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Jeff Bernstein

Protecting Classrooms From Corporate Takeover: What Families Can Learn from Teachers' U... - 0 views

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    "Teachers are fighting the privatization wave by connecting with families right where they live."
Jeff Bernstein

Modeling the Education They Want To Be: The Great Chicago Teachers Union Transformation - 0 views

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    "According to labor journalist Micah Uetricht, it's high time for trade unions in the United States to decide whether they want to wither away and follow a "business unionism" model of concessions and shrinkage, or follow "social movement unionism," a bottom-up, democratic organizing strategy that is aligned with social justice movements throughout the country."
Jeff Bernstein

Redefining and Rebuilding the Teachers' Union | Alan Singer - 0 views

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    "In this post on reclaiming the conversation on education I offer strong views on the need to reorganize and redirect the American Federation of Teachers and the National Educational Association if these unions are to survive as a meaningful force for and ally of public education. I believe teachers and their unions have the potential to be agents for progressive educational and social change, but I am not sure that they will. It means taking risks that the organizations so far do not appear willing to make."
Jeff Bernstein

Public School Teachers: New Unions, New Alliances, New Politics - 0 views

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    "The U.S. working class was slow to respond to the hard times it faced during and after the Great Recession of 2007-2009. Finally, however, in February, 2011, workers in Wisconsin began the famous uprising that electrified the country, revolting in large numbers against Governor Scott Walker's efforts to destroy the state's public employee labor unions.  A few months later, the Occupy Wall Street movement, which supported many working class efforts, spread from New York City to the rest of the nation and the world. Then, in September 2012, Chicago's public school teachers struck, in defiance of Mayor Rahm Emmanuel's attempt to destroy the teachers' union and put the city's schools firmly on the path of neoliberal austerity and privatization.

    These three rebellions shared the growing awareness that economic and political power in the United States are firmly in the hands of a tiny minority of fantastically wealthy individuals whose avarice knows no bounds. These titans of finance want to eviscerate working men and women, making them as insecure as possible and wholly dependent on the dog-eat-dog logic of the marketplace, while at the same time converting any and all aspects of life into opportunities for capital accumulation."
Jeff Bernstein

Could New York Be the Next Chicago? - Working In These Times - 0 views

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    "Last September's Chicago teachers strike, organized-and won-by an unapologetically democratic, community-centered union, gave hope to laborites across the country that there could be a functional American labor movement.

    Now, a caucus of unionists seeks to remake New York's United Federation of Teachers, the city's local of the American Federation of Teachers, in the CTU's mold. The Movement of Rank-and-File Educators (MORE) was founded last spring as an alliance of teacher caucuses and activist groups. The caucus stands unconditionally opposed to school closings, retributive punishment of students, and the "junk science" of evaluating teachers based on student tests. "Teachers need to play the role in laying a platform for parents and students," says Marissa Torres, MORE's candidate for assistant treasurer in next month's elections. Torres calls for the UFT, like the Chicago Teachers Union, to foreground explicit anti-racism and collective struggle."
Jeff Bernstein

Marc Epstein: The Education Reformers' End Game - 0 views

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    "Okay, you've won! Tenure has been abolished. There are no limits on charters, and vouchers are available to all takers. Collective bargaining is a thing of the past. The dreaded fire-breathing dragon union now resembles a salamander. Governors, state legislatures, mayors and editorial boards, who've claimed that they can turn around the dismally depressing performance levels in our urban inner cities -- if only these vestiges of the past were abolished -- have had their way.

    But some questions remain, because as Colin Powell once said when referring to post-war Iraq, the "Pottery Barn Rule" now applies. That is, "you break it, you own it." So it might be useful if we ask the victors some questions about the new education landscape now that the "War on Entrenched Teachers & Unions" has been brought to a successful conclusion."
Jeff Bernstein

How Strong Are U.S. Teacher Unions? - A State-By-State Comparison - 0 views

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    "Everyone knows that teacher unions matter in education politics and policies, but it's hard to determine just how much they matter-and whether they wield greater influence in some places than in others.
    There's plenty of conventional wisdom on this topic, mostly along the lines of, "unions are most powerful where they represent most teachers and least consequential where their bargaining rights and revenues are restricted." 
    But is that really true? And even if it is, does it oversimplify a much more complex and nuanced situation?"
Jeff Bernstein

Merit Pay Contract Is Tough Sell for Newark Teachers - NYTimes.com - 0 views

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    "On Monday, the city's 4,700 union members are scheduled to vote on the contract. Both sides say they cannot predict the outcome, but either way, what happens here will echo among teachers' unions across the country.

    If the contract is approved, it could prompt other districts to push for pay-for-performance, by suggesting that merit pay is no longer so symbolic a fight among the rank and file. Newark's deal itself was prompted by recent changes to the state's tenure laws that were once considered unthinkable. And both sides insist that this deal could be a model for union-management collaboration, giving teachers a voice they have often felt was denied in reform.

    If it fails, beleaguered union leaders could take it as a new sign of strength in contract negotiations - similar, some teachers said, to the example of the Chicago teachers' strike last month."
Jeff Bernstein

Randi Weingarten - A Binder Full of Bad Ideas - 0 views

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    "Earlier this year at a roundtable discussion in Colorado, Mitt Romney was talking about education-extolling the virtues of private schools and vouchers, and criticizing public schools and teachers unions. When a teacher participating in the discussion tried to offer her perspective, Romney shot back: "I didn't ask you a question."

    But teachers, like many other Americans, have questions about Romney's policies and proposals. They worry about their impact on the education that kids receive, because he advocates slashing education funding and privatizing public education. They question his taking credit for educational success in Massachusetts that was spurred by reforms instituted a decade before he became governor, and wonder why as a presidential candidate he is proposing entirely different, discredited education policies. They are incredulous that he says he would preserve the U.S. Department of Education only so he'd have a club to go after teachers unions, when most teachers in Massachusetts and other high-performing states are unionized. They doubt his pledges to middle-income voters because, according to numerous independent analyses, the math doesn't add up for his tax and job creation proposals.

    This presidential election presents a choice between starkly different visions for the future of our country."
Jeff Bernstein

Jersey Jazzman: Whitty Nails "Won't Back Down" - 0 views

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    "Stephen Whitty of the Star-Ledger has Won't Back Down all figured out"
Jeff Bernstein

Chicago Teachers Strike Contract Leaves Education Issues Unresolved - 0 views

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    "An examination of the contract shows that some of the most controversial issues at stake in the strike have yet to be completely decided, with some issues relegated to committees. Partially because of teachers' new raises, the contract will cost the cash-strapped district $295 million over four years, a reality many believe will cause layoffs. Factions of teachers' unions in other cities inspired by the strike are seeking to fan the flames. Already, teachers in nearby Lake Forest and Evergreen Park have walked out.

    These fights represent a broader question the American populace is still grappling with: who owns our public schools?"
Jeff Bernstein

Randi Weingarten: Solution-Driven Unionism - 0 views

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    "Solution-driven unionism is rooted in solving problems, not winning arguments. AFT affiliates are pursuing this approach, and we are encouraging many more to follow suit. We know that this tough climate-marked by increasing poverty, continuing budget cuts, and a recession-fueled resurgence in attacks on unions and public services-can't stop us from having a proactive quality education agenda. To the contrary-while we will continue to fight for the resources children need, we must also devise innovative, creative and new approaches to help all children succeed."
Jeff Bernstein

Leonie Haimson: Parents Want Options Beyond a "Trigger" - SchoolBook - 0 views

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    "The reality is that most parents do not want to close their schools or convert them into charters to be run by private corporations, where they may have even less voice and students fewer rights.

    They do not want the teachers' union to be destroyed, as it is the only organized, well-financed group acting to keep class sizes from mushrooming out of control and school budgets from further cuts."
Jeff Bernstein

Julie Cavanagh: The Truth Behind Won't Back Down - 0 views

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    "This week a film partially funded by Walden Media, which is owned by entrepreneur and conservative Philip Anschutz, will be released in theaters. The film, Won't Back Down, is a work of fiction but claims to be based on real life events and tells the story of a teacher and a parent in a 'failing' school who join forces to 'save their school.' Walden Media also funded Waiting for Superman, which was billed as a documentary on education and chronicled the stories of several families navigating the educational landscape intermixed with commentary from journalists, economists, philanthropists, and business folks who surmised the troubles of public education today. These two films differ in style, but their substance is aligned and their conclusion is the same: teacher unions are the obstacle to student achievement."
Jeff Bernstein

Daily Kos: Unions, Education and The Chicago Teachers Strike - 0 views

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    "The Chicago Teachers Union strike, and the recent rallies held in conjunction, speak to a problem larger than the conventional meme of pay increases, tenure, or pensions.  Chicago Teachers want better working conditions. They realize as no other employees might; the environments in which they work fashion the future of our nation.  Our children's education is at-risk."
Jeff Bernstein

Leonie Haimson: Don't be fooled by "Won't Back Down"! - 0 views

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    "Last night I attended a screening of the controversial new film, "Won't Back Down" about a parent and a teacher who take over their "failing" public school.  I have written a FAQ about the movie which is posted here.  The film was produced by Walden Media, owned by right-wing billionaire Phillip Anschutz, who also co-produced "Waiting for 'Superman.'" 
    Advance screenings have been held around the country, organized by Michelle Rhee's Students First and other pro-charter lobbying organizations, to promote the "Parent Trigger," which allows a school to be turned over to a charter operator if 51% of the parents sign a petition calling for this. Here is a good analysis by the Center for Media and Democracy.  
    The movie itself is badly written, poorly acted, and full of exaggerated characterizations and unconvincing plot twists. Its message, transmitted with sledgehammer subtlety, is that the only reason that schools in poor communities are failing is because of incompetent lazy teachers who are protected by the union. "
Jeff Bernstein

Joe Nocera: How to Fix the Schools - NYTimes.com - 0 views

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    "The Chicago teachers' strike exemplifies, in stark terms, how misguided the battle over education has become. The teachers are fighting for the things industrial unions have always fought for: seniority, favorable work rules and fierce resistance to performance measures. City Hall is fighting to institute reforms no top-performing country has ever seen fit to use, and which probably won't make much difference if they are instituted.

    The answer lies elsewhere - in a different approach to teaching education and to dealing with the unions."
Jeff Bernstein

Karen Lewis: School closings open door to charters - Chicago Sun-Times - 0 views

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    "Chicagoans need to understand what is happening to our school system. The mayor and his hedge fund allies are going to replace our democratically-controlled public schools with privately-run charter schools. This will have disastrous results and people need to rise up and refuse. As a parent, do you really want your child wearing a three-piece polyester suit every day to school and pay a fine every time your child's tie isn't on straight?"
Jeff Bernstein

The Chicago Strike and the History of American Teachers' Unions - Dana Goldstein - 0 views

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    "It has been difficult to discern what specific details are left on the table in the Chicago teachers' negotiations. Broadly, we know the union leadership resents Mayor Rahm Emanuel's enthusiasm for non-unionized charter schools and neighborhood school closings. It is also clear that professional evaluation is a big issue, as it is in states and cities across the country. To what extent should teachers be judged by their students' test scores, as opposed to by more holistic measures? Job security, especially for teachers in schools that will be shut down, has been eroding, which the CTU sees as a calamity, yet many reformers applaud. And of course, there is pay. Is it fair for teachers to demand regular raises when unemployment is so high, and budgets at every level of government are strapped?

    I'm not going to pronounce on these questions today, but I do want to offer a quick history of teacher unionism to keep things in perspective. The modern teachers' union movement began in Chicago in 1897, and many of the problems back then -- from low school budgets to testing to debates over classroom autonomy -- remain more than salient today."
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