The future of school reform is here. It is the democratic voice of the true stakeholders in the education system...
Unfortunately, the same forces that have given rise to dictatorial mayoral control schemes around the country are also responsible for our own union’s lack of democracy. Since these education reform policies are wholly unpopular, and since our union leaders do not want to be seen as obstacles to “progress”, they have been forced to take a “conciliation” approach with “reformer” mayors who run school districts. In turn, they have been required to turn to increasingly un-democratic means to silence their members who understand that these reforms are harmful to our schools... Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE)I didn't get home until 10:30 last night after a few hours at a bar with some MOREs where I had a pastrami rueben and beer - urp! - and then getting lost in the dark downtown -- which way is Broadway? --- and then B and Q train problems which was a problem since my car was at Newkirk and forced me to take a long walk after taking the IRT to Brooklyn College - something I haven't done since c. 1965 when I was still living in East NY and taking the New Lots train to Franklin Ave and change to the Flatbush line, a trip that made getting a driving license the single most important thing in my life when I was 18. Oh, did I digress?
I actually did some processing of video I took of the great MORE led rally outside the DA before falling asleep at the keyboard. So I had a lot of catching up to do this morning and in the midst of taking my daily trips to various Home Depots, working on electrifying part of my basement (I heard Mulgrew was putting sheet rock up in his home and he is welcome to stop buy and help) and maybe catching a movie at the Sheepshead (Django Unchained) and being home for my wife's return later this afternoon from her big mahjong gig at Mother Kelly's restaurant, I may actually do some work updating -- but the blogroll is full of stuff anyway.
Below is the MORE official statement, written by a chapter leader who was stuck in school and couldn't make the DA. This was being written on the fly as soon we heard the NO DEAL news while another MORE stuck at home with childcare handled the input from tweets and email, while other MORES did countless things yesterday, like the chapter leader in the Bronx who wrote up an instant leaflet taking into account the new info, to the MORE who took his cell phone to Staples down the block and started printing copies, to the MOREs who took concerted action at the DA in the most effective manner for any opposition group to Unity that I've seen (or heard in this case) since the 1970's.
I will blog more about how proud I was of MORE, which to me had its coming out party yesterday as people came from all over to join in the rally which was aimed originally at a VOTE NO and then managed to shift gears to urge opposition to the use of testing as part of the corporate agenda to privatize schools and destroy teacher unions. People kept coming up to me to ask what we should do and I was so happy to be able to tell them that I am just a cog and a good soldier. What a relief! I don't have to be accountable for anything, unlike the position the teachers have been put in.
Here is the statement from MORE even though I disagree with applauding a UFT leadership that was ready to cave the night before, even willing to give Bloomberg an extra year more than other districts were doing and were saved by Bloomberg's idiocy, especially given that Ernie Logan has backed up the UFT and I will give Mulgrew credit for calling Bloomberg an out and out liar, which even the press is seeing is true.
But for Mulgrew to spend the entire meeting defending voodoo science outraged many non-Unity delegates. Mulgrew's stand should help solidify his standing in the election -- and for conspiracy theorists - really, would Bloomberg prefer a CORE-like group like MORE and having to deal with a real teacher like Julie Cavanagh or the current UFT leadership which until yesterday was the gift to ed deform that just kept giving?
Yes, there are some cultural differences within MORE between the older ICEers with years of battling the Unity machine --- see James Eterno at ICE --- MULGREW TELLS DELEGATES SCUTTLED NEW EVALUATION SYSTEM WOULD BE GREATEST THING SINCE SLICED BREAD
and the newer MORE activists who have to go through this process themselves.
One thing you should note -- the full-time UFT employee Unity trolls are out commenting on the blogs while getting their 150k plus salaries and double pensions to leave snarky comments. Lucky there are no teachers in trouble due to their policies of neglect to deflect them from their true occupation.
From MORE - http://morecaucusnyc.org/
18 Jan The passing of the January 17 deadline for a new evaluation agreement is not an ending but a beginning. Now the DOE will work overtime to spin doctor the failure to reach an agreement on new teacher evaluations, mandated by New York State’s version of Race to the Top, as the fault of Michael Mulgrew and union leadership. This despite the fact that every indication shows it was Bloomberg who failed to negotiate in good faith.=======
While we applaud the UFT leadership for standing their ground, the MORE Caucus has no intention of giving up the fight to prevent our teachers and students from being given over to the standardized testing regime. We know there will be efforts in the future to convert our schools into low-level thinking factories and our teachers into low-skilled, low-paid bureaucratic functionaries.
So, why did the evaluation deal fall through? We believe there is no one particular reason. Instead, there were a variety of reasons all working in concert to torpedo this deal. Understanding these reasons will help us understand what the post-non-evaluation DOE will look like:
Reason #1: Race to the Top is Bad Policy
Probably the most fundamental reason why there was no deal is because Race to the Top is bad policy. This goes beyond anything the UFT, city or state did. This has to do with the Obama Administration’s embrace of standardized testing as a way to measure teacher effectiveness. Obama and his Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, often describe themselves as leaders bent on rolling back the Bush-era No Child Left Behind system of testing. However, their RTTT program merely means more testing and, in many ways, an expansion of the NCLB system. Students, parents and teachers have been steadily crushed by high-stakes tests over the past 12 years that are turning education into a stultifying affair. Both NCLB and RTTT erode creativity, free-thinking and openness in our public schools. This fact leads into the second reason why the deal fell through:
Reason #2: A Growing Backlash against Education Reform
PBS recently ran an hour Frontline special on Michelle Rhee. Despite the fact that Frontline barely scratched the surface on criticizing Rhee’s tenure as D.C.’s school chancellor, the fact that a major national media outlet was critical of her to any degree is quite a development. We have come a long way from the days of when she graced the cover of Time Magazine as the hero education reformer.
At the start of the current school year, the Chicago Teacher’s Union went out on strike against Mayor Rahm Emmanuel’s Obama-inspired school reform agenda. They took to the streets to call for a better school day for children and work day for staff. By all indications, the parents of Chicago stood on the side of the teachers and against Emmanuel’s leadership of the Chicago school system. Again, this represented a change in previous actions by the CTU, whose previous leadership stressed compromise and conciliation with so-called reformers like Emmanuel.
Most recently, the teachers of several Seattle schools opted out of that state’s MAP exam to protest the high-stakes testing regime that has rolled over every school system in the land. Just like the Frontline story and the CTU strike, any type of organized opt-out of an exam would have been unthinkable a few years ago.
People across the country are beginning to realize that the so-called education “reformers” are really the status quo. They have had their way for over a decade and the backlash seems to be afoot.
Reason #3: High-Handed and Un-Democratic School Leadership
Both Michael Mulgrew and Leo Casey have stated that the evaluation deal fell through because of Mayor Bloomberg’s “my way or the highway” approach. This is the type of approach Bloomberg used when he demolished the Board of Education which, for all of its faults, was at least subject to a democratic process. In place of the BOE, Bloomberg created a Panel for Educational Policy whose votes he largely controls. The PEP has been the body that has decided to close over 100 city schools at the behest of the mayor. They have done so over massive protests of parents and community leaders who know how devastating school closures can be to a community. When UFT leaders say the mayor has a “my way or the highway” approach at the negotiating table, we are inclined to believe them.
Unfortunately, the same forces that have given rise to dictatorial mayoral control schemes around the country are also responsible for our own union’s lack of democracy. Since these education reform policies are wholly unpopular, and since our union leaders do not want to be seen as obstacles to “progress”, they have been forced to take a “conciliation” approach with “reformer” mayors who run school districts. In turn, they have been required to turn to increasingly un-democratic means to silence their members who understand that these reforms are harmful to our schools.
Therefore, while we applaud and stick by our union leaders in their resistance to the RTTT evaluation deal, we also understand that most of the work lies ahead of us. This rejection of school “reform” is part and parcel of a wider nationwide backlash against what has passed as “improvement” in education over the past 10 years. This is a backlash that has taken place as a popular movement, not a top-down one.
MORE is on the frontlines of this popular backlash. Our goal is to appropriate the title of “reformer” from those that have it now: Rhee, Bloomberg, Duncan, Emmanuel. The people are beginning to see that these reformers are actually some of the most retrograde and centralizing forces in education today.
The future of school reform is here. It is the democratic voice of the true stakeholders in the education system.
The opinions expressed on EdNotesOnline are solely those of Norm Scott and are not to be taken as official positions (though Unity Caucus/New Action slugs will try to paint them that way) of any of the groups or organizations Norm works with: ICE, GEM, MORE, Change the Stakes, NYCORE, FIRST Lego League NYC, Rockaway Theatre Co., Active Aging, The Wave, Aliens on Earth, etc.