Monday, April 20, 2009

I have so much to update

I have so much to update, but very limited time at the moment, but you can look forward to posts about my repair guy fiasco and the new unexpected overnight trip.. which happens tomorrow... and i found out about it today.

We just got off of spring break and have about 7 more weeks (34 days) of school left. I'm counting those days. I will update soon I promise!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

April Fools, Necessary Items, and the Unexpected Day Off.

Well incase you haven’t figured out, the post below is actually a grand April Fools Joke orchestrated by Mr. Teacher over at Learn Me Good. For one day, a group of bloggers “traded places” and it was met with mixed results. The post featured on my blog was actually written by Ms. Teacher. If you want to view my post for April Fools, head on over to 100 Farmers and read up on Bugspray, Sandgnats, and the Zoo. Mr. Teacher has posted a full list of bloggers who participated.

A Bus Driver Bag is essential for all bus drivers. Yes, I keep a bag filled with items that a bus driver should keep handy at all times. These items include, but are not limited to, a Poncho/Umbrella, Bugspray, Sunscreen, a good Book, various pens/pencils, a Hat, a functional Calendar, Water, and anything else that a bus driver might need.

Most of the items are common sense items, but they are essential to the survival of a bus driver. You never know when you might get caught without any of those items and desperately need it at the place and time.

On Friday, we had an unexpected day off due to inclement weather. We had major rainfall over the course of Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and the roads were fairly poor condition. Additionally, there were several roads closed due to major flooding. We’re still recovering from the massive rain, and are scheduled for more tonight into tomorrow. This was the first time the school district had decided to close school due to the weather. I’m glad they did, it allowed me to do some much needed errands and pay some bills that had been pushed to the side.

Sopping Wet,

The Bus Driver

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

It's the fault of the Big, Bad Teachers Unions!

Friday nights you can usually catch me watching "Real Time with Bill Maher." About two weeks ago as I watched Bill Maher, he started talking about teachers and teachers unions. It came quite as a shock to me when I heard him basically bash teachers unions, stating that it was the fault of these unions for allowing bad teachers to stay in the classroom.

Like I said, I was shocked. For me, I know what the reality is in my district when it comes to getting rid of bad teachers and I also know that my reality is the reality for a lot of teachers in their districts. Simply put, administrators are in charge of getting rid of bad teachers and they simply do not do it. I think that for some administrators in my district part of the problem is that it is not easy to get teachers to work in our district. The other part of the problem is administrators are overworked not underpaid and so following the procedures to get rid of a bad teacher is just one more thing for them to do.

The thing to keep in mind though is that it is the responsibility of administrators to get rid of ineffective and/or bad teachers. It is not the responsibility of the union or teachers. I've worked with bad teachers, some of whom were paid more than me, and yet they continue to work because the administrator won't do what it is necessary to get rid of them.

In California, administrators can get rid of any teacher for any reason within their first two years of teaching. This is what is called a non-reelect and for many teachers it is almost a kiss of death in terms of trying to find another teaching position. Within those first two years, the union cannot do anything to help the teachers receiving a non-reelect. (I've seen non-reelects given simply because the principal did not like a teacher.)

After that first two years is up, teacher are given tenure. In my district, teachers receive evaluations every other year under Process B. If teachers receive a satisfactory review, they are then not up for review for another year. However, if they receive an unsatisfactory review, then teachers fall under Process A (the review for new teachers w/in their first two years of teaching). This process requires the administrator to evaluate the teacher every year. Teachers who fall back under Process A are also required to work with a consulting teacher under our PAR program (Peer Assistance and Review). If a teacher fails to improve under Process A, the administrator can elect to "fire" the teacher. However, very few teachers in the state of California or even in my district are fired.

Some will point to this fact and state that is because of teachers unions. However, according to David Macaray, teachers in non-union states also have a very low rate of being fired by their administrators. It would seem that if unions were the problem, then those states without unions would have a higher rate of letting ineffective and/or bad teachers go. That is simply not the case.

The hard reality for administrators is that people are not beating down the door to be teachers, especially in a district such as mine where we are the lowest paid, yet work in the toughest district. They understand that getting a teacher to fill positions that are hard to fill is easier said than done. For some administrators and districts, they prefer a warm body to nobody.

I wrote about a teacher at my own school site that everybody knew was a horribly, bad teacher. Yet, year after year, he stayed teaching at my school site. It was only when he was arrested that the district fired him. He was still allowed to have due process as defined by our contract, however, we (as in the union) did not block the efforts of our district to get rid of this guy. In fact, if the proper protocols had been followed as defined under our evaluation process, I think it is safe for me to say that the union would not have blocked those efforts as well because we simply do not have that power.

The power to get rid of bad teachers lies at the feet of administrators. As a teacher and as a member of my union, I do not have that power. Bill Maher needs to understand these facts before he starts spouting off on something that in which he is clearly clueless.