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Michelle Rhee, Chancellor, District of Columbia Public Schools, speaks during
When she's trying to preserve her credibility as anything but a mouthpiece of Republican governors like John Kasich and billionaires like the Walmart heirs and Rupert Murdoch, Michelle Rhee claims she supports collective bargaining rights. She claimed it while her StudentsFirst organization collaborated on Michigan bills limiting collective bargaining for teachers and lowering the standard for demoting teachers from requiring "reasonable and just cause" to allowing anything that's not "arbitrary and capricious." She claimed it while StudentsFirst spent $70,000 defending a state representative who championed those bills from recall, even though he was also a horrendous gay-baiter. Now, StudentsFirst's PAC has contributed $500,000 to oppose the Michigan ballot measure that would put collective bargaining rights in the state's constitution.

That's an awfully big financial investment in opposing something you claim to support. It's a financial investment Rhee and StudentsFirst wouldn't be in a position to make without the support of people like the Waltons and Murdoch. And, by the way, it's the sort of position StudentsFirst uses—which recently announced it would be taking money not just from organizations that, like StudentsFirst, claim to be nonpartisan or bipartisan or whatever BS it is this week, but from corporations and avowedly right-wing groups as well—to campaign for.

Eclectablog has written extensively about the importance of Michigan's Proposal 2 and the dirty campaign against it.

(Continue reading below the fold.)

A fair day's wage

  • Illinois voters are putting the blame for the state's pension problems where it belongs, on politicians, not public workers.
  • The Hyatt Andaz Hotel in West Hollywood, California, is using iPod Touches to make housekeeping more "efficient" through surveillance. Workers are told by their iPods which rooms to clean in what order, and the time they spend in each room is tracked. Sarah Jaffe reports that it comes with an extra side of belittlement:
    The program is known as “Rex” because it features a running, tail-wagging dog animation. “Whoever thought of this system thought it was cute,” Cathy Youngblood, a housekeeper at the Hyatt Andaz, tells Working In These Times. “If you're a housekeeper you're not thought of as highly intelligent. This is American society. You're in a low position anyway. Now the dog has become our symbol at my Hyatt Andaz. We do run around like dogs, but still, we're not dogs.”
  • New York Times staffers are escalating their contract fight, greeting the company's new CEO en masse, considering a byline strike (in which they would write their pieces and take their photos, but withhold their bylines), and holding informational picketing. In an open letter to Times management, they lay out some of the issues that fuel their fight, contrasting how the paper's union workers are being treated in comparison to non-union employees:
    The newsroom’s excluded employees received raises of 3 percent in 2011 and again in 2012, but management is demanding that the Guild accept raises totaling just 3.5 percent over five years – just a shade over what excluded employees received last year alone.
  • Nurses in El Paso, Texas, voted to join the National Nurses United.
  • With the NHL lockout continuing, fans and players are unlikely to get a full season. League management continues to try to pin game cancellations on the locked-out players for having the audacity not to cave immediately to the owners' money grab.
  • Take a sick day, get fired. It shouldn't be this way, and in New York City, it doesn't have to be. But Council Speaker Christine Quinn continues to stand in the way of paid sick leave.

State and local legislation

  • Consultants are making huge profits telling cities and towns what jobs and services to cut. Plus conflicts of interest!
    Philadelphia's city government, for example, paid financial consultants at Lazard $200,000 for a study that recommended that the city privatize its public gas utility. Lazard then won a potentially far more lucrative contract to manage the sale. And Lazard proposed, among other things, selling Philadelphia Gas Works to an infrastructure fund; Lazard has a strategic relationship with such a fund, the Lazard Global Listed Infrastructure Portfolio.
  • Rejecting California's Proposition 32 is a patient safety issue.
  • A Pennsylvania bill would let companies keep workers' income taxes. Pennsylvania's not the leading edge of this, either. Many states already have similar laws.
  • Pennsylvania towns are disbanding police departments to break their union.


  • A Florida charter school had to close because it was failing, but the principal still got a $500,000 payout.
  • Reconnecting McDowell, the effort by the American Federation of Teachers and others to work through the schools to revitalize a county in which more than 70 percent of kids come from homes where no one has a job, continues. Recently, the West Virginia Association of Student Councils donated 120 backpacks filled with school supplies, clothing, and more for McDowell students, and announced it will run two one-week summer camps for McDowell students, who have few recreation options due to the poverty and remoteness of their county.
  • Is Idaho's Tom Luna the worst state education superintendent in the country? Quite possibly, and his policies are on the Idaho ballot on Nov. 6.
  • Microsoft gives $50,000 to push charter schools in Washington state. That's on top of the millions Bill Gates has already given personally.


  • This week brought Daily Kos diaries by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, Steelworkers President Leo W Gerard, SEIU President Mary Kay Henry, SEIU Secretary-Treasurer Eliseo Medina, AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler, and AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker. Most of those came as part of the amazing GOTV blogathon organized by the Daily Kos community, but Leo Gerard is a regular diarist.
  • Okay, you probably know who you're voting for in the presidential election. But the SMART union (Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation) has put together a game that goes straight to the issues and makes the choice pretty stark. Worth sharing if you have any undecided friends.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Sat Oct 27, 2012 at 10:55 AM PDT.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions, Michigan, My Michigan, and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Michelle Rhee's mask fell off long ago... (15+ / 0-)

    ...sorry, Michelle, it's too late to re-invent yourself.

    We've already seen who you really are.

    And we don't like it.

    draw a window on the wall to remind you of the silkrain that makes things grow - Yoko Ono

    by quinn on Sat Oct 27, 2012 at 11:10:12 AM PDT

  •  I hate RHEE (12+ / 0-)

    She is evil.  PURE EVIL.

    I wish people talked about when she was attempting to be a teacher and couldn’t control her class so she put tape on her students’ lips and when they took it off they bled.

    There are other stories.

    She is a cheater and a liar and a fraud.

  •  We need to abolish corporations, too. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JBraden, Laconic Lib

    As long as unions are being destroyed, the only fair thing to do is get rid of the money unions called corporations.

    The GOP is the party of mammon. They mock what Jesus taught.

    by freelunch on Sat Oct 27, 2012 at 11:26:01 AM PDT

  •  I find Michelle Rhee, and people like her... (6+ / 0-)

    ...people that use children's education as a front for amassing their own pile of cash, to be despicable human beings.

    I have no clue why anyone affords her the least little bit of credibility, she is a snake-oil huckster.

    The bear and the rabbit will never agree on how dangerous a dog is.

    by fromer on Sat Oct 27, 2012 at 11:26:57 AM PDT

  •  Irony (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    politicalceci, cooper888, Laconic Lib

    She is married to Kevin Johnson, Mayor of Sacramento, former NBA star, and Democrat.

  •  which story in the diary is the worst! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Laconic Lib, rosarugosa

    Can't decide which story got my blood pressure up the highest!  As a former/retired teacher, any story about education misdeeds upsets me.  Having served as building rep at our local campus and on the board on the district level, it is so critical all workers in the educational process have a voice.

    The other stories down the page also are horrifying to see what is going on all around the country to hurt people and the union voice.

    We must keep the fight moving forward to hold our place in this country.

  •  She's the Betsy McCaughey of education. nt (0+ / 0-)
  •  What a stinkin liar and hypocrite! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JBraden, Laconic Lib, cybersaur, SoOH Mom

    She never gave a damn abt the kids, it was all about spreading the republican concept of CHARTER SCHOOLs, so the rich kids wouldn't have to go to school with the coloreds. I am so disappointed, but now understand.
    Amazing how easy $$ convinces, deceives and covers the lies.

    An EGG is not a person, A corporation is not a person!

    by CarmanK on Sat Oct 27, 2012 at 11:58:31 AM PDT

  •  Definitely voting Yes on 2 (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Laconic Lib, rosarugosa

    As soon as the the negative ads started calling it a "special interest" prop, I knew where my vote was going.

  •  Money to be Made (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rosarugosa, SoOH Mom

    Want pay and fame beyond what you deserve? Be a minority working for the right wing.

  •  Hard Time Figuring (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Rhee out...I can understand and appreciate being non-partisan in the goal of putting students first, but this doesn't seem to be what Ms. Rhee is really doing.  While I applauded some her reforms as Chancellor in DC, some of her efforts were incredibly heavy handed.  I also would like to know how in the HELL she raised so much money so qucikly (I guess having the Waltons behind you will cure any financial woes...).

    While I don't think (or know) if I agree with the teacher's union on everything, I do know that teacher's are not the enemy.  Teaching is a very hard job!  (I briefly serve on the Board for a independent Charter School in NY and I was SHOCKED at the amount of work that teachers are required to do).  I am glad to see that finally people are talking about one of the major impediments to educational achievement-POVERTY (although, I have yet to hear any solutions on the topic)!  It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure this out...I also don't believe that charter schools are the almighty panacea...Initially, I was a huge advocate of school choice for those less fortunate to afford the choice of private schools.  However, I became quickly dismayed with charter schools---the self dealing involving the administrators of charters, the politics/cronyism behind who is granted a charter to establish a school, the lack of protection for the teachers, the unaccounted use of public funds...There are all kinds of issues that the charter school movement isn't addressing, the least of which is the fact that charters as a whole are not necessarily outperforming their public school counter parts.  

    It would be nice to see our elected "leaders" act as, well responsible, accountable adults...I know, this is a stretch (chalk it up to my high minded liberalism, lol).  But, there are entire generations of students who have been and continue to be underserved and/or mis-served by our pathetic education system.  Beating up on the teacher's union and destroying labor protections for teachers isn't going to rectify that situation.

    Why is it so difficult to establish a support system and career ladder for teachers (outside of administrative positions, which can be a huge system waste)?  why is it so hard to construct a porductive day for teachers and students?  If politicans truly believe in education, let's force them to put their money where their mouth is---teachers need to be paid more.  PERIOD.  Teachers also need to be held accountable for performing their jobs (like anyone else)-but let's not pretend that standardized test scores are the perfect or only mechanism to measure performance (they are not...and, I think the education community is pretty much in agreement on the serious dangers of teaching to tests).  Call me crazy, but some of these issues seem like low hanging fruit, at least to me.

    •  there is no need for career ladders (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rosarugosa, JBraden

      Most teachers want to be teachers.  They don’t want to go up a ladder, they want to teach.  Teach and be left alone to do the job they know how to do.

      Almost every teacher who has mentioned (to me) moving up some ladder was someone I didn’t think would last in the classroom.  

      Teachers just want to teach.

      •  My Point In Referencing (0+ / 0-)

        a career ladder would be to create a suuport system of experienced teachers who could assist younger, less experienced teachers. I say this b/c one of the complaints that I have heard is that younger teachers often lack a strong support system from their colleagues in the profession.  

        As I stated, I am an advocate of teachers.  I believe that their job is incredibly difficult, it is incredibly important and they are not paid nearly what they are worth.

        If a corps or pool of more experienced teachers were created to provide suppor,t guidance, etc, it wouldn't be mandatory to join that pool-it would be an option for someone who was looking for more opportunity.  And, FYI...I know plenty of teachers too...I have seen them leave teaching and move into administration for a variety of reasons.  Therefore, it is not entirely accurate to say all teachers just want to teach.

    •  The "Students First" title of her group implies (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JBraden, SoOH Mom

      that teachers don't normally put students first, she is implying that public school districts put administrators and teachers needs before the needs of the students.

      Her style of reform pushes scoring well on standardized tests as the measure of success for kids and teachers. But, many businesses are saying that they need students who are skilled in areas like welding. School districts need to teach the basics well, but, they shouldn't put all their time and energy into tested subject areas to the detriment of other areas that aren't tested.

      Our kids do need to know about technology, art, music, PE, "shop", foreign languages, sciences, as well as math and reading.

      Her solutions seem to be too little and I don't like her idea of "churn" in schools. I think that the teachers who do extra work like school plays and music programs are usually people who have been at a school for awhile and have a system down so they have time to do extra work.

      I also disagree with her idea that class size doesn't matter. It does matter, even my kids know that.

      •  I don't (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        disagree with the things that you stated.  However, I also oppose not closing school buildings that are not operating at optimal capacity (Rhee got into a lot of hot water over this issue...I think that she did a terrible job of handling the issue, but I don't think schools with declining enrollment should be left open just for the sake of it).

        Additionally, I do think that under performing teachers should be phased out.  How one measures performance may be a justifiable issue for debate, but whatever the measurement is, if someone is not meeting it, they should not be able to keep their job.

        I think that most, if not all of the issues in education are complicated and nuanced.  I think that seldom are bright line rules appropropriate.  The problem I have is that from my vantage point, the 2 sides are talking over one another instead of listening to what the side has to say, and that was really my point.

        Also, by stating that I don't get Rhee, I was drawing attention (implicitly) to some of the problems that I have with her ideaas.  

        •  I agree with you on the 2 issues you mention and (0+ / 0-)

          I knew you were saying that you didn't agree with her ideas completely.

          My gripe with Rhee is that she supported Gov. Walker's plan to cut education funding by one billion dollars in our state and at the same time gave vouchers to students in Milwaukee and Racine to attend private/parochial/charter schools. He also lifted the income cap, and that is where I disagree. I don't believe taxpayers from around our state should be paying for well off people to attend private schools, unless there was some kind of budget surplus.

          Also, while some teacher unions might have problems, all of them don't and this idea that the teacher unions are to blame for everything is wrong is incorrect in my experience. Some teacher unions provide a lot of professional training to teachers and they are the ones who look out for the kids on things like class size. Rhee seems to think teacher's unions are the cause of all societal problems for kids and I just don't buy it.

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