My Goal in Blogging

I started this blog in May of 2008, shortly after my election to the School Committee, because I believed it was very important to both provide the community with an opportunity to share their thoughts with me about our schools and to provide me with an opportunity for me to ask questions and share my thoughts and reasoning. I have found the conversation generated on my blog to be extremely helpful to me in learning community views on many issues. I appreciate the many people who have taken the time to share their views. I believe it is critical to the quality of our public schools to have a public discussion of our community priorities, concerns and aspirations.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Amherst superintendent fires back at critics regarding sick leave

Hampshire Gazette
By NICK GRABBEStaff Writer
Wednesday, March 3, 2010

AMHERST - Superintendent of Schools Alberto Rodriguez responded testily Monday to criticism of his vacation days and preplanned sick leave.

Speaking at a School Committee meeting, he denounced residents who have posted attacks on his time away from his office on local blogs without identifying themselves.

"It's ironic that people clamor for transparency, then hide and shroud themselves in anonymity," he said.

Rodriguez decried "nonsense by folks who do not have the integrity to come out and say, #Hey, it's me.'" He added he does not read blogs about Amherst schools and politics.

He speculated that the criticism may have come from "individuals who didn't want me here to begin with."

Rodriguez became superintendent last July. On Feb. 2, he informed the School Committee in a memo that between last Aug. 10 and this April 26, he scheduled 40 days off, including nine days of sick leave between Feb. 22 and April 26.

He said the sick leave is for doctors' appointments, an unnamed medical procedure and recuperation time, all in Florida. He said his condition is "extremely uncomfortable," affecting his quality of life but not putting his life at risk.

On Monday, he explained why he was unable to return to Amherst from vacation Feb. 23, as scheduled. His doctor determined the day before that his condition had changed and "didn't feel it was in my best interests to get on a plane," he said.

So last week, while in Florida, Rodriguez underwent tests, including chest X-rays and an electrocardiograph, intending to have the surgery done last Friday, he said. But it couldn't be scheduled, and is now set for its original date in mid-April, he said.

With these tests out of the way, all that remains before the procedure is a blood test, which he can do in Amherst, with the results faxed to his surgeon in Florida, he said.

Rodriguez said that his confidentiality should be honored. His critics "have no right to ask certain questions, but they go ahead and do it, so I will answer some and not others," he said.

He asked if the School Committee would prefer that he "call in daily and ask for sick leave" rather than informing it in advance. "It would be terribly dishonest" to not communicate his knowledge of an upcoming medical procedure, he said.

"No good deed goes unpunished," he said of his attempt at open communication.

Rodriguez also responded to criticism that he is having the surgery done in Florida and not Massachusetts.

"My family are down there, and on a rotating basis will take care of this old man," he said. "Economically, this is more feasible than flying up six or seven individuals."

Rodriguez said he will submit to the School Committee a revised memo of his vacation time and sick leave.

While he originally planned to return to Amherst Feb. 23, he did not return until Monday night.

Committee member Irv Rhodes responded that he was "stunned that this conversation is taking place. I thought it would have been out of bounds." Still, because the Feb. 2 memo did not give any reason for the scheduled sick time, "the public can be excused for asking the question," he said.

Andy Churchill, chairman of the Amherst School Committee, declined comment on Rodriguez's remarks Tuesday.

108 comments:

Ed said...

This is Bull****!

No private employer would put up with this. A private employer would demand doctor's notes, would demand scheduling, would never permit this vacation in sunny Florida under any circumstance.

We are the employer. We should expect less? We pay less????

Anonymous said...

I don't care what's wrong with Dr R (though I hope the upcoming treatment resolves it and I wish him good health), but I do care that he sought out and accepted a demanding job far away from home and family, at a premium salary, and is frequently away from that job due to that pre-existing condition, which is turning out to be less predictable than perhaps he expected (or had hoped or been told by his doctors).

Perhaps he should have given careful consideration as to whether or not it was a sensible career move to take a position with high public expectations (and visibility, like it or not) AND a long way from home.

I think we'll be seeing the last of Dr. R. pretty soon. His irritable response shows that he is not interested in what Amherst folks think. You only act like that when you're planning to leave anyway.

Or so I predict.

Anonymous said...

His response is irritable becasue of the likes of people like you, anon 6:32Oh and Ed. At this rate we'll lose Dr. R..and then not be able to find anyone to replace him. Who in their right mind would want to come to Amherst to work. Lets leave Dr R alone..he has not done anything to deserve the treatment he is receiving on this blog.

Anonymous said...

"Speaking at a School Committee meeting, he denounced residents who have posted attacks on his time away from his office on local blogs without identifying themselves."


Nice redirect there Albert.

And denouncing residents?

Beautiful.

p.s. Sorry to bother you, BOSS.

Anonymous said...

What Dr. R did was allowed in his CONTRACT and people really need to respect his right to privacy. I'd be testy too!
What the heck is wrong with people in Amherst lately?

Anonymous said...

How about from this point on, we limit our comments about our superintendent to specific work-related and performance-related subjects - PLEASE! Let's focus on substance - for the benefit of our children and our schools.

Anonymous said...

If I was Dr. R. I would say screw you to Amherst. People in this town have become downright mean for no good reason. Its stunning!

The only thing I can attribute the nastiness to on this blog is a migration of hordes of nasty people from Larry K's blog. If that is the case I wish they would all go back to Larrys' blog and leave the normal, sane folks alone.

Anonymous said...

He hasn't. However his issue comes up due to the following:

I am not swayed on an override by issues such as classroom teachers renegotiating COL's. I am swayed by the inability of the SC to comprehend that providing travel $ and a housing allowance to someone who applied for and accepted a job so far from home is indicative of problem budget management.

This is a drop in the bucket, but one we can see. With the very opague school budget it is difficult to see other drops, but drop after drop, the bucket overflows.

I'm anonymous due to employment reasons.

Nina Koch said...

you know, I think the obnoxious people are actually fairly few in number. It's just that their negativity can end up dominating and it seems like there are more of them than there really are. Let's have some more non-negative people speak up and drown out the jerks. In fact, how about some non-anonymous, non-negative people speaking up? I don't see any risk associated with it.

And Gazette, please stop quoting the jerks in the newspaper. I don't think any anonymous quotes belong in the paper.

Everybody who agrees raise your hand!

Anonymous said...

He has unnecessarily turned this into a "me versus them" situation.

Sometimes it's just best to stop listening to the background noise, put your head down, and get to work.

Someone should have taken him aside early on and said, "Psssst, Alberto, with these salary numbers, you're going to be under a microscope."

Anonymous said...

I fear that we are headed for an "either/or" situation soon:

This Superintendent

or

Some truly outstanding principals in our elementary schools

Anonymous said...

People put a lot of faith and hope (and money) iton Dr. R and his absences are legitimately upsetting at this critical juncture in the school's own health care crisis. Rude questions, not OK. Concerns, yes.

Dr. R. appeared highly qualified and his first actions in the district have all seemed quite smart/appropriate/long overdue. But the long absences concern me, someone with no prior attitude problem about him.

Anonymous said...

All we want is your time and your best effort, sir.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Rodriguez is an asset to this community and my family and I are very grateful that he is here. I wish him the best and I look forward to working with him to improve our schools. The story in the paper about his leave time is nonsense and it is nonsense that this matter was addressed at all in a meeting. I agree with Irv Rhodes, this stuff should be out of bounds.

Ed, I don't know you and I am not sure if you are kidding or not. But *we* are not the employer. You definitely aren't and I am not either. You and I do not have the authority to hire or fire, that's for sure. Dr. Rodriguez is not accountable to you or me, only the School Committee as far as I know. And I have already written them a letter expressing my support for a very dedicated individual whom my family and I support wholeheartedly.

Anonymous said...

All we want is your time and your best effort, sir.

Nicely put. The town really needed someone to help guide the schools. Frequent and lengthy absences beg the question: are we getting your time and best effort. As above.

I don't understand people who think you should hire someone and then cover their eyes, ears and mouth in response to whatever happens next. His job is too important for the citizenry of Amherst not to be concerned about getting his very best work.

Anonymous said...

He's an asset to this community based on what?

Anonymous said...

For the money we were paying, many of us were rooting for him to be a smashing success.

Ed said...

The rule always was that if didn't want people to know what your medical concern was, you used either your personal or vacation time. By using your "sick" time, you are authorizing the employer, in this case the People of the Town of Amherst, to verify that it is a legitimate absence.

And this does seem kinda sketchy, taking the time off and then not being able to do it and using more time later...

But *we* are not the employer. You definitely aren't and I am not either.

Yes, we are. That is what "public service" means, the public are the employer. And when you are the chief operating officer, you report directly to the public.

And if you don't want the public knowing what your medical procedures are, you have them done on your own time...

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, it's all the fault of those nasty folks from Larry K's blog.

But EVERYBODY knows who the Hell I am, and I'm the guy who posted the PUBLIC DOCUMENT that HE handed out at the 2/9 SC meeting in the interests of "transparency."

And no, Cowardly, Anon, Nitwit 6:42 pm, it is not allowed in his contract.

He should have filed Family Medical Leave Act paperwork before going AWOL.

Anonymous said...

I totally disagree with the negative comments about the Superintendent. The man is an asset because he is seeing through some major changes that are long overdue that no previous superintendent managed to accomplish. I suspect that the negative posts are not really in response to anything that the Superintendent has done. You either never wanted him here in the first place or you have some other axe to grind. Your pushback is disingenuous and it's obvious because AR has done nothing to warrant this kind of response. Don't you know that people who make a lot of money get a lot of time off?

Anonymous said...

So Catherine - are you at all embarassed by the nastiness showing up with increased regularity on your blog? I've noticed that most of the sane people have left. My hats off to Nina for continuing to try to bring some sanity to this blog. I've noticed, however, that even you, Catherine, have lately been among the missing here.

This blog has become less than useless.

Catherine A. Sanderson said...

My responses:

This is going to be general -- but I don't actually care whether the superintendent is in Miami or in Amherst, nor do I feel that I need to know specifics about his medical details (and certainly SC members and HR personnel are likely to be more informed than random parents/teachers/blog readers). I do believe, in retrospect, that just adding a note to the memo describing why he would be taking sick leave in advance would have helped clarify the nature of his intended absence, and thus I believe likely have avoided a lot of this discussion. But for me: I care about whether he is doing his job -- which is serving as the leader of this district, including mentoring principals, managing a complex budget, making curricular/programmatic recommendations, etc. That's it -- and for those who are interested in how he is performing in those aspects of his job, come to the next SC meeting on March 9th (also broadcast live) in which the superintendent's mid-year evaluation will be discussed.

As I said at the meeting last night (after what I felt was spending FAR too much time discussing his medical situation), there are lots of things I care alot about that have to do with education ... and I'd rather spend more time discussing those. I will do a blog posting soon that describes some of the ACTUAL educational topics discussed at the meeting, including selecting a calendar for next year (September start, Thursday before Labor Day), seeing projections for what a one study hall HS schedule would look like, and discussing items for upcoming agendas.

I agree with Nina's point that most people really aren't obnoxious -- and I just don't get why people don't feel they can post their names (which I do, and Nina does, and a few brave others, including Abbie and Larry K.). Being named certainly helps raise the level of discussion.

And in terms of Anonymous 11:23 - this blog has two purposes. One is for me to share information, which I am going to continue to do, and I hear repeatedly from people that that information is helpful. The second purpose is to have a forum in which to discuss issues -- and the effectiveness and productivity of that purpose is entirely dependent on posters (anonymous or not) choosing to be responsible and respectful. And I'm doing the best I can to manage a full-time job (including teaching 100 students this semester), extensive travel to conferences as part of my job (I have spent exactly one weekend at home in 2010), a 20-hour a week SC volunteer job, and spending some time with my three kids. My apologies if I'm not commenting enough to suit your needs -- and if this blog is "less than useless", feel free to stop reading it (and posting on it).

marry said...

Blogs are so informative where we get lots of information on any topic. Nice job keep it up!!
_____________________________

Science Dissertation

Nina Koch said...

I think 7:00 pm said it best:
"How about from this point on, we limit our comments about our superintendent to specific work-related and performance-related subjects"

I don't necessarily agree with all of these actions he takes and if I want to say something, it should be about one of those actions.

I also think that feedback should be solicited directly from the people he supervises. I hope that has already happened.

A.N.W. said...

Catherine: you think Larry K is "brave" because he stands behind his bullying and name calling with a name? You think his posts raise the level of discussion because he uses his name? His posts are the exact examples I'd use as to why a named post does not necessarily make a post "respectful".

Anonymous said...

I know that this comes as a shock to those in the private sector:

There are government, public sector employees in Massachusetts who don't use all of their vacation time in a year. They can't find the time to use it. Their office may or may not have rules that allow them to carry over vacation time.

Yes, Virginia, there are government workers in Massachusetts who ULTIMATELY don't take all of their vacation. And it's in their contracts.

LarryK4 said...

Hey A&W,

Lucky for you I love your root beer.

Anonymous said...

WAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHHA!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Catherine said: "and I just don't get why people don't feel they can post their names (which I do, and Nina does, and a few brave others, including Abbie and Larry K.). Being named certainly helps raise the level of discussion."

Oh yea - Larry K raises the level of conversation here! Not!

It's people like Larry who drag the conversation into the mud.

Larry may be brave enough to sign his own name and own his own nasty comments but his comments in no way raise the level of discourse.

Catherine A. Sanderson said...

My responses:

Nina - the people who directly work with the superintendent (principals, some assistant principals, high level administrative staff) have all been asked to contributed their feedback. I agree with you that this type of feedback is more important than the thoughts random anonymous posters might share on a blog -- pro or con -- who are less likely to have direct experience working with the superintendent.

ANW and Anonymous 10:48 - I do think it is brave to sign your name. As I do. I don't agree with everything Larry says, but at least he's owning it. I don't agree with everything Nina says, but at least she's owning it. And I think anonymous criticism of me/Larry/the superintendent isn't helping the dialogue at all.

Anonymous said...

Larry Kelley is the new George Bush? How about the new Dick Cheney? I think Larry is the new Ronald Reagan. Larry is the new Richard Nixon. Larry is the new Barry Goldwater. Larry Kelley is the new neighbor that just moved in that I hate. Larry Kelley is my horrible boss. Larry Kelley is my mean abusive father. Larry Kelley is a typical male. Larry Kelley is
Hitler. Larry Kelley is making all this happen. Larry Kelley is the anti christ. Larry Kelley is an unjust, hateful god. Larry Kelley must be sacrificed so that we may be saved...

Amherst: Behold the man!

Anonymous said...

To Anon 7:29: What is this post about? I agree that we have some truly outstanding (and terribly overworked, by the way) principals.

"I fear that we are headed for an "either/or" situation soon:
This Superintendent
or
Some truly outstanding principals in our elementary schools"

March 2, 2010 7:29 PM

TomG said...

Larry ran a post on his blog about the Superintendent's vacation and sick time package with a critical tone about it being extra ordinarily generous.

Then he ran a few posts about the superintendent being out of town during vacation week and then about being out of town after vacation week, passing judgment on the absence without information about the absence, stirring up discontent and doing so in the context of the superintendents salary which is an old axe Larry has ro grind and cannot put down.

Believe it or not, Larry is well meaning and self-righteous, and he no idea how his writing affects other people, hard-working, well-meaning people. It appears Larry would rather muckrake then get answers.

CS writes in a comment above about the important factors. I hope commenters here would read that comment, ask questions and state any opinions to the contrary.

What is important and not important when it comes to a superintendent's job performance? This is a question the answer to which I would turn to CS, as an informed source. How to run an exercise club? This is a question to which I would turn to Larry Kelley, as an informed source.

Me? I would rather the Superintendent focus his time on the job than charges about his absences and or his character. This is not a question of character and it's kind of shameful that some people are so quick to turn to that judgment without any information other than the absence as if they can in good faith claim he absence is truancy. It may be, it may not be but you have no evidence it is and should not be saying so until you do.

Clearly the SC is the hiring manager in this situation. Allow the SC to evaluate rather than base your conclusion on Larry Kelley's blog posts where a few facts are stated and the rest is conjecture impugning the intentions and character of the subject.

Anonymous said...

this town has gotten so fucked up

LarryK4 said...

Hey 11:47 AM Anon:

Thanks for spelling my name correctly...over and over and over again. It must have made the difference!

Over the past three years I was always a little weirded out that if you Google search "Larry Kelly" spelling it wrong, I came up #1 and if you spelled it correctly "Kelley" with two e's I only came up #3.

To double check my facts--as journalists tend to do--I just now did a Google search and the correct spelling of my surname now comes up #1 (as does the incorrect spelling.)

Probably also helps that Catherine gets such heavy traffic.

school start said...

Would it be possible for the teachers to start earlier and have a curriculum day or two before school starts? Then the students wouldn't have to start so early or finish so late,in the case of snow days.

TomG said...

"It's ironic that people clamor for transparency, then hide and shroud themselves in anonymity," he said.

Indeed, it is irony but the irony does not diminish the validity of the request and the request comes from far and wide, anonymous and named sources as well.

I hope Superintendent Alberto Rodriguez has the same values for financial transparency and plans to act.

The harm done by the leaders in our schools and government who make no effort to respond to the request for financial transparency is significant.

Taxpayers want to be empowered with the knowledge of how their tax money is spent.

We believe transparency about the finances of our schools can be accomplished because we've heard Northampton has done so.

The best case for an override now or in the future is from those who understand how the money is spent and agree that more money should be spent for

I hope that Superintendent Alberto Rodriguez understands, respects, and will chose to act on the call for more transparency about how we fund our schools.

I hope the SC puts it to him as an objective. It is not a simple task. It is dependent on how costs are allocated, general ledger codes setup etc.

LarryK4 said...

Actually TomG the only question I would now like answered is did the Super file the Family Medical Leave Act paperwork or not?

It is REQUIRED for ANY school employee taking 3 or more "sick" days IN ADVANCE--which he did last week in an unscheduled manner no less.

And I believe the paperwork is to be filed IN ADVANCE--which I know for a fact he did not do.

Yes, since it is a medical issue the actual paperwork is immune (as it should be) from a Public Documents Request.

But if I wanted to be clever, I could file the request anyway with the schools and if they came back with "no such document exists" (one of the standard ways of circumventing Public Documents Law via use of the telephone) then I would know he did not file the paperwork.

Otherwise they would respond that the requested document is protected because of Federal medical privacy act laws. At least that way we know such a document exists.

Anonymous said...

If I was Dr. R I would no longer be curteous by giving the SC a heads up for any medical procedure. I would simply call in sick from the hospital on the day of the procedure. That way he could avoid all the ridiculous flack he is getting for taking sick days that he is entitled to. The other thing I would do if I was Dr R is say adios to Amherst at the end of the school year. Who needs this grief? I bet he could find a job easily in another school system and not be subject to the nonsense that has become the norm in Amherst.

LarryK4 said...

Actually Anon, he did NOT give the SC a "heads up" on being AWOL this past week. That is kinda my point.

AN.W. said...

Catherine: does this blog offer you the option of not allowing people to sign anonymously?

if so, why not use it?

if not, why not find out how to create it?

Anonymous said...

So, he is sick and he is supposed to give them a headsup that he is going to be sick????? If I understand this all correctly, he did not plan to need medical attention this week...his DR recommended it.

Seems like the SC can't have it both ways...be upset when he gives advanced notice or be upset when he gets sick and tells them the day of that he is sick.

I bet he can bring a note from his DR!!!! Won't that get him out of detention?

Again....what business is any of this of ours? I just don't see that it is any of our business. He needed time off to attend to a medical procedure that his Dr recommend he have. He had the necessary sick days so that he could be paid for his time off. What, exactly, is the problem? Can someone explain it to me cuz I really don't get it.

LarryK4 said...

I'm about to undergo surgery next month, but I would not describe it as being "sick".

It's a "planned" operation. So if it's planned, I can make arrangements well in advance for the care of my two daughters, my small business, etc.

The Super put in a memo (in the interest of "transparency") to the SC on 2/9 when he would be out for the rest of the year and this included "vacation" time, "professional leave" time, a "religious holiday" that is NOT in his contract, and advanced use of "sick" time.

He did not explain the ADVANCE use of sick time and--more important--this past week's absence was NOT in that memo.

Any member of the Amherst Schools can take "advance" sick time leave for themselves or a family member BUT they must fill out the Family Medical Leave Act paperwork and have a medical doctor sign off on it.

Or maybe the Super is just too super to have the rules apply to him.

ARHS Parent said...

Maybe I am not following the entire issue that closely, but I thought the original point of bringing up Dr. Rodriguez's days away from the office is HOW MANY there were, not necessarily how much notice he gave. When I see how much time he has spent away from his office between July 1st and March 3rd (today), it does seem excessive. Especially since he is a new employee. I know all of our contracts give us a certain number of sick and vacation days a year but on our first year on the job, it is not really a good idea to use them all up in the first seven months! The first year on any job is usually about putting in a lot of time to learn the system and to build trust. Taking this much time off in such a short time doesn't send the right message.

Although I will also agree with those who say it isn't really any of our business what the condition is Dr. Rodriguez is dealing with. That is his business. But if HR requires employees to produce a doctor's note, he should be required to produce one as well. Not to be shared publicly.

Anonymous said...

Just because SOME people have been rude and inappropriate about Dr. R.'s leave time doesn't render ALL questions about the topic out of bounds.

What a nice diversionary tactic, indeed, inadvertant or not.

TomG said...

Actually TomG the only question I would now like answered is did the Super file the Family Medical Leave Act paperwork or not?

You seem more interested in procedure and chickenshit - a military term for an obsession about bureaucratic process - and "point scoring" than any substantive issue. Your concern goes beyond performance to personal peccadilloes about other people's respect for procedure.

You should be asking members of the SB, like CS, about this, not grandstanding about this. What am I saying, Larry Kelley not grandstanding?

Sanderson has told you about what she considers important. Have you told here what you think is important that she hasn't mentioned?

Let the SC do their jobs.

Your hobby of targeting hired officials is not constructive in this case.

TomG said...

Larry Kelley at 2:45 = Micromanaging how Mr Kelley wants the superintendent to do his job and manage his foreseeable absences due to health issues.

TomG said...

Here's the thing. We have some extremely competent people managing the schools on the school committee which includes hiring the superintendent. Clearly they can handle this situation. Make your concerns known to them. Ask for information you need or want. Let the School Committe do their job. Expect them to be as open and honest about the issue as possible while respecting reasonable confidentiality expectations such as those between employer and employee, employee and health privacy, health privacy and disclosure regarding absences. Try to act like adults all working to toward the same goal rather than a bunch of people with torches and pitchforks righteously demanding justice. Maybe its time for anger to take a holiday and reason to guide our actions.

LarryK4 said...

Come on TomG, I have 35 years martial arts experience and you sound like you have military experience.

I NEVER let anger guide my actions (clouds the mind.)

Nina Koch said...

I hope people will keep in mind that we are currently trying to attract a middle school principal.

The pool of qualified people who want to be school administrators is getting smaller every year. We need to make our district look attractive.

I reject the argument of "If you can't take the heat stay out of the kitchen." It's one thing if a kitchen gets hot in the normal course of preparing food. It's another thing if someone is walking around with a blowtorch setting small fires just to watch the chef dance. You will soon find that you can't hire a chef.

I am not addressing the people who are asking questions or raising concerns in a respectful manner. I am addressing the people who seem to take pleasure in others' discomfort.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Dr. Rodriguez is no fool.

The diversionary tactic has been established in today's Gazette: "criticism of me is coming from people that didn't want me here in the first place, those blasted blogger cowards".

I say that there's a problem with EIGHT WEEKS away from one's first year on the job, being paid THE top dollar of any public official in the Valley.

But this will eventually all be dismissed as unfairness, bias, prejudice and bigotry.

The Gazette article lays down the marker.

TomG said...

Anon 6:16 PM. You may well be right but what you say makes no argument about the supers' performance. Instead you imply that he has a need to create a diversion. If you are going to criticize a person's performance, you ought to do so by comparing their performance with their job description, especially if you expect the same when your job performance is judged ... Golden Rule and all that.

TomG said...

In the spirit of full disclosure, I'd like to note that Dr R was my second choice for super. Nonetheless, I will not stand by while anonymous bloggers give Dr R just cause for defending himself against spurious attacks by anonymous bloggers.

Can any of the people who are posting here talk about substantive concerns about the Dr R's performance this year, about how he has/has not met the bar as described in the job description and the priorities put forth by the School Committee?

Who agrees that this is the direction that this blog conversation could go in order to be constructive ... as opposed to a not merit less attack about insignificant issues?

TomG said...

... as opposed to a merit less attack about insignificant issues?

LarryK4 said...

TomG: Just because some Cowardly, Anon, Nitwit posts a COMMENT on a blog (mine or Catherine's) does not make them a "blogger."

My definition of a blogger (and I think Catherine will agree) is somebody who has a BLOG, thus making it easy to identify who the hell they are.

Jeff B said...

Catherine, Nina, etc...
I just posted to Larry's blog asking why none of the rude people had apologized and wished the superintendent well. I don't check in very often (the kids graduated and moved on, and to some extent, so did I), but what a surpise to check in here. It is a shame that the trusting people tend not to speak up. And yes, I agree, it's too bad that the Gazette now publishes comments from anonymous complainers. I hesitate to write this, knowing that it will probably lead to more people criticizing the superintendent for needing a medical procedure or me for defending it. However, I am just writing to add one more voice on the side of leaving the superintendent alone. Surgery and budget crises are bad enough without having to deal with all of this nonsense.

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:16

Point taken.

So let's leave it at this: remember what I've said when his performance IS evaluated by those who have witnessed it first-hand.

I believe that's coming on March 9.

Let's see if those who are critical at that point are given a fair shake.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the override, I feel that people are not going to vote for or against it based on what they learn in the next few weeks. People have an understanding about how resources are allocated in Amherst, and they either trust the stewards or they don't. I personally feel that the track record regarding the public schools is a bad one (not based on the decisions of the current district leadership or the current newish principal in my children's school, but rather based on decisions that were made over the last decade or so by predecessors). My feeling is that we need more time with the new administration, more time to see how changes will be implemented and what direction we are taking in the schools before I will vote for an override.

I would also like to add that Nina's post about the fact that we are trying to recruit a middle school principal is right on. Nina, I sincerely appreciate your thoughtful posts. I am thankful that you take the time to contribute.

LarryK4 said...

Come on Professor Jeff, if you suddenly disappeared for a week with no advance notice to your department Umass would, well, ummm, (since your probably tenured) do, ummm, SOMETHING.

The good Super can certainly use his sick time in advance for a medical procedure, but he has to fill out Family Medical Leave Act paperwork and have a doctor sign off if it's three days or more.

Last week he was out for five--almost all of it unscheduled.

TomG said...

Larry 7:25 PM,

I won't quibble over who is and who is not a blogger.

The points made about anonymous comments remain, and remain unaddressed by you in any substantive way. You wont engage in any of the substantive points made by me and others, which is your choice.

You won;t comment on the question about how to raise the level of the discussion here, which is your choice.

Ed said...

There is one thing being missed here.

Vacation/Personal time is an entitlement that you OWN. You are supposed to use all of it each year.

Sick time is a form of insurance, it is there as a form of insurance BUT YOU AREN'T EXPECTED TO USE ALL OF IT EACH YEAR!

I have $100,000/$300,000 in insurance on my automobile, but I am not expecting to use that each year (and hoping to never use it).

Same thing here. The Supt is given far more sick days than anyone would ever use with the expectation that he has them as backup in case he needs them, but that he is never going to actually use them.

An employee who cleans out his sick days is, I am told, of concern to management....

LarryK4 said...

Geeze Tom, maybe if everybody came out of the closet (so to speak) and had to sign their real names it would raise the level of discourse.

But we see how well that is doing on Ricky Boy's--oops I mean--Mr. Hood's blog or even the new wonderkids website Localocracy.

A.N.W. said...

"I'm a blogger" "No I'm a blogger" "I'm a real blogger because I use my name" "No, I'm a real blogger because I read every post." "no me" "no me"

what the heck does this have to do with amherst schools?

Nina Koch said...

Larry,

The supt announced at the school committee meeting that his doctor was faxing the paperwork. Drop it already.

Focus on the issues. Here is your assignment: talk about something educational and do it without including silly nicknames, references to past grievances, or snipes at people you don't like. Just the topic. See if you can do it.

LarryK4 said...

So Nina, why don't you disappear for a week without any advance notice and see how well you fare.

Anonymous said...

LarryK4 said:
Come on Professor Jeff, if you suddenly disappeared for a week with no advance notice to your department Umass would, well, ummm, (since your probably tenured) do, ummm, SOMETHING.


It wouldn't be noticed until/unless he missed scheduled responsibilities on campus(teaching, meetings, office hours). Being a professor is not at all the same as an office job where there is a daily routine focused on being at your desk.

C'mon, stop wasting time with ridiculous non-points.

LarryK4 said...

Actually there A&W you're not a blogger. You're an Anon.

Anonymous said...

Larry, I've often wondered. What happened to you in life to make you such an angry, mean spirited person? It must have been bad. For what it's worth, I'm sorry.

Anonymous said...

The Super's addressing of the leave issue is now up on ACTV in the March 1 SC meeting.

Judge for yourself.

I see a man who thinks that the best defense is a self-pitying offense.

Mr. Rhodes said it best: without even the slightest explanation from the Dr., the public had a right to ask questions.

LarryK4 said...

Anon 9:39 PM

You're an Anon, so your pity is kind of like the Vice Presidency: Not worth a warm bucket of spit.

Anonymous said...

As a district, I hope we bring back programs in the elementary schools for enthusiastic learners who need to be challenged further in the classroom. I see in my child's classroom that some of the children who need extra help have made some huge strides this year. It is wonderful and I commend the hard working teachers and para's who have put in the time with the children. And I wish that my child, who is an enthusiastic learner and eager to please his teachers could get some individualized attention or small group instruction as well.

If anyone has any feedback about what direction we are moving in in this regard, I'd appreciate it. Also, if you have any advice about what you have done that has worked in terms of getting some extra help for your children who needed to be challenged a little more, please share your experiences.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I'll tell you what worked at Ft. River for our family. At the end of each year, I lobbied (big time) for which teacher my kids would get the next year. If you don't advocate for your kid, no one else will. I also supplemented them with outside tutoring. And in the end...I pulled them out of the public schools and moved them to private. The schools here are trying to recover from catering to the lowest common denominator. They're trying to recover, but it will take time; change takes time. Advocate for your kids, whether they're in special ed or accelerated. If you feel your child isn't getting what they need, get outside tutoring, or look into private school.
Ali

Anonymous said...

"Mr. Rhodes said it best: without even the slightest explanation from the Dr., the public had a right to ask questions."


Some disagree. Why is that?

Anonymous said...

Regarding getting extra help for enthusiastic learners in our elementary schools, a culture of high expectations for all students in our schools would be a good start. I just haven't seen in my kid's school that the expectations are high. There seems to be this sense that kids aren't what they used to be, parents aren't what they used to be, and therefore, our expectations should be adjusted because the kids simply can't achieve on the highest levels anymore.

I think social justice means that our more eager learners should be given a chance to really thrive and grow in Amherst, along with the children who have special education needs and ELL. I realize that there are legal requirements for meeting the needs of special education students and ELL, but that to me is the bare minimum we should be doing. Of course those students should get extra help. It doesn't mean, however, that we should not be trying to do more for the kids who need to be challenged more.

A high tide floats all boats.

My feeling is that we need to focus more on the students who have been neglected in our public schools, the ones who the teachers use for classroom management by seating them between the two rowdiest kids in the class. I am not convinced that we can't do that for budget reasons and I would like to understand if there are philosophical reasons the administrators do not have more of an emphasis on this subgroup of students. Please don't start with the excuse about some threat of a lawsuit in years past. There is no legal precedent for not giving extra help to students who are eager and enthusiastic and extremely focused on learning. Districts around the country and yes, even in Massachusetts, focus on these students everyday.

There is this sense in this community that the kids who need to be challenged more also have extra resources at home and their parents should shoulder the burden of educating them and challenging them at home. I disagree with this sentiment wholeheartedly. It is biased to assume that the kids who need to be challenged more have more financial resources. Plus parenting is hard enough. We need to agree in Amherst that the most enthusiastic learners and the most eager students come from all socio-economic backgrounds, from every race and ethnicity, and from every religion. And that all our children deserve the chance to thrive in school.

I know a special ed student whose parents drive a Mercedes. Does that mean the child does not deserve the extra help in school? I drive a Honda, my kid is not a special education student or an English language learner. He likes to read a lot and he has a special interest in the solar system and math. I want to know if Amherst public schools can serve my child too. Can you help him reach his potential and challenge him more in the classroom, or have him pulled out of class in a small group of kids with similar interests? What do Amherst public schools have to offer my kid in terms of academics? I am particularly interested in hearing about the elementary schools.

How's that prostate, Ed? said...

Ed said...

This is Bull****!

No private employer would put up with this. A private employer would demand doctor's notes, would demand scheduling, would never permit this vacation in sunny Florida under any circumstance.

We are the employer. We should expect less? We pay less????

March 2, 2010 6:27 PM


Poor guy. I bet he wishes he had never seen us.

How's that prostate, Ed?

Have you checked yourself lately?

.....

Anonymous said...

Ali, thanks for the response. My attempt to change the discussion is off-topic in terms of the Gazette article, but much more important in my view. I've read your posts before, especially at the time redistricting was being debated on this blog. I recall you mentioned you sent your kids to a private school. We are looking at that option as well. We have two kids and it's a hefty cost. It'd be interesting to compare notes with someone who started in the public school and then transferred to a private school. You have that comparative perspective. If you have time, could you list out some services, resources, or just positive offerings in the private school that your child wasn't offered in the public school. Or was it just a higher level of rigor in general? Do you have any regrets? Many thanks.

Anonymous said...

Not Ali, but I've had my child in both private and public schools.

So, how does a private school respond differently than public school to a child's fascination with fungi, rocket science or American Girl dolls?

What they often do is provide long-term learning activities (usually reports or hands-on projects) through which your child can use his or her interests as a topic of study. However, public schools also provide that avenue through individual choice research projects (fourth grade and up). T

IN MY EXPERIENCE, there isn't that much difference between public and private approaches to encouraging a child's personal interests, except for the school's library resources (and Amherst has great school libraries) and perhaps a culture of celebrating individual intellectual curiousity that is more constant and more explicit.

I saw and heard celebration of intellectural curiousity in Amherst too during my time working in the schools. The differences in that aspect are not that huge.

Private schools, like public schools, have an established curriculum. They are not going to allow a child to deviate far from that curriculum except for these self-directed projects.

My son had a keen interest in a certain aspect of natural science. We took him to zoos, live presentations, did nature camps, got videos and books (free -- library) and otherwise encouraged him at home. It never crossed my mind that his private school was supposed to do any of this for him. There were 20 kids in his class and one teacher. Not very different from ARPS today.

There were kids with learning differences and behavior issues at both of his private schools. While the socio-economic background issues were different from ARPS students, the behaviors were not that different.

Just one person's experience, but I hope it is helpful. I'm sure others can chime in with their own experiences, but frankly this is a blog about improving public schools. I'm not sure too much time should be spent on private school options when that is not a possibility for most families.

Now, a discussion about charter schools is another matter. I'd personally like to hear more about how the Chinese immersion school experience is going for people.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Anon 11:20. Similar questions were popping into my mind as I read Ali's post.

If you have the time and inclination, Ali, I also would be interested in your reponse to Anon 11:20's queries.

Anonymous said...

the level of nastiness that this blog has brought out of this town is shocking. and depressing.
WHAT is wrong with this town?!

LarryK4 said...

W-A-Y too many Cowardly, Anon, Nitwits.

Anonymous said...

Hi 12:22p. Thanks for the feedback. Point well taken about the fact that the private schools are not an option for some families. I am trying to get at whether there are certain approaches that could be implemented in our public schools or whether there might be something specific I could inquire with the classroom teacher or principal about trying to do. No matter what, I'd rather read about something like this than Ed's prostate (I do hope he is okay) or someone's sick leave request.

Regarding the PVCIC, we know at least five families who send their kids there and they rave about it. Remember that even though it is a public option, there is some self-selection going on in terms of the types of families and kids that are interested in the school. This may mean that the families who are sending their kids there are more engaged and tend to prioritize learning and education in their households.

Anonymous said...

There was some discussion on an earlier thread about whether teachers had been surveyed and what would help them feel more supported in our public schools. Here is a Washington Post article dated March 3, 2010 on that topic. The title is "Supportive leadership helps retain top people." The first paragraph is:

"A national survey of more than 40,000 public school teachers suggests that while higher salaries are far more likely than performance pay to help keep top talent in the classroom, supportive leadership trumps financial incentives."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/02/AR2010030204203.html


I would add that if we want to retain and attract top administrators and principals, we need a supportive community, as Nina suggested in an earlier post.

Anonymous said...

Charter schools self-select by not offering school-provided transportation. This means anyone who does not have access to a reliable car or can utilize carpooling would not be considering that option.

Interesting factoid: n Pennsylvania ALL children are entitled to free bussing regardless of whether they attend public or private school.

Anonymous said...

Anon said:
"This may mean that the families who are sending their kids there are more engaged and tend to prioritize learning and education in their households."


I think this means that they are engaged and prioritize education but you can't know if they do/care MORE than families who don't use that option. There are lots of considerations in sending a kid to PVCCIS, including transportation resources.

The rapid growth of PVCCIS concerns me given the fact that it is essentially a Mom & Pop shop run by a married couple with no education backgrounds (they both come out of business). I'd want to see evidence that they are bringing in admin staff (middle management).

The lack of oversight re:charter schools is pretty bizarre.

Anonymous said...

To March 4, 2010 11:20 AM: Both my kids got scholarships to their schools. So don't rule out private because you think it's too expensive. The biggest difference I see between the private and public schools is that the teachers have a bigger presence on the campus. They eat breakast, lunch and dinner with the students. They also coach at least one sport. Most of these schools have Saturday classes too. The kids have advisors who check in with them several times a week. Another difference is the down time. One son's school has at least two 90-minute blocks of time during the school day when the entire school is down, no one has class. The teachers are in their classrooms and available for students to come in and either sit there and do homework quietly, if they have a question the teacher is right there; they can also come in for extra instruction during that time. Some students choose to go to their room or the library. In the evening there are teacher-proctored study halls. Also most of the teachers live on campus, so kids can go to their apartment and get help in the evening. It's an atmosphere where academics are taken seriously and if you don't do well, you leave. Is it expensive? Yup. Is it worth it? You bet! Ali

Anonymous said...

Good article from the Washington Post. Speaking of strong leadership, I heard the principal at the PVCIC is a super smart, super dedicated MIT grad. We weren't excited about Mandarin but if there were a Spanish or French immersion charter school, we'd sign up. Or Math or Science for that matter.

Anonymous said...

I'd be interested to know how many lottery applicants the PVCIC has for next fall for the K spots and 1st grade. 204p.m., the oversight comes when parents who aren't happy withdraw their kids. It seems like the opposite is happening there. I have heard many positive things and we have several acquaintances who are trying to get in there for the fall. I know of one family who signed up there specifically because they did not want to send their child to Crocker Farm this past fall. And I know of another family that signed their child up there for K this past fall, because they knew they would be redistricted and did not want to have to start at Wildwood for K and then have to switch schools a year later.

I don't know how many PVCIC families read this blog, but I'd love to hear their experiences. And if you know any of them, please let us know why they like it or not. It's obviously not because of the building.

Anonymous said...

"I heard the principal at the PVCIC is a super smart, super dedicated MIT grad. "

Amherst school staff are pretty smart and dedicated, too!

Anonymous said...

During a job interview there, that very smart MIT grad asked me what did a Special Education license really mean anyway. And he didn't ask especially nicely.

Caveat emptor.

Anonymous said...

"the level of nastiness that this blog has brought out of this town is shocking. and depressing.
WHAT is wrong with this town?!"

Look around. The town has no business tax base. It's all on the backs of the homeowners, so when we get to the point where the state and feds cut deeply into the money they have been funneling our way for decades we are in trouble.

Homeowners are presented with choices, and many Americans are not willing to increase their taxes.

This scenario brings out the worst in people. America is in the throes of the same nasty attitude influenza, if you will.

Add to that some very pushy school committee members, whose first move for the past couple of years has been aggressive on every topic and you get fuel on the fire.

Amherst is a town of many experts who appear to be lousy listeners.

Had the school committee members in question come to the fore with a different tone, not condemning and accusing and wanting to leap frog over the process of evaluation of programs, etc, then maybe things would have gone differently.

However, a lot of people in town simply got tired of being beaten about the head and ears so they too took the gloves off and let it fly.

Seems a natural human reaction to me.


Even though these same school committee members say they didn't come to the game with said attitude, one cannot deny the many in the public who felt the over the top tone.

To deny the affect of their actions and words is intentional ignorance. If your child's teacher barked at your kid and your kid came home crying, you would want to talk with the teacher to let him know the intensity of his words. Would you accept the teacher's argument that he didn't really bark at the kid, the kid is overeacting and getting defensive?

I doubt it.

People's words, tone and postures have an affect, which may not be the intended affect, but nonetheless is still very real.

A civil tone. Maybe it simply starts and ends there, but the cat on this blog got out of that bag a long time ago.

You want this all to sttle down, then maybe the school committee members in question ought to resign so the healing can begin.

But I guess that will be a very busy day, when hell freezes over.

Back to you, Chet. Flame away, Ed.

LarryK4 said...

Hey Anon 1:22 PM Check your facts. Last I looked PVCICS had two buses to provide transportation.

Anonymous said...

That's good to know about the busses, Larry.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I have also seen busses sitting in their parking lot. Do we know what they are used for?

The only mention on their website about bussing is that there are subsidies available for eligible students for field trip transportation.

Nothing about daily basic school transportation.

Larry, what is your information about bussing at PVCICS beyond seeing yellow school busses parked there?

Anonymous said...

Wow, Anon 3:03. Let's say the SC stepped back, had more parental input, done a few studies, focus groups, etc. and then did something you don't agree with. You would probably still call them pushy and accused them of not listening.

If people like what they're doing, they like their tone. If they don't agree with them, then their tone is just awful.

Let's get beyond comparing parents and taxpayers to kids in a classroom being treated badly by their teachers. Parents are adults and should try to deal directly with the issues and stop complaining about tone and pushy behavior.

Ed said...

Speaking of prostrates, there was the ongoing saga of a certain UMass administrator who played the prostate cancer game out for years and then finally got bought out and all of a sudden no longer had a prostate problem.

This happened, some may remember it.

And it kinda makes one cynical of undocumented medical stuff. Use your vacation time if you don't want to be held up to public examination - I know of women who have done that for an abortion...

Anonymous said...

Anyone know what's going with the teacher's contract negotiations? Any chance that a giveback can be structured so that only the higher earning personnel participate? How about those earning over $60,000, for example? Is this possible?


Check out my reasoning for the $60,000 point...

"Psychologist and Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman says millions of dollars won't buy you happiness, but a job that pays $60,000 a year might help. Happiness levels increase up to the $60K mark, but 'above that it's a flat line,' he said."

"'Money does not buy you experiential happiness but lack of money certainly buys you misery,'" he said. But the real trick, Kahneman said, is to spend time with people you like."

CNN: Ten big ideas from TED 2010

follow this link:
http://www.cnn.com/2010/OPINION/02/11/ted.big.ideas/index.html

Linda L. said...

4:37 - please tell me you're kidding.

Anonymous said...

I know that I've been absolutely miserable ever since my income rose above $60K.

curious observer said...

Hasn't Catherine Sanderson been asking for real program and subject evaluations since she started on the school board?

Didn't she want to hire the most experienced Superintendent candidate?

Didn't she vote against the current superintedent salary?

Doesn't she want to understand how and why the district spends money?

Is any of this pushy?

Anonymous said...

gee, I wish I were able to be so unhappy.

Anonymous said...

To 617p.m., No I am not kidding. It's an idea. What's your idea? Is there something wrong with trying to figure out if a giveback could be structured so that the personnel who earn the least are not affected? How about $65,000? Is that better? The main question was about the negotiations. I don't know if it would make enough of a difference if only the higher paid personnel participated in the giveback, that's what I am wondering. How would you decide? Should the paras who earn less than $20,000 be asked to participate in a giveback? I don't think so. What do you think?

Nina Koch said...

the paras are not part of the bargaining unit that includes teachers. I agree that the paras should not be asked for a giveback.

also, the teachers at the lower end of the salary scale are eligible for step raises while the teachers at the top of the scale are not. So there already is a differential impact.

Anonymous said...

A suggestion for managing this blog:

Perhaps there could be a general discussion area here for those who wish to talk about anything and everything: prostates, school busses out of the Amherst district, etc.?

...for an abortion, Ed said...

...for an abortion, Ed said...

Use your vacation time if you don't want to be held up to public examination - I know of women who have done that for an abortion...

That is very sad.

Guess we know where you stand on that issue, too.

Ed said...

> I know that I've been absolutely
> miserable ever since my income
> rose above $60K.

Wanna trade????

On a more serious note, and this is something that the teachers (etc) ought to both admit to and negotiate: K-12 education is a very family-friendly job. It is particularly friendly to women/mothers.

We still live in a world where women have to make tough choices and they don't have to make them the same way in K-12, not to the extent to which some folk I know are having to. Furthermore, from the perspective of a working parent, there is a lot of time savings inherent in the job.

You don't have to attend "back to school" nights because you already know your childrens' teachers and likely chatted during lunch at the district-wide workshop. You got paid to learn about things (summer workshops, cultural enrichment, etc) that other parents have to learn about on their own time - often from you. And there are a thousand other things.

And there are other things that the district could do very cheaply along these lines - letting teachers ride the school bus to/from school - imagine what it would mean to stressed out working families if one spouse didn't need the car one day a week, and all it would take is a rider on the district's insurance policy.

I personally know women who would love not to have to make some of the decisions they are forced to make. Sure teachers get paid less than they could earn (in theory - one must assume the could get hired) in other professions. But money isn't everything.

And name one other profession that would tolerate the absences from its CEO that the ARSD is willing to? Would MassMutual or Bay State Hospital? In fields other than education, the guy at the top is supposed to sell his/her/its soul to the corporation, except in education where you don't have to.

Teachers are paid in other ways and that needs to be figured into the mix...

Anonymous said...

Ed, I admire your willingness to "blue sky" new ideas. I think your heart's in the right place a lot of the time.

However: I would say that teaching is not as mom-friendly as you make it out to be. Amherst is typically reluctant to allow teacher job-sharing, so parents of newborns (esp if the baby has health issues or is a premie) may have a hard time returning to work. The family leave period is no more generous than whatever is legally mandated, to my knowledge (correct me if I'm wrong). Many teachers end up taking an entire year off after giving birth, although with job-sharing (when possible) they would like to come back sooner.

Many people do not live in the same district in which they work, so the idea that you can kill two birds with one stone (info-gather and monitor your child's school experience AND go to work at the same time) is not realistic.

And teachers can't ride the schoolbus because they would get to school at the same time as the kids, instead of 40 minutes earlier as per contract.

Ed said...

Amherst is typically reluctant to allow teacher job-sharing,

And why isn't the union negotiating this? And why isn't the district offering it as an alternative to layoffs - I have seen part-time positions work quite well in other districts.

I will, however, say one thing: there is an inherent cost often overlooked, that of full time benefits for part time workers and the district would be right in saying that they needed to recover this cost in lower salaries.

Many teachers end up taking an entire year off after giving birth,

At least they have a job to come back to the next year -- and it literally was without prejudice to their career (they go up a step from where they were the last year before the child).

And teachers can't ride the schoolbus because they would get to school at the same time as the kids, instead of 40 minutes earlier as per contract.

My contract didn't have that language in it. And yes, I was aware of the need to be there both before and after school, on a general basis.

Now as to how many teachers would even want to be ON the bus, that too...

But my point, and I think it was lost in the details, is that you don't see ambitious women being forced to decide between marriage/children and career the way I am seeing women in other professions have to decide. It is a very real choice for women in other professions, even for women in higher education as they are having kids the same time they are trying to get tenure, but for women in K-12.

I don't know of the ARSD but I know of other districts where MEN are taking paternity leave. Can you name any other profession where a guy doing that wouldn't be committing career suicide???

My point is simple: teaching is friendly to women and friendly to parents in a way that other professions aren't. You have to grow up in the teaching profession (as I did) and then start looking at what happens elsewhere to understand this point.

Unmarried childless women under 35 (maybe 40) who have a college degree now earn slightly more than their similarly situated male peers. It is the married women with children who skew the gender earning ratios.

If you are working for El-Bigo Law Firm and doing 60-hour weeks, all 52 weeks a year, you are going to fall behind (and off the fast track) taking maternity leave. This isn't true in K-12.

Other than the missed step increases for the year(s) taken off (and how many other professions would let you take the whole year off?), can anyone show any difference between the women who have kids and those who don't?

It is not like all the mothers have to become paras while the childless women become principals. That *IS* true in other professions and teachers need to be thankful for what they have...

Ed said...

Amherst is typically reluctant to allow teacher job-sharing,

And why isn't the union negotiating this? And why isn't the district offering it as an alternative to layoffs - I have seen part-time positions work quite well in other districts.

I will, however, say one thing: there is an inherent cost often overlooked, that of full time benefits for part time workers and the district would be right in saying that they needed to recover this cost in lower salaries.

Many teachers end up taking an entire year off after giving birth,

At least they have a job to come back to the next year -- and it literally was without prejudice to their career (they go up a step from where they were the last year before the child).

And teachers can't ride the schoolbus because they would get to school at the same time as the kids, instead of 40 minutes earlier as per contract.

My contract didn't have that language in it. And yes, I was aware of the need to be there both before and after school, on a general basis.

Now as to how many teachers would even want to be ON the bus, that too...

But my point, and I think it was lost in the details, is that you don't see ambitious women being forced to decide between marriage/children and career the way I am seeing women in other professions have to decide. It is a very real choice for women in other professions, even for women in higher education as they are having kids the same time they are trying to get tenure, but for women in K-12.

I don't know of the ARSD but I know of other districts where MEN are taking paternity leave. Can you name any other profession where a guy doing that wouldn't be committing career suicide???

My point is simple: teaching is friendly to women and friendly to parents in a way that other professions aren't. You have to grow up in the teaching profession (as I did) and then start looking at what happens elsewhere to understand this point.

Unmarried childless women under 35 (maybe 40) who have a college degree now earn slightly more than their similarly situated male peers. It is the married women with children who skew the gender earning ratios.

If you are working for El-Bigo Law Firm and doing 60-hour weeks, all 52 weeks a year, you are going to fall behind (and off the fast track) taking maternity leave. This isn't true in K-12.

Other than the missed step increases for the year(s) taken off (and how many other professions would let you take the whole year off?), can anyone show any difference between the women who have kids and those who don't?

It is not like all the mothers have to become paras while the childless women become principals. That *IS* true in other professions and teachers need to be thankful for what they have...