Archives for category: Unions

Julian Vasquez Heilig honors Cesar Chavez’s birthday here.

He uses the occasion to contrast the views towards unions of Chavez, as contrasted to those of Campbell Brown and Michelle Rhee.

Brown says her fight to diminish teachers’ unions is equivalent to the fight for marriage equality. Rhee says that collaboration with teachers and their unions is unnecessary.

But what did Cesar Chavez say?

Laura Clawson at the Daily Kos reports that some teachers at a charter chain in Los Angeles want to organize a union. They have asked management to stay neutral. They thought management agreed, but it created an anti-union video.

Laura knows that the charter business model relies on low wages and teacher turnover; much of the money behind the charter industry (think Walton) is staunchly anti-union.

By the way, the incoming chair of the charter board previously led the Broad Foundation.

This is great news!

 

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, tweeted and wrote on her Facebook page yesterday that she supports parents who opt out of the PARCC tests. She had previously spoken out of behalf of opting out when participating in a parent-teacher rally at Fort Drum, New York. Yesterday she said that if she were a parent of children in the public schools of New York, she would opt out too.

 

Opting out is not about helping the teachers’ union or opposing accountability. It is a message to governors and legislators, to Congress and the Obama administration that testing is out of control. Testing is not teaching. Since the passage of NCLB in 2001-02, billions of dollars have been spent on test prep and testing. In the case of the Common Core tests, the results are not reported for 4-6 months, the teacher is not allowed to see what students got right or wrong. The tests have no diagnostic value. None. They are used solely to rank and rate students, teachers, principals, and schools. Furthermore, they are designed to fail the majority of students because of the absurd “cut scores” (passing mark) pegged to NAEP’s proficient level. We are the most over tested nation in the world. Enough!

 

Any politician who advocates for the tests should do one simple thing: Take the eighth grade math test and publish your score.

 

Thank you, Randi, for personally endorsing opt out! Encourage your members across the nation to join those who are defending their students and their profession. It is hard to stand up alone; in unity there is strength.

 

 

She wrote on her Facebook page:

 

 

I have been in NY alot fighting shoulder to shoulder with educators and parents against Cuomo’s wrongheaded actions. I was asked the question abt opt out today and this is what I tweeted out.

 

We believe parents have right to opt-out & tchrs shld be able to advise parents how. We’ve said it repeatedly, are fighting for it in ESEA.

 

@lacetothetop et al have asked what I’d do if I had kids in NYPS—based on what I’ve seen, if I had kids, I’d opt them out of the PEARSON (PAARC) tests this yr

 

It’s crazy what’s happening in NY, w/ Cuomo leading the misuse of testing. We understand why @NYSUT and parents are calling for an opt-out

Karen Magee, president of Néw York State United Teachers, has called for a mass opt out from state testing. Her protest is in response to Governor Cuomo’s hostile actions towards teachers and public schools.

Magee said (correctly) that test-based evaluation is an unreliable measure of teacher quality.

“New York State United Teachers president Karen Magee hinted on Monday that the powerful statewide union would launch a campaign to further encourage parents to have their children “opt out” of state-administered, Common Core-aligned exams in order to undermine the use of test scores as a component of teacher evaluations.

Speaking to reporters at the Capitol, Magee said the union has posted information on its website instructing parents on how to have their children refuse the third through eighth grade English and math exams, which are required by the federal government and will be administered next month.

“I’m a parent,” said Magee, who lives in Westchester. “My child is in 11th grade at this point in time. Had he been a third to eighth grader, he would not be taking the test. The tests are not valid indicators. The American Statistical Association has said there is no direct link to tie these tests to student performance or teacher evaluation. Let’s look at tests that are diagnostic in nature, that actually inform practice in the classroom, that actually work to serve students who are directly sitting in front of the teacher for the year as opposed to what we have in place right now.

“At this point in time, yes, we are encouraging parents to opt out,” she said. “We will be taking further steps to make parents aware of this…..”

“Magee admitted that some level of opt outs could hurt teachers in this way, but said, “Statistically, if you take out enough, it has no merit or value whatsoever.”

“When asked whether it was her goal to impact the validity of the exams, the union president responded: “At this point in time it’s the best way to go.”

Cuomo sought the most punitive possible evaluation approach to teachers. Despite the evidence against tying teacher evaluation to test scores, Cuomo demanded that 50% of each teacher’s evaluation be based on test scores.

He never explained his plan to evaluate the 70% of teachers who do not teach tested subjects.

He also has insisted that the views of an independent evaluator count more than that of principals, but has not explained the cost of hiring thousands of evaluators or why the judgment of a drive-by evaluator should have greater weight than that of the principal.

His hostility towards teachers is palpable. Future leaders will have to repair the damage Cuomo has done through his blatant disrespect for teachers, all teachers. Who will want to teach?

Leonie Haimson is fed up with the line that the mainstream media has taken about education controversies. Reporters usually think that every protest is organized by the unions, defending their self-interest, and they are warring with high-minded reformers. She says this is balderdash! (Sorry, Leonie, my word, not yours.)   If parents hold a protest against high-stakes testing and against test-based teacher evaluations (which causes more time to be devoted to testing), most reporters will say the union made them do it, the union doesn’t want to be held accountable.   Well, guess what? The unions are not leading the Opt Out movement. Many teachers support it, because they know how pointless the new tests are, but the great majority of people leading the movement are parents. They don’t want their children to be pressured by fear of the Big Standardized Test, they don’t want them to be ranked and labeled, they don’t want them to hate school because of the endless test prep.   Leonie was especially irked by a recent story in the New York Times about the two forces trying to win Hillary Clinton’s allegiance: on one hand, the teachers’ unions; on the other, the Wall Street tycoons who might finance her campaign. One has the votes, the other has the money. In the middle of the story, the reporter Maggie Haberman inexplicably refers to the hedge fund managers’ group Democrats for Education Reform as “left of center.” These are the Wall Street billionaires and mere multimillionaires who are pushing the privatization and high-stakes testing agenda; they dearly love charter schools and look on public schools with disdain as places that one must escape from. What you would expect from people who mainly went to Exeter, Deerfield Academy, Groton, and other tony private schools. Left of center? Hardly. Corporate style reformers? Yes.

Historian and teacher John Thompson reports on the progress of privatization in Oklahoma.

 

The state naively accepted the Gates compact, which obliged districts to welcome charter schools.

 

Thompson writes:

 

“The previous blockbuster discovery for Oklahoma City and Tulsa schools was S.B. 68, the “under-the-radar” bill to authorize cities to compete with school systems in sponsoring charter schools. The Tulsa World’s Andrea Eger, in “Change in State Law Sought for Tulsa Public Schools Would Allow Outsourcing of Instruction,” reports that another charter bill, H.B. 1691, “has flown largely beneath the public’s radar during a legislative session that has seen high-profile clashes over bills seeking private school vouchers and the expansion of charter schools into rural areas.”

 

“Eger reports that the Tulsa Public School System is moving ahead with plans to locate its three newest charters inside traditional public school facilities. Lunch and bus service would be provided for students. All three contract charters would be run by an out-of-state charter-management organization.

 

“Linda Hampton, the president of the Oklahoma Education Association, opposes H.B. 1691 “[b]ecause the bill is so broad in scope, it could open the door to total privatization of public schools.” She adds, “We also want to be sure we are not turning over our public school students to organizations that are looking to make a profit.”

 

Tulsa’s next superintendent is Deborah Gist, previously state superintendent of Rhode Island and a member of Jeb Bush’s Chiefs for Change.

 

Watch for a full-blown drive for privatization in Oklahoma.

The Néw York Times says Hillary Clinton will be forced to choose between the Wall Street big donors and the teachers’ unions.

The real choice is between Wall Street money on one hand and millions of parents and teachers who are fed up with high-stakes testing and privatization of public schools, on the other.

Then it refers to the Democrats for Education Reform as a “left of center group,” even though its program is indistinguishable from that of Republican governors and it was denounced by the California Democratic Party as a front for corporate interests.

I spoke last night to educators, parents, and some school board members in Milwaukee. I was sponsored by the Milwaukee Teachers Education Association. I am in awe of their courage. They keep on going despite the attacks by Governor Scott Walker, who boasted recently that if he could beat the unions, he could beat ISIS. I looked around for kindergarten teachers with Uzis or librarians with bazookas, but I didn’t see any.

This week Governor Walker plans to sign right-to-work legislation, the Golden Fleece of the far right. Can’t allow workers to have a voice in working conditions or collectively bargaining for higher wages, can we?

His budget is also a subject of heated discussion. He wants to cut $300 million from the University of Wisconsin system, one of the narion’s finest higher education systems. He wants to cut public education by $127 million, of which $12 million will come from Milwaukee’s beleaguered public schools.

According to this article, some campuses are planning to lay off 1/4 of their staff, and others will close entire departments, if the cuts are enacted.

Walker wants more vouchers, even though the last independent evaluation showed that voucher schools do not get better results than public schools, and many are abysmal failures. Walker wants more charters, even though the charters do not surpass public schools in test scores, and many are failing.

The reformers promised that choice and competition would save Milwaukee’s children, especially its African American children, from “failing public schools.” They said that competition would improve the public schools, because they would be compelled to compete for students.

After 25 years as the Petri dish of school choice, we now know that those promises were hollow. Milwaukee started participating in the urban district portion of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)–the federal testing program–in 2009. It is one of the lowest performing of the 21 districts tested, slightly ahead of Cleveland and Detroit. (Cleveland also has vouchers and charters, and Detroit has been the setting for an endless parade of failed reforms.) today, the black children of Milwaukee perform on the federal tests about the same as black children in the poorest states of the Deep South. Choice and competition splintered community support and divided the schools into three sectors, none of which succeeded.

So who will save the children now trapped in failing voucher schools and failing charter schools?

Walker wants to adopt Jeb Bush’s A-F school grading program, which sets schools up for closure. He wants to make it easier for the state to takeover public schools and privatize them.

He wants alternate licensure to allow anyone with a bachelor’s degree and “life experience” who can pass a test to be eligible to teach grades 6-12.

Teachers, parents, and the community are organizing to push back against Walker’s assault on public education and the teaching profession. There is a silver lining: his budget cuts will affect all parents and families in Wisconsin, including those who voted for him. He may discover that families–Republicans, Democrats, and independents–would rather have a good neighborhood school and a great and affordable university system than property tax relief.

We now know that “reform” is empty and deceptive rhetoric, an excuse for ignoring poverty and segregation, a distraction from the growing income inequality and wealth inequality in our society.

There must be many legislators on both sides of the aisle who graduated from Wisconsin’s public schools and its renowned state university. Will they let Walker cripple the state’s education system?

When Illinois Givernor Beuce Rauner first proposed a limit on unions’ ability to collect dues from non-members, the Néw York Times published this editorial explaining why Rauner is wrong. Non-members enjoy the wages and benefits negotiated by unions. The Times called it a “war on workers.”

“At issue are so called “fair share” fees. In a unionized workplace, a union must extend collectively bargained pay raises and other benefits to nonmembers. The nonmembers — about 15 percent of unionized state employees in Illinois — do not have to pay union dues or contribute to the union’s political activities. Instead, under the law in Illinois and in many other states, they must pay the union a fair-share fee, which is less than full dues, to cover the cost of collective bargaining undertaken on their behalf.”

Diminishing the power of unions hurts all working people.

“Allowing nonmembers to get union benefits without paying fair-share fees would tempt dues-paying members to drop out. Union coffers — and bargaining power — would be weakened. Ultimately, all working people would suffer, because collectively bargained pay increases in unionized workplaces tend to lift wages in nonunionized ones, as companies compete for employees. Anti-unionism, which has become increasingly entrenched in recent decades, correlates with stagnating and declining wages. As unions have been harmed, not only by market forces but by policies that deliberately weaken them, income has flowed increasingly to those at the top of the economic ladder rather than to workers.”

Crushing unions is good for the 1%. But not for workers who need a route into the middle class

A new study by Mathematica Policy Research finds that young corps members in Teach for America get no better results than other teachers.

 

Normally, this would not be big news, since TFA teachers have only five weeks of training. But for years, TFA has boasted that their young people were far superior to other teachers who had gone through professional preparation programs. Now, TFA leaders are claiming to be satisfied that their five weeks of training allows them to do just as well as those who spent a year or more learning to teach. The implicit logic of their perspective is that teaching is not a profession and that no preparation is needed beyond five weeks of TFA training. However you slice it, the TFA message degrades the profession. No profession would be considered to be a profession if any bright young person could succeed with only a few weeks of preparation. One cannot even imagine doctors or lawyers or accountants boasting that they were successful with a five-week training program.

 

The Mathematica study may not end the debate about the value of TFA. Its biggest fans seem to be the Walton Foundation, the Broad Foundation, and other foundations that want to support the proliferation of non-union charter schools with low costs and high teacher turnover. Walton gave $50 million to TFA; Broad collected $100 million from a group of foundations for TFA. And Arne Duncan gave TFA $50 million. TFA’s special contributions to American education, it appears, are to staff non-union charter schools and to demonstrate that teaching is not a profession.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 127,699 other followers