Thursday, July 13, 2017

CURMUDGUCATION: NY: Warm Bodies for Charters + A Very Special Busted Pencils

CURMUDGUCATION: NY: Warm Bodies for Charters:

NY: Warm Bodies for Charters

Travel with me to a board meeting at Giant Imaginary Hospital.

Board Member #1: We are still unable to fill several openings in the surgical department. What shall we do?

Board Member #2: We'll just have to offer a more competitive package, with better pay and better perks. I mean, that's how the free market works, right?   

Board Member #3: I have a better idea. Let's just promote Sven.

Board Member #2: Sven Svenberger? From the kitchen at the GIH cafeteria?

Board Member #3: Sure. He uses knives. Surgeon use knives. 

Board Member #2: But we're talking about surgery on actual humans. He's a cook, Jim. Not a doctor.

Board Member #3: Fine. We'll give him a week of training. 

Many starts have been having versions of this conversation as they pass their own version of warm body legislation, legislation that puts pretty much any warm body in the classroom.

But New York is considering a particularly special warm body rule that's especially for charter schools. The State University of New York (SUNY) is one of the main authorizers of charters in New York, and they've proposed that their charter schools be allowed to hire unqualified warm bodies for their schools. These warm bodies might have just thirty hours of classroom experience and training. That's almost a week. 

Why do this? Because charters are too damn cheap to pay teachers a decent wage or offer them attractive working conditions. Or as Times-Union coverage of the story puts it:

Charter school advocates say the proposal would help schools that are struggling to find quality teachers who are certified in New York.

Okay, I could go up to $10.95

Sigh. Why do we have to keep explaining to free market fans how the free market works. If I can't buy a Lexus for $1.95, that doesn't suggest either an automobile shortage or that I "struggling to find quality automobiles." It suggests that I am offering an inadequate "bid" for the goods and services that I want. 

Is that impossible to accomplish? Well, Success Academy (one of SUNY's chains) reportedly employed 1,000 staffers in 2014, and their boss, Eva Moscowitz makes almost $5 million  
CURMUDGUCATION: NY: Warm Bodies for Charters:

A Very Special Busted Pencils

BustED Pencils

I find it extraordinary difficult to find time to take in podcasts. I'm a text guy; I want to consume information through words that I see (I say very Awful Things when a news site tries to make me watch a video).

But there are two education podcasts that I try to listen to regularly. Have You Heard I've plugged before, but I am also a fan of BustED Pencils, a podcast that has been around for a few years and which brings a decidedly rock and roll sensibility to its work. Host Tim Slekar started out as a classroom teacher and now holds down a college gig (and he has the added virtue of being familiar with my little corner of the world. 

The podcast features some fun and quirky features, including a regular What Would Matt Damon's Mom Say feature, and they land some great interviews, including semi-regular appearances by Alfie Kohn. Working your way through the episodes gives you the chance to hear some of your favorite public ed advocates in their own voices (and yes, I was on the show once). The podcast is timely, peppy, and always on the current edge of what's going on. 

But I want to draw extra attention to the most recent episode, which retains the usual sharp, energetic quality of BustED Pencils, but it looks at a deeper topic than usual-- mental health in schools. Dr. Slekar kicks the episode off with an honest an open discussion of his own struggles as a student, and then the episode goes on to deal with issues of suicide and fostering caring students. 

The episode-- What Aren't We Talking About and Why-- is worth your time and attention. These are A Very Special Busted Pencils