Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Tennessee County School Board Fires Teachers Union

-By Warner Todd Huston

Now this is more like it. Back in October of 2010 the Sumner County, Tennessee School Board decertified the Sumner County Education Association (SCEA), the union for county teachers, because it no longer satisfied the law by counting as members fifty percent plus one of the total number of employees requiring a teaching certificate. This, school board officials said, means that the SCEA can no longer engage in collective bargaining for teachers.

The school board has used this opportunity to immediately begin rewriting the relationship between teachers and schools.

Naturally, the union is running straight to what is usually the last bastion of mindless obeisance to union obstructionism, the courts, and is suing to force the school board to accede to union demands regardless of the law.

For its part, the union says that just over fifty-two percent of the county schools employees are union members and so they are still in charge. The school board points out, though, that this percentage actually does not satisfy the law because the requirements are that fifty percent plus one of the actual teachers -- those employees requiring a teachers certificate to work -- need to be in the union, not over fifty percent of all school employees -- which includes janitors, administrators and other non-teacher employees.

But the union doesn't care about the law. SCEA representatives want the courts to force the school board to deal with them anyway. As State Senator Stacy Campfield says, "I fail to see why anyone has the guaranteed right to force an employer to negotiate with a union if they don't want to. Where else besides government does that happen in the real world?"

The case will be heard in the courts in the middle of this month, February. But in the meantime, the school board has quickly moved forward to change insurance benefits to require teachers to pay twenty percent of their healthcare insurance instead of the fifteen percent negotiated by the union.

It is good to see government bodies making efforts to eliminate public employee unions. These anti-democratic, budget-killing entities should never have been allowed to exist in the first place. Public employee unions are antithetical to good government certainly.

But there might be even better news in Tennessee on this subject. Tennessee State Representative Debra Young Maggart has introduced a bill that would make it illegal for any school board to have to negotiate with a teachers union at all HB 0130 would eliminate collective bargaining for teachers in the state.

Of course unionists are going crazy over this one claiming that the rep hates teachers and kids! But Maggart insists it isn't an anti-teacher bill.

"This is not an anti-teacher bill," Maggart said. "It is an anti-collective bargaining bill. And I think that this bill serves the best interest for our teachers, our students and our school systems across the state."

Let's hope this bill passes. If you are in Tennessee you should urge your reps to support it. And if it does pass it should serve as a model for other states to emulate. It will be a giant step toward taking back control of our schools as well as a strike for fiscal responsibility.


Georgia teacher sacked for posting picture of herself holding glass of wine and mug of beer on Facebook

The Puritans asre alive and well

With a pint of beer in one hand and a glass of wine in the other, the worst thing you could accuse Ashley Payne of is mixing her drink. But this happy holiday snap has cost the high school teacher her job after a parent spotted it on Facebook - and complained. The picture was taken while travelling around Europe in the summer of 2009.

But Miss Payne, 24, was shocked when she was summoned to the head teacher's office at Apalachee High School, in Winder, Georgia, and offered an ultimatum.

She told CBS News: 'He just asked me, "Do you have a Facebook page?" 'And you know, I'm confused as to why I am being asked this, but I said, "Yes", and he said, "Do you have any pictures of yourself up there with alcohol?"' He then offered her an option: resign or be suspended. She chose to resign.

School officials also took offence to the use of the B-word on the page.

Miss Payne is now in a bitter legal battle with the school to get her job back. Her lawyer, Richard Storrs, said: 'It would be like I went to a restaurant and I saw my daughter's teacher sitting there with her husband having a glass of some kind of liquid.

'You know, is that frowned upon by the school board? Is that illegal? Is that improper? Of course not. It's the same situation in this case.'

The English teacher later found out it was one anonymous emailer who shopped her to the school board after seeing the picture on the social networking site. But she is baffled how a parent could gain access to her page when she has all her privacy settings on 'high', meaning only her closest friends have permission to see her pictures.

She admits putting the 'offensive' snaps on Facebook but says she now feels as if she had stashed them in a shoebox at home for them to be stolen and showed to the headteacher.

Court documents reveal that officials warned teachers about 'unacceptable online activities'. They claimed her page 'promoted alcohol use' and 'contained profanity'.

She now wants to clear her name and claim back her job. She added: 'I just want to be back in the classroom, if not that classroom, a classroom. I want to get back doing what I went to school for, my passion in life.'


British school teaches pupils in classes of SEVENTY... and says children are learning more

The conventional wisdom has long been straightforward: smaller classes equal better lessons. But a headmaster has rewritten the school rules with mammoth class sizes of up to 70 – and he says the result has been a dramatic improvement in standards.

Bure Valley Junior School, in Norfolk, teaches youngsters aged seven to nine in groups of 60 to 70. The classes, which it claims are the biggest in the country, are divided into smaller groups and taught by two teachers and two assistants in one big classroom.

Headmaster John Starling insists that since beginning the experiment two years ago, his pupils have doubled the amount they learn in a year. It has been so successful, he says, that he plans to roll it out to the rest of the school.

Mr Starling believes larger classes make lessons more fun and collaborative for pupils and teachers, improving the quality of teaching. ‘We’ve monitored the children very carefully in core subjects,’ he said. ‘At the end of the first year we found they had made double the progress they had in the previous year. Staff can work closely with specific groups of children within classes and teachers benefited because they had colleagues in the same room. ‘Teachers are enjoying it, they’re not on their own and it’s particularly good for newly qualified teachers because they have an experienced colleague on hand.’

Ofsted has rated the school ‘good’ overall and the teaching in the super-sized classes ‘outstanding’.

With the population set to balloon in the next decade - with 500,000 new primary school places needed by 2018 – ministers, head teachers and educationalists will watch the experiment with interest. At present the average size of a state primary class is 26.2 pupils. By law it is not allowed to exceed 30 for children aged four to eight.

There are, however, no restrictions for nine-year-olds, allowing Mr Starling to boost his classes to 70 for the older children. For the younger children, he got round the law by using two teachers.

The headmaster’s move follows the extraordinary admission of former education secretary Charles Clarke – who was responsible for enshrining in law a 30-pupil maximum – that there was no evidence to suggest smaller classes were better.

But it has brought an angry response from teaching unions, who have long fought to reduce numbers in lessons. And independent schools – which have an average of 9.2 students per class – admit a low pupil-teacher ratio is their key selling point.

Class sizes have been a hot political topic for decades. Until the 1940s education was very ad hoc and pupils of all ages were often taught together in a large village hall. By the 1960s, when 10 per cent of primary classes housed more than 40 pupils, unions campaigned for a 40-pupil maximum. They are now calling for classes of 20 by 2020.

Christine Blower, of the National Union of Teachers, said: ‘The independent sector does not seem to be convinced by the argument that class size does not matter and nor is the NUT. ‘The most common reason given by parents to take their children out of the state school system and go into the independent sector is the issue of smaller classes and the obvious benefits they perceive them to have. This ensures that teachers can give the very best to all children in their class.’

David Lyscom, of the Independent Schools Association, said: ‘We know that low pupil-teacher ratios, maintained over a number of years, are valued by parents of our pupils.’

The Coalition has refused to be drawn on the possibility of enlarged classes, saying it hopes to tackle high demand with new state schools and ‘free’ schools.


1 comment:

Michael Brady said...

Montessori class size; upwards of 45 students, under the guidance of one teacher (called a "director") and one non-teaching adult assistant.

Montessori ... a hundred years old and still going strong.