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Mon Dec 10, 2007 at 01:19 PM PST

McDonaldization of Education

by SteveUFT

[I hope this post proves interesting. It was written by Edwize blogger Leo Casey, and previously posted on Edwize.]

When teachers talk of the "McDonaldization of education," the term is commonly employed in a metaphorical way, to describe a process that, if it were taken to its logical conclusion, would transform schools into the instructional equivalent of fast food outlets. Of particular concern is the de-skilling of educators into deliverers of canned programs, the unhealthy standardization of curriculum and pedagogy and the commercialization of public schools.

Now it appears that the term has a literal, as well as a metaphorical, application. The New York Times reports that the Seminole County public school system is sending home report cards in packages covered with McDonalds' advertisements, pictures of Ronald McDonald and photographs of 'happy meals.' The district even provides a 'happy meal' to fifth graders with good grades.

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[I hope this post proves interesting. It was written by Edwize blogger Leo Casey, and previously posted on Edwize.]

On the Disney Company's corporate website, the reader will find a honor roll of teachers from across the United States who have been recognized by the American Teacher Awards, starting with the first class of 1990 and concluding with the last class of 2006. A close examination will reveal that there is no teacher listed as the 1992 honoree in the category of Social Studies. Two of the three Social Studies finalists are listed, but the teacher who was actually named Social Studies Teacher of the Year is missing.*

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Thu Oct 25, 2007 at 12:05 PM PDT

28,000 New Union Members in New York

by SteveUFT

Workers in New York City are celebrating the just-completed union election for 28,000 home child care providers. By an overwhelming margin of 8,382 to 96 (98.87%!) providers voted to have as their exclusive representative the United Federation of Teachers.

This is the largest single union organizing victory in New York City since 1960. It is the largest election victory for a new unit in the history of the American Federation of Teachers. It is the culmination of two years of organizing by the UFT and ACORN. It is tens of thousands of phone calls, thousands of doors knocked, and an untold number of conversations. You don't get moments like this in the labor movement every day. And when you are able to create one this big, it is important to savor it and reflect on what it means.

Providers celebrate the victory at UFT headquarters

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Tue Oct 23, 2007 at 11:40 AM PDT

How to Fix No Child Left Behind

by SteveUFT

[I hope this post proves interesting. It was written by UFT President Randi Weingarten, and previously posted on Edwize.]

The United Federation of Teachers has long supported high academic standards and meaningful accountability measures including testing in our public schools. We have also focused much-needed attention on the achievement gap between poor and often minority children and their more affluent, mostly white neighbors. We consistently shine a light on the importance of high quality teachers in every classroom. So we initially had high hopes when Congress passed President Bush’s No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act with bipartisan support in 2002.

Unfortunately, it has become clear that serious flaws in NCLB are preventing it from helping all children succeed. In fact it guarantees its own failure by requiring all children to be proficient in math and reading by 2014, a laudable but increasingly unrealistic goal. Now that NCLB is up for reauthorization, we have a chance to fix what’s wrong. Here’s what we would change:

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[I hope this post proves interesting. It was written by Peter Goodman, who blogs at Edwize and Ed in the Apple.]

Hamilton, Madison and their buddies were really smart guys. The hot summer they spent in Philadelphia produced our founding document, the Constitution. Those deliberations resulted in education not listed as one of the enumerated powers, delegating it to the states.

Considering the No Child Left Behind debacle . . . they were clearly right.

Diane Ravitch, in a New York Times op ed piece, skewers the underpinnings of the current law, and the rantings of too many eduwonks: that a combination of sanctions and rewards will improve schools, that the threat of school closings or the softening or elimination of tenure coupled with pay for performance (aka merit pay) will, miraculously, create better teachers and effective schools.

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Wed Oct 10, 2007 at 01:34 PM PDT

Closing the Vicious Cycle in Education

by SteveUFT

[I hope this post about Jonathan Kozol, inequality and No Child Left Behind proves interesting. It was written by Peter Goodman, who blogs at Edwize and Ed in the Apple.]

Seemingly for decades, Jonathan Kozol has been the conscience of public education. For underpaid, frustrated, marginalized teachers, Kozol was that voice in the wilderness - his plaints of dilapidated, under-financed schools resonate with those who ply their trade in the trenches.

His books are standard fare in education courses, teachers flock to his frequent appearances . . . and I fear he is becoming increasingly irrelevant.

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The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president:

Acting on behalf of its more than 1.4 million members, the AFT executive council on Wednesday endorsed Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination for president, citing her proven ability to advance our nation's key priorities, and her bold plans for a stronger America.

"Our members have told us that they want a leader they can trust to strengthen public education, increase access to health care, promote commonsense economic priorities and secure America's place in the world," said AFT president Edward J. McElroy. "Hillary Clinton is that leader."

Chris Bowers at Open Left calls it, "the biggest endorsement of the campaign for me so far."

I know AFT people, both the teachers and the organizers. They are friends, family and colleagues. They are smart, extremely hard working, and also very progressive. I trust the decisions they make. If they decide to endorse Hillary Clinton, that means a lot to me . . . The AFT endorsement of Hillary Clinton improves my image of Hillary Clinton.

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I want to urge everyone to read Unionbusting Confidential, the cover story from the latest issue of In These Times. For the low, low price of $1,595, article author Art Levine signed up for a seminar on staying union-free led by attorneys from Jackson Lewis. As labor laws weaken, spending on union busting has soared into the billions, and Jackson Lewis is one of the go-to law firms. Here's a sample of what their seminar is about:

What if we felt like saying a lot of anti-union stuff to our workers? Lotito introduced a segment called "You Can Say It." Could we tell our workers, for instance, that a union had held strike at a nearby facility only to find that all the strikers had been replaced—and that the same could happen to the employees here? Sure, said Lotito. "It's lawful." He added, "What happens if this statement is a lie? They didn't have another strike, there were no replacements? It's still lawful: The labor board doesn't really care if people are lying."

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Thu Sep 20, 2007 at 10:36 AM PDT

NCLB - It's Getting Serious

by SteveUFT

[I hope this post about the changes to No Child Left Behind proposed by Congress proves interesting. It was originally posted on Edwize and written by Edwize blogger Maisie.]

Lest you think that the debate over reauthorizing No Child Left Behind is hard-to-follow/wonkish/a tempest-in-a-teapot or anything like that, note that Jonathan Kozol today entered his 76th day of a partial hunger strike over NCLB.

In protest over that law, Kozol, the widely-published, passionate advocate of educational equality, has taken himself into the realm of serious danger.

He's sick of NCLB. Mandating math and reading tests and punishing schools and students who do not meet their targets is "turning thousands of inner-city schools into Dickensian test-preparation factories," Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page quoted Kozol as saying. It has "dumbed down" school for poor, urban kids and created "a parallel curriculum that would be rejected out-of-hand" in the suburbs.

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[I hope this post about the changes to No Child Left Behind proposed by Congress proves interesting. It was originally posted on Edwize and written by Edwize blogger Jackie Bennett in response to a New York Times editorial.]

Every corner of the educational community has protested the consequences of No Child Left Behind, including that the law has narrowed the curriculum and unfairly penalized schools already making progress.

In spite of that, an editorial in the NY Times defends the status quo. Referring to proposed NCLB revisions, the Times complains that the changes will "allow schools to mask failure in teaching crucial subjects like reading and math by giving them credit for student performance in other subjects."

Yet, just one paragraph earlier the Times has this to say: "Faced with poorly educated workers at home — especially in science — American companies are increasingly looking abroad."

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[I hope this post by UFT President Randi Weingarten on Hurricane Katrina and its continuing impact on New Orleans schools proves interesting. It's crossposted from Edwize and Eduwonk, where it originally appeared.]

Today we mark the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. The images of widespread destruction and needless suffering and death that flashed across our television screens two years ago remain fresh in our collective memory, if only because they were so stark and terrible. For a moment, the reality of the "other America," living in poverty and shut out of the American dream, became real for all Americans. We were shamed by the knowledge that thousands of people, many of them poor or of color, were left for days and days without essential food, water, shelter, medicine and health care as a result of the catastrophic failure of our government. In the wealthiest and most powerful nation of the world, such a failure was a monumental travesty.

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Mark your calendars: tonight at 7pm is the next step toward bringing New York City's home child care providers into the same union as New York City's public school teachers.

For many New York City families, their child's first teacher is one of the 28,000 home child care providers caring for kids today. Home child care providers take care of kids from low-income families in pre-school and after-school settings, helping them with reading and learning colors and numbers.

But home child care providers aren't protected by a union. Their average salary is $19,000 a year in New York City with no pension, no health insurance and no paid sick days. That makes home child care providers among the lowest-paid workers in the region. Something needs to be done to make sure they get the respect and wages they deserve.

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