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Archive for November, 2011

Teachers, the Other 1%

The Daily News has an op-ed that asks, “Does a corporate chief deserve to make in a day what our educators make in a year?”

I’d like to begin by thanking my teachers in the fifth, sixth and seventh grades, Mrs. Pulaski, Mr. Burke and Miss Elmer. They taught us percentages and showed us how to “round down,” which I am doing now. The U.S. population is 312,624,000, and we have 3,198,000 public school teachers, which computes to 1%.

But this is not the 1% composed of Wall Street fat cats, professional athletes, entertainers and other rich people. I guarantee there’s no overlap between the two groups. The average teacher today earns about $55,000. At least 75 CEOs earn that much in one day, every day, 365 days a year. According to the AFL-CIO’s “Executive PayWatch,” the CEO who ranked No. 75, David Cote of Honeywell, was paid $20,154,012, for a daily rate of $55,216.47.

New York Teacher

New York Teacher, Nov. 24, 2011Highlights from the Nov. 24 issue of New York Teacher:

An idea whose time has come can’t be evicted
30,000 rally in Foley Square as Occupy movement continues to focus attention on critical issues

Two days after being evicted from its home base in Zuccotti Park, the Occupy Wall Street movement roared its response on Nov. 17 as more than 30,000 workers, students and community members gathered in Foley Square to mark the movement’s two-month anniversary and call for jobs and economic justice.

‘Landslide’ victory in Ohio lauded
UFTers helped swing vote in favor of public-sector workers, Mulgrew says

UFT President Michael Mulgrew opened the Nov. 9 Delegate Assembly with some good news: in Ohio the previous day, voters turned back by a 61-39 percent margin an attempt to prevent public-sector workers from being able to bargain collectively.
He noted that 25 UFT retirees and staffers had been on the ground in Ohio, knocking on doors and making phone calls to talk about the issue and get out the vote.

Donovan re-elected Staten Island district attorney
UFT-endorsed candidate Dan Donovan was re-elected as district attorney for Staten Island on Election Day. Donovan, a Republican who became the borough’s DA in 2004, was re-elected for the second time with 70 percent of the vote. “Dan has a great record and educators did a great job backing him,” UFT Staten Island Representative Emil Pietromonaco said.

School secretaries feel the squeeze
School secretaries throughout the city are feeling overworked and under pressure as their ranks have thinned as secretaries leave and retire and are not replaced, according to UFT representatives. The number of school secretaries has dropped nearly 15 percent between October 2008, when there were 3,537, and this October, when there were only 3,047. More »

Thank a Teacher on Nov. 25, StoryCorps’ National Day of Listening

StoryCorps is asking everyone to take a few minutes to say thanks to a favorite teacher on the day after Thanksgiving.

Whether posting a memory to Facebook (@storycorps), thanking them on Twitter (@storycorps, #thankateacher), taping a tribute on YouTube or sending a ‘thank you’ card, the 2011 National Day of Listening will send a powerful and necessary message to teachers across the nation: they matter, and we as a nation are grateful for the impact they have on our lives.

You can also record a face-to-face interview with a teacher—or anyone else you’d like to honor for the National Day of Listening—using the the tools on this page.

Once you have participated, tell us about it on our Wall of Listening.

Meet the New Schools, Same as the Old Schools

Every year, Mayor Bloomberg’s DOE creates a new list of struggling schools. Once the schools have been identified, the DOE generally moves to shut them down.

This year of the 21 high schools have landed on Bloomberg’s latest struggling schools list, at least 8 (38%) are new schools that were opened on Bloomberg’s watch.

And, when you consider that Bloomberg’s new high schools represent about 40% of all existing high schools,1 you quickly realize that Bloomberg is shutting his new schools at about the same rate that he shuts the older ones. Put another way, this year, DOE is thinking of closing 5.4% of its new schools and 5.8% of its old.

Figure out the sense in that. But if you can’t (because I can’t), read on. More »

Blessings in Disguise

[Editor’s note: Miss Endurance is the pseudonym of a fourth-year teacher in an elementary school on Staten Island.]

It’s never a good sign when your principal calls during summer vacation.

In the summer of 2010 my world was turned upside down with seven words: “I have to move you to kindergarten.” Here I was, with just two years of teaching under my belt (teaching fourth and fifth grade), being forced to move to the “dungeon” (which is how the upper-grade teachers lovingly referred to the kindergarten floor). I panicked — I didn’t know the first thing about teaching four- and five-year-olds! But I really had no idea that a year later I’d be looking back on my kindergarten experience with fondness and a sense of accomplishment.

I felt ill-equipped for the job. I never considered myself a very patient person, and the idea of having to deal with things like “Johnny took my pencil!” and “I want my mommy!” made me break out into hives. I’m artistically challenged, and I dreaded kindergarten art projects. My biggest fear was selling my students short — it wasn’t their fault they had a newbie teacher.

On the first day of school the little ones looked about as scared as I was. I had done my best to prepare myself — I learned circle songs and absorbed as much as I could from the veteran teachers on the grade. Nevertheless, feelings of inadequacy haunted me every day.

Then, slowly but surely, I started to get into the swing of things. More »

Hawaiian Singer to Obama: “Occupy With Aloha”

“We’ll occupy the streets, we’ll occupy the courts, we’ll occupy the offices of you, till you do the bidding of the many, not the few.”

Hawaiian singer-songwriter Makana turned his gig playing dinner music for President Obama and Asia-Pacific leaders into a “subtle protest,” according to AFP, when he sang a 40-minute version of his new Occupy Wall Street-inspired song “We Are The Many.”

Makana, who goes by one name, was enlisted to play a luau, or Hawaiian feast, Saturday night for leaders assembled in Obama’s birthplace Honolulu for an annual summit that is formulating plans for a Pacific free-trade pact.

But in the midst of the dinner on the resort strip Waikiki Beach, he pulled open his jacket to reveal a T-shirt that read “Occupy with Aloha,” using the Hawaiian word whose various meanings include love and peace. He then sang a marathon version of his new song “We Are The Many.”

Class Warfare

Why Bloomberg is afraid of Occupy Wall Street:
“Through the tax code, there has been class warfare waged, and my class has won,” Buffett said. “It’s been a rout. You have seen a period where American workers generally have gone no place, and where the really super rich as a group increased their incomes five for one in this rarefied atmosphere.”

Labor Communicators to Host Panel Discussion on Nov. 16

The Changing Face of Militancy panel discussion, Nov. 16, 2011There was a time that labor unions and the communities they are part of only went their separate ways. That is no longer possible. Both have realized that in this economic climate alone they are easy pickings for the corporate entities that care only for profits and not one whit for the betterment of the society they seem to own.

Metro New York Labor Communications Council presents a discussion of today’s fight back and the coming together of natural allies.

Wednesday, November 16, 6-8 PM
Harry Van Arsdale Jr. Center for Labor Studies | SUNY Empire State
325 Hudson Street @ Vandam Street

PANELISTS

  • Frances Fox Piven, Professor of political science and sociology at The Graduate Center, City University of New York
  • Ava Farkas, Coordinator, Living Wage NYC Campaign
  • Rev. Que English, President, Senior Pastor, Bronx Christian Fellowship Church; Bronx Clergy Legislative Roundtable; member, Faith Caucus
    Living Wage NYC Campaign
  • Chuck Zlatkin, Legislative and Political Director,New York Metro Area Postal Union
  • Julio Pabon, President, South Bronx Community Organization

MODERATOR

  • Bill Henning, Vice President, CWA Local 1180

LINKS

Stand for Freedom March & Rally on Dec. 10

This year, two-thirds of state legislatures have introduced laws that undermine the right to vote. Early voting and Sunday voting are under attack. Photo ID requirements will introduce the first financial and document barrier to voting since the poll tax.

Join a coalition of labor unions and community organizations as we rally to protect our voting rights on Saturday, Dec. 10, United Nations’ Human Rights Day.

11 a.m.: March from the offices of the Koch brothers, major funders of anti-voting measures, located at 61st Street and Madison Avenue.

12 noon: Rally at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza at the United Nations located at East 47th Street and Second Avenue in Manhattan.

See the flier for more details »

New York Teacher

New York Teacher, Nov. 10, 2011Highlights from the Nov. 10 issue of New York Teacher:

Plan in works to improve pension fund returns
UFT President Michael Mulgrew, City Comptroller John Liu, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other municipal union leaders announced an agreement in principle on Oct. 27 to create a new investment advisory board that will oversee the investment process for all five New York City pension funds.

Enough is enough!
UFT survey finds great damage done to schools

Standing with teachers and families in front of PS 1 in Manhattan’s Chinatown on Nov. 1, UFT President Michael Mulgrew revealed the results of a new UFT survey that confirms the devastating effects of three years of budget cuts on the city’s schools.

Gym dandies
Mighty Miler program helps teachers fill schools’ physical education voids

Teachers are launching their own initiatives to step into the breach created by the Department of Education’s failure to comply with state requirements for physical activity in city schools. With 40 percent of city schoolchildren overweight or obese, teachers have started Mighty Miler walking, jogging and running clubs that take place before, after and during school.

Bad-times budgets cut to the bone
Budget cuts reported in percentages are troubling enough, but budget cuts reported in the words of teachers in the schools convey the flesh-and-blood wounds that cuts can cause. A new UFT survey of chapter leaders showed teachers fear for their students’ futures as class sizes ballooned over three years and schools lost tutoring, academic intervention services, enrichment classes and support staff. More »

DFER: Lemmings Are Us

Michael Winerip’s New York Times column on the implementation of Tennessee’s teacher evaluation system, “In Tennessee, Following the Rules for Evaluations Off a Cliff,” provides a picture of how wrong a teacher evaluation system can go when it is focused more on the quantity than the quality of lesson observations, and when the value-added measures on standardized tests are treated as the Holy Grail.

The response of DFER? Don’t even think about deviating one inch from the mad rush toward that cliff.

We’re Not Broke

This video from The Story of Stuff Project asks: “Why is there always enough money for the “dinosaur economy” — from Big Oil to bailouts to big banks — but when it comes to building a better future we’re supposedly broke?”

Ohio Speaks, Loud And Clear

The union-busting law of Ohio Governor Kasich and his Tea Party Republicans, which took away public sector workers’ rights to have a union and bargain collectively, is going down to crushing defeat. The margin has been 63% for repeal, 37% for keeping the law for the last hour.

Standing Up For Workers’ Rights in Ohio

UFT Legislative Representative Michael Davoli was in Ohio this weekend helping to get the word out to voters that a NO vote on ballot Issue 2 this Election Day is a vote to protect the collective bargaining rights of working Ohioans. He wrote about his experience.

Saturday, Nov. 5, 2011, 6:11 p.m. Oh, what a day to be in Ohio. Today was an absolutely beautiful day to be knocking on doors for an incredibly important cause. The temperature reached into the low sixties, the sun was shining all day, the colors of the fall leaves were peaking and the people were friendly. After landing in Cincinnati late Friday afternoon we headed over to the Ohio AFL-CIO campaign headquarters for a campaign briefing with the AFT campaign staff. There we met up with some of our brothers and sisters from NYSUT locals across New York State who have been out in Ohio for a few days. After getting a late dinner at a classic Cincinnati rib joint it was time to hit the sack in preparation for a few big days of campaigning.

UFT Parent and Community Liaison Nick Cruz signs a "We Are Ohio" pledge at campaign headquarters.

Saturday morning started bright and earlier for the nine of us from New York. After grabbing a quick breakfast we headed over to the IBEW office where over one hundred labor volunteers from across the country were preparing to knock on doors. This was it. This was ground zero for the labor movement in Ohio and the nation. This was where union members — from teachers to police to firefighters and municipal employees — were going to make their stand against the forces of corporate America who were trying to break the backs of working people. We were here to help fight back. More »

NYC Labor Chorus 20th Anniversary Concert, Nov. 5

NYC Labor Chorus 20th anniversary concertThe New York City Labor Chorus, with 75 members representing over 20 labor unions and district councils, will celebrate its 20th anniversary with a performance at Town Hall this Saturday, Nov. 5. See the flier for more information.