It all comes down to this


The mournful sound of disappearing jobs - if only

Those poor souls in inner city schools, we love them so!

Carol Sutton, head of Greenwich teachers union, in opening day statements to her subordinates:

Other subjects discussed included the state of the profession of teaching itself, including debates in California over teacher tenure and Teach for America, a program that trains high-achieving college graduates for six weeks and then places them in disadvantaged classrooms — a program Sutton described as “insulting.”

“Like it or not, our profession is political,” she said. “And to care for it* we must be political too.”

* By “it”, she’s referring to their tenured, over-paid jobs, not the students she’s indoctrinating. Which, in turn, means keeping charter schools and “untrained” teachers from threatening her hegemony.

We have met the enemy, and it is Carol Sutton and the NEA.


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43 responses to “It all comes down to this

  1. anon

    Teachers unions are by definition political but United Federation of Teachers (UFT) is pure evil. They are backing and $ sponsored Al Sharpton’s anti-police protest next week. Now there’s a great message to send to kids – your teachers and their unions hate cops. Sick. There’s little hope for kids in public school today getting a balanced view.

  2. Cos Cobber

    It’s nice that the enemy now has a face.

    • Btw, the teachers union is the most dangerous faction in America after trial lawyers.

      The most inexpensive way to improve all of America’s public schools is to end tenure. We have more lottery winners than tenured teachers removed for non performance.

  3. TheBox in 'Byram'

    She and her ilk are the reason many Americans are starting to sour on teachers – a once vaunted profession. Hearing them complain about every challenge to the status-quo and talk about how noble they are with their above average salaries, benefits and pensions that are bankrupting local municipalities while they spend their summers on the beach is really starting to piss off the people struggling in a stagnant economy to foot their bills.

    It’s beyond clear the only concern of Sutton is draining the public fisc into her pockets, the pockets of her political patrons and those of her dues paying members (in that order).

    The system of symbiotic parasitism that is public sector unions has to stop, it’s enriching entrenched interests, promoting mediocrity and stifling even basic improvements like getting rid of bad teachers – let alone ground breaking innovations like charter schools and programs like Teach for America. They get away with this because ‘management’ and ‘labor’ are sitting on the same side of the table feeding on a public who has nobody negotiating on their behalf.

    And lest we forget the biggest losers in all this… well to quote Lib’s favorite line: “WON’T SOMEBODY THINK OF THE CHILDREN?!?”

  4. Al Dente

    BREAKING: Obama has arrived in Ferguson, so all is well:

  5. Mickster

    Eventually, the idea of herding hundreds and thousands of kids into one school building will be archaic – most communication will be online. Then families will have to deal with their own kids ALL day. Interesting times ahead. Video-conferencing, recording of classes etc etc
    Look at Khan Academy
    I would do an international competition for the best teachers in every subject – huge prizes (maybe even royalty deals). Record the classes/lectures and create an academic library or Netflix for students.
    Over 90% of what kids are thought is the same stuff we were thought – why do we need to have this HUGE expensive establishment?
    We can then focus our physical resources on the weaker students who need more hand-holding.

    • anon

      The numbers of homeschooled children are in the rise. But imho, homeschooling takes more discipline, more patience, and more dedication because the kids are with you all day every day. That’s hard.

      I noted that schools in Ferguson were scheduled to start last week but did not. Of all things that should go on, it should be school. Some place for the kids to go all day. I read it was the decision of the teachers union to keep the schools shut, because those teachers wanted to be able to protest. WTF??!

      • Anun

        “the kids are with you all day every day. That’s hard”
        “Some place for the kids to go all day.”
        Teachers should not be used as babysitters. I think if parents had to keep them home more, they’d think twice about having a few more brats. We’d have much smaller families.LOL

        • anon

          That’s a bunch of baloney Anun. Most parents I know respect GOOD teachers and understand how hard their job can be. But don’t forget toots that many teachers don’t teach- they are lousy babysitters who play a video in class to get out of creating an assignment, or don’t bother giving homework because they don’t want to grade it. Good teachers are known in a school district. Bad ones too.

    • Toonces

      but Mickster, then the kids wouldn’t learn to socialize. Oh, wait: they socialize on line now. You make some excellent points but there is no on-line substitute for a fantastic, inspiring, hands on (behave Walt) teacher.
      My daughter has had more than a few of those at GHS. Sure, she goes to Khan academy videos when she doesn’t understand something in her homework, but it’s no substitute.

  6. Publius

    The truly insulting thing is that you have a union shill who works in what I would consider a “private” public school system in one of the wealthiest towns in the US, describing as “insulting” the Teach for America program. The schools in these disadvantaged areas by and large get the dregs of the teaching “profession” to wit the recent ruling in California, ( Vergara v. California) that ruled that teacher tenure deprived students of the educational rights under the California constitution. The link below is to the liberal NYT’s for those who still believe the Gray Lady represents excellence in journalism.

    I know young men and women who have gone into the Teach for America program. It is very hard to get into and the people that do this are very well educated, which is the exact opposite of the public school education profession. They teach in schools that Ms Carol “Sour Puss” Sutton would not want to step inside of under any circumstances. Perhaps if she traveled east to let’s say….. Bridgeport she might get a taste of what it’s like to wander outside a community that will end up spending north of $75mm on an auditorium.

    Public schools in the US are a tale of 2 systems, those that function like private schools (think Greenwich, Darien, New Canaan, Ridgefiled etc…) and the rest, a significant majority, that represent institutionalized day care. The unions long ago stopped caring about the students in the classroom and only cared about making hay for themselves while the sun was shining. It would seem that the sun is starting to set on this mob. Supporting documentation for the term “mob” included below.

    • Toonces

      I love Teach for America. It’s the most awesome invention. What you mention, Publius is not understood by many. Those lucky/smart/talented enough to get into the program go to schools that other teachers often try to avoid. They are the worst schools, most dangerous schools, where the students need good teachers the most.

  7. Greenwich Public Schools are a closed-shop. If you don’t join the union, you still pay the dues, about $1000 annually. In 1988, the Supreme Court, in Communications Workers of America v. Beck, ruled against organized labor and held that non- union employees could not be required to pay full union dues if some of those funds were to be used for activities unrelated to collective bargaining. In other words, a Greenwich teacher can decline to join the union, but STILL MUST PAY UNION DUES, a portion of which are used for ditzy liberal causes opposed by a teacher. Although Beck entitles a teacher to ask for a refund of that political portion, good luck learning how much. The union won’t tell you.

  8. CatoRenasci

    I have been hearing rumors that the new GEA teachers contract coming out of mediation may be a real “f*** you!” to the taxpayers. Maybe it’s time to vote the contract down and tell the teachers to pound sand.

    We had a chance to break the union in the late ’70s, but someone – not sure whether it was Ernie Fleishman or the Board of Education – lost their nerve about taking a strike back when it was legal.

  9. John Doh

    If I’m not mistaken you need a masters degree to teach in Greenwich. How many parents here would be willing to have Havermeyer change they policy and let someone teach your kid with only 6 weeks if training? I doubt any of you would.

    People move to Greenwich, Darien and New Canaan because of the schools. I’m pretty sure CF touts the fantastic school the little ones will go to when he is pitching dirt…

    And while we are talking about unions lets not forget those police and fire fighter unions, talk about benefits and pay! Work a ton of overtime your last 3 years of service (teachers are salaried they get no OT) and reap the benefits in your pension when you retire!

    • The state of CT has had an “alternative certification program” on its books for years, put there in response to public pressure for an alternative pathway for teaching. It requires at least a college degree, summer school, and a year of supervised intern teaching. I thought it might be a rewarding thing to do some years ago and I thought that with both an undergraduate degree and a law degree, perfect standardized test score, including the LSAT, twenty-five years experience as a lawyer, a long history of conducting outdoor-related courses (and even teaching LSAT classes for Kaplan), and a published book and many articles under my belt, I’d at least pass the first hurdle of the application process. I was rejected as unqualified.
      Another lawyer friend of men, a playwright, musician and brilliant scholar, had also been rejected a few years before I was and he warned me before I applied that, while the politicians had to create the program, there was no way the teachers union was going to let in more than a handful of applicants. That turned out to be the case.
      I have known many, many “certified” teachers in my time and my conclusion is that the few good ones were good despite their training and the hacks, the illiterate, dumb, lazy fools loose in the classrooms were there solely because of the protection afforded them by their union and their allies in state government.

      So I’m not impressed by what teachers college turns out, masters degree or otherwise.

      • Anonymous

        A friend with PhD, MAs etc… chose to teach high school. First day of an equivalency program, the teacher put a dot on the blackboard and asked the class to identify it. After a few minutes of equally parts witty and equal parts dumb answers, the teacher revealed the answer. It was a period. A grammatical mark at the end of a sentence – and so began the first class. It was a long six weeks and and drove most participants to teach at private schools where lower pay and no tenure is greatly offset by the freedom to teach.

    • Anonymous

      Obviously you haven’t met some of the mental midgets with masters degrees.

      Their compensation doesn’t bother me. It’s their protectionist work rules designed to benefit bad teachers at the expense of the ‘children’ that is outrageous.

    • Fox

      Six weeks of training? So what? I got a way better than average education years ago in the UK private school system and to my knowledge NONE of the masters/mistresses had had even one day of teacher training. What they did have were masters degrees from either Oxford or Cambridge in the subjects they taught.

    • Publius

      Mr. Doh,

      Do you spend much time with teachers with Master’s degrees? I take it you don’t. Teachers get masters because it’s a box checking exercise. I suspect that Greenwich like many other desirable affluent school districts, put in some criteria to reduce the number of applicants who want to jump on the gravy train. A masters degree would qualify as an applicant suppressant. Teacher’s often have degrees in instruction not in the subject matter they teach. In depth knowledge of the subject matter and the ability to communicate same is what makes an effective teacher. A master’s degree is just a cv filler, no more no less. I will concede that there are teachers in the public schools who have advanced degrees in the subject matter that they teach and tend to be very good and very dedicated. I know from experience because my kids have been fortunate to have some of these teachers in their years in public school.

      Some of the best teachers you will most likely encounter in your life are not formal “teachers” and may not have all the formal degrees of a “professional” teacher but they know their subject well and can effectively pass along their knowledge. That is all that matters. We live in a knowledge based world with the operative word being knowledge. How one obtains this knowledge should not be constrained by the usual institutional pablum that gets repeated ad nauseam by those who run and benefit from the current system.

      • Anonymous

        In fact I do. I have acquaintances who are teachers and have advanced degrees, some are wonderful people and some are jerks. Just like society in general. As they have explained to me tenure does not protect you from being fired, rather it guarantees you a process to ensure you are not wrongfully dismissed. I try my to talk about this with them that much because I tend to lean to the right and we always end up with an argument.

        My kids went through North Street and it was a wonderful school when Ms Burfiend was the principal. As my younger daughter started attending we had Dr. Smith and that school went downhill fast. And we got her out if there too. So don’t just blame the teachers, the administration bears a large part of the burden as well.

        Re masters: are all masters just CV fillers? Or only those for teachers? Many professions ask for a masters or an MBA as a minimum requirement (if you work in finance).

        CF are you saying you don’t talk about the wonderful schools Greenwich has to prospective buyers? I was pretty much told NSS was the best school in the world. And when looking in Darien the first thing the realtor talked about was how great their schools were.

        • I try to stick to the truth when dealing with prospective buyers

        • John Doh

          That’s good to hear, not many Realtors are like this. (Probably why I like this blog)

          When we move back it would be nice to work with you, but with company relos you never know. Just nothing in CC or OG.

          My wife is a Marxist but she can be neutralized with a nice pool and some wine.

  10. Anonymous

    Teach for America has had an interesting unintended consequence. The program founders no doubt thought that it would be a good indoctrination tool for leftie libtard education majors from better schools. What resulted however was that these bright young minds signed on in idealism, but discovered how corrupt, ineffective, and truly bad verging on evil were some of the districts. These youngsters paved the way for “Waiting for Superman,” charter schools in New Orleans, etc.

    None have been brave enough to take on Jabba the Hut in Chicago. That cesspool is just too deep.

    Eff’ the teachers unions and all public employee unions.

    • Toonces

      Anonymous @11:59. The Teach for America founder, Wendy Kopp, is no ‘leftist libtard’. She’s amazing. Best friend of my best friend so I know!
      On a completely unrelated note: John Doh, thanks for the laugh, you’re funny.

  11. Northern Exposure

    To add a little fuel to the fire, over the summer we learned that the best teacher (in our opinion) at Dundee was re-assigned to another school b/c some cupcake mom complained she wasn’t cuddly enough.
    Yes, this teacher (Georgia Tedla) could be tough and was more of a disciplinarian than most — but I guarantee you that our children learned more in her class than in the class of any other teacher there. All came away MUCH better for the experience.
    So this is the sad flip-side of the tenure debate — tenure only for the sheep that don’t rock the political boat. Doubly bad that no one would stick up for this teacher after her 25 years in the system.
    A loss for the families that have moved into the ISD district specifically for the quality of the school.

    • Anun

      You bring up an interesting point..should be have a rotation system in Town. Every two or three years teachers rotate between schools?

      • anon

        That rotation happens regularly. It’s called a lateral shuffle. When a school wants to get rid of a bad apple but union laws don’t allow him/her to be canned. The teacher ends up at another school, to unsuspecting parents.

        • Anonymous

          They do that with students too. a kid is kicked out of one middle school for criminal behavior and they re-enroll them at another (usually Eastern)

  12. Anonymous

    And people are surprised that parents want to send their kids to private schools in Greenwich.

    • nutmegger

      Bad teachers (and students who cause trouble) don’t last long in the private schools for the most part. There are some ‘so-so’ teachers but the ones who are consistent under-performers either don’t get hired or last 1-2 years.

      • Anonymous

        and only 40G’s per year for that. (I am including the expected donations)

      • anon2

        Only once did I have trouble with a private school teacher. She had a nervous breakdown very early in the year and the school was not only tight-lipped about why she was out, the children in her class were subjected to a series of substitutes. Parents were very angry that of the three sixth grade classes, the one with the subs lost pretty much the whole year of consistent learning. $35k for diddley.

        • We had that happen in 8th grade at Eastern. Poor guy named Donald Iglesrude came straight from graduate school to 8th grade boys and we permanently drove the poor bastard out of teaching by mid-November. David O’Brien, Eastern’s outstanding biology teacher (for 9th graders) told me later, “Don should never have left academia – he wasn’t meant for it.”

          I still feel a little guilty for joining in the fun, but 8th grade boys love a challenge, and if the teacher can’t squash them like the despicable bugs they are, he’s doomed.

    (warning spell chekkk did not help me with my limited ability in that realm)
    Neither myself ‘nor my immediate family have ever spent an hour in a Public School as a student.
    My credentials are poor in this subject BUT:
    As a proud Labor Union member during my prep school and undergrad years I do have some creds. regarding unions, as a practicing licensed Landscape Architect for 35 (yikes!) years I do have some experience from the design managment side.
    Infrasctructure projects make the lowliest incompetent teacher look Einstein brilliant. The PE brain dominated “design” structure, with all union required projects wage minimums, hand picked cronie ‘designers’ and bidders and willful neglect of anticipated costs to boost budgets happens every day.
    Connecticut was jolted to the foreground in country wide political, union public works fraud with the I95 bridge failure.
    The bridge fell because the State DPW paved over the drain grates placed to avoid salt from snow treatment and nightly salt laden dew there. Defeating the brilliant design (that was embelmatic of the pre unionized post WWII real engineering) by directing the runoff to the very joints/hangars that were designed to be strong, econmical and withstand the disturbance potential from an earthquake in that the Mianus Valley is a real fault line area. Solution: infaltion adjusted bridge replacement that was 8 times more expensive and took 250% longer to build than the original….and does not address quake protection.
    Congressional hearings were held after the disaster in what is now JHouse set up by then DC operative Weicker, facts jumped out briefly, accused original engineer was paid into silence as rebuild went forward….unions gave Weicker the next Governor’s election.
    Here we are 30 years later and the pols and unions and PE brains are screaming for more money to rebuild what they claim as “necessary” to avoid another such disaster. They define necessary, that is where the conflict of interest begins.
    We need sensible business style managment, not budget begging, vote buying new norm. Will Foley take on the dirtbags statewide? Will Tesei take them on here…maybe!
    Pumping PCBs to Grass Island from MISA that are leaking into silt in silt filled Harbor will make dredging more expensive…on purpose? Engineers went from deserved respect during and just after WWII to misspent respect today.
    We had a series of Selectmen, First and others that have not stepped up, who were or are PEs. Politics first, following the Sutton model on our roads and highways.
    My Labor Union experience was the opposite of the teachers etc. norm of today. We were hired day by day, job by job and knew sluffing off meant trouble. We did 90% of the work the Trade Union guys did, for a lot less, but received skills by experience in many areas from, masonry to carpentry to electrical work to plumbing to ditch perfectionism and were proud.
    Are there State & Town Employees who actually do the work from teaching to digging and everything in between who would blow the much needed whistles?
    What if all Union requirments were dropped for public projects, publically financed? If the price for same was trully competitve and by some estimates decreased by 60%…for the same amount of money we could employ many unemployed, train on site, job by job and create pride of accomplishment.
    Would all trades including teaching attract motivated doers instead who do you knowers?

  14. My child had Carol Sutton as a Social Studies teacher and I thought she was a good teacher – she pushed the kids intellectually – it was also clear she had a political agenda. I.E. “Capitalism is bad.”