It's teacher hunting season!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Dissidents prevail in Chicago teacher's union

"New Chicago teacher's union leader vows fight against layoffs,"
By John Bachtell, in "The People's World."
This victory of dissident teachers over union bureaucrats comes in the aftermath of Arne Duncan's destruction of the Chicago public school system during his tenure there, particularly the unfounded break-up of schools.
Note how, akin to Michael Bloomberg's renaming the Board of Education as the Department of Education, the head of the Chicago school system is given a corporate-inspired name, "Chief Executive Officer."
CHICAGO - Angered by devastating budget cuts, threatened layoffs and school privatization, Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) members voted in a new leadership June 10. New president Karen Lewis immediately vowed to fight any attempt by Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to layoff 2,000 teachers and increase class sizes to 35 students to deal with a projected $600 million budget deficit.

Lewis's slate, Caucus of Rank and File Educators (CORE), won nearly 60% of the vote in a runoff against incumbent President Marilyn Stewart and her slate. CORE swept all top officer and vice president slots. After the election both Stewart and Lewis called for a united union.

"I want to congratulate Karen Lewis and her entire CORE team, and want them to know they can count on me for any assistance I can offer as they take on what will be one of the toughest challenges in the 73-year history of the Chicago Teachers Union," Stewart said. "For when all is said and done, this election was never about Karen or me. It was about the 32,000 union members whose futures and well-being are now being threatened by an uncaring and insensitive Chicago Public Schools system."

The unity of the union was tested immediately when CPS Board of Education held an emergency meeting to deal with the mounting budget crisis. Teachers picketed before going inside where they testified against the Board giving authority to school's CEO Ron Huberman's plan to allow class sizes to rise to 35 and impose cuts in other areas. The Board also agreed to a scheduled 4% pay increase, but this was seen as a maneuver to prevent a strike by teachers. Big business interests represented by the Civic Federation are egging Huberman to rescind the wage increase and confront the teachers union.

However, Huberman did demand concessions by the union. He told the Board, "The reality of the situation is that if concessions are not made, we will have to lay off teachers and raise class sizes." Huberman and the Board are trying to back teachers into a corner and pit them against parents and students.

The CTU says it will let teachers decide on the 4% raise, but maintain there are other ways to solve the crisis and demanded CPS open up its books.

In her victory speech Lewis said, "Today marks the beginning of the end of scapegoating educators for all the social ills that our children, families and schools struggle against every day (and) the beginning of a fight for true transparency in our educational policy. This election shows the unity of 30,000 educators standing strong to put business in its place - out of our schools."

Lewis said corporate America sees K-12 public education as a $380 billion trust, which until the last 15 years it hadn't had a sizeable piece of. She blasted Mayor Richard M. Daley's school reform in which scores of schools have been closed and reopened as charter schools, as not an education plan, but a business plan.

Lewis's victory was also a repudiation of President Obama's proposed federal policy for education reform which is based on the Chicago model administered by current Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

Alarmed by the potential for massive loss of jobs of teachers and other public workers, President Obama implored Congress on June 12 to pass emergency aid to the states and cities to prevent layoffs. Obama said already 84,000 public workers had lost their jobs and 300,000 teachers are threatened with layoffs. Legislation has been blocked by Republicans and conservative Democrats that would have provided $50 billion in funding.

Lewis and other speakers at the Board meeting called upon Daley to release hundreds of millions of dollars that has been accumulated by the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) accounts. These entities have siphoned off property tax money destined for public education into a fund distributed by Daley for economic development that often ends up in the pockets of his cronies. Each year $245 million in education funding is lost in this way.

The new CTU leadership is calling for reforming the way education is funded in Illinois. Presently, 60% of funds comes from property taxes and 30% from state funding, which they say should be reversed to provide equitable education for every child.

A personal bio of the new CTU president, Karen Lewis, from the CORE faction appears in today's "Chicago Sun-Times."

Just as we thought: NYT: " New York Charter Schools Lag in Enrolling Hispanics"

To anyone familiar with the charter schools and those semi-charter schools, run as "private-public partnerships," there are tremendously lop-sided demographics at the schools.
The schools are disproportionately African-American in areas with significant Latino populations that are not proportionately represented in the student bodies. In some cases, the populations of the schools are lop-sided in their gender demographics.
Just what is the thinking of the administrators that create these situations? Are they cynically thinking, "let's hold down the numbers of boys (they might be too rambunctious) and the number of Latinos (they might not know the language as well as those children to native-born speakers). After all, it's all about the statistics. We've got to keep those Regents scores up." How cynical. I'd love to throw this question at schools chancellor Joel Klein: "How do you justify the nearly-segregating trends, by race and gender dimensions, of New York City schools?"

This NY Times story
"New York Charter Schools Lag in Enrolling Hispanics," confirms my suspicions.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Health disparities in New York City, report

True, the report is a few years old, but it is just as relevant as before, as race, class disparities have not improved since the report's release.

Yvonne L. Graham, R.N., M.P.H. reported on health disparities in New York City.

Here are some links:
in 2006 *.pdf format brochure:

in Powerpoint format, available at WWRL radio's site:

There is now a center on the health disparities issue
at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, in Flatbush, Brooklyn:

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Protest in defense of teachers, at Mayor Bloomberg's E 79th Street house!


Stop Harassment of Teachers - Justice for The Bronx Science Twenty
Picket at Mayor Bloomberg's house
- June 10th, 4:30pm -
79th St. and 5th Ave., SW Corner

All over the city, teachers experience harassment from supervisors and principals. The time to protest is long overdue! The UFT Chapter at the Bronx High School of Science is organizing a a picket of Mayor Bloomberg's home against administrative harassment at their school and the DOE's refusal to abide by the decision of an independent arbitrator that the harassment must be remedied and ended.
Two years ago, twenty math teachers at the school filed a complaint against the harassment and abuse at the hands of their supervisor. Their claim has been upheld by a neutral arbitrator in a recent fact-finding decision, but the schools chancellor Joel Klein has outrageously decided to ignore the fact-finder's report and take no action.

The Department of Education's disregard of the fact-finding decision will only lead to increasing tension at the school, further demoralization of teachers, and a worsening learning environment for students. So the UFT Chapter is taking their case to Mr. Klein's boss, Mr. Bloomberg.

Please join us to show solidarity in the face of harassment of newer teachers, veteran educators, and union activists. The DOE and the national media would like to have the public believe that teachers are only disciplined in order to improve educational outcomes, but this fact-finder's report exposes that good teachers have fallen victim to supervisors who abused their power.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

MSNBC's Maddow takes us into the Second Avenue subway construction

Ah, the Second Avenue Subway, the line that has taken a lifetime to be built. There had been two elevated lines in the vicinity, at the start of the twentieth century, the Third Avenue Elevated and the First Avenue Elevated.
As Rachel Maddow reminds us, in the MSNBC clip at the right, the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) and its predecessor authorities have had fitful starts at constructing it, in the 1920s, the 1950s, the 1970s.
Finally, the MTA has started constructing the Second Avenue, beginning in 2007.
Click on the video at the right, for the video, of Maddow, taking us in a trip underground, to witness the construction of the subway.
Alas, it is projected that New Yorkers must wait until 2016 for the first leg of the subway, between 96th Street and 63rd Street. The subway will be an IND line, a northward continuation of the Q Line, that presently terminates at 57th Street.