Friday, September 25, 2015

Seattle School District Concedes to Union, 53,000 Kids Return to School

After a two-week standoff, Seattle Public Schools and the teachers union reached an agreement on a contract, putting an end to a strike that left 53,000 students out of class for six days.

“This agreement signals a new era in bargaining in public education,” Jonathan Knapp, president of the Seattle Education Association, said in a press release. “We’ve negotiated a pro-student, pro-parents, pro-educator [anti-taxpayer] agreement.”

Under the agreement, test scores will no longer be tied to teacher evaluations, and salaries will increase 9.5 percent over three years, paid for by the district. Teachers will also receive a 4.8-percent cost-of-living adjustment over two years from the state.

According to the non-profit education news site The Seventy Four, Seattle teachers’ median pay is $60,400, not including benefits, which exceeds the city’s median income of $43,200.

Currently, teachers are paid through a combination of state and district funding. A 2012 state Supreme Court decision mandates that by 2018, the state must pick up the entire tab of teacher salaries.

Teachers in Seattle hadn’t received a cost-of-living raise from the state in in six years. But some say their message on that fact is misleading, because teachers received pay increases in other forms.

“They say the state hasn’t given us a state increase, but they don’t mention the local levies have given pay increases,” said Liv Finne, director of education for the Washington Policy Center, which advocates for charter schools in the state. “They’re only telling half the story.”

Local levies are property taxes raised by school districts.

Some believe that the unions were incentivized to fight for higher salaries in their local districts because it will give them a bargaining chip when they negotiate with the state, as required under the state Supreme Court decision McCleary v. Washington.

By negotiating more money paid for by local levies early on, critics believe that it will be easier for the unions to negotiate higher salaries once the state takes over.

“It’s like a Ponzi scheme,” said Finne, who supports merit-based teacher pay reform. “The more that local levies provide for pay, the more the state is required to pay when they take over.”

Washington’s largest teachers union, the Washington Education Association, which represents the Seattle Educators Association, denied the accusation.

A spokesman told the Seattle Times the union was fighting for “other issues specific to their districts that addressed far more than money.”

Other highlights of the agreement include a guaranteed 30-minute recess for all elementary students, additional staff to reduce workloads and provide student services, the establishment of “race and equity teams” in 30 of the district’s schools, and compensation for a proposal to lengthen the school day by 20 minutes.

According to the Seattle Times, more than 3,000 teachers and school employees voted “overwhelmingly” to approve the three-year contract.

The Seattle Education Association represents 5,000 teachers and employees in the school district.


Attacks on Teachers

By Walter E. Williams

As the new school year begins, you might like to be updated on some school happenings that will no doubt be repeated this academic year. After this update, I have some questions one might ask the black leadership.

The ongoing and escalating assault on primary- and secondary-school teachers is not a pretty sight. Holly Houston is a post-traumatic stress specialist. She counsels teachers in Chicago public schools and reported, "Of the teachers that I have counseled over the years who have been assaulted, 100 percent of them have satisfied diagnostic criteria for PTSD." It's not just big-city schoolteachers traumatized. Dr. Darlyne Nemeth, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, said last year, "I have treated many teachers with PTSD, and I am currently following a few of them."

A Philadelphia seventh-grade girl with a history of incidents against her teacher sprayed perfume in the teacher's face after telling her that she smelled "like old white pussy." After telling her classmates "I'm about to kick this bitch's white ass," she shoved the teacher, knocking her to the floor. In 2014, a Philadelphia 68-year-old substitute teacher was knocked out cold by a student ( Earlier that year, two other teachers in the same school were assaulted. By the way, Philadelphia schools employ close to 400 school police officers.

In a school district near St. Louis, teachers have had pepper spray and dog repellant sprayed in their faces. A Baltimore teacher had his jaw broken. In Baltimore, each school day in 2010, an average of four teachers and staff were assaulted. A 325-pound high-school student in Houston knocked out his 66-year-old female teacher ( Nationally, an average of 1,175 teachers and staff were physically attacked each day of the 2011-12 school year.

School violence is going to get worse. Last year, the Obama administration sent all the school districts in the country a letter warning them to avoid racial bias when suspending or expelling students. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan claimed that racial discrimination in the administration of discipline is "a real problem today. It's not just an issue from 30 or 40 or 50 years ago." Last year, in Washington, D.C., an official of a teachers union tried to explain to a national gathering of black elected officials why white teachers are so problematic for black students, saying they just do not understand black culture. Excuses and calls for leniency will embolden school thugs.

What about student conduct in the 1930s, '40s and '50s? Don't take my word. Ask black congressional representatives, 46 percent of whom were born in the '20s, '30s or '40s. Start off with Reps. John Conyers (86), Charles Rangel (85), Eddie Bernice Johnson (79), Alcee Hastings (79) and Maxine Waters (77). Ask them whether their parents or kin would have tolerated their assaulting and cursing teachers or any other adult. Ask them what would have happened to them had they assaulted or cursed a teacher or adult. Ask whether their parents would have accepted the grossly disrespectful behavior seen among many black youngsters in public places — for example, using foul language and racial epithets. I'd bet the rent money that they won't tell you that their parents would have called for a "timeout." Instead, they will tell you that they would have felt pain in their hind parts. Then ask these leaders why today's blacks should accept behavior that previous generations would not.

The sorry and tragic state of black education and its attendant problems will not be turned around until there's a change in what's acceptable behavior and what's unacceptable behavior. That change must come from within the black community. By the way, it is an idiotic argument to suggest that white teachers are problematic for black students because they don't know the culture. I'm nearly 80 years old, and during my North Philadelphia school years, in schools that were predominantly black, at best there may have been three black teachers.


Ho hum! More Leftist hypocrisy in Britain

Chaotic government schools for the masses but selective schools for the Leftist elite

By Rachel Johnson

Almost all recent developments in the people's party have reminded me of what happened when I turned up at Harriet Harman's summer thrash this year at Labour HQ in a brutalist tower block in Westminster.

Left-wing writer Polly Toynbee (the great-granddaughter of an earl) went for me (the granddaughter of immigrants).

She reminded me – I had deleted this from my memory as I do most unpleasantness – that during a recent debate with her and another Guardianista, George Monbiot, on 'Who Rules Britain?' I'd told the audience that Polly had sent her children to private school. She hadn't liked it.  'You went personal,' she said over the Twiglets, as though my comment was below the belt.

I gibbered my apology – she did have a point, plus I hate it when people are cross – but as we parted, Polly warned me pleasantly that the next time we did an event together, she would go for the jugular, too.

As I revealed in The Spectator several years ago, Tony and Cherie Blair took the credit for sending their children to the London Oratory, a state school, but had them tutored on the side by teachers from top private school Westminster.

Harriet Harman, who did a brilliant job as interim Labour leader (frankly the party should have begged her to stay on), sent her son to a grammar, while former Labour Education Secretary Ruth Kelly sent her son to a private school.

As it happens, I don't blame them for wanting the best education in the world for their offspring, and advantages that other children from less well-off households could not afford. I have done the same myself.

No, what sticks in my craw as a social liberal who believes in market-based capitalism is that comrades-in-arms see no irony at all in the fact that they proclaim their support for Pikettian pre-distribution but also have villas in Umbria and buy their kids grad-pads.

Labour politicians and their supporters are happy to direct an endless stream of contemptuous superiority at the many who don't match their elevated standards of doctrinal purity, but somehow, as soon as they are given opportunity to put their money where their mouth is, they fail to match their deeds to their worthy words.

For the moment, the narrative of the Beige Spring is that all Tories are poverty-denying 'scum' (that will change, of course, when the party realises that it needs to make friends and influence Conservative voters, too).

Tories may well indeed be ghastly – full of bounders and bores – but at least they don't advertise their moral CVs for all to admire. In fact, they often do the opposite.

When my brother Boris was asked about the cost of a pint of milk, he joked that he hadn't a clue, but he DID know the price of a bottle of champagne.

Tories may be scum in the eyes of all the red-flag-flying Bollinger Bolsheviks, but at least no one could accuse us of being hypocritical scum.


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