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The Illinois State Board of Education isn’t going to publish the full results of a previous survey of schools. The survey was meant to gather candid information about the inner workings of public schools and spur improvements. The Board’s decision to withhold some of the information came after months of criticism from administrators.
Wow, the State Board must be populated by a bunch of wimps. Either that, or the Board is made up of former administrators that usually do the bidding of the majority of current administrators.
I can’t imagine the State Board being intimidated by complaining teachers. When has the Board ever reneged on one of their pet projects just because some teachers complained? Maybe it has happened, but I can’t remember an example of that occurring.
People who want public schools to be more like the business world should be very happy with the Board”s actions. Here is an educational body acting like a corporation, or the old Soviet Union, depends on how you look at it. Corporations rarely approve of damaging information being released to the public. The company must be presented in a good light whenever possible. The State School Board and school administrators apparently saw a potential public relations nightmare if all the information was released. They did what any good business would do, release the least damaging information and conceal the remainder.
Apparently, the Chicago Tribune and their millionaire buddies are upset by the Board’s actions. I don’t see why they should be, they have wanted the world of education to be just like the business world. Well, here’s a perfect example of “educators” doing just that. The Tribune and all the wealthy hedge fund managers who pretend to be experts on education should be very happy. What’s the problem ? We’re finally acting like the business world.
I am no longer a voice in the wilderness when it comes to urging teachers to teach students to maintain attention. I’ve found a partner. Barry Schwartz is a professor of psychology at Swarthmore College and has written an opinion piece about the ever-increasing attention deficits among our young people. Here is an excerpt from the professor’s article.
“The key point for teachers and principals and parents to realize is that maintaining attention is a skill. It has to be trained, and it has to be practiced. If we cater to short attention spans by offering materials that can be manged with short attention spans, the skill will not develop. The “attention muscle” will not be exercised and strengthened. It is as if you complain to a personal trainer about your weak biceps, and the trainer tells you not to lift heavy things.
Just as we don’t expect people to develop their biceps by lifting 2 pound weights, we can’t expect them to develop their attention by reading 140 character tweets, 200 word blog posts or 300 word newspaper articles.
In other words, the “short attention” phenomenon is something of a self-fulfilling prophesy. First, we tell ourselves that people can’t maintain attention. Second, we do nothing to nurture their ability to maintain attention. And, sure enough, we “discover” that people can’t maintain attention.”
Thank you, thank you, professor Schwartz, you are the only one to agree with me in the entire world of education!
I was making this argument 30 years ago when the concept of “teaching to a student’s strength” became all the rage in elementary schools. I would hear the following, “Jose is mostly a “visual learner”, so we must design our methods to meet Jose’s learning style. My response was usually, “that’s nice that he’s a visual learner, so now what can we do to make him an effective learner with other learning styles too?” Every single teacher and administrator looked at me like I was crazy to suggest such a concept. At the time universities were still instructing primarily with professor lectures as the most common form of instruction. I tried to argue that if we only catered to a student’s visual learning style, what would happen when and if they ever got to a university ? Do you think university professors are going to change their style of teaching to accommodate Jose?”
Imagine if parents and teachers today actually taught students to maintain attention. That will never happen. Everything today is designed to keep children and students happy and to make everything as easy as possible for them. (See my previous posts on what I call the modern “Happy Happy Schools”). Long ago we lost the will to do what’s necessary to develop the ability of our children to maintain attention. Even most adults today have the attention spans of a two-year old.
I would finish this post, but my cell phone is ringing, the television is too loud, I’m trying to check playoff baseball scores on the other computer and I’m bored already with this whole idea of attention span.
I expect to see the above headline any day now. Illinois governor Pat Quinn’s obsession with forcing pension reform on public workers has taken another bizarre turn. He is now demanding that the Legislature pass pension reform before he would consider tax incentives for companies to keep their business in Illinois. He previously has refused to pay legislators and also refused to consider gambling expansion unless “pension reform” is enacted. In short, the governor is refusing to do the State’s business until he gets his way on pension reform.
It’s time for teachers in Illinois to take a page from the Governor’s book and refuse to teach until the Legislature restores all the pension money that they stole over several decades. Teachers should set a deadline for walking off the job unless the Legislature does the following:
1. Make the temporary income tax increase permanent and all the extra revenue from it goes to restoring the pension money.
2. Establish several additional casinos and all the additional money from that goes towards the pension deficit.
3. All the state’s share of the new video gaming money goes to the pension fund.
4. Increase all state fees by one dollar and that additional revenue goes towards the deficit.
5. Sell many of the State owned lands and put that additional money towards the pension fund.
6. Reduce the legislator’s pay by a certain amount and put that money into the pension.
There are hundreds of ways to raise money to reduce the pension deficit. NOT ONE PENSION REFORM PROPOSAL SO FAR HAS INCLUDED ANY ADDITIONAL REVENUE. Why ? Why are teachers and public employees the ones who will have to make up the pension deficit ? It’s our money that was stolen by the State, and now we have to repay that money ? No one else has to share in the burden ?
Teachers, follow your governor’s example, if you won’t consider a walkout, could you at least hold your breath until some additional revenue is raised to ease the pension deficit ?
Finally ! Finally something has moved Dr. Gary Elmen, president of the Illinois Retired Teachers Association to get fired up. He actually wrote an effective opinion piece and sent it to the Chicago Tribune.
In the article he explains why the delegates to the 1970 Constitutional Convention in Illinois inserted a clause into the Constitution stating that public employee pension benefits could not be impaired or diminished by the legislature.
He are some excerpts from Elmen’s article.
“Simply stated, the Constitutional Convention delegates understood that previous General Assemblies were incapable of spending within their means. As a result, the legislature serially diverted revenue earmarked for worker benefits and spent it on pet programs.”
“Because the state’s constitution regards public pensions as an enforceable contract whose benefits may not be impaired or diminished, the sanctity of all publicly executed contracts are at stake.”
“If our word as a state government is no good, then the constitution becomes a document of nothing more than unenforceable and empty promises. IRTA stands ready to go to court to protect retiree’s benefits. I hope we are not the only statewide organization that will do so.”
That’s the style, Mr. Elmen. Welcome to the battle most of us have been waging for years. Better late than never.
The Illinois Teachers’ Retirement Insurance Program is now conducting an audit to see if the dependents of retired teachers are really eligible to be in the insurance program. Actually, the Illinois Department of Central Management are the people who administer the Teachers’ Retirement Insurance Program. The CMS are the people who HIRED SOMEONE ELSE TO CONDUCT THE AUDIT. They hired HMS Employer Solutions, (an independent third-party audit company) to conduct the audit.
Apparently, since its inception, the Illinois Teachers’ Retirement Insurance Program had no idea if dependents were REAL DEPENDENTS ! How perfect, how typical of the nonsense that goes on with people who are supposed to be helping retired teachers. Why would they begin this auditing process now ? That would be my first question.
The TRIP management sent a “Dependent Verification Audit Frequently Asked Questions” sheet along with the instructions of how those of us in the insurance program need to go about verifying that our dependents really are our dependents. The first question they attempt to answer is the first question I would have thought of. The question is : Why is the Illinois Department of Central Management Services conducting a Dependent Eligibility Verification Audit? Their answer was, ” The State health plans, including the Teachers’ Retirement Insurance Program, by law, can only cover members and their eligible dependents. This dependent eligibility verification audit is necessary to ensure that the health plans are compliant with these laws.”
That doesn’t answer the REAL question. WHY NOW ? Why wasn’t this done at the inception of the Teachers’ Insurance Program, and done on a regular basis with everyone who ever applied for the insurance ? I don’t remember ever having given proof to TRIP that my wife really is my wife and eligible to be a dependent. Who knows how many dependents might now be found to be ineligible ? That would have incredible consequences for anyone that wrongly claimed a dependent. What a legal nightmare that will be. All this could have been avoided if the Teachers’ Insurance people would have done what any other insurance company would normally do, verify eligibility at the beginning of membership!
To complicate matters, the company conducting the audit is demanding a “Federal Tax Return Transcript” be sent to them as one of the verification documents. Insured people have until October 25th to submit the Tax Transcript as well as other documents that are required. Guess who a Federal Tax Return Transcript must be obtained from ? Yes, the IRS. Have you ever tried getting anything from the IRS lately ? There must be dozens of easy documents I possess to prove that my wife really is my wife, but no, I now have to deal with the IRS. To make matters worse, when the government shuts down tomorrow over the budget battle, the IRS will be CLOSED. Good luck retirees, good luck getting that form in by the 25th.
Isn’t it great to be a retired teacher in Illinois ? Not only did the State steal our pension money over the years, now they are going to make us be the ones who will pay for their stealing. This insurance verification nonsense is just one more irritation in a long line of incompetence. What next ? I suppose next we will find the pension investment people have invested our money in CD’s with an interest rate of less than one-percent instead of in the record-breaking stock market.
I wonder how many millions of dollars are being payed to the auditing company ? I can’t believe the Teachers’ Insurance Program can’t handle this by themselves. On second thought, yes I can.
When you’re a retired Illinois teacher, the hits just keep on coming.
The public pension crisis in Illinois is due to the fact that the legislature stole the pension money over a long period of time and never repayed it. Everyone knows this. Everyone except for the Chicago Tribune. The Tribune’s front page headline today was, “Pension crisis rooted in 1970 debate”.
The Constitutional Convention in 1970 agreed to a provision that public pensions could not be “diminished or impaired”. Now, when the legislature wants to reduce pension benefits, they are having a hard time coming up with a plan to stick it to pensioners. They fear anything that reduces people’s pensions will be found unconstitutional. The Chicago Tribune would love to see the pension crisis be solved by reducing benefits. According to the Tribune, the Constitutional guarantee is the “root of the crisis”.
No, Chicago Tribune, you know what the real “root” of the problem was. Where were you, Chicago Tribune ? Where were you when the legislature was stealing the pension money over all those years? Did you have daily editorials imploring the legislature not to “borrow” the public pension money ? Did you run stories warning about the impending crisis when it was in its infancy ?
When someone uses the phrase, “root of the problem”, they usually refer to the causes of a problem, not the ways a problem might be fixed. Chicago Tribune, you have been incredibly biased when it comes to this pension crisis, and now you are just incredibly ignorant. “Root of the problem”, indeed!
Illinois governor Pat Quinn is withholding paychecks from Illinois legislators until they come up with some pension legislation. The legislators filed a lawsuit in order to receive their paychecks. The lawsuit is being decided by Cook County Associate Judge Neil Cohen. Yesterday, the judge said that he would need until Sept. 26th to decide the case.
Why would this judge need more than five seconds to decide this case ? As much as I would like to see some Illinois legislators go without pay FOREVER, the pay withholding by the governor is clearly unconstitutional. Can you imagine if a governor could withhold legislators’ pay every time he didn’t like what the legislature was doing or not doing ?
A judge needs more than five seconds to decide this case ? UNBELIEVABLE! Has this judge ever heard of Constitutional “checks and balances” ?
I have an idea if by some miracle the governor’s ploy is found constitutional. How about the Illinois Teachers’ Retirement System demanding that the governor withhold legislators’ pay until they restore every penny that they stole from the Teachers’ Retirement system ? Now that’s an idea worth promoting.
The French Senate voted to ban all child beauty pageants for anyone under the age of 16. Finally, someone sees these pageants in the same light as me. I have been a voice in the wilderness for years when it comes to these obnoxious events. I could never understand how people could promote little girls dressing up like grown women, and acting and posing like grown women. I never thought it was cute, if anything it was a disturbing exploitation of these girls. Let little girls play “dress up” at home, that’s fine and normal. Little girls on a stage in provocative clothing and posing in provocative ways is horrible.
It’s sure ironic that the French of all people would be in the lead on this issue, but good for them. Let’s hope other countries join in on this movement to ban child beauty pageants.
Oh, great ! Now comes a movie about a young female teacher who’s having an affair with one of her high school students. It’s entitled, “A Teacher”. Just what we didn’t need.
I wonder who put up the money to finance this movie ? Anyone who cares about the already damaged reputation of teachers in this country would shy away from such a project. Maybe I can find out who backed this movie. If I dig deep enough, maybe I’ll find that the movie was financed by the members of the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board. It wouldn’t surprise me.
I read a review of the movie and the critic only gave the movie one and a half stars. I hope the movie loses money. Whoever made this piece of junk deserves zero stars when it comes to common sense.
Wow! Warning after warning about the upcoming release of student test scores here in Illinois. Every school district, administrator, board member, news outlet, and even school janitors are giving dozens of warnings about how horrible test scores will be when they are released in October. Every school official is making sure that parents understand the lower scores will be because of higher standards and the more difficult tests administered last Spring. Everyone connected with schools is screaming loud and clear, “it’s not our fault, it’s the new standards that are driving scores down.” “Rest assured, the students are still progressing and things will be better soon”.
Of course the beloved Chicago Tribune had to chime in about the upcoming lower test scores. The Tribune was more concerned about the following statistics than the test scores: “State officials report that of every 100 students who enter ninth grade, only 76 graduate high school. Of those, only 42 go to college. Of those, only 20 earn a degree.”
To me, those numbers show that Illinois teachers must be miracle workers. Seventy-six percent graduate from high school ? That’s amazing! Given the amount of students in Illinois who live in poverty and have completely clueless parents, that’s a wonderfully successful statistic. Forty-two percent go to college ? That’s even more amazing! You teachers are miracle workers. Twenty percent earn a degree ? Again, that’s a miracle. Considering the growing poverty and rapidly declining middle class, that’s a wonderful percentage.
Most jobs today are in the service sector. Why would you need college for Wal-Mart and McDonald’s ? Thousands of college graduates are unemployed. Just a fraction of the 20% that graduate from college are needed to run our corporate world and for science and engineering etc. Our manufacturing businesses can’t get qualified workers because we did away with courses that prepare for a career in manufacturing. This idea that everyone must go to college is insane.
According to the U.S. census bureau, in 1960, (when I was a wee little lad), only 40% of students graduated from high school. Only a paltry 10% ever received a college diploma. Oh, and those were the days before we had a “crisis in education.”
We can’t even use the 20% that graduate from college today. Corporations in this country have successfully destroyed the middle class, crushed labor unions, and have had their way with the American worker. There are plenty of kids from upper and middle class society that graduate from college and take the good jobs and come up with the innovation needed to maintain America’s dominance in the world. We need LESS AND LESS students to go to college. We need more students to prepare themselves for their life in the service sector. Forget about math, physics, and higher order thinking skills. We need people who can serve a cup of coffee without spilling it and know how to make a good frappe mocha. Teachers, stop working miracles with these students. Prepare them for the real world. Have them practice going to the teachers’ lounge and bringing you a good cup of coffee. Stop preparing them for college, they’re only going to end up with mountains of debt and no job opportunities.