Monday, November 28, 2011

Why so much disrespect toward teachers?

Great commentary by Jeff Libman!

Click link for original post from the Chicago Tribune,0,6535204.story

One thing I've always marveled at is how much respect teachers command in most countries of the world outside the United States. Public school teachers in the developing world make very little money but are honored members of society. As an English as a second language instructor for young adults at Truman College, I am reminded of this every day. My students call me teacher or professor (I'm not a professor) or Mr. Libman. More than a handful even say thank you at the end of class. Sure, every once in a while a cellphone rings during a lesson or students fail to do their homework, but in general I am offered a level of respect that seems, well, normal.

In Chicago Public Schools, it's not the students who are short on respect for the teachers, although that is certainly a cause for concern in some schools. It seems that the biggest threat to teachers' dignity comes from the very board of education that hires them to teach.

The Chicago Board of Education has recently taken many steps that diminish its respect for our educators. Word came down at the end of the last school year that our elementary school teachers would immediately be required to serve breakfast to their students during what was formerly instructional time. I can't think of a more demeaning and inefficient use of the time and expertise of professional educators than asking them to be waiters and waitresses. I have nothing against the restaurant industry. Waiting tables is a tough job, but our educators earned bachelor's and master's degrees to teach, not serve food.

Then in the summer, the board reneged on its contractual obligation to teachers of a 4 percent salary increase, claiming it didn't have the money to meet this obligation and could therefore forgo these terms of the contract. Given the financial climate and the fact that this was the final year of the contract, teachers accepted it and went back to work without incident this school year.

Not long after, the board tried to entice teachers to decide, outside of their union contract, to extend their school day and work 90 minutes longer for this reduction in pay. If they had voted "yes," teachers would have received a small stipend and schools would have received up to $150,000. Independent estimates calculated that if every school had accepted this deal, the amount of money the board would have paid out would have been comparable to the 4 percent salary increase obligation that the board claimed it could not meet. Teachers were rightfully angry at what seemed like a disingenuous plea of poverty by the board.

Only a few schools accepted the deal, so public school teachers were attacked for being selfish and not really caring about their students. It seemed no one came to the aid of educators who refused such a deal. Religious leaders, parents and elected officials all urged teachers to do the right thing for their kids. I guess teachers were supposed to be saints and sacrifice everything, including their contract, for the good of their students.

And just recently, we learned of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's plan to offer up to a $20,000 bonus to principals whose schools meet certain achievement standards for their students this year. How big of a bonus will the teachers who teach these students receive? Zero. That's right. Nothing. And that's about the same amount of respect our teachers are receiving these days.

My wife teaches 32 third-graders at a magnet elementary school. No teacher's aide. No cafeteria. Little money so she can stock her classroom with the extra books and supplies she needs. Long nights grading papers. Full weekends preparing lessons. If it weren't for the love she feels for the kids, she'd be gone. I venture to guess many other Chicago Public Schools teachers feel the same way.

In general, most teachers are not opposed to a longer school day, but they want to know how the day will be used and that class size will be reduced. They are not opposed to feeding children breakfast, but they should not be employed to do it. They know economic times are tight, but they want honesty from the board. They are not opposed to merit pay, but they want it to be fair.

There are always claims that teachers are failing our students. To be sure, like any industry, education has its share of teachers who are not performing as they should. And yes, the union contract makes it harder to remove these instructors, but not impossible. But let's be honest. These educators are by far the exception and not the rule. Most educators are well-educated, well-intentioned professionals who are highly committed to teaching. They put in extra hours, their own money and mountains of care, compassion and thought so their students can succeed. They need to be supported, not marginalized. I fear that these dedicated and talented instructors may unfortunately become more the exception than the rule if CPS continues to treat them as it has.

Jeff Libman, author of "An Immigrant Class: Oral Histories from Chicago's Newest Immigrants," teaches English as a second language at Truman College in Chicago.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

'Til the Cows Come Home!

The cows are where we like to sit at a jazz concert. Spit valve close!  And the cows make a great audience...not one of them left early!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Will the politicians remember?

Now that contract time is fast approaching, will the alderman remember this??

Maybe their next field trip should be to ride with the Chicago Police for the day or spend the day in a classroom?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

It'll Make Your Job Easier...Really?!?

To make teaching "easier" certain Chicago Public Schools want their teachers to use this daily lesson plan template.  Just look at the's as easy as 1, 2, Aaaggghhhhhhh!!!

Or is this really a sophisticated game of Pick Up Stix???
Image Detail

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Click Here to Honor Your Favorite Veteran!

All Gave Some...Some Gave All

My grandfather, the inspiration and main focus of my book, My Hero, My Ding, was a WWII Veteran.  I believe his love of family deepened when he saw first-hand how easily families could be torn apart.  On this Veteran's Day I would like to honor him and all other Veterans! 

If you know a Veteran and would like to honor him or her, you can do so here!  It's simple...just email me a picture of your favorite Veteran and I will add it to this blog post.  I am proud to showcase them and give them the special recognition they deserve.   

In the Subject line just type in VETERAN

Please put the name of the person in the picture and either their branch of service, years of service, or some special fact I can include in a caption for you.

I will start the honors with two of my favorite veterans...
Eugene Cittadino, WWII Veteran (My Grandpa-My Ding)

Charles Tortorello, WWII Veteran (My Father-in-Law)

Ted Mueller, US Navy "Tin Can Soldier" aboard USS Plunkett

Roy Moscato, WWII Veteran

Terry Cordingley, US Navy

Author Mary Lee and her husband Chuck (not pictured), Retired Air Force

Bill Bowser, US Army 1978-1979

Sgt. Michael Martus U.S. Marine Corp.
Four year active + Four year inactive reserve
Served two tours in Iraq

A musical tribute to our veterans both past and present.
God Bless the USA!

(Let's see how many veterans we can honor. I will continue to add pictures throughout the weekend. Please help join in showing the veteras how much we appreciate them and their sacrifices... not just on Veteran's Day but everyday.)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

It's Official: Chicago's Very Own!

I do not know the exact date of when this will air on WGN, but here is a sneak preview!

Chicago's Very Own...

For more information about Lisa Tortorello's book My Hero, My Ding click here:

Friday, November 4, 2011

Looking for something to do this weekend?

How about some early shopping for some unique gifts? 

Come to the
26th Annual Bazaar, Holiday Gift and Craft Show

SS Constantine & Helen Greek Orthodox Church
 11025 S. Roberts Road, Palos Hills, IL 
(I'll be there too!:)

Saturday, November 5th - 9:00 am to 4:00 pm
Sunday, November 6th - 11:30 am to 3:00 p.m.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Festive Pictures, Great Costumes, and a Chance to VOTE (and win)!

(The moose are really enjoying their new blog and wanted to share their latest post with you!  If you like what you see below, click this link to keep up with all  the latest moose news and fun ) Make sure you read to the bottom for a chance to win!
We can't begin to tell you what a wonderful time we had on Halloween! We went out in groups to be safe. We made sure to come in before dark too. Once we were home we shared all of our goodies with the rest of our moose family (and there's over 200 of them)!

We should be working on some edits now for our new book The Moose at the Manger, but a promise is a promise...Halloween pictures first for all of our readers to enjoy and then we'll help our Moo with the edits.

First a few pictures - up close and personal...

The Mighty Hunters
Aarrrbbeeee Matie! The Pirate
BULL Moose
Rip Van Mooskles...Yawn!
Who wouldn't want to be a moose?!
007 Moose - James Moose

Leaving the house to go Trick-or-Treating...

The Moose Menagerie... Elephant moose, Pig moose, Dolphin moose and Frog moose

Vacation moose!

007 Moose, "Bear"ly moose, Dr. ChrisMoose, Ohio State moose

When we got back to the house all of us Moose Trick-or-Treaters took a group photo...

We can't wait to do this all over again next year, but in the meantime you can vote for your favorite Halloween moose while we pack up our costumes! Include your name and email address and you will be entered in a drawing to win a free copy of our upcoming book THE MOOSE AT THE MANGER which will be released in 2012!

Come join the fun and send this on to someone else so they can too!

The winner will be picked on December 1st!

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