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Archive for March, 2009

A Day in Albany

NY State Senate Majority Leader Malcolm A. Smith addresses a delegation of UFTers and their guests in Albany.

NY State Senate Majority Leader Malcolm A. Smith addresses a delegation of UFTers and their guests in Albany.

March 17 was UFT Albany Lobby Day. It was a day for UFTers to have their say about the state of education inside the chambers of legislative officials. The message was clear: “Invest in education because kids don’t get a second chance.” It was also an opportunity for legislators to articulate their positions on the current financial crisis, the recession, and the budget deficit. More »

Rally to save PS 150

PS 150Parents, students, teachers and concerned community residents, joined by New York City Councilmember Charles Barron and UFT reps, will demonstrate in front of PS 150 in Brooklyn today at 3:30 p.m. in protest of the DOE’s plan to close the school without hearings or community input.

Can My Boss Do That?

Are you unemployed? Having trouble at work? Don’t know your rights?

Then www.CanMyBossDoThat.com is for you. There are many reasons why employees ask themselves, “Can my boss do that?” Work rules, hiring and firing, work safety, pay, benefits, time off, and workers’ rights are all concerns addressed on this new Web site designed to ensure that all workers are treated justly. Whatever your reason for asking “Can my boss do that?” this Web site will be a helpful resource for you.

Visit or share www.CanMyBossDoThat.com and continue your journey toward justice.

Can My Boss Do That? is a project of Interfaith Worker Justice.

What Makes a “Good” Teacher?

I was fascinated the other day at how even a smart, reasonable journalist like the Times’ David Brooks can misunderstand the near impossibility of actually creating a fair, effective merit pay system as opposed to simply endorsing the concept.

He starts his March 13 editorial praising President Obama’s “reform vision” as articulated in his education speech the other day — especially the parts that elevated “relationships and rigor.” More »

Community Rallies Against “Principal In Need of Improvement”

On March 13 scores of parents, students, educators and concerned community residents demonstrated in front of Roosevelt High School campus building housing the Fordham High School for the Arts to protest five years of alleged harassment, unprofessional conduct, verbal abuse and other mistreatment of teachers and other staffers by Principal Iris Blige that resulted in the departure of nine assistant principals and dozens of educators since she became principal.

Educational Carnage In California

The New York Times reports that this week over 26,000 California teachers and over 15,000 school related personnel such as secretaries, bus drivers and janitors will receive lay-off notices for the coming school year.

Deconstructing Mathematica Study

Among the ranks of market fundamentalist education reformers, it is an article of faith that teacher preparation and teacher professional credentials predict nothing about the classroom effectiveness of teachers. A recent Mathematica study claimed that teachers who came to the profession through alternative routes that had little advance preparation did no worse than teachers who came out of traditional teacher preparation programs.

In a review of the Mathematica study, Sean P. Corcoran and Jennifer L. Jennings [until recently Eduwonkette] show that there is good evidence that alternatively certified teachers performed worse in math in grades 2-5, that alternatively certified teachers taking coursework performed worse in math, and that alternatively certified teachers received much lower principal evaluations and also much lower observational evaluations when their classrooms were observed by Mathematica researchers.

“Value the actual work that school people do every day”

Teachers, parents, administrators, and advocates react to the Timesrecent piece on Joel Klein with letters to the editor. Here’s one:

To the Editor:

Re “Debate on New York Schools Pivots on One Man at the Top” (“Controlling Interests” series, front page, March 6):

I worked in the schools of New York City for 30 years as a teacher and principal. As a consultant, I visited schools all over the country and met with teachers, principals and parents. I raised two children who attended New York City public schools.

From those experiences, perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned is this: In order to create positive change in schools, the major focus must be on teaching and learning — what goes on in classrooms between teachers and students, every day and every minute of those days.

More »

Job Announcement: Multiple Teaching Positions Available

Green DotFrom Green Dot:

Come join the Green Dot New York Charter School and help lead the effort to transform public education to ensure that all children receive the education they need to fulfill their dreams! More »

NYT on Obama’s Big Speech

If you haven’t already, read the New York Times editorial on Obama’s education plans. A snippet:

Mr. Obama spoke in terms that everyone could understand when he noted that only a third of 13- and 14-year-olds read as well as they should and that this country’s curriculum for eighth graders is two full years behind other top-performing nations. Part of the problem, he said, is that this nation’s schools have recently been engaged in “a race to the bottom” — most states have adopted abysmally low standards and weak tests so that students who are performing poorly in objective terms can look like high achievers come test time.

Related: Last month, Randi Weingarten made the case for national standards.

AFT Ready to Work with Obama on Ed Reform

On Tuesday President Obama delivered a major speech on education to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Washington, in which he said, “It is time to give all Americans a complete and competitive education from the cradle up through a career.”

The Huffington Post published a short reaction piece by Randi Weingarten. The takeaway:

So, make no mistake, chattering classes, there is a difference between the last eight years of education policymaking and what occurred today — namely that teachers’ voices will be a part of developing solutions. (And can you imagine if we took all the energy used to divine and contrive political battle lines in this country, and instead used it to help teachers and their unions help kids?) As with any public policy, the devil is in the details, and this time around teachers will play a role in fleshing out the details of President Obama’s plans.

The AFT stands ready to work with the president to make America the leader in public education. And we are grateful that, in Barack Obama, we have a president who is ready to work with us.

New York Teacher

Highlights from the latest issue of New York Teacher:

UFTers hope New Yorkers get the message

UFT members hit the streets and commuter hubs in the two-week run-up to the March 5 “save our services” demonstration.

Despite the injection of billions of federal dollars, New York City’s school budget will likely still require significant spending cuts.

Teacher Centers might be on the state’s endangered list, but principals and classroom educators prize them. More »

A History Lesson In Anti-Unionism

Over at  LaborNerd, we are provided a very interesting history lesson that compares the opposition of corporate behemoths to the Wagner Act in the 1930s and to the Employee Free Choice Act today. Here it is:

Let’s play a game! Below are six quotes from various conservative politicians, business representatives and other organizations. Three of them are from the 1930s and were aimed at the Wagner Act. The other three are about the Employee Free Choice Act. Can you guess which are which? Answers below the fold.

1. “Specifically, the provisions of the bill will operate to provoke and encourage labor disputes, rather than diminish them . . . Its real effect will be to serve as a vehicle for the advancement of the selfish interests of minority labor organizations.”

2. “Unions want it because it would make it easier to recruit dues-paying members, not because it would somehow defend workers’ right to choose freely to unionize.”

3. “To support labor in this objective by enacting this bill would permanently close the door to recovery.”

4. “The act is a poison pill for our ailing economy, which is why every major business organization from every industry sector has come out in strong opposition to it.”

5. “My general criticism of the . . . bill is not so much that it supports unionization as that it will in operation result in enforced unionization.”

6. “Labor unions are supposed to protect workers’ rights, yet union bosses want Congress to pass a law that actually robs workers of their democratic right . . . through a forced unionization process.”

More »

“We don’t need no stinkin’ badges”

The Treasure of the Sierra MadreThis celebration of vigilantism from the film “The Treasure of Sierra Madre” comes unavoidably to mind in thinking about this whole business of increasing class sizes. In the film, Mexican bandits posing as “federales” surprise a group of American gold prospectors. One of the Americans (Humphrey Bogart) demands to see their badges. “Badges?” replies Mexican actor Alfonso Bedoya, with a fabulous sneer. “We don’t need no stinkin’ badges.”

Class sizes rose in almost every grade this year, despite an infusion of almost $150 million from State Ed specifically to lower class sizes. Was there an explanation? Really not. More »

A Day at City Hall

On March 5 a huge coalition of concerned citizens participated in an impressive rally at City Hall. The urgency to protest the impeding cuts to vital human services by the city administration was enough to cause New Yorkers to take to the city pavement en masse. The people of the City of New York were raising their voices, placards, and leaflets in an effort to get the word out to the Mayor: additional cuts will be devastating to students, workers, and their families. More »