I was Done (Part IV… sigh)

Shiny Mysterious Object

This was not supposed to be an education blog.

It was definitely not supposed to be a bitter, pissed-off, ranting blog.

I meant to write about the mundane events of life, peppered with a bit of dry humor, and excessive references to my dog.

But this teaching thing… Just. Won’t. Stop.

I was going to take spring break to ignore all things Luna. I planned my escape to Portland where it wouldn’t be on the news, and I was going to go with the ‘ignorance is bliss’ idea for seven or eight days.

But I had to check. The third bill (the one that was so flawed that it had actually been stalled in the senate committee and a few over-confident people believed it would die there), that bill had been re-written again, and was going forward. So I had to take a little peek. And I found this:

I’m pulling from two articles from KTVB.com found here and here but this is the important thing-

Third education reform bill passes through committee

It passed the Senate Education Committee last week, the House Education Committee yesterday, and now goes to the House for a full vote. Gee, I wonder how that will go?

Mr. Luna had to rewrite this bill twice, and the second time was supposed to include some pretty major changes. So, I tried to find out exactly what the changes were.

 

Luna: The plan redirects money in the schools budget for salaries to fund new technology in the classroom and a teacher pay-for-performance plan

The biggest change is no mandate for cutting teaching positions or increasing class sizes.  The original bill increased class sizes and eliminated 770 teaching positions.

Committee Chair Goedde says getting rid of that mandate creates a funding hole because that piece is what paid for the already passed Pay for Performance bill and other budget items, like technology.  Instead, districts will get less money [for teacher salaries] and decide how to handle it.

“This bill gives local school districts the responsibility of finding how best that formula fits in their own district, whether it’s less teachers (did you mean fewer teachers there, Mr. Goedde?) or furlough days for teachers or some change in benefits or some combination of all those three, it will be up to local trustees to make the tough decisions,” Education Committee Chairman Senator John Goedde (R-Coeur d’Alene) said.


Well played, Mr. Luna. Parents were most upset about the idea of bigger class sizes and losing teachers in order to pay for technology. No more mandate. Done and done. Look Idaho, you still get technology (and merit pay), and no schools have to lose teachers or increase class sizes! Money will simply be reallocated from salaries to technology. If individual districts choose to fire teachers or increase class sizes, Mr. Luna, you are off the hook, you gave them a choice. Each district, of course, will have the option of just cutting salaries. And if any districts did choose to increase class sizes, and not reduce salary, it’s not your fault… it is the selfishness of those teachers who are fairly refusing to put students first as you’d have them do.

What about the part where you were going to increase base pay Mr. Luna? What is this bill going to do in the districts that are already starting under $30,000?  Cut more from those teachers instead?  I guess that’s just the breaks, right?  And we would all do well to remember that this is for the kids, and maybe we should be thankful that they are going to get so many more opportunities now, with money for laptops and online classes.

Oh, wait….

 

Another change from the original bill, Goedde says high schoolers won’t be required to take online courses.  He says the State Board of Education will make rules on online courses and other use of the Internet in education.

That would include the Board reviewing online class options to make sure they fit Idaho requirements.

The new bill will not include giving each student a laptop, at least not right away.  Teachers would get laptops in the first year of the program (2013), and students would start getting them over the following three years.


So… you’re saying this money that was so necessary for technology that it was for the greater good to take it from the teachers’ salaries, it is not going to any new technology for the students next year?

In fact, two years from now teachers would be the first to get laptops? Excuse me, what?  Can you explain that piece of genius?

And, drumroll please…

“Once an educator has a laptop and knows what it can do and feels comfortable, I think there will be less resistance to incorporate technology into their lesson plans,” Goedde said.


He may have a point there, because at this moment I am feeling very uncomfortable with my laptop. I am reading this article on it, my hands are a little shaky, and I dearly want to pick up the laptop and hurl it at the wall. If only I could understand what it could do!!  If only there was some way to use these lettered keys to express myself instead, and perhaps even to send my feelings and concerns out into cyberspace….

*#$@.

@*&$$#@*@!!

Nope. Haven’t got that hang of it yet. I’ll keep practicing.

I tip my hat to you as well Mr. Goedde. All this time the state’s teachers have questioned the technology bill, I thought it was because they, like me, worried that it was rushed, poorly planned, and generally an inane piece of legislation. Thank you for making it clear to the public that this resistance comes from teachers’ fear of technology.

I was not aware that Idaho’s teaching profession was overrun with geriatric technophobes. If that’s the case, then we’re doubly screwed. Once those who are so “resistant to incorporating technology into their lesson plans” retire, there won’t be any new teachers to replace them, because any young teacher with an inkling of their own worth will have left the state.

“Are we going to satisfy everyone’s concerns?  No, but I feel comfortable that we have not given away the real intent, the real direction of this… ” Goedde said.

Mr. Luna, Mr. Goedde, I agree completely. The real direction, the true intent of  your “Education Reform” has become very clear. You have railroaded the legislation through and discredited and demonized the teacher’s union. You’ve made deeper cuts to education, put a bow on it, and called it a gift. A sweeping reform to move Idaho forward, reward teachers, and create 21st century classrooms. It would be great, if it was even remotely close to what the reality will be.

This will be my last “Bad Teacher” post. The trilogy that became a saga.  I can tell you roughly what the rest will look like… This bill will also pass the house and be signed into law by Gov. Otter.  The small but fervent effort to repeal both Mr. Luna and the three bills will be moving but will ultimately fall short of its goal. Year one of the reform won’t bring technology into the classrooms, and we’ll see how long it takes to get merit pay figured out, but it will create more loss than gain. So in my district, we will be resourceful and put our students first like we always do. There will be a salary cut, or a few more furlough days, and we will hope for the best.

But I know Im not the only one who would be feeling a lot better right now if this had been called what it was. “A budget crisis” not “an education reform.”

Have you ever watched kids playing ‘Uncle’ or ‘Mercy’?  It’s been around for way too long (because who passes along cruel, bullying games to their offspring?), but the object is for one person to twist the other’s arm up behind their back, and apply increasing pressure until the pinned person cries “Uncle” or “Mercy.”  I, of course, would never watch kids playing this game, as my job entails maintaining their safety, but I can remember it from my own childhood. Holding out longer may show that you are tough, and the temptation may arise to stay silent, come tears or dislocated shoulder, but at some point, the bully’s dominance is affirmed, and if you’re smart, you just make sure you aren’t around for round two.

Uncle, Mr. Luna.



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~ by Lindsey on March 30, 2011.

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