Education won’t improve until teachers get more respect

Sunday, October 27, 2013
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Education won’t improve until teachers get more respect

I am a teacher. I’m certified in New York state and highly effective according to the evaluation system that my district chose. Many of my colleagues are also dedicated and highly qualified professionals. So why is the American system of education failing so many students?

I’m not a psychologist, I’m not the parent of any of my students, I can’t help them with their socio-economic status, and I did not raise them or get to teach them to be respectful. Yet I am asked to address all of these issues, and to teach them in way that allows them success on an exam that I did not create.

I’m trusted to assess these students for 182 days a year, and on the final day I’m not allowed to score their final exams. I’m forced to follow policies created by a secretary of education who has never taught and a state education commissioner who labels me a “special interest.”

In the last few years, my profession has come under attack by a host of state governors, Congress, the media and many citizens whose jobs do not allow tenure, or a comparable safety net.

[Author] Linda Darling-Hammond is one of the most authoritative experts and passionate proponents for public education in America. In the book, “The Flat World and Education: How America’s Commitment to Equity Will Determine Our Future,” she examines American education, explain problems, compares American education with systems around the world, and presents solutions. Darling-Hammond describes in detail three other nations: Finland, Singapore, and South Korea — all once rated near the bottom and all now much improved.

Similarly [author] Amanda Ripley, in “The Smartest Kids in the World,” looks at three countries where significant education reforms have improved the system to an exceptionally high level — Finland, South Korea (again) and Poland. These two studies in education reform success point to a few similarities, but one stands out.

All four of these countries value the profession of teaching. Teachers in Finland are paid on par with doctors and other esteemed professionals. Teachers in South Korea are held in the highest esteem and almost never disrespected.

Success in reforming America’s education system will never happen until teachers are respected and defended by the public and their bosses. Excluding teachers from decision-making and labeling them “special interests” will only worsen a bad situation.

Christopher J. Ognibene


Tea party destabilized economy, and country

If the tea party had gone out of its way to damage the economy, it could not have done a better job.

By creating uncertainty over our sovereign debt payments, it has spooked the business community, which hates uncertainty. This has led to the direct opposite of what the tea party desires.

To boost a weak economy, the Fed prints money whose repayment will be on the backs of the middle class. Big business benefits from printing money by doing more with fewer employees, depressing the creation of high-paying white- and blue-collar jobs, the end result of which is increasing profits, but not employment.

The rise in the stock market, which looks good for those with 401k plans, is an illusion. Stop printing money and the stock market will drop like a rock. Wall Street has learned nothing; big banks control more of the banking sector than they did before the Great Recession. They continue to take excessive risks and the regulations to rein them in are as holey as Swiss cheese.

Our credit rating will probably drop in February as the tea party forces another debt crisis; this will lead to higher rates for mortgages, credit cards and loans. America is no longer a “safe” economy and our competitors and allies will look elsewhere for world leadership.

Richard Moody Jr.


Police students’ door-to-door fundraising

Recently a 76-year-old family friend in Anchorage, Alaska, was mugged in his driveway. The muggers were allegedly soliciting for a high school fundraiser. The man said “no, my wife contributes to United Way.” He turned around to continue his leaf-blowing and found himself in an ER with numerous head injuries.

The school district [there] requires student athletes doing door-to door fundraising to be accompanied by their coach. They also need to wear uniforms and show school IDs. I live in Rotterdam, where I see the uniforms sometimes, but that is it.

Time for school districts to tighten up fundraising protocols. The three muggers had no IDs and their coach was AWOL. Students who need money for extras at school should perform community service and chores for the elderly, rather than go begging, door-to-door.

America is turning into a nation of beggars, entitlements; soon the beggars will turn on us en masse if we do not pony up.

Foster safe begging habits on the young while they are in school. Teach them how to beg safely. Then when they beg, 76-year-olds will not get mugged.

Edmond Day


Orwellian twist applied in Bush basher’s letter

Re the Oct. 23 letterby Gary P. Guido, once again trying to blame George W. Bush for our national debt five years after he left office.

First, he says, “I will agree that this is past history and we have to move on,” but then does just the opposite by claiming, “There was never a spending bill that President Bush even thought about not signing.”

That may or may not be true; but how does Mr. Guido explain the $7 trillion — and climbing — debt added by President Obama, more then every other president combined in our nation’s history? No liberal likes to talk about that. They would rather blame Bush.

In fact, no one in this administration has been held accountable for anything, from the IRS scandal to Benghazi, to the Fast and Furious gunrunning to the NSA spying on Americans, to the failed foreign policy and now the rollout of the Affordable Care Act.

No one is ever to blame or at fault in Obama’s inner circle, and spokesman Jay Carney never gives a straight answer to tough questions. So much for “the most transparent administration,” as stated by Obama himself.

So keep on conveniently blaming Bush, all you liberals. George Orwell’s 1984 is happening, as the lie becomes the truth as told by the party.

Marc Smalkin


Domestic violence campaign must continue

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. Although New York state has redesigned its training modules to better recognize this epidemic, there is so much more to be done.

Law enforcement agencies need much more psychological training and programs that would make them aware what to look for in a domestic violence situation. I applaud District Attorney James Murphy III [Oct. 20 letter] for his diligence in bringing this to the forefront, as I am a victim of domestic violence.

Domestic violence does not discriminate against gender, educational background, economic status or even geographic area. Most of us know someone who has had domestic violence in their lives and the lasting effects it has — not only mentally, but economically as well.

While most agencies, as well as law enforcement, require evidence of physical abuse before they would even consider getting involved, the perpetrators who commit these acts against intimate partners or spouses know how to get around the system. Usually the abuser already has used control, intimidation and fear against their partner, whereas the victim is afraid to tell anyone about the abuse, let alone the police, for fear of retribution.

One huge factor of victims not speaking out or telling someone of the abusive relationship is the stigma, shame, guilt and disgrace that they did something to deserve it. Nobody deserves to have these hideous acts committed against them and they need to know there are resources readily available them to assist them.

I commend the state and local municipalities for their continuing efforts to stop domestic violence and its effects.

Sallie Curtis


Election letters

The deadline for election letters is Tuesday, Oct. 29. We will continue to run selected letters on local races through Thursday, Oct. 31 in the online edition.

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October 27, 2013
6:44 a.m.
Phils2008 says...

Richard, the Tea Party is trying to wake America up to what the liberals are doing. They put up the fight for fiscal sanity. Damage the economy? Are you serious? You cant have an inflated stock market propped up by an unsustainable program of bond borrowing and not figure a disaster is heading our way. You have totally bought into the DNC talking points that the Tea Party is the villain when in fact they are the ones trying to save your country. Obamacare is what has created massive uncertainty within the business community. When you hear a businessman say Im not hiring because Im not certain where the Tea Party stands let me know.

October 27, 2013
7:10 a.m.
wmarincic says...

Christopher J. Ognibene, 60k a year with summers plus a couple weeks around Christmas and every major holiday off after around 5 years is not bad pay. Take into account a 57% graduation rate and the billions of dollars in NTSUT and NYTRS plus the huge school tax bills every year and you have your answer to why people are not happy with N.Y.S education system. Private school teachers work for about 1/3 of what you guys get and they graduate in the 90% range. You are a good teacher but the atmosphere in SHS is not conducive to learning. My daughter is in the military and turned out alright but only because I was very involved with what was going on at school, as you know.

October 27, 2013
6:22 p.m.
MikeJSilvestri says...

wmarincic you are correct no teacher should be complaining if they are making 60K around their 5th year. It is the fact that are making less than 50K in their 5th year and do not see 60K till their 11th that leads to complaints.

You have a right to your uninformed opinions regarding the graduation rates of private schools, who can throw out a student who is not meeting certain academic requirements and send them back to the public schools to deal with. But you do not have a right to your own facts about salaries especially when these facts have been pointed out to you before.

Another fact I am sure you will choose to go ignore in future posts because it does not fit your narrative is that the SCSD graduation rate has been steadily increasing and stands at 65%.

October 27, 2013
7:19 p.m.
wmarincic says...

WOW Mike Silvestri thinks a 65% graduation rate is commendable. I see you didn't address the Billions in NYSUT and NYSTRS. That's funny, you say teachers don't make 60K till their 11th year but you make 63k in your 9th year. The average salary for full- and part-time workers in the teacher retirement system was $57,000 a year, up 4 percent from the 2010-11 school year.

You keep defending this crappy public education system, if you really cared about the kids you would be supporting school choice.

October 28, 2013
10:38 a.m.
MikeJSilvestri says...

Yes by working all summer teaching summer school and working on curriculum and attending PD during the summer and after school.

October 28, 2013
3:22 p.m.
wmarincic says...

So don't sit there and say that you can't make 60k after 5 years when the average pay is 57k and that includes teachers aids and anyone else in the school system. You attacked me trying to make me look like I did not have correct numbers when in fact I did. So everything you posted in your attack is untrue.

October 28, 2013
7:50 p.m.
MikeJSilvestri says...

You stated "60k a year with summers plus a couple weeks around Christmas and every major holiday off after around 5 years is not bad pay." Therefore based on your criteria we should not be including the summer because according to you that salary was attained without working in the summer. So if we deduct the roughly $4,500 I made in the summer I still fall below your 60K threshold in my ninth year that you state teachers are making around the 5th year. So again based on your criteria you do not have the correct numbers.
I never stated that the 65% graduation rate was commendable I only stated that it was not the 57% you stated, so again you did not have the correct numbers.
You are using average pay for those in the TRS but have no ability to come up with what the average teacher makes because it includes as you stated TAs who make less but also Principals who make more. But even if you have that average salary it would not equate to what a 5 year teacher makes because the average teacher has more than 5 years experience.
I did not address your NYSUT statement because I have no idea what billions you are talking about.

October 28, 2013
9:16 p.m.
wmarincic says...

Maybe you should look at the link I posted, you are talking about only Schenectady schools and I'm talking all N.Y. schools. So you make 58K without summers in 9 years, that is far cry from 60 in their 11th, what about 83K in their 13th, want to guess who makes that? We can go on and on, I have nothing against teachers, some of my fondest memories are of teachers. My issue is teachers unions and the public school system as it is today.

October 28, 2013
10:10 p.m.
ChuckD says...

Then why are you attacking a teacher?
Why didn't you make that clear in the first place?
Why do you apparently feel poking people in the eye passes as civil discourse?

October 28, 2013
10:35 p.m.
wmarincic says...

ChuckD I'm stating a fact, the average graduation rate in this state is less than 60% and teachers unions are putting away billions while our taxes go up and our kids are scared to go to schools. We have liberals like you complaining about the damage they have caused with their liberal school policies and it keeps getting worse. Mr. Silvestri want's to bash private schools but those are the ones graduating kids that can actually read at a high school level.

October 28, 2013
10:35 p.m.
wmarincic says...

ChuckD I'm stating a fact, the average graduation rate in this state is less than 60% and teachers unions are putting away billions while our taxes go up and our kids are scared to go to schools. We have liberals like you complaining about the damage they have caused with their liberal school policies and it keeps getting worse. Mr. Silvestri want's to bash private schools but those are the ones graduating kids that can actually read at a high school level.

October 28, 2013
11:30 p.m.
ChuckD says...

wmarincic, you're stating a half-baked fact, predictably.
Mike is spot on when he states you 'have a right to your uninformed opinions regarding the graduation rates of private schools, who can throw out a student who is not meeting certain academic requirements and send them back to the public schools to deal with'. I assume you think public schools should become the collection point of the dregs of our society. That's the logical conclusion I see to your point of view.
I'm literally sickened to hear you and others point their fingers at teachers and lament their 'leisurely lifestyles'. You have no idea. But I feel for the challenges you must have met in school; it appears that connecting-the-dots was something you failed miserably at.

October 29, 2013
6:57 a.m.
wmarincic says...

Actually ChuckD, I don't gamble but I will gladly put some money up to go to charity and challenge you to an IQ test. I know you probably won't accept because liberals only donate to things that personally help and affect them.

October 29, 2013
3:31 p.m.
MikeJSilvestri says...

I did not bash private schools I only pointed out that you can not compare a school that takes all students to one that gets to pick and choose its student body. Imagine two ballplayers in a HR Derby where one must swing at all 10 pitches thrown but the other gets to swing at only the 10 pitches they like and can let the others go by with no penalty.
I am sorry for my confusion that you were looking at state numbers, your use of 57% a former Schenectady graduation rate led me to believe that that was what you were looking at. If we are going to discuss statewide salaries we really need to take into account the divergent cost of living throughout the state.
Once again though you have stated incorrect facts the average graduation rate in this state for public schools is 74% (meaning the student must have graduated in 4 years)the total graduation rate for public schools is 81% when time limit is not taken into account., Graduation Rates: Students Who Started 9th Grade in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008

October 29, 2013
6:27 p.m.
cheeseburger says...

my daughter went to scotia glenville schools a few years ago and would come home complaining that her class was not learning anything. one day the teacher who insisted that she be called doctor asked the kids what they would like to do in class and a student yelled out, learn something!. after many complaints, the teacher disapeared from teaching . the students were told that she went on assignment. meaning she couldnt teach but we got rid of her with full pay. turned out she couldnt get tenure at st. rose so she came to work over here and we paid her for doing nothing. its time to end this waste of money and get in educators who can teach or fire them! she wasnt even tenured, she should have been gone.

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