Saturday, January 06, 2007

I Know You've Missed My Nitpicking of California Educator Magazine... let's discuss the November 2006 issue that's been sitting on my desk for over a month. Rather than try to tie it all into some narrative, allow me to just throw my comments out shotgun-blast style.

1. Why is not even one white male teacher shown with students in this issue? Does CTA have something against white male teachers? I can't feel good about myself unless I see someone that looks like me, and since CTA is all about diversity, I should see at least one white male teacher in its pages. (To be fair, the December 2006 issue sucked, but it did show at least one white male teacher.)

2. From Boss Kerr's column: "The change in leadership in both the House and Senate is very promising for the future of public schools." Sure it is, Babs, if you want everything about education decided in Washington. And if you do, remember that the Dems won't be in charge there forever--which is exactly why you shouldn't want government-run health care, either.

3. Also from Boss Kerr's column: " get rid of President Bush's punitive sanctions against struggling schools and replace them with assistance and support." Just for the record, Babs, perhaps you should outline for us exactly what the law requires regarding struggling schools. Is there really nothing more than punitive sanctions, Babs? Really? Is there no assistance and support? Why would Teddy Kennedy have crafted such a law, Babs?

4. And lastly from Boss Kerr's column: "The new Congress gives us an opportunity to finally repeal the Social Security Offset and the Windfall Elimination Provision, which have unjustifiably lowered retirement benefits for tens of thousands of school employees." Since this relates to Darren's pay, benefits, and/or working conditions, this is an appropriate topic for a union to deal with. However, I don't believe for one second that the WEP, which does materially affect me, will be repealed. Why should the Democrat-controlled Congress give away that money? They've already got the union votes! The unions have nothing else to give them. And if it takes a Democrat-controlled Congress to "finally" repeal these laws, why wasn't it done in all those decades before 1994 when the Democrats controlled Congress?

5. Now on to the Letters section. One teacher, in Rancho Cucamonga--yes, non-Californians, that's a real place!--whines about the College Board's new audit of AP courses, "I want to know what right a private corporation has to dictate curriculum in a public school." Well, genius, I'll tell you. They can dictate it because it's their curriculum. Your school has opted to use their name and reputation to sell a course at your school, and they want to make sure you're not degrading their product and their good name. If rising to their standards is too difficult for you, madame teacher, then don't offer AP coursework to your students--whom you no doubt expect to rise to your standards. And you call this a case of a loss of academic freedom? The loss is that your students have such a dim-witted person as a teacher.

6. Here's a story that warms my just-right-of-center heart. "Call it 'tough love', but the approach at this small, ethnically diverse high school is raising test scores and has earned the campus a Title 1 Achievement Award." What do they do? Wow, let me see. They post grades, don't accept D's as passing, and constantly update parents. The environment is rather strict, the standards are high, and students are meeting the standards. And they have an API score of 733, not far below that of my lily-white, supposedly high-performing school. So, what do we learn from this? Yes, what can we learn from this school? I know! Let's complain about institutionalized racism that's keeping "ethnically diverse" students from succeeding! No, that doesn't fit this story. But wait, isn't that what we're supposed to do? Uh, let's blame George Bush and No Child Left Behind! No, these kids are succeeding. But aren't we supposed to blame the President anyway? I'm so confused!

7. The cover picture is repeated on page 17. I only care because the teacher in the picture is related to one I teach with.

8. In a story titled "November election brings shift in power that could benefit public education" (italics mine--Darren), we revisit the only subject on which NEA/CTA and I agree. "Other issues that could (mine again) come back to the table at the federal level include the Social Security Offset and Windfall Elimination Provision...." They could come back to the table, but they won't. Mark my words.

I can hardly wait to receive the January issue--which I'm not supposed to receive anyway because I'm not a union member. Even NEA's gotten a clue and hasn't sent me their rag for some time.


Anonymous said...

Brilliant commentary -

Mike said...

Just a couple of points here. Why would Ted Kennedy support such a law? Because Democrats like Ted desire nothing more than massive government, run by the truly enlightened such as himself. I'm sure that if he could, Ted would incorporate nation-wide mandatory union membership into NCLB for the same reason.

Why should teachers oppose NCLB? Because federal government control over local education might well be the greatest betrayal of conservative principles one can imagine. For conservatives, the most frightening sentence in the English language remains: "I'm from the federal government and I'm here to help.

Darren said...

Mike, my point about Kennedy was, why would he craft a law that was all stick and no carrot? Methinks Babs knows the answer, but isn't honest enough to say it--because it wouldn't jibe with her narrative.

As for NCLB, I'm all for our republican form of federal government. But as long as the feds spend money on education, there should be *some* accountability attached to it. And let's not forget, the states are *not* required to abide by NCLB. Take the money, take the strings attached to it. Again, until federal spending on education goes away, NCLB is needed.

Anonymous said...

Nothing on my school's profile? No white male teachers were pictured because only 15% of the staff fits that demographic. Also, a white male was on the cover in the previous issue.

Darren said...

tmao, what are you talking about? Who mentioned anything about your school's profile?

Anonymous said...

You said there were no white male teachers featured. My school was featured, and I was explaining that it was probably nothing but probability that influenced the decision -- in those 6 pages, at least -- rather than the lurking spector you were hinting at.

Darren said...

2 points.

1. There was no "lurking spector" I hinted at. Did you not see that I acknowledged white males in the very next issue of the magazine?

2. Were all the pictures of teachers in that issue from your school? If so, I didn't notice that was the case, and your comment about the demographics of your teachers is relevant. If not, well....