Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Back from Vacation

My family and I spent a couple of weeks in Jamaica WI so now I'm catching up on what is happening back home.

My take on the Verizon strike is that it still has the potential to be a very significant accomplishment. While management was out for substantial givebacks in areas such as health benefits, they have not been successful. The company was following the Scott Walker Wisconsin tactic of union busting and it did not work. Yes, the workers returned to work without a contract but the old contract will carry on indefinitely until a new agreement is reached. This private sector union through its militancy won the status quo doctrine that public employees in New York have under the Triborough Amendment to the Taylor law. Please sign the solidarity statement as this story is far from over.

Meanwhile back at the schools, the ATR situation is worse than ever as June's agreement is implemented. You can read all about it in this Times article. I personally know so many good people who are stuck in ATR limbo, which is third class citizenship for teachers. I hope the ATRS continue to highlight their plight to the UFT leadership and demand that something is done to stop the week-to-week movement of these people who have done nothing wrong but because their schools or programs have closed or shrunk or budgets were cut, they are looking for a job. DOE slapped the UFT and the ATRs by allowing principals to hire new teachers and leave ATRs in the ATR pool. As for layoffs of non UFT school personnel, they are totally unnecessary but occurring currently.

Teacher and activist Michael Fiorillo has an excellent suggestion on the Common Core Standards: "I propose that heretofore everyone refer to these as the Microsoft-Pearson standards, as it is the companies (in the guise of their 'non-profit' foundations) that are creating them." I like the idea. The billionaire boys club, as Diane Ravitch refers to them, really has no business making public education policy.

My former colleague Brett Rosenthal has written a piece for the Washington Post Valerie Strauss blog comparing his current suburban school with his previous school: Jamaica High School. It is interesting reading. I told one of my friends yesterday that we have spilled oceans of ink describing the inequities at Jamaica High School but the mayor and chancellors refuse to listen. We truly need to put the public back in public education.

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