Monday, December 17, 2018

School Scope: Red State Teacher Rebellion Spreads to Blue State Cities- Norm in The Wave

50,000 marched in Los Angeles to support teacher union

Here is my column for the Dec. 28 edition of The WAVE:

School Scope: Red State Teacher Rebellion Spreads to Blue State Cities
By Norm Scott

One of the major events in education over the past year were the teacher revolts in heavy duty Trump states: West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and the increasingly purple Arizona. These were state-wide revolts, all in places with relatively weak state teacher unions, which did not lead or even support some of the early actions by the rank and file, but jumped on board when they saw which way the wind is blowing. Many of the teachers were Trump supporters.

Now we are poised to see the first big city in the bluest of states join the fray with the successful Chicago charter school teacher strike and the upcoming Los Angeles Teachers Union (UTLA) strike in January. And in Oakland, teachers are increasingly restive, with one group going on a wildcat (no official union leadership support) sick out. While the Oakland wildcats came from the rank and file, Chicago and LA actions are union led.

A report from Capital and Main, a California newsletter:
“Two California teachers unions, which are currently deadlocked in separate contract talks with their respective school districts, are on the verge of launching the West Coast’s biggest teacher walkout since 1989. What happens next will decide far more than fair wages for career educators. At stake are broader principles of equity, expressed as contract demands for smaller class sizes and less testing, the addition of sufficient health and social services staff, and an investment in community schooling and fair funding — aimed at restoring public education as a public good for all Californians, rather than as a private interest granted to the lucky few…” --

The Los Angeles teacher union is led by a very progressive group with Alex Caputo-Pearl as the leader. He has a very firm vision of a teacher union being focused on issues beyond the membership but also inclusive of the students, their families and their communities. Any teacher knows that the conditions their students live in has an enormous impact on their working conditions. And the reverse is also true. Satisfied and happy teachers have a positive impact on the learning conditions of students.

Chicago Teacher Union rank and file at 15 charter schools vote overwhelmingly to approve contract in wake of first strike of charter operator in U.S. history… Chicago Teachers Union (CTU).
Educational historian Diane Ravitch comments: The billionaire backers of charter schools must be furious. The teachers at one of Chicago’s biggest charter chains organized a union and negotiated successfully for higher pay, smaller classes, and protection of their students from ICE. The main reason the billionaires support charter schools is to snuff out unions and their demands.

And speaking of wealthy charter backers, this headline caught my eye: U.S. “Working” to Extradite Cleric to Turkey. The cleric is the reclusive Fethullah Gullen, who has established the largest network of charter schools in the this nation, though they hide their connections to Gullen. He is the major enemy of thuggish Turkey President Erdogan, equally despicable. Hmmm, who to root for? If Gullen is sent back to Turkey, the fate of his charters, all non-union, may hang in the balance.

Michael Moore film and education
Last week, Rockaway Women for Progress sponsored the latest Moore film, Where to Invade Next. Moore “invades” a variety of  nations to “steal” their best ideas to bring back to us. He examines the education system in Finland, which is often considered a model and is in many ways diametrically opposite to the system we have here in the states. Testing is minimal, neighborhood schools are supreme, there are no competitive charters, and 100% of the teachers, who have a major role in educational policy, are in the union.

I’ll close with this: Examine the history of nationalism over the past 150 years and the ensuing wars before jumping on board that train.

See Norm hop off that train at



  1. The main goal of privatization is to gain access to public resources to reap private profits. Busting unions is part of the process.

  2. Nationalism is a reaction to other forces. Look for the shrill voices in current "debates."

  3. The shrill voices are neoliberals who are essentially the new bourgwazee. The working class are in open revolt in Europe and are
    railing against the capitalist theocracy and banking mafia that have superseded their own governments.The media's role is
    to keep people demoralized and divided. In this climate nationalism will almost certainly grow.

  4. America is so corrupt now that yellow vest time is almost inevitable


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