Saturday, August 4, 2012

Randi Still Wants That Stool at the Table

Randi Weingarten...wants her 1.5 million members to be open to changes that might improve public schools.
Debby Pope, who works in the CTU's grievance unit, said the message from Chicago was simple: old-fashioned hardball, combined with outreach to parents and communities likely to be hurt by public school closings, works better than compromise. "We will not be heard at the table unless we are out there in the streets seen and heard fighting," she said. 
Time out from @SOS reports though lots of discussions have been going on pertinent to this -- and I will try to get those videos up ASAP -- see especially the union session from this morning where Leo said some interesting things -- even more interesting that there were some UFT chapter leaders in the room. @SOS - Teachers' Unions, Teachers' Rights, Teachers' Voice.  I have lots of tape of CTU/CORE member Xian Barrett who explains so much that will illuminate why the UFT/AFT is one thing and the CTU is something else.

In this article Randi is at it again and this article delineates the fault line between AFT/UFT position and that coming out of Chicago. Sure I would like a real seat at the table and yes I would lobby politicians but it is not about Randi having that seat -- though what she gets is a stool. We don't do an ask or lobby until we have a massive force behind us. And that force has to be built first which the UFT and AFT are not doing. You know why? You can't build such a force in a fundamentally undemocratic union.

U.S. teacher union boss bends to school reform winds

DETROIT, July 31 | Tue Jul 31, 2012 7:36pm EDT
(Reuters) - In the maelstrom of criticism surrounding America's unionized public teachers, the woman running the second-largest educator union says time has come to collaborate on public school reform rather than resist.

Randi Weingarten, re-elected this week for a third term as president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) with 98 percent of the vote, wants her 1.5 million members to be open to changes that might improve public schools.

That willingness to engage, she says, could win over parents, taxpayers, voters, well-funded pressure groups and cash-strapped cities that have blamed unionized teachers for high costs and poor performing schools.

"We have to unite those we serve and those we represent," Weingarten said in an interview with Reuters at the AFT convention in Detroit. "And we have to think ... what's good for kids and what's fair for teachers?"

Weingarten rebuffed her critics in the union for mistaking collaboration with surrender and said her overwhelming victory in the election showed rank-and-file members supported the move.

"There are a lot of people who are very angry for legitimate reasons and want to hear simply the 'fight back'," Weingarten said. "But this is about fighting for things as well as fighting against things."

Across the United States, public education -- and the often unionized teachers and support staff employed in the sector -- are under attack from reformers who argue the country's schools need to be reformed and partially privatized in order to improve student performance.

Weingarten was attacked by critics for a willingness to throw her support behind deals in places like Philadelphia and Cleveland, where AFT locals bargained away tenure protections, or New Haven, Connecticut, where the union accepted a teacher evaluation system that removes teachers whose students don't perform well on standardized tests. 
"Some people would argue what happened in New Haven is not solutions-driven unionism," Weingarten told Reuters. "Do I embrace every single aspect of that agreement? Is everything single aspect of that agreement part of my particular belief system about how education should run? Of course not."

Weingarten's call for greater community outreach strikes many observers as a realistic strategy for building support for public education, long attacked for high costs and poor results.

"She has said she's open to any reform, under certain conditions, except private school vouchers. She's drawn the line there," said Richard Kahlenberg, a senior fellow at a liberal-leaning think tank, The Century Foundation, and author of "Tough Liberal" a biography of former AFT President Albert Shanker.

"But on every other issue - charter schools, merit pay for teachers - she has said that the AFT is willing to talk. And I think that's the right tack to take."

But activists in the union, hardened by the layoffs, furloughs, pay freezes and benefit cuts that states and municipalities have forced on teachers nationwide in a weak economy, remain vocal and leery of Weingarten's blueprint for the future.

"We have to ask ourselves what are the solutions that are driving the particular model that Weingarten is talking about," said Jeff Bale, a professor at Michigan State University who spoke at a panel discussion hosted by AFT dissidents from Chicago and Detroit.

"Concessions don't lead to more prestige with the public. Concessions don't win more credibility at the bargaining table. They lead to more concessions."

Critics say Weingarten's willingness to see traditional job protections like tenure disappear and to accept charter schools, merit pay and other changes is a retreat from core principles and plays into the hands of those who want to eliminate public education, privatize government services and curb the ability of workers to unionize.

What the new approach will mean for AFT's membership remains to be seen. Like its bigger counterpart, the 3.2 million-member National Education Association, AFT has seen its full dues paying membership decline in recent years, according to its official filings with the United States Department of Labor.

AFT spokeswoman Carolyn Fiddler says total AFT membership -- which includes retirees and members paying partial dues -- is actually up from "1.5 million and change" in 2010 to "1.5 million and some more change" in 2012, a claim repeated in the state of the union report issued at the Detroit convention.

At the event, officials said AFT, which represents teachers and other school staff as well as healthcare workers, had signed up 79 new bargaining units in 18 states in the past year.

Weingarten told Reuters that there was "real fight left" in the AFT. But the question is how widespread and deep it is.

One convention highlight came when the 3,000 delegates, [actual number of delegates reported at start of convention was 2300] in a spirited floor vote, unanimously backed a "special order of business" promising the union's full support for "AFT educators in hostile bargaining environment who are fighting to defend fair contracts and the right to bargain collectively."

That describes just about every AFT local in the country.

But the resolution specifically cited five cities, including Chicago, the nation's third-largest public school system, where teachers represented by the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) have been involved in bitter contract talks with Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a Democrat, and could walk out beginning on August 18.

At a weekend caucus on the sidelines of the convention, delegates from Chicago and Detroit, where an emergency manager has imposed a 10 percent pay cut on teachers, were skeptical the national union has the appetite for strikes or walkouts.

But they agreed, as William Weir, a Detroit public school teacher put it, that "it's time to do things differently."

Activists seemed especially excited by CTU, which resisted an effort by Emanuel to unilaterally impose a longer school day and won -- a rare victory these days for a teachers union.

Debby Pope, who works in the CTU's grievance unit, said the message from Chicago was simple: old-fashioned hardball, combined with outreach to parents and communities likely to be hurt by public school closings, works better than compromise.

"We will not be heard at the table unless we are out there in the streets seen and heard fighting," she said.

(Edited by Peter Bohan and Mary Milliken)

The opinions expressed on EdNotesOnline are solely those of Norm Scott and are not to be taken as official positions (though Unity Caucus/New Action slugs will try to paint them that way) of any of the groups or organizations Norm works with: ICE, GEM, MORE, Change the Stakes, NYCORE, FIRST Lego League NYC, Rockaway Theatre Co., Active Aging, The Wave, Aliens on Earth, etc.

@SOS Karran Harper Royal: How [Some] African Americans and Civil Rights Leaders Got on the Wrong Side of the Ed Reform Movement

Karran is the best there is at exposing the ed deform New Orleans "miracle." And a founder with Leonie Haimson and others of Parents Across America.

She opposed the status quo back in the 90's so she can't be accused of defending the SQ.
She could have been on the ed deform side given her history of activism but saw through it. She knew Howard Fuller and was sympathetic at times. Thus she can understand why some African-Americans line up there.
One of major Afr-Am who line up on wrong side of ed reform is Pres. Obama.
Waivers for NCLB worse than the original NCLB. Can keep child in failing school forever thru turnaround.
New Orleans choice is often NO  choice. She can't out her son in the charter school 2 blocks from her house because of "choice."
Her son goes to a charter miles away -- if her son gpa drops below 2.0 in 11th grade he will be kicked out.
Language of corp reform -- data walls.
Neediest children get unqualified teachers thru TFA -- make out like bandit -- almost a million $ to TFA for bringing in only 250 teachers.
We're being forced into school choice which depends on segregating children -- ability and socio-economic means by not providing transportation. Her son's school -- principal gets $5000 a yr car allowance while kids denied trans expenses. Before Katrina - 55% Af-Amer to 33% post Katrina - counseled out. And all sorts of fees ---school is 2nd highest performer in NO.
Language of some of the initiatives -- eg. highly effective teachers = rated by test scores.
Partnerships -- someone will be making money.
Al Sharpton got on the wrong side of ed reform.
We need our civil rts ldrs to be on right side.
Lists Afr-Amer on wrong side: Mayor Cory Booker, Kira Orange Jones TFA Ex Dir), Jonah Edelman.
Scared of Cory Booker.
SEIU - supported Kira Jones -- mentions Dana Peterson SEIU organizer -- saw SEIU organizers.

Teachers who say cannot say they don't like to be political -- MUST.
[Depends on how you view "political" - Karran says run for office and lobby -- I tend more toward only doing that after you build a massive support org. Become organizers first. Not sure we disagree on anything. Maybe nuanced.]
Q from teacher trainer -- dangers of resistance.
Karran - we all have to work but we also have to have principles. In NO - New Teacher Roundtable -- with former TFA people doing outreach to TFA teachers. They have no support net -- gotta reach out to them. Use work to hide realities.

Karran going to New Zealand where they want to use earthquake in Christ Church to charterize all schools.

Check out James Boutin SOS Posts:

SOS Conference 2012, Day One

SOS Conference 2012, Day Two Morning


@SOS - Teachers' Unions, Teachers' Rights, Teachers' Voice

 Panelists: Mike, Fred Klonsky (Frmr Park Ridge Ed Assoc Pres), Sian Barrett (Chicago TU), Michael Walker Jones (Exec Dir of Louisiana Assoc of Ed).

Room is filled with many union activists -- a bunch from NYC. CLs Arthur Goldstein and John Elfrank-Dana plus Leo Casey.

Interesting there are people from groups similar to MORE from Providence and Newark and some other areas of Jersey. A principal from NYC just said (proudly) that her new chapter leader ran on a MORE platform. (I'm glad Leo wasn't eating anything he could choke on.)

But in the spirit of good fellowship, Leo and I continued our detente from last year's SOS - Mike Klonsky even took a pic of us shaking hands yesterday.

Michael Walker Jones
Catalogs outrages (similar to what Nancy Carlson-Paige (Matt Damon's mom) did at last night's keynote --- which I'll edit and post next week). 
Leo just commented on Walker-Jones comment about John White that your loss was our gain. WJ: we have let the opposition bring us to our knees with attack on the unions. He has counseled out 75 people from profession. How they have framed the union. LO tchrs have no protection. White has no sense of history -- he can't bear to sit next to him. Boy can I show him video of this bloodless vampire in action in NYC.

Jones makes great point about unions backing down and apologing. Stand for Children in Mass forced union of highest performing state to back down and make a deal. Expresses the real outrage many of us are feeling at the defensive posture of unions.

I've been pointing out that the worm is turning in many ways and one of them is inside the top union leaderships themselves --- the attack is so fierce that they almost have no choice.

Fred Klonsky:
Just retired from suburban Chicago district. Bargained about 10 contracts, attended every NEA conv since '93. Had union background in prev work.
Took him 5 years to know what he didn't know -- why objects to TFA.
Began to look at social role of unions and teachers once he got teaching down. (my experience in my 4th yr.)
Talking about what union should do.
Really good stuff from personal view --- I have to post the video when I get home.
Fred and I had some rough spots over the years and I introduced myself to him yesterday and glad I did. I find him really impressive.
Was told when bargaining: "Teachers just another cost to be contained." Now barg not for bread &butter but for dignity and self respect.
Also have to build consensus with colleagues. Eg. common core -- some tchrs like idea.
Also -- world outside classroom - political and social. Many tchrs not comfortable in that role.
Senate bill 7: Tells Jonah Edelman story - I won't repeat.
Rights reg tenure, seniority removed, Val Added count 50% of eval. 75% vote to strike. All unions lobbied for it except Fred's union. (AMAZING).
IA (state union)  spun it as victory for teachers. Now accepted as disaster. In one yr went from 1 local to entire state.
New unionism -- results based unionism - Randi's gig. Really old -- concessions redefined. Fighting back would be new,

Xian Barrett from Chicago TU

I got to know Xian real well over the years. He often represented the involvement with student activist element of CORE and CTU. Stud and comm organizing.
Until 4 yrs ago he was a teacher in southside of Chi in poor area.
Careful about getting rid of Duncan concept -- replace one neo-lb with another.
New Orleans most extreme but Chicago and everyone else facing the same.
Even mom and pop charters being attacked and cannibalized by charter chains.
Old CTU leadership hostile to own members. Wanted to be active in the union but had doors slammed in his face. Not from TFA perspective of I want to solve unionism but want to contribute.
Opposition in Chi fragmented.
Met 10 fellow activists. Some were in a book group. Push union and take back our schools. 2 yrs later -CORE -- every elected position of the union. Didn't appoint only from own caucus -- chose best out of r&f and not caucus. (HEAR THAT UNITY).
He headed polit caucus of CTU -- now back in classroom and proud of it. I was fired and terminated from CHI -- blacklist not for people who hurt children but for people who organize -- he got off that list (HEAR THAT UNITY WHICH COVERS UP THE DREADED DISCONTINUED LIST).
I'm back where I was -- but now have a fighting leadership and union --- not just about the leadership but everyone. Needed 75% of all members. As we org buildings they got scared -- Rahm org camp to attack tchrs -- tchrs had to hand out letters to parents that said if your teacher voted for strike were aganst children. Hard for isolated tchr but having a fighting union made it easier -- voted 98% of those who voted and 92% of all tchrs.
Another vote on fact-finding report -- report came out for 18% raise for tchrs based on longer school day --- coming to all as part of Deformer astro turf report.
CTU House of Del voted unan against that report offering an 18% raise (HEAR THAT UNITY which would have gobbled that up.)
Now want to fight for class size and tenure etc not just for raises.
Working w comm orgs to have elected school bdds -- who governs schools (HEAR THAT UNITY).
CORE began as social justice caucus -- not vie for leadership initially -- attacks from old CTU ldrship -- attacked them for working directly with parents and comm - they responded that that YES WE ARE).
Important to give people in power choices as opposition -- rep members demo -- can be done with old or new ldrship -- could be very excited to have new group working with them -- then if they don't -- take next step. (Interesting point that some were making in MORE -- to not run this time but start out with campaign to give Unity a choice. But time frame of elections made that difficult.)
****We brought in a lot of active political people representing leftist orgs -- we were not going to bring in outside leftist agendas -- ISO, Solidarity, PLP. etc. ) we would slap each other back when it began to look like a leftist agenda with overly ideological components. I starred this because MORE in its early stages has to address this issue.)

Every single ed gathering we tried to get a few people to --- not to control dialogue but to reach out and support.
We had a political plan for org but also a plan on how to govern. We got to 600 out of 650 schools -- won 60% of vote. Oh shit -- we are in power. But not capital Oh shit since we had a plan. CTU new ldrsh supported SB7 but realized they would take damage and didn't defend a bad decision.
This is OUR civil rights struggle of our time. We win by taking on the struggle they say they are taking on that struggle.
DAMN -- battery ran out and I missed part of one of the best presentations. Xian rocked.

Politics of governance -- in oppositon can do polit of protest. Given we are in a war --- impor to hold ground we can defend. If we gain ground we can't defend we can be routed. Fighting on max ground we can hold. Leave us w ground we can't hold.

Jones - prob w unions claiming victory to members -- we took gas but didn't claim victory.
Natl and state ldrs talking about wrong thing. We need to go back on natl and st level and go back to roots.

Xian -- can have a pretty rad agenda and still be positive. Ie. Just don't say common core sucks but talk about uncommon core -- what will work with students. Don't just say Obama sucks -- not as a counter to elect Obama but what will work for students and communities. As educators we are the experts .

James -- reported -- community centured pedagogy. COCO in Chicago.
Mike K: Common Core comes out of struggle for equity -- the class nature of curriculum -- Jean Anion at CUNY studies -- what kids in Miss and Boston get. One reason for CC idea. Problematic. Community engagement also used to create segreg and -- think what they want to teach down south.

I wanted to make a point about without a democratic union we have

Tomorrow morning they will reconvene but I have to leave.

The opinions expressed on EdNotesOnline are solely those of Norm Scott and are not to be taken as official positions (though Unity Caucus/New Action slugs will try to paint them that way) of any of the groups or organizations Norm works with: ICE, GEM, MORE, Change the Stakes, NYCORE, FIRST Lego League NYC, Rockaway Theatre Co., Active Aging, The Wave, Aliens on Earth, etc.

@SOS - Shanta Driver on Building New Civil Rights Movement

Wasn't I just in Detroit @AFT? Well now I'm in DC @SOS. 
But I can't get away from Detroit.

Speaker Shanta Driver from Detroit doing early keynote (Saturday, August 3 9AM):
Building the New Civil Rights Movement: Why We Need Direct Action to Defend Public Education." Shanta is a civil rights lawyer based in Detroit and with the group By Any Means Necessary (BAMN).

A few notes:
Last 10 years the worst in history -- our own trail of tears. 1/3 of schools left from 7 years ago. Entire neighborhoods with no public education. A master plan for Detroit to turn city from 1 million to half a million and closing public schools is an integral part of the plan. Anyone who could get out has gotten out.
One of first acts of Arne Duncan was to come to Detroit and declare war on the public ed system under the guise of "improvement."
I'm taping so the video will be available at some point so I won't go into more detail.

Best point -- Detroit Federation of Teachers had a secret rep (they didn't tell the members) on the board that was looking undermine the public schools. (see the video I put up a few days ago where DFT leader Keith Johnson makes a rousing speech about what was done to them --- these guys really need to be hit over the head over and over again with an ed deform plank before they even begin to think of putting up a sign of resistance.

4 years of RTTT has done nothing to put a dent in the popularity of pubed --  key is to organize students. One of problems with resisters it the idea of "we just have to convince the politicians as if they don't know what is going on."

She went to last 2 AFT conventions and it is clear that teachers hate Arne Duncan but leadership of those unions believe in working with Obama and Dems - has made the one force capable of leading the fight for public Ed has handicapped the movement.
Joe Biden at AFT convention. Same speech an NEA -- but had problem getting it out. Biden knows the crimes that have been committed but knew a lot of teachers would not walk out. That sense is palpable to the politicians. Standing up to them is what it would take.

Next workshop sessions will include a labor one with Fred and Mike Klonsky (I met Fred for the first time yesterday and Mike last year at SOS). I'll blog during that one too.

Yesterday was also a busy day and I'll catch up on that later.

The opinions expressed on EdNotesOnline are solely those of Norm Scott and are not to be taken as official positions (though Unity Caucus/New Action slugs will try to paint them that way) of any of the groups or organizations Norm works with: ICE, GEM, MORE, Change the Stakes, NYCORE, FIRST Lego League NYC, Rockaway Theatre Co., Active Aging, The Wave, Aliens on Earth, etc.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Video - @AFT Convention - Biden Speech - Chicago Teachers Say STOP RACE TO THE TOP

See our previous post with stills:

@AFT - Chicago Teachers Protest RTTT During/After Biden Speech

TODAY: MORE Summer Series #3: MORE Summer Series - MORE Messaging and Outreach

Each one, Teach one
Session 3 of the MORE summer series event is TODAY

 August 2nd.    5-8

Lolita Bar (downstairs): 266 Broome street, (corner of Allen) Manhattan
map HERE

This is a chance to learn about MORE, meet other union members who are down for a different UFT and to enjoy some cheap happy hour drinks and good conversation.

The event is scheduled from 5-8. We will start with a brief intro to MORE.
Followed by some hands on organizing practice!

How DO you talk to your colleagues about these important issues? What do you say when they ask tough questions? What can you ask them to do to be involved?

The UFT has not had to do any actual organizing for decades. If we want to build a strong, democratic union where members are educated and ready to take action, we need to organize and have many conversations with our co-workers. If we want a mobilized base that can fight collectively for better working and learning conditions . .


We will close by making sure that everyone knows how to get and stay involved in the ongoing work of MORE and we'll have plenty of time to schmooze and enjoy a beverage.

Hope to see you! Feel free to bring friends!


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

E4E's Lori Wheal Declares Herself a Replaceable of the Highest Order

Gee Lori Wheal, how about "advancing" by just teaching? Maybe focus on advancing the kids rather than yourself.
Lori Wheal is leaving because she can't keep her little job and will now go into ed policy.
"The decision to leave the classroom was among the most difficult I’ve ever made, but I feel like my career is stuck in neutral, with no clear path of advancement."

Wheal is one of the "master" teachers losing her job.
What's the matter Lori? being an ATR doesn't appeal to you

You are right. This was no sudden decision. E4E is a Gates-funded anti-teacher org.


Educators 4 Excellence: A Corporate Suck-up Voice Against Teachers  Educators 4 Excellence

E4E Weekly Update
Wednesday, August 1, 2012

E4E In the News
E4E-NY teacher Lori Wheal: Why NYC can't keep great teachers: In a New York Post op-ed, Lori reflects on her own career path and teacher retention in light of the new TNTP report (see below for more). »
E4E co-founders guest blog on EdWeek: On Rick Hess Straight Up, an Education Week blog, Evan Stone and Sydney Morris recount their story and share teacher reactions to "The Irreplaceables". Check back this Thursday and Friday for more. »

New TNTP report urges smarter decisions about teacher retention: "The Irreplaceables" shows that the most and least effective teachers leave at identical rates (SchoolBook), including in New York (NY Daily News). Read the report. »
In changes to teaching licensing, more teaching and less testing: As The New York Times reports, New York's licensing processes will include new measures, endorsed by both state officials and Michael Mulgrew, the UFT president. »
Report: Calif. school facilities need funding, roadmap: A state-commissioned report highlights the information barriers to addressing school facility needs. (Also, sign our petition calling for fairer school funding.) »
Court ruling may challenge Bridgeport, CT school system efforts: A court-mandated school board special election could challenge reforms being put into place by Superintendent Paul Vallas (The Wall Street Journal). »

New York
Policy Roundtable #2: The Future of Special Education: Join fellow E4E members for the second of three teacher-led conversations to examine the coming changes to classrooms that serve students with special needs and discuss how to ensure that all students’ needs are being met.
Regardless of what you teach, these changes will affect all classrooms. We encourage all teachers to join us.
TOMORROW: Thursday, August 2, 2012 | 5 p.m.
Educators 4 Excellence, 333 West 39th Street, New York, NY 10018

Subway: A/C/E at 42nd St-Port Authority Bus Terminal;
1/2/3/7/N/Q/R/S at 42 St-Times Sq

Take Action
Sign the California Fair Funding Petition to show Sacramento's leaders and our fellow taxpayers that we need reform through revenue. »
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Upcoming Events
New York
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E4E Teachers
Talk Back
Brooke Wacha
Brooke Wacha discusses the need to ensure that all students’ needs are considered and all teachers’ voices are included when making education policy.
Brooke teaches high school in a 6-1-1 setting at PS223Q, a District 75 school in Queens.
Did teaching meet your expectations?
I expected to be working with low-income students from tough situations, but I ended up working in a District 75 school with a lot of students with autism. ...My job now has really opened up my world to what autism is and what it can be – there’s always something new, someone’s always going to surprise you.

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The opinions expressed on EdNotesOnline are solely those of Norm Scott and are not to be taken as official positions (though Unity Caucus/New Action slugs will try to paint them that way) of any of the groups or organizations Norm works with: ICE, GEM, MORE, Change the Stakes, NYCORE, FIRST Lego League NYC, Rockaway Theatre Co., Active Aging, The Wave, Aliens on Earth, etc.