Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Evergreen State Faces $2.1 MILLION Budget Crisis After Radical Students Go Berserk

The Evergreen State College is facing a $2.1 million budget shortfall and a five percent plunge in enrollment in the wake of this spring’s continuous stream of high-profile protests led largely by radical black students.

Officials at the taxpayer-funded campus in Olympia, Washington broke the bad news to the school community in an Aug. 28 memo obtained by The College Fix.

Student registration for the fall quarter at Evergreen State has decreased from 3,922 students to 3,713 students. Critically, most of the missing students are nonresidents who would pay substantially higher out-of-state tuition — $24,138 per year versus just $6,678 for Washington residents.

The missing tuition dollars aren’t the only problem for the public school. There’s also an ongoing state budget crisis, an unavoidable cost-of-living increase for employees and an expected increase in operating costs.

The cumulative financial effect for Evergreen State is a $2.1 million budget deficit for the current fiscal year (which began July 1). “This creates the need for significant budget cuts in the immediate future,” the Aug. 28 memo dryly explains.

School officials have already temporarily laid off 17 maintenance workers. More pink slips are looming.

Additional layoffs “will become impossible to avoid” “if the capital budget crisis at the state level continues indefinitely,” the memo states.

“In a college where 89 percent of the operating budget is in salaries and benefits, it is impossible to reduce the budget by substantial amounts without giving up positions. In anticipation of this, we will soon be announcing a hiring freeze,” the memo also says, according to The College Fix.

Students should not be alarmed about funding for diversity initiatives, though. “Our work in equity and inclusion is an important step in this process,” the memo assures.

The protests which engulfed Evergreen State in May and June involved a “Day of Absence” event “inviting” every white student, professor and administrator to leave campus for a day.

Intense protests occurred after Bret Weinstein, an Evergreen State biology professor, criticized the racially segregated school event. Weinstein was driven into hiding by student radicals for expressing his opinion.

Video footage of a confrontation involving malcontent students and school president George Bridges shows student protests shows students going berserk, obscenely screaming about “racist white teachers” and “white-assed administrators.” There are the obligatory “black power” slogans.

The video contains many memorable moments of the students’ interacting with their school administrators. They shout “fuck you, and fuck the police” repeatedly while maintaining that “whiteness is the most violent fuckin’ system to ever breathe!”

Protesters also accused various administrators of racism during a bizarrely combative campus meeting at which some protesters asked white students to remain in the back of the room.

In early June, Evergreen State administrators at responded to an anonymously-made threat of violence on campus by asking students to evacuate and canceling classes for three days.

In the wake of the cancelled classes, Evergreen State administrators sent an email kindly asking students to stop making vigilante patrols of the campus with bats, batons or other weapons.

In July, police in suburban New Jersey arrested a 53-year-old man, Robert Kerekes Jr., for allegedly phoning in a threat to go on a shooting spree at Evergreen State and in the surrounding “communist scumbag town.”

Administrators at Evergreen State paid approximately $100,000 to rent a nearby minor league baseball stadium for its commencement ceremony in the wake of the threats.

Evergreen State has traditionally held its spring graduation ceremony on a brick-laden campus quad that is actually called Red Square.

The actions by student radicals and the multitude of school employees who abetted them were almost universally condemned.

The World Socialist Web Site, a hard-left news outlet which promotes “revolutionary opposition to the capitalist market system” published a scathing editorial denouncing the student protesters at Evergreen State as race-baiting loons who fail to address any actual issues affecting “working class people of all races and genders"


The criminalization of school kids

When an angry middle-schooler swore at her vice principal, rolled her eyes, and tried to run down the hall, the police arrested her for disturbing a lawful assembly.

When an 8-year-old special-education student suffering from PTSD began running through the school flailing his arms wildly, authorities arrested and charged the child with assault and battery.

When a teacher and a police officer challenged a high school student who wasn’t carrying her school ID, the girl swore at them and tried to walk away. The officer handcuffed her and, when she struggled, charged her with disturbing a lawful assembly and resisting arrest.

These arrests took place in Massachusetts schools. They are not uncommon. Last year, approximately 500 K-12 students were arrested in the Commonwealth. It is part of a national trend.

Across the country, kids are being arrested in school for acting like . . . well, kids. Students, some as young as six, have been criminally charged for offenses including: throwing tantrums, slamming doors, kicking trashcans, tapping a pen, repeatedly burping, and flying paper airplanes.

The trend, often called the school-to-prison-pipeline, is attributed in part to zero-tolerance discipline policies that have increased suspension and expulsion rates, and to an increase in police in schools.

Fifty years ago, few police officers patrolled school halls. Today, more than 40 percent of US schools have assigned police, often called School Resource Officers (SROs). And, in too many schools, the staff has relinquished its disciplinary role to the SROs.

In Massachusetts, like much of the country, students of color and those with disabilities are disproportionately arrested, reports the nonprofit Citizens for Juvenile Justice. Upwards of two-thirds of students arrested suffer from mental illness, according to a study by the National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice.

In the vast majority of these cases, arresting students does little good and much harm.

Arrests are traumatic, even if charges are dismissed. Arrested students describe feeling unsafe and unwanted in schools. They are three times more likely to drop out, even if their case never goes to trial, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. They are also more likely to re-enter the criminal justice system as adults. For students who end up in the courts, even if not found guilty, their criminal record dogs them into adulthood.

It is past time for the Commonwealth to rethink the role for police in schools. If we continue having SROs, they need to become experts in working with children.

Young people are not smaller versions of adults. Their brains are still developing — including the areas that connect to impulse control, risk taking, and judgment. Effective SROs need to understand this aspect of adolescent development. They also need training in de-escalation techniques, implicit bias, and identifying trauma.

Police forces want this training, as documented in a 2011 survey by the International Association of Chiefs of Police. But departments often lack the funds. Yet, given the immediate costs associated with arresting and booking children, and the long-term costs on young people’s futures, investing in officer training more than pays for itself.

Beyond training, police also need community partners, particularly local mental health providers who can work with them and with students. And schools need clear policies that define the distinct roles of teachers and police in addressing discipline.

We already have a national model of success in the Commonwealth. Cambridge’s Safety Net Collaborative — an eight-year partnership among police, schools, and more than 20 nonprofits, and city organizations, which has created teams of police, social workers and others, who work to divert the city’s children from the courts. Since its inception the Collaborative has helped reduce arrests of Cambridge youth by 70 percent.

We also have programs like the Massachusetts-based nonprofit Strategies for Youth, which trains police across the country to better understand, respond to, and support youth. The organization has already held regional police trainings and worked with a handful of individual jurisdictions in the Commonwealth.

The Legislature is considering a bill that could help transform school police programs by eliminating school arrests for “disturbing a lawful assembly,” establishing new standards for police training, and encouraging collaboration with community partners, including mental health crisis teams. The bill would also require schools to report student arrest data, enabling communities and the state to measure the effectiveness of individual programs and identify schools with unusually high arrest rates. A system for collecting data is already in place, since schools are already required to collect and publish data on suspensions and expulsions.

Massachusetts, which leads the nation in education, should also set the standard in dealing with behavior issues. We need discipline in schools. But criminalizing adolescence is the wrong solution — for students, for schools and for society.


Most Boston charter schools reject performance-based pay for teachers

When Sydney Chaffee became Massachusetts’ first national teacher of the year this spring, she received plenty of praise from the charter school where she worked, Codman Academy in Dorchester.

What she didn’t get from her school was a financial windfall.

At a time when many policy makers and education advocates are pushing performance-based pay plans as a way to motivate teachers to do more for their students, almost all of Boston’s 16 independent charter schools, including Codman, have rejected bonuses for a job well done.

Instead, most charter schools, which were designed to be laboratories of education innovation, rely on something more typical of unionized workplaces: a standard pay scale or simple cost-of-living pay increases.

Across the country, there is an ongoing debate among charter schools about the best approach to teacher compensation, amid growing skepticism that connecting pay to performance actually improves student achievement.

But most charter-school management organizations, which run a good chunk of charter schools nationwide, now use traditional pay scales, according to research by the Center on Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington.

“I thought we would see more in the way of performance-based pay because so many of these schools are big on outcomes,” said Robin Lake, the center’s director.

But she added, “I think people in general like a fair system. We’ve been in a lot of charters where people want to know that there is some predictability and that people are being treated fairly. Most of them are non-unionized schools, but are falling back on more traditional models of work rules.”

Policy makers have long viewed independent charter schools, which are public institutions that employ non-unionized teachers, as fertile ground to experiment with merit-based pay. They hoped charter schools would develop new approaches to compensation, such as rewarding teachers whose students do well on standardized tests.

If successful, such systems could then be replicated in traditional school systems, where teachers unions have opposed pay that is dependent on performance.

But charter leaders who are wary of a strict merit-based system cite many of the same reasons that union leaders do: Merit-based pay can be divisive — creating a culture of one-upmanship — instead of fostering the teamwork necessary to move a whole school forward.

Even the handful of charter schools that consider some degree of performance, such as student test scores or job reviews, are reluctant to call their approach merit-based. Instead, they describe it as a “blended” or “hybrid” system.

If Boston charter schools give out any kind of bonus to teachers, it’s usually for recommending a successful job candidate or for having worked a certain number of years.

Chaffee said she was not offended by not receiving a bonus from her school for winning the teacher of the year. (The award itself included a trip to the White House and a year of national travel, but no cash reward.)

“It’s not about money for me, and I don’t know any teacher who would tell you they are in the job for the money,” said Chaffee, who is a mentor teacher — a category created at Codman to help nurture younger talent. To be considered, teachers present a portfolio of their work, including student test scores, that demonstrates they have brought students to high levels of achievement.

Samuel Tyler, president of the Boston Municipal Research Bureau, a watchdog funded by businesses and nonprofits that have been pushing performance-based pay, said the absence of widespread adoption by charter schools could make it more difficult to persuade traditional schools to dole out bonuses and merit increases to their teachers.

But he said the state’s experiment with injecting performance measures into the pay scales of school systems it has taken over, such as Lawrence, could keep the movement going.

“I think there are some teachers, whatever they are paid, who will work just as hard to be effective, but I think for other teachers, it is an added incentive to do more,” he said.

While some studies suggest that performance-based pay works, a growing body of other research indicates that bonuses and merit raises have had little impact on student achievement or have been difficult to implement primarily because every subject doesn’t have a standardized test.

A study by RAND Corporation, a nonprofit research organization based in Santa Monica, Calif., found that giving bonuses to teachers in high-needs schools in New York City did not increase student achievement. Teachers were eligible for bonuses depending on whether their students’ standardized test scores increased at a high enough rate.

Although teachers told researchers the “bonus was desirable, the program did not change their teaching practices,” according to the study, which was released in 2011. RAND drew similar conclusions when studying teacher bonuses in Texas and Nashville.

Laura Hamilton, an associate director of RAND Education, a division of the corporation, said there is a growing understanding that pay for performance won’t change teaching. She said what holds greater potential is thoughtful performance evaluations.

“A lot of the original enthusiasm for performance-based pay as a way to change teaching, in and of itself, has diminished,” Hamilton said.

Pay has long been a sensitive issue in charter schools, which struggle to offer wages that are competitive with traditional, unionized school systems.

In Boston, the average salary for charter school teachers is roughly $55,000, according to a Globe review of payroll data. By contrast, the average teacher salary in the Boston Public Schools exceeds $90,000, according to the School Department.

Charter school leaders say they don’t have enough money to pay teachers more because too much funding is tied up in facility costs. (Charter schools do not qualify for state school construction money.)

Another reason for the disparity: Charter school teachers tend to be younger and less experienced than Boston Public School teachers.

When charter schools began opening in Boston in the mid-1990s, teacher pay was often a mystery among staff because compensation systems were not etched in stone, an arrangement that benefited good negotiators. But teachers would inevitably learn that some were making more than others, creating hurt feelings, charter school leaders and teachers said.

Some charter schools, like Brooke, which has campuses in Dorchester, Mattapan, Roslindale, and East Boston, tried out bonuses.

At Brooke, the bonuses, paid for under a special federal grant program, ranged between $2,500 and $10,000 and were based on a combination of schoolwide and classroom MCAS scores and teacher attendance. But Brooke was never enamored of the bonuses and saw some teachers defect to better-paying positions in traditional schools. A few years ago, the school scrapped the bonuses and created a pay-scale-like system that includes some performance measures and in some cases can result in generous pay raises as high as 16 percent annually.

That pay scale includes three categories of teachers. The top category is a master teacher, which is reserved for teachers who have demonstrated success in boosting student performance and working in a team. They also take on some additional responsibilities, including mentoring and planning teacher training, and receive the largest pay raises.

Jon Clark, codirector at Brooke, said the new system is better than bonuses.

“We have many teachers who have been with us a long time and earning more than they would at a district school,” Clark said. “We really think it makes sense to concentrate resources on teachers who are sticking with the profession and are highly effective. Hopefully we will get more there over time.”


No comments: