Tuesday, October 29, 2013

"Why Teachers' Unions Want Sex Offenders In Your Child's Classroom"

This past week the most prominent teachers' unions made it painfully obvious, they are on the side of the sex offender, rapist, and murderer who has been convicted.

They are not now (and pretty much never have been) on the side of your child.

They claim to represent the interests of teachers. Yet I am hard pressed to find an average teacher who feels like the unions have done pretty much anything for them. The average teacher just feels the pinch when the union bosses take the dues from their paychecks and threaten any who dare to "get out of line."

Yet nary a teacher that could be found this week could take any pride from the unions' latest actions.

This week--in atypical overwhelming bi-partisan unity--the House of Representatives passed a measure that would allow schools to require teachers, coaches, and janitors to be subject to criminal background checks. The measure would allow the school to deny employment to any who had been convicted (not *suspected, indicted, or accused--but convicted) of past felonies. The measure would also allow the school to take a pass on any previously convicted sex-offender. The measure will now head to the Senate.

If the Senate cares about the welfare of children they will pass the measure forthwith.  The problem is--they may not care about the kids.

The Senate is majority Democrat in party affiliation, and Democrat candidates rely heavily upon huge disproportionate contributions to their campaign funds from the unions to get re-elected. So now Majority Leader Harry Reid is being lobbied hard by the teachers' unions to kill the bill, or direct fellow Democrats to vote it to defeat. You can encourage Reid to ignore them by calling his office at 202.224.3121.

But why would the unions representing the teachers of America (who I believe universally support the measure-sans any hidden criminals amongst their ranks) wish to pair up child rapists with children?

My hunch says: They just don't believe anybody cares.

And why should they? This week a movie theater in New York defied the law, and good common sense to openly invite children under the age of 17 to come and see an "artistic" graphic film that depicts intense scenes of nothing-to-the-imagination lesbian sex that runs nearly 3 hours in length. They went so far as to publicly announce that they would not ban under-agers from seeing the film. When writing about it for the New York Times, cultural reporter A. O. Scott more or less admitted to actions that would have had him arrested as a sex offender forty years ago, saying he had proudly encouraged his daughter of 14 to see the film... Twice...

No doubt a generation ago, had he taken his own daughter of 14 to a peep show he would've been listed as a sex offender. The irony of this fact--completely lost on Scott--didn't prevent him from bragging about his "permissive" nature in his column... in the New York Times... admitting his own moral laxity.

Add to this the fact that in more than one case against teachers who have raped their own students, the teachers' unions have come to the defense of--not the child but rather the--teacher in recent months with not an overtly noted outcry from the public and you begin to realize something is desperately amiss.

While our society at one time thought more clearly about sexual activity, sexual content, and sexual contact between children, children and adults, and children and teachers, we don't seem to any more.

In other words the lessening of our sexual mores have led to a genuine shift in what is safe, decent, and good for children.

The grand bet that is being waged is that the teachers' unions can lean on the Majority Leader hard enough to kill the legislation (never bring it up for a vote) and that the average parent will never care.

This is the case only because we are a society that in some measure has stopped thinking for ourselves and instead placed our trust in the "smart people" (you know... the kind that run teachers' unions and talk about sexual prudishness of people of faith at wine and cheese parties in New York and DC) to make the decisions for them.

The question as it rests with you now is...  Are they right?


When Teachers Become the Board of Dictators

The notion of a governing board is to provide authoritative representation within organizations whose interest is jointly held by multiple individuals. For instance, machinery manufacturer Caterpillar Inc. is owned by literally millions of people who have purchased stock in the company. Their relative number of shares equates to their percentage of ownership in Caterpillar. Along with the financial stake, ownership also translates into voting rights for electing members of Caterpillar’s governing board.

The governing board for a corporation or a non-profit is referred to as the board of directors. College and University institutions carry the terms board of trustees or board of regents. At the K-12 level, we use the common term board of education. The selection of the members of each governing board is made by vote of the stakeholders.

The most common vote cast by corporation stakeholders is for the purpose of selecting the members of the board of directors at the annual shareholders meeting. Board members of privately held educational institutions are typically selected by the standing board members. For public educational institutions, both university and K-12, the represented citizens select the board members through the civic election process.

Governing boards are structured in generally the same manner, whether a corporate board of directors, a university board of trustees, or a board of education. Their duties include: guiding the organization by way of broad policies and objectives; appointing, supervising, and compensating the chief executive officer; managing the availability of financial resources; approving overall annual budgets; and accounting for the organization’s performance to the stakeholders.

For a corporation like Caterpillar, the board of directors is a group of 15 professionals who are entrusted by the shareholders to ensure a good return on their investment. The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) reports to the Caterpillar Board of Directors. And all employees ultimately report to the CEO. Should the company not perform well, the board is expected to make adjustments to financing or, when necessary, a change in leadership personnel. And shareholders meetings afford the opportunity for the stakeholders to ask driving questions and register their opinions as the ultimate organization authority.

Of course, it would be unseemly for employees to assert their points of view at a shareholders meeting. How awkward would it be for employees to step up to the microphone and give the Board of Directors a piece of their mind about board policy and how their boss ought to be getting things done? Caterpillar has a well-established management hierarchy to accept employee recommendations and a fully staffed human resources department to address matters of morale.

And how unnatural would it seem to Caterpillar stockholders if they were to receive campaigning from company employees attempting to persuade their board membership votes? It would make sense for shareholders to challenge each other in coming to a majority decision about which individuals would best serve their interests in guiding the company’s direction. Employee morale and welfare would certainly rank high on the list of the shareholders’ concerns. But shareholders receiving mail, phone calls, and front-porch visits from the Caterpillar employees’ union would be unwelcome and downright creepy. But that is the methodology of teachers unions in the K-12 world.

Ever since Massachusetts Senate President Horace Mann ushered in America’s first board of education in 1837, voters have been electing their fellow citizens to represent community values in education. And the decisions are not simple. Considerations include levels of taxation, curriculum, and standards of achievement. Every parent argues for the finest preparation, every taxpayer argues for the most effective investment, and every thinking citizen argues for principle.

Once board members are elected, they avail themselves to the citizen stakeholders in public meetings. Policy discussions and decisions are made in the open for parents and taxpayers to witness and to persuade. The system is as flawed and as wonderful as a shared responsibility can be, executing democratic principles on behalf of those most precious to us all.

Each of us remembers that teacher who inspired us to chase our daydream (thank you, Christopher Cox), found a way to make Spanish class interesting (gracias, Señora Balestri), or got us to actually look forward to geometry tests (thank you, Tom Stager). We ask a great deal of those who teach. And we value them for their skills, talents and devotion to our students. But I contend that it is wholly improper for a teachers union to assert itself into the citizens’ debate over K-12 boards of education. And it is plain malapropos for teachers to short-circuit the district hierarchy by addressing the board members directly at school board meetings. These public practices amount to sacred customs that do not invite the interference of a closed interest.


British High School grades 'to be axed' in favour of numerical system

The traditional GCSE grading system is facing the axe as part of sweeping reforms designed to toughen up qualifications for 16-year-olds.

Exam chiefs are planning to scrap the current A* to G structure in favour of one based on numbers to properly differentiate between old and new GCSEs, it will be announced.

The system – applied to courses taught from September 2015 – is likely to result in pupils being given a grade from one to eight, with eight representing the highest level of performance.

Grade boundaries will also be recalibrated to make the very top scores harder to achieve amid fears the existing system provides “insufficient discrimination” at the top end.

The disclosure will be made in a document published by Ofqual setting out the future of GCSEs in England this week.

Further changes could include:

 *  Scrapping the modular system in which GCSEs are broken up into bite-sized chunks in favour of all exams sat at the end of the two year course;

 *  Ensuring that subjects graded entirely through end-of-course exams will involve a test lasting at least three-and-a-half hours;

 *  Axing coursework in most subjects apart from the sciences where practical assessments will form 10 per cent of the total mark;

 *  Abolishing tiered papers – easy and harder exams based on pupils’ abilities – apart from in maths and the sciences.

The conclusions follow a 12-week consultation launched by Ofqual earlier this year amid claims from Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, that GCSEs had been devalued.

Speaking in the summer, he said there was a "widespread consensus that we need to reform our examination system to restore public confidence", insisting that the new version would be “more challenging, more ambitious and more rigorous”.

GCSEs were introduced by the Conservatives in the late 80s to replace O-levels. Pupils were originally graded from A to G but the A* grade was added in the 90s amid fears that the exams failed to properly mark out the very brightest pupils.

It is thought that Ofqual will recommend moving towards a numerical grading system in new GCSEs to signal a clear break with the past. The "U" grade is likely to be retained for pupils who fail altogether.

Reformed exams in English language, English literature and maths will be brought into schools in two years’ time. Changes to qualifications in science, history and geography will be delayed until 2016, it has emerged.

This week, the Department for Education is also expected to publish the final content of the new English and maths GCSEs, with maths syllabuses expected to be double the size of the existing course.

In a separate development on Sunday, it emerged that Ofqual is considering removing a number of “soft” GCSEs from the list of approved subjects sat by 14- to 16-year-olds.

The GCSE brand may be reserved for academic subjects, while disciplines such as media studies, PE and drama are renamed. It would create a clear dividing line between academic and more practical subjects.

An Ofqual spokesman insisted that the proposal would not form part of this week’s report but would be considered separately in the future.

He said the regulator was “looking at whether all the existing subjects should be included in the GCSE brand”.


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