Friday, June 27, 2008

Search Is on for Nation's Worst Teachers

The following piece appeared in School Reform News. To learn more about the contest go to Teachers Union Exposed. To read some of the submissions click here.

Search Is on for Nation's Worst Teachers

Written By: Jillian Melchior
Published In: School Reform News
Publication Date: June 1, 2008
Publisher: The Heartland Institute
Urinating in a bottle and leaving it in a public school administrator's office sounds like something a particularly ill-behaved middle-school boy might do.

Unfortunately, it's just one of the stunts pulled by an unidentified, tenured schoolteacher that earned him a nomination for the Worst Teacher in America contest, sponsored by the Center for Union Facts (CUF). CUF is a nonprofit organization created to "show Americans the truth about today's teachers unions," its Web site says.

CUF launched the campaign in March to find the 10 worst teachers nationwide, taking out full-page ads in The New York Times and USA Today, airing commercials on CNN and Fox News, and buying an 80-foot, seven-story billboard in New York City's Times Square.

"The contest is an effort to jumpstart a conversation about how difficult it is to fire incompetent teachers," explained CUF Communications Director Sarah Longwell. "We're not trying to hurt anybody's feelings, and this is not a witch hunt."

The contest's mastermind, CUF Executive Director Rick Berman, created it to highlight two points: Tenure systems make it impossible to fire incompetent teachers, and teacher unions block needed reform, offering nothing to motivate or reward excellent teachers.

Outraged Response

CUF says it launched the campaign on behalf of all teachers, but teacher unions adamantly disagree.

American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Edward J. McElroy called it "outrageous" in a March 10 statement, writing that his group has long endorsed greater professionalism for teachers and school staff and arguing local affiliates embrace education reforms that improve teaching and learning.

McElroy called Berman "an ethically challenged attack dog," "a shameless lobbyist," and "a coward."

"Berman has a record of using hidden funders to attack groups that contribute a great deal to society," McElroy wrote. "Now he is coming after teachers at a time when most Americans support education and want to make improving education a top national priority. Teachers and the public deserve to know which businesses are bankrolling Berman's despicable tactics, but he is too much of a coward to reveal the source of his funding."

AFT spokesmen refused to comment beyond that, and other teacher unions did not return phone calls requesting comment.

Reward for Quitting

Meanwhile, CUF regularly updates its Web site with lists of nominees for the Worst Teacher award.

The top 10 will receive $10,000 apiece if they quit their jobs and seek employment in a different field, Longwell said. The winners must give CUF permission to use their names; all other nominees will remain anonymous. Nominations must be verifiable--anything from court records to camera phone recordings.

"In terms of the meanness factor, we're trying to advocate on behalf of all the teachers, the good ones--and most of them are good--so they can continue to do the excellent work they're doing," Longwell said. "Can you imagine how demoralizing it would be to get paid the same amount [as a bad teacher]?"

Hundreds of Nominees

The competition will be stiff. Since the contest was launched, hundreds of teachers have been nominated for incidents ranging from the serious (waving guns at store clerks and having prison records) to the silly (like bottling one's own urine).

Overall, the nominations have had a sobering effect, Longwell said.

"More than terrifying, [it's] frequently sad," Longwell explained. "A lot of it is not about extreme circumstances--though some are with teachers who have been violent or sworn at kids--but a lot of it is teachers who don't care, teachers who have sort of quit, but who are still on the job."

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Having Trouble With Math? Teachers Are Too, Study Finds

It is no wonder that the economy is in the state that it is, people are just not being taught simple math skills. To take it one step further I think students are not being taught responsibility or accountability. Students learn from teachers not to be responsible or accountable for their actions, teachers are not accountable for actually educating our children and they fight any form of legislation that holds them accountable. It is no wonder work ethics continue to decline. Students remain in a system for 12 years and see you can keep a well paying job even if you slack off and do a terrible job.


Quote of the Day "Mathematics - the unshaken Foundation of Sciences, and the plentiful Fountain of Advantage to human affairs." ~Isaac Barrow

The following piece appeared on Fox

Having Trouble With Math? Teachers Are Too, Study Finds
Thursday, June 26, 2008

WASHINGTON — For kids to do better in math, their teachers might have to go back to school. Elementary-school teachers are poorly prepared by education schools to teach math, finds a study being released Thursday by the National Council on Teacher Quality.

Math relies heavily on cumulative knowledge, making the early years critical.

The study by the nonpartisan research and advocacy group comes a few months after a federal panel reported that U.S. students have widespread difficulty with fractions, a problem that arises in elementary school and prevents kids from mastering more complicated topics like algebra later on.

The report looked at 77 elementary education programs around the country, or roughly 5 percent of the institutions that offer undergraduate elementary teacher certification.

It found the programs, within colleges and universities, spend too little time on elementary math topics.

Author Julie Greenberg said education students should be taking courses that give them a deeper understanding of arithmetic and multiplication. She said the courses should explain how math concepts build upon each other and why certain ideas need to be emphasized in the classroom.

Teacher candidates know their multiplication tables, but "they don't come to us knowing why multiplication works the way it does," said Denise Mewborn, who heads the University of Georgia department of math and science education.

The university was cited in the report for having an "exemplary program," while nine others met basic requirements. The rest offered too little math coursework or coursework that was considered weak, according to the report.

The University of Georgia requires teacher candidates to take courses to help them understand concepts underlying elementary-school math, as well as math courses not designed for teachers.

The report found significant differences in the number and kind of courses required by each education program.

Education schools also are not being selective enough, the report stated. Most require applicants to take an admissions test, usually around their sophomore year of college. But the test, which typically includes reading, writing and math sections, is far too easy, according to the report.

"Almost anyone can get in. Compared to the admissions standards found in other countries, American education schools set exceedingly low expectations for the mathematics knowledge that aspiring teachers must demonstrate," said the report.

U.S. children often fall in the middle or bottom of the pack when compared to other students on international math tests.

Jane West, vice president of government relations for the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, said her organization had not received a copy of the report Wednesday. The National Council on Teacher Quality plans to release it publicly at a news conference Thursday.

The report also criticized the tests education students take when they complete their coursework, which are generally relied on by states in granting teacher licenses. In many cases, the prospective teachers are judged on an overall score only, meaning they could do badly on the math portion but still pass if they do well in the other areas.

Since states oversee the preparation of the nation's school teachers, the report recommends they set tougher coursework and testing standards.

Francis Fennell, the past president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, said the report fails to examine the math instruction students receive while attending community colleges, where many elementary-school teachers start their higher education.

He also said the study's authors should have surveyed teachers to get their views on how well prepared they were to teach math.

Fennell, who instructs teacher candidates in math at McDaniel College in Westminster, Md., said a common area of weakness among his students is fractions — the same subject the national math panel described as a weak area for kids. "Part of the reason the kids don't know it is because the teachers aren't transmitting that," he said.

To boost teachers' understanding of math, the math departments at universities ought to place more emphasis on training educators, Fennell added.

Please visit the Fox News website to view the chart attached to the story.

A short break.

My son will be a year old soon so I thought it was time to take a few days off from blogging and get to the papers that have been piling up on my desk. I also had two boxes of papers that I have been meaning to file for some time as well. I was amazed at the decrease in blog hits because of the short break that I took. Actually I am not sure if it is that or just summer approaching. Our Blog like our old CRAFT website gets more hits during the school year and a good majority from "teachers." Speaking of the old website I really need to update it but my children have been keeping me busy. We still get a number of hits to that site so I should keep it up to date when possible.

Yesterday Alexander took his first unsupported steps he was able to walk about six steps before falling down. Anastasia was 8 1/2 months when she started to walk so I was surprised that it took Alexander so long since he has been cruising around furniture since February. Anastasia's reading is coming along and she enjoys just sitting and reading a book on her own.


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Croydon Tuition Issues.

The following letter to the editor appeared in the Argus Champion.

Dear Editor,

Matt Reid did an excellent piece on the school board meeting held in Croydon on June 11, 2008. However as a tax payer, I came away from the meeting with a lot of questions that went un-answered.

Who is paying the one family to attend Newport Schools for the last month of school. This was not answered by the SAU at the meeting. We received an "I don't know," from the SAU. This also includes Special Ed Funding. Is Newport absorbing the costs? That wouldn't be fair to them.

I am not convinced that the issue with the one family is settled with $14,000.00 received from Kearsage School District. It was not explained in the public meeting how the SAU arrived at that figure. There are 2 students involved, and their father is a employee at Newport High School. It is my understanding that the SAU is paid 4 times a year, our refund should have been $14,874.00. According to the set tuition rates. We were also not presented any proof that the family were legal Croydon Residents from 2004 - 2007 school years. Our Chief of Police, has no record of the family living in town, and taxes on vehicles need to be paid in the town you reside. This show on your car registration.

Carol Marsh explained that the house I was referring to was not in Springfield. However if the house is not in Springfield, why did Kearsage pay Croydon $14,000.00? I also went to the Springfield Town Office and received a copy of the tax information on the Springfield property.

I also requested a list of students that Croydon paid tuition for, from the years 2004-2007 from the SAU office on Thursday, June 12. I was told it would take awhile. I understood that copying the records would take awhile, so I gave the SAU my phone number. They never called. I called them today (June 19) and was informed they mailed me a letter on June 18th. I asked them what was in the letter, and they said that I would not be able to get the records until August because it was a busy time of year. When I complained, I was asked if I wanted to speak with Business Administrator, Jim Vezina. I left a message on his voice mail. He has not called me back.

I am also confused about the amount of up to $40,000.00 that Croydon maybe reimbursed from Grantham. The unknown factor here is the special education funding. We can not get any information from the SAU regarding this, however a trip to the Special Education School's web site says it's tuition is $35,000.00 a year. That is the lowest amount possible, plus the tuition for the other two students attending Newport Schools.

We have under 100 students in Croydon, I can understand why I could not have the records the day I requested them, but to wait three months is absurd and unprofessional. SAU 43 has lost their credibility, first by the shoddy investigation on the two families, when our school board mentioned it months ago and now delaying records that we are legally entitled to examine.

Again I thank Matt Reid his article was accurate and in depth. The questions I have do not stem from his article but from the meeting, and the events following it.


Gayle Hedrington

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Response to Union Leader Post - An Oldie But Goodie From Jim

Jim responded to the below post with the following.

At a five-star dinner party, one woman, a chief executive officer, wondered how a teacher could afford $200 per plate. She decided to confront this contradiction to the "underpaid teacher" myth.

She argued, "What's a kid going to learn from someone who thinks a six-figure salary for nine months work is 'underpaid'?" To stress the point, she said to another guest: "You're a teacher, Susan. Be honest, what do you make?" (Looking for income.)

Susan, an unusually frank teacher, asked "You want to know what we make?"

"We make parents work harder than they ever thought they could. We make one-income households become two-income households to pay ever-increasing property taxes for schools.

"We make kids wonder why they should bother with homework. We make kids who can't read at age 16 feel like they've won the Congressional Medal of Honor because self-esteem is more important than learning fundamentals.

"We make bad teachers earn more than good teachers. We make legislators pass laws to strengthen our education monopoly. We make New Hampshire bankrupt with a Ponzi-retirement scheme.

"We make friendly neighbors into enemies by running tax increase every few months.

"We make the elderly choose between food and medicine because they can no longer afford both.

"We make America less competitive in the Information Age."

Susan paused, then continued: "You want to know what we make? We make ourselves out to be secular saints using silly stories like Derick's. We make our union bosses richer. What do you make?"

The chief executive officer replied: "We make medicine to save the lives of millions. If we take public money without delivering results, I can go to jail. What happens to you?"

Susan replied: "Nothing. I have tenure."

The following was posted on the

By Taylor Mali

He says the problem with teachers is, "What's a kid going to learn
from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher?"
He reminds the other dinner guests that it's true what they say about
Those who can, do; those who can't, teach.

I decide to bite my tongue instead of his
and resist the temptation to remind the other dinner guests
that it's also true what they say about lawyers.

Because we're eating, after all, and this is polite company.

"I mean, you¹re a teacher, Taylor," he says.
"Be honest. What do you make?"

And I wish he hadn't done that
(asked me to be honest)
because, you see, I have a policy
about honesty and ass-kicking:
if you ask for it, I have to let you have it.

You want to know what I make?

I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.
I can make a C+ feel like a Congressional medal of honor
and an A- feel like a slap in the face.
How dare you waste my time with anything less than your very best.

I make kids sit through 40 minutes of study hall
in absolute silence. No, you may not work in groups.
No, you may not ask a question.
Why won't I let you get a drink of water?
Because you're not thirsty, you're bored, that's why.

I make parents tremble in fear when I call home:
I hope I haven't called at a bad time,
I just wanted to talk to you about something Billy said today.
Billy said, "Leave the kid alone. I still cry sometimes, don't you?"
And it was the noblest act of courage I have ever seen.

I make parents see their children for who they are
and what they can be.

You want to know what I make?

I make kids wonder,
I make them question.
I make them criticize.
I make them apologize and mean it.
I make them write, write, write.
And then I make them read.
I make them spell definitely beautiful, definitely beautiful, definitely
over and over and over again until they will never misspell
either one of those words again.
I make them show all their work in math.
And hide it on their final drafts in English.
I make them understand that if you got this (brains)
then you follow this (heart) and if someone ever tries to judge you
by what you make, you give them this (the finger).

Let me break it down for you, so you know what I say is true:
I make a goddamn difference! What about you?

Monday, June 23, 2008

NH among NEA state affiliates replacing their executive directors

How some of your tax dollars are spent by the unions.

The Education Intelligence Agency is reporting the following.

"Another NEA Affiliate Executive Director Opening. Add NEA New Hampshire to the long, long list of NEA state affiliates replacing their executive directors. Here is the job announcement if you feel up to the task of dealing with the labor problems associated with sagging enrollment."

The EIA also has a great piece about the NEA and the NEA employees. Here are some of their benefits reproduced here verbatim, from said contract:

* "NEA shall provide travel accident insurance of $1,000,000 for loss of life for an employee traveling on official NEA business."

* While an employee is traveling on official business, NEA will reimburse "physical fitness/health club fees, up to $25 per day."

* "NEA shall… pay each employee $800 per contract year for incidental fees associated with travel."

* "NEA will establish an Employee Wellness fund of $2000 per contract year and will reimburse employees to a maximum of $100 per contract year for the following services/programs that are provided to NEA HQ employees and when they are not covered by the employee's group medical/hospitalization insurance: inoculations, exercise/yoga classes, smoking cessation programs, CPR/First Aid training wellness classes, and diabetes management programs."

* "NEA HR/Wellness will make health and wellness programs available at least one time per contract year during field staff meetings held at HQ. These programs may include: nutrition classes, health screenings, stress reduction training, and/or seated massage services."

* "Any employee who informs NEA HR/Wellness of their intent to engage in a walking for fitness program, whether individually or in a group, shall be given a pedometer at NEA expense."

* "Each employee shall be entitled to arrange for up to 200 hours of outside secretarial support service each contract year."

* "Upon request by the employee, NEA will provide webcams to employees. Effective September 1, 2008, NEA will provide webcam-equipped laptops to new employees and to current employees in accordance with the NEA laptop replacement schedule."

* "Employees who drive hybrid vehicles with mileage of at least 45 miles per gallon and who have assigned parking in the NEA garage shall receive priority parking."