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Liv Ames for EdSource

Greta Heinke and Kenneth Cisneros, both in transitional kindergarten, play a memory match game together during free choice time at Bishop School in Sunnyvale Elementary District.

As a result of a new state law, California schools instituted transitional kindergarten to give 4-year-olds who were previously eligible for kindergarten an extra year to adjust to school and experience a less academically-oriented curriculum. But many thousands of those children are in classrooms with kindergartners, leaving teachers to figure out how to accommodate the new approach for 4-year-olds while preparing the 5-year-olds for 1st grade.

In 2013-14, about 57,000 students were estimated to have been in transitional kindergarten, and 78 percent of the classes were combination classes with both kindergartners and transitional kindergartners, according to the most recent data provided by the California Department of Education. An estimated 1,298 classes were stand-alone transitional kindergarten, while 4,674 were mixed classes.

California used to allow all students who turned 5 by Dec. 2 to enter kindergarten. But beginning in 2012-13, legislators pushed back the entry date for kindergarten and phased in transitional kindergarten for the youngest students, reaching full implementation this school year. To be eligible for transitional kindergarten, children must turn 5 between Sept. 2 and Dec. 2.

“By design, we wanted to give districts flexibility to provide transitional kindergarten in the way that worked for them,” said former state Sen. Joe Smitian, author of the Kindergarten Readiness Act of 2010.

Legislators and early education advocates expected some mixed classes, because in many schools there are not enough transitional kindergartners to form a separate class.

“By design, we wanted to give districts flexibility to provide transitional kindergarten in the way that worked for them,” said former state Sen. Joe Simitian, author of the Kindergarten Readiness Act of 2010, which established transitional kindergarten. Those options include stand-alone classes, offering a stand-alone class for students from more than one elementary school, and mixed classes.

“I’m a little bit surprised,” Simitian said about the large number of mixed classes. “But it doesn’t trouble me.”

“This is the first year of full implementation,” he said. “It will shake down over time. In a perfect world, my view is that combination classes work best when they are done for educationally sound reasons. But it’s not at all uncommon for decisions to be less grounded in education policy than in demographics and facilities constraints.”

Erin Gabel, deputy director of First 5 California, a publicly funded organization that provides programs for children 5 and younger, sees some advantage to the mixed classes. She believes they help make kindergarten more developmentally appropriate – relying less on worksheets and more on play-based learning.

“Child development programs (such as preschool) and kindergarten are supposed to be completely different,” Gabel said. “But we know those kids aren’t completely different.”

Inchara Chimanga Mahanteshwa, a transitional kindergartner, is using manipulatives to understand math at Cumberland School in Sunnyvale.

Liv Ames for EdSource

Inchara Chimanga Mahanteshwa, a transitional kindergartner, is using manipulatives to understand math at Cumberland School in Sunnyvale.

Some longtime kindergarten teachers agree with Gabel, according to Sarah Baron, who has a doctorate in education from Fresno State University and wrote her dissertation on the implementation of transitional kindergarten in 24 districts in Fresno and Kern counties. The teachers were excited about the prospect of the combination classes, she said, because they liked including more play-based strategies, such as using puppet theaters to build language and develop social skills.

However, in the first years of implementation, other teachers felt “overwhelmed” by the need to provide two different curricula, particularly when class sizes were larger than 20, Baron said.

For many teachers, “the beginning of the year was rough,” she said. But it got easier to implement the new teaching strategies, Baron said, as the younger students adjusted to school and developed social-emotional skills, such as learning how to sit still, waiting their turn, sharing and following rules.

Teachers of transitional kindergartners are expected to base their instruction on the Preschool Learning Foundations used by the state’s preschools, while kindergarten teachers rely on the Common Core State Standards for kindergarten. State law also requires that transitional kindergarten teachers have 24 hours of child development courses or the equivalent in work experience, but gives teachers until 2020 to meet that requirement.

A report by the American Institutes for Research found that, in the first year of implementation, fewer than 1 in 3 transitional kindergarten teachers had previous preschool experience.

The state has offered no training for kindergarten teachers with transitional kindergartners in their classrooms, but does have an implementation guide posted on the California Department of Education website.

Celeste Quiñonez, a former 2nd-grade teacher, now teaches a combination class of 20 students that includes seven kindergartners at Vineland School in the Vineland School District in Bakersfield. She was assigned to the combination class because she had the least seniority, she said, but has been able to adjust her teaching to meet the needs of her younger students.

“I modify the activity, do it more slowly, so the transitional kindergartners can understand,” she said. “I give the kindergarten students more challenging work.”

Kindergarteners Koustav Mazumder, left, and Samuel Daniel are looking at a sea urchin shell in Heidi Switzer's class at Bishop School in Sunnyvale.

Liv Ames for EdSource

Kindergartners Koustav Mazumder, left, and Samuel Daniel are looking at a sea urchin shell in Heidi Switzer’s class at Bishop School in Sunnyvale.

Quiñonez says she has received no specific training, but has relied on the Common Core curriculum for kindergarten and the advice from three kindergarten teachers at her school on how to effectively implement it.

Some districts have developed their own approaches to training teachers.

Los Angeles Unified has created a curriculum that integrates preschool standards with the Common Core, said Maureen Diekmann, executive director of L.A. Unified’s Early Childhood Education division. Transitional kindergartners are expected to learn half the kindergarten standards so they can enter kindergarten with confidence, she said.

Dalys Stewart, principal of Hamasaki Elementary School in L.A. Unified, said her teachers in combination classes emphasize social-emotional skills. Those skills also help the kindergartners who may have trouble adjusting to school, she said.

Fresno Unified is training its principals as well as its teachers. In research for her dissertation, Baron found that teachers were often afraid to implement more play-based activities because their principals did not understand that the children were learning through play.

Elizabeth Buettner, principal at Eaton Elementary School, is taking part in Fresno Unified’s Early Learning Principal Academy, which includes watching expert transitional kindergarten teachers in action, teaching a small group lesson for about an hour, and observing children during child-initiated activities.

In observing play and talking with the children, you start to see how they are thinking, Buettner said. “Sometimes they don’t know that they are learning.”

At the Sunnyvale Elementary School District in the Bay Area, the kindergarten leadership team spent four years researching what is developmentally appropriate for both age groups. They then modified the kindergarten curriculum for the transitional kindergartners rather than having totally separate curricula, said Heidi Switzer, who has taught both preschool and kindergarten. She now teaches a combination class of 23 students at Bishop School, with about half transitional kindergartners.

Switzer handles academic differences by separating children into small groups based on their ability. “But that doesn’t address the social-emotional aspects where we see the bigger difference,” she said. Kindergartners typically can work independently and are quicker to grasp concepts, she said.

Parent Robert Clapp helps Kanaru Kumiji, a transitional kindergartner, read a book at Cumberland School in Sunnyvale Elementary School District.

Liv Ames for EdSource

Parent Robert Clapp helps Kanaru Kumiji, a transitional kindergartner, read a book at Cumberland School in Sunnyvale Elementary School District.

Michaela Shull, who teaches at Cumberland School in the Sunnyvale district, has a combination class of 23 students. With only three students in transitional kindergarten, the class is necessarily going at a kindergartner’s pace. One of the three students is keeping up academically, she said, but he gets tired by the afternoon. Instead of following the after-lunch curriculum, the student can quietly look at books or play with blocks.

Teacher Roxana Aguirre has the opposite situation. Her class at Lafayette Elementary School in Long Beach is made up of 21 transitional kindergartners and six kindergartners. The year before she had mostly kindergartners.

Aguirre said this year “it’s a harder mix,” as the younger children must learn how to behave in a classroom. Her class includes one boy who regularly throws tantrums.

The focus on social skills and the slower pace for academic work means the kindergartners sometimes get bored, she said. Three of the kindergartners are at grade level or higher in English language arts and math, Aguirre said. But she has requested interventions for the other three, two of whom have been frequently absent.

Switzer handles her evenly divided combination class by allowing children to be active as long as they are engaged in learning.

Heidi Switzer's transitional kindergarten/kindergarten classroom in Bishop School in Sunnyvale.

Liv Ames for EdSource

Heidi Switzer’s transitional kindergarten/kindergarten classroom in Bishop School in Sunnyvale has a life-size tree with paper leaves.

In the first hour of the day, Switzer manages to weave in phonics, math and word recognition while discussing the calendar and the weather. To a song about a rocket blasting off, children count backwards from 20. They practice right and left by dancing the Hokey Pokey.

The letter for the week is L, which stands for lobster, so in that first hour the children gather on a multicolored rug beneath a life-size tree with paper leaves to hear a story about shellfish, leading to a discussion of compound words. There is back-and-forth about whether the book is fiction or nonfiction and why. Some children have eaten clams and say they are good. Switzer then passes around shells, which the students eagerly finger and talk about together.

Switzer’s blend of movement and hands-on experiences with academic rigor is designed to meet the needs of both grades. “It has been challenging,” she said, adding that her first priority has to be to prepare the kindergartners for 1st grade.

The distinction between the two grades, while challenging for teachers, has been confusing to some parents, say administrators, including L.A. Unified’s Diekmann. Parents sometimes think if their children have been in a combination class, they should be promoted to 1st grade instead of “repeating” kindergarten, she said.

Fresno Unified does not offer combination classes, partly to help teachers learn the new grade level, but also to “avoid confusion for the parents,” said Wilma Hashimoto, assistant superintendent for early learning. The large Central Valley district has avoided mixing classes by allowing a wide fluctuation in transitional kindergarten class sizes, from 15 to 24 students.

It’s easier for parents to accept the transition from transitional kindergarten to kindergarten to 1st grade if the classes are not combined, Hashimoto said.

Robert Clapp was disappointed when he learned that the teacher and administrator at Cumberland School in Sunnyvale thought his daughter, a transitional kindergartner who was in a mixed class last year, should go into kindergarten this year because she needed more time to develop her social and fine motor skills. He went along with the decision, but is sorry that he did.

“I feel like she has gone backward socially,” Clapp said. “She has no friends in this class.” He also feels she is being “held back” academically.

But Mary Esther Si, a parent whose daughter was in transitional kindergarten last year at Fairwood Elementary School in Sunnyvale, said her daughter benefited from going to kindergarten instead of 1st grade.

“She was very shy when she entered school,” Si said. “Now if she is asked to lead a group, she can do it. This extra year is definitely a gift.”

The difficulties of teaching to two age groups in the same class and a recent influx of transitional kindergartners have caused the Sunnyvale district to change its approach. Next year, Sunnyvale will offer no more combination classes, and the understanding will be that transitional kindergartners move to kindergarten unless they are particularly accelerated, Switzer said.

“I’m looking forward to next year,” said Switzer, who will be teaching kindergarten. “The transitional kindergartners will be getting what they need.”


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  1. AB 1 year ago1 year ago

    The fact that there was no real plan is a problem. I have TK kid who did very well in preschool and is now reading, doing math, and writing at a first grade level but is being forced to remain in kinder next year because his age deems him not ready! TK may be for some but not for all and your age should not dictate your readiness for kinder.

  2. Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

    The real idea behind TK was to craft a class with curriculum designed to meet the developmental needs of students rather than try and "craft" students to fit a curriculum not designed with developmental needs in mind. Since "standards" have over time jammed what was once considered 2nd and 3rd grade curriculum into 1st grade, Kindergarten teachers have been under pressure to introduce curriculum more appropriate for older children into their classes. Since developmentally … Read More

    The real idea behind TK was to craft a class with curriculum designed to meet the developmental needs of students rather than try and “craft” students to fit a curriculum not designed with developmental needs in mind. Since “standards” have over time jammed what was once considered 2nd and 3rd grade curriculum into 1st grade, Kindergarten teachers have been under pressure to introduce curriculum more appropriate for older children into their classes. Since developmentally inappropriate 2nd grade testing was in place a school’s reputation in the community could be threatened by being put in PI status if scores were low and so principles and local boards applied the pressure.

    Luckily, much to the credit of the teachers’ unions efforts, the (cruel) and ridiculous 2nd grade testing has been (mostly) eliminated. I know as I brought some early grades teachers to Sacramento to testify. You could have witnessed the inane spectacle as politicians tried to tell the teachers they really needed those 2nd grade test scores while the teachers were quite adamant that they didn’t.

    Kindergarten is, after all, supposed to be the “child’s garden,” a place to learn though play and begin to get the rudiments of being organized, working with other following directions, learning colors, becoming familiar with books, practicing basic fine motor skills etc.

    Instead, because of the national hysteria about “international competitiveness” that never had anything to do with children filling in bubbles on answer sheets, the intent of Kindergarten was deformed to fall into place with performance targets set by people who, for the most part, had no idea what education was all about.

    Teachers could see that the kids who were entering much before 5 were struggling more than the more mature kids, and even a month or two at that age is critical in a developmental sense, and so they asked for TK to better deal with those kids.

    This imposition on teachers and the children in the early grades, of inappropriate curriculum, is not going to go away soon.

    The real problem with the implementation of TK, as is the real problem with almost every facet of CA’s education system, is it lacked adequate funding. Districts deal with a zero-sum-game when developing budgets and if you are going to run a very small TK class it becomes a very expensive TK class and that expense has to be dealt with elsewhere in the budget; you must cut program elsewhere, raise class size elsewhere, etc. Combination classes create challenges at every grade level, and it should not be a shock that compromises were forced for TK and K.

    This is the kind of education system we in the state, politicos and voters alike, have decided we want to run because we are a moderately high tax state and very high cost-of-living state and voters have taught politicians (the voters being influenced by the wealthy and business lobbyists) that increasing taxes can be the proverbial “third-rail” of politics.

    BTW, re the hysteria about “international competitiveness,” Finland (it’s always Finland) doesn’t begin reading instruction until age 7 and they have the best reading scores in the world.

    Replies

    • navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

      There is no 'idea' behind TK. It was not designed into existence rather was a response to an attempt to save money by reducing the number of children the state had to fund in public education. When we hear a politician say the goal is to give districts the flexibility to do things the way that works for them, it invariably means 'what we're asking you to do is either impossible or harmful and we'd … Read More

      There is no ‘idea’ behind TK. It was not designed into existence rather was a response to an attempt to save money by reducing the number of children the state had to fund in public education.

      When we hear a politician say the goal is to give districts the flexibility to do things the way that works for them, it invariably means ‘what we’re asking you to do is either impossible or harmful and we’d rather you take the blame for our decisions.’

      There essentially two ways to implement TK given the number of students involved, both of which have disadvantages: 1, choose a subset of schools in which to operate it and reduce that subset until full TK classes can be had. This obviously creates a non-neighborhood-based solution. 2, fold TK into K using combo classes. The only thing I am surprised about is that legislators are surprised that many chose the latter.

      I’d love to hear some pedagogically appropriate examples of combo classes.

      • Gary Ravani 1 year ago1 year ago

        Navigio: Since TK actually evolved out of a number of union/teacher led initiatives (based on the professional judgements I described) to raise the age of kids to five at entry to Kindergarten, I think your thought re "no idea" behind it will have to stand as a matter of opinion. The phasing in of the program on a year by year basis was designed to lessen the impact, reduced enrollment, so that particular facet of the … Read More

        Navigio:

        Since TK actually evolved out of a number of union/teacher led initiatives (based on the professional judgements I described) to raise the age of kids to five at entry to Kindergarten, I think your thought re “no idea” behind it will have to stand as a matter of opinion. The phasing in of the program on a year by year basis was designed to lessen the impact, reduced enrollment, so that particular facet of the law cost the state ADA dollars as opposed to implementing it immediately which would have held off K entry for thousands of students and would have “saved” dollars on those students.

        There’s plenty of things to be cynical about, the lack of funding necessitation “combo” classes for example, without making things up. The pedagogic principles behind TK can stand on their own merits which is something that cannot be said for the entire imposition of standards and testing on the education system. That system had “no idea” behind it pedagogically. There are enough leaks from former members of the W administration about the intent of the NCLB portion of the whole fiasco, asserting the goals were to drive their agendas for charters and vouchers. Now that’s something to be cynical about.

        • navigio 1 year ago1 year ago

          I see. So you’re saying it was the teachers who pushed the entry age to kinder back 4 months? And that they did do as part of a broader pedagogical strategy for how best to serve our state’s youth?

          • Gary Ravani 1 year ago1 year ago

            I will say that the early childhood folks in our union did just that and lobbied heavily for same. I cannot speak, nor do I remember, CTA’s positions re TK.

            • navigio 1 year ago1 year ago

              If I remember correctly the bill that pushed the age back did not originally say anything about TK. It was only after an outcry that we were excluding people that TK was added to appease those concerns. So I don't think it's fair to say I made something up when I questioned whether TK was 'designed' from the get go in conjunction with changed age requirements. And if that's true, TK is part of a … Read More

              If I remember correctly the bill that pushed the age back did not originally say anything about TK. It was only after an outcry that we were excluding people that TK was added to appease those concerns. So I don’t think it’s fair to say I made something up when I questioned whether TK was ‘designed’ from the get go in conjunction with changed age requirements. And if that’s true, TK is part of a different pedagogical ‘strategy’ than starting later.

            • Gary Ravani 1 year ago1 year ago

              Navigio:

              No, you said “there’s no idea behind TK.” That’s made up. There were all kinds of ideas both from early childhood people , early grade and K teachers, and the CDE and other instructionally related experts.

            • navigio 1 year ago1 year ago

              You presented TK as something that was designed as part of the process. It was not. It was a response. Had the change in entry dates not happened, neither would have TK. This does not mean we cant be thoughtful about its implementation, but the way you presented it was much more than that. The reason I called this out is we tend to ignore the basis for many 'policy decisions' in education, somehow hoping … Read More

              You presented TK as something that was designed as part of the process. It was not. It was a response. Had the change in entry dates not happened, neither would have TK. This does not mean we cant be thoughtful about its implementation, but the way you presented it was much more than that. The reason I called this out is we tend to ignore the basis for many ‘policy decisions’ in education, somehow hoping that they are actually part of some grand plan. In reality, many if not most of them are nothing more than a response to something else. Sometimes that something else is not even pedagogical. There is a real danger in that kind of lack of perspective, especially in areas that contain significant continuity momentum.

            • Gary Ravani 1 year ago1 year ago

              Navigio:

              You are failing to distinguish between the concept and thinking behind TK and how it may have played out legislatively. Two different animals. I was talking about pedagogic design not legislative pragmatics.

    • ann 1 year ago1 year ago

      While Program Improvement was part of NCLB, testing in second grade was not. It was a California initiative.

      • Gary Ravani 1 year ago1 year ago

        True. That’s why I focused primarily on the API and not AYP.

  3. SD Parent 2 years ago2 years ago

    Ann is correct, and this was my problem with the concept of TK. It didn't solve the "younger students" being in the kindergarten class; it just changed the name from "kindergarten" to "TK-K combo." And it didn't provide help for all students, such as those who turn 5 in January through August, but who could use a preparatory year before entering kindergarten. Sorry, Mr. Simitian. I appreciate you passion for education, … Read More

    Ann is correct, and this was my problem with the concept of TK. It didn’t solve the “younger students” being in the kindergarten class; it just changed the name from “kindergarten” to “TK-K combo.” And it didn’t provide help for all students, such as those who turn 5 in January through August, but who could use a preparatory year before entering kindergarten.

    Sorry, Mr. Simitian. I appreciate you passion for education, but TK isn’t going to “shake out.” Since on average only 25% of kids are born during months that qualify for TK, that class size will always be a minority, and as such, it will be offered at many school sites not as a separate class but mixed in with kindergarteners, just like they were before the TK designation.

    Furthermore, as someone who volunteered in every one of my children’s elementary classrooms, there is a huge difference between operating a 4th/5th combo, where you can give half the class a directed task and have most of the students work independently, versus a TK/K class, where instruction is much more hands-on (everything from showing a student how to hold a pencil and write her name to helping him zip up his jacket and poke the straw through his juice box). It’s laughable to think that truly differentiated instruction can happen in a TK/K combo. The net result is that TK is a boondoogle.

    By the way, the negative impact for students in combo classes (at any grade) goes both ways. No one wants to be in the minority, whether that is a TK student who is “held back” in kindergarten (which is largely the same as what they experienced in the TK/K combo) as his/her “peers” move on to first grade or whether that is the kindergartner who is not getting a full kindergarten experience because the class is predominantly TK students.

  4. FloydThursby1941 2 years ago2 years ago

    This is like the Lottery they sell us one thing and give us another. The idea behind TK was that you could help close the achievement gap by preparing kids for kindergarten. Studies show in California, 60% of Asian Americankids start Kindergarten with parents having prepared them and able to do basic reading and math, as compared to 16% of white kids. This extra parenting effort is a key factor in the … Read More

    This is like the Lottery they sell us one thing and give us another. The idea behind TK was that you could help close the achievement gap by preparing kids for kindergarten. Studies show in California, 60% of Asian Americankids start Kindergarten with parents having prepared them and able to do basic reading and math, as compared to 16% of white kids. This extra parenting effort is a key factor in the fact that Asian American kids are over 3.5 times as likely to qualify for a UC after high school as whites and have developed better habits (less TV, 13.8 hours average studying ages 11-18 vs. 5.6 for whites) than white kids. The idea is if you could prepare all kids before Kindergarten and really push flashcards and the internal mental attitude that studying, grades and school are very important, perhaps all California kids in the future could do as well as Asian American kids do now, which would make us one of the best educated, richest and most poverty free places in the world.

    Making it average and blending it are going to ruin it. This was supposed to be game-changing but now has been co-opted.

  5. Don 2 years ago2 years ago

    The principle behind rolling back the dates for qualification to kindergarten at the age of 5 was intended allow the youngest children more time to develop before entering. The TK/K mixed class totally undermines the intent of the rollback from Dec.2 to Sept 2. Unbelievable!

  6. Perplexed 2 years ago2 years ago

    I agree with you, Ann. Not only does this law prepare the “oldest” four-year olds transitioning into kindergarten, it deprives the Early Education to children who really need it — the four-year olds whose birthdays are prior to Sept 1. Legislature needs to be responsible and sunset this law ASAP.

    The “transition” is over, as it has been for many other states in the Nation (http://nces.ed.gov/programs/statereform/tab5_3.asp)

  7. Ann 2 years ago2 years ago

    Another absurd, poorly thought out and poorly implemented program costing millions of dollars with virtually no quantitative evidence or research to justify the spending. A "combination" TK-K is no different than what we had before. The original plan for TK was to transition to an earlier cut off for entering kindergarten, this year would have been the end of TK, but with heavy lobbying by the unions it morphed into a permanent program … Read More

    Another absurd, poorly thought out and poorly implemented program costing millions of dollars with virtually no quantitative evidence or research to justify the spending. A “combination” TK-K is no different than what we had before. The original plan for TK was to transition to an earlier cut off for entering kindergarten, this year would have been the end of TK, but with heavy lobbying by the unions it morphed into a permanent program that simply hasn’t had enough students to make it financially or educationally viable.

    Replies

    • TheMorrigan 2 years ago2 years ago

      Ann,

      Can you reasonably support “with heavy lobbying by the unions”?

      • FloydThursby1941 2 years ago2 years ago

        They want all the teachers to be in the union, basically add another year. At this point, Asians are able to more than quadruple the odds of qualifying for a UC by spending fewer hours with their kids preparing them than an entire year of full time school, roughly 1000 hours. If we gave this to all kids and taught them at 4 nothing was more important than grades, school, homework, working hard … Read More

        They want all the teachers to be in the union, basically add another year. At this point, Asians are able to more than quadruple the odds of qualifying for a UC by spending fewer hours with their kids preparing them than an entire year of full time school, roughly 1000 hours. If we gave this to all kids and taught them at 4 nothing was more important than grades, school, homework, working hard and education, we could bring this benefit to all, but this is a threat to the dominance of the current white upper and upper middle class, in cahoots with the union. Therefore they will try to ensure that this isn’t game changing and one on one time with kids is eliminated, that it is mostly about play and that very mediocre teachers will take these jobs and not focus on academics, not be judged by results and be guaranteed not being fired and take 11 sick days a year even if fully healthy. And no training kids to believe in memorizing and studying and working hard. Bullet dodged. A potentially gamechanger turned into a jobs program. We will still see roughly only 16% of kids start kindergarten knowing the sight words, math and reading basic books and we will still see the poor stay poor and on near minimum wage. We won’t see it move to 60% and potentially higher as 60% includes Hmongs, Filipinos, Vietnamese, etc., with the Indian/Chinese/Korean % closer to 80.

        We lost an opportunity. Now it’s just status quo. But to those who enjoy the status quo this is a victory. No change in caste levels.

        • TheMorrigan 1 year ago1 year ago

          Floyd, The teachers unions have not "heavily" lobbied for this. They initially supported the transition, but they certainly did not spearhead it nor did they spend anything big lobbying state officials to maintain transitional K (especially since most districts did not employ extra staff but made combo classes with the staff they already had). They have, from most sources, stayed out of the picture on this topic. Their treasure trove is being spent on other matters … Read More

          Floyd,

          The teachers unions have not “heavily” lobbied for this. They initially supported the transition, but they certainly did not spearhead it nor did they spend anything big lobbying state officials to maintain transitional K (especially since most districts did not employ extra staff but made combo classes with the staff they already had). They have, from most sources, stayed out of the picture on this topic. Their treasure trove is being spent on other matters right now, Floyd.

          Teachers unions have their own blood on their hands but let’s not ascribe every educational ill that comes along as emanating from them. Those types of arguments tend to boldface one’s ignorance and prejudices in ways that make me cringe.

          • Gary Ravani 1 year ago1 year ago

            Can you reasonably support (re unions): “Blood on their hands?”

            • TheMorrigan 1 year ago1 year ago

              To a degree: Unions supporting measures that have little to no connection with educational issues. This type of behavior has unnecessarily exacerbated their boogeyman image of being in everyone's closet or under everyone's bed. It is like my local board of education that voted on prop 8 when their vote had nothing to do with anything on the educational plate and changed nothing. What were they thinking? Way to further polarize the issues and set neighbor … Read More

              To a degree:

              Unions supporting measures that have little to no connection with educational issues. This type of behavior has unnecessarily exacerbated their boogeyman image of being in everyone’s closet or under everyone’s bed. It is like my local board of education that voted on prop 8 when their vote had nothing to do with anything on the educational plate and changed nothing. What were they thinking? Way to further polarize the issues and set neighbor against neighbor. Take Ann’s point–unions have nothing to do with this issue but she blames them because she needs to blame something when she fails to understand a cause for the problem. If unions want to play with politics then, yes, they also have blood on their hands just like every other politician out there. They gotta take the good and the bad that comes with it. Hands do not stay clean when you play with politics, Gary. You are superlatively naive if you think they do.

              Unions should help defend their members. . . but . . . they should also be about protecting “all” their members names and their profession. Yeah, it is a balancing act. But: If it is crystal clear that a teacher is a criminal and/or grossly unprofessional, they should help their members by “helping” and transitioning that particular teacher to a different profession. There are definitely and certainly grey areas on this, but when my local union head agreed with me that a particular teacher needed to be fired and still “helped” him stay in the classroom, I knew that something was very, very wrong here. There is no doubt that unions have prevented or delayed incompetent administrators from bullying union members, from cronyism or nepotism, from instituting bad practices because it is just another educational fad. I am not anti-union; unions have an important role to play in the checks and balances of how education systems operate (I know this from operating charters). And they should continue to do this. However, whenever unions knowingly “help” those teachers stay in the classroom, they only succeed in making it worse for all teachers and the union.

              Yeah, they have just as much blood on their hands as incompetent or lazy administrators, as tiger or stepping-stone superintendents, as zealous Richard the III school board members or politicians, as blame-everyone-but-my-child or my-parenting-skills parents, as the billionaires who think only their ideas and their money can fix public education, as the Floyds of the world who have an unquestionable faith in their silver bullet fixes. My guess is that both you and I also have a little bit, too. The only difference between you and me is that I recognize it and you are acting like Lady Macbeth about it.

            • Gary Ravani 1 year ago1 year ago

              Morrigan: Quite a little manifesto you have started there. Re politics: So it's your assertion that any involvement with "politics" amounts to having "blood on your hands?" Quite an indictment of the entire democratic process. What was it Churchill said about democracy? Something like the "worst political system there is except for all the others." So, yes, by your definition I and my union brothers and sisters certainly are guilty as charged. The other interpretation is we do … Read More

              Morrigan:

              Quite a little manifesto you have started there.

              Re politics: So it’s your assertion that any involvement with “politics” amounts to having “blood on your hands?” Quite an indictment of the entire democratic process. What was it Churchill said about democracy? Something like the “worst political system there is except for all the others.”

              So, yes, by your definition I and my union brothers and sisters certainly are guilty as charged. The other interpretation is we do participate in the democratic process quite a lot. Would that the rest of eligible voters would do the same and we would’t have election results like those of 2012 and the miserable levels of child poverty we have in the country.

              You, and there are certainly many others, want to circumscribe the participation of the union members in that process. Since education is now, always has, and will in the future, be political in this country I’d suggest union political behavior makes a lot of sense. Then there is the issue that the unions are democratic organizations. When the membership, as it frequently does, insists the union leadership pay attention, and/or take action, on a political issue it is incumbent upon the leadership to do so.

              To your statement/question that if a “teacher is a criminal and/or grossly unprofessional” shouldn’t a union help transition them to another profession. Obviously, you have a limited grasp of the legal obligations of unions. There is a legal precedent called “the right to fair representation.” If a member of a bargaining unit represented by a union, not even a union member, has a contract (personnel) issue then it is the legal obligation of the union to protect the contract rights of that member or face a lawsuit from the member. It is not within the power of the union to decide if the member is worthy of protection or not, because the union is not protecting the member, per se, the union is protecting the contract. And that contract belongs to all members as well as the administration and all are required to live by the contract’s provisions.

              If it is your desire that unions have more control over dismissal you should lobby for unions having a complimentary amount of control over who is hired. Currently administration (via the local board) totally controls hiring. permanent status, evaluation, and moves to dismiss. Why, when almost unilateral control of employment is in the hands of administration, does the union have the responsibility to “counsel teachers out?”

              For clarification, dismissal is not a contract issue it is a statutory issue. Unions are not required to give legal support (and there is no way to stop teachers being dismissed from getting legal support) to teachers being dismissed, though they often do. And remember, districts usually have team of attorneys who work for them, in some cases full time.

              Then there is the question of criminal behavior. Do you not understand that criminal acts are cause for a teachers to lose a credential? If a teachers is arrested, or even just under suspicion, administration has the right to suspend them from the classroom. Though most contracts have escalating levels of disciple based on due process, all I have ever seen call for the immediate suspension of the teacher, with no escalating discipline or due process, on charges of abuse of students. If a teacher is convicted of a serious criminal act they are out of teaching by law (if not in jail).

              Lady Macbeth felt deep guilt for her actions and, hence, the invisible “blood on her hands.” Unions, in their various actions have no “blood on their hands,” except as seen by those with a deep disregard for democracy and democratic due process.

            • Gary Ravani 1 year ago1 year ago

              Morrigan:

              I have a rather lengthy (that else?) response to your Lady Macbeth comments. It currently awaits “moderation.”

            • TheMorrigan 1 year ago1 year ago

              I will wait while the “sleepwalking” obviously continues.

            • Gary Ravani 1 year ago1 year ago

              Morrigan:

              Ah, it has been posted I see. Thanks EdSource.

            • TheMorrigan 1 year ago1 year ago

              I remain unpersuaded that I am against the democratic process. Cheap deflection, Gary. I agree that education is a political issue; however, what about issues that the union supports and funds that have nothing or--at the very least--a very tenuous connection with education? This would make the union's position primarily based on its ethos, its credibility or trustworthiness. That is what I addressed in my argument that you seem to have ignored with your response. … Read More

              I remain unpersuaded that I am against the democratic process. Cheap deflection, Gary.

              I agree that education is a political issue; however, what about issues that the union supports and funds that have nothing or–at the very least–a very tenuous connection with education? This would make the union’s position primarily based on its ethos, its credibility or trustworthiness. That is what I addressed in my argument that you seem to have ignored with your response. There is no need to go down that road because it unnecessarily polarizes people and spotlights the invasive power of unions. Because the position is primarily one of ethos, then it unnecessarily spotlights the union in a tragic scene. Should unions support politicians that support public schools? Absolutely. Should unions fight against causes that attack the teaching profession? Absolutely. Where I disagree is with causes that are unrelated to education.

              I agree with your point about “protecting the member.” Sorry, I must not have made my point clear here. The problem is that “protecting the member,” especially one that is a well-known incompetent, comes with a price and unintentionally soils the name of all teachers and the union when this is done. It means that the union is forced to soil its own brand than do something positive to help fix the situation. Perhaps their hands are tied. I fully get that. However, it still doesn’t create good vibes in the community when it is done.

              And yes, you are compulsively “sleepwalking” in this act of yours, Gary.

            • Gary Ravani 1 year ago1 year ago

              Morrigan: Unions deal with issues of economic, civil, and social justice. That covers a lot of ground. To suggest auto worker unions get involved in politics only when the subject is cars is kind of obtuse. Neither you nor anyone else has the right to tell unions that can't get involved in any issues they deem relevant. Many marched for Black Lives Matter, many about the war(s), many in support of Occupy, many about women's rights. There … Read More

              Morrigan:

              Unions deal with issues of economic, civil, and social justice. That covers a lot of ground. To suggest auto worker unions get involved in politics only when the subject is cars is kind of obtuse.

              Neither you nor anyone else has the right to tell unions that can’t get involved in any issues they deem relevant. Many marched for Black Lives Matter, many about the war(s), many in support of Occupy, many about women’s rights. There are no boundaries when it comes to issues of justice and ultimately, as you’ve seen me expound upon frequently, the issues related to school achievement do not stop at the schoolhouse door. They are issues of economic and social equity and justice. Wherever these issues touch politics, and they do everywhere, unions have an obligation to get involved.

              And then, as I said, if the union membership which is an activist membership, votes through resolutions to have the union get involved then it does. Period.

              As to unions representing members when contract issues are at stake that is their legal obligation. You can try and qualify that to align with your whims and opinions, but it remains a: 1) legal; 2) obligation. Which of the terms is confusing?

              (BTW, to suggests unions fold based on opinions that a teacher is “one that is a well-known incompetent” is asking for unions to act on sheer hearsay and anecdote. Not considered a good idea under American justice.)

              If all of this offends your sensibilities I suggest you read a little labor history and the law then trot out those sensibilities for thorough review.

            • TheMorrigan 1 year ago1 year ago

              I never suggested that unions “fold.”

              Read, Gary.

              It doesn’t offend my sensibilities. It just requires a little sense. But that is a different era and a different book. It is simply why unions are not angels, Gary.

            • Gary Ravani 1 year ago1 year ago

              Morrigan: Quite a bit of space between "not being an angel" and having "blood on your hands." I can see a review of Shakespeare's "Lady Macbeth:" "All in all a close observation of Lady Macbeth's character and actions will show her as not being an angel." Read More

              Morrigan:

              Quite a bit of space between “not being an angel” and having “blood on your hands.” I can see a review of Shakespeare’s “Lady Macbeth:” “All in all a close observation of Lady Macbeth’s character and actions will show her as not being an angel.”

        • don 1 year ago1 year ago

          Floyd, it occured to me that you actually might be serious In this comment, though i’m pretty sure you weren’t when you recently suggested a plan to close the achievement gap on paper by testing diffferent races at different times. I should be amused.

          • FloydThursby1941 1 year ago1 year ago

            Gary, the union also defeated Prop H in San Francisco and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to spread a lie that kids would switch mid year. San Francisco is the only City in the State where you can live across the street from a regular district school and not get in and have to drive 4-8 miles 4 times a day to get your kid to school. It lost by 153 votes, … Read More

            Gary, the union also defeated Prop H in San Francisco and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to spread a lie that kids would switch mid year. San Francisco is the only City in the State where you can live across the street from a regular district school and not get in and have to drive 4-8 miles 4 times a day to get your kid to school. It lost by 153 votes, or 0.08%. Unions have also not tried to compromise and prevented any measure to make it easier to fire teachers who are chronically bad or mediocre and earning higher income due to seniority than younger applicants who could do a better job. I’m all for keeping teachers whose experience makes them more productive, but keeping teachers who miss 11 days a year without fail because it’s in the contract, somehow are magically sick exactly the number of days they can miss without losing any money, and who have bad reps and are not performing well, hurts kids, which leads to poverty, crime, and yes, some of these kids die in gangfights because they don’t get a good education. If they had even supported a reasonable compromise, even one 80% to their side, they would not have lost the Vergara lawsuit. The union is guilty of not putting children’s education and class mobility from the lower to the upper and middle classes as the highest priority. Instead they use poverty as a scapegoat and ignore the fact that some ethnic groups prove hard work during childhood is far more important in overcoming poverty than hard work in adulthood, but the unions ignore this. Any union of educators should go out of their way to point out any group which excels in school despite poverty as it should support any and all methods of improving academic performance. If Latinos could reach the same level of test scores even controlled for income as Asians in this State, this would save tens of thousands of lives and improve millions of others, not changing income, just habits. But the unions suppress this information because their narrative is that poverty is the only factor, not behavior.

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