Tuesday, January 20, 2009

How are funds from Obama's stimulus package going to be spent, vis-a-vis education?

Michael Fiorillo, Chapter Leader, Newcomers High School

Are they going to be spent on reducing class size and improving facilities and opportunities for ALL students, or is it going to be funneled to charter schools based on a chain store/franchise model, testing and high tech surveillance companies that develop programs for tracking students and teachers?

Randi Weingarten's piece in the January 18 "Week In Review" section of the Times gives a dispiriting and Pollyanish take on Arne Duncan as Education Secretary. Rather than calling him out on his political logrolling and duplicity, demonstrated by his signing on to both Klein and Sharpton (and Broad's and Gates') Education Equality Project and the more progressive Bolder, Broader Approach, while in fact acting aggressively to close public schools and replace them with contract schools, charter schools and military academies, she lauds him as someone who is "committed to working with all stakeholders to strengthen and improve public education."

Well, yeah, I guess he'll work with teacher's, so long as they shut up and get with the program.

Randi says that Obama and Duncan are willing to "move beyond the polarizing rhetoric that has characterized the education debate for so long." Perhaps they will, but actions speak louder than words, and in his actions Duncan has shown himself to be a smooth, slick enemy of public education, running errands for the Commercial Club of Chicago, which has set the agenda for the public schools there since the advent of mayoral control in the 1990's.

Randi speaks of "bipartisanship and collaboration," but frankly I have no desire to "collaborate" with people who openly seek to eliminate tenure and pensions - Klein is on record stating that these are his two dream goals - and turn the public schools into franchises (KIPP, Green Dot, et. al.) that train youngsters for a lifetime of docility, low pay, overwork and tedium.

By suggesting that we "collaborate" with people who time after time act on their contempt for teachers, students, communities and democracy, Randi is either being dangerously naive or has consciously made her peace with the privatization of the schools, and is just looking for the UFT/AFT to get its cut of the action.

When it comes to the education debates in this country, the reality is that we need more, not less, polarization and struggle around these issues, otherwise we are cooperating in our own demise.


Anonymous said...

A sobering post.

Anonymous said...

Sobering indeed. Even after a smooth single malt (which was quite lovely).

I pledge now as ICE UFT President I will call out everyone who deserves it. It seems to me that we (ICE) have made another mistake tonight in this post. Why don't we question those on top? Not to worry though, I will bring changes to ICE too.

It is for that reason that I must ask now, President Obama how are you going to change things? How will you supply the necessary funding for schools to succeed? How will you maintain dignity and respect for our teachers? Will you respect pensions and tenure? Will you respect PUBLIC education? Will you provide plasma televisions for every teachers lounge across the land so that we might watch HBO during our duty free lunches?

These questions deserve an answer! They are all very necessary inorder for schools to succeed. Too many questions left unanswered! Where does our President stand?

Ty Johnson; BBA, MS, MPIA, J.D., D.P.M., Future ICE UFT President, Future ICE AFT President, and personally recognized as a good samaritan by Judge Judy in 1998.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Jeff:

Just an idea for comments..

Michelle Obama will focus on employment discrimination issues as I heard from the news.

Obama said on many occasions that If there's an Arab American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties. ...

We all know that DOE and UFT have not afforded the full due process rights to the teachers who have been brought of 3020a proceeding as stipulated by NYS 3020a law.

The charged teachers face one arbitrator instead a panel of three, the arbitrators sit on the cases for years on end instead of on rotational basis, as the law clearly states. It makes the 3020a prceeding a steady stream of income for the arbitrators, which influence the impartiality of their decisions.

I suggest that we start a pertition among the rubber room teachers to Obama administration to have the laws enforced as it was written. We demand a panel of three arbitrators instead of one, and the arbitrators are on the rotational basis as the 3020a law states.


Anonymous said...

I'm sure the funds doe gets will be used to hire more desperately need supervisors and administrators. Class size reduction? Are you kidding! We know that if you are a truly dedicated teacher you should be able to teach a class of 80 and not hear a pin drop as you juggle 15 guided reading groups and do your conference notes at the same time.

Anonymous said...

You wrote "...franchises (KIPP, Green Dot, et. al.) that train youngsters for a lifetime of docility, low pay, overwork and tedium." Evidence for that claim? If students graduate and go to college, they have life options, regardless of the disciplinary and curricular culture of their high school. If they drop out, as they have done in massive numbers from regular (union) city public high schools, they have few or no options and low or no pay, tedium, or jail do indeed await them. Don't confuse means with ends -- a "democratic classroom" full of "critical thinking" where kids are "motivated" but can't get into college - what good is that?

Anonymous said...

If you cherry pick the students in the charter schools, it is not a fair comparison. Everyone knows that is what goes on and then the students whose parents are not savvy enough end up in the regular schools. A little reality please 2:58 p.m.

ed notes online said...

Why do you assume these kids would not go to college out of the public schools? I taught in one of the poorest areas of Brooklyn and had many kids go to college- the same pool KIPP draws from. And it's pretty interesting that you already have these kids in college when they are not even out of KIPP yet.

I can give you plenty of stories of kids functioning well academically who ended up lost to the streets.

Oh, and you pretty much sound like our old friend socrates - must be using the same script.

David Dzidzikashvili said...

Obama’s stimulus plan should also envision changing regulations & economic policies to have short-term & long-term effects on unemployment, middle-class and the market stability. Strengthening the middle class and creating more job opportunities should be the primary objective of the package, rather than handing the blank check to the Wall Street and failed big corporations.

Anonymous said...

It seems that the funds from Obama's stimulus package will go to create more jails. Look at the email that Senator Martin Golden sent -- JOBS NEW YORK STATE CORRECTIONAL SERVICES.
"Brooklyn -- State Senator Martin J. Golden (R-C, Brooklyn), a former New York City Police Officer, is today announcing that the New York State Department of Correctional Services, responsible for overseeing the incarceration and rehabilitation of the convicted criminals of our State, is looking for Correction Officers. This job allows Officers to play a role in ensuring the safety of the society they live in. It also offers them the chance to work closely with those who have run afoul of the law, providing services that can aid in the rehabilitation of convicted criminals who are willing to reform.

Upon successful completion of the Academy Training Program and an initial probationary period, Officers earn over $41,000 a year, with a promise of promotion within the Department for those who display the discipline, conviction, and know-how necessary to move up in the ranks. Furthermore, an extensive benefits package, including health, life, dental, and vision insurance makes becoming a Correction Officer not only a smart career move but a commitment to the future of one's family.

Senator Marty Golden stated, "The position of New York State Correction Officer is vital in the law enforcement apparatus of our great State. Correction Officers are not only responsible for supervising the movement of inmates and resolving problems within State prisons, they play a pivotal role in the rehabilitation of State inmates. Without capable Officers, our prisons, and by effect our society, become less safe to live in. I encourage anyone who feels they are up to this responsibility to apply to be a Correction Officer for the New York State Department of Correctional Services and embrace a rewarding career in an occupational field that helps to protect our communities."

The filing deadline is Tuesday, February 17, 2009 and the Correction Officer examination is scheduled for Saturday, April 4, 2009. Application forms are available and can be downloaded at www.docs.state.ny.us or are being made available at Senator Golden's District Office at 7408-5th Avenue or by calling his office at (718) 238-6044."

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Anonymous said...

Teachers in Connecticut make 80,000 a year,..and although that sounds like alot,...we work very hard to everyday to promote many future hard working citizens for America. Every successful student helps to make this country strong in many directions. Do not touch our pensions and tenure.

Unitymustgo! said...

I just posted this comment over at Ednotes. I wanted to re-post this here with the hopes something like the rally I suggest could really happen. I know it would be a big departure from your current policy of diplomacy with Unity, but maybe it time to try a new approach.

Great job! I think it's about time those of us who are aware and fed up with our destructive union leadership, begin to protest and rally against our own union. As great as it is that you are able to demonstrate the clear two faced and despicable behavior of Randi and our union leadership, the video also shows how she skillfully co-opts the rally and begins chanting let teachers teach herself, thus making it appear she was the organizer and leader the whole time. I for one would whole heartedly support and show for a rally outside of union headquarters with the explicit purpose of demonstrating against Randi and the whole Unity party. I would imagine between those that support the ATR issue, the rubber room issue, ICE, TJC, NYC Public School Parents and so many others a pretty hefty demonstration could be put together. It's time to put up and make Randi and Unity take notice. Maybe just maybe her hand could be forced and much like Obama hopes to use public support to persuade Republicans to go along with him, maybe, just maybe some people in Unity, including Randi, might actually do the right thing for us for a change. I for one am sick and tired of hearing my Union leadership constantly discusses putting children first. Yes our children are important, but they, in my opinion are not Randi's responsibility, they are Bloomberg and Joel Klein’s. WE THE TEACHERS PAYING HER SALARY TO REPRESENT US SHOULD BE HER NUMBER ONE PRIORITY! She has sold us out and not kept our interests in the forefront of her priorities or duties for way too long, if ever. It’s time to stand up for ourselves against our own union, because they sure as hell aren’t going to ever think of us as anything more than their own private bankroll otherwise.

ed notes online said...

I have a sense things may be building in that direction but it will still take some time and organization.