Saturday, August 4, 2012

@SOS - Teachers' Unions, Teachers' Rights, Teachers' Voice

 Panelists: Mike, Fred Klonsky (Frmr Park Ridge Ed Assoc Pres), Sian Barrett (Chicago TU), Michael Walker Jones (Exec Dir of Louisiana Assoc of Ed).

Room is filled with many union activists -- a bunch from NYC. CLs Arthur Goldstein and John Elfrank-Dana plus Leo Casey.

Interesting there are people from groups similar to MORE from Providence and Newark and some other areas of Jersey. A principal from NYC just said (proudly) that her new chapter leader ran on a MORE platform. (I'm glad Leo wasn't eating anything he could choke on.)

But in the spirit of good fellowship, Leo and I continued our detente from last year's SOS - Mike Klonsky even took a pic of us shaking hands yesterday.

Michael Walker Jones
Catalogs outrages (similar to what Nancy Carlson-Paige (Matt Damon's mom) did at last night's keynote --- which I'll edit and post next week). 
Leo just commented on Walker-Jones comment about John White that your loss was our gain. WJ: we have let the opposition bring us to our knees with attack on the unions. He has counseled out 75 people from profession. How they have framed the union. LO tchrs have no protection. White has no sense of history -- he can't bear to sit next to him. Boy can I show him video of this bloodless vampire in action in NYC.

Jones makes great point about unions backing down and apologing. Stand for Children in Mass forced union of highest performing state to back down and make a deal. Expresses the real outrage many of us are feeling at the defensive posture of unions.

I've been pointing out that the worm is turning in many ways and one of them is inside the top union leaderships themselves --- the attack is so fierce that they almost have no choice.

Fred Klonsky:
Just retired from suburban Chicago district. Bargained about 10 contracts, attended every NEA conv since '93. Had union background in prev work.
Took him 5 years to know what he didn't know -- why objects to TFA.
Began to look at social role of unions and teachers once he got teaching down. (my experience in my 4th yr.)
Talking about what union should do.
Really good stuff from personal view --- I have to post the video when I get home.
Fred and I had some rough spots over the years and I introduced myself to him yesterday and glad I did. I find him really impressive.
Was told when bargaining: "Teachers just another cost to be contained." Now barg not for bread &butter but for dignity and self respect.
Also have to build consensus with colleagues. Eg. common core -- some tchrs like idea.
Also -- world outside classroom - political and social. Many tchrs not comfortable in that role.
Senate bill 7: Tells Jonah Edelman story - I won't repeat.
Rights reg tenure, seniority removed, Val Added count 50% of eval. 75% vote to strike. All unions lobbied for it except Fred's union. (AMAZING).
IA (state union)  spun it as victory for teachers. Now accepted as disaster. In one yr went from 1 local to entire state.
New unionism -- results based unionism - Randi's gig. Really old -- concessions redefined. Fighting back would be new,

Xian Barrett from Chicago TU

I got to know Xian real well over the years. He often represented the involvement with student activist element of CORE and CTU. Stud and comm organizing.
Until 4 yrs ago he was a teacher in southside of Chi in poor area.
Careful about getting rid of Duncan concept -- replace one neo-lb with another.
New Orleans most extreme but Chicago and everyone else facing the same.
Even mom and pop charters being attacked and cannibalized by charter chains.
Old CTU leadership hostile to own members. Wanted to be active in the union but had doors slammed in his face. Not from TFA perspective of I want to solve unionism but want to contribute.
Opposition in Chi fragmented.
Met 10 fellow activists. Some were in a book group. Push union and take back our schools. 2 yrs later -CORE -- every elected position of the union. Didn't appoint only from own caucus -- chose best out of r&f and not caucus. (HEAR THAT UNITY).
He headed polit caucus of CTU -- now back in classroom and proud of it. I was fired and terminated from CHI -- blacklist not for people who hurt children but for people who organize -- he got off that list (HEAR THAT UNITY WHICH COVERS UP THE DREADED DISCONTINUED LIST).
I'm back where I was -- but now have a fighting leadership and union --- not just about the leadership but everyone. Needed 75% of all members. As we org buildings they got scared -- Rahm org camp to attack tchrs -- tchrs had to hand out letters to parents that said if your teacher voted for strike were aganst children. Hard for isolated tchr but having a fighting union made it easier -- voted 98% of those who voted and 92% of all tchrs.
Another vote on fact-finding report -- report came out for 18% raise for tchrs based on longer school day --- coming to all as part of Deformer astro turf report.
CTU House of Del voted unan against that report offering an 18% raise (HEAR THAT UNITY which would have gobbled that up.)
Now want to fight for class size and tenure etc not just for raises.
Working w comm orgs to have elected school bdds -- who governs schools (HEAR THAT UNITY).
CORE began as social justice caucus -- not vie for leadership initially -- attacks from old CTU ldrship -- attacked them for working directly with parents and comm - they responded that that YES WE ARE).
Important to give people in power choices as opposition -- rep members demo -- can be done with old or new ldrship -- could be very excited to have new group working with them -- then if they don't -- take next step. (Interesting point that some were making in MORE -- to not run this time but start out with campaign to give Unity a choice. But time frame of elections made that difficult.)
****We brought in a lot of active political people representing leftist orgs -- we were not going to bring in outside leftist agendas -- ISO, Solidarity, PLP. etc. ) we would slap each other back when it began to look like a leftist agenda with overly ideological components. I starred this because MORE in its early stages has to address this issue.)

Every single ed gathering we tried to get a few people to --- not to control dialogue but to reach out and support.
We had a political plan for org but also a plan on how to govern. We got to 600 out of 650 schools -- won 60% of vote. Oh shit -- we are in power. But not capital Oh shit since we had a plan. CTU new ldrsh supported SB7 but realized they would take damage and didn't defend a bad decision.
This is OUR civil rights struggle of our time. We win by taking on the struggle they say they are taking on that struggle.
DAMN -- battery ran out and I missed part of one of the best presentations. Xian rocked.

Politics of governance -- in oppositon can do polit of protest. Given we are in a war --- impor to hold ground we can defend. If we gain ground we can't defend we can be routed. Fighting on max ground we can hold. Leave us w ground we can't hold.

Jones - prob w unions claiming victory to members -- we took gas but didn't claim victory.
Natl and state ldrs talking about wrong thing. We need to go back on natl and st level and go back to roots.

Xian -- can have a pretty rad agenda and still be positive. Ie. Just don't say common core sucks but talk about uncommon core -- what will work with students. Don't just say Obama sucks -- not as a counter to elect Obama but what will work for students and communities. As educators we are the experts .

James -- reported -- community centured pedagogy. COCO in Chicago.
Mike K: Common Core comes out of struggle for equity -- the class nature of curriculum -- Jean Anion at CUNY studies -- what kids in Miss and Boston get. One reason for CC idea. Problematic. Community engagement also used to create segreg and -- think what they want to teach down south.

I wanted to make a point about without a democratic union we have

Tomorrow morning they will reconvene but I have to leave.

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.

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