Saturday, July 25, 2009

"Race To the Top" Grants Mean Teacher Merit Pay

To be eligible for billions in Federal money under the Obama "Race to the Top" initiative for public schools, states must not prohibit merit pay systems for teachers. Indiana's legislature repealed its prohibition of teacher merit pay (and did not set a limit on charter schools pushed for by the Democrats) but individual districts like FWCS have union contracts which don't allow the use of standardized test scores in teacher evaluations. Teachers don't want pay tied to raw test scores, which is understandable. But there are ways to tie salaries to improvements in test scores.

Although the state is now in compliance, presumably FWCS as a district will be ineligible for federal money unless they change their stance. With contract talks coming up let's see how they react. I predict they'll react along the lines of the Washington, DC union , which voted down the offer of six figure teacher salaries based on objective evaluations to preserve their seniority system.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Our "humble" public schools

In a column in the JG, John Ellis laments the callous actions of the Governor and the Republican legislators in "trying to destroy our public schools". Well, if they're trying to destroy the "public schools as we know them" as Mitch Daniels said, we should cheer them on. According to Ellis, the "humble" public school is one of mankind's great inventions. Except the humble public school doesn't exist. The "public" schools don't belong to the public. They belong to an arrogant government run bureaucracy in bed with the teachers' unions and the Democratic Party.

Who is John Ellis? He's the head of the Indiana school superintendents' association. He's a lobbyist. Why do our "humble" public schools and their "humble" superintendents need a lobbyist? To get more money from the taxpayers wallets for preserving the education establishment and the status quo. And in picking Mr. Ellis the superintendents couldn't couldn't have made a better choice. Having seen him in action in front of the house budget committee, I can say he represents the arrogance of the education bureaucracy quite well.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

South Bend public schools "fail at everything"

According to an editorial in the JG this morning, Mishawaka Democratic state representative Craig Fry lashed out at the South Bend school district, which did better under the new state budget than Mishawaka because of the influence of Democratic house majority leader Pat Bauer of South Bend. Image that. What does a state Democratic representative know about the condition of our public schools besides how much the teachers union contributed to his campaign?

Fry reportedly said "they fail at everything. Their school board is a disaster, it's an embarrassment and it goes right down the line." Now wait a minute! FWCS ISTEP passing rates are only about 5% better than South Bend's. Should we infer that our school board is only 5% less of an embarrassment than theirs? Of course not. He means 5% on average. While some of our board members are a total embarrassment, the others even it out. Sort of like the schools north of Coliseum Boulevard making up for the ones on my side of town.