Monthly Archives: August 2015

Let’s Get Curious… Where Is All The Money Going?

I’m curious.

A gentleman has been posting a link in several places on social media showing each Spokane School District Employee’s salary, bonuses received, and medical insurance contributions. I know teachers receive around $768 in contributions a month for medical insurance. This amounts to $768 X 12 = $9216 annually.

I cover my son. The premiums come to around $1200 a month. Therefore, I pay about $400ish out of pocket each month, deducted directly from my income. If I added my husband the $1200 would nearly double.

I scrolled through the link the gentleman shared. I noticed a pattern.

  • Mark Anderson, Deputy Superintendent of Spokane Public Schools has an annual salary of $145,000. He received $33,000 in bonuses. And he received $20,000 in contributions towards his medical insurance.
  • Most administrators I found make over 6 digits in income per year, have higher bonuses, and higher contributions to their medical costs.
  • The exception… Shelley Redinger, Spokane School District’s Superintendent.  She makes an annual salary of $239,999, received no bonuses, and also received over $20,000 in insurance benefits.  This is $20,000 a month, plus her benefits.
  • In 2009-2010, the then superintendent made $195,048.  In 2010-2011, the salary increased to $222,576, a 14.1% increase. In 2011-2012, the salary increased $5,962, a 2.5% increase equaling a $228,538 annual salary.   The current superintendent makes another $11,461 above this, another 5% increase.  From 2009 to 2015 there has been a 23% increase to the annual salary of the person holding the Superintendent’s position.
  • From 2009 to 2015 there has been no cost of living increase (0%) for teachers even though the voters of Washington State approved it.

My salary has remained stagnant for 6 years. My take home pay, what I net, has decreased every year for six years running due to the rise in medical premiums. I do not complain. I did not go into education to become rich. I have raised my son as a single parent since he was a baby until last summer when I remarried. It wasn’t easy, but I made it. I budgeted. I set priorities, and I did borrow money at times to pay my basic bills. Many are in the same boat.

I think it woud be advantageous for school district employees, parents, and the community at large to ask where the district IS deciding to spend their money. I spent a day this past spring plowing through the minutes of every single school board meeting. I found some interesting expenditures.

There is money to pay Amplify, a testing corporation, (over and above the initial cost to purchase the program), $296,000 to write “custom” assessments for Spokane School District. Yet there is not enough money to purchase the writing curriculum that goes along with Journeys, the ELA (English Language Arts) adopted program.

Purchase of Amplify

Amplify is owned by Rupert Murdoch of Fox News.  Mr. Murdoch has been quoted as saying the United States Educational System is worth over $500,000,000,000 (500 BILLION) in untapped profits.  I spent a lot of time researching its history.  You can find the chronological articles with summaries here: Amplify… A Modern Day Medusa.

test anxietyNow, why would Mr. Murdoch be interested in the Testing Industry? Hmmmmm…..

Note: The Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium paid Amplify $12,000,000 to write practice tests. Have teachers had the chance to look at the scoring guides? Do teachers realize they will now be scoring performance tasks and entering in the data to track children’s progress? Do teachers and parents understand how the data is being used and where it is going? Start asking these questions and start digging.

There is money to pay a company (Micro12) that sells broadband width and SBA (Smarter Balanced Assessment) resources a total of $3,905,777.50 so we can administer all the testing on the computers.

Micro12 Purchase

But there isn’t money for curricular materials for TEACHING?

Google MicroK12.  Do your own research.  Learn who they are, what they are about, and how much money they are getting of the people’s tax payer dollars.

SBAC TestDoes the Spokane community understand millions of dollars of their tax payer money are being spent and going to the testing industry? MILLIONS. We spent April through June testing kids. My staff has yet to examine their “data” from the SBA test. How was this test useful in informing instruction and improving student learning?

Was it worth all the instructional time given up? Was it worth having libraries and computer labs shut down for 3 months so kids could be funneled into the testing troughs?

There is money to pay for copying the EngageNY Math “free” materials with totals ranging over $3,000,000 from Spokane School District’s budget. An “interim” math program. My son, having it last year in 2nd grade, and now possibly another three years… is not “interim” for him. It is four years of his mathematical foundational years of learning. Digging and learning more about this math program, people will find it originated in Washington D.C. and was written by a company called Common Core, Inc. New York State paid them $24,000,000 to write the curriculum for their state. I also uncovered ties of Bill Gates contributing money to the writing of this curriculum.

Bill Gates contributed $500,000 to Pride Prep, one of the charter schools opening in Spokane.

Bill Gates has contributed over $2,000,000,000 (TWO BILLION) to Common Core.  Now school districts are choosing to buy technology, new curricular materials, practice tests like Amplify, etc… all at tax payer expense, in order to align to the new and “rigorous” Common Core Standards.

$2204 per student who attends Pride Prep Charter, (opening its doors for the first time September 2015), goes to Pride Prep from the levy money the tax payers approved this past year.

On the OSPI website, it shows Spokane School District hired two administrators to oversee the two new charter schools. One paid for from the charter schools, one paid for from public tax dollars to oversee the charters. You can find all this information on the OSPI website. Therefore, another administrator was hired to oversee two charter schools at a salary higher than most teachers.

Note: The charter schools get public tax payer money, but get to be privately run. They don’t have to use Journeys, EngageNY Math, Springboard, or any of it. They get to experiment with tax payer dollars. There is so much more research around this. In Florida State alone, 200 charters started and then closed their doors, at tax payer expense.

Also noteworthy, the district hired Elementary Supervisors for the 2015/2016 school year. All being paid over six digits. Remember the Area Directors? They were all let go to “save” the district money a few years back? They are now hired back under a new name. I asked a district level employee if they bascially have the same job description… the answer was one word, “yes”.  Therefore… more money to administration.

Please, please, please take the time to learn HOW the district is choosing to spend its money. Please know they have $37,000,000 (37 million) sitting. There is money to compensate all eight bargaining units.

Question MarkI’m curious.

I’m asking the questions.

Will you?

What are our teachers, custodians, instructional assistants, nurses, transportation employees, food service workers, etc… worth to this community?

I’m curious, how much money will we continue to pour into testing our children in the name of “accountability”?

Who is profiting from Common Core and all the testing?

There is money.

I’ve followed states like New York and Florida… we are a bit behind them in our learning curve… those states have had large uprisings and have learned just where the money is going… and it is NOT into the educator’s pockets… the educators communities entrust with their children.

Be Aware. Be Leery. Be Wise.

Passionately Submitted,

RAZ ON FIRE

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Wanted… A Few More Sheepdogs

My Husband Sent this to me Recently:

I read the other day that 95% of humans are equal to sheep… they just follow the rest of the herd.  Around 1% are wolves… predators, people outside the norm of society. Then there are the other 4%, the Sheepdogs… the ones that protect the sheep from the wolves and lead them in the right direction.

Thank you for being a Sheepdog! I know how frustrated you get with the sheep, but thanks for being a loyal protector of them and herding them in the right direction…

Reflection

I never thought about myself as a Sheepdog.  I thought I was one of the sheep, looking around at all the other sheep, popping my head up once in awhile and saying, “Hey, something is not right here!”

Stand Up 2The massive, fluffy herd continued to head in the direction the Superiors told them too.

I continued my travel along with the crowd.  Something hit my gut, and I popped my head up above the rest and kept it there.  EEKS!  This time I raised my voice louder and shouted, “Hey, something definitely is not right here! Stop!”

The herd continued, slightly hindered by my heels in the ground. Some tilted their heads, and a few started popping their heads up to look and see what I was seeing.  Most continued to move forward, avoiding my fluff and my “bark”, by moving to the left and to the right of me.  Heads remained down and determined.  The course was set. The Superiors knew best.

I heard, “Baa Baa”, all around me… and an occasional “Bark Bark”.

Every time I heard the “Bark” I lifted my head up high.  Something became familiar about that sound.  It made me stop.  It made me look.  I was able to see above all the other fluffy, bleating four legged creatures.  Alas!  There were a few that looked a lot more like me…  Their “Bark” was loud and confident… giving clear warning of danger.

A Little History of the Sheepdog

From: “Are You a Sheep or A Sheepdog? Part 1“, By  Brett and Kate McKay

Sheepdogs are society’s protectors.

While both herding dogs and livestock guardian dogs (LGDs) are known as sheepdogs, their roles are quite different. The former bark at, nip, and stare down animals to keep them together and moving in a certain way. Livestock guardian dogs, on the other hand, live with their flock of animals full-time, allowing them to blend in and watch for intruders within the herd. LGDs are placed in the flock as puppies so that they “imprint” on the animals they will be tasked with caring for and protecting. Strongly bonded to them, the LGD will perceive other species as predators and protect those it knows from these potentially hostile outsiders.

If a predator is not dissuaded by the presence of a LGD, it is ready and willing to attack and fight the predator to the death. And the LGD does not simply wait for a predator to attempt to infiltrate the flock – it also actively patrols its territory. Yet despite their fierceness, LGDs make loyal, gentle companions, and are especially protective of children.” (Emphasis Mine).

The Sheep/Sheepdog Continuum

The business of being a sheep or sheepdog is not a yes-no dichotomy. Rather it’s a continuum. Some folks live at the extreme ends of the spectrum and are completely passive sheep or hardened ultimate warriors. Most people, however, fall somewhere in between.

Your “sheepness” or “sheepdogness” can change depending on context.”

Sheepdogs are Made, Not Born

Being a sheepdog isn’t a matter of birth; it’s a choice – a matter of mental and physical training.  In order to become a sheepdog, you have to consciously decide to do so and then slowly upgrade your mental, physical, and emotional hardware from Sheep 1.0 to Sheepdog 2.0.”

My Personal Transformation

Raising my head and seeing ahead of me a first step.  I was among my herd.  The herd I loved.  At first, it seemed hard to see.  As I heard the barks from the few, my mind resonated with the warnings.  Something was ahead and wrong.  Imprinted with the herd, and caring deeply about my peeps, I had to do something!  I discovered my true identity and realized I could “bark” too.

Sheep Dog 3“Bark Bark Bark!”

I joined the Watchdogs.

It is a difficult place to be to sound different and look a bit different than the group.  I’m still a fluffy being, just a different sort.

My heart and mind are very focused upon the truth.  I encourage everyone to actively dig, research, and question.  Do more than tilt your head, raise it!  Find the Sheepdog in you.  Learn who the predators are and what is driving them… Our children need you.

My Bark

Common Core was written without transparency.  Common Core is an untried and untested set of standards written by a group of non-educators. Common Core is developmentally inappropriate for many children.  There are flaws in the Common Core Standards.  The high stakes tests aligned with Common Core are invalid and unreliable, and also developmentally inappropriate.  Children are being harmed.

“Bark, Bark, BARK, BARK, BARK, BARK!

Capture 11

Passionately Submitted,

RAZ ON FIRE

Join Other Sheepdogs:

No President Left Behind (NPLB)… A Presidential-Reform Bill to Ensure Every President is “National and DC Ready”

NCLB:  No Child Left Behind… 

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, President George W. Bush’s education-reform bill, was signed into law on Jan. 8, 2002.

NPLB:  No President Left Behind…

The No President Left Behind Act of 2015, submitted as a presidential-reform bill in August of 2015.

Any Sponsors?

I think each presidential candidate should have to take a Presidential Balanced Assessment (PBA) designed by a Consortium of people who have never held a political office. I think the American people should set the Cut Scores.

Temps are hired from Craigslist and paid $11.20 an hour to “score” the test.

When they complete the 100 hour test, involving 8 sections with reliable computer adaptive capabilities, and performance tasks, each item shall become a data point. No political aid or speech writer can help them with their extended responses.  They must take the test on a computer, other than their own, in a sterile room monitored by a test proctor.  They are allotted a 30 minute lunch and may only leave the computer lab to use the bathroom.  No other breaks allowed.

President 4The presidential hopefuls can see their results 4 months after taking the Balanced Assessment.  It will help them improve upon presidential skills necessary to be “Presidential Ready”. The data points are utilized to create graphs in multiple colors and placed on a data wall. This allows for easy data tracking throughout their campaign.

Only those deemed Highly Qualified shall be able to proceed.  To maintain their Highly Qualified status, they must be observed four times throughout the preliminary race.  They will be scored in 41 Elements, within Components, within overarching Domains, to see if they indeed meet the Criterion.  Only a Score of a 4 shall keep them in the Highly Qualified Status throughout their campaign.  If at any time, they received a score of a 1,2 or 3, they shall be placed on probation and retested, utilizing the highly reliable and valid PBA (Presidential Balanced Assessment).

The majority of the candidate’s evaluation will be based on the test score.

If they can not maintain the Highly Qualified status, they are completely removed and can not run in the final election.

NPLB 5If passed, this new presidential reform bill will be the most valid and reliable way to ensure the best candidate becomes the president… The test score, (number), reveals everything essential to determine the most “National and D.C. Ready” person for President of the United States.

There’s gotta be National Common Presidential Standards written somewhere… right?

If not, no worries, those can be whipped out in a manner of months too.

There has been growing concern of the failure rate in past presidents.  This new presidential-reform bill will help ensure a 100% success rate by 2020.

Please support NPLB (No President Left Behind)… Our Nation Is At Risk.

Passionately Submitted,

RAZ ON FIRE

References:

None necessary.