Saturday, October 15, 2005

Shot Across The Bow: Here's Where I Start Rocking The Boat

In other postings on this blog I've told you about Ed Code Section 38118 and how we violate it daily at my school. We also violate other related ed code sections as well as state court, including state supreme court, rulings on the topic. What follows in an excerpt from an email I just sent to a fellow conservative, an email in which I tried to give a conservative teacher's point of view about a ballot initiative in next month's special election. This email clip was one example of how a particular ballot initiative could, if enacted, be extremely harmful. This is an explosive topic--there will be follow-on posts in the future.

But why would a principal want to fire a teacher?
I'll tell you that, based on experience, far more
teachers will be fired for ideological differences
with the principal than will ever be fired due to
ineffectiveness. Some of the teachers you most want
working with your own children--those who advocate for
children (especially the kids whom it isn't popular or
easy to advocate for), those who identify problems to
solve, those who believe in firm but fair discipline,
those who believe in direct instruction while the
administrator believes in "cooperative learning" or
holistic learning--these are the teachers who will be
forced from the profession. Literally.

Prop 74 will be a weapon used to remove those who rock
the boat, not necessarily those who are ineffective.

I'd like to share a personal example. I'm preparing
to rock the boat in a *big* way.

My school charges illegal fees for students to take
classes or participate in activities. State ed code,
as well as several state lower court and supreme court
decisions (Hartzell vs. Connell is the most famous),
are extremely clear that charging fees for classes or
sports/cheerleading activities is against the state
constitution and state law. Yet we do it anyway. Our
ceramics teacher charges a "lab fee", and students
tell me that those who do not pay not only fail the
course, but their work will not even be graded. Our
photography teacher charges a similar fee. Our
computer teacher charges a "materials fee." Our
cheerleaders tell me they have to pay over $1000 a
year in fees just to be on the team. There are plenty
of other examples on campus, I use these few just to
make the point. But then there's this: making
matters worse, it's often our school's financial
office/controller that collects the money!

This must stop. Not only is it illegal, it's immoral.
Those who cannot afford to pay are necessarily cut
off from part of the school curriculum. By charging
these fees we create a stratified education system at
our school, one for the haves and one for the
have-nots. And at our lily-white school, a large
percentage of the have-nots are non-white.

This is my third year at the school. For each of the
last two years I've discussed this situation with my
principal. He's aware of the situation but *he*
doesn't want to rock the boat with the teachers and
coaches involved.

I am preparing to rock the boat.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have coached at our local high school for four years (this being my last year) and recently left a teaching position in San Jose for the ideological differences you have described. The local high school - not in San Jose - collected "participation fees" for the sports programs while I was coaching and actually asked me to collect the fees the first three years - which I refused to do. I also pointed out to the school that the fees were illegal and it was a conflict of interest for any coach to collect these fees. Ironically, my daughter is now at the school and I have taken a stand against the participation fee for her. I will be asking the person collecting the fees, if pushed, to provide me with a letter from the school district, signed by the superintendent and principal at the school, stating that the fees are required for the sports activities. I will then being looking for an attorney. To make matters worse, our football team travelled out of state last year (half way across the country) to play an exhibition game and will be doing the same thing this year. How can "participation fees" be justified with such a situation - even if the football team were to raise a "majority" of the money from fund raisers and parent participation. The football team will still maximize their allocation from the general fund which impacts all other sports. I won't even approach the Title IX violations ... I am not lost on the irony that I am also a conservative in a lost land - trying to defend the rights of students against a more liberal establishment.