Wednesday, September 27, 2006

District 300 budget doesn't factor in new teachers contract

The following article appeared in the Daily Herald.

Wondering why District 300 pushed for passage of the referendum? The teacher's contract was up this past June. The teachers knew it and that is why they pressured the very children they educate to push their parents to pass the referendum. This referendum was about money for the teachers and school employees nothing more. The school board will pass a budget busting contract and the need for another referendum will arise in 3 to 5 years. The same Simpletons who supported this referendum will blindly support the next referendum. What will have occurred during this time period? School employees will benefit from larger paychecks, spending per pupil will increase while performance, graduation rates and drop out rates will remain essentially flight or decline. The cost of educating our children will grow. The tax burden passed on to our children will grow. While the public school employees aka our government employees are laughing all the way to the bank while retiring at 55 earning a pension greater than the average working stiff.

Why will this happen? Because parents blindly trust the system they leave their children in 9 months a year. If you really care about your children and their future do a little research instead of letting strangers raise your children.

The amount of money spent on education has little to do with the quality of education your child receives.

We often wonder why parents blindly throw money at a failing system. These are some of the conclusions we made.

1. Parents want to believe a system that is to educate their child will not waste their money and will properly educate their children.

2. Parents would prefer to have their children raised by the system instead of themselves.

3. Parents are apathetic and believe there is nothing they can do to fight the system but keep throwing money at the system.

4. Parents were not properly educated themselves and have no understanding of simple mathematics, finances, economics, logic and problems solving skills.

5. Parents voted yes out of guilt and pressure from the system that threatened their children.

6. Parents just do not care about the education of their children and their children's future.

If any of these reasons are why you will support or have supported a referendum. You are doing nothing for the future of your children. It is easy to vote yes. It is hard to vote no and fight for true reform of our education system.

District 300 budget doesn't factor in new teachers contract


By Jeffrey Gaunt

Daily Herald

Community Unit District 300 now has a budget for the 2006-07 school year - sort of.

The school board Monday night approved a new budget with a $9.7 million surplus in the district's operating funds.

Assuming that number held up, district officials would be able to cut their budget deficit from $13.6 million last year to $3.9 million this year.

But that's not going to happen, district officials said.

The new budget doesn't take into account a new teachers contract, which district officials are still trying to negotiate with the teachers union.

Contract talks stalled earlier this month, leading both sides to call in a federal mediator to facilitate the negotiations.

Right now, the budget shows a nearly $9 million increase in teacher salaries this school year - from $80.8 million to $89.8 million.

But that number is likely low, chief financial officer Cheryl Crates said.

The $9 million increase includes only an estimate of the cost of new hires, yearly raises from added experience and education, and a 2 percent "fudge factor," Crates said.

It doesn't include the across-the-board raises that will come out of the negotiating sessions.

And officials budgeted only a $1.4 million increase in the cost of employee benefits.

"That will all be revised," Crates said.

Board members had to approve the budget before this month's state filing deadline, with or without a new contract.

But neither board members nor administrators discussed Monday what may happen to the district's bottom line as the district wraps up contract talks.

Board member Dave Alessio said only that the budget is a living document and subject to change.

"I imagine there will be changes throughout the rest of the year," Alessio said.

Time to remind our readers of an article that states what is truly wrong with our public education system.

NEA plans lower, not raise, education bar
Ruben Navarette, Jr.
San Diego Union Tribune

SAN DIEGO - After five years of trying to undermine the No Child Left Behind Act, the nation's largest teachers union has decided that it can live with the education reform law after all - as long as the legislation is gutted, its standards lowered and its accountability measures watered down.

Great. So we're making progress.

This month at its annual conference, the National Education Association voted to launch a nationwide campaign to lobby Congress to radically change NCLB when the law comes up for reauthorization next year. The goal behind the changes seems to be to wrest power away from government and put it back where the union thinks it belongs - with educators and those who represent them.

Call me cynical, but I never thought for a minute that the NEA was really concerned about, well, education. I never believed the organization was eager to find new ways to empower students or to hold schools accountable for the educational products they turn out.

I always assumed that the NEA was focused primarily on what any union tends to focus on - the interests of its members. And since the education establishment has been trained to believe that it is not in the interests of teachers to demand more from them or tie them to the performance of their students, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that groups such as the NEA have reacted with hostility to No Child Left Behind.

That's exactly what's been happening since 2001, when the law - perhaps the most significant domestic policy achievements of the Bush administration - took effect.

According to a recent report by Education Sector, a Washington-based think tank, the NEA has given more than $8 million to various education, civil rights and public policy groups that opposed or criticized No Child Left Behind. Lead researcher Joe Williams says that what the union did wasn't illegal, but it is clear that it "actively pursued partnerships" with groups intent on fighting NCLB. And questions remain about whether the funding that was given to some of these groups influenced the research some of these groups produced - research that was, to no one's surprise, critical of the education reform law.

Not that the law doesn't have its critics. When I hear from teachers, or even school board members - some of whom have accepted campaign contributions from the NEA and other teachers unions - I get an earful about how NCLB is single-handedly destroying the public education system due to its emphasis on testing, its punishing of underperforming schools and its one-size-fits-all approach.

And yet, knowing all that, it's still frightening to get a peek behind the curtain at the specifics of what the NEA, if it had its druthers, would do to make NCLB more palatable to its members - or at least, some of them, as the more hard-line members won't be satisfied unless the law is repealed.

Convinced that there is too much emphasis on regular testing, and that low-performing schools are being unfairly punished when students come up short, the union would prefer a broader-based accountability system that relies on "multiple measures of success." Whatever that means.

The union also is queasy about the requirement in No Child Left Behind that schools test students in math and reading and then report scores according to race, disability, English proficiency and economic background. The NEA instead wants benchmarks that take into account students' differing abilities and demographics. It seems that many educators are less than confident in the job they've done when it comes to teaching minorities, those with limited English proficiency and the economically disadvantaged, and they're not eager to broadcast their failures.

It's outrageous.

If these people get their way, the practical effect would be a lower bar for students of different racial, ethnic or economic backgrounds - and by extension, those who teach them. And they would do all this not for the good of students but for the professional welfare of those who are supposed to be teaching them and who have, for too long, been coming up short.

And why does the nation's largest teachers union want to make all these changes in No Child Left Behind?

It's so the truth does not come out about whom the public schools serve and whom they sacrifice.

Ruben Navarrette Jr. is a columnist and editorial board member of The San Diego Union Tribune.

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