Tuesday, October 26, 2010

GEM Points of Unity

Posted Oct. 26, 2010
Points of Unity: Grassroots Education Movement

WHERE WE STAND: We support public education and reject the assumption that the private sector can more effectively provide public services.  A democratic society is dependent upon the success of its public education system. Attacks on public education undermine democracy. In order to create a meaningful educational reform movement, it is vital that teachers, parents, students, school workers and community members organize and unite with the common goal of defending and improving public education.

Every child deserves a high quality free public education. The struggle for free quality public education is a civil and human rights issue. No matter the race, socioeconomic background, gender, home language or neighborhood, every child deserves a high quality free public education.

Democratic school governance is a critical component of a democratic society. Parent, teacher, and student voices should have significant weight in the decision-making process. When one elected official (a mayor, for example) controls a school system, the public’s ability to participate is limited or even eliminated.

Direct and meaningful support—financial, material and human—must be provided to public schools, especially those who encounter difficulty. Arbitrary restructuring, phasing out, and the closure of schools have serious consequences for students, teachers and their communities. These misguided practices have not improved education.

Access to a high quality public education is not something that should be won in a lottery—it is a most basic human and civil right. Charter schools allow entry only by lottery, and are not truly public schools. They do not serve our most needy students, and they frequently divide communities, sparking intense competition over resources. While charter schools are publically financed in part, they operate under complete private control.

Public schools must offer a curriculum that is meaningful, relevant and engaging. Student interest should be a spark for learning in the classroom. The emergence of scripted curricula has resulted in a degradation of teacher and student creativity. 

Full and equitable funding for ALL of our public schools. Urban schools have historically been underfunded, which has negatively affected the level of education our students receive.

Smaller class sizes that allow each student to receive the attention he/she needs and deserves. This is a key
pathway to ensuring our students receive a quality education. The differential in class sizes between urban and suburban schools is a major indicator of the disparities in education.

A humane and progressive system of assessment that assumes teachers are in the best position to assess their students. Using a variety of tools (including tests), teachers and students can work together to improve teaching and learning. A system based on high stakes testing results in a test-driven curriculum, which de-skills teachers, dumbs down the teaching and learning process, and stifles creative and critical thinking. We oppose both the use of high stakes test results to evaluate students, teachers and schools and merit pay based on these evaluations.

School security measures that are used to foster dignity, trust and a sense of community, rather than a police presence and system based on punitive control.  

Guaranteed job placement—at other public schools or programs—for educators who are displaced due to program or school closings. Educators must be contractually protected with seniority transfer rights. We oppose any political attempt to fire and scapegoat ATR’s (Absent Teacher Reserve teachers) who have worked in so-called “failing” schools.

A strong teacher’s union built on a foundation of an active, participatory and mobilized rank and file with a democratically elected leadership that is truly accountable to its members. We are committed to building such a union at the grassroots level.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

GEM General Open Meeting on School Closings: Tuesday, Oct. 26

**** please forward widely ****

School Closings
An Educational Solution or a Political Attack on Public Education?

Tuesday, October 26 4:30-7 pm
CUNY Graduate Center
34th and 5th Ave. Room 5414 (Bring ID)
Trains:  N, R, D, F, Q, B, W, V, 6, 1/2/3
Grassroots Education Movement 

·            What is the impact of closing schools on students, parents and teachers?
·            How is closing schools being used to dismantle and undermine the public education system?
·            What is the effect of closing schools on our educational system?
·            Can schools under threat band together to fight back en masse?
·            How can GEM and others work within the UFT and schools to create an effective fightback movement?
·            Help put together a toolkit that schools can use to fight back. See a draft at the GEM blog.

President Obama has called for the closing down of 5000 supposedly failing schools nationwide. Here in NYC the Bloomberg/Klein administration has closed over 100 schools, with dozens more slated to get the ax. Smaller public schools or charters have replaced many. In both instances, there is some proof that through various means students with the most intense needs are not accepted with the same frequency as the traditional public schools.

School closings, reorganizations, reconstitutions, and "turn arounds" have become a mainstay of the so-called education reformers, code words used by edubusiness free marketeers. Are the educational needs of students the main consideration? Or, lurking in the background, is this merely a tactic to empty school buildings of tenured, unionized, and higher-cost more senior teachers, as well as the most at risk students, and to replace these schools with charter schools run by privatized interests with the right political connections?

What can schools in NYC do to fight back? The UFT has shown it can be a force in mobilizing thousands of people (PEP, Jan. 2010) and win the high ground, but has relied on a court case which was won based on narrow procedural grounds instead of the broader issue of whether closing down schools is sound educational policy. While the 19 schools were ordered kept open for one more year (Klein has made it clear he will attempt to close them this year) the DOE undermined attempts to recruit entering freshmen.  Meanwhile, the UFT and the DOE agreed to allow new schools to open in some of these buildings, thus further undermining them.

In Chicago, the actions of teachers, parents and students managed to reverse decisions to close six schools. Can an alliance between schools under attack be forged to create a strong response? Bring your experiences and ideas to a discussion with the Grassroots Education Movement (GEM).  Join with others in attempting to analyze what is behind the mania for closing down public schools and destabilizing education in low-income neighborhoods.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Video of District 3 Press Conference Over HSA Invasion at PS 145

On 10/19/10 the District 3 Community Education Council (CEC3) held a press conference at PS 145 that included members of CEC 3, parents, teachers and students from PS 145 and elected officials who stood unanimously against the DoE's plan to give space at PS 145 to Eva Moskowitz's and Harlem Success Academy Charter School (HSA).
The DoE's planned co-location, according to Noah Gotbaum, who is the President of CEC 3, is taking place without any public comment, without any discussion with the schools or district and without a vote. This planned collocation by Joel Klein and the DoE puts an $11 million dollar grant for 8 Harlem public schools in serious jeopardy. The DoE is willing to sacrifice both PS 145's and the 7 other District 3 public school's share of the of the $11 million dollar grant. Watch the videos to learn all about it. They may be long, but the speakers speak powerfully about the hostile takeover and destruction of public education in the Harlem Community.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

GEM's Julie Cavanagh at The Huffington Post

Julie Cavanagh

Julie Cavanagh

Posted: October 19, 2010 05:28 PM

I recently found myself reflecting on a class I took in college that examined emotional and behavioral disabilities. One of the behavior modification methods discussed was pointing one's finger as a visual reinforcer in tandem with a verbal reinforcer being given to a child. I remember being outraged by this, "who wags their finger at a child?" I queried. Fast forward 11 years later, and I probably wag my finger on a daily basis. Although my repertoire of behavior modification techniques includes positive reinforcement and other tricks, a simple, "No, no," along with a slight finger wag, sends a brief, but easily understood message to my students.

As surprised as I have been to find myself wagging my finger to correct a thrown toy or an excited push for the jungle gym, I was even more surprised this month to find myself wagging my finger at New York City Schools' Chancellor Joel Klein.

At this month's Panel for Educational Policy (The Panel has replaced the old Board of Education here in New York City under Mayoral Control) Chancellor Klein engaged in an exchange with panel member, Patrick Sullivan, regarding the merit of Mr. Klein's focus on charter schools at a time when all of the data is showing charters are not the panacea Klein and other "reformers" make them out to be. This was particularly relevant because this meeting was to focus on changes to Chancellor's Regulation A-190. This regulation governs the closure of a school or a co-location of a charter school within a public school building.

Mr. Sullivan questioned Mr. Klein's gusto for charter schools and alerted the Panel and the public to the facts:

  1. Klein and Bloomberg's own school report card accountability system shows NYC public schools dramatically outperform charters in the city.
  2. Two of lionized charter school founder Geoffrey Canada's schools received C's on the school report cards.
  3. Ross Global Academy, a DOE authorized charter, received an F, and is dead last out of every school in the city.
  4. While charters may have long waiting lists, as Mr. Klein noted, those lists are manufactured with millions in marketing dollars, money siphoned away from students.
  5. Only one in five charters perform better than public schools; that means the vast majority do not.
Mr. Klein postured that, "... the debate between district schools and charter schools is a false one," and that anyone who engages in this debate is, "... just playing politics." He went on to say that good schools should be replicated, regardless of whether they are public or charter. To a person who may not be intimately associated with Chancellor Klein's policies and ideology, these may sound like benign statements. But, to those of us who have been the victims of his misguided infatuation with charter schools, these statements were astounding. His actions, sadly, have not and do not support this message.

My school was forced to co-locate with a charter school three years ago. The co-location has been nothing short of a disaster that has drained our resources in a myriad of ways. What is most troubling, is that my school is an "A" school, according to Klein's school report cards, and performs better than 95 percent of elementary schools in New York City by every measure. So, during public comment time, I had no choice but to approach the microphone, raise my finger, and explain to Chancellor Klein and the Panel that I had taught all day, took three trains to the Bronx to attend the meeting, and could guarantee that neither my interest nor my motivation was politics. I further pointed out to Mr. Klein that if his statements were true, he would be supporting and replicating the great accomplishments of my school, but instead, he is squeezing us out of our own building, stifling our growth, subordinating our students, and limiting our programs and services in favor of an untested charter school, that by the way, is run by the son of a hedge-fund billionaire who has donated millions to the school reform projects Mr. Klein holds dear. I charged, "That, is politics."

As I walked away (and retracted my finger), I thought to myself, "Did I just really wag my finger at Mr. Klein?" After all, he is for intents and purposes my boss. I rationalized; when I say, "No, no," with a finger wag, my students generally stop their undesirable behavior, perhaps Mr. Klein will take a cue from the students he is charged with serving.

For eight years public school educators, parents and students in New York City have suffered through the hallmarks of the neo-liberal education reform movement; we have been inundated with Mr. Klein's endless pro-charter rhetoric, we have watched obscene amounts of our money poured into so-called accountability measures and ill-planned restructuring, all while slashing our school based budgets and demonizing teachers and their union.

To "wag the dog" is to divert attention from what is really happening onto something else, often divisionary, rooted in crisis, or irrelevant to the real facts. To "wag the finger" is to point out an error in judgment so that the behavior might cease. I can only hope that wagging my finger at Mr. Klein while he wags the metaphorical dog might bring a level of awareness that could stop the misinformation madness that is causing the miseducation of our youth. The truth is, while Mr. Klein is charged with improving our public schools, he is slowly but surely undermining and dismantling them. You need only to look at my school to know the truth; with little to no support from Mr. Klein our teachers, staff, students and families are doing their best and getting it right, while our chancellor allows our current and future programs to be diminished and compromised by a charter school invasion.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Clashes turn to chaos at DeWitt Clinton HS [Bronx]

October 13, 2010
By Nikki Dowling

Violence at DeWitt Clinton High School escalated to such a point on Oct. 1, that police were called in and slapped at least seven juveniles with disorderly conduct notices, according to police and the Department of Education. Overcrowding, and what some students say is rampant gang violence at the school, has now culminated in chaos and administrators are scrambling to come up with a solution. The morning brawl, which numerous students interviewed said was related to gang activity, was followed a week later by Principal Geraldine Ambrosio’s declaration of a “building-wide emergency ... continuing until further notice,” according to a letter to staff obtained by The Press. Police and the Department of Education said the violence was not gang-related. Both blamed the incident on the rain storm, which, they said, prevented administrators from getting to school on time, leaving some students unsupervised. “There was low teacher attendance due to the storm and the principal had students gather in the auditorium at the beginning of the day until classrooms were staffed. During a change of period, two students began to fight and several other students joined the fight,” DOE spokeswoman Marge Feinberg said in an e-mail. But students interviewed during dismissal on Oct. 8 told a very different story. Eleven current students, one former student and one parent said the violence was gang related. Two students were unsure and one said gangs were not involved. All of them wished to remain anonymous for fear of their safety. “It was multiple fights, people were getting jumped … somebody snuck in a machete and brought a gun,” a student, who planned to change schools out of fear, said of the incident. “Friday it was, like, a war zone … even the teachers were scared … we weren’t allowed to leave the classroom … ” One student estimated that 20 to 30 people in the school were in gangs. He said among the most popular were the Bloods and the Crips. Gangs aren’t the only aspect of Oct. 1 incident that students disagree with the DOE and police about. The DOE and the NYPD said no students were hurt during the incident. Students said otherwise.
“I got jumped … I got hit with umbrellas,” a junior said. “I was just standing there … I hit one of them back and they ran.” The student said he was struck in the face and ribs. He went to the nurse, who gave him medicine for the pain and called his parents. He said he left school at 10 a.m. Detective Cheryl Crispin said the DOE, not the NYPD, handles minor injury cases where students are taken to the school nurse. Police presence at the school was increased after the incident. There were at least 13 uniformed officers outside the school during dismissal on Oct. 8, a week later. They told students not to stand in front of the school, ushering them off the sidewalks and across the street to the nearby park. A Facebook group called “I survived DeWitt Clinton 10/1/10” was founded after the incident and amassed nearly 500 followers in one week. “It’s like a jail in there,” a concerned parent said. Teachers have also been asked to act as security personnel. In the letter obtained by The Press the principal gave teachers “emergency patrol assignments,” asking educators to stand by exits during their professional development periods. Teachers were told to tell students to move to their next classes but were advised not to get involved in conflict. They were also asked to limit the number of bathroom passes they give out and enforce the “ten minute bathroom rule.” “Due to ongoing circumstances the UFT, in consultation with me [the principal], has declared a building-wide emergency. Please report to your assignment ... until further notice,” the letter said. That’s not what professional development periods are normally used for, United Federation of Teachers Spokesperson Peter Kadushin said. “I don’t have one minute of any training but I am forced to be here by the door and I don’t know what to do,” a teacher, who wished to remain anonymous, said in a phone interview while guarding an exit. “I should be doing a lot of grading right now instead of standing here … it doesn’t make sense at all.” Officials at the school refused to comment.

Sidebar: Crowding spills into violence? Overcrowding at DeWitt Clinton may have helped create the conditions that led to violence Oct. 1
There are 4,388 students enrolled at the school — 956 more than there should be, according to the Enrollment, Capacity and Utilization Traditional Report. The building, which can hold up to 3,432 people, is operating at 128 percent capacity.
A teacher, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, said many offices and teacher’s lounges have been turned into classrooms. She described teaching a class of 35 students in a room that used to be an office.
“There are many rooms like this,” she said. “Because of the crowding we use any tiny little space we have but it’s not adequate.”
The source said there is nowhere in the makeshift classrooms to put textbooks. They are kept on radiators and, often, are thrown in the garbage by students who think teachers will be forced to pay for missing supplies.
“Imagine a town comminuting every 40 minutes. Of course, even if people are well-intended, there will be accidents,” the source said.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

WOW! UE* Union In Defense of Public Education! UFT/AFT: Which Side Are You On?

What follows should be endemic to the UFT and the AFT unions. School unions should be actively and aggressively working with the UE, the FMPR (Puerto Rico) and other progressive rank & file groups (e.g. CORE Chicago) and not with the likes of Bill Gates and other corporate profiteers that promote neoliberal agendas such a charters/privatization.

It is up to us, the rank & file in unity with our school communities, to get involved and work to transform the UFT/AFT into real fighting instruments of reform. It is up to us to build a militant, social justice UFT that functions democratically starting from the school level on up. At our schools, teachers and staff need to build strong UFT chapters. Our UFT chapters must work in tandem with parents and independent community advocacy groups on issues.

GEM struggles to promote quality public education and the rights of school workers. Work with us to transform the UFT into powerful militant democratic union that truly represents the interests of school workers, students, parents and communities. United we can make progress.
Angel Gonzalez of GEM

(Try pushing these resolutions at Delegate Assembly and Executive Board meetings and see how quickly the Unity/UFT/AFT (Mulgrew/Weingarten) officialdom will quickly move to squash them.)

* "UE" is the abbreviation for United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, a democratic national union representing some 35,000 workers in a wide variety of manufacturing, public sector and private non-profit sector jobs. UE is an independent union (not affiliated with the AFL-CIO) proud of its democratic structure and progressive policies.

UE Convention Resolutions 2009
Public Education:
Stop the Attacks and Fund Quality Education for All


One of the first demands of early labor organizations was universal quality education. At a time when only the rich could attend decent schools, labor leaders saw that access to publicly-funded schools was the only way that the working class and the poor could achieve basic literacy skills. Labor leaders knew that education was tied to the ability to organize and exercise political power.

We find ourselves in an ongoing battle to prevent not just the erosion, but the outright destruction of public education. That many public schools are inadequately funded means poor equipment, crumbling buildings, and larger numbers of students in each classroom. Rather than fund public education adequately, conservatives push for privatization and subcontracting, practices which reduce jobs, and turns janitors, cooks, maintenance workers, educators, and many others into low-wage contract workers who receive few or low benefits.

The Obama administration has announced its intent to reform the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), the current incarnation of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act put into effect during Lyndon Johnson’s administration. While the stated goals of NCLB are laudable, namely improving student achievement and closing skills gaps between students of different backgrounds, the Act is flawed. Schools that already face challenges because of poor funding or the demographics of the area they are in are forced to conform to a "one-size-fits-all" standard based on high-stakes testing, and then punished by having funding withdrawn. Vouchers redirect taxpayer money away from public schools to private institutions, which are not accountable to the public or to elected officials. The Obama administration has requested a $1 billion increase in funding, yet no details of Obama's intended reforms have been given.

Barack Obama has also expressed support for merit-based teacher salaries. Excellent teachers deserve to be rewarded, and the potential for higher earnings as a result of hard work would help to recruit and retain talented individuals who would otherwise choose a career in the private sector. However, a system of merit pay is not the answer to poor teacher salaries and poor student performance. Administration of a merit-based teacher pay system would be a bureaucratic nightmare, prone to corruption and dishonesty, and would undermine cooperation and collaboration between teachers. The No Child Left Behind Act has already shown that universal standards don't work when applied to real-world education, in which students come from different economic, cultural and linguistic backgrounds. The way to attract superior teachers is to pay teachers what they are worth.

Private commerce has no place in public education. Schools that are starved for funding turn to corporate sponsors for help or contract services out to private companies. Corporate sponsors flood the schools with commercial messages, and undermine teachers' attempts to have students to think critically. Private companies are not responsible to the public for the quality of service they provide. This same commercialism is rampant in public colleges and universities, leaving many vulnerable to intellectual and moral corruption. At the same time, the cost of public education at the undergraduate and graduate levels is becoming more and more prohibitive, putting working and middle class families deeper into debt for services tax dollars are supposed to provide.

Higher education workers are also facing a crisis as their employers replace full-time positions with "contingent" faculty. Adjunct instructors are paid a fraction of the wage a full-time professor would receive, and these contracts have no benefits. Job security is nonexistent for these workers. Along with vouchers and standardized tests, growing dependence on part-time workers is a further indication of corporate and profit-driven motives in education. This trend inevitably leads to a decrease in the quality of public education.

Public schools, funded adequately and fairly, with certified teachers and full-time faculty, who have long-range educational plans that teach basic skills and critical thinking to all students is the only way to resolve this problem. We support public education because it promotes the best interests of everyone when all members of our society are well educated and able to think independently.


1. Calls upon all levels of the union to demand and promote:
Federal funding that achieves an excellent public education at all levels, including early childhood and adult learning programs;
  1. Restructuring of federal, state, and local taxation and funding systems so that all public schools are funded fairly, without regard to income levels of local school district residents;
  2. A reduction of class sizes to a manageable student-to-teacher ratio at the primary, secondary, and college/university levels;
  3. An increase in the salaries of all public elementary and secondary education teachers which reflects the value of their role in educating future members of society;
  4. Barring the use of taxpayer-funded voucher programs that siphon off much-needed funds from public schools and route them to private schools;
  5. Elimination of high-stakes testing, which pressures teachers and administrators to "teach to the test" or risk financial ruin, and therefore puts tremendous emotional and psychological pressure on children who are forced to endure such high-stakes tests;
  6. Removal of commercial/corporate sponsorship that tends to interfere with the academic freedom of students and teachers and the decision-making freedom of elected school boards and other publicly-employed professionals;
  7. Preservation and enhancement of the arts, foreign language and multilingual education programs, whose elimination most often hurts poor and working-class children's education;
  8. Preservation and enhancement of vocational education programs for adolescents and adults;
  9. Full and appropriate services and accommodations for students with disabilities;
  10. Full funding of Head Start;
  11. Passage of conflict-of-interest legislation that prevents individuals with ties to for-profit schools and to for-profit corporations with school contracts from serving on school boards or boards of regents;
  12. Elimination of privatization and contracting out of school services;
  13. The teaching of labor history and other aspects of history which present a full view of the economic, social, and political history of the U.S. in public schools, colleges and universities; and support of local labor education centers;
2. Calls on the union to work with other unions and push for a change in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) in order to ensure that all employees have the right to unionization;
3. Supports all campaigns which advocate universal access to free public higher education.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Real Reformers Rally at Waiting for Superman Opening: Sept. 24, 2010

Pics from rehearsal at Lincoln Center to the theater.

Labor Beat: Corporate Media and Plunder of Chicago Public Education

In the weeks following the election of Karen Lewis as the new Chicago Teachers Union President, we see how Chicago's corporate public relations world attempts to spin the story of new union militancy in the face of layoffs and 35 students per classroom. Exclusive press conference scenes and analysis. Interview with Carol Caref, new CTU Region A Vice President, as we watch her and Karen Lewis spar with reporters. George Schmidt, Editor of substancenews.net, provides valuable insights into the media scene in Chicago. Also footage and commentary by substancenews.net reporter John Kugler who describes his question that shut down a press conference put on by Mayor Daley and the head of Chicago Public Schools Ron Huberman. 27 min. Produced by Labor Beat. Labor Beat is a CAN TV Community Partner. Labor Beat is a non-profit 501(c)(3) member of IBEW 1220. Views are those of the producer Labor Beat. For info: mail@laborbeat.org, www.laborbeat.org. 312-226-3330. For other Labor Beat videos, visit Google Video, YouTube, or blip.tv and search "Labor Beat".

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Chicago Teachers Union Wins Back Jobs of Laid Off 1,000 Tenured Teachers

UPDATE: Oct. 12

NOTE: Some people were passing this email around as connected to race. George Schmidt sets us straight:
Please see the correct information from George Schmidt.

From: gnschmidt@aol.com

Subject: Re: AFT P&J: Fwd: Black Chicago Teachers Win Discrimination Lawsuit


There were two separate legal actions.

In 2009, CORE filed an EEOC complaint against CPS, charging that the firings of veteran teachers was racially discriminatory. That complaint is still pending.

In 2010, the Chicago Teachers Union (by then led by CORE people) filed a federal lawsuit charging that the June - August 2010 firings of veteran teachers in Chicago was unconstitutional. That's the lawsuit that was won last week. (Substance published the decision along with an analysis by John Kugler at www.substancenews.net).

Chicago Teachers Union v. Board of Education was a federal civil rights case. And it had nothing to do with the race of the teachers who were fired. It was based on the Fourteenth Amendment (equal protection) and decided, as you can read in the decision, on that basis. I don't think there was one reference to race in Judge Coar's decision.

George Schmidt

[click title for full Substance News article]

Chicago Teachers Union upholds teachers' tenure rights... Judge Coar's decision shows how completely CPS has lost (again) in federal court

"Four hundred thousands students will have their teachers returned to them," an elated Karen Lewis told a press conference at the headquarters of the 30,000-member Chicago Teachers Union on the evening of October 4, 2010. Lewis's statement was her opening in describing the immediate impact she thought should take place in light of a federal judge's decision that the Chicago Board of Education had violated the rights of tenured teachers in firing them during the summer of 2010, using inflated "deficit" claims as the basis for creating a financial emergency and assuming to itself unprecedented powers.
Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis (with hand outstretched) was surrounded by members of the expanded union negotiating team on July 23, 2010, when she led union members and the union's newly elected officers across the street from the union's Merchandise Mart offices to the Holiday Inn Mart Plaza for the first meeting with Board of Education negotiators. The Board demanded $100 million in cuts from the CTU contract, even thought the Board's claims of a billion dollar deficit had been discredited, and when the union refused to buckle, Ron Huberman order the elimination of more than 1,000 tenured teachers from their jobs. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.For the second time in six months, a federal judge has handed a rebuke to the Chicago Board of Education because of the Board's lawless (and unconstitutional) actions. On October 4, 2010, U.S. District Judge David H. Coar in a strongly worded opinion held that CPS had violated the rights of more than 1,000 tenured Chicago teachers when it fired them from their jobs based on a number of spurious grounds that had been conjured up by the Board during the summer of 2004.
In the October decision, Judge Coar held that the Board of Education of the City of Chicago and its Chief Executive Officer, Ron Huberman, had violated the rights of tenured teachers it has been firing since June 1, 2010, under the guise of various pretexts. Despite the clear language of the judge's decision upholding tenure, Patrick Rocks, the top lawyer for CPS, claimed in a quotation distributed by CPS in an October 4 press release that the judge's ruling only allowed the teachers CPS had dumped to "complete for jobs." At a 7:00 p.m. press conference held at CTU headquarters, CTU President Karen Lewis told reporters that the judge clearly disagreed with Rocks's version of the law. "We won," she said, chiding reporters from WBEZ and Catalyst who kept repeating the Rocks talking point after she had explained the decision.
... For full story, go to http://www.substancenews.net/articles.php?page=1706&section=Article

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

What I Learned at NBC's Education Nation Summit

Thank you, Teacher Brian Jones for sharing your lessons from your NBC debate. Your reflections demonstrate the higher order analytical critical thinking skills that the privatized charter school models (i.e. teach-to-the-test/rote learning) are pushing out of our classroom pedagogy.

For full article, click: What I Learned at NBC's Education Nation Summit

Excerpted text:

"Waiting for 'Superman' " paints Canada as a kind of educational Chuck Yeager -- the pilot who first broke the sound barrier. So he seemed particularly incensed that I brought up the fact that after New York's test scores were re-scaled last year, only 38 percent of his students in Harlem Children's Zone 1 fell within the benchmark for "proficient" reading ability. Canada tried to change the subject to the better scoring Harlem Children's Zone 2.

But even if we assume that he's doing something wonderful, then we have to ask the question: what does it take to do that something wonderful? Apparently it takes the kind of wrap-around services that Canada aspires to provide his students from the cradle to graduation, such as health care. And, we should note, it apparently takes tens of millions of dollars.

Yet, while taking large checks from Wall Street on one hand, Canada insists that "it's not about resources" on the other.

I argued that wealthy people, who spend five figures on their own children's education, insist on small classes, beautiful facilities, and experienced teachers. I mentioned that the Harlem Children's Zone flagship building on 125th Street is beautiful, and that all children deserve such attractive surroundings.

Canada countered that his highest performing school is in a building with no windows. Then why, I wonder, does he need $20 million for new construction, especially when Harlem has the lowest school utilization rate in the city? Still, Canada insisted, "It's the not the building that drives teaching, it's what's going on inside those classrooms; not whether or not kids have a window to look out of, which ours don't."

Here we have a message honed to perfection... for the wealthy: the unions are the problem; the teachers need to be cheaper; give me money now for a few beautiful schools that can help break the unions and open up the education market; but don't worry, we don't want too much; we certainly don't want what your children have.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

National Actions to Defend Public Education, October 7th 2010

New York, NY Many rallies during the day at Brooklyn College, City College New York, Hunter College, Queens College and throughout the state.

Unified New York City rally at 4pm
at the Harlem State Office Building 163 West 125th Street, just east of Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. BLVD(seventh avenue),
then march across Harlem via 125th street to Frederick Douglas to 141st street and to CCNY.


Last fall, California sparked a movement that has grown drastically over the past year. Much energy went toward building March 4th 2010, National Day of Action to Defend Education, which as a resounding success in the struggle to defend public education. Thousands organized and participated in the events of that day which took place in 32 states. Major actions took place throughout California, but also in Milwaukee, New York City, Illinois, and Baltimore with hundreds of actions planned nationwide. University of Puerto Rico students capped off a two-month strike with a victory receiving many concessions from administration.

What is clear is that this fight is not over. The lines are drawn. As working families struggle to recover from the crisis, access to education is diminishing as cuts continue to come. California activists have proposed October 7th as the next Day of Action. Internationally, activists are focusing on October and November as crucial moments in the struggle to fight back against neoliberalism and defend education rights. We, the below signed organizations and individuals, call on students, teachers, faculty, staff, workers, and parents to unite together and Defend Public Education this fall.

In Texas, the Board of Education has drastically changed the content of Texas textbooks, to include praise of Joseph McCarthy, and many other clauses. In Arizona, The state has passed the racist SB1070 that mandates police detain anyone looks like an undocumented worker. Following this, Arizona is also shutting down ethnic studies programs. In New York City, Chicago, and Detroit, districts are facing massive school closings. Public universities throughout the country are raising tuition costs and looking for more private investors. Budget cuts, tuition hikes, school closings, and right-wing reforms are hitting working families the hardest, especially in communities of color.

As these cuts continue to come, we see the costs of neoliberalism hit home harder than they have before. Public education has been losing funding for years, much of which disappeared because of neoliberal changes to the economy. The current budget crisis in many states will result in further drastic cuts to public education, including further cuts to underfunded schools, increases in unpaid days off for staff, a incentive program promoting “reforms” that are outright attacks on teachers, a restructuring of the public university around the needs of private business – largely supported by massive private grants, and tuition hikes that threaten accessibility to higher education for working families and people of color.

As the education disparities between poor and affluent grow ever wider, public schools serving communities of color are swiftly being re-segregated, provided fewer resources, and less-experienced teachers. These students are being tracked into non-academic, dead-end programs while ethnic and multi-cultural classes and opportunities are being cut.

This crisis and this solution are a direct result of neoliberal-era ideology, reducing or dissolving taxes on the rich and corporations while working people struggle to provide for their families out of their ever-shrinking pockets. As private interests gain more power, as the private dollar begins to strengthen its influence in education, our democratic rights are being stripped away.

The time to act is now, students teachers and staff are preparing for the next wave of actions. We need your support and participation to make this day a historic moment in American history. To get involved please Email: fall_actions@defendeducation.org or call us at 8609162761