Sunday, February 1, 2009

Children Can Understand Taxes

There were two points in the Concord Monitor article below that really disturbed me. The first statement that disturbed me was, "Children in elementary school don't understand taxes. How could they?" I totally disagree with this statement, children as young as 18 months understand the concept of "Mine!" My four year old understands taxes, she also understands the more taxes the government takes the less money Mommy and Daddy will have for toys, going on vacation, saving money for college, etc., etc., etc...... Taxes can be explained plain and simple, instead of explaining taxes in terms of money it can be explained in terms of toys for younger children. By age 5, I would hope taxes could be explained with money, there is no reason why a five year old should not understand the concept of money...wait unless he or she is mentally handicapped. Please don't tell me children do not learn about the "Boston Tea Party" by the end of elementary school.

The second statement that disturbed me was "The girls didn't grasp the nuances, but Farrelly says they knew something was different at school." What the heck are "professional teachers" doing airing their emotions about the contract with the students in their class. Shame, Shame, Shame.

Teachers, district settle on contract Details under wrap; vote set for Monday

Monitor staff
January 31, 2009 - 12:00 am

With little fanfare, the union that represents hundreds of Concord teachers has agreed to a new contract.

Details such as cost, terms, concessions, even the contract's duration, remain private. School board members, administrators and a representative from the Concord Education Association wouldn't comment yesterday, something that's not surprising in a round of negotiations notable for its silence.

A vote on the contract is part of the school board's agenda Monday night. Should the board approve, the deal will require formal signatures from both sides before it's official. The contract applies to 400 teachers and a handful of school nurses. Many of the district's other employees are represented by three different unions. Negotiations with those groups will soon be under way.

This winter's hushed haggling is a far cry from the last round of contract negotiations, which devolved into public spats between the district and the union and left teachers on the brink of a strike. The district spent more than $100,000 on mediation and legal fees, and parents still remember how their children reacted to the dispute.

The last round of negotiations lasted 17 months. Before talks ended in 2006, teachers had threatened to strike, curtailed after-school activities and stripped personal belongings from their classrooms. Neither teachers nor the school district wanted a repeat this year, so both sides agreed to a list of ground rules, including a pledge to keep negotiations out of the press.

The prospect of a quick, quiet deal had parents pleased.

"That's good news," said Shawn LaFrance, whose two children attend Kimball and Concord High. "The last time around, it was not pleasant. There was a lot of acrimony between the union and the school board. I think the children suffered."

Sue Farrelly's two daughters were students at Walker Elementary School at the time. The girls didn't grasp the nuances, but Farrelly says they knew something was different at school.

"They love their teachers," she said. "Children in elementary school don't understand taxes. How could they?"

Negotiators came close to a deal at the end of last year, close enough for the school board to schedule a New Year's Eve vote. But that meeting was canceled, leaving the contract in the hands of a school board heavy on new members who took their seats at the beginning of the month.

The contract came up last Saturday at the school board's annual retreat, held in the professional development room at Conant Elementary School. Before participating in a group-building activity called "Zoom," the board "discussed and agreed upon a rationale for voting on the proposed CEA contract . . . at its regular February meeting," according to minutes from the retreat.

Salaries and benefits make up about 80 percent of the school district's $60 million budget.

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