"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Friday, September 21, 2012

Teachers Asked to Pay For Marketing Proposition S

For those in St. Louis County, there will be a ballot measure this fall asking for a tax increase for Special School District. Proposition S is seeking a .19 cent/$100K valuation tax increase to pay for SSD services. This would increase the operating levy in St. Louis County to $1.19/$100k and would help SSD continue to provide services to children with autism, maintain competitive salaries and update technology. (See more here)

This week SSD teachers received a letter from Friends of Special Kids asking them to consider donating a day's pay to help promote Proposition S. The letter was signed by SSD Superintendent John Cary although it appeared not to be put out by SSD.  Considering that SSD is the largest employer in St. Louis county with approximately 5,000 employees, a day's pay could really add up.  The salary range of SSD teachers is $40-82K. Depending on how you calculate a day's pay (180 school days, 252 annual work days) that could mean anywhere between $800K to $1.8 million to promote Proposition S.

Teachers are allowed to calculate that amount on their own. If they decide that a day's pay is too much, they can opt to donate $100 over three pay periods. And for their convenience the amount can be directly deducted from their paycheck by SSD.

There's no intimidation having your company's CEO ask you for a "voluntary" contribution through a system that can easily track who has donated and who hasn't. And of course it is somewhat self serving to help your company ask for a raise so such a request puts a lot of pressure on teachers to join in.

But one teacher put it this way, "When I can finally stop collecting data and actually get to teach these kids, that's when I will support a tax increase." The burden of data collection has been heavy on special education for years. One teacher was required to make 6 minute observations on 10 kids during the 45 minutes she had them in the classroom. It was almost impossible to cover the lesson plan and there certainly was no time left for one on one with any of the students. Now general ed teachers are beginning to catch up with the data drive. The result, as this teacher demonstrates, is that there is less and less actual teaching happening in the classroom.

No one wants to deny children a good education. No one especiallywants to limit what is available for kids with special needs. But when such teachers spend all their time collecting data and filling out IEP forms, it kind of makes it hard to vote for more money in that system.


  1. It's as unethical as asking teachers to campaign door-to-door for their district's school board members.

  2. This isn't a big deal. I work for the district and don't feel pressured. Data is the way to go (though I admit, sometimes staff are asked to take data in ways that aren't efficient - there needs to be a balance).

    There have been MANY fund drives endorsed by the superintendent - I've not always contributed and have NEVER been reprimanded, admonished, or denied any privileges as an employee. One of my favorite norms - assume good will. This article does not.

  3. Just wondering. Were the fund drives you have been asked to participate in related to campaign issues, or things like United Way?


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