Monday, June 25, 2012

American Educator: Labor's Untold Story: A Textbook Case of Neglect and Distortion - -- Shanker Blog (@shankerblog)

Labor's Untold Story

American Educator: Labor's Untold Story: A Textbook Case of Neglect and Distortion - -- Shanker Blog (@shankerblog)

Labor Union History Albert Shanker Blog

Our original report on the portrayal of labor unions in U.S. history textbooks: -- Shanker Blog (@shankerblog)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Book Excerpt

Capitalism clearly goes beyond economics. It's impossible to talk about capitalism without talking about political and social viewpoints. Capitalism is rooted in views about individual rights, liberty and human nature. In theoretical capitalism, the world revolves around the individual, the individual is inherently good, and individual self-interest benefits society as a whole.

­            But what happens in the actual practice of capitalism is sometimes quite a different story. With the establishment of an owner class and a working class, the distribution of wealth becomes extremely uneven. When the laborer is dependent on the capitalist for his livelihood then   distrust, anger and unrest may develop. These basic truths have led to the end of pure capitalism throughout the world. What we now call capitalism is in fact a mixed economy. The exclusion of government from economics just didn't work.

I want to emphasize that there is no social welfare in capitalism.  Even though America has a mixed economy, individuals can still fund and create their own business enterprises if the resources are available.  People can still create an idea which in turn can create a company or an industry for that matter.  If a business becomes successful, then the opportunity to make money becomes apparent.  The problem with capitalism is that greed can become an issue at some point.  The business owners or industrialists main goal is to amass profits.  All the decision making decisions are based on profits!  Workers, and wages and anything that has to do with worker welfare become less important.  In essences, you will have an elite class of people in society.  However, the wage workers or laborers will form the majority.  I know that this cliché “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer” has been heard before.  In modern times, this cliché has become more and more apparent as the years progress. 

By now I know that the readers of this book are wondering what all of this has to do with education.  Why are owners and laborers important to the issue of educating our children?  I felt it important to establish a foundation of capitalism.  I just want everyone to understand that people in society are most likely going to be members of the working or laboring class.  Most people don’t own large resources of capital.  The majority of Americans have worked for most of their lives until they are of retirement age.  During people’s productive years, they have probably established some type of long term savings account.  Hopefully it is enough money or capital to live on once retirement has occurred.  Most people try and use their resources wisely.   I want to emphasize that in order for these conditions to occur, an individual needed to acquire a job that paid a decent salary.  Most of these jobs required specific skills sets; therefore, additional training after high school is necessary.  Most of the additional training is acquired from a college, university or vocational school. 

What a Novel Idea! (Reading)


Massive college debt can burden graduates for decades: Higher education costs are being passed on to students an... -- Michael Bale (@CustomEssay_Org)

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The New Drugging of America

The New Drugging of America

Doctor and Science Editor

The CDC reports that the relatively recent epidemic of opium-addiction is now America's fastest growing drug problem. The source of most of these opiates is not the foreign cartels, traffickers and drug dealers depicted in Hollywood movies; it is pharmacies fulfilling prescriptions written by often well-meaning doctors for Vicodin, Oxycontin, Oxycodone, and other opoid pain relievers. According to the CDC, enough of these opiate-based drugs were prescribed last year to medicate every American adult with a dose of five mg of hydrocodone (Vicodin and others), taken every four hours, for a month, and have led to over 40,000 drug overdose deaths. Today there are more overdose deaths involving opoid analgesics than heroin and cocaine combined, and the public consumption of them costs health insurers approximately $72.5 billion annually. The urgent problem is the addiction of a vast number of patients whose pain but not their underlying causes are managed. While the consequences of this prescription-driven epidemic may be largely invisible to the general public, it is all too clear to doctors like myself who specialize in sports medicine, physiatry and the treatment of a range of painful conditions.

Just recently a 71-year-old patient saw me for a painful swollen knee. One year previously she had undergone total knee replacement and after the post surgical discomfort had subsided, the knee pain began. She explained that her surgeon prescribed she continue her physical therapy, but the pain worsened. She went back to her surgeon, who then prescribed Oxycontin, an opiate pain reliever. When the initial dose did little to relieve the pain, she was told to increase her dose, and continued to do so over the next two months. By the time she sought my help, not only was still in pain, but she had become addicted to the medication. The problem, which not unusual in such cases, is that the opoid had partially masked the underlying problem. I had requested a knee MRI, which found chronic synovial inflammation of her knee, which is treatable with steroid injections. By judicially providing this treatment, the inflammation was relieved and pain was gone. But not the addiction. For that, she needed a 30 day in-patient rehabilitation center to safely detoxify her and help her reform her drug habit.

I wish I could say that this case is atypical but unfortunately, it is not. Such addiction is becoming common. Part of the problem is doctors. Some busy surgeons find it more efficient to write a prescription that might work for the pain, than to spend time attempting to find its cause. Another part of the problem is patients. Many sufferers demand immediate pain relief, and, instead of fully following their doctor's advice, increase the dosage by seeking prescriptions from multiple doctors. Part of the problem is the government's failure to better police prescriptions. But whatever the causes of this epidemic, the results are tragic for the patients, especially since with rigorous evaluation many of the cause of the pain can be solved -- and without recourse to opiate drugs.

We are no longer a country of the people,by the people and for the people.We are becoming a country of the rich,by the rich and for the rich -- Loco_NUTT (@LOCO_NUTT)

Where organized labor goes, so do the wages of all working people, union or not. If unions die, so does the middle class #wiunion #labor -- Brian Austin (@Cops4Labor)

I have to say for the record that Capitalism and Education are intertwined! You cannot reform one system without reforming the other! -- todney harris (@teachermant)

The elite are taking the democracy out of education! Battlegrounds: America's War in Education and Finance, A View From the Front Lines -- todney harris (@teachermant)

Destroying A Cohesive America

by EdwardBerger on June 23, 2012

We are experiencing what it takes to destroy a Nation that was unified by its educational system. How is this being done? They start by destroying our public schools to gain access to children’s minds and program them to be fodder for a new order. The movement grows by placing corporations above individuals and ensuring that the people behind corporate acts are invisible and not held responsible. They use media to misrepresent the facts and make people believe that our educational system has totally failed. They subvert Representative Democracy by controlling elected representatives and writing self-serving legislation and new laws for them to put in place. They use States Rights issues to take control of state governments. They rewrite textbooks and curriculum to reflect the values of their order, and new interpretations of our history and of the Constitution. They use religion to justify political positions. They destroy unions and worker’s representation. They financially sway elections and buy their minions into key positions.

No, I am not parroting Adolph Hitler’s takeover of Germany. No, I am not outlining what Stalin and his minions did in Russia. No, I am not regurgitating the creeds of Fascism, although those models are being put into place in America, right now.

As a result of the extreme right’s destruction of schools, creation of partial schools, introduction of new curricula, and the discrediting of educators and those they do not control, Americans are experiencing the most serious threat ever to individual rights and a free society.

On Obama’s watch, tens of thousands of children are losing their shot at the American Dream, as comprehensive, interdisciplinary, curriculum-based, fact-based schools are destroyed, and partial, fact-adverse and limited curricula schools are put in place. Obama inherited this Bush-era nightmare, but his administration has not stopped it. It will take the complete focus of his leadership to repair the damage already done. If he does not reestablish a cohesive educational system, the dreams of a twisted few will guide the corporate powers and America will lose its promise.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Bullied Grandmother

This video shows everything that has gone wrong with modern parenting....respect begins and ends at home!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Hoyer: Republicans Will Sink America To Drown Obama

Add House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) to the list of high profile Democrats who are publicly accusing Republicans of intentionally undermining the economy in order to defeat President Obama.
“There’s no intention on behalf of the Republicans in the House of Representatives to try to help the president move this country forward,” Hoyer told a small group of reporters in his Capitol office on Thursday morning. “I quote Jesse Jackson, who I thought said it best, there are a lot people in Washington who want to drown the captain and are prepared to sink the ship in order to do so.”
Hoyer joins Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and others who say the House GOP’s refusal to adopt even bipartisan measures like funding for transportation projects, and the renewed brinksmanship over the debt limit suggest that Republicans are engaged in deliberate economic sabotage.

Mcdonald's Prepping up Burgers for photo shoot

Check Out What McDonald's Does To Its Burgers Before They Appear In Ads

Read more:

Fast food advertising is famous for the discrepancies between what the food looks like in the ad, and what it looks like in real-life.

McDonald's Canada has released a video on YouTube that takes you behind the scenes of a typical photo shoot for one of its advertisements—detailing exactly McDonald's does to make its burgers look so much better than they do in stores.

It was an unexpectedly transparent response to a customer who asked, "Why does your food look different in the advertising than what is in the store?"

Right to privacy issue! The Supreme Court got it right!

 Mad props to both Scalia and Sotomayor on this one. It's one of the most refreshing, solidly argued decisions in years. There's gonna be some fireworks from SCOTUS in the very near future, it's nice to know they often get 'em right.

Lisa Brown: Silenced for saying (shock!) 'vagina'

Lisa Brown: Silenced for saying (shock!) 'vagina'

   By Lisa Brown, Special to CNN

Editor's note: Lisa Brown is serving her second term as a state representative for Michigan, representing the 39th District, which includes Commerce Township, West Bloomfield and Wolverine Lake.

(CNN) -- One week ago, the Michigan House of Representatives was taking up some of the most restrictive anti-choice legislation in the country. It was in the context of this bill that I said, "Finally Mr. Speaker, I'm flattered that you're all so interested in my vagina, but 'no' means 'no.'"

You can watch me say that here. My comment is made around the 1:50 mark, and you can see exactly how the legislators seated behind me reacted. While there was a scatter of applause from my colleagues, there were no dropped jaws, bulging eyes or fainting. In fact, the only remarkable thing about their response is that there was virtually no response at all.

Not until the next day. That's when I got word that Republican House leaders had banned me and my colleague Rep. Barb Byrum from speaking on the House floor. I was shocked.

Given my speech, I could only assume it was because I spoke to my Jewish values or because I had said vagina. But later that day, Rep. Mike Callton told the press that what I had said was so vile, so disgusting, that he could never bear to mention it in front of women or "mixed company."

Since we share the same religion, I'm guessing he wasn't referring to my kosher sets of dishes. Even though Callton has a bachelor's degree in biology and worked as a chiropractor, it was the word "vagina" that did him in.

As a storm of protest grew against our silencing and women across the state started to rally around my use of the word vagina, Republicans changed course. They insisted they had no problem with vaginas. Byrum and I were being punished for our lack of decorum. We were accused of throwing a "temper tantrum."

Take another look at the video. Do you see a temper tantrum? Does that look like a group of people shocked by what we said or how we behaved?

When complaints about our banning picked up pace, Republicans tried again. This time, their story was that I was kept from speaking because I said "no means no."
As Republicans continued to throw mud against the wall to see what stuck, they only made it worse for themselves. Thousands of women, not only in Michigan but across the country and even around the globe, saw exactly what was going on. What they saw was a male-dominated legislative body going to great lengths to silence two women who dared speak in opposition to a measure that would limit access to our health care. They saw it, and they didn't like it.

Among the people watching this unfold was Eve Ensler, who wrote the award-winning play, "The Vagina Monologues." Ensler, who has worked for nearly 20 years to empower women and undo the shame many of us are taught to feel toward our bodies, didn't just see a group of mostly male legislators freaking out about "vagina." She saw them trying to shut women up at the same time they were trying to pass laws about our health.

She wouldn't stand for it. That's why she came to Lansing this week to lead a performance of "The Vagina Monologues." Thousands of men, women and children showed up to see it and show their support for Byrum and me.

In the aftermath of this, Rep. Jim Stamas, whose job it was to issue the edict against me, said he "honestly had no idea it would become such an issue." I find it amazing that a fellow legislator wouldn't understand why it's outrageous not to just silence me, but my 90,000 constituents.

I hope he and his fellow Republicans get it now. If not, the election this November will surprise them even more.

For All Creative Writers!

Ryan Grim: Drops Michelle Rhee Group Under Pressure From Progressives

Ryan Grim: Drops Michelle Rhee Group Under Pressure From Progressives

June 19, 2012 21:16:00

WASHINGTON -- In a surprising reversal,, the progressive online powerhouse that channels grassroots energy into petition-based activism, has dropped two anti-union clients, including Michelle Rhee's StudentsFirst, according to multiple sources familiar with the decision.

The move comes after intense pressure from the labor movement and other progressive allies, who accused the for-profit company of betraying its liberal roots by partnering with Rhee, the former head of Washington, D.C., public schools, and the similarly aligned group Stand for Children headed by education advocate Jonah Edelman. The ouster of StudentsFirst and Stand for Children was confirmed by a spokesman.

Leaders of Rhee's group were outraged. "We're surprised at their decision," Nancy Zuckerbrod, spokeswoman for StudentsFirst, told HuffPost. "When we spoke to them this afternoon, they couldn't point to a single one of our petitions on their site that violated either the terms of use or spirit of their organization. Not a single one. In fact, they said they agreed that much of the work of our members were in line with the progressive values of the organization. And it's clear that the community does as well, as tens of thousands of them signed our petitions fighting for the civil rights of all children to receive a high-quality education. For instance, more than 47,000 people signed our petition in support of the Dream Act, compared to fewer than 4,000 who signed the heavily organized protest petition on a different site against Stand for Children."'s meteoric rise has included a host of glowing profiles and the Time magazine stamp of approval when it named CEO and founder Ben Rattray one of the 100 most influential people in the world. It is staffed by some of the most talented progressive organizers in the country -- many of whom are well known and liked in the tight-knit liberal community, making the feud that much more bitter. And Edelman is the son of liberal champions Marian Wright Edelman and Peter Edelman.

StudentsFirst and Stand for Children oppose teachers unions as obstacles to education reform, and advocate on behalf of tying teacher pay to test scores and other student metrics. started working with Rhee's Students First in March 2011, five months after her resignation as Washington's public schools chancellor, and with Jonah Edelman's Stand for Children in October 2011.

Rhee's group, aware of its reputation as an enemy of organized labor, has consistently avoided activism around union issues on's platform, focusing instead on immigration reform, anti-bullying, and other issues that resonate with progressives and don't alienate labor. Labor officials and other Washington-based liberal activists have, over the course of the last year, been publicly and privately pressing to draw a line that refuses business from anti-union groups, just as it currently rejects business from organizations with an anti-immigrant or anti-gay bias. They made little progress until Stand for Children launched an anti-union petition.

It was's recent controversial petition, criticizing the Chicago Teachers’ Union vote two weeks ago to authorize a strike in the fall, that set off the current firestorm of protest. The letter, sent to the Chicago Board of Education and CTU President Karen Lewis, was authored by the Illinois chapter of Stand for Children:

400,000 Chicago students could be locked out of Chicago classrooms because contract negotiations are starting to break down, causing a premature strike-authorization vote to occur before anyone knows what is in the contract proposal. We strongly call for all parties to bargain in good faith to reach a new agreement. Don’t hold our students hostage in a negotiation where they have no voice!

The petition provoked a barrage of responses, with Chicago teacher Jennifer Johnson drafting a letter on a site,, to the founder of, demanding that the website "Stop Supporting Union-Busters." Johnson's letter has collected roughly 4,000 signatures. has used the controversy to promote its own petition project, which it notes is nonprofit and doesn't face the same pressures as a private company. (, despite its URL, is a for-profit company.) "We’re nonprofit, and we can’t be bought. is entirely funded by small donations from our members. And unlike other petition sites, we never promote petitions because someone paid us to -- we only promote the petitions that MoveOn members support," reads's mission statement, which MoveOn has been flogging to the progressive community.

The Washington-based progressive community has been attacking both publicly and privately. "For to claim to be a progressive organization or support the progressive movement while soliciting and accepting cash from corporate front groups is, at best, disingenuous," Aniello Alioto, national political director for ProgressNow, told HuffPost before the decision to drop Rhee was disclosed.

John Aravosis, who writes the pro-gay-rights, said that, despite its petition-based strategy, is still a political consulting firm -- a reality that liberals ought to recognize. "I'm glad they're not allowing anti-gay campaigns, but why allow anti-union?" Aravosis said. "You just don't do that. Big, evil consulting firms that liberals attack all the time do that. The netroots has found itself in bed with a typical old Washington organization that plays both sides, except they're built by the netroots, and we're supposed to be better than that." leaders, for their part, said they think some of the outrage resulted from a misunderstanding of the company's goal, which is not to spread American-style progressive values around the globe, but rather to empower as many people as possible under the theory that the world will be better as a result. By not embracing American progressivism, the company said it hopes to make its platform more welcoming to people around the globe who might see such an association as imperialist or anti-Muslim.

"At the heart of mission is an open, democratic philosophy: we believe our platform should be open to people from a range of viewpoints who share a common interest in changing their world for the better. It is in that spirit that we agreed to accept Stand for Children as a client," spokesman Benjamin Joffe-Walt told HuffPost. "In the last few days, we have listened closely to the community of users, who have voiced their concerns in response to this decision. After careful consideration, we have agreed to end the contract with Stand for Children, and the petition is now closed.

"At, we believe in open dialogue, and we try to listen as we grow. We appreciate that the broader community cares enough about our company to weigh in, foster discussion, and directly share their points of view with us. We're going to to pursue our strategy of empowering people around the world and are looking forward to tackling the difficult questions that all organizations face as they grow."

Zuckerbrod, of StudentsFirst, said that officials told the organization bluntly that the progressive pressure drove the decision.

"Instead of making this decision based on values and principles, they pointed to a number of business and operational factors with their high-value partners who were pressuring them to take this step," Zuckerbrod said. "We believe this is an unfortunate decision on their part, and we imagine a disconcerting one for progressives -- whether they agree with the work we are doing or not -- that instead of standing by their principles, is standing by their pocketbook.

"It’s the wrong decision -- and those are the wrong priorities -- but our million-plus grassroots members will continue to fight for the civil rights of children no matter what obstacles the status quo puts in front of us," Zuckerbrod continued. "As for -- we'll leave the anti-bullying petition we started up for their review."

UPDATE: 11:12 p.m. -- Stand for Children's petition is a "reasonable and measured request" for both sides in Chicago to reach an agreement, Sue Levin, the organization's chief marketing officer, said in an email. She added: is a company and today, they made a hasty business decision with which we strongly disagree.

In Chicago, Stand for Children will redouble our efforts to support an agreement that ensures that students get the longer school day they deserve while fairly compensating teachers for their hard work. Across the country, meanwhile, we will continue to work hard with parents and community members to improve our public schools so that all children, regardless of their background, can graduate from high school prepared for a college education.

Mary Anderson, Stand for Children's Illinois executive director, said the group's contract with was for "a really small promotional campaign" for $2,000.

Cole Stangler contributed reporting.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

I found this picture very funny! I would never actually give up anything though!

Too funny!

Shifting Assumptions About Teacher Evaluation and Professional Learning

Shifting Assumptions About Teacher Evaluation and Professional Learning

By Learning First Alliance on June 7, 2012 8:10 AM| 1 Comment

By Stephanie Hirsh, Executive Director of Learning Forward

I was at a conference recently and during a discussion period had the opportunity to dialogue with colleagues — we were seating ourselves according to our interests as indicated by table tents. As I approached the table labeled "teacher evaluation," I cheerfully remarked, "Oh, I can't sit with you. You won't want to talk about professional learning."

Oh no, my colleagues cried — sit with us! That's all we want to talk about. I realized I was holding an assumption that was out of date. When the teacher effectiveness conversation heated up many months ago, the focus swiftly turned to evaluation, without much mention of teacher support or growth.

Fortunately, however, many (though certainly not all) participants in this conversation have moved in the direction of recognizing the importance of teacher support as part of evaluation systems. Advocates for meaningful evaluation systems acknowledge that attending to the development of teacher knowledge and skills is essential on any pathway to improvement.

I am hopeful about this evolution in the discussion of building better teacher evaluation systems. And yet if results for all students remains our goal, our discussion of better professional learning cannot stop with attention to personalized professional learning attached to teacher evaluations. Effective professional learning systems impact more than one teacher at a time, they ensure every student is experiencing great teaching every day and that best practices are spreading from classroom to classroom and school to school. To be a truly transformative strategy, professional learning addresses three learning purposes at multiple levels.

1.      As addressed in current evaluation systems and decades of development efforts, professional learning addresses the needs of the individual educator. What does he or she need to know to best serve the students in his or her classroom? Yet without the next level of learning, the growth of the individual — and his or her potential for impact — remains limited.

2.      What do educators need at the team and school levels? Learning communities use data to identify where student learning gaps for both students and educators persist, explore what strategies have succeeded, how educators can gain them, and support each other in implementing and assessing the impact of their new knowledge and skills. As the team's collective knowledge grows, so does collective responsibility, and more students experience the collective impact of the intentional learning and application of the team and the entire school community.

3.      Finally, professional development for program implementation ensures that educators have the knowledge and skills to meet state, system, and often school improvement goals. Learning is aligned throughout the system and student goals and results are coherent. Teachers are clear on the expectations associated with program expectations. Families who move from school to school are assured that all teachers are consistently prepared and supported in implementing new curricula and assessments. Support is planned and delivered to ensure deep and successful implementation of district priorities.

Next time as I search for a table discussion, I hope to find many tents labeled professional learning, acknowledging that the most important subject all my colleagues address is how we build and sustain capacity for the important jobs we face daily. Then I will know our national attention is focused on the strategy with the greatest potential to ensure every child and every educator is receiving the support needed to be successful. 

Teachers Do the Talking By Melissa Bailey

When Obama’s top school official came to a city turnaround school, he popped a question: How do we get more Tamara Raifords “clamoring” to teach in low-performing schools?

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (pictured) heard several answers directly from New Haven teachers as he took part in a discussion Tuesday morning at the Brennan/Rogers School in West Rock.

Duncan didn’t come to town to give a speech. He played the role of interviewer in a 90-minute talk with school staff, students, union leaders and politicians in the school library.

After a full half-hour of congratulations between politicians, mostly focused on New Haven’s 2009 teachers’ contract that paved the way for new teacher evaluations and turnaround schools, teachers were invited to join the conversation in front of a bank of TV cameras.

Tamara Raiford (at right in the photo at the top of this story), who teaches pre-K at Brennan/Rogers, introduced herself as the only teacher in the district to leave a top-performing Tier I school to join a low-performing “turnaround.” She joined the school in 2010, as Brennan/Rogers launched a so-called turnaround effort, an experiment designed to reverse a trend of years of poor performance. As the school became the city’s first in-house turnaround, over half of the staff were replaced, and teachers were asked to sign up for a longer school day.

Raiford used to teach 1st grade at Davis Street Arts and Academics School, a top-performing Tier I school. A New Haven native, she became a teacher after working for over 10 years as a paraprofessional.

She said she chose Brennan/Rogers for “the challenge.”

Secretary Duncan listened to her tale and began an interview.

“The start of your statement I think was really profound—that you may have been the only Tier I teacher to make this switch. ... How do we as a teaching profession create a climate in which everyone is clamoring to come into schools like this ... where this is a badge of honor?”

If we wanted “100 of your colleagues from Tier I schools every single year to say ‘we’ve done a great job here and we want to replicate that work in communities that haven’t been so blessed,’ ... what do we need to do systemically to get a whole bunch more folks following the example that you’ve set?”

Raiford replied that her drive stemmed from instructors who inspired her and impressed upon her that teaching was far more than “a job.” She got lured to the job when the district approached paraprofessionals and offered free training at Gateway and Southern Connecticut State University that would lead to teaching certificates.

“No one becomes a teacher to get rich,” she added.

“We’re working on that,” Duncan replied.

Fifth-grade teacher Jennifer Dauphinais (pictured), a New Haven artist and musician who joined Brennan’s turnaround effort as part of a career change, gave Duncan two concrete answers.

First, she said, beef up teacher preparation programs so that teachers are ready to work in an urban environment. Dauphinais stressed the importance of her own training in urban ed: Before debuting as a co-teacher last school year at Brennan, she spent two years as an intern, working full-time in an urban school setting in South Norwalk. The two years of internships—unusual in the profession—were part of the Quinnipiac University Masters in Art and Teaching program. In addition to working days in a school, she took classes at night.

Dauphinais later said that classroom experience was vital in preparing a new teacher to do turnaround work in New Haven.

A third teacher, Kimberlee Henry, agreed that teachers who are not familiar with urban education are “not ready” for an environment like New Haven.

Joseph Cirasuolo, executive director of the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents, later picked up on Dauphinais’ point.

“Teachers need to spend a lot more time in the classroom” as part of their training, he said. His remark drew nods of support from the three teachers on the panel.

Right now, most teacher prep programs require only one semester of student teaching, according to New Haven teachers union president Dave Cicarella.

Cirasuolo called for shifting to a “medical school model,” or a “clinical model,” where teachers are tested in the classroom before earning certificates.

Randi Weingarten (pictured), president of the national American Federation of Teachers (AFT), agreed that teachers need preparation for “different kinds of environments,” including urban ones.

Sharon Palmer, head of the statewide AFT, called for bringing back a statewide program called TOPS, or Teaching Opportunities for Paraprofessional Staff, to create a pipeline for more teachers like Raiford. The program was defunded, she said.

“That’s a great point,” replied Duncan, who took over from U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro as the facilitator of the conversation.

Duncan’s visit came as part of the Department of Education’s RESPECT Project, which aims to elevate the teaching profession through conversations that empower teachers to inform policy.

“Despite the fact that teaching is intellectually demanding, rigorous, and complex work, too often American educators are not treated like professionals,” reads a DOE summary of the program. “They typically receive little real-world classroom experience before certification, and once in the profession, they are generally not effectively supported, appropriately compensated, or promoted based on their accomplishments. Too often, teachers find themselves in schools with cultures where inflexible work rules discourage innovation and restrict their opportunities to work together and take on leadership responsibilities.”

Click here to read more about the project.

Duncan called New Haven’s work on the teacher contract, and its continued collaboration between labor and management, a “success story.”

Additional Changes Made to Public Act12-116 in June 12, 2012 Special Session


SB 501

Commissioner’s Network:

· Changes the definition of an “approved not-for-profit educational management organization,” which can be chosen to manage a network school by removing the restriction that a not-for-profit organization with experience and a record of success in improving student achievement for low-income or low-performing students must be located out of the state. (done for New Haven Federation of Teachers).

· Permits the commissioner to approve a turnaround plan for another network school for the 2012-2013 school year that assigns the school management, administration or governance to an approved not-for-profit organization (done for New Haven Federation of Teachers).

· The original bill bans a not-for-profit educational management organization chosen to manage a network school from employing the school's principal, administrators, and teachers. SB 501 expands this to prohibiting them from employing any person who works at the school. (done for PSRP members)

Teacher Evaluation:

· Requires districts to adopt teacher evaluation programs consistent with the new SBE-approved guidelines (PEAC) by September 1, 2013, unless they receive a waiver from SBE.

Connecticut Technical High Schools:

· Removes interim budget process for CTHSS and instead allows the new CTHSS board to review and amend proposed budgets from the superintendent. Retains original provisions to require proposed school budgets to be forwarded to the General Assembly.

· Technical and clarifying language on collective bargaining timelines in network schools, the payment of state charter school grants and the payment of ECS grant increases for Alliance Districts.

HB 6001

School Based Health Centers:

· Requires each school-based health center (SBHC) that receives funding from the Department of Public Health to enter into an agreement with the board of education to establish minimum standards for the frequency and content of communications between the SBHC and the school's nurses or nurse practitioners.

Teachers’ Retirement Board:

· Requires the federal subsidies Teachers’ Retirement Board (TRB) receives under Medicare Part D to offset the state's required contribution to the cost of the TRB basic plan premium.

Common Core:

· Requires boards of education, in collaboration with the Board of Regents for Higher Education (BOR) and the UConn Board of Trustees, to develop a plan to align Connecticut's common core state standards with college-level programs at Connecticut public higher education institutions.

· Requires the State Department of Education, in collaboration with BOR and the UConn Board of Trustees, to develop a pilot program to incorporate the common core standards into priority school district curricula.

Grant Programs for Educational Reform Districts:

· Health: Requires the education commissioner to establish a pilot program to provide grants to 2 educational reform districts the commissioner selects to coordinate school health, education, and wellness and reduce childhood obesity.

· Wrap Around Services: Requires the education commissioner, within available appropriations, to establish a program to provide grants to educational reform for: (1) social-emotional behavioral supports, (2) family involvement and support, (3) student engagement, (4) physical health and wellness, and (5) social work and case management. It allows an educational reform district's school board to apply for a grant when and how the commissioner prescribes.

· Parent Engagement: Requires SDE to provide grants for a parent university pilot program in two educational reform districts the education commissioner selects. Each parent university must provide educational opportunities for parents both district-wide and for those whose children attend certain schools and who live in certain neighborhoods. Allows SDE to accept private donations for the program as long as they do not limit the scope of the grants.

· Science: Requires the education commissioner to establish a grant program, within available appropriations, for educational reform districts to improve the academic performance of students in kindergarten through 8th grade in science, reading, and numeracy.

· Nutrition: Requires the education commissioner to establish a school nutritional rating system pilot grant program to be implemented in school districts for the school years commencing July 1, 2012, and July 1, 2013. The commissioner may accept private donations for purposes of the nutritional rating system grant program.

Professional Development:

· Authorizes up to $ 500,000 in unexpended school readiness funds from each fiscal year to be used for the provision of early childhood professional development offered by a professional development and program improvement system within the Connecticut State University System.

Alliance Districts:

· Requires alliance districts to maintain a minimum level of annual local funding for education and establishes a separate minimum budget requirement (MBR) for such districts.

Bridgeport Loan:

· Allows the education commissioner to loan up to $ 3. 5 million to Bridgeport . The city must include the money in its budgeted appropriation for education for FY 12 and use it to cover education expenses incurred during that year. As conditions of the loan, the education commissioner:

o Must require board of education to select the school district's superintendent from a pool of up to three candidates approved by the commissioner and

o May require the district to include additional process or outcome targets in its alliance district improvement plan

o The city must repay the loan by June 30, 2015, but the education commissioner may:

§ Allow repayment through reductions in Bridgeport 's ECS grant in each year of the loan's three-year term and

§ Forgive all or part of the loan if (a) the city complies with the loan conditions and (b) the commissioner has approved its alliance district improvement plan.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Recall in Wisconsin (David Green)

David Gergen is a senior political analyst for CNN and has been an adviser to four presidents. He is a professor of public service and director of the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. Follow him on Twitter. Michael Zuckerman is his research assistant.

(CNN) -- If Republican Gov. Scott Walker wins his recall election Tuesday in Wisconsin, conservatives will rightly claim a major victory against public employee unions. But for the country's sake, it will be far better if this struggle remains a fight rather than all-out war.

The Wisconsin vote is widely seen on the right as the second most important election of 2012. It was ignited when Walker pushed through a budget repair bill to curb the public employee unions. One key provision prohibited the unions from engaging in collective bargaining about anything other than pay (firefighters and police were exempted). Another provision says that a civil servant can no longer be forced to join a union and pay dues; there must be freedom of choice.

That set off a firestorm of protests, turning the state capital upside down. Hundreds of vociferous protesters occupied the Wisconsin Statehouse, Democratic legislators bolted to Illinois to try to deny a quorum, and tens of thousands took to the streets.

For a while, it looked as if Walker had gone too far. Wisconsinites needed just 540,000 valid signatures to trigger a recall against him; they gathered more than 900,000. Public polls in May 2011 showed Walker with a dismal 42% approval rating vs. 55% disapproval. The mainstream media portrayed the recall as a huge showdown over collective bargaining rights and were often sympathetic to the protesters. Walker seemed headed toward defeat this June.

But in the many months since, the mood has changed. One of us (David Gergen) spent two days recently in visits to Madison, Green Bay and Milwaukee. Sentiment was often strong for Walker, especially among small-business owners. People agreed that new laws have helped to reduce government costs at a state and local level and that the economic outlook is somewhat better.

Some told stories of teachers who were happier now that they didn't have to pay union dues and had more freedom. The Wall Street Journal has reported that membership in the state's second largest public union, the American Federation of State, Country and Municipal Employees, fell from 62,818 in March 2011 to 28,745 this February; the union disputes the figure, but no one disagrees that the unions have been losing members.

With Walker leading by a Real Clear Politics average of 6.4% against his opponent, Democrats have aggressively tried to argue that the vote isn't really a referendum on Walker's reforms but rather about a host of more local issues.

Don't be fooled: This recall is centrally about the public sector union fight, and it is important. If Walker survives handily in the state that gave us one of the nation's legendary progressives, "Fighting Bob" La Follette, as well as the first public-sector, collective-bargaining agreement, it will be hard to deny that the nation is speaking. And if Walker wins by more than 5 percentage points, a state that voted overwhelmingly for Barack Obama in 2008 and seemed headed for the president's column again will turn deep purple.

The winds of change are blowing. Public employee unions have traditionally been well-regarded since they started up a half-century ago. A New York Times poll in February 2011 showed that a considerable majority still looks upon them with favor.

But in recent years -- from "rubber rooms" for teachers who can't be fired in New York City to the prison workers unions in California that helped to drive prison spending to nearly the same level as all higher education in the state -- resentments have been stirring against the power and alleged abuses of public sector unions. Too often in the past, critics argue, governors and mayors have signed on to sweetheart pension and health care deals for the unions -- the same groups who helped them get elected.

Now with huge bills mounting and governments broke, a backlash is growing, led by Republican governors. Gov. Chris Christie's dust-ups with the public sector unions in New Jersey have won no awards for congeniality, but he is pushing forward and his approval has recently been as high as 59%, an astounding number in a relatively blue state. Gov. Mitch Daniels in Indiana has also enjoyed public support for his efforts to trim union power.

In Ohio, voters went the other way in a November 2011 referendum, rejecting Gov. John Kasich's public sector reforms. Some see the Wisconsin vote on Walker as a rubber match; Walker himself has compared his efforts to Ronald Reagan's battle with the air traffic controllers -- a pivotal moment in Reagan's presidency.

Republicans are not alone in this struggle. Notably, New York's Democratic governor, Andrew Cuomo, has been waging a vigorous campaign to reduce the state's financial commitments to union pension and health plans, and Gov. Jerry Brown has been forced in the same direction in California. Democratic mayors, such as Rahm Emanuel in Chicago, have charged forward, too.

Clearly, many of the arguments against the public employee unions have great merit. Too often in the past, just as in the auto industry, management signed onto lavish deals underpinned by rosy economic scenarios that in today's environment just aren't affordable. Trims have to be made, starting with new employees. Among ardent school critics, it is now an article of faith that teachers' unions are also blocking serious progress in K-12 education; a film coming this fall, "Won't Back Down," is much anticipated by people who want an overhaul of the system and who see it as a good depiction of the problem.

But there is a difference between fixing what is broken in public employee unions and trying to destroy them. There was a time in our history when public unions were suspect -- Franklin D. Roosevelt himself once wrote that "the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into public service." In today's world, however, with growing inequalities in pay and business able to exercise so much power in politics, firefighters, police officers and teachers deserve a right to be represented, too.

For those of us who support charter schools and other K-12 changes, it is equally important to recognize that engaging in all-out war with teachers' unions will wind up punishing children more than anyone else. However many charter schools there are, the fact will remain that the vast majority of lower-income students will be taught by teachers who belong to unions. And that will be true as far as the eye can see. It is far better to find ways to collaborate than to waste time in search and destroy.

Emanuel is pointing the way forward in Chicago. He is cracking down on abuses -- a sanitation worker, for example, who was paid some $38,000 in the first four months of this year for overtime alone. But Emanuel is extending a hand, not a fist. "I'm not looking to beat labor. I want them to be a partner in solving" the city's problems, he told reporters.

A Walker victory on Tuesday would ignite fresh battles against the excesses of public employee unions. From them could come great progress -- as long as we don't forget to honor those who serve the public well.