Sunday, September 9, 2012


Would you stay on a job in which your employer requires you to decorate your workspace but doesn't offer expense reimbursement?  No, you're not a Teacher.

Would you stay on a job in which you are required to provide your own supplies in order to do your job?  No, you're not a Teacher.

Would you stay on a job where you are promised a raise but you don't get it?    No, you're not a Teacher.

Notice what each question has in common, in each instance Teachers pockets are impacted.

One instance I remember from my teaching days that I found especially egregious.  First, I need to give a little background on one aspect of teacher pay.  Teachers get a salary for working the regular school year.  A portion of that salary is deducted from their pay each pay period to continue their salary during the summer break.

For example, assume you make $1200 per year for 10 months work; that's $120 per month.  But to provide equal pay each month your boss pays you $100 per month and keeps the extra $20 to pay you the two months you don't work.  This is how teachers in Chicago are paid.

A few years ago, while I was teaching, Chicago changed the date that teachers were paid.  To do so, they took a week from the teachers set aside salary to pay teachers for the pay date change.

Back to our example, $200 was taken from the teachers pay but they only received $195 back.

I'm a CPA, have a Masters in Finance and in Information Systems Management.  I worked in both Finance and Information Systems Management before becoming a High School Math teacher.  I can assure you it was not necessary either from a finance or technology standpoint to reduce the amount teachers were paid to make a pay date change.  Did you hear of protests when this happened?

Would YOU stay on a job in which your employer took money from your pay for their benefit?  No, you're not a Teacher.

Chicago Teachers are set to go on strike tomorrow because a contract cannot be reached.  Teacher pay is one of the items still outstanding.  Teachers have agreed to a longer school year and a longer school day, don't they deserve a decent increase in pay?  I say, TEACHERS DESERVE TO GET PAID.

While I can understand that striking and keeping kids out of school is not good, I also recognize that you can only beat someone up so much before they fight back.  Give 'em heck, Karen Lewis, CTU President, TEACHERS DESERVE TO GET PAID.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Decisions are Made by Those That Show Up

"Decisions are made by those that show up"  POTUS Jed Bartlett.  These words are more important and just as true today than when President Bartlett spoke them in 1999.

Yesterday was the Wisconsin recall elections.  Governor Scott Walker retained his post over challenger, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.  The pundits will explain that Walker won because of big money spenders from outside Wisconsin outspending Barrett 8 to 1.

Money does play a large part in elections but I have another opinion.  Elections are not only being won by the big money-spenders; they are also being lost by the voters that don't go to the polls.  In the final vote total Governor Walker got 100,000 more votes than Mayor Barrett.  However, the big number is that one million fewer voters went to the polls yesterday than voted in the Presidential election of 2008.  A few more voters getting to the polls and the election results could have been different.  If you think your vote doesn't matter, think again.

November we will vote for President, House of Representatives, and some Senators.  If you're not sure who to vote for:

  • Look at the candidates records, not their rhetoric.
  • Decide which candidate is most likely to make decisions that benefit you; then


P. S.  Not sure who is President Bartlett????  He was the fictional US President in the television series "The West Wing".  Yes, a fictional character, but his words are still true.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

You Lost My Vote When You Opened Your Mouth

Yesterday was the Illinois primary.  On Tuesday we heard news report after news report discussing how low the voter turnout was for the primary.  Today we're inundated with analysis of how voters voted and why.  Newscasters have come up with a lot of different theories about the election results:  (1) certain candidates won because of name recognition; (2) voters chose the first name on the ballot.  One explanation is surprisingly missing: 


Yep, that's right.  Voters researched the candidates and made decisions based on their investigation.  

For example it was truthfully reported that Jesse Jackson, Jr. decidedly beat Debbie Halvorson.  The reports seem to indicate that the election was a cake walk for Jackson; and Halvorson just wasn't known well enough.  With an ongoing ethics investigation how could voters choose Jackson?  Those reports fail to mention that earlier polls had Halvorson leading Jackson by 30 points, only to loose by 42 points.  I suggest that voters choose Jackson based on the issues where the two candidates differ.   

In another example, newscasters are shocked, SHOCKED that Democratic Representative Derrick Smith beat challenger Tom Swiss.  After all, Rep. Smith had just been indicted on federal bribery charges.  How could voters choose Smith over Swiss???  If it's mentioned at all, its only in passing, that Swiss is a Republican and he called the voters in the district "low information".   Why would newscasters expect Democratic voters to vote for a Republican that called them stupid?????

Remember the Michigan Republican primary?  Rick Santorum was leading in the polls, then he opened his mouth and the state swung to Mitt Romney.

I have more examples that I can give, I don't think it's necessary.  To candidates and newscasters, stop assuming that voters are stupid sheep.  THEY LOST MY VOTE WHEN THEY OPENED THEIR MOUTH.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Who's Really In Charge Here?

Last week the X-Factor winner was announced; Congratulations Melanie Amaro, you deserve it!

But I remember a news story after the first live show.  Some singers were caught lip-syncing to the group song.  The article writers blamed the singers, but who's really in charge here?  The artists don't control the show; the producers do but they are not visible so they don't get the blame.

Discussions about the problems with our public education system generally focus on two groups as the cause:  the teachers and the kids.  Why???  These are the two most visible groups when you're discussing schools.  But, who's really in charge here????

There are news reports of teachers across the country passing students that don't deserve it and the question is asked "What wrong with those awful teachers passing those kids?  Really????  Professionals, across the country, dedicated to educating children doing an action that is clearly NOT in the students best interest???  Is there some conspiracy among educators????  Or, should the question be asked "what administration policy is forcing those dedicated professional educators into such an action"?  Who's really in charge here????

Who's really in charge?  Who's really to blame?  What about the School Boards, Politicians, and Parents.  Teachers and students aren't cutting funding to schools or increasing class sizes.  Teachers and students don't close schools, force rivals gangs together into one building, then reduce security staff and restrict remaining adults authority to act!!! Teachers can assign homework, but it takes parents to monitor behavior at home and ensure that it's done.

What Would You Do?  

Scenario:  You are a teacher.  It is the fifth week of school  and you have a special education student on your class roster that has never been to your class.  You have contacted the students parent on more than one occasion and notified them that their child does not attend your class.  In an all staff meeting it is announced, "do not fail any special education students, even if they have never been to class, LEGAL WILL NOT SUPPORT YOU".  

  • "Legal" is the  School Boards legal group responsible for interpreting laws and defining policies to ensure the schools compliance with those laws.  They are also responsible for determining if the school or individuals are adhering to the applicable laws.  
  • If a student misses class the teacher is mandated to contact the parent at least once.   
What would you do?  Do you fail the student that you have never seen and risk your job; or do you pass the student and remain in a position to support the students that you can reach?

Are you thinking that this scenario is not real?  In Chicago, during the 2009 - 2010 school year a neighborhood open enrollment high school principal was fired for requiring teachers to change grades.  Also that same school year, an all special education student public  high school was closed because the principal required teachers to change grades.  In both instances those "awful principals" took the blame, because "how could they do such a thing"?  But, who's really in charge here???? 

Let's place the blame and hold accountable those that are truly in charge and demand REAL action.  Let's also stop accepting the talking points backed up by jerry rigged statistics, that don't produce authentic results.  Not just the kids but our country loses when we accept lower educational standards than other nations and fail to place the blame where it truly belongs.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Hell Yeah, I Want That Job!!!!

How many of you would work hard in college to earn a Bachelor's degree, but more likely a Master's to work at your dream job.  Once you get that job you find that you spend at least six hours per week preparing to work, work a full schedule, then spend about at least four hours on follow-up.

You need supplies to perform your dream job, no problem you can purchase them at the local office supply store - - at your own expense.  Your work area has blank walls which you, yes you, are expected to decorate - - of course you pay for it.

No workplace is perfect, but when things go wrong at yours it's often solely your fault.

Your employer needs to cut costs, so layoffs are coming.  You find out that you've been laid off either by a voice-mail message or a maybe Powerpoint presentation in a team meeting.

Hearing these things, and yes they're true, how many would say "Hell Yeah, I Want That Job".  Well, hundred's of thousands do say "Hell Yeah, I Want That Job" everyday.  They're Public School Teachers.

Most teachers are professionals dedicated to educating and mentoring the children.  They do what they do because they love the kids, they know they need a good education to succeed, and they are committed to the kids success.

Now someone is remembering Mr. Somebody or Mrs. Somebody, who is/was a crappy teacher and thinking that what I'm saying is not true.  I admit, there are some people holding teacher positions that do not belong in the same zip code as a school.  Yes, they exist; but they are NOT the majority of teachers.  Teacher lead classes, yes,  but they also feed hungry kids, counsel kids through their struggles, be a shoulder to cry on, a source of encouragement, and the person who is proud of the kids accomplishments.  Don't judge the super majority by the behavior of the few and far between.

Someone is thinking, the best schools have the dedicated teachers and the worst schools are full of teachers that don't belong in a classroom.  WRONG!!!!!  Imagine the true dedication necessary to put in the time and effort everyday, doing everything you can, knowing that you will only reach a handful of kids and will lose the majority.  I'm not putting down teachers at good schools, I'm acknowledging that every school has good, strong, committed teachers.

Teachers, I applaud you, I admire you, I pray for you.  Continue to be the beacon of hope and love and confidence that the kids need and depend on.

Let me close giving a shout-out to the other unsung heroes in our schools:  the Administrators, the Counselors,  the Security, the Office Staff, the Janitorial Staff and the Lunchroom Staff.  There's a saying, "It takes a village to raise a child".  School personnel provide a village of safety, encouragement and love to our children.  They deserve our thanks not our derision.