In one school building, which houses a traditional public school, a special education public school, and a Success Academies school:
... when the classrooms of P.S. 149 and Mickey Mantle give way to Success Academy on the third floor and part of the second, one notices the aesthetic differences immediately. The public school hallways are cheerful but basic, with a ragtag assortment of colors and student art on the walls. A few fluorescent lights flicker; the bathrooms are standard cinderblock.Continue reading below the fold for more of the week's education and labor news.
In Success Academy’s bright hallways, signs are stenciled in the same font and bear inspirational quotes like “Actions speak louder than words.” Classrooms are outfitted in splashy blues, reds and greens, with the same multi-colored, polka-dotted carpets. Success Academy students wear orange and blue uniforms: jumpers for the girls, shirts and ties for the boys.
According to Barbara Darrigo, principal of P.S. 149, there’s an unmistakable discomfort in the building.
“It’s this underlying tension,” she said. “There’s almost an air of elitism. When they’re not making eye contact with you [in the hallways] and they’re not acknowledging your existence, you kinda start thinking, ‘I guess I’m less than.’ I know my kids must feel that.” [...]
“I find it really hard to accept that my kids have to have lunch at 10:40 in the morning,” she said, while Success Academy eats lunch later. “I can’t open up another pre-K class.” Even if Darrigo had enough phys-ed teachers to meet compliance, she said, she wouldn’t have enough time in the gym.
A fair day's wage
- The massive explosion of a West, Texas, fertilizer plant that practically flattened a city was a year ago this week. So what changes have been made to prevent future tragedies? Since it's Texas, would it surprise you to hear that the answer is "none"?
- More than 2,100 University of Connecticut graduate employees win union recognition.
- New York City transportation workers are finally getting close to a contract.
- An explosion at a Tennessee ammunition plant killed one and left three injured, one critically.
- Pier 1 forced a pregnant worker onto unpaid leave rather than make minor accommodations for her health.
- Skills gap?
"Every time you hear someone say 'I can't find the workers I need,' add the phrase 'at the wage I want to pay'," said Heidi Shierholz, an economist for the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington, D.C., economic research organization.
- After a New York City restaurant was accused of skimming tips for its delivery workers from orders taken through GrubHub (now merged with Seamless), the attorney general's office has announced a settlement with GrubHub to prevent that from happening.
- The minimum wage worker strikes back, Sarah Kendzior's report on fast food strikers in St. Louis:
“I don’t know why anyone wouldn’t want a union,” Alisha, the Wendy’s worker and mother of three, says. “You got people who will stand up for you, who will support you. Why would anyone not want that? Instead of being all on your own, you’ve got people who will protect you.”
“We’re just fighting for a union, for people to have our backs,” Krystal, the Taco Bell worker and mother of a six-year-old and a newborn, explains. “Right now when we get fired, we just get fired. We’re fighting for people to go and ask, ‘Why did she get fired, what was she doing that was inappropriate?’ We’re fighting for the right to fight for ourselves.”
- Policy, not parenting, keeps single mothers and their children living in poverty.
- A Colorado teacher's resignation letter:
I began my career just as No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was gaining momentum. The difference between my students then and now is unmistakable. Regardless of grades or test scores, my students from five to eleven years ago still had a sense of pride in whom they were and a self-confidence in whom they would become someday. Sadly, that type of student is rare now. Every year I have seen a decline in student morale; every year I have more and more wounded students sitting in my classroom, more and more students participating in self-harm and bullying. These children are lost and in pain.
It is no coincidence that the students I have now coincide with the NCLB movement twelve years ago–and it’s only getting worse with the new legislation around Race to the Top.
- Speaking of teachers resigning, teacher resignations have increased by 41 percent in one North Carolina county.
A civil rights complaint filed Tuesday against New Orleans charter school managers Collegiate Academies alleges discipline so harsh that it violates federal laws and verges on abuse. A group calling itself the Better Education Support Team, plus more than 30 students and family members, asked the U.S. Education and Justice departments' civil rights divisions to investigate.Check out their suspension rates to see how far-reaching this is.
Their complaint details "out-of-control suspension practices for trivial matters" and "intimidation of students exercising First Amendment rights." It also alleges a host of violations concerning students with disabilities.
- Labor strife at a Jewish day school.