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Oakville Teacher to Rich Franz: ‘I Don't Know Anyone Who Only Teaches the Basic Curriculum’

Letter to the editor submitted by Ed Taylor, Oakville High School teacher.

I just read .  More than once he said "teach the basic curriculum."  I don't know anyone who only teaches "the basic curriculum" which is a big reason students in our district do so well.  The teachers regularly go above and beyond "the basic curriculum."

But I like Rich's idea. I could get used to working the clock, nothing outside my scheduled hours—including coaching, which, let's face it, is far below minimum wage (did you know that, Rich?)—and not doing work at home, during the summer, while on vacation (how many of us actively seek information and resources we can use in class while on vacation?  To enhance "the basic curriculum.")

Maybe if all the teachers just taught "the basic curriculum" and did not sponsor or coach outside activities and only worked the clock Rich and his followers would finally get what they pay for.  Teachers, what do you think?

Nah, we won't.  We couldn't live with ourselves.

Ed Taylor

*Added July 3: See a video of the meeting; Franz's speech at 16 minutes.

Karl Frank Jr. June 25, 2012 at 01:40 PM
Well said Ed. Sometimes I wish the teachers really would follow through on the threat to work to their contract just so the community could finally get it. I will never forget the day I called my son's kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Garland at 11:30 PM on a Friday night to leave a message for her when she got in on Monday. Imagine my surprise when she answered the phone. "Shirley?" "Yes?" (Me laughing in astonishment.). "What are you doing there?) "Just getting ready for next week." Her commitment and dedication to the students are second to none...as is yours Ed, especially with the debate students.
Franchesca June 25, 2012 at 01:46 PM
Ed, I think you're completely right. Another thing this doesn't address is HOW you teach the "basic curriculum". All the professional devlopment in the world isn't going to do anyone any good if they can't impliment some of those strategies in their classrooms. Those strategies, especially the ones requiring anything but straight lecture, require materials so the students can be more hands on. Hands on learning and cooperative learning are exactly the reas ons Mehlville students do so well. Having said that, I do think that teachers really should be keeping track of receipts. Write them in your lesson plans. Lessons must coordinate with state objectives and district curriculum anyway. I think Mr. Franz needs to see those receipts to really understand. Even if you never do get reiumbursed, maybe it will make an impact and show him what that added value looks like. Thanks for all you do.
Gail June 25, 2012 at 03:23 PM
The taxpayers pay your salary. I think it is good that we have people like Mr. Franz to look out for where our dollars are going. All he did was ask for receipts. Any company would expect that! Plus, many jobs you are expected to spend some of your own money for (i.e. uniforms, supplies such as pens, etc.). I think the parents of the kids in Mehlville school district should help pay for the school supplies or book fees if needed. They already are sending their kids totally free even with free transportation.
Mike Baker June 25, 2012 at 03:43 PM
Gail: Your beloved Mr. Franz needs to do his research prior to opening his mouth and inserting his foot. He states that the district gives the teachers the basic tools and resources to do their job. My wife has taught in Mehlville for 21 years, and has never asked to be reimbursed for what she buys. Any reimbursements are approved at the school level by the principal and that is not very often due to each individual school looking out for how the funds are being spent, NOT Mr. Franz. She did not get in to teaching to "strike it rich", or to "have her summers off". She got in to this profession because of her love to shape the minds of the kids she teaches in 2nd grade. She purchases items to "enhance" the basic cirriculum that your beloved Mr. Franz is supplying. She also buys markers/folders/glue sticks for those children who "forget" or do not have the funds to purchase. I am sick and tired of people like you stating that the "taxpayers" pay your salary...Enough...Do you realize that your beloved Mr. Franz voted to give teachers their step and channel change raises this year and next?? Yes, he is spending your money on the teachers! By the way, not all of the teachers will benefit from that generous outpouring of support by the board. My wife will not see any additional funds in her check for the next 4 years. So as medical costs increase, her check will actually decrease...Bottom line, do your research...
Tom Diehl June 25, 2012 at 04:05 PM
No, Mr. Franz asked for receipts for unreimbursed expenses; basically calling educators liars. Many studies have shown that teachers spend an average of $2,000+ per year on supplies out of their own pocket. Unless Mr. Franz is going to reimburse the teachers, he needs to keep quiet. As for parents buying supplies, they do. Book fees??? Come on. Public education is supposed to be a free education (check your Missouri Constitution and U.S. history). Yet, parents are nickeled and dimed by districts because state, federal and local funding has not kept up with inflation. Missouri ranks 47th in per pupil expenditures on education, and only 11 (out of 522 districts) spend less than Mehlville. Amazingly, the Mehlville School District has the 6th highest graduation rate in the St. Louis area, ranking ahead of "elite" districts like Lindbergh, Rockwood and Webster Groves. We get those results because our teachers and staff don't just teach the basic curriculum and they do invest their time and money to provide our kids with the lesson plans and resources needed to do the job right. It's time for people in South County to stop parroting the tired old political cliches and stereotypes about teachers and public education and look at the facts. You won't find a better return for your tax dollar than what you get from the Mehlville School District.
Ed Taylor June 25, 2012 at 04:05 PM
@Gail -- re "free" -- that's the concept of public education, and was begun to ensure all children, not just those of the well-to-do, would receive a good education. The belief that our society is better when we have an educated populace. Well, that's the theory, anyway. re "taxpayers pay your salary" -- when you consider the federal tax breaks and supports that go to banks and big oil, I guess we could say the same for their officers who get major checks and bonuses, but -- Did you see the section on happy employees and "best companies" in the Sunday Post-Dispatch? <sigh> In the corporate world, when you do a good job, you get a bonus, maybe a promotion, and maybe a free trip (like my brother-in-law got, w/ my sister, to Hawaii) -- in education, when you do a good job, they give you more responsibilities. But most people who have never taught don't realize that. Finally, no, you are wrong when you say "all he did was ask for receipts." If that was all he had done I'm sure many people would gladly have copied receipts and sent them to him. But this is what he said: "And this constant harping on this alleged idea that teachers have to take money out of their own pockets just to do their job and teach the basic curriculum I think is a lie that’s perpetrated on the taxpayers and I think it’s time that the taxpayers be treated to the truth and I think it’s time that the teachers either put up or shut up." Vitriolic. Thanks, Rich.
Michael Kanevsky June 25, 2012 at 04:48 PM
Funny thing, even the IRS has acknowledged that teachers spend their own money on supplies by giving teachers a $250 credit on their taxes. While this isn't much, nor is it equal to what most teachers spend, it is there and has been there for years, so to say that this is some lie must mean that it's on a national level. Also, funny timing for Mr. Franz's comments---during the break when teachers are not in school and many might not be able to respond. Mr. Franz--how about you man up and say those comments directly to a teacher's face, and then try to tell them that you appreciate the job they are doing to help better your community by producing quality graduates. It's no coincidence that Clayton is the wealthiest school district in Missouri. It's not because of the people who live there, but instead because of the businesses who go there knowing that Clayton graduates are top notch. Mr. Franz, tell those same businesses that all you want for Mehlville is a basic curriculum. Hopefully this guy is not re-elected when his term is up
Felicia June 25, 2012 at 05:37 PM
My husband and I lived in the district 14 years, and our children have been in the district 2 years. We always voted for every tax issue on the ballot regarding education. Someone has to, when there are so many retirees whose desire to not spend any more on property taxes supersedes any care they have for the district and quality education. Many studies show that without funding, it's only a matter of time before education quality suffers, and then crime goes up and property values go down. What Gail said about public education being "free" is wrong. We have to spend quite a bit on school supplies, which we are asked to replenish off and on throughout the year. Starting the first week of school, we are inundated weekly with various fundraisers to help with improvements to the school, and various educational aids to help the kids. We are always paying out money for something. Also, our kids go to a school in the district that has 60% of the kids on reduced or free lunches. Some of those parents have a hard time affording proper school supplies. I think many of the teachers have bought these kids school supplies out of pocket, not expecting reimbursement. I wish my tax money could just go to the schools, the teachers and the principals, and not to the upper administration and school board. I am tired of teachers being vilified when they are doing their best and are already underpaid. This voter will be paying more attention to what the school board says and does in the future.
Cici June 28, 2012 at 10:35 PM
As of January 1, 2012, teachers may no longer deduct any money they spend on their classes. Guess Congress needs to balance the budget. However, Gail, those who need to purchase uniforms for employment are able to deduct those expenses. And purchase pens...come on!
Ruth H. July 03, 2012 at 08:57 PM
Felicia, it appears that these meetings are now being uploaded to schooltube.com. More voters need to pay attention. How did this disrespectful windbag ever get elected? When does his term expire? Can he be removed by special election?
Ruth H. July 03, 2012 at 09:05 PM
Cici, thank you for that information on tax change. Mr. Franz doesn't do his homework before opening his big mouth.

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