Saturday, September 30, 2006

Coalition for Public Awareness

Keith Steinacher of the Coalition for Public Awareness
has asked CRAFT to pass on the message that their site has been updated. If you have not reviewed their site it is highly recommended before supporting any tax increase for public schools.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Many Teachers Are OK; It's the Damn Teachers Unions That Are the Problem

As a former teacher, principal and superintendent of schools in New York, Ohio, Kentucky, Illinois, New Jersey, and Califoria, I have a fairly good knowledge of how education works in the U.S.

My studies at the University of Dayton (B.A.), Xavier University (M.A.) and The Ohio State University (Ph.D.) with majors in English, Philosophy, Educational Administration, Sociology, and an S.T.B at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland have helped me to think through many issues in public education.

It has been 51 years since I began my teaching caareer in New York. I have come to the following major conclusion:


Think it through with me. There are four reasons why I have reached this rational conclusion. It is based on the union proposals that I have studied, argued, and negotiated for the past 30 years. They all contain the same major ideas and issues.

1) They want more money.

2) They want more fringe benefits.

3) They want less work and less responsibility.

4) They want more power.

That's it!

Of the hundreds of demands that I have read in their proposals for negoations, I have NEVER seen one that asks for some item to be placed in their contracts that will redound to the direct benefit for the child's education. Not one.

Read teachers contracts. If you find one positive item that states that they want some element or item added that will contribute to the direct, positive learning of the student, please let me know about it. It will be a FIRST.

Do you agree with this simple, but rational analysis?

Response to Don.

I do not agree. Teachers can choose to be a part of the union or not. If a person does not speak out against the problem they are not part of the solution. Cathy

"And if you are a teacher who belongs to the teachers union, thus helping to perpetuate with your dues their iron grip on the current system, you, too, are anti-education. " Charles Muth

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.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Parents demand smaller class sizes

The following article appeared on the Students First website. Students First did not attribute the source however Ms. Schory is a reporter for the Northwest Herald.

Why do parents in District 47 demand smaller class size? Who or what group said that smaller class size is an important issue? If district 47 parents did any research into the subject they would know this. It appears these parents believe the propaganda fed to them by a PR firm, the district and/or district employees (including the teachers). What do these people have in common? They would all benefit financially from class size reduction? Parents fall for the baloney thinking there kids will benefit when in fact they will not.

"The great masses of the people will more easily fall victims to a big lie than to a small one."
Adolf Hitler

“Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.”
Adolf Hitler

Kevin Craver one of the Northwest Herald's best reporters did a report on small class sizes which appeared in the May 2, 2004 edition of the Northwest Herald.

To research class size issues we suggest the following sources Politicizing Class Size by Casey J. Lartigue Jr.
and the class size series by Eric Hanushek of the Hoover Institute Stanford University.

Parents demand smaller class sizes

CRYSTAL LAKE - With 30 or more students in their children's third-grade class at North Elementary School, some parents are demanding that District 47 do more to make the class sizes smaller.

"That's too many kids for one teacher," parent Lisa Van Bosch said. "They are not getting the education they deserve. I have every faith in the teachers, but common sense should tell you if there are 31 or 34 children in a class, those struggling would be left out."

Parents said it was not fair that their children were in classrooms that on average had six more students than other third-grade classrooms in the district. But school officials said they were under budget constraints and couldn't hire a new teacher, so aides would have to work with the children in the larger classrooms.

Two North third-grade classrooms have 31 students and three have 30. One with 31 students also soon will have three special-education students and their aide for half a day. The third grades in the district's other eight elementary schools average 24 students, officials said.

Superintendent Ronald Miller said the district had to consider the cost, as District 47 has a $724,000 deficit in its operating budget that officials were trying to contain by saving money and getting more revenue.

The five half-time aides in North's third grades cost $32,500 or about $6,500 each, Miller said.

Overall, the district spends nearly $180,000 on aides.

"We have reserves," Miller said. "Should we use those reserves now? It's a very difficult balance providing help to teachers and students and being fiscally responsible. It's a trade-off."

Donna Relic said her daughter started first grade at North in 2004 with 30 in the class.

"The overcrowding issues were glaringly apparent at that time," Relic said. "It is two years later and nothing has changed."

But Miller said the district has tinkered with boundaries and moved some students from North to Husman.

North has the largest enrollment among the district's elementary schools with 881 students. The others range from 462 at Canterbury to 830 at Glacier Ridge.

The problem is not confined to third grade. Miller said North also has 167 second-graders in six classrooms.

"This is not the first time we've had 30 students in a classroom," Miller said. "Our board recognizes the higher the class size, the more help a teacher needs. As with other schools in the past, our board believes at this time, it is best to address it with classroom aide service."

Monday, September 25, 2006

Teachers asking for outrageous hikes

Teachers asking for outrageous hikes

Grant High School teachers have threatened to strike over wages and benefits (what else?), even though state records show increases averaging 35 percent for all employees who were employed there for the four-year period 2001 to 2004 (8 percent per year).

This latest teacher union outrage comes after the recent announcement by the Bureau of Labor Statistics that the average American worker saw his salary increase by 1 percent last year. This item was reported last month on the front page of the Daily Herald.

So teachers get 8 percent while taxpayers get 1 percent, and the teachers are so unhappy they want to strike.

And in Mount Prospect District 57, officials and parents are concerned with class size as they struggle with budget problems. District 57 employees have averaged 31 percent from 2001 to 2005.

If they had averaged, say, 15 percent instead, how many more teachers could have been hired thus lowering class size?

And it is not just schools either, as the Gurnee mayor complains about 6 percent increases for their employees, causing budget shortfalls in other areas.

The so-called budget problems in schools and cities are not lack of revenue it is large salary and benefit increases for public employees. Put public employee salary increases on the same basis as private employees and magically budget problems disappear.

How much longer are taxpayers going to allow this to go on? And how long will it be before school boards and city councils use these numbers, which are publicly available, to negotiate contracts?

It’s very simple: public employee salaries cannot increase faster than taxpayer’s salaries.

Bill Zettler

Sunday, September 24, 2006


The following piece was sent to us by a fellow tax fighter and education reformist in Bourbonnais, IL.

BBCHS Fight!

It should be very clear by now that the fight against wasteful school spending and planning is going to be done against the power of the government and the Daily Journal.

BBCHS just sent out a full-color “illegal” mailing full of one-sided information to persuade you to vote for the referendums. Paid for by you!
The Journal is doing everything but going to school and failing because of overcrowding.

We must, as taxpayers look at this logically, not as misty-eyed “anything for the children” patsies.

BBCHS has increased its total tax take by 84.1% over the last 10 years. Enrollment has grown by 28%.

They could have economized, saved money and been ready to meet what they now call a crisis.

They pay a Gym Teacher $103,000 per year. They pay their business manager $121,000 per year. The business manager retired from the position is drawing about $100,000 per year retirement and was hired back.

That’s all money that could be used for the “children”!.

This is only a small example of waste and abuse of your money, which isn’t going into reading, math, english, science, computer skills, history, geography or any other real education.

Our kids are important to the future of this country.

Too important, to allow the School Board and Administrators of BBCHS to continue making a mess of the education system in our community.

Just one more point, these people that claim to be “so” interested in the welfare of our kids have negotiated some of the most secure jobs in the country.

Safe from firing once they receive tenure. They have great retirement benefits and salaries that rival the average attorneys, doctors, architects, engineers and others that have much higher levels of education.

Ron Hansen