Monday, May 11, 2009

Do As I Say...Not As I Do Part 2

A belated "Bravo" to Brenda Ritzen, Co-Creator of the Eden Prairie Schools Parents Forum for this recent commentary in the EP News on Superintendent Melissa Krull's compensation.

From the piece:

Two weeks ago there was a commentary in the Eden Prairie News about City Manager Scott Neal’s compensation.

The argument was made that at a time when many of our citizens are freezing or decreasing wages, we should not be increasing compensation for our public employees, especially considering some of the perks included in Mr. Neal’s contract.

The same argument could be made regarding the Eden Prairie School Superintendent, Dr. Melissa Krull.

Dr. Krull could potentially receive on average approximately $225,000 per year.

I sure hope some of these active parents will field a school board candidate- goodness knows there's discontent with Jim Mortenson- one of the Board Members up for re-election this fall. The guy who made the proposal to move public comments from the beginning of school board meetings to the end...a true proponent for open government I'd say!

I support a major consolidation of state education resources by drastically cutting administrative costs by consolidating school districts while mantaning more active, powerful local school boards. If Krull alone is taking in that much money in one Minnesota school district then think about how much money we spend on administration when Minnesota has:

"339 independent school districts, three intermediate districts, five integration districts, 17 education districts, four tribal schools, 20 cooperative districts, 9 telecommunications districts, and 136 charter schools."

But- hey- that's just me. With the Teacher's Union promoting the continued lie that more funding = lower class sizes vs. more bureaucracy- I doubt many would buy into such a radical change to the way we fund School Districts.

I continue to be amazed by the fact that public-sector employees continue to receive raises year after year in spite of a bad economy. Obviously this isn't true for everybody. I know a longtime hourly employee for the City of Eden Prairie who informed me last week that their department head is telling all employees that there is a salary freeze in place- while at the same time hiring new hourly employees at higher hourly rates than people who have been there for years.

Is there a salary freeze for hourly employees at the city? Scott Neal, City Manager, has asked departments to propose budgets with spending cuts- isn't that funny when he himself hasn't taken any cut to his $138,000 a year job?

It was my understanding that the Eden Prairie Taxpayer's Alliance had proposed salary freezes for those at the top- not those at the bottom. It's unfortunate that those at the top of the public dole have no problem taking these raises while they issue edicts to departments to cut their staffs' pay.


Jim said...

I'm not totally convinced that a class size of 20 is really that much worse than a class size of 16. I can't confirm, but I seem to remember always having between 20 and 30 kids in my classes. Of course, some college lectures have a 100+ people.

Sheila said...

No- me either.

I think that smaller classes are important for younger kids-- and then it phases out as they get older.

I asked my parents the other day- they both remember 40+ kids in their elementary school classes-- so the low-class size mantra is usually smoke and mirrors- just something that has worked for Education MN to get more money.

Cool Gal said...

I might add that lower class sizes make a big difference in the lower grades. I have had class sizes of 19-27 in first grade.

It's easy to argue that we grew-up with larger class sizes, but things were much different when we were kids. Kids were much different. Parents were much different.

Mainstreaming, for one, has made for some pretty interesting dynamics in classrooms nowadays.

I've had children who eat glue, crawl on the floor while meowing like cats, throw scissors, shoes, pencils, and just about anything they can get their hands on, bawling like babies for hours, spitting on other kids, ruining their work, physically hitting and pushing, swearing like drunkin' sailors, and wiping crap on the bathroom stalls.

Now try to imagine they are a handful of kids all in your classroom the same year.

Factor in all the "regular" active 6-7 year olds, plus curriculum, parents, and all the different learning styles and it makes for one pretty interesting year(Some days it was hard to get anything done. And I worked in an excellent school. Always 5 stars.).

Lower number, equals less "problem" children, equals a better learning environment.

I believe smaller class sizes would make a big difference, but it's never going to happen. It's just the districts way of trying to get a levy passed. They tell you what you want to hear, but then use the money to hire "literacy leaders" or some other administrative position that means nothing to the classroom teacher.

It's really sad and for $36,000 a year, not worth it!

Sheila said...

I agree with you Cool Gal also-
my mom mentioned that the teachers had total control and kids were not allowed to get away with anything.

You are right about how mainstreaming has affected the modern classroom-- it's really a quandary.

Cool Gal said...

Yup, I remember when I was a kid one of the fifth grade teachers got mad at one of the boys in my class and picked him up by the shirt and threw him against the wall. Didn't hurt him, just shook him up a bit. Kids listened and if they didn't this is what happened. Not today.

Can you imagine if something like that happened today?

The kids and parents are running the show and they know it. It's just too bad the other kids have to suffer.

Jim said...

I certainly remember disruptive kids, but they went off to detention rather quickly. However, this "mainstreaming" may have picked up since I was going and maybe the ones I saw weren't as bad or numerous as what goes on now.

I can see 1 out of 25 being disruptive enough, but when 10% of the kids are screwballs and having 30 kids means 3 disruptive ones, I can see the desire to reduce class size to remove the number of disruptive kids... so 15-20 is one or two nuts instead of three or four.

Maybe "mainstreaming" is a good idea, maybe it's a bad idea. Maybe there are individual circumstances that no sweeping legislation can cover. Nope, the feds tell you what to do and threaten your funding if you don't.

The joys of more federal mandates to tinker with the education system.

This article appeared in a quick search and was a mildly interesting discussion of the subject.

I don't have much fact or proof, but I also have a creeping suspicion that many kids who are just normal energetic young kids or who are just poorly disciplined are diagnosed as autistic or in need of some medication. Not that some don't have real problems, but I suspect (again, with no real evidence) that there are some who are improperly labeled as disabled when they aren't really and others who are medicated when they should just learn to control themselves.