Friday, August 29, 2008

Teachers Issues in DC and Gaza

Rhee in DC Teacher Raise Proposal - Another Nail in the Coffin of Public Education

This morning, I stumbled across Tom Hoffman (Providence, RI) over at Tuttle SVC who raises some very important issues on the proposed DC teacher contract - This Raise Brought to You by the Broad Foundation.

Rhee wants to use donations from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and the Broad Foundation, in part, to pay for the raises and bonuses. Officials from the Gates and Broad foundations would not comment on proposed future funding.

I don't know if any more information than that has subsequently come out (I can't find it easily if it has), but if that's still the plan, it has some rather shocking implications. The DC government would be handing all the contributing foundations a virtual veto on their education policy for at least the next five years, the ongoing capacity to trigger a fiscal crisis in the District at their whim.

Five years, the proposed term of the contract, is a long time to our new power philanthropists. They have a short history, but they've already established a clear pattern of packing up and leaving when things don't go their way, including when the citizens of a city don't vote the way they like, or when democratically elected officials don't see things their way, or when the top down reforms they've imposed simply fail.

Tom has a lot of interesting things to say and I've added Tuttle SVC to the Outside NYC blogroll.

Teachers fired over strike - in Gaza
But did they lose their parking permits?

I'm not sure of the source, but Jeff K who keeps us informed of union activity around the world - a good contast to the lack of such in the UFT - posted this on ICE-mail. Remember the monhts long Israeli teacher strike last year? Imagine - a union of Palestinian and Israeli teachers. Nahhh! Why would we expect workers to put their common interests ahead of nationalism when we see American workers who vote against their own interests all the time?

In Gaza, the Fatah-controlled teachers’ union called a strike to protest teacher transfers. Hamas took the opportunity to replace an estimated 2,000 of the 9,000 teachers who walked out. “Anybody who left their job will not be allowed to return,” said the Hamas education minister. “They have become irrelevant and cannot be trusted anymore as educators.” This is bad news for the students, who don’t know whether to return to school or not, and bad news for the teachers, who are out of a job if they don’t return to work - and who are out of a job if they do return to work because the Palestinian Authority, headed by Fatah, “would fire teachers who accepted school promotions,” according to a teachers’ union leader.

“This is a disaster,” said Aly, a 47-year-old math teacher who declined to give his full name for fear of offending Hamas or Fatah. “The big losers are me and my students.” Wael, a 38-year-old physics teacher and Fatah loyalist, said he felt bullied into striking. “My salary and future are tied to the side that pays me,” he said. “At the same time, I am afraid there’ll be (Hamas) procedures taken against me.” He declined to give his family name because he did not support the Fatah-led walkout and feared his pay would be cut.

And Unity Caucus/UFT worries about losing dues checkoff if they should strike.

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