Welcome to the blog of the California Teachers Empowerment Network. CTEN is a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers and the public at large with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues.
Thursday, September 22, 2016
Now that NCLB has been replaced by ESSA – the Every
Student Succeeds Act – California is readying a new school rating system and a
lot of people think it’s way too confusing.
“… a number of
parent activist groups and others are pushing the state board to adopt a
summative rating for schools based on the chosen indicators and that without
it, it will be difficult for families to compare schools or know how well their
school is educating their students. They also point to the “sea of colors” on the proposed school report
cards covering 17 categories, each of which is rated by one of five colors.
“In the absence of
a summative rating for a school, it becomes very difficult for families to hold
schools accountable for what happens within the walls,” said Seth Litt,
executive director of Parent Revolution, an organization that helps parents
push for better educational opportunities in their neighborhoods including
using the “parent trigger”
law to take over low-performing schools.
A parent writes,
finally going to measure every school based not only on test scores, but also
on their school safety and climate, graduation rates and efforts to engage
families. This new potential system, however, has been designed in such a way
that it will be virtually impossible for most families to easily understand
their school’s overall performance.
For example, the
new system does not include any overall rating for each school. Instead, the
plan is to give every family a report card with seventeen different categories,
each of which is rated by one of five colors. Every family will have to look at
this sea of colors and figure out for themselves whether their school is
excellent, about average or low performing.
teacher pay gap is wider than ever,” subtitled “Teachers’ pay continues to fall
further behind pay of comparable workers” is a 29-page report released by
the Economic Policy Institute, whose mission is “to inform and empower
individuals to seek solutions that ensure broadly shared prosperity and
opportunity.” But in fact EPI is nothing more than a union front group
whose board includes AFL-CIO’s Richard Trumka, SEIU’s Mary Kay Henry,
American Federation of Teachers’ Randi Weingarten, National Education
Association’s Lily Eskelsen-García, et al.
Not surprisingly, the EPI report is flawed. Perhaps the
most honest and well-researched study done on teacher pay, including
the time-on-the-job and benefits factors, was done in 2011 by Andrew Biggs, a
resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, and Jason Richwine, a
senior policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation. In their report, they destroy
the teacher union-perpetuated myth of the under-compensated teacher. Their
study, in fact, found that teachers are actually paid more than private-sector workers.
California’s Prop. 55, which would extend the “temporary”
tax hikes ushered in by Prop.30, would seem to be on track to pass in November.
Many voters, including a majority of Republicans, are in favor of the
Voters are also showing strong support for Proposition 55, a
measure on the November statewide ballot that would extend for 12 years an
income tax increase on individuals earning $250,000 or more per year to help
boost education and healthcare funding. Sixty-nine percent of voters showed
support for the measure.
One other initiative of note for educators is Prop. 56. If
passed it would increase the cigarette tax by
$2.00 per pack, with equivalent increases on other tobacco products and
electronic cigarettes. The tax revenue generated would go to “funding existing healthcare programs; also for tobacco
use prevention/control programs, tobacco-related disease research and law
enforcement….” However, opponents have a very different take. They say that,
“California’s Constitution (through Proposition 98), requires that schools get
at least 43% of any new tax increase. Prop 56 was purposely written to
undermine our Constitution’s minimum school funding guarantee, allowing special
interests to deceptively divert millions a year from schools to health
insurance companies and other wealthy special interests.”
AB 2835 was
birthed when CTA leaders were frightened that the Friedrichs decision
was going to go against them. They decided they needed to carve out an
opportunity to deliver a sales pitch to teachers who would no longer be
forced to pay money to the union as a condition of employment. But with Antonin
Scalia’s death and the Supreme Court’s subsequent refusal to rehear the case, the
bill became irrelevant; CTA and CFT still have a captive audience.
Did you know that Clovis, a city of about 100,000 located in
California’s San Joaquin Valley, home to the 16th largest school
district in the state, with 41,000 students, 47 schools, and 1,800 teachers,
functions without a teachers union? In fact, there has never been a teachers
union in Clovis, but teachers nevertheless have a prominent voice and role in the
district’s governance. Instead of a union, they have an elected Faculty Senate,
in which each school has a representative. The mission of the Faculty Senate is
to be “an effective advocate for teachers at all levels of policy making, procedures,
and expenditures, in partnership with our administrators, fellow employees, and
community as a quality educational team.” To learn more, please read my op-ed
in the Orange County Register – http://www.ocregister.com/articles/teachers-726147-clovis-california.html
And finally, as you well know, information is frequently
used to score political points and make cases for various causes. To that end,
CTEN has a “cheat sheet” on our website – with original sources. To see it, go
to http://www.ctenhome.org/cheatsheet.htmlIf you
have information that counters what’s there or would like to see something
added, please let us know.
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