Policy Change: Anonymity and threats

PS_20140819234740If at anytime you feel threatened, do not hesitate to let someone know. Whether it be a friend, family member, or authorities. You may feel embarrassed, or even receive ridicule, but when your family is involved, do you really want to take the chance? We are always available if you feel that any comment is of a threatening nature, and we will do our best to address the issue. If you truly feel threatened, there is no harm in calling the authorities and making a report for documentation.

We have taken steps here on the blog to ensure you will have the blog’s full support in any criminal or civil issue if it is deemed that a threat has been made. Anonymity is valued and we do not allow disrespect based on one’s choice to remain anonymous. The blog does not allow anonymous commenters to be ridiculed or abused in any way.

I realize this is a fine line, but it is one that has been hovered upon too many times on the blog. If a threat has been made or a crime committed and the authorities request identifying information (as stated on the policy page), then and only then will such information  be divulged.

In light of this issue, we have made the following addition to the blogs’s policy page.

As Always, Thanks for reading.

C. There are very few cases when anonymity of commenters will be divulged to a third party outside the blog. The Exceptions are listed below

i. When a threat is made to any participant and that participant feels it necessary to inform authorities of said threat, perceived or otherwise, YRF will provide authorities with the contact information (email,  IP address, phone, etc)  of the individual(s) involved. If a threat has been made or a crime committed and the authorities request identifying information (as stated on the policy page), then and only then will such information  be divulged.

Sincerely,

Staff at Verum Apparatus Publications, LLC and Your Riverside Forum..

 

Posted in Community, Government, Informative, Public Service Announcement Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

Notice: City Council Work Session

fix

A work session is scheduled for Monday 9/22/15 at 630 pm at City Hall with the council and city attorney.

Topic: Casino Agreement.

Posted in Community, Government, Informative, News, Press Release Tagged with: , , , , , ,

Deja Vu all over again: More roadblocks to city information (Riverside City Council Meeting, Sept. 15, 2014)

Casino gift horse

Want to hear it? Go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=faK1zD8CJNo  on our Youtube channel

or listen to it here

The council voted unanimously to have Trick or Treat on October 31st.

City Administrator/Economic Development Director Rogerson stated that ‘Council request for information’ will be placed on every agenda. City Council Member Christine Kirkwood stated that she is not stating a reason for any of her future information requests, citing a statement in the recent judgment against County Attorney Larry Brock, that said not having a reason for a request is irrelevant to the requestor’s receipt of information. She stated that anyone who asks for information from the city should receive it. She warned that if they try to block people as per a previously passed resolution, it would most likely end up at the Iowa Public Information Board (IPIB).

City Council Member Robert Schneider said,

“being an elected official…I think that puts us to a little higher standard than the citizens just coming in requesting information. We should be above board and be willing to share what it is you are looking for and why we want that information. Maybe that will spur some other dialogue and lead us down the road in the direction of something we need to change [ordinances]. I can understand where you think you are above the law from everybody else and don’t want to be placed on that pedestal with Larry Brock. If we want that information, we need to at least share why we want it.”

According to Schneider, Kirkwood asked to see the check stubs again; Kirkwood clarified that she wants information from the stubs and asked for just that (as per Sueppel’s recommendation at the September 2, 2017 city council meeting.). Even though the same information was provided by city staff when cost of living wages were being discussed, Rogerson said that as city employees, Kirkwood does not have the right to look at withholdings (it was that report that led to Kirkwood needing to verify numbers she felt were wrong). Rogerson, encouraging Kirkwood to file a claim with IPIB tomorrow, said that he would be willing to go to the IPIB with this issue and offered to meet Kirkwood in Des Moines. Rogerson said he has difficulty getting what she wants when she doesn’t even know. Kirkwood said she asked for a copy of the Casino agreement, Rogerson apparently handed her an agreement with Lyons. He said that is why they ask what do you want, what is the purpose…to help them locate it.

City Council Member Nate Kasdorf brought up the resolution regarding  access to records pending an attorney’s opinion. Mayor Bill Poch said that for the fifth time, he requests the information from Sueppel. Young asked, “What specifically are you asking for?” Kasdorf clarified that since the resolution was pending lawyer opinion on legality. Young said it is an administrative policy; “You can make any kind of administrative policy that you want,” said Young. Kasdorf said you cannot override a state decision. Young said that they can. Poch said, “They do it everywhere, Nate.”

Kirkwood moved to amend the minutes for the September 2, 2014 city council meeting to show Lois Schneider requested/received paystubs; Kirkwood has proof stating as such. She also moved to hold the contribution to the Fire Department fund raiser for discussion. The council voted 5-0 approving the consent agenda, yet Schneider made a motion to approve the contribution to the fundraiser, 4-1. Kirkwood said if it it was placed on a VISA card, it would not be legal to put employee meals on the card, it should not be legal to do the same in this case.  Rogerson said it was an appropriate expense, and Young said the council has approved it the previous three years. Before the vote and following Kirkwood’s explanation, Poch asked Schneider if he wanted to amend his motion to include ‘pending opinion of the city attorney’; Schneider declined.

The council unanimously approved: the Road Use Report; WCRF Ball Association Grant to purchase concession stand fixtures would provide $8,000 of a $10,000 project; the $3400 hotel/motel grant to the VFW, which will go toward tile floor repair; and the $2,257,500 WCRF Community building grant (paid out in 5 $451,500 annual installments). Kirkwood took issue with the apparent incompleteness of the request that provided no “clear picture” on a project that does not yet have a “blue print” and has “peanuts in the bank.” Kirkwood also noted that the matching funds are based on unconfirmed figures (i.e., casino agreement). Matching funds to the grant are estimated as being $2,322,500, placing the total estimated cost at $4,580,000. Rogerson asserted that this grant will help the project get off the ground because it will go to pay for the hiring of a fundraiser and engineer. Young pointed out that the grant amount is “not a dead set dollar amount.” Later, City Council Member Ralph Schnoebelen said that if the city gets the grant, they will only get what they can match and sees no harm in at least applying for it. Rogerson said he had gone to the committee 6 times and he has done what they told him to do. “If you wait until you have $750,000, you won’t be on the council and I’ll be frickin’ retired.” An agitated Rogerson said that “the door is open” because there are little to no other communities asking for money. It passed unanimously.

Poch spoke of how the Casino Agreement negotiating committee sat down with Riverside Golf Resort and Casino General Manager Dan Franz in negotiation of a new casino agreement. The agreement, drawn up by the casino’s lawyer, would give $1.2 million a year to the city along with the wagering tax at one half of 1% of revenue and hotel/motel tax (Wagering Tax 99F.11). Schnoebelen said that City Attorney Bill Sueppel, given that he did not sit in the original negotiating session, was unsure if this agreement would be beneficial to the city in moving forward. Schneider said they spent very little of the hour long meeting talking about the agreement. Poch suggested they do more homework and discuss it at a work session with the city attorney. Rogerson pointed out that the only difference between this contract and the previous one is that this one is $500K less. Rogerson and Poch disagreed on whether the casino will include a head count provision. Rogerson said that it is near impossible for this casino to do that due to its lack of a counting system and noted that current legislation is moving toward exempting land based casinos from keeping head counts. Poch said that he spoke with the head administrator at the Racing and Gaming Commission, and who was unaware of any such legislation. Rogerson said that he had Franz at $1.3 million and because they “dinked and dinked” setting up a committee, they are now down to $1.2 million. He asserted that if the committee “keeps it up, and we’re going to be less than a million.” The council voted unanimously to table the issue and have a work session with the city attorney (it was decided at the June 16, 2014 council meeting to negotiate without an attorney, contrary to Kirkwood’s suggestion).

Casino gift horse

The council also unanimously approved the construction of a burn building for use by the Riverside Fire Department and its mutual aid departments for training. The building will be constructed out of block, brick, steel and concrete will be located by the city maintenance building, and will be good for years.

Rogerson said that Young has accrued too much vacation time and requests that she be paid out 86 hours and two personal days. Young said she was unable to use it because of the unique circumstance of three audits within 2 years. Kasdorf wondered how someone can accrue that much vacation time when it states in the employee handbook an employee of the city cannot accrue over 80 hours. Kasdorf took issue with the council not following rules in their books. Kirkwood stated that this is a management issue; Young’s supervisor should keep an eye on that and report to the council sooner. It was approved, 3-2.

 

Posted in Community, Government, Informative, News Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

September 8-14 Washington County, Iowa Sheriff’s Report

freedigitalphotos.com

9/9/2014 1407518 12:44 TRAFFIC ACCIDENT

Agency: Washington County Sheriff’s Office

Location: 2500 HWY 218 AINSWORTH, IA 52201

ONE VEHICLE ROLL OVER TRAP 218 NB LANE S OF AINSWORTH AT BRIDGE || AINSWORTH QRS, AINSWORTH FIRE, 92-15, 92-6, 92-16, AD55, AND R92A RESPONDED Driver (male from PRIOR LAKE, MN) REPORT TO BE FILED AD55 TRANSPORTED ONE PATIENT TO THE UNIVERSITY OF IOWA HOSPITAL IN IOWA CITY, ARRIVED AT 1340.

9/10/2014 1407530 0:48 FIRE CALLS

Agency: Fire

Location: RIVERSIDE, IA 52327

CALLER REPORTS SMOKE DETECTOR GOING OFF, NO SMOKE. || RIVERSIDE FIRE DEPT RESPONDED. NO FIRE IT WAS DUE TO A FAULTY SMOKE DETECTOR

9/11/2014 1407563 9:47 ANIMAL COMPLAINT

Agency: Washington County Sheriff’s Office

Location: AINSWORTH, IA 52201

CALLER REPORTS HORSES ARE OUT OF THEIR AREA of neighbor’s PROPERTY BY THE POND SHARED WITH THE CALLER. 92-11 WAS ADVISED AND 113 MADE CONTACT WITH A MALE SUBJECT AT 317 N IOWA AVE, APT#1 IN WASHINGTON. someone WAS TO GO CORRAL THE HORSES.

9/12/2014 1407594 7:41 TRAFFIC ACCIDENT

Agency: Washington County Sheriff’s Office

Location: RIVERSIDE RD & 135TH ST RIVERSIDE, IA 52327

CALLER REPORTS VEHICLE VS DEER, NO INJURIES || 92-8 WAS ADVISED. CALLER WAS ADVISED TO FILL OUT A STATE ACCIDENT REPORT IF DAMAGE IS OVER $1500

9/12/2014 1407600 11:10 INTIMIDATION/HARASSMEN

Agency: Washington County Sheriff’s Office

Location: RIVERSIDE, IA 5232

CALLER REPORTS HER EX CONTINUES TO CALL HER AND SHE HAS ASKED HIM TO STOP. REQUESTS A DEPUTY MAKE CONTACT. 92-8 RESPONDED AND SPOKE TO BOTH PARTIES.  Boyfriend  from IOWA CITY WAS ADVISED TO STOP CALLING AND TEXTING THE FEMALE.

9/12/2014 1407604 16:08 TRAFFIC OTHER

Agency: Washington County Sheriff’s Office

Location: HWY 218 & 135TH ST RIVERSIDE, IA 52327

GOLD COLORED VEHICLE SWERVED INTO CALLERS LANE CAUSING A SCRATCH ON THE SIDE OF HER VEHICLE AND NEVER STOPPED SB HWY 218 || ISP368 WAS IN THE AREA and assisted CALLER

9/12/2014 1407613 20:12 TRAFFIC ACCIDENT

Agency: Washington County Sheriff’s Office

Location: 1124 HWY 218 RIVERSIDE, IA 52327

CAR VS DEER HWY 218 NB NORTH OF RIVERSIDE

9/12/2014 1407615 21:09 TRAFFIC OTHER

Agency: Washington County Sheriff’s Office

Location: RIVERSIDE, IA 52327

CALLER REPORTS A VOLKSWAGEN JETTA IS PARKED BLOCKING THE ALLEY. 92-9 AND 92-10

RESPONDED. THE VEHICLE WAS MOVED.

9/12/2014 1407621 23:48 ANIMAL COMPLAINT

Agency: Washington County Sheriff’s Office

Location: RIVERSIDE, IA 52327

CALLER REPORTS THERE IS AN INJURED DEER ON VINE AVENUE SOUTH OF HIGHWAY 22. 92-14

RESPONDED AND PUT THE DEER DOWN.

9/13/2014 1407625 0:17 TRAFFIC OTHER

Agency: Washington County Sheriff’s Office

Location: 3070 HWY 22 RIVERSIDE, IA 52327

REPORTS BEING OUT WITH A SUBJECT WHO HAS HIT A DEER. DEER TAG ISSUED TO OVERHOLD,CLIFFORD RAY

9/13/2014 1407653 18:27 BARKING DOG

Agency: Washington County Sheriff’s Office

Location: AINSWORTH, IA 52201

CALLER REPORTS DOG IS INSIDE A RESIDENCE BARKING || 92-3 RESPONDED DOG WAS quiet UPON ARRIVAL AND OWNER WAS MADE AWARE OF THE COMPLAINT

9/13/2014 1407661 23:11 TRAFFIC ACCIDENT

Agency: Washington County Sheriff’s Office

Location: RIVERSIDE, IA 52327

CALLER REPORTS VEHICLE IN THE DITCH, SUBJECT ADVISED CALLER HE DID NOT WANT

MEDICAL || 92-7 & 92-18 RESPONDED. 92-7 REPORTS SUBJECT NOW REQUESTS MEDICAL

ATTENTION. EARLS RESPONDED AND TOWED THE VEHICLE. UNDER $1500 DAMAGE. STATE

ACCIDENT REPORT FILED. AD55 TRANSPORTED THE SUBJECT TO UNIVERSITY OF IOWA

ARRVING AT 0017. ENTERED TOWED VEHICLE SIN/2454583. CHARGES PENDING.

9/14/2014 1407665 1:12 TRAFFIC STOP SERIOUS

Agency: Washington County Sheriff’s Office

Location: RIVERSIDE, IA 52327

VS || 92-18 ARRESTED: 50 year old female of  RIVERSIDE OFFENSE: DRIVING UNDER SUSPENSION

9/14/2014 1407693 18:57 TRAFFIC OTHER

Agency: Washington County Sheriff’s Office

Location: VINE AVE & 115TH ST RIVERSIDE, IA 52327

CALLER REPORTS A ROCK FLEW UP AND HIT HIS WINDSHEILD. REQUESTING DOCUMENTATION |

92-10 WAS ADVISED. DOCUMENTATION

Posted in Community, Government, Informative, News, Press Release Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,

Forum Funnies Vol. 1 no. 5

forum funnies title

Volume 1 Number 5

Im a unicorn w sheep

wiggum pic: http://28.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_ldjb6pZsYQ1qb08moo1_500.jpg

For past cartoons, go to the Archives page by clicking on the tab in the menu, or here.

Posted in Art & Literature, Column, Comic, humor Tagged with: , , ,

September 15, 2014 Riverside City Council Meeting Agenda

http://www.pinterest.com/

1. Call to Order

2. Roll Call

3. Approval of Agenda (discuss/action)

4. Consent Agenda (discuss/action)

• Minutes 9/2/14

• Expenditures

5. Committee Reports (discuss/action)

6. Citizen Comments

7. Resolution 09152014-1 Approval of Road Use Report (discuss/action)

8. Resolution 09152014-2 WCRF Grant Ball Assoc. (discuss/

action)

9. Resolution 09152014-3 WCRF Grant Comm Ctr. (discuss/action)

10.Resolution 09152014-4 Casino Agreement (discuss/action)

11.VFW Hotel/Motel Grant Request (discuss/action)

12.Fire Dept Request Chad Smothers (discuss/action)

13.Trick or Treat Date (discuss/action)

14.Council Request for Information (discuss/action)

15.City Administrator Comments (discuss/action)

16.Council Comments (discuss/action)

17.Adjourn

Posted in Community, Government, Informative, News, Press Release Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

September 12, 2014 Riverside’s Progress Report

community

This list is a short compilation of items that need addressed in Riverside. It is a guide or score sheet, a progress report. It contains issues that citizens are still asking about. Since there are many out there who like to point out when I am wrong (my wife included), please, as with anything posted on this site, point such instances out. If you feel we missed anything or if something should not be included, by all means, let us know.

You can call this living in the past. You can chastise because it does not focus on the positive. Yes we have town celebrations, yes paint and flower pots dressed up downtown, the roof on the shelter at Railroad Park was replaced, etc., etc. Some of these things make me very proud to live in Riverside. Do you know what else makes me proud to live in Riverside? My neighbors, my friends, and those people who are willing to stand up and hold people accountable. Because they believe, like my son said,

“I like this town, ‘cause it’s ours.”

Issues avoided/ignored

  • Council Member Bob Schneider’s apology to the citizens and Ms. Kirkwood for misleading them regarding his/his wife’s records request for employee pay stubs (Schneider used the words ‘we’ and ‘I’ when asking Kirkwood what was requested at the September 2, 2014 city council meeting [see the preceding post, under ‘Check Stub’] )
  • Employees entering citizen homes without permission was never even addressed by the council or mayor, nor were responses returned to our inquiries ( http://wp.me/p2fxcp-4eL )
  • Semis parking along the shoulder of Hiway 22
  • Cherry Lane
  • Audit status (the previous audit/special investigation had regular updates)
  • Junk vehicles- do I really need to explain this one?
  • Boise Court- This requires some clarification. The “annexation and rezoning of Boise Ct.” was denied at the June 16, 2014 meeting, even though it is part of the comprehensive plan.

Issues to keep tabs on

  • At the June 16 RCCM, the council approved the negotiating team of Council Members Ralph Schnoebelen and Bob Schneider, Mayor Bill Poch and City Administrator/Economic Development Director Rusty Rogerson for the ‘deal’ with the Casino (re: the agreement paying the city ended July 31; by law, we will receive money from the casino anyway…what’s to negotiate?)
  • At the same meeting, City Council Member Nate Kasdorf asked for Conservation Park rules and regulations, i.e., park hours to be on the next agenda. It was not ( http://wp.me/p2fxcp-4fJ ), nor was it discussed at that meeting.
  • Methodist church storm water issues
  • At the August 4, 2014 Riverside City Council meeting, ‘Attorney’s opinion: what open records are and what are not on the next meeting’s agenda’ was approved by the council. Kasdorf and Poch also asked for an opinion at the September 2, 2014 council meeting.
  • At the August 18 council meeting, the council voted to put up a stop sign at Ella and Ash.
  • Plans regarding the construction of the Hall Park Concession stand.
  • What was the attorney’s opinion on the motion regarding Kirkwood putting items on the agenda?
  • Why were only Schneider and Poch allowed to select the final three engineering firms?

     From the City Administrator’s Punch List

  • Meet with Washington Economic Development Group (WEDG) Executive Director, Ed Raber about residential development.
  • Fence on the east side of sidewalk of Conservation Park. Fall 2014
  • Primitive camping at Conservation Park Fall 2014
  • Amend TIF [tax increment funding] to include area in Roetlin Property 8/14/ Amend urban renewal plan to include north west corner of Roetlin’s property
  • Holderness property
  • Geyer property
  • City events- Address profit/loss of events when proposing future events
  • Develop ideas for Fall WCRF grant requests 9/14
  • Evaluate all city buildings for heightened security (including City Hall 12/14)
  • Develop working relationships with other communities
  • Conduct open house of city facilities Fall 2014
  • Revise/renew city administrator contract Fall 2014
  • Employee job description revisions Fall 2014
  • Complete evaluations/revise job descriptions
  • Resolve fund balances Fall 2014
  • Review/revise employee handbook
  • Possible IDOT funds to work on sidewalks downtown 6/14
Posted in Community, Government, Informative, News Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,

9/11 Tribute to those lost and left behind [video]

cropped-yrf-in-memorylogo.png

Kind of late. but it’s worth it. Please watch.

The video on this site works if you are logged into Facebook. If you don’t have Facebook, go to http://www.hot1061.com/ and it is in a scroll toward the bottom in the middle.

 

 

Posted in Community, Family, Informative, Lifestyles, Video Tagged with: , , , , ,

Screwed, Lesson 13: Disservice

screwed pic Nick Smith

***Please read the disclaimer to the right. The following is the latest in several installments by former teacher and school board member for the Highland Community School District, Nick Smith. They are lessons to a future student, Cal-Em (Lesson 1 Lesson #2 , Lesson #3, Part ILesson #3, Part II LESSON 4 , Lesson 5: [part 1], Lesson 5[part 2],  LESSON 5 [part 3]LESSON 6LESSON SEVEN, Part I Lesson 7, part IILESSON 8Lesson 9Lesson 10 , Lesson #11 , Lesson #12)

PS_20140822114049

LETTERS TO CAL-EM A PERSONAL HISTORY OF HIGHLAND

By Nick Smith

SCREWED

 

 

No, we do not want to change how we teach AGAIN because so and so came out with a new technique which looks familiarly like the one we used several years ago until a new technique came out and we used that.   And for goodness sakes, please, please, we don’t need another laminated copy of Bloom’s taxonomy. 

                      —[If Teachers Planned In-service Training…Published July 28, 2013 by wmcbryde21]

Math Teacher Writing on Chalk BoardIn the last three decades of education reform, teachers have been viewed as central to both the problem and the solution to education.  Central to almost all reform movements is the concept that teachers need to be motivated to teach better.  Somehow, the theory goes, teachers need to be elevated to higher levels of performance.   Obviously, new teachers need help and veteran teachers need to keep up with all the new findings, techniques, methods, research and educational discoveries that they can.   I agree that meaningful in-services that helped make me a better teacher were invaluable and much appreciated.  Unfortunately, valuable in-services were not presented very often; they were generally boring, repetitive and merely resulted in more work for the individual.

According to most studies, the present school environment is a reward-scarce setting for professional teaching and seems to work against teachers’ efforts to grow and improve; thus, improving student learning (Peterson 1995).  Most of a teacher’s work, I can say from experience, is carried out in a self-contained classroom totally isolated from any support from one’s colleagues, let alone any administrators or parents.  Because of this long-standing organizational structure in public schools, teachers are difficult to supervise, never receive supportive feedback from others and usually find it hard to work with others. These circumstances result in many good teachers leaving the profession in the first three years of their employment (Frase 1992), a situation that is detrimental to education and the students it serves.  The constant revolving door of new teachers, in my opinion, is one of the largest factors screwing kids out of an excellent education even today.  Obviously, a way needs to be found to keep good teachers teaching and keep them motivated to excel.   A motivated teacher feels satisfaction with their job and they feel empowered to pursue growth and excellence in teaching practice.

evaluate check mark

I know when I taught, I never received any feedback concerning my teaching.  The only time I was observed was when another school district sent a team in to watch me for a possible employment opportunity.   Yes, principals sat in my room for fifteen to twenty minutes and pretended as if they could evaluate me once or twice, but I never stayed long enough to see my true talents and abilities as a teacher.  No, as a teacher, one learns to evaluate themselves, how to motivate themselves, how to congratulate themselves and how to recharge themselves.  After a while, teachers don’t feel they really need anyone else because they become self-contained too.   I never needed feedback to motivate me, and neither did most of the other teachers.  It would have helped in the beginning of my career if someone would have given me some constructive criticism and help, but once you learn to swim, you keep right on swimming.

In the 1980s, state governments and local school districts enacted an array of incentive plans designed to recruit, reward, and retain the best teachers. Merit pay and career ladders sprang into existence to provide financial incentives, varied work, and advancement opportunities for seasoned teachers. These, along with across-the-board pay raises, work environment premiums for difficult assignments, and grants or sabbaticals for research and study, were expected to improve teacher performance and increase motivation.  However, they did not.   The reason of course was that the whole concept was based on false premises when it comes to teaching.  By using a business mentality, reformers thought that teachers were more likely to strive in their work if there was a valued reward waiting for them somewhere.  Next, they felt that teachers were dissatisfied because they were not being justly compensated for their efforts and accomplishments.  Finally, reformers felt that teachers would be more productive if their work was more varied and challenging.

Cal-Em, let me repeat myself yet again, schools are not factories, teachers are not mindless robots, students are not products or commodities and public education isn’t producing toasters or blue berry ice cream.  All of these initiatives ultimately failed because they were unworkable in the first place, underfunded and of little concern to the teachers.  The third reasoning suggests differentiated staffing, organizational incentives and the ever-present reform-oriented staff development meeting, and was viewed as demeaning and insulting by most teachers.  Promises were made, and then broken.  Programs were started and then dismantled, awarded and then rescinded.  One of my favorite incentive programs dealt with National Certification.  The state of Iowa declared that if a teacher were to become nationally certified, they would be awarded a $10,000 bonus.  I tried for one of the scholarships that were supposedly available, but couldn’t get one, nor did anyone else.  I had a friend who went through the program at their own expense and obtained the certification, but the state reneged on their promise and only paid $2,500, which was less than it cost to obtain the certification in the first place.

The idea of merit pay has a straightforward appeal: it provides financial rewards for meeting established goals and standards.  The problem with merit pay rests with its potential to destroy the relationships between teachers and other teachers, teachers and students and teachers and administrators.  I’ve worked under a couple of merit pay systems (not in teaching) and, believe me, it is no panacea.  Some people literally hated other employees because one got a larger raise than the other did.  Some refused to help others because it might affect their standing with the boss and their pay raise.  Merit winners are turned into “brown noses” and “butt kissers” by their fellow workers.  Then there is the general distrust of any administrator having the ability justly and fairly to judge anyone on merit.  Finally, test scores are the poorest of all merit indicators because they (the scores) are so volatile.

A merit system screws children out of an education.  Let’s be practical.   If, as a teacher, your merit pay increase depends on your students’ performance on a standardized test, what would you do?  You have a family to feed, bills to pay, a mortgage and somehow you need to keep up with the cost of living.  Poor students pose a threat to test scores, ratings and the reward.  It would be best if you didn’t have any poor students or special needs students or disabled students.  The most heinous result, however, is that teachers would surely adjust their teaching down to the test and the test only, setting their expectations no higher than the program goals or the proficiency level of the test.  Do I think teachers would want to do this?  No, but I think they would out of self-preservation and the well-being of their families.  I’m telling you right now, Cal-Em, merit pay systems and incentive pay programs do not work and are, in fact, detrimental to the purpose of the public schools and the students who attend them.   Merit pay schemes are not appropriate for schools, period!   Schools require cooperation, collaboration and close relationships between teachers.  Merit systems destroy all of that.  It may work for Microsoft, but not for schools.

What do teachers want?  What really motivates most teachers beyond a one to three year career?  Let me tell you.  It has almost nothing to do with money.  Oh, don’t get me wrong; I’ll spend every cent that I can get, but it’s not the real motivating factor.  Merit pay and other incentive policies gained legislative popularity largely because of their seeming simplicity. They were meant to provide external incentives – financial rewards, advancement opportunities, workplace variety – but did not adequately resolve the problem of teacher satisfaction.

Frase (1992) offers one reason why measures relying on external rewards have been insufficient. There is overwhelming research evidence, he says, that teachers enter teaching to help young people learn, that their most gratifying reward is ideaaccomplishing this goal, and that the work-related factors most important to teachers are those that allow them to practice their craft successfully (see also Frase 1989; Lortie 1976; Mitchell, Ortiz, and Mitchell 1987).  Bingo!  I never went into teaching to get rich.  I knew I’d never be paid what I was worth, but the money was never the point.  The light bulbs were.  You can’t imagine the satisfaction, the pride, the joy and the overall euphoria a teacher experiences when they see all the light bulbs going on in their students minds—the light bulbs of understanding.  All the outstanding teachers I’ve ever known, including myself, often say, “You, know, I’d teach for nothing, if I didn’t have the bills to pay and the kids to feed.”  They all mean it.  They all love the satisfaction of helping students understand, helping them learn, seeing them grow and stretch and thrive and progress and learn, learn, learn.

Now don’t get me wrong, even the most dedicated, self-satisfied teacher will become discouraged and leave the profession if their salary doesn’t provide for their and their family’s needs, but if the basic pay is adequate, other factors become more important.   For example, a survey conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) found that teacher compensation, including salary, benefits, and supplemental income, showed little relation to long-term satisfaction with teaching as a career (NCES, 1997). According to Frase (1992), content variables are the crucial factor in motivating teachers to high levels of performance.  Duh, I could have told them that from the beginning and saved them all that research.   Furthermore, work content factors are intrinsic to the work itself. They include opportunities for professional development, recognition, challenging and varied work, increased responsibility, achievement, empowerment, and authority. Some researchers argue that teachers who do not feel supported in these areas are less motivated to do their best work in the classroom (NCES. 1997).

Data from the National Center for Education Statistics (1997) confirm that staff recognition, parental support, teacher participation in school decision making, influence over school policy, and control in the classroom are the factors most strongly associated with teacher satisfaction. Other research concurs that most teachers need to have a sense of accomplishment in these sectors if they are to persevere and excel in the difficult work of teaching.  Three major areas that relate to teachers’ job satisfaction are as follows:

  1. Feedback is the factor most strongly related to job satisfaction, yet teachers typically receive very little accurate and helpful feedback regarding their teaching. I don’t mean a superficial pat on the back every day or teacher of the week certificates.  I mean real professional, honest, direct, truthful feedback–both the good and the poor.
  2. Autonomy is strongly related to job satisfaction for many, but not all, teachers. Autonomy is not necessarily defined as freedom from interference in the classroom; rather, the majority of teachers view autonomy as freedom to develop collegial relationships to accomplish tasks. Autonomy means doing the job the right way, the way the teacher knows it needs to be done, not through some unlearned method imposed by the know-it-all non-teachers.
  3. Collegiality is also important for teachers. Collegiality can be expressed through experiencing challenging and stimulating work, creating school improvement plans, and leading curriculum development groups. The literature suggests that collegiality is directly linked to effective schools (Johnson 1986; Glatthorn and Fox 1996), where “teachers valued and participated in norms of collegiality and continuous improvement (experimentation)” (Little 1982, 1). Teachers, like most other professionals, have an experience factor.  It is best to talk about teaching problems, situations, concerns and frustrations with other teachers because they and only they can really understand what you’re talking about because they’ve been there.  Like police officers, soldiers, doctors, lawyers, etc., tend to talk in confidence with their own, teachers want collegial relationships with other teachers because other teachers have experienced the same things.  They understand your problem and dilemma in ways no one else can.

I hope you noticed, Cal-Em, that the motivational things I’ve been discussing don’t actually cost any money at all.  I will deal more with this subject later.  Let me end right now by saying that the best teachers motivate themselves, and they let other teachers motivate them, also.   The best in-services we ever had at Highland were those developed and presented by our fellow teachers—those in-house efforts for teacher improvement.  The in-services where people came in from the outside to tell us poor feeble minded, no good, very bad teachers how to do a better job made no impact at all.  In-services outside the school, even though they cost money, were equally worthless.  No, I’m wrong on that.  There was great worth in talking with other teachers from around the state or the country and developing ideas from their experiences to help with my personal growth as a teacher.

There is no reason continually to reinvent the machine when you can simply reprogram the one you’ve got.

fix

Posted in Column, Community, Guest Post, Op-ed, Opinion, School Tagged with: , , , , , ,

Freedom of Info Round Table: Opening Doors, Opening Minds

FOI roundtable postcard-vert2.indd

Posted in Communiity, Community, Event, Government, Informative, News, Press Release, School Tagged with: , , , , , ,
Ad

Your Riverside Forum: The unofficial blog of Riverside

Forum Funnies

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Bloggers' Rights at EFF

PLEASE READ

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in editorials, correspondence, posts/comments, press releases, et al from citizens or particular writers are not necessarily those of Your Riverside Forum or Verum Apparatus Publications, LLC, its staff, owners, or associates, nor do Your Riverside Forum or Verum Apparatus Publications, LLC, its staff, owners, or associates necessarily endorse any product or ideology expressed in editorials, correspondence, posts/comments, press releases, et al, nor are we responsible for any agreements entered into by visitors to the blog with entities via links to other sites.
%d bloggers like this: