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Bailing out Public Education

Former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich proposes a bailout for public education. “After all, the government bailed out Wall Street. What our kids learn — America’s human capital — is more important to our economy than Wall Street’s financial capital.”

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  • 1 Ilene Kramer
    · May 11, 2010 at 9:12 am

    An Open Letter to Michael Mulgrew

    I am a 24-year veteran ESL teacher now in a high school in Brooklyn

    In the face of the budget cuts it is time to seriously think outside the box. Here is what I propose.

    1. We need to change the contract to mandate that ATR’s take the job offered them either in the same district from where they were excessed and/or the school where they are now ATR’s.

    2. The 37.5 minutes needs to be removed. Teachers are burnt out by the additional work. We used to see our students after school, during our lunch or our prep periods, as necessary. Now we have to do it whether it is necessary or not. And those who did not meet with their students back when it was voluntary, do not get students now anyway. Those of us who do get these students have to record each and every interaction. Too much to keep track of these days when we also have to meet and do inquiry as well.

    3. The C6 also needs to be reevaluated. It was started as a way to get us out of cafeteria duty and “potty patrol”. Now, if it is deemed essential by the principal, teachers are assigned these duties EVERY YEAR, not once every 4 years, as it used to be.

    4. Bring back Seniority Transfer. Yes, more teachers transfer now than they used to, but this is because they HAVE TO. I was excessed twice and sent out 20+ resumes and called 10+ schools to confirm the listing on the DOE’s open transfer system to no avail. All of the schools I contacted said they had filled the position.

    5. Make it a bit easier to get rid of incompetent teachers. I believe in due process. Everyone whose job is threatened is entitled to a fair hearing. But getting to that hearing should have a quicker and fairer way to get there. Other schools in our state have teachers in their schools who are trained to visit classrooms and give feedback to principals. Then there is a committee to evaluate the teachers. Teachers in every building would welcome this change. We know who is not working to reach every child, who doesn’t understand their students, who won’t even say hello to each student as they enter through the door, even when told by a colleague that this would help with discipline in the classroom. (I was a mentoring in a school and had this conversation with a Teaching Fellow.)

    6. And finally, a 2% cut in pay. This would help all teachers. If teachers are laid off, it will be more difficult for those of us left behind to pick up the slack. We will be working harder to maintain discipline in our classrooms with 35 students. The plum jobs teaching the top 5% in the school in classes of 20 will be eliminated. Extra-curricular activities will be scaled back. All that fun stuff that makes high school, any school, a great place to be for so many of us, students and teachers alike, will be dropped from the schedule.

    The Union could sell it. It is in the union’s best interest since it would retain members. Our union is strong. If we lose members we will be weakened, which is what the power brokers of this country want. We also need to look after the best interests of our students. They need good teachers. Schools need a mix of new and veteran teachers. We need smaller class sizes, not larger.

    Thank you.

    Sincerely,
    Ilene Kramer