On Purely Chaste, Pristine and Random Thoughts XXI

August 31, 2014

September 1, 2014

It’s hard to believe, but I’ve lost track of what is the actual issue of this “On Purely Chast, Pristine and Random Thoughts” article. It may be the XXth issue, but then again, it might be the XXI; I’m settled on XXI. Here are 25 Thoughts:

* Flying has become a chore. My recent return flight from Long Beach, CA took 11 hours – not including a 1-hour wait for baggage.
* Currently writing my 102nd book entitled “Basketball Coaching 101.” Anyone interested in contributing can contact me at loutheodore1@verizon.net; I’m looking for individuals who know something about the game.
* This will be my 59th straight year of visiting Saratoga for the racing meet. It has become a bad habit and we now limit the trip to an Albany stopover.
* My most recent book was concerned with the need to develop a meaningful national energy policy; (see August Newsletter article) the book was dedicated to Governor Mike Huckabee.
* This is a true story. It took me nearly 3 days to complete and submit my taxes. Guess what? Last month, New York State requested I submit payment for the taxes owed. Since I have a cancelled check that the NYS cashed, I called to complain, but it is impossible to get through to them.
* Sometime back, Barack Hussein Obama (BHO) was attempting to release those in jail who were planning to kill me; and instead, he was attempting to put in jail Americans who put those in jail who were attempting to kill me.
* I do my best, but still get confused on a regular basis.
* I’m still trying to figure out what purpose the USDOE (Department of Energy) serves. Dissolving this useless organization might help balance the budget.
* I have often been required to provide security checks for my students applying for “sensitive” government jobs. Based on these interviews, I don’t believe BHO would be hired since he would not receive security clearance. And, this is our Commander-in-Chief*?!
* I’m a student of history. Socialism failed under FDR (it was WWII that got us out of the depression). Socialism failed under Johnson. Socialism failed under Carter Socialism failed in California. Socialism has failed in several European countries. Socialism has failed in several African countries. Many of these countries have gone (or are going) bankrupt. Can anyone tell me when high taxes, big government, massive spending, income/wealth distribution, and committing people to a lifetime of dependency through entitlement has worked?
* My parents worked hard for their money. I worked hard (well, sort of… remember, I was a teacher) for my money. No one gave us anything. Why am I now being asked to provide healthcare and education for people who do not want to work and/or have no legal right to be here?
* I sell and bill myself as the foremost environmental authority in the world (modesty isn’t my middle name).
* When are we going to get school tax relief?
* Just finished reading “Wilson” by Scott Berg. Although the quintessential liberal and pacifist, we need more leaders like him.
* Seems to me that BHO has forgotten his pledge to uphold the Constitution.
* If there isn’t a “smidgen” of evidence of any IRS wrongdoing, why did Lois Lerner take the fifth?
* The three most corrupt organizations in the U.S. are the government, the NCAA and NYRA.
* The three most corrupt individuals in the U.S. are BHO, Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton.
* The three dumbest individuals in the U.S. (in responsible positions) are BHO, Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi.
* Climate change is one of the all-time great scams perpetrated on the public.
* I grew up with Gabriel Heater and The Lone Ranger on radio, and rooting for the Yankees and Knicks. Now, the first two are gone and I root against the latter two.
* It may be because my ancestors were Greek but lamb is, by far and away, the best meat.
* I still have trouble sleeping every night. Can anyone help?
* Jones Beach (#6) was recently closed; ouch!! I believe it is the most beautiful beach in the world.
* Seems to me that young people are still having a tough time getting jobs.

On Purely … Thoughts will return in early 2015 with issue XXII. In the meantime, enjoy what’s left of this year.

Lou Theodore

NEXT POSTINGS: (tentative)

OCTOBER 1: On Barack Hussein Obama Update IV
NOVEMBER 1: On Paying Student-Athletes II
DECEMBER 1: On Hofstra Men’s Basketball: 2014-15 Season
JANUARY 1: On Football Boxes
FEBRUARY 1: On Great Eats

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On Tenure

June 21, 2014

July 1, 2014

The word tenure has come to mean different things to different people at various points in time in the history of civilization. A thousand years ago, tenure related to the law of property in feudal England and the manner in which a person held or owned property. Under feudalism, the king owned all of the land, and his vassals, as tenants, were entitled to hold only those portions of the land allotted by him and only under conditions he imposed. This feudal control by the overlord of transfers of property by tenants, was ended in 1290 by the Statute of Quia Emplores. In recent years, tenure has taken on a different meaning for many people, particularly those in education. Webster presently defines tenure as “the status of holding one’s position on a permanent basis, granted to teachers, civil servant personnel, etc., on the fulfillment of specified requirements.”

This article examines the role and the effect tenure has had on both educators and the education process. Unfortunately, for some teachers – and perhaps more rather than some for teachers at the East Williston School District – tenure has come to represent a job with no accountability.

I’m a chemical engineer and proud of it. I practiced my trade primarily in the classroom for 50 years. Educating youngsters for a career in engineering and training engineers/scientists in order to enhance their careers became my signature professional purpose. I did this in part because I believe engineering, more than any other profession, has contributed significantly to improving the quality of life for society. Along the way, I was tenured for the last 43 years.

My experiences as a tenured faculty member at my institution were interesting. Most of my colleagues were reasonably dedicated and rarely missed class, but I would describe only a few as hardworking. For what it’s worth, I missed one day (in the hospital) in 50 years. Overall, most of my guys did an acceptable job. But there were some, perhaps one out of every five, who milked the system for their own aggrandizement at the expense of the students. And nearly every one of those extortive individuals viewed themselves as God’s gift to education.

The situation at the EWSD is particularly disconcerting. The Board, PTO, and Superintendent have chosen not to allow opposing voices to be heard. FOIL requests are routinely effectively ignored (they once responded to one of my FOILS by providing me with reams of paper that were impossible to decipher). Some parents are too frightened to speak out, as with the teacher who retaliated against a 6-year old because her mother had the courage to speak the truth. It is for this reason that I always advise parents who have considered speaking out to remain anonymous. I have repeatedly made the above claims, and yet, no one – including the PTO hierarchy and the Superintendent – have ever dared to challenge my accusations. The FACT that the Superintendent misrepresented herself on the application for the position has also never been challenged.

What do we have at the EWSD? Based on my information, most of the EWSD teachers, and particularly those at Wheatley High School, approach their job as teachers in a manner quite different from what I would describe as a dedicated educator. The end result has been a precipitous drop in the school’s ranking, significant absenteeism, a failure of some (or is it many?) students to be admitted into the college/university of their choice, and poor student writing skills. Why is this occurring? I have placed the blame on numerous occasions on the incompetent past School Board President, Susan Bergtraum, and the former parasitic School Union President, David Israel (I still have a copy of the contract where Israel sold his membership short in order to gain a personal giveaway from the District). They set a process in motion that has resulted in the decline of quality education and teacher abuse in the EWSD.

Although much of the above will be viewed by the enemy as 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 at $150,000/year. When one considers the salary, perks, health benefits, abbreviated workdays, extensive vacation periods, work ethics, 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.

And then there is job security. Today, most taxpayers no longer have the luxury of job security. In the old days, one might receive at any time a DCM – as it was called curing 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 workforce were grateful for their job. I knew 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.

The bottom line is that tenure has unquestionably produced tenured teachers who are pampered, underworked, overpaid, lazy and indifferent to the needs of their students. All of them? NO! But many of them? YES! The tenure process has led to the aforementioned disproportionate wages and benefits relative to the rest of the workforce plus a lifetime of job security. As I’ve said on numerous occasions: we teachers have jobs, the rest work for a living.

Will tenure survive in its present form? I doubt it. Nor should it. The Ivy schools have all but eliminated tenure. I can say in no uncertain terms that tenure was appreciated and probably helped me from an academic and professional perspective. But the abuses that I witnessed and the present abuses at places like the EWSD need to be reduced, if not eliminated. There needs to be accountability if the educational process is to return to what we had in earlier times. Perhaps five-year tenure appointments with periodic evaluations might help.

For tenured teachers, it is time to give thanks. It is also time to reverse the trend and provide tax relief and start putting money into scholastic programs, not teachers’ salaries. For the tenured teachers, it is payback time.

Lou Theodore

PREVIOUS POSTINGS:
APRIL 1: On the Barack Hussein Obama Update III
MAY 1: On the East Williston School District Budget Vote
JUNE 1: On the Interview Process
JULY 1: On Tenure

NEXT POSTINGS (tentative):
AUGUST 1: On a National Energy Policy
SEPTEMBER 1: On Purely Chaste, Pristine and Random Thoughts XXI
OCTOBER 1: On Barack Hussein Obama Update IV
NOVEMBER 1: On Paying Student-Athletes II
DECEMBER 1: On Hofstra Men’s Basketball: 2014-15 Season
JANUARY 1: On Football Boxes
FEBRUARY 1: On Great Eats


On the East Williston School District Budget Vote

April 30, 2014

May 1, 2014

East Williston School District (EWSD) residents are annually requested to vote on a school budget and this year is no exception. Each voting member of the community will have an opportunity to either vote for or against the budget. Every parent, every senior, every taxpayer, and every youngster of voting age should consider what limited facts have been made available to them.

As many of you already know, I will vote NO on the budget. Why? I simply need to, once again, provide the readers with an earlier (2012) note delivered to Superintendent Kanas. Here is that unedited note:

Dear Dr. Kanas,

I believe that the following current problems are adversely affecting the East Williston School District (EWSD).

1. The per capita student cost is $30,000+/yr.
2. The student/teacher ratio is 9.75:1.0
3. The EWSD employs 21 secretaries.
4. There is rampant teacher absenteeism.
5. The failure of some students to attend the college/university of their choice.
6. The EWSD national ranking is in free-fall.
7. The school tax burden continues to increase despite reduced enrollment.
8. The lack of preparedness of some of the students for their post high school education.
9. The failure of the previous administration to, in accordance with the law, act on FOIL requests.

As a taxpayer and member of the EWSD community, I am requesting your assessment of the above nine problems, plus what steps you intend to take to either remove or reduce these problems. If a response is not received by October 1, 2012, I shall assume that you have concluded that there is no reason for concern. If you do respond, I would then appreciate a follow-up notification on the success/failure of your actions on or before December 31, 2012.

I await your response.

Guess what? Two years have passed, and I’m still waiting for a response.
One simple question: Do I deserve a response? Both Kanas and the present Board have chosen to ignore my request. Yet, unlike Kanas and the Board members, I’ve dedicated my life to education, serving as not only a professor and administrator at the College level but also as a member of the Admissions Committee. I also continue to provide free advice to those senior students requesting guidance (apparently there is little to no meaningful guidance presently available) on university and career choices.

A recent 4/7/14 article in Newsday reported that the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) voted in a new president who immediately commented on their “enemies.” I can’t figure out who she was talking about. Perhaps it was the schoolchildren and/or their parents. One member commented “This election has provided a great voice for the needs of members across the Island.” Naturally, there was no expression of concern about the needs of the schoolchildren.

You want more? Here’s a real beauty out of Newsday on the same day. The headline read:
EX-TEACHER KEEFE HONORED BY NYSUT. Here is the unedited article:

“David Keefe, a former eighth-grade social studies teacher who has devoted much of his retirement time to union activities, was honored Friday evening in Manhattan as New York State United Teachers Retiree Member of the Year. Following his 2004 retirement after a 37-year teaching career in Hempstead Public Schools, Keefe, 73, of Mineola, was elected to the board of trustees of the New York State Teachers’ Retirement System, for which he also serves as vice president.
For more than 20 years he was president of the Hempstead Classroom Teachers Association, assuming leadership positions for the retiree association for Hempstead educators following his own retirement.
Keefe’s work “is an extension of his lifelong commitment to serving union members,” said Kathleen Donahue, vice president of the state teachers union.”

For the uninformed, Keefe is a member of the EWSD Board. Anybody really think he’s there to represent the community? I can remember him laughing at me when I questioned him regarding his conduct, particularly securing full-time employment for his daughter. Appointments for Karen Love (Keefe’s daughter) made by the board since Keefe became a board member are listed below (he abstained from voting…apparently, that’s as far as his ethics go). Our remaining four elected Board members went right along with the appointments. In their infinite wisdom, they concluded that there was no conflict of interest and that Keefe’s conduct was serving the best interests of the community. All four appointments were made within a five-month period!!!

Sept. 19, 2011: Board Meeting. Agenda Item #32
School Monitor Part-time Substitute

Oct. 24, 2011: Board Meeting. Agenda Item #43
Cleaner Part-time Substitute

Jan. 18, 2012: Board Meeting. Agenda Item #33
Substitute Teacher

Feb. 13, 2012: Board Meeting. Agenda Item #37
Part-time School Monitor. (No longer a substitute!)

Who knows if she was given any other appointments in the last two years? Sometimes the agenda just refers to “list as submitted by” (either superintendent/principal/etc.) and names of those being appointed are not mentioned. One can only wonder what her pension will be!?!?!? Hopefully, some of the diehard supporters for the status quo will finally realize how Kamberg and his crew operate. In any event, an honorable man would have definitely disqualified himself from serving on the Board based on ethical and professional grounds.

Guess what? The Newsday article never mentioned that Keefe is a school Board member. This got me thinking. I checked his bio on the NYSRTS site where he serves as an appointed board member helping to insure that the best interests of the teachers are served. Guess what again? No mention of his involvement with the EWSD Board. Could he be hiding something? I wouldn’t put anything past him. There appears to be, understandably, a conflict of interest relative to his involvement with the EWSD board. His serving is like having David Israel (the architect of the demise of our District) on the Board. I am presently looking into not only the ethics but also the legality of Keefe’s conduct. Like I questioned earlier, does anybody really think he’s there to serve the best interests of the community, particularly when it comes to pensions?

One needs to also comment on a Friday, April 14th Newsday article that reported the U.S. News & World Report ranking of Long Island schools. I preface what follows by reminding the readers that I have served as a reviewer for the USN&WR . . . and I can tell you that the ranking is primarily based on school name recognition. Nonetheless, three points need to be made:

1. The EWSD ranking has now approached 200, the increase indicating a further decline during Kanas’ tenure.
2. The EWSD did not make the top 200 schools in the most important categories–Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education. A truly sad commentary.
3. The ranking assessment process does not reflect the increasing number of EWSD parents who are opting to send their children to private schools to insure they receive a quality education.

The bottom line is that all of the concerns in my earlier note to Kanas still apply. They have been conveniently ignored, the result of which has eroded the quality of education in the EWSD. But there are four other factors that most – if not all – of the voters should consider.
1. Dr. Kanas misrepresented herself when she applied for the position of Superintendent of the EWSD. I repeatedly brought this FACT to the attention of both the Board and PTO. And, guess what? Both ignored the comments regarding Kanas. Other individuals in sports, education, business, etc., are automatically dismissed for this conduct. You’d think that if Kanas had my professional pride, she would offer some response. But I know she can’t defend her earlier behavior.
2. State financial aid has been reduced. Pension costs continue to increase and is now approaching a near out-of-control situation. What have Kanas and the Board done about this? You already know the answer.
3. CONNED!!! That’s what has happened to the EWSD parents and taxpayers (refer to an earlier paragraph on Keefe). They have been sold a bridge on the quality of education and the dedication of the teachers. They have simply been duped.
4. The turnaround will come when the community comes to realize that Board members – in almost every instance – are there for self-serving purposes. If they really cared about the kids, they would not move on once they have graduated. Think about past Board members who were so vociferous and outspoken about defending the status quo … a status quo that has resulted in higher taxes and a decrease in the quality of education.

On to the budget vote. Only two school districts in Nassau County will impose a higher tax levy than EWSD. Below is a comparison to our “neighboring/top” school districts:

School District 13-14 tax levy 14-15 tax levy % change

East Williston $50,969,855 $52,455,091 2.91

Carle Place 41,716,434 42,334.699 1.48

Garden City 96,859,458 98,392,677 1.58

Jericho 106,811,992 108,100,000 1.21

Manhasset 79,374,951 80,839,173 1.84

Mineola 77,906,690 79,045,241 1.46

Roslyn 91,050,882 92,975,619 2.11

Syosset 187,798,923 190,410,716 1.39

All other school districts in Nassau County were below the East Williston 2.91% increase–most of them below a 2% increase–except the following two school districts:

Baldwin 3.25% increase

Long Beach 3.75% increase

These numbers indicate that the EWSD is over the County average by well over 100%. This was definitely a year when school taxes could have been reduced given the current massive waste that still exists.

The bottom line: it’s OK to vote NO on the budget. Don’t be a glutton for punishment. Stop being taken for a fool. Stop being an enabler for the EXPOITERS. And finally, stop Kanas’ incompetence and indifference.

Lou Theodore

EPILOGUE

No doubt parents that I would classify as either fools or cowards will help carry the YES vote on the budget. As in the past, this will then be followed with large elaborate signs prominently displayed on the front lawn of each school reading: “EWSD Budget Passes—Thank you!!! This is obviously a direct insult to all the taxpayers who voted against the budget. I have repeatedly asked in the past for information (even FOILed it) on who paid for the signs and who allowed it to occur. I have yet to receive a response. Why? Because this is the way they operate, and it has become a way of life with them. Interestingly, they will not allow me to post a sign at each school that reads: “EWSD Budget Passes. We Apologize to Both Taxpayers and Schoolchildren.”

NEXT POSTINGS: (tentative)

JUNE 1: On the Interview Process
JULY 1: On Tenure
AUGUST 1: On a National Energy Policy
SEPTEMBER 1: On Purely Chaste, Pristine and Random Thoughts XXI
OCTOBER 1: On Barack Hussein Obama Update IV
NOVEMBER 1: On Paying Student-Athletes II
DECEMBER 1: On Hofstra Men’s Basketball: 2014-15 Season
JANUARY 1: On Football Boxes
FEBRUARY 1: On Great Eats


ON THE EAST WILLISTON SCHOOL DISTRICT II

December 30, 2013

January 1, 2014

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all. First and foremost, I need to thank those who have continued to provide support and encouragement during this past year. The last article of this year concerns the East Williston School District (EWSD). The following paragraph is an edited and updated version of material written approximately one year ago.

“The EWSD is presently in decline with its national ranking having plummeted, and there is rampant teacher absenteeism, a present superintendent that is both unqualified and incompetent plus an embarrassment to the District, difficulty in placing Wheatley seniors in the school of their choice, $150,000+ annual teacher salaries plus massive additional benefits and (unfortunately) job security, $30,000+ annual cost per student, a 9.75:1 student to teacher ratio that continues to decline, a policy of refusing to eliminate waste, and the self-serving policies of …….” The end result is that EWSD residents pay the highest average school taxes in Nassau County (because of the massive waste), the economic effect of which has been to unnecessarily depress property values. And, guess what? My effort and activities to implement reform have produced change. Unfortunately, the change has produced a situation that has worsened.

A question we engineers often ask when evaluating a scheme, proposal, contract, etc., is as follows: Is it cost-effective and is there sufficient accountability? When applied to our District, this school board, these school administrators, and these teachers have conveniently avoided answering this question. In fact, these individuals continue to try to convince concerned and angry taxpayers that taxes need to be raised further if our children are to receive a quality education.

What about the EWSD Superintendent, Dr. Elaine Kanas? I had two meetings with Kanas. I first met Kanas a few weeks after she arrived in August 2012. At that time, I presented her with a list of particulars detailing the shortcomings of our District and a call for reform. A copy of that note follows.

“Dear Dr. Kanas,

I believe that the following current problems are adversely affecting the East Williston School District (EWSD).
1. The per capita student cost is $30,000+/yr.
2. The student/teacher ratio is 9.75:1.0
3. The EWSD employs 21 secretaries.
4. There is rampant teacher absenteeism.
5. The failure of some students to attend the college/university of their choice.
6. The EWSD national ranking is in free-fall.
7. The school tax burden continues to increase despite reduced enrollment.
8. The lack of preparedness of some of the students for their post high school education.
9. The failure of the previous administration to, in accordance with the law, act on FOIL requests.

As a taxpayer and member of the EWSD community, I am requesting your assessment of the above nine problems, plus details on what steps you intend to take to either remove or reduce
these problems. If a response is not received by October 1, 2012, I shall assume that you have concluded that there is no reason for concern. If you do respond, I would then appreciate a follow-up notification on the success/failure of your actions on or before December 31, 2012.

I await your response.”

Every member of our community, and in particular, every parent, should read and reread the concerns I raised and ask yourself if these issues need to be address. Instead of expressing dismay at my description of the current state of the District, Kanas indicated that there wasn’t enough proof to validate my statements and claims, and indicated that a committee would look into it in the near future. I explained to the Superintendent that you didn’t need a Ph.D. to divide one number by another in order to verify my claims. I also explained that committees don’t get things done and that any meaningful recommendations for reform by whatever committee would be ignored by both the corrupt Board and equally corrupt teachers and their union. I became convinced that nothing meaningful would occur with Kanas as Superintendent…and my concerns have been confirmed at this point in time.

Two of Kanas’ favorite terms during our discussions were strategic and comprehensive, two popular Madison Avenue clichés. Any time I hear someone using either or both of these words, that individual gets tuned out since I know from past experience that the individual is either clueless or trying to con me, or both. Kanas appears to be in this category. In any event, Kanas never took action on my note.

More than six months have elapsed since I tried to get to the bottom of class sizes and teacher absenteeism. Thanks to Assistant Superintendent Fitzpatrick, I still don’t have the necessary background information and data to perform a meaningful analysis of both these problems. She has successfully stalled the process. The bottom line is that my repeated calls for Fitzpatrick to go (and not be replaced) have been ignored. Thank you Kanas.

Can Kanas turn things around in the EWSD? I doubt it, given the past conduct of the EXPLOITERS, i.e., Kamberg, the present Board, earlier Boards, plus the teachers and their union. The District needs a strong Superintendent who will stand up to the self-serving EXPLOITERS in our community. Unfortunately, Kanas has not even remotely demonstrated either the willingness and/or capability to do so. My present thought: Kanas may turn out to be a worse nightmare than the EXPLOITER’S earlier favorite – the incompetent and unqualified Lorna Lewis.

I’ve not heard from Kanas since our earlier meetings. Despite the drop in enrollment, the student cost is now projected to be nearly $32,000 and I was informed the student/teacher ratio has worsened. Kanas promised to take action and I was willing to give her a pass even though she misrepresented herself both on her application and during the Superintendent’s position review process. Apparently, nobody cares even though this is grounds for dismissal. I guess Kamberg and his crew feel they can control Kanas and have her under their thumb. And, on her part, Kanas has come to feel comfortable with this arrangement where she can ignore being accountable to the taxpayers and the students.

Only a fool doesn’t understand that the EXPLOITERS, i.e., the teachers and their union, in cooperation with Kanas, Kamberg, his Board, the PTO leadership and some of its members, are destroying our school district and ripping off the taxpayer. The present system is simply unsustainable; everyone – except some voters – knows it. Unfortunately, most of the PTO members continue to be successfully brainwashed every year. No opposing voice is allowed. Even Wheatley seniors receive the usual lectures from the teachers that all will be lost if the budget is defeated. As I have repeatedly stated, the District’s ranking and reputation is in a freefall decline, the student:teacher ratio is 9.75:1.0…. Wheatley seniors are having difficulty getting into the school of their choice, and some seniors lack college preparedness. The teachers are teaching less, their indifference has increased, and the teacher role model is a thing of the past. Astonishingly, the parents have come to accept this. The ax is certain to fall when the younger children reach graduation age. Yet, the parents in our District appear not to be concerned.

What does all this mean? The EXPLOITERS have sacrificed the best interests of the schoolchildren (and the taxpayers) in order to (perhaps?) gain an advantage for their kids with teachers and administrators, all at the expense of the children of other parents. And, if the other parents don’t believe this statement, I’ve got a bridge to sell them. Simply put, parents have and continue to be duped.

A word on Sean Feeney, Wheatley’s principal. An 11/4/13 article in Newsday referred to “The Wheatley School as one of the highest rated schools on Long Island” and that “Feeney does not believe his own negative job evaluations reflect that rating.” Unfortunately, Wheatley no longer is one of the elite schools, no doubt reflected in his poor evaluation. Come on! Would he have complained if he got good/excellent reviews? I checked the criteria employed in the evaluation process (something I have been involved with in the past) and it looked fairly reasonable to me. Four words come to mind when I think of most of his (the Wheatley) teachers: indifference, mean-spirited, greedy, and parasitic. In the meantime, his graduates continue to complain about the quality of education they are receiving (details available on request). In any event, he appears next in line for the Superintendent’s job when and if Kanas is dumped or if she moves on (ala Lewis).

Keep in mind that despite the aforementioned enrollment decrease in excess of 10%, more teachers and administrators have been hired, the school budget continues to spiral upward, and the quality of education is decreasing monotonously. Thank you Kanas for allowing the waste and the quality of education to decline unabated. She really has turned out to be as bad as Lewis.

The reality is that the EWSD community has reached a point where the majority of residents – including many parents – simply don’t care about what’s going on. There is significant apathy and disinterest, with large numbers of voters ignoring their duty to vote. No doubt change will come, but it will take time.

I also need to include a few of the letters from the EWSD mailbox.

“I am sure Dr. Kanas will destroy programs and lives just as she did in Valley Stream 30. She brings in tons of programs with no follow-through and is only concerned with improving her own resume.”
Name Withheld

“Dear Dr. Theodore, Facts again seem to be right on the money. You have mentioned more than once that ‘facts and information’ are being hidden. Your only alternative is to try to use the freedom of information act. The things you mention should come under the heading of public information which should enable you to use this law. I also think that in many respects you are ‘beating a dead horse’ which must be very frustrating. However, knowing you as I do, I know you will continue the ‘good fight’.”
Bob S.

“…… aside from that, I loved this letter because none of it surprised me…which made me feel like I know you fairly well. On a separate thought, I’d love to see you do an article on how many EW School District families choose to send their children to private school. I met a family recently. They live on William Street in EW and have 4 children. They send all 4 to private schools. They don’t seem to know a soul in EW. Just around the corner is another family with 5 children. All 5 are in private school. It would be a wakeup call for EW families who think our school is so great to find out that a large percentage don’t think the district is even good enough to send their children there. Have a great weekend Professor.”
Name Withheld

“Nicely said. Sir, I was wondering…Have you ever done an analysis of how many (or what proportion) of our EWSD eligible students are utilizing other venues for education? I’m curious how many of our district’s students attend private schools or are home-schooled. Thanks for sharing.”
Name Withheld

Is there a reasonable solution that can accommodate the best interests of both the taxpayers and schoolchildren, and at the same time, be fair to the teachers? Of course! My approach has been ignored. But I believe that something other than a weak-kneed Superintendent could pull it off. In the meantime, EWSD readers should take whatever steps are necessary to help put a stop to the EXPLOITERS’ conduct regarding school and financial matters.

Readers: Don’t be a glutton for punishment. Stop being taken for a fool, and stop being an enabler for the EXPLOITERS.

Lou Theodore

NEXT POSTINGS:

February 1: On the New York Times
March 1: On Chaste, Pristine, and Random Thoughts XX
April 1: On the Barack Hussein Obama Update III


THE EAST WILLISTON SCHOOL DISTRICT BUDGET VOTE RESULTS

May 29, 2013

June 1, 2013

Last month’s “THE BUDGET VOTE” article generated responses that keyed on Kanas’ survey requesting community input and an exchange with one of the readers. The readers’ mailbox comments follow.

1 – “A true survey would NOT request a name to be entered on the form. Some people do not like to put their name on anything going to the board and administration (especially parents who fear the repercussions to their kids). And if a survey (or any other issue) is submitted without names, it is usually disregarded! This has happened in the past. So IF they really wanted a true response, it should have been an anonymous survey.” I should have picked up on this based on the Kanas’ survey (particularly since I have conducted numerous surveys) given the fanatical conduct of the teachers in the past. It is possible that Kanas is not savvy enough to appreciate how vindictive some of the teachers are. Keep in mind that it was Kansas (our new Superintendent) who misrepresented herself during the interview process.

2 – “If our tax dollars are used to send out surveys such as this, it’s not wasteful spending. Providing educational decisions would be a group decision made by the community…and we could therefore ELIMINATE the Superintendent position.” I don’t agree with this reader. We need a strong, intelligent and dedicated Superintendent. Unfortunately, most of us now feel that Kanas does not fit that description.

3 – From one out-of-town reader (when informed of the budget results): “How sick are the voters? Sell your house, get away from these asses, and come move to Florida.” Wow!

4 – My response to an earlier email from one of the most respected and influential members of our community: “Looks like you’re getting your two cents in. I’m not sure if that is good from your perspective given the vindictive conduct of the teachers. I wouldn’t place too much credence in anything from either Feeney or Kanas. Feeney is looking to explain away the sorrowful conduct of his teachers and the poor quality of education at the high school. Kanas is simply out of her league and turning into a disaster. I offer the following regarding Whelan’s 5/23 article:

1. Does anyone think Feeney or Kanas would be criticizing the education methodology if our ranking either increased or improved?

2. I’m not sure what was meant by the words “taking ownership of our own rankings.” The teachers and administrators couldn’t possibly be objective since we know they are both unethical and unprofessional. Any evaluation must be conducted by an impartial group. What makes more sense is your recommendation to evaluate student performance after graduation from “year to year.” I think information garnered in this manner would verify my contention that the high school is failing in its responsibility and not doing its job.”

The latest response to my (the above) email:

“A few thoughts.

I tend to believe that an internal ranking system is needed and can be developed and published in a transparent manner. I have no reason to believe that the school would intentionally misrepresent the data. And folks like myself would be all over them if they did that. However, I have no issues if an external party or group prepared and monitored the results. I even think one of the Board Committee could help in this capacity.

In the article there is an admission by Kanas that the SAT scores are declining. In addition, in the attached report (slide 13) Feeney does highlight that Jericho has improved their index value by 25%.

I think it’s important to recognize that while we continue to be a top ranked school, we appear to be losing ground to our peer schools in terms of academic performance. Rather than simply criticize, I’d like to engage with our school administration and Board in an open way about what actions can be taken to address these issues. Or simply, learn from other districts that are doing better.

Many parents, like myself are starting to become aware of these issues. I’d like to build on the momentum and continue to raise awareness and request action.
So far, Dr. Kanas has recognized the SAT issue, and is modifying the curriculum to address. I believe this is a good start but more review and action is needed.
Just my thoughts and I appreciate your point of view on these issues.”

There were, of course, other comments. Your input and continued support are appreciated.

* * *

Let’s get right to it. The budget passed. Unbelievable! Embarrassing! Frightening! How out-of-it can some of the voters be? And, how uncaring and selfish can some of the other voters be? As I have repeatedly indicated, the 9.75 and $32,000 figures speak for themselves. (Interestingly, Manhasset voters rejected their budget; this community is apparently smart enough to realize what’s happening.) The bond issue passed, giving the Board permission to effectively spend money without accountability and without requiring a budget vote. Finally, the self-servicing Keefe (and former teacher union president) and the devoid-of-qualifications Sloan were again voted into office.

Here is what our intelligent and informed District members voted for. The state tax cap limit is 3.30%. The EWSD tax levy is presently 3.21%. Anyone in the reading audience believe that the EXPLOITERS ever gave some thought to freezing or reducing the tax levy? They obviously set out to work around the 3.30% increase. They would have never attempted anything else, for if they could have eliminated any waste and/or programs, it would have gone into increasing teacher salaries and benefits and/or reducing their already soft workload. Thank you EXPLOITERS.

Only a fool doesn’t understand that the EXPLOITERS, i.e., the teachers and their union, in cooperation with Kanas, Kamberg, his Board, the PTO leadership, and some of its members, are destroying our school district and ripping off the taxpayer. The present system is simply unsustainable; everyone – except the aforementioned voters – knows it. Here is what Newsday reported on 5/1/13: “School spending and tax proposals are rising across Long Island, fueled by pension costs and other staff benefits.” What they didn’t report, unfortunately, is that no one is doing anything about it. The EXPLOITERS are tickled pink to either maintain the status quo or further exploit the community. The powers to be in the Village of East Williston have settled on the sidelines and stay above the fray even though the school taxes are destroying property values and the quality of life in the Village. I also talked to the County; they claim it’s not their business even though school taxes are destroying the County. The State? With Cuomo… forget about it.

Here is what Newsday reported (5/19) regarding EWSD budgetary matters: “District officials declined to provide information on increases in teacher salaries or possible reductions to teachers or other staff under the proposed budget. They also would not specify whether any district programs would be cut or restored.” In other words, it’s not only me they want to keep in the dark, but everyone in the District. Now, that is what I call transparency. And, why do they get away with it? Many, but not all, of the voters – particularly the parents – are too dumb to know better.

Probably all in the reading audience have invested in the stock market (or the equivalent). You can win… or you can lose. But not our teachers. Our corrupt state officials, fearful of being labeled anti-education by the Teachers’ Union (the most powerful lobbying entity in the state) have guaranteed that the teachers’ pensions will not only be profitable but also cannot be reduced, altered or rescinded. And the teachers and their union are still not happy or satisfied. Gouging the taxpayer is the name of their game and the EXPLOITERS (including Kanas) are there to make sure it stays that way.

There is, of course, more. Gov. Cuomo has said: “the numbers speak for themselves –the pension system, as we know it, is unsustainable.” Gov. Christie has said: “At some point, there has to be parity between what is happening in the real world and what is happening in the public-sector world.” Under the present system, taxes will go up every year and no one can stop them unless you, the taxpayer, vote these bloated budgets down. Concessions must be made if anyone truly wants to enact change. But, don’t count on the EXPLOITERS for cooperation since it does not serve their best interests. And, it really is sad that Kanas has already joined the non-reformist forces.

Well, there’s more. Last year, someone or some organization posted signs on school grounds that read:
EWSD BUDGET PASSED
THANK YOU

I called and requested permission to put a sign on school grounds that I had prepared. It was not only denied but they also refused to indicate who paid for the sign and who approved the posting of the sign. (Two months later, the PTO was credited for this in a one-sentence statement buried in the minutes.) If the PTO is a 501C organization, i.e., a non-profit one, they are strictly forbidden to support any political issue.) Same posting this year. I called Kanas’ office and requested an explanation. No explanation was provided. (Incidentally, the signs came down the next day.)Thank you, Kanas, for confirming, at least in my eyes, that you are a perfect addition to the EXPLOITER group.

You want even more? This is another example of the EXPLOITERS at work. Here are part of the contents (not taken out of context) recently forwarded by the PTO to select parents and taxpayers:

“Please Join Concerned Residents and Teachers on June 8th in Albany at the Empire State Plaza in Albany. You are invited to attend a rally to express your support for our public schools and frustrations with the direction our children’s education is taking:
1. Too many tests
2. Not enough funding
3. A broken tax system
The Teacher’s Union is generous to provide free bus service as well as lunch to those who wish to attend this rally.”
Obviously, the most powerful lobbying entity in Albany – the teachers’ union – is attempting to, once again, intimidate our elected officials into providing increased salaries/reduce workloads and eliminating accountability for teachers. I’m still trying to find out if any taxpayer funds were used to support this “project.” Naturally, nobody knows anything. I can’t even find out how many taxpayers are dumb enough to consider supporting this scam.

The EXPLOITERS obviously are having it their way. But now, there is a new player — the Financial Advisory Committee (FAC). Their long awaited report and power point presentation is available on our school’s website. All taxpayers and parents should carefully examine it. Here are three important points that should be noted. The FAC’s charges from the EXPLOITERS include the following:

1. “FAC recommendations are not binding on the school board. However, the Board will consider the recommendations of the FAC in its deliberations regarding the ongoing fiscal operations of the District.” In other words, any meaningful recommendations regarding reform that is not in the best interests of the EXPLOITERS will be (as in the past) ignored. I’ve got a bridge to sell any FAC member who believes otherwise.

2. “Continue to advocate and demonstrate commitment to school reform.” There has NEVER been a commitment to correct the abuses, implement reform, and/or eliminate waste.

3. “The current budget, as presently recommended, represents a 3.15% increase year over year.” Thus, the 2011-12, 2012-13, and 2013-14 budget increases are 1.92%, 2.49% and 3’15%, respectively. In effect, the budget continues to increase despite the fact that enrollment continues to decrease. Since the value of our houses is inversely proportioned to school taxes, the impossible-to-justify tax increases have also resulted in decreased house values. Did we need any other justification to vote NO on the budget?

No doubt many of you read (Newsday, 5/9/12) that our District’s ranking continues to freefall and is currently 246, down again from 55 last year. In addition, the student:teacher ratio in the top four schools on Long Island is 12, 13, 14 and 16 — as compared to our 9.75. Stuyvesant (my alma mater) is at 21. The figures simply don’t lie: the EXPLOITERS are destroying our District with the waste and indifference. We are now officially an also-ran. Even Governor Cuomo has described the school systems as “ineffective, wasteful, and bureaucratic,” and the most recent budget vote officially insures that it will stay that way.

In effect, the battle for reform has been lost. Sigi Huhn and John O’Kelly attempted valiantly to correct the corruption associated with the EXPLOITERS but both were run out of town by this group. And now, we can add Superintendent Kanas to the EXPLOITERS. Other than this newsletter, the voice of reform, representing the majority of the community, has been successfully squashed and eliminated. Most of the PTO members continue to be successfully brainwashed with every year. No opposing voice is allowed. Wheatley seniors of voting age are receiving the usual lectures from the teachers that all will be lost if the budget is defeated. The voices of reform have never — repeat the word NEVER — been allowed to discuss the budget vote and provide another perspective with these youngsters. Keep in mind that the EXPLOITERS (and those who came earlier) never approached any of the proponents of reform. This is the same group that bragged about their ability to reach out and work with the ENTIRE community. The bottom line is that they oppose any type of reform; excessive waste is the order of the day for them.

A reasonable question to ask is: why would reasonably intelligent and caring people not take action to correct the aforementioned financial abuses? The District needs to wake up; the 9.75 and $32,000 numbers speak for themselves. The answer is simply that most are not caring; they only care for their own needs irrespective of the common good…and the community pays for it because they now know that the EXPLOITERS can get away with it. Many of the key players have children (and grandchildren) and relatives working in the EWSD system, and this serves as the driving force to resist any category of reform.
What can be done? Public opinion polls (as reported by Newsday) clearly indicate that 90% of the voters oppose any tax increases. Ordinarily, dedicated and intelligent individuals would respond to a public mandate. Unfortunately, the Board is run by Kamberg, who has refused to accommodate voters, and who I believe has a past history of pursuing his own agenda, irrespective of the effect on both the schoolchildren and I taxpayers. Yes, Kamberg is only out for Kamberg. The PTO officers are only out for themselves. The teachers are only out for themselves. Apparently, Kanas is also out for herself. Add this to the 30 year old Triborough Amendment and you have school systems in place that are broken beyond repair. (The Triborough Amendment requires public employers to maintain all contractual perks for unionized public employees, including automatic “step” increases in pay after the expiration of a collective bargaining agreement; this gives unions an incentive to resist negotiating structural changes to their contracts since the status quo will be preserved even if there is no contract. It guarantees pay increases for teachers, including the requirement to finance automatic pay increases.) This is why approximately 500 applications are often received every time when there is a teacher opening.

Folks, have a great summer.
Lou Theodore

Here is what is on tap in the coming months:

July 1: On the New New York Racing Association (NYRA)
August 1: On the New Cooper Union
September 1: On Chaste, Pristine, and Random Thoughts XIX
October 1: On the Barack Hussein Obama Legacy


The East Williston School District (EWSD) Budget Vote

April 30, 2013

Note:   I recently met with an elected County Administrator to discuss my energy conservation commercial real estate (CRE) plans to reduce the degradation of the environment, provide new jobs, reduce energy costs, increase property values, and reduce the financial load on the County.  Sounds too good to be true?  It is not.  It has been implemented in two New York State Counties, several counties in California and Colorado, and the state of Connecticut.  Technical individuals in the reading audience should consider reading the paper.    The portion of the paper specifically dealing with CRE is highlighted.  Your comments would be appreciated.

Click here to go to paper.

May 1, 2013

There were numerous responses to the last article on the teachers and their union.  Here is one (unedited) that says it all:

“Keep up the good work.  Unfortunately, many have their heads buried in the sand and the others are too ignorant to understand the level of thievery and waste we are subject to.  People have been indoctrinated by the school system, the leftist media, unions, Hollywood and government, that government is good, collectivism is good, and all else is bad.”  Note that I chose to italicize ignorant.

 

We are back to that time of year.  The EWSD budget vote.  It’s not only the budget but also the Board seats about which nothing can be done.  Keefe, a former teacher union president, who has used his position for personal gain, is running unopposed.  Sloan, an individual absolutely unqualified for the job, is also running unopposed.  What’s left is the budget, and that is what I will key on in this article.

Please note that from here on, I shall refer to Kamberg (I prefer Konberg), the other four Board members, the teachers, the teachers’ union, the PTO and Dr. Elaine Kanas as the EXPLOITERS.

The EXPLOITERS continue to play games with the parents and taxpayers.  In case you haven’t noticed, there hasn’t been a word about Lorna Lewis.  Remember how all of them raved about her.  All of them.  Well, she’s officially gone, and our loss is Plainview’s gain (ha!).  Apparently, Plainview (as with an earlier EWSD Board) didn’t do its due diligence.  If they had, they would have concluded that she was a fraud – something the EXPLOITERS continue to refuse to admit.

Interestingly, the EXPLOITERS also didn’t perform the necessary and appropriate due diligence when they hired Kanas, our new Superintendent.  They obviously believe the taxpayers and parents (in particular) are either indifferent or not too bright, or both.

Kanas may turn out to be a worse nightmare than the EXPLOITER’S earlier favorite – the aforementioned incompetent and unqualified Lorna Lewis.  I had two serious talks with Kanas about budgetary matters, e.g., the $30,000 annual cost per student and the 9.75 student/teacher ratio.  I’ve not heard from her on either of these two issues.  Despite the drop in enrollment, the student cost is now projected to be nearly $32,000 and I was informed the student/teacher ratio has worsened.  Kanas promised to take budgetary action and I was willing to give her a pass even though she misrepresented herself on her application and during the Superintendent’s position review process.  Apparently, nobody cares even though this is grounds for dismissal.  In the meantime, she has obviously chosen to declare war on both our schoolchildren and taxpayers.  Shame on her!

Here is what we presently know regarding specific budget details.

  1. The      EWSD per capita annual student cost is nearly $32,000.
  2. The      student:teacher ratio is 9.75:1.0 providing further proof of (1).
  3. The      average class size is below that reported to the community, a fact that      EXPLOITERS must be aware of.  The      situation is particularly exacerbated at Wheatley.
  4. I have      not been provided teacher absenteeism data; it obviously must still be      rampant.
  5. The      waste – secretaries, assistants, associates, aides, and yes, some of the      teachers – remains unchecked.  As      reported by the FAC, jobs are not eliminated when they leave or retire.
  6. Our      District’s ranking is in freefall.
  7. Our      seniors at Wheatley are having difficulty getting into the      college/university of their choice.
  8. The      teachers’ position continues to be “we don’t do anything for nothing.”      This is all part of the Susan Bergtraum policies and the “poisoning” of      our teachers by David Israel, the former Teachers’ Union President.
  9. Despite      near zero percent inflation and overall decreasing enrollment in recent      years, the school budget continues to spiral upward.
  10. No plan      has been put in place, or even proposed, to eliminate the waste and solve      some of the above problems.  Thanks      are due to the EXPLOITERS.

I also need to comment on another matter, I hope many of you had an opportunity to review the survey recently forwarded by the Strategic Planning Committee under Kanas’s letterhead.  How convenient.  The community received the mailing just prior to budget election time.  The survey was unquestionably intended (in my opinion) to give the voter the impression that his/her opinion counts.  The useless survey requested that the community provide academic priorities for the future.  Now, who really believes that the average community member is qualified to render any such judgment?  These are decisions that should be made by competent Superintendents and Administrators.  Please view it as simply another scam.

Is there a reasonable solution that can accommodate the best interests of both the taxpayers and schoolchildren, and at the same time, be fair to the teachers?  Of course!  My approach has been ignored.  But I believe that something other than a weak-kneed Superintendent could pull it off.

The interested reader should continue to visit:

www.theodorenewsletter.com

for more hard facts/information and details regarding the conduct of the EXPLOITERS and what they don’t want the taxpayers/parents to know.  Also, direct your friends, neighbors and relatives to the site.

Bottom Line:  Do yourself a favor, do the children a favor, do the taxpayers a favor, do the seniors a favor, do our home values a favor and vote

NO

 

on the budget.  It’s ok to vote no.  Help put a stop to the EXPLOITERS conduct regarding financial matters.  Don’t be a glutton for punishment.  Stop being taken for a fool, and stop being an enabler for the EXPLOITERS (especially Kamberg)

NEXT POSTING:  June 1, The Budget Results.


The East Williston School District Teachers and Their Union

March 30, 2013

April 1, 2013

 

I periodically clip out articles in newspapers that catch my fancy.  Several such articles appeared in the newspaper media since the East Williston School District (EWSD) budget election last year.  Here are “excerpts” from four of them.

 

  1. Newsday, May 9, 2012.

      South Huntington Deal on Teacher Contracts

 

Here are parts of the article:

 

The contract calls for a complete salary freeze for 2012-13; a 2 percent raise in 2013-14 but no step increase; and a step increase but no raise in 2014-15.

 

A statement by the district reiterated the Board of Education position “that savings from the teachers’ contract concessions would go toward restoring educational programs in the district.”

 

Comment:       Anyone believe that the (EWSD) teachers and their union, along with Kamberg and his crew plus Superintendent Kanas, will follow with a similar contract?

 

  1. Newsday,      July 22, 2012.

 

Central Islip teachers agreed to a (relatively amazing) new contract involving some modest reduction in pay increases that will result in reduced class sizes and a reduction in taxes.

 

Comment:       Is there any chance the (EWSD) teachers and their union will agree to a similar deal?  Of course not; it simply would not be in their best interests.

 

  1. Newsday,      October 21, 2012.

Take a Course, Get a Raise

 

Here are excerpts from the article:

 

Long Island school administrators are allowing teachers to take professional development courses such as yoga, stress management and “The science and Romance of Wine” for credits that count toward thousands of dollars in raises – over and above the annual increases they already receive, a Newsday investigation has found.

 

At least 100 classes had little connection to student learning or were of questionable academic value.  Districts approved more than 750 classes that were outside of the teacher’s subject areas.  Just 40 of Long Island’s 125 school districts have contract language limiting the number of courses that can be taken in a year.

 

Oversight of professional development programs is spotty.  Some districts have approved classes provided by educational institutions that other districts have completely banned because they’ve deemed the course offerings are too lax.

 

Comment: Anyone think the EWSD teachers and their union will address this issue?  How about Kamberg and his crew?  How about Superintendent Kanas?

 

  1. Sarasota      Herald – Tribune, March 20, 2013.

There’s Learning . . . And Earning

 

Manatee County teachers’ pay was cut 2.75 percent last year; they are negotiating a contract for this year.  In 2010-11, teachers had a step increase, an average of 1.36 percent rise of their annual pay, while health insurance premiums jumped an average of 19 percent.

 

Overall, Florida teachers’ average pay decreased nearly 1 percent – from $46,922 to $46,479 – from the 2007-08 school year to 2011-12.

 

It is no secret that taxpayers across the country already are revolting against school spending—especially escalating teacher salaries.  This movement is taking place after decades of supporting education at almost any cost, usually by inept and unconscious School Board members and weak-kneed superintendents.  But, people are beginning to say that enough is enough.

 

A question we engineers often ask when evaluating a scheme, proposal, contract, etc., is as follows:  Is it cost-effective and is there sufficient accountability?  When applied to education, most school boards, school administrators and teachers have conveniently avoided answering this question.  In fact, these individuals continue to try to convince concerned and angry taxpayers that taxes need to be raised further if our children are to receive a quality education.

 

In terms of being cost-effective, many taxpayers are simply asking what are they getting for their money.  Why are many suburban teachers’ salaries more than 50% higher than their colleagues in the New York City school system?  This is particularly disconcerting since the NYC teacher has to contend with major social and behavioral problems that often overshadow normal teaching responsibilities.

 

Our nation’s economic system is based not only on competition but also supply and demand.  Teachers also continue to contend that salaries need to further increase in order to maintain and attract quality teachers.  Only an individual living in another galaxy would buy this argument.  How many presently teaching in a suburban setting would quit if their salaries were reduced by 25%? For sure, there would only be a handful.  If you believe this to be true—and I am certain it is—then the suburban taxpayer is being ripped off by the tandem of teachers associations and school boards, with the blessing of the aforementioned weak-kneed superintendents.  Any vacant positions that might arise would be filled almost instantaneously…and for good reason.

 

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

 

Although much 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 teachers whose salaries are $150,000/year.  When one considers the salary, perks, health benefits, abbreviated work days, extensive vacation periods, absenteeism, 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 (for over 50 years) – only at another level.

 

And then there is job security.  Today, most taxpayers no longer have the luxury of job security.  In the old days, one might receive, at any time, a DCM, 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.

 

And then there is merit (?) pay for our teachers.  Merit pay must be part of fundamental reforms to help schools hire, promote and fire teachers according to the best interests of students.  This kind of arrangement is standard in the private sector, where continuous quality improvement is both expected and delivered.  Ultimately, reform of teacher conduct and performance will be most successful in school systems free of the regulatory burdens imposed by union contracts, and the education bureaucracy.

 

Merit?  There should be merit for a handful.  But this District’s ranking and performance are staggering.  Absenteeism is rampant.  And, indifference is on the rise.  There is something wrong with those who are advocating merit pay.  Dr. Kanas, do you get what I’m saying?

 

I taught for over 50 years.  I still do some training as a consultant, and this is for attendees with my background and education.  It was easy then; it is easy now.  Don’t believe the hype.  Teaching is a breeze.  Is it a racket as some of my dedicated colleagues have claimed?  Let’s just say the EWSD teachers work in a collegiate environment, with dedicated and mostly willing-to-learn students, a relaxed atmosphere  and  unaccountable conduct and performance . . . all on top of bloated salaries and benefits.  You be the judge.

 

I close with a comment I’ve repeated numerous times over the last dozen years.  The EWSD teachers, as a group, are the most unprofessional encountered during my teaching career.  They are an embarrassment to my profession.

 

Lou Theodore

 

Next Posting:    The Budget Vote, May 1, 2013