Saturday, November 17, 2018

Teacher's Rule or Suck

I read this in the New York Tines and thought yes that is a Southern thing, the contradiction coupled with the conundrum when it comes to education.   Which may be why Tennessee always ranks in the bottom ten when it comes to education, they don't know the meaning of either word.

Voters Widely Support Public Schools. So Why Is It So Hard to Pay for Them?

By Dana Goldstein
The New York Times
Nov. 14, 2018

If it were going to happen any year, it should have been this one. After a wave of teacher walkouts fired up people on both sides of the party line, the time seemed ripe for big investments in public schools.

In reality, the results for school funding after the midterm elections last week were mixed, and illustrate a paradox in how Americans view education.

Polls showed that the public supported the picketing teachers across the country who protested low pay and classroom funding. And a diverse group of candidates, Democratic and Republican, were elected after casting themselves as education champions. But many voters, particularly in conservative and swing states, were unwilling to open their wallets to send state tax dollars to educators and classrooms.

And in some states where education funding is among the lowest nationwide, voters approved ballot measures that will make it even harder to direct money to schools in the future.

“Taxes are just a very difficult conversation,” said Amie Baca-Oehlert, president of the Colorado Education Association, the state’s largest teachers’ union. Coloradans, after seeing teachers walk out in April over school funding, rejected a ballot initiative last week to pay for schools by raising corporate taxes and personal income taxes on those earning over $150,000 a year.

Those voters also elected a Democratic governor, Jared Polis, who supports sending more money to schools, and flipped control of the State Senate from red to blue. But legislators’ hands will be tied when it comes to raising revenue: Colorado requires all tax increases be approved directly by voters.

Overall funding in the state is below the national average by more than $2,000 per student. Colorado has a teacher shortage and the nation’s largest gap between the salaries of teachers and those of other professionals with similar qualifications and hours, according to a report by the Education Law Center. But the state’s economy is booming, with an influx of jobs in the tech and marijuana industries.

A perennial challenge for public school advocates, Ms. Baca-Oehlert said, was getting the political messaging right.

“There is complexity to it. It’s hard to talk about school funding in a 30-second political ad,” she said. “It was about a person-to-person conversation, talking to your friends and neighbors. And we have to continue to do that.”

Ms. Baca-Oehlert added that with the failure of the tax measure, her union would push policymakers to support educators in other ways, perhaps through affordable housing or student loan forgiveness for teachers.

In Arizona, another state where teachers walked out, voters rejected the expansion of a program that would allow tax dollars to pay for private school tuition, a win for traditional public schools. But they overwhelmingly approved a ballot initiative that prohibits new state or local taxes on personal services, such as real estate sales and beauty treatments.

The initiative torpedoed a potential source of school funding in a state with some of the lowest corporate and income taxes in the nation. Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, and his Democratic challenger, David Garcia, both opposed the measure.

Crystal Markowsky is a parent of three public school students in Chandler, Ariz., outside Phoenix. A political independent, she protested alongside her children’s teachers last spring, and ended up voting largely for Democrats this year, because, she said, she was concerned about education and women’s issues.

Ms. Markowsky said that she had opposed the tax ban, but only reluctantly, and that she generally supported lower taxes on services.

Ultimately, the approval of the tax ban, she said, as well as the re-election of Mr. Ducey, who bested a candidate running as a progressive champion of teachers, demonstrated that Arizona remains fundamentally conservative, despite talk of a diversifying, more liberal electorate there.

“It’s a red state where we just want low taxes at the cost of anything,” Ms. Markowsky said.

Even voters in swing states like North Carolina and Florida balked at the prospect of raising taxes. North Carolina, another walkout state, approved a ballot measure to lower the income tax cap allowed by the State Constitution. Voters in Florida passed a measure to require a two-thirds majority of the State Legislature to pass new taxes and fees or raise existing ones. Similar laws in other states have made it difficult to direct money to schools.

A spotlight on the people reshaping our politics. A conversation with voters across the country. And a guiding hand through the endless news cycle, telling you what you really need to know.

The teachers’ movement was not without its wins last week. Voters did open their pocketbooks for local classrooms, if not for those statewide. In Miami; Toledo, Ohio; Charleston, W.Va.; and other cities, they raised or renewed municipal taxes to finance their own districts, demonstrating that the most popular school spending, unsurprisingly, happens closest to home.

Leaders of teachers’ unions also pointed to the success of Democratic candidates for governor in Wisconsin, Michigan, Kansas and New Mexico, all of whom emphasized investing in schools.

But they acknowledged that a message of taxing the rich to pay for education had not yet hit home in states with conservative or libertarian leanings.

“There was a sense that after the teacher strikes, we would have a wave of electoral victories in every single place in the nation,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, one of two national unions. Those expectations, she added, were never realistic given deep and persistent national divides.

Lily Eskelsen GarcĂ­a, president of the National Education Association, the other national union, celebrated the fact that Democrats and Republicans alike ran campaigns unreservedly in favor of public education. It wasn’t long ago when members of both parties were more likely to criticize public schools and teachers as ineffective.

“Now what we have is a whole bunch of folks who made promises” to support schools, she said. “Some of them were real promises, and some were big fat liars. What we’re going to do is keep score.”

I want to point out Tennessee did not participate in any walkout for reasons explained here, then Governor Haslam went on a listening tour which means nothing as he was a lame duck so what is the point, his replacement is a follower of Jesus and supports vouchers and the Education Chief, Candace McQueen, vacated her spot this week to go do damage elsewhere.   Candace is a prize winning idiot who came up with the best bullshit I have ever heard why TN Ready tests were collapsing across the state - Russian hacking to a dump truck crashing and severing power lines.  There was no evidence of either but the blogger from the Tennessee Education Report does a bang up job mocking her skill set of bullshit quite often.

That said they lie here like a rug lie here and sometimes after hearing the lies I have to lie down on a rug to compose myself.  Again as I walk into the schools which I call Dumpsters as this is a shithole and I am a human colostomy bag it is a day that one needs to remind oneself that there is a lot of bullshit here.  Clean up Aisle 9!

Again after being in lockdown over two hours with a sole student as I had not gone to the bathroom, had keys in which to do so, not had lunch as I was covering for two Teachers so I had a rotating crew of kids (most did not show and they walked out once they realized I did not give a shit, there's that theme) and no one was communicating with me what was going on.  This was following a day when there had four schools with bomb threats and that same morning another school (that I had been to once and is not just a dumpster but a dump) also had a bomb threat that led to an evacutation for over two hours you become exhausted. But in Nashville this is just another day here.  And why I no longer work full time. I would end up wearing adult diapers.

Most of the schools here are staffed by new Teachers or those close to retirement so not rocking the boat is essential. There is a culture here of fear and retaliation and frankly again that defines the Nashville Way, resentment coupled with an undercurrent of nastiness.  Maybe that is Southern Hospitality, just ask Marsha Blackburn our new Senator.

But I read this essay in The Bitter Southerner and it explains again what I have thought about Education here and their beliefs about children and particularly children who are poor/of color and not of the heritage.  Family is everything here, where you come from, your family tree and particularly the role of the Matriarch is what determines one's worth and role.  Welcome to 1950.

Believe the Teachers
by Adam Jordan and Todd S. Hawley
The Bitter Southerner 

If you had your eyes open in the checkout aisle in late September, you might have seen the cover of Time magazine’s issue on teacher pay. Time highlighted the stories of 13 public school teachers — along with their salaries and working conditions.

While this issue caught our eyes for obvious reasons, there was a personal connection, too. One of the three covers (at right above) featured a wonderful lady by the name of NaShonda Cooke of Raleigh, North Carolina. As Adam was walking through the grocery store in South Carolina, he did a double-take when he saw NaShonda’s picture on the cover. Adam and NaShonda were classmates at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in a master’s program in special education for experienced teachers. For a few minutes, it was nice to feel a sense of pride in seeing a friend who has sacrificed so much for the profession highlighted for her hard work.

For those of you who haven’t read the Time piece, NaShonda is special educator of nearly 20 years who earns an approximate annual salary of $69,000. She also disclosed being a single mother of two wonderful girls, one of whom is on the autism spectrum and in need of additional support. In the piece, NaShonda revealed her inability, as a single mother, to keep pace with the demands of housing costs, living expenses, and childcare commitments with only her teaching salary to support her. Nevertheless, NaShonda expressed tireless love and support for the profession. This is where supporters on social media rolled in, thanking her for her commitment to children and for her honesty and openness in the Time article.

And then came a stubborn old word: but. “We believe you’re having a hard time, but…”

NaShonda received a great deal of criticism both in social media spaces and on conservative media outlets. The usual counternarratives involved either one or some combination of:

Teachers don’t budget well.

Teachers have summers off.

Teachers have good insurance.

Teachers aren’t the brokest folks in our economy.

And (our personal favorite): If teachers want to make more money, they should not be teachers.

Those criticisms prompted this column. Perhaps it is our dedication to a longstanding Southern code of defending the folks you love. Maybe it is our dedication to teachers and their profession. But we cannot sit silently on this one.

Here are some facts, for those who still appreciate them:

On average, teachers are paid about 19 percent less than similarly educated professionals.

Teachers don’t have summers off; students do. Teachers spend these months updating licenses, taking professional development courses, and planning for the next school year. Folks seem to think lessons just plan themselves.

Teachers are skilled, rigorously trained professionals. If you disagree, we look forward to seeing you in a highly ranked teacher- preparation program sometime soon. Should be a breeze, right? Unless you don’t think you could live on a teacher’s salary.

If you’re wondering how the South stacks up in terms financial support of teachers, the answer is pretty dang awful. In September, the financial site WalletHub released its list of the best and worst states in which to teach. The highest ranking Southern state is Virginia, at 12. Kentucky is 18th and Texas 19th. After that, the South is nowhere in sight until we get to Georgia at No. 30. South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Louisiana, and North Carolina, in that order, hold down spots 45 through 49.

Why are our teachers struggling to pay living expenses, and why is the South such a tough place to be a teacher?

First, we have to acknowledge the South is growing, and the cost of living is increasing. State governments are not providing teachers with the raises needed to keep pace with increasing cost of living. Take NaShonda’s situation in Raleigh, where the average home sells for more than $230,000. Teachers are often priced out of the communities they serve. When we factor in family budget issues, like healthcare and childcare, the picture gets even darker. Childcare alone, for just one child, may take as much as 10 percent of a family’s budget. In other words, we continually ask teachers, and everyone else in their tax bracket, to do more with less. That’s a mathematic reality in 2018.

Second, though, it is time we analyze some of our more empty rhetoric about public education not just in the South, but also across the country. As a culture, Americans support teachers with our words but not our wallets. We want our teachers to be “highly qualified,” but we also feel we may challenge the decisions teachers make, based on our non-expert opinions. Few other fields tolerate the loud advice of non-qualified professionals as educators do. We do not stand over the shoulder of the electrician and tell him he’s got his wires crossed. We don’t stop our doctors and tell them they don’t know how to read our blood-test results. We don’t tell engineers they’re building the bridge wrong. Somehow, though, we allow a culture where it is okay to tell teachers their teaching decisions are terrible, their teacher-designed evaluation measures are bogus, and that “newfangled math” is hocus-pocus.

We have to stop this. We have to start believing teachers, we have to start trusting teachers, and we have to start paying teachers. No “buts” about it.

A few months ago, EdWeek released a poll where folks responded to the question, “Would you want your child to become a public school teacher?” The publication's data go as far back as 1969, when the number was an overwhelming 75 percent yes. This year, for the first time ever, we’ve crossed the line: 54 percent of parents in 2018 do not want their children to grow up to be public school teachers. We see this in university orientation sessions all the time. The most frequent question we get from parents and students inquiring about a education major is, “How much money do graduates make?” In teaching, we simply show the numbers, which are symbolic of the value we place on teachers and teaching, and we often watch brilliant folks with a spark for teaching choose the business school or the health sciences instead.

If we want a society where the NaShonda Cookes of the world — brilliant and dedicated teaching specialists — can thrive, we have to stop blaming teachers and support them instead. Teachers should be paid on par with other professionals of equal training and societal responsibility. Period.

With that, we ask fellow Bitter Southerners to help us shift this narrative, particularly in the South, where teachers do not have access to collective bargaining through teachers' unions and often face underfunded and underappreciated conditions. Let’s have big goals, but let’s start small. NaShonda Cooke was attacked on social media, and we believe social media is a powerful conduit for awareness.

When we were young, our Southern parents had a frequent response to any ridiculous tale we were spinning up to stay up late, stay over at a friend's house, or just generally convince them to let us do something we couldn’t normally do. We can still hear it now: “Do what now?” Any Southern child knows, this means you better start revising that story because your folks are on to your baloney and you better shape up.

With this, we would like to propose two hashtags be used in the fight for teachers: #DoWhatNow and #BelieveTeachers.

We have to take this conversation by storm. We have to respond to ridiculous attacks on the profession, and we have to do this together.

When teachers say they are struggling, believe them. When teachers say they are underpaid, believe them. When the parents of this country say they don’t want their children growing up to be teachers, believe them.

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