ICE congratulates everyone who worked so hard to have Barack Obama elected US President. The multitudes of teachers who donated and worked for Obama expect that we will be respected by an Obama administration. We have suffered through a quarter century of teacher bashing in this country since the infamous A Nation at Risk was published. First, there was competency testing of teachers (supported by Hillary Clinton incidentally). Then, the one-way accountability system was introduced that blamed teachers for all of the social ills of the country. This led to the high-stakes testing movement which combined with Mayoral dictatorships over schools in many of our large cities. Blaming teachers became an acceptable form of discrimination. ICE states emphatically: TWENTY-FIVE YEARS OF TEACHING BASHING IS ENOUGH! We must send real educators to Washington who will support an education policy that respects our work. ICE would like to see the following motion added to the agenda today:
Resolved, that the UFT will work to see that the Secretary and Under-secretary of Education share our values and we will toil to defeat any nominee such as Arne Duncan, Michelle Rhee, Joel Klein, Paul Vallas or any other potential Secretary of Education who supports corporate style, top-down, high stakes test crazed, teacher bashing accountability.
The November 24 Atr Rally Is About All Of Us
Every UFT member is a potential future Absent Teacher Reserve. The DOE can easily set up a school to fail by giving that school the area's most challenging students and then blaming the educators when test scores don't rise fast enough. The November 24th Rally at Tweed in support of our ATR's and RTR's (teaching fellows threatened with termination in early December) should be used as a springboard to win back preferred placement rights for teachers who are excessed. Before the punitive 2005 giveback laden Contract, if a school or program was closed or reduced, teachers had "preferred placement rights" to vacancies. We didn't bump appointed teachers. In addition, in prior Contracts provisional employees were specifically covered by Article 18F: "No Layoff Agreement." It's time to mobilize to put these provisions and an SBO or seniority based transfers back into our Contract. The massive rally called for by the DA (We do not favor a candlelight vigil as an alternative.) should be used as an attempt to start the fight to win back what we gave up in 2005.
Ice Says Yes To Democracy In Schools; No To Mayoral Dictatorship
The law giving the Mayor complete control of the schools expires in June 2009. The State Legislature must renew it or come up with something new. If they do nothing, the city system would revert to the old system of an appointed seven member Board of Education and elected community districts.
ICE has spent over a year discussing a governance plan that would value the democratic participation of all constituents and restore dignity to students, staff and parents. This is a golden opportunity to right what was wrong with the system prior to 2002 and correct what can only be considered a seven year disaster under Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Chancellor Joel Klein.
The BOE must be politically neutral and removed from any one political office. A school system cannot change/adjust according to the whim, caprice, political aspirations, career, or ideology of any Mayor. It must be run as an independent office with responsibilities to the people of the City and operate within the regulations and laws of the NYS Ed. Department.
ICE believes in democracy. Therefore, the local and central Boards of Education should be elected by the voters and non-registered parents/guardians, and there should be checks and balances built into the structure. Furthermore, the actions of theses boards should be transparent. At the school level, Shared Decision Making among parents, teachers, and administrators (also, students in the high schools) must become a reality.
ICE has three members on the UFT's School Governance Committee. Underlying our proposal is the recognition that the doors of the schoolhouse must be open to all.