Pennsylvania is a complete mess, too?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by AmyMyNamey, Nov 21, 2017.

  1. AmyMyNamey

    AmyMyNamey Comrade

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  3. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Phenom

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    This school district is ridiculous. Instead of giving the teachers the help they desparately need to help those troubled students, they instead try to save face with the public and say the resignations are due to various reasons and teachers retiring. Bull hockey. I think that school district should have some admin replaced and then maybe something useful might get done. It is unfortunate that those admin are in charge of anything at all.

    End rant.
     
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  4. Maryhf

    Maryhf Connoisseur

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    The district in this article has a long history of difficulties (to be kind) though the deepest complaints seem to come from several schools in the district, not all of them. There are 500 school districts in PA, and I work about 20 minutes away from this one in a district with very few problems.
     
  5. AmyMyNamey

    AmyMyNamey Comrade

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    So what makes those schools special? How have these conditions managed to overtake them, and what could be done to turn things around?

    In my own Indiana district, this sort of violence is beginning to become the norm. We have a self-serving, elitist administration that dismisses concerns and, if pressed, blames the teachers themselves for the violence and disrespect. Administration counters alarms with the race card and what I regard as the new race card: poverty. Our administrators excuse violence as a cultural trait of impoverished families and the natural consequence of teachers' lack of tolerance and understanding. Not even NEA is willing to take a stand against violence. However, NEA remains quite insistent upon collecting every penny of those membership dues!

    In our situation, the only remedy would entail replacing all district administration and the strict enforcement of law. Otherwise, we will remain a wild west meat grinder, another unfortunate statistic of Amerika's rush toward extreme economic segregation and oppression.
     
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  6. Maryhf

    Maryhf Connoisseur

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    I'm not an expert and don't have specifics, but that sounds familiar. This particular district has been taken over by the state in the past. They don't seem to have the proper systems in place- textbooks not available on day 1, laptops missing or stolen, hiring is done because of who knows whom.
     
  7. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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  8. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    but they have PBIS! It says so right in the article. That should solve everything!
     
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  9. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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  10. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Phenom

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    This is why working in private schools is better, IMO. Having complete autonomy in your classroom and a supportive administration goes a long way.
     
  11. AmyMyNamey

    AmyMyNamey Comrade

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    There was a lengthy thread about PBIS a while back, and someone argued that this is NOT what PBIS is about, but instead represents common misconceptions and poor practice. I don't know, myself. We use it, and our use of it has weakened our discipline strategy overall. If that is because the system itself is flawed or our use of it is flawed, I cannot honestly say.

    I do know that our own problems stem from inept and corrupt district administration.
     
  12. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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  13. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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  14. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Phenom

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    That is certainly true at some private schools, but at my school you can negotiate your salary if you get advanced degrees and if you are promoted. Case in point, my current salary is $55,000 (negotiated this after completing my Masters degree), it’s only my 4th year teaching (I’m 25), and we get annual bonus checks ($1,000 or more around the end of school). This is nice over the summer, haha!

    Also, my salary will increase over the next 4 or 5 years (about $20,000). Our retirement is so-so (they contribute 2-3%), but they pay for ALL of your healthcare, which is like $6,000-$7,000/year and my dental and vision is next to nothing (~$40/month in total), so we get really good benefits. When calculated out, I’m doing better than most public schoolteachers! :)

    Lastly , since we’re a private school and not affiliated with any school district, teachers can private tutor for profit. My tutoring business is booming because of this (I’m looking at making a little over half my teaching salary by the school year’s end). ;)

    Edit: My starting salary was $40,000/yr three years ago. You stay at that rate until you complete your Masters and credential (I’ve both) and then you can ask for a raise. What’s great is that students give you gifts all the time. Several of my students give me gift cards from Starbucks, In-N-Out, Jamba Juice, Home Depot, and others, plus money ($50 gift cards is the average amount given).
     
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  15. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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  16. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Positive reinforcement works for many, but not for all. It is like anything, it doesn't work for everyone. That is where people must adjust to determine what will work for those people the system is failing.
     
  17. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Phenom

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    We don’t have a teacher’s union, but the only requirements for continued employment are strong state test scores (we have a 99% pass rate), AP scores that exceed the national average (my average is a 4 on the AP and my classes have a 98% pass rate), SAT/ACT scores that exceed the national average, and your students need to show positive growth. Otherwise, you are never hassled by admin or your department chair (they remind you to submit lesson plans which we always submit on time). What’s great are that the parents and admin are super supportive. They give you high-fives, greet you every morning with a smile, put candy and other goodies on your desk, invite you to dinner, etc. My school is the best I’ve ever heard of, IMO.
     
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  18. TrademarkTer

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    But at a decent public school you can have all the things you describe plus tenure protection.
     
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  19. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Phenom

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    And yet in many public schools teachers make a lot less than me after 10-30 years of service, have to pay for their own healthcare, AND deal with awnry and ungrateful administrators. :p
     
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  20. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Groupie

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    No, no, no, I'm talking about a comparable public school district not one where they make less and deal with all that.
     
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  21. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Phenom

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    Oh, gotcha. Tenure is a good thing, but I’m fine without it. I’ve been told by admin, school board members, and parents that I’m “irreplaceable.” Their words, not mine. I’m not worried.
     
  22. MsMar

    MsMar Fanatic

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    All of PA is definitely not a mess. There are plenty of good districts. There are also bad ones. But to answer the question if the entire state is a mess, no, it is definitely not. My children attend a great district, and I teach in a very good one, and I can think of at least 20 other districts within an hour of where I live where I know things are fine as well. Would I want to teach in Philadelphia? Nope, lots of problems there. As is also obviously the case with the district mentioned in the article. But overall PA has way more districts without massive problems than ones with problems.
     
  23. AmyMyNamey

    AmyMyNamey Comrade

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    Wonderful! We have returned to Pennsylvania! Let's not allow this to become another case wherein a thread dealing with uncomfortable realities gets hijacked and subsequently locked. Thank you.

    "Once we meet and find out that there are needs that we need to have serviced, that means it's going to take parent involvement to make that happen."

    For the sake of the cameras, here you have an inept administrator simultaneously feigning both obliviousness and concern. She pretends to be oblivious to absolve herself of culpability. She's not going to know that problems exist until a committee is formed and meetings are held? All she has to do is walk through the door of one of the schools in question, spend a couple hours in its halls without a handler feeding her a line of crap and steering her away from the more troublesome areas of the building. She knows the problems, but pretends she doesn't. She insinuates that she is concerned, then passes the buck to parents. This problem isn't going to be solved without help from the parents? And that's it? No plan B? What happens when the parents aren't going to help? Wait until the cameras go away then retaliate against the teachers who raised concerns?

    As a final resort, inept administrators will hang responsibility for their failing schools around the necks of faceless parents.

    You do not enlist the help of people who are not going to help you.

    Instead, you deal with the problem—harshly, if need be. These administrators need to take control of these situations with every legal resource at their disposal. The police can be called to remove violent children from buildings. The fallout for this is short-term at best, compared to the long-term consequences of allowing violence to run rampant. I know that administrators generally are unable to see the forest for the trees, to think long-term, but they can get help from teachers and the association—people more committed and less self-involved than themselves.

    The evocation of PBIS is not unlike claiming the situation is "in the Lord's hands." It's just another weak attempt by administration to avoid responsibility for the problem and resolution of the problem. I find the tactic, base and obvious as it is, infuriating.

    Long-term, the school community is going to appreciate having a safe space for their children, where violence is not allowed. The parents who cry because their psychotic baby was cuffed and taken to juvenile detention don't matter after a certain point, and this district is well past that point.

    The other side to resolution is securing funding for adequate staffing and placements. This is where inept administrators and board members fail consistently and with the most dire consequence. These "leaders" will petition legislators for new computers and after-school programs (free extended child care), but not the staff and facilities needed for adequate placements.

    Inept administrators and school boards regularly confuse a districts' needs with their own—which most often involve photo ops and bullet points on the CV. Boards and administrators will push for funds that are easy to acquire and afford ready opportunities for self-promotion. They are not likely to push for funding that involves actual work or rewards not realized until well past their own terms in office.

    We all know that there are violent, disturbed children. They gravitate around poverty. We cannot resolve generational poverty, but we can deal with its symptoms better than we often do.

    Troubled, violent children need adequate placement. They cannot be allowed to jeopardize the education of hundreds and thousands of other students.

    This district puts a face on the national epidemic of inadequate funding in education. While it is presumptuous to think that we deserve the services we pay taxes for (our taxes, after all, are intended as tribute for our corporate overlords), the funding for adequate placement of all children should be available. Furthermore, this district represents where the lacks of funds and inept administration intersect. Both problems need to be addressed with hard work and utter transparency.

    Waiting for the cameras to go away is not the answer to this district's problems.
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2017
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  24. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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  25. blazer

    blazer Connoisseur

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    I
    I missed that one! Mind you most thinking Brits avoid the Daily Mail or as we call it the Daily Heil!

    Schools sound like hell though.

    What is truly amazing is though that the paper would never report the similar things that happen in UK school unless they could blame the teachers.
     
  26. AlwaysAttend

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    Why does the discipline require public admonishment?
     
  27. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    Why do you care so much about tenure? If they want you out, they will get you out. All they need to do is find one policy you violated and then hold it over you until you resign.
     
  28. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    You’re advocating we handcuff and lockup first graders? That’s a new one. Is the goal to have them attacked to teach them a lesson? Or merely to learn all the tricks of the gangster trade before 2nd grade?
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2017
  29. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Phenom

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    One would think that, but the Head of School personally talked me out of resigning last year and he STILL makes comments in passing of my staying at the school, lol. He said that he would pay me a fair rate and his exact words were, “You can’t leave!!! How much money do you want?” (Apparently, the school gives an annual questionnaire to the students about how we can make improvements to the school and for the last 3+ years about 40% of the responses were that they should hire more teachers like futuremathsprof. Their words made me feel so valued and ingrained in the community. :))

    That is why my school is so unique. If you do a good job the school accommodates in ANYWAY it can emotionally and financially. The admin will fight for you to stay so that is why I’m biased against public schools.
     
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  30. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    I’ve worked in a wealthy public school and I by far preferred the catholic school I worked in. If pay was what you are getting (and if it didn’t close), i never would have left.
     
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  31. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    There are several alternatives to the behavior chart system. Admittedly, I used it as a 2nd grade teacher from 2005-2012; however, I implemented Class Dojo during my final year in the classroom (2012-2013).

    Peruse the internet and read a few articles. You’ll note that many districts are encouraging teachers to move away from behavior charts—especially due to the implementation of PBIS around the country.

    Food for thought: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/education/column-hey-teachers-please-stop-using-behavior-charts-heres
     
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  32. AmyMyNamey

    AmyMyNamey Comrade

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    I believe self-control is something we teach, not something that springs forth unbidden by leaving children to their own devices.

    Neither rewards nor punishments? So no smiling at children? No stern looks, either?

    It has the scent of publish or perish desperation about it.

    The only thing I've learned with any certainty where discipline is concerned is that an excess of emotion is a deadly poison. It's something children are especially keen to exploit.

    I'm betting emotions are a little raw in this Pennsylvania district.
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2017
  33. AlwaysAttend

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    How does public humiliation teach self control? Hoping kids will be too embarrased to repeat behavior?

    What do you mean by excess of emotion? Good teachers I’ve been around usually have the most emotion. In the way of Teach Like a Pirate, you could sell tickets to their classrooms.
     
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  34. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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  35. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Phenom

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    The key is to be consistent. Don’t keep trying new things because the students NEED structure. Stick to a handful of rules and correct students whenever they deviate from the classroom rules and procedures. For example, “Do you see how Johnny raised his hand and waited to speak until he was called on?” This shows students how to correctly model classroom behavior.
     
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  36. AmyMyNamey

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    The experts who say that say it because they aren't bright enough to separate causation from coincidence.
     
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  37. AlwaysAttend

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    So it’s a coincidence that kids feel bad after they are publicly shamed when in reality they feel bad because of the behavior? I’m probably not understanding. Maybe I’m just not bright enough to understand. Lay it out real simple for me.
     
  38. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    ,
     
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  39. TrademarkTer

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    I'm fine with the light system, provided you play Pitbull's "Greenlight" when you switch them onto green.
     
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  40. AmyMyNamey

    AmyMyNamey Comrade

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    Could be. When I was at university, some of the nonsensical tripe being promoted by the expert of the week would both astound and sadden me.

    I found that in some cases, in some fields, there's only so much that can be said with the data on hand. After a certain point, once something has been exhaustively studied, and I do mean exhaustively studied, you find later authors scraping the barrel, as it were, promoting any manner of left-field lunacy. They have to. They have to publish to maintain their professional standing. And this is when you find a great number of theories with little depth and lots of . . . stretching.

    Now take into account the great rush into education with the Vietnam War to find the intellectual waters a bit diluted to start with.

    I have met a number of inept experts in education, a number of Ph.D.'s who aren't quite geniuses, whose research is far from ground-breaking. The information age has also given rise to fly-by-night experts pushing their own home-grown programs, riding the coattails of whatever successes their own district managed to scrape together on a particular year, taking ownership of those successes and branding them for consumption by a desperate consumer.

    All of which is to say that we must need be very careful how much stock we put into the solutions were are offered—especially those that seem a bit too marketable, rather like something from a bumper sticker.

    And acronyms. Beware this week's acronyms....
     
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  41. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Lunacy is equally likely from right field as from left, especially these days. With that said, posting a kid's behavioral status for all to see is a kind of public shaming, and, while public shaming can sometimes lead to what looks like compliance, it's far from the case that all people respond well to being shown up in front of their peers.
     
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