Friedrichs is a symptom of the privatization disease

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As we have seen again and again, the corporate education industry is eager to break into the U.S. public education and turn it into a free marketplace, where they can monetize the schools and be assured of government subsidization. On the whole, these privatized institutions do not produce higher test scores than regular public schools, except for those that cherrypick their students and exclude the neediest and lowest performing students. The promotion of privatization by philanthropies, by the U.S. Department of Education, by rightwing governors (and a few Democratic governors like Cuomo of New York and Malloy of Connecticut), by the hedge fund industry, and by a burgeoning education equity industry poses a danger to our democracy. In some communities, public schools verge on bankruptcy as charters drain their resources and their best students. Nationwide, charter schools have paved the way for vouchers by making “school choice” non-controversial.

 

Yes, education is in crisis. The profession of teaching is threatened by the financial powerhouse Teach for America, which sells the bizarre idea that amateurs are more successful than experienced teachers. TFA–and the belief in amateurism–has also facilitated the passage of legislation to strip teachers of basic rights to due process and of salaries tied to experience and credentials.

 

Education is in crisis because of the explosion of testing and the embrace by government of test scores as both the means and the end of education. The scores are treated as a measure of teacher effectiveness and school effectiveness, when they are in fact a measure of the family income of the students enrolled in the school. The worst consequence of the romance with standardized testing is that children are ranked, sorted, and assigned a value based on scores that are not necessarily scientific or objective. Children thus become instruments, tools, objects, rather than unique human beings, each with his or her own potential.

 

Education is in crisis because of the calculated effort to turn it into a business with a bottom line. Schools are closed and opened as though they were chain stores, not community institutions. Teachers are fired based on flawed measures. Disruption is considered a strategy rather than misguided and inhumane policy. Children and educators alike are simply data points, to be manipulated by economists, statisticians, entrepreneurs, and dabblers in policy.

 

Education has lost its way, lost its purpose, lost its definition. Where once it was about enlightening and empowering young minds with knowledge, exploring new worlds, learning about science and history, and unleashing the imagination of each child, it has become a scripted process of producing test scores that can supply data.

 

Education is in crisis. And we must organize to resist, to push back, to fight the mechanization of learning, and the standardization of children.

Read more education views on Diane Ravich’s blog here

Solana Beach Support Professionals join CTA

 

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California Teachers Association welcomes to its family 220 new members who are now affiliated with both CTA and the National Education Association. In an official response on March 17 from the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) Solana Beach School District has officially recognized Solana Beach Association of Support Professionals (SBASP) as the Exclusive Bargaining Agent of classified education support professionals in Solana Beach.

CTA professional staff Cynthia Manjarrez coordinated the efforts with local leaders to organize a chapter that went decades without union representation. The new chapter will be finalizing selection of officers and preparing for their first contract negotiations in the coming weeks.

Kansas State Senate wages another attack on teachers

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Kansas state senators are moving a bill that will require annual re-certification elections- at a taxpayer cost of 340 thousand dollars annually- to establish union representation of members on a year-to-year basis.

Despite these ongoing costs at a time of statewide deficits, Sen. Jeff Melcher of Leawood says he wants to give new teachers a voice, “so they can make their thoughts known as to whether they want to be represented by the [National Education Association] or someone else.”

Language already exists that triggers a new election if 30 percent of the membership requests it. 

This isn’t a new idea. Wisconsin has been requiring annual recertification votes for public-sector unions since 2013, as part of Gov. Scott Walker’s controversial Act 10. In Wisconsin, 51 percent of all workers eligible to be in a union must vote yes for a union to survive, so not voting counts as a “no” vote. According to the anti-union John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy, which has been tracking these elections, the votes have led to the demise of over 100 unions, including the substitute teachers union in Appleton, the teachers’ union in Elkhorn, and the union representing engineers in Milwaukee Public Schools.  

Behind these efforts are the familiar opponents of public education, including the Heritage Foundation and American Legislative Exchange Council that have encouraged and promoted these policies. Read more.

 

Impasse declared in Huntington Beach

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Trouble in paradise? After seventeen bargaining sessions totaling over eighty-five hours of effort, members of the District Educators Association (DEA) in Huntington Beach have declared impasse over the remaining elements of their contract dispute with Huntington Beach Union High School District (HBUHSD).

Paperwork for impasse was completed and will be filed with the California Public Employee Relations Board (PERB) once the District reviews the material with legal counsel. PERB will assign a State Mediator within the next 30 days mediation will follow.

Major remaining unsettled elements of the contract include salary, fringe benefit, class size, term of agreement, and summer school compensation.

DEA leadership reminded members to maintain regular contact with chapter leaders, stating  “We need YOU to stay informed and involved. Mediation works best when teachers continue to demonstrate SOLIDARITY. Be on the lookout for announcements from the DEA Organizing Team for ways you can help.”

 

Kansas conservatives want to impeach Supreme Court over funding public schools

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In a stunning commitment to sustaining tax cuts for the super wealthy at the expense of damaging the next generation of Kansans, conservative members of the Kansas State Senate Judiciary Committee are advancing a bill to more easily impeach Justices of the Kansas Supreme Court.

Kansas state legislators are responding to a State Supreme Court that has thwarted cutting funding to public schools to a level considered unconstitutional by the Court.

Republican lawmakers in Kansas, weary of conflicts with a judiciary pushing for more school spending, are acting on a measure to expand the legal grounds for impeaching judges.

The move is part of an intensified effort in red states to reshape courts still dominated by moderate judges from earlier administrations.

A committee in the GOP-controlled Senate plans to vote Tuesday on a bill that would make “attempting to usurp the power” of the Legislature or the executive branch grounds for impeachment. Read More

Anaheim teacher will serve in Washington DC

Ryan Ruelas

Anaheim social studies teacher and City School District board member Ryan Ruelas will serve in the U.S. Capital on a Department of Education committee that will help determine how the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) will be implemented.  ESSA, recently re-authorized by Congress, will establish how federal education spending and support will come to individual states. As a National Education Association-nominated member of the Negotiated Rulemaking Panel, Ruelas will weigh in on issues of how supplemental funding is determined and flexibility states will be given in developing student assessments. Read more.

South Bay parents urge contract settlement

Southwest.teachers.board.meetingAt South Bay Union School District’s (SBUSD) Thursday board meeting, parents joined Southwest Educators Association (SWA) in packing the SBUSD school board meeting and calling for a settlement to the ongoing contract dispute. Parents signed up in numbers to voice their displeasure at a school board that would vote a significant raise to their superintendent while the relationship with teachers has continued to erode.

The strong parent showing was not surprising to SWTA Organizing Chair Laura Wood, who explained “We want what our parents and students need- nurses at each school so children with injuries don’t wait for hours, counselors to assist students with diverse needs, and planning time for instructional improvement.” 

In addition, SWTA is urging SBUSD to respond to the current teacher shortage in California by increasing pay and benefits, ensuring the district can attract and retain the best teachers for students in the community. Educators have also prioritized planning and preparation time for teachers to develop quality, age-appropriate common core lessons for all grade levels and subjects to better meet parent and student needs.

“This is about our students and our community”, said SWTA President Lorena Garcia. Like her fellow SWTA members, she is frustrated with the lack of progress in its negotiations with the SBUSD. “The money is there to meet these educational needs and it is beyond me why the district refuses to spend it,” she said. 

 

Concerned Lorax Warns Huntington School Board

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The Lorax, played by District Educators Association (DEA) member and high school Special Education teacher Jeff Lam, gave a well-received oratory at the Huntington Beach Union High School District (HBUHSD) Board meeting on Tuesday March 8. Delivered in “Loraxian Rhyme” he urged the school board to share its economic bounty evenly among all interest groups. The message was reinforced by 44 teachers who also took their turns at the microphone to urge a fair settlement. 

Since the contract expired in June of 2015, DEA and HBUHSD have failed to negotiate a successor agreement. The teams have held 15 negotiations sessions with the district since last May, yet remain unsettled for the 2015-2016 school year.

It seemed apparent by the level of enthusiasm and support for DEA President Shawn Werner-who spoke eloquently on the need for settlement-that HBUHSD can expect more than a fable if future negotiations are not fruitful.

Jeff Lam’s original work appears below:      

 

My name is the Lorax , and I speak for the teachers,

Those hardworking, dedicated, wonderful creatures,

 

And even though I, am just one of our bunch,

I speak for the group, because we have a hunch,

 

That with this new block, this big giant cash pie,

There’s enough for all parties, all kids, you and I.

 

There’s money for tech, and for brand new projectors,

and pencils and Elmos, for all our directors.

 

There’s still space for books, and curriculum measures,

And meetings, more meetings, our favorite pleasure.

 

And if it should rain, If the sky should come down,

I know we’ll be fine, Because you kept us sound,

 

With money you’ve managed, Through many depressions,

You’ve balanced our checkbook, And saved our collections.

 

You kept us from furlough, and losing our healthcare,

and maintained our monies, and kept us off welfare.

 

So all that I’m saying, As part of this crowd,

Is to share what you have, because we’ve made you proud.

 

For many of us, who grew up in this district,

We came back to teach here, and join this statistic.

 

We stand here as one, Neither Charger nor Baron,

But stand here as teachers, who love and be “carin”.

 

For students and children, the next future clump,

Of leaders, and who knows, (the next Donald Trump?!)

 

So as you advance, in these contract cash meetings,

We ask you to fairly, Act in these proceedings,

 

To bump up that 3, to a nice 6.5,

A generous, well earned, piece of the pie.

District removes beloved middle school principal as it “co-locates” new charter on Oakland campus

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Westlake Principal Misha Karigaca

In a move that has caused upheaval at Oakland’s Westlake Middle School, Oakland School Distict Supt. Antwan Wilson, affiliated with the controversial Broad Leadership Academy, removed popular 15 year school principal Misha Karigaca, explaining he wants a “fresh start” at the school that will “co-locate” a private charter on the same campus beginning next year.

Parents have joined Oakland Educators Association members (who spoke anonymously for fear of retaliation) that Karigaca has the “full support” of the staff for his strong leadership and innovation at the full-service community school. They blame the problem on a district decision to share the site with a charter school, a move the superintendent claims is mandated by state charter school law.

Teachers believe their principal is being punished for not keeping a lid on parent and teacher protests last June, when the district unsuccessfully tried to force the school to “co-locate” a charter high school at the site.

http://postnewsgroup.com/blog/2016/03/04/district-removes-popular-principal-will-co-locate-charter-school-westlake/

South Bay teachers in mediation fighting to improve local schools

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Imperial Beach- On Thursday May 3rd members of the Southwest Teachers Association (SWTA) rallied at the South Bay Union School District mediation session. SWTA has been fighting to improve teaching and learning conditions, including smaller class sizes, and providing nurses and counselors at each school site in the District.

SWTA President Lorena Garcia has expressed disappointment that negotiations have not led to a successful ratification. Negotiations have been ongoing for ten months and the district’s recent decision to declare impasse shows they believe the parties are not close to settlement. SWTA is calling on community members to join teachers on Thursday, March 10 for a Rally to Support Our Schools. The rally is scheduled one hour before the South Bay Union School Board Meeting.

Who: Southwest Teachers Association, community members, parents and students

What: Rally to Support Our Schools

Where: 601 Elm Ave. Imperial Beach CA South Bay Students and Educators.

When: Rally will begin at District Office at 5 p.m. and school board follows at 6:00 p.m.