April 22, 2010 at 09:52 (Education Observations, Outside, Take Aways)
Tags: California, charter schools, education, pink slip, science teacher, substitute teaching
Just when I thought there might be a let up in the humor department of my life, another unexpected event occurs. This past Friday I received a phone call from a principal of a charter school. In and of itself this was funny as I did not apply for any job with a charter school so some one had to know a couple things about me (1) I have a teaching credential (2) I am back in America (3) obtain my new phone number. It turns out that last year when I was subbing, I was appreciated at some school and was referred on to this principal. The amazing part was I subbed at a school for the sub agency which has gone out of its way to be, frankly mean spirited. So, in spite of the sub agency perception, I was valued somewhere.
I was invited in for a cursory interview. I wanted to go if nothing more than to find out why on earth in a state where everyone who had anything to do with education (and quite probably their uncle, dog, the salmon in the river (and so on) were given pink slips on March 15, there was an opening for a science teacher and there must be some one who most likely did apply for the job. Now this was funny, in an interesting sort of way.
So, I did my research – always an essential step for any job. Most people do not realize that as much as an employer is interviewing you, you should in turn be interviewing them! Do you want to work there (always depends on how desperate you are)? I could be a trash person if the pay was right. I found out the founder of this charter school system actually thinks in a similar manner to me, which is to say it is not significant enough to get a student out of high school, the proof in the pudding is when said student obtains a college diploma. All schools are charged with making students ready for college so charter schools have to meet this requirement as well as any other public school, which is to say it is not a cause for celebration of what makes them different. This made me really want to go to the interview.
I went to said interview and was pleasantly surprised. The principal was able to clearly articulate what made this charter school different and what things the principal did. The principal was able to explain how much time they were able to spend in the classroom (partly due to burdensome administrative tasks being done at a corporate office) each week and what their special education teacher was able to accomplish. I met with teachers and students and had the freedom to ask questions (absolutely amazing as most charter schools control this process and literally stage a visit). Not everything was perfect, nor did I expect it to be. Not everything was awful – which did surprise me. This school did not have the rampant staff turnover typical of charter schools. There was not a noticeable ‘behavioral/attitude’ problem with students.
By the end of the visit and interview, I was happy and actually felt encouraged that perhaps some one was able to have a functional charter school model. I was encouraged enough to write a thank you note and hope for a call back. This was something I would not have thought possible after my last official teaching job.
April 22, 2010 at 09:29 (A Member of the 21st Century, Economy and Me, Take Aways, Uncategorized)
Tags: economy, great recession, hourly classification, independent contractor, management classification, statistics, tax laws, unemployment
In recent weeks many businesses/corporations have been taken to task for misclassifying employees in order to find loopholes in taxation. On one hand I commend these CFO’s for creativity and I commend the various peoples who work for these companies in order to put food on the table and a roof over their head. What I worry about is the peril with which so many people work under a status that is not only deceptive for taxation, but even more malicious for unemployment.
Corporations pay into the state and federal pool of unemployment taxes. This fund was made to help people when times are rough and tough (2007-?) and assist them until such time they can find reasonable employment where they can afford food and rent and quite possibly squeeze in some health insurance. Independent contractors, while paying tons in taxes with few write offs, have to also save up for their own rainy day fund as unemployment is not available for them in between ‘gigs’, which, as a sometimes independent contractor myself, has been more often than not lately.
Most people do not understand that not only do corporations get a tax boost by misclassifying employees, they get a boost in not having to pay out on unemployment. The problem is that while taxes may affect the corporate bottom line and its investors, independent contractors who lose out end up effecting everyone when they can not pay bills. There is no back up plan/plan B/safety net and this is bad for everyone. Unfortunately, most people did not realize the problem until it was too late – until they were let go from their independent contractor status.
Not only does independent contractor status do everything mentioned above, imagine what it does to the unemployment statistics……so, while the corporate bigs were having their day on the backs of other, we were all hoping the economy would reach bottom. I personally think we have not reached bottom merely because there are so many unknowns falling around us and no one knows how to get out of the way or build a net.
April 22, 2010 at 09:14 (Economy and Me, Education Observations)
Tags: economics, Harvard, incentives, Pavlov, Roland Fryer Jr., standardized testing
Economists have a vested interest in a successful and educated population as well as a creative and innovative workforce, which is why Harvard Economist Roland Fryer Jr. is researching incentivisation. Incentivisation is the effect of paying some one to learn at the K-12 school level. Fryer, who was one of Time Magazines Influential People in 2009, has been working within multiple school districts across the United States to evaluate the efficacy of money in educational motivation.
As part of the ever improving and changing terrain in education, what works does not always grow and bloom as expected. Incentivizing (‘pay’ in the broad sense for grades or scores) students is nothing new and in fact relies heavily upon operant conditioning. Operant conditioning is way of learning that enforces good behavior with rewards and discourages bad behavior through punishment. Nothing new under the Pavlovian sun has yet made grasslands into forest. It appears society is running up against the dual ‘seed’ concepts of motivation and locus of control, both of which seem to have genetic and environmental contributions and make the classroom/workplace blossom with creativity and innovation. Both locus of control and motivation have far reaching impacts beyond the classroom so the research is incredibly important to follow.
What is most interesting is how incentivization plays out and how the potential to manipulate this curious force of mind over matter can make classrooms better.
To date, the research (what research? Fryer’s research) indicates that younger children can be tempted with pay for reading and easily weaned off of this simple incentive. As children age up, the incentive of money seems to be less reliable and more addictive in order for the individual to have follow through. The most interesting part of the research (what research?) is that standardized test scores can improve for older children. However, it is only standardized test scores that seem to benefit. The issue at hand is whether or not incentives lead to life long learning, creativity or personal satisfaction – all which would require more substantial longitudinal studies.
It seems the human animal continues to be motivated by food, sex and power (which can be in the form of wealth) although none of these consistently and reliably lead to anything more than getting the dog to the kibble bowl and making it eat.
I commend Mr. Fryer for pursuing research to evaluate what would make education work better although it seems in contradiction with what we really want to know – how do we make people learn better? Internal locus of control seems to be the defining factor both for success through determination (self efficacy) and the willingness, not the inherent ability, to learn. How do we as a culture support empowerment, which is a belief of control of oneself and ones immediate environment and is in conflict with the concept of corruption? While locus of control may correlate to money, I think it wise to pursue the economics of self confidence and habituating a life of joy in learning for its own self worth.
April 16, 2010 at 04:11 (Economy and Me, Take Aways)
Tags: Abel Maldonado, administrative judge, Alan S. Lowenthal, Alex Padilla, Anthony Garcia, Bob Huff, C. Stanley Snead, CA State Senators, California, California Unemployment debacle, Carol Liu, Chopper, Christine Kehoe, Crystal Ordonez, Curren Price, Cynthia Limas, Darrell Steinberg, Dave Cogdill, Dave Cox, Dean Florez, debt, Denise Moreno Ducheny, Dennis Hollingsworth, EDD, Ellen Corbett, fax, Federal Treasury Report, Fran Pavley, GAO, George Runner, Gilbert Cedillo, Gloria Negrete McLeod, Gloria Romero, incompetence, independent contractor, Jeff Denham, Jenny Oropeza, Joe Simitian, Juan Garcia, Kevin Freking, Leland Yee, Lois Wolk, Loni Hancock, Lou Correa, Mark DeSaulnier, Mark Leno, Mark Wyland, Mike Parker, Mimi Walters, Office Max, Patricia Wiggins, Pico Rivera, pink slips, rent, Robert D. Dutton, Roderick Wright, Ron Calderon, Roy Ashburn, Sandra Jaimez, Sandre Swanson, tattoo, teacher, The San Francisco Chronicle, Tom Harman, Tony Strickland, unemploymnet
Since I never tire of good humor and believe EVERYONE is entitled to a good laugh, I am continuing on with my ‘new’ 2010 unemployment saga. To be deprived of what I received in the mail today would be bad form and prevent all of you from laughing with me.
Here is a brief recap to get you up to why today is hilarious: I was a substitute teacher in 2009 until June 15. I gave notice as the agency I worked for could not provide summer work (there is no summer school or need for subs in CA during the summer). I continued looking for work – anything to pay my bills. Back in May 2009 I received a contract from Maria Soti Girls Education Centre to be a consulting principal. I signed it and accepted it and the job was to begin 6 August 2009. In my mind I believed I could work up until I left the country if I could find a job. There is no shame in doing odd jobs, so I continued the search. Sadly, at the height of the meltdown in unemployment I had a couple things going against me – I have a MA degree and teaching credential, both completely useless when pink slips had been handed out in March 2009 like chocolate on Valentines Day. I was ‘overqualified’ for just about any job you can think of, and trust me, there were many I applied for and submitted on the back of each unemployment form even though there was not an X in the box requesting I do so.
Fast forward and I filled out paperwork for my father in Des Moines to be my power of attorney when I left the country and sent the paperwork to EDD as I wanted them to be able to find me. I worked (okay, I attempted to work but corruption literally and figuratively prevailed in spite of my best efforts). I found my personal safety in danger. I consulted with friends and family (I did not go to U.S. Embassy as everyone in Kenya hates Ambassador Rannenberger since Obama was elected and the U.S. has higher levels of accountability for Kenya) about what to do on the personal safety front and the corruption front. I declined to sign on an un-audited school bank account. I paid my own money for school repairs, etc. Ultimately, it was too unsafe and I believed that since I knew what was going on in the way of corruption at the school, if I could not intercede, I became culpable as well, not something I would ever desire to be party to. I resigned my position and came home. I applied for unemployment as when I left I had $5,000 banked benefits I had never used.
Forward to today: I contested the denial of unemployment from the sub agency I had worked for who retroactively (almost one year later) declined the claim on grounds I took a job that would pay less or be less unreliable. I had so hoped they would have shared this knowledge with me when I signed the contract for Kenya but I guess back in May they were not feeling the Nostradamus Effect so strongly because no one was asking them to pay unemployment insurance.
It was my right to contest the denial of benefits and I did. I filled out every form, responded in a timely manner, provided all documentation of above and even stated it seemed unfair for EDD to hold me accountable to a higher standard of proving unemployment when no teacher could find a job in the summer of 2009 and the sub agency barely could provide me with half time work at exceedingly low rates of pay, plus, I legitimately went to the ends of the earth (literally – 50 Km from the equator) to take a job I had expected to go for 3-5 years as I had previously been a Peace Corps Volunteer on the continent and wanted to go back and not for ‘vacation’.
On April 7, 2010 EDD sent a letter stating I was indeed entitled to unemployment. I filled out all the paperwork they sent and submitted it. I have waited for the unemployment checks. I am working as an independent contractor and was recently offered to work temporarily for the U.S. Government as a Census Bureau Enumerator to start on April 27th.
Today I received multiple envelopes from unemployment stating they could not pay me as I have contested the claim…….
Well, of course I did and then they realized indeed I was entitled to unemployment. Instead of paying me, EDD decided they would hold on to the paltry less than $1,000 and make me go to an administrative judge who will look at letter of April 7, 2010 and tell them to pay me. While I am not an economist, I do know that the interest on $1,000 for even three months is less than the cost of the paperwork, time, postage, etc. to go to the administrative judge so CA taxpayers are actually paying MORE for my unemployment claim then they should even have to. Although I should feel guilty, I am a CA taxpayer and will pay out the wazoo for my independent contractor status and NOT BE ENTITLED TO UNEMPLOYMENT for anything earned as an independent contractor.
This is how I keep laughing as I really, truly want to cry and just pay rent.
I thought about writing my CA State Senators but figured they have enough on their plate so I just put a tag to their name with this blog – obviously I am one of many going through this ridiculousness and maybe they want to evaluate it as they think about the State of CA budget. If you think this story is as funny as I do, write your Senator – get something for your tax dollars!
Update to most recent question asking EDD about my check:
Thank you for submitting your information to the Employment Development Department on 4/15/2010 at 1:35 PM.
Unemployment Insurance Benefits
Do NOT respond to this message through email. If you need additional information or assistance regarding this matter, contact us through the Ask EDD Web site. Be sure to select the same category and include your Reference Number: 2984181.
Checks – Where is my check?
You wrote us the following:
While I continue to appreciate EDD using humor to delay paying me unemployment, I don’t think the administrative judge will find wasting the taxpayers dollars quite as funny. On 4/7/2010 your office sent me a letter stating I was awarded unemployment insurance in the amount of xxx/week. This claim was what I have been stating since January when EDD kept on denying the claim. Once the claim stopped being denied, I no longer need to see the administrative judge as I have been granted unemployment benefits – which is what I have been asking for and was contesting the denial of in all the paperwork I kept receiving and promptly replied to. I filled out all paper work and responded with documentation. I am now unclear why I would still need to see an administrative judge at even more cost to the taxpayers of CA when you already told me in a letter I now am ENTITLED to unemployment insurance. What might I do to encourage EDD to send the money owed to me and avoid going to an administrative judge. While it seems to save CA money by delaying payment to me in this circuitous paper trail, it is costly both to me and the judge to have to read papers of which the judge will surely say,’You gave her the letter stating she is entitled to unemployment insurance, please pay her.’ Please let me know what would be the best way to help EDD get its paperwork in order. I would hate to have an administrative judge laughing with me at incompetence.
Here is our reply:
The EDD has scheduled you to a telephone interview to resolve an issue of eligibility. Interviews are conducted by phone within the timeframe and date stated on the Telephone Interview Notification and Instruction notice DE4800/Z/mailed to you. Should the interviewer call and find you not available, the decision regarding your eligibility will be based on the information available to the Department. The Caller ID will display as “PRIVATE,” so please be sure to answer your telephone during the specified time. You may be asked to call 1-800-300-5616, or an alternate phone number may be left by the interviewer. The EDD interviewers have 10 days after the telephone interview to determine your eligibility. All checks/benefits will be delayed until a Determination decision has been made by the Department. A Notice of Determination (DE 1080) may be mailed to you when that decision is reached. Appeals may be filed within twenty (20) days of the issuance date if you are not satisfied with the decision. If the department finds you eligible, benefit payments will be processed for all certified eligible weeks. Please allow 7-10 days for mailing benefit checks.
Your Reference Number is 2984181.
Today I forwarded all of this to Mr. Swandre Swanson, Assembly member for District 16. This afternoon I spoke with Mr. Mickey Jones. I am going to Mr. Swanson’s office to sign a release of information so that he can review my file with EDD. In addition, I will bring all my copies of paperwork.
According to Crystal Ordonez at EDD who called me on the morning of 23 April 2010, the letter EDD sent was not a real letter, rather it was a letter of potential but they send potential letters to everyone. Yes, I can go to an administrative judge hearing but no one has a clue when that will be as they are backed up at least 3 months.
Update: Our taxpayer dollars were used to confirm I acted in accordance with what a reasonable person would do. The administrative judge awarded me my unemployment payments and stated I do not owe EDD anything. There is a 20 day wait though as the other side can determine it would like to appeal and I suppose they will.
Further update 3 November 2010: During the month of August 2010 I took a job which I thought was going to allow me to do something I love – teach science as a ‘kitchen’ cooking project. Unfortunately (it only took six weeks to figure this out in spite of desperately wanting to make it work) the business which hired me had little to no understanding of (1) science (2) professional issues surrounding the teaching of science, such as sanitation and safety. After being asked to make cupcake batter (with eggs in the post salmonella scare CA) in a room that had not been adequately cleaned in five days due to ‘running out of cleaning and sanitizing supplies’ with children and then letting batter sit in refrigerator (to my knowledge not sanitized with bleach after having set idle for the summer) for five days before it could be baked (organization was not clear on concept at all of the point of experiment – how does baking powder make cupcakes ‘rise’) was more than I was willing to take on with my teaching credential. In fact, it was definitely more than I was willing to take on as I was studying for my pharmacy technician course work and if I could not identify sanitation in the classroom setting, I would have one hell of a time explaining it in a pharmacy where compounding and sterile processes were used. So, I resigned. In my mind, I had not ‘earned’ enough in unemployment to apply for it and my ‘punishment’ was to find another job and get it together. Alas, unemployment contacted me……with a letter for an interview. Which I participated in for 45 minutes on 26 October 2010. Ultimately Ms. Solomon, who contacted me, asked for faxed copies of the e-mails which substantiate what I was saying (all the while being agasp at the story as her son attends an after school care program which does ‘cooking’). Ms. Solomon stated she needed to make a decision and so I could not snail mail the paper work. I spent $20 to fax the paperwork from the local Office Max and wouldn’t you know it, have heard nothing from EDD by e-mail, phone or snail mail. I sent a message to EDD (#3682882) two days ago asking for some follow up……after all , they contacted me – I had not applied for unemployment. As of this writing, no response. I am unsure the $20 fax was of value to me, EDD or will even help me get another job nor help me spot stupidity in an employer faster…….
Update: 24 November 2010 – After manually filling out the paperwork for unemployment again (per e-mail from unemployment) as I was told in writing, by unemployment I can collect,
since “I did not attempt to defraud unemployment” ( impressive they understood this concept considering I neither contacted them initially nor even thought I was entitled due to not ‘banking’ enough from last job and I resigned – never a way to collect unemployment),
I then recieved the forms to fill out as if the ‘claim’ had never closed…..which is ridiculous since they had just told me to fill out new forms and I needed to fill out a federal form since I had worked for the U.S. Census Bureau over the summer.
By now EDD has used at least two trees – just on me. Why??? I have not a clue but surely being disorganized and not streamlined keeps a great deal of my fellow Californian’s employed.
Hearing for the most recent craziness of November 3, 2010 is on 2/28/11 with Judge C. Stanley Snead
Outcome: Employer ‘magically’ filed paperwork on 25 of March indicating they never meant to appeal my collecting unemployment. Administrative judge worked to contact them and give them benefit of doubt they might show up – they did not so appeal was found in my favor. Cost to me – $0 as I had to be in the general neighborhood for an interview at 1:00 PM; COST TO TAXPAYERS (you and me) – huge, all the paperwork, court time, judge time, etc. Makes one wonder what is with employers and why EDD does not fine the employer for misuse of court system. Why should our tax dollars go to support stupidity in HR?
And further proof the universe understands and was in full force: After the court hearing I walked about 1/2 mile to the local health foods market and ate lunch. Afterwards, I was walking around inside and bumped into some one I recognized but could not remember from where….It was some one who was hired after me and just left the employer (of which I was in the appeals court today). Why did this other person leave? Same reason(s) as me, essentially the longer we had an affiliation with this crazy employer, the more likely we were to damage our own reputation so we had to cut our losses AND employer was funded by our tax dollars..
And an update on 2/19/11
And an update on 3/3/2012