On Teachers

April 1, 2012

BLOCKBUSTER NEWS!!!  I’ve just (3/31) been informed by two sources that Superintendent Lorna Lewis is finally gone, and has accepted a position atPlainview.  Was it her yelling and nasty exchanges with some parents who were unhappy?  Was it my February article that detailed her incompetence and questioned her qualification?  I don’t know yet.  But, I really believe at this time (11:00 PM, 3/31) that my sources are correct, and she will be leaving.  This may be the beginning of the process that will provide an opportunity for the EWSD community to not only put an end to the self-serving of this (particularly Kamberg) and previous Boards but also set in notion the return of our District to one of prominence.  The selection of the new Superintendent should be made by the community, including the PTO membership, and NOT Kamberg and his cronies.

On Teachers

Folks, this one is about East Williston School District (EWSD) teachers.  Four words come to mind when I think of most of the EWSD teachers:  indifference, mean-spirited, greedy, and parasitic.  What follows is an attempt to provide the basis for this statement.

As I’ve indicated in the past, the teachers’ union and the teachers themselves have consistently exploited both the schoolchildren and the taxpayers with rampart absenteeism.  Here are some of the problems that exist in the EWSD—problems that continue to go unchecked.  In addition to just simply and regularly taking off days at their whim, our teachers have been known to take leave from class for l or 2 periods.  An in-house teacher with a free period replaces the absent teacher.  There is no impact on the teacher.  The impact on the schoolchildren is a class with a replacement who may or may not be qualified and/or concerned.  The impact on the taxpayer is that the replacement teacher is paid, including additional retirement benefits, by our taxes.  The net effect is that the teacher is provided free time (an expense-paid vacation), the schoolchildren are short-changed in the classroom, the replacement teacher is provided a hefty “consulting” fee, and the taxpayer, as usual, gets shorted.  Teachers also take leave (they have unlimited sick leave) based on his or her own children being sick at home.  (Folks, I’m not making this up).  The net impact of this outrageous conduct?  I think you can figure this one out.

Eleanor Zatlin kept information in the past on teacher absenteeism.  I’ve requested but been denied this information by school administrators—in violation of the law.  But it is the job of Lewis (our superintendent) and/or the principals to maintain records and stop the abuse.  And, it is the Boards’ job to demand this information from Lewis and her principals.  Will any of these “concerned and dedicated” individuals take action?  Does anyone really think that Lewis, the principals, the Board, and/or the PTA, etc., are going to look into these abuses being perpetrated on both the schoolchildren and the taxpayers?  Of course not.

A January 3, 2010 Sunday The New York  Times article by Carolyn Bucior had this to say about teachers (not taken out of context):  “Nationwide, 5.2 percent of teachers are absent on any given day, a rate three times as high as that of professionals outside teaching and more than one and half times as high as that of teachers in Britain . . . Teachers in America are most likely to be absent on Fridays, followed by Mondays (parents should check the parking lots on these days if they don’t believe this) . . . This means that children have substitute teachers for nearly a year of their kindergarten-through-12th grade education . . . principals should keep track of all teacher absences.”

For what it is worth, a colleague (who recently passed away) NEVER missed a day of school during his 44 year tenure.  I missed one day (while in the hospital) in 55 years.  How does this stack up with EWSD teachers?

Here is more on my recent experiences.  Unfortunately, it is limited to contact with only exchanges with three Wheatley students:

  1. This summer at the Williston Park Pool, a youngster was dribbling a basketball alongside me and the two Lumpp brothers (Ray and Wil).  We started a conversation with the boy on basketball and found out that he attended Wheatley.  I proceeded to ask about the quality of education he was receiving and teacher absenteeism.  Although not having a true basis for comparison, he indicated that he was satisfied with the teachers.  He also indicated that, on average, one teacher was absent from class every day.  I indicated that the absenteeism figure was too high, but he stood firm.  The three of us couldn’t believe what we were hearing.
  2. Later last summer, I ran into another Wheatley student working as a cashier in a local supermarket.  He too noted that there was widespread absenteeism but not to the same degree as the other student.
  3. I met another Wheatley student (a senior) working as a cashier in a supermarket late last Fall.  I also questioned him on both concerns.  Surprisingly, he stated that recent Wheatley graduates (presently in college) had indicated that they were not as prepared as they could have been, particularly in English.

I want to once again comment on the teachers and their union’s arrogant and greedy position on raises and benefits.  Given the union’s insistence during contract negotiation that they be provided raises and benefits that other working individuals are not provided, does anyone question their greed and insensitivity to community concerns.  Their past history of student and parent intimidation, unprofessional behavior, unreasonable demands, and work ethics is a sad commentary on the present state of our District.  I wish I could detail comments from parents explaining their unwillingness to either speak out for fear or retaliation by some teachers.  Only time will tell on how long the community will continue to ignore this teacher blackmail.

How the teachers’ conduct continues to go unchecked without a responsible individual raising a red flag and demanding answers is absolutely amazing.  Where are Kamberg, Freier, etc., the PTA, and the Principals?  No one is surprised with do-nothing Lewis.  But what an embarrassment and disgrace Kamberg  (as President) has turned out to be.

Here’s what local resident and teacher Bill Wickes had to say earlier.  “I have come to be embarrassed to be included in the heading of teacher.  Teachers in my home district of East Williston have lost sight of why they chose this profession.  They have attempted to intimidate parents and students with their protests at awards nights and field days.  They do not show the respect that they demand.”

I have been accused by EWSD teachers of “hating” teachers.  This, despite the fact that I have dedicated my life to education, and have served as a mentor to numerous teachers and administrators (details available on request).  In addition, most of my friends are teachers or retired teachers, and nearly all of them support my position.  All of us are disgusted with the conduct of the EWSD teachers, conduct that includes the aforementioned intimidation tactics against parents and retaliation policies against 6 year old and older schoolchildren.

Suburban teachers maintain that they are dedicated professionals.  What in the world is the rest of the work force?  To hear the EWSD teachers, you would think they were God’s gift to society.  Regarding these teachers, I have more respect for the NYC teacher, who I believe is as dedicated, if not more so, because they are exposed to combat duty, often on a daily basis.

Although part of the above is rhetoric, one needs to examine teachers’ salaries relative to others.  As with some other professions, e.g., medicine, I believe it is disproportionate relative to the rest of the work force.  Present-day salaries simply cannot be justified, particularly for those whose salaries are approaching $150,000/year.  When one considers the salary, perks, health benefits, abbreviated work days, extensive vacation periods, workplace environment, other educational opportunities, retirement plans, etc., of the suburban teacher, it is hard not to conclude that these individuals have it made.  Make no mistake about it, they have it made!  I ought to know, because I was part of a similar system—only at another level–with lower salaries and reduced benefits.

And then there is job security.  Today, most taxpayers no longer have the luxury of job security.  In the old days, one might receive a DCM at any time, as it was called during the depression era—Don’t Come Monday.  Being tenured means not having to worry about losing your job.  What is this worth?  When I was growing up, it was worth enough that teachers who earned significantly less than the rest of the work force were grateful for their job.  I know when I accepted a teaching position in 1960 for $6,000 a year, a salary substantially below what my colleagues were accepting in industry and business, I did so for two reasons:  the desire to teach and the benefits mentioned above.

In any event, I am still waiting and hoping for the day when some EWSD teachers will stand up and be counted.

P.S.            Lewis and her crew continue to be in violation of the law, a violation that could result in reduction of state aid.  It is now three months and they have failed to deliver on all my requested material, without even an apology.