Thursday, January 29, 2009
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
From the Los Angeles Times
L.A. teachers' union calls for boycott of testing
Axing 'periodic assessments' would save money, UTLA says. But district leaders want teachers to give the exams, which a Times analysis suggests are boosting scores in algebra and English.
By Howard Blume
January 28, 2009
The Los Angeles teachers union and the city's school district are battling over a district practice that, a Times' analysis suggests, contributes to higher scores on state tests.
The practice is "periodic assessments," a bureaucratic name for exams administered by the Los Angeles Unified School District. The goal is to give teachers insight into what students need to learn while there remains time in the current school year to adjust instruction.The union Tuesday directed teachers to refuse to give them to students on the grounds that the tests are costly and counterproductive.
But there could be a downside.
The local exams, given three or four times a year at secondary schools, appear to be boosting state scores in 10th-grade English and Algebra 1 -- the two subjects examined by The Times -- and therefore perhaps other subjects as well.
The district tests, which have gradually permeated most core academic subjects and most grade levels, have become central to a debate over the proliferation of testing, whether it interrupts instruction and can narrow the depth and breadth of what's taught. The philosophical dispute sharpened this week amid protracted, stalled negotiations over a teachers contract and the need to slash millions to address an ongoing budget crisis.
Axing these district assessments would spare jobs by saving millions of dollars -- and would improve instruction at the same time, said A.J. Duffy, president of United Teachers Los Angeles.
The union's call for a boycott of the tests has emerged as an early trial for new Supt. Ramon C. Cortines, who took over Jan. 1.
Cortines asserted that the assessments are part of teachers' assigned duties -- they are not optional. He also said he has and will amend aspects of the tests that need fixing. But he won't toss them out because, he said, they have contributed strongly to rising performance on the state's own annual tests.
He may be right, based on a Times' analysis of last year's improved state test scores in 10th-grade English and Algebra 1.
The Times found that greater participation in the district assessments was associated with better scores. In 10th-grade English, the correlation was fairly strong, accounting for nearly half the improvement.
The link was more moderate in Algebra 1, explaining about one-third of the gains for high school students in that subject.
The Times looked at these two subjects in part because the data were available -- it isn't for all subjects -- and also because of importance of these courses. Algebra 1, for example, is considered a "gateway" course to academic success.
The district has not produced its own analysis on the effect of increased participation but has collected less-conclusive data showing that students who do well on the district's tests also excel on the state's tests.
Duffy remains skeptical.
"The pig does not get fatter when you weigh it 10 times a day," Duffy said. "And if the test scores do go up, isn't it phony? Because what you are doing is teaching to the test, teaching a subject that has been narrowed down radically. We're not creating smarter kids. We're creating smarter test takers."
Duffy announced the boycott Tuesday at Emerson Middle School on the Westside, where teachers said the district tests were too burdensome on top of already mandated state and federal testing.
"We are supposed to be teaching, not testing," said Emerson English teacher Cecily Myart-Cruz. "We can come up with our own assessments in our classroom, and we do -- every day."
Top officials, however, had concluded that too many instructors failed to enforce high standards or didn't focus properly on teaching the specific skills and knowledge required by the state.
"This is not to be onerous for teachers and principals and schools," Cortines said. "It is to be helpful."
Unraveling the apparent benefit can be complex, said retired district official Roger Rasmussen, who long headed the district's analysis unit. Schools that are able to perform the assessments correctly, he said, may be those that have developed a cohesive staff, for example, which may be the real driver of improvement.
Cortines' predecessor, David L. Brewer, a retired Navy vice admiral, tackled inconsistent participation in the tests at high schools by ordering a 95% participation rate. He credited that directive with last year's rise in test scores, the biggest jump in five years.
But districtwide, the high school participation rate in English barely budged, and while the increase was greater in math, it still fell far short of Brewer's target.
Yet, the schools with increased participation generally reaped benefits. The lackluster overall response resulted in part from problems at schools. The assessments have occurred at the wrong time, for example, at some year-round campuses, where students start their school year at various times.
"My students would be tested on Mendelian genetics when we're just getting to how chromosomes separate," said Joseph Rowland, who taught science at Roosevelt High School for 22 years before moving to Franklin High this year. "It's ridiculous."
Rowland once found that his class' data had been combined with that of another teacher, rendering it pointless as a guide to future instruction. Like other teachers interviewed, he also complained about never getting data back or getting it late, though the current process is for teachers to go online and retrieve the data themselves.
Manual Arts High School English teacher Travis Miller said two rounds of his own class assessments did not count last year. Once, his tests weren't picked up on time, and once, he didn't receive all materials until the period for submitting them had closed.
Miller also knows teachers who simply refuse to give the assessments. Manual Arts' official participation rate last year was 61% in English and 14% in math.
Emerson's record on giving assessments is relatively strong, despite its prominence at the center of Tuesday's protest.
On state tests, Emerson ranks a little below average overall but well above average when compared with schools that serve a similar student population.
"This school is full of creative people and they need to have their hands untied to shine," said UCLA professor Allen F. Roberts, the parent of an Emerson 8th-grader.
The district puts the cost of the assessments at $3 million to $5 million per year. The teachers' union offers a so-far unsubstantiated figure of $150 million -- based on its interpretation of indirect costs, such as the related use of math and reading coaches to assist teachers.
Times staff writer Doug Smith provided data analysis.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
CTA president to run Chicago Public Schools
NOT DUNCAN'S PICK | Huberman gets Eason-Watkins to stay as 'partner'
January 26, 2009
BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporteremail@example.com
Convinced that Chicago public schools need a proven manager at the helm, Mayor Daley today will name CTA President Ron Huberman as schools CEO after convincing bypassed chief education officer Barbara Eason-Watkins to swallow her pride and stay on as Huberman's partner.
A tireless mayoral trouble-shooter with no background in education, Huberman, 37, replaces Arne Duncan, newly-appointed U.S. education secretary.
» Click to enlarge image
Despite having no background in education, CTA President Ron Huberman will replace newly-appointed U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan to run the Chicago Public Schools.
(John H. White/Sun-Times)
Before departing for Washington, Duncan recommended Eason-Watkins as his successor to continue the slow, but steady momentum they had built together toward improving test scores and graduation rates, upgrading neighborhood schools and turning around chronically-troubled schools.
Duncan felt so strongly about Eason-Watkins, he recommended her repeatedly -- so often that he was told to back off.
Sources said Daley ignored Duncan's advice because he's convinced Huberman's management experience -- honed at the Chicago Police Department, the Office of Emergency Management and Communications, the CTA and as the mayor's corruption-fighting chief-of-staff --makes him an ideal fit to run the Chicago Public Schools.
Sources said one of Huberman's first tasks will be to take a closer look at safety procedures for team sports in the wake of an outbreak of violence that forced CPS to ban visiting fans from away games. Huberman also plans toconduct a broader review of school security.
To placate Eason-Watkins, sources said top mayoral aides at first approached her about becoming City Colleges chancellor. When she refused the consolation prize, Huberman convinced the popular former principal to stay on as his "equal partner" instead of bolting for Washington.
"Barbara's the key to all of this," said a source familiar with negotiations that ended Monday.
Sources said Huberman's annual salary will be $225,000, roughly $20,000 more than Duncan's. That's because Huberman has decided not take a pension from the Chicago Public Schools and, instead, to buy time and take his CTA pension at a later date.
A mayoral confidante, who asked to remain anonymous, noted that school reform in Chicago picked up steam, only after Daley "broke the mold" of having "recycled educators" run the nation's third-largest school system.
"The mayor so values the educator, he wants that job to be undiluted by administrative work. Those jobs need to be separate," the confidante said.
The Huberman appointment is vintage Daley. The mayor has long believed that "good managers can manage anything" -- even if they don't have a clue about the agencies under their command.
As chief-of-staff, Huberman endeared himself to Daley by cleaning house in the wake of the Hired Truck, city hiring and minority contracting scandals and by installing an elaborate performance accountability system at City Hall patterned after the one pioneered by General Electric Corp.
At the CTA, Huberman has made a series of budget cuts, technology and customer service improvements; survived the threat of "doomsday" fare hikes and service cuts with a new labor deal and a Springfield bailout; and raised fares when expenses rose, tax revenues declined and Gov. Blagojevich ordered free rides for seniors.
Daley has had a progressions of fair-haired boys -- from Forrest Claypool, David Doig and John Harris to Paul Vallas and Bill Abolt -- who have hop-scotched from job-to-job before falling out of favor with the notoriously demanding mayor.
Huberman is the latest fast-rising start to follow that meteoric path. He can only hope he doesn't flame out like most of his predecessors.
Contributing: Rosalind Rossi
Friday, January 23, 2009
6 CLOSING | Parent-teacher forum rips CPS chief Duncan's last move
January 11, 2009
BY MAUDLYNE IHEJIRIKA AND CHERYL JACKSON Staff Reporters
In his last major act before heading to Washington as President-elect Barack Obama's pick for education secretary, outgoing Chicago schools chief Arne Duncan wants to close or consolidate 25 "underperforming" or under-enrolled schools, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.
The proposal -- which Duncan plans to unveil Wednesday -- would be the largest wave of school closings in Chicago in one year since Mayor Daley gave the schools chief the authority through the "Renaissance 2010" initiative to replace 70 underperforming schools with 100 new schools by 2010.
As expected, Duncan's plan has ignited community protest.
"This reform is not about education. It's about regentrification," angry parent Virgil Crawford said Saturday at a Malcolm X College forum on Duncan's strategy called by the Chicago Teachers Union.
Six schools would be closed under Duncan's plan, details of which were obtained from information provided to parents groups and the CTU.
Five more schools would be consolidated, or merged into other schools. Five would be phased out. And nine would become "turnaround" schools, where students remain but staff replaced.
Many of the 400 parents, students and teachers attending Saturday's forum ripped Duncan's appointment to a national post.
"He's unqualified for the job," charged moderator Karen G.J. Lewis. "I'd like to know what his vision is. What's he going to do without Daley telling him what to do?"
Poor academic performance or under-enrollment generally are being cited as Duncan's reasons for the changes, but some schools also were given new criteria for being targeted, union reps said.
"We were informed [Friday] as classes were beginning," a union source at Peabody Elementary on the Northwest Side said. "Our principal told us, 'We're on the list.' And there's brand-new criteria. The rules change as they go along."
Central school administration officials would not comment on the targeted schools except to call briefings to those schools "preliminary conversations."
"Our position is pretty clear that president Marilyn Stewart and the officials of the Chicago Teachers Union really oppose any closing of schools," CTU spokeswoman Rosemaria Genoa said Saturday .
On Thursday, word that Duncan would move to close Carpenter Elementary -- where the student body is 97 percent low-income -- and turn its building over to Ogden, a Near North Side elementary approved for a new high school, sparked outrage.
"They [CPS] put money where they want to put money," student teacher Terry Rudd complained.
Since taking the leadership of CPS in 2001, Duncan has aggressively pushed the Renaissance 2010 plan over protests from some parent groups and the teachers union. With 61 schools closed and 75 new ones opened, Duncan will have met the mayor's closings goal if his swan song list is approved. Earlier, he had proposed 20 new schools to the Board of Education, but only 13 were approved in October.
"We must take a stand and make a statement about why Mr. Duncan's model is not the model for America," former CTU president Deborah Lynch said Saturday.
These 25 Chicago schools are targeted for closing, consolidation, "phase out" or "turnaround" in 2009, under plans by schools chief Arne Duncan:
* Las Casas Occupational High School
* South Chicago Elementary
* Peabody Elementary
* Carpenter Elementary
* Nia Foundation Elementary
* Princeton Elementary
* Abbott Elementary (Hendrix)
* Schiller Elementary (Jenner)
* Medill Elementary (Smith-Joyner)
* Global Vision High School (New Millennium)
* Davis Developmental Center (Hughes)
* Key Elementary
* Lathrop Elementary
* Hamilton Elementary
* Best Practice High School
* Reed Elementary
* Dulles Elementary
* Johnson Elementary
* Bethune Elementary
* Ross Elementary
* Holmes Elementary
* Yale Elementary
* Curtis Elementary
* Lavizzo Elementary
* Fenger High School
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
For Immediate Release:
PARENT EMPOWERMENT NETWORK/MOTHERS AGAINST WASL APPLAUD SUPERINTENDENT DORN’S WASL REPLACEMENT PLAN BUT CALL FOR SUSPENSION OF WASL GRADUATION REQUIREMENT FOR CLASS OF 2009
Contact: Juanita Doyon 253-973-1593 Jedoyon@aol.com
Ten years of protest and petition have finally paid off for members of Mothers Against WASL.
“Our members and supporters have been at the forefront of the battle over this flawed, harmful, costly test that has been the sum and substance of Washington’s accountability system,” said Juanita Doyon, who founded the grassroots Mothers Against WASL, beginning with a two-mom corner rally in 2000. “Superintendent Dorn is to be commended for acting so quickly to fulfill his campaign promise to replace WASL with a test that is more useful, less expensive and less cumbersome.”
Though students, parents and educators will benefit greatly from the changes Superintendent Dorn has planned, a major harm to students and families remains unaddressed. Thousands of students in the class of 2008 are still struggling to gain their high school diplomas, working in a system that was not ready to impose the high-stakes WASL graduation requirement and ensure that all students had the opportunity to meet standards in reading, writing, and math. Thousands of students in the Class of 2009 will soon be in the same situation, unable to continue with their life plans due to the lack of a high school diploma.
The need to replace the WASL was clear to voters, who elected Mr. Dorn to serve as our new State Superintendent. Students in the Class of 2009 should not be held accountable through a test that is obsolete.
Parent Empowerment Network (PEN) calls on Superintendent Dorn, legislators and Governor Gregoire to suspend the WASL graduation requirement, particularly in light of the economic outlook for our state and our families. PEN maintains that the promise of HB 1209 to provide needed funding to assist struggling students and struggling schools remained an empty promise for the past fifteen years. Current economic hardships will increase the inequity between students served in upper and middle class districts and students served in districts in lower economic categories. Increasing numbers of low income, special needs and minority students will be denied high school diplomas through no fault of their own.
PEN continues to receive calls from parents of students who have proven their skills and abilities through passing scores on military exams, acceptance into community and technical colleges, promise of gainful employment, etc…, but who have been denied post high school opportunities because they have been failed by the WASL system.
It is time for the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, the Legislature and the Governor to heed the advice and disclaimer provided by Pearson, the company that develops, publishes and scores the WASL, in the test’s technical report:
“While school and district scores may be useful in curriculum and instructional planning, it is important to exercise extreme caution when interpreting individual reports.…Scores from one test given on a single occasion should never be used to make important decisions about students’ placement, the type of instruction they receive, or retention in a given grade level in school,”
Parent Empowerment Network (PEN) is a nonprofit organization with members throughout the State of Washington. Mothers Against WASL is a project of Parent Empowerment Network.
Superintendent to unveil new assessment system
OLYMPIA - January 16, 2009 — State Superintendent Randy Dorn will announce his plans to change the Washington assessment system, including the replacement of the Washington Assessment of Student Learning, in a press conference at 10 a.m., Wednesday, January 21, 2009, at the office of the state superintendent in Olympia.
In recent years, a consensus has developed within the state Legislature and the public that changes to the assessment system are needed. A less complex and more responsive system of measuring students’ progress is critical to help them achieve the basic skills they need.
While the WASL will be administered as planned in 2009, by spring 2010 the state assessment – including its name – will change and resemble what lawmakers, educators and the public want, Dorn said.
Members of the media interested in scheduling interviews with Superintendent Dorn after the press conference should contact Nathan Olson, media relations manager, at (360) 725-6015.
Randy Dorn, State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Announcement of assessment system changes
Office of state superintendent, Olympia
Wednesday, January 21, 2009, 10 a.m.
Parent Empowerment Network is a nonprofit, public charity continuing to fight the good fight thanks to tax deductible contributions from good people like you. Please consider becoming a member or making a contribution today. http://www.mothersagainstwasl.org/member.html
Parent Empowerment Network
PO Box 494
Spanaway, WA 98387
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Teachers on Trial: Values, Standards, & Equity in Judging Conduct & Competency
James A. Gross. He is a member of the National Academy of Arbitration and is on the labor panels of the American Arbitration Association, The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, and the New York State Public Employment Relations Board. James A. Gross is a professor in the New York State School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Cornell University.
Copyright: 1988 ISBN 0-87546-142-5
The Bloomberg-Klein Administration is using the 3020a hearing as a way of removing teachers from their schools. Perhaps teachers will be returned to schools as ATRs after settlements or hearings. This also is part of the strategy because exits are being planned for the ATRs. An easy way to remove a teacher from his/her school is to charge incompetence. TAGNYC, along with every teacher, knows this. Randi Weingarten knows this. TAGNYC will speak out to expose this horrendous practice. The UFT will not. Also, OSI agents are complaining that principals are using OSI to remove teachers. If you fall in this category, demand charges immediately, demand to see incident reports, witness statements, and demand a hearing- and then demand an apology.
In 1988 Professor Gross issued an informed critique of arbitrators’ 3020-a decisions. What would he make of the way the 3020-a arbitrators are betraying their Code of Professional Ethics enabling Bloomberg-Klein to destroy teaching as a long term profession and to destroy tenure? `
TAGNYC on several occasions has advised strongly that you have a public hearing. You must ensure that your decision is available for review. You must request a public hearing. A private hearing keeps this aberration of justice alive and well.
Below is our Advice to 3020-a Participants. Remember that when you settle, you sign away your right to sue.
Once again, we ask “Randi, where art thou.”
Advice to 3020a Participants
1. Do not be in a hurry to retire or resign. Have your hearing.
2. Do not be in a hurry to settle. Have your hearing.
3. Demand a defense built on “disparate treatment”.*
4. Demand a public hearing. Do not be persuaded to have a private hearing.
5. Exercise your right to subpoena witnesses.
6. Demand a ‘bill of particulars’. **
7. Script your own defense-know what questions you want asked of both your witnesses and the DOE witnesses.
8. Bring every bit of documentation possible to your defense- lesson plans, students’ work, etc. Submit everything as evidence.
9. Demand that the arbitrator apply the criteria of “credibility” to your case.***
10. Demand a definition of incompetence:
a. 3020a law and Klein define incompetence as being unable or unwilling to do your job
11. Demand a definition of “your job” from the DOE and from the arbitrator.
12. Demand a definition of ‘unable and “unwilling”.
13. Demand credible evidence of being “unable and unwilling”.
14. Demand that incompetence be proven.
15. Get in writing the rational for any fine that is levied or offered as a settlement.
16. Remember- defend on disparate treatment, disparate treatment, disparate treatment.
EMPLOYMENT PRACTICES WHICH ARE APPLIED OR ADMINISTERED IN A DISCRIMINATORY MANNER. Although historically the term is used to denote unequal treatment based on race, religion, gender, etc., 3020a participants can use it to defend against their unequal treatment-: Did the principal hold the 3020a person to a standard (employment practices) to which other teachers were not held and which standard resulted in awarding u-ratings in an ‘unequal’ fashion? Yes, the UFT should have been monitoring if one of their members was receiving unequal treatment. That is what a labor union does. It is not a question of going after its own members. It is the principle that all members be treated equally.
**bill of particulars- A written statement that is submitted by a plaintiff at the request of a defendant, giving the defendant detailed information concerning the claims or charges made against him or her.
***credibility- Who do you believe? On what basis does the arbitrator believe the DOE’s assertion of incompetence over the documented career of the accused teacher?
DO NOT EXPECT the DOE to provide anything you request. The DOE refuses to respond to lawyers’ requests for information in the 3020a hearings. Ask for the information anyway. Build a case. DO EXPECT AND DEMAND that arbitrators’ judgments and rulings reflect adherence to their Code of Professional Ethics.
Where Can You Get It?
Amazon.com or ILR Press
Ithaca, NY 14851-0952
Why should you read it?
Because here we have a very eminent arbitrator concluding at the end of his book:
“This analysis of 3020-a decisions shows, for example, that without empirical evidence concerning the effect of different teaching styles on students’ learning, decisions have been made on the basis of personal opinion, personal moral views, unsubstantiated assumptions, and parental and community pressure.” pg. 108
“This study has demonstrated that decision makers’ conceptions of the way things ought to be and beliefs about the way things presumably are –unchecked and unverified by empirical evidence about the way things actually are- often lead to unjust decisions about teachers’ conduct and performance.... pg. 110 (italics added)
Serious allegations that put you into a Reassignment Center today include “holding a diet coke while in the hall” “yelling at a student”, “sitting down while teaching”, “wrongful laughter”, "using teacher driven board notes." AND THE ARBITRATORS WILL DESTROY YOUR CAREER AND REPUTATION ON THE BASIS OF THESE CHARGES.
By David Bacon
New America Media 1/12/09
OAKLAND, CA (1/10/09) -- Twelve unions met in Washington DC last week, and announced they're considering rejoining the two labor federations, the American Federation of Labor/Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) and Change to Win (CTW), that split apart five years ago. And one large independent union, the National Education Association, is thinking of joining them. The initiative came from the incoming Obama administration, which told union leaders it didn't relish the idea of dealing with competing union agendas.
Many progressive labor activists greeted the idea with a sigh of relief. "Dividing the labor movement was never a good idea to begin with," says Bill Fletcher, former education director for the AFL-CIO, and past president of TransAfrica Forum. Fletcher and many others believe that while U.S. unions have big problems, they can't be cured by division, competing federations, or simple changes in structure. Instead, they call for a reexamination of labor's political direction.
Unions are at their lowest point in membership since the 1920s, representing less than 12% of the workforce. Obama's election, which they pulled out all the stops to achieve, promises some degree of change from Federal policies that have accelerated that decline. The president-elect has appointed potentially the most pro-union labor secretary since the 1930s - Congresswoman Hilda Solis. A potential Congressional majority could pass the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make union organizing much easier and protect workers from retaliatory firings while they unionize. Obama has promised to sign the bill if Congress passes it.
In industry after industry, the impact of revived unions and growing membership could be enormous. For the first time in U.S. history, for example, unions have gained the strength to organize the rest of the hospital and nursing home industries. That would radically improve the jobs and raise the income of hundreds of thousands of nurses, dietary workers and bed changers, in the same way the CIO and the San Francisco General Strike turned longshoremen from day laborers on the waterfront into some of the country's highest-paid blue-collar workers. An organized healthcare industry, in alliance with consumers, could finally convince Congress to establish a single-payer system guaranteeing healthcare to every person in this country.
Yet while the 12 leaders were sitting down in Washington to discuss unity, the healthcare division of country's largest union, the Service Employees, may be torn apart in a fight between the union's national leaders and its largest local, United Healthcare West. Such a fratricidal conflict could not only jeopardize hopes for organizing healthcare workers, but even labor's larger political goals of the Employee Free Choice Act and single-payer healthcare.
Decisions made by unions often affect workers far beyond their own members. The labor upsurge of the 1930s and 40s led to national contracts in the auto, steel, longshore and electrical industries, establishing pension and medical benefits, raising wages, and forcing the creation of the unemployment insurance and Social Security systems. All workers benefited. And when many master agreements were destroyed in the early 1980s, workers' middle-class lifestyles began to erode everywhere.
Joining the AFL-CIO and CTW back together is a sensible step in marshalling the resources needed to take advantage of the openings presented by a new Obama administration, and begin rebuilding what was lost. But that larger sense of responsibility should inspire unions to face a basic question. They cannot rebuild their own strength, much less improve life for all workers, by themselves.
A new direction in labor requires linking unions with other social and economic justice movements. Defending immigrants from raids and helping them win legal status is just as important to the growth of unions as passing the Employee Free Choice Act. U.S. workers need a new trade policy, which stops using poverty to boost corporate profits abroad, impoverishing and displacing millions of people in the process. But that policy can't be won by unions negotiating with the administration by themselves, outside of a much broader coalition.
Health care reform requires an alliance between health care providers and working class consumers. The communities in which all workers live need real jobs programs and a full employment economy, especially Black and Latino communities. People far beyond unions will help win the Employee Free Choice Act and rebuild the labor movement if the it is willing to fight for everyone.
Unions need not just more unity and better organizing techniques, but a vision that will inspire workers. They need to speak directly to their desperation over insecure jobs, home foreclosures and falling income, and then lead them into action, even (or especially) if it makes a Democratic administration and Congress uncomfortable. As much as Obama has done labor a favor by forcing it to discuss reunification, political calculations in Washington can't be the guide to what is possible. Workers need a movement that fights for what they really need, not what beltway lobbyists say legislators will accept.
In the period of its greatest growth, labor proposed an alternative social vision that inspired people to risk their jobs and homes, and even lives - that society could be organized to ensure social and economic justice for all people. Workers were united by the idea that they could gain enough political power to end poverty, unemployment, racism, and discrimination. "Workers are looking for answers," Fletcher says. "Without them we'll get further despair. What we need instead is to organize for an alternative."
Monday, January 19, 2009
Albert Shanker's Legacy: Reply to Michael Hirsch
Norman Scott and Vera Pavone
Shanker and NCLB
THE TWO-DECADE LONG ROAD from "A Nation at Risk" to NCLB runs right through Shanker and is paved with Shankerisms: accountability, standards, high stakes tests, narrowing curriculum to what's "measurable," identifying and punishing schools (and ultimately, teachers), and charter schools as an alternative to public schools. Clinton's "Goals 2000" plan, which Shanker mostly endorsed, was a predecessor to NCLB. Kahlenberg praises Shanker's role in the process through his alliances with the business community.
Hirsch claims the AFT was opposed to NCLB when in fact, Shanker's successor, Sandra Feldman, sat on the NCLB committee and lauded many of the provisions, something the NEA did not do. Since then the AFT/UFT has consistently signed on to the standards/accountability bandwagon, giving short shrift to lower class size and other essential learning conditions.
The 1968 Strike
HIRSCH BUYS THE KAHLENBERG POSITION that the 1968 strike was about job security and due process and Shanker had no options, a fairly simplistic approach given that the UFT has always counseled teachers to transfer when under attack. Hirsch misses the irony of shutting down the entire school system due to the transfer of 11 teachers, when today the union has agreed to the transfers of hundreds of teachers out of DOE-labeled "failing" schools, teachers unable to get positions and forced to work as day-to-day subs due to the union's giveaway of seniority rights.
Podair's more nuanced analysis in The Strike That Changed New York indicates that Shanker had more of an agenda than just defending due process rights.
The 1975 Fiscal Crisis/Strike
HIRSCH BLAMES GOTBAUM instead of Shanker for the givebacks and pension bailouts. In his "Where We Stand" column (Oct. 19, 1975), Shanker contradicts Hirsch, justifying the use of $300 million in teacher retirement funds: "[T]eachers stepped forward when no one else would. They resisted the normal human instinct to slash back at those who had torn into them. The bankers interrupted their incessant prattle about civic responsibility just long enough to refuse pleas that they help bail the city out." Shanker forced the end of an effective and powerful strike, agreeing to a contract that ensured the layoff of 10,000+ teachers.
Attempt to Marginalize Us
HIRSCH PORTRAYS US as disgruntled, ineffectual leftists, tied to outdated ideological baggage.
Our thrust has always been to build an active and informed membership. UFT leaders have not always been wrong, nor do we claim the rank and file is always right. Leaders should be responsible, honest, and promote democracy: a dynamic relationship between leadership and membership that allows a variety of views to be aired.
From Shanker on, Unity Caucus has used its power to stifle critical voices challenging its positions. It attempts to deny opposition access to teacher mailboxes, despite the fact that the right was won in a grievance without any help from the union.
Using an erroneous analysis of the results of the citywide union elections, Hirsch tries to marginalize our critique and us. In the 2007 election only 21 percent of active teachers voted. The opposition ICE/TJC slate received over 22 percent of the vote of classroom teachers and 12 percent of the total vote, not the 7 percent Hirsch claims. A remarkable 47 percent of the vote cast was by retirees (out of the reach of the opposition) who voted 90 percent for Unity/Weingarten who promote themselves by using dues to fly around the United States to meet with retirees. Unity earned 14 percent (10,000) of the 70,000 classroom teachers, a drop by a third from 2004 (15,500). These results point to a significant loss of legitimacy and support for the union leadership.
Numerous members of the opposition serve as school delegates and Chapter leaders, despite often vicious campaigns in chapter elections, which sometimes include interference by Unity Caucus reps and collusion with principals.
As individuals and through our caucuses and organizations, we have been critical of the union leadership from Shanker through Weingarten. Hirsch knows full well the level of attention the UFT leadership pays to what we have to say, often adopting our language and pretending to support our positions, while undermining attempts to build activism that can challenge NYC DOE's attacks on public education, educators and union members.
ONE CANNOT UNDERESTIMATE Shanker's role in shaping the UFT, the AFT, and the union movement, principally through SDUSA, its front organizations, its ties to government institutions and elected and appointed government officials, and its influence among union hierarchies. This raises many questions concerning the role of leadership and the piecemeal destruction of a labor movement both in this country and abroad.
Thanks to Ira Goldfine for his help with this reply.
VERA PAVONE taught in Brownsville in the mid-1960s, later served as school secretary, retiring in 2002. She is a founding member of the Independent Community of Educators (ICE), an alternate caucus in the UFT. NORMAN SCOTT spent 35 years in the NYC school system. A former chapter leader and delegate at the UFT Delegate Assembly, he began publishing Education Notes, a newsletter for NYC teachers in 1996. He, too, is a founding member of ICE.
Albert Shanker's Legacy:
Comment on Norm Scott and Vera Pavone's Review in #45
LEON TROTSKY'S TRANSITIONAL PROGRAM begins with words that have made the left nuts ever since. "The world political situation as a whole is chiefly characterized by a historical crisis of the leadership of the proletariat," the old exiled Bolshevik and Red Army founder wrote. That analysis was arguable in 1938, when it was written, less so in the 1960s, when the United Federation of Teachers was formed. Would that it were remotely plausible today.
Yet that stilted frame of looking less at the development of social classes or class institutions and more at the maneuvers and peccadilloes of alleged elite "misleaders" characterizes what's so wrong with Vera Pavone and Norman Scott's review of Richard Kahlenberg's Tough Liberal, his political biography of teacher union leader Albert Shanker.
Now Kahlenberg's book is hard to like. It's a defense attorney's brief for a highly controversial figure, and Pavone and Scott are not wrong to call it hagiographic, or the life of a saint. Shanker, whatever his strengths and failings, was no saint, yet the biography does read as if Kahlenberg's hand were manipulated by divine forces to write an institutional history that even few in the present teachers union would stand by.
Yet in place of hagiography, the authors opt for demonology, the study of fallen angels, and their idealized approach shares far more with the hagiographers than they know. They blame Shanker and his democratically elected successors for every ill that befell educators in the last 40 years. For them, Shanker is the mustachioed villain in a silent film, his signature heavy-frame glasses in place of facial hairs; the "ruthless neo-con" regnant.
Why that picture is worth taking issue with -- the authors are themselves longtime critics of the UFT's successive leaderships and are entitled to their views -- is that their take on unions is emblematic of a weakness on the left: where rank-and-file maunderings of any sort are valorized, while elected leaders are excoriated, whoever they are and whatever their histories and strengths.
Full disclosure. In my day job, I work for the man. Or at least the woman. My boss is Randi Weingarten, president of both the 200,000 member United Federation of Teachers in New York City and -- since July -- president of the 1.4 million strong American Federation of Teachers, too. This reply is not an official union communiqué, merely a perk of being a New Politics editorial board member. I'm not even a UFT member or a former classroom teacher, but a union staff writer, though in a former life I was a college teacher and a delegate to two national AFT conventions, the second of which saw Shanker ascend to the presidency. I claim no right to challenge the authors' views on specific internal union matters, nor will I do so. But surely the point of view of habitual dissidents whose union caucus garnered just 7 percent of the vote in the last presidential election, and who remain a null factor in union politics is itself a telling critique. These were the wrong reviewers to take on Kahlenberg.
This isn't to dismiss a minority of one, or deny Gandhi's injunction that "In matters of conscience, the law of majority has no place." I've been in that minority frequently enough, including as a former steelworker who despised a leadership that stood stock still as the mills closed. Being in the minority can be an honorable place to be. But it also can be a self-interested, self-justifying place. The least a minority can do is speak as if it deserves to be a majority and act as a shadow leadership, though prominent members of "out" caucuses are by nature no more the bearers of truth and virtue and no less self-interested than are caucus leaders who are also elected union officials..
No wonder the reviewers' critique of Shanker and his successors is so sweeping. They even blame Shanker for the Bush assault on education through the misnamed No Child Left Behind Act. Since Shanker died years before the coming of the NCLB, this is like blaming Edmund Burke for the massacre at Peterloo.
Long after Shanker's passing, NCLB was sold to Congress as something that would narrow the yawning achievement gap between white and minority students by making schools accountable. Many are not, and it's one reason that numerous civil rights groups today support reauthorizing the law, despite its dangers to public education. Among the law's many faults, it emphasizes testing as a one-stop means of assuring accountability, leaving students and teachers ill-served. Tests don't measure higher-order skills, and contemporary supporters of the 1983 report "A Nation at Risk," least of all Shanker, never saw testing as key to the report's recommendations.
Then the Bush administration's NCLB radically underfunded remedial programs. It also exaggerated what any schools could accomplish, unlike the group Bold Approach, which urges instead moving beyond just reforming schools to tackling social and economic disadvantages in the larger world, so that pre-schoolers entering school come prepared to learn.
No wonder both the teachers unions -- the AFT and the NEA -- concluded that NCLB was just a tool to bust unions, eliminate tenure, create more turnover and hire younger, inexperienced, lower-paid educators. Among the problems: NCLB was done on the cheap. Again, this was nothing Shanker predicted, advocated or accepted.
The truth is that Al Shanker was more a tragic figure than an evil one. A brilliant union organizer, his virulent anti- communism and his ties to the AFL-CIO's egregious George Meany put him on the wrong side of history. But to posit a 40-year record of class collaboration and teacher union defeats orchestrated by a ruthless personality -- as Pavone and Scott do -- is over the top. When the authors wonder "how Kahlenberg could square Shanker's reputation for militancy with support for a regime that has weakened teacher unionism, demeaned teachers, and undermined public education," I don't recognize the UFT here. I don't even recognize the United Auto Workers, which it can be fairly argued has done a poor job of defending members against concessions, plant closings and off-shoring of jobs.
Yes, another man or woman might have handled the Ocean Hill-Brownsville community control fight better, and the split between African-American community activists and what was then a predominantly white union was a wound that took decades to heal. But what sparked the battle wasn't Shanker's doing; it was the unilateral move of the experimental district's leadership to transfer teachers -- mostly union activists -- without due process. The bottom line for the union had to be defense of members' job security, especially given the "let's you and him fight" perspective of the Ford Foundation, a principal supporter of the experimental district.
Every union -- especially a public sector union -- should put a premium on forming and maintaining excellent relations with the surrounding communities. In fact the future of trade unions may lie not so much in organizing sectorally as geographically and class-wide -- as Bill Fletcher Jr. observes. But if a union betrays its own present members' palpable interests, it's lost its reason to exist.
The fact that within two years of the Ocean Hill-Brownsville debacle the UFT succeeded in winning representation rights for the workforce of largely African-American and Latino school paraprofessionals suggests the racial wounds were already healing. A racist union couldn't have sparked that organizing drive. Neither could a broken union.
And it is disingenuous to write, contra Kahlenberg's assertion that the union's critics were "a coalition of wealthy whites and angry blacks," that "one would be hard put to find people in the black community who feel they have or have ever had the support of wealthy whites." Have the authors never heard of united fronts from above? The Lindsay administration certainly did.
The authors are also factually wrong about Shanker being responsible for the givebacks during the city's fiscal crisis of the 1970s. It was Victor Gotbaum of AFSCME DC 37 and Barry Feinstein of IBT Local 237 who delivered municipal workers and their pensions into the arms of the bankers and the bond raters.
As to the union's not calling strikes in some 30 years: the strike isn't the point; it's the inevitability of a unified strike and its crippling effect on the employer that matters. It's strike preparation that matters. The best strike is one that doesn't get called. With half of all new teachers leaving the city schools in their first seven years, building a strike consciousness alone is Herculean. Should it be considered? Yes, in spite of New York State's Taylor Law, which heavily penalizes strikers and their unions, strikes must never be written off.
But organizing a successful strike action takes more than calling upon the creatures from "the vasty deep," like Shakespeare's Glendower, when the real question is "will they answer?" just as the city transit workers learned from their aborted 2005 job action when, as critics of that union's leadership say rightly, little strike preparation was done or outreach to the public planned.
Yes, strikes and strike preparation have even greater value than what is on the table during a labor dispute. They're a teachable moment of the best kind. Rosa Luxemburg's idea that "Those who do not move, do not notice their chains," is as true today as when the German revolutionary wrote it. But there are numerous ways to move and strategies and tactics for choosing when and how to move. Even the seemingly intractable Lenin knew about tactical retreats.
That's also why cars come with multiple gears.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Attention: News Assignment
City Wide Hearing on School Closings & Turnarounds: 10:00 am, Saturday, January 10, 2008, Malcolm X College 1900 W. Van Buren
Media Contact: Wendy Boatman, CORE Member: 773-991-6290, firstname.lastname@example.org; Kenzo Shibata, CORE Member: 312-296-0124, email@example.com; Corina Pedraza, Education Organizer
Pilsen Alliance, firstname.lastname@example.org, 312-243-5440;
Over Five-Hundred Attend City-wide Hearing on School Closings
CORE (The Caucus of Rank-and File Educators) held a community meeting at Malcolm X. College on Saturday, January 10, 2009 to discuss the effects of Chicago Public Schools Renaissance 2010 program and to call for a moratorium on school closings and the turnaround program, an initiative that allows the CPS to fire entire faculties, administrations, and staffs of schools they have deemed "failing" due to test scores
The next scheduled event organized by CORE's coalition of community groups will be a protest at the Board of Education after the announcement of the next round of school closings on January 28, 2009 at 3:30 PM.
Displaced teachers, angry parents, union representatives, community leaders and students from affected schools made up the crowd. Four panels of speakers described how Renaissance 2010 sabotages neighborhood schools to make way for charters and contract schools that often do not serve all students, such as special education students and English language learners. The remaining public schools become the home for these students as they are "kicked off the island" of charter schools, as panelist and CORE member Jesse Sharkey described.
Renaissance 2010 is a program inspired by a report by the Commercial Club and is currently touted and implemented by CEO of Chicago Public Schools Arne Duncan as he grooms himself for his new position as Secretary of Education.
One panelist, a former student from Englewood High School, quoted Duncan as calling her school a "cultural failure" before slating the school to be closed. The student mentioned that prior to this program's implementation; the school had no replacement books as many of the school's funds had to be spent on additional security measures after the school accepted additional students from the nearby Calumet High School when it closed.
Many panelists spoke of charter schools, which comprise most of the new schools under Renaissance 2010. Chantelle Allen, former teacher at Perspectives Academy, a charter school, relayed how the entire junior class at that school had no special education teachers. She blew the whistle, writing a letter to the state board and was immediately fired. According to Allen, A teacher who does not have an education degree replaced her.
The concern over charters and special education was echoed by parent Lorenza Ramirez, a former CPS teacher who enrolled her daughter at Noble Street Charter School. She pulled her daughter out of that school after it was clear that her daughter's special needs were not being met at Noble Street, one of Chicago's flagship charter schools.
Organizers of the event were CORE and several community organizations and school groups. The community organizations were: Pilsen Alliance, Blocks Together, P.U.R.E, Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, KOCO, Teachers for Social Justice, Substance and Senn's Local School Council. The school organizations are Jaguars for Justice and United Senn Students.
On Sat, Jan 17, 2009 at 5:42 AM,
16 Chicago schools to be closed, consolidated or relocated
Thousands of students will be affected by changes
By Carlos Sadovi | Tribune reporter
January 17, 2009
Thousands of city students could be attending new public schools this fall under a district plan to close, consolidate or relocate 16 schools because of declining enrollment or subpar buildings, district officials said today.
As part of the proposal, six other schools—including one high school—will become turnaround schools, a status that requires teachers, administrators and others to reapply for their jobs. Four of those six schools are expected to be run by private groups.
The district is in the second year of a five-year program to deal with dwindling enrollment in the city's schools. Last year, the district closed, phased out or turned around 18 schools.
The school board must approve the plan and could as early as Feb. 25, after public hearings. If approved, the changes would take effect before the start of the 2009-2010 school year.
"In neighborhoods where enrollment is sharply declining and we have several buildings that are more than half-empty, we can't afford to keep all of them open," said Rufus Williams, president of the Chicago Board of Education.
Departing district CEO Arne Duncan has said that up to 50 schools may be shuttered at the end of the five years. Since 2001, enrollment has dropped by more than 40,000 students as gentrification in many neighborhoods pushed families out of the city and into nearby suburbs.
The recommendations are among the more controversial that Duncan will make before he joins President-elect Barack Obama's administration as U.S. Department of Education secretary.
At a briefing before Friday's news conference to announce the changes, school officials said they are making the moves to better serve the public.
David Pickens, the district's director of external affairs, could not say how much the district stands to save by closing the underutilized schools, but he said the district would recoup savings by not staffing or maintaining buildings that it could end up selling.
The district's practice is that schools at less than 50 percent of a building's capacity get on the list. The schools targeted for closure this fall are using less than 40 percent of their capacity, Pickens said.
Students who would normally go to the five schools targeted for closure instead will go to other nearby schools. Another five schools on the list will be consolidated with other schools. That means the students and many of the teachers will continue together in different buildings. The district also wants to phase out four other elementary schools and a high school, meaning the schools will not accept new students and will not close until after the current students graduate.
Among the more controversial moves is the district's attempt to turn around failing schools. To land on that list, schools must be on academic probation and be among the district's lowest performing schools in all subjects over several years. While the students will stay in these schools, all of the faculty and staff members—including principals—must reapply for their jobs. About 193 staff members will be affected at the six turnaround schools on this year's list.
"When we are emptying out buildings, it's for efficiency. And in the schools we are turning around and nobody is moving, it's for performance," Pickens said.
But at many of the affected schools and during public hearings, some teachers and parents have accused the district of pushing families and teachers out of the schools to then reopen them as Renaissance 2010 schools under private control. They claim the district also is trying to get rid of union teachers.
The district said 24 of the 75 new schools that have opened under Renaissance 2010 have Chicago Teachers Union teachers.
At Peabody Elementary School in the West Town community, teachers and parents vowed to fight to get the school off of the closing list.
Amy Sherwood, a Peabody teacher and union delegate, said she has taught at the school for about 20 years and acknowledged the school, along with others, has seen enrollment declines. The district said the school at 1444 W. Augusta Blvd. is at only 35 percent of its capacity. The school has 265 students, though the building has the capacity for 750 students.
But Sherwood also said the school has made academic gains and being closed should not be its reward.
"This is a school whose parents are dedicated, as well as the teachers and administrators. We have given extra time, energy and our blood for years so these children can get what they deserve out of life," Sherwood said. "We will fight to keep it open."
Even though Perry Moore's children attend Holmes Elementary School in Englewood—which is on the turnaround list—she is a supporter of the school and the teachers. Moore attended the school when she was a student and has many nephews and nieces in the school. Moore said she would pull her children out of the school and said her relatives may follow if the board votes to get rid of the teachers.
"It's a real sad situation. I can honestly say that they are a dedicated bunch of people. I can see teachers coming in at 6:45 in the morning and sometimes they don't get out of there until 6:30 at night," Moore said. "It's not about the check for them, it's about the love for those children."
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Friday, January 16, 2009
intellectual national leaders in US history, last night said farewell
and hammered home yet again his central message to the American
people. "Be afaid! Yes, be very afraid!" How far this country has
come from, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself," but
Bush's anti-FDR message served him well for eight excruciatingly long
years and brought us full circle. We're going to have Hoovervilles
again and the Great Depression II.
In his final days in office Bush hung on desperately to one delusion
of grandeur. And what a grand delusion it was! Heaven help us, in his
mind, and maybe in his mother's "beautiful mind", he was the
No question, the Bush Administration has directed the public schools
along a new path. They're going to this place right behind all those
Americans enjoying their new homes in Bush's "ownership society" and
right behind the flagships of the global economy like Lehman
Brothers, AIG, and General Motors.
The NCLB-era of educational policy in the US is the evil spawn of the
globalization of our economy. That process is at the very foundation
of the business model for schools, charters, vouchers, data driven
instruction, merit pay, standardized testing, and most perversely of
all, paying students to consume the corporate version of knowledge.
It was the reason the Business Roundtable, Bill Gates, and the Walton
and Bush families were the driving forces behind these absurd and
perverse educational policies. The CEO's wanted a profit making
private school system in their race with China and India to lowest
possible wage for workers. In their new economy there would be Wal-
Mart and plenty of security guard jobs or the military for the kids
that used to go to public schools.
These Milton Friedman-inspired Reagan revolutionaries will mark the
Bush years as the zenith of their power. This era spit up characters
like Rod Paige, Margaret Spellings, Armstrong Williams, Michael
Bloomberg, Jack Welch, Jeb Bush, Ruby K. Payne, and more ominously
for the future, Arne Duncan. It was certainly the time the attack on
public education appeared ready to bear fruit. They had public school
system wreckers like Michelle Rhee and Joel Klein in place, kids were
dropping out in droves, and teachers were in full flight.
But just as they were breaking out that "Mission Accomplished" banner
from the White House basement, just then their rationale for being,
their precious global economy, crashed! In recent days they have had
to do $326 billion CPR on Citigroup (still the bank will be broken up
and the pieces sold off in three months), scrambled to rescue the Big
Three, and printed billions in new money. Madoff has made off with
about $50 billion and he's just one of many ponzi schemers. Their
pride and joy is on fire. It was supposed to be immutable. It was
eternal! Now that attitude's all gone. There's only panic on Wall
Street and investor flights to safety. Treasuries and negative
returns are hot now. The financiers who are not killing themselves
have both fingers crossed for President Obama.
Any talk of NCLB are prayers said over a corpse. Soon it will be
every private school and charter school investor for himself. Private
school students are being moved to the public schools by their debt
ridden parents in significant numbers already. And from his Dallas
retirement home (or his land in Paraguay if he should have to leave
the country suddenly) George Bush will watch the last vestige of his
legacy, including Arne Duncan if he holds to the old world, go up in
Paul A. Moore
Miami Carol City High
United Teachers of Dade
You might also be interested in this recent article on the SOS website:
Save Our Schools
I was a high school assistant principal who resigned last year because I could no longer condone what we were doing to our students. Test mongers---that's what we had become. After listening to dozens of pleas from students, parents, and teachers, I tried to convince my principal and the district that what we were doing was wrong. That experience was like climbing Mount Everest...and I fell from the mountain hard.
I made a public stand before the school board in April, 2008 and eventually wrote a book about the whole experience. The school politics, unscrupulous administrative practice...all done in the name of Florida's FCAT. Teachers called me, relishing in the fact that somebody had the guts to finally write such an expose.
Book is called "The Missing Heart: Chronicles of an Educator" (Amazon.com). Just recently released, it's doing quite well. Being read across the country from California to New Hampshire to Georgia and Florida. The reviews on Amazon tells me that there are people who are very concerned about what educators are doing to children.
Defend ATR Seniority Rights To Jobs!
ATR/School Closing (ASC) committee of the Independent Community of
Educators (ICE*) consists of UFT members seeking justice and fairness
in regards to the ATR and school closing issues, which are negatively
affecting teachers, children and communities. Teachers, students and
communities should not be victimized when it is government that has
failed our schools. Our union must not sit on the sidelines in a
defensive posture. Or issue tepid responses of support for teachers.
Or surrender to a “fait accompli” attitude.
UFT must take the offensive in an aggressive manner by using all its
resources to reverse the decline of protections for teachers and
children that have been taking place in the era of Joel Klein and
is to be done?
ATRs and RTRs,
the class of new teaching fellows threatened with losing their jobs
this past December if they didn’t find jobs, learned in recent
months that relying on UFT officials to carry the ball is not enough.
Through the Ad Hoc ATR committee, ATRs organized throughout the
school system with a petition campaign that reached into over 100
schools, presenting these signatures as part of a resolution calling
for a rally at Tweed. On the eve of the rally, the UFT responded with
a side agreement with the DOE that ostensibly provides some
protection for ATRs from being penalized for their higher salaries.
At the same time, the UFT went to court to stop the firing of RTRs
and won an injunction stopping the DOE. It should be pointed out that
in 2007, when there was no agitation, the UFT did nothing and
Teaching Fellows were fired in December. Thus, an important lesson
has been learned: Do not rely on the UFT officials to do the right
thing on their own. But they will respond when there’s
agitation from the members.
will have to monitor this agreement over the next year to gauge its
impact. In the meantime, with more new school closings announced, a
new class of ATRs will be thrown on the market to compete for jobs.
When you entered teaching did you ever think you would be in the
position of having to race around the city begging for a job,
especially if you have been teaching for years?
response has been: we’ll teach you how to interview, how to
write a resume, how to put on makeup to make yourself more appealing.
We reject these “solutions.” The UFT is not exactly "on
the sidelines." Weingarten sits on the board of New
Visions and a UFT rep sits on the so-called core committee that signs
off on school reorganizations. The UFT uses the same language of the
DOE "reformers," referring to schools as "failing,"
while applauding yearly rises in test scores as a triumph.
It is clear
there will be no permanent resolution unless we reverse some of the
disastrous consequences of the 2005 and 2006 contracts, which
eviscerated so many seniority rights. The UFT/DOE touted open-market
hiring system has been a disaster for many teachers. But it goes
further than that. The closing of schools and its consequent movement
of teachers, the chaos of what is euphemistically called “parent
choice,” the creation of a dual school system of semi-private
charter schools, often existing within the same building, is
destroying the concept of a school community where teachers often
spend their careers getting to know generations of students and
parents. We think these communities are beneficial and their
destruction is a major loss for the children and parents as much as
for the teachers.
demands that the UFT:
school closings. These created the ATR quagmire and scapegoat
educators unjustly. It is the City that has failed these “poorly
functioning” schools; not the teachers, parents or students.
We need contractually mandated smaller class sizes.
our contractual right to Seniority Transfer.
Tenure, Evaluation and Due Process procedures. Educators must
not be subjected to severance or firings due to students’ test
score results which are used to close schools and to create the
a Hiring Freeze until all ATRs/RTRs get job placements.
Return to school budgets based on average
teacher salary applied to each school to prevent age/vet
will be no change unless you get involved and help build pressure for
change in the UFT. Help
organize. Join us.
Closing Committee of ICE-UFT (ASC-ICE-UFT)
Independent Community of Educators (ICE) came together in the fall of
2003 to address the inadequate response of the UFT leadership to the
deteriorating working conditions for teachers and learning conditions
for their students. We believe in democratic unionism based on an
active and involved rank and file. ICE is committed to help form a
movement for progressive change within the UFT and in the NYC school
system by forging alliances with other rank and file movements in
other unions and with parent and community groups that share our
ICE Meeting: Fri, Jan. 16, ‘09 - 4:15PM @ Murray Bergtraum HS
(Pearl St. behind Police Plaza)
Thursday, January 15, 2009
How y‘all doin’?
Listen, due to the situation that is beyond my, you know, controlification, I need a new job real quick. Pappy says it’s to keep me out of trouble, Heh! heh!
I will be available effective January 21, 2009, and I need to relocate.
I’ve included my resume. (Boy, I’m goin’ miss the typists they remember so much besides being able to type like real quick. I still can’t work a computer. I probably shouldn’t a said that, aw what the ..., you know me by now.)
No 1 Luvs ya like...
GEORGE W. BUSH
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20520
* I was arrested in Kennebunkport , Maine , in 1976 for driving under the influence of alcohol. I plead guilty, paid a fine, and had my driver's license suspended for 30 days.
My Texas driving record has been 'lost' and is not available.
* I joined the Texas Air National Guard and went AWOL.
I refused to take a drug test or answer any questions about my drug use.
By joining the Texas Air National Guard, I was able to avoid combat duty in Vietnam .
EDUCATION AND EXPERIENCE:
* I graduated from Yale University w ith a low C average. I was a cheerleader.
PAST WORK EXPERIENCE:
* I ran for U.S. Congress and lost.
* I began my career in the oil business in Midland , Texas , in 1975.
I bought an oil company, but couldn't find any oil in Texas.
The company went bankrupt shortly after I sold all my stock.
* I bought the Texas Rangers baseball team in a sweetheart deal that took land using taxpayer money.
* With the help of my father and our friends in the oil industry
(Including Enron CEO Ken Lay), I was elected governor of Texas.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS AS GOVERNOR OF TEXAS:
* I changed Texas pollution laws to favor power and oil companies, making Texas the most polluted state in the Union. During my tenure, Houston replaced Los Angeles as the most smog-ridden city in America.
* I cut taxes and bankrupted the Texas treasury to the tune of billions in borrowed money.
* I set the record for the most executions by any governor in American history.
* With the help of my brother, the governor of Florida, and my father's appointments to the Supreme Court, I became President of the United States, after losing by over 500,000 votes.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS AS PRESIDENT:
* I am the first President in U.S. history to enter office with a criminal record.
* I invaded and occupied two countries at a continuing cost of over one billion dollars per week.
*I spent the U.S. surplus and effectively bankrupted the U.S. Treasury.
* I shattered the record for the largest annual deficit in U.S. history.
* I set an economic record for most private bankruptcies filed in any 12-month period.
· * I set the all-time record for most foreclosures in a 12-month period.
* I set the all-time record for the biggest drop in the history of the U.S. stock market.
* In my first year in office, over 2 million Americans lost their jobs and that trend continues.
* I'm proud that the members of my cabinet are the richest of any administration in U.S. history.
My 'poorest millionaire, 'Condoleezza Rice, has a Chevron oil tanker named after her.
* I set the record for most campaign fund-raising trips by a U.S. President. I am the all-time U.S. and world record -holder for receiving the most corporate campaign donations. My largest lifetime campaign contributor, and one of my best friends, Kenneth Lay, presided over the largest corporate bankruptcy fraud in U.S. history, Enron.
* My political party used Enron private jets and corporate attorneys to assure my success with the U.S. Supreme Court during my election decision.
* I have protected my friends at Enron and Halliburton against investigation or prosecution.
* More time and money was spent investigating the Monica Lewinsky affair than has been spent investigating one of the biggest corporate rip-offs in history.
* I presided over the biggest=2 0energy crisis in U.S. history and refused to intervene when corruption involving the oil industry was revealed.
* I presided over the highest gasoline prices in U.S. history.
* I changed the U.S. policy to allow convicted criminals to be awarded government contracts.
* I appointed more convicted criminals to my administration than any President in U.S. history.
* I created the Ministry of Homeland Security, the largest bureaucracy in the history of the United States Government .
* I've broken more international treaties than any President in U.S. history.
* I am the first President in U.S. history to have the United Nations remove the U.S. from the Human Rights Commission.
* I withdrew the U.S. from the World Court of Law.
* I refused to allow inspector's access to U.S. 'prisoners of war' detainees and thereby have refused to abide by the Geneva Convention.
* I am the first President in history to refuse United Nations election inspectors (during the 2002 US election).
* I set the record for fewest numbers of press conferences of any President since the advent of television.
* I set the all-time record for most days on vacation in any one-year period.
* After taking off the entire month of August, I presided over the worst security failure in U.S. history.
* I garnered the most sympathy ever for the U.S. after the World Trade Center attacks and less than a year later made the U.S. the most hated country in the world, the largest failure of diplomacy in world history.
* I have set the all-time record for most people worldwide to simultaneously protest me in public venues (15 million people), shattering the record for protests against any person in the history of mankind.
* I am the first President in U.S. history to order an unprovoked, preemptive attack and the military occupation of a sovereign nation. I did so against the will of the United Nations, the majority of U..S. Citizens and the world community.
* I have cut health care benefits for war veterans and support a cut in duty benefits for active duty troops and their families in wartime.
* In my State of the Union Address, I lied about our reasons for attacking Iraq and then blamed the lies on our British friends.
* I am the first President in history to have a majority of Europeans (71%) view my presidency as the biggest threat to world peace and security.
* I am supporting development of a nuclear 'Tactical Bunker Buster,' a WMD.
* I have failed to fulfill my pledge to bring Osama Bin Laden to justice.
RECORDS AND REFERENCES:
* All records of my tenure as governor of Texas are now in my father's library, sealed and unavailable for public view.
* All records of SEC investigations into my insider trading and my bankrupt companies are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public view.
* All records or minutes from meetings that I, or my Vice-President attended, regarding public energy policy are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public review.
* I specified that my sealed documents will not be available for 50 years.
By Jason Song
January 14, 2009
Because of the state's budget uncertainty, the Los Angeles school board agreed Tuesday to potentially lay off up to 2,300 teachers if no other options become available this year.
The Los Angeles Unified School District faces up to a $250-million shortfall, and the move could shave about $50 million from that figure. But Supt. Ramon C. Cortines, in his first board meeting as head of the district, said he hoped not to send the notices.
"This is strictly a place-holder," he said. "I am still trying to find alternatives."
The board voted 4 to 2 for the option with members Julie Korenstein and Richard Vladovic voting against it. Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte was absent from Tuesday's meeting.
Cortines also outlined his priorities for his first 100 days, saying that the board, district officials, parents and others need to work together to improve instruction, increase safety and stabilize the district.
But in the middle of all this, Cortines must deal with the worst budget crisis since the early 1990s.
District officials could send notices to 1,690 elementary school teachers and 600 high school and middle school instructors, which would result in a complicated process in which administrators would have to reschedule classes and more experienced teachers would bump younger instructors from their jobs.
Teachers with fewer than two years of experience would be at risk.
About 1,100 academic coaches and 400 administrators with teaching credentials could return to the classroom in that scenario, according to the district.
If teachers are laid off, they may have to return some of their pay to the district because of their salary schedule.
A.J. Duffy, president of United Teachers Los Angeles, said the union would fight any layoffs and warned the district to keep cuts out of the classroom.
But the normally animated Duffy also soberly acknowledged the severity of the situation. "This is truly one of the saddest days for this district," he said.
Cortines and other district officials outlined a grim financial picture for this and upcoming years and are asking state legislators to allow the district to use funds earmarked for certain programs, including class-size reduction, for general instruction.
"We need every flexibility available," said Chief Financial Officer Megan K. Reilly.
The district now receives about $200 million annually from the state for limiting some elementary school classes to 20 students. L.A. Unified officials have proposed increasing average class size by five students next year while keeping the state funding.
Elementary school class size could rise to more than 30 students, Cortines said. But he added that he believed it would be nearly impossible for students to learn in that environment. Cortines also said he would recommend to the board that it consider introducing a parcel tax that could be used for instruction, if approved by voters.
Before being named superintendent late last year, Cortines vowed to spend as little time in the boardroom as possible because he wanted to spend more time working on reforms and visiting schools. But he was present for the entire meeting, possibly because most of it focused on the budget.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Received from TAGNYC:
We are all potential ATRs. TAGNYC maintains that the purpose of the Reassignment Centers is to enable the DOE to terminate teachers or to turn teachers into ATRs. TAGNYC maintains that the goal of the present Administration is to terminate ATRs. Therefore, the Reassignment Centers are the backdoor to the street.
What follows is a summary of the ATR meeting held on Friday, January 9, 2009. Attached is the survey to be downloaded and placed into every school possible. The Fight is ours.
Dear Colleagues and Friends:
I wanted to report on the January 9 meeting of the ATR support committee. It was well attended with a number of new people. There was a discussion on our successful November 24th rally, impending school closings, and where do we go from here.
Most importantly, we now have an ATR School Wide Survey. Please download it and get it around.
We want to circulate the survey to every school so we can see if the UFT-DOE "Side Agreement" on placing ATRs is working. This agreement only creates some incentives for placing ATRs, but at the principals' sole discretion. Meanwhile school closings are continually creating more ATRs. Nevertheless, we are determined to see that as many teachers as possible are placed under this inadequate agreement.
For this, we need to know if any ATRs are getting positions. We also need to know if there are open positions in the schools that ATRs could fill, and if there are oversized classes which could be reduced in size and thus open up positions for ATRs. Classes are more overcrowded than ever yet there are hundreds of qualified teachers available to teach them.
The UFT chapter at Jamaica HS has written a dynamite letter to the state documenting that there are 14 ATRs who could be placed in the classes they are presently teaching and another 14 positions could be opened by reducing class sizes to what is mandated by the state Contracts for Excellence. We need this kind of information for your school.
So please download the survey and work together with your colleagues to fill it out. Let us know what's going on in your school. We built our movement to support ATRs when hundreds of teachers signed petitions for the November 24 rally and made it an urgent issue. We have to get back to them to follow up. We're also concerned that with eight schools now slated to be closed in the near future, that means more ATRs being sent out into nowhere's land. We need to fight together with parents and students to keep the schools open.
It was decided to have a delegation bring specific problems to the UFT leadership concerning ATRs. We have several reports of schools where ATRs have been teaching classes since the beginning of the school year, yet their principals claim to know nothing about the side agreement. Also, teachers have noted the huge potential for age discrimination in the video resumes that the UFT is working on. And what ever happened to the UFT's age discrimination suit? There are questions about lack of information at the district level.
We need a district-wide listing of available positions that ATRed colleagues can consult. The DOE has this information, but it is not pulled together and available to teachers.
There is a ruling on the situation of the RTR teaching fellows, who were to be fired if they didn't find a permanent position by December 5. The UFT got a court injunction until the arbitrator ruled, which he did last week. While he held that the DOE could not terminate the fellows on December 5, he only gave them until the end of the term, which is February 2. A number of RTRs have gotten positions as a result of their strong protests and organizing and the union grievance/court suit, but there are still several score facing the axe. We need to help them get positions.
So ... please print out, circulate the surveys, and keep building networks of teachers in the schools.
Ad Hoc Committee to Support ATRs
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
This is an urgent plea for your support.
The resolution below was adopted by the Detroit Federation of Teachers in support of our brothers and sisters with the Washington Teachers Union of Washington, DC. Similar resolutions have been adopted by the United Teachers of Los Angeles, the Oakland California Education Association, The Missouri AFT, and several other unions.
We urge you to act now -- this week if possible -- and get your union to sign on by passing this resolution, too.
Teachers everywhere have a huge stake in the outcome of the DC teachers' contract fight against Superintendent Michelle Rhee's efforts to destroy tenure and seniority, and implement merit-pay. Rhee is even trying to circumvent the union entirely -- a move which threatens the very existence of the WTU if it left unchallenged.
This is an extremely winnable fight, but we must act quickly and show real unity. If we defeat Rhee, we will have dealt a major blow not only to her, but to the right wing offensive that threatens public education and teachers unions everywhere.
A victory for our side will also go a long way towards setting a progressive agenda for education under the new Obama administration. Americans everywhere voted for Obama because they wanted real, positive change, not for more attacks on our schools and our students' futures.
For more information, you can contact me, or go to http://equaloppnow.org/ .
The Detroit Federation of Teachers website is www.dft231.com .
Detroit Federation of Teachers
DFT Defends Washington, D.C. Teachers Union
Resolution in Defense of the WashingtonDC Teachers Union
Submitted to the December 11, 2008 General Membership Meeting
Whereas, the WashingtonDC teachers are fighting for all of us, Washington schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee closed 26 public schools in her first year after being hired. Now she proposes to impose merit pay on teachers and overturn 100 years of teachers’ union protections on tenure, established in part to protect minority teachers and union leaders from victimization. This union-busting proposal would tie all instruction to standardized test scores and scripted curriculum. She is trying to establish the WashingtonDC schools as a national model for the whole right-wing program for education.
Whereas, Rhee is attempting to force a Washington Teachers Union (WTU) membership vote on her proposal in order to undercut the independence of the union and to substitute herself for the union leadership. Having failed at this so far, she is now trying to get Congress to declare a New Orleans-style state of emergency in DC schools in order that she be granted extraordinary powers. She is also urging President-elect Obama to intervene in her favor.
Whereas, this right-wing knows that its program of charters, privatization, and attacks on teachers and students has no real popular support, but preys on peoples’ desperation and confusion. This right-wing agenda is an outgrowth of earlier attacks on school integration, which were the basis of the whole Republican “silent majority” southern electoral strategy – a strategy roundly rejected in the Obama election.
Therefore be it resolved, that we, the Detroit Federation of Teachers (DFT), AFT Local 231, support the decision of the Washington Teachers Union to reject Chancellor Michelle Rhee’s reactionary proposal to abolish tenure and impose merit pay on WashingtonDC teachers and to refuse to bow to her pressure to put it to a membership vote.
Therefore be it resolved, that we support and will fight for real solutions for public education now – school integration, smaller class sizes and a massive increase in funding for the nation’s public schools. We reject this attack on the teachers of WashingtonDC and all attacks on public education nationally.
Therefore be it resolved, that copies of this resolution will be printed on official union stationary and made available at the DFT office front desk. The resolution will also be printed in the next issue of the DFT newspaper.
December 12, 2008