Saturday, March 30, 2013

Public Education Not Defined by Educators


Unintended Consequences


One of the unintended consequences of the emphasis on testing in the education reform movement is an increase in cheating.  Yesterday, the superintendent of Atlanta public schools and 34 other educators were indicted on charges of misconduct in the administration of standardized testing.

I don't believe in absolving individuals of personal decisions.  What these educators did, if proven, is wrong and embarrassing to the public education community.

Yet, the pressures unleashed by good intentions in trying to improve student learning have wrought all sorts of negative results--an increase in cheating is just one of them.  Narrowing the curriculum, eliminating or reducing recesses, devaluing the role of the fine arts, siphoning money away from curriculum development to professional development, and inculcating in the American public's mind that teaching can be reduced to a number are all examples.

It is time for our state and national education organizations to disavow the educational reform movement, to unmask it for what it is--namely, a phenomenally misguided and damaging assault on the teaching profession and the institution of public education.

We need to stop trying, as teachers are always prone to do, to make it work, make do, make lemonade from lemons--which is what we've been doing for twenty years--and finally array our organization, communication, and money in support of the teaching profession and the institution of public education.

There is a time for compromise and there is a time for conviction.

Enough.

3 dozen indicted in Atlanta cheating scandal

Thursday, March 28, 2013

What Matters Most Cannot Be Measured


Diane Ravitch is my hero.  If President Obama was truly a friend of education, he would replace his Education Secretary Arne Duncan with Diane Ravitch.  But he hasn’t and won’t because the NEA has been too busy fawning and flattering as a wing of the Democratic Party instead of acting in service of our core values as a professional, non-partisan organization.

I’d never heard of Diane Ravitch until one day when my superintendent loaned me his copy of “The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education.”  I avoided reading it because I thought it was going to be one of those vacuous, nonsensical eduspeak books that we are sometimes forced to read.  I was totally mistaken, and I couldn't put her book down, audibly and repeatedly exclaiming affirmatives, “Yes.  Yes.  Yes!”

I got to see her speak at the NEA-RA in Chicago when she was presented the NEA’s Friend of Education award.  The irony of her statement “The current ‘education reform’ movement is pushing bad ideas” was that both the NEA and the WEA have made the political calculation to endorse education reform in order to mute public disapproval of unions and to shape outcomes--to in effect lie with the enemy in order to pick out the sheets.  I think this strategy is a dreadful mistake.

I don’t send dues to Linens-n-Things.

A colleague sent me a link to Diane Ravitch’s blog, and I've enjoyed reading not only her own thinking but also that of other pro-public education activists.  One of them, a California science teacher named Anthony Cody, criticized an unbelievable article by AFT’s Randi Weingarten who drank the Kool-Aid to support the Gates’ Foundation’s drive to improve public education by improving teaching evaluation systems.  This guy is good:

“The fundamental problem with the Gates Foundation is that they have directed the entire national conversation to blaming teachers–instead of poverty and segregation– for low test scores. They have put hundreds of millions of dollars into evaluating teachers, finding good teachers (and rewarding them), finding ‘bad’ teachers (and firing them).”

And . . .

“But here is my view: the teaching profession across America is under attack. The Gates Foundation has helped to fuel that attack by its claim that teacher quality is our biggest problem. Teacher-bashing has become sport for talk shows and pundits. Legislatures are vying to see what they can do to demoralize teachers, what benefit they can strip away, what right they can negate.”

And finally . . .

“I note that no other nation in the world is trying to quantify teaching. There is a reason for that. What matters most cannot be measured, so we value only what can be measured. And that may be what matters least.”

Compare that to this:  

“Washington Education Association Key Issues, 2013 legislative session, 4. Teacher evaluations:  Evaluations”

“WEA members are working hard to implement two teacher evaluation laws already passed by the legislature. The new evaluation procedure must be in place by fall 2013 and be phased in through 2016. The evaluation focuses on professional growth, and includes student assessments as a measure of teacher performance. WEA members also believe the new evaluation system should be fully funded so it succeeds as intended by the Legislature.  This includes initial training and ongoing professional development for teachers and principals. Additional principals and administrative resources are necessary to fully implement the new evaluation system.”

Wrong.  Wrong.  Wrong!

Diane Ravitch's Blog

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

3 Candidates

I'd like to acknowledge the other candidates for president of WEA:  Kim Mead, President of Everett Education Association, and Mike Ragan, Vice President of WEA.

I asked both to attend and speak at one of my Rep Council meetings--Kim came in November and Mike was here today.  Each stayed for the entire 90-minute meeting and then had dinner with my vice president and me. 

I like both Kim and Mike, and had I not been a candidate would have been fine with voting for either one.  I had been leaning towards supporting Kim because of her success in raising teacher salaries (her top teachers earn almost $20,000 more than teachers in my local), her experience, her ability to be well-spoken, and her poise.  But I also like Mike, and was impressed with his 2007 speech at the RA when he unexpectedly won his three-way Vice President's race, his real-world experience (moving from being an engineer to student teaching in an elementary school initially), and his success in moving WEA to a fiscally-sustainable path.

So, why am I offering a third option?  In talking with Kim, I heard alliance and allegiance to current strategy and vision of leadership.  Kim supports present WEA President Mary Lindquist on how to use WEA in service of our core values.  Kim supports full implementation and funding of the new evaluation system and does not believe that WEA should provide top-down leadership.  In talking with Mike--keeping in mind the necessary constraints of any vice president--I heard earnestness and genuine support of educators, but no substantive plan to bend the prevailing narrative presently arrayed against public education.  He, too, believes that teachers need to improve, although he cedes that the WEA has been too reactive.

Kim and Mike are two establishment candidates.  Neither of them will change much of what has been going on.  If either of them wins, it will be the same pizza with different toppings.  Same old, same old.

I'm the insurgent candidate.  I am neither beholden to or enamored by the bureaucracy.  I owe no one anything.  My focus is totally on what's best for our profession and our members. 

Read the three statements.  Consider the options.  Because this election, you definitely have a choice.


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Poverty and Parenting, Not Pedagogy and Practice



Why this reality makes this manner of evaluating teachers unfair:


There are innumerable factors not under the control of teachers, poverty being particularly significant since the number of children in poverty has risen dramatically. The move both nationwide and in our own state to evaluate teachers according to numerical "achievement" on narrow tests is unfair. The WEA should never have compromised, should never have helped enact, and should not now be supporting full implementation "as intended" of an evaluation system based on phenomenally inexact, devaluing, and meaningless numbers. Teaching is more than a number.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Time for an Outsider

Being not part of the dense WEA circular backslapping bureaucracy, I’ve offered my candidacy in a fairly unorthodox manner. The approved and expected route to higher position in WEA is to patiently and in sequence run for and hold offices of ever-increasing importance. And then obsequiously to collect as many endorsements from a very select group of 1200 voting delegates (85% of who are returnees, lifers) as possible. We’ve all seen the political ads where there are dozens and dozens of endorsers, usually appended with very important titles. I received one recently from a current candidate and I swear there were so many names that I think I saw the Dalai Lama’s name and maybe Bugs Bunny, too.

Establishment candidates are well-schooled in the election procedure—purchasing and distributing all sorts of bric-a-brac (pens, candy, granola bars, full-color fliers on expensive paper), renting hospitality rooms, touring the state’s 21 UniServ councils, etc. There’s even a drawing for tables at the convention center to distribute campaign materials and if your name is drawn you get first pick! One former candidate told me that a traditional campaign costs about $15,000.

At his invitation (an invitation he extended to all candidates), I had dinner this week with WEA’s Executive Director John Okamoto. His purpose was to answer questions about the WEA governance and administrative structures, and to get to know potential office holders. (The WEA is run by an Executive Committee and a Board of Directors, and the present president, Mary Lindquist is proposing reducing the size of the Board, while simultaneously reducing the number and nature of UniServ councils).

The only candidate John had not worked with directly is me.

I am running as an outsider, as someone who has not made his entire life’s ambition advancement through and endorsement by the WEA bureaucracy. My attention has been on my members, my advocacy is for them. I’m neither sycophant nor operative. I am a classroom teacher. It’s time that WEA has some fresh leadership outside of the company choir.

Friday, March 22, 2013

SPAM as Professional Development


One of the most frustrating givens of today’s dominant narrative of public schools is that teachers are in need of continuous improvement—and that endless amounts of professional trainings will improve those who can be improved and unmask those who cannot.  

What most teachers figure out fairly soon in their careers is that professional development begins to result in diminishing returns after about the 7th year of teaching.  You one day are overwhelmed with this sense that you’ve heard this all before—maybe not in the same format, or packaged in the same way, or marketed via the same acronym or by the same mascot—but all the same, you’ve heard it all before.

In my district—a small district without many resources—savvy administrators were successful in procuring a massive federal grant to provide huge amounts of professional development—amounting to almost 8% of our total budget over three years.  A company in the American south has been hired to fly consultants across the country to be lodged, dined, and compensated to water parched professionals with the nectar of “best practices”—in this case, reading strategies designed to increase standardized scores on one reading and one math test in high school.

Now, on the one hand, as a local leader I am glad that my members have opportunities to gain clock hours and earn back some of their lost wages due to the legislature’s 1.9% cut in our pay and 6-year suspension of a cost of living adjustment.  And perhaps some younger teachers or perhaps some who have transferred to an unfamiliar assignment may benefit from standard strategies renamed and placed in yet another binder that will soon join others on a high shelf in a closet.

In the meantime, my textbooks are 12 years old, our after-school tutor bus has been eliminated, the health-impaired student population continues to rise while no additional nurses are hired, librarian and counselor positions are eliminated, and special education is woefully underfunded.

If you Google “recipes for SPAM” you will quickly find hundreds of ways to serve the “precooked meat product” first introduced in 1937—black pepper SPAM fried rice, SPAM mesubi, jalapeno SPAM quesadillas, huevos SPAM cheros, and it goes on and on.  But what it finally comes down to is you’re eating SPAM.  

Same with most professional development.

Part of the new evaluation system is a heavy reliance on more and more professional development—the idea being that something is wrong with teachers that is causing students to fail and that if we can finally fix those teachers who are fixable and chase those who are not from the teaching ranks, students will finally succeed.

I don’t believe that.  I believe that teachers know how to teach and teach well every single day.  

I would very much like my state organization to finally and unequivocally say when they see the Emperor with No Clothes pass by, “Hey, that dude’s buck naked!”

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Is WEA anti-Classroom Teacher?

Is WEA anti-classroom teacher?  

If our state organization's disastrous support of TPEP isn't bad enough, WEA now is supporting Senate Bill 5244 that places limits on suspensions and expulsions, requires schools to do more to return excluded students to the educational setting before the end of their exclusion (if possible), and saddles teachers and others with the responsibility of coming up with a plan to "re-engage" the student with school.

Seriously?

This is another attempt to blame teachers and schools for the failures of students and parents.  When WEA embraces these types of initiatives, our state organization--our only state organization--provides aid and comfort to those who believe that teachers and schools are indeed to blame for the lack of student achievement.  

I'm not one of them.

Students behave badly for a variety of reasons--none of them having to do with teachers and schools not being engaging enough.  In the 30 years that I have taught, I have managed, motivated and tolerated a wide variety of behaviors--some of them expected, developmentally-appropriate, and even on occasion resultant of my own inadequate lesson plans.  But most disruptive and disrespectful behaviors emanate from choices made by students, ineffective parenting, and weak administrators whose primary concern is to protect their political standing.  As a local leader, I've seen many, many teachers thrown under the bus by a combination of an enabled kid, pushy parent, and spineless principal.

And, yet, we're told to raise standards, maintain high expectations, and go for that academic rigor.

Wouldn't it have been refreshing for a change for the WEA to oppose Senate Bill 5244 and instead give a full-throated, unabashed, and unambiguous support of classroom teachers and their unsung efforts to protect the learning environment from disruption?


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Education is About Passion and Personalization

Robinson is an English author and "educationalist," which makes me a little nauseous.  But I really like the underlying philosophy of this quote.

Trust--Don't Shame--Local Associations

If elected, I hope to end the policy which shames local associations who, through no fault of their own, are unable to meet the ethnic minority/people of color representation requirement in their WEA-RA delegations.

The WEA’s constitution requires that local associations make every “reasonable and legal” effort to increase the participation of members of color. I support and act in service of that goal. I strongly oppose how the goal is translated in the Standing Rules of the WEA-RA.

When my local was unable to pressure one of our handful of minority members to attend WEA-RAs two years in a row, we were forced to write a plan, which was rejected, rewrite the plan, have our entire delegation placed on hold, and then be visited by WEA. We don’t need or want WEA scrutiny and sanction to work in service of a goal we respect.

An unintended consequence of WEA oversight of locals, through no fault of their own, who are not able to meet their member of color requirement is a negative aura that somehow good and decent WEA members are not committed to inclusivity or diversity—or that they are not competent or sufficiently aware of their own memberships.

This RA, my delegation will include a member of color, a former student of mine who now works in my building. In order to avoid scrutiny and sanction by the WEA, I leveraged my special connection with him to pressure him to come to the WEA-RA. No other members receive special pressure to attend the RA. I also made special arrangements to have his wife and first child accompany him. Since my local has sustained a reduction in members, our budget normally would not allow for successor delegates, but, again, to avoid scrutiny and sanction by the WEA, we’re adding costs.

Now, I am glad that he has agreed to attend the RA, and, again, I support the goal of increasing diversity in our union. But because all of our members must belong to all four levels of union representation—local, Uniserv, WEA, and NEA—and because almost all of our local associations do not have anywhere near the state’s minority percentage (28% in 2010), the requirement to have a particular number of minority delegates attend or endure scrutiny and sanction is unfair.

Keep the goal. Leave the determination and implementation of efforts to include and increase minority participation in the hands of local leaders. WEA should be a resource which could be called upon as each local decided it needed help.

If I were WEA president, I would trust local associations.

Friday, March 15, 2013

How Not to Use the WEA-RA


One of the main reasons I’ve decided to run to be WEA president is to offer a different approach to the WEA-RA itself.  I’ve been absolutely flabbergasted and flummoxed at current WEA leadership’s approach to the two-and-a-half day annual event that gathers about 1200 delegates representing 82,000 WEA members each spring.  In speaking with both current president Mary Lindquist and presidential candidate Kim Mead, I’ve listened to how plans cannot be top-down, they must emanate from the grassroots, that no local will want to be told what to do by WEA leaders.  

I fundamentally disagree.  I believe that our members hunger, veritably salivate for leadership.  They've been fed sand so long, they believe it to be water.

As a local leader whose hotel, meals, mileage and substitute costs are paid for by my underpaid members, I’ve had to be embarrassed time and time again by WEA leadership’s lack of a coherent plan and program, instead relying on random and often nonsensical initiatives from rudderless delegates.  

How much time have we wasted year after year arguing about what color t-shirt to wear on what particular day?  Or whether or not we should fund a WEA chorus to sing pro-labor songs?  Or whether or not we should send a handful of look-at-me members to a Save Our Schools conference in Washington, D.C.--and if we do how much should we set aside so that they can have a grapefruit as opposed to a melon each morning for breakfast?  Or debating the immigration laws of Arizona, for Pete's sake?

The one time that a brave delegate dared to read off-script and propose that we scrap the Friday morning session to instead travel to Olympia to give our legislators hell, WEA courtiers and operatives fell over themselves to rush to the microphones to presage locusts, plague, and the end of the world if we were to actually use the RA to DO something union-like.  The proposal was soundly defeated.  And we continued instead with debating foolish ideas.

My absolute favorite time-wasting inanity, one that still fills me with abject incredulity--and this was allowed by WEA leadership to go on at two different RAs—is when some delegate commandeered the microphone on a baldly-specious point of personal privilege to urge the 1200 delegates to decry cuts in funding to public education and to lament the resulting loss of educators by yelling like idiots, or in Walt Whitman’s phrase, “I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.”  I can’t possible fathom anything less effective than 1200 educators screaming in a windowless room.  Twice.  Like the Koch Brothers give a rip?

Seriously?

This is why my members send me to the annual convention of the preeminent representative public education organization in the entire state?  I think not.

If I was WEA president, I would spend the entire year planning for the WEA-RA, which would be held on a Saturday and Sunday so as to reduce costs for delegations, to lay out a well-thought-out—but amendable—plan on how to best utilize our power in service of our core values.

Union Meeting from "The Life of Brian"

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Happy Classified Employees Week!

Working in a district that has its classified employees unionized by Public School Employees (PSE), I have to admit that I am not an expert in their issues of pay, benefits, and working conditions. I have worked with my counterpart PSE presidents over the years and have had my teachers’ union support PSE job actions. And, of course, in thirty years working in schools in Washington and California, I’ve worked with many secretaries, janitors, instructional assistants, library assistants, and clerks.

Since this is Classified Employees’ Appreciation week, I wanted to single out three classified employees who I believe are outstanding professionals. The first is Mrs. Martin who was my full-time instructional assistant my first year teaching a 2nd/3rd grade combination class in San Bernardino. She helped me understand the largely African-American community from which most of my students came. She was firm and kind, strict and loving—her guidance leavened with laughter. I learned a lot from her and depended on her support as I learned how to be a teacher.

Later, when I transitioned to the middle school level, I worked with Sandy, no last name, no formality, just Sandy. She was a great custodian—an older lady, had served in the military, gray-haired, a little gruff at first but very welcoming to me as a teacher new to her school. I used to come in and get coffee each morning, the big stainless steel coffee urn residing in her janitorial closet/office. Her philosophy on coffee was similar to wine—let it age. In fact, she never actually washed her coffee cup, preferring the complex maturity of countless java beans. One of my best memories of Sandy was when I dropped a coffee cup I had been given to by my father, one he had when we were in Berlin, hand-painted with the dates “1964-1967” and his rank in the army. It shattered into dozens of pieces on the cafeteria floor and I apologized as she came out to clean up the mess. A few days later she presented to me a painstakingly glued-together cup. It must have taken hours. It still sits on my desk.

By far the best secretary I’ve ever worked with is Barb, who I’ve worked with probably ten years. She is the most selfless, professional, conscientious, and competent professional I have worked with in public education. She’s never flustered, works evenhandedly in any imaginable circumstance, deals with difficult parents, teachers, and students with aplomb, is first to arrive and last to leave, and never, never promotes herself. She cleans the staff lounge, loads the dishwasher, and organizes the teachers’ workroom each morning before her day actually begins. She’s exactly who I want—who anyone would want—interacting with the public. I frequently refer to her as “a saint.” If our administrator doesn't show up to work, no big deal, but if Barb doesn't show up an unease pervades the building as people feel a void, the absence of a vital and indispensable part of our school.

We’re all--certificated and classified--working on behalf of public education, each of us in our own specific and vital roles.

Happy Classified Employees Week!



Monday, March 11, 2013

Student Behaviors Exclude Students


A front-page news article in the Seattle Times yesterday introduced an African-American high school student who was disciplined for using a laser pen, in order to personalize the U.S. Department of Education’s study of “whether the more frequent discipline of African-American students in Seattle public schools constitutes discrimination” (“Seeking An Even Hand at Discipline,” 3/10/13 Seattle Times).  If what was reported is true—that a good student who is black with a spotless discipline record was being suspended for playing with a toy, while other white students committing similar offenses were not being similarly punished—then, yes, this seems quite disturbing and in need of remedy.  However, reporters often don’t have or want the whole story, and frequently those profiled in media have an agenda.  The news article casually and repeatedly stated—as if it is proven fact—that teachers do not respect students of color and that racism is a factor in the discipline and academic achievement gap. 

Concurrently, the Senate is considering a bill to reduce the number of suspensions and expulsions while requiring schools to design better student behavior management systems.

Both the federal probe and the legislative initiative assume that classroom teachers are at fault when students misbehave to the point of being excluded from the classroom setting.  What’s needed, it is argued, is better training in cultural differences and dealing with diverse students--basically, even more accountability in the schools.

I believe what’s needed instead is clear expectations and consistent consequences for all students.  For those who repeatedly disrupt the classroom, they need to be excluded so that they do not prevent the vast majority of other students who behave from learning and the teacher from exercising his or her craft.  If either SB 5244 or the Education Department’s scrutiny succeeds in pushing discipline problems back to the classroom, both teachers and well-behaving students will suffer as learning time is hijacked by poorly-behaving students, their parents, and their misguided advocates.

The move to limit or eliminate student exclusion again places unreasonable expectations and working conditions on teachers while absolving students themselves for their own behaviors, parents, and those in society who believe that teachers ought to be society’s repairmen.  

This is another reason why teachers should not be evaluated on the basis of their students’ success or lack thereof, why TPEP is a very bad idea, since we have little—and apparently will have even less—control of the major factors which are necessary for success—good behavior being fundamental.

(The attached op-ed piece is by a Seattle school teacher whose point of view is right on target on the crucial need to exclude misbehaving students).

Op-ed: For the good of a class, student suspensions are needed

Sunday, March 10, 2013

WEA Leadership


Former chancellor of Washington, D.C. public schools Michele Rhee wrote an op-ed piece for the Seattle Times this week.  In her editorial, she continues to advance her core argument that public schools are failing, that unions prevent poor teachers from being removed, and that assessment and data should not only drive instruction but should be the measures by which teachers and schools should be judged.  She writes, “It is criminal that, in many communities throughout America, we send children every day into classrooms that are failing them.”  Rhee was commenting specifically on Seattle’s Garfield high school teachers’ grassroots protest against one assessment, the Measurement of Academic Progress.  She mistakenly believes that the protest is led and organized by the union, in this case the WEA.

Rhee taught for only three years, after being trained for 5 weeks in the Teach for America program.  She exited teaching as quickly as possible to set up a company that trained teachers and then later inexplicably parlayed her self-promotion into educational leadership.  She’s now seen as an expert on public education by many.

I believe that we should use the WEA’s organizational potency to lead a well-thought-out and well-planned series of coordinated actions in service of our core values, to counter those—like Rhee—who work tirelessly against us, and to begin to bend the dominant narrative away from a corporate view of public education to one that is more liberal, progressive, and humane.  

Saturday, March 9, 2013

View All Products

One of the criticisms I have of the WEA's support of the new evaluation system is that huge amounts of money are being diverted to professional development and away from more critical needs that directly impact students (such as class size, curriculum, or student support). The canard we've been sold is that many children are failing because public schools are failing--and public schools are failing because there are many incompetent teachers who have been shielded from accountability and removal by unions. If only all of those bad teachers--and there must be veritable hordes--could be dismissed and the remainder be improved, there would be no more failure.

This simply is not true.

After the first few years, most teachers figure out how to teach or they leave the profession. They also figure out that most professional development is repetitive, repackaged, and marketing the latest elixir touting "The Answer" to a gullible population. Public education has always been a tempting and rewarding corpulent cash cow with a bulging udder to savvy hucksters.

The new evaluation system requires all school districts to adopt an instructional framework. The screenshot is of one of those, Marzano. Can you imagine the bonanza for these select companies that are in the business of selling their books, DVDs, online access, consultants, etc.?

Teachers don't need endless professional development to teach "better." Most professionals work on their craft in conscientious and continuous ways--usually in spite of the latest regurgitated drivel dressed up as PD.

I believe if Johnny indeed can't read (or cipher or spell or understand civics or . . .), Johnny and Johnny's parents and Johnny's legislators and Johnny's society need to do their jobs.

We're already--and have been--doing ours. Where's WEA's messaging on that?




Sunday, March 3, 2013

How Not to Define Good Teaching

The latest draft of how to determine whether or not a teacher is any good. Here, too, is an example of suggested contractual language to implement the new evaluation system:

"7. When a final criterion score includes a fractional number (for example 2.3), all scores with fractionals below .5 will be rounded down and all fractionals .5 or above will be rounded up, for example, a score of 2.33 would receive a final criterion score of 2 and a score of 2.5 would receive a final criterion score of 3."

This is not my definition of good teaching.

WEA Should be a Professional, Non-partisan Organization


One of the reasons I am running to be WEA president is to re-position the WEA as a professional, non-partisan organization. We should not be a wing of the Democratic Party. Many of our members are either Republicans, not Democrats, or unaffiliated. We should hold elected officials accountable to our agenda and our core values, regardless of party and not be a sycophant to any politician or political group.

Too often, we demonize those with whom we disagree and lionize those with whom we agree.  I frequently receive communications from my UniServ council, WEA and NEA using cartoonish characterizations of usually non-Democratic officials.  And occasionally from WEA and often from NEA I am confronted with my state and national organizations taking stands on issues that have nothing to do with public education (such as abortion or immigration policies in other states or solar energy or Geronimo Pratt).  This divisive approach needlessly alienates members who, in the unified dues structure, are forced to belong to the regional, state, and national organizations if they want to belong to their local association.

As one example, President Obama was prematurely endorsed before he announced his reelection bid.  Last July, he was less than one mile from the Washington, D.C. convention center and chose not to address the NEA-RA--the nation's largest democratic deliberative body and most significant public education organization.  NEA president Dennis van Roekel was giddy when he accepted a phone call from the president.  van Roekel should instead have held the president accountable for his competitive grant approach (Race to the Top) to funding public education and his continuance of Arne Duncan as education secretary.  Had Obama actually shown up to the RA, I would have lustily booed him.  Some of his education policies need a good booing.

Our organizations should advance our agendas in serious, consistent, non-lick-spittle and non-partisan ways.  We should debate and disagree, organize and engage with all officials who would affect public education.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Lipstick on a Pig

This is a worksheet that I created to help my HR director and lead bargainer as the three of us try to write contractual language to implement the new evaluation system. According to the legislature and to prevailing views throughout the country, this is what good teaching looks like.

WEA's legislative priority this session is to secure full funding and full implementation of this view of teaching.

Yes, WEA has succeeded in (perhaps) blunting the worst of this odious and onerous approach, but putting lipstick on a pig and calling it Beyoncé doesn't change the fact one iota that it's still a pig.