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Please begin with an informative title:

Rotten apple
Last spring, student teachers at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst refused to participate in a pilot teacher licensing program that would replace real-life classroom observation with a take-home test and edited videos of the prospective teacher in the classroom. The new teacher licensing would be done for profit by testing company Pearson, and 67 of the 68 student teachers training for middle school and high school teaching at UMass said no. Within weeks, the director of the secondary-teacher education program who had trained them and had spoken out against the new licensing system got a letter saying her contract wouldn't be renewed when it expired a year later.

The New York Times' Michael Winerip, who last spring wrote about the 67 students' refusal to film themselves for licensing by Pearson, writes now of Barbara Madeloni that:

Ms. Madeloni is 55 and has been overseeing the university’s program to train middle and high school teachers for nine years. During that time, she has repeatedly been rated “outstanding.” (“We applaud Dr. Madeloni for her work,” read her December 2011 evaluation.) [...]

“They’ve been angry at me for a long time, but I believe the article pushed them over the edge,” she said this week. “For several years this has been building inside me, this reliance on standardized tests to evaluate teachers.

“It’s so degrading,” she said. “For a long time I decided not to fight it. I wouldn’t have been able to do this at 40. I don’t think I could have stayed as grounded. You have to be able to manage people saying awful, awful things.”

The university administration insists the decision not to renew Madeloni's contract was completely unrelated to her anti-standardization activism and the publicity that resulted. (It's always a coincidence!) Ironically, the way the administration was able to get rid of her was to convert her position into a tenure-track one—so the next person hired to fill this role will be able to speak up from a less vulnerable position. But how much do you want to bet that they do their best to hire someone who'll be complacent?

(Continue reading below the fold.)


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A fair day's wage

  • Station Casinos lost its appeal of 87 unfair labor practices violations. For background on just how you accumulate 87 ULPs, see here.
  • More on Thursday's Walmart strike.
  • When it's NFL referees locked out, there are bad calls making headlines and fans screaming every weekend. When it's NHL players locked out, there's just ... no hockey. You notice if you're a hockey fan, but otherwise not so much. But hockey fans are noticing. After already losing their preseason, the NHL has canceled two weeks of the regular season.

    Remember that this is a straight-up money grab by owners, whose real problem is with each other but who think it's easier to go after the players.

  • Time for a burrito! Chipotle signed an agreement with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers to improve wages and working conditions for workers at Florida tomato farms.
  • A nifty win from the National Union of Healthcare Workers:
    The NLRB’s ruling affirms that employers must craft clear off-duty worksite access policies and apply them fairly and consistently instead of leaving them so vague as to afford managers broad leeway to improvise excuses to squelch workers’ rights to freely associate.

    The National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) prompted this landmark ruling when it contested Keck Medical Center’s discriminatory treatment of four of its employees who were NUHW supporters and who entered the worksite while off duty.

  • A potential strike by 14,000 New England janitors was averted when a tentative deal was struck at the last minute.
  • As one Walmart warehouse strike ends, another snowballs.
  • EMTs, AT&T retail workers, and more decide to join unions.
  • The AFL-CIO has endorsed a boycott of American Crystal Sugar, which has kept workers locked out for more than a year, with the company's CEO likening the union contract to a tumor, despite high profits for the company.

The War on Education

  • Raging Chicken Press is tracking what's happening to education in Pennsylvania at all levels. Making working conditions for adjunct professors worse is one part of that.
  • Chicago teachers voted overwhelmingly to approve their new, hard-fought contract.
    Our contract was approved!
    @CTULocal1 via Twitter for iPhone
  • The Chicago Reader responds to a Tribune editorial dumping on public schools and praising Mayor Rahm Emanuel's favored (non-union) charter schools:
    There are 541 elementary schools in Chicago. Based on the composite ISAT scores for 2011—the last full set available—none of the top ten are charters. None of the top 20, 30, or 40 either.

    In fact, you've got to go to 41 to find a charter. Take a bow, CICS Irving Park!

    Most of the 49 charters on the list are clustered near the great middle, alongside most of their unionized neighborhood schools.

  • So fucking depressing:
    California's public higher education system is, in other words, dying a slow death. The promise of a cheap, quality education is slipping away for the working and middle classes, for immigrants, for the very people whom the University of California's creators held in mind when they began their grand experiment 144 years ago. And don't think the slow rot of public education is unique to California: that state's woes are the nation's.
  • The anti-teachers union, pro-charter movie Won't Back Down had the worst opening weekend since 1982 for a movie showing in more than 2,500 screens. The movie flopped despite being heavily promoted by right-wing organizations including the Heritage Foundation, FreedomWorks, StudentsFirst, the Heartland Institute, and the Chamber of Commerce. Anthony Cody argues that the movie's failure among critics suggests that people are getting wise to the corporate deformers since the release of Waiting for Superman.

State and local legislation

  • California Gov. Jerry Brown did veto some bills that would have helped domestic workers and farm workers, but he also signed a bill promoting retirement security for private sector workers. It always seems to be a split decision where Brown is concerned.
  • Miscellaneous
    • Another depressing case of the United States emphasizing trade with a country—in this case, Bahrain—at the same time as it's threatening and suppressing union activism:
      ...the government has accused activists of tarnishing its reputation. Their names and photos -- circled in red -- were published in Al Watan newspaper, a clear threat with chilling consequences for any Bahraini citizen who values freedom of speech. Even less subtle, the very GFBTU leaders who accepted a humanitarian award have told us that they receive regular and threatening calls and messages.
    • In 18 months, the AFL-CIO has registered 450,000 voters from union households.

Extended (Optional)

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Sat Oct 06, 2012 at 10:55 AM PDT.

Also republished by Teachers Lounge, Progressive Hippie, ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement, and Daily Kos.

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