Sunday, July 29, 2012


Jamaica High School staff and Senator Tony Avella complained last year to the State about how our students are being denied resources as we phase out. A report has been released by the State Education Department that confirms what we all know: our students are being denied the resources they were assured they would get from the city.

Here is the key portion of the report on resources:

The following findings are based on information ascertained from various 
stakeholders including parents, teachers, students, administrators as well
as school and district documents:
  •  No honors or advance placement classes are offered to students 
  •  The school no longer offers calculus, chemistry or physics 
  •  Only three electives are offered to students: Law, Accounting and Latin American Literature. Prior  to the implementation of the phase out model, elective courses offered to students were: African American Literature, Film, Geography, Forensics, Sociology, Psychology, Computer  classes (Word, Excel, visual basic, PowerPoint) and Creative Writing
  • Off­track  classes, which were offered to students not meeting Regents requirements, are no longer available
  •  Students are not able to complete specialty programs: Business, Computer  Science, Engineering and Finance Institutes, or  Art Institutes  Students are not offered SAT prep courses
  •  Two teachers, who are not certified in special education, are teaching students with disabilities.
What will the state do about this? We can hope the answer is not the usual nothing.

You can read the entire report for yourself.

For the NY1 story, click here.

PS Thanks to Norm Scott for his coverage of the AFT Convention.

Friday, July 20, 2012


There is a fantastic piece in the UK's Guardian about the labor dispute between the Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union.  This article should be read by every teacher, particularly those who believe we can't change the union.  Here is an excerpt:

The basis of this dispute (in Chicago) is what is innocuously termed "school reform". This is a process of privatisation and union-busting. Since the 1990s, Chicago has been a laboratory for such reforms, which have been rolled out across the country. The programme enjoys the support of the Democratic leadership as well as leading pro-Obama liberals such as Davis Guggenheim, whose film Waiting for Superman was a lengthy attack on teaching unions and a tribute to private schools.

Chicago intends to open 60 new privatised, non-union "charter" schools in the next five years. Public schools are being closed to make way for this change and capital spending has been slashed. The CTU's new leadership has been driving a campaign to tackle chronic underfunding in Chicago schools, and broaden the curriculum. They describe the system as one of "educational apartheid", and demand an elected school board which reflects the needs of the city's population.

But the final provocation was when the "reformers" increased teachers' working hours by 20%, while cutting a promised 4% pay rise in half. They falsely imagined that the CTU would be a pushover, having recently elected a bunch of "rookie" candidates to the leadership.
In fact, the victory of these "rookies", from the Caucus of Rank-and-File Educators (CORE), demonstrated two things. First, it showed the unwillingness of members to be as compliant as the leadership has been in the past. Second, it proved the new leadership's ability as grassroots organisers. They showed the same skill in building support among teachers for strike action in a series of mock ballots and mass public meetings.

We are fully behind the Chicago Teachers Union and their president Karen Lewis.