Saturday, June 24, 2006

Small Classes: Union Scam

Senator Meeks and our state government in order to placate one of their biggest political donors the teachers union have been touting the small class size scam. The following piece appeared in the New York Post and is posted at Manhattan Institute for Policy Research.

Small Classes: Union Scam
June 12, 2003
By Jay P. Greene and Greg Forster
THE local teachers unions are circulating a new petition to push their perennial pet cause: reducing class sizes.

Never mind that various efforts across the country to shrink classes have consumed rivers of money and produced no discernable improvements in education outcomes. The unions know that a mandate to shrink classes does have onenear-inevitable effect: mass hiring of teachers swelling the unions' membership and bank accounts.

Class sizes could theoretically be reduced in other ways right now, as many as just under half New York City's teachers aren't in the classroom. But in practice, the unions' stranglehold on the system ensures that shrinking classes means massive teacher hiring.

Asking people whether they want smaller classes for their children is like asking them whether they want to have a personal chef everyone imagines he'll get Emeril shouting "bam!" right in his own kitchen. But there aren't enough really great chefs to hire one for everybody. Once you've hired Emeril, Julia Child and all four Iron Chefs, you have to start lowering your standards. So if every New Yorker were to get his own personal chef, you'd most likely get a teenage fry cook from a fast-food joint.

The same is true for class-size reduction. To dramatically cut class sizes by hiring many new teachers, New York would have to dip deeper into the labor pool. So the person in front of your child's smaller class would probably be significantly less qualified than the teacher your child enjoys now.

Smaller-class proponents often point to Tennessee's STAR project, which randomly assigned elementary-school students either to relatively small classes or to regular classes for four years. Princeton researchers found that where 40 percent of the regular-class students went on to take either the SAT or ACT college-entrance exam, 43.7 percent of small-class students took one of those exams a modest but significant gain.

But that test program stands in marked contrast to the track record of class-size reduction on a broader scale, which can only be done by hiring many less-qualified teachers. In 1996, California devoted $1 billion to its much-ballyhooed effort to shrink elementary-school classes. A Rand Corporation study shows that the students in larger elementary-school classes have improved at about the same rate as students in smaller classes, and concludes that no link can be shown between smaller class sizes and improvement in test scores.

But the study did find one major change: a breathtaking rise in the number of people without full credentials serving as teachers. The new policy obliged the state to add 30,000 teaching staff in just three years. By the end of this frantic hiring spree, teachers without full credentials had jumped from 1.8 percent of the total to 12.5 percent a sevenfold increase.

This fits the national picture: U.S. class sizes have been falling for half a century, with no sign of significant gain in education. The Education Department says there were 22.3 students per teacher in 1970; since then, the ratio has dropped steadily, to 15.1 in 2001. Yet over the same period, national test scores have been flat and graduation rates have fallen slightly.

Remember this if you're asked to sign the teachers unions' petition: When class-size reduction has been applied on a large scale, any gains from having fewer students in each classroom seem to have been negated by the need to hire less-qualified people to fill all those new teaching jobs. Large-scale class-size reduction has only two proven results: less-qualified teachers and much higher education costs.

All that extra spending may be delightful for the unions, but why pay more for less?

Jay P. Greene is a senior fellow and Greg Forster is a senior research associate at the Manhattan Institute's Education Research Office.
©2003 New York Post

Friday, June 23, 2006

Illinoisans have been snookered by educators

The following piece appeared in the Daily Southtown and also Students First. Click on the title above if needed.

Illinoisans have been snookered by educators


By Jeff Grigoletti

Daily Southtown

This is a response to "Gambling to save education: snookered or hypocrisy?" by Bert Docter (Southtown, June 13).

I vote Illinois citizens were snookered, and not only by the recent lottery drama, but by the whole Illinois education establishment.

Failing to acknowledge that decades of massive educational funding has not increased general education standards or students' knowledge base, the Illinois Department of Education is as inept as it is monolithic. It should be scrapped in its entirety, and an independent investigator should investigate the collusion between teacher unions and the sycophant Democratic machine that keeps raising the cost of education with no discernable results. Can anyone say RICO?

How about this: Attach $10,000 to a pupil's over-stuffed backpack and let their parents decide which school is best. Let dedicated teachers and aggressive-learning schools fight for those dollars by being the best educators possible.

Given the choice between a corrupt bureaucracy with a proven track record of failure and accountable educators, driven by parents who actually have a choice in their children's education, snookery can be a thing of the past.

Jeff Grigoletti lives in Tinley Park.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Start time cuts students short

The following editorial appeared in the Northwest Herald newspaper on June 5th. When are educators going to start taking the education of our children seriously? 130 Juniors have to retake the test because testers could not follow instructions. The administrators are compensated well and have the luxury of retiring at 55 with pensions larger than most incomes of Harvard residents. The Northwest Herald was too forgiving of Ms. Mc Reynolds error. Than again the Northwest Herald all to often shows its bias towards schools and school employees. Trying hard is not enough when the future of these children's lives is in the hands of school administrators.

Start time cuts students short

[published on Mon, Jun 5, 2006]
Taking the ACT test is not fun. It is hours of hard, mentally and physically draining work.
More than 130 juniors at Harvard High school are among more than 600 statewide who will have to take the test again.
Not to improve their scores. But because their schools failed their students and the testing program.

Students took the test April 27. It was supposed to begin at 9 a.m., a new ACT Inc. rule. Tests did not begin at Harvard High School until between 9:42 a.m. and 9:52 a.m. because students were offered breakfast.
The intention was good; the result was bad. ACT did not score the tests because of the late start. High school Principal Michelle McReynolds found out May 16. Parents were not notified until the next week. It wasn't until Thursday that school officials met with parents.
It might not have solved the problem, but school administrators at least took responsibility for the error, and they apologized.
The state requires high school juniors to take the test. Many of them have studied long and hard to prepare for it because of its importance in college applications.

But Harvard High School counselors found help at two other schools, even though the registration deadline passed. About 60 Harvard juniors might luck out on June 10, the next date for testing. Woodstock High School might have 25 to 50 openings, and Rockford College might have 25. Crystal Lake South High School also might have some openings. Otherwise, students will have to wait until the next round of tests Sept. 16.
District 50 will reimburse students who retake the test. Students who needed the test simply to meet the state requirement do not have to take it again.
For others, college depends on it. Maybe some will do better the second time around. Then again, maybe not.
District 50 officials have done what they could to make things right. They made an unfortunate mistake.
But they found openings for some students to take the test June 10. We hope that it works out for all of them planning to attend college.

To view the article go to Northwest Herald.

Board members gets Dist. 158 job with $101,000 salary

The following article appeared in the Daily Herald. If you do not subscribe to the newspaper you should. Mr. Gaunt has always done an excellent job when reporting about schools. It would be well worth your while to go back and read his articles how school districts tax more than promised and his bond series.

This story highlights the patronage and corruption that exists in our public schools. If you look at the board of your school district you will find that board members are often related to school employees. This is a great article. Nice payback to Mr. Stewart for being a yes man. Any chance they would have made the same exceptions for Mr. Snow or any other citizen if they had wanted the position? How about getting rid of tenure and teaching certificates, schools could then hire the best people for teaching jobs. Perhaps hiring real chemists and physicists, etc to teach these subjects would best aid student performance. How about getting rid of the requirement that administrators be certified as school administrators so they can hire more MBA's.

Public schools are nothing more than government schools that are plagued with waste, fraud, corruption and patronage just like other forms of government.

Board members gets Dist. 158 job with $101,000 salary
Daily Herald Staff Writer
Posted Thursday, June 22, 2006

Huntley District 158 board members hired one of their own Wednesday night to fill a newly created, top administrative position.

Board member Glen Stewart will take over July 1 as the district's chief operations officer, a position created after the March resignation of assistant superintendent Mike Kortemeyer.

Stewart, who will receive a starting salary of $101,000, will be responsible for overseeing the district's transportation, food service, operations and maintenance and health services departments.

He will also serve as the district's liaison to village governments and home developers on growth issues.

"I feel confident that Glen has the capabilities to perform the job adequately and in the best interest of the school district," board President Mike Skala said.

Stewart, who has a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the Milwaukee School of Engineering, last worked as a general manager for a tool and die company. He has been out of work since March.

"I looked at that job description and said, 'That's a job I can do,'æ" Stewart said. "Instead of doing this as a part-time job, I can serve the district full-time, and that's pretty cool."

Board member Larry Snow, the only person on the seven-member board to vote against the appointment, lambasted the district for hiring one of its elected representatives.

"It's just political patronage," Snow said. "Friends giving a friend a high-paying job because he's out of work.

"I simply can't believe there's not another, more qualified candidate that applied for the position," Snow said. "This hiring policy is a sham."

In response, Steward said Snow objects to everything involving Stewart. "We're here to focus on the future," he said.
Stewart abstained from voting and Skala said he was not involved in any of the closed discussions on the position.

Stewart will have to resign his board seat before starting his new job.

District officials say he was the best person for the position out of the 14 who applied.

"One thing that Glen has demonstrated as a board member is his total commitment to the community and the students," said Human Resources Director Lauren Smith, who was on the committee that recommended Stewart for the position. "There's no question about what his motives will be in joining the district."

Smith said Stewart's 20 years of management experience, familiarity with the district and successful history as a project manager will serve him well in his new post.

But she also added: "The ability to lead and project manage, those are elementary compared to some of the visionary requirements and leadership skills. That's what Glen is going to be able to do."

Skala also defended the board's actions in light of Snow's criticism, saying it's up to district officials - and the superintendent in particular - to recommend the best people for the job.

"They still have to perform the job," Skala said. "If they're not performing the job, I would expect the superintendent not to recommend them for rehire."

Stewart has never been employed by a school district. But Skala said that wasn't a prerequisite.

In fact, board members changed the job title from assistant superintendent to chief operations officer so candidates wouldn't have to be certified as a school administrator. That way the district could attract applicants with business backgrounds, Skala said.

Headline spec: 2 col; 28pt NewBskvll SeBd BT Regular
Hire: District says official best candidate for the jo

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Schools support free speech ----- sometimes!

When reading the story below we are focusing on the free speech issue not conservatism vs. liberalism. We put these stories up with caution, as we want the focus to be on free speech for all.

Take a look at the two stories below. The first appeared in the Las Vegas Review -

Jun. 17, 2006
Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal

District pulls plug on speech

Foothill valedictorian criticizes decision to censor her proclamation of faith


Foothill High School Valedictorian Brittany McComb is pictured at her Henderson home on Friday. McComb's speech at the high school's graduation ceremony on Thursday was cut short because officials said its religious references crossed over into proselytizing.

She knew her speech as valedictorian of Foothill High School would be cut short, but Brittany McComb was determined to tell her fellow graduates what was on her mind and in her heart.

But before she could get to the word in her speech that meant the most to her -- Christ -- her microphone went dead.

The decision to cut short McComb's commencement speech Thursday at The Orleans drew jeers from the nearly 400 graduates and their families that went on for several minutes.

However, Clark County School District officials and an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union said Friday that cutting McComb's mic was the right call. Graduation ceremonies are school-sponsored events, a stance supported by federal court rulings, and as such may include religious references but not proselytizing, they said.

They said McComb's speech amounted to proselytizing and that her commentary could have been perceived as school-sponsored.

Before she delivered her commencement speech, McComb met with Foothill administrators, who edited her remarks. It's standard district practice to have graduation speeches vetted before they are read publicly.

School officials removed from McComb's speech some biblical references and the only reference to Christ.

But even though administrators warned McComb that her speech would get cut short if she deviated from the language approved by the school, she said it all boiled down to her fundamental right to free speech.

That's why, for what she said was the first time in her life, the valedictorian who graduated with a 4.7 GPA rebelled against authority.

"I went through four years of school at Foothill and they taught me logic and they taught me freedom of speech," McComb said. "God's the biggest part of my life. Just like other valedictorians thank their parents, I wanted to thank my lord and savior."

In the 750-word unedited version of McComb's speech, she made two references to the lord, nine mentions of God and one mention of Christ.

In the version approved by school officials, six of those words were omitted along with two biblical references. Also
deleted from her speech was a reference to God's love being so great that he gave his only son to suffer an excruciated death in order to cover everyone's shortcomings and forge a path to heaven.

Allen Lichtenstein, general counsel for the ACLU of Nevada, had read the unedited version of McComb's speech and said district officials did the right thing by cutting McComb's speech short because her commentary promoted religion.

"There should be no controversy here," Lichtenstein said. "It's important for people to understand that a student was given a school-sponsored forum by a school and therefore, in essence, it was a school-sponsored speech."

Lichtenstein said that position was supported by two decisions by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in 2000 and 2003.

Both cases involved graduation ceremonies and religious speeches given by commencement speakers. In the 2003 case, Lichtenstein said, the plaintiff even petitioned the Supreme Court to have the decision reversed, but the request was denied.

In 2003, the Clark County School Board amended district regulations on religious free speech, prohibiting district officials from organizing a prayer at graduation or selecting speakers for such events in a manner that favors religious speech or a prayer.

The remainder of the amendment allows for religious expression during school ceremonies.

Where students or other private graduation speakers are selected on the basis of genuinely neutral, evenhanded criteria and retain primary control over the content of their expression, however, that expression is not attributable to the school and, therefore, may not be restricted because of its religious (or anti-religious) content," it states.

"To avoid any mistaken perception that a school endorses student or other private speech that is not in fact attributable to the school, school officials may make appropriate neutral disclaimers to clarify that such speech is not school sponsored."

District legal counsel Bill Hoffman said the regulation allows students to talk about religion, but speeches can't cross into the realm of preaching.

"We review the speeches and tell them they may not proselytize," Hoffman said. "We encourage people to talk about religion and the impact on their lives. But when that discussion crosses over to become proselytizing, then we to tell students they can't do that."

McComb, who will study journalism at Biola University, a private Christian school in La Mirada, Calif., doesn't believe she was preaching. She said although some people might not like the message of her speech, it was just that, her speech.

"People aren't stupid and they know we have freedom of speech and the district wasn't advocating my ideas," McComb said.

"Those are my opinions.

"It's what I believe."

End of Reveiw-Journal article.

When viewing the information below think if the girl above wanted to talk about how her homosexual lover supporting her through school and without her she could not have become valedictorian. I am sure the ACLU lawyers would have supported her. This is about free speech for all. Schools want diversity as long as it is not intellectual diversity and you do not disagree with their point of view. How about free speech for all groups even those who believe in God? If this person were praising Allah would the school have supported the speech? Probably the ACLU often supports the Muslim community over the Christian community. Schools support students promoting referenda on school time but would they allow students who oppose referenda the same access? No they would not. Schools should not be pushing a liberal or a conservative agenda they should be educating children. Free speech should be for all and not some.

The letter below was sent to us from a parent in another school district.

June 19, 2006
National Education Association Set to Endorse Homosexual Marriage
Teacher's union begins plans to promote homosexual marriage in public schools

The National Education Association is set to endorse homosexual marriage at their convention coming up in Orlando June 29 through July 6.
The new NEA proposal essentially says schools should support and actively promote homosexual marriage and other forms of marriage (two men and one woman, three women, two women and three men, etc.) in their local schools.
The new proposal, expected to pass overwhelmingly, is found under the B-8 Diversity paragraph:

The Association... believes in the importance of observances, programs and curricula that accurately portray and recognize the roles, contributions, cultures, and history of these diverse groups and individuals.

The Association believes that legal rights and responsibilities with regard to medical decisions, taxes, inheritance, adoption, legal immigration, domestic partnerships, and civil unions and/or marriage belong to all these diverse groups and individuals.

Translated, that means the NEA will promote homosexual marriage in every avenue they have available, including textbooks, to all children at all age levels and without the permission or knowledge of parents. Their plans will include every public school in America.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Peyton Wolcott - Helping Parents And Taxpayers Implode Education, Inc.

The following is a link to Peyton Wolcott's website.

These are some of the quotes I have taken directly from her site.

"Education, Inc. and the Big Pot o'Money"

"Education, Inc. is the name I give to the messy intersection of education and
business, the place where noble values collide with greed and ambition--and the
easy grab at life's comforts."

She has a great site with a lot of information on the abuses of schools and the problems that plagues public schools. One of the must reads on this site is an article titled "ERDI Superintendents get $2,000 consulting fees to hobnob with vendors. " A few Illinois superintendents went to this conference.

To view more great information on this site click here.

Monday, June 19, 2006

The Hidden Costs of Tenure

This is a reminder to readers to visit the website The Hidden Costs of Tenure. Scott Reader and the Small Newspaper Group did an excellent job of exposing the problems of tenure in our K - 12 system. It would be great to see a book by Mr. Reeder. Newspapers across America should do thorough investigative reporting of our public schools just as the Small Newspaper Group.

The article titles include but are not limited to the following titles.

Tenure frustrates drive for teacher accountability

School boards lose power to fire poor teachers

Student pregnant, DNA points to assistant principal; no firing

Impact of poor teachers cripples students for years

Teacher unions' clout keeps tenure strong

Schools resort to secret buyouts to get rid of teachers

Copyright ©2005 Small Newspaper Group

Sunday, June 18, 2006

D.C.'s Distinction: $16,344 Per Student, But Only 12% Read Proficiently

The following piece appeared on

D.C.'s Distinction: $16,344 Per Student, But Only 12% Read Proficiently
Posted Mar 23, 2006

The District of Columbia spends far more money per student in its public elementary and secondary schools each year than the tuition costs at many private elementary schools, or even college-preparatory secondary schools. Yet, District 8th-graders ranked dead last in 2005 in national reading and math tests.

D.C.'s public elementary and secondary schools spent a total of $16,334 per student in the 2002-2003 school year, according to a Department of Education study. That compares to the $10,520 tuition at St. John's College High School, a District Catholic school that sends almost all its graduates to four-year colleges.

Last year, however, only 12% of 8th-graders in the District's public schools scored at grade-level proficiency or better in reading in the federal National Assessment of Educational Progress tests that were administered in the District and all 50 states. Only 7% of the District's public-school 8th-graders scored grade-level proficiency or better in math.

Not one U.S. state can boast that a majority of the 8th-graders in its public schools last year had achieved grade-level proficiency or better in either reading or math.

How much money did your state spend per pupil while failing to adequately educate in reading and math the majority of students in its public schools? The answers are in the chart below.

They eloquently make the case for school choice.

The state spending figures below are the total median expenditure per student as reported in "Revenues and Expenditures by Public School Districts: School Year 2002-03," published by the Department of Education in November 2005. The NAEP 8th-grade reading and math scores were published by the Department of Education in October 2005.

To view the rest of the story and the chart associated with this story go to