menlomonkey | Chicago Reader

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Re: “Mea culpa—I confess!

Apparently your critics think you need not just be a critical observer, but a participant as well. Good luck writing about the Chicago Marathon!

1 like, 1 dislike
Posted by menlomonkey on 04/21/2012 at 8:10 AM

Re: “Mayor Rahm and the f-bomb: a critical study

Sigh! Thank you Ben, for another thoughtful article. I liked the last one, too. At our union meeting, we praised your supportive reporting and questioning of CPS's central office decisions versus the Tribune's constant parroting of CPS's policies.
I think what some people are missing here is the effect of SB7 on the contract negotiations. What the public doesn't realize is that because of that law, the ONLY thing we are allowed to bargain over is compensation, nothing else. Starting out with a 30% (assumed) salvo is a tactic, not an expectation. No teacher expects to get that at all. What we are concerned about is the language of the proposed merit pay system, which the Board wants us to agree to. We also don't like the proposed structure of the "Full School Day", but we're not allowed to discuss that.
"Merit Pay" is a great phrase with little thought, planning, or processes behind it that make sense. Education is a highly subjective process, and unfortunately, in this technology-driven age, everyone wants to quantify it so we can measure our "progress". The process of quantifying what students learn has led to test after test developed, then reformulated, then tossed out, then reworked. Apparently even the controversial ISAT is going to go the way of the dinosaur soon in favor of a new set of tests that CPS is currently recruiting teachers to write (sound like the case exams, anyone?). If the tests keep changing and we keep tweaking the "standards" (now we are on Common Core, the 8th inauguration of the latest learning standards I've seen in 15 years of working in CPS), how is any "merit pay" system going to really work?
I'm not trying to protect "bad" teachers, either, but we aren't in this for the money (or I would have left for the much better paying suburbs years ago). All we ask for is a fair wage, health insurance, and a modest pension since we do not get social security benefits. After 15 years working in CPS with a Master's plus 15, I make on paper a nice fat salary of $84,000. Guess what that turns into after health insurance, taxes, medicaid, disability, dental, HSA (to cover my health costs that aren't covered by insurance), 403b, pension, dues, and summer pay etc. is taken out? $900 a week. I'm not making tons of money here. I work summers to supplement my income so I can pay a mortgage on my required City of Chicago residence, put gas in my car to get to work, put groceries on the table, and pay for child care. There's not a whole lot left. I'm not driving a Mercedes. With health care costs going up and my pension contribution share going up because of CPS's failure to fund the system, I am looking at a pay cut next year, even with a 2%, 4% or 6% raise.
I'm not in favor of a merit pay system because I don't believe that it would work based on test scores and how much a principal likes me (I've been through 4 in 11 years at my current school). I would rather stick with a system that treats me equally with my union brothers and sisters because my commitment to my job is one that I take personal pride in, care deeply about, and am committed to. Administrations will come and go, but teachers are often the heart of a school and community. What I want is a work environment that promotes quality over quantity and the resources to do my best work. What I want most is some respect.
For those of you who think that "all bad teachers should be fired" I have two questions: One: if you get a "bad" teacher for your child, then did you make some noise about it? Squeaky wheels get the grease in this system, and often troubling situations CAN be resolved, especially if your concerns are legitimate. Did you try to work with the teacher? Principal? District office? CPS?
Two, how many "bad" teachers do we have (since there seem to be so many that I'm lumped in with)? 20%? 50%? If it's 20%, then the majority of teachers must be okay, so why all the nasty rhetoric about all the bad teachers? People don't seem to realize that the principal has a lot of disciplinary power over a teacher without having to fire them (which they also can do). If a bad teacher is allowed to keep doing a bad job, it isn't the union protecting them, it's the unwillingness of the administration to do their job. If it is 50%, do you know where we can get 15,000 new teachers if we fire them all tomorrow?
I am sick and tired of being the victim of a media-fueled barrage of mistrust and blame which a lot of people outside of education buy right into without employing some critical thinking to some of the arguments that are put out there.
I am tired of being told I need to be fixed, that I need to change my standards every two years, that I'm overpaid, that I'm not doing a good job and that I should lower my expectations of compensation. I refuse to subject my knowledge of what is best for my students at my school to an administration of newly hired, inexperienced, and overpaid bureaucrats with little to no experience working in schools as educators. Those who currently run CPS who will likely be gone over the next 2-4 years, just like the last four CPS administrations I have known in 15 years. The media should take a good hard look at who's running the show downtown at 125 S. Clark Street. They are a mess.

6 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by menlomonkey on 04/20/2012 at 10:38 PM

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