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New York Teacher

New York TeacherHighlights from the Oct. 14 issue of New York Teacher:

A ‘Nation’ comes together
Jobs. Justice. Education. These were the rallying cries in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 2, as hundreds of thousands of Americans descended on the National Mall for the historic One Nation Working Together march and rally.

Managing to succeed
They’re dressed in suits or business casual, are forthcoming, discuss things like work flow and subliminal images, and have firm handshakes as they thank you for coming. They’re teenagers. You are not dreaming. You have simply stepped into a parallel universe of high school seniors who run Virtual Management & Insurance at Staten Island’s New Dorp HS.

Plenty of kryptonite in ‘Superman’
“Waiting for Superman,” the new documentary from director Davis Guggenheim, of “An Inconvenient Truth” fame, purports to reveal the real truth about what ails public education and how to fix it. In fact, the film is simplistic and naive, repeating a series of “convenient mistruths” — mostly about teachers and their unions — touted by the so-called education reformers in place of any real substance.

Charters underperform district schools
The School Progress Reports delivered a surprise to charter advocates: As a group, charters did not do as well as the city’s regular district schools, even though the charters do not serve as many high-needs students.

Mulgrew: Grades are meaningless
The 2010 School Progress Reports generated more heat than light on Sept. 30, when the Department of Education reported that just one quarter of 1,140 elementary and middle schools got A’s, down from 84 percent last year. The sharp drop caused an outcry in the schools, where educators and parents said the reports did not reflect the schools they knew. “The scores are becoming more and more meaningless,” UFT President Michael Mulgrew said.

DOE bashed for reliance on testing
The Department of Education’s heavy reliance on standardized test scores — for everything from school closing decisions to teacher evaluations, student promotion and even curriculum — came under attack Sept. 27 at City Council hearings, called to look into the sudden drop in scores last year.

Deadline to get Teacher Union Day tickets is Oct. 22
The date was Nov. 7, 1960. Some 5,600 New York City public school teachers, members of the fledgling United Federation of Teachers, went on strike against the Board of Education for the first time, with another 2,000 calling in sick. “We made history that day,” Abe Levine, one of the union’s founders who still puts almost all of his energy into the cause of teacher unionism, recalls proudly.

Take part in Election 2010 UFT phone banking
The upcoming elections on Nov. 2 are critical for UFT members. We have all been subjected to the teacher bashing that has taken place over the last couple of weeks. This is our chance to make sure that we stand behind those candidates who support us, especially in races that are hotly contested.

Unions back Avella in key Queens Senate race
UFT President Michael Mulgrew announced NYSUT’s support for Tony Avella, the Democratic nominee, in his state Senate race against Republican incumbent Frank Padavan in Queens’ 11th Senate District.

UFT: Less than meets eye in mayor’s tenure proposals
The UFT shot back at Mayor Michael Bloomberg after he complained on Sept. 27 that the process of awarding tenure had become “automatic” and announced that the city would tighten its requirements for earning tenure. “The ‘automatic’ tenure process that he complains about is automatic only if the administration allows it to be,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew. “The law is clear that tenure is supposed to be granted based upon a teacher’s work.”

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