Another Bad Week For Teachers and Principals

Wardynski

When your goal is to replace as many qualified teachers as possible, even leaving them with the last week of school to celebrate and say goodbye to their kids is just too rich an opportunity to pass up. After all, if you can get one final kick in as someone is walking out the door, perhaps they’ll keep on going.

And so on Wednesday of last week, tenured teachers were called into principal’s offices all over the district to be informed that they were being transferred to other schools in the district. They were often given their orders in the morning, sometimes with their kids sitting in the hallway waiting for their teacher to return, and told to sign them in the afternoon.

If they didn’t sign them, they often received a visit from Mr. Al Lankford the following day requesting that they sign a document that they had received their orders. They didn’t have to agree with the orders, Mr. Lankford wasn’t forcing them to agree to the move, but they did have to sign a document stating that they had received the orders.

Having Mr. Lankford deliver the paperwork was, evidently, standard operating procedure.

Despite the implication offered at the called board meeting at 8:00am on Monday, not all of these teachers have agreed with these transfers. Many excellent teachers, including one dear to my son’s heart, have decided enough is enough. They are looking for and accepting positions with the surrounding school districts right now.

Our superintendent is doing an excellent job of driving off good, dedicated, devoted, and successful teachers to neighboring systems.

As a friend of mine said the other day, perhaps we should call this “Wardynski-flight.”

The only problem with that name is that I believe Dr. Wardynski would take it as a compliment. Trust me sir, breaking my boy’s heart over the loss of the single, stable figure in his educational life is not a compliment.

But that wasn’t the end of the fun times for teachers in the district.

On Monday, the board met at 8:00am to fire 122 non-tenured teachers.

(Interestingly, during the meeting when 122 people were fired, they had, from what I could see on the video, exactly two district security officers present in the room. I guess they didn’t expect a disturbance from a sufficiently demoralized group like our teachers. No need for HPD to have five or six armed officers on hand for that.)

One-hundred and twenty-two.

Last year during the RIF, the board fired only 154 teachers, but since there were very few details offered about these terminations, it’s hard for us to know much about them. We’re simply supposed to trust that the evaluation process that the superintendent developed was fair.

Dr. Robinson went out of her way to stress that many of “these folks can potentially be rehired” because this is simply what we used to call “non-renewal.” She and the rest of the board went on to complain about how mean the word “termination” is and that they wished the state would change it.

Funny. Non-renewal seems fairly mean to those facing it. I’d bet that the board and Dr. Wardynski would find non-renewal fairly frustrating if they were facing it every nine months.

But no. Board members are elected for four year terms. Dr. Wardynski’s contract is for three.

But there’s no reason to get excited, upset, or (god-forbid) angry over something as simple as “non-renewal.”

One-hundred and twenty-two.

Here’s a silly question: if the superintendent and the board are so sure that these “non-renewals” are going to be rehired, why not find a way to just go ahead and renew them?

Impossible you say? No so, say I. Just take a look at the contract that we’ve signed with Teach for America. Anyone want to make a bet that the 40 TFAers hired this summer will not have to worry about having a job in the 2013-2014 school year?

Could it be that the board wants to distance themselves from the impact of their actions? After all, no one who thinks it that they will be re-hired is likely to raise much of a fuss right now. And if they aren’t rehired come fall, well, that’s just old-news at that point isn’t it?

One-hundred and twenty-two.

I’ve heard from many schools in the district and from other sources that that 122 number comes remarkably close to representing all of the non-tenured teachers in Huntsville City.

So not one of the teachers we’ve hired in the last nine months was worth keeping?

One-hundred and twenty-two.

Additionally, as Dr. Wardynski said he would, nearly every principal in the district has now been moved to a new school.

We are again just supposed to accept that these transfers are being done for good, solid, justifiable reasons. We’re supposed to believe that being moved from a high school principal’s position to the principal of a ninth grade academy is a promotion. We’re supposed to accept that moving a principal from one of the finest middle schools in the city to one of the weakest is a celebration of a job well done.

We’re supposed to accept that Dr. Wardynski promising Mr. King a principal’s position back in a September 15th board meeting, represented the culmination of a search for the most qualified principals available. (That’s right. Since the middle of September, Dr. Wardynski has been talking publicly about King “transitioning” to a principal during the summer. It must be nice to have the promise of a job waiting out there for you.)

It seems that what is guiding Dr. Wardynski’s decisions here has more to do with rewarding his friends than what is best for the students in the district.

That and doing his best to drive off good, talented individuals who have dedicated their lives, rather than just two years, to meeting the needs of all of our children.

And the board continues to support him and shrug at those who do not.

This was perhaps best captured by Dr. Robinson’s defending this constant shuffling of teachers and principals:

Robinson: “I know that schools get real attached to their school leaders. But this is a corporate model. And it’s what corporations use to develop leadership strengths.”

Wardynski: “Right.”

Robinson: [Shrugging as if that resolves the matter once and for all, says before the board moves on] “That’s what we’re going to do.”

While I realize that our country seems confused at the moment about the differences between a corporation and a person, perhaps it would be helpful to Dr. Robinson and Dr. Wardynski if they could remember this one simple truth:

Education’s goal isn’t to increase profits for shareholders. Education’s goal is to encourage children to continue to ask questions about the world in which we live. While that may result in profit, it may also, just as easily, result in a loss of profit from an ethical decision to put people, to put children, first.

I know it’s difficult for someone making $175,000 a year with a $10,000 bonus out in front of him for simply doing his job (or someone who spent $60,000 to win a seat on the board) to remember this, but believe it or not, there is more to life than just the bottom line.

Treating people with dignity, honor and respect are just three of those things that matter more.

Watching the dawning of understanding come into a child’s eyes is another.

On Friday, May 25, 2012 at 11:30am, the board will meet again to, I suspect, continue to distance themselves from the thousands of lives that they are disrupting. The changes aren’t anywhere near over yet.

 
Russell
"Children see magic because they look for it." --Christopher Moore, Lamb: The Gospel according to Biff, Jesus' childhood pal.

63 Comments

  1. Im just curious. I’ve heard the rumors. But at the time of his appointment, did Mr. King have the correct certification to be a principal?

  2. He does not have an certification in Administration. He is not qualified and therefore the best qualified person was not hired to be principal. So imagine who will have to do all the real work. I hope an emergency doesn’t come up.

  3. I read in today’s paper (Thursday) that Dr. W sent a THREE page letter to The Times to explain his very good reasons for moving the principals around. Meanwhile, as we wrap up the year, I’m checking to make sure which teachers/staffers are returning next year. If they aren’t, I’d like to get a picture of MLB with them; they’ve all helped him grow. Amazingly, no one is saying much of anything nor smiling. It’s as if “Big Brother” is watching. Not a good corporate culture.

    1. Yes, big brother is watching. Teachers have been told that they shouldn’t have even pictures of family on their computer desktops.

  4. It just gets better and better. They obviously don’t see the the teachers and students as people. I hate that he referred to the students as “feeders.” It’s like the board and Dr. W are playing a chess game or something, not caring that there are real consequences for every move. Russell, please keep reporting. I know you must feel that sometimes you are doing this in vain, but you’re not. You are giving many of us knowledge that we didn’t have, and you are leaving a paper trail of this disaster-in-the-making that we can’t get from our local news sources.

  5. Many people think blogs are the same as reporting the news, but you should know that, by definition, they are not. Blogs can contain facts and correct information, but they also can contain opinion, incorrect information and sometimes falsehoods. “News” should be backed up by in-house editors, fact-checking, and by at least three sources in the case of something as critical as the good name of anyone connected with the information being given. Of course, news can also relay incorrect info and even falsehoods. But what I’m saying is that I have no idea whether Russell is a professional reporter or not, or whether Wardynski is a good superintendent or a nice person. I’m just responding to a reply that asked Russell to continue his “reporting.” My interest is in trying to clear up the public’s confusion over what is reporting and what isn’t. Russell is clearly providing commentary and opinion in his writings, which is his right to do. It’s free speech for sure. But he’s also providing his view of proceedings, firings, and other happenings surrounding this story, which is also his right to do. Just know that it’s HIS opinion. That is not the job legitimate newspapers and broadcast news outlets intend to do. They try their hardest NOT to let their views and opinions come out in the stories they report. Russell tries his hardest to supply information, but leaves no doubt as to what his conclusion is. The public has a right to each, but it’s the public’s job to come up with its own conclusions.

    1. Heather,

      Thank you for your comment, and for reading. (Oh, and for using your name!)

      You’re right that I am not “reporting” (even though the definition of that word and profession is in constant flux).

      When I talk about what I am doing on the blog, I call it argumentative/research. (This is much like an essay that I require my students to write at the end of ENG101. I’m a teacher, not a reporter.) I attempt to follow this pattern: I present a claim, and I support my claim with specific detailed evidence. Then I show the connections between the evidence and my claim.

      This isn’t reporting in my mind either.

      I don’t think that Rhonda was attempting to claim that I wasn’t expressing an opinion; I think she was simply trying to say thanks.

      However, I have never posted anything that I didn’t believe that I had sufficient evidence to support.

      Thanks again for reading.

      Russell

      1. Agreed. Everyone has bias. The best we can do is to try and identify our bias, and be honest with our readers about what they are.

        Sometimes, despite out best efforts, even identifying out bias can be difficult. This is why it’s important for us to be open to questions from others.

    2. Heather A Burns Mitchell said:
      Russell tries his hardest to supply information, but leaves no doubt as to what his conclusion is. The public has a right to each, but it’s the public’s job to come up with its own conclusions.

      Russell isn’t the supplier of information, he presents information supplied “professional reporter(s)” and the HCS Board, draws HIS conclusion and shares it with readers of this blog.

      You said:
      “Many people think blogs are the same as reporting the news, but you should know that, by definition, they are not. Blogs can contain facts and correct information, but they also can contain opinion, incorrect information and sometimes falsehoods.”

      This blog and Russel have a reputation for being factual and fair, if it didn’t people wouldn’t be reading, and you wouldn’t be trying to discredit this blog and Russell.

      Keep “reporting” Russell, and thank you for being the media we wish we had instead of the “legitimate” media we have. A media that tells us what they want us to know, instead of what we need to know in order to make informed decisions and draw informed conclusions.

      1. Should read; Russell isn’t the supplier of information, he presents information supplied by the “professional reporter(s)” and the HCS Board, draws HIS conclusion and shares it with readers of this blog.

      2. Thanks Redeye. I don’t think Heather was trying to discredit me. Being called a blogger is completely fine by me. I think it’s a badge of honor considering the bloggers I know!

        Also, it’s completely true that I need other professional reporters to do their job so that I’m aware of what’s going on. The district ignores me whenever possible. They have a harder time doing that to the Times and others. This is why I subscribe to the Times and encourage others to do the same.

        Crystal Bonvillian is a good reporter and writer.

        1. Russell, you just said what I’ve had such a hard time saying! Thank you! I enjoy your blog very much! I wish The Times and the broadcast reporters would do more reporting on the superintendent and the school board. The TV stations probably think we would be bored. Incorrect thinking, given how hot these issues are, huh?

      3. Redeye, I’m not trying to discredit Russell. No judgment is meant by what I’ve said. I love what he does, and I agree that he does a good job of it. All I’m saying is what he does is called blogging, not reporting. That’s not a judgment. That’s a statement of fact. If you’re a conservative, watch Fox…if you’re a liberal, watch MSNBC. If you want to be supported in your distrust of Wardynski and the board, read Russell. If you want to hear unclouded info about them, watch or read a group that follows procedure, to the best of its ability, to provide facts, with as little bias as possible, within the contraints of reporting. You’re more likely to always get both sides of the story. If you want one side of the story, read a blog, watch Fox or watch MSNBC.

        By the way, Wardynski and the board are shooting themselves in the foot by not recording meetings or showing them live. That leaves out the reporters who would present both sides of the story with very little bias. By shutting out reporters and the public, what they’re going to get is very little of their side of the story told. You’d think they would be smart enough to know that, but alas, power can get in the way of the facts.

        Keep up the good work you do on your blog, Russell! You provide lots of information that we want. I just don’t know whether you’re telling the administration’s side of the story without bias. And yet, I know the rules allow you not to, because you’re a blogger, not a reporter who is asked to work by different rules. Write on!

        1. You said:
          “If you’re a conservative, watch Fox…if you’re a liberal, watch MSNBC.”

          Any media who dares report the truth is called liberal like that’s a bad thing.

          You said:
          “Many people think blogs are the same as reporting the news, but you should know that, by definition, they are not. Blogs can contain facts and correct information, but they also can contain opinion, incorrect information and sometimes falsehoods. “News” should be backed up by in-house editors, fact-checking, and by at least three sources in the case of something as critical as the good name of anyone connected with the information being given. Of course, news can also relay incorrect info and even falsehoods. But what I’m saying is that I have no idea whether Russell is a professional reporter or not, or whether Wardynski is a good superintendent or a nice person. I’m just responding to a reply that asked Russell to continue his “reporting.” My interest is in trying to clear up the public’s confusion over what is reporting and what isn’t.”

          I find your attempt to educate readers on the difference between a blog/blogging and reporting an attempt to discredit what is being presented here. We are informed and intelligent enough to know the difference.

        2. Thanks Heather. Don’t worry, I will.

          One point of clarification though: I’m in no way trying to speak for the administration of the district. Dr. Wardynski has at least two PR people, a director of transition, a deputy superintendent, a CSFO, several directors, and usually 5 cheerleaders sitting on the board who are all typically sharing talking point under his direction.

          They have a TV station, a website, and ready access to the media to put forth their ideology.

          In other words, there are more than enough people speaking for the administration.

          They don’t need me or want me talking up their ideas.

          I’m attempting to speak for the voiceless like my son (who doesn’t speak) and my daughter (who certainly isn’t voiceless, but too young to be taken seriously.

          I’m attempting to speak for teachers, aides, therapists and sometimes principals who are regularly threatened and intimidated when they speak up or ask questions.

          So without seeming TOO full of myself, I’m trying to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. The superintendent doesn’t need me to speak for him.

  6. It is highly simplistic to assert that “news” in a corporate-owned, advertising-dependent journal is free of bias. Simply deciding what is news-worthy incorporates a biased outlook that includes conditions bloggers aren’t worried about, for example: how are my advertisers going to like this?, will this sell papers?, how will my owners react?, what is the attention-span and level of education of my audience?, and so on.

    Russ has no hidden agenda (an agenda, yes, but not a hidden one): this differentiates his reporting from the corporate media’s. There are rants, and there are educated opinions: Russ’s posts belong to the second category.

      1. Heather,

        So long as you’re taking the time to read what I write, I don’t care what label you give my writing.

        Thanks,
        Russell

    1. “Russ has no hidden agenda (an agenda, yes, but not a hidden one): this differentiates his reporting from the corporate media’s. There are rants, and there are educated opinions: Russ’s posts belong to the second category.”

      Well said Laurie!

  7. Fail. We go through this dance every single year. Why make the low gals on the totem pole (the teachers, the ones doing the real work) receive the beating?

    Our state is broke, but…

    We keep building shiny, shiny, pretty, pretty Taj Mahals to Mediocrity. But fancy buildings we can’t afford don’t teach kids.

    We force subsidized netbooks on families (for which school systems paid double retail value), and the teachers have no curricula to accompany them. Video game machines don’t teach kids.

    How ’bout switching the tune to some yearly news stories to ruin some mid-level bean counters’ summers? Because overpaid chair warmers don’t teach kids.

    AEA? Sorry, I thought unions were supposed to look out for the little gals, not queue them up for yearly beatings? We don’t need you. AEA doesn’t care about teaching kids.

    Draconian school calendar restrictions from on high? Don’t get me started. Less regulations, not more, you jerks. Get out of the way, you’re part of the problem. State level legislators don’t teach kids.

    “But this is a corporate model?” Arbitrarily shifting around teachers, and indiscriminantly firing young talent is a corporate model? You people wouldn’t know a corporate model if it smacked you in the nugget. School board ignorance doesn’t teach kids.

    Fact is, we voters need to wake up to the fact that NONE of these people care a lick about teaching kids.

    1. Dave, I agree with everything you said except this:
      “AEA? Sorry, I thought unions were supposed to look out for the little gals, not queue them up for yearly beatings? We don’t need you. AEA doesn’t care about teaching kids.”

      The Alabama Education Association is not a union, it’s a professional organization comprised of certified, committed men and women devoted to educating students regardless of race, gender, or income. They aren’t the ones who get queued up for yearly beatings. They don’t make the budgets which fund (or not) public schools. They don’t hire and fire Superintendents, who hire and fire the Principals. They don’t grant tenure. Yet they are blamed for the lack of adequate funding and the poverty but and expected to work miracles. Thank goodness most of them manage to educate, not to be confused with teach, students everyday in spite of yearly beatings.

      If you can read this, thank a public school teacher. 🙂

      1. Redeye – can you teach in the Alabama Public School system without paying your AEA dues? Say I want to teach, but don’t agree with their principles, do I have that option?

        1. Dave,

          Sorry to jump in for Redeye, but to answer your question, absolutely. You may teach at any school in the state without being a member of the Alabama Education Association, including in the two-year college system as I do.

          AEA provides many benefits to teachers, the primary one being legal representation should a teacher find him or herself in need of it. I view it basically as legal insurance. You can likely get some legal coverage for less than the annual dues, but I doubt it would be as useful for school related/job related incidents as having access to AEA lawyers.

          Full-disclosure: I am a member of NEA, AEA and my local education association (I do not work for Huntsville City Schools, just in case someone thought I did.) primarily for this very reason.

          If AEA were an actual union, I would hope that they would be doing more to stand up to some of the decisions being made at the district level than they are currently doing.

          1. Of the “many benifits” you say AEA provides, you listed only legal representation, so I’ll talk to that one. Why should AEA be one of the most powerful lobbies in the state if its main function is to provide legal representation to teachers? Does that legal representation work for teachers, or does it “work for teachers” (wink, wink). To give a corporate comparison, is it like HR departments, which are there “for the employee” (translation “CYA for the company”?) Why should teachers need to be any more worried about legal representation than any other citizen (I’m not a teacher, and I don’t have “legal insurance”)? Is it because we’re sue happy with the state & Feds providing plenty of red meat (i.e. garbage regulations) for which teachers may be sued and with which lawyers can make bank?

            Get the regs out of the way. Get the AEA out of the way. Get the state out of the way. Push absolutely EVERY decision except those that flat out CAN’T be handled at the principal/school president level down to that level. Get everyone else the heck out of the way. None of ’em do our kids a darn bit of good.

            1. Dave,

              I think you and I may always be on opposite ends on this issue, but I’m cool with that. I appreciate hearing other’s views.

              But I think you’re starting from a faulty premise when you say that AEA is one of the most powerful lobbies in the state. That may have been true-ish 4 years ago, but it isn’t true today. Teachers haven’t gotten a cost of living raise in four years. I have little reason to believe that will change anytime over the next 3-4 years. If AEA were powerful, that wouldn’t be the case.

              If AEA were powerful, Wardynski, with his 11 months of educational experience wouldn’t be the superintendent.

              Teachers work with people’s children. Like doctors, they are often sued by people. In addition, teachers are often wrongfully dismissed. AEA helps to protect against that.

              Now, I’m sure you’ll say that you don’t have any protections against a wrongful dismissal, so why should teachers.

              Again, if you were to make that argument (as you seem to be making when you make the comment that you don’t have legal insurance) that you have no protections against wrongful dismissal, I would agree with you, and ask you why don’t you fight for some? That’s all that Teachers have done by working together. You should do the same in your field.

              I agree with pushing control of our schools to the school level. This would allow parents to play a much greater role in their children’s education, which is one of the main things I’m fighting for.

              But regulations aren’t always bad. Regulations make it possible for my son to receive an education and to have the possibility of a normal life someday.

              AEA isn’t always bad either. Yes, part of the reason that they aren’t as powerful today as they were in the past is because they’ve defined teachers they shouldn’t have defended. But that’s a hard call to make before things go to trial.

              And usually, even before the students first changes to tenure, the reason it was hard to fire a bad teacher wasn’t because AEA was a powerful lobby, it was because that bad teacher had a supervisor who was even worse.

              If a supervisor does his or her job, even tenure cannot protect a bad teacher.

              Again, although we’re not likely to agree, I do appreciate the discussion. Hope you feel the same.

        2. Thanks for answering the question Russell.

          Dave, if you are a teacher and don’t agree with your principles you are going to want to be a member of the Alabama Education Association because if not the principle can fire you because you don’t agree with him. 🙂

          1. Russell,

            I also appreciate the discussion, absolutely.

            AEA not as powerful as 4 years ago. Point taken. And that is a welcome change, in my book. Their power didn’t produce results in the only end product that matters (education results), so get the heck out of the way. That’s what Alabamians asked for loud and clear, and I think they were right in demanding it.

            Wardynski not the solution, either? We’re in violent agreement there. Common thread? Gov’t solutions aren’t working. Less power to gov’t is the sol’n.

            If AEA protects against wrongful dismissals, wouldn’t you agree that they’ve been doing a dismal job on that front? Surely ARBITRARY dismissals are “wrongful” (and I don’t mean in the legal sense, I mean in common sense).

            No, I’m not complaining at all that I don’t have “protections against a wrongful dismissal.” My personal protection against wrongful dismissal is a competitive market. I go to work every day, I do my job to the absolute best of my ability, and I work very hard to ensure that the market will always have need for my skills should I be dismissed for any reason. If I were dismissed, I’m moving on to another opportunity, thinking of ways to improve myself – I’m not looking backward for someone to sue.

            I should “fight for some [protections]” in my field? I don’t have time for that (nor do I wish for the productivity drain such time would require). I’ve got a job to do.

            Look, some regulations needed, no argument. But the morass of regs we’re buried in now is completely laughable. Common sense test fail. Those regs are why you must worry about being sued. Those regs are written by lawyers who take a second career as legislators to pad their buddies’ (and their own) pockets. You don’t “protect” yourself by fighting for an AEA, you would protect yourself much better by fighting to cut way back on draconian regs which would disincentivize sue-happy parents to seek a quick buck (or whatever they’re after) in frivolous lawsuits. Regs written by lawyers, lawyers make bank on regs, teachers get the shaft. That’s a dumb game.

            Not likely to agree – we’re human. It would be boring otherwise. 😉

            ~ Dave

            1. Boring indeed. Boring indeed. Also dangerous. This monolithic approach to ideas is one of the biggest issues I have with Wardynski’s “leadership” style.

              One quick response, hopefully I’ll get to the others later: The idea that you’re espousing is known as ethical egoism. A quick summary of that idea is everyone should only look out for themselves. It fits in nicely with Darwinism (strong survive) and Adam Smith’s economic theories that the best results come from everyone looking out for their own best interests.

              I have no problem with people holding to that idea, but it isn’t for me. And frankly, I don’t believe it results in the best results.

              I tend to hold a reciprocal altruistic position myself. This idea, in summary, is that the best results come when I look out for my own best interests and the best interests of the group.

              You see, I don’t support a “nanny state” as those on the right like to claim; however, I’m enough of a realist to see that at some point, everyone needs someone looking out for them.

              No matter how hard you work at your job to ensure that the market will always have need for your skills, there will come a time when you can’t do that. Hopefully that will come at the end of a long and fulfilling career once you’ve had time to store enough away to carry you though to the end of you life.

              But what if instead, and I hope this is not the case, you wake up tomorrow with an illness or disability that limits your ability to work so hard to ensure your usefulness?

              Or what if you’re like my son? The market doesn’t recognize his worth. He’s not able to easily communicate his worth.

              What then?

              I prefer to live in and create a world where we look out for each other. Government (which is people looking out for people) is one way of doing that. There are others. This is what “promoting the general welfare” is all about, in my opinion. And it’s the world that I’m working to build, to sustain, and to pass on to my kids. That’s not a “nanny state.” That’s a world worth living in.

  8. I don’t understand how Dr. Robinson can sit there and say that some of these teachers could potentially be rehired. If these teachers failed the evaluation process then how is this likely?

    1. Not all of the 122 were terminated as a result of the evaluation process. Some were hired under temporary agreements (such as the PreK teachers who were hired in January. However, even those will have to reapply.

      If they were good, they could have been retained through some fashion.

      1. According to my sources those terminated as a result of the evalouation process were told NOT to reapply with the HCS systems…ever.

  9. GREAT ARTICLE RUSSELL u and redeye keep up the great work….Dave great response !!!!….
    Reporting vs Blogging
    – reporting as defined in one dictionary is an account or statement describing in detail an event, situation, or the like, usually as the result of observation, inquiry, etc.
    – Blogging as gathered from one site is an online journal where an individual, group, or corporation presents a record of activities, thoughts, or beliefs. Some blogs operate mainly as news filters, collecting various online sources and adding short comments and Internet links. Other blogs concentrate on presenting original material. In addition, many blogs provide a forum to allow visitors to leave comments and interact with the publisher. “To blog” is the act of composing material for a blog. Materials are largely written, but pictures, audio, and videos are important elements of many blogs. The “blogosphere” is the online universe of blogs.

    Now I was going to go on this long spiel about this but after finding the latter definition….no real need but I will say…Blogging and reporting SHARE basically all the same major components …..a report is nothing but a blog …a blog is nothing but a report…the bickering of the semantics of the two is seriously over-rated!!!! u wanna say one is personal the other isnt…its all personal depending on who you have to go through to deliver it VS who you want it to get to !!!!…I know first hand ..all “news” “REPORTED” is not the “actual factual” but information received from OTHER than credible sources!!! <- thats fact.
    …on this blog…I can HONESTLY say and say nothing here has been dished out without researched or readily available BLACK AND WHITE facts presented first so that the reader can form their own view/opinion…….ok im done…KEEPON KEEPIN ON RUSS & REDEYE !!!!

    1. Thanks Joseph. I do try really hard to get the facts straight before I begin commenting on them. I’m glad it’s noticed.

    2. Joseph, I’m sure you’re right about some of that, but replacing dishonest or in-exact reporting with blogging is not the way to go. What you may want to do is demand that corporate media follow the long-time rules and regulations of good reporting. The British Parliament is investigating Rupert Murdock right now in an effort to make sure he follows those long-time rules and regulations. We should demand no less from ourselves.

      1. Heather no one is replacing dishonest or in-in exact (?) reporting with blogging. Reputable bloggers like Russell and credible blogs like this one keep the journalist honest IMHO. Should we “demand” that the media follow the rules? You betcha we should. Will they listen/adhere to our demands? I doubt it.

  10. Russell – short reply now, I’ll write more when I can get to a keyboard tomorrow. But for now, no, I do not favor “only look out for themselves.” -Dave

    1. Cool beans. That’s what I get for assuming. 🙂 just thought that was what you meant by referencing your work ethic and staying marketable. Sorry about that.

      1. Darwinism – only the strong survive – I don’t propose or support this as the economic model for US individuals, it isn’t the economic model that’s in place, and I don’t know of any major US movement that supports this.

        Adam Smith – while you remain capable, who other than you truly understands your best interests? I have a very close family, but I know better than my parents, my brother, and even my wife what my best interests are. Who do you trust to “look out for” your best interests? A government official or entity? Does that person or entity have a name?

        You wondered if I supported “everyone should only look out for themselves”. I do believe that everyone should look out for themselves to the best of their ability – that is a very critical aspect of a civil society. But I do not believe that everyone should ONLY look out for themselves. We are a world-class compassionate people. There are truly needy among us:
        1) Those who must endure temporary circumstances which prevent them from providing for themselves and their families, but who will be able to provide again in the future.
        2) Those who have some debilitating mental or physical condition who cannot now, and will never in the future be able to provide for themselves or others.

        Caring individuals, churches, charitable organizations, and (now, increasingly) the government work to fill the gap. And among these, the government is by far the most wasteful and least effective. Yet it continues to perpetuate itself against the yardstick of good intentions and platitudes (Uh, our past horrific performance? Move along, nothing to see here. What we need is another government program. Rinse, repeat). The government’s unprecedented waste is quickly eroding our very capability for individual compassion, which I believe is part of the design. It has a self-serving interest to make everyone dependent on it (as you said, eventually “everyone needs someone looking out for them”), and that is no compassion at all.

        I don’t know your son, so I can’t speak to his individual case and why the market doesn’t recognize his worth. Is it because of the gov’t elite’s full scale war on capitalism and markets themselves? Is it because of our “compassionate” turn-a-blind-eye illegal alien policy, which undermines job opportunities for our youth, and which only thinly masks the true socio-economic travesties being forced on our southern neighbors by their own hopelessly corrupt gov’t? And what about your son’s future? We’re all lighting our “promoting the general welfare” fatcat cigars with Monopoly money now, flirting with our great nation’s very existence. And yet our national priorities are faux science, class warfare, race baiting, idol worship, history revisionism, increased gov’t dependence, and subsidizing fake markets to perpetuate the whole ruse.

        Back to my original premise: Based on our actions, we don’t care about educating kids. We don’t care about your son’s employment.

        1. Dave,
          Maybe it would help if you stop looking at the Alabama Education Association as an organization and look at them as real people. People like my paternal grandparents who taught in segregated schools under poor conditions but still managed to educate their students.

          People like my parents, my Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, educators committed to the belief that all children can learn with the right approach.

          People like my first grade teacher who taught me to read and write.

          People like my 8th grade English teacher, who had never taught a black student made me feel welcome in her classroom and protected me from the racist actions of some of my white classmates.

          People like my Principal of my high school who made sure we had a safe orderly environment conducive to learning.

          People like the cafeteria workers who prepare the food, and janitors who clean the bathrooms and mop the floors.

          The Alabama Education Association are the PEOPLE who makeup the organization. They are not public enemy #1. Not even close.

          Stepping down from my soapbox…

          1. Redeye – I have no beef with the members of the AEA. I’m quite sure they work hard (as people, not b/c of their AEA status) to provide for their families just like I do. My concern: is AEA part of the AL education solution? I remain unconvinced (legal protection for teachers doesn’t sway me, do they provide any other benefit?) If AEA’s not part of the sol’n, I’ll take the educators, cafeteria workers, and janitors as the wonderful individual people with God-given talents, and not shed a tear for prior organizations whose track records spoke for themselves.

            Russell says you can teach in AL public schools without being an AEA member. I wasn’t aware of that (I know of 1 AL public school teacher who doesn’t know that – she would definitely prefer not to be a member), but I would be interested to know what percentage of tenured AL public school teachers are not members.

            Any hypothetical education organization we choose is made up of people. That’s not an argument in favor of the AEA.

            All children can learn with the right approach. Yes, they CAN learn, but is the “right approach” to enforce this at the end of a gun? Even if Johnny and his parents don’t care about education, we make sure he sees the light with our strong-handed approach, and we spray perfume and drip holy water on the predictable results over and over, ad nauseum. Throughout the process, we’re very careful to insulate Johnny and his family from any consequences of their actions and foolish attitudes until it’s too late, and finally we dump his “educated” (not really) soul onto society. At that time, more gov’t programs are ready with open arms and unlimited budgets to provide Johnny another endless list of excuses.

            Being “for the little guy” (whatever the heck “little” is supposed to mean, I’m not buying what they’re selling) by telling him fairy tales of the benign nature of government that’s there to “help” him cradle to grave is an absolutely uninspiring vision. More simply, it just doesn’t work.

  11. My concern: is AEA part of the AL education solution?

    Short answer, it’s not the function of the Alabama Education Association to be the solution to education (what ever that means).

    The Alabama Education Association doesn’t make the budgets which fund (or not) school districts.

    AEA has no control over the School Boards who hire/fire Superintendents, who hire /fire principals, who hire/fire teachers.

    AEA doesn’t grant tenure.

    Personally I don’t know of any parent or child who “doesn’t want to learn”. Are there some out there who “don’t want to learn”? Maybe, but let’s concentrate on the majority we know who want to learn and stop stereotyping all students/parents. AEA nor the government can mandate personal parental involvement or behavior, but they can mandate they pay taxes which fund the schools, so they are “involved”.

    We the people are the government. Without government there would be anarchy.

  12. I didn’t say AEA had to be *the* sol’n to education. I very intentionally said “part”. I still haven’t heard about how AEA benefits education, so I remain unconvinced of their value added.

    I didn’t say AEA grants tenure. I asked (since Russell said you don’t need to be an AEA member to teach) what percentage of tenured AL public school teachers are NOT AEA members?

    Accepting your premise – no parent or child who “doesn’t want to learn.” Okay, let’s zero truancy budgets. Concentrate on the majority who do want to learn? Bingo. I’m 100% with you there.

    If you believe the gov’t can’t “mandate personal parental involvement or behavior.” Try taking your straight-A student child on a weeklong family educational trip (DC, Philly, Vicksburg, whatever), because you believe that trip would be more valuable to your kid than another week of global warming indoctrination. You’ll be treated like a common criminal for such child abuse.

    Yup, the state can mandate at the end of a gun that I pay taxes which fund the schools (and the criminal levels of waste), and fortunately I still retain the right to criticize their ineptitude in this endeavor.

  13. You said: I still haven’t heard about how AEA benefits education,

    The Alabama Education Association “benefits” education by representing the teachers/administrators/support personnel, who mission is to support educational excellence by providing legal assistance (in case the principal doesn’t agree with them), professional development (continuing education) and great member benefits (health insurance and retirement). Without educators there would be no school system.

    There truancy budget has already been zeroed out.

    You said: If you believe the gov’t can’t “mandate personal parental involvement or behavior.” Try taking your straight-A student child on a weeklong family educational trip (DC, Philly, Vicksburg, whatever), because you believe that trip would be more valuable to your kid than another week of global warming indoctrination. You’ll be treated like a common criminal for such child abuse.

    That’s a Straw man argument at best, apples and oranges argument at worst.

    You said: Yup, the state can mandate at the end of a gun that I pay taxes which fund the schools (and the criminal levels of waste), and fortunately I still retain the right to criticize their ineptitude in this endeavor.

    We can thank our government for the right (pun intended) to criticize public institutions. 🙂

    1. AEA continuing ed, health insurance, and retirement provider for teachers. Fair enough. I remain happy that this org lacks the clout it once had at the state level. Continuing ed – pay the teachers more by reducing waste elsewhere, this is something that any intelligent teacher could handle himself. Health insurance, retirement vendor – this stuff’s standard for any professional career.

      Straw man? So you’re telling me I can ignore those robocalls & attendance threats (even for excused absences)? Not sure how that’s strawman. So they don’t have a “truancy” dep’t anymore. I don’t care if you call it the peanut butter and banana sandwich budget, they’re still wasting money paying people to play nanny-for-no-reason.

      Thank the *government* for the right to criticize public institutions? That’s a joke, right? Individual rights are not endowed by the government. And sorry, I missed the pun.

      1. You said: Straw man? So you’re telling me I can ignore those robocalls & attendance threats (even for excused absences)? Not sure how that’s strawman.

        The government cannot mandate you send your student to public schools, however if you choose to do so you have to follow the rules.

        You said: Thank the *government* for the right to criticize public institutions? That’s a joke, right? Individual rights are not endowed by the government.

        We have this little thingy called the first amendment (aka Freedom of Speech) to the Constitution of the United States of America. Remember?

        You said: I don’t care if you call it the peanut butter and banana sandwich budget, they’re still wasting money paying people to play nanny-for-no-reason.

        I agree there is waste, but the money is not being spent on the students (classroom), or the teachers (pay raises), it’s being spent on consultants and Pinnacle, hence the subject of this post.

        1. Redeye – I’m quite aware of the thingy. I’m also aware that you are *very* confused about the nature of the Bill of Rights. You need to re-read it.

          1. In support of Dave’s assertion, I ask you to recall the Declaration of Independence’s statement “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

            The Government does not *give* me any rights, my Creator does. I have these rights independently and they are “unalienable”, meaning they can’t be taken away from me. Not all of these “unalienable” rights are listed, but a few important ones are: Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

            The founders asserted that the purpose of Government was to “secure these rights”, but also understood that Governments tend to abuse their powers in a way that tends to restrict these rights. This resulted in the need for a bill of rights, the purpose of which is not to *grant* me these rights but to amplify particular rights that above all else should not be abridged.

            Because a specific right isn’t listed in the Bill of Rights doesn’t mean I don’t have that right. Likewise, because a right is listed in the Bill of Rights doesn’t mean that the Government is the reason I have this right.

            I reserve the right to criticize the Government, period! I reserve it because I live and breath, not because it is in the Bill of Rights. I owe no nod of thanks to our Government for that right. I DO owe a nod of thanks to our Government and those who fight for our rights in this country for their *protection* of my rights, to the extent that they do so. However, the government is not always keeping my rights in mind when it makes policy.

            Now in some cases, you and I agree that certain rights should be limited through law and we create laws to do just that. For example, I’ve heard people say that driving an automobile is a “privilege”, not a “right”. How absurd! I have the right to drive a car, period! The government takes that right away when it decides that I must be licensed to drive a car and acts against me in a punitive way if I’m caught driving without a license. Nevertheless, you and I might agree that by rule of law, it is acceptable to limit this right in this way to prevent people from driving who are not qualified. The risk of unqualified drivers outweighs the limitation on that specific right. (I realize there are many arguments to the contrary in this example, so remember…it’s just an example).

            However, in many (alot? most?) cases we disagree about which right should be limited and that is where disputes arise.

      2. Dave,

        You’re right when you say that Health Insurance and retirement are standard for any professional career, but these things are under attack for teachers right now. The state legislature is regularly attempting to and succeeding in reducing retirement benefits and health benefits for teachers.

  14. Here’s the single biggest benefit that AEA offers to the education of our children: peace of mind for teachers.

    From the outside looking in, many people assume that teaching is like other professional careers such as a doctor, lawyer, banker, or sales person.

    This really isn’t the case. Each of those careers have a fairly clear means of assessment of success. If a sales person makes a sale, he or she is successful. If a banker increases the holdings of a bank, he or she is successful. If a lawyer wins a case, or a doctor’s patient gets better, they are successful.

    Yes, I know that I’m simplifying those careers.

    But how does one judge the success of a teacher? It’s far more subjective than it is in those other professions.

    If a student does extremely well on a standardized test, but has cannot recognize the nuance of human communication, was the teacher successful?

    If a student does poorly on standardized tests, but has the ability to write a beautiful poem, fix a car engine, or design a multi-million dollar building, was the teacher successful?

    Teaching is an art because communication is an art, and teaching, at it’s core, is communication. We’ve all had difficulties making ourselves understood from time to time (often times we have these difficulties with those we love the most), the art of teaching, the responsibility of a teacher is to find ways to break through those difficulties with communication and connect with another human being.

    Teaching is finding a way to connect a new idea to one that a student already understands. It is finding, creating, designing, building new connections. It is inspiring a student to find ways of making those connections for themselves and then to pass along what they have learned to others.

    Teaching cannot be reduced to proctoring a test. It is an art that changes from moment to moment. What worked in my class this morning to help them understand the vagaries of English grammar might not work tonight when I teach the same material.

    It takes a teacher to gauge understand in each of his or her students to know if that light of understanding is shining brightly or flickering.

    This isn’t something that can be easily judged by an outsider.

    As such, the frame of mind that a teacher brings to the classroom is crucially important.

    Stress, fear, uncertainty, doubt, worry, sickness, and depression destroy a person’s ability to connect to others.

    Happiness, satisfaction, certainty, joy, health, and enthusiasm help a person to connect to others.

    AEA, in my experience, helps to keep a teacher’s mind off of things that would distract that teacher from doing his or her best job to uncover truth and to share the light of understanding with others.

    Dr. Wardynski, in my experience, seeks to increase all of the emotions that make teaching difficult or impossible (because he truly believes that education can and should be reduced to test proctoring).

    No, no organization can make any working environment stress free, and AEA doesn’t do that for teachers.

    And no, teachers do not need to be coddled or protected in order to do their job.

    But just as a baseball star leaves the business aspect of his contract to his agent so that he can concentrate on doing the very best job he can do on the field, a teacher, if they so choose, can leave things like worry about their retirement plan or health insurance, worry about having a superintendent who has absolutely no understanding of education from harassing you for being one minute behind your peers on the education “script” because you saw a teachable moment and you followed it, worry about being sued for doing your job to the best of your ability to AEA.

    Thus, AEA directly benefits students by allowing teachers to focus on teaching.

    I hope that this helps in your understanding of why I am an AEA member and why I do not agree with your joy at their lessened influence at the state level. Teachers need to be free to teach, and there are seemingly endless numbers of people who wish to stand in the way of them doing so. Even people, like our superintendent, whose job is to help rather than hinder seem to wish to take teachers’ focus away from where it needs to be.

    AEA lets teachers teach.

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