Great train robbery ahead with school COVID closures, payment of teachers, staff - Must Read Alaska
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Saturday, September 19, 2020
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Great train robbery ahead with school COVID closures, payment of teachers, staff

By FRANK MCQUEARY

On Aug. 18, the Anchorage School Board will meet to approve a new COVID-19-influenced agreement for returning to the classroom.  

Under this agreement, teachers will be required to teach 30 minutes of Math and 30 minutes of English 4 days a week…for full pay.

What does this mean to you as a parent or tax payer?

It means that you will continue to pay for a full class work week and get 4 hours of “remote education.”  If the work week of a teacher was 40 hours, that would equate to paying 10 times more for an arguably inferior product.

This is a conservative estimate, because we don’t know what is happening to the other disciplines. Are civics teachers getting full pay? Do we even have civics teachers anymore?

What about all of the administrative folks? With no students in the classrooms, how many administrators will be working “remotely” and getting full pay?

The Anchorage taxpayer was already getting the worst education “deal” in the country with ASD students scoring at the very bottom of national tests.

Another way to look at this is the State of Alaska school-funding formula.  The Anchorage School District gets more than $20,000 dollars for a nine-month school year. You could argue that the current proposal would mean that you are paying the same $20,000 per student, but only getting 4 hours per week of instruction for your children.

In the world of private enterprise, the abysmal failure of the Anchorage School District to provide an “acceptable product” would result in firings, bankruptcies, and rapid competitive alternatives.

It is hard to imagine that those we have chosen to represent us and our children on the school board are so lacking in personal integrity that they will be voting for this “solution” next week. If you wish to witness this travesty of public process you will have to hunt for a way to access it on the internet; the School Board no longer allows their meetings to be aired on the municipal TV channel.

As a footnote I would like to say that I know there are many fine teachers in the district and I know that the union representatives and administration officials will claim that part of the difficulty is that they are teaching and administrating in one of the most diverse districts in the country. 

If you are at least open to questioning that excuse, read Thomas Sowell’s newest book, Charter Schools and Their Enemies.  In one of the poorest minority districts in the country, New York City, several different charter systems drawing on the same poor, black and Hispanic populations have far outpaced their public schools counterparts…in the same building with the same student demographics and for far less money than the public schools. Black and brilliant, Thomas Sowell is walking proof that diversity is not an excuse.

Frank McQueary is a graduate of East Anchorage High School, 1963, and former vice chairman of the Alaska Republican Party.

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  • Will this comment make the cut? The union needs to be busted and disbanded with a new school board representing the parents and children to give them a proper education and chance at a productive life. We all can’t be ANTIFA..

    • Also having problems with disappearing comments?

      • A lot of that going around lately.

      • Getting predictable. I’m out.

  • It is of paramount importance that the political apparitchniks keep school teachers & public sector “workers” on the payroll lest the Covid Plannedemic lose steam. Just imagine if the aforementioned suddenly became unemployed like the rest of us. The lockdowns & other silly mandates would end quickly. We are being played for fools.

  • Thank you Frank. This is a serious problem. I heard an ASD parent comment recently that roughly 25% of students in the district did not submit a single assignment during the last quarter of the 2019-2020 school year under remote learning conditions. In other words, at least 25% were “truant” from school. I suspect that this may be a low estimate. Thomas Sowell may be the most undervalued intellectual of our time and I would encourage everyone with kids in school to read his book on charter schools. In another of his books (Intellectuals and Society) he points out that “if people do not want a particular thing done, even if the intelligentsia consider it desirable or even imperative, that is not a difficulty. That is democracy.”

  • The hits keep coming, what a freaking train wreck.

    Our Muni leadership just sucks…

  • Maybe you rinos should have gone into teaching. LMAO ….Got a little thing called a contract. Federal money going to school districts shouldn’t be your concern. It’s not like you will see any of it. My district wouldn’t lay off anyone. Come on in Ed
    The water is fine.

  • Want arguments against opening the schools to disappear almost immediately?

    Have the teachers do their virtual lessons from the classrooms. There is no reason why they cannot teach from their classrooms, instead of from their homes. Normal school hours, the only difference is the kids are zooming in instead of attending the class in person.

    If they are getting paid full time, they should be working full time. And, having them teach from the classrooms is the only way to ensure they actually do their jobs.

  • I was a part time shop teacher and would have made more drawing unemployment but that would have taken money away from the district fund so I was kept on the payroll along with Paras as an at will or on call employee. I ended up working more hours for the same pay, while they got quarantined and paid time off.

    • You know, I started to feel sorry for you Greg, then I remembered your lack of empathy regarding my coins, my way of making a living, being stolen by a corrupt Trooper. Oh, and then when I complained I was attacked…spending 11 YEARS of my life fighting. So here: (.) this is for you! In case you can’t find your magnifying glass… it’s the worlds smallest violin playing a sad, sad, song for you!

      • Sorry for me???? Please don’t. I am happily retired living in Florida.

  • Hi Frank. Only have one little problem with your column. “In the world of private enterprise, the abysmal failure of the Anchorage School District to provide an “acceptable product” would result in firings, bankruptcies, and rapid competitive alternatives”. No Frank, in today’s world they would be considered too big or too important to fail and they’d get a nice hefty bailout. It used to be that I happily voted Republican because they (you?) were the party of fiscal responsibility. Now, because of my religious beliefs, I’m forced to vote against Dems. Your message seems to be drowned out by the sounds of the Federal printing presses!

    • Antonio: You are right and you are wrong..and understanding the distinctions is critical. Yes, the partnerships between bureaucracies, non-profits, beltway bandits and NGO’s has created a confusing and paranoid world where free enterprise and competition have no role. These “partnerships” have nothing to do with free enterprise or the ill defined concept of capitalism. It is the very lack of competition which is symptomatic of the growth of bureaucracy.

      We now have a bureaucracy which controls so much of the financial and regulatory economy that it feels entitled based on “expertise” to dictate to the populace on just about everything.

      I can’t tell you how many bureaucrats I have had say to me in so many words: “I don’t care what that (SOB) says, I was here when he was elected and I will be here when he is gone.” But the real danger point in bureaucratization is when they feel powerful enough to dictate who you select for public office. No authoritarian government can exist without the support of a powerful, dominating bureaucracy and we are on the verge of investing that much power in our bureaucracies. Unionized federal, state, and local government employees are paid a premium over similarly qualified private sector employees and they are paid regardless of the economic cataclysms taking place in the private sector. E.g., during the Walker/Mallott years here in Alaska the private sector lost more than 12,000 jobs due to low oil prices and yet the state employees got their contract raises and automatic (unmerited) merit increases totaling approximately 4% a year through it all. Right now many city employees are working half time and being paid full time.
      So yes, you are right that the concept of too big to fail is not free enterprise, it is crony capitalism which is not capitalism at all.

    • And your voting for D’s…. because of religious beliefs. WTF?

  • The education ‘train’ left the station, sixty or so years ago. It has been headed to the current educational ‘train wreck’ at an accelerating pace into leftism, for many years. Ranking at number one, or even in the top ten, is not the goal or reality these days for most anything for our kids in school. ‘Participating’ is enough. Keeping score is for racists. Enough real education to scribble your name with more than an ‘x’, since cursive writing was discontinued in many schools. No history, no civics, social studies, and little to count as life skills. Get your ‘diploma’ for being a follower, not a leader. That’s how they do it in China, too.
    I think a train robbery is fitting as a follow-up to the wreck that the education system is in. It’s all about the money, not the kids or their education.
    One must be careful, cynicism can get a grip when no news is good news.

    • Ben, excellent comment.

  • Always was about the money and not the kids. Graduation rate and academic achievements are sub par with similar sized school districts. Try and fire an incompetent teacher, impossible. The teachers union is the gift that keeps on giving. Indoctrination masters just got one hell of a pay raise and still crying “poor me”. This is liberalism at work. Parents must demand more from the school board and hold them accountable. Seems easier to close the barn door after the horses have left.

  • K12 government education is the essence of a monopoly. Unfortunately, we all lose, esp. the kids.

  • Private school seems expensive, however for our family it was not much more expensive than what we were already accustomed to paying for daycare. We researched the Anchorage private schools, secular and non, and were astonished at how excellent they all were. We have been very happy with this and it has been worth the financial sacrifice. Virtually all of the schools have some form of financial assistance and / or volunteer options to aid in making the cost of schooling affordable. One of the schools is only $5,000 annually with heavy parent volunteer hours, and also participates in dual enrollment as part of the State of Alaska’s home schooler reimbursement program, making it within the financial reach of many families.

    Our daughter’s private school is starting in person classes on schedule with appropriate measures in place to comply with local Covid mandates. No virtual schooling for us and we are eternally grateful.She gets a high quality education, no drama, in a setting that respects our family values and our pocket book.

    A parent with an ASD student could do worse than having a conversation with one of the private schools in Anchorage to see if they can do better than ASD.
    Anchorage Christian Schools (269-3842); Anchorage Junior Academy (346-2164); Anchorage Montessori School (276-2240); Anchorage Waldorf School (333-9062); Grace Christian School (868-1203); Holy Rosary Academy (276-5822); Pacific Northern Academy (333-1080); St Elizabeth Ann Seton (345-3712)

  • Wow! $20,000 per student, per school year! Anchorage pays more per student than any other school district in the nation, yet ASD scores at the bottom of academic results. It shows money is NOT the problem. Imagine the education Anchorage kids would get if parents were given the $20,000 per student directly. Two kids enrolled in school – here’s $40,000 this year alone to give them an education. Amazing.

  • Half the graduating seniors at ASD cannot do the times tables and read at 7th grade level. These are seniors totally unprepared for real life or work. The biggest problem is no core academic program; common core is a disaster to teach . Most on the school board could not do a simple math problem using common core. Slaska schools are a disgrace we need a parochial school approach, with hard-core structure in discipline and academics. i phones should be banned at schools, but teaching immoral issues is fine and most parents are totally unaware of the propaganda, anti family cr– taught their children every day.

  • Obviously many education jobs are
    “ unessential or must be scaled back to limited pay”
    **
    Limited pay for public employees … So right… So fiscally responsible… So progressive.

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