not have heard you speak about the proposed cuts to the Department of Public Instruction. Actually, they aren’t really cuts. It’s more of a severing of limbs.

As suggested in the budget proposal, http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2017/Bills/Senate/PDF/S257v2.pdf, there would be a 25 percent cut in operation funds for DPI.

NC Policy Watch’s Billy Ball reported on May 12th, 2017 in “Senate slashes DPI; state Superintendent silent,”

North Carolina’s chief public school administrator may be silent on Senate budget cuts to North Carolina’s Department of Public Instruction, but the leader of the state’s top school board says the proposal has the potential to deal major harm to poor and low-performing school districts.

“There’s no question about that,” State Board of Education Chairman Bill Cobey told Policy Watch Thursday. “A 25 percent cut, which I can’t believe will be the result of this process, would cut into very essential services for particularly the rural and poor counties.”

Cobey is referring to the Senate budget’s 25 percent cut in operations funds for the Department of Public Instruction (DPI), a loss of more than $26 million over two years that, strangely, has produced no public reaction from the leader of the department (http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/2017/05/12/senate-slashes-dpi-state-superintendent-silent/).

Whether or not you want to give a statement to NC Policy Watch, the fact that you have not openly responded to this is actually quite surprising. And this is happening in a year where the same lawmakers are touting yet another SURPLUS in revenue.

Frankly, your power struggle to obtain authority over segments of public school policy with the state board has pretty much put a lot in limbo as far as crafting what you said in January were “urgent” reforms needed in our education system. Furthermore, those reforms and changes do not seem to have any shape or form in your first 120 days in office.

And it seems to have helped bring about a reduction of the very office that many look to help sustain many needed facets of public education in the state, especially in rural districts – by a fourth!

Some of those very districts were hurt by some late night underhanded partisan backstabbing this past weekend.

Colin Campbell of the News &Observer reported in “At 3 a.m., NC Senate GOP strips education funding from Democrats’ districts” on May 13th,

“The session finally resumed around 3 a.m., and Republican Sen. Brent Jackson introduced a new budget amendment that he explained would fund more pilot programs combating the opioid epidemic. He cited “a great deal of discussion” about the need for more opioid treatment funding.

Jackson didn’t mention where the additional $1 million would come from: directly from education programs in Senate Democrats’ districts and other initiatives the minority party sought” (http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article150397682.html#storylink=cpy).

What is your position on that?

Those districts’ schools are your schools. That proposed cut of twenty-five percent to DPI affects your schools. This prolonged lawsuit against members of your own party affects your schools.

Actually, they are our schools. And you were elected to work for our schools.

At the beginning of your term that you stated you would be conducting a “listening tour” for your first few months. I and others are very interested in learning what you have heard and how it may guide your policies.

However, a LOT WAS SAID THIS WEEK in words and actions – budget cuts, falling from 42nd to 43rd in per pupil expenditures, “super-vouchers,” and attacks on programs that help small districts. So, the obvious question might be, “What are you going to do about this?” It appears if you truly appreciated teachers and public schools, it seems that you would be screaming at all of this.

But the real question might be “Who do you serve?”

That same budget which is causing many people to doubt our state’s commitment to public schools also gave you money to do a couple of things. The first concerns a legal fund.

unnamed1

That’s three-hundred thousand dollars to use so you can sue the State Board of Education to get powers as a state superintendent that have never been placed in the hands of the office before. The face of the State Board of Education is the same person who commented above about the cuts to DPI when you did not.

The second is to secure loyalty.

unnamed2

This allows you to have five more people to work for you than the previous state superintendent which is odd considering that the same people who gave you this appropriation and the money to sue your own state board are the very ones who have cut DPI’s operation budget by a quarter.

So I ask again, “Who do you serve?”

Actions say so much.

And in this case a lack of a reaction screams.

North Carolina’s Plagiarized Privatization of Public Schools – Or, How to be Unoriginal

North Carolina is literally practicing privatization plagiarism.

That’s great for alliteration fans, but for public school advocates it’s harmful, hurtful, hateful, disabling, devitalizing, devaluing, and debilitating.

And they’re not even being original because all of these supposed “re-forms” are nothing more than rehashed failed policies that profit a few and hurt the many.

Last month, a superintendent was chosen for North Carolina’s version of the Achievement School District that was put into place by “re-forming” legivangelists like Sen. Chad Barefoot and Sen. Jerry Tillman. If you do not know what a legivangelist is then here is a definition:

Legivangelist  – (n.) one who preaches to constituents about how holy his cause is in hopes of obtaining votes in elections  to maintain power over those he claims to help (further explanation can be found here: https://caffeinatedrage.com/2016/04/18/legivangelists-and-others-who-praise-the-lard/).

Remember the discussion that surrounded the implementation of a model that had not shown success in other states like Tennessee? Well, here’s a reminder from an earlier posting (https://caffeinatedrage.com/2016/06/29/outsourcing-our-kids-for-profit-rep-rob-bryan-and-sen-chad-barefoot-will-have-much-to-answer-for-in-the-future/).

“Neither Barefoot or Bryan could never really explain the “how the ASD will work” or the “why it will work”. They are simply appealing to their authority. They just tout that it will work in spite of all the results of past experiments and implementations ASD districts in multiple states, especially Tennessee whose model Bryan originally looked at to create the NC ASD proposal.

Lack of specificity is a tactic in making arguments. It hopes that people will get lost in the ambiguity of an explanation and simply rely on the speaker as being more equipped to make a decision because of a title or office held.

But lack of specificity is also a sign of not really knowing the answers. It’s like when you ask a question of someone and what he doesn’t say speaks as loudly as what he does say.

Take for instance the explanations given by Sen. Barefoot when pressed for specificity in a meeting for HB1080 (the ASD bill) chaired by Sen. Tillman as reported by Billy Ball (http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2016/06/24/senate-committee-approves-controversial-charter-takeover-of-low-performing-schools/).

Barefoot calls the ASD model for NC an “innovative solution.” But when others in the meeting bring up that there really have not been positive outcomes from other ASD implementations, Barefoot just says that we will make it work because we are NC (the geographical cure).”

Since then more has happened to the Memphis branch of the ASD program in Tennessee concerning audits, which Sen. Barefoot should be aware of since he is so intent on making sure that all public schools show what they do with every cent given to them while allowing charter schools to operate in the state without as much transparency or vouchers to be tracked for effectiveness in religious school like Trinity Christian in Fayetteville.

But that is just regressing.

Or is it?

Either way, there has been no revelation of the new Carolina approach to the ASD except that it will include a small amount of schools that will be taken over by for-profit entities from outside the state.

If one was a betting individual and wanted to gamble public money on failed schemes like education reform efforts enacted here in NC, then maybe one of those companies is Charter Schools USA out of Florida run by Jonathan Hage, who is an avid campaign contributor to politicians like Sen. Jerry Tillman.

Below is a screen shot from followthemoney.org which tracks campaign contributions to political candidates (https://www.followthemoney.org/entity-details?eid=14298646). Here is a list of candidates who have received money from Hage in NC.

Hage1

  • There’s Jerry Tillman, the former public school administrator who is a champion for opaque charter school regulation.
  • And there’s Jason Saine who loves charters as well.
  • There’s Rep. Bryan who helped to bring in the ASD district.
  • There’s David Curtis, who loves charters as well.
  • There’s Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, who sits on the state school board and lambasted DPI under Dr. June Atkinson for its report on charter schools that said they were disproportionally representing populations.
  • There’s Buck Newton, who was going to make NC “straight” again as attorney general for the NC, but lost.
  • There’s Bill Rabon, who stalled the HB13 bill in the Senate.

These names are not unfamiliar in the “re-form” movement here in NC.

And their actions are not original. They are plagiarized.

Take for instance House Bill 800. That’s the so-called “Jobs’ Bill” introduced by Sen. John Bradford this past week that would allow for businesses who help finance a part of a charter school to claim up to half of the allotted enrollment of the charter school for children of their employees.

Sound original? Not really.

Recently Greg Flynn out of Raleigh tweeted the following on April 26th.

flynn1

Those statutes? (http://www.legis.la.gov/Legis/Law.aspx?d=762875).

LA1

Interestingly enough, Sen. Bradford’s name, while not on Hage’s preferred list of campaign contributions, is familiar.

He was one of the primary sponsors of the ASD bill that helped to spur the creation of our NC district (http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/2016/06/03/tempers-flare-as-controversial-achievement-school-district-bill-clears-house/).

So with a model of a failed experiment from Tennessee (ASD) which was actually being lobbied by a conservative Oregonian backer being that was co-sponsored by a man who received funds from a Florida charter school executive was also co-sponsored by another state lawmaker who looked to a privatizing scheme from Louisiana to introduce another charter school bill.

Wow! If you want to read more about that Oregonian connection, refer to this – http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/2015/08/13/out-of-state-money-behind-secret-plan-to-fund-charter-takeover-of-ncs-worst-performing-schools/.

Then there was this gem of a bill that was introduced – HB514: The Permit Municipal Charter School / Certain Towns Bill.

Or otherwise known as segregation.

Sen. William Brawley, a commercial real-estate broker from Matthews (and also represents Mint Hill) introduced HB514 so that his district which is predominantly white (Mint Hill is 73% and Matthews is 78% white) to set up its own charter schools within its city limits to serve its students in an effort to keep them away from a predominantly black school district it already resides in – Charlotte / Mecklenburg. Read Kris Nordstrom’s report for better explanation: http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2017/04/26/flurry-house-charter-school-bills-facilitate-segregation-north-carolinas-schools/#sthash.Wa3GCLPC.whzD62t5.dpbs.

That idea isn’t really plagiarized from a certain state or geographical location.

It’s taken straight out of the 1950’s.

Nordstrom also mentions a bill that would allow for the state to examine ways to break up larger school districts and make them into smaller ones. That bill, HB704, is sponsored by both Brawley and Bradford, two senators who make a living on real estate and the value of the land they sell and develop.

And nothing drives the value of land like the schools that service that area.

If lawmakers in North Carolina wanted to “copy” good reforms, they don’t really need to look that hard.

  • Virginia just put a stop to charter growth.
  • Tennessee voted down the use of vouchers.
  • And New York is about to fund more pre-k programs for preschoolers to get them more prepared for success.

That’s what should be plagiarized.

But alas, too many in Raleigh have confused mixing business, money, greed, politics, and public education with “doing the right thing” as public servants.

Vouchers, Charters, and Choice! Oh, My! – Dorothy, You’re Not in Public School Anymore

“Lions, and tigers, and bears! Oh, my!” – Dorothy, Tin Man, Scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz.

lions-tigers-bears

“Vouchers, Charters, and Choice! Oh, my!” – Me

As the North Carolina General Assembly is about to convene for the long session here in the new year, it bears repeating that public education will again be at the center of many of the very items of the agenda.

public-school-sign-brick-building-5310531

With a challenged bill in the court system now concerning the power of a neophyte state superintendent, a blind commitment to an ASD school district, more charter school disruptions, and a voucher system that is slated to  take almost a billion dollars of tax payer money in the next decade it is important to bring light to a couple of reports that have surfaced this week.

First is the Annual Charter Schools Report to the NCGA, of which a draft has been released (https://simbli.eboardsolutions.com/Meetings/Attachment.aspx?S=10399&AID=79615&MID=2933) .  According to Billy Ball of NC Policy Watch, the report says,

“According to the report, charters’ percentage of students classified as “economically disadvantaged” remains significantly lower than their traditional public school peers (see page 9).

In 2015-2016, for instance, less than 30 percent of charter students were counted as low-income, far below the 50.2 percent counted in traditional schools.

Additionally, charters’ share of low-income children has been consistently on the decline since  it reached 39.6 percent in 2012-2013, at at time when traditional schools’ have reported fluctuations up and down.

The numbers were prepared by the state’s Office of Charter Schools, which oversees the state’s growing charter school sector” (http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2017/01/03/state-report-n-c-charter-schools-work-fewer-low-income-children/#sthash.JC3kSKYF.dpuf).

In fact, the table on that very page 9 looks like:

charter

In fact, it seems that the number of “economically disadvantaged’ children serviced by the charter schools has gone down over the years.

Remember last year when Lt. Gov. Dan Forest asked DPI to redo a report on charter school because it did not reflect so well on their servicing of students of low income? I do.

Ball concludes his report with,

“Also of note in this year’s state report, student performance in North Carolina charters varies more than it does in traditional schools. While a greater percentage of all public charters earned an A+, the highest school performance grade, a higher percentage of charters also pulled in the lowest school performance grade possible (see page 13 of the report).”

Interesting. So much for consistency.

Lindsay Wagner of the AJ Fletcher Foundation published a very interesting and insightful article on the voucher system here in North Carolina today. An experienced researcher and educational journalist, Wagner has witnessed the evolution of the “reform” movement first-hand here in North Carolina and this article deserves your reading.

It is called “North Carolina’s school voucher program: an accountability and transparency wish list for 2017” and you may find it here: http://ajf.org/north-carolinas-school-voucher-program-accountability-transparency-wish-list-2017/.

One very poignant statement observes,

“Our voucher program is one of the least accountable and transparent when comparing program participation standards to that of other states…”

Wagner then gives a realistic “wish list” and explains why lawmakers who enable the voucher programs to work so surreptitiously should be more transparent with taxpayer money. That’s especially important when much of that voucher money goes to religious schools that can alter both curricular standards and admission policies.

And then we have school choice, one of the most nebulous terms of the current school reform movement. Books are being written about school choice and we have a president elect who is in favor of school choice who has nominated a woman who herself is a champion of school choice, charters, and vouchers by the name of Betsy DeVos.

Dr. Diane Ravitch on her iconic blog which to date has almost 30 million hits responded to a recent Washington Post editorial concerning school choice, vouchers, and charters by kindy referring to places where school systems have literally been destroyed by “reform” (https://dianeravitch.net/2017/01/02/a-wake-up-call-for-fred-hiatt-editorial-page-editor-of-the-washington-post/).

Places like New Orleans.

Places like Milwaukee.

Places like Detroit (in DeVos’s home state).

And now there is news out of Tennessee that their Achievement School District is having some “problems.”

wizard-of-oz-flying-monkey-tattoo-2

Are those flying monkeys I see on the horizon?

“So, What’s the Market Rate for an Unaccountable Degree-Holding Babysitter?” – I Assume He Meant Teachers

tim-peck-tweet

“So, what’s the market rate for an unaccountable degree-holding babysitter?”

The above is a quote from a man named Tim Peck, a self-described “Unaffiliated Objectivist” and writer of the blog Et in Arcadia ego.

He also is a prolific Twitter tweeter, who according to Rob Schofield of NC Policy Watch is “one of the most prolific conservative voices on Twitter when it comes to North Carolina policy and politics (he’s authored more than 33,000 “tweets” in recent years that often echo and promote takes of various Art Pope Empire employees)” (http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/2016/09/13/an-election-year-switcheroo-on-public-education/).

In that same article, Schofield outlines the electioneering, pro-teacher stance that the GOP powers in NC have adopted this year in order to portray themselves as the friends of public education. And that’s when I came across Tim Peck’s Twitter tweet (I still like the alliterative sound there – almost tongue-twisting).

Here it is again.

“So, what’s the market rate for an unaccountable degree-holding babysitter?”

Put aside that Mr. Peck’s unaffiliated objectivism seems to hearken to Ayn Rand’s philosophical system. I am not really interested in debating the merits of ideas expounded upon in Atlas Shrugged or The Fountainhead.

Put aside that Mr. Peck’s blog (Et in Arcadia ego ) is named after a phrase that praises the idyllic pastoral life of ancient Arcadia where inhabitants lived simply away from corrupted city life. There are not many people who can actually claim to be securely sequestered by the issues that affect North Carolinians.

Put aside that the phrase “et in Arcadia ego” is also used by Virgil in the “Eclogues”. This posting is not questioning the use of a phrase by a poet who wrote Rome’s greatest epic poem that asserted the almost “divine” nature of Augustus Caesar and spotlighted Rome as the beacon of civilization when it was anything but pastoral in nature.

Put aside that the featured image of Mr. Peck’s blog, “Wanderer Above the Fog” by Caspar David Friedrich, is often associated with Lord (George Gordon) Byron, the famous British Romantic poet and writer of Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, whose personal life philosophy seems to run totally counter to the views of Ayn Rand.

byron

What I am fixated on is the tweet,

“So, what’s the market rate for an unaccountable degree-holding babysitter?”

And I have to admit that it is a good question offered by Mr. Twitter Tweet Tim Peck. Good question.

I assume he is referring to teachers. But I am willing to give the benefit of the doubt here. I will say that we really need to find the market rate of the degree-holding babysitter and flush this argument out.

I’m a public school teacher; therefore, by Mr. Peck’s Twitter tweet, I am also an unaccountable degree-holding babysitter. And I will save the accountability portion of his tweet for a later date. As far as baby-sitting goes, I just need to keep the kids occupied, fed, clothed, and let them play without destroying personal property.

So, welcome to http://www.care.com/babysitting-rates. It was the first babysitter calculator website that came in a simple Google search. It seems to be a reliable source.

Now, let’s enter in some numbers.

  • For zip code, I used an Asheville code. That’s where Mr. Peck resides.
  • For number of children, I put in 4+.
  • For experience, I entered 10+ because I have around 18 years of teaching experience.
  • And hours? I put in 60 a week. Why? That’s how much time I usually put into all the facets of my job.babysit1

The result is $18.00 dollars an hour.

babysit2

But there is more math involved!

At $18.00 an hour for four kids, it would need to be higher because I usually deal with 22-30 kids at a time. Actually, in the past few years my class sizes have averaged over 28 students per class. That’s seven times the amount of kids I have would receive $18.00 an hour for babysitting. Maybe if I just multiplied $18 by 7, then I get an adjusted per hour rate of $126.00 an hour.

You know, I will give a markdown. Call it the “unaccountability discount” as Mr. Peck seems to think teachers are unaccountable. Half off! That makes the hourly rate $63.00.

Now, I work on average about 10 hours a school day. Multiplying the new rate ($63.00) by 10 hours and I get a rate of $630 a day. Holy cow! Mr. Peck, I am starting to like your new implied idea of recompense for us babysitters.

My contract stipulates that I teach kids 180 days a year. So my new daily rate ($630) multiplied by the number of contracted days (and if I read your blog correctly, you like for public work to be contracted out), my “yearly” haul to babysit would be $113,400 for the school year.

Praise the Lord!

Now you may say, “Hey, you don’t spend all of your ten hours a day directly with students.” And that may be true, but with coaching, sponsoring, duties, and preparing to have things for your students to do while I babysit them, I can pretty much say that I am still actively engaging with the kids.

And this new rate that you seem to propose doesn’t even include weekends and other days that I spend at “daycare” to prepare to take care of kids.

So, let’s go back to the original question that you posed in your level-headed tweet.

“So, what’s the market rate for an unaccountable degree-holding babysitter?”

The answer is $113,400.

Well done, Tim Peck. Well done.

I’ll take it.

Raleigh’s Real Commitment to “Recruit and Retain Effective Teachers”

The North Carolina Budget and Tax Center released a new report that pretty much verifies what many have said about the true intent on “recruiting and retaining” great teachers under the McCrory administration.

As stated by BTC Director Alexandra Sirota and highlighted in NC Policy Watch on August 17, 2016,

“As children, families, teachers and communities prepare to head back to school, the issue of teacher pay continues to linger in North Carolina. Despite incremental changes in the past two years by state lawmakers to change the structure of pay for teachers and invest more in teacher pay, North Carolina teachers remain near the bottom among their peers in other states for average pay.  Even with the changes to the state’s teacher plan made in the 2016-17 budget, analysis shows that average teacher pay will likely just reach $49,620. That means that many teachers across the state will still earn far below what it takes to make ends meet in their counties” – See more at: http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2016/08/16/new-analysis-nc-teacher-pay-still-mired-near-the-botiom/#sthash.382FYmAq.dpuf .

That’s eye-opening, not just because it reiterates what critics have been rightfully saying about those historic “raises”, but it calls into question that the whole “recruit and retain effective teachers” production is really nothing more than hot air. Look at the following table:

BTC table

It’s not measuring NC teacher salaries against other teachers’ salaries from other states. It’s measuring salaries against comparable workers with similar educational backgrounds. Granted, this table does not show the effects of the recent electioneering raises given for this school year, but will it make much of a difference? Well, if other occupations do the same and raise their pay structures only a little, there will be no difference.

But that is not new information either. Consider the sharp decline in enrollment in teacher education programs in colleges and universities. That’s the first indication that what is being proffered by the current administration as a commitment to recruit and retain teachers is not really much of an effort at all. It’s really political propaganda.

This table reinforces that reality. And private business can continue to find highly qualified individuals who used to be teachers coming into the market so they can make a salary that will allow them to be part of this “Carolina Comeback.”

Gov. McCrory’s recent campaign commercials entitled “Truth” claims that his administration has done more for teacher pay raises than any other state in the country and has reduced unemployment. Information in this report sheds a brighter light on that because it calls into question the quality of pay of the very jobs that McCrory claims have reduced the unemployment rate.

Check this out from the North Carolina Justice Center (http://www.ncjustice.org/?q=budget-and-tax/living-income-standard-2014-boom-low-wage-work-means-many-north-carolinians-dont-make).

“One in five North Carolina families earn too little to afford life’s essentials and move up the economic ladder. A North Carolina family of two adults and two children must earn $52,275 annually to afford housing, food, child care, health care, transportation, taxes and other necessities, based on the Budget & Tax Center’s Living Income Standard (LIS) for 2014.

More than a third of two-adult, two-children families in North Carolina earn less than that, and more than three-fourths of families with one adult and two children fall below the standard, which varies by family size.

People in families with incomes below the LIS are more likely to be women (59 percent), working age (56 percent), and have a high school degree or less (63 percent). Moreover, white North Carolinians are less likely to live under the LIS than North Carolinians of color. Nine percent of the total white population lives below the LIS while 23 percent of the total Latino population does and 14 percent of the African-American population does.”

Over 20% of the students in North Carolina live in poverty. That measure of income is MUCH LOWER than the LIS explained in the previous excerpt.

Teachers in public schools still unflinchingly work with students who face poverty and families who live below the LIS – Living Income Standard. And people in Raleigh measure those teachers based on results that are influenced by the very culture and reality they help shape for the families of these students.

Private businesses do not have to provide services for those who cannot pay for those services. Public schools do, even when they are underfunded and overworked. So in order for McCrory and others in the GOP establishment to really “effectively recruit and retain teachers” here in North Carolina, the information contained in that table will have to be dealt with. Quickly.

That’s the “truth” of the matter.

But you will never see that in one of McCrory’s campaign commercials.

The Book of Leviticus and the Opportunity Grants

A recent NC Policy Watch article by Chris Fitzsimon entitled “More taxpayer funding for voucher schools that openly discriminate against LGBT students and parents” offers yet another example of how taxpayer money is being used to fund schools that are allowed to teach any curriculum they choose. Furthermore, many of these schools are religious schools and can discriminate against certain prospective students based on a variety of criteria, especially sexual orientation or identity.

In this particular article, Fitzsimon focuses on Bible Baptist Christian School in Matthews. He describes the situation:

The school collected more than $100,000 in public support for the 2015-2016 school year to pay for the education of 26 students who signed up for a voucher.

But not all taxpayers have access to the school.  Gay students and students with gay parents are banned from attending Bible Baptist Christian School even though their tax dollars support it.

That’s not an unwritten policy quietly enforced by the admissions office.  It is quite explicit that gay students and students with gay parents are not welcome.

Page 76 of the student handbook of the school includes a “Homosexual Conduct Policy” that makes it clear.

“The school reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to refuse admission to an applicant or to discontinue enrollment of a current student. This includes, but is not limited to, living in, condoning, or supporting any form of sexual immorality; practicing or promoting a homosexual lifestyle or alternative gender identity;”

The handbook lists Bible verses as references for its policies. One of the verses cited to support the anti-LGBT provision is Leviticus 20:13, that reads:

“If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltiness is upon them (http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/2016/07/27/more-taxpayer-funding-for-voucher-schools-that-openly-discriminate-against-lgbt-students-and-parents/). ”

Bible Baptist is not the only fundamentalist religious school that receives tax payer money that is allowed to do this, but the direct use of a Bible verse to validate discrimination seems to be a violation of the separation of church and state. Ironically, churches already are tax exempt, but now those churches with schools can stay tax exempt and use tax payer money to further their doctrines.

The legality and the merits of that are for another post. What I am focused on is the use of a single Bible verse to allow for some students to be denied admission when there are so many other “laws” within the same book of the Bible.

If Bible Baptist Christian School chooses to use the Old Testament Book of Leviticus, one of the books of the Torah, as a basis for admission criteria and student conduct, then it cannot just adhere to just one of the verses and its commands, but all of them. And breaking any of these should be grounds for having to refund the public school system with the very money taken with a voucher to pay for tuition at the private, religious school.

No Red Lobster!

Lev. 11: 9-12 says,

  1. “These shall ye eat of all that are in the waters: whatsoever hath fins and scales in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, them shall ye eat.
  2. And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an abomination unto you:
  3. They shall be even an abomination unto you; ye shall not eat of their flesh, but ye shall have their carcases in abomination.
  4. Whatsoever hath no fins nor scales in the waters, that shall be an abomination unto you.”

One cannot be caught eating at the Red Lobster or other seafood restaurant that serves certain prepared aquatic delicacies. Even if a student is not eating one of the forbidden menu items, watching others do so and not acting to stop it is just as much a sin.

No polyester / cotton blended t-shirts!

Lev. 19:19 says,

  1. Ye shall keep my statutes. Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind: thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed: neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woollen come upon thee.

It doesn’t matter if the t-shirt has the school’s name and a picture of a cross; it breaks the law!

Hair better be done right! And no tattoos.

Lev. 19:27-28 says,

  1. Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard.
  2. Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD.

That’s right. No cutting of beards or tattoos of crosses on arms or legs, or anywhere.

Make sure to discriminate against those who are different.

Lev. 21: 17-21 says,

  1. Speak unto Aaron, saying, Whosoever he be of thy seed in their generations that hath any blemish, let him not approach to offer the bread of his God.
  2. For whatsoever man he be that hath a blemish, he shall not approach: a blind man, or a lame, or he that hath a flat nose, or any thing superfluous,
  3. Or a man that is brokenfooted, or brokenhanded,
  4. Or crookbackt, or a dwarf, or that hath a blemish in his eye, or be scurvy, or scabbed, or hath his stones broken;
  5. No man that hath a blemish of the seed of Aaron the priest shall come nigh to offer the offerings of the LORD made by fire: he hath a blemish; he shall not come nigh to offer the bread of his God.

That’s right. If one is short, has a flat nose, is blind, crippled, has a curved spine, or wears glasses, he is not good enough to become a priest. Would that also mean that one who possesses one of those traits is not qualified to be a student at Bible Baptist? The web site says, “We are dedicated to equipping the saints of God for the 21st century.” Can saints have the aforementioned “deformities”?

No more sports. Or change the balls.

Lev. 11: 6-8 says,

  1. And the hare, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you.
  2. And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you.
  3. Of their flesh shall ye not eat, and their carcase shall ye not touch; they are unclean to you.

Athletes can’t use pigskins. Bible Baptist has an athletic program. Basketballs, volleyballs, and soccer balls used cannot have any leather. That would also include shoes. Athletic shoes in these sports tend to be made of leather.

Associating with mothers who went to church right after the birth of their children.

Lev. 12: 4-5 says,

  1. And she shall then continue in the blood of her purifying three and thirty days; she shall touch no hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying be fulfilled.
  2. But if she bear a maid child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her separation: and she shall continue in the blood of her purifying threescore and six days.

That’s no church for the mother for 33 days after the birth of a boy. For girls it is 66 days.

No eating of fruit from a tree that is less than four years old.

Lev. 19: 23-24 says,

  1. And when ye shall come into the land, and shall have planted all manner of trees for food, then ye shall count the fruit thereof as uncircumcised: three years shall it be as uncircumcised unto you: it shall not be eaten of.
  2. But in the fourth year all the fruit thereof shall be holy to praise the LORD withal.

That might be a lot of wasted fruit, but that is what the verses stipulate.

Your family can not own any land.

Lev. 25: 23 says,

  1. The land shall not be sold for ever: for the land is mine; for ye are strangers and sojourners with me.

There should be no land deeds or evidence of property tax found in any home of any student.

There are many more laws in the other books of the Torah to explain, but if a religious school is to abide by one of them, then should they not abide by all of them? And if someone breaks the rules of the school is the school not allowed to expel the student? Sure. What if the school does not enforce the very statutes that is espouses? Then the penalty may have to be to give back the voucher money to the public schools.

However, there is one fundamental law that comes from the Bible that I think all schools should keep in mind whether public or one of the 336 religious schools or private academies that receive voucher money. That is what Jesus said in Matthew 18 : 2-6.

  1. And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,
  2. And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
  3. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
  4. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.
  5. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.