Thursday, October 29, 2009

An Inside Look At GTA ...

CoffeeReady said**...

A bit off topic I know but I got this newsletter by chance and I thought that you may be interested in a few blurbs under GTA news:
Does a good teacher need a union?

A good teacher cares about the pupils...

A good teacher cares about the quality of teaching...

A good teacher cares about his/her family and knows that one needs a defined school day to set essential boundries between personal and prof. life. We are PAINFULLY aware of the obligation to provide for the material needs of our family, and make no excuses about our concern for adequate salary. (greed spun into a poor me tune)

A good teacher knows that one alone can not negotiate the condition requisite to a healthy teaching and normal family life.

A good teacher knows that to guarantee theses conditions, each must band together will all other good teachers- in a union.

( then a little blurb)

Team GTA; Big thanks to those who dedicated time to opeing day GTA rally. As we enter our 4th year with no contract we commend those who go above and beyong to show support ( IE t-shirt wearing friday's)

Althought the first event was very successful, we must be candid and let you know...if we are going to make positive change your attendence MUST increase! Our attendence at these event are recongnized by local community leaders and influences their willingness to work with us and listen to our concerns. We hope to see you soon. ( they really don't get that it is the tax payer paying for them, not the local leaders. And this shows they don;t care what john q public thinks as long as they get the support of those that influnce the BOE)

CoffeeReady- I need a pot.   10/29/2009 8:35 AM
** (SCATS took the liberty of fixing a few of the typos to make this easier to read. I think we can all relate to that need for a cup of coffee ;)


Charlie Hubbard said...

I encourage any and all to read the contract. Then please contact me when you find 'anything' in that contract that promotes educational improvement, anything that promotes excellence (accountability).

Contracts are nothing but 'giveaways' of taxpayers $$ for which taxpayers receive nothing but a higher tax bill. All who signed the present contract had niether the interest of either taxpayers or our kids.

This is the public education monopoly on display.
ENTITLEMENT on parade.
As I have said before this contract is so bad you don't even have to go to work and WE give you yet another raise.
Why should our kids NOT think this is how the real world works?

SCATS said...

To Charlie ~~ I wouldn't wait by your phone for too long ;)

Anonymous said...

We come in second again. Greece income loss, the second largest in the region. And the teachers want more support!

Kodak triples the cost of health care premiums for retirees. And the teachers want a better contract.

My head hurts!

Anonymous said...

Being a public employee also, which I am sure that I will be bashed for, the one question I have to ask is who approves the contracts?

I know who approves my contract...the very person who claims that they have no money. Doesn't make sense to me either but I will take my 2% raise. Along with my raise I got nice hefty increase in payment for my medical insurance. Net gross - about $20 a pay check.

A public servant.

CoffeeReady said...

Public servant I appreciate your post, and like many teachers they themsleves get what is in the contract and should not be bashed. I find fault that in this community we have a small percentage that use the schools, many can barley pay the taxes on homes, we are loosing money via the decreasing average home income and cost rise for contract with no clauses for cost control.

That being said, I have difficulty finding the union proposal on the reduction of spending. I believe that the BOE turned down the proposed cuts.

I would like to see the district present a bare obones budget, only that of which is required by the state to be provided, ( no stipends or clubs, coaches salaries, choice bussing,ect) and present a budget with proposal to reinstate with the budgetay dollar attached to the options/packages)In addition to this a contract with merit raises, not given tiers, and a reasonable contribution by employee to the benefits. Not 90%...becasue with health care rising more that 10% each year this is an uncontrolled cost for the tax payers.

Also for those that do not know already the Union did change the benefits to like that of which the city did last week. Based on teh "health" of your group the rate willbe determined. Rather that I believe tha communty based rates. While that was a savings to the district I see no consessions on the actual %of cotributions.

Lastly Charlie, while I did not see anything in the contract for accountabilty, I have seen at two schools that mychildren attend, plans for accountability that are building specific. I know that this is not what you mean per se, but in some schools there are good administrators holding teachers accountable by measurable goals. I have experienced first hand with 2 of my kids.

And sorry for the speeling errors I am pressed for time and I am not a typist :)

Anonymous said...

I would love for my salary to be based on my performance as a teacher(I think I work harder and do a better job than most), but can someone explain how you are going to evaluate myself(a math teacher) in relation to an art teacher, 2nd grade teacher, science teacher, etc.. I have yet to hear an actual solution to this.

SCATS said...

To 4:43PM ~~ I don't think that all teaching jobs are created equally. Comparing the "performance" of a Kindergarten gym teacher to a HS French teacher is ludicrous! There would have to be some distinctions made, IMHO. Perhaps math, science and technology teachers get reviewed based on certain "standards" and English, Social Studies, and foreign language teachers get reviewed based on a different set of standards. Gym teachers, librarians, counselors might form a third grouping. I'm sure it could be done should someone be motivated in that direction.

Anonymous said...

What do teachers pay a month for health insurance these days?

Anonymous said...

I have to say not as greece teacher but having lots of teaching experience that our union was vital in protecting teachers from abusive practices by administrators .

Unions are certainly needed.
More than ever

SCATS said...

To 7:22PM ~~ I don't believe the union protected Greece teachers when Steve Walts was Supt. Ultimately, that's why GCSD ended up defending against a bunch of EEOC lawsuits.

CoffeeReady said...

4:43 I really don't have one specific answer. I have a suggestion that I think would clear a lot of the smoke around grades and standards in our district. Have a uniform grading policy.

For example in the MS, teachers use point systems. The kids in the classes are not given at the start of the quarter the total points able to be earned. This is a problem for 2 reasons. There is not clear expectation of what is required to achieve said letter grade, and second if the class on an average is scoring low the teacher can adjust point values to mask the actual achievement. It happens and I have experienced it.

A child that scores barely a 2 on the math state assessments "magically " has a B in math. Only when I question how is this possible I am shown the points. AHHH the bonus points to raise a test score, the re-take of the test, the point for homework effort not is all there the "D" student creatively packaged as a "B".

Move ahead one year after months of tutoring and summer sessions, student is understanding, shows clear knowledge of concepts and grade comes home as a "B", so I ask for the data, test scores, quizzes and review all shows "A's and one B" yet grade is a "B". Child wants to know how to get an "A " there is not an answer as there is a point system and the total point shave not yet been determined. How can a student shoot for the "finish line" when none has been set.

This is the primary reason our state scores do not reflect that of actual student achievement. It is manipulated data, and until the district mandates a grade system that is uniform from teacher to teacher ( subject specific of course) we will not have real measurable data of performance. Grades have become subjective, the assessments through the year that we need should not be an excuse to not setting clear expectations so that the parents and students know what an "A" or "B"...curves can no longer be accepted by the parents. To teach to the individual child they must first acknowledge that grades are individual and not based on class averages.

The BOE must take control of this no matter the philosophical reasons teachers have for the way they grade. The bottom line is the grades do not match the real level of achievement so an over haul is in order. The extreme measures of inclusion that have made in blasphemous to even suggest homogenous groupings must be re-evaluated. While peer modeling can be successful, in classes of data and facts, to have 20 students all over the map in terms of understanding, it makes sense to group so that intense focus can happen to bridge the gap of those behind, take the average...above and the high average to accelerated. Back to basics in many areas would be a step forward for our district!

Anonymous said...

To 7:22PM ~~ I don't believe the union protected Greece teachers when Steve Walts was Supt. Ultimately, that's why GCSD ended up defending against a bunch of EEOC lawsuits.

My question for SCATS, what was the outcome for the lawsuits? The Union did defend the teachers and they won.

The District brought 3020A charges against some of the employees that were in the EEOC lawsuits. The Union defended them and they were victorious!!!

The BOE had to vote on bringing these 3020A charges. Can someone tell me what the vote was? Was it unanimous? Was the BOE ignorant or were they duped?

I know the answer, because it doesn't matter what year it is. Whether it is the Walts Administration or the Achramovitch Administration. It is all the same. THE BOE ARE PLAYED AS FOOLS BY GCSD ADMINISTRATION.

Trust me, the Walts era is happening all over again. I have personal information that there are some top administrators that appreciated Walts tactics and they are using the same tactics against those that speak up for what is right.

What did Walts practices get the taxpayer? I think everyone knows the answer.

To all BOE members who read this, be careful and pay attention and question EVERYTHING that is brought to you by GCSD Administration. It will save the district money in the future. For example, THE STIPEND YOU GAVE TO THE RETIRED TEACHER!

This is not entirely Achramovitch's fault. He is being played by his own administration.

I can't believe I am actually defended him.

An Insider

Anonymous said...


As one of the people who were a part of the EEOC lawsuits I am offended by your statement that he Union did not defend me. They did defend me and we won our case. That is exactly why GCSD wasted taxpayer dollars defending the EEOC lawsuits. This lawsuit could have been settled for "pennies on the dollar". But the BOE sat back and let my lawsuit continue.

Breaking news-Yankees winning 3-1

SCATS said...

To Coffee ~~ You've described indepth what I've referred to as students grades reflecting what they did instead of what they know. Did they do homework? Yes? They get points. Was the homework mostly correct? DOESN'T MATTER/DOESN'T COUNT towards points. The extra credit, grading on a curve, re-doing tests just adds to the watering down of grades. In the end, the masses get named on Honor Roll but can't score a 3 on a state reading test!

SCATS said...

To 10:17 & 10:37PM ~~ I'm sorry I didn't explain myself fully before. What I intended to convey was that if the union had been on the ball and taken the Walts tiger by the tail early on, those lawsuits may well have been avoided.

From this vantage point (community member), it appears that your union rarely steps up and represents you in the things that should really matter. Student discipline, inadequate classroom supplies (that was a hallmark of the Walts era), lack of support by administration ... etc. What we do hear about is raises, raises and health care. Did I mention raises?

Anonymous said...

Scats, since you seem to be knowledgeable on FOIL requests. Can you foil an administrators credentials?

Anonymous said...

to CoffeeReady, I have been saying this for a couple of years to my family and friends. I would love to see the State come up with a bare bones budget. Eliminate everything that in non essential to running government. I would love to see what the savings would be.

Anonymous said...

I have been admonished in my annual review for advocating for supplies for my students.
As for support from the administration, I had requested help from the district for an unruly student. They waited over three months before providing it. Then it was inadequate.
Charlie, you ought to be glad you are not on the BOE anymore. you moule be disgusted about what is happening. It would be nice to hear some of your comments on these matters.

An Insider

SCATS said...

To 11:11PM ~~ You can make a FOIL request for nearly anything. What they MUST provide though is limited. Logically, it seems like an administrator's credentials would usually be part of the public record. I'm saying this because when a new principal, superintendent or other "high level" employee is interviewed or hired and welcomed to the district, their credentials are frequently touted when they are introduced. If anyone has anything more specific, please jump in and add to the discussion.

SCATS said...

To 11:14PM ~~ I'd like to see something similar tried in GCSD. BACK TO BASICS. My new mantra is that we can't be everything to everyone, so it's better to provide the core educational needs and do it well.

SCATS said...

To An Insider ~~ What does your union say about these situations? Why aren't they speaking up at BOE meetings? If they aren't part of the solution ... why are you paying them dues? I'm not trying to minimize your situation. It's just that you're demonstrating the point I tried to make earlier. The public sees & hears from GTA about contracts and little more. Based on that, I hate to say it but Charlie Hubbard makes a pretty good case when he says there can't be anything wrong in the buildings because if there were, GTA would let us know. Are other teachers having similar troubles? Maybe as a group you need to approach your building rep.

Anonymous said...

you are 100% right. I am a parent who has children who plays hockey for your district. Throughout the years we have paid 10's of thousands of dollars to play in youth hockey. Why do the taxpayers have to chip in for us to play. I would gladly pay for my kid to play high school hockey. Make parents accountable. Get rid of chess club, bowling, everything if you, the parent, will not pay for it.

I can't imagine the savings it would create. Imagine the costs, gas for buses, bus drivers, coaches, fees for bowling alleys, lighting for the football, soccer fields, ice costs for hockey, baseball bats, softball get the picture. Millions in savings. As a parent I would be glad to pay for it just to keep my child busy and out of trouble.

Anonymous said...

If you speak up you are admonished. That is the protocol in GCSD. The GTA is there to help us when they do these things. I am not sure why GTA doesn't standup more often. However reading a lot on this website maybe they don't want to classified as "cry babies". The public gets tired of hearing the same thing.

An Insider

SCATS said...

To 11:47PM ~~ I really am not advocating that everything "extra" be ditched. My problem is that I keep looking at those LENGTHY lists of stipends, coaching fees, etc that the BOE approves every month and I have no idea what the underlying purpose is for half of those clubs or activities. I saw one recently that sounds like we've created a new stipend-funded position for someone to oversee the tech crews who do lighting for a particular school's musical. In the past, parent VOLUNTEERS were used. If you can't get the parents TO VOLUNTEER, then maybe we don't need the activity. We're paying ridiculous amounts of $$ to get teachers to do things before or after school that they should enjoy doing simply because they are dedicated professionals. If a teacher won't volunteer to oversee chess club, and a parent won't commit, then the solution is easy. Bye, bye chess club.

SCATS said...

To An Insider @ 11:55PM ~~ I think it would be A BREATH OF FRESH AIR to hear GTA advocate for something that directly impacts the kids for a change! Discipline, supplies, textbooks ... especially textbooks.

For many years, textbook shortages plagued GCSD. Not once did GTA ever mention it as a problem! That sort of thing exasperates parents and quite frankly, I think it puts them on the other side of the fence from the teaching staff. Maybe that's the way the higher-ups like things to be ... ? Can you imagine what would happen IF parents & teachers across the district CAME TOGETHER against administration?

Anonymous said...

You are right about your 12:00 am post. The district loves the fact parents and the teachers have to pit themselves against each other. It takes the spotlight off of GCSD Admininstration and their uselessness.

An Insider

Going to bed now, no need to wait for other posts.

CoffeeReady said...

11:47...are you saying there are nodistrict fuds allocated to the Hockey program?

I understand there is, in comparison the cost to have a CHESS club is significantly cheaper than that of one hockey team. At our school Chess club meets once a month and has no bussin, g needs and one teacher that is "paid"to hold the club. Last check it was $250. As for the scrap club same stipend and we the parents sent in supplies. Can you tell us what the district pays for and what your out of pocket expenses are? as I see it, it is a choice. And if you feel that hockey is $10k well spent then you are doing what is best for your child.

Again I am saying and agree we need to cut, and I would too contribute to club costs, like Chess, and Garden club. But please don't compare the cost associated with a sport that most can not afford and that of a once a month after school garden club.

SCATS said...

To Coffee ~~ I don't think 11:47PM is saying that at all. Quite the contrary actually. Most sports cost us mega $$ compared to other activities because we must pay for coaching salaries, transportation, etc. No one seems to know the actual cost of our sports programs, including the BOE. GCSD administration conveniently buries the reality of that in their budget by combining costs for Physical Education, Health class & sports into one "program." Of course the first two items are "mandated."

I get the impression the parents end up footing the bill for uniforms, gear, etc.

Regarding chess club: I'm surprised to hear your school doesn't compete against other districts. I know Greece schools have done so in the past, busing kids all the way to Elba, Albion and beyond!

Another big $$ cost the taxpayers fund are the "trips." Some are sports related. Some related to curriculum. Some related to other activities. ANY TIME that we send a teacher on a trip, we the taxpayer pay big $$, even though the teacher's ticket is "funded" by the students who go on the trip. The reason is that teachers receive their salary PLUS we must pay for subs while they are away (not ALL students go on these trips). In reality, a trip is a free vacation for the teacher/staff member.

CoffeeReady said...

Ah yes SCATS you are correct I mis- read. I see that youth hockey is not the same as district hockey. If that is the case I am sorry.So this parent pays out of pocket to play in a league that is not district sponsered.

From this day forth I shall try to with hold posting until that cup o joe kicks in :)!

SCATS said...