The letter below is an example of the dogmatic (almost religious) fervor people feel toward public education. Since it is long, I posted the exchange in a "conversation" format. The parent's text is in red, mine in black. (all italics & bolds are mine)
The letter was written to the PalTax site. They forwarded it to me. PalTax may have their own response, but some one needs to explore the psychological issues raised here.
K wrote: (to the Paltax site)
I have just read your website for the first time and am feeling nauseous. Not because of the numbers you think should sicken me, but because of the palpable level of hatred you have toward some of the very best people in our community, our teachers and school administrators.
My name is Bruno Behrend, and I'm familiar with the PalTax site and some of the issues. I truly wonder at what it takes to "sicken" people these days. The notion that a group of people arguing against a tax increase creates this reaction says more about you than it does about them.
Regardless, this response, and this blog might give you an aneurysm. Please be careful.
Since I have no direct ties (plenty of friends, but no kids, in District 211), I have no problem providing you with my name and contact information. You can feel free to debate me anywhere in your district in any open forum.
[As an aside, does it "sicken" you that people on your side of the referendum issue have created such a climate of fear (of overreaction, reprisals against kids & vandalism) that regular everyday people are afraid to speak against this unnecessary tax increase?]
I received your e-mail (forwarded by Paltax), and thought it such a perfect example of the dogmatic religious zealotry that underpins our education system that it was worth responding to (and posting to my blog).
I don't think any of my arguments will persuade you, but by exposing this conversation to the light of day, other parents might be prevented from following your path into extremism. With that in mind, I thought I'd respond to your email point-by-point. You may consider it an attempt at "deprogramming."
First, take a chill pill, Kim. How dare you accuse some one of "hatred" when they simply don't worship at the alter of education spending (as you appear too). What kind of a person makes such accusations absent any knowledge of the person? Ask your inner Oprah...Is such a vitriolic attack against a regular everyday taxpayer warranted? WWOprahD?
Your anominity smacks of a level of cowardice found in the lowest levels of hate groups.
You persist with even more hateful rhetoric.
Your vitriol highlights perfectly people's unwillingness to openly attack the spending culture. One of my goals with this blog and my radio show is to give people public support and cover, so that they are more comfortable coming forward.
It is your reaction that makes them think twice. As some one who has witnessed (and been subject to) the personal attacks of "pro-tax" teachers, administrators, and uninformed local PTO sycophants, I can certainly understand other's reluctance to come forward.
Reading some of your links opened my eyes to a world hatred I didn't know existed. If you're someone I know from sports or other work in the community, then I'm even more sickened. I have been involved with both Districts 15 and 211 for years through PTA and other board work and am informed on the inner workings of both districts.
Hatred, hatred, hatred. One of the most enduring psychological truths is that people often "project" their own impulses & traits on to others rather than confront it in themselves.
The following is a collection of definitions of projection from orthodox psychology texts. In this system the distinct mechanism of projecting own unconscious or undesirable characteristics onto an opponent is called Freudian Projection.
* "A defense mechanism in which the individual attributes to other people impulses and traits that they themselves have but cannot accept. It is especially likely to occur when the person lacks insight into his own impulses and traits."
* "Attributing one's own undesirable traits to other people or agencies, e.g., an aggressive man accuses other people of being hostile."
Sound familiar? Every one reading this gets it, K.
I know the people you take pleasure in smearing - - they've helped my own children become their very best selves. Some of them are friends, some are parents of my children's friends. They're all quality people who are upfront and open about what they're doing. They aren't hiding behind computer screens, shooting out anonymous daggers.
I don't see any smearing going on at the PalTax site.
I only see the presentation of a point of view - complete with facts (not feelings) that argue against tax increases. You have done more smearing in 10 lines than anything on the PalTax site. I've heard all the arguments about the quality of education in (211, 87, 15, 135, etc. etc.) The arguments are all copied line-for-line out of the same consultant's book. (https://www.glen-ellyn.com/winning/).
I'm glad that you are satisfied with Palatine's schools. I've read quite a bit about schools (nationally & locally), and I remain convinced that there is next to no link between spending and results. I suppose that makes me a "hate-monger" in your eyes. I'll let others decide who has the "problem." Facts are stubborn things, and feelings are anyone's guess.
Given the quality of the education he's received and where he's going to college, I consider the education my Fremd senior has received to be a bargain. The fact that he's going to an Ivy League school and wants to be a teacher, speaks volumes for the staff in both districts. His grades and test scores tell us that he could do anything he wants, yet he wants to be a teacher because of the impact his teachers have had on him. How do you explain the intangible results of top-quality, dedicated educators?
"Intangible results" are the last refuge of the "Spending Lobby". Given that the "tangible results" are so mediocre, it is no surprise that many argue "intangibles." Congrats to you your son. He will be attending the Ivy league with some kids from poorer districts, some who are homeschooled and others who went to private schools. Some got there with out the $8-10-12,000/yr price tag.
Curb your dogma.
I have several other questions for you:
1. How do you reconcile your opinions about spending tax dollars with your support of a president who has us $500 billiion in debt, with no sign of stopping his own disregard for the average American taxpayer? I have to assume you are a Republican. Where are the links on your website that would show us just how much tax cuts for the rich and defense spending are costing the average local taxpayer? The federal deficit is infiinitely more detrimental to our futures and our children's futures than a small increase to maintain the quality of our local schools.
I looked through much of the Paltax site, and found no reference to Bush, Republicans, or the Federal government. If you look at my sites, you will find that ** I ** am generally supportive of Bush's programs. If you care to debate me on ANY one of those topics, pick the open forum and I'll be there.
Since I didn't see any reference to such topics on PalTax, I think you are ASSuming too much. Hundreds of Democrat voters will vote against the 211 tax grab because it is pricing them out of their homes. This is far more detrimental to these people than anything going on in DC. Your attempt to drag Bush into this is an indicator of the weakness of your case.
2. Why do you neglect to mention that the reason many administrators' salaries have increased so quickly in District 15 is that they've moved from 10-month to 12-month positions? A number of the people listed worked as building assistants in the first year of your chart and have moved up the ranks to become principals and/or district directors, picking up advanced degrees along the way? In the "corporate world", getting a promotion means getting a raise and the higher the promotion, the higher the raise.
When a person goes for his MBA, he generally does it with the intent of moving up and getting more pay. When an educator earns an administrative degree or a
doctorate, he also does it with the intent of moving up and getting more pay. I don't think you are really presenting the facts when you leave out the changes in degrees and positions in your 5-year chart. The few people who just stayed steady in their principal jobs over the 5-year period did not see huge salary increases.
[Readers please note that it took 20 or 30 lines of text before Kim raised any substantive points. All issues prior to this were only personal attack, feelings, & vitriolic detritus.]
A brief review by any non-ideological person would lead them to the obvious conclusion. Administration is a feather bedded cesspool. Cut the salaries and cut the number of positions. Civilization (and Palatine) will survive.
Your point is interesting, by completely ignores the fact that administrators operate in a completely protected and closed market, immune from competition. It is the same with teachers. I've met many great teachers and many bad ones (in various districts). Your average MBA could outperform 70-80% of them if there was an open market.
The education establishment is a political - not educational - institution. It has co-opted administration, teachers, and PTOs, all of which promote spending absent the slightest hint of accountability.
Charlene K. Haar made what she thought was a routine request to the National PTA, the reaction she received was so surprising it piqued the former public school teacher's curiosity to learn more about the century-old Parent-Teacher Association. Instead of a parent organization dedicated to the enhancement of the nation's schools, Haar discovered a group dominated by teacher unions and little attuned to the interests of parents and their children.
You (K) are very adept at parroting what you've been told. That doesn't change the fact that American Civilization will survive if some of these folks take a pay cut or are sent home.
You see, the USA has produced a more educated populace with less money in the past. The facts prove that. You have been well-trained to support the "spending lobby," but we don't have to jump through the same hoops.
3. Where are your facts in regard to the extra duties, coaching and otherwise, in the District 211 salaries? Have you figured out how much a coach makes per hour? Given the performance level of the teams in District 211, where is your analysis of what a value we're getting for our coaching dollar? How do you think the coaching salaries of Bruce Weber and his brother Dave compare? (Dave being the coach of the state-championship Glenbrook North basketball team.) Granted, Bruce is getting more national attention, but which job really is more valuable? Teaching high school students or grooming future NBA players?
Spare me the violins about coaching & extra duties. If they can bargain for such pay, fine. Taxpayers have the right to disagree.
To solve District 211's problem, all the teachers and administrators have to do is take a 9% pay cut, and everyone can keep their job and the kids can keep their activities. Let's ask them to do it 'for the children' and take note of their response. Even this size of a pay cut could be avoided if the morally corrupt "Early Retirement Option" is scrapped.
4. Why do you hate schools and teachers so much? It isn't as if the individual teachers are just helping themselves to your wallet. [Actually Kim, that is exactly what it is.] The school board sets the salary schedules. If you aren't happy with the schools, I don't know why you'd live here. Absent the schools, Palatine just isn't that great. Did you know that school board members themselves aren't paid?
Do you hear how co-opted, childish, and petulant you sound? If they don't agree with you, they should leave their homes!? If it weren't for the schools, Palatine "isn't that great?!" Good Golly! Look into your own soul to see the hatred seething from yourself!
I thank you for exposing the complete lack of reason in your arguments. None of us hates 'teachers' or 'schools'. We just know that money vacuumed up by a bloated payroll isn't "for the children."
5. What is your salary? To be fair, you should post it, going back five years, so we have truly balanced information. I know I am not alone in the community in wanting our teachers and administrators to be well-paid. We like them and we like what they do. Having successful children is one of our highest priorities and one we're willing to pay for.
What a wonderful abdication of responsibility. Now "successful children" are a function of the compensation levels in a protected bureaucracy, and not good parenting.
By all means, have the schools and the culture "socialize" your children so that you have the time to attack people who disagree with you.
For my part, the day the compensation levels of a protected monopoly are the controlling factor in my child's life is the day that I'm an utter & complete failure.
If every school in the country collapsed tomorrow, my child (a 15 year-old boy) would still become an educated citizen. It is MY responsibility, and it is one I won't abdicate to an overstaffed and feather bedded "system."
6. What do you hope to accomplish with the level of animosity you're trying to breed toward the schools? Do you really think they'll improve because of your efforts? Do you really think your children's educations will improve? Do you really think you'll make a positive impact on the atmosphere in the schools? Is there anything more important to you than your own money? Do you think that trying to hurt individual teachers and creating a feeling of mistrust toward parents in general will help our students?
In spite of all your vitriol, passion, and fervor, I ask you to question yourself to the same degree you question others. Is educational attainment really a function of spending?
There is a very direct answer. Spending on a per pupil level (inflation adjusted!) has increased dramatically over that last few decades, yet America's performance has fallen off a cliff. An American 55 year old is at the top of the world, yet the 16-24 age bracket has fallen behind even some developing countries.
Crow all you want about your son, but he may come out of the Ivy league unable to compete with 1.2 billion Indians and 1.3 billion Chinese.
American parents will soon be able to buy content & knowledge on-line, and the brick & mortar school may be a thing of the past. Mao (hardly a Republican) wrote: "When the winds of change are blowing, some people build wind breaks and others build wind mills."
I can't speak for Pal Tax, but I view the current school system is unable able to keep pace with the "winds of change" and all the money in the world won't fix a system that is designed to spend instead of educate.
If you can see past your harsh rhetoric, I ask you to question the system you are supporting. Funding a bureaucracy isn't the same as supporting an "educated populace."
I look forward to the day your son can find some investors, open a school, and choose the methods by which he can empower a new generation of children. It would be a sad waste of human potential if he felt forced to "educate" inside the current ossified system.
In closing, I'm available for debate, Any issue, Any forum, Any time.