Archives for category: Teachers

Oklahoma State Superintendent Ryan Walters seems to have absorbed all his talking points from ALEC, the rightwing bill mill or he may just be trying to duplicate whatever Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is doing. All the talking points are there about critical race theory, “diversity, equity, and inclusion,” the “science of reading,” the fear of students turning transgender or being recognized as such, the readiness to censor anything that mentions sexuality or gender, and of course, vouchers for home schoolers and religious schools.

Superintendent Walters adds another item to his “reform” agenda: pay for performance, which has been tried for a century and never worked anywhere. It is hard to find an educational program that has been more thoroughly discredited, especially in the past dozen years. Performance these days equals test scores, and the teachers in the most affluent schools always come out in top, while those who teach the most vulnerable children are always on the bottom. No need to reinvent that broken wheel. Even Republican legislators know instinctively that “performance,” defined as test scores favors those in the whitest, most advantaged schools.

John Thompson, historian and former teacher, writes:

Last week, rightwing Oklahoma Secretary of Education Ryan Walters tried to “Shove ‘Choice’ Down the Throats of Unwilling Schools and Parents,” but he received serious pushback by influential Republicans for ignoring legislative norms in budget-making. This week, Walters’ revealed more of his plans to divide and conquer public schools, while ramping up the stakes for educators who don’t comply with ambiguous and weird mandates. The response by numerous Republicans, however, seems to indicate that a bipartisan effort against Walters’ and Gov. Kevin Stitt’s extremism is growing.

Walters started the Board of Education meeting, where his budget was presented with a prayer, which included a “reference to his school choice goals.” He then condemned “a loud and vocal crowd, a minority for sure, that say that all that is needed to fix the problems in education is to toss more money and to leave everything alone.” Walters then promised:

“There will be school choice. We will ensure that indoctrination and CRT (critical race theory) are eliminated in our state. We will also make sure that our kids are safe. There will be no boys in the girls bathrooms. There will be no pornography in our schools. We will make sure all of our vendors and the schools are focused on education and not diversity, equity and inclusion.”

Then, Walters met with rural superintendents in Atoka, the home of the Republican Speaker of the House Charles McCall, who has opposed voucher expansion. Walters explained that his “incentive pay plan that would reward a select few highly rated teachers in each school with up to $10,000 on top of their salaries.”

Walters then complained that:

“Tulsa has done so poor that if you took Tulsa Public Schools out of what we’re doing, we’re in the top half nationally. If you take Tulsa and OKC out, we’re in the top 15.”

So, the Tulsa World reported that Walters said:

“He would be open to pushing for Tulsa Public Schools to be broken up into smaller schools because of academic results there he says are dismal and parents who complain they are locked in because they can’t afford private school tuition and suburban schools bursting at the seams.”

At the same time, Walters’ allies are revealing more options for punishing educators who don’t comply with confusing mandates. While Walters seems to be backing off from his suggestion that all federal education funds be rejected, Sen. David Bullard filed a bill to “develop a ten-year plan to phase out the acceptance and use of federal funds for the support of K-12 education.” Sen. Shane Jett would “add seven more prohibited topics to House Bill 1775, which bans eight race and gender concepts from K-12 schools.” Jett and Rep. Terry O’Donnell seek to ban “teaching about sexual orientation and gender identity to elementary-age children,” And Jett “would outlaw any school policies that respect or promote ‘self-asserted sex-based identity narratives,’” as well as hosting “drag queen story time.”

Moreover, Sen. Cody Rogers “would prohibit school employees from calling students by names or pronouns that differ from the students’ birth certificates, unless having received written consent from the child’s parent.” Rep. Danny Williams would completely ban sex education from public schools.

Then, it was learned, Walters fired the Oklahoma State Department of Education’s Assistant general counsel Lori Murphy. The veteran attorney was “known for her support of transgender people and objections to the state’s rulemaking on classroom race and gender discussions.”

And the Tulsa World reported, the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education responded to Walters’ “urgent request” to audit spending on diversity, equity and inclusion, or DEI, programs. The Regents, “scrambled hundreds of employees to compile a 10-year review of its spending history on and current materials used for … DEI programs.” They found that DEI spending was “a third of 1%” of the budget.

But, on the eve of submitting his budget to the legislature, Walters, as well as his ally Gov. Stitt, faced more bad news. As the Oklahoman reports, Attorney General Gentner Drummond, who defeated Stitt’s appointee, John O’Conner, announced an “investigation into misspent education funds” which “hung over the state Capitol on Wednesday.” As an investigation by Oklahoma Watch and The Frontier found, Connors’ lawsuit led “some critics to question whether the lawsuit was an honest attempt to recoup the funds.” Consequently, The Oklahoman reported, “some high-ranking lawmakers appeared hesitant to heed funding requests from Oklahoma’s new state superintendent because of his alleged part in the controversy.” The reason was it was “a mix of Walters’s and Gov. Kevin Stitt’s staff, not a state agency [that] was overseeing the program.”

The Republican Chair of the House Appropriations and Budget subcommittee for Education, Mark McBride, said (and Speaker Charles McCall confirmed) he had been authorized to investigate the lawsuit, and was wrong in not doing so. But now, as Nondoc reports, A.G. Drummond said he “would pursue accountability for state officials, potentially including Walters owing to his prior role as director of an organization tasked with dispersing the funds.” (for what it’s worth McCall, a likely candidate for governor, attended the budget presentation.)

The Tulsa World added that Stitt had blamed the parent company of ClassWallet for the “unflattering audit of federal pandemic relief funds under Stitt’s control.” But, the audit was critical of how the Stitt administration spent $31 million to provide pandemic relief for students’ educational needs.”

Nondoc further explained that Walters’ presentation to the committee “took the opportunity with some of the lawmakers’ questions to expound on campaign rhetoric, including addressing questions regarding his ‘liberal indoctrination’ comments and past declarations to get federal funding out of Oklahoma public education.” And, his two-point plan, funding “science of reading” and pay-for-performance, drew plenty of criticism.

Republican Rhonda Baker, chair of the Common Education Committee, told Walters, “We have, as a legislative body, voted on the science of reading.” She added, “We’ve been very supportive of that, and we have made sure that there has been funding for that, so none of that is new. What is challenging, though, … is that we are not keeping teachers.”

Moreover, Democrat Rep. Andy Fugate said Walters performance pay plan would backfire by drawing teachers away from high-challenge schools and finding schools where “it’s easiest to teach.” Similarly, McBride said:

“Merit pay, I’m OK with it if you work in the oil field or some industry, but in education I just don’t see it working. … If you’ve got a classroom of troubled youth, how do you compare that to the classroom over here where the teacher’s got all the A and B students? It’s just almost impossible to me to evaluate that.”

I’ve heard mixed appraisals as to whether Walters really believes his own words. Regardless, as his ideology-driven claims become more extreme, it seems more likely that there will be more bipartisan pushback against Walters, Stitt, and MAGA true-believers. And, who knows, maybe it will open the door to Republican Adam Pugh’s bill, based on discussions with hundreds of superintendents and education leaders and over a thousand educators, that “would spend $241 million on teacher pay raises, guarantee 12 weeks of maternity leave for teachers and offer $15 million in scholarships to future educators who pledge to work in high-poverty schools,” while bestowing respect on teachers.

Andy Beshear was elected Governor of Kentucky in 2019 against Matt Bevin, a hard-right Republican who supported charters and vouchers and fought to reorganize teachers’ pension fund. Beshear, who was State Attorney General, successfully blocked Bevin’s efforts to harm teachers’ pensions.

Andy Beshear is the son of a Kentucky Governor, Steve Beshear (Governor from 2007-2015), and a graduate of Henry Clay High School in Lexington. Andy ran on a program championing public schools. He chose a teacher, Jacqueline Coleman, as his running mate.

Beshear narrowly beat Bevin, and he and Coleman are the only elected Democrats at the state level (remember, Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul are Kentucky’s Senators).

He is running for re-election this year. He leads the polls over all his GOP competitors. His favorability rating is about 60%.

Last year, the legislature passed a bill to authorize charter schools. Governor Beshear vetoed it.

Please listen to his message when he vetoed it.

This is how Democrats win election. By speaking to the 85-90% of people whose children are in public schools and to the 90% who graduated public schools. They want better schools. They like their schools and their teachers. Andy Beshear knows it.

Jan Resseger understands that legislators don’t know what teachers do all day. This ignorance enables them to echo outlandish insults about teachers and to write laws to solve non-existent problems. Legislators need to spend time in their local public schools to inform themselves and dispel the myths.

She writes:

Political attacks on teachers seem to be everywhere. Fanatical critics charge that teachers destroy white children’s self esteem by honestly acknowledging racism, and worse, they accuse teachers of “grooming” children. Public schoolteachers are the collateral damage in a widespread political campaign to discredit public schooling and promote privatization. As the new year begins, I have been grateful to prominent news commentators for calling out the scapegoating of schoolteachers.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer’s retired editorial page director, Brent Larkin devoted a weekly column to exploring what’s been happening in Ohio politics: “A large number of odious types in elected life are so obsessed with demonizing public schoolteachers that it interferes with these legislators’ ability to deal with real problems.” Larkin quotes Scott DiMauro, president of the Ohio Education Association: “When you have people deliberately fostering distrust, it has a devastating impact on educator morale… There are just so many challenges in terms of inequity of resources, discipline, poverty and culture-war attacks that have been very deliberately orchestrated by people on the right.'” Larkin concludes: “Great teachers are to be treasured. The way they’re treated speaks volumes about where we’re headed.”

The Washington Post’s culture critic, Robin Givhan wonders: “Who will remain when educators tire of picking their way through a political obstacle course of ginned-up outrage over bathrooms and manufactured controversies about racial justice?… Who will educate children when teachers finally become fed up with dodging bullets—or taking bullets—in service to someone else’s child?… It’s no secret that they’re underpaid for all the duties they perform… The United States has lost 370,000 teachers since the start of the pandemic… Critics have been punishing a them from all sides. The country asks public school teachers to carry this nation’s future on their backs, and then we force them to walk through a field of land mines.”

John Merrow, the retired education reporter for the PBS NewsHour recently wrote: “According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, teachers are about three times as likely as other U.S. workers to moonlight… However, if you factor in part-time jobs within the school system, like coaching, teaching evening classes, or even driving a school bus, then an astonishing 59% of teachers are working part-time to supplement what they earn as full time teachers, according to the Economic Policy Institute… Teacher salaries have not kept up with inflation… and according to Education Week, ‘Teachers are also working under a ‘pay penalty,’ an economic concept meaning they earn lower weekly wages and receive lower overall compensation for their work than similar college-educated peers…'”

Data confirm Merrow’s concerns. In last summer’s most recent report from the Economic Policy Institute on the need to raise teachers’ salaries, Sylvia Allegretto reported the serious and growing disparity in the wages for teachers and other comparably educated college graduates: “Inflation-adjusted average weekly wages of teachers have been relatively flat since 1996. The average weekly wages of public school teachers (adjusted only for inflation) increased just $29 from 1996 to 2021, from $1,319 to $1,348 (in 2021 dollars). In contrast, inflation-adjusted weekly wages of other college graduates rose from $1,564 to $2,009 over the same period—a $445 increase.”

Bloomberg adds that one consequence of low pay on top of a barrage of controversy about what and how teachers teach is the growing shortage of teachers: “Overall, the U.S. job market ended 2022 at a near record for growth but one area in particular underscores how some parts of the economy still lag far behind pre-pandemic levels… The slow crawl is largely due to one industry—education—making up more than half of the jobs lost… (T)here has been a mass exodus of educators, leaving school districts with mounting vacancies to fill.”

There is clearly a tragic disconnect between the needs of America’s public schools and the resources legislators across the states are providing. Why? Part of the cause, of course, is the ideologically driven campaign the news commentators have noticed. Far right groups like the Bradley Foundation, EdChoice, Americans for Prosperity and the Goldwater Institute are pursuing a lavishly funded lobbying campaign—with model laws written and distributed by the American Legislative Exchange Council—to encourage legislators to privatize the whole educational enterprise.

Something else, however, has made our legislators increasingly susceptible to the ideology of the lobbyists and school privatizers. For several hours in December, as I watched a televised hearing of the Ohio House Education Committee, I was struck by so many lawmakers who seemed to define the role of teachers as mechanical producers of standardized test scores—and who conceptualize schools as merely an assembly line turning out workers who will help attract business and manufacturing to Ohio. I listened to a conversation filled with standardized test scores—numbers, percentages, and supposed trends measured by numbers. The only time human beings appeared in the discussion of education was when legislators blamed teachers for the numbers. It is not surprising that the same Ohio legislators are trying to transform the Ohio Department of Education into a new Department of Education and the Workforce.

In Ohio and across every state, aggregate standardized test scores dropped during the school closures and remote learning during COVID-19, but as I watched the televised hearing, the legislators seemed furious that teachers had not quickly come up with a different set of test-score production methods and turned the scores around. They seemed to believe that teachers should have been able to erase students’ emotional struggles during the return to schooling after COVID disruptions. Several declared that putting the governor in charge of education would take care of the problem and make teachers accountable.

As I watched the hearing, I realized again something that I already knew: Many of the people who make public education policy at the state level don’t know what teachers do. Few people on that committee seemed to grasp that teaching school is a complex and difficult job.

Watching the members of the Ohio House of Representatives discuss their concerns about our public schools made me think about David Berliner’s description of teaching. Berliner is Regents’ Professor of Education, Emeritus, at Arizona State University. He has also taught at the Universities of Arizona and Massachusetts, at Teachers College and Stanford University. Berliner comments on the human complexity of teaching as he contrasts the work of teachers and doctors:

“A physician usually works with one patient at a time, while a teacher serves 25, 30 or in places like Los Angeles and other large cities, they may be serving 35 or more youngsters simultaneously. Many of these students don’t speak English well. Typically anywhere from 5-15% will show emotional and/or cognitive disabilities. Most are poor, and many reside in single parent families… Many patients seek out their physicians, choosing to be in their office. On the other hand, many students seek to be out-of-class…. I always wonder how physicians would fare if 30 or so kids… showed up for medical treatment all at once, and then left 50 minutes later, healed or not! And suppose this chaotic scene was immediately followed by thirty or more different kids… also in need of personal attention. And they too stayed about 50 minutes…. Imagine waves of these patients hitting a physicians’ office five or six times a day!”

Berliner continues: “(T)eachers have been found to make about .7 decisions per minute during interactive teaching. Another researcher estimated that teachers’ decisions numbered about 1,500 per day. Decision fatigue is among the many reasons teachers are tired after what some critics call a short work day, forgetting or ignoring the enormous amount of time needed for preparation, for grading papers and homework, and for filling out bureaucratic forms and attending school meetings. In fact, it takes about 10 years for teachers to hit their maximum ability….”

Watching our legislators also made me think about the late Mike Rose’s definition of good teaching. Rose taught college students how to teach and he spent a good part of his career visiting classes to observe and document what excellent teachers do. Rose’s very best book, Possible Lives, is the story of his observations of excellent teaching as he spent three years observing public school classrooms across the United States: “Some of the teachers I visited were new, and some had taught for decades. Some organized their classrooms with desks in rows, and others turned their rooms into hives of activity. Some were real performers, and some were serious and proper. For all the variation, however, the classrooms shared certain qualities… The classrooms were safe. They provided physical safety…. but there was also safety from insult and diminishment…. Intimately related to safety is respect…. Talking about safety and respect leads to a consideration of authority…. A teacher’s authority came not just with age or with the role, but from multiple sources—knowing the subject, appreciating students’ backgrounds, and providing a safe and respectful space. And even in traditionally run classrooms, authority was distributed…. These classrooms, then, were places of expectation and responsibility…. Overall the students I talked to, from primary-grade children to graduating seniors, had the sense that their teachers had their best interests at heart and their classrooms were good places to be.”

I wish the people who make the laws which allocate and distribute state funding for public schools, were required to spend one day every year visiting a public school to watch what teachers do. In fact, I wish every state legislator were required to undertake the challenge of teaching in a public elementary, middle or high school for at least half of one school day every year.

The City of New York wants to cut the cost of health benefits to retirees. The unions support the cuts. This is hard to understand. Many retirees worked for decades at low salaries, assuaged by the guaranteed benefits after retirement. The United Federation of Teachers has taken a leading role in pushing members, active and retired, to switch from Medicare to a for-profit Medicare Advantage plan. Some retirees have fought back, knowing that not all doctors are part of a MA network and that they will have to get pre-approval for major care.

This article was written by veteran New York City Arthur Goldstein and published in the New York Daily News and reposted on Fred Klonsky’s blog.

I have a personal stake in this issue. I am on Medicare. My secondary is my wife’s union healthcare plan. She worked for 35 years as a public school teacher, principal, and administrator in New York City. In 2021 I had open heart surgery. Neither my referring cardiologist nor my cardiac surgeon are part of the city’s MA plan. The total bill for the surgery and a month in the hospital was over $800,000. Medicare paid almost everything and probably negotiated a lower price. The secondary picked up whatever Medicare didn’t pay. The surgery and rehab and six weeks of at-home care cost me $300. Seniors like me who face serious health issues stand to lose a lot if the city sand the union force them off Medicare and into a for-profit Medicare Advantage plan.

Arthur Goldstein wrote:

There was a joke in the movie “Sleeper” about how UFT President Albert Shanker started World War III. Our current union president, Michael Mulgrew, won’t be starting any wars. In fact, Mulgrew is now battling to have the city pay less toward our health care. What’s next? A strike for more work and less pay?

Union can be a powerful thing. It empowers working people. It raises pay for union workers, which tends to raise pay for non-union workers as well. Union enables weekends, child labor laws and workplace safety regulations. There are reasons why wealthy corporations fight us tooth and nail. Without union, they can hire Americans at minimum-wage with no benefits.

Mulgrew wants to move all city retirees backward from Medicare to a distinctly inferior Advantage plan. Far fewer doctors take Advantage plans. If Mulgrew gets his way, retirees will have a NY-based plan like we working teachers have. Retirees, unlike working teachers, often live elsewhere. If they do, they’d better not get sick.

As a working teacher, I’m good in New York, but outside this area I’ll find few to no doctors that take my plan. In fact, while trying to persuade me that Advantage would not be so bad, a union official told me he lived in Jersey and had a hard time finding doctors who accepted our plan.

Then there are the pre-approvals. When you’re over 65 and having a health crisis, you probably don’t want CVS/Aetna deciding between your health and their profit. Mulgrew says there will be a quick appeal process. But what if you lose? Is dying quickly now a benefit?

It’s tough being union when your leaders actively campaign for management. You’d think they’d campaign for improved health care at a lower cost to us. Instead, they’ve gotten the City Council to hold hearings on changing the law so the city could contribute less.

This all stems from a 2018 Municipal Labor Committee deal. Rather than insist the city pay us cost of living raises, the MLC geniuses agreed to fund them ourselves, via health care cuts. On Oct. 12, 2018, Mulgrew told the UFT Delegate Assembly his deal would result in no additional copays. Time has proven that untrue. He also promised no significant costs to union membership. Yet any couple wanting to keep traditional Medicare, under Mulgrew’s plan, will pay almost $5,000 a year.

How can we trust our leaders when they clearly don’t know what they’re doing? Are they simply incompetent, or outright lying?

Rank and file had no voice in the MLC deal that was done behind closed doors. It seems the backroom dealing continues. Weeks ago, the Council was “lukewarm” about revising 12-126, which sets a minimum the city must meet for our health care. Now, they’ve done a rather sudden and spectacular turnaround.

What has changed? I can’t help but suspect my union leadership, along with others, quietly reached out. Maybe those union contributions would slow for Council members who voted to uphold health care contributions. After all, it isn’t us, but rather leadership holding union purse strings. And will Council members get funding from Mayor Adams for their pet community projects if they don’t vote his way?

Mulgrew wrote us an email saying we would have to pay $1,200 a year if we didn’t change the law and screw our retired brothers and sisters. This is a classic zero-sum game. America has never achieved universal health care because that’s how it’s presented. If we give those people health care, it will damage yours. Frequently based on racism, Americans accept these ideas and thus reject proposals that would improve things for all of us.

A fundamental notion of union is that a rising tide raises all boats. Rather than embrace that notion, Mulgrew threatened us. If we didn’t support diminished health care for retirees, our own health care would be diminished. By pitting one union faction against another, Mulgrew and other union leaders took a fundamentally anti-union position.

Union ought not to be in the business of abbreviating health care for its members. Union ought to be in the business of not only expanding our care, but also ensuring the rest of our community enjoys the same benefits we have. That’s why it’s sorely disappointing that Mulgrew opposes the New York Health Act, which would provide health care for all New Yorkers. Rather than work out differences with its sponsors, UFT takes shortcuts. In doing so, we hurt the most vulnerable of my union brothers and sisters.

First they came for the retirees. And if you don’t think they’re coming for current employees next, I have a lovely bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.

Heather Long is a member of the Washington Post editorial board. She pinpoints the reasons for the national teacher shortage: low pay, but also pandemic stresses, and the ongoing political attacks on the teaching profession by extremists who want to prevent any teaching about racism or sexuality.

Message: pay teachers as professionals and let them teach as professionals, without censorship or interference by busybodies.

Long writes:

The U.S. economy hit a milestone this year: All 22 million jobs lost during the coronavirus pandemic were fully recovered. But that doesn’t mean workers went back to the same jobs. One of the sectors struggling the most to rebound is K-12 public education, which is still down more than 270,000 employees.


There is an educator shortage in the United States, but it is crucial to understand the details. First, this is about more than teachers. That 270,000 figure includes a lot fewer bus drivers, custodians and other support staff. Second, education isn’t simply about getting enough warm bodies into classrooms; it’s about having effective and qualified teachers and staff. The best analysis of the situation this fall, from the Annenberg Institute at Brown University, indicates a teacher shortage of nearly 2 percent, but more than 5 percent of positions are currently held by under-qualified teachers. Third, the shortage isn’t nationwide. It’s much worse in some schools and in some subjects.

In October, nearly half of public schools were still struggling to fill at least one teacher vacancy, according to a recently released Education Department survey. But schools in high-poverty neighborhoods were significantly more likely to have unfilled positions. Similarly, school districts report having an especially hard time finding special education, computer science and foreign language teachers, and bus drivers and custodial staff.

This isn’t a new phenomenon, but many signs indicate it worsened during the pandemic. Teachers experienced extreme levels of burnout from Zoom classes and safety concerns during the early days of the pandemic. Then came the culture wars that put teachers and staff under constant scrutiny over any conversations involving history, racism and sexuality. Throw in the Great Resignation, a tight labor market and rapidly rising pay in other professions, and the net result has been some teachers and staff retiring early. Others have quit and gone to work in different professions. And some recent graduates have decided not to enter education at all.

Professor Maté Wierdl teaches college-level mathematics in Tennessee; he is a native-born Hungarian and travels there regularly. In this post, he reviews the teachers’ strike in Hungary, which has dragged on for more than a year.

Throughout the strike, the Hungarian government has shown its disdain for the teachers’ union and the teachers. American right-wingers love the growing authoritarianism of the Hungarian government, even inviting Hungarian President Victor Orban to speak at the annual meeting of CPAC, the conservative political action committee.

Wierdl writes:

Hungarian teachers have been openly protesting for almost a year now. The formal protests began in January. As a response, Orbán, Hungary’s Prime Minister, basically took away the teachers’ right to strike (they cannot skip their teaching obligations while they “strike”), and quite a few protesters have been fired from their jobs. Just this week, 8 teachers were fired since they protested during school hours.

Why the protests? I think Hungarian teachers used to have a pretty good job. But in recent years, their load increased a great deal, more testing was introduced and kids need to go to school more. I have to say, I see the US influence, which shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone after seeing in the news that Orbán was invited to the US to give the keynote address at CPAC, and then he paid a visit to Trump.

I have many teacher friends and they say the main issue is not just about money but the general worsening conditions of teachers, and as a result, there is a huge teacher shortage.

Though numbers don’t tell everything, they clearly indicate serious problems. For example, here is a chart showing teachers’ salaries relative to other college educated people’s salaries (I think most of the countries’ names are recognizable; EU22 is the EU average). Note how the US (Egyesült Államokin Hungarian) and Hungary are the last two

The next chart shows the mandatory classroom hours in several European countries. Hungary is at the top (meaning, most hours) and in fact, since there aren’t enough teachers, the average teaching load is close to 27 hours. (US teachers teach even more, like 6 classes per day which means a 30 hour load)

Below, I put together some reports of the protests in the international media in the last two months.

Bloomberg writes this about today’s (Dec 2) protests

Hundreds of Hungarian teachers joined a widening strike action across the nation’s school system following a government decision to fire more educators for protesting low pay.

Almost 700 teachers from 71 schools walked off the job on Friday, forcing several institutions to suspend classes, according to the Teacher for Teachers Facebook page, which compiles the information.

Thousands of students joined in solidarity, many of them placing black tape over their mouths. They decried what they called a hardline response by Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government to silence teachers who earn among the lowest wages in the European Union.”

Nov 18

BUDAPEST, (Reuters) – Hungarian teachers, students and parents stepped up their protest calling for higher wages and education reforms on Friday, forming a 10-km (six-mile) human chain in central Budapest, with smaller rallies held across the country.

Teachers launched their “I want to teach” movement in September, calling for civil disobedience to demand higher wages for teachers and an adequate supply in the workforce. They are also protesting against restrictions on their right to strike.

Here is a video of the protests a few weeks earlier. As you can see many students support the teachers.

Oct 6:

Wednesday’s rally, which started with students forming a chain stretching for kilometers (miles) across Budapest in the morning grew into the biggest anti-government demonstration since nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s April re-election.

 Protesters carrying banners saying “Do not sack our teachers” and “For a glimpse of the future, look at the schools of the present” crammed a Budapest bridge near parliament, blocking traffic amid light police presence.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today is a time to reflect what we are grateful for.

What are you grateful for?

I am grateful for life. Last year, I had open heart surgery, and for the first five days after surgery, my life hung in the balance. Yet here I am, reading, writing, thinking, alive.

I am grateful for my dear family: My wife, Mary. My children, my grandchildren. I am blessed to be with and near people I love who love me.

I am grateful to live in America. Despite all the challenges our country faces, it’s still a wonderful place to live, where communities come together in bad times, and strangers act to help others.

I am grateful to live in a country where I can speak and write what I wish without fear of punishment.

I am grateful for the rise of a young generation whose idealism and vision will change our country for the better.

I am grateful for the dear friends at the Network for Public Education, whose advocacy and passion on behalf of democracy, public schools, their teachers and their teachers inspires me every day.

I am grateful for the educators who put students first, who work tirelessly for one of the nation’s most important and vital institutions.

I am grateful for the readers of this blog, many of whom have become good friends, without our having met in person. I am grateful too for what I learn every day from you.

If you have read this far, I want you to know that I don’t intend to post much this weekend. Maybe nothing at all.

This is a thrilling story, reported by The Intercept.

THE NATIONWIDE CAMPAIGN to stifle discussions of race and gender in public schools through misinformation and bullying suffered a reversal in Idaho on Monday, when a high school senior vocally opposed to book bans and smears against LGBTQ+ youth took a seat on the Boise school board.

The student, Shiva Rajbhandari, was elected to the position by voters in Idaho’s capital last week, defeating an incumbent board member who had refused to reject an endorsement from a local extremist group that has harassed students and pushed to censor local libraries.

Rajbhandari, who turned 18 days before the election, was already well-known in the school district as a student organizer on climate, environmental, voting rights, and gun control issues. But in the closing days of the campaign, his opponent, Steve Schmidt, wasendorsed by the far-right Idaho Liberty Dogs, which in response helped Rajbhandari win the endorsement of Boise’s leading newspaper, the Idaho Statesman.

Rajbhandari, a third-generation Idahoan whose father is from Nepal, was elected to a two-year term with 56 percent of the vote.

In an interview, Rajbhandari told The Intercept that although he had hoped people would vote for him rather than against his opponent — “My campaign was not against Steve Schmidt,” he said — he was nonetheless shocked that Schmidt did not immediately reject the far-right group’s endorsement. “I think that’s what the majority of voters took issue with,” Rajbhandari said.

The Idaho Liberty Dogs, which attacked Rajbhandari on Facebook for being “Pro Masks/Vaccines” and leading protests “which created traffic jams and costed [sic] tax payers money,” spent the summer agitating to have books removed from public libraries in Nampa and Meridian, two cities in the Boise metro area.

But, Rajbhandari said, “that’s the least of what they’ve done. Last year, there was a kid who brought a gun to Boise High, which is my school, and he got suspended and they organized an armed protest outside our school.”

Rajbhandari, who started leading Extinction Rebellion climate protests in Boise when he was 15, is familiar with the group’s tactics. “We used to have climate strikes, like back in ninth grade, and they would come with AR-15s,” he said, bringing rifles to intimidate “a bunch of kids protesting for a livable future.”

So when the Idaho Liberty Dogs called on Boise voters to support Schmidt — and a slate of other candidates for the school board who, ultimately, all lost — Rajbhandari told me he texted his rival to say, “You need to immediately disavow this.”

“This is a hate group,” Rajbhandari says he told Schmidt. “They intimidate teachers, they are a stain on our schools, and their involvement in this election is a stain on your candidacy.” Schmidt, however, refused to clearly reject the group, even after the Idaho Liberty Dogs lashed out at a local rabbi who criticized the endorsement by comparing the rabbi to Hitler and claiming that he harbored “an unrelenting hatred for white Christians.”

While the school board election was a hyperlocal one, Rajbhandari is aware that the forces he is battling operate at the state and national level. “Idaho is at the center of this out-of-state-funded far-right attack to try to undermine schools, with the end goal of actually abolishing public education,” Rajbhandari told me. “There’s a group, they’re called the Idaho Freedom Foundation, and they actually control a lot of the political discourse in our legislature. Their primary goal is to get rid of public education and disburse the money to charter schools or get rid of that funding entirely.”

For his courage and candor, he won the endorsement of The Idaho Statesman.

This is a remarkable young man with a bright future ahead of him. I am happy to add him to the honor roll of this blog.

Read the rest of the story by opening the link. Rajbhandari is a force to be reckoned with. He is a good omen of the bright, dedicated young people who stand up for their teachers and for environmental activism, who fight for gun control and against censorship. Best wishes to him!

Jesse Hagopian, who is a veteran high school teacher in Seattle, writes here about the Seattle teachers’ strike:

Members of the Seattle Education Association—the union that represents Seattle’s teachers, nurses, librarians, instructional assistants, office professionals and educational support staff—voted Tuesday, September 6 to authorize a strike, which was triggered when the Seattle Public Schools (SPS) did not meet the just demands of the union. After SPS failed to even show up to the bargaining table on Friday and Saturday, about 95% of SEA members voted to authorize the strike, with some 75% of the members voting.

Wednesday, September 7th was supposed to have been the first day of school for 50,000 students who attend Seattle Public Schools—but the strike will close all of the schools until a contract is reached. The last time SEA went on strike was in 2015 when the union’s work stoppage won a visionary set of demands including, expanded racial equity teams, more recess time for students, an end to the use of standardized tests scores being used in teacher evaluations, and small wage increases.

Again today, a rank-and-file upsurge spurred the union to vote to strike for, among other issues, maintaining “staffing ratios for special education and multilingual learners and that the district seeks more staff input as it aims to provide services for those students in general education classrooms.” In addition, the union is demanding more counselors, nurses, and to increasing the wages of classified staff—including instructional assistants—so that they can afford to live in Seattle, a city with one of the highest costs of living.

Open the link and read more.

The latest Phi Delta Kappa poll about education was released, and it shows the damage that so-called reformers have done to the teaching profession.

On the one hand, public esteem for public schools is high. But most parents do not want their children to become teachers. Thanks, Bill Gates. Thanks, National Council on Teacher Quality. Thanks, TFA. Thanks, Michelle Rhee. Thanks, TeachPlus. Thanks, Educators4Excellence. Thanks, Walton family. Thanks, Ron DeSantis. So many to thank for smearing a great and noble profession.

Americans’ ratings of their community’s public schools reached a new high dating back 48 years in this year’s PDK Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools, while fewer than ever expressed interest in having their child work as a public school teacher.

Results of the 54th annual PDK Poll tell a tale of conflicted views of public schools — local ratings are at nearly a five-decade high and a majority have trust and confidence in teachers, yet there’s wide recognition that the challenges they face make their jobs broadly undesirable.

Just 37% of respondents in the national, random-sample survey would want a child of theirs to become a public school teacher in their community. That’s fewer than have said so in a similar question asked 13 times in PDK polls since 1969. It compares with 46% in 2018, a high of 75% in 1969, and a long-term average of 60%.

The reasons for this reluctance are varied: Among the 62% who would not want their child to take up teaching, 29% cite poor pay and benefits; 26%, the difficulties, demands, and stress of the job; 23%, a lack of respect or being valued; and 21%, a variety of other shortcomings. Just among public school parents, slightly more, 38%, cite poor compensation.

This is the case even as 54% of all adults give an A or B grade to the public schools in their community, the highest percentage numerically in PDK polls since 1974, up 10 points since the question was last asked in 2019. The previous high was 53% in 2013; the long-term average, 44%.