A Teachable Moment

Former local teacher union pesident Morty Rosenfeld periodically attempts to make sense of the increasingly senseless world of public education.

Archive for July, 2011

Shooting Ourselves in the Head Again

What on earth was AFT leadership thinking when they entered into a “partnership” with the American Association of School Administrators for the development and evaluation of the teacher workforce we supposedly need for the nation’s knowledge based economy? Put aside for a moment the fact that the economy we seem to be building will require fewer and fewer “knowledge workers,” why are these two unions reinforcing the completely erroneous notion that what is fundamentally wrong with our schools are the teachers standing in front of its classrooms? If only we could make them better, evaluate them in some more data driven way, we could overcome the savage effects of poverty, racism, incompetent management, shrinking budgets and a society that more and more sees students as consumers who must be catered to rather than educated. This is hardly the “groundbreaking” stuff the joint press release touts. I wouldn’t be surprised to find that Bill Gates has contributed to this misconceived endeavor.

What might have been really groundbreaking is an alliance with the administrators to challenge a nation which claims to love its children but which permits twenty-five percent of them to live in poverty with all that means, poor nutrition, unstable housing, little or no medical and dental care and parents who often psychologically stretched to the breaking point by chronic unemployment. That alliance could use its resources to resist, both actively and passively, the dictates of the testocracy who in the name of educational reform have done nothing to improve our worst performing schools but who have very powerfully dumbed-down our best.

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A Chance to Vote For Jobs

On August 1, 2011, Nassau County voters will have a chance to bring some high paying construction jobs to the area. The vote will be to authorize the selling of bonds to finance the construction of a sports complex which will include a new home for the NHL Islanders and a venue for a minor league baseball team. There are literally thousands of jobs at stake, good union jobs at decent wages – the kind of wages that allow people to support public education and other public services. Do us all a favor. Support this referendum on August 1. Go to your usual polling place, and vote YES for jobs!

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Let’s Get Taken for Granted

I’m just back from the National Education Association convention where much to my chagrin the body voted to give President Obama and early endorsement. The secret ballot vote to do so carried 70% to 30%. While all sorts of reasons were offered for this action (My favorite was “We need a goalie in the Whitehouse.”), terror at the thought of one of the way-out Republican candidates becoming president was the driving force. Unaddressed was the reality that such a view allows Democrat candidates to do almost anything to us, as at least Democrats don’t seem to be against workers having unions so long as they don’t demand very much from their elected representatives. What a sorry state of affairs. A president, who to my mind is worse than Bush the second on education issues, gets our nod before we even try to extract some policy changes from him. Literally hours later, word leaks that he’s looking to do a deal with the Republicans that would cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

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