Wednesday, December 14, 2011

AFT/NEA: More Sellouts to Ed Deform

Leo Casey and Pedro Noguera are both hypocrites; talking out of both sides of their mouths. Supporting charter proliferation, and at the same time spouting progressive BS denouncing privatization etc.-----anon. email comment on below
Netroots conference Dec. 19 at Pace

Privatize, We’re Watching You: Fighting Privatization UFT VP Leo Casey, Ken Bernstein

 Watching who? The theme should be: We are watching you... And not really doing anything about it.

 Or: We're making it look like we're watching you but really working with you - but don't tell our members.
They (NEA) explicitly embraced the notion that teachers should be responsible for student learning. - Rick Hess
This was posted on the NYCEdNews Listserve:
AFT local to authorize Minn. charters, as supported by AFT innovation fund; NEA supports merit pay and end to seniority protections for teachers. Rick  Hess (and I’m sure Bill Gates etc. approves.) NEA: seniority should only be a factor in teacher retention or assignment when all other factors are equal…   “The need for tenure is replaced by a peer review program that provides opportunities for improvement or, when improvement is lacking, ensures due process throughout dismissal."
What else is there to say?
Note that these policies are not allowed to be vetted within undemocratically run locals like the UFT where if we had open discussions I'm betting the members would question these moves. But with in essence a one party system where every single one of the 89 seats on the UFT Ex Bd are endorsed by Unity Caucus, we have little opportunity to get member input as voices of opposition are shut out. Thus, I am often amused by some commentators on the NYCEDNEWS Listserve - Unity Caucus members who have been part of that process and supported it who rail against the DOE abuses but let the enablers in the UFT off the hook. I think I read while I was away in a post by a retired union official about Eric Nadelstern having PROMISED something and going back on his word. Oh, the outrage at that. But I have plenty of outrage at a union leadership that aided and abetted the very policies (see support for mayoral control for just one) that have undermined the public schools in this city - spending most of the past decade supporting the closing of schools. And a union leadership that vilified those who opposed and tried to raise issues at various venues. And plenty of outrage at the rank and file Unity people who know better go along - like the 800 Unity members that jeered the people who walked out on Bill Gates at the AFT convention in 2010. If we had a democratic union I'm sure the membership would reject this move by the AFT. But with Unity Caucus here in NYC still licking at Randi's boots and refusing to allow discussions over these policy moves from the top, there is little hope of change.

I'm Skeptical But Intrigued By AFT Initiative, NEA Report

By Rick Hess on December 13, 2011 7:58 AM

I'm skeptical when folks who've seemed to drag their heels offer up nifty new proposals and innovations. So, I don't want to sound all "gee, whiz" here. At the same time, it's important that skepticism not morph into reflexive dismissal. With that in mind, we've seen a couple noteworthy developments from the AFT and NEA in recent days.

First, in Minnesota, the Minnesota Guild of Public C harter Schools, a non-profit launched by the AFT local, the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers, has been approved to operate as a charter school authorizer. Supported by the AFT's Innovation Fund, the venture will, in the words of MFT president Lynn Nordgren, seek to "authorize schools that rely on teacher expertise to identify and use effective teaching strategies, promote engaged student learning, create educational autonomy, ensure effective organization and develop shared management." This is potentially a really interesting development, and one that ought not be merely brushed aside.

Last Thursday, in Washington, the NEA's Commission on Effective Teachers and Teaching released its notable new report Transforming Teaching: Co nnecting Professional Responsibility with Student Learning, (full disclosure: I served on the advisory committee). Chaired by Maddie Fennell (a former Nebraska teacher of the year) and savvily stocked with other accomplished educators (including nine other teachers who'd claimed their state's teacher of the year award), the commission could easily have churned out one more tedious document. They didn't. They explicitly embraced the notion that teachers should be responsible for student learning. The report endorses dismantling "state requirements [that] create barriers" to hiring good teachers and closing down lousy teacher preparation programs. It calls for differentiating professional development based on teacher experience and evaluations, among other criteria. It champions peer evaluation, promising that this will help ensure due process rights while expediting "dismissal" of ineffective teachers. It suggests that, in such a context, seniority should only be a factor in teacher retention or assignment when all other factors are equal. It calls for differentiating teacher compensation based on teacher effectiveness, the roles that teachers play, the difficulty of teaching assignments, and the length of the school year or school day. This is real stuff, especially when you consider the NEA's history on these issues.
Now, there's lots of room for skepticism. Will the Minnesota Guild prove to be a responsible authorizer? We've already got lots of problems with authorizer quality and Andy Rotherham has wisely pointed out that a proliferation of nonprofit authorizers raises lots of questions. How seriously will the MFT be about charter schooling? Is the AFT's stance more about politics than enthusiasm for the charter concept? And what will the NEA actually do with its big report? Will the locals and state affiliates that drive the NEA take the effort seriously, or will it gather cyber-dust on the cyber-shelf? Is the national NEA serious about any of this, or is just an effort to deflect criticism and slow down the push for policies designed to reshape teacher evaluation or pay? How many teachers does it expect to actually be moved out of the profession under peer review? How seriously should we take its talk about removing licensure barriers or closing down lousy teacher prep programs?
All of these questions are fair and valid. But, at times like these, I find it useful to recall Ronald Reagan's motto for dealing with the Soviet Union when it came to nuclear disarmament. "Trust, but verify," the Gipper advised. If it was good enough for a Cold Warrior facing down the Soviets, I think it'll do here.

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