vendredi, avril 28, 2006

The Mighty Enabling 2007 Proposed MPS Budget

My first impressions are well, not based on educational portions of the budget. It seems that the proposed budget is focusd on "health and nutrition" initiatives while "tightening the belt" in spending across the system. Here's how that translates to me right off the bat:

"We're going to take the responsibility off the parent for providing for their children, and to do this, we're going to have to spend less on education."

Point it out where I'm wrong. I'm an open-minded kind of gal. But feeding your children is not MPS' job.

By enabling parents who will not parent, we enable their abdication of responsibility. The more you provide - the higher the expectations will be in the future to be provided for. MPS and its teachers are already taking the brunt of these effects, starting with children's behavior. We can't become their parents, and that's what this proposal means.

MPS should teach them the ins and outs of health and nutrition but they can't be responsible for feeding them. This is not a heartless statement, in fact, a long time ago a very loving person talked about teaching a man to fish. You know, so he can feed himself for a lifetime. How about starting with focusing on what will enable them to provide for themselves.

The other thing that hacked me off is this (p. 27 of Overview document):

"A Common Average Salary ($50,400) was established for teachers. The previous method used a unique average salary for each level (high, middle, elementary, K-8). The difference between levels have become smaller and the common average salary simplifies the budgeting process."

People, I am 34 years old and it took me a really long time to hit that 50k mark. And I had to prove that I'm worth it. These folks are getting it MANDATED. Why? Because it's easier for the administrators to understand.

Salary banding and performance-based compensation are not difficult compensation concepts. Anyone with a nominal understanding of comp can administer this. How do they suppose Fortune 500 companies do it? Do they throw their hands up and say, this is just too hard to do, this paying everyone differently thing.

Seems to me that that large HR box in their org chart needs an overhaul.

Sigh. Take a look for yourselves. Or take a look at the Journal's analysis (which may or may not mean a whole lot).

Right click to download the Proposed Budget and Overview.


Blogger Jay Bullock said...

Disclaimer A: I haven't dug into the budget yet. Disclaimer B: I work for MPS.

A couple of points, Phel. First on the "common average salary": This exists not because every teacher earns that much--I have 9 years in and a Master's and I don't yet--but to simplify disbursements to schools. They can figure out, based on how many teachers there are and what they actually earn, what the average MPS teacher really makes. (FYI, this is a lower number than most if the 'burbs around us.)

When a school gets its budget for the year, the district charges them $50,400 times the number of teachers they have. With schools now generally having the ability to select, through interview, who comes in to teach there, if the district didn't do this, schools would have the incentive to interview and bring in only first-year teachers, for example--those with fewer qualifications and experience. Would you send your kid to a school where all the teachers are young and inexperienced?

Second, you complain about the district's focus on health and nutrition. I agree that it should not have to be something we spend money on. But here's my question for you: If we didn't do it, who will? I have so many students who miss class way too often because of health issues. I have kids who tell me that the only meal they get is the school lunch. I would much prefer that the community take the lead on these issues, but no one else is stepping up.

In the same way you can't paint a wall that hasn't been primed, you can't teach a child who isn't ready to learn. Being healthy is part of that.

8:46 PM, avril 29, 2006  
Blogger Phelony Jones said...

First and foremost Jay I do not envy the issues facing MPS. However if it was addressed from a private sector perspective I think the outcomes would be a lot different.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned that I graduated from an inner city, almost 90% African American school. I’ve had friends whose meals consisted of lunch at school and a dinner of chips and wildwood soda.

But on health and nutrition, I think it’s critically important to teach them what they need to know in order to make decisions about their health. I disagree that we should be playing the part of the dinner table though. If providing food, provide example meals on a pre-set basis that encompass what they have learned in the lessons so that they can see, touch, taste and feel what nutritious food looks like.

I understand what you mean about not being able to teach a child who has not eaten and perhaps has not eaten nutritive food for weeks, months, or in some cases years. And I am partially torn on that because I don’t want growing children to be hungry. But many of these children’s’ families are already on government services like welfare, and instead of providing for their children with these payments, they bling with it or do otherwise. I want children to be fed as does everyone, but there is a breaking point financially and morally where in theory I think we have to start pushing back.

If MPS insists on this program specifically for low income or poverty level children, I think it should be at a cost or portion of welfare disbursements via vouchers. And vouchers that subtract from the current level of benefits going to these families. Not an increase in benefit, either, just an insurance that what we are already paying these families goes to the right people.

On hiring practices, experience does not equal quality. Good employees and a good organization are the result of good hiring and selection practices.

Quality employees with high amounts of potential are motivated not only by the work itself and the purpose, but they are also motivated by rewards and incentives and understanding their position within they pay scale hierarchy. But when they can “count on” this level of compensation and free healthcare and a pension, where is the motivation? This would not work in the private sector. It would create a sedentary organization that would eventually become bankrupt.

10:19 PM, avril 29, 2006  
Blogger Casper said...

Jay, I wholeheartedly agree with your statement that you can't teach a child who isn't ready to learn.

But that doesn't mean it's the school's responsibility to make them ready.

I'm all for the school teaching the value of good health care and nutrition, but that's where the school's mandate ends: teaching. There's simply no way we can manage the costs of education if those costs can be expanded beyond what really counts as education.

The desire to keep the children's best interests at the forefront of the debate is admirable, but at some point we must recognize that it isn't the school's responsibility to provide anything beyond an education. Delivering healthcare and nutrition (beyond the mid-day lunch which I agree is simply a matter of practicality) are just another way to excuse parents from the responsibility of raising their children.

It's horrible that these children must grow up in either poverty or as the wards of parents that simply don't give a damn, but the way to resolve it shouldn't be found in using funds originally meant for education. If there's a problem with parents not providing, or not being able to provide, what their children require, make that the issue. Don't advocate for subversive measures of social welfare at the expense of a child's learning.

Look at it this way: you became an educator to share knowledge with children. That is a noble cause. You could have become a doctor and provided free healthcare. But you didn't. Now, your boss, a person whose greatest concern should be the education of children, is proposing increasing the delivery of healthcare at the expense of losing over 100 teaching professionals.

I forget where I heard it, but someone recently said that GM isn't in the business of making cars anymore but rather providing benefits. I'd just hate to see us getting to the point where our schools are no longer in the business of education. That's when schools will truly fail the students.

10:35 PM, avril 29, 2006  
Blogger Casper said...

Jay, a follow up on my comment.

I don't want to accuse you of simply regurgitating the district line of feeding children. From your comment it appears that in an ideal world you would rather not have to do it.

But I have a question: When children do tell you the only time they're fed is at school, is there any course of action you can take? If parents aren't feeding their children, is there some other office/organization/department you can get involved?

11:17 PM, avril 29, 2006  

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