From Mark Naison – Parent Strike!

 This is from Mark Naison, an author and professor at Fordham in NYC — gfb
Mark Naison
July 23 at 4:51pm
What Our Children and Grandchildren Deserve: No Compromise With Current Education Policies

Every post I get from around the country suggests that the attack on teachers, students and public education shows no sign of letting up. Students are being tested more than ever; great teachers are being given low ratings and driven out of the profession; and whole cities are being turned into all charter districts without evidence that this will do anything to empower students, while at the same time funneling profits to consulting firms and real estate developers. While the worst of the attacks are hitting high poverty schools, no districts are immune from the scripting, the micromanagement and the obsession with test results. This nightmare is occurring in states with Republican governors and states with Democratic governors.

Anyone who thinks that the new ECAA legislation being passed by Congress is going to bring relief is being extremely naive. Those who think than any Presidential candidate will make things better is living in Never Never Land. The momentum of current policies on the state and local level is powerful because it is driven by Billionaire dollars. The same people who are controlling the political process in DC are driving privatization and profiteering in public education at the local level.

The only way to fight back against this is civil disobedience. Parent strikes, Student strikes. Teachers strikes. Test Refusal. And innovative tactics to bring the pressure on those who would destroy students lives and teachers careers. Disrupt meetings. Picket peoples houses. Make those who would make students and families pay the price pay a price themselves.

This is why I am very excited about the formation of the group ParentStrike. And the refusal of United Opt Out to compromise at all with ANY federal legislation that uses standardized testing as the basis of school evaluation and uses federal funds to punish schools, school districts and entire states on the basis of test scores.

Now is not the time to compromise. We are already losing badly. It is the time to disrupt. To confuse. To undermine, To resist

Our children and grandchildren deserve better. Much better.

Chicago Teachers Lead The Way

Anybody who is interested in promoting the welfare of the 99% of the population who don’t have offshore bank accounts or manage hedge funds should be ecstatic over the apparent success of the members of the Chicago Teachers Union in beating back most of Rahm Emanuel’s educational DEform policies.

A lot has been written about this strike. I am thrilled that over 90% of the teachers voted in favor of the strike, that they stuck together, and that they “stuck it” to arrogant Rahm.

Let us remember that EVERYWHERE that the billionaires’ educational DEforms have been tried, they have failed utterly. I salute the Chicago rank-and-file who stood up.

A few good recent columns by bettwer writers than myself here,  here and here. Or for the full URL, try these:

http://www.tnr.com/blog/plank/107294/can-the-chicago-teachers%E2%80%99-strike-fix-democratic-education-reform#

and

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/09/201291774248929713.html

and

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/eugene-robinson-standing-up-for-teachers/2012/09/17/ad3ee650-00fd-11e2-b257-e1c2b3548a4a_story.html

Published in: on September 19, 2012 at 11:44 am  Leave a Comment  
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Over 90% of Chicago Teachers Vote to Approve a Strike!! Wow!!


Published on Labor Notes (http://labornotes.org)

Standing Up to Corporate School Agenda, Chicago Teachers Greenlight Strike

STEVEN ASHBY
    |  JUNE 12, 2012

After four days of ballot-counting, the Chicago Teachers Union announced yesterday that 90 percent of CTU members voted to authorize their leaders to call a strike if negotiations continue to go badly. Photo: Bartosz Brzezinski.
After four days of ballot-counting, the Chicago Teachers Union announced yesterday that 90 percent of CTU members voted to authorize their leaders to call a strike if negotiations continue to go badly.
An overwhelming 24,262 members, or 92 percent of the membership, voted. In a resounding display of unity, 98 percent of those voting authorized the strike. There was not a majority of CTU members at any of the 615 schools who voted “no.”
“We’ve been pushed, and pushed, and pushed—and finally we get a chance to push back,” said a CTU activist as she counted strike authorization ballots this week.
Teachers are angry over large classes, too few social workers and teachers’ aides, a deadening of a curriculum increasingly tailored to standardized tests, and a quarter of all schools lacking a library. They are angry at an unelected Board of Education demonizing them as adversaries.
They are angry that the board, ignoring the pleas of parents and teachers, has systematically moved to close schools and reopen them as privatized charters with a non-union, at-will workforce and policies that punish children with learning disabilities, English language learners, and those with difficulties at home that impede their test-taking abilities.
 
Teachers are angry at Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a Democrat, for imposing unpaid work on them. He has pushed a seven-hour school day plus 10 extra teaching days with no additional compensation, heaping more on top of their already heavy workload. An April 2012 University of Illinois study found that teachers work an average 58-hour workweek.
They are angry over the board’s proposal of a 2 percent raise over five years and the imposition of merit pay, giving principals the power to reward favorites and punish union activists.
As CTU President Karen Lewis said, “We are tired of being bullied, belittled, and betrayed” by the Board of Education.
The overwhelming vote to authorize a September strike should “put an end to speculation about how educators really feel,” said Lewis, who added that “we listen to our members.”
The vote is an “indictment” of Chicago Public Schools administrators, Lewis said. Educators “who actually work in our schools,” not billionaire-backed anti-union lobbyists, are the ones who can improve schools “in partnership” with CPS, she said.
“We are calling on CPS to negotiate with the union in good faith,” Lewis said.
Thirty CTU leaders, all educators working in the schools, painstakingly counted ballots as 12 clergy organized by the interfaith workers’ rights group Arise Chicago took shifts to monitor the count, in an effort to deter anti-union forces from challenging the integrity of the vote. Anti-union elements attacked the ballot regardless.

Vaulting the High Bar

The teachers union had a high bar to reach. Illinois legislators, pushed by Mayor Emanuel and Democratic Speaker of the House Michael Madigan, passed a law last June that imposed the unprecedented requirement that 75 percent of all CTU members must vote to authorize a strike. The standard rule demands 50 percent plus one of those who vote approve a strike. Under the Illinois law, members who did not vote would count as “no” votes.
 
Leaders of the anti-union, billionaire-funded, and misnamed Stand for Children organization propelled the legislation. They lined up support from powerful politicians and lobbyists and pressured the state’s NEA and AFT teachers unions into going along with it. President Lewis signed on, but quickly said language was added into the bill she never agreed to.
 
Stand for Children and other anti-union forces gloated that there would never again be a teachers’ strike in Chicago as the 75 percent threshold would be impossible for the union to reach.
 
CTU proved them wrong.
The vote demonstrated the reach of the union’s seven-month contract campaign, an achievement made possible with the election of the Caucus of Rank and File Educators slate in June 2010.
Prior to CORE’s victory, the CTU was run as a top-down union with little member involvement. The new leadership took on the task of forming contract action committees to educate and involve the members, and to develop new rank-and-file leaders, in 615 schools. The union organized three conferences to strategize and implement the contract campaign.
The union put members in motion, with 6,000 attending a rally and march in downtown Chicago four weeks ago. The teachers joined up with the community-labor alliance Stand Up Chicago, which was demonstrating at the Chicago’s Mercantile Exchange shareholder meeting. Unions have been protesting the Merc for months because the trading group sucks up $77 million a year in handouts from the state while Illinois chops budgets for human services.
The exhilaration of the members was palatable: They roared as they marched. One activist told me during the march, “I’ve been a teacher and CTU member for 10 years and this is the proudest I’ve ever felt of my union.”
Following the dictates of the new state law, a three-person fact-finding committee will issue a non-binding report by mid-July, but only on compensation issues. The committee is composed of one representative of the union, one from CPS, and an independent reviewer.
The strike authorization vote gives the union’s House of Delegates—the CTU’s 800-member governing body—the authority to call a strike. CTU’s contract expires June 30, but a strike would not start before the first day of classes for most schools, September 4.
The labor working group of Occupy Chicago has invited labor and community activists to a June 26 meeting to plan a teacher solidarity summer outreach campaign.

Steven Ashby is a labor educator at the University of Illinois, has assisted the union’s contract campaign planning, and observed the four-day ballot count.

Published in: on June 14, 2012 at 8:26 pm  Comments (3)  
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A transcription of Michelle Rhee’s interview with Steven Colbert

How many lies and evasions can you find in Michelle Rhee’s performance on the Steven Colbert show? I did my level best to transcribe the interview.

STEVEN COLBERT: My guest tonight is the former chancellor of DC Public Schools. So my security team’s pat downs and metal detectors will be familiar to her. Please welcome Michelle Rhee!

[APPLAUSE]

Hey, Ms. Rhee, thanks so much coming on. Now, uh, young lady, you’ve got quite a… a storied history when it comes to reforming education. You were, uh, let’s see, this is a photo we have a, we got a shot of that maybe here on [camera] two. That’s a photo of you on the cover, uh, that’s Time magazine, uh, about two years ago.

MICHELLE RHEE: Yes.

SC: This time it says, “How to fix America’s Schools”.

MR: Yeah.

SC: You, you were the king of Reform School Mountain, and, and now you’ve just lost your job…

MR: Yes.

SC: … as the head of DC’s schools.

MR: I did.

SC: What gives? Who did you cross?

MR: Well, my boss, Adrian Fenty (laughs) …

SC: Yes.

MR: … who was the mayor of DC, uh, lost his election, so that means that I lost my job.

SC: So you lost your job and now the kids get left behind?

MR: Uh, well no, hopefully they don’t…

SC: Are you a fan of [the] No Child Left Behind [act] by the way?

MR: Actually, I am uh, a fan of No Child Left Behind.

SC: Thank you for saying that George Bush was our greatest president!

[LAUGHTER]

SC: That’s kind of what you are saying, then, because that was his thing, right?

MR: It was his thing and I actually think that you should give credit where credit is due, and this is one area that President Bush actually did a very good job in because he brought, he brought accountability to the public schools.

SC: Now as, as an educator, or as someone who was reforming education, what was the biggest challenge that you have faced?

MR: I think the biggest challenge was, was changing the culture of the school districts. I think that people were not used to being held responsible for, for what our jobs were, which was educating children.

SC: You talking [indistinct], you talking teachers’ union?

MR: I’m, I’m talking about the teachers’ union.

SC: Unions? You know we had a strike around here, you should do what I did. You know I sent out hooligans armed with truncheons, and I beat my writers until they came back here and they started to tippety-tappety again. Why didn’t you do that? Why didn’t you crack a few skulls?

MR: Well, we thought that, that, that we should use, you know, a carrot instead of a stick. And so what we wanted to do was, actually, set up a, a system where we  could pay the best teachers a six-figure salary and give them what they deserve, and also ensure that we, you know, hold them responsible for doing a good job that if they were ineffective we could quickly remove them from their duties.

SC: So let me take you to task for a second here. What is the big deal on education? Sell me on educating children. Why?

[LAUGHTER]

SC: Right? Because, because, why should I care? Let me put this delicately. Why should I care about the kids at George Washington Carver High School when my kids are doing fine at Ed Begley Junior Prep?

[LAUGHTER]

MR. Well, actually, a lot of people think that their kids are doing well at Begley Junior [indistinct] …

SC: My children are the smartest kids in the world!

MR: … however …

SC: My children are the most brilliant, beautiful, perfect children in the world!

MR: You may think so, but what the data says is that if you look at the top five per cent of American students they are actually 25th ouf of 30 developed nations in terms of the, the global …

SC Yes, but if I refuse to learn math, then I wont know that

[Indistinct, competing voices talking at the same time]

SC: You say, you say you want us to be number one again?

MR: Yes, that’s right.

SC: When were we number one? Is this not a myth? Were we ever ahead of Germany?

MR: Nyahs. [I think she was trying to say “yes’ – GFB]

SCL Really? They had jets in World War Two!

MR: America was number one in the 1950s. America, we were number one in graduation rates, we were number one in rates of going to college, and our proficiency rates were a lot higher than most developed nations.

SC: What happened? What happened? What has happened to our schools that you are trying to reverse?

MR: So I think that what happened is that we have a lot of special interests who are driving the agenda in public schools. You have, you know, textbook manufacturers, you have teacher unions, you have, you know, food service people, and the problem is that there is no organized interest group that represents children.

SC: What about the kids? Did you ask the kids how they think schools should be changed? Did you try 7-Up in the water fountains?

[LAUGHTER]

SC: Donut day?

MR: You know it’s interesting because I actually did talk to the kids all the time and I asked them if I could do one thing that would really improve your experience in school what would it be. And they didn’t ask for Sprite in the water fountain. They asked for great teachers. They said, if you bring us great teachers, that makes everything worthwhile.

SC: Well, what, now that you’re no longer the head of the DC public Schools, what is next for you? What job will you be forced out of next?

[LAUGHTER]

MR: Well, hopefully I won’t be, be forced out of any job, but I’m trying to figure out right now what makes sense of a, of a, a, next job.

SC: You ever thought of being a correspondent?

MR: Well, I’d be interested in joining the team.

SC: Do you have a resumé?

MR: Uh, no, I don’t.

SC: Ah, well, then we’ll need to see some references.

Well, thank you so much.

Michelle Rhee, former head of the DC Public Schools!

We’ll be right back!

[BREAK FOR COMMERCIAL]

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