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March 11, 2010

Strip Bare Without The Tease

Joan Marie Aquilino

I am sick and tired of writing articles on Waste – Solid or otherwise – and the Frederick County Board of Education – waste, solid or otherwise. If they gave out Oscars for whining, this school board would win hands down.


The tone and tenure of whining by its members doesn’t change in good or bad times, it’s always all about them and what they ‘want,’ yet skillfully veiled under the guise of it being all about the ‘children.’ New furniture and parking spaces doesn’t do squat for the children or their education. It’s for adult comfort.


When we have NO money, I’m not concerned with adult comfort. Maybe I can find a few blocks of that government issued free cheese from years back to go with the whine. I guess today it would be called stimulus cheese.


No tempering my anger on this; I'm not even going to try. Political correctness went out the window when the school board was told time and again that we are facing bad times. We need help and all they did was laugh in the faces of county taxpayers by increasing their budget year after year. The school system’s budget is and has been over the top, out of control.


Their budget has nothing to do with the children, not when you are hiding and wasting money year after year. This is a game to see who can steal the most and the fastest from taxpayers; and those who educate our children should know better. Their behavior is deplorable. When whining doesn’t yield what they want, they do the bullies-on-the-playground routine. Disgusting!


Does anyone want to hear how hard they have it and how they are the number 24 school district in the state with 24 school districts in hiring administrators? Reading a recent Letter to the Editor in The Frederick News Post about this made me wonder if it had actually been written by a high level administrator or a family member with a different last name who just signed it.


What I want to hear is:


. . . how they skew the administrator numbers to make it appear that way that they are really No. 24.


. . . why they are running buses for less than six children.


. . . how many teachers are actually in the classroom teaching our children.


. . . how many hours a classroom teacher is actually teaching students, not planning. (A nurse doesn't have planning time in her scheduled shift to plan what she is going to do. A police officer doesn't park his patrol car during his shift and plan what he's going to do next.)


. . . how many times is there a substitute teacher placed and paid in the classroom to give a teacher planning or training time?


. . . how many half days are literally stuck in the calendar just to meet the minimum requirement of 180 days. (Feed them lunch and it’s counted as a full day – big educational accomplishment there).


. . . what is student attendance on half days?


. . . why do teachers need access to the building at-will to accomplish their jobs?


. . . how many are given computers to better do their jobs. (Maybe a bad example since a county commissioner whined until he got his “special” laptop to do his job.)


Teachers choose this profession and a valuable one it is; but I don't need to coddle you to do it. I’m not interested in ‘raising’ teachers.


We have many teachers out there who do their jobs each and every day and never utter a word of complaint. They are there because they made a choice to be a special person in a child's life, who will help form their impression of the world and give them the tools to take on the world without bias.


I'm not even blasting teachers. I'm just sick and tired of the union officials and the school board saying I don't care about education or children if I'm not willing to slit both wrists and bleed out to satisfy all their wants. I want, too, and I want a well-qualified individual that I'm more than willing to compensate for quality work.


The benefits and salary for 180 days of work is more than generous. Many get that pay or less without bennies for 260 days of work and no planning time. We are looking at an average $60,000 to $70,000 for 10 months or three-fourths-of-a-year job plus a benefit and education package that adds approximately another 40% on top of the salary. What other profession gets time and pay to train as a right and not as a perk?


Ever hear of a part-time job to make ends meet. Most have. An example might be for private or semi-private swimming lessons at $50 to $75 per hour, two semi privates a day, two hours times 5 days, is $1,000.00 per week on the low end. Ten hours a week, 1,000 bucks, not bad. That's just one example. Tutoring a few hours can yield a hefty sum or even waitressing a four-hour shift. Add the summer salary of say $10,000+ to the regular salary and all the perks of health benefits, and paid continuing education. Not a bad deal if you ask me.


I’ll never forget the first year teacher who was upset because, on her salary (1st year mind you) she could not go out and buy herself a house in the area where she taught. Who in their right mind can buy a house eight months into your first year on the job? **


Teachers, I'm truly sorry because I know from experience there are a lot of you who are so much better than the union presents you. The good teachers in this world are a treasure to be cherished. They could never be paid their worth; but I’d be happy to give it a try.


The relationship between the unions and school board is uncomfortably close and suspect. I'm ready to start a revolt and make ourselves a charter school county. Eliminate the middle man; go for funding just like a charter does.


Yes, it appears I’m saying this as a flip remark, but sometimes the best ideas start out just that way. I’ve not heard one single complaint about our existing charter school. The superintendent herself sings its praises. The excitement surrounding the latest application for another fine charter school is infectious. So, it may appear as an off-the-cuff remark, but it’s not. Take a look at what Harlem schools are offering. Systems like these are magnificent, and devoted to one and one thing only – the education of children without the frills.


Stripping the school systems multiple layers away and baring it is needed and is needed right NOW!


’til next time…


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