Archives for category: Class size

California Sunday Magazine published interviews with teachers about their role in striking, walking out, negotiating, bargaining.

It begins:

On February 22, 2018, some 20,000 teachers in West Virginia — many of them wearing red in solidarity — walked out of their classrooms. That April saw strikes in Arizona, Colorado, and Oklahoma, as teachers vented their collective frustration in what became known as the #RedforEd movement. In early 2019, educators picketed in Oakland and Los Angeles, in districts across Washington state and Oregon, and again in Colorado. And this fall, educators in Chicago, the nation’s third-largest school district, took to the streets.

After years of system-wide underinvestment, educators are pushing back hard. They have married concerns about pay with their ability to adequately educate students . They have made a few gains — one or two fewer students in their overcrowded classes and significant raises in some cases. But many still see a long way to go, and as another election ramps up, the public will have to decide how much these issues matter. In these pages, we hear from teachers who made the decision to walk the picket lines and others who decided to stay put.

Angie Sullivan regularly writes blast emails to every member of the state legislature and to the state’s journalists. Here is her latest:

CCEA members voted at a General Meeting yesterday to raise dues.  
Those teacher union dues will be used to campaign for a billion dollars.  
Yes, billion. 
Yes, dollars.  
We need to think big to win big.  
Teachers need those funds to fund class-size reduction.   We need additional teachers.   We need additional classrooms. 
Nevada teachers have the largest class-sizes in the nation.  
It is not reasonable to keep piling more and more students into small spaces.  
Our eye is on the 2021 Nevada Legislative Session.  We will get a billion dollars for kids.   
We demand political will to take care of kids.  
Here we come. 
#Fight4Kids #Billion4Kids
#NVed #NVTeach #Nevada #Vegas
The Teacher MotherJonesing,
Angie. 

New York City’s Department of Education launched a new initiative with old and failed ideas: more testing for schools with low scores.

Liat Olenick, a teacher of science in elementary school in the city, explains why more testing is a very bad idea. She says smaller classes would be far more valuable and effective.

Wow! Talk about a surprise! Teacher Glenn Sacks managed to get an article with the title of this post in the Wall Street Journal, the newspaper that regularly vilifies teachers’ unions and praises privatization of public funds.

Yes, Sacks–a teacher in Los Angeles–contends that teachers’ unions fight to get teachers the time and support staff they need to do their jobs, so they are necessary and valuable.

The link that Sacks provided is not behind a pay wall.

The article begins:

The rookie science teacher looks at me with the same “Am I understanding this job correctly or am I crazy?” look I’ve often seen in the eyes of new teachers.

“No, you understand,” I say. “You’ve been thrown into a situation that requires an enormous amount of work and a good amount of ability, and it’s sink or swim. You might naturally expect the system to help you, or at least acknowledge the position you’ve been put in. It won’t.”

Teachers have come under considerable scrutiny in recent decades, and everybody claims to have the silver-bullet reform that will fix education. No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, Common Core, charter schools, raising the qualifications to become a teacher, limiting or abolishing tenure, and countless other measures have been taken up by Congress and state legislatures since I took my first teaching position in 1989.

Yet there is little public discussion about the education system’s central problem: Teachers don’t have enough time to do our jobs properly. Teachers unions understand this and fight to protect our ability to do our jobs.

He points out that some students can be assessed more accurately with an oral exam that with a written one, but teachers don’t have the time for that.

He writes:

Here are some ways to make teachers more effective:

  • Reduce class sizes, an issue in both the October teachers’ strike in Chicago and the Los Angeles teachers’ strike in January.
  • Provide teachers with support staff for clerical work.
  • Hire sufficient staff to eliminate extraneous chores.

Limiting class size and hiring sufficient staff would save teachers’ time from being squandered. That in turn would allow us to focus more on creating imaginative lessons and interacting with students.

Seeing Glenn Sacks’ article in the WSJ gives me hope that some people in the business world might read it and pay attention.

If they do, they will understand what real education reform looks like from the perspective of those who do the work, rather than those who sit in armchairs in think tanks.

 

Jan Resseger explains the history and context of the truly historic teachers’ strike in Chicago that recently ended. She explains it with clarity, as only Jan can do.

This was not a strike for higher salaries. The mayor offered a 16% increase before the strike began, and that is what the Chicago Teachers Union accepted.

This was a strike for students. This was a strike to reverse a quarter-century of disinvestment by Mayors Richard Daley and Rahm Emanuel.

This was a strike against 25 years of austerity in a booming city that had billions for developers but nothing for students and schools.

This was a strike against corporate reform, which starved the public schools for the benefit of charter schools.

This was a historic strike. To understand why, read this post.

The CTU reached a tentative agreement with Chicago Public Schools. The CTU House of Delegates voted 364-242 to suspend the strike pending resolution of final issues. The settlement, which meets most of the CTU demands, will be voted on by the full membership within 10 days.

But the strike is not yet over. The sides are very close but the union wants an assurance that there will be no loss of instructional time for the students. They want to make up the instructional time, possibly by extending the school year. Thus far, Mayor Lightfoot says no.

The union made no concessions. For the first time ever, they have won enforceable guarantees about class sizes, though the agreed-upon limits are still too large: no more than 32 students in K-3. No more than 35 in upper grades. $35 million has been pledged for class size reductions, which will be lowered as funding permits. The agreement commits the city not to authorize any new charters, nor add to the current enrollment of students in charter schools.

No school tomorrow while the bargaining continues.

The settlement contains not only caps on class sizes, but guarantees about school nurses, and other important staffing issues. It also offers significant salary increases, which was not a contentious issue. The union really did fight for better conditions for their students. .

The Big Three—Governor Pritzker, the Democrats in the Legislature and House Speaker Madigan— have agreed to restore a democratically elected board to replace mayoral control and to restore full collective bargaining rights so Chicago is on the same footing as other districts in Illinois.

Now we wait to see how long it will take to assure that the students do not lose instructional time.

 

 

 

 

From the Chicago Teachers Union:

 

For ten months we had absolutely no progress on key proposals. After only two strike days, we have seen considerable movement and crucial openings on issues such as homeless students, class sizes, staffing and other key issues that the mayor told us would not be open for bargaining. Today, we got a tentative agreement for specific staff positions to support Students in Temporary Living Situations (students who qualify as homeless). For Pre-Kindergarten classes, we won contractual guarantees that CPS will follow Illinois law in maintaining a ratio of 1 adult for every 10 students in a Pre-K classroom. We also won guaranteed naps for preschoolers in all-day pre-K programs. We won language that counselors will not be pulled from counseling to do other duties such as substitute teaching in a classroom. This will lead to greater counselor access for our students.

We also brought CPS a new counter-offer on class size, today. We need guaranteed caps on class sizes and we continue to fight for them. There are still many open issues, including prep time and steps for veteran teachers, as well as a raise capable of moving our lowest-paid paraprofessionals above poverty wages.

Our gains have only been possible thanks to the strength of our picket lines, the turnout at our afternoon protests and the support we’ve gotten from students, parents and community members. Keep it up!

Pickets Monday at 6:30am

Although we made progress over the weekend on important issues, this strike will need to continue Monday. Like Thursday and Friday, all CTU members are directed to picket at their schools, starting at 6:30 a.m. Although different schools have different start times, it’s important that our union operate as one. Keep talking to parents, students and community members about what we’re fighting for. Despite the expected rain, we need to keep up our strength to win what’s best for our schools and our students. Dress for rain, bring umbrellas and boots. Take turns coming inside. But keep those picket lines strong from 6:30 to 10:30!

Regional unity marches

In a number of neighborhoods, educators at schools near one another are coming together for particular actions tomorrow.

Southwest Side

CTU strikers will line Pulaski from Archer to 111th from 8:00am to 9:00am. Contact Organizing@ctulocal1.org for more information.

Hyde Park

Hyde Park “Nurse in Every School” Solidarity March for Justice

CTU, SEIU, National Nurses United and Graduate Students United at University of Chicago are combining forces to put muscle behind our call for adequate and equitable nurse staffing. Marches will start at area schools between 8:45 and 9:00 am and converge on Kenwood Academy at 9:45am.

You can email Michael Shea of Kenwood Academy for more information and coordination.

North Side

Striking CTU and SEIU members on the north side will be enacting a solidarity action down Addison Street from Broadway to the expressway Monday at 8:00 am. Participating schools currently include Disney 1, Greeley, InterAmerican, Nettlehorst, Hawthorne, Blaine, Lakeview, Hamilton, Jahn, Burley, Audubon, Coonley, Bell, Lane Tech, Linne, Cleveland, Henry, Disney II, Murphy, and Belden.

March at 2:00pm at Union Park

Our afternoon rallies have been incredibly effective in demonstrating our unity and the sheer scale of what we are fighting for. Keep coming!

Monday, we will march from Union Park, at the corner of Washington and Ogden. The location is accessible from the Green Line Ashland stop and by bus (Ashland, Ogden, etc.).

Afternoon Allied Actions

Raise Chicago Coalition

Youth will hold an action at City Hall at 1:00 p.m. to highlight the need for $15 per hour minimum wage AND the need for a fair contract that enshrines the resources schools need to combat things like overcrowded classrooms and housing issues.

Resist, Reimagine, Rebuild Coalition

The R3 coalition will host a Teach-In for Strikers so that they may learn about community based struggles that support and intersect with teachers demands for education justice. It will be held at Experimental Station (6100 S Blackstone) from 12:00 to 3:00 pm.

Art Build

The Grassroots Collaborative will be setting up an art build at the CTU Center Monday night from 5:00 to 8:00 pm to create signs and props for colorful and impactful actions later this week.

Image adapted by Jesus Sanchez of Social Justice HS from Are You Ready to Play Outside? by Mo Willems.

Day 2 of CTU strike will bring educators, allies to City Hall at 1:30 pm

Some movement at bargaining table Thursday, but no agreement on special ed needs, classroom overcrowding, salary floor for low-wage teaching assistants, staffing shortages.

CHICAGO—Educators and frontline staff will hit the picket lines for a second day today, as rank and file union members attempt to bargain a fair contract for 25,000 CTU teachers, clinicians, teaching assistants and support staff. While some progress was made at the bargaining table Thursday, the union and CPS ramain far apart on efforts to reign in exploding class sizes and find a path to remedying dire shortages of school nurses, social workers, special education teachers and other critical staff.

Late this afternoon, CPS refused to discuss a proposal on special education needs with the expert special education teachers and clinicians at the table who had crafted the proposal, because not every CTU officer was present. The CTU’s 40+ member rank and file bargaining team must sign off on any tentative agreement to be sent to members for approval.

Today’s schedule: Thursday, Oct. 17

 

  • 1:30 p.m.: Mass rally and march, City Hall, 121 N. LaSalle St. with CTU rank and file, grassroots community groups, CTU officers, elected officials, allies.

Fast facts:

  • The State’s new equity-based school funding formula is sending a billion-plus additional dollars each year to CPS to reduce sizes of chronically overcrowded classes, support students in poverty and increase services to special education students and English language learners.
  • CPS passed the largest budget in its history this year: $7.7 billion. Yet CPS cut the amount of dollars it is spending in school communities this year.
  • Juarez High School in Pilsen, which enrolls over 1,300 overwhelmingly low-income Latinx students, saw its school budget cut this year by $840,000, costing the school nine teaching and staff positions.
  • CPS cut the budgets of more than 200 CPS schools by at least $100,000, and cut the budgets of more than 40 schools by more than half a million dollars for this school year.
  • CTU educators are fighting for better wages, smaller class sizes, adequate staffing, and educational justice for students and their families. They want the additional state revenue CPS receives to increase equity to go to school communities and student needs.
  • Almost half of CPS’ students are Latinx. Yet the district has acute shortages of ELL teachers—teachers for English language learners—and is severely short of bilingual social workers. Bilingual education services are chronically short of both educators and resources—a key issue at the bargaining table.
  • CPS is desperately short of school nurses, social workers, librarians, special education teachers, ELL teachers and more. CPS has staffing ratios three to five times higher than those recommended by national professional organizations and best practices. Fewer than 115 school nurses serve over 500 schools. Most schools have a nurse only one day a week.
  • One out of four schools has a librarian—and that number falls to barely one in ten for Black-majority schools. A decade ago, most schools had a librarian.
  • CPS is desperately short of social workers and special education teachers, even as CPS is under the oversight of a state monitor for shortchanging its diverse learners.
  • This year, more than 1,300 CPS classes are overcrowded under CPS’ own high class caps, up from more than a thousand overcrowded classrooms last year.
  • Almost 25% of elementary students attend overcrowded classes, with some kindergarten classes topping 40 students. Roughly 35% of high school students are enrolled in overcrowded classes; at schools like Simeon, virtually every core class is overcrowded, with math, social studies and world language classes topping 39 students.
  • The CTU’s school clerks and teaching assistants earn wages as low as $28,000/year—so low the children of two-thirds qualify for free and reduced lunch under federal poverty guidelines. Over 1,100 cannot afford to rent a two-bedroom apartment at prevailing rent rates in ANY zip code in the city. In year 5 of the mayor’s proposed contract, most of those workers would still be earning poverty wages. And in the last ten years, NO CTU member’s wages have kept pace with the inflation rate.
  • Candidate Lightfoot ran on a platform calling for equity and educational justice—including a nurse, a social worker and a librarian in every school—all proposals her negotiating team has rejected at the table. She also ran in support of an elected, representative school board—but moved to stall that legislation in the Illinois Senate after she was elected.
  • CPS has said it has budgeted to improve staffing shortages, but refuses to put those commitments in writing in an enforceable contract. The union wants those promises in writing, in an enforceable contract—the only way we have to hold CPS and the 5th floor to their promises.

 

Here is news you can use! Carol Burris and Leonie Haimson now have a regular one-hour radio show on WBAI In New York. The show is called TALK OUT OF SCHOOL, and it will appear weekly. WBAI is part of the progressive Pacifica Network.

In their first show, they discussed student privacy, a subject on which Leonie is a national advocate and expert, and they analyzed current controversies about diversity, selective admissions, and racial integration, a subject where Carol has extensive experience as principal of a detracked high school on Long Island.

Leonie is executive director of Class Size Matters and co-founder of the national Parent Coalition for Student Privacy. Carol is executive director of the Network for Public Education.

Next week, Leonie will interview civil rights attorney Wendy Lecker.

Of this you can be certain, this show will be a place to hear talk that is characterized by experience, common sense, and wisdom.

 

 

 

Domingo Morel is a scholar of state takeovers. He wrote a book called Takeover:  Race, Education, and American Democracy. He was also a member of the team from Johns Hopkins that studied the problems of the Providence schools. And, what’s more, he is a graduate of the Providence public schools.

In other words, he has solid credentials to speak about the future of the Providence public schools. The schools are already under mayoral control, so discount that magic bullet that reformers usually prefer.

He knows from his study of state takeovers that they do not address root causes of school dysfunction.

Consider this:

As a scholar of state takeovers of school districts, I have seen how communities desperate to improve their schools placed their hopes in state takeovers, only to be disappointed. While the long-term effects of takeovers on student achievement often fail to meet expectations, the effects on community engagement are devastating. In most takeovers, states remove local entities — school boards, administrators, teachers, parents and community organizations — from decision-making about their schools.

Those who have read the Johns Hopkins report are aware that the absence of community engagement is a major issue in the Providence Schools. Demographic differences are a major reason. Students of color represent more than 85% of the student population and English Language Learners represent nearly 30%, while more than 80% of the teachers are white. These differences are not trivial…

To help cultivate community engagement, the state could partner with a collective of community organizations, including Parents Leading for Educational Equity, ProvParents, the Equity Institute, the Latino Policy Institute, CYCLE and the Providence Student Union, which have come together over concerns with the Providence schools.

Finally, state officials should examine their role in contributing to the current conditions in Providence. State funding, particularly to support English Language Learners and facilities, has been inadequate. In addition, the absence of a pipeline for teachers of color is a state failure.

What a surprising set of recommendations: increase the pipeline of teachers of color. Build community engagement. Work with community organizations. Increase state funding.

He might also have added: Reduce class sizes. Provide wraparound services for students and adults. Open health clinics for families in the schools or communities. Improve and increase early childhood education. Beef up arts education and performance spaces in every school.

It takes a village, not a flock of hedge fund managers or a passel of fly-by billionaires hawking charter schools.