Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Hey CTA, I'm paying you. The least you could do is tell the truth.

It must have been the e-mail that had huge font.

"Nancy Pelosi and George Miller are no longer friends of the CTA. They are trying to get a bill passed that links teacher salaries to testing! We can't let this stand! Rise up and prepare the Dogs of War to battle! Remember the Alamo! Truth, Justice and the American Way!", or something like that.

Of course, this immediately made me cast doubt. My guess was that the local CTA rep, a guy who makes it always look like Sacramento and the local school districts are on the level of the Chinese Communist Party, was simply feeding into the NCLB re-authorization frenzy. So, irritated but calm, I went home and started to do a little research.

Then came my wife came home, flying through the door, enraged and going on about a CTA e-mail that said that test scores would determine her salary. First of all, you link test scores to salary and you will lose teachers, period. While NCLB is correct in holding schools more accountable, it is implemented in a fashion that makes you wonder if Cliff Clavin is the man in charge. It would reward schools in affluent districts and punish schools with Second Language Learners, Special Education students, and the economically disadvantaged students. Plus, I don't like the idea that my pay could be attached to some asshole parent that simply signs her kid out of the test because she hates the Principal or reads a column from that moron K.C. Meadows. So my wife and I calmed down and called the office of Rep. George Miller. The lady on the phone was aware that the CTA was in a panic mode, and was clearly confused at why the union had decided to go on the defensive. She pointed us to the document, which isn't a bill, isn't an amendment, but a draft sheet of a possible proposal..........aka, it's really nothing.

We investigated the document and found that the proposal isn't a connection between test scores and pay, it's a voluntary bonus incentive program. Highlights:

-performance pay bonuses of up to $10,000 for outstanding teachers.....The evaluation criteria must be developed in collaboration with local teacher unions and based on multiple measures of success including student learning gains, principal evaluations, and master teacher evaluations, based on objective criteria.

-Competitive grants for high-need school districts to establish career ladder programs that increase salaries for those teachers who expand their knowledge and skills and take on additional responsibilities or leadership roles within the school. Teachers who serve as master teachers as part of a state-of-the-art induction program can receive up to $10,000 annually while mentor teachers can receive up to $5,000 annually.

I don't get it. This is asking, requiring, that unions collaborate with the district in creating criteria that will get good teachers a bonus for good teaching, and did I mention, THIS PROGRAM IS ENTIRELY VOLUNTARY!!!!!!!!! It is voluntary to the district and voluntary to teachers! Then, oh my God, you are telling that if a teacher decides to increase their knowledge or skill base, THEY COULD MAKE MORE?????? Ok, where do I sign up?

Seriously, you make a fair evaluation of what an "outstanding teacher" is and I'll be in line for this program. I'm confident that the administration that would be evaluating me (management) would do so with regards to high standards and quality teaching. I'm fairly confident (you might call it arrogance) that I would pass the evaluation. If not, then I'm sure that I could do what is necessary for a nice financial incentive that will be ON TOP of my regular salary. Oh, and what about the career ladder program? Let's see, this summer I:

-attended a two day San Francisco Federal Reserve Conference
-attended a five day Seattle Advanced Placement Conference
-attended a seven day Teaching American History Workshop
-began the three year Teaching American History Program
-attended a five day workshop on developing curriculum in Social Studies in Santa Rosa
-took a class on the Roots of Terrorism
-took a class on Van Gogh's Impact on Impressionism
-took a class on Urban Transportation in U.S. History
-Created the Advanced Placement Comparative Government class at the high school (after creating International/Global Studies last summer)

Oh, I don't know, I think that I'm working towards bettering myself as a teacher for the benefit of students. I don't see a damn thing wrong with the government saying, "You know what, you deserve something extra for showing that you really want to be the best", since the CTA hasn't done a goddamn thing to acknowledge that fact but continue to raise my tax to that corrupt corporation.

However, this is why I decided to be a site rep for my local union. This morning I sent a letter to the local powers-that-be and told them that the message was a lie. Then I told them the truth. I then sent a message to all the teachers at my site and told them the same thing. After all, unlike the CTA, I realize that I represent them, the membership. It is their money the union spends. The least we could do is tell them the truth.
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