I really feel obligated to explain further why I have such problem with Teacher Appreciation Week. Yesterday, a pension deal was negotiated for suburban and downstate teachers that would have them either give up medical care or cost of living increases on their pension despite such reduction in pensions being unconstitutional in Illinois. Sure, it was collectively bargained, but it was done at gunpoint with Madigan’s bill hanging over the teachers’ heads like a sword of Damocles.
This morning, the CPS hearing officer reports on the closing hearings were made public showing serious misgivings about 14 of the actions. Though, I think they should have had misgivings about a lot more schools, CPS was quick to launch their defense. Even though the cost savings have been shown to be fraudulent, CPS will fight for the right to uproot students and layoff teachers, while opening a bunch of new charter schools.
Tonight, educator extraordinaire John Legend will be on PBS as “entertainers, critical thinkers, and experts” discuss education issues. As usual, educators are nowhere to be found. How many of us won a Grammy or ran Microsoft?
So excuse me if I don’t enjoy having people like Students First deceptively ask people to send a teacher a thank you note so that they can count those people as members of Student First next week, when they want to take away my job security or advocated against me.
Forgive me if Arne Duncan’s platitudes give me the same joy a battered wife gets when her husband buys her flowers and says “he loves her and he’ll change.” Forgive me if a letter from a school district falling down on it’s responsibility to provide quality schools for all its students reminds me of a deadbeat parent buying their child a toy instead of making child support payments. I appreciate the gratitude shown by the students who I work with everyday and on occasion, their parents. They don’t need a special week to make me feel what I’m doing is valued and important. That’s why Teacher Appreciation Week just falls flat for me.
“In nine cases, the hearing officers determined Chicago Public Schools had not followed its own guidelines. The district forcefully disagreed with those assertions. The district’s law department immediately posted responses online to hearing officers whose recommendations differed from the district’s own.”
“As a parent of a student in the Chicago Public Schools system, Jeanne Olson felt frustrated. Olson works with data for a living – she’s a qualitative researcher and consultant who lectures on organizational change at Northwestern University’s School of Education and Social Policy. But despite this background, Olson says she found it hard and sometimes impossible to make sense of the ways in which data drives district-wide decisions at CPS.”
“Parents are incredulous for a reason: A 2010 assessment found Trumbull needed $4.9 million in repairs and upgrades. The assessment was itemized, three pages. The new $16 million figure is more than three times higher. There’s no new assessment, nothing in writing.”
“This week America celebrates Teacher Appreciation Week, five days chock-full of poems, gift cards, and discounts for K-12 educators all across the country, and today is also National Teacher Appreciation Day. I appreciate getting a free burrito at Chipotle and homages to Taylor Mali, writer of “What Teachers Make,” as much as the next educator, but the current tenor of our national conversation about education also reminds me of the dire straits our profession is in.”
“It is unlawful to induce undue pressure upon public employees to make an unfair choice. It is a blatant exploitation of influence to obtain an unwarranted advantage – an illegitimacy of the General Assembly’s advantageous attempt to renegotiate a constitutionally-guaranteed contract. Furthermore, the “ironclad” funding assurance for a COLA is uncertain.”