Monday, February 20, 2012

Honk if You're Proud of the UFT

Chicago teacher
I am SO proud of the CTU! "Chicago & NYC school reform: Creating possibilities versus surrendering without a struggle" http://newpol.org/node/599
 So, are any of you feeling proud of the UFT/Unity Caucus machine? I know of at least one Unity Caucus chapter leader at a school threatened with closing who was handing out donuts to "celebrate" the union's "victory" in the recent agreement in ed evals. And if you checked out my last blog on the Moskowitz invasion in Williamsburg, the UFT has zero presence leaving the community to fight the massive machine on its own --- UFT leaders are fraidy cats when it comes to Eva. Or just about everything. Just check some Unity comments on this blog --- something like if you're not part of the conversation -- blah, blah, blah. Occupy a few schools threatened with being closed and you'll be part of the conversation soon enough.

Here is the Lois Weiner piece Katie was referring to.

Chicago and NYC school reform: Creating possibilities versus surrendering without a struggle

Lois WeinerFebruary 19, 2012
As I write, the  Brian Piccolo Specialty School in Humboldt Park, Chicago is occupied by parents, teachers, and students, with Occupy Chicago and others camped outside the schol in solidarity.  The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) is building this movement, with a  wonderful wholeheartedness and passion. Bravo! The union is showing both brawn and brains.  In another sign of its commitment to fight hard for the education low-income kids deserve, the CTU  has released an excellent report on what we should demand of politicians who say they want to improve the schools. Another part of the Chicago strategy is using the courts. Parents are the backbone here but as a long-time community organizer in Chicago wrote me, "Honestly, we could not have done this without a progressive union leadership."
In contrast, the New York State teachers union (NYSUT) has signed an agreement that is an abject surrender of teachers' professional dignity and tightens the stranglehold of standardized tests.  Let us hope  - and mobilize - so that this Faustian agreement does not become the "national model" that  NYSUT (and NYC) teachers union leaders would like it to be.  Consider that  NYSUT applauded this agreement that allows up to 40% of teachers' evaluations  to be based on their  students' progress on standardized tests. Yet, according to NYSUT's own poll conducted in January,  two-thirds of parents "believe there is too much emphasis on state testing in public schools."  Public  opposition to testing has been organized by parent and teacher groups independent of the national unions, which are fearful of angering the corporate media and its political friends. Is there a  principle for which the NYC and NY state teachers unions will really fight? Hmmm... maybe the right to collect dues?
We have a tale of school systems in two cities being demolished with the same policies of privatization, school closure, and deprofessionalization of teaching. In Chicago, the teachers union has mobilized with parents and activists to turn the tide. In New York, the teachers union signs and applauds a deal that endangers the job security of teachers who want to use their creativity, skill, and knowledge to teach in ways that are meaningful to kids. Chicago shows us resistance can be mobilized, if a union leadership has the heart and vision, knows how to empower its members, and can work respectfully with parents.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, blogger Under Assault makes a rare appearance since retirement with some comments on the teacher eval system, which she terms (d)evaluation. Nice.

"An almost total capitulation by the union"

 You can read Jeff's whole analysis of the new (d)evaluation system on the ICE blog, which he ends with a very dark prediction:
If today's agreement becomes our actual teacher evaluation system, then there will more than likely be massive teacher firings beginning in 2014.

Some of the comments are worth a chuckle. There's a lass called Sandra who thinks getting tenure in the old days was a "gift":
I don't feel one bit of pity to those teachers who were gifted tenure back in those days of desperation and think that that should save them from a true evaluation of their effectiveness ...
I'll be damned if I know what she means by "those days of desperation." I'm assuming Sandra was a youngster when the rest of us were chewing our fingernails over the Board of Ed's certification tests. The music exam was distinctly uncomfortable, even with a Masters and heading into a doctorate. You couldn't just swim in on Music Appreciation and your instrument. There were also tests on piano performance and sight-reading, and the whole thing only came around every few years. Tough titties if you failed it, because no one was going to give you NYC certification or tenure without it.

Ah, those were the days, when deep knowledge of a subject was actually valued. Now your career's a coin coss: heads if your administrator recognizes and respects variations in style, personality and methodology and makes use of your talents, tails if your evaluation is scripted by an inexperienced Tweedle or a politically appointed senior administrator.

I have to credit Wiki for using the Michelangelo painting as an antecedent of our "Perp walk."

Neat.

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