Archive for the ‘teachers’ Category

TNGOP Attack on the Middle Class Continues

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

150px-Business_moneyNashville – Yesterday the Republican Legislature continued its attacks on the middle class, voting to dramatically undermine salaried workers on all fronts. After opening the legislative session with a week of laws crafted for the NRA, Republicans have turned their attention to helping their other rich friends.

In a barrage of laws designed to gut middle class family earnings, the TNGOP continue to show their loyalty to their masters [lobbyists and wealthy donors] with legislation crafted to protect the wealthy. Among the laws addressed, three laws were especially ruthless toward working Tennessee families.

First, Republicans voted to eliminate longevity pay designed to reward state workers for years of public service. Second, they voted to gut health insurance benefits for state and local employees. Third, in their continued attacks against public education and teachers, Republicans voted to let charter schools throw their employees off the insurance provided by local school boards and force them to get insurance elsewhere.

Under the anti-public education bill, outside charter organizations, after taking over public schools, will now be in a position to cut costs by simply taking benefits out of their teachers’ pockets.

Individually, these bills are bad for Tennessee workers and their families. Taken together, they are the latest chapter in Republican efforts to undermine the middle class and continue the move toward a society of rich and the poor masses. Is this the Tennessee most people want their children to grow up in?

The only resistance to the Republican super-majority managed to pass these bills is minority status Democrats who overwhelmingly opposed the legislation. Democrats amended the longevity pay bill to delay cuts for a minimum of five years, but the amendment was voted down. They also urged delay of the massive insurance cuts, given their significant impact on retirees and current employees, but Republicans pushed forward despite his objections.

The GOP War on Education: A Case Example

Friday, May 10th, 2013

Michigan – Do you really want to know what Republicans think of public education? You have to look no further than the school district Buena Vista, a small community adjacent to Saginaw, Michigan. This Tuesday, people were shocked when it saw its school district suddenly shut down indefinitely. The closure followed the announcement by the school board on Monday night that it could no longer make payroll and its 27 teachers were laid off and all their benefits were terminated. Many questions remain unanswered while children remain at home and residents remain in shock.

An emergency public meeting was held Tuesday night which drew a crowd of about 100 parents, teachers and students who expressed anger and mistrust toward the school and state officials implementing the surprise shutdown. A list of questions and answers were passed out to those in attendance but officials refused to answer any questions not on the list.

The story for the board is that Buena Vista School District was mistakenly provided more than $500,000 from the state of Michigan to run a juvenile detention education program that is closed, so the state is now withholding all of the district’s funding for the months of April, May and June and part of July in order to recover the expenditures.

Many important questions could not be answered like: “Will high school seniors be able to graduate this year?”, “Why did the board spend the money meant for [juvenile detention program] Wolverine Center when it no longer existed?”, “why are children paying the price for an error by the school board?”…

Parents have demanded to know what the money had been spent on, but after attending the Tuesday emergency meeting, one parent noted. “it is clear that state and local officials have been—and continue to be—working hand in glove.”

A May 1 posting on the Buena Vista school district website states that the district is “taking the first steps toward confirming a financial emergency under Michigan Public Act 436”, which is the Emergency Manager law rammed through state congress after voters defeated an almost identical measure in November 2012. This was not mentioned at the public meeting.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s 2012 budget cut $1 billion from education statewide, while providing $1.8 billion in tax cuts to businesses. It was also recently revealed that a secret panel in the Snyder administration has been working with technology company executives behind the back of the public on a plan to establish so-called “value schools” which would operate on $2,000 less per student than the current state minimum by replacing teachers with long-distance video-conferencing technology.

Buena Vista is an unincorporated community whose population was around 8,000 at the time of the 2010 census. Most of the residents and students are African American. More than a third of its children lived below the official poverty level.

Attacks on public education and teachers have become a target by the GOP. It seems to be open season on public education. Across the nation, in red states, education takes a beating as taxes are funneled to tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy. The GOP war on education continues!

FASCISM: TNGOP STYLE

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

Tennesseans have reason to be concerned by recent statements by state Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey about open government, loss of freedoms and the state’s open meetings law.

Ramsey said in an interview with The Associated Press in December that he thinks elected officials should have more freedom to have some discussions “in secret” outside of official public meetings.

Ramsey said he is in favor of open government and added, “But there’s got to be some kind of little something to allow people to talk without the fear that they’re going to be prosecuted.”

This last statement is void of logic and is a backwoods scare tactic to generate excuses to weaken Tennessee’s Sunshine law. Ramsey and his cronies want secret meetings void of any ethical oversight. One must ask why Tennessee Republicans want secret meetings. What is it they have to hide?

Ramsey’s comments come in the shadows of recent discussion by the Tennessee County Commissioners Association that would allow elected officials to meet privately and hold secret meetings void of any disclosure to the public about the public’s business.

It is expected that Republicans will submit a proposal in the form of a bill for consideration by the state legislature this year. Ramsey plans promise 2012 will get even darker for Tennesseans.

It is obvious that Ramsey’s comments, and the proposal itself, represent a danger to open government, ethics, accountability and the public trust.

The fear of prosecution that Ramsey brings up is not based in fact. It is simply based on lies.

Tennessee’s open meetings law applies specifically to meetings during which public officials deliberate about the people’s business. The Sunshine law was created in 1974, by the Democratic Legislature, to insure officials are, conducting the people’s business, making decisions on how to spend our taxpayer money and directing policy that will govern publicly funding employees and agencies in an open ethical manner.

Governor Bill Haslam said that he opposes the proposed change to the Sunshine law. Without this law, small groups of elected officials can meet privately “in secret” to debate an issue(s), with no regard to public interest and open honest government.

Commissioners in several counties have approved resolutions backing the changes. Similar resolutions have failed in other counties including Unicoi County.

On two recent occasions, Tennessee has been in the national spotlight on MSNBC. Sadly, under the actions of Ron Ramsey, Bill Haslam and the Republican Legislature, Tennessee is now the number 1 state in loss of freedoms in the United States.

The Tennessee GOP has attacked Teachers right to collective bargaining; enacted voter suppression laws that discriminate against senior citizens, college students, minorities and the handicapped, cut out early voting; restricted legal remedy for injury in the work place or because of unsafe products; capped damages for injury or death because of unsafe products, and they are currently gerrymandering voting districts by redistricting that will discriminate against minorities.

The Tennessee Republicans overreach and attack on Tennesseans brings a whole new meaning to living in a “red” state.

FACT CHECK: Class Size Matters

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

HASLAM RHETORIC: Class Size Doesn’t Matter

Gov. Bill Haslam says class size doesn’t matter. “Most studies have shown that class size is not as direct a relationship to achievement as people have thought in the past, that having a great teacher with 25 students is better than having a mediocre teacher with 18 students.” [Chattanooga Times Free Press, 6/1/11]

»   Is the hunt for “great teachers” an implication that the majority of Tennessee teachers are not great — regardless of classroom size?

 

REALITY: Class Size Matters

A Study of 900,000 Students Over 70 Years. The seminal study on the effect of class size in education is Meta-Analysis of Research on the Relationship of Class-Size Achievementpublished in 1978 by the Laboratory of Educational Research at University of Colorado. The study is based on “data from a total of 900,000 pupils spanning 70 years research in more than a dozen countries.” [“Meta-Analysis of Research on the Relationship of Class-Size and Achievement,” pg. 31, Laboratory of Educational Research at the University of Colorado, 9/1978, accessed 6/1/11]

SIGNIFICANT FINDINGS

»   Reduced class-size can be expected to produce increased academic achievement. [“Meta-Analysis of Research on the Relationship of Class-Size and Achievement,” pg. 8, accessed 6/1/11]

»   The major benefits from reduced class-size are obtained when class size is reduced below 20 pupils. [“Meta-Analysis of Research on the Relationship of Class-Size and Achievement,” pg. 9, accessed 6/1/11]

 

Tennessee was the starting point for modern push for smaller classrooms. It began with Gov. Lamar Alexander and the Tennessee’s Project STAR (Student/Teacher Achievement Ratio). The Brookings Institute called Tennessee’s Student Teacher Achievement Ratio, or STAR, “the most influential and credible study of CRS (class room size).” Conducted in Tennessee during the late 1980s, in this study, students and teachers were randomly assigned to a small class, with an average of 15 students, or a regular class, with an average of 22 students. [Brookings Institute, 5/11/11

SIGNIFICANT FINDINGS

»   Smaller Class Sizes Improved Achievement by 32%. This large reduction in class size (7 students, or 32 percent) was found to increase student achievement by an amount equivalent to about 3 additional months of schooling four years later. [Quarterly Journal of Economics, 6/1997]

»   Minority Students Doubled Achievement. Smaller class sizes produced “substantial improvement in early learning and cognitive studies and that the effect of small class size on the achievement of minority children was initially about double that observed for majority children. [“The Tennessee Study of Class Size in the Early Grades,” 1995, accessed 6/1/11]

»   Small Class Sizes Produce Lasting Effects.Children who were originally enrolled in smaller classes continued to perform better than their grade-mates (whose school experience had begun in larger classes) when they were returned to regular-sized classes in later grades.” [“The Tennessee Study of Class Size in the Early Grades,” 1995, accessed 6/1/11]

»   In Tennessee, Smaller Class Sizes Have Paid For Themselves. Education cost-benefit analysis expert Alan B. Krueger estimated that the return on the investment in smaller class sizes in Tennessee was slightly bigger (6 percent) than the costs of implementing the program. [Quarterly Journal of Economics, 6/1997]