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Archive for March, 2009

NY Post: Certified Wrong

A New York Post editorial a few days ago made light of teacher certification and treated it as a meaningless technicality that the UFT is clinging to in order to advance its self-serving agenda. The union had simply taken the position that certification requirements should be enforced in charter schools with the same consistency as they are in other schools. Does the New York ComPost feel that professional qualifications are otherwise irrelevant? Would its board members take their ailing children to a doctor who was not board-certified? Would they trust a person with the title “accountant” who was not a CPA? Would they entrust their freedom to an attorney who went by that title but had not passed the bar? Would they board a plane whose pilot was not certified by the FAA? Do they deny that teaching is a legitimate profession? If not, then why ridicule the union for upholding the validity of the credentials of the education profession? Job qualifications are not “technicalities.” The Post supported the mayor a few years ago when he insisted on teachers being certified and ignorant people at the time blamed the union for supposedly protecting non-certified teachers for its own selfish reasons. Nonsense! The union is right to stand up for standards and against hypocrisy.

Support the Stella D’Oro Strikers on April 1

Show your support for the striking Stella D’Oro workers tomorrow, Wednesday April 1, at 3 p.m., by joining their demonstration outside the Stella D’Oro plant at Broadway and W. 237th St.

Their union, Local 50 of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, called the strike when new company management walked out of negotiations on Aug. 13, 2008.

stelladorostrike2008.com | flyer

Stella D'Oro Strike

Fair Share Tax Reform is a Reality

From the Fair Share Blog:

Governor David Paterson and the New York Legislature outlined a $131.8 billion agreement on Sunday, a move representing the conclusion of lengthy — and secretive — budget negotiations. When finalized, the agreement would close the state’s gaping deficit through a combination of billions of dollars in new taxes, financing from the federal stimulus and a substantial slowdown in the growth of health care spending.

According to the New York Times, “A major part of the tax portion will come from a plan to temporarily raise taxes on New York’s highest earners, starting with single filers who earn more than $200,000 and married and joint filers who make more than $300,000.”

This is a great step for New York. This sort of tax reform will raise sorely needed revenue and reduce the magnitude of painful cuts to healthcare, education and other essential services New Yorkers rely on every day. As we’ve said before, a fair solution to the budget crisis will necessarily mean cuts to popular programs — but the wealthiest New Yorkers must also pitch in and shoulder a reasonable share of the burden.

Board Certifies Los Angeles Charter School Union

From the AFT:

The newly organized Accelerated Charter School in downtown Los Angeles has been certified as the first startup independent charter to join United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), a breakthrough for the Los Angeles union.

The California Public Employment Relations Board granted UTLA recognition in March as the school’s bargaining agent. The step is notable not only because Accelerated is now the first independent charter in the union, but also because of hopes that it will become a model for unionized charter schools.

More »

A Case of Educational Injustice

PS 194, the Countee Cullen School, is nestled in the heart of Harlem in Community School District Five, one of the poorer districts in New York City. On a Tuesday evening a few weeks ago, it was the scene of a tense hearing. The full school auditorium was fiercely divided into two camps — on the one side, parents of PS 194 students fighting to keep their neighborhood school open, and on the other side, Eva Moskowitz and her supporters demanding that the entire building be turned over to her Harlem Success Academies.

Behind that conflict was the New York City Department of Education — and not just because it was the DOE which was planning to replace PS 194 entirely with one of Moskowitz’s schools. More »

The Education Wars

We’re a little late in posting this, but if you haven’t yet seen it, it’s worth a read.

Randi Weingarten and the AFT are the subjects of a feature article in the current issue of the American Prospect. The piece by Dana Goldstein in the March 23 issue, titled “The Education Wars,” looks at how Weingarten “has become the national face of the teachers’ union movement” since assuming the AFT presidency last July. The topics touched on in this wide-ranging article include the Washington Teachers’ Union’s ongoing fight for a fair contract, Weingarten’s experiences with school reform in New York City, charter schools, national standards, Democratic Party politics, the teachers unions’ relations with the Obama administration, and more.

Giant Steps

[Editor's note: Señorita in the City is the pseudonym of a second-year teacher in a high school in Manhattan.]

HealthCorps

For the past two years, my school has been one of 44 across the United States to benefit from HealthCorps. A program founded by Dr. Mehmet Oz (of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” fame) with the goal of “educating the student body,” HealthCorps trains recent college graduates interested in public health issues and places them in schools where they plan activities promoting healthy diet and lifestyle among teens. Since the focus is on students, it was a real surprise how much HealthCorps helped to improve the morale of the school staff. More »

AFT Members Attend White House Town Hall Meeting

Ten AFT educators were among the invited guests at the White House on March 26 when President Obama hosted a first-ever online town hall meeting on the economy. The president answered questions submitted by visitors to the White House’s Web site as well as from those in attendance. More »

Video: Weingarten on “Brian Lehrer Live” [Updated]

AFT/UFT President Randi Weingarten appeared on “Brian Lehrer Live” on March 25. She spoke about the federal stimulus bill, President Obama’s education plans, fair share tax reform, and mayoral control. The clip is above.

Greg David, Editorial Director of Crain’s New York Business, and Manhattan BP Scott Stringer also appeared on Wednesday’s show.

Click here to view the entire episode [RealVideo]. (Weingarten’s segment begins at the 9:50 mark and ends at 26:34.)

Setting the Record Straight: KIPP and the UFT

Richard Barth, the CEO of the national KIPP Foundation, has been circulating a media advisory which, he says, provides an “update” on “union activity involving KIPP schools in New York City.”

According to Barth’s advisory, the UFT has been seeking to “exert more control” over KIPP Academy and KIPP Infinity, two New York City KIPP charter schools. As a result, the teachers at the two schools “have signed petitions to disassociate themselves from the UFT.” Echoing the themes of a statement sent to a number of prominent educational blogs last Friday in the name of the teachers, Barth contends that the UFT was a threat to collaboration in the schools.

Readers looking for particulars in the Barth advisory and the original statement will only find passing mention of two UFT actions – a set of grievances filed at KIPP Academy in January 2009 and a proposal that the teachers at KIPP Infinity begin bargaining their own school-based agreement. These actions, we were told, could “compromise the strong environment of communication and collaboration that is integral to the success of [KIPP] schools.”

Here are the facts behind those claims. More »

Watch Randi Weingarten on “Brian Lehrer Live” this Wednesday

Brian Lehrer Live

AFT/UFT President Randi Weingarten will appear on “Brian Lehrer Live” on CUNY TV (Channel 75 on Time Warner Cable), on Wednesday, March 25 from 7:30-8:30 p.m. She’ll be discussing the federal stimulus as well as state budget issues and will appear on the first segment of the show.

Be sure to tune in!

If you miss the show or do not have Time Warner Cable, go to the show’s archive sometime after the scheduled broadcast to view the episode online. We’ll also post a link to it here on Edwize.

AFT Wants to Know

Should there be national content standards?

Share your opinion in the AFT’s new survey.

[Last month Randi Weingarten made a case for national standards.]

The Case for Curriculum-Based Reading Tests

In a New York Times op-ed, E.D. Hirsch, Jr. argues for a simple change to reading tests: ditch the random comprehension passages in favor of curriculum-focused ones. He made this case last year in the AFT’s American Educator, which we covered here at Edwize. Key passage:

Students now must take annual reading tests from third grade through eighth. If the reading passages on each test were culled from each grade’s specific curricular content in literature, science, history, geography and the arts, the tests would exhibit what researchers call “consequential validity” — meaning that the tests would actually help improve education. Test preparation would focus on the content of the tests, rather than continue the fruitless attempt to teach test taking.

More »

New York Teacher

Highlights from the latest issue of New York Teacher:

70,000 rally to protect communities

With upwards of 70,000 labor union members and community groups flooding lower Broadway on a frigid late afternoon on March 5, New York City showed once again that it is a town that cares.

What was it about President Obama’s first major speech on education that left so many teachers surprised, disappointed, and even angry? UFT President Randi Weingarten offers her perspective.

Once again this year the UFT is pressuring the DOE to scuttle excessive paperwork requirements that have buried teachers. More »

The Tweet to Beat

Do you use Twitter? With a couple of clicks you could help raise money for DonorsChoose.org, the site that matches classroom project proposals with real live benefactors.

Tim Ferriss, San Francisco-based productivity guru and bestselling author of The 4-Hour Workweek, is attracting new Twitter followers with this “ethical bribe”:

For every new Twitter follower in the next two weeks, I will donate $1 to DonorsChoose.org, and an anonymous supporter will match $2, for a total of $3 to U.S. public school classrooms per follower. For now, the matching limit is tentatively capped at 50,000 new followers, though I’m open to increasing it later. 50,000 new followers would mean $150,000 to U.S. public school education, and I hope to double or triple this total with a few twists.

For more information, go to Ferriss’s blog. Click here for his Twitter page.