Bird’s Eye: Public school teachers seem to have become the next group to be targeted in the neo-con crosshairs. They’re doubly evil: not only do they have unions who have demonstrably gotten them valuable benefits over the years, but they teach students to think critically (which has, as the Texas GOP noted, “the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.”). Fortunately, teachers are eloquent, and they’re fighting back. Below: dispatches from the front lines.
* Letter to a Member of the Liberal Party of Ontario Amy Gottlieb
Was it that you knew that if you let collective bargaining proceed and no agreement was reached, that an arbitrator was likely to recommend a settlement that your government disagreed with? Was it to override collective bargaining rights in Ontario and in the process weakening the union movement thus making it easier for the Liberal government to implement austerity wage and benefit cuts? Was it to try to sway public support in your direction with a message that despite the nine year friendship between teachers and the Liberal government, teachers had to take a hit to show that your government is serious? We think it is all of the above.
But really is it about the money? As a number of teachers pointed out, if the government wanted to save money, revoking our banked sick days was the wrong way to do it. On average we take 6.5 days a year. Banking sick days is an incentive to use them prudently and it is something that we earned in collective bargaining, in exchange for less pay and benefits. With the end of banking sick days, the government will be paying a lot more (likely another 3.5 days per teacher) for supply teachers. How is this cutting the deficit? Surely this proves that this is a political decision as much, if not more than a financial one.
* I Ruined Everything The Luminous Page
I’ve taught art for seventeen years. I’ve complained about certain things at work, but I’ve never regretted my profession. We all knew what we were signing up for when we chose our jobs; I knew I wouldn’t get rich, but I knew I’d have summers off, and a steady pay check. So did you, actually. The summer thing is an antiquated agrarian anachronism, (read, not new), so please don’t act outraged at this fresh new insult. If you became a banker or waitress or IT guy or whatever job you have that doesn’t seem to mind your constant vigilance of pro union tweets, you knew it had two weeks vacation a year. You knew the salary, and the risks of advancement. When i started teaching in 1993 my contract said $20,000. I thought that sounded AMAZING. I thought a bulldozer with a haystack of twenty thousand dollar bills was going to pull up and dump them all over me. When i started getting paid I had to take a weekend job at Carmen’s Pizza taking phone orders for delivery so I could pay my bills. But I had no complaint.
To earn this $20k I taught art on a cart to 850 kids at 3 different schools every week. Almost every kid was on free lunch. My budget was $1.50 per child per year. This is *actually* possible. My classes applauded when I entered the room every single time! I took up Spanish lessons again at my own expense, so that I could say “Quieres lapel amarillo, o azul? Doblalo, y desdoblalo. Ok, cortalo. Bueno!” So that the new kid off the boat (so to speak) wasn’t terrified that they had to talk to the gringa teacher. We made puppets, paper mache, tissue snowflakes, and lots of chalk and tempera paintings. I loved going to work every day. I loved festooning each little school with the happy art. I enjoyed telling wide-eyed kids I actually lived in the dark, mouse-poopy art closet down the hall. I worked in the lowest paying district in a 300 mile radius, but I didn’t care. I felt needed, and I knew I was making some little soul’s morning, every time I went to work.
* Only Teachers And Their Unions Can Save Public Education Rick Salutin Rabble
Who will save our schools, and public education?
Not Premier Dalton McGuinty, who’s bought into the common obsession that the money “just isn’t there.” So he freezes public sector wages, pulling even more money out of the economy, assuring there’ll be even less in taxes to spend on programs, leading to the same death spiral that Europe is following. I know high-school kids who understand this better than Dalton, but maybe it’s because they can still take economics and business courses — although his stress on standardized tests in the “basics” is undermining all that.
Not titans of business like Bill Gates or the Weston foundation, who have anointed themselves to solve a (still unproven) crisis. They intend to apply business savvy and money in order to discover the most “effective” teaching methods, then sell and proselytize those. But effective teaching is simply teaching that’s effective, which can be almost anything that works for a particular teacher.
Think of your own best teachers. Did they teach the same way? Then why narrow down the focus? It’s because if there is one right way, and you can patent or monopolize it, you’ll profit vastly, as many businesses already do. I’m not making this up. A recent Reuters story, “Private firms eyeing profits from U.S. public schools,” called it “the next big thing . . . You start to see entire ecosystems of investment opportunity lining up. . . a golden moment has arrived.” Beware of billionaires bearing educational breakthroughs. Nor can you count on profs and experts, who are at the trough applying for grants from the same foundations and, even when they know better, often tread carefully.
* Chicago Teachers Draw a Line Sherry Wolf
Stanley Heller of The Struggle Video News interviews Sherry at the Sept. 10, 2012, NYC rally in solidarity with striking Chicago teachers of the Chicago Teachers Union.