"The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves." -- John Adams

"No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution." -- Indiana Constitution Article 1, Section 6.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilisation, it expects what never was and never will be...nor can they be safe with them without information. Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe." – Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Thoughts About the Chicago Teachers Strike - Part 1

Chicago's Teachers "Won't Back Down" and Inspire Teachers Throughout the Nation
...the nation's teachers are fed up with being made the whipping boy for the nation's failure to reduce racial and economic inequality and provide equal educational opportunity for its citizens...The Chicago Teachers Union has flipped the script on Michelle Rhee, Democrats for Education reform and other backers of school privatization and showed how a teachers union can be a militant advocate for the right of students to have a school experience which includes music, art, sports and class sizes small enough to receive individual attention. There is no guarantee that the strike will achieve its major goals, but it has already succeeded in giving America's teachers a huge emotional lift...

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Chicago teachers are facing down big money and political power to fight for better schools
Chicago teachers are fighting not just for fair pay and decent health care but for a host of things that will improve education for Chicago kids—smaller classes, needed books and teaching materials, comfortable and well-maintained schools...textbooks on day one instead of in week six, pushing for more social workers and school nurses...They need fair evaluation systems, not to risk firing based on standardized tests that were not designed to evaluate teacher performance. They need enough job security to be able to go to bat for their students without fear. They need to be teaching in classrooms that aren't overflowing with 30 or more students.


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Romney raises money, rips Obama on teachers strike
Hours before landing at O'Hare International Airport, Romney released a statement accusing Obama of siding with organized labor instead of students.
Romney is out of touch with reality if he thinks that President Obama and Rahm Emanuel are "friends" of teachers unions.

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Diane Ravitch
When Mayor Rahm Emanuel is talking about youth crime, he assigns responsibility to parents and families for the values and attitudes and behavior of what he calls “gang bangers.”

When he talks about schools, however, he forgets that parents and families have any influence on how students behave and the effort they are willing to expend on their studies. All of a sudden, teachers alone control test scores, no one else.

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Do student standardized test scores reflect how well teachers teach or how well politicians govern? Poverty and Potential: Out-of-School Factors and School Success

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If larger classes, more tests, less money, lack of school libraries, fewer textbooks, fewer nurses and social workers, longer hours, less Art, Music and Physical Education, dilapidated buildings, and fewer programs are so good for public education in Chicago why doesn't Rahm Emanuel (President Obama, Mitt Romney) provide that for his own children?

Rahm Emanuel's children go to the University of Chicago Lab School - $20,000 a year per student
President Obama's children go to Sidwell Friends School - $33,000 a year per student
Mitt Romney's children went to Belmont Hill School for Boys - $37,000 a year per student

[UPDATE: as a comparison this Reuters article lists Chicago's spending per pupil at $7,946 per year.]

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(click for a larger image)
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The real problem with Rahm’s school reforms in Chicago
This is not about whether or not you think the union should have called a strike as it did on Monday, but rather about the central problem with the reforms that Emanuel has been advocating: There’s no real proof that they systemically work, and in some cases, there is strong evidence that they may be harmful.

The reforms championed by Emanuel, a former chief of staff to President Obama, have been pushed by Obama’s education secretary, Arne Duncan, and implemented in a number of states.

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The Schools Chicago's Students Deserve: Research Based Proposals to Strengthen Elementary and Secondary Education in the Chicago Public Schools
1. Recognize That Class Size Matters.
2. Educate The Whole Child.
3. Create More Robust Wrap-around Services.
4. Address Inequities In Our System.
5. Help Students Get Off To A Good Start.
6. Respect And Develop The Professionals.
7. Teach All Students.
8. Provide Quality School Facilities.
9. Partner With Parents.
10. Fully Fund Education.

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Contribute to the CTU Solidarity Fund
The Chicago Teachers Union is currently on the front lines of a fight to defend public education. On one side the 30,000 members of the CTU have called for a contract that includes fair compensation, meaningful job security for qualified teachers, smaller class sizes and a better school day with Art, Music, World Language and appropriate staffing levels to help our neediest students.

On the other side, the Chicago Board of Education—which is managed by out of town reformers and Broad Foundation hires with little or no Chicago public school experience—has pushed to add two weeks to the school year and 85 minutes to the school day, eliminate pay increases for seniority, evaluate teachers based on student test scores, and slash many other rights.

Teachers, parents and community supporters in Chicago have fought valiantly—marching, filling auditoriums at hearings and parent meetings, even occupying a school and taking over a school board meeting. Most recently, 98 percent of our members voted to authorize a strike. But now we find ourselves facing new opponents—national education privatizers, backed by some of the nation’s wealthiest people. They are running radio ads, increasing press attacks, and mounting a PR campaign to discredit the CTU and the benefits of public education.

We are asking you to support our struggle for educational justice. You and your organization can show your support by making contribution to our Solidarity Fund. All donations will be used to conduct broad outreach throughout Chicago and nation-wide. Specifically, we plan to print educational materials, to distribute information about our positive agenda, such as the CTU report The Schools Chicago Students Deserve, and to mobilize massive support for educators in rallies and gatherings throughout the city. Any amount you can give will be a great help. You can donate using your credit card below or write a check to the “Chicago Teachers Union Solidarity Fund” and mail it directly to the Chicago Teachers Union Solidarity Fund, 222 Merchandise Mart Plaza, Suite 400, Chicago, Illinois 60654. If your organization or union would like to write a letter or resolution of solidarity, we would very much appreciate it.

Thank you for your support.
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Stop the Testing Insanity!


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