Monday, November 17, 2008

The Next Line of Attack on Teacher Unions: TFA Slates Run in Union Elections?

The Detroit News is urging support for a group of pro charter school teachers who are running a slate in the Detroit Teacher Union elections. Under the title of "Reform-minded Detroit teachers deserve help" - you know the drill: "Reform Minded" is code for "the union and teachers are the problem" – the article goes on to say

[Teachers] Crowley and Turner have organized the Detroit Children First slate. Made up of 19 diverse classroom teachers, it faces the current union President Virginia Cantrell and a host of other candidates.

The Children First slate's goal is two-fold: First, to begin a reform conversation among teachers who too often are ignored by the district's dysfunctional, bloated bureaucracy. Second, to create its own charter school. Its model: the Green Dot Schools, a Los Angeles nonprofit network of unionized charter high schools that is proving poor, urban and minority students can reach the same academic h
eights as their white and suburban peers do.

Children First? Sound familiar to Joel Klein's "Children Last" initiatives? Think there's a chance there is some connection to Teach for America?

You can read all about Green Dot's contracts with teachers in Michael Fiorillo's excellent post on ICE-mail: "The UFT and Green Dot Schools : Pragmatic Unionism or Trojan Horse?"

Is this the next level of attack – run in union elections. If we see this popping up in other cities, what organization is capable of mounting such an effort? It starts with a "T" and ends with an "A." Of course it would be surreptitious, but don't be surprised to find some high end political consultants giving such slates advice.

Will we see a pro-Rhee slate in union elections in DC? We saw lots of blog chatter this summer from some of these teachers ("Oh, my car is packed in July so I can run into school early to get ready.") One of the most vociferous pro Rhee ("I love her outside the box thinking. She has thought of a new way around the stubborn WTU - just eliminate the need to work with them altogether!") anti-union bloggers recently announced she had had it and was quitting, never to go back to teaching again.

My guess is they are wasting their time because even newer teachers who last beyond 2 or 3 years see the anti-teacher handwriting on the wall. We are beginning to see that happening in NYC was some of the TFA and Teaching Fellows are emerging from their years of learning and intense studying for their Masters to begin to want to learn more about the union.

As a matter of fact, I'm giving a presentation to a group of these teachers tomorrow at the Justice Not Just Tests group.

Of course in NYC we won't see such a slate run in the UFT elections since the UFT is in proper alignment with so much of the Joel Klein/Michael Bloomberg program. Mayor Mike is showing his appreciation by introducing Randi Weingarten at a big shindig in DC.

Randi watchers are sitting back to see how Randi, with her speak-out-of-5-sides-of-her-mouth tendencies," handles the Rhee situation. A recent NY Times article on Rhee by Sam Dillon, talked about a confrontation between Randi and Rhee.

In May, hundreds of people at a convention of educational entrepreneurs here watched spellbound as Ms. Weingarten, a commanding presence onstage, and Ms. Rhee, challenging her from the floor, clashed over what should happen to tenured teachers whom no schools hire.

Randi? A commanding presence on stage? And Rhee challenging her from the floor? Reminds me of my old days at the Delegate Assembly.

I'll bet Randi's response to Rhee wasn' t much, though she can throw the words around to make it appear so. Appearance over reality. One thing we can expect: there will be some militant rhetoric from the AFT, but not much action.

I posted the complete Detroit article on Norms Notes.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I encourage you to read my blog's latest post which is aptly titled union busting 101. It addresses the latest Washington Post's Sunday article in which Mayor Fenty and Chancellor Rhee are considering restoring the District's charter in order to create non unionized charter schools and seeking federal legislation to call for a state of emergency in DC just like what happened in Louisianna. One of their goals is so that they won't have to bargain any longer with the Washington Teachers' Union . This is as I am sure that you are aware an unfair labor practice. Parents, community members and teachers are outraged by this recent story.

As I outline on my blog, union busting is the firing of an already organized workforce and hiring non union labor. Many of us believe that the major goal in our city is privatization so that our Mayor and Chancellor can outsource jobs with hefty financial contracts to their wealthy friends and associates. This has been the wave of DC city government under our Mayor in many city agencies. Already we are privatizing teachers aides to a temp agency and they come and go like a revolving door without being qualified.

My blog is

By the way the anti blogger teacher that you referenced recently quit and she is no longer a DCPS teacher due to the many challenges, the level of school violence and lack of suppports that our school system provides. I have chosen to stay and work from the inside as an advocate for teachers through my union in an elected board member and building representative capacity.

I appreciate your blog and I follow what's happening in New York. We can learn a lot from you because there are some similarities. In solidarity.