Friday, February 12, 2010

JW EMail 14

THE JAN. 21st PROTEST — at the MAYOR's RESIDENCE on 79th St.

The organizers of this protest have sent these paraphrased instructions:
The picket line will be walking in the parking lanes (parking will be not allowed on 79st, between 5th and Madison ave during our protest). Not sure whether there will be police barricades. The "marshals" will have yellow armbands.

(a) The city seems to want everyone to join the line from the staging area, which is on Central Park/79th St., SW corner.
(b) Protesters can ONLY cross the street when the sign says WALK. No jaywalking!
(c) When the signal says don't walk — the people who are already across the street should stop and wait for the rest to join them, so that there are no gaps in the line.
(d) People should leave some space between themselves and the person in front, so no one bumps into each other when line stops and starts.
(e) No bullhorns or amplifed sound.

"It will be extremely important that we understand the guidelines set forth by the judge and police. If this rally becomes chaotic, they can and will shut it down. Remember, we are not only representing our cause, but the rights of future protesters to be able to protest anywhere in nyc sidewalks - even in front of someone as powerful as mayor Bloomberg."



Marjorie's analysis is in response to Weingarten's Jan. 12th speech in Washington (Duncan at her side) where, according to the AFT press release, RW will "unveil new approaches to teacher evaluation and labor-management relationships, and discuss a fresh approach to due process."

Marjorie thinks "this is a crass betrayal of the teachers Weingarten claims to represent and an attack on the students we educate. Instead of fighting the teacher union bashers she is outrageously joining them." You may or may not agree with the politics of the left, but it's hard to argue with any of these ten points.


Hooking teacher evals to student test scores is wrong -- for kids, for teachers, for everybody EXCEPT the privatizers, corporatizers and union-busters. This opens the door to massive victimization of teachers, as we are already seeing in Chicago and Washington, D.C.

We can't be surprised by this, since the union has had an experimental "voluntary" program on this for the past year, and since they tried to shove it down our throats with the so-called "bonus pay." I also expect this is one of Bloomberg's demands in the current contract bargaining that the union leadership is most likely to cave on. The UFT bureaucracy has been opening the sluice gates on this for some time, as with the introduction of school-based "merit pay.".

How is linking teacher evaluation to student scores on standardized tests wrong? Let me count the ways:

1) Teachers are already pressured into doing endless "test prep" which is a different animal than teaching. Can you fill in the bubble sheet or can you think? Endless test prep is bad for kids -- stressful, repetitive, and what does it teach?

2) Teachers are not responsible for how kids come into the classroom, their past learning experiences, their personalities, their diverse and amazing lives. We are dedicated, tireless and do our best to teach every student, using multiple methods, reaching every child. However, we must not be scapegoated for how this translates on bubble sheets!

3) For example, English language learners and special needs students may learn at a different rate, taking longer to process the information. That's a good thing; they are learning.

4) Hooking teacher evals to test scores necessarily means the low performing students will be pushed out of schools. Why? You don't need to be a rocket scientist to figure it out. Even the most dedicated, tireless teachers will feel pressured to find positions in schools where kids get the highest scores --- it will be an economic reality if their jobs and raises depend on it.

5) Ergo --- the student dropout rate will increase, as it already is doing despite the attempts by the DOE to mask this by taking them off the roles as "transfers." Public education for all will continue to be whittled away; we will go to a system of higher education for the "elite" and McJobs for everybody else.

6) Am I making this up? The National Center for Education and the Economy, a Clinton-era think tank which Mayor Bloomberg says inspired his education program, published a 2006 report (financed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) that said that in order to meet the manpower needs of businesses, public education for all should only go up to the 10th grade.

7) This is racist, it is segregationist, and along with the push for charter schools it is "educational colonialism. " It is of a piece of the program to close 20 schools in our city to make room for the charters. Jonathan Kozol has written powerfully that our schools today (50 + years after Brown v. Board of Education) are "American Apartheid) are more segregated than ever.

8) Corporatization, privatization, turning the schools into test prep academies; treating education like a business, not a process of teaching and learning. This program is designed to meet the needs of capitalism, not kids.

9) This program is coming from the top; not just Bloomberg/Klein, but Arne Duncan and Barack Obama. Thus, just to stand up for the democratic program of public education for all, integration of schools and "equal opportunity" we need a break from the Democrats and Republicans and a struggle for an independent class struggle workers party. It can't be done "piecemeal."

10) More information on this viewpoint can be read in "Class Struggle Education Workers." I invite you to check it out.


This post on South Bronx School blog was brought to my attention and I pass it on.
So much normal communication between staff and admin has been damaged by this chancellorship that many of us feel this kind of grief management even if we're not in the RR. It's become the normal background to the school experience of so many of us.

So Mulgrew and his cohorts tell teachers sent to the Rubber Room that they should be happy for they are still getting a paycheck. But Mulgrew and his predecessor Sell-Out Randi Weingarten don't really give a rat's a** about what the teachers psyche. Teachers go through the five stages of grief, just like anyone else that has suffered a loss.

Today we examine these five stages and how they effect teachers.

1. Denial This is all a big mistake. I have been teaching for twenty years and until the 26 year old new principal arrived I have enjoyed accolades. I have years of thank you cards from parents and students. Former students from years ago stop by my school to thank me for making them what they are. This is wrong, this is a mistake. I won't let my family or friends know.

2. Anger If I ever see that principal or Klein I will stick out my tongue at them and flip them the bird. They don't know who they are messing with. I'll show them. I hate everyone in the Rubber Room. No one better sit in my chair. The principal is incompetent.

3. Bargaining Please, UFT district rep, this is all a big mistake. I know if I speak to someone myself this can all be sorted out quickly. Just find out why I am here. Mike Mulgrew cares about me. I pay dues every month so I can call the UFT HQ and this can be straightened out.

4. Depression I can't get out of bed in the morning. They all hate me in the RR. My union doesn't care. I don't know how much longer I can cope with being couped up in a windowless room.

5. Acceptance Hey I am where I am. The Rubber Room is my friend. No hassles here. Not going to fight it anymore. Monday's are Star Trek round table discussions. Tuesdays and Thursdays are circle jerk day (ladies invited). Tuesdays are for distance, Thursdays for accuracy. I can't count one anyone. Only myself. Not my union. Not my so-called friends at my school.

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