Media coverage of the aftermath of the Vergara ruling continues, and other sordid actors have joined the misguided battle against teachers.
Now California State Superintendent of Public Instruction is himself going to seek an appeal of the ruling. Here’s Diane Ravitch’s article about this.
Judge Rolf M. Treu has now affirmed the ruling, as described at Politico.
5 October, 2014: “What’s wrong with the Vergara ruling?” by Carl Cohn, former school superintendent in Long Beach and San Diego, director of the Urban Leadership Program at Claremont Graduate University and a member of the State Board of Education. He is also chair of the American College Testing (ACT) Board of Directors, and a member of the EdSource Board of Directors. (edsource.org/2014/whats-wrong-with-the-vergara-ruling/)
A few weeks ago I posted a summary of news and information about the Vergara case, here in California. This post will continue that process, with more recent articles about teacher tenure in general as well as the Vergara case.
- TeCher tenure has little to do with student achievement (9/10/14): www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/09/10/teacher-tenure-has-little-to-do-with-student-achievement-economist-says/
- Tenure gives teachers freedom to teach – www.sfgate.com/opinion/article/Tenure-gives-teachers-freedom-to-teach-5599203.php
- Lloyd Loftus on the Vergara Ruling (posted/reposted on Diane Ravitch’s blog) – dianeravitch.net/2014/08/09/lloyd-lofthouse-on-the-vergara-ruling/
- So you think teacher tenure is a bad thing – about Whoopi Goldberg’s recent rant – www.dailykos.com/story/2014/08/07/1319793/-So-You-Think-Tenure-Is-A-Bad-Thing
And there’s a lot of news about Whoopi’s rant:
- Whoopi’s “view” on teacher tenure – EdWeek, 8/6/2014 – blogs.edweek.org/edweek/education_and_the_media/2014/08/whoopis_view_on_teacher_tenure.html
- An open letter to Whoopi Goldberg and “The View” regarding teacher tenure – Huff Post, 8/8/2014 – www.huffingtonpost.com/m-shannon-hernandez/the-view-teacher-tenure_b_5661200.html
- Making Whoopi: Missing the point on teacher tenure – Big Education Ape 8/9/2014 – bigeducationape.blogspot.com/2014/08/whoopi-goldberg-tenure-controversy.html
- Whoopi Goldberg gets taken to school on teacher tenure – Daniel Katz 8/5/2014 – danielskatz.net/2014/08/05/whoopi-goldberg-gets-taken-to-school-on-tenure/
- Join the crowd: Whoopi Goldberg bristles at being labeled a ‘teacher hater’ – EAGNews 8/6/2014 – eagnews.org/whoopi-goldberg-bristles-at-being-labeled-a-teacher-hater/
- Connect the dots: Whoopi, Ari and Rahm Emanuel, destruction of public education, teacher tenure – Reclaim REform 8/10/2014 – reclaimreform.com/2014/08/10/connect-the-dots-whoopi-ari-and-rahm-emanuel-destruction-of-public-education-ending-tenure/
- Vergara v. California Highlights the Need for a Teacher-Powered Educational Strategy (9/11/14) hechingerreport.org/content/vergara-v-california-highlights-need-teacher-powered-educational-strategy_17300/
At the 2014 AFT National Convention, to which I was a delegate from PVFT, we learned about the UPWA’s call for a boycott of Staples, because of the arrangement between the USPS and Staples, Corp., that will outsource postal services to Staples stores. By doing so, the USPS is replacing unionized public sector postal workers with non-union, private sector workers, being paid minimum or near-minimum wages. The APWU has called for a boycott of Staples, and the AFT stands in full support and solidarity of this boycott. We rallied in front of the Staples Center with APWU members during the convention. AFT’s joining of the call for a boycott definitely got Staples Corp’s attention, as nearly ⅓ of their total revenue comes from school supplies sales! And the big back-to-school rush is about to commence. Check out www.apwu.org/issues/stop-staples for more information, and www.apwu.org/issues/stop-staples/staples-materials for downloadable materials, including a flier in Spanish and English.
Check out www.apwu.org/news/web-news-article/aft-delegates-adopt-dont-buy-staples-resolution-rally-support-us-postal for APWU’s write-up of AFT’s support. Visit www.aft.org/about/resolution_detail.cfm?articleid=19592 for the Resolution in support of U.S. Postal Workers. And APWU posted about the strong impact AFT’s support had on Staples Corp.: www.apwu.org/news/news-bulletin/aft-strikes-fear-heart-staples-ceo.
They never tell you in teacher school, and it’s rarely discussed elsewhere. It is never, ever portrayed in movies and tv shows about teaching. Teachers rarely bring it up around non-teachers for fear it will make us look weak or inadequate.
Valerie Strauss in the Washington Post once [12/27/2013] put together a series of quotes to answer the question “How hard is teaching?” and asked for more in the comments section. My rant didn’t entirely fit there, so I’m putting it here, because it is on the list of Top Ten Things They Never Tell You in Teacher School.
The hard part of teaching is coming to grips with this:
There is never enough.
There is never enough time. There are never enough resources. There is never enough you.
It’s worth reading the rest of his rant.
Since it implemented huge education reforms 40 years ago, Finland’s school system has consistently come at the top for the international rankings for education systems.
So how do they do it?
It’s simple — by going against the evaluation-driven, centralized model that much of the Western world uses.
And here are the 26 things he lists:
- Finnish children don’t start school until they are 7.
- Compared with other systems, they rarely take exams or do homework until they are well into their teens.
- The children are not measured at all for the first six years of their education.
- There is only one mandatory standardized test in Finland, taken when children are 16.
- All children, clever or not, are taught in the same classrooms.
- Finland spends around 30 percent less per student than the United States.
- 30 percent of children receive extra help during their first nine years of school.
- 66 percent of students go to college. (The highest rate in Europe)
- The difference between weakest and strongest students is the smallest in the World. [Ted note: I assume they mean academically, not physically.]
- Science classes are capped at 16 students so that they may perform practical experiments every class.
- 93 percent of Finns graduate from high school. (17.5% higher than in U.S.)
- 43 percent of Finnish high-school students go to vocational schools.
- Elementary school students get 75 minutes of recess a day in Finnish versus an average of 27 minutes in the US.
- Teachers only spend 4 hours a day in the classroom, and take 2 hours a week for “professional development.”
- Finland has the same amount of teachers as New York City, but far fewer students. (600,000 students compared to 1.1 million in NYC.)
- The school system is 100% state funded.
- All teachers in Finland must have a masters degree, which is fully subsidized.
- The national curriculum is only broad guidelines.
- Teachers are selected from the top 10% of graduates.
- In 2010, 6,600 applicants vied for 660 primary school training slots.
- The average starting salary for a Finnish teacher was $29,000 in 2008. (Compared with $36,000 in the United States.)
- However, high school teachers with 15 years of experience make 102 percent of what other college graduates make. (In the US, this figure is 62%.)
- There is no merit pay for teachers.
- Teachers are effectively given the same status as doctors and lawyers.
- In an international standardized measurement in 2001, Finnish children came top or very close to the top for science, reading and mathematics. (It’s consistently come top or very near every time since.)
- And despite the differences between Finland and the US, it easily beats countries with a similar demographic. (Neighbor Norway, of a similar size and featuring a similar homogeneous culture, follows the same same strategies as the USA and achieves similar rankings in international studies.)
Sources he cites include:
And a few more sources for you:
Londoners have made their feelings clear about a corporate “solution” to the problem of homelessness—and the company listened.
By Molly Rusk Posted June 26, 2014 at www.yesmagazine.org/people-power/anti-homeless-spikes-heartless-cementing-over-them-ingenious.
Early in the morning on June 12, a few members of a group known as the London Black Revolutionaries showed up in front of a Tesco shopping center on Regent Street in London and covered the store’s “anti-homeless spikes” with home-made cement.
A few days before the stunt, the spikes generated a firestorm of public criticism of the retail giant. The criticism largely took place online and centered around a series of photos of the spikes taken in October 2013 by photojournalist Joshua Preston.
The spikes were intended to deter “antisocial behavior,” Tesco told The Guardian in response to the criticism. But Londoners were having none of that.
“We want homes not spikes,” Preston said in a press release from the People’s Assembly Against Austerity, an organization that campaigns against austerity policies—such as cuts to pensions and public spending. “We will show Tesco that its decision to victimize the homeless is shameful.”
Read the rest of the article at www.yesmagazine.org/people-power/anti-homeless-spikes-heartless-cementing-over-them-ingenious.
Here’s a 2-hour video about Burning Man 2013, made by a German group, now with English translation.
There is so much I could say about this… and I’ll try to write more about it soon. In the meanwhile, here are links to various news articles, analyses, responses and perspectives on the ruling and its larger meanings/implications… to which I will continue to add…
- The basic story:
- AFT Press release (6/10/14): www.aft.org/newspubs/press/2014/061014b.cfm
- LA Times (6/11/14): www.latimes.com/local/education/la-me-teacher-lawsuit-20140611-story.html
- CFT and AFT on the issue:
- Randi Weingarten (AFT Pres.) on the issue:
- “Moving from test and punish to support and improve (6/16/14):” www.huffingtonpost.com/randi-weingarten/moving-from-test-and-puni_b_5496293.html (also at www.aft.org/newspubs/press/nytimes/column061514.cfm)
- MSNBC: Randi Weingarten and co-counsel Marcellus McRae discuss the ruling (6/15): www.msnbc.com/melissa-harris-perry/watch/taking-on-teachers-by-targeting-tenure-281603139985
- Various Analyses, Opinion Pieces and Ongoing Coverage:
- LA Times Opinion (6/10): www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-schneider-vergara-teachers-20140610-story.html
- LA Times story (6/11): www.latimes.com/local/education/la-me-teacher-decision-lawsuit-20140612-story.html
- “A tale of two Vergaras” by Adam Bessie (6/11): adambessie.com/2014/06/11/a-tale-of-two-vergaras-of-stardom-and-the-end-of-teacher-tenure/
- Another LA Times opinion (6/11): www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-mh-why-that-ruling-20140611-column.html
- From The American Prospect (6/12): prospect.org/article/why-california-tenure-decision-wrong-and-will-hurt-disadvantaged-students
- “What Due Process Means to Me” By Santa Cruz’s own Casey Carlson (6/17): www.classroomvoices.org/?p=462
- Opinion: In defense of teacher tenure (WSJ, 6/18): online.wsj.com/articles/pedro-noguera-in-defense-of-teacher-tenure-1403134951
- From Atlanta, GA, a piece about Vergara that relates it to the broader issue of VAM (value-added measures) (6/18): vamboozled.com/vergara-v-california-concerns-beyond-teachers/
- A piece at salon.com, relating Vergara decision to Michelle Rhee (6/19): www.salon.com/2014/06/19/this_is_a_b_student%E2%80%99s_opinion_why_the_education_reformers_latest_victory_is_built_on_sand/
- A more general critique of the education “reform” movement in U.S. (6/19): www.huffingtonpost.com/steve-nelson/education-reform-a-nation_b_5511589.html
- Richard Trumka (AFL-CIO Pres.) on Vergara decision: “Stripping teachers protections doesn’t help children” (6/20/14): http://www.theroot.com/articles/politics/2014/06
- “Are the top .1% buying their version of education reform?” (6/23): www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/monkey-cage/wp/2014/06/23/vergara-vs-california-are-the-top-0-1-buying-their-version-of-education-reform/
- “Scapegoating California Teachers” (6/25): www.ocregister.com/articles/teachers-627127-california-job.html
- Huff Post (6/28): www.huffingtonpost.com/celinda-lake/missing-the-full-picture-_b_5538415.html
- Diane Ravitch reflects on a teacher (6/29): dianeravitch.net/2014/06/29/is-ms-mclaughlin-grossly-ineffective-or-teacher-of-the-year/
- The expansion of the Vergara suit to other states commences: “Lawsuit Challenges New York’s Teacher Tenure Laws” (7/3): www.nytimes.com/2014/07/04/nyregion/lawsuit-contests-new-yorks-teacher-tenure-laws.html
- “The VergarGuments are Coming to New York State!” (7/4): www.schoolfinance101.wordpress.com/2014/07/04/the-vergarguments-are-coming-to-new-york-state/
In response to a request from cousin Nancy Kolodny, here are some old Altenberg family photos that cousin Lee Altenberg sent me a while ago, which he scanned from old prints.