Archives for category: Unions

The Wall Street-backed charter lobby spent more last year than unions and won’t he support of Governor Cuomo and the Legislature to expand and get Néw York City to offer free space or pay the rent for charters.

“Charter school groups and their supporters spent $16 million on lobbying, campaign contributions to state-level candidates and parties and independent expenditure campaigns last year. Charter schools spent nearly $700,000 on lobbying. Education unions and labor-funded advocates spent $11.77 million, according to the analysis.

“Additionally, large school districts and stakeholder groups representing school boards spent $922,193. An advocacy group pushing a generous tax credit that would incentivize donations to schools spent $659,404.

“In defending their spending and high-profile backers, education reform leaders have often portrayed teachers’ unions as deep-pocketed behemoths representing special interests. But the spending reality is that in 2014, the pro-charter and reform groups outspent unions by a considerable margin….

“What’s striking in these numbers is that a few dozen Wall Street financiers and billionaire hedge fund managers are able to far outspend more than 600,000 educators who believe in the promise of public education and voluntarily give a few bucks out of each paycheck to ensure they have a voice,” said Carl Korn, NYSUT’s spokesman.”

Governor Cuomo appeared in Utica, Néw York. About 65 teachers and parents demonstrated outside as he held a press conference.

“Dozens of teachers and parents, carried signs in protest of the governor’s education policies, loudly chanting, “Cuomo’s plan has got to go!” outside MVCC.

“The teachers’ union is going to yell at me. I know. But that’s the only way you make change,” said the governor during his presentation.”

Here is Cuomo’s syllogism:

“All teachers’ unions are bad (they didn’t endorse my re-election)

All teachers in Néw York are union members

Therefore all teachers are bad”

Watch the fascinating video embedded in this blog post from Buffalo, New York. Kevin Gibson, the Secretary of the Buffalo Teachers Federation gets up to speak. Board member Larry Quinn (yes, the same board member who was texting as a high school student was speaking at a recent meeting) waves to a police officer and has Gibson escorted out of the Board room. He was not allowed to speak. Democracy in action. Under what interpretation is a representative of the district’s teachers barred from testifying at a public hearing of the Board of Education?

Mike Klonsky reviews Governor Bruce Rauner’s dream: a state with no unions and more charters.

“Gov. Rauner used yesterday’s State of the State speech to officially declare war on the state’s working people and on public schools. His first order of business was calling for Illinois to join states like Mississippi and Alabama as union-free zones and for the banning of political contributions from teachers and other public employee unions. He then promised to cut workers’ comp, unemployment benefits and to push for more privately run charter schools.”

Mike points out that Gov. Rauner can’t pass any legislation without Democratic support since both houses of the Legislature are controlled by Democrats. Mike’s not sure which way they will go.

Thanks to reader GST for bringing this important story to our attention: a court in Pennsylvania ruled that the School Reform Commission may not cancel the contract of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. This is a battle that has gone on for two years, as the unelected School Reform Commission looks for ways to cut the budget. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia schools are suffering from former Governor Tom Corbett’s deep budget cuts, and the Legislature has refused to fulfill its responsibility to the children of Philadelphia.

 

Commonwealth Court judges have handed a win to the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, ruling that the School Reform Commission cannot throw out the teachers’ union’s contract and impose new terms.

 

The decision was confirmed by Jerry Jordan, PFT president, on Thursday morning.

 

“This is a very big victory,” Jordan said.

 

After nearly two years of negotiations, the district had moved on Oct. 6 to cancel the teachers’ contract and impose health-benefits changes that would save the cash-strapped system $54 million annually, officials said.
In the decision, judges said that neither the state Public School Code nor the Legislature have expressly given the SRC the power to cancel its teachers’ contract.

 

“This Court is cognizant of the dire financial situation which the Districtcurrently faces and the SRC’s extensive efforts to achieve the overall goal of properlyand adequately meeting the educational needs of the students,” Judge Patricia A. McCullough wrote for the court. “There have been numerous difficult decisions that the SRC has been forced to make in an effort to overcome these economic hurdles, including a one-third reduction in staff and theclosing of 31 schools in recent years.”

 

But the law does not give the SRC the power to cancel a collective bargaining agreement.
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/school_files/District-cant-impose-contract-court-rules.html#GVqP31QcrCMOdFmZ.99

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, takes issue with Secretary Duncan in reauthorization of NCLB. Duncan said last week that annual testing was “a line in the sand,” that is, non-negotiable. This, of course, ignores the views if educators and parents, who SES how the testing obsession has harmed teaching and learning and narrowed the curriculum.

Randi on Secretary Duncan’s ESEA Reauthorization Remarks

WASHINGTON— Statement from American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten on Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s speech regarding the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

“As I’ve said before, any law that doesn’t address our biggest challenges—funding inequity, segregation, the effects of poverty—will fail to make the sweeping transformation our kids and our schools need. Today, it was promising to hear Secretary Duncan make a call for equity, stressing, as we did through the Equity and Excellence Commission, the importance of early childhood education and engaging curriculum. It was encouraging to hear him laud the hard work of educators, who have had to overcome polarization and deep cuts after a harsh recession. And it was heartening to hear him acknowledge the progress our schools have made. However, the robust progress we saw in the first 40 years after the passage of ESEA has slowed over the last 10 years.

“On testing, we are glad the secretary has acknowledged that ‘there are too many tests that take up too much time’ and that ‘we need to take action to support a better balance.’ However, current federal educational policy—No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top and waivers—has enshrined a focus on testing, not learning, especially high-stakes testing and the consequences and sanctions that flow from it. That’s wrong, and that’s why there is a clarion call for change. The waiver strategy and Race to the Top exacerbated the test-fixation that was put in place with NCLB, allowing sanctions and consequences to eclipse all else. From his words today, it seems the secretary may want to justify and enshrine that status quo and that’s worrisome.

“Yes, we need to get parents, educators and communities the information they need. And all of us must be accountable and responsible for helping all children succeed. That’s why we have suggested some new interventions, like community schools and wraparound services; project-based learning; service internships; and individual plans for over-age students, under-credited students and those who are not reading at grade level by third grade.

“If one test per year can cause an entire school to be shuttered or all the teachers fired, something is wrong with the way that test is being used. Even in the District of Columbia, where the secretary spoke from today, the school district has pulled back from the consequential nature of these tests.

“At the end of the day, the most important part of the debate shouldn’t happen in big speeches. It should happen in real conversations with parents, students and teachers, who are closest to the classroom. Communities understand the huge positive effect ESEA had for impoverished and at-risk communities 50 years ago. Those communities are saying loudly and clearly that they want more supports for students and schools, and data used to inform and improve, not sanction. It’s my hope that, in the coming weeks, leaders in Congress and the administration will listen to these voices and shape a law that reflects the needs of all our kids.”

Postscript: An advanced copy of Secretary Duncan’s remarks today included a quote from Albert Shanker, former president of the AFT, on accountability. To this, Weingarten responded, “If the secretary wants to invoke Shanker on accountability, then invoke him on his proposals for grade-span over annual testing. Shanker once called for ‘an immediate end to standardized tests as they are now,’ instead favoring testing over five-year intervals.”

###

Randi Weingarten

American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO

This is the NEA commentary on Congressional rewriting (reauthorization) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (aka NCLB).

NCLB is the name that President George W. Bush gave to ESEA. The federal law is supposed to be revised every seven years. NCLB was passed by Congress in the fall of 2001 and signed into law by President Bush on January 8, 2002. It is years overdue for reauthorization.
**********

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 12, 2015

NEA CALLS FOR MORE EQUAL OPPORTUNITY IN NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND REAUTHORIZATION
***

WASHINGTON—The National Education Association, the nation’s largest union with 3 million educators, has been a staunch critic of the failed No Child Left Behind system since its implementation more than 12 years ago. The following statement can be attributed to NEA President Lily Eskelsen García:

“We are pleased the Administration is calling for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. We all know that 12 years under a broken No Child Left Behind system has failed students and schools by neglecting to close the achievement and opportunity gaps as promised. Our students, especially those most in need, should not have to wait any longer.

“We are looking forward to working with Republicans, Democrats, the civil rights community, educators and other partners in ensuring that all students have equal educational opportunity—the original focus of ESEA. Our focus is on providing equal opportunity to every child so that they may be prepared for college and career. A child’s chances for success should not depend on living in the right zip code.

“In order to do this, we must reduce the emphasis on standardized tests that have corrupted the quality of the education received by children, especially those in high poverty areas. Parents and educators know that the one-size-fits-all annual federal testing structure has not worked. We support grade span testing to free up time and resources for students, diminish ‘teaching to the test,’ expand extracurricular activities, and allow educators to focus on what is most important: instilling a love of learning in their students. We must give states and districts the flexibility to use assessments they feel are best for identifying achievement gaps, rather than forcing them to live with a one-size-fits-all approach that often ignores high needs children.

“And we should move toward a smarter accountability system that looks at more than just a test score, but focuses on the many factors that are indicative of school and student success, and highlight gaps in equity that must be addressed.”

###

______________________

For their steadfastness, courage, and consistency in fighting a governor who hates not only unions but public education, I place the teachers of Wisconsin on this blog’s honor roll. Scott Walker is a model ALEC governor, ready to do whatever corporations want, while failing to care for the children of the state. If only he would listen to the teachers of Wisconsin instead of ALEC, the Koch brothers, and big corporations in pursuit of tax cuts, he could secure the future of his state.

 

The CapTimes wrote an editorial saluting Wisconsin’s valiant teachers’ unions, which have been under sustained attacks by Governor Scott Walker. The editorialist knows that Walker wants to privatize public education and that he had to demonize the teachers’ union and undermine their political power to reach his goal.

 

The editorial describes the teachers’ unions as “vital defenders of public education” and says:

 

In recent years, Republican presidential prospect Scott Walker has attacked Wisconsin’s public employees and teachers as part of a cynical political ploy to weaken critics of corporate overreach. Walker’s extremism has been supported extensively by out-of-state special interests that want to privatize public services and public education — so extensively that he has had considerable success. No one is going to deny that.

 

Despite the governor’s money power, however, Wisconsin is still making labor history.

 

Walker’s anti-union initiative sought to make it virtually impossible for organized labor to function in Wisconsin by, among other things, requiring that every public worker union in every workplace must go through a process of recertification every year. Walker’s Act 10 set up a complex process where elections must be organized among workers in every community and school district.

 

To remain as the recognized representatives of teachers and other school employees, for instance, local education associations must win a majority vote not just from the teachers and other employees participating in the election but from all teachers and other workers eligible to vote — whether they participate in the voting or not. Just imagine if corporations had to go through the whole process of reincorporating, issuing stock and setting up business operations every year and you will begin to get a sense of the roadblocks Walker and his out-of-state associates have erected to teacher unions in Wisconsin.

 

But Walker did not count on one thing.

 

Wisconsin teachers like and respect their unions enough to thwart Walker’s anti-labor strategies.

 

This fall, 305 local union organizations representing public school teachers, support staff, and custodial workers held recertification elections in school districts across the state. Despite everything that Walker has done to undermine them, more than 90 percent of the local unions were recertified. Indeed, according to the Wisconsin Education Association Council, 97 percent of its units that sought recertification won their elections.

 

The numbers are even more overwhelming for American Federation of Teachers union locals in Wisconsin.

 

“Since recertification elections began in 2011, every AFT-Wisconsin local union that has pursued recertification has won convincingly,” notes Kim Kohlhaas, an elementary school teacher in the Superior School District who serves as president of AFT-Wisconsin.

 

In many school districts, the numbers were overwhelming.

 

In Madison, where the Madison Teachers Inc. union has played a leading role in opposing Walker’s anti-labor agenda, the pro-recertification votes have been overwhelming.

 

The teachers want a collective voice. They have made that clear. Walker will continue to seek ways to silence their voice, so he can promote more charters and vouchers, more schools that welcome non-union, often inexperienced and underprepared teachers. Despite the wealth of research showing that neither charters nor vouchers outperform public schools in Wisconsin, Walker continues to try to destroy public education.

 

The CapTimes editorial concludes:

 

Of course, unions will remain under assault in Walker’s Wisconsin. But Walker is spending more and more of his time preparing to abandon Wisconsin and to begin a presidential run that is likely not just to embarrass the governor but also to expose his failures nationally and in Wisconsin. Eventually, Walker will be gone, and Wisconsin will again elect a governor who reflects the best of our values and our hopes….It is vitally important that, when Walker is gone, Wisconsin’s rich legacy of supporting public teachers and public education remains — along with the unions that fight to maintain that legacy.

Read more: http://host.madison.com/news/opinion/editorial/school-unions-vital-defenders-of-public-education/article_8937ca68-81f5-5ab2-a806-3660964e5621.html#ixzz3KwuRSniV

 

 

This article in Jacobin magazine describes the astonishing victory of the Massachusetts Teachers Association in a recent confrontation with the state board of education and the state commissioner. The state commissioner floated a proposal to remove teachers’ licenses if they failed their evaluation, a draconian step that would bar the teacher from teaching in the state in the future. The MTA, under the leadership of recently elected president Barbara Madeloni, informed its members, mobilized the membership, and refused to negotiate this draconian and punitive plan. The MTA did not want a seat at the table; they knew the members were on the menu.

 

It was not always this way. Not long ago, the union negotiated with the anti-union “reform” group called Stand for Children and bargained away some of their rights to avoid something worse. They dared not be militant.

 

This time, the teachers of Massachusetts under bold leadership were militant and well organized, and they won. That is the only way to stop the destructive reformers. Not by meeting them half way. Not by giving them half a loaf; they will be back for more. Stand up to them and fight against their efforts to destroy the teaching profession, to destroy teacher unionism, and to destroy public education.

As the previous post shows, the Education Justice Center declared that Nevada has one of the worst funded and most inequitable school systems in the nation. However, the new Republican majority in the State Legislature has a new agenda that does not involve funding:

School prayer. The right to carry weapons on college campuses. End collective bargaining. Vouchers. Merit pay. Firing “bad” teachers. The new majority doesn’t like unions because teachers get too much money and that causes budget problems. Probably the legislators figure if they pay teachers less, they can recruit better teachers. The Governor wants vouchers, but he would have to get the voters’ approval to change the state constitution. Voters have never approved vouchers in any state, so legislators will probably come up with “opportunity scholarships” to subsidize private school tuition.

 

 

Assemblyman Jim Wheeler, R-Minden, said that without question improving public education is the top priority of the caucus.

“We will see what the governor wants to do,” he said. “He leads our party and our state. Parental choice is the biggest issue but not the only one. We need to reward good teachers and get rid of bad teachers. We need to see if we can streamline school district administration.

“Obviously throwing money at it isn’t working,” Wheeler said. “We need parental involvement.”

Wheeler has requested a school prayer bill, and said the motivation is to ensure that students are not punished for engaging in prayer, such as making the sign of the cross after a touchdown in a high school football game.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 127,443 other followers