The Final Straw: Cancel Our Labor Contracts, We Cancel Your Tests



You can’t do that.

All the fear, frustration and mounting rage of public school teachers amounts to that short declarative sentence.

You can’t take away our autonomy in the classroom.

You can’t take away our input into academic decisions.

You can’t take away our job protections and collective bargaining rights.

You can’t do that.

But the state and federal government has repeatedly replied in the affirmative – oh, yes, we can.

For at least two decades, federal and state education policy has been a sometimes slow and incremental chipping away at teachers’ power and authority – or at others a blitzkrieg wiping away decades of long-standing best practices.

The latest and greatest of these has been in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Earlier this week, the state-led School Reform Commission simply refused to continue bargaining with teachers over a new labor agreement. Instead, members unilaterally cancelled Philadelphia teachers contract and dictated their own…

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EdWeek Series Beyond Rhetoric: @TeachForAmerica You are my Obsession

I believe that many passionate and well-meaning individuals have been and are involved with TFA—I count many of them among my close friends. I have made the case to them in private and publicly that it is incumbent upon them to reform their reform away from a temporary classroom teacher model.

Cloaking Inequity

You can’t even escape @TeachForAmerica marketing at the airport. I was traveling back from the University of Michigan football game this past weekend, and the photo above is of the security bin that welcomed me at the Detroit airport courtesy of @Zappos. Mark @Zappos down as another company that I will need to personally boycott. (To understand my boycott, please see all of Cloaking Inequity’s posts on TFA here) It’s true that TFA is less than one percent of all teachers nationwide, but the billionaires and corporations have provide the organization an outsized influence over the affairs of education policy in the United States (See for example TFA’s purchase of education staffers on Capitol Hill in the post Do you think TFA is a special interest?: “Get up, Stand Up”)

I am currently writing for the EdWeek column K-12 Schools Beyond the Rhetoric with Jack Schneider. We are…

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Kaplan for Kids

Jonathan Kozol, my first education hero, was coming to Regis Jesuit University in Denver for a three day event, and I had been asked to be a participant on a panel with him. For a public education wonk like me, it really doesn’t get much better than that.  Jonathan Kozol and me!

Capturing the essence of Jonathan Kozol, his beliefs and his continuing fight for educational equity has been more difficult than I would have imagined. The reason is this: the United States is seeing growing educational inequities for children in poverty. This gap is larger than when Mr. Kozol first started exposing it in the mid-1960’s, and today’s policy makers are unwilling to make the changes necessary to reduce it, or as “reformers” like to say, “Eliminate the achievement gap.”

Mr. Kozol has been writing and documenting inequities in public education for decades, but what really struck me…

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How to Spot a Fake Grassroots Education Reform Group

…real grassroots work is painstaking and slow, requiring a lot of time to meet, debate and educate a population.

Daniel Katz, Ph.D.

One problem with today’s education reform environment is that a number of groups exist that call themselves “grassroots” organizations, but which have expanded rapidly because of large infusions of cash from corporations and foundations invested in pushing charter schools, mass high stakes testing, data mining students and the Common Core standards.  These groups do not exist to represent the organically derived priorities and shared interests of students, teachers and parents; they exist to put a more credible face on the priorities and shared interests of a very narrow but astonishingly influential set of repeating characters.  Take Educators 4 Excellence as an example.  On their website, they tout that they began as “two teachers” and wanted to give teachers a voice in a system that imposed changes from the top down, and now they are growing into 10 of 1000s of teachers in multiple states. What don’t they mention?  That they…

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