Twenty years ago, Chicago was in the process of one of the greatest — and most misguided — experiments ever attempted to reform public education in America. It was an effort to completely reshape city schools in the image of the market by emphasizing school-to-school competition, merit-based pay, and a disastrous game of survival of the fittest by closing schools that didn’t test well or meet certain criteria set by the business class. If successful, it would have reshaped Chicago in what would later become the new normal in New Orleans, where the city swapped its public schools for charters after reformers took hold following Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
When Baltimore City Schools announced last week that 25 schools will reopen next month to increase in-person instruction for high need students, officials promised it could be done safely and with transparency. The district has received little guidance from state or federal authorities on how to reopen safely, and teachers, who will be required to return to the classroom, say they were blindsided by the announcement. They are now calling attention to problems with the recent reopening of Student Learning Centers (SLC) as an example of their concerns.
The executive council of the American Federation of Teachers has voted to pursue various tactics—including strikes—to keep schools from reopening for in-person instruction without proper safety measures. "If authorities don't protect the safety and health of those we represent and those we serve, as our executive council voted last week, nothing is off the table—not advocacy or protests, negotiations, grievances or lawsuits, or, if necessary and authorized by a local union, as a last resort, safety strikes," said AFT President Randi Weingarten in a Tuesday speech during the national teachers' union's biennial convention. The resolution passed by the 45-member council says that school buildings can only open in places where the average daily community infection rate among those tested for COVID-19 is below 5 percent and the transmission rate is below 1 percent, and where there is effective contact tracing. Safeguards also need to be put in place, the AFT says...
The president of the Texas branch of the American Federation of Teachers says that going on strike is an option if teachers are forced back into the classroom this fall without proper precautions for COVID-19. As of right now, Texas is planning on sending students back to campuses when the fall semester starts. As new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations skyrocket, teachers are afraid. “I had already been sick with respiratory illness almost the entire year, so I think I may have a health problem, but I was unable to get to the bottom of it due to COVID and not wanting to go out to a lot of appointments,” one teacher who asked to remain anonymous told Reform Austin. “I have no faith in our governor to make the right call, especially after he screwed us over with the reopening, and his announcement that we’ll be back in person in the fall no matter what is highly irresponsible— it would be laughable if it weren’t so damn tragic.”
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The union representing public school teachers in Philadelphia is suing the district over its handling of asbestos contamination in schools, the union said Monday. The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers suit comes after the city school district was forced to close a north Philadelphia elementary school for a second time Friday after tests demanded by teachers and union leaders showed elevated levels of asbestos, a known carcinogen, in the air.
A union representing over 30,000 teachers in Los Angeles, California has threatened a massive walkout to demand higher salaries, smaller class sizes, and a moratorium on new charter schools. The strike is expected to take place Monday. United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) had warned they would strike in the city's 900 public schools Thursday if an agreement was not reached before then. On Wednesday, however, the teacher’ union delayed the walk-out after officials with the Los Angeles Unified School District said they had not been given a legally required 10-day notice of the labor action. A judge refused to rule on the issue Wednesday, saying that the LAUSD's court papers had been incorrectly filed.
Over 800,000 students in both traditional public schools and charter schools and are expected to be impacted by the walkout, as their schools will likely be closed until an agreement over pay and classroom funding is reached between teachers and Arizona’s governor and legislators. So far, Republican Gov. Doug Ducey has proposed a 20 percent raise, to be gradually phased in by 2020. Strike organizers, though, including the grassroots group Arizona Educators United, say that the 20 percent pay raise meets only one of their five demands, and effectively cuts non-licensed school staff out of the deal because only teachers’ salaries would see an increase. The teachers’ demands are available online and include a pledge that taxes not be cut in Arizona until “per-pupil spending reaches the national average.”
By Staff of AP - MEXICO CITY (AP) — A Mexican court allowed two leaders of a radical teachers union to leave prison Friday on a form of bail following weeks of protests by supporters over their arrests and recent education reforms that include mandatory teacher evaluations. Attorney General Arely Gomez said the court did not absolve the men but rather freed them while legal proceedings continue. She denied on Friday that their release was politically motivated. Protest blockades by teachers and their supporters have blocked roads and rail lines for weeks, mainly in the states of Chiapas, Oaxaca and Michoacan, causing millions of dollars in losses for business and commerce.
By Staff of The Zinn Education Project - In May, the Portland, Oregon school board passed the country’s first comprehensive “climate justice” resolution. The school board voted unanimously to “abandon the use of any adopted text material that is found to express doubt about the severity of the climate crisis or its root in human activities,” and called for all schools to teach a “climate justice” curriculum. The Portland resolution said that students in city schools “should develop confidence and passion when it comes to making a positive difference in society
By CTU Communications for Chicago Teachers Union - “Late last week teachers, PSRPs, clinicians—members of the CTU—voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike. The actual result was just over 96 percent of those voting marked ‘yes’ with a 92 percent turnout. Rahm, Forrest Claypool—listen to what teachers and educators are trying to tell you: do not cut the schools anymore, do not make the layoffs that you have threatened; instead, respect educators and give us the tools we need to do our jobs. In particular: Improve the teaching and learning conditions by reducing standardized testing, eliminate time-sucking compliance paperwork, and restore professional respect and autonomy to teachers on matters like grades. These improvements cost nothing...
By Jesse Hagopian in Diane Ravitch - On Sunday evening, thousands of Seattle Education Association members gathered in a general membership meeting and voted to approve a new contract with the Seattle Public Schools. This vote officially ended the strike by Seattle educators, which began on September 10, 2015, and interrupted the first five days of school. This new contract contains many hard fought wins for social justice that the school district said it would never grant. These groundbreaking victories are against the abuses of high-stakes standardized testing, for more recess, and for race and equity teams in the schools are a dramatic departure from our pervious broken model of collective bargaining and hold the potential to transform educator unionism in the nation.
By Adrienne Bankert in ABC7 - A crowd of protesters with United Teachers Los Angeles held a rally outside The Broad on the museum's opening day Sunday. Hundreds of parents, teachers and students clad in red T-shirts held up signs and chanted outside the new contemporary art museum, which opened its doors to the public Sunday morning. The protesters said they are not against the museum but are against Eli Broad's reported plan to try to expand charter schools throughout the city of Los Angeles. Broad reportedly plans to put between half a billion and a billion dollars into unregulated, non-union charter schools, that could draw half of the district's students. The teachers' union fears these schools would not be accountable to the public, would cherry-pick their students, and keep parents from being able to interact with teachers.