Random thoughts. Nine dead in Mexican teacher protests. What if it were Paris?

RANDOM

Since you read this blog you know about the assault on Mexican teachers and their union by the corrupt narco-connected government of  Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.

Last week government bullets left as many as nine dead in the state of Oaxaca.

Aside from Facebook and Twitter there has been little reporting of the events in Mexico.

Until massive protests yesterday in Mexico City the American media has been silent. That made the NY Times.

Finally.

I couldn’t help but wonder how the media would react if it were nine dead teachers in Paris, Brussels or Chicago.

The issue is familiar. Mexican teachers oppose the government’s reforms that aim at privatization of the Mexican education system.

The reason it sounds familiar is because it is. We see it here.

Maybe that is why the American media doesn’t want to talk about protesting teachers killed by the government for resisting the reforms.

Oh. And it wasn’t Muslims.

Local teachers are holding Democrats’ feet to the fire on pension theft.

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Teachers confronted Representative Michelle Mussman just prior to her vote for pension theft. Photo: Fred Klonsky

On the eve of the vote on pension theft, I made the rounds to the district offices of many north suburban state representatives and state senators.

56th District Democrat Michelle Mussman was one of them.

I joined a crowd of about 100 teachers and other state employees, most of whom had voted for her.

Mussman said she would vote for pension theft.

We promised we would vote for someone else.

When the local IPACE, the political action committee of the IEA, met to recommend a candidate they refused to recommend Mussman and chose Republican Jim Moynihan instead.

In an interesting development, in order to receive the local IPACE endorsement, Republican Moynihan had to break with the head of the ticket, Bruce Rauner, on the pension issue.

Moynihan said his greater concern for protecting public employees’ pensions is one of the differences between himself and fellow Republican Bruce Rauner, who’s running for governor.

Moynihan also believes that a 401K retirement plan should be on the table for negotiations. That is a non-starter.

Still, teacher anger at Mussman’s betrayal is so strong that any alternative was seen preferable to her.

Mussman told the local Daily Herald that the problem is that teachers don’t get it.

“Since I’m pro-education, I have to talk to people angered by my vote, but who may not fully understand what was and what was not in the bill,” Mussman said.

Yep, Michelle. That’s the problem: Teachers don’t understand what was in the bill.

Garfield High teachers get support from the AFT. From the NEA? Crickets.

AFT President Randi Weingarten:

Dear Garfield High School Teachers:

Thank you. Thank you for taking a courageous stand against the fixation on high-stakes testing and its harmful impact on our ability to give our students the high-quality public education they deserve.

Your actions have propelled the national conversation on the impact of high-stakes testing. Every educator understands that appropriate assessments are an integral part of a high-quality education system. But an accountability system obsessed with measuring, which punishes teachers and schools, comes at a huge cost to children. This fixation on testing has narrowed our curriculums and deprived our students of art, music, gym and other subjects that enrich their minds and make learning fun. Teachers have been forced to spend too much time on test preparation and data collection, at the expense of more engaging instruction. Ironically, this fixation on high-stakes testing actually does the opposite of what its proponents tell us it will do.

Learning is more than a test score, and teaching and learning—not testing—should drive classroom instruction. We need to be focused on growing and nurturing the minds of our students—to ensure that they can think creatively and analytically. It’s no longer enough to teach kids to memorize a bunch of numbers and terms; they must think critically and be able to absorb and interpret knowledge. We must ensure that our children are able to not only dream their dreams but also achieve them. At the same time, we must prepare students for civic engagement and to value that we all have a collective responsibility to one another.

The AFT and tens of thousands of educators, parents and students stand with you in this effort. The AFT passed a resolution at our national convention last summer focused on rebalancing our national education priorities and ensuring that teaching and learning drive our education policies. And we are focused on uniting communities across the country around this issue.

Thank you for leading this conversation.

Randi Weingarten
AFT President

Seattle Education Association is a National Education Association affiliate. From NEA President Dennis Van Roekel:

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From the IEA?

“Stop attacking teachers,” Del Valle slams Rahm.

Sun-Times:

Mayoral candidate Miguel Del Valle slammed candidate Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday over Emanuel’s support for a bill that would curtail Chicago teachers’ right to strike.

“Let’s stop attacking teachers,” Del Valle said after a tour of Telpochcalli Elementary School on the Southwest Side. “Trying to take away teachers’ right to strike is a direct hit on the teachers. Let’s not try to punish the Chicago Teachers Union by saying ‘We are going to take away your right to strike’ when they haven’t had a strike in 23 years. I think it’s a slap in the face of teachers. I want to stop the teacher-bashing.”

Backers of the “Performance Counts” legislation, including Emanuel and his replacement as chief of staff Bill Daley, hoped to pass their bill before new legislators take their seats Wednesday. But the bill, which would make it easier to fire bad teachers, appears stalled in the Senate.

Most of the attention is focused on passing an income tax hike, which Del Valle supports, Gery Chico and Carol Moseley Braun opposes, and which Emanuel has declined to take a stand on. Part of the tax increase package is expected to be dedicated to education.

“Rahm Emanuel ought to be doing what I’m doing: urging the Illinois General Assembly to take action on the income tax increase so that we can get property tax relief, and the help for education that we desperately need,” Del Valle said.

Del Valle said he is frustrated that the other candidates and even Mayor Daley are opposing the tax hike.

“The mayor says, ‘No,’ I don’t understand that. He understands that we need that money,” Del Valle said. “Chico and Carol are against it — it is irresponsible [to oppose it] It is pandering at it’s worst. How can we deal with the $16 billion deficit? We need those dollars.”

Del Valle said teachers would support reasonable reforms that won’t gut their right to strike.

“Teachers are the first to want a good evaluation system that gives them ongoing feedback about their performance,” Del Valle said. “Teachers also want an evaluation system that allows incompetent teachers to be weeded out of the system.”

The Chicago teachers union has not decided whether to endorse Del Valle or Braun for mayor.

What teacher would vote for this fool?

Sun-Times:

Mayoral front-runner Rahm Emanuel supports curtailing teachers’ right to strike. And if they won’t agree to work longer hours for extra pay, he’ll ask state legislators to mandate it, he said. 

“As we have [rules against strikes] for police and firefighters, I would have it for teachers because they provide an essential service,” Emanuel said.

The “Performance Counts” bill the state legislature is considering would severely limit the right of teachers to strike. The Chicago Teachers Union says it would essentially eliminate the right to strike.

There has been no teachers strike in Chicago since 1987.

Emanuel says he supports the package of reforms, which he says will reward high-performing teachers and give principals greater sway to weed out low-performing teachers.

The latest round in the DC schools revolt. Insurgents win teacher union election.

The first to go was Mayor Adrian Fenty. He lost in spite of last minute support from Arne Duncan.

Then Michelle “the sweeper” Rhee jumped ship once her patron was gone and the new mayor had no intention of asking her to stay.

Now the third stage. George Parker, who headed the DC teachers union is gone, replaced by Nathan Saunders and his slate to head the WTU.

Parker negotiated a terrible contract where teachers lost tenure and seniority rights in exchange for privately funded raises.

Following the insurgent win here in Chicago, the Saunders victory in DC is the latest good  news.

Arne is selling, but we ain’t buying.

We had our annual membership meeting of the Park Ridge Education Association after school yesterday. We gathered at a new local restaurant in “uptown” Park Ridge.

Park Ridge is a close-in Chicago suburb. But it definitely has that small town feel. So it was not surprising for the bar tender to say, “Are you Mr. Klonsky?” I paused for a moment. I’m at the age where that could mean she was a former student or a present parent. Everyone around me laughed, knowing why I paused.

She was a parent.

There were just two orders of business on the agenda.

We honored our retiring members. Each with over three decades of teaching, it was a pleasure to honor experienced teachers when so many opportunists are bashing them, claiming they deserve no special recognition or rights.

Our other order of business was to reaffirm our decision not to sign a Memorandum of Understanding for the state’s application for Race to the Top.

There’s a lot of pressure from the state’s union leadership to sign on by the end of May. But our members say no way. Not for round one or round two or round four hundred. It ain’t going to happen.

USDE chief Arne Duncan said recently that there’s been very little opposition to his agenda.

Yes there is.

Tea-baggers and teachers.

Yesterday’s tea party events were a bust. In New York, three set-aside areas put up for the tax day event weren’t needed as there were barely enough loonies to fill up one. Here in Chicago, the turn-out was in the hundreds. In Washington, several thousand showed up, which isn’t even as many people as  The Mall has on a normal day. If this is what the Republicans are counting on to return them to power, I say go for it.

But the power of mass protest was visible yesterday. Thousands of teachers, parents and students pushed back on the Jeb Bush legacy of Florida’s Senate Bill 6, and as a result, Republican governor Charlie Crist vetoed the bill. By taking this action, he took a stand, not only against the prevailing tide in the GOP, but against the so-called Democratic Reformers in the Obama Department of Education and Arne Duncan.

Mark it as a good day for teachers and students.

And a bad day for teabaggers.