Monday, September 24, 2007

What Can WE DO?

Greetings Colleagues,

This is my first real blog and I do not have time today to create my profile, "pimp out" my blog, and all that good stuff. Just want to get this information to as many people as I can quickly. As the President of the Association of Commonwealth Teachers, I often hear complaints from teachers followed by "But what can we do?" While I do not pretend to have all the answers, I am not one to sit back and feel sorry for myself without trying to do do something about it. I believe that's why you elected me as President in the first place. An overall consensus at our first ACT meeting after the election was "You lead, we will follow." Well guys, it's time to do more than talk the talk. Let's walk the walk.

One thing that has become clear is we can not improve our current situation without addressing the funding issues facing PSS. The legislature holds the purse strings. The best way we can improve education in the CNMI is to work with the Legislature and BOE in addressing these issues. One way ACT can help is to assist in ensuring those who are elected are sensitive to the needs of our children and teachers. That's why we've chosen to host Pre-Election Educational Round Table Discussions each Wednesday evening until the elections. Below you will find the press release regarding the event.

I realize we all have hectic schedules, and the last thing you need in your life is another meeting. But please, for the sake of our children attempt to make time to attend one or more of these educational round tables. As teachers and PSS employees, our numbers are many. It's time to stand united. Together, we can make a difference!


Concerned about the future of Education in the CNMI?So are we! The Association of Commonwealth Teachers is calling for all interested community members to join us in Pre-election Educational Round Table Discussions with the candidates.

The purpose of these events is to ensure that teachers, parents, and the community are able to meet the candidates and ask questions regarding their plans for education. This will allow voters to make informed decisions in casting their votes for members of the Legislature, Senate, and Board of Education. Round Table discussions will be held Wednesday evenings at 7:00 P.M. in the cafeteria of San Vicente Elementary. Candidates from Precinct One are invited to join us for this Wednesday's Round Table.

All interested members of the community are invited to join us at these gatherings. You do not have to be a registered voter or a resident of the specified precinct in order to attend. Should you have any questions, feel free to contact The Association of Commonwealth Teachers at

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

No Child Left Behind...Hmm....

Apparently, I need to have 60% of my students passing the SAT 10 and SBA in 2008. Last year, about 40% passed, up 7% from the year before. We've seen study growth in science for the past 2 years, and I think 7% is reasonable and achieveable. But 20% in one year!!! How is that possible. I have no control over what my students learned or didn't learn in K-7 grade. Over 70% of them enter 7th grade reading at a 2nd or 3rd grade reading level. Most of my students can't use a ruler or can't tell the difference between an inch and a centimeter on the ruler.

At Hopwood, we purchased science kits for 7th and 8th grade. As I was restocking the chemistrcy kits for 7th grade I noticed one of them was never even opened. I surveyed my students and only the one of the 3 7th grade teams represented used the kit.

For the past 2 years we've had a 50% turn over rate in the science department with teachers.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Payless payday threat, maybe this wakes us up

Here we go again with the latest round of government by crisis. Here I am caught in the middle. The latest is PSS hasn't gotten the money it was promised from the central government, it's always last minute with them, so PSS is saying they don't know if they can make payroll this month. I've seen this type of thing government wide a couple times before, but I think this is a first for PSS in particular.

I know a couple things. The minute my check is late, I will be be on speed dial, around the clock, to Rep. George Miller's office and the Department of Education encouraging a federal takeover of PSS, and a lot of people will be getting a lot of scrutiny they don't want if that happens. I'm pretty sure No Child Left Behind doesn't allow school to be closed because you spent all your money fighting federalization. A state takeover of a school system is what happens in a failing system. It has happened a lot in the most troubled districts. I'm not sure how common federal takeovers are, but in this case "local government" can't handle local government, a stick in the eye for all the people ready to secede to defend their right to a local government that may not be able to make teacher payroll and will have to close the schools, unless slavery is now legal. Basic service one, power, is already a fiasco. Ambrose has been saying for months a federal takeover is needed-- I don't think years in this case. The next thing will be to consult with a lawyer, as sending people to work when you know you can't pay them is the definition of fraud. Maybe I can own land here after all. Note to all parties involved here. I am not a contract worker you can abuse so easily. I speak English very well, I have a blue passport, I'm not option less and I may have a lot of time on my hands to make a lot of peoples' lives more difficult, and that will be my singular focus 24/7 if that happens. I suspect the prospect of no paycheck and fraud will even get the comatose lumps that make up 80 percent of my teacher peers to chip in and help.

PSS needs to close all the schools if this is the case -- now. I don't want to hear nonsense like, "it's for the children, work for free." When my rent is free, and the Nuggets at Java Joes are free, and Shell gasoline is free, I'll consider working for free. Until then, forget it. Don't I have enough of a stressful job without worrying about being cheated? I already have basically the job of two teachers. Do you think teachers who don't know if they will be getting paid are going the extra mile? It will be hilarious, and slightly sad really, to see the looks on the faces of the new recruits unaccustomed to the fly by night nature of how the CNMI government operates when they read this news. There simply is no excuse for even reading this in the paper -- none -- especially when the government is cutting absurd checks to lobbyists, public relations firms and Jesus Camacho.

"EMPLOYEES of Public School System may get no paychecks until the end of thefiscal year on Sept. 30 following the administration’s failure to return theamount it cut from the previous budget of PSS and to release federalCompact-Impact money that was to cover the PSS payroll until Oct. 15.PSS actingfinance director Lori A. Grizzard, acting Education Commissioner Charlie Kentyand PSS federal programs officer Tim Thornburgh said the school system isrunning out of money to cover the three remaining pay periods for its 797locally funded employees, who include teachers and support staff.Theadministration cut the PSS FY 2006 budget by $2 million but promised to returnit in the FY 2007 fourth quarter allocation. “PSS is still waiting for that $2million that was borrowed in FY 2006 which was to cover expenditures for theprior year,” Grizzard said. “The promised restoration will cover our shortfall.”