Sunday, May 19, 2013

Read. Think. Act

Things to read:

Article about the experience of being a test grader: Inside the multimillion-dollar essay-scoring business. Reading about scoring reminded me of the essay my son wrote for a test once that I actually published.

Article about Ann Arbor Public School teachers losing their domestic partner benefits due to the union contract being renegotiated due to Right to Work, and the anti-domestic partner legislation passed two years ago in Michigan. (Note: this is also true of Washtenaw County employees, and probably others in the state.) I. feel. terrible. about. this.

Article about how Snyder and Co. knew all about the Skunk Works project

Article about Albion closing its high school. (One thing I don't understand about this--it was my impression that state law says that a district is defined by having a high school. But it appears this won't automatically dissolve the district.)

Think and Act. Or in some cases, Act and Think.

The former "SkunkWorks" group now headed by Michigan Superintendent Flanagan has set up a new Facebook page asking for input. Please. Give them a piece of your mind.

The Ann Arbor Schools are asking you to fill out a survey about the qualities most important to you in a Superintendent. Find the survey here. It's fairly short, but before you fill it out, think about how you want to answer qualities that could be interpreted in more than one way. There are several of those. For instance, what exactly do they mean by "Is comfortable leading innovation and reform efforts?" Is that a code word for another Broad Foundation candidate? I'm all for innovation along the lines of more project-based work and more magnets, but I'm not for corporate reform. . . As it happens, there is a comments box at the bottom. Use it!

There is a MoveOn petition to the Ann Arbor school board asking the district not to cut high school transportation because of its disparate impact on low-income kids. If you are in agreement, please sign it here. (I did.)


  1. I tried the survey, but it is essentially meaningless, as each choice is really fuzzy, and you must choose ten choices. I only wanted to choose five that were consistent with my views. The others didn't matter, and would in fact dilute my choices. Clearly a survey made by committee, and not by design.

  2. The contract was opened not only to deal with RTW but also because the staff was willing to take a 3% cut in pay to help deal with the district deficit. No good deed goes unpunished!

  3. No, the contract was only opened to sign it for 5 years to avoid RTW. Look carefully, if more money comes into the district, the teachers get their 3% back. Also, teacher's expenses are going up 1.3 million dollars this year, so the cost of their benefits is increasing about 1%. So, it is really a 2 percent free vs. a decrease since they are loosing automatic pay increases.

  4. And, yes you should feel horrible about this because the Union that you have all chosen to support you, really did not have everyone's back after all. I would take my dues and give them to the domestic partners.

    Where is the MEA on this one? Are they helping their members who lost their benefits so they could lock in their membership for another 5 years?

  5. Well, I'm not in the union, and in fact I'm in a non-union position at my work, so I can't say what the union should have done. But in general, I would say that the union was faced with two evils--one is the evil of so-called "right to work," and the other is the evil of the law banning domestic partnership benefits. Both positions were brought on by a Republican government that obviously does not believe in any form of local control. Since the latter law affected many fewer people (and may not even stand up in court), I think it's a rational response/decision that the union made. I'm not sure it's the right one, but it's rational.