Sunday, December 22, 2013

The continuing Markell shell game on public education and Delaware's budget

You have to wonder if today's article in the WNJ about the fact that the Markell administration despairs of finding more money to pay teachers is not intended as a subtle reminder to DSEA President and DOE employee Frederika Jenner not to stray too far off the education reform reservation.

After all, it was only yesterday that Jenner published an op-ed in the News Journal criticizing teacher performance appraisal systems, one of the lynch-pins of Governor Markell's education reform, and today we're told that ...
... budget projections released this week confirm what many expected – it’s unlikely the state can afford any major boosts to teacher pay.
In other words:  mess with me, Jenner, and your teacher raises sleep with the fishes.

(Not that Jenner and senior DSEA leadership ever mess with the Markell administration, even rhetorically, very often.  For the most part the state teacher's union not only takes education "reform" lying down by signing off on everything the Governor wants, but also continues to pump thousands--even hundreds of thousands--into the campaign treasuries of politicians who cash the checks and then blithely vote against the union's interests.)

The other irony here is that in its unending quest to consider teachers the only possible variable that can move education forward, the Markell administration repeatedly proposes spending "targeted" money on raising the pay of some teachers (rather than others) in the persistently vain hope that this will miraculously cure the achievement disparities among Delaware students:

Markell and his aides have said they’re working out a detailed plan, but they’ve talked about a few broad proposals. They include possible raises, especially for teachers in critical subject areas – like math and science – and at schools with high populations of at-risk students. 
Markell has also said he wants to create “alternate career paths” so rock-star teachers can move up the career ladder without leaving the classroom to become a principal or administrator.
So let me get this straight:  while creating a slush fund for charter schools (not to mention a transportation funding loophole for them as well), the Markell administration's answer to high-poverty schools is to pay the teachers there more?

The answer is not to invest in more programs for those students?

The answer is not to invest in more teachers so that class sizes drop?

The answer is not to provide students with laptops to take home?


The answer is that if we pay teachers more to teach poor students, and saddle them with a draconian performance appraisal system, poor kids (along with kids who don't speak English real well and kids with special needs) will suddenly start to read, write, and cipher better on high-stakes standardized tests, and all will be well with Delaware.

(And, by the way, before you accept the Markell administration assertion that we are severely limited by budget constraints, remember to ask about how many millions we are pouring into bail-outs for casinos, corporate welfare, and the maintenance of the Delaware Information Analysis Center among other pieces of outright pork.  There's plenty of money in Delaware's budget if they'd actually allow adults to figure out how to allocate it.)


Anonymous said...

It's a stretch to pin this statement on Frederika Jenner's op-ed... Primarily because the op-ed did not discuss salary; it was about Mark Murphy inept handling of Common Core...

I am pretty sure that 99% of Delaware agrees that Mark Murphy was inept at rolling out Common Core...

Plus the turnaround is too soon, I believe. If a quid for quo response the date would be Tuesday a Jack rebuttal was printed.

Third, if it was quid for quo, it wouldn't be handled by Jack in a editorial battle. He would have picked up the phone, and basically said WTF are you doing?

And the budget will shrink, due to the projections. We know this.

The smart thing to do would be to close down Common Core and move those funds over to operations... 8 million spent to AIR would create 160 $50,000 a year teaching positions, or... 4000 people getting $2000 a year raises....

Just raising the state tax 1% on those reporting $1 million or more, would give $35 million extra.

And those top 1% earned 20% on their stocks this year, so if you taxes as high as 5%, they would still net 115% on their investment, which would still be a record year... going as far back as the 20's.... So they certainly can afford it...

The problem is this administration thinks human beings are not important.

That is about it.

Anonymous said...

Couple of errors slipped past... that should be a 15% gain and not a 115% gain.. Still don't know where the other "1" was hiding.

"taxes" on the fourth line from the bottom was supposed to be "taxed"...