Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Liv Finne School Wouldn't Be Much of a School At All

Over at Washington Policy Blog from the Washington Policy Center they've got a blogger by the name of Liv Finne. She runs their education policy center and has a ton of ideas that I don't agree with, which is fine because hey, diff'rent strokes and all.

Today, though, her post tied into the Kent teacher's strike is just asinine.
Today, the Seattle Times reports that Lisa Brackin Johnson, president of the Kent teachers' union, has led Kent teachers into striking against their students.
As a local president, I'll personally attest that on something like this the president is more of a follower than a leader. When 86% of the members vote to do something, it's because they want to do it, not because of prompting from their leadership. Liv's attempt to personalize it by calling out Brackin-Johnson by name is silly.
If principals were in charge of their school budget and staffing decisions, teachers would feel that they are connected to, and part of, the important budget decisions that affect them, including the number of students assigned to their classrooms.
This simply must be true, because there has never been a teacher--ever, in all of history--who has disagreed with their principal. Similarly, there has never been a bad principal. The solution is obviously to give them more power, because that's what teachers are clammoring for.
This strike is not only illegal, but entirely unnecessary. Washington's schools receive over $10,000 per student from all state, federal and local sources. Each class of 20 students receives $200,000, which should allow their principals, not a statewide single salary scale, to determine teacher pay, to pay the best teachers up to $100,000, and to take the rest to run the school.
This is a math fail of such magnitude that it's hard to even know where to begin.

Firstly, I wish that she had linked to a source for her $10,000 figure, because the most recent data from OSPI puts the figure at $9,344.

Secondly, as any small school advocate will tell you, if those 20 kids are high schoolers who require an english teacher, a science teacher, and a social studies teacher, you've suddenly spent this mythical $200,000 without even paying the electric bill.

But the real heart of dumbness is in the next paragraph (emphasis mine):
As for the class size complaint so often heard in these strikes, this link from the OSPI website shows that the state funds enough certificated instructors to provide class sizes of 18 students. Too many teachers are simply not teaching, instead drawing salary by reviewing curriculum, administrating, or fulfilling some other less essential function. This link from the OSPI website shows that out of a total of 103,614 public school employees, less than half, or 49,146, are actual elementary or secondary school teachers.

But wait a minute....if it sounds too weird too be true, it just might be. Follow her second link and take a look at that second chart, and look at who Liv says is just "simply not teaching" and "fulfilling some other less essential function":
  • 1,240 Librarians
  • 2,122 Counselors
  • 989 Speech-Language Pathologists
  • 888 School Psychologists
  • 436 School Nurses
  • 325 Occupational Therapists
  • 116 Physical Therapists
  • 5,211 "Other Teachers", which the OSPI defines as "Instructs students in ungraded classes, special education, gifted, disadvantaged, early childhood, home/hospital, and adult education."
  • 3,339 "Operators", which is the fancy way that OSPI categorizes bus drivers.
....and a host of others, including all of the principals that she wants to give more power to. The numbers above add up to another 14,666 employees who I'd consider pretty important to the operation of a school, not "less essential."

In Liv's world, the Air Force should only have pilots, not mechanics, because it's the pilots who fly the plane, so clearly they're the only resource that matters.

Similarly, Hollywood should fire all the foley artists and FX professionals because it's the actors and the actors alone who make movies what they are. "Lights!" and "Camera!" are only preludes to "Action!", after all.

A hospital can be made up of only general practitioners, because really, that should be enough--who ever needs to see a specialist? Any teacher should be able to handle any reading difficulty, because aren't all learning disabilities pretty much the same?

You're going to walk to the Liv Finne school, because the bus drivers are clearly unimportant. You're not going to get any music, art, or PE at the Liv Finne school, because those aren't classroom teachers. Don't you dare be disabled at the Liv Finne school, because there are no OT or PT specialists to help you, much less the special ed support staff to help make sure that you're acquiring the skills you need. If your dad is an alcoholic and you're thinking of ending your life, you keep that to yourself at the Liv Finne school, because counselors are not teaching.

If you'll excuse me, I'm off to watch the video for "Another Brick in the Wall", because it totally fits what I'm envisioning the Liv Finne school to be.

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Blogger Dr Pezz said...

Have you been to the McAuliffe traveling show regarding HB 2261?

10:39 AM  

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