(Continue reading below the fold.)
A fair day's wage
- Great, here comes another sports lockout. Hockey fans, it's your turn. The NHL is about to lock out its players. Class War Kitteh disapproves.
- These are vulnerable, non-union workers working indirectly for Walmart, a corporation as giant and ruthless as they come—but they're not letting that stop them from striking for better conditions.
The War on Education
- If you read an article headlined "Fab 5 Star's Charter a Beacon of Hope," would you expect the following to be true of that "beacon of hope" charter school?
Problems the Academy wrestled with in its first year were a classic mix of start-up mistakes and a focus on glitz over substance. They ran out of money because they set a 10-student class size limit. There were costly monthly field trips (including one to Olympic basketball camp in Las Vegas). No science labs (students left fetal pig detritus in restroom sinks), no locker rooms, showers or air-conditioning in summer heat. Fights, expulsions and a security guard who had to be fired. A teacher using his own media equipment for instruction took his technological tools and skills with him when he left mid-year. A heavily promoted on-line curriculum couldn't be accessed, due to broken laptops. Test scores started and remained in the basement.
Here's the most telling fact, however: there was 100% turnover in teaching staff--not a single teacher returned--and as the school's second year opens, they're on their third principal.
- A former New York schoolteacher writes that teachers aren't islands unto themselves:
I taught in three different public schools in New York City. Where I was able to be my best depended as much on the class sizes, the conditions, the financing, the materials available to me, the support staff for teachers, the support for students and the climate created by administration, as it did on my own efforts and abilities.
- So much important stuff has been written on the Chicago teachers strike, not just on the immediate issues in Chicago but on the broader picture: Mike Konczal looks at the view from the streets. David Dayen explains more about how this is a national fight. Valerie Strauss explains the real problems with Rahm's reforms. Rick Perlstein calls this the next chapter in the fight against plutocracy.
State and local lawmaking
- Remember the Georgia Senate bill that would have criminalized picketing? Republican Sen. Don Balfour was the driving force behind that, so, while it's unrelated to the picketing bill, it's nice to hear that he's currently under investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for filing false expense reports. He was already fined $5,000 by the Georgia Senate Ethics Committee.
- Republicans think they've really got something with this "are you better off now than you were four years ago" thing. Of course, four years ago the stock market was crashing, credit was pretty much frozen, the auto industry was on the brink of collapse, and basically everything in the economy was getting worse. In fact, four years ago today, Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy. So United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard has an answer on that four years ago question:
Now, in September 2012, global financial markets have stabilized. Credit is available to Main Street. GM and Chrysler are building cars and creating jobs. Unemployment is declining as the private sector has added jobs to the economy every month for the past 30. The value of housing is rising once again, creating wealth for the middle class. Now there’s a financial reform law to prevent another Wall Street bailout. There’s Obamacare to help families retain and secure health insurance. The war in Iraq is over and Osama bin Laden is dead. Is America better off than it was four years ago? Hell, yes it is!The Steelworkers' blog is lining up data points on this, looking directly back four years:
September 2012 can’t be described as boom times. But it’s sure not the dread-filled days of September 2008.
On this day four years ago, Sept. 12, 2008, the U.S. Census Bureau released a dismal retail sales report: department store sales were down 1.5%, online sales were down 2.3%, and sales overall were in a marked decline that would continue until March 2009. [...]
By contrast, over the past three and a half years, sales have steadily recovered, with another .7% increase projected for this month, September 2012.
Related, UNITE HERE remembers its members who died working at Windows on the World.
- The Fraternal Order of Police, which endorsed Republicans in 2000, 2004, and 2008, is not endorsing Mitt Romney.