How to make a difficult job even harder

As I dropped off my son at school today, I got handed a handout from one of the staff members of the school. It was a sheet telling me that LAUSD is not standing up for education, and it throwing their teachers to the wolves.

My first thought was, of course the teachers union is going to characterize it this way. They obviously have an axe to grind. Being told the new LAUSD Superintendent gave himself an $80k/year raise just confirmed my opinion.

Mind you, this was handed to me by an employee who works less than 5 hours/day so the district doesn’t have to pay for her benefits. She is very energentic, and involved, ALWAYS helpful, and acts as if this is her dream job. So it was a bit of a shock when she told me, “oh no honey. This isn’t my bread-and-butter. I have to work somewhere else for that.”

So with these mixed signals, I came home, and started doing some research. What I found was a Lawsuit settlement, a failed district policy for dealing with layoffs, and a newspaper which also had an axe to grind. It’s also true that the district which is firing a large number of teachers for next year, did in fact raise the salary for the newly incoming super from $250k to $330k.

For a short run-down, read this. The comment at the bottom, attributed to Scott Folsom on his blog 4LAKids seem to be spot on. Everything I found this morning in my research, supported his contentions. Of interest I found the link on the bottom of his comments about the NYC school troubles (the largest school district in the US) to be especially insightful. It appears LA is not the only place where big does not equal beautiful.

I’ll be looking into Scott’s blog, and see what he is like, but so far, his is the only voice that doesn’t trigger my BS detector.

I actually do favor the use of “value added” as an objective metric to measuring teacher performance, BUT (and that is a big but) it should not be THE ONLY METRIC for measuring teacher performance (for instance, to be labeled a special needs child in the state of CA, one needs to have several metrics to determine if that child is indeed “special”. One test alone will not cut it), and if teachers are going to get paid based on this performance, then the kids taking the test should be equally judged on their performance. In other words, everyone needs to have some skin in the game. You fail this test, you fail the grade.

Mind you, I’m not a big fan of standardized testing. I am, however, a big fan of treating or teachers with equality. I don’t know about anywhere else, but in our local school, the teachers bust their butts to try and deliver a quality education their their charges. The entire staff, without exception is professional and passionate about their work, Seeing them have to work harder in an already difficult job, and yet expecting them to give the same performance is crazy.

And to the new Superintendent, John Deasy, my message is this: If you want my support, you better have some skin in the game too. If you’re cutting 5% of your staff, I expect at least a 5% pay cut from you, AND EVERY SINGLE ADMINISTRATOR on staff. No exceptions. You expect them to do more, with less, and you expect me to swallow that, then you better be doing the same. The Spartans got it right. The leadership position is in the front of the army.

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