Sunday, July 4, 2010

Follow the Money

This past April, The Capistrano School District was the site of a teacher strike. The strike lasted three days, and as you can guess, cost a lot of money in terms of security and substitute fees.

Interestingly, the district ended up saving more than they spent, resulting in 1.7 million dollars extra from salaries that were docked from striking teachers paychecks.

In addition to the three days of instruction that were essentially lost due to the strike, the schools were also closed for another three days in the school year. These "furlough" days were intended to save money.

Here's the rub: instead of using that $1.7 million to restore the days lost to furlough, as the parents and teacher's union requested, the district opted to put that money toward next year's budget gap.


My favorite part of the article in the Orange County Register about this is the quote from the district representative near the end of the article. He assures everyone that it's not about "disliking anyone" and that it's a "financial reality." One of the things I always deplored about the business world is that people would take these reprehensible actions that hurt other people and then justified it by saying "it's just business." losing six days of instruction is nothing personal. Sorry kids, we just can't afford to educate you properly.

Article here: http://

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Super Sub!

Since school is over, and I'm not working, I have nothing substantial to blog about on a regular basis. I could blog about my new fitness regimen, or the books I'm reading, or what I ate for lunch on a given day, but I'll spare you that nonsense.

What I do have today is one more story that I haven't yet gotten around to posting.

I think I've mentioned that I'm pretty much opposed to being in a classroom populated by children over the age of ten. I don't like the arguments and I don't like the constant observation from them, just waiting for me to do something they can comment on. I especially don't like the attitude that they don't have to do any work because their regular teacher is out.

But, a girl has to make money to pay for her chocolate habit, so I will occasionally take a fifth grade class if necessary, and I did so near the end of the year.

When I walked into the room, the teacher was there to warn me that his class was the worst in the school.


He told me it should be an easy day, because after recess they had music, followed by PE, followed by lunch and an awards assembly in the afternoon. Throughout the rest of the day they would be doing benchmark testing. He would be working on campus, but would check in a few times throughout the day. come in..."Yay! a sub!" and then complain to High-Heaven when I told them they'd be testing. They'd just finished the Big Scary Test a few weeks before. I told them this is what they'd be doing, reminded them that ALL test taking rules would be in effect and got them started.

Overall, I moved probably five kids out of their table groups for chatting. Of course, when I made them turn their desks to the wall, there were protests of "It wasn't me!"

The random chatting just went on, and I decided to put the full weight of peer pressure on the class. I told them that every time I had to ask for silence, a hash mark was going on the board. Each mark equalled one minute of their recess they'd be spending inside with me. Within an hour, they had seven marks up on the board. When the bell rang for recess, I made them put their heads down. That's when their teacher walked in. His comment was, "Missing recess again? This happens when I'm in the room also."

After they'd returned from their hour and a half of recess, special classes and lunch, it was back to the tests. They were a little more focused than before, but one student in particular was talking to his neighbors. Every time I looked his way, he was talking. Finally, I walked over to him and told him to stand up. I handed him his chair, picked up his desk and carried it outside the classroom. He wanted to know why he was being moved outside. I told him that every time I looked at him, he'd been in conversation with the kid next to him. Naturally, I got the response, "It wasn't me talking!" So, I told him that the test was important and I wanted him to be able to concentrate, since clearly he couldn't do it in the classroom with so many distractions.

He finished the test in ten minutes.

Score one for the separation technique.