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26.4.05

EBR teachers play hooky in attempt to pick taxpayers' pockets

So many teachers from East Baton Rouge Parish attended a rally at the state capitol Monday that school had to be called off. At least it looks like the day missed will be made up, which I’m sure thrills the students.

Let’s hope it gets made up, because these schools need all of the help they can get – and part of it is the teachers’ fault. A look at district statistics tells us that (using the most recent 2003-04 data available).

Over a third of schools there are on academic warning or are unacceptable. Five-eights of them either are making no progress towards accountability goals or are in decline. Almost 30 percent of high schoolers either were suspended or expelled. Standardized test scores are bad. These statistics will become worse if the second-best performing high school, Central, gets removed as part of an effort to create a separate school district. And all happening in a parish with a much higher average income and much lower rate of unemployment than typical in the state.

This is reflected in current teacher salaries there. Their average of $37,627 is higher than the state average and the median household income in the parish (and, may I add, almost as high as mine after 14 years as a tenured faculty member in a Louisiana university). In short, they already are well compensated for the results they produce.

Some attendees at the rally said higher salaries would keep teachers in the state. So what; I invite any teacher who feels their quality is under-recognized by their salary level (of course, this doesn’t count their generous retirement packages and summers off if they choose, plus lots of other vacation days) to market themselves to school districts in other states. If they get a job elsewhere, I guess they were right, but if not, I guess they’re earning what they deserve.

Others said their salaries, even with any projected increases, were insufficient to cover escalating expenses. To them, I expand the request, for them to leave teaching and choose a career where they’ll get paid as much for 180 or so days of work a year. Nobody ever said they had to be a teacher.

Perhaps most indicative of this attitude of desert without the performance to back it up:

So many teachers and others took the day off -- 782 had called in by late Friday afternoon -- that public schools in East Baton Rouge Parish were called off.

Steve Monaghan
, president of the LFT, said about 200 LFT members signed in Monday to meet with lawmakers. Monaghan said he thought about 100 LFT members from East Baton Rouge Parish made the trip to the Capitol.

He blamed threatening skies and drizzly rain for the turnout. Other school officials said that, since 300 or so educators are absent on a typical school day, not all of the nearly 800 workers cited on Friday planned to attend Monday's gathering.

In short, the majority used the rally as an excuse to play hooky; had they not, maybe the whole district’s calendar wouldn’t have been disrupted and all the extra expense that entails. That selfishness sums up why teachers ought not to expect anything past the average raise of $500 they’ll get this year (regardless of merit) in all but 18 districts and why the Legislature would be foolish to grant them anything additional without asking for more accountability from them.

2 comments:

A baton rouge teacher said...

I am a fourth year teacher and was searching for sites that discussed the decline in EBR parish schools. I came across your blog and actually had a hard time finishing it. I do agree that, as a teacher, I am well compensated for my "work" but wanted to address your implications about "how well we do our jobs". At this moment I am teach 30 eight and nine year olds in a classroom that should house 20 at the max. I am forced to teach a "curriculmn" not children. I have no time to reteach anything, ever. We have scheduled Edusoft test that are given by the parish to "grade the teachers" not the children. My students come from households with very little to no parental support. There are parents who I have never met whose children are failing and have not given the school a good working phone number. I am mandated to do silly little things like write my GLE's on a chart each morning for the squirells that infest are school to see because no one else looks at them. That, in its self, would not be bad but that is just one of many "waste of time" activities that I must do each morning... I arrive at school at 7am and often do not leave until 5 or 6. Then I bring home loads of papers to grade, lesson plans to write, reports to read. I spend my "many" holidays off trying to catch up. I spend each day with women who have been stripped of thier dignity and whose morale is obsolete. I have struggled to keep myself going these four years and wish every day that my work conditions will approve. I work hard to put all of myself into my work and most days my only reward are screaming, fighting, hateful children who have no concept of hardwork or discipline. I take joy in the days that I feel like I get through to them, but most days I feel like we are throwing things at them and hoping that it sticks. The system is damaged and needs to completely fall and start from scratch...NO ONE IS HAPPY. Everyone is miserable and it just trickles from one misery to the next. I keep saying that when I am queen of the world I will fix it and I do have dreams of finding ways to improve what this parish has become- I big pile of paperwork. Then again, there are days that I just want to pack up my family and move to the country where issues aren't quite as dangerous... I feel our school system is losing those teachers who "really care" because of people such as yourself who look at us as a whole and speak as if we were not proffessional people who want better work environments. Please, please substitute for a week a public school and see for yourself the amount of time we put into our jobs, the love we put into our work, and the lack of support that we recieve.

Francois said...

Wow...I am blown away that someone would write such mean about a teacher. I too am a teacher in Canada's smallest province. I want to say that all teachers struggle in the same fashion. We get trashed by the public while we are working very hard. The teacher's right! Our day does not end at 4pm we plan and correct many weekends and most nights. Ask anyone who is married to a teacher or ask a teacher's child. They'll tell you what it's like.
Shame on your trash talk!