Another way to look at it

Well it’s been proven that having a high school degree alone is not enough to get a good job but another way to look at it is that you are teaching anything in high school that’s valuable anymore and so because your standards have dropped in high school it’s irrelevant

How about exceeding standards for a change

So now you have standards that’s great and you want to meet them that’s also great but wouldn’t it be even better to exceeds standards

Software Testers as “Students”

It just occurred to me that if I decide to make a lot of changes to my classroom for next year (that will be 2016-2017), then I would like to “beta test” that classroom change before it “goes live” to my students next fall.

We know that certain lessons, especially if they involve technology, mail fall flat. We also know that certain lessons can be extremely powerful.

Suppose I architect or design a framework for my class, for example lets say I want to use OneNote in my classroom next year. How can I possibly foresee all that will be involved or might transpire if I make that change? Or, more importantly how can I at least make sure that students will be able to get themselves into that mode of thinking. How can I make sure that we aren’t dead-on-arrival on the first day of school?

The answer might be a “Software Tester as Student”. What is that? That’s a student/teacher that is willing to act as a “student”. This “student” then tries out the interactions in a classroom or curriculum design. The “student” tries to break the interaction or the flow that has been designed, but the “student” is willing to give feedback to the teacher. In this way, a classroom or curriculum design can be proven before it is actually put into use.

John Weisenfeld, Science Teacher, Pasco High School

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week

In the video below an elementary student says: “without teachers there would be no learning…”

I realize this and thousands of other videos like it mean well, but that is *NOT* a growth mindset.

Putting aside for a moment how patronizing a “day/week to honor teachers” is, putting aside how “appreciation” could take a concrete form like a living wage or a truly middle-class income, let’s talk about learning.

My goal each day is put interesting connections in front of my students. These connections seek to bridge their interests to the thriving, teeming, infinite world that is real scientific discovery and exploration.

To say that you can’t learn anything without a teacher, puts the teacher in the driver’s seat, and lets the learner off the hook. The world is a smorgasbord of interesting, amazing, even contradictory things. Do I make you eat? Don’t you need to eat? If by the end of high school you haven’t taught yourself how to eat, or learned how to cook, say, then who has failed? Is it me? Is it you (the learner)?

So I love the sentiment, but the ramifications are pure drivel, “that wasn’t a good class because the teacher was no good”. That’s not a growth mindset. “I couldn’t figure out how to connect my learning style with that teacher’s teaching style.” Is only slightly better. “That teacher helped me dynamite the walls of ignorance and apathy and fear that I had towards that subject, and I will go on to storm even bigger castles of misinformation, doubt, and mystery in the future.”

If that attitude is what I teach and model. If that is what is more important than valence electrons, or impulse momentum theorem, or the scientific method, then yes, OK, appreciation is fine. Now get back to work!

From: Leslee K. Caul
Sent: Friday, May 6, 2016 2:57 PM
To: All_Staff_grp <>
Subject: Happy Teacher Appreciation Week


Thank you for the important work you do for Pasco students and families.

Please enjoy this video:

We hope you had a lovely week!

State Testing, a Key Measure of Student Progress, Now Underway

I’ve been sharing an editorial by Bruce Alberts in Science Magazine (15 January 2016) that suggests that science teachers, due to our training or proclivity toward data- and/or research-based decisions are an underutilized resource to solve some of the more difficult problems in education. The editorial is here:

But, of course, we (as experimentalists) may have also been the cause of some of the biggest expansions of the “test, test and more test” malaise that affects education. So, my esteemed colleagues, what one test would you give, and when would you give it to measure x, y, or z, educational outcomes?

Can you limit it to just one?

From: OSPI News Release []
Sent: Thursday, March 24, 2016 10:04 AM
To: John C. Weisenfeld <>
Subject: State Testing, a Key Measure of Student Progress, Now Underway

Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.

Randy I. Dorn

Physics for the Incarcerated

One of my students is getting locked up in a week or so. The sentence might be long enough to learn something, so I was thinking about how to get some materials into their hands that might help them make a more productive use of the time. When I googled “Physics for Prisoners” I found a paper / abstract from Troy A. Lionberger and some colleagues at UC-Berkeley. Here’s the information.

The Physics Teacher, Vol 54, February 2016

High School Physics Teachers Report Self-Assessed Levels of Preparation

Does this just prove that illusory superiority is alive and well in the physics teaching profession?

First Paystub of 2015-2016

I just wanted to write a quick note to give some personal perspective on the teacher salary debates. Especially since the strikes this past month, I was very curious to see how my most recent paystub compares to all of my other teaching paystubs since I became a teacher. NOTE: none of these numbers are adjusted to inflation or to a local consumer price index.

But first a quick review to give some context. In the 2011-2012 school year, I was a student teacher at Highline Big Picture High School in Burien, WA, and worked in the Highline School District. In the 2012-2013 school year, I taught math and science at Wapato High School in Wapato, WA, in the Wapato School District. In the 2013-2014 school year I started teaching at Pasco High School in Pasco, WA (Pasco School District). I am now starting my third year at Pasco High School.

Initially I looked at Gross Salary, and found that for 9/30, my Gross is the second best overall, i.e. in the past 5 years. You would think that is great, I am progressing on a pay schedule, accruing experience and seniority. However, the systems scientist in me marvels at the large transient in my Gross Pay that happened at the start of 2013-2014 in Pasco. Do other professions “enjoy” a swing in gross salary of almost $2000 from month to month. You would almost think that I am paid on commission!

However, when you look at the Net Salary trends, you start to notice a more serious problem. As of 9/30/2015 I have the lowest take home pay I have ever had in 5 years of teaching. Is that possible? That is possible if you look at the percentage that taxes and deductions take out of salaries over time, especially if the pay rates do not increase. I think it is time to write my elected officials.*

And if you thought Gross Salary fluctuations were bad, you should try Net Salary fluctuations. I’m not complaining, I chose this job, I’m just adding some data to the rhetoric.

*Oh, right, as of today, the Washington State Supreme Court fine on the Legislature is $4.5 million.

Bargaining Update July 28

From: Lacey Unseth [WA] []
Sent: Tuesday, July 28, 2015 12:16 PM
Subject: Bargaining Update July 28

What’s at stake?

Pasco’s teachers are in the midst of contentious contract negotiations that, depending on events, could potentially interrupt back-to-school plans this September. Here’s a look at what’s at stake:

Great teachers are leaving and not enough new teachers find our district an attractive place to work.

· Veteran educators and newcomers are leaving Pasco in droves. The reasons? Low pay, a lack of critical supplies and materials, a culture of distrust by administrators toward staff, and poor leadership or administrative blunders that force teachers too often work nights and weekends just to keep schools running. Combine that with constant flavor-of-the-month directives from out-of-touch administrators, and Pasco’s teachers are saying something must change.

Our administration has lost sight of what’s important: supporting teachers and helping students learn.

· The budget facts are clear: Educators are told to try to teach without enough basic supplies: white board markers, text books, curriculum, and computers, in part because district leaders tell the community they will spend millions of dollars more on teaching and teaching support that they actually do. Without the proper tools, we’re less successful as teachers, and our students suffer as a result.

· Too much testing is robbing us of our time to teach. Parents recognize that testing mania is popular among politicians and bureaucrats, but it hurts our students.

· While district leaders tell the community that the Pasco’s greatest spending growth will be for teaching and teaching support, in reality during the past five years, the greatest percentage growth in spending has been for even more administration, a 20 percent increase. Despite the growing ranks of bureaucrats, district leaders are failing in their basic duties, including not supplying basic curriculum in many classrooms, and failing to smoothly plan for new schools.

Hard-earned tax dollars are being squandered by an administration that seems unable or unwilling to manage our schools competently.

· District leaders continually argue that no money is available, but the reality is that district leaders are blocking tens of millions of dollars from ever reaching students.

· The $30+ million currently stashed away unspent is money that our local farmers, business owners, church congregations and parents paid in hard-earned taxes to provide quality schools.

· After criticism arose, Supt. Saundra Hill issued a memo explaining that at least $29 million would remain off-limits from helping students: Instead, Hill said her priority is to set aside multi-million reserves for topics as nebulous as an “encumbrance carryover,” “reserve for other carryover,” “interfund loan receivable,” and, despite that it’s now mid-2015, a $1.7 million “reserve for FY (fiscal year) 13-14 Net Rev./Exp./Transfers Out.”

What can you do?

Teachers work one-on-one with students every day, and see the problems that result from our district leaders’ misplaced priorities. Parents know to trust our opinions.

Spread the word by explaining to friends why these issues matter. Use social media, or quick chats in grocery store checkout lines, or in email letters-to-the-editor to the local paper. Put a “We Support Our Teachers!” sign in the window of your business, or car window. When asked, “What do teachers want?” Be clear: “We want kids in our community to get a great education!”

Most importantly, put Aug. 12 on your calendar. It’s critical that all PAE members attend our general membership meeting, 6 p.m. Aug. 12 at 1328 N. Road 28, in Pasco, the Steamfitters’ union hall. We’ll let you know whether a resolution is in sight, and discuss what next steps PAE members want to take, up to and including a possible strike if our contract issues remain unresolved. Please mark your calendars for this very important meeting.

Bargaining Update July 23rd

From: Lacey Unseth [WA] []
Sent: Thursday, July 23, 2015 5:41 PM
Subject: Bargaining Update July 23rd

What’s behind the district’s mediation request?

On Wednesday, PAE and PSD met for what was planned as a full day’s bargaining session, with the district due to offer a full counter proposal to the issues PAE presented Tuesday. But prior to presenting its proposal, the district declared it would not agree to spend any more money on Pasco’s students or teachers until PAE started pulling money items out of our package. It was the second time in two days the district suggested teachers should start bargaining against themselves, while they just wait for us to give up on our requests.

The district was not done attempting to delay and deny, however. Supt. Saundra Hill’s lead bargainer then announced the district would stop negotiating any financial matters until a mediator from the state Public Employees Relations Commission is sent to Pasco.

The district’s demand for mediation is yet another deliberate attempt to slow down the process, hoping we will give up sooner or later. Procedurally, the state needs to assign a mediator. The mediator needs to coordinate dates with PAE and PSD that also fit the mediator’s schedule. Once the mediator arrives in Pasco, both sides need to take time to bring the mediator up to speed on their proposals and what has occurred already. Typically, the mediator then puts each side in separate conference rooms and shuttles back and forth, listening separately to each side and then relaying the proposals to the other group. Unlike a courtroom judge, a mediator does not have the power to decide what the final settlement will be; he or she can only try to pressure both sides to reach consensus.

Before recessing, PAE Chief Bargainer Matthew Polk directly asked Hill’s team why the district is trying to push teachers into a strike, instead of bargaining in good faith.

Their team had no answer, other than to say they’d be willing negotiate so long as PAE’s requests don’t have any monetary cost to the district.

The Association has repeatedly told Hill’s team, as well as other Booth building administrators, that PSD’s old style of bargaining and labor relations is no longer acceptable. We also have communicated this message directly to Pasco’s School Board through board-level grievance presentations. Again, one must ask: does Saundra Hill really have a desire to address the concerns presented by the Association? The answer is “NO.” Hill instead continues to believe the Association will back away from the needs of our members and Pasco’s students. While Hill’s misreading of our resolve will ultimately prove futile, she is letting precious time to bargain slip away. With a potential strike vote Aug. 12, and the first week of school only five weeks away, the clock is ticking.

Our members have been clear about the issues the district must address: curriculum, testing, compensation, planning time, work load (including 6th grade transition), special education, TPEP, and a desire to work in a positive work environment. Hill’s team continues assert the district cannot figure out what the issues are.

As the clock continues to tick, it is time for members and parents to tell Saundra Hill that the district needs to meaningfully address the concerns of our teachers and the community — after all, our issues impact every student, and therefore every taxpayer.

We are not giving up simply because Hill refuses to acknowledge educational needs of our district’s teachers and students. Meanwhile, we will wait for the superintendent to get her act together. Through August 12 your bargaining team needs members from all schools go help put pressure on the district to bargain in good faith.

* All schools need to be represented at the July 27 bargaining support work team meeting at 4 p.m. at the WEA-SE office.

* Contribute an hour or two to help make informational signs, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Tuesday July 28, and Wednesday July 29, at the PAE office.

* Join in informational picketing Aug. 4 and 5. Times and location set after mediation site is selected.

* Walk select targeted neighborhoods to invite parents and other voters to PAE’s Community Budget Forum Aug 1-10.

* Attend the Community Budget Forum 7 p.m., Aug. 11. Location determined July 27.

* Attend the PAE General Membership Meeting Aug. 12, Steamfitters Local 598, 1328 N Road 28.

%d bloggers like this: