I haven't been a union member in about a year and a half, yet they still send me their rag. Don't they know I don't have a birdcage to line? Still, it's nice to get some ideas for a blog post, so here you go.
Not feeling well this weekend, I only glanced through this issue--don't know that I am up to a thorough reading in my weakened condition. Even still, I found a couple gems.
On page 25 is a story about the upcoming reauthorization of NCLB. It turns out that "CTA has established an ESEA Reauthorization Campaign Task Force..." "Many CTA members have felt helpless under the weight of this badly crafted law," says the task for chair. Really? Exactly which sections have been such a burden? As I've pointed out too many times to count, California's testing requirements not only predate NCLB but are more stringent than NCLB. So it can't be that. Let's see what CTA says will help:
1. Accountability that rewards success and supports educators in helping students learn. I'll agree that the system can use some tinkering here, and have written about that before (click on the NCLB label below to find other posts on the topic). I like California's system of insisting on continued improvement towards a goal. On the other hand, I understand those who say that giving 12 years to reach a goal should be enough--and NCLB doesn't mandate having to reach its goals until 2014, after it's been in effect for 12 years! However, 100% isn't a reasonable goal to require. It's a good goal towards which we should strive, and we should show continuous improvement towards that goal, but expecting every single child in the country to reach any goal seems a bit unreasonable to me. However, I genuinely believe that CTA wants merely to water down any standards and goals we have to the level of uselessness. They want no accountability at all--which is why they constantly look for every excuse in the book except teachers to explain poor student performance.
2. Smaller class sizes to improve student achievement. Is there any valid evidence at all to show that smaller class sizes improve student achievement? This doesn't at all mean that I myself wouldn't like to have smaller classes--I have several that have about 35 students (readers outside of California will be shocked by that number, those inside California won't even bat an eyelash). But we shouldn't mandate something that expensive without some evidence that we're getting more for our money than a teacher's comfort.
3. Quality educators in every classroom and school. CTA fought against NCLB's requirement for highly qualified teachers, and against California's definition of a highly qualified teacher. So what are they really saying they want here, besides higher pay?
4. Increased parental and family involvement in schools. This is such hypocritical nonsense. Here's what CTA says: "Congress can help provide programs that strengthen the link between families and schools, and develop incentives or requirements for employers to make parental participation in school activities more feasible for workers." Besides offering no specifics on what they're suggesting, the CTA has fought for the biggest law that weakens "the link between families and schools"--the law that requires schools to let children leave school, without parental consent or even notification, to get an abortion.
5. Adequate resources to ensure a quality education for every student. In other words, more money. Not a federal responsibility.
Enough of that. On page 26 is a story about a program that allows for teachers to make home visits. I can't imagine a more invasive, paternalistic, holier-than-thou program. What qualifies teachers to make any assessments about students based on what they see at home? While it might give some insight into the student--based on the teacher's own biases about what he/she sees--what exactly is he/she supposed to do with that insight? The requirements and standards for the student remain the same. This sounds to me like leftie, feel-good pablum that allows the teacher to continue to make excuses for poor student performance.
On page 31 is a story about an event that I'll bet most teachers didn't even know about, and probably still don't know about. Apparently, CTA's state council has elected new leadership. The tour of duty of the old president, Barbara "Cigarettes and whisky voice" Kerr, is up, the vice president has taken his rightful (hereditary) place as president, and the secretary has ridden the escalator to the vice presidency. The key point about this "democratic" organization, the California Teachers Association: "Both were running unopposed." The secretary-treasurer's position will be filled at a meeting later this month.
Can you see why I have no desire to be a part of this organization?