Re: Class Dismissed

1

You know, nostalgia's just not what it used to be. *Sigh*.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 12:39 PM
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Anyway, did you put this post up because you've been missing James B. Shearer?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 12:41 PM
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2: No, dude. This is seventeen-dimensional chess. I'm actually angling for a food thread.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 12:48 PM
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This is seventeen-dimensional chess. I'm actually angling for a food thread.

I don't think you need anything near that complex to get a food thread here.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 12:50 PM
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one constant complaint that's stuck with me is the notion that parents and teachers used to work better together as partners but nowadays it's a much more adversarial relationship, with both parents and teachers alternately trying to assign blame to the respective counter-party.

I kind of believe this one.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 12:53 PM
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There seems to be a lot of resentment about the fact that in probably the majority of the square mileage in this country, teachers are the only people who are in unions or even have the chance of possibly being in unions.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 12:55 PM
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There are two America's . . . the unionized and everybody else. Too bad we can't fire the police and the firefighters (altho I'll take my chances without the firefighters, who really should be making license plates in their ample free time).


Posted by: bjk | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 12:56 PM
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Probably a bunch of miscalculations by a bunch of players, and shouldn't happen routinely, but it's not entirely a bad thing for us public-sector types to internalize the idea that our employer's failure may endanger our own jobs.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 12:57 PM
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3: Molecular pedagogy is totes overrated.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 12:58 PM
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There are two America's . . . the unionized and everybody else.

Not all dividing lines are useful.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 12:59 PM
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7: Yeah, it's really horrible that someone else might be treated better than you are.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 1:00 PM
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If the money's coming out of my pocket, then I certainly will object. These RI teachers were holdovers from a different time . . . they were making $80,000 while the average salary in that community is $22,000.


Posted by: bjk | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 1:02 PM
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10 cont'd: Also not all apostrophes are useful.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 1:03 PM
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5: I really don't think I do, although I don't have strong evidence either way.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 1:03 PM
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Inequality must be absolute! The idea of a middle class is a pre-globalization relic.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 1:04 PM
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they were making $80,000 while the average salary in that community is $22,000.

Let me venture the crazy notion that the problem we have in this country is too many people making $22,000, not too many making $80,000.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 1:05 PM
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12: And having teachers make more than the average salary in their community is bad because? Eh, bring baked goods next time.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 1:06 PM
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14: I don't really have any evidence, either. But so many people say it!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 1:06 PM
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The town has enjoyed a large influx of Hispanic immigration . . . white teachers making $80,000 were a luxury they couldn't afford.


Posted by: bjk | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 1:07 PM
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16: Someone who says subversive stuff like that is probably in a union himself.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 1:07 PM
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20: Worse yet, a union with guns!


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 1:08 PM
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Prior to the sixties, you may have had more cooperation between teachers and students because schools were more formally segregated by race and class, and teachers and parents within each of these groups would have had more similar understandings of what to expect of students and how to get it out of them.

A white UMC family in the fifties could probably count on sending their kids to a school of white UMC kids where teachers used mostly direct instruction of factual knowledge whose importance was clear to the family.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 1:08 PM
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Could you say that faith in the public school system has deteriorated, and the consequence is that parents trust their kid's word over the teacher's word? Whereas if you have a community that loves its public school system, a parent is more likely to trust the teacher over the student.

I don't know if this faith has detiorated, but if it has, it could show up in this "parents and teachers used to get alongism".


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 1:12 PM
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Someone who says subversive stuff like that is probably in a union himself.

And my wife is a unionized teacher at a low income school that's predominantly Hispanic. We're practically communists.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 1:14 PM
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Communism is just one big union.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 1:15 PM
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Our culture puts more emphasis on being an advocate for your kid than it used to, and relentless bashing of public schools no doubt affects the behavior of some parents, but the core problem is that too many people just basically suck.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 1:16 PM
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I don't know if this faith has detiorated

Mine has detiorated so much that it's developed mole.


Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 1:16 PM
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bjk, I'll offer a deal, government pay can't be more than twice the metro median full time income, but ditto for anyone receiving government money in any form - the doctors, the defense contractors, the banks, pharmaceutical companies, the construction firms, etc. Though I doubt that would work here since I suspect the town wage is lower than the metro one, and without checking I'd guess that the $22,000 includes part time workers. As for the discrepancy between union labour and non-union labour, that's also easily solved - mandatory annual ballots at every workplace, with no management right to try to influence the election and very strict individual and corporate civil and criminal penalties on those who do.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 1:19 PM
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But I still thinking that blowing up a few schools here and there is probably a good thing. Sometimes you have to give up and start over.

(And yes, people who end up out of a job need to be taken care of, even if they're nasty communist white people making $80,000 a year.)


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 1:20 PM
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Is it really true that there is more class residential segregation than there was in the past?


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 1:22 PM
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But I still thinking that blowing up a few schools here and there is probably a good thing.

But only like in If.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 1:25 PM
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How about I make a deal with you -- public sector unions are forbidden from making campaign donations. They can unionize, they can go on strike, but no buying off the school board and the politicians. Either that or no public sector unions, which have existed only since 1962.


Posted by: bjk | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 1:25 PM
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Ok, but private sector unions can still buy off politicians, right?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 1:27 PM
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Yeah, buying off politicians is for corporations only. And that union really had that school board in it's pocket with the "school board fires everybody" move.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 1:29 PM
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As long as that applies to anyone who gets money from the government or whose financial position is closely affected by government regulation, I'm fine with it. Unfortunately, the SC isn't.

If: seriously overrated film.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 1:31 PM
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If you want good teachers, you have to pay a lot closer to $80,000 than $22,000. Otherwise, smart people who could go into teaching will look at the salary and say, "meh, I could make double that as an Aerospace Engineer."


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 1:38 PM
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Communism is just one big union.

Unionism is just one big meeting.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 1:41 PM
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I could really go for a buttery croissant.


Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 1:44 PM
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32 doesn't quite get the concept of "make a deal."


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 1:45 PM
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This is the salary schedule for my wife's district. Feel the riches bitches.

http://www.canyonsdistrict.org/index.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_view&gid=467&tmpl=component&format=raw&Itemid=222


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 1:49 PM
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Communism is just one big union.

A house union whose officials are appointed by management and where striking is a felony and where complaining about wage cuts can get you barred from employment - anywhere.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 1:49 PM
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39: Presumably the deal would be that corporations can't buy politicians either.

Pretty dumb deal even for bjk's goals though. The reason public sector unions have survived in places where private sector unions didn't is that they actually have some leverage to affect people's lives by striking. They don't have any special ability to buy politicians.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 1:50 PM
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40: Dude I got to get me some of that. I'm stealing your wife.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 1:52 PM
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44

Contra M/tch I'm already wishing for James to appear.


Posted by: Tiny Hermaphrodite, Esq. | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 1:53 PM
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44: Actually, I stated no opinion pro or con respecting the appearance of JBS.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 1:54 PM
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$22,000.

Might as well skip the education and get a job at Starbucks. I mean, I live in a state where everyone is poorly paid, but even here 22K yearly (even after taxes) is an absurdly poor salary for anything except minimum wage labor.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 1:55 PM
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I'm actually angling for a food thread.

There's some really good food in Central Falls. The hamburgers at Stanley's have been praised (and rightly so) by Johanne Killeen and George Germon, among others. I've recently been enjoying the taco truck parked down the street from Stanley's near the corner of Dexter and Barton. I also hear good things about this place, though I haven't been (grilled lamb with caramelized onions sounds pretty good right now, though.)

Although this whole controversy is playing out practically around the corner from my house, I have no insight into it. But thinking about Central Falls makes me hungry.


Posted by: JL | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 1:56 PM
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42.2: "Bought" is tendentious, but I don't think it's especially controversial to note that public sector unions have supported labor-friendly elected officials at the ballot box with volunteers and donations.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 1:58 PM
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It used to be that teachers had to take summer jobs. I had a roommate who was on the 20/20 plan - 20 years to retirement and then another 20 years to social security.


Posted by: bjk | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 2:00 PM
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29: But I still thinking that blowing up a few schools mega-churches here and there is probably a good thing.

Oh, that's so much better!


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 2:05 PM
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49: It used to be that children had to take full-time, year-round jobs.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 2:07 PM
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Also, the question of overpayment is ridiculous even among anti-union conversations.

I understand why education reformers get frustrated by the lack of flexibility in dealing with unions. The smart ones, like Steve Barr at Green Dot, learn how to get union buy-in to accomplish reforms.

But really -- longing for the lost days of teacher penury? Damn fine troll.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 2:07 PM
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29: But I still thinking that blowing up a few schools mega-churches here and there is probably a good thing.

Kai-zen, bitches.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 2:09 PM
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It used to be that teachers had to take summer jobs.

It used to be that children had to work as chimney sweeps, too.

(And speaking of children, Politico WINS THE AFTERNOON! with this revelation about Mort Zuckerman:

"The Daily News in 2008 ran an announcement congratulating Zuckerman on the birth of a daughter but made no mention of the child's mother, prompting head-scratching in New York media circles. Recent visitors to his apartment said a baby is often present but that it's considered impolite to inquire about the baby's provenance.")


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 2:10 PM
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Also, fire the female teachers when they get pregnant: then you don't have to cover maternity leave or additional insurance costs. Everybody wins!


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 2:10 PM
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Also, fire the female teachers when they get pregnant

Nonsense. They should resign as soon as they are enfianced.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 2:16 PM
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I like the direction this is taking . . .


Posted by: bjk | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 2:17 PM
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48 gets it exactly right. In a perfect world, the differences between public sector and private sector unions w/r/t politicians would need attention. In the world we live in, it's a very long way down the list of What's Wrong With America Today.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 2:18 PM
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It used to be that trolls had to bring pastry.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 2:19 PM
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Those were union trolls.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 2:21 PM
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There's some really good food in Central Falls.

Oooh . . . I bet there's a Del's.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 2:22 PM
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Kids should have to walk to school. Back in the day we didn't have any of this decadent bus or car shit.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 2:22 PM
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62: Uphill? Both ways?


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 2:26 PM
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We don't have cross-country skis in this country. It would be impossible for them to walk.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 2:28 PM
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I walked to school and got beat up by older students on the way home. It built character.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 2:29 PM
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49: Okay, fair enough.


Posted by: Tiny Hermaphrodite, Esq. | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 2:29 PM
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Yes, in the snow. If hills or snow aren't provided by nature, the school district must do the necessary work.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 2:29 PM
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65: And by character, he means resentment and scar tissue.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 2:32 PM
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Oooh . . . I bet there's a Del's.

I don't think there's an actual Del's stand, but you can get get one from a truck in season, or at a number of convenience stores or even coffee shops year-round these days. I find that they're generally not properly chilled if you don't get them from an actual Del's stand or truck, though. If you don't get that frozen esophagus pain when you drink them too fast, it's just not the same.


Posted by: JL | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 2:38 PM
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69: Oh yes -- it really must be from a truck or a stand. They also lack the rindy/pithy bits -- the best part! -- if they are of dubious provenance.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 2:40 PM
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69: If you don't get that frozen esophagus pain when you drink them too fast

Ah, thank you, no. I will stick with cheese curds and Hamm's.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 2:48 PM
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Teachers should feel lucky they just got fired. President Palin is gonna ship 'em to Guantanamo.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 2:55 PM
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NPH is right in 58 - in a more sensible country, public employee unions of the sort we have would be a problem. As it is, some area of the economy that permits unions is better than none.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 2:57 PM
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Too bad bjk is such a bad troll, because this decision seems pretty sensible. The school board decided to adopt the "transformation" option, requiring teachers to work an extra 25 minutes. The union insisted that teachers be paid $90/hour for those 25 minutes, but the superintendent "only" offered $30/hour.

I'm having trouble having any sympathy for the teachers in this case.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 3:12 PM
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It used to be that teachers had to take summer jobs.

Used to be? Holy crap. Unbeknownst to Unfogged I actually have a HS teaching certificate (which I elected not to use), and thus I know lots of teaching type. I know plenty of public school teachers who take summer jobs, and plenty more who are required by the school to put in a lot of time on various school-related projects during the summer, effectively scuppering actual second-job potential.

When I was getting my certificate, I had the assurance of starting (back before the hiring freeze put paid to that little possibility) at around $26,000 per year--$24,500 in St. Paul--and having absolutely lousy, overpriced insurance with an insane monthly cost to add a dependent. I made more in my first year as the very juniorest-grade secretary here than I would have after three years of teaching. What's more, teachers are expected to buy a lot of stuff for their classes--right on down to paper and pencils a lot of the time. I would have been looking at a minimum of $600/year in spending and probably more, just to do my job.

Now, I pretty much chose not to teach because I became convinced that actually-existing schools around here just reinscribe racism and class inequality, but goddamn--teachers work hard for very little money, with extremely minor exception.

While reading something else today, it occurred to me that everyone hates spending money on teachers, welfare and food stamp programs but very few object to even the most ridiculous military, police or prison expenditure. Teachers' unions? You want to know who has a lock on the political system? Prison guards' unions* and the for-profit prison system. But that's just hunky-dory in this great nation.

*I feel pretty sorry for prison guards, though; mostly the desperate guarding the desperate.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 3:14 PM
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OT: Whose values does Charley Carp share?

Christ, what assholes.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 3:14 PM
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As I remember school in the 50s and 60s, it was a radical implementation of in loco parentis. When I had any problems with teachers, I was told to suck it up and suffer. Life's unfair, we all got bosses too. Got paddled with a board with holes in it multiple times.

Shit dudes, all the males had served, were serving, or would serve in the military (including teachers), as in take orders go there kill and die. There wasn't much sympathy for a kid who smarted off in class.

(The scene in Mad Men of the parent-teacher meeting felt way off and unrealistic. Mostly for setting up the affair I think. In RL 1963 the parents would just say:"Have you beaten her yet? Why are you calling me?")


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 3:18 PM
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And the average salary is $75000/year, which means, assuming a 40 hour/wk schedule, that they were already making the equivalent of $37/hour. So even if they had been offered time and a half that would only have been $54/hour, not the $90/hour that the union demanded. It's just crazy.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 3:19 PM
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Or if you assume that they worked 8 hours a day for ~180 days, you come out with $50/hour.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 3:23 PM
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The $90/hour thing seems crazy, certainly -- I wonder if firing the teachers was the only option other than paying them that much for the overtime. Without knowing what the constraints were in detail, I can't really say that the firing was a good idea.

What's more, teachers are expected to buy a lot of stuff for their classes--right on down to paper and pencils a lot of the time. I would have been looking at a minimum of $600/year in spending and probably more, just to do my job.

I hate that. We used to slip Sally and Newt's teachers' Staples gift cards to try and take some of the load off.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 3:24 PM
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74: If I'm reading this correctly, looks like the teachers were supposed to accept a 25-minute longer school day gratis. The $30/hour was for an additional requirement of 90 min/week afterschool work and 2 weeks of summer professional development.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 3:25 PM
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I don't understand the chutzpah of asking for a raise when you're failing at your job.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 3:25 PM
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82: Were they asking for a raise, or not to have their pay cut? The link in 74 looks as though they were being asked to put in an awful lot of extra time.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 3:39 PM
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Totally OT: Some politically and socially active young women from a local despised minority are having a very heated argument about the theology of their religion and its practical application in their community in the next room. The atheist one is making particularly trenchant points which sound to me as though she has a much better grasp of the doctrines in question than her interlocutors.

See? You can destroy someone's country, fling them and their families halfway across the world, treat them like shit and make them work the hardest jobs for the least pay, berate them in the media and ostracize them in public, and they STILL come up swinging, questioning authority, making do with what little they have and demanding what's theirs by right.

How can I not be an anarchist, when people are constantly reaffirming my belief in them? Give people power over one another and they abuse it. Give people the tiniest chance to resist and rebel and liberate themselves and they will grab it an tug for all they're worth.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 3:39 PM
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I don't understand the chutzpah of asking for a raise when you're failing at your job.

Maybe this is answered upthread or in the linked article, but I don't understand the automatic conclusion that failing school = failing teachers. It's, of course, possible for schools to suck because the teachers are all a bunch of contented schmucks sitting around on their duffs not teaching. But it's also possible for schools to fail because very hardworking and committed teachers are hamstrung by idiot administrators or hopeless budgets or ridiculous federal mandates.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 3:41 PM
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I have to compose myself now, and wipe the tears of joy and revolution from my cheeks so that I can greet people coming to hear feminists reading from a erotic anthology. Only in Minneapolis!


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 3:42 PM
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84 need not be totally OT, imho.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 3:42 PM
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I think more pay is the same as a raise, even if you're expected to spend more time doing it.

Look, I understand that teaching is hard and there are many reasons why you might fail at it, after all, I teach. But this is amazing to me. These teachers make more than a starting college professor at a large research institution. And college professors, at least in the sciences, actually have to work all summer. And this wasn't good enough for them so they asked for more money, in the face of the fact that whatever it was they were doing wasn't working.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 3:46 PM
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Wherever there's a fight so hungry people can kibitz in coffee shops, Natilo will be there.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 3:47 PM
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90

Yeah, $90 sounds bad, but that's how negotiations work. School Board says $30, Union say $90, and they end up at around $57.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 3:49 PM
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78, 79- I would be really surprised if most (or any) of the teachers worked 8 hour days. Or 40 hour weeks. In my experience it's much closer to 10-11 hour weekdays, plus varying hours on weekends.

82- I would also be very surprised if the reason students in 11th grade are failing math tests is simply that their high school math teachers aren't doing their jobs well.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 3:49 PM
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These RI teachers were holdovers from a different time . . . they were making $80,000 while the average salary in that community is $22,000.

It's not unusual for college graduates to make more than the general population. And it's not unusual for people with long experience in jobs and advanced degrees to make more than that. You'd be appalled at the money doctors make in Providence.

Hard to say how much education and experience mattered in this case, but please note that $80,000 doesn't appear to be the right number. This passage isn't entirely clear, but it looks as though $72,000 is the top salary:

All told, Gallo said the 74 classroom teachers -- 56 of whom earn the district's top step of $72,000 a year

This quote is from this story.

I think you're right, though, that with the Republicans' success at wealth redistribution, these teachers really are "holdovers from a different time."

As we pursue government policies designed to weaken workers' bargaining rights, we'll no doubt swell the ranks of the $20,000/year earners. But hey, it's all worth it to get the great economy we've got today. Tides and boats and all that.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 3:52 PM
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91

It's not *the* reason, but it's *a* reason. I am not trying to oversimplify here. Teaching is hard, especially in a rundown community such as that one. And I really do have a knee-jerk sympathy for teachers. They should in general be paid more. But not these people. I find $75000/yr to be totally sufficient here.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 3:53 PM
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I think more pay is the same as a raise, even if you're expected to spend more time doing it.

Really? Then you're a complete tool. But alas, I can't stay and fight: I have to go teach.


Posted by: avid cynic | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 3:54 PM
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These teachers make more than a starting college professor at a large research institution.

You are comparing a starting position that could lead to the very cushy job of "tenured professor", to a veteran position where you have to deal with middle schoolers for the rest of your career. Why the hell shouldn't K-12 teachers make as much or more than college professors?


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 3:54 PM
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I don't understand the chutzpah of asking for a raise when you're failing at your job

Where do you get that it's the teachers' failure? Central Falls is one of the poorest towns in Rhode Island, a crumbling, broke-ass, post-industrial pit. One of the schools in question is so broken down, its pipes periodically leak waste from the ceiling. It's a miracle there's anyone in that school that isn't failing math. But hey, policy isn't set by the impoverished graduates of Shithole High, so it's "fire the teachers" instead.


Posted by: inacessible island rail | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 3:55 PM
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85 is what I was going to say. In a failing school I'd look at teachers after looking at the resources available and the students, and I'd do it simultaneous with looking at the administrators.

Simply going after the teachers in this situation is cheap politics. Everyone remembers a few teachers from HS who sucked, so it's easy to get people to point fingers at faculty regardless of the real sources of the problem. The kinds of problems that show up in schools tend to have multiple causes and be interrelated - it's so much easier to just pick an enemy and attack.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 3:57 PM
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But not these people. I find $75000/yr to be totally sufficient here.

May your funding streams some day dry up and may you be judged, at a great distance and by people who know nothing of your particular circumstances, a failure.


Posted by: avid cynic | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 3:58 PM
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93- Teachers didn't "ask for a raise" after "failing at their jobs"; they got asked to work more hours without pay and refused. I haven't seen any evidence at all discussed about the teachers' skills in the classrooms. Maybe they were all terrible teachers, I don't know. But if they were, that doesn't have anything to do with the fact that they wanted to be paid more for working more.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 3:59 PM
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Kobe!


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 4:01 PM
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May your funding streams some day dry up and may you be judged, at a great distance and by people who know nothing of your particular circumstances, a failure.

I'm willing to judge F a failure now, if you like.


Posted by: beamish | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 4:02 PM
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Hard to say how much education and experience mattered in this case, but please note that $80,000 doesn't appear to be the right number. This passage isn't entirely clear, but it looks as though $72,000 is the top salary

Benefits . . .


Posted by: bjk | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 4:02 PM
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I judge myself a failure every day. Join the club.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 4:06 PM
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Why do people keep saying I'm a bad troll? I'm working really hard here, and neglecting my very high-paying non-union job to bring you valuable troll content . . . A little gratitude would be in order.


Posted by: bjk | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 4:08 PM
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I judge myself a failure every day.

I'm sorry to hear that, F.


Posted by: beamish | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 4:09 PM
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I find $75000/yr to be totally sufficient here.

Really? I don't. I wouldn't want to do that job for that amount of money.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 4:14 PM
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I think more pay is the same as a raise, even if you're expected to spend more time doing it.

Really? Then you're a complete tool.

F doesn't believe in rates.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 4:15 PM
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I do believe in rates, but I'd prefer that teachers be given a salary because this isn't supposed to be about time spent, but rather what outcome you get.

And I guess I'm wrong about the pay. Very well. I'd be curious what you all think a fair salary for 9 months of teaching would be. I agree with essear, though; you couldn't pay me enough to teach middle school.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 4:22 PM
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108: I make a little more, but not all that much more, than $72K as a lawyer, and I work pretty hard for it. I'd want a serious raise to take a job as a middle school teacher.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 4:30 PM
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I'd be curious what you all think a fair salary for 9 months of teaching would be.

I don't know what's "fair". I tend to think that all people with less pleasant, more societally-important jobs than mine should make much more money than I do, but I realize this is economically unrealistic.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 4:33 PM
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109, 110: You guys aren't very good at this game. Clearly, the answer is "oh, well, MUCH less than $75,000. You are right, F, these teachers are greedy."


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 4:36 PM
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It is really a hard question - my answer's driven partially by having been a bad teacher who didn't enjoy it. Someone with more of a knack for classroom teaching would probably be willing to do it cheaper.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 4:38 PM
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It seems like teacher salaries overseas are generally less than USD72,000, even for experienced teachers.


Posted by: Amber | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 4:42 PM
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Just looked up the salary schedule for the district where my sister is student-teaching (which happens to be the one where we went to school). $72K is more than a teacher with 35+ years of experience would make in that district, which is one of the better-ranked in the metro area. To be fair, COL in that area is probably lower than in RI.

But even accounting for a need to offer high salaries to attract teachers to wretched schools, $72K sounds high.


Posted by: Amber | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 4:50 PM
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In Scotland, looking at that PDF, the rough average salary of about 3000 euros a month translates to about 32,000 pounds a year.* Which is comfortably above the median salary (which is more like 25,000 pounds a year), but is certainly below lots of other professions with similar requirements in terms of credentials and experience.

* With the current exchange rate 32K-pounds a year is nowhere near 72000 dollars a year, but it wasn't that long ago that it was pretty damn close.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 4:52 PM
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112: I don't know. I really like teaching and convinced myself I was pretty good at it. But it's a lot of work and I can make that kind of money doing other fun things that aren't as hard.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 4:54 PM
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113, 115: Of course, you're looking at salaries in countries with far more extensive social services, health care, etc. Apples, oranges. Teachers are professionals (or should be) and deserve to paid that way, imho.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 5:00 PM
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To pile on 117: really, middle school teachers deserve better-than-average medical care, since they're expected to stand in such close quarters to so many little germ factories for eight hours a day.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 5:03 PM
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re: 117

Yes, with the caveat that the cost of living in the US is --- not including health-care (which if my impression from discussions past is correct, is insane) -- generally lower than a lot of the higher paying countries in that list.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 5:03 PM
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Blaming teachers for school failures without paying attention to the student population just leads to a viscous cycle where teachers try as hard as they can to avoid working at challenged schools. Working at these schools is a pain in the ass to begin with, even without the risk for being blamed for things that are not your fault.


Posted by: Lemmy Caution | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 5:04 PM
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True, we would need to know the value of the health benefits teachers receive to make the comparison. Do US teacher health benefits fit more within the "omg so underpaid" or the "government jobs & unions rule" narrative? I'd look for data but I'm briefing.


Posted by: Amber | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 5:08 PM
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76 -- Why would anyone expect someone from that family to understand patriotism?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 5:12 PM
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122: Plus, it's been a rough week for the Cheneys. Imagine the surprise of learning her father actually has a heart.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 5:13 PM
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viscous cycle

Gross!

I think one cannot overestimate the importance of a supportive administration in any academic environment. I've been in places where an ineffective administration undermined teachers to the point of madness, where no one felt supported or valued, far beyond issues of pay and benefits. Dignity may not come from students or their parents, but it should be offered by the administration. Issues of pay and benefits are real, but they are often the last straw in a system where teachers are humiliated and undermined at every turn.

I've also been in a lot of places where pay and benefits sucked, but were mitigated by supportive admin. Even mediocre teachers do better when they know the admin has their back and supports what they are doing well.

If there is a growing hostility in American schools, I tend to think it's in the relationship between school boards and the individual school administrations, and thus the teachers. If you're allowed to go into work every day and do what you know you need to do to educate students, you're more willing to absorb some extra demands. It's not that I think they should, but that they will. If your job is exhausting, pointless, micromanaged, undermined already at every step, the pay becomes incredibly important.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 5:19 PM
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TT prof at a large research institution and generic teacher isn't a fair comparison on any number of levels. Yes it's a much nicer job with better prospects, it's also a hell of a lot more difficult to get. You're comparing people at the very top of one profession with average ones in another. At the risk of violating the analogy ban, it's like using a comparison between starting staff doctor at elite medical centers and nurses at podunk community hospital in a debate on relative salaries and job desirability for doctors vs. nurses.

On the merits of the salaries here, if we're talking folks with thirty years experience, as some of the comments seem to indicate, I don't have a problem. In general, if you want good teachers, a reasonable 'market' salary for a town like this would be whatever affluent towns in the area are paying plus a decent sized premium for teaching in a more difficult environment. NYC's top teaching salaries are pushing up against six figures, but they still lose many of their best teachers to the wealthy suburban systems who pay more for an easier job.

Depending on what proportion of the teachers suck, I might be sympathetic to a mass firing as part of a broader plan to hire top quality teachers. It's probably easier than getting rid of the individual poor performers one by one. Expensive, since you're adding a job risk premium to the poor district one relative to teachers in affluent towns, but it might produce a real improvement.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 5:22 PM
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22: and 77: are much like I remembered school during the Fifties. We did not mouth off to teachers, and there was a mostly united front of teachers and parents pushing the critical importance of getting a good education. Facts and how they linked up were all important, how one felt about them not very at all.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 5:23 PM
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||

In further sociopath news, comedy is when your dinner date dies right next to you.

http://ny.eater.com/archives/2010/03/joan_rivers_date_dropped_dead_during_dinner_at_le_cirque.php

|>


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 5:24 PM
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||

In further sociopath news, comedy is when your dinner date dies right next to you.

http://ny.eater.com/archives/2010/03/joan_rivers_date_dropped_dead_during_dinner_at_le_cirque.php

|>


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 5:25 PM
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124.last applies, I think, to pretty much every job everywhere.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 5:25 PM
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||

In further sociopath news, comedy is when your dinner date dies right next to you.

http://ny.eater.com/archives/2010/03/joan_rivers_date_dropped_dead_during_dinner_at_le_cirque.php

|>


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 5:26 PM
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After a certain number of repetitions, it stops being "further" and "news".


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 5:28 PM
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Sorry about that. First time posting from this device. Can I get a cleanup?


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 5:28 PM
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I tend to think that all people with less pleasant, more societally-important jobs than mine should make much more money than I do, but I realize this is economically unrealistic.

Not at all, just quit your job.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 5:30 PM
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It's worth noting that the school was required by No Child Left Behind to do something drastic. Its options, mandated by federal law, were:

1. Reopening the school as a public charter school.
2. Replacing all or most of the school staff (which may include the principal) who are relevant to the failure to make
adequate yearly progress.
3. Entering into a contract with an entity, such as a private management company, with a demonstrated record of
effectiveness, to operate the public school.
4. Turning the operation of the school over to the state educational agency, if permitted under state law and agreed to
by the state.
5. Any other major restructuring of the school's governance arrangement that makes fundamental reforms, such as
significant changes in the school's staffing and governance.

So, basically, the school needed to engage in some kind of radical change; firing all of the teachers seems to have been a way to avoid privatizing the school or turning it over to the state of RI. It's pretty difficult to know from 30,000 feet what the best choice was, but the teachers' union probably should have recognized what a weak bargaining position they were in.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 5:37 PM
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Can I get a cleanup?

If we clean it up, the other commenters might never learn that the multiple posting of the same comment is a mockable, if minor, offense. Now, we wouldn't want to pass by a teaching moment, would we? In the teaching thread?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 5:38 PM
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127, etc.
Nothing new under the sun


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 5:42 PM
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Now, we wouldn't want to pass by a teaching moment, would we? In the teaching thread?

:: shoots spitballs at Stanley ::


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 5:47 PM
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F doesn't believe in rates.

Like Colbert, F doesn't see rates.

Megan, meanwhile, is a ratesist.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 5:52 PM
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Benefits . . .

Ah - I guess that's why you called it "salary" - to make sure I understood that you were including benefits. No doubt the comparison $22,000 figure also includes benefits.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 5:53 PM
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Why are we talking about this as if the teachers were the only ones fired? According to the Google, it was all the school-level administrators and all of the faculty. And I'm still having a hard time seeing how it's beyond the pale to tell public sector employees that working in a failing enterprise is dangerous to your own job security. Mass firings are too easy in the private sector in this country, but that doesn't mean they should be absolutely impossible in the public sector.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 5:56 PM
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No doubt the comparison $22,000 figure also includes benefits.

It probably does, in that most $22,000 jobs in immigrant-heavy areas feature no benefits.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 5:57 PM
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I'm wondering what the school board will do next. There's a sort of underpants gnomes quality to the exercise:

Step 1: Fire all the teachers.
Step 2: ??
Step 3: Educated children!


Posted by: jim | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 6:09 PM
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Step 2: Re-staff the school and start over. No guarantees it will work, but sometimes things are so broken that starting over is easier than trying to fix them.

Our current system is that the costs of failed schools are borne by the kids. That's wrong. Occasionally shifting those costs to teachers and building-level administrators will screw some number of good people who are trying to do a difficult job in difficult circumstances. There is no perfect, always-workable, wholly fair solution.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 6:15 PM
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I'm looking forward to the day when some enterprising group of students realizes that if they all purposely screw up on their standardized tests, all sorts of awesome chaos will ensue.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 6:16 PM
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In a country this size, it will happen. But preventing outliers isn't a good goal for public policy.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 6:19 PM
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143: Re-staff the school with whom? Would you go work at a place that just fired everyone -- good, bad or indifferent? The costs of this massive disruption are being borne by the kids.


Posted by: jim | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 6:23 PM
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As to the main thread, gov't employees of the non-military sort are among the last organized labor sector, and the neo-liberals are going after them very hard. Welcome to neo-liberalism. Hi Brad!

This a main part of "starve-the-beast" and neo-liberalism, to sorta cut off the intellectual head (potential vanguard) last instead of first. The security of the last thirty years had its purpose, to lull the intellectual left into irrelevancies and trivialities, and then when they need labor to save...well never mind.

The problem obviously isn't that teachers are paid too much, but that everybody else is paid too little. Funny how that worked out. It's called co-optation.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 6:23 PM
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Any benefit or detriment to the students is incidental; I imagine the intended audience is the next batch of teachers that doesn't want to work cheap overtime.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 6:27 PM
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146: We'll see shortly, or that school district will. But if they're willing to pay the new people salaries similar to the old, I'd bet they'll have applicants to choose from. People go to work for companies that just did mass layoffs all the time.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 6:29 PM
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Hey Bob, are you enough of a revolutionary to cheer when things get worse? I remember tailking to one of my uncles in 2002 or so, and he took the stand that it was better that Bush had been elected instead of Gore, in order to hasten the revolution.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 6:30 PM
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150: Your uncle is both of my divorcing, survivalist roommates? Weird.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 6:32 PM
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I really think this isn't as cut-and-dry as it appears. I've been trying to follow this story as best I can, and it's really hard to know what to think about it. Halford in 134 and NPH in 140 have, I think, some compelling points.

It's also worth remembering that up to half of the fired teachers may be re-hired, and presumably it will be the most skilled and effective half. There's no question that in a school like Central Falls High, the failures go well beyond the teachers, but that doesn't mean the teachers don't factor into it.


Posted by: emdash | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 6:34 PM
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Nope, just another active member of the Canadian communist party.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 6:34 PM
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...presumably it will be the most skilled and effective half

That seems strikingly naïve. You really think so?


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 6:36 PM
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I don't think it's necessarily that naive.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 6:40 PM
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But when I tried to support that statement, I got stuck, so who knows.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 6:40 PM
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strikingly naïve

Is that a union pun? I hope so.

I prefer to think it's optimistic. Certainly, I think the school board will try to hire back only the best teachers of the batch.


Posted by: emdash | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 6:40 PM
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Well, for a start, the people rehired aren't going to include anyone 'difficult' or not prepared to kiss the appropriate management arse, and you think, from your experience of education, that management has the slightest clue who is even good at their job in the first place?


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 6:42 PM
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Well, keep in mind it's going to be different management. But, yes, it's very hard to know who's good at their job--especially since Rhode Island's teachers have been strongly pushing back against any sort of systematic teacher evaluation scheme.

I guess I'm open to being persuaded that there was/is a better alternative.


Posted by: emdash | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 6:47 PM
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It doesn't seem crazy that they'd know who the worst teachers are, at least, and not rehire them.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 6:48 PM
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148: OK, put yourself in the superintendent's shoes, or the board's. Federal law says that you have to make dramatic changes and gives you a menu of options. One would allow you to keep the current staff but require them to put in additional time. They'll only do that if you pay them more money than you have. What do you do now?

Also: sometimes the problem isn't the people but the way they work together.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 6:58 PM
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The reason public sector unions have survived in places where private sector unions didn't is that they actually have some leverage to affect people's lives by striking.

For the record, many public sector unions don't have the right to strike; this is especially true for police and firefighters.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 6:59 PM
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you think, from your experience of education, that management has the slightest clue who is even good at their job in the first place?

Administrators vary, as teachers do. And since the building-level administrators got fired along with the teachers, it should be a new principal doing the re-hiring.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 7:00 PM
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If you're allowed to go into work every day and do what you know you need to do to educate students, you're more willing to absorb some extra demands.... If your job is exhausting, pointless, micromanaged, undermined already at every step, the pay becomes incredibly important.

Right. It's Autonomy 101. (And I don't say that disparagingly. It's hugely significant in the lives of human beings, as I'm sure reams of sociology and psychology studies could tell us.)

It's worth noting that the school was required by No Child Left Behind to do something drastic. Its options, mandated by federal law, were...

I don't actually disagree with anything in 134. However, I feel honor-bound to note that I live in a place that resolutely ignored ignored the consequences of multiple schools failing to make Adequate Yearly Progress, falling under Corrective Action Two status, blah blah blah.

After we stopped ignoring it, we barreled ahead with an incoherent, radical, poorly explained, wildly expensive plan for throwing the bums out and starting over getting a new set of people to run schools under roughly the same conditions as the old set. Plus a few extra requirements thrown in for fun.

Oh, and we already had a state takeover, so that stick is gone. In 2001. AFAICT, it has not appreciably improved (or worsened) the situation. The district budget went from $1.9 billion to $3.2 billion over the span of I think three years, though. We still have a $160 million budget gap. Be interesting to see what happens next years when "the education governor" leaves office.

I hold little love in my heart for teachers' unions, but when it comes to the problems of urban public education, they are hardly acting alone.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 7:33 PM
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80: Apparently such things are illegal around here- we pooled with other parents, which is not supposed to exceed $50 even if it's from multiple families. We did it anyway.
Then there's this related story suggesting alternatives to gift cards, with the final quote: "I haven't met a teacher yet who doesn't love a candle." Apparently you don't know too many teachers.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 7:36 PM
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Wow. So resolutely that apparently we double-ignored. Pretend I wrote the above comment in English, please.

And "next years" should be "next year."


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 7:37 PM
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A question to those who've actually been following this:

When the papers say the teachers (and staff) have been fired, do they mean that they have been given their final paychecks, been escorted off the premises and told not to come back; or do they mean that the school board has said that they will be replaced come August or September?

If the latter, then perhaps we (and perhaps, too, Obama) are over-reacting to a theatrical gesture the school board has made in the course of its negotiations with the union.


Posted by: jim | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 8:18 PM
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Why are we talking about this as if the teachers were the only ones fired? According to the Google, it was all the school-level administrators and all of the faculty. And I'm still having a hard time seeing how it's beyond the pale to tell public sector employees that working in a failing enterprise is dangerous to your own job security. Mass firings are too easy in the private sector in this country, but that doesn't mean they should be absolutely impossible in the public sector.

Because, sweet jesus, mass firings are truly truly ugly horrible things?

If you have evidence that any given employee isn't up to it, sack them. If you don't need the position any more, make them redundant. But just firing people en masse in order to hire other people to do the same job is really truly horrible.

(By the way, you do realise that basically the effect of this will be to drive people with options away from the schools that need them most? You can teach in a struggling school and maybe get fired every now and then through no fault of your own, or you can work for a suburban school where NCLB is a nice ego-affirming exercise.)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 8:30 PM
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Jim, they've been sent pink slips, effective at the end of the school year (is my understanding).


Posted by: emdash | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 8:35 PM
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If you have evidence that any given employee isn't up to it, sack them. If you don't need the position any more, make them redundant.

I think you'll find, in this particular instance, that this course of action is impossible.


Posted by: emdash | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 8:37 PM
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Also: "get fired every now and then through no fault of your own" assumes facts not in evidence.

I should really comment all at once rather than in spurts like this.


Posted by: emdash | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 8:38 PM
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||

No more masturbating to Kay Bailey Hutchison's 2010 gubernatorial ambitions.

|>


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 8:38 PM
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I should really comment all at once rather than in spurts like this.

Different strokes for different folks, y'know?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 8:44 PM
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If you have evidence that any given employee isn't up to it, sack them. If you don't need the position any more, make them redundant. But just firing people en masse in order to hire other people to do the same job is really truly horrible.

Which means that you're going to have to rebuild the thing piece by piece, at great effort and expense, while everyone worries about whether their own jobs are secure. That's not necessarily a better way to rebuild a dysfunctional organization than starting from scratch. The school is there to teach kids, not to provide job security to its employees. Providing job security is a good thing and should be encouraged, but it's not an absolute good or the only good. And sometimes too much security is a license for bad behavior that builds bad organizational culture that is very, very hard to fix piecemeal.

(By the way, you do realise that basically the effect of this will be to drive people with options away from the schools that need them most? You can teach in a struggling school and maybe get fired every now and then through no fault of your own, or you can work for a suburban school where NCLB is a nice ego-affirming exercise.)

A problem that can, I suggest, be solved by paying people a whole bunch of money to take those positions.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 8:58 PM
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OTOH, we bailed out Chrysler.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 9:02 PM
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I think you'll find, in this particular instance, that this course of action is impossible.

As far as I can tell this course of action is impossible because the management (or federal government) wants to renegotiate the contract and the teachers won't stand for it.

That's management (or the fed's) problem, not the workers'.

Which means that you're going to have to rebuild the thing piece by piece, at great effort and expense, while everyone worries about whether their own jobs are secure.

Yes. You are. Sometimes it takes effort and expense to treat people decently. (And really, fire for cause or make redundant. People who have done their jobs perfectly well shouldn't lose them at the drop of a hat.) By the way, fifty percent of the teachers fired may be rehired; how is it any better that they all reapply and then maybe some get rehired, some don't?

Paying teachers more to work in bad districts would be good, but until it happens it's a pony.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 9:08 PM
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That's management (or the fed's) problem, not the workers'.

Apparently not.

Sometimes it takes effort and expense to treat people decently.

Which is fine and good, but in the meantime the kids are stuck in a failing school while we focus on taking care of their teachers. Is that treating them decently?


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 9:18 PM
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Which is fine and good, but in the meantime the kids are stuck in a failing school while we focus on taking care of their teachers. Is that treating them decently?

Yes! Rights are so inconvenient!

You can't do this. You can't say: o, let's exploit teachers, it's for the greater good.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 9:24 PM
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I think you're just wrong about that. Teachers have an interest, kids have an interest, and you can decide to sacrifice the teachers' (and staff members') interests for the kids'. It's not exploitation. It's recognition that the service they're being paid to provide isn't getting provided to our satisfaction and we choose not to keep paying them to provide it. Where's the exploitation? It certainly sucks if you've been busting your ass to do a good job in that school, but there's nothing unusual about making a public policy choice that screws some people for no fault of their own in order to achieve some purpose for some other group of people.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 9:29 PM
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No! Rights are so inconvenient!

You can't do this. You can't say: o, let's exploit students, it's for the greater good.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 9:29 PM
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I think you're just wrong about that. Teachers have an interest, kids have an interest, and you can decide to sacrifice the teachers' (and staff members') interests for the kids'.

That's not quite right. There's three groups here: the treasury, the kids, and the teachers.

It's not exploitation. It's recognition that the service they're being paid to provide isn't getting provided to our satisfaction and we choose not to keep paying them to provide it.

Then fucking prove it. Find the incompetents and fire them. That's how to do it fairly. And yes it's hard. So are fair trials but you can't skimp on them. Either that, or pension the current teachers off and get new ones in; that's the other accepted way to get around these issues.

It certainly sucks if you've been busting your ass to do a good job in that school, but there's nothing unusual about making a public policy choice that screws some people for no fault of their own in order to achieve some purpose for some other group of people.

Sucks? Dear lord, sucks is not the right word here. Except the purpose is saving the state's money. It isn't kids' educations. I don't think the state has the right to screw people over to save money.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 9:45 PM
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I feel obliged to be humorless here, and point out that negative consequences for students and adults are not equal. Youth by definition are more vulnerable to violence, arbitrary exercise of power, ongoing unsafe conditions that are not legally possible to escape from, zero tolerance policies that are unevenly applied...the list goes on.

None of which is to say that adult school employees have a cakewalk.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 9:46 PM
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Since this is an education thread, here's an article from the NYT on Diane Ravitch's changing views. I'm not sure why her conservative critics are given the frame, but from what I've read about her histories of education and her involvement in the history standards controversies*, she's always struck me as less ideological than most conservatives on education, and somewhat caught in the middle between sides.

*Not all that much, admittedly.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 10:11 PM
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There's three groups here: the treasury, the kids, and the teachers.

Probably not true in any meaningful sense, because the school district probably has little or no control over its funding, particularly in the short term. Believe it or not, legislators are perfectly capable of telling school boards and superintendents to do things without providing enough funding to do those things in the way you'd like to see them done.

And in any case, the issues we're arguing about really aren't about money, unless you're defending the proposition that teachers are entitled to whatever salary they think they should be paid. Whether these teachers were asking for too much or not, it is at least theoretically possible for a union to ask for too much, and what then?


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 10:29 PM
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Also:

Then fucking prove it. Find the incompetents and fire them. That's how to do it fairly.

The point I'm trying, and apparently failing, to make is that fairness to the teachers isn't the only, or the highest, value at stake.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 10:31 PM
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The point I'm trying, and apparently failing, to make is that fairness to the teachers isn't the only, or the highest, value at stake.

No, not spending money is apparently. (I mean, this isn't: kids v. teachers. It is: kids v. teachers v. state money.)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 10:56 PM
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186, see 184.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 11:00 PM
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Well yes, that the employer has managed to set up a shell game where it can plead impoverishment despite an ability to levy taxes is pretty impressive. I think it is more of an argument that bulk funding is a completely stupid idea, and that responsibility without power is a crock.

It certainly isn't fair to say that because the state has managed to cock its affairs up so badly the teachers ought get fucked. (Nor ought the kids, but on the other hand, public policy can't simply dismiss rights off hand for momentary advantage. See fair trials, tax law, etc.)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 11:07 PM
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What rights are you talking about here, exactly?


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 11:13 PM
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The right not to be fired except for-cause* for one (barring being made redundant, but quite clearly these teachers aren't being made redundant.)

See also constructive dismissal here. (& there are a great deal of ways of saving money here without wholesale firings: early retirement, voluntary redundancy etc.)

This really does just look like a particularly nasty attack on a group of workers who were prepared to tell management where they could stick it.

* Like the right not to be tortured, the US is a bit backwards about it, I suspect.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 11:25 PM
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Which are Employment at Will States?

Virtually all states are employment at will states[.]


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 11:42 PM
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Not generally a right under U.S. law, and I don't think NZ employment law (or whatever set of employment rules you're defending) has the answer here. What we're talking about, or at least what I'm talking about, is whether it's possible for an organization to be so screwed up that the best answer is to blow it up and start over. I contend that it is, even though that imposes pain on people who don't deserve it.

I set out to defend that general idea, not these particular firings. But the more I think about it, the more I think that a union that's busy "telling management where they could stick it" under the circumstances in that school, and in the midst of a really horrendous financial crisis for U.S. state and local governments, is pretty likely to be a pretty toxic union that badly miscalculated its bargaining position. It's not a bad thing for that to happen every now and then. Parties need believe that they have something to gain from successful negotiations and something to lose from unsuccessful negotiations. Management loses from this outcome too, so it's not like they're going to be eager to do it again.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03- 2-10 11:44 PM
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In what way does the employer here have the ability to levy taxes?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 12:01 AM
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Not generally a right under U.S. law

Well yes, the US is way way behind in terms of recognising labour rights. The set of rules I am defending are basically organised decency.

I contend that it is, even though that imposes pain on people who don't deserve it.

No. You are defending placing the cost on workers. You could blow the organisation up and start again without putting the cost on the workers. You could pay off the teachers and then start again. (& `blowing up the organisation' and starting again is a really bad idea long term. Hello fire-and-rehire-under-worse-conditions!)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 12:15 AM
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Keir, your continued demonstrations of perfect moral superiority are just not going to convince people who doubt that you could possibly be familiar enough with US educational institutions to have all the answers.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 12:20 AM
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I don't think Keir's engaged in an exercise in moral superiority. Firing an entire workforce and re-hiring in a dispute of this kind just _is_ barbaric by any civilised labour standard. That would be the case whether it was the education system, or air-traffic control, or the town refuse collectors, or whoever. The only difference with the education system is people get to adopt their own flag of moral superiority by claiming it's "for the kids".


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 12:25 AM
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Yeah. This isn't about moral superiority. It's about rights at the workplace being rights just as important as any other rights.

It isn't all the answers to US education difficulties. I don't have the answers. But I do know that treating people scummily is scummy, and I am saying that.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 1:00 AM
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Also, where I might be prepared to admit that there could in principle be cases where blowing up a school and starting over is the only recourse, there's no evidence that that's the case here. Blowing up the fabric and rebuilding it may be indicated, but that's not the same thing: the teachers (some teachers) still have to teach those kids somewhere.

It seems much more a case of the school not meeting central government metrics, and the governmkent not being interested enough to find out why.

I'm familiar with a similar case much nearer to home (about half a mile away in fact). The school's measured outcomes are poor, but 70% of the intake don't have English as a first language, and no allowance is made for this in measuring its results. So it's a "failure". But all those kids are still going to have to go to school. Where? The Education Department don't care, they just want their numbers to look prettier.

I'm not saying this is the problem in the school under discussion here, but I'll bet there's something underlying which has a comparable effect.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 1:34 AM
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But if they're willing to pay the new people salaries similar to the old, I'd bet they'll have applicants to choose from.

Wins the thread for the most naive comment. A failing school in a poor district fires all its staff and you really expect them to pay the same salaries?


Which is fine and good, but in the meantime the kids are stuck in a failing school while we focus on taking care of their teachers. Is that treating them decently?

Firing those teachers halfway through the year, while still expecting them to teach until the end of the year, now that will do wonders for the students. ..


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 2:12 AM
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re: 198

It seems much more a case of the school not meeting central government metrics, and the government not being interested enough to find out why.... The Education Department don't care, they just want their numbers to look prettier.

Have you read Mark "K-Punk" Fisher's Capitalist Realism or his various blog posts on the NuBureaucracy? He's written quite a bit about precisely that.

http://www.abe1x.org/movetype/mt-search.cgi?IncludeBlogs=7&search=nubureaucracy

The most recent post has some quotes from people working in education that illustrate exactly this phenomenon.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 2:20 AM
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Just quickly, on the argument that treating teachers fairly should give way to the interests of the kids: treating kids fairly *is* an interest of the kids. Kids form strong attachments to good teachers. When the kids show up next year and good teachers are gone under conditions that seem unfair, the new teachers will have a bitch of a time earning the kids' trust. And the rest of the school year with a staff that has been canned in its entirety? Not likely to be so great.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 2:37 AM
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200. Thanks for that link, I hadn't come across the guy - looks interesting. He is mainly focussed on the University sector, I infer?


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 2:47 AM
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201. What are you doing awake at this hour? Entirely agree with everything you say, though.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 2:48 AM
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I just missed the crew from the middle-of-the-night shift?

Woke with a headache, can't get back to sleep, whine whine grumble whine.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 3:02 AM
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re: 202

His book is more about the entrenched nature of neoliberal capitalism, and the current inconceivability of alternatives to it (as currently constituted) -- it treads some of the same territory as Žižek's First As Tragedy..., but it's more personal, and UK focused, and (although I like the Žižek book), it's less wanky, too -- but when he comes to discuss the audit/target culture and the nature of contemporary bureaucracy he mostly draws on examples from further education as he's a former FE philosophy lecturer.

The book is a typical "Zero" book:* very short, little more than an extended pamphlet, angry and engaged, but not afraid to use a bit of theory or draw upon philosophy.

* the publisher, who seem to be trying to publish quick accessible books for a mass audience that aren't dumbed down


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 3:08 AM
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Further to 201, it's interesting that some of the sites reporting this story mention the students protesting on behalf of the teachers, and making exactly that point.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 3:09 AM
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So, Keir's solution to the problem of a school in Central Falls that manages to get only something like 7 percent of it's student body achieving at grade level is to rewrite federal, state, and local law in order to pay the teachers more?

I mean, I agree that as a matter of principle mass firings are bad, but what was the school board supposed to do given the constraints they actually faced? (For instance, no, the school board does not have the power to levy taxes.)


Posted by: emdash | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 4:09 AM
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re: 207

They had various options to negotiate. They switched from the transformation tack to the total sack and rehire tack, part way through the negotiation process. They claim to have had their reasons -- intransigence on the part of the teachers vis a vis money -- and the teachers claim that the transformation tack was still going to involve substantial numbers of firings. Which, understandably, it's the union's job to prevent.

Both sides have a story about why things went wrong.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 4:21 AM
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There's also the rather large [understatement] assumption being made that the 7% pass rate is due to teacher failings, and that firing 50% of the teachers is going to make a difference. Both of which are far from proven.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 4:24 AM
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I don't think anyone intelligent thinks that the teachers were solely responsible for the poor student perfomance. But the teachers have been arguing (explicitly) that they bear *no* responsibility. There is a middle ground.

This whole negotiation took place in the context of the poorest (I think) municipality in the state, a massive state deficit which our Republican governor is looking to close by cutting state education aid to municipalities, and a new state education commissioner to whom the unions are quit hostile (they tried to scuttle the state's Race to the Top application, for instance). Also, RI is the only state without an education funding formula: state aid to each city or town is determined each year through the quite political legislative process.


Posted by: emdash | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 4:34 AM
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I'm kind of stuck on what kept the administration from "blowing the school up" without firing all the teachers. This is a municipal system with multiple schools, right? If this school was toxically mismanaged, why not transfer the bulk of the teachers to other schools, transfer other teachers in, fire anyone who you have actually evidence of incompetence or misconduct, and fire the administration?

I have a hard time believing (not that I'm sure it's untrue, but it seems weird) that the only options were either to agree to the union's negotiating position or to fire everyone.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 5:42 AM
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Central Falls High is the only high school in Central Falls. I suppose they could have shuffled them to the middle school?


Posted by: emdash | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 5:48 AM
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Only public high school, that is.


Posted by: emdash | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 5:49 AM
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Huh. That makes the school board's action more sympathetic -- if they were required by NCLB to either remove all the teachers or change the work hours, then I could see how they might have run into a dilemma, where they didn't have options other than agree to whatever the union wanted or fire everyone. Doesn't mean the union was wrong to ask for what it did, but they may have made a tactical mistake.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 6:02 AM
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Seems to me that the teachers who need to look for a new job next school year are much better off knowing now than learning in mid-June. And I suppose the school board had to act now under the various statutes that govern it. They had a tough choice to make: I doubt the one they made is the right one -- I don't think blow it up and start over is really ever the right answer in a human system -- but I can't presume to know enough about this situation to really judge. It's more than possible that in a one high school district, board members actually have a pretty good idea who the good teachers, and who the bad teachers are.

Nothing wrong, though, with foreigners from more centralized systems deploring some of the unfortunate consequences of our federalism, or from countries that think the rights they've given labour are more important than whatever else the enterprise is supposed to be doing deploring the fact -- and it is a fact -- that we balance the factors in a different way.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 6:27 AM
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214: Sure. And the union was put in a position of accepting extra work at whatever terms the Board demanded or have everyone fired. NCLB fucked everyone. The only real question in this case is whether both sides attempted to negotiate the terms for extra hours in good faith before going nuclear.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 7:13 AM
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I have a hard time believing (not that I'm sure it's untrue, but it seems weird) that the only options were either to agree to the union's negotiating position or to fire everyone.

Leaving aside the specific bureaucratic situation here, collective bargaining is more-or-less designed to create this dilemma. NPH discusses this here:

Whether these teachers were asking for too much or not, it is at least theoretically possible for a union to ask for too much, and what then?

I think that's the right question. I'm pro-union because I'm pro-market. Public employee unions are a problem because they don't merely increase the bargaining power of workers in a market situation, they can influence bargaining through political action. At some point, in a negotiation, management needs to be able to say no.

(Obviously, there are a bunch of market actors with a more malign influence on public policy than teachers' unions, but still ...)


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 7:16 AM
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I'd be intrigued to know how public sector union get to have this nefarious political veto power in the United States but nowhere else that the public sector is unionised, and where public sector workers' wages are generally comparable or slightly below the equivalent in the private sector.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 7:31 AM
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NCLB fucked everyone.

Comity!


Posted by: emdash | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 7:33 AM
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whether both sides attempted to negotiate the terms for extra hours in good faith before going nuclear.

Yeah. Here, I tend to believe generally in union good faith over management, because they simply have more at stake in keeping negotiations going to the point of an agreement.

I'm out of my legal depth here, but I'd bet that 'if negotiations over a change in working conditions break down, fire everyone' is not permitted by the terms of the currently active contract. At that point, doesn't the state's action give rise to a Contracts Clause problem?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 7:42 AM
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Good teachers and bad teachers have nothing to do with this; this is an issue of resources. Central Falls is the smallest, poorest school district in Rhode Island. The classes are overcrowded, the kids and their families are incredibly poor, the buildings are physically falling apart. In situations like these you always have a bunch of idiots either blaming the teachers or blaming the students, because that's a whole lot easier than trying to find money for a school district that's been broke and running on fumes for years.


Posted by: inacessible island rail | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 7:48 AM
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159
Well, keep in mind it's going to be different management.

Will it? I'm pretty sure the school board is a bunch of elected officials who aren't going anywhere in this decision and have final say on all hiring and firing. In practice of course they delegate a lot to the principal and superintendent, but I doubt they are going anywhere either.

165
Apparently [giving teachers money to help with classroom expenses] are illegal around here- we pooled with other parents, which is not supposed to exceed $50 even if it's from multiple families. We did it anyway.

Your link looks depressing in a typical Examiner way, but there's a relevant line buried in there:

The bottom line is that any gift worth more than $50 has to be donated to the school or classroom rather than to the individual teachers.

The devil is in the details of course, but that looks like it allows unlimited gifts as long as a little paperwork is filled out along the way, to prevent it from being used as a bribe or something.

170
If you have evidence that any given employee isn't up to it, sack them. If you don't need the position any more, make them redundant.
I think you'll find, in this particular instance, that this course of action is impossible.

I doubt it. Harder, than in most private industries, sure, but I've seen both happen.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 7:55 AM
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Good teachers and bad teachers have nothing to do with this; this is an issue of resources.

The latter is absolutely right. I'm not so sure about the former.


Posted by: emdash | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 8:06 AM
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||
Beyond parody.
A bunch of wingnut youths rapping about Obama.
|>


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 8:25 AM
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Too bad I'm working, because I could get a really belligerent argument going about whether throwing more money at a disaster of a school district is likely to help. Short version: Extremely doubtful.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 8:56 AM
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Depends where you throw the money...


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 8:59 AM
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whether throwing more money at a disaster of a school district is likely to help

More money is an insufficient condition, but usually a necessary one nonetheless. Everything costs money and even well-functioning districts are underfunded.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 9:10 AM
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Yeah, "throwing money" begs the question. If there are insufficient resources available for classroom instruction, the problem may be insufficient funds at the top level, but it's probably compounded by mismanagement of those funds. "Throwing money" won't work if it's going to be wasted by management before it gets to classrooms, but that still leaves the question of how to increase the resources available at the classroom level open, and spending more money is likely to be a component of that solution.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 9:22 AM
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Hmmm. My 222.1 seems to be contradicted by 140, at least in part. It seems the principal is going somewhere too. Not sure how much that changes things, though; to whatever extent that mismanagement is a problem, I'm still more inclined to blame the school board and the voters for mismanagement than administration in the building, although I'm not sure how much of that is because my experiences with each and how much is because my parents are/were adminstrators in school buildings.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 9:32 AM
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228: Exactly. "Throwing money" is probably unhelpful. Strategically directing money, on the other hand...


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 9:33 AM
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although I'm not sure how much of that is because my experiences with each and how much is because my parents are/were adminstrators in school buildings.

I have a tendency to believe that principals have a huge effect on the quality of classroom education -- my kids' current school works much better than I'd expect a fairly high-poverty, high-recent immigrant, high-inexperienced teacher, high teacher-turnover school to work, and I attribute it largely to Miriam getting the most out of the good experienced teachers she has, and identifying and hiring good enthusiastic newbies (who last three or four years and leave the city for greener pastures).


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 9:45 AM
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Gah, I really don't have time to comment, but my "throwing money" was a disparaging description of the actual process of supposedly "strategically directing money."

I am unpersuaded that a workable system exists (in PA; I don't know other systems well enough to comment) to ensure that even 80% of any new money limps its way towards actual needs.

There's a reason that private funder after private funder has launched new efforts with tremendous initiative and hoopla, and then quietly faded away. AFAICT, the system routinely slows or chokes the flow of people, money, and just about everything else. Microsoft School of the Future, anyone?


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 9:54 AM
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232: I think this is right -- there's a lot of blaming teachers that should really be directed at some point on the chain of command from local government to school administration. That's all really opaque and variable from one district to the next and one state to the next: one more reason why I'm really unenthusiastic about local autonomy. It seems in practice to just give rise to opaqueness and lack of accountability.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 10:01 AM
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232: Gotcha. I react instinctively to the "throwing money at" formulation because I see it trotted out often enough to justify what seems to me an utterly inequitable system of public school funding in my state (schools mostly funded by property taxes, meaning districts with expensive houses have a lot more money than districts with cheap houses and a lot of apartments). "Oh, throwing money at those poor schools won't help!" Uh huh. Sure it won't.

More money will naturally help if you can get it to the right places.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 10:02 AM
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The results described in 231 is the product of reforms to the NYC public school system, which emphasize autonomy for principals, combined with strict accountability and performance metrics. It's at least one reason why NYC schools seem to do better, with similarly tough demographics and similarly low levels of funding, than other systems, like LAUSD.

The whole issue in RI is an attempt to get more money for the district. Basically, the Feds say, we'll give you cash, but you need to show results. In this case, the school failed to show results for so long that the Feds have now said "change your practices radically, or we shut off your cash."

That basic structure seems fine to me. Whether firing everyone at the school was necessary or appropriate is something that's hard to know without knowing a lot more about the facts on the ground.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 10:58 AM
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I'd be intrigued to know how public sector union get to have this nefarious political veto power in the United States but nowhere else that the public sector is unionised, and where public sector workers' wages are generally comparable or slightly below the equivalent in the private sector.

I'm not sure of the rationale for having unions at all if there's no advantage for workers to have one. Are you really saying that membership in a public employee union is counterproductive for US workers?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 11:02 AM
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I thought the deal with public sector employees was that the salary structure was much flatter than the private sector, so low paid employees make much more in the public sector than their private sector counterparts, but the reverse is true at the top end of the pay scale. So any advantage there is to unionization isn't one that turns into higher pay in the public sector across the board.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 11:05 AM
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236. I think you missed the element of snark there. Personally I don't understand how anybody sane and in waged work wouldn't want to be in a union.

That said, people up thread appeared to be arguing that public sector unions by their very existence distorted the political process and ensured astronomical wages that nobody could afford and all sorts of stuff that they seemed to think was bad. And I was asking how the American unions achieved all this, given my experience as a former rep. in the biggest public sector union in Britain, where we can't do any of that stuff, in spite of the consistently left wing and not corrupt union leadership.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 11:22 AM
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238: Aren't corporations much more able to buy politicians in the US than in Britain? The proposed mechanism would be similar.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 11:26 AM
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In Los Angeles -- it might interest you to learn -- my understanding is that some similarly "failing" schools are about to be operated by the teacher's union itself, as more or less as independent charter schools that just happen to be run by a union, not some corporation or nonprofit. Syndicalism in practice!

We'll see how it works out; I'm skeptical.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 11:28 AM
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Mixed news from the Texas election. One fundie wackjob gone, one guy elected with a platform that's part smart, part nutso.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 11:28 AM
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CN, are you suggesting the unions buy the pols? No, that's unlikely here, although unions still sponsor a few Labour MPs (remember the Labour Party originated as the political wing of the union movement explicitly).

No, you can't legally buy politicians in Britain. If you get caught you can do substantial time and the politician's career is over.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 11:33 AM
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No, you can't legally buy politicians in Britain.

I'm still pissed off that Obama closed the loophole allowing us to re-import cheaper politicians from Canada. What a sell-out to the Big Lobby lobby.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 11:38 AM
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No, you can't legally buy politicians in Britain. If you get caught you can do substantial time and the politician's career is over.

See, that's a huge difference. Here politicians need corporate sponsorship unless they are local celebrities or among the richest people on earth.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 11:40 AM
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I think this is right -- there's a lot of blaming teachers that should really be directed at some point on the chain of command from local government to school administration.

It makes no sense to blame only teachers, but neither does it make sense to say that it's all politicians and administrators and teachers have nothing to do with it. The whole culture of public education is broken in some places.

I thought the deal with public sector employees was that the salary structure was much flatter than the private sector, so low paid employees make much more in the public sector than their private sector counterparts, but the reverse is true at the top end of the pay scale.

Public sector unions are really good at creating and protecting highly-secure, mediocre to shitty jobs. Not always and everywhere, but that's where the incentives point. And no, I don't have a better answer, because it's also true that public sector management has its own screwy incentives and pathologies.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 11:43 AM
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The whole culture of public education is broken in some places.


Posted by: jim | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 12:13 PM
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244. To clarify, there's nothing to stop corporations or unions or you or me contributing to somebody's election fund in Britain, though there are limits to how much one legal entity can pony up. So if I think that candidate X is more likely to vote for planning consent for my jerry built houses in the flood plain that candidate Y, I'm free to chip in the legal max.

What I can't do is turn up in their office after they're elected with a cheque book and say, "How much to make sure the vote on thr flood plain development goes the right way?" That's bribery, and if it comes out, it's prison for decades. Nor can I launder the money through a Political Action Committee or anything like that.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 12:24 PM
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247: Benighted though we are, we do actually have laws against bribery of government officials as well. It's just that legal campaign contributions, while formally similar to what you describe, seem to work fairly effectively as bribes in the US in a way that they don't seem to as much in the UK.

But you knew that. I'm just being humorless.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 12:53 PM
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Sorry, that was me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 12:54 PM
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The whole culture of public education is broken in some places.

This is simply not true. My kids go to a great public school. There are good public schools in suburbs all over the nation, places that people do everything they can to move to so that their kids will go to a good school.

We know how to run an effective public school. It can be done and is done frequently, when people have the funding and the will to do it.

Public education is not just a social good, it is one of the most important ones out there. Throwing it away would mean returning us to 18th century levels of inequality.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 12:58 PM
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248. Just to be humourless right back at you, yes I do know all that, what I don't know is why. I suspect that at federal level it's a function of size - elections are more expensive to run if you have an electorate of half a million than 75k. But why it's also the case at state level I can't see.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 1:09 PM
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I don't believe for a nanosecond that corporations have less control over politics in the UK than they do here. BP? BAE? The major British banks? In most of Europe, corporate control over politics is much more extreme than it is in the US.

The main reason our American politics seem worse is that we have less of a true left-wing tradition, and our conservative party is controlled by ideological crazies. If American politics were actually dominated by major corporations, our conservative parties would probably look more like those of Britain or Continental Europe.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 1:13 PM
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There are good public schools in suburbs all over the nation

Even some that are not in suburbs!


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 1:19 PM
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I mean, European conservatism really is properly described as "corporatism." Deutsche Bank or Credit Lyonnais has a degree of control over German or French politics that Goldman Sachs or Exxon could only dream of. Our conservatism is much more about small business owners and ideological hatred of government, a value that really large corporations generally do not share.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 1:22 PM
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I think a parliamentary system makes stronger parties than a system like ours. Our center party and our right party are quite different from each other, but similar in the members' individual endless need for cash, and the sprawling nature of their coalitions.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 1:25 PM
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That basic structure seems fine to me. Whether firing everyone at the school was necessary or appropriate is something that's hard to know without knowing a lot more about the facts on the ground.

Firing everyone is almost never appropriate. It's collective punishment of a particularly vulgar sort.

And what should the school board have done? Dunno, I am not an educationalist. (I want to say: fight the schools' corner effectively at state level, but that's not really fair.) But still, mass firings and then rehiring on new terms are always a very Bad Thing.

But if you are saying that there is a right to an education that can trump rights to be treated decently at work, does that right also trump things like being treated fairly for stationery purchases and such like? Or can a school district renege on them too if it wants to do so to save money -- for the kids, of course?


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 1:36 PM
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We know how to run an effective public school. It can be done and is done frequently, when people have the funding and the will and the receptive student population to do it.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 1:44 PM
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Keir, you have an inflammatory style.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 1:45 PM
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Or can a school district renege on them too if it wants to do so to save money -- for the kids, of course?

If there is evidence that the school district has reneged on its deal with the teachers, I haven't seen it.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 1:53 PM
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I don't believe for a nanosecond that corporations have less control over politics in the UK than they do here.

Nor do I, but I do believe they do it differently. This point started when somebody suggested that unions (not multinational companies) in RI were distorting the political process to allow a failing school to survive with impunity and I thought this sounded either dead wrong or reflective of a different political reality. Let me assure you that no director of BP or BAE, or GM or Lockheed Martin or Microsoft, has ever heard of the school in question or its English counterpart that I mentioned up thread, nor could they care less what becomes of them.

I suspect Charley (three brains) Carp at 255 has the right of it - politics is just more expensive in America.

Deutsche Bank or Credit Lyonnais has a degree of control over German or French politics that Goldman Sachs or Exxon could only dream of.

But they still don't own individual politicians.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 1:57 PM
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250: Hence the "in some places". And saying that "we know how to run an effective public school" is true as phrased, but I'm a lot less sure that anybody's really figured out how best to run large, diverse public school systems.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 1:59 PM
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Really? I can't see anything inflammatory there.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 1:59 PM
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ttaM doesn't even see style.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 2:00 PM
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258. To paraphrase Lord Clive, I stand here amazed at Kier's moderation.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 2:01 PM
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If there is evidence that the school district has reneged on its deal with the teachers, I haven't seen it.

I haven't seen it explicitly stated, but it seems impossible that they didn't. The teachers are unionized, which means they're working under a contract, or deal. The contract sets work hours and conditions, pay, and procedures for firing. The district wanted to change the conditions and the pay (to be fair, were apparently required by law to), and the teachers did not agree, so the district fired them. That's reneging on a deal.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 2:02 PM
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Not limited to that one comment. But often I find myself feeling defensive and riled up after reading Keir's comments.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 2:02 PM
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262, 264: We Americans are a gentle, soft spoken people, easily frightened and disturbed by harsh rhetoric. Also, Keir appears to be upside-down from over here, and that confuses us.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 2:04 PM
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I just thought Keir was breach.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 2:05 PM
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and that confuses up

This especially.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 2:05 PM
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We know how to run an effective public school. It can be done and is done frequently, when people have the funding and the will to do it.

Therein lies the rub -- the current system doesn't distribute the funding (and the will?) as equitably as it should.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 2:06 PM
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269: Heh. Sorry about fixing that typo.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 2:06 PM
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The problem is, we USians expect kiwis to be all fuzzy and sweet. Because we're fruitists.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 2:06 PM
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(And to clarify, I didn't read Keir as being inflammatory; disagreeing reasonably and forcefully, sure.)


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 2:11 PM
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I feel that this story ought somehow to be relevant to this conversation, but I'm not sure how.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 2:14 PM
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265: See this story, which doesn't indicate that the union has asserted contract-based claims. Speculating wildly, I wonder if there's some pre-existing agreement in place that allows the district to apply the NCLB sanctions if necessary to retain federal funding.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 2:16 PM
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I don't actually think that last comment was particularly inflammatory. I just wandered into the thread and passed judgement. But I did have that thought in my head from the earlier conversation, up thread.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 2:16 PM
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266 gets it right. Over the course of comments #165 through #205 I basically went from reflexively supporting the teachers to reflexively opposing the teachers.

The fact that most Americans here did not respond with "Dammit, once again workers have their rights taken away", but with "Wow, I've never heard of something like that happening. It must have been a unique and extreme situation and a last resort" should tell you something.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 2:17 PM
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275: Yeah, but you really can't tell much from what's not in a story. If the contract in force permits what the school board did, though, I'll agree that what happened wasn't reneging on a deal.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 2:19 PM
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The fact that most Americans here did not respond with "Dammit, once again workers have their rights taken away", but with "Wow, I've never heard of something like that happening. It must have been a unique and extreme situation and a last resort" should tell you something.

I think what it largely tells you is that we have a hard time thinking of workers as having any rights.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 2:20 PM
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Ducking in just for a moment -- the main reason I can see that Keir would come across as inflammatory is that some of the things he's saying are arguments that in US public education debates it's not uncommon to hear in bad faith.

I trust Keir's good faith completely (distant from the US context though he may be, and ignorant of some of our specific constraints though he may be). But it doesn't surprise me that his comments "feel" inflammatory to at least some US readers.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 2:20 PM
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I've found Keir's paraphrasing of my words inflammatory, so perhaps it is a systemic New Zealander bias. Or, you know.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 2:24 PM
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And... off to swim. In a meeting room. With other colleagues, discussing boring things. Actually, we're not really swimming. But sorry to chime in and have to leave right away.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 2:26 PM
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Oh good. Let's have a big discussion singling out a commenter for debate over whether he is a big fat jerk. Those always go so well.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 2:26 PM
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That Di is always such a problem commenter.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 2:28 PM
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278: Except that that story says that the union has filed three ULP charges, none of which is for breach of contract and all of which look like the sort of things you'd pursue if you didn't have a straightforward contract claim. YMMV.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 2:29 PM
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283 is right. We can get plenty nasty enough about public education without personalizing it.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 2:30 PM
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Ducking in just for a moment -- the main reason I can see that Keir would come across as inflammatory is that some of the things he's saying are arguments that in US public education debates it's not uncommon to hear in bad faith.

This often happens.

Well-meaning person who knows little: Obviously there should be a right to an abortion in the first trimester, but this partial-birth stuff? That's terrible!
Political junkie: I'm so sick of hearing that kind of rhetoric. People harp on examples like this when they want to outlaw all abortions for everyone. Everyone knows no law like what you're suggesting is possible, so what are you really suggesting?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 2:30 PM
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This story seems relevant.

Re: the policy of withholding funding from underperforming schools, how is this consistent with the right to an education (if there is such a right in the US? and that's a genuine question, btw)? And anyway, isn't that sort of like saying, 'No gym class for the overweight, unfit children; no, not until they get themselves in shape'.

And also, imho no Democrat should support, much less enthusiastically endorse, mass firings of unionized workers.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 2:31 PM
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I, for one, don't think that Keir would leave babies in hot cars.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 2:32 PM
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283: 267 was meant to be funny, but it's true -- I notice people from non-US English speaking countries tend to be much more straightforwardly direct about stating disagreement, where Americans qualify and waffle, and so they often sound harsher than we're used to. I kind of like them better than us on this front, though, and don't think people should take exception to the forcefulness.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 2:33 PM
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I, for one, don't think that Keir would leave babies in hot cars.

Hot cars are wasted on children, as I'm sure Keir would agree. You want to put a kiddie seat in a Lamborghini? It is for to laugh.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 2:36 PM
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all of which look like the sort of things you'd pursue if you didn't have a straightforward contract claim.

IANALaborLawyer, but I'm not sure of that (you may be more of a labor lawyer than I am, so just because I'm unsure, doesn't mean you shouldn't be). I don't know the elements of retaliatory termination as an ULP, but it seems as if it might include that the termination was in violation of the contract. Also, I don't know a thing at all about the procedural/statutory issues here, but I could easily believe that a statutory ULP claim was so unambigiously superior to a breach of contract claim for some reason that you just wouldn't bring a breach of contract claim.

But I really don't know -- if you do this kind of litigation enough to say that it really is weird not to have a breach claim along with the ULP claims, I'd believe it. (I still wouldn't be certain that a news story reporting three ULP claims definitely meant "those three claims and no others were brought by the union," though.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 2:38 PM
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290: I thought 267 *was* funny. But I don't agree that it's true. Plenty of furriners here can be soft-spoken and cautious; plenty of Muricans here can be utter dicks.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 2:39 PM
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I agree with 293. There may be stylistic differences between USians and THEMians, but forthrightness is not quite it.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 2:42 PM
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I think some of the US/UK/New Zealand disconnect here may be explained by vocabulary. Outside of the US, umy nderstanding is that there's a difference between "firing" (which is only for cause, and haentitles the benefits) and "redundancy" (which is what a big company does when it's closing a factory or going out of business, and involves an increased level of temporary state-paid benefits). Obviously not every layoff, even in the UK or NZ, can be for cause, since business do fail and offices do close. US law doesn't make that terminological distinction as clearly, and when we're talking about "firing" the teachers we're talking about something that looks like what our foreign readers would call a "redundancy." The teachers here would be entitled to standard unemployment benefits, although these are (I think) less generous in the US than abroad.

That's my theory anyway! And I like Keir a lot and I like his style, although we probably disagree on a fair number of substantive issues.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 2:45 PM
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Oh good lord. Here's a version of my last comment with not as many extraordinarily bad typos:

I think some of the US/UK/New Zealand disconnect here may be explained by vocabulary. Outside of the US, my nderstanding is that there's a difference between "firing" (which is only for cause, and entitles the worker to only limited benefits) and "redundancy" (which is what a big company does when it's closing a factory or going out of business, and involves an increased level of temporary state-paid benefits). Obviously not every layoff, even in the UK or NZ, can be for cause, since business do fail and offices do close. US law doesn't make that terminological distinction as clearly, and when we're talking about "firing" the teachers we're talking about something that looks like what our foreign readers would call a "redundancy." The teachers here would be entitled to standard unemployment benefits, although these are (I think) less generous in the US than abroad.

That's my theory anyway! And I like Keir a lot and I like his style, although we probably disagree on a fair number of substantive issues.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 2:47 PM
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I don't dislike Keir, either. I also don't retract my original statement. And while it's a little impolite to discuss him in this detail, in his absense - HI KEIR! - I don't think there's anything that will freak him out when he reads all this.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 2:50 PM
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293: Oh, there are certainly Americans being dicks all the time; what I was thinking was that the line between "I'm being aggressive about this" and "I am disagreeing in a reasonable and polite fashion" is in a somewhat different place for Americans and non-US Anglophones.

Like, I like the way Keir puts things, and I don't think he means to be a dick at all, and would hate to have him or anyone else tone it down. But I also know what heebie and CN were talking about -- Keir's unusually forceful about stuff compared to most people I talk to. I couldn't have posted ttaM's 262 without being disingenuous; for ttaM, on the other hand, Keir apparently doesn't sound unusually forceful at all.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 2:53 PM
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|| So, the Oklahoma Supreme Court tossed out that abortion law folks talked about a while back. For technical reasons. Which they had to explain in all caps so the legislature would maybe finally understand.|>


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 2:54 PM
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296: I don't think that quite works -- there's a pretty clear equivalency between 'redundancy' and 'layoff', and this wasn't a layoff. New people are being hired to replace the fired teachers.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 2:55 PM
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292: I know just enough to think I'm right but far from enough to have any confidence in that, so I'll stop speculating and wait for the follow-up stories.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 2:55 PM
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withholding funding from underperforming schools, how is this consistent with the right to an education

It's consistent with "lazy poor black people are taking my hard-earned tax dollars and then just waste them," which is the central organizing principle of the modern conservative movement.

if there is such a right in the US?

Not in the US constitution, but it does show up in several state constitutions, I think.

no Democrat should support, much less enthusiastically endorse, mass firings of unionized workers

No Democrat should, but an awful lot of Democrats have internalized big parts of the poisonous Reagan legacy. Particularly ones around my age, who came of age during those years.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 2:56 PM
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299: Single-subject rules rock. We should add one to the federal Constitution.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 2:58 PM
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No Democrat should, but an awful lot of Democrats have internalized big parts of the poisonous Reagan legacy. Particularly ones around my age, who came of age during those years.

Yep.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 3:02 PM
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300 -- well, maybe. But the point is that these folks are not being treated in some particularly negative way that would apply to those fired for cause -- they are getting the same benefits (which may not be that much!) as any other downsized worker. Probably more, due to their union contract.

I don't think anyone here is "enthusiastically endorsing" mass firings (well, maybe bjk, but he's not a Democrat). But the restructuring stick of NCLB (which is matched with the carrot of federal dollars) is a useful tool for reforming failing schools, and there are some schools that really are failing (even if many aren't), and I don't have much of theoretical problem with their being an ultimate sanction that requires termination of school employees, so long as there are plenty of chances to improve the school before those sanctions are imposed (which there are). Moreover, it should really be pointed out this situation in RI appears to be unusual to the point of being unique -- there are plenty of schools (and school systems) that are required to engage in massive transformation by federal law, but do so without mass layoffs. The fact that the attempt here led to a mass termination, when it does not in most other places, suggests either terrible strategy from the union, an unusually toxic working situation, or crazed management, or possibly all three. My only point is that it's hard to judge what's going on without knowing much about how the school district is actually operating.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 3:06 PM
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there are plenty of schools (and school systems) that are required to engage in massive transformation by federal law, but do so without mass layoffs.

I am dying to know whether this is in fact happening. My (possibly completely unrepresentative) sample says that the districts are:
1. Violating/ignoring federal law
2. Playing giant games of musical chairs with school district employees
3. Praying for changes in interpretation by the relevant authorities

I suspect, but have no proof, that RI is just a noisy and poorly handled example, not an outlier.

Anyone know better?


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 3:09 PM
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Also, and I know everyone knows this, but being "pro Union" does not mean "being pro every demand from a Union." I am glad that these teachers had the right to organize, regardless of whatever happened on the ground in RI.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 3:10 PM
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298 makes me wonder how many people I've inadvertently upset when I thought I was being politely straightforward. I don't see the difference in disagreeing styles between US and non-US Anglophones, so I suspect I'm on the upside-down side of the divide.

['I'm not rude, you're stupid']


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 3:12 PM
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Well, LA just handed over a ton of its supposedly failing schools to either charter groups or, as I mentioned above, to the teacher's union itself. Those actions appear to satisfy the federal standards. And DC appears to be transforming a number of its failing schools without simply violating the law. But I am not at all an expert on this front.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 3:12 PM
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I agree with 305 and 307. Also with 306 that a lot of "massive transformations" aren't all that massive.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 3:12 PM
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My only point is that it's hard to judge what's going on without knowing much about how the school district is actually operating.

This, absolutely.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 3:12 PM
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302.last is the key point. When Keir first made his argument, I initially found it incomprehensible. But really, how is a mass firing a fair outcome?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 3:12 PM
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312: Maybe part of the reason we're arguing here is that some are seeing this as a PATCO situation and some aren't. As I understand what I've read (and subject to 311, etc.), the district couldn't reach agreement with the union on implementing its Plan A for NCLB compliance, so went to Plan B. Plan B meant everybody at the school got fired, but the path by which they ended up there was not exactly "agree with management or we'll fire you".


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 3:18 PM
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313: Well, might be, might not be. There's some combination of increased hours without pay (and if I've got this straight, the management proposal was "Work all these extra hours. X% of the hours are entirely unpaid, and the remaining Y% are paid at less than your current hourly pay.") at which point firing the teachers for not taking it does seem PATCOish.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 3:21 PM
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A factor contributing to what seems like surprising willingness to equivocate here is that...although I don't know exactly what "Rhode Island's education board" consists of, a school board in a densely populated former mill town in Rhode Island, or Rhode Island in general, is likely to be made up of people who are quite pro-union on principle. It's not like this is happening in Columbus, Georgia.

Another interesting factor is that parents seem to be taking the teachers' side here instead of the parents vs. teachers dynamic that we began this thread by assuming. However, this makes Obama's support of the mass firing more disturbing rather than less.

The story as a whole is not typical of any trend I'm aware of and the chance that it's part of a uniquely dysfunctional relationship between negotiators seems high.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 3:21 PM
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306: When they built the newest high school in my area, they basically gerrymandered the boundaries for who would go where to balance out test scores. *Most* kiddos would be going to the geographically closest school. But the youngsters from the feeder school up North with the really crappy test scores and the munchkins from the feeder school down South with the Rock Star test scores would go to the school furthest away from each to make sure the numbers would all balance out. Stupid and annoying, but I guess if the alternative is to fire a bunch of teachers en masse, okay, we can spend some time on a bus.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 3:23 PM
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308: Where is max, anyway? Did you all drive him off?


Posted by: Di kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 3:24 PM
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re: 298

I couldn't have posted ttaM's 262 without being disingenuous; for ttaM, on the other hand, Keir apparently doesn't sound unusually forceful at all.

Absolutely. I argue more aggressively (although hopefully still good-naturedly) with my real-life friends than I do on here, because I know it wouldn't go down as well here. I also swear massively more in real life. The tenor of discussion on Unfogged runs very much to the milquetoast side of the aggression spectrum.

On the other hand, there are certain types of snark which make me pretty annoyed, much more than naked aggression would, and which seem, on the whole, to be unremarkable here. There are things said in the thread above that are much more annoying than any anger or aggressive or confrontational language. So it's clearly cultural differences. And, as such, evidence that I am right and you are all wrong, of course.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 3:25 PM
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Stupid and annoying,

Is it? It sounds like a good principle - deliberately desegratating SES classes between schools - maybe poorly executed in this case.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 3:26 PM
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I prefer straight-talkers to people who hem and haw. But I don't like aggresive talk. These are different things.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 3:29 PM
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There's some combination of increased hours without pay (and if I've got this straight, the management proposal was "Work all these extra hours. X% of the hours are entirely unpaid, and the remaining Y% are paid at less than your current hourly pay.") at which point firing the teachers for not taking it does seem PATCOish.

Not so much to me if, as I take to be the case, management (a) had to make dramatic changes to retain federal funding, and (b) was fiscally constrained from giving the union what it wanted.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 3:31 PM
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but the path by which they ended up there was not exactly "agree with management or we'll fire you".

As far as I can tell from some cursory searching, the state, which has controlled the school since 1991, directed the superintendent to enforce one of four options, two of which, closure and "turnaround", would have resulted in termination of all the teachers, though in the latter case permitting a generous maximum of 50% to be rehired. The other two involved accepting these new rules or the substantially greater rewriting of rules that would come with converting to a charter school.

Maybe they should have agreed, but I don't see how this isn't in fact "agree with management or we'll fire you".

Re breach of contract, it had also also occurred to me that the teachers might have been working without a contract when this came up, but it turns out they signed a three-year contract in 2008.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 3:33 PM
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Aggression is in the eye of the beholder, to a certain extent, though, no? It's also partly context dependent, which is why you get clashes of tone between people used to arguing in different social/cultural contexts.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 3:34 PM
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320: I think the line between aggressive and straight-talking is just in a different place depending on where you're from. I'm mostly dialed way back from how I talk around people who I know and argue with in person and who trust me, and I'm still on the pushy end of things around here. And ttaM and Keir both seem quite forthright even to me, and ttaM at least is catering to our delicate sensibilities by toning it down.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 3:36 PM
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I like gentle straight-talkers. The worst is aggressive people who circumlocute. Or maybe they're just confusing.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 3:36 PM
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I had a long conversation today with a colleague who does lots of coy implications, and it drove me up the wazoo. She won't say who will be mad or why, or because of what, but believe me, someone will be mad at someone, wink-wink.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 3:40 PM
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Not so much to me if, as I take to be the case, management (a) had to make dramatic changes to retain federal funding, and (b) was fiscally constrained from giving the union what it wanted.

Sure, if management had no choice, it had no choice. I can't really take it as a given that there was fiscally no room to change its offer. Might be true, but very easily might not be.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 3:42 PM
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ttaM at least is catering to our delicate sensibilities by toning it down.

Certainly in terms of the use of bad language, definitely, and I also try to qualify statements of disagreement to make them seem less blunt. That's partly because of occasional Unfogged pearl-clutching, but also, just as much, about interacting on-line in a written medium. I'm probably not massively more aggressive in real life with strangers but you can get away with much blunter language even there because it can be softened through humour or body-language.

It's a lot easier to call someone a fucking idiot if they can see you are smiling at the time.

With closer friends and some relatives, it can be pretty gloves off because it's people, as you say, who you know and trust.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 3:42 PM
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I agree with ttaM. This crowd is, and Americans in general are, more likely to be more indirect in their arguments, but also more likely to go ad hominem when compared with discussions I've had with non-American Anglophones. The ones I know have often expressed frustration that their direct questioning and arguing was mistaken for aggression by Americans, who would then respond either by being hurt, or by coming back with ad hominem attacks. Either response had the effect of effectively ending the arguement.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 3:43 PM
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Here is a speech from US Education Secretary Arne Duncan, where he outlines what the four options are for schools in the "chronically failing" five percent category. I think it is fair to characterize this as valuing the rights of students to an education in schools over the rights of teachers (but only teachers in really, really bad schools!) to continued employment; whether you privilege one of those rights over another really does strike me as a values question.

On the question of tone, I wish people here would toughen their tone up and be OK with a bit more aggression. I do think there's been an increasing tut-tuttedness here about people making aggressive comments, which I don't like, even though I don't think I'm inclined towards a particularly aggressive style myself. But be careful what you wish for . . . .


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 3:44 PM
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I feel that the denizens of Euroblogs are more willing to accuse others of moral failures, where we prefer to accuse others of being stupid or closed-minded.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 3:45 PM
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327: That's why I said "fiscally constrained" rather than "unable". There are always choices. But schools need buildings and books and supplies and such, too.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 3:47 PM
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Actually, I like the feisty aggressive threads. I just don't like it aimed at me. (No one has been aggressive to me in ages. I'm just musing.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 3:47 PM
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On the question of tone, I wish people here would toughen their tone up and be OK with a bit more aggression. I do think there's been an increasing tut-tuttedness here about people making aggressive comments, which I don't like, even though I don't think I'm inclined towards a particularly aggressive style myself. But be careful what you wish for . . . .

This, absolutely.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 3:49 PM
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re: 331

I'm not sure how best to clearly express this thought but I think that's just a long continuing trend* where we may be slightly behind you on the downward slide, but we are on the way there as well.

* a trend, outside of hard-right or religious politics, away from a language of ethics and public/private morality.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 3:50 PM
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We should start tut-tutting the hell out of the tut-tutters at once.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 3:51 PM
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On the politenment of Unfogged, none of the newest posters are particularly agressive posters who will say something outrageous to get a rise out of everyone. This might have contributed.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 4:00 PM
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I feel that the denizens of Euroblogs are more willing to accuse others of moral failures, where we prefer to accuse others of being stupid or closed-minded.

If it in any way contributes to transatlantic comity, I'm willing to accuse people of being stupid, closed-minded, moral failures.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 4:01 PM
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I have proposed the rule before: the aggregate of the commenters shows the personality of the blogger(s).


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 4:01 PM
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How dare you insult Matthew Yglesias like that, Megan?!


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 4:08 PM
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339 -- I'm assuming the front page posters on Crooked Timber must have the most annoying personalities on earth.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 4:09 PM
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And reasonable though Kevin Drum appears, beneath that cool exterior lies a seething swamp of madness.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 4:11 PM
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Perhaps the rule breaks down over a certain size blog. But I still find the overall tone of the commenters at, say, Marginal Revolution to be different from the tone of commenters at Pioneer Woman.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 4:13 PM
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There's a relationship, but even think of your FTA commenters. Unless you have hidden schizoid depths, all those libertarians in your comment section weren't reflecting your personality so much as reacting to it, if you see what I mean.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 4:15 PM
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Well, I was in the odd situation that almost all of my traffic was sent to me by Tyler. I didn't have an audience before he linked to me regularly. So my commenters were pre-screened. Even so, I thought they pretty much got me right. I wasn't libertarian, but I was also argumentative and relentless, like those fuckers (until I gave the whole business up). (Also sometimes funny and nice.)


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 4:22 PM
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On the politenment of Unfogged, none of the newest posters are particularly agressive posters who will say something outrageous to get a rise out of everyone. This might have contributed.

My theory is that the new posters are less comfortable being wrong than ogged was.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 4:34 PM
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In heebie's case, that'd be explained by less practice with it.

(Me, I'm usually wrong. Sure of myself, of course.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 4:37 PM
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So post more already!


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 4:42 PM
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No idea what people are complaining about in Keir's tone. Folks are disagreeing here, that's all.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 4:42 PM
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348: Dude, work is kicking my ass. Today is the only day this week I'm not in court, and tomorrow's appearance should be a doozy. I expect to come out with severe damage to my psyche.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 4:44 PM
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350: So who do we need to blow?

(And sympathies and commiseration.)


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 4:46 PM
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The economy -- the office is understaffed, and we're not hiring, but people keep on suing us.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 4:51 PM
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And man, do I need to buy some more suits.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 4:52 PM
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352: I blame the governor.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 4:56 PM
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352: Sounds familiar. Except for the suits. I don't even own one any more.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 5:08 PM
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Actually, I like the feisty aggressive threads. I just don't like it aimed at me. (No one has been aggressive to me in ages. I'm just musing.)

heebie geebie may be a co-opted neo-liberal tool!

Ricard Estes on the UC Berkeley Academic Senate

They have a warped understanding of how power works. They think that calming people outside was keeping the people inside safe, when it was really the opposite: the only thing that was keeping the folks inside safe was people being rowdy outside. In the end, the negotiators were doing the job of the state.

When the riots and student occupations come to South Tejas, what will heebie do? What will the rest do?

As long as I am trolling way down here, and recognizing that Mish is on the opposite side, I read things like this post about Christie in NJ because Mish is my central source for the "Shock Doctrine" now being applied at the state and local level. Maybe you thought Obama wanted to help the states. No, he wants them to do the dirty work and take the blame.

It wasn't about bad teachers in RI.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 5:12 PM
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ttaM upthread a bit: there are certain types of snark which make me pretty annoyed

I'm curious. Would you supply an example or two?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 5:13 PM
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Be sure to name names, and attribute motive. Otherwise we won't really understand.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 5:16 PM
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See, I read the RI story and I think "Shock Doctrine" It's all about the money and power.

I can't believe how complacent this nation is as we are being rapidly turned into a feudalistic plutocracy, a banana republic.

Bush did not do this. Obama is doing this.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 5:17 PM
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re: 357

There are some in this thread, but it would be unduly divisive to single them out. I have in mind the combination of a certain kind of sarcasm, and the imputation of a view to their interlocutor that they clearly don't hold. But it's hard to explain without singling actual commentators out.



Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 5:20 PM
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360 doesn't say anything that "I don't like a certain kind of snark" doesn't already.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 5:23 PM
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360 -- If we were playing basketball, I think I'd hold up my hand.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 5:25 PM
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re: 362

Heh. My lips are sealed!

||

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/8543066.stm

Causing me a certain amount of private glee ...

>


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 5:26 PM
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If he were handing out yummy food, I'd definitely hold up my hand.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 5:43 PM
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I'm sad I missed a meta-thread. Not sad enough to read it, particularly, but definitely misty.

Also, you're all just awful, awful people.

And I'm totally from Europe.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 5:53 PM
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Mostly not a meta thread at all. But Heebie screwed it up at the end!


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 5:53 PM
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I was provacative and outrageous and got everyone riled up, like a good poster.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 6:21 PM
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Hey Bob, did you ever see 150 above?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 6:22 PM
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Also, is it common to eat the rind on the cheese?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 6:22 PM
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It is common to use cheese rind in flavoring soups or pasta (in the water)


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 6:27 PM
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Further to 370, you can also add ketamine, a combination referred to as "bump and rind" in some circles.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 6:36 PM
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370: AWB recommended this ages ago and it has made for a very happy Turkey Soup tradition at Chez Kotimy.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 6:36 PM
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Using the rind to flavor soup or pasta is just as common in the country as people in the city.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 6:38 PM
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How common are people in the city, in the country?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 6:45 PM
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With soft cheeses (Brie and such like) it's common but not required.

Common people


Posted by: Jimmy Pongo | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 6:53 PM
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Speculation above that the mass firing was, at least in part, a dramatic negotiating gambit may not be all that far off base!


Posted by: emdash | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 6:57 PM
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There was a metathread? I've read the thread backwards (upside down). 318 is good. I don't think it's a matter of cultural differences. Though. Nick's link in 346 seems right; I'd never read that before.

Carry on!


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 7:27 PM
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Though. Nick's link in 346 seems right; I'd never read that before.

Yay. Looking at the linked thread, I believe that was the first comment of mine to receive the praise of "X gets it exactly right."

Sad thread, though. When I got to LB's comment, I think there's a "Clap your hands if you believe in fairies" effect going on. I went and read several of the posts on that page and felt like it was a long time ago, which was both sad and reassuring.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 8:15 PM
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a school board in a densely populated former mill town in Rhode Island, or Rhode Island in general, is likely to be made up of people who are quite pro-union on principle. It's not like this is happening in Columbus, Georgia.

The town is 48% latino, and that population is likely to be overrepresented in the district as a good chunk of the white kids will be in parochial schools. With those demographics, your average NE former mill town white guy is not going to think too highly of local public services in general, and public education in particular. I presume this is why the school was allowed to get so shitty in the first place, and I don't see how mass firings are going to change the fact that tax base funding the school and the student population are so divergent. I certainly don't think the locale lends any credibility to the policy.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 8:31 PM
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Just to say that seemed an entirely fair discussion of me.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 03- 3-10 10:55 PM
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I suspect that at federal level it's a function of size - elections are more expensive to run if you have an electorate of half a million than 75k. But why it's also the case at state level I can't see.

Some states have fairly large economies, even if it's only in a few industries, so there's still incentive to spend a lot on elections even if it's just the state level. Also, campaign spending and campaign disclosure laws are often weaker at the state level, so in some places people who max out federally at $2300 can spend over $10,000 to $15,000 on campaign donations at the state level. Some states don't have any limits, though that appears to be changing.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03- 4-10 3:56 AM
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380: I was curious how you'd read it.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 4-10 7:54 AM
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