|GEM At LaCASITA
Friday, July 8, 2011, 6AM
As usual, I'm the only one up. We are still 4 people in the suite - one person left and another took over the cot (I have the fold-out couch). Two more are leaving tonight. (I haven't asked my roomies and colleagues from NYC if I can mention their names so I am staying mum for now - though you might see some you know in the pics I've been posting the last few days.
Today is sightseeing day. We may connect up later with Puerto Rico Teachers Union President Rafael Feliciano, who was one of the major stars of the National Educators' Conference to Fight Back for Public Education. Jeez, they're all still sleeping. This place serves one mean breakie and I can't wait to hit that waffle iron.
There's no way I can report on the details of the conference because there was too much incoming info for me to process. Thus, I was perfectly comfortable being the official videographer, a role I like more and more as I don't have to think beyond pointing the camera and pressing a button. I will probably start putting up snippets of what I taped when I get back home on Saturday.
It is certainly interesting to hang out with leaders of unions who have progressive visions of union reform and how to effectively fight back for public education. I was surprised when Chicago TU President Karen Lewis ended her speech at the opening by pointing to me and saying the first thing she does every morning is go to Ed Notes so she can know what's going on in NYC. (I will put up video soon). Earlier, a teacher from Kansas City told me the same thing. And yesterday a union leader from Canada said he subscribes. That was funny because I've been thinking of cutting back. Darnit!
A bunch of people hung out yesterday for more chewing the fat after which we hit a local bar where I was sitting with Washington Teacher Union leaders Nathan Saunders and Candi Peterson, who is an old blogging pal. We are meeting up again at the SOS in Washington DC.
In many ways the formal meetings are not as important as the side conversations and the after hours hanging out in bars. I have quite a load of stuff to report on some of the interesting things I learned. Ooops - they're up so gotta go eat soon.
Here are a few quick points:
CORE as a caucus is an awesome operation with awesome people. Mostly young activists - one of the key people in setting up this conference is a 25 year old 2nd year teacher. How different from Unity for a caucus in power. They all proudly wear their CORE tee-shirts. And how interesting that they try to keep the leadership of the caucus in the hands of classroom teachers and somewhat separate from the Chicago Teachers Union. Thus, CORE was the host, not the CTU and they have an amazing amount of top-level activists who do an awesome amount of work.
There were lots of people from Los Angeles - mostly from a caucus called PEAK. Very impressive people. They're doing a lot of work there around the teacher evaluation and other issues. And of course, there was our gang from NYC, always a great crew to hang out with. GEM was there in force but there were other groups represented too. (I'm trying to be careful about naming groups and names since I've been reprimanded in the past - you know who you are.)
There are things I can talk about and other stuff probably left off the table for now.
After the bar, George Schmidt of Substance* (the model for the tabloid print edition of Ed Notes c. 2002-4) took us over to the Whittier school where parents have been sitting in at the attached community center and library which offers so much to the community and the city is trying to tear down. I have some great interviews with the parents and George does lots of commentary. Film being processed and I will put something up when I get home. For now, here are some stills I put into a slideshow.
Here is a report on the conference from George Schmidt's Substance:
About 150 activists from across the United States — mostly union teachers — gathered at the “National Conference to Fight for Public Education” in Chicago on Wednesday, July 6, 2011.
Earthy Girl commented:
We must have just missed you at Whittier, Norm. We were there early afternoon. Here are my pictures.
You can use any of them if you want. Email me if you need a direct attachment.
http://flickr.com/gp/good4kidz/a5mvZ2/. I've seen a lot of sadness in my life but this broke my heart. I kept thinking 'This is the USA? This is the best we can do for our children?'
Check out Norms Notes for a variety of articles of interest: http://normsnotes2.blogspot.com/. And make sure to check out the side panel on right for news bits.