Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Democrats, Republicans, and Entertainers

Once again, members of the Grand Old Party have gathered in conclave for the purpose of anointing yet another incumbent President as its candidate for the upcoming election. Usually, Republicans like to gather in some friendly place that is congenial to their party's societal outlook and vision. Cities in the Midwest come to mind.... This time around it is different. The Traveling Road Show that is known as the Republican Party has descended, in of all places, that Mecca of Democratic Liberalism, New York City. New York New York, the city so nice, they named it twice.

Hordes of Republicans have rode into what may be thought of as "enemy territory." This is because, according to CNN, Democrats outnumber Republicans 5 to 1.

For the past few electoral cycles, political conventions have been merely set-piece stages for generating sound-bites for the fall campaign ads. The entire convention is carefully choreographed to produce an image of lockstep unity. There are no longer floor demonstrations for opposing candidates, multiple ballots, delegate walkouts, or floor fights over planks in the platform. Therefore the conventioneers have a lot of time on their hands.......

Naturally, many of these mostly white, mostly well-to-do men become bored. And what do many bored men look for when they are bored? Why they seek feminine company, of course. Being that their party is supposedly the "moral" party, your EdWonk assumes that many of the heavily made-up and overdone females that are attending this gathering are "off-limits " for a variety of reasons. Perhaps the most obvious is that if caught by a jealous spouse there would be a likelihood of divorce. And divorce is so expensive.

So what does a bored conventioneer do? Why he seeks the assistance of a professional "entertainer," that's what he does. After all, isn't that what expense accounts are for? Now since we already know that 5 out of every 6 people in New York City are Democrats, wouldn't that be sleeping with the enemy? Or do only Liberal Democrats do that?


Monday, August 30, 2004

Paradise, Favorites, and The Evaluation Headgame

It is well known around the Education Community that principals evaluate teachers. Many teachers publicly "shrug-off" evaluations with an "I'm not worried about it" attitude. As a matter of fact, nearly all teachers do worry about their evaluations. All appearances of non-worry aside, there is something disquieting about having a person walk into your classroom unannounced, sit down, and start taking notes. Fact is, your job's security is often placed into the hands of an individual that has not actually taught since the Stone Age.

Like nearly every rule in the Education World, there are exceptions. The Evaluation Headgame is no different. There are two distinctly different groups of teachers that truly do not worry about their performance evaluations.

The first group are those teachers that have less than five years before retirement. These teachers do not worry because by the time the system can threaten their jobs, they are have entered teacher paradise. (Otherwise known as retirement.) Teachers such as these are particularly safe if they have a desk drawer full of good evaluations from prior years. Even though teachers so close to retirement are often thought of by their younger colleagues as "burned out" the opposite is often true. It is a fact that many last-year teachers don't run at 110%. But a greater number like to finish their careers with a strong (teaching wise) last year.

The second group of teachers that are immune from the Evaluation Head Games is actually toxic to the school community. Any person that has worked for any time at all in a public school will recognize this group. They are collectively known as The Principal's Favorites. This clique (And clique it is as membership is by invitation only.) does not worry at all about performance evaluations. For them, the evaluative process is a mere formality.

Favorites nearly always take advantage of the special place that they occupy within the school hierarchy. They think of themselves as the principal's buddies. Favorites can arrive late at staff meetings and have side conversations among themselves during the meeting. They may be rude or ill-behaved toward other staff. They do these things without any fear of consequences. Members of this group nearly always have a very negative effect on morale, as those that don't belong to the clique resent the privileges that membership confers.

A wise principal will not allow the existence of a group that can be thought of as The Principal's Favorites. He or she should assume the same attitude of a ship's captain. That is to say, " it's lonely at the top." As the captain of a ship cannot have buddies among the crew, so should the principal of a school avoid having buddies within the faculty.

Should any captain or principal fail to maintain a certain distance with the crew or staff, he or she should find another vessel to command.


Sunday, August 29, 2004

Math Lesson For Reg Weaver

Once again, National Education Association President Reg Weaver needs to be educated. The subject for today is Math. It seems that Reg can't multiply.

Weather he likes it or not, your EdWonk is forced to pay dues to the N.E.A. This Union is both notorious for its profligate waste of dues money and its liberal views. The NEA routinely gives generous financial support (After all, its not their money.) for Democratic candidates to state and federal offices.

The NEA also has a highly inflated view of itself. Like all other members of the NEA (forced or not) the EdWonk receives a pamphlet that is just full of NEA propaganda. The pamphlet is distributed eight times per year. Each issue of this pamphlet, which is called, "NEA Today" has as its lead feature an article by Reg Weaver himself.

After informing us of July's 9000 person all-expenses-paid event in Washington, (that he refers to as a "Representative Assembly" and we hear at The Education Wonks refer to as a Junket) Weaver goes on to let us know that, "NEA has 2.7 million members." According to Weaver, "That's roughly 1 in every 10 Americans." Now your EdWonk is not a math expert, really, but he can do the usual addition, subtraction, division, and..........multiplication.

Given that there are about 270 million people in The United States, the EdWonk knows that 2.7 million members does not equal 1 in 10 Americans, but 1 in 100. Furthermore, since your EdWonk is in a mood to multiply, he would like to multiply the number of members by the dues that each category of member pays.

But the NEA's own website lacks any financial information whatsoever. There is no budget, no breakdown of dues, no listing of expenses, nothing. Perhaps Mr. Weaver's lack of math skills is indicative of another problem: The NEA cannot spell the word accountability.


Saturday, August 28, 2004

Bad Behavior Pays...Yet Again

One of our operatives working in what Bill O'Reilly terms "Fly Over Country" has reported to your EdWonk yet another case of a school administrator behaving badly. As in other such incidents, the school administrator in question was forced to cry, .....as Liberace used to say.....all the way to the bank.

On the last day of March, of this year, Floyd Marshall, Superintendent of schools in Newport, Arkansas got into a little shoving match after a board meeting. It seems as though a local reporter was questioning the superintendent about some new rules that Marshall had proposed regarding news policies and advertising within the district. According to our source, the proposed new rule would forbid announcers from criticizing sports officials, coaches, or players during any school-sponsored athletic event. The proposal also included first-time charges for local media that wished to cover high school sports events. Naturally, local media types were unhappy about the proposed arrangement.

The squabble itself was soon broken up and produced no casualties. No one was rushed to the emergency room. However, in this small town of 7000 people the scandal was enormous. Multitudes of parents began calling for Marshall's resignation. After all, if it had been a teacher that had publicly shoved a member of the media, no doubt Marshall would have wasted no time demanding the offending teacher's resignation. Consequently, the school board met the following week and suspended Marshall with pay because of his bad behavior.

So what do we have? A superintendent behaving badly, parents that are calling for the removal of the superintendent, and a board that seems to be responding to parental pressure. And what actually happened? Marshall cut a deal. After a closed-door meeting in mid April, he resigned his position as superintendent of the 1600 student district. One would think that should have been the end of it.

But that was not the end of it. The "end" is that the board will continue to pay Marshall's salary until June 2006. And that salary will add up to a whopping $233,000. The real punch line of this sad joke is that not only will the Newport school board pay the salary of the old superintendent, they will have to pay the salary of the new superintendent as well.

Obviously the Newport, Arkansas School District Governing Board needs to be Educated.

Marshall even got a consolation prize. In early August he began a new job as principal of Carlisle High School, which is located in a nearby District. Who says you can't get paid twice for the same job? Your EdWonk wishes that he could get some of that.


Friday, August 27, 2004

National Education Association Nonsense

Like many people employed in the Education Industry, the EdWonk is forced to belong to a Union. The theory is that a Union protects teachers from oftentimes capricious management and represents the needs and desires of those that belong a.k.a. the ones that pay the dues, which the Education Wonk assures his readers are substantial.

To all you teacher wannabees out there, let's understand something. A Union does not represent New Teachers. What a union does is protect the interests of those that are entrenched in its hierarchy. The typical union local is dominated by teachers that are.... let us say.... approaching (or have already passed) the "sell by" date. To maintain this power, they will do everything and anything to prevent any meaningful reform of the status quo. Union Officials will often lie, cheat, and steal to get and maintain their Union Positions. This often includes the "fixing" of elections in order to keep anyone out that may even breathe the word "reform."

What Union Officers get are expense accounts, travel to such hotbeds of educational reform as Lake Tahoe, Waikiki, Las Vegas, Anchorage, Alaska (in summer) and Washington D.C. (when Congress is adjourned) And most importantly, their status as Union Officers will often protect them from any attempts by the Administrative Apparatus (the subject of a future commentary) to control or otherwise get them to perform as those that do not enjoy protections afforded by a "Union Officer" label.

The vast majority of Union Officers do little or no actual Union work.

That is why the EdWonk found it particularly amusing when he received a booklet (we dare not call it a magazine.) from the National Education Association. The pamphlet described the Union's latest convention, held in Washington back in July. Some 9000 "delegates" attended at Dues-payers expense. (We wonder how the escort services did during that week.) Among the many resolutions that were passed (under the laughingly subtitled moniker "Democracy in Action") was amendment H-3, which is called "The Right To Vote."

This amendment declared that, "The National Education Association believes that the principle of one-person-one-vote must apply at all levels of government, including the President of the United States." The amendment also states that, "The Association recognizes the right to vote as a constitutional right guaranteed to all eligible citizens."

Your Education Wonk thinks that this is especially hilarious because in all his many years service in the Education Industry he has never been allowed to even cast a vote for the President of the National Education Association. In fact, there has never been an election for any national-level officer of the N.E.A.

A great many of the positions that are adopted by the N.E.A. are from the agenda of the Ultra-Liberal Left. And to "cap it all" the N.E.A. endorsed the candidacy of Democratic Nominee John Kerry. Of course nobody bothered to ask the membership what it thought of all the social tinkering or candidate endorsements. Such techniques as computer polling or even telephone balloting are probably beyond the mental capabilities of most union leadership. Or maybe the correct answer is that a poll or vote would have been an exercise in democracy. And democracy is not allowed in the teachers' unions.

Perhaps National Education Association President Reg Weaver needs to be Educated and practice what his organization preaches to the rest of us.


Thursday, August 26, 2004

Attempted Poisoning of Teacher Goes Unpunished

As reported by The Imperial Valley Press, back in June of this year, three male fifth grade students allegedly attempted to poison their teacher by adding a substance to the teacher's coffee. The deed was done in the normally sleepy little California town known as El Centro.

Finally, nearly three months after the fact, it has been determined that the boys will not face formal charges for their misdeed.

Now El Centro is a town of about 38,000 people that is located, literally, in the center of an agricultural area called The Imperial Valley. This is the place where a number of well-to-do farmers have been attempting (for years) to sell their federally subsidized water to the highest bidder for substantial personal gain. (The EdWonk wishes that the Federal Government would give him some water that he could sell to some thirsty coastal town for personal gain.)

Like most small towns, one's last name often means the difference between prosecution for criminal behavior and the proverbial "slap on the wrist."

To return to our story, it is said that one of the youngsters brought the substance to school, another held onto it, and a third actually placed the stuff in the unsuspecting teacher's coffee. Being kids, they couldn't resist telling their tale to school mates and so were found out. As an excuse for their misbehavior, the boys indicated that the teacher had been saying, according to the Press, "Negative remarks" to them.

Fortunately for our coffee-drinking teacher, the substance that was used is the material that is put into aspirin bottles to keep the pills nice and dry. It looks like something Lucrecia Borgia might have used, but it is actually harmless. The teacher was, however, hospitalized just to be on the safe side.

Naturally, many teachers are upset over the outcome of this episode. The lesson that school administrators want teachers to infer from this sorry escapade is this: "Coffee in the morning, teacher take warning." The administrative viewpoint is that the teacher was the cause of this episode because he was drinking coffee in his classroom. The EdWonk is certain that school administrators would not give up their morning coffee in the office.

Regardless of outcome, the boys should have been prosecuted, but were not. Somewhere in El Centro California there is an assistant district attorney that is in serious need of being Educated.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

From the Leave Those Kids Alone Department

This evening's Larry King Show featured yet another of those "I know-that-I-shouldn't-watch-this-but-I-can't-help-myself" stories about yet another attractive female teacher seducing one of her male students. But this one is somewhat different. The perpetrator, one Heather Ingram, is.....Canadian. I know what your thinking: "EdWonk, you did not hear that correctly; Canadians don't even have sex, much less illicit sex." (One of The Education Wonk's Sources has verified that many Canadians do have sex......occasionally.)

The EdWonk assures his readers that Ms. Ingram is indeed Canadian, and did indeed have an intimate relationship with one of her male students. What makes this case even more outrageous is that Ingram expresses no regrets for her actions and is even in a position to profit by her crimes. In her own words, "I am so much stronger; ultimately it was worth it." Of course she has written a book, My Student, My Lover, My Story. We are sure that you will want to get your copy from Amazon real soon.

Could this lack of regret be because the only "punishment" that she received was 10 months of house arrest and 100 hours of community "service". In other words, she couldn't go outside and play except to perform her "service." (We wonder what type of ah..uh.. ahem...."services" that she performed.)

Now if this had been a MAN teacher, he would have gotten 30 years in the slammer. No doubt about it, there is a double standard at play here.

Ms. Ingram, The EdWonk has one thing that he would like to say to you: "Silly teacher, students are for teachin not for squeezin." Ms. Ingram, you have been officially Educated.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Not Your Regl'r Shakespeare Part II

The EdWonk has found that the... ah...er..."different"... presentation of Romeo and Juliet is being produced by Mohawk Trail High School, which is a public school located in Shelburne Falls Massachusetts. Shelburne Falls is located in the ultra-hip, ultra liberal, ultra well-to-do (read that as rich) district that the inhabitants casually refer to as "The Berkshires." For all of us who do not have large summer homes that we call "cottages," The Berkshires are where we find Amherst College, Smith College (girls only) Mt. Holyoke College (richer girls only) and Hampshire College (which is for those of us that don't live on trust-fund interest).

All that liberalism adds-up to an overdose of political correctness, which leads us to ask...

Since all the parts are being played by teenage gals, what is being done to accomodate male students that have an inclination to play-act? And are only females allowed in the audience?

Or is having males play males and females play females too "old fashioned?"

Monday, August 23, 2004

Not Your Regl'r Shakespeare

One of our confidential informants has indicated to your Education Wonk that there is to be an unusual performance of the classic tragedy "Romeo & Juliet," at a certain public High School in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts. What makes this version of the play so entertaining (for some) is that it is rumored that all roles will played by young women. If this is true, then perhaps, just maybe, there is a drama teacher out there somewhere in New England that needs to get "Educated." The EdWonk promises further information for his devoted readers as it becomes known to the Team.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Attempt by Possible Terrorists to Infiltrate United States by Crossing the Mexican Border

Our friends at the Imperial Valley Press (edition of Sunday, August 22nd) in El Centro, California www.ivpressonline.com have let your EdWonk know that 8 people were arrested August 19th near the U.S./Mexico border in the city of Mexicali. Aside from the fact that they were arrested on the Mexican side of the border, what sets these individuals apart is the fact that all were from Armenia, Iran, and Iraq. All were in Mexico illegally.

Six were transported to Mexico City and two were turned over to U.S. officials. Their disposition remains unknown as of this writing. The arrests came about a half-hour after Mexican authorities received an F.B.I. warning of possible attempts by persons from the Middle East to illegally enter the United States via the Mexican border. One of the two women that were caught is eight months pregnant. The EdWonk fervently hopes that before the lady gives birth, she will enroll in a parenting class.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Teachers Losing Tax Breaks For Class Supplies

According to an article published August 15th in the Los Angeles Times, classroom teachers are losing modest tax credits and deductions that had been allowed in both Federal and State of California income tax returns. These changes will be effective for the 2004 tax year. The cost to practicing teachers will range from a few hundred dollars for first-year teachers to approximately $1200 for those educators with several years of experience.