August  2008 ISSUE

We do not make jokes, we simply watch the LA Times, the Orange County Register and CID/HOA board of directors and report the facts!

The CA Teachers Assoc. Responsible Budget Solution Paradox

July 19,   2008                     

Early this month, the California Teachers Association (CTA) launched a new statewide ad campaign calling on lawmakers to put aside partisan politics and give Californians a "real responsible budget solution" - The California Teachers Association posits that a  "responsible budget solution" is to  Tax to Teach.
Describing the ad campaign, the CTA's website reads "Continuing to balance the budget with a cuts-only approach hurts vital services that all Californians need and deserve. Lawmakers must consider revenue increases to fund education and other crucial programs that help children, the poor and working families"

On the other hand,  the Singapore's secondary school curriculum is recognized worldwide for its ability to develop students with critical thinking and intellectual skills.  Their responsible solution?  Teach Less, Learn More -  Teach Less, Learn More is about teaching better, to engage students and prepare them for life, rather than teaching more, for tests and examinations.   According to Education Week reporter Rhea R. Borja Singapore may be doing more than any other country to advance 21st Century Skills through project work and technology (ICT).   "Singaporean educators are finding that technology is useful in fostering more self-directed learning, a shift away from the traditional learn and drill"  writes Borja, in "Singapore's Digital Path", Technology Counts 2004, Education Week, May 6, 2004

 Arguably, with access to the best technology in the world, the CTA's focus has been self-preservation, rather than innovation, with predictable results.

" At a time when California already ranks 46th in per pupil funding and dead last in teachers, counselors and librarians per student, the proposed education cuts would increase class sizes and reduce funding to those programs that target low-income students and those schools that need help the most", read the CTA website" - the implied argument appears to be " It took the CTA more than 30 years to achieve the most dubious distinction of being the worst state in the nation at the time the CTA had all the resources it needed - can you imagine what may happen with less resources"?   How can the CTA focus on teaching students to make sushi rolls or help criminalize home schoolers, for example?

A couple of decades ago we predicted Detroit would reach the dubious distinction it has now achieved, mostly because of its cost structure driven by its management-union relationship.  A few years ago we predicted the CTA would have a similar effect.  We have been right on both counts - not simply a hindsight statement, as our position has been well documented.

Thinking Schools, Learning Nation (TSLN) was adopted as Singapore's Ministry of Education's vision statement in 1997 and continues to be the over-arching descriptor of the transformation in the education system, comprising changes in all aspects of education. " Since 2003, we have focused more on.... nurturing a spirit of Innovation and Enterprise (I&E). This will build up a core set of life skills and attitudes that we want in our students. It promotes the mindsets that we want to see in our students, teacher, school leaders and beyond", reads in part, a  preamble to the Ministry of Education's website.

We continue to argue that the "responsible budget solution"  is a major shift from self-preservation to innovation. Including the promotion of home school, the virtual classroom and even outsourcing.


I couldn't agree more. My Mom and wife are both teachers and I am constantly hearing horror stories of waste and inefficiencies in their schools. Sadly, most of it is mandated from Sacramento or Washington.

I'm convinced the system is so broken that only school vouchers will ever save it. The recent trend of NCLB pushing more and more of these failing schools to charter schools may be the chance school choice advocates need to get the ball rolling. I think it will lead to a more innovative education system and result in higher pay for the large majority of the talented dedicated teachers we have.

What would be lost are the low performing teachers and a huge chunk of the worse-than-useless administration staff that provide union jobs but don't improve education. The union janitor, maintenance crew and gardener would probably be lost as well to a private company for much less.

But the CTA is not the organization to look to for education excellence. Their job is to create and protect CTA union dues paying members. You can't do that with a smaller budget, so it only makes sense that they are out pitching for another tax increase. Dave

Hello All: The “revenue increases” advocated by the California teacher unions are tax increases when California already has among the highest taxes in the country spending far more on public education than most countries and achieving very poor results in many school districts. When I was a very young school teacher in Los Angeles , the teacher union requested that I dumb down my performance evaluation so as to make it meaningless. I refused to do that because I knew I was a better teacher than the performance standards pushed by the union. Somehow, I got tenure anyway because it was the administration making the decision not the teacher union. Teacher unions have destroyed public education and they control the Democrat Party. We pulled our kids out of public schools because what I saw in the Capo district under Fleming and Draper; who we see now were both crooks was pathetic. I called for these characters to be fired and/or removed from office 20 years ago; but no one listened. We now know the end of that story; don’t we?

But I have an even sadder story. The last three years I spent in public education I was the Coordinator for Reading and Language Development Program in an inner city junior high in LA with 2,600 kids. The average reading level in the ninth grade was around third grade. We adopted a school wide phonetic reading program that later was abandoned when the “whole language” approach was adopted that actually resulted in huge gains in the three years that I put the program in place using pre and post testing to measure results. The union would not allow me to share those results with the principal except in cumulative data only because I could see which teachers were really lousy. In a few cases, we actually had some kids go backwards meaning their scores were lower at the end of the year than at the beginning.

In general, however, phonics and focused teaching with using performance metrics worked (like it always has to teach reading) so I walked into the Vice Principals office with great reading scores the last year I spent in public education only to be told that I needed to be careful because if we did too well which meant getting to the 50th percentile (we were at the 35th) on state wide tests that we would lose our federal money and that meant the loss of many jobs for the school. This 40 year old white woman Vice Principal was telling me at 28 years old in essence that the jobs that came with federal money were more important than actually teaching these poor Mexican kids to read. “I needed to see the big picture” she said. It was right after that meeting that I decided to leave teaching because as a quasi-administrator at 28 years old with a Masters Degree in Education Administration, I would have become that mediocre, stupid Vice Principal at 40. I knew I could do more with my life and the rest is history. Actually that idiot woman did me the biggest favor of my life. My liberal idealism was shattered and it allowed me to move on and never look back. JM

P.S. By the way that November in 1979, I was working at Merrill Lynch and voted for Ronald Reagan, the first Republican and a conservative that I ever voted for to get rid of Jimmy Carter, the buffoon that we see today. Of course, I have never voted for a Democrat since then. I have many more public school stories; but I might be called “disgruntled” if I tell them all.

Christian P. Milord in the Red County’s National Blog has an interesting thread he titled: "E Pluribus Unum" Turned Upside Down.

The premise and his conclusion are copied below:

Each time I open a copy of "California Educator," (magazine published by the California Teachers Association), I get a momentary feeling that I'm in Latin America. Since September, 2007, CTA President David A. Sanchez has titled his monthly column in Spanish, and then he pens the monthly article in English. I wrote to the CTA about this matter several months ago, but never got a response.

Instead of trying to reverse, "Out Of Many, One," Sanchez should encourage school communities to unite under American civic virtues. He could be less divisive if he titled his message in English, which is the language that immigrants yearn to learn:


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