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Here are some interesting articles we received and discovered this past week…


Big Teacher Pay Proposals are Missing the Mark

Quote from Article:

It’s easy to see why pols would be motivated to tackle teacher pay: Not only are teacher unions a significant force in the Democratic nominating process, but 72 percent of Americans say that teachers should be paid more. And this is all in the public eye due to a wave of teacher strikes in recent years, in locales that range from Los Angeles and Chicago to West Virginia and Oklahoma.


Unfortunately, the teacher pay conversation has been more narrowly framed by the problematic assertion that America’s teachers are systematically underpaid relative to similar workers. Yahoo News has asserted “teachers now make more than 20 percent less than similarly educated professionals.” The Washington Post reported that the “teacher pay penalty” was a “record 21.4 percent” in 2018, while New York Magazine lamented that teachers “could expect to be paid far less than college graduates in other professional fields.”

Here’s the catch: It’s not at all clear that this is true. In fact, the methodology used to produce the “teacher pay gap” is hugely suspect. Applied to other fields, for instance, it finds that nurses are overpaid and that telemarketers are underpaid.

Indeed, the source of the “teacher pay gap” statistic is an annual report by the energetically progressive Economic Policy Institute (EPI). To determine that teachers are paid 21.4 percent less than their peers, the EPI report compares income with years of education and basic demographic information (such as age and marital status), and then attributing any salary differentials to the profession. Yet, as noted above, applying the same methodology to other professions yields some pretty bizarre results.

Using the EPI model, for instance, analysts Andrew Biggs and Jason Richwine calculate that nurses are “overpaid” by 29 percent, firefighters by 25 percent, and aerospace engineers by 38 percent — while telemarketers are “underpaid” by 26 percent.


If teachers were as underpaid as EPI suggests, one might expect a large share of teachers to quit their jobs each year so they could move to higher-paying work. Instead, for all the talk of teacher turnover and teacher shortages, the reality is that teachers quit less often than their private sector counterparts. The quit rate, as measured by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is roughly three times lower for public school teachers than for private sector employees. Moreover, it turns out that only five percent of departing teachers cite “salary and other job benefits” as the reason for their departure.


Don’t misunderstand. We’re not suggesting that teachers are living large. But, in most locales, teachers are faring reasonably well. Nationally, the NEA reports that an individual teacher earns $60,477 a year — which is nearly the same as the median American household ($63,179), and meaning that a married couple composed of two teachers is well into the top quintile of household earnings. The poverty rate for teachers is 1.1 percent. And a Federal Reserve survey found that 81 percent of teachers describe their financial situation as either “doing okay” or “living comfortably,” while just 2.7 percent report “finding it hard to get by.” Meanwhile, teacher health care and retirement benefits are generally far more generous than those of their peers in the private sector. In short, this is the picture of a solidly middle class profession.


It’s ridiculous to design a pay system in which plenty of outstanding teachers spend two or three months a year bartending or painting houses. New spending could be used to turn teaching into more of a full-time profession, where great teachers are compensated for taking on leadership roles, designing curricula, and mentorship. At the same time, it’s essential to overhaul benefits. Former Obama education official Chad Aldeman notes that, for every ten dollars that states and districts contribute to pension plans, seven dollars pay down past pension debt, while just three go to benefits for current teachers.

District Deeds Synopsis:

In concept we completely agree that Teachers deserve the optimal pay for their efforts.  We entrust our children with these individuals and feel that they must be failrly compensated according to their level of performance.

Unfortunately Teacher pay has become a political issue, supported by inaccurate calculations (like the EPI) and special interest groups (like the NEA) that help elect incompetent Board of Education candidates like the completely corrupt San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) Trustees led by union organizer Richard “Tricky Dick” Barrera.

Those corrupt SDUSD Trustees then illegaly appoint an equally corrupt and incompetent Elementary School Supertendent (ESS) Cindy Marten and massive operational, financial and educational disasters ensue.

Given that corrupt process, how can any SDUSD Stakeholders, expect that Teachers will be fairly compensated according to their level of performance or that the corrupt SDUSD Trustess and Superintendent and their cronies have the capacity to represent the best interests of their constuents?

The obvious answer is that, despite millions of dollars of SDUSD propaganda, the disgustingly corrupt Trustees and ESS Marten never represent best interests of their constuents…they only selfishly represent the best financial and career interests of themselves…and ALL Students and Teachers suffer.

What School Could Be If It Were Designed for Kids With Autism

Quote from Article:

A charming, bright 5-year-old stands out in his classroom at Maurice Wollin elementary school, on Staten Island, as an extremely social, kind, and curious child. He remembers more about his peers—names, significant events, likes and dislikes—than almost any other kindergartner at his school does.

But despite his genuine interest in his classmates and their well-being, he often struggles with interpreting their feelings and intentions—he has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). (This 5-year-old and the other students mentioned in this article have been granted anonymity to protect their privacy.) One morning last month, in the middle of a math lesson, a soft-spoken classmate accidentally bumped into his shoulder, and quickly apologized with a big, friendly smile. But the sociable child concluded that his classmate was being mean, and punched him in the shoulder, then dropped to the floor, crying, his arms flailing and his voice growing louder.


In many classrooms, a teacher’s aide might have pulled him aside, attempted to help him calm down, and encouraged him to be quiet. If he didn’t comply, and continued to disrupt other students’ learning, he might have been sent to a counselor’s office or the principal’s office, or have been sent home for the day. (Across the nation, students with disabilities are suspended at twice the rate of students without them.)

Instead, within seconds of his dropping to the floor, his teacher, Tracy Murray, raised a laminated sign with an image of her classroom’s “clubhouse,” a special stress-relief area where kids who feel emotionally overwhelmed can take a break and use relaxation techniques that their teachers and therapists have recommended for them personally. There, he sank into a black beanbag chair and started slowly squeezing a pink ball in order to soothe himself.

Once he looked more relaxed, Murray, a 26-year veteran of special education, sat down next to him while her co-teacher, Elizabeth Garber, continued with the lesson. Because many children with autism learn better with visual aids, Murray drew a simple comic strip—with stick figures and dialogue balloons—to represent what had happened with the student and his classmate. Once he saw that the encounter was an accident and that he could make “smart guesses” about his peers’ intentions in the future by observing their facial expressions and listening to what they say, he calmed down and returned to the math lesson.


Nationwide, more than half of students with autism ages 6 to 21 spend more than 40 percent of their school day in a majority-neurotypical classroom, with about two-thirds of this group spending 80 percent of their day in one. In general, the rest spend most of their school day in a special-education class or at a school where all students have one or more disabilities.

When a student on the spectrum is present, majority-neurotypical classrooms typically have one certified teacher—many without special-education training—and one or more teacher’s aides, who help students with special needs follow teachers’ directions and complete academic tasks. ASD Nest, meanwhile, places two certified and specially trained teachers in each participating classroom, which allows one of them to provide one-on-one social, emotional, or academic support whenever the need arises, without disrupting the lesson or pulling a student out of the classroom. On top of that, each classroom’s two co-teachers meet weekly with occupational, speech, and physical therapists to discuss each student’s progress and share observations about what’s working and what isn’t.


Murray, who was one of the inaugural Nest teachers, thinks that the program is effective because of its focus on collaboration among the ASD Nest teachers, school therapists, and university researchers, which results in frequent adjustments in the classroom activities and strategies tailored to every student. “We don’t expect students to learn the way we teach—we teach them the way they learn,” Murray told me at her school, sitting next to bookshelves covered by curtains in order to minimize visual stimulation, which can overwhelm some of her students on the spectrum, much like clutter, bright lights, and loud noises can.

Throughout the day, Murray and other teachers in the Nest program provide explicit guidance about emotional cues and social norms—information that can be elusive and invisible to children with autism. By the age of 5, many children can deduce that a smiling, friendly classmate is not looking to start a physical fight. Children with autism can struggle to reach that conclusion, but many special-education teachers, including Murray, believe that the ability to pick up on social cues can be taught in a classroom setting. ASD Nest is one of the few academic programs in the country that implements this approach in the classroom.


ASD Nest represents a big philosophical shift for Murray, who grew up in the 1970s attending schools that made few accommodations for students with diverse needs. She remembers when, in fifth grade at her Catholic school, a teacher reacted harshly to a friend of hers who she now guesses was on the spectrum. After the student asked for help multiple times, Murray recalled, the teacher slapped his textbook out of his hands and yelled, “How dare you keep interrupting while others are thinking!” The student returned to his desk in tears and, overwhelmed, threw his chair against the wall. (Murray long ago lost touch with him, and never learned his backstory.)


ASD Nest was formed in the early days of this neurodiversity movement, and since the beginning, it has focused on helping students become more independent. One recent morning, a counselor brought a student back to Murray’s kindergarten class from a speech-therapy session. He scores well on tests, but panics when faced with anything unexpected, such as a slightly different daily schedule or a stranger entering a classroom. His therapist has been working with him on detecting visual markers in the classroom so that he can make inferences about what’s going on. Today, instead of having a meltdown upon returning to class in the middle of a lesson, he scans the room and quietly walks to his seat, pulling out his school supplies.

Every day, Nest students with autism also attend “social clubs,” which are intended to help demystify unstated norms, such as whispering in libraries and not talking to strangers in bathroom stalls. In social clubs, students read fiction, look at photographs, watch movie clips, and play games, trying to glean what the characters in the films and books, as well as their peers in the group, are feeling and thinking based on their facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice.

District Deeds Synopsis:

After hearing about the many Special Educuation (SPED) classroms that currently lack the bare minimum of supports due to operational mismanagment and ignorance of SDUSD ESS  Cindy Marten, it was refreshing to read about school who really care about SPED Students.

Unfortunately, given the current incompentent and corrupt SDUSD leadership, it is virtually impossible to expect an innovative and effective SPED intervention plan like ASD to ever be experienced by the neediest SDUSD Students.

One Family, Two Generations Of Education Choice

Quote from Article:

Alicia Davis needed a fresh start after a storm of challenges – including being a teen mom – overwhelmed her in high school. Kaitlin Davis needed a safe place after kids in her assigned middle school tormented her over her sexual identity.

They are adults now, happy, married, and raising a family. For their 9-year-old twins, Brian and Leah, who endured bullying in kindergarten, the Davises turned almost instinctively to the kind of education choice options that are available to parents in one of the most choice-rich states in America. They found a private school, courtesy of a state scholarship, that knew how to navigate their children’s “disabilities” while also understanding their pain.

When you have options, “You don’t have to sacrifice being emotionally okay to have a good education. You don’t have to sacrifice a good education to be emotionally okay,” said Kaitlin, now 23. “You can have both.”


The Davis’s experience with public education is fast becoming the new normal in Florida. A generation ago, about 10 percent of K-12 students in Florida attended something other than assigned district schools. Today it’s more than 40 percent.

“Multiple choice” families with children enrolled in two or more options are not hard to find. It won’t be long before the same is true of families like the Davises.


Alicia Davis didn’t do well in district schools. ADHD made her unruly. Medication for it left her sleepy. Other issues piled on. Making friends was a struggle when her family moved from small-town Ohio. So was coming to terms with her sexual orientation. So were family members who didn’t understand.

In 10th grade, Alicia got pregnant. She didn’t listen to those who advised her to end the pregnancy; abortion violated her belief system. She didn’t listen to dark voices in her own head, either. At one point, she said, she stood on a third-floor apartment balcony for 45 minutes before crawling away. “I said, ‘This isn’t how my life should be for my babies,’ ” she said through tears. “So I talked myself down.”

School, though, didn’t get easier. In her junior year, Alicia was told she couldn’t graduate because she was too far behind to catch up. That’s when her mom went searching for options. She discovered Alicia could get a McKay Scholarship, an education choice scholarship for students with disabilities. By coincidence, Nadia Hionides, the principal of an inclusive, faith-based private school called The Foundation Academy, came calling. Alicia’s school had alerted her that Alicia might benefit from something different.

She did. “Nadia never said no, she never turned her back, she never said I couldn’t do anything,” Alicia said. The non-judgmental atmosphere was key. “Nobody cared that I was a teen mom … nobody cared that I was open with my sexuality,” she said.


Kaitlin Davis “came out” in eighth grade. The bullies pounced. They called her names, bumped her in the halls. Kaitlin wondered if it would ever end. She didn’t fight back because she didn’t want to risk a suspension. She didn’t tell school officials because, “I felt like it was my battle.”

Silence took its toll. “I was depressed,” she said. “I stayed home from school a lot. I would make up things. I was quote unquote sick a lot.”

Kaitlin worried high school could be as bad if not worse, because she and the bullies were zoned for the same school. By coincidence, Kaitlin’s brother had been attending The Foundation Academy with a McKay Scholarship. Her parents knew it was warm and welcoming.

Kaitlin was not eligible for education choice scholarships. Her parents’ income was too high for the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship for lower-income students, and she didn’t have disabilities to qualify for McKay. Today, she would be eligible for two, newer state scholarships: the Family Empowerment Scholarship for working- and middle-class families, and the Hope Scholarship for bullying victims.


Brian and Leah have speech impediments, which at times can make them a little hard to understand. But Brian’s kindergarten teacher, Alicia said, heard a kid who couldn’t learn.

When Brian struggled, the teacher “put him off to the side,” Alicia said, which gave his classmates an opening to pick on him. “Once it started,” Alicia said, “it just never stopped.” On a bus ride home, both Brian and Leah, who defended her brother, ended up with knots on their heads the size of half dollars.

When Alicia complained, she said school officials told her to file a police report. (She refused, given the bullies were 5-year-olds.) When problems with the teacher persisted, she said district officials suggested a transfer. But other district schools either had no openings or other reasons the twins couldn’t be accommodated.

In desperation, Alicia again turned to The Foundation Academy and McKay Scholarships. At the time, she and Kaitlin were living in a neighboring county. But with Brian and Leah in a safe school, the commute – more than an hour each way – was worth it.

Now the twins are in third grade and making steady academic progress. One of their teachers said Brian’s confidence makes him especially smooth at public presentations, and Leah’s makes her a natural leader.

“That school is like a giant family,” Alicia said. And for her and Kaitlin’s family, it has been for two generations now.

It feels, she said, like home.

District Deeds Synopsis:

What a great story about a family that epitomizes the rights of parents to CHOOSE the best possible educational solution for their kids.

Based on the latest SDUSD enrollment statistics, it appears that thousands of SDUSD families are ALSO finding a charter and private school “home” OUTSIDE of the dysfuntional, uncaring and dangerous SDUSD.

As long as the current corrupt and incompetent SDUSD leadership remains, so will the mass exodus of students and highly skilled educatiors and administators into new, HAPPY, educational “homes” away from the Tricky Dick and  ESS Cindy unsuccessful school in every SDUSD neighborhood disaster.

Now for our Quote of the Week:

“Home isn’t where you’re from, it’s where you find light when all grows dark.” ― Pierce Brown

Have a great week!!!



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