Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Schools and School Boards: reading assignments…and some questions

Every now and then, we find ourselves in perfect alignment with the natural order of the cosmos.  OK; we admit that’s a bit of an exaggeration. 

But it sometimes seems like it in the way interesting and relevant reading items arrive in our inbox, and how those items are apropos our local circumstances.

So interested readers, we recommend these items to you.

Item 1:  What Public Employee Unions Are Doing to Our Country

Imprimis, March 2012

Here’s a sample passage:

In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, Fred Siegel notes that public sector unions have:

become a vanguard movement within liberalism. And the reason for that is it’s the public sector that comes closest to the statist ideals of McGovern and post-McGovern liberals. And that is, there’s no connection between effort and reward. You’re guaranteed your job. You’re guaranteed your salary increase. There’s a kind of bureaucratic equality.  (emphasis ours)

By the way, if you don’t already have a free subscription to the monthly Imprimis, you should consider signing up.

Item 2:  Let a Thousand Teachers Bloom

Weekly Standard, March 19, 2012

A passage from the article:

Nor is their compensation based on their performance. In the vast majority of school systems, public school teachers’ pay reflects the number of advanced degrees they have earned and their years in the classroom, neither of which is a predictor of effective teaching. In fact, it has been found consistently that a stunning 97 percent of the variation in teacher quality is not explained by the characteristics prioritized by the current system.

This, by the way, describes Brunswick’s compensation system perfectly.

Item 3:  The Six Habits of Fiscally Responsible Public School Districts

Mackinac Institute for Public Policy, December, 2002

A summary of Habit 6: Reform Collective Bargaining

Related Questions

After you’ve read these, or even if you haven’t, we’d like to challenge you to think about the Board of Education and the role they play in Brunswick, or wherever you live.

What do you believe their role in the general scheme of things is?  Is it to provide comments and thoughts on Department subject matter, and then approve Administration recommendations, plans, and budgets?  Or is it to provide oversight, direction, and leadership to the School Department on behalf of town citizens?

Is it to serve as the primary stewards of the School Enterprise and represent the interests of all residents, or to listen to and then approve what the School Department proposes?

As you ponder this, ask yourself the following questions to help clarify your thinking:

  • Who creates the agenda for School Board Meetings?
  • What are the objectives of the School Board each time a new teachers contract goes into negotiation?  What has been achieved on behalf of taxpayers in these negotiations?
  • Can you recall the School Board calling for a review of grading, promotion, and graduation policies and practices, or conducting a comprehensive public disclosure of these specifics?
  • Can you recall the School Board calling for a review of teacher performance, employment, and compensation policies and practices, or conducting a comprehensive public disclosure of them?
  • Can you recall the School Board calling for a review of student achievement measurement methods, and a plan for steady measurable improvement?
  • Can you recall the School Board outlining a consistent and sensible set of priorities in the education we offer, and seeing that it is reflected in the budget and Department policy?
  • Can you recall the School Board identifying deficiencies in student achievement, and leading the effort to correct these deficiencies?
  • Can you recall the School Board, or anyone else for that matter, asking how a student can graduate from our High School if they are functionally illiterate?
  • Can you recall the School Board directing the Department to seek competitive bids for the millions in employee insurance coverage purchased every year, instead of repeatedly buying the coverage from the teachers union on a no-bid basis?

That ought to be enough to keep you busy.  We’d like you to submit written answers, but you can have the weekend to work on it.  Please use your best penmanship.

Don’t be late though; Monday is the deadline.  Miss that, and you could end up clapping the erasers after class.

1 comment:

  1. The Brunswick School Board has only 3 responsibilities:
    1. Rubber stamp anything the union wants and insure the taxpayers pay for it
    2. Take credit for anything that is good, even if it is fictional or non-existent.
    3. Find someone else to blame if things are not right.