If it came out of Jody’s mouth, we’re frantically trying to add it here!
We’re updating this page constantly throughout the morning, so refresh often!
We have a few things going on this morning…
5:45AM – Notes from the News
6:45AM – We’re going to talk ‘Hollywood’ with Mike Evans, the Hollywood Insider.
7:50AM – They Walk Among Us
Now, on to your morning links!
1. The Grammy’s
4. Emails from School Teachers
Dear Mr. Dean and the Morning Team,
I heard your brief conversation this morning regarding school funding and wanted to offer this perspective. If you choose to read this letter or selected parts of it on the air, please do not read my name. My job, as well as my credibility, will come under fire and although I may lose my job anyway, I would prefer not to have my character attacked.
Our state has known for the past two years we would be facing deep across the board budget problems; however, the Texas constitution only allows the legislature to meet every biennium, therefore, nothing could be done until this year’s session. That is only part of the problem. The other problem is that some districts continually overspend on high district administration salaries, unnecessary district employees, and frivolous or unnecessary things. Then, realizing they are overbudget, they use scare tactics on the unsuspecting taxpayers making it appear that the students will suffer if they do not approve a bond election. I am sure it would require a statutory change, but I would rather see the overpaid school district administration employees be eliminated or take a pay cut before they eliminate teacher positions. The Texas Tribune offers a view of what government employees (including some school districts) across the state are making. Unfortunately, they do not have many school districts listed but here are a few links you might find interesting: Dallas ISD http://www.texastribune.org/library/data/government-employee-salaries/dallas-isd/, Ft. Worth ISD http://www.texastribune.org/library/data/government-employee-salaries/search/?q=fort+worth+isd, Rockwall ISD http://www.texastribune.org/library/data/government-employee-salaries/search/?q=rockwall+isd. For further information see this link: http://www.texastribune.org/library/data/government-employee-salaries/
The teachers that do not lose their jobs are facing the issue of increased class sizes (as if discipline in the classroom were not bad enough already.) There have been lobbyists in Austin attempting to remove the cap on elementary classroom size for at least the past couple of years citing the budget problem as their justification. If you are the product, as I am, of classrooms that regularly had thirty-four plus students you will remember that most of the teacher’s time was spent in crowd control. The saving grace for students at that time was the fact that teachers were not ordered to meet the demands of every ridiculous state and district mandated test created to prove that the teacher was teaching what they should and the students were learning. Instead, teachers were allowed the freedom and flexibility to really teach and by this I mean placing emphasis where they felt it was required, spending extra time on what they saw students struggling with, and incorporate hands-on and real world experiences to their lessons. And discipline was not a problem because the students were always busy - but not rushed to the point of distraction. In that atmosphere, most excelled. Compare that to today, when students are rushed through everything. And psychologists wonder why we have an increase in excitability and hyperactivity. Students are never allowed any time to simply work slowly, taking their time to digest what they are learning.
I blame the advent of high stakes testing on the current rushed learning process. Many districts feel their teachers should ”hurry up and cram the material down the students’ throats without worrying about their understanding” because they have to get through a certain amount of material before the TAKS test. This leaves little room for teachers to spend any kind of quality time preparing our students for the next grade level, much less college and life. Instead, countless hours are spent monthly teaching students how to pass the TAKS test. This does nothing to actually teach them the material necessary for higher learning – it simply teaches them a technique for gauging how a question is worded and how to eliminate answer choices. In other words, if they do not know or understand the material they learn how to second guess the multiple choice answers to arrive at what they think may be the correct answer to the question to produce better test scores for the district. To top that off, some districts create a scope and sequence based on what the students need to know before that subject and grade level’s TAKS test. The scope and sequence tells teachers (what they should know already because of educator preparation, professional development, and hopefully a desire to stay up to date on TEKS/TAKS requirements) exactly what to teach, when to teach it, and how many days or weeks should be spent on it. This creates a need for more people in the administration building because you have to employ sometimes multiple people to create the scope and sequence. There are districts that spend additional resources employing coordinators (at the administrative as well as campus level) who create tests for the teachers to give their students. The coordinators at the campus level are in charge of ferrying the tests from the administration building to the campus and back.
My advice to every parent is to become aware of what is going on in the schools your children attend. I realize we are all overworked with little time, but if you can volunteer at the schools do it. Better yet, if you are unemployed and looking for a way to make a little money try to get on the school’s substitute list. The best way to see how your district is managing its money is to see it from the inside. Most districts are top heavy – there are people in the administration building that can and should be cut before teachers or bond elections. It is time to stand up for children, they are our future. Hopefully this information will help.
I heard on the radio this morning that “furlough” days are not possible for teachers because of state laws. The laws, however, could be changed if the legislature wanted to help the school districts and teachers survive. A form of this has been proposed in Arlington and would amount to approximately 3% pay cut. This would save teachers jobs, and student class sizes.
Too bad this is not the plan proposed by the AISD. Their plan is similar to DISD, cut teachers and direct administrators, principles and assistants in the schools. The plan also proposes a 5% cut in the central administration budgets. This means less classroom supplies, cleaning supplies, maintenance, etc. Teachers in some schools currently have to supply their own copy paper because the current budgets do not adequately support the teachers needs. We will still have the same superintendant, assistant superintendants, directors, and their staffs.
You are right on when you said that we have been running very fat in the schools. Unfortunately this has not been in the classroom and the cuts will likely be made there first.
I keep hearing about the states “rainy day fund”. The superintendant said that AISD had a “rainy day fund” but if they used that the district would be bankrupt in three years. He then proceeded to tell parents and teachers to call on the state to use their “rainy day fund”. DUH! Would this not do the same thing to the state without addressing the problem of matching expenses to revenue? YOU JUST CAN’T FIX STUPID!
We need teachers and teachers aids that directly support the students learning. We do not need directors earning $150K per year for “dropout prevention”. My solution would also include layoff of some directors and keep their administrative assistants (secretaries). They are probably doing most of the work anyway.
5. Mike Evans
7. Bebe’s Bites
9. Hockey Fight
15. Valentine’s Day Restaurants
Dallas Chop House, Sardine’s, Buscatti, Grimauldie’s, Terra, Cafe Ismir, Central 214, Nona Tatta, Lily’s Bistro, Patrizzio’s, Bailey’s Prime, and Cashrell